We're starting a New Book on April 12!

The Sacred Reading Practices group is excited to announce that starting on April 12th that we’ll begin reading a new book: Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. (Current participants in the group considered twenty-seven different possibilities, and this was the one that seemed like the most common denominator between us.)

If you’re interested in participating, this would be a good opportunity to get the book (used if possible) ahead of time or otherwise find access to it before we start Chapter One on 4/12.

Published in 1981, Rushdie’s postcolonial, postmodern, and magical realist novel recounts events surrounding the independence and partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. The “midnight’s children” in the title are all of the children born as India becomes a new country. It’s a critically acclaimed novel, winning the “Booker of all Booker” awards in both 1993 and 2008.

The Sacred Reading Practices group started off seven and a half years ago by emulating the podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, created by Casper ter Kuile and Vanessa Zoltan. Because the group goes at a fairly slow pace of reading just one chapter per week, it has taken us this long to finish that series. 

Meetings each Wednesday, 5:30pm - 7:00pm, on Zoom.

We choose a work of fiction and explore it through themes such as innocence, shame, recognition, belonging and more! Each chapter is read through the lens of one chosen theme. We continue each meeting by rotating between different sacred reading practices that are part of the Jewish and Christian religious traditions (for example, “PaRDeS” Jewish exegesis; Lectio Divina western prayerful reading; Havruta and ancient Jewish practice; Florilegium; and Ignatian Spirituality), applying these practices to a chapter from the chosen book each week.

Each time we meet, our group follows the following structural format after we begin by doing a personal check in for the week.

  • consider an outside reading which helps illuminate the theme for the week, 
  • a quick recap of the chapter,
  •  exploration of what we noticed as we read the chapter through the chosen theme,
  • completion of the chosen sacred practice,
  • blessing for a character from the chapter.

The purpose of the group is to find deeper meaning and personal relevance in works that were written for mere pleasure. Scholars of religion explain that what can make the act of reading sacred is not the text itself, but the community of readers that use it to explore deeper insights into ourselves and our world.

All ages and skill levels are welcome to join us.

If you have any questions, or would like to know what the theme and practice are for the week, please contact David Bockoven at sacredreading@uueugene.org

Join Zoom Meeting: https://tinyurl.com/sacred-reading-practices