Category Archives: Events

Common Dreams Conference in Retrospect

COMMON DREAMS 2019 a reflection by two members of the PCNQ

Steven and I attended this gathering during July, at Newington College and Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney. To be honest, we were also attending the Royal School of Church Music Winter School and as these two events overlapped, we missed some sessions of both.

However, COMMON DREAMS was the fifth gathering of its kind, drawing people from across Australia, New Zealand and even further afield. The fourth was held at Somerville House in Brisbane in 2017.

The vision for COMMON DREAMS is described by Rev Greg Jenks, an Anglican minister, former Principal of St Francis Theological College in Brisbane, but now Dean of Bathurst Anglican Cathedral:

Common Dreams is intended to be an interfaith and ecumenical project to promote, protect and expand the role of reasonable and tolerant religion in the public space. The significance of Common Dreams as a name for this movement is its potential to invite us beyond differences derived from culture, ethnicity and religion into a shared space where we have common dreams for a better future.

The theme of this year’s conference was Sacred Earth: Original Blessing, Common Home. It was a focus for advocates of spirituality and social change, providing inspiration for progressive seekers and sustenance for practical dreamers. International guest, Matthew Fox, leading exponent of creative Spirituality, addressed the conference with topics such as Spiritual but not Religious: the future of religion and of spirituality and of the Earth; On being Deeply Human in a Time of Earth-Crisis; But there were so many inspirational speakers – Norman Habel and Anne Pattel-Gray lead us in Time to Publicly Acknowledge the Creation Spirituality of our Aboriginal Custodians; Jonathan Keren-Black (Jewish scholar) spoke on In Judaism it is actions that count above all in healing the world; Rod Bower, from Gosford’s Anglican Church challenged us with his understanding of Common Home and A Just Society; Ro Allen, Victorian Commissioner for Gender Equality, showed us through honest dialogue and courage how to Honour the Rich Diversity of Sex, Sexuality and Gender within the Cosmos; and Rev Margaret Mayman of Pitt St UC gave the final keynote – Holding Hope and Acting Out: Engaging Tradition and Doing Ethics in Times of Conflict and Crisis.

We have come home, inspired and emboldened to look for ways we can put into practice our common dreams.

Here are some sound-bites which I can share with you. I hope you might find something that engages your thoughts, your feelings ……

We have twelve years left – before it is too late – to change direction in response to the climate crisis.

We are the first species who can choose not to become extinct. We haven’t made that choice yet!

Rabbi Hershel, who walked with Martin Luther King on the Selmer bridge, said of his own actions “I felt my feet were praying”.

Beware the sole path of rational thinking – look to intuition, deep feelings, mysticism. Rationality should serve intuition because this is where values come from.

There is nothing wrong with the world today other than we have lost the sense of the Sacred.

Thinking and defining needs to be led by experience and tasting. How do we do this – through silence, through the Arts, which will then open us to the Holiness in all things.

The Mystic is the Divine Child in us – the Arts will nurture this.

Albert Einstein believed God is the oneness of creation. The Cosmic Christ points to the Divine in the big spaces as well as in the little spaces.

The story of Abraham’s journey into Caanan has important parallels and lessons for us about our place in this land we call Australia, which is, was and always be Aboriginal land.

Abraham, the peacemaker, respected the peoples of the land.

We ask the same.

Abraham recognized the God of the Land.

We ask the same.

Abraham and the peoples of the land shared mutual blessings.

We ask the same.

The western concept of buying and selling land is not in the aboriginal ideology.

The wind existed before everything else in the stories of many indigenous peoples.

Life without wonder is not worth living.

The transcendent spirit becomes the inner presence of God in our hearts.

In our communities, “fitting in” isn’t “belonging”. A just society is about “belonging”.

PHILOXENIA means loving the stranger. This points to the act of hospitality.

“Jesus – the Man for Others” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The Feeding of the Five Thousand – a metaphor for “if we share what we have, there will be enough to go around –  and maybe even more”.

Trying to be religious in the public domain often results in what we say getting lost in translation. We need to find better ways of acting as well as talking!

We are called to Act Up, that is, to disrupt the establishment.

But we are also called to Act Out, which means exploring God’s expectation of love, justice and a shared joy of life.

Being disturbed by what we see around us can give us courage to Act Out into society.

We go to a theological reframing to help us understand the sacred in the world: we have been evolving this understanding for ever – there was Abraham, then there was Jesus, what next??

“If you want to follow Jesus, you’d better believe you look good on wood” – Daniel Berrigan (Jesuit)

Everything we say about God is metaphor…

God is our experience of God!

Jesus was the incarnation of love and freedom: he showed the divine power of LOVE and that we have the FREEDOM to act. Faith is believing this!!

The opposite of bad is good. The opposite of EVIL is the SACRED. There’s more good than bad in the world, but not by much…..

We can find inspiration in the words of Italian priest and philosopher Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and German theologian Meister Eckhardt (1260-1328). For example – Aquinas said “The proper objects of the heart are truth and justice”.

Taking a stand can be costly. Stand up for truth and justice: be surprised by joy (C S Lewis).

Trust is the basis of courage. How do you learn courage? Go to courageous people.

COURAGE – this word means “a large heart” – a heart so full that it sustains us for whatever ….

Trust is the basis of all courage.

Adele Nisbet September 2019

News and an Invitation from the PCN Explorers

Last Wednesday around 20 of us met to hear from some folk who had attended the Common Dreams Conference in Sydney in July. We heard about the highlights for each person – some notable quotes from Adele and Steven Nisbet are in a following post. Our discussions always take on a perspective of their own and led to some considerations around our relationships with our first nation people and I think that will lead us into another topic for one of our Explorers mornings in the future. 

David Hale, Anglican chaplain at UQ told us about his work encouraging students to explore theology in an open thinking environment and about their multi-faith activities. David has issued an invitation to an event  on 8th November, 7 pm to 9 pm at Old Bishopbourne, St Francis College, Milton, Brisbane.

How Can Christianity become a better wall against injustice?

How Can Christianity become a better wall against injustice? The Holocaust occurred in a mostly
Christian country, as did slavery in the US, and so how do we ensure Christianity can stop injustice.
To register, go to: www.eventbrite.com.au

Our next PCN Explorers is on Wednesday 30th October, 10:30 am at Merthyr Road Uniting Church, 52 Merthyr Rd, New Farm, led by Brian OHanlon, Retired Psychologist; Meditation Teacher; Feldenkrais Practitioner

A Spiritual approach to Christianity: Understanding the Spiritual Ego:

  • A summary of the ideas of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin with particular emphasis on ‘we are Spiritual beings!’
  • A summary ‘Heaven on Earth’.
  • We are Spiritual beings so, why are we not in the Kingdom, ‘Heaven on Earth’? (The Spiritual Ego what is it?) 
  • Turning down the Spiritual Ego.

Sound interesting? make sure it is in your diary – we are always the last Wednesday of the month. Come along and join in the interesting conversations and fellowship.

journeying and exploring together,

Desley

Desley Garnett
drgarn@bigpond.net.au
0409 498 403

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An Invitation from the Redcliffe (Q) Explorers

Dear fellow Explorer

Our next meeting will be on Monday 7th October which (yes!) is the Queen’s Birthday holiday. I’ll be making some personal observations on a number of inter-related topics including:  

Faith, Belief, Truth, Science, and do I believe in miracles? Be prepared for an occasional slightly irreverent interlude, along with some fairly serious stuff which will no doubt generate a bit of vigorous discussion! As usual we meet for our pre-session coffee and chat at 6 p.m. in the ground-floor meeting room at Azure Blue, 91 Anzac Ave. Redcliffe. All are very welcome. For further information please give me a call on 0401 513 723.

Shalom, Ian

Note: If you are coming please be sure to call Ian and let him know so you can be given access to the community at Azure Blue.

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An Invitation from the Caloundra Explorers

From John Everall, Mob 0408 624 570 Email: jjverall@bigpond.com

The Caloundra Explorers Group’s Evening Service is coming up and we invite you to add this activity to your diary:

GATHERING     Sunday Evening   20th October 2019   5.30pm.

THEME: SCIENCE AND THEOLOGY

LEADER: Rev. Brian GILBERT

The theme is a fascinating one – I’m sure you will have discussed this at many levels at some stage.  On Sunday evening, we have it presented by an Elton John fan – Rev. Brian Gilbert.

Inspired by his song “Rocket Man”, and adding in a number of people stressing the link between love and justice eg, JP2nd, Crossan, King, Dowdell, Brian develops love without justice is sentimentality, or banal; justice without love is legalism or brutality.” 

He says “ Explorers would be familiar with that. I want to draw a relationship between science and theology – “either without the other can be dangerous, or meaningless.”  “ Just because science can do things (even very well), is it right? – should we do it?.”

Our evening will include music and song and our meditations will draw on thoughts by Michael Morwood and Matthew Fox, the keynote speaker at Common Dreams 2019.

 Enjoy your byo light meal/finger food – relax in discussion around your table – “Science and Theology”.

Everyone is welcome.  We discuss and debate within a safe and non-judgemental environment

Explorers are very mindful in discussion that each of us may have a different personal understanding of G.O.D that underpins our thinking at this stage of our life journey.      So, come along and join in what will hopefully be a very satisfying evening for you among friends, and new friends.    

CONTACT:  Leaders – Brian Gilbert – Mob 0417 002 274  or  John Everall Mob 0408 624 570

WHEN:    Sunday 20th October 2019 at 5.30 pm thru to approx 7.30pm

WHERE:  Caloundra Uniting Church HALL, 56 Queen Street Caloundra.

EMAIL:    jjeverall@bigpond.combmgil@westnet.com.au

Caloundra Explorers Group                                        Faith And the Modern Era

Mars ain’t the  kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it’s cold as hell
And there’s no one there to raise them if you did
And all this science I don’t understand
It’s just my job five days a week
A rocket man, a rocket man

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We want to hear from you

On Wednesday last week, around 40 people met together to share their experiences about church attendance since moving into a “progressive” understanding of Christianity. I put the word progressive in inverted commas for a couple of reasons – that there is no one understanding that we would all ascribe to, and that no one has yet come up with another word to use for those of us who still want to engage with the Jesus story, but within the framework of the 21st century.  

We were a varied group who wanted to share something about why or why not church attendance is part of our practice.

We discovered that we are on a continuum of belief and practice. I did not take notes, but will share a few of my observations that I can recall from people’s stories.

attend church every Sunday … attend occasionally … haven’t been in 30 years… find church services meaningful … finding traditional theology frustrating … finding more meaning in a more ordered liturgy music  is inspirational … not able to sing words of old hymns…have been loved and nurtured by the church (people) … my questions have been rejected … have felt emotionally abused…service is most important … Micah 6:8 was an important verse for a lot of people

Now …. as a follow up … It has been suggested that we could collate people’s thoughts on this topic. If you could write a reflection on this topic thinking about the following questions and send them to me, we will learn more about each other and the variety of pathways we have followed to come to our present understanding of participating in organised religion. Half an A4 page would be manageable for us to collate and share. If you were not at the Explorers meeting, you are still welcome to share your thoughts.

 These are just a few of the questions that were given by Smith and Hunt to the those who were asked to contribute their stories to the book“New Life; Rediscovering Faith – Stories from Progressive Christians.” .

Has this journey affected my church attendance?Has it changed how I express my faith?Is anything different and does this difference influence why I attend or do not attend church?Why did I / didn’t I walk away?

Our nextPCN Explorerswill be on Wednesday 25th September,10 am, Merthyr Road Uniting Church 

Come at 10 for eat, meet and greet and we will get started about10:30.

Several members of the network will share their experience of attending Common Dreams Conference in Sydney last July. We will hear the highlights of the speakers for each person.

Our meeting on Wednesday 30th October will be facilitated by Brian O’Hanlon, retired psychologist, on the topic: A Spiritual approach to Christianity … Understanding the Spiritual Ego:

A summary of the ideas of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin with particular emphasis on ‘we are Spiritual beings!’We are Spiritual beings so, why are we not in the Kingdom, ‘Heaven on Earth’? (The Spiritual Ego what is it?) Turning down the Spiritual Ego.

West End Explorers are trying to get hold of a copy of the video series …The Challenge Of Jesus by John Dominic Crossan. If you can help with this, please contact Kris 0404 645 007 or kris.maslen@gmail.com 

journeying together,

Desley

Desley Garnett
drgarn@bigpond.net.au
0409 498 403

Paul Inglis psinglis@westnet.com.au

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PCNQ Explorers next gathering, all welcome

Hello all

Our nextPCN Explorerswill be on Wednesday 28th August, 10 am, Merthyr Road Uniting Church

Come at 10 for eat, meet and greet and we will get started about 10:30.

Tim O’Dwyer will tell us a bit about his journey within Christianity and would like to ask the question of all of us who are exploring the Jesus story in a new way:

“Do you still go to church? If so, why? If not, why not?”

We would like to encourage you to think about the how and why of your Christian experience and thinking prior to the meeting and feel free to write it down to share with everyone at the meeting. In 2013, John Smith and Rex Hunt published a book called “New Life; Rediscovering Faith – Stories from Progressive Christians.”  that focuses on people’s stories. If you have access to this book it offers some good background thinking. This is not essential to this seminar.

Here are a few questions you might like to ponder before the day. They are just a few of the questions that were given by Smith and Hunt to the those who were asked to contribute their stories to the book.

Has this journey affected my church attendance?Has it changed how I express my faith?Is anything different and does this difference influence why I attend or do not attend church?Why did I / didn’t I walk away?

journeying together,

Desley

Desley Garnett
drgarn@bigpond.net.au
0409 498 403

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Events: Coming soon, you are welcome

Redcliffe (Qld) Explorers

This is a reminder that our Explorers’ Group will meet on Monday evening (5th August).As usual, we’ll gather in the ground floor community room at Azure Blue (91 Anzac Avenue, Redcliffe) at 6 p.m. for tea/coffee, biccies and a chat.

At about 6:30 Graeme Adsett will introduce Rev Dr Noel Davis’ book Effective Beliefs – Towards Individual and Group Harmony – A Challenge to people of Goodwill. Graeme will challenge us to reflect on Noel’s Attitude 3 ‘A Sense of Community’, and Attitude 4 ‘A Minimising of Tribalism’ through individual activity sheets and a general discussion on the concept of ‘Christian Humanism’.

Hoping to see you there, Ian Brown

Caloundra (Qld) EXPLORERS GATHERING     

Sunday  18th August  at 5pm

“CONVINCING WORDS AND CONVERSATION”

Our Sunday Gathering, 5pm -7pm, on 18th August, will be led by Caloundra Explorers

in Conversations championing ‘the power of the written word’ in its ability to ignite a life changing ‘conviction’ within our Christian spiritual journey.

You are invited to join in this special and intimate opportunity to be part of a ‘Conversation’ with other Explorers and our Regional Friends.

We have put a proposition to five of our Explorers and Friends:

“  Have you ever read just a few paragraphs in a book or blog and realised that you had been struck by an absolute awesome ‘insight’ or  ‘truth’, in fact, a “conviction’” that had you saying almost out aloud “that is right!” YES!”

“ Will you share these excerpts with us?”.

The intimacy and security of our Explorers fellowship allows us to fully explore these five situations. Each of our five Explorers will present their excerpt to us, with a personal comment supporting that ‘insight’… ie “the convincing words” that are so important to them.

 We can then discuss, within our Gathering, whether that ‘conviction shared’ has resonance with others as we look through that ‘writing’ and analyse, discuss, and contemplate why it elicited such an enthusiastic YES! from that Explorer.

When our guests’ list of authors includes Dominic Crossan and Richard Rohr, you can see that we are in for a really fascinating evening together.

WHEN:   Sunday Evening  18th August  at 5pm thru to approx 7-15pm.

WHERE:  Caloundra Uniting Church HALL   at  56 Queen Street Caloundra

OTHER INFO:  The Gathering includes a byo light finger food meal as well as a full opportunity to discuss the issues around your table with friends-old and new!

CONTACT:  Anne Hoogendoorn Ph.0419 976 372 or Margaret Landbeck Ph.0402851422 .

 EMAIL:  annehoog@me.com   or jjeverall@bigpond.com

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PCNQ QLD Coming events

Hello friends

Or next PCN Explorers will be on Wednesday 31st July, 10 am, Merthyr Road Uniting Church

Come at 10 for eat, meet and greet and we will get started about 10:30.

Our leader / facilitator will be Bev Floyd on the topic of Secular Christianity, the subject of her latest book not yet published.

Here is a note from Bev about this topic:

Secular Christianity:

This is the simple story of how the ideas of Christianity began in Judea 2000 years ago and then spread across the world. 

It is also an account of how the message has been changed so much even its founder might not recognize it.

It’s a pity it has been treated so badly, because the original message has quite a lot going for it.

Why write such a book?:

   ‘Western Society is floundering. There’s a lack of conviction, of belief, and I think a simpler form of Christianity 

   might be found in the actual words and example of Jesus’.

 Bev Floyd Bio: B.Ed.St., Dip. R.E. Taught in Queensland; Methodist Training College. Spent 12 years in PNG, several years on a mission. 

        Foundation member of Australian Democrats. Lectured at Southbank Tafe. Retired 2003. Writer.

Bev has authored several books, several of which are free e-books on her website. I suggest you check it out.          https://www.bevfloyd.com.au 

Let me flag with you the next 2 meetings: 

28th August: Tim O’Dwyer will lead our thinking and exploring. Tim is interested to discuss how the journey into “Progressive Christianity” has changed your opinion of and relationship with the church. A few questions to ponder before the day will be

Has this journey affected my church attendance?Has it changed how I express my faith?Is anything different and does this difference influence why I attend or do not attend church?Why did I / didn’t I walk away?

More to come about this next month

25th September: Brian O’Hanlon will be our leader – more info about the topic to come.l

journeying together,

Desley Garnett
drgarn@bigpond.net.au
0409 498 403

Desley

Anticipation is building for the Common Dreams Conference in July

Dr Val Webb – theologian and author

I have been reading Matthew Fox’s “Order of the Sacred Earth” in preparation for Common Dreams in July in Sydney. He says:
“The forms of organised religion and education have become frozen and dinosaur like, unable to adapt, too large and waited down with canons and prescriptions of far too many bureaucracies. The result is that the joy of worship and the joy of living out one’s conscience get lost in the maze of rules called religion. Similarly, the joy of learning and the ecstasy that accompanies truth can get equally muffled by the institutionalisation we call education. Both dimensions of life require a simplification, simplification, simplification. Where has all the joy gone?”

The joy of life
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