Archives for category: Religion

kell_9781101883075_are_all_r1.inddThe All Good Books discussion group will meet on Thursday, August 16, 2018 at 7 PM in the Community of Christ Church Library to discuss Lilac Girls: A Novel by Martha Hall Kelly (Random House Publishing Group). The church is located at 7842 Mission Road in Prairie Village, Kansas.

The following 15 discussion questions are suggested by the publisher, plus we’ve added a few more at the end of the list.

  1. In what ways do you think the alternating points of view help to enrich the narrative? Was there ever a time you when you wished there was only one narrator? Why or why not?
  2. The primary settings of this novel are starkly different—Caroline’s glamorous New York world of benefits and cultural events, and the bleak reality of life in a concentration camp. In what ways did the contrast between these two settings affect your reading experience?
  3. Caroline’s relationship with Paul is complicated, taboo even. Was there ever a time when you didn’t agree with a choice Caroline makes with regards to Paul? When and why?
  4. As Caroline becomes more and more invested in her work with the French Families Fund, and eventually with the Rabbits, did you feel that she changes in any way? If so, how were those changes apparent through her interactions with others?
  5. Throughout their time in Ravensbrück, Kasia and the other prisoners find subtle, and not so subtle, ways to demonstrate their resistance. Discuss the variety of actions they take. Which of them did you find to be most powerful? Most moving? Most effective?
  6. When Kasia learns that they were hunting Rabbits, she thinks, “Just don’t feel anything. If you are to live, you cannot feel.” Do you agree with this statement? What do you think it says about the nature of survival? Is it relevant to any other characters in the book, not just the prisoners?
  7. Did you find Herta to be a sympathetic character? Why or why not?
  8. When Vilmer Hartman comes to visit Ravensbrück, he shows concern for Herta’s mental state. What do you think this reveals about her character? Had you previously thought about any of the points he makes?
  9. Though the Nazis made sure the German people only got their news from one media point of view, Herta’s father continues to read as many newspapers as he can. How does this relate to media usage today?
  10. Did you feel that Halina’s ring is an important symbol in the book? How does Herta feel about the ring? Why does she keep it?
  11. Throughout the novel, in and out of Ravensbrück, the characters experience harrowing, difficult situations. Is there one that you found more memorable than the others? Why do you think the author chose to include it?
  12. If you had to come up with a single message or lesson to represent each of the main characters’ experiences—Caroline’s, Kasia’s, and Herta’s—what would it be and why?
  13. Many of the themes explored in Lilac Girls—human rights, political resistance, survival—are a direct result of the historical World War II setting. How are those themes relevant to current events today?
  14. Lilac Girls also touches on a number of interpersonal themes, including female friendship, mother-daughter relationships, love, infidelity, mental health, and more. How do these themes impact the characters’ lives?
  15. What do you think the author hoped her readers would take away from this reading experience?
  16. What event in the novel affected you the most? Why?
  17. Parts of the novel are very difficult to read because of the events that demonstrate the inhumanity and abusiveness of the Nazis. Why did you keep reading?
  18. How do Kasia and Zuzanna (the sisters) change from the beginning of the novel to the end? Do their personalities and their relationships to each other change?
  19. There are several sayings interspersed throughout the novel. Some are quotes and others are aphorisms. Did you underline or remember any specific ones?
  20. An Automat is mentioned several times in the novel. What is it? Did you have to look it up? Are there parallels between the Automat and today’s restaurants?
  21. Why do you think the novel is called “Lilac Girls?”

kell_9781101883075_are_all_r1.inddThe All Good Books discussion group will meet on Thursday, August 16, 2018 at 7 PM to discuss “Lilac Girls” by Martha Hall Kelly. Discussion questions will be posted soon.

Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this debut novel reveals a story of love, redemption, and secrets that were hidden for decades.”

The book club meets at the Mission Road Congregation of the Community of Christ, 7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS. Come and join the discussion.

The All Good Books group will meet tonight (Thursday, November 9, 2017) to discuss both “The Westing Game” by Ellen Raskin and “The Obsession” by Nora Roberts. We’ll meet in the Church Library at the Community of Christ Mission Road Congregation (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS) at 7:00 PM. Everyone is welcome!

Possible discussion questions for “The Westing Game” are posted online at https://allbooksclub.wordpress.com/2017/10/18/the-westing-game-discussion-questions/
Possible discussion questions for “The Obsession” are listed below:
  1. At the age of almost 12 years old, could you have done what Naomi did?
  2. Wayne, the Sheriff’s Deputy, gives Naomi some juicy fruit gum (page 18) “And she would always, from that morning on, associate the gum with simple kindness.” Is there a smell or product that reassures you or brings to mind an event in your life, either pleasant or unpleasant?
  3. What’s your impression of Naomi’s Mom, Susan? Are you sympathetic or disgusted by her reactions to her husband’s crime (page 26)? Do you understand her reactions or are they incomprehensible?
  4. On page 140, Naomi says to Xander, “People don’t always know people close to them the way they think they do.” Do you believe the family of a criminal, like Thomas David Bowes, can truly be unaware of his crimes? Do you believe his wife, friends and fellow church members were unaware?
  5. There often seems to be, in popular literature and film, a character who is deeply, radically religious and has a dark, secret life that is anything but “Christian.” Do you believe that characterization is fair? Or realistic? Or possible?
  6. Do you believe a “killer gene” exists? Are some people wired from birth to be cruel, sadistic and/or murderers?
  7. There seems to be a theme throughout the novel, that people (society) never consider or are sympathetic to the plight of a criminal’s family. Is that accurate or justified? Have you ever considered the criminal’s family and if so, in what light?
  8. On page 52, the author describes Naomi this way: “She loved movies, and truth be told she liked movies like Spider-Man and The Lord of the Rings more than the love stories her girlfriends sighed over. She liked movies where people had to do something, overcome something. Even if it meant getting bitten by a radioactive spider to do and overcome.” What kind of movies do you enjoy and seek out?
  9. On page 54-57, Mason and Naomi are discussing their father. How would you describe Thomas David Bowes?
  10. On page 58, the author states, “Living with Susan was like carrying around something delicate. You watched every step so you didn’t stumble, drop the delicate so it shattered.” Have you ever met someone like that? Why do you think Susan was so “fragile?”
  11. When talking about Susan’s secret visits to her husband in jail, Harry ( in conversation with Naomi) says “We’re going to stop lying to each other. I knew your mother was lying about going to the prison, about keeping in contact. I knew, and I kept it from Seth. I didn’t tell him because it would upset him. And that’s a lie. Omission is a lie.” Do you believe honesty is the best policy, always? Is an omission a lie?
  12. On page 79, a quote from Robert Frost states “Ends and beginnings—there are no such things. There are only middles.” What does that mean?
  13. On page 233, is a quote by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe: “Where there is a great deal of light, the shadows are deeper.” What does that mean?
  14. Naomi states on page 240, “I’d say the person in the original image knows what’s true and what’s manipulated. That’s the thing about words and images. Once the words are on the page, the image printed, it becomes what’s true.” What does that mean? Do you agree?
  15. Was there a time during your reading of “The Obsession” that you considered various characters as Naomi’s stalker and the murder/rapist? Xander? Mason? Kevin? Sam Winston, the local Sheriff? John James Mooney (realtor) Anyone else?
  16. What was your favorite part of the book? Did you view it as a thriller? A romance novel? A murder mystery? Something else?
  17. There’s a great deal of focus in the novel on Naomi fixing up the old house. Any thoughts on the inclusion of so much remodeling and refinishing in the novel?
  18. Were you surprised by the ending of the novel? Was it satisfying? Too abrupt? Unexpected? Predictable?
  19. What is “The Obsession” of the novel’s title?
The Pulse of Hope by Dr. William A. Reed

The Pulse of Hope by Dr. William A. Reed

Just a reminder: Dr. William A. Reed with be present at the next All Good Books discussion group meeting this Thursday, May 14, 2015 at the Community of Christ church (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS) at 7 PM. We will meet in the Church Library.

Dr. Reed is the author of “The Pulse of Hope: A Surgeon’s Memoirs from Poverty to Prosperity.” Dr. Reed was a pioneer in the early days of open-heart surgery at KU Medical Center then later moved to St. Luke’s Hospital where he performed the first heart transplant at that hospital while serving as Director of Thoracic Surgery. Still later he returned to KU Med to re-establish what has become the largest heart program in this part of the country. The autobiography answers the question “How did a scrawny kid from an indigent, welfare-dependent Midwestern family become one of America’s first successful heart surgeons?”

Along the way the reader meets a passionate horseman, philanthropist, husband, father and poet. The final chapters in the book also speak to issues of faith, doubt, fear and leadership. You have the opportunity to hear him speak and ask questions on Thursday evening.  We hope you can join us.

In preparation for the meeting, here are some questions that might stimulate your reflection on the book (and if you haven’t read the book, come anyway)!

  1. On page 25 of Dr. Reed’s autobiography, he mentions Hudson’s Secret Journal. Have you read the book? Either way, do you agree with your understanding of its philosophy?
  2. On page 40 Dr. Reed discusses his wife’s childhood, her parent’s (Asay and Pauline) expectations, and their approach to parenting. How does their parenting compare to your own experiences as a child or young adult?
  3. What does the phrase “damned by faint praise” mean? Have you heard that phrase before or experienced that kind of praise?
  4. On page 59, Dr. Reed talks about “the silent treatment.” Have you experienced the silent treatment from someone in your life or used it as a tool in a disagreement? What were the results?
  5. An incident recorded on page 65, describes how Dr. Reed challenges the head of the cardiovascular department at KUMC to not “close” after heart surgery but to redo a stitch so a 6-year-old girl’s heart would not develop scarring. If your career depended on contradicting or correcting a superior, could you do it?
  6. Of all the surgical stories in the autobiography, which is your favorite? Which did you find most emotional or heart-rending? Which did you find most inspirational?
  7. Who do you think was the VIP patient mentioned on page 81?
  8. Reed places a great deal of emphasis on “good mentoring” (pages 112, 114). Have you ever experienced a “good mentor” as described by the Doctor?
  9. The concept of a “unique calling” for medicine is discussed on pages 114-115. Do you believe that any of the five “opportunities” listed on page 114 apply to other fields of endeavor?
  10. On page 116 in a discussion of mentoring, Dr. Reed talks about seeing people at their most vulnerable time. Do you see any parallels to your career or avocation?
  11. On page 122, Dr. Reed discusses “the secret of success is constancy of purpose” (Benjamin Disraeli). What is your reaction to his message on career choice? Does it apply to you?
  12. Reed explains that a good racehorse must excel while “mud and dirt and sand” are being thrown in the horse’s face (page 130). Is there a parallel in human endeavor?
  13. Is there a section or chapter of the autobiography that you found more interesting than the rest? Such as Dr. Reed’s childhood, “The Right Girl,” his ground-breaking surgeries, the chapter on mentoring, “Servant Leader,” or “Poet and Philosopher?”
  14. The author talks about the difference between horses that have an attitude and those that are mean (page 150). Do you think the same applies to pets? To humans?
  15. What does the author (page 150) mean by “no trainer ever commits suicide with an unraced two-year-old in his barn?”
  16. On pages 186-189, Dr. Reed explains his approach to leadership. Do you support his view? Do you see inherent problems with servant leadership? Have you ever worked for anyone who subscribed to this leadership style?
  17. What do you think is meant (page 213) by “optimism is a life skill that can be honed with practice.”
  18. On page 216, Dr. Reed says, “Every man dies alone with his God.” What does that sentiment mean to you?
  19. Do you understand the doubts and questions expressed on pages 216-218? Do you believe that faith can grow through doubt?
  20. Do you have answers for the questions posed in Dr. Reed’s poem on page 219?
  21. In the final chapter, “Poet and Philosopher,” the author becomes very philosophical and poetic as he discusses life span, living in harmony with your values, faith and pain, and the search for meaning and hope. What are your thoughts on the final chapter?