The Incongruities of Stella Artois and The Church Library, Or Why I Go To An Emergent Church

So the church library is rising from the ashes, finally. It's been held, embryonic, for months now, dissected and preserved in dozens of lumpy cardboard boxes. Pulling them open has revealed, variously, junk and jewels, trash and treasures, from the sublime to the ridiculous. On Saturday night we invited some friends down to the church to open up boxes and decide what to save and what to remove. Which was tricky. But much laud and honor to Raquel and Mark (or The Marv The Marvelous, as he is known in certain circles), for their unerring discernment and unflagging good will.

Stella & Strong's Exhaustive

So there we were, drinking the Stella Artois they brought and going through all these mainly stodgy and respectable books on things like the Vatican II's proclamations, New Testament Greek, and Birds of the Bible.
I found myself thinking, foolishly,"Don't let the anti-Emergent Church people catch us like this!'-With the demon 'likker' in one hand and books on Christian Symbolism in the other.

A Little Church History

Our church is in an interesting situation. Our church was started a few years ago as a sort of sister church-type thing from a large non-denominational box church on the east side of town. The church met in the evenings in the larger church's sanctuary-cum-basketball court (don't even ask) and started looking for it's own building: hopefully closer to downtown, and to the resident university with it's 4,000 students. The church ended up collaborating, for lack of a better word, with an old Presbyterian church that was centered exactly where they wanted to be, with a leadership that had been praying for a way to reach out to the local students, and to use their resources for the mission of Jesus. So, they came together. I should say, we came together, sharing resources, combining services, getting into each other's lives in such a beautifully messy way that we decided to merge. This occurred early in the year. The church took on the name of the younger church from the non-denom. (Vintage Faith Church) and Vintage became Presbyterians. I've never been in this situation before, and I find that I like it. So far. We give to each other different things, things lacking on our own. The Presbyterians give us history, grounding, and organization (apparently they go wild over something called Session, as well as a good long meeting with pie charts). Not forgetting, of course, their wisdom, based on much life experience. I really appreciate that one. We bring a fresh expression of faith, lots of art, music and poetry (yay!) as well as ideas, energy & the post-modern perspective. And, naturally, the largest sampling of pompadours and tattoo sleeves found in any church west of the San Andreas fault line.

I Am A Closet Church Lady

So I'm now the church librarian, which is partly laughable, because for all the reading I do, I'm awfully picky about which books I read; so many of the authors/subjects are unfamiliar to me. And the shelves are virtually swollen with books that have not been checked out since I was first listening to the Thompson Twins and Duran Duran, and pegging my pants. Those are easy to toss. I am a professed fan of fiction, so most of the fiction will stay. There's also some poetry, and a lot of great devotionals. As well as bible commentaries, theology, history and counseling. It's all a little daunting. I got some pastoral people who had some book learnin' to help me go through stuff and decide, so hopefully that will help....

The Hope

The hope is that the library will be used. When it was still functioning in it's old room down the hall, no one knew it was there, and that killed me. The people who spoke up front in the church would never mention it, and the closest I heard of it's existence from the church staff was in regard to "the old library", or "the room that used to be the library", or "that room down the hall, next to the prayer room." It was strange.

I am not alone in this, there's also Audrey the Indomitable (she asked me to call her that). So that makes 2 librarians, a spiffy new paint job, tons of books and about a million groovy bookends. And who knew that an owl could be so well portrayed by a handful of sunflower seeds, corn and mung beans?


I want names of authors/book titles that you think we should include in our newly updated library. I've already asked the Monday Poets to give me poets-any recommendations?Fiction and non. And don't even mention the Left Behind series to me, or Precious Moments, or Chuck Swindoll. Enough!


neal said...

I'd like to recommend a fellow norn irish-er.
Its a book called "How (not) to speak of God" by pete rollins..
I think it's great fun - its the kind of book that make people either go absolutely crazy or "ooooh" and "hmmm".. the perfect book for beer swilling librarians!

Esther Montgomery said...

Well - !

You are bound to have George Herbert (making sure it includes 'Love Bade Me Welcome').

And a good autobiography of Simone Weil would be important to have.

And I would suggest the poems of John Betjeman. Gentle proddings at our pretensions.

And I've been trying to track down a book called (I think) 'Letter to a Lost Enemy'. It is one of the best books ever - about people whose bitter theological divisions ended up binding them together in a powerful but disturbing and inspiring way. (Was it by Monica Furlong? Not certain of that.)

'I and Thou' by Martin Buber? (In a translation that keeps the 'Thou'.)

Middlemarch - George Eliot - how we can be blinded by even the grandest of our aspirations.

A history of ancient Greek mathematics. (This isn't a joke - though I am unable to recommend which one.)

Will you have a DVD library within your book library? Could you have 'The Man Who Sued God?'.


rosa said...

Hooray! Just what I wanted. Books I've never heard of! Thanks for these!

Esther, we will have DVDs!
so the greek mathematics, I am intrigued.
and I've read a few of betjeman, and so far love his style and subject matter.

Mum said...

Next to the garden, what better place to find you than in a library. So glad you have taken this on.
You will add your own certain "thingness" to this project and make it wonderful. Can't wait to browse-

franny said...

Ooh, collection development and maintenance !!

I would suggest Kathleen Norris' "Amazing Grace" and "The Cloister Walk". If you haven't read either, she does a terrific job of fusing prose, Catholic theology, and Presbyterian tradition together.

And maybe "The Essential Kierkegaard", just cos it's fun to type. Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard.

rosa said...

And even more fun to say!

Jon said...

agreed with franny about norris. i'd add lamott and dillard to that as well. make sure you have some buechner and merton.

Esther Montgomery said...

Ah! The book I was trying to remember was 'Lament for a Lost Enemy' - and it is by Una Kroll.

Will there be a place for Charles de Foucauld?


rosa said...

already have something by merton, not sure what, and I'm sure I saw beucner in there,his 'abc's of theology.'

esther-I love how you've displayed my ignorance. (not too hard.) there MIGHT be room for Foucauld, once I've read something by him! thanks to everyone for the interesting array of authors! I suppose we should get some rob bell and other emergenty people...

Esther Montgomery said...

I think you'd be interested in Charles de Foucauld.

He became interested in desert spirituality and went on to found an order -'The Little Brothers (and Sisters) of Jesus'.

They live a simple life of prayer and community (in small groups) sharing the lives of the poorest people in whatever country they live in - and they all have to spend some time of retreat and reflection in desert places.

de Foucauls lived with the Tuareg in the desert. In England, Scotland and France, members of the order work in factories etc.

(They are in other countries too.)



Esther Montgomery said...

Mentioned you in connection with Californian Poppies on my post for 21st April. Hope that's ok.


sarah said...

I vote for Kierkegaard. I am a big fan. I'd like to see some theological historical heavyweights (which we probably already have). Augustine would be great. I'd also love a big, comfy oversized chair that I can sit in for hours and read. Ahh...

Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.