Tag Archives: Interfaith dialogue

Phil Bosmans and the Bond Zonder Naam (Union Without a Name): Movement Without a Name

Location of Mortsel in the province of Antwerp

Location of Mortsel in the province of Antwerp (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After long suffering the after-effects of a stroke in 1994 father Phil Bosmans, the co-founder and face of the Bond Zonder Naam (Union Without a Name), passed away in hospital in Mortsel, near Antwerp, from complications of bronchitis, at the age of 89, 17 January 2012.

Bosmans was born into a Limburg farming family in 1922 and entered a monastery in 1941. He was ordained in 1948 and sent to the Vendée in France to do missionary work in the suburbs of Tours. He subsequently became friendly with several worker-priests in Paris. He had a profound admiration for them.

In 1949 he was called back to Belgium to lead “missions to the people” and Father Loop asked him to help with the creation of the Bond Zonder Naam (BZN), an organisation that over the years has set up and run social projects for children and young people and the disadvantaged. Bosmans led the BZN until 1991, when he handed over the leadership, though he remained active in the organisation. On Saturday 2 April 1938 Henri de Greeve had launched the Bond Zonder Naam or Movement without a Name (hereafter referred to as MWN) on the NIR (Belgian National Radio Station) radio programme ‘Lichtbaken’ . Mr l’Homme and Miss Winkeler started in 1949 the Movement without a Name Flanders, which had a first candlelight action for People in Need in 1951. Their candles came in many homes, also our home. Since 1957 Phil has devoted all his energies to the Bond Zonder Naam or Movement without a Name in Flanders.

For most people in Flanders Bosmans was bestknown as the source of countless uplifting and inspiring aphorisms, later collected into books with titles like Best Wishes and Happy Together, which became best sellers in Flanders, the Netherlands and Germany. His collections were translated into 26 languages and sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. As a child I grew up with his writings, having each new proverb read and discussed at dinner table and put on the cupboard good in view for everyone to be remembered. ‘Menslief, ik hou van je’ was really a best-seller for our generation, inspiring us to spread the agape love. Lannoo published it in 1972 and it was to become the most widely sold book in Flanders. It is now in its 56th impression, and has sold 800,000 copies in Flanders and the Netherlands. Currently sales in Germany stand at about 2 million copies. The positivism was something which helped me a lot throughout my life and I found important to share with more. We should keep in mind that he said:

“A good mood is infectious”

BzN-Mov Without a Name-Logo_ENOur society loosing track of the gentle words and social feelings of sharing and agape love has a big need of a recollection of Bosmans inspirational words. Therefore I am pleased that the organisation Bond Zonder Naam, in English: Movement Without a Name allowed us to publicize some of their writings and placing some recollections of Bosmans’s fruitful thoughts.

In 2003 MWN got nominated as chairman for URI Europe. In 2007 MWN organised URI Global Council and European conference in Antwerp and started a Flemish Platform for Interfaith Dialogue.

For over 50 years, 3 generations and 200,000 families have proven that they appreciate what MWN has to offer. We are grateful we can share their beautiful work with you on this platform and do hope you shall come to know them better.

‘Without a name’ stands for the belief that people can achieve great things when they are willing to give it their all without claiming the achievements. I also do believe when a person can put himself aside he shall be able to help the others even better. May I ask you to get to know their work better and to give it your support. We also with them, encourage everyone to support the common goal without anyone claiming the results. We on our selves perhaps can do not much, but together we can do a lot. We only can try to do our best and we can try to help as much as we can wherever we can. I also believe we as creatures, allowed to live on this world, by our Divine Creator, should be thankful that we are able to live in a good environment. Not all people are so lucky. Those who are not so fortunate we should help. Each of us should be willing to give the best of themselves, which would mean that they can give enough. Consequently, you too can contribute to MWN in many different ways: you can donate time, commitment and material or financial support, which helps them to organise their initiatives.

‘Without a name’ also means that MWN stands up for ‘nameless people’ and makes certain taboo issues a subject of discussion.

And finally ‘without a name’ means that MWN is not affiliated with any political, philosophical or religious organisation. It refers unmistakeably to the free spirit MWN so deeply cherishes.

MWN is recognized by the Belgian government and is entitled to provide donation certificates. Donations over €40,00 are tax-deductible in Belgium, whether they are single contributions or plural contributions, which, combined, mount up to €40,00. MWN delivers the donation certificates in March of the subsequent year (only applicable in Belgium).


  • Vets Without Borders sends four bunnies on a mission (flanderstoday.eu)
    Dr Meerschaert adds that DZG simultaneously works on three levels: people, animals and nature. “That’s what I find most exceptional,” she says. “Veterinary medicine is extremely important, of course, because the animals have to stay healthy. As a vet, I find the combination of healthy, sustainable livestock farming and the improvement of the standard of living of livestock farmers tremendously exciting.”
  • Antwerp’s ‘selfie speeding signs’ (bbc.co.uk)
    Belgium already uses a system of “smiley” road signs to tell motorists whether they are speeding or not. But now citizens are invited to upload two photos of themselves, one with a happy face and another with a disapproving glare – to be flashed at errant motorists, the Belgian website Flanders News reported. As part of a joint awareness scheme by the city of Antwerp and the police, the photos will be displayed on interactive speedometers installed across the city.
  • Face of Flanders (flanderstoday.eu)
    Phil Bosmans Father Phil Bosmans, the co-founder and face of the Bond Zonder Naam (Union Without a Name), has died in hospital in Mortsel, near Antwerp, from complications of bronchitis, at the age of 89. Father Bosmans had long suffered the after-effects of a stroke in 1994, and spent his last years living in a convent in nearby Kontich.
  • Belgium’s weirdest laws (deredactie.be)
    Dutchman and Fans of Flanders blogger Jogchum Vrielink has been looking at some of Belgium’s most unexpected pieces of legislation. There are a lot of urban myths and no, it isn’t illegal to wear a red hat on Antwerp’s busiest shopping street – as some people apparently think. However, members of the Dutch royal family are still barred from…

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Filed under Activism and Peace Work, Activisme & Vredeswerk, Bond Zonder Naam, Introduction, Movement Without a Name

Quality of listening on the planet is terrible

‘The quality of listening on the planet is terrible,’ says Len Traubman who was born at the beginning of World War Two in Duluth, Minnesota, and all his ancestors had immigrated in the eighteen hundreds from the old country — Bohemia, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, Bessarabia, Tsarist Russia. His mother’s Orthodox Russians fled right after the first pogroms of 1881.  As a pre-schooler walking by the synagogue, he asked:

“Grandma, is everyone in Duluth Jewish?” Everybody in my world was Jewish.’

The Traubmans joke that their training for peacebuilding and conflict transformation began with their 1967 marriage, which they now call “the gymnasium of the spirit” where they learn and exercise most of what they know.  Differing personalities and religions created workouts for the couple especially during their early days.

Their expanding circle included diverse, creative people deeply interested in the planet, marriage, parenting, living cooperatively on Earth, and becoming contributing human beings. They began studying how to mature from ego-centricity to unconditional love.

Together we learned from the symbolism and wisdom of Torah, prehistory myths, Biblical narratives, insights from Jesus the teacher and from Jung and other geniuses of the human psyche and spirit.  With this remarkable community of colleagues, our prime allegiance became to the planet and all humankind.‘

Libby has top tips for a successful cross-cultural marriage:

‘I have to be a really good listener. And it helps to have self-knowledge to see where my own conditioning is causing this anger, this hurt. At the root, it’s usually not Len doing it. It is something old from my childhood. Oh, how much we are pushed around by our early life experiences! Yet a lot of people don’t choose to self-reflect because it is much easier to blame another. The blame game easily destroys relationships. So I try to take a lot of responsibility for my own spirit and not jump into blaming. Too, we always say the key to a good relationship is to experience joy; we have a lot of fun together and share activities that we enjoy.’

Today many people prefer to blame others. Most people are also not concerned it what others think , say or do, as long as they do not interfere with them.

According to Len Traubman:

‘Everyone wants to be heard and louder, hoping things will change. Everyone wants to speak, yet fewer wish to listen.”

The Audience's Listening

The Audience’s Listening (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

but I do think there are not enough people who want to let others hear their voice. There are not enough people who want to bring a voice for others. Perhaps there may be many just wanting others to follow what they are saying for their own benefit, but being not interested in the other. Often they do not want to spare an ear for others like they do not want to listen to them. Lots of people also do not think they can learn from others.

The skills for listening-to-learn are just terrible. So this is the great challenge for all of us.’

Learn more about:

My StoryLibby And Len Traubman; Their journey of cross cultural dialogue

This month’s cover story features Len and Libby Traubman, who whilst they might not be royalty, are widely regarded as the doyennes of cross cultural dialogue. Their amazing 47 year inter faith marriage, which they call, ‘the gymnasium of the spirit’, has been the cornerstone of their learning and resources, which they have generously shared with all of us here at Goldenroom.  The story, one’s own personal narrative is critical to building dialogue between people of conflicted cultures, as they explain  that ‘ an enemy is one whose story you have not heard.’ and so we are especially honoured that Libby and Len Traubman have chosen to share their story with Goldenroom this month.


the Living Room Dialogue


  • Goldenroom August 2014 (goldenroomblog.wordpress.com)
    You can’t miss the shiningly beautiful couple sharing our cover story. It is none other, than Merriam Ibrahim and her husband David Wani, who finally, via an act of extraordinary diplomacy by Italy and the Vatican, were freed from a prison in Sudan. You will have heard about her case; Merriam, who was born to a Christian mother and a Muslim father, was raised as a Christian and married a Christian. She was subsequently found guilty of apostasy and adultery and sentenced to death.
  • Interfaith Dialogue (globalcompassio.wordpress.com)
    To initiate an interfaith dialogue between the Muslims and Christians communities in the North Region of Cameroon (Garoua), and some areas in Adamaoua Region (Ngaoundéré),Littoral region (Douala) and other Regions of Cameroon, to decrease the spontaneous conflict between them. The dialogue will be started by citizens — diverse women, men, and youth.  Elected officials from the concerned regions are encouraged to include themselves as equal participants. Ways of avoiding conflicts, mutually beneficial agreements, peace-keeping and peace-building projects, and other important concerns and issues will be discussed.
  • Blog post by Sandy Heierbacher (govloop.com)
    We are part of a 19-year-old Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue preparing for its 238th meeting here on the San Francisco Peninsula. To offer to NCDD participants and others the stories of human successes and best-practices that work in everyday life, we continually update two Web pages for you and citizens worldwide.
  • The Global Pogrom (menorahblog.typepad.com)
    The Global Pogrom has been under way for more than a decade. It has taken lives. It has destroyed property. It has injured, brutalized, and terrified Jews and Jewish communities in many nations. And it is creating a silent exodus, a de facto expulsion, an ethnic cleansing in slow motion.
  • Left-wing anti-Semitism is anything but a new phenomenon (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
    “How, as a socialist, can you not be an anti-Semite?” Adolf Hitler asked his party members in 1920. No one thought it an odd question. Anti-Semitism was at that time widely understood to be part of the broader revolutionary movement against markets, property and capital.The man who coined the term “socialism,” the nineteenth-century French revolutionary, Pierre Leroux, had told his comrades: “When we speak of the Jews, we mean the Jewish spirit – the spirit of profit, of lucre, of gain, of speculation; in a word, the banker’s spirit.”

    The man who popularised the term “anti-Semitism” had taken a similar line. Wilhelm Marr, a radical nineteenth-century German Leftist, may not have been the first person to use the word, but he certainly – and approvingly – brought it to a wide audience: “Anti-Semitism is a Socialist movement,” he pronounced, “only nobler and purer in form than Social Democracy”.

  • Mumbai Jewish centre set to reopen (bbc.co.uk)
    Six Jews were killed at the centre, which was one of several places targeted in the November 2008 attacks.Indian forces regained control of the building after several days and killed two gunmen there.

    The attacks at a railway station, two hotels and other landmarks claimed 166 lives. Nine gunmen were also killed.

  • The Art of Not Listening! (smallchangesforlife.com)
    There is much talk about the art of listening, staying silent, and truly hearing what others have to say. Thats good, and I believe in that completely, as in my blog; The Me Monster, but did you know there is also an art of not listening? Sounds like a no brainer to not listen, but honestly I believe it’s tougher for most people to do this than to actually listen.
  • Listen UP! (writingtofreedom.wordpress.com)
    experts suggest 50-70% of communication is non-verbal. This includes body language, gestures, facial expression, emotional tone, physiological elements and more. Kinesthetic and intuitive people might call this reading a person’s energy. Or maybe we can call it whole body listening with openness and presence. Focusing more on listening and connecting to the whole person for the message beyond the words.
  • Time Always Wins (writingsfromthecoffeeshop.wordpress.com)
    I am waiting for the time to pass as I listen to the click click of my clock sitting on the wall staring me in the face.  It’s poking fun at me.  It is saying “HA HA, you have wasted yet another precious day, what do you have to say for yourself?”
  • Sandy Heierbacher posted a blog post (govloop.com)
    I’m very curious about what network mapping tools have worked best for NCDDers?  Mapping my own LinkedIn contacts or Facebook contacts is interesting, but NCDD is starting to map the organizations, collaboration, and capacity in our field.

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