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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Writer looks at pivotal times in Church

What with Christmas coming up, it seems only appropriate to talk about religion. To be specific, Catholicism. And to be absolutely precise, a book titled “Key Moments in Church History” (Rowman & Littlefield, 195 pages, $17.95 paper) by Mitch Finley. Finley, as some of you may recall, used to run the literary readings at Auntie’s Bookstore. He quit that job to take a position as staff writer for the Inland Register, the official news magazine of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane.

Which means that he knows a bit about the church. He’s proven that amply enough by having written more than 30 other books on various aspects of Catholicism, as it exists both now and in the past.

“To read history is to investigate the past,” Finley wrote in the introduction to this latest book. And while it would take a religious scholar to tell just how accurate Finley is in his rendering of church history, this much at least is true: He doesn’t absolve the church of its sins.

Take this excerpt from his chapter on the Protestant Reformation: “It is a fact that the Church of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries was corrupt, and it was corrupt from the top down. It is also a fact that if Rome had lent a more sympathetic ear to the legitimate concerns of Martin Luther and his followers, the Protestant Reformation might never have happened.”

Finley gives us just what so many of us are hungry for in this era of religious wrangling: a voice of reason.

Culture and nature

And now for something more secular: The University of Washington Press has a couple of oversize books out just in time for holiday shopping, one involving Pacific Northwest culture, the other a study of nature.

“Pacific Voices: Keeping Out Cultures Alive” (200 pages, $30 paper) by Miriam Kahn and Erin Younger was created to accompany the exhibit of the same name at the UW’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. It boasts some 185 illustrations, 90 of which are reproduced in color.

” ‘Pacific Voices’ is an exploration of those myriad sources of cultural identity – objects, rituals, ceremonies and traditions – that both anchor and showcase the ways of life of Pacific Rim communities,” reads the press materials.

“The Orphan Tsunami of 1700: Japanese Clues to a Parent Earthquake in North America” (144 pages, $24.95 paper) by Brian F. Atwater, Satoko Musumi-Rokkaku, Kenji Satake, Yoshinobu Tsuji, Kazue Ueda and David K. Yamaguchi, examines the sudden tsunami that struck Japan “one winter’s night in the year 1700.”

Through their detective work, the authors found evidence that “tells of a catastrophe, a century before Lewis and Clark, that now helps guide preparations for future earthquakes and tsunamis in the United States and Canada.”

The book includes 325 illustrations, 280 of which are in color.

Get Litters

Festival passes for Get Lit! 2006 are on sale for $77 (plus convenience fees) through TicketsWest outlets (325-SEAT, 800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com).

Headliners so far include Marilynne Robinson, whose novel “Gilead” won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for fiction; poet Yusef Komunyakaa, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 1994’s “Neon Vernacular: New & Selected Poems 1977-1989”; and Nancy Pearl, former executive director of the Seattle-based Washington Center for the Book and author of “Book Lust.”

Get Lit! will be April 20-23 at The Met. For further information, go to www.ewu.edu/getlit. Or call 624-4262.

Local voices

In his book “Clip File: Stories Retold from a Family Journey” (Thomas Printing, 123 pages, $16.95 paper) Coeur d’Alene author Ric Clarke gives us – and his children – a look at the stories that he’s spent his life covering.

The book is an oversize collection of pieces culled from the Coeur d’Alene Press, the North Idaho Business Journal, CdA Magazine and Tribune Newspapers of Phoenix, all places that Clarke used to work before quitting to open a Coeur d’Alene-based media relations business (with former Spokesman-Review reporter Cynthia Taggart).

As he says in the book’s introduction, Clarke wants his children to know about that “missing element” in their lives, the time lost “when I was busy putting words on paper, which I want to share with you now.”

“Clip File” can be found in Spokane at Auntie’s Bookstore and in Coeur d’Alene at Hastings, 101 E. Best Ave., and Frame of Mind, 119 N. Second.

Book talk

“Poetry reading group (230-0950), 3 p.m. today, Auntie’s Bookstore, Main and Washington (838-0206).

“Dark City Mystery Book Group (“Mr. Timothy,” by Louis Bayard), 7 p.m. Monday, Auntie’s Bookstore.

The reader board

“Larry Whitesitt (“Higher Than Eagles: Spokane’s World War II Pilots”), signing, noon-5 p.m. today, Auntie’s Bookstore; noon-5 p.m. Saturday, The Porterhouse Bookstore, 610 Main Ave., St. Maries.

“Dino Rossi (“Lessons in Leadership, Business, Politics and Life – 12 Inspirational Lessons You Can Apply to Your Business and Family Life!”), signing, 2-5 p.m. today, Valley Barnes & Noble (922-4104).

“”A Christmas Carol,” reading by Michael Weaver, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Auntie’s Bookstore.

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