August Book Club
6:00 PM, August 19, 2021

 

Lenny Duncan is the unlikeliest of pastors. Formerly incarcerated, he is now a black preacher in the whitest denomination in the United States: the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Shifting demographics and shrinking congregations make all the headlines, but Duncan sees something else at work -- drawing a direct line between the church's lack of diversity and the church's lack of vitality. The problems the ELCA faces are theological, not sociological. But so are the answers.
Part manifesto, part confession, and all love letter, Dear Church offers a bold new vision for the future of Duncan's denomination and the broader mainline Christian community of faith. Dear Church rejects the narrative of church decline and calls everyone -- leaders and laity alike -- to the front lines of the church's renewal through racial equality and justice.
It is time for the church to rise up, dust itself off, and take on forces of this world that act against God: whiteness, misogyny, nationalism, homophobia, and economic injustice. Duncan gives a blueprint for the way forward and urges us to follow in the revolutionary path of Jesus.
Dear Church also features a discussion guide at the back -- perfect for church groups, book clubs, and other group discussion.

The next 2 books being considered for September and October are  Freeing Jesus, by Diana Butler Bass, and Faith after Doubt, by Brian McLaren.

Here is the overview:

In Freeing Jesus, Bass challenges the idea that Jesus can only be understood in static, one-dimensional ways and asks us to instead consider a life where Jesus grows with us and helps us through life’s challenges in several capacities: as Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord, Way, and Presence. 
Freeing Jesus is an invitation to leave the religious wars behind and rediscover Jesus in all his many manifestations, to experience Jesus beyond the narrow confines we have built around him. It renews our hope in faith and worship at a time when we need it most.

About the author:
Diana Butler Bass is an award-winning author, popular speaker, inspiring preacher, and one of America’s most trusted commentators on religion and contemporary spirituality, especially where faith intersects with politics and culture.

She holds a doctorate in religious studies from Duke University. Her bylines include The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN.com, Atlantic.com, USA Today, Huffington Post, Christian Century, and Sojourners. She has commented in the media widely including on CBS, CNN, PBS, NPR, CBC, FOX, Sirius XM, TIME, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, and in multiple global news outlets. In the 1990s, she wrote a weekly column on religion and culture for the Santa Barbara News-Press, which was distributed nationally by the New York Times Syndicate.

Here is the overview of the second book:

Using his own story and the stories of a diverse group of struggling believers, Brian D. McLaren, a former pastor and now an author, speaker, and activist shows how old assumptions are being challenged in nearly every area of human life, not just theology and spirituality. He proposes a four-stage model of faith development in which questions and doubt are not the enemy of faith, but rather a portal to a more mature and fruitful kind of faith. The four stages―Simplicity, Complexity, Perplexity, and Harmony―offer a path forward that can help sincere and thoughtful people leave behind unnecessary baggage and intensify their commitment to what matters most.

About the Author
A former college English teacher, Brian D. McLaren was a pastor for twenty-four years. Now he’s an author, activist, public theologian, and frequent guest lecturer for gatherings in the U.S. and internationally. His work has been covered in TIME Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and many other media outlets. The author of more than 15 books, including Faith After Doubt and the award-winning A New Kind of Christian, he is a faculty member of The Living School at the Center for Action and Contemplation. McLaren lives in Florida.
 

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