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Spirituality Beyond Religion

January 20

Lee Roland

‘Race Matters’

Lee Roland is the husband of 38 years to Wanda Roland, father to Irving and Chanel and grandfather to one-year-old, Elliott Brown. Lee recently retired after 30 years in public education, with 25 years in administration.  Perhaps most gratifying to him are his last 12 years as the proud principal of Tulakes Elementary, a high poverty, high diversity and once failing school (by every significant indicator) that was completely turned around under his leadership.  Because of the culture and staff that remains, Tulakes is now among the best schools in Oklahoma City.  Lee has recently authored a book:  Fantastic Voyage: A Story of School Turnaround and Achievement By Overcoming Poverty and Addressing Race which is a guide for communities to know how to better love and serve their neighbors and advocate for sustained improvement in their local school systems.

He is the Pastor at The Parish in OKCs Plaza District and an adjunct professor of sociology at Southern Nazarene University.  Lee will share with us his perspectives on the stance “the church” should take on the topic of social justice.

Meditator: Sara McFall

January 27

Pam Melson

‘Coming Home, aka Finding What Was Never Lost’

Pam Melson is a long-time Morning Star member whose accomplishments and spiritual gifts are well known to all of us.  However, you may not know Pam is a Holistic nurse who teaches Community, Mental, and Global Health at OCU. In addition she is a traveler, cook, writer, certified wellness coach and lover of life. Her greatest joys are being Nana to her grands and Mama to her children and her faithful dog, Arlo.

Pam says, “Many of us are all too familiar with the cost of caring. While our soul’s purpose may be to be of service, we often forget that we cannot offer a drink of water if our own cup is empty. What do we do if we get to the end of our rope and begin to feel untethered?”  For her presentation Pam will share her theory on how to return from compassion fatigue and burnout.  One of Pam’s favorite quotes is by Anne Lamott: “I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”

Meditator: Karen Marx

February 3

Dr. Eric Day

‘Rock n’ Roll, Funk, and Spiritual Living: From Ravens and Lilies to New Bags and Bombs’

Get up, on the good foot, with your superbad self. The purpose of this talk is to show how looking at rock n’ roll music through the bi-focal lens of psychological theory and Christ’s teachings can provide a more enriched understanding of human nature, particularly with respect to notions of flourishing and spiritual living. Specifically, passages from Matthew Chapter 6 and Luke Chapter 12 will be discussed in relation to the musical styling of James Brown, the rock n’ roll centerpiece of this talk. In the spirit and celebration of Black History Month, an important objective of this talk is to provide others with a new appreciation for James Brown. As the Godfather of Soul and Inventor of Funk, James Brown played a lynch pin role in how popular music is helping our culture evolve from a surviving to flourishing mentality—a mentality that is consonant with the Gospel message and spiritual living.

Eric Day is a Professor of Psychology and Chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Oklahoma. He earned his PhD in industrial/organizational psychology from Texas A&M University, a master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology from the University of Central Florida, and bachelor’s degree in psychology from James Madison University. He was born in Detroit, Michigan, but grew up in Manassas, Virginia. In addition to spending time with his wife Amanda, daughter Evie, and son Christian, he enjoys training to run faster times in the 1 mile and 5k distances. He and his family are members of University Lutheran Church and Student Center, Norman, Oklahoma.

Meditator: Diane Vanlandingham

February 10

Dr. Howard Baer

‘Universe or Multiverse?’

In Dr. Baer’s talk at Morning Star he will describe what we know about the origin and evolution of the universe from a scientific perspective. Howard says, “Our knowledge is based on Einstein’s theory of general relativity combined with quantum mechanics which leads to superstring theory.  New developments indicate our universe is but one subuniverse in a more vast multiverse.  This picture has some verification by the measured values of dark matter and dark energy in our universe. Ongoing searches for dark matter and new matter states at the CERN Large Hadron Collider in Geneva Switzerland seem to be slowly confirming this new paradigm.”

Dr. Howard Baer is Homer L. Dodge Professor of High Energy Physics and George Lynn Cross Research Professor at University of Oklahoma. He spends his days working at the interface of theoretical and experimental particle physics and cosmology at OU.  When not doing science at OU he takes advantage of a get-a-way cabin in Wisconsin. He lists the following interests of his on an OU faculty page:  Wilderness canoeing, whitewater kayaking, climbing, mountaineering, and he likes dogs.

Meditator: Jodi Jennings

February 17

Reverend James Tyree

‘How Can Love Thy Neighbor Survive in Such a Graceless Age?’

Two basic teachings of Christianity are to love our neighbors as ourselves and everyone is our neighbor. Most faith traditions have long held similar beliefs, but how do we do that in this age of anger, polarization and deep divisions? You are invited to discuss and discern this timely topic among friends and with Reverend Tyree serving as our guide.

Rev. James Tyree was ordained as a deacon in the Episcopal Church in June 2017 and serves at his home parish of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Norman. He was raised and spent his early adulthood as a Jehovah’s Witness, and then spent about 12 years in “religious free agency” — visiting a variety of places of worship on an off-and-on basis — before joining the Episcopal Church in 2008. Professionally, the University of Oklahoma graduate spent 20 years as a newspaper reporter at The Oklahoman and the Norman Transcript prior to joining the communication staff at TSET in November 2011.  A rocker, sports enthusiast and father of three, James is happy to visit Morning Star again.  He says, “It’s been way too long!”

Meditator: Charlotte Hayes

February 24

Dr. John Otto, DVM

‘Marvin’s Shining Star: A Story of Hope and Redemption’

Dr. John Otto is the owner of University Animal Hospital in Norman.  He has received many awards and honors for projects and services he has provided for the community at large.  For example, he helped pass a 3 million dollar bond in the City of Norman to build a new Animal Shelter where he also serves as Advisor/Volunteer Veterinarian. He was instrumental in treating and placing 131 dogs and cats in foster homes following the 1999 OKC tornadoes and received the American Red Cross Hero Award for this work.  Another notable award Dr. Otto received was the Department of Corrections Volunteer of the year in 2012 for his Friends for Folks project, an inmate dog training program. The success of this program is documented in an Emmy nominated documentary entitled “The Dogs of Lexington.” He has also produced a documentary about his work with women at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center titled “Bassett Tales” in 2015.

Dr. Otto’s talk will be based on a book he co-authored with his son Payton in 2013 titled: Marvin’s Shining Star: A story of Hope and Redemption.   This is a story of how an unwanted pup from Norman Animal Shelter changed and saved an inmate’s life through the gift of unconditional love and went on to touch and save others lives.

Meditator: Mike Zorba

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