Monday, March 29, 2010

At Wisdom House: Marist Brother Donald Bisson Discusses Merton and Jung

Marist Brother Donald Bisson recently gave a weekend retreat on "Merton and Jung: The Journey to the True Self."

As two of the most influential writers of the 20th Century, Trappist monk Thomas Merton and psychoanalyst Carl Jung both wrote extensively about True Self.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dr. Marguerite Mullee Discusses Sacred Music and Chant with Sr. Jo-Ann

From Blogger Pictures

Marguerite Mullee (left), director of Music at St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Litchfield, and Sr. Jo-Ann Iannotti (right) meet in the office of the Conference of Churches in Hartford, where Sr. Jo-Ann interviewed Dr. Mullee about sacred music and chant, and their influence on prayer, worship, and self-growth.

The interview will be aired on Sunday, March 28, on WRCH 100.5 FM at 5:45 am as part of the program, "Rich Answers" sponsored by the Conference of Churches of Hartford.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Rev. William Carter: "Ponder Anew: Praying the Gospel of Luke in Lent"

In early March, William Carter, Pastor of St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Avon, CT led a retreat day titled, "Ponder Anew: Praying the Gospel of Luke in Lent."

Friday, March 19, 2010

'Beasts of the Bible' Documentary to Premier on Animal Planet on April 1

Film Investigates the Most Famous and Mysterious Bible Animals, and Reveals Biblical Support

BEASTS OF THE BIBLE is the latest offering from Associated Producers (The Naked Archaeologist and The Exodus Decoded). For the first time, Biblical scholars, historians, archaeologists, cryptozoologists (krip-toe-zoo-ologists), and herpetologists (her-pet-ologists), guide an investigation into the creatures described in the Bible. It premieres in the U.S. on Animal Planet Thursday, April 1st at 8:00 p.m. ET.

This study results in a thought-provoking and stirring film that will bring viewers closer to faith and clarity in the Biblical text. Creatures such as the serpent that tempted Eve, the "big-fish" that swallowed Jonah, the "snake" that triggered the Biblical exodus, and the four-headed multi-creature angel that appeared to the prophet Ezekiel are hunted down. This special brings greater understanding to the creatures found in the pages of Scripture. Viewers will discover new spiritual insights in this state-of-the-art two-hour documentary.

"In BEASTS OF THE BIBLE we took a fresh, faithful approach both visually and intellectually to the iconic Biblical stories that all of us know," said Producer Ric Esther Bienstock (Bee-en-stock). "I think audiences will be truly surprised by the information we've uncovered about some of the beasts they have been hearing about since childhood."

Producer Simcha (Sim-kah) Jacobovici (Ya-KOH-boh-vitch) adds, "Did you know that, when facing Pharaoh, it is not Moses that throws down his staff; it is his brother Aaron and, according to the original Hebrew, it did not turn into a snake but a crocodile? Since the Egyptians worshipped the crocodile god - Sobek, when Aaron's crocodile swallowed up the Egyptian crocodiles, Pharaoh understood that the God of Israel was more powerful than his entire pantheon. All this is lost if the Hebrew word ‘tanin' is mistranslated as ‘snake' instead of ‘crocodile.'"

Both an intensely visual and cerebral experience, the documentary uses a variety of envelope-pushing 3D CGI techniques to bring the Bible's miraculous beasts to life in an in-depth historical, archaeological and scientific investigation of their existence. The experts uncover fascinating insights about Biblical animals that have never been told.

BEASTS OF THE BIBLE is multilayered mystery-solving at its best as investigators delve into the origins of mysterious Biblical animals and examine the scientific facts behind their existence.

Shot on location in Brazil, Egypt, Israel, Canada and the U.S., this eye-popping film faithfully narrates Scripture, decodes ancient writings, unlocks the hidden meanings inside the symbols, and uncovers the most famous and mysterious creatures of all time.

"There is truth behind the beasts," and "mysteries are solved," the film concludes.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I am a Jew and a rabbi. For me Jesus is more cousin than Christ, more rabbi than redeemer. Yet my understanding of Judaism would be so much less without his insights into its deepest truths. So, too, I think, is a Christian’s understanding of Christianity made greater through a grounding in Judaism. This sharing of insights is all the more powerful at Passover/Easter time.

For both Jews and Christians Passover is a symbol of God’s liberating power. We are all enslaved to something, and the God of the Passover is the Power that calls us to liberation, and which makes liberation possible.

When, for example, Jews spend Passover week avoiding chumetz, products containing leaven which was originally made of soured dough, we are symbolically freeing ourselves from the sourness we bring to our life and the lives of others through our enslavement to ego and other false gods. Avoiding chumetz may be the root of abstinence during Lent.

As Jews mourn the death of Pharoah’s first born (and the first born of all Egypt) during our seder meal by diminishing the wine in our glasses so as not to “toast” to the suffering of others, Christians may see the death of the first born as foreshadowing the death of God’s first born through which liberation is offered to all humankind.

When the seder meal calls us to break the middle of the three matzot (plural of matzah, the flat bread eaten by Jews at Passover, and Jesus and the Apostles at the Last Supper), the Jew sees in these three breads the unity of God (the top matzah), the unity of nature (the bottom matzah), and the brokenness of the human being (the middle matzah) who feels estranged from both. Christians, on the other hand, might see these three matzot as Father, Son (broken on the Cross), and Holy Ghost.

Exploring these different meanings offers Jews and Christians an opportunity to explore their respective faiths and the faith of their neighbors through shared metaphor.

Because of this I am pleased that many Christians and Christian churches have taken to holding their own Passover meals during Holy Week. I often lead such meals in churches, and have even co-authored a Hagaddah (Passover liturgy) called Let Us Break Bread Together to help those Christians who wish to celebrate Passover do so in a manner that honors its Jewish roots even as it celebrates its Christian branches.

Some of my rabbinic colleagues are furious with me for writing such a book. They see Let Us Break Bread Together as an act of betrayal, somehow giving away the heart of Judaism. I disagree. Throughout history religions have borrowed from one another. I am not afraid of borrowing. I am afraid of hording.

I believe the hallmark of the 21st century will be a deep and deeply spiritual conversation among the religions of the world. Judaism and Christianity can be at the forefront of this effort, and can model a sacred exchange that far surpasses our current level of inter-religious dialogue. Passover/Easter can be the catalyst for this conversation.

Rabbi Rami Shapiro
Author (with Rev. Michael Smith) of “Let Us Break Bread Together,” Paraclete Press.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Rich Answers: Sr. Jo-Ann Interviews Hana S. Sharif, Director of 'Gee's Bend'

Hana S. Sharif (l) was interviewed by Sr. Jo-Ann Iannotti (r) for the Conference of Churches program "Rich Answers." Ms. Sharif was the director of the Hartford Stage production, "Gee's Bend" and will be part of the Art and Spirituality program taking place at Wisdom House on April 15. You can hear this interview on WRCH 100.5 FM at 6 am Sunday, March 14.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sister Rosemarie and Sister Jo-Ann: "Living Well Connecticut"

Sr. Rosemarie Greco (l) and Sr. Jo-Ann Iannotti (r) after they were interviewed by Bill Pearse (center) WTIC 1080 AM's radio host of "Living Well Connecticut." The interview will air this Sunday March 7 on WTIC 1080 AM at 6:50 am.