March Staff Picks

Here we are in March, a month of time adjustments, the start of spring, and almost the end of term for students at the seminaries we serve. March can be a difficult month — Lent plus Term Papers equals Stress. In recognition of those stressful aspects of March, our monthly staff pick theme is “Books We Find Challenging to Read.”

You can see from what staff members say about their picks for the month that we define “challenging to read” differently. Have you read any of our challenging books? Will you challenge yourself to read them?

Cindy’s Pick: To The Heart of the Mystery of Redemption by Hans Urs von Balthasar and Adrienne von Speyr


Cindy says:

“Our staff pick “theme” this month was books that we find difficult but well worth the struggle to read, hence my selection of this book.  I find that von Balthasar’s writings stretch my brain to the point of snapping, but after a long period of thought and reflection my brain begins to slowly absorb his theological insights.  This book is particularly suited to the current liturgical season of Lent. Although it is a small book (only 135 pages) it is a long read.  Like eating an elephant, it is best to digest this book one small bite at a time.”

Ed’s Pick: Generation to Generation by Edwin H. Friedman


Ed says:

“This book is dense with great information. It is challenging to read because you have to unpack every sentence. I found it a real tough slog, but worth it.”

Carolyn’s Pick: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


Carolyn says:

“This month’s staff pick assignment is to pick a book that we find challenging in some way. On author I find challenging to read is J.R.R. Tolkien. I know, everybody loves this guy. And everyone should read him, right? Well, I picked up Lord of the Rings about 5 years ago, and I think I got Frodo and his pals as far as Rivendell, where they are waiting still. Sorry, Tolkienheads, I just can’t get into it. Too much geographical detail, I think. And Tom Bombadil is just too weird.

My mom read The Hobbit to me when I was a child, and there were parts of it I enjoyed, most notably Bilbo’s encounter with Gollum. But picking it up and re-reading it would certainly be a challenge for me.”

Rev. Heather’s Pick: For Self-Examination & Judge for Yourself! by Soren Kierkegaard


Rev. Heather Says:

“I picked a hard-looking book by Kierkegaard because Carolyn picked a Tolkien book. Tolkien is one of my favourite authors and Lord of the Rings is one of the best books EVER. Carolyn loves Kierkegaard (she keeps picking his stuff for books you love months). She thinks Tolkien is challenging; I think Kierkegaard is obscure. But we are still friends.”



February Picks: Books We Love

With St. Valentine’s day this month, our February theme for 2015 is “Books We Love.”

Ed loves: The Cross of Christ by John R.W. Stott


Cindy loves: The First Phone Call from Heaven: a novel by Mitch Albom


Cindy says:

“I read this novel over the Christmas holidays and thoroughly enjoyed it, so much so that when I finished, I passed it on to my husband to read. He also really liked it. The book is a mystery with a little romance and a hard look at “faith” and “belief”. What would happen if you received a phone call from heaven from a loved one that has passed away? What if more than one person in the same small town received calls? After the phone calls begin and the story gets to the media, the town and the people in it will never be the same. If you like Mitch Albom’s other books, Tuesdays with Morrie or The Five People You Meet in Heaven  you will love this one.”

Dr. Heather loves: Why Study the Past? by Rowan Williams


Dr. Heather says:

“The subtitle of this little book is The Quest for the Historical Church. In this book Williams communicates clearly the idea of “the communion of saints” — the idea that the Church extends not only through space, but through time. We can easily forget the time dimension of the Church. This book reminds us that we cannot afford to forget the past.”

Carolyn loves: The Sickness Unto Death by Soren Kierkegaard


Carolyn says:

“This is a book that I love. It’s also a book that is hard to read. I don’t mean so much that it is difficult to understand, although the first page and a half are notoriously dense (just keep on going, even if you don’t understand it!); rather, it is hard to read because it is a book that unmasks me and brings me close to myself. Kierkegaard’s premise is that each of us is in despair, and those of us who are unaware of this despair are likely in a worse state than those who recognize their problem. Ultimately, a recognition of despair will point us in the direction of that which we need most — God’s grace!”