Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for January 2019

January 9, 2018

January’s meeting was a discussion on individual selections of books on the theme of stereotypes and the elimination of prejudice, and included sharing personal stories and experiences in this area as well. The conversation moved across the globe from the United States to Japan (where very close attention is paid to blood types when deciding who to marry), to the caste system in India, to the mistreatment of Baha’is in Iran. Participants pointed out that stereotypes and prejudice are not only about color, and there can be social prejudice about intellectuals versus non-intellectuals, and even against non-drinkers of alcohol. Overall, the discussion was lively, thoughtful, and far-reaching, so that time ran out before some of the books members brought could be discussed (Life on the Color Line by Gregory Howard William and The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan). The discussion included presentations by book club members of The Content of Our Character, by Shelby Steele (twin brother of the author of our February selection) and The Nature of Prejudice by Gordon Allport.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for December 2018

December 12, 2018

Last month’s meeting was a reflection/consultation on the previous six months and plans were made for the upcoming six-month period. The group decided to continue the use of themes to organize our schedule (see above). The themes chosen for upcoming months are: stereotypes and the elimination of prejudice, fasting practices, and women who make/made a difference. In addition to the themes (and books) listed above, several ideas were discussed that may be utilized as themes as the book club continues. These included issues from current events, such as immigration, refugees, climate change, gun violence, and the opioid crisis. Another area members are very interested in is faith and religion, including faith traditions, sacred music, art and architecture in various religions, and how different faith traditions approach some of the current issues in society.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for November 2018

November 14, 2018

Our discussion last month was about the poetry of Robert Hayden, an American Baha’i who was the first African-American Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (a role now known as poet laureate of the United States). Mr. Hayden was a resident of Ann Arbor, a professor at the University of Michigan, and longtime Ann Arbor Baha’i whose daughter is still a member of our community.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for October 2018

October 10, 2018

October’s meeting was a discussion of members’ personal choices in the area of poetry. The first selection was Jesus the Son of Man, by Khalil Gibran. This book is a series of poems and prose selections, written as if those who came in contact with Jesus had set down their impressions and understanding him and his actions. The selections take various points of view and describe different incidents in the life of Jesus, from his birth to his death and after. Some of the “authors” are familiar, such as Mary Magdalene, Matthew, Luke, John the Baptist, and Caiaphas, but others are not named but merely described, as “A Persian Philosopher in Damascus”, or “A Shepherd in South Lebanon”. Taken together, they present a new picture of the Jesus we know from Christianity. Book club members were intrigued by the structure and imagination of this book, and several were interested in pursuing reading it as well.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for September 2018

September 12, 2018

September’s meeting included an update on our service project, as well as presentation and discussion of one audio book, two books, and a letter from the Baha’i Universal House of Justice. The service project is currently on hold as we arrange a time to meet with educational staff at Perry Early Learning Center. A suggestion was made that we donate extra cards and stationary to senior citizens’ homes in the area, and an initial donation was made. An additional suggestion was made for coordinating new Healing Circles with other members of the community who are sponsoring devotionals in their homes.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for August 2018

August 14, 2018

August’s bookclub meeting continued the discussion of our service project, and we began making decisions to narrow the focus and come up with a more exact definition of what we will do and what we hope to accomplish. We have scheduled a meeting with school personnel and will ask for feedback regarding their needs, as well as ask specific questions to direct our efforts. We are anticipating learning more specifics and hope to begin working directly with them soon. More information to follow!

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for July 2018

July 11, 2018

Bookclub members took some time away from reading and discussing all kinds of books to investigate ideas for a service project in order to give back to the community. Although we are still discussing the ideas that came up, we have decided to emphasize books in whatever we do. We have several options to pursue, including a short-term project for local community development, and something longer term that would involve children and support their involvement with books in school and at home. Literacy in general and love of books are ideas we hope to foster. More details will follow as the project develops. Stay tuned!

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for June 2018

June 13, 2018

June’s meeting was a discussion of the book The Anvil of the Spirit by Morris Taylor.

Book club members observed that overall, the book describes a way to revitalize Feast in Baha’i communities by encouraging members to try a variety of different approaches. They felt that the book was compelling, and saw it as having an impact in many ways. It offers a toolkit of ideas and methods to help with challenges in the community, personal lives, relationships, and at work. Many of the ideas emphasized the importance of relationships, and of specific tools such as listening, humor, building trust, and resolving conflict. Discussion participants felt that the ideas, methods, and techniques presented were applicable in their own lives as well as the Baha’i community at large.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for May 2018

May 9, 2018

Our last meeting included a reflection on our previous six months, and planning for the rest of the year. The group was positive about the use of themes in our book selections, and decided to continue their use. Members felt that use of themes encouraged expanded variety of both books and genres, and were hopeful that this variety could appeal to non-Baha’is as well as Baha’i members. Reflection also included a discussion of suggestions to attract more members and increase participation, including holding more events (such as the author lecture held last year), announcing the bookclub more often at events to increase awareness, calling people with personal invitations, and ensuring that all types of announcements/invitations are clear that the bookclub is not specifically a Baha’i book club.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for April 2018

April 11, 2018

Our last meeting was a discussion of The Saddlebag, a book by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani. It is based on an anecdote about the theft of a saddlebag from the Bab, recounted in The Dawn-Breakers (pg. 103). Ms. Nakhjavani imagines the travels of the saddlebag after the theft, and how each person coming in contact with it, and the writings it contains, is affected.

Bookclub members were quick to point out the many Baha’i references contained in the story, which also has characters from most, if not all, of the current world faiths. As the setting is the area around Mecca and Medina, readers also discussed the many cultural references, some of which were understandable to western readers, and some of which were not. For example, the Bride is bringing her dowry along, marriage is arranged, and a slave is present. Superstitions play a part in the plot, but there are also occasions of apparent precognition or “sight”.

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