"We live in the Common Era, a time of acceleration, chaos, collaboration, new visions, destruction, creation, sober reflection and ecstatic wonderment. It is now commonplace for commentators to note that we are witnessing the death of an old order and the birth of a new world order, though these same commentators differ radically as to what that might mean and in which direction we should be heading. The role of religion in this process is fundamental. The world's religions are now pivotal players on the world stage and must be involved participants whether we are dealing with solving the political crises of India, the Middle East, and Bosnia or formulating changes in health care and welfare.
Common Era is an attempt to look back at recent writings in the field of religion to further reflection on the spiritual and religious dimensions at play in our worlds. By worlds I mean the overlapping realms of politics, culture, literature, mysticism, theology, economics, ethics, etc. Each yearly edition of Common Era will take a broad look at the various forms of religious expression from an ecumenical and multi-cultural bias. To pick and choose 'the best' of anything is, naturally, an artificial exercise to some degree. In choosing 'the best new writings on religion' for the previous year, I have labored to find works that are representative of trends in religious life as reflected in media coverage on religious topics. In 1994 there was, for example, numerous responses to the 1993 Parliament of World Religions; growing interest in Buddhism, particularly Tibetan Buddhism and tantric practices; and reflections on the ecological dimensions of life on earth and the role religion may yet play in restoring the natural order of things. These subjects are represented admirably in Common Era with contributions from Vaclav Havel, Allen Ginsberg, Bill Moyers, Miranda Shaw, Theodore Roszak, Jerry Mander, June O'Connor, David Miller, Mitchell Kapor, and Matthew Fox.
I have also been struck in my reading by the personal dimensions of religious experience in our time. As the anthology evolved, I found more and more that I was being drawn toward writings that revealed personal stories of faith and commitment. Rosemary Radford Ruether and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich describe with passion and wisdom how two feminist religious scholars maintain faith in their churches (Roman Catholic and Mormon respectively); George Howland, Jr. brings us David Dellinger's lifelong quest for justice rooted in his deep religious faith; while Ginsberg's remarkable autobiographical essay illuminates the spiritual quest of one of America's greatest poetic voices. Paul Knitter, who opens the book with a profound reflection on dialogue among the world's religions, also adds a very personal dimension to our discussions when he describes some of the existential dimensions of interfaith dialogue.
David Cooper and Peter Lamborn Wilson explore the mystical side of religion in their respective essays. Cooper uncovers the ancient Jewish path of mysticism while Wilson brilliantly contrasts our modern disease of tourism with the wandering Sufi mystics of Islam.
The political dimension of faith and religion is amply represented in these pages. Jeff Shriver's journey to Chiapas, Mexico uncovers the story of a revolution from the perspective of the biblical call for social justice. Michael Sells painstakingly recounts the religious dimensions of genocide in the continuing tragedy of Bosnia. Sells article also brought to my attention an organization that is working to save Bosnian culture from 'ethnic cleansing' and provide relief to the victims of this program of genocide. The Community of Bosnia Foundation has been formed to preserve the magnificent cultural legacy of the multi-religious community of Bosnia through publication of books and monographs on art and architecture, translations of Bosnian literature, and memoirs of concentration camp survivors. This work is crucial to the morale of the one million Bosnians in exile
and to the memory of a multi-religious Bosnia, a memory the 'ethnic cleansers' want to efface.
To aid in this much needed effort, royalties from Common Era will be directed to the Community of Bosnia Foundation and I encourage your support of this effort. For more information, contact The Community of Bosnia Foundation, do The Religion Department, Haverford College, Haverford, PA 19041-1392. E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. In this small way it is my hope that Common Era will serve the common good." - (from the Introduction by Steven Scholl, Ashland, Oregon)
Let There Be Light by BILL MOYERS
The Vomit of a Mad Tyger by ALLEN GINSBERG
Anchored in a Different Place: Human Rights, Democracy and Transcendence by VACLAV HAVAL
Ecopsychology and the Anima Mundi by THEODORE ROSZAK
Deep Politics and Grace: A Postmodernist Viewpoint by MATTHEW FOX
Liberating Sexuality: Tantra Talk by MIRANDA SHAW
The Caravan of Summer by PETER LAMBORN WILSON
Pity and Terror in Waco by JAMES S. GORDON
Does A Global Village Warrant a Global Ethic? (An analysis of A Global Ethic, the Declaration of the 1993 Parliament of the World's Religions) by JUNE O'CONNOR
Bosnia: Some Religious Dimensions of Genocide in Bosnia by MICHAEL A. SELLS
Return of the Sacred by JERRY MANDER
Dharma, Democracy, and the Information Highway by MITCHELL KAPOR
A Path Uncovered by DAVID A. COOPER
Grace in the Midst of Failings by ROSEMARY RADFORD RUETHER
Comparativism in a World of Difference: The Legacy of
of Joseph Campbell to the Postmodern History of Religions by DAVID MILLER
Border Crossings by LAUREL THATCHER ULRICH
A Faith to Move Mountains: Shaking the Foundations of Power in Mexico by JEFF SHRIVER
From Yale to Jail: David Dellinger's Quest for Justice by GEORGE HOWLAND, JR.