A quote from the mythologist Joseph Campbell provides a clue to the series title – "The ultimate mystery of being is beyond all categories of thought."
Rev. Charles Sheldon

BEYOND THEOLOGY is a new series that begins with a sixty-minute documentary on the question "What Would Jesus Do?" Popularized by the book In His Steps, first published in 1896, “WWJD” remains a perennial presence within American culture. This program first explores the origins of WWJD, connecting it to a series of “sermon stories” delivered by Rev. Charles M. Sheldon, a Kansas minister aligned with the “social gospel movement” of the 19th century. Next, the program moves on to consider how this question might be reconsidered in light of the cultural changes that have taken place in America within recent decades. The third part of the program takes a closer look at the manner in which Sheldon applied the social gospel in his own community.

Credited with establishing the first kindergarten for African-American children west of the Mississippi, Rev. Sheldon pursued an active outreach ministry geared toward the alleviation of poverty, inequality and social injustice. An inveterate storyteller, he published numerous books of fiction, but is best known for In His Steps, which remains one of the best-selling books of all time. The minister portrayed in this classic story challenges his parishioners to ask themselves the question “What Would Jesus Do?” whenever facing a decision of moral import. Described as the “darling of religious conservatives today,” Sheldon’s biographer notes that he was in actuality a progressive, liberal-minded pragmatist who embraced an evolutionary and ecumenical worldview.

In addition to Sheldon’s biographer and others most familiar with his life, this documentary features the insights of a number of thoughtful scholars and theologians. Among them are Rev. Peter J. Gomes and Harvey Cox of Harvard University as well as Diana Eck, director of The Pluralism Project at Harvard; Dr. James Forbes, Jr., senior minister of The Riverside Church in New York City; Robert Bellah, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of California at Berkeley; Robert Wuthnow, director of the Center for Study of Religion at Princeton University; and Stephen Prothero, professor of religious studies at Boston University. Also appearing in the program are Karen Armstrong, Huston Smith and Sister Joan Chittister.

For more than 40 years, KTWU has been broadcasting local public television in eastern Kansas and portions of Nebraska, Missouri and Oklahoma since 1965. KTWU also broadcasts three distinct digital television signals. KTWU is licensed to Washburn University and was the first public television station in the state of Kansas to begin broadcasting educational programming.
Series production of "Beyond Theology" is provided by the Shumaker Family Foundation of Olathe, Kansas -- promoting social and environmental justice, education, spirituality and the arts. For more information on the foundation and their other projects, visit the website at www.shumakerfamilyfoundation.net.
For 45 years, American Public Television (APT) has been a prime source of programming for the nation's public television stations. APT distributes more than 300 new program titles per year and has 10,000 hours of programming in its library. It is responsible for many public television milestones including the first HD series and the 2006 launch of the Create channel featuring the best of public television's lifestyle programming. APT is known for its leadership in identifying innovative, worthwhile and viewer-friendly programming. It has established a tradition of providing public television stations with program choices that strengthen and customize their schedules, such as JFK: Breaking the News, Battlefield Britain, Globe Trekker, Rick Steves' Europe, Great Museums, Jacques Pépin: Fast Food My Way, America's Test Kitchen From Cook's Illustrated, Broadway: The Golden Age, Lidia's Family Table, California Dreamin' - The Songs of The Mamas & the Papas, Rosemary and Thyme, P. Allen Smith's Garden Home, The Big Comfy Couch, Monarchy With David Starkey, and other prominent documentaries, dramatic series, how-to programs and classic movies. For more information about APT's programs and services, visit APTonline.org.
 

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