Books We are Thankful For

October brings with it Thanksgiving, so our staff picks for October are books we are thankful for, or that remind us to be thankful.

To start with, we are all thankful that the fences are down, and the PanAm disruption to the business at the store is over. Then we are thankful for these books.

Cindy’s pick: 7 Women And the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxis

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Cindy says: “I am thankful for the women who have come before me, those who stood firm in their Christian faith in the face of adversity, those who gave voice to the injustices they saw, those who taught the next generation to have faith in God, and those who cared for the bodies, minds, and souls of those that society would rather forget.  The stories of these seven women will inspire and encourage both women and men.”

Carolyn’s Pick: Daily Prayer for All Seasons

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Carolyn Says: “Prayer is hard for me. Written prayers can sometimes help with this. Occasionally I’ll grab the prayerbook sitting on my bedside table and make my way (usually skipping some parts, I’ll confess) through morning or evening prayer or compline. But to be honest, I’m just not disciplined enough to consistently pray through the services on my own (which is probably why they are designed for communal use).

However, I very recently discovered a prayer book put out by the US Episcopal church that seems ideally suited to my poor attention span. Daily Prayer for All Seasons takes the pray-er through the Hours (eight per day, if you wish to pray them all), with a unique set of prayers for each season of the church year. Each prayer service is thoughtful and beautifully written, yet blessedly short (1 or 2 pages). Additionally, the book itself is slim enough to make it easy to carry around throughout your day. If, like me, you have a faltering prayer life and could use some help in making your intercessions, thanksgivings, and confessions, and in receiving assurance of God’s love and grace throughout the day, I highly recommend this book!”

Dr. Heather’s Pick: Space for God: The Study and Practice of Spirituality and Prayer by Don Postema

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Dr. Heather says: “This book was a text in an introductory course on Christian spirituality. While I knew about the ideas of giving thanks and gratitude before I took the course and read the book,  Space for God helped me recognize the importance of gratitude as a daily practice. When I see the book it reminds me that thanksgiving is important all the time not just at some seasons of the year.”

Sheila’s Pick: A blank journal

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Sheila says: “Earlier this month, I began a journal of thankfulness.  My prayer partner and I were giving thanks for the many blessings which we have received and to which have have been witnesses over the past twenty years.  We decided to keep a journal to record so that we may remember the many, many reasons God has given us to give thanks.  So my pick for the month is a blank journal and a quotation from Father Alexander Schmemann: ‘All that exists is God’s gift to man, and it all exists to make God known to man, to make man’s life communion with God…God blesses everything He creates, and, in biblical language, this means that He makes all creation the sign and means of His presence and wisdom, love and revelation.’ (From For the Life of the World p. 14.)”

Connor’s Pick: Laudato Si’ by Pope Francis

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Connor says: “I chose this as my pick for October, on the theme of things for which I am thankful, because I am taking a course on climate ethics, and Laudato Si breaks from the narrow, consequentialist bent of the readings for that course. Pope Francis articulates how our actions not only change the environment, but also our attitude toward others and towards other things around us. To be thankful for what we have and where we are requires us to think not only in terms of cause and effect.”

Andrew’s Pick: A Secular Age by Charles Taylor

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Andrew says: “Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age is without a doubt one of the most profound books written by a Canadian ever. I am particularly thankful for A Secular Age because of the impact it had on my own life. What does it mean to live in a secular age? Has God in fact died? (hint: Taylor is a practicing Catholic). Open up this massive book and simply read a chapter that grabs your attention. You will not be disappointed!”

April Picks: Spiritual Heroes

This month’s staff pick theme is Spiritual Heroes. Staff picked a book either by or about their spiritual heroes. This is what happened when we thought about our heroes:

Cindy’s Pick(s):

The Spirit of the Disciplines and Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard

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Cindy says: “The writings of Dallas Willard have greatly impacted my view of the spiritual life and opened my eyes to seeing that every moment of each day is a spiritual moment. How I live each moment–how I respond to people, how I respond to God’s calling–indelibly marks my life as a Christian. To live each of those moments for God requires the inclusion of the various spiritual disciplines into my daily routine–moments that allow me to draw closer to my Creator and Redeemer. I had the opportunity a few years ago to meet Dallas Willard when he was speaking at Wycliffe College. He did a book signing at Crux Books and we had the opportunity to have a quiet conversation. In that conversation I truly felt I was in the presence of a “man after God’s own heart.” He lived what he wrote about. I would recommend starting with his book The Spirit of the Disciplines, followed by Renovation of the Heart. Both books need to be read slowly and reflectively, taking time to journal thoughts, insights, and responses to questions raised by your reading.”

Sheila’s Pick:

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

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Sheila says: “To narrow down the choice to one book for this month’s theme, a spiritual hero, was more of a struggle than usual. This past weekend, I picked up Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place to remember again the courage  of Corrie, her sister Betsie, and their father, Casper who ran a watchmaker and repair shop in the Netherlands. All their lives, the Boom family had made a home for foster children and gave generously of what they had. Then the Nazis invaded Holland. And the family had to decide how to respond in the face a growing atrocity.

In The Hiding Place, we encounter a family of great courage, love, and wisdom.  When the Nazi occupying forces demanded that Jews wear the Star of David, Casper ten Boom wore one voluntarily.  For as long as they were able, they sheltered Jewish people and helped them to escape.  The family was itself sent to concentration camps.  After the war, Corrie, the only survivor, started a rehabilitation centre, became a public speaker, and wrote prolifically.
Why read this story? Because stories of great courage can inspire us, I hope, to ask God for valour in this present hour.  Or, as Corrie puts it: ‘This is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.'”
Rev. Heather’s Pick:
The Long Loneliness by Dorothy Day
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Rev. Heather says: “I first encountered Dorothy Day in my grade 11 religion class at Archbishop Oscar Romero High School in Edmonton AB. Since then she has been a hero and companion of mine. She was an incredible woman whose love of literature opened her eyes to the beauty of the divine and lead her to despise the ugliness so much of humanity is consigned to. Her writings about the struggle to live a life that reflects one’s deeply held convictions are powerful must reads, especially for anyone exploring a vocation. I’d start with The Long Loneliness but I guarantee you’ll be moving on to Loaves and Fishes. And her letters. And On Pilgrimage. And then you will probably scour used bookstores for a copy of her out-of-print novel The Eleventh Virgin!

 

March Staff Picks Part 2: Even More Challenging Books

The March theme for our staff picks is “Books We Find Challenging.”

Sheila’s challenge: Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas

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Sheila says:

“I find Bonhoeffer’s choice challenging. As I am reading through this biography, I’m finding the issues Bonhoeffer faced similar to issues we face today. How do I live as a Christian in the world? How should Christians be involved in politics? The book has also challenged me to think about what I remember about the history of the first half of the twentieth century. I’m not always sure Metaxas’s presentation of the zeitgeist and timeline is accurate, but I need to do more reading to see if my impression is correct.”

Connor’s challenge: Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals by Immanuel Kant

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Connor might have said:

“I’m a philosopher, but Kant is challenging no matter who you are.”

On seeing Connor’s Staff Pick, Everyone’s Favourite Campus Chaplain said: “That Connor is a weird guy.” On hearing that this month’s theme was challenging books, EFCC changed his comment to: “Oh, OK, yeah, Kant is challenging.”

The Academics’ Challenge: Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics

Dr. Heather: Volume I.1, The Word of God

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Dr. Heather says:

“This is the only volume of Church Dogmatics I’ve dipped into so far. It was pretty challenging.”

Ryan: Volume IV.1, The Doctrine of Reconciliation

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Ryan says:

“Karl Barth is easily the most important Protestant theologian of the 20th century. Perhaps more than anything else, Barth is challenging because of his rigorous Christocentrism. He wants all theological doctrines to be refracted through the lens of Christ, God’s personal disclosure of Godself to humanity. Readers will find this feature fully on display in this volume of the Church Dogmatics. Let Barth challenge you to see if you really think about humanity in light of Christ.”

Why do we try? Because it is is THE major work of 20th Century Theology. Plus most of our theological friends tend to be Barth scholars.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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 Part 2

Sheila loves: For the Life of the World by Alexander Schmemann

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Rev. Heather loves: Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

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Connor loves: Tales Worth Telling: Views from an Ivory Tower by Harry St. Clair Hilchey
Unfortunately we’ve only got a used copy of this book, available in-store only! Come in and pick up this collection of anecdotes from the history of Wycliffe College.

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Ryan loves: The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

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Ryan says: “The Silver Chair is my favourite book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a great entry point into the Narnia series or, for others, a great re-entry point.” 

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

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

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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

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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

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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!”

 

January Picks — Reading Resolutions Continued

Ed Resolves to Read: Fabricating Jesus by Craig Evans

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Ed asks: “Why do people make things up about Jesus, just like the staff at Crux make up my remarks about my monthly picks? I plan to read this book by Craig Evans to find out the answer to at least one of these questions.”

Dr. Heather Resolves to Read: A Fine-Tuned Universe by Alister McGrath (ooo, a science + theology book — crazy)

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Dr. Heather ponders: “This book is based on McGrath’s Gifford lectures. I’ve been meaning to read it for a few years. As this is the year I also resolve to read more non-fiction, it makes sense to read it now!”

Carolyn Resolves to Read: Noli Me Tangere by Jean-Luc Nancy (ooo, philosophy AND a Latin title, even crazier!!)

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Carolyn thinks: “This little volume promises to be a gem. It contains three essays by one of the foremost philosophers of our day, Jean-Luc Nancy. The first addresses the resurrection, the second addresses Mary Magdalene, and the third, “In Heaven and On Earth,” is a transcription of a talk Nancy gave to a group of children between 6 and 12 years old (I can’t wait to see how he does this!!). This is a slim book (albeit dense, at times), so there is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to fulfill my resolution to read this book in 2015. And it certainly looks like it will be a rewarding enterprise.”

Connor Resolves to Read: The Way of Humility by Pope Francis
(Humility! Let’s see how this goes then.)

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Connor promises: “Really! I’m going to read this book.”

January Picks — Reading Resolutions

Happy 2015 from the staff at Crux.

Well a new year means a new start, right? For January our staff pick theme is “Reading Resolutions.” We share with you books we’ve been meaning to read, and have resolved that 2015 is the year we are finally going to get THESE books off our reading lists.

Cindy Resolves to Read: C.S. Lewis – A Life by Alister McGrath

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Cindy says: “I have resolved to read C.S. Lewis: A Life by Alister McGrath. I have picked up the book several times, begun reading, then gotten distracted by other books that “needed” reading. This meant I put down the book I really wanted to read. I plan to start the new year off right by reading this book from cover to cover. The few pages that I have already read were an engaging and insightful look into the life and background of C.S. Lewis. I look forward to actually finishing the book!”

Ryan Resolves to Read: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (ooo, a big Russian novel, go Ryan!)

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Ryan modestly says: “The Brothers Karamozov is the final novel by  Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  This year I plan to read this book because it is a great work of literature that treats philosophical and religious issues in great detail.”

Rev. Heather Resolves to Read: Leviticus by Ephraim Radner (ooo, a book by a professor, nice move Rev. Heather.)

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Rev. Heather gushes: “In this New Year with all of its infinite potential and shiny new possibilities I – The Reverent Miss Heather Kathleen May Liddell – resolve to read the infamous Radner commentary on Leviticus! Wish me luck! Keep me in your prayers! Consider joining me on this adventure? Can Ephraim Radner really make Leviticus intersting? I’ve heard good things but I’m skeptical. Are you? Let’s find out!”

Sheila Resolves to Read: Uncommon Gratitude: Alleluia for All That Is by Joan Chittister and Rowan Williams. (ooo, Sheila how very ecumenical with that pair of authors!)

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Sheila notes: “This year, I am starting off my reading with Uncommon Gratitude: Alleluia for All That Is by Joan Chittister and Rowan Williams.  This is a book that has been on my “intend to read” shelf for longer that I would like to admit.  Now seems the optimal time (o chairos) to begin again the practice of gratitude.  Chittister and Williams seek to guide the reader in the offering of praise regardless of one’s particular circumstance: ‘To define life by its pastoral moments only — the goal of a feel-good society — is to understand vey little about life at all.  Life calls for stronger stuff than that.  Life is dirge as well as symphony, lament as well as hymn.’ [p.94] Amen.”

December Picks — All We Want For Christmas

Our December staff pick theme has been Books We’d Like To Receive For Christmas. While it was difficult to limit the choice to ONE book, most of us managed a top choice.

Dr. Heather’s Pick: Deborah’s Daughters by Joy Schroeder

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Carolyn’s Pick: The Collects of Thomas Cranmer compiled by C. Frederick Barbee and Paul F.M. Zahl

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Sheila’s Pick: Faith in the Public Square by Rowan Williams

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Rev. Heather’s Poetic Pick:

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Connor’s Philosophic Pick:

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Ryan’s Pastoral Pick:

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Our fearless leader couldn’t manage just one pick. Watch for her list in an upcoming post.

November: The Dark Month

To cheer our November days this month’s staff pick theme is a little off the wall. Occasionally customers come in with imprecise descriptions of books hoping we can help them find “a green book on suffering” that they saw once, probably in our store. Reflecting an actual customer request, this month’s books are blue, and have either Jesus or God in the title. There were lots of possible books to choose from.

Cindy’s pick: At Sea With God by Margaret Silf

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Cindy says:

“Best known for her books on Ignatian spirituality, in this book Margaret Silf takes us sailing.  We are encouraged to see the spiritual journey as a trip into uncharted waters.  The trip is full of risks that we must take—first of all, just leaving the security of the harbour.  But the journey is an adventure full of surprises as we let the wind of God billow our sails, setting the course that he has selected for us.”

Carolyn’s Pick: Finding God in the Dark II – Taking the Spiritual Exercise of St. Ignatius to the Movies by Monty Williams SJ and John Pungente SJ

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Carolyn’s pick seems particularly appropriate for the Dark Month. She says: “I know little about the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, but in the last few years, I have had the privilege of getting to know some Jesuit brothers, and I find myself intrigued by the unique spirituality that seems to characterize the Jesuit movement. And as peculiar as it may seem to write a book about the spiritual exercises of a 16th century saint as explored through 20th and 21st century movies, somehow it seems appropriate for the members of an order that has always been taking the gospel out into the world. This book is no frivolous foray into film with a bit of spirituality tossed in for fun; rather, it is a serious opportunity to use film as a vehicle for spiritual contemplation.”

Rev. Heather’s Pick: On God and Christ St. Gregory of Nazianzus

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Rev. Heather says: “Have you ever wanted to read something by ‘The Theologian?’ Have you ever thought – I’d like to familiarize myself with the roots of Trinitarian Theology? If that is you then this palatable collection of Theological Orations with two important letters to Cledonius (complete with some beautiful reflections on Jesus Christ) is a great place to start! Translators Lionel Wickham and Frederick Williams do a wonderful job of bridging the gap between 4th Century Constantinople and today’s English speaking world. I would suggest curling up at your favourite coffee shop and making a day of it! But, that could just be me.”