Monday, December 29, 2008

What does peace mean…and how can it begin with you?

By Rev. John-Brian Paprock for Capital Newspapers
Originally appeared in the Holiday Worship Directory, Sunday, December 21, 2008

“Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” – Sy Miller and Jill Jackson

The dove of peace has become a symbol of this time of year, adorning cards and decorating trees. Peace is an absence and a fullness. It is the hope of all at war and strife, and it is a spiritual promise. Here are the voices of a diverse collection of Madison-area spiritual leaders who were asked what “peace” means to them.

“Peace is the capacity of persons and groups with different values and worldviews to coexist constructively and contribute in a positive and meaningful manner to the health and welfare of their community. Peace begins when I become aware of and sensitive to how my choices and preferences impact others.”

- Rev. Lamarr V. Gibson, pastor, Stoughton United Methodist Church

“Peace is about the service you give to others. A basic tenet of my faith is 'As Within, So Without,' meaning literally that to see peace in this world, you must find peace within yourself, and then present it to those around you.”

- Rev. Tina Miller, senior minister, Tiger's Eye Temple

“Peace has been defined negatively as ‘the absence of war.’ Even then, individuals may not enjoy the experience of peace. We have created a society where “attack ads” sully election campaigns, where litigation is routinely used to solve social and interpersonal problems and where the individual’s competitive impulses are permitted full expression in practically every sphere of life. It shouldn’t surprise us, then, that so many people feel disquieted, agitated, fearful and defensive…. Peace activism and the practice of mediation are important. So is the exchange of collaborative for competitive cultural activities. But unaccompanied by a softening of our collective heart, nothing will really change and peace will remain little more than the absence of war.”

- Rev. Michael Schuler, senior minister, First Unitarian Society
“I see world peace as part of God’s plan, an inevitable development in the maturing of human society. Baha’u’llah’s Writings give me guidance and opportunities to work for peace and unity by bringing together the diversity of our one human family, by working for gender equality, and by meeting in friendship with various religious groups.”

- Ellie Jacobi, Madison Baha’i Assembly secretary
“ParamAtma resides in everyone's heart. He has given us the wisdom to decide whether to take refuge in Him or to embrace the unlimited circle of Birth & Death (Maya). Taking refuge in Him can achieve supreme peace and in turn help lead to peace in the community, state, nation and the world.”

- Krishna Sijapati, Hindu Dharma Circle
“Peace for me personally is when my inner spirit has the deep assurance that I am forgiven for the failures of my past, and am filled with hope when considering the unknown of the future. When I am at peace with who I am as a beloved child of God, I am free to love all those around me with a peaceful spirit of loving-kindness.”

- Rev. Juliana Lesher, chaplain, William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital
“‘As-salaamu ‘alaykum;’ This is the customary greetings amongst believers in the Islamic tradition, and its meaning in the Arabic language is: “May peace be upon you all.” The very word “Al-Islam” itself is derived from the Arabic word for peace, which is ‘salaam.’ Peace is the very essence of the Islamic spiritual tradition and all spiritual paths. May God Almighty unite us all together, standing against violence and inhumanity.”

- Abdessamad Mason Zantow, member, Madison Islamic community
"Peacemaking is not an optional commitment. It is a requirement of our faith. We are called to be peacemakers, not by some movement of the moment, but by our Lord Jesus. Peace starts in my family and moves across the world by loving and respecting every person, no matter what border they live within. Working for justice means I'm working for peace.”

- Susanna D. Herro, director, Office of Justice and Pastoral Outreach, Catholic Diocese of Madison

In the midst of all the stresses and distractions of winter in Wisconsin, may each of us find some peace - enough to share with others. +

[Rev. John-Brian is priest/vicar of Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Mission in Madison, as well as the director of Inroads Interfaith Ministry.][All photo images in this article were submitted for use.]

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  • Interfaith Awareness Week celebrates a decade of tolerance

    Interfaith Awareness Week celebrates a decade of tolerance
    By A. David Dahmer
    The Madison Times - December 2008

    Orthodox Christians, Mennonites, Unitarian Universalists, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and more came together to celebrate "A Decade of a Week of Awareness: Interfaith Awareness Week" Dec. 7-13 at the state Capitol. Various displays in the Wisconsin Capitol Rotunda, titled "World Religions in Wisconsin," showcased the diversity of faith traditions in the area.

    The Rev. John Brian Paprock, who serves as the organizer of Interfaith Awareness Week and is a priest at Holy Transfiguration Malankara Orthodox Mission, gave the keynote address at the Interfaith Celebration at the Capitol Dec. 10, which marked the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the 10th anniversary of Interfaith Awareness Week in Wisconsin.

    "The idea of fundamental human rights is not 60 years old," Paprock said. "However, we acknowledge and celebrate the 60th anniversary of a universal declaration of human rights that was attested and affirmed by the fledgling United Nations in 1948. The idea of basic human rights is as old as humanity, from the time of a shared common existence in this world, with its equal-opportunity problems."

    The first Interfaith Awareness Week Proclamation was signed by then Gov. Tommy Thompson in 1998 and has been proclaimed every year since. Paprock says Wisconsin was the first state in the USA to make such a proclamation.

    "Sixty years ago, a declaration of common human rights was affirmed by people from all over the face of the earth; by people speaking different languages, having different cultural and religious traditions," Paprock said. "If Babel was a wounding of humanity by breaking up a unified people, perhaps this declaration is a healing ointment. After 60 years of such a global declaration; after 10 years of such an awareness week, we still have a long way to go."

    Before Paprock spoke, the Interfaith Awareness Week Proclamation was read aloud and Sunil Sankara, Kathak Hindu dance from North India, performed.

    "Here we are in the present, gathered from all over the world, in a secular common building, still struggling to understand one another," Paprock said. "Our focus has shifted. We are not so much interested in building a tower to heaven, but rather in building bridges. Bridges built upon universal human rights connect scattered peoples across chasms of diversity.

    "I believe every bridge that we build makes a better world for all of us. Maybe we have needed to be separated by languages and cultures and distances in order to spiritually develop into the divinity for which we have been created," Paprock added. "For in the struggles to understand, we learn empathy. In the difficulties to tolerate differences, we learn mercy. In the extraordinary encounter with those that are different than ourselves, we encounter a transcendent divinity that is greater than us all."

    Full Text of Key Note Address:

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  • Wednesday, December 17, 2008

    Capital City Hues article on Interfaith Awareness Week

    Capital City Hues ~ publication: December 11, 2008
    Interfaith Awareness Week 2008:
    Religions celebrate human rights
    by Laura Salinger (also photos by L. Salinger)

    Full Text of Key Note Address:

  • Buy "Neighbors, Strangers and Everyone Else" a book by Rev John Brian Paprock
  • Friday, December 12, 2008

    Capitol Celebration - Part 1

    7th Annual Interfaith Celebration at the Capitol - Part 1
    December 10, 2008 ~ Wisconsin Capitol, Madison, Wisconsin

    Dialogue International member, Mehmet, opened with the Call to Prayer in Arabic.

    The Governor's Proclamation of Interfaith Awareness Week in Wisconsin was read by Madison Baha'i leader, Ellie Jacobi.

    Anne Wynne was this year's MC and led the celebration in singing with Women With Wings.

    Women with Wings, whose songs draw on the Sufi Order of the West teaching and spirituality, open the capitol events with a singing prelude. They also sang at the closing (see also Part 3).

  • Buy "Neighbors, Strangers and Everyone Else" a book by Rev John Brian Paprock
  • Capitol Celebration - Part 2

    7th Annual Interfaith Celebration at the Capitol ~ Part 2
    December 10, 2008 ~ Wisconsin Capitol, Madison, Wisconsin

    Sunil Sankara offered a Kathak Hindu Dance from North India (sponsored by the American Hindu Association - Wisconsin)

    Reverend Tina Miller, Tiger Ey's Temple, gave a winter solstice blessing for human rights and then was joined by the Solstice Singers, which includes members from various Wisconsin pagan communities.

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  • Capitol Celebration - Part 3

    7th Annual Interfaith Celebration at the Capitol
    December 10, 2008 ~ Wisconsin Capitol, Madison, Wisconsin
    Part 3 - Key Note and Closing

    HUMAN RIGHTS AND SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT: Rev Fr John Brian Paprock. The text of the key note address on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of UN Declaration of Human Rights ~ 10th Anniversary of Interfaith Awareness Week in Wisconsin ~ 7th Annual Interfaith Celebration at the Capitol ~ is posted at Spiritual Reflections of Fr John Brian

    Closing ceremony was led by Anne Wynne and Women with Wings. Anne acknowledged the election of Barack Hussein Obama as president as a dream realized. Celebration participants and some of the audience joined hands and joined the singing of "We Shall Overcome."

    The first decade of a week of awareness ends and another chapter begins.......

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  • Thursday, December 11, 2008

    INTERFAITH AWARENESS WEEK ends at new Hindu center

    You are cordially invited with family and friends for this special


    Venue: Hindu Temple and Cultural Center of Wisconsin

    2138 S Fish Hatchery Rd, Fitchburg, WI 53575
    Program: Saturday, December 13, 2008 10:00AM - 12:00 noon
    For more information, please contact:
    Rita : 848-9046 Amit : 772-0858 Bahee: 234-8634
    Amit Mangar

  • Buy "Neighbors, Strangers and Everyone Else" a book by Rev John Brian Paprock
  • Interfaith Awareness Week continues at Circle

    From: Selena Fox

    Please add to Open Houses in the program activities for Interfaith Awareness
    Week this year:

    Friday, December 12: Circle Sanctuary Open House with Yuletide Full Moon
    Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve near Barneveld, Wisconsin
    7 - 9 pm, free, open to the public.

    Everyone is welcome

    Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve
    PO Box 9, Barneveld, WI 53507, USA
    telephone: (608) 924-2216
    fax: (608) 924-5961

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  • Tuesday, December 09, 2008

    Interfaith Perspectives on Human Rights - special meeting

    "Interfaith Perspectives on Human Rights"
    Special Meeting of Madison Interfaith Dialogue
    (founded in 1987, it is one of the longest and continuous interfaith dialoguegroups in the country)

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008
    9:30 - 11:30 am (just before Interfaith Awareness Week Noon program)
    Wisconsin State Capitol, Room 330

  • Buy "Neighbors, Strangers and Everyone Else" a book by Rev John Brian Paprock

    Seventh Annual Capitol Celebration
    ~ Wisconsin State Capitol, Madison ~
    12:00 pm, Wednesday, December 10, 2008
    United Nations Human Rights Day


    Call to Prayer (Arabic)
    Dialogue International, Muslim

    Anne Wynne
    Co-Coordinator, Interfaith Awareness Week;
    Vice-Chair, Greater Madison Inter-religious Association; Wisconsin Satsang (Eckankar)

    Proclamation read aloud

    Sponsored by American Hindu Association

    Tina Miller, Tiger’s Eye Temple

    A Wassailing Song ~ Holly and Ivy
    Michael Doran & Members of Circle Sanctuary, Temple of Diana, Tiger’s Eye Temple

    Reverend Father John-Brian Paprock
    Priest, Holy Transfiguration Malankara Orthodox Mission, Madison
    Director, Inroads Interfaith Ministry; Co-Coordinator, Interfaith Awareness Week

    Anne Wynne

  • Buy "Neighbors, Strangers and Everyone Else" a book by Rev John Brian Paprock
  • Monday, December 08, 2008

    Interfaith Awareness Week: Baha'i Open House Cancelled

    **Tuesday's Baha'i Open House is cancelled because of the anticipated snowstorm. Watch for an invitation to a future event at the Baha'i Center.**

    Thanks so much for your encouragement and help.

  • Buy "Neighbors, Strangers and Everyone Else" a book by Rev John Brian Paprock
  • Sunday, December 07, 2008


    During Interfaith Awareness Week, for the 7th year running, the holiday tree will be joined by displays of World Religions in Wisconsin. Representatives from the religious tradition take on the responsibility of presenting their faith tradition in the capitol rotunda. This year, over 20 displays will be up from December 8 through December 12. Set up will begin first thing Monday morning. Here is a list of probable displays – in no particular order.

    This year, the Interfaith Awareness Week displays are:

    11th Annual Interfaith Awareness Week Proclamations*
    American Hindu Association – Wisconsin*
    Beloved Community*
    Christian Science
    Deer Park Tibetan Buddhist Center
    Dialogue International*
    Episcopal Church in Wisconsin
    Greater Madison Interreligious Association*
    Multifaith Calendar by Inroads Interfaith Ministry*
    Native American
    Orthodox Christianity in Wisconsin*
    Presbyterian Church in Wisconsin
    Roman Catholic Church in Wisconsin
    Sufi Order of the West
    Unitarian Universalist
    United Methodist Church in Wisconsin*
    Unity of Wisconsin
    Yuletide by Circle Sanctuary and other area Pagan groups*

    (*installed before 10am 12-08-08; others may have been installed since)

    In addition, we acknowledge the “Holiday Tree;” the Freedom from Religion Foundation Solstice declaration; the Dane County Evangelicals Jesus declaration and the Hanukkah Menorah (which may be in the capitol at toward end of the month) that inspire and complement the intent and purpose of Interfaith Awareness Week.

  • Buy "Neighbors, Strangers and Everyone Else" a book by Rev John Brian Paprock
  • Saturday, December 06, 2008


    From: Anne Wynne
    You are warmly invited to join the Madison Eckankar Communitiy for an ECK Worship Service followed by fellowship and a Pot Luck Lunch.  
    ECK Worship Service
    Date: 12/07/2008

    Sunday, Dec. 7, 10:30 am
    "How Do I Establish my Spiritual Connections?"
    Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center, 953 Jenifer St
    An Eck Worship service is an opportunity to learn more about the Light and Sound of God, to enjoy spiritual fellowship and share our experiences. Most of all, it is an opportunity to experience God's Love
    For more information about local Eckankar activities, including Worship Services

  • Buy "Neighbors, Strangers and Everyone Else" a book by Rev John Brian Paprock
  • Tuesday, December 02, 2008



    5, 2008

    Peace be with you. I am attaching the event's flier (see image here) which
    includes all details for the UW Campus event. I also want to invite you and
    your family to this "Jesus in Quran" event. Speaker will be Prof. Zeki
    Saritoprak from John Carroll University.

    Mehmet, UW Dialogue International ~

  • Buy "Neighbors, Strangers and Everyone Else" a book by Rev John Brian Paprock
  • Help Write Charter for Compassion -- On Line Now


    I would like to call your attention to a very interesting project, conceived
    by Karen Armstrong, to collectively write (on line) a Charter for
    Compassion. Some of you may have already heard about it.

    The time is now -- in the next few weeks -- if you would like to contribute.

    Everyone is invited to help write the Charter for Compassion.


  • Buy "Neighbors, Strangers and Everyone Else" a book by Rev John Brian Paprock