Thursday, November 29, 2007

Final Reflection for Turkey on Women and Religion

I think I am almost over my jetlag. Friends suggested that I try melantonin at bedtime, which seems to be helping.

I reported earlier on the anti-U.S. government tone at the meetings in Turkey. What I haven't written about was the anti-religion undertone.

I found myself one of the few women in the room to speak out for the positive role that mainstream to progressive religious leaders could play in countering religious fundamentalism and urging outreach to those faith communities. I was one of only two ordained clergy at the meeting, and it was a novely to be one of the most "conservative" voices in the room. (This is not a role that I usually assume at meetings!

Many of the activists in the room have given up on religion and indeed faith completely as a result of religious fundamentalists. We had shall we say lively conversations about whether faith has a role in the public square at all and about whether religion can have any positive impact in civil society.

It made me sad to see the positive impact that faith can have for people denigrated...and it made me proud of the work that my religion, Unitarian Universalism, is doing in the world. Most of the participants were unaware of my religion and curious (if not almost disbelieving) that we are a religion without creedal requirements and a commitment to full inclusion of women and LGBT persons.

Turkey is celebrating the 800 birthday of Rumi this year. I couldn't help but think of his lines, "Let the beauty you love be what you do. There are millions of ways to kneel and kiss the ground."

P.S. This past Sunday, there was an article in the New York Times that featured my presentation in New York a few weeks ago. You can read it at

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