Ladinsky, Daniel. Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West. (Penguin Compass: New York, 2002).
Rohlheiser, Ronald. The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality. (New York: Doubleday, 1999).
Thompson, Marjorie. Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life. (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995).
WRITE TWO ESSAY ANSWERS AND INTEGRATE ALL COURSE MATERIALS IN YOUR ANSWERS. THE ESSAYS SHOULD BE THREE PAGES, DOUBLE-SPACED.
- Creation spirituality posits, at its base, a God who cares deeply about creation and loves each creature. Can one have a nature-based spirituality without an idea of a deity or higher power? Using Rohlheiser, what might a nature-based spirituality– without a deity– look like?
- The two creation stories admit the possibility of a long period preceding the creation of human beings. Perhaps this refers to evolution or the evolutionary process. If so, is there something still special and unique that theology can say about the creation of women and men? If we concur with the truth of evolution, how are human beings created by God? Can one be a creationist and an evolutionist in theory? Or, are these two contradictory truths that cannot be reconciled?
- What is the relationship between the theology of original blessing and the doctrine of original sin? How should the church or contemporary Christians understand these important doctrines of the historic faith in light of modernity?
- Is the myth and doctrine of original sin a sufficient way to explain all the evil, injustice and suffering in the world? If so, where do we see signs of Gods redemption occurring? Gods restoration of original blessing?
- Matthew Fox has given us five tenets of a theology of original blessing. How might we apply these theological and spiritual teachings to our local, state, national and global environmental crisis? What unique voice and vision do religious people and people of faith have to contribute to the current environmental debate?
- What does it mean to you theologically that all creation came by the Word of God (Genesis 1:-2:4a ).
- What does it mean to you theologically that only when the breath of God enters into a human being (Genesis 2:7) are we fully alive?
- Matthew Fox gives us a theology of original blessing where God is both host and guest in the universe. He also posits that the human race also is both host and guest. How can this be true, theologically? How is this possible?
9. You are a spiritual person. A fellow-student is having trouble deciding on a major or a career. He states I just want to be happy. He adds I want a good job, make good money, have the freedom to buy what I want to buy, do what I want to do, get married, have kids, own a home, be successful and be happy. Knowing what you have learned about the spiritual life (from Rohlheiser) what would you say to this classmate?
10. You are a member of the campus ministry staff. A female classmate shares with you: Religion is about being a good person. Its about not doing anything wrong to others, not harming anyone. Its about helping others when you get a chance. Knowing what you have learned about holistic spirituality (from Rohlheiser), how would you respond to her?
11. You are a member of the campus ministry staff. A classmate shares with you: Silence is overrated. Life is about being active and living life to the fullest. You feel like your fellow student is missing something. However, you dont want to judge anothers spirituality. Using Thompson, what pastoral insight, affirmation and challenge would you give your comrade?
12. Does a person who harms others and brings a destructive energy to life a spiritual person? Or does she/he lack spirituality? How do you evaluate what desires are holy? How do you evaluate what actions and attitudes contribute to a life-giving spirituality? Is a life-giving spirituality something we should strive for? If so, why?
13. It is said that we dont interpret the Bible; the Bible interprets us. Or we dont interpret the Quran, the Quran interprets us. Is this statement true or false? Why? How?
14. How is the Bible a foundational book for every time and place? How is the Qur’an a foundational book for every time and place? What is the importance of sacred scripture in developing ones relationship with God? What is the importance of sacred scripture in understanding the broader human community in relationship to God?
15. Protestants and Catholics believe that the Bible gives us Gods word to guide us in our modern world. Yet we know the Bible is a human document, with many voices and visions, written by faithful people trying to propagate the faith. The writers believe they were inspired by a vision and the spirit that came from divine revelation. Still, the words of scripture seem to endorse many ancient and antiquated views. Can the Bible be trusted? If so, why? If not, why not? How are we to understand the testimony of scripture?
16. B. Dodd writes: At its simplest, the parable is a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, to tease the mind of the listener into active thought, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought. Write a one or two page story or simile that fits this definition. If you wish to add a theological interpretation, do so.
17. Jesus taught radical teachings about the kingdom of God. How does the radical alternative which he presented relate to the education and ministry of the church? Have his teachings been watered down or domesticated by the church? Or do his teachings continue in the life and ministry of faithful people, and in the life of the church? What do you think? Be explicit in your reasons.
18. The kingdom of God is in your midst. How do you understand Gods kingdom or reign? Is this an antiquated idea? Or something very precious and vital for our world? How do you experience the reign of God in our world today? Give evidence and examples that Gods kingdom is realized in the human community on earth.
19. What teachings of Jesus do you admire and long to live for? What teachings give you trouble? (be specific).
20. How is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ the center and heart of Christian spirituality?
21. We have studied the resurrection stories in the gospels. It is clear from the accountsand Lukes companion account in Acts of the Apostles– that it is not only Jesus that was raised. The church arose out of the experience of the first resurrection. How is the church a community of resurrection? How should congregations live out the resurrection in their common life?
22. Rohlheiser affirms that the church or temple or mosqueor a community of worshipis necessary and vital to having a mature, holistic spirituality. How might you respond to someone who says she/he is spiritual but not religious? Give reasons why you think that a supportive community is necessary to develop ones faith or spirituality.
23. Many churches or congregations are involved in worship wars. The older people want traditional music, hymnbooks with traditional hymns, liturgy and preaching. The younger generation seems to want praise bands, simple songs with a lively beat, no prayer of confession; a teaching or dramatic skit instead of a sermon. Using what Thompson says about worship, where do you stand on this conflict? How is the church or worshiping community able to be faithful to God in whatever worship style that is chosen?
24. How might the epidemic or pandemic of obesity be considered a spiritual crisis? Using what we know of the body and the soul (from Rohlheiser), explicate how this might be true.
25. Harvard University recently began a ministry for atheist and agnostic students, believing that these students deserved a chaplain who would affirm and support their own individual spiritual search, spiritual practice and values. What might an atheistic spirituality look like? What might atheist spiritual practice consist of?
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