Previous Special Events

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Jesus was a perceptive teacher and skilled storyteller who taught in parables, short stories using everyday images to speak about the Kingdom of Heaven. But life in first-century Galilee and Judea was very different from our world today.

As renowned New Testament scholar Amy-Jill Levine notes in her book, Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi, many traditional interpretations of his teachings not only ignore the disparity but also import anti-Jewish and sexist views.

Levine, the University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University, shows how hearing the parables in their Jewish context allows us to recover their original provocation and thus recognize what they might say to 21st-century listeners.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Kansas native Antonya Nelson stands out on multiple literary fronts; she is the author of four novels and seven short story collections and has published her work in The New Yorker, Esquire, Harper’s, Redbook, and other magazines. She is the recipient of a USA Artists Award, a Rea Award for the Short Story, and National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim fellowships.

Nelson, who teaches at Warren Wilson College and the University of Houston, discusses her works with Angela Elam, the producer and host of KCUR-FM’s New Letters on the Air. The conversation will be taped for later broadcast on New Letters.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The words are iconic, part of a sonnet written by Emma Lazarus in 1883 and inscribed on a bronze plaque in the museum inside the base of the Statue of Liberty: Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. They underscore America’s melting pot identity.

Throughout its history, however, the country has had a love-hate relationship with immigration, and the subject seems particularly thorny today.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

In 1926, Sinclair Lewis, America’s premier contemporary novelist, came to Kansas City to do research for his “preacher novel” – the book that became the acclaimed Elmer Gantry. For background information on this sensational piece of fiction, where did the author of Main Street and Babbitt go? To whom did he talk? And what did the eventual Nobel laureate learn from the city’s leading clergy that contributed to his controversial views of Midwest Protestantism?

MidAmerica Nazarene University’s Tyler Blake tells how Kansas City, its churches, and a circle of fascinating individuals — free thinkers and fundamentalists — became the subjects of study in Lewis’ “laboratory.”

Friday, October 16, 2015
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Calling all young Chiefs football fans and fans-to-be!

Join the Library and mascot KC Wolf in celebrating the release of the new picture book Kansas City Chiefs ABCs and 1-2-3s, illustrated by Kansan Rob Peters. Listen to football stories, play games, and have your picture taken with the Wolf. Appropriate for all ages.

Thursday, October 15, 2015
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

As our 27th president from 1909-1913 and then as chief justice of the Supreme Court from 1921-1930, William Howard Taft was the only man ever to head two of America’s three governing branches. But between these two well-documented periods in office lies an eight-year patch of largely unexplored political wilderness — a time when Taft somehow rose from ignominious defeat in the 1912 presidential election to leadership of the nation’s highest court.

Monmouth College historian Lewis L. Gould delivers the first in-depth look at this interval in Taft’s singular career in a discussion of his book Chief Executive to Chief Justice: Taft Betwixt the White House and Supreme Court.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Internationally recognized Kansas City artist Peregrine Honig fixes her creative gaze on Lewis Carroll’s classic work of children’s literature, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and curates an exhibit that invites viewers to experience a sense of psychedelic discovery and bewilderment akin to Alice’s dreams and conflicts while wandering the Wonderlandscape. Honig has assembled an acclaimed collective of award- winning artists and fashion designers for her exhibit Intimate Riot.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Among the swarms of visitors to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge each year are, tragically, hundreds of troubled souls intent on committing suicide. Many who didn’t follow through have Kevin Briggs to thank.

The former highway patrol officer and sergeant has talked scores of people back to safety along the 220-foot-high span, drawing from his own personal struggles — a bout with cancer, multiple heart operations, divorce, and depression — to strike the right tone of empathy while using an instinct for improvisation. In two decades of work on the iconic bridge, he lost only two would-be jumpers.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

2015 commemorates not only the 125th anniversary of the birth of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, but also the U.S. Census Bureau’s declaration that the American frontier had closed. As historian Tim Rives explains, these two events are not unrelated.

Like other progressives of his generation, Eisenhower saw the extinction of the frontier as the end of the first phase of American history, and the beginning of a new age in which the federal government would replace the lost reservoir of free land and abundant resources with economic cooperation and individual security through social programs. More than any other single factor, Eisenhower’s interpretation of the vanished frontier is what distinguishes his “Middle Way” political philosophy from the conservative wing of the Republican Party he led through two terms as a president.

Tim Rives is the deputy director and supervisory archivist of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home in Abilene, Kansas.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Kansas City’s Green Duck Tavern, at 26th Street and Prospect Avenue, was once an unassuming seat of power, owned by politician and civil rights activist Leon Jordan and a place for him and other leaders of the political organization Freedom, Inc., to map out strategy. A recent addition to the Kansas City Register of Historic Places, it also is where Jordan was gunned down gangland-style one early morning in 1970.

Joelouis Mattox, who serves as historian for the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, discusses the Green Duck and other notable places in KC with … um, checkered reputations. Also among them: the Castle Theater at 12th and Paseo; the Rhythm Lanes Skating Rink, Ray’s Golden Lounge, and Inferno Lounge on Troost; the Carver Theater and the Linwood Theater, both on Prospect; and Party House and the Log Cabin Lounge, both on 31st.

Kansas City Public Library Beta