In the introduction to Earthen Vessels, I wrote that my hope was that the book would generate conversation within our quirky movement about our physical bodies and the role they play in God’s redemptive purposes in our lives and the world.

I haven’t given up on that hope.  In fact, I’m doubling down.

Since the book was released, I have realized two things:

1)   The book is best read in a small group setting.  

I’ll admit it:  it’s more dense fare than I had hoped and probably more challenging than most people expected.  But that and some reasonably controversial subject matter make it a perfect text to kick around over coffee with seven of your closest friends.

2)   I really, really like talking with people about the body and theology.  Really.

Which brings me to this:

Introducing the “Author meets Critics” Sessions

Here’s how it works: if you gather together a small group of at least eight people who all buy and read Earthen Vessels, I will have a one-hour discussion with your group about the book and the questions it raises for you all. 

I would love to do a one-on-one conversation with everyone, but my wife might kill me.  And that would undermine the benefits of reading the book and discussing it with others.  Which is really what I hope happens.

Here’s the bullet point version:

    • At least 8 people
    • Everyone buys and reads the book (honor system–I’m not going to ask)
    • Preferably your group will meet a few times beforehand to discuss the book, but again, I’m not going to ask.
    • Up to one hour of Q&A and discussion about the book, to be scheduled for some time between now and the end of 2012.
    • I will use Skype video chat, which means that all 8 participants need not be in the same location.  We can do a group chat or Google+ hangout.  Doesn’t matter to me.
    • Opportunity limited to the first 52 groups, one for each week of a year, so sign your group up now.

This is probably the most exciting thing I’ve ever done through Mere-O.  And frankly, it’s was to create these sorts of interactions with readers that I wrote the book in the first place.

But I still need your help.

Will you take a minute and email the friends you have in mind about this?  And will you spread the word on Facebook and Twitter?

Will you spend four minutes deliberating about who in your life might enjoy a book like Earthen Vessels, and whose experience of it might be enhanced by a discussion around it?

And would you consider signing a group up?

I can’t thank you enough for your support, kindness, and encouragement during this process.  I am thrilled to try to give back a fraction of that through this project.


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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.


  1. Genius idea.

    I’m sad that for most folks in my church this book is a little bit too mind-bending for them, but it think it would make a brilliant book to incorporate in any kind of Christian college class in any of the liberal arts disciplines, as well as practical theology classes. My mental wheels are churning about my contacts list….


  2. And I’m also sad that my typing can’t brain this morning with all those typos.. . :)


    1. Matthew Lee Anderson September 14, 2011 at 11:12 am

      Hah! Well, don’t sell your people short. I am constantly surprised about how people will rise to meet the challenges that are put before them. : )



  3. Christopher Benson September 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    This is a fine idea, and I hope it works out for you.

    I wonder if you thought your “book would generate conversation within our quirky movement” because you’re beholden to the view of cultural change that James Davison Hunter disabuses in his book, namely that ideas have consequences. And they do. I don’t want to argue that ideas are inconsequential. But they simply don’t have as much consequence as we tend to think they do. Enter institutions. I wonder how the ideas in your book can be thread into the warp and woof of institutions, most importantly the church. I suppose these small groups is a first step.


    1. Matthew Lee Anderson September 14, 2011 at 3:14 pm

      Thanks, Christopher.

      Not surprisingly, I disagree with your characterization of my understanding of cultural change. I hoped to provoke a conversation not because I wanted to “change the world,” but because I think discussion is the appropriate next step when interacting with a book. And I don’t think that Hunter would disagree.



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