Adult RE Topics of Interest – January thru May 2017

Adult RE Topics of Interest for the first half of 2017


All classes will be held in the Board Room on Sunday mornings beginning at 9:00 AM.  Contact Brian McPherson 

Jan 8Chanting in the Hindu Tradition   We will examine some of the Sanskrit chants used by Hindus to enhance their worship experiences. The class will provide an opportunity for listening, with an option of actively participating in some of these chants. We will also explore some of the research that has been conducted on the physiological effects of chanting in an effort to understand the physiological impact of chanting. Brian McPherson will be leading the discussion.

Jan 22Chanting in the Sufi Tradition   In our second session on chanting we will delve into the world of Sufi chanting and note how its style and usage contrasts to the Hindu tradition. Additionally, we will continue to discuss research on the emotional significance of individual specific speech sounds, and the overall emotional impact of chanting specific words or phrases. Brian McPherson will be leading the discussion.

Feb 5Sufi Yoga I   The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the spiritual practices of Sufis both aspire to a mystical state that resembles a state described as the goal of mindfulness meditation by Buddhist-leaning/atheist Sam Harris in his book Waking Up. We will take a look at the ancient text of Patanjali and the somewhat guarded secrets of the Sufis in the light of modern psychological science to see what these two distinct spiritual approaches share and how we can benefit from their fusion. Brian McPherson will be leading the discussion.

Feb 19  – Sufi Yoga II  We will continue the investigation of how Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras complement Sufi practices within the framework of western psychological science. We will explore additional specific practices that one can easily apply to enhance everyday mindfulness or mindfulness meditation practices. Brian McPherson will be leading the discussion.

Mar 12  – Spirituality With or Without God I   We will review and discuss some of the traditional Christian practices of prayer and meditation and then transition to what this may mean for us as members of the UU faith tradition, particularly for those of us who can no longer accept a theist view of a divine being. Rich Bronakoski will lead the discussion. 

Mar 26  – Spirituality With or Without God II  We will continue the discussion, begun in the previous session, of how one might adopt or develop spiritual practices that do not necessarily depend on a theist viewpoint. Change is never easy and sometimes we need an opportunity to articulate what we believe and to discuss how our views have evolved. Rich Bronakoski will lead the discussion.

April 9Swedenborg, Emerson, and the Deep Dimension  We will explore how some of the profound metaphysical concepts of Emanuel Swedenborg, an eighteenth century European philosopher, inventor, and mystic compare with the metaphysical ideas of Ralph Waldo Emerson an nineteenth century American transcendental philosopher. Prepare to “go deep” for this one. Don Hoffman will lead the discussion.

April 23The Story of Christ: What is Myth and what is Reality?  We will focus on the myths of various religious groups that existed during the time frame that Christians believe a man called Jesus lived in the area of the world some call the Holy Lands, and compare the myths of these religious groups with the story of Jesus that appears in the New Testament as Gospel. Don Hoffman will lead the discussion.

May 7Process Theology: Christ as a Vedantist                We will take a look at Process Theology, a theology developed from Alfred North Whitehead’s Process Philosophy, and see how it relates to Christianity. This theology takes as its starting point the refusal to accept any supernatural events. This single rule has a dramatic effect on how to interpret the Bible and New Testament. We will compare a process theology view of Christ to Vedanta philosophy. Brian McPherson will be leading the discussion.

May 21Be Here Now     We will take as a starting point the book Be Here Now, the seminal work of Ram Das, aka Richard Alpert. We will explore the impact of Ram Das and his ideas on our culture and manner in which mindfulness has moved from a counter-culture “far out” idea to become the zeitgeist of much of the academic world today. Brian McPherson will be leading the discussion.

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