Adult Discussion Group


Enlightening dialogue

Join us for a lively, in-depth, single-topic, 70-minute discussion, typically featuring a knowledgeable authority. Share your views during the Q&A period. 8:30 AM every Sunday in the Assembly Hall.


The Beliefs of Islam by Pacific Institute

Date & Time: Sunday, June 17, 2018 - 8:30am

A panel of Turkish Muslims from Pacifica Institute will share their beliefs and answer questions about the Hizmet movement (branch of Islam) on Sunday, June 17. Who is Fetullah Gulen, the Founder of this movement?  What are his primary beliefs?  How do his teachings differ from those in other branches of Islam?  What attracted you to this particular form of Islam?  Many of you in the congregation have already met some of these people through various social events which we have co-sponsored with them and now we have an opportunity to explore their beliefs in greater depth.  Other panelists will talk about their recent immigration experiences leaving Turkey and coming to the U.S.  We hope to see you at 8:30 in the Assembly Hall, and all are invited.

RECORDINGS OF PAST DISCUSSIONS (additional recordings here)

10 Jun 18 "Religions from India - Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, & Sikh" (2 of 2) By: Rev. Nancy Brink

In this second of two presentations, Rev. Nancy Brink discusses the cremation ceremony in India, then Sikhism, and its Golden Temple. She shows a 37-minute video describing the massive community meals that Sikhs feed to about 60,000 people per day free of charge.

3 Jun 18: "Religions From India - Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, & Sikh" (1 of 2)

In this first of two presentations, Rev. Nancy Drink of Chapman Univ explains three of the four religions that originated in India – – Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism.  She explains the history of each and compares each to the other religions of India.  She shows photos taken during student trips that she led to religious sites in India.

20 May 18: "Evolving Brains, Emerging Gods: Early Humans & the Origins of Religion" by Marilyn Anderson

The Book “Evolving Brains, Emerging Gods: Early Humans & the Origins of Religion” by Fuller Torrey is reviewed by Marilyn Anderson. Torrey shows that after the last ice age, humans in separate, isolated parts of the world, struggling to understand death, came to believe in surprisingly similar gods in spite of their dissimilar cultures. Using cutting edge research, Torrey proposes a startling explanation to the question of evolution’s role in humans’ understanding of God.

13 May 18: "Mothers and Motherhood" by Anne Marie Saunders

On May 13th Anne Marie Saunders led a discussion in which participants shared their experiences with mothering, including memories of their own mother, or their being a mother, or observations of other mothers who were central to their life. We heard many diverse stories – – some funny, some sad, and some inspirational.

6 May 18: "Getting to Know Rev. Matthew Baugh" (Interview by Tony West)

Tony West interviews our new associate minister, Rev. Matthew Baugh, to explore Matthew’s personal background, his decision to pursue the ministry, his career in ministry, his hobbies and interests, and his initial impressions of MBCC.

29 April 18: "Performing Biblical Archeological Excavations in Israel" by Dr. Julye Bidmead

Each summer our speaker, Dr. Julye Bidmead, leads a team of student archeologists from Chapman University to Israel to participate in excavations of ancient biblical sites. If you are curious about life in the biblical world, this presentation should be helpful. Dr. Bidmead discusses the latest findings and what we have learned about the daily lives of these ancient biblical people, especially their domestic lives.

22 April 18: "Sufism: Its Beliefs, and Its Music and Dance" by Dr. Sophia Pandya

CSULB’s Dr. Sophia Pandya, who joined the Sufi branch of Islam in her mid-twenties, returns to ADG to discuss Sufism, including its core beliefs, its mysticism, its poetry, and its dance, especially its whirling dervish. She speaks Arabic and has travelled much in the middle east, including staying in Sufi communities and exploring their culture and beliefs.

15Apr18: "Guide Dogs for the Blind" by Karen Hirsh

With the help of four guide dogs and their trainers, Karen Hirsh explains to our ADG group how puppies are trained at an early age to be guide dogs for the blind and visually impaired.  After 15 or 16 months of training here in the South Bay and elsewhere, the dogs are moved to a facility where their guide dog skills are accessed.  Depending upon the results, the dogs are then assigned to a blind person or are given some other role.

25 Mar 18: "Wendell Berry: Critic of American Culture" by Pat Beiting

Pat Beiting begins by reflecting upon the dramatic economic and social changes over the last seven decades in Kentucky, where both she and the novelist and poet, Wendell Berry, grew up. Automation and cheap foreign labor has caused a huge loss of jobs, and as a result, most small towns have declined or disappeared in Kentucky and surrounding states. Pat then discusses Berry’s critique of our evolving American culture. Berry’s concerns include the decline in small family farms and growth of large agribusinesses, mountain top removal (to mine for coal), thoughtless loss of rich top soil, increased use of chemicals for agriculture and livestock, contamination of our rivers and water supplies, and America’s frequent involvement in foreign wars.

18 Mar 18: "Mueller's Indictment of Russian Cyber Organizations" by Alden Munson

The latest government findings about Russia’s attempts to influence our 2016 elections are discussed by Alden Munson, who is a longtime member of the U.S. intelligence community.  Specifically he highlights the key findings of the following three documents:

  • Assessment of Russian Activities & Intentions (by the Dir. of National Intelligence)
  • Worldwide Threats Briefing to U.S. Senate Intel Comm., and
  • Mueller’s Indictment of Russian Cyber Organizations.

11 Mar 18: "The Refugee Crisis in the Middle East" by Harley Emery

Harley Emery, granddaughter of Charlie and Sally Stowe, discussed the refugee crisis in the Middle East.  She described the living conditions in the refugee camps that she visited recently, noting that the average time spent living in these camps is 17 years. She describes the employment restrictions and the reduced access to education imposed upon the refugees.  She discusses grass roots efforts in America to help the refugees.

4 Mar 18: "Spiritual Practices" (Marcus Borg) by Rich Sundeen

This recording has four sections:

  • Minutes 0:00 thru 2:50: Intro by Rich Sundeen
  • Minutes 2:51 thru 19:19:  (Not discernible: skip over this section)
  • Minutes 19:20 thru 20:59:  Intro to Marcus Borg DVD by Rich Sundeen
  • Minutes 21:00 thru 46:00:  Audio recording of Marcus Borg’s group discussion about Christian practices.

25 Feb 18: "Social Justice Here Locally" by Ron and Sheila Troupe

Ron and Sheila Troupe and Ron’s two sisters give a non-white perspective of our social justice system from their vantage point of growing up in Southern California. Their lifetime of experiences dealing with intolerance and the vestiges of racism is quite different from the experiences of many of us. Be prepared to hear a different perspective.

4 Feb 18, 11 Feb 18, & 18 Feb 18: "Founding Fathers' Views On Church/State Separation" (not recorded)

(3-part series about Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, and Adams’ concepts of church/state separation by Gary Hartzell)

28 Jan 18: "The Psychological Roots of Terrorism" by Dr. Sophia Pandya

Dr. Pandya discusses a variety of motives driving young people (mostly teenage boys) to join terrorist groups, and she gives many examples.  Most of these recruits are searching, in one way or another, for meaning in their lives.  Many of them do not understand the teachings of their religion and come from somewhat dysfunctional families.

21 Jan 18: "Courageous Conversations Intro" by Rev. Allen Hilton

Allen introduces his concept of “Courageous Conversations” in which potentially divisive church issues are dealt with by church members in a respectful way that maximizes the prospects of honest and amiable sharing of divergent perspectives and of finding common ground.  Allen continued this discussion later after our 10 AM church service (not recorded).

14 Jan 18: "Wally's Sabbatical" by Wally Hoeger

Wally discusses how her sabbatical last summer, including its hospice training, has broadened her religious skill set and added to her pastoral development.  She learned how the methods for treating people in hospice care often can be quit different from those for people in normal medical care.  Wally shares some to the hospice situations that she was dealing with for the very first time, and how this experience has changed her.

7 Jan 18: "Alexander von Humboldt" by Rev. Ignacio Castuera

Rev. Ignacio Castuera discusses the enormous impact that Alexander von Humboldt made two centuries ago by exposing the consequences of European plundering of Latin America’s virgin natural resources.  Humboldt was the first person to scientifically and methodically study the impact of this European exploitation of the “new world’s” pristine environment.  As Humboldt’s efforts began to threaten the profits of these European enterprises, they fought back to limit his impact and to erase him from our history books, as Ignacio explains.

17 Dec 17: "Connecting Locally with Other Faiths" (So. Coast Interfaith Council)

Dr. Rini Ghosh, a Hindu, and Jim Greer, a Mormon, discuss the role that the South Coast Interfaith Council (SCIC) plays in:
  • educating the public about the many religions that are active in southern L.A. county,
  • improving communication among these religious groups, and
  • performing volunteer efforts to address major social needs in our local area.
Two 6-minute videos were shown as part of this presentation, and since this audio recording can not effectively capture the video message, you may want to skip over these two segments.  The first video starts at 2:58 and runs until 9:18.  The second video starts at 14:41 and runs until 21:22.

10 Dec 17: "Keeping Homeless Families Together ("Family Promise")" by Nick Rasmussen

The niche role that the Family Promise organization plays in helping homeless families in the South Bay is explained by its executive director, Nick Rasmussen.  Nick talks about the criteria for selecting the families to be helped and the role that churches play in providing this help.  FP stresses keeping these children in their original schools (which FP provides transportation to).  FP nurtures job searching efforts of these parents, and maintains an atmosphere of dignity, respect, and hope for all members of these families.

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