Center for Religion in Public Life Offers New “One from Many” Course

“One from Many:” America’s Original Motto and Unfinished Project

September 22 – October 13, 2022

A free, online course offered by the Center for Religion in Public Life

at Phillips Theological Seminary, Tulsa, Okla.

Instructor: Dr. Gary Peluso-Verdend, Executive Director

To Participate, Contact:

By Gary Peluso-Verdend

I remember 1976, the year of our nation’s bicentennial celebration. Coming right after the end of the Vietnam War and Watergate, and with the unfinished work of the various civil rights movements on the national consciousness, Americans celebrated but clouds lingered.

I wonder what kind of celebration might be planned for 250 years in 2026—or will our dueling narratives simply make 2026 less a celebration than an occasion to reinforce the battle lines?

Can the people of the United States rise to the challenge to form a more perfect union—of the most diverse collection of persons ever in human history seeking to be one democratic republic—for the sake of justice, defense, the common welfare, the blessings of liberty, and peace? Can we approximate becoming, in the vision expressed in the nation’s first national motto, one from many, e pluribus unum?

For all of my career starting with my dissertation 35 years ago on the ecumenical movement, I’ve worked on the question of the nature of the communities we seek within our congregations and in our nation. What kinds of community can human beings achieve: how welcoming, how inclusive and diverse? Given human brain structures, cultures, ethics, religions, and a few thousand years of experience in cities and several hundred in nation-states, for what kind of community can we hope and work?

In the four lectures and discussions for this course, I’ll explore these topics:

  • September 22: Why does the U.S. need manyness? Why do we need oneness?
  • September 29: What are the metaphors we use to imagine what “one from many” means and looks like, in practice?
  • October 6: What are biological, cultural, historical, and religious obstacles to and resources for creating “one from many”?
  • October 13: What is the nature of the nation we seek?

Each week I’ll record and post a 25-40 minute lecture on the topic. Then on Thursday nights, Sept. 22-Oct. 13, at 7 p.m. central time, I’ll host a discussion of the week’s lecture.

Contact: to be a part of the course.