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Walking With Sobonfu book

Books we’re reading

Walking With Sobonfu bookThis time of year, I love a good book. I’m currently reading a book about a beloved ancestor — Walking with Sobonfu by Susan Hough. It’s an intimate read about Susan’s journey as student and friend of Sobonfu Somé, one of my teachers and a former SOIL instructor and grief ritual facilitator. Susan shares fun and interesting stories about her time journeying with Sobonfu as well as lots of information about very useful and accessible rituals I can engage in daily. I recommend it to anyone who wants to reclaim their authenticity and deepen their sense of community.

I asked around the village to see what other villagers are reading. Deborah Clark recommended Helen Zuman’s book Mating in Captivity, A Memoir. It’s about her experiences in the Zendik Farm cult, which she didn’t know was a cult until she was in it for a while and discovered that her autonomy and self-worth were being eroded by the cult leaders. You might call it a cautionary tale of someone who was very interested in community life and looking for love, but found a distorted version with the Zendiks.

Deborah reports “I’ve actually read the book twice, and it’s really well written — she conveys what happened and her process with a satisfying balance of juicy description and economy: never a wasted word. Somehow she clearly speaks her truth while maintaining some objectivity, portraying the cult leaders as humans and not monsters. It was particularly interesting to me because I had read about the Zendiks and was curious about their ‘community,’ and also knew someone else who had gotten out (he was there at the same time Helen was). It was especially juicy the second time I read it, because by then I had gotten to know Helen as a dear friend, but I think the book would be of interest to anyone who is interested in the topics of community, cults, and personal transformation.”

Spoiler alert: Helen survived the cult, did some good healing and processing, or as she would say “composting” of her experiences, and went on to be a successful writer, activist, and entrepreneur, and now has a regular podcast called Chocolate Church.

Shame book coverBruce Johnston is reading a book called Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country by Shelby Steele.

Bruce reports “The book is about how America’s ‘culture wars’ began in the 1960s, when America finally became accountable for its treatment of Black Americans, and then for imperialism, sexism, and so forth. The book argues a schism in American life has come from that awareness and the loss of moral authority that white America experienced as a consequence of that awareness. The book contends that this cultural war has prevented sensible policy in many areas of life and has generated an avoidance of principled discussion around sensitive topics like race and gender, mostly because American institutions still feel that they lack the moral authority to do so. I recommend it because it is a point of view on these topics that I rarely hear: unconventional, delightfully practical, humanistic, and relatively free of ideology.”

And our elder Arjuna da Silva is reading a book that’s 50 years old, but not yet known — The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes. She says that it’s a radical and amazing investigation of the more likely evolution of human thought and consciousness based on ancient texts that have apparently rarely been seen in these lights. She recommends it for people interested in evolution, consciousness, or healing.

What are you reading? If there’s a book you’d like to share, please share it in the comments.

Arjuna da Silva, NikiAnne, Sobonfu Somé

NikiAnne Feinberg

NikiAnne (she/her) was born and raised on a horse and cattle ranch on the ancestral lands of the Salinan people in the Central Coast of California. She currently lives at Earthaven Ecovillage on unceded lands of the Catawba and Cherokee (Tsalagi) people. Her ancestors come from Eastern and Western Europe — France, Germany, and English Isles as well as Belarus, Lithuania, and Russia, from Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. Throughout the last two decades, NikiAnne has been immersed in community and in service to a wide range of educational endeavors focused on nature connection, personal empowerment, and community resilience. NikiAnne considers herself the grease and glue – that which helps things run smoothly or holds things together. Before co-founding SOIL in 2012, she worked and traveled through much of Asia, the Americas, and Europe, which made her formal education at George Washington University in International Affairs come alive in ways that can only happen through personal experience and relationships. Collectively, these experiences have undeniably shaped her cooperative cultural values and commitment to supporting leaders to think, feel, act and design from a foundation rooted in interrelationship. No matter what she’s teaching, NikiAnne is always on the same mission: to raise awareness of our whole selves – gifts, passions, blind spots, shadows – and help those whole selves find and fill niches in their communities. This is how the web of life is woven, and the fabric of culture repaired. She’s especially eager to support those in transition – between vocations, stages of life, and stories of world and self. Within this context, she is particularly passionate about community grief tending and death care midwifery.

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