St. James' Diversity Book Club
Climate Change and an Undercover Cop:
The Diversity Book Club’s Fall Season
Looking for some unconventional reads for the fall? Grab a cup of warm, mulled cider and curl up with the Fall Season picks of the St. James Diversity Book Club (formerly the Adventure Book Club). The Diversity Book Club is an outreach ministry of the St. James’ Racial Justice and Reconciliation Commission.
Group discussions will be held once a month in the St. James’ Toppie Bates Lakeside Room immediately following the 10:45 a.m. worship services. Light refreshments will be served. The books and dates for the Fall Season are listed below. There is no obligation to participate in both discussions. Join us when you can. Our goal is to enrich your reading experience thorough fellowship and sharing ideas—along with tasty treats.
Oct. 8 at noon: Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
About the Book: Originally published in 1993, Parable of the Sower is a haunting novel set in 2024 about a world besieged by climate change, wealth inequality, corporate greed, gun violence, and an economic crisis that leads to social disorder. The book was re-published in 2019 and became a New York Times Best Seller in 2020.
The novel focuses on a young, Black “hyperempath” named Lauren Oya Olamina, who develops a new belief system she calls Earthseed. Lauren believes Earthseed will prepare humans for their destiny on other planets, and enable them to live in peace. After her family is murdered and her city destroyed by fire, she and a band of followers navigate chaos and racial violence to found the first Earthseed colony.
A new opera based on the novel is currently touring the United States. A story about the opera was published by NPR in July 2023 and can be found on the web at: https://www.npr.org/2023/07/14/1187517744/octavia-butler-wrote-a-parable-that-became-a-prophesy-now-its-also-an-opera .
A New York Times review of the novel, originally published Jan. 2, 1994, is available at this website: https://lithub.com/read-a-classic-review-of-octavia-butlers-parable-of-the-sower/ .
Nov. 19 at noon: Black Klansman: Race, Hate and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime by Ron Stallworth
In 1978, a 25-year-old Black police officer in Colorado Springs responded to a Ku Klux Klan recruitment ad in the classified section of the local newspaper. The officer, Ron Stallworth, wrote to the P.O. Box listed in the ad, posing as a white man. A few weeks later, he received a phone call, asking him to “join our cause.” Stallworth answered yes, launching one of the most incredible investigations of his career. Stallworth teamed up with a white colleague, who impersonated Stallworth when his physical presence was needed. However, Stallworth conducted most of his conversations with local Klan leaders by phone. He even communicated with Grand Wizard David Duke. The book, published in 2018, details Stallworth’s months-long investigation into the local KKK.
The Spike Lee movie, BlacKkKlansman, is based on Stallworth’s memoir. A New York Times’ review of the book can be found here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/31/books/review/black-klansman-ron-stallworth-best-seller.html .
Past Book Discussions & Suggested Reads
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
Discussion: Sunday, April 23 at noon
From the publisher: “Every Thursday morning for two years (1995-97) in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a bold and inspired teacher named Azar Nafisi secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics (in her living room).” Nafisi gives voice to the women’s struggles, as their stories become intertwined with those they were reading.
Born and raised in Iran, the author earned a Ph.D. at the University of Oklahoma during the 1970s. She returned to Iran and taught English at the University of Tehran. In 1981, she was expelled for refusing to wear the mandatory Islamic veil and did not resume teaching until 1987. She left Iran in 1997. From 1997 to 2017, she was a Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, Washington, D.C.
Why this book: The Book Club committee thought reading a memoir about a book club from a different culture would be enlightening. By digging deeper into the women’s stories, readers are apt to find common ground with women whom they have never met.
Meeting ID: 893 0848 3734
Justified by her Children: Deed of Courage Confronting a Tradition of Racism by
Roy G. Pollina
Discussion: Thursday, June 8 at 6:30 pm-Notice new day and time!
From the publisher: The story is about Christ Episcopal Church in Martinsville, Virginia, and begins with the struggles that developed around the bishop’s plan to integrate summer youth camp during the 1950s.
“Amid this controversy, a quiet revolution stirred among that congregation’s young people, uplifted by their youthful, energetic priest, The Reverend Philip Gresham. (The book) is ultimately a story of grace and forgiveness, but not before it wends its way through the trial and execution of the African American “Martinsville Seven,” past the whispers about the sexual orientation of the young, single priest, and a congregation in conflict over letting its white children eat a box supper with black children at a church mission event to benefit hungry brown children.
Justified by Her Children bears witness to the fact that understanding ‘how it was’ can be a precious gift to help us to understand how it is now—at a time when we need that understanding more than ever.”
Why this book: The Book Club committee thought the book would broaden understanding about the roots of racism in the Episcopal Church and offer hope for today in our efforts to understand racial justice from a faith perspective.
Meeting ID: 893 0848 3734
Previous Book Club Discussions
January 2023 – This Band of Sisterhood: Black Women Bishops on Race, Faith, and the Church Edited by Westina
Feb 2023 – The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times by Michelle Obama
March 2023 – Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine