Alumni Ink

Breaking Away

The goal of alternative breaks is to develop active citizens who deepen their connection to community and are mobilized to work for positive social change with others throughout their lives. In Working Side by Side: Creating Alternative Breaks as Catalysts for Global Learning, Student Leadership, and Social Change, Melody Porter 95C 01T and coauthors Shoshanna Sumka of American University and Jill Piacitelli, executive director of the national alternative break organization Break Away, provide a guide for student and staff leaders in alternative break programs, offering practical advice, outlining effective program components and practices, and presenting the underlying community engagement and global learning theory. The book advances the field of student-led alternative breaks by identifying the core components of successful programs that develop active citizens. It describes how to address complex social issues, encourage structural analysis of societal inequities, foster volunteer transformation, and identify methods of work in mutually beneficial partnerships.

RIGHT TO BEAR WITNESS: In the wake of the Sandy Hook school massacre in Connecticut, the gun rights movement headed by the National Rifle Association appears more intractable than ever in its fight against gun control laws. The core argument of Second Amendment advocates is that the proliferation of firearms is essential to maintaining freedom in America, providing private citizens with a defense against possible government tyranny and safeguarding all our other rights. In Do Guns Make Us Free? Democracy and the Armed Society, Firmin DeBrabander 02PhD examines claims offered in favor of unchecked gun ownership in an analysis and philosophical examination of every aspect of a contentious, uniquely American debate.

ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: The latest in a series of books by David B. Dillard-Wright 99C 02T, At Ganapati’s Feet: Daily Life with the Elephant-Headed Deity offers a direct path to spiritual illumination through a series of aphorisms the author has gained through meditation on the beloved Hindu deity Ganesha, the elephant-headed “remover of obstacles.” Author Dillard-Wright shows readers how to cultivate self-realization and create positive work spaces and offers practical guides to daily rituals, along with personal vignettes. 

PASTORAL CARING: A spiritual community can be a powerful source of support for its members; in Christian Concepts for Care, authors Mary Runge Jacob 74MSN and David J. Ludwig offer a detailed resource that delivers understanding of mental and emotional disorders and a perspective on their spiritual nature. Jacob and Ludwig also provide explanations of how pastors and congregations can work in positive ways to support members during and after treatment for mental disorders as part of a healing community that includes professional help and spiritual care. As a result, readers can gain a new perspective that gives hope and a practical way to apply faith. 

TIME’S A’WASTING: What if you had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to erase your past mistakes and failures? What would you risk to recover the years you’ve wasted? Jack Player desperately needs a break. Stuck in a dead-end job, with a failed marriage behind him, he’s broke and pushing forty. Facing too many days without meaning, he sees no future for himself—until his best friend suggests a way out, an easy, painless score to turn everything around. What could possibly go wrong? In his second novel, Wasted, author David Darracott 73C tells a suspenseful story that earned praise from judges and the distinction of 2015 Georgia Author of the Year in Detective/Mystery fiction from the Georgia Writers Association. 

MORTALITY TALE: In I Watched You Disappear, author-poet Anya Krugovoy Silver 97G offers meditations on sickness but also celebrations of art, motherhood, and family, as well as a sequence of poems based on the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. Throughout her collection, Silver examines feelings of pain, anger, and urgency caused by a serious illness and presents the struggle to cope in a lyrical and moving way. Never overwhelmed by her own mortality, Silver manages to speak with beauty and grace about a terrifying subject. In her poems based on Grimm’s fairy tales, Silver subtly interweaves retellings of these tales with reflections on life and death. The book, Silver’s second volume of poetry, earned her the 2015 Georgia Author of the Year in Poetry award from the Georgia Writers Association. 

DIVINE INSPIRATION: Drawing on their experiences as women of the church, bound together by a deep commitment to ministry, Deborah E. Lewis 96T, Stacey Simpson Duke 96T, and fifty other female clergy members reveal what it really means to be a woman and faith leader in There’s a Woman in the Pulpit: Christian Clergywomen Share Their Hard Days, Holy Moments & the Healing Power of Humor. Representing fourteen denominations, Lewis and her compatriots share the details of their intimidating balancing act juggling the expectations of perfection from their congregations and the shared human realities of everyday life. Intended for laypeople, women hearing a call to ministry, and clergy of all denominations, these stories and prayers are intended to resonate with, challenge, encourage, and amuse anyone who has a passion for their work and faith. 

STUDENT DOCTOR: What I’ve Learned from You explores relationships and the human condition from the point of view of a physician who longed to find serenity in a world of conflicting ideas and aspirations. Author Scott A. Kelly 92C 00MR based the book on journal entries chronicling life lessons he learned as a young doctor from patients and their families who opened their hearts to him. Now Kelly shares these stories of love and pain, healing and sickness, birth and dying, and all the beautiful things in between.—M.M.L.

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