Spiritual Interface

Monday, April 9th, 2012, 9:00pm EDT


Audio only

Are you comfortable discussing spirituality with your Hindu/Buddhist/Christian/Jewish/Muslim/atheist/agnostic/etc. friends? How can we share from the heart about the things that matter most, without feeling vulnerable or sliding into an unpleasant debate? This edition of Time4thinkers Live focuses on the delights and pitfalls of interfaith dialogue . . . and, as always, features your questions.

This is a Live Chat to celebrate the launch of Spiritual Interface, a new space on time4thinkers.com where our community can share examples of progressive thought – in other faith traditions, in contemporary science, or wherever they may appear. Check out the first Spiritual Interface post by our Live Chat guest, Shirley Paulson.

Shirley Paulson’s combination of Christian Science healing practice with a master’s degree in theological studies has opened the door to a number of valuable interfaith activities. She is currently representing the Christian Science Church on an observer basis at the board of the National Council of Churches (NCC) and is serving on the Faith and Order Commission of the NCC. Her lectures are designed primarily for classrooms. Professors without firsthand knowledge of Christian Science often appreciate the opportunity to have a knowledgeable and experienced speaker available for the class. Additionally, she gives talks for young Christian Science audiences who enjoy learning about how Christian Science relates to the wider context of Christianity. Shirley is currently the Head of Ecumenical Affairs of The Mother Church.

Sarah Talcott Blair is a third-generation Christian Scientist who became involved in interfaith work right out of college in 1999. She has worked in the field of interfaith cooperation and understanding ever since. She served as the first-ever Youth Programs Director for the United Religions Initiative (URI) and the coordinator of the URI’s Global Youth Cooperation Circle involving more than 350 youth activists from 55 countries around the world. Through her work with young people in the interfaith movement, Sarah designed, organized, and facilitated interfaith and intercultural youth retreats, workshops and projects in the USA, UK, India, Cyprus, Spain, Brazil and Peru, weaving together programs of interfaith and intercultural dialogue with community service and peace building activities. Sarah also worked as the Interfaith Education Officer at the University of Surrey, UK, where she co-designed and implemented a program of interfaith education on campus. She is now delighted to be a first-time mommy and also pursuing a Masters degree in Conflict Transformation at Eastern Mennonite University.

Clementine Lue Clark works with TMC Youth’s Global Team and helps organize the Youth Summits held internationally—mostly in Africa. Her professional focus has been on interfaith dialogue in post-conflict countries in Africa. She holds a Masters in Coexistence and Conflict from Brandeis University.


  1. Nic says:

    Thank you so much!

  2. Nic says:

    Is there an online link to a recording of this chat? Unfortunately, I missed it, but it sounds really fantastic.

    • Kemi says:

      It’s right here on this page :-)

      Just click the big banner photo at the top of the page. You might not get it if you are on a mobile device, but it should work from any computer.

      Please let us know if you can’t play it.

      TMC Youth

  3. Clark, MA says:

    Thanks so much for listening. I feel like this new section of our website is destined for big things. Please contribute to it. It’s only as good as our users :) :) So tell us about the books you’re reading and the conversations you’re having.

    • Glenda says:

      Thank you for this lovely support on how to “enfold our brother”. How to better demonstrate unity as a law of God.
      One of my favorite weekly activities is participating with a small group of dedicated Christian thinkers who read books, steeped in the more mainstream Christian traditions and viewpoints, and then, discuss them.
      Originally, this was to be a Bible study. Interestingly, it was decided that it was too daunting and no one felt qualified to undertake a study without a Bible Scholar present or formal guide.
      I’m the only student of Christian Science and it’s been a wonderful opportunity for me to understand better how to be “still”, to listen, to follow God’s guidance as to when to speak and when to, perhaps, introduce a “new” idea. I’m growing in my appreciation for others dedicated in their faith traditions. I’m finding more and more common ground. I see “Truth” represented everywhere. I’m understanding the “language” of their religions, better.

      I’ve appreciated being exposed to books I never would have read. So many of them include the higher spiritual insights we Christian Scientists tend to take for granted–the “inspired word of the Bible” is out there!

      Our current read is part of the series by Cynthia Heald (love the name), entitled- Becoming a Woman of Excellence.

      The reading list is more extensive but has included the following books:
      Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (amazing book, so much spirituality represented there)
      The Prayers God ALways Says Yes to, DeStefano
      Prayer, Does it Make Any Difference?, Yancey
      The Great House of God, Lucado-this book is based on The Lord’s Prayer, it’s quite comforting
      Forgotten God, Chan

      At one point in our discussion, after we had learned, through patience, gentleness and respect, that we could trust one another and feel comfortable and supported by one another, the remark was made that (discussing the Prodigal Son story) it really boils down to getting up each morning and deciding which son we are going to be that day; the elder son or the prodigal. In the sincere listening it came to me to go ahead and suggest that those were not our only options. That we might want to consider that God actually only has ONE idea of a Son, and that is the Christ. That we could actually entertain the notion that Jesus came to example for us our one, true idea of sonship and, further, the Bible states we are joint-heirs with Christ, therefore we had even more of a foundation for considering this as a possibility. This idea was well-received and gave us all much to think about.
      So, we are lifting each other up in prayerful support and love. I’m in awe of my new “sisters’” sincerity, humility, candor, their faithful service to God and man, and their deep reverence of Jesus Christ. I’m learning so much from them and it inspires even more gratitude for Christian Science.

      • LittleChild says:

        Thanks for sharing with the women and with us how God led you to share, at the right moment and in a humble, uplifting way, the thought about there being another option for “the son” — the Christ man. If I had been in that circle of “sisters,” I would’ve responded to that new glimpse of Truth with the same receptivity your listeners did. Actually, it’s impossible for those who are made by Truth and made of Truth to not be attracted to it when they hear it, since like recognizes like, right? :-)

  4. LittleChild says:

    Thanks for this new and vital and, yes, progressive addition to T4T.

    Shirley and Sarah, the ideas you shared were practical enough to enable any listener to engage in a respectful, meaningful dialogue with someone from another faith — without feeling like they might unintentionally sound superior or exclusive or dismissive, and without worrying that they might be attacked and feel helpless.

    I could relate to a lot of what they said, having belonged to two interfaith groups for a few years. One of my favorite activities was when 30 or more of us divided into small groups and sat at round tables. We had selected, in advance, a topic that we would discuss. Each person was given a certain number of minutes to share their faith tradition’s view on the topic, then he or she would pass an object (maybe a feather or a stone) to the person next to them, whose turn it was to talk. There was a second go-round for wrapping up our thoughts. Wow, I learned so much about other religions as well as HOW to listen and HOW to speak (“Shepherd, show me HOW to go….”).

    Clementine, I have to tell you that I almost submitted a question/comment and couldn’t believe my ears when two seconds later you said the exact thing I was thinking about. You spoke of one of the best ways to feel comfortable with those of other faiths: do a service project together. That’s such a good unifier of hearts and hands and heads. It’s nearly impossible to feel awkward or estranged from your neighbor after you’ve build a Habitat house together, or served soup to the needy together, or bathed shelter dogs together. (Note: actually, I would’ve been unable to send you anything, as I was listening to the archived chat the next day!)

    Truly, as you three are proving, there is no “us” versus “them.” There’s only I AM reflecting itself in infinitely individual ways.

  5. Carolyn says:

    Happily, I heard the last 1/3 with gratitude for the panel’s earnest respect for the value and intelligence of followers of other Faith Traditions.

    Whatever has truly spoken to the heart of another must be sourced in the one Father-Mother we all share. For if there is one God, Truth, Love, Life as Christian Science holds, there cannot be false gods speaking to any heart. Sourceless suggestions to/from mortal mind cannot nor “should be engraved on the understanding and heart ‘with the point of a diamond’ and the pen of an angel.” (S&H 521:15)

    Truth is itself unassailable, therefore, it has no need of protection by Faith Tradition fences or human body guards. To fearlessly and fully attend to another will never sever a believer from what is true and understood. What must happen is Truth prevailing by gathering together:
    “So may we all with one accord
    Learn how true Christians love” (Hymn 266)

    Now IS the time for thinkers…


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