Sunday, January 31, 2010

Going to Afghanistan

Let's travel to Afghanistan! We'll be reading another memoir written by Malalai Joya called A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice. We'll be meeting in the Haight/Ashbury neighborhood on Sunday February 28, 2010.

Here's a book summary:
One of the few women, and the youngest, to win a seat in Afghanistan's Parliament, Joya recounts in strong, uncompromising language her march to activism, from her humble origins to recognizing a burning need to bring the corrupted leaders to justice in her war-torn country. Native to the western Afghan province of Ziken, and later Farah City, Joya—a name she had to adopt in order to protect her family—grew up mostly in desperate, unsafe refugee camps in Pakistan after the Russians invaded Afghanistan in 1978. 
With only a high school education (and one wonders how she wrote this book in English), she nonetheless became a teacher in the camps, then worked to organize underground classes for girls in Herat in defiance of Taliban edicts.

Her activism grew, supporting orphanages and war victims after the Taliban fled and the U.S. began air strikes and became an armed presence; Joya is adamant in underscoring the responsibility America holds in reinstalling to power the same warlords (commanders she names in the Northern Alliance) who once tore the country apart during the civil war of the 1990s. Having won election to Parliament in 2005 at age 27—Eva Mulvad's film Enemies of Happiness documented her election—Joya was outspoken in condemning these warlords she called criminals and antiwomen, enduring the shutting off of her microphone, assassination threats and, finally, suspension from Parliament.
Note: Get 15% discount for your book choice by saying you're a WOW book club member at BookSmith - support your local independent bookstore.

Books to read in the future:
March - Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristoff
April - Spirit catches you by Anna Fadiman
Join our Facebook Group: Women of the World (WOW) Book Club

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lessons of Faith for Reflection

An insightful discussion starting in 2010 on learning from Anne Lamott's journey with faith and realizing how little we talk about faith and spirituality. Lamott's genuine thoughts on faith and her sharing of her life stories made her messages and experiences accessible to many of us. 

It was great to see how Lamott went through her own process to find faith or to use faith in key moments of her life... such as deciding whether to let her son paraglide on his birthday at 5, or what to do when a man starts beating up his dog in front of her son. 

Lamott is secured in telling us her flaws and her mistakes and how she feels without shame or judgment. We learn about her lows and ups and at the end of the day, it can be better to look at a bright side and find a learning experience in each moment. A favorite one that we learned on page 107: "when a lot of things start going wrong all at once, it is to protect something big and lovely that is trying to get itself born - and that this something needs for you to be distracted so that it can be born as perfectly as possible."