Samir Selmanovic - author of the book "It's Really All About God," and leader of inter-faith dialog and community at Faith House Manhattan - will be visiting the Central Ohio Emergent Cohort.
The event is from 2-4:30pm at the Ohio Union, in the MultiCultural Meeting Center Room. As you enter the first floor the Union from High St., the Information desk is on your left. The MultiCultural Meeting Center room is nearby the information desk, on the first floor. There are several parking garages nearby.
We have worked really hard to make this a free event so anyone can drop by and hear from this inspiring author. However, we will be taking a collection to help offset the speaking fee and travel costs for Samir.
If you want to learn more about Samir's work, visit his website, or read some of our older blog posts here.
Again, this is going to be a very exciting event, a chance to hear from a fantastic speaker in a small environment, to ask questions and join in conversation, and to hear about the exciting things happening in InterFaith conversation and action around the world.
Hope to see you there!!
This Tuesday night (Sept. 28th), 7:00pm we'll be hanging out at Nick's house. We'll order pizza, maybe smoke some cigars, play some Xbox, drink a few beers, and try to play a good game of poker.
All guys are welcome to join - even if you aren't a good poker player (none of us are!!) Also, we haven't determined the "buy in" or anything, so don't worry if you are low on cash. We'll pay for the pizza, and spot you in the poker game. The main point is just to hang out.
If you need directions, or more info, you can text/call Jesse at 614-557-5768
This Sunday, September 26th, we will have an open discussion at the Global Gallery cafe in Clintonville (our usual public meeting spot). We will meet from 3-5pm, and discuss some more aspects of Samir Selmanovic's book "It's Really All About God," as well as some details about the event coming up Oct. 3rd.
Everyone is welcome to join in on the discussion, even if it is your first time attending the group. We'd love to see you there!
Feel free to post questions in the "comments" section of this post, or email email@example.com
Sunday night, September 19th, from 6:30-8:30pm, Jesse & Kellye's house in Grove City.
Community night is when we give everyone a chance to share and give an update about life. In response, the group offers affirmation, encouragement and love. This week, we'll have an outdoor fire, roast hot dogs, have side dishes, and do marshmallows and s'mores.
Everyone is welcome. This is a great night to hang out and get to know everyone, even if it's your first time visiting. If you have any questions, call Jesse at 614-557-5768, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
In light of our awesome discussion on Sunday, I want to pass along this newsletter from DF in B'ham. Greg Newton comments on how the journey that the community has travelled allows them to share goodness with others. I like this paragraph:
"God has taught us to not judge one another, but to respect others who follow their own conscience. We do not impose our convictions to achieve unity, nor do we lack convictions. We’ve learned that the Spirit’s work of unity allows us to be together despite what is humanly irreconcilable."
The rest of the letter can be found at the bottom of this post.
For me, a good question remains: How does this attitude stretch beyond others who follow Jesus? Sure, there will be differences between those who claim Jesus. And it is foreseeable that these differences can be overcome and that the Spirit can work toward unity. But what does unity look like with those who have a completely different paradigm that does not involve Jesus?
love to all,
The entire newsletter from Greg Newton at Disciples Fellowship in Birmingham, AL:
Being in a “good place” as a community gives us something valuable to share. Before the Gospel can be shared, it must be lived and experienced. If Jesus was right (and he was) about being known for a God-emulating love for one another, then that love has to be lived and practiced before there is the possibility of sharing any good news.
As I’ve bee saying recently, I believe we been brought by God to a good place from which we can authentically speak about the love of God, not only his for us, but as the love which we strive to have for one another . . . and the whole world. Our acceptance of one another is a result of God’s love. Our desire to be transformed from who any of us are so we may become more like Christ, is also a result of God’s love.
On our long journey to this place we have left faith in our own obedience to God’s commands, for faith in the obedience of Jesus. Faith is no longer possessing all the correct doctrinal positions on a set of questions, but is trusting in God to do what we cannot do for ourselves. Worship is no longer a time set apart to correctly carry out a set of instructions so God will be pleased, but a time to engage in a transforming focus on God, which then sets the context for how that worship is continued through all the activities of our week.
God has taught us to not judge one another, but to respect others who follow their own conscience. We do not impose our convictions to achieve unity, nor do we lack convictions. We’ve learned that the Spirit’s work of unity allows us to be together despite what is humanly irreconcilable.
Through God’s work we’ve been able to lay down the doctrinal and spiritual baggage that we had acquired and may now help others to do the same. We’ve lived enough of the Gospel to know what it means to speak about God’s goodness, and to invite others to taste and see that God is good. We confess that we are only beginning to live out God’s love. Even so, the potential of this gift of love is tremendous . . . goodness to be shared.
Besides the abbot there are six or seven other monks that stay there and work and observe the different prayers throughout the day. We've arranged to stay with them from monday December 13th through wednesday December 15th, dates which are designed to be after the OSU quarter but still well before Christmas (apologies if these dates aren't so good for you!).
Although the Abbot may give a talk once or twice, the retreat won't be officially led by the monastery, i.e., we'll have the freedom to set our own agenda for free time and discussion so long as we pause to attend the prayers. If you're interested to come and you haven't already told me, please send me an e-mail at email@example.com. There's no set cost -- just a donation of whatever you can or feel led to pay.
Discussion about Samir Selmanovic's book, "It's Really All About God" (see previous posts for some introductory ideas).
If you haven't read the book (or even heard of it!) that's OK. We will most likely read a chapter, or short sections, together. It's easy to read and understand, and brings up some great questions for us to consider together.
As always, everyone is welcome. First time visitors or long time friends. Hope to see you there.
Here are some videos to introduce you to Samir's book:
By far, the most compelling chapters of "It's Really All about God: Reflections of a Muslim Atheist Jewish Christian" are the Prologue and the Epilogue. In the intro, Selmanovic grabbed my attention and piqued my interest with the story of a Wiccan woman praying for evangelical pastors, a selection from the Sufi poet Rumi, and challenging questions like, "Is a God who favors anyone over anyone else worth worshiping?"
At first, it seems that Selmanovic is preparing to deliver a comprehensive theology of religious pluralism. He states that,
"the presence of the other in all its beauty, fragility, dignity, and need is demanding our answers. If God created all humanity but gave life-giving knowledge - usually referred to as 'revelation' - to only some of humanity, could God in any meaningful sense be though of as the One God and not only as a god?...To say that God has decided to visit all humanity through only one particular religion is a deeply unsatisfying assertion about God." (pg. 9)But even in the prologue, the author quickly moves away from an academic approach and instead invites the reader to ponder his "reflections" (as the subtitle of the book says). He offers many questions, ideas and snippets to challenge the reader to seriously consider his premise: "For religion to recapture human imagination, the theology and practice of finding God in the other will have to move from the outskirts of our religious experience to its center. The heart of a religion that will bless the world is going to beat at its edges." (pg 13)
It is literary images like this last one - "the heart of a religion beating at the edges" - that are, at first easy to read, but jar the reader enough to go back and read them again, wondering about the significance of such an idea. Throughout the book, Selmanovic has the gift of putting into words the back-of-the-mind and deep-in-the-heart intuitions that many believers share, but have a hard time expressing (for one reason or another).
As previously stated, this is not an academic book. The typeface is large and generously spaced, and most pages have text boxes with short selections from the chapter. Most chapters begin with a personal story from the author's childhood or background in Yugoslavia. Initially, I was surprised and bit frustrated to have to read through these anecdotal accounts. I wanted more content and less fluff. But eventually I realized that the writing approach was intended to demonstrate several key points of the book.
First, the author successfully shows that he came as an outsider to Christianity and even religion at all. The stories of his family disowning him because of his faith and literally kicking him out of their home successfully provide a sort of "street credibility" to his later pronouncements about religious life. He can talk about "the other" because he has been "an other" in more ways than one. In a world often filled more with speculation than actual life experiences, I began to appreciate these stories because they made me realize that the author is not only offering a way to live that could be better, but he has actually lived this way for most of his life and now is sharing his experiences.
Second, by including personal stories in each chapter, another key point is subtly underlined again and again: This theology of "finding God in the other" can only be a reality in as much as it comes to life every day in each of us. It cannot be theoretical, it must be experiential. The personal stories of the author are a continual invitation to the reader to realize that my everyday life is also an experience of "finding God in the other," if I choose to live it that way.
Finally, while this book is not a self-proclaimed "emergent" book (published by Jossey-Bass, and not in one of the EV book series; it also sports no endorsements from any of the typical EV leaders), I think it goes as far as any emergent book written thus far in helping to explain what an emerging Christianity must (and does) look like. It is not a book solely considered with a theology of religious pluralism. Instead, the chapters address such topics as "The Secret of the Ordinary" (chp. 2; akin to "Transforming Secular Space" in Gibbs/Bolger), "The Blessing of Atheism" (chp 7; reminiscent of "a/theism" in Rollins), and "God Management Systems" (chp. 3; similar to the "New Kind of Christian" series by Brian McLaren). In short, the book aims to be as comprehensive as its title, attempting to offer a new way to understand how we understand and live with God, engage other people and their religion, and experience spirituality in a postmodern world.
We had our "scheduling meeting" tonight and put some activities and gatherings on the calendar for the next few months. There's a lot of good stuff to look forward to, so please look at the cohort google calendar here or at the side of the page. Here are some highlights to let you know about:
- We are still planning to have Samir Selmanovic come on Sunday October 3rd. More info on that soon.
- We are looking for different meeting spots, either homes or public (such as libraries, parks, etc.). We have open dates on Oct. 10th, 30th, Nov. 7th, 21st, and Dec. 19th. Here is a link to a Google Document that describes what we plan to do on those dates, and what type of gathering location we need. Please "sign up" by responding to this email to let us know what date and location you will take.
- Three new activities. Each of these obviously isn't for everyone, so just plug in where you are interested:
- Beth Moore Bible Study - Any women interested should email Kellye (firstname.lastname@example.org) Let her know what Beth Moore studies you have done in the past (if any), what you might be interested in, and what day of the week you might be available.
- Some of the guys are planning to go on a three day retreat to the Orthodox Monastery in December. In preparation for that, we will try to read the book "Father Arseny: Prisoner, Priest and Spiritual Father." This was recommended by Father Joseph from the monastery. We will probably try to have a low-key hang out / discussion about this book before the retreat.
- Guys Pizza & Poker Night - Weekday evenings, BYOB, no previous poker skills necessary. Just a chance to hang out and get to know each other a little better.
- Finally, there is some interest in doing a "cohort cabin" excursion again (more info coming soon)