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Life Issues & Skills Resources for Adult Faith Development



  • Common Fire: Leading Lives of Commitment in a Complex World by Laurent Daloz, Cheryl Keen, James Keen, and Sharon Parks. Landmark study reveals how we become committed to the common good and sustain our commitments in a changing world. 273 pp. Published by Beacon Press (Boston, MA) in 2002.
  • Questions for the Religious Journey by George Kimmich Beach. Previously titled, If Yes is the Answer, What is the Question. Based on the belief that "an authentic religion is a questioning religion." Offers tools for religious introspection. Useful as a starting point and as a resource to revisit as our perspectives shift. 216 pp. Published by Skinner House Books (Boston, MA) in 2002.


  • What is Marriage For? The Strange Social History of Our Most Intimate Institution by E.J. Graff. Passionate, witty history of marriage from a feminist perspective. Illuminates the many forms marriage has taken through time. Shows that this institution has always been a social battleground, shifting constantly to suit each economy, era and class. Includes a forceful argument for the legalization of same-sex marriages. 320 pp. Beacon, 1999.
    • The What is Marriage For? Discussion Guide by Nancy Palmer Jones outlines two workshops on Graff’s book. Workshops investigate historical beliefs and practices with regard to marriage; explore modern marriage customs and laws; and examines attitudes toward marriage of same-sex couples. Helps participants develop a personal definition of marriage (both what it is and why we do it).


  • Breaking Free: Women of Spirit at Midlife and Beyond by Marilyn Sewell. A ground-breaking anthology for women searching for spiritual guideposts to the second half of life. Contributors include Vivian Gornick, Audre Lorde, Erica Jong, Grace Paley, Isabel Allende, Maya Angelou and many others. (Beacon, 2004).
    • The Breaking Free Discussion Guide by Frances B. Caldwell brings women together to discuss aging as the development of character, a breaking free of old restraints, and an opportunity to deepen their spiritual lives (five sessions).
  • From Age-ing to Sage-ing: A Profound New Vision of Growing Older by Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. Rabbi Schacter-Shalomi describes a radically different aging process characterized by adventure, passion, mystery, and fulfillment. Drawing on the wisdom of Sufi masters, Buddhist teachers, Native-American shamans, and Kabbalah (the mystical teachings of Islam and Judaism), Schacter-Shalomi offers techniques to expand our horizons, so we can all become sages as we grow older. 303 pp. Published by Warner Books (New York, NY) in 1997.
    • The Elderhood and Spirituality Reflection and Discussion Guide (PDF, 44 pages) by Pat Hoertdoerfer invites participants to deepen their understanding of aging and elderhood. Emphasizes the hope of the book’s author: to re-contextualize aging as the anticipated fulfillment of life. The goals for participants are: to awaken to a vision of spiritual eldering; to deepen understanding of aging and elderhood; to witness one’s transformation from older to elder; and to engage in the homework of spiritual eldering—journaling, spiritual intimacy, and meditation.
  • Taking Retirement: A Beginner’s Journey by Carl Klaus. Author explores the emotional work of retiring from a lifetime of teaching ó a difficult task for someone whose sense of self is so strongly tied to his role as a mentor. Anyone who experiences the loss of a way of life will appreciate the author's discovery of our perennial ability to remake ourselves. 256 pp. Beacon, 2000.
    • The Taking Retirement Discussion Guide by Wendy Bivens provides materials for two sessions of discussion. Participants share ideas about: encountering changing landscapes—emotional, spiritual, physical and material—as we enter retirement; achieving serenity and acceptance in this and other challenging life phases; and honoring, affirming and supporting our elders and those of us who are approaching or in the midst of retiring.

Death & Grief

  • A Faith for all Seasons: Liberal Religion and the Crises of Life by William R. Murry. Intelligent, sensitive essays explore the role of liberal religion in crises of life and death. 148 pp. Published by River Road Press (Kimberling City, MO) in 1990.
  • Life Lines: Holding On (and Letting Go) by Forrest Church. This hopeful book explores the experiences that can help us survive suffering, feel more deeply connected to neighbors and strangers, and gain a better understanding of human limits and our place in the Universe. 192 pp. Published by Beacon Press (Boston, MA) in 1996.
    • The multiple-session Life Lines Discussion Guide by Nancy Palmer Jones uses the book Life Lines to create conversation and communion as we search for answers to some of life's deepest questions.
  • Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Saves Us by Rebecca Ann Parker and Rita Nakashima Brock. Throughout the book the authors wrestle candidly with weighty issues, including suicide, sexual abuse, domestic violence, racism, homophobia, the struggle for transgender rights, and the challenges of bridging multiple cultural identities.
    • The Proverbs of Ashes Discussion Guide by Sofia Betancourt & Julia Watts outlines three sessions on the book. The workshops engage with the larger project that the authors describe—acknowledging violent theologies and seeking to transform them in our own lives and in the lives of our religious communities.

    Curricula & Workshops

    • The Bridge Called Respect: Women and Men Joining as Allies by Tom Owen-Towle and January Riddle
      A three-part resource with workshops for bridge building between women and men anywhere they work together—in relationships, in religious communities, and in the workplace. Includes workshops, readings, and exercises Skinner House, 1999.
    • Unitarian Universalist Principles and Parenting by Helen Zidowecki
      Seven session. Parents (and RE teachers) explore the implications and applications of the UU Principles in their interactions with children Helen Zidowecki, 2001.
    • The Women We Become: Myths, Stories and Fairytales About the Meaning of Growing Older by Ann Thomas and Jean Westcott. Eight sessions; examines key issues that emerge as women age (Ann Thomas, 1997). To purchase, contact Ann Thomas, 724 Danville Blvd., Danville, CA 94526; telephone: (925) 820-7921.

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Last updated on Monday, November 28, 2011.

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