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Is a "sacred secular world" an answer
to what many are seeking or is it an oxymoron?
Come to the Interfaith Presentation 10-25-18
for the answer


Chris Highland brings us insights from his book
A Freethinker’s Gospel: Essays for a Sacred Secular World
Chris Highland was a Protestant minister and interfaith chaplain for many years before becoming a humanist celebrant. With a degree in Religion and Philosophy from an evangelical Christian university (Seattle Pacific) and a Master of Divinity degree from a diverse consortium of seminaries (Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley), he has been active in “presence ministry” and nonprofit work in a private school, a county jail, homeless shelters, and affordable housing.
He is the author of ten books including Meditations of John Muir, My Address Is a River, Life after Faith, the novella Jesus and John Muir, as well as an essay collection, Nature Is Enough. He has taught courses on Nature Literature and Freethought in California and North Carolina. He was born and reared in the Pacific Northwest and lived for over thirty-five years in the San Francisco Bay Area. Chris and his wife, Carol, a Presbyterian minister, live in Asheville, North Carolina. His website is
Chris blogs at Secular Chaplain. As a member of The Clergy Project, he contributes to Rational Doubt on Patheos. Seeking wider connections, he also holds membership in the American Humanist Association, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Religious Naturalist Association, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation. 
Since 2016 he has written weekly “Highland Views” columns for the Asheville Citizen-Times (a USA Today affiliate), addressing humanism, the natural world, and sensitive issues of faith. Previous books include his “Meditations” series of Henry David Thoreau (2002), Ralph Waldo Emerson (2004), Walt Whitman (2004), Margaret Fuller (2007), and John Burroughs (2007).
Experts Praise A Freethinker’s Gospel
Soothing and stimulating at the same time, these very digestible “meditations” show how a secular writer can convey very timely and worthy messages without being quarrelsome. Kudos to Chris Highland for taking us down this pleasant path of wisdom and realism.
–Linda LaScola, co-founder of The Clergy Project co-author, Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind
How grateful I am [for] Chris Highland, a wise, compassionate guide who has blazed his own trail through the wilderness on the other side of faith.
–Bart Campolo, humanist chaplain, U. of Cincinnati host, Humanize Me podcast
This seminal work by former minister/chaplain Chris Highland is captivating, intriguing, and challenging. Each chapter is a gem in itself, and together they make for a powerful book.
–John S. Compere, PhD; VP, The Clergy Project, author, Outgrowing Religion
I was particularly struck with [the] straight to the heart and straight to the point presentation. . . . [A] very nice mix of well-crafted, substantive columns.
–Laurence Cotton, historian producer, Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America
What I love about this book is that it truly—and intentionally—honors questions, not answers. The essays are varied, inspiring, informative and creative. [It’s] a great companion for time alone or for stimulating conversation with others.
–Sara Vurek, Buddhist, board-certified clinical chaplain
Chris Highland’s . . . articles are delightful and stimulating excursions for anyone. His genuine interest in the thoughts of others and his willingness to describe his own, reveals a well-grounded sensibility that seeks to bridge the gaps between people divided by their beliefs or doubts.
–Jim Gronvold author, Pith & Piffle: overt verse
 Meet the author and join the discussion at 
Grateful Steps
(directions and photo of our site below)
at our usual Interfaith Program date and time

(the last Thursday of the month):
October 25, 5:30 to 7

Refreshments will be served:
Del Vecchios Stromboli

All faiths are welcome.
We like to learn about your faith and tell you about ours.
NEAR DEATH: THE EXPERIENCE by Steven Cox is our newest book

Grateful Steps announces the arrival of Near Death: The Experience, a new book by Western North Carolina author Steven Cox.
A variety of characters with corrupt moral behavior are subjected to a bizarre experience in which they perceive they have faced eternal torment unless they return to their life without the person they have wronged and mend their ways for twenty years, at the end of which time they are given a choice.
The science fiction book depicts an elaborate system used by NDEC, a secret federal organization, to brainwash evil people into being good people, referred by their victims. A church music director, for example, is referred by his wife for chronic domestic violence. A Columbian drug lord is referred for the “treatment” by his stepson. But the program undergoes some critical challenges when it is discovered that one of those "evil" people has become president of the United States. Possible consequences of forcing evil people to be good people may not always be positive.

 The book is fast moving with a plot that constantly challenges the reader's interpretation skills.
Steven Cox, born May 23, 1977, grew up in Concord, North Carolina. "Life was rough, but it was also fun." He moved to Burnsville when he was 15. Life in the small mountain town wasn’t any easier, but it never got less fun either. Steven currently lives in Asheville, working as an executive chef in one of the better joints near one of the rivers. The author states, "Been through it a few times. I hope to write a bunch more books . . . for many reasons."
Follow this newsletter for details of the book launch. You might suspect there will be some wonderful tacos waiting. Near Death: The Experience can be purchased at the Grateful Steps Bookshop and other area bookstores. It may also be obtained online at, at and at  

Also Just Arrived:
Office in Back by Linda L. Harley
Why Does God Pull Teeth by Denise Owen, Jo Wicker
Soon to Arrive:
Reflections of Emma by Robert Tate
Bits of Sugar (2014 Short Story Contest Winners) 
Invisible by Angela Evans
Joy on the Mountain by Wilma Styles
A subsequent newsletter will include information about our new book: Why Does God Pull Teeth?, our November and December artists and our November Interfaith presenter.
Grateful Steps is a 501c3 public charity. We love giving back for our blessings. We bring voices to the community that otherwise might not be heard, we contribute to the preservation of Appalachian history, and we provide space for a variety of groups.
     We need your support. Your donation helps us help others as a ministry through publishing. As a nonprofit, traditional publisher, we turn to the community to support our books. Follow our newsletter, website, social media and mailings for more details. 
Please donate at our website,, or mail your donation to our address below. Or better yet, come by and meet us. Volunteers are always welcome. Thank you!
Note: If you have difficulty seeing the newsletter images, especially if they are lying over text, click on the message: "view as web page."
With best wishes from all of us at Grateful Steps: Micki (executive director), Michele (design consultant), Tom (facilities manager), and our many volunteers.

Here are directions; DRIVE WEST ON PATTON after crossing the bridge leaving downtown. Turn right at the 3rd traffic light, a corner with KFC and Wells Fargo. It is Louisiana Avenue. Go uphill to a light and turn left. It is Hazel Mill Road. Wind your way down the hill to a new traffic light and turn left. It is Emma Road. It merges into Ben Lippen Road. If you use a GPS or Google, be sure to include the entire name (30 Ben Lippen School Road), or you will be led astray. Ben Lippen School Road is the road at our entrance. Continue up the hill until reaching the "crest.” You can't miss Crest Mountain, a development on your right with a huge entrance covering an entire bank. We are the first building, on the left with a green roof, as you come up the Crest Mountain entrance road. 
   See the picture below of our new site. We are on the lower level. Drive to the left of the building and come down (see ⇑ below) a little hill to the lower level entrance. There is tons of parking.

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Grateful Steps  •  Crest Mountain, 30 Ben Lippen School Road, Suite 107  •  Asheville, NC 28806

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