Wednesday, May 17, 2017

OUC to host Religious Tolerance Forum in honor of Stanley Planton


Ohio University Chillicothe will be hosting a Religious Tolerance Forum May 21, 2017 at 2 p.m. in the Quinn Library in honor of the late Stanley Planton, former Quinn Library Director at OUC.

Pastor Janet Hatch, Jack Burgess and John O’Keefe will serve as panelist for the forum and guests will be able to view the Religious Tolerance Collection and memorabilia from Stanely Planton’s personal collection.

The Religious Tolerance Collection at the Quinn Library was made possible by a generous donation from renowned author Dan Brown, best known for his works Angels and Demons, Digital Fortress, and The Da Vinci Code.

Interested attendees can contact Joyce Atwood, Resource Development Coordinator, at 740.774.7732 or at atwoodj@ohio.edu.

Background:
(Provided by Brandi Weaver, Quinn Library Director)

In 1998, Stanley Planton, Quinn Library's head librarian, connected with novelist Dan Brown via a mutual contact.  Planton accepted the daunting task of assisting Brown with research for his new novel, Digital Fortress.  This began a nearly decade-long camaraderie between the two as they worked together on Brown's additional novels Angels and Demons, Deception Point, and The Da Vinci Code.  While writing the novels, Brown would email Planton lists of keywords without revealing the plot; Planton would then dig up research on the keywords in question and send them to the author. 
            In an interview for Outlook, Ohio University's electronic news and information publication, Planton is quoted, "Dan typically sends me a list of key words and phrases with no clue about how they are tied together.  For example, while writing Angels and Demons, the list included:  The number of murdered Popes, causes of death, and examples of proof.  He also asked whether it was possible to make a branding iron white hot, without it losing its shape."  The article continues, "The answer is no, but Brown used it in the book anyway.  Planton laughs when saying Brown doesn't always take his advice."
            Regardless of whether Brown used every piece of advice or not, Planton's research proved invaluable to the novelist.  Brown inscribed a copy of his book The Da Vinci Code for Planton:  "Stan—Without you, this book would have been a lot shorter!  Thanks for all the info, Dan." In 2006, Brown gifted Quinn Library with a generous donation to be used for print resources as a way of showing gratitude for Stan Planton's hours of assistance.

Beginning the Religious Tolerance Collection
            By the time of Brown's monetary gift, Planton had retired from the library.  His successor, Allan Pollchik, used Brown's generous donation to create a collection on religious tolerance.  Pollchik established the Special Collection on Religious Tolerance.  He is quoted as saying, "At this time, when religious tolerance is fanning the flames of violence and war around the globe, it seems especially appropriate and valuable to study this topic so that we can learn from current authors as well as the same authors who influenced Jefferson, one of the framers of our own Constitution."  Not only has this topic been a burning social issue since the Enlightenment, it also reflected the topic of The Da Vinci Code--the book that made Dan Brown a household name.
            The idea of religious tolerance is not a new one.  After hundreds of years of blood struggle between Catholics and Muslims, Protestant and Jewish philosophers of that period suggested the "radical" idea of tolerating people of other religions.  For suggesting this, they were exiled, excommunicated, pilloried, or worse.  However, these philosophers had planted the seeds for tolerance to become an integral part of Western civilization. 
            The idea of a religiously tolerant society continued to develop in Western countries.  Among the earliest philosophers in this movement were Locke (Item A), Bayle (Item C), Voltaire (Items F.1, F.2), and Spinoza (Item G).  Included among the authors of our rare books are Grotius (Item E), who extended these ideas into the international sphere, and early writers Defoe (Robinson Crusoe) and Montaigne (inventor of the essay), whose fame resides more with their literary accomplishments (Items H, D).  Seminal books by Rousseau (Item K), Montesquieu (Item J), and Paine (Item M) demarcated the topic in the 18th century.  The 19th century saw Findley (Item N), Mill (Items O.1, O.2, O.3), and Spencer (Items P.1, P.2, P.3) extend our understanding.  The books of the major 20th century philosophers, Rawls (Item Q), Foucault (Items R.1, R.2, R.3), Nozick (Item S) and Arendt (Item T), are not yet rare, but our collection is preserving them for future generations of scholars.

Creating Opportunities for Transformative Exchange
            Quinn Library's vision is to be a point of pride not only for our nationally distinguished Special Collection, but to foster opportunities for transformative intellectual and cultural exchange.  On September 24-25, 2010, Quinn Library brought the world to Chillicothe by sponsoring and hosting an international conference on Global Citizenship, Collective Identity, and Tolerance.  The conference attracted scholars from ten countries representing western, eastern, northern, and southern hemispheres.  Life-long learners in the community and OU-C students attended the conference for free, allowing them an opportunity to share their considerable insights with scholars from around the world.  A local band played at the conference dinner, including Appalachian music and insight as part of the cross-cultural exchange.
            On January 14, 2017, after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease, Stanley Planton passed away.  It is in his memory that the Religious Tolerance Collection continues under the library's current director, Brandi Weaver.  In April 2017, in the wake of Planton's death, Dan Brown generously gifted an additional substantial donation in the memory of a decade-long working relationship and friendship.  The Religious Tolerance Collection, which exists because of Stanley Planton and Dan Brown, puts Quinn Library and Ohio University-Chillicothe firmly in the realm of international repositories for historically valuable collections.

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