Meet the God Squad, the brains behind our series “Faith, Food, Friday: Improbable conversations for people of faith and no faith at all (because talking politics wasn’t hard enough). We hope you’ll join us as we explore what happens when people of good will who might not agree cross each others’ thresholds and break a little bread together. Whoever you are, whatever your beliefs, bring an open mind, an open heart (and an empty stomach) for a continuing conversation on the two topics your mother taught you to never broach in polite company. Faith, Food, Friday is $8 if you register through the Tuesday ahead of each program ($10 after) and free if you’d like to bring your own lunch (or not eat).
Florida State University’s football coaching legend Bobby Bowden no doubt left his mark on the game. But here in his hometown, we know that the deepest impact might have been because of the man he was — “football, faith, and family.” We’ll pay tribute to him, “dadgummit.”
Everything has become political, high conflict and seemingly inescapable as the electromagnetic suck of angry politics forces us to be either “us” or “them,” when most of us would rather do nothing of the sort. We’ll look for higher ground together.
It’s really easy to be in touch right now with the dark side of human nature that’s been so thoroughly highlighted through the pandemic, but is there something else to see? Maybe transcendence, empathy and heroic self-sacrifice?
As the political landscape has devolved into a Mad Max hellscape of blame and retribution (and sometimes even worse), can we find a way to wrestle up a little empathy for our fellow human, even the ones who we don’t agree with?
Given the dangerous rise of political extremism in America, it’s well past time we stopped wagging our fingers and do a bit of soul searching of our own about why our society is producing so many citizens unmoored from the connections that support moderation.
Meet “The Skeptics,” a DIY lay version of “God Squad” (a Catholic, a Mormon, a Protestant, and an atheist) who have forged deep friendships by gathering regularly to discuss spiritual topics in a respectful manner where disagreement is both welcomed and appreciated. They’ll let us in on an hour of their private conversation.
A conversation bound and determined to transcend everything around us now. We’re going to leave behind all the recriminations about how we got here or whose fault it is for a single golden hour to just be human together. No politics, just people. Bring your lunch and your forgiveness. (Also wish us luck.)
America’s hardcore polar political opposites seem to have something striking in common — they evoke a blind, unquestioning faith that feels like religion run amok, each complete with Original Sin, rituals and dogma (and, notably, many swift excommunications). Conversation predicted to include whining about social media.
….but gosh…who doesn’t like free ice cream after a day at public school? We thought the holiday season might be just the time of year to walk a mile in the shoes of minority faith traditions, as they navigate both the yuletide season and the public institutions they share with the broader predominantly Christian culture around them.
In celebration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, we’ll begin 2021 with an important conversation about one of the most iconic and impactful writings in American history. We’ll talk about its prophetic wisdom and its application to our realities of race in America today.
Cancel culture is now part of a new world driven by social media and practiced from American college campuses to the halls of power in Washington, D.C. by none other than the 45th President of the United States. If your opinion doesn’t conform, you’re not only exiled but life as you know it could be over. (More whining about social media.)
America is awash right now in conspiracy theories, a phenomena that thrives when anxiety and isolation is high (uh, now). Conspiratorial thinking has found its most fertile ground in all of human history in the dark (and ever-expanding) corners of the internet — throw in a pandemic, a hostile foreign power or two and they may be here to stay.
As much as it’s hard to take our eyes off of Washington lately, ultimately it’s neighbors like us in hometowns like this one who decide who we are to each other. We’ll get The Fab Five out of their summer sabbaticals to talk the Catholic principle of “subsidiarity” – doing good work closest to the people – and consider our local power to heal the growing national divide.
We all know we’ve got a problem in Tallahassee — we’re economically, geographically and racially too far apart from each other. Too often the costs of this separation is ignored, avoided and goes unspoken. As usual, God Squad will defy the tendency to ignore what’s right in front of us in the lives we live together and dive right in.
People of faith in America feel besieged by a secularized culture and see their basic freedom to practice as threatened. Enter “The Benedict Option” – the idea that Christians need to separate themselves further from the culture around them. Whether or not you’re someone who sees a building threat to religious freedom, what cost is there to our communities with further separation?
America’s politics have turned tribal and poisonous. Measures of connectedness across society are on the decline, and extremism — and violence — is on the rise. The recent increase in anti-Semitic violence in “the living memory of the Holocaust” (after a century of education to prevent it) is likely an indicator that our society is deeply unhealthy.
The tragic events of the last week have devastated an already polarized country. As we head into a divisive election we seem to lack the capacity to be together even in times of national grief and trauma. So we’ve asked the God Squad to provide some much-needed perspective in this storm. Whether you’re a God Squad regular or you’ve never been, we hope you’ll join us.
Ben Franklin wrote about 13 virtues that develop character. We thought it might be past time to take stock of how we’re living into them – we’re guessing there’s some room for improvement? (The Village Square is partnering with 92Y to offer host Ben Franklin Circles all year. Contact Liz for more info.)
Sociologist Emile Durkheim pioneered the concept of anomie – when the bonds between individuals and society begin to break. Occurring in times of rapid societal change, it’s a cause of the kind of alienation and purposelessness on the rise today – and may contribute to opioid use, suicide and even gun violence.
Eight years of God Squad and we haven’t once expected song. To immediately address this, God Squad is going to Broadway!! From South Pacific to Avenue Q to (uh, of course) Wicked, we’ll dive into the moral lessons that are possibly most powerfully conveyed with jazz hands and while wearing tap shoes. Virtues, vice and costume – it’s all there. (Photo credit.)
God Squad began over a breakfast meeting between Jack Romberg and St. John’s Dave Killeen. Almost 70 gatherings (and so many friendships) later, we’ll say goodbye to Jack as he heads to NYC. Help us send him off in style with a topic of his choice. You’ll find out the topic on April 5 exactly when The Squad does!
It’s almost as if the Washington political class knew our fall launch God Squad topic, since the din of media polarization has never been on more full display than it’s been this last summer. We seem to be living in two parallel universes without a common understanding of anything – no wonder there’s a problem. Past time to call in the God Squad!
In this polarized environment, are we allowing our commitment to our political ideology overrule our professed commitment to certain faith-based moral convictions? If forced to choose, do we side with our political tribe and rationalize away any moral conflicts that might create?
After a tragedy, people will say that those affected are in their “thoughts and prayers.” In the digital age, we promote social media awareness through a hashtag (e.g., #prayforparis). How can we genuinely express our faith, especially through public prayer, even in a religiously diverse setting?
We’ll be looking at everything from “safe spaces” to “trigger warnings” in light of the freedom of speech. How can we have a diverse society if we’re not confronted with opposing viewpoints, even if they seem mean-spirited?
At FSU’s Club Downunder! As bad manners and ill-tempers replace conversations of substance and charges of “hate speech” sprout like crabgrass on an un-mowed lawn, we seem to be in a societal-wide spitting match about just who is the most tediously offended.
Shortly before his assassination, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King offered us this stark warning on race: “Together we must learn to live together as brothers or together we will be forced to perish as fools.” Tragically, over half a century later, race in America is arguably a more divisive topic than in most of our memories.
The tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas first gripped the nation as it broke our hearts, now it’s taken a hold of our political debate and already made tectonic shifts in it. Marjory Stoneman Douglas teacher Ernie Rospierski, who was grazed by 2 bullets, will join our panel that day. You won’t want to miss this special 90 minute program. (Photo: Bob Howard)
No issue has more deeply and durably divided us than abortion. Is there a way to step outside of the political anger and move the needle on abortion rates together? And in this roiling political climate and the substantial changes on the Supreme Court, what happens if Roe is overturned? (Creative Commons photo credit.)