Dear Friends,

Spirit Connections:  Three of the world’s religions claim Abraham at their roots: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and we share some of the same scriptures, hence the term, Peoples of the Book referring to the three faiths.  The Discipleship commission decided that we would like to explore the spirituality of the three faiths; how do other People of the Book use particular daily practices to commune with God?  To that end, we have set aside three weekday evenings in November to do just that:  the first in this series of collegial conversations will be next week, Tuesday, 3 November and the others will be 11 and 18 November, both Wednesdays, from 6-8 p.m. in the library.  This will be about how people experience their faith journeys and connect with God on a daily basis, not about doctrine or liturgy.  All participants will be lay persons.

This series of discussions is the brainchild of Donald Williamson, one of the members of the Discipleship Commission.  He will also serve as the moderator.  This week, because I am down with a bad cold and because Donald provides the background to these three conversations so well, I would like to pass the baton to him:

Sigmund Freud was the author of some interesting ideas about human behavior, not all of which have worn well over time.  But some have had quite an impact on how we understand ourselves, none more so than his suggestion that much of our behavior is motivated by unconscious thoughts, emotions and impulses not immediately available to conscious awareness or to voluntarily influence. 

Freud identified the idea of God as an illusion.  (We can probably assume that he knows better by now.) Freud’s wayward professional son countered that, rather than an “illusion in the sky,” God is to be found and experienced at the deeper levels of “the unconscious mind.” So faith remains a mystery. 

Jung warned that religion, in its most formal enactments can and does become “the last defense” against God.  The mythologist Joseph Campbell described the world’s great religions as “the several masks” worn by God before humans.  

That brings us finally to the point at hand: We shall chat with two Jewish friends the first evening, two members of All Saints’ on the second, and two Muslim neighbors on night three.  Overall, the background question is this:  When you look upon the face of God or listen to God’s word, or speak to God, what do you see?  What do you hear?  What do you say?  And why do you do any of that? 

You are warmly invited to attend and join this conversation.  The purpose?  To enrich and deepen our experience of the Spirit of God and of each other.

(Salad bowl pot luck: lettuce provided, bring a tomato, avocado or a can of something to throw in the bowl.)

In Christ,

Claudia Ward, Senior Warden
All Saints’ Episcopal Church