Posted by: smstrouse | October 23, 2015

My Top 10 Parliament Moments

photo2-224x300Now that the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions is over, I’m reflecting back on the whole experience. There were so many facets: seeing old friends, making new connections, having fun, being inspired, feeling awe, experiencing hope, being challenged to work together for the good of the whole world.  Here are my Top 10 Moments which include all of the above:

10.  Orion in a turban (Orion Pitts: music director & administrative assistant at First United Lutheran Church)


9.  Meeting these young whirling Dervishes





8. Joyful dancing with the Hare Krishnas and Journey Dancing on my birthdayIMG_0582
(See my Hare Krishna video at





7. Jane Goodall!!!






6.  Workshop: “Kill Them (Qur’an); Do Not Spare Them (Torah); and CasKaren-Armstrong-520t Them into Everlasting Fire (New Testament): Context of Difficult Religious Texts.” Panelists addressed the “texts of terror” in the Abrahamic traditions. Karen Armstrong and Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb were great, but the best quote was from Jonathan Brown, director of the Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. He wisely advised us on how to deal with all these problematic passages: “Stop taking them literally!

5.  The presence of women . .



IMG_0572and the indigenous people of Utah









4.  Workshop:  #Black Lives Matter with Rev. Michael McBride (The Way Christian Center in Berkeley), Rev. Francis Davis (Calvary Baptist, Salt Lake City) and Rev. Jim Wallace (Sojourners)2015-10-19-1445252541-6725089-blacklivesmatterpanel-thumb





3.  Langar: what more can be said about the hospitality, generosity and spiritual wonderfulness of the Sikh people? IMG_053910463889_10207819092860312_8127650248499207495_nA beautiful experience!!



IMG_05582.  Making connections with people doing the same kind of work I want to do in intrafaith theology: Moses Penumaka (Pacific LutheranIMG_0612 Theological Seminary) and Shanta Premawardhana (Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education in Chicago)




1.  Having the opportunity and privilege of presenting my workshop, “The Intrafaith Conversation: How Do We Talk Among Ourselves about InterfaithMatters?” to around 40 people and receiving wonderful affirmation for my forthcoming book.


Next Parliament will be in two years. I’m going to start saving now. I wouldn’t miss another experience like this for the world!


  1. I share quite a few of those top moments and have some unique ones of my own. But I, too, was moved and very encouraged by the omnipresence throughout the week of Indigenous Peoples from Utah and on up into Canada. The Dalai Lama says that the Chinese today have built up, and are continuing to do, a massive burden of negative karma within themselves in the treatment of the people and land of Tibet, and that it will take many generations of intentional effort to overcome and dispel the damage that is being done. So it is with those of us who are descendants of the Europeans who came here and raped, pillaged, and stole the land and incarcerated its people under a smokescreen of “desire for religious freedom”. We have many generations to go in atoning for the heinous acts that were done.


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