Study Guide for Cathleen Falsani's "The God Factor"
Study Guide for AThe God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People@ by Cathleen Falsani
Written by the Spirituality Book Club of Bloomington/Normal www.spiritualbookclub.com
1. Which of the interviews in the book resonated with you the most?
2. Which of the interviews held the most surprises?
3. Were there any interviews that were turnoffs for you?
4. How many of those interviewed were against organized religion, in your estimation?
5. Where, do you think, are the disconnects for people as they approach organized religion? Within this book, many of those interviewed say they have problems with organized religion, where are those disconnects? Where, if anywhere, are those disconnects for you?
6. Is your perception of God easily embraced by organized religion? Why, or why not?
7. What role does personal dignity play in your faith? Where do you see that in the people interviewed in AThe God Factor?@ Does their sense of God enhance their lives? Why?
8. Mark Morris says, p. 182 (hard cover), ABut as far as I=m concerned, very, very, very few people who I=ve met in my life are actually, deeply, nonhypocritically religious. I haven=t seen religion make many people better people.@ Do you see religious institutions as human organizations fraught with human frailties, or are they held to a higher standard?
9. Have you met any Adeeply, nonhypocritically religious@ people?
10. Where do you feel you Abreak@ from your religious tradition, if anywhere?
11. If you were completely honest, what do you hide behind in your beliefs, if anything?
12. Is your sense of God one you=ve had since childhood, or has it grown?
13. Laura Esquivel says, AReal change comes from within, it starts on the inside and then goes outside.@ (p. 195) Name a real change that has happened for you, from the inside out?
14. AI don=t want to think about the pain, A she says, AI don=t like that idea of the pain and how Jesus died for us. I don=t believe in that. I think he really died in another state of mind, loving all the time.@ (p. 197) What do you think of the role of pain in your beliefs about God?
15. How do you pray? Esquivel says, AI offer my fears, and I ask for help for seeing the world through the eyes of God and not through the eyes of my body. And I ask for help in destroying my fear, because I know that fear is not true.@ (p. 197). Would this way of praying work for you?
16. What did you think of Seamus Heaney=s poem, and the fact he declined the interview because he felt his own spirituality Ais in an arena in which he feels woefully inarticulate?@ (P. 167)
17. Heaney writes in his poem, AThe loss of faith occurred off stage.@ Do you know anyone for whom this has happened? Has it happened to you? What brings about a loss of faith?
18. Do you see faith as, to use Heaney=s poetry, Awell water far down@ (P. 167) or as another image? What imagery works for you to describe it?
19. Are words about God, after all, Awoefully inarticulate,@ or are there words about God that work for you as you describe your spirituality? There are Jewish people who will not say the word AYahweh@ or ALord,@ but will say, ATetragrammaton,@ believing the name of God is too holy to speak. Are there names you speak for God, that feel Aright,@ and Aholy enough?@
20. Falsani starts the book with Arthur Frank Holmes quote, AAll truth is God=s truth.@ Is there an objective truth out there, or is all truth subjective? Is there a truth, in your opinion, that is not AGod=s truth?@ Is there a universal truth? Is the Atruth@ that scientists get to the same truth to which theologians arrive?
21. Sherman Alexie says, in his experience, AGod is an absentee father....@ (P. 199) What is a working metaphor for God in your life?
22. In leadership circles there is this view:
management=doing it right, getting it done
leadership=doing the right thing, visionary
For you, do you believe this:
religion=way of doing things
spirituality= way of viewing things
Or how do you view religion and spirituality? The Adoing of@ and the Aviewing of@ spiritual things?
23. Sandra Bernhard mentions a centre with which she is involved. Do you feel you should go somewhere to practice what you believe? (P. 39)
24. What are you Apracticing?@
25. Harold Ramis says, AJust to button up this notion that my spirituality is an evolution, if I had to say what I=ve arrived at, I would say that I believe that everything is part of a miraculous ongoing creation. And that=s all I know.@ (P. 213) What would you say is Aall I know, about spirituality, if you had to say it succinctly?@
26. Concluding Exercise: Write your own faith statement.
*What do you believe?
*What are things you do not believe, that perhaps you were once told?
*What has changed over your life in your belief system?
*Is there anything you wish you believed, but are not there yet?