October 22, 2015

Dear WesleyNexus Colleague:  

“He has told you, O mortal, what is good;  and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to
love kindness,  and to walk humbly with your God?”  Micah 6:8 (NRSV)
This is a challenging verse.  It clearly states what is good and what is required.  The verbs that follow are
all action oriented: do, love and walk.  It does not say think, believe, or reflect on.  The target is on what is
good and then lays it out as broadly and as succinctly as possible.  Do justice, love kindness (or sometime
translated mercy) and walk humbly.  The problem of course is that doing justice, loving kindness and
walking humbly are too big on which to get a firm grasp.   What, how, by whom and for whom are not laid
out and though the rest of the book of Micah provides a bit of clarity, it was written over 2000 years ago
with a context profoundly different from ours.  WesleyNexus affirms the foundational importance of this
passage and seeks to provide a platform for engagement whereby one is encouraged to discover what the
world is really like and how things work by promoting science knowledge and awareness at all levels.  At
the same time the command to act is also affirmed.  By understanding of the best hard science, the best
social science and the best philosophy and theology available, provisional answers can be developed to
reach out and do justice while at the same time promoting kindness with humility.  This is the best of the
Wesleyan tradition.  Humility warns that no single, simple answer is possible or even desired.  Yet the
command remains.    
It is now three days since the world changed.  Donald Trump is our President Elect.  Many are thrilled at
the prospect of a new president and his party taking control.  Others are angry, dismayed and even
terrified.  WesleyNexus does not take a political position on which party should be in power.  But it would
be disloyal to our mission and call to fail to point out that some policies and beliefs that are being espoused
within the administration are concerning.  Two in particular need to be pointed out.  First, based on current
reports, it appears that climate change deniers will be well represented within the administration.  
WesleyNexus affirms the conclusions of the majority of climate scientists and strongly urges the necessary
action to make progress in this area.  Secondly, biological evolution is a well researched and established
model understanding how life changes over time.  The Book of Discipline (160.  Part IV - Social Principles
- I. The Natural World) affirms the authority of scientific disciplines to make claims describing the natural
world.  Biological evolution is one of those claims and this claim is understood as being complementary
with our theology.  WesleyNexus strongly affirms the Discipline but understands there is much work to be
done to communicate this message.  

This February, WesleyNexus will sponsor an Evolution Weekend program at the Mission Center of the
Baltimore-Washington Conference in Fulton, MD.  The timing could not be more urgent.  The new
administration will be in place and engagement with issues relating to climate change, feeding the planet and
the role of minorities will be front and center.  For us at WesleyNexus, this is a Micah 6:8 moment.  We
invite you all to join us and become Micah 6:8 people.    

We remain an all-volunteer organization and need support from our participants to continue our presence
on the web and to develop in-person programs.  We thank everyone who helped contribute to this effort.  
To continue our programs, we will need support from others.  As always, all funds that we collect as
donations are spent on maintaining our web presence, sponsoring programs, distributing the newsletter, and
promoting activities of other organizations within the science and religion space. You can now designate
your contribution in whole or in part to “Discovery & Faith,” our new initiative announced in September
that has a focus on developing study materials for children at the
nexus of science and religion.     All
contributions are acknowledged for tax reporting purposes either through PayPal receipt or by letter.
consider supporting us with a contribution either through the PayPal DONATE link below, or, by sending a
check to:   

WesleyNexus, Inc.  
24500 Fossen Road
Damascus, MD 20872

Thanks in advance for your support.

God Bless,

Rick, Maynard, and the rest of the
WesleyNexus Board of Directors

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WesleyNexus again sponsors Evolution Weekend Maryland in 2017

WesleyNexus looks forward to the fifth consecutive Evolution Weekend on
February 12 – Evolution Weekend which is recognized across the country with
sermon, lectures and other programs by a wide spectrum of faith communities.  
As mentioned last month, our program this year will be “
Are Our Children at Risk?
Food Insecurity, Climate Change, Racial Bias
.” It will be live-streamed and
available to individuals and groups across the world!   For United Methodists in the
Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference, we are particularly excited in having
Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, newly appointed this year as the Episcopal leader in the
National Capitol Area, as an active participant in the conversation.  Many of us have
had an opportunity to welcome Bishop Easterling in a series of district meetings where we have experienced
her energy, intelligence and commitment to the Wesleyan way of living out the Christian faith.  For those
who have not experienced her presence yet, we invite you to attend for she is truly an inspiring leader, even
for those who are not Methodist!  

We have available now a flyer with the essential information on the program which can be found
here.  We
hope you will plan to attend and invite your friends and neighbors.  

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Speaking the Language of Living Faith to a Science Culture by Jennifer Secki Shields

The Discovery & Faith program is still in the early stages of its launch and recently
I decided it was time to write a statement of faith for this new ministry. Simple,
right? I wrote the first draft and sent it to my WesleyNexus colleagues. What ensued
was deep discussion—not about science or religion, but about language and careful
parsing of words. Three drafts and much valuable input later, Discovery & Faith’s
Statement of Faith emerged.

So what does language have to do with work at the intersection of science and religious faith? Words
matter. The Bible has much to say on this. The book of James (3:5) points out that even though the tongue
is the smallest member of the body, it can do the most damage. Proverbs 18:21 says death and life are in
the power of our words. Given the decline of the Christian faith in the U.S. and the unprecedented
numbers of young people leaving our churches, one wonders if they are hearing words of life?

To read the rest of the article, click

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Sinai and Synapes

WesleyNexus has always encouraged dialogue with other faith communities
and part of our mission is to reach out and dialogue with other faiths.  Sinai
and Synapes has recently come to our attention whose mission is consistent
with ours.  Their mission is as follows:

Sinai and Synapses offers people a worldview that is both scientifically grounded and spiritually uplifting. It
provides tools and language for learning and living to the millions of people who see science as their ally as
they pursue personal growth and the repair of our world. Through classes, seminars, lectures, videos and
writings, it helps create a vision of religion that embraces critical thinking and scientific inquiry, and at the
same time, gives meaning to people’s lives and helps them make a positive impact on society.

The article “
How Should We Talk About Science and Religion?” by Rabbi Geoffrey A. Mitelman
addresses the science and religion relationship directly as it responds to a talk by Jennifer Wiseman Director
of the Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion at the American Association for the Advancement of
Science.  Of particular note is a quote by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel: “Religion for religion’s sake is
idolatry…The human side of religion, its creeds, its rituals and instructions is a way rather than the goal.
The goal is  ‘to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’ (Micah 6:8)”

The article can also be found on the Huffington Post
here.  We invite you to take a look at their website

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Charter for Compassion

Another organization that grounds its work in the imperatives of
Micah 6:8 is the Charter for Compassion.  It is an interfaith,
multi-ethnic and multi-national organization. “The principle of
compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual
traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to
work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of
our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating
everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect”.  It grew out of a February 2008
the TED prize awarded to Karen Armstrong for her wish to create, launch, and propagate a global
compassion movement based on the Golden Rule.  

You can find their very rich website

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Preparing for Public Violence by Jim Skillington

We live in a violent society.  Thousands of violent acts occur every day and we
expect the “experts” to respond to them.  But for the most part, we would like to
ignore them and live our lives.  Jim Skillington, a United Methodist minister is
executive director of the Center for Public Violence Recovery in Columbia, MD.  
In a conversation with WesleyNexus board member Rick Barr after a forum to
meet the new Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference Bishop, he identified the
crucial need for faith communities, the United Methodist Church in particular, to
take pro-active steps to be more effective in preparing for violent events that affect our communities.  We
should not expect the experts to do it all.  Just as important is to work as partners with other societal
institutions to alleviate the causes of violence.  In this article, Rev. Skillington provides a framework to
begin the discussion.  

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GC2016: The impact of climate change by Linda Bloom

For many United Methodists, taking care of the planet is not just a matter of
“going green.”As reflected in petitions to General Conference, the denomination’s
top legislative body, the church is moving beyond the still-needed practices of
recycling and household energy conservation to larger public policy issues related
to fuel consumption and the impact of “business as usual” on global climate change.

The rest of the article can be found

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What Science Taught Me About Compassion, Gratitude and Awe by Dacher Keltner

“Dacher Keltner delivered an address at an Awakin Circle in Santa Clara, CA this
year.  As a world renowned psychologist and researcher, Dacher is credited with
expanding the field of science to include emotions like compassion, gratitude, and
awe. As the author of many books and over 100 papers, he has offered thought
leadership that can shift our cultural narrative towards kindness and care. As an
adviser to companies like Facebook, he has applied his research into systemic
implementations. As the founder of Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley,
he has started many projects that put these insights into the societal circulation.  
His most recent course on 'Science of Happiness' has been taken by 360 thousand students”.  While
Keltner does not focus on the Judeo-Christian faith in this very personal article, his three pronged approach
touches on many issues relevant to living out the Micah 6:8 command.  The article can be found

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Overwhelmed by Awe by Andrew Tix

In general, awe may be one of the most spiritually significant emotions that humans
experience. And understanding and cultivating awe may be one of the keys to
Christian formation.  So states Andrew Tix, Ph.D. who  teaches in the Psychology
and Religious Studies programs at Normandale Community College in Bloomington,
Minnesota.  This article is written from an explicitly Judeo-Christian perspective
but pulls together insights from social science research and tradition.  While a short,
economical piece, it contains numerous links to other articles.  The author closes
with the following poem from Michael Yaconelli’s book
Dangerous Wonder:

Tameness is not an option. Take surprise out of faith and all that is left
is dry and dead religion. Take away mystery from the Gospel and all that
is left is frozen and petrified dogma. Lose your awe of God and you are
left with an impotent Deity. Abandon astonishment and you are left with meaningless piety.

The article can be found here.  

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Conflict Between Science, Religion Lies in our Brains

Summary: “The conflict between science and religion may have its origins in the
structure of our brains. To believe in a supernatural god or universal spirit, people
appear to suppress the brain network used for analytical thinking and engage the
empathetic network. When thinking analytically about the physical world, people
appear to do the opposite.”  

The article can be found

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True Breakthroughs Become Part of The Culture by Lisa Randall

Lisa Randall is a physicist at Harvard University and the author of a number of popular
books including
Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness
of the Universe
.  In the article linked below, Randall responds to the Annual Question
posed by Edge.org.  Each year Edge.org asks dozens of intellectuals, mostly of a secular
bent, to answer a very broad, probing questions.  The 2016 question is: “
”   Randall’s response is a bit different from most.  
In this time of rapid scientific discoveries when something significant seems to happen
every month if not every week, true importance is not necessarily measured by the impact on science
proper but on how an idea slips into the broader culture.  These ideas have staying power.  With that in
mind, she identifies a number of discoveries that she thinks will stay current in the coming years.  For those
who participate in the science and religion discussion, these may well become the focus on where science
and religion discussions meet in the next few years.  You can read the article

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Why America’s ‘nones’ left religion behind by Michael Lipka

“Perhaps the most striking trend in American religion in recent years has been the growing percentage of
adults who do not identify with a religious group. And the vast majority of these religious “nones” (78%)
say they were raised as a member of a particular religion before shedding their religious identity in

You can read the full article

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Wesley's Notes on Micah 6:8

[8] He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly,
and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
He — God hath already told you in his word, with what you ought to come before him.
To do justly — To render to every one their due, superiors, equals, inferiors, to be equal to all, and
oppress none, in body, goods or name; in all your dealings with men carry a chancery in your own beasts,
and do according to equity.
To love mercy — To be kind, merciful and compassionate to all, not using severity towards any.
Walk humbly with thy God — Keep up a constant fellowship with God, by humble, holy faith.

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Love in All Things by Scott Fulton, Words by Rick Barr

This is a time of thanksgiving and gratitude for the many blessings found in life.  The link below plays a
song written nearly twenty years ago in response to the simple Wesleyan admonition to treat all with charity
and live with gratitude.    

Bless you all and happy Thanksgiving.  

Love in All Things can be found here.  
November 24, 2016