Dr. Heath Rada was elected moderator of the 221st Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly in June of 2014. He and his wife, Peggy, are traveling across the country and around the world as ambassadors for the church. They visited with me in the WETS studio to talk about some of the controversial decisions as well as the hope they see regarding the church of the 21st century.
This week my guest is Linda LaScola who along with Daniel Dennett, co-authored Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind. This book reports on a study of clergy who are no longer believers. Are these clergy unusual or are they the canaries in the coal mine signaling the demise of institutional religion? While that question may not have a clear answer, you will be intrigued by what Daniel Dennett and Linda LaScola discovered. Linda LaScola was one of the organizers of The Clergy Project and she blogs at Rational Doubt. *(In the interview she stated there are 800 members of the clergy project but meant to say 600).
Bill McKibben is the founder of 350.org and the author of numerous books regarding our planet in peril, including Eaarth and The End of Nature. He talks to me about his latest book, Oil and Honey: The Education of An Unlikely Activist. He also speaks candidly about the destructive role and lack of vision of the fossil fuel industry and of the urgency for each of us to become unlikely activists on behalf of life.
Dr. Thomas Hill has taken 30 trips to Iraq as a peace builder. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs. He has been on Religion For Life twice before to speak of his work between NYU and the University of Duhok. He was there this summer and spoke to me about the new threat from the Islamic State and what he hears from his friends in Iraq.
Marcus J. Borg has written over twenty books. His influence is widely known in the progressive Christian movement. His latest book, Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most, is in part a memoir, but much more. He articulates a way of living in the world that seeks to embrace what is best and most wise in the Christian tradition. He returns to Religion For Life to speak with me about progressive Christianity, God, and how one might go about discovering and living what matters most.
Religion, social justice, and public life is the tagline for Religion For Life. The nuns on the bus are at the center of that intersection driving for faith, family and fairness. Sister Simone Campbell of Network, a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, talks to me about her bus tours to speak on behalf of the 100%. Her book, A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community is an uplifting and serious call to get off the couch, rediscover our values and reclaim our democracy.
Kiran Singh Sirah is the director of the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee. He says his family is a mini United Nations as it is a huge mix of religions and ethnicities. He believes in the power of story to unite and to make for peace. He speaks with me about the power of stories, his Sikh religious tradition, and the exciting work of the International Storytelling Center.
Here is advice you don't often hear from clergy: never pray again! If you have ever wondered about the point (or pointlessness) of prayer, you'll find these friars to be fellow travelers. My guests, Aric Clark, Doug Hagler, and Nick Larson are Two Friars and A Fool (Twitter, Facebook) and have authored a book, Never Pray Again! Lift Your Head, Unfold Your Hands, and Get to Work! They encourage us to turn prayer into action and they speak candidly about their own struggles with the concept of prayer.
We are familiar with the War Pentagon on the Potomac. In Southwest Virginia a building is under construction that could be more powerful, the Peace Pentagon. Laura George, executive director of The Oracle Institute speaks with me about a fascinating new community that is "an advocate for peace and a vanguard for conscious evolution."