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The Chat with Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo

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This week we’re in conversation with political trailblazer Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo, whose memoir, The Queer Evangelist, (Wilfrid Laurier University Press) was published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press this spring.

Quill & Quire says, “At a time when many people identify as spiritual but struggle to translate belief to the real world, DiNovo’s experiences and insights provide us with a divinely inspired practical purpose.”

Cheri DiNovo grew up in Toronto in a rooming house owned by her parents and spent time on the streets as a teenager, leading her to social activism. Formerly a member of the Ontario Legislative Assembly, she is host of The Radical Reverend Show, and Minister at Trinity St. Paul's Centre for Faith Justice and the Arts. Her book Qu(e)erying Evangelism: Growing a Community from the Outside In won the Lambda award in 2005. She has won numerous awards for her activism and is a Member of the Order of Canada.

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Trevor Corkum: The Queer Evangelist tells the story of your rise as a young activist to your storied career in politics, w …

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The Chat with Governor General's Literary Award Winner Joan Thomas

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Joan Thomas has won this year’s Governor General’s Award for Fiction for her novel Five Wives.

According to the jury, “In Five Wives, Thomas delivers a compelling and powerful story about an encounter that alters the lives of those involved for generations. Set in a world where Indigenous peoples, missionaries, and the forces of global capitalism collide, Thomas’s tale provides a nuanced examination of Operation Auca—a historical event that took place in Ecuador in 1956. This book raises important questions about religious fervour, autonomy and legacies of violence. Ambitiously conceived and beautifully written, this book is a masterful achievement.” 

Joan Thomas is the author of four novels: Five Wives, The Opening Sky, Curiosity, and Reading by Lightning. Her work has won the Amazon First Novel Award, a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the McNally Robinson Prize. Additionally, it has been nominated for the Giller Prize, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and a previous Governor General’s Literary Award. In 2014, Thomas was the recipient of the Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Prize for a writer in mid-career. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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THE CHAT WITH JOAN THOMAS

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Liz Harmer: Books That Ask the Big Questions

The Amateurs is Liz Harmer's debut novel, set in a not-too-distant future where most of the human population has disappeared via Ports, doorways to other times and alternate universes from which travellers should theoretically be able to return—except that no one comes back. Are they unwilling to? Are they unable? Told from the perspective of a small group of people who've remained and created a community in the remains of the city of Hamilton, Ontario, and also from that of a man who has spent his career working for the massive corporate entity that built the Ports, The Amateurs grapples with questions like, "what are we here for?", "how do we know what's real and what isn't?", and "what exactly is the nature of love?". In this list, Harmer suggests other great reads that consider similar ideas.  

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This offbeat list of novels and one short story collection include a few speculative works like mine, a few dystopias, an interest in the nature of God and of the human, and, especially, most of them, lovingly rendered character and place.

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Salt Fish …

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Andrew Pyper: Outsiders, Inner Demons, and Satan's Charms

Andrew Pyper, author of The Demonologist (Simon & Schuster, 2013).

Andrew Pyper grew up in Stratford, ON. The only student from his high school to attend university out of province, he landed at McGill, pursued English Lit, and completed a Master's degree before deciding to put academia aside for practical concerns—it was time to get a job. He turned to law and was called to the bar when for completely unpractical reasons he began to write what would become his first, highly acclaimed novel, Lost Girls. Pyper embarked on a curious though successful trajectory: he was a literary writer moving in the direction of genre fiction. Now, with The Demonologist (Simon & Schuster), Pyper makes his first unabashed leap into horror writing. But he doesn't leave his lit cred far behind.

Julie Wilson: In The Demonologist, your protagonist, Professor David Ullman, is an expert on Milton's Paradise Lost, described in your novel as "blank verse that seemed to defend the indefensible," which is great. How did you prep to become as familiar with Paradise Lost as Ullman?

Andrew Pyper: I had read Paradise Lost with great haste the night before the exam for some Intro to Literature course in first year university. In other words, I barely read it at all. But I took with me the impression left by the star of the show (intended or otherwise), namely Sa …

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Gretta Vosper on spirituality vs. religion, prayer as placebo, and how to become an agent for change.

Gretta Vosper, author of Amen and With or Without God

Gretta Vosper has been in the spotlight since founding the Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity in 2004. Her first book, With or Without God: Why the Way We Live is More Important that What We Believe, quickly became a national bestseller (and one of Amazon's "Top 25 Books that Caused a Commotion") and attracted media attention and debate across the country. Met with both acclaim and vitriol by those inside and outside the church, the book challenges the clergy’s silence on contemporary scholarship, arguing that people need to know the Bible is not the authoritative word of God for all time. Having twice narrowly avoided heresy trials, Gretta continues to lead West Hill United—"a progressive community of faith growing out of the Christian tradition"—in Scarborough, Ontario. In 2009, Gretta was named one of the Most Compelling Women in Canada by More Magazine. Amen: What Prayer Can Mean in a World Beyond Belief is her latest book (HarperCollins Canada). Visit her at www.GrettaVosper.ca.

Julie Wilson: From your site: I think it is high time we stopped feeding the acrimony between atheists and people of any faith tradition and start looking at the values that lie at the heart of whatever it is we believe. If those values are grounded in a respect for th …

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