Version 3

Chris is an engaging speaker who has given lectures, talks, sermons and seminars on a variety of subjects and topics for thirty years.  He is comfortable with either lecture or discussion format.  His degrees in Philosophy and Religion, and years as a teacher and counselor, set a solid groundwork for inspiring events.  His writing offers innovative, creative thinking on issues and concerns that hold attention and call to pragmatic action.

Note to Secular Students:  If you’re a secular student, Secular Student Alliance will help YOU get ME to your campus to speak!  More details here: http://www.secularstudents.org/speakers/ChrisHighland

Comments from former students:

“Your expansive and inclusive approach has been wonderful for me.”

“Thank you for all your classes and thought-provoking discussions.”

“Your wonderful freethinking class has opened new doors and enriched and deepened my own inner forest.”

“Class meetings have been part intellectual challenge, part community and part meditation.”

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CLASSES & PRESENTATIONS

February, 2018.  Freethought in America:  The Nature of Ideas.  Blue Ridge Center for Life Long Learning.  Flat Rock, NC 

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September-November, 2017.  John Burroughs: Freethinking Naturalist.  Reuter Center, UNCA

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October 9, 2017.  John Burroughs and His Gospel of Nature.  “Best of OLLI” Lecture Series, Deerfield, NC

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September 25, 2017.  John Muir Day Presentation.  Grandfather Mountain, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC

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August 26, 2017 (1pm).  Book Reading and signing.  Highland Books.  Brevard, NC

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July 30, 2017.  Stories from the Wild Edges.  UU Congregation, Black Mountain, NC

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March-May, 2017.  Natural Freethought:  Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Robert Ingersoll.   Reuter Center, UNCA

“Outstanding course!”

“Chris is terrific!  I hope to study with him again.”

“One of the better courses I have attended at OLLI.”

“Your course and classroom discussions. . .have been true inspirations to broaden my studies on the history of human thought — particularly in the realms of reason and spirituality.”

“This class is so good!  I wish you were teaching every semester.”

“I really enjoyed and benefited from your class, and meeting Stanton and Ingersoll. I will be, I hope, a little more receptive of the ideas of others in the future!”

“I think you are doing a great job.  It’s always difficult to manage discussions–and even more difficult with controversy.  I really appreciate your approach and the way you lead us through this.”

“I thought Chris was an excellent instructor.  I particularly enjoyed the class discussion and I was a little sad that the course was over.”

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April 16, 2017.  John Muir’s Natural Religion Beyond Belief.  Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Swannanoa Valley

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“Every one I talked with had a non-bewildering response [I spoke of the value of bewilderment!].  They thought you were great!  We hope to have you again. The invitation to return  is not the case with some speakers*

April 9, 2017.  Bible Belt. . .Secular Shoes.  Piedmont Humanists (Greenville, SC)

“It was a delight, and we’d love to do it again. You have an interesting background, and our group really enjoyed hearing you share your insights and the discussion that followed.”

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March 26, 2017. Thoreau’s Light in the Woods.  Neighborhood Assoc. Presentation, Asheville

“Attendees left differently than when they came. There was a beautiful hush, a quiet community of gatherers. Your presentation, your commitment, your love, your insight and your images went deeply. They sure did for me!”

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March 19, 2017.  One Nature Indivisible:  A Natural Ethic of Wild Humanism.  Ethical Humanist Society of Asheville

“Many thanks, Chris. I thoroughly enjoyed your program.”

“Thank you!  Enjoyed it very much!”

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September-November, 2016.  Freethinkers in Early America.  University of North Carolina, Asheville (College for Seniors, OLLI)

“Your class is just terrific…one of the best I’ve ever had!”

“It made me want to learn even more.  I am hoping for another class.”

“[You] introduced me to authors I had never read or even heard of.”

“Just wanted to let you know I really enjoyed yesterday’s class – all have been good – but Muir and the wide-ranging discussion was particularly stimulating!. . . Your own love for his works was very apparent.”

“One of the best instructors I’ve had at OLLI.”

“Free discussion without fear of being ostracized.”

“[An instructor] with excellent qualifications [and] engaging style. . .  A terrific add to the OLLI instructors ranks!!”

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April 17, 2016.  Sunday Assembly (Berkeley, CA).  “John Muir’s Wild Secular Sanctuary”

“Great to have you with us.  Thank you for your presentation!”

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January-May, 2016.  “Nature as Secular Sanctuary:  Freethinkers from Paine to Burroughs.”  College of Marin Community Education

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“Thank you for another wonderful term of inspiring and thought-provoking exploration of the great minds. I look forward to more!”

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November 8, 2015.  Unitarian Universalist Congregation.  San Rafael.  “Where is Home?”

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September-October/October-December, 2015.  “The Wilderness Within:  John Burroughs and Walt Whitman.”  College of Marin Community Education

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“Thanks for another wonderful class. You’ve given me a deeper appreciation for Whitman, and really looking forward to continuing the discussion on freethinking.”

“I watched your vimeo video “Nature Is Better” and really love everything you have presented, including the beautiful photographs.  I also read comments from readers of your books, and realize how world-renowned you are, and how many people are applauding your work and touched by it.

We are lucky here in Marin to have you lead us in your teachings.”

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May 30, 2015.  “Nature is (Super) Enough.”  San Francisco Atheists.  (Videotaped for The Clergy Project)

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March 26-April 30, 2015.  “A Wild Spirituality of Nature:  On the Trail of John Muir and John Burroughs.”  College of Marin Community Education

“How great to hear that our fantastic classes resume this Fall!  Your classes are just wonderful and I wish not to miss!”

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March 1, 2015.  “Meditations with Nature.”  Service at The Redwoods community, Mill Valley

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January 29-March 12, 2015. “A Wild Spirituality of Nature: On the Trail of John Muir and John Burroughs.” College of Marin Community Education

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This Winter Quarter session highlighted significant women who impacted, influenced and inspired these naturalists.

“A sensitve and talented teacher, much appreciated, much admired, especially for his ability to communicate with us rather than lecture to us.”

“A truly redeeming part of my life!”

“I came in hoping to be inspired.  I have been!”

“I come to class each week wondering, ‘Why would someone want to be anywhere else?!”

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September-December, 2014. “A Wild Spirituality of Nature: On the Trail of John Muir and John Burroughs.” College of Marin Community Education

“I am enjoying the class tremendously and am regretting it ending. . .WOW. You have covered so much and now there are all these glaciers of possibilities to explore for me, on my own and maybe later in class again. Thank you for being so broad in your scope; open-minded and inclusive. I think of this as a philosophy course above all. So refreshing for me.  Thanks so much.”

“My sincere thanks for this awakening experience.”

“Thanks to you, reading Muir I have found a kindred and spokesman for much that I have said or thought about the wilderness.”

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August 3, 2014.  “Nature and Wonder:  Secular Spirituality.”  First United Lutheran, San Francisco

“What a wonderful time we had last Sunday.  I think my congregation might be budding free thinkers.”

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March-May, 2014. “A Wild Spirituality of Nature: On the Trail of John Muir and John Burroughs.”  College of Marin Community Education

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“I am thoroughly enjoying being on the trail with JM & JB (& CH!). . . . My artist eye has widened and I frequently stop to soak it in and contemplate. I love our wildlife sighting discussions, and found I am just that much more aware of the life around me. The solace I have always found in nature is deepening.  The readings I have done are a great exploration, though I admit I want to do more. I have really enjoyed the selections you have read in class, and the reading we do together. It is nice to delve into a paragraph of your choosing as a group, and the enthusiasic way you read your selections draws me in.”

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March 16, 2014.  “Secular Chaplains:  John Burroughs.”  Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Marin.

“Wish we had had more time before the service to talk.  So many people told me after the service how much they had enjoyed your talk.  Looking forward to next time.” (congregational leader)

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January-March, 2014. “A Wild Spirituality of Nature: On the Trail of John Muir and John Burroughs.”  College of Marin Community Education

“I’m really enjoying myself–haven’t been in class for a long time but yours has made it very worthwhile, so “Thank You!”  I think you’re handling the material very well given the fact the subject matter and “the cast” (Muir, Burroughs, Emerson, and the gang) could take this in multiple directions at once which, obviously, can be challenging in a 7 week course.  But you’re doing a great job keeping the class focused but also flexible enough to touch on various areas of interest (and questions) that come up in class.You have a very inviting, welcoming teaching style and each week the class seems to warm up and want to engage in more conversation which is good.”

“I loved being in your class and learning new ways to reflect on Muir’s life and writings, as well as opening some new doors to people I’d never read before. Thank you for the time you put into your class to make it meaningful for us.”

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August-November, 2013.“Rivers of Wisdom:  A Short Course on World Religions.”  The Tamalpais, Marin County, CA

“We really want to continue this course!  When are you coming back?” (participant)

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April 21, 2013.  “A Celebration of Nature”.  The Redwoods, Mill Valley, CA

“This was so inspiring!  Made my day.  The best “church” I’ve been to lately!” (participant)

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April 22, 2013.  “Contemplating Our Natural Home, Classroom and Sanctuary.”  Marin Interfaith Council Contemplative Series.  Church of Christ Scientist, Mill Valley, CA

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February, 2013.  “Meditations with John Muir.”  The Redwoods, Mill Valley, CA

Presentation in LeConte Chapel, Yosemite
Presentation in LeConte Chapel, Yosemite

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February 28, 2013.  Wallbuilders or Bridgebuilders:  Spiritual and Secular Side by Side in Service.”  UC Davis.  Invited by the Agnostic and Atheist Students Association.

“Thank you for doing this.  We were surprised to see Evangelicals here and there was good discussion.” (participant)

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April 19, 2012 at 2:30pm.  “By the Hand of Nature:  John Muir as Natural (Secular) Saint.”  Earth Week.  Cabrillo College, Aptos, CA. Sponsored by the Secular Students Association and the Sustainability Council.

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Fall 2012.  “Cooperative Housing for Seniors.”  Part of a forum for housing advocates.  Health and Wellness Center, San Rafael.

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November 9, 2010.  “Jesus and John Muir: A Wilderness Novel.”  Lecture on the book.  Part of the Cultural Expressions Program at Dominican University of California, San Rafael.  Noon, Creekside Room.

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February 27, 2010, “Compassion on the Edges.”  Workshop (with Chaplain Paul Gaffney), United Methodist Annual Conference, Temple United Methodist, SF, CA

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December 10, 2009. “Work with Marginalized Persons.” Chaplaincy Institute, Berkeley, CA

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November 29, 2009 @ 11am:  “The Nature of Shelter.” Unitarian-Universalist Congregation, San Rafael, CA

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July 26, 2009 @ 9:30am:  Sermon on “Re-defining the Sacred.” Christ Presbyterian Church, Terra Linda, CA

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April 26, 2009 @ 9:30am:  Sermon on “God is Green.” Christ Presbyterian Church, Terra Linda, CA

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Faculty Supervisor for a Master of Divinity student’s Junior Project in an Oregon Women’s Prison

Cherry Hill Seminary

Fall 2012-Winter 2013

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“Survey of Chaplaincy”

Cherry Hill Seminary (online course)

Fall 2011

“Thanks so much for opening my eyes to the world of chaplaincy. I think I may have found just where the Gods wanted me to be.”

~Pagan Chaplain

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“John Muir and Walt Whitman: Poetry and Politics of Nature”

 Cherry Hill Seminary (online course)

Fall 2010

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“Interfaith Ministry with Homeless Persons” (Masters Workshop)

Chaplaincy Institute, Berkeley

December 9, 2010

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“Walt Whitman and the Genius of Common People”

Dominican University of California, San Rafael

Summer 2009

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“The Wild Gospel of Nature”

Dominican University of California, San Rafael

Summer 2008

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Medford-Barnes and Noble 2005 001 Medford 004

Barnes and Noble, Medford, OR (2005)

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