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Charter Education Institute

Spiritual Wisdom for Troubled Times

Spiritual Wisdom for Troubled Times

How do we practice spiritual presence in challenging times? When communities are polarized, and peace is unpopular?

Start Date: May 20, 2024

Duration: 4 weeks

Tuition: $60.00 US

Facilitators: Rabbi Laura Duhan-Kaplan, Pastor Don Mackenzie, and Imam Jamal Rahman.

Registration: Opening April, 2024

Course format: Each of the four 2-hour sessions will include lecture, practice and conversation around that session's topic. The three Interfaith Amigos—Imam Jamal Rahman, Pastor Don Mackenzie, and Rabbi Laura Duhan-Kaplan—will team teach this course. Working together, the Interfaith Amigos model cooperation. Together, they explore spiritual facets of religion, making them relevant for our times. 


Zoom session dates

Monday May 20, 2024 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time
Monday May 27, 2024 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time
Monday June 10, 2024 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time
Monday June 17, 2024 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time

Use this date/time converter to check for other local times.



Course Description

How do we practice spiritual presence in challenging times? When communities are polarized, and peace is unpopular? We remember that humans have been here before. And ancient spiritual guidance is relevant now. In this course, we will reach across difference to explore spiritual insights and practices from three traditions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These spiritual tools can help us know our selves better, strengthen our inner resources, and reach out to others with compassion.

The four sessions will include the following topics:


Witnessing our Biases

We have all been conditioned to approach the world from a particular perspective. So, how can we identify our biases and loosen their grip? Through compassionate self-listening that allows a light of self-awareness to shine. As the Prophet Muhammad taught, “Know yourself,” and “Die to your false beliefs before you die.”


Paradox and Mystery

Though we are often called to hold two truths simultaneously, our culture encourages us to choose a side. This cultural habit pulls us towards polarization. How can we deepen our embrace of paradox and mystery—as the parables of Jesus invite us to do?


Ego and Divine Spark

How do we change our ego from a commanding master to a compassionate assistant? Sometimes, heartbreak and humility can open an inner spaciousness. In this space we may find, as Kabbalah teaches, a window into the greater energy that we reflect.


Weaving Compassion

Many spiritual traditions teach that compassion and love are part of essential divine nature. How can we use ideas and practices from this course to turn ourselves more deeply towards this essence?


Meet the Course Facilitators

Picture of Imam Jamal Rahman

Jamal Rahman, Imam, Writer, Speaker, Spiritual Advisor, is a popular speaker on Islam, Sufi spirituality, and interfaith relations. Along with his Interfaith Amigos, he has been featured in the New York Times, CBS News, BBC, and various NPR programs.

Jamal is co-founder and Muslim Sufi minister at Interfaith Community Sanctuary and adjunct faculty at Seattle University. He is a former co-host of Interfaith Talk Radio and travels nationally and internationally, presenting at retreats and workshops.

He is the author of many books, including : Sacred Laughter of the Sufis: Awakening the Soul with the Mullah's Comic Teaching Stories and Other Islamic Wisdom; Jamal's latest book, The Teachers of Spiritual Wisdom: Gaining Perspective on Life’s Perplexing Questions is co-authored with Duncan S. Ferguson and Mary Petrina Boyd. 

Jamal's passion lies in interfaith community building. He remains rooted in his Islamic tradition and cultivates a "spaciousness" by being open to the beauty and wisdom of other faiths. By authentically and appreciatively understanding other paths, Jamal feels that he becomes a better Muslim.


Picture of Rabbi Laura Duhan-Kaplan

Laura Duhan-Kaplan is the newest member of the Interfaith Amigos. She is a rabbi, Ph.D. professor, author, speaker, spiritual director, and interfaith activist. She lives in Vancouver, Canada, on the traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.

Rabbi Laura works as Director of Inter-Religious Studies and Professor of Jewish Studies at the Vancouver School of Theology. She is also Rabbi Emerita of Or Shalom Synagogue. Her skill as a teacher of philosophy and religion has been recognized with many awards, including the Carnegie Foundation’s U.S. Professor of the Year award.

For her interfaith work, Rabbi Laura received the Visioneers Lifetime Achievement Award for Peace and Community Well-Being, and was nominated for a British Columbia Multiculturalism Award.

Rabbi Laura’s recent books include the award-winning Mouth of the Donkey: Re-imagining Biblical Animals and Shechinah, Bring Me Home! Kabbalah and the Omer in Real Life. She has also collaboratively authored four books on interfaith topics including friendship, reconciliation, othering, and hope.

When she is not at work or exploring spiritual practice, Rabbi Laura is usually volunteering at a synagogue or interfaith initiative; hiking, singing, or leading prayer services with her spouse; laughing with their young adult children; hanging out with a changing array of companion animals; or simply doing household work. 


Picture of Pastor Don Mackenzie

Pastor Don Mackenzie is a minister of the United Church of Christ. He is a graduate of Macalester College and Princeton Theological Seminary and holds a PhD from New York University. Pastor Don served three parishes and taught at Princeton Seminary. For more than twenty years, he has been a member of the Interfaith Amigos.

Together with Imam Jamal Rahman and Rabbi Ted Falcon, Pastor Don co-authored three books. Getting to the Heart of Interfaith: The Eye-opening, Hope-filled Friendship of a Pastor, a Rabbi, and a an Imam (2009), Religion Gone Astray: What We Found at the Heart of Interfaith (2011) and Finding Peace Through Spiritual Practice: The Interfaith Amigos Guide to Personal, Social, and Environmental Healing (2016). All three books received a Spirituality & Practice Book Award as one of the Best Spiritual Books in its year of publication.

Pastor Don has written essays for Yes magazine, Huffpost Religion, and several scholarly anthologies. He has contributed to interfaith dialogue in medicine, economics, and ecology. In addition to teaching and lecturing with the Interfaith Amigos, he teaches regularly in churches around North America.

Don’s country band, Life’s Other Side, 40 years, played at the Opry in 2005.



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