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SBS-Interfaith Conversation Cafe Meetup XI: "Scrooge! Right or Wrong?"

Secular Bible Study has caught the attention of the St. Paul Interfaith Network (SPIN) -- and we're talking!


Secular Bible Study-Interfaith Conversation Cafe Meetup XI:

"Scrooge! Right or Wrong?"

Time & Place: Monday, Dec 16, 6:45-8:45 PM, St. Paul Area Council of Churches HQ, 1671 Summit Ave, St. Paul, MN 55105

St. Paul Interfaith Network (SPIN) is again inviting the atheists, UUers, and theists of Secular Bible Study to have a joint meetup with their "interfaith dialogue" group -- SPIN's "Interfaith Conversation Cafe" (ICC), which is co-hosted by none other than our own long-time SBS member, Steve Miller.

In our last meetup, we voted to discuss the topic, "Is Democracy Real?" So what will be the topic that we nominate and vote to discuss this month? Attend and choose! But we'll be suggesting participants consider a dialogue around the theme of (compassionate?) conservatism vs. the Christmas spirit, "Scrooge! Right or Wrong?"

In the words of our co-host, SBS and ICC member Steve Miller:

"Scrooge! Right or Wrong? As we enter the holiday season, we consider the poor and unfortunate. Do our faiths or philosophies give an answer? Ebenezer Scrooge relying on a government with not much safety net asked, "Are there no prisons? Are there no work houses?" After a visit by apparitions (or possibly the ill effects of a lump of undigested gruel, as he first surmised), the old miser even let his employee take Christmas off!"

"Which Scrooge are we? Are the poor an affliction  to society or a chance to prove our benevolence? Is poverty only material or does the phrase poor in spirit have real meaning? Do governmental programs or private charity offer the best path? Is the social safety net an entitlement owed the less fortunate left behind in the competition for jobs and wealth? Or are they lucky to get what is given them? Are many of us one job, one spouse, or just one paycheck away from joining the poor? Was Mother Teresa right when she claimed the poor are a blessing to us and a chance to redeem our own lives, and the Muslims right when they donate a percentage of income in alms? Or did Gordon Gecko know the truth when he argued that 'greed is good,' and did Ayn Rand hit the mark when she saw government aid and income equalization as the 'source of all evil?'"

As we plan our shopping expeditions for the Holiday season (why, exactly, do we shop for presents so much at Christmas -- is it our generosity, or is it due to another motive force?), these thoughts and others will be offered, as the monthly joint meeting of Interfaith Conversation Cafe & Secular Bible Study tackles issues of poverty and our proper reaction to it, on the Third Monday of the month, December 16, from 7-8:45 PM. The location is the St. Paul Area Council of Churches, 1671 Summit Avenue (corner of Summit & Pierce) in St. Paul. Treats are provided, and all are welcome -- both theist and atheist, and both conservative and liberal -- for our reasoning dialogue guided by the principles of acceptance, discovery, curiosity, sincerity, brevity, and confidentiality.

All participants will be encouraged to ask their own questions and bring their own perspectives. As always the greatest resource of Interfaith Conversation Cafe and Secular Bible Study are the experiences and insights of those who come.

Don't miss this Joint ICC-SBS Meetup on the theme of "Scrooge! Right or Wrong?" -- RSVP "YES" today, and make your thoughts known -- to all!



Q: What is the joint ICC-SBS Meetup all about?

A: According to their website (,  ICC is "an interfaith dialogue focused on questions of faith as they affect our world. Open, facilitated conversations address topics of faith and society - by listening and questioning with curiosity, discovery and sincerity."

Q: Why should SBS jointly meetup with ICC?

A: One of our original purposes according to our co-founders Chester Barber & Grant Steves, and our co-sponsors, the Methodist church, Minnesota Atheists, and The Circle of Reason, is to encourage local "interfaith groups" to become more inclusive in inviting atheists and secular humanists into their dialogue -- so this is our chance!

Q: How does this joint Meetup work?

A: This joint ICC-SBS Meetup will be a little different than SBS's usual style:  Rather than have a lecture followed by discussion, we'll follow ICC's  "Socrates Cafe"-style of choosing a popular topic for discussion that same evening. Also, in the first round we pass a "talking object" and timer, and sit in a circle, to facilitate dialogue (and minimize yelling!), with SBS-like, back-and-forth dialogue held for the second go-round. But with folks like Steve Miller hosting, we've had no dearth of informed, thoughtful conversation about our topic of majority interest.

Q: Uh, is there any FOOD?

A: There will also be snacks available, as well as coffee/tea (but bring your own mug) -- an expenses-defraying donation jar will be out, but Frank Burton will be putting in some cash for us SBS attendees.

Q: Where do we meetup?

A: This joint Meetup will NOT be held at First Universalist Church, but at St. Paul Area Council of Churches (SPACC)'s St. Paul meeting room facility on Summit Ave, 2 blocks west of Snelling or 10 blocks east of the Mississippi River,  on the north side of Summit Ave., opposite Macalester College (see map link). Conversation begins promptly at 7:00 pm; doors are open at 6:30 pm. This month we'll start staying an extra 15 minutes, until 8:45pm, to allow more discussion, and if enough folks show up (14+) we may vote to break into two groups to allow us to speak longer.

Q: Why should I attend?

A: To change the world, of course!  "Interfaith" has for too long been a club to which atheists or humanists weren't welcome. No more! So come on over to Summit Ave. to see what the "new interfaith/transbelief dialogue" is all about! Join us for SPIN's and SBS's first "mutual outreach" between the interfaith & secular communities, to dialogue on issues of religion and society!

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  • Tom

    Put me down as a maybe. I may have committed to another thing earlier. Hope to see you All!

    December 15, 2013

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