Welcome

The current installment of the COEC began meeting in 2007.

We are currently on a "break," for no particular reason, and many little reasons - mostly pertaining to life circumstances. If anyone is interested in calling a meeting, feel free to post on the blog, join the google group (see link below) and send an email, or contact either Nancy (nancykj10@yahoo.com) or Jesse (schroeder.jesse@gmail.com) for more information.

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8.04.2008

Next Meeting: August 10th

For our next meeting we will discuss the book of Ecclesiastes (yes, from the Bible!), what is to me one of the coolest and most mysterious books of the Bible. I am looking forward to having an open discussion about the text and to seeing how our very different backgrounds meet upon it. I thought about choosing just some of the book's chapters, but I couldn't do it, so for now let's look at all 10. If anyone feels that this is too large please make your opinion known. As we study it this week I'm sure that each of us will be drawn to particular themes that will help to organize the discussion. Or it might just be a big rambling mess. Ok, so pull out your highlighter, get out your commentaries and those old seminary notes, email your priest, do your word studies, google the word "ecclesiastes;" and oh, don't forget to read the Biblical text and reflect upon it with your own insight. We'll meet at 3:00 pm at the Global Gallery Coffee Shop in German Village, as usual.

12 comments:

Jesse said...

I'm really excited for this conversation! I hope to make it, although there are a few family things happening that day.

Just a pre-discussion reflection question to throw out there: The phrase "This too is meaningless" is repeated often throughout the book. Typically, this phrase is interpreted as meaning the thing it is describing is worldly, not eternal, a waste of time, basically not good (at least that's how I've always thought of it).

Could there be other ways to understand this key phrase of the book?

Again, I'm excited - looking forward to seeing everyone!

Mike said...

I wanted to thank everyone for yesterday afternoon. Whatever it was I drank got me wired, because it kept me up pretty late last night. Anyways, I really enjoyed the discussion we had and everyone's participation in it.

It was a relief to speak to a really thoughtful, passionate group of people about this stuff. Meekness is a quality that I pray God will work more into my character. It was really helpful to be able to share my beliefs with others, while exercising restraint. I wish to consider what others have to say and meditate on it. I thought Nick was especially good at this, and I will try to do the same next time.

I'm looking forward to the next discussion that you planned for. I only suggest that next time we pray and ask God to join us in our discussion. While I may disagree on a lot of issues with you, I still want that meeting to be edifying to each person there. These are pretty controversial topics and we need all the help we can get. Once again, thank you for inviting me into the discussion.

Jane Johnson said...

Mike,

We were so happy to see you yesterday. I appreciate your suggestion about praying before our discussion meetings, and I think we should discuss it as a group. Does anyone have any comments?

Jesse said...

Yeah I think the suggestion to pray before discussions is well put. Prayer helps to create an open atmosphere, invites the guiding presence of the Holy Spirit, and keeps everyone focused on what is really important and deters us from our own pride.

However, I have a natural aversion to doing things out of routine and habit. Most Christian gatherings begin with "a word of prayer," and it is usually a pretty bland, weak and boring prayer (sorry to be critical). It's often more of a formality than anything of spiritual significance. Also, because our discussion meetings especially are open to non-Christians, it might make others feel uncomfortable.

I guess in typical non-committal emergent fashion, I'd say we could pray some of the time if we feel led to do so, but not pray other times. :)

Mike said...

So, just to clarify things, we are meeting on the 24th, correct? The discussion is going to be over the book of Genesis?

I agree with Jesse that prayer should be genuine, not formal. Prayer is something I am not the best at, but I know it is helpful. This is especially true when we discuss topics which are often taken personally. I guess I am just accustomed to beginning a meeting that way, but I understand that it may be an issue to some. I could pray before coming to a meeting, if that is what you wish.

Once again, I look forward to the next meeting. I may bring a few people along.

Nick Johnson said...

Mike - thank you for your kind words and you are of course more than welcome to the next discussion. I think the date you listed is right, but we will post it on the blog beforehand. Since we are a leaderless group sometimes things change.

Regarding the prayer issue, I think Jesse said well the two issues I at least have. First of all, prayer in a Christian group can quickly become like superstition or legalism. I personally believe God is already present in our conversation and we don't always have to invite him. All I know is I have never been in a Christian group that always prayed at a certain time that it ever meant anything beyond a magic formula (no, I do not doubt the power of prayer and yes, I think it is very important, however, when we start feeling guilty about not praying every time we talk about God I think that is a problem).

Secondly, our sessions are open to non-believers and believers alike and we do not want to make our guests feel out of place.

We do once a month, by the way, have a worship time which usually involves a great amount of prayer (sometimes primarily meditative prayer actually), but we always advertise it as such.

All that said, this group does not have a leader so we can bring this to a vote and if people want to do something we are always open. Also, we strive to be led by the spirit, so if anyone ever feels led to prayer we can do so.

Anyway, that is just my thoughts, so anyone should feel free to disagree and comment.

Jesse said...

What sections of Genesis are we going to look at? Sounds good...

Adam Newby said...

Oh boy ... I can hear it now. "Those stupid emergent people don't believe in prayer."

Adam Newby said...

By the way ... I say that jokingly and with a laugh.

Jane Johnson said...

Just to clarify, I think we are only going to look at the creation story in Genesis, not the entire book. At the end of our discussion on Sunday we ended up talking a little bit about it and there seemed to be a lot to say. Nancy is going to lead up this discussion, so there will eventually be an official post about this.

I suppose I'll throw in my two cents about the prayer issue as well. Like most things, it's such a tricky issue. I also agree that we don't want to make people who don't follow Jesus feel unwelcome. I think sometimes when a person comes to an event and it begins with prayer, he/she can get the impression that everyone believes the same thing except for them, or that certain things now can't be said because the event has been declared "Christian." On the other hand, prayer is a powerful thing, and there are surely times when it is good to pray even though it might create an in-group/out-group sentiment. Ultimately we have to trust that God is powerful and compassionate enough to overcome both a lack of prayer and the alienation prayer might cause for some.

I think the bigger issue is why we pray. These kinds of prayers, that is prayers given before an event begins as a way to ask for blessing, are really for our benefit, in my opinion. I agree with Nick that God is going to be present if he wants to be present. The Holy Spirit isn't going to leave me because I forgot to ask him to stick around. When we ask God to "be with us" during an intelletual event I think this is really a way for us to focus our own minds and to remind ourselves to listen to God, who will be speaking regardless. I know that before every meeting I try to prepare myself mentally, so I don't think this kind of prayer would do much for me. But maybe someone has to rush to our meetings from something stressful or worldly and he/she needs those few moments of prayer to focus.

Maybe to solve this problem we could start each discussion with a moment of silence. That way people who feel the need to align their mind with the Spirit can do so, while others can just sit there and be patient if they want.

Mike said...

I agree with Jane. Prayer before a meeting helps you focus on God instead of the circumstances you're in at the moment. It has been my experience that after praying, it helps me drown out a lot of the other thoughts that are floating around in my head. Another thing, I don't think any of you are stupid. I know Adam meant it as a joke, but that is certainly not at all the impression that I received so far.

Thanks Jane for clarifying the topic of the meeting for next time. I have been reading up on a lot of stuff lately, and I think the discussion is going to be really interesting. Oh, I forgot that I am on my lunch break. Talk you guys later.

Jesse said...

I mentioned this blog post tonight on myth - it's message is a little different than what I thought, but still somewhat applicable to a discussion on Genesis 1 and 2

http://arbevere.blogspot.com/2008/08/cs-lewis-1-myth-of-myth-as-myth.html