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Megan Sweas

Writer, Editor, Student of Life

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Interreligious Dialogue

Praying for Rain in California

This piece originally appeared in the Yale ISM Review.

“As an American Indian, all my life I have been cursed with the myth of the ‘Indian rain dance,’” Johnny P. Flynn wrote in Religion Dispatches in 2012 when the United States Agricultural Secretary, Tom Vilsack, suggested a rain dance to end a drought. “I am here to say there is no such thing. Not in my Potawatomi tribe or in any other tribe across the Americas.” Weather-related rituals, Flynn wearily pointed out—including the Hopi’s famous late summer dances—recognize the season rather than bring on the rain.

That hasn’t stopped some from trying. Continue reading “Praying for Rain in California”

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Migrants find welcome with Italian church

Published by National Catholic Reporter, January 27, 2015

ROME AND SICILY — August in Italy is a usually a time for rest and relaxation. But on one Saturday in the summer of 2013, beachgoers in Catania, Sicily, found a boat full of migrants that had crashed off the city’s shore. Continue reading “Migrants find welcome with Italian church”

Interfaith group speaks out in wake of Santa Barbara shooting spree

Published by The Washington Post, The Deseret News and
Huffington Post via Religion News Service, May 10, 2014

IMG_5974LOS ANGELES — An interfaith group representing 15 organizations spoke out against gun violence Thursday (May 29) in the wake of last week’s deadly shooting spree in Santa Barbara.

Religious organizations have lobbied for stricter gun control in the wake of mass shootings, and this latest effort was no exception.

“We are here this morning to stand with the multitude of groups across the United States who are advocating for sensible, common sense laws to limit the effects of gun violence,” said Steve Wiebe, co-chair of the Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative. “Our faith traditions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — spur us to peaceful solutions as we recognize the inherent worth of each individual life.”

Read more at WashingtonPost.com

Fr. John Dear, Dismissed from Jesuits

Published by Religion Dispatches, March 5, 2014

John Dear“This week, with a heavy heart, I am officially leaving the Jesuits after 32 years.” This was how Fr. John Dear announced his dismissal from the Jesuit order in his NCR column in January—a “divorce” (as Joshua McElwee put it that same week) that seemed to many to have been inevitable, if deeply regrettable. Dear, a widely respected peace activist, has been arrested over 75 times for civil disobedience, but it was his “obstinate disobedience” toward the directives of his Jesuit superiors that resulted in his dismissal.

He talks here with RD about his commitment to radical nonviolence, the future of the Church—and closes by offering some strong words to the spiritual-but-not-religious cohort.

MS: You recently published The Nonviolent Life, and you describe it as the culmination of your life’s work. What is a nonviolent life and why is it so important?

JD: Nonviolence is the center of Christianity and all world religions. It is the most needed thing in the world. Mahatma Gandhi insisted it is possible, and Martin Luther King, Jr. said that if we don’t do it, we will destroy ourselves. …

Read more at ReligionDispatches.org.

Sultans of Satire aims to bridge gaps with Muslims, Arabs through comedy

Published by The Washington Post, The Christian Century, Sojourners, Huffington Post Religion, Religion News Service, October 31, 2012; The Houston Chronicle, November 8, 2012

LOS ANGELES — Unshaven and wearing a black hoodie and cap, Omar Elba looked out from the lectern, surrounded by a gold cross and organ pipes. “Moses, you are my nizzle fo’ shizzle,” said the Egyptian-born Muslim comedian, doing his best to channel Snoop Dogg.

It’s a joke he’s done before, but never in a church.

Continue reading “Sultans of Satire aims to bridge gaps with Muslims, Arabs through comedy”

Have you visited your local mosque lately?

Published by Huffington Post Religion, October 8, 2012

With the Southern California sun shining off its white marble walls and tall blue minaret, King Fahad Mosque in Culver City is hard to miss. But I almost did miss it.

As I turned my car around, I thought about how easy it would be to keep going straight instead of going to the mosque.

Continue reading “Have you visited your local mosque lately?”

UC-Irvine’s Muslim Student Union Battles Injustice

Published by Aslan Media, Inc. in three parts from September 21 to October 2, 2012

Aminah Galal counted 100 audience members at the presentation on Shariah law. It was a good turnout, and most, she noted, weren’t members of University of California – Irvine’s Muslim Student Union (MSU), which hosted the event.

But as Galal, vice president of the MSU, finished counting, the Q&A turned confrontational. Five of the six who asked questions were from a Christian ministry called Truth Defenders, and to them, true Muslims wouldn’t accept the speaker’s flexible interpretation of Shariah. Continue reading “UC-Irvine’s Muslim Student Union Battles Injustice”

Muslims respond to Islamophobia

After listening to a speaker defend Shariah, or Islamic law, as just and merciful last spring, a young Muslim found himself walking out of the auditorium with a member of a Christian group called Truth Defenders.

“Why do you follow the Prophet? He was a womanizer, terrorist,” the man said to Mohannad Abu Alrub, a member of the Muslim Student Union at University of California – Irvine. “That didn’t fly with me,” Alrub told me later. Continue reading “Muslims respond to Islamophobia”

Nigerian Student Finds Her Faith in Dialogue

Radio profile aired by The California Report as the second story in the 20Something series, May 25, 2012

SWEAS: The sun has yet to rise over her beige suburban house an hour east of Los Angeles. But Ajarat Bada is up, Quran in her lap, practicing her Arabic. Continue reading “Nigerian Student Finds Her Faith in Dialogue”

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