Spirituality Course

This blog is about the various courses on Spirituality offered through the ULC Seminary. The students offer responses to their various lessons and essays upon completion of the courses.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The course

Hi and greetings to you from Yorkshire , EVEN though I have not commented much about this course I have found it not just a course that is academic but practical too Plato has so much to teach us especially the republic although we have a monarchy here we are aware of the problem our American cousins face at this time yet Plato has so much to teach us in our ministry and we are so blessed in our service this course has taught me much about the philosophy of life and how to apply this to our continued spiritual work I appreciate very much the books I have been led to read about as I see it the philosophy of life I am a spiritualist minister and philosophy plays a great part in our belief I do however speak in a Christian spiritualist church were the richness of the Christian faith and the broad belief of spiritualism bring a wider understanding of what faith and philosophy are about in short to show the variety of Faith and belief are evident in our individual ministry And ministers in the UNIVERSAL LIFE CHURCH

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

David Hume concept is interesting so offering we don't use spirituality in its purest form of thought maybe ministers have little time to do this and we spend so much time at the coal face we are apt to think of philosophy as a separate ideal yet with Hume and the other philosophical teachers. We have concepts to guide us forward I have not commented before on the lessons kindly sent asvi actually wanted to. Read around the subject before replying philosophy by its very nature. Possibly is not an exact science and therefore. From the humanist point of view relies not on the existence of a supreme being but on our training from childhood to use. Logic in so many ways we loose our childlike Faith at about 9 or 10 due in part to our education system in the uk I appreciate in certain states in America they do not accept the concept of the death of God philosophy as readily S we do here I would like to just say that a lot folks here readily accept spiritualism or the new age belief its not the fact they are not spiritual they are but not in the traditional sense e.g. Anglican Methodists etc but. Their concept of Faith is based on spiritualism and its. Seven principles, which are open minded spirituality that is the concept of logical spirituality based on the ones in the spiritual dimension called higer side of life along with scientific explanation via aura camera's etc. That is scientific approach to scientific applied spirituality and a living philosophy of life

Monday, June 6, 2016

The opening paper

Thank you for your opening notes I was surprised to receive them so soon after registration and payment I must right from the start say I have served GOD. From the age of 19 not always at full power but like an earthly father well some anyway he has loved me through 2 divorces and I am hanging in their what I like about the notes I have received is. The fact that at all times we are servants of God not. Out their in the world to treat people with disrespect just because their belief system is different to our concept of Faith or if you take the scientific approach a completely different view of the world as those with a humanist approach I can accept both points of view for example my mom as you Americans call your mum she was a woman of Faith but I have always known she thought parts of the. New testament were questionable that is why when I conducted her funeral I chose psalm 121 and dis a secular committal because I was not prepared to do mums service to please and comfort others as it happened apart from my partner BERYL and a friend from a spiritualist church 2others were we're not Christians as defined by. Faith one was a wiccan the other was a lapsed Catholic the other was an old school chum of mine ,, now the point I am making is. Whatever the view of this present it showed a love that went beyond personnel faith to what we. Call agape part of what we are to show to all thank you Amie GOD BLESS YOU X

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Final Lesson Master of Spirituality - lesson 19

Final Lesson Master of Spirituality - lesson 19
Having reached the end of the Master of Spirituality course I am happy to offer my assessment of its construction, arguments and content. I will lay out my views in no particular order.

I enjoyed this study very much and looked forward each week to receiving a –fresh lesson. As the course progressed a succession of philosophers were discussed with reference to their teachings some of which were quite challenging. However, the writer had a flair for breaking down complex issues using vivid illustrations to aid learning. That was very good. The stated object of this course is to help ministers convey their faith to scientifically minded people; and it achieved that end magnificently in my view.

I have been in Christian ministry in England for over twenty five years and during that time I've studied a great deal of theology and related topics. Prior to that, and many years ago, I studied to "A" and "O" level passing various public exams from Economic and Social History to Religious Studies. One course I did was in "Classical Civilisation" which included a study of ancient Greek culture and philosophy. So, it was wonderful to get my old books out again and revisit: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Thales and Anaximander etc. The first time I studied them I learnt a great deal and this course helped to build on that by digging a bit deeper. That was very rewarding and I enjoyed it a great deal. Throughout this course I bought additional books to broaden what I learnt and to help me write the essays I submitted.

As a Christian some of the teaching in this course challenged me deeply and at times made me feel distinctly uncomfortable. I was taken out of my comfort zone which made me defensive of my beliefs. However, I gradually came to see this as a positive thing. Having preached the Bible for over twenty five years during which time I've been totally immersed in my faith I've rarely been exposed to alternative (atheistic) points of view. So, again although challenging it has made me stronger, wiser and more able to deal with similar arguments when I meet them. In that sense the course has achieved the purpose it was designed for. I also liked the fact that I could write freely in response to the lesson notes without feeling hemmed in or restricted in what I could say. That was truly liberating and enabled me to be creative in my responding.

But there were down sides too. If I were to undertake an MA in England a supervisor would be appointed; between us we would have to agree a title for a dissertation; I would have to submit work from time to time for marking and the whole thing would take around two years. This course on the other hand seems to require little from anyone which seems odd to say the least. As far as I can see I could have completed this course without doing anything at all not even reading the weekly lessons. That cannot be right. A course needs to set "outcomes" and then have some means of assessing whether those outcomes have been met. How could the ULC know with any degree of certainty if these outcomes have been achieved if there is no means of assessing a student's work? Won't this make the qualification worthless? It would certainly be laughed out of court in England – and that's discouraging as it won't build confidence. To counter this I made up my mind to write an essay for every lesson received as a way of stretching me and getting me engaged academically. And because of this I feel I have justly earned this qualification through the work I put in. I guess the ULC's philosophy is to present various ideas and then leave the interpretation up to the student. That maybe commendable but it will not promote consistency across the board.

I was also surprised at some of the views expressed by the writer - some of which I felt were bazaar and occasionally offensive. For example presenting the God of the Old Testament as a child throwing its toys out of the pram was, in my view, offensive particularly as it has no basis in historical fact; and when "Star Trek" made several appearances during the course this, in my view, was bazaar. I found these things challenging and, to a degree, threatening but I stuck with it for reasons already stated above.

Finally, I would recommend this course for various reasons. Firstly, it encourages one to think carefully about what one thinks one knows. Do we know anything at all? For Christians the ideas expressed by ancient Greek philosophers will help to illuminate what they read in the New Testament e.g. where Paul speaks in his letters of opposites: "when I am weak then I am strong" etc. Also, living in a scientific age this course presents a convincing argument of science as a "faith" every bit as unprovable as any other philosophy. The prospective minister will learn from this course how to enquire of the scientifically minded person how s/he "knows" what s/he knows as Socrates did of old - not to win an argument or to come across as superior, but to challenge people and so get them thinking about what they think they know about life; death and beyond. Well done!


7th May 2016

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Spiritualism - Lesson #18

Spiritualism - Lesson #18

This lesson gave a challenging assessment of the personal qualities needed for ministry. We are human-beings with human-limitations but there can be no room for pride or self-serving in ministry as if we possess all the answers; our motivation should be to serve others in humility gaining rapport through listening and empathy. But as the writer of the course makes clear we have no means of knowing what motivates someone into ministry, charity-work or any other profession if it comes to that. As one charity worker once said about volunteers working for their organisation: "volunteers need us as much as we need them." People are driven by powerful unseen forces e.g. guilt, insecurity, inferiority, superiority, regret and loss etc. I repeat what I said above that we are human; consequently we all wear masks.
During this course it soon became apparent that much of the material presented was subjective rather than objective in tone so it was informative to read that the writer had intended this. Since time began everyone who has ever lived has had an opinion which they've either keep to themselves or sought to force on others. Because of that it's a wonder that agreement about anything has ever been obtained. Emanating from the subconscious self-interest is a powerful motivator craftily manifesting itself as concern for others. It's part of the human-condition which we would do well to be mindful of. While a person's thoughts cannot be known one only has to look on social media to see the kind of destructive, critical comments people hurl at others from the anonymity of a computer. And it's noteworthy that when those who make such comments are traced by the authorities they're often embarrassed or remorseful at the distress they've caused. With that sobering thought ringing in the ears anyone responding to a "call" to ministry should not be surprised to find themselves in the cross-hairs of critics who "think they know better" and get great delight from kicking the legs out from under us. That may be so hard to bear it may well precipitate a collapse into the darkness of despair. It is not unknown that when a person shows compassion to another they are accused of being "holier than thou" by people hiding from something deep within themselves. Again, we are all human on a journey trying to make sense of life's mystery – and we all come to that journey from different directions.
I have both the Republic and the Crito which have so much to teach about human-nature, people and their problems. And it's interesting that during the final hours of his life Socrates, surrounded by his friends all urging him not to drink the poison, was composed and serene within himself – casually drinking the poison before laying down to die. As a man who confessed to knowing nothing Socrates calmly told his friends that if there was another life beyond death that was fine; likewise if death was nothing but a long sleep that was fine too. To have arrived at that point of contentment within himself with neither regret nor remorse and without heaping blame on the authorities for sentencing him to death Socrates showed great fortitude, courage and a quiet contentment that comes from the assurance of not needing to strive to know anything – that kind of "certainty" is beyond all of us. Yet for many people "fear," with its gnawing-partner "doubt" drives us to cling to life at all costs; yet we know so little about what life is. And here I agree with the writer that we know nothing – nothing meaningful that will survive our time here. For example as a people we have no idea how this planet got here or who may have been here before us – and we will never know that. We can look at Mars through a telescope and speculate whether life existed there billions of years ago; and we can measure, weigh and observe the universe in which we live yet we will only ever scratch the surface of "knowing" anything. The best we can do as far as "certainty" is concerned is concur with Euclid who discovered that in any triangle the internal angles always add up to 180 and that a straight line can be drawn between any two points. But that's hardly earth-shattering knowledge nor even discovering that "pie" is an infinite number. Maybe the best we can say about that is that a mere mortal, Euclid, was able to glimpse something of the immortal.
As a minister my "calling" came out of an acute crisis that almost brought about psychological collapse. But that's not a bad place from which to start - in a heap on the floor. But it was a great leveller. Today, in my preaching ministry I do not hold to any feelings of grandeur; quite the reverse I consider myself inadequate and therefore dependant on God! For those who've been to the "bottom" will recognise that these thoughts, though irrational and silly, are difficult to override. For me it means that every service I conduct (and I've been preaching for around 25 years) and every funeral I preside at I feel incredibly weak and vulnerable. But as the Apostle Paul said: "when I am weak then I am strong" – that is very much my testimony. If knowing oneself is the aim of philosophy I have a long way to go to get there – but not that many years left to complete the journey. The Bible has a verse which says: "If God is for us who can be against us?" My reply is: "myself" I can be my own worst enemy, critic, judge, jury, jailor and cynic. To believe in oneself is probably the hardest concept for me to hold to. Others too may feel the same way as we all carry baggage with us loaded upon us by parents, teachers and others in authority who were labouring under their own heavy burdens. In that sense no-one can know anything about anything that hasn't first come to us through the prism of someone else's prejudice. But those who have been through the mill and survived the dark-night of faith are often the most dedicated, gifted and empathic ministers having been to the bottom and survived. That is the story-line running through the entirety of the Hebrew Scriptures so we are in good company.
The plight of others can be so moving it lays on the bleeding-heart a desire to help. I watched a programme on TV the other day about people who drink themselves to oblivion. They wasted their money, were reckless with their health; their lives; their careers; their families and their prospects. Yet they were broken people with heart-rending stories and as sick in body and mind as anyone with a physical illness. Their injuries were mostly self-inflicted yet so sad and moving to watch; these people were God's children (all sharing the image of God) suffering deep traumas often because they weren't able to face the truth about themselves. And I guess that most people would see something of themselves in them. Philosophy asks questions and builds on the insights of those who went before them. Yet how often those insights were manipulated to gain power over others. We may be able to change society but human-nature is constant and cannot be altered so there will always be those who seek to lord it over others. For many life is a riddle. It's as if we've been deposited on this planet not knowing where we came from and so left puzzling what cannot be fathomed. Some people seek answers in science; others bury their heads in activity; still others drink (or take drugs) to dull their fears and insecurities. Words are inadequate to express these gnawing feelings although poetry does help by painting pictures of the obscure. Our task in ministry is to meet people where they to support them in their dilemmas shining a light on the way ahead that they might find their way to the "Spirit." Speaking personally the answer is found in God. That doesn't mean I have some kind of higher knowledge than other people and should I be tempted to think otherwise the Apostle Paul has some helpful words here: "I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to" (Rom. 12:3). So this is obviously a perennial problem! As as ministers we are merely guides pointing the way. In the work we do we may be ridiculed, laughed-at, ignored or side-lined but we take for our example the "Suffering Servant" of Isaiah – who though rejected and abused was vindicated and rewarded. So too will those who serve others faithfully (with humility and compassion) from the heart.

1st May 2016