Campus reads ‘Amazing Grace’


With the return of students in August, campus officially began a yearlong program called Harding Read. The American Studies Institute, Brackett Library and First Year Experience contributed ideas resulting in the creation of the program, which encourages the Harding community to read a book together and engage both in and out of the classroom.

President Bruce McLarty selected Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas as the book to read for the 2016-17 school year. McLarty said there is something special about a biography that he hoped Harding Read would give students an opportunity to experience.

“There is something about a biography that stays with you in a way that most other stories don’t,” McLarty said. “There is a writer by the name of John Piper who says, ‘Everyone should have a best friend who lived in another century.’ I like that.”

McLarty said Amazing Grace is a fitting tool to give campus readers a larger perspective of the world by learning about a friend in another century. Amazing Grace is the biography of famed abolitionist William Wilberforce and his battle to put an end to slavery.

Although Harding Read is not a requirement for students, the goal is for as many as possible to join in the project designed to bring campus together. It’s an opportunity for students, faculty and staff from entry-level to executive to find common ground.

“Harding Read is a way that there can be a discussion that runs across every college and across all interests on campus,” McLarty said. “It’s something that unifies us in the course of a year.”

First-year students learned about the program at Summer Stampede and were presented with their copy of Amazing Grace. While the fall semester has carried the Harding Read theme into chapel presentations and classroom discussions, the spring semester will bring the author to campus as an American Studies Institute distinguished speaker Jan. 12, 2017.

“ASI has brought many outstanding distinguished lecturers to campus. Some have not been well known to the Harding community, and attendance may have been a affected,” said Kim Kirkman, associate director of ASI. “Metaxas will be a campus household name by Jan. 12, and I believe that we will have outstanding attendance and participation that will reach outside of campus and spill into our local community.”

Although it is a priority to engage campus through Harding Read, McLarty said the program has potential to be much larger than that. Efforts will be made to include interested parents and alumni, giving the extended Harding community an opportunity to find common ground through Harding Read.

“I can only imagine the size of the community that will be involved,” Kirkman said. “As we read, the characters become part of our own story, as if we have personally known them. The life story of William Wilberforce will be
 a part of our community and connect us all in this common experience.”


Categories: Around Campus.


  1. Teresa Bennett

    After seeing the Harding Read choice in the last 2016 issue of HARDING, I checked out Amazing Grace from my local library. I just finished it. WHAT an amazing man, story, legacy, and author. I wish I could’ve heard the thought-provoking campus discussions that this book generated.
    Teresa Reid Bennett, Class of 1970

  2. Shannan Inman

    Do you have discussion questions that you use with your students that you would be willing to share? I am a wife of a campus minister at Louisiana Tech and would love to lead some students through this book during this time of quarantine.

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