Archives for posts with tag: Jesus

In preparation for our October 11, 2012 discussion of Heaven is For Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent, I’ve drafted a few questions that might generate some discussion. We’ll meet at 7 PM Thursday at the Leawood Pioneer Library, Leawood, Kansas.

  1. What did you anticipate when you started to read the book and how did your expectations correspond with what you read?
  2. Are there passages in the book that you underlined and otherwise noted that made you reflect on issues related to the afterlife, pain and suffering, rewards and punishment or other topics?
  3. How closely does your concept of Heaven correspond with Colton’s experiences? Angels with wings? Such as God sitting literally on a throne? Angels carrying swords or bows and arrows to fight Satan and his forces? The age-related appearance of those who have died (Colton’s unborn sister appears as a child but Grandpa “Pop” Barber appears as a young man)? The presence of Jesus, Gabriel, Mary, Satan, and others?
  4. Have you ever experienced “shot down power” that provided an answer when needed and it seemed as if under normal circumstances you wouldn’t know what to say? (page 146)
  5. Colton first relates his story to his parents 3½ months after the event and continues adding detail over the next several years (approximately the next 2½ to 3 years). How reliable do you consider his re-telling of the events? Do you think Colton’s reflections are at all influenced and expanded because of his environment (growing up as the son of a Pastor)?
  6. Does the book alter, reinforce or negate any of your views of the afterlife?
  7. How did you react to Colton’s statement that “This one’s right” when he saw Akiane’s portrait of Jesus?
  8. When asked how Colton’s experience had changed the family, Pastor Burpo said “it absolutely broke us” and “we learned the value of being vulnerable enough to let others be strong for us, to let others bless us.” What do you think he meant? See page 153.
  9. What answers did you find in the book?
  10. Would you recommend the book to others? Why or why not?

Related links:

Heaven is real, says neurosurgeon who claims to have visited the afterlife

Audio Interview with Todd Burpo about “Heaven Is For Real”

Today Show interview with Burpo Family



On May 10, 2012 at 7:00 PM, the All Good Books group will meet at the Leawood Pioneer Library to discuss American Savior by Roland Merullo. The publisher’s blurb reads:

What if Jesus suddenly appeared and announced that he planned to run for President of the United States? Yes, that Jesus. And what if a well-meaning but utterly inexperienced band of disciples not only helped him mount a seat-of-the-pants campaign but also ran it well, getting millions of people to support him and in the process throwing the other two major party candidates-as well as the world’s news media-into a frenzy as they scramble to discredit him? Roland Merullo’s bitingly clever satirical novel about the state of American politics follows one man’s campaign to bring back goodness and kindness ( real goodness and kindness this time) in a country that has fallen into a divisive state of fear and hatred. Merullo takes us into the heart of “a nation in grave spiritual danger” as the Son of man sets out to make everyone realize that “politics as usual” is no longer an acceptable alternative. American Savior is a remarkably innovative novel that challenges our perceptions and beliefs while it wags a finger at the folly of our self-righteousness. It is sure to cause controversy among those for whom politics itself has become a kind of religion.

Come join the discussion on May 10th!

As I read Breakfast with Buddha byRoland Merullo, I kept running into questions I hope to remember to bring up at the book club meeting. To reinforce my forgetful brain, here are the questions I have asked myself. Maybe you have an answer?

By the way, Rinpoche is “(in Tibetan Buddhism) an incarnate lama or highly respected religious teacher (often used as an honorific title).”

  1. How did your parents show affection for you? Do you show it differently to your children? Why?
  2. Why is Otto so angry?
  3. When observing Amish and Mennonite farmers and their neat farms, Otto ponders the thought, “Would it (their sacrifice) earn them minds as clear as drinking water completely free of sidewalk grit? After they died would there be a special place reserved for them above the clouds, God smiling on them with a  special affection…? And if so, what would be reserved for ordinary good folks…who’d given up nothing, but who’d done little harm and a fair amount of good in our years on earth? Was it all just a game, the winners being those who give up the most?” How do you respond to Otto’s reflection?
  4. Otto talks about “the way you love a wife of many years” and ends with “”there is a part of her you do not know.” Say it isn’t true!
  5. Why so much anger in America?
  6. Who made better use of the hour before dinner, Rinpoche meditating or Otto flipping thru channels? Which would you normally do if left alone?
  7. If you defined religion very broadly (e.g. football for Notre Dame as Otto suggested), what would your religion be?
  8. Even as Otto mocks spirituality or Rinpoche’s way of thinking because it threatens him, what ideas do you mock? Any?
  9. Is there an invisible barrier, such as Rinpoche describes in “his book” (The Greatest Pleasure) within the novel, that prevents you (and me) from the next spiritual level (refers to the story of the young man learning to play the piano)?
  10. Any thoughts on the episode when Otto and Rinpoche go bowling? Does that really ever happen or is it just in novels and movies?
  11. What did Buddha’s deathbed statement to his followers mean when he said “Work our your own salvation with diligence?”
  12. How comfortable are you with Rinpoche’s view of Jesus Christ vs. the angry nun’s?
  13. Any comments on the contrast between the Yanquis (Yankees) and the Mexicans that Otto encountered on his honeymoon? That is, “superiority” vs. “the world is enormous and mysterious?”
  14. Why would a bar have a sign saying “Notre Dame Stop Importing Crime, Drugs, and Homelessness for Money?”
  15. At the end of their Mexican honeymoon, what did Jeanne mean when she said, “No one runs away from anything here?”
  16. Anyone want to talk about sex? Paraphrasing Otto’s mental journey, he asks, “Why was it always the middle-aged and old people, their sexual urges barely a shadow of what they had once been, their own guilt and regrets ballooning as they aged, who insisted on telling the young to abstain?”
  17. Do you agree that as we eliminate “dirt from within the glass” (sex, food, anger, violence, greed) we simply add more “dirt” to the glass (pride)?
  18. Any comments on the Buddhist prayer that begins, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought?”
  19. Have you ever engaged in “people watching?” What have you observed contrasted to Otto and Rinpoche in their visit to downtown Chicago?
  20. What does the engineering feat of changing the direction of flow of the Chicago River say about our approach to solving problems in this country? Anything?
  21. What did you learn from Otto’s first yoga experience?
  22. Have you ever tried abstinence to enhance an experience or pleasure? Would you consider fasting an abstinence to enhance worship or spirituality? Do you practice fasting?
  23. What is the “blue space?” Have you ever been in the “blue space?” What’s it’s purpose? Does it need one?
  24. Rinpoche says “Do not force information into your mind….you think too much it pushes you from God.” What do you make of that statement?
  25. What’s your contract with God? Anything similar to “Don’t do anything evil during the week, go to church on Sunday, God will take care of the rest. Yoga classes optional?”
  26. Why do you think the Duluth professor was so antagonistic and combative to Rinpoche?
  27. If our armor is made of smartness or fear or anger or quiet or being nice or talking as Rinpoche suggests; what is your armor?
  28. Do you agree or disagree (or both) with Rinpoche’s views about terrorism and this world?
  29. Consider the “quiet space” that Rinpoche says some people have available in order to chose. Do you believe that some people do not have access to such a “quiet space?”
  30. Do you agree that “inside the big world that you cannot control, you have the small world of you that you can control?”  Is that the only answer to hunger, poverty, violence, terror and fear?
  31. Rinpoche talks about God’s music as the love that moves everything, water, stone and air. Is that poetic license? Do you believe it?
  32. How do you react now when you hear or read the words “bohling,” “meditation wife,” and “furniture golf?” What images and thoughts do they conjure up for you?
  33. What were your thoughts and how were you effected when Otto and Cecelia with Rinpoche pass the spot where Ronald and Matilda Ringling died?  Any reaction?
  34. Have you ever felt the “subversion of time…the delusion of youth…that you believe you’d never reach middle age…the delusion of middle age…(that) you could go on more or less indefinitely the way things were?” What stage are you in now? How do you think you’ll face death? Like Otto’s Grandma May…or?
  35. Ultimately, what is the message of the book? Has it changed you?
  36. Finally, were you uncomfortable with the novel’s conclusion? What was your intellectual, emotional and spiritual reaction?