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Wine & Words: Authors Bill Hatcher & John Gentry

Meet the Authors @ Wine and Words! Between the Covers Bookstore features two southwestern authors, Bill Hatcher and John Gentry, for a reading and discussion about their personal travel and service experiences in East Africa and how these informed their spiritual growth and respective memoirs: "The Marble Room: How I Lost God and Found Myself in Africa" and "Becoming Ordinary: My Year in the Refugee Camps of Somalia." "The Marble Room" At 27 years of age, Bill Hatcher was at a crossroads. Brought up in an evangelical household in the Bible Belt, he had not seen religion provide any answers to his parents’ broken marriage, or, indeed, his own divorce. The key to salvation would come from a most unlikely source: a flyer calling for Peace Corps Volunteers. A year later, Hatcher finds himself in Tanzania, East Africa. As a geography teacher at an all-girls’ boarding school, he’s expected to broaden his students’ horizons, but instead it is his own worldview that is challenged—by encounters with local tribesmen, dangerous ascents of Mount Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro, and especially a friendship with a Muslim student. Through tragedy and triumph, by questioning the very core of his being, he manages to escape the confines of “the marble room” of his own culture and upbringing. Filled with breathtaking accounts of mountain climbs and the lush beauty of the African landscape, "The Marble Room" is both a tale of adventure and self-discovery—and proof that even the most naïve and insular American can achieve a spiritual awakening. "The trope of mountain climbing as an irresistible call—and the presence of Mount Kilimanjaro as a proving ground—is fit smoothly into [the author's] social and political awakenings. Like Howard Thurman ("With Head and Heart:) and Gretel Ehrlich ("A Match to the Heart"), Hatcher not only illuminates his own life but the life of the reader as well. An intriguing choice for interfaith book discussion." — Francisca Goldsmith, for the American Library Association Bill has led wilderness courses for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Mexico, Kenya, Tanzania, and the western US following two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania. Along the way, he piloted bush planes in Kenya, Alaska, and Utah, and taught college courses that often focused on Africa. He writes for Colorado Central Magazine from his home in rural Colorado, where he lives with his wife and two cats. "Becoming Ordinary" At the age of 40, John Gentry was the classic "self-made man." He had traveled from the projects to the penthouse. However, despite his outward success, John knew he too stood at a crossroads. The call of his soul could no longer be ignored. It seemed his only choice was to turn toward the emptiness he felt inside and to turn away from the safety of the life he had created. There was no going back. Thus began an unimaginable journey to find the true meaning of his life in a most unlikely place—the refugee camps in Somalia, Africa. "Becoming Ordinary" follows him through one year of his journey in Somalia distributing food to refugees as a volunteer with C.A.R.E. John is a retired entrepreneur living atop a mountain outside Durango, Colorado. He lives with his wife, Julie, two Newfoundland dogs and three kitties. He has had a keen lifelong interest in exploring the meaning of existence. After receiving his M.A. in Spiritual Psychology at the University of Santa Monica in 2002, he has continued his exploration through writing, study, and relationships. John still harbors the hope he will one day “crack the code.”

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