Spring 2020 List of Books & Resources

Barb Draper | Books & Resources Editor
(Background Photo: flickr.com/romanboed)

Theology, Spirituality

The Absent Christ: An Anabaptist Theology of the Empty Tomb. Justin Heinzekehr. Vol. 12 of the C. Henry Smith Series, Cascadia Publishing House, 2019, 160 pages.
This book explores Anabaptist theology and its relationship with postmodern philosophy and contemporary understandings of class, gender and racial power. How do we understand the presence of God in our lives today in light of the empty tomb?  Heinzekehr teaches Bible and religion at Goshen (Ind.) College. 


Do Christians, Muslims and Jews Worship the Same God? Four Views. Ronnie P. Campbell and Christopher Gnanakan, eds. Zondervan Academic, 2019, 240 pages.
David W. Shenk is among the theologians contributing to this collection of essays that explore the question of whether the God of Christianity, Judaism and Islam is one and the same. Shenk does not address the question directly but reflects on how Christians can minister to Muslims while respecting differences.


Recapturing an Enchanted World: Ritual and Sacrament in the Free Church Tradition. John D. Rempel. InterVarsity Press, 2020, 240 pages.
Rempel examines the historic role of ritual and sacraments, most of which were discarded by the Anabaptists and others in the Free Church tradition. He suggests that careful use of the sacraments is important to enhance faith and worship. 


Recovering from the Anabaptist Vision: New Essays in Anabaptist Identity and Theological Method. Laura Schmidt Roberts, Paul Martens and Myron A. Penner, eds. Bloomsbury Press, 2020.
Responding to the Bender-Yoder school of thought, these academic essays continue to explore the question of Anabaptist identity. Among the contributors are several Canadians, including Karl Koop, Carol Penner, Stephanie Chandler Burns, Melanie Kampen, Jeremy Bergen and Paul Doerksen.


‘Seditions, Confusion and Tumult’: Why Reformation Europe Thought Anabaptism Would Destroy Society. Layton Boyd Friesen. Evangelical Mennonite Conference, 2020, 165 pages.
Asking why the Anabaptists of the 16th century were so vilified and persecuted, Friesen examines the social, political, economic and religious contexts of the time. The introduction is by John D. Roth. A Kindle version is available from Amazon, or contact the Evangelical Mennonite Conference at 440 Main Street, Steinbach, MB R5G 1Z5.


Speak Your Peace: What the Bible Says About Loving Our Enemies. Ronald J. Sider. Herald Press, 2020, 200 pages.
Sider explores what the Bible says about loving enemies and nonviolence. He goes into some depth in examining such things as the question of violence in the Old Testament, just-war theories, and criticisms of pacifism. The 14 chapters each end with questions for reflection and discussion.


Speaking of God: An Essential Guide to Christian Thought. Anthony G. Siegrist. Herald Press, 2019, 247 pages.
Written by the pastor of Ottawa Mennonite Church, this book is an overview of how the Christian church has explained humanity’s relationship to God over the years. Siegrist hopes it will increase readers’ biblical and theological literacy. Common theological terms are in bold type and explained in simple language.


What is the Bible and How Do We Understand It?  Dennis R. Edwards. Herald Press, 2019, 96 pages.
This little book provides concise and accessible responses to questions about the purpose of the Bible, how it was created and how we should interpret it. It is part of a new Herald Press series called The Jesus Way: Small Books of Radical Faith.


Why Did Jesus Die and What Difference Does It Make?  Michele Hershberger. Herald Press, 2019, 96 pages.
Using uncomplicated language, Hershberger explores the meaning of Christ’s Atonement. She points to various theories and concludes that his Atonement is ultimately a mystery, but that our relationship to God is most important. This is part of The Jesus Way: Small Books of Radical Faith series.



Advocating for Peace: Stories from the Ottawa Office of Mennonite Central Committee, 1975-2008. William Janzen. Pandora Press, 2019, 170 pages.
Bill Janzen was the first director of the MCC Ottawa Office, where he interpreted government policy for the constituency and advocated for MCC’s international programs. He reflects on his many experiences, not only influencing Canadian foreign aid and refugee policies, but in the many other ways that he negotiated between Mennonites and the government. Available from CommonWord.


Circling the Globe: The Story of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference. Doris Penner. Evangelical Mennonite Conference, 2020, 255 pages.
After a brief look at the beginning of the Christian church and the wider Anabaptist movement, Penner explains how the Kleine Gemeinde broke away from the larger Mennonite church in Russia in 1812. The church moved to Canada in the 1870s and later changed its name to the Evangelical Mennonite Conference.


Dad, God and Me: Remembering a Mennonite Pastor and His Wayward Son. Ralph Friesen. Privately published with Friesen Press, 2019, 281 pages.
This book is part memoir and part biography. It follows the life of Reverend Peter D. Friesen, pastor of the Kleine Gemeinde in Steinbach, Man., with personal reflections by his youngest son. It also provides some history of Steinbach and the Evangelical Mennonite Conference.


Yoder School: A Memoir. Phyllis Miller Swartz. Cascadia Publishing House, Dreamseeker series, 2019, 220 pages.
The author reflects on her life as an Amish-Mennonite growing up in the 1960s and 70s in Maryland and Michigan. She spent a year at Lancaster (Pa.)Mennonite High School. After marrying young, it was a struggle to finally achieve her goal of becoming a teacher.  


Other books

La Biblia Como Narrativa. Marion G. Bontrager, Michele Hershberger and John E. Sharp. Translated by Marvin Lorenzana. Workplay Publishing and Hesston (Kan.) College, 2019, 380 pages.
This is a Spanish translation of The Bible as Story: An Introduction to Biblical Literature, the textbook for the biblical literature course at Hesston College. 


Building a Better World in Your Backyard: Instead of Being Angry at Bad Guys. Paul Wheaton and Shawn Klassen-Koop. Privately published, 2019, 176 pages.
Paul Wheaton of Montana has been teaching and writing about good environmental stewardship for years. This book is a joint project with Shawn Klassen-Koop that brings together many practical ideas for individuals to reduce their global footprint. 


Collateral Damage: Changing the Conversation about Firearms and Faith. James E. Atwood. Herald Press, 2019, 224 pages.
Atwood, a retired Presbyterian pastor, describes gun culture in America, how it developed and its devastating effects. He calls it “gundamentalism.” He calls for people of faith to work for change and provides a list of resource organizations.   


Death of a Judge: A Pineview Mystery. Esther Matz. Privately published with Friesen Press, 2019, 154 pages.
This novel, telling the story of a murder investigation, is set in a small town in southern Manitoba. The author is from Bethel Mennonite Church in Winnipeg.


A Grandmother Named Love. A.S. Compton. Inanna Publications, 2029, 246 pages.
As a young adult, Compton spent several months in Botswana, working with a local church program. She used this experience to give context for her novel, set in an African village, that tells the story of a grandmother who becomes the primary caregiver for several children.  


The North End Lives On. Hugo and Doreen Neufeld. Self-published with Millrise Publishing, 2019, 254 pages.
Like their previous book, The North End Lives (2006), this is a collection of stories about their years working at the Welcome Inn Community Centre situated in a less-affluent part of Hamilton, Ont.  The Neufelds were co-directors for 18 years. Copies of the book are available at hugoanddoreeen.com.  


Queering Mennonite Literature: Archives, Activism and the Search for Community. Daniel Shank Cruz. Penn State University Press, 2019, 184 pages.
Cruz, who is associate professor of English at Utica College in New York, analyzes queer Mennonite creative writing. He defines “Mennonite” quite broadly and argues that there is an intersection between queer and Mennonite.



This website, operated by Mennonite Central Committee in Canada, provides online resources for individuals and churches. It offers definitions and guidelines for various types of abuse.


For the Sake of a Child: Love, Safety and Abuse in Our Plain Communities. Allen Hoover and Jeanette Harder. Ridgeway Publishing, 2019.
This book, intended for Amish and Old Order Mennonite parents in plain communities, teaches positive parenting skills and how to keep children safe by recognizing abuse. Hoover is a member of the horse-and-buggy Mennonites and Harder is co-founder of the Dove’s Nest.


Great Big Beautiful World: 2020 Shine Curriculum VBS. MennoMedia.
This five-day Vacation Bible School curriculum provides resources for worship, drama, Bible study, nature-themed art projects, active games and science explorations. It is designed for Kindergarten to Grade 5, with separate resources for younger children. It teaches that God deeply loves all creation and challenges children to care for the Earth.


Talking About Sex: Sexuality and Biblical Law with Topical Concordance. Rose E. Graber. Privately published with Friesen Press, 2019, 105 pages.
This book is designed for a congregational Bible study on biblical law and sexuality. Each of the 13 chapters has information and discussion questions. In addition, it includes a detailed list of all biblical texts referring to sexuality. It is available in print or as an ebook through Friesen Press or other online bookstores.


Volendam: A Refugee Story. A feature documentary written and directed by Andrew Wall. Released January 2020; DVD and Blu-ray versions to be available later this year.
This documentary tells the story of 2,000 Mennonite refugees who had fled from Soviet Russia during the Second World War and were desperate to avoid being forcibly returned when the war was over. Their escape to freedom via the ship Volendam was somewhat miraculous. The film won Best Feature Documentary at the Winnipeg Real to Reel Film Festival in February 2020. 


Many of the featured titles on the book list are available for purchase or to borrow from CommonWord Book Store 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 2020 Focus on Books & Resources:
A story that ‘wanted to be told’
Updated history of ‘Mennonites in Canada’ commissioned
Conspicuous absences
Intriguing novel explores family trauma
Classics of the Radical Reformation series relaunched

Previous resource lists:
Fall 2019 List of Books & Resources
Spring 2019 List of Books & Resources
Fall 2018 List of Books & Resources
Spring 2018 List of Books & Resources

(Background Photo: flickr.com/romanboed)

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