Category Archives: Conversations with Leaders

Interviews with notable figures in religion, spirituality, and the interfaith and interspiritual movements, by Lauren Zinn at ZinnHouse.

How to Teach Religion Today – With Purim as an Example

photo of poster called Spring Rules!Matt, the Jewish father in an interfaith family with two young girls, shared with me this story:
His mother, the girls’ Jewish grandmother, asked if he would raise the girls Jewish. “Yes,” he said, “but it won’t look like the Jewish I was raised with, or the Jewish you, Mom, were raised with. It will look like the Jewish they will be raised with.”

Now more than ever we need models for teaching religion to today’s youth in ways that lay the foundation for a new form of religious identity in a safe, loving, and just world. And I mean World. Education is no longer a singular ethnic communal concern. Today we must consider how we fit with others on our shared planet. How are we —the grown ups in the room— supposed to do that?

Religious and secular educators need good examples of lessons that work. Continue reading How to Teach Religion Today – With Purim as an Example

World AIDS Day: In My Brother’s Name

December 1st is World AIDS Day. 

This year, Michigan-Unified/HARC sponsored an outstanding musical-theatrical program, thanks to Rev. Joe Summers for organizing and Rev. Deborah Dean-Ware for hosting. It included performances by Gospel Against AIDS, Threshold Choir, The Corner Health Center Theater Troupe, Rev. Roland Stringfellow, and more. I was honored to speak at this event.

In my talk, I remember my brother.

Continue reading World AIDS Day: In My Brother’s Name

photo of Diane with her poster at the REA conference 2016

Seriously — Imaginary Sorrow (Obama) and Real Hope (REA)

What would Obama say as Americans vote today? Watch this! You may find yourself, like me, playing it over and over. The words and their sorrow may be imaginary but they point us towards real hope. More than a captivating and inspiring song, this lamentation challenges our soul as a nation. When the election is over, may we all rise higher.

But how did we sink so low?

To answer that question, let me share a few notes from attending the REA Conference in Pittsburgh where I met Religion Educators from around the world including Belgium, Germany, Austria, England, Spain, Turkey, Nigeria, Canada, Israel, Australia, and the United States. Continue reading Seriously — Imaginary Sorrow (Obama) and Real Hope (REA)

Election Fury or Forgiveness

Keep Calm and Watch Fury.
Share your thoughts at the end of this post.

picture of movie poster for 1936 FuryFury

With recently heightened “suspense” from Donald Trump as we near the end of this election, it’s worth reminding ourselves of why populism, group think, and mob (or mobster) rule don’t work. For this reason, I suggest hosting a Movie Night Pre-Election Party featuring the 1936 drama and thriller, Fury. Continue reading Election Fury or Forgiveness

If You Meet a Religious Leader on the Road…

bicycle riders over a bridgeIf you meet a religious leader on the road… and they tell you their congregation is shrinking… and youth enrollment is down… and you suggest they include an interfaith perspective in their religious school program, that leader will probably dismiss your suggestion without another thought. At least, this has been my experience. Why do so many clergy resist teaching interfaith perspectives to youth at a time when church/synagogue attendance is at an all-time low with nearly one in three Americans under age 35 identifying as spiritual but not religious? The clergy I have encountered typically give one or all of the following reasons:
Continue reading If You Meet a Religious Leader on the Road…

A Seminary Stands Up, Out, and For All Faiths

photo-pillarsBaton Rouge. Minneapolis. Dallas.
We need REAL social change now more than ever. But how?

Let me backtrack to a social change event where Cornel West, the prominent African American scholar, was the main speaker. There, he recalled these words of Paolo Freire, author of
Pedagogy of the Oppressed:

No social change movement is ever successful without the support of religious leaders and their communities.

If this is true, and we’re serious about social justice, then shouldn’t we help our spiritual leaders to be good at it? By good, I mean not only effective at motivating congregants to rise up for social change — since many do, but also effective at securing change in policy and law. Today, that is exactly what Auburn Seminary is up to.
Continue reading A Seminary Stands Up, Out, and For All Faiths