Fall 2023 Program — The Time is Now

Word and Life — Book Study and Discussion Series — Fall 2023
The Time is Now
A Call to Uncommon Courage and Consciousness


Introducing the reading for our Fall Series

Book cover: The Time is Now

Sister Joan Chittister is a rabble-rousing force of nature for social justice and a fervent proponent of personal faith and spiritual fulfillment. She has written a remarkable book that draws on the wisdom of prophets (both ancient and modern) to help us confront the societal forces that oppress and silence the sacred voices among us. 

In her book we’ll read her call to Christians to explore the traits of prophets (many of which we can find within our own lives). This is spirituality in action – a practical and powerful activism for our times. She asks each of us to sense our own calling to ‘do the truth’ in the circumstances around us by applying in our own lives the new consciousness embodied by Jesus. It’s the capacity for clarity that identifies whatever diminishes the life the Creator has given us. It’s the courage to hold the tensions that divide us in life-giving ways that allow cooperation and healing to emerge.

We hope you’ll join us in reading The Time Is Now and attend the ten Zoom meetings of our Fall Series led by an outstanding group of speakers who bring their own wisdom and lived experience to explore its vital message.

We invite you to register today for this inspiring program.

Dates of Program:  September 7, 2023 thru November 9, 2021

Each Thursday morning –  10:00am – 11:30

How: Zoom Platform

Fee: $75.00   Because we all live in today’s economic reality, our Steering Committee finds that we must raise our attendance fee to $75 this fall.  The Thomas Heck Memorial Fund is available to those needing scholarship aid, and we encourage donations to the fund from those who are interested supporting our operating costs and each other.

Our work continues by virtue of many contributions.
Please select additional donation option below if your circumstances allow.

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Word and Life
c/o Joe Schneider
533 Tallant Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
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~~ S E R I E S ~~ C A L E N D A R ~~

Session 1:
Sept. 7, 2023

Overview of Series Intention
Reading 1: Forward: A Choice
Reading 2: Introduction: A Word About Prophets

Heather Ruce

If listening/viewing on a Mac, please use the SAFARI browser.

VIDEO PRESENTATION (Session Moderator: Mary Ann Evans)
(For video controls, click white PLAY button, then hover mouse over any part of video player.)


V I D E O  P L A Y E R  G U I D E

>> Once video starts playing, hover mouse over any part of video player to see video controls.
>> Hover mouse over player and FULLSCREEN button will appear in upper right corner of video display.
>> When in FULLSCREEN mode, press the ESC key to return to normal display.

Session 2:
Sept. 14, 2023

Chapters 1 and 2:
The Courage and Consciousness of
Risk and Paradox

Interviews with Joan Chittester
by Judith Valente and Oprah

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VIDEO PRESENTATION (Session Moderator: Pat McClure)
(For video controls, click white PLAY button, then hover mouse over any part of video player.)


V I D E O  P L A Y E R  G U I D E

>> Once video starts playing, hover mouse over any part of video player to see video controls.
>> Hover mouse over player and FULLSCREEN button will appear in upper right corner of video display.
>> When in FULLSCREEN mode, press the ESC key to return to normal display.

Session 3:
Sept. 21, 2023

Chapters 3 and 4:
The Courage and Consciousness of:
Awareness and Insight

Steve Jacobsen

If listening/viewing on a Mac, please use the SAFARI browser.

VIDEO PRESENTATION (Session Moderator: Anna Grotenhuis)
(For video controls, click white PLAY button, then hover mouse over any part of video player.)


V I D E O  P L A Y E R  G U I D E

>> Once video starts playing, hover mouse over any part of video player to see video controls.
>> Hover mouse over player and FULLSCREEN button will appear in upper right corner of video display.
>> When in FULLSCREEN mode, press the ESC key to return to normal display.

Session 4:
Sept. 28, 2023

Chapters 5 and 6:
The Courage and Consciousness of:
Audacity and Authenticity

Jim Clarke

Session 5:
Oct. 5, 2023

Chapters 7 and 8:
The Courage and Consciousness of:
Support, Wholeness, and Self-Giving

Tim Burnette

Session 6:
Oct. 12, 2023

Chapters 9 and 10:
The Courage and Consciousness of:
Patience and Failure

Rebecca Parker

Session 7:
Oct. 19, 2023

Chapters 11 and 12:
The Courage and Consciousness of:
Voice and Wisdom

Buddy Parker

Session 8:
Oct 26, 2023

Chapters 13 and 14:
The Courage and Consciousness of:
Proclamation and Vision

Judith Valente

Session 9:
Nov. 2, 2023

Chapters 15 and 16:
The Courage and Consciousness of:
Faith and Confidence

Sarah Thomas

Session 10:
Nov. 9, 2023

Chapter 17: Tradition
Chapter 18: Prophets Then, Prophets Now

Patricia McClure


A year ago, Word and Life explored Cynthia Bourgeault’s The Wisdom Way of Knowing, as one of the springs of renewal in Christianity today. Our Winter series followed that same pathway with The Wisdom Jesus Encounters Our Disordered World. While each of its 10 sessions gave us glimpses into the nature of sin and evil actively undermining the life around us, the speakers also pointed to the evolutionary processes arising from Jesus’ wisdom practices that can transform human consciousness and, thus, the world of today.

The urgency of the disaster that continues to unfold around us has drawn us to Joan Chittister’s newest book, The Time Is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage as the book choice for our Fall 2023 series. The reviews speak to Chittister’s concerns about the selfishness, power plays, narcissism, violence, lies, and prejudice of politicians and citizens who are degrading America’s promise into self-centered catastrophe.

The conclusion of our Winter Series pointed to a transformed consciousness as the evolutionary leap that is needed in our time. It was also the clear theme of our Spring session with Dr. David Richo as he illuminated the transformational shift that occurs When Love Meets Fear, consciously. In our Fall series, Joan Chittister calls for the uncommon courage that will speak out and enact this new consciousness with honesty and energy.

We hope you will join us to answer the summons of The Time Is Now and to gather insight and strength for the journey from the 10 remarkable presenters who will speak to The Time Is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage and Consciousness.

The Speakers in our Fall 2023 Series

We are privileged to offer another roster of fine speakers this Fall.  Some are old friends of the Word and Life work, and we welcome those who are new to our series and audience.

They have all consented to be video-taped and recorded. So you can watch and hear their presentation  again within a week of their appearance with us – here on the website.  We encourage you to check out past series and their archived recordings, as well. A treasury of insight and discovery is ready to be tapped there.

September 7th speaker — Heather Ruce

Heather RuceHeather Ruce lives in San Diego, California with her husband Charlie and their Great Dane. She works as a Wisdom Spiritual Director with individuals as well as facilitating groups and retreats focused on learning and practicing the Wisdom Tradition.

Heather has been studying with Cynthia Bourgeault in Wisdom Schools since 2012. She has earned her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and is trained in Organic Intelligence, a model for building resiliency and healing trauma by creating higher levels of organization in the nervous system.

Heather brings a very particular strength and subtleness to her work in Wisdom, born out of the deep love of God she has felt since childhood. Her work with the nervous system and her powerful interest in the embodiment of the Gurdjieff work has supported a noticeable presence in her being and in her work in Wisdom and in the world.

September 14 Speaker — Joan Chittister and Oprah (recorded)

We are grateful to be able to share one of Oprah’s remarkable interviews in a ‘real time’ meeting with Joan Chittister as she discusses her newest book, The Time Is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage.

In a powerful conversation on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, Sister Joan defines what it means to be a prophet in today’s modern world, and challenges us to combat complacency and apathy in our own lives. She outlines the key steps we can all take to lift America (and the world) out of its current state of polarization and political disarray. Rather than wait for others to solve the problems of inequality, injustice and poverty, Sister Joan explains why it is both our moral and spiritual responsibility to take action ourselves, making the world a better place for all.

September 21 Speaker — Steve Jacobsen

Steve Jacobsen earned a BA in European History from UCSB, a Masters of Divinity from Princeton Seminary and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Seattle University. He served as a Presbyterian pastor for 30 years, with the last 16 in Goleta. 

From 2008-2014 he was Executive Director at Hospice of Santa Barbara; from 2014 to May, 2018 he was Director at La Casa de Maria. He has published a book and 11 articles on the relationship of spirituality to various aspects of daily life, including secular work, leadership and digital technology.  

He has been active in interfaith projects with Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist communities. Since “being “released into the wild” and retiring in 2018, he has served as an Interim Pastor, first at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian and now at Summerland Presbyterian. He writes a weekly blog, “Pocket Epiphanies” at www.drjsb.com

September 28 Speaker — Jim Clarke

W ith an extensive academic background in the fields of spirituality, adult education, counseling, ritual and depth psychology, Fr Jim Clarke currently serves as Consultant of Spiritual Formation for the Permanent Diaconate Office for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He also is an Associate Spiritual Director at the Cardinal Manning House of Prayer for Priests.

Fr. Jim’s work and further education have taken him to Israel, Mexico, Canada, Africa, Europe, Australia, the United Kingdom and the Pacific Islands. His CD/DVD series and published books have added to his continuing public ministry of retreats, workshops, and conferences throughout the United States for priests, women religious, seminarians, parish and school staffs as well as parishes at large. His newest book is: Rethinking Catholic Devotions: Energy, Engagement, Transformation.

For many years, Fr. Jim has acted as an important contributor to our Word and Life series – often stepping forward to summarize the season’s journey of 9 weeks, weaving it all together into new understanding and usefulness.

October 5 Speaker — Tim Burnette

Tim is a dreamer, philosopher, and theologian. He has spent years reflecting on the evolving Christian faith, and earned his doctorate from Claremont School of Theology, where he studied process metaphysics, philosophy and theology, contemplative practice, and compassion.

A self-proclaimed Whitehead nerd, he embraces theopoetics as a lens for seeing the world, with a practical emphasis on communal formation, beauty/aesthetics, and spirituality. He currently curates Way Collective, which is a community of shared practices and values.

He is a partner, father, writer, musician, and avid reader. His interests include vinyl records, food, philosophy, poetry, guitar tones, baseball, and all things on the fringe. He is an advocate for love and reconciliation across boundaries of faith and non-faith. He agrees with Vonnegut that “you can see all kinds of things from the edge that you can’t see from the center. Although…sometimes it helps to be centered out on the edge as well.”

October 12 Speaker — Rebecca Parker

Rebecca Parker (Atlanta) is the Executive Director of Mary & Martha’s Place (https://www.maryandmarthasplace.com/) in Atlanta, GA, a center for women’s spiritual formation and transformation. She first read Cynthia Bourgeault in 2003 and has studied with her since 2011. She helps facilitate Wisdom Schools in the southeast, and leads two Wisdom Way groups in Atlanta. She is ordained in the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. Her husband Buddy can be sighted at Cynthia’s Wisdom Schools and the Maine Ingathering.

In Advent 2018, Rebecca collaborated with Jeanine Siler-Jones and Laura Copeland to create Beyond the Basics, Our Hearts in Advent: A Southeast Arising Wisdom School  in Sewanee, Tennessee.

Rebecca has an intensity that is reflected through the lens of love in everything that she does. After attending her first Wisdom School, she felt as if she had “touched a life-giving chord in Christianity that allowed my intellect and my longing to occupy the same space.” Her fiery devotion in community and in her teaching is an expression of her discovery that Wisdom “is a love affair and the work is to clear my heart enough to hear the Beloved calling and to live from this experience in the world.”

October 19 Speaker — Buddy Parker

Buddy Parker is a partner in Maloy Jenkins Parker, www.mjplawyers.com, a litigation firm specializing in investigations, trial and appeals of business crime and civil fraud matters, including forfeiture and confiscation litigation, primarily in Federal Court. Mr. Parker’s experience includes hundreds of trials and investigations over his 47 year legal career, nineteen of which while he was a federal prosecutor first with the Department of Justice, Washington, DC, and later in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta.

We The People — Essay by Buddy Parker

Mr. Parker, a pioneer in U.S. money laundering prosecutions, is a recognized international expert having prosecuted cross-border crimes and having made numerous presentations on the topic throughout Europe and the U.S. Currently he is the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section representative to the Advisory Board for the annual American Banker’s Association/American Bar Association Anti-Fraud Money Laundering Conference. His practice includes matters in the eastern third of the United States and from time to time in a consulting relationship with European lawyers. Mr. Parker’s clients include business professionals, lawyers, doctors, accountants, as well as corporations.

Mr. Parker has been recognized throughout his career for his litigation skills. He received his BS in Commerce, MBA and JD from the University of Alabama and LLM (Taxation) from Emory University. Buddy has been a member of the Wisdom Community since 2015.

October 26 Speaker — Judith Valente

Judith is an award-winning author and journalist. Her most recent book is How to Be: A Monk and a Journalist Reflect on Living & Dying, Purpose & Prayer, Forgiveness & Friendship (co-authored with Brother Paul Quenon, OCSO.)

She is a sought-after speaker and retreat leader on such subjects as living a more contemplative life, discovering inner wisdom through poetry, and finding meaning in your work. She is a lay associate of the Benedictine monastery Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas, which is the subject of her 2013 memoir, Atchison Blue: A Search for Silence, a Spiritual Home and a Living Faith.

Ms. Valente worked as an on-air correspondent for the national PBS-TV news show Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly and is a former staff writer for The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. She was the senior correspondent and investigative reporter for the NPR affiliate GLT Radio in central Illinois, as well as a contributing correspondent for Chicago Public Radio. She contributes articles to US Catholic magazine and National Catholic Reporter and writes regular reflections for the monthly prayer booklet, Give Us This Day. Judith  is the newly elected president of the International Thomas Merton Society which aims to keep alive Thomas Merton’s great contemplative and social justice legacy. She enjoys hiking, traveling in Italy and spending time in contemplative silence on the Illinois prairie where she lives. 

November 2 Speaker – Sarah Thomas

Sarah currently serves as the Associate Rector at Trinity Episcopal Church, Santa Barbara, where she has served since 2019. Her favorite areas are preaching, creating liturgy, formation, and curating the monthly contemplative Compline service that combines ambient electronic music with storytelling. She earned her MDiv at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, and was trained as a spiritual director at the Stillpoint Center for Christian Spirituality.

Prior to being ordained as a priest, she worked in the theatre and kept busy raising her three daughters. She earned her MFA from the University of Washington, and her BA from Yale University where she studied English Literature and Theatre Studies. She loves to explore ritual, community storytelling, and contemplative Christianity. She has been a part of the Word and Life community for many years and often claims that it has been central to her spiritual and vocational development. She also collaborated with Tim Burnette (one of the speakers in this series) when they worked together for a couple of years at the Way Collective in Santa Barbara. 

November 9 Speaker – Patricia McClure

P at has worked as an artist-scholar over a long career in teaching and community and church leadership. Her first field was the Arts – as painter, potter, teacher in local schools and then as a Fulbright Scholar to New Zealand.

Her next period of work began with establishing the educational consultancy, The Human Curriculum – translating the capacities of multiple intelligence into teaching and learning strategies for California school districts. Then Pat and her team turned those same discoveries into ‘conceptual blockbusting’ techniques to deal with stubborn community problems. That work earned her a MacArthur Award for utilizing the community’s collective ‘Civic Intelligence’ to solve old problems in new ways.

Her current work as Spiritual Director brings those years of experience to teaching the evolutionary work of developing the inner Life. Pat has led courses and retreats in spiritual development and Wisdom Christianity for 25 years and now brings those life-changing perspectives to the Word and Life community.