Call for Submissions
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Call for Submissions
• Perceptions and concerns of Hindus, Muslims, Pagans and others related to predatory proselytism.
• Religious, ethnic, and nationalist concerns about conversion and identity theft.
• Definitional and praxis issues that distinguish between ethical evangelism and predatory proselytism.
• Asymmetry of power issues related to evangelism, particularly between Christians and minority religions in an American Christendom context.
• Considerations related to finding a “middle way” or balance between the twin religious freedoms for proclamation and persuasion as well as freedoms related to a lack of interest in hearing such messages.
• How the issues of predatory proselytism should be factored into interreligious dialogue, as well as missions and evangelism.
Abstracts should be sent for review to John Morehead ( email@example.com). The deadline for abstract submissions is June 15, 2013.
Friday, May 03, 2013
posts on the topic. We hope these provide information for reflection by Evangelicals, and among our conversation partners in various religions.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
As the United States stands on the brink of nuclear war in light of escalating threats from North Korea, the most informed man on the leader of that country, Kim Jung-Un, is not our Secretary of State, John Kerry, or President Obama, but former NBA great Dennis Rodman, who goes by the sports nickname ‘The Worm.’ As a result of his visit to the country as part of shooting a documentary, and subsequent friendship with North Korea’s leader, he suggested that Obama should call North Korea’s leader and discuss basketball. He was widely scorned, but I argue he’s on to something lost in both politics and religious discourse.
Dennis Rodman recently traveled to North Korea to visit Kim Jong-Un, and returned calling him his friend and suggesting that something as simple as Obama picking up the phone and talking about their common passion of basketball might be enough to chill relations between the two nations, and possibly stop nuclear war. With very few exceptions, the media ridiculed Rodman and his suggestion, laughingly dismissed with the label “basketball diplomacy.” The Obama Administration was also quick to issue a negative response to Rodman’s efforts, with White House Spokesman Jay Carney simply restating U.S. concerns about human rights violations, and noting that lines of communication are always open between the two countries. This casual dismissal not only took place by way of discussion about Rodman, but also in front of the athlete himself, such as George Stephanopoulos’ interview on ABC’s This Week.
Granted, Rodman seemed uncomfortable and out of his depth with American political culture and its years of reflection and policy making on North Korea. But should he, can he, be taken seriously on this? One website even went so far as to state, “There’s no reason for the rest of us to take [Rodman], or his methods, seriously, though.”
After some reflection, in my view the media, conservative and progressive politicians, the Obama Administration, and much of America’s citizenry, were far too quick to assume Rodman could not be taken seriously with an idea that could really change the course of international affairs. Rodman was right, and he has articulated a simple practice of human interaction with promising possibilities in a great number of areas of life.
What was it that Rodman suggested that many found so laughable? He said that Obama should pick up the phone and call Kim Jong-Un, and talk about something that both men have in common. He’s saying, engage in personal interaction as human beings about a topic of mutual passion, and see what might happen in transforming the relations between the two countries as a result. At first consideration this may seem simplistic and naïve. But there’s good social psychology behind. The scientific and experiential data indicates that when enemies or rivals are brought together for personal encounter and conversation, over time they tend to develop more positive views of each other, and while their disagreements and tensions don’t disappear, there is a newfound ability to maintain them in peaceful and civil fashion.
This is one of the elements used by the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy. In our work we bring Mormons and Evangelicals, Jews and Muslims, Christians and Pagans together, religious groups usually at odds with each other. For those who make the effort and come together, even while discussing and not ignoring areas of unresolvable disagreement, a transformation occurs in heart and mind. The parties are able to come to a new understanding of each other as friends, even while disagreeing and perhaps even finding aspects of the other’s beliefs and practices distasteful. They move beyond the traditional categories of enemies and friends, to the creation of a new social category, that of trusted rival.
Some may say in response to this suggestion that it is inappropriate. A couple of years ago I was invited by FRD to be part of a small group that would speak Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with during his visit to the United Nations in New York. I wasn’t able to make the trip, although I wanted to, but I touched bases with a fellow Evangelical who likewise had received the same invitation, but turned it down as inappropriate. He argued that Ahmadinejad was like Hitler, and it would have been wrong to meet with such a dictator in that it would grant him undue legitimacy. The same argument is used in regards to Kim Jong-Un. He is considered a dictator, a murder, and a leader who oppresses his people. Better to keep our distance, denounce the human rights abuses, and continue to rattle our military and political sabers.
But such thinking is clearly wrong-headed. I would argue that it is possible to sit down with someone like Kim Jong-Un or Ahmadinejad, and while not granting approval of their troubling actions, and in a position of strength coupled with diplomatic humility, engage such people in a face-to-face meeting. And the subject matter for such conversations need not be a continual restatement of our areas of concern and disagreement. Those should not be ignored, but they are well known, and there is a place for expanding the conversation so that a humanizing process takes place and relationships can develop. Over time such processes will result in the formation of trusted rivals, which holds far more promise than the perpetuation of confrontational engagement from afar.
What is the alternative? The U.S. went to war in Korea in the 1950s with the idea of stopping the spread of Communism, and after mass death on both sides, the result was a Korea divided into South and North (Communism still firmly in place), the ongoing placement of U.S. troops in the region, and the threat of nuclear war always on the horizon. Lately the rhetoric from North Korea has ramped up, and in response, the U.S. sent F-22 stealth fighter jets and a naval destroyer with the capacity to down surface to air missiles should there be a detected launch of a possible nuclear device. Our policy for many years has been one of detached isolationism. The idea is to keep North Korea isolated, continue to exert pressure through the use of United Nations sanctions, and issue statements of denunciation over concerns from afar. Some consideration has been given lately to moving away from isolation to one of engagement, but personal forms of interaction that shift from the rhetoric of a dictator enslaving a rogue nuclear nation have yet to be considered. Indeed, in his entire first term, President Obama did not make a single effort to reach out personally to Kim Jong-Un. This administration merely perpetuates the policies of their predecessors that have been tried and found wanting. In my view for decades we have been fulfilling the pop culture definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Perhaps it wouldn’t work. President Obama may one day pick up the phone, or get on Air Force One, and travel across the sea to sit down with North Korea’s leader. And maybe after talking about basketball, discussing their favorite NBA teams and stars, when the conversation turns to their grievances, each man remains as staunchly committed to their loggerheads as they are now. Or Kim Kong-Un may prove himself through his actions and speech in relationship and conversation to be little more than the dictator that America assumes him to be. But we won’t know if we don’t try. Relationships and conversations between rivals have a transformative effect in the area of religious conflict. I’ve seen it, and I practice it all the time. It will work in politics too, if our political leaders can find the will to resist jumping on the bandwagon of dismissal and ridicule of a simple idea simply to stave off complaints from an opposing party or bring their actions into conformity with the latest polls.
Dennis Rodman is certainly outside the bounds of “normal” society. But he’s right on the personal element, on friendships and conversations. Let’s not dismiss a possibility simply because we find the messenger flamboyant, and therefore lacking in credibility. Let’s consider taking the risk of trying basketball diplomacy so that personal relationships between trusted rivals can serve us all as a tool in preventing nuclear war.
Friday, April 12, 2013
Diabolique No. 15 (March/April 2013) is now available on newsstands. As the cover indicates, this edition is devoted to an exploration of "The Dark Side of Rock N' Roll." I have an essay in this issue titled "Devil's Music: Rock N' Roll, Heavy Metal, and the Dangers of Satanic Panics." The whole issue is great, and I couldn't be happier with the photos and layout that incorporates my essay which can be downloaded on my Academia.edu page. My thanks go to everyone at Diabolique for this opportunity.
Friday, March 29, 2013
My latest review was published today, a consideration of The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims by Nathan Lean (Pluto Press, 2012). Here is an excerpt:
Human beings are wired to be aware of difference. It is natural part of human nature to forge various social alliances that foster senses of “us,” the insiders, in distinction to “them,” the outsiders. Problems arise when the outsiders become the enemy, and they further function in such a way that one’s individual and collective identity is created by way of opposition to the other. In the United States, this dynamic is all too frequently found in the post-9/11 environment in regards to Islam, where a cottage industry portrays Islam as a monstrous entity, wholly a religion of violence, pursuing terrorism and the overthrow of the US Constitution to be replaced with “sharia law.” The result of this narrative is a frighteningly large number of people adopting “Islamophobia,” an irrational fear of Muslims and the Islamic religion.The review can be read at this link.
Nathan Lean discusses the phenomenon of right-wing construction of Islamic monstrosity in his volume The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims. The book reveals the astonishing success this industry has had in shaping negative public opinions about Islam. While one might expect that anti-Muslim sentiments was high among Americans shortly after the attacks of 9/11, Lean shares Pew Research Center polling data wherein “59 percent of Americans had a favorable opinion of Muslims just two months after the collapse of the Twin Towers.” Further, a few months later, “45 percent of Americans” held “views of Muslims that were generally positive.” However, through the prolific distribution of its message through various forms of media, the right-wing Islamophobia industry was influential in shaping strongly negative opinions of Islam. In 2002, hate crimes against Muslims increased by 1600 percent, and in 2004, 46 percent of Americans “believed that Islam was more likely than other religions to encourage violence.”
How did this industry begin? Who and what make up some of its major elements? How have the media, and especially the Internet, helped carry the message of Islamic monstrosity? And perhaps most disturbingly from an Evangelical perspective, why have Evangelicals been a segment of the population all too eager to receive and perpetuate this message? Lean’s Islamophobia provides answers to these and many other important questions, which represents one of the most significant political, cultural, religious, and theological challenges of the 21st century.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
In a previous post I mentioned the interreligious dialogue conference at Utah Valley University on March 1 of this year. The event brought together representatives from Mormonism, Judaism, Atheism, and Evangelicalism for conversations. You can learn more about the conference here. The video for the entire conference is now online. It is worthwhile, with almost five hours of material.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
I recently participated in a podcast at New Wine, New Wineskins, which involved two Pagans and two Evangelicals. The discussion went very well, and covered difficult but important issues related to our two religious communities. After the podcast was published, the participants began to promote it in various places. This then led to comments by Pagans and Evangelicals. Last weekend I read these comments with great concern, and felt compelled to write a heart-felt response primarily to Pagans, but also to Evangelicals with ears to hear. After writing the essay I submitted it for publication consideration, and Christine Hoff Kraemer was kind enough to allow me to publish the work as a guest writer on her blog Sermons from the Mound at the Pagan Channel of Patheos. Christine is a scholar who does great work as a scholar in the areas of Paganism, theology, film, and other elements in popular culture. Here is her gracious introduction to my guest essay:
Today, we welcome John W. Morehead, a researcher, writer, and speaker and advocate for positive Pagan-Christian interfaith dialogue. Recently I wrote to you all about the importance of intrafaith work in the Pagan movement to bring more understanding and better communication between traditions. But my wider inspiration for that is the kind of interfaith work that John speaks of so passionately here. Think Pagans and Evangelicals have nothing to say to each other? (Confused about what the difference is between an Evangelical and a fundamentalist Christian?) Read on…I encourage the thoughtful, informed, civil, and critical comments and interactions by Pagans and Christians.
Friday, March 08, 2013
A new podcast is available at New Wine, New Wineskins that brings together two Pagans (Mike Stygal and Jason Pitzl-Waters), and two Evangelicals (Paul Louis Metzger and John Morehead). The hour-long discussion tackles a number of questions, including Why should Pagans and Christians be involved in dialogue?, What keeps us from dialogue?, What about the issue of evangelism for Christians as a barrier to dialogue?, and Where do we go from here? I've touched on some of these issues previously in an interview for the Alternative Religion Educational Network. (The interview starts on page 17.)
Listen to the podcast discussion here. Jason Pitzl-Waters discussion of this within the broader stream of Pagan dialogue participants at The Wild Hunt is helpful too.
Tuesday, March 05, 2013
"The Significance and Purpose of the 'Anti-Cult Movement' in Facilitating Disaffiliation From a New Religious Movement: Resources for Self-construction or a Justificatory Account" by Dominiek Coates
AbstractTranslation: Anti-cult organizations provide a secular means by which the individual disaffiliating from a new religion can reduce their cognitive dissonance and construct a new sense of identity. In application to the Evangelical counter-cult an approach is used wherein brainwashing is eschewed (for the most part) in favor of theological narratives of false teaching and demonic ensnarement, whereby the rejection of former identity and teachings in a new religion, coupled with an embrace of new doctrines in an alternative religious community helps provide the formative elements of ongoing identity (re)construction.
The current study investigates the experiences of 23 former members of New Religious Movements (NRMs) or cults with anti-cult practices and discourses in Australia. All the participants in this study report some involvement with anti-cult practices and/or engagement with brainwashing explanations of NRM affiliations; however, they describe the significance of these anti-cult resources for their sense of self in different ways. The findings suggests that for some former members anti-cult resources, in particular the brainwashing discourses, merely served as a convenient account through which to explain or justify their former NRM affiliation and manage embarrassment or possible stigmatisation, while for others these resources served an important identity function at a time of loss and uncertainty. These participants describe their involvement with anti-cult practices as a much needed identity resource in which they could anchor their sense of self following the dramatic loss of identity associated with NRM disaffiliation. To make sense of the variations in the way in which anti-cult practices and discourses informed the participants” sense of self Symbolic Interactionist understandings of the self are applied.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
I'm a Burning Man academic, listed on the festival's official website. I state that at the outset so that readers understand my perspective and bias. Consider what follows accordingly.
The Burning Man blog recently featured an essay titled "Burning Man should treat 'Academia' the way it does 'Commercialization.'" The essay written by someone with the playa name Caveat Magister, who states in various places throughout the essay:
"I’ve reluctantly concluded that academia per see is very, very, bad for Burning Man – and that we’d be better off if Burners engage in a campaign of civil disobedience against it."If I understand the author's argument, it seems as if the methods of the academy are seen as being at odds with the freedoms of Burning Man and its principles, and in addition the definitions of the scholars may be seen as impositions on the self-definitions of participants themselves. I understand the author's concerns, but as I stated in my MA thesis on the festival, while festival organizers and participants resist fixed definitions, surely some type of understandings can be gleaned by careful observation and reflection. This may at times pose a conflict between the academy and participants, but it need not be. Indeed, they could be complimentary.
"But while any given piece of individual research is likely harmless, the project of academia itself is kryptonite to the spirit of Burning Man."
"Above all, we must not let academia define our culture on its terms. We should be willing, and eager, to confuse, befuddle, and overwhelm the academic attempt to define Burning Man at every stage … from strenuously critiquing published accounts to refusing to respect data-gathering processes … and under no circumstances take academic studies too seriously."
Not only does the author's argument seem difficult to sustain, it would seem to fly in the face of the libertarian ideals of Burning Man. The festival is comprised of thousands of differing and at times conflicting interpretations. Why not allow the various academics to have their interpretations, and if participants or organizers disagree with it, so what? And how does this perspective relate to the Burning Man ideal of radical inclusion? It would seem that a diversity of opinions and interpretations are allowed so long as they don't run counter to those of certain segments of the festival population, and if this is correct then how is this not to be construed as anything other than a form of orthodoxy and boundary maintenance, some of the very things Burning Man is reacting against in the default world?
Burners might also consider that a "no academics allowed" perspective on the festival stifles in-depth reflection on the variety of meanings of what the event means to individuals, to event organizers, as well as to American and Western cultures in which it is situated. Not only that, it cuts off a venue for critique. In one example of how this might be problematic, one of the challenges Burning Man faces as a counter-cultural movement is the difficulty of maintaining the tension necessary for a counter-culture in relation to mainstream culture. Some of the academic analysis of Burning Man might help identify areas where the organization/movement might consider in critical self-reflection as it navigates its way forward. Cut off academic critique and its only the insiders who can provide this content, and surely insider-only perspectives have their biases in need of a helpful corrective.
Burning Man has extended and invitation to academics to explore their festival and I hope this continues. To oppose this with the treat of civil disobedience is wrong-headed in my view, and problematic.
Friday, February 22, 2013
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Today I stumbled upon an interesting comparison of Burning Man Festival with the Kumbh Mela festival in India. The contrast at Fest300 by Chip Conley is largely through photographs accompanied by some commentary, but the contrast of these transformational festivals across cultures is worth taking a look at for those students and scholars of religion and festival culture. The photo above is taken from the site with the author's comments:
I know Burning Man founder Larry Harvey didn’t have Kumbh Mela in mind when the he first burned an effigy on the beach in San Francisco. This blossomed into a festival dedicated to using art as a means of one regenerating oneself, but the similarities are uncanny and say something about the commonality of enduring human ritual. Here’s a few Kumbh Mela pictures considered from the viewpoint of Burning Man.
Monday, February 18, 2013
Fox News recently portrayed an aspect of Paganism inaccurately and unfairly, apparently as a way of bolstering conservative and Christian feelings of religious persecution in the public square. As the Witchy Words blog reports:
Not only do they repeatedly refer to Wicca as "Wiccanism," but suddenly jump from a figure of 20% (which accounts for the eight standard Wiccan sabbats) to 20 holidays. They continue to stereotype what a standard Wiccan is like, calling us "compulsive Dungeons and Dragons players" or "middle-aged, twice-divorced older [women] living in a rural area." Neither of which I fall under.The Wild Hunt blog also provides additional video and media examples.
Conservatives, whether of a political or religious stripe, can and should do better than this in at least three ways. First, a fair and accurate understanding is called for. Second, Wicca should be portrayed just as sympathetically as an individual would want their religion and religious commitments portrayed. And third, conservatives have to find a way to move beyond demonizing others in the culture wars as a means of boundary maintenance and bolstering a sense of being under attack. To this Evangelical and religious diplomat, it doesn't appear like this is a very Christlike way of religious encounter.
A new trailer has just been completed that promotes Transitions: The Mormon Migration from Religion to Relationship. This will be used in a new social media marketing campaign to increase awareness of the resource, and it will be featured in a revised form of the website at www.LDStransitions.com. Please take a look at the trailer and pass along the link to others.
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Intersecting Convictions: Core Beliefs and Civil Dialogue
Utah Valley University Interreligious Engagement Initiative
Friday, March 1, 2013
Human history is marred by conflict rooted in religious differences. A key component in the advancement of humanity toward mutual respect and peaceful coexistence is the practice of interreligious diplomacy between competing traditions. Productive engagement across religious lines includes the exploration of foundational principles and points of contact. This conference is designed to both examine and model the highest standards of interreligious engagement free from coercion, disrespect, and uncivil exchange.
Format and Participants
The conference sessions will include a range of religious and nonreligious voices. The aim of this dynamic blend of panelists is to develop a richer understanding of contemporary American and world religious landscapes. The conference will be an opportunity to: 1) adhere to Krister Stendahl’s (former dean of the Harvard Divinity School) charge to ask adherents of a tradition directly about their beliefs or positions and not its enemies; 2) observe civil dialogue between presenters that requires the communication of complex core convictions; and 3) allow conference attendees to engage presenters and, panelists, in productive and stimulating dialogue.
Schedule of Events
Welcome and Introduction:
Blair Van Dyke, Interfaith Dialogue—Discipline and Diplomacy
Judaism & Mormonism
Joshua Stanton (Jewish)
Joanna Brooks (Mormon)
Evangelicalism & Atheism
Chris Stedman (Atheist-former Evangelical)
John Morehead (Evangelical)
Joanna Brooks is a national voice on religion and American life. She is the author of The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith, a senior correspondent for Religion Dispatches, an award-winning scholar and teacher, and chair of the Department of English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University.
John Morehead is the Custodian for the Evangelical Chapter of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy and Director of the Western Institute for Intercultural Studies. He is the co-editor and contributing author for Encountering New Religious Movements: A Holistic Evangelical Approach, and the editor of Beyond the Burning Times: A Pagan and Christian in Dialogue, and co-founder and editor of Sacred Tribes Journal. He has been involved for many years in interreligious relationships and conversations in the contexts of Islam, Mormonism, and Paganism.
Joshua Stanton is Associate Director of the Center for Global Judaism at Hebrew College and Director of Communications at the Coexist Foundation. He is Founding co-Editor of the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue, which is helping to build inter-religious studies as an academic field. Josh likewise co-edits O.N. Scripture -- The Torah, a weekly online Torah commentary featured on The Huffington Post. Joshua Stanton will be ordained a rabbi in May 2013 and received his Masters in Hebrew Literature in 2012 from Hebrew Union College, where he studied as a Schusterman Rabbinical Fellow. Josh serves on the Board of Directors of Odyssey Networks, WorldFaith, and Education as Transformation, as well as the Editorial Advisory Boards of CrossCurrents Magazine and The Interfaith Observer.
Chris Stedman is the Assistant Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University and the Values in Action Coordinator for the Humanist Community at Harvard. He is also the Emeritus Managing Director of State of Formation at the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue and founder of the first blog dedicated to exploring atheist-interfaith engagement, NonProphet Status. He has written articles for The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, and Religion Dispatches, among other forums. Chris is an atheist working to foster positive and productive dialogue and collaborative action between faith communities and the nonreligious.
Blair Van Dyke coordinates Interfaith Engagement and Mormon Studies at the Orem Institute of Religion and also is an adjunct professor in the Department of Philosophy at Utah Valley University. He serves on the advisory board of the Mormon Chapter of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy. He has published articles in domestic and international journals and has co-authored a book on the history of Mormonism in the Middle East. His recent interreligious undertakings have engaged Mormons, Muslims, Methodists, Catholics, Evangelicals, Hindus, and Adventists in constructive dialogue.
Interreligious Engagement Initiative - Utah Valley University
Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding - Brigham Young University
Foundation for Religious Diplomacy - Evangelical & Mormon Chapters
Friday, February 08, 2013
My latest essay at the Evangelical Channel of Patheos is now online. It is titled "Interfaith and Religious Difference: A Dialogue About Dialogue." The point of departure for the piece is a 2007 episode of Religion & Ethics Newsweekly on the interfaith work of Eboo Patel and his Interfaith Youth Core. In my essay I interact with his discussion of a space between the public and private dimensions of faith in his approach among students involved in interfaith. From the essay:
Third, I would argue that this is one of the weaknesses of interfaith approaches, and that an important dimension is missing that would strengthen his worthwhile interfaith activities among America's youth. There are many interfaith organizations and approaches to bringing adherents of various religious traditions together. Many come from the more progressive end of the spectrum, and they advocate a downplaying or ignoring of contradictory and competing religious truth claims. As Stephen Prothero has noted in his book God is Not One, this way of working toward the resolution of religious conflict can be a huge problem:Instead of this form of interfaith I suggest religious diplomacy as the better way forward. The essay can be read here.
"The Age of Enlightenment in the eighteenth century popularized the ideal of religious tolerance, and we are all doubtless better for it. But the idea of religious unity is wishful thinking nonetheless, and it has not made the world a safer place. In fact, this naive theological groupthink -- call it Godthink -- has made the world more dangerous."
Monday, February 04, 2013
Grand Rapids, Michigan, is a city with deep roots in conservative Calvinist Christianity—a place where dancing and card playing were once banned, mowing the lawn on Sunday was frowned upon into the 1960s, and in more recent years, a professor who taught evolution at Calvin College encountered harsh criticism. Though the Dutch Reformed Church and its more conservative offshoot, the Christian Reformed Church, is still a strong presence here, Grand Rapids today is also home to 82 Catholic parishes, five mosques, two synagogues, and Hindu, Buddhist, and Sikh temples. Interfaith dialogue would have been considered unacceptable by many here in the past. But in the last year, with support from the mayor and a wide range of community leaders, Grand Rapids has held 250 events aimed at deepening interfaith understanding.Of particular note in the video is Dr. Douglas Kindschi with his distinction between "thin" and "thick" forms of dialogue, with the latter not compromising on religious convictions in interreligious encounters. Another is Pastor Kyle Ray's concerns that many forms of dialogue do indeed compromise religious truth claims, and the pastor reflects the concerns many Evangelicals have about dialogue. Dr. Kindschi's call for "thick" dialogue is the right approach to such endeavors, and the one advocated by the Evangelical Chapter of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy.
The video also details a key demographic in receptivity to interreligious engagement via younger members of a religious tradition. High school as well as college and university students are already interested in engaging other religions more positively, so this makes for the right audience. Even so, it can also be a challenge in that many younger Evangelicals can also be hesitant to engage in "dialogue" and are more interested in evangelism.
Yet in spite of these promising developings in Grand Rapids, it appears that it has yet to impact a key religious demographic, that of Evangelicals. In my follow up to Kelly James Clark in relation to this activity, he responsed that this has yet to spill over into Evangelicalism. Grand Rapids has connections not only to Calvinism and the Christian Reformed Church, but also broader Evangelicalism, including the Evangelical publishers Kregel and Thomas Nelson. If programs like this cannot find a way to prepare Evangelicals in Grand Rapids to embrace a new way of engaging those in other religions that is faithful to their religious convictions and makes a more positive contribution to the common good in the public square, then it cannot serve as a model for the rest of the nation given the size and prominence of American Evangelicals.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
I recently returned from a very productive trip to Portland, Oregon for the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy. In my work with the Evangelical Chapter, I have not only been building that up as chapter custodian, but also serving as a master custodian, providing help to people of goodwill in other religious traditions who are as deeply committed to their religion as I am to Christianity. I am helping them build their chapters so they can prepare their religious communities for interreligious engagement in the best way possible.
One of the ways this took shape recently was with a trip to Portland. The trip, symbolized by the picture above, was like the opening line to a joke: “Three Buddhists, two Evangelicals, and one Mormon walk into a bar.” Only this story was not a joke. Instead, it is an example of a new and promising way of engaging those in other religions.
We traveled to Portland to visit Kyogen Carlson (pictured above, third from the right), a resident teacher who leads the Dharma Rain Zen (Buddhist) Center. Kyogen and his wife and co-abbot Gyokuko (second from right), will be working with a growing network of Buddhists to form the Buddhist chapter of FRD. I traveled with FRD founder and president, Charles Randall Paul (in the center of the picture), and we stayed at the monastery and discussed various aspects of chapter formation and interreligious relationships with the key elements of civility without compromise. Ejo McMullen of Eugene (first on the left of the picture) was another Buddhist and part of this discussion. We finished the day with a lunch, and Paul Louis Metzger (first on the right), who is a professor at Multnomah Biblical Seminary, and who is a charter member of the Evangelical chapter and a Senior Fellow for FRD. During lunch we had an amazing discussion about our mutual desires to see greater religious freedoms in the public square for religious discourse, but without the animosity we often aim at each other. We also discussed our mutual desires to see the others embrace our faith perspectives.
Journal of Asian Mission published in the Philippines and edited by Anne Harper, is focusing on new religions in a special Spring edition. Two book reviews of mine will be included, as will the following essay: "Walter Martin was Wrong: A Critique and Alternative to Evangelical Hermeneutical and Methodological Approaches to 'Cults.'"
The essay can be read here, and a review of George Chryssides' Historical Dictionary of New Religious Movements, 2nd ed., can be found here.
Abstract: For many decades Evangelicals in America and the West have drawn upon a “counter-cult” approach to certain religious groups. The late Walter Martin is an exemplar of this model. This “heresy-rationalist” approach involves a contrast of Christendom’s orthodox doctrine with heretical deviations, and is often accompanied by an apologetic refutation of a religious group’s doctrine and worldview. This approach can also be found outside the West, impacting places as Asia and India. But what if the assumptions of this approach were wrong? This essay describes popular Evangelical assumptions about “the cults,” both in terms of a biblical hermeneutic, and the methodology of engagement that arises from this. A critique is offered, and then an alternative hermeneutic is presented. Consideration is given to the need for sociological assessment of the effectiveness of Evangelical counter-cult methodologies, and a cross-cultural missions model is presented by way of alternative to contemporary ways of engaging various religions.
The essay can be read here, and a review of George Chryssides' Historical Dictionary of New Religious Movements, 2nd ed., can be found here.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Richard Dawkins, the outspoken critique of religion and known as being part of the New Atheists, has been interviewed at Al Jezeera. Muslim journalist Medhi Hasan presents some interesting questions and holds his own quite well in what turns out to be a fascinating exchange. The interview is described by Al Jezeera as follows:
Fanaticism, fundamentalism, superstition and ignorance. Religion is getting a bad press these days. Much of the conflict in the world, from the Middle East to Nigeria and Myanmar, is often blamed on religion.The program might have more accurately described the key question as to how religion is both a force for good and evil rather than as an either/or, but the interview is worth watching, and is a great example of interreligious dialogue. Click the Al Jezeera page for "Dawkins on Religion."
But how are things from a different perspective? Defenders of religion claim Adolf Hitler was an atheist. Communism under Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot or Mao Zedong banned religion, but also massacred millions. And science brought incredible and amazing advances, but also pollution and the atomic bomb.
A critic of religious dogmatism, Professor Richard Dawkins revolutionised genetics in 1976 with the publication of The Selfish Gene, which explained how evolution takes place at the genetic level. He has since written 12 more bestsellers, including The God Delusion which sold millions of copies, was translated into more than 30 languages, and catapulted him to the position of the world's foremost atheist.
Mehdi Hasan interviews evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins at the Oxford Union and asks: Is religion a force for good or evil? Can it co-exist with science? Is science the new religion? And why if god does not exist, is religion so persistent?
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
In my latest essay on the Evangelical Channel I discuss this in a piece titled "A Generous Orthopathy: Evangelicals and a Transformed Affective Dimension of Faith."
An expert from the essay:
Orthopathy comes form the Greek word pathos. Used in a theological context, it refers to the right forms of passions, emotions, and empathies. This is the emotional and attitudinal dimension of our faith. It is my contention that in our concern for orthodoxy and orthopraxy, we end up neglecting, even violating a balanced biblical form of orthopathy, an element just as vital to the right standards of faith as the other elements we tend to emphasize as Evangelicals.
Read the piece and comment here.
Monday, January 07, 2013
I have been working to add blog content for the new website for the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy. The goal is to not only build material for reading, but also create conversations there among people of various religious persuasions as well. One of my posts concerns the recent death of Evangelical radio personality Frank Pastore, and how one Mormon described his feelings. What might we learn from this? Here is an excerpt:
JewishJournal.com includes a blog titled "Jews and Mormons" by Mark Paredes. Paredes wrote a post that discussed Pastore's work on Mormonism and mentioned his death. After describing the way in which he died, at the conclusion of the first paragraph Paredes wrote: " In a few words, my thoughts are these: RIP – and good riddance." In the comments section I responded and I'll share the essence of my thoughts here. In my view, the statement of Paredes quoted above demonstrates precisely what's wrong, not only with Mormon-Evangelical interactions, but with interreligious interactions in general. We connect the views and work of an individual in regards to their religious tradition and how it interacts with our own, and when we bristle at the way in which they describe "us" then this translates into a demonization of them as a person (and many times their religious tradition and community too). The result is the development of a hostile faith identity within us that produces a less than civil approach toward others. Along the way we lose the ability to discuss others in positive terms, even in death as their family grapples with the loss of an individual. I strongly disagreed with the way in which Pastore described Mormonism and engaged with Mormons (not to mention Evangelicals who disagreed with his approach and advocated alternatives). But Paredes' response seems harsh and inappropriate.Read the post here, and then please consider creating an account to leave your comments and join the conversation. Shoot me an email to let me know you applied for an account so I can expedite approval: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, December 16, 2012
My review of Kevin Wetmore's The Theology of Battlestar Galactica: American Christianity in the 2004-2009 Television Series (McFarland, 2012) has been accepted for publication in Colloquium: The Australian and New Zealand Theological Review. The review will be published in issue 45, no. 2 in November 2013. A copy is available on my Academia.edu page.
Friday, December 14, 2012
These Aren’t the Religions You’re Looking For: Jedi Church, Postmodern Spirituality and the Christian Response
The UK census recently made a splash in the international media, but it was largely sensationalistic, focusing on the identification of many with the religion of Jedi Knight. In a guest post at Timothy Dairymple's blog at the Evangelical Channel of Patheos, I argue that Evangelicals should put this phenomenon in its broader cultural and religious context, and then offer several points for consideration.
An excerpt from the essay:
According to the Office for National Statistics in the UK, 59 percent of the population in England and Wales identified themselves as Christian, 25 percent as “No religion,’ followed by very small percentages representing Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, and Buddhism. Those identified as “Jedi Knight” ranked fifth on the survey, and Spiritualist, Pagan, Atheist, and various Pagan spiritualities are represented as well. Significant shifts are present in this data, with Christianity dropping from 71 percent of the population in 2001 to 59 percent in 2011. In addition, there has been a rise in those reporting no religious affiliation, moving from almost 15 percent to 25 percent. The number of Muslims also saw an increase, as did the number of those identifying as Pagans.
Given this data, it is curious as to why the media chose to focus on those identifying with Jediism, particularly since this self-identification has decreased, and there are critical questions about whether this represents a spiritual self-identification for many, or an attempt at toying with the census results. The emphasis on the exotic spirituality of Jediism to the neglect of other elements of the survey and its broader context obscures the significance of the changing religious landscape, not only in the UK, but in the West as well.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Amidst the global crisis of a dysfunctional old paradigm, a new renaissance of human culture is underway. Over the course of 4 episodes and 23 transformational festivals around the globe, THE BLOOM: A JOURNEY THROUGH TRANSFORMATIONAL FESTIVALS explores the alchemy of themes that weave a true story of genuine hope and inspiration for our times: A new blooming of human consciousness emerging through creativity, love and joy & an emerging culture pointing the way to a bright and promising future. THE BLOOM tells the vibrant, compelling and colorful story of a cultural renaissance in progress with the artistic sensibility and inspired creativity from which the culture has been birthed.
THE BLOOM promotes the sustainability and evolution of transformational festival culture by creating a shared vocabulary & understanding of essential issues, empowering participants to contribute towards the integrity of the culture and be a part of collectively navigating its course.
THE BLOOM builds a bridge of understanding and creates an invitation to communities and allies with similar values who may find resonance with the transformational aspects of festival culture.
THE BLOOM contributes to the creation of a better world by disseminating the model created in transformational festivals to communities and audiences in many contexts.Transformational Festivals includes things like Burning Man Festival, so I am pleased to see this research expanded and its significance explored. I would add that Transformational Festivals should also incorporate science fiction and fantasy conventions given that their participants often adopt a sense of sacred mythos, involve themselves in pilgrimage, and many times find an ethic and personal transformation through such gathers. See my previous reflections on this here.
Thursday, December 06, 2012
Do Jews, Christians, and Muslims Worship the Same God? (Abingdon Press), with contributions with contributions by Jacob Neusner, Baruch A. Levine, Bruce D. Chilton, and Vincent J. Cornell. Martin Marty wrote an epilogue for the volume. The book's description:
Most Jews, Muslims, and Christians are devoted and faithful. Still, on any given day, it’s difficult to avoid the vigorous and heated disputes between them, whether over the “Ground Zero” mosque, lobbying state legislatures against Sharia law, sharing worship space, dissecting the fallout of the Arab Spring, protecting civil rights, or challenging the authority of sacred texts. With so much rancor, can there be any common ground? Do they even worship the same God? And can religion, which often is so divisive, be any help at all? Four internationally known scholars set out to tackle these deceptively simple questions in an accessible way. Some scholars argue that while beliefs about God may differ, the object of worship is ultimately the same. However, these authors take a more pragmatic view. While they may disagree, they nevertheless assert that whatever they answers to these questions, the three faiths must find the will (politically, socially, and personally) to tolerate differences. Perhaps what can help us move forward as pluralistic people is ia focus on the goal – peace with justice for all.This book is presently part of a review and discussion at Patheos, with contributions thus far from Robert Hunt, Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, and Bruce Epperly. One aspect of the volume has generated some interesting discussion, a paragraph by Jacob Neusner in the volume, where he writes:
“Interfaith dialogue is made possible by monotheism, which defines the common ground on the foundations of which debate can take place. Polytheism defines dialogue out of existence, making provision, rather, for an exchange of opinions in a spirit of tolerance.”Hunt seems to agree with Neusner, whereas Herschfield disagrees. In my experience in interreligious dialogue with adherents of many different religious traditions, including Pagans, monotheism is not a necessary foundation. What is needed is the willingness of the participants to dialogue and to be in agreement as to the type and format of dialogue through which the conversation will develop. Hunt responds in the comments to Herschfield that
For conversation to be fruitful we do need to know what we are talking about. Let’s take “faith” as in “interfaith.” The hidden assumption in interfaith dialogue is the modern, Schleiermachian, assumption of a universal human faith in something. That faith is understood to be refracted through various religious (and sects, and personal beliefs) which, with varying degrees of adequacy (or complete equality if you wish) point toward that “Something” that is (however obscured) the universal object of faith. What Neusner’s comment points us toward is the possibility that no such universal “faith” exists. Put another way he is asserting that dialogue depends on having a common object of investigation and discussion. And he is suggesting that at least with regard to faith polytheists don’t believe that there exists a common faith to be the object of investigation and discussion and therefore can’t enter into real inter-faith dialogue. Of course polytheists will need to speak for themselves about whether that is true.Again I disagree with Hunt, and if he understands Neusner correctly, then I disagree with him as well. Human beings have profound disagreement about what "faith in something" entails, and broad based assumptions or agreements about the nature of the transcendent as "an object of investigation and discussion" are not necessary before dialogue can begin. Indeed, these are some of the pressing disagreements that must be worked through by the dialogue process, not as a prior commitment before dialogue takes place. I hope this review and discussion at Patheos invites lots of input and commentary. I'd especially like to see my fellow FRD members, and my Pagan colleagues, provide comments on Hirschfeld's and Hunt's review essays.
Tuesday, December 04, 2012
Bold as Love (Thomas Nelson). Bob is one of the leading Evangelical pastors in the nation who has been involved not only in growing his Northwood Church in Texas, but also in international missions, and interreligious dialogue. When I began putting together the Evangelical Chapter of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, Bob was one of the first Evangelicals I encountered, and he was very helpful in steering me towards others and in modeling dialogue himself. The Amazon page for Bold as Love describes it this way:
People often think of their neighbors as those already belonging to their “tribe” or community. It’s safe, it’s easy, and it doesn’t often cause conflict—politically or religiously. But in today’s world, everyone and everything is interconnected globally in an ever-changing cultural landscape, while religious strife runs rampant. Is it feasible for Christians to live their faith boldly and lovingly while entering into a true relationship with “neighbors” of other faiths, both locally and globally? In Bold as Love, Pastor Bob Roberts shows you what it looks like to live out your faith daily in the global public square among people of other faiths—Jews, Muslims, atheists, Hindus, Buddhists. While he admits that it can be challenging to engage people of other faiths whose beliefs are as strong as yours, he demonstrates how to enter into this critical dialogue in a radical yet loving way. “We have to learn to speak with one conversation and give the same message everywhere to everyone,” he says. “We are commanded to love God and love others. And sometimes that requires risky boldness.” Roberts invites you to respond to this call to live a life of fearless and loving engagement with the world. So take the risk! Your faith wasn’t made to live in isolation. It’s something you do face-to-face, heart-to-heart, hand-to-hand. Whether you are in a suburb of Houston or a village in India, put away the fear and suspicion and, instead, answer the call to radically love others the way God loves. And get ready to see your life and the lives of those you touch—your family, your community, even your enemies—transformed!I encourage Evangelicals and those of other religious traditions to read Bob's book. In addition to the listing at Amazon you can learn more at Bob's Facebook page, and you can see Bob discuss his book at his website at Glocal.net.
Friday, November 30, 2012
My interview with Bob Robinson is now up at the Evangelical Channel at Patheos. My thanks to Bob and Timothy Diarymple at Patheos for this.
How Would Jesus Interact with a Muslim? An Interview with Bob Robinson In Jesus' time, relations between Samaritans and Jews were uncannily parallel to that between Muslims and Christians now.
Bob Robinson is Senior Lecturer in Theology at Laidlaw College in Christchurch, New Zealand. He is also a charter member of the Evangelical Chapter of the Foundation for Religions Diplomacy. He is the author of Christians Meeting Hindus (2004), and the new volume Jesus and the Religions. He and I had the following discussion of the ideas surrounding his new book.
An excerpt from the interview:
If Evangelicals will pause for a moment of critical self-reflection, how does some of the way of Jesus in interreligious encounter provide a rebuke for contemporary Christians?
In my experience, Evangelicals often or even usually react to the presence of other religions with either indifference or suspicion and anxiety; or fear, denigration, and triumphalistic confrontation. Liberals typically react with romanticized naïveté or even guilt—and I'm opposed to those attitudes too! But when Jesus meets the "aliens" of his day—Gentiles and Samaritans—he engages them with love, sympathy, help, and even appreciation at times. In our Christian denominations we greatly resent it when we're subject to misrepresentation by other churches. Well, Muslims feel the same about many of our attitudes to them.
Evangelical Chapter of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy. He is finalizing the text for the leader's guide and participant workbook for the Loving Our Religious Neighbors program. Josh describes the material by saying "Loving Our Religious Neighbors will equip you with the biblical foundation and practical skills to faithfully and respectfully build relationships with people from different faiths through the fruit of the Spirit." This will be a major educational component for our chapter in both college and university campuses, as well as local churches. Visit the website for more information.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
The new threat comes in the form of vampires and the occult. This is the opinion of Mark Driscoll in his blog post titled "A Father's Fright of Twilight." The byline reads "Twilight is for teenage girls what porn is to teenage boys: sick, twisted, evil, dangerous, deceptive, and popular." Driscoll is an Evangelical and the founding pastor of Mars Hill church. This is something of a mismatch in that the name of the church is taken from the Apostle Paul's sermon at the Areopagus in Athens in Acts 17, and while Paul's message represents a great lesson in a Christian cross-cultural understanding and communication, Driscoll's latest blog post on Twilight is, by contrast, an example of poor theology and cultural interaction.
In his blog post, Driscoll connects the books and films to teenage acts of self-destruction, vampirism, and the occult. He writes:
"I have ranted on this garbage-tastic phenomenon before, and find the whole genre profoundly troubling. The popularity of supernatural soap operas has inspired some real-life demonic trends. Overreaction? Tell that to the kids biting, cutting, drinking blood – sometimes while having sex – and sinking deeper into the occult."
Driscoll then includes quotes from various sources with teens who describe their interest in cutting and blood drinking, as well as the "growing vampire subculture" as documentation and confirmation of his concerns. For Driscoll, this is all "entirely pagan," and opens the door to "demonic deception." He then concludes with his hopes by way of response that includes a biblical reference:
As a pastor and a father, I am particularly concerned for Christian parents who are naively allowing this filth into their children’s lives, buying these books and driving kids to see these movies. To such parents, “It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment...
While I appreciate the concerns that a father and pastor has for children, his congregation, and the broader Christian community, the irony for me is that Driscoll's analysis does not include the knowledge and discernment he wants to see in others. In fact, he exemplifies some of the worst sensationalism and alarmism that Evangelicals are unfortunately known for when it comes to minority religions such as paganism, social identities like vampires, and popular culture.
How is this the case? First, Driscoll has confused the literary and cinematic expressions of the horror vampire with real-world vampirism. The two are very different. One derives from folklore and horror, and in the case of Twilight, from teen paranormal romance, and the other is a social identity found in the real world. This is not to say that there may not be overlaps at times in certain cases, but Evangelicals all too readily make the worst kinds of assumptions and connections that many times aren't there.
Second, Driscoll draws a cause and effect relationship between reading books or watching films related to paranormal fantasy vampires and teens who cut themselves and identify in some way with blood letting and consumption. This relationship is assumed, not proven, and none of the sources he quotes in the post demonstrate what he thinks he is proving.
Third, Driscoll does not understand the vampire subculture he finds so objectionable. He paints a picture of sexual deviancy and blood drinking, likely without any attempt at engaging the diversity of self-identified vampires, or good resources on the subject like the Atlanta Vampire Alliance or Joseph Laycock's fine book Vampires Today: The Truth About Modern Vampirism (Praeger, 2009). The result is a case of continued ignorance, misrepresentation, and bearing false witness about our neighbors.
Fourth, Driscoll connects all of this to paganism and the occult. Where is his evidence of this? He provides no evidence that contemporary pagans are somehow connected to the Twilight phenomenon, or that those who identify with esotericism are conspiring to consume the blood of young innocents. In the absence of evidence Driscoll argues by sheer assertion, and unfortunately perpetuates the ignorance and fears of the Western esoteric tradition, usually known by the more pejorative term "the occult" among Evangelicals, and associates it with forms of cultural deviancy such as blood drinking and sexual perversion. Not only is this inaccurate, but Driscoll might recall that the earliest Christians were also viewed with suspicion as the members of a Jewish cult who were said to engage in sexual deviancy, while also eating their founder's flesh and drinking his blood. Just as those in first century Palestine passed along the worst rumors and allegations about the Christian sect, so too has Driscoll, now a member of Christianity that has shifted from the margins to a position of power, passes along rumors about other minority groups.
As an aside, perhaps Driscoll is unaware that the author of the Twilight series is a Mormon, and that the film incorporates aspects of the author's religious ethics, such as sexual chastity before marriage. (See my past review on the initial film in the series for more on this topic.) Why would a member of a religious group that values families write a series of books that allegedly incorporates "the occult" and leads to blood drinking? Regardless of such considerations, it is unlikely that such reflections would factor into a reappraisal of the Twilight material since Mormons remain high on the list of "dangerous cult groups" for many Evangelicals.
Remember at this juncture that Driscoll wants Evangelical parents to respond with knowledge and discernment. But the unfortunate end result of his problematic pop cultural and theological analysis is that Driscoll ends up passing along misinformation, perpetuating fears, and modeling poor cultural engagement for Christian parents, their children, and Evangelicals in congregations who take him as a credible voice on such matters. In addition, by focusing on staying away from or stamping out such pseudo-issues we waste valuable time and energy that could be spent on very real and important matters such as identifying with the poor and marginalized, world hunger, and religiously-fueled violence.
For those interested in a more fair, balanced, and sophisticated understanding of these topics I recommend the resources linked to above in the AVA and Laycock on vampires, the book Beyond the Burning Times: A Pagan and Christian in Dialogue by Philip Johnson and Gus diZerega (Lion, 2008) for an example of a more helpful and responsible interaction between Christianity and paganism, and my chapter in The Undead and Theology (Pickwick, 2012) for an example of an informed and balanced theological interaction with horror in popular culture.
Friday, November 09, 2012
A Biblical Foundation for Interreligious Engagement: Christological hermeneutics, the way of Jesus, love for neighbor, and the art of hospitality. The essay calls into question the popular texts cited by many Evangelicals as the appropriate foundation for interreligious engagement, and then suggests another set of texts and related beliefs and practices as the better way forward. An excerpt from the introduction:
Evangelicals are a “people of the Book,” and any approach to how we live our religion among those of other religious traditions must take this into account. But is it possible that our biblical foundation for intereligious engagement is off kilter? I suggest that it is, and as an alternative I present a more appropriate biblical foundation for interreligious encounters.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
My latest essay is now available at Patheos, a co-authored piece with Paul Louis Metzger titled "From Religious Threats and Tricks to Treats: A Halloween Homily on Faith Identity Construction." The essay looks at the problem of Evangelical faith identity frequently by way of the creation of "monstrous others" in various religions. From the piece:
What are some examples of the “religious other” monster that we often create? The examples we have in mind do not crave human blood, rise from the grave to consume human flesh, or require a jolt of electricity to return to life as they do in literature and cinema, but they are still threatening, lurking about in the dark shadows of our imaginations. In years past Evangelicals held to a strong sense of anti-Catholicism, the vestiges of which are still with us. In more recent times our monstrous religious others have been Mormons, Pagans, and Wiccans, and since 9/11 the Muslim community.
The essay can be read here.
My review of Supernatural America: A Cultural History (Praeger, 2011) by Lawrence R. Samuel will be published soon in the Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts. I have uploaded the review on my Academia.edu page.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
My latest essay has been published at the Evangelical Channel of Patheos, a combined book review of Brian McLaren's book on Christian faith identities, and Eboo Patel's Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America (Beacon, 2012). That review can be read here. My more extensive review of McLaren's volume can be read here.
In addition, Nicholas Price, board member for the Evangelical FRD chapter, recently wrote a good essay on Evangelicals and peacemaking through interfaith work that included a mention of me. You can read Nick's essay at RELEVANT.
There will be a free screening of the new FRD documentary Unresolvable? The Kingdom of God on Earth next Tuesday night, October 30, at 7:30 p.m. on the campus of Utah Valley University at the Library. There will be a panel that includes FRD Chapter Custodians, including myself, who share their thoughts on the film.