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?

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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?

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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?


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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!

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