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Spirituality & Theology: Books for Adult Faith Development

  • Awakening the Soul: A Book of Daily Devotions by John C. Morgan. A unique collection of daily devotions on topics such as forgiveness, suffering, compassion, social justice, prayer and solitude. 432 pp. Skinner House, 2000.
    • The Awakening the Soul Discussion Guide (PDF) by John C. Morgan offers guidance on how to use the book, in group settings, an interest that has deepened as more congregations form small group ministries and covenant groups. This guide is designed for groups of three to twelve people.
  • Big Questions, Worthy Dreams: Mentoring Young Adults in Their Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Faith by Sharon Daloz Parks. An examination of faith as “the activity of making meaning,” this book is for young adults and adults of all ages. 261 pp. Published by Jossey-Bass (Hoboken, NJ) in 2000.
  • Building Your Own Theology: Second Edition by Richard S. Gilbert. This adult RE program for exploring personal theology has been completely remodeled: new resources, new essays and new activities. Features ten sessions in which participants develop and articulate their religious values. Participants are encouraged to have their own copies of this program. 120 pp. Published by Unitarian Universalist Association (Boston, MA) in 2000.
  • Evensong Volume 1: An Eight-Week Series of Gatherings by Barbara Hamilton-Holway Barbara Hamilton-Holway Barbara Hamilton-Holway. Intended to help congregation members make lasting connections with one another. Weekly worship services designed for groups of 10-20. Each service includes singing, readings, and discussion. Participants are invited to share thoughts, experiences, and religious beliefs. 80 pp. Published by Unitarian Universalist Association (Boston, MA) in 1999.
  • Evensong Volume 2: An Eight-Week Series of Gatherings by Barbara Hamilton-Holway. Intended to help congregation members make lasting connections with one another. Weekly worship services designed for groups of 10-20. Each service includes singing, readings, and discussion. Participants are invited to share thoughts, experiences, and religious beliefs. 72 pp. Published by Unitarian Universalist Association (Boston, MA) in 2001.
  • Everyday Spiritual Practice: Simple Pathways for Enriching Your Life. Have you wondered, "How do I integrate my heartfelt beliefs into my daily life?" Nearly 40 contributors address this creative dilemma and share their discoveries. Creating a home altar, practicing martial arts, fasting, quilting—these are just some of the ways they've found to make every day more meaningful. 272 pp. Published by Skinner House Books (Boston, MA) in 1999.
  • An Examined Faith: Social Context and Religious Commitment by James Luther Adams. Explores the role of faith in the work of Paul Tillich, Roger Baldwin, and others. From one of Unitarian Universalism's leading 20th-century theologians. 400 pp. Published by Beacon Press (Boston, MA) in 1991.
  • Finding Your Religion: When the Faith You Grew Up With Has Lost Its Meaning by Scotty McLennan. McLennan, the inspiration for the character "Reverend Scotty Sloan" in Garry Trudeau's comic strip Doonesbury, is a real-life Unitarian Universalist minister and chaplain at Stanford University. McLennan shares his own and his students' search for a meaningful spiritual life, detailing six stages of faith—Magic, Reality, Dependence, Independence, Interdependence, and Unity. 242 pp. Published by HarperCollins Publishers (New York, NY) in 2000.
  • The Force of Spirit by Scott Russell Sanders. Scott Russell Sanders reveals how the pressure of the sacred breaks through the surfaces of ordinary life-a life devoted to grown-up children and aging parents, the craft of writing, and the natural world. Whether writing to his daughter and his son as each prepares to get married, or describing an encounter with a red-tailed hawk in whose form he glimpses his dead father, or praising the disciplines of writing and carpentry and teaching, Sanders registers, in finely tuned prose, the force of spirit. 192 pp. Beacon, 2001.
    • The Force of Spirit Discussion Guide by Sofia Betancourt provides a framework for Unitarian Universalist discussion groups with three workshops on this book. Highlights are: the value of our life experiences and what they have to teach us; how our beliefs and values have changed during our lifetimes; and how our personal stories can help us in examining our own spirituality. Encourages the participation of adults of all ages and creates a safe space for personal sharing and reflection on the call of the spirit in our lives.
  • Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker Palmer. "Is the life I am living the same as the life that wants to live in me?" Author suggests that by listening to who we are rather than to who we believe we should be, it's possible to find our true vocations. Inspirational for anyone who is searching for meaningful life work. 123 pp. Published by Jossey-Bass (Hoboken, NJ) in 1999.
  • Lifecraft: The Art of Meaning in the Everyday by Forrest Church. Church challenges us to imagine ourselves as a "consortium of personae" rather than as a fixed identity... otherwise, we will either think too much or too little of ourselves. A joyous book on the art of finding meaning in daily life. 144 pp. Published by Beacon Press (Boston, MA) in 2001.
    • The Lifecraft Discussion Guide by Nancy Palmer Jones invites participants to explore together new ways of discovering and creating meaning in their lives. Lifecraft is the term Forrest Church has coined to describe the skill and the art of making and discovering meaning in our daily lives. This workshop guides participants through a series of collaborative and self-reflective experiences, encouraging them to develop their own lifecraft.
  • Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. 184 pp. Beacon, 2006.
    • The Man's Search for Meaning Teacher's Guide by Aimee Young offers a variety of ideas, approaches, and resources to help educators, including a discussion for teaching the book within the context of the Holocaust and understanding that period of time to better appreciate Frankl's story. Also included in the guide: a timeline of Viktor Frankl's life within the context of the chronology of the Holocaust; an overview of Holocaust history; and questions for comprehension, discussion, writing, or research and additional resources (with web links included). Appropriate for youth or adults.
  • Understanding the Bible: An Introduction for Skeptics, Seekers, and Religious Liberals by John A. Buehrens. Designed to help empower skeptics, seekers, nonbelievers, and those of a liberal and progressive outlook to reclaim the Bible from literalists. Includes four preliminary chapters on the why, who, which, and how of bible understanding, followed by eight brief thematic chapters covering the core of the Hebrew Bible and six covering the Christian scriptures, plus chronologies, maps, and helpful suggestions for further reading. 224 pp. Beacon, 2004.
    • The Understanding the Bible Discussion Guide by Nancy Palmer Jones outlines nine two-hour sessions discussing Buehrens’s book. Encouraging both critical thinking and "imaginative compassion," the program helps participants become responsible interpreters and theologians in their own right. Each session covers about two chapters in Buehrens’s book.


  • Soulful Sundown by Marlin Lavanhar. Resources for providing a worship experience through music and the performance arts. Practical advice on publicity, funding, finding and paying for performers, and even how to create a budget. Includes sample orders of service and publicity flyers. 76 pp. Published by Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries in 1999.

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Last updated on Thursday, April 12, 2012.

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