Joint SBS-Interfaith Conversation Cafe Meetup 14: "Are We Our Ancestors?"

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 14:

"'Are We Our Ancestors?"

Alley graffiti, August 23, 79 C.E., City of Pompei, Roman Empire


Time & Place: Monday, March 17, 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, "All You Need Is Love?" So what will be the topic that we nominate and vote to discuss this month? Attend and choose! But we suggest participants consider a dialogue around the "St. Paddy's Day" theme of "Are We Our Ancestors?"

(Wear green!)

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

"On St. Patrick's Day everyone is said to be Irish. Are we just plain Americans the rest of the year? Or do our different national and ethnic backgrounds create division? Is a Swedish Lutheran the same as a Polish Catholic? Are we indeed a 'Nation of Immigrants' -- except for the Native Americans present when our first ancestors landed? Is America indeed the 'Chosen Land' -- except for the millions of African-Americans brought here in chains, or the nearly one million forced to our shore by the Irish Potato Famine?

Steve continues, "We may have romantic or staid notions about our forefathers; but how many of them were actually religious dissidents, political malcontents, economic refugees, criminals, or draft dodgers? Would any of them be issued a visa today? Does 'American Exceptionalism' just assert that 'We're Number One!' or that all of us are exceptions to some rule? How much of our communal  faith, or our individualistic rejection of it, is our inheritance? Do we still enter the churches of our long-ago great-great grandparents, or follow in their ancestral footsteps by disavowing or denouncing their religious heritage?"

Steve concludes by asking, "The national motto, 'E Pluribus Unum,' means 'Out of many, one.' But how much oneness do we feel with those who dress, talk and think differently from us -- both today and in the past? Are we all dissolved in the 'Great Melting Pot,' or have Americans always been lumps of undigested gristle? "

Finally, are we determined by our genetic or cultural inheritance to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors, and destined to bestow those mistakes to our future descendants?

Join us on Monday, March 17 (St. Patrick's Day!) from 7-8:45 PM at the St. Paul Area Council of Churches, 1671 Summit Avenue (corner of Summit and Pierce) in St.Paul to discuss where we came from and what our heritage may tell us about where we are going. The principles of open mindedness, acceptance, discovery, sincerity, curiosity, and brevity will guide a conversation which seeks to bring light and as little heat as possible to our topic. All are welcome no matter who your ancestors are. Treats will be provided (sorry, no green beer!).

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 "'Are We Our Ancestors?"  RSVP "YES" today, channel your ancestors, 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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  • Steve M.

    For those interested in the Didier Seminar featuring Dr. Amy-Jill Levine on Jesus, Judaism, and Christianity, it goes from March 28-30. The Friday night event is at Mt. Zion Temple, 1300 Summit Ave., St. Paul starting at 7:30 PM. The topic is What Christians and Jews Should Know About Jesus.
    On Saturday from 9 AM-2:30 PM there will be three talks and lunch at House of Hope Presbyterian Church, 797 Summit Avenue, St. Paul. There is a $10 fee for Saturday. If you want lunch, a reservation is required by Wed. March 26. Call[masked] or email [masked].
    The seminar concludes at 10 AM on Sunday with a joint presentation by Dr. Levine and Rabbi Adam Spilker on The Parable of the Good Samaritan as a Jewish Story.
    The House of Hope web site has more details.

    March 18, 2014

  • Frank B.

    Glad to see some of us were keeping some lessons, while discarding others, given to us by our grandparents; but sad to learn that some of us were never able to sit at the feet of their grandparents at all.

    March 17, 2014

14 went

  • Steve M. +8
    Event Host
  • Frank B. +1
    Meetup Webmaster, SBS Organizing Committee Member, Organizer
  • Ken M.
    SBS Organizing Committee Member, Co-Organizer

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