Friday, September 22, 2017

Adam Hamilton, Part One

I'm thrilled to be joined in this first of two podcasts with my friend, Rev. Adam Hamilton, who serves as the senior pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, KS ( Pastor Adam has been named one of the "Ten People to Watch in America’s Spiritual Landscape" by Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, served on President Barack Obama’s advisory council on faith-based and neighborhood partnerships, and is the author of several books, including his best-selling Making Sense of the Bible. In this first of two podcasts, Adam and I discuss one of his earlier books and upcoming 2018 sermon series, Christianity and World Religions.

This conversation was especially fun for me, as Pastor Adam and I spent two years recording and producing weekly videos for YouTube, found HERE. This time, instead of being behind the camera, it was a treat to be part of the conversation with my wise friend and pastor.

Link on iTunes:

Link on Stitcher:

0:00 Why are there so many different religions?
2:40 Introduction to Pastor Adam Hamilton
3:32 How is God at work in other religions?
6:00 Thoughts on miracles
8:07 Pluralism: Are all religions the same?
11:29 Exclusivism: Does salvation depend on a one-time prayer?
14:35 Inclusivism: Is God’s mercy and love wider than we imagine?
19:10 Is the point of Christianity where we’ll go in the afterlife?
22:05 Are our answers to these questions a reflection on God, or on us?
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this conversation in a separate podcast.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Brook Allred: Mormonism

Brook Allred joins me today for The Lift Podcast's "Year of Faiths" series to discuss her faith with American roots: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, popularly called Mormonism. Brook is the Relief Society President of the Olathe KS stake, which oversees 11 congregations, or wards. Brook is married with two sons, and in the past has worked at the General Relief Society Office for the LDS Church in Salt Lake City, Utah. Relief Society is the largest women’s organization in the world, comprising nearly seven million members. I appreciate Brook's openness and willingness to explain the basic beliefs of the LDS faith, and dispel some misconceptions.

As I've spent the past month of my "Year of Faiths" journey learning more about the LDS faith (reading the Book of Mormon, abstaining from coffee and alcohol, attending a local "ward", visiting with missionaries and practicing daily scripture reading and Family Home Evening), I've come to especially appreciate its commitment to strengthening families and building community in a world that seems increasingly lonely and disconnected. Though we have different theologies and beliefs about many tenets of Christianity, I have been enriched by my study of the LDS Church, its practical application to life, and its many good people.
Photo credit:

Link on iTunes:

Link on Stitcher:

In this episode:
0:00 Close-knit community among a culture of loneliness
1:44 Introduction to Relief Society President, Brook Allred
2:53 Brook’s family and faith background
4:21 Basic beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
5:14 LDS Church’s similarities & differences with other Christian traditions
6:36 The Book of Mormon
9:30 Stocking two years’ worth of food and provisions: Emergency Preparedness and the LDS faith
11:02 LDS Missions
14:37 The LDS Church’s emphasis on strong families
18:01 How Brook feels the guidance of God/Spirit
19:56 The Mormon Temple
22:07 Beliefs about the afterlife & premortal life
26:27 Genealogy and baptism for the dead
27:46 The LDS women’s Relief Society and role of women

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Aneesah Dawan: The Global Woman

My guest today, Aneesah Dawan, is a public speaker, motivator and Islamic religious leader who focuses on the feminine voice in scripture to the benefit of humankind. Aneesah studied philosophy and religion at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, criminal justice at the University of Houston-Downtown and Arabic & Islamic studies at Abu Noor University in Damascus, Syria. Aneesah's perspective was thought-provoking and still has me pondering the interplay between the masculine and feminine in scripture and the universe.
Link on iTunes:

Link on Stitcher:

In this podcast episode:
0:00: Reading the signs in the world & scripture
1:45 Introduction to Aneesah Dawan
2:29 “The Global Woman”
4:11 Aneesah’s understanding of the masculine & feminine in the Qu’ran
10:28 A reading from the Qu’ran (sung in Arabic)
13:55 Translation of Qu'ranic recitation
18:03 Closing

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sheila Sonnenschein on Judaism

Sheila Sonnenschein recently joined me on the podcast to talk about Judaism. Sheila is a speaker, writer and leader in the Jewish and interfaith communities in Kansas City. She and her husband are the founders of the Mitzvah Garden which produces food for the needy, and started the Table to Table program for the Kosher food pantry, Yachad. Sheila is active in Salaam/Shalom, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the Crescent Peace Society, from whom she received the Peace Award. Her work in racial justice has earned her the Heart of Gold for Racial Justice award through the YWCA, and she continues to build bridges – to people of other faiths and to the poor and marginalized, including refugees. Sheila’s family graciously hosted me this year for the most sacred meal of the Jewish faith, the Passover Seder, an experience I’ll forever treasure.

In this episode:
0:00 The Jewish faith and immigrants
2:37 Introduction for Sheila Sonnenschein
3:39 Sheila’s faith growing up
5:35 Judaism & community
6:33 Beliefs about life after death
7:29 How Judaism makes the world better & Tikkun Olam
8:48 Feeling God’s presence – tragedy, nature, synchronicity
11:37 Israel’s meaning for Jewish people
13:20 Antisemitism, solidarity & Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom (contact theory)
16:09 History of persecution & how it’s shaped the Jewish people
21:09 The Passover Seder
25:13 Reformed, Conservative and Orthodox traditions in Judaism
27:33 The Jewish holy books & how Sheila approaches scripture
30:50 Conversations between generations (patriarchs AND matriarchs)

31:34 Sheila recites the Sh’ma

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Br. Paul Quenon & Thomas Merton

I recently made a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Gethsemani, a monastery in Trappist, KY, to sit down with Br. Paul Quenon – poet, author and novice of perhaps the most influential American contemplative and monastic writer of the twentieth century, Thomas Merton. Br. Paul was a gracious host who invited me to None (afternoon prayers), a visit to Merton’s hermitage and a tour of the grounds, and then loaded my arms with several boxes and varieties of his homemade fudge (a true penance in the thick of Lent!). Ora et labora: prayer and fudge.

The memory of this day with Br. Paul - reciting poetry, recalling the lives of saints and sharing stories about his beloved novice master (one of my spiritual heroes) - is one I’ll never forget.

Learn more about Br. Paul Quenon and read his wonderful poems at And if you haven’t read Merton, I’d suggest you start HERE with his #1 bestseller and autobiography, Seven Storey Mountain.

In this episode:
0:00 How Thomas Merton experienced God
2:23 Introduction to Br. Paul Quenon
3:01 How Br. Paul became a monk at Gethsemani
3:52 How do you experience God?
4:49 On mystical experience & apophatic spirituality
6:21 What was Merton like?
8:05 Merton’s interfaith work
9:42 How do we build bridges in the spirit of Merton?

11:42 Union with God & other lessons from Merton