w=600px bottom    “  ”  — ‘  ’


Except for monthly Vital Conversations convened by David Nelson, CRES programs arise by request. Our management principle is "management by opportunity." Every year we are delighted by the number of opportunties given to us, as, for example, last year's list demonstrates. (Of course we also provide free consulation to organizations and other services as requested, not listed on our public website.)
This page is continuously updated.
INDEX 600-10x2=580px 
Events listed by date, earlist first


General Announcements Link to eBlast Archive
1982 - 2012 Archive on request About CRES participation
.
On-line Archived Program Announcements and Reports 

2021   2020     2019   2018     2017   2016     2015   2014     2013

.

Transcendent meanings from COVID-19?
Essay for the Interfaith Council Newsletter 
also  yellow box on Vern's Sidebar page

 2022  PROGRAM LINKS -- REPORTS -- DETAILS
Vital ConversationsProgram, 2d Wed 1-2:30 pm          Coffee, 4th Wed 8 am
Photos and reports are arranged by month
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec




#MLK

King Holiday Essay —  2022 January 7 and Jan17
     Download a PDF of Vern's 2-page summary of the genius of the spiritual approach of Martin Luther King Jr by clicking this link.
     You can also read the Letter from a Birmingham Jail here.


February 1-7
  
To celebrate World Interfaith Harmony week, we offer one of our most cited essays, "Stealing Another's Faith." The question of honoring without misappropriating material from others is not so easy, and this essay raises awareness so faiths can be less in conflict and more in harmony. Read, download this PDF, and share this important essay by Vern -- with excerpts from Huston Smith and Harvey Cox.



#220208

A Martian Muses on Monotheism

2021 Febuary 8 Tuesday 1 pm Zoom link posted here by Monday.
Retired Clergy of All Faiths -- guests welcome

Zoom Meeting Recording may be available soon.

      
  What would a Martian report after surveying the religions of our planet? How are monotheistic faiths similar to one another and different from primal and Asian faiths? Vern has seen a purloined copy of the Martian's study, and discloses these findings to the group, offers an exercise for individual assessments of the strength of various dimensions of faith in one's experience (creed, code, cultus, community), and welcomes questions and responses.
     Vern suggestions preparing for the program by having paper and marker handy. You can draw two empty circles in advance.
      A summary of the Martian report is here below. following a few reminders about "religion." MORE HERE.
  

CAVEATS FOR THE STUDY OF “RELIGION”
   1. “Religion” as often understood today developed from the Reformation’s distinction between secular and church domains, and from the West’s Enlightenment categories of thought.
   2. Religions don't differ from each other so much by offering different answers to the similar questions as by exploring different questions. Religions are like more like different games and sports (chess, baseball, charades, tennis, swimming), with different rules, scoring, and outcomes, rather than like a football league with different teams playing each other.
   3. Religions change throughout history.
   4. Religions are influenced by one another and sometimes incorporate elements from each other.
   5. Within a single tradition, many variations are common.
   6. Boundaries around religions vary, some tight, some porous.
   7. Even religions that emphasize theoretical concerns retain elements of the earlier unitive (mystical, "peak" experiences), enactive (ritual), and narrative (story) developments.
   8. Scholars who seek to identify components or dimensions of religions sometimes use the scheme of  4 C's: Creed (concepts or "beliefs"), Code (rules, moral expectations), Cultus (ritual practices), and Community (informal and institutional shapes and boundaries of adherents relating to one another). MOST RELIGIONS are not as focused on "beliefs" as much as many Christians.
 


    #Monotheisms
 
From the Martian Report:
CHARACTERISTICS OF MONOTHEISM

   1. Monotheisms find the sacred in historical events and processes.
   2. Most monotheisms identify a singular or pivotal event in history.
   3. Most focus on the disharmony between God's will and the existing social order.
   4. Revelation is mediated, often creating interpretive and doctrinal concerns.
   5. Usually a covenant is the basis of the community.
   6. Eschatological expectations and incipient dualism may be weak or strong.
   7. Mysticism is not normative, and often secondary, perhaps even judged heretical.
   8. Stephen Prothero identifies the problem each of the three main monotheistic faiths seeks to answer. For Judaism, the problem is exile from God; the solution is keeping the commandments. For Christianity, the problem is sin; the solution is salvation through Christ. For Islam, the problem is self-sufficiency; the solution is submission to the will of God.

T W O    E X A M P L E S    O F    T H E    C O V E N A N T     E M P H A S I S
The Lord’s Prayer
220130

BY ADAM HAMILTON
Special to The Star
2022 January 30
  ML King's BELOVED COMMUNITY

“The Beloved Community,” a term from Josiah Royce and applied by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

https://thekingcenter.org/about-tkc/the-king-philosophy/

#HelpWithBook



#ZenHappiness

Zen and Happiness: Practical Insights and Meditations to Cultivate Joy in Everyday Life
By Joshua R. Paszkiewicz
ISBN: 9781638784784

Reviewed by Vern Barnet

Zen masters may be able to personally guide their students toward happiness, but few masters are also able to convey such guidance to those they have never met by writing a book. Dr Paszkiewicz is such a master, celebrated internationally, and his Zen and Happiness  is such a book. 

The book's guidance is practical, with background, examples, exercises, and summaries, all in less than 150 remarkably lucid pages.

Zen awareness is accessible to those of any faith, or none. Zen happiness is not limited to a monastic or retreat setting, but can be practiced eating breakfast, driving to or from work, at work, at home -- anywhere. An unusual virtue of this book is its concluding chapter, "Zen Happiness When Happiness Seems Impossible," which recognizes dark moments of life, and shows how Zen awareness works even in the experience of grief.

The book recommends both a faithful, even rigorous, practice of meditation, but also an approach which is gentle and compassionate about one's failings.

I especially enjoyed the mix of stories from the rich and varied Zen traditions along with examples from today's problems and situations.

I first encountered Zen from a Chinese master over 50 years ago. This book not only recalled and refreshed the practice I then began, but enhanced and deepened my appreciation for how the Zen presented in this book can be of enormous help to so many others.

The Rev. Dr. Joshua R. Paszkiewicz is a multireligious cleric and scholar uniquely trained and transmitted in the Zen traditions of Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. He has studied and taught Zen throughout the world and has served as an official delegate to numerous notable events, including the first White House Buddhist Leaders Conference and the United Nations' World Day of Vesak. Dr. Paszkiewicz has earned a diverse array of academic degrees and certifications in the fields of religion, psychology, education, business, and healthcare. On a day-to-day basis, Joshua maintains a private practice of spiritually integrative psychotherapy, teaches traditional life protection arts, and serves as spiritual director and consultant to numerous students, teachers, and communities around the globe. He can be found online at DRJRP.com.

Josh is known locally through his many, many paths of service, including assisting the Interfaith Council through its strategic planning process. I was fortunate to have him as a graduate student at Central Baptist Theological Seminary where he was less my student than my teacher.

Vern Barnet
CRES minister emeritus

#abortion 

What does the Supreme Court abortion decision
mean for religious freedom?

For those of us given to the cause of interfaith understanding, opinions about abortion have, until now, been manageable, even welcome, in the  conversation. The right of all faith groups to practice as they see fit is protected by the United States First Amendment. Some Evangelical Christian and Roman Catholic leaders condemn all abortion, while, for example, other Christian and some Jewish leaders, among those of other faiths, believe that their traditions require different approaches to problem pregnancies (see recent opinion pieces in the Kansas City Star). The variety of opinion is healthy and contributes to our understanding of the complexities of human responses to the Sacred.

The intractable problem for those who prize religious pluralism arises when one view seeks to impose its view on others through legal compulsion. This question is raised, not too subtly, in the minority opinion of the Supreme Court ruling in discussing the legal basis chosen for the majority opinion, which according to Justice Thomas, concurring, also requires reconsideration of what have been rights of privacy including contraception and same-sex marriage, both of which are condemned in some faiths. (Justice Alito, who wrote the majority opinion, is Roman Catholic, are other justices in the majority -- Thomas, Kavanaugh, and Barrett; and Gorsuch was confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church. The minority justices Breyer and Kagen are Jewish, with Sotomayor a Roman Catholic.) The Supreme Court decision text (212 pages, majority and dissent) is here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/19-1392_6j37.pdf . 

In  2006, Missouri voters decided in favor of religious pluralism when a Stem Cell issue was placed on the ballot. At that time, Vern was asked to prepare a background paper, with a variety of views presented, to answer three questions. The first and last remain relevant.
     1. When does life begin?
     3. How can Americans can respect every faith’s opinions on this issue?

You can find this material, along with additional material directly related to abortion, in the Archive section of the CRES website at https://cres.org/pubs/2.htm . As we continue to study this controversy requiring fresh attention, additional history and opinion may be added. If it becomes necessary also to address Supreme Court decisions against contraception, certain heterosexual and homosexual behaviors, interracial marriage, and other liberties, appropriate commentary will be added in the context of interfaith understanding. One interesting possibility is a future action brought to the Supreme Court against a state that outlaws abortion in a case in which the petitioner claims an exemption from the state law on the basis of one's religious requirement to obtain an abortion in the particular circumstance.

Kansas voters soon face the question of installing one religious view as part of the law or retaining religious liberty and pluralism as Kansans consider amending the state constitution which currently allows abortion.

Legal arguments are instructive, and it is useful to see when they arise within a variety of religious perspectives. In all cases, in the midst of honest disagreements, while eschewing those who use religion to divide us politically, we must honor the sacred personhood, the genuine humanity, of everyone of good will.

The Reverend Vern Barnet, DMin
CRES minister emeritus
Founder, The Kansas City Interfaith Council

The Reverend David E Nelson, DMin
CRES senior associate minister
President, The Human Agenda




https://mailchi.mp/bd986ec70d8b/on-the-20th-anniversary-911-a-metaphorical-malady?e=d9e1721627

One way of understanding 21 years since 9/11

While the 9/11 attacks 20 years ago opened the gates of hell, the way our government has responded has brought us inside hell's domain. The smoke from that day, the acrid fumes, amplified into war, brings us purblind to the charred and hobbled Body Politic. How do we understand what has happened? How do we move forward?

One way of understanding what happened, and is still happening, is by looking at the metaphors we use to explain things and which shape our responses.


9/11: METAPHORICAL MALADY:
CRIME, WAR, DISEASE

1. Before 911, terrorism had been dealt with as a CRIME, internationally and at home. The violation of life and property in an otherwise orderly society makes the terrorist an especially despised outlaw. We employ a legal system to assure justice by punishing the criminal and removing the criminal from society. International courts have done the same.

2. But since September 11 we have used a WAR metaphor. Of course the metaphor is hardly new. We love war. We have fought the war against poverty and the war against drugs, though it is hard for us to admit defeat, even though Vietnam and Afghanistan are history now. We still fight the war against cancer, against crime, against . . . you name it.

But a war against terrorism was new. The metaphor had power because we struggled not just against isolated attack but against an organized force seeking not just advantage through harm of a target but rather destruction of a government or civilization. Though we ourselves use violence, we assumed our own righteousness would bring us victory over evil.

Both of the metaphors of crime and war too easily commend themselves because they are simple, and rest on the assumption that we are wholly good — and our opponents are completely evil.

3. A third metaphor might come closer to the complexity of the situation: DISEASE. Here the metaphor suggests not two separate, competing powers but of all humanity as a sick body, within the organs of communities, cities, and nations, afflicted in various ways, degrading or sustaining each other in different degrees, infected with individuals and groups poisoned (using Buddhist language) with greed, fear, and ignorance. Now, with COVID, we are learning that, as Martin Luther King said, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Just so, CRES insists that the three great crises of our time, in the environment, in personhood, and in the social order, are all intertwined.

And that the world's Primal, Asian, and Monotheistic traditions, respectively, provide the therapy to heal the planet, revivify personhood, and restore social order.

Let us bring the healing powers of generosity, fellowship, and understanding to one another, expanding a circle of joy in service.

Vern

On the first anniversary of 9/11, CRES opened a day-long observance beginning with a water ceremony between City Hall and the Federal Justice Center, later shown on national CBS-TV. Click here to see a 3-minute excerpt from that ritual. 

-------------
TRANSCRIPT OF REMARKS: Today is an anniversary of a day of horror that somehow brings us together as members of this community, as Americans, and as citizens of the world. As a community of many faiths, we gather to honor those who perished and to work to comfort and save all others. * In the face of disasters, we yet proclaim hope. * Water in this pool, water in our containers -- water has many meanings in the religions of the world. To answer the fireball of a year ago, we make water an emblem of hope. Kansas City is the City of Fountains. Into this pool, members of the Interfaith Council will pour waters from fountains from Independence and Lenexa, Kansas City, Kansas, and Lee's Summit, all over the metro area, along with waters from the Ganges, the Nile, the Amazon, the  the Thames, the Yangtse -- and the Kaw and the Missouri -- to say that ultimately our lives flow together, from one source and to one source. These waters become the tears of Muslims, Jews, Christians, those of all faiths. These waters will be transformed from the waters of tears into the waters which purify, the waters which douse the fire of hatred, wash away our self-righteousness, and well up as healing fountains in the heart. As these waters join, so let us unite in proclaiming hope. * Any who have come and want to taake this mixed water to your own observance in your own place of worship later in the day are welcome to come to the spot where I am standing and take water from this wonderful rich mixture.


From Aporia to Praise:
TO BE SCHEDULED
(postponed from 2020 May 24)
An observance of
the 50th anniversary of Vern Barnet's ordination
Aporia: "impasse, puzzlement, doubt."

      Vern offers his conclusions from 50 years of experience and study: in a troubled world, what paths lie forward? and how can one dare offer praise for the intertwined mix horror and beauty of existence?
* Doing theology is less like mathematics and more like expounding why you love someone.
* My passion for "world religions" in the context of the crises of secularism.
* The mystic's vision (amour fati - love of fate) and the public expression in worship.




September 23 Thursday 6:30-7:30pm
Annual TABLE OF FAITHS 
“From the Front Lines: Spirituality in Times of Crisis”
honors chaplains, first responders and many others who have played such a critical role in our lives these past months.
A Virtual Fundraiser and Signature event of
the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council
now independent but originally a program of CRES.

Vern Barnet founded the Council in 1989 and is Council Convener Emeritus. The Council newsletter has published his brief notes about three milestones in the early history of the Council.



 #ThgvgSunday


November Sunday Date to be announced
INTERFAITH THANKSGIVING GATHERING
“Promoting Interfaith Peace, Renewal and Regrowth” 

FREE online interfaith gathering -- including interfaith prayers of gratitude.
lHosted by Heartland Chapter of the Alliance of Divine Love 
Co-sponsored by Greater KC Interfaith Council
https://www.facebook.com/events/793753937932632

The annual observance was sponsored by CRES for its first 25 years. 
This year is the 36th year of the tradition and we are indeed grateful to the 
sponsors for perpetuating the recognition of the place of gratitude in every faith.



OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

WEDDINGS of all kinds click for information

We can provide a customized ceremony. We regularly work with the great folks at Pilgrim Chapel and are happy to serve at any venue. 

THANKS to Robert and Shye Reynolds, a CRES fund to assist couples with fees for weddings  has been established, to celebrate their marriage June 19, 2002, on the occasion of their thirteenth anniverary.

FORTHCOMING BOOKS 
see also
our publications page

in progress: KC Star, Many Paths columns and fresh essays:
The Three Families of Faith and the Three Crises of Secularism
     Many have asked for a compilation of columns Vern wrote for the KC Star, 1994-2012,  and the essays fatured in Many Paths. Here are tentative chapter headings for the selections:
      ? The Three Families of Faith ? Faith and the Arts  ? Science and Religion  ? Teachers of the Spirit ? Ritual and Worship ? Religion and Public Policy ? Specific Faiths (Buddhism, Islam, etc) ? Comparative topics (reincarnation, gods, water, prophets, etc) ? How the column began and ended
 

OTHER 
PROGRAMS
and SERVICES

If you would
like to engage Vern 
or another member 
of the CRES staff
for a speech,
consultation,
a wedding,
a baptism,
or other work
with your organization 
or personally, 
please visit  www.cres.org/work/services.htmor email vern@cres.org

ABOUT CRES PARTICIPATION
Having spawned several other organizations,
including the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council,
we continue to offer programs initiated by and through others
but we no longer create our own in order to focus on our unique work.
For interfaith and cultural calendars maintained by other groups, click here.




#VC

A Vital Conversation Coffee
Vital Conversations
monthly schedule
ZOOM 2nd Wedneday of the month 1-2:30 pm
MidContinent Public Library Antioch Branch, 6060 N Chestnut Ave, Gladstone, MO 64119 -- (816) 454-1306  -- to receive the zoom link:
humanagenda@gmail.com or call (816) 453-3835

You are welcome even if you have not read the book or seen the movie
A Free Monthly Discussion Group Led by David E Nelson
C R E S  senior  associate minister
president, The Human Agenda

“The purpose of a Vital Conversation is not to win an argument,
but to win a friend and advance civilization.” Vern Barnet



Vital Conversations are intentional gatherings of people to engage
in dialog that will add value to the participants and to the world. 
In Vital Conversations, we become co-creators of a better community. 
David Nelson
The discussions began May 24, 2002, at the CRES facility
 by examining Karen Armstrong’sThe Battle for God

Reading is magic and a mysterious activity that feeds the mind, transports the imagination, sooths the soul, and expands life.  It is most often done in solitude and yet connects us to so many others both near us and far from us.  Many readers enjoy the opportunity to share their reading discoveries and to expand from the sharing of others.  Reading is an important aspect of our common humanness.
David E. Nelson
Vital Conv. Coffee
an open exchange of ideas
with no preset agenda
 4th Wednesday monthly
8 am
Panera Bread
311 NE Englewood Road
Kansas City, MO 64118
816-453-2770


2022 Vital Conversations Schedule
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec


To see last year's fascinating programs, click here.


#vcJan 
January 12 Wednesday 1-2:30 p.m. on Zoom  --  (Notes from last month)

The Little White Boat: My Search for the Joy Beyond Time by Howard Martin who writes, “While I have written these pages for an audience of two, I trust that, if they have fallen into your hands, they are also for you. As you read them, I ask only this – that you receive them in the spirit with which they are given; with kindness, compassion, and openness of heart. Sit beside me now in the little white boat. Let’s row together through the storms into the still waters. Beauty below us, Beauty above us. Beauty all around.” 
     This book, written by a friend, did fall into my hands. It is a memoir that shares a life and connects me to literature from many ages. Howard will be with us to share his stories and his life. --David Nelson

Quotations and questions selected by David Nelson
“It’s the great mystery of human life
 that old grief passes gradually into a quiet tender joy.”
--Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Releasing conversation:
Share your name and make a brief comment about the above quotation.

1. “They were both born—like their older sister—with Hurler Syndrome.  Their stories are so intertwined in my memory that I cannot adequately disentangle them.” P. 12.  What is Hurler Syndrome and how is it treated?  Why is this important in your life Howard?

2.  “With her gentle whispers and kind caresses, Rene Martin nurtured a loving family into being and traveled a short while with it toward the sun…Because of her, I found it possible, ultimately, to believe in the existence of an eternal Beloved, whose presence is manifest in all of creation, always and everywhere, the loving center of gravity of all that exists…It was my first intuition of paradise.” P. 38. What is an “intuition of paradise” and how has it evolved throughout your life?

3. “There are beloved people who come into our lives as companions for a season, and then there are those who have been there from the beginning.” P. 97 Who have been some of your companions for a season?

4. “In a sense, my brother Bryn was—and remains—the other side of my very self…” p. 104-105. Please read out loud as we listen.  Did any of you have such a companion in your life, sibling, friend, or other?  “As I write this, my brother is ill, and I ponder the real possibility that he will leave this life before me.  Yet I choose to believe that there will be a time beyond Time when we will laugh together, my brother and I – and indeed all of us – in an unimaginable symphony of Joy.” P. 106.  Update us about your brother. 

5. “It became my hope, in my later years as a professor and arts educator, to offer in the classroom moments where my students could feel the goodness and rightness – and safety – of that “somewhere” else.  In that sense, I would come to think of my teaching as a means of nurturing spiritual life, an introduction to the care of the soul.” P. 108. How did you get away with that in public education?  Can real life be explored without some discussion of the spiritual?

6. “To this day, Sairey Gamp (character in Dickens) lightens my spirit and makes me laugh…What does it matter that there is no such person as Sairey Gamp in the real world?  She arises from somewhere in the human spirit.   The genius of Charles Dicken found her somewhere. So much the better for me and, I think, for all of us…All I had to so was let a film or a book take me there.” P.111-112. How can we nurture intimacy with a character in a novel or film?  Can any of you share other examples of fictional characters that have made a difference in your life?

7. “I was fast becoming aware that suffering and loss were not just themes in my own story, but were unavoidable strands in the tapestry of other lives as well, universal realities in the human condition that would require all my efforts to understand.  I would need a story of some kind – a really good story – to help me get there.” P 121 Do you have a story “big enough” to encompass the complex quandaries of your life?

8. “As a child and as a fledging adult in my teens and early twenties, I more often than not felt overwhelmed, rather than gently nurtured, by religion.  A great flood of religious dogma and practice overwhelmed the tiny channels of my interior life…Like a member of a secret society, I was initiated into this culture by repeating words…” born in sin,” or “justified by faith,” and “saved by the blood.” P 124-125. What is the role of religion in your life? 

9. “Poems—and novels and plays—were about my own inner life, my own life of felt imagination.  They were also, but extension, about the inner life of every person I knew and indeed every person on the planet.” P 139 “It seemed that whereas in religion there was a tendency to turn flesh into words, in the theatre there was an instinct to the opposite—to embody ideas in the multi-dimensional actualities of character and story.” P 139. Say more about the difference you have discovered between the church and the theater.

10. “We bear our sorrows bravely for the most part and even in the midst of them look for the return of joy.  It may well be that the experience of joy returning after times of great sadness can—if we so choose—prepare our hearts for the coming of the Great Joy beyond time.  Our sorrow and our joy are both ways in which we are, as Abraham Heschel so beautifully put it, ‘in travail with God’s dream.’” P 187. We all experience sorrow.  Why do some seem to never choose the joy that can follow?

“What’s lost is nothing to what’s found
and all the death that ever was would scarcely full a cup.”
--Frederick Buechner

Here is Clif Hostetler's review on Goodreads.com 


This memoir tells of the author's growing up in New Zealand, moving to the United States for college, and remaining in the USA for marriage and raising a family. Beyond the timeline of life's activities, friends, and family, the author also attempts to describe a search for transcendence beyond everyday life that the subtitle of the book refers to as the "joy beyond time."

There was a point in the book where the author describes the feelings of perceived insight that came from studying and learning about fictional characters in theatrical dramas and novels. I was impressed with the clarity with which this experience was expressed because I have been trying to communicate similar ideas in my own book reviews. Then later in the book I learned he had advanced academic degrees in Theater, and he had been a lecturer at the University of Missouri at Kansas City many years for an introductory class titled, "How Theater Can Change Your Life." No wonder he is able to articulate so clearly the merits of theater and fiction.

I was impressed that the author was willing to let his wife advance in the world of academia while he settled for being adjunct professor. This role reversal from the stereotypical norm allowed him to pursue other creative ventures and spend summer vacations with his two sons. The author is my approximate contemporary age wise, so in a hopeful sense this book could be an example for me to aspire to achieve if I were to write my own memoir. But I despair at the comparison because I'll not be able to match his writing skill.

The following are two excerpts from the book that I've decided to provide here to represent nature of the writing found in this book.

In the following excerpt the author describes his maturing beyond the conservative Christian faith of his younger years.

And so it was that I began to shift my focus from an anxious search in the forest of religion to a more restful surrender in the glade of simple trust. It was a shift of focus, not an attainment. I began to know a little of what it mean to rest in the grace of the world and breathe free. I was taken back to the whispers of the divine in the beauties of the natural world, the lives of kind and humble human beings, and to the miraculous stories of homeward return—like that of the prodigal son—I had heard in my earliest days. (p.214)

The author ends the book with the following paragraph in which he ties his boyhood memories of time spent in a small white boat with his continuing experience of life today.

In memory, I can still see my self as a kid floating in the safety of the little white boat. I see a time when I drifted in stillness on the glassy surface of the lake, the beauty around me mirrored in a Beauty within. I see a time when the waters seemed to rise up against me and, even with my brave little brother alongside, I felt vulnerable and afraid. I see a time when a great launch, regal in its trim of polished wood and brass, slowed down its heavy engines and smoothed the angry waves before me. And, as I follow in the wake of this Majestic Apparition, I see—even now—the sun-drenched shores of Home glowing on the farther shore.

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

#vcFeb
February 9 Wednesday 1-2:30 p.m. on Zoom  --  (Notes from last month)

Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin.

In one of the greatest American classics, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity. Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin tells the story of the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem. Originally published in 1953, Baldwin said of his first novel, “Mountain is the book I had to write if I was over going to write anything else.”

Releasing Conversation:  In Baldwin’s book several of the chapters are called “prayers.”  Share your name and say something about prayer.  What is prayer?  How do you pray? What does prayer accomplish?

Quotations and questions selected by David Nelson:

1. “It was his hatred and his intelligence that he cherished, the one feeding the other. He lived for the day when his father would be dying, and he, John, would curse him on his deathbed.” 17. Describe John’s relationship to and with his father.  What was his father’s relationship with John? With God? With himself?

2. “’Sugar-plum, what you want to be so evil with your baby for? Don’t you know you done made me go out and get drunk, and I wasn’t a-fixing to do that?  I wanted to take you out somewhere tonight.’  And, while he spoke, his hand was on her breast, and his moving lips brushed her neck.  And this caused such a war in her as could scarcely be endured.” 88-89. Describe the interaction between these two people.  Why does this kind of abuse seem so addictive?  How do people escape this type of relationships?

3. “These, God’s ministers, had indeed grown fat, and their dress was rich and various. They had been in the field so long that they did not tremble before God any more.  They took God’s power as their due, as something that made the more exciting their own assured, special atmosphere.” 111.  “Having possessed Esther, the carnal man awoke, seeing the possibility of conquest everywhere.  He was made to remember that though he was holy he was yet young; the women who had wanted him wanted him still; he had but to stretch out his hand and take what he wanted – even sisters in the church.” 133-134.  How have you experienced religious leadership?  What happens when religious leaders no longer “tremble before God”? 

4. “Yet, most strangely, and from deeps not before discovered, his faith looked up; before the wickedness that he saw, the wickedness from which he fled, he yet beheld like a flaming standard in the middle of the air, that power of redemption to which he must, till death, bear witness; which, though it crush him utterly, he could not deny, though non among the living might ever behold it, he had beheld it, and must keep the faith.  He would not go back into Egypt for friend, or lover, or bastard son; he would not turn his face from God, no matter how deep might grow the darkness in which God hid His face from him.”  144-145.  For some repentance/conversion is instant and forever; for some it is an ongoing process throughout life.  How have you experienced and witness the mystery of grace and the love of the creator?

5. “I just decided me one day that I was going to get to know everything them white bastards know, and I was going to get to know it better than them, so could no white son-of-a-bitch nowhere never talk me down, and never make me feel like I was dirt, when I could read him the alphabet, back, front, and sideways.  Shit—he weren’t going to beat my ass, then.” 178.  Claiming innate human power and dignity results in letting go of conditioned roles. How has “Black Lives Matter” changed the dynamics of present-day culture?  Describe how different individuals and communities changed and responded to BLM.

6. “Then they rose, to come together over a great basin filled with water.  And they divided into four groups, two of women and two of men; and they began, woman before women, and man before man, to wash each other’s feet.  But the blood could not wash off; many washings only turned the crystal water red; and someone cried: ‘Have you been to the river?’  Then John saw the river, and the multitude was there…I, John, saw a city, way in the middle of the air, Waiting, waiting, waiting up there.” 216-217 – read on.  Talk about this vision.  Does it remind you of other visions you have read about or seen in films? What is happening in your imagination as you read it?

Other quotations from James Baldwin. Pick one or several James Baldwin quotations and share your reflections on why he is such an important voice and human being. 
 

q1. “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.”

q2. “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

q3. “Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.”

q4. “I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

q5. “I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.”

q6. “Freedom is not something that anybody can be given.  Freedom is something people take and people are as free as they want to be.”

q7. “It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”

q8. “Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does.  Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.”

Here is Clif Hostetler's review on Goodreads.com 

This novel tells a story of teenaged John Grimes living in the 1930s Harlem district of New York City with his African American family and their charismatic Christianity. His stepfather is a deacon in the church and part time preacher who tries to impose restrictions on John and his half brother Roy hoping to prevent their exposure to the worldly and sinful Harlem community.

The book’s chronology goes back in time for Part 2 of the book to explore the family’s roots in the American South to tell the stories of step-aunt Florence, step-father Gabriel, and mother Elizabeth.

Then Part 3 of the book provides a vivid description of an ecstatic born-again experience of the book's protagonist, young John Grimes.

My favorite quotation from the book:

“Look like,” she said, “you think the Lord’s a man like you; you think you can fool Him like you fool men, and you fool men, and you think He forgets, like men. But God don’t forget nothing, Gabriel — if your name’s down there in the Book, like you say, it’s got all what you done right down there with it. And you going to answer for it, too.”

In the above quotation, Gabriel is counting on the grace of God to forgive his sins. Florence, the speaker, reminds him of the damaged souls he’s left in his wake, and she warns him to stop making life miserable for Elizabeth and John or else she will make sure everybody learns about his unsavory past.

I’m siding with Florence in the quotation above, and I’m not so sure about the virtue of God’s grace in this case.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

#vcMar
March 9 Wednesday 1-2:30 p.m. on Zoom
Meeting ID: 832 3534 6541
Passcode: 076621
 

Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry that Radicalized America
by Ryan Busse 

“Ryan Busse presents a fascinating, clear-eyed account of the gun industry’s slide into extremism. I was  left with a sense of hope that there is a path forward; one where the majority of Americans, including the  majority of gun owners, stand up to the gun lobby bullying and demand lasting change.” --Gabby Giffords  “Gunfight reveals the truth about the roots of our national division, and many people will see themselves in  Busse’s resistance to extremism.” --Jon Tester, three-term Montana Senator
 

Releasing conversation:   Share your name and list an organization you support. Quotations and Questions selected by David Nelson

1. “I came to understand that for my dad and me, like many gun owners, guns like this were more than tools.  They were symbols of our hopes and of our relationship to each other.  They represented things that we wanted to be true.  Unlike a hammer or a shovel, we had a deep emotional connection to these tools.”  24-25. Say a bit more about guns as symbols of hopes and of your relationship to each other.  Why are guns central to this deep emotional connection?

2. “I brought to Kalispell (Montana) all of the work ethic my parents taught me…and my limited view of politics.  I was busy chasing success and didn’t give politics much consideration other than to know I was a hardworking, red-blooded, gunrunning American.  In other words, I thought of myself as Republican.” 36. Describe the journey of your career.  Why were you so successful?

3. “During the whole debate, as I cut my teeth in this industry, manufacturers, dealers, and consumers went into a frenzy.  All the uncertainty and attention, plus a strong fear and distrust of Bill and Hillary Clinton, meant that consumers rushed to buy any guns that might be banned, and gun sales exploded.” 63 Why were mass shootings good for the gun industry?  Some of us think that such tragic events would result in stricter legislation against guns.

4. “I became a prominent player in the gun industry.  No one could deny I played a key role in helping the NRA (National Rifle Association) build the foundation for a new brand of national politics that demanded almost religious devotion.  There was only one unwritten but clearly understood line of scripture in this new political church: ‘100 percent loyalty and no one steps out of line. Period. The organization had learned to be unforgiving. 117 How was the NRA different from other member organizations?  Can you illustrate what that means?

5. “The Blackfeet called this part of what is now Montana the Badger-Two Medicine, named for the nearby Badger and the Two Medicine River.  They believed that the ‘Sky People’ the Sun, the Moon, and the Morning Star – looked over the people who were created here.  On that day, with tears still in my eyes, I knew that in a very important way I too had been born in this place…I adopted the Badger-Two Medicine as my own sacred home.”  154-155 In your chapter “Rescued by the Sky People” you describe your move to Montana, “the Last Best Place” and your very important companion “Ruark”.  In reading your book I almost felt I was starting a different book.  Geography plays a major role in your life.  Can you share why it is so important?

5. “After 9/11 and George W. Bush’s wars, the industry’s annual sales would shoot up to between thirteen million and sixteen mission units per year between 2013 and 2016.  The Bush-era cultural shift meant that the components for this sales explosion were in place.  Now all we needed for final detonation was a pinch of Sharia law conspiracy theory and a Black president with a Muslim-sounding name.”  187 Politics and gun sales seemed a strange mix.  When did you realize how toxic that had become?  When did you first feel like the “frog in the boiling water”?

7. “Of course, contrary to LaPierre’s (Head of NRA) promises the country did not crumble under Obama’s presidency, nor did gun sales suffer.  Nobody took any guns away.  I was not forced to give up hunting, and my job did not evaporate.  Instead, I sat back and watched an industry capitalize on a long-simmering pot of racism…For more than a decade it had been slowly steaming but when a Black man finally rose to power, the NRA racism pot boiled over.” 208 How did racism get into the mix of politics and gun sales?

8. “And I’d do it while enduring thousands of people who took me to be something I was not anymore.  I could not blame them, I suppose.  Sameness, solidarity, unanimity, lockstep, freedom, patriotism, us versus them, stand and fight, God and guns, good verses evil.  These were powerful verses in hymns that were written here, and they were catching on across the country…I’m just a ranch kid trying to make a living.” 219 How did you survive during the period you had intellectually separated from the mentality of the gun industry while remaining a major player in it?

9. “’I met a guy I think will be our next US senator,’ I told Sara that evening. ‘This guy Tester – he’s got something I can’t quite put my finger on.’ …Luckily for me, and for Tester, my Hail Mary promise of a victory came to pass.”  236-237. Politics is very hard.  Tell us about your friend Senator Tester.

10. “I often talked through it all with Sara, and on the night of our twentieth wedding anniversary, the subject of my exit came up again…Sara locked the door and then turned to me. ‘We are not leaving this room until we decide on the plan,’ she said, tossing me a small notepad from our hotel room.” 300 Tell us about Sara and others who have been allies in your journey from farm boy in Kansas, gunrunner in the US, and now consultant to progressive organizations aiming to undo the country’s dangerous radicalization.


Here is Clif Hostetler's review on Goodreads.com 

This book is part personal memoir written by a former executive of a gun manufacturer, and it is part history of the sociological and political transformation of the United States from bipartisan acceptance of the rules of democracy into a "radicalized nation of competing tribes" egged on in a "cauldron of fear and hate." The author recounts from his position within the firearms industry how his business once catered to customers who were mature responsible hunters and sportsmen, but that evolve over time into their use of race baiting advertisements designed to attract those whom insiders derogatorily referred to as "tacctards" and "couch commandos." Furthermore, the industry that once valued craftsmanship and quality changed to using cheap plastic stocks—referred to as Tupperware in one of the book chapters.

This change in the American psyche mirrored a corresponding change in politics—Trumpian style in particular. It's hard to say which caused or responded to the other. Was the firearms industry fomenting the radicalization or was it radical, right-wing forces outside the industry that prodded firearms manufacturers down the incendiary and deadly path they are still on? This book tends to give the gun industry and NRA much of the credit. In either case they have:
... built a system that relies on a political police state to enforce 100 percent loyalty: no one can dare ask any questions without immediate repercussion. It is a culture that praises violence, one where 'getting your man card back' means that it's acceptable to do whatever it takes to establish your superiority.
This book's story is told from the unique perspective of an insider. The author was actually in the room when many of the marketing decisions were made to take advantage of shifting cultural tides. The author's primary loyalty was to preservation of Public Lands and hunting and fishing, values that at one time were in sync with the interests of gun manufacturers. In clear and concise narrative the author tells of an increasing emphasis toward loyalty to the Republican Party, even when the Party's position did not value conservation issues.

The author explains that he stayed within the gun industry for many years in the hope that he could exert some positive influence toward movement in a more wholesome direction. It is notable that his company, Kimber Manufacturing, never did market assault style rifles and continued to emphasize quality and workmanship. But the strain between the industry and his own values—and pressure from his wife and young children—finally convinced him to resign his position in 2020. The industry had moved away from him; he had not moved away from them.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
#vcApr
April 13 Wednesday 1-2:30 p.m. on Zoom --
Meeting ID: 832 3534 6541  --  Passcode: 076621

The Immigrants’ New Camera: A Family Collection
by Maryfrances Wagner

Amazon listing              Whale Road review

Goodreads review  
      Denise Low review

NATIONAL POETRY MONTH is a time to explore how words can explore the world is beautiful ways. 
     Maryfrances Wagner is the Poet Laureate of Missouri and will be with us for this Vital Conversation.  She will not only share some of her poetry but also reflect with us on the value of poetry for our time. 
     She is a retired writing teacher and has published nine collections of poetry.  Wagner said she wants “to find ways to reach out to people who don’t usually read poetry or think they like it.”  If you like poetry or not, you will enjoy this conversation with Maryfrances.          
     David has asked Vern to lead this discussion.

Quotations selected, and questions written, by David Nelson

Releasing Conversation: “Poetry is a type of literature based on the interplay of words and rhythm. It often employs rhyme and meter (a set of rules governing the number and arrangement of syllables in each line). In poetry, words are strung together to form sounds, images, and ideas that might be too complex or abstract to describe directly.” [LiteraryTerms.net] “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” [Shelley] Share your name and speak a few words about your favorite poem.

1. “Glimmering with the physical things of the world, offering a stepladder to the possible, Wagner’s fifth collection takes us back to awe and wonder.” [Jo McDougall.] What does that mean to you? What would you add in defining poetry and teaching poetry?

2. Maryfrances, could you tell us a few steppingstones” in your life that has brought you to this honor? When did you first flirt with poetry? What events have been significant in your personal and professional journey that you wish to share with those of us on this Zoom gathering? Who are some of the poets you admire? How often do you read poetry? Do you write poetry every day? 

3. “The Missouri Poet Laureate enriches Missourians’ lives throughout the state by fostering the reading and writing of poetry, through public appearances, readings, workshops, and digital and social media. “As Poet Laureate,” Ms. Wagner says, “I’d like to find ways to reach out to people who don’t usually read poetry or even think they like it.” [Missouri Arts Council Web site]. Tell us about being Missouri’s Poet Laureate. What has been different during this period of your life? What has been the response from the public? How as Covid impacted your time as Poet Laureate?

4. “Specific poetic forms have been developed by many cultures, in more developed, closed or ‘received’ poetic form, the rhyming scheme, meter and other elements of a poem are based on set of rules. Common forms widely used across languages: Sonnet, Shi, Villanelle, Limerick, Tanka, Haiku, Khlong, Ode, Ghazal . . . . Poetry is often thought of in terms of different genres: Narrative, Lyric, Epic, Satirical, Elegy, Verse, Dramatic, Speculative, Prose, Light, Slam.[Wikipedia]. Poetry has played major roles in human history. Religions have used poetry in liturgy and ritual. Revolutions have been empowered, wars have been fought, unions have been made and destroyed, life and death has been honored, humor has been embodied; all this through poetry. What is it about poetry that has made it so central to the human story?

5. “Like most poets, I’ve wanted to touch the human spirit and move the reader. That’s what I want to happen to me as well when I read a poem. Not every poem is easily accessible, and not every poem will have the same impact on a person, but poems abound out there for all of us. I want to help find those poems for people.” [IN KC.] How do you “find those poems for people”? Are there types of poems that appeal to different types of people? Is there a way to discover poetry that will help me “touch the human spirit and move” me?

6. In your recent book, The Immigrants’ New Camera: A Family Collection, you introduce and reflect on a unique culture, a specific family, and several interesting places. I found myself not only learning more about you but also remembering more about myself. One example is “My Mother’s White Lies.” Talk about how living a specific life unites or divides you and others from the realities of others. Can poetry be a force in reuniting a divided community?

7. Poetry, like other art, is more about what is heard and seen than what is written or pictured. That is my opinion, anyway. The “art form method” of discussion helps us to listen to more than words. While we listen, would you read out loud your poem “Raising a Hand” (page 55)? After the reading, I will ask others “What words did you hear? What did you feel? What experiences were you reminded of from your own life?

8. Amanda Gorman in her poem “The Hill We Climb” at Joe Biden’s inauguration brought tears of hope to many in this nation and the world. The nation paused for a moment and for many we felt like a united and special people. Where else have you witnessed poetry serve to heal, motivate, empower, challenge, or inspire?

NOTE: David says, We are hoping that beginning in May we will meet both at the library and by Zoom. I have been thrilled to have participants from outside the greater Kansas City area who attend and do not want to lose them.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

#vcMay
May 11 Wednesday 1-2:30 p.m. on Zoom & In-Person --   (Notes from last month)
Zoom:  Meeting ID: 832 3534 6541 Passcode: 076621

Banning Books in libraries and schools.

Instead of one book, be amazed by the variety of books currently on the list for removing from school libraries.  Look over the list and read one or several and come to share your insight and opinion on this current issue. 

This will be a hybrid  event -- since the pandemic, the first time back at the MidContinent Library, Antioch Branch, in person and also on Zoom.

The following books will be available at the library (ask for Vital Conversations or David Nelson): To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Lord of the Flies by Willian Golding, Animal Farm by George Orwell, 1984 by George Orwell, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.

The following books have been selected and will be discussed:
Maus: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History & Maus II: A Survivor’s Tale:  And Here My Troubles Began by Art Spiegelman
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
All Boys Are Not Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto by George M. Johnson
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo

Book banning is the most widespread form of censorship in the United States, with children’s literature being the primary target.  Advocates for banning books fear that children will be swayed by its contents, which they regard as potentially dangerous.  A banning is the removal of those materials.  Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove them from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.

According to a new American Library Association report, there were 330 “book challenges” in the fall of 2021, an uptick from the same periods in recent years.  “Parents, activists, school board officials and lawmakers around the country are challenging books at a pace not seen in decades.”  New York Times

Questions: 
* What is this book about?  Give a brief synopsis.  Why do some want it banned?  Articulate the argument.  What is your opinion?
* What is the role of librarians? Parents? Library Boards? School Districts? Newspapers? Television?
* How do you choose which books to read and share with others?  Where do individual rights end and group rights take over?
* What are our responsibilities as parents and citizens?  What can we do influence others?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

#vcJun8
June 8 Wednesday 1-2:30pm    
Zoom:  Meeting ID: 832 3534 6541 Passcode: 076621


Russian Aggression Against Ukraine. With several Ukrainians and Russians present we will have a conversation about their histories, the current war and why this is important to us.  To prepare for this conversation you can read, watch the news, visit with your friends, and engage with others.  Below are listed three books.  One is a non-fiction by a journalist.  One is a novel.  One is a complete history.

Discussion items include:
Name the dimensions of the crisis in Ukraine.  Why is a war happening?
What is the historical relationship between Russia and Ukraine?
What is Putin’s justification in invading Ukraine?
What is the role of religion in this situation?
How can we be allies for a more peaceful world?
What can we do right now?  What are some actionable items?


Black Square: Adventures in Post-Soviet Ukraine by Sophie Pinkham.

Ukraine has rebuilt itself repeatedly in the last century, plagued by corruption, poverty, and substance abuse; ravaged by ethnic clashes and Russian aggression.

Sophie Pinkham saw all this and more in the course of ten years working, traveling, and reporting the Maidan revolution of 2013-14, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the current war against Russian invasion.

Sophie has current articles in The New York Times.

 
Brisbane: A Novel by Eugene Vodolazkin. 
     In this richly layered novel by the winner of Russia’s biggest literary prizes, a celebrated guitarist robbed of his talent by Parkinson’s disease seeks other paths to immortality.  Expanding the literary universe spun in his earlies novels, Vodolazkin explores music and fame, belonging and purpose, time and eternity.  At the stunning finale of Brisbane, all the carefully knit stitches unravel into a riddle: Whose story is it – the subject’s or the writer’s? Are art and love really no match for death?  Is Brisbane, the city of our dreams, our only hope for the future?
   
The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine revised edition by Serhii Plokhy. 
     A Ukraine is embroiled in an ongoing struggle with Russia to preserve its territorial integrity and political independence, this celebrated historian explains that today’s crisis is a case of history repeating itself: the Ukrainian conflict is only the latest in a log history of turmoil over Ukraine’s sovereignty.  This revised edition includes ne material that brings this definitive history up to the present, from the election of Volodymyr Zelensky to the tole of Ukraine in Trump’s impeachment.  As Ukraine once again find itself at the center of global attention, Plokhy brings its history to vivid life as he connects the nation’s past with its present and future.

 Clif Hostetler's review on Goodreads.com  -- click for embedded links


by  




























 Clif Hostetler's review on Goodreads.com  -- click for embedded links 


by  

WARNING: Spoiler transferred from Goodreads to this page.

This novel's unique feature is to include a fictional account of the 1930s Ukrainian Holodomor. The book’s story alternates between two separate narrative chains. The first narrative takes place in the early 2000s in the USA and features a grieving widow who together with her young daughter is having difficulty recovering from the death of her husband from a car accident that occurred about a year earlier. The second narrative takes place in the early 1930s Ukraine where a young bride faces trauma and shock when her family’s way of life is brutally changed during the collectivization of their rural village.

Seventy years later that Ukrainian bride is now the grandmother of the young grieving American widow. For many years the grandmother has repressed the traumatic memories of her past and has withheld any mention of it to her family. But now this aging grandmother is developing symptoms of dementia, and those memories from long ago are beginning to arise. Furthermore, she perceives that her granddaughter and great granddaughter could benefit by learning about her experience recovering from trauma all those many years ago.

The grieving widow of the early 2000s is now living with her grandmother in order to help protect her from possible self harm caused by the on-coming signs of dementia. Consequently, she becomes aware of her grandmother’s journal written in Ukrainian many years earlier. With assistance from a friend the journal is translated into English which provides the needed inspiration for the young widow to look to—and live for—the future.

There is a first love, a lost love, and a new love in both narrative chains, so the book can be classified as a bitter-sweet romance. Its plain and direct vernacular can also put it in the young adult category, which of course can be enjoyed by older adults as well. The author includes occasional references to Ukrainian folk traditions, food, and art so the book is educational in many ways. However, the book’s most unique feature is to provide a personal up close description of life, death, and love in Ukraine during the 1930s.

The part of the story that takes place in Ukraine contains repeating ominous foreboding that the already bad events and conditions will continue to get even worse. For a hint about what takes place, check out this spoiler:

(view spoiler)

[The following description of the early 1930s Ukraine is excerpted from the nonfiction history book The Gates of Europe, by Serhii Plokhy.

Altogether, close to 4 million people perished in Ukraine as a result of the famine, more than decimating the country—every eighth person succumbed to hunger between 1932 and 1934.

Portions of this story will bring you to tears. However, the book also contains romance and parent-child love which will make you feel good. Late in the book the story contains a poignant heart warming communication between great-grandmother and great-granddaughter. And the very end of the Epilogue contains a final surprise.  

The Author's Note at the end of the book describes some interesting parallels between her own family's history and the book's story. Here's a link to a message from the Author:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4598826456
 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

#vcJul
July 13 Wednesday 1-2:30 p.m.
Zoom:  Meeting ID: 832 3534 6541 Passcode: 076621

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Dante can swim, Ari can’t. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. But against all odds, when Ari and Dante meet, they develop a special bond that will teach them the most important truths of their lives and help define the people they want to be. But there are big hurdles in their way, and only by believing in each other -- and the power of their friendship – canAri and Dante emerge stronger on the other side.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

#vcAug
August 10  Wednesday 1-2:30 p.m. on Zoom  --  (Notes from last month) 
Religion and the Critical Mind: A Journey for Seekers, Doubters, and the Curious by Anton K. Jacobs
     Anton Jacobs is a friend and ally with several of us who attend and participate in Vital Conversations.  He has taught in a variety of local colleges and learning places and offered leadership in The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council.  In a time when critical thinking appears to be under attack, it seems appropriate to focus together with Anton on the role of religion.  He outlines and invites us to think with some curious minds from the past as he leads us to our own thinking about religions’ role in our lives.  His book, although out of print, is available.  Amazon had several copies when I was typing this.  There were several other links for you to find his publication for you to read before joining in our Vital Conversation with Anton.
 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

#vcSep 
September 14 Wednesday 1-2:30 p.m. on Zoom  --  (Notes from last month)
The Mountains Sing: A Novel by Nguyen Phan Que Mai.
     Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Vietnam, this novel brings to life the human costs of this war from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.  “A luminous, complex family narrative that spans nearly a century of Vietnamese history…the novel resembles a choral performance with multiple voices.”  I have ten copies of this novel you can borrow from me given to us by the Estes Valley Library where it was the “One Valley – One Book” read.

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

#vcOct #NextEvent
October 12 Wednesday 1-2:30 p.m. on Zoom  --  (Notes from last month)
 
 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

#vcNov
November 9 Wednesday 1-2:30 p.m. on Zoom  --  (Notes from last month)
 
 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

#vcDec
December 14 Wednesday 1-2:30 p.m. on Zoom  --  (Notes from last month)
  .

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Selections are subject to change.  For Zoom link and additional information,
contact David Nelson -- humanagenda@gmail.com or (816) 453-3835.

200x 133wi










 
“ — ” ‘—’ 24
“ — ” ‘—’ 18
“ — ” ‘—’ 14
‘—’ 12
‘—’ 10