What is the FPCH Staff Reading%3F

What is the FPCH Staff Reading?

Author: Anne Vial
June 04, 2020

Whether we make it to the beach this summer or are still hunkered down at home, nothing beats reaching for a good book to help us reflect, to rouse our spirits, to give us a laugh, or to make us feel connected to worlds nearby and far away. With the simple instruction “Tell us what you’re reading,” the FPCH staff has shared books they are studying or relaxing with, and now we share them with you.

Nancy Ruth Wainwright, Director of Children’s Choirs, answered the call first, so I’ll begin with her. In her first response, Nancy Ruth said, “I am presently reading  Deception Point by Dan Brown and have just finished  Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen (for the 15th or 20th time – I love this book, especially for a few minutes’ reading before sleeping).” Before all the other responses were in, she’d finished Dan Brown and moved onto My Grandfather’s Blessing, also by Rachel Remen, and is rereading Louise Penny’s mystery series featuring Chief Inspector Gamache.

I, Anne Vial, Office Administrator, have also returned to Louise Penny’s mysteries, using the stay-at-home order as an excuse to start the series over from the beginning. The stories are surprisingly thoughtful; God even shows up a few times. I am also rereading Foucault’s Pendulum, a novel by Umberto Eco. Eco spreads philosophy and arcane knowledge of the occult thickly onto a plot that bears a slight resemblance to The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown.

In addition to wading through reams of regulations and recommendations in response to COVID-19, Barb Sewell, longtime Director of the First Presbyterian Preschool, is reading Your Perfect Year by Charlotte Lucas. What happens when a middle-aged businessman starts following instructions in the diary of an unknown stranger? Barb will have to let us know!

Marisa McGovern, who is taking on the directorship of the Preschool as Barb transitions into retirement, is a busy mom with not much downtime for her own reading. She says, “my current reading life seems to be consumed by read-alouds to my children and then articles, news reports, recommendations and guidelines.” She has recently read a New York Times article titled “Navigating the Wilds of Maternal Love,” written by her friend Maggie Master. Marisa said, “In these challenging times, more than ever, the power of maternal love is recognized.” Marisa sent a wonderful list of her kids’ read-alouds – ask her for recommendations! I am glad to hear that her sixth grader is devouring the Harry Potter series.

There can never be too much Harry Potter in your life, agrees our Director of Youth and Family Ministries, Gabrielle Heimerling. Gab has just finished rereading the series. On her nightstand, she also has a truly eclectic set of books to consume: The Whurl Story Bible, Autism Discussion Pages, books on Enneagram personality mapping, and some good solid fiction, including The Furies by Katie Lowe and novels by the always refreshing Jane Austen. From the sound of things, she’ll need another nightstand soon.

Ed Hess, Community Caseworker, is reading history. For political history, he’s got Michael Beschloss’s Presidents of War, covering U.S. leadership from 1807 through the Vietnam War. For cultural history, Ed is reading Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young by David Browne. He didn’t say so, but I’d bet Ed is also listening to that band’s songs, which famously comment on the unsettled times of the late ‘60s and ‘70s.

I told Minister of Music Peter Leibensperger that I counted a musical score as a book, and he wrote the following: “Right now I found myself returning to the score of Gustav Mahler's Kindertotenlieder, and listening primarily to the first movement, Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgeh'n. This piece is filled with anguish and profound pain as you hear a parent who lost their child during the night try in vain to find comfort in the rising sun. I hear it as an expression of the collective pain that we are all feeling right now.” Follow Peter’s links to a recording of Mahler’s piece: Piano Reduction/Recording, a translation of the text: Translation, and Peter's own analysis of the music: Analysis.

Many of us need the comfort of music right now. Art and beauty, too. You can tell from Organist Mark Cole’s list that he is finding beauty and peace in his garden. His book list: A Way to Garden, by Margaret Roach; On Flowers, by Amy Merrick; Secret Houses of the Cotswolds, by Jeremy Musson; Nature into Art (The Gardens of Wave Hill), by Thomas Christopher; The New American Herbal, by Stephen Orr; and On Garden Style, by Bunny Williams. Mark clearly comes indoors sometimes where he is reading Transforming Paris (The Life and Labors of Baron Haussmann), by David P. Jordan; The Other Side of the Coin (The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe), by Angela Kelly; and The Little French Bistro, by Nina George.

I happen to know that Financial Secretary Kris Bean is also spending time in her garden. But she finds time for reading, too. Her choice right now is Last Day by Luanne Rice. The novel satisfies her preference for crime and mystery stories. This book has all that and good family drama, too.

Rebecca Mannion, Receptionist, has a good balance of thoughtful and escapist in her reading choices. She wrote in that she is reading, “The Meaning of Marriage, by Timothy Keller – Pastor Timothy Keller uses passages from the Bible to explain the principles of marriage; and The Stranger, by Harlen Corban – a crime thriller that focuses on the secrets people keep and the strange ways they react when they think those secrets might be exposed.”

Our newest staff member, Pastor Nikki Passante, is fitting some challenging and thoughtful reading in between Zoom meetings. Nikki is rereading The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and The Story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Radical Integrity, by Michael Van Dyke. We look forward to benefitting from Nikki’s ruminations on the faith of a man committed to bringing light into truly dark times.



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