Christian Goodreaders discussion

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message 1: by Werner (last edited Jun 10, 2013 10:02AM) (new)

Werner | 1532 comments Jon and I have recently kicked around the idea of doing a common read in this group of a Christian nonfiction book, on some serious issue that has to do with our impacting the world we live in as Christians, or with becoming more Biblically faithful and intentionally Christian in our personal or common lives. So, I've posted a poll here on our group homepage (just click the Polls link), to see how much interest there might be in doing something like this in September. (That would give us July to brainstorm on this thread about what to read, the early part of August to do a poll to select the book, and the rest of the time until September for everyone who wants to take part to secure a copy of the book.)

This idea was born of my conviction that a group like ours --which brings together Christians, from a wide veriety of denominations and traditions, who are serious about the faith and comfortable with books and ideas-- is an ideal forum for common reflection about how we can, as a body of Christ in this very fallen world, be more faithful to our Christian calling and have more impact on our culture. (If we decide to do a common read like this and people find it helpful, I'd like to make it an annual thing!)


message 2: by Banner (new)

Banner Sounds like a great idea. I like the themes you suggested.


message 3: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1532 comments Thanks, Banner!

One person asked for a link to the poll. Here it is: www.goodreads.com/poll/list/1066-chri... .


message 4: by Ron (new)

Ron | 68 comments Found it. Thanks.


message 5: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1532 comments You're welcome, Ron. I'm delighted to see that we've got seven votes already!


message 6: by Ron (new)

Ron | 68 comments Shows a commendable level of interest. (Or folks without a life.)


message 7: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1532 comments One of our responders expressed a preference for reading a fiction book as a common read, rather than nonfiction. When Jon and I were messaging each other earlier, she broached the idea of a twice-yearly read. If we go that route, maybe we could have one read for nonfiction and one for fiction. (A number of Christian fiction books are issue-oriented, and actually could spark some of the same kinds of serious discussions that were mentioned in the posts above.)


message 8: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1532 comments Our poll results are now in: 11 people voted yes to the idea of a common read of a Christian nonfiction book, as described in message 1, in September, and 21 more might be willing, depending on what book we choose. Only three others expressed a preference for a fiction read instead; and one person might be interested at a different time (but didn't specify the time). There were no votes at all for the unqualified "no" option. So, I'd say we have a mandate to pursue this idea!

Obviously, what we choose to read will be the main determiner of participation for the largest number of people. Relative to that, my feeling (for whatever it's worth) is that participation in the discussion should be open to everyone who's already read the chosen book and remembers it well enough to take part intelligently; in that case, you shouldn't have to reread the book, unless you want to. Also, for the benefit of those who might have to depend on interlibrary loan to get their copy of the book, it would be best NOT to pick a very recent book (one published this year, or late last year); many libraries won't loan books that new to other libraries, although there are some that will. My suggestion is that we spend this month brainstorming, here on this thread, about what to read, and try to narrow our suggestions down to half a dozen titles or less. Then I'll post a poll in the early part of August to make the selection. That will give everybody who wants to take part the later weeks of August to get their hands on a copy, so we can be raring to go on Sept. 1!


message 9: by Banner (new)

Banner I'm happy that we are pursuing a group read. Before I make some suggestions, I will say I'm open to try just about anything.

The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming
The Four Loves

And just in case we want to consider a fiction...

City of Tranquil Light

I just thought I would get the ball rolling with these ideas. But I'm also looking forward to seeing other suggestions.


message 10: by John (new)

John | 1 comments I would like to suggest Being the Body by Charles Colson

I was thinking of nominating an apologetics book, but I figured that would be preaching to the choir in this setting.


message 11: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1532 comments Good suggestions so far! Colson's Being the Body sounds like exactly the sort of book I had in mind when I suggested this. The college library where I work has the first edition, The Body (1992); but I really think we'd be justified in getting the newer edition. (In fact, we may have a donated copy waiting to be cataloged; it sounds familiar!) So I'd be very willing to go along with that suggestion.


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 409 comments I read The Body when it came out and have The Body on my shelf but haven't read it. I keep "meaning to".


message 13: by Werner (last edited Jul 17, 2013 09:08AM) (new)

Werner | 1532 comments Mike, my understanding is that the newer edition has significantly updated content. So that's the one we'll read, if the group opts for that.

So far, our suggestions are Being the Body; C. S. Lewis' The Four Loves; and Henri Nouwen's The Return of the Prodigal Son. Do we feel any need to add to that list of suggestions? I won't post the poll until next month; but if we can already narrow our choices down to three, that's fine with me!


message 14: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Jul 17, 2013 09:15AM) (new)

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 409 comments I've read the first 2 (I've read The Four Loves several times. It's got a lot of depth). I look forward to the poll.

Remind me, LOL.

My favorite would have to be The Great Divorce if you'd like to include it.


message 15: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1532 comments Will do, Mike! I'll try to send out a general message to the whole group with an invitation to vote.


message 16: by Werner (last edited Aug 02, 2013 09:19AM) (new)

Werner | 1532 comments The poll went up a couple of minutes ago, and a general invitation to all members to vote was sent just now! I hope everyone who's interested in taking part will help choose the book.

Because Goodreads includes every edition of the same book on one record, Being the Body is listed on the poll under the title of the older first edition, The Body. Note, however, that (if this is the book that's picked) we'd actually be reading the newer revised edition!


message 17: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1532 comments The poll results are in, and we have a tie --actually, two ties. The Great Divorce and The Return of the Prodigal Son are tied for first place, with 12 votes each, while Being the Body and The Four Loves have five votes apiece.

We'll need to have a run-off poll between the top two. It's up already, and will run for one week, until next Monday. This evening, I'll try to send out a general invitation to vote.


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 409 comments I see a 17 to 17 tie in our future. ;)


message 19: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1532 comments Actually, Mike, in all the time I've been on Goodreads (and I joined early in 2008) this is the first time a group I've been in came up tied on a poll for selecting a common read. It's not really a very common occurrence, so we can hope it was just a fluke this time. :-)


message 20: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1532 comments The poll results are in, and this time we have a clear winner: The Great Divorce, with 14 votes, to nine votes for The Return of the Prodigal Son. That should give everyone who wants to participate a chance to snag a copy of the book (unless you already own one). We'll try to start our discussion around the beginning of September!


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 409 comments ...remind me....:)


message 22: by Werner (last edited Aug 19, 2013 05:55PM) (new)

Werner | 1532 comments Will do, Mike! (I'll post on this thread again at the beginning of September, if I don't before.)


message 23: by Banner (new)

Banner I'm looking forward to reading this again.


message 24: by Jon (new)

Jon (jonmoss) | 111 comments I'm looking forward to reading another C.S. Lewis, one I haven't read before.

Blessings, Jon


message 25: by Ron (new)

Ron | 68 comments You might enjoy Till We Have Faces or The Problem of Pain.

I can bring either/both in October.


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 409 comments Depends on what you're looking for. I like most all Lewis' writings, though of course they range from science fiction and fantasy to some intense apologetics. Have you read The Screwtape Letters?


message 27: by Ceoceo (new)

Ceoceo | 2 comments I recommend a CS Lewis title: Mere Christianity


message 28: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1532 comments Thanks, Ceoceo; but we actually started a common read of The Great Divorce at the beginning of this month. I'd meant to post a reminder of that on this thread at that time, but it slipped my mind --sorry!


message 29: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1532 comments Last summer, when I started this thread, I mentioned in message 1 that I'd like to see a September common read become an annual event in this group. (As I said then, what I'm really interested in doing is reading and discussing nonfiction books that use this group's potential to reflect on serious practical topics that are important for the quality of our faithfulness and witness in the world we're living in.) How do you all feel about doing another common read in September? If we do that, July is the best time to brainstorm about what to read, and identify titles for the poll.

A book I'd like to nominate is The Same Sex Controversy: Defending and Clarifying the Bible's Message about Homosexuality --not because I know anything about the quality of its argumentation (I've never read it), but because it would be bound to focus our thought and discussion on what has become one of the most crucial issues facing the Christian church today; and focus on it particularly in the light (which is critically important, IMO) of Biblical teaching.


message 30: by Janelle (new)

Janelle (janelleb) | 561 comments I'd be happy to join in on a common read again.


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 409 comments I won't promise but I'll say I'd be open to it. It sort of depends on what else is going on.

So far as the book you mentioned... It's a topic that has come to the fore lately and being a pastor it's one I've already had to address and come to terms with. It will be sensitive.


message 32: by Ron (new)

Ron | 68 comments I'm amenable.


message 33: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1532 comments Mike wrote: "It sort of depends on what else is going on." That's true for most of us, I think, in every case where groups that we're in do common reads. That's why I firmly believe that participation should always be strictly voluntary, never required.

There's no question that the topic mentioned above is sensitive. But I'm convinced that if Christians are too paralyzed by fear to openly discuss sensitive topics that are at the fore, our walk of faith is lacking something very crucial.

Janelle and Ron, glad to know that you're interested!


message 34: by Banner (new)

Banner I would enjoy a common read. I'm going to give my nomination some more thought.


message 35: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1532 comments Sounds good, Banner!


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 409 comments Are you/we looking for a specific theme or anything????


message 37: by Ron (new)

Ron | 68 comments I would also nominate the newly published Beowulf by J. R. R. Tolkien.


message 38: by Werner (last edited Sep 01, 2014 07:46PM) (new)

Werner | 1532 comments No, Mike, I'm not looking for any specific theme or topic. What I am hoping for is a read that could make some constructive, practical difference in how we actually live our individual and common Christian lives in this world, or how we witness to our fellow humans, rather than a read that has no real effect except on our abstract thoughts. (Sorry I didn't reply sooner, I thought I had, but I evidently didn't click on "post!")


message 39: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1532 comments Ron, Beowulf is one of too many classics I have to admit that I still haven't read (though I read parts of it in high school, in modern English translation, and listened to part of it in Old English back in the 90s). While it's not officially on my to-read shelf, I'd like to read it sometime.

Dating as it does from a time when the influence of Christianity had already had significant effect on the northern European world (though it probably preserves oral storytelling that's much older), this epic definitely has some Christian elements; but it's not usually thought of as a "Christian classic" in the way that, say, The Pilgrim's Progress or Paradise Lost are. Granted, though, in this group we don't confine our scope just to works by Christians, or to "religious" books; we're free to explore the whole spectrum of literature, from a Christian perspective, which is one thing I especially like about our group. Ron, why did this one strike you as a particularly appropriate read for our particular group?


message 40: by Ron (new)

Ron | 68 comments You're right. It was written by a Christian, but the basic tale is pagan. That plus Tolkien's discussion of the interweaving of Christian and pagan elements is interesting, especially as society today seems to be going the opposite direction. Such that modern non-Christian readers don't "get" the Christian themes of many of those Christian classics.


message 41: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1532 comments Ron, the Goodreads database lists at least 442 editions or translations of Beowulf. The one you mentioned, Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary, is apparently a separate entry, because while it includes Tolkien's translation of the epic itself, most of the book consists of his academic lectures on Beowulf.

Of course, all of the content of the lectures would be fascinating and instructive, and would bring a decidedly Christian perspective to the poem. Did you want that particular book to be the nominee we put in the poll? Or would you favor just making the epic Beowulf itself the nominee, and giving people the option to read it in any translation/edition they choose? I can see where allowing that degree of diversity might increase access to the book; and might stimulate discussion/comparison more than just reading the Tolkien book. But it's your call!


message 42: by Ron (new)

Ron | 68 comments I was thinking of that particular book, but perhaps it's better if we stick to more overtly Christian works.

As you know from my review, I found Tolkien's Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary a fascinating book, but I'm a student of history.

Sorry to confuse the discussion.


message 43: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1532 comments Nah, Ron, you're not confusing the discussion at all; I just wanted to clarify exactly what to put in the poll. We'll go with Tolkien's Beowulf, then. (His Christian bona fides are just fine, as far as I'm concerned.) And whether the group votes to pick that book for the common read or not, I'm thinking it would be a great edition to the Bluefield College library (if it's still in print), since our British literature curriculum includes Beowulf.


message 44: by Ron (new)

Ron | 68 comments It may not be in the college library yet, because it was just printed this year.

It's availability may also weigh against it.


message 45: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1532 comments Ron, I knew we didn't have the Tolkien book in the BC library; but I hadn't looked at the description closely, so didn't realize it was just published this year. I'd really prefer to confine the poll to books that have been out longer, where there's a better chance they'd be available through interlibrary loan. Nobody should have to buy a copy of the book (unless he/she wants to) just in order to take part in a group read, IMO. (That wouldn't prevent us from putting the Beowulf epic itself in the poll, though!)


message 46: by Ron (new)

Ron | 68 comments Agree.


message 47: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1532 comments So far, our kicking around of title suggestions for our projected common read in September has yielded just two suggestions: The Same-Sex Controversy and Beowulf. Are we comfortable as a group with making a choice between just those two selections? (If not, we have more time to brainstorm; I don't plan to put the poll up until the beginning of August.)

More basically, is there anyone who objects to the idea of a common read? (It's not a done deal if the membership of the group opposes the idea!) And does anyone feel that in a large and diverse group, that's striving for an ecumenical membership, we shouldn't discuss substantive issues of doctrine and practice?


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 409 comments I don't object...not sure I'll participate, LOL. I'd suggest that since we don't have like a ,monthly group read we might extend the conversation over a couple of months.


message 49: by Ron (new)

Ron | 68 comments I agree.


message 50: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1532 comments Mike wrote: "...we might extend the conversation over a couple of months." One of my other groups does a common read every October; but the month of November is open. My suggestion would be to change our schedule accordingly, and to do ours (if we do one) in November instead of September. That will allow for a longer period (which I'm all for!) of reflection, conversation, and brain-stormimg.


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