Home Catalog Ordering News and Reviews

Reading Group Guide

In the Arms of Elders
A Parable of Wise Leadership and Community Building
by William H. Thomas, M.D.

1. What do you think was the author's purpose for setting the book in a fantastical rather than a known or possibly recognizable society?

2. What were Bill and Jude's initial perceptions of and reactions to the people of Kallimos? How would your reactions have been similar/different?

3. Do you think you would eventually have come to accept and even love the way of life, as Bill and Jude did? What was the easiest aspect to accept, and what was the most difficult aspect?

4.The author had Bill and Jude list ten lessons they learned while on Kallimos. Do you feel the lessons are realistic? How might you implement them in your own interactions with elders? Can our society implement the lessons, do you think?

5.The people of Kallimos love to share their wisdom through song, story, and action. Can our society adopt such a way of teaching?

6.Which story did you like best? Why?

7.Would you or people you know benefit from time on Kallimos? What kind of wisdom would you most want to share with others upon your return?

8.How would our society as a whole change as a result of the Eden Alternative? Would the implementation of those beliefs cause rapid or gradual change? Who would benefit the most?

9.Hannah and Haleigh's method of allowing people to draw their own conclusions to events and conversations was not the method employed by the author. He had the narrator list the lessons specifically. Why, do you think, did the author use that method?

10.What do you think was the point of the final story, the story about King Sarop and the building of ocean-going vessels? Why do you suppose the author did notprovide the moral or lesson for that story?

11.Which principle affected you the most? Why?

12.At the end of the story, what did Bill mean when he said he felt like the old man had asked Bill to bring him a tiger’s whisker?

13. How did you feel as you read “The Truth,” where the author talked about his own family? Why do you think the author shared this information?

14.Dr. Thomas received an honor called the Giraffe Award for sticking his neck out. What do you imagine he risked while championing the Eden Alternative?

15.On the page before the table of contents, the author provides this quotation from Carlyle: All work is a seed sown; it grows and spreads, and sows itself anew. What meaning does this have for you now that you have finished the book?

© VanderWyk & Burnham. All Rights Reserved.