ethos noun \ ˈē-ˌthäs \
Definition of ethos: the distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs of a person, group, or institution.
Building relationships start where communities overlap
We identify, magnify, and build upon these community overlaps to deepen respect for others, especially toward those different from ourselves, so that we may together overcome bias, social strife, and unexpected crises, and share in humanity with those who interface directly with the thriving communities they serve.
Key influences & readings
Doyt Conn, Rector of Epiphany parish in Seattle and RPrime co-founder speaks to the importance of authentic relationships in the 21st century, and how engagement with others has proven to be the single most important key to “the good life”
Buddha and Christ, perhaps the two most pivotal figures in the history of humankind, each left behind a legacy of teachings and practices that have shaped the lives of billions of people over two millennia. If they were to meet on the road today, what would each think of the other's spiritual views and practices?
Thich Nhat Hanh has been part of a decades-long dialogue between two great contemplatice traditions and brings to Christianity an appreciation of its beauty that could be conveyed only by an outsider. In lucid, meditative prose, he explores the crossroads of compassion and holiness at which the two traditions meet, and he reawakens our understanding of both. "On the altar in my hermitage," he says, "are images of Buddha and Jesus, and I touch both of them as my spiritual ancestors."
“When those who represent a spiritual tradition embody the essence of their tradition, just the way they walk, sit, and smile speaks volumes about the tradition.”
“By respecting the differences within our own church and seeing how these difference enrich one another, we are open to appreciating the richness and diversity of other traditions.”
“We have to allow what is good, beautiful, and meaningful in the other’s tradition to transform us.”
This book explores the golden rule, an ethical formulation which occurs in some form in most of the world's religions, and which reached its most perfect formulation in the words of Jesus, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." Included are many of the different ways in which the rule is expressed by both religious and secular thinkers. This book also features succinct summaries of arguments for and against the golden rule as a guide to behavior. The Golden Rule is unique in its form. It is only two inches tall and eight inches in length - similar to a ruler - and is printed in golden ink so that it is both a book on the golden rule, and a golden rule itself.
“The Abolition of Man" by C. S. Lewis
In this classic, C.S. Lewis, sets out to persuade his audience of the importance and relevance of universal values such as courage and honor in contemporary society. Both astonishing and prophetic, The Abolition of Man is one of the most debated of Lewis’s extraordinary works. National Review chose it as number seven on their "100 Best Nonfiction Books of the Twentieth Century."
Our suggestion is to read the short appendix, entitled “Illustrations of the Tao.”
“Bowling Alone" by Robert D. Putnam
Once we bowled in leagues, usually after work—but no longer. This seemingly small phenomenon symbolizes a significant social change that Robert Putnam has identified in this brilliant volume, which The Economist hailed as “a prodigious achievement.”
Drawing on vast new data that reveal Americans’ changing behavior, Putnam shows how we have become increasingly disconnected from one another and how social structures—whether they be PTA, church, or political parties—have disintegrated. Until the publication of this groundbreaking work, no one had so deftly diagnosed the harm that these broken bonds have wreaked on our physical and civic health, nor had anyone exalted their fundamental power in creating a society that is happy, healthy, and safe.
Like defining works from the past, such as The Lonely Crowd and The Affluent Society, and like the works of C. Wright Mills and Betty Friedan, Putnam’s Bowling Alone has identified a central crisis at the heart of our society and suggests what we can do.
“One intriguing survey that asked people to enumerate all individuals with whom they had had face-to-face conversation in the course of a the day found that religious attendance (of any nomination) was the most powerful predictor of the number of one’s daily personal encounters.”
“…it is clear that religious people (of any religion) are unusually active social capitalist”
“Factfulness” by Hans Rosling
When asked simple questions about global trends―what percentage of the world’s population live in poverty; why the world’s population is increasing; how many girls finish school―we systematically get the answers wrong. So wrong that a chimpanzee choosing answers at random will consistently outguess teachers, journalists, Nobel laureates, and investment bankers.
In Factfulness, Professor of International Health and global TED phenomenon Hans Rosling, together with his two long-time collaborators, Anna and Ola, offers a radical new explanation of why this happens. They reveal the ten instincts that distort our perspective―from our tendency to divide the world into two camps (usually some version of us and them) to the way we consume media (where fear rules) to how we perceive progress (believing that most things are getting worse).
Inspiring and revelatory, filled with lively anecdotes and moving stories, Factfulness is an urgent and essential book that will change the way you see the world and empower you to respond to the crises and opportunities of the future.
"We are struck in the inquisitive and bold way Rosling, very similarly to C.S. Lewis and his quest for truth, says “…if you are more interested in being right than in continuing to live in your bubble; if you are willing to change your worldview; if you are ready for critical thinking to replace instinctive reaction; and if you are feeling humble, curious, and ready to be amazed – then please read on.”
“The Gene: An Intimate History” by Siddhartha Mukherjee
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author of The Emperor of All Maladies―a magnificent history of the gene and a response to the defining question of the future: What becomes of being human when we learn to “read” and “write” our own genetic information?
Siddhartha Mukherjee has a written a biography of the gene as deft, brilliant, and illuminating as his extraordinarily successful biography of cancer. Weaving science, social history, and personal narrative to tell us the story of one of the most important conceptual breakthroughs of modern times, Mukherjee animates the quest to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates, and choices.
Throughout the narrative, the story of Mukherjee’s own family―with its tragic and bewildering history of mental illness―cuts like a bright, red line, reminding us of the many questions that hang over our ability to translate the science of genetics from the laboratory to the real world. In superb prose and with an instinct for the dramatic scene, he describes the centuries of research and experimentation―from Aristotle and Pythagoras to Mendel and Darwin, from Boveri and Morgan to Crick, Watson and Franklin, all the way through the revolutionary twenty-first century innovators who mapped the human genome. The Gene is a must-read for everyone concerned about the definition and future of humanity. This is the most crucial science of our time, intimately explained by a master.
“In the 1950’s, a common trope among some biologists was that the genetic code would be so context dependent – so utterly determined by a particular cell in a particular organism as so horribly convoluted – that deciphering it would prove impossible. The truth turned out to be quite the opposite: just one molecule carries the code, and just one code pervades the biological world. If we know the code, we can intentionally alter it in organisms, and ultimately in humans.”
The Lessons of History” by Will and Ariel Durant
A concise survey of the culture and civilization of mankind, The Lessons of History is the result of a lifetime of research from Pulitzer Prize–winning historians Will and Ariel Durant.
With their accessible compendium of philosophy and social progress, the Durants take us on a journey through history, exploring the possibilities and limitations of humanity over time. Juxtaposing the great lives, ideas, and accomplishments with cycles of war and conquest, the Durants reveal the towering themes of history and give meaning to our own.
“Some recusants have doubted that religion ever promoted morality, since immorality has flourished even in the ages of religious domination. Certainly sensuality, drunkenness, coarseness, greed, dishonestly, robbery, and violence existed in the Middle Ages; but probably the moral disorder born of half a millennium of barbarian invasion, war, economic devastation, and political disorganization would have been much worse without the moderating effect of the Christian ethic, priestly exhortations, saintly exemplars, and a calming, unifying ritual.”
“There is no significant example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.”