Pastor's picks

The Aleppo Codex



You will think you are watching a movie, even though you are reading a book.  Matti Friedman, the author is just that good at describing scenes which invoke imagery in the mind; and characters who you can virtually see and hear talking.  The cover of my book, published in 2012, says, "A true story of obsession, faith, and the pursuit of an ancient Bible."  If you like mystery, adventure, the beauty and intrigue of foreign locales, you will be absolutely riveted by this book; and to top it all off, it has to do with an ancient mansucript of the Bible; and it's a true story!  Okay, you get it, it's a great book.  Now all you have to do is get the book from the church library and let me know what you think when you're done.  Maybe we'll include your comments here too.  

Matti Friedman's work as a reporter has taken him from Lebanon to Morocco, Cairo, Moscow, and Washington, D.C., and to conflicts in Israel and the Caucasus.  He has been a correspondent for the Associated Press, where he specialized in religion and archaeology in Israel and the Palestinian territories, and for the Jerusalem Report, and he currently writes for the Times of Israel.  He grew up in Toronto and lives in Jerusalem. (Taken from the inside flap of the book)


All My Puny Sorrows



I realize this book is not advantaged by my brief write up here.  It is already widely acclaimed in Canada and beyond. I remember Miriam a bit from my high school days; and obviously much time has passed.  But I have come to admire her writing and particularly some of her books.  AMPS is definitely one of them.  "Swing Low.. A life." was another book I really appreciated a lot.  A true story, recounting the life and eventual death of her father.  AMPS is written in fictional style, but is definitely based on the reality of Toew's life and relationship with her sister, who also found relief in this life by ending it.  Miriam manages to combine deep sadness and sorrow with incredible wit and humor.  

If it is possible to laugh and cry at the same time, you might find yourself at that precise intersection.  But, she also challenges our thinking, in what I would consider to be a striking but also gentle way.  When you start reading this book, you won't want to put it down.  So, pick it up.


Creator Spirit


"Talking about music is like dancing about architecture." p. 2

"First, music teaches us that things take on their distinctive character through relationship... Second, we learn that we live in a cosmos in which relationship is possible.  Music teaches us that we live in the sort of world in which acoustic vibrations, cultural practcies (like singing songs), our phyyscial senses, and our mental processes cann be enlisted and drawn together in a single experience... Thirs, and closely related tot his, music teaches us that the differences and diversity of the world are not a problem to be overcome but an eessential component of beauty." p. 203

This is another fantastic book.  It is about the Holy Spirit, and about music, and about humanity.  Steven Guthrie has an extensive background and writes with passion and clarity as he helps guide us into a deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit, but also the relationship between the Spirit and music, and our spirits and music.  Okay, it's a bit hard to explain, so you'll have to read the book. You can find it in our SEMC library in the "pastors pick" section, or ask one of our helpful librarians.  Enjoy!

Steven R. Guthrie (PhD, University of St. Andrews) teaches religitionn at Belmont University in Nashville, where he helped launnch a new program in religion and the arts.




Louis Zamperini was a boy with humble beginnings, who started life as a thief and a thug. He grew up to have a shot at Olympic stardom, which was torn away from him by WWII and replaced by a horrific survival story.

Any one of the major events: rise to becoming an Olympian, survival on a life raft without supplies in shark infested waters or surviving the Japanese POW camps would be an inspirational story in itself. Louis Zamperini did all of this.

Upon his release from the Japanese POW camp Louis struggles. He has horrific night mares, becomes an alcoholic, is on the brink of divorce and is consumed with a desire to return to Japan to find and murder the guard who made life in the camps so intolerable.

An amazing transformation takes place in his life as he is freed from his addictions, nightmares and the desire for revenge. A book well worth reading.

Reviewed by Anna Plett