Book Study Lessons

Below are the Book Study Lessons from our Tuesday Study Group that I have been able to upload to this site.

The Carols of ChristmasAlan Vermilye

In The Carols of Christmas, Alan Vermilye takes us through four well-known Christmas carols (one per week), providing us with a short history of the carol and a daily devotional about the respective carol. The carols being sung and discussed are O Holy NightI Heard the Bells on Christmas DayO Little Town of Bethlehem, and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. This Advent study covers four weeks.

Parables of Kingdom, Grace, Judgment Rev. Robert F. Capon

In his book, Kingdom, Grace, Judgment – Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of JesusRev. Robert F. Capon takes us on a unique and adventurous look at Jesus’ parables in the larger light of their entire gospel and biblical context. Rev. Capon reminds us that when we begin to dig deeper into the actual parables themselves, we begin to realize that they are strange, bizarre, complex, and disturbing. They are not tidy moralistic stories, but try to upend tidy moralistic notions. Bad people get rewarded, good people are scolded, God is often compared to an irritable person, fairness is absent, and the idea of who should be first or be rewarded is turned upside down. The very purpose of the parables, it appears, is not to be nice but to disturb our religious understandings and that is a challenge.  As a companion to this study, I have used the blog posts of the Rev. Aiden Kimel at Eclectic Orthodoxy. This study covers approximately ten weeks.

Living His StoryRev. Hannah Steele

In Living His Story (the Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2021 Lenten Study), the Rev. Dr. Hannah Steele explores evangelism as a way of sharing God’s love with our neighbors in a post-Christian world. Evangelism is an invitation to others to switch stories and therefore to a changed life. Lent is the ideal time for us to recover and relearn our story so that we are then prepared to share the Good News of Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday. This Lenten study covers seven weeks.

The Screwtape Letters C. S. Lewis

In his book, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis gives us an account of our human condition from the perspective of a demon named Screwtape. The demon’s accounts are found in a series of letters written to his younger nephew Wormwood on how best to tempt a British man, called “the Patient,” into sin and, eventually, into Hell. Wormwood is an inexperienced devil, and Screwtape shares with Wormwood his knowledge, experience, and skill derived from his many years of tempting humans to abandon God. In preparation for the weekly gatherings, I have used a Study Guide created by the C.S. Lewis Foundation, the Spark Notes on the book, and a Study Guide of discussion questions by Alan Vermilye. John Cleese’s reading of the book is brilliant. This study covers eight weeks.

Everywhere Present Fr. Stephen Freeman

In his book, Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey UniverseFr. Stephen Freeman (OCA) seeks to awaken us to the Reality of God’s living and active presence in our lives. God is not confined in a heaven distanced from our present existence or only found at the end of time but is truly transformingly present in the here and now. We simply must open our eyes. This Eastertide study covers six weeks.

The Gospel According to Johnny CashDr. Richard Beck

In this study we read through Richard Beck’s book Trains, Jesus, and Murder – The Gospel According to Johnny Cash. The book grew out of a bible study Beck leads at a local maximum-security prison. In the book, Beck shows us how Cash, like Jesus, brings us into the presence of the marginalized and forgotten people of our society – the imprisoned, the heartbroken, the beaten down, Native Americans, common laborers, drug addicts and those who have never felt the love of Jesus. For the men that Cash sang to and about or the men that Beck leads in bible study, sin and its consequences and the promise of one-day being free are not theoretical ideas to be discussed, but an ever-present reality that is lived. In many ways, Cash’s songs are a psalmody for our time. This Epiphany study covers seven weeks.

Being Disciples Archbishop Rowan Williams

In his book, Being Disciples – Essential of the Christian Life, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams gives us a series of short reflections calling us into the slow, deep simplicity of living into discipleship. It is a beautifully written contemplative book guiding us in the ways to become more like the One whom we worship. This Lenten study covers six weeks.

Works of Love Søren Kierkegaard

In this study, we read through abridged excerpts of Søren Kierkegaard’s book Works of Love as found in Provocation – The Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard. Here Kierkegaard explores the outworkings of the duty to love your neighbor as yourself. I have personally found these excerpts to be the most profound discussion on this greatest commandment. This lesson cover four weeks.

Immortal Diamond Fr. Richard Rohr

In his book, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self, Fr. Richard Rohr writes about personal transformation and how the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is not simply a historical event but is a present reality in which we are all called to participate. As Paul writes, we are crucified with Christ and Christ was raised from the dead so that we too might walk in a new and transformed life. Rom 6:4-11. Particularly during the Easter season, we are called to die to our old ego-centric “False Self,” and be resurrected and transformed into a new Christ-centric “True Self.”  It is this Christ-centric True Self that is Rohr’s Immortal Diamond. This Eastertide study covers six weeks.

Bad Girls of the Bible – Liz Curtis Higgs

In her book, Bad Girls of the Bible – And What We Can Learn from Them, Liz Curtis Higgs takes us on a wonderful adventure looking at the ten best-known femmes fatales found in Scripture. Mrs. Higgs has a wonderful insight into these women and their struggles and personalities, and what they can teach us today. Her blog on this book is HERE. This Epiphany study covers eight to ten weeks.

Ponder These Things: Praying With Icons of the Virgin – An Advent Study with Abp. Rowan Willams

In his book Ponder These Things: Praying with Icons of the Virgin, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams invites us to explore and reflect on the depths of meaning in three classic icons of the Virgin and her child from the Eastern Christian tradition. Advent is the ideal time to engage with the Holy Mother of God for it is through her that the Incarnation occurs. This Advent study covers one to two weeks.