Mixed Media

Men & Their Books: The Canonites; Tri-Cities of West Michigan

In the tri-cities region of West Michigan (Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg), an all-male book club has held monthly meetings at members’ homes since 1981. Membership over the years has included pastors of five denominations, educators, attorneys, physicians, and artists. Four charter members still belong, three have died, and two are on leave of absence.
The club’s founders compiled a nine-page list of books, “The Canon,” under the headings “Novels, Essays, Literary Criticism, Great Books” and “History, Theology, Ethics, Apologetics, Counseling.” The selections favor the classics and the sacred.

A facilitator, usually an expert from a nearby college or seminary, leads each session. The host further facilitates by providing wine and cheese, thereby loosening the members’ tongues toward fruitful discussions. Over the nearly 35 years of our existence, we have worked our way through the Russian, English, and American classics, sometimes more than once. We have read Greek tragedies and poems, Shakespeare’s plays, American poets, history and biography, and an occasional contemporary blockbuster.

Emeritus Calvin professor Ed Ericson has led us on several occasions in the reading and discussion of classic Russian literature. Of significance is the fact that he is a personal friend of the late Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and has written an abridgement of the three-volume Gulag Archipelago at the request and approval of the author.

There are many memorable evenings, not to mention the bottles of wine and cheese-laden crackers we run through by the time the two hours come to an end.

About the Author

Hank Ottens is a retired orthopedic surgeon and an active gardener, photographer, and singer. He attends Second Christian Reformed Church in Grand Haven, Mich.

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