Thanksgiving Warm Up

by Samir Selmanovic on November 11, 2013


Thanksgiving Warm Up:


Music & Meditation for Gratitude & Mindfulness


November 25, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm


@ Charlotte’s Place


107 Greenwich Street, Between Rector & Carlisle Streets


Before the hectic holidays and feasting begin, come get spiritually fed at a Faith House Manhattan Living Room in Charlotte’s Place!  Bridget Barkan will share song, comedy, and poetry to fill the room with laughter and self-reflection. Yael Shy, Director of the The Mindfulness Project, will guide us on a contemplative meditation, helping us to be centered on gratitude.
This evening will integrate experiences of gratitude and mindfulness in a fresh way, as we go towards Thanksgiving and participate or lead in our own spiritual communities.
Curated by Bowie Snodgrass and Samir Selmanovic.


For those who can, please bring a Thanksgiving or autumn dish or snack to share.


Faith House Manhattan is an experiential inter-religious community that comes together to deepen our personal and communal journeys, share ritual life and devotional space, and foster a commitment to social justice and healing the world. Faith House Immersions provide authentic and experiential two- or three-day interfaith experiences, each journey custom-designed to meet your needs.  Visit various religious communities across New York City during worship services, where you can both observe and experience worship in its many forms. 



More Than Spirituality

by Samir Selmanovic on March 18, 2013

Following is an article I have written as a guest writer for KidSpirit, a wonderful online magazine written by teens for teens. Enjoy.

More Than Spirituality

I grew up in a not-so-religious Muslim family, in an atheist country in the former Yugoslavia. In terms of history, stories, and religion, the Balkans were flammable. So, when at 17 I became a Christian, all hell broke loose.

My devastated parents recruited one of Europe’s best psychiatrists and 50 relatives to take their best shot at helping me get over my infatuation with religion. The ordeal went on from dawn to dusk, every day for two months. Religion was a crutch for the weak, they reminded me, the opiate of the masses. Even my former girlfriends were summoned to try to evoke sweet memories of my religiously unconstrained days and prevail over my heart.

They tried love, they tried threats. Eventually they resorted to isolation and I was expelled to the street and I did not see my mother and father for two years. I applied myself to my studies, returned to the tenuous atmosphere of my home, and after completing a structural engineering degree, I went to the United States to study psychology, theology, and then education. Eventually, I become a pastor in New York City and later moved to California where I co-founded a large young adult congregation. On this journey, I had access to high places and behind the curtain. It took me 15 years to find out that religion is as bad as my parents told me.

I found myself thoroughly disenchanted with Christianity. Religions, I realized, are God management systems that have compromised themselves in every way imaginable.

I hate religion. But I need it so that I can live deeply. Let me explain.

CONTINUE READING  “More Than Spirituality”


Life Transition

by Samir Selmanovic on October 18, 2012

Letter to my friends, colleagues, and co-conspirators,

During the last several months I had the opportunity to meet, learn from, and collaborate with Michael Margolis, the founder of Get Storied Inc. These experiences have led to my acceptance of an offer for a full-time position as a Strategy and Operations Lead at Get Storied. This is an incredible match for my passion, background, skills, personality, and needs.  I am excited, scared, and at peace, all at once!

I also want to update you on the status of my involvement with Faith House Manhattan, Citylights Community, and my independent consulting and speaking work.

Faith House has been undergoing a transition. As you might know, we have conducted our pilot immersion event this Summer and it has been a great success. We want to expand the program which, for now, we call Faith House Institute, taking groups of 10 to 15 people through an intensive 48 or 72 hour experience of religious life in New York City. We are about to offer custom made programs to institutions and groups. I would like to talk to you if you are interested to bring a group (more info HERE). Union Theological Seminary has offered us space for an office and partnership. My role at Faith House has been evolving from Founder, to President of the Board, to Executive Director. With this change, I will serve on the board and stay engaged for maximum impact, particularly in helping design and guide the immersion events. I hope you can participate! And thank you for your continual support.

In terms of my work with Cityligths Community, I will stay in the role of coordinator/director until the end of December. After that I will serve on the Citylights Leadership Team, fully invested in our growing community that is a lifeline for me and my family. I also hope to take up more volunteer teaching/preaching and service opportunities at Citylights.

My diverse consulting and speaking engagements will now almost exclusively serve the mission and calendar of Get Storied. I hope our paths will keep crossing. I will be adding inter-religious and cross-cultural aspect to its portfolio of engagements, expanding the work with non-profits in general and religious organizations in particular. Below is the summary of what we do.

Thank you for being an inspiration over the years,

Samir Selmanovic, New York City

*   *   *


Get Storied is a training and advisory company devoted to transformational storytelling. We work as trusted advisors to CMOs, CEOs, and leaders who need to reframe and redefine their message. As story architects we help clients accelerate their marketing and innovation efforts. As a learning institution, we teach thousands of change-makers the principles and skills of narrative intelligence.

Get Storied is devoted to the most important stories of our time — the cultural inflection points where change is inevitable. Every institution and industry now faces reinvention and has to learn to anticipate and align with its emerging future. We manage a growing portfolio of high-stakes engagements that touch on variety of themes including:

  • The humanization of business
  • Technology and global financial reform
  • The future of information and learning
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Re-defining the language of philanthropy

For a free e-book “Believe Me: A Storytelling Manifesto for Change-makers and Innovators” by Michael Margolis you can go to

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Christian story. Without Hell?

by Samir Selmanovic on September 19, 2012

Several months ago I had a privilege to preview an important new movie, Hellbound? directed by Kevin Miller, exploring the concept of Hell in Christian text, story, and life.  The most interesting question that has transpired for me is “Can Christian story, minus Hell, capture human imagination?”  This question does not have a simple answer.  The breath and depth of commentary in the movie is immense and I highly recommend it to all Christians and their concerned friends or family :).  This coming Friday, Sep 21, at 7pm, there will be New York City premiere in Village Cinema followed by a panel that I will be moderating.  You are invited!  Here are the interlocutors for the post-projection discussion:

FRANK SCHAEFFER is a New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books. Frank is a survivor of polio and an evangelical/fundamentalist childhood, an acclaimed writer who overcame severe dyslexia, a home-schooled and self-taught documentary movie director, a feature film director and producer of four low budget Hollywood features Frank has described as ‘pretty terrible,’ and an author of critically acclaimed fiction and nonfiction. Frank’s three semi-biographical novels about growing up in a fundamentalist mission: “Portofino,” “Zermatt” and “Saving Grandma” have a worldwide following and have been translated into nine languages. Jane Smiley writing in the Washington Post says of Frank’s memoirs “Crazy For God” and “Sex, Mom and God”: “[Schaeffer’s] memoirs have a way of winning a reader’s friendship… Schaeffer is a good memoirist, smart and often laugh-out-loud funny… Frank seems to have been born irreverent, but his memoirs have a serious purpose, and that is to expose the insanity and the corruption of what has become a powerful and frightening force in American politics… Frank has been straightforward and entertaining in his campaign to right the political wrongs he regrets committing in the 1970s and 80s… As someone who has made redemption his work, he has, in fact, shown amazing grace.”MICHAEL HARDIN is the co-founder and Executive Director of Preaching Peace, a non-profit based in Lancaster, PA whose motto is “Educating the Church in Jesus’ Vision of Peace.” An internationally known speaker, he is one of the earliest members of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion and is a co-founder of Theology and Peace, also based in the United States. Michael was educated at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago and is a PhD candidate at Charles Sturt University in Canberra, Australia.  He is the co-editor of Stricken by God?: Nonviolent Identification and the Victory of Christ (Eerdmans, 2007), Peace Be With You (Cascadia 2009), Compassionate Eschatology (Wipf & Stock, 2010), editor of Reading the Bible with Rene Girard (Wipf & Stock 2013) and author of the acclaimed The Jesus Driven Life (JDL Press, 2010).  He is currently writing his latest book Lamb Up!: Where the Neo-Reformed Get it Wrong and Jesus Gets It Right. He has published over a dozen articles on the mimetic theory of Rene Girard in addition to essays on theology, spirituality and practical theology.  With his wife Lorri, he has taken courses for the past decade on wilderness survival and Native American healing traditions. In addition to this, Michael has been involved in movie and video production and is a singer/songwriter.

KEVIN MILLER is an award-winning filmmaker who has applied his craft to documentaries, feature films and short film projects. Recent credits include spOILed, Sex+Money, With God On Our Side and Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Kevin’s work has taken him to over a dozen countries across five continents and has involved everything from urban spelunking under the streets of Moscow to interviewing war-criminals-at-large in the dusty, fly-infested markets of Sierra Leone. In addition to making films, Kevin teaches screenwriting at a number of film schools and conferences across North America and around the world. Kevin lives in Abbotsford, BC with his wife and four children.

Village Cinema:
Official Movie Website:


Being Mad – an event

by Samir Selmanovic on April 10, 2012


What the Occupiers and the Occupied

Can Learn from Interfaith Dialogue

Francisco “Pancho” Ramos Stierle meditates

as police surround the Occupy Oakland encampment

on Monday, Nov. 14, 2011 (Photo: Noah Berger)


Thursday, April 26, 7pm

James Chapel, Union Theological Seminary

3041 Broadway, NYC

Dr. Samir Selmanovic, Christian pastor, activist, community engagement consultant, and author will reflect on the current negative experience of capitalism in the United States. He will share his experience and philosophy of religious pluralism and discuss how it demands progressives/liberals such as himself to engage “the other.” This will be followed by a panel discussion with diverse interlocutors and by sharing by all. The evening will be hosted by Paul Tillich Professor Paul Knitter.

Guest Panelists:

Monika Mitchell, CEO of Good-b (Good Business Int’l and co-author of “Conversations with Wall Street: The Inside Story of Financial Armageddon and How to Prevent the Next One” (2011)

Allison Burtch, Occupy Wall Street Journal, contributing editor

Rev. James H. Cooper, Rector of Trinity Wall Street Church

Join our discussion on Twitter at #BeingMad

Sponsored by UTS Interfaith Caucus and Students for Peace and Justice


I will be leading a conversation with two amazing people, Dr. Michael Merrill of Van Arsdale, Jr., Center for Labor Studies and Carolyn Klaasen of Union Theological Seminary and a Protest Chaplain on the topic “Breaking Good: Why and How an Occupied Wall Street Could Join the Occupation?” It will be this Wednesday, Feb 15, at 1pm, with live audience (no RSVP necessary), online and on-demand.  I hope to see you there, and send me some wisdom about what would you say on that topic, or ask.


To Live Is to Be Spiritual, to Live Well Is to Be Religious

by Samir Selmanovic on January 17, 2012

I wrote this article a while ago and am reposting it here to re-heat the issue and to point to a far more comprehensive and in depth excellent article by futurist Mike Morrell, “Jesus and Religion’s Relationship Status: It’s Complicated.” Here is my short article:

An increasing number of people identify with the statement, “I am spiritual but not religious.” Even many religious people don’t know exactly how we got here but we have to honor where our hearts have gone.

Religion is difficult. It has history— and every history has its dark ages or, at the very least, dark moments. And the entire world is the judge. Spirituality, on the other hand, is personal. It starts and ends with me. And I am the judge.

We know there is more to life than what we can see and touch. Our existence is mystical and not just physical. We are all made of this “spiritual stuff,” a dust that remembers its cosmic origins. No-one is spared being human, so none of us are spared from being spiritual. Spirituality is our subjective experience of the common lot of living “in between”—between dust and stardust, glory and gore, matter and spirit. Spirituality is our individual experience of the interior world we all have.

Spirituality does not have to involve religion. It is a way of traveling freely and intimately through the journey of human life, engaging with what’s found there. But, the moment two people begin conversing about the meaning of their experience—the moment they begin naming experiences, thoughts, concepts, practices, convictions, anything at all—is the moment their religion germinates. We want to communicate about and pursue together what we think matters, strive for what is good, struggle against what is bad, cling to what is real and admire what is beautiful.

And the moment a large number of people begin to want the same things and decide to help each other on their journey, we have a major religion.

Religion comes from the Latin root word religio, meaning “to bind back.” We bind ourselves to what we hold as valuable and to others who value the same thing. To thrive and make a difference, every spirituality needs a community— maybe not a church as we know it but certainly a community. In this sense, everyone has religion.

Religion will never go away, for we will always want to make our spirituality function in more than our own isolated selves. We fight over our religions because it is in religion that we fully articulate our differences. Without religion, we would be left to drift with our own meanings, isolated from each other. Without religion, nothing would be passed from generation to generation. Imagine the invention of the wheel, fire and writing, with every new generation taking up the task of inventing them again.

Spirituality, on the other hand, can be frighteningly undemanding. It can serve some kind of generic god that submits himself (or herself ) to our own egos. Such a god never cuts across our will, never confronts, never frustrates and never leads us through dark places.

But the world is often dark and, more importantly, each of us participates in making it the way it is. To change the world, one must be changed oneself, and a god who is not allowed to disagree with us cannot change us. Spirituality without religion has been as much a source of suffering as religion without spirituality.

Religion is a journey of many generations that provides us with a starting point to dig down and find the depth of our soul. Religious traditions—with their accumulated wisdom, practices and an extensive chart of wrong paths taken in the past—can help us stay “with it” until we touch the bottom.

Religion is here to stay, simply because human beings will always put their efforts together in making good— or evil—happen. But it is in a religious community that a robust personal spirituality can develop where it matters most. In community, our personal spiritualities cross pollinate with one another, and interact with the wisdom and strength handed down to us from our religious tradition. In turn, our present contribution can be shared with others in such a community and passed into the future.

To live is to be spiritual.  To live well is to be religious.

(this post is an adaptation of an article I wrote last year for Signs of the Times, Australia)


~ by Samir Selmanovic and Bowie Snodgrass (Huffington Post, 12/25/11)

We are coming to a realization that religious zealots cannot be fought with indifference. Extremists of all nationalities and religious persuasion feeding on prejudice, legislating exclusion, and resorting to violence cannot be prevailed upon by people with less passion. Telling them to “cool down” and to “be moderate” will not do it. We must allow fires greater than theirs to arise. Our passion for a whole and interdependent word must rise above their passion for a segregated and zero-sum world.

In Faith House Manhattan, a non-profit inter-religious “community of communities,” we believe that the time of isolated faith is over. We believe that to know who I am, I must also know who you are. For three years now we have hosted more than 60 Living Room gatherings where people can experiences the practices of another religion (or path, including atheism). We invite all to join our “co-laboratory” of interdependence: “Experience your neighbor’s faith, deepen your own.”

Our call is to get radical. Very radical. We hold that in today’s world, religious people have to remap their reality to include — in tension and in gratitude — ‘the other.’ While our ancestors may have fought for independence, ours is the great struggle for interdependence. ‘The other’ is not over there, but all around us. While we have been conceiving of the world in vertical terms (whose party is better, whose institution is larger, whose nation is stronger, whose god is bigger), the world is becoming increasingly horizontal, and wonderfully so. Can we learn to be a part of the whole?

This past year, Faith House started a new program with four religious communities in Manhattan, who were part of a “Tour Bus” with reciprocal visits to each of our main religious gatherings. We brought people together to trespass imaginary boundaries while preserving the real ones. From an experience of worship at a Hindu temple, to a Jewish Shabbat service, to a Sufi Zikr, to midweek “Space for Grace” at a major Protestant church — either as “Interfaith 101″ or an opportunity for seasoned pilgrims to be hosts or guests in their own setting — this seven-week adventure was a unique New York City experience.

— read the entire article on Huffington Post and comment click HERE


Fasting With Muslims to help Catholics to help New York City!

by Samir Selmanovic on August 24, 2011


Find out MORE.


Softcover edition is here!

by Samir Selmanovic on April 24, 2011

My book is now available in softcover!  It is blue, it has a new subtitle “… How Islam, Atheism, and Judaism Made Me a Better Chritian.”  All else is good ole’.

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