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2018-12-30

On the Journey: Simplicity

The Jan issue of On the Journey has arrived! HERE
This month, UU Journey Groups will be exploring SIMPLICITY. Don't miss it, and don't miss your Journey Group meeting to get together to work with this theme!

The Jan issue of On the Journey features
  • poems from Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver, William Wordsworth, Sandra Gilbert, Peter Gizzi, and Josphine Miles
  • a quotations page of 23 provocative, witty, or trenchant remarks
  • Henry David Thoreau's de rigueur passage on simplicity
  • a taxonomy of "five simplicities"
  • essays on reducing stress by doing less and doing it slowly, reducing consumption, and de-cluttering
  • 9 TED talks curated for your viewing edification
  • a page of questions
  • a spiritual exercise for the month
The Questions Page. Select one or two questions about which to share your thoughts or musings with your Journey Group.
  1. (a) Were the questions for the “Defining Moment” (p. 2) interesting? (b) Did you reflect on any of the questions about the poems (pp. 2-3)? (c) Do you have a comment on any of the quotations (p. 4)? (d) If you watched some or all of the TED talks (p. 9), which were particularly interesting?
  2. The passage from Thoreau (p. 5) is well-known. Did you find yourself engaging (anew) with this brief “simplicity manifesto”?
  3. “Simple in actions and in thoughts, you return to the source of being.” (Lao Tzu) What disconnects you from “the source of being”? How might you return?
  4. Which of the “Five Simplicities” (p. 5) support or are part of which other ones? Which ones would make other ones harder?
  5. What do you think of Toni Bernhard’s suggestions (“How to Reduce Stress by Doing Less and Doing It Slowly,” p. 5)? Do you think you’ll try following any?
  6. How about Michael Forman’s (“5 Ways to Reduce Unnecessary Consumption,” p. 6)? Do these suggestions call to you?
  7. Then there were the tips from Madeleine Somerville (“Creating Change, Reducing Consumption: How Living with Less Can Transform the World,” p. 7). Anything there that you’ll adopt?
  8. Finally, Julie McCormick write about “How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress” (p. 8). Have you been inspired to do some do-cluttering?
  9. In what ways are you prepared to be (or continue being) counter-cultural in the direction of a simpler life?
  10. What do you wish you could say “no” to in your life? Why haven’t you? What would happen if you did?
  11. Who might be your teammates in building a simpler and more fulfilled life? Who could you ask for help, and what help would you ask them for?
  12. The old Shaker hymn says, “Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free.” What’s the connection between simplicity and freedom?
  13. Do you already have the balance you want? If so, how do you notice and appreciate the simplicity and beauty of your life?
  14. Does simplicity mean something entirely different for you from how these questions seem to treat it?
  15. Is there a different question about simplicity that is niggling at you?
The link to the current and all past issues of On the Journey can always be found at cucmatters.org/p/journey-groups.htm

2018-12-29

From the Minister, Sat Dec 29

The 2018-19 UUA Common Read: Manish Mishra-Marzetti and Jennifer Nordstrom, eds., Justice on Earth: People of Faith Working at the Intersections of Race, Class and the Environment. Available from UUA Bookstore HERE; from Amazon HERE.

This week, chapter 3: Sheri Prud'homme, "Ecotheology."
“A prevalent theme in ecotheology is the radical interdependence of all existence and the accompanying mandate to view humankind as embedded in a complex web of relationships with other organisms that have intrinsic value.”
With these echoes of the UU 7th principle – and the 1st – ecotheology is substantially connected to UU theology. Significant ecotheologians include Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme, John Cobb, Joanna Macy, Sallie McFague, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Catherine Keller.
“All that exists in in relationship with everything. As Ivone Gebara writes in Longing for Running Water, it ‘is not a mechanical interdependence but a living one: a sacred interdependence that is vibrant and visceral’.”
Ecology becomes ecotheology when it encounters a sense of mystery, when the study of the relations of life forms to one another and their environment evokes awe and wonder. Theology, historically and currently, may serve the interests of dominance and empire by coopting God into a story that underwrites the social inequities of its time. Mindfulness of mystery can help protect against such cooptation. African-American writers such as theologian James Cone and Shamara Shantu Riley express the connections between oppression of people, exploitation of animals, and ravaging of nature.

For many ecotheologians, God does not precede the cosmos, but arose and unfolds with the cosmos. Ecotheology lends itself to pantheism (God and the universe are the same thing), or to panentheism (God and creation are inextricably intertwined, but not identical, as they participate together in creation’s unfolding).
“As McFague explains in The Body of God, ‘Everything that is, is in God and God is in all things and yet God is not identical to the universe, for the universe is dependent on God in a way that God is not dependent on the Universe’.”
Unitarians and Universalists of the 19th-century foreshadowed many of ecotheology’s concerns. UUs today
“are increasingly able to participate powerfully in ecumenical and multi-faith efforts when we draw on God language and images that are inclusive, expansive, immanent, and intermingled with the unfolding of creation.”
The writings of ecotheologians provides us a language for connecting with people of other traditions yet one UUs can use with integrity.

Ecotheology’s ethic emerges from seeing that the source of evil always lies in a good and necessary need taken to excess. Virtue is skill in balancing all needs.

Questions
  • What seems to you attractive about ecotheology? Are there aspects that give you pause?
  • How does the power of beauty affect your work for justice?
  • Ecotheologians are apt to say “God (the holy, the sacred) is in all of the created universe,” or that “God (the holy, the sacred) is the universe,” or that “God (the holy, the sacred) is creativity itself.” How might these thoughts support the work for environmental justice?
Yours in faith,
Meredith

The Liberal Pulpit New this week:
Index of past sermons: HERE. Index of other reflections: HERE.
Videos of sermons are on the Liberal Pulpit Youtube Channel: HERE

Practice of the Week: Deep Time Journeys /Ecospiritual.
Our arrival on Earth was quite sudden when considered from the perspective of the Earth itself. Gaia blinked, and suddenly found all of us here! But blink again, and we will pass like smoke on the breeze. Life, and the Earth, will go on without us. This realization can have a profound impact on how we view ourselves as a species. READ MORE.

Your Moment of Zen: Trust /Choose your mentors and guides carefully, and then give them your trust. This is risky. You might not choose well. It's risky even if you choose well. But it's necessary.

Case
Porcupine then asked, "Is trust in the teacher important for the practice?"
Raven said, "Indispensable."
Porcupine asked, "Can't that create problems?"
Raven said, "Interminable."
Verse
That joke about why the dog:
The punchline, Because he can,
Answers a lot of questions.
To exercise a capacity: reason enough.
Why does one love? care? trust?
Why does one study? Follow a teacher's direction?
Why does one hurt so when any of these goes awry?
Why does one bother with sadness and happiness?
Read the paper on the commuter train?
Toast the New Year? Sit Zazen?
Why does one grow present to one's life,
Or want to?
If one couldn't, there'd be no reason to.
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and Verse by Meredith Garmon
RAVEN INDEX
Zen at CUUC, Sat Dec 29: HERE

2018-12-28

Deep Time Journeys

Practice of the Week
Deep Time Journeys

Category: Ecospiritual. These practices are oriented toward developing our spirituality through our connection with our planet home and our responsibility to care for it.



To cultivate a healthy sense of perspective, try contemplating deep time. The Earth has existed for 4.5 billion years. Human brains aren’t wired to grasp such vast stretches of time. We try analogies: if the Earth’s timeline were a football field with one goal line representing the formation of earth and the other representing the present, the emergence of humanity would be about an inch from present. Or: if the history of Earth were condensed to a single year, each day would represent over 12 million years. Life first appeared about Mar 22; nucleated cells on Jun 19; multicellular animals on Nov 12. Sharks appeared on Nov 26. Dinosaurs roamed from Dec 12-26. Homo habilis appeared on Dec 31, just after 6:30pm; Homo erectus at 8:20pm. Anatomically modern humans first appeared at 11:45pm on Dec 31 – only the last 15 minutes of earth’s “year.”

Our arrival on Earth was quite sudden when considered from the perspective of the Earth itself. It is as though Gaia blinked, and suddenly found all of us here! But blink again, and we will pass like smoke on the breeze. Life, and the Earth, will go on without us. This realization can have a profound impact on how we view ourselves as a species. Our 15-minute-old species won’t make it another minute (8,500 years) with our contemporary lifestyle.

Many other species will probably leave along with us, mostly those who, like us, came along on New Year’s Eve: the blue whale, Siberian tiger, and mountain gorilla. The truly enduring life forms, our single-celled siblings, will continue happily into the next year without us.

Reflecting that our time on this Earth has been so brief – and the time remaining even briefer – may be uncomfortable. Yet it may also be comforting. We are part of a story much greater than our own, the grand story of life itself.
“We are one of perhaps 30 million species on the planet today, and countless millions that have gone before. ... We are called to acknowledge our dependency on the web of life both for our subsistence and for countless aesthetic experiences: spring birdsong, swelling tree buds, the dizzy smell of honeysuckle. We are called to acknowledge that which we are not: we cannot survive in a deep-sea vent, or fix nitrogen, or create a forest canopy, or soar 300 feet in the air and then catch a mouse in a spectacular nosedive.” (Ursula Goodenough, The Sacred Depths of Nature)
This story is indeed so much bigger than our one species, and yet our story is inextricable from the story. Looking through the lens of deep time, we can see humanity more clearly as a precious and rare spark of Earth's self-awareness. We are of the Earth and are the Earth, suddenly and fleetingly self-aware. Ours is an ultrasocial species of great cognitive and emotional complexity and adaptability – perhaps some future species will equal or exceed us in these regards.

Practices

1. Deep Time Altar. Clear your altar of items, then place upon it symbols of the Earth as it existed before humans. For example, stones can symbolize mountains or tectonic plates. A leaf, pinecone, or flower can symbolize the plant kingdom, which has flourished on Earth for hundreds of millions of years. A feather or figurine of an animal might represent animal life. A small bowl of water can stand for ancient seas. Be creative. When you've completed the altar, sit with it and ponder your place in this grand epoch of life.

2. Deep Time Meditation. Visit a museum of geology or natural history, and approach the exhibits with a contemplative mindset. Engage your spirit as well as your brain. Wander the exhibits of fossils or rocks slowly and mindfully. At the various displays, imagine the world as it was when the that rock or fossil was formed. Imagine witnessing the living creature, or simply the landscape. Bring your journal and write either poetry or prose to help you reflect on the experience. Sketching or drawing may also helpful.

Group Activities

Deep Time Ceremony. In a long hallway or outdoors, measure out a fifty-foot line, representing the approximately 4.5 billion years of Earth's history. On this scale, 10 feet represent a billion years, a foot represents 100 million years, and an inch represents a little over 8 million years. Designate one end of the line as representing the formation of the Earth and the other as representing the present. Mark the following major events on the line, adding others as you like:
  • 3.5 bya (billion years ago): earliest life appears in the oceans
  • 3.25 bya: photosynthesis
  • 1.9 bya: first cells with a nucleus
  • 600 mya (million years ago): first multicelled organisms
  • 500 mya: earliest land plants
  • 245 mya: age of dinosaurs begins
  • 65 mya: age of dinosaurs ends with asteroid impact
  • 3.5 mya: earliest proto-humans
  • 130 kya (thousand years ago): modern humans
  • 10 kya: earliest human civilizations, recorded history begins.
What you decide to do from here is up to your group's unique creative process. You might have each member walk the timeline as a contemplative meditation – perhaps with another person reading aloud each milestone along the line as they walk. Create poetry, songs, and/or stories to celebrate each point on the line. Another possibility would be to position people at events along the line. Walk from the beginning to the present, pausing at each person to hear them describe the significance of the event.

Questions for Group Conversation:
  • How long do you think humanity will endure? What factors might influence this?
  • Does the process of contemplating deep time change the way you think about humanity? About non-human species?
  • How does the deep time story differ from other creation stories you may have heard as a child?
  • Consider the concept of ownership in light of deep time. Does it change? If so, how?

* * *

2018-12-27

Religious Education News: Dec 30

Last Sunday was Fun Day for the children and youth, with children’s music director Lyra Harada taking the lead for holiday and seasonal festivities. With Christmas only two days away, everyone was excited and jubilant during this pre-“big day” event. Two of the younger children assisted me in lighting the chalice and then we sat around in a close circle talking about what the kids liked the most about Christmas and what they were looking forward to. There were quite a variety of eagerly anticipated activities, starting with watching Lord of the Rings all day, to eating lots of cookies, to opening up at least “fifty” gifts. If you are going to wish, it might as well be big! Lyra spoke to the children about the season of winter and how music can make you imagine different feelings. She asked them to close their eyes, listen, and demonstrate different “winter” feelings such as shivering, brrrr, snowflakes falling on their face, jumping up and down to keep warm, or ice skating. Well, we had quite a few terrific impressionists from those shivering away and chattering their teeth, to graceful dancing, to jumping jack workouts. With all this acting, it was time to hear the Nutcracker, which was beautifully choreographed by a mom and her twin daughters displaying lovely ballet moves (no training required). To round out the morning, everyone got to play musical chairs and board games. It seems to me that fun, spontaneity, and the simplicity of laughter is a common thread among our children. However childhood innocence is not reserved for just Christmas nor just children. Adults can be children as well and we can collectively live this treasury of emotions now and throughout the New Year.

Michele Rinaldi
Religious Education Coordinator

This Sunday in RE, Dec. 30
There is no RE this Sunday. Childcare will be available.

Last Call for the Mitten Tree
Bring warmth to the men, women, and children in local shelters. Donate mittens, gloves, scarves, and hats for all ages.

Faith Development Friday, Fri Jan 11
Our evening of learning, spiritual growth, and community. 6:15pm Pizza & Salad Community Dinner; 7:00pm Programs; 8:30pm Coffee. Programs include Adult RE and Family Journey Group. Adults may also just come for a slice and unstructured social time together. All are welcome to stay after the programs to share coffee and a chat. RSVP to CUUCevents@gmail.com by 12:00 noon on Friday.

2018-12-21

From the Minister, Fri Dec 21


Let's talk about the Common Read!
Manish Mishra-Marzetti and Jennifer Nordstrom, eds., Justice on Earth: People of Faith Working at the Intersections of Race, Class and the Environment.
Available from UUA Bookstore HERE; from Amazon HERE.

This week, chapter 2: Paula Cole Jones, "The Formation of the Environmental Justice Movement."

In 2014, UUs from around the country assembled in Detroit for a "collaboratory" to learn and reflect on our denomination's environmental work. Detroit was a good example of the intersection of environmental issues and urban issues. As local environmental activists showed the UUs around the city, they saw a city
"dominated by abandoned homes, crumbling industrial plants, and sparsely traveled streets."
They met people
"fighting for access to municipal water services and the enforcement of clean air stands at recycling plants,"
and saw the work to develop "urban agriculture to meet the city's goal of food sovereignty." They witnessed commitment to the principle, "No one is expendable. Everyone matters."

When waste sites and polluting industries are located in poorer and darker communities, this may appear to be following the path of least resistance. But this explanation
"takes the focus off of the systemic nature of oppression; specifically, who gets to make the decisions."
It leaves out the role of
"racial and ethnic segregation, income inequality, and limited access to resources and policy makers."
The environmental justice movement, still relatively young, corrects this lack. How did this movement emerge?

The post-WWII boom substantially increased both prosperity and industrial waste and pollution. These two factors led to the modern environmental movement, landmarked by the first Earth Day in 1970. The movement was slow, however, to attend to ways entrenched racial inequality affected environmental decisions. Research by African American sociologist Robert Bullard, published in 1983, found that
"African Americans making $50,000 to $60,000 per year are much more likely to live in a polluted environment than poor white families making just $10,000 per year."
In 1982, the environmental justice movement broke through to national recognition in a case from Warren County, North Carolina. The sending of PCB-contaminated oil to a landfill in Warren County's poorest and most heavily African American community was resisted by activists seeking to protect their groundwater.
"More than five hundred people were arrested, including Congressman Walter Fauntroy and pastors Benjamin Chavis and Joseph Lowery."
A citizen class action suit was filed.
"They did not win the case or stop the landfill, but they successfully launched the environmental justice movement."
In 1991, three hundred people of color gathered for the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit. The Summit adopted seventeen “Principles of Environmental Justice” which continue to frame and guide the movement.

Paula Cole Jones concludes:
“As Unitarian Universalists continue to work on environmentalism and climate change, we must operate with the knowledge of structured racial and economic inequality so that we are truly confronting oppression and doing our part in building the Beloved Community.”
Also read:
  • The Seventeen Principles of Environmental Justice adopted at the 1991 Summit: HERE.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency’s Eco-Justice 2020 Action Agenda (2016), 66pp.: HERE.
Questions:
  • How well do you know the history of the environmental justice movement? What will you do to become more familiar with this history?
  • What do you know about federal and state government actions that ameliorate or exacerbate environmental injustices?
  • Are environmental decisions in Westchester County fair and equitable?
  • Which communities are at risk? Where do Westchester community officials stand on local environmental justice issues?
  • What local organizations have been formed by and for people of color and working-class communities to address environmental racism and classism?
  • How can CUUC partner with people of color in our community?
  • Who could be invited to speak here about environmental justice?
  • What can you do to build relationships, trust, and partnerships that make a difference?
This week, read chapter 2. Consider and talk about the questions, and any other questions that come up for you. Feel free to click "Comment" below and share your thoughts here. Thank you!

Yours in faith,
Meredith

The Liberal Pulpit
Index of past sermons: HERE.
Index of other reflections: HERE.
Videos of sermons are on the Liberal Pulpit Youtube Channel: HERE

The Dec 16 reflection: "Our Holiday":


Practice of the Week: Fill the Hole in Your Heart /Slogan. You've got lacks and wounds; we all do. What can you do about them? It's fundamentally simple: you take in good experiences specifically aimed at your own lacks and wounds. It's like being a sailor with scurvy: you need vitamin C — not vitamin E — for what ails you. READ MORE.

Your Moment of Zen: Too Busy /As you begin the practice, visit many teachers. Sit a retreat, or attend three or four weekly gatherings, with each one. Then pick one and settle down for 10 years or so -- or for as long as you both live, if it's working out. Changing teachers every year or two or three is not recommended. It's hard to set the judging mind aside when you're constantly asking yourself if some other teacher would be "better." It is, as Raven says, too much busy-ness. Of course, even settling in is too much busy-ness. So what wouldn't be too busy?

Case
Owl said, "I notice that some students go from teacher to teacher. What do you think of this?"
Raven said, "Busy."
"After all," Owl said, "practice is a matter of settling in."
Raven said, "Still too busy."
Owl said nothing.
Verse
Busy, as a swift brook,
As cirrus clouds, striping the sky,
As glaciers are, melting,
And as they were, before that.
Busy as the owl on her night branch, listening.

Life and history make of me
A bearer of mostly futile love.
Seven generations hence,
Justice will mean something else,
Or maybe nothing much at all.
Perhaps the struggles and projects
Of my fifth-great-grandchildren
Will not invoke justice.
Perhaps, for them, it will be a
Dusty classical virtue, like prudence.

All the strands of the world flow into me
And out again, some a little stronger,
Or weaker, or more refined, or less.
When they arrive at the late 22nd century
With unrecognizable textures and weavings,
Will their time spent weaving me
Be more help or more hindrance
To the aims and needs of that time?
About equal measures of each, I guess.

Busy as a cheetah's tail,
As a cow's four stomachs --
Busy as soil erosion,
As the silent moon and the Sahara dunes.
Busy as Rigel at Orion's knee, so
Busy. Oh,
Too busy.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and Verse by Meredith Garmon
RAVEN INDEX
Zen at CUUC, Sat Dec 22: HERE

2018-12-19

Religious Education News: Sun Dec 23

A No-Rehearsal Christmas Pageant… who would have ever thought? Well it happened here last Sunday and believe me, Radio City has nothing on us! With some uncertainty I took my place in reading the script, not sure what was going to unfold. There were a multitude of Marys and Josephs, not to mention an exemplary number of angels. Shepherds came forward but didn’t leave their flock behind. Oh yes, we had sheep and horses and goats and let us not forget a few baby Jesuses. Rounding out our ensemble were an impressive number of Magi going for the gold - gold crowns that is! Seeing all the children, youth, and adults enjoying themselves was contagious. The sanctuary was filled to the brim with smiles and laughter, voices raised to the heavens in song, and genuine celebration. Being part of the whimsy and magic as well as observing, I had an epiphany of how a special message transcended the reenactment of the birth of baby Jesus that we constructed. We were honoring the day that this man came into this world. There is no need to examine opinions on the concept of deity, but instead just to remember how he lived his life, in very much the same way congregants of CUUC seek to do. Christmas is not the gifts, the flurry of activities and parties, but really -- to some people’s disbelief -- simplicity. Jesus was a simple man, fearless and brave. He stood by his personal convictions and talked about love, and peace, and honoring one another. He turned no one away, but instead embraced a diversity of people. He fought for the oppressed and taught mercy. He embodied and embraced all the virtues that Unitarian Universalists value 365 days of the year. With this thought in mind, I say thank you for the gift of community that you have generously extended to me. I wish for everyone a sense of purpose and gentleness and most of all, love and serenity this season and throughout the New Year. Happy Holidays, everyone!

Michele Rinaldi
Religious Education Coordinator

Looking ahead...

This Sunday in RE, Dec. 23
All ages in Fellowship Hall for Fun Sunday activities, including music with Lyra Harada, our Children's Music Director.

Help Decorate our Mitten Tree
Bring warmth to the men, women, and children in local shelters. Donate mittens, gloves, scarves, and hats for all ages.

Mon Dec 24, Christmas Eve Service, 5:30 pm
All ages are welcome to attend the Christmas Eve Service. childcare is available for those who need it.

Sun Dec 30
There is no RE on Sun Dec 30 but childcare will be available.

2018-12-18

Music: Sun Dec 23

Christmas music from a variety of traditions and a range of perspectives is featured this Sunday morning at CUUC. The French composer Olivier Messiaen composed his Vingt regards sur l’enfant-Jésus for solo piano in 1944. These “Twenty Views of the Child Jesus” are highly evocative, sonorously enchanting meditations on the Christ child. “Regard de l'étoile" or the View of the Star, is the second work in the cycle. Full of bell chiming and distant twinkling, the piece also presents the “Theme of the Star and of the Cross,” a musical idea developed throughout the suite. The following program is suggested in the subtitles in the printed score: the shock of grace….the star shines naively, topped by a cross….

Other works performed include selections from Franz Liszt’s “The Christmas Tree,” a set of piano pieces written for the composer’s granddaughter, an arrangement of a popular Catalonian Christmas carol, and more settings of celebrated holiday tunes by Donald Waxman, a renowned author of teaching materials for young piano students. Read on for programming details.

Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano
Regard de l’étoile from Vingt regards sur l’enfant-Jésus
                                         Olivier Messiaen

From “The Christmas Tree”
            “The Shepherds at the Manger” (In dulci jubilo)
            Scherzoso: Lighting Up the Tree”
            “Old Provençal Christmas Song”
            “Psallite”
                                    Franz Liszt

Opening Music:
El cant dels ocells (The Song of the Birds)               
                                    Traditional Catalan Christmas Carol, arr. by Joaquin Nin-Culmell

Offertory:
From A Christmas Pageant
“Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabelle”
“Good King Wenceslas”
“We Three Kings”
“Ding Dong Merrily On High”
“Yule’s Come and Yule’s Gone”
           Donald Waxman

Interlude:
From “The Christmas Tree”
                        Adeste Fideles
                                      Liszt

2018-12-13

From the Minister, Thu Dec 13

Let's talk about the Common Read! This week, chapter 1: Jennifer Nordstrom, "Intersectionality, Faith, and Environmental Justice," in Mishra-Marzetti and Nordstrom, eds., Justice on Earth: People of Faith Working at the Intersections of Race, Class and the Environment.

The word "intersectional" is big these days among people thinking about social justice. The word calls attention to how interrelated the various justice issues are. Nordstrom opens with mention of a 10-day "direct action and permaculture training camp" she attended in New Mexico to simultaneously learn sustainability and "build resistance to white supremacy and militarism." Growing food and growing cross-cultural relationships of equality and respect at the same time is one manifestation of "intersectionality."

The overlap of issues calls attention to the commonalities, but also the differences: "For example, women will experience sexism differently depending on their race, class, gender identity, and sexuality. People of color will experience racism differently based on their class, gender, gender identity, and sexuality."

In particular, Justice on Earth looks at Environmental Justice through the lens of intersectionality -- this is, in light of interconnecting systems. Nordstrom shares her experience learning that "communities of color were exploited and poisoned through the entire nuclear fuel cycle: from uranium mining on Indigenous lands to nuclear weapons production on Indigenous land and the contamination of surrounding Indigenous, Chicano, and Latinx communities to nuclear waste storage in communities of color" (4). Thus, militarism, colonialism, racism, and the environment interrelate.

We are thus lead to see that "the environment" "is not simply natural wilderness in need of saving" -- as UUs are prone to view it. It is also roads, industries, urban trees, other people -- everything around us, and all of it shaped by patterns of power. "There is not a single experience of the environment divorced from other relationships, or a single experience of humanity divorced from the environment" (5).

For too long UUs have done "justice work in silos" -- an approach that "is not true to our whole lives, or to the wholeness of other people." When we ignore intersectionality, our work "usually caters to the dominant identities within the issue" (6).

Yet, Nordstrom argues, as important as intersectionality is, equally powerful for us is faith. Our faith as UUs "can ground and nurture our work for environmental justice." Our situatedness in the interdependent web is our "call of the deep to the well of" our souls.

Related and Recommended: Kimberle Crenshaw's Keynote address to the Women of the World Festival 2016.(30 mins) HERE.



Questions: What overlapping patterns of power and oppression have you experienced in your own life? How have they manifested in the institutions in which you live and work? How have they affected your experience of you own identity?

What do you know of environmental justice organizations active in Westchester?

This week, read chapter 1. Consider and talk about the questions, and any other questions that come up for you. Feel free to click "Comment" below and share your thoughts here. Thank you!

Yours in faith,
Meredith

The Liberal Pulpit /New:
Index of past sermons: HERE.
Index of other reflections: HERE.
Videos of sermons are on the Liberal Pulpit Youtube Channel: HERE


The Dec 9 sermon, "Justice on Earth":




Practice of the Week: Get a Teacher /Key Supporting Practice. A critical reason to seek out a teacher is to make your practice accountable. We live busy, complex, and changeable lives. There are dozens of reasons why it is difficult to sustain daily practice over time. We are masters at rationalizing why we can't meditate. Being accountable to a teacher, a community, and a tradition outside yourself can help. READ MORE.


Your Moment of Zen: Still Lonesome /Someone told you once to be open to the other. They forgot to mention that there is no other.

Case
Mole spoke up after Raven had his exchange with Owl and said, "I have a different kind of question. Is there a way to practice in ordinary times?"
Raven said, "The robin! The dove! The linnet!"
"Is it just a matter of being open to the other?" asked Mole.
"Still lonesome," said Raven.
Verse
On the path,
First comes everything.
Second, everything again.
Third, return to first things.
Ordinal numbers
Mark ordinary time.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and Verse by Meredith Garmon
RAVEN INDEX
Zen at CUUC, Sat Dec 15: HERE

Get a Teacher

Practice of the Week
Get a Teacher

Category: Key Supporting Practice

Have a group. Whatever your spiritual practice, you need others that you get together with to practice it -- in addition to the ways you practice on your own. If, say, cooking or gardening is your spiritual practice, then find -- or form -- a group of people that gather weekly, fortnightly, or monthly to practice together. This doesn't mean merely cooking or gardening together -- it means being together in the activity in a way that focuses on the spirituality of what you are doing. As you cook together, share your experiences of what's spiritual about this activity; as you garden together, talk about the spiritual lessons of gardening.

In addition to a group, consider a teacher for guiding you on your path and holding you and your practice in a relationship of accountability.



Waiting in the line of students sitting on cushions outside the abbot's dokusan (interview) room, my heart beat rapidly and the sweat on my palms did not match the unusually cool summer day outside. I was about to have my first personal interview with a Zen teacher. The senior monks running this "Introduction to Zen Practice” retreat had prepared us for this interview by encouraging us to think of one question to ask. The encounter would be short. There would be a little bit of personal exchange after the question was posed, but not a lot. For Zen students doing formal koan practice, an interview can consist merely of a recitation of the teaching story under consideration, an opportunity for the student to respond to a question or image in the story, and a response from the teacher. The teacher's response can be quite minimal, perhaps as simple as ringing a bell to indicate that the interview is over. The response can also be more expansive, with further questions or reflections about the koan before the student leaves.

The senior monks had encouraged me to treat this interview as an opportunity to ask the Buddha a question – which both made sense and was extremely daunting. Finally, it was my turn. I stumbled through my recollection of the appropriate bowing rituals that begin the interview. I sat down on my knees and raised my head to look into the eyes of John Daido Loori, the man who would become my teacher. I spoke my name and my practice and then asked my question: "What do I have to give up to follow this path?”

Twenty years have passed since I asked that question. Because I am still answering it, I am no longer sure what Daido Roshi said to me that day. The best summary would probably be that I had to give up my expectations about what the path would be like and just walk on it.

Like thousands of other North Americans, I had grown up with a church affiliation and involvement but with an eclectic commitment to spiritual practice. My Unitarian Universalist church community provided me with many opportunities to explore different disciplines, and I did. I did not feel the need to seek out or commit to a personal relationship with a meditation teacher until mid-life. I was struggling with a stuck feeling, a combination of boredom and frustration with the meditation that had previously brought me joy and contentment. I decided that I needed to find a teacher. After a year of research and visits, I turned to a monastic community and teacher five hundred miles from where I lived for guidance and support in how to deepen my spiritual practice.

Why this extreme step? During much of my twenty-five years of sporadic meditation practice, I was missing a teacher and a sangha. The sangha includes both the teacher and the community of fellow practitioners. Coming to terms with the fact that I needed a teacher was not easy for me. I had to confront many old images and expectations of who I was. I am a grown-up. (Kids have teachers; grown-ups don't.) I was raised and continue to be a member of a liberal church tradition. (We build our own theologies.) Ultimately, what was hardest was admitting to myself that I didn't know what I was doing. In spite of all the sitting, the retreats, and the books, I really didn't have a clue what living and acting from within my true nature meant. I needed a teacher.

No matter where your spiritual home lies, whether within Jewish, Christian, Unitarian Universalist, Buddhist, or philosophical traditions, teachers are available, once you accept your need for one. Undertaking spiritual direction has become a vehicle for finding a teacher that requires no theological or participatory commitment to a religious tradition or institution. Developed within Roman Catholic spirituality, the skills of spiritual direction have become more widely available through teachers trained by respected nondenominational institutions.

Choosing a teacher well starts with knowing yourself, as well as learning as much as you can about the teachers available. Personalities, teaching styles, and teaching traditions vary. There are frauds.

A critical reason to seek out a teacher is to make your practice accountable. We live busy, complex, and changeable lives. There are dozens of reasons why it is difficult to sustain daily practice over time. We are masters at rationalizing why we can't meditate. Being accountable to a teacher, a community, and a tradition outside yourself can help.

The path I chose and followed for sixteen years was to become a formal student of the first monastery I went to in search of a teacher. As students, we committed ourselves to a Zen practice in our lives at home. We were expected to complete five “barrier gates” (five steps to help prospective students clarify their intent), sustain a relationship with a training director, attend two week-long sesshin retreats each year, and pursue our practice in each of eight different areas of training. The monastery also supported home practice through books and other resources as well as relationships with the teacher and training director.

When my teacher died, I searched again for a new teacher. That relationship became primary, and the residential experience became more difficult to sustain and less important to me. So I resigned my student status at the monastery. I may return to a residential sangha again, since it was such a valuable experience. I cannot imagine, however, being without a teacher.

For Journaling

Journaling question: What steps you would need to take to integrate the practice of working with a teacher into your own life?

* * *

2018-12-12

Religious Education News: Sun Dec 16

Last Sunday's Children’s Worship for grades K–5 was a multi-purpose event. Lyra Harada, our children's music director, was at the forefront “up close and personal,” engaging the children. The students all gathered around as Lyra described the beauty and function of the piano and led them in song. The children then worked together on a joint project writing holiday cards to our home-bound congregants. Each class group was responsible for a specific part of the creation so that they “all” contributed to the cards, which this week will be placed in gift baskets to be delivered. The activity was expertly facilitated by RE Council members and the enthusiasm and fun was clearly visible. Back in the classrooms, grade 2–3 had a very thoughtful and interesting hour with Doreen Rossi and Norm Handelman. The kids explored the importance of thinking about choices before voting, and learned that decisions sometimes have to be made beforehand about what is right or wrong. The teachers segued into an imaginative story Hey, Little Ant, where a little boy is determined to squish an ant, who in turn gives him reasons not to. The children thought about how insects help us and how they should be treated. As an added bonus, the students created their very own insects from construction paper and pipe cleaners! Regardless of season or events, the quality of Religious Education for our children and youth remains constant, and enables our wonderful teachers to utilize resourcefulness, creativity, and dedication to inspire and motivate their students. The holidays are fast upon us and as we reflect on peace and joy, let us not overlook the tremendous gift we are given year ‘round, and that is our children and volunteer teachers!

Michele Rinaldi
Religious Education Coordinator

Looking ahead...

This Sun Dec 16
All ages are in the sanctuary for our No-Rehearsal Christmas Pageant. As the story unfolds, you become Mary, Joseph, goats, sheep, cows, horses, angels, shepherds, and wise folk. Join us for Christmas music, the story, and a reflection. Costumes provided; just bring a joyful spirit.

After the service, come enjoy our Holiday Community Meal in Fellowship Hall, and then the annual Holiday Concert with the CUUC Choir in the sanctuary at 12:30 pm.

Help us Decorate the Mitten Tree
Please bring mittens, hats, gloves, and scarves of all sizes and place them on the Mitten Tree in the sanctuary. These items are for men, women, and children of local shelters: The Coachman Family Center, Open Arms, and Samaritan House. Help us bring both physical and emotional warmth to their holiday season.

2018-12-11

Music: Sun Dec 16


Christmas-themed music from many lands is featured this Sunday morning. The Catalan composer Federico Mompou provides a jazz-inflected treatment of a popular regional Christmas carol, “El noi de la mare” (The Mother’s Son), in the “song” portion of his third Canción y danza, coupling the tender melody to a lively sardana, or traditional circle dance, in the “dance” portion. His Pessebres (Crèches) are similarly delicate and folkloric in tone, although one smiles at the allusion to the Catalonian tradition of including animal dung in Nativity scenes. The Opening Music includes one of Johannes Brahms’s settings of a 16th-century Lutheran chorale, Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (“Lo, how a rose e'er blooming”), originally scored for organ, but played this morning in a transcription for piano by Ferruccio Busoni. The Offertory features “December” from Tchaikovsky’s cycle of monthly piano works, commissioned by a St. Petersburg music journal. The piece is widely known by its subtitle, “Christmas.” Finally, Donald Waxman, the composer of numerous collections of effective teaching pieces for piano students, furnishes lively arrangements of two traditional Christmas melodies, one French, the other English. Read on for programming details.

Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano
Pessebres
            I. Pessebres
            II. L’Ermita
            III. El Pastor
Canción y danza No. 3
                                                Federico Mompou

Opening Music:
Es ist ein Ros entsprungen
                                                            Johannes Brahms, arr. by Ferruccio Busoni

Offertory:
Christmas, Op. 37, No. 12
                                                Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Special Music:
Chantons tous, je vous prie
“The Boar’s Head Carol“
                                    Traditional Carols arr. by Donald Waxman



2018-12-06

Religious Education News: Sun Dec 9

“Tis the season” for joy and celebration! To all a Happy Hanukkah, which began Sunday evening. What a wonderful image of the warmth of the celebration of lights that is exhibited by our decorative lights and our inner glow. Sunday’s service soared with the joined singing of children, families, and choir. The RE children had the opportunity to be mesmerized by the Wonder Box Story, told with great humor by Rev. Garmon. Curiosity was the theme and how that can help us or get us in trouble. In the case of the curiosity of cats, these creatures certainly have a penchant for searching out new territories, investigating unknown objects and people, and looking for fun. Seems to me there is a striking resemblance to our students, who are always learning, exploring, and having a good time in RE. Curiosity at CUUC has certainly not killed any cats. Instead it has promoted growth and kindness in our RE “cool cats”! RE classes resumed in full force and it appears that everyone was very involved and engaged being back. The sanctuary now has its Mitten Tree! Also, with the help of Christine Haran and Janice Silverberg, all of the decorations made by the classes are now on display. When I finished up the decorating on Tuesday morning, I stood alone in the quiet of the sanctuary admiring the beauty created by the children and young adults. In one singular moment, I realized I was seeing so much more than paper decorations of red and green and blue and white. What I witnessed was the tangible expression of who we are at CUUC. There were the paper chains in colors that showed diversity. I saw links and strength. All the decorations had continuity and oneness. How profound to recognize the principles we share among ourselves and others through a simple paper decoration at this time of year, but more importantly all year ‘round. The inner peace and love of humanity is not only the core of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, but a reflection of who we all are.

Michele Rinaldi,
Religious Education Coordinator

A look at what's coming up...

RE This Sun Dec 9
Grades K-5 start in the Fellowship Hall for Children's Worship and music with children's music director Lyra Harada. Grades 6-12 start in classrooms. Parent Orientation for Grade 8-9 Our Whole Lives (OWL) starts at 11:40am in room 11.

Faith Development Friday, Fri Dec 7, Fireside Area & Classrooms
Our evening of learning, spiritual growth, and community. 6:15pm Pizza & Salad Community Dinner; 7:00pm Programs; 8:30pm Coffee. Programs include Adult RE and Family Journey Group. Adults may also just come for a slice and unstructured social time together. All are welcome to stay after the programs to share coffee and a chat. RSVP to CUUCevents@gmail.com by 12:00 noon on Friday.

Holiday Giving Opportunities

Gently Used Children's Books and Toys Drive for the Ecumenical Food Pantry, through this Sun Dec 9
Bring in gently used kids' books and toys for our collection to benefit clients of the Ecumenical Food Pantry. We are also collecting stuffed animals (must be new or like new). Contact: Mary Cavallero (marycava4@gmail.com) for information or to volunteer to distribute.

Gift Cards for Coachman Family Center, Sign Up Sun Dec 9; Bring In Wrapped and Tagged Gift Cards Sun Dec 16
Help a family at the Coachman shelter by signing up to purchase a $25 gift card for their school-age children. This Sunday we will have lists available with the age and gender of the children, and the type of card they prefer. Please box and wrap the gift cards, tag with the child's name and room number, and bring to CUUC by Sun Dec 16. Contact: Ray Messing (raymessing@gmail.com).

Personal Items for Shelter Residents, through Sun Dec 30
New socks, men's underwear (L & XL), women’s underwear, and toiletries will be collected throughout December for residents of local shelters. Posters from our Religious Education students help spread the word! Contact: Ray Messing (raymessing@gmail.com).

The Mitten Tree is Here!
Help us decorate the tree with your donations of mittens, gloves, hats, and scarves for all ages and sizes. Share the gift of warmth! We are collecting throughout December. Items will be given to the men, women, and children of local shelters: The Coachman Family Center, Open Arms, and Samaritan House. Contact: Ray Messing (raymessing@gmail.com).

From the Minister, Thu Dec 6

"Peace on Earth," as I wrote last week, is a key phrase of the Christmas season. I urged that we also think about Justice on Earth. The second phrase of what the heavenly host proclaimed to the shepherds is, as you may recall: "...good will to all."

(Note: That's not the more authoritative version of what they said. The NRSV gives: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” That is, the peace is limited to only those toward whom God has good will. The NRSV, however, has a footnote: "Other ancient authorities read peace, goodwill among people." So, the oldest sources we have for the Gospel of Luke include two strikingly different versions of what the heavenly host said to the shepherds. Still, it's the "other ancient authorities" that are better known in popular culture, so in this case, let's go with the footnote rather than the main text: "On earth peace, goodwill among people.")

Does goodwill provide justice? Nope. Good will is better than ill will -- usually -- but good will is not enough. You can have the best intent in the world, but if you're negligent, you're still at fault.

Citing good intentions doesn't get us off the hook for harm we've done, howsoever inadvertently. I was reminded of this when I heard Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi apologize recently. She had praised a supporter by saying, "If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row." The words evoked her state's sordid history with lynching -- and did so in the context of a campaign in which her opponent was a black man. Her apology: "For anyone who was offended by my comments, I certainly apologize. There was no ill will, no intent whatsoever in my statements."

If you have no fence or enclosure around your backyard swimming pool, you're negligent. If the neighbor's child drowns in it, you're liable. It doesn't matter how good your intent was. That you didn't mean to cause harm is beside the point. Either Sen. Hyde-Smith wasn't paying attention enough to know what words cause harm in the context of America's past and present, or she knew but didn't care. Either way, she was negligent. Good intentions are no defense against negligence.

Over and over, we see white people excusing themselves by citing their intentions. It's infuriating how often this tactic is used, and how it's almost always white people expecting absolution on the basis of their intentions. (The dominant US culture rarely wonders what a black person's intent might be.) I used to be such a white person myself. Brit Bennett's heart-breaking essay from four years ago (HERE) helped shift my awareness.

"Goodwill among people" achieves no justice when the people are negligent.

Yours in faith,
Meredith

The Liberal Pulpit /New:
Index of past sermons: HERE.
Index of other reflections: HERE.
Videos of sermons are on the Liberal Pulpit Youtube Channel: HERE


The Dec 2 sermon, "Three Curiosities":



Practice of the Week: Have a Better Holiday /Occasional. Here are four steps to a better Christmas or Hanukkah: 1. Visualize the holiday you want. 2. Seek creative ways to avoid what you don't like about the Holidays. 3. Give a present to your self. 4. Plan ahead for something that you'd truly like to do. How? READ MORE.

Your Moment of Zen: Essential /What is "explain"? What exactly are we doing when we "explain"? There is the fact -- the thing that happened -- and then there is the "explanation" of the fact. Explanations place phenomena within a context of meaning -- which is essential, right? But the phenomena themselves, always both more and less than their explanation, are "more essential."

Case
One evening during the question period, Owl asked Raven, "How important are the words of the Buddha Macaw and her successors to our practice?"
Raven said, "Essential."
"Is there anything more essential?" asked Owl.
Raven said, "The bullfrog calls his mate."
Owl was silent but did not return to his place in the circle.
Raven continued, "You see, Owl, the Buddha Macaw explains it."
Owl asked, "What does she explain?"
Raven cawed.
Whitman's Verse (from Song of Myself, III)
There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.
Out of the dimness opposite equals advance, always substance and increase, always sex,
Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed of life.
To elaborate is no avail, learn’d and unlearn’d feel that it is so.

I and this mystery here we stand.
Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul.
Hotetsu's Verse
Urge and urge and urge . . . To elaborate is no avail.
To no avail, yet essential.
Until, one day, not.
The uselessness of explanation
Must be explained, which does not suffice,
But to us afflicted with the rash,
the placebo salve helps us not scratch.

Everything depends upon bullfrog call, raven caw,
(and a red wheel barrow, if you've got one).
The signs may be divined
-- not for meaning, for beauty --
When symbol subdues symbol,
Colonel orders Captain to retreat,
And the battlefield is clear.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and "Hotetsu's Verse" by Meredith Garmon

Zen at CUUC, Sat Dec 8: HERE

2018-12-05

Have a Better Holiday

Practice of the Week
Have a Better Holiday

Category: SLOGANS TO LIVE BY: Carry these reminders at all times. These practices don't require setting aside a separate substantial chunk of time -- but they will slow you down a bit (and that's a good thing.) Resolve to get stronger at living by these maxims, day by day. Sometimes make one of them the focus of your daily journaling.

from Jonathan Robinson, Find Happiness Now, adapted, abridged

“Pray without ceasing,” instructs the apostle Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians (5:17). The Greek word adialeiptos, translated as “without ceasing,” doesn’t mean nonstop, but constantly recurring.

Two of the central functions of prayer are to articulate to ourselves our heart’s hopes (which can devolve into the merely "asking for things” concept of prayer), and to express gratitude. For this practice, we focus on the gratitude.

If “God” tends not to be in your vocabulary, then think of Paul as urging gratitude to reality, to the world, to all things that are not in your control, that you cannot earn or deserve. Such gratitude offers a remarkable path to feel closer to reality (or God) during one's daily activities.

When I interviewed forty spiritual leaders and asked each about their favorite method of feeling closer to their Creator, the answer I heard more than any other was that of focusing on feeling grateful to God (or reality) throughout the day.

As Ram Dass put it,
“Gratitude opens your heart, and opening your heart is a wonderful and easy way for God to slip in."
Letting reality slip in means becoming more able to set aside the ego-defenses and delusions that separate us from reality.

Many spiritual traditions emphasize prayer that expresses thanks for the blessings in one's life. Many years ago, I received an important lesson about "thankfulness prayer" from a Native American medicine man named Bear. We meet at a location sacred to his tribe, and he suggested that both of us begin by offering up a prayer to the Great Spirit. My simple prayer was that our time together be well spent, and that it would serve our becoming closer to reality. Bear began his prayer in his native tongue. It went on for fifty minutes, during which I grew increasingly restless.

Trying to hide my sense of irritation, I began my interview by asking Bear, “What did you pray for?” Bear's calm reply was, “In my tribe, we don't pray for anything. We give thanks for all that the Great Spirit has given us. In my prayers, I thanked Spirit for everything I can see around me. I gave thanks to each and every tree I can see from here, each rock, each squirrel, the sun, the clouds, my legs, my arms, each bird that flew by, each breath I took, until I was finally in full alignment with the Great Spirit.” It was clear to me that this man really knew how to pray.

Inspired by Bear, and many others I interviewed, I began practicing gratitude prayer. I begin by saying, “Thank you reality for (whatever is in my awareness)." Sometimes I would “prime the pump" by first thanking reality for things that are easy for me to feel grateful for. I might say, "Thank you for my health. Thank you for such a beautiful day. Thank you for Helena, my partner.”

Then, as gratitude swelled in my heart, I would say "thank you” for whatever I was aware of. If I was driving somewhere I might say, “Thank you for my car, thank you for my iPhone, thank you for this beautiful music, thank you for this nicely paved road, thank you for the man that just cut me off, thank you for the anger that he stirred up in me, thank you for the opportunity to practice forgiveness."

All things are gifts given to us to enjoy or learn from. Normally, we take virtually everything for granted, and rarely stop to appreciate the wonderful things we are given. It can be eye opening to realize that even middle-class folks of today live better than kings lived just a hundred years ago. Yet, without the “thank you” habit, the amenities of modern life go unappreciated.

Once you have used this practice for a while, you will even begin to value things that are unpleasant. Getting cut off by an aggressive driver was not my idea of a good time. Yet, if I'm practicing "thank you," I'm more likely to see how such an event can serve me. From a higher state of mind, I can see that this driver is helping me learn patience, compassion, and forgiveness-—three things I'm often short on. Fortunately, there are many drivers and people who are willing to help me learn this lesson! Thank you, reality, for all that help.

Like any repeated mantra or phrase, "thank you" can build up a momentum of its own as you use it throughout the day. It can, however, become mechanical and rote if attention is not given appreciating in your heart the gift you've been given.

There is an ecstasy that arises out of gratitude. The “thank you” practice also helps us become more aware and present in the eternal now. By giving thanks for what's right in front of us, worries recede, replaced by an expanded awareness of what is currently occurring.


* * *

2018-12-04

Music: Sun Dec 9


Jazz artist Vince Guaraldi, of Peanuts fame, is featured in original compositions as well as arrangements of beloved holiday favorites this morning. The CUUC Choir is on hand with a preview of Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, a work included in the ensemble’s upcoming Holiday Concert on 12/16, and a popular Spiritual completes the morning’s musical selections. Read on for programming details.

Prelude: Georgianna Pappas, piano
O Tannenbaum    
Christmas Is Coming   
What Child Is This      
Linus and Lucy    
                        Arrangements and Original Works by Vince Guaraldi

Anthem: CUUC Choir directed by Lisa N. Meyer
 Wolcum Yole!     from A Ceremony of Carols
Benjamin Britten


Offertory: Christian Force, percussion
My Little Drum    
Vince Guaraldi

Anthem: Mary Lane Cobb, soloist
Hush, Somebody’s Callin’ My Name       
  American Spiritual, arr. by Brazeal W. Dennard

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2018-12-03

On the Journey: Curiosity

The Dec issue of "On the Journey" has arrived! HERE
This month, we explore CURIOSITY. Don't miss it, and don't miss your Journey Group meeting to get together to work with this issue!

Check In, p. 1. How has your month been, and what’s one thing that piqued your curiosity in the last month?

Questions:
1. (From p. 2) How might the word “curiosity” have gotten from the archaic meaning (carefulness, fastidiousness, attention to detail) to its modern meaning? What happened in our culture that would have shifted “curiosity” from the mostly bad sense that it had in Middle English – (prying, meddlesome, nosy), to the more positive associations with the word today? How do you see “curiosity” connected to “care”?

2. (From p. 3): Are there things better not pried into – as Whitman and Davies suggest? Fulton, too, suggests “new is a hooligan.” What is lost by holding everything open to interrogation?

3. (From p. 4) Which quotations resonate with you?

4. What kills curiosity?

5. How curious a person are you? Average? More curious or less curious than average?

6. If you were to become more curious than you are now, would that be advantageous?

7. What are you curious to know about curiosity itself?

8. When is curiosity a bad thing?

9. Suppose you could snap your fingers and double the level of curiosity that humanity in general has about one subject of your choosing. What subject would you choose? Why?

10. Which do is more important: curiosity to arrive at a definite knowledge, or curiosity about questions that can have no final answer?

11. What’s more the more important in human life: knowing, or the process of finding out? (Has Google deprived us of something by making finding out so many answers so easy?)

12. We are curious for knowledge. Are we curious for wisdom? (And what’s the difference between knowledge and wisdom?)

13. Is judging really a bad thing? Is curiosity really a cure?

14. Is there a different question about curiosity that is niggling at you? What is it?

EXERCISE (p. 11): Fill out this eight-question Curiosity self-assessment

The link to the current and all past issues of On the Journey can always be found at cucmatters.org/p/journey-groups.htm