St. John’s Book Review Blog

Monthly book reviews and recommendations from staff and parishioners.

Contact Carrie at [email protected] if you have a book you would love to share with the St. John’s Family.

Waging Peace – One Soldier’s Story of Putting Love First

Diana Oestrich is a soldier turned peacemaker and author of Waging Peace.

Diana, a combat medic in the Army National Guard, enlisted like both her parents before her. But when she was commanded to run over an Iraqi child to keep her convoy rolling and keep her battle buddies safe, she was confronted with a choice she never thought she’d have to make.

Torn between God’s call to love her enemy and her country’s command to be willing to kill, Diana chose to wage peace in a place of war. For the remainder of her tour of duty, Diana sought to be a peacemaker–leading to an unlikely and beautiful friendship with an Iraqi family. A beautiful and gut-wrenching memoir, Waging Peace exposes the false divide between loving our country and living out our faith’s call to love our enemies–whether we perceive our enemy as the neighbor with an opposing political viewpoint, the clerk wearing a head-covering, or the refugee from a war-torn country. By showing that us-versus-them is a false choice, this book will inspire each of us to choose love over fear.

Diana has appeared on multiple podcasts and blogs discussing Justice, faith, peacemaking, refugees, anti-racism, activism with kids and how her posture of love shapes how she parents and shows up for her neighbors.

Diana, her partner Jake and their two sons, Bridger and Zelalem live along the shores of Lake Superior on Ojibwe land. They are an Ethiopian-American family woven together through adoption and a shared love for bad jokes and competitive card games.

Rona has two copies available to borrow, or you may purchase through your favorite bookstore.

Stands Before his People: Enmegahbowh and the Ojibwe

Stands Before his People: Enmegahbowh and the Ojibwe

By Verne Pickering and Stephen Schaitberger

Published by Beaver’s Pond Press, copyright 2021

Step back in time to the mid- Nineteenth Century. Imagine the flowing rivers, thousands of lakes, and extensive forests of Eastern and Northern Minnesota, spreading without borders east into Wisconsin and Michigan and north into Canada.

In our day, rivers, lakes and forests  are marked on maps amid roads, towns and borders. In those days, travel was made on foot via trails through forests and meadows, and by canoe on rivers and lakes.  Here lived the Ojibwe peoples.

Through these lands and along rivers and lakes traveled Enmegahbowh, born about 1813 to an Anishinaabe chief and his wife in Ontario, of a band of Mississauga Ojibwe. Named by his grandfather, Enmegahbowh means “He stands before his people.” During his teens, Enmegahbowd was educated in English and Ojibwe at a mission school operated by the Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada.

During a remarkable life, Enmegahbowh served as a missionary teacher, first with the Methodists, and then later was ordained as an Episcopal priest. He truly stood before his people,  advocating for them, and caring for their spiritual and basic needs; his story intertwines with the history of federal policy from before 1830 into the early Twentieth Century.

Stands Before his People is organized as a history of major events and treaties affecting the native peoples in Minnesota, drawing frequently on the  reflections of Enmegahbowh and other contemporary primary sources.

Much of what is known about Enmegahbowh comes from his own hand, written as letters in the years shortly before his death in 1903.  Writing in his eighties, his mature reflections describe  times of hope, of sadness and tragedy and betrayal, but through all, compassion, wisdom, and deep faith.

Ultimately this is a compelling story of Enmegahbowh and his family, and his courage in facing and navigating the challenges faced by the Ojibwe during the Nineteenth Century. Reading Stands Before His People draws us into his world; not all is comfortable to read, but in doing so we can gain wisdom for the challenges of our own day.

Michael Lovett, White Bear Lake, (September 2021)