May 2009


The Life and Miracles of Saint Maurus: Disciple of Benedict, Apostle to France

by John Wickstrom, Professor of History St. Benedict, the recognized founder of western monasticism, established his first small monasteries near Rome in the first half of the sixth century. As his fame spread, noblemen from Rome brought their sons to Benedict to be trained in the monastic life. Among these was Maurus, who, after Benedict and his sister Scholastica, became arguably the most revered Benedictine saint of the medieval centuries, and whose renown extended into modern times. Benedict was made famous by Pope Gregory I in his Life of Benedict, written in Rome toward the end of the sixth century. Maurus was the first of Benedict's disciples to be named in Gregory's Life, and served there to illustrate by example rather than abstract principles the monastic virtues which Benedict inculcated. As the Benedictine Rule spread across the Carolingian Empire in the ninth century, Maurus reappeared as the apostle of Benedictine monasticism north of the Alps. The Abbey of Glanfeuil in the Loire river valley southwest of Paris claimed him as its founder. Two works from Abbott Odo of Glanfeuil, The Life of Maurus and A Little Book of Miracles, extended devotion to Maurus throughout France, and beyond. In The Life and Miracles of Saint Maurus: Disciple of Benedict, Apostle to France, John Wickstrom introduces in their historical context and translates these two works about Blessed Maurus who served medieval monks as the tradition-bearer of their holy founder.
Challenges of Equality: Judaism, State, and Education in Nineteenth-Century France

by Jeffrey Haus, Associate Professor of History and Religion Historians have typically characterized nineteenth-century French Jewry as largely eager to assimilate, or, at the very least, passively accommodating to assimilation, with only the most traditional Jews rejecting the trappings of French culture. Through the lens of Jewish primary and rabbinical education, author Jeffrey Haus shows that even integrated French Jews sought to set limits on assimilation and struggled to preserve a sense of Jewish distinctiveness in France. Challenges of Equality: Judaism, State, and Education in Nineteenth-Century France (Wayne State University Press, 2009) argues that Jewish leaders couched their views in terms that the government could understand and accept, portraying a Judaism consistent with the goal of cultural and political unification of the French nation. At the same time, their educational activities asserted the existence of distinctively Jewish cultural space. Haus shows how French government officials repeatedly used political and financial pressure to advance their own vision of an integrated French Judaism. In response, Jewish leaders focused on the concepts of "utility" and "equality" to erect and manage the boundaries between their institutions and the state, as these were key elements of governmental policy toward religious and educational establishments. Haus examines these issues by comparing the financial and curricular histories of Jewish primary schools run by the Consistory and the central French rabbinical school. Utilizing a variety of sources--including school curricula, rabbinical ordination examinations, government documents and correspondence, state jurisprudential decisions, and the French Jewish press--Challenges of Equality paints a picture of a resilient and persistent French Judaism that adapted, integrated, but nevertheless survived. Jeff Haus is assistant professor of history and religion and director of Jewish studies at Kalamazoo College.
Akiko and the Missing Misp

by Mark Crilley, Class of 1988 Akiko never knows when her next adventure will zoom her away to another galaxy. In Akiko and the Missing Misp (Random House, 2008), she's visited by the Akiko replacement robot in the middle of the first annual Middleton Mega MangaFest. But she's more than eager to visit her friends on planet Smoo. When she lands on Smoo, however, it's different. And so are her friends. King Froptoppit's castle is smaller, no one has any idea who she is, and Mr. Beeba has--no way!--a full head of hair. Akiko got to planet Smoo all right--but it's planet Smoo 25 years ago. And now that Akiko is part of Smoovian history, she might just change it. For the worse! As she has been in the previous eight books in Crilley's illustrated series, Akiko is one spunky girl on one spaced-out adventure. Crilley was raised in Detroit and spent nearly five years teaching English in Japan after graduating from Kalamazoo. It was during his stay in Japan that he created Akiko, who, he says, is a cross between Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, but with a common Japanese name. Although his books appeal to young adults, both males and females, Crilley says adults also number among his readers. Visit Mark at Check out the entire Akiko series online.
Righteous Porkchop

by Nicolette Hahn, Class of 1989 Part narrative, part memoir, Righteous Porkchop (HarperCollins, 2008) blows the lid off the shocking practices in the pork, meat, and poultry industries by following the experiences of an intrepid environmental lawyer who goes up against the "factory" farming establishment. It's the story of Nicolette Hahn Niman's search for--and ultimate discovery of--a way for America to produce meat that is healthful, environmentally sound, and humane. Niman takes the reader through her battles with the industrial farming conglomerates, winning class action lawsuits against big business and showing again and again that the meat industry's problems are surmountable, both for the individual and society. Along the way, her quest leads to an unlikely pairing, as the vegetarian attorney falls for California cattle rancher and high-profile traditional farmer, Bill Niman, who is equally passionate about sustainable food. From a health standpoint, Niman discuss how to ensure that you and your family are avoiding meat, poultry, and eggs tainted by chemicals and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. From a food standpoint, she'll show how people can reclaim the pleasures of good eating--by seeking out meat from traditionally farmed livestock. Nicolette Hahn Niman is an environmental activist, former attorney with Bobby Kennedy's Waterkeeper Alliance, and former Kalamazoo City Commissioner. She is married to Bill Niman, the founder of the famed BN Ranch, a collective of traditional farms, and lives in the San Francisco area.
Up the Rouge!

by Joel Thurtell, Class of 1967 There is no river quite like Detroit's Rouge River. Named by French explorers, the Rouge's moniker was borrowed by Henry Ford for his huge automobile factory near the river's mouth. The river is also home to two steel mills; cement, gypsum, and salt operations; and the largest single-unit wastewater treatment plant in the country. Although the Rouge is too polluted for public recreation and, in places, too log-jammed for a motorboat, former Detroit Free Press reporter Joel Thurtell and photographer Patricia Beck decided to travel up the Rouge by canoe to explore not only the river's industrial side but also its beautiful and hidden urban wilderness. Up the Rouge! is the surprising and educational account of their journey. Thurtell and Beck paddled their canoe through heavily polluted sections of the Rouge, much of which has been purposely made inaccessible to the public. They show that despite its environmental contamination, the Rouge is home to wildlife and that its very seclusion makes it a sanctuary. During the trek, Thurtell saw animals such as green and blue herons, snapping turtles, musk turtles, mallards, feral dogs, and the first adult female common mergansers ever recorded in summertime in Wayne County. Maps are included to help readers track their journey. Anyone interested in environmental issues or conservation of Michigan's waterways will appreciate this unique and attractive volume. Learn more about the Rouge River and Joel Thurtell at and
Check-Raising the Devil

by Tim Lavalli, Class of 69, Amy Calistri and Mike Matusow In a profession that requires concentration, patience and focus, renowned professional poker player Mike "The Mouth" Matusow has risen to the top despite having bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Covering his "poker" life chronicles the struggle to both discover and then treat his psychological issues while attempting to participate in a lifestyle that would seem completely impossible for someone struggling with these problems. Mike's story involves the highs of the Las Vegas lifestyle and the lows of crushing depression. Like so many undiagnosed bipolar patients he self medicated with street drugs. Eventually that path led him to jail and then to psychiatric support. Author (and alum) Lavalli earned a Ph.D. in psychology in 1999 and has been studying and writing about poker for the past five years. His work on poker can be found in several columns and his blog Poker Shrink.

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