What did HOME teach you?


Did you know that over 40 events took place during our 2016 Spirit and Place festival? We were also proud to present five Signature Events: The Dog Ate My Homework featuring a newly commissioned spoken word piece by Tony Styxx, An Evening with Elizabeth Strout  in partnership with the Butler University Visiting Writers Series, the ambitious Side-by-Side programming with Roberts Park UMC, and the 21st Annual Public Conversation hosted by our official 2016 venue partner, Indiana Landmarks.

Even more, nine additional events have been recognized this year for exemplifying the values that make the Spirit & Place Festival special!

Spirit & Place represents a collaboration of congregations, cultural institutions, universities and colleges, schools, civic groups, museums, etc. We’re always seeking to improve, and your feedback at our events is sincerely appreciated.

Take a look at what you had to say about this year’s Festival on Storify:
[View the story “Spirit & Place 2016” on Storify]

Guest Post: At Home Everywhere on Earth

By Carol Johnston Carol.Johnston

CTS Director of Lifelong Theological Education

A few years ago I met an African American boy who had lived in a high-crime neighborhood all his life and whose home was hardly less chaotic than the streets. He was participating in a meeting at a large wealthy church where almost everyone present was white. A place far from his own “home.”  Yet, though in an alien place surrounded by white strangers, he was completely unintimidated.  He spoke without hesitation and asked some of the most insightful questions of anyone at the meeting.

This young man had been mentored at the Kheprw Institute where he had experienced a sense of “home” that was about being seen for the gifted human being he is. He had been encouraged to develop and share his gifts. He’d also been taught to view the earth as his home—a place to be embraced and cared for. As a consequence, he carried a sense of “home” inside him and could be “at home” wherever he went.

From a faith perspective, I would assert that this young man has been nurtured in a healthy spirituality—one that had helped him realize wherever he lives, it is infused with a divine presence and care that can be accessed.

When this experience of home is present, you discover divine care is present everywhere. Wherever life takes you, you can carry the sense of security of home inside you.

Most faith traditions affirm that the whole of creation is home because the world and everything in it, including each of us, is infused with the loving care of the Creator. As the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning puts it, “Earth is crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God.”

This is the reason people of every faith are trying to wake us up to the danger of environmental destruction, especially climate change. We believe that the Earth is our home, and that it is imperative for the sake of all life to care for it.

We are working to help shift ways of life that work against nature’s creativity and endanger all life to ways of life that learn from the divine wisdom embedded in nature and work with it for the benefit of all. My Christian faith affirms that the whole Earth is the sacred realm of divine creativity and love, and that we are all loved, gifted, and interrelated in this web of life.

Whenever and wherever any of us can experience this love and affirmation of our gifts, and affirm the same for others, we are doing the work of creating home for each other. This fThen we can be at home everywhere, and join in the work of healing and repairing “this fragile earth, our island home,” as an Episcopal prayer puts it.

Sacred Play

By Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, Congregation Beth-El Zedeck

The holy is serious stuff, not something to be taken lightly. We more often associate religion with solemnity than with play.  Yet, Jewish tradition teaches that we will be held accountable for every permissible pleasure we are given to enjoy and do not enjoy.  According to the ancient rabbis, jesters have a portion in the world-to-come because they make people laugh.

“No matter how busy we are, we are to set aside a day for leisure. We take a deep breath, let go, let be and play. It is not a friendly suggestion; it is a divine commandment.”

Joyfulness is a virtue.  At the heart of spiritual life is playfulness.  Ecclesiastes teaches: “there is a season set for everything, a time for every purpose under heaven”.  Among those seasons, “there is a time for weeping and a time for laughing”.  The Hebrew word translated as “laughing’ (‘s’hok) is also the word for “play”.  Ecclesiastes reminds us – sacred time should include play.

That is the purpose of Sabbath.  No matter how busy we are, we are to set aside a day for leisure.  We take a deep breath, let go, let be and play.  It is not a friendly suggestion; it is a divine commandment.

“Religion at its very best celebrates the redemptive power of play.”

Ritual and liturgy are forms of play.  In the Jewish tradition we know that lighting candles doesn’t magically change ordinary into sacred time, Friday night into Sabbath, but we act as if it does.  We know that words of prayer don’t actually make wine and bread sacred or bring peace, but we act as if they might.  Through the power of creative play and imagination, somehow, they do.

Alice McDermott taught that “fiction is a lie that remakes the world”.  When children delight in fairy tales they are able to scale mountains, scare away monsters and defeat giants.  Through story they play out their fears and learn that they can remake their world.

What might that mean for religion?  Not all faith narratives depict historical events; they are not meant to be taken literally.  Yet they have the power to allow us to face our fears, overcome them and remake the world.

When Jews sit around the Passover table and reenact the Exodus story, we say that we too were slaves in Egypt and were redeemed.  When we celebrate the giving of the Ten Commandments, we too stand at Sinai.  This is sacred imagination, a form of play.  We imagine the world as it might be and then commit to make it so.

Religion at its very best celebrates the redemptive power of play.

Join us November 2-11 at the 17th annual Spirit & Place Festival as we explore the silly and serious dimensions of PLAY in our community

All the Crazy Parts

By Callie Smith, Program Manager for Lifelong Theological Education, Christian Theological Seminary

One of my most memorable dates happened at a seafood restaurant. I’d never eaten lobster, and it was obvious. I coped by being playful: cracking jokes, acting silly. My date chimed in, and we were having a great time. Then my hand slipped. Food flew right into his face. Even when the rest of the food had dropped down to the table and floor, he still had one damp kernel of corn stuck to his forehead. Believe it or not, we got a laugh out of that, too. Believe it or not, he even asked me out again.

“Playfulness can redeem just about anything. Imperfections and mistakes are okay when we’re playing.”

Sometimes I think that playfulness can redeem just about anything. Imperfections and mistakes are okay when we’re playing. Children at play are learning and getting new experiences. We give them space to fumble. When adults do things in a playful spirit, we give each other permission to fumble, too.

“There’s a certain playfulness among people who come together with all the crazy parts of our lives and try to figure out how we’re going to live with ourselves and with each other.”

Willingness to run with imperfection is one thing I love about playfulness, and it’s something I love about spirituality, too. For all the rules and regulations we may associate with organized religion, my experience with people of faith is that a lot of us are coming together to figure out how to handle life. Mistakes, conflicts, suffering, the curve balls that surprise and frustrate us – there are so many things in life that would never in a million years count as “right.” Yet, there’s a certain playfulness among people who come together with all the crazy parts of our lives and try to figure out how we’re going to live with ourselves and with each other: neighbors, strangers, and even the divine.

I suspect this 17th year of the Spirit & Place Festival will be my favorite one yet since the entire week of November 2 – 11, 2012 will be devoted to the theme of ‘Play.’ On November 3rd, it will be our pleasure at Christian Theological Seminary to welcome Carrie Newcomer, Phil Gulley, Scott Russell Sanders and Krista Detor for the show Miracles, Myths, Lyrics and Lies, a humorous study in story and song of the playful side of spirituality. Believe me: between now and then, I’ll be doing my best to live up to this year’s theme!

The Playful God


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By Dr. Lewis F. Galloway, Senior Pastor, Second Presbyterian Church My grandparents were wonderful loving people who devoted much time and attention to their five grandchildren.  They took us on outings to introduce us to the new things going on … Continue reading