The cathedral book reading group.

Author:Burgin, Richard

What brought your book group together?

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In 1998 five friends, all members of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, decided at coffee hour after a Sunday service to start a book discussion group. Many of us would ask over coffee what the others were reading, and a book club seemed like an organized and natural development from these casual conversations.

What are your meetings like?

We meet at 7 p.m. on the second Friday of each month on a rotating basis in a member's home. We discuss the current month's title and follow it with a meal. The host chooses the menu, but all members contribute to the dinner. Occasionally the book will help select the type of meal. For example, when the group read Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes, we all brought Italian dishes and created a memorable meal! One bachelor fixed an excellent bean soup. We all gained confidence from this small triumph and now delight in planning and fixing the meal when our time to host comes. (THE bachelor is now married to another book group member.) One member--not the host--leads the discussion, but everyone participates in a lively back-and-forth dialogue.

Do you favor religious titles?

Not necessarily. Although our group's name is THE Cathedral Book Reading Group and all members are active in the Cathedral, our reading interests vary widely. However, we regard the cathedral parish as a natural resource to strengthen our discussions and book selections. When we read several books by C. S. Lewis, we invited a member of the parish who had known Lewis in England and had taught a course on him at a local university to lead the discussion. We read Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning and asked a clergyman, who is also a psychotherapist, to lead our discussion. We recently read Gilead by Marilynne Robinson and invited a young priest and his bride to lead our discussion. He had mentioned the book during a sermon a few weeks before, and his wife had just finished the book. Finally, several months ago we read Where God Was Born: A Journey by Land to the Roots of Religion by Bruce Feiler. He is the son of a well-known local family, and one of our members who had followed his career and traveled to the areas he had researched led our discussion.

How do you describe your group?

We all have an interest and commitment to good literature, but not necessarily to scholarly literature. One of our members is a published author and another works in a local...

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