Tag Archives: Pluralism Summer

Moving toward Pluralism Sunday 2.0

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Since I’ve taken over as coordinator for Pluralism Sunday, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon.

Former coordinator Jim Burklo sent me his files with participating congregations, names of clergy, and email addresses going back to the beginning in 2007. I figured the first thing to do was update the list. So out went an email to 1) introduce myself and 2) ask if they wanted to remain on the distribution list. As you’d expect, a flood of mailer-daemons immediately filled my in-box. There were also a few messages from former participants who were now retired from ministry and didn’t want to continue.

But the surprise was in the messages from former participating clergy who asked to be removed because their congregations emphasize pluralism on a regular basis anyway. I brought this to our worship planning team and found that they agreed. They wondered why we would have one Sunday a year to celebrate religious diversity when we did that all year round.

Well now, I thought, this is an interesting development. I’ve just taken over as coordinator of Pluralism Sunday and my own congregation wants to opt out. Even though for the past four years, we’ve had not just Pluralism Sunday but Pluralism Summer – 12 weeks of guests from a wide variety of traditions (I guess if you put it all together, we’ve actually had 48 Pluralism Sundays in those 4 years alone!).

And we’re not really opting out. Our liturgy has continued to transform into a more interspiritual – although still rooted in Christianity – format. For this year, we’ve decided to have something during the year around the holy days of other religions, inviting some of our interfaith friends back to share their traditions.

Then it occurred to me that something is happening here. It’s clear that some clergy and congregations still need to be encouraged to dip their toes into interfaith waters, especially in the context of Sunday worship. But it’s also becoming clear that many have moved beyond the toe-dipping stage and are swimming in the deep water. And I think these clergy and congregations have something to contribute: resources, experiences, collective wisdom, etc.

So I’m wondering if we need to be thinking about Pluralism Sunday 2.0. I know that I’d appreciate discussion on being a Christian church seeking to embrace pluralism. Issues around liturgy, biblical interpretation, hymnody come to mind. Also addressing questions and concerns in the congregation thoughtfully and pastorally.

So the next stage is to revise the website. And not only update information about this year’s Pluralism Sunday, but add a 2.0 page as well. I hope those congregations who’ve opted out will opt back in and participate. I hope that others will join in, too.

As always, I appreciate your thoughts and ideas.

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Pluralism Summer: Week 3

This past spring, peter_erlenweina colleague called me to ask if I knew a place where the author of a new book on interreligious spirituality might present a talk on this topic. Intrigued, I agreed to a virtual introduction and then went on to set up an in-person meeting.

When I met Dr. Peter Erlenwein at the Dolores Park Cafe, I knew we were talking the same language! And I was delighted that he accepted my invitation to be part of our Pluralism Summer series.  I didn’t know much about Dr. Erlenwein at the time of that first meeting, but I have since discovered the depth of his knowledge and experience. And while listening to him talk at that first meeting, I realized how relevant his research is for today’s explorations of what it means to be “spiritual but not religious.”

Peter Erlenwein, Ph.D., is a sociopsychologist and transpersonal therapist from Germany. His integral approach combines Jungian archetypal psychology, meditation and body mind work with dance, ritual and role-playing in the context of sacred text reflections of different religious traditions. His spiritual insight and life has been deeply inspired by his decades long travels to India, Southern Africa and now the US. As a radio journalist, author and intercultural researcher he has been publishing continuously on interreligious subjects. His latest book is titled: Und sah die Himmel offen. Spiritualität diesseits und jenseits von Religion (And saw the heaven open. Spirituality this side and beyond religion).

I’m looking foreward to hearing what Dr. Erlenwein will have to say this Sunday about the intersection of religion and politics!