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From Sue Tait, Diocesan Librarian:

How do we consider the challenges ahead, challenges to the church, our congregations, ourselves? Three recent books provide some thought provoking responses. Books written before 2020 can see hopelessly naïve now, speaking of a world that no longer exists. That is not true of all of them of course, as Alice Scannell shows us in her book below. But one of our tasks of the future will be to apply learnings developed in a more predictable and stable world to our lives now and in whatever the future holds. Here are some recent titles to fuel your consideration.

God and the Pandemic: Christian Reflection on the Coronavirus and its Aftermath, by N.T. Wright. Zondervan Reflective, 2020 (261.8 Wri)

Reviewed in October of last year, this is worth mentioning again for the thoughtful reflections on what this all might mean, from the midst of the fray rather than with the distance of hindsight or even months-long experience.

Building Resilience: When There’s No Going Back to the Way Things Were, by Alice Updike Scannell. Forward by Stephanie Spellers. Morehouse Publishing, 2020. (155.24 Sca)

Written to address more than the current pandemic, the book exactly speaks to the unsettled and chaotic nature of these times, and the impossibility of returning to a familiar and unchanging past. This could refer to our world of course, but also our reawakened sensibility to racial and economic injustice, as well as to the deep changes in personal lives through illness, death, and even through joy and opportunity. All come with stress, all require resilience. Scannell offers insight and practical steps to cope with the unknown and deeply changed in our lives. Interestingly, this is not a brand new book. It was self-published in 2017 after a number of years in the writing. Dr. Scannell was a gerontologist, researcher, and editor as well as a priest, focusing her research on how adults adapt to life events. Her focus in that research was on the individual coping with chronic illness, disability and loss, but the same issues are now societal. When Morehouse Publishing picked up the work and republished it this year the title was slightly changed, and an insightful Foreword by Stephanie Spellers was added. In order to avoid title confusion, our copies of that self-published book are now available in the “Sharing the Abundance” materials, and we have purchased several copies of this iteration. Please let me know if you could use one of the earlier ones.

We Shall Be Changed: Questions for the Post-Pandemic Church, Edited by Mark D.W. Edington. Church Publishing, Inc. 2020. (261.8 We)

Gathered from authors around the church, these essays consider the two pandemics of virus and systemic racism, and not only our lives now but at the advent of whatever the new normal might be. Arranged in five “conversations”, these essays are intended for fellowship groups and clergy gatherings as they look at and discuss the challenges ahead, but it could certainly be read profitably by individuals as well. The sections (conversations) each include three or four essays on the topic; authors include Jeffrey Lee, Kelly Brown Douglas, Lizette Larson-Miller, Robert Wright and others.
Each “conversation” is listed with an explanation of what that involves, and these are quoted directly from the book itself.

  • Conversation One: Distancing and deepening – How might we turn this time of distancing into a time of deeper spirituality – and how might we keep that deeper conversation with God in the regathered church? How might the virtual inform – or be – the actual future of the church?
  • Conversation Two: Liturgy and longing – What have we learned from having to create new ways of worship about the worship we have been offering? Are there ideas or themes we should be careful not to lose?
  • Conversation Three: Hard choices and helping hands – What questions about the financial structures and sustainability will emerge from this time of isolation to confront parishes and judicatories? Is self-help the only option?
  • Conversation Four: Inequality, marginalization – and renewal – How can we address constructively the inequality in access to resources within the church laid bare by the variety of responses to the Covid pandemic? What responsibility do well-resourced communities and institutions have in helping poor and marginalized churches keep their communities tended and gathered?
  • Conversation Five: Leadership – Challenge and change – What has the Covid pandemic taught us about the leaders and structures we have – and the leaders and structures we need?

I will be glad to mail you any of these titles. You could reserve them online if you already have an account. However, I would prefer it if you would drop me an email, and if you need to establish an account let me know that as well. The Office of the Bishop is closed as you know, so in person browsing is not an option, but our collection is online ( and I am onsite one day a week, usually Mondays, to mail books that have been requested.

Sue Tait, Librarian
Diocesan Resource Center
Phone: 206-489-7106.

Ask a Librarian: Books for These Times

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