13 January, Rev. Geoffrey Usher: “Ring in the New”.
The tradition of New Year’s resolutions is an acknowledgement that, despite all that is known and set and past in our lives, we can change. It’s a way to tip our hats to possibilities, to the idea that we can still produce a different future. It is possible to be mistaken, and we should be prepared to modify our beliefs in the light of new knowledge or experience. We need to be willing to “ring in the new”.
20 January, Morandir Armson: “Religions of Ancient Ireland”.
The story of religion in Ireland is a fascinating view of religious development, and serves to illustrate the ways in which Christianity took root in Europe. This presentation will look at the shift in religion in Ireland, from the ancient Pagan Druidical religions, to the development of the Celtic Catholic Church.
27 January, Colin Whatmough: “Reviewing Iraq: deceptions and lies which led to tragedy”
3 February, Ginna Hastings: ” Unitarian Spirituality, body, mind and soul.”
This talk is taken mainly from one given by Jim Nelson, minister of Neighborhood UU Church in Pasadena, CA, with permission. Jim raises the point that in Western society body, soul and mind are often kept quite separate in theological and spiritual thought. In this talk, Jim seeks to put a new, Unitarian bent on all this.
10 February, Jan Tendys: “Work and Love.”
It has been suggested that work and love are the two areas of life most likely to provide the possibility of happiness. Let’s consider that.
17 February, Morandir Armson: “Imagined Deities.”
Faith would seem to be an important element in religious belief and practice. But can one have faith in something that one knows to be false? This talk will focus on the phenomenon of imaginary religions;
those religions which revere fictional, imaginary or post-modern deities. From Jedi-ism and Discordianism, to the Church of the SubGenius, the Church of Ponies, and the Cthulhu Cult, this presentation will shine a light on those who believe in believing.
24 February, Rev. Dr. Ian Ellis-Jones: “Why There is No Such Thing as the Universe.”
Using empiricism and Buddhist teachings, Ian will show why there is no such thing as the “universe”.
3 March, Rev. Geoffrey R. Usher: “Meaning Beyond Ourselves”.
How often have we heard someone say: “I am not religious, but I am spiritual”? How many of us would be comfortable saying it about ourselves? Many people who do say it mean that they have a sense that there is something beyond themselves; a sense that there is a spiritual dimension to life; a sense that there is a deeper meaning to life than the purely materialistic level.
10 March, Rev. Geoffrey R. Usher: “Little Things, Big Things”.
Little things we often think of as having a high value in themselves – a diamond ring, a gold coin, a rare postage stamp – only carry the value that human communities have placed on them.
17 March, Morandir Armson: “The Pagan Trail: A Look at a Contemporary Pilgrimage”.
In recent years, something of a “Pagan Trail” has developed in the United Kingdom, equating to the “Hippy Trail” in South-East Asia, India and North Africa. This tourist trail has enriched various hostel owners and tour guides, filled shops with New Age paraphernalia and led to a veritable cottage industry of guides with wide Pagan knowledge. However, can this “Pagan Trail” really be seen as a form of pilgrimage? This presentation will examine contemporary Pagan tourism in Wiltshire and Somerset and seek the answer to the question; does the Pagan Trail represent a genuine attempt at creating a Pagan pilgrimage route?”
24 March, Colin Whatmough: “Political Letter Writing”.
Letter writing – a means of expressing one’s ideas, research and opinions and dealing with political frustration/cynicism.
31 March, Rev. Eric Stevenson: “Doing our own Easter”.
Their belief in the spirit world, their propensity for altered states of consciousness, and the transforming effect personal contact with him continued to have on their lives drove them to make sense of his execution. It took about two years before their theories were formulated, and two generations before they began to be written down. Without those three things what can we make of it 2000 years later?
7 April, Laurence Gormley: “Observations from my recent trip to Myanmar (Burma).”
Myanmar has been in the news a lot recently because of the dramatic political changes taking place. Some observations and thoughts from my recent trip there. More subjective than a definitive study of the country and limited by the places and time of the visit. Hopefully still interesting.
14 April, Dr. Max Lawson: “Rudyard Kipling and World Religions”
Often described as a mindless imperialist and racist, Rudyard Kipling was in fact an astute observer of Indian life and religion in India and Tibet. Discussion of Kipling’s novel Kim (1901) will be used as a springboard to discuss differing attitudes to world religions.
21 April, Morandir Armson: “Imagined Deities”
Faith would seem to be an important element in religious belief and practice. But can one have faith in something that one knows to be false? This talk will focus on the phenomenon of imaginary religions; those religions which revere fictional, imaginary or post-modern deities. From Jedi-ism and Discordianism, to the Church of the SubGenius, the Church of Ponies, and the Cthulhu Cult, this presentation will shine a light on those who believe in believing”.
28 April, Rev. Dr. Ian Ellis-Jones: “Walking in the Eternal Now”
‘What is the Path? What is Truth?’ asked the disciple. ‘Walk on!’ said the Zen master. Ian will talk about how we can be set free, unconditionally and absolutely.
5 May , Martin Horlacher: “Atheists, Theists, Foxholes and Fundamentalisms.”
The place of faith, religion and secularism in today’s world is a difficult topic, and a very hot one. Are all spiritual and religious people essentially deluded? Or are there really, as some would say, no atheists in foxholes? And is agnosticism a tenable position? This talk will ask all of these questions, and, to the greatest extent possible, answer them.
12 May, Helen Whatmough: Mother’s Day
19 May, Morandir Armson: “Teaching Ethics Classes”
‘The NSW Public Instruction Act of 1880 states that children are to receive one lesson per week of ‘Special Religious Education’. But what happens to children who are not religious? Or indeed, to children who practice a religion which is not catered to by SRE teachers? The answer is the Primary Ethics program. This presentation will feature a personal view of the Primary Ethics program, by a volunteer ethics teacher, who teaches in the largest, and one of the most ethnically diverse primary school in NSW’.
26 May, Eric Stevenson, Colin Whatmough: “Understanding — no matter what, from where or from whom.”
2 June , Rev. Dr. Ian Ellis-Jones: “Shinto for Non-Japanese “
Shinto is the authentic, native religion of Japan with its roots stretching back to 500 BCE. Today, there is a lot of interest in the West in this spiritual path which has no dogma, no concept of sin, no sacred books as such, and no mandatory precepts. Shinto in its respect and reverence for ‘Great Nature’, and its acknowledgment of the interconnectedness of all things, has great relevance to the Japanese as well as non-Japanese—and Shinto and Unitarianism have more than a bit in common.
28th July, Rev. Geoff Usher: “An Intangible Thread”
Most people are familiar with the concept of “Six Degrees of Separation”: the hypothesis that any two people, in any two distant, completely separate countries and cultures, can be connected by a chain of human contact of no more than six.
4 August , EricStevenson & Colin Whatmough: “Colin, this is your Life!”
The second interview in our new series of getting to know and celebrate the lives of our members.”
11 August, Morandir Armson: “The Cult of the Saints?”
Popular culture has had a tendency to idolise certain people and elevate them among other mortals. These saints and sages are then used as a source of wisdom, a model for correct behaviour, or merely as a source of quotes for inspirational coffee mugs and desk-calendars. But is this healthy? Does it help us to idolise fellow human beings, to elevate them in our minds above the common herd? This talk will take a hard look at some of these ‘saints’ and examine this phenomenon more closely.
18 August , Muslim guest: “Everything you wanted to know and ask about Islam.”
Today’s speaker will be a visitor from the Turkish Mosque in Auburn, who will talk about the beliefs of Islam as he sees it, and answer any questions you may have. The service will be given over to more of a talk and Q & A time than a service. If you have anyone who wants to know more, please bring them along!
25 August, Rev. Dr. Ian Ellis-Jones: “The Psychologist and the Magician.”
Ian will discuss a not-so-well-known little story titled “The Psychologist and the Magician”. The story shows how we are so easily ‘hypnotised’ by things that have no power in themselves except the power we give them through our attention, and teaches that every problem is an initiation which, when understood as such, has a spiritual solution.
1 September , Martin Horlacher: “Memory and Dream.”
It has now been fifty years since Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Half a century on, much has changed both in America and around the rest of the world – and yet, in many ways, we’ve still got a long way to go. What will the next fifty years bring, and are we prepared for them?
8 September, Morandir Armson: “George Orwell: The Thinking Person’s Scalliwag.”
George Orwell, the nom de plume of Eric Blair, is often described as the 20th century’s best chronicler of English culture. He wrote literary criticism, poetry, fiction and polemical journalism. He fought in the Spanish Civil War, and was also a member of the ‘Scallywags’, the ultra-secret, anti-Nazi force, set up by the Special Operations Executive. All through his career, he was attacked for his beliefs, by all sectors of politics; he was unpatriotic, he was too patriotic, he was a Communist, he was an anti-Communist, he was insufficiently pacifistic, he was a supporter of Right-wing warmongers. Yet, all through his career, Orwell sought to steer his own ethical course. This talk will examine Orwell’s ethical framework, and seek to explain some of his more controversial views.
15 September, Colin Whatmough: “War and Civilians”.
My talk will be related to the UU Principle – ‘the inherent worth and dignity of every person’ with reference to America’s war against Iraqi civilians. Are we going to have a repeat performance in Syria?
22 September, Rev. Geoff Usher: “Worship: Transitive or Intransitive?”
People are more likely to engage in worship when they do it in the company of others who also are engaged in worship. If we use “worship” as a transitive verb, the object of worship is likely to become the essential element: what is worshiped becomes more important than the people who are doing the worshiping.
29 September, Ginna Hastings: “The 8 Habits of Love”
In this talk Ginna will be discussing a book “The 8 Habits of Love” and align the ideas with both good mental health and our seven principles.
6October, Service today is cancelled owing to expected parking chaos.
13October, Morandir Armson: “Pagan Ecumenicism: The Search For Common Ground?”
When we talk about Paganism and the interfaith movement, there are many different layers to consider. Modern Paganism is a movement, an umbrella term for a number of distinct faith traditions. Pagans have to expend almost as much energy on building relationships with each other as they do with Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, or Buddhists. For modern Paganism as a movement to effectively relate to the rest of the world’s religions, it must be conscious of how it is progressing.
20October, Rev. Eric Stevenson: “Report on Common Dreams Conference”
Eric reports on his attendance at the Common Dreams conference as the Spirit of Life Representative. Some gathered clues on birthing religious fellowships.
27 October, Rev. Dr. Ian Ellis-Jones: “Fairy Tales and their Inner Meanings”
Most fairy tales are not about ‘fairies’ at all, but are mythological in nature. Their ‘inner’ meaning is cloaked in allegory, parable and symbolism. Ian will discuss some well-known fairy tales, including Aladdin, Cinderella, and Snow White, drawing out some of the ‘lessons’ we can learn from them and apply in our daily lives.
3November, Colin Whatmough: “The European Origins of Unitarianism”
10November, Morandir Armson: “Healing the Soul”.
At the present time, “soul-healing therapy” is very popular. It is difficult to determine whate these therapists are selling, as very few of them provide a reasonable definition of what they mean by “soul”. However it is clear that many of us feel deep wounds in the core of our being. We feel somehow ‘fractured’ in our experience of our selves. So working on healing ourselves at a fundamental, deep level, so we can experience ourselves as a whole being seems to have merit. This talk will examine the idea of “soul-healing therapy’ and provide some answers as to its utility.
17 November, Rev. Geoff Usher: “The Best Daily Dozen.”
There’s not enough hugging going on in this world. Physical contact is important, to communicate feelings of warmth, friendship, support, acceptance.
24 November, Laurence Gormley: “The Gift of Ordinariness.”
A paen to the small things in everyday life. It’s important sometimes to forget the “big things”, the important things, and revere the day to day events.
1 December, Martin Horlacher: “Fiction and Faith: Three Perspectives on Jesus.”
One of the most powerful mediums in the world is the art of fiction, and, over the years, fictional works about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ have been many and varied. This talk will examine three such fictional depictions from popular culture – namely, those versions as put forward in print and on screen by Mel Gibson, Jose Saramago and Nikos Kazantzakis / Martin Scorsese – and their interpretations of and impact upon one of the best-known stories in history.
8 December, Morandir Armson: “Coming up to Christmas”.
Christmas has become a major plank, both of the Christian religion, and of Western cultural life. But where did the traditions of Christmas come from? This presentation will focus on Christmas traditions, drawn from the Pagan Norse and Romans, from Mediaeval and Renaissance mysticism, and from Georgian and Victorian cultural traditions.
15 December, Members’ contributions (readings, poems, musical items, etc)
Party food following !
Christmas and New Year Break