Spirituality Course by Brendan Cook

Doctor of Spirituality
Lesson 1
Homework
Brendan CookPrayer Exercise
The primary obstacle to recognizing the presence of Love within me is, as it likely is for most people, the ego.
The ego, this “small self” exists through, and thrives on, fear. The ego is what emphasizes and maintains the notion of separation between self and other. I am me, you are not me. The fears that bring the ego into being are fundamental ones, chiefly survival. When an infant is born, it is completely egoless. Once it begins to be able to move on its own, and physically be separated from its mother, then the ego begins to form, as this being needs a way to be able to see to its own needs and survival (however unlikely that might be at such a tender age).

This ego begins the work of establishing the boundaries between self and not self, in order to try to make sense of the world. The ego continues to form as the child grows, which is why childhood traumas (physical and psychoemotional) have such a strong role in determining how we perceive the world as adults. And this is where the obstacle comes in to recognizing that we are a part of and exist wholly within God’s Love.
It is worth noting that one spiritual tradition which is widely recognized as having had some of the most loving, enlightened and egoless masters is Buddhism. This is largely due to the nature of the practices, which seek to eliminate the ego. While the ego, once formed, can never be gotten rid of, its influence of fear can be, and the meditation practices within Buddhism are excellent for that.
Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki (author of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind) made the point over and over that we can attain enlightenment when we return to the heart-mind of a child. Suzuki was advocating a return, through meditation, to a state of awareness and being where the ego was no longer required to protect us from the world, so that we could fully connect to it and all the things and people in it. This is not to say that enlightened spiritual masters have come only from Buddhism; far from it. But the Zen practitioners often have a very clear, simple, direct and unvarnished way of putting things which make them easy to understand intellectually, easy to begin to practice, which only later reveal their true depths.
Modern Zen Master Robert Kennedy, S.J., a Roman Catholic priest and member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), has been quoted as saying that he never feels closer to God than when he is on the meditation cushion. Getting the ego out of the way allows us to truly perceive and connect with the universe in which we live, which is all God’s Love.
With respect to how prayers might change if we are fully connected to and realize the Love of God, we must begin with the notion of fear. If we start from the position that fear stems from the belief that Love is or can be absent, and that simultaneously it is impossible for the all-encompassing, all-pervasive Love of God to be absent, we now have an emotion which is based on unreality. This fear is simply a manifestation and construct of our ego. It does not exist; it does not have its own separate verifiable reality.
If we have accepted the idea that God’s Love can never be absent, that it can never be diminished, that we exist wholly within it, that the entire universe exists within it, that all the universes of the multiverse do as well, then how can it be threatened? As there is nothing which is not contained within God’s Love, how could something threaten it? To connect to it requires only one simple, but perhaps monumentally difficult act: Recognizing and accepting our place within God’s Love by completely releasing our fear.
This, in turn, will affect both how we pray and what we pray for. Many people pray to God – or, perhaps, more toward God. There is a sense that God is “up there” or “out there” while I am “down here.” However, the recognition that we are all WITHIN God’s Love changes things. We are no longer separate from God, which means we no longer have to pray TO God. Once we have accepted that we exist within the Love of God, we can pray WITH God. Rather than pray for a specific result, or specific thing, we can, for example, pray that God’s will reveal itself more fully in our lives.
It is for this reason that Jesus prayed, “Let this cup pass from me, but your will be done.” When he was about to be betrayed, Jesus asked if he might be released from his suffering, but only if it was God’s Will. It is natural to not prefer suffering, and so Jesus asked that he might be spared that, but at the same time, put himself wholly within God’s Love. Like Jesus, putting ourselves wholly within God’s Love allows us to pray with God that his Love and Will manifest through us.Prayer Visualization
During the portion of the prayer visualization where we were supposed to affirm our intent to come to a deeper understanding of Love’s presence, I noticed a similar experience to when I practice a meta (loving kindness) meditation. I noticed after a few minutes a strong sense of compassion filling me.

Upon opening my eyes and looking around, I noticed that my perception of things was slightly different. Things seemed both more and less real. Despite this shift, I felt very strongly grounded and present and the sense of compassion did not diminish now that my eyes were open.
In bringing to mind a situation in which I felt scared, I went back to my childhood. I recalled an event that occurred when I was about 4 or 5. At the time, we were living in Madagascar and I was attending a French school. Due to what I found out later was a series of miscommunications, nobody came to pick me up at the end of school. I waited and nobody came. I was the only student left, and still nobody came. The teacher sat with me, and still nobody came. She and the headmistress tried calling out house, but could not reach anyone on the phone (probably more a function of shoddy infrastructure than my parents not being there to answer). By now it was getting dark, and I was still there waiting with the headmistress. At about 7:30 or 8, my parents finally arrived to pick me up. I was very scared and very lonely.
This experience left an indelible impression on me, despite the fact that I was with someone the entire time and that my parents did, in fact, come and get me. I left me with a constellation of feelings and beliefs about being left behind and/or abandoned. Doing this visualization helped me realized several things: 1) this has been with me now for over 30 years, 2) this experience has had a significant influence on the way that personal and romantic relationships have been experienced. More importantly, however, continuing the meditation even after the sense of peace filled me has actually helped me heal the trauma to a certain degree. 

 

Wiccan Basic Training

The Wiccan Basic Training Course did not hold my interest as much as the other courses I have taken though the ULC Seminary. I truly had misgivings when I found most of the course online at another website and for free. By time my concerns were passed onto the Seminary, Lord Skywalker had passed into the Summerland. Perhaps communication with him would have removed the barrier I had erected regarding the validity of this course.
That being said, Lord Skywalker touched on many subjects and showed the variety, scope and depth of Wicca.
This is obviously a subject which cannot be learned through reading but must be lived. The course was written from personal experience and holistic viewpoint, unlike some agenda driven books I’ve read on Wicca and practitioners encountered. Any magik works and ceremonies were pleasant, gentle and always reminding of the nature of magik and its power, his web links fun and informative.
I particularly liked the lessons on pendulum use and dowsing. These were non invasive uses of energy and fun to play with. As with all Wicca, practice, total concentration and dedication made worlds of difference in the outcome. I found the most successful attempts at these occurred when I didn’t have any stimulant in my system i.e. coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar. Windy days seemed to interfere with dowsing as I couldn’t keep a steady energy going and consecrating the dowsing tool with the element searched for seemed to make a positive difference in the outcome.
The Banishing Lesson #24, confused me, why were Wiccans using the Hebrew Kabbala and invoking the Hebrew God Yahweh and archangels Rapheal, Gabriel, Auriel and Micheal? And then end with an Irish blessing? All the components, deities and rituals are familiar to me; I’ve not encountered them in this combination. This lesson just didn’t have the feel of the other lessons, although it does demonstrate the variety and freedom Wicca allows.
I would recommend this as an introduction to Wicca; it appears some on the Forum has taken to filling some of the blanks left by Lord Starwalker’s passing, thank you.
A personal note, Wicca is an earth religion; therefore the practice of it is subject to one’s surroundings. The ceremonies, herbs, simple feasts, garments or lack of, tools etc…in my opinion, should reflect and be a part of the natural surroundings. The ethics, soul and spirit of Wicca is universal, the practice is regional.
May the Energy Which Animates Your Heart bring your Hearts desire, and the Lord and Lady bring their Blessings.
Rev. Linda Spicer
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The Universal Life Church is a comprehensive online seminary where we have classes in Christianity, Wicca, Paganism, two courses in Metaphysics and much more. I have been a proud member of the ULC for many years and the Seminary since its inception.


As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge selection of Universal Life Church  minister supplies. Since being ordained with the Universal Life Church for so many years and it’s Seminary since the beginning, I’ve watch the huge change and growth that has continued to happen.



Try our new free toolbar at: ULC Toolbar
As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

Paganism

Paganism for a New Age
I enjoyed the Paganism for a New Age class. As an Ásatrúarmaður I haven‘t experienced or been exposed to other Pagan rituals, rites, ceremonies and histories with the exception of the “Mythological“ teachings of ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt in high school. The class gave a decent overview of the major Pagan religion‘s practices and rites.
I enjoyed the chapters 3, 9, 12 the most. The portions of the class that have helped me the most were the meditations. I have begun quieting the mind during my evening workouts and have found the calm to enhance and balance the physical exhertion.The sacred place chapter motivated me to finally build my oaken Altar. Upon the alter I inscribed runes detailed in the ruinic chapter along with a design of mjolnir that I hand drew. My altar turned out beautifully and I have since added a sword, shield, drinking horn, ornate key‘s(for freya and my wife) and pictures of my family. I wear a mjolnir necklace and ring to show my faith to all. I will be adding a tree of life tattoo that surrounds an Odinic horn and Freyan key this spring.
I‘ve struggled adding guardians to my spiritual path and tradition. When I ask the gods for a favor I ask Thor to petition the deity whose realm my request would fall to. I may have failed to wrap my mind around it. I‘ve also struggled with rituals and ceremonies. I‘ve attempted a few but become extremely self conscious while performing them. I‘ve yet to master calming my body and mind while performing rituals or ceremonies. My wife says in time and with practice I will be at ease.
The only thing I didn‘t care for was that the class seemed to lean a little heavier towards some teachings from week to week. I think more of a balance could have been established week to week.
Dr. Ronald Derry Jr. D.D.
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The Universal Life Church is a comprehensive online seminary where we have classes in Christianity, Wicca, Paganism, two courses in Metaphysics and much more.

Ordination with the Universal Life Church, is free,  and lasts for life, so use the Free Online Ordination, button.

The  ULC, run by Rev. Long, has created a chaplaincy program to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials.  I’ve been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since the beginning and have loved watching the continual growth of the seminary.


Try our new free toolbar at: ULC Toolbar
As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

Four Gospels Course by Rev. Linda Paul

Four Gospels - Christian Study Course
Essay on The Four Gospels by a Pagan Clergy
Submitted by: Rev. Linda J. Paul


As a Pagan Clergy member, I found this course to be fascinating. I think if we choose to call ourselves Clergy of any kind, we need to be aware of other religious systems ideas and viewpoints. In this way we can compare, contrast and bring into unity the underlying threads that weave all these systems, however loosely, together.

I have long held great respect for Jesus the man, the healer, and the prophet. I see him as the greatest of all human teachers that have graced this Earth. His teachings encompass all beliefs and all religions if we look to his parables without getting caught up in the dogma.

I was raised in a Quaker/Pagan household.. strange as that may sound. My mother was a Quaker and my father was a Pagan. My grandmother was a Romanian Gypsy.. so I had quite an ecclectic childhood. I was called in my teens to Ministry. I always knew I wanted to be a Minister, but as I grew older and developed my own system of beliefs, I knew that a traditional Seminary school was not for me. I was very drawn to Paganism.. and for me it met my spiritual needs on a level that nothing else came close to doing. I see Divinity as both masculine and feminine in it’s duality.

When I stumbled upon ULC Seminary.. I rejoiced!! Here was the Seminary I was looking for! The first course I chose was the Four Gospels. I had studied the Bible in the past, but I found that I could not quite grasp some of the content of the Gospels.

This course helped me to understand on a common sense, easily understood level the basic principles of not only the gospels themselves, but the history of their writers, as well as bringing in the Gnostic beliefs with the Gospel of Thomas, (my own personal favorite.) I began to see a picture emerging of who Jesus was, what he stood for, and what his message to the world really was. The course presented him as a human being who I could relate to, in the guise of both Son of God and Shaman.

I began to see the sychronicity between the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke… and how the information was basically the same, but from a slightly different viewpoint, and how John was more of a vision than the stories presented by the other three.

It was very helpful for me to have each lesson broken down into the Biblical text.. and then the viewpoint of the teacher presented underneath in a different color text. The format was excellent, and held my interest in a much better way than just reading the Gospels on my own.

Although, as a Pagan, I might not share the belief system presented by the Bible itself, I do appreciate the Bible as a tome of ancient knowledge. Thank you for helping me to break it down to a level of better understanding.

Respectfully,

Rev. Linda J. Paul

 

Shamanism Course

Universal Life Church Seminary - Shamanism Program
My Personal Commentary on Shamanism
Rev. Diana Hango
I think I first became technically interested in shamanism because my best friend/room mate started getting me to watch some certain metaphysically oriented tv shows- John Edward and Sightings in the 90”s. She was part Native American (she passed over a few years later but is still very much still communicating!!!) so I began to look for things for her to read on the metaphysical aspects of Native American spirituality that I thought she might enjoy. I began to look at these things myself and found that I was relating to many spiritual aspects of my childhood experiences that I had forgotten. I began to realize that I could relate to many shamanistic experiences.
Up until then I had no idea that my experiences were experienced by others. Some of these were strange beings in my dreams who took me flying around in the air and who took me through strange “openings” to other places. These beings could also sing and change reality. I had also felt connected to animate and inanimate objects and I didn’t know why. I had always felt that everything was alive and should be respected. I didn’t know anyone else felt this way so I kept it to myself most of my life.
I still was confused about these experiences since I am not native American. I decided to start looking into my heritage. Then I found out that I have a similar heritage to native Americans. I most likely have a Saami/Laplander background from my father, who was Finnish. They were also a shamanistic society. I have begun some research in this area but information in English is limited.
I don’t presume to be any kind of shaman. I haven’t helped or healed anyone that I know of except maybe some sick feral cats. I have a houseful of rescued feral cats. I am extremely shy and I would be terrified of having to do any rituals with people I know as well as those I don’t know.
I do wish to live a shamanistic lifestyle though. I have brought many rituals into my life. I bought the most beautiful dishes I could find so I could make eating (nourishing my physical body) a part of my spirituality. Everyday I do a meditation/Tarot/Shaman wisdom card reading to open myself to any possible spiritual synchronicities for the day. This also involves candle lighting and smudging with tree sap a dear friend brought back from a yearly spiritual pilgrimage in the Jefferson wilderness (Oregon).
I am also an artist, so I am also putting prayers of blessings into whatever artwork I do. I paint, do digital photography/art, and crafts. Mostly I do this as gifts. I believe this is my main purpose to give positive energy into the universe. This is how I practice a shamanistic lifestyle.
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The Universal Life Church is a comprehensive online seminary where we have classes in Christianity, Wicca, Paganism, two courses in Metaphysics and much more. I have been a proud member of the ULC for many years and the Seminary since its inception.


As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge selection of Universal Life Church  minister supplies. Since being ordained with the Universal Life Church for so many years and it’s Seminary since the beginning, I’ve watch the huge change and growth that has continued to happen.



Try our new free toolbar at: ULC Toolbar
As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

Chaplaincy Studies

Chaplaincy Course #19
I liked this lesson. Simple specific ideas most of which I already do and some newer ideas all helpful in “being prepared”.
I use business cards and a manual PDA, which has a calendar and place for notes and a small clock.
i am always mindful of my mouth and breath hygiene as a regular life practice. the change/cash was a good reminder as I minister more and more to a wider group of people in need.
tissues are always with me and handkerchiefs are a good idea. I have a cell phone with me at all times and put it on mute to not disturb certain situations. i used to be obsessive with time and get to places too early. Now I am more relaxed and find I am always on time appropriately in a more relaxed manner. 
In terms of myself more personally, I love people and find it natural to smile and generally ease people into a place of trust. Eye contact is vital and again natural for me and I have seen time and again how important it is in helping people to relax especially in instinctively knowing when to be easy and not stare at the person. In the Navajo tradition you do not look directly at a person you look to teh side especially if you are addressing an elder it is a sign of disrespect to look them right in the eyes. Sometimes this make sit easier to listen even deeper to the person you are ministering to. 
I usually carry portable ceremonial items always in my car.
As I begin to do this work more full time in a hospice setting I will add more to my tool box such as scriptures and cards and music.
As always I am thnkful for the suggestions in this lesson and look forward to carrying them out into my Ministry.

       Reverand Pamela Bagot-beasley

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Ordination with the Universal Life Church, is free, legal and lasts for life, so please take advantage of our Free Online Ordination.
The  ULC, run by Rev. Long, has created a chaplaincy program to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of minister supplies.  I’ve been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and am proud to have started the Seminary.
Try our new free toolbar at: ULC Toolbar

 

The Miracle of Prayer

 At the start, the 1st discourse I thought, this is going to be long and a real drag. You see I thought I knew what I needed to know regarding the bible. I soon found out that after a few of the exercises really got me on a new life with God. We must have love, we must give love and care for our people that we share this earth with. 
Also that we are a family and Jesus is in fact our elder brother. The importance of forgiveness and how it’s best to forgive and let go of the matter. That a lot of the time it’s us that needs the comfort of saying I forgive you. Sometimes it’s your action of kindness and forgiving that shows God’s love. I also understand how to pray and what I should be praying about. It’s not all about my financial problems. But the opportunity to serve Gods will. For many of the discourses I would spend time seeking God with quite time. I now ask God each day to use me in his work and the best possible way. 
We need to go out each day and use our gifts that God has given. I like the saying that It’s sometimes better to show God’s love in a more practical way then talking. I truly believe that this life on earth that we spend so much of our day’s working for bigger and better things. Larger, nicer and more, puts us on the track of no purpose. We are on this earth for just a short time. This time should be used to do Gods business. And use this time as a proving ground for what’s to come after we take our last breath of air. What a great course, so much information. I will be using the information for years to come as a minister. 
Yes I do feel stronger and more set to serve God.
Rev. Mike Zhmendak
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Many people get ordained through the Universal Life Church as a means to become wedding officiants, but also to study through our online seminary. If you need minister supplies or online ceremonies, we have a wide selection to choose from, as well as a place for spiritual articles and spiritual bookmarks. If you need any assistance in any area of your ministry, please feel free to contact amy@ulcseminary.org and we’ll give you all the help we can.
As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

Online Chaplaincy Program

Hello,
    My name is Pamela Bagot-Beasley. I am new to the Chaplaincy Course.
I had a Spiritual teacher some years back who had a Divine Mark, actually I have been fortunate to have had a number of Teachers who have a Divine Mark.
This particular teacher, Charlie Lutes, was a man given to service very early in life. When he walked into a room silence pervade that room and everyone hushed.
    It was this same man who years after I had met he and his wife(whom also was deeply Spiritual) , Charlie told his right hand man that I was deeply Spiritual and highly attuned to higher worldly communication.
    My calling has always been to be in service to all my people, meaning all forms of life. I have been a teacher of Transcendental Meditation for 34+ years. I am a Reiki master Teacher. i have spent the last 25 years spiritually mentoring/guiding my clients. I am presently also a Wilderness Guide centered around sacred Native American ceremonies. I co-owned and operated an advance life support ambulance service years ago and found myself ministering daily to the patients. I am feeling called to work in Hospice to assist people in a graceful transition.
    I have always been a compassionate listener and guide. It is my nature.
            I look forward to further enlarging my capacity to be of assistance to others.
                       Pamela
Lesson #3
    Strengths and Weaknesses
 I have been an excellent listener for all my life. i love to listen to others even beyond their words.  People have always told me that they feel safe with me because I do not judge them and am able to guide them to look at their choices and maybe choose another way with less suffering.
 I am an observer by nature. Noticing and aware of body language and communication in ways other than words.
 In group gatherings I am often called upon to offer a prayer and I feel Creator/God’s presence as the words coming from my mouth.  I am very familiar to prayer as a form of deep communication.
  In terms of areas I might improve upon would be my familiarity with the Bible. i have not had much personal engagement with it. I have purchased a bible and am beginning to read it with a desire to be open to any wisdom that it might offer me to assist others.
I am non-denominational, no particular religion. i was raised on Air Force bases which by the way was my first exposure to Chaplains. Chaplains were or main and sometimes only Spiritual Guide. So our church services were fairly non denominational also. i am comfortable in most settings Baptist, Catholic, Jewish, Native American.  I love ceremony that is to invoke the Divine nature of God/Creator.
  I do not see myself involved with a church but rather offering assistance on the reservations, in hospitals etc.
          Thank you for your time,
               blessings, Pamela

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The Universal Life Church is a comprehensive online seminary where we have various classes in Christianity, one on Wicca, along with several Pagan courses, more than a few courses about Metaphysics with more being added regularly.
Ordination with the Universal Life Church, is free, legal and lasts for life, so please take advantage of our Free Online Ordination.
The  ULC, run by Rev. Long, has created a chaplaincy program to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of minister supplies.  I’ve been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and am proud to have started the Seminary.
Try our new free toolbar at: ULC Toolbar

 

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Wiccan Studies by Rev. Darlene Marie Meehan

I can’t say I truly learned anything new during the Wiccan studies program but I did enjoy it. I have been a witch for 21 years and basically took the program to add to my reverend credentials.

As a Witch I feel its important to keep an open mind and continue learning/sharing on this path in life. The Wiccan Studies program was well put together and easy to understand. Its an excellent study program for the beginner and a great refresher for the more experienced. I did enjoy going through this course.

I also was glad to see the links and resources given during the lessons. Too many times, online, people do not give credit where credit is due. Its important when we do not write something to add the source. I was very happy to see the sources given. Bravo!

I really liked how the course was designed. It kept all the essentials of Wicca at the forefront and kept it interesting. Very well thought out and included great information.

As a Witch with a Coven I would definitely suggest this course to anyone. I’m glad I took the course because it gave me another class design to have in mind when teaching. Thank you for putting together a course well done!

Blessings,
Rev. Darlene Marie Meehan

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Islamic Studies

Master of Islamic Studies Final Essay
By: Rev. Cynthia Ewing
I was definitely interested in this class when it was offered. It came at the perfect time. I was working with a Muslim male and wanted to understand how to work and communicate with him better. I was raised in a Christian household and taught all of our current belief systems of the time. As in any Christian household we were not taught about any other religion.
When I first started this class I wasn’t sure what to expect. I found it very enlightening. The Islamic views are very close to how I was raised. It includes all of the teachings of the Old Testament in the bible. However where it differs is in the New Testament. They do not believe in the resurrection and call Jesus a great leader and teacher. Their main authority is Mohammed, one of Gods various messengers.
He was an illiterate man who was given the word of God to pass on to his people. It was very important that he was illiterate for he communicated God’s message to the people.
The Quran is different from the Christian bible. It is not considered a bible at all for Muslims. It is the Quran. If one thinks the Bible is hard to read and understand, the Quran is even worse. There seems to be no unified story to the manuscript. Islamists believe that God has revealed himself in the Quran not a story like the bible carries.
I have heard on TV about different Islamic sects like the Sunnis and the Shi’ites. There has been such violence in the world between these two sects all over a difference of views. The Shi’ites follow the teachings of Muhammad’s son-in-law and daughter, Ali and Fatima. Since they were not in the direct line of decendency of the prophet, many problems arose. This difference has separated the two sects.
We all are fighting against evil in whatever shape or form it may take. Muslims call this jihad. Currently we think of jihad as a holy war, a war about beliefs that has led to many deaths. They do not even know themselves clearly what determines a jihad and what is genuine. Why should there be so much fighting if we all believe in a common God? I think too much blood has been spilled over personal beliefs.
Although some of the beliefs of Islam are very similar to my own and others are not, I believe I still have a lot to learn before I understand this religion. I have definitely enjoyed this class and is sad that it was canceled. It strove very hard to give a good account on such a giant topic. I think we all need to learn about other religions to help us understand people as well as ourselves. Thank you for the experience.
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The Universal Life Church Seminary is a comprehensive online seminary where we have classes in Christianity, Wicca, and Paganism.  We have two courses in Metaphysics, as well as courses in Mystical Christianity, Buddhism and Comparative Religion. I have been a proud member of the ULC for many years and the Seminary since its inception.
As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.