Friday Fun(ny)


A classmate and I were walking past a poster in our school hallway. It featured a photo of Einstein with the words ‘Even Einstein Read Books.”

My friend was amazed: ‘I didn’t know Einstein’s first name was Evan.’

Found and read in a recent issue of Reader’s Digest while waiting at my dad’s physical therapy session this week. I simply couldn’t resist sharing it with you. 🙂

Published in: on January 12, 2018 at 10:10 PM  Leave a Comment  

Winter Has Arrived in West Michigan! (Updated with Lake Michigan Pictures)


No doubt those outside of Michigan have heard about the fast, furious, and frigid winter that has descended on us here in West Michigan. After a beautiful, mild, drawn-out Fall, winter came with a flourish in mid-December and has not let up yet – although the hope of a “January thaw” is in the forecast for next week.


These are pictures taken back and front of our home last weekend when we received over a foot of lake-effect snow in two days. And this week on top of 8-10 inches of fresh snow, it has been bitter cold – -3 (F) this morning and wind-chills below 0 (F) all day yesterday and today – and colder yet tonight!


But, as you can see, there is a marvelous beauty that is revealed in God’s winter work. Truly, He makes a wonderland of white that covers all the death and decay underneath and around us. What a gospel picture!


And His creatures all look to Him for food – the deer and wild turkeys have been coming close at Seminary, poking around in the landscape for food (where are those luscious hostas?!) – or visiting Prof .Cammenga’s bird feeders for free seed.



How do we snow-stricken, frozen-chosen Michiganders cope? Why, we get out and enjoy the snow, of course! Monday, a few brave souls in our family – including some grandkids for the first time – went cross-country skiing at Pigeon Creek Park west of us. It was cold but was it ever beautiful in the woods and along the creek!



And if one really wants to have fun, do some backyard ice bowling! [This video appeared on MLive this week.] See what you are missing!

Late this (Saturday) afternoon my wife and I went out to Holland State Park to see Lake Michigan. Word was that the ice formations were amazing, so we decided to check things out, partly because the time-frame for seeing ice caves, etc. can be so short. Though we have seen icier conditions, it was still good. Here are a few pictures I took with my phone.






Most Expensive Book Sales in 2017 – Abe Books

As is their custom this time of year, the people at AbeBooks have posted their most expensive book sales for 2017. You might be surprised to see what led the way.

This is the introduction they give to their list:

Literary icon J.D. Salinger wears the crown as AbeBooks’s most expensive sale of the year. The American author scores extra points for appearing again at number 11. A signed poster – not a book – comes in at number two. Notable sales also included Dali and Picasso, three helpings of wizards and orcs, some vicious plants causing mayhem, ruins in the Middle East, a catcher (and not the baseball variety), and a book containing the first mention of ‘I think, therefore I am’. It was another great year for collectors.

And this is the first title – check out the rest at the link above!

1. Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger – $22,500
A unique edition of Salinger’s second work, this was Little Brown & Company’s only file copy. The publisher’s penciled word count calculations (61,823) and pasted label stating ‘Sample – return to manufacturing department’ can be seen on the rear free endpaper.

Publisher’s file copy of Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger

Do you have a rare edition of a classic lying around the house? Or maybe you are on the prowl at the local thrift stores? That unique item could catch you thousands!

Published in: on December 29, 2017 at 6:57 AM  Leave a Comment  

Friday Fun Items: Christmas Book Tree and Digitizing in 2017

We have highlighted book Christmas trees here before, but a friend recently sent me this photo of a book display found currently at the Grand Rapids (MI) Public Library.


Our second feature on this Friday is another Atlas Obscura item (these folks feature a lot of great book and archive items!). This week (Dec.15, 2017) they did an article on the digitizing of various archive materials in 2017, which included valuable items added to the National Archives, the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, and the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

Here’s the introduction and the link to the post, as well as the coolest picture they included, in my estimation. I love those medieval illuminated books (and this is a medical manual) – real works of art!

What do a 1,275-foot painting, a 1958 photograph of Carrie Fisher joining a Brownie troop, and an illuminated manuscript by a famed medieval surgeon all have in common? As of this year, all are newly and freely accessible online (provided that continues to mean anything)—via the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Los Angeles Public Library, and New York Academy of Medicine, respectively.

These efforts are just a drop in the digital ocean: In 2017 alone, the National Archives added 17.1 million digital files (texts, images, sound recordings, and films) to its online catalog. When Atlas Obscura asked Miriam Kleinman, their Program Director for Public Affairs, for a highlight from the year, the digitization team was spoiled for choice. “Having to pick one,” they reported, “is like picking your favorite child.”

From these archives and others, Atlas Obscura has a selection of items that made their digital debuts this year.

Published in: on December 22, 2017 at 3:26 PM  Leave a Comment  

Coasting on Beulah Hill


The east hill was equally steep but less dangerous because there was no town at the foot of it. There was a railroad crossing there, to be sure, but the Ann Arbor railroad did not run many trains and we had a fair idea of the schedules, and there were massive [snow] drifts along both sides of the highway in case one had to bail out in a hurry. When a bobsled ran into of these drifts at high speed there was always a hilarious mix-up; the sled would come to a most abrupt stop and the five or six occupants would be catapulted off into the snow, landing head downward as likely as not.

One time Robert and I took our mother down this hill, because she had never gone coasting and wanted to see what it was like. Just as we went down the steepest part, whirling along at a prodigious clip, she concluded that it was nothing she wanted any more of and she firmly ordered: ‘Robert! Robert, stop it!’ We were dutiful sons and always did what our parents told us to do, so Robert obediently guided the sled into a deep drift. As anyone but Mother would have known, the sled stopped but its passengers did not. Mother, who was no lightweight, shot through the air like a rocketing partridge, going completely over Robert’s head and coming down wrong-end up in five feet of powdery snow. It took us several minutes to get her out, because she was laughing so hard that she was unable to act in her own behalf. I do not recall that she ever went coasting again.

waiting-train-catton-1987Taken from Bruce Catton’s third essay “In the Morning at the Junction” in the book Waiting for the Morning Train: An American Boyhood (Detroit: Wayne State Univ. Press, 1987), pp.60–61.

This was one of those sections of a book when you laugh out loud yourself and then have to read it to someone else to share the good laugh. That was my experience last week when I read this. And with winter firmly in place here in West Michigan at present, and plenty of children taking up coasting for a new season, it seemed the perfect story to post for our “Friday fun’ this week.

Published in: on December 15, 2017 at 10:18 PM  Leave a Comment  

Sem Scenes – November/December 2017

On this Friday, for fun, let’s take a look around and see what has been happening at the PRC Seminary of late (this Fall of 2017).

An early Fall picture of seminary front.

I have been taking a few pictures of people and things, so here you go!

Sunset on Wednesday night this week.

The next morning – this Thursday after first snowfall of the new season.

Mrs. Judi Doezema’s Christmas cactus (forefront) and Mandevilla plant (background) – taken this week.


One of our students (Jacob Maatman) playing the pump organ at seminary.
Note: He loves good Luther hymns and Genevan Psalms as well as classical pieces.


We enjoyed a special visitor from the Netherlands this week (Cees Van Steenselen), who sat in on classes at seminary, visited two of our Christian schools, and whom I took downtown Grand Rapids by the river for a short (cold!) stay by the fish ladder.

A certain new professor excited about his new office.
Don’t worry, we are teaching him how to use his furniture properly.


Sometimes we get “friendly” visitors outside the doors whom we don’t want to come inside (though they have in the past – just ask Rev. R. Barnhill, our former snake-lover!).

Finally, a book plate I recently came across in one of the Letis books. As we enter the winter season, one to make us long for Spring.

Published in: on December 8, 2017 at 2:17 PM  Leave a Comment  

Bright Book Friday Sales 2017

Keepcalm smell booksYes, I am going back to my new name for “Black Friday” sales. Today starts the “bright book sales” event! And yes, it has been going on for hours already, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still get some good book deals – today and through the weekend (not the Lord’s Day, of course). is the site to go to keep up with all the Christian book sales taking place today and “Cyber Monday.” This is how Challies introduces his list:

While there are many places you can go today to find deals on electronics and other big-ticket items, I like to provide a place for Christian retailers to make their deals known to Christians who are trying to kick-start their Christmas shopping. I will update this list regularly throughout the weekend, so check back often. Be sure to check back on Monday for Cyber Monday deals.

And here are a few I have selected from his list to highlight:

Ligonier Ministries has more than 80 items on sale today.

Reformation Heritage Books
Reformation Heritage Books has Thanksgiving Specials (which to me sound suspiciously like Black Friday specials). There’s a pretty good list of books and Bibles to sort through there.

Westminster Books
There are lots of good deals at Westminster Books, most of them from Crossway. They include books and Bibles, as you might expect. Highlights: The Whole Christ, ESV Study Bible, 12 Ways Your iPhone Is Changing You, This Changes Everything, etc.

Plus, do not forget that the PRC Seminary Bookstore also has some great deals (at all times!) on new and used books, including RFPA books. Plus, we have the latest Hope Heralds CD (2017, as well as previous years) and Voices of Victory (quartet) CDs, including their new one (2016, and previous years). Come on in!

Published in: on November 24, 2017 at 2:00 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Last Printer on Printers Row | Chicago magazine

Chicago was once the publishing capital of the country. If it wasn’t for a single beer in 1982, there wouldn’t be any namesake businesses in this South Loop district anymore.

This interesting story caught my eye when it first appeared in one of my book publishing news emails back in September of this year. That’s because I knew Chicago’s history as the publishing center of the U.S. a 100 years ago (Yes, not New York, but Chicago), and because I had attended a couple of times the Printers Row Book Festival, held annually out in the streets where the printers operated.

But I didn’t realize how deep the demise of the industry was, though I should have guessed it. While many of the major printers moved out, one company held on. Here is that story. I quote the first few paragraphs; the rest may be found at the link below.

A century ago, Chicago was the publishing capital of the country. It all started when the man who changed the printing industry forever—Ottmar Merganthaler, the German inventor of the Linotype machine—moved here in 1886 and set up shop a few blocks from Dearborn Station, at the intersection of Polk and Dearborn. Over the next 30 years, the neighborhood went from vice district to Printers Row, home of book publishers like M.A. Donohue & Co., magazine and catalog printers like R.R. Donnelley and Sons, and even mapmakers like Rand McNally.

Today, you can still see the legacy of these paper giants in the neighborhood’s architecture—narrow blocks and wide windows for maximum sunlight, books hidden in the ornamentation of early Chicago School skyscrapers, and terra cotta murals depicting the history of the printing press. But after printing technology changed in the 1950s, and sprawling factory floors were needed to house automated press machines, all of the printers fled Printers Row for the suburbs.

Well, all except for one. And if it wasn’t for a single beer in 1982, they would have left, too.

Source: The Last Printer on Printers Row | Chicago magazine | Politics & City Life September 2017

Published in: on November 17, 2017 at 12:16 PM  Leave a Comment  

PRC Seminary – New Building! 1973-74

Besides assisting me in the PRC Seminary library, Kevin Rau also helps with some archival projects, which, being a lover of history – especially church history! – he always enjoys.

The last few weeks he has been taking some time to sort through some old issues (donated loose ones) of the Standard Bearer, with his eyes alert especially to items related to PRC history – seminary news, church organizations/anniversaries, minister ordinations, mission news, memoriams, etc.


Yesterday, while going through some early 1970s issues, he found some news reports on and pictures of the construction of the new seminary building at it current location (4949 Ivanrest Ave., Wyoming, MI) when our theological school moved from the basement of First PRC in Grand Rapids, where it had been stationed for nearly 50 years.

Sem-new-building-1973-74_0002Since we did a feature on the 1993-94 addition to that building yesterday, today we will go back another 20 years to the construction of the original structure. And yes, you will note how free and clear the property was at that time of its current surroundings – not only tall trees, but also malls, stores, houses, and churches.

Sem-new-building-1973-74_0003In fact, I heard a cute story from our secretary yesterday (when I showed her the SB pics) that when they first moved into the area, she and her husband (the former registrar, whose name will go unmentioned to protect the guilty!) used to go on the roof of seminary on 4th of July evening – from which perch they could view fireworks in all directions! Can you see it? What a hoot, as a friend of mine would say. 🙂

Sem-new-building-1973-74_0004Happy Friday to you all! Have a safe and blessed weekend.

Published in: on November 10, 2017 at 3:49 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Oldest Treasures From 12 Great Libraries – Atlas Obscura

This wonderful library item recently was featured on Atlas Obscura, and today it is our “Friday Fun” post for this first Friday of November 2017. The editors gave this brief introduction to the post:

In the history of writing, bound books as we know them today arrive fairly late, so there are no actual “books” on this list. Instead, this is a wondrous collection of illuminated manuscripts, papyrus scrolls, and clay tablets. Some of these items you can even see in person, if you pay a visit.

Have you ever wanted to “see” some of these rare treasures? Now you can – through these images, but also in person if you wish. Find out more by visiting the link below, after reading the opening paragraphs next.

We asked some of our favorite libraries: What’s the oldest item in your collection?

When you start to think about the oldest books that a library might hold, there are any number of rabbit holes you can fall down. What’s the oldest book in any particular city? What’s the oldest book in the world? Well, what do you mean by “book”? The oldest written text? The oldest manuscript? The oldest printed material? The oldest bound book?

Librarians take these kinds of questions very seriously, so when Atlas Obscura contacted some of our favorite libraries to ask about the oldest books in their collections, we were treated to a wealth of information about the treasures they hold.

The New York Public Library, for instance, has not only cuneiform tablets and ninth-century gospels, but also a Gutenberg Bible and a copy of The Bay Psalm Book, one of the oldest books printed in America. In addition to its own cuneiform tablets and Gutenberg Bible, the Library of Congress holds one of the oldest examples of printing in the world, passages from a Buddhist sutra, printed in A.D. 770, as well as a medieval manuscript from 1150, delightfully titled Exposicio Mistica Super Exod.

Source: The Oldest Treasures From 12 Great Libraries – Atlas Obscura

Published in: on November 3, 2017 at 6:47 AM  Leave a Comment