“Striving for transformation in a personal sense requires unflinching honesty about our own thinking, and a willingness to change our mind.” (Tara Swart)
Human transformation and growth are common themes in the Gospels. New Testament conversion narratives tell of people who changed their lives as a result of encountering Jesus or the message of the gospel. Many are familiar with Apostle Paul’s famous statement in Romans 12:2 (KJV) : “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Stories such as the one of Paul’s life and conversion give us hints as to how and why a person may change. However, there can be a tension between, on the one hand, our trusting our subjective interpretation of the meaning of our experiences and, on the other hand, our understanding of God’s will for our lives. There is also the risk of assuming that undergoing change is a passive event, as if we are merely acted upon by God.
Change is a constant, inevitable, life-long process and path. Change can be dramatic, and difficult for us to undergo. Or it can be subtle, and difficult for us to detect. Patterns of thinking and acting may be reinforced, causing us to think that we have remained the same. To register and understand our transformation, we may need to explore the relationship between body and mind, between acting, feeling, and thinking. Accordingly, contemporary preaching and religious teaching often portray healing and prosperity as attributes of a person living a changed and faithful life.
In this course we will, in a confidential setting, reflect theologically, think personally, and listen to one another deeply by using our own experiences, as well as short stories and theories, on why and how we may or may not change, and how that influences and contributes to our sense of being spiritual persons, and how we act in the world. We will review the tools that increase our awareness of change and transformation and consider how to use these tools to enrich our understanding of our own lives and our faith. Here are some of the questions that will guide our inquiry:
What is meant by “transformation”?
What is the relationship between transformation and conversion?
How do we know that what we have experienced has changed us?
How has our understanding of faith and what it means to live a faithful life changed over the years?
How is our awareness of change affecting our religious faith and how we are living today?
Participants are encouraged to read in preparation for the course the ninth chapter of the Book of Acts (Saul’s conversion), and the following two attachments: