CONNECT: How do you feel?
1. Conversions: McFague writes of four ‘conversions’ that changed her own views about God and the world. As you look back to your own childhood, what shaped your image of God? As you reflect on your adult life, what ‘conversions’ have you experienced (spiritual or otherwise)? How did they change your image of God? How did they change the way you see the world?
2. Your worldview: What do you value, aspire to, pursue, cling to?
3. Your credo: What are some of your own deeply held beliefs?
CONTENT: What do you think?
1. A working theology: McFague says “a few beliefs, carefully thought through and actually functioning at personal and public levels, may be more significant than a comprehensive, systematic, but loosely embraced theology.” (p. 4) Do you agree?
2. A Christian credo: McFague gives her readers a credo: carefully considered, deeply held beliefs that affect her acts and attitudes as a Christian. What key assertions does McFague make about God? the world? Jesus Christ? the Spirit of God? sin? salvation? How you understand these terms?
3. Consumerism: Sallie McFague argues that consumerism ‘the religion of our time.’ (See p. 11) Webster’s defines religion as ‘the service and worship of God or the supernatural; commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance; a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes beliefs and practices.’ In what ways is consumerism a ‘religion’?
COMMITMENT: What can you do?
1. Limitation and sacrifice: Our culture’s definition of the abundant life does not include limitations or sacrifice. On the other hand, love is central to the Christian understanding of God. What kinds of limitations and sacrifices could you accept in order to act in love for the well-being of others?
2. Prayer: What role do prayer and spirituality – practicing the presence of God – play in McFague’s understanding of the Christian way of life? What role do they play in your own spiritual practice?
3. Acting for the well-being of others: Dorothy Day said, “I wanted the life abundant…. I wanted it for others, too.” As a consumer, what are some practical ways you could act for the well-being of others?
These questions have been adapted from The Alternative Good Life: A Study Guide to Life Abundant, by David C. Teel. Published by Fortress Press.