ELEVEN STEPS ON THE SACRED PATH
TOWARD THE INTERFAITH
ON OCTOBER 8
1. Read the Call at http://www.theshalomcenter.org/node/1269 and share it with others. You can use the brief version you will find at the end of this letter. If you are the clergyperson of a congregation, place a phone call to and arrange to meet with the clergypersons or leaders of religious communities other than your own -- to explore arrangements such as those below. (If you are not clergy yourself, you could place the calls anyway or ask your clergyperson to do so.) Those who agree to plan this could become an informal "planning committee" for the event.
2. October 8 falls during Ramadan, when observant Muslims are already fasting each day and will break the fast (Iftar) after sunset. So it might be simplest for a mosque in your community to host a gathering during the day on October 7 – perhaps late afternoon – to hold a vigil or to pray together in the name of the One Compassionate God. The prayers might focus on the ending of bloodshed in Iraq, for the swift and safe return of US soldiers who are there, and for the end of street violence in America. If it is not workable for a mosque to host the event, arrange for a church or synagogue to do so.
3. If the communities agree on a vigil or similar sacred presence, one possible framework is using the Call to a Communal Fast in Time of Calamity, which is presented on the Web at –
4. Ask several well-known religious leaders, from a spectrum of religious communities, to speak within this framework.
5. Call and Email key media people by October 1 to inform them of the event and invite them to be present. Explain that parts of the event will be highly "telegenic" and explain who speakers will be.
6. Plan for the Iftar break-fast meal after sundown. It will be simplest to meet various dietary laws and traditions by agreeing to bring only vegetarian foods. Drinks should NOT include wine or other forms of alcohol. Ask households in the congregations that are sharing in this effort to bring pot-luck foods for the evening.
7. Once you have a clear picture of the plan, please go to the Website
and post the information there. THIS IS IMPORTANT BOTH BECAUSE IT WILL LET OTHERS IN YOUR VICINITY KNOW WHERE TO COME, AND BECAUSE YOUR PLANS WILL HELP STIR THE CREATIVE JUICES IN OTHER COMMUNITIES.
8. Send out word as soon as possible through all congregational bulletins that will agree to include it, about when and where and why people will be gathering on October 8. Use the brief version of the call you will find below, as a flyer. You might use the logo of the InterfaithFast Website in the flyer.
9. If possible before October 8, ask the planning committee to consider what the next INTERFAITH PEACEMAKING ACTION might be. Announce this at the gathering on October 8.
10. Invite those who gather to donate through a "collection plate" to meet whatever expenses you have had locally, and if possible devote one-tenth of that amount to meeting some of the expenses of the national effort. These donations (tax-deductible) can be sent to "Interfaith Fast," % The Shalom Center, 6711 Lincoln Drive, Philadelphia PA 19119. They will be used only to meet Interfaith Fast expenses.
11. Ask the planning committee to explore the possibility of creating a small ongoing interfaith group for a "Tent of Abraham, Hagar, and Sarah" that might meet either for an intensive weekend retreat or for a series of Sunday afternoons, to get to know each other and act together. See the chapter on "Pitching the Tent" in the book The Tent of Abraham (Beacon) for suggestions on doing this. Plan to use the book for adult education in various religious congregations. KEEP THE PROCESS GOING & GROWING.
INTERFAITH FAST, OCTOBER 8:
FROM CONQUEST TO COMMUNITY,
FROM VIOLENCE TO REVERENCE --
MAKE PEACE IN IRAQ
In grief we see that our culture, our society, our public policies, are honeycombed with violence. Daily murders in the streets of our cities, recurrrent mass murders in our schools, violence in our families, on our television programs, our films, our computer games –- and in Iraq.
On October 8 we will gather to focus on the last and bloodiest of these. We must end the shattering of Iraqi and American lives by offering American generosity and support -- but not control -- for international and nongovernmental efforts to assist Iraqis in making peace and rebuilding their country, while swiftly and safely bringing home all American troops.
Today we call for Americans to join in a fast from sunrise to sunset on Monday, October 8, to bring the spiritual renewal and empowerment of fasting to bear on healing ourselves
Just as Isaiah called the People Israel to hear the Yom Kippur fast as God's call to feed the hungry; just as Jesus fasted in the wilderness, just as Christians through Lenten fasting and Muslims through Ramadan fasting have focused on spiritual transformation, just as Mahatma Gandhi, Cesar Chavez and others drew on fasting to change the course of history, so we call on all our communities of faith to draw now on fasting as a path toward inner spiritual transformation and outward social transformation.
Ending this war can become the first step toward a policy and a society that embody a deeper, broader sense of generosity and community at home and in the world.
By turning away – even for a day -- from filling our bellies, we more easily open our souls to the One, our hearts to compassion, our minds to wisdom, and our hands to acts of peace.
Join us at ------------------ [time & place]