Calgary Reads Big Book Sale

This is our family's fourth time attending the frenetic Calgary Reads Big Book Sale in the 7 years living in Calgary and I think it will need to become an annual tradition. I met my family there after work. They spent the day downtown already for the Children's Festival.

I have to be very careful not to binge purchase as there are so many books I would love to have on my book shelves. I even put 2 selected books back making my count 11. All were $3 each except my collectible Tolstoy volume which was $8.

For me:

  • Something Beautiful for God: The Classic Account of Mother Teresa's Journey into Compassion (Malcolm Muggeridge)
  • Thoughts and Meditations (Kahlil Gibran)
  • Glimpsing the Face of God: The Search for Meaning in the Universe (Alistair McGrath)
  • Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John & the Praying Imagination (Eugene H Peterson)
  • Can You Hear Me? Tuning in to the God who Speaks (Brad Jersak)
  • Becoming Human (Jean Vanier)
  • The Imitation fo Christ (Thomas À Kempis)
  • Stories and Legends (Leo Tolstoy)
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Jean-Dominique Bauby)
  • Life After God (Douglas Coupland)
  • I Am America (and So Can You!) (Stephen Colbert)

I'm sure you can discern my penchant for books on Christian Spirituality.

My family got in on the action too. Blaise was wiped out from the day so he only had the energy to hunt down three books. He is by far the family's most prolific reader. I think he passed me in number of books read before he turned 8. My son carefully picked out 2 books by Jean Little, a reknown Canadian author and one by Gary Paulson, author of a book he recently read and loved called Hatchet.

Acadia is also careful. She's into Bible stories (like her papa) and dogs (not like her papa or her mama).

Amber cost us the least. I think she should have gotten more books. She uses the library better than me.

Brew 10: Chocolate Hazelnut Porter

How could I not make a beer called chocolate hazelnut porter? From the Brewing Classic Styles:

Grain Bill:
    11.5 lbs Canadian 2-Row (1.5-2.1°L)
    1.5 lbs Munich (6-10°L)
    1 lb Crystal Light (40°L)
    1 lb Crystal Medium (75°L)
    0.75 lb Chocolate Malt (450-500°L)
    0.5 lb Black Malt [black patent] (500-600°L)
2 oz East Kent Goldings (3.4%)
2 oz Willamette (4.7%)
American Ale (Wyeast 1056)
0.5 lb of cocoa powder at end of boil
15 ml Hazelnut Extract at bottling
3 1/2 hours last night after work and I was done in time to watch some TV with Amber. I enjoyed some homebrew witbier during the boil.


Hockey Team Allegiances

The great Edmonton Oiler years in the last half of the 1980s were the milieu in which I developed a keen interest in watching hockey. From grades 5-9, I faithfully memorized the players names, numbers and stats. In junior high, several of us would surround the newspaper in the library and check the scores from the previous night's games - many of which couldn't be published in time as the games finished after the paper's deadline (3 or 4 time zones later). We collected Upper Deck, O Pee Chee, Score, Pro-Set hockey cards and poured over the Beckett price lists to see if we had any valuable cards (we didn't). I got to watch the odd Oilers game when they played the Canadiens or Leafs or Bruins since they were closer to our time zone, but mostly it would be in the morning sports news highlights that I would catch the cool goals.

My interest in hockey faded though high school and college, just as the skill and success of the Edmonton Oilers faded too. Once I entered the work force, I discovered the Memorial Cup and World Junior Championships and even perked up when Edmonton leapt into the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006.

The last couple years, I have begun watching the Montreal Canadiens. Their fast style of play, amazing goal tending, and deep heritage have stirred a little bit of that junior high boy that is still left in me. The Habs have shown amazing team work in the regular season and this year finished second overall. Last night they lost their bid for the cup in the quarter final, but last year they made it to the semi-final.

Last night Blaise stopped watching the game after the second period because he was bored. I can see why - the Habs were losing, not much going on outside the neutral zone, hard to tell who the players are.

So why was I glued to the screen? I think there is a deep desire for victory, even a proxy victory through tough, hard working, highly skilled men. I think there is a value in elevating the excellent within your tribe and celebrating their highly developed skill. I think it should inspire and encourage others in that same tribe toward excellence in their fields.


Book Review: The Case for the Psalms (NT Wright)

I remember hearing in a podcast of Thomas Hopko (Speaking the Truth in Love) about how at one point in history, bishops were expected to have memorized the entire catalog of Psalms (all 150 of them) in order to be ordained as a bishop. In fact it may have been just to enter the priesthood. I have to confess that I have never been into Psalms. I found most of them repetitive, irrelevant, and not as engaging as the gospels, Old Testament narratives, or Paul's letters. So, while I didn't avoid them deliberately, I didn't exactly seek them out. That has now changed.

Anglican New Testament scholar N. T. Wright makes his case for the Psalms in this small and easy to read book. He accurately points out that the biblical psalms have been drifting out of western Christianity's daily life and church life through the introduction of new choruses and by eliminating the liturgy. I would add that most personal devotional books also don't have you singing Old Testament psalms either. Wright points out that we have become impoverished greatly by this omission from our faith.

In essence, Wright gives us context as to why Psalms were so elemental to early Christians, to 1st century Jewish culture and to Jesus himself. The primary features of the Psalms time, space and matter as they relate to the Kingdom of God.

The psalmists and singers of the psalms look forward to the time when God's kingdom would be established on earth, but they also hearken back to the days when God delivered them and often lament the great peril they are suffering now. Time ends up folding, combining the lament with remembrance and promise.

A major theme in the Psalms is God coming to tabernacle (or set up residence) among His people. This is characterized mostly through the temple in Jerusalem, that Holy Mountain. But then, without a clear understanding of Kingdom theology, one might consider a literal establishment of Israel's kingdom - a real belief among some Evangelicals. All we have to do is refer to God taking up resident in our lives to now see ourselves as that Temple the Psalms celebrate as God's space. God now lives with us.

Finally, matter matters to God. The earth itself proclaims the glory of God. Jesus mentions something about this when he enters Jerusalem on a donkey on Palm Sunday if you recall. When we read/sing the psalms, we join with all creation in praising God and worship God and looking forward to ultimate redemption.

I lead my first class of the day in a 10 minute devotion which includes 8-12 verses from a psalm. I have been struck repeatedly since having begun and subsequently finishing this book that the truths Wright outlines leap from the couplets. I am far more aware of how each verse points toward the kingdom of heaven (now and not yet) which is the reign of Jesus.

I am now challenged to begin the memorizing and singing of the psalms to bring them into a more central part of my life. They point to Jesus, so this will make Jesus even more central too.