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Coffee with Warren: 3 books for lunch

Since this past spring, my wife Mary Anna has had the custom of concluding our lunches together in a totally engaging way.

Since this past spring, my wife Mary Anna has had the custom of concluding our lunches together in a totally engaging way. While we are still at the table, she applies her gift of oral interpretation to reading to me a few pages from one of our books. So far, she has brought three books to life for me. Let me tell you about them.

She is currently reading to me from Marina Endicott’s 2023 book, The Observer. The former Cochrane resident applies her artistry as a well-informed novelist to the telling of the experiences of Julia and her beloved Hardy in fitting into their new life at his first posting as an RCMP officer, while she becomes editor of a local newspaper. You can just imagine what kinds of emotional experiences they go through, as they pursue a loving relationship while struggling with communication amidst often-dark moments.

The second book Mary Anna read to me was Philip Yancey’s 1997 What’s So Amazing about Grace? In the struggle of love amidst alienation, Yancey relates amazing, true stories of how God’s graciousness far exceeds our worthiness.

But it’s the first of the three books Mary Anna read to me that I’d like to draw special attention to at this turbulent moment in history: Chief Clarence Louie’s 2021 Rez Rules: My Indictment of Canada’s and America’s Systemic Racism against Indigenous Peoples. Louie, long-serving Chief of the Osoyoos Indian Band in south-central British Columbia, prominent economic development leader, and popular public speaker, has articulated in his book not only the history behind many First Nations’ struggles, but lessons he’s learned that bring a healing message to our wider, very broken world.

One point he makes (pp 236-37) focuses on his encounter with Rotary’s 4 Way Test and its implications for bringing about healing in the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation.

“I love the Rotary Club’s “4 Way Test,” he wrote. He had first encountered it on a plaque at the U.S.-Canada border years ago, he said. “It contains a few simple, common-sense rules that have really helped guide me in my decision-making.

“The 4 Way Test… of the things we think, say or do: 1. Is it the Truth? 2. Is it fair to all concerned? 3. Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships? 4. Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?”

And here, although Chief Louie applies this test specifically to life on the Rez, I see his insight universally applicable:

“Leaders have to remember to not make the mistake that so many adults make in believing the hearsay that’s going around. Always ask for the truth. Always say, ‘Hold on, let’s gather up the facts and listen to all sides before we even try to have an opinion, let alone make a decision!’… Only the truth should control your thinking.”


© 2023 Warren Harbeck

[email protected]

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