Beating Guns: Hope for People Who Are Weary of Violence. Shane Claiborne and Michael Martin. Brazos Press, 2019, 288 pages.
Using the image of turning guns into garden tools, Claiborne and Martin explore how destructive gun violence has been and provide hopeful stories of how this carnage could be reduced. They examine how guns became so prevalent in American culture and give suggestions for change.
Braving the Future: Christian Faith in a World of Limitless Tech. Douglas Estes. Herald Press, 2018, 222 pages.
As he considers the relationship between God, people and technology, the author looks at such things as gene editing, artificial intelligence, brain-computer interface and nanotechnology. While warning of dangers, he is intrigued by technology and how it makes our lives better. A free downloadable 10-session study guide is available.
Deus in Machina: Does God Work Through Technology? Daryl Culp. Privately published, 2018, 125 pages, ISBN 978-0-9953081-2-1.
Culp examines the world of technology, including virtual reality, thinking machines and biotechnology. While recognizing that technology can have great benefits, he argues for caution, declaring that human relationships are of utmost importance and that hubris is always a danger.
Faith and Toleration: A Reformation Debate Revisited. C. Arnold Snyder. CMU Press, 2018, 106 pages.
The text in this booklet is from the John and Margaret Friesen Lectures and the J.J. Thiessen Lecture Series given at Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg, in 2017. Snyder examines religious toleration by and for Swiss Anabaptists in the latter part of the 16th century, concluding that tolerance is an ongoing issue for the church today.
Fire by Night: Finding God in the Pages of the Old Testament. Melissa Florer-Bixler. Herald Press, 2019, 192 pages.
The author, pastor of Raleigh (N.C.) Mennonite Church, takes stories from the Old Testament and reflects on how they impact lives today.
Flee, Be Silent, Pray: Ancient Prayers for Anxious Christians. Ed Cyzewski. Herald Press, 2019, 142 pages.
As an evangelical Christian in North America, the author found himself very anxious and fearful. He tells the story of how he learned to use prayer and contemplation to move beyond his anxiety and gives many suggestions for learning how to use contemplative prayer.
The Great Reckoning: Surviving a Christianity That Looks Nothing Like Christ. Stephen Mattson. Herald Press, 2018, 211 pages.
Mattson examines American civil religion that feeds on fear and grasps for political power, and he declares that we need a revival and must turn to Jesus as the centre of our faith. A free downloadable study guide with questions for each of the 10 chapters is available from Herald Press.
Jump Into the Story: The Art of Creative Preaching. Ray Friesen. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2019, 262 pages.
A former pastor, Friesen shares 20 of his creative sermon ideas, not for readers to use, but as sparks for further creativity. At the heart of each idea is a story that is often an old story in a new form.
Mennonite Ethics: From Isolation to Engagement. J. Lawrence Burkholder, edited by Lauren Friesen. Privately published with Friesen Press, 2018, 650 pages.
Burkholder, who died in 2010, raised questions about social responsibility and Mennonite involvement in the broader society in the 1950s, when the church was not ready for that discussion. This book collects four of Burkholder’s manuscripts. His writings are still relevant as the church continues to struggle with questions of nonviolence, power and justice.
The Pastor Wears a Skirt: Stories of Gender and Ministry. Dorothy Nickel Friesen. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2018, 159 pages.
One of the early female pastors ordained in the Mennonite church reflects on her personal story and the process of how the Mennonite church came to accept women as pastors. She writes with humour, honesty and warmth.
Unraptured: How End Times Theology Gets it Wrong. Zack Hunt. Herald Press, 2019, 255 pages.
Hunt tells his own story of how he was captivated by dispensationalism and “end times” theology, and of how he came to see that this approach is a distortion of Christ’s message and misinterprets the Book of Revelation. It is not a difficult read and the theology he advocates is quite Anabaptist.
Beyond the Village Circle: Narratives by Mennonite Women From Bolivia. Martha Hiebert. Self-published, 2017, 99 pages.
These 16 short stories about women living in Bolivia were collected by Martha and Isbrand Hiebert. The book has also been translated into German. It is available at CommonWord Bookstore and Resource Centre.
Necessary Idealism: A History of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate. Janis Thiessen. CMU Press, 2019, 247 pages.
Using archival material as well as many interviews, a former teacher tells the story of this private Mennonite high school in Winnipeg that celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2008. Organized by theme rather than timeline, the book offers a detailed history of the school’s challenges and achievements.
On the Banks of Jacob’s Creek: The History of the Scottdale Mennonite Churches. Daniel Hertzler. Cascadia Publishing House, 2019, 168 pages.
Herzler, an editor at Mennonite Publishing House from 1952 to 1990, has put together a history of the publishing organization and the three Mennonite congregations in Scottdale, Pa. He includes anecdotes and 80 photos.
Sketches From Siberia: The Life of Jacob D. Sudermann. Werner Toews. Privately published with Friesen Press, 2018, 153 pages.
Jacob Sudermann was a teacher and artist who was taken from his Mennonite community during the Stalinist purges and died in a Siberian gulag. His biography is pieced together from his letters and artwork sent to his family, as well as his sister’s memoir. It is available through CommonWord.
Strangers and Pilgrims Vol. II: How Mennonites are Changing Landscapes in Latin America. Kennert Giesbrecht. Die Mennonitsche Post, 2018.
This English-language version gives an updated history of Low German Mennonites living in colonies in Latin America and includes maps and colour photographs. It is available from the office of Die Mennonitsche Post in Steinbach, Man., at email@example.com or 204-326-6790.
Berry Flats. Helen Rose Pauls. Privately published, 2017, 132 pages.
This collection of short stories provides a glimpse into life in the Mennonite villages of the Fraser Valley in the 1940s and ’50s. The stories are fiction but the setting is real, as shown by the many photographs of the time. Copies are available from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Captive. Donna J. Stoltzfus. Schiffer Publishing, 2018, 126 pages.
This little novel explores complex family dynamics and other relationships when a Mennonite family in Virginia uses German prisoners of war to harvest their tomato crop. Set in the mid-1940s, this fictional story is based on true events. It is told from the perspective of a 13-year-old boy, making it suitable for younger readers.
Crash Landing, The Long Road Home: A Memoir. Liz Jansen. Privately published, 2018, 252 pages.
A mature woman’s solitary motorcycle tour across Canada becomes a journey of discovery not only of her Mennonite ancestors but also of her own spiritual past, as Jansen struggles to understand her parents, grandparents and the Mennonite faith she rejected as a teenager. It is available at LizJansen.com.
Finding Father: Stories From Mennonite Daughters. Mary Ann Loewen, ed. University of Regina Press, 2019, 166 pages.
Thirteen women writers, eight of them Canadian, reflect on their relationships with their Mennonite fathers, giving the reader a glimpse into their growing-up years and the Mennonite world of 50 years ago. It is a companion piece to an earlier book, Sons and Mothers.
Old Order Mennonites of Ontario: 33 Frequently Asked Questions. Del Gingrich. Privately published, 2018, 90 pages.
The author has lots of experience in answering questions about the Old Order Mennonites of Ontario as the long-time manager of The Mennonite Story, an interpretative centre in St. Jacobs. He and photographer Joe Lepold are retired principals from schools with many Old Order children. The book is available at email@example.com.
The Pastor-Congregation Duet. Gary Harder. Privately published by Friesen Press, 2018, 282 pages.
Harder reflects on his experience as a pastor and the relationship between a pastor and congregation. He shares some of his own journey and discusses what things make the relationship harmonious or discordant.
The Pie Lady: Classic Stories From a Mennonite Cook and Her Friends. Greta Isaac. Herald Press, 2019, 174 pages.
The stories in this collection centre around women, food and faith. Each of the 32 chapters includes one or two recipes mentioned in the story. The author is a Mennonite from Kansas, but some of the stories are about Canadians. While the story settings are mostly rural and this is part of the Plainspoken series, the “pie ladies” do not seem to be Amish or Old Order.
Mennonite Low German Dictionary: Mennonitisch Plautdeutsches Wörterbuch, Revised Edition. Jack Thiessen, privately published with Friesen Press, 2019, 500 pages.
This is an updated and revised version of a Low German dictionary compiled by Thiessen and first published in 1977 and 2003. This revised version was a joint project with Ernest Braun and Gerhard Ens. It is available at the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Steinbach, Man.
Upside Down Living: Parenting. Katherine and Peter Goerzen. Herald Press, 2018.
Upside Down Living: Prayer. Kelly Chripszuk. Herald Press, 2018.
These booklets are part of a Bible study series that deal with questions from today’s culture. Each guide includes six sessions with questions to get discussion started.
Many of the featured titles on the book list are available for purchase or to borrow from CommonWord Bookstore and Resource Centre in Winnipeg. For more information, visit commonword.ca, or call 204-594-0527 or toll-free 1-877-846-1593.
Further reading from our Spring 2019 Focus on Books & Resources:
CommonWord shares books by the dozen
Readers 'zoom' to discuss Unsettling the Word
Translation valuable to Swahili-speaking pastors
From power to pathos