Religion

Death is something very few of like to talk about, or even think about, but it's a fact of life, after all -- the final fact of life, you might say. What if we could live our lives while looking at death in a more complete, more honest, less fearful way? Would our lives be richer? And would we actually be healthier individuals? Our guest, Barbara Becker, clearly and intelligently answers these questions in the affirmative.

Illustration by Marlin Lavanhar (via The Black Wall Street Times)

On this edition of ST, we're pleased to speak with Marlin Lavanhar, a Unitarian Universalist minister who's been based at All Souls Church here in Tulsa since 2000. A longtime social justice activist and tireless human rights advocate, Lavanhar recently launched a series of editorial cartoons focused on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre -- and on the urgent need for reparations to be conveyed to those directly affected by this vast, tragic, century-old crime.

As the Judiciary Committee held a hearing Wednesday on the Equality Act, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford laid out his case for opposing it on religious grounds.

The bill would amend the Civil Rights Act to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity while expanding the definition of public accommodations. Lankford said the new definition will cover churches in some cases and expose them to liability.

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Oklahoma House Republicans passed a bill on Wednesday to prohibit any government entity from closing churches during an emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic.

House Bill 2648 would deem such orders a "substantial burden" on religion, an attempt to render them unconstitutional. Courts have tied the term to forcing someone to violate their religious beliefs. The bill says that finding would apply even if an order applies to non-religious establishments. 

Photo Credit Union Theological Seminary

Our guest is the Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, a well-known theologian who grew up in Oklahoma and is now the President and Johnston Family Professor for Religion and Democracy at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. (Union is an interdenominational seminary that was established in 1836.) Formerly a professor at Yale Divinity School, Dr. Jones has published many articles and books over the years, and she's an ordained minister in both the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. On Sunday the 31st, Dr.

More than 3,200 households in Oklahoma and Kansas will have a total of $5.2 million in medical debt wiped out by the area’s United Church of Christ conference.

The UCC Kansas-Oklahoma Conference raised $40,000, which was sent to RIP Medical Debt, a New York–based nonprofit that buys medical debt for pennies on the dollar.

The Rev. Chris Moore, lead pastor at Tulsa’s Fellowship Congregational Church, said the act is more about justice than charity.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Several predominately white Tulsa churches have painted "Black Lives Matter" messages on their properties.

At least four churches painted their messages Wednesday, four years to the day after a white Tulsa police officer shot and killed Terence Crutcher, an unarmed Black man. More are expected to paint "Black Lives Matter" on their properties in the coming days.

On this edition of ST, we learn about the Osage Forest of Peace, which is located on hundreds of acres in Sand Springs, and which dates back to 1979. This nonprofit sanctuary is, per its website, an "interspiritual, contemplative retreat center.... [It aims to] provide sacred space for individual retreats, group retreats, or a day of respite from the busy world. [Therefore, its] environment is supportive of all those who desire to engage in 'dialogue of the heart' through prayer and meditation." Our guest is Rev.

Our guest is Dr. Amir Hussain of Loyola Marymount University. He'll be speaking tomorrow night (Friday the 20th) at Philbrook Museum of Art here in Tulsa in connection with that museum's soon-to-close exhibit, "Wondrous Worlds: Art & Islam Through Time & Place." Dr. Hussain's remarks will be derived from his book, "Muslims and the Making of America," which explores everything from Muslims who fought in the Civil War to the cultural icon (and sports legend) Muhammad Ali.

Our guest is Dr. William Hoy, who has studied funeral rites and rituals (as practiced worldwide) for three decades, examining how they're used to help mourners both make sense of death and deal with the major changes it brings to the lives of suvivors. Dr. Hoy teaches in the Medical Humanities Program in the College of Arts and Sciences at Baylor University. He'll be the first speaker (on September 3rd) in a three-speaker series of events happening soon at the OU-Tulsa Schusterman Learning Center.

Our guest on StudioTulsa is Keele Burgin, an entrepreneur, activist, author, filmmaker -- and survivor. She tells us about her new memoir, which candidly documents her incredible personal story of self-preservation, self-discovery, and self-betterment. As was noted of this book by Jennifer Read Hawthorne, a bestselling author: "Keele Burgin is a living, breathing example of the triumph of the human spirit. The story of how she overcame the extreme abuse of her childhood is nothing short of breathtaking.

(Note: This show first aired earlier this year.) Nathan Englander is our guest; he's the bestselling author of "For the Relief of Unbearable Urges," "What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank," and other books. He joins us to discuss his new novel, "Kaddish.com." Per a critic writing for The New York Times, this book is "sublime.... [It] reads like a modern-day Hasidic tale in which religious characters are bedeviled by the challenges of upholding God's word in an all too human world.... Kafka and Roth's influences are felt in Englander's work....

In 2013, Dr. Ayaz Virji left a comfortable job at an East Coast hospital and moved to a medical facility in a small town in Minnesota; he felt personally driven -- indeed, he felt called -- to address the dire shortage of doctors in rural America. But in 2016, his choice to relocate was tested when the reliably blue and working-class county where he lived swung for Donald Trump. Leading up to and following Trump's election, Dr. Virji  was shocked to suddenly see his children facing anti-Muslim remarks at school.

(Note: This interview originally aired last fall.) Our guest is Linda Kay Klein, whose detailed and engrossing new memoir looks at the devastating effects that evangelical Christianity's purity culture has had on a generation of young women in America. Back in the 1990s, the widespread white evangelical Christian culture created a "purity movement" of sorts -- purity rings, purity pledges, purity balls, etc. Girls were seen by this movement as potential sexual "stumbling blocks" for boys and men, and any expression of a girl's sexuality could be judged as a corruption of her character.

Nathan Englander is our guest; he's the bestselling author of "For the Relief of Unbearable Urges," "What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, and "Dinner at the Center of the Earth," among other books. He joins us to discuss his new novel, "Kaddish.com." Per a critic writing for The New York Times, this book is "sublime.... [It] reads like a modern-day Hasidic tale in which religious characters are bedeviled by the challenges of upholding God's word in an all too human world.... Kafka and Roth's influences are felt in Englander's work....

On this edition of ST Medical Monday, we welcome Dr. Sunita Puri, who tells us about her "visceral and lyrical" (The Atlantic) new memoir, a book that delves thoughtfully and artfully into medicine and spirituality. "That Good Night: Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour" finds Puri telling her own story, as the ambitious American-born daughter of immigrants, as well as the story of her parents: what they did for her, gave to her, and shared with her.

The 22nd Annual Yom HaShoah, which is a yearly Interfaith Holocaust Commemoration, will happen in Tulsa on Monday the 6th at Temple Israel (located at 2004 E. 22nd Place). The event begins at 7pm and is free to the public. This year's gathering, co-presented by the Tulsa Council for Holocaust Education and the Tulsa City-County Library, is titled "Survival in the Shadows: Hidden Children of the Holocaust." Our guest on ST is the keynote speaker for this gathering: Abraham H.

(Note: This interview originally aired back in January.) Our guest is Dr. Duane Bidwell, a  professor of practical theology, spiritual care, and counseling at Claremont School of Theology in California. He tells us about his book, "When One Religion Isn't Enough: The Lives of Spiritually Fluid People." This timely volume, named a Best Book of 2018 by Library Journal, looks closely and respectfully at the lives of people who embrace two or more religious traditions.

Our guest on StudioTulsa is Tamara Lebak, a Tulsa-based executive coach, organizational development consultant, and minister. She's also an accomplsihed singer-songwriter in the folk/roots/blues/alt-country manner, and she joins us to discuss her new album: "The Psalms Project: Volume 1." As Lebak has written of herself and her music online: "I'm a Universalist minister who believes that the Bible is ultimately about the relentless and persistent love of God.

Our guest is Nancy Pittman, the first-ever president of Tulsa's Phillips Theological Seminary. Pittman was officially named to this post quite recently, and she joins us to talk about her own background as well as her aims and plans for this longtime religious and educational institution. As Pittman notes on the PTS website: "We are nationwide network of students, faculty, churches, alumni/ae, trustees, and friends dedicated to learning and living the way of Jesus.

Our guest is Dr. Duane Bidwell, a  professor of practical theology, spiritual care, and counseling at Claremont School of Theology in California. He tells us about his well-regarded new book, "When One Religion Isn't Enough: The Lives of Spiritually Fluid People." This especially timely volume, named a Best Book of 2018 by Library Journal, looks closely and respectfully at the lives of people who embrace two or more religious traditions.

Our guest is Tim Sharp, who has for several years now served as both Artistic Director and Conductor of the Tulsa Oratorio Chorus. He tells us about the newest TOC concert, "Russian Choral Classics," which will happen on Friday night (the 14th) at 7:30pm in Holy Family Cathedral (in downtown Tulsa). The evening will offer a cappella choral works -- both sacred and secular -- by Chesnokov, Grechaninov, Rachmaninov, and others. For more information, or to purchase tickets, please go here.

Beyond the series of conflicts that have stretched back decades in the Middle East, a new range of disputes, proxy wars, and conflicts have emerged in the region, all of which combine strategic and security concerns excacerbated by religious differences. Today Saudi Arabia and Iran are struggling for dominance in the region -- and this is playing out in ways ranging from extremist violence to civil war. 

Our guest is Linda Kay Klein, whose detailed and engrossing new memoir looks at the devastating effects that evangelical Christianity's purity culture has had on a generation of young women in America. Back in the 1990s, the widespread white evangelical Christian culture created a "purity movement" of sorts -- purity rings, purity pledges, purity balls, etc. Girls were seen by this movement as potential sexual "stumbling blocks" for boys and men, and any expression of a girl's sexuality could be judged as a corruption of her character.

Our guest today is John Pavlovitz, a progressive Christian pastor, writer, and activist from Raleigh, North Carolina. He's the author of the popular blog, "Stuff That Needs To Be Said," which offers advice and admonitions for Christians living in the era of Trump.

Our guest is the award-winning British author and journalist William Atkins, whose new book -- a dense and engrossing blend of history, memoir, geography, and travel writing -- is called "The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places." It's a work that, per The Wall Street Journal, "courts comparisons with the capaciously learned nature writing of John McPhee. But there's also an open-ended spiritual quest to Mr.

On this edition of ST, we present another installment in the bi-weekly Museum Confidential podcast series, which is co-created by Jeff Martin of Philbrook Museum of Art and our own Scott Gregory. This particular podcast explores the Rothko Chapel, established in 1971 in Houston, Texas. It's both a sacred space and a modern art mainstay. Dedicated to non-denominational prayer and private contemplation -- and also to international peace and fellowship -- the building routinely hosts lectures, concerts, interfaith gatherings, and similar events.

It's been commonly noted that we as human beings are basically hard-wired for long walks -- and for the thinking, observation, and spiritual reflection that always comes with such walks. Henry David Thoreau, for example, believed that walking alone through the woods was in itself a remedy for most of life's problems. Another such person might be the journalist and storyteller Steve Watkins, who's our guest on ST. In his new book, "Pilgrim Strong: Rewriting My Story on the Way of St.

Our guest today is Lee Gordon, the 2018 Laureate of the Brock Prize in Education. Gordon is the founder of Hand in Hand: The Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel. This Israeli non-profit organization has created a network of integrated, bi-lingual public schools serving Arab and Jewish children alike. Starting with just 50 students in 1998, as we learn on today's StudioTulsa, Hand in Hand by now has six campuses. It also has, more to the point, some 1,600 or so students who belive in Jewish-Arab partnership and coexistence.

(Note: This program first aired back in January.) On this edition of ST, we speak with Randall Fuller, the Chapman Professor of English here at TU.

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