Our Redeemer's Blog

Book (and Music) Recommendations from the Staff

Traveling Mercies

by Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott’s nontraditional journey to faith is unusual and inspiring as someone nontraditional myself, it’s encouraging to hear her story of transition moving through loss into a place of growth. I highly recommend this book. It’s hilarious and profane and funny and she’s an alcoholic who’s a mess and dealing with having a kid when she shouldn’t have had a kid. It’s great. -Pastor Gretchen

Ten Fun Things to Do Before You Die

by Karol Jackowski

I had no expectations for this book when I picked it up on sale. But it light-heartedly punctures our tendency to take ourselves too seriously, and invites us to experience the joy and freedom and humor of faith and living like you’ve got nothing to lose. I’ve never come across anything else like it. The pages turn quickly, but you won’t read it just once…You’ll keep coming back and it will keep working on you — in the most delightful way! -Pastor Kathy

The Shack

by Wm. Paul Young

While Wm. Pauls Young’s “The Shack” may be theologically questionable, it makes ones think about the nature of the trinity in new ways. Our Madonnas book group enjoyed a thorough discussion a few years ago about this book. If you haven’t read it yet, give it a try. -Karen Lee, Traditional Music Director

Tears We Cannot Stop

Michael Eric Dyson

In Tears We Cannot Stop (2017), Dyson, a black Georgetown professor and Baptist preacher, delivers a brutally honest sermon to white America. He argues that continued white indifference to the ongoing suffering of African-Americans not only threatens to destroy black communities, but white communities as well, as our futures–just as our pasts–are inexorably intertwined.  The future of blacks in America is the future of America.

Dyson also challenges white people of conscience; it is up to us to overcome the culture of white supremacy that still lingers in our country. Black people are still living with the vestiges of slavery, reconstruction, and Jim Crow, and white people are still benefiting from the privilege our skin color confers in this society. We must be able to recognize and name this privilege, and support our black brothers and sisters in ways that will help them overcome the disadvantages they face living in a white culture. For too long this burden has been on African Americans like Dyson, and the sad reality is that most of white America is tuning these black voices out.

Sadly, the white ears to whom this book would be most beneficial will probably never read it, resistant as many are to even the concept of “white privilege.” Many argue that they are not privileged because they come from poor backgrounds, have faced significant adversity in their lives, and didn’t have the educational opportunities that typically lead to success in this society. However, Dyson points out through statistical details and personal anecdotes the sad realities black people have to face every day, realities that even the poorest whites do not have to contend. -Don Boelter, Administrator

Heaven and Back

by Mary C. Neal, MD

I remembered how much this book “Heaven and Back” by Mary C. Neal, MD impacted my life.  I read it after my daughter Katie took her life in 2009. I was looking for comfort during my early grieving process.  The book reassured me that there is a heaven and life after death.  This book is a remarkable true story about an orthopaedic surgeon, wife and mother, who “drowned” in a kayak accident during a vacation in southern Chile . While cascading down a waterfall, her kayak became pinned at the  bottom. She was immediately and completely submerged underwater for too long, and as a result, died.  She experienced God’s peace, joy and angels – and back to life again.  Dr. Neal described in detail her feelings and surroundings in heaven, her communication with angels, and her deep sense of sadness when she realized it wasn’t her time.  She shares the captivating experience of her modern-day miracle.  It is an inspirational spiritual journey that I can definitely relate to and it uplifted my spirits at the time. -Nancy OldenKamp, Welcoming Minister

Do Not Lose Heart, We Are Made for These Times

by Dr. Clarissa Pinkole Estes

While not a book, my recommendation is a letter written by Dr. Clarissa Pinkole Estes titled: “Do Not Lose Heart, We Were Made for These Times”. Her words are both a balm and an igniting fire for me. I can’t even try to describe it – I’ll just offer this quote and invite you to read her words for yourself.

“When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But…that is not what great ships are built for.” –Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Here’s a link to the letter: tinyurl.com/z653r5f

-Cara Kiggins, Social Justice Coordinator

“Hope” and “Let It Be”

by Superchic[k]

When I’m going through emotional times, I usually turn to music to find comfort. These two songs by Superchic[k] are a couple of my go-to songs when life feels heavy. They remind me to let go and allow God to carry me through to the next step of my journey on this earth. -Jonath Ochs, Communications Coordinator