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ORICL - Oak Ridge Institute for Continued Learning

500      All Ye That Labor:  A History of Relations between Labor and Religion in the U.S.

holding handsReligious traditions in this country have long addressed the need for economic justice, respect, and dignity in the workplace.  Historically, oppression of workers has been seen as an insult to human dignity and an affront to God.

The story of Moses and the struggle to liberate the Israelites from their Egyptian slave-masters has inspired some of the world's great freedom struggles, including the U.S. civil rights and labor movements.

Many are conflicted about the role of these movements in U.S. society. Some people of faith are employers, and religious bodies own institutions such as hospitals and schools that employ hundreds or thousands of workers.  People have heard stories about labor movements, and many others know little about labor organizations or how they came to be and how they operate. Often forgotten and unknown is the long history of workers' organizations and faith traditions that defend the dignity and livelihoods of working men and women.

This course will examine that history of religious advocacy for economic justice in the U.S.

Jim Sessions is a United Methodist minister who has lived and worked in Southern Appalachia for over forty years serving as executive director during that time of several social and economic justice organizations: Southern Appalachian Ministry, Southerners for Economic Justice, the Commission on Religion in Appalachia, the Highlander Research and Education Center, and the Union Community Fund of the AFL-CIO, as well as program  director of the Children’s Defense Fund’s national training center: Alex Haley Farm.  He is the founding president of the Working America Education Fund, acting chair of the National Employment Law Project, is a founding director of the national board of Interfaith Worker Justice. Prior to those years he was a chaplain at several universities: Princeton, Drew, Brown, Harvard, and MIT.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Southern Methodist University, a Bachelor of Divinity from Drew University, and a Master of Sacred Theology from Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

Nine sessions:  Tuesdays, 11:00 a.m. - 12:10 p.m., September 23, 30, October 7, 14, 21, 28, November 4, 11 and 18

501 Quakers (Religious Society of Friends)Quaker sign

Do they still exist?  Yes! In different ways than in the beginning but still considered a peculiar people. Formed in England during the time of the English civil war and religious persecution, Quakers are now in the world, “not of it”.  We will review the historical beginnings, their influence on various aspects of political and commercial life in the U.S. and look briefly at their non-creedal belief(s).

Sharon Annis is a retired RN, who has been a resident of Oak Ridge for 45 years. She is a convinced Friend and a member of West Knoxville Monthly Meeting.  She has served on various regional and national Friends orginizations’ committees.  She taught Childbirth Education Classes for 14 years and served as an adjunct professor of clinical nursing for Roane State.

Three sessions:  Tuesdays, 9:30 - 10:40 a.m., November 25, December 2 and 9

502 Jesus through the Lens of First Century Judaism

JesusOne of the major charges posed against scholars of the Jesus Seminar concerns the lengths to which they supposedly go in disassociating Jesus from his roots within the faith tradition into which he was born. True, the scholars liken Jesus to roving first century Cynic philosophers on the one hand and to the itinerant healers of the mystery religions on the other; and true, the scholars do seek to distinguish the historical Jesus from the church’s overlay of Hebrew scripture and tradition in telling Jesus’ story and interpreting his significance. Yet, in keeping with the thrust of scholarship over the last several decades, the scholars also go to considerable lengths to situate Jesus specifically within the context of the swirling currents and tensions of the tradition into which he was born.

This class will give attention to the findings of those engaged in the Seminar as well as others, including recent assessments of Jesus by scholars viewing him from within the Jewish tradition. Although no text will be required for the course, class members may be interested in securing a copy of Beatrice Bruteau, ed., Jesus through Jewish Eyes: Rabbis and Scholars Engage an Ancient Brother in a New Conversation and/or Mary C. Boys, Has God Only One Blessing? Judaism as a Source of Christian Self-Understanding.

Carolyn Dipboye holds a PhD in Christian ethics from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.  She served as an adjunct professor of courses in ethics and religion at Southern Seminary and Bellarmine College in Louisville, Carson-Newman, and Tennessee Wesleyan.  She published articles on ethics and biblical studies and is the author of Women of Faith and currently serves as a pastor of Grace Covenant Church.

Five sessions:  Wednesdays, 11:00 a.m. - 12:10 p.m., September 24, October 1, 8, 15 and 22

503 Counting God:  The Formation of the Trinity in Early Christian ThoughtTrinity

Trinitarian language about God has been at the center of Christian orthodoxy and a primary source of controversy since its official formulation in the Council of Nicea in 325 CE. Nicea was historically the first ecumenical council, i.e., an assembly of bishops to settle a question of Christian doctrine. Perhaps the Apostolic council in Jerusalem recorded in Acts 15 was the model; but the initiative came from the Emperor Constantine, not a general consensus of the priesthood or an act of episcopal authority. The Jewish roots of Christianity were monotheistic. The word trinity does not appear in the Bible. There is no biblical statement of Trinitarian doctrine, no references to the threeness of God and no references to the oneness of Father, Son, and Spirit. Yet, the questions posed at Nicea seem to have grown out of the earliest Christian statements about the relationship of Jesus to God.

The significant question of early Christian history was whether the conclusion drawn by the Nicene Creed flowed naturally and reasonably from the questions of faith posed by the early Christian experience of God. Those who question the authenticity of Constantine’s conversion to Christianity tend to view Nicea as a political settlement of issues threatening the unity of the Empire rather than a reflection of early Christian thinking. Regardless of our acceptance, opposition, or indifference, we cannot dismiss the importance of the Trinity in history. Nicea determined the framework of orthodoxy for the following generations, while failing to settle the questions or end the debate.

Larry Dipboye has served six churches in pastoral ministry in Texas, Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee since 1962. He has lived in Oak Ridge since 1988 and served the Grace Covenant Church since 2003. A graduate of Baylor University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas, he received his PhD from Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1970 where he also later served as Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology.

Five sessions:  Wednesdays, 9:30 - 10:40 a.m., September 24, October 1, 8, 15 and 22

504 Indigenous and Earth-Based Religions

indianEarth-based religions have different core symbols, assumptions, and practices than the more widely known major world religions.  These traditions offer us an opportunity to expand our understanding of ways the divine can be recognized, known and called upon in our lives. This course offers an overview of the frameworks of earth-based and indigenous religious traditions, and in-depth discussion of a few examples from around the world (including classical Greek/Roman paganism, European tribal traditions, and Native North American tribal traditions).

Rev. Carol Bodeau is an Unitarian Universalist minister who specializes in earth-based spiritual traditions.  She has a PhD in literature and Native American Studies, and wrote her PhD dissertation about colonial Tennesse/Virginia interactions between Native Americans and European colonists.  She is affiliated with the Oak Ridge UU Church, and has a private counseling and healing practice in Oak Ridge. 

Eight sessions:  Thursdays, 4:00 - 5:10 p.m., September 25, October 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, November 6 and 13

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