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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

 

Experiencing Cabin Fever?

Introducing the SSUC Library’s collection
 
 
 
“No doubt cabin fever is having its way with me,” Mark Athitakis allows, this in his account of his recent visit to a Goodwill outlet. Not to buy second-hand clothes, mind you, but simply to peruse its used-book shelves. “My local independent bookstore was shuttered, but my local Goodwill was open,” he explained, this in a story for The Washington Post, which the Edmonton Journal carried in its July 11 edition: “Shelf life: there’s no match to browsing in a bookstore”. Works by this Phoenix-based freelance writer, editor, author, and critic appear often in The Post.
 
“…as weeks of quarantine have dragged on, I’ve wanted a browsing experience,” he confesses. Even so, “A Goodwill isn’t my preferred browsing experience, but any shelf of books, besides my own, would be a balm,” he reasoned. Yes, it “felt chancy to do what I did, [but this was] one of the things I most missed doing during quarantine: go into a store, and browse bookshelves.” He believes that, “The COVID-19/Zoom era has made bookshelf snoops of all of us.” 
 
Now it is that in his Goodwill he came upon “programming manuals, Mormon doctrine, math textbooks, dog-eared classics, stacks of Tom Clancy and Stephen King.” Which was just “fine” by him: as Athitakis has it, “Shuttered bookstores are a reminder of how much of our reading lives is a process of discovery. …Many of the books I love most and recommend most fervently were books I stumbled upon. …We find our favourite books in the same way we often find our closest friends—brought together by circumstances that are unexpected….”
 
Books found in unexpected circumstances, eh? Books stumbled upon, really? A process of discovery, no kidding? If all that can happen in bookshops, even Goodwill stores, it sure can, and does happen in libraries. Including ours. Maybe especially in ours. Certainly for seekers, the works to be found in the SSUC Library can be soul-satisfying: come on Tuesday and Thursday, between 10 and 1, and see for yourself. 
 
The collection—of about 600 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
 
 

Library Learnings: Meet the author, appreciate more the book—#2: Joan Chittister…Krista Tippett…Elizabeth MacLaren

Note: This is the second in a series of writings intended to acquaint you with authors…really interesting authors…of books to be found in the SSUC Library, and to pique your interest in reading their works. Three writers, each a woman, but each very different from the other two. Three books—one written by each of these women—each addressing the same phenomenon,

Featured Book: Living the Quaker Way: Timeless Wisdom for a Better Life Today

As you read Living the Quaker Way, it may dawn on you that you are…surprise!…a Friend, at heart. As he explains on his website, Philip Gulley, a Quaker pastor in Indiana for 30 years, invites readers “to encounter the defining commitments of the Religious Society of Friends—simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality, and shows how these ideals can be incorporated in

Featured Book: Believer on Sunday, Atheist by Thursday: Is Faith Still Possible?

“Ron Byars should receive a citation for honesty,” esteemed theologian Walter Brueggemann reckons, this in his take on Believer on Sunday, Atheist by Thursday; in this recent book [2019], its author is “pulling no punches,” he adds. As when Byars writes, disarmingly, “When we try to explain it [our faith], we cannot help being very much aware that our explanations might not actually explain

Featured Book: Christ for Unitarian Universalists: A New Dialogue with Traditional Christianity

Many Unitarian Universalists, it’s said, “feel they are too UU to be Christian”. Scotty McLennan isn’t one of them. Thus his 2016 book, Christ for Unitarian Universalists. Not that he’s missionizing: “Rather than proselytize, Christ for UUs seeks to stimulate dialogue about Jesus Christ, whether or not we find him central to our faith life,” its publisher explains. And, as the book’s study guide

Featured Book: Night

Night, Elie Wiesel’s memoir-and-novel-in-one, tells the story of a boy surviving the Nazi concentration camps only to be, as the Chicago Public Library puts it, “devastated by the realization that the God he once worshipped had allowed his people to be destroyed.” “…in the blackest of nights,” an Emel Magazine review has it, “faith is a force of will.” “With striking bluntness and clarity,”

Featured Book: On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity & Getting Old

A while ago, Parker Palmer’s On the Brink of Everything served as the focus of an adult study at SSUC. With reason. According to infed.org, Palmer has “touched many people through his work. In that old Quaker phrase, he has been able to speak to their condition.” In his book, the “religious educator in a broad sense,” as Biola University calls him, reflected on

Featured Book: Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith

“Hello, I’m Barbara Brown Taylor. I say things you’re not supposed to say.” It’s with these words that the “spiritual contrarian” [her words] welcomes you to her website. And one of the things she wasn’t supposed to say is “goodbye” to ministry. She recounts her breakout—an “often-painful, if ultimately redemptive, journey away from pastoring,” according to Religious News Service—in her

Featured Book: God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time

“God says to you, ‘I have a dream. Please help me to realize it.’” In these few words, Archbishop Desmond Tutu invites the reader of his 2004 book to take up the “deceptively simple challenges,” as enotes.com puts it, “based on the the notion that all people have a role to play in the realization of God’s ‘dream’.” And what that is, in the words

Featured Book: Eighteen Takes on God: A Short Guide for Those Who Are Still Perplexed

“…our ideas of God are formed in one way or another from our human experience,” Leslie Stevenson affirms, “as all our ideas about anything surely are….”  This philosopher, who taught for 32 years at St. Andrews University—he now serves both as honorary reader in philosophy and honorary Quaker chaplain at this famous Scottish school—introduces in this succinct and lively new-in-2020 book

Featured Book: Fishing Tips: How Curiosity Transformed a Community of Faith

“Hillhurst has become a poster child for congregational renewal in The United Church of Canada,” editor David Wilson wrote in The United Church Observer in 2015. “…Pentland clearly has good intentions, but…good intentions can go awry, especially when they are not tempered by the qualities of Christian humility…,” UCC minister-turned-Anglican priest Jeff Seaton demurred in his 2018 book, Who’s Minding the Store? The United Church
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