Every year Senior Minister Rev. Patricia Farris selects a collection of seven books that make up the Loving God with Our Minds Book Study series. The books are chosen because they are thought-provoking, controversial, and illuminating. The goal is to grow our minds as we deepen our faith. All are invited for a potluck lunch and lively discussion!

Past events:

2018/2019 Book Study Schedule

September 23
Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship
By Greg Boyle

October 28
Future Faith: Ten Challenges Reshaping Christianity in the 21st Century
By Wesley Granberg-Michaelson

January 27
Embracing the Wideness: The Shared Convictions of The United Methodist Church
By Kenneth H. Jr. Carter

February 17* Note the date change
Together At the Table: Diversity Without Division in The UMC
By Karen P. Oliveto

March 24
Saved By Faith and Hospitality
By Joshua W. Kipp

April 28
The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World
By Bart D. Ehrman

Most books listed below are available in the church library for borrowing.  Contact the church office for more information (310) 393-8258.

Hallelujah Anyway: Discovering Mercy
By Anne Lamott

Days of Awe and Wonder: How to be a Christian in the 21st Century
By Marcus Borg

And God Said: How Translations Conceal the Bible’s Original Meaning
By Joel M. Hoffman
Special Guest Discussion Leader Rabbi Jeff Marx

The Sin of Certainty: Why God Desires our Trust more than our “Correct” Beliefs
By Peter Enns

Rebuilding the Foundations: Social Relationships in Ancient Scripture and Contemporary Culture
By John Brueggemann and Walter Brueggemann

Muslims and the Making of America by Amir Hussain

Did you know that there has never been an America without Muslims? Or that the first country to recognize the new United States was Morocco? Or that Thomas Jefferson studied Arabic and owned a Quran? Amir Hussain’s Muslims and the Making of America, written in a conversational tone, may well open our eyes to many things we should know to be able to contribute in an informed way to the current debate about Muslims in our country. Dr. Hussain, Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount, led our discussion of this important and timely book. 

How Jesus Saves the World From Us: 12 Antidotes to Toxic Christianity
By: Morgan Guyton

Christianity has always been about being saved. But today what Christians need saving from most is the toxic understanding of salvation we’ve received through bad theology. The loudest voices in Christianity today sound exactly like the religious authorities who crucified Jesus.

This is a book for Christians who are troubled by what we’ve become and who want Jesus to save us from the toxic behaviors and attitudes we’ve embraced. Each of the 12 chapters proposes an antidote for the toxicity that has infiltrated Christian culture, such as “Worship not Performance, “Temple not Program,” and “Solidarity not Sanctimony.” Each chapter includes thought-provoking discussion questions, perfect for individual or group study.

There are many reasons to lose hope about the state of our world and our church, but Guyton offers one piece of good news: Jesus is saving the world from us, one Christian at a time.


Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? …and Other Questions from the Astronomers’ In-Box at the Vatican Observatory
By: Guy Consolmagno, SJ and Paul Mueller, SJ

Witty and thought provoking, two Vatican astronomers shed provocative light on some of the strange places where religion and science meet.

indexNot In God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence
by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

In this powerful and timely book, one of the most admired and authoritative religious leaders of our time tackles the phenomenon of religious extremism and violence committed in the name of God….

PrintJesus’ Abba: The God Who Has Not Failed
by John Cobb

The church has emphasized ideas about God that have marginalized Jesus’ understanding of his spiritual Father, his Abba. We commonly think of God as a….

418jnhlonhl-_ac_us160_Public Faith in Action: How to Think Carefully, Engage Wisely, and Vote with Integrity

by Miroslav Volf and Ryan McAnnalkly-Linz
Christian citizens have a responsibility to make political and ethical judgments in light of their faith and to participate in the public lives of their communities–from their local neighborhoods to the national scene…

2016 feb may book study

Ferguson & Faith: Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community by Leah Gunning Francis

The shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, reignited a long-smoldering movement for justice, with many St. Louis-area clergy stepping up to support the emerging young leaders of today’s Civil Rights Movement. Seminary professor Leah Gunning Francis was among the activists, and her interviews with more than two dozen faith leaders and with the new movement’s organizers take us behind the scenes of the continuing protests.


Committee on Faith and Order, The United Methodist Church paper: “Wonder, Love and Praise: Sharing a Vision of the Church” (A statement on ecclesiology proposed to the 2016 General Conference.)
Click here to download.

Five Faces of Ministry book cover

Rev. Farris’ new book, Five Faces of Ministry, explores the roles each clergy-person must play. The book is organized into brief reflections, each focused on an aspect of ministry. Included are stories from her own life and ministry, and from others’, making this a tremendously versatile and engaging read. Available in the church office and at the Sunday Hospitality Table, and will be the October Book Study/Potluck feature book.

january book study 2016

Short Stories: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi by Amy-Jill Levine

New Testament and Jewish Studies Professor, Levine writes: “Jesus was requiring that his disciples do more than listen; he was asking them to think as well. What makes the parables mysterious, or difficult, is that they challenge us to look into the hidden aspects of our own values, our own lives.”

november 2015 book study cover dare we speak of hope

Dare We Speak of Hope? Searching for a Language of Life in Faith and Politics by Allan Aubrey Boesak

As the Advent season begins and we ponder anew all that Christ’s birth means for our lives and for this world, let’s hear from theologian and South African witness for justice, Allan Boesak.

book-study-popeOn Care for Our Common Home (Laudato Si)
by Pope Francis

Pope Francis’ second Encyclical is written for all Christians, indeed for all people, to draw us into discussion, reflection, and prayer about “our common home,” Planet Earth.  Drawing on the writings of St. Francis of Assisi, Scripture, church teaching, and science, this chemist become priest become Pope has provoked considerable reaction and response.  This is a call to action on behalf of the earth, all its creatures, and especially the poor and most vulnerable.

forgivingThe Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World by Desmond Tutu & Mpho Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Chair of The Elders, and Chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, along with his daughter, the Reverend Mpho Tutu, offer a manual on the art of forgiveness—helping us to realize that we are all capable of healing and transformation.

convvictionsConvictions: How I Learned What Matters Most by Marcus J. Borg

On the occasion of his 70th birthday, the renowned Marcus J. Borg shares his “convictions” about Christianity and America, contending that they are both at their best when they focus on hope and transformation. Reflecting on what matters most, both for the church and for Americans, leading biblical scholar and premiere teacher for Protestant churches Marcus Borg surveys the most significant conversations and personalities that shaped his life, and presents his convictions about the faith and it’s role in the twenty-first century.

christ-actuallyChrist Actually: The Son of God for the Secular Age by James Carroll

Critically acclaimed and bestselling author James Carroll has explored every aspect of Christianity, faith, and Jesus Christ except this central one: What can we believe about—and how can we believe in—Jesus in the twenty-first century in light of the Holocaust and other atrocities of the twentieth century and the drift from religion that followed?

sabbathSabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now by Walter Brueggemann

Discussions about the Sabbath often center around moralistic laws and arguments over whether a person should be able to play cards or purchase liquor on Sundays. In this volume, popular author Walter Brueggemann writes that the Sabbath is not simply about keeping rules but rather about becoming a whole person and restoring a whole society. Importantly, Brueggemann speaks to a 24/7 society of consumption, a society in which we live to achieve, accomplish, perform, and possess. We want more, own more, use more, eat more, and drink more. Keeping the Sabbath allows us to break this restless cycle and focus on what is truly important: God, other people, all life….

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