Workshop Details


P1: Plenary—Lori and John Odhner

As a welcome to this day devoted to relationships and commitment, we will explore ways to broaden the base of support. In a culture that sometimes values stoic independence above vulnerability, it can feel like failure simply to open up.


A ----------------- Workshops for Session A (10:15-11:45) -----------------


A 1: Marriage, Intimacy and Children (Part 1)—Michael and Gwenda Cowley 


This is a two session workshop. Part 2 is found in Workshop B1. Participants can attend either part or both.

Michael and Gwenda have been providing workshops based on John and Julie Gottman’s research for over a decade. This interactive session  is a continuation of their work based on Gottman’s book: And Baby Makes Three. It is especially geared for new parents or those looking toward parenthood. The workshop’s goal is to strengthen the marriage so couples learn as much about taking care of one another as they do about caring for the baby. It also stresses the importance of fathers. “The secret of dad’s involvement with the baby is his relationship with the mother, and she is able to be a better mother if he’s involved with her,” Gottman says.

Couples with older children or grandchildren are encouraged to attend as the practical tips never become outdated and the experience of “veteran” parents can be especially useful to share with those entering the parenthood scene.

Michael and Gwenda Cowley have been married for thirty five years and have six children and seven grandchildren.


A 2: Hidden Mandala Imagery in the Bible—Dylan Odhner

For good reason, mandalas are most usually associated with Buddhism, Hinduism, and other Eastern belief systems. But one of the great gifts offered by C. G. Jung—the Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist—was the idea that religious symbols the world over can often be linked to fundamental realities of the human psyche. This is not to psychologize away religious belief, but rather, to demonstrate that as human beings, we all draw from the same well; what Jungian's call the collective unconscious, and what Swedenborg might have traced back to the internal sense disseminated from the lost Ancient Word.

Put simply, a mandala—from the Sanskrit for “circle”—is a symmetrical design with an outer circle, four cardinal directions, and often a balanced number of segments radiating out from a center point. These images are used as a focus for meditation or prayer because the are seen as microcosms of the human mind, and quite literally as micro-cosmos... images of the perfect wholeness of the cosmos.

Though they are not depicted visually, I believe that mandalas appear throughout the Bible, from the descriptions of the Garden of Eden, to the Lord's birth, baptism and Crucifixion, to the Holy City New Jerusalem descending from the clouds in the book of Revelation.

This presentation will walk through a visual introduction to the religious and psychological meaning of mandala imagery. We will then dissect a number of Biblical scenes which I believe hold hidden mandalas. When viewed together, these mandala scenes highlight moments of divine manifestation, and cultural transformation.

Dylan Odhner graduated from the Academy of the New Church Boys School in 2005. After receiving a history degree in 2009, he continued on at Bryn Athyn College within the admissions office, where he advanced to Assistant Director. In 2015, Dylan shifted gears, and joined the Academy of the New Church Secondary Schools team, where he currently teaches Medieval History to sophomore boys, and Senior Project in tandem with Cory Boyce. In 2014, Dylan decided to feed a new growing passion for world mythology by enrolling in a Ph.D. program in Mythological Studies with an Emphasis in Jungian Depth Psychology. After three years of monthly trips to Pacifica Graduate Institute near Santa Barbara, California, Dylan received his Masters degree. He is currently working on his Doctoral Dissertation, which is tentatively titled ”Redeeming the Shadow of the Self: A Depth Psychological Cross-Cultural Investigation of the Foreshadow Archetype.”


A 3: Finding God in Everyday Experiences—Sarah Odhner

It is said that “faith hangs on the thin thread of conversation.” As a parent or grandparent do you talk to your children or grandchildren about God? Or does the conversation get squeezed out of your busy schedule? This workshop looks at effective ways in which religious values are passed on to the next generation, and will provide a variety of practical strategies for bringing the Lord into your busy family life without adding new activities.  

Sarah and Grant have been married for 38 years. They have raised six children and five grandchildren. Sarah works at Bryn Athyn Church School and designs Religious Educational Programs for General Church Education.