The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. According to the National Women’s History Museum, “Sarah Moore Grimke and Angelina Emily Grimke’ were the only white people of either gender who were born in the upper-class South, but rejected that luxurious lifestyle to fight against slavery. They also were among the very first to see the close connection between abolitionism and women’s rights.” In this novel, based on their story, boundaries are crossed, friendships are made, cruelty is revealed, and hope survives.
Seldom Seen: A Journey into The Great Plains by Patrick Dobson. I May 1995, with nothing but a backpack and a vague sense of disquiet, the author left his home and a steady deadening job in Kansas City. Over the next two and a half month he made his way to Helena, Montana. He not only meets a series of very interesting people and makes a difference in their lives, but introduces the reader to a clearer understanding about the meaning of relationships and life. Canoeing the Great Plains: A Missouri River Summer is part two of this adventure in our wonderful part of the country. This time Patrick travels down the Missouri river and communes with nature and people. As the mile’s float by and the distinctions blur between himself and what he formerly called nature, Dobson comes to grips with his past, his fears, and his life beyond the river. Patrick Dobson will be with us for this conversation. You can read both his books or pick one in preparation of the time together.
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. Between 1854 and 1929, so-called orphan train ran regularly from the cities of the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, carrying thousands of abandoned children whose fates would be determined by pure luck. The National Orphan Train Complex is in Concordia, Kansas. Several of you have visited this complex and others could visit it soon. This book follows the story of several specific children. You can explore and bring additional stories to the conversation.
Silence by Shūsaku Endō. It is the story of a Jesuit missionary sent to 17th century Japan, who endures persecution in the time of Kakure Kirishitan ("Hidden Christians") that followed the defeat of the Shimabara Rebellion. The recipient of the 1966 Tanizaki Prize, it has been called "Endo's supreme achievement" and "one of the twentieth century's finest novels". Written partly in the form of a letter by its central character, the theme of a silent God who accompanies a believer in adversity was greatly influenced by the Catholic Endō's experience of religious discrimination in Japan, racism in France, and a debilitating bout with tuberculosis. The movie based on this book was released in January of 2017.
Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet by Mark Lynas. Six degrees may not sound like much, but as this sobering, engrossing, up-to the minute book warns, a six-degree rise in Earth’s average temperature would be enough to reshape our world almost beyond recognition. Mark Lynas explains the processes and examines the effects of this unprecedented phenomenon, drawing on the full range of state-of-the-art research and sophisticated computer models that show conclusively that today’s climate change is a new and different challenge.
The Wolf at Twilight: An Indian Elder’s Journey through a Land of Ghosts and Shadows by Kent Nerburn. Some journey's take a lifetime to complete, especially when you are on another person's time. The author returns to visit an Elder Indian friend who has a strange but delicious request. First is the burial of his dog and second is to find out about a long-lost sister. Kent's commitment to assist in the long search results in a deepening understand between friends and a growing respect for another culture. Something’s we will never understand, but lack of understanding need not hinder love and compassion.
Chances Are… Adventures in Probability by Michael Kaplan and Ellen Kaplan.
This fascinating layman's trek through probability theory, from its roots in dice games in the seventeenth century to its role in modern-day thermodynamics, tackles humanity's innate need to seek order in even the most chaotic phenomena. The authors, a mother-and-son team, address simple problems (How many shuffles make a deck of cards truly random? At least seven) and more complex ones (Can time move backward? Yes, but it's unlikely). They do not avoid mathematical equations, but both have backgrounds in the humanities, and their sense of whimsy—"Once you know that daisies usually have an odd number of petals, you can get anyone to love you"—allows them to draw stimulating conclusions.
Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger.
We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding--"tribes." This tribal connection has been largely lost in modern society, but regaining it may be the key to our psychological survival. Combining history, psychology, and anthropology, TRIBE explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. It explains the irony that-for many veterans as well as civilians-war feels better than peace, adversity can turn out to be a blessing, and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. TRIBE explains why we are stronger when we come together, and how that can be achieved even in today's divided world.
The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan tells the story of those who survived the Great American Dust Bowl. Some of our parents could be a part of these stories. After reading the book, you can further prepare by interviewing some of your elders who either remember or have stories they were told about this period in the Great Plains between 1901- 1939. Timothy Egan is the same author who wrote The Big Burn which we discussed in Vital Conversations.
Islam and The Future of Tolerance, A Dialogue Sam Harris (author of The End of Faith) and Maajid Nawaz (author of Radical). We have read and discussed both these authors in the past. In this short book, you are invited to join an urgently needed conversation: Is Islam a religion of peace or war? Is it amenable to reform? What do words like Islamism, jihadism, and fundamentalism mean in today’s world?
One Hope: Re-Membering the Body of Christ. 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. The split between Roman Catholics and Lutherans played a major role in that series of events that changed the Church. This is a resource for those interested in exploring greater cooperation between part of “The Body of Christ.” The essays in One Hope are the product of an intense collaborative process by six gifted scholars and pastoral leaders, three Lutheran and three Catholic.
Selections are subject to change. If you would like to be reminded and have additional information, contact David Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (816) 453-3835
Appreciative Inquiry Evaluation of Past Year and Planning for 2018
The Human Agenda