Book Groups Discuss How Their Faith Relates to Literature

Article excerpt

Byline: Laura Zahn Pohl Daily Herald Correspondent

With the prevalence of book groups, it's no surprise that discussion groups focused on faith, fellowship and social justice have also formed in DuPage County.

First United Methodist Church of Glen Ellyn has two groups under way - Faith in Fiction and its women's book group. The Faith in Fiction group primarily reads popular fiction, but considers a faith perspective.

"We discuss our books like any other book group, but we tie in our faith," said Mary Cress of Glen Ellyn. "We ask ourselves, 'Where is our faith in this?' "

Recent selections have included "Madras on Rainy Days" by Samina Ali, "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini, and "The Piano Tuner" by Daniel Mason. The group has been meeting for four years and gathers the second Thursday of the month.

The women's group meets quarterly on Sunday evenings and selects books from a list compiled by the United Methodist Church's women's organization. Each year, the national office issues a list of books in these four categories: education for mission, social action, nurturing for community and spiritual growth.

"Four people in the group select a book, read it and prepare a discussion for the group," said Cheryl Peters of Glen Ellyn.

The books chosen for this year include "I Saw Ramallah" by Mourid Barghouti, "Pigs at the Trough" by Arianna Huffington, "Small Wonder" by Barbara Kingsolver and "Hidden Women of the Gospels" by Kathy Coffey.

"The goal is to broaden our perspectives as a citizen of the world and as a Christian," said Peters.

At Naperville's Grace United Methodist Church, the women's book group has been meeting for 22 years and has logged 247 books. The group doesn't pursue any particular theme in the readings, preferring to seek out good literature. This summer's selections include "The Lady of the Forest" by David Guterson and "The Kitchen Boy" by Robert Alexander.

"When I look through the list of the books we've read, I'm pleased to be part of this group," Abe added.

At Wheaton's St. Paul Lutheran Church, the goal is to enjoy fellowship within a small group setting, said Barb Deli of Wheaton, an organizer of the group three years ago. …