Sunday, November 25, 2012

Flight Behavior ~ by Barbara Kingsolver

Mary/Zorro has nominated Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver (Nov. 2012) as our next book.
It's a novel set in the mountains of East Tennessee, in a Bible-belt community that thinks the coming of monarch butterflies is a miracle from God — while the scientists think it's an ecological disaster caused by climate changes.
Flight Behavior sounds to me like it's right up our alley, Shirley says it sounds good to her, Alison has already gotten this book from the library, and — I'll let you in on Zorro's secret life that I learned as she was planning her visit here to Tennessee and emailed this:
"Would you like to see the new Monarch butterfly 3D IMAX movie with us?  Do you know that I do teacher workshops for the Monarch Larvae Monitoring Project?   I don't think I have mentioned that I am a butterfly enthusiast!  I also help with a monarch research group at the Univ. of Georgia.  So I am very excited to see the movie while I am there.   It is not showing here."
Aha!  Mary is an expert on butterflies, especially monarch butterflies.  I'd say having a knowledgeable person in our midst would make the discussion of this book all the more interesting.

Because it's a new book, my library allowed me only seven days to read and return the book.  It may be difficult for you to get, too.  We won't read our next book until January, so some of you may get a copy feom Santa, if you ask early enough.  Read more about it here at an NPR site about Barbara Kingsolver that Donna found for us.  These three links are specifically about Flight Behavior:
Does this novel interest you?

Watch live streaming video from goodreads at
Zorro found this video for us.  Thanks, Mary/Zorro.

Update:  Mary/Zorro also found this article on "Fall of the Monarchs" =

Let's have a party! I'll invite Diana Butler Bass

Essencia Island is the place book buddies party at the end of a book discussion.  Click on the photo on the sidebar (or this link), and you'll arrive at a warm and sandy place where we can chat without cluttering up the comments about the books on this blog.  It's our place to relax, get to know each other, and talk informally.

My very first post on the island tells you how it all started.  If you click "Newer Post" at the bottom of the post (and continue with other posts), you can read about all the parties we've held on Essencia Island.  Back when we met on Oprah's site, we created an imaginary island as something "essential" to who we book buddies are.  Now we have our own virtual island.  Feel free to explore it and leave a post, if you want to chat.  Go ahead — I've already left you a message there.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Epilogue – Home Again

"In her sermon Anne explains that Lent is not about being sad, not some sort of spiritual penance.  Rather, she insists, Lent is about change the change that God can make in our selves, our faith communities, and the larger world.  Lent is a time that opens our hearts to transformation, to becoming God's people and doing that which God calls us to do" (p. 281).
1.  Is the Reverend Anne Howard right?  Is "transformation the promise at the heart of the Christian life"?

2.  What are the implications of transformative Christianity in your own life, for the life of your congregation, and for the larger community of which you are part?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Chapter 17. Transforming the World

"Instead of being involved in politics as they were in the 1970s — primarily  the politics of policy and protest — they engaged in hands-on personal politics, things like setting up homeless shelters and local environmental projects" (p. 259).
1.  Why do we engage, to use Jack Harrison's phrase, in "all this for-the-church activity"?  What do you think is the point, the larger goal, of being part of a church or even being a Christian?

2.  What do you think of St. Mark's response to 9/11?  What most surprises you about St. Mark's attitude toward political questions?

3.  What color is your congregation?

4.  What does it mean to "reclaim" the message of Christianity?

5.  Reflect on the political concerns of the two Methodist churches in Florida.  What do the Florida congregations suggest about the role of religion in public life?

6.  Do you think the "left-right" paradigm works for American religion?  Why or why not?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Chapter 16. Transforming Congregations

"This is a jazz church ... Not just improvisation, but jazz in the sense that jazz pulls in all styles of music.  You have to listen to everything.  You become a better player.  It comes out in your music."
p. 247 in Christianity for the Rest of Us

1.  How might your congregation respond if your minister preached a sermon like Bruce Freeman's?  As a community, do you welcome change?  Fear it?  Avoid it?

2.  What do you think about the possibility of your congregation experiencing metanoia?

3.  Of the churches described in this chapter, which would you most like to join?  Why?

4.  If your church was not called by its current name (for example, "First Presbyterian," "Our Savior," or "St. Mary's"), what might it be called?  Pick a name that fits with its identity and share with the group the reasons for choosing it.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Labyrinth at St. Francis of Assisi

Mary (Zorro) searched out this labyrinth at an Episcopal church in Ooltewah, across town from where I live.  She and Donna (AuntyDon) and I arranged to meet there Friday morning to walk the labyrinth.  As we walked in silence, I collected a small pinecone that had fallen onto the sandy path among the brown leaves, and I saw Donna bend down to touch the black stones of a tile in the next picture.

These three stone tiles were placed at the beginning (which is also the end) of the path we walked.  The Alpha and Omega are separated by a tile showing a cross with a colorful glass (?) center.  All were designed with smooth inlaid stones.  If you were to walk across these tiles, rather than following the brick-outlined path, you'd be going straight into the center of the labyrinth...

...which is here.  Yesterday was a chilly morning, as you can see by the jackets.  Mary and Donna are standing at "9 o'clock" and "12 o'clock" on the cross in the center, meditating.  Mary looked up, Donna looked down, and I looked at my viewfinder to snap this picture before taking my place at the "3 o'clock" arm of this cross.  The entrance/exit for the center was at "6 o'clock" in line with Donna.

Mary approaches the end of "unwinding" herself out of the labyrinth.  (See those three white tiles?)  Later, she suggested we should write a booklet telling people how to pray the labyrinth.  Donna pointed out what she read at the St. Paul labyrinth, that there's no one right way to walk a labyrinth.  This is quoted from the handout we picked up there:
Unlike a maze, a labyrinth offers no tricks, puzzles, or dead-ends.  The design forms a winding unicursal path which leads toward the center and back out again.  This sacred path in a sacred circle simply leads to a deeper connection to God, others, and ourselves. ... There is no right or wrong way to walk the labyrinth.  Walk with an open mind and an open heart and receive whatever is there for you.  Release your expectations.  Focus on your breath.  Find your own individual pace.  There is one way in and one way out.  Those going in will meet those coming out.  You may "pass" others on the path or allow them to step around you.  Do whatever comes naturally.  Use everything as a metaphor.
We three met in the middle and walked out from that center separately, no one close to another except when we passed on adjacent parts of the path.

We ended our time together at Cracker Barrel, eating and having a theological conversation that lasted a couple of hours.  Mary's daughter Cori met us for lunch, and she's the one who took this photo of the three muskateers I mean, the three book buddies.  If you click twice on these photos, you can enlarge them to see more details.  You may even be able to read the quote on my tee-shirt:
"Well behaved women rarely make history."

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Chapter 15. Transforming Lives

"Paul may have been stopped in his tracks on the road to Damascus, but it took three years of living in Christian community and learning its practices for him to be fully changed" (p. 222).
1.  What do you think about Bernard's story?  How might your church respond if Bernard and Catherine had walked in the front door?

2.  What do you think about the word conversion?

3.  Which of the metanoia stories presented in this chapter speaks most strongly to you?  Why?