“Gifts of Spirit and Caregiving” - Peter Gudaitis on Faith Leadership and Disaster Response

September 10, 2016

 

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MaggiVan Dorn talks with Peter Gudaitis

In the wake of the 9/11tragedy fifteen years ago, an organization called New York Disaster InterfaithServices (NYDIS) came together to coordinate disaster relief.  Since thattime, NYDIS has grown and gone on to provide relief after Hurricane Sandy andother disasters.  In this episode of our free podcast series “NYC Faith Leaders,” Maggi Van Dorn talks with Peter B.Gudaitis, Chief Response Officer of NYDIS, about the challenges of coordinatingdisaster relief in a city comprised of hundreds of separate cultural and faithcommunities, and how to train religious leaders to provide emergency responseto a multi-faith population. 

Highlights:

On the current state ofnational disaster relief: "Inthe United States, when a disaster happens, only citizens and green cardholders can get federal disaster assistance… you could be in legal immigrantstatus but not qualify for federal assistance or state assistance."

On the importance of religious diversity literacy: "Is the city prepared to feed [peoplevegetarian, halal or kosher meals]?  Do our medical professionalsunderstand the prohibitions against different genders touching one another? Doour shelters have the ability to shelter men and women separately, or women andchildren separately from men? The answer today quite frankly is no."

On recent advancements in disaster relief: Sincethe Obama administration, F.E.M.A. has adopted something called whole communitydoctrine, which in short means that government needs to be prepared to supportthe needs of all communities at the local level, and not just the majority …that means marginalized communities, non-English speaking communities, thepoor, the well-resourced … men, women, children, gay communities, straightcommunities, all of that."

On the unfortunate reportsof judgmental chaplains at the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting: "If you don’t see the personyou’re caring for as a whole person, if you see the part of them that you findsinful as something that you have to make some sort of navigating decisionsaround, you’re not fully present for that person, and they’re going to be ableto tell."

On disaster chaplains: "Disaster spiritual care isan expertise that has to be taught and learned and practiced … it’s not a giftof the spirit in and of itself.  Certainly since 9/11 there have beensignificant changes in the application of emotional and spiritual care … it'sbeen more structured … it's kind of like the distinction between graduatingfrom medical school and being a brain surgeon.  You might have the basicsbut you really have to develop and practice an expertise."

We hope you will not justlisten to this series, but download the podcasts to hear while driving,jogging, or washing the dishes.  And subscribe in order to be alerted whennew installments are available.  It’s a great way to learn about thefaiths of our New York City neighbors.

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Part 1: “The Natural Tendency of the Soul” – Nitin Ajmera on Jainism, Nonviolence, and the Human Struggle for Virtue

August 21, 2016

 

Maggi Van Dorn talks with Nitin Ajmera

 

In this episode of our free podcast series “NYC Faith Leaders,” Maggi Van Dorn talks with Nitin Ajmera, former president of the Jain Center of America, located in Elmhurst, Queens.  In this richly informative and entertaining two-part interview, Mr. Ajmera describes the origins of Jainism (one of the oldest religions in the world), and speaks about the three main principals of the Jain faith: devotion to nonviolence (Ahimsa), a rejection of possessiveness (Aparigraha), and embracing the understanding that there are multiple paths that lead to establishment of the truth (Anekantvada). His engaging talk is a rare and valuable opportunity to learn about Jainism and how Jain belief and practice can enlighten world views on Climate Change, vegetarianism, moral responsibility, and much more. 

 

On the doctrine of non-violence known as “ahimsa”: “It is beyond killing of a physical, visible form … ahimsa is like nonviolence in thought, action and speech.”

On diversity: “The identity of a group has to be maintained but as long as we acknowledge that identity allows us to see a different kind of bloom in our garden… it’s beautiful right….why? Because different looks nice.”

 

On Jainism’s understanding of God: “The concept of God as a creator doesn’t exist in Jainism; the concept of God as an Eternal Truth?  Yes.” 

 

On the Jain respect for all life forms, even to the degree of not eating root vegetables so as not to harm earthworms: “Each soul has its own right to survive and meet its own fate. We are nobody in influencing that.  If we can’t make it better, who gives us the right to take it away?”

 

We hope you will not just listen to this series, but download the podcasts to hear while driving, jogging, or washing the dishes.  And subscribe in order to be alerted when new installments are available.  It’s a great way to learn about the faiths of our New York City neighbors.

 

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Part 2: “The Natural Tendency of the Soul” – Nitin Ajmera on Jainism, Nonviolence, and the Human Struggle for Virtue

August 21, 2016

 

Maggi Van Dorn talks with Nitin Ajmera

 

In this episode of our free podcast series “NYC Faith Leaders,” Maggi Van Dorn talks with Nitin Ajmera, former president of the Jain Center of America, located in Elmhurst, Queens.  In this richly informative and entertaining two-part interview, Mr. Ajmera describes the origins of Jainism (one of the oldest religions in the world), and speaks about the three main principals of the Jain faith: devotion to nonviolence (Ahimsa), a rejection of possessiveness (Aparigraha), and embracing the understanding that there are multiple paths that lead to establishment of the truth (Anekantvada). His engaging talk is a rare and valuable opportunity to learn about Jainism and how Jain belief and practice can enlighten world views on Climate Change, vegetarianism, moral responsibility, and much more. 

 

On the doctrine of non-violence known as “ahimsa”: “It is beyond killing of a physical, visible form … ahimsa is like nonviolence in thought, action and speech.”

On diversity: “The identity of a group has to be maintained but as long as we acknowledge that identity allows us to see a different kind of bloom in our garden… it’s beautiful right….why? Because different looks nice.”

 

On Jainism’s understanding of God: “The concept of God as a creator doesn’t exist in Jainism; the concept of God as an Eternal Truth?  Yes.” 

 

On the Jain respect for all life forms, even to the degree of not eating root vegetables so as not to harm earthworms: “Each soul has its own right to survive and meet its own fate. We are nobody in influencing that.  If we can’t make it better, who gives us the right to take it away?”

 

We hope you will not just listen to this series, but download the podcasts to hear while driving, jogging, or washing the dishes.  And subscribe in order to be alerted when new installments are available.  It’s a great way to learn about the faiths of our New York City neighbors.

 

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Father Liam O’Doherty shares an “Incarnational Faith”

July 26, 2016

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Father Liam and ICNY Podcast Producer Maggi Van Dorn 

In this episode of our free podcast series “NYC Faith Leaders,” Maggi Van Dorn talks with Father Liam O'Doherty, an Augustinian friar and Catholic priest, currently of Our Mother of Good Counsel Parish in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and formerly of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Staten Island.  Fr. Liam served 18 years as a missionary in Nagoya & Nagasaki, Japan, where he ministered to the descendents of Japan's first Catholic martyrs.  He is renown in Staten Island for his interfaith work in bringing together the Roman Catholic and Muslim communities around shared social justice concerns.  And Fr. Liam is also credited with arranging New York City Cardinal Dolan’s first visit to a mosque.

On Muslim Neighbors: [When I see Muslims pray, I see] that what they have in their hearts is the same thing that I have in my heart - a deep desire to praise God, and to have a relationship with Him.  And the thing that comes out of that is a desire to support each other in their walk of faith, and also to do something for the people outside of the community.” 

On singing as embodied prayer: “When you sing, your body becomes a musical instrument … it’s incarnational.”

On how to Be a Priest/Faith leader: “Show up, be there, and don't get in the way of the action of the Holy Spirit."

We hope you will not just listen to this series, but download the podcasts to hear while driving, jogging, or washing the dishes.  And subscribe in order to be alerted when new installments are available.  It’s a great way to learn about the faiths of our New York City neighbors.

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“Faith in Humanity’s Capacity for Goodness” - Dr. Anne Klaeysen on Humanism and the Morality of Atheistic Philosophy

June 15, 2016

In this episode of our free podcast series “NYC Faith Leaders,” Maggi Van Dorn and ICNY’s Directory of Programs Dr. Henry Goldschmidt talk with Dr. Anne Klaeysen, leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, ethical humanist religious life advisor at Columbia University and humanist chaplain at NYU. 

 

On the first Humanists: "While they were experiencing their lives and their commitments to their vocations as religious they were beginning to separate that more from a belief in a supernatural, anthropomorphized deity."

On the "1st manifesto": "Humanism is a philosophy and a religion that emphasizes human responsibility and accountability."

On Adler’s Supreme Ethical Rule: "You choose to attribute worth and dignity to every human being, and secondly, you act in ways to elicit the goodness in others and when you act in that way you are eliciting the goodness in yourself."

 

Note: The music clips heard in this podcast episode are taken from the song “What About Love?" with full permission from its writer and performer, Athena ReichComplete song and lyrics here

 

We hope you will not just listen to this series, but download the podcasts to hear while driving, jogging, or washing the dishes.  And subscribe in order to be alerted when new installments are available.  It’s a great way to learn about the faiths of our New York City neighbors.

 

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“What About Love?” written and performed by Athena Reich

June 15, 2016

The music clips heard in our June podcast interview with Dr. Anne Klaeysen of the New York Society for Ethical Culture are taken from the song “What About Love?” written and performed by Athena Reich.  See http://www.athenareich.com/. 

Lyrics:

Will I let this time
Define my state of mind?
Will I let the news
Be my only muse?
Will I let these leaders
Be my only meters
on how to live, love
work and die….

Will we swallow laws
just because?
Will we swallow fate
until it’s too late?
Will we swallow war
As nothing more
than a tragic chapter
in the human factor…

I can’t take it anymore
There’s gotta be a change for sure
I’m so sick of being numb
Would it make a difference if I gave you some of that
LOVE

Is difference of skin
an excuse to sin?
Is difference of faith
An excuse to hate?
does difference of land
define the man?
Or all we all the same
Beneath this losing game

We won’t take it anymore
There’s gonna be a change for sure
We’re so done with being numb
Give me some, let me give you some of that
LOVE
Some say that hope is a fool just wasting time
I say that hope is a prayer that can change… that can change mankind

What about Love   
LOVE
   
When we gonna treat every heart that beats with
LOVE

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“Walk a Path of Service” - Al Cadena on the Bahá’í faith, and living life with purpose and meaning

May 21, 2016

In this episode of our free podcast series “NYC Faith Leaders,” Maggi Van Dorn talks with Al Cadena, one of nine members of an elected body called the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of New York City.  Al provides a wonderful introduction to Bahá'í beliefs, and how the faith informs a person's ethics.  He also shares his inspiring journey to victory on the game show "Jeopardy!".  

On Bahá'ísm: "Bahá'í stresses the unity of all the world's religions, that they all come from God." 

On Youth: "Oftentimes society believes that youth doesn't have the ability to be role models... but if anything, youth have the ability to move the world. So let's let them do that."

On Morality: "The soul has no gender, no color, no class.  Because each one of us has a soul that comes from God, then we have to treat each other beautifully.  It's the 'Golden Rule,' but goes further because you want better for your brother or sister than for yourself."

Note: The music clips heard in this podcast episode are taken from the song “Morning Prayer.”  The words are those of Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Bahá'í faith.  The music was written, and the song is performed by, Saphira Rameshfar.  Complete song and lyrics here.

We hope you will not just listen to this series, but download the podcasts to hear while driving, jogging, or washing the dishes.  And subscribe in order to be alerted when new installments are available.  It’s a great way to learn about the faiths of our New York City neighbors.

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“Morning Prayer” performed by Saphira Rameshfar

May 21, 2016

The music clips heard in our May podcast interview with Al Cadena of the Bahá'í Center of NYC are taken from the song “Morning Prayer.”  The words are those of Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Bahá'í faith.  The music was written, and the song is performed by, Saphira Rameshfar.

Lyrics:

 “Morning Prayer”

I have risen this morning by Thy grace, O my God, and left my home trusting wholly in Thee, and committing myself to Thy care.  Send down, then, upon me, out of the heaven of Thy mercy, a blessing from Thy side, and enable me to return home in safety even as Thou didst enable me to set out under Thy protection with my thoughts fixed steadfastly upon Thee.

 There is none other God but Thee, the One, the Incomparable, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

 

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“Music Can Say Things that the Heart Cannot Find Words to Say” - Michael Manswell on Yoruba, the Arts, and Spiritual Transformation

April 23, 2016

In this episode of our free podcast series “NYC Faith Leaders,” Maggi Van Dorn interviews dancer, singer, choreographer, teaching artist, artistic director and Orisha devotee Michael Manswell.  Mr. Manswell talks about the origins and practices of the Yoruba tradition (one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa), religious leadership, and "Something Positive," an arts and education organization dedicated to the art and culture of the African Diaspora and its cross-cultural influences through performance and education.

 

On his preferred title of "devotee": I have always felt that the word "priest" places you in a solitary position, in a kind of enforced solitude ... whereas the Yoruba [leader] is part and parcel of who the community is... is woven into the fabric.

 

On divination: "Opening the portals so you can see your possible paths ... or the possibilities that lay if you were take a certain action ... or not."  

 

On chanting and movement: "It is a channel through which you can present your petition, your thanks,your rage, your disappointment, your hurt your grief, your love to the divine because it inhabits a place that’s not seen."

 

We hope you will not just listen to this series, but download the podcasts to hear while driving, jogging, or washing the dishes.  And subscribe in order to be alerted when new installments are available.  It’s a great way to learn about the faiths of our New York City neighbors.

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“A Commitment to Radical Equality” - Sonny Singh on Revolutionary Sikhism, Advocacy & Bhangra Music

March 20, 2016

On Sikhism:

"It's about having direct devotion and access to the Divine, and if that's our way of thinking, that is a commitment to radical equality.  Prayer is an important access point to the divine, but prayer is also fighting against injustice, organizing, feeding people, clothing people..."

On being a faith leader:

"There's no concept of 'clergy' in the Sikh faith.  I define [a faith leader] as someone who is organizing and mobilizing people from a particular faith community for ... at its best, various forms of social and economic justice."

On leadership opportunities for youth:

"We're seeing very smart and on-point young folks that are challenging some of the more conservative elements of our community... about homosexuality, caste, and gender equality."

In this episode of our free podcast series “NYC Faith Leaders,” Maggi Van Dorn interviews Sonny Singh, a Brooklyn-based justice educator, activist, published writer and community organizer and musician, who talks with us about Sikhism, his call to social justice, and the expression of his faith and calling in music. 

We hope you will not just listen to this series, but download the podcasts to hear while driving, jogging, or washing the dishes.  And subscribe in order to be alerted when new installments are available.  It’s a great way to learn about the faiths of our New York City neighbors.

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