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Books - Fall 2020

“Nurturing Different Dreams: Youth Ministry across Lines of Difference”

—Co-written by Dr. Anne Carter Walker, dean of academic programs and executive director of the Saint Paul School of Theology at OCU (with Katherine Turpin)

Increasingly, adolescents and young adults in the United States are racially and socioeconomically diverse, while the teaching population remains predominantly white and middle class. Youth and college ministries that are historically white struggle to provide adequate support, mentoring, and cultural understanding for students from marginalized communities.

As educators from privileged backgrounds, the writers draw from their experiences in an intentionally culturally diverse youth ministry. Through engaging case studies and vignettes, they re-examine the assumptions about youth agency, vocational development, educational practice, and mentoring.

Offering concrete guidelines and practices for working effectively across lines of difference, “Nurturing Different Dreams” invites readers to consider their own cultural assumptions and practices for mentoring adolescents, and assists readers in analyzing and transforming their practices of mentoring young people who come from different communities than their own.

Recommended: “I have been reading ‘Another Way: Living and Leading Change on Purpose,’ by Stephen Lewis, Matthew Wesley Williams, and Dori Baker. The authors help me to name just how often leadership is shaped by practices that I would describe as colonial. They propose ‘another way’ that values community, seeks discernment, slows us down, and helps us to critically reflect on how our decisions might impact those on the margins. The practices for leadership described by the writers as CARE (Creating Hospitable Space, Asking Self-Awakening Questions, Reflecting Theologically Together, and Enacting the Next Most Faithful Step), prompt me to pay attention to the driving forces behind my decision-making, to consider deeply all those who my decisions might affect, and to trust both myself and the process to generate good, true, nurturing change.”

“The World and the Zoo”

—By English professor Rob Roensch

When a recent grad takes a summer zoo internship, it’s supposed to be a rebel detour before adulthood. But over the summer, the zoo and its humans deliver much more. A story of awakening exploring love, death, biology, and privilege, rich with the genius of squirrels, the grace of otters, the gorillas’ need for quiet, and the bovine dreams of whitetail deer. Funny, meditative, and deeply human, “The World and the Zoo” is a masterful short novel, carving a delicate path full of breathtaking details.

Roensch wrote that he unexpectedly found himself writing about zoos and realized: “We want to experience the authentic presence of nature. … (But) the human desire to know and treasure the world is always frustrated. … We are always looking for something.”

Recommended: “The best book I read this summer was ‘Independent People’ by Nobel Prize-winner Halldor Laxness. It’s an epic novel about life in early 20th century rural Iceland. It’s funny, very beautiful, and very sad, and there’s lots of sheep in it.”

Historical Dictionary of the Arab Uprisings

—Co-written by political science professor and Chair Dr. Mohamed Daadaoui (with Aomar Boum)

The Arab uprisings that swept the Middle East and North Africa in the period from 2011–2012 left an indelible mark on the socio-political landscape of the region. But that mark was not consistent across the region: While some countries underwent dramatic popular social and political changes, others teetered on the brink or were left with the status quo intact. Street revolutions toppled despotic regimes in Tunisia, Libya, and momentarily in Egypt, while mounting serious challenges to authoritarian regimes in Syria and Yemen. Algeria’s entrenched bureaucratic-cum-military authoritarian system proved resilient until the recent events of early 2019 which forced the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika before the end of his term on April 28, 2019. As in Algeria, protesters in Sudan succeeded, after months of demonstrations, in overthrowing the government of Omar al-Bashir. Several Arab monarchies still appear stable and have managed to weather the tempest of the Arab revolutions, albeit not without fissures showing in the edifice of their states, accompanied by some minor constitutional changes. Where Tunisians, Egyptians, Yemenis, Syrians, and Libyans demanded regime changes in their political systems, protesters in the Arab monarchies have called on the kings and emirs to reform their political system from the top down, indicating the sizable monarchical advantage.

“Historical Dictionary of the Arab Uprisings” contains a chronology, an introduction, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has over 500 cross-referenced entries on the terms, persons, and events that shaped the Arab Spring uprisings.

Recommended: “I am reading ‘Leo Africanus’ by Amin Maalouf, a memoir of the eponymous Renaissance era traveler and diplomat. The novel is a fascinating narrative of that era from Leo Africanus’ perspective in which he details the fall of Muslim Andalusia, the Moorish exile to Fez, and later travels to Cairo and Rome. I like the rich description of the traditions and customs of the time, and the geopolitical analysis that Leo offers of the main political protagonists like King Ferdinand of Spain, Sultans Selim I and Suleiman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire, and Popes Leo X, Adrian VI, and Clement VII. It is an important time in the history of Europe and the Middle East that the novel weaves in the story of Leo Africanus.”

“Finding Frances”

—By Kelly Vincent, Red Earth MFA creative writing student

This novel for teens takes an authentic look at the far-reaching impact domestic violence has on its victims, with an average 15-year-old girl embarking on a journey that helps her find strength she never knew she had. Retta Brooks thinks her life is on track after convincing her overprotective mom to stop home-schooling her and allow her to go to Buckley High. She comes home from a night out with friends to find that her whole world has changed, and now she has to figure out who she is, who she can trust, and why her mom lied.

Recommended: “I recently read ‘Hold Still’ by Nina LaCour, a heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting novel about a teen girl’s recovery from her best friend’s suicide. I love the emotional depth of LaCour’s books, and this is probably her best.”

“OKLALUSA: The Story of the Black State Movement in Oklahoma Territory”

—By Eddie Jackson (BA ’65, JD ’96)

From the reddest of the red states comes the untold but true story of men and women with fleecy locks and dark complexions who seek to make Oklahoma Territory a black state. They begin with the black Indians in Indian Territory and reach out to the industrious classes of the five million ex-slaves ensconced in the South. White people are sharply divided among those who fear and those who support the idea. The action is furious, and the issues reach deep into the White House, where a man called the “Bright Jewel of the Negro race” vies to be appointed governor by President Harrison. Oklalusa explains the reasons for the 28 all-black towns and lays the groundwork for Black Wall Street. Here is insight into some of the origins of the race problems that plague the country still.

Recommended: “Currently reading ‘Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow’ by Yuval Noah Harari, which challenges medical, religious, and economic dogma. It provides creditable inspiration for new thought about maintaining youth and reaching for immortality.”

“Luck of the Draw”

—By Jack Daniels, former exercise physiology professor and OCU’s first track and cross country coach

Daniels’ autobiography ranges from his studies and athletics to his roles as husband and father. As he considered his life, he realized luck had led him along his path, including to South Korea with the U.S. Army. There, he learned about the sport of modern pentathalon, which includes cross country horseback riding over 25 obstacles, fencing, pistol shooting, swimming, and running. Daniels went on to win two Olympic medials, a World Championship, and two U.S. National Championships in the sport.

He has worked as an Olympic Games commentator in Canada and a national track coach in Peru, conducted research with Nike, and coached Olympic athletes.

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