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.

The audio book presented was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, narrated by the author. It is the story of the adventures in space and time by a group of three young people. They begin their adventures searching for the father of two of them, a scientist who has disappeared while working on a secret project for the government. The book is first in a series of five books. It is generally labeled “young adult” fiction, but can be read at almost any age. The member who presented the book made the point that her response was different from when she read it as a young person, including understanding of the story and its implications on many levels. She was also charmed by hearing the story in the author’s own voice.

Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle was the next book discussed. This book is a collection of stories by the author, who runs Homeboy Industries, a program that employs former gang members. The program also provides a variety of services, including literacy, job-skills training, and even tattoo removal. The stories emphasize faith, redemption, and connection, and provide inspiration and even humor in the face of often very difficult circumstances.

The next book discussed was Unhinged by Omarosa Manigault Newman. Although the book probably does not require a summary, having achieved notoriety quickly, the member who presented it felt that it was surprising in several ways. It was well written and revealed information not generally well-known, such as that the author is both an ordained minister and has a journalism degree. In addition to her long association with Donald Trump, the author discusses her work for both the Bushes and the Clintons in the book.

The last item presented was the letter from the Universal House of Justice dated August 6, 2018. The presenter was most interested in the emphasis on racism in the United States, and specifically on what Baha’is should do. Their statement in the letter was that racism is integral to everything Baha’is should be doing in their lives, and that we have a double responsibility: to assist in improving lives in individual communities, but to also address issues in national life in the US in totality. Baha’is should be creating specific activities to combat racism, but also sustain general social activities and anything that nurtures and supports diversity. In this letter, the emphasis is on the individual believer and responsibility for combating racism, rather than on institutions of the Faith. Those who had not had the opportunity to read the letter and its attachment were encouraged to do so.

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