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Religious Exploration March 24th

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Religious Exploration– Last Sunday the children had popcorn theology class to begin exploring, in a contemporary way, the stories found in the Bible. Our study of Catholicism this weeks will be all about the myths and legends of a faith. We will hear about: The Creation myth, Noah’s Ark, Adam & Eve, Joseph’s Coat, David & Goliath, and Jonah in the belly of the fish. The children will see how things like Joseph’s story, or the story of Passover are shared among the religions we’ve learned about and how they tie together as well as how they relate to our own UU principles. As we head towards Easter/Passover, we are working on a special crossover event between our own Religious Exploration classes and those at Beth El. I hope to see you all Sunday!
Please Note – Religious Exploration at First Parish is in need of adult volunteers to lead and assist in spirit play and nursery! Please contact us at if you are able to volunteer!
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3/17 Bohm Dialogue — Consciousness

For March our topic is Consciousness.

Everything in the Universe, throughout all its kingdoms, is conscious: i.e., endowed with a consciousness of its own kind and on its own plane of perception. – H. P. Blavatsky


A human being is a spatially and temporally limited piece of the whole, what we call the “Universe.” He experiences himself and his feelings as separate from the rest, an optical illusion of his consciousness. The quest for liberation from this bondage is the only object of true religion. Not nurturing the illusion but only overcoming it gives us the attainable measure of inner peace. – Albert Einstein


Although you appear in earthly form Your essence is pure Consciousness. You are the fearless guardian of Divine Light. – Rumi


There’s certainly nothing original about the observation that conscious experience poses a hard problem. – David Chalmers

I know I have it and you seem to as well. But what is it, this “hard problem”? Wikipedia says:

Consciousness is the state or quality of awareness or of being aware of an external object or something within oneself.[1][2] It has been defined variously in terms of sentience, awareness, qualiasubjectivity, the ability to experience or to feelwakefulness, having a sense of selfhood or soul, the fact that there is something “that it is like” to “have” or “be” it, and the executive control system of the mind.”

Hmmm. Some say consciousness is before anything. Others that it is a byproduct of brain activity and some claim it is an illusion. But doesn’t “illusion” presuppose a consciousness to be illuded? Jan and Mark requested this topic so I asked them for their definitions. Jan replied:

My current favorite is Lisa Feldman Barrett’s model of consciousness (experiencing Reality):

“Your experiences are not a window into reality. Rather, your brain is wired to model your world, driven by what is relevant for your body budget (allostasis), and then you experience that model as Reality…”

Christof Koch’s Four ad hoc definitions of consciousness
1) common sense – our inner mental life while awake.
2) behavioral – a checklist of actions or behaviors we use to certify consciousness, for example, the Glasgow Coma Scale.
3) neuronal – the functioning of the cortico-thalamic complex and the brain stem
4) philosophy – what it is like to feel something. (p.33)

Feinberg & Mallatt (2016) propose a nice simple definition of Phenomenal Consciousness (Sensory):
p. 111: “But to us, real consciousness is indicated by the (optic tectum) making a multi-sensory map of the world and then attending to the most important object in this map and then signaling behaviors”… based on the map. 


Hmmmm. Mark said:

Jan has captured my favorites from Koch. Here is a pithy one from Antonio Damarion: the self in the act of knowing.

But what then is “the self” and how can it be separated from knowing?

Let’s get together to settle this damned “hard problem” once and for all! Join us to listen to what others think and to share what you think.  The Religious Exploration Salon is a group that meets 3rd Sundays to discuss various topics in the format called Bohm Dialogue which emphasizes respectful listening and balanced, synergistic sharing. For more details about how Dialogue works, please see this intro.

Everyone is welcome. You are welcome to think about the topic beforehand but no preparation is required or expected — come as you are with whatever thoughts/intuitions you have, ready to listen, learn and contribute.  We next meet Sunday March 17 at 7pm in the Brackett Room.

Contact Paul Reising, Tom Yelton or Jan Hardenbergh for more information.

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Religious Exploration for March

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Religious Exploration– This month our exploration of other religions continues; we are moving forward into our study of Catholicism. Last week we wrapped up Islam and reviewed our time spent on Judaism, this week brings new iconography, cultural practices, and rituals. The Roman Catholic church is the largest in the world with approximately 1.3 billion Catholics baptized worldwide as of 2016; what makes us similar and what sets us apart? This month the children of First Parish will find out!
Please Note – Religious Exploration at First Parish is in need of adult volunteers to lead and assist in spirit play and nursery! Please contact us at if you are able to volunteer!
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Religious Exploration February 24th

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Religious Exploration– In the Islamic culture, the Kaaba is a huge black stone structure that sits at the heart of the Grand Mosque, Islam’s most sacred place of worship. Some of its parts are connected to important episodes in Islamic tradition. The Kaaba is said to have been built by the prophet Abraham and his son Ishamet; this week the children of First Parish will learn about this important piece of Islamic history and make their own replicas of the Kaaba!
Please Note – Religious Exploration at First Parish is in need of adult volunteers to lead and assist in spirit play and nursery! Please contact us at if you are able to volunteer!
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Religious Exploration February 17th

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Religious Exploration-This week our exploration of the Islamic faith continues! The children will be learning about Arabic, Mecca, Calls to Prayer, and what it means to go on pilgrimage. There will be videos, discussion, and individual creative activities to help them better understand this religion and how it relates to our own UU practices. As a side note Religious Exploration is in need of adult volunteers to help lead our spirit play class on Sundays! If you are interested please feel free to contact me via text or phone call at 978-793-0851 or via email at
We need your help! Please click the links below to volunteer a Sunday in RE!
Spirit Play:
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Metrowest Family Promise Walk 2019

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Join our team for the annual walk to support Family Promise Metrowest.  It is about a three mile walk, and a festive event…You get a tee shirt and everything!  This has been one of our best inter-generational activities and a great way for FPS adults and children to get to know each other.  Join the Team, and of course, donate to support this worthy cause and our walkers!
Metrowest Family Promise is an organization that works to help homeless families get back on their feet with housing, jobs, training, etc.  It is based in Natick, where the walk will be happening.
Contact Michele, Valerie, or Leslie if you want to know more…….
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