Love for the Future: Three Courses
There are three ways of following the course Love for the Future:
(a) Working alone with the book Love for the Future: a Journey
(b) in a discussion group – reading the book Love for the Future: a Journey and talking about it, a chapter or two at a time;
(c) in an exploration group – working through the Exploration Group course materials together.
Choose the method that suits you best.
(a) Working Alone
Get the book as a download or hard copy. The true story of a pilgrimage to Iona gives rise to reflections about the world and about the kind of character we need to develop for living in a time of ecological crisis.
At the end of each chapter there is a short story about an iconic person of the past, suggestions for reflection or group discussion, some Bible passages which are relevant to the theme, recommended action and further reading.
You can read the pilgrimage story straight through and leave out the rest, possibly returning to it later, or work your way through it steadily, perhaps a chapter and theme a week. The resource material is like a restaurant menu. Pick and choose what you want to do, and what suits you at this point in time.
The course gives things to do which can help open you up to developing what the author believes we need in order to live with love for the world in a time of crisis: wonder, humility, simplicity, community, compassion, active justice, change, faith, fellowship, hope, wisdom and love.
It is like working in a gym or practising music. The benefit comes slowly. And you can’t try to do everything at once. You do what you can considering your own opportunities, abilities and interests. In time, with practice, change happens.
(b) a Discussion Group
Find or form a small group to work through the book together. You might like to read the whole book first then discuss it, like any other book group. But you can get more by reading through it slowly and discussing the issues that arise, using the suggestions at the end of each chapter.
Your venue might be a cafe, a pub, someone’s home or a church room. If you are reading two chapters at a time you’ll need eight sessions.
1. Before the first session read the introduction.
2. In the first session work out who’s going to join in, where you’ll meet, and talk about the introduction to the book:
– Why are you interested in reading and discussing the book?
– What was there in the introduction that you could identify with?
– What, for you, causes the most anxiety about the future?
– Have you made any journeys which have affected how you see, think or feel about things?
3. In following sessions either take one chapter at a time or two.
If you are using two chapters at a time, chapters 1 & 2, 3 & 4, 5 & 6, 7 & 8, 9 & 10, and 11 & 12 go together well.
At the end of each chapter there are:
- questions for personal reflection or for a group to discuss,
- references to relevant Bible passages together with brief notes about the theme of the passage or its context,
- some suggestions of things for people to do following the session,
- suggested further reading.
4. At the end of the course have a final session. We suggest that you have a meal together, discuss the Conclusion of the book and decide where you go from there.
Each person may wish to think beforehand about the following questions and share their answer with the rest of the group:
- What have you got from the course?
- Are there any ways that the course has affected how you see, think or feel about your life and the world we are part of?
- Are there any forms of spiritual practice that the course has introduced you to which you are going to continue to do after the course is finished?
- Are there any particular things that you are going to follow up: finding out more? Joining with other people? Or, taking action about?
(c) an Exploration Group
As an exploration group you will discuss the themes of Love for the Future but you will also be doing things together. This course, like the book, is for people who care about the earth and are looking for energy, vision and support.
The programme might take you outside but the activities are not kinds of environmental action. The course assumes that people taking part are also involved in work to care for their environment or looking for ways to do so. The course is reflective. For those who are very active it is a chance to stop and take breath. For those who are considering getting involved it is a way of preparing and will give you tools and skills which will help you continue.
For those looking for ways to get involved there are plenty of organisations looking for help or making suggestions: A Rocha, Greenpeace, the Wildlife Trusts, the RSPB, Green Christian, Friends of the Earth as well as local transition town, green action and guerrilla gardening groups, to name but a few. There are plenty of challenges and opportunities. It may be that a group of people exploring Love for the Future together will decide to get involved in doing something together for the environment. But the course will still be valuable if the members afterwards go their separate ways.
There are seven sessions: the first one to get you going and then six which follow different themes. Reading the book as you proceed through the course will be very helpful.
Who and Where?
Form a group which will meet for seven sessions, perhaps for an hour and a half each week or once a fortnight.
Ideally there would be 6 to 8 people.
The best venue would be a flat, a house, or a common room with a kitchen and a degree of privacy. People wandering into the room are not likely to be a problem but you may not want spectators.
Time and Space
A phone or laptop may be useful for part of a session but it would be best if you were not dealing with texts, e-mails or calls during sessions. Give yourself a break. Take some time out for the course and let the others in the group have your full attention.
For each session there will be some preparation to do, perhaps 15 minutes a day. You can often do this on a bus or train, or sitting in a park or station. You don’t need to be shut away. But you do need to give yourself the time. The more you can do the preparation, the more you will get from the whole course.
For each session you need between an hour and a half and two hours’ preparation time over the week.
The Exploration Group course comprises the pages below. The book Love for the Future: a Journey is recommended as it has a lot more suggested material, is clearly reckoned to be a good read, and gives a more complete understanding of the course themes.
Other books and web links will be suggested on the way.