Quaker Universalist Conversations

“State of Formation” Nurtures Future Interfaith Leaders

The “State of Formation” is an exciting new program initiated by the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue, Hebrew College, Andover Newton Theological School, and the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions to nurture the next generation of religious and spiritual leaders. This program along with other interfaith news items appeared in the following online newsletter of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. I would like to add that the PEW foundation funded 100 seminarians from various schools to attend the Melbourne Parliament gathering, a crash course in the interfaith movement that will no doubt be remembered for the rest of their lives. It is my hope that Quaker religion students from ESR, Guilford, and elsewhere will be part of the next global gathering of the Parliament of the World’s Religions.—Anthony Manousos

State of Formation
A New Forum of Emerging Leaders 

Current discourse on religion and ethics is primarily defined by established leaders—ministers, rabbis, academics and journalists. There is an entire population of important stakeholders without a platform: the up-and-comers. 

To remedy this, the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue, Hebrew College, Andover Newton Theological School, and the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions have joined forces to create State of Formation, a forum for up-and-coming religious thinkers to draw upon the learning that is occurring in their academic and community work, reflect on the pressing questions of a religiously pluralistic society, and challenge existing religious assumptions. 

State of Formation is a community conversation between leaders in formation. Together, a cohort of seminarians, rabbinical students, graduate students, activists and the like—the future religious and moral leaders of tomorrow—are working to redefine the ethical discourse today.

Writers for State of Formation will demonstrate candor and respect, and State of Formation’s content will reflect the diversity of budding religious and ethical leadership in America and the particular learning that only occurs in religious and philosophical education. Above all, its contributors will address the pressing ethical issues of our pluralistic world.

The Council is excited to be a part of this cutting-edge work.  Below you will find a small sample of the conversations that are happening on State of Formation.  Over the coming weeks, you’ll be able to meet these scholars and engage their work more directly on PeaceNext.org.

Click here to visit State of Formation.


Muslim-Christian Relations in Pakistan
by Zahid Shahab Ahmed

While growing up in Lala Musa (Gujrat, Punjab) and Islamabad in Pakistan, I  witnessed Christians as domestic workers in my home and neighborhood. This job is considered to be one of the lowest forms of work and includes cleaning, washing and cooking. In my youth, due to lack of exposure, I had a feeling that all Christians were economically disadvantaged. But similar to most of the kids my age, I never bothered to think of the reasons behind their economic marginalization. Read More…  


Harry Potter and Religious Pluralism
by Honna Eichler

Inspired by Julie Clawson’s Sojourners post, Harry Potter and Social Justice, and still captivated by the recent movie release (which, yes, I did see at 12:01am), I sit here to write what this story has to offer our conversations. Essentially, it is a story portraying the power of self-actualized love against the evil sprung from self-obsession. Read More…  



I’m Wondering If I Might Sit and Listen To You For a While…?
by Karen Leslie Hernandez

Last week, as I was driving from Georgetown, Texas to the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport, I noted that I would drive through Waco. As many know, Waco is now associated with the terrible events of 1993 when the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms served a warrant on the Branch Davidian compound and to David Koresh, their leader.  Read More…  


Nature vs. Culture?
by Adina Allen

This week in our year-long class on Exodus our discussion focused on Moshe’s identity struggle as played out by his early forays out into the broader world, being incensed by the injustice all around him, wondering which side he is on and in to which world he belongs. Read More…  



Interreligious Dialogue, take 2
by Brandon Turner

Why did an individual who has never blogged, tweeted, or facebooked (is this the term?) decide to apply to a new interreligious initiative that will exist almost exclusively in the online world? Great question. 

Admittedly, I am this individual who, until 2 weeks ago, never did anything online. But, when I received an email (ok, so I did email…) from a friend about the soon to be launched “State of Formation,” I eagerly jumped in. Read More…


To be, or not to be…an atheist
by Allana Taylor

Labels are cumbersome. To self-identify as an atheist, or a Jew, or a Hindu, or a Muslim, and so on, requires that you accept ownership of all that is attached to that label. It is wholly irrelevant whether or not you personally accept the burden of your label, it has been hoisted upon you and strapped down with steel chains by those around you. At least it feels this way sometimes, doesn’t it? Read More…  






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