Dean’s Book Study

New Dean’s Book Club selection, Prayer and Prophecy, begins 9/11 4 pm

The Dean’s Book Club will be reading, Prayer and Prophecy: the Essential Kenneth Leech, starting on Wednesday, September 11, at 4:00 pm in the Dean’s Office. As the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams posits about Leech, “The plain truth is that no one else writes with such authority about the pastoral and prophetic task in our church at the moment.” Call 808.524.2822 x212, or email to reserve your book. Books are in limited supply and are available for $10. Scholarships are available.

Christ & Culture by H. Richard Niebuhr

Christ & Culture by H. Richard Niebuhr
Wednesdays at 4 pm

Helmut Richard Niebuhr was one of the most important Christian theological-ethicists in 20th century America, most known for his 1951 book Christ and Culture.  In the book, Niebuhr gives a history of how Christianity has responded to culture and is often referenced in discussions and writings on a Christian’s response to the world’s culture.

At Home in Mitford, by Jan Karon

Dean’s Book Club Book Review by Ann Katherine Reimers

AtHomeInMitfordThe Dean’s Book Club is currently reading At Home in Mitford, by Jan Karon, a warm and loving look into the lives of a small town’s Episcopal parish rector, Father Tim Kavanagh, his congregation, and others in the close-knit community. Weaving with the rector through the lives of the residents of Mitford and its outskirts, the reader is drawn into their individual and collective routines and dramas, joys and woes, degradations and transformations.
At Home in Mitford is the first in a series of nine books about Father Tim and his congregants in Mitford, a picturesque town in North Carolina, on the slopes of the Appalachian Mountains.

It’s easy to love the parishioners and their Baptist and Presbyterian neighbors, who work together and know each other’s business, socialize, gossip and condemn, forgive and reconcile with each other in unique and real ways. They are wealthy, middle-class, and poor, generous, selfish, and suspicious, gracious, abrasive, stable and secure, and barely holding on.
Mitford is every small town, and none at all, a fictionalization of where everyone and anyone who craves intimacy and community, tradition and continuity, might want to live.

In addition to his ministrations to his parishioners and others in his parish town, we share the transformations and revelations of Father Tim himself, as he finds love and inner healing at 62, after 36 years in the pulpit, 13 of them in Mitford, with a buoyant, youthful new neighbor, Cynthia Coppersmith. A successful author and illustrator of children’s books, Cynthia moves into the little yellow house next door to the rectory, left to her by her grandfather, and enraptures and captures the rector’s heart.

Their love story becomes the reader’s love story; their challenges the reader’s challenges; their triumphs, the reader’s triumphs. The book evokes laughter and tears, ahas! and oh, nos! When Barnabas, Father Tim’s enormous, foundling dog, most probably the only dog anywhere unfailingly brought to heel by Scripture, bathes Father Tim’s face with his tongue, we feel equally bathed; when he takes in young Dooley Barlowe, whose mother is an alcoholic and the grandfather with whom he’s been living is hospitalized, we experience the enormous change in his lifelong bachelor’s existence; as his life opens and expands, ours opens and expands with it, as well.

Truth be told, I’ve just finished the fifth book in the series, A New Song. I expect you’ll feel equally compelled to follow the story from the first through the ninth book, eager to find out what happens next to the Mitford residents who, through their relationships with Father Tim, become people you care about and love, none more than Father Tim and bride, Cynthia. New characters appear, as well as new parishes, as Father Tim changes and expands his ministry.

The book is as rich with references to Scripture (“Philippians 4:13, for Pete’s sake!” Father Tim frequently admonishes), wry wit and humor that will have you laughing out loud, and poignant revelations that bring tears to both characters and readers.

I highly recommend the experience, reading, believing, transfiguring, and otherwise.

A Hidden Wholeness, by Parker J. Palmer

The Dean’s Book Club Review by Ann Reimers

The second selection of the Dean’s Book Club is A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life, by Parker J. Palmer. In it, Parker reminds us that “Christ calls us to be transformed,” and to embark on a journey toward the soul, or true, inner self, “who we were meant to be.” He calls it the “journey toward an undivided life,” in which our external lives revolve around our internal lives, and we are able to listen for and hear the voice of our souls in everything we do.

Palmer, a practicing Quaker, likens it to life on a Möbius strip, in which there is continuity between inner and outer, which co-create reality, rather than the inner distancing itself from the outer, making the outer “soulless” and empty. Life on the Mobius strip is “the adult form of wholeness into which we were born,” Palmer says. He calls us to educate ourselves, in the original meaning of the word, which is “to invite out from within,” and invite the soul, the “trusting, trustworthy part of ourselves,” to come out.

In order for the soul to appear, allowing us to “rejoin soul and role,” Palmer says we must create an environment that is safe and supportive and honors the soul. He calls such a space a “circle of trust,” in which each individual is given both the solitude and community required for the journey toward undividedness, with skilled leadership and an “openly invitational” form of participation. Only open, honest questions are asked (no built-in advice or questions to which the answers are known), respecting the “inner teacher” that exists in all of us.

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