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Discussion guide for September 2023 issue

In each issue of the Outlook, we include a discussion guide to further reflect on the issue. We recommend using this guide in your Bible study, small group or book club. It's our invitation into a faithful conversation.

Healing desire: Hindu and Buddhist wisdom by John J. Thatamanil


  1. What are some “truths” you used to believe that have been replaced by “truths” that you now believe? What caused you to see the “truth” differently?
  2. How would you summarize the author’s use and meaning of the term “post-truth?”
  3. Describe a conversation you have had where “alternative facts” or “fake news” have been part of your conversation.
  4. The author states, “Desire is a matter of the body; knowing is a matter of the mind. The body must be either subdued or set aside if the mind is to do the work of knowing. This is a colossal modern mistake — perhaps the colossal modern mistake.” How do you respond to that statement? Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  5. Regarding the relationship between “desiring” the truth and “knowing” the truth, a major thesis of the author is that we can learn from Buddhism and Hinduism. What are some thoughts you have about what the author has suggested?

 A new kind of pluralism by Joe Morrow 


  1. Look at the section of the article “The Interfaith Origins of Christianity.” How does it help to live and serve in today’s pluralistic society to recall how Jesus and his faithful followers lived and ministered in the pluralistic society of their day?
  2. The author describes pluralism as a much broader reality than just thinking about religious pluralism. In what ways have you experienced pluralism in your educational, vocational, or community experiences?
  3. To what extent do you think an increasingly pluralistic society is a generational phenomenon championed by Generation X and millennials?
  4. What do you see as some possible ways Christians as individuals or in church communities can explore and respond to the growing pluralism of our society?
  5. At the end of the author’s essay, he lists five questions. Take some time to discuss one or more of the questions.

The opportunity to practice the inclusivity of Jesus by Phillip Blackburn


  1. What faith traditions have places of worship in your community?
  2.  Describe some experiences you have had with members of other faith communities.
  3. What are some ways you and/or your church could make connections with leaders and/or members of another faith tradition?
  4. The author identified some examples of Jesus’ inclusive ministry. What are some other examples of Jesus’ inclusive ministry and/or the inclusive ministry of Jesus’ followers in the early Christian community?
  5. The author’s last sentence reads, “As rural people and leaders we have both the opportunity and obligation to witness and testify to Jesus’ inclusive ministry.” What are some thoughts you have about that imperative?

A “both/and” model of engagement by Kelly Stone


  1. If you went to college or university, were you aware of student groups from other faith communities? Did you have any interaction with students of other faiths?
  2. What do you see as the value of having a sacred space on a college campus where all religions are welcomed, with their rituals and practices respected? And what might be some issues that need to be addressed?
  3. Imagine yourself considering a college education and you are exploring potential colleges to attend. You visit the college and have an interview with the chaplain who shares about the religious pluralism that characterizes Macalester. Would you be attracted to Macalester College? Why? Why not?
  4. The author shared an excerpt from a Macalester mission statement, “At Macalester, our chaplains affirm that our global community holds diverse wisdom about the sacred. We explore wholeness, belonging and purpose – with curiosity – as we orient ourselves towards experiences of wonder and awe.” What do you think about this statement? What parts of this statement do you think might be appropriate for a congregation to consider as part of its mission statement?