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One Sunday before worship, Lou Lamberty said, “I read God’s Monsters.  I really need to talk about it.”  I had read the book not long before that and mentioned in social media and adult ed and Lou had been intrigued and read it himself.  And much like me, found it a really intense book.  I said I’d figure out a way for us to have the conversation.

Then, Nikki Zimmerman said she read another book I had mentioned, The Meaning of Mary Magdalene.  She also wanted a class about it.

So, that seemed like a good time to bring back something Deb Kirwan had been asking for the last couple of years–the lunchtime theology book discussion I’d been doing pre-Covid.  So, this summer, we’ll have three sessions of the Theology Book Club.

And this time I’m hoping that folks will read the book and be ready to discuss it (though if you want to attend and haven’t read, of course you can do that).

First up is God’s Monsters by Esther J. Hamori.  Last fall The Christian Century ran an excerpt in their October Faith & Horror issue.  I enjoyed that excerpt and ordered the book, not knowing how intense it was going to be in dealing with some of the most difficult passages in the Bible. Here’s a description from the book jacket: “Killer angels, plague demons, manipulative spirits, creatures with an alarming number of wings (and eyes all over)–these shapeshifters and realm-crossers act with stunning brutality, each reflecting a facet of God’s own monstrosity. Confronting God’s monsters–and the God-monster–may be uncomfortable, but the Bible is richer for their presence.”

The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity by Cynthia Bourgeault was recommended to me by my colleague Rev. Debra McKnight.  Bourgeault writes from the wisdom tradition of the church, drawing on the mystics and the non-canonical texts often called the “Gnostic Gospels.”  And from that perspective, she centers Mary and her importance to the Jesus story and the Christian tradition.  I drew upon this book in some of our Lent and Holy Week worship.  You’ll be enticed by new ways of understanding Mary, Jesus, and even these non-canonical gospels.

From the publisher’s description of God Is a Black Woman: “In this timely, much-needed book, theologian, social psychologist, and activist Christena Cleveland recounts her personal journey to dismantle the cultural “whitemalegod” and uncover the Sacred Black Feminine, introducing a Black Female God who imbues us with hope, healing, and liberating presence.”  Theology as personal pilgrimage to undo toxic theology and discover a theology that works.  The book is also a literal journey to visit the Black Madonnas in French parish churches.

I think all three of these will inspire good conversation and new idea for your faith and spirituality.


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First Central Congregational Church