A word from Bill Moyers:
Our world is increasingly divided between the religious and the secular, but open dialogue and understanding can forge a more tolerant and vibrant democracy. While a television series can introduce new ideas, only people can make things happen. On this site, you have the tools to start your own conversation at your library, bookstore, church, synagogue, mosque, Web site or even right at home. Whether you approach these topics as a believer or a skeptic, I know the process of listening closely and respectfully to others will help you rediscover your own beliefs. Even if you wind up in the same place at the end of the journey, you will have experienced the diversity of voices in the conversation of faith and reason.
The Bill Moyers on Faith & Reason discussion guide is a great way to structure your discussion of religion and make your time as a group a more meaningful encounter. The questions offer both an overarching view of issues of faith and reason, as well as ask you to deliberate on specific themes brought up by the authors in each episode. Each episode can be streamed online in case you've missed an episode or would like to review before discussion. And, please visit the resources page and lesson plans for further exploration of the themes and ideas in BILL MOYERS ON FAITH & REASON.
But before you start, here are a few tips on starting up and participating in a discussion group.
STARTING A DISCUSSION GROUP
- Starting a group is easy. Just ask some friends, family or colleagues to join you in watching and talking about BILL MOYERS ON FAITH & REASON. Call your local library, bookstore, place of worship, community center, public television station, or even start one online.
- There is no ideal size, but make the group large enough to ensure a lively interchange and diversity of opinion, but small enough so that each person has the chance to participate fully.
- If you want to coordinate with the series, episodes can be streamed on demand and the audio can be downloaded to facilitate your schedule. And the BILL MOYERS ON FAITH & REASON discussion guide includes general questions on faith and reason for each episode.
BEING A GOOD GROUP MEMBER
These are some tips for being a good member (and a good leader). You might find it helpful to make sure participants read these guidelines before beginning.
- Be honest. People in the group want to hear what you really think, not what you think you should say.
- Be open to new viewpoints and new ideas. Everyone comes to the discussion with a different perspective, and learning about other people's traditions and ideas can do more than expand your own view. It can also serve to deepen both your knowledge and belief in your own faith.
- Be respectful to others views and opinions. Keep in mind that reaching a consensus is not the goal of the group. Learning, sharing and inter-faith reasoning are. And remember how you say things may be just as important as what you say. That is, "I don't agree with you" will be more productive than "You're wrong."
- Don't rush over or smooth over differences. Work through them - listen carefully, understand your differences and honor them.
- Don't monopolize the conversation. Remember that you will learn more from hearing others talk than from hearing yourself.
Here are some additional tools to help you get your own discussion group going.