Bridges before Barriers: Across the Secular and Sacred Divide

Blue Ridge Center for Lifelong Learning

Fall 2019

Course Description:

Who cares what the “other side” thinks, feels or believes? Is it possible to listen, to consider other viewpoints, to find ways to cross over the most challenging, divisive landscapes that separate us? Whether we have religious faith or a secular perspective, it is critically important for individuals and communities to build bridges rather than barriers.

This three-week course will trace possible paths toward understanding each other drawing from past and present associations (such as humanistic, naturalistic and multi-faith coalitions that include seculars). Voices of reason and wisdom from all “sides” will be heard and discussed.

Readings will be posted here each week.


Chris Highland is a humanist freethinker with a background in ministry, interfaith chaplaincy and non-profit work. Author of A Freethinker’s Gospel and other books, Chris also writes the weekly “Highland Views” column for the Citizen-Times. His website is

Course Outline (tentative) and Readings

Week One:

Obstacles and Opportunities:  Natural, Artificial and Imagined Barriers

Week Two:

Bridges and Gates:  Communication, Cooperation, Collaboration

Week Three:

Risks and Reasons:  Who’s on “our side”?