Book Club

Soul Repair by Rita Brock & Gabriella Lettini

The subtitle of this book is "Recovering From Moral Injury After War".  It follows several people who were in the Army and Marines (foot soldiers, a chaplain and a man attached to a missile unit).  It tells how they got into the service, their experiences there and what it was like when they got out.  There is also a lot of commentary on war and its affects on those who participate in it.  The focus of the book is on the toll that it takes on the soldiers' sense of morality.  We have and always have had, people in our society who have been in this situation.  And suicides and PTSD are not uncommon among them.  We need to do a better job of understanding what they are going through and how to support them as they try to deal with it.  We also need to do a better job of understanding war and its' costs.

1. What is Moral Injury?

2. What is selective conscientious objection?

3. Why do most soldiers enlist?

4. What are some of the positive things that soldiers experience?

5. What are some of the negative things?

6. Is "Thank you for your service" a good response?

7. Is the toll on our troops justified by winning the war?

 

Love Casts Out Fear by Brother Nathan

Brother Nathan is an Egyptian Christian.  He is well known as an educator and a speaker.  He and his father were very close when he was young.  Then, when still a young boy, his father was assassinated right in front of him by terrorists.  He vowed to find the man who killed his father and kill him.  He says that for several years there were two Nathans.  One was a good Christian and the other was bent on revenge.  Then he accepted Jesus as his savior and he gave up his desire for revenge.  He went on to become an educator and a speaker.

1. How old was Nathan when his father was killed?

2. How old was he when he accepted Jesus?

3. What happened to his family after his father was killed?

4. Did he and his wife and children stay in Egypt?

5. Where in the Bible does the title of this book come from?

6. Do you think love is the answer to terrorism and the cycle of revenge?

America And Its Guns by James Atwood

The author was a Presbyterian minister in Virginia and he is an avid hunter.  He presents a theological approach to this problem.  We have all heard a lot about it, but there are some new and interesting things to be learned from this book.  He talks about violence, idols and laws.  Obviously this is not an easy problem to deal with, but it is a major part of our culture.  Sober and mature thought and action are required.

1. Are guns purely a political matter (spiritual, psychological, ethical)?

2. What happened to the NRA in 1977?

3. What do you think of the argument that people need guns to fight back in case the government runs amok?

4. What do you think of the argument that people need guns for self-protection?

5. How does the author feel about "redemptive violence"?

6. What does the author say about guns in the Old West?

7. How could the gun be an idol?

8. Do the majority of people in the US favor some kind of gun control?

9. What is the story of gun control laws?

10. Is physical power (ie a gun) the most important thing in our society?

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

The author was born and raised in Ohio but his family was from Kentucky.  He was a member of the poor, white, working class and he lived in the Appalachian culture.  This book is part biography and part analysis of the psychological and social factors affecting these people.  They have a lot of problems and he endeavors to explain why.  He describes his childhood, which was traumatic.  At one point he thought his mother was going to kill him.  But a stranger took him in and protested him until the police arrived.  He also tells about his grandmother, Mamaw, who was very important in his life.   Eventually he enlisted in the Marine Corps, and graduated from Ohio State University and Yale Law School.  He now works at an investment firm and lives in San Francisco with his wife and two dogs.  This is a book about "the forgotten people" who were brought to national attention in the last political campaign.  It is a gripping and informative book by an intelligent and perceptive person.

1. What is an "elegy"?

2. What was Mamaw famous for?

3. Why was she so important in J.D.'s life?

4. What did he learn in the Marines?

5. What did he learn at Yale?

6. How can we begin to heal the cultural divide that currently exists?

Assimilate Or Go Home by D.L. Mayfield

The author grew up reading stories about great missionaries and she wanted to be one.  She attended a Bible College and when she got out, she started working with a group of refugees from Somalia.  She didn't convert anyone.  Things did not go as she thought they would.  Eventually she became very discouraged.  She persisted in visiting people who were now her friends and did what she could to be of use.  She baked a lot of cakes.  It took several years, but eventually she gained a deeper understanding of God's love and grace.  She gave up trying to be a savior and became a better Christian.

1. Does it make a difference where the refugees came from?

2. What difference did her persistence make?

3. What role does poverty make in the lives of refugees?

4. What was the lesson of the "life lists"?

5. What was the lesson of the cookies?

6. How do you feel about refugees?

 

One Imperfect Christmas by Myra Johnson

Natalie Pearce has a tough year.  The story begins just before Natalie's mother has a stroke and Natalie blames herself for not being there.  As the year progresses, she separates from her husband and becomes estranged from her daughter.  Then things start to go wrong at work.  Spoiler alert - there is a happy ending.  But you have to wade through a lot of grief to get there.  It is a good read; and a good Christmas story.

1. Merry Christmas!