PROGRAMS and REPORTS
— Program, 2d Wednesdays 1-2:30 pm
reports are arranged by month
Coffee, 4th Wednesdays 8
Holiday Essay — 2018 Jan 15
in a Pluralistic World C-RP511 —
Vern teaches the graduate course
2019 Jan 7 – Mar 25 —
Mondays 6-9:45pm CT
Baptist Theological Seminary
from our Archives: The
America before Trump (2-page PDF)
Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Dinner
with the Vern Barnet Interfaith
PROGRAMS -- REPORTS -- DETAILS
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.
Weekend 2019 Feb 9-11— report
How much do you kow about
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
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.
theologian Paul F Knitter visited Colonial Congregational Church
in Prairie Village 2018 April 20 and spoke on "Attitudes toward the Religious
Other: The Christian Landscape," ways Christians can approach thinking
about those of other faiths.
Vern had a chance to speak
briefly with him before his presentation and mentioned that his 2002 book,
Theologies of Religion, is one of the sources for Vern's class, "Ministry
in a Pluralistic World," at Central Seminary.
Vern also commented during
the forum after the lecture. One point of discussion was the difficulty
of one person representing an entire faith tradition with its many historical
and contemporary expressions. Vern noted that the Kansas City Interfaith
Council was organized in 1989 not with representatives of 13 faiths,
but with 13 people from different faith backgrounds, thus avoiding
this easy trap. Even Christians forget that their faith today might be
very different from another Christian's faith across the street (even within
Protestantism, not to mention Catholicism or Orthodoxy) or in other parts
of the world; and historical development is seldom recognized -- a Southern
Baptist today may be very different from one 50 years ago.
Thanks to Jen Greene
for these photos.
2018 April 30, Stephen Prothero and Vern discuss
the merits of Prothero's 2010 book, God Is Not One: The Eight Rival
Religions That Run the World—and Why Their Differences Matter, which
Vern is using as one of several texts at Central Seminary.
Another member of the audience at the annual Religious Studies lecture
at KU happened to have a copy of the 2011 column Vern had written about
the book and showed it to them. Prothero signed Vern's copy of his new
book, Why Liberals Win (Even When They Lose Elections). Prothero's
lecture reviewed his earlier and continuing concern about American religious
illiteracy, about which he wrote in his 2007 Religious Literacy: What
Every American Needs to Know--And Doesn't.
Prothero's website is
a Pluralistic World — syllabus
2019 Jan 7 – Mar 25 —
Mondays 6-9:45pm CT
The graduate credit course
C-RP511 is held remotely via Zoom and at
Seminary 6601 Monticello Road, Shawnee, KS 6226-3513.
The course, led by Dr Vern Barnet, explores these
DISCOVERING PRESUPPOSITIONS ABOUT OTHER FAITHS -- AND OUR OWN
0. Getting acquainted:
Our backgrounds, travel and other experiences, and perspectives as we approach
1. What meanings do terms
such as belief, dialogue, epiphany, holistic, mission, myth, pilgrimage,
religion, ritual, sacred, sacrifice, scripture, secular, spirituality,
worship, have for us and today’s society?
2. What attitudes have
scholars identified as ways folks approach faith perspectives other than
3. What does “pluralism”
mean? What are its theoretical, practical, and personal meanings? How does
it apply to the local community and the “global village”?
4. Where are we aided
and challenged by other traditions? How might our own and other traditions
address environmental, personal, and social disorders?
B. LEARNING ABOUT OTHER
1. How do sociological,
historical, phenomenological, and other methods of studying religions differ,
and how do they help us understand another’s faith?
2. What are the basic
structures, texts, facts, practices, and variations of other faiths?
3. How do faiths compare
4. What is more, and what
is less, useful for each of us today?
C. ENCOUNTERING FOLKS OF
1. What are the basic
styles and purposes of interfaith engagement? What are the significant
interfaith organizations and programs affecting the student’s community?
2. How do I discover my
community’s faith complexion and my opportunities within it?
3. What issues with boundaries
arise and how can they be negotiated?
4. What do we learn about
ourselves as we learn about others? Can I be committed to my own faith
and respectful and open to others? If so or if not, what does that mean
for my ministry?
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.
our publications page
in progress: KC Star, Many Paths
columns and fresh essays:
Families of Faith and the Three Crises of Secularism
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
please visit www.cres.org/work/services.htm
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
A Vital Conversation Coffee
2nd Wedneday of the month
MidContinent Public Library
6060 N Chestnut Ave, Gladstone,
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
“The purpose of a Vital Conversation is not to
win an argument,
Vital Conversations are intentional gatherings
of people to engage
but to win a friend and advance civilization.”
in dialog that will add value to the participants
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’s
Battle for God
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.
Vital Conv. Coffee
an open exchange of ideas
with no preset agenda
4th Wednesday monthly
311 NE Englewood Road
January 9 – Size Matters: Why We Love To Hate
Big Food by Charlie Arnot
Despite food being safer, more affordable and more
available than at any time in human history, consumers are increasingly
skeptical and critical of today’s food system. Charlie Arnot, provides
thought provoking insight into how the food system lost consumer trust,
what can be done to restore it, and the remarkable changes taking place
on farms and in food companies. Charlie will be a part of our Vital
Quotations and questions selected
by David Nelson
Releasing Conversation: Share
your name and say something about food and/or meals.
1. “The frequency
and visibility of violation of public trust continue a steady march.
The very institutions that are supposed to expose deception have themselves
committed acts that erode public trust.” (5) Do you agree?
Can you name some of those institutions?
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implications of these improvements in productivity are immense. For
one thing, it means more food and less famine. Richard Jackson notes
that since Borlaug’s wheat took root, food shortages are driven more by
politics than the plow.” (36) How does politics result in food shortage?
is important, but not sufficient to build trust with the growing number
of consumers who look to social and digital sources of information to guide
their decisions in a world where emotion and opinion carry more weight
than objective fact. Fortified by sources of information that align
with their values and that confirm existing bias, doubters are rejecting
scientific consensus that conflicts with their beliefs.” (47) Can
you share an example of where your bias has gotten in the way of clear
decision making based on facts?
tell us if we can do something, but society tells us if we should…Values
are grounded in firmly held beliefs, not fact-based information.
The path to building trust begins by demonstrating you share the values
of your stakeholders. Consumers aren’t asking if we can do what we’re
doing, they are asking if we should do what we’re doing. We’ve been
answering the wrong questions.” (52) “As Stephen Covey said, ‘Contrary
to what most people believe, trust is not some soft, illusive quality that
you either have or you don’t; rather, trust is a pragmatic, tangible, actionable
asset that you can create.’” (57) How can food producers and
food consumers build more trust with each other?
tribal connection influences where we get our information, but it also
influences the tone, the attitude, the demeanor of our communication.
While this happens naturally throughout daily experiences, it is amplified
exponentially online and has led to a disintegration of civility.”
How does the source of where you get your news and opinion impact your
behavior and relationships?
Douglas Rushkoff describes the situation well. ‘The television era was
about globalism, international cooperation, and the open society…Digital
media, by contrast, are made up of many discrete samples.” (79) Can
you identify some examples of this reality?
global food population can be divided into three groups: the satisfied,
the undernourished and the over-nourished…Global hunger increased in 2016,
the first increase in more than a decade. The battle to assure everyone
is fed is as old as humankind.” (87) “We are invited to dinner.
Dinner without dogma, but with lots of dialogue. We must be engaged
in a discussion on the issues that really matter to people, animals and
the planet we share…Better is not a binary choice. Better is Yes,
And…” (93) Do you personally have feelings about this reality? What
are they? What will you do about it?
Here is Clif Hostetler’s review of the book:
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February 13 –While the World Watched by Carolyn Maull
McKinstry. A half century has passed since the Ku Klux Klan.
Sonnenschein Sheila, Melanie Allmayer, AmenehPazerish plan to be there.
March 13 –Something Beautiful Happened: A
Story of Survival and Courage in the Face of Evilby Yvette ManessisCorporon
April 10 –Some of My Best Friends Are Black by Tanner
May 8 –Born A CrimebyTrevor Noah
June 12 – Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer's
Guide to the Uses of ReligionAlain de Botton
July 10 – Why Religion by Elaine Pagels
August 14 –The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
This is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption,
ad a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely
vibrant. The Walls children learned to take care of themselves.
They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their
way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless
even as their children prospered. The movie, with the same name,
follows the book and can be viewed in preparation for the Conversation.
Several individuals who have been homeless and who partner with homeless
persons will share in the conversation.
September 11 – Books About Crazy Horse
October 9 – The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
November 13 –In Pursuit of Peace: Community
of Christ’s Journey by Andrew Bolton and others
December 11 – The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan
tells the story of those who survived the Great American Dust Bowl.
Some of our parents could be a part of these stories. After reading
the book, you can further prepare by interviewing some of your elders who
either remember or have stories they were told about this period in the
Great Plains between 1901- 1939. Timothy Egan is the same author
who wrote The Big Burn which we discussed in Vital Conversations.
Selections are subject to change. If you
would like to be reminded and have additional information, contact David
Nelson at email@example.com or call (816) 453-3835
ABOUT CRES PARTICIPATION
Having spawned several other
including the Greater
Kansas City Interfaith Council,
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