Secular Bible Study has caught the attention of the St. Paul Interfaith Network (SPIN) -- and we're talking!
(And even more important, SPIN's "Interfaith Conversation Cafe" has been listening! After this event, ICC wants to hear from secular members of SBS, and then will vote whether to update its name to "Interbelief Conversation Cafe," to make its name welcoming to those whose moral, cultural, & political beliefs aren't accompanied by religious faith. If ICC votes to do this, it will be the first interfaith group in the nation to take this important step toward institutional inclusiveness! So ICC wants to know what our secular SBS members think!)
OUR JOINT ICC-SBS MEETUP 15's TOPIC FOR THE THIRD MONDAY IN APRIL 2014:
"What Part of I'M RIGHT Escapes You?"
Time & Place: Monday, April 21, 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, "Are We Our Ancestors?" 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 theme of open-mindedness vs. certainty, "What Part of I'M RIGHT Escapes You?"
Steve says, about this topic:
"How do we respectfully share and even promote our beliefs and philosophies? Does the religious viewpoint sound to non-theists and more liberal believers like, 'My way is God's way; your way is Hell's highway?' Does their response sound to Bible literalists and fundamentalists like, 'I'm rational; you're a superstitious idiot?' Can individuals share and discuss, with good will, their true feelings about what shapes their lives?"
"Christianity has a 'Great Commission"'to share their Gospel with humanity. Other religions have similar obligations to proselytize, while others are more a religious ethnicity or personal way of life. Britain's Richard Dawkins (author of 'The God Delusion') and American Atheists sponsor ads promoting atheism. Do we appreciate people knocking on our door to "witness" a faith or a secular cause?"
"As the Christian celebration of Easter ends and the Baha'i celebration of Ridvan begins, we turn to how to react to promotion of religious and secular views. This may be a challenging topic with some possibility of emotionally-triggering statements. Our meetup's only proselytizing is for open-mindedness, acceptance, discovery, curiosity, sincerity, and brevity -- and of course confidentiality and the right to 'take a pass' from the conversation. We keep in mind that any exchange that ends with, ''I'll pray for you,' on the one hand and, 'Whatever!', on the other is unlikely to be productive."
Our Joint ICC-SBS Meetup location is the St. Paul Area Council of Churches, 1671 Summit Avenue (corner of Summit and Pierce) in St. Paul. Treats are available, no matter what belief system or lack thereof you have! And, of course, all are welcome to our dialogue."
All participants will be encouraged to ask their own questions and bring their own perspectives. As always the greatest resource of Interfaith (soon to become Interbelief?) Conversation Cafe and Secular Bible Study are the experiences and insights of those who come.
Join us on Monday, April 21 from 7:00-8:45 PM in St.Paul to discuss dogma, certainty, open-mindedness, and exclusion vs. inclusion!.
But Wait! We're Not Done!
The Joint ICC-SBS discussion will begin promptly at 7 PM on Monday, April 21 and end at 8:45PM. But afterward, from 8:45 to 9:00PM, we will discuss -- and Interfaith Conversation Cafe will vote on -- changing its name to "Interbelief Conversation Cafe." Why?
Interfaith Conversation Cafe's facilitators and sponsors want to emphasize that ICC has NOT required faith, belief, or certainty from its participants. Even from its inception as an interfaith group, some ICC participants have had strong views on religion or belief while some said "I don't know," or "I consider myself a searcher for the truth." The value of the Interfaith Conversation Cafe was that all have been welcome, and have been asked only express themselves honestly with respect for the views of others who come from a different place.
But ICC has become increasing aware of the exclusion felt by people in the atheist/secular community in response to the word "interfaith," and of the overt exclusion of secular participation by some remaining interfaith organizations.
Consequently, ICC is now proposing to better concretize its group's welcome to all people, of faith and no faith -- by altering its name: We will use this joint meetup to discuss Interfaith Conversation Cafe henceforward changing its name, to "Interbelief Conversation Cafe."
The Co-organizers of Secular Bible Study request our secular members of SBS please consider attending this joint meetup to voice their community's opinion about this proposal. SBS also will request that ICC members afterwards vote whether they want to take this major step in institutionalizing their outreach to SBS and the secular community. (We interbelief/transbelief dialoguers of SBS should not force ICC to take that step -- its is theirs alone to decide.)
Please attend to make your view known, as ICC decides whether to become the first known interfaith group in the U.S. to remove the exclusionary word "interfaith" from its name and replace it with a more inclusive word, "interbelief." With its new name, ICC would hope to place a permanent capstone on what it has built -- having grown from a group where religious people discuss their different faiths, to one where all people discuss their different religious, moral, cultural and political beliefs.
Don't miss our Joint ICC-SBS Meetup on the theme of "What Part of I'M RIGHT Escapes You?" and our historical discussion on changing ICC's name to better welcome the non-faith community! RSVP "YES" today, and change a little slice of "interfaith" history!
[SBS Members may also make their thoughts known to ICC through this SBS Meetup website's online-menu Discussion/Message Board topic, "ICC Name Change From Interfaith to Interbelief Conversation Cafe." Voice your opinion NOW about whether ICC's proposed "Interbelief" name change is an adequately acceptable one to be inviting to the secular community!]
Q: What is the joint ICC-SBS Meetup all about?
A: According to their website (www.conversationcafe.org (http://www.interfaithconversationcafe.org)), 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!
Go to Attendee List