UUCMCNJThe Unitarian Universalist Meetinghouse offers an opportunity for quiet reflection on New Year’s Day — and some spirited dialogue every Sunday morning thereafter.  

The resolutions that we make on New Year’s Eve may constitute some bold and fearless talk — but in the cold light of New Year’s Day, it’s not always so easy to walk that walk. Fortunately, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County offers all members of the community the opportunity to start 2016 off on a good foot or two, by “walking the labyrinth” for some moments of quiet reflection and meditation as you begin another journey around the sun with the best of intentions and hopes for the months ahead. The (temporary) labyrinth will be installed inside the Earth Room at the Unitarian Meetinghouse between the hours of 3 to 6 pm on Friday, and there will be light refreshments served up in the nearby Community Room, with all attendees invited to contribute a dessert to this free and all-welcome event.

While New Year’s Day comes and goes in a flash, the UUCMC’s Sunday Dialogs events remain a year-round happening at the West Front Street place of worship — and the long-running lecture series on timely topics will be wasting no time getting down to the matter at hand here in 2016, as the Meetinghouse welcomes guest speaker Russell Binaco to the lectern this Sunday morning, January 3.

A freshman Electrical and Computer Engineering major at Rowan University and a member of the Lincroft congregation, Binaco will venture beyond the hard-wired world into the “Philosophy of the Soul” — specifically, the concept of Dualism, in which it is argued that both the body and the soul constitute the complete individual. But does that necessarily mean there’s such a thing as life after death? The 9 am discussion will explore all sides of the question, from Plato’s arguments on the immortality of the soul to the latter-day skeptics of the new millennium.

The series resumes on January 10 with an appearance by Terri Blair, MEd, LPC, MBSR, on the subject of “Trauma, Stress and Resilience: What to Know, What to Do.” The Allenhurst-based family and marriage counselor will examine the increasingly complex stresses and negative stimuli of our modern age, and explore simple and effective therapies (including self-awareness and self-calming) in a way that promises to be “interesting, and hopefully helpful and fun.”

The recent Paris Climate Conference is the topic explored by Lynn and Jan Dash on January 17, in a report entitled “From the Road to Paris to the Superhighway from Paris.” Lynn (a past president of UUCMC) and Jan (the Climate Initiative Chair and Managing Editor of the Climate Portal website for the Unitarian Universalist UN Office) will share their experiences as credentialed observers at the historic summit between heads of state, eminent scientists and faith leaders — along with their visions for implementation of the agreements on the global climate crisis.

Despite the efforts of governments, charitable organizations and well-intentioned people, great disparity exists in our world — and local resident Alberto Larotonda is one socially driven entrepreneur who’s addressing that issue through the Red Bank-based “free market” website Described as “a social impact network to enable anyone to shop without the use of money, to build community and wealth, help the environment and create jobs,” the user-supported e-commerce enterprise facilitates “the giving and receiving freely of unwanted excess consumer goods of others, or ‘treasure,’ in private networks called circles.” It’s all done not through bartering, exchange points, digital currency or debt, but with small monthly memberships for unlimited use by its subscribers. Larotonda explains how “Treasure Brings The Gift Economy To The Internet” on the morning of Sunday, January 24.

The five-week January series concludes on January 31 with a guest appearance by Dr. Kasturi “Rumu” DasGupta and a discussion of “What ‘End of History’ Looks Like.” The title refers to the 1992 book The End of History and the Last Man, in which economist-author Francis Fukuyama argued that the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall heralded a global victory for capitalism, and set the stage for  a world in which Western-style liberal democracy becomes “the final form of human government.” Whether Fukuyama’s assertions need to be re-examined in light of our 21st century “growing inequalities, unending war, violence and global refugee crisis” is at the heart of the dialogue led by Dr. DasGupta, a Sociology professor at Georgian Court University. Call (732)747-0707 for more information and updates on these and other upcoming Sunday Dialogs, with all 9 am events preceded by a complimentary light breakfast at 8:45.