During our recent spring break at University of the West, I spent the week doing some much-needed recreational reading. To tell you just how far behind I am on that recreational reading, the short stack of books I worked through included the 2010 Pulitzer Prize winner and a collection of writing by Bill Moyers (no, not the new one, but the one from 2004).
The one that I’ll never forget, though — the one that shook me and changed me — was Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.
As a great appreciator of Nick Kristof’s New York Times columns and blog work — I named my own Patheos blog Off the Cushion in a nod to the title of his blog “On the Ground” — I knew I would probably be a great appreciator of the book. What I wasn’t quite prepared for was to finish it so broken-hearted, moved, reflective, and (most of all) incredibly inspired. In addition, I believe it’s one of the two or three most important books I’ve ever read (or will read) in my life.
Needless to say, I started writing a dharma talk based on my experience of reading it almost immediately after finishing it. I delivered the final version of the talk at the Rosemead Buddhist Monastery last week, and recorded it recently for this blog. I hope you’ll listen to it. Most of all, though, I hope you will read the book…and watch the PBS miniseries based on it that’s scheduled for airing this fall (watch the trailer here).
UPDATE: I was really thrilled and touched that my talk got mentioned on the official Facebook page of Half the Sky. Here’s what they said: “After reading Half the Sky, Rev. Danny Fisher was inspired to deliver a dharma talk at the Rosemead Buddhist Monastery based on his experience reading it. Has Half the Sky or the issues it touches upon been discussed at your place of worship?” In addition, the talk got mentioned on the official Twitter streams of both the book and Mr. Kristof himself. Color me humbled!
Here is the talk itself…