|Except for monthly Vital Conversations convened by David Nelson, CRES programs arise by request. Our management principle is "management by opportunity." Every year we are delighted by the number of opportunties given to us, as, for example, last year's list demonstrates. (Of course we also provide free consulation to organizations and other services as requested, not listed on our public website.)|
Transcendent meanings from COVID?
Robert T Stephan, 1933-2023
As a child, Bob experienced religious prejudice and worked endlessly as judge, as the longest- serving attorney-general in Kansas history, and as citizen to promote human dignity and justice, and to relieve suffering. He worked especially on consumer protection and the rights of victims. He was courageous as he answered political smears and in his repeated contests with painful cancer; and his amazing quick wit and humor brought perspective and delight to those around him. Our deepest condolences to his beloved wife, Marilynn, and family.
CRES supports Dr Erika López Prater, along with the Middle East Studies Association, the Medieval Academy, the National Coalition Against Censorship, and other organizations and (so far) over ten thousand knowledgeable academic and religious leaders -- and thanks Prof Christiane Gruber, PhD, for helping us to protest against Hamline University for dismissing Dr López Prater because of a complaint over the inclusion of an honored painting in her art history class. The action was not only based in ignorance of the subject and situation, the teacher was afforded no due process to respond.
Here is a link to the 2023 January 8 New York Times story, A Lecturer Showed a Painting of the Prophet Muhammad. She Lost Her Job. After an outcry over the art history class by Muslim students, Hamline University officials said the incident was Islamophobic. But many scholars say the work is a masterpiece.
Here is a link to Prof Gruber's article about the dispute in New Lines Magazine. She is professor of Islamic art in the History of Art Department at the University of Michigan. Here is a link to the statement by Eboo Patel, one of America's most highly regarded Muslim and interfaith leaders, in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The Muslim Public Affairs Council has strongly supported the Dr López Prater. Even the statement in support of Dr López Prater by the more conservative Council on American-Islamic Relations, while it supports the right of students to raise the issue, notes that views about the depiction of the Prophet vary within Islam and that the circumstances of this cases make the charge of Islamophobia against Dr López Prater unfair.
Here is a link to updates.
CRES condemns Islamophobia and, in this case, laments the student's ignorance of Islam and the student's shameful organization of other students who had no first-hand knowledge of the situation to pressure the school into an unexamined response. by the The response from the Hamline administration is reprehensible. Here is an NBC News story. Here is a story from Minnesota Public Radio. Here is a link to an article in the Atlantic. Here is a story from the Washington Post.
UPDATE, January 17-- "Hamline University officials made an about-face on Tuesday in its treatment of a lecturer who showed an image of the Prophet Muhammad in an art history class, walking back one of their most controversial statements — that showing the image was Islamophobic. They also said that respect for Muslim students should not have superseded academic freedom." --NYTimes
Dr López Prater's suit against the school continues because of devasting harm to her and her career. She plans to teach at Macalester College in the spring.
A compilation of comment at InterfaithAmeica.
Islamic Art . . . for understanding . . . the Muslim World
Historic debate over Christian images
King Holiday Essay — 2023 January 16
Download a PDF of Vern's 2-page summary of the genius of the spiritual approach of Martin Luther King Jr by clicking this link.
You can also read the Letter from a Birmingham Jail here.
Bill Tammeus writes about King's visits to Kansas City here.
I remember meeting King in a church basement in Washington, DC, the year before he was assassinated. I remember his appearance was delayed quite a while as his team checked the church for threats and dangers, as those of us gathered to hear him hoped to see him alive. It was a dark time. I remember his brilliant analysis of Vietnam, and particularly its effect on young Black men.
I was a student at the University of Chicago Divinity School when he was assassinated. The next Sunday was Palm Sunday, April 7, and I was to be a guest preacher. I remember struggling to find something uplifting to say, and thankfully, able to rely on King's teachings and his public ministry in the context of the Christian story. I used a recording of the April 3 "Mountain Top" speech in many sermons in the following months.
I remember studying the writings and speeches of King, with their eloquence and depth. Each year I continue to reread the Letter from the Birmingham Jail, which every year renews me with astonishment. I also especially cherish his last sermon, March 31, at the Washington National Cathedral, a few days before his assassination. And I claim King also as an exemplar of interfaith respect, which is why I wrote this essay.
To celebrate World Interfaith Harmony week, we offer one of our most cited essays, "Stealing Another's Faith." The question of honoring without misappropriating material from others is not so easy, and this essay raises awareness so faiths can be less in conflict and more in harmony. Read, download this PDF, and share this important essay by Vern -- with excerpts from Huston Smith and Harvey Cox.
CRES senior associate minister David Nelson enjoys the company of Alvin Brooks, the recipient of the Invictus Award for Social Justice at William Jewell College in a ceremony honoring Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. January 16 at the school's John Gano Memorial Chapel. The 39th annual King Celebration was sponsored by the Clay County African American Legacy and the Northland Martin Luther King, Jr. Program Committee.
February 22 Wednesday 4-6 pm, Al will be the featured guest during Black History Month at the observance of the 125th anniversary of the Westport Branch Library, which he mentions in the Acknowledgements in his memoir, Binding Us Together: A Civic Rights Activities Reflects on a Lifetime of Community and Public Service, copies of which will be available for purchase and signing. A video made in January with Al and CRES minister emeritus Vern Barnet will be screened during the celebration.
Sufi talisman (Louvre) and Dore's Dante Paradiso Canto 31
Islamic and Christian mysticism
Forrest Pierce and Kurt Knecht in Dialogue
verbal and musical,
and new music by them both,
with soprano Sarah Tannehill Anderson
2023 February 9 Thursday 7 pm, free
St Paul's Episcopal Church, 11 E 40th, KCMO
Forrest Farhad Pierce teaches composition at the University of Kansas and is a practicing Sufi. Kurt Knecht is St Paul's organist and a composer with a long time interest in Christian mysticism and contemplative practices.
When Even Evil
Will Ordain the Good
2022: Mar 2, 9, 16, 23
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOADLenten Series:
THE DRAFT 8-PAGE STUDY GUIDE PDF
Lent is a special time to explore the powerful mysteries of the crucified and resurrected love of the Christian Savior. As terrain for this exploration, the Reverend Vern Barnet, DMn, offers sonnets from the “Credo” section his book, Thanks for Noticing: The Interpretation of Desire with art and music for discussion.
Vern wrote the Wednesday "Faith and Beliefs" column 1994-2012 for The Kansas City Star and has written a dozen essays for the diocesan magazine, Spirit, 2015-2017. He is a layman at Saint Paul's Episcopal Church and he serves on the diocesan Commission on Ministry. He is minister emeritus at CRES — the Center for Religious Experience and Study. He founded the Kansas City Interfaith Council in 1989.
Free copies of the book will be given to class members to celebrate the publication of the second edition expected sometime in March. Copies of the sonnets will be supplied for each session.
Mar 1 - The Jesus of History or the
Christ of Faith?
Here is the 8-page study guide in PDF
theme music "Third Tune" by Thomas Tallis
an instrumental version - a choral version - Fantasia by RVW
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8oKEx1-J1w - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD5TG8z3-SM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihx5LCF1yJY - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0AuHYNj8qQ
Two views of an icon of Christ teaching and Velázquez’s "Christ after
the Flagellation contemplated by the Christian Soul" Mar 1 and Mar 8
The themes help us focus on kindness in seven different ways, on seven different days.
2023 April 5-13
LOVE DISCOVER OTHERS CONNECT YOU GO ONWARD
The SevenDays website gives you
the SevenDays story (with the horrific past
on April 14, 2014), the present, and the future,
the SevenDays events this year, how to get involved, resources, and an opportunity to shop and various sponsorship opportunities.
CRES is glad to have been involved from the very first year with an interfaith panel, and admires the folks and the organization involved for turning tragedy into continuing community benefit by advancing understanding and relationships.
A way of understanding 22 years since 9/11
While the 9/11 attacks 22 years ago opened the gates of hell, the way our government has responded has brought us inside hell's domain. The smoke from that day, the acrid fumes, amplified into war, brings us purblind to the charred and hobbled Body Politic. How do we understand what has happened? How do we move forward?
9/11: METAPHORICAL MALADY:
1. Before 9/11, terrorism had been dealt with as a CRIME, internationally and at home. The violation of life and property in an otherwise orderly society makes the terrorist an especially despised outlaw. We employ a legal system to assure justice by punishing the criminal and removing the criminal from society. International courts have done the same.
2. But since September 11 we have used a WAR metaphor. Of course the metaphor is hardly new. We love war. We have fought the war against poverty and the war against drugs, though it is hard for us to admit defeat, even though Vietnam and Afghanistan are history now. We still fight the war against cancer, against crime, against . . . you name it.
But a war against terrorism was new. The metaphor had power because we struggled not just against isolated attack but against an organized force seeking not just advantage through harm of a target but rather destruction of a government or civilization. Though we ourselves use violence, we assumed our own righteousness would bring us victory over evil.
Both of the metaphors of crime and war too easily commend themselves because they are simple, and rest on the assumption that we are wholly good — and our opponents are completely evil.
3. A third metaphor might come closer to the complexity of the situation: DISEASE. Here the metaphor suggests not two separate, competing powers but of all humanity as a sick body, within the organs of communities, cities, and nations, afflicted in various ways, degrading or sustaining each other in different degrees, infected with individuals and groups poisoned (using Buddhist language) with greed, fear, and ignorance. Now, with COVID, we are learning that, as Martin Luther King said, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Just so, CRES insists that the three great crises of our time, in the environment, in personhood, and in the social order, are all intertwined.
And that the world's Primal, Asian, and Monotheistic traditions, respectively, provide the therapy to heal the planet, revivify personhood, and restore social order.
Let us bring the healing powers of generosity, fellowship, and understanding to one another, expanding a circle of joy in service.
On the first anniversary of 9/11, CRES opened a day-long observance beginning with a water ceremony between City Hall and the Federal Justice Center, later shown on national CBS-TV. Click here to see a 3-minute excerpt from that ritual.
Vern offers his conclusions
from over 50 years of experience and study: in a troubled world, what paths
lie forward? and how can one dare offer praise for the intertwined mix
of the horror and the beauty of existence?
2022 -- LAST YEAR'S ANNOUNCEMENT
Annual TABLE OF FAITHS
Fundraiser and Signature Event
Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center - Independence, MO
the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council
now independent but originally a program of CRES.
The Council writes --
Interfaith cooperation is key to transforming this religiously diverse society into a more just, kind, and pluralistic nation, and world. We ask ourselves what it would look like if every American, regardless of their religion or no religion, or worldview, was inspired and equipped to:
2022 David Nelson, SevenDays
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE Table of Faiths EARLY YEARS --#CouncilPhoto1989_____________________________________________________________
The first Table of Faiths event, with David Nelson as convener, was a luncheon at the Marriott Muehlebach Hotel downtown Nov 10, 2005. Alvin Brooks, one of the co-chairs (Gayle Krigel, Mahnaz Shabbir, and Chuck Stanford), welcomed guests. Mayor Kay Barnes was the keynote speaker and presented the first Table of Faiths Award to Vern Barnet.
The second Table of Faiths luncheon, Nov 14, 2006, honored Don and Adel Hall and Ed Chasteen.
The third Table of Faiths luncheon, Nov 7, 2007, honored Alvin L Brooks and The Kansas City Star.
The fourth Table of Faiths luncheon, Nov 13, 2008, included a presentation of Donna Ziegenhorn's play, The Hindu and the Cowboy. Honored were Robert Lee Hill and the Shawnee Mission Medical Center, and Steve Jeffers (1948-2008) was lovingly remembered.
The fifth Table of Faiths luncheon, Nov 12, 2009, introduced The Steve Jeffers Leadership Award, given to Ahmed El-Sherif. All Souls Unitarian Church was also recognized, and Allan Abrams (1939-2009) was lovingly remembered.
The sixth Table of Faiths luncheon, Nov 11, 2010, honored Notre Dame de Sion High School with the Table of Faiths Award and Queen Mother Maxie McFarlane with the Steve Jeffers Leadership Award.
The seventh Table of Faiths luncheon, Nov 10, 2011 honored the Kansas City Public Library with the Table of Faiths Award and Donna Ziegenhorn with the Steve Jeffers Leadership Award.
The eighth and last Table of Faiths luncheon, Nov 8, 2012, presented the theme of "Spirituality and the Environment: Caring for the Earth, Our Legacy." The Steve Jeffers Leadership Award was given to Mayor Sly James and the Table of Faiths Award went to Unity Church of Overland Park.
There was no Table of Faiths event in 2013. Beginning in 2014, Table of Faiths events were no longer major downtown civic luncheons involving elected and cultural leaders. With a longer evening format, the first in the new Table of Faiths dinners was held May 8, 2014, at Unity Village.
Vern Barnet founded the Council
in 1989 as a program of CRES and is Council Convener Emeritus. The Council newsletter has
published his brief notes about three
milestones in the early history of the Council.
2023 TBA 2022 November 13 Sunday 5 pm CT
INTERFAITH THANKSGIVING GATHERING
“Promoting Interfaith Peace, Renewal and Regrowth”
FREE online interfaith gathering -- including interfaith prayers of gratitude.
Hosted by Heartland Chapter of the Alliance of Divine Love
Co-sponsored by Greater KC Interfaith Council
Livestream on www.facebook.com/HeartLoveKC
The annual observance was sponsored by CRES for its first 25 years.
This year, 2022, is the 376th year of the tradition and we are indeed grateful to the
sponsors for perpetuating the recognition of the place of gratitude in every faith.
Having spawned several other organizations,
including the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council,
we continue to offer programs initiated by and through others
but we no longer create our own in order to focus on our unique work.
For interfaith and cultural calendars maintained by other groups, click here.
A Free Monthly Discussion Group Led by David E Nelson
C R E S senior associate minister
president, The Human Agenda
“The purpose of a Vital Conversation is not to
win an argument,
in dialog that will add value to the participants and to the world.
In Vital Conversations, we become co-creators of a better community.
The discussions began May 24, 2002, at the CRES facility
by examining Karen Armstrong’sThe Battle for God
2023 Vital Conversations Schedule
2023 January 11 Wednesday 1-2:30 p.m. hybrid on Zoom and in person
100 Views From This Seat by Leroy Seat
Leroy and his wife June attended Vital Conversations from the time we started meeting at the MCPL – Antioch Branch over 10 years ago. He is clearly a “thinking friend” and remains persistent in sharing his reflections. Beginning in 2009 he has blogged on every day divisible by five. “Reflections about Life, Love, Light, and Liberty” have been both personal, light-hearted, religious, ethical, and political. I have appreciated these provocative reflections even though I have not responded to every one of them. This collection is an excellent representation of the delicious variety of subjects. I invite you buy his book, select one of your favorites and come on Zoom or at the library to thank Leroy and give some response.
The View from This Seat blog
Clif Hostetler's review on Goodreads.com -- click for embedded linksThis book consists of 100 blog postings selected from over 800 postings that the author, Leroy Seat, made at regular five day intervals between the years 2010 to 2020 on his blog, The View from this Seat.
On this date (January 9, 2023) as I write this review, I am anticipating that tomorrow Leroy will be posting his 1,000th blog post!. Then the following day he will be meeting with the Vital Conversations book group to discuss this book, and presumably there also will be some discussion of posts made since the era covered by this book including his 1,000th blog post.
His posts over these past twelve years have provided reflections on religious, ethical, and political issues as well as personal experiences and memories. His views come from eighty-four years of living, beginning in rural northern Missouri, then obtaining a PhD, and then working as a Baptist missionary to Japan and as full-time faculty member at Seinan Gakuin University (Fukuoka, Japan) from 1968 to 2004. Since his retirement he has continued to be active in many facets of life including the writing of the following books in addition to 100 Views from This Seat (links are to my reviews).
Fed Up with Fundamentalism: A Historical, Theological, and Personal Appraisal of Christian Fundamentalism, by Leroy Seat
The Limits of Liberalism: A Historial Theological and Personal Appraisal of Christian Liberalism, by Leroy Seat
Thirty True Things Everyone Needs to Know Now, by Leroy Seat
A Wonderful Life: The Story of My Life from Birth until my 82nd Birthday (1938~2020), by Leroy Seat
I have found Leroy's blog posts quite readable, partly because he conscientiously kept the word count per post below 700. Now that I've read this book I know of another reason seven hundred is a good word limit, it fits on two pages (front and back). Thus the one hundred posts fit neatly onto two hundred pages of this book. This word limit also allowed the inclusion of some of the comments left by readers on the blog. Those of you who are personally acquainted with Leroy will probably recognize some of the names of the comment writers. I was surprised to discover two comments written by me!
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2023 February 8 Wednesday 1-2:30 p.m. Hybrid on Zoom and in person.
100 The Way of Happiness by L. Ron Hubbard
This is a non-religious moral code based on common sense distributed by the church of Scientology worldwide. “The Way to Happiness” and the program it inspired have helped millions around the world lead happier, more fulfilling lives.” Present for our Vital Conversation will be members of The Kansas City Church of Scientology. The booklets are free, and you can pick one up from me (David Nelson) or free online at www.thewaytohappiness.org.
We will have members of this "new" religion with us. You can visit their website, https://www.scientology.org, to view very professionally done videos. Remember to listen and watch with "curiosity not judgement" as we seek to understand others
Clif Hostetler's review on Goodreads.com -- click for embedded links
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2023March 8 Wednesday 1-2:30 p.m. on Zoom and in person.
To Keep From Undressing by Aisha Sharif
“From the intersection of Black culture and religion, to conversations with jinn, to motherhood, marriage and the meaning of hijab, Ms. Sharif beautifully melds private and public, interweaving bold and delicate themes into a one-of-kind tapestry of words and freeing truths.” --Nadirah Angail.
Aisha Sharif shared an original poem at the last Tables of Faith gathering of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council and will be with us to share in our conversation. When I read her poems, I feel like I am eavesdropping into the personal journey of a sister I long to know better. We will meet two weeks before the beginning of Ramadan.
Clif Hostetler's review on Goodreads.com -- click for embedded links
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Click here for 20024 Vital Conversations.
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Selections are subject to change. For Zoom
link and additional information,