How to find Peace during a Global Pandemic

By Deacon Steve Herrera

Everything is closed. Restaurants, gyms, malls, even places of worship. Traditionally we find comfort and hope and sense God’s presence in the rituals and songs and sacraments we find in our respective religious traditions. What do we do now that there is no “access” to the divine.

Rumi, the famous Sufi mystic and poet is quoted as saying that the only place he really found God was in his heart. I find that helpful especially during a time of sheltering in place during this time of a global pandemic.

Rumi’s Tomb in Konya, Turkey, Photo copyright by Steve Herrera

Rumi’s insight highlights where God dwells. Religious…

New Clairvaux Monastery, Near Chico, California. Photo Copyright by Steve Herrera

by Deacon Steve Herrera

A Pathway to a Social Revolution for the Common Good

In the history of the Christian Church deacons have played a special role from the beginning. The Apostles appointed deacons to care for the most vulnerable and marginalized of the community, widows and orphans. That original calling holds true to this day. Deacons today are called primarily to work with the marginalized in the local and global community. The authenticity of all diaconal work ought to be measured against that criteria.

In today’s world there is no lack of those who are victimized and marginalized by…

On April 23, 2019 a man drove his Toyota Corolla into a group of pedestrians and bicyclists in a crosswalk at El Camino Real and Sunnyvale Avenue, injuring 8 people, who he thought were Muslims. In response to this recent hate crime Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, state and federal representatives, as well as several religious leaders held a solidarity event on May 29, 2019 with interfaith allies. The event was held at the Sunnyvale Senior Center and featured a panel of government officials and other community representatives to promote peace and strengthen community bonds.

Photo copyright by Steve Herrera

by Steve Herrera

On May 1 and 2, 2019, I attended the Environmental Justice workshop sponsored by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) held in Salinas, California. The workshop was billed as an environmental justice workshop and farmers, public officials and NGO’S who work with farmworkers were invited to attend. I attended with Dr.Ann Lopez, the Executive Director of the Center for Farmworker Families.

As a novice in the field of pesticide use in California agriculture I was impressed by all the information provided by the DPR and its various subdivisions monitoring pesticide run-off into the water table, monitoring…

I n the past 6 weeks, mosques, churches and a synagogue have been attacked and many people have tragically lost their lives. The most recent tragedy in Sri Lanka took over 200 lives. Sri Lanka is 70% Buddhist and Christians make up almost 8% of the population. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for murdering over 250 people in coordinated attacks on three churches by suicide bombers in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.

Photo copyright by Steve Herrera

In light of the tragedy that took place, the Dharmapala Institute, a Sri Lankan Buddhist Temple located in Milpitas, California, decided to transform their Annual New Year…

Photo copyright by Steve Herrera

Imagine you are a lawyer and you’ve been elected to the City Council. Council members are paid so little that you have to maintain your legal practice in order to pay the bills. What would you do if one of the clients of your law firm also had a request before the City Council about land use, and after studying the request you discover that the plan would harm the aquifer underneath an environmentally sensitive area and therefore be bad for the communities’ drinking water? As a City Council member you have to vote on this request, but as an…

Members of the Teen Interfaith Council, Photo copyright by Steve Herrera

The recent events in New Zealand highlight the rise of hatred and violence against Muslims and of anti-semitism. Anti-Semitic incidents were up 37 percent in 2017 according to the FBI and according to CAIR hate crimes against Muslims rose by 15 percent for a total of 300 incidents in 2017,

Is there an antidote to the increase in terrorist attacks against Jews, Muslims and other religious groups?

As an educator and interfaith activist for the last 40 years I approach this topic from the viewpoint of education and adolescent development. I am the co-director of the Teen Interfaith Leadership Council…

by Deacon Steve Herrera

On March 16, 2019, I was invited to conduct an interfaith prayer vigil for the victims of the New Zealand massacre at the Pacifica Institute, largely comprised of Muslims from Turkey who live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn more about the Pacifica Institute here.

Over 100 religious leaders and congregants, local mayors, and even the FBI were in attendance to show their support of the Muslim population in and around the Bay area and many shared their support during this difficult and painful time.

I facilitated this Interfaith Vigil service and concluded it with…

Photo copyright by Steve Herrera

When you sit on your mother’s lap you can find comfort and healing there. You can rest in the arms of your loving mother who is always there for you and ready to ease your pain and share your joys. When we participated in the Apache sweat lodge ceremony we learned that this description could also be applied to our mother earth.

In the summer of 2007 I took several adult Buddhists and Catholics to the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Whiteriver, Arizona. A medicine man I know invited our interfaith group to participate in the sacred ceremony of the…

Photo copyright by Steve Herrera

Recently Pope Francis met with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, Abu Dhabi, February 4, 2019 and they issued a joint statement that they both signed entitled, Reflection on the Document on Human Fraternity for world peace and living together . I found this paragraph to be particularly outstanding:

“Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings. This divine wisdom is the source from…

Steve Herrera

Steve has studied Hindu mysticism, Shinnyo-en Buddhism, Catholicism.and has been involved in Interfaith activities with teenagers and adults since 2007.

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