by Moira Ashleigh
The Sacred music concert is often a high point of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Many accomplished musicians and performing artists from different religions present a sample of their music for participants in the Parliament. This year the concert was close to 5 hours long, on Sunday night, and felt like a marathon after a long day of networking and workshop attendance.
There were several performers from Austrilia, including some indigenous performance (Wurundjeri People, Yolgnu Clan), as well as Hindu, Bahá’í, Muslim, Vedic, Gyuoto, Jewish, Ainu, Sephardic Tradition, New Thought Christian, Christian, Zoroastrian, Nasheed, Sikh, Indian Classical, Native American, and Sufi performers. The concert started with Didgeridoo song of welcome and ended with a traditional Aboriginal song and dance. Interesting thing to note, almost every performance or large group session in Australia begins with a thank you to the original inhabitants of this land. In the Botanical Gardens of Melbourne there is an area, Long Island, which speaks of how the river was once the home of the original inhabitants and describes how they lived on and with the land before the colonization of this country.
Earlier that day Michael York was on a panel, In Search of a Sustainable Pathway, where he spoke of Paganism turning back again to older practices with newness to reclaim, reshape and re-evaluate. He also stressed how we hold the sacred as immanent, tangible and pluralistic; while also accepting magic or enchantment as intrinsic to our corporal existence. Michael sees Paganism as polytheistic and an example of toleration, pluralism and cooperation. He questions if non-polytheistic religions can reciprocate, but feels there needs to be a place for every voice at the table.
The EarthSpirit group has only managed to have one dinner together, out on the patio of a restaurant with overhead heaters that are lit to ward off the chill. Many of us find the costs here high in the city and are often eating in the rooms we share. Right now the Australian dollar almost equals the American dollar. The average meal near the conference center is $30 for dinner, sandwiches are often $10, and coffee between $4 and $5. Coffee choices are either Long Dark (tall espresso), Flat White (small amount of espresso with lots of steamed cream) and Cappuccino (with chocolate shaken on the top), quite delicious. They call their low fat milk “Skinny” here versus New Zealand which uses “Trim”. They also call their cheddar cheese Tasty and Extra Tasty. But despite the name differences, it is very much easier getting around in a country that speaks English. Plus the food here has been delicious and nutritious, and we have not seen very many American chains at all.