Group relates spiritual issues to current events

by Andrew Goodell

Beyond Belief is just that.

The discussion group goes beyond surface beliefs to consider how life experiences relate to modern spiritual issues.

Beyond Belief meets every Tuesday evening at 8 p.m. in Holy Grounds Coffee Shop for conversations and free coffee and pastries.

Initiated by College Chaplain Chris Waddle, the weekly Beyond Belief sessions begin by dealing with a question of religious or spiritual significance.

“We start with a leading question and try to peel through the layers,” Waddle said.

Past Beyond Belief meetings have asked the questions, “Are Christians the only ones in Heaven?” and “Does God call on us to hate or kill?” The group has also discussed the relationship between science and religion.

According to Waddle, Beyond Belief is not a highly structured religious meeting of the minds.

“It’s a very flexible kind of group,” Waddle said. “The point is not to come away with one answer.”

Beyond Belief has ground rules for students expressing their beliefs and feelings.

“One of our rules is we own our own perspectives and be respectful to those of others,” Waddle said.

Sophomore Bobby Nalean attends Beyond Belief on a regular basis. Nalean was in Waddle’s course on the life of Jesus Christ when he helped form the idea for the group.

“We didn’t want to intimidate people by making it too religious,” Nalean said. “Continuing the conversation with my roommates afterward is the most important part for me.”

The fact that the issues discussed during Beyond Belief meetings are controversial has lead the group to forgo a strict time schedule, according to Waddle.

“We initially set out to do hour-long sessions, but some have gone on much longer,” Waddle said.

An important aspect of Beyond Belief meetings comes after the group has finished discussing the week’s issue. At the conclusion of each session, Waddle and the students take time to discuss what is going on in their lives and keep each other in their prayers.

“Everybody needs a place where they can go and have people care about what’s going on in their lives,” Waddle said. “We take time to care about who … we can pray for.”

German Teaching Assistant Constanze Fischer has been to four Beyond Belief meetings. Fischer said she had a positive experience each time she attended.

“I got to meet people who have different views and values from mine and found out they are just as valid,” Fischer said. “I was not able to think of it that way before.”

Although the group doesn’t set out specific goals for each meeting of Beyond Belief, there is a definite collective motivation behind the sessions.

“What I hope will happen is a discussion on how our beliefs affect how we live,” Waddle said. “We try to look at everything from a relational perspective. Beliefs without relational connections are irrelevant.”