It may sound like something I chant when my children are driving me crazy, but it’s actually Open Hearts and Minds Lectures, coming up this weekend at Auburn University Montgomery.  This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock.  Dr. Brock will focus on the theme of “Our Common Good and the Care of This World” in her addresses on Friday and Saturday evening.  During Saturday morning’s mini-conference, Dr. Brock will be joined by Birmingham author James Douglass and AUM professor Dr. Rosine Hall to explore “greening the soul”.

The lectures are free; the mini-conference is $15 (you can pay at the door).  All the events are held in the Nursing School building at AUM, which has ample free parking.

I attended the last two OHM Lectures, featuring Bishop John Shelby Spong in 2004 and Dr. James Forbes and Dr. Charles Marsh in 2005, and I can tell you the organizers only bring in the best – engaging speakers with powerful messages.  If you can get to Montgomery on Friday and Saturday, it will be well worth your time. 

9 Responses to “OHM”

  1. Rhonda Thomason says:

    Dr. Brock is an outstanding activist for womens rights, a living wage, equal and fair inclusion of all people. She is gaining international attention not only for her scholarship, but her ability to share her compelling vision. It will be worth the drive.

  2. Kathy says:

    Thanks, Rhonda.

  3. Susan says:

    Maybe off topic: Kathy, what do you think of Spong’s post-theistic ‘Christianity?’

  4. Kathy says:

    He makes a lot of sense to me, Susan. I can embrace his — well, theology may not be the right word — more fully than I can that of traditional Christianity.

    What do you think?

  5. Susan says:

    Well, he very handily dismantles all the basic tenets of Christianity, and most of what he says in doing so–and when speaking on social issues–I completely agree with.

    My problem is that after shutting down Christianity as we know it, he continues to wear a collar and call himself ‘Christian.’ By my soft quotes I’m not suggesting he’s hypocritical, only that–considering all he rejects–I sincerely don’t understand what he embraces that is Christian (or ‘Christian’ for that matter). I’ve heard him speak and read his books, and he simply doesn’t sufficiently refill that vacuum left after deconstructing traditional Christian belief.

    A New Christianity for A New World“? Fine. Frankly, bring it on. But he doesn’t bring it. Just vague stuff about wind and earth all the while (before he retired) continuing to preside at Episcopal worship services. To what end? Once you eliminate the idea of a sentient, theistic God, for example, traditional prayer is obviously out, so why would he continue to recite the Lord’s Prayer at worship? Out of respect for the traditions of Christianity? Traditions of a belief system he’s come close to describing as lunacy?

    That and I find him a tad full of himself. Martin Luther he ain’t. In short, I’ve been intrigued by his opening, but found his follow-through lacking, or mystifying, or something.

  6. Kathy says:

    Susan, it’s my understanding that Spong doesn’t deny that there is a Jesus Christ; he believes that Jesus became divine after his death because he was so closely attuned to God’s will for his life. And Spong sees that as a challenge and possibility for all humans beings.

    I don’t have a problem with his rejection of a theistic God when I listen to the language he uses to define theism. I do sometimes find his dichotomies a bit too black and white, but then I realize that he’s addressing much of his argument toward those who are much more literal-minded than I (and, I suspect, you as well).

    Perhaps he should have left the priesthood when he realized that his beliefs didn’t square with the basics of the Episcopal doctrine. In his defense, I think he went through a long process, not a sudden change. And I don’t know a single clergyperson who completely believes the simplistic pablum that is too frequently what is served up on Sunday mornings. Most clergy I know would never consider being completely honest with their congregations for fear of the repercussions they would face.

    All that said, I do agree that he can come across as a bit full of himself.

  7. Dan says:

    Will you be slaughtering babies at this meeting? Just curious… :)

  8. Del says:

    Gee, between this and the Tillman thread, the Blues is turning into one big confrontation of mortality. Kathy, what you said about the clergy not believing what they dish up took me right back to the front porch on a beautiful afternoon in the spring of 1999 or so, when Daddy was dying of cancer. The then-assistant rector was paying what I suppose was an informal pastoral call. He sat on a rocker while I huddled on the porch swing, sunk in misery. After a while he asked, conversationally, “So, do you believe in life after death?” I told him I didn’t. “Me neither,” he said. Then we went back to silently rocking and swinging. I guess it’s flattering that he respected me enough to be that honest. OTOH it was a little brutal.

    I’m kind of with Susan–from what I remember of reading Spong, and I suppose I should revisit him, he glibly dismisses what has got to be the single most desirable tenet of the Christian faith with a kind of “Oh come on, no thinking person can possibly believe that Jesus Christ actually rose from the dead, or that you’re going to meet on that beautiful shore!” and doesn’t give you much to replace it except a lot of metaphor. Sounds real purty, Shelby, but am I ever gonna get to see my Daddy again or not? I respect his entirely intellectual approach, but I guess I’m just not brainy enough to fully grasp it. Which yes, an unfilled vacuum is exactly how to put it. Flinging oneself into works of social justice is admirable, but not much help when you wake up in the middle of the night with that smothered feeling.

  9. Kathy says:

    No, Dan. It could get exciting, but not in that way. ;)

    Del and Susan, I suppose part of what attracts me to Spong’s point of view is that he was able to articulate it without leaving the church. I’d like to find some balance for myself that wouldn’t require me either to pretend particulars of belief I don’t hold or to give up Christian fellowship altogether. His ideas are not new, and I remind myself frequently that the church didn’t spring into being with immediately established orthodoxy.

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