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The Dark Night of Soul

Just before the Dark Night came calling, Fiona Robertson felt she was on top of the world. She was the co-founder of an award winning health project, had a charismatic new boyfriend, and felt more physically fit than any time in her life. Yet in quiet moments she felt that something wasn't quite right. The material success she'd achieved wasn't really giving her peace. Within a relatively short time, a series of circumstances occurred that undermined her carefully constructed sense of...


Facing Death Without Religion

How do non-religious people – which now comprise nearly 30% of the American population – face the coming of death? That’s the subject of Dr. Christel Manning’s John Templeton Foundation-funded research project. Although a fair amount is known about how religious people face the certainty of their demise, relatively little is known how non-religious people do. This category, which religious studies scholars refer to as "the nones," now comprises 27% of the population, up from about 7% in the...


Improvisation and Spiritual Practice

For Jules Munns, the art of improvisation he's devoted his life to is much more than simply a type of theatrical performance. Improv, he says, is as an activity that helps people uncover previously hidden aspects of their selves and thus become more fully human. Munns here explores the notion of improvisation as spiritual practice. Just as is the aim of passive meditation, improvisation helps practitioners achieve mindfulness, awakening and a connection to a larger Mystery and deeper...


The Radically Inclusive Ministry of Yvette Flunder

It was a gradual process that led the young Yvette Flunder to question the tenets of the United Church of Christ in which she was born and raised. She couldn't reconcile her emerging beliefs with her church's patriarchal orientation and its emphasis on preparing adherents for the next world rather than addressing the injustices and inadequacies of this one. She also realized she never again could call herself a member of a church that completely rejected same-gender-loving people such as...


Creating Communities of Choice

Organization Development Consultant Robert Leventhal explains why there's a decline in synagogue and church attendance, how congregations can reverse this trend, and his thoughts on next generation engagement strategies. According to Leventhal, external force fields make it necessary for churches and synagogues to change to remain relevant to a new generation. Synagogues in particular can no longer be content to be ethnic enclaves but instead must evolve to be more outward facing and...


Flame Wars in Spiritual Spaces

During the summer of 2018, what happened behind the scenes of two online events exposed the painful fact that the wound of race is as present in the spiritual space as anywhere else. The run-up to both of these events sparked heated flame wars, contested on one side by white women with a history of promoting progressive causes and on the other side primarily by woman of color who perceived these events as reeking what some described as cultural appropriation and others described as racism...


The Poet, the Buddhist, the Trans Warrior

Esteemed poet Diana Goetsch talks about anti-gay and anti-trans attitudes within the American Buddhist community, how people fiercely protect the gender divide, and how her Vajrayāna practice sustained her during her transition. In between discussing these and other topics, she reads poetry from her eight collections, including the poem, Black People Can't Swim, which merited her the 2012 Pushcart Prize. Because of this and others work, Diana's been cited as one of the few white poets...


More Than Just an Art Festival: Burning Man as Pilgrimage

For some, it’s an art festival, for others, a networking event. For others, it's merely a time and place to get away from it all. But for Maria Lambert Bridge, the 7-day annual middle-of-nowhere Burning Man event in the desert of Nevada, is all of that, but much more. It’s a time of renewal, a pilgrimage: something akin to coming home to sacred ground. Bridge, a thirty-something consultant and occasional mindfulness instructor, here describes her experiences at Burning Man; her yearlong...


Christianity, Christian Denial, and the Future of the Men's Movement

It took a series of relationship failures to cause Dmitri Bilgere to embrace Christianity. Rather than giving the universe a kind of laundry list of what he wanted in a partner, he instead asked God to send him the right woman. This simple change of perspective brought him the love of his life, forms the basis of his personal faith, and is central to how he his work with the men he coaches or encounters in his workshops. Bilgere (BILL-GERE) here describes his personal journey, the five...


A Sufi Approach to Business

Fourth generation entrepreneur Mark Silver is a pioneer in the integration of spirituality and business. He believes that commerce doesn’t need to involve hype or manipulation but instead can be based on transparency, integrity and heart. In this podcast, he describes how life circumstances led him to embrace the Sufi path, his belief that right business practice is inherently spiritual, and how when done correctly marketing can be a form of healing. The founder of the Ithaca, New...


From Diversity 101 to Radical Inclusion

One of the founders of the Diversity and Spirituality Network talks about the integration of diversity and spirituality; the need for diversity and inclusion work to evolve; and the role on inclusive, spiritually-oriented networks such as the Diversity and Spirituality Network in in an increasingly secular age. Show Notes: PEW Research CenterGlobal Shapers Survey podcastRecord a commentupcoming events Like the podcast? Support us on Patreon!


New Religious Movements

Pejoratively called "cults" by some, there are by some estimates more than 300 New Religious Movements in the United States and tens of thousands worldwide. These include offshoots of established religions, congregations with unique scriptures, and "New Age" churches that claim celestial origins. Some of these groups last less than a decade, whereas others span generations. W. Michael Ashcraft, the Philosophy and Religion Department Chair of Truman State University, has been studying New...


From Near-Death Survivor to Legend in Diversity

Although he grew up with privilege and an unconscious sense that he was better than others, a near-death experience caused Lewis Brown Griggs to see things differently. While hovering between life and death, he was "told" that he needed to come back and to "do his work." This meant overcoming what he saw as his principal weakness: learning to bridge the gaps between himself and other people. He's been helping others do this through diversity and inclusion work for more than 25 years. Since...


Gay Spirituality: A Primer

Two male gay priests talk about the distinctive nature of gay spirituality, institutional Christianity's attitudes towards LGBT people, and why there are high numbers of gays in the clergy. They also share how they realized their spiritual calling despite growing up within a hostile religious environment, the advice they would give to a young gay person who sees him or herself as religious and spiritual, and their belief that the on-the-ground acceptance of gay people is often at variance...


The Personal, The Political and the Spiritual

Author and advocate Jim Brown believes that restoring civility will go along way towards reversing the nation's political dysfunction. And that striving to do so is as much an internal process as it is an external one. In this increasingly polarized climate, Brown says, the way to political recovery and spiritual renewal begins with a practice that is at the heart of the world's great religions: love your enemy. In this podcast, Brown describes the process that led him to write his book,...


Travel, Religion and Spirituality

Psychotherapist, author and world traveler Greesh Sharma talks about the transformative aspects of travel; how to trek without being a tourist; and how religion influences national culture. He shares stories from his visits to some 150 countries that illustrate the diversity of human experience, how religious practice differs from place to place, and how spending time abroad has expanded his sense of self. Sharma sees travel as a form of spiritual practice and one that paradoxically...


From Theist to Atheist

Sociologist Douglas E. Cowan talks about New Religious Movements, the cult wars of the 1970s and the influence of the internet on religion. He also traces his own personal journey from mainstream Protestant believer through agnosticism to atheism. Regardless of what you believe, he says, "atheism matters." Links: Doug Cowan's Amazon page CV and Profile Page New Religious Movements (Hartford Institute for Religion Research) Diversity and Spirituality Network Support this podcast on...


Entrepreneurship, Social Activism, and Spiritual Practice

Paul Zelizer sees his mission as nurturing a community of socially conscious and spiritually aware entrepreneurs. His mission is embodied in the Awarepreneurs, a global community he founded in which business-minded people explore how their ventures might better contribute to a just and sustainable world. Awarepreneur members focus on integrating social activism into their business practices, while cultivating their personal sense of spiritual awareness. At one time, the community had more...


Building Bridges in Difficult Times

Conflict resolution specialist David Campt talks about the art of peace building, using dialogue to create common ground, and how whites can be effective allies for people of color in the fight against racism. Campt is an authority on inclusion and equity, stakeholder engagement, and conflict resolution and dialogue. The author of Read the Room for Real and co-author (with Lisa Schirch) of The Little Book of Dialogue for Difficult Subjects, he's served as Senior Policy Adviser to President...


Adventures of a Jewish Yogi

When the Judaism of her youth failed to satisfy her spiritual yearning, Dani Antman embarked on a journey that included yoga, energy healing, and an eventual discovery of the mysticism of the Jewish Kabbalah. In this podcast, Antman discusses her teachers' cultural differences, sexuality and spirituality, and what personal tragedy has taught her. This podcast amplifies the message of Antman's recently published memoir, Wired for God, which was Finalist in the "Autobiography/Memoir" category...