Sunday, June 27, 2010

Adult Spirituality Group Notes: (6/27/10)

Today, the group discussed the chapter, "Unsaying the word of God":
--"We humans learn best when we can relate new knowledge to what we already know." (Rose) When we try to frame God through out word symbols, humans often have a tendency to become dogmatic and fundamentalist, boxed in by our own thoughts. When we approach God, we should use intuition to not limit and become bound by the thoughts we use to learn about God. For this reason, Francis (dark-haired) remarked that "The book's author, David James Duncan, takes a Dr. Seuss approach to diagnosing the contemporary American spirit."
* Our group feels that BCUCC is different than the churches that Duncan is critical of. "BCUCC gives confidence in your faith because it expands your thinking, giving windows, not walls." (Rose)
* We do not feel our church is that unique in this regard. "There is hope for common vistas between viewpoints in and among churches. For example, recently a Southern Baptist was on National Public Radio mentioning that loving Earth is loving God, and that he wanted church-goers to take the Earth seriously as one of our spiritual goals." (Charles & Francis)
* "Speaking of woo-woo though. Meister Eckhart, a mystic who lived in 13th century Europe) was considered apostate (a non-believer) by the Catholic church." (Bob)

We related to the author's discussion of a soul's hunger at the end of the chapter:
"On loving God: In the period of preparation for loving God, the soul loves in emptiness. It does not know whether anything real answers its love. It may believe that it knows but to believe is not to know. Such a belief does not help. The soul knows for certain only that it is hungry. The important thing is that it announces its hunger by crying. A child does not stop crying if we suggest to it that perhaps there is no such thing as bread. It goes on crying just the same. The danger is not lest the soul should doubt whether there is bread, but lest by a lie, it should persuade itself that it is not hungry. It can only persuade itself of this by lying, for the reality of its hunger is not a belief, it is a certainty."
(by Simone Weil, p. 31)

(The group had a broad, complex, in-depth discussion of the nature of God & the human necessity of belief in God's infallibility. I was unable to properly transcribe its nuggets to notes.)

NEXT WEEK: Read Chapter 3 "What Fundamentalists Need For Their Salvation" (p. 33 ->)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Adult Spirituality Group Notes (6/20/10)

Today, the group discussed the first chapter of God Laughs & Plays:
- Author David James Duncan is a writing professor, who lives in western Montana and home schools his children. He experiences the Grace of aloneness and God in nature, but has allergies to organized religion from a poor childhood experience in church. Thus, he hasn't been to church in 35 years! As a church going group, we decided that his vantage and perspective was initially at odds to our own. We defended the value of our church discussions and fellowship and queried, "If against organized religion, is one also against community?"

WONDER: We relished the chapter section on the spiritual benefits of wonder. Wonder is unknowing experienced as pleasure. Wonder doesn't have room for fear and anxiety. Like Grace, wonder defies rational analysis.
"As a facial expression, wonder is the letter our eyes and mouths make when the state itself descends. O: God's middle initial. O: because wonder Opens us. O(ld) becomes new. Wonder is anything taken for granted - the old neighborhood, old job, old buddy, old spouse - suddenly filled with mystery. Wonder is anything closed, suddenly opening..." (p. 9)

YOGI: This section reminded us of a few things:
1. An intuitive response is not so scripted. As listener to this response, it is more important for us to look at the unscripted comments for the place from which they come.
2. The dance of life is a balance between careful attention to high quality practiced endeavor and explorative openness to newness of perception & wonder.

GLADLY: My twin nieces are visiting Seattle right now. After church, I, my sister, nieces, and mom used "Skype" (internet video telephone) to call my dad for Father's Day. It was a wonderful example of the power of the "gladly" section. My mom, sister, and I had deeper questions about the nuances of Dad's life. Dad appreciated the contact, but I noticed truly came alive when Josephine and Thais, my 8 month old twin nieces became enthralled by how the computer screen was actually the grandpa that they had hugged and new well from earlier. The babies were pure and bright. Their glad enthusiasm was wholesome & healing for the family.

FOR NEXT WEEK (6/27/10):
Read the chapter two, "Unsaying the Word, "God", p. 17 ->.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Adult Spirituality Group Notes (6/13/10)

(11 participants)
Thanks to Charles Cressey Saturday delivery, everyone has received their books, "God Laugh & Plays" by David James Duncan, and have started to read the forward and preface.

There was general agreement that the author knows the relation between metaphors and compassion, e.g.:
"Unsaying the word of God"
"To define is to limit the unfathomable mystery of God. When very one names God, you give a slant and relationship."

There were two superb quotes that elicited discussion:
1. "Evangelism as embodied by Jesus does not remotely suggest the close-minded zeal of proselytizers claiming that only their interpretation of scripture prevents eternal punishments and pays eternal rewards: it implies, on the contrary, the kind of all-embracing love evident in Mother Teresa's prayer, "May God break my heart so completely that the whole world falls in." Not just her fellow nuns, Catholics, Calcuttans, potential converts. The whole world."

The whole world, for example, seemed to fall into the heart of Mahatma Gandhi. He repeatedly acted upon what his stated belief "I am a Christian, I am a Hindu, I am a muslim, I am a Jew."
(Author's Preface, xxv)

2. We the peoples of Earth, need a new cosmology that can effectivelyl embrace both our innate thirst for deeper, often obscured and intuited meanings as well as the necessary rigors of our intellectual life. We need a cosmology that can feed our souls and our questions about the meaning of life and death, while embracing the realities of our biological and ecological selves." (Forward, xi)

For next week (6/20): Please read Chapter 1, "Wonder; Yogi; Gladly" (p. 5-16)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Adult Spirituality Group Notes (6/6/10)

We discussed the last two chapters today:
1. "Who Are Those Christians?" (p. 219)
- This chapter discussed the messiness we call religion. The author described a number of Christian versions in the modern world. Choosing a church today is kind of like the blithering variety of choices offered in sex ed classes, e.g., rhythm method, condoms, or virginity 'til 33. It is necessary to enter a version of the Christian paradigm when one commits to a new church. Many new church goers are going towards religious extremism to simplify the multiple paradigm complexity of modern choices.

2. "At The Hinge Of History: Post Modernity" (p. 226)
-Modern technology embraces individuality, whereas post-modern converts re-seek community.
-On p. 229, is a interesting quote. "Modernity turned Christianity, a religion of grace, into a religion of good works and achievement. I don't mean, of course, that Thomas Jefferson himself did this. I do mean that the attempt to accommodate Christianity to modernity did. Spirituality, with its faith in the miraculous and mysterious, was lost or repressed. The end result was thin fare, a moral code without transformative power. It is religion as obligation, but lacking much in the way of motivation or motivating power."

** Our next book, "God Laughs and Prays", by David James Duncan will be delivered, probably by this Friday.