Last week I wrapped up an adult education class discussing the book Faithiest by Chris Stedman. I wasn’t sure how the book would be received, but I thought the message was good and the title very catchy. I like to teach my adult education classes during the daytime hours (I already have so many evening meetings, a daytime class means one less evening away from my family), and daytime classes generally attract a crowd of retired folks. Would this book written by a gay Millenial Humanist speak to my crowd of retired Unitarian Universalists?
Yes, it did. We had some great discussions (I adapted the discussion guide from here for the class, and I’m absolutely willing to share my class lesson plan if anyone wants to message me for it).
I was also hoping to try out an online book discussion on Google Hang Out, but that option didn’t get any registrations and so I still haven’t tried it. Does that mean that the whole idea of online classes is a waste of time and effort? I don’t think so … I think the problem was that I advertised the class in our regular Adult Education catalog and no where else. Folks who might want something different probably aren’t in the habit of looking in our regular catalog. Oh well, live and learn – I still want to branch out into virtual learning environments and next time I’ll market it differently.
I’ve just finished facilitating my third of the Tapestry of Faith adult curricula: Spirit in Practice. (I modified the program quite a bit, but I’m impressed with the curriculum as is – I just have learned that we get better turn-out for programs that are 1-4 sessions long, so I never do the whole 10 sessions in one string anymore).
“The idea of spiritual practices encourages individuals to take responsibility for their own spiritual development by spending time working on it, deliberating on its meaning and how best to pursue it, seeking to understand the sacred through reading and the counsel of others, and seeking to have contact with the sacred through personal reflection and prayer.”
—Robert Wuthnow, scholar of American religious history
As we reflected on the class during the final session, one participant said it had been a “marvelous honoring of personal experience”. That was how I experienced it as well – as a gentle encouragement for all the participants to stretch themselves and open themselves to some new experiences, and then to come back to the group and discuss and share. The group asked probing questions and debating ideas, but in a supportive way. We found that there were many different preferred styles and approaches to spiritual practice, just as there are so many different spiritual practices to try. Most of the group tried to practice something that doesn’t come naturally to them during the 3 weeks we were meeting.
It really was a “marvelous honoring of personal experience” and an encouragement to pursue new experiences. I’d love to add onto the beloved (misquoted to Francis David) words “we need not think alike to love alike” and add “we need not practice alike to support each other in spiritual growth”. (Although it’s not as pleasing to the ear as the first statement, I admit.)