CRES draws upon the world's religious traditions, ancient and modern, and upon contemporary liberation movements.
This multifaith emphasis respects the perspectives of both doubter and believer.
In that context, we offer these and other services.
Sample program descriptions.
instructor is the Rev Vern Barnet, DMn, known to many in Kansas City through
his Wednesday "Faiths and Beliefs" column in The Kansas City Star.
He founded the KC Interfaith Council in 1989 and does interfaith work through
his organization, CRES.
He has taught world religions at Ottawa University, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Saint Paul School of Theology, Avilia University, and elsewhere.
He is a frequent lecturer in area churches and has received honors from Jewish, Christian, Sikh, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and civic organizations.
"He who knows one religion knows none," it has been said. So to better understand our own faith journey, we examine the world's religions as they ask and answer the key question, "What gives meaning to your life?" By comparing and contrasting the various traditions, our own paths may be deepened and enriched.
1: Pieces or Pattern? -- Three Sacred Dimensions
The confusing details of the world's faiths can fit into a rough and ready scheme which suggests wisdom for our environmental, personal, and social troubles. By asking of each faith, "Where do you go to find ultimate meaning?" we may find a pattern helpful for our own lives.
2 Primal Faiths -- The Sacred in Nature
Ancient and still-living traditions have honored and ceremonialized the world in which humans participate, rather than seeking to change it. From ancient Egyptians to American Indians, meaning emerges from the order in nature.
3 Asian Faiths -- The Sacred in Personhood
The great religions of India and China, with techniques such as yoga and meditation, delved deeply into personal spiritual development. Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism present "therapies" to recover from the trance of selfishness.
4 Monotheistic Faiths -- The Sacred in
The Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (and other monotheistic religions) find revealed in the history of covenanted community a power moving toward justice. This involves a critical view of society and a duty to improve it.
5 Comparative Methods
and Questions -- The Sacred in Mutual Encounter
What effects can mutual encounter among the faiths have on each of them? What various attitudes do folks bring to religions other than their own? And how can we as individuals and a community apply the wisdom of the various faiths to solve the problems that afflict our age?
Lectures on Individual Religions
a. Hinduism.-- Hindu terms like yoga, reincarnation,
and karma are now popular in the West, but what have they meant in the
long and varied history of India? Was Hinduism "invented" by the British?
How did the ancient tradition change from being a "nature" religion to
become a "psychological" faith? How did their faith shape Gandhi and other
modern Hindu leaders? This interactive lecture deals with the history,
art, scripture, theologies, and modern character of the world's third largest
This survey of Muslim, Buddhist, Confucian, and Sikh figures presents their lives and insights for their times and ours. They are not dusty figures in history but speak to us today about the issues that perplex us.
1. Muhammad: Why He is Loved. How do we align ourselves with a power moving in history toward justice? -- In the life of Muhammad is the discovery of a transcendent Power which makes society work.
2. The Buddha: The Guy Who Woke Up. Why is there suffering and what can be done about it? -- In the life of the Buddha there is compassion and the wisdom to free ourselves from the trance that keeps us from seeing reality as it is.
3. Confucius: Say What? How can society be ordered for peace and prosperity? -- In the life of Confucius the argument between the Legalists and the Idealists found resolution.
4. Guru Nanak: An Accountant's Truth. Do the differences in religion really matter? In the life of the first Sikh Guru mysticism and monotheism were joined.
Spirituality arises from experiences of the Holy as we seek to understand, honor and share them. This class includes readings from many sources and practical exercises for learning.
Week 1: What is spirituality? Learn how and why others have answered and develop your own response.
Week 2: What is the holy and how do I find it? Bring a “sacred” object to class, an object that has special significance to your personally because it reminds you of an important occasion, power, connection, relationship, peak experience or way of understanding.
Week 3: Looking for the holy: What is a pilgrimage? What is a ritual? Bring to class a chart, map, or diagram of your life’s spiritual journey. What are the steppingstones and the milestones? The guideposts? The crucial crossings, the detours, the retracings? The heights and depths? In what directions have you aimed?
Week 4: Talking about the holy: How do stories and scriptures reveal their messages? Prepare to tell the class a story that reveals a spiritual meaning for you (Cinderella, the Tortoise and the Hare, Davey Crockett, Oedipus Rex, Star Wars, the Prodigal Son, Spider Woman, Hercules, etc).
Week 5: Understanding the unholy: What is the source of evil? Why is there so much suffering? What does death mean? Describe the greatest evil, injustice or suffering you know about personally.
Week 6: What is the nature of holy love? What is the spiritual dimension of sexuality? Write a personal ad to attract or keep your ideal mate.
Week 7: What is the nature of God or the
gods, if any? How do we know? What is our life purpose? What is the destiny
of the human race? Prepare your obituary or write your funeral or memorial