One of the great things about living in a large metropolitan area where people take religion seriously is that we have a lot of opportunities to hear some excellent scholars, authors and others who come to town for various appearances.
Some of them come to our several areas seminaries, some come on book tours and speak at events sponsored by Rainy Day Books and some come at the invitation of specific faith communities.
Today I want to tell you about two speakers who fit in the latter category and who will speak in the Kansas City area in the next several weeks.
Johnson is the R.W. Woodruff professor of New Testament and Christian origins at the Candler School of Theology and senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University.
Nearly all of the sharp disagreements between and among Christians have their roots in how we read scripture, and Johnson will talk about our individual and corporate responsibility to have a rational hermeneutics -- or system of interpretation.
Next, another cutting-edge theological mind, Stanley Hauerwas (pictured at the left), will speak May 20 at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Mission, Kan. His topic will be "Practicing Pentecost: Learning the Language of Peace." For a pdf flier about his appearance that you can copy and share, click on this link: Download Tocher001.
Hauerwas is the Gilbert T. Rowe professor of theological ethics at the Duke Divinity School. I first became acquainted with his work some years ago when I read A Rereading of Romans, which, among other things, sought to understand Jewish-Christian relations in a different light.
Well, these are just two examples of the high-quality faith-focused speakers who come to Kansas City on a regular basis. You can keep up with others by checking the Faith Calendar in The Kansas City Star and by dropping in on the Web sites of the various seminaries in this area.
* * *
LOOKING INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY
CNN's Anderson Cooper is airing a series on violence within Scientology. One of the focuses is the group's Sea Organization, which became the subject of lawsuits filed recently. All of this goes to the heart of what it means to be a religion versus what it means to be something else. That's been a tricky question forever, and I'm not sure we're any closer to an answer now than we were decades ago.
* * *
P.S.: To sponsor me for this year's AIDS Walk Kansas City, click here. And thanks.
* * *
THE BOOK CORNER
The Church Has AIDS: Essays on Sexuality, Sexual Orientation, Taboos, and the Black Church, by Minister Gerald Palmer. The author is an associate pastor at Calvary Temple Baptist Church in Kansas City and has been using his prophetic voice for several years to tell members of the black community and of historically black churches that anti-gay prejudice is wrong and that as Christians they must respond with compassion to people living with HIV/AIDS. The book is a collection of his messages about that. This is not beautifully polished writing. Rather, it is a reflection of a caring soul crying out to save people who mean the world to him. The link above will get you to the book's listing on Lulu.com, but it also is now available on both Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.