Thursday, March 26, 2009

Convention: Day 2

Morning Greeters
The scholarship students were put right to work helping register the RCC members in the hotel lobby. It was a great time to meet people who had traveled all over the country (and Canada, too) to be part of this conference. The Boston RCC chapter was in charge of registration, so while helping out I got to meet Sister Joanne, of the Sisters of St. Joseph. She's the Director of Communications for the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brighton, Mass. Coincidentally, two of my aunts (former nuns) were part of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Kalamazoo, Mich. in the '50s and '60s! In conversing with Sister Joanne, I discovered she is one high-tech nun. She has her own blog!

Opening Keynote Speaker
Dr. Richard Parker started off the 80th Anniversary of RCC with a few words of wisdom. He is the co-founder of Mother Jones, a publication known for "smart, fearless journalism." Parker is Episcopalian, though his wife is Jewish. In speaking on the theme "Identity Amid Diversity," Parker said the challenge lies in giving meaning to the message, rather than just trying to sell it. "Everything is about winning," Parker said. "We forget about actually playing the game." He described religion as being playful, engaging - giving a sense of community and belonging. "Religion is in itself a reward," Parker said. Parker's comments echoed a theme I continue to hear at my church, Common Ground (Indianapolis, Ind.): The battle between Jesus and Consumerism. Essentially, people today are looking for something to fulfill them. Most turn to "things" which, as the Bible states, are of this world and will pass away. The only thing that lasts is faith. It is our job, as faith communicators, to see how to best capture our audience, not because we are pushing a brand, but because personal faith means so much to us that we can't help but share it with others.

Mentor Time
Following the keynote speaker, I finally had the chance to meet my mentor, Shirley Paulson. She is a Christian Science speaker, and talks to Chicago-area seminaries about the Christian Science denomination. She also has a blog, Spirituality and Christianity, which explores questions of spirituality, and discusses how faith can be used to heal. We discussed the challenges of being a journalists and having a blog (no kidding!). We both agreed it is hard to find the balance of talking about faith and being sensitive about it, too. I am looking forward to learning more about Shirley and her work.

Dinner & Divinity
For dinner, several of the other students and myself headed to the mall for the Cheesecake Factory. I opened our meal in prayer, and then got to talk more in-depth with my peers. John told me about his involvement with the United Methodist Church. He grew up in a more rural UMC in Michigan, and is looking to do some pastoral work in the future. Sarai is currently at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill. She has boldly gone forth to create her own self-designed curriculum in media ministry. Tiffany goes to school right in the area - at Harvard Divinity School. It was interesting to learn about seminary and why these students chose to pursue it. 

"Reel Bad Arabs"
Anytime you mix religion and politics, you're likely to spark some discussion. And discuss we did, following a viewing of the documentary "Reel Bad Arabs" by Dr. Jack Shaheen. It was an engaging film that looked at how films, since the early Hollywood days, has villianized Arabs and Muslims. 


Joanne Gallagher, csj said...

Dear Meg,
I was surprised and delighted to wake up, check my email, and find your blog post in my google news blog alerts. I didn't get to write last evening but some of what you say overlaps what I was going to say. So when I write about the conference, I will link it to your blog as well. I'm not sure I'm as high-tech as the credit you give me but thank you for linking to my blog. It was good to meet you yesterday. Joanne

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