The Color of Light – Reading Guide

1–Reverend Analiese Wagner feels the pressure of ministering to a large, active congregation with contentious lay leadership. Exhaustion makes her question her own calling. 1700 ministers leave ministry each month citing, among other problems, exhaustion, depression and negative impact on family. How realistic were Analiese’s feelings and responses in relation to your own experiences with pastors or priests, or with professional leaders in other institutions you’re familiar with?

2–When Analiese and Ethan Martin find a homeless family in need of a place to spend the night, she offers them an empty apartment in the church parish house. What would you have done in her place? Did you feel she overstepped her authority?

3–How did you feel when, in reaction to the church council’s criticism, Analiese suggests two outrageous solutions for housing the Fowlers. Was she justified?

4–Analiese and Isaiah Colburn have been in love for years, but as a Roman Catholic priest Isaiah couldn’t act on or acknowledge his feelings. Could you understand and accept both Isaiah’s struggle with his calling, and his desire to change his life? How did you hope that story thread would be resolved? Were you able to accept the way that it was?

5–Before reading The Color of Light, were you aware how many families in the United States are homelesss? The National Coalition for the Homeless reports that 41% of the homeless population are families, and homelessness disrupts virtually every aspect of family life. Poverty and the lack of affordable housing are prime causes. Did you get a clearer vision of the problem by following the Fowler family’s story? Did you think of ways homeless families might be helped?

6–At fourteen Shiloh is the Fowler most willing and able to act to keep her family together and fed. Both Man and Belle are barely coping, victims of both depression and pride. Were you able to emphasize with all of them?

7–Helping people can be fraught with difficulties. Analiese had to repair damage caused by well-meaning members of her congregation, as well as fight others who didn’t want to help at all. Can you think of moments in your own life when your help has been appreciated or criticized? Can you think of moments when you needed help and didn’t know how to find the right kind?

8–Shiloh’s trust in an adult she admires is badly betrayed, and in retaliation she destroys something precious that belongs to the church. Under the circumstances could you understand her action? Would you be able to forgive her?

9–Both Analiese and Isaiah find it difficult to reach out to others for help and comfort. Do you think it’s harder for people in ministry or “helping professions” to ask for help and accept it when it’s needed?

10–The Church of the Covenant helps make a difference in the lives of the Fowlers and gives them the hand up that they need. Do you believe that churches can make a significant contribution when they reach out to those in need in their community? Do you think that’s a part of what they’re called to do?