Town Crier: Hills author’s book an eye-opener on faith

MONTCLARION: March 25, 2015

You think you know a person. I’ve seen Barbara Falconer Newhall many times over the years, usually in her gym clothes at the Hills Swim and Tennis Club. I had no idea, until recently, that her long career in journalism included the religion beat for the Contra Costa Times.

I mention this because I’ve been reading her new book “Wrestling with God,” and it’s masterfully written as she shares her own faith journey. What makes this book different is Newhall’s interviewing skills as she draws out the life stories of believers and nonbelievers alike.

Some of her most thought-provoking accounts come from an atheist who threw down the gauntlet to God, a World War II vet who survived a prisoner march across Germany and a Richmond preacher who experienced eye-opening miracles. In the end, “Wrestling with God” helps Newhall make decisions about her own faith. It may help readers do the same.

Around town: Montclair’s art explosion has spread to Farmstead Cheese and Wines. The La Salle shop has partnered with Thornhill Elementary art teacher Patricia Larsen to create a rotating display in the front window. Check out the fifth-graders’ interpretation of Georgia O’Keefe this month.

Purple haze: Some things never change. It seems a certain Montclair snippery is smoking its neighbors out. “Our beloved local, old-school barber shop has turned into a smoking gallery, with the barbers clustered on the bench in front of their shop smoking cigarettes several times throughout the day,” says a reader. Isn’t there an Oakland ordinance that prohibits smoking within 25 feet of a business? Perhaps if enough people complain ….

Email bag: Here’s a mystery that needs to be solved. Reader Megan Morrow says there wasn’t a parking space to be had on a recent Wednesday at 7 p.m. In comparing notes, she heard Monday night was the same way — no place to park but seemingly light business in the local restaurants. “Just to make things more mysterious, I cruised by Saturday evening at 7, and the place was empty! I can’t make heads or tails of this, so thought I would ask you, our local oracle,” Morrow writes. Can anyone out there bring clarity to this conundrum?

Praising plants: A farmer once told me to sing to my plants. We’ll see if that works when “American Idol” finalist Maddy Hudson sings Saturday at the Bay Area’s Plant Exchange. The 17-year-old (who sounds more like Beyoncé than Beyoncé) sings at 10:30 a.m. at Oakland First Presbyterian Church, 2619 Broadway. Bring a plant to exchange and then prepare for a feeding frenzy. More than 2,500 plants exchange hands in the first few hours. For more information, go to:



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