The UN announced a world-wide effort to help bridge gaps of understanding, the World Interfaith Harmony Week Initiative, proposed at the UN General Assembly by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan on September 23, 2010.  The first week of February each year is recognized by the UN as World Interfaith Harmony Week.  People all over the planet organize events ranging from pancake breakfasts to scholarly symposiums, with the only goal to become better neighbors and friends with those of differing faiths.  The list of registered events was impressive and extensive, as well as the list of those supporting the initiative, including my friend Virginia Gray Henry, Director of Fons Vitae Publishing.

One of the groups participating was Academy Earth in Pleasant Grove, Utah, and they invited me to present the 99 Names Project to them with my friend Ghulam Hasnain of Salt Lake American Muslim.  The remarkable thing about Academy Earth is that all members are between 14 and 17–these are young Christians dedicated to actively seeking truth, and using what they learn to become better members of their community.  Zackary and Cody invited us to speak to the group because they wanted to learn about Islam from my friend, and wanted to visit with me about the process of artistic inquiry.

In an environment of self-absorption and personal isolation, it is refreshing to see the impact of the UN’s initiative, and it is exciting to see the intelligent, respectful attitude of inquiry present in the young people of Academy Earth.

The Royal Family of Jordan were the force behind setting up the World Interfaith Harmony Week website; I thank them and my computer guru friend behind the scenes who helped make the website work.  Efforts like this go a long way towards building the bridges our society needs, especially now, and I pray such efforts will continue.

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