Crossing the Great Divides
On this we can all agree: 2020 has been a momentous year. We as a people have passed through a great test, one we very nearly failed. This terrible year of pandemic, political chaos, and social turmoil has shocked us awake. The jagged fissures and cracks that separate us can no longer be ignored. As St. Jerome said of third century Romans, we are “ripe for redirection.” Dare we believe what Amanda Gorman declared in her riveting Inaugural poem, “that we’ve weathered and witnessed /a nation that isn’t broken/but simply unfinished?”
In the spirit of that ‘hill’ Gorman invites us to climb, the Christine Center is about to launch a new venture: Crossing the Great Divides – a pilot series of live Sunday afternoon encounters with spiritual elders (they may be 80 or 22), who bring not just expertise but the vision, wisdom, and depth we need to bridge our divisions and trailblaze a path to healing and discovery.
“We will not march back to what was/ But move to what shall be…”
Amanda Gorman, The Hill We Climb
In this first series of conversations led by celebrated public radio host, Jean Feraca, expect to hear from inspired speakers on topics of critical importance. First up, Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, who launched four tours of Nuns on the Bus as an arch champion of social justice. Next, on how to strengthen our beleaguered democracy, Parker Palmer, a devout Quaker and author of Healing the Heart of Democracy, stands like a colossus in the gap between optimism and cynicism. Last up, on the question of religion as divider and uniter, Paul Knitter, the author of Without Buddha I Could Not Be Christian, arrives as the great reconciler.
The Christine Center is offering this program in keeping with our vision of “spiritual deepening for global transformation.” What we are facing right now is a spiritual crisis. A crisis of meaning. So many of us are wrestling with the existential question, “What is mine to do?” Crossing the Great Divides is designed to help us live through that question. In the panhandle of this pandemic, we have been offered a unique opportunity to re-think, re-group, and recover. Let us not squander it. Let us begin a revolution of love. As Amanda Gorman entreats us, let us “close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must put our differences aside.”
Session & Pricing Information:
Sundays from 1pm to 2:30pm
- April 18, 2021
- May 23, 2021
- June 20, 2021
We will gather using Zoom technology. Each session will include a 45-minute conversation with our guest speaker and Jean Feraca, followed by small group breakout sessions for deepening conversation, and a final 20-minute large group dialogue.
We invite all to participate in these important dialogues, as our Franciscan heritage proclaims “All are welcome.” We are therefore offering this series with a suggested donation of $25.00 per session, or the amount that is affordable to you. Please know that we rely on your generous spirit to support our mission and continue to bring you these vital programs.
Sponsored in part by Wisconsin Public Radio
In collaboration with Jean Feraca, Celebrated NPR Radio Host and Author
Jean Feraca, Wisconsin Public Radio’s Distinguished Senior Broadcaster, was host and executive producer of Here on Earth: Radio without Borders until she retired in 2012 after a celebrated thirty year career in public radio. She won an Ohio State and Gabriel Award for her Women of Spirit radio series on female leaders in the early Christian Church, and the National Telemedia Council’s Distinguished Media Award for her radio advocacy of people with mental illness, and the 2011 Gabriel Award for Inside Islam, “Muslims, Mosques, and American Identity.” A resident of Madison, Wisconsin, she is author of three collections of poetry: South from Rome: Il Mezzogiorno, Crossing the Great Divide, and Rendered into Paradise. Jean was the recipient of the Nation’s Discovery Award and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a two-time finalist for the Pushcart Prize and a National Poetry Foundation Prize. I Hear Voices: A Memoir of Love, Death, and the Radio, was selected as the 2011 winner of the Kingery/Derleth Book-Length Nonfiction Award, sponsored by the Council for Wisconsin Writers. It was also named an Outstanding Book by the American Association of School Librarians, and one of the year’s Best Books for General Audiences by the Public Library Association.
Jean is a member of the 2022 Living School Cohort of the Center for Action and Contemplation; a Benedictine oblate of Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, Wisconsin, and a member of the Prison Ministry Project. She was named a finalist for the 2021 Athena Award by the Business Forum for her mentorship and advocacy on behalf of women.
Spring Series, Honored Guests
April 18, 2021
Sister Simone Campbell, SSS: “Mending the Gap”
Sister Simone Campbell is the Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice- a federal advocacy organization founded by Catholic Sisters to lobby in Washington, D.C. for policies that mend the gaps in income and wealth in the United States. She has led six cross-country “Nuns on the Bus” trips focused on tax justice, healthcare, economic justice, comprehensive immigration reform, voter turnout, bridging divides in politics and society, and mending the gaps. In 2020, Sister Simone led the first virtual Nuns on the Bus trip to proclaim “Who We Elect Matters.”
In 2010, Sister Simone Campbell wrote the famous “Nuns’ Letter,” considered by many as critically important in convincing Congress to support the Affordable Care Act, and is the author of “Hunger for Hope” published by Orbis Books as well as “A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community,” published by HarperCollins. She has received numerous awards, spoke at both the 2020 and 2012 Democratic National Conventions, and has appeared on 60 Minutes, The Colbert Report, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. She is a religious leader, attorney, and poet with extensive experience in public policy and advocacy for systemic change.
May 23, 2021
Parker J. Palmer: “Can Democracy be Saved?”
PARKER J. PALMER is a writer, teacher, and activist whose work speaks deeply to people in many walks of life. He is founder and Senior Partner Emeritus of the Center for Courage & Renewal. He holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley, as well as 13 honorary doctorates, 2 Distinguished Achievement Awards from the National Educational Press Association, and an Award of Excellence from the Associated Church Press. In 1998, the Leadership Project, a national survey of 10,000 educators, named him one of the 30 most influential senior leaders in higher education and one of the 10 key agenda-setters of the past decade. In 2010, he was given the William Rainey Harper Award (previously won by Margaret Mead, Marshall McLuhan, Paulo Freire, and Elie Wiesel).
In 2011, the Utne Reader named him as one of “25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World.” For two decades years, the Accrediting Commission for Graduate Medical Education has given annual Parker J. Palmer “Courage to Teach” and “Courage to Lead” Awards to directors of exemplary medical residency programs. Living the Questions: Essays Inspired by the Work and Life of Parker J. Palmer, was published in 2005. Born and raised in the Chicago area, he lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
June 20, 2021
Paul F. Knitter: “Religion: Great Unifier/Great Divider”
Paul Knitter is the Emeritus Paul Tillich Professor of Theology, World Religions, and Culture at Union Theological Seminary, New York, as well as Emeritus Professor of Theology at Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH. He received a Licentiate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome (1966) and a doctorate from the University of Marburg, Germany (1972) Since his 1985 book, No Other Name?, he has been exploring how the religious communities of the world can cooperate in promoting human and ecological well-being.
More recently, his writing and research have focused on Christian-Buddhist dialogue, which is the topic of Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian (2009) and the co-authored book with Roger Haight, S.J. Jesus and Buddha: Friends in Conversation (2015). From 1986 to 2021, with his wife Cathy Cornell, he served on the Board of Directors for CRISPAZ (Christians for Peace in El Salvador).