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In praise of reading

Virginia A. Hostetler
By Virginia A. Hostetler, Editor
Oct 18, 2017 | Volume 21 Issue 20

A formative experience for my childhood faith was the reading of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series. Set in the fictional land of Narnia, the seven books tell stories of children from our world who are transported to a land of mythical creatures and cosmic struggles.

The main characters deal with temptations and self-doubts but they are called to live courageously in difficult times. They are encouraged to grow into better versions of themselves. Through it all is Aslan, the noble lion who calls, guides, teaches and supports them in their adventures.

As a child, I heard Aslan’s voice as a divine calling, and that powerful-but-gentle voice still resonates with me today. Such is the impact of books.

If you are a reader, you have your own list of books that have helped you become the person you are today. The right book at the right time in our lives opens new doors; it pushes and pulls us into new ways of thinking and living. The best ones call us to become better versions of ourselves. They help us take steps on a journey of transformation.

You may have noticed that Canadian Mennonite runs a Books & Resources focus twice a year. This issue has 10-and-a-half pages (26 to 36) devoted to the topic. That’s because we believe in the power of books and want to keep you informed about new ones hitting the shelves. The topics are varied, as are the genres, so we hope that the menu will have something for everyone.

If you’re not an avid reader of the printed page, there are other ways to access books. For example, a non-reader I know listens to audio books during daily commutes and longer rides. Some authors appear as guests on podcasts or videos. Hearing them speak will give you a taste of what they have written. For example, “Church Matters,” Mennonite Church Canada’s podcast, sometimes runs interviews with authors. You can find it at home.mennonitechurch.ca/ChurchMatters.

Those of us who are in book clubs know the enjoyment of gathering with friends to discuss what we have read. New insights are added, both about the ideas in the books and about our own lives. Sometimes we are forced to broaden our horizons by reading books that we would not otherwise have chosen.

And of course we can’t forget the “Good Book.” From this collection of voices and genres, we hear the story of God’s people. We encounter the hero Jesus, who demonstrates again and again what the reign of God is about. Throughout those pages, we hear the invitation to become an active character in the larger story. The Bible reminds us of the presence of the God who calls, guides, teaches and supports us in the adventure of discipleship.

I thank God for the Bible. I am also grateful for the authors, artists, bloggers, podcasters, publishers and distributors in the church, who create, select, edit, design and curate, who invest in and promote, who sell and lend books and resources for all of us. I pray that the church will have the ongoing financial and human resources to sustain this important ministry.

Take time to browse our Books & Resources pages and choose something to read. Then tell others in your circles about how your reading has impacted you. Feel free to drop us a note too.

Now, it’s time for me to go find my tattered copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

See more at Focus on Books & Resources.

New Manitoba Correspondent
This month we welcome Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe to our reporting team. She is a communications and media major in the fourth year of a bachelor of arts program at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg. She served in a variety of roles in Mennonite Church Manitoba’s Camps with Meaning program and attends Charleswood Mennonite Church in Winnipeg.

Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe


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