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This page is under construction for 2018.
2018 Programs Thanks for Noticing book
2018 Other Announcements Older Program Reports
2019 Previews About CRES participation

Links to 2018 PROGRAMS & REPORTS

Vital ConversationsProgram, 2d Wednesdays 1-2:30 pm

Coffee, 4th Wednesdays 8 am
King Holiday Essay — 2018 Jan 15

Candlemas 2018 Feb 2 Fri 7pm see below 
What is Islam? 2018 March 4 Resurrection Lutheran Church, 9100 Mission Rd

Eliot's Four Quartets 2018 March 13 Tom Brous speaks on his book

Ministry in a Pluralistic World — 
     2018 May 7 – July 27 — Mondays 6-9:45pm CDT 
                                    [2017-2018 academic year Easter term]
     Vern teaches the graduate credit course C-RP511 
     for Central Baptist Theological Seminary

Independence Day Essay pending

World Religions Lectures — 2019 Feb 15-16 Fri-Sat 


King Holiday Essay — 2018 Jan 15 
     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.

Candlemas 2018 Feb 2 Fri 7pm honoring many faiths

Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral during World Interfaith Harmony Week THE EVENING INCLUDED
:: A complimentary reception hosted by the Central Seminary
:: An exhibition of art in the rare Saint John's Bible
:: Organ pieces performed by Paul Meier on the Gabriel Kney Pipe Organ
:: The Sacred Arts Chorale performing the complete Missa Pange Lingua by Josquin des Prez (1450?–1521) -- Kyrie, Gloria | Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei
:: Guitar, ud, and other music performed by Beau Bledsoe
:: Poetry from Wm Shakespeare, George Herbert, John Donne, T S Eliot, W H Auden, and Vern Barnet, with actor Eddie Straub
:: Of course, the full candle-lighting ceremony, incense, asperges


Evolution Weekend 2018 Feb 9-11report pending

What is Islam? 
2018 March 4 Sunday 9:15 am
Resurrection Lutheran Church, 9100 Mission Rd
Dr Vern Barnet discussed our indebtedness to Islam and answered questions, in an informative hour classroom setting.

The session began with this "Quiz to Initiate Discussion of Islam"
1. T/F — The three largest faiths in the world are, in order, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism.
2. T/F — Well over ten per cent of American Muslims are African-American.
3. T/F — Records show Muslim presence in South Carolina as early as 1790.
4. T/F — Most Christians in the occupied Palestinian areas have been sympathetic to the Muslim population.
5. T/F — Judaism comprises less than one per cent of the world’s population, mostly in the United States, Israel, and France. 
6. T/F — Muslim slaves are buried in New York near the site of the 9/11 attacks.
7. T/F — By 1919, a mosque had been built in Michigan, by 1934 in Iowa, by 1957 in Washington, D.C., and in Kansas City by 1981.
8. T/F — The Muslim Student Association (UMKC’s chapter formed by 1984), with  other groups, led to the founding of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). 
9. T/F — Saudi Arabia, our ally, a Sunni nation, is home to the Wahhabi extremist form of Islam.
10. T/F — Jesus (pbuh) is mentioned more times in the Qur’an than Muhammad (pbuh).
11. T/F — Traditionally Yaser Arafat was welcomed at the Christmas observances in Bethlehem at the Church of the Nativity.
12. T/F — Although the current administration is especially hostile to Iran, with its Shia majority, the US has never interfered with its democracy by overthrowing its government and installing a dictator. 
13. T/F — The US trained a Saudi, Osama bin Laden. 
14. a/b/c — Greater KC has (a) one mosque (b) three mosques (c) more than ten.
15. T/F — The first nation to recognize the independence of the United States of America was a Muslim nation.
16. T/F — The Jackson County Diversity Task force including Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Buddhist members, formed after the 9/11 attacks to survey the 5-county area, presented a 77-page report with three pages of recommendations to the community on Sept 10, 2002. 
17. T/F — Muslim lands offered Jews safety when they were expelled after the Christians reconquered Spain. 

Click for answers.
Vern said "Kansas City would not be Kansas City except for Muhammad (PBUH) by pointing our that Giralda Tower on the Country Club Plaza is often used as a symbol to identify Kansas City, with the original full-size minaret still standing in Seville, once the tower from which the Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer was made. 
     After the session, members of the class hold an enlarged image of a AAA map cover for Kansas City after the talk. They are Bob Dona, his wife Sharon, and the Rev Ted Schroeder, who invited Vern. 

Eliot's Four Quartets Promoted

Tom Brous spoke at the Retired Clergy Luncheon March 13. T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets” may be the most important religious poem since Dante's Divine Comedy, Brous suggested, and like Dante, even with the Comedy's beauty and power, discovering the depths of its meaning its not easy.
     Now there is a guide through this masterpiece: Why Read Four Quartets? Tom's book encourages readers to “take up, read, and inwardly digest” these sacred  poems. Both for general reader unacquainted with this work and those who already cherish it, the poems are made more accessible. 
     Many critics do not take Eliot’s own spirituality seriously enough to explore it; literary analysis is often emphasized to the exclusion of viewing the poems in a personal or biographical manner. In sharp contrast to these typical studies, this book endeavors to show that the quartets can be read as the story of Eliot’s own mystical journey to the Divine, a journey by which we ourselves can benefit.
     Tom Brous is a retired attorney-at-law and adjunct law professor. He has studied and lectured on Four Quartets for over 30 years.
     The program was arranged through CRES and Vern introduced the author.

Ministry in a Pluralistic World — 
     2018 May 7 – July 27 — Mondays 6-9:45pm CDT [2017-2018 Easter term]
     Vern teaches the graduate credit course C-RP511 
     for Central Baptist Theological Seminary


Lectures on
World Religions 
2019 Februrary 15-16 Friday-Saturday

Vern lectures in Atchison on world religions for students in the Benedictine Sister's Souljourners spiritual formation program leading to spiritual direction ministry at the Sophia Center, 751 South 8th Street, Atchison, Kansas 66002.
Vern describes the three families of faith by telling stories suggesting where these families typically find the sacred; epitomizing texts are studied; Buddhism and Islam given special attention; and the benefits of interfaith exchange celebrated.


WEDDINGS of all kinds click for information

We can provide a customized ceremony or direct you to a wedding chapel with low-cost package services (flowers, photographer, etc.) 

THANKS to Robert and Shye Reynolds, a CRES fund to assist couples with fees for weddings  has been established, to celebrate their marriage June 19, 2002, on the occasion of their thirteenth anniverary.

see also 
our publications page

in progress: KC Star, Many Paths columns and fresh essays:
The Three Families of Faith and the Three Crises of Secularism 
     Many have asked for a compilation of columns Vern wrote for the KC Star, 1994-2012,  and the essays fatured in Many Paths. Here are tentative chapter headings for the selections:
      ? The Three Families of Faith ? Faith and the Arts  ? Science and Religion  ? Teachers of the Spirit ? Ritual and Worship ? Religion and Public Policy ? Specific Faiths (Buddhism, Islam, etc) ? Comparative topics (reincarnation, gods, water, prophets, etc) ? How the column began and ended


If you would
like to engage Vern 
or another member 
of the CRES staff 
for a speech, 
or other work
with your organization 
or personally, 
please visit  www.cres.org/work/services.htm or email  vern@cres.org

A Vital Conversation Coffee
Vital Conversations
monthly schedule
2nd Wedneday of the month 1-2:30 pm
MidContinent Public Library Antioch Branch
6060 N Chestnut Ave, Gladstone, MO 64119
(816) 454-1306

You are welcome even if you have not read the book or seen the movie
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,
but to win a friend and advance civilization.” Vern Barnet 

Vital Conversations are intentional gatherings of people to engage 
in dialog that will add value to the participants and to the world. 
In Vital Conversations, we become co-creators of a better community. 
David Nelson
The discussions began May 24, 2002, at the CRES facility
 by examining Karen Armstrong’s The Battle for God
Reading is magic and a mysterious activity that feeds the mind, transports the imagination, sooths the soul, and expands life.  It is most often done in solitude and yet connects us to so many others both near us and far from us.  Many readers enjoy the opportunity to share their reading discoveries and to expand from the sharing of others.  Reading is an important aspect of our common humanness.
David E. Nelson
Vital Conv. Coffee
an open exchange of ideas 
with no preset agenda
 4th Wednesday monthly
8 am
Panera Bread
311 NE Englewood Road
Kansas City, MO 64118


2018 Vital Conversations Schedule

The purpose of a Vital Conversation is not to win an argument but to win a friend and advance civilization.”—Vern Barnet

     Vital Conversations A Program of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, CRES, and Mid Continent Public Library Antioch Branch, 6060 N. Chestnut. Gladstone, MO 64119 The Second Wednesday of each month from 1 to 2:30 pm.
     VC Coffee the Fourth Wednesday at 8 am at Panera Bread, 311 NE Englewood Rd.

January 10, 2018 The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
This classic work of American literature has not stopped changing minds and lives since it burst onto the literary scene. It is “The Big Read” for the greater Kansas City area. It is about the Vietnam War but so much more. It gives the reader an opportunity to think about war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling.

February 14th, 2018 
The New Jim Crow
Once in a great while a book comes along that changes the way we see the world and helps to fuel a nationwide social movement. The New Jim Crow is such a book. Praised by Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier as “brave and bold,” this book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. 
   HipHop artist Miles Megaciph was the special guest. You can download a portion of his contribution to the discussion at this icloud address. Here are other sites of interest:
Miles "Megaciph" Thomas
Watch Nuchi Du Takara on YouTube

March 14, 2018 Boxes by Temp Sparkman
We are what we remember. We all have our own boxes, downloaded from our hard drives. They appear early in life. Some of them are like others’ boxes. Still, what’s in them are uniquely ours. Author Temp (photo left) was with us to assist in discussing his book and our unique individual boxes. He illustrated several of his own boxes, and the group, led by David Nelson, discussed the one or more of the assortment of boxes each of us is familiar with as ways of understanding ourselves (and each other) better. 

April 11, 2018 God Against the Gods: The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism by Jonathan Kirsch. 
The last stand of paganism against monotheism is one of the great “what-if’s in history. How would the modern world look today if the worship of many gods had been tolerated instead of persecuted? Breaking a long-lived taboo, this book reveals the dark side of monotheism and the bright side of polytheism.

May 9, 2018 Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation, Angel Kyodo Williams, Lama Rod Owens with Jasmine Syedullah.
Igniting a long-overdue dialogue about how the legacy of racial injustice and white supremacy plays out in society at large and Buddhist communities this urgent call to action outlines a new dharma that considers the ways that racism ad privilege prevents our collective awakening.

June 13, 2018 Our Fathers: Making Black Men, Lewis Diuguid. 
Many people don't understand why black lives must matter and why the racial divide seems to be taking the country back 50 years. Like the mythical Sankofa bird, the answer to what's missing now lies in what existed before. This book focuses on one block of St. Louis in the mid-20th century, where African American businessmen living the American Dream also created a sense of community for boys in that neighborhood. Lewis will be with us to participate in our conversation.

July 11, 2018 The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 
This searing debut about an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty. “As w continues to fight the battle against police brutality and systemic racism in America, The Hate U Give serves as a much-needed literary ramrod.”

August 8, 2018 The End of White Christian America by Robert P. Jones
America is no longer a majority white Christian nation. This book explains how this seismic change has profoundly altered the politics and social values of the United States.

September 12, 2018 God: A Human History by Reza Aslan
In Zealot this author gave us a new and refreshing look at Jesus. In layered prose and with thoughtful, accessible scholarship, he narrates the history of religion as one long and remarkably cohesive attempt to understand the divine by giving human traits and emotions. This has its benefits and problems which he points out clearly.

October 10, 2018 Sinners in the Hands of A Loving God by Brian Zahnd
Brian Zahnd founded Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missouri, more than thirty-five years ago. In this book, he asks important questions like: Is seeing God primarily as wrathful toward sinners true or biblical? He offers a more faithful and life-giving alternative to those who read the Bible and practice Christianity.

November 14, 2018 Celestial Mechanics by William Least Heat-Moon
The author, who is known for his non-fiction travel adventures, embarks on an exploration into the value of knowledge and rational thinking, the essence of being harmoniously alive, and the very nature of the Cosmos. This fiction novel of haunted love explores the nature of reality, dreams, and leads the reader on a journey toward something vastly different.

December 12, 2018 Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most by Marcus J. Borg 
Do Christian beliefs still matter? Do they really change us or the world? Bestselling author Marcus J. Borg reflects on the convictions that he has developed over the course of his life and why they provide a part of hope for those seeking to be faithful Christs in the twenty-first century. He was among the most widely known and influential voices in progressive Christianity. As a fellow of the Jesus Seminar, Borg was a major figure in historical Jesus scholarship.

Selections are subject to change. If you would like to be reminded and have additional information, contact David Nelson at humanagenda@gmail.com or call (816) 453-3835

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.

full announcements pending


“ — ” ‘—’ 24
“ — ” ‘—’ 18
“ — ” ‘—’ 14

‘—’ 12

‘—’ 10

  All items are true except--
12. (F) The US and allies overthew the democratiocally selected  Iranian Prime Minister Mosaddegh in 1953 and reinstalled the oppressive Shah in exchange for oil control by Western countries.
13. (c).
15, (T) The nation was Morocco in 1777.