We haven't done this in the past, but this year I've selected a "book of the year" to be a common touchpoint for conversation. (Of course the Bible is the "book of the year" every year!) I hope that by reading it together, we each find hope and connection in wrestling with the topics and as the subtitle says, "the unlikely key to a gracious view of others (and yourself)." This was the best book I read last year, and I re-read it again on my recent retreat/reading week and felt moved to encourage it as a community read for the whole congregation.
Zahl's book starts with an intro connecting a relatable feeling of struggles and our society's messaging around self-help and competition. He offers this framework he calls "low anthropology" which means viewing humanity - all of us - as actually not that great and why this starting point actually leads us in much happier, healthier understanding of people and the world around us.
I'll offer a few discussion gatherings (dates TBA, in-person and on zoom) on:
- Low anthropology, how it's Lutheran, and why you need it
- Low anthropology and parenting (how we've all been parented, applicable for non-parents too!)
- Low anthropology and relationships
- Low anthropology and politics (and surviving this election year)
We'll take our time with this. It's not a homework assignment, but an invitation to something I really think will be enriching and a helpful tool for us all. Join us in this community read for 2024!
- Pastor Brett
From the publisher's description: "Many of us spend our days feeling like we're the only one with problems, while everyone else has their act together. But the sooner we realize that everyone struggles like we do, the sooner we can show grace to ourselves and others.
"In Low Anthropology, popular author and theologian David Zahl explores how our ideas about human nature influence our expectations in friendship, work, marriage, and politics. We all go through life with an "anthropology"--an idea about what humans are like, our potentials and our limitations. A high anthropology--thinking optimistically about human nature--can breed perfectionism, anxiety, burnout, loneliness, and resentment. Meanwhile, Zahl invites readers into a biblically rooted and surprisingly life-giving low anthropology, which fosters hope, deep connection with others, lasting love, vulnerability, compassion, and happiness.
"Zahl offers a liberating view of human nature, sin, and grace, showing why the good news of Christianity is both urgent and appealing. By embracing a more accurate view of human beings, readers will discover a true and lasting hope."