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Change versus Foolish Consistency

Small Group Ministry Session Plan

Developed by Peter Bowden

Based on Earth Bound: Daily Meditations for All Seasons
by Brian Nelson and Questions for the Religious Journey
by George Kimmich Beach

Opening Ritual


Our session today is based on readings from Earth Bound: Daily Meditations For All Seasons, by Brian Nelson, and Questions for the Religious Journey: Finding Your Own Path, by Rev. George Kimmich Beach. Earth Bound contains 365 reflections on “nature in all its guises” for every season and day of the year. Questions for the Religious Journey offers tools for religious introspection and encourages readers to “seek answers that will mark the pathways as your own.”

Opening Words

Our opening words are from the preface of Earth Bound:

This planet is our home, our heritage, our future—a truth that can never be spoken enough. Whenever you dive into the ocean, wander in the woods, or lie on your back and stare at the stars, you are forging a connection to the truth. And if Frank Lloyd Wright was correct when he argued, “Nature is the only body of God that we shall ever see,” then both this book and life itself are filled with prayers.



Our opening words draw attention to the many ways in which we are able to connect with the truth and the world around us. When we connect, the understanding that results affords us the opportunity to do something amazing—to change. Brian Nelson speaks of change and our culture’s view of it in the following reflection from Earth Bound.

Harp seals are born with entirely white fur. Their fur turns spotted grey when they are old enough to care for themselves. This extraordinary evolutionary tactic helps the baby harp seal blend into the arctic environment and evade capture when it is most vulnerable.

We too should change as we grow older—and feel no shame about it. Our culture values staunchness and consistency. We berate politicians for changing their views. But shouldn’t we want them to accommodate their opinions to what they learn in life? Should we ask our friends to stay the same forever? As Emerson writes, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

Change when you have to. If the harp seal can do it, so can you.

This reflection upholds the value of change. We must change in order to grow. This growth may be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual in nature. When we do change, as Brian Nelson suggests, it is not uncommon for the world around us to offer resistance. This is one of the benefits of this group. Here we can work on forming new relationships, reflect on new understandings, and change both our minds and our lives.


  • What were you like as a child? What was your favorite activity, subject in school, game, hobby, or dream for the future?
  • In what ways have you changed as you have grown older?
  • Brian Nelson says that politicians are often berated for changing and that our culture values consistency. Have you ever wanted to change in some way and experienced resistance either from yourself or those around you? What were you trying to change?
  • It is a given that we will change over time. How we change is determined, in part, by our choices. We can choose whom we spend our time with, where we go, what activities we undertake, what we read, what we do with our minds, and how we care for ourselves and others. Given the necessity of change, how would you like to see yourself change over time? Which choices you will determine whether or not this happens?

Likes & Wishes

Closing Words

Our closing words are from Questions for the Religious Journey by Rev. George Kimmich Beach.

What we believe is neither more nor less than that which enables us to make sense of life. I use the term “making sense” in the ordinary, colloquial way that we may say of an explanation, “That makes sense.” We mean more than: This fits my prior understanding of the way things are. We mean: This enables me to make sense of other things, such that they fit together in ways that they did not before. What “makes sense” is the insight or the intuition that what was obscure, paradoxical, or even nonsensical before becomes intelligible when seen in this light.

Closing Ritual

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Last updated on Wednesday, June 2, 2010.

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