Social Issues Forum

Study is an important part of the life of our church. A group of 8-15 members meets on a weekly basis of 4-6 sessions several times during the school year to discuss influential books. In the past our studies have focused on religious issues through reading books by prominent progressive theologians. More recently our focus has been on social issues, especially those which affect our country. Issues we have focused on in the past include immigration, the consequences to most Americans of the unequal distribution of wealth, climate change, and the opioid epidemic.

Our current Book for discussion, coming up in October, 2022, is How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith. (Little Brown, 2021) The Washington Post review says:

How the Word Is Passed recounts Smith’s visits to historical sites in America and West Africa to find out how slavery and its deleterious aftermath are taught. Smith interviews White and Black tour guides on how they educated themselves about the sites where they work. He also interviews members of the public on their reactions to new information presented on the tours. Smith grounds his work in scholarship, citing primary sources such as letters and speeches, a wide range of historians, and the indispensable oral histories of former enslaved people recorded by the Federal Writers’ Project (part of the New Deal). The result is an eminently readable, thought-provoking volume, with a clear message to separate nostalgic fantasy and false narratives from history.”

Spring, 2022

The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones and others (Random, 2021)

“The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from the New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of our National narrative.” (The New York Times, 2019)

Fall, 2021

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee (One World, 2021).

“McGhee, a descendant of enslaved people, is very much concerned with the situation of Black Americans, making clear that the primary victims of racism are the people of color who are subjected to it. But The Sum of Us is predicated on the idea that little will change until white people realize what racism has cost them too.” (from a New York Times review, February 2021)

Previous texts have included:

Walking Each Other Home by Ram Dass and Mirabai Bush

Waking up White by Debby Irving (Winter 2021)

Caste – The Origins of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson (Fall 2020)

Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (Spring 2020)  

Falter by Bill McKibben (Fall 2019)

Deer Hunting with Jesus by Joe Bageant (Spring 2019)

How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt (Fall 2018)

The Lines Become a River by Franciscu Cantu (Spring 2018)

American Nations by Colin Woodard (Fall 2017)

Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild (Spring 2017)

Racial Injustice Series with Just Mercy by Bryan Stephenson and The New Jim Crow by Michele Alexander (Fall 2016)