Ring Lake Ranch seminars consist of four evening sessions during the week, usually 90 minutes in length. The style and content of the seminars change with each leader. Seminar leaders are usually happy to talk with guests outside of the seminars, but the topics are presented entirely within the evening sessions, to ensure that all guests have a chance to participate. Like all activities at Ring Lake Ranch, save cabin cleaning and helping with meal clean-up, the Ranch seminars are optional for guests.
Every year, the Ranch relies on volunteers, both individuals and groups, to clean, do major repair and upkeep projects, open the kitchen, and anything else needed to prepare for guests. Please consider joining us for a week of work, fun, and fellowship!
Our roster of volunteers is currently full for this week.
Each year, we are pleased to welcome young men and their adult leaders from two Catholic high schools for special private retreats. Even though these retreats are closed, we still have volunteer opportunities available during these weeks. Please contact Andy Blackmun for more information about volunteering.
Christians believe that, through the suffering and death of Jesus, we are redeemed and restored to our rightful place as children of God. And yet we remain imperfect and we remain sinners. We are constantly in need of the reconciliation and rehabilitation inherent in redemption. In fiction, we can see the many ways in which the grace of God offers us redemption throughout our lives. The work of redemption is often hard, and the choices difficult, but by accepting God's grace we can move toward repaying our moral debts, making amends, and atoning for the wrongs we have done to others.
Redemption is not just a big event that happens at our death, but comes in a series of small steps we take throughout our lives. We will explore the concept of ongoing redemption in three novels, An Unfinished Life by Mark Spragg, Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler, and The Lost Bird by Margaret Coel, and one movie, Atonement, based on the novel by Ian McEwan.
Margaret Coel is the New York Times bestselling author of the Wind River novels and of four non-fiction books, including Chief Left Hand, a biography and a history of the Arapaho people. She is the recipient of the Frank Waters Award for Exemplary Writing and Literary Success, the High Plains Award for a Lifetime of Outstanding Work, and the Colorado Arts and Humanities Lifetime Achievement Award.
Jesus was a spiritual teacher. He taught a three-fold spiritual path of radical compassion. Summarized as loving God, loving our selves, and loving our neighbor as ourselves, it is a path of 1) knowing ever more deeply an extravagantly compassionate God, 2) being emboldened into a personally transformed self-compassion, and 3) embodying a radical compassion toward others including the suffering, the stranger, the outcast, and even our enemies.
While the call for compassion is widely hailed, seldom is it explored precisely how such compassion is cultivated. This workshop teaches practices, techniques, and tools that deepen our capacities to experience God as a source of love; to transform difficult emotions and internal drivenness into grounded self-compassion; and to embody genuine compassion toward others, even difficult people, with power, accountability, and empathic care.
Frank Rogers is the Muriel Bernice Roberts Professor of Spiritual Formation and Narrative Pedagogy at the Claremont School of Theology; the co-director of the Center for Engaged Compassion at Claremont Lincoln University; and a lead teacher in the Triptykos School of Compassion. A trained spiritual director and retreat leader, his research and teaching focus on spiritual formation that is contemplative and socially engaged. He is the author of The Compassion Practice: Recalibrating the Pulse of Our Lives to the Heartbeat of Love; The God of Shattered Glass, A Novel; and Finding God in the Graffiti: Empowering Teenagers through Stories.
Come and explore the natural history of Ring Lake Ranch and its surroundings. Learn about why the vegetation is the way it is as well as how and why it is changing. Several family friendly nature hikes and walks will delve into the ranch and the general area. Evening discussions will focus on what folks saw during the day and your natural history questions. In the course of our discussions, changes we see in the Torrey Valley will be put in context of the larger world.
Terri Schulz is an ecologist with The Nature Conservancy in Colorado and a former member of the Ranch Board of Directors.
Wayne Shepperd is a retired Forest Service research forester who authored more than 120 articles on Rocky Mountain regoinal forests. He continues to work as a forestry consultant in Ft. Collins, CO
Terri Schulz and Wayne Shepperd
This year is the centenary of Merton's birth and provides an opportunity to assess his contribution to inter-religious dialogue. After summarizing Merton's life and contact with the world's religions, we'll explore his particular interest in Buddhism and in Islam and discuss his suggested five "right ways" to engage in what he calls "contemplative dialogue." Merton's principles provide a peaceful, conciliatory alternative to polemical discourse.
Bonnie Thurston is a founding member and former president of the International Thomas Merton Society, and has lectured and given retreats on Merton in North America, the United Kingdom and Europe. Formerly William F. Orr Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, she has written or edited of 18 theological books (three on Merton). The author of five books of poetry, Bonnie lives quietly in her home state of WV.
In the 21st century, we know vastly more than we ever have before about the nature of the world....the origins of matter, the story of life on earth, and our own human journey. But in many ways, our hearts and souls have not caught up with the news that science has been telling us. What is this new story and what does it mean for our lives?
Singer songwriter Peter Mayer will be leading meditations and conversations about the story of the universe as we have come to understand it through science. It is an epic that awakens awe and wonder, and can be a deep source of wisdom and inspiration. And it is a narrative that begs to be learned as we seek our right relationship with planet earth. Peter will also be sharing some of his songs along the way which have been influenced by these ideas. Peter is a full-time singer songwriter who has been performing in venues across the country for the past 20 years.
He has sold over 80,000 CDs independently, and is currently working on his 10th recording. With a background in theology, much of Peter's songwriting evokes a sense of spirituality, and a feeling that the world is a sacred place. He is a native Minnesotan, and still makes his home there with his wife, Beth, and their two young daughters.
How can poetry help us to be more truly human and at the same time deepen our understanding of the world that God has made? Can it help us to pray? This session is designed for youth as well as adults, for those who love poetry and those who have given up hope of ever understanding it. We will look at biblical poems (from Psalms and Prophets) alongside the work of contemporary poets (Mary Oliver, Anne Porter, Wendell Berry) who are keenly attuned to the religious significance of the human place in the created order.
In both the ancient and the contemporary poems we will hear notes of celebration, lament, and difficult hope. Through them we may come to understand better what it means for us to be the people, and the creatures, of God.
Ellen F. Davis is Amos Ragan Kearns Distinguished Professor of Bible and Practical Theology at Duke University Divinity School. The author of nine books and many articles, her research interests focus on how biblical interpretation bears on the life of faith communities and their responses to urgent public issues, particularly the environmental crisis and interfaith relations. Her book Biblical Prophecy: Perspectives for Christian Theology, Discipleship and Ministry is forthcoming in October.
Among her other publications, Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible (Cambridge University Press, 2009), integrates biblical studies with a critique of industrial agriculture and food production. A lay Episcopalian, she is active as a theological consultant within the Anglican Communion and since 2004 has worked with the Episcopal Church of Sudan to develop theological education, community health, and sustainable agriculture.
In this special two week session, Diana Butler Bass and Brian McLaren will share insights from their current writing projects. As thinkers known for their capacity to envision the future of Christianity, they will lead us into a "vision quest" of the world as it is, trusting that when we attend to the earth and human culture, we see ourselves, our neighbor, and God anew. By exploring social trends, emerging theologies, and spiritual practices, we can discern patterns of holy activity in the world we have -- not the world we had, nor the one that springs from our own agendas. And from a deep exploration of the world, they will suggest paths of renewal for theology, Christian practice, and congregations.
Diana Butler Bass is an author, speaker, and independent scholar specializing in American religion and culture. Her eight books include the bestselling Christianity After Religion, A People's History of Christianity and Christianity for the Rest of Us. Diana regularly consults with religious organizations, leads conferences for religious leaders, and teaches and preaches in a variety of venues.
She blogs at The Huffington Post, Washington Post On Faith, and Patheos. She comments on religion, politics, and culture in the media including USA TODAY, Time, Newsweek, The Washington Post, CNN, FOX, PBS, and NPR.
Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and networker among innovative Christian leaders. His dozen-plus books include A New Kind of Christianity, A Generous Orthodoxy, Naked Spirituality, Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? and We Make the Road by Walking. He and his wife, Grace, live in Florida and have four adult children and four grandchildren. He's an avid wildlife and outdoors enthusiast.
Diana Butler Bass
At the primordial big bang, matterenergy appears, with the remarkable capacity to generate heavier elements and complexity. Life explodes on Earth, with DNA discovering, storing, and transferring information, escalating biodiversity and biocomplexity. The human genius is radically novel, hyper-immensely complex. Ideas pass cumulatively from mind to mind. Those at the center of complex caring intelligence wonder: Is there sacred Logos in, with, and such breakthrough creativity?
Holmes Rolston, III, is University Distinguished Professor and Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Colorado State University. He has written eight books, most recently: Three Big Bangs: Matter-Energy, Life, Mind, Genes, Genesis and God, Philosophy Gone Wild, Environmental Ethics, Science and Religion: A Critical Survey, Conserving Natural Value, and A New Environmental Ethics: The Next Millennium for Life on Earth. Rolston gave the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh, 1997-1998.
Rolston was laureate for the 2003 Templeton Prize in Religion, awarded by Prince Philip in Buckingham Palace and has spoken as distinguished lecturer on seven continents.