Posts By The Big Questions Forum

Big Question: Can I be honest with you?

By , Published on January 18, 2018
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In keeping with this month’s theme at First Parish, Right Relationships, let’s start by acknowledging that relationships can be complex, so getting them “right” can be difficult. Compounding the challenge is the fact that we each have many kinds of relationships and no two are the same.

In the face of such complex and indeterminate forces, it’s not surprising when we approach relational interactions with more protective personas, pre-conceived posturing or perfunctory patter.

Open, honest and direct communication can be fraught, even perilous. If I tell you what I really think and believe, will it jeopardize our relationship? If you are forthright with me, can I really hear your sentiment without being defensive or reactive?

Being forthright feels risky because it could change the relationship – for better or for worse. And change is risky. So it often seems like we must choose between honesty and the relationship (in its current form). When one impinges on the other, can that still be a right relationship?

Because of the inherent risk, these interactions are sometimes referred to as courageous conversations.

The dynamic goes beyond our close relationships. Within our professional and/or public relationships, there can be other forms of risk and impediments to forthrightness.

And yet these days we may feel increasingly called to take that risk, to be courageous, to speak out in public on behalf of ourselves or someone else. There are occasions when our silence is a form of complicity in a relationship that is far from right.

In this month’s Big Question Forum we’ll talk (openly and honestly) about the challenges, impediments and imperatives related to forthright communication – at home, in our community, at work, and in the more public sphere.

We hope you can join us next Tuesday, January 23rd at 7:30 in the parlor. 

Big Questions Forum: How Do You Live With Uncertainty?

By , Published on October 19, 2017
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These are uncertain times.

Perhaps times have always been uncertain: it’s the nature of being human. We want order, security, control and certainty. How else can we live a rational, orderly life?

Yet in spite of all our progress, are these times not ever more uncertain?

  • Perhaps the stakes are higher.
  • Perhaps we are more hyper-aware of the turbulence of these times.
  • Perhaps now, daily, we are confronted with the fragility of our shared environment.
  • Perhaps this uncertainty brings out greater certainty in others, hardening them to the vulnerability required for relationships of depth

Uncertainty can be described as “A state of having limited knowledge where it is impossible to exactly describe the existing state or future outcome.” And yet, is not uncertainty a prelude to some kind of faith and more authentic living? Does not an over-developed sense of certainty lead to smug indifference?

To thinking people from investors to actuaries, uncertainty is associated with risk. And living in a risky environment creates stress. Life on the edge of a precipice feels precarious.

Yes, these are uncertain times. So in this first Big Question Forum of the year, in the face of this endemic and widespread uncertainty, we’ll ask:

  • How are you doing?
  • What is your direct and visceral experience of uncertainty?
  • Are you burdened by uncertainty, or buoyed by the exhilarating creativity of an undetermined future?
  • What strategies do you use, tacitly or explicitly, to address uncertainty?
  • How has the perceived increase in uncertainty changed you?

The Big Question Forum meets on the 4th Tuesday of most months during the year. This session will take place next Tuesday, Oct. 24rd, at 7:30 in the Parlor.

We hope to see you there!

Big Questions Forum: Why Does Art Move Us?

By , Published on March 23, 2017
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Tuesday, March 28 at 7:30pm in the Parlor

“You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.”

― George Bernard Shaw

“Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart..”

― Pablo Casals

“Art and life are subjective. Not everybody’s gonna dig what I dig, but I reserve the right to dig it.”

― Whoopi Goldberg

What is it about art that has the ability to move us is so many different ways?  Whether we are creators of art, performers of it or consumers of it, art has an important role in our lives.

We experience art in different ways in different times.  Sometimes we are overwhelmed by it, sometimes we are made to think of our place in the universe, sometimes we just want to escape into it.

Art at times seems to have a direct pathway to our inner self.  Have you ever been to a museum or concert where the art is speaking directly to your soul.  For some of us, art is where we get our sense of spirituality.

Our next Big Questions Forum will address how art moves us.  We will discuss what art means to us and our experiences with it.

We hope to see you Tuesday.

BQF December: Crisis or Opportunity?

By , Published on December 7, 2016
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chinese-charactersThe Chinese word for crisis is commonly thought to be formed by combining the ideograms for danger and opportunity. This appears to be, at best, an over-simplification – rather than “opportunity”, the second symbol apparently connotes something closer to “critical point”.

But the trope seems relevant today at what many consider a critical point in the American journey. The aftermath of the election of 2016 feels like a precarious moment that could be both fraught with danger and, perhaps, rife with opportunity.

There are indeed big questions that confront anyone who aspires to be woke in 2017. So for the second straight month, the Big Question Forum will continue to enable the questions that emerge from this time of crisis.

On Tuesday December 13th the BQF will dwell on two big questions related to the assumed crisis:

  • How worried do I have to be?
  • What can I be doing about it?

As always, we hope to make this personal: in considering the dangers, what worries you specifically? The second half of each discussion will address the opportunity: in what ways can this time of crisis give rise to positive developments? And how specifically will you respond – in thought, word and/or action – to these “opportunities”?

We look forward to the continued conversation and hope you can join us. Tuesday Dec 13th at 7:30 in the Parlor.

Big Questions Forum: Where Do We Go From Here?

By , Published on November 4, 2016
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By the time the next Big Questions Forum rolls around on Tuesday November 15th, the pugnacious election campaign of 2016 will have concluded – at least in terms of the voting. We can but hope that there will be a measure of closure and acceptance by then, so we can begin to wonder: emerging from the fractious political battles we’ve witnessed and endured, where do we go from here? Continue reading…

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