Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Please make suggestions for our September and October book selections.  Leave suggestions in the comment section and we will vote.  Thanks!

Friday, July 18, 2008

August Meeting

We voted at the July meeting to change our meeting night to the second Thursday of the month.  August's meeting will be on Thursday, August 14th at 6:45.  We will be discussing The Next Thing On My List by Jill Smolinski.  Please leave suggestions for restaurants in the comments section and we will vote.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Because you asked...

Following is an excerpt from this article.  Sound familiar?

Together with Schwartz and Russek, Pearsall conducted a study, published in the Spring 2002 issue of the Journal of Near-Death Studies, entitled, "Changes in Heart Transplant Recipients That Parallel the Personalities of Their Donors." The study consisted of open-ended interviews with 10 heart or heart-lung transplant recipients, their families or friends and the donor's families or friends. The researchers reported striking parallels in each of the cases. The following is a sampling of some these.

In one case, an 18-year-old boy who wrote poetry, played music and composed songs, was killed in an automobile accident. A year after he died his parents came across an audiotape of a song he had written, entitled, "Danny, My Heart is Yours," which was about how he "felt he was destined to die and give his heart to someone." The donor recipient "Danny" of his heart, was an 18-year-old girl, named Danielle. When she met the donor's parents, they played some of his music and she, despite never having heard the song, was able to complete the phrases.

In another case, a seven-month-old boy received a heart from a 16-month-old boy who had drowned. The donor had a mild form of cerebral palsy mostly on the left side. The recipient, who did not display such symptoms prior to the transplant, developed the same stiffness and shaking on the left side.

A 47-year-old Caucasian male received a heart from a 17-year-old African-American male. The recipient was surprised by his new-found love of classical music. What he discovered later was that the donor, who loved classical music and played the violin, had died in a drive-by shooting, clutching his violin case to his chest.

A 29-year-old lesbian and a fast food junkie received a heart from a 19-year-old woman vegetarian who was "man crazy." The recipient reported after her operation that meat made her sick and she was no longer attracted to women. If fact, she became engaged to marry a man.

A 47-year-old man received a heart from a 14-year-old girl gymnast who had problems with eating disorders. After the transplant, the recipient and his family reported his tendency to be nauseated after eating, a childlike exuberance and a little girl's giggle.

Capital Punishment Quiz

1. Approximately how many homicides are committed in the United States annually? (Info from 1995)

60,000         50,000         22,000         3,000

2. In what percentage of homicides is the death penalty sought?

1%         50%         25%         10%

3. Who makes the decision of whether or not to seek the death penalty?

The judge

The grand jury

The district attorney

The death penalty must be sought depending on the nature of the crime.

4. About half of all murder victims are white. What percentage of victims are white in death penalty cases?

80%         74%         50%         30%

5. According to the 1992 study by Radelet & Bedau, in how many cases since 1900 have innocent persons been executed?

None         23         59         300

6. How much does it cost to keep a person in maximum-security prison for one year?

$15,000         $25,000         $50,000         $7,000

7. What percentage of Americans are currently in favor of the death penalty?

30%         50%         77%         90%

8. What percentage of death row inmates cannot afford to pay for their own attorney?

55%         75%         95%         100%

9. How many people are currently on death row in the United States?

178         3700         243,000

10. Which state still uses the electric chair?

Nebraska         Connecticut         Texas

11. Which of these methods of execution are in use in the United States?

Gas Chamber         Firing Squad                  Hanging         All of the above

12. True or False: Since 1973, more than 120 people have been released from death rows throughout the country due to evidence of their wrongful convictions.

13. True or False-The death penalty saves taxpayers money because it is cheaper to execute someone than to keep them in prison for the rest of their life.

14. True or False- Hanging has not been used as a method of execution in the United States for over 30 years.

15. True or False- No woman has been executed in the U.S. for over 25 years.

16. True or False- Those who commit a crime when they are under 18 years of age are ineligible for the death penalty in the U.S.

17. True or False- Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, more black people have been executed than white people.

18. True or False- In most states with the death penalty, you can be executed even if you suffer from mental illness.

19. True or False- There are some states in the U.S. where you cannot receive the death penalty for any crime.

20. True or False- The origins of the game of Hangman are obscure, but it seems to have arisen in Roman times.

Answers are in the comments!

Book club discussion questions for Change of Heart

Discuss the irony of Kurt Nealon telling June that “people are never who you think they are”. (3)

Michael says it is easier to say someone deserves to die for what they did than it is to take the responsibility to make that happen. How do you think you would feel in his position? Have you ever been in that position?

After Shay is brought to I-tier, several “miracles” occur: Smythe’s baby is cured; the water changes to wine; Shay revives the robin; Lucuis’s AIDS is cured; the bubble gum is enough for all of them. Discuss the implications of each “miracle”.

Religions come about because of what people need at the time that they need them. (94) Do you agree or disagree?

What would be the hardest luxury to leave behind? (118)

Michael’s grandfather said “I thought God was supposed to love you unconditionally. Those sure sound like a lot of conditions to me (the requirements of a true believer). (124)” Argue both sides of his statement.
Which character is the most real to us? Which one is easiest to relate to? Why?

Where do you stand on the issue of the death penalty? A vivid description of lethal injection is given on page 131. Has this book changed how you feel?

June’s initial reaction is to refuse to a restorative justice meeting with Shay. How would you feel? What changes her mind?

Consider and address June’s questions on page 184. Would you give up your vengeance against someone you hate if it meant saving someone you loved? Would you want your dreams to come true if it meant granting your enemy’s dying wish?

Why were all the inmates on I-tier energized by Shay’s attempt to die on his own terms? (186)

Dr. Wu says what makes a heart worthy for transplant has nothing to do with the donor’s personality. (200) Do you agree or disagree? By the end of the book, have you changed your mind?

The history of the Gnostic gospels is in Change of Heart. Given what you now know about them, does this change your opinion of the New Testament in any way? If so, why, and if not, why not?

We were introduced to Ian Fletcher in Keeping Faith. Has your opinion of Ian changed? How?

June says that it’s her decision whether or not Claire should accept the heart – not Claire’s. Do you agree?

“I don’t belong to a religion. Religion’s the reason the world’s falling apart—did you see that guy get carted out of here? That’s what religion does. It points a finger. It causes wars. It breaks apart countries. It’s a petri dish for stereotypes to grown in. Religion’s not about being holy,” Shay said. “Just holier-than-thou.”(341) The news offers many examples in today’s world of how religion can be distorted to further violence or narrow-mindedness. Do you think the benefits of organized religion outweigh its potential caveats?

When Shay’s chains fell to the floor, what was your reaction as a reader? Do you believe in miracles?

Discuss the irony of the various names in the novel: Dr. Christian Gallagher, Maggie Bloom, Shay’s foster home of Bethlehem, NH, Joe Lynch, Warden Coyne, Father Michael Wright – and the title, CHANGE OF HEART.

Lucius’s sarcoma comes back after it was “cured”. What is the significance of the timing? Did this change your opinion of Shay’s “power”?

Shay finally tells Michael what really happened to Elizabeth and Kurt Nealon on the night they died. Are you surprised? Do you believe Shay?

Grace tells June “How would you have felt if---when Elizabeth died---someone told you that you can’t have her back, but that part of her could still be somewhere in the world. You may not know that part; you may not ever have contact with it---but you’d know it was out there, alive and well. Would you have wanted that?” Would you?

How does the preparation for Shay’s execution take on a “showtime” quality? The “circus” atmosphere has been around earlier with the media. How are the two situations similar? How are they different?

Several of the characters’ lives have intertwined: Calloway convicted of burning down a synagogue and Maggie’s father taking over as rabbi at Temple Beth (held in the cafeteria because the synagogue had burned down); CO Smythe’s baby was baptized by Father Michael and becomes one of Shay’s miracles; Michael finding his stolen picture of his grandfather and Shay’s involvement; Michael serving on the jury of Shay’s murder trial and then becoming his spiritual advisor. Discuss.

What do you think is meant by the ending of the book?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Don't forget!  Book club meets tomorrow- Monday, July 14th at 6:45 at Wendy's house.  We will be discussing Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult.  Bring your book and an appetizer to share.  Also, bring your calendars so we can discuss our meeting dates for the coming year.  See you tomorrow night!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Joshilyn Jackson blog

Here is the link for Joshilyn Jackson's (writer of Gods in Alabama) real-life blog where she relates how she real-life got arrested.  Be ready to pee in your pants.  Make sure you read parts one, two and three!