My name's Mary; I originally hail from Colorado, did my undergraduate in Southern California, and came to Madison 3 years ago to pursue a PhD in chemistry. You'll probably quickly figure out that I love the outdoors (biking, hiking, and rock climbing, to be specific) and playing cello. I also thrive on discussing religion and spirituality with people from all backgrounds.
As someone who self-identifies as a Christian, many of these spiritual discussions have been with people that fall into one of two groups. The first is a set of people that consider themselves non-Christian, but are actively curious about what Christianity entails. The second is a group that have identified as Christian at some point in their lives, but currently don't identify with, or have significant doubts with, the Christian faith. (Full disclosure, I've often been part of this second group). What I've always found remarkable is how much these two groups have in common. Both are a constant stream of questions, doubts, uncertainty, and curiosity. Both want discussions that range from the very academic to the incredibly personal. Both have expressed dissatisfaction with churches and/or Bible studies as safe and effective places for doubt and inquiry. Both groups seem to possess a desire to *have* a place where they can bring up the difficult questions of faith.
With this in mind, I'm starting a discussion group for people from all backgrounds to have a chance to wrestle with challenging questions about religion and spirituality. We'll meet starting in September 2015, times and dates to be determined by the results of this survey and announced in late August. After a short period of getting to know one another and formulating questions, we'll devote each meeting to discussions of group-selected topics related to questions about Christian spirituality. Commitment level is one semester, although I'm hoping to continue the group in the spring, pending interest.
If this sort of discussion group sounds appealing to you, fill out the survey below and I'll get in contact with you about joining for the semester. Membership is open to people of all backgrounds and faiths, although discussions will likely be targeted towards people that identify with one of the two groups described above. (If you're unsure whether or not you'd fit into the group dynamic, go ahead and fill out the survey anyways; there's almost certainly room for your unique perspective and spiritual background).
If you'd like more information about the group, or would prefer to discuss topics of religion and spirituality in a one-on-one setting, don't hesitate to contact me:
Otherwise, I look forward to meeting you in the fall.