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.

Next Sunday’s Discussion

"The Psychological Roots of Terrorism" by Dr. Sophia Pandya

Date & Time:Sunday, January 28, 2018 - 8:30am

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"The Psychological Roots of Terrorism" by Dr. Sophia Pandya

Date & Time: Sunday, January 28, 2018 - 8:30am

On January 28th our topic will be “The Psychological Roots of Terrorism”, presented by Dr. Sophia Pandya.   What motivates people to commit terrorist acts ?   Especially acts in which they intentionally commit suicide ?  How can their thinking be changed ?  Dr. Pandya, a professor of religious studies at CSULB, has spent much time in the Middle East (Yemen, Bahrain, and Turkey) analyzing the sources of their conflicts, and is the author of “Muslim Women and Islamic Resurgence”.  Join us at 8:30 AM in the Assembly Hall.  All ages are welcome.


ADG: "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.

ADG: "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.

"Alexander von Humboldt" by Rev. Ignacio Castuera

Our topic on January 7 will be “Alexander von Humboldt” who some people call the father of environmentalism and who was probably the world’s pre-eminent naturalist prior to Charles Darwin (who came 30 years later).  During Humboldt’s 5-year visit and scientific study of Latin America’s natural environment, he saw the adverse impact (exploitation) of colonial cash crop cultivation, washing away top soil and changing a then mostly virgin and pristine landscape into barren land.  Our speaker will be Rev. Ignacio Castuera, who was born in Puebla, Mexico, holds a Doctor of Religion degree from Claremont School of Theology, and has been a pastor, a psychological counselor at UCLA, National Chaplain for Planned Parenthood, professor, and environmental activist.  We begin at 8:30 AM in the Assembly Hall.  All ages are welcome.

Adult Discussion Group: An Overview of Christianity's First Thousand Years

On December 24th our topic will be “An Overview of Christianity’s First Thousand Years” and will feature a History Channel DVD.  Starting immediately after Jesus’ crucifixion, the topics covered include the many varieties of Christianity that initially emerged, the conversion of Emperor Constantine, the Council of Nicea, St. Augustine, St. Patrick and the Irish monks, Byzantium, the rise of Islam and its affect on Christianity, and Pope Leo and Charlemagne.  The following Sunday (December 31st) we will cover the second thousand years of Christianity.  We begin at 8:30 AM in the Assembly Hall.  All ages are welcome.

Adult Discussion Group: Connecting Locally with Other Faiths

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.

Adult Discussion Group "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.

Adult Discussion Group: "Russian Interference in Our 2016 Election" by Alden Munson

Based upon his 40 plus years experience in the defense and intelligence community and his participation in policy making in Washington D.C., Alden provides an unclassified discussion about Russia’s efforts to damage the presidential campaign effort of Hillary Clinton.  He explains Russia’s historical perspective and its strategy toward the western powers, including current attempts to influence their election outcomes.  He discusses the impact of social media upon recent elections, and the need for guidelines to protect the voting public, similar to those that have existed for decades for newspapers.  He shows that the tactics of persuasion used by Russians were very similar to those used in product advertising by American corporations.

Adult Discussion Group - Non-Violence in Speech and Action

Rev. Jim Burklo concludes his 2-part series on biblical teachings dealing with resisting anti-democratic forces in our society.  He discusses having a commitment to telling the truth (rather than “fake news”).  He continues to urge us to support our traditional institutions that promote and protect our democratic values. He highlights several of the key points of the new book, upon which this presentation (and his new class at USC) is based, “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the 20th Century” by Timothy Snyder.

Nov 19:  Non-Violence in Speech and Action:  Ephesians 4; 25-32, Philippians 2: 5-8.  How can we speak and act faithfully and humbly in the rough-and-tumble world of political rhetoric and action today?

Link to the study:

Adult Discussion Group - "Resistance Bible Study" by Rev. Jim Burklo

After opening with a 1-minute silent prayer to protect our country and government, Rev. Jim Burklo discusses the past 10 months of political chaos and threats to our constitution and  democratic values.  He urges us to support our traditional institutions that promote and protect our democratic values.  He then summarizes the key points of  a new course he is teaching at USC, titled  “Resistance Bible Study”.  This USC class teaches ways to protect our democratic values and is based upon the book, “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the 20th Century” by Timothy Snyder.

Rev. Jim Burklo, Senior Associate Dean of Religious Life at USC, has created a “Resistance Bible Study” that is being used in a number of churches around the country – finding inspiration in the scripture for the defense of American democracy in a time when it is seriously threatened.  He will lead us in a two-session version of it on Nov 12 and 19. To prepare for the study, participants are urged to read this new, short book:  “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century” by Timothy Snyder.

Nov 12:  The Danger of Tyranny:  I Samuel 8-12.  How does the speech of Samuel relate to the current threat to American democracy? 

Link to the study:

ADG: "Muslim Women Caught Up In Middle East Turmoil"


CSULB’s Dr. Sophia Pandya discusses the impact upon women of the political chaos in Yemen, Bahrain, and Turkey since the 2011 “Arab Spring”.  Women are particularly vulnerable during political conflict, especially in patriarchal societies such as these.  They are witnessing violence, sexual abuse, displacement, poverty, unemployment, disruption of education, and mental illness.  Regardless, many Muslim women are engaged in public activism, transforming, at least for now, family and social dynamics in highly patriarchal countries.

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