Missed The Big Class with Bishop Curry? No Worries. You Can Still Take It.

Royal WeddingThe Big Class: From Palace to Public Square — The Way of Love with Michael Curry is over — but your opportunities to take it have only just begun.

This class is now part of our regular library in both For Individuals and For Groups formats. You can add it to your congregation’s online school or buy it on its own.

Students across the world have offered insight about how the church has been given an opportunity to move forward in response to Bishop Curry’s lectures. Here are some student responses to discussion questions in The Big Class:

In response to a question about opportunities that have arisen in recent months to talk about the Jesus Movement with others:

WOW! Finally an answer I can believe in. I am one of those described in the introduction to this lesson who did not want to evangelize. I don’t think it is right to push my beliefs onto others. Bishop Curry’s positive evangelism is something I can get behind. If someone asks or is interested, I am willing to talk about my faith and beliefs as formed by the Episcopal Church, but I rarely start the conversation. Maybe now I can begin the conversation with the words of Bishop Curry.

Also:

The best opportunity is created by people’s positive reactions to [Bishop Curry’s] authentic enthusiasm about the love of God. For once, the media has shown not some crazy, fringe ‘Christians’ but a believer (Bishop Curry) who’s on fire with Christ’s love. This helps mainline folks stop being ashamed of being Christian and helps us have conversations with others that yes, this is who we are and what we believe.

In response to a question about how the church might realize Bishop Curry’s challenge to restore Jesus to the center of our faith communities:

Working in ecumenical and inter-faith groups, we should strive to spend more time with each other getting to know about religions and practices that are alien to us. I live in the most ethnically diverse diocese in the Episcopal church, yet many of our parishes are silos who have little interaction with other Episcopal churches, let alone with other faiths and denominations.

Also:

Our “parish” is outside as well as inside the walls of our church building and the message of the Jesus Movement needs to be offered accordingly.

The responses have gone on and on. In this course, participants have given serious thought to what Bishop Curry had to say in his sermon and in his lectures. Students across the world responded with energy, intelligence, and creativity. Join them and bring your own thoughts into the worldwide conversation engendered by Bishop Curry’s work.

For a preview of the course, please click here.

 

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Just Launched — From Palace to Public Square: The Way of Love with Bishop Michael Curry

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We have just launched our most recent Big Class — and our first course as a ministry of Forward Movement. The course is entitled From Palace to Public Square: The Way of Love with Michael Curry.

Curry Headline 3Bishop Curry’s royal wedding sermon “The Power of Love” garnered much attention from the press and on social media both during and after the wedding. The sermon’s main theme was that love has true power in the world — the love of  a couple getting married; the love of neighbor; the love of God. Bishop Curry preached in the African-American Curry Headline 1tradition, which was new to many of he people who watched the wedding. Both the content and the style of the sermon inspired discussion and provoked passionate responses.

 

Some argued that Bishop Curry’s message was exactly what our world needs to hear.

Some were inspired to see Bishop Curry preach so powerfully in the African-American tradition from the pulpit at a British royal wedding.

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And some enjoyed trying to interpret reactions from the congregation at a preaching style with which many were unfamiliar.

Bishop Curry’s sermon, in short, drew a great deal of attention and moved many who heard it. In this course, Bishop Curry discusses the experience of preaching at the royal wedding and the content of his sermon. He talks about how he creates sermons and how he used both a specific text from and the structure of The Song of Solomon as the basis for this one. He talks about the type of platform that this response to his “Power of Love” sermon has made available and how he wants the church to use that platform to offer a positive, non-judgmental, loving evangelism. Finally, he discusses the Jesus Movement, how it fits in with the message he wants to offer the world, and its place in the church.

This course is ideal for anyone who is interested in the Jesus movement, respectful evangelism, the royal wedding, or Michael Curry. For a preview of the course, please click here.

Image 1: Image: Bishop Curry preaching at the royal wedding. REUTERS/Owen Humphreys. Used with permission.

Image 2: People watching Bishop Curry preach at the royal wedding on a screen at Windsor. Photo credit: Matthew Davies/Episcopal News Service. Used with permission.

Image 3: @KalenaAnna. (2018, May 19). Tweet text. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/KalenaAnna/status/997805081096…

Image 4: @Coko316. (2018, May 19). Tweet text. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/Coko316/status/997804850292248…

Image 5: @JoshChesworth. (2018, May 19). Tweet text. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/JoshChesworth/status/997801217…

Just Launched: Reading the Bible Through the Lens of Conflict with Padraig O Tuama

 

We have just launched Reading the Bible Through the Lens of Conflict with Padraig O Tuama For Individuals and For Groups.

“Peace is not the absence of conflict; it is the ability to cope with conflict by peaceful means.” — President Ronald Reagan

“The opposite of war isn’t peace; it’s creation.” Jonathan Larson, who wrote and composed the musical Rent.

What did Ronald Reagan and Jonathan Larson, who wrote the 1996 musical Rent, have in common in terms of the way they understood the world? Very little. But they agreed in seeing the best opposition to violent conflict as a dynamic process rather than a static absence of conflict. Larson argued that creation — artistic creation; intellectual creation; the energy of building something new — is a strong opposition to violence. Reagan — whose administration stared down the Soviet Union with weapons drawn for many years but never fell into open war — saw the process of conflict management as the best alternative to violent interaction.

In this class, Padraig O Tuama defines peace as a process rather than a static condition — one that accommodates both of these approaches to opposing violence. Padraig,  a poet, theologian, and public speaker who founded the Spirituality of Conflict project, wants our culture to embrace conflict, manage it, attend to it, and use it to inspire humanity to move forward. He sees managed conflict as a way to avoid settling into a dreary and/or cowardly acceptance of the status quo.

Padraig asks us to acknowledge conflict as a potential source both of great pain and violence and of great strength and inspiration. He hopes that we will use our readings of the gospels and the ways in which they discuss conflict to explore ways of utilizing conflict in our daily lives to improve the human condition.

This course is ideal for people who are looking for ways to manage conflict in our deeply divided culture. For a preview of this course, click here.

Beginning Today: Our Free Big Class: Stopping Harassment and Creating Cultures of Respect with Gretchen Carlson and Robin Hammeal-Urban

From today through May 28, take our new Big Class: Stopping Harassment and Creating Cultures of Respect with Gretchen Carlson and Robin Hammeal-Urban for free.

Our culture has tended, up until recently, to think of serious sexual harassment as characterizing a bygone era. The television show Mad Men, for example, set in 1960s mad menadvertising firms and including scenes with startlingly blatant sexual harassment, suggest that sexual harassment used to be a serious problem, but also creates a perception of cultural distance between the bad old days and today. If the #MeToo movement has demonstrated anything, however, it has shown that in many twenty-first century professional and social communities, we still accept as a fact of life that powerful people will coerce others into sex and degrade others based on gender.

2016 report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on workplace harassment  included the results of a random sample survey that found that 25% of female employees reported having been sexually harassed in the workplace. When the term “sexual harassment” was not used in the question, but unwanted sexual advances by employers were described, 40% of female employees reported having experienced these behaviors. When the question described people’s being treated with hostility in relation to their gender (as opposed to experiencing unwanted sexual advances or sexual touching), that percentage went up to 60. This survey demonstrates, first, that sexual harassment in the American workplace is anything but dead, and second, that many women notice sexually inappropriate and gender-biased behavior in their workplaces but don’t define these behaviors to themselves as sexual harassment. The harassment is happening, but victims don’t always recognize it as such.

Nor does harassment stop in the workplace. The sexual assault charges brought against numerous clergy members  in recent years indicate that churches are no more immune to predatory sexual behavior than anywhere else. It is impossible to deny that sexual harassment remains a serious problem across the board in American culture.

In this class, two women who advocate against sexual harassment join together to show us how to resist it, particularly in our faith communities. In 2016, Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox News journalist, brought charges against Roger Ailes after having been dismissed from her job for refusing to have sex with him. Her choice eventually forced Ailes to resign from his position at Fox News (where several other women have spoken out about his having harassed them as well) and opened doors for other women to report their experiences with sexual harassment.  Today, she focuses much of her energy on advocating for gender equality in the workplace.

Robin Hammeal-Urban is Canon for Mission Integrity and Training for the Diocese of Connecticut. She is an attorney who specifically works to train faith communities on ways to build respectful interaction and resist sexual harassment. She also helps the church respond to situations involving sexual misconduct. She has written a book about rebuilding trust in faith communities in the wake of leadership misconduct and has many ideas about how communities of faith in particular can build respectful cultures.

In this course, Gretchen and Robin will educate you about how to define sexual harassment, why it’s important to speak out about it (and why it can be so difficult to do so), ways in which churches and individuals can respond to harassment, and ways to build faith communities that encourage respect. We hope that their guidance helps each of you as we work together to create a culture that truly respects the dignity of every human being.

We hope that you will join students across the world in learning about how to resist sexual harassment. For a preview of the course, please click here.

Register Now for Our Free Big Class: Stopping Harassment and Creating Cultures of Respect with Gretchen Carlson and Robin Hammeal-Urban

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Register now for our upcoming Big Class: Stopping Harassment and Creating Cultures of Respect with Gretchen Carlson and Robin Hammeal-Urban. The class will be available free worldwide May 14-May 28.

The #MeToo movement has been so powerful that Time Magazine wrote its annual Person of the Year 2017 article about the people who came forward with their stories of rape, harassment, and other unwanted sexual advances from leaders in their professions and in other power positions. The men who revealed to have used their positions to demand sex or to harass people sexually came from many professions — from TV anchorman Matt Lauer to internationally respected playwright Israel Horovitz; from former Minnesota Senator Al Franken to New Orleans celebrity chef John Besh.

That these men were powerful in so many different professions and cultural arenas indicates the diverse range of ordinary people who have faced unwanted sexual advances in their day-to-day lives — from junior chefs trying to work their way up in New Orleans to aspiring actors trying to make a living in theater to people who work for senators in Washington. These powerful men got away with what they were doing because the culture allowed it. And as the #MeToo movement demands justice for the victims of sexual harassment, the movement also asks for change. It demands that people in power positions treat colleagues and junior colleagues with respect and that our culture no longer empower people to use positions of strength to demand sex or harass people sexually.

In the Episcopal Baptismal Covenant, we vow to respect the dignity of every human being. The #MeToo movement gives us a powerful opportunity to fulfill this promise by Carlson and Hammeal-Urbanusing our collective voice to demand change and to discuss ways by which we might enact change in our institutions and on a cultural level. In this class, Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox News anchor and an internationally recognized journalist who wrote the bestselling book Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back works with Robin Hammeal-Urban, a lawyer, Episcopalian, and sexual misconduct expert to help educate and open discussion about stopping sexual misconduct in our culture and creating cultures that demand that leaders treat people in their scope of power with respect.

Register for this class for free any time from now through May 28. For a preview of the course, please click here.

 

 

 

 

Just Launched: Praying with English Mystics with Dan London

We just launched Praying with English Mystics with Dan London For Individuals and For Groups.

Mystics have an exotic reputation. Our culture associates them with altered states of consciousness; with strange, even supernatural activities; with “mystic crystal revelations,” as the title song in the musical Hair puts it. At the very least, we expect otherworldly, “saintlike” behavior.

We do not necessarily picture a quiet woman who lived a life of prayer in her church cell with her cat, sometimes offering spiritual guidance to visitors, as Julian of Norwich lived. We don’t think of St. Theresa of Avila, annoyed at having had to cross a stream head down under her donkey due to a saddle-related mishap, griping to God about the indignity of her treatment — and, upon God’s resp0nding that this is how God treats friends, snapping back to God, “No wonder you have so few!” We don’t picture, in other words, people with personalities, tempers, and pets — but the entire point of this course is that mystical experiences are not limited to desert hermits or people who live in a kind of extreme religious haze, but for Christians of every kind and temperament who desire union with God.

In this course, Dan London, a teacher and priest serving Christ Episcopal Church in Eureka, California, discusses the English mystics of the fourteenth century, particularly Julian of Norwich and the author of The Cloud of Unknowing. He talks about the work of these mystics in the context of contemporary scholarship and explains ways in which we can use their work to help us on our own spiritual journeys.

We hope that this course helps support you as you build and expand your life of prayer. For a preview of this course, please click here.

 

Resource: Audio Bibles

Outside the context of the liturgy, today’s Christians tend to approach scripture as something we read to ourselves. For most of its history, however, people listened to the words of scripture rather than reading them on their own. So why not use today’s technology to bring scripture into your life the old-fashioned way? Here are some audio versions of scripture that you might find particularly interesting or inspiring.

  • Inspired By … The Bible Experience: Old Testament and Inspired By … The Bible Experience: New Testament are powerful and dramatic readings of scripture with Bible Experienceover 400 actors, actresses, and members of the clergy taking different roles. Performers include Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett, Denzel Washington, Forrest Whitaker, Blair Underwood, and many others. The reading has exceptional sound quality and is accompanied by an original score performed by the Prague Symphony Orchestra. This extraordinary recording won the 2007 Audio Association award for Audio Book of the Year.

 

  • The Word of Promise Complete Audio Bible is a powerful recording of the New King word of promise bibleJames Version of the Bible in its entirety. Many award-winning actors read characters in this version as well, including Richard Dreyfus, Louis Gossett, Jr., Gary Sinese, and Marissa Tomei.

 

 

  • James Earl Jones Reads the Bible: New Testament is the King James Version of the james earl jones bibleBible read by James Earl Jones (presumably because the firsthand voice of God was not available and this was the next best thing). There’s also a version of the King James Bible in its entirety read by James Earl Jones and Jon Sherburg.

 

 

  • BibleGateway now provides free audio readings for some translations of the Bible, including (but not limited to) the New International Version, the King James Version, and The Message. Just look up the passage and see if it has a speaker icon in the toolbar above the passage. If it does, you can listen to it. Many of the readings are extremely good. We especially like Max McLean’s reading of the New International Version. The website also has a page with information about its audio bibles, which are available in a number of different translations and languages.

 

  • The free Bible App offers access to free audio readings of the Bible. The best version is probably the same Max McLean New International Version that BibleGateway uses. The app is easy to use. Once installed, just select the NIV version in the top right and then press the speaker on the lower left.