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"Ask Me Anything: Local Religious & Secular Folks Dialogue"

Jessi LeClear Vachta

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 from 6:15 PM to 8:45 PM (CDT)

"Ask Me Anything: Local Religious & Secular Folks...

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Event Details

Share food with new people, speak deeply about things that matter to you, and develop transferable dialogue skills...

Religion, Belief, Meaning-Making, Ethics, Identity - topics of conversation that may positively engage you or even enrage you depending on the context. As religious and secular folks talking to each other about these topics, we want to share our own insights and hear from strangers, friends and colleagues but find that the conversation too often leads to stereotyping, hurtful accusations, or even broken relationships . In a culture of debate, small sound bytes, and media sensationalism, we've been exposed to a plethora of models and methods for asserting ourselves and proving each other wrong  but few for really hearing each other out and forming positive relationships.

During this dialogue event "Ask Me Anything: Local Religious & Secular Folks Dialogue" - co-sponsored by Luther Seminary, Minneapolis Circle of Reason, Secular Bible Study, Humanists of MN and MN Atheists - we'll take the time to practice a way of being in conversation together that emphasizes what Circle of Reason's Frank Burton describes as "the principles of open mindedness, discovery, sincerity, curiosity, and brevity."  Using a dialogue model inspired by the Public Conversations Project, we'll talk about things that matter to us in a ways that allow us to be genuine and maintain our differences while also cultivating curiosity and creating space for mutual understanding and relationship-building.

Schedule of Evening

6:15-6:45   Check-In, share a light meal and refreshments

6:45-7:15   Introduction, go over dialogue method and agreements

7:15-8:30   Break into small groups for intentional conversation

8:30-8:45   Gather for concluding remarks and feedback forms*

During the registration process, you'll be asked to share a little bit about yourself so that we can, as best as possible, create a dialogue experience that reflects your own particular interests and concerns. Please take a couple of minutes to answer these registration questions as they will greatly enhance the quality of the event!

ALL ARE WELCOME to this unique interfaith/transbelief dialogue opportunity - Register TODAY to reserve your spot!

Note: Parking available in lot behind Northwestern Hall and on street side lining Northwestern Hall

Note About the "Dialogue Agreements":

In order to establish and maintain the dialogue environment needed to promote deep listening, mutual understanding, and positive relationships, we will all follow some basic dialogue agreements at this event including...

1) Speaking for Oneself- you are present to speak from your own experience and to share your own perspectives. Avoid speaking "on behalf" of a whole group or describing a point of view that is not your own.

2) Deep Listening - try to suspend judgment when others are speaking, even if it is just temporary. Instead of thinking about what you're going to say next, take the time to really listen to what it is others are saying.

3) Mutual Respect - invite and honor diverse perspectives. Please do not use  stereotypes, insults, or name-calling to address the group or individuals. When responding to other statements, seek to understand, not convince. Ask clarifying questions.. Allow others to "pass" if they are not ready to speak - participation is voluntary.

4) Brevity - be honest and genuine, taking the time to share the depth of your perspective, but without going on and on. Respect the timeframes given and refrain from interrupting others.

5) Confidentiality - please do not attach names to comments or stories shared during the dialogue without first receiving permission from that individual.

While there is a place and purpose for healthy debate, this is not that but a dialogue event that will emphasize deep listening and seeking understanding. We all have our personal motivations for wanting to engage in dialogue, but if your aim is to convince, persuade or promote a specific perspective at the detriment of disregarding or devaluing another perspective, this may not be the event for you.


 * Responses to registration questions and the post-dialogue feedback form may be included in the organizer's thesis work tentatively titled "Mending the So-Called Sacred/Secular Divide: Seeking Positive Dialogue between the Religious and Non-Religious." All responses will remain ANONYMOUS and no names will be attached to statements made. Names are requested in order to match up responses to registration questions and post-dialogue feedback forms. Pseudonyms can be used during the registration process if desired. No remarks made during the dialogue itself will be used.  Participants that fill out the registration questions and/or feedback forms give their implied consent indicating that they understand the nature of their participation and grant permission to the organizer to use their responses in her thesis. Participation is completely voluntary . You are not required to respond to registration questions and/or the feedback form in order to participate in the dialogue. Thank you!

Have questions about "Ask Me Anything: Local Religious & Secular Folks Dialogue"? Contact Jessi LeClear Vachta

When & Where

Northwestern Hall - Luther Seminary
1501 Fulham Street
St Paul, MN 55108

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 from 6:15 PM to 8:45 PM (CDT)

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Jessi LeClear Vachta

Jessi is a Master of Arts student at Luther Seminary studying theology and working on her master's thesis titled "Mending the So-Called Sacred/Secular Divide: Seeking Positive Dialogue between the Religious and Non-Religious." Jessi is passionate about advocating for the inclusion of non-religious and trans-belief voices in the field of interfaith and multifaith dialogue. She believes dialogue between and within religious and secular worldviews is essential for promoting freedom of expression and pursuing the common good.

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"Ask Me Anything: Local Religious & Secular Folks Dialogue"
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