Vern Barnet, DMn
CRES minister emeritus email@example.com
|BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILES||ADDITIONAL LINKS||SERVICES|
|CRES bio sketch||Degrees, Ordination, Publications||Arranging Vern to speak|
|Wikipedia entry||Spiritual Viewpoint in Brief||Weddings|
|Harvard's Pluralism Project Profile||Videos||Publicity Photos|
|Pluralism Project Profile (mirror)||Favorite quotations|
|UU World Profile||Basic book list|
|Awards||Some Googling . . . .||Vern's Draft Memorial Service|
Kansas City, MO 64171
A QUESTION OF STYLE:
" R E V E R E N D "
Since style and usage vary, this information is provided for those who wish to use standard form.
In programs and press releases, any of the following styles (and abbreviation) may be acceptable:
the Reverend Vern Barnet, DMn
the Rev Vern Barnet
the Rev Mr Barnet
the Rev Dr Barnet
Since the word “Reverend” is an adjective, not a position (like rabbi, imam, or pastor), its formal usage parallels the word "Honorable" and does NOT include these forms either in addressing the person or in speaking about the person:
the Reverend Barnet
You do not refer to a judge (or justice) as "Honorable Roberts" but rather as "the Honorable John Roberts." You may address a judge by his position, just as you may refer to a minister as "minister," though this is more common in British usage; "pastor" is more common in the U.S.
Note that "Reverend" is always used with the word "the" and the full name in polite style except in many African-American clergy contexts where shortened usage is expected.
Citations: American Heritage Dictionary and Vogue's Book of Etiquette and other standard authorities.
SUMMARY.— In 2004, the Reverend Vern Barnet, DMn, was named minister emeritus of CRES, a Kansas City community resource for exploring spirituality in all faiths. He founded CRES in 1982, and became its minister-in-residence in 1985 with “community networking” responsibilities. He now focuses on writing, teaching, and consulting.
He is known to many Kansas Citians through the weekly "Faith and Beliefs" column published 1994-2012 in The Kansas City Star. Founder of The Kansas City Interfaith Council and its convener through 2003, he is now its convener emeritus. (CRES continued to support the Council through 2004, now renamed the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council). He has been active in many professional and civic organizations. His articles, poems, and reviews appear in many journals.
Barnet has taught religion courses as an adjunct at the Ottawa University Kansas City campus, Park University, Avila University, and Baker University, and taught graduate ministerial students at the Unity School of Christianity, the Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and the Saint Paul School of Theology (Methodist). In 2007 he served on the international faculty of the pilot “Interfaith Academies” partnered by Harvard University’s Pluralism Project, Religions for Peace-USA at the United Nations Plaza, the Saint Paul School of Theology, and the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council. He continues as a member of the Souljourners faculty training spiritual directors at the Sophia Retreat Center of the Benedictine Sisters at Mount St Scholastica. For six years he served on the editorial board of Unity Magazine as its only non-Unity ministerial member, and is noted as contributer to The Interfaith Observer.
HONORS AND INVOLVEMENT.— In 1979, Barnet received the Kansas City Jewish Community Relations Bureau’s only “Distinguished Community Service Award” in its history — and in 1998 the American Muslim Council, Midwest Region, gave him its first “Distinguished Community Service Award.” In 1987 the Overland Park Rotary Club honored him as a Paul Harris Fellow with its “Distinguished Community Service Award,” and in 2002 he received the “Community Service Award” from the Crescent Peace Society. In 1989 he was selected for Kansas City Tomorrow, a year-long leadership development program sponsored by the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City; and in 1996, after serving six terms on its alumni board, he was honored as “the Star of the Kansas City Tomorrow Alumni Association,” and he was voted its “Distinguished Alumnus of the Year” in 2006.
In 1990 he was honored by the Ethnic Studies Center at William Jewell College for his community work fostering understanding among faiths. In 1991 he received the Warren Dentler Religious Service Award from the Waldo-Country Club Ministerial Association. In 2005, from Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes, Barnet received the first “Table of Faiths” award of the reorganized Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council at a luncheon in his honor. In 2006, the Midwest Sikh association presented him with its “Vaisakhi Community Service Award.” The National Community Leadership Association presented him with a “Distinguished Leadership Award” at its 2006 conference in Hartford, CT. In 2007 the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center of Kansas City honored him with an award and shawl. In 2008, he received The Abrahamic Legacy Award from Al Inshirah Islamic Center. In 2010 he recieved the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Crescent Peace Society and the inaugural "Vern Barnet Interfaith Service Award" from the Heartland Alliance of Divine Love.
In 1993 Vern was named Director Emeritus of the Center for All Men. In 1996 his Rotary Club Foundation recognized his work helping to found a yearly week-long Youth Leadership Institute for high school students. He supervised the development of the curriculum and later chaired the Institute. In 2000, he received the Pikes Peak [Colorado] “Interfaith Cooperation and Achievement Award.” In 2001, he received the “Bodhisattva Award” from the Rime Buddhist Center Monastery and Tibetan Institute of Studies.
He organized the Kansas City Interfaith Council in 1989 and hosted it through 2004; for its first four years, he coordinated the Christian-Jewish-Muslim Dialogue Group. A “Coming of Age” program he initiated locally won national recognition. He has been president of several clergy groups and held office in various professional organizations, and served on numerous community and national boards, such as the Mainstream Coalition, Gift of Life, Overland Park Rotary, Kansas City Tomorrow Alumni Association, NCCJ, and the American Civil Liberties Union affiliate. In 1996 he drafted the recommendation of the Religion/Spirituality Cluster of the Mayor’s Task Force on Race Relations.
He chaired the Jackson County Diversity Task Force following 9/11, which submitted its 77-page report on 2002 September 10, and led the team which organized the central 9/11 first anniversary observances for the metro area.
(These and other Kansas City area interfaith projects were featured on the network CBS-TV half-hour religion special, “Open Hearts Open Minds,” broadcast in October, 2002.)
His current and past service includes work on boards for organizations such as the Friends of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas, the American Friends Service Committee, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), the Overland Park Rotary Club, the Kansas City Tomorrow Alumni Association, the Shawnee Mission Medical Center’s Institute for Spirituality and Health Advisory Board, the MAINstream Coalition Board and, earlier, its Advisory Board, the American Friends Service Committee, the NCCJ (National Conference for Community and Justice — formerly National Conference of Christians and Jews), and the Gift of Life foundation.
In 2001, he led the planning for the Kansas City area’s first interfaith conference, for which he was president. This historic event resulted in a Unanimous Declaration to the community and led to the creation of the play, “The Hindu and the Cowboy and Other Kansas City Stories” by Donna Ziegenhorn, and a national model, The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Passport.
In 1984, he was part of the first group of Westerners in history to follow the sacred “Gyo” path on Mt Hiei, Japan. In 1986 his interest in Pandurang Athavale led to speaking to an assembly of 500,000 on the banks of the Ganges River. He has attended, spoken at, and helped organize numerous international conferences on religion around the world.
EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES.— Barnet has lectured at universities and churches around the country. In Kansas City, he has taught at the graduate and undergraduate levels at the Saint Paul School of Theology, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Baker University, Ottawa University - Kansas City, Park College, and Avila University, for ministerial and lay training at the Unity School of Christianity, for students training to be spiritual directors at the Sophia Retreat Center, and community courses for Johnson County Community College. He has spoken for Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Sikh, and other religious organizations, and for retreats, schools, and business and civic groups. He served on the steering committee founding the Shawnee Mission School District’s Center for International Studies. Barnet’s writings have appeared in professional journals, popular periodicals, and denominational curricula. He has appeared on, and consulted for, TV and radio around the country. Locally he has appeared on programs like KCPT’s “Kansas City Week in Review” and KCUR’s “Under the Clock” with former mayor Emanuel Cleaver, the Sunday morning show with Patrick Neas, “The Walt Bodine Show,” and Steve Kraske’s “Up to Date.” He has presented workshops at regional, continental, and international meetings.
His first major article, “God is Doing His Thing: The Hippie Heresy and Liberalism,” was published in The Journal of the Liberal Ministry, Winter, 1969, before he completed his doctoral degree and was a 45-page excerpt from his dissertation. He edited and contributed to a book on worship, An Abraxas Reader (1980). He is cited or quoted in a number of works, including Robert B Tapp’s Religion Among the Unitarian Universalists (1973), Mohammad T Mehdi’s Islam and Tolerance (1990), and Neal Vahle’s The Unity Movement (2002). He drafted the text of Governor Graves’ Ramadan proclamation, quoted in Harvard Professor Diana Eck’s A New Religious America (2001).
Barnet’s collection of sonnets, Love Without Desire, was published in 1992. He is now writing another book on worship and a book on world religions. His second collection of sonnets, actually a prosimetrum, Thanks for Noticing: The Interpretation of Desire, was published in 2015.
ACADEMIC PREPARATION, PREVIOUS POSTS, and FAITH AFFILIATIONS.— Barnet completed doctoral work at the University of Chicago and the affiliated seminary, the Meadville Theological School (DMn, 1970), where he studied with Mircea Eliade, generally recognized as the world’s foremost scholar of the history of religion. He describes his doctoral dissertation using the Buddhist doctrine of the Void as “five hundred pages about Nothing.” His training also included study at the Center for Advanced Study of Religion in an Age of Science with Ralph Burhoe, the first American to win the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.
After school, he continued study in the field of world religions with scholars such as Joseph Campbell and with travel in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Central and South America. Before his full-time volunteer work with CRES, Barnet served Unitarian Universalist parishes in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Kansas. In 1975, he was one of the five founding members of the Congregation of Abraxas, a liturgical and missionary order whose mission field was the Unitaran Uiniversalist churches interested in worship. As the organization grew, he became a member of the Order of the Congregation of Abraxas, and served as its executive director during the years the origanization flourished. In 2010 he was baptized at Grace and Holy Cathedral (Episcopal) in Kanas City where he worships regularly, while retaining active participation among fellow Unitarian Universalist clergy.
DUTIES.— As minister-in-residence for CRES, Barnet was responsible for institutional operation to fulfill the mission of CRES: promoting interfaith understanding through networking, consultation, special events, and educational programs and services in Kansas City. His monthly essays in the CRES publication 1984-2009, Many Paths, along with Kansas City Star columns, are being collected for book publication. In cooperation with the Interfaith Council, he led the annual Thanksgiving Sunday Interfaith Ritual Meal which has become a key multi-faith witness in Kansas City through its 25th year, 2009.
Now, as minister emeritus, his networking responsibilities are diminished and his work involves archiving previously produced material. His new contributions are largely through writing, teaching, and consulting. He continues to provides wedding and other rites-of-passage services for those desiring an interfaith context.
PERSONAL INTERESTS.— His electronic music has been performed at concert and dance events. His photography has appeared in educational and commercial publications. His interest in religious disciplines included a 1983 fast from solid food, with medical supervision, for 72 days. His early work in computer programming led to an adjunct faculty appointment at The Computer Academy in Kansas City. He also enjoys swimming, singing, and photography. His son, Benjamin, was born in 1980. Box 45414, Kansas City, MO 64171
Tips for Introductions
If you plan to introduce Vern before he gives a speech, please select three, or at most four, items; brief introductions are best for the audience, for Vern, and for you. Long introductions try the audience, rouse unrealistic expectations, and deprive the speaker of the time allotted for his remarks.
For example, here is a normal introduction:Here is an extended introduction:I am pleased to present Dr Vern Barnet, "Faiths and Beliefs" columnist for The Kansas City Star. In 1989 he founded the Kansas CIty Interfaith Council, and his interfaith work has been recognized by awards from many faith groups.The Reverend Vern Barnet did his doctoral work at the University of Chicago where he studied with Mircea Eliade. His work in Kansas City began in 1975 and he has taught world religions as an adjunct professor at several schools here. His primary interest, however, is in helping the community appreciate the many faiths represented here as resources for one's own spiritual growth. His topic today is "The World's Religions: Pieces or Pattern?"There may occasions where longer introductions might be appropriate, but unless you are giving him an award or have a particular need to place his work in some larger context, you will probably get few complaints if the introduction is short.
Honoraria or other financial recognition of services provided by CRES are normally expected. The usual fee suggestions are listed at on the page at www.cres.org/work/services.htm.
Financial recognition is usually expected as part of the organization's efforts to finance interfaith work. While Vern volunteers all his services and received no compensation for them (income from the KC Star column is assigned to CRES, for example), CRES does have expenses which include office overhead (space, phone, web site, postage, etc) and a part-time office assistant.
BIO FROM THE 2005
"TABLE OF FAITHS" AWARD LUNCHEON
The Reverend Vern Barnet, DMn, completed his doctoral work at the University of Chicago and the affiliated Unitarian Universalist seminary in 1970. He served parishes in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Kansas. Since 1985 he has been a full time volunteer acquainting the Kansas City area with the wonderful diversity of faiths here.
Vern organized the Kansas City Interfaith Council in 1989 as a program of the World Faiths Center for Religious Experience and Study ("CRES"), where he is now minister emeritus. He headed its unprecedented 2001 "Gifts of Pluralism" conference which fostered many interfaith initiatives, including the play, "The Hindu and the Cowboy and Other Kansas City Stories."
Among his many civic activities, he chaired the Jackson County Diversity Task Force which studied the effects of 9/11 on people of faith in the 5-county area, and co-founded the Overland Park Rotary Club's Youth Leadership Institute.
As an active and visible participant in the media, Vern is frequently invited to share his views on local radio and television. Since 1994, he has written a column each Wednesday for The Kansas City Star. His articles and poems have appeared in many regional and national publications. His own monthly journal, Many Paths, was begun in 1984.
Honored by Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, and other groups, Vern has also served as president of several professional organizations. He teaches world religions at area universities and seminaries and is a popular speaker for churches and civic groups. His largest live audience was 500,000 on the banks of the Ganges River.
While he continues to travel throughout the Americas, in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, he calls Kansas City home. "I feel very blessed to be a part of a community growing aware of itself through the arts, through civic and business life, through the other institutions of civilization, and especially through the rich personal relationships that grow when the spirit moves along varied paths that meet joyously here in the Heartland," he says.
BIO BY THE NATIONAL
COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP ASSOCIATION
As minister in residence of CRES, which he founded in 1985, and as a cull time community volunteer, Vern Barnet is an exemplary leader and servant of others. His personal mission has been to promote understanding among peoples of all faiths in Kansas City. Vern initiated the Kansas City Interfaith Council in 1989 by recruiting representatives from a full range of organized religions. He has led the IFC as its convener, moderator, energizer and mediator for fifteen years, shepherding the Council to its current, independent, viable, important status in the community. Barnet organized and led the unprecedented "Gifts of Pluralism" 3-day conference, held in Kansas City in 2001, which brought together practitioners of diverse religions to learn about each others' faiths, and fostered numerous inter-cultural activities.
2007 SHORT BIO
The Reverend Vern Barnet, DMn, founded the Kansas City Interfaith Council in 1989 and his organization, CRES, hosted it through 2005. He has been honored by Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and other groups in Kansas City and elsewhere. Among his many civic activities, he chaired the Jackson County Diversity Task Force which studied the effects of 9/11 on people of faith in the 5-county area. Since 1994, his Wednesday "Faiths and Beliefs" column has appeared in The Kansas City Star. In 2007 he was a member of the international faculty of the pilot "Interfaith Academies" which included partnerships with Harvard University's Pluralism Project and Religions for Peace - USA at the United Nations Plaza.
2007 BIO FOR ML KING ADDRESS
The Reverend Vern Barnet, DMn, founder of the Kansas City Interfaith Council, is known to many through his "Faith and Beliefs" column Wednesdays in The Kansas City Star. He has been honored by Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and other groups in Kansas City and elsewhere. He has spoken widely, including to a crowd of 500,000 on the banks of the Ganges River. Among his many civic activities, he chaired the Jackson County Diversity Task Force which studied the effects of 9/11 on people of faith in the 5-county area. In 2007 he was a member of the international faculty of the pilot "Interfaith Academies" which included partnerships with Harvard University's Pluralism Project and Religions for Peace - USA at the United Nations Plaza. Area seminaries have engaged him to teach "World Religions" and other courses. As a student, he met Martin Luther King Jr, preached his first Easter sermon right after King was assassinated, and has felt King's influence shaping much of his career and hope for the future.
2008 BIO FOR UNITY LYCEUM
The Reverend Vern Barnet, DMn, is known to readers of The Kansas City Star for his weekly "Faiths and Beliefs" column, begun in 1994. Barnet founded the Kansas City Interfaith Council in 1989. He has been honored by Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and other groups in Kansas City and elsewhere. His largest international audience was 500,000 on the banks of the Ganges River. Among his many civic activities, he chaired the Jackson County Diversity Task Force which studied the effects of 9/11 on people of faith in the 5-county area. He has taught as an adjunct faculty member at the Unity Institute, the Saint Paul School of Theology, and the Central Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2007 he was a member of the international faculty of the pilot "Interfaith Academies" which included partnerships with Harvard University's Pluralism Project and Religions for Peace - USA at the United Nations Plaza. His doctoral studies were completed at the University of Chicago Divinity School and the affiliated seminary, the Meadville-Lombard Theological School, where he studied with world renown scholar Mircea Eliade. He has also studied with Joseph Campbell and Huston Smith, whom he brought to Unity Village in 2005. Two Star columns this spring were about Lyceum presenter Bart Ehrman and an earlier column featured John Shelby Spong.
BIO FOR SPIRITUAL PDR
The Reverend Vern Barnet, D.Mn., completed his doctoral work at the University of Chicago and Meadville-Lombard Theological School in 1970. Honored by Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, and other groups, he has taught world religions at several universities and seminaries. Since 1994, he has been a religion columnist for The Kansas City Star, and his articles and reviews have appeared in many national publications.
After international interfaith work, [and after serving on the planning committee for the first conference of the North American Interfaith Network in 1988,] he organized the Kansas City Interfaith Council in 1989, with 13 faiths, from American Indian to Zoroastrian, [as a program of the Center for Religious Experience and Study (“CRES”), where he is now minister emeritus]. Following 9/11 he led the region’s unprecedented “Gifts of Pluralism” conference which fostered interfaith initiatives featured on a half-hour CBS-TV special. Among his many civic activities, he chaired the Jackson County government’s Diversity Task Force that studied the effects of 9/11 on people of faith in the 5-county Kansas City area.
His interfaith work led to Kansas City being chosen as the site for the nation’s first “Interfaith Academies” sponsored by Harvard University’s Pluralism Project, Religions for Peace-USA, and other groups. Ellie Pierce, principal researcher for the Pluralism Project, said, “At the Pluralism Project, we consider Kansas City to be truly at the forefront of interfaith relations. This is — in no small part — due to the tireless efforts of Vern Barnet, whose work and writings have been an inspiration to all of us at the Pluralism Project.”
With great affection, he remembers the originator of this book, the Reverend Steven L. Jeffers, Ph.D., who attracted him and others of many faiths in developing the Institute for Spirituality in Health at Shawnee Mission Medical Center.
CRESCENT PEACE SOCIETY, 2010
The Reverend Vern Barnet, DMn, founded the Kansas City Interfaith Council in 1989. He has been honored by local Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, and Muslim organizations (including the “Community Service Award” from the Crescent Peace Society in 2002) as well as by national and international professional and interfaith groups. A worker as well as a scholar, his many civic activities included chairing the Jackson County Diversity Task Force which studied the effects of 9/11 on people of faith in the 5-county area. Among his many publications, his Wednesday "Faith and Beliefs" column has appeared in The Kansas City Star since 1994.
PLAZA LIBRARY, 2014
BIO-SKETCH.— The Reverend Vern Barnet, DMn, completed his doctoral work in 1970 at the University of Chicago and the affiliated seminary, Meadville-Lombard, where he studied with his next door neighbor, the renown historian of religion, Mircea Eliade. He met and became friends with Huston Smith that year, and subsequently studied with Joseph Campbell.
AFTER serving parishes in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Kansas, in 1989 Dr Barnet founded the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council as a program of CRES, which he created in 1982. He has taught at area colleges, universities, and seminaries, including the nation’s first “Interfaith Academies” sponsored by Harvard University’s Pluralism Project and others, and spoken internationally. (His largest crowd was 500,000 on the banks of the Ganges River.) He chaired the multi-faith Jackson County 9/11 commission which issued a 35,000 word report. He has received awards from Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and other religious groups, and from civic organizations such as the national Community Leadership Association award in 2006. Each year beginning in 2010, the Heartland Alliance of Divine Love has recognized a distinguished member of the community with the “Vern Barnet Interfaith Service Award.”
FROM 1994 to 2012 he wrote the weekly “Faith and Beliefs” column for The Kansas City Star. In 2002 his interfaith work was featured in a half-hour CBS-TV special. In 2013 Radcliffe published the 740-page Essential Guide to Religious Traditions and Spirituality for Health Care Providers, which he and three others edited. His book of 154 sonnets and glosses, Thanks for Noticing: The Interpretation of Desire, which draws upon the world’s spiritual traditions, is expected in September, 2015.
A list of publications, citations, and other biographical data can be found at www.cres.org/vern.
The Reverend Vern Barnet, DMn, completed his doctoral work in 1970 at the University of Chicago and the Meadville-Lombard Theological School where among his teachers were historian of religion Mircea Eliade, philosopher-psychotherapist Eugene T Gendlin, Templeton Prize winner Ralph Wendell Burhoe, and psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Ordained a Unitarian Universalist minister, he served parishes in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Kansas before dedicating his career to interfaith understanding in the Kansas City area, where he founded the Interfaith Council in 1989.
For eighteen years the weekly religion columnist for The Kansas City Star, Vern Barnet has been honored by Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, and other groups. With three others, he wrote and edited the 740-page Essential Guide to Religious Traditions and Spirituality for Health Care Providers, published by Radcliffe in 2013. His articles, reviews, and poems have appeared in many publications. His book of 154 sonnets and glosses, Thanks for Noticing: The Interpretation of Desire, which draws upon the world’s spiritual traditions, is expected in September, 2015.
He has taught world religions and related subjects at several universities and seminaries (including the Saint Paul School of Theology, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and the Unity Institute), and served on the faculty of the nation’s first “Interfaith Academies” sponsored by Harvard University’s Pluralism Project and Religions for Peace-USA. He has studied and spoken internationally; his largest live audience was a crowd of 500,000 on the banks of the Ganges River in 1986. He has been featured in national media, including a half-hour CBS-TV special in 2002. He chaired the multi-faith Jackson County 9/11 commission which issued a 35,000 word report. His civic activities have been recognized with local and national awards, and a “Vern Barnet Interfaith Service Award” is given to a distinguished Kansas Citian each year.
Now minister emeritus of the Center for Religious Experience and Study (“CRES”), which he founded in 1982, he is an active Episcopalian layman. Harvard’s Pluralism Project profiles him on its website: http://pluralism.org/interfaith/kansas_city/leaders/barnet. A full biography and list of publications appear at http://www.cres.org/team/vern.htm.
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DEGREES, CERTIFICATE, ORDINATION
- 1965 BA, University of Nebraska (philosophy)
- 1970 Certificate, Clinical Pastoral Education, University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics
- 1970 DMn, Meadville Theological School, affiliated with the University of Chicago; dissertation: Voidism: A Personal Theology for the Practice of the Liberal Ministry.
- 1970 Ordained to the Unitarian Universalist Ministry by the Lincoln, NE Unitarian Church
- 1970 Fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association
Numerous awards from Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, interfaith, professional, civic, and secular groups. Click here for awards list
PARTIAL LIST OF PUBLICATIONS:
Barnet, Vern, Thanks for Noticing: The Interpretation of Desire, La Vita Nuova Books, a special project of CRES, 2015, ISBN: 978-0692494370, LCCN: 2015911786.
Barnet, Vern, articles in Spirit: The magazine of the Diocese of West Missouri [Episcopal], 2015-
Barnet, Vern, DMn, with Steven L. Jeffers, PhD, Michael E. Nelson, MD, and Michael C. Brannigan, PhD, editors: The Essential Guide to Religious Traditions and Spirituality for Health Care Providers, 2013, Radcliffe ISBN: 9781846195600.
——. 947 “Faith and Beliefs” columns in The Kansas City Star, 1994-2012. His column has been quoted or reprinted in other papers and magazines, including the Charlotte Observer, The Irish Independent, Australia News, The Missoulian, The Greenbay, PressGazette, Tricycle: Buddhist Review, The Lexington Herald-Leader, LaCrosse Tribune, and many others.
——. Over forty “Sacred Paths” columns in Camp, 2004-2008.
——. Over 80 essays in comparative religion in Many Paths, 1996-present.
——. “Hair and Fish,” Chicago Literary Review, Summer 1968.
——. “God is Doing His Thing: The Hippie Heresy and Liberalism,” The Journal of the Liberal Ministry, Winter, 1969, pp 2-46.
——, et al. Unitarian Universalist Views of the Sacrament, Unitarian Universalist Association, 1971.
——. “Peace Now More Than Ever,” The Meadville Tribune, January 4, 1973.
——. “Streaking in the Void.” Unitarian Universalist World, May 15, 1974.
——, et al. Our Experiencing, Believing and Celebrating: A Multimedia Curriculum Unit for Adolescents and Adults. Unitarian Universalist Association, 1979.
——. “Why Title a Caress?” Unitarian Universalist World, September 15, 1974.
——. “Presidents’ Religious Beliefs Examined.” The Kansas City Star, January 15, 1977.
——. “Something to be Concerned About.” Unitarian Universalist World, September 15, 1978.
——, ed. Worship Reader: An Anthology of Liberal Religious Worship Theory from Von Ogden Vogt (1921) to the Commission on Common Worship (1980) and Supplement, Congregation of Abraxas, 1980.
——. “Four Topics: The Situation, the Sacred, the Community, the Pilgrimage,” in Worship Reader, above, pp 88-125.
——. “Kansas City is best spot for interfaith center,” Johnson County Star, Apr 17, 1987.
——. “The World’s Religions: Pieces or Pattern?” Assembly of the World’s Religions, August 15-21, 1990.
——. Love without Desire: Sonnets about Loving Men. Moose Magic Press, 1992.
——. “Book looks at God through the eyes of the monotheistic faiths” [book review of A History of God by Karen Armstrong]. The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, Dec 24, 1993.
——. “God: A Biography by Jack Miles” [book review], World, Sep/Oct 1995.——. “Holy city, unholy history” [book review of Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths by Karen Armstrong]. National Catholic Reporter, Sep 6, 1996.
—— [chairman], et al. “Jackson County Diversity Task Force Report to the Honorable Katheryn Shields, Jackson County Executive, and to the Residents of the Greater Kansas City Area: September 10, 2002,” 77 pages, Jackson County, MO, 2002.
—— “Remember the God of All Nations.” Unity Magazine,Jan/Feb 2003.
____ "Harmony in a World of Differences: Interfaith Works," Unity Magazine, 2011 Mar/Apr, pp 20-22.
____. “Prologue for the Ceremony of Installation for David J. Waxse as Magistrate Judge of the US District Court for the District of Kansas,” The Barletter, 2000 January, p.9.
____. “Praying in Public," The Interfaith Observer, 2012 Oct.
——. Liturgical works, poems, and other materials in Creative Writing (Omaha Public High Schools, 1960); Grain of Sand (December 1960, May 1961, December 1961, May 1962, December 1962) University of Omaha; Scrip (Spring 1964) University of Nebraska; Encompass: A Journal of Synthesis (July 1966, November 1966); 73 Voices: Personal Wistful Hopeful (Unitarian Universalist Assn, 1971); Lyric Collection (Religious Arts Guild, Boston, 1979); God Box (Meadville Theological School Student Assn, Spring 1967, Summer 1967, Winter 1968, Winter 1971); Prism (January 1991); A Christmas Journal for the Unwashed Masses (December 1991); The 5th Street Irregulars Review (April 1992, October 1993); Tiwa (September, 1992, Spring 1993). [partial compilation.]
CITED, QUOTED, ACKNOWLEDGED,
OR APPEARS IN:
- Arnason, Wayne, and Kathleen Rolenz. Worship that Works: Theory and Practice for Unitarian Universalists. Skinner House Books, 2008.
- Chasteen, Ed. How to Like People Who Are Not Like You, 2007.
- Commission on Common Worship, Unitarian Universalist Association, Leading Congregations in Worship -- A Guide, Boston, 1983.
- Curtis, James H. Midnight Notebooks, Curtis Memorial Fund, 1974.
- Diuguid, Lewis W. Discovering the Real America: Toward a More Perfect Union. BrownWalker Press, 2007.
- Foerster, L Annie. For Praying Out Loud: Interfaith Prayers for Public Occasions. Skinner House Books, 2003.
- Goldman, Paul. Journey into Oneness, O-Books, 2011
- Harris, Mark W. The A to Z of Unitarian Universalism, Scarecrow Press 20036.
- Heckman, Bud, ed. Interactive Faith: The Essential Interreligious Community-Building Handbook. Skylight Paths Publishing, 2008.
- Jacobs, Anton. Religion and the Critical Mind: A journey for seekers, doubters and the curious. Lexington Books, 2010.
- James, Sandy. Connect with Kansas City: Ways to Engage in the Community. Sandy Coldsnow. 2001.
- Kinnaugh, Norm. ["Three Variations on a Theme of the 'Lost Chord'"]. The American Organist, May, 2013, pages 28-29.
- Mehdi, Mohammad T. Islam and Tolerance. New World Press, 1990.
- Robinson, Christine, and Alica Hawkins. Heart to Heart. Skinner House Press, 2009.
- Shabbir. Mahnaz. “The Hope of Interfaith Missions” in Kansas City Voices, 2006.
- Skinner, Donald E. “Kansas City UU minister builds interfaith bridges,” UU World March/April, 2003.
- Sloan, Richard, The Sorceress of Menlo Park, 2015.
- Smale, David. “Common Ground in Lieu of Consensus: The Exploration of Stem Cell Research,” Ingram’s, May 2005.
- Smith, Jane I. "Teaching Islam in American Thological Schools" in Mumtaz Ahmad, Zahid Bukhari, Sulayman Nyang, editors: Observing the Observer: The State of Islamic Studies in American Universities, 2012.
- Stanford, Chuck (Lama Changchup Kunchok Dorje). The Basics of Buddhism, Dharmakaya Publications, 2013.
- Tapp, Robert B. Religion Among the Unitarian Universalists. Seminar Press, 1973.
- Vahle, Neal. The Unity Movement. Templeton Foundation Press, 2002.
- ---. The Spiritual Journey of Charles Fillmore: Discovering the Power Within. Templeton Foundation Press, 2008.
- --. A Course in Miracles: The Lives of Helen Schucman & William Thetford, Second Edition. Open View Press, 2009.
- --. Eric Butterworth: His Life and Teaching, Open View Press, 2012.
- == Numerous radio, TV, and print news reports.
SAMPLE SPECIAL LECTURES, WORKSHOPS, PAPERS
- “Vision, Vocation, and Valor,” commencement address, Ottawa University - Kansas City, 2002.
- “Water,” keynote address, Phi Theta Kappa Induction Ceremony, Johnson County Community College, 2000.
- “The Heart of World Religions and the Heart of the Patient,” keynote address, Health and Spirituality Conference, 2005, Community of Christ.
- “Journey Towards Understanding,” led one-day interfaith conference for students from five high schools, Kauffman Foundation
- “Gifts of Pluralism,” 3-day interfaith conference, president and keynote speaker, 2001.
- “Saving and Savoring the World,” 5-part Lenten series, Church of the Good Shepherd, 2005.
- “The Path of Peace in World Religions,” Kansas City Annual World Peace Meditation, 2003.
- “The Idea of Work in Many Religions,” dinner remarks for The Cathedral Center for Faith and Work dinner, 2003.
- “The World's Religions: Pieces or Pattern?” paper at the Assembly of the World's Religions, 1990.
- “Issues in Inter-Faith Worship,” workshop, International Association for Religious Freedom 21st Congress, 1987.
- “The Convergence of Religion,” remarks at the Seoul Conference of the International Religious Foundation, 1987.
- “The Common Heritage of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism,” moderated panel at “Islam and the Muslim World Conference,” International Relations Council, 1986.
- Turthraj Milan address, “The Situation in America and India,” Pryag, India, 1986.
- Remarks, An American Assisi, conference of the North American Interfaith Network, 1988.
- “Remembering and Renewing after 9/11,” city-wide interfaith observance hosted at the Carlsen Center, 2001 Sep 16.
- Panel on “Pluralism” with Diana Eck, Saint Paul School of Theology, 1998.
- “Three Families of Faith,” keynote address, Interfaith Community Ministries Regional Conference, 2000.
- “Creation in the Present,” workshop, Marin, CA, 2000
- “A Neighborhood of Faiths,” Community Leadership Institute NeighborWorks Conference, 2004.
- A God Atheists Can Believe In, 2010
- == Countless other sermons, lectures, addresses, classes, workshops, tours, etc at Rotary clubs, churches, schools.
- Open Hearts, Open Minds, CBS-TV, half-hour special, 2002.
- Faith Perspectives and Responses to Pain and Suffering, Psychiatry Grand Rounds, University of Kansas Medical Center, 2005
- The Religions of Kansas City, Metropolitan Community Colleges - Blue River, 2006
- TalkBackLive with Steve Rose, KCPT 30-minute interview and call-in show, 2006.
- What Is Synchronicity? -- feature film in production
- Videos about Thanks for Noticing
- PARTIAL LIST -- UNDER CONSTRUCTION
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT (examples)
* Developed curriculum for the annual week-long Overland Park Rotary Club Foundation's Youth Leadership Institute for high school students, 1994, and directed the program 1996 and 1997.
* UNDER CONSTRUCTION - - - - - -
AWARDS (PARTIAL LIST)
RELIGION AWARDS by date (Civic awards follow)
- JEWISH — Jewish Community Relations Bureau of Greater KC “Distinguished Community Service Award,” 1979 May 30.
- CHRISTIAN-INTERFAITH — Waldo Country Club Ministerial Association: “Warren Dentler Religious Service Award,” 1991 May 15.
- MUSLIM — The American Muslim Council, Midwest Region “Distinguished Community Service Award,” 20 Muharram 1418 [1998 May 16].
- INTERFAITH — Pike’s Peak Interfaith Council, Colorado Springs, CO, Award for Interfaith Achievement, 2000 June 15.
- BUDDHIST — Rime Buddhist Center and Monastery Tibetan Institute of Studies “Bodhisattva Award,” 2001 December 31.
- MUSLIM — Crescent Peace Society “Community Service Award,” 2002 December 14.
- INTERFAITH — Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, “Table Of Faiths Award,” 2005 November 10.
- SIKH — Midwest Sikh Association “Vaisakhi Community Service Award,” 2006 April 15.
- HINDU — Hindu Temple and Cultural Center of Kansas City, 2007 June 17.
- MUSLIM — Al Inshirah Islamic Center, “The Abraham Legacy Award,” 2008 May 31.
- MUSLIM — Lifetime Service Award, Crescent Peace Society, 2010 September 26.
- INTERFAITH — the inaugural "Vern Barnet Interfaith Service Award" from the Heartland Alliance of Divine Love, 2010 November 21/
LEADERSHIP AND SERVICE AWARDS by date
- Rotary Foundation of Rotary International “Paul Harris Fellow” Award, 1985.
- Overland Park Rotary Club “Distinguished Service Award,” 1987.
- Hate Busters, Inc., “Don Quixote Award,” 1979 May 30.
- Youth Leadership Institute “Service Recognition,” 1995.
- Overland Park Rotary Foundation, “Service Above Self,” 1995-1996.
- Kansas House of Representatives, Topeka, KS, “Commendation,” 1998 May 2.
- Kansas City Tomorrow Alumni Association "Star of the Alumni Association" Award, 1990 April 26.
- Kansas City Tomorrow Alumni Association “Distinguished Alum” Award, 2006 February 16.
- [National] Community Leadership Association, Distinguished Leadership Award,” 2006, Hartford, CT.
*recipients of the KC Tomorrow Alumni Association Distinguished Alum Award:
1987 - Art Fillmore, Class I
1988 - Alvin Brooks, Class IV
1989 - Drue Jennings, Class V
1990 - Susan Stanton, Class VII
1991 - Jan Kreamer, Class II
1992 - Linda Gill Taylor, Class VII
1993 - Frank Kirk, Class I
1994 - Terry Dunn, Class III
1997 - Linda Ward, Class III and Terry Ward, Class I
1998 - David Thomas, Class XV
1999 - Randall Ferguson Jr., Class XIV
2000 - William Berkley, Class VIII
2001 - Ramon Murguia, Class X
2002 - Mary Hunkeler, Class XII
2003 - Palle Rilinger, Class IX
2004 - John Laney, Class III
2005 - Sandra Aust, Class V
2006 - Reverend Vern Barnet, Class XII
2007 - Allan Gray, Class VIII
2008 - Laura McKnight, Class XXVII
2009 - William Hall, Class I
2010 - Thomas Hoenig, Class XI
2011 - Thomas Bloch, Class I
2012 - Angela Bennett, Class V
2013 - Jody Ladd Craig, Class I
2014 - Anne St. Peter, Class XXII
2015 - Russ Welsh, Class VI
2016 - Chris Gentile, Class XXIV
UU World March/April 2003
living the faith
Kansas City UU minister builds interfaith bridges
by Donald E. Skinner
It is 6 a.m. on the last day of the year, and 250 people of different faiths have gathered at a Buddhist center in Kansas City, Missouri, for the seventeenth annual World Peace Meditation. They have come to witness and participate in Native American prayers, Tibetan Buddhist chants and meditations, Sufi dancing, and a Muslim call to prayer. And, of course, to hear the Rev. Vern Barnet speak about "The Path of Peace in World Religions."
Rev. Barnet has been a Unitarian Universalist minister since 1970. In 1984 he left his last parish, in a Kansas City suburb, to take up what had become his passion — the study of world religions and the promotion of interfaith understanding. He founded the Center for Religious Experience and Study in 1982 (www.cres.org) and since then has gone on to help create or to inspire a broad array of multi-faith programs, resources, and organizations that have helped make Kansas City a national model.
When CBS went looking last summer for a city actively involved in multi-faith work, it selected Kansas City in large part because of Barnet's work — and because after 9/11 Kansas City experienced little of the aggression against Muslims that other cities reported. A film crew spent a week in Kansas City filming what would become a half-hour documentary, "Open Hearts, Open Minds," which was shown in October 2002.
The intro to the film went as follows: "A growing number of people in this heartland city are trying to send a message to the rest of America — Let's celebrate our diversity, let's get to know people of different religions and different backgrounds, respect them, maybe even love them. It's a simple message, and an old one, but since 9/11, the idea of brotherhood has gained new urgency."
CBS was initially attracted by a program that one of Barnet's groups launched last year. It printed thousands of thirty-two page passport-size booklets and distributed them to congregations to hand out. Holders of these "interfaith passports" are encouraged to visit other religious groups and in the process collect a stamp, sticker, or signature just as they would in crossing international borders. The program, and other initiatives that Barnet helped create, are helping Kansas City-area residents appreciate each other's religious diversity in several ways:
* Since 1994 Barnet has written weekly "Faiths and Beliefs" column in the Kansas City Star about the value of diversity. The column appears to have changed people's attitudes. "In the beginning," he says, "I'd get calls and letters about how I was sending people to hell and why was I diverting people from the one true religion? But the responses I get now are more focused on trying to understand something I've written. That's one way I know we're making a difference here."
* MOSAIC, a newly formed group that Barnet helped organize, is, in addition to developing the passport project, collecting "life stories" of religious involvement and plans to dramatize them this year as a way of expanding appreciation of various faiths. It also sponsors a book club. One of the first titles discussed was Why Religion Matters, by Huston Smith. The Rev. Kathy Riegelman, a Unitarian Universalist community minister, is helping with that work.
* Hospitals and schools increasingly call Barnet for interfaith resources. Prayers at his Rotary club no longer end "in Jesus' name."
Barnet's days are a round of speaking engagements, organizational meetings, teaching, and writing. His appointments for a recent two-week period included speaking to students at Unity School of Religious Studies on "The Various Forms of Prayer," at a Roman Catholic church on "How Other Faiths Respond to the Scripture for the Day," and on "Religious Stereotypes" at a PeaceJam youth workshop at a Roman Catholic university. He also gave "A Brief History of the Christian Denominations" to an interdenominational marriage group at a Roman Catholic church, spoke on "The Heart of Every Faith" to a Baptist men's group, and discussed interfaith topics on a local National Public Radio station talk show.
Barnet had always intended to be a parish minister. And he was for fourteen years. But he noticed that whenever he talked about world religions "there was great resonance in my congregations. I got a very noticeable response." That encouraged him to learn more about world religions and to explore his own community. As he became aware of the broad array of religious groups in Kansas City he decided to take up interfaith work. "I saw this as a mission field," he says. "And it's every bit as demanding as parish work."
He lives simply, or as he says, "low to the ground." He receives no salary for his interfaith work. Last year he earned about $5,000 from teaching at local colleges. He supplements that income with early withdrawals from his pension. Friends help with living expenses, including donating clothing and an occasional automobile. "It's a quasi-monastic model," he says. "I have learned what it is like to live under the poverty level. I am very aware of economic injustice."
Barnet is often called on to give inclusive prayers at public events and he has developed a guide for that purpose. He has also developed Earth Day resources that explain the ways in which various faiths regard the Earth. Both are available on the CRES Web site.
One of the first things Barnet did when he began his interfaith work was to help organize a comprehensive metro interfaith council, giving not only Christians, Jews, and Muslims a way to talk together, but also Baha'is, Sufis, Wiccans, Zoroastrians, Native Americans, and others. A multifaith speaker's bureau has also been created, and it has been much in demand since 9/11. An annual interfaith dinner is held on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, placing Thanksgiving in a worldwide religious context and celebrating the many ways that various religions express gratitude. More than 150 were in attendance at last November's dinner.
The interfaith council was instrumental in organizing multi-faith memorial services after September 11, 2001, and its one-year anniversary, and also organized Kansas City's first interfaith conference, "The Gifts of Pluralism," in October 2001. More than 250 people from fifteen faith groups attended.
One of Barnet's close associates in interfaith work is Kansas City Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Brooks. "Vern has taken interfaith work to a new level," says Brooks. "He reaches out not only to the major faiths, but to others. He helps keep them all connected, and he provides a great service for the metro area."
Barnet is heartened by the growing interest that he sees in learning about other religions. "People are hungry for knowledge about other peoples' faiths," he says. "And they end up deepening their own faith when they have encounters with other faiths. This is what has to happen if the human race is going to survive."
SPIRITUAL VIEWPOINT IN BRIEF
Many people have asked about my own spiritual perspective.
In 1998, I wrote a column explaining my concerns about responding,
and a second column placing my hesitation aside and setting forth my view.
Both columns follow:
1998 July 22
This column has now appeared more than 200 times. You, dear readers, have shaped it in ways I did not anticipate.
Judging by your calls and the comments I hear as I work around the community, the vast majority of you are Christians interested in understanding your faith and the faiths of others more deeply.
Since 1994 many of you have asked, "What do you, Vern Barnet, believe?" I have hesitated to respond for four reasons:
1. The purpose of this column is not to further my own views but to explore spiritual issues as they appear on the many paths of faith.
2. A good teacher respects the independence of students' views and does not want his or her own opinions to short-circuit the maturation process. Similarly, I'd prefer to model such respect rather than suggest that I have answers that will work for others. As exposure to many ideas in the classroom helps us develop our own, so encounter with the diversity of traditions can stimulate the deepening of our own faith.
3. I seldom agree with myself two days in a row. Well, perhaps that's a bit exaggerated, but the Truth is so large I see only tiny parts, and every day brings a fresh evaluation.
4. Words may be fine, but the real test is how they are lived. Since we learn more by example than by catechism, my own failures become painful evident when I compare what I say with what I do. It is embarrassing.
Nevertheless, next Wednesday I will honor the requests. You, dear readers, have a right to such disclosure.
I know I'm bound to disappoint. But I hope my failure will move you to compose a statement of your own faith and share it with others.
1998 July 29
Since this column began in 1994, I've often been asked to disclose my own beliefs. Today I respond. While I personally use terms like "sin" and "salvation," here I search for fresh ways to express such concerns.
I believe that when we encounter the Holy, we naturally feel awe; that awe matures into gratitude; and that gratitude is complete only in service to others.
I believe that we are born to love unconditionally, but rewards and punishments place conditions on the Holy and distort us, dividing us within ourselves, from each other and from the world of nature.
I believe such conditioning puts us in a secular trance, deepened by perverted desires for pleasure, status, power and wealth; and that as this fragmented trance obscures the Holy, we are numbed to the suffering of others, to our own inborn natures and to the environment.
I believe that religions, through story, ritual and compassion, can restore us to the embrace of the Infinite, but that often religions have justified the trance with fear, greed and violence.
I believe we may be emerging from this trance as the process of spiritual evolution unfolds in atom, cell, person and society; and that the universe, making many mistakes, may yet come to behold itself though us.
I believe this process includes today's concourse of the world's religions and offers their mutual purification; that this free nation, where most of us are children of immigrants, is the best place for authenticity; and that honoring differences can extinguish the selfish, addictive trance, awaken us to the Holy and call us to service together.
I believe there's a lot of work and play and loving to do.
Religion does not begin with words. Faith does not originate in a box of beliefs. Faith arises from experiences of the sacred, of transcendence, of a sense of the holy.
Such experiences say “Life is worth living” and are available to all people, whether they think themselves religious or not. Words, stories, rituals, beliefs, communities and religions arise from sharing such precious experiences. But when beliefs become detached from these experiences, you get fundamentalism. Such literalism, whether "religious" or atheistic, is the very opposite of the experience of the sacred.
- It may be a solitary walk through the woods,
- or holding an infant, or gazing at the stars,
- or hearing music performed so well you are astonished,
- or seeing an athlete achieve an unparalleled feat,
- or giving aid to someone in need,
- or a conversation in which you understood your friend as never before, or your friend understood you,
- or communing with a Higher Power
- or joining as a beloved religious community in a ritual of faith, heritage and commitment.--adapted from The Kansas City Star, 2010 August 12
A WORKING BOOK LIST
a starting place for theology embracing many fields
for people interested in Vern Barnet's perspectives
and folks who want to argue without a sufficiently common background
Catherine L. Albanese: America: Religions and Religion
Karen Armstrong: A History of God
Ian G Barbour: Religion and Science
Robert N Bellah: Religion in Human Evolution
Mark Belletini: Nothing Gold Can Stay: The Colors of Grief
Joseph Campbell: The Hero with a Thousand Faces
Wendy Doniger (O'Flaherty): Other People's Myths
Mircea Eliade: Cosmos and History: The Myth of the Eternal Return
Mircea Eliade: A History of Religious Ideas, 3 volumes
Mircea Eliade: The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion
The Episcopal Church: The Book of Common Prayer
Peter Farb: Humankind
Charles Hamden-Turner:Maps of the Mind
Bud Heckman: InterActive Faith: The Essential Interreligious Communinty-Building Handbook
Douglas Hofstadter: Godel Escher Bach
Anton Jacobs: Religion and the Critical Mind: A journey for seekers, doubters and the curious
Michael Kaplan and Ellen Kaplan: Chances Are . . .: Adventures in Probability
Martin Luther King Jr: "Letter from a Birmingham Jail"
Thomas Kuhn: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
Roger Schmidt: Exploring Religion
Huston Smith:The World's Religions
Lewis Thomas:The Lives of a Cell
Al Truesdale: If God is God, Then Why? -- Letters from Oklahoma City
Henry Nelson Wieman: Man's Ultimate Commitment
Ludwig Wittgenstein: Philosophical Investigations
Theodore Zeldin: An Intimate History of Humanity
1998 01 07
THE STAR'S HEADLINE:
Pulitzer winner’s tome is a favorite
“Your favorite book?” a reader asks.
In 1979 a book appeared which expressed a religious vision using examples from mathematics, art, music, psychology, biology, physics and other fields so amazingly that I placed it with my collection of world scriptures. It remains there today.
Written by artificial intelligence researcher Douglas R. Hofstadter, the book, Godel, Escher, Bach, won a Pulitzer Prize. It has been called the “best non-fiction book of the 20th Century.” It received enthusiastic reviews. No theologian of any age — not Aquinas, not Tillich, not Samkara — has written more ingeniously about Reality and the mystery of consciousness.
Its 800 pages are difficult but fun.
Even if you don't do math or Zen koans, you can follow the book's development because before each chapter is a story which illustrates the chapter's theme. These stories are themselves written as pieces of contrapuntal music. “Crab Canon,” for example, appears about the same whether you begin at the first or the last sentence.
One theme of the book is recursion, which can be described as a procedure which contains a smaller version of itself, like a story within a story. This theme prepares the reader to see how DNA, for example, is information which copies itself through generations — DNA as both “software” and “hardware.”
In this light, the book itself becomes a recursive revelation, a self-extracting document which the universe has brought forth. This suggests that the universe, too, is recursive. This book illustrates how can we decode its sacred meaning from every and any situation.
P u b l i c i t y p h o t o s f o r d o w n l o a d i n g
Click on photos for High-Resolution images or download for full size
to page index
Harvard University's Pluralism Project Kansas City Leadership Profile (Image from pluralism.org)
33. From wonder to wonder existence opens.
xx. Where there is no sense of awe, there will be disaster.
10. I’m astounded by people who want to “know” the universe when it’s hard enough to find your way around Chinatown. —Woody Allen
30. Men make their religion a historical religion. They see God in Judea and in Egypt, in Moses and in Jesus, but not around them. We want a living religion. As the faith was alive in the hearts of Abraham and Paul, so I would have it in mine. I want a religion not recorded in a book, but flowing from all things. When we have broken our God of tradition and ceased from our God of rhetoric, then may God fire the heart with his presence. —R W Emerson
26. True religion is a movement, not a position; a process, not a result; a growing tradition, not a fixed revelation. —S Radhakrishnan
1. Zen “pushes contradictions to their ultimate limit where one has to choose between madness and innocence.” —Thomas Merton
2. If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it? —Dogen
3. The only Zen you find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there. —Robert Pirsig
4. Zen is the unsymbolization of the world. —R H Blyth
5. Everything the same; everything distinct. —Zen proverb
888. God is a being beyond being and nothingness beyond being, God is nothing. No thing. God is nothingness. --Meister Eckhart
9999000. I am a part of the whole, and I cannot find God apart from the rest of humanity.--Gandhi
Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means. -Gandhi
All things are interdependent. -- Meister Eckhart
When we say God is eternal, we mean He is eternally young. -- Meister Eckhart
[W]e have lost the yearning for God which comes when we are faced with the sufferings of people. --Jean Vanier, Followers of Jesus, 2976, p7.
Compassion means justice. . . . The person who understands what I have to say about justice understands everything I have to say. -- Meister Eckhart
6. A painting of a rice cake does not satisfy hunger. —Ancient saying
7. The map is not the territory. —Alfred Korzbyski
8. In walking, just walk. In sitting, just sit. Above all, don't wobble. —Yun-men
9. To study Buddhism is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things. To be enlightened by all things is to drop off our own body and mind, and to drop off the bodies and minds of others. No trace of enlightenment remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly. —Dogen
11. The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely. —Carl Jung
12. One day Chao-chou fell down in the snow, and called out, “Help me up!” A monk came and lay down beside him. Chao-chou got up and went away. —Zen story
13. The self says, I am; the heart says, I am less; the spirit says, you are nothing. —Theodore Roethke
14. Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. —John Lennon
15. How can you think and hit at the same time? —Yogi Berra
16. When an ordinary man attains knowledge, he is a sage; when a sage attains understanding, he is an ordinary man. —Zen saying
17. Things derive their being and nature by mutual dependence and are nothing in themselves. —Nagarjuna
21. The holiest of holies is empty. —Sam Keen
18. The Universe is an interconnected whole in which no part is any more fundamental than any other, so that the properties of one part are determined by those of all the other. —Fritjof Capra
29. You can never do merely one thing. —Garrett Hardin
xx. Our joy comes by another's blood and from wounds we open all our lives. --Robert Farrar Capon in his 1982 Beyond Noon and Three, p78.
19. The world is one, namely many. —Kitaro Nishida
88. It is as meaningless to ask whether one believes or disbelieves in Aphrodite or Ares as to ask whether one believes in a character in a novel; one can only say that one finds them true or untrue to life. To believe in Aphrodite and Ares merely means that one believes that the poetic myths about them do justice to the forces of sex and aggression as human beings experience them in nature and in their own lives. —W H Auden
20. The final belief is to believe in a fiction, which you know to be a fiction, there being nothing else. The exquisite truth is to know that it is a fiction, and that you believe it willingly. —Wallace Stevens: Opus Posthumous: Poems, Plays, Prose, p 163.
22. The highest purpose is to have no purpose at all. —John Cage
23. Don’t believe anything. —Buckminster Fuller
28. One never knows, does one? —Fats Waller
24. No one’s mouth is big enough to utter the whole thing. —Alan Watts
25. There are people doing everything, and I just don’t think that anything’s It. —Jerry Garcia
27. Teach us to care, and not to care. —T S Eliot
00. Rewards and punishment is the lowest form of
31. I laugh like a flower, not just mouth laughter. / From non-being I burst forth with gaiety and mirth. / But love taught me another way of laughter. / The neophyte laughs according to profit and gain. / Like a shell, I laugh when broken. — Jalal-uddin Rumi
32. One day a man approached Ikkyu and asked: “Master, will you please write for me some maxims of the highest wisdom?” Ikkyu took his brush and wrote “Attention.” “Is that all?” asked the man. Ikkyu then wrote: “Attention. Attention.” “Well,” said the man, “I really don’t see much depth in what you have written.” Then Ikkyu wrote the same word three times: “Attention. Attention. Attention.” Half-angered, the man demanded, “What does the word ‘Attention’ mean, anyhow?” Ikkyu gently responded, “Attention means attention.” —Zen story
34. Any universe simple enough to be understood is too simple to produce a mind capable of understanding it. —John D Barrow
35. Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence. —Robert Fripp
36. There are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil. —Alfred North Whitehead.
37. Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters. —Norman Maclean
38. It’s hard to know when to respond to the seductiveness of the world and when to respond to its challenge. If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I rise in the morning torn between the desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day. —E.B. White
39. God reveals himself by veiling himself and veils himself by revealing himself. —Suhrawardi
40. Nothingness is being, and being is nothingness. —Azriel of Gerona
41. Form is void, and the Void is form. —Prajna Paramita Hridaya Sutra
42. People like us, who believe in physics, know the distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. —Albert Einstein
42. The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community. —William James, from an 1878 critique of Herbert Spencer
43. Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in a lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love. —Reinhold Niebuhr
44 . . . [V]oidness does not mean nothingness, but rather that all things lack intrinsic reality, intrinsic objectivity, intrinsic identity or intrinsic referentiality. Lacking such static essence or substance does not make them not exist — it makes them thoroughly relative. —Robert F. Thurman
45. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. —Martin Luther King Jr.,
46. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. —1 Corinthians 12:25
46a.To be hopeful in bad times is not ... foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacri?ce, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magni?cently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an in?nite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in de?ance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. —Howard Zinn
47. Remove duality and do away with all disputes;
49. The doctrine is compassion.
50. “Language disguises thought.” —Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
51. Awe is the salve that will heal our eyes. —Rumi
48a. Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
48b. All the world's a stage,
48c. To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
50. Follow, poet, follow right
With the farming of a verse
In the deserts of the heart
“So, while those who were called Papists ate God
but not bread, the Lutherans ate both bread and God. Soon after there came
the Calvinists who ate bread and did not eat God.” 102 --Essai sur l’histoire,
and is quoted by A. J. Ayer in his Voltaire (N.Y.: Random House, 1986).
VERN IS QUOTED:
a. The purpose of a Vital Conversation is not to win an argument, but to win a friend and advance civilization.
b. For enlightenment may be the freedom of knowing there is no enlightenment to seek. Enlightenment is knowing there is no Enlightenment.
c. Spirituality is what energizes us with significance.
Some Googling . . . . gives sites such as these including Vern Barnet:
Some Points of Personal
and Intellectual Development
(notes toward a proper draft)
1942 May 25 born Clarkson
Hospital, Omaha, with no name on birth certificate
1957? read Tom Paine's Age of Reason and Bertrand Russell's "Why I am Not a Christian."
1960 graduated from Omaha South High School
1960 summer US Naval Reserves, Active Duty for Training
1960 joined Omaha First Unitarian Church
1963? studied with Oets Kolk Bouwsma who had worked with Ludwig Wittgenstein, University of Nebraska
1965 graduate study with Chang Chen-Chi, visiting University of Nebraska from Penn State
1967 studied with Mircea Eliade and became next-door neighbor (he came to wedding)
Institute of Cultural Affairs
1970 met Huston Smith for first time, led to numerous exchanges including taking Smith to parents' graves in 2005
studied with Joseph Campbell in Santa Barbara
1970 awarded Doctor of Ministry degree with 500-page dissertation, "
1970 interim minister, Unitarian Church, Rockford IL
1971 Europe: Italy, Germany, France, Holland, England
1971 minister, Independent Congregation (Unitarian) Church, moved to 278 DeVore Dr, Meadville, PA
1975 Asia: Japan, China(Taiwan), Thailand, India, Nepal
1975 minister, Shawnee Mission Unitarian Society, moved to 6421 W 8 Terr, Overland Park, KS 66204
1979 concluded dispute with KU over "Integrated Humanities Program"
1980 read Godel Escher Bach for the first time
1981 Feb 8 adoption of Brad Benjamin Blake Barnet completed.
1982 founded CRES
1983 had lunch with Douglas Hofstadter at KU
1984 Japan (IARF etc)
1984 first issue of CRES newsletter, then called "The Release."
1985 becomes CRES Minister in Residence
1986 "Islam and the Muslim World" with International Relations Council
1986 India (Pandurang Athevale)
1986 Thanksgiving Sunday Ritual Meal with 10 faiths represented (Islam, Sikhism, Judaism, Paganism, Hinduism, Baha'i, Buddhism, Jainism, Sufism, Christianity
1987 IARF - Stanford Univ
1987 Japan, Korea
1989 May organized Kanas City Interfaith Council
1990? selected for Kansas City Tomorrow leadership training program of the Civic Council, Class 12
1991 met Loki
1993 Feb 8 Wyandotte House Joint Venture formed
1993 Feb 15 Wyandotte House Joint Venture, with Vern and resident manager, purchases 3948 Wyandotte for $21,300.
1993 named Director Emeritus, Center for All Men (CAM)
1994 December - traveled in Spain, esp "Andulusia"
1995 Jan 6 Deed of Trust for 3948 Wyandotte arranged for $35,000
1997 Egypt, Jordan (Saudi Arabia)
2005 Turkey, Holland
2006 Rabies treatment (bite before Apr 15)
2009 Aug 17 Mortgage paid off
2010 Apr 4 started attending GHTC regularly
2011 Apr 23 Easter Vigil Baptism
between 1970-75? studied Islam with Jane Smith (Iliff/Harvard)
before 1985 Mexico, Peru, Honduras, Belize (Columbia), Panama
Heart to Heart
By Christine Robinson and Alica Hawkins
Journey Into Oneness
By Paul Goldman
The A to Z of Unitarian Universalism
By Mark W. Harris