SBS-Interfaith Conversation Cafe Meetup XII: "'Change!'­ But At What Cost?"

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 XII:

"'Change!' But At What Cost?"

Time & Place: Monday, Jan 20, 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 theists, atheists, liberals and conservatives 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, "Scrooge! Right or Wrong?" So what will be the topic that we nominate and vote to discuss this month? Attend and choose! But we've "resolved" this New Year to suggest participants consider a dialogue around the "January" theme of "Change! But At What Cost?"

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

"With the New Year come resolutions of self-improvement. But how much do we really want to change? All of us have experienced change in our lives. We may not be the individuals we were before events forced choices and transformations we may celebrate or regret--or perhaps both. What would we do over? What do we wish we still had? Have we received wisdom or pain?"

Concerning "change" in politics, Steve adds, "Our celebration of Martin Luther King Day, and the recent passing of Nelson Mandela, remind us of the possibility of ending a seemingly invulnerable system of oppression. But why so long, and why did so many die to make this happen? Why do events like the fall of the Iron Curtain and the Arab Spring bring ambiguous results and new problems? Are all changes for the better?"

Concerning "societal" change, Steve asks us, "Do changes in societal attitudes which lead to same sex marriage and secularization improve us, or alienate us by rejecting long held values?"

Concerning technological change, Steve asks us to consider, "In the '70s, Alvin Toffler wrote of 'Future Shock,' describing the dilemma of a world changing faster and faster. And that was 40 years ago! Do we live in an age of progress, or are our technology and its economic benefits destroying the environment and making us loners cut off from real (as opposed to virtual) human contact?"

"Ultimately," Steve asks us to consider, "can we have timely beneficial change without bloodshed and anomie?"

These questions about personal and societal change will be considered as Interfaith Conversation Cafe discusses "change," and what it can mean, on Monday, January 20 from 7-8:45 PM at the St. Paul Area Council of Churches, 1671 Summit Avenue (corner of Summit and Pierce), in St. Paul.

Treats will be provided, and everyone (religious or secular, liberal or conservative) is welcome for our reasoning dialogue guided by the principles of acceptance, discovery, brevity, curiosity, sincerity, 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 "'Change!' At What Cost?" -- 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!

Join or login to comment.

  • Natalie V

    Well led discussion and format. I was impressed with the thoughtfulness of the group.

    January 21, 2014

  • Steve M.

    I was impressed by the open sharing of personal experiences by so many of the participants. There was a lot of thoughtful discussion.

    January 21, 2014

  • Frank B.

    Many different perspectives, both theist and atheist, on whether social change is real, illusory, superficial, or driven by technology (whether good or bad). Thanks all!

    1 · January 20, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Back from Cali, see you all Mon. Chuck Petersen!

    1 · January 18, 2014

  • Frank B.

    We're baaack! Hope you can join us in chilly January for a warm-hearted look at "'Change!' But At What Cost?"!

    January 7, 2014

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