Turtlelog No. 7, www.TheGreatStory.org

Making a Difference

Below is a sample of the kinds of responses our presentations have generated. For the full list, click on responses to our programs.


"Thank you Michael and Connie for coming to Clark College and presenting the keynote speech for the Clark College students and community for our Earth Day celebration on April 22, 2003. Your presentation was inspiring and uplifting and I'm sure others who attended were as deeply moved as I was. The best part about your presentation, in my opinion, was the inclusiveness of your message. Your message and style draws people closer to a true understanding of evolutionary biology and our important role in the universe without creating a divisive atmosphere between religious and non-religious values and beliefs. This is something I have been struggling with in my years of teaching biology at Clark College. I am so happy that so many of my students attended the keynote presentation, and I will definitely be inviting you back to Clark College to present to my biology students in the future. Again thanks for the inspiration. Your genuine enthusiasm has left a lasting impression with us."
Kathleen Perillo, Environmental Biology Professor, Clark College, Vancouver, Washington

"Thank you, Connie, for making me think more deeply about the interconnections in ecosystems. Too often, we base our ecological thinking on the current state of the system without accounting for past changes in community composition. Your revelations about anachronistic species opened my eyes to a missing piece of ecology that was always right in front of me. I can't wait to go home to Ohio and look at the pawpaws, persimmons, honey locusts and Kentucky coffeetrees and imagine the 'ghosts' they represent. You reminded me that we must think about conservation on longer time scales."
— Jason Funk, Doctoral Student, Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, Stanford University


"Dear Michael: People are still buzzing here at United Church in Tallahassee since your sermon and forum with us last month. Your presentations were mind-expanding and invigorating, while also being accessible and entertaining — not an easy feat! One mother of two older elementary-age sons was especially glad to have you speak of the positive relationship between evolution and religion. They've been asking lots of questions for the past couple of years, and she hadn't known quite how to talk about it. Your sermon gave her and the boys fruit for lots of juicy conversation! You'll also be interested to know that several of our members attended the workshop you and Connie did on Tuesday at the Unitarian Universalist Church, and were inspired to start a Lenten study around your book, Earthspirit. One of the leaders is a botanist, and the other is a counselor with deep experience in spiritual formation; so they will bring wonderful insights from their own lives to the leadership of the group. We feel truly blessed that you "fell into our laps" as a visiting speaker. Thanks for all you do, and God bless you both as you continue!"
— Rev. Shelley R. Wagener, United Church of Tallahassee, Florida

"Michael, you have a special gift! Your telling of The Great Story touched me on a very deep level yet, strangely, the response which it elicited was a simple, "of course!", "that's it!", "wow!", "yes!!". I am in awe of your ability to communicate this message so powerfully. May your blessings be as immense as the universe."
Harriet Baker, member of First Presybterian Church of Elizabethton, TN

"Michael does an exquisite job incorporating what we have learned about the universe through modern science into the cosmic story found in scripture and the Christian Tradition. No longer does the Christian mind need to make a choice between Moses and Darwin. The choice has always been for God, and Michael makes this clear using a thorough understanding of scripture and tradition, a depth of appreciation for modern science, and a gift for storytelling and preaching."
— The Rev. Stephen Smith, Rector of St. Patrick's Episcopal Church, Dublin, Ohio


"Michael, DUDE!!!!!! Today was the most pivotal point in my 10 year spiritual journey at Northlake. You gave me answers to questions that I didn't even know were my questions. It made Unitarian Universalism finally make sense to me, and will now allow me to better explain my beliefs. I can't believe that I never thought of the Big Picture concept before today. I hope now my journey will make sense and I will know where I'm going and why. Thank you and Connie so much for the best Sunday experience I have ever had as a Unitarian."
— Neil Levinson, member of Northlake Unitarian Congregation, Kirkland WA

"Thank you, Connie and Michael, for a great intergenerational service. The church was abuzz with delight at the coffee hour and happy comments kept coming my way all week! What was so great was that the service flowed so well that it kept the attention of kids and adults throughout: to learn what we humans share with dinosaurs, to get a picture of what life was like in America long before humans arrived, and to do a Stardust Communion affirming our ancestral link to the stars. We laughed and we cried, and we felt the awe together — everyone from Christians to Religious Naturalists to atheists. Your ebulience, enthusiasm, and erudition captured us all!"
Rev. Sarah Clark, Peterborough NH Unitarian Universalist Church

Michael: I've been a Unitarian Universalist for 45 years and this was one of, if not THE, most meaningful, informative, and entertaining presentations I've ever had the privilege of hearing. Thank you SO much!"
— Fran Gebuhr, Greater Nashville Unitarian Universalist Congregation, TN


"Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow absolutely mesmerized us with their presentations on the new cosmology and story of our universe and with their tales of the prehistoric origins of the North American continent. Both use humor, hands-on activities, and high-energy storytelling to tell a truth that needs to be told all over America — that life on this planet truly is a miracle, and we are the sentient creatures created to know and tell that great universe story."
Rev. Frances Lorenz, Center for Spiritual Living UCRS, Tacoma WA

"I'm not sure which was more exciting: learning about the cosmology of the universe at a level that anyone can understand and become excited about, or experiencing the passion that both Michael and Connie express when teaching about the cosmology of the universe. Their multi-dimensional program reaches to all people, whether it is through story-telling, mini dramatic performances, lecture, or video. Their time with us was so short but full that we plan to invite them back for a full weekend experience."
Debbie Cristafir, Communications Director, Unity Church of Truth, Spokane, WA

"Michael: Greetings and a grateful tip of the appreciation hat for blessing us with your insightful, provocative glimpse into the Kosmos. Feedback has been unqualifiedly enthusiastic, with many requests for a repeat performance in a longer venue. Thanks for touching our hearts and minds with your vision, and know that you are well loved and deeply appreciated in this heart."
— Rev. Chad G. O'Shea, Senior Minister, Unity Center of Christianity, Fletcher NC


"At the Northwest Earth Institute in Portland, three hours with Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd provided a powerful culmination for our staff and volunteers involved in a two-month study of the work of Thomas Berry. Michael's grasp of the Great Story and the Great Work took us much more deeply into Berry's vision and its premises. As a biologist, Connie took us down the path of deep time with wonderful insights on co-evolution of plants and animals, and the lingering impact of extinct or extirpated species on their co-evolution partners.
Jeanne and Dick Roy, co-founders, Northwest Earth Institute, Portland OR

"Basing their talks on cutting edge scientific observations and discoveries, Connie and Michael, who can be called "the Johnny Appleseeds of evolution", give their audiences an experience of awe and wonder at the miracle of creation and the sacredness of human life. Through their passion and zeal, dry scientific facts come alive as a sacred narrative for our age. Listening to them is a truly remarkable experience, an intellectual journey and a spiritual adventure."
— Igal Moria, Impersonal Enlightenment Fellowship, Lenox MA

"Thank you, Connie, for coming to our environmental retreat center in Baltimore County, and staging the 'Coming Home to North America' ritual. Seventeen people participated on Saturday afternoon, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. We will never look at North America the same way again. Even though we could only talk about a few selective features (animals, plants, and physical landforms), we nevertheless got a wonderful 'deep time' perspective about what has been happening on our very own continent. What an imaginative process you came up with to help us learn and understand what has come before. This should be taught in all of the schools! Thank you, thank you for bringing it to us."
— Robin Hessey, volunteer and organizer, Earthome, Baltimore MD


"Connie and Michael: Thank you so much for your presentations at the NAMTA conference [North American Montessori Teachers' Association] in Portland. We came back to our classrooms reinspired. We are rededicated to the Great Story and are looking forward to a continuing connection with your work."
— Kathleen Allen and Gerard Leonard, The Montessori School of Wilton Connecticut

"Thank you for the stunning presentation you both gave at our Montessori Schools of Connecticut conference. Your work is blessed and very important."
— Deborah Deguire, Litchfield CT.

"Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd participated in the National Meeting of the National Center for Independent School Renewal, in February of 2004. Michael delivered the keynote address and both conducted small group discussions. They were both superb. As I met folks coming from their sessions I heard them say that they had some very new ways to look at some very old things — for example, the universe some 14 billion years old. Teachers felt stretched in thinking about both science and religion. I would recommend them to speak to any group of people who are searching for the truth and trying to make that search important in their lives and in the lives of those around them."
— Bob Shirley, president, National Center for Independent School Renewal

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