Despite our collective fascination with the digital, church book groups remain a powerful place for formation. Shorter books, conversational in tone, with discussion questions at the end of each chapter work well: Catherine Keller ‘s On the Mystery: Discerning Divinity in Process (Fortress, 2008) is a fine example. Another is Apprenticed to Hope: A Sourcebook for Difficult Times by spiritual director and Hamline professor Julie E. Neraas (Augsburg, 2009). Divided into 32 short chapters with reflection questions, the book is appropriate for small groups on spiritual formation, coping with chronic illness, or grief. The RCC has multiple copies for small group use. Watch Neraas here.
Continuing reading groups for young people in church, with or without family adults, can also be formative. 2012 has been a rich year for children’s books. R.J. Palacio’s Wonder (Knopf) concerns the bullying of a boy with severe facial deformities. Lois Lowry has completed The Giver Quartet with Son (Houghton Mifflin). And for younger children, Matthew Cordell’s new Hello! Hello! (Disney-Hyperion) presents a child exploring the world while family members remain glued to digital devices. But the best choices may come from the young people themselves. The context of religious community can transform the conversation.