Spiritual Exploration Fall 2017


Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance

Mondays Oct. 2, 9 and 16; 1:00–2:00 p.m., Fireside Room
Bill Davini and Paula Northwood, facilitators. Free; register here.

Bill Davini writes, “Hillbilly Elegy was a deeply moving and disturbing personal experience for me in which I was challenged by the limits of my compassion. My reaction to this book was one of anger and rejection—which makes it a fertile ground for contemplation. In my darkest moments with this book, I asked questions such as: What are we to make of people who are born with privilege and who throw away their gifts in perverse and cavalier ways? What do we owe to people who don’t take responsibility for themselves and yet see themselves as victims? Are men who are not able to get the same jobs that were done by their fathers and grandfathers owed a guarantee by society? What does it mean to respect such people and how do we bring ourselves into dialogue with their opinions, and what do we do when they seem ready to follow demagogues who pander to their fears?”

The above reactions are inconsistent with the way Bill understands Christianity and with the way he would wish to view himself. Join Paula Northwood and Bill as they grapple to understand these and other issues that surfaced in reading this book.

Bill Davini is a retired IT professional and longtime member of Plymouth Church. In both of these capacities, Bill has facilitated groups and discussions. Bill looks forward to hearing and sharing reactions with others, particularly those who have differing opinions of the people in this book!

Paula Northwood, Minister for Spiritual Formation at Plymouth Church, grew up in Ohio not too far from the home of the author.

Four Traditions, One Spirit by Chet Myers
Tuesdays Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31; 10:30 a.m.–noon, Fireside Room
Chet Myers and Paula Northwood. Free; register here.

Chet Myers’s book Four Traditions One Spirit is a spiritual reflection that contemplates the human condition and our longings from four spiritual and mystical traditions: Jewish, Christian, Sufi and Lakota. This six-week study will examine commonalities from these spiritual traditions. Each session will include brief writing exercises and worship rituals. If you have been curious about what values are shared by different religious traditions and what values shape your life, these sessions are for you. Or if you have been feeling despair over the currents affairs of the world, this book will give you hope for humanity.

Chet Myers, M.Div. (Yale), retired professor and member of the St. Stephen’s Catholic Community, has taught and led workshops on issues of philosophy and spirituality.

The book Four Traditions One Spirit can be purchased at the first session ($15) and the proceeds go to Lift Garage, a nonprofit car repair garage in south Minneapolis for people in need.

Paula Northwood is Minister for Spiritual Formation at Plymouth Church.

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson
Wednesdays Oct. 4, 11, 18 and 25; 5:45–6:45 p.m., Room 207
Seth Patterson. Free; register here.

Tears We Cannot Stop is a fiery sermon and an unabashedly emotional, personal appeal. “What I need to say” to white America, Dyson writes, can only be said in “a plea, a cry, a sermon, from my heart to yours.”

This four-week study will convict, inspire and challenge white readers. This book is a provocative and deeply personal call for change. Dyson argues that if we are to make real racial progress we must face difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has been ignored, dismissed or discounted. Dyson writes: “the time is at hand for reckoning with the past, recognizing the truth of the present, and moving together to redeem the nation for our future. If we don’t act now, if you don’t address race immediately, there very well may be no future.”

Seth Patterson, Director of Children and Youth Ministries, is intrigued by the ways in which we attempt to listen to “the other” in our lives and how discomfort can sometimes suggest growth. His M.Div. thesis at the University of Chicago was entitled Dismantling White Supremacy: A Prophetic Approach.

Bible Study: The Book of Esther
Thursdays Oct. 26 and Nov. 2, 9 and 16; 10:30 a.m.–noon; Fireside Room; Mary Kay Sauter, facilitator. Free; register here.

Did you know that Esther is mentioned more times in the Bible than any other woman? Did you know that the book bearing her name in the Old Testament does not mention God even once? The book of Esther tells a compelling story, dramatic and exciting. It reads like a movie plot, with a beautiful queen risking her life to prevent genocide. It also reveals deep and abiding spiritual truths about God’s power to deliver us from danger and oppression, even when despotic rulers plan to do evil to God’s people. What lessons can we learn today from studying the book about this very remarkable woman?

Mary Kay Sauter is a retired UCC pastor and Plymouth member who lives in Maple Grove.

Healing the Heart of Democracy by Parker Palmer
Mondays Oct. 30 and Nov. 6, 13 and 20; mornings 10:30 a.m.–noon, or evenings 7:00–8:30 p.m., Fireside Room
Paula Northwood, facilitator. Free; register here.

“For those of us who want to see democracy survive and thrive—and we are legion—the heart is where everything begins: that grounded place in each of us where we can overcome fear, rediscover that we are members of one another, and embrace the conflicts that threaten democracy as openings to new life for our nation.” (from the preface)

Join this four-week study of Palmer’s seminal work on the “habits of the heart” we need to revitalize our politics, hold the tensions of our differences and restore a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.” Using the guidelines of conversation circles, we will create safe space where everyone’s voice will be heard and deep dialogue encouraged.

Paula Northwood is Minister for Spiritual Formation at Plymouth Church.

Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most by Marcus J. Borg
Tuesdays Nov. 14, 21, 28 and Dec. 5; 10:30 a.m.–noon, Fireside Room
Paula Northwood, facilitator. Free; register here.

The late Marcus J. Borg, preeminent theologian and Bible scholar, reflected on his life and how he developed his most bedrock convictions and why they matter. The result is a manifesto for all progressive Christians who seek a path for following Jesus today. With each chapter embodying a distinct conviction, Borg writes provocatively and compellingly on the beliefs that can deeply ground us and guide us:

  • God Is Real and a Mystery
  • Salvation Is More About This Life Than an Afterlife
  • The Bible Can Be True Without Being Literally True
  • Jesus’ Death on the Cross Matters—But Not Because He Paid for Our Sins
  • God Is Passionate About Justice and the Poor
  • To Love God Is to Love Like God

Participants will have an opportunity to reflect on their convictions and why they matter. Join us for thought-provoking discussions and reflection. This could be similar to an adult confirmation class!

Paula Northwood is Minister for Spiritual Formation at Plymouth Church.


ENNEAGRAM RELATIONSHIP INTENSIVE: Creating More Conscious Relationships
Mondays October 2, 9, 16 and 23; 7:00–9:00 p.m., Room 205; $60 for four sessions; limited to 30; register here.
Anne Mureé, presenter

For individuals or couples who want to deepen your capacity for love, enjoyment and balance in your relationship with yourself and your loved ones.

You will learn how self-awareness and precise strategies and practices can enhance and revitalize your relationships.

Classes will include new information, skill-building practice, support and much laughter.

At each class you will:

  • Learn and practice one new conscious communication skill
  • Gain awareness of your Enneagram type relationship strengths and blind spots
  • Practice making daily choices from your authentic knowing, instead of your Enneagram type habit
  • Learn how to open yourself to give and receive more love in all your relationships
  • Learn how to allow more pleasure, creativity and support in your life

These classes are open to everyone. If you are not sure of your Enneagram type or are new to the Enneagram, please email Anne Mureé (amuree@q.com) to set up a complimentary half-hour telephone conversation before the first class. Anne Mureé is a transformational and spiritual coach and master Enneagram educator. She has been facilitating adult groups for 30 years. Anne has studied and used the Enneagram in her work for 20 years. She is certified to teach the Enneagram by Palmer/Daniels and Riso/Hudson. Anne has also studied with Claudio Naranjo. She founded the Minnesota IEA Chapter and served on the board of the International Enneagram Association. She teaches a six-day Enneagram Certification each year for people who want to use the Enneagram professionally.

From Staying Safe to Being Brave: Practices for Self-Empowerment
Saturday, Oct. 14, 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., Fireside Room; $85 for individuals, $160 for couples; limited to 35; register here.
Yvette Erasmus, PsyD., LP

The secret to change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”  —Socrates

Join us to learn new communication and relationship tools for personal change that lead into transformative social change. Build on your own personal skills to become even more courageous and open-hearted.

Yvette Erasmus has experience teaching Compassionate Communication at the Aslan Institute and leading children, parents, teachers, and prison inmates to a more spiritual-centered communication model.


Conversations from the Heart Compassionate Communication Practice Group meets at 10 a.m., Wednesdays, weekly. $10–$25 donation suggested. No registration. “Nonviolent/compassionate communication helped me learn to sit with difficult emotions, to approach myself and others with compassion and understanding, and to connect to the human needs underlying all human actions,” says teacher Yvette Erasmus, Psy.D. All levels welcome.

Contemplative Life
First Tuesday of the month, beginning Oct. 3, 7:00–8:15 p.m., Room 205
Diane Boruff and Paula Northwood. Free; register here.

Strengthen your spiritual muscles by practicing Centering Prayer with the support of a caring group. Beginners and those with an established meditation practice are welcome! We will be using The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo as our resource for reflection. This can be purchased at your local book store.

Diane Boruff is commissioned by Contemplative Outreach International.

Meditation, Sundays, 9:15 a.m.,. Fireside Room. No charge. No registration. Join this ancient Christian spiritual practice, which includes three parts: opening meditation, walking meditation and closing meditation. Leader Diane Boruff is commissioned by Contemplative Outreach International.

Spiritual Yoga, Ben Lee. Wednesdays (except holidays), 6:45–8:00 p.m.; One Groveland; $10. No registration.

Have you ever wanted to touch your toes? Do you often feel tension in your neck or shoulders? Ever wonder what yoga is all about? This fun and exciting class will leave you feeling stronger, calmer and more flexible. Ben Lee has been studying and practicing yoga since 1994 and teaching since 2001.