The Preachers, the Store Owner, the Sufi and the White Power Guy

[updated 6/12] Friends and interested bystanders are sending me a multitude of fascinating recommendations for people to interview. Their most recent suggestions include:

The Rev. Leo Barbee of The Victory Bible Church, Lawrence, Kan. This is an interesting and inspired choice because I and my political allies went head-to-head with Barbee years ago over the issue of gay rights. I’d love to talk to him about The Goodness Project, not to badger him or even to be disagreeable, but to truly understand how he defines goodness. I wonder if we’ll agree more than I expect.

The Rev. Dennis Hesselbarth, pastor of the Hilltop Urban Church in Wichita, Kan. Another interesting and possibly difficult choice for me. As a lesbian, I don’t feel safe around folks of a traditionally Christian bent, but I suspect there’s much I’m misunderstanding, particularly about what appears to be a rather unusual church.

Clay ????, the owner of Signs of Life Bookstore in Lawrence, Kan. Yet another choice pushing me out of my comfort zone is Clay,  the owner of this bookstore. I don’t have his last name yet, but I do want to talk to him. I’ve boycotted this store since it first opened because I thought it was a fundamentalist, destroy-my-family kind of place. Right after it opened, I even walked in and yelled at the clerk (poor soul). I declared indignantly that I would never shop there because it was a store designed to hurt me and my community. I’m not proud of that moment — a decidedly non-good instant if there ever was one. The friend who recommended that I seek Clay is right. It’s time to go talk. (By the way, what do I mean by “destroy-my-family kind of place?” I’m a lesbian who raised a child, and there is a subset of fundamentalist Christians who find me and my family abominations. They not only think this, but they work against any effort to provide us with security or civil rights. These people frighten the heck out me.)

Ankotta and Gopi Sandal, of The Bhaktivana Yoga Center near Baldwin, Kan., who practice Vaishnavite Hinduism.

Jo Anderson, a Lawrence, Kan., mystic and carpenter.

Leonard Zeskind, the author of Blood and Politics, a book about the white nationalist movement.

Marty Kraft, co-founder and director of the Heartland All Species Project and a Sufi.

Kelley Hunt, songwriter, singer and teacher.

Mary Heiny, an Aikido teacher and student of Tibetan Buddhism.

Those are the recommendations, and I have to admit that I like them. They force me to stretch and go to at least some places and people I wouldn’t normally consider. These folks may provide some fascinating conversations. What do you think? Who would do you think I should seek out for a discussion of the all-important topic of goodness?

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