Washington, DC – For the more than fifty ISKCON devotees who gathered here to attend the “Building Bridges” conference last month, there was good news and bad news. The bad news was that – judging by comments made by almost all of the conference’s esteemed presenters – the “good old days” of ISKCON’s in-your-face preaching have been officially declared dead. The good news, of course, was that the “good old days” of ISKCON’s in-your-face preaching have been officially declared dead.
ISKCON Founder-Acharya Srila Prabhupada. The Building Bridges conference explored how best to serve his mission of sharing Krishna with an increasingly post-modern world. (The deity pictured here is at the home of Anuttama Prabhu and Rukmini Devi, who helped to organize the event.)
“I wonder if we might not just retire the word preach altogether,” suggested participant Rukmini Devi Dasi, an ISKCON devotee since 1968. “It has such a negative connotation these days, and seems so condescending. I think we should just stop using it.”
How did a conference dedicated to outreach end up offering the funeral eulogy for “preaching” as-we-know-it? By challenging participants to re-vision what it means to share Krishna with others in the 21st Century.
“We [in ISKCON] are doing too much navel-gazing these days,” keynote presenter Devamrita Swami playfully complained to the packed temple-room audience during his talk on Sustainability Outreach. “We need to learn how to get back in touch with people in a way that is relevant to where they are at.” Continue reading