Activity 4: Testing Thandeka's Theology of Personal Experience
Activity time: 20 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Newsprint, markers, and tape
- Participant journals
- Variety of writing and drawing implements
- Handout 2, Thandeka's Theology of Personal Experience
- Timepiece (minutes)
- Optional: Bell or chime
Preparation for Activity
- Write these questions for small groups on newsprint, and post:
- Do elements of a worship service in your Unitarian Universalist faith community affect your mood? Have you ever had what Thandeka calls a change of heart in response to an element or elements in the service? Was that change of heart experienced by others in the congregation?
- How do you respond to Thandeka's claim that we should pay more attention to the way we create and sustain the emotional atmosphere of our religious life? Thandeka believes that our own congregation's ability to create an atmosphere of unconditional love-love beyond belief-is the emotional bond that binds us together and makes us one religious community filled with persons who hold disparate religious beliefs. Do you agree?
Description of Activity
Distribute Handout 2 and ask participants to read it, Ask participants to form groups of three and invite them to test the author's Theology of Personal Experience.
Invite participants to share the reflections they wrote about their own experiences during Activity 1. Explain the small group process with these or similar words:
Each person is invited to take a minute or two to share their journal reflections on their own experiences. After all have shared, you are invited to a second round of sharing In this round, evaluate whether and how Thandeka's distinction between the personal experience of a change of heart and a personal change of heart within a gathered religious community makes personal sense to you.
Remind participants that this is an exercise in deep reflection and compassionate listening rather than an invitation to critique the feelings, thoughts, ideas, and experiences of others. Encourage them to do this work as a spiritual practice of deep listening and deep reflection. Allow ten minutes for this portion of the activity.
Now, indicate the posted questions. Invite participants to share, in turn, their with the others in the group. If there is time, the group may move on to a second round of reflections. Remind them that this is an exercise in deep reflection and compassionate listening rather than an invitation to critique the feelings, thoughts, ideas, and experiences of others. Encourage them to do this work as a spiritual practice of deep listening and deep reflection.