Rev. John Philip Newell, Diana Butler Bass to Discuss Upshot from Discussions on Future of Cities


Chautauquans know the Rev. John Philip Newell from his sermons this week and Diana Butler Bass from Monday’s Interfaith Lecture — but today they can see a new side of each theologian and writer.

At 2 p.m. Friday in the Hall of Philosophy, Newell and Bass will team up to give an Interfaith Lecture titled “Finding God Everywhere in the World, Including the City.”

The lecture will be a dialogue-style discussion between Newell and Bass on this week’s interfaith topics. Both speakers will give short reflections on their impressions of this week and then allow audience members to ask questions in for an interview-style discussion.

“Diana and John Philip have been in residence with us all week to hear and to absorb the shared wisdom of all our speakers regarding the future of our cities, the impact of religious voices within the city and the spiritual visions that we can carry away with us from Chautauqua this week,” said Maureen Rovegno, associate director of religion.

Newell is an ordained Church of Scotland minister who is known for his work studying Celtic spirituality. He is also the co-founder of Heartbeat: A Journey Towards Earth’s Wellbeing, an organization that works to foster spirituality that honors the Earth and facilitates interfaith relationships. It also provides scholarships to aid young adults in spiritual contemplation.

Newell preaches internationally on the sacredness of the Earth, but in Friday’s lecture he and Bass will focus on finding God in other areas, including cities. Bass’ lecture on Monday addressed her concept of “sacred cosmopolitanism,” which also dealt with finding spirituality in urban areas.

Newell believes in a mystical form of prayer influenced by Celtic teaching that he argues is about directly confronting the surrounding world. He thinks people need to face their suffering head-on in order to work toward healing.

“We must address, confess and confront just how broken we are individually and in our communities, nations and all around the Earth itself,” Newell said in an interview with Read The Spirit. “The way forward is not to somehow turn away and downplay the world’s wounds.”

Bass and Newell are both writers who have published several books on religion and spirituality, and proponents of interfaith dialogue.

Both Bass and Newell have received recognition for their work; Bass’ honors include the Frank S. and Elizabeth D. Brewer Prize of the American Society of Church History, and Newell’s include the Contemplative Voices Award from the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in Washington, D.C.

Madison Rossi

The author Madison Rossi

Hailing from Chicago, Madison Rossi is the 2016 Interfaith Lecture preview reporter. She is a class of 2018 journalism major at Northwestern University with minors in marketing and religious studies.