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A New Book Discussion for a New Year

Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi

by Amy-Jill Levine

The CCUCC Book Group begins 2015 with another great book selection.  If you’d like to participate in the reading and discussion, please fill out the form at the bottom of this page or sign up the next time you are at church.  We meet Tuesdays at 6:15 pm at the church.  Everyone is welcome.

Amy-Jill Levine, Professor of New Testament at Vanderbilt, is also a practicing Jew.  She joins her deep respect for Jesus with a passionate desire to educate about the Jewish context of the Christian scriptures.  This combination, along with her disarming, accessible writing style, results in a thought provoking and challenging book which offers new ways of entering into these ancient parables.

Here is what a few others have to say about the book:

“As subversive as any parable, this shakes the faithful where we most need to be shaken, showing how close we have come to disarming some of Jesus’ most potent teachings. Every new book from Levine startles me with its brilliance and pluck, but this one goes next to my Bible.” —Barbara Brown Taylor, author of An Altar in the World & Learning to Walk in the Dark

“This is probably the best book on parables available today: brief, informative, witty, and very interesting. A perfect introduction for the merely curious, but even passionate readers who have lived with these stories for decades will find their eyes and hearts opened by Levine’s provocative insights.” —Mark Allan Powell, editor of the HarperCollins Bible Dictionary

“Amy-Jill Levine offers new translations of the parables, recovering the sense of provocation and challenge they would have presented to their first-century audiences. The Jesus we see here came up with inventive ways to challenge his listeners, and didn’t allow them easy answers or room for self-congratulation.” —Boston Globe

Short Stories by Jesus Reading Schedule

CCUCC Book Group

Tuesdays at 6:15 in The Fireside Room at CCUCC

Join with other participants and friends of CCUCC as we gather weekly to discuss, question, and learn with one another.  No subject is off the table with this group, but we do read books that talk about things that seem relevant to our lives and can be related to our faith.

Our next great read is The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us, by Diane Ackerman (Norton, 2014, 352 p.)

Ackerman is a poet, naturalist, and has a sharp scientific mind.  In her latest book, she tackles the question of how humans have shaped the world.  What marks have we left, for better or for worse, on the whole of life on earth?  Although she doesn’t write from a faith perspective, she leads with wonder and sees what is possible, even in the midst of the sometimes destructive results of human agency.  At this crucial time in human history, Ackerman’s presentation of our power to change our world is refreshing and possibly life-saving.  Her theme certainly brings up questions of faith:  what does it mean that we are left as “stewards of creation”; how does our power to change mesh with our faithful understanding that God is working in the world for good?

Reviews:  Kirkus, NYTimes, Washington Post

We’ll gather on Tuesday, September 23 at 6:15 in the Fireside Room at the church, but won’t begin discussing the book until after we receive them and have time to do some reading (probably not until early October). So, you can start in anytime.

Book cost (if you want me to order one for you) is approximately $22.00.  I know this cost is high, so talk to me if the cost is making you reluctant to participate.

Sign-up on the table in the narthex at church or below if you’d like to be part of this group.  As always, everyone is welcome, so invite anyone you think might be interested.

Summer Groups

Summer is here and things have slowed down a bit on the Palouse, but all the more reason to take the opportunity to get together to read, discuss, and learn more about how to live as faithful people.  See the options below:

1.  Book Group–  Tuesdays at 6:15 beginning June 10.  We’ll read “An Altar in the World, by Barbara Brown Taylor (HarperOne, 2009, 209 p.)

“Whereas many spiritual seekers spend a lot of time and energy on quests that take them far from home, Taylor suggests that we have all we need in the everyday activities of our lives. She presents formal and informal spiritual practices to use as a spur to deepening our humanity and broadening our connection with others…

Along the way, Taylor shares many colorful vignettes from her own life and ponders the experiences of some well-known Biblical characters…  Spiritual practices such as keeping the Sabbath, walking meditation, and prayer have been central to many of the world’s religions. We agree with Taylor’s conclusion: “Even now, purposeful return to these practices has the power to save religions that have just about run out of breath.”  — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

Book cost is approximately $13.00.

Sign-up at church or use the form below if you’d like to be part of this group.  (Because it is summer, this is a very informal group so come when you are in town and able.) As always, you don’t have to attend CCUCC to participate.

2.  Banned Questions About the Bible (a different kind of Bible Study) Wednesdays at noon, beginning June 11.  We’ll use a different question each week, along with some appropriate scripture passages, all from the book “Banned Questions About the Bible,” ed. Christian Piatt (Chalice Press, 2011, 216p.)  A sample of the questions we’ll discuss:

  • Can I be a Christian if I don’t believe the Bible is perfect, handed down directly from God to humanity without error?
  • If Adam and Eve were the first (and only) people on earth, where did their kids’ spouses come from”  Did they marry each other? And if everyone on earth but Noah’s family was killed in a great flood, did Noah’s kids sleep with each other?  Isn’t this a sin?
  • Aren’t women treated poorly throughout the Bible?  Why would any intelligent modern woman today even want to read the Bible? 

Sign-up at church or use the form below if you’d like to be part of this group.  (Because it is summer, this is a very informal group so come when you are in town and able.)  As always, you don’t have to attend CCUCC to participate.


Souper Bowl Food Drive

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Support the Deacons as we all help fill the shelves of local food banks and share with our neighbors.

Souper Bowl

2014 Book Group

surpassing wonder book coverCCUCC BOOK GROUP—Our next book for reading/discussion is “Surpassing Wonder:  The Invention of the Bible and The Talmuds”by Donald Harman Akenson.  Everyone is invited to join in this study of one scholar’s understanding of how the scriptures of Christians and Jews came to be.  We’ll begin on Tuesday, January 7th at 6:15pm at CCUCC.

 “Calling the Bible and Talmud ”inventions” may sound like fighting words to a religiously sensitive audience, but here the word ”invention” is a belief-neutral description of the processes that created the Jewish and Christian foundational classics (the Hebrew Bible, the Jewish literature of the Second Temple period, the New Testament, the Mishna and the Talmuds). In ”Surpassing Wonder,” Donald Harman Akenson, a professor of Irish history, adopts a Great Books approach to Jewish and Christian history, viewing it not as ”a chronicle of events, but a chronicle of successive texts, their constant invention and reinvention.” With an imaginative use of metaphors, analogies, persuasive rhetoric and praise, he pleads with all to read these religious classics seriously, whether they grant them spiritual authority or not, because, precisely as splendid intellectual and spiritual ”inventions,” they have fascinated readers for generations and profoundly shaped Western civilization.”  –Anthony J. Saldarini, from The New York Times review of Surpassing Wonder, Dec. 13, 1998.

If you are interested, please sign up using the form below, or at church.

We’ll begin on Tuesday, January 7, 2013.

Books are $20.00 each.

Book Group


BOOK GROUP—Our next book for reading/discussion is “Justice:  What’s the Right Thing to Do?” by noted Harvard professor Michael J. Sandel.  Everyone is invited to join in.  We’ll begin this week by watching some video of Sandel’s class of the same name.

“Reading ‘Justice’ by Michael Sandel is an intoxicating invitation to take apart and examine how we arrive at our notions of right and wrong….This is enlivening stuff. Sandel is not looking to win an argument; he’s looking at how a citizen might best engage the public realm.”— Karen R. Long, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Here is a brief Video Introduction to his class/book.

If you are interested, please sign up using the form below, or at church, or just show up!

We’ll begin on Tuesday, October 22 and end on December 17.

Books are $12.00 each.

The Thrift Shop

The Thrift Shop is Pullman’s oldest recycled goods store featuring clothing for all ages, books, toys, sports gear, housewares, gifts, crafts, jewelry, and many useful and unique items.  The Community Congregational Church women’s group started the shop over 65 years ago to fund a new kitchen.  It just grew from there into a tidy, well stocked store that serves people from throughout the Palouse region.  The prices are genuinely low because it is staffed entirely by volunteers.  A portion of the proceeds are returned each year to local charities such as United Way, Alternatives to Violence, Community Action Center and Pullman Child Welfare’s food bank.  A 24/7 donation bin at the corner of Ruby and Campus takes the goods.  No furniture please, due to space.  Parking is free in the church lot while shopping.   Ruby Street entrance on lower level of church.

Hours:  Tuesdays 4:30-6:30 p.m. and Thursdays and Fridays  noon to 4:00 p.m.
Phone: 509-334-6632.

Reduce, Reuse, Simplify, and Save!

Come see our latest additions. The Houseware’s section is loaded with items for your kitchen and bed and bath.  We hope you’ll stop by and enjoy low prices and find a treasure or two!

Prayers for Healing and Wholeness

Kristine had surgery in Boston on Tuesday, October 8.  She and Jonathan returned home and she is recovering well.  As she continues to recover her strength and as her brain adapts to the surgery, we can continue to keep her in our thoughts and prayers.

For more information about the surgery and updates on her recovery, go to her blog at:

endless tealight candles

Summer Book Group

This summer we all have the opportunity to discuss, argue with, and ultimately learn from a wise spiritual teacher in Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward:  A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. Of course, we’ll have the chance to listen to and learn from one another as well.  The following is a portion of The Invitation to a Further Journey section:

  “A journey into the second half of our own lives awaits us all. Not everybody goes there, even though all of us get older, and some of us get older than others. A “further journey” is a well-kept secret, for some reason. Many people do not even know there is one. There are too few who are aware of it, tell us about it, or know that it is different from the journey of the first half of life. So why should I try to light up the path a little? Why should I presume that I have anything to say here? And why should I write to people who are still on their first journey, and happily so? I am driven to write because after forty years as a Franciscan teacher, working in many settings, religions, countries, and institutions, I find that many, if not most, people and institutions remain stymied in the preoccupations of the first half of life. By that I mean that most people’s concerns remain those of establishing their personal (or superior) identity, creating various boundary markers for themselves, seeking security, and perhaps linking to what seem like significant people or projects. These tasks are good to some degree and even necessary. We are all trying to find what the Greek philosopher Archimedes called a “lever and a place to stand” so that we can move the world just a little bit. The world would be much worse off if we did not do this first and important task.

But, in my opinion, this first-half-of-life task is no more than finding the starting gate. It is merely the warm-up act, not the full journey. It is the raft but not the shore.”

If you are interested, please sign up using the form below, or at church.

I’ve ordered 10 books that will be here and available by Sunday, June 16, 2013.  We’ll begin on Tuesday, June 25.

Flowers for David

WSU professor, Dr. David Warner, was severely injured by several people as he attempted to intervene in an altercation just a block from the church.  If you’d like to help raise funds for his medical costs, here are a few ways:  

  • Buy a flower from displays at Zoe Underground Cafe (basement of the Interfaith House) and Cafe Moro, with other sites in the near future (we hope 🙂 ) Suggested donation is $5.oo.
  • Help make flowers.  Graduate student Charise De Berry thought up this great idea and we are helping her to expand and give more people the opportunity to donate.  So,we would like to keep these displays full and we could use some help making these simple felt flowers.   Please dive right in and bring any flowers you make to the church.  At this time, we think we need purple, yellow, and blue flowers most (the red are made slightly differently and there are a number of people working on them at this point).   We have extra felt at the church, along with a little table in the Fireside room where you could sit and work if you prefer that to home.

Wavy rosette in Blue, Purple, Yellow