Beacon Press Discussion Guides for Unitarian Universalist Communities
A resource for adult religious education or adult discussion groups seeking to examine issues of concern to the UU movement
About the Program
Beacon Press books are ideal tools for life-long learning in UU congregations, and have often led the UU community to identify areas of concern. With this program, we aspire to strengthen the social justice and spiritual work of the denomination.
This program aims to:
- deepen awareness in the UU community of issues of social justice;
- provide the finest and most enlightened thinking about these issues as tools to enrich discussions within UU communities; and
- create a new understanding of the work of Beacon Press in UU congregation and communities.
The Beacon Press Discussion Guides provide a flexible structure for a short-term, small-group discussion program using Beacon books. The guides offer support materials for group leaders with all levels of experience, laying out information in such a way that preparation time is minimal.
Guides are now available for fifteen Beacon titles; click on the titles below to view them. Guides are arranged by book title below.
Many guides are also available as Adobe Acrobat.pdf files for easier printing. Click here to get the free Acrobat Reader
, then download the file you need from the images below.
- An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (PDF)
- Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury after War, by Rita Nakashima Brock and Gabriella Lettini (PDF)
- Blue Revolution: Unmaking America's Water Crisis, by Cynthia Barnett (PDF)
of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, by Eboo Patel (PDF)
Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands, by Margaret Regan (PDF)
- A House for Hope: The Promise of Progressive Religion for the Twenty-first Century,
by John A. Buehrens and Rebecca Ann Parker (PDF)
- Love & Death: My Journey through the Valley of the Shadow,
by Forrest Church (PDF)
- Breaking Free: Women of Spirit at Midlife and Beyond,
edited by Marilyn Sewell.
This program 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). (also in PDF)
- A Chosen Faith: An Introduction to Unitarian Universalism,
by John A. Buehrens and Forrest Church.
- Common Fire: Leading
Lives of Commitment in a Complex World, by Laurent A. Parks,
Cheryl H. Keen, James P. Keen and Sharon Daloz Parks.
Participants explore their commitment to the common good and strategies
to sustain such commitment in a changing world (three sessions). (also in PDF)
- Fist Stick Knife
Gun: A Personal History of Violence, by Geoffrey
A memoir of a young man's struggles with violence fuels discussion about
issues that concern today's youth and how communities can address them
- The Force of Spirit,
by Scott Russell Sanders.
For adults of all ages, this program creates a safe space for personal
sharing and reflection on the call of spirit in our lives (three sessions). (also in PDF)
- Free For All: Defending Liberty in America Today,
by Wendy Kaminer.
What are the most important elements of liberty in America today? What
is liberty in America today? As a nation, we preach "liberty and
justice for all", and prize freedom - but what exactly is that
freedom, and at what cost is it bestowed? The questions raised in the
program will be, and should be, difficult to answer (three sessions). (also in PDF)
by Octavia Butler.
This program provides a framework for Unitarian Universalist discussion
groups to engage in reflective dialogue about the legacy of slavery,
the connections between historical burdens and present realities, and
our vision for shaping our future (three sessions). (also in PDF)
- Lifecraft: The Art of
Meaning in the Everyday, by Forrest Church.
From "one of our leading pastors" (Dan Wakefield), a joyous
book on the art of finding meaning in daily life. (also in PDF)
- Life Lines: Holding On (and Letting Go),
by Forrest Church.
Popular writer and minister Forrest Church explores the lifelines that
can sustain us in times of trouble.
- Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Saves Us,
by Rita Nakashima Brock & Rebecca Ann Parker.
Models a process by which individuals and religious communities can
reflect on their personal and shared histories in order to challenge
limiting theologies and reshape our common truths.
in the Hands of a Tender God: Stories of the Search for Home and Healing on the Streets, by Craig Rennebohm with David
Suggestions for organizing a reading circle, a discussion guide for Souls in the Hands of a Tender God, and a listing of other books
and resources that are readily available to help educate faith communities. (PDF)
- The Students Are Watching: Schools and the Moral Contract, by Theodore R. Sizer and
Nancy Faust Sizer.
This program encourages reflections and contributions of young adults
as well as parents, educators and other adults who finished their years
of formal schooling, acknowledging that we all have a stake in the nature
of moral education (three sessions) (also in PDF)
- Taking Retirement: A
Beginner's Diary, by Carl H. Klaus.
This program has relevance for all adults of all ages, creates a space
for authentic sharing between UU elders and encourages intergenerational
dialogue about aging and life transitions (two sessions). (also in PDF)
- Understanding the Bible: An Introduction for Skeptics, Seekers, and Religious Liberals,
by John A. Buehrens.
Skeptics, seekers, and religious liberals often need a “way in” to understanding
the complex territory that is the Bible. John Buehrens's Understanding
the Bible offers just such an entry point. Through the activities
suggested in this discussion guide, readers of Buehrens's book will
be able to “claim [their] own power to understand the Bible.” (PDF)
- Waist High in the World:
A Life Among the Nondisabled, by Nancy Mairs.
In her book, Mairs shares her own insights on the nature and meaning
of disability in her life. This program encourages the reflections and
contributions of all people, whatever their experience with disability
(three sessions). (also in PDF)
- What Is Marriage For?:
The Strange Social History of Our Most Intimate Institution,
by E. J. Graff.
Participants investigate past and current marriage laws and customs
and develop personal definitions of marriage (two sessions). (also in PDF: part 1,
- Lived Through This: Listening to the Stories of Sexual Violence Survivors, by Anne K. Ream (PDF)
Guides for Book Groups
Book Group Guides are available for the following Beacon Press titles:
Guides for Teachers
We also offer teachers' guides
, many of which can be adapted for use in congregational discussion groups.
InSpirit: The UUA Book and Gift Shop offers a 10% discount with orders of 5-9 copies of a single title, and 20% off 10 or more copies. Contact inSpirit: The UU Book and Gift Shop, 24 Farnsworth St, Boston, MA, 02210, tel: 1-800-215-9076, fax: 1-617-723-4805, or www.uua.org/bookstore
Please let us know
how you like the guides and how they work for you. Your feedback about their content and suggestions for future titles will aid us in our commitment to meet the program needs of UU congregations.
This program was developed in collaboration with the UUA Religious Education Department and Congregational, District and Extension Services and was funded through a grant by the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock.