Suggestions for Reading & Discussion, Please

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Paradoxa, Jan 6, 2019.

  1. Paradoxa

    Paradoxa New Member

    Jan 6, 2019
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    Hi. I'm new to this forum. I was raised Christian, in a somewhat liberal denomination, although as a teenager I became a skeptic. That was long ago. Now, as an older adult, I have a renewed interest in matters of faith, but from a perspective very different from that of my youth.

    Also, I'm part of a small weekly discussion group in the town where I live. The primary focus has been group reading of religious/spiritual works, particularly the bible and related Christian devotional materials.

    Several of the other local group members are conservative Christians who place great emphasis on the literal belief of the bible. Their notion of the divine seems to be that of an external, controlling being and, they are quick to turn any group discussion to matters of belief which favor very literal interpretations of things. I often hear positive mention of young earth creationism, end times, and so on, and negative comments about "liberals", "Darwinism", etc.

    To be honest, I'm not the least bit interested in such topics, or in what seems like rigid, dogmatic belief, especially since it all tends to be quite divisive in a group setting. Instead, I'm much more interested in applying the positive messages of scriptures, such as expressing gratitude and showing love for others, as well as bringing people together rather than driving wedges between them.

    During our group get-togethers for discussion, I can take the approach of listening, nodding my head, and allowing the discussion to take a predictably conservative tack.

    If, on the other hand, I raise points or ask questions that nudge the conversation toward a less literal approach to scripture, it can quickly unsettle things. It even seems to threaten the conservative members as if my questions or doubts constitute a type of heresy.

    I'm wondering... Is anyone aware of good discussion materials that can be used by a diverse group such as ours when all members are not at the same place in their spiritual journey?
  2. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

    Oct 17, 2005
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    I have discovered if you start any discussion about any topic that will have the potential if accepted of pulling the rug out from under them or implies their rug is not on a sound footing it will be met with objection. And I think for obvious reasons, and I have chosen to avoid those groups as I have the flat earthers.

    Best to stick with books which don't rock that boat.
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  3. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

    Nov 26, 2016
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    Oh, here we go again. If only these literalist fundamentalist young-earthers could understand the damage they are doing to the true message of Christ in the 21st Century when science is lifting the veil on so many misconceptions about nature and the cosmos.

    Stick around here for a while @Paradoxa. I'm sure you'll get a bit of material to use in your discussions with them. But if not, just let them go. Change what you can, accept what you can't?

    Best wishes and welcome
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2019
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  4. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

    Oct 19, 2018
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    I don't know much reading material that would not offend or scare narrow minded people, and yet be interesting to those with a horizon which consists of more than a single point (which they would call their standpoint )

    Some of C.S. Lewis' stuff maybe? He might feel 'safe to discuss', and yet he was sonetimes very candid and open about himself, in his spiritual biography, for example. "Surprised by joy", if I am not mistaken. It could also bring discussion down to earth in the sense that it invites sharing personal experience, rather than discussion of abstract articles of faith.
  5. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai

    Feb 24, 2014
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    Familiarize yourself with the Bhagavad Gita and hit them with some wisdom from outside their own paradigm. ;)
    RJM Corbet likes this.
  6. apexcone

    apexcone Trackdayguy

    Jan 1, 2019
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    I personally wouldn’t be hitting them will anything. I would agree with a previous poster that may well not be the group for you. There is a great book about leading small groups I’ll see if I can find it when I get home. Ok The book is called:

    "Making Small Groups Work" by Cloud Townsend

    My experience in being in small groups with Evangelical Fundamentalists is not good. I find them divisive, argumentative & closed minded. Its like talking to the deaf & blind.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2019
  7. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

    Sep 25, 2003
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    Hi Paradoxa —
    Oh dear ... warning flags go up.

    ... more flags!

    Best you can do.

    Yes, it will.

    It's a great shame that the word 'dogma', a Greek term derived from the verb 'to seem good, think' is nowadays applied in the sense of 'not thinking' and in fact has relatively little to do with 'thinking', and much more to do with 'reacting'.

    This, without being in the room, is probably the root of the problem. There are people present who are not there to learn, think, discuss, etc., but rather to assert their opinions, and have their own opinions affirmed by others. So if you are not for them, you are against them.

    Who founded the group? I ask only in the sense that if the group's been 'hijacked' then maybe there's a way to resolve the issue. If, however, the group was founded by such narrow-minded thinkers, you're effectively, in their eyes, the hijacker.

    I assume saying things like, 'well, that's an opinion', doesn't get you very far. Nor unfolding the origin of the contemporary expression of young earth creationism (and creationism generally), Intelligent Design, etc., are the product of a right-wing political think-tank, rather than theological or religiously-held opinions over the centuries.

    Good luck ...

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