Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for October 2016

October 12, 2016

At last month’s meeting on October 12, 2016, members discussed the book 1491 by Charles C. Mann. The book is a detailed exploration of the Americas before Europeans came on the scene, from both anthropological and archeological perspectives. Response to the book was overwhelmingly positive, although some members had not yet completed reading it. Several members mentioned that the depth of information presented required time to reflect on and process, especially as it was often quite different from history as presented in the typical American education experienced by many of those present. The general consensus was that although information was presented in almost a textbook format, the author was able to maintain interest and provide interesting as well as informative detail. The writer also presented various controversies and/or possible alternative explanations for data and discoveries that have been made up to the time of the book’s publication, and group members felt in general that this approach seemed fair and even-handed. The author seems to embody the best qualities of a teacher/writer, presenting information that is interesting and including scholarly detail, yet maintaining accessibility and providing appropriate context and explanations as needed. The overall discussion also included many individual observations of striking or unusual details noted by different members.

About the Book Club

The Life of the Báb

PHOTO: The Shrine of the Báb on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel — one of the holiest places in the world for Bahá’ís, by BahaiPictures.com

On October 20th of each year, Baha’is commemorate the birth of the Báb, one of the three Central Figures of the Faith. The Báb, meaning “the Gate” is the title assumed by Siyyid ‘Ali-Muhammad, who was born on October 20, 1819 in Shiraz. The following article and photos from Bahá’í.org outline the life of this important figure.

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A Safe Place to Talk About Race by Sharon E. Davis

Sharon E. Davis is host of the VoiceAmerica radio show which shares the title with her book “A Safe Place to Talk About Race”. The main body of her book is composed of ten interviews from her radio show focusing on racial healing. Ms. Davis opens the book with a personal introduction which clearly conveys her in-depth understanding of racism and what she sees that the process of healing it entails. She also includes her ideas for what the reader should expect from the book, and suggestions for how best to use it.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for September 2016

September 14, 2016

Last month’s meeting on September 14, 2016, included engaging discussions of four books presented by individual members. The first book presented was Egypt in Africa by Theodore Celenko. It explores the nature of Egyptian art as it relates to the rest of the African continent, and draws parallels between the history of art in Egypt and that of other nations throughout Africa. Although art is the focus in this extensively illustrated book, it also explores connections through the views of many individual contributors with specialties in a variety of areas including physical anthropology, archeology, cultural studies, as well as art history.

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The Bahá’í Center of Washtenaw County: Past and Present

September 6, 2016, is the twelfth anniversary of the Dedication of the Baha’i Center of Washtenaw County. Since its dedication and opening, the Center has grown to be a true center of our community. Activities including devotions, children’s classes, Ruhi classes, coffee houses, and even a book club make up the regular monthly schedule at 5550 Morgan Road. The Center hosts a variety of special events, including Holy Day celebrations, weddings, and memorial services, and has continued its monthly International Dinners, a tradition begun as fund-raising for the Center before it was built. As the Center has grown in the years since its dedication, many amenities have been added, including a playground, finished warming kitchen and basement, and many beautiful decorations portraying the history and tenets of our Faith, as well as locations sacred to Baha’is around the globe.

During the Dedication ceremony opening the Center on September 6, 2004, we revisited the history of how the Center came to be. That history is repeated below in honor of this twelfth anniversary:

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The Divine Art of Living by Mabel Hyde Paine

Mabel Hyde Paine has collected and thematically arranged quotations from the Bab, Baha’u’llah, and ‘Abdu’l-Baha in this compilation that will be familiar to many Baha’i readers. First published in 1944, it has undergone numerous updates, and its enduring popularity testifies to its continuing relevance. The book is organized around a variety of meaningful topics including trust in God, prayer and meditation, health and healing, relationships (including marriage and children), death and loss, and coping with tests and difficulties. Each chapter topic is also divided into subtopics relevant to the chapter title, making it easy to find quotations for whatever guidance the reader is seeking. All quotations are referenced to their original sources with a key at the back of the book. The foreword at the beginning of the book includes a history of the book’s development and also a brief history of the Baha’i Faith.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for August 2016

August 10, 2016

Last month’s meeting on August 10, 2016, was devoted to a reflection about how the book club has progressed, and a discussion of ideas and suggestions for how we should proceed in the coming months. We talked about the books we have read, and exciting books yet to be discovered and shared with the group. Participants shared thoughts and ideas about book discussions, how best to structure our meetings, and how to invite new friends (both Baha’i and non-Baha’i) into our reading circle.

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The Non-Political Character of the Faith

This month we are featuring an article by Avrel Seale from bahaiblog.net



 

6 Reasons to Steer Clear of Partisan Politics

In the United States, the conclusion of the summer Olympics also means we’re fast approaching another presidential election. In fact, the way various elections are staggered, we’re never more than a few months away from an election of some kind. Perhaps in your country, you too are blessed to have the freedom to elect your governmental leaders. It’s a precious and hard-won human right that the whole world is destined to exercise.

Democracy is a core value of Baha’i life. The way in which we govern our own affairs is deeply democratic. We elect our leaders from the bottom of the administrative order to the very top. But we do it all without campaigning. We don’t put our own names or those of others up for election, and likewise we don’t engage in negative self-campaigning to remove ourselves from consideration. Baha’is simply and prayerfully vote for a slate of people they believe will best serve the community, and, in the case of Spiritual Assemblies, the nine top vote-getters are elected.

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The Challenge of Baha’u’llah By Gary L. Matthews

This book presents a detailed approach to the study of Baha’u’llah’s claim of divine revelation. The “challenge” of the title is both an examination of the veracity of His claim and its meaning to the world of humanity. The author provides historical data and background, then approaches Baha’u’llah and His revelation from the possible perspective of a skeptic, attempting to examine His life, person, and writings from a rational and objective perspective.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for July 2016

July 13, 2016

Individual members shared information on books they are currently reading. Books were varied in subject matter and diverse in times and places they portrayed. Some past book club meetings included the following titles (In no particular chronological order):

King Peggy by Peggielene Bartels
Hitler’s Black Victims by Clarence Lusane
Together Tea by Marjan Kamali
The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan
Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter-Naslund
Racial Healing: A Safe Place to Talk About Race by Sharon E. Davis
Aimless Love by Billy Collins
It Ain’t So Awful Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas
The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom
The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
Geography of a Life by Martin Bernal
The Story of Owen: Dragonslayer of Trandheim by E. K. Johnston
The Women of Evin Ward 209 by Jila Baniyaghoob
Still Life (The Armand Gamache Mystery Series) by Louise Penny
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Love of Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality by Edward Frenkel

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