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World Faiths Center for Religious Experience and Study
In our common life in KC, how can we discover our differences as gifts to make our world better?
CRES is a 501(c)(3) institute promoting understanding of all faiths through teaching, writing, and consulting.
Email: vern@cres.org  —  Box 45414, Kansas City, MO 64171-8414


July 13

Al Brooks was 90 May 3!
Click on photo from the party.

 
What does the Supreme Court abortion decision mean for religious freedom?

Remembering Kansas City darkness
April 13, 2014 and again February 22, 2017

Voltaire: “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

Gaslighting - Lying is Good Propaganda




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Greater KC Interfaith Council
founded by CRES in 1989
hosted by CRES through 2004
 now independent with our blessings
 Human Agenda —  Cultural Crossroads
DialogInst —  KS Interfaith Action7-Days
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Sacred-Profane CHART: Surrender Share Save
Revere Repent Repair --Feel Flow Flourish  -- Play Practice Participate 




The three arenas of the sacred: nature, personhood, community

Share the wisdom of the world's spiritual traditions 
in our overwhelmingly secularistic and fragmented age, to reverse
the endangered environment,
the violation of personhood,
and the broken community
so that we may be
restored with nature,
the self made whole,
community in covenant,
and the sacred found afresh.

NATURE is to be respected, more than controlled; it is a process which includes us, not a product external to us to be used or disposed of. Our proper attitude toward nature is awe, not utility.

WHO WE ARE is deeper than we appear to be: this means our acts should proceed beyond convention, spontaneously and responsibly from duty and comparison, without ultimate attachment to their results.

THE FLOW OF HISTORY toward justice is possible when persons in community govern themselves less by profit and more by the covenant of service.

Those disempowered by a secular age may, through the varied struggles, show THE IMPULSE TOWARD THE SACRED in fresh ways.


OIL is an example of how the three crises of our time are interwoven with each other.


HOW YOU CAN JOIN
IN FURTHERING INTERFAITH UNDERSTANDING

CRES may be the most connected interfaith effort in Kansas City, and the only one wedding academic competence with practical activities, but many groups are involved one way or another in promoting interfaith understanding. An increasing number of organizations bring interfaith awareness to their work. For a list, please see our report,KC Interfaith Opportunities, and let us know about the groups we missed.

And you as an individual, you can encourage America’s tradition of pluralism by

    *  supporting these organizations,
    *  writing newspapers,
   *  phoning in on talk shows,
    * arranging CRES programs for your groups
    * arranging speakers from many faiths for your groups


  Getting Started Doing Interfaith Stuff

SELECT RESOURCES

Basic Book
Bud Heckman: InterActive Faith: The Essential Interreligious Communinty-Building Handbook, 2008

Locally 

  • The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, www.kcinterfaith.org 
  • Bill’s “Faith Matters” Blog, http://billtammeus.typepad.com/
  • CRES, www.cres.org
  • Cultural Crossroads, www.culturalcrossroads-kc.org
  • Festival of Faiths, http://festivaloffaithskc.org/
  • The Human Agenda, http://humanagenda.typepad.com/
Interfaith Primers

http://www.cres.org/pubs/primers.htm

http://www.cres.org/pubs/guidelines.htm

http://www.cres.org/pubs/WorldReligsPiecesOrPattern.htm

 

contact staff@cres.org, Box 45414, Kansas City, MO 64171

 
Donor Information
CRES is a 501(c)(3) charity as determined by the IRS in its 1985 July 17 letter. It is a Kansas not-for-profit also registered in Missouri. It is operated by a Board of Directors and led by the Rev Vern Barnet, DMin and a volunteer staff

CRES, with its scholarly capacities and practical networking,  has been central tothe development of interfaith work in Kansas City and has been nationally recognized by CBS-TV, Harvard University'sPluralism Project, and in other ways.

Because of our professional volunteer staff, your gift to CRES provides an enormous "bang for the buck."
 


 
Please draw your check to
CRES
Box 45414
Kansas City, MO 64171.
   For a personal call,
  write
   Vern Barnet:
   vern@cres.org
   vern.barnet@gmail.com

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CRES TREE
#illusion
Crescat scientia, vita excolator -- Let knowledge grow from more to more; and so be human life enriched. --University of Chicago motto


#caveats

Caveats for the study of religion

   1. “Religion” as often understood today developed from the Reformation’s distinction between secular and church domains, and from the West’s Enlightenment categories of thought. Many “religions” don’t even have a word that corresponds to the way we often use  “religion.”

   2. Religions don’t differ from each other so much by offering different answers to the similar questions as by exploring different questions. Religions are more like different games and sports (chess, baseball, charades, tennis, swimming), with different rules, scoring, and outcomes, rather than like a football league with different teams playing each other.

   3. Religions change throughout history and may vary by locale.

   4. Religions are influenced by one another and sometimes incorporate elements from each other.

   5. Within a single tradition, many variations are common. One Hindu should not be made to represent all Hindus. (“Hinduism” itself is a Western invention.)

   6. Boundaries around religions vary: some tight, some porous.

   7. Even religions that emphasize theoretical (conceptual, catechetical, doctrinal) concerns retain elements of the earlier unitive (mystical, "peak" experiences), enactive (ritual), and narrative (story) developments.

   8. Scholars who seek to identify components or dimensions of religions sometimes use the scheme of  4 C's: Creed (concepts or "beliefs"), Code (rules, moral expectations), Cultus (ritual practices), and Community (informal and institutional shapes and boundaries of adherents relating to one another).


Examples of the different importance the four dimensions have in various faiths.

   8a. Most religious are not as focused on "beliefs" as much as many Christians. It is sad that when folks of a non-Christian faith respond to questions from Christians, or seek to explain themselves to Christians, the discourse is often about beliefs, with the unconscious distortion of the faith.  For example, highlighting the fact that most Jews do not accept Jesus as the Messiah misses the fact that traditionally being Jewish depends on having a Jewish mother (or conversion), which is centered not so much by belief as by belonging to a community. Asking whether a Zen Buddhist believes one will see family in heaven is absurd since the Zen Buddhist goal is extinction of the notion of the self.

   9. A useful way to think about religions is to ask of them,
  * What is sacred? -- which can be phrased in many ways such as
  * What gives meaning to life?
  * What is the utimate source of value?
  * What guides your life when you are most aware?

   9a. Applying the “What is sacred?” question can lead to a way of gouping the world's reigions into three main “families,” depending on where they find the sacred: roughly, with lots of qualifications and some exceptions:
Primal traditions typically locate the sacred in the realm of nature, Asian practices typically focus on inner awareness, and the Monotheistic heritage typically finds the sacred (God) revealed through the history of covenanted community, as charted above. Examples of scholars who, in various ways, have classified the world's faiths in similar ways appear here.

   9b. Of course within each family, religions have degrees of distinction, as in the second century, Christianity gradually became what we now consider a distinct religion, separate from Judaism and other Hellenistic cults, though influenced by them. Christianity, like all faiths, continues to evolve. Stephen Prothero's approach -- asking “what is the problem each faith seeks to answer?” -- can illuminate such distinctions. To illustrate with the three most familiar monotheistic faiths: the problem in Judaism is exile from God; the solutionis to keep God's commandments. Christianity's problem is sin; the solution is salvation through Jesus Christ. In Inslam, the problem is the sense of self-sufficiency; the solution is the submission to will of God. Whether Prothero has it exactly right or not, the chracter of each tradition is illuminated by comparing them in broad strokes and seeing the distictions.

   10. In ordinary human-to-human neighborliness, asking questions such as the following often may be more likely to build religionships than asking abstract questions about specific beliefs, such as "Do you think Jesus was crucified, died, and was bodily resurrected?"

a. Can you tell me a story when the universe seemed to make sense to you or when you were overcome with a sense of awe? What experiences have you had that point to the ultimate source of life’s meaning for you? Have you ever seen a painting or heard music or walked on the beach or in a forest or played sports or seen a sunrise or learned about science or worked a math problem or held a child or made love when you felt lifted out beyond your ordinary sense of self? 

b. How did you become an adherent of your faith? How do you view other traditions? What would you like others to know about your faith?

c. Was there a turning point in your life as you considered spiritual questions that helped shape who you have become? Can you tell a story or describe a situation when your faith was especially meaningful to you? 

d. When have you felt closest to God /or/ when has life or the universe made the most sense to you? How has your faith shaped your views about peace? about the environment? 

e. What assumptions do people make about you that give you pause? What is it like to be different or part of an assumed minority/majority? What do you like and dislike about your tradition? Who are people in your tradition of whom you are proud? 

f. What holidays and practices of your faith do you especially like or dislike? Are particular foods or dietary practice meaningful to you? Do members of your faith have a distinctive dress code? How does your faith affect your family life? 

g. Has your faith ever guided you in dealing with a problem or opportunity in a personal relationship? Does it guide you in getting along with others? Has it ever inspired you to help or intervene on behalf of others? 

h. When does your faith help you feel close to others and when does it make you feel distant? 

i. How does your faith help you deal with suffering, your own and of others who have done nothing to deserve their agony or misfortune?

j. Many other questions, or ways of asking, might be useful, such as --

   1. Who are some people in your tradition of whom you are proud?
   2. What holidays and practices of your faith do you especially like?
   3. What would you like others to know about your faith? What kinds of misunderstanding of your faith have you experienced?
   4. Can you tell me a time in your life when the universe seemed to make sense to you or when you were overcome with a sense of awe or gratitude?
   5. Can you tell a story or describe a situation when your faith was especially meaningful to you?
   6. What experiences have you had that point to the ultimate source of life’s meaning for you?
   7. Was there a turning point in your life as you considered spiritual questions that helped shape who you have become?
   8. When have you felt closest to God? -- or -- 8a. When has life or the universe made the most sense to you?
   9. What assumptions do people make about you that give you pause or make you uncomfortable?
   10. Was there a moment when you felt especially pleased or special in the American environment? Was there a time when you felt uncomfortably out of step with some of American culture?
   11. What do you especially value about your tradition? Most traditions also deal with some problems. How do you support your tradition in dealing with any problems?
   12. What was it like for you when you were recognized as an adult in your religion?
Was there a ceremony? How did folks congratulate you or wish you well?
   13. Are particular foods or dietary practice meaningful to you? Do men and women of your faith have a distinctive dress code?
   14. How does your faith affect your family life and friendships?
   15. Has your faith ever guided you in dealing with a problem or opportunity in a personal relationship? Does it guide you in getting along with others? Has it ever inspired you to help or intervene on behalf of others?
   16. How has your faith shaped your views about peace? about the environment? about other social issues?
   17. When does your faith help you feel close to others and when does it make you feel distant?
   18. How does your faith help you deal with suffering, your own and of others who have done nothing to deserve their agony or misfortune?
   19. Have you ever seen a painting or heard music or walked on the beach or in a forest or played sports or seen a sunrise or learned about science or worked a math problem or held a child or made love when you felt lifted out beyond your ordinary sense of self?
   20. Many faiths have inspired works of art -- architecture, music, painting, sculpture, calligraphy, dance, pottery, ceremonials, poetry and other forms of literature, dress, cuisine, theatre, film, and other forms of cultural expression. Do you have a favorite from your tradition?
   21. How did you become an adherent of your faith? How do you view other traditions? How can folks of different faiths learn to cooperate more?
   22. What about your faith would you most like to share with me?

   10a. The scholarly study of religion is multivalent -- more than the mere identification and accumulation of facts.
   The popular study of religion can be valuable in many ways, and many books written for the ordinary citizen can lead to an appreciation of the complexity of faiths -- such as Huston Smith's classic The World's Religions, Stephen Prothero's God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World—and Why Their Differences Matter, and Diana L. Eck's A New Religious America: How a “Christian Country” Has Become the World's Most Religiously Diverse Nation.

Here are some additional resources on the CRES website:
https://cres.org/pubs/guidelines.htm

https://cres.org/pubs/primers.htm

https://cres.org/pubs/stealingfaiths.htm

https://cres.org/Awe.pdf


Perhaps the best single comprehensive (yet short) introduction to interfaith work:
Bud Heckman, ed. InterActive Faith: The Essential Interreligious Community-Building Handbook. Skylight Paths, 2008. ISBN 13:978-1-59473-237-9.

“”


#scholars
Scholars have classified religions in many ways, creating various categories, and while Vern will focus on one of three common categories, you might want to know what the three are. Bainton, for example, presents three accents in the world faiths this way [I have colored the original text]:
     "
Religions of nature see God in the surrounding universe; for example, in the orderly course of the heavenly bodies, or more frequently in the recurring cycle of the withering and resurgence of vegetation. This cycle is interpreted as the dying and rising of a god in whose experience the devotee may share through various ritual acts and may thus also become divine and immortal. For such a religion, the past is not important, for the cycle of the seasons is the same one year as the next.
     "Religions of contemplation, at the other extreme, regard the physical world as an impediment to the spirit, which, abstracted from the things of sense, must rise by contemplation to union with the divine. The sense of time itself is to be transcended, so that here again history is of no import.
     "But religions of history, like Judaism, discover God “in his mighty acts among the children of men.” Such a religion is a compound of memory and hope. It looks backward to what God has already done. The feasts of Judaism are chiefly commemorative: Passover recalls the deliverance of the Jews from bondage in Egypt; Purim, Esther’s triumph over Haman, who sought to destroy the Jews in the days of King Ahasuerus; and Hanukkah, the purification of the Temple after its desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes. And this religion looks forward with faith; remembrance is a reminder that God will not forsake his own. The faith of Judaism was anchored in the belief that God was bound to his people by a covenant, at times renewed and enlarged.
"
                                               —Ronald H Bainton, Christendom, pages 3-4

For the CRES charted overview of world religions and what is sacred to them, click here. This way of looking at religions of the world is presented in greater detail elsewhere, such as in The Essential Guide to Religious Traditions and Spirituality for Health Care Providers, edited by Steven Jeffers, Michael Nelson, Vern Barnet, Michael Brannigan, Radcliffe, 2013 (p12-16). Suggestions of this scheme can be found in Eliade’s 1957/1959 The Sacred and the Profane, where he discusses cosmic, personal, and social contexts (p93-94), and the “individual, social, and cosmic” (p170). 
As noted above, in Roland Bainton’s 1964/1966 Christendom (Vol 1, p3-4), we find “Judaism is a religion of history and as such it may be contrasted with religions of nature and religions of contemplation. In Huston Smith’s 2005 The Soul of Christianity, he says that “‘becoming God’ happens individually, communally, and cosmically” (p124). Sociologist Robert Bellah’s 2011 Religion in Human Evolution (p175) notes that meaning obtains in “cosmos, society, and self”; this triad appears in varying forms throughout the book, as for example where he claims that music is “related not only to inner reality but to cosmic and social reality as well” (p25), and that it can attune “the individual to social and cosmic order” (p26); he also uses the triad “soul, society, and the cosmos” (p27). He does not relate these terms to the triad of Primal, Asian, and Monotheistic faiths; rather be believes that “Both tribal and archaic religions are ‘cosmological,’ in that supernature, nature, and society were all fused in a single cosmos” (p266). The Encounter World Religions Centre in Toronto, the Balance, Indian, and Middle Eastern traditions; and Robert Arkinson's three categories of indigenous, Dharmic, and Abrahamic religions in The Story of Our Time: From Duality to Interconnectedness to Oneness, 2017.



















































































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