Sunday, February 11, 2024

Spirituality Study Group notes:

 9 parishioners attended:  (Gudrun M. & H., Rose/Thorn, Rae, Ruthie, Judy/Harry, and Day)

(Day M.)    God is the (see links) Web of Life in nature

(Pete T.)    I relate the book to Turtle Island, how the Sky Woman falls, dancing the Earth into being.

(Rae S.)    I was struck by how grateful the Sky Woman was to creation.  She has seeds in her hand!  This is very different than Adam and Eve being expelled from the garden of Eden.

(Rose B.)    Looking at the Discussion Questions (at the end of the book?), I note positive interactions between humans and Earth nowadays:  For example, veganism and wildlife coming back.

(Gudrun M.)    The first religions were nature based.  Origin stories vary, e.g., deserts in the middle-east vs. the lush new world in USA.

(Ruthie H.)    I grew up in the midwest in Indiana, which had more extremes during seasons.

(Judy H.)     I've always seen myself as coming from immigrant stock and relate with pilgrims around the world, e.g., in the Middle East.

(Ruthie H.)    The roots of plants/trees are underground so communicating and interacting.  See the book - Witness Tree, by Linda V. Makes (writer for the Seattle Times).  

(Pete T.)    Please check out a splendid poem, 'Bless This Land', out of the book - An American Sunrise.


For next week:  Lets read 'Gifts of Strawberries' (p. 22 - >)  &  'An Offering' (p. 33 ->), 17 pages total.

 -- Thanks for your comments below --

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Spirituality Study Group notes

Our group read the introduction & chapter 1 of the book The Common Good, by Robert B. Reich.  (See a book description -

        -- Our lively conversation was aided with a concise discussion guide, pp 191-193 --

Day M. - Conservatives make a rational argument against providing United States assistance towards the global common good:  "Let's instead prioritize care for our citizens.  We aren't the world and can't help everyone.  Our 'global leadership' is for our military budget, which tends to fuel American military contractors and maintains our edge."

Pete R. - Our primary obligation is to be informed citizens.  Free public libraries are a public good.  For example, one can post there to give away one's computer.

Judy H. - If more wealth recompensed necessary works we wouldn't need the wealthy to 'give'.

Harry H. - Scandinavian countries are social democracies.  Jesus propounded Agape.

Gudrun M. - Let's assist others to take responsibilities and obligations, a challenge in Scandinavia.

 Rose B. - Nowadays we have so much more wealth than our grandparents, which in Seattle causes a digital divide.

For next week, please read Chapters 2 & 3, which equals 30 pages.

The next book we'll read/discuss is Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer.  The book explores reciprocal relationships between humans and the land, with a focus on the role of plants and botany in both Native American and Western traditions.  (Rose Bailey will group order the book this week.)

* See a book description -

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Spirituality Study Group notes

Day read out loud the following quote from the chapter, entitled "Envy: That Guy Goes Past Yet Again in His Mercedes-Benz":
We tend to compare ourselves to those who are in our social circle.  According to the happiness research, "upward comparisons" are particularly corrosive to our well-being.  Envy doesn't leave room for joy.  The Tibetan word for envy is trakdok, which means "heavy or constricted shoulders," and indeed the feeling of envy leaves one with a pinched feeling of discontent and resentment, tinged with guilt. (p. 137)

We reflected upon 5 powerful remedies for envy to be able to regain a full open heart in today's discussion.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu revealed his three remedies:

  1. Gratitude -- by counting your blessings
  2. Motivation -- by using one's envy as a spur to improve our situation
  3. Re-framing -- by analyzing why I want to have something
Judy remarked following our group's contemplation period that this process of 4. centering helps us start anew with a tuned conscience, amidst clingy memories and associations. 

For ten years when growing up, Giselle studied at a school taught in French, held within a convent.  "We always went for 5. confession and asked forgiveness for our moral errors.  Openly describing our moral quandaries was useful to bring light to these subconscious feelings."
* Check out the following online video, "Busted Halo: Faith Shared Joyfully", describing the process of confession -

For next week:  Please have read p. 145-168.

 -- Thanks for your comments below --

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Spirituality Study Group notes

Today, we examined the requirement for humans to cooperate to be able to together create more advanced societies:

 (Joan)  "It's not just surviving, but cooperating.  Cooperation is Christianity at its best.  We depend upon each other.  When we are grateful for the whole, we can thrive in civil society."

(Day)  "Trump Republicans hail to "make America great again" through private initiative and competition.  This is not the best way we together can bond to thrive as a diverse complex community, but rather a retrenchment towards reptilian survival instincts of fear and separateness from others.  I have found that cooperative democratic socialism in Sweden has been a wonderful way to rationally plan a thriving civil society."

(Harry)  "Part of our humanity is being enlarged and informed by our differences, not retrenchment into hate and delusion."

(Pete)  There have always been bad times, e.g., the 1965 murder of a Unitarian minister.  As  President Thomas Jefferson said, "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance."  Check out the following online article for inspiration, entitled "Rev. James Reeb died in Selma 50 years ago today. He should be remembered for how he lived!"

For Next Week:  Please read p. 135-157.

 -- Thanks for your comments below --

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Spirituality Study Group notes

Today, our group of nine attendees strategized how to be joyful while sensitive and connected to the complex world that is full of tragedies and dysfunction:

(Rose) "Knowing what is going on in the world is of value because it helps you to reach out and relate with others.  When you read about history, there's always been strife, conflict, and disorder.  For example, in the 13th and 14th centuries there was the (URL) Black Death.  Some places lost most of their people from the Bubonic Plague!"
(Judy)  "During the Holocaust, people who gave up hope, turned over and died."
(Harry) "We can be depressed in times of depression or disaster, but hope lasts a longer time.  Reinhold Niebuhr wrote that joy and sorrow comes from the same source."
* Below is his famous prayer about "enjoying one moment at a time".  We together queried whether this is the best way to experience joy in this world:

The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

For Next Week:  Please read up to p. 133.

 -- Thanks for your comments below --

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Spirituality Study Group notes

We relished Archbishop Tutu's group prayer as a way to open our important conversation:
"Let's be still for a moment.  Come, Holy Spirit.  Fill the hearts of thy faithful people and kindle in them the fire of thy love.  Send forth thy spirit and they shall be made new and thou shalt renew the face of the earth.  Amen."  (p. 29)
We threaded how "Fear, Stress, and Anxiety" are related and resolved in the Chapter, p. 93-108:
Harry clarified that fear has an object, whereas anxiety has no object.
"Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to act despite it.  Courage is indeed the triumph of our heart's love and commitment over our mind's reasonable murmurings to keep us safe." (p. 93)
Anxiety and stress often come from too much expectation and too much ambition.
"The Archbishop and the Dalai Lama encourage us to develop Stress Resilience.  This involves turning what is called "threat stress," or the perception that a stressful event is a threat that will harm us, into what is called "challenge stress," or the perception that a stressful event is a challenge that will help us grow.  The remedy they offer is quite straight forward.  One simply notices the flight-or-flight stress response in one's body--the beating heart, the pulsing blood or tingling feeling in our hands and face, the rapid breathing--then remembers that these are natural responses to stress and that our body is just preparing to rise to the challenge." (p. 99)
Comments on how being on a spiritual path can counter materialism:
(Joan)  "Christianity is counter culture, battling consumerism about stuff."
(Day)  "When we are striving for things, we get on this train.  We forget what we are now and being present to what we have."
(Rose)  "Recently, I was inspired by Alice Walker, who practices Buddhism.  "
* Please enjoy Bill Moyers' web interview, entitled Alice Walker on the Power of Meditation

For Next Week:  Please read "Sadness and Grief: The Hard Times Knit Us More Closely Together" & "Despair: The World is in Such Turmoil", p. 109-123.

 -- Thanks for your comments below --

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Spirituality Study Group notes

Our group's constructive spiritual remedy for countervailing forces is centering prayer at the start of our morning discussion.  This prayer helps collect, integrate, and recall all our varied mental/emotional situations during the previous week.   We groaned upon mention that a conservative evangelist had prayed, "God, let those who oppose Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court have confusion." 

The Soul provides an omnipresent heartful constructive response:
1.  (Day)  "Christian prayer is raising everyone's boat with your heart, getting buoyant above/outside of one's box."
2.  (Ruth) "Our synapses are opened up/benefited in Christian prayer by stepping back and not reacting."
3.  Check out the following comical dramatic sketch URL: "I'm not dead yet!" in the film, Monte Python and the Holy Grail.

The book clarifies one's experience of negativity in constructive prayer:
"Throughout the week of dialogues, the Archbishop said many times that we should not berate ourselves for our negative thoughts and emotions, that they are natural and unavoidable.  They are only made more intense, he argued, by the glue of guilt and shame when we think we should not have them.  The Dalai Lama agreed that human emotions are natural, but he did argue about whether they are unavoidable.  Mental immunity, he explained, is the way to avoid them.

"Through self-inquiry and meditation, we can discover the nature of the mind and learn to soothe our emotional reactivity.  This will leave us less vulnerable to the destructive emotions and thought patterns that cause us so much suffering.  This is the process of developing mental immunity."
For Next Week:  Please read "Fear, Stress, and Anxiety:  I would Be Very Nervous", p. 93-108.

-- Thanks for your comments below --