12 Rules for Life (Jordan Peterson); Canadian Winds of the Spirit (Ewen H. Butler); Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell (David Yaffe); The Buffalo Roadshow (Tim & The Glory Boys); Refugee Trees (Petra Zantingh); Early Rubens Exhibition
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos
By Jordan Peterson
Random House, 2018. 448 pages. $29.99 (e-book $15.99, audiobook $42, audio CD $46). Browse at Books.Google.ca
PETERSON ROSE to prominence in 2016 as a professor at the University of Toronto who declared he would not abide by university policy to enforce the use of transgender pronouns. It infringed his right to free speech.
When this book came out in 2018, Cathy Newman of Britain’s Channel 4 interviewed Peterson. Their fiery interview went viral. It put Peterson in the global limelight again.
Those who only know Peterson from these public uproars might wrongly expect this book to be a political manifesto. In fact, the 12 rules are proverb-like statements he developed from questions he answered on the Quora website.
He wrote the book because "The soul of the individual eternally hungers of the heroism of genuine Being, and the willingness to take on that responsibility is identical to the decision to live a meaningful life."
In short, this is a self-help book written with religious, historical, demographic and personal insights by an eminent motivational speaker (a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology).
The tension between order and chaos in the book draws largely from the creation account in Genesis 1–3.
Readers new to Peterson may be surprised to find much evidence in this book drawn from his upbringing in the King James Version of the Bible. For example, the tension between order and chaos in the book draws largely from the creation account in Genesis 1–3.
How Christian is Jordan Peterson? In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in February 2019 Peterson said he is religious, but it is a private issue and refuses to be "put in a box." Despite the privacy of his faith convictions, Peterson has a huge evangelical following through social media. Reading this book is essential to apprehend the mind behind the views expressed. –PYE CHEW
Canadian Winds of the Spirit: Holiness, Pentecostal and Charismatic Currents
By Ewen H. Butler
Emeth Press, 2018. 254 pages. $41.99.
THE PENTECOSTAL Assemblies of Canada, founded in 1919, is not what it used to be. In the mid-1960s it encountered the charismatic movement and it hasn’t been the same since.
“With or without official endorsement," the book explains, "the charismatic movement permanently transformed the Pentecostal landscape.”
Author Ewen Butler, a PAOC pastor in Cobourg, Ont., highlights key crossover points. A significant one was the spread of charismatic renewal into Quebec, which was undergoing huge cultural and social change at the time. Both movements were "responding to a climate of spiritual search and riding a wave of spiritual renewal."
Butler also discusses the late David Mainse as a primary link between the PAOC and the charismatic movement in Canada, "astonishingly able to maintain stellar relationships with his denominational leadership."
Butler also looks at the impact of the charismatic movement on PAOC youth, specifically through the Toronto Catacombs, a Jesus movement/charismatic phenomenon of the 1970s.
Finally, the author shows changing emphases on the PAOC’s foundational doctrines with an evident "loss of interest in doctrinal focus" replaced by "teaching and writing on practical Christian living, leadership and mentorship issues."
An important takeaway is Butler’s conviction the Spirit is larger than any denomination. “Established Pentecostal denominations and subsequently renewalists would do well to remember that the Spirit cannot be confined and encapsulated in theological or ecclesiastical structures.” Loyalty to a denomination must never be allowed to stifle the free-flowing winds of the Spirit. After all, the agent of renewal is the sovereignty of the Spirit, not a denomination. –BURTON K. JANES
Reading the Bestsellers
Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell
By David Yaffe
Harper, 2017. 448 pages. $21.99 (e-book $11.99, audio CD $41). Browse at Books.Google.ca
ALBUM BY ALBUM, song by song, this book takes readers through Joni Mitchell’s life, documenting her journey from Canadian Prairie girl to musical icon. Author David Yaffe captures the stories behind her art, music and lyrics so readers come to better understand her – who and what influenced her, whose lives and music she influenced. Overall it paints a sweeping picture of Joni Mitchell’s development as a musician and her singular need for creative control both in the studio and on tour.
Despite adversity Mitchell kept moving forward. Polio at ten led to the open guitar tunings that later characterised her music. Pregnant in her early 20s, Mitchell gave up her daughter for adoption and didn’t see her again until she was an adult with children of her own. Two failed marriages, cocaine addiction, a four-pack-a-day smoking habit and numerous affairs influenced Mitchell’s life choices and were fodder for her lyrics.
Yaffe writes, "To tell the life of any person, especially a complex and multifaceted one, is to accumulate other stories and other lives." His accumulation included extensive research and interviews with over 50 people (Mitchell included). Notably missing in these stories, and perhaps understandably, is the voice of Joni Mitchell’s daughter Kilauren. Perhaps that is a chapter yet to be finished.
Reckless Daughter reveals Yaffe as one of Mitchell’s biggest fans. His appreciation, even adoration, of her has resulted in a biography that will appeal to anyone wanting to better understand who Mitchell is and how she rose to be a Canadian music icon. –DANA ANTAYA-MOORE
The Buffalo Roadshow
Tim & The Glory Boys
Independent, 2018. $15 (download $9.99). www.TimAndTheGloryBoys.com
BASED IN ABBOTSFORD, B.C., Tim Neufeld and three of his friends (aka the Glory Boys) are in the process of making it big in the country-bluegrass-gospel music world. Since coming together in 2013 they’ve won multiple Juno, Dove and Covenant awards.
It’s easy to hear why. There are ten songs on this latest album. The musicianship is first class. Neufeld’s songwriting – words and music – is affecting and highly listenable. And the group’s blending of country, bluegrass and gospel is distinctly theirs.
It’s mostly upbeat and foot stompin’. It’s also happily faith inspired. While the Christian references are obvious, they are not tacked on. They’re integral to the songs, arising seamlessly from the subject matter. (Tim’s first band Starfield was a contemporary Christian worship band.) Kudos to Neufeld for not compromising on his lyrics while also providing quality music in this genre.
This is good-time music, emitting real joy. And there’s a bonus – these guys are funny. They bill themselves as “backwoods hillbillies with world-class facial hair," and on stage they easily incorporate "blue collar humour” into their concert act. This fall the band has been performing across Western Canada, Washington state, Wyoming, California and Oregon. –MARIAN VAN TIL
Refugee Trees (graphite, watercolour, ink on wood panel, 12 × 16 inches) by Petra Zantingh.
This piece is part of a collection called Trees of the Book, a retelling of the story of salvation and God’s providence through Scripture texts that mention trees. Erin Goheen Glanville comments, “The half-harvested olive tree suggests refugee welcome is not the small piece of charity we cut from our pie and offer others. The invitations of this icon are ‘remember,’ ‘be still’ and ‘make space’ for gentle, ordinary and ongoing kinship.” www.PetraZantingh.ca
Early Rubens Exhibition
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. Until January 5, 2020. Annual pass $35 (25 and younger, free)
THE EARLY PAINTINGS of Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) focus on history, the Bible and myth.
At a current Toronto show (www.AGO.ca), these paintings and drawings confront the viewer with their bold approach to storytelling and a view into the early years of his career, when he was at his most innovative and inspired. Rubens produced these early works from 1609 to 1621 in Antwerp, during the Twelve Years’ Truce between the Catholic southern Netherlands, including Antwerp, and the Protestant northern Dutch Republic.
The exhibition brings together works, infrequently exhibited in North America, on loan from 34 museums along with private collections from across the Western world, many of which have never travelled before – a feat in itself.
Featured in the exhibition is a prized painting belonging to the AGO, The Massacre of the Innocents (circa 1610), referencing Herod’s killing of young children as noted in Matthew 2:13-18. One of Rubens’ great and less studied works, it illustrates the collective trauma of religious warfare in the Netherlands and particularly massacres in Antwerp and elsewhere. Today the dramatic painting continues to provide a timeless metaphor for self-preservation of power and authority.
Once one has seen Rubens’ work, one cannot “unsee” that imagery. Well worth viewing! – MARY LEIGH MORBEY