By Jennifer Dobner, Associated Press Writer
SALT LAKE CITY (AP, 10/9/07) — From its president on down, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints used the faith's fall conference to highlight their unique beliefs and defend the religion as a Christian church.
“Even as we invite one and all to examine closely the marvel of it, there is one thing we would not like anyone to wonder about it — that is whether or not we are Christians,'' said Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the church's governing board the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Holland said a cross current of times and events — including the church's growth to more than 13 million members, the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and the candidacy of Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination — brings increased public attention on a faith that's not well understood.
“Now is the time to reach out and show people who we are,'' said M. Russell Ballard, a member of Quorum of the Twelve Apostles governing board.
Mormons gather at the church's Salt Lake City headquarters twice yearly to hear words of spiritual direction and encouragement from leaders. The two-day event draws thousands to the city and is simultaneously broadcast worldwide via Internet, satellite and radio in more than 90 languages.
Church President Gordon B. Hinckley said that the faith is “unique'' and followers should celebrate that.
“It is fundamentally different from every other body of religious doctrine of which I know,'' Hinckley said
Mormon theology disavows the Christian tradition of the Trinity — the belief that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one body — instead believing the three were individuals united in a divine purpose. Mormons also believe in the principle of continuing revelation, leaving their scriptural canon open.
Christians also break with Mormons over the faith's central text, The Book of Mormon, which is said to be a testimony of Christ's work in the ancient Americas. Mormons believe the text was translated by Joseph Smith from a set a gold plates found buried near Palmyra, N.Y., where the church was founded in 1830.
Smith's translated Book of Mormon formed the foundation for what Mormons call the “restored'' church as intended by God. The book is now published in 105 languages.
“Critics have tried to explain it. They have spoken against it. They have ridiculed it,'' said Hinckley, the church's 15th president. “But it has outlived them all and its influence today is greater than at any time in history.''
Hinckley was among at least four church elders trying to underscore Mormonism's place in Christianity and offering members ways to explain the faith to others.
Similar themes were heard during the spring installment of the conference in April prompting some to wonder if the Romney candidacy, which has been plagued by questions about his faith, has increased the pressure on the church.
Jason Bonham, a 31-year-old Mormon from Chicago who runs the pro-Romney weblog MyManMitt.com, views the campaign as a positive, even if it's highlighted how the church differs from other faiths.
“You've always had people who have disliked the church and that's never going to change,'' Bonham said. “This process with Romney, while it's brought out some of the things that are controversial about the church, it's made the church more human and more accessible.''
Officially church officials don't endorse candidates for any public office and will not comment on Romney or his campaign. Public relations officials acknowledge an increased number of media inquires since the campaign began, however.
On Saturday during a news conference with reporters, the newly appointed second counselor in the First Presidency, Henry B. Eyring, said it's too soon to gauge any effect on the church from Romney's candidacy.
“Let's wait and see,'' said Eyring, who succeeds the late James E. Faust, who died in August. “It certainly gives us, as you say, an opportunity to talk to people and that's a wonderful thing. I'm sure that will have some wonderful affects, but everything else has yet to be seen.''
JERUSALEM (AP, 4/11/09) — Hundreds of Christian clergymen, worshippers and pilgrims marked Good Friday at Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where Christian tradition says Jesus was crucified and resurrected.
Brown-robed Roman Catholic friars filed into the ancient church after its doors were unlocked Friday morning. They were followed by pilgrims, some of whom fell to their knees to kiss a smooth stone believed to mark the spot where Jesus' body was placed after he was crucified.
Steps away, inside the church, were the stairs leading to Golgotha, marking the site of the crucifixion. Nearby was the structure marking the site of the cave where Jesus is said to have been entombed.
Afterward, Christians thronged the stone alleyways of Jerusalem's Old City in Good Friday processions following Jesus' footsteps. The processions retrace Christ's final journey down the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Sorrows, where 14 stations commemorate events that befell him as he was led to his death.
Crowds pushed through the streets, bearing wooden crosses. Some chanted hymns in Latin, while local Christians sang in Arabic. Hundreds of Israeli police kept order.
One pilgrim, John Herder of Ontario, Canada, said he had traveled to Jerusalem for the occasion.
“It's a very moving experience,'' he said.
One of the key dates in the Christian calendar, Good Friday marks Christ's crucifixion and death, as recounted in the Bible. It is followed by the celebration of his resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Orthodox Christians follow a different calendar and mark Good Friday on April 17.
By Mary K. Reinhart, East Valley Tribune
MESA, Ariz. (AP, 10/1/07) — It's not just your spiritual health that concerns today's churches. A majority of congregations surveyed are actively involved in ministering to the physical and mental health of their communities, whether or not you're a churchgoer.
As the number of Americans without health insurance hits 47 million and climbs, a new study shows more than two-thirds of churches are providing direct health care services, from blood pressure screenings to full-service medical clinics.
The survey of more than 6,000 congregations by the National Council of Churches of Christ offers the first look at how the much-heralded “faith-based'' community is mobilizing on the front lines of the country's crippled health care system.
About 70 percent of congregations offered some kind of health care program, according to the report, with most churches welcoming not only their members but the whole community.
“The church had moved away from caring for people in a holistic manner,'' said pastor Dave Engel, who, with his physician wife, Ann, opened a Chandler health care clinic for the uninsured earlier this month.
“I think now there's a reawakening,'' Engel said. “This a real need that we, as followers of Christ, need to be involved with.''
Churches have long been active in a multitude of missions, in all corners of the globe and at home. They are quick to meet the emergency needs of parishioners or hurricane victims.
Faith-based organizations, from Catholic Social Services to Jewish Family and Children's Service, have been operating broad-based programs for children, families and the aged for decades.
But more and more, the study shows, individual churches are supporting their neighbors when the health care system fails them.
“The results of this survey confirm a higher energy for health care than we might have thought,'' said Eileen W. Lindner, who supervised the project for the National Council of Churches. “(They) show that effective health care ministries are being developed by congregations of all sizes to meet the urgent needs of their communities.''
Not surprisingly, larger congregations in urban and suburban areas are the most active, according to the survey, with preventive care — like health screenings — atop the list of services.
At Tempe's King of Glory Lutheran Church, parish nurse Karen Hernandez runs monthly blood pressure, glucose and skin cancer screenings. You can attend a strength class twice a week or hear guest speakers talk about nutrition, diabetes and mental health.
Hernandez also makes referrals, goes along to doctor's appointments and counsels those who have a new diagnosis, taking the time physicians' may lack to answer questions or just listen. And she prays with them.
“I do house calls, nursing home calls, hospital calls,'' she said. “I meet people where they're at.''
Hernandez is among 123 parish nurses in metropolitan Phoenix, according to Barbara Sage, director of the Beatitudes Nurse and Health Ministries Network. That's 14 more than there were six months ago. About half, like Hernandez, are paid staff.
Through the Beatitudes network, local nurses get training at conferences and workshops, share information and stay abreast of job opportunities and community resources.
“There's a gap in the health care system,'' Sage said. “Having this ministry in church, with a nurse leading it, helps fill in some of those gaps.''
Public health experts say the Bush administration's faith-based initiative, which provides federal funding for social service work, hasn't provided significant money but may have opened some doors.
Though many churches rejected the federal money because of the requirement against proselytizing, the debate educated policymakers and others who may not have considered reaching out to churches for help with social problems, said Jane Pearson, associate director for programs at St. Luke's Health Initiatives.
“What evolved was some technical assistance activities for both community and faith-based organizations,'' Pearson said. “And I think that has raised the awareness among faith communities about what they could do … and started connecting them with secular organizations.''
Pearson said the biggest growth in health ministries has been among evangelical groups, like Victory Outreach and Teen Outreach Academy in Phoenix, which provide residential drug treatment.
“They're very clear. They proselytize. There's no doubt what they're about,'' she said. “But the fact is, they're recovering these men and women. They're getting them sober.''
The Engels, members and missionaries at Grace Community Church, spent more than three years searching for the right spot to open Hope Community Health Center in Chandler.
With a grant from Chandler Regional Medical Center, as well as corporate and private donations, they opened the clinic Sept. 5 and already have a full schedule.
The clinic is open on Wednesday and Saturday by appointment, and charges $15 per office visit. Dr. Ann Engel, a family practice physician, and Dave Engel supervise an all-volunteer staff that includes seven nurses. Most of their patients are working one or two jobs, but their companies either don't offer insurance or they can't afford it.
“These are hard-working people who are trying to make ends meet for their families,'' Ann Engel said.
As part of its mission, the clinic dispenses religion along with medications, but only to those willing to listen. After all, as the national study points out, there are more references in the Bible to Jesus healing people than to him teaching or preaching.
“That really is the message of Christ — hope,'' Engel said. “That there is more to me than what I'm experiencing right now. Without hope, you'll just give up and be crushed under the system. And that's where a lot of the impoverished are.''
Information from: East Valley Tribune/Scottsdale Tribune
By Beckie Supiano, DisciplesWorld contributing writer
FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. (4/13/07) — As law enforcement officials piece together the circumstances of Nancy Copin's murder on April 2, the congregation of Snow Creek Christian Church is coping with the death of a well-loved pastor.
Copin, 60, pastor of Snow Creek Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Franklin County, Va., was found dead in the church parsonage by two members of her church on Maundy Thursday during Holy Week.
Copin died of blunt force trauma. The Franklin County Sheriffs’s Office arrested Charles Vincent Cobler, 40, earlier this week in Ohio. The Associated Press reported Thursday that Cobler confessed to killing Copin and was arraigned on a first-degree murder charge.
“This is a very quiet community,” said Debbie Haynes, chair of Snow Creek’s board. “Things like this just don’t happen.”
“It has been devastating for all of us, but we knew we’d get through it with our faith and by the grace of God,” said Haynes.
One possible motive for murder was a special offering taken at the church on Palm Sunday, said Regional Minister Lee Parker. “They thought she had money from a special offering [in her home] – but that was false,” he said.
Copin came to ministry late in life, and had been at Snow Creek for less than two years. She made a big impact in a short time.
Copin is remembered as a globally-minded pastor with a special place in her heart for children. She was known for her children’s messages during services.
“Sometimes after the children’s sermon you wanted to say ‘Amen’ and go home, because you got so much out of it as an adult,” Haynes said.
The congregation went through with Holy Week services — which Copin had meticulously planned in advance as usual. The church wanted to honor Copin by going ahead with the services she wanted them to have, Haynes said. Parker preached at the Easter Sunday service.
Copin was always organized and on top of things, but was also known for her energetic spirit.
“She was a fun person to be with,” Parker said. “She always spoke her mind. There was never any question of where you stood with her. She had a deep faith. She was the kind of pastor every church deserves and every regional minister wants.”
People in the church are still coming to terms with their loss. “It takes a while to sink in,” Parker said. “Sometimes the brain filters until the heart is ready to bear the whole heavy burden.”
The sheriff’s office has been very sensitive to the feelings of members of the congregation, Haynes said, keeping them up to speed on the investigation and making officers available to talk with church members.
Copin’s family has requested a memorial for her through the Christian Church Foundation, with a named fund going to ministry for women and children in Mexico and South Africa, Parker said.
A memorial service for Copin was held Wednesday at the church.
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP, 4/10/09) — A group with a federal lawsuit in Kansas alleging widespread religious discrimination within the military called Wednesday for the Army to court martial its chief of chaplains.
But a spokesman said the Army respects soldiers' right to worship freely “at all times and in all locations.''
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation sought Maj. Gen. Douglas Carver's ouster on the day Carver designated for prayer and fasting for chaplains. It also was the start of Passover, observed with a ritual meal, or Seder, by Jews.
Foundation President Mikey Weinstein said his Albuquerque, N.M.-based group has received numerous complaints about Carver's proclamation in March calling for Wednesday's fasting and prayer.
The proclamation calls for chaplains to act “in keeping with your religious traditions.'' Carver later issued an addendum saying participation was voluntary and that he consulted with two senior Jewish chaplains.
Weinstein said Carver also has endorsed an effort to bring Bibles in Arabic and other languages into Iraq and Afghanistan, citing a quote from Carver posted on a ministry's Web site. Weinstein said such efforts clearly violate civilian and military law against trying to convert non-Christians.
The foundation and a former Fort Riley, Kan., soldier filed suit last year in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., against Defense Secretary Robert Gates, alleging a pervasive bias within the military toward evangelical Christianity. The lawsuit also alleges the military allows personnel to try to convert Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan to Christianity.
“It's a fundamentalist Christian-Constitution fight,'' Weinstein said in an interview. “This represents a perfect, quintessential example of the fact that our United States military has become infused, essentially, with the Christian mirror image of the type of Islam that is pushed by al-Qaida and the Taliban.''
Army spokesman Lt. Col. George Wright said it accommodates soldiers of all faiths, such as when they need special meals to comply with dietary restrictions. He said all soldiers are free to accept or reject a chaplain's services.
“Our chaplains come from and practice a variety of faiths, but all chaplains minister to all soldiers, families and civil servants who want the counsel, comfort and religious services or personal counsel,'' Wright said.
The foundation says it represents about 11,500 military personnel, and 96 percent are Christians upset about what they view as discrimination by other Christians.
Weinstein said soldiers of different faiths complained about designating a day of fasting on an important Jewish feast day. Carver recently was quoted by the Baptist Press as noting Wednesday is a meeting night for fellow Southern Baptists.
Carver also is quoted on the website of the Soldiers Bible Ministry: “Thanks so much for your invaluable ministry of the Word to our Soldiers.''
The ministry, part of the Heart of God International Ministries Network in Willard, Ohio, says on its website that it strives to make soldiers “ambassadors of Christ.''
“This is absolutely about proselytizing in Iraq and everywhere else,'' Weinstein said. “We're not at war with Islam? It sure looks like we are.''
Heart of God spokesmen didn't respond to telephone calls or e-mails Wednesday, but the Soldiers Bible Ministry site said it provides Bibles upon request to troops “who desire to have a personal copy.''
Weinstein said the foundation's complaints about Carver would be incorporated in its lawsuit. The other plaintiff is Spc. Dustin Chalker, a combat medic previously stationed at Fort Riley and now at Fort Detrick, Md.
Chalker is an atheist whose original complaints included being forced to attend military formations where Christian prayers were given. In December, he and the foundation expanded the lawsuit to allege the military doesn't take complaints of religious discrimination seriously enough.
The U.S. Justice Department, defending Gates, has until Thursday to reply. In the past, it has said has said allowing courts to intervene would interfere with Army operations.
The lawsuit is Specialist Dustin Chalker and Military Religious Freedom Foundation v. Robert Gates, secretary, United States Department of Defense, No. 08-cv-02467.
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP, 11/1/07) — American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan may soon be playing cards with the ace of artifacts or the king of archaeological digs.
Nearly 50,000 decks of cards meant to help troops avoid unnecessary damage to ancient sites and curb the illegal trade of stolen artifacts will be shipped to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as training sites in the United States.
The cards were developed by a Colorado State University researcher and graphic artist working with the Defense Department.
Each card displays an artifact or site and gives a tip on how to avoid damaging historic treasures.
Each suit has a theme: diamonds for artifacts and treasures, spades for historic sites and archaeological digs, hearts for “winning hearts and minds'' and clubs for heritage preservation.
CSU says none of the decks will be sold commercially.
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By Michelle Murray, DisciplesWorld contributing writer
(10/19/07) — Mercy Maliko seemed to have it all. She had earned a master’s degree in theological studies from Pacific Theological College and held a high-ranking position at the regional level of an ecumenical organization in Fiji.
In a matter of months, Mercy’s entire life changed. After her husband also completed his graduate work at Pacific Theological College, the couple’s church ordered them to return to their home country of Samoa. While her husband was given employment as a professor at a local theological college, Mercy received no such offer.
Left to cope with the strain of unemployment, she soon found herself slipping into a deep depression. In resigning from her prominent leadership position, Mercy had lost more than just a job. She lost a vital platform for voicing her opinions regarding religious issues. In short, she had lost her voice.
Unfortunately, Mercy’s plight is not unique to the Pacific Island region. Cultural norms still dictate that a woman’s place is in the home, and women are discouraged from publicly voicing their opinions on social issues. Even when taking part in certain cultural rituals, they are expected to remain silent.
There is evidence that such attitudes are slowly changing as some Pacific Island churches have begun ordaining women and welcoming them in leadership roles. However, women attempting to make their voices heard at the national and local levels of religious organizations still face discrimination due to prevailing cultural norms.
Manahine Pasefika, also referred to as the Association of Oceanian Women Theologians, is challenging these cultural barriers. Organized in 2006 by Pacific Island women, the group currently includes 35 members who have earned various levels of theological degrees and represent many Pacific nations, including Australia, Samoa, and Papua New Guinea. Manahine Pasefika is a Global Ministries’ affiliate committed to empowering women by providing them with an opportunity to re-claim their voices through writing.
The group’s name reflects this commitment as it combines common words found in many Oceanian languages such as ‘mana’ and ‘hine,’ which respectively refer to sacred power and women.
“The founders of Manahine combined ‘mana’ and ‘hine’ to speak of women in a powerful way,” explains Lydia Johnson, who serves as the group’s editor as well as a Global Ministries’ missionary.
Compiling and publishing inspirational Bible studies, the organization encourages women to re-claim their mana by taking active roles in ministry.
The group’s first publication is a collection of Bible studies slated for publication in late 2007. Written by six members of the organization, the work focuses on women in important roles in the New Testament, such as the prophet, patron, and evangelist, who actively participated in ministries. Each study then compares these ministries to the current work of Pacific Island women who have taken leadership roles within their churches and communities.
While publishing these Bible studies enables Manahine Pasefika to empower its members, the group’s ambitions do not stop there. The organization also seeks to inspire women across the Pacific to raise their own voices. To encourage this, each Bible study includes a discussion section which encourages readers to think of ways that they can effectively participate in the ministries highlighted in the book.
Johnson explains that while many women already take active roles in informal ministries, their contributions, “are largely not recognized or affirmed by the male hierarchy in the churches.” She notes that women are often in charge of church fundraising projects and are responsible for providing pastoral care to ailing church members. Although women sometimes raise their voices to speak out against social issues such as sexual abuse, communities often do not welcome such action.
Johnson says that it is the hope of Manahine Pasefika that these Bible studies will help women claim “the ministries they are already doing or can do informally, without approval by the male church leaders.”
Manahine Pasefika hopes to continue its unique style of ministry with the future publication of two Bible studies which will highlight specific social issues such as poverty and violence.
Members of the organization will also have the opportunity to expand their skills by participating in the 2008 “Training for Transformation” workshop. During the event, they will be given instruction on how to polish their writing and gain training in animation.
Mercy has already experienced the benefits of Manahine Pasefika’s work firsthand. The author of one Bible study to be included in the 2007 publication, she has gained renewed confidence and hope through her involvement with the organization.
“I can have a voice through writing,” says Mercy, “Even if my church does not want to hear me.”
Individuals and churches interested in supporting Manahine Pasefika’s publishing projects should log on to the Global Ministries website, for more information.
Interview with Dan Kimball
Co-pastor, Vintage Faith Church
Santa Cruz, California
Author of The Emerging Church, Emerging Worship, and They Like Jesus But Not the Church (all Zondervan)
By Lee Sparks
Q: Do you know (roughly) how many âemerging churchesâ there are in North America? Iâve heard everything from âa couple of hundredâ to about 2,000. I know that predicting is difficult given the fluid nature of the group, but your best guess is welcome.
A: To my knowledge, there is no formal count of how many emerging or emergent churches there are. So much depends on what the definition of an emerging church or emergent church or even discussing the difference that there is among those two terms.
Many feel they are emerging but not emergent, such as Mark Driscoll in several articles and statements that he has made. I talk to people regularly who feel they align with being an emerging missional church, yet arenât becoming as open theologically as some emergent churches are.
So, defining what you mean by emerging or emergent is probably important. Ed Stetzer wrote about this breakdown using three distinct terms, which I felt was somewhat accurate and Mark has quoted Ed on those distinctions.
There are churches that birth alternative worship gatherings within their church, that are probably considered emerging, but they arenât a distinct church. So I see an increase of those. Many end up birthing into a church, if the values and philosophy end up not matching the church that started them. But there are probably a couple hundred of alternative gatherings in existing churches that are creating. Or young adult ministries who are defining themselves into more of an emerging missional ministry, than a traditional young adult ministry. Many youth ministries and youth leaders are adopting emerging missional values, so that is a major thing going on.
Youth Specialties has been running an emerging church tract at all their conventions, and well attended by youth leaders. So that is a major thing happening that isnât a âchurchâ but is impacting the church and future church.
There are house churches that are probably considered emerging or emergent. Many only last a short time, but I canât even guess how many there are.
There are lots of church plants like the one you showed me in San Diego (Missiongathering). As to numbers, 2,000 wouldnât surprise me if that were the case at all. But I cannot make any guess. All I know is everywhere I go in the country, there is high interest in this.
Q: Do you happen to know how many churches belong to the Emergent Village? Or is membership limited to individuals?
A: You can contact Tony Jones on the emergent village website at www.emergentvillage.com, but they donât have any formal membership or count churches that are part of âemergent village.â They are calling themselves Emergent Village now. They have local cohort discussion groups where people locally meet monthly or every other month who are interested in the values of Emergent Village and establishing friendships. Tony can tell you, but I think he said they have about 40 cohorts going nationally and a couple dozen overseas.
Q: And now the big question: Is the emerging church part of the so-called âEvangelical movement? Why or why not?
A: Some are, some arenât. Itâs like asking whether Lutherans, Episcopalians, Baptists, Presbyterians, Bible churches are part of the evangelical movement. There are all types of churches and denominations who are resonating and adapting to be emerging missional churches. There also is the question of what does it means to be evangelical. That is the big question, as in its original definition I think many would say they are evangelicals. But has the term evangelical come to be more than just having some core theological beliefs in common and passion about the gospel? Has evangelical come to mean Republican, right wing, politically motivated?
That is why the word has different meanings now, something like the term fundamentalist did originally and then changed. Many people donât like saying they are a fundamentalist, not that they donât believe in the fundamentals of the faith, but because they donât align with what the term has become. I see the same exact thing happening with the term evangelical in that its meaning in our culture has changed.
As for me, I would definitely say I am evangelical as in what the term originally meant theologically and mission-minded. But not in terms of the political association and baggage the term has developed into lately in our culture.
By Robyn Graves, DisciplesWorld contributing writer
FULTON, Mo. (9/3/07) — The circus is coming to town next week, as Disciples-related William Woods University (WWU) kicks off its sixth year of participation in the One Read program with Sara Gruen’s novel Water for Elephants.
Water for Elephants recounts the youthful experiences of Jacob Jankowski, who is now in a nursing home. As a boy growing up during the Great Depression, Jankowski had no family or money and ended up in a traveling circus. According to the One Read website, the book “contrasts the tawdry, and often cruel, but fascinating features of Jacob’s life with his present day dissatisfaction, his sterile nursing home existence and his family’s neglect.”
One Read events at WWU begin Sept.10 with Circus Day. The book will be introduced and so will the dual themes of circus life and life in a nursing home. The Office of Student Life will decorate Tucker Dining Hall, playing circus music and encouraging everyone to wear circus costumes.
In the late afternoon, students are invited to visit all four local nursing homes.
Other events are scheduled throughout the month, including faculty lectures, book discussion groups, circus-themed movie viewings, circus art displays, and more.
One Read is a community-wide reading program sponsored by a task force of local media and community agencies. Modeled after Chicago’s successful “One Book, One Chicago” project, it is a comprehensive program that involves cities, counties, media, schools, and businesses in encouraging adults of all ages to read one book and participate in thought-provoking discussions and activities.
In past years, the books chosen have included Plainsong, To Kill a Mockingbird, Nickel and Dimed: On Getting By in America, Ender’s Game, and Tortilla Curtain.
Of WWU’s 792 full-time undergraduate students, anywhere from 60 to 125 students participate in each activity on campus. Members of the community are also invited.
The public submitted suggestions for this year's book during the winter. In January, a panel of community members reviewed the suggestions, narrowed that list down to 10 titles and then voted on which books to present to the public.
Water for Elephants was chosen by a public vote that took place in April. Of the nearly 600 people who voted, 340 chose this book over Zorro by Isabel Allende.
Greg Smith, assistant professor of English at WWU describes Water for Elephants as “a populist novel, a tale that champions the dreams and aspirations of downtrodden and outcast Americans who struggle against the corrupt motivations and actions of those in authority.”
“Each year I try to support the One Read program by offering cinematic tie-ins with the chosen book…usually I screen movies or television shows that are thematically related, but that offer a somewhat different take on similar subject matter,” said Smith, who then leads discussions on the themes.
Mary Ann Beahon, director of university relations at WWU and member of the One Read Task Force, says that the diversity of the books has led to a wide variety of resulting programs. “Each book allowed us to delve into different topics and explore them further,” said Beahon, who was recently appointed to the community's Daniel Boone Regional Library board of directors.
“This program allows the students and community to mesh. I have met people in my
community through this program, and students have gotten across the gap to
the community as well,” said Katharine Mixter Mayne, assistant professor of biology at WWU.
Mayne appreciates this year’s novel “because it’s not too heavy in dealing with some profound issues… The book is filled with the exciting escapades of Jacob’s circus life, but the readers also experience a much darker side of the circus and a much darker time in history,” she said.
When asked why they believe Water for Elephants appealed to the majority of voters, both Mayne and Beahon responded with, “Who doesn’t like the circus?”
A complete, detailed list of discussions and activities for the One Read program at WWU can be found on the school's website. For more information concerning One Read, please visit: http://oneread.dbrl.org.