- In March 2011 Esalen Institute’s Center for Theory and Research and TRACK TWO: An Institute for Citizen Diplomacy took a risk–breaking with tradition, they hosted a conference to take advantage of a unique historical opportunity: the confluence of radical social evolution in the Middle East, and the rise of new media as effective tools for social change. “The International Abrahamic Network: An Exploration of Social Media” was a participant-driven conference. The gathering served as an invitation for media experts and thinkers to reassess the potential for social media to engender positive change in interfaith dialogue, and in citizen diplomacy generally.
Sixth Annual Conference at Esalen – March 2012
- “What do you need to hear to know we are family?” –Joe Montville – March 2012 marked the sixth time the Esalen Institute’s Center for Theory and Research and TRACK TWO: An Institute for Citizen Diplomacy hosted the Abrahamic Family Reunion [AFR]. Dedicated to promoting Muslim-Christian-Jewish reconciliation, the AFR draws upon the shared values of peace and justice to heal the historical wounds between the children of Abraham. The 2012 AFR conference was a forum for academics, citizen diplomats, journalists, religious leaders, and peacemakers to explore opportunities to advance this mission. Though many of the conversations were imbued with abstract psychological, historical, and theological considerations, the conference maintained a pragmatic focus: How do we advance understanding and action within the Abrahamic Family to promote peace? This document is a summary of those wide-ranging ideas and the ways in which they might be brought to bear in practice. This report is non-linear, like the conference itself. In the text below the primary historical issues and strategic questions with which the group wrestled are encapsulated thematically. This structure was adopted to produce an easy-to-use record of the event, one that will serve as a common reference point and platform for future AFR efforts.
- Throughout the course of this conference its attendees wrestled with the most fundamental questions regarding the nature of media and social media, its application to the efforts of citizen diplomacy, and its specific relevance to members of the Abrahamic faiths. These discussions were, by design, openended and free form; rather than drawing concrete conclusions, participants were asked to mine their own knowledge and experiences to help make sense of this emerging landscape. Working together the group began to sketch a framework for future activity for TRACK TWO, the International Abrahamic Network, Esalen, and others.
Fifth Annual Conference at Esalen – March 2011
- “We do not solve problems; we outgrow them.” When reflecting on the core challenges that face those engaged in inter-faith reconciliation, Imam Faheem Shuaibe mentioned this quotation in the midst of the fourth annual Abrahamic Family Reunion (AFR) conference at Esalen in March 2011. Some version of it is often attributed to the philosopher John Dewey or the psychologist Carl Jung. If we take its meaning seriously, then the logical question to ask next is: How do we outgrow the problem of deep historical wounding and bitter conflict among the three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam? Since 2005 the Esalen Institute has been sponsoring a variety of invitational conferences to help these faiths outgrow limiting identities, old wounds, and hardened hearts, which have kept them stuck in the past and unable to embrace a brighter future.
- In March 2010 the Abrahamic Family Reunion (AFR) met for the third annual conference at the Esalen Institute. The AFR is a growing network of Muslims, Christians, and Jews, who are working toward “healing history” among the three Abrahamic faiths by sharing best practices and strengthening relationships in ways that enhance the work of individuals, organizations, and the collective.
- This document is a summary of the third conference in the annual Spring series at Esalen, entitled The Abrahamic Family Reunion. The objectives for the gathering were to: 1) coalesce an inter-faith leadership team of clergy and practitioners in the Bay Area and LA ; 2) share theories of change, “best practices,” educational materials, and models for inter-group work; 3) facilitate the “power of combining” and make commitments for the coming year. Written by Frank Poletti.
- This report outlines the proceedings from the September 7 -10, 2008 workshop in Kalamazoo, Michigan that took place at the Fetzer Institute’s Season’s resort, written by Vanessa Brake.
- Headlines from Project Director, Joseph Montville on current events and developments in the AFR network as of summer 2008.
- The purpose of this gathering at Esalen was to vet some of proposed educational materials the AFR is developing and nurture connections among an emerging network of individuals and organizations that are working to heal the historical wounds among the three great Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This event was focused primarily on the California region, although there were a few participants from other areas, like New Jersey, Washington D.C., and Boston. Written by Frank Poletti.
- Summary for the March 25 – 29, 2007 AFR Strategic Planning Workshop, written by Rod O’Neal. This invitational conference brought together twenty-one renowned experts representing all three Abrahamic religions with two primary tasks: first, to discuss as comprehensively as possible what each community of Jews, Christians, and Muslims needs to hear from the other two to believe that an Abrahamic family reunion is possible; and second, to strategize on the most effective ways to present this message to Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities in five U.S. target areas: the San Francisco Bay Area; greater Los Angeles; Washington, DC; metropolitan New York; and greater Boston
- In wind-swept and snowy South Bend, Indiana, the first spin-off event of the CTR/Track II Beyond Fundamentalism project emerged a success. Hosted by the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, the meeting of nineteen leading mainline and evangelical Protestants and Catholics, clerics and lay people symbolically ratified a strong, new sense of unity and palpable mutual respect.Written by Joseph Montville.
- This invitational and international conference brought together a group of diplomats, activists, and scholars with two primary intentions. First, participants sought empathetically, critically, and intricately to explore the historical, mythological, and ideological roots of Jewish religious violence, the lingering wounds of history, and the way that these can be transformed into healing practices and a substantive peace. A second goal of the conference was to focus particularly on the continuing issue of Jewish-Christian alienation and to explore ways for re-inaugurating a healthy, fruitful relationship between these estranged siblings. Written by Jacob Sherman.
- Having first considered modern Hindu fundamentalism in December, 2004, and Islamic fundamentalism in September, 2005, CTR turned its attention closer to home when it convened a groundbreaking conference on Christian fundamentalism, April 2-7, 2006. This invitational conference brought together a unique gathering of scholars, ministers, activists, psychologists, and diplomats. The participants were religiously diverse representing a variety of Christian traditions (including evangelicals, Catholics, and liberal Protestants) and including participants from non-Christian and non-religious backgrounds, as well. Written by Jacob Sherman.
- For five days in early September, activists, political psychologists, media personalities, and religious leaders gathered in the Big House to strategize, educate one another, and develop friendships with the intention of addressing one of the crucial diplomatic issues of our day: the global rise of Islamic fundamentalism. The participants who gathered brought both intelligence and the will to act with wisdom. This was not a conference content to theorize, but a gathering of those who make a difference. Written by Jacob Sherman.
- Project Director, Joseph V. Montville also provided a brief supplemental summary of the conference.