motivation to succeed

“One day, a student of Socrates asked his venerable teacher how to become wise. Socrates led the student to a nearby lake and the two entered the water. Then, he held the student’s head under the surface as the frantic young man fought wildly. Finally, Socrates freed him. The young man gasped and gulped. Socrates watched calmly and said, “When you desire wisdom with the same intensity that you desire to breathe, then nothing will stop you from getting it.”

Socrates is right, the motivation to succeed comes from within us.

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Ask the Religion Experts: How can we improve interfaith dialogue?


Rev. RAY INNEN PARCHELO is a novice Tendai priest and founder of the Red Maple Sangha, the first lay Buddhist community in Eastern Ontario.

It hasn’t always been fashionable to consider seriously faiths other than one’s own. My co-worker remembers telling a friend and church-mate that she was soon to marry but not in their small-town church. In total surprise, the friend asked of the groom, “Well, what is he then?” In their one-church community, it seemed unimaginable that someone might worship elsewhere. Now, in our increasingly diverse nation, we are all usually members of one or another minority faith, and “What is he?” is more often the default question.

The Christian-Buddhist dialogue movement has grown over the past few decades, as these different faiths recognize the benefit of learning from each other. In Buddhism and Christianity in Dialogue, Perry Schmidt-Leukel proposes three phases of interfaith engagement. At the lowest and least useful level, the one most like adolescent high-school debates, each side presents their faith. They analyse, criticize and challenge (even mock or condemn) the other, trying to prove how their faith is vastly superior. Claims of superior logic on one hand or supreme power of one’s “book” on the other, keeps both sides from really learning much. The next level is where the mocking or combative element disappears and there is some attempt to learn, but always from the safe assumption that “my faith is the true one.” This is mere tolerance. The third and most useful kind of interfaith dialogue is open to gaining new insights about one`s own faith by practising and studying with others in their faith. This Schmidt-Leukel describes as “the challenge of mutual transformation.”

Interfaith dialogue will improve when the participants in that dialogue move beyond self-promotion and self-defence. The entire project of faith activity is one of opening ourselves up to new and deeper understandings, and in that there can be little room for the kind of smug defensiveness or bitter attacks that hobble too many contemporary interfaith endeavours. Doubt, risk, open investigation at the intellectual level and sincere, respectful sharing at the spiritual level belong in religious dialogue. A closed mind and a closed heart are signs of spiritual stagnation, not vitality.

Rev. GEOFFREY KERSLAKE is a priest of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Ottawa.

Genuine interfaith dialogue hinges on respecting the freedom of the participants to hold their respective beliefs. It is not about trying to synthesize a “common religion” out of the beliefs of different communities because to have a genuine dialogue everyone must be prepared to respect each community’s teachings. Interfaith dialogue fails when participants try to use it as an opportunity to “convert” their dialogue partners. In 1984, Professor Leonard Swidler of Temple University wrote an article in which he outlined “Ten Commandments” of

From the milk of human kindness ~

Teaching the Beatitudes – We are slow to learn and understand what is really important

Jesus took his disciples up on the mountain and gathered them around him. And he taught them, saying “Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are those who are persecuted. Blessed are those who suffer. When these things happen, rejoice, for your reward will be great in heaven.”

And Simon Peter said, “Do we have to write this down?”
And Phillip said “Is this going to be on the test?”
And John said, “Would you repeat that, slower?”
And Andrew said, “John the Baptist’s disciples don’t have to learn Continue reading

Supreme Court Takes Up Church Employment Disputes and the “Ministerial Exception” – Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

FROM: Pew Forum

On Oct. 5, 2011, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that could help determine how much latitude religious organizations have in making employment decisions about clergy and others who perform religious duties. The case centers on a legal doctrine known as the “ministerial exception.” The Supreme Court has never expressly ruled on the doctrine, but judges in lower federal courts have used it to exempt religious organizations from anti-discrimination laws and other statutes that regulate how employers treat their workers. These decisions have emphasized that courts should not intervene in employment matters when doing so would require them to evaluate the qualifications or performance of employees who carry out religious functions, such as preaching or leading worship. In Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, the Supreme Court will decide whether a teacher who devoted part of her day to religious duties should be considered a ministerial employee in a wrongful dismissal suit. More importantly, Hosanna-Taboroffers the court an opportunity to shrink or expand the reach of the ministerial exception, thereby putting its stamp on an important doctrine that has been applied in different ways by lower federal and state courts.

How did this case arise, and how did it reach the Supreme Court?

The Hosanna-Tabor grade school in Redford, Mich., was operated by a congregation affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS). (The congregation closed the school in 2009.) Like other schools run by the LCMS, Hosanna-Tabor employed two types of teachers: lay teachers, who were hired by school administrators to serve one-year, renewable contracts; and “called” teachers, who were approved by the congregation and hired on an open-ended basis.

The notion of being “called” has deep roots in Christianity. It refers to the belief that certain individuals are chosen by the church to perform religiously important tasks or roles. In the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, teachers can be called only after they meet specific requirements, notably the completion of significant theological and other coursework. Even then, someone can be called to teach only by a vote of the congregation for whom he or she will work. Once a teacher is called to his or her position, he or she is deemed to be a “commissioned minister,” a position without the preaching or sacramental duties of ordained ministers but with important religious functions.

Teacher Cheryl Perich received her call from the Hosanna-Tabor congregation in 2000. Perich taught her fourth-grade students a range of secular subjects, including math, social studies and music. She also taught religion four days a week, regularly led her students in prayer and in a daily devotional, and planned and led worship services – duties also assigned to lay or contract teachers at the school.

In June 2004, Perich was hospitalized for what was eventually diagnosed as narcolepsy, a chronic sleep disorder that can make people fall asleep at inappropriate times. During the first months of her illness, Perich was put on disability leave, given full pay and benefits, and told that she would have a job when she returned. In December 2004, Perich’s doctor informed her that she would be able to return to work in two to three months, information that Perich passed along to school administrators. However, around this time, the school hired another instructor to teach Perich’s class for the remainder of the academic year. In addition, school officials expressed concern that Perich would not be able to fulfill her duties if she returned, a judgment ratified first by the school’s board and then by the Hosanna-Tabor congregation.

On Jan. 30, 2005, the school, citing concerns about her health, asked Perich to voluntarily resign her call. Perich refused, reiterated that she was ready to report back to work and even showed up for work one day – without the school’s permission. During this time, Perich also said that if the dispute could not be resolved, she would take legal action under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which prohibits all but the smallest employers from discriminating against people with disabilities. The act also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who attempt to assert their rights under the act.

On April 10, 2005, the Hosanna-Tabor congregation voted to rescind Perich’s call, citing a number of factors, including continuing concerns about her health and ability to function as a teacher. The church also said it wanted to be fair to the teacher who had been hired to replace her and who would have to be let go if Perich resumed her duties. In addition, the congregation claimed that it was troubled by Perich’s threats to sue, especially given that the church has long taught that Christians should resolve disputes internally rather than in the courts.  (Perich would later say that she was never informed about the church’s internal dispute-resolution process.)

On May 15, 2005, Perich filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging that Hosanna-Tabor’s actions violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. The EEOC and Perich then filed suit in federal district court alleging that the church had retaliated against Perich – in violation of the ADA – by rescinding her call after it learned that she had a disability and was contemplating legal action. On Oct. 23, 2008, the district court decided Continue reading

Be Present!

Present!             Present!               Present!          Present!               Present! 

Present!               Present!              Present!            Present!

Present!            Present!             Present!              Present!            Present! 


Present!                  Present!

Present!              Present! 

I’m Beautiful!: Finding Grace in Everyday Moments

Every so often I read something I wrote some time ago and it brings back special memories. This is one of those posts. So, to all of my Emmaus sisters ~ You are so very beautiful to me and to God! And I love you with the love of the Lord.

I finally sat down and had a cup of tea today after having spent the weekend with a number of my sisters in Christ and two special brothers in Christ. Many of us came weary and burdened, full of the junk we carry in our lives. It was a long weekend filled with unloading baggage, and picking up pieces of our lives. I needed to spend some time in rest. So, I had a cup of tea.

In that cup of tea, I found a beautiful moment with my Lord and Savior. I found the rest and the peace I needed.

The Tea Cup

There was a couple that used to go England to shop in a beautiful antique store. This trip was to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. They both liked antiques and pottery, and especially teacups. Spotting an exceptional cup, they asked, “May we see that? We’ve never seen a cup quite so beautiful.”

As the sales lady handed it to them, suddenly the teacup spoke up, “You don’t understand!” it said, “I have not always been a tea-cup. There was a time when I was just a lump of red clay. My master took me and rolled me, pounded and patted me over and over and I yelled out, ‘Don’t do that. I don’t like it! Let me alone,’ but he only smiled, and gently said; ‘Not yet!!'”

“Then. WHAM! I was placed on a spinning wheel and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. ‘Stop it! I’m getting so dizzy! I’m going to be sick!’ I screamed. But the master only nodded and said, quietly;’ Not yet.’ Continue reading

Have our prayers been answered? We have World Peace!?!

We have World Peace: Ron Artest gets name change.

The most ballyhooed name change of the year became official Friday morning when a Los Angeles County Superior Court commissioner approved the former Ron Artest‘s request to become Metta World Peace. Amid labor discord that threatens to delay, if not wipe out, the NBA season, there is World Peace.

Anyone now making his acquaintance will be meeting Metta World Peace. Those on a first-name basis can call him Metta, while those a little further removed can buy jerseys with his last name of World Peace stretched across the back.

The most ballyhooed name change of the year became official Friday morning when a Los Angeles County Superior Court commissioner approved the former Ron Artest’s request.

World Peace was expected to attend the hearing, but about an hour after the court doors opened, his attorney, Nahla Rajan, announced that the Lakers forward was not coming. A few minutes later, Commissioner Matthew C. St. George approved the name change in a hearing that lasted about 30 seconds.

St. George: “Mr. Artest has requested a name change to Metta World Peace?”

Rajan: “Yes, your honor.”

St. George: “And it’s for personal reasons, he said?”

Rajan: “Yes, your honor.”

St. George: “OK. All right. He’ll now be known as Metta World Peace. Thank you.”

World Peace’s publicist, Courtney Barnes, said his client had been contemplating the switch for years, “but it took many years of research and soul-searching to find a first name that was both personally meaningful and inspirational.” Metta is a Buddhist term that means loving kindness and friendliness toward others.

“Changing my name was meant to inspire and bring youth together all around the world,” World Peace said in a statement. “I’m glad that it is now official.”

World Peace had hoped to adopt his new moniker last month but was rebuffed because of an outstanding traffic ticket. He was cited for driving without a license and faced an additional charge after missing a court date, Rajan said.

Ticket paid, World Peace can now reign.

And it may be spreading fast. Barnes confirmed reports that World Peace’s 8-year-old daughter, Diamond, wants to adopt her father’s new surname.

“They wanted to wait until this was fully done before” starting the process, Barnes said.

Rajan said changing the name of a child requires the consent of both parents.

World Peace must now obtain a new driver’s license and passport. Barnes said his client would more fully explain his name change Monday when he appears on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

Though World Peace was not required to attend Friday’s hearing, Barnes said his client was on his way a few minutes before the court session was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Artest’s name was listed first on the docket.

When World Peace had not arrived by 9:30, St. George told others waiting to have their names changed that he would hear their cases first. Shortly thereafter, Rajan said her client was not coming.

Asked why World Peace had not come, Barnes said, “He’s got a jam-packed schedule based on ‘Dancing With the Stars.'”