Ice Breaker Question:
New Year’s Resolutions: Do you make them? If not, why not? If so…Which one’s may bear fruit this year? Which one’s have made the list before? Which one’s are paradoxical to your current lifestyle or beliefs?
Question of the Night:
From his memoir American Drug Addict, Brett Douglas ~ I used drugs to elevate my mood. Gratitude does the same thing. If gratitude was indeed a guaranteed positive mood alterer, everyone would be a user. How can one inject gratitude into one’s stream of life? When gratitude does not deliver the desired effect for you, how do you react? How do you correct your expectations or reactions when gratitude fails to gratify?
Greek philosopher Epicurus (paraphrased) ~ Seeking modest, sustainable pleasure without pain and fear constitutes happiness in its highest form. What words might you insert or append to this declaration to make it more realistic, attainable, or cogent? How successful have you been (would you be) in trying to moderate your pleasure(s)?
William (George) Miller’s prophecies of the Second Coming did not occur as expected in the 1840s, yet a religion, the Bahá’í Faith, holds the attitude that his predictions of 1844 events were accurate (with varying explanations like Miller had the wrong continent, wrong year, and wrong Second Coming). When a belief ignores visible evidence, is it because of the light or dimness?
John Clare (1793 – 1864) was “the greatest laboring-class poet that England has ever produced. However, in midlife, Mr. Clare was committed to an asylum. Dr. Matthew Allen wrote: He has never been able to obtain in conversation, nor even in writing prose, the appearance of sanity for two minutes or two lines together, and yet there is no indication of insanity in any of his poetry. Poetry was John Clare’s conduit to making connection with community. What other paths do complicated, intense, or timid individuals take to soulful expression? Is it expressed in their work? Their compassion? Their effusiveness? Their silence?
Karl Marx is often identified with the condemning quote: Religion is the opiate of the people. To be fair, the entire metaphor reads: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people”. With a clearer and more complete understanding of another’s conflicting beliefs, what happens to your view of that person? With a complete acceptance of a person, what happens to your prejudices toward their behavior?
Very Hairy (You’ll need a sharp razor)
Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses includes an allusion to a possible incident in Islamic teachings where the prophet Muhammad mistook “satanic suggestion” for divine revelation. The effect of publishing this book caused extraordinary international mayhem, seemingly out of proportion to the cause. According to Hume’s razor: “If the cause, assigned for any effect, be not sufficient to produce it, we must either reject that cause, or add to it such qualities as will give it a just proportion to the effect.” What are your thoughts on this particular historical episode or other events (whether personal or historic) where “cause doesn’t balance out effect”?
Optional (You’ll need a strong constitution)
Once upon a time, a young mother, named America, had a precocious child, named Maryland, who’s declaration to her fellow citizens stated: “Profane words concerning the Holy Trinity are punishable by torture, branding, and, at a third offense, death without benefit of clergy.” Young America reprimanded her precocious Maryland with a paddle fashioned from the strong fibers of Article VI of her Constitution and the cohesive threads of her First Amendment. This analogy can be applied to many young nations. What are the signs that a country’s age has weakened the fibers and diluted the threads which, in the nation’s youth, required government by all of its people and tolerance of all of their beliefs?