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Religion

Apr 19 2016

Monkey Town, U.S.A.

by Hope L

Smiths

While reading the latest issue of my favorite DCPL mag, Smithsonian, I learned that one can still visit Monkey Town, U.S.A. ( actually Dayton, Tennessee), where they celebrate annually one of the most controversial trials in our nation’s history.

“Pretty much every summer since 1988, this tiny Appalachian town (pop. 7,200) has roused itself to celebrate that publicity stunt gone viral.  The Scopes Trial Festival, held over two weekends in July, features live bluegrass, tractor and craft shows, and a fried-Oreo food truck.  A storyteller spins his tales like a barker at a sideshow.  The centerpiece of the festival is a town-commissioned musical, Front Page News, which re-enacts the trial in the vast courtroom where it was held.

The play, performed by members of the nearby Cumberland County Playhouse, is essentially a rebuttal to Inherit the Wind ( both the DVD of the film starring Spencer Tracy and the book by the same name are available at DCPL).  The Hollywood version of the trial is widely loathed in Dayton, and the Front Page News does hew much more closely to the court transcript.”

Both the book and the DVD are available at DCPL.

 

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Mar 8 2016

Supreme Decisions

by Hope L

Supreme

The week after I started writing this particular blog, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away unexpectedly.

I was already writing a blog about the Supreme Court and how the upcoming presidential election would dramatically affect the Supreme Court of the U.S., or SCOTUS, as it is often referred to nowadays.

Now, the stakes are even higher as the highest court in the country is evenly split along ideological lines, with monumental cases hanging in the balance.

According to Jonathan Hobratsch, Writer Editor for the Literati Quarterly in a blog for The Huffington Post:

“If the next president wins two terms, regardless of the party, the Supreme Court could reach a near ideological monopoly unknown in the post-World War II era of American History, perhaps a monopoly never achieved since FDR’s eight Supreme Court nominations.

However, FDR presided during a time when both parties had liberal and conservative wings; therefore, there was more ideological overlap in a judicial nomination, even if he/she was from the opposing party.  With two deeply divided parties, the next president has a crucial influence on the future of the Supreme Court that is rarely discussed as we get closer to the 2016 election.”

justices

 

Or, consider what USA Today’s Richard Wolf wrote in his USA Today News online report:

“Wedged between the Republican and Democratic national conventions next July will fall an event of greater long term significance for the future of the republic:  Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s 80th birthday.

Barring unforeseen events, Kennedy will become the third sitting octogenarian on the court – Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 82 (and as of writing this DCPL blog, she is 83) and Justice Antonin Scalia turns 80 in March.  That will mark the first time since George H.W. Bush entered the White House more than a quarter century ago that a president has inherited three justices that old.  at 78 by then, Justice Stephen Breyer will be close behind.”

Some major cases to be heard in 2016 include those on immigration, voting districts, affirmative action for higher education students, union practices, state laws on abortion availability, and the Obamacare mandate on contraceptive coverage for employees at churches and other religions institutions.

I started searching the stacks of DCPL for anything SCOTUS-related, and I was absolutely stunned at the volume of material on the subject.  I mean, everything about the high court has been documented, explored and opined about.

And, the end of the last century had something new to write about the Supreme Court – a first throughout its history:  the naming of a female Supreme Court justice, Sandra Day O’Connor.

O’Connor was nominated by Ronald Reagan in 1981 and garnered unanimous senate approval; ironically, she was the “key swing vote in many important cases, including the upholding or Roe v. Wade,” according to the website Bio.com.

DCPL has many books on O’Connor, including: “Sandra Day O’Connor : How the First Woman on the Supreme Court Became its Most Influential Justice by Joan Biskupic.

But one of my favorite reads has been Robert Schnakenberg’s “Secret Lives of the Supreme Court:  What Your Teachers Never Told You About America’s Legendary Justices.

 

supremebook

An interesting tidbit from this book about John Marshall, who spent 34 years as chief justice:

“Beyond his noble birthright (a distant relative of Thomas Jefferson), there was nothing much about Marshall’s upbringing that screamed “father of American jurisprudence.”  He had only a year of formal schooling and attended law lectures for less than three months.”

“…he dressed in a plain, occasionally disheveled, manner and did all his own grocery shopping.  A Virginia neighbor once saw him lugging a turkey home from the market, mistook him for a servant, and threw him some spare change.  Marshall humbly pocketed the money and went on his way with his bird.  A truly genial man, he won many a legal argument through conciliation and persuasion rather than confrontation and coercion – a fact that infuriated his political opponents.”

And, another item which I vaguely remembered and is covered in the book (but many people don’t realize): that President William Howard Taft, who had served as a U.S. District Court judge in his native Ohio, always had aspired to sit on the Supreme Court. He was steered instead into the presidency by both his wife and the outgoing president, Theodore Roosevelt.  He got his opportunity, however, when Republican Warren G. Harding sought him for an appointment to the high court.  Taft is the only former president to have sworn a new president into office (Calvin Coolidge in 1925 and Herbert Hoover in 1929).

Who knows?  If a Democrat is elected, perhaps Barack O’Bama could be a future justice.

One thing is certain, however – this country will be seeing many new faces on the Supreme Court in the coming years.

 

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Dec 3 2014

Spirituality with a Heap of Humor

by Hope L

Anne2I feel like I have a new best friend.

When I saw that Anne Lamott had spoken for the Georgia Center for the Book about her new book Small Victories:  Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace, I decided to look into some of her work.

Many of her quotes are so awesome, I’m placing a few throughout this post, like:

““Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”

First, I checked out an audiobook recording of Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, which I saw at my branch.  I put it in the CD player in my car and have been listening to it instead of the hateful talk radio I had been tuning into and which had fomented within me within me nothing but anger and frustration. (Plan B is also available in print at DCPL.)

Now, in Atlanta traffic, one does not need an added level of anger and frustration.  So Anne’s soothing voice has been a welcome addition to my commutes.

Hope is not about proving anything. It’s about choosing to believe this one thing, that love is bigger than any grim, bleak sh*t anyone can throw at us.

When this Catholic girl (my name is Hope Anne Mary) heard Lamott tell her “Ham of God” story whilst I was cruising down Memorial Drive the other day, I almost lost control of my Toyota SUV.  “Why, the nerve of her! What sacrilege!” I thought initially.  But when I listened and learned the true meaning of her story, I chuckled to myself: “That Anne!”

Her spiritual tidbits, sandwiched in humor and irony, are a welcome oasis to the stress and often helpless feelings of our modern age.

“It’s good to do uncomfortable things. It’s weight training for life.”

Traveling Mercies:  Some Thoughts on Faith chronicles Lamott’s journeys though alcoholism, motherhood, and just plain life.  I listen to her talk about motherhood, and I think about some of my friends who have kids.  Anne writes that one of her friends had once said:

“My husband and I are either going to buy a dog or have a child.  We can’t decide whether to ruin our carpets or ruin our lives.”

In that case, I definitely decided to ruin my carpets by having loads of cats and dogs and no children.

Now, given that I believe myself to be on something of a spiritual journey, it sure is nice to have a friend like Anne Lamott along for the ride.

“The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, and you should try not to forget snacks and magazines.”

You’re right there, Anne.  And some good books.

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Nov 17 2014

America’s Most Hated Woman?

by Hope L

hair

This past June was the 50-year anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling against school-sponsored prayer (Engel v. Vitale, June 25, 1962).

That’s probably why I saw the book America’s Most Hated Woman:  The Life and Gruesome Death of Madalyn Murray O’Hair  on a cart to be re-shelved recently at the library. Perhaps a student had to write a report, or interest was sparked around this landmark decision’s anniversary.

I had no idea, however, that the infamous atheist had been murdered.

Intrigued, I checked out the book and began to read about O’Hair. Considering the death threats, the vicious hate mail, the taunting of her two sons, and the sentiment of much of the church-going public around that time, this woman must have been one tough cookie.

The book examines Murray’s beginnings and the seeds that were sown early on that might have moved her to fight her lifelong battle against religion in American public schools and more. In this book and the other one I mention below,  she is often portrayed as obese, slovenly, loose, impulsive, alcoholic, and argumentative.  Indeed, I watched a few old interview clips of her online, and some of what she says in them is quite offensive and crude, even by today’s standards.

But I figured there had to be some likeable qualities there somewhere, too.  Evidently, Madalyn Murray studied law and flunked the bar but was by all accounts highly intelligent, if not socially refined or popular.  She was said to be an enthralling and engaging speaker, and indeed, was the very first person interviewed by Phil Donahue on his show in 1967.  The statements made by O’Hair during that first episode were so contentious that the audience was jumping up to ask questions to challenge her, and the previously seated Donahue had to grab a mic and go out into the audience, thus making television history and creating a new style of talk show with audience participation.

No, Madalyn Murray O’Hair was not popular.  The government was after  her (the IRS, FBI, CIA, Justice Dept.), organized religion in America was after her, the Pope was after her–even many in the different atheist factions were after her because of her attempts to capitalize on the movement.

In Ungodly:  The Passions, Torments, and Murder of Atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the front cover promises thus:

“… traces the self-anointed atheist high priestess from her public skirmishes with the law through her remarkable legal maneuverings and her schemes to siphon off enormous sums of money from the foundations she created.”

“… explains for the first time the full story of the kidnapping and murder of O’Hair, her son, and granddaughter–a gristly multiple murder masterminded by a genius ex-con who hoped to pocket nearly a million dollars’ worth of loot in a pitiless and cunning plot.”

It seems really ironic that Madalyn and her family were ultimately kidnapped and murdered by a former employee and fellow atheist rather than someone following through with one of the many vile and violent threats made by so-called “church-going” persons.

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Mar 4 2013

Bonnet Fiction

by Amanda L

A Cousin's PrayerI recently mentioned to a coworker that I was going to write a post about Amish fiction. His response to me, “Oh, you mean bonnet fiction?” I have to confess I have never heard of the term but in doing some research, this term has been used in the publishing industry since  2009. Bonnet fiction is primarily fiction books written with Amish characters and typically have a romantic theme. Through Amish fiction, the authors give the readers a feel of what it’s like to live the Amish life along with the technological differences associated with that lifestyle.

The author who is most often thought of when you mention Amish fiction is Beverly Lewis. Most of her stories take place in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Two of her books have been made into television movies.  The Postcard is one of the older titles that we have in our collection. Rachel Yoder, a recent widower, meets Philip Bradley, a journalist from New York. They set out on a journey after finding a postcard.

Another author who writes Amish fiction is Wanda Brunstetter. She has written quite a few Amish books. A Cousin’s Prayer tells the story of Katie Miller who loses her boyfriend in a car accident. She becomes depressed and meets Freeman Bontrager who wants to be near Katie. He falls for her and wants to make her gain his trust and finally his love.

Beth Wiseman is another author who has written a lot of Amish books. In Plain Promise, Sadie, an Amish widow, works at her family’s store selling goods to tourists. She decides that she needs more income and decides to rent out her cottage. Kade, a single father, decides to rent the cottage to get out of the hustle and bustle of his world. Through the cold winter, Kade and Sadie begin a friendship which concerns the rest of the Amish community.

There is even a local author who writes Amish fiction. His name is Dale Cramer and his stories reflect his family’s history. His grandfather was Amish and lived in Ohio but, because of the enforced school rules, decided to move to Mexico to be able to have their own schools. Levi’s Will is one of the stories that tells the story. Mr. Cramer researched this story and community and at the end of his stories lists his sources for the reader to learn more about this interesting community.

Amish fiction is hot and there are a variety of authors who are trying their hands at this genre. To find some more authors, try searching the catalog under the subject heading Amish fiction. There you will find a variety of authors including Barbara Cameron, Kathryn Cushman and Leslie Gould.

Finally, do you want to learn more about the old order Anabaptist that include the Amish? On the Background to Heaven: Old Order Hutterites, Mennonites, Amish and Brethern takes each group and explains their origins and beliefs.  It helped me understand that many of the things described in the Amish fiction are in fact what the Amish community experience in their daily lives.

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Jun 15 2011

Stonecrest has arrived!

by Dea Anne M

DCPL’s newest branch is finally open! It is, of course, the Stonecrest branch located at 3123 Klondike Road in Lithonia. The library is beautiful and well worth coming by just to see, but be sure to check out the collection as well. Tons of great titles are now available and waiting for you!

While you’re in the area, don’t miss any of the other attractions that this part of the county has to offer. The Stonecrest Mall is right down the road from the library and offers tons of delicious shopping opportunities and dining options as well as entertainment. Also nearby is Arabia Mountain Heritage Area which includes a great multi-use trail and a beautiful nature preserve. Just a short drive away in Conyers is the Monastery of the Holy Spirit a contemplative order of Trappists monks. The monastery creates bonsai and bonsai products for sale as well as stained glass. Retreats and group visits are available, and while you probably won’t talk to any of the monks (the order takes vows of silence), you can soak in the beauty and peace that abounds here.

Not an attraction per se, but definatly worth knowing about, is the Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort located at 4158 Klondike Road. These folks are dedicated to wild animal rescue and rehabilitation so if you find an injured or lost animal you will know who to contact.

So get yourself to Lithonia soon and check it all out!

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Mar 12 2010

They still reign…

by Amanda L

I recently checked out Michael W. Smith‘s latest album, A new hallelujah, or musical compilation as some would say.  For those of you who are not familiar with Michael W. Smith, he is considered one of the most influential artists of contemporary Christian music. I have been following and appreciating his music and writing abilities since the beginning of his career in the early eighties.

I have switched, like so many of us, to downloading my music online and loading it on to either my computer, MP3 or iPod player. The library is a great way to preview many of the albums that you might want to buy. That is what I was doing with Michael W. Smith’s latest. This album however, reminded me of why I believe compact discs still have a place  in today’s market place.

A new hallelujah although not hailed as a live album, is performed before a live audience in Houston, Texas. The flow of the songs because they are performed live, in my opinion, need to be played in order. While listening to the CD, I began appreciating the CD format. I was able to feel like I was right there with Michael W. Smith. Many of the  songs on the album have been performed by other artists such as Chris Tomlin and Hillsong United. They have been rearranged as only Smitty (as he affectionately is called) can do. The album highlights Smitty’s piano talent and ability to elicit audience participation.

The library has a large collection of music available for you to explore a variety of musical genres. If you haven’t explored the Christian music genre, I highly recommend checking out the Michael W. Smith collection that we have.  If you want a quick listen to what I think is one of the best songs on this album, check out this video of the song, Deep in Love withYou.


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Jul 30 2008

Christian Fiction for Kids and Teens

by Ginny C

Christian fiction has changed in the last several years, especially titles written for children and teens. When I was growing up (which was not so very long ago), Christian fiction was, well, boring.  And a little too sweet for my tastes.  Now, there is so much more to choose from, in many different genres.  Realistic fiction has kids and teens facing real problems (broken families, romantic relationships, peer pressure) and hard solutions.  And then there’s fantasy and science-fiction and mysteries and even graphic novels.

The following is a list of a few of the authors and titles that you can find at the library.  On the fantasy front, Ted Dekker, who has written quite a few adult novels, and Wayne Thomas Batson both have series’ written for teens and tweens. 

Frank Peretti writes a mystery series, the first of which is Hangman’s Curse.

Stand alone titles include Perch, Mrs. Sacket’s and Crow’s Nest by Karen Pavlicin and A Friend at Midnight by Caroline B. Cooney.

There are plenty more that I didn’t mention, as well as some adult titles that might appeal to older teens.  Don’t forget to check out your branch’s paperback collection as lots of titles are not published in hardcover.  Some authors to look for are Melody Carlson, Stephanie Perry Moore (the Laurel Shadrach series and the Payton Skyy series), Wendy Lawton and Robin Jones Gunn.

I still haven’t found a really good site that lists authors and titles for this age group, but a quick Google search will find several and I know I can rely on TeensRead.com to highlight a few Christian fiction new releases.  Let us know in the comments if you have a favorite Christian author or title or know of a good website for updates on new titles.

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Dec 12 2007

“Om” for the Holidays

by Heather O

‘Tis the season for not only receiving extra pounds, but also extra stress. For years yoga has been used as a wonderful exercise for improving dexterity, stamina, balance, and weight-loss; and yoga can also help you de-stress during the busy holiday season. Modern yoga draws mainly from one branch of the different traditions; Hatha Yoga which focuses on the body and its movements. The deliberate and mindful nature of the asanas (yoga poses) with pranayama (breathing) contribute to a meditative state for many yoga practitioners. Yoga has a long history of use in Indian religions and different schools of Buddhism dating back to the Bhagavad Gita. Yoga is one of those great activities you can do as much as you’d like with it; you can follow along with a DVD or class, you could study philosophy and meditate, you can practice while pregnant then later with the baby, and you can learn as much or as little as you’d like on your own.

My favorite materials available from DCPL:

Yoga1 Yoga Body, Buddha Mind: Cyndi Lee – More than just pictures of a wide variety of postures, a modern Buddhist and yoga teacher intersperses her poses with some background on yoga, Buddhism, meditation, and breathing. An accessible work for those interested in a little more than just the postures and exercise, but also don’t want to read a lengthly religious tome.

Power Yoga Stamina (VHS) with Rodney Yee – Pretty much any Rodney Yee videorecording is good, I like the Stamina best of all. This is a video for beginner-intermediate yogis as he be too fast for those who do not already know the asanas, but its just the right length of time and difficulty to get my heart pumping and my mind engaged.

Yoga2 Total Yoga Flow Series: Water – The three-part series includes: Earth, Water, and Fire each focusing on a different level of yoga and different focus. The Water is the intermediate level with a focus on flexibility and grace. All three are interesting and useful in their own way often including some extra like a guided meditation or breathing exercise, but the menus are a challenging to navigate and the scene selection was a bit off.

Yoga Yoga : the path to holistic health: B.K.S. IyengarGiant book of poses from one of the most respected teachers in the world. The asanas are photographed from various angles and health benefits are noted along with the entry fro each posture. An essential reference, especially for those learning without the benefit of a teacher.

Yoga3 The Shambhala guide to yoga: Georg Feuerstein – Interested in history, philosophy, religion, or other yoga traditions? This book is great for people who want a good introduction to what yoga is beyond ‘downward-facing dog’.

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Oct 10 2007

The Dalai Lama in Atlanta

by Heather O

Dl_2Emory University will host a series of events leading to the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, an Emory Presidential Distinguished Professor October 19-22, 2007. Emory University is one of the leading centers of Tibetan philosophy and religious studies in the West and the only stop in the Southern United States for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Many of these events are free and open to the public culminating in a public talk in Centennial Olympic Park on Monday October 22nd.

 

For more information on the various events:

http://dalailama.emory.edu/

http://www.tibet.emory.edu

http://www.drepung.org

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