Bloch, Karen Lehrman. 2016. Passage to Israel. New York: Skyhorse Publishing. http:library.regent.edurecord=b2675954.
How is it that, year after year, the UN World Happiness Report ranks Israel as one of the world’s happiest nations? Israel – a country with compulsory military service, internal and external enemies bent on its destruction, and three national days of mourning. Readers looking for an answer to this paradox should check out Passage to Israel, a photographic tour through the astonishing varieties of nature, life, creativity, and faith that define Israel.
Divided into four sections – Land, Light, Life, and Soul – Passage to Israel presents the work of 34 of the country’s most gifted photographers with a forward and introduction that communicate the love and enthusiasm that together were the book’s genesis.
In her acknowledgments, the author writes that inspiration came not only from lovers of Israel (Jewish, Christian, and Muslim) but also from the lies and disinformation that form part of the daily output in most of the global media. She also reveals a powerful idea at the book’s heart: “Israel is indeed a mirror to one’s soul. Those who see the beauty, who stand up for the truth, who understand the meaning, will never regret where they stood in this moment of history, when silence is not an option. Am Yisrael Chai”
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him,
and he shall direct thy paths.”
-Proverbs 3:5 (KJV)
One Hundred Pieces of Sun: Diary of a Potted Plant is really three books in one: (1) a social history of the American Deep South and northern Rust Belt in the 1950s and 1960s, (2) an autobiography of C.L. Kennedy’s childhood and youth, and (3) a travelogue through Africa during the 1970-71 academic year. Remarkably, the author weaves these disparate subjects into a unified whole.
Simply put, this is the freshest, most unique memoir I have ever read, charting a trajectory from the author’s childhood in Jim Crow Alabama and a not-exactly-equal-rights northern industrial city, to Sarah Lawrence College, and ending with her junior year abroad at the University of Ghana, followed by travels through most of the continent using only local transportation. (Yes, her mother threw a fit when Kennedy first told her about her plans.)
The marvelous writing is infused Kennedy’s personality – strong, highly opinionated, but always honest and with an eye for the humor in life. Here, for the benefit of prospective readers, are three excerpts to give an idea of the book’s historical and emotional range:
- Traveling by train from Alabama to Ohio in 1956:
“Before the trip North, Brenda [the author’s sister] and I were repeatedly coached, drilled, and cautioned not to say anything to any white person, no matter what they said, did, or called us…We were rehearsed in acceptable docile and self-effacing ways to respond if it became absolutely necessary to engage in eye-contact or communication with a stranger” (p. 19-20).
- Using the public library in Ohio:
“Laws prohibited Blacks from checking out public library books and from entering the front door of the public library. Our parents took us to the library just as they took us to church…They showed us the way to carry and conduct ourselves with integrity, dignity, and pride, and they always reminded us that we were responsible for leaving a legacy, adding something to posterity, and never shaming the race” (p. 81).
- Discovering a possible origin of her ancestors (or at least her own spiritual homeland) through music:
“In Mali, I was introduced to the cora, a bowl-shaped musical instrument that is made either from dried gourds with leather chords extending along an attached long handle or a flat wooden box enhanced with wood or metal picks held in place along the bottom and spaced along the top…Music from Mali featuring the cora soothes my very soul. Much to my surprise, many times I have felt that Mali was my home place, the country of my ancestors” (p. 211).*
The author’s understanding of the violence and injustice blacks (in both Old and New Worlds) have suffered at the hands of whites is never far removed in the text, but Kennedy’s gratitude and enthusiasm for life ensure that her lessons are always delivered with a light touch. Another constant in the book, especially at critical moments, but never sermonized about, is her deep Christian faith instilled by her parents.
Although not a work of fiction, it does not seem inappropriate to call One Hundred Pieces of Sun a Bildungsroman, as it completely convincingly tells the story of the coming-of-age of a highly sensitive and intelligent young woman. Kennedy has written a book that engages with and invites the reader to see the world through her eyes. And that, I think, is one of the best things any book can do for us.
*For a sample of this remarkable music, click here.
A selection of the recent faculty monographs. See our Facebook and Google+ pages for more photos from this event.
On November 15, the Library inaugurated what it hopes will become a long-standing tradition on campus: a special event to honor faculty authors and formally induct their scholarship into the Library collection.
As this was our first time holding such an event, we included works published from January 2014 through May 2016. The numbers are impressive: 33 books or book chapters by 36 authors, as well as scholarly articles by 49 authors. A total of 82 members of the faculty were honored.
In addition to recognizing all the recent faculty authors, our event featured book talks by two of them: Dr. Joseph Bucci from the College of Arts & Sciences gave an overview of his book Redemptive Leadership: Offering Second Chances as a Value-Added Management Practice, and Dr. Diane Chandler, from the School of Divinity presented some of the main themes in her monograph, Christian Spiritual Formation: An Integrated Approach for Personal and Relational Wholeness.
At the end of the book talks, all monograph authors were invited to inscribe the Library’s copies of their works, and article authors received a special bookmark with the title and publication of their work. In April 2017, we will hold our second Spotlight on Faculty Scholarship to honor faculty publication beginning with June 2016.
Photos from this event may be viewed on our Facebook and Google+ pages.
by Sandra Yaegle, Head of Public Services
The Library has just acquired an important new encyclopedia from Rowman & Littlefield. The Encyclopedia of Christian Education contains over 1,200 entries by 400 contributors from 75 countries. The three-volume work covers a vast range of topics, including:
- History spanning the early Church to the present.
- Denominational and institutional profiles.
- Intellectual traditions in Christian education.
- Biblical and theological frameworks, curricula, missions, adolescent and higher education, theological training, and Christian pedagogy.
- Biographies of distinguished Christian educators.
One noteworthy detail is that over nine of the contributors are affiliated with Regent University, either as current faculty, former faculty, or alumni. This work exemplifies the high level of scholarship produced at Regent.
The Encyclopedia of Christian Education is available from the Library in both print and online formats.
Reviewed by Harold Henkel, Associate Librarian
“To love life is to love God. Harder and more blessed than all else is to love this life in one’s
sufferings, in undeserved sufferings.” (from Pierre Bezukhov’s dream in War and Peace)
Something must be in the air. In the past two years, three journalists and scholars have written books with the intention of convincing readers to tackle what are perhaps the three most formidable novels of the nineteenth century: Moby Dick1, Middlemarch2, and War and Peace3. The common thread in this approach to criticism is that reading great works of literature is not an exercise in self-abnegation, but a journey of discovery, and an enjoyable one at that.
The most recent of these worthy efforts is Give War and Peace a Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom for Troubled Times, by Andrew Kaufman. Kaufman is Lecturer in Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Virginia. In 2009, he served as a sort of “scholar in residence” for Regent’s Big Read, conducting workshops and delivering the culminating lecture of the Library’s Tolstoy festival.
Give War and Peace a Chance comes three years after Kaufman’s scholarly monograph Understanding Tolstoy and is the fruit of the author’s desire to reach a wider readership. The book is quite a hybrid work, weaving elements of biography, critical analysis, philosophy, and memoir. In twelve chapters, Kaufman takes us on an excursion through the fundamental elements that form our lives, such as happiness, love, family, and death. He explains how these themes operated in Tolstoy’s life and how he gave expression to them in War and Peace.
Along the way, Kaufman also shares episodes from his own life to illustrate how works like War and Peace help us make sense of lives. Some readers might object to the author including his personal story into a book on Tolstoy, but for my part, Kaufman’s accounts of falling in love as a student with Natasha Rostova, or his grief as an adult at the death of a beloved kitten, illustrate the dual refraction that takes place when we read literature. Our temperament and past experiences combine to form our interpretation of a work, but books like War and Peace ultimately change us by enhancing our understanding of ourselves and compassion for others.
At the end of the introduction, Kaufman quotes Tolstoy’s explanation, written during the composition of War and Peace, of his philosophy of art: “The goal of the artist is not to solve a question irrefutably, but to force people to love life in all its countless, inexhaustible manifestations.” These words also appear movingly in Kaufman’s dedication of the book to his wife and son and encapsulate what he considers to be the ultimate reward awaiting readers who give War and Peace a chance.
1Nathaniel Philbrick, Why Read Moby-Dick? (New York: Penguin, 2013).
2Rebecca Mead, My Life in Middlemarch (New York: Crown, 2014).
3Andrew D. Kaufman, Give War and Peace a Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom for Troubled Times (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014).