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Library


Welcome to the SSUC Library page. Please visit the library in the main floor lounge of our building, browse the shelves, grab a cup of coffee and settle in for a read, or borrow a book and bring it back when you’re done. Would you like to browse the catalogue from home? See the Title catalogue here; the Author catalogue here; and the Reference books catalogue here. In the meantime, get introduced to a new book: read a preview of a featured book every two weeks, written by our librarians. Enjoy.

A fifth library to visit!

Ignored! In its April issue, the magazine Broadview, that descendant of The United Church Observer, listed “4 Libraries We’d Love to Visit,” but somehow omitted, disregarded, overlooked, slighted, your own SSUC Library. 

The publication chose to include, instead, a library in Vancouver “designed to represent a Salash pit house”; another in Egypt that “boasts the largest open reading area of any library in the world”; a third, in England, that “looks like a church”—it even has stained-glass windows; and, as its fourth entry, a library in Mexico City with a centrepiece sculpture—“a gigantic whale skeleton.”   

Well, just because Broadview was indifferent, insensitive, inconsiderate, insouciant, doesn’t mean you have to be. You may, you can, you should visit your church’s book room—it’s in the Library & Lounge—and its collection of about 600 texts, all having to do, more or less, with religion and such; most all are free to be borrowed. Discover, pore over, discern and learn from what you’ll find there: books that’ll help you to get on with your spiritual journey, and grow in your understanding of matters that matter.  

Broadview doesn’t know what it’s missing. Be sure you don’t. 
 

An exclusive emphasis

Introducing the SSUC Library’s collection
 
 
 
In an effort to ferret out funding to finance the education of students who’ve come from abroad to learn at our provincial university, our son Daniel travels overseas several times each year on behalf of U of A, and it’s the Middle East especially that has become his stomping ground. Which explains why he receives Saudi Arabian Oil Company’s slick bi-monthly magazine, AramcoWorld, purposed to “increase cross-cultural understanding by broadening knowledge of histories, cultures, and geography of the Arab and Muslim worlds.”
 
Occasionally, we get to peruse a copy, which is how we found—this in last year’s May/June edition—a single four-colour photograph spread across two full pages: it shows several youngsters, a man—his name is Ridwan Sururi—and his horse, which has strapped to its back a travel case that holds handfuls of books. The caption explains what’s taking place:
 
“In 2015, Ridwan Sururi of Serang Village, central Java, Indonesia, started the Kudapustaka (horse library), and since then, three days a week, he has visited villages and schools” in order to provide children in the hinterlands with books to read. The photographer adds, “I did this story because I was also born in a village with difficult access to books. I believe in the power of books, and I know what Mr. Sururi is doing is important.”
 
Now it is that libraries come in all shapes and sizes; some even come by horse! Consider the new Stanley Milner Library in downtown Edmonton, the one that looks from the street like a hulking grey Sherman tank, beached and bastion-like…and then, if you dare to compare, bring to mind Calgary’s new award-winning main library building, all bright, beautiful, beckoning.
 
Some libraries don’t even house books: did you know there’s one in Belgium that holds a collection of nearly 100 sourdough starters of different flavours from all over the world? Opened in 2013 in the Centre for Bread Flavour in the municipality of St. Vith, “It aims to preserve the biodiversity of, and histories behind the sourdoughs, which are,” according to Coffee News (“News to be enjoyed over coffee”), “fermented mixtures of flour and water that are added to dough to provide rise and flavour.” Who knew?
 
Certainly, not all libraries house something-for-everyone general-interest books. The Grolier Club in Manhattan is home to books about books; the Washington, D.C., Public Library has an entire archive about the punk scene; Swarthmore College hosts a collection dedicated to peace activism; and then there’s the “Human Sexuality Collection” at Cornell University, which documents sexual history, especially lesbian and gay history, and the history of pornography.
 
Your own church Library, too, has an exclusive emphasis, though its subject matter isn’t as titillating as may be the one on the campus in Ithaca, New York. Certainly for seekers, the works are of greater consequence, go deeper, and can be soul-satisfying: the collection—of about 600 books, of ideas—explores religion, church, spirituality, theology, faith, doubt, values, belief, Jesus, God and gods, and all such things. These are writings to be pored over and pondered, weighed and wondered about. And valued.
 
The classics are present and accounted for, everything from The Confessions of St. Augustine to Martin Buber’s I and Thou. There are works written by such luminaries as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Northrop Frye, Abraham Heschel, Albert Schweitzer, Paul Tillich, and Simone Weil. Others will acquaint you with such great church figures as John Wesley and Hildegard of Bingen. There are plays—The Trial of God by Elie Wiesel, and Lucas Hnath’s The Christians. Progressive Christianity pioneers like Jack Spong and Lloyd Geering penned still other of the volumes. Consider Karen Armstrong’s The Case for God, but also Richard Dawkins’ refutation in The God Delusion.
 
On the shelves you’ll come upon the Iona Abbey Worship Book, Bible atlases, an eco-foods guide, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, self-help books, including lots on loss and grieving by the likes of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, even Nancy Steeves’ doctoral thesis. There’s fiction, too: challenge yourself and read Nikos Kazantzakis’ controversial The Last Temptation of Christ, and Putting Away Childish Things, the novel that, as one reviewer put it, “flows out of Marcus Borg’s life.” There are books about the Earth Charter, LGBTQ concerns, the Dead Sea Scrolls, fundamentalism, myths and mythology, bullying, preaching, sexism, the labyrinth, mid-life crises, evolution, Christmas, human rights and humanism, feminist theology, Buddha, Islam, justice, the parables, prayer, Christian ethics, Celtic wisdom, parenting, sin, eternal life, shamanism. Whoa, catch you breath.
 
Discover The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot; read how Jesus became Christian, and also God; see why No Man is an Island; explore The World of Anne Frank; join in The Battle for God, or play Hide and Seek with God, or go along with SSUC’s Clair Woodbury Looking for God; go In Search of Paul; learn how to love nature; spend The Last Week with Jesus; get acquainted with the Middle East; ask, Can We Trust the New Testament?; ask also The Great Questions of Life; meet The Pagan Christ; find faith, peace, the right words, your way home, and your religion. Why, You Can Teach Yourself Philosophy of Religion. And this litany of authors, titles, and topics, only scratches the surface!
 
Along with handfuls of DVDs and videos, all this is waiting to be browsed and borrowed; what’s not to be circulated are the slim number of reference works. The collection is housed in bookcases in SSUC’s Library & Lounge—it’s the inviting room off the foyer, on the right as you enter the church. Everything has been ordered and shelved, arranged by author, from A (Abbott, Deborah) to Z (Zuckerman, Andrew).
 
Book-borrowing has been made as easy as can be: you’ll find lists, both by author and title, in a binder atop the first of the bookcases; as well, these can be accessed on the Library’s webpage (ssucedmonton.com/library), so you can pick and choose what you’ll want right from home. Simply sign out the books using the in-and-out form—it’s in the same binder; later on, please be sure to note on the form the date you return the items you’ll have borrowed, and place them in the basket atop the second bookcase. It’s pretty much grab and go! 
 
So, please, get going!
 
 
 
Ellen & Ken Fredrick
 
 

Featured Book: Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith

Don’t judge a book by its cover…or its title! Velvet Elvis is Rob Bell’s first book, and, with its publication 15 years ago, his leave-taking from conservative Christianity began. Once “the brightest star in the evangelical cosmos,” he, in this book, “actually ends up throwing the entire Christian gospel up for grabs,” according to Baptist Church minister Greg Gilbert, who adds: he is “in many

Library Learnings: Spiritual journeying: “Be merciful to those who doubt”

“…One of the great truths of life is that we can never really stay where we are—both the best moments and the worst moments pass, and time gathers us up in its current, and we have to keep moving.” —from Nancy Steeves’ reflection on “Journey,” January 5, 2020.   Members of book discussion clubs get together to hash over the book they’ll

Featured Book: In Defence of Doubt: An Invitation to Adventure

“After a lifetime of being a God-obsessed Christian struggling with my doubts about some of the ‘truths’ with which I was raised, it was time to put on paper something that was composting within me,” Val Webb wrote for Insights, the Uniting Church of Australia’s magazine. Her doubts, she argued, were “signs of health, divine catalysts urging me to more mature thinking…[not] shameful

Featured Book: The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

“As children, we didn’t have the opportunity to choose our beliefs,” but, through “human domestication,” they came to rule our minds, to be “our truth.” Even as adults, “…we need a great deal of courage to challenge our own beliefs. Because even if we know we didn’t choose all these beliefs, it is also true that we,” growing up, accepted them. Mexico’s don

Featured Book: What Does a Progressive Christian Believe?

“By it’s very nature, progressive Christianity resists having a systematic theology,” progressivechristianity.org regular Jim Burklo allows, “but Del Brown has written the nearest thing to it.” Two years after Seabury Books released What Does a Progressive Christian Believe?, and a year after Brown’s death, progressivechristianity.org in 2010 posted a piece that the author had penned in which he explained why he’d written the book: “There will not

Featured Book: The Underground Church: Reclaiming the Subversive Way of Jesus

Robin Meyers and his cutting-edge congregation in Oklahoma City are featured in the new-in-2019 documentary, “American Heretics: The Politics of the Gospel,” as well they should be: he and Mayflower Congregational Church are “anomalies on the conservative religious landscape of Oklahoma,” according to the state’s leading newspaper. As reporter Carla Hinton has it, he’s been “excited to lead a church that has

Featured Book: Drink From the Well

“Who are we?” It’s the question Fred Plumer puts as the heading of the first chapter in his book, Drink from the Well, in which he, in the words of his publisher, seeks to “define the Progressive Christianity movement as it evolves.” He should know: for about a decade, beginning in 2006, Plumer served as president of ProgressiveChristianity.org, aka the Center for

Featured Book: The Emerging Christian Way: Thoughts, Stories & Wisdom for a Faith in Transformation

Said by its publisher to cover “every aspect of this developing Christianity,” The Emerging Christian Way is a book it took 14 authors to write—each penned one chapter—including such luminaries as Matthew Fox and Tom Harper [six have a connection to the United Church of Canada], plus one editor, Michael Schwartzentruber, to compile and refine. Together, they conjure a fresh

Featured Book: The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus: What’s So Good About the Good News?

In a National Public Radio interview a dozen years ago, Peter Gomes admitted that his book “isn’t at all what its racy title suggests”: “I’m sorry to disappoint you,” he remarked, noting that, for example, The Scandalous Gospel doesn’t spotlight Jesus’s relationship with Mary Magdalene. As NPR reported, “…the ’scandal,’ according to Gomes, is the lack of attention to the gospel,

Featured Book: A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story

“This is the book that progressives and liberals having been waiting for,” progressivechristianity.org proclaimed a decade ago, “a deeply researched history of Christianity that sheds new light on the underreported personalities and movements of the faith.” It points up “grassroots movements in Christianity that preserved Jesus’s message of social justice for 2,000 years, and their impact on the church today.” 
 
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