Art by Dee Poisson; God Walk (Mark Buchanan); Sex and the City of God (Carolyn Weber); Prayer as Transgression (Sheryl Reimer-Kirkham); The Heart Beats in Secret (Katie Munnik); One Good Reason (Séan McCann)
God Walk: Moving at the Speed of Your Soul
By Mark Buchanan
Zondervan, 2020. 256 pages. $24 (e-book $11, hardcover $31, audiobook $30). Preview at Amazon.ca and Books.Google.ca
WALKING is a something we do every day. Maybe we walk the dog or walk down the street to our neighbour’s house. Maybe we only walk to get from the parking lot to our workplace. How often do we stop and consider the benefits?
This is precisely what Calgary author Mark Buchanan explores here – not only the physical benefits of walking, but also the idea of walking as a spiritual practice. He suggests ten different ways you can grow in your faith using walking.
Some examples include Walking as Prayer, Walking as Healing and even Walking as Exorcism. Through personal stories, examining Scripture and challenges after each chapter, Buchanan invites readers to slow down and walk with our Father both physically and spiritually.
His book reads beautifully with a poetic lilt. Some of the topics could have been condensed instead of each being stretched to full chapter length. At times it seemed to me Buchanan is stretching his interpretation of Scripture, but in the end I realized I was reading with overly academic eyes. He’s not so much attempting to interpret Scripture here as he is imagining what could be going on behind the scenes of the passages he includes.
Buchanan, who teaches at Ambrose University, writes with vulnerable honesty and experience. His book challenges and encourages. It is soft hearted and comforting. I would recommend it to anyone looking to slow down and meet God in the day-to-day rush of everyday life. –CHRISSY M. DENNIS
Sex and the City of God: A Memoir of Love and Longing
By Carolyn Weber
InterVarsity, 2020. 256 pages. $23 (e-book $22, audiobook $19). Preview at Amazon.ca and Books.Google.ca
THIS SMALL book packs a big punch. It’s a rich, much-needed tackling of the intimacy we should have with God and the intimacy (including sex) we long for in a spouse.
As with her celebrated 2011 memoir Surprised by Oxford, Weber’s writing is beautiful and poetic, making for the kind of book that should be savoured and contemplated before digesting. Her heart for God shines through on every page with an honesty that is comforting and authentic.
This book is not a how-to, but a thought-provoking examination of what true intimacy is. Framed by the death of her mentally absent father, Weber takes the time to explore the growth of her faith, and her understanding of love and marriage over the years.
Although it parallels Augustine’s weighty City of God, Weber’s text is accessible to all. (She’s a professor at two Ontario schools.) I commend her book to university and college students just finding their way, to newly engaged Christian couples and especially to lovers whose intimacy has stood the test of time.
As I closed the book, I felt seen by the author. Loving other people is hard. Being vulnerable with another person is an act of courage. But as Weber writes, "For all of its foreshadowing and foretasting, a marriage of two imperfect people is in no way a substitute for, or detraction from, our First Love who loves each of us perfectly." –KAREN DEBLIECK
Prayer as Transgression? The Social Relations of Prayer in Healthcare Settings
By Sheryl Reimer-Kirkham et. al.
McGill-Queen’s, 2020. 240 pages. $35 (e-book $19, hardcover $83). Preview at Amazon.ca and Books.Google.ca
TRINITY WESTERN University professor of nursing Sheryl Reimer-Kirkham is a lead contributor to this collection of academic essays.
Much of the book gets at the role of prayer in crossing boundaries – for example, when a patient’s need for prayer requires a surgical team to wait to begin their task. Or when a Muslim worker (or Catholic, for that matter) needs to find an appropriate space for regular prayer. Or when a personal religious observance in a crowded room is heard by others, or in any of a thousand other instances where spiritual expression meets institutional structures.
Hospitals are a microcosm of society where pharmaceuticals, surgeries and science-based treatment plans claim priority, but prayer comes to the forefront thanks to an increasing emphasis on whole-person care and many patients’ heightened awareness of their own fragility.
Based on research in two major hospitals (in Vancouver and London, England), the authors identify ways to accommodate individual souls within the public health care system. This involves spiritual health practitioners, chaplains and community clergy, and the use of designated and informal spaces for sacred practices.
No doubt humans in bodily distress will continue to look to the heavens for comfort and help. So it’s important we understand how prayer can be divisive and also help span the gulf between cultures and belief systems. Buchanan invites readers to slow down and walk with our Father both physically and spiritually.
An appendix provides recommendations to ensure an appropriate role for the spiritual dimension of life in medical settings. –DOUG KOOP
The Heart Beats in Secret
By Katie Munnik
Borough Press/HarperCollins, 2019. 454 pages. $22 (e-book $12, hardcover $30, audiobook $15, audio CD $48). Preview content at Amazon.ca or Books.Google.ca
THEY WEREN’T perfect, they weren’t heroes and they weren’t seeking a name for themselves. Three women whose life decisions trickled through their family generational lines. Jane, who was born and raised in Scotland. Felicity, who made the bold move to rugged Canada. Finally Pidge, who returned to Scotland to uncover letters from her late grandmother.
These women learn timeless lessons about the intrinsic value of life – and how love is far more courageous than the crumbling kind society often imitates.
Katie Munnik is a Canadian writer living in Wales and a columnist at www.ChristianCourier.ca. She crafts a story around modest lives that unmasks the forgotten truth that normal, everyday life choices are where our treasures are most often kept.
Munnik’s fearlessness to peek in the dark corners of the heart encourages readers to seek out their own hidden places. I could see pieces of myself as my emotions engaged with each character.
I appreciated the earnestness with which the book was written. Overall, Munnik scores high in reminding us that ordinary lives can still be remarkable and everyday love fierce enough to impact generations to come. –LAUREN ROTH
"This painting is the first of a current series which explores my personal journey to (and now with) Jesus Christ. It imbues the passion of now, the scars of yesterday and the sincere promise of tomorrow. This series is a significant departure from my previous work which I retired following a solo retrospective in 2018."
Seeds of Transformation (oil, mixed media, 24k gold, on 40 × 40 cradled wood panel) by Dee Poisson. www.PoissonArt.com
READING THE BESTSELLERS
One Good Reason: A Memoir of Addiction and Recovery, Music and Love
By Séan McCann With Andrea Aragon
Nimbus, 2020. 232 pages. $25 (e-book $10). Preview content at Amazon.ca.
THIS IS A powerful love story, a raw and vulnerable account of two hurting people who endured trauma as young adults and dealt with it in their marriage.
Séan McCann grew up in St. John’s, Nfld. He considered entering the priesthood following aunts who were nuns and his uncle a bishop. But in his teen years he endured betrayal from "the priest," a charismatic man the family had befriended. He unflinchingly writes about those ugly events to help others who have been sexually assaulted and abused.
In three decades that followed, he lived with self-loathing and blame. He thought the abuse was his fault.
Séan is best known for his career with the charismatic singer Alan Doyle in the successful band Great Big Sea. But the band’s accolades did not erase his personal anguish. He drank and took drugs to numb the pain. He kept his trauma from everyone, including his wife Andrea. She carried her own personal damage after growing up in the U.S under a strict disciplinarian father, an alcoholic Vietnam vet.
Séan and Andrea met after a concert, went through a honeymoon stage and then realized the depth of their brokenness while trying to raise their two precious young boys – the "one good reason" that helped them continue. The couple has since found motivation in mental health advocacy and public speaking (www.SeanMcCannSings.com).
This is an excellent read for anyone dealing with addiction, sexual abuse trauma and betrayal. –LUCY PAVIA