Series will explore Gospel of Thomas

The Rev. Ed Leigh will begin a three-week discussion of the Gospel of Thomas Sunday at St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church.

The topic of the first session will be "The Early Gnostic Movement in the Jesus Community." This movement followed an alternative path in the interpretation of the significance of Jesus' message and ministry.

"The Gnostic emphasis was on inner spiritual growth and a disdain for ecclesiastical formulas and hierarchical structures, and in this respect it was remarkably similar to some contemporary forms of spirituality," according to church member Jerry Gill. "By the 4th century this movement was deemed heretical, and its writings, such as the Gospel of Thomas, were set aside."

People who attend the discussion series are encouraged to read "The Gnostic Gospels" by Elaine Pagels and "Jesus and Buddha" by Marcus Borg and Jack Kornfield.

Leigh is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and has made an in-depth study of the Gnostic movement and especially of the Gospel of Thomas.

The discussions, free and open to the public, will be held at 11 a.m. the next three Sundays in the Center at St. Francis, 4625 E. River Road, at North Swan Road.

For more information, call the church office at 299-9063.

Book event to feature 'Painted Girls' author

The Circle of Book Clubs is presenting an event featuring Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of "The Painted Girls," a work of historical fiction set in Paris during the 1880s.

The Circle of Book Clubs is a grass-roots fundraising committee of the Pima Library Foundation. All proceeds from author events benefit the foundation's endowment.

The event will be from 7 to 9 p.m. May 10 at the home of Sally Gunderman, 10066 E. Kleindale Road. It will feature food and wine catered by Jonathan's Cork and an "Introduction to Degas" by Stevie Mack of CRiZMAC Art and Cultural Marketplace.

Cost is $35. For more information, including how to RSVP, call Marcia Fisher at 982-3583 by May 2.

Born and raised in Niagara Falls, Buchanan now lives in Toronto. Her previous novel, "The Day the Falls Stood Still." was a New York Times best seller.

Here's a synopsis of "The Painted Girls," provided by Rosa Rosenberg of the Circle of Book Clubs:

Facing dire poverty following the sudden death of their father, the van Goethem sisters must find work. Marie trains for the ballet and poses for Edgar Degas. Antoinette finds work as an extra in a stage adaptation of Emile Zola's "L'Assommoir." As the novel unfolds, each girl will be confronted by the darker temptations of "civilized society" and ultimately realize that salvation and survival can only lie with each other.

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