Monday, October 17, 2016

Spirituality Study Group notes

Though I'm not reading the 8:45am Sunday Spirituality Study Group's current book, I appreciate to occasionally drop in to check out the valuable exchange.  (YOU'RE WELCOME TO ALSO DROP IN.)  We're now discussing a book entitled Grateful Living (see URL at ).  More than 60 of the most enlightened and beloved articles by the late Rev. Dr. Dale Turner, Seattle Times columnist and Congregational minister.  Essays on love, gratitude, tolerance, acceptance, and more.

My two favorite quotes about coping-->
"God doesn't require us to succeed; he only requires that you try."  (Mother Teresa, recently anointed a saint by Pope Francis)
"Grief is our deepest most difficult emotion.  Integrate loss into your life."  (Sharon Wilbourn, Broadview UCC member)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Adult Spirituality Group notes

For our first Sunday morning gathering to open and discover our new book, some of the five participants had read the Introduction and Chapter 1, entitled "From Atheism to Belief".  We thought through concepts of atheistic, agnostic, and belief/faith in a higher power/God.   (Please check out a related online article book review of "Agnostic: A Spirited Manifesto".)

The author synopsized his entry into faith:
"I had started this journey of intellectual exploration to confirm my atheism.  That now lay in ruins as the argument from the Moral Law "the law of right behavior" (and many other issues) forced me to admit the plausibility of the God hypothesis.  Agnosticism, which had seemed like a safe second-place haven, now loomed like the great cop-out it often is.  Faith now seemed more rational than disbelief."  
"It also became clear to me that science, despite its unquestioned powers in unraveling the mysteries of the natural world, would get me no further in resolving the question of God.  If God exists, than He must be outside the natural world, and therefore the tools of science are not the right ones to learn about Him.  Instead, as I was beginning to understand from looking into my own heart, the evidence of God's existence would have to come from other directions, and the ultimate decision would be based on faith, not proof.  Still beset by rolling uncertainties of what path I had started down, I had to admit that I had reached the threshold of accepting the possibility of a spiritual worldview, including the existence of God."
For next week:  Please read Chapter 2 (pp. 33-54) to discuss.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Adult Spirituality Group notes

It's a perfect time to join us next week!  We'll begin discussion of our new book, entitled The Language of God - A Scientist Presents Evidence For Belief (URL), by Francis S. Collins.

On the book is written the following:
     "Collins's argument that science and faith are compatible deserves a wide hearing.  It lets non-church goers consider spiritual questions without feeling awkward."  - The New York Times Book Review
     "The Language of God is a powerful confession of belief from one of the world's leading scientists.  Refuting the tired stereotypes of hostility between science and religion, Francis Collins challenges his readers to find a unity of knowledge that encompasses both faith and reason."  --Kenneth Miller, Brwon University, author of Finding Darwin's God
     "What an elegantly written book.  In it Francis Collins, the eminent scientist, tells why he is also a devout believer....A real godsend for those with questioning minds but who are also attracted to things spiritual."  --Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Dr. Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, is one of the world's leading scientists.  He works at the cutting edge of the study of DNA, the code of life.  Yet he is also a man of unshakable faith in God and scripture.
Dr. Collins believes that faith in God and faith in science can coexist within a person and be harmonious.  In The Language of God, he makes his case for God and for science.  He has heard every argument against faith from scientists, and he can refute them.  He has also heard the needless rejection of scientific truths by some people of faith, and he can counter that, too.  He explains his own journey from atheism to faith, and then takes readers for a stunning tour of modern science to show that physics, chemistry, and biology can all fit together with belief in God and the Bible.  The Language of God is essential reading for anyone who wonders about the deepest questions of faith:  Why are we here?  How did we get here?  What does life mean?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Adult Spirituality Group notes

At the start of each meeting, we all ask around, "Where and how did you see God in your life this week?"  For instance, we reconnect with wisdom and perspective via (73 year old) Joan Baez' songs about God, overnight at 3am when all our cells are open, and Sunday morning bright sunrises.

For this week, we read Chapter 7, "The Practice of Living with Purpose -- Vocation" (An Altar in the World , by Barbara Brown Taylor.)

The author summarizes that no matter what we're doing, it's up to us to decide what that purpose is.  "The point is to find something that feeds your sense of purpose, and to be willing to look low for that purpose as well as high.  It may be chopping wood and it may be running a corporation.  Whatever it is, perhaps you will hold open the possibility that doing it is one way to learn what it means to become more fully human, as you press beyond being good to being good for something, in a world with the perfect job for someone like you." 

Day discussed the idea of karma yoga, which is the notion of approaching work as a spiritual practice.  The author writes, "Work connects us to other people....  Every human interaction offers you the chance to make things better or to make things worse.  To decide to make things better can cost you bundles of self-interest."  (p. 114)
--Pete added that all work must involve personal investment (ego) and have tolerable conditions.

Rose became enthusiastic to find out more about having a church social game night, perhaps at the Chili Cook-off next Saturday, or near the Winter Solstice at 6:30 PM, 12/20/14.

Looking forward to next week, please read Chapter 8, "The Practice of Saying No -- Sabbath" (p. 121).  Thank you.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Adult Spirituality Group notes

This Sunday, we traveled in Chapter 6 & 7 to explore the concepts of land ownership two thousand years ago in Jesus' age.  It was very different than today.  For example:
• Every 50 years, the land went back to the "original owner".   Check out the concept of (See URL->) "Jubilee".
• In China, every 99 years the land goes back to the state.  This recently happened in Hong Kong, e.g.
Native Americans didn't have a concept for land ownership.  Nobody could "own" anything.  Things were commonly held.

Member Jan van Pelt brought several suggestions for the next book we should read.  Group members were most interested in two books written by Barbara Brown Taylor.  You're welcome to take a look at the following online book descriptions: 
(See URL->)  Altar In The World  (Two months ago she was on the cover of Time magazine.)  This book is about finding God outside of church.
(See URL->)  Learning To Walk In the Dark  (Her newest work!)  This book is about how it is out of the dark that new epiphanies happen.

For next Sunday:  (8/25)
Please have read Chapter 8 (p. 90->) and Chapter 9 (p. 103->).  Thanks!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Adult Spirituality Group notes

1.  This week, we entertained a question surmised from our reading about Jewish self-identity and their erroneous concept from old times that Israel was given to them.  (They first killed all people's on the land in Israel.) 
- Jews need to figure out how they're going to get beyond the victim/oppressor mentality.  For example, Jews have often taken unfavorable jobs, e.g., money changers.
- Jews have been out of Covenant repeatedly and been brought back.

2.  Ok, we're at the height/depth of the summer!  You should know our schedule.
For next week:  Let's read Chapter 6 (p. 46+), Prologue (p. 73+), & Chapter 7 (p. 80).

While members Rose & Pete will be on vacation, we need leaders for four Sundays:
8/24/14 - Charlotte will lead our book discussion.
8/31/14 - Our class is cancelled for Labor Day.r
9/7/14   - Charlotte will lead our book discussion.
9/13/14 - It is unclear who will lead the week's discussion.  Any volunteers?

P.S. - Charlotte made an Activist Plug -> Don't let the FCC allow a merger of telecommunication companies!  Please read the article by Bill Moyers
"Don’t Let Net Neutrality Become Another Broken Promise".

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Adult Spirituality Group notes

Hearts aglow, we began by congratulating ourselves for our nuanced study of history and doing what is pointed out in an issue, entitled (see URL->) "Wade Deep: Bible Study as a Remedy for Shallow Faith" (Circuit Rider magazine May/June/July 2004). 

We soon lathered into discussion:
Chapter 3: You Know Where I Come From
The early Christian community appears not to have been particularly concerned about any aspect of Jesus' life before the launch of his ministry.  This later on became more important.  Reza Aslan, author of our book Zealot, spells out how Jesus was born in the tiny hillside village of Nazareth, not Bethlehem.  Mathew and Luke, in the New Testament, both tried to make Jesus fit into the Jewish myths and prophecies about the coming Messiah.  For example, "The Jewish Messiah is the descendant of King David; he comes to restore Israel, to free the Jews from the yoke of Roman occupation, and to establish God's rule in Jerusalem." (p. 28)

--This chapter reminded Pete Bailey of Joseph Campbell's book, (see URL->) The Power of Myth

Chapter 4: The Fourth Philosophy
This chapter discussed the philosophy that was context to Jesus in Palestine.  Jesus toiled as a tecton, a woodworker or builder, six days a week, from sunup to sundown, to build palatial houses for Jewish aristocracy, returning to his crumbling mud-brick home at night.  He would have witnessed for himself the rapidly expanding divide between the absurdly rich and the indebted poor.

--Check out the article, (see URL->) Sunday Homily: Pope Francis on Wealth Redistribution that tackles the chasmic wealth gap today!

The fourth philosophy was centered about the notion of zeal, after which our book Zealot is named.  Zeal implied a strict adherence to the Jewish Torah and the Law, a refusal to serve any foreign master--to serve any human master at all--and an uncompromising devotion to the sovereignty of God.  Many Jews in first-century Palestine strove to live a life of zeal in his or her own way.  During Jesus' lifetime, zealotry did not signify a firm sectarian or a political party.  It was an idea, an inspiration, a model of piety inextricably linked to the widespread sense of apocalyptic expectation that had seized the Jews in the wake of the Roman occupation. (p. 41)

For Next Week:
We should definitely read both Chapter 5 (p. 46+) Where is Your Fleet to Sweep the Roman Seas and the notes (p. 233+).  The notes will enrich our understanding of author Reza Aslan's research.