Saturday, July 26, 2014

4. The Drama of Desire (We Make the Road by Walking)

Competition
Engage

1.  What one thought or idea from today's lesson especially intrigued, provoked, disturbed, challenged, encouraged, warmed, warned, helped, or surprised you?

2.  Share a story about your interaction with someone you were jealous of or considered a rival.  What did they have or desire that you desired?  How did your relationship play out?

3.  How do you respond to reading the Philippians 2 passage as a reversal of the Genesis 3 passage?

4.  How do you feel when you win or lose in a game?  How do you feel when you do better or worse at something than someone else?  Tell us a story about it.

Activate

5. Be especially sensitive to revalry this week.  When you feel it, ask what "desire to acquire" is driving you.  And ask whom you are imitating in this "desire to acquire."  In this way, seek to become more aware of the Cain and Abel struggling in your own life and heart.

Meditate

6.  After a few moments of silence, let one emotion rise to the surface and express that emotion to God — and, if you'd like, to your companions, with a brief explanation.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

3. A World of Meaning (We Make the Road by Walking)

"Creation reveals wisdom through its patterns" (p. 12).
Engage

1.  What one thought or idea from today's lesson especially intrigued, provoked, disturbed, challenged, encouraged, warmed, warned, helped, or surprised you?

2.  Share a story about a time when you lived by the logic of rivalry, compliance, or meaningless mechanism.  How did that work out for you?

3.  Imagine and describe what your life would be like if you chose to live more by the logos of love than you do now.

4.  Is there a movie that you like to watch again and again?  What about it makes you want to keep enjoying it again and again?

Activate

5.  Share with someone this week — a family member, a friend, a coworker, or an acquaintance — the idea that we all live by a certain logos or logic.  Ask them which logos they see to be most powerful in today's world — rivalry, compliance, meaningless mechanism, or love.

Meditate

6.  Observe a few moments of silence to imagine yourself living more fully in the logos of love.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

2. Being Human (We Make the Road by Walking)

Engage

1.  What one thought or idea from today's lesson especially intrigued, provoked, disturbed, challenged, encouraged, warmed, warned, helped, or surprised you?

2.  Share a story about a time when someone played god and judged you, or a time when you played god and judged someone else.

3.  Tell us about a person who reflected God to you in some special way.

4.  Think about your hands.  What is something kind and creative you can do with your hands?  What is something mean or harmful you can do with your hands?  How can the same hands do both kind and mean things?

Activate

5.  If part of being image bearers of God means that we represent God in caring for the Earth, it's important to learn about your corner of the Earth.  You know your postal address (nation, state, city, postal code).  What is your environmental address?  Learn about your watershed, what makes it special, and the environmental issues it faces.

Meditate

6.  Observe a few moments of silence.  Let a silent prayer rise from within you.


We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation ~ by Brian D. McLaren, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

1. Awe and Wonder (We Make the Road by Walking)

Engage

1.  What one thought or idea from today's lesson especially intrigued, provoked, disturbed, challenged, encouraged, warmed, warned, helped, or surprised you?

2.  Share a story about a time when you most felt the humble awe and joyful wonder described in this chapter.

3.  What is the most beautiful place you have ever seen?  What was so special about it?

4.  What is your favorite animal?  Why do you like it so much?

Activate

5.  This week, choose one facet of creation that you love — birds, trees, weather, soil, water, light, children, sex, aging, sleep.  Observe it, think about it, learn about it every chance you can, with this question in mind:  if that element of creation were your only Bible, what would it tell you about God?

Meditate

6.  Observe a few moments of silence.  Let a silent prayer of gratitude arise from within you.

We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation ~ by Brian D. McLaren, 2014

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Spiritual formation ~ a year-long quest

Even though Brian McLaren writes from a Christian perspective, you can use his book to become more alive whether you are Christian or something else or no religion at all.  The flap promises "this book will inspire and activate you in your spiritual journey" even if you feel out of place in traditional church circles.

We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation ~ by Brian D. McLaren, 2014
This book puts tools in our hands to create a life-changing learning community.  The fifty-two (plus a few) weekly readings guide an individual or a group of friends through a year of rich study, interactive learning, and personal growth.  Discussion questions are designed to challenge, stimulate, and encourage, so that we can re-imagine what it means to live joyfully and responsibly.  Our goal is to move toward justice, creativity, and peace on our spiritual journey.
Part I ~ Alive in the Story of Creation
1.  Awe and Wonder
2.  Being Human
3.  A World of Meaning
4.  The Drama of Desire
5.  In Over Our Heads
6.  Plotting Goodness
7.  It's Not Too Late
8.  Rivalry or Reconciliation?
9.  Freedom!
10.  Getting Slavery Out of the People
11.  From Ugliness, a Beauty Emerges
12.  Stories That Shape Us
13.  The Great Conversation
First Quarter Queries

Part II ~ Alive in the Adventure of Jesus
14.  Promised Land, Promised Time
15.  women on the Edge
16.  Keep Herod in Christmas
17.  Surprising People
17A.  The Light Has Come (Christmas Eve)
18.  Sharing Gifts (Sunday on or after Christmas Day)
19.  Jesus coming of Age
20.  Join the Adventure!
21.  Significant and Wonderful
22.  Jesus the Teacher
23.  Jesus and the Multitudes
24.  Jesus and Hell
25.  Jesus, Fiolence, and Power
26.  Making It Real
Second Quarter Queries

Part III ~ Alive in a Global Uprising
27.  A New Identity
28.  A New Path to Aliveness
29.  Your Secret Life
30.  Why We Worry, Why We Judge
31.  The Choice Is Yours
32.  Peace March (Palm Sunday)
32A.  A Table. A Basin. Some Food. Some Friends. (Holy Thursday)
32B.  Everything Must Change (Good Friday)
32C.  Doubt. Darkness. Despair. (Holy Saturday)
33.  The Uprising Begins (Easter Sunday)
34.  The Uprising of Fellowship
35.  The Uprising of Discipleship
36.  The Uprising of Worship
37.  The Uprising of Partnership
38.  The Uprising of Stewardship
39.  Whatever the Hardship, Keep Rising Up!
Third Quarter Queries

Part IV ~ Alive in the Spirit of God
40.  The Spirit Is Moving!  (Pentecost Sunday)
41.  Moving with the Spirit
42.  Spirit of Love: Loving God
43.  Spirit of Love: Loving Neighbor
44.  Spirit of Love: Loving Self
45.  Spirit of Unity and Diversity
46.  Spirit of Service
47.  The Spirit Conspiracy
48.  Spirit of Power
49.  Spirit of Holiness
50.  Spirit of Life
51.  Spirit of Hope
52.  God in the End
Fourth Quarter Queries

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Sixth Step ~ Action

Questions

1.  Think of "spots of time" in your life "when somebody went out of their way to help" you.  Share some of those stories (p. 112).

2.  Also, share "the effects of the unkind remarks that have been a corrosive presence" in your mind (p. 113).

3.  How often are you conscious of thinking or behaving in a hurtful way?  Has this consciousness helped you to stop or shift your thoughts or actions?

4.  How often are you aware of or do you act on the positive or negative version of the Golden Rule?  How might you incorporate it more consciously in your life?

Pick up a stone to carry with you this month, to remind you to take action.
Actions

1.  "Make a resolution to act once every day in accordance with the positive version of the Golden Rule:  'Treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself '" (p. 114).

2.  "Resolve each day to fulfill the negative version of the Golden Rule:  'Do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you'" (p. 114).

3.  Visit charterforcompassion.org to read other's stories of compassion and/or add one of your own.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Fifth Step ~ Mindfulness

These students walking and texting are not mindful of each other or the greenery around them.  Will we have a whole generation whose only connection is through hand-held devices?  These may seem funny to us, but walking and tweeting and texting and driving don't mix.

Lots of people aren't paying attention these days.  Basically, that means they are not being mindful.  I have seen people at restaurants on their mobile devices, not paying attention to each other.  Once I watched a mother and her young child, whose feet didn't reach the floor as he sat at the table, and they never spoke during their meal.  Both were playing with their iPads or droids, or whatever they had.

Questions

1.  Identify someone who regularly teaches or practices mindfulness and/or meditation.  Ask that person to provide information about their practice.  If we were meeting in person, we could ask someone to lead our group in a guided meditation.

2.  "The purpose of mindfulness ... is to help us detach ourselves from the ego by observing the way our minds works" (p. 105).  Have you ever practiced mindfulness techniques or have you ever meditated?  If so, would you share how these practices have affected your life?

3.  This is not a meditation we should perform in solitude, apart from our ordinary routines.  In mindfulness we mentally stand back and observe our behavior while we are engaged in the normal process of living in order to discover more about the way we interact with people, what makes us angry and unhappy, how to analyze our experiences, and how to pay attention to the present moment" (p. 106).  How often have you noticed your reactions as they arise, rather than allowing your emotions or reactions to control you?  This month, practice mindfulness and report on your experience in the comments.

Actions

1.  If you are not familiar with mindfulness meditation, check out one or more books listed in Suggestions for Further Reading on page 215 of our book:  Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong.

2.  A number of online resources may be helpful.  The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Mindful Awareness Research Center has a series of downloadable meditations of varying lengths at http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22.  Set a time each day to try one or more of these meditations.

Bonnie's suggestion

1.  On my book blog, I have been posting Monday Mindfulness ideas.  The link will take you to the whole collection of blog posts.