I'm not even religious, and still The Gospel of John fascinates me. It's just so weird. It starts: “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God,” and gets more cryptic from there. I love that kind of symbolic, mystical wordplay, and apparently so did early Christians, and the Hebrew testament is filled with bizarre (to my modern mind, at least) ideas about words giving power to things. Moses wasn't even granted access to God's real name when he asked for it, and Adam had all sorts of dominion over animals because he was the one to name them all. Scarritt-Bennett's interfaith Wisdom Center is taking this idea and running with it — words are filled with spiritual potential, and they can grant power to those who use them well. Their Essential Conversations, a yearlong series that takes place on the first and third Wednesday of every month, begins today. Each segment of the series is built around a specific word — like “hospitality,” “justice,” “reverence” and “grace” — that serves as its theme. Lunch is served, and a discussion about the spiritual implications of that particular word unfolds. The conversations are hosted by Wisdom House director Rabbi Rami Shapiro, who says that his aim is “to ask hard questions about religion, spirituality and the meaning and purpose of life without insisting upon one right answer.” Shapiro hopes that, simply by putting the question into words, deeper knowledge will be granted.