Reading with Spiritual Eyes
Join us for a book club with a difference!
Each school term we choose a book of fiction to be read by participants, and then we meet in the Edwards Hall adjacent to the Cathedral Bookshop for 90 minutes (6.00—7.30pm) to discuss the chosen book and reflect on ways in which this book engages with our spiritual wisdom.
The dates for our meetings in 2020 are:
The program was initiated by the Roscoe Library at St Francis Theological College in Brisbane, and for the most part we simply follow their choice of book.
When we gather to discuss the book, different members of the community formed around this project will take turns in facilitating the discussion.
For the first school term of 2020, the chosen book is:
Damascus by Christos Tsiolkas
Our book club event to discuss this book from a spiritual perspective is scheduled for Tuesday, March 31 at 6.00pm. Please bring a plate of some light food to share.
Copies of the book will be available for purchase through the Cathedral Bookshop.
The book is also available in digital editions, including Apple Books and Kindle.
Joining us? Great! Please register by email so that we can send you additional resources, as well as details of the online discussion and the arrangements for the group gathering.
The following description of the Reading with Spiritual Eyes program is from the Roscoe Library web site:
The Roscoe Library has started a book club, Reading with Spiritual Eyes, based on works of fiction. Aligning with school terms, the idea is to explore four books per year, with your group of friends, work colleagues, or parishioners. Generic questions are provided below to assist with your discussions. Although we’re hoping that groups will gather to discuss their insights, individuals are not precluded from being involved. Toward the end of term, there will be an opportunity to gather at the Roscoe Library for further discussion, refreshments and to ‘launch’ the next book.
Alison Sampson [A Good Book Can Stir Us into Love,” Zadok Perspectives, no. 121 (2013): 3.] captures the essence of why we believe this will add value to people’s lives when she writes:
Why read fiction? It’s often thought of as an escape, and sometimes it is; but good fiction is much more than that. A well-crafted story takes you into the mind of another; it gives you a different perspective; it holds up a mirror to yourself; it reveals the society we live in; it invites the reader to find compassion, or possibility, or hope.
… Unless we make conscious decisions to spend time with all sorts of people, we can easily assume that our way of life is the norm; other lives become invisible. Worse, when everything is going swimmingly, we can become complacent, even cruelly indifferent, towards others whose lives are not so easy.
A good piece of fiction is a powerful antidote. Immersed in a story, I find myself living another life. I might get a glimpse of what it is like to work alone at night, or lose a child, or have a differently wired brain. I might see, for a moment, through the eyes of a sex worker, or an asylum seeker, or a lowly hospital orderly who must exercise a moral choice. I might recognise myself in a story, and find it challenging.
When I raise my eyes from the page, things look a little different: sometimes bigger, sometimes bleaker, sometimes more hopeful. My place in the world shifts, too, because when I see through the eyes of another as I read, it becomes easier to see through the eyes of those I encounter every day; when I recognise myself in a story, I may feel compelled to live differently. A really good book can help heal my heart of stone, show me the path to compassion, and stir me into love.
Suggested questions to guide our group’s discussion …
Is this a book that you would have chosen to read had it not been suggested by this book club?
Do you identify strongly with any of the main characters and, if so, why?
How do you feel the characters responded to the situations with which they were presented?
Did you find this book related to any of your own life experiences?
What key events stood out to you, and why?
Where is God in this book?
Do you consider that this book provides opportunities for spiritual growth and reflection?
Are there any theological themes present? If so, what did you think of their use?
What, if anything, did you find confronting?
How did you feel about the ending of the book? Satisfied? Frustrated? Irritated? Disappointed? Inspired?
To whom would you recommend this book?