1. What is your initial reaction to the story of Eric Shannon? Anger? Fear? Sadness? Confusion? How does your reaction compare to that of Eric’s stepfather, Charles Dunham? How does it compare to the example of Jesus?
2. Do you find yourself besieged by any of the fears the author describes in chapter 2? What is your level of anxiety and what are its sources? Is there any level of anxiety that is healthy?
3. Think back over your life. Do you believe you are a relatively fearful person? Do you view such fear as rational or irrational? How fearful can we be of the world if we truly have fear of God?
4. The author writes, “I’d made him [God] into the Joker.” What does she mean? What picture have you created of God, and what distortions may be present? How do we allow God to reveal himself more completely to us, so that we see Him and not some warped image that we’ve created?
5. What is the religion of Certainosity as the author describes it? Could you be considered an adherent of this creed? Should we go about proclaiming what we believe? Is there a better way to do this? Are there truths that must be declared with absolute, unflinching certainty?
6. The author writes that God “doesn’t barter on Green Stamps.” What does she mean and what leads her to this conclusion? Do you agree with her? How does this story about the family at the end of chapter 5 demonstrate this?
7. Are you familiar with the rhetoric of Pat Robertson or the Reverend Phelps that the author discusses in chapter 7? Do you think it was fair of the author to lump the two together in this fashion? A significant number of American Christians support Robertson. What are your views of him? How do they compare to the author’s? What would you say to Robertson if you had the chance to talk to him?
8. Have you ever known an openly gay person? If so, did you treat him or her differently because of his or her sexuality? In the light of the questions the author raises about the equality of homosexuality with gossip and lying in the spectrum of sins, what do you think a proper Christian view of homosexuality is? What should be the church’s response? There was a time when divorce was considered an awful sin. Should we treat homosexuals any different the we do divorced people? Why or why not?
9. How do you respond to the radical forgiveness the Amish people in the Nickel Mines exhibit? Could you do the same? Is there any act that is unforgivable?
10. The author argues for the importance of loving one’s self in order to love others. Why is it important to first love yourself? What does that allow you to do? Can you think of examples from your life that demonstrate this principle?
11. Have you ever experienced grief so great you questioned your faith? If so, what brought you through that? Maybe you still question your faith. If so, describe your feelings. Does believing in God’s presence give you any comfort?
12. The author writes about “practicing faith.” What does she mean by this? How does it help her? Do events in your life lead you to agree or disagree with her? Why?
13. Are you familiar with the views of Ann Coulter that the author discusses? If so, why do you think Coulter is so popular among certain Christians? What does the author say about why she’s popular? What does that say about our culture?
14. Take a moment to think about the language you use to discuss your own beliefs. Do you often resort to militaristic metaphors? Spend a week or more paying close attention to the metaphors you use. Then reflect on the metaphors you should use.
15. Do you find yourself dwelling on the bad news, like the women in the restaurant in chapter 15? If so, what effects do you think this has on you, or on those around you? What could you do to change your habits in this regard?