“Canon Press books to the right of them.
Canon Press books to the left of them.
Canon Press books to the front of them
Volleyed and thundered
Boldly they publish and sell
Into the eyes of their readers
Into the minds of their flock
Canon Press’s hundreds.”
I have acquired and read quite a few books from Canon Press over the years. In fact, I even wrote introductions to the four reprints of Jacob Abbott biographies that Canon published several years ago. (Alas, the reprinting venture was supposed to encompass some twenty or more of Abbott’s works, but it stalled out at four.) Many aspects of my life–church work, classical Christian education, teaching literature, teaching history, teaching theology, home life, and more–have been impacted by the wide, fun, and amazing array of books that Canon has provided the Christian community for years. In this age of many small publishing ventures, Canon Press has had a greater than expected impact from a lesser known small publisher located far from the historic centers of book publishing. By that, I mean that Moscow, Idaho isn’t found to be as prominent as New York, New York or Boston, Massachusetts in the history of book productions.
This past summer, I think, I received a parcel of new and interesting books from Canon and the assignment of reading and reviewing them. Might I suggest that everything that has happened or was supposed to happen in 2020 has been a bit, at least a bit, off the mark. So, I read, but did not post reviews. With upheavals in our home (due to water damage from a heavy rain in the summer), the disruption of my school office (due to the closing of our school), and the breakdown of law and order amongst my heavy laden bookshelves, I am not even sure where some of the books are.
But let me reconstruct the scene of the crimes. Crimes in this case meaning my failed postings of reviews.
This book was a case of love at first sight. George Herbert has long been a favorite poet. It is hard to find a Herbert poem that is not first rate. While I was familiar with the fact that Herbert was a pastor and a poet and had written a poem called “The Temple,” I was not aware of how brief his life was and that this collection was his only collection of poems.
Now if a book of poetry is not appealing to you, I suggest that you seek help immediately. Go to the woods and without letting anyone hear you, voice every objection you have to reading poetry, reading it regularly, and reading it devotedly. After that, get this book and start reading slowly. If a poem’s meaning or richness eludes you, don’t fret; rather, just keep reading. Poetry is often the calculus of literature. By that I mean that it is not always easy. And don’t think that a poem is just a riddle or a problem to be solves. Poetry entails thought, re-readings, interpretation, revision of thoughts and interpretation, nuances, depth, and enlightenment.
Notice that this book has a World War I image on the cover. One might think that the cover would be better fitted to a collection of World War I poetry (and I have quite a few of those). The cover is intentionally calling attention to Herbert’s poem “Artillery.” This is one of his best known poems. And this complete collection contains both the “top hits” as well as the “B side” poems of Herbert.
Notice also that this book is part of the Christian Heritage Series. Canon is producing a series of books especially designed for Christian school students and home schooling students. The great classics of Western Culture brain robbery means that many of us who are parents and teachers are unfamiliar or very slightly familiar with many of these works. Christian education is educating a whole generation of Christian parents who are embarrassed at what their kids are learning in contrast to what they/we did not learn.
This series includes the following works:
Calvin’s Institutes, books 1-4.
Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen
Lectures to My Students by Charles H. Spurgeon
Lex, Rex: The Law and the King by Samuel Rutherford
Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton
Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards
The Bondage of the Will by Jonathan Edwards
The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs
Thoughts for Young Men by J. C. Ryle
Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos: A Defense of Liberty Against Tyrants by Junius Brutus
And of course, The Temple by George Herbert
While most of these books have been published by others along the way, this series provides some uniformly and creatively covered, relatively inexpensive, and easily acquired editions of these works.
These kinds of lists and publishing ventures make me ashamed. Here I stand, covered with college credit hours and decades of teaching experience, but bereft of the knowledge and content of many of the books above. Edge that shallow literature textbook aside and delve into these books.
A review of these titles would be a good course of study for pastors and teachers. Inquiries into the content would be good for job interviews with such. Start where you are and be patient. (Don’t be quite so patient with your own kids however. They can read and master these books.) If you were only to get a couple of them read, that is progress. Start with Herbert’s The Temple.
More books and discussions regarding Canon Press will come later.