Discussion Questions

Talking Story

Questions for The Surface of Water

  • The Surface of Water explores multiple themes. One theme focuses on the discomfort or ambivalence we may have over things our culture praises (looks, wealth, image, power). Explain how Pastor Matthew Goodman’s ambivalence manifested itself. How did Trish’s?
  • What other themes do you see in this novel?
  • Water has symbolic meaning throughout the story. What meaning would you say it has? Give examples.
  • When you finished, what social justice issue did you feel more aware of?
  • Which characters did you relate to the most or the least? Who did you admire?
  • If you were Trish and found yourself in this tough situation, what would you do the same? Different? What motivated her caution?
  • Matthew Goodman had gone dead spiritually. As he reawakens, he missteps in his relationship to Trish. How might you explain it?
  • Goodman shows his humanity behind the image. Some Calvary members preferred his image. Why might we do this to spiritual leaders?
  • How do you explain Trish’s reluctance to pursue a relationship with Andrés?
  • María is known as “the hands of God” at Trentwood, and her hands bear scars that show one way this life cost her. How does she understand the suffering she’s endured?
  • In your opinion, does Pastor Goodman live at the end—or does he die? What makes you conclude this?
  • Christian culture can depart from true Christianity. How would you name the dark places in Christian culture we encounter in The Surface of Water?
  • If this story awoke you to an aspect of God, spiritual truth, or being human, what did it alert you to or remind you about?