What to Read to Keep Your Mind Open and Heart Engaged

Board Chair James Dekker gives a glimpse of the wide range of books gracing his coffee table these days, including a few Zoom storytime picks for the grandkids.

Rose and I spent some time in self-quarantine after returning from visiting Resonate missionaries in the Dominican Republic. For us privileged people this is an obligatory holiday in a comfy place – our home with a big back yard. I’m reading to our grandkids in Ottawa and Grand Rapids via Zoom. We’ve skipped through Stuart Macleans’ Stories from the Vinyl Cafe and one story from James Herriot’s The Lord God Made Them All; eight-year old Japheth zoned out of that Yorkshire tale. We’ll start Jan Karon’s At Home in Mitford next week and see how Dudley, Fr. Tim et al. sit with the kids.

Meanwhile their parents, dealing with kids home all day, every day, love the respite as we check in with the grands daily. Personally: Richard Rohr’s daily meditations and blogs from “The Twelve” awake my soul every day. I’m finishing James Cone’s gripping, hard The Cross and the Lynching Tree, reading leisurely through Richard Wagamese’s Ragged Company – an intimate novel of cultural interchange and mutual healing among “Square Johns” and homeless “rounders.” Finally, our own Peter Schuurman is carrying me steadily through his exhaustive, but never exhausting, Subversive Evangelical that profoundly examines Bruxey Cavey and The Meeting House’s eccentric, offbeat megachurch life for non-churchy middle class Canadians.

Read more of our writers’ recomendations:

These are atypical times, and we thought it fitting to publish an atypical review section in this issue. Instead of our normal format, we’ve gathered some reflections from regular contributors on what’s helping them through social distancing, social upheaval, and, well, just the strange state of affairs in which we find ourselves. Music, books, TV, and film are such great helps in trying times. They help us escape to new worlds and far-off places, while also offering wisdom and insight to help us understand this sad and beautiful world. All that and more. Maybe you’ll find something here that’ll help you, too! – Brian Bork, Reviews Editor

  • Jim is a semi-retired Christian Reformed pastor and missionary who now works for Resonate Global Mission ten hours a week as "Member Care Coordinator," which means "Pastor to Missionaries," because where lots of our missionaries work it's inadvisable to use pastor or missionary publicly. That cool job puts a framework to his week, keeps him in contact with hundreds of even cooler servants of Jesus all over the world, compels him to travel to visit them once in a while, though he connects with them via email and Zoom most of the time. The rest of the time Jim reads books--lots of free ones that he "pays for" with reviews. He was acclaimed President of Christian Courier Board of Directors while on his way to that meeting from a long ophthalmologist appointment. As long as God gives his wife Rose and him health, they ride a tandem bike around Niagara and other places in the bikeable months, paddle canoes and kayaks, visit children and grandchildren in the distant places they live because their parents provided them poor role models for stability of residence.

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