This is a weekly program that airs on Michigan NPR affiliates WGVU and WGVK. These 2 stations cover the entire western portion of the state. The show is hosted by Fred Stella, President of Interfaith Dialogue Association, an affiliate of Kaufman Interfaith Institute, which operates out of Grand Valley State University, the owner of WGVU. Each week Fred invites clerics, authors, activists and the occasional mystic into conversation about the role of spirituality and religion in politics, world affairs, societies and individuals. The parameters are quite wide. Besides his passion for all things transcendent, Fred Stella has an extensive resume in the world of media. Beginning professionally as a DJ in Detroit radio, Fred has worked in newstalk radio, TV, stage, web entertainment and more. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The Heresy of Jacob Frank Parts 1 & 2
55:48As I mention in my introduction, I've got a soft spot in my heart for heretics. They tend to be colorful characters with a story to tell. Well, Jacob Frank was no exception. These episodes explore this visionary/cult leader/misbegotten messiah/iconoclast. Seriously. Listen to these conversations with brilliant theologian Jay Michaelson. You'll thank me later.
East Winds: A Global Quest to Reconcile Marriage Parts 1 & 2
55:40Remember back in the day when almost from birth a girl was groomed to become a wife? If so, I'm impressed that you're still alive, because I'm pretty old myself, and I have only the vaguest memories of that world. But in certain cultures this still stands. In these episodes with author Rachel Rueckert, we discuss the challenges of growing up in the LDS with an almost absolute expectation that marriage & motherhood are pretty much the only options in front of you. Rachel offers a very thoughtful personal history of her life, and how she has met and continues to challenge the status quo--all while navigating a successful marriage. Hear how the old Mormon tradition of polygamy still influences the religion today.
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Interfaith Marriage: Jumping the Hurdles Parts 1 & 2
57:26Sociologists tell us that marriages tend to be more successful when certain commonalities are present. Religion is one of them. But we all know that marrying outside of one's faith is much more commonplace than in the days of yore. So how do we navigate such unions? One way is to have honest conversations about the challenges that might erupt between spouses. And things that weren't even considered when planning a wedding all of a sudden require attention when children enter the picture. In these 2022 episodes we discuss these matters with the author of "Interfaith Shaadi." Dilip Amin has been counseling couples of different religions for decades now. His approach is sympathetic, but he does not shy away from the realities of family life when religious concerns appear.
Deep Contyemplation in the Time of Covid Parts 1 & 2
56:52There is something special about having access to the private correspondence between thoughtful, literate and spiritually evolved individuals. Mark Taylor and Jack Miles are 2 such people. During the Covid lockdown they wrote to one another regularly. Their insights into religion, politics, life, death and everything in between are compelling and thought provoking. These letters appear in the book A Friendship in Twilight: Lockdown Conversations on Death and Life. In these 2022 episodes we chat with Dr. Miles about this armchair adventure. Listen & Learn.I did.
Shambala Buddhism Parts 1 & 2
56:56Once again, I find an ancient cassette tape of 2 episodes we broadcasted back in the early days. I have no idea of when we did these, but surely sometime between 2000-2006. And keep in mind that our guest is local, and discusses meditation sanghas here in West Michigan. Any phone numbers or websites shared are not current. But the insights Robert Walker shares here are worthy of being shared all these years later.
Black Theology Through the Ages Parts 1 & 2
59:58Longtime listeners will recall how I have been posting hundreds of episodes from the past 20+ years that were on cassette tapes stored in my basement. I thought I was done, but have stumbled across a few more. These are a couple of those. I'm thrilled to have found them, as this conversation with Dr. Dwight Hopkins, who does such a great job of explaining what has come to be known as "Black Theology." I can't recommend these conversations enough.
Leaving Islam Parts ! & 2
53:46Some people just walk away from their faiths of birth with no hard feelings. They just...stop. No issues, no problems. But some religions or denominations do make it a challenge. And leaving can have significant challenges. In the past we've exposed the hard work that many who have left Jewish Hasidim communities have had to do as they attempt to reenter mainstream society. In these 2 episodes we speak with Yasmine Mohammed, the educator and author who currently lives in Canada. She challenges both conservative Muslims and those non-Muslims who are afraid to condemn the anti-liberal values of Wahabism in fear of being labeled Islamophobic. One of the most powerful stories told on Common Threads.
exploring the moral impact of movies parts 1 & 2
56:49Carl Plantinga is a professor of film and media at Calvin University, where he has taught since 2000. Carl's books include ‘Screen Stories: Emotion and the Ethics of Engagement;’ ‘Moving Viewers: American Film and the Spectator’s Experience; and Rhetoric and Representation in Nonfiction Film.’ He also co-edited ‘The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film’ and ‘Passionate Views: Film, Cognition, and Emotion.’ Plantinga is the past president of the Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image and is also an editorial board member of Projections: The Journal for Movies and Mind.
The Story of the Yazidis Parts 1 & 2
54:56Most of us have never heard of the ancient people known as the Yazidis. It has been only in recent times since the invasion of ISIS that resulted an unmerciful slaughter of so many. Houman Oliaei is a scholar at Kalamazoo College who has lived in Yazidi communities both in the USA and the Middle East. He provides an excellent history, including the theology and culture, of this remarkably resilient people.