The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”  (from Letters to a Young Poet, 1903)

*        *       *       *       *

LIVING THE QUESTIONS is primarily a study group -- meaning that Members are expected to do some reading in preparation for most meetings. (You may not just participate in those activities involving no readings.) We view reading as a privileged path to personal reflection on matters of ultimate concerns such as morality, religion, irreligion -- and we value civil, safe, spirited discussions as a way to exchange our individual insights and questions.

We are not aiming to become a large group as this is not for everybody. So please don't sign up if you already know you won't find the time, energy, money to do the reading and meet, say, at least once every six weeks.

To tackle those overreaching (overwhelming?) concerns about the meaning of life, our place and role in the universe -- and the block we live on, the range of adequate responses to unjustice near and far, our relationship to what transcends our humanness, our duty to tolerate beliefs and unbeliefs or others, etc. -- this group will take turns looking at various clusters of interest.

[Below are listed over a dozen clusters. Once you are an established Member of this group, feel free to recommend new clusters of study reflecting your own particular interests.]

Cluster 1 : SUNDAY MORNING READING & MEDITATION IN A CIRCLE

We come prepared having read (and maybe reread) during the previous week a short piece of prose or poetry from the heart. We meet outdoors if possible (like the Sculpture Garden in City Park). Sitting in a circle. Comfortable with silences.

Cluster 2 : BEYOND THE NEW ATHEISM AND THE DEATH OF GOD MOVEMENTS

(New Atheism being the name given to the ideas promoted by a collection of modern atheist writers who have advocated the view that "religion should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized, and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises".) As a starter, we'll focus on writers who seek to honor both claims and concerns of religion and irreligion -- such as Alain de Botton's Religion for Atheists, Andre' Comte-Sponville's Little Book of Atheist Spirituality, Bruce Sheiman's An Atheist Defends Religion.

Cluster 3: IRRELIGION

Irreligion is a more dispassionate term than atheism. We'll look at questions we -- and scholars -- have around the rise (and decline?) of secularization.

Cluster 4 : MYTHOLOGY: the writings of Joseph Campbell and others

Only through an understanding of mythology -- the "prehistory" out of which our more modern religions and philosophical systems including science and atheism come from -- can we have a proper perspective on our present questions and practices regarding religiosity and secularity. Reading (or listening to recordings of) Joe Campbell's lectures is a lot of FUN!

Cluster 5 : ART AND SPIRITUALITY

A look at the connection between artistic creativity and spiritual practices. Has the contemporary artist taken the place of the ancient prophet -- revealing empowerment of transcendence over alienation and disbelief, speaking truth to power? We'll start with a quick look at the study of reknown sociologist Robert Wuthnow -- Creative Spirituality: The Way of the Artist.

Cluster 6 : WORKS AND TIMES OF DISTINGUISHED RELIGIONISTS

We'll read select contemporary authors -- from all religious traditions -- who seem to have a special gift to encapsulate and share the ultimate questions of human existence. Possible candidates are Karen Armstrong, Parker K. Palmer, Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chondron, Sharon Salzberg, Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg, Jacob Needleman, Michael Lerner, Jim Wallis, Walter Brueggemann, Frederick Buechner, Henri Nouwen.

Cluster 7 : SPIRITUALLY SIGNIFICANT SHORT STORIES AND FILMS

The view here is that, rather than holding theological or philosophical discourses about the ultimate nature of (human) reality, maybe it is better and truer to ... tell stories. (The great majority of them will NOT involved any supernatural element -- while still conveying a sense of mystery.)

Cluster 8 : PHILOSOPHY/THEOLOGY CAFE'

Though we might not discuss head-on questions such has "Does God exist?", "Is there an afterlife?", we'll occasionally gather and muse around more tangential concerns death, the divine or lack thereof, enchantment of the world, " What is it that the word God stands/used to stand for?", etc.

Cluster 9 : RELIGIOUS LITERACY & SURVEY OF WORLD RELIGIONS

How illiterate are we on matters of religion and does it matter? This will be an opportunity to learn more about folks near and far live their faiths.

Cluster 10: JUSTICE/ethics/leading lives that matter

Cluster 11: RADICALNESS OF GOD AND NORMALCY OF CIVILIZATION

revolutionary , jesus. not even only the child, widow, poor but also all the oppressed. liberation!! sojo

Cluster 12: THE HISTORICAL JESUS

Cluster 13: FORUM FOR LIBERAL/PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIANITY

Cluster 14: Jesus seminar and Sea of Faith/Don Cupitt

Cluster 15: "Going to church"

Cluster 16: EASTERN THINKING American buddhism, new age phenomenon

Cluster 17: DISCUSSION OF SELECT PERIODICALS/SELECT ARTICLES

Sojourners

Cluster 18: (you tell me, you recommend something)

NOTE :$$

NOTE: Other meetup groups, also sponsored by the Convivium, touch on interests close to those covered here. Especially recommended are:

-Happiness

-Love

-vale

-ssfss

-bc/y

nonfiction/x

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