From the Library

 In Library



July 2017


Addiction in Palo Alto

Ordinarily, when a book or a DVD is suggested or given to the library, I look at any suggestion or recommendation pretty objectively and then go about my routine way of looking over the item and writing something about it for the newsletter.

Rarely am I stopped in my tracks the way I have been with the book by D’Anne Burwell of Palo Alto, Saving Jake, When Addiction Hits Home, that was recommended this past month. Burwell is the winner of the 2016 Eric Hoffer Award in Memoir, the 2016 Eric Hoffer First Horizon Award, and the 2015 USA Best Book Award for Addiction and Recovery. Most of us read news articles all the time about drug addiction in our community, but unless the story connects with us directly in some way, we can generally get past it pretty easily. This book reminds me that indeed I have wondered quite a few times about whether one family or another that I know has been struggling with addiction. And almost always it is a highly confidential matter that we never hear about.  So I was glad to read this book and become more informed, to force myself to ponder the particulars of at least one case. It was hard for me to face the reality of this story. You, too, may want to read it.

Next I want to encourage you to look at the June-July issue of Presbyterians Today. Two articles stand out for me: “Principles of Investing” by Rick Jones, a communications strategist for the Presbyterian Mission Agency, and “Go Into All the World, Celebrating 180 Years of World Mission,” a pair of stories and a historical chart by Michael Parker, José Luis Casal, and others.  Rick Jones’s article has much material that is directly from Rob Fohr, who is the lead staff person for MRTI.  In addition to the library copy I have ordered 10 copies which I will have available in the Narthex.

Lastly, I would like to remind you that I continue to discard older library materials as I make room for new items, so please keep me informed if you have older favorites you care about.

Rudy Dyck, Librarian


May 2017


1517 – a Year to Remember

Martin Luther made the year 1517 famous, as almost everyone around here may already know, by bringing a century or so of unrest in the greater European church community to a head one day with his 95 Theses posted on the front door of his church.

So this 500th anniversary year is a good year for me to talk about books that our library has on this man and these two subjects-–this unrest and these theses. So let’s get started. For the unrest prior to 1517 I can recommend the first section of Will Durant’s The Reformation, a History of European Civilization from Wyclif to Calvin: 1300-1564. This section covers the period 1300-1517. Durant is relatively easy to read, and the table of contents is nicely designed so that one can readily get an overview of the period and its major issues. This can be a great help as one is figuring out where one wants to start reading. Also we have just added an excellent history by Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Reformation, a History.

For Martin Luther himself, after one has done the Wikipedia-type of preview and wants to go further, the above two history books are good resources. For the 95 Theses, I just found, and have now added to the library, a new book by Martin Marty entitled October 31, 1517, Martin Luther and the Day that Changed the World. Marty’s book gives us the complete posting of the 95 Theses, including Luther’s introduction. Then Marty proceeds to explain some of the Latin expressions (since these were all in Latin) from the point of view of a Lutheran scholar today. Fortunately for us, it is a slim book so the reader cannot get buried too deeply in the theology.  I’m glad.

Thesis #1 is about repentance. Luther has a lot to say about it, in this thesis and in subsequent ones, and so does Marty. It gets a little complicated because repentance has an inner element and an outer action element. Marty walks us though Luther’s several points, one by one. Clearly it is of central importance. And then Luther goes on to “deal” with the pope and with indulgences, very courageously, as we know. The Marty book also has a lot say about some current ongoing efforts to merge Roman Catholic and Protestant theologies, especially Lutheran theology in America. He is enthusiastic about current progress, so this is quite interesting in itself.

Later this year I hope to point out other books we have that pertain to the broader Reformation story.

Rudy Dyck, Librarian


February 2017

The January 9 issue of the Presbyterian Outlook has two articles that I think will interest a lot of Presbyterians: one on our Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C., and one on the new General Assembly commission entitled “The Way Forward.”  For your convenience I have placed copies of these articles in the Narthex. Of course, the magazine itself is avail- able in the magazine rack in the library.

Some years ago the library received the OPW newsletter regularly, thanks to Carol and Art Marshburn, who would pass on their copies, and I would maintain the collection in a binder. I always found interesting news that way.  Last summer Herbert Nelson II left the OPW directorship to become our GA Stated Clerk. Now Jimmie Hawkins, our new OPW director is being intro- duced to the readers of Presbyterian Outlook. Hawkins has been a North Carolina pastor and a youth camp- ground leader, and the story reveals numerous other recent church-related activities of his.

The brand new, 12-member Way Forward Commission started work in December. The article explains how na- tional budget reductions and some hot-issue politics have made it quite necessary to “reinvent” some of the PC(USA)’s goals and strategy for the coming years. It also makes clear that this is not just a study group but a real decision-making body. I especially appreciate how clear and concise much of the reporting is in these two articles.

Rudy Dyck, Librarian




January 2017

The Christian Century is a magazine worth looking at. The library has subscribed to this biweekly periodical for about five years now, and it is still my top choice of peri- odicals we could be subscribing to besides the two Presbyterian ones we get: Presbyterians Today and Presbyterian Outlook.

But is it a worthwhile expenditure, $117 every two years? I have no idea if anyone ever looks at it. Please look at it and give me some feedback.  The latest two or three issues are kept in the Plexiglas pe- riodical rack for general use; older issues

are stacked down below and these are available to be taken and kept.  The latest issue, dated December 7, has reaction to the presidential election, a most thought- ful article about the writings of a martyred Orthodox nun, St. Maria Skobtsova, who died in a gas chamber in 1945, and a story about the “More-With-Less Cookbook” that has been in print for 40 years now. We have the cookbook. Also there are book reviews, some- times three or four and sometimes a dozen or two.

I find interesting articles now and then in this magazine that I copy and place in the Narthex. Your feedback on these would also be helpful.

Rudy Dyck, Librarian



September 2016

Authors Suggest How to Vote with Integrity

When I first saw the ad for this book, I was hooked twice by the title that uses the two phrases “public faith” and “vote with integrity.”  How very timely. 

Perhaps public faith is not a phrase you have run into much.  Neither have I.  But haven’t we been talking about public faith at Covenant when we are exhorted in the benediction following worship to follow our faith through the week?  Doesn’t that include our political action and our voting?  The book I refer to is Public Faith In Action; How to Think Carefully, Engage Wisely, and Vote with Integrity, by Miroslav Volf and Ryan McAnnally-Linz (2016).  Volf is a theology professor at Yale Divinity School and an author many times over.  The two authors are with the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. 

From my initial look at this book I can tell you that it is only 214 pages long, excluding the notes, it has 25 chapters with clear and concise titles, and it speaks quite often about flourishing.  It is also generous with Bible-quote rationales for many of the authors’ points.  And I think I have just scratched the surface. 

Now I am most happy to be putting it into our library.

Rudy Dyck, Librarian