The Forum at Grace Cathedral

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Each year the cathedral chooses a theme for inspiration and reflection, and in 2020 our theme is bridges. In this landmark year—the 150th and 100th anniversaries of the amendments granting the vote to men of color and to women—in the midst of a divisive presidency, and in an election year, the need for reconciliation in our country – and city – is urgent. Join us to hear from San Francisco Mayor London Breed in conversation with Dean Malcolm Clemens Young about San Francisco post-pandemic and post-election. About the guest Mayor London Breed is a native San Franciscan, raised by her grandmother in Plaza East Public Housing in the Western Addition neighborhood. In June 2018, Mayor Breed was elected to be the first African American woman and second woman in San Francisco history to serve as Mayor. She was re-elected for her first full four-year term in November 2019. She led San Francisco’s emergency response to COVID-19 and is currently guiding the City’s phased reopening and economic recovery. Recently, Mayor Breed announced her vision to fundamentally change the nature of policing in San Francisco and issued a set of policies to address structural inequities. Since becoming Mayor, she has focused on helping the City’s homeless population into care and shelter; adding more housing for residents of all income levels; helping those suffering from mental health and substance use disorder on San Francisco’s streets; ensuring that all San Franciscans have access to a thriving economy; making San Francisco a cleaner and safer city; and furthering San Francisco’s leadership in combating climate change. Prior to public service, Mayor Breed served as Executive Director of the African American Art & Culture Complex in the Western Addition for over a decade. She also served as a San Francisco Redevelopment Agency Commissioner and in 2010 was appointed by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom to be a San Francisco Fire Commissioner, where she served until her election to the Board of Supervisors. In 2013, Mayor Breed was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, representing District 5 for six years, including three years as President of the Board.
Twenty-five years ago, Alan Jones, then Dean of Grace Cathedral, founded The Forum to create a space for civil conversations on issues that matter. At this most divisive time in our country, when civil discourse is more needed than ever, we couldn’t think of any way we’d rather spend the eve of the election than sharing in a conversation between Dean Emeritus Alan Jones and Dean Malcolm Clemens Young on faith and politics, bridging the divides that separate us, the pandemic and their hopes for 2021.
“It is a Christian obligation to vote, and more than that, it is the church’s responsibility to help get souls to the polls.”— Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, The Episcopal Church  The United States locks up more people per capita than any other nation, at the staggering rate of 698 per 100,000 residents. And the poor and people of color are dramatically overrepresented in our nation’s prisons and jails. Once released from prison, former prisoners are punished again, discriminated against in housing, employment and in voting. Something needs to change.   Proposition 17, on the November ballot, would amend the California constitution to restore the right to vote to convicted felons who are released on parole from state or federal prison. Under current law such persons are not eligible to vote until the terms of their parole are completed. Can even narrow policy changes, like this one, meaningfully reduce our society’s use of incarceration? And what else can we do?   Join us to hear from Dorsey Nunn, Executive Director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, co-founder of All of Us or None, in conversation with Dean Malcolm Clemens Young about Prop. 17, amending the 13th Amendment and the movement to win full restoration of human and civil rights for formerly and currently incarcerated people. 
In the courtroom, there are always—and only— two irreconcilable sides of the same story. When the wrong story prevails, justice is perverted and an innocent person is condemned.  When there is an exoneration, we expect a happy ending. But an exoneration can be an earthquake that leaves behind upheaval and ruin. What is the way forward? Join us to hear from Lara Bazelon, attorney, professor and director of the Criminal & Juvenile Justice and Racial Justice Clinics at USF, and author of Rectify: The Power of Restorative Justice After Wrongful Conviction in conversation with Dean Malcolm Clemens Young about breaking down stereotypes and preconceptions about crime and justice, and asking the hard questions about what is right and fair and possible in our lifetime.
The Forum is the cathedral’s flagship conversation series, celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2020. Each year the cathedral chooses a theme for inspiration. In 2020 our theme is bridges. We are challenging ourselves to explore and reflect upon reconciliation in this very divisive time in our country. Join us to hear from San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who, in conversation with Dean Malcolm Clemens Young, will talk about his work building bridges that promote justice and safety in our community. About the guest:  Chesa Boudin is the recently elected District Attorney of San Francisco. Personally impacted by parental incarceration and the failings of the criminal justice system, DA Boudin was inspired to become a public defender, and now, decarceral prosecutor. He is focused on reforming the criminal justice system and making our communities safer by developing data-driven policies to expand alternatives to incarceration and treat the root causes of crime. In his first few months in office, DA Boudin ended the office’s practice of asking for cash bail, eliminated status enhancements, implemented California’s first diversion program for primary caregivers, and ended the prosecution of charges resulting from racist pre-textual traffic stops. He has also implemented numerous police reforms, started an innovative Economic Crimes Against Workers Unit to protect workers from exploitation, and has succeeded in reducing the jail population in San Francisco even as crime rates declined. He remains committed to additional reforms that promote justice and protect public safety. Check out DA Boudin’s podcast, Chasing Justice:
Are you stunned by the rise of populist, nationalist movements, wondering why so many would seemingly vote against their own economic interests, or simply feeling like a stranger in your own country? As we approach election day in November, how can we connect with a crucial set of workers –and voters? How can we bridge the differences in gender, class, race and work?    Join us to hear from Joan Williams, described as having “something approaching rock star status” in her field by The New York Times, in conversation with Dean Malcolm Clemens Young about her central role in reshaping the conversation about work, gender and class — and why we won’t fix US politics until we talk about class. 
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in conversation with Marc Handley Andrus, Bishop of California.  As we enter our seventh month of sheltering in place, when community is more precious and urgent than ever, go deeper with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church into his understanding of the Beloved Community – where the term come from, how he first encountered it, how his understanding of the Beloved Community has changed over time, among other questions – in conversation with Marc Handley Andrus, Bishop of the Diocese of California.    
Join us for a conversation presented by Grace Cathedral and City Lights, with Michael G. Long, editor of We the Resistance: Documenting a History of Nonviolent Protest and Miguel Bustos, Senior Director of the GLIDE Center for Social Justice, moderated by Patrick Thompson, veteran antitrust litigator.
Join us for Grace Cathedral’s flagship conversation program online with ethicist, author and award-winning teacher Grace Kao. The COVID-19 public health emergency is also causing a human rights crisis, with its economic and social effects disproportionately impacting the poor, the elderly and people of color.  Even if “we are all in this together,” some enjoy more safety, shelter, resources and care.  How does moral thinking about the common good challenge these disparities? Do conceptions of the common good differ across national and cultural contexts?  How can religious communities and theological ethics teach us to address them?  Join us to hear from Grace Kao, Professor of Ethics at the Claremont School of Theology and co-director of the Center for Sexuality, Gender and Religion, in conversation with Dean Malcolm Clemens Young about individualism and inequality, solidarity and the common good, and discerning a sense of the global common good in a time of crisis.
Join us for Grace Cathedral’s flagship conversation program online with University of Oxford professor and one of the editors of the eleven volumes of Kierkegaard’s Journals and Notebooks. In this era of fake news, what can we learn from Kierkegaard’s “truth as subjectivity”? Does 19th century philosophy have something to teach us?  Join us to hear from Joel Rasmussen, Associate Professor at the University of Oxford, in conversation with Dean Malcolm Clemens Young about why the writings of Søren Kierkegaard matter today. Rasmussen’s studies focus on the interconnections between religion, philosophy, history and literature in modern culture. Kierkegaard (1813–1855)—Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic and religious author widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher— epitomizes these interconnections.
In the Bible, Jesus and the prophets call out the powerful in society for their injustice towards the poor and vulnerable. What do the ancient words of Scripture, calling for change, mean for our lives today? Join us to hear from Herman Waetjen, author of The Reordering of Power: A Sociopolitical Reading of Mark’s Gospel and The Letter to the Romans: Salvation as Justice and the Deconstruction of the Law, in conversation with Dean Malcolm Clemens Young about what to do with the Bible in the current political and cultural climate. Waetjen is professor emeritus at San Francisco Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union, and spent his academic career exploring the Gospels for their revolutionary insight.
Join us for Grace Cathedral’s flagship conversation program online with one of the world’s foremost scholars on Hinduism. What is Hinduism, a religion practiced by over one billion people? Join us to hear from Wendy Doniger, one of the world’s foremost scholars of Hinduism, in conversation with Dean Malcolm Clemens Young about one of the world’s oldest major religions. Holding doctorates in Sanskrit and Indian Studies from Harvard and Oxford, Doniger is Professor Emerita of the University of Chicago and a prolific author, translator and editor, publishing almost thirty books in as many years. Recent works include Against Dharma: Dissent in the Ancient Indian Sciences of Sex and Politics, Redeeming the Kamasutra, and Pluralism and Democracy in India: Debating the Hindu Right. Her groundbreaking work The Hindus: An Alternative History elucidates the relationship between recorded history and imaginary worlds, the inner life and the social history of Hindus.
Join us for Grace Cathedral’s flagship conversation program online with the science, philosophy and theology scholar and activist Dr. Philip Clayton who is working toward a genuinely ecologically sustainable civilization. Could COVID-19 help us win the fight against climate change? The pandemic has elicited a global response unlike anything we’ve seen before, and carbon emissions have dropped worldwide. This crisis also presents an opportunity, so how can we all―scholars and activists, secular and religious leaders, the private sector as well as the public―begin to live and think right now the way our grandchildren will have to live and think, impacted by the climate crisis? Join us to hear from teacher, speaker, author and activist Philip Clayton in conversation with Dean Malcolm Clemens Young as he reflects on what actions we can take to shift the structures of human life on this planet toward a genuinely ecological civilization. As a scholar, Clayton (Ingraham Professor, Claremont School of Theology) works at the intersection of science, philosophy and theology. As an activist (president of, and the Institute for Postmodern Development of China), he works to convene, facilitate and catalyze multi-sectoral initiatives toward ecological civilization.
Join us for Grace Cathedral’s flagship conversation program online with the dean of St. John the Divine, a cathedral in the heart of Manhattan. New York City is at the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic in the US, and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine — the largest cathedral in the world — is in the heart of Manhattan. What is the role of the cathedral in such overwhelming circumstances? How is St. John the Divine responding to the pandemic? How is their community finding ways to pray, mourn, learn and act in this time of crisis and change? Dean Clifton Daniel, III and Dean Malcolm Clemens Young,  Dean of Grace Cathedral will reflect together on a cathedral’s unique calling. 
Who is God? What does it mean to be human? Why do we believe what we believe? These are questions that systematic theology attempts to answer.  Join us to hear from Katherine Sonderegger, Virginia Theological Seminary’s William Meade Chair of Systematic Theology and author of Systematic Theology: Vol. 1, The Doctrine of God, in conversation with Dean Malcolm Young. 
Disproportionately impacting people of color, the pandemic has revealed the ongoing, disastrous consequences of racism and inequality in our country. As people of faith, we must ask: is there a relationship between Christian religion and white supremacy in the United States? And how might we start to disentangle them? Join us to hear from Jeannine Hill Fletcher, Professor of Theology at Fordham University and author of The Sin of White Supremacy: Christianity, Racism and Religious Diversity in America, in conversation with Malcolm Clemens Young, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. In her book, Hill Fletcher proposes strategies to foster racial healing in America, leading with the demand that white Christians accept their responsibility for racist policies and structural discrimination in America.
Cathedrals have a distinctive capacity and calling to bring people of all spiritual and political backgrounds together to pray, mourn, learn and act in times of crisis and change. Dean Malcolm Clemens Young will talk with Dean Hollerith of Washington National Cathedral, the second-largest Episcopal cathedral in the United States and seat of the bishop of Washington. Washington National Cathedral serves as a spiritual home for the nation, from holding Inaugural Prayer Services and presidential funerals to interring the ashes of Matthew Shephard. Dean Hollerith has reoriented WNC toward radical welcome and hospitality, with a particular focus on racial reconciliation and outreach to the nation’s veterans. Dean Young and Dean Hollerith will reflect together on a cathedral’s unique role in a time of crisis.
Teens today are suffering from an epidemic of anguish that cannot be ignored. Last year, nearly one-fifth seriously considered suicide. We’ve always known that teenagers can be moody, but that is not what is going on today. Today’s teenagers and preteens are growing up in an entirely new world, and understandably, many parents are paralyzed by problems that didn’t exist less than a decade ago. The good news is that we do understand why this generation is different and why they are suffering, and this means that we understand what we can do to reverse the scary trends in mental illness. A highly acclaimed sociologist at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, Dr. Christine Carter melds research—including the latest findings in neuroscience, sociology, and social psychology—with her own real-world experiences as the mother of four teenagers. In The New Adolescence, she gives parents and educators realistic ways to help preteens, teens and college students find focus and fulfillment.
Avshalom Weinstein, Jake Heggie and Rebecca Jackson in conversation with The Very Rev. Dr. Alan Jones
The co-founder of Esalen an going where others cannot or will not go in exploring human potential. 
Dr. Rani Jaeger is a research fellow, faculty member, and head of the recently formed Ritual Center at the Shalom Hartman Institute. He was one of the founders of the Institute’s Be’eri Program for Pluralistic Jewish-Israeli Identity Education. Rani received his doctorate from Bar-Ilan University on Jewish-Israeli culture as perceived by the poet Avraham Shlonsky. He was a participant in the first cohort of the Beit Midrash for Israeli Rabbis and received rabbinical ordination from the Shalom Hartman Institute and HaMidrasha at Oranim in September 2016. Rani is one of the founders of Beit Tefilah Israeli, a secular synagogue in the heart of Tel Aviv. He spent a year at Paideia, the European Institute of Jewish Studies in Stockholm, as scholar in residence.
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Podcast Details

Created by
Grace Cathedral
Podcast Status
Dec 16th, 2007
Latest Episode
Nov 4th, 2020
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
About 1 hour

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