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Joint Inter-Belief Conversation Cafe-SBS Meetup 18: The Ten Suggestions?

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


                      "THE TEN SUGGESTIONS?



Time & Place: Monday, July 21, 7:00-8:45 PM (doors open at 6:30PM), 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 SPIN's newly renamed "Inter-Belief Conversation Cafe" (ICC), which is co-hosted by none other than our own long-time SBS member, Steve Miller.

In our last meetup, we discussed the topic of how we each define "God."  THIS MONTH, we'll be discussing whether we, as theists or atheists, can dump the "rules" in our historical worldviews yet still affiliate with our traditions: As theists, are our big rules indeed just "The Ten Suggestions?"  As atheists, must we also be rational, ethical or progressive?

Steve Miller says, about our dialogue topic:

"Can we actually live with our worldviews? Religions and other ethical systems usually have a set of rules which should be followed. But in a less than ideal world, how likely is this? Are we failures if not perfect? If we give ourselves "wiggle room," are we being realistic or kidding ourselves?"

"Equally troubling, do all the sources of rules (whether religious or secular) avoid contradiction? Can we claim to be rationalists when reason is so tied to emotion that we may emote before we really think? How do Commandments such as 'Thou shalt not murder' reconcile with all those Canaanites Joshua and his followers killed? How do the words of the Qu'ran, 'There shall be no compulsion in religion,' equate with death sentences for 'apostasy' against middle east Christians?"

"And if secularists follow the same rules of rational ethics, why do some work hand-in-hand with religious progressives but others with conservative religious Tea Party members?"

"If we try to make our worldview livable by gliding over a few commandments (613, according to some), are we really true to our principles? Is it OK for an atheist to send and receive Christmas cards? How consistent can we be and not push others away? Can't we just be complacent and not deal with doubt? Can we live without our inner atheist or inner theist (as the case may be) nagging at us? Why can't this stuff be simple, or is it simple but we just don't want to face it?"

Join Inter-belief Conversation Cafe and Secular Bible Study on Monday, July 21, 7:00-8:45 PM, at the St. Paul Area Council of Churches, 1671 Summit Avenue (corner of Summit & Pierce), St. Paul, as we attempt to address these questions. Out only "commandments" will be open-mindedness, acceptance, discovery, curiosity, sincerity, and brevity. Answers are not guaranteed, but treats will be provided. All participants will be encouraged to bring their own questions and their own perspectives. As always the greatest resource of Inter-Belief Conversation Cafe and Secular Bible Study are the experiences and insights of those who come.

RSVP today, to help us ask, "Are The Ten Commandments are really etched in stone? And is the secular community similarly hammering us a new set of immutable rules?" And, to re-emphasize Rodney King, "Why can't we all just get along?"



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

A: ICC is an open, facilitated interbelief dialogue between those with different religious beliefs or non-religious ethics beliefs, addressing questions of religion and ethics as they affect our society and our world -- by listening and questioning with curiosity, discovery and sincerity. In response to holding joint meetups with the atheists+theists of SBS, ICC in 2014 became the first "interfaith" group in the U.S. to expand into an "interbelief" group, codifying its welcoming both those with religious beliefs, and atheists & humanists with no religious faith but with ethics beliefs.

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 --  this joint ICC-SBS Meetup is how we did it, and how we seek to further expand religious-secular dialogue!

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, the joint SBS-ICC meetup is all dialogue, around a topic pre-chosen at the end of the prior Meetup. Also, in the first round we pass a "talking object" and timer, and sit in a circle, to facilitate a "Respectful Conversations"-format dialogue (no yelling!), with SBS-like, back-and-forth dialogue held in the third go-round. 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" groups for too long have been a club to which atheists or humanists weren't welcome. No more! So come on over to Summit Ave. to see what ICC's "new interbelief outreach" is all about! Join us for SPIN's and SBS's first "mutual outreach" between the religious & secular communities, to dialogue on issues of religious or ethical beliefs and society!

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  • Frank B.

    Glad it went well (or lively-ly!) and sorry I had to miss it. -- Best, Frank

    July 24, 2014

  • Steve M.

    It was a lively meeting with 16 attendees. Thanks to Beth, Lucy, Joe, Jim, Ken, Darrell, Claire, Lee, Gina, Julie, Matt, Bruce, Jeff, Barry, and Ava for their participation and contributions. Best wishes to Frank who could not attend for family reasons. Next month we ask, "Is reason compatible with religion?"

    July 22, 2014

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