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Focus On Books & Resources

‘Where do we go from here?’

Focus On Books & Resources | By Dave Rogalsky | Oct 18, 2017

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen / Nobody knows my sorrow / Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen / Nobody knows but Jesus

By entitling his book with the words of the African-American spiritual, one known by whites through popularization in modern entertainment, Drew Hart puts his thesis front and centre.

How to avoid ‘a tense faith’

Focus On Books & Resources | By Deborah Froese | Oct 18, 2017

Humans have a long history of elevating knowledge over trust. Consider Adam and Eve. They had God’s full attention and companionship—and Eden—but they couldn’t resist the off-limits “tree of knowledge.” What did that get them? Misery.

That’s just one of the insights offered by Peter Enns, professor of Bible at Eastern University in St. David’s, Pa., in his new book, The Sin of Certainty. He distinguishes between placing faith in God and placing faith in “correct” beliefs or intellectual knowledge, and says that God desires our trust more than our correct beliefs.

2017 Fall List of Books & Resources

Focus On Books & Resources | By Barb Draper | Oct 18, 2017

Theology, Spirituality
Approaching the Divine: Signs and Symbols of the Christian Faith. Margaret Loewen Reimer. CMU Press, 2017, 96 pages.
This book explores the history and meaning of various Christian holidays, and the symbols and rituals connected with them. Many symbols have ancient roots, but Reimer also includes any Mennonite connections. She also considers the role of art and imagination in expressions of faith.

Reading books in prison

Margaret Loewen Reimer
Focus On Books & Resources | By Margaret Loewen Reimer | Apr 05, 2017

Seven years ago, two friends and I from Rockway Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont., agreed to begin a book club with inmates in the local Grand Valley Institution for Women, a federal prison. Except for breaks in the summer, every month since then we have made our way through prison security and along a maze of corridors to a room where we are joined by a dozen or so women eager to talk about the latest work we have read. We read mostly fiction and some memoirs.

Mennonites in Vietnam conflicted during war

Focus On Books & Resources | By Barb Draper | Apr 05, 2017

As the government of South Vietnam teetered on the brink of collapse in the spring of 1975, Mennonite missionaries living in Saigon agonized over whether to leave or stay. In the end, mothers and children left the country, and only a few men stayed to experience the communist takeover.

Getting unfrozen about climate change

Focus On Books & Resources | By Dave Rogalsky | Apr 05, 2017

Christine Penner Polle knows well the warning in Al Gore’s presentations and his 2006 movie, An Inconvenient Truth. It is possible to move from denial to despair in regard to climate change, both of which result in nothing being done and people being frozen in place.

First, she had to be unfrozen herself. Climate change and its connection to the burning of fossil fuel seemed to be just too big and complicated. But as she became convinced of the science, she also began to read about hope. Humanity had faced other issues and, together, could face this one, too.

Spring 2017 list of Books & Resources

Focus On Books & Resources | By Compiled by Barb Draper, Books & Resources Editor | Apr 05, 2017

Theology, Spirituality

Anabaptist Essentials: Ten Signs of a Unique Christian Faith. Palmer Becker. Herald Press, 2017, 182 pages.
Becker has written a concise explanation of the core values of the Mennonite/Anabaptist faith, using the three central points of Jesus, community and reconciliation. He provides a fresh look at what Mennonites believe, using clear and simple language. This book is very suitable for small-group study and Christian-education settings. The 12 chapters include discussion questions.

An insider’s story of the Amish beard cutters

The strange case of the Amish beard cutters five years ago thrust a normally quiet American community into the national spotlight. The bizarre attacks seemed so out of character for a Christian community whose traditions emphasize nonviolence and forgiveness.

Learning from the ‘teachers of trust’

Focus On Books & Resources | By Barb Draper | Oct 19, 2016

If a person has a body that is physically and intellectually disabled, is it ethically right to use technology to keep that body small and childlike so that it is easier to care for?

Questions answered without words

Focus On Books & Resources | By Dave Rogalsky | Oct 19, 2016

Poetry has always spoken to me. Whether it is the blank verse of Shakespeare, the doubling images of Hebrew scripture, or the lyrics of song, popular or otherwise. But I had not found the time for regular reading and contemplation until a spiritual director on an eight-day silent retreat suggested that my spiritual path sounded to her to echo the 14th-century Sufi poet Hafez. It was easy to include reading his work to my contemplation time, and I have begun reading poetry in a more regular fashion.

Fall 2016 list of Books & Resources

Theology, Spirituality

All You Need is Love: Honoring the Diversity of Women’s Voices in Theology. Jennifer Castro, ed. Women in Leadership Project, Mennonite Church U.S.A., 2016, 195 pages.
The 20 papers in this collection were presented at a Women Doing Theology conference held in Virginia in 2014. Among the papers included is one by Kimberly Penner, a Canadian.

Spring 2016 List of Books & Resources

Theology, Spirituality

Deuteronomy: Believers Church Bible Commentary. Gerald E. Gerbrandt. Herald Press, 2015, 600 pages.
This is the 29th volume in the Believers Church Bible Commentary series. Deuteronomy, a collection of speeches by Moses that reflect on Israel’s past and future, explores the meaning of faithfulness. Each section of text has explanatory notes, comments about the biblical context and what the text has to say in the life of the church.

Cookbook reflects old-style Menno cooking

Focus On Books & Resources | By Barb Draper | Apr 22, 2015

In the 1940s, Mary Emma Showalter began a cookbook project, collecting old Mennonite recipes that were handwritten in notebooks because she feared that soon the notebooks would be discarded. As Mennonites began moving beyond their home communities during the Second World War, they were learning to cook new foods and were less apt to use the old recipes learned from home. She also noticed that Mennonite communities in various states and provinces had similarities, so she assumed they had common roots and were old favourites.

Listening to the characters’ voices

Author Carrie Snyder chats with the evening’s moderator Rob Zacharias before her reading at the 2014-15 New Mennonite/s Writing series at Conrad Grebel University College on March 4. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Focus On Books & Resources | By Dave Rogalsky | Apr 22, 2015

John Siebert had two things to say to Carrie Snyder as she finished her readings from her latest book, Girl Runner, at Conrad Grebel University College on March 4.

The executive director of Project Ploughshares, who had read the book while travelling on business, said, “First, you made me cry,” referring to the ending of the book. “Second, can you imagine a male character with the same amount of clarity?”

Spring 2015 List of Books & Resources

Theology, Spirituality

Christian, Muslim, Friend: Twelve Paths to Real Relationship. David W. Shenk. Herald Press, 2014, 187 pages.

Using many examples from his own experience, Shenk gives advice on developing friendships with Muslims. He describes some of the teachings of Islam so that Christians can be respectful as they talk about the gospel. Each of the 12 chapters includes questions for discussion.


Further east of Edensville

Maurice Martin signs a copy of I’m so Glad for Sunday . . . When I can go to Church.

Focus On Books & Resources | By Dave Rogalsky | Apr 22, 2015

Spurred by requests from his thoroughly modern children to tell them stories of his growing-up years in the Ontario Swiss Mennonite homeland of Waterloo County, Maurice Martin, a retired pastor and area church worker, wrote One Mile East of Edensville and self-published it in 2013. His home on the farm was “the centre of innocence,” as he remembers it.