Mondo Migliore Conference Center - somewhere outside Rome --
I haven't written for several days so this post is very long - my apologies -
Last Friday we hired a tour and went to the Vatican. Although the tour meant we didn’t wait in long lines to get into the Vatican Museum or the Sistine Chapel or St. Peter’s, we did not avoid crowds. I think everyone should visit the Vatican once – but unless it is a day when one can get inside without crowds, I would not recommend it for a second visit.
I was most impressed with St. Peter’s Basilica. When I taught design, I always included St. Peter’s in the church architecture unit, as it has so many beautiful design elements – seeing it and standing inside its beautiful marble columns alongside the incredible baldachin proved that no photograph can capture its beauty or the skilled craftsmen who created it.
Now it’s Monday evening of the second day of the conference. It has been a challenge to have time to write, and the only wireless connection is in the lobby of the conference center, so I will make this a long one, but hope to convey some of what is going on.
We arrived here at Mondo Migliore on Saturday after a very long drive from our bed and breakfast which was near the Vatican in Rome. We rode up a mountain road through a beautiful forest. The road was full of the hairpin turns one sees in a movie with someone driving a Lamborghini at 100 miles per hour. Thankfully our driver only went about 60. He found Castel Gandolfo, which is where the Pope frequently spends the summer. It over looks a beautiful lake, and the village that surrounds it is charming. However, that was not our destination.
Then our driver asked for instructions and we drove back down that road to the point where he had taken a wrong turn, and drove on to our center which also overlooks the same lake. This is a very large conference center which houses very small cell-like rooms with private baths that are really quite comfortable.
We began with a women’s pre-conference which gave us an opportunity to bond and connect with one another prior to the main conference. We have many New Thought ministers here, as well as women from all over the globe who are religious leaders, academics, activists, even a police sergeant from Denver who has a Doctorate in Social Psychology and is studying police culture. We found that most of us want to do more to support and empower the marginalized women of the world who do not have the advantages of western women. It is clear that their lives in so many cases are beyond difficult. We see and understand that those of us who live a life of privilege can and must find ways to raise up the level of education for women to allow them more opportunities economically. It is clear that educated mothers raise children who are less likely to turn to desperate measures in order to survive.
Now the Awakened World Conference is underway – we are here to explore four major areas in which we see change is taking place. They are Reconciling with the “Other,” Rediscovering the Sacred, Caring for the Earth Family, and Transforming Society. My area is “Reconciling with the ‘Other.” I’m co-facilitating with Kenn Gordon, who is the Spiritual Leader over all of our churches worldwide.
I iwlll save reporting on our dialogue sessions until a later blog when I can synthesize them better.
At this morning’s plenary session, we had several speakers – first being Marcus Braybrooke, a theologian from England – “Faith is a living relationship with the Divine – not a rote recitation of dogma. – Abandon the male image of God who only spoke once and then repeats over and over the same message.”
Joan Chittister – Benedictine nun and outspoken feminist critic of the Catholic church – “Women must be the ones to change the world. –Referring to inclusive language she said, “ Words that are not in the mind are words that are not in society.
Hyun Chung - Korean theologian and educator – “The Western view of the world has caused change – and a narrow vision of science – earth has been seen as an object to exploit. The new world view is that earth is a subject to commune with. There needs to be a feminist breakdown of hierarchy – and see earth as God’s dwelling place – learn from nature. Time for the rise of Yin energy with balance – and movement of inclusivity and economic justice.”
Jenny Joe – Native American Grandmother – Our responsibility is to be stewards of the land. Indigenous identity is the land – place where we are born, place where we go when we die. /animals do not draw lines (borders). Taking care of the land means restoring, repairing and blessing.
Brother Ishmael Tetteh – African spirituality – The sacred life is here as me – you – Discover the sacred in yourself and in all others.
Lawrence Carter – Professor of Theology– Morehouse College-“Rediscover the sacred assumes we were once familiar with it. Wherever you go, bestow and confer love – you create an affirming, positive atmosphere.”
Azim Khamisa – Sufi – Father of the boy who was shot delivering pizza to a group of young gang members – featured in film “The Power of Forgiveness” – When making a decision as to how to act, first go to the mind and ask, “Does this make sense?” Then go to the heart and ask, “Does this feel right?” Then go to Spirit and ask “Is this inspiring?” If you have answered yes to all three, it is a good thing to do.
There is so much more I could write about, but it is late and you have more than enough to read. I will write again when possible.
It is chilly and raining here, and I understand it is still hot in LA – could you please send us a little sunshine, and we will happily trade a little rain and cooler air.
I send my love, my blessings, and arrivederci!