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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

 
 
 
 
“The idyll of living in a library”

Introducing the SSUC Library’s collection

Ever dream of living in a penthouse suite, perhaps atop the Stantec Tower, Edmonton’s tallest building? Or maybe you‘d wish to call an Irish castle “home”, or a manor house in the English countryside. What about a glass-fronted chalet overlooking the Big Sur coast, or a log lodge-home below the pinnacles in Teton County, Wyoming, the richest county in America? 

But living in a library—now that’s a notion that never crossed your mind, right? We’re not talking about working 9 to 5 in such a place, as a librarian; or visiting one to borrow a book—we all do that. No, we mean eating three meals every day in one, bedding down for the night, doing all your morning ablutions there—living in one, 24/7. 

Just think, there’d be books all around, all the time. Like the print version of “surround sound”. Why, you could curl up on the coach each night with a different one, or do so in bed. Crack the covers, and read the opening sentence: does it grab you? Can you not put it down? “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” No? Maybe, instead, “Call me Ishmael.” Hey, here’s one no church-goer, such as yourself, could neglect: “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.”

Once upon a time, folks really did live in libraries. As recently as the 1970s and ‘80s. At least in New York City. All thanks to industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. About a century ago, he gave the Big Apple $1.2 million—worth well over $100 million today—to create a city-wide system of libraries. Ever after known as the Carnegie Libraries, these branches of NYC’s public library were heated by coal, so each required a live-in custodian tasked with keeping the fires burning. Typically, they lived on site, these employees, in top-floor apartments, often with their families.  

Once the coal furnaces were upgraded, however, the apartments emptied out, “and the idyll of living in a library has disappeared,” Sarah Laskow reported in a piece for Atlas Obscura, this in October, 2016. Mostly, these spaces have been “absorbed back into the buildings through renovations for more modern uses. Today there are just 13 library apartments left in the New York Public Library system.” 

Mind you, as she added, this after visiting the one in the Fort Washington branch that had not yet been repurposed, “In today’s New York real estate market, this apartment is not unappealing. Yes, it would need cleaning and modernizing before anyone moved in. …But…it’s in a library.” Golly, “walking upstairs in a well-used building, and finding an empty floor, feels like being in on a great secret.”  

Even though living life in a library may be, as Ms. Laskow has it, an “idyll,” we two—we who are your librarian here at SSUC—are not suggesting that you countenance us moving lock, stock, and barrel into our church’s Library & Lounge…though it is an inviting space, and not used incessantly, and we could sleep late on Sunday mornings and still be in church on time. No. We simply want to draw your attention to this space and what you’ll find there: works that seekers in particular should find soul-satisfying. Drop in…once the pandemic eases its grip…and see for yourself. 

The collection—of about 700 books, of ideas—explores religion, church, spirituality, theology, faith, doubt, values, beliefs, 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: Melancholic Joy: On Life Worth Living

News of the day, of the world—seemingly always, only dark and disheartening—got you down? About that, Brian Treanor is understanding, but unbowed, actually resistive. He tells you why and how in his brand-new book, Melancholic Joy, but not before he “unflinchingly acknowledges the everyday frustrations and extraordinary horrors that generate despair,” which is how writer Alison Mullin puts it in the

Featured Book: Way of Love: Recovering the Heart of Christianity

“Norman Wirzba presents a captivating vision for the Christian life,” the Englewood Review of Books coaxes in its scrutiny of Way of Love. In their take on the book, Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat [Spirituality & Practice website] explain why that is: at its best, the Christian church is, or should be, “a training ground in the way of love,

Featured Book: The Four Horsemen: The Conversation that Sparked an Atheist Revolution

Fifteen years ago, Wired magazine dubbed them a “band of intellectual brothers”, aka The Four Horsemen—biologist Richard Dawkins, philosopher Daniel Dennett, neurologist Sam Harris, and the late essayist and provocateur Christopher Hitchens. Each wrote one or more bestsellers that pointed up atheism; the media quickly heralded their version, “the New Atheism”. And look: “They won,” if UnHeard’s senior editor Ed West is

Featured Book: The Folly of God: A Theology of the Unconditional

In The Folly of God, John Caputo “takes the reader on a topsy-turvy journey through a Kingdom which is madder than anything the Hatter could have dreamed up,” L.K. Cripps writes in an amazon.ca customer review. But he does it with “terrific wit, passion, and honesty.” Another reader/reviewer reckons, “At stake in this book is our understanding of God.” Still another professes, “Every time I

Library Learnings: God is Red

On “the superiority of the Indian tribal religions” It will be when Indigenous people “rise and begin to reclaim their ancient heritage,” that “the invaders of the North American continent will finally discover that, for this land, God is red.” It is with this profession that the late Vine Deloria, jr., concluded his seminal work, which he entitled God is Red: A Native

Featured Book: Freeing Jesus: Rediscovering Jesus as Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord. Way and Presence

In Freeing Jesus, historian Diana Butler Bass “describes how she has experienced Jesus in the roles of all the descriptions of him used in the book’s subtitle,” Bill Tammeus, once The Kansas City Star’s religion writer, explains. Church historian Bob Cornwall puts it this way: “So, what we have before us in this book are the Jesuses that have spoken to Diana’s

Featured Book: The Universal Christ

“Christ” is not Jesus’ last name. Disciples of Christ church historian Bob Cornwall explains, in his review of Franciscan friar Richard Rohr’s 2019 book, The Universal Christ, “he wants to challenge the idea that the incarnation of the divine presence was limited to the person of Jesus.” The author himself, whom Spirituality & Practice reviewer Jon Sweeney calls “Western Christianity’s most

Featured Book: Thinking About God: An Introduction to Theology

Dorothee Sölle “was one of the most creative and prophetic German theologians of the post-war generation whose work was shaped by the memory of war, the Holocaust, and totalitarianism,” Orbis Books affirms. It’s as Wikipedia has it: “The idea of a God who was ‘in heaven in all its glory’ while Auschwitz was organized was ‘unbearable’ for Sölle.” For Consensus, a journal of Canadian

Featured Book: Faith After Doubt: Why Your Beliefs Stopped Working and What to Do About It

Christianity requires “a new set of values and deeper spiritual narratives,” Brian McLaren avows in his latest book, Faith After Doubt. “And we need forward-leaning faith communities to nourish these values and narratives….” He might as well be pointing up SSUC! Emergence Christianity is progressive Christianity for evangelicals, and McLaren has become one of its lynchpins. Those in that circle who remain

Featured Book: The View from the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos

Once upon a time, the ancients thought that they, and their little corner of the earth, were at the centre of the universe: everything—like those lights in the night sky—revolved around them. In his scienceshelf.com review of this Featured Book, physicist Fred Bortz observes, “Older cosmologies not only placed people at the physical centre of the universe, but at the spiritual centre,
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