Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Defining Spirituality ~ Final Essay by Rev. Murman

Lesson 19 ~ Defining Spirituality ~ Final Essay
By:  Rev. Trent Murman, OSM, OSF
There are few things in this world that can make one sit up and say wow.  This Defining Spirituality course is that wow course for me.  I learned about many of the great philosophers of both the ancient and present society's.  Each to their own rites of thinking and observing the world and its players around them.  At times it was difficult to accept and/or agree with their thinking and expressions, but when I put my own beliefs aside and actually thought about what they were saying, it was amazing to me how they were able to decipher and persuade the masses to their position of thinking. 

It was interesting, when studying Socrates to find out he was sentenced to death and when asked for his last words, instead of pleading for his life to be spared he responded by standing by his convictions which in turn made many more of his accusers upset and agreed he should be executed.  There were numerous leaders of the world that I did not agree with, but in the free world we do have the right to freedom of thought.  Sometimes we have to pay the ultimate price for vocalizing our personal agenda when we try to impress it on others. 

I think during the course I was most moved by the endurance these men had to stay with their convictions.  Every time I began studying about another philosopher it constantly made me remember not to judge and be more tolerant of others right to express themselves which can definitely be filtered in to our work as ministers.  There are many so called "prophets" out there starting with the ancient biblical to Hitler and on to present day leaders which in their own minds were doing what they thought their gods wanted.  To change or attempt to change another's way of thinking is not what we are here for. 

Beware of false prophets for their downfall is eminent.  Be ever mindful of whom you choose to associate with.  A great man once said "keep your friends close and your enemies closer" in my opinion there has never been a truer statement.  When face to face with the devil or a misguided person, I say to him:  Do Your Worse, for my God will keep me from harm.  May the Peace of the Lord be with you through eternity.  Go In Peace.

Rev. Trent Murman, OSM, OSF

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Comparative Religion Course from Universal Life Church - Rev. Longsden

I have subscribed for yet another course and it looks quite interesting in the sense I know have a reading list of suggested books this in itself appeared rather interesting. I tried the quiz only too find my religion is in cyber space could this in itself be an act of god or some supreme being ie I should already know.
            As I am from the uk we are constantly being reminded on how diverse or multi cultural we are within a mile radius we have numerous churches and chapels add a few yards and we have mosques and temples due to the various communities and nationalities
These cover Bangladeshi Somali Pakistani west Indian and polish to name a few.
I hope learn more from this course than I already now know.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Religious Philosophy ~ Rev. Murman

Lesson 20 ~ Religious Philosophy ~ East is East and West is West ~ Essay
By:  Rev. Trent Murman, OSM, OSF
What does "dominion" mean to you? Does it entitle you to kill anything you want? For food? For sport? What about non-living natural resources? Does dominion give you the right to take whatever you want or need, and not worry about the long term impact?

The topic of dominion can be quite controversy to many people.  However, I feel in my personal opinion, there is proprietary dominion and civil dominion.  Proprietary dominion would encase your personal possessions where on the other hand civil dominion would encase anything outside of your personal possession.  In the years when this great nation of ours was just being formed the settlers entitled to kill game for means of survival.  The American Indians killed game for food, clothing and housing.  In these circumstances I believe even by today's standards it would be permissible to kill what you needed for man's survival.  As for killing for sport….I personally do not believe in this.  However, there are family members that do this every year when hunting season comes about….but, they know how I feel about this.  I do not believe dominion gives anyone the right to take what you want or need from others that have attempted to provide for their families and if we were back in the settlers days you might be jailed, hung or shot for stealing.  This would also be termed as breaking one of the Ten Commandments.  Ignorance of the civil law or God's law would be no excuse for these people.

The Chinese invented paper, gun powder, wine, and numerous other things that we now take for granted. And yet, it was the West that developed the "scientific method", and the West that created the entire "field" of science. Since China was clearly capable of brilliant individual inventions, why do you suppose the organic development of science happened in the West rather than in China?

I think perhaps China was more into the developing things of personal needs and to survive on a one-to-one basis.  They invented things of need.  They even came to America as sometime forced labor when we were settling the west.  We used their explosives to blast away or forge onward through the mountains and mining etc.  Unfortunately, they were greatly misused and pushed around as were the American Indians, but I am inclined to believe our fore fathers were using them as they thought was acceptable in those days.  As for the west developing the "scientific method", perhaps the west was a bit more socially developed at that time.   Go In Peace

Friday, November 16, 2012

Heart Attacks for Women - useful Information from the Universal Life Church

         NURSE HAS HEART ATTACK - she describes what women feel when having one! ~MEN: For Your Wives

                 Ladies please be aware! Guys please forward to women in your life.


                 I am an ER nurse and this is the best description of this event that I have ever heard. Please read, pay attention, and send it on!

                 FEMALE HEART ATTACKS

                 I was aware that female heart attacks are different, but this is the best description I've ever read.

                 Women and heart attacks (Myocardial infarction). Did you know that women rarely have the same dramatic symptoms that men have when experiencing heart attack.. you know, the sudden stabbing pain in the chest, the cold sweat, grabbing the chest & dropping to the floor that we see in the movies. Here is the story of one woman's experience with a heart attack.

                 'I had a heart attack at about 10:30 PM with NO prior exertion, NO prior emotional trauma that one would suspect might have brought it on. I was sitting all snugly & warm on a cold evening, with my purring cat in my lap, reading an interesting story my friend had sent me, and actually thinking, 'A-A-h, this is the life, all cozy and warm in my soft, cushy Lazy Boy with my feet propped up.

                 A moment later, I felt that awful sensation of indigestion, when you've been in a hurry and grabbed a bite of sandwich and washed it down with a dash of water, and that hurried bite seems to feel like you've swallowed a golf ball going down the esophagus in slow motion and it is most uncomfortable. You realize you shouldn't have gulped it down so fast and needed to chew it more thoroughly and this time drink a glass of water to hasten its progress down to the stomach. This was my initial sensation--the only trouble was that I hadn't taken a bite of anything since about 5:00 p.m.

                 After it seemed to subside, the next sensation was like little squeezing motions that seemed to be racing up my SPINE (hind-sight, it was probably my aorta spasms), gaining speed as they continued racing up and under my sternum (breast bone, where one presses rhythmically when administering CPR).

                 This fascinating process continued on into my throat and branched out into both jaws. 'AHA!! NOW I stopped puzzling about what was happening -- we all have read and/or heard about pain in the jaws being one of the signals of an MI happening, haven't we? I said aloud to myself and the cat, Dear God, I think I'm having a heart attack!

                 I lowered the foot rest dumping the cat from my lap, started to take a step and fell on the floor instead. I thought to myself, If this is a heart attack, I shouldn't be walking into the next room where the phone is or anywhere else... but, on the other hand, if I don't, nobody will know that I need help, and if I wait any longer I may not be able to get up in a moment.

                 I pulled myself up with the arms of the chair, walked slowly into the next room and dialed the Paramedics... I told her I thought I was having a heart attack due to the pressure building under the sternum and radiating into my jaws. I didn't feel hysterical or afraid, just stating the facts. She said she was sending the Paramedics over immediately, asked if the front door was near to me, and if so, to un-bolt the door and then lie down on the floor where they could see me when they came in.

                 I unlocked the door and then laid down on the floor as instructed and lost consciousness, as I don't remember the medics coming in, their examination, lifting me onto a gurney or getting me into their ambulance, or hearing the call they made to St. Jude ER on the way, but I did briefly awaken when we arrived and saw that the radiologist was already there in his surgical blues and cap, helping the medics pull my stretcher out of the ambulance. He was bending over me asking questions (probably something like 'Have you taken any medications?') but I couldn't make my mind interpret what he was saying, or form an answer, and nodded off again, not waking up until the Cardiologist and partner had already threaded the teeny angiogram balloon up my femoral artery into the aorta and into my heart where they installed 2 side by side stints to hold open my right coronary artery.

                 I know it sounds like all my thinking and actions at home must have taken at least 20-30 minutes before calling the paramedics, but actually it took perhaps 4-5 minutes before the call, and both the fire station and St Jude are only minutes away from my home, and my Cardiologist was already to go to the OR in his scrubs and get going on restarting my heart (which had stopped somewhere between my arrival and the procedure) and installing the stints.
                 Why have I written all of this to you with so much detail? Because I want all of you who are so important in my life to know what I learned first hand.

                 1 Be aware that something very different is happening in your body, not the usual men's symptoms but inexplicable things happening (until my sternum and jaws got into the act). It is said that many more women than men die of their first (and last) MI because they didn't know they were having one and commonly mistake it as indigestion, take some Maalox or other anti-heartburn preparation and go to bed, hoping they'll feel better in the morning when they wake up... which doesn't happen. My female friends, your symptoms might not be exactly like mine, so I advise you to call the Paramedics if ANYTHING is unpleasantly happening that you've not felt before. It is better to have a 'false alarm' visitation than to risk your life guessing what it might be!

                 2 Note that I said 'Call the Paramedics.' And if you can take an aspirin. Ladies, TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!

                 Do NOT try to drive yourself to the ER - you are a hazard to others on the road.

                 Do NOT have your panicked husband who will be speeding and looking anxiously at what's happening with you instead of the road.

                 Do NOT call your doctor -- he doesn't know where you live and if it's at night you won't reach him anyway, and if it's daytime, his assistants (or answering service) will tell you to call the Paramedics. He doesn't carry the equipment in his car that you need to be saved! The Paramedics do, principally OXYGEN that you need ASAP. Your Dr will be notified later.

                 3 Don't assume it couldn't be a heart attack because you have a normal cholesterol count. Research has discovered that a cholesterol elevated reading is rarely the cause of an MI (unless it's unbelievably high and/or accompanied by high blood pressure). MIs are usually caused by long-term stress and inflammation in the body, which dumps all sorts of deadly hormones into your system to sludge things up in there. Pain in the jaw can wake you from a sound sleep. Let's be careful and be aware. The more we know the better chance we could survive.

                 A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this mail sends it to 10 people, you can be sure that we'll save at least one life.

                 *Please be a true friend and send this article to all your friends (male & female) who you care about!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Master of Chaplaincy Studies by Rev. Akers


ULC Seminary Chaplaincy Course – KaZ Akers

What It Means to Be a Chaplain
In the last year it has become very evident to me what it means to be a chaplain, especially in the hospital setting.
I had to rush a dear friend by ambulance because the blood thinning medication he was taking had thinned his blood to such an extent that he was bleeding out through his skin.
When I found him at home, he was nearly unconscious and had fallen in his bathroom   He couldn't focus and struggled to fight what was happening to him.
At that very moment it seemed like the world slowed down.  I was extremely calm and knew exactly what to do.  While keeping him quiet, I called 911 and spoke to them making sure they knew his vitals and exactly where he was located.   I gathered together all his medicines and clothes, and his cell phone then called his out-of-town family.  Everything was effortless.  I was guided moment by moment by God.  I knew exactly what to do and when to do it. I knew exactly what to say and how to say it. 
Once the paramedics arrived I answered their questions while they worked on my friend.  There was no anxiety, and no panic. I knew he was divinely protected.  I followed the ambulance to the hospital got him admitted to surgery then went about the task of informing his pastor and his friends. 
I visited him almost every day in intensive care.  Critically ill people surrounded him in the ward.  I would enter the ward with a kind of reverence I never knew.  Honoring each person and where they were in their life journey.  Honoring the families in their suffering and worry.  Knowing that I had the ability to be there for them and be strong and supportive.
Of course, I was worried about my friend, but not once did I feel like crying.  I surprised myself that I stayed very present.  I KNEW there was a Divine process occurring.  Something completely out of anyone's control.
In the ICU I was comfortable and knew I belonged there.  My conversations with my friend's doctors and nurses were comforting for my friend. I could be there for him in a loving, supportive way and also be there for him when he needed me as a liaison to the medical staff - expressing his needs and desires when he could not. 
When he needed prayer, I was there.  When he needed a drink of water, I was there.  When he needed a joke or a story or someone to read his email, I was there.    For three weeks I held a type of vigil for my friend.  And made sure each time I stepped in to the hospital that I had a smile, a kind word and a positive outlook for anyone whom I encountered.
I stayed available sometimes in an obvious way and sometimes in a very neutral way.  It all ebbed and flowed depending on the day, the situation, the people around and my friend's health status. 
If I could express it as a freeing feeling to be available to ANYONE there for his or her spiritual unfoldment, that may be the most accurate description I can impart to anyone.
Being in a chaplaincy position is to release the ego and be a conduit for the ailing and their families to access their Divine connection and be at peace in their Divine journey. To know when to step forward and when to step back and to anticipate the needs of the patient and the family at the right time, in the right way.  To remain in the background as a touchstone when necessary, all the while being there the moment you are called upon to serve.
On an even more personal note, my father has been in and out of UCLA Medical Center for two brain surgery procedures.  Of course, this has been extremely stressful for him and for my mother and my sister.  It became very obvious to me what my role needed to be in this scenario.  I needed to be at peace at all times.  I needed for nothing to be too much to ask and for me to be the voice of reason when family members could not.  I ascertained when I needed to speak up either to the medical staff or my family and when I needed to be still. 
First and foremost, I needed to be available to my father without a single thought for myself.  That came easily and effortlessly.  It was a revelation. I transcended myself and put myself in a position of complete service. 
The Medical Center has a beautiful interdenominational chapel and I would go down at least once and day and pray and meditate.  At one point my father asked me where I was going and I told him that I was going to the chapel.  "Are you going to pray for me?"  He asked.  "If you want me to, I will."  "Yes, I need all the help I can get." 
So even in that way, not being in his room or in his presence, he called upon me to help him.    And THAT is one of the most profound things about chaplaincy.  Whether you are in a patient's presence or not, they feel your support.  They know you are a loving, caring component in their recovery, convalescence, or transition.
Knowing when to be present and when to make your presence known even if it is simply at a distance is the delicate but very vital calling for a chaplain. 
The relief I see in patient's eyes when someone is there supporting them, is a gift and a blessings. 
When you stand in the knowledge that you are being of ultimate service to people by supporting their spiritual needs is sometimes all that is needed.
It has shown me that I have a strength I never really knew I had.  And that God is with me at all times showing me the way.  Filling me with peace and that peace I can pass on whenever it is needed.

Dr. of Spiritual Awareness final Essay by Rev. Wolf

Dr. Judith G. Wolf
It has taken me a bunch of years to finish this course. Finally however it has been completed.  Every time I started a lesson I wondered at the process, not so much of becoming aware, but more importantly of staying aware. It seems that it is much too easy to practice awareness while taking a course, but once the course is over it becomes even easier to slip back into an unaware state.  Reading the Bible or praying helps but in the busy days of our lives slipping into old habits just seems to happen. As a Reverend it is my responsibility to guard against the slippage.
It is curious to me that I waited three years to complete the course. I began because after all those years I felt drawn to it. Figuring out why, what I was meant to take from the course, has been an experience. First of all I have been reminded over and over that we are spiritual beings, living this life to learn things that we have chosen for ourselves (soul lessons). It is incredibly reinforcing to believe this. It brings a feeling of peace and calmness. It helps to deal with the everyday aggravations of life. It enables truer connection with our Source. This in and of itself would make taking this course worthwhile, but there is much more to glean from it.
Some of us have qualities or abilities that we hide because we feel that others would not understand. Strong intuition would be one of these. Speaking easily to our spirit guides would be another. How about speaking with people who have died? Not easily accepted by many of those around us. But this course talks about these abilities and even tries to teach some of them. How reassuring is that?
By far to me the most wonderful lesson relates to light. "The Light that each of us has…comes to us from the Source….The amount of light that each of us can shine is directly dependent upon our ability to be positive, loving individuals. The more positive and loving that we can be, the more of that Light that we will channel through us, and the brighter our own Light will be."
How beautiful is that. If nothing else were to be internalized from this course (and there is of course, much more to learn) this thought, this idea would be enough. I highly encourage everyone to indulge themselves and grow by taking Dr. of Spiritual Awareness.

Dr. of Spiritual Awareness by Rev. Crosson

Dr. of Spiritual Awareness
          The lessons included in this course are interesting and thought provoking.  The idea of using psychic ability to heal is always intriguing, and to do so from a distance is always available and comforting as thought and intention are never limited by time and space.  To be reminded of this, especially in these precarious times, is extremely settling to this troubled heart.  The main culprit that causes my dis-ease is, of course, the evening news.  How anyone can watch the turmoil in the middle east, the unrest within the borders of our own precious country, and the increased tension between races and religions and not be disquieted is beyond me.  I hear friends and acquaintances more and more frequently tell me they simply have stopped watching, stopped listening and have found peace in their ignorance.  My question to them is how they can ever be prepared for any disaster that may come, and how will they react when it "sneaks" up on them?  When you get into your car, you fasten your seat belt, check your mirrors and look up and down the street and behind you before and as you back out of the drive.  You have done all you possibly can to avoid disaster.  If it still happens, perhaps the damage would be less severe than if you'd made no preparation at all.  It may be just as personally devastating, but the damage may be more easily and quickly repaired if you've prepared properly.
          The same goes for the country.  In this volatile political season, when absolute nastiness seems to be drawn from even the meekest among us, it is good to watch, ponder and prepare for the worst possible contingency, just in case it happens.  If it doesn't, then you end up a very organized human being!  If it does, you just may survive with a slightly more comfortable lifestyle.  What does preparing mean?  Different things to different people, I imagine.  Some will prepare for food shortages, others will collect weapons and ammunition, still others will do both, plus gathering survival gear, water purification systems, and a host of other means of survival in the worst possible scenario.  Then, if their nightmares do come true, they will at least feel they have a fighting chance of living through it until things get better. 
          In all of this preparation though, are they giving thought to their spiritual survival at all?  When the world seems to spin faster toward total loss of control, that is the most vital time to be still and get quiet inside, to listen to that "still, small voice within," and to wait for direction to come from that divinity that lives inside us all.  It is necessary to go to a quiet place, away from the chaos, separate from the collections and amassed stuff, into a space of calm, of beauty, of peace - inner peace - and listen, really listen to our spiritual hearts.
          The television is blaring the latest news of the most recent incendiary statement by the politician of the moment, and talk show hosts on the radio tell of impending doom, and the topic of conversation overheard at restaurants and retail stores is angry, disbelieving or just plain mean.  It is in the air, especially during a really divisive political campaign, and the atmosphere is charged with negativity and chaos and fear.  It's difficult to find that quiet place, that peaceful moment, so we push on, ignoring the nagging feeling that we've forgotten something important.  We have.  We forgot to pray.  We forgot to meditate.  We forgot to listen.
          It is this forgetfulness, more than anything else, that will bring about our ruin.  It has been said that we are not human beings on a spiritual journey, but we are spiritual beings on a human journey.  I've seen that thought attributed to everyone from Albert Einstein to Stephen Cope to Chief Joseph, so I'm not sure who actually said it, but they were right.  Spiritual beings on a human journey make their way as best they can by human endeavor, which, for some inexplicable reason, seems to overpower their spiritual sense until it is drowned by the howls of human despair or elation.  Those howling voices rise and fall each time the need arises for peace and quiet to distract us from the path we should walk, the way we should go, the lessons we should learn. 
          Time must be taken to sit.  Moments must be given to that deep, calming breath before angry words are spoken.  Mouths must be shut and opinions held, to dissipate with the emotion that accompanies them.  We are spiritual beings, period.  We've forgotten.
          So how to remember?  Discipline, that most horrible of ideas that is resented and resisted with great success every single day around the globe.  If your spiritual path tells you to pray, then you must take time every day to pray.  If your spiritual path tells you to meditate, then you must take time to meditate every day.  If your spiritual path tells you to talk a walk in nature and listen to her music, then you must take time to walk in nature every day.  No exceptions, no excuses, no delays, no forgetting.  Even if you only sit or walk for five minutes, they are the most crucial minutes of your entire day.  It is in those minutes, those precious minutes, that you find your true nature, your true self, as an idea of God, a thought of divine mind, a spark of the divinity of pure consciousness.  How could we forget such an important thing? 
          Martin Luther said, "I would never have time to do everything I must in a day if I did not pray for three hours each morning."  Three hours!  The time we spend resting in peaceful contemplation clears the decks and aligns our minutes and hours to follow.  They take on a kind of flow, as the Taoists say, and when we are quiet inside, we can listen and know the best way to stay in that flow to move through our day with the least resistance and the most joy.
          Listening inside involves the intuition mentioned in this class in order to touch that spark within us.  It is not something that can be seen on an xray or CAT scan; not something that be observed with the physical senses.  It is a deeper part of us that resides in our spiritual hearts, the size and extent of its influence being determined by our devotion to our spiritual practice.  It never leaves us, though, but it can, through neglect, be malnourished and sickly. 
          We must nourish it!  We must feed it!  We must cherish and protect that most precious part of ourselves - our Selves - and recognize that we are, indeed, spiritual beings.  From there, our preparations to care for and guard our human selves will be imbued with that care and loving kindness that comes from a gentle, sweet caretaker.  You will be taking the very best care of You, and this is the best preparation there can be.  Use the intuition, psychic and psychometric abilities, and the other ideas the lessons of this class include, but foremost, prepare - you!

Rev. Crosson