Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for February 2018

February 14, 2018

February’s meeting was a discussion of the book Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson. Although the group was small, the discussion was lively and engaging, with personal stories sprinkled throughout the conversation. Topics were wide-ranging, and covered many aspects of the subject matter, including history, racial identity, colonization, and how groups may be more effective in society than individuals at times. Members felt that the author’s use of the jeremiad was an effective form to convey the message and intent in the thoughts and arguments he presented. The group saw that the impact on the reader is strong, and they shared quotations and read passages from the book aloud.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for January 2018

January 10, 2018

The theme for the January meeting was ‘Multicultural’. Members brought four selections for discussion. The first of these was African America: Celebrating 400 Years of Achievement by Kenneth Estell. This book is a collection of over 500 biographical essays about African Americans and their accomplishments. The sheer number of entries showcases the wide range of contributions African Americans have made to our society. The book is organized by area of accomplishment, such as politics, performing arts, medicine, religion, literature, etc. Each entry includes biographical information and contributions made by the person, as well as vignettes giving important details to better understand their life and times. The book club member bringing this book to our attention chose to present on Dick Gregory, well-known comedian and activist. His biography included many other facets his life, such as his time as an entrepreneur and health educator/promoter.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for November 2017

November 8, 2017

The theme for November’s meeting was Spiritual Principles. Members brought three selections for discussion. The first of these was Two Wings of a Bird by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States. The discussion focused on the need for the equality of men and women, and the ways women still need to access full equality. Inequality in the economic sphere, discrimination in social roles and vulnerability demonstrated in the #MeToo campaign, the role of education, control of sexuality issues such as birth control and pregnancy, and the role of education were all parts of the conversation.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for October 2017

October 11, 2017

The October meeting was a consultation/reflection on how the bookclub has been going and on the direction for the next six months. We decided to continue the use of themes in our book club selections, and planned the upcoming calendar. We agreed that our meeting with a guest author was a highlight of the past months, and are interested in planning another guest author presentation. We would love to have another guest author to discuss their book with the group, and welcome suggestions for this event.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for September 2017

Sept 13, 2017

At the September meeting, individual members presented a variety of folk tales from cultures around the world. Some of these tales were short enough to be read aloud to the group, while others were summarized and then discussed. Members had been asked to read a folk tale with two questions in mind: what in the tale is representative of the individual culture it represents, and what aspect(s) represent universal humanity? The variety of cultures the folk tales represented, as well as their stories made for an interesting and lively discussion.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for August 2017

August 9th, 2017

August’s meeting was a small group that discussed four books. The discussion was described by members as free-flowing, while touching on many subjects. The first book discussed was Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson. This book tackles the issue of race in both personal and cultural terms, with a call to change in the recognition of difficult truths, including the history of how black grievance has been minimized, completely ignored, or dismissed entirely. The second selection was a pamphlet written in 1965 called This is Apartheid by Leslie and Neville Rubin. This tract details the system of apartheid in South Africa, and gives 40 examples of restrictions imposed on Africans under the apartheid system. The author represented the Africans of the Cape Province in the South African Senate.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for July 2017

July 12, 2017

July’s bookclub meeting was a special presentation by a guest speaker, Mr. Richard Thomas, discussing his book The Story of the Baha’i Black Men’s Gathering. He presented a history of the Gathering, along with anecdotes and a video that broadened our understanding after reading the book. In addition, the meeting was enriched by the presence and informal presentation of others who attended the BMG at different times in its history.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for June 2017

June 14, 2017

The theme for the meeting was men/male authors. Discussion this month centered on a new (2017) book titled Everybody Lies, and a group of books by the Michigan author Steve Hamilton.

Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is subtitled: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are. The author is an economist who uses a broad definition of “data” to include text, pictures and search patterns on the Internet. He uses Internet searches for data mining, on the theory that these represent more valid measures of a person’s preferences, as contrasted with such possible sources as Facebook (where people attempt to portray themselves most positively) and Netflix queues (where people may list choices based on appearances). His results are often surprising, and appear to show higher levels of negativity, with aggressive, hateful, and offensive material more common than generally thought.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for May 2017

May 10, 2017

The theme for this meeting was men/male authors. Several members had coincidentally chosen the same book, which was Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. An additional book was brought by another member: One People, One Planet (Adventures of a World Citizen).

Born a Crime is the autobiography of Trevor Noah, current host of The Daily Show on the Comedy Channel. It details his childhood in South Africa, during and after apartheid, and his transition to current celebrity in the United States. The title comes from his birth to a black mother and white father, considered a crime under the rules of apartheid at the time he was born. He writes from the perspective of a child with his childhood memories, and also seems to do a good job capturing his thoughts and feelings in response to experiences in his teenage years and as a young adult. The author’s “voice” as written appears authentic in comparison to what a viewer of his television and YouTube appearances would see. He seems to be a frank observer who is unafraid to show his vulnerabilities, his puzzlement at what doesn’t make sense to him, and/or the hypocrisies in all types of society. His approach contains the comedy we have become familiar with, alongside both compassion and a bit of the cynic as well. Members’ response to the book was very positive.

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