About June 2006

This page contains all entries posted to Hearts & Minds Books in June 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2006 is the previous archive.

July 2006 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

June 2006 Archives

June 1, 2006

Wendell Berry and marriage

Although I have promised not to turn this blog into a journal of my comings and goings, or my varied and sundry opinions, I must tell of the past weekend in Grand Rapids. A dear friend of the family, the second son of our best friends, stood before a gathered community from across North America--the bride's family hail from Western Canada---and across past decades. We saw folks we had not had good conversations with since the late 70's, and enjoyed the young couple's zany friends. College professors and farmers, a couple of authors, lots of fellow book-lovers and some old peacenik rabble rousers from our old days, Christian friends and friends of friends gathered at a weekend of celebration that seemed to be of near-Biblical proportions. Suffice it to say it was the best wedding ceremony we've ever been a part of (with music from Sigor Ros, no less) and one of the better times away we've had in recent memory. Thanks to those who made it so, and those who prayed for our fam while on the road. Imagine, driving the van without it being full of boxes of books!

And here is just one example of why this was so heart-breakingly wonderful: at the wedding, the father of the groom read from Wendell Berry. Ken said, jokingly, "...and for those following along..." and he put on his teacherly glasses, took up the Berry chapter with tears in his eyes and a lump in his throat and his heart on his sleeve.

Lovers must not, like usurers, live for themselves alone. They must finally turn from their gaze at one another back toward the community. If they had only themselves to consider, lovers would not need to marry, but they must think of others and of other things. They say their vows to the community as much as to one another, and the community gathers around them to hear and to wish them well, on their behalf and its own. It gathers around them because it understands how necessary, how joyful, and how fearful this joining is. These lovers, pledging themselves to one another "until death," are giving themselves away, and they are joined by this as no law or contract could join them. Lovers, then, "die" into their union with one another as a soul "dies" into its union with God. And so here, at the very heart of community life, we find not something to sell as in the public market but this momentous giving. If the community cannot protect this giving, it can protect nothing...
I suspect that some of us will watch others of us make wedding vows this Spring. I hope we entertain what it might mean for us all, to be vulnerable and accountable. To be community.

Surely, this fine work of Mr. Berry's would be a good place to start.

Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community Wendell Berry (Pantheon) $12.95

June 3, 2006

Pentecost Post

Is it proper to say ÒHappy Pentecost?Ó Or Merry Holy Ghost Day, or something? IÕd write it in ancient Greek or breathy Hebrew if I couldÉ

We tend not to honor this important liturgical day as we do Christmas and Easter. (And certainly not as we do, say, the Fourth of July or Boxing Day.) So, a brief Pentecostal post.

In preparing for an Adult ed class I am teaching on Pentecost, I have consulted the first volume in what will be a truly remarkable set of theological commentaries. Called the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible, the first one out is Acts, penned by the esteemed, late Jeroslav Pelikan. Of course much of the dualism that we so often rant against in the Western church can be traced to the misreading of texts and the pagan accommodation (can you say neo-Platonism?) in the earliest of Christian centuries, so a Patristic reading ought not be privileged unconditionally. Still, the erudite Dr. PelikanÕs vast knowledge of church history makes him a helpful interpreter of Dr. LukeÕs second book. (For instance, in the section on Acts 2 he naturally was drawn to questions of the early churchÕs view of the Trinity, the debate about the Nicene Creed, and the East-West split over the filioque clause. Of course, it is unwise to speak of Pentecost without addressing the notion of the Triune God.) This would be a very valuable edition to your library. (Brazos Press; $29.99.)

We are really happy to see the newly re-issued, very handsome paperback of James Montgomery BoiceÕs expository messages on Acts (Acts: An Expositional Commentary, published by Baker; $24.99.) This isnÕt the place for an exhaustive list of Acts commentaries, but I did find this very helpful in my preparations.

I also enjoyed re-reading one of the earliest Leonard Sweet books, New Life in the Spirit which is now available again as a reprinted paperback. (Lightening Source; $19.95.) What a great little book, clever and insightful and learned! In a couple of pages, Len offers some very helpful and balanced critique of the two errors of charismania and charisphobia. I loved the line, working with the notion of ruach meaning ÒbreathÓ where he says,

Breathing is unconscious; we donÕt think about it. When we do we can hyperventilate---which is what happens spiritually when some Christians focus on the respiration instead of the application of the Spirit.
And, speaking of which: may we recommend the old, small, and exceptionally helpful Baptism and Fullness: The Work of the Holy Spirit Today by John Stott. (IVP; $8.00.) It still stands as the best, brief treatment of the once-for-all experience of receiving the Spirit (in regeneration) and the ever-present need to be anointed, filled and re-energized in the fullness of the Spirit. I long for greater charismatic power in my life and community, but agree with StottÕs critique of the Pentecostal doctrine that implies one needs to ÒgetÓ the Spirit at some point after conversion. (See, for instance, Romans 8:9.)

Many modern writers, including those in mainline circles, who have taught on the Spirit properly note the Spirit's role in the Bible in creation, re-creation, and in public matters of all sorts. An excellent way into that conversation is Wheaton College prof (and Jubilee 2006 speaker) Vincent Bacote's fabulous book on the ways in which Dutch neo-Calvinist theologian and statesmen, Abraham Kuyper's understanding of the Spirit fueled his public work. See The Spirit in Public Theology: Appropriating the Legacy of Abraham Kuyper (Baker; $18.99.) It compares and contrasts other Òpublic theologiansÓ who wrote on the Spirit, like Jurgen Moltmann. Very, very nicely done, readable and important. Maybe the wind will blow you to it. If so, give us a ring. You don't have to speak in tongues to get this discount on any of the aforementioned titles.

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June 6, 2006

new Barbara Brown Taylor

I felt privileged to have had an early draft of Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith, which is now out in a glorious hardcover, the first one of Barbara Brown Taylor's many good books to be issued in such a sturdy edition. She has long been known as an exquisite speaker, preacher, and writer and she is one of those few authors that I've said I'd read anything she wrote. I devoured her sermons, her excellent one on preaching, her book on sin, the one on science. I will buy a whole anthology, just for her chapter.

In talks I sometimes give, I carry along her first book published by Cowley, The Preaching Life, and read a few of the quotes that are so very sweet, and important. As she tells of her coming to faith, her early experiences of church, her love for nature, and her theological insights about worship, sacraments, the spirituality of the mundane, the glory of all careers and callings, I just shudder. She not only gets it really right, but says it with such wonderful prose that I put the book in my lap and shake my head.

This new book, already being reviewed in magazines and being taken seriously, is not only wonderfully, wonderfully told, but a story of huge importance; in many ways, despite the authors notable self-awareness, it is a classic form, a common story, actually. It tells, again, of her calling as an Episcopal clergyperson, her involvement in a busy, loud, urban church (a part of her life we have not heard about in previous writings) and her need to find a smaller church, a more humane pace, a calling that didn't detract from her own spirituality.

A small northern Georgia town and her even smaller parish became her new home, and we learn not only of her ministry there, the people and place she easily learned to love, the joys and strains of worship and service, but of the ways in which her dread and burnout eventually returned. Despite finding a wonderful plot of land to steward, building a lovely country home there, her pace of life, the demands upon her in a growing church (and as the internationally- known darling of the homiletical literati), Ms Taylor found it hard to maintain health, maintain faith, maintain sanity. Some of us will know just what she means.


Leaving Church is one of the best memoirs I have read in recent years, and I could not put it down. It was written with wondrous sentences, glowing, bright, clever, often very amusing---words escape me to describe well in this brief space just how deftly told and nicely rendered this story is. Her move, finally, to become a professor of religion at a small nearby college, is documented as a crucial, life-saving, step on her journey. Even as she has recently written that "journey" imagery may preclude genuine mindfulness of each moment, this book speaks clearly that her spiritual life has been, and remains, an up and down, circuitous and open-ended journey.

I must be honest and say (gently) that, for me, and most evangelical readers---perhaps most mainline readers, too, for that matter---will find Barbara's wholeness discovered at the expense of Biblical orthodoxy, a journey finally not given shape essentially by the Biblical language of sanctification, but of seeking, to be bittersweet. I do not need Barbara to walk the sawdust trail; I am not that sad that she has left her role as parish priest (although her movement away is described so achingly, even I---champion of the laity, quoter of her first book that celebrated ordinary jobs as holy--got a lump in my throat as I swallowed my grief for her loss.) It is, though, a matter of great sadness that she is drawn less to classic and historic Christian conviction and increasingly to the oddballs in the tradition, less to the best of the Christian way, and more to those outside the faith.

Is this classic liberalism, just silly old-school, relativism afflicting a mind that should know better? Is it a delayed adolescence---romantic, modernist, sprees of freedom and autonomy---out of which she may emerge poor of spirit but more grounded? Or is it a very, very profound move towards a mature, Christ-like spirituality, a generous orthodoxy that remains rooted in the truths of her beloved BCP even as she experiences grace in unusual ideas? Time will tell. For now, this luminous book tells of her journey, her embracing a God whose mercy is wide and whose callings upon our lives and vocations remain, finally, mysterious, hard, and healing. It may be a shame that, like the bird flying away from the cage on the eerily handsome cover art, some need to be liberated from the constraints of ministry to experience the fullness of this Divine healer, but there it is.

Any who care about healthy pastors and vibrant churches will be very interested in this journey. Those who care about our beloved Barbara, whose sermons and essays and workshops and Christian Century columns have sustained us so well for over a decade, will be glad that she is happy, hopeful that her faith sustains her towards her new-found calling as professor Taylor. Anyone, Christian or otherwise, perhaps especially the de-churched or ex-Christian, will surely find her story a blessing. Let us hope it is widely read, enjoyed, and pondered well. She has poured out her life in good and glorious sentences, and such a gift deserves our attention.

Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith Barbara Brown Taylor (HarperSanFransico) $23.95
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June 7, 2006

Frederick Buechner on Barbara Brown Taylor

Yesterday, I reviewed Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith by one of our favorite writers, Barbara Brown Taylor. I noted a sadness I have about it, near the end, but this surely is no reason not to get it; it will be one of the most talked about books of the year and will be a memoir of pastoral life that will endure. Buechner, Gomes & Jones may be a far ways from her working farm in rural Habersham County, Georgia, but these quotes are so nice, I wanted to share them with you. Enjoy.

Barbara Brown Taylor's beautiful book is rich with wit and humanness and honesty and loving detail. It is a book about the wonderful mess of being alive in this world, and about the wonderful and terrible things that happen to us in it, and about the dream of GodÉ. I cannot overstate how liberating and transforming I have found Leaving Church to be.

Frederick Buechner

How fortunate we are that Barbara Brown Taylor is here yet to remind us Ôthat the call to serve God is first and last the call to be fully human.Õ This memoir redeems the form and is full of surprises to those who may have grown tired of Ôchurch.Õ In her renewal is our own; and wherever she is, she still preaches.
Peter J. Gomes, Harvard University
A fiercely honest and gracious book about our primary vocation to be human. Here the reader will find an awesome reverence for mystery. This book comes as a refreshing challenge to reconnect with the longings in the depths of the soul. Many will read this book with relief and recognition.
Alan Jones, Dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco

Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith Barbara Brown Taylor (HarperSanFransico) $23.95

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June 9, 2006

Two on Leadership

In my last two postings IÕve raved about the new and wonderfully-written memoir of extraordinary preacher, writer and thinker, former Episcopal pastor, Barbara Brown Taylor. Entitled Leaving Church, it is about her life as a clergyperson, and, by bookÕs end, her journey out of traditional parish ministry. It is moving, funny, at times luminous in wonderfully captured vinettes, even as it tells the not uncommon story of clergy dis-ease and burnout. I found the book hard to put down (and, you must know, I put books down all day long; some I can barely stand to skim.) It is marvelous, honest, and illustrative. I hope you scroll back and read my review, if you havenÕt, and maybe forward it to any pastor friends you have.

Brown tells much of her life as priest and pastor and preacher, but I do not recall her using the language of leadership. IÕm reminded by the fine books on vocational holiness by Eugene Peterson that this is as it should be; there is way too much glib talk about leadership these days, and, as Peterson (and others) have written, the business model of being a corporate exec has too easily slipped into the consciousness of what we expect of our pastors, and what too many pastors want to be.

Having noted that the business model of leadership is not the best for pastors, and hinting that there are too many shallow or wrong-headed books on leadership, I still wonder what kind of a leader Rev. Taylor was. How might her memoir of faith and the story of her pastoral role in a small Georgia parish be understood in light of recent work being done on leadership development? You may not know it, but we have oodles of books of all sorts on leadership development, and it is an area we are interested in. IÕm currently reading, in fact, the new Sharon ParksÕ study of Ronald Heifetz leadership classes at HarvardÉ

We have gotten two brand new books on leadership in the shop recently that I want to rave about. One should be fairly well known, the other is rare. I will tell about them both, briefly, and trust that you may find them of interest. I have a hunch that while we may not have many pastors or preachers reading BookNotes, there may be a few leaders.

We are huge fans of Richard Mouw, the President of Fuller Theological Seminary, and stock all his books. He is a devout and pious gentleman, one who reads widely in the spiritual classics, but one who is happily sure-footed in his own tradition; he is one whose historic five-point Calvinism is solid (but relayed in open-minded and gentle ways; see the wonderful Calvinism at the Las Vegas Airport.) Mouw has been an advocate for social justice concerns, for a Christian worldview that relates faith to learning and culture, and he has logged his fair share of time in ecumenical study groups, interfaith dialogues and such. He gets stuff done. I say this to suggest his bone fides in putting together the first book I will mention; Dr. Mouw is undeniably a leader, and a thoughtful one.


Traditions in Leadership: How Faith Traditions Shape the Way We Lead was compiled and edited by Mouw and Eric O. Jacobsen (you know him from the new urbanist book, Sidewalks of the Kingdom, which we often promote here.) The solid hardback was published by the Max De Pree Leadership Center and is, sadly, hard to locate in ordinary stores. In it, various authors from various faith traditions describe how their particular faith perspective shapes their understanding of leadership. For instance, what is peculiar to a Jewish view of leadership? How does a Roman Catholic approach leadership questions in a way that is uniquely Catholic? How do the practices esteemed by Mennonites effect notions of leadership? It isnÕt every volume that has chapters by a Mormon and a Pentecostal, a Quaker and a Lutheran, so you can imagine our thrill to see this delightful arrayÉThis not only helps us all understand some inter-faith distinctives, but goes a long way in helping explore the meaning of leadership and consider notions that are nearly uniformly agreed upon, and other notions that a quite contested.

A new book by the very popular Dan Allender offers a view of leadership that is very, very significant. His last book, you may recall, was one of our picks for last yearÕs Book of the Year (that one was called To Be Told: Know Your Story, Shape Your Future.) Leading With a Limp: How Our Weaknesses Shape our Leadership (published by Waterbrook) brings redemptive insights and very realistic psychological counsel to the task of leadership development, even in our brokenness. Allander is a solid, Biblical thinker, a counselor who knows the hurts of the world deeply, and a writer whose authenticity and clarity can only be called inspirational. What a fine book this is! There is a study guide, too, making it ideal for group use.


Traditions in Leadership: How Faith Traditions Shape the Way We Lead edited by Richard J. Mouw and Eric O. Jacobsen (De Pree Leadership Center) $25.00

Leading With a Limp: Turning Your Sruggles Into Strengths Dan B. Allender (Waterbrook) $19.99 Workbook; $9.99.

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June 12, 2006

new Dallas Willard

Many of our readers know the name Dallas Willard. He is a professor of philosophy at University of Southern California, has taught at UCLA, and is generally known as a thoughtful, balanced, wise, and important guide to the inner life and the practical details of following Jesus. His name often comes up associated with Renovare, the contemplative ministry of Richard Foster et al. His practical stuff on how to grow spiritually, how to literally see God effect change in our lives, is some of the best written in this area. As Os Guinness says in a blurb in Willard's brand new one, "I know no one like Dallas Willard who can express profound things so simply and simply things so profoundly. I never fail to benefit from his writings." Other writers of spiritual formation that we admire---Ruth Barton, Eugene Peterson, Richard Foster--offer rave endorsements too. A new book by Willard, you should know, is very good news.


The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus's Essential Teachings on Discipleship is what might be called a "Dallas Willard reader" as it is collection of various pieces he has done elsewhere. Or, if you prefer, call it a greatest hits collection with bonus tracks, previously unheard stuff, bootleg cuts and unplugged versions. None of these chapters is fully new, but they've never been compiled before. Some were previously published in popular sources (like Christianity Today or Leadership) while others were found initially in less well-known journals (Christian Scholar's Review or the Journal of Psychology and Theology and one was intially in a Korean magazine.) Some were found as speeches or as chapters in other anthologies. Here, they seem coherently woven together like a new book, flowing naturally from one section to the next. The theme, as the title implies, always comes back to this: why the disconnect between what is promised in the gospels--transformation!--and the real world in which Christians are feeble and ineffective? What are the consequences of our ommission of discipleship from our ministries? How is it that we have failed, in the grand words of Steve Garber, to "weave together belief and behavior"? If we are meant to be inhabited by God so we can live like Christ---think of Romans 8:11---then how can the God-empowered life be seen, personally and publicly? What does it look like to be that kind of disciple? Why does it seem odd to many to say we are an apprentice to Jesus?

Richard Foster is clearly one of the most important writers on spiritual formation and whole-life discipleship writing today. His breathy forward to Willard's 1998 best-seller, The Divine Conspiracy still stands as one of the most positive raves of a book I've ever read; Foster insists that it is a modern classic, that it will go down with the great books of all time. Well, even if he is only half-right, that makes it surely one of the most important books of our time. The Great Omission is a fabulous follow-up to that, or a fabulous introduction to the wise mind and good heart of an author who is surely your ally. You should know his work, follow his ideas, and be blessed to see God "renovate your heart" as Willard puts it. We are offering his new collection on sale, now. See the BookNotes blog special below.


The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus's Essential Teachings On Discipleship Dallas Willard (Harper SanFransico) $23.95

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June 14, 2006

Books on Body Image, etcetera

Sometimes, we get requests from customers for lists on certain topics. And, sometimes, I think others might like to see our replies (and, who knows, add your own suggestions to ours in our comment section. Or as at least one might, criticize our recommendations.) So, here ya go. This was for a young woman who is a resident hall director at a woman's dorm at an unnamed Christian college. She asked for stuff on body image, indentity, gender and related topics.

This is "part one." Hope it's helpful; sorry it is so long. If you know any woman who work on the floor of a college resident hall, or anybody else who might enjoy this, please forward it on. Thanks.

Beyond Identity: Finding Yourself in the Image and Character of God Dick Keyes (Although this is out of print, we have just a few leftÉimported from England. Dick is on staff of the New England LÕAbri (the community study centers started in the spirit of Francis & Edith Schaeffer) and one of our sharpest evangelical minds today. This book is the best on the topic of identity; not exactly a "self-help" book to enhance oneÕs self-esteem, but rather to think deeply about the notion of identity and how our self-hood can be shaped by the character of God. I could list others along these lines, some perhaps more "practical" but this is the best.


Want to be Her: Body Image Secrets Victoria Won't Tell You Michelle Graham (IVP) $12.00 I reviewed this at our monthly website a year ago and raved about it there as the best basic book on this topic. Practical, well written; a must-read!

Eve's Revenge Women and a Spirituality of the Body Lilian Calles Barger (Brazos) $14.99 Without a doubt the most important serious book on this subject. Very insightful. The author has some connections with our friends at the New England LÕAbri, and we esteem her immensely. Thank God for thoughtful and relevant Christian books like this!

God Knows YouÕd Like a New Body: 12 Ways to befriend the one youÕve got Carl Koch & Joyce Heil (Sorin) $11.95 Probably the most practical, easiest to read, resource available. Written by a fairly ecumenical Roman Catholic (which is to say that it doesnÕt seem overtly Catholic at all, and not too much about Christian faith, directly, making it useful even for seekers or non-churched folks; it has interesting quotes from various perspectives and spiritual writers that conservative evangelicals might not like.) The "God knowsÉ" series includes several other very helpful guides to other topics, too, like grief or career satisfaction.

Body Wars: Making Peace With WomenÕs Bodies: An ActivistÕs Guide Margo Maine (gurze) $14.95 Not written from a Christian perspective, this still is helpful for those wanting a guide to thinking through these issues and how to create conversation and programs to effect change in attitudes. Very practical with lots of recommended resources.

The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women Naomi Wolf (Harper) $14.95 I hope you know this one, one of the most talked about womenÕs books in the mainstream book world, written by a prominent secular journalist and feminist writer who actually has great interest in Christian faith...

The Body Project: A Intimate History of American Girls Joan Brumburg (Vintage) $14.00 A fun and interesting read of how the female body has been understood, seen and experienced in American girlhood culture. A sure discussion-starter and useful overview.


Sexy Girls: How Hot is Too Hot? Hayley Demarco (Revell) $14.99 This may be written more for older teens, but it is so brightly-designed, with great (retro) photographs, and solid Christian guidance, this is fun and basic stuff.

The Beauty of Modesty: Cultivating Virtue in the Face of a Vulgar Culture David Vaughan & Diane Vaughan (Cumberland House) $12.95 Packaged in a way that isnÕt terribly inviting (and, for those who fret about such things, is frankly odd---there is a statue of a Greek goddess in marble or something on the cover which surely isnÕt the best model for robust Christian sensibilities, the pagan Greeks! Yikes!) Still, this conservative book on virtue is a winner and we recommend it especially for those who want a solid Bible approach with very traditional gender assumptions.

Return to Modesty Wendy Shalitt (The Free Press) $14.00 Written when she was still a young woman college feminist, and a nonpracticing Jew, she released this brilliant and sophisticated treatment of the "erotic virtue" of modesty to wide-spread acclaim. She has a very thoughtful approach, rooting very traditional values in her experience as new millennial New York single woman. Wonderfully done, very provocative with much to enjoy and consider.

Gender and Grace Mary Stewart Van Leuuwen (IVP) Although not just for women, this is our all-time favorite book on gender concerns, a reasonable and Biblical view of equality and how this effects our approaches to work, family, friendship and marriage. Very nicely done, by a feminist-studies scholar who is a sure-footed and very sharp evangelical. My wife and I are mentioned in her book about menÕs issues, My BrotherÕs Keeper. Hooo-ray!

Origins of Difference: The Gender Debate Revisited Elaine Storkey (Baker) $12.99 Previously issued in England (where she has worked with John Stott and Tear Fund) under the title Gender: Created or Constructed. We love ElaineÕs passionate, solid, thoughtful and engaging research. Very useful. This is out of print and we are pleased to still have some in stock.


Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity Lauren Winner (Brazos) $14.99 I suppose you know all about Lauren, perhaps the hippest Christian writer these days, and a good H&M friend; her other two are absolute must reads (Girl Meets God and Mud-House Sabbath) and they remain very popular, esp among college gals. This one is the best reflection and study of chastity for serious young adults we've yet read. Very important, just now available in paperback. Order a bunch!

Every WomanÕs Battle and Every Young WomanÕs Battle Shannon Ethridge & Stephen Arterburn (Waterbrook) $13.99 each. The subtitle reads "Guarding Your Mind, Heart and Body in a Sex-Saturated World". And serves as a womenÕs version of Every ManÕs Battle (which, as you know, is about lust and pornography and such.) These are really, really useful, with the "young womanÕs" one especially good for younger collegiates, and the other one perhaps aimed at married women. Some women think these are excellent while a few more sophisticated ones may find them a bit less so, but they are doubtlessly the best weÕve got on this exact topic. Cover some areas---fantasy and romance novels, say---that few other books discuss. There are workbook type study guides available, too.

Sex and the Cynics: Talking About the Search for Love Edited by Tony Watkins (Paternoster) $9.99 We import this small book from England not only because it plays off the Sex and the City TV show, but because we find many evangelical thinkers in Britain to be reasonable, culturally engaged and radically faithfulÉnicely done.


The Technical Virgin: How Far Is Too Far? Hayley Demarco (Revell) $14.99 Like her Sexy Girls: How Hot Is Too Hot this is packaged to attract hip, younger women, with solid insight and practical wisdom. Honest and credible, easy-to-read and fun.

Sexual Ethics and Adolescent Girls Barbara Blodgett (Pilgrim) $20.00 This is not for everyone, but it does offer a remarkable bit of thinking of how liberal feminist theologiansÑwho typically affirm the eroticÑhave perhaps failed to adequately understand the development of adolescent girls. Semi-scholarly research on the sexual attitudes of young women in light of liberal feminist thought. Fascinating.

Real Choices: Listening to Women, Looking for Alternatives to Abortion Frederica Mathews-Green (Concliar Press) $14.95 This is an extraordinary book, based on great journalistic interviews, solid and helpful faith perspectives and a passionate care for those stuck in hard places of unexpected pregnancies. The author is a bridge-builder between those who hold opposition view of the legality abortion, but invites all to help support troubled pregnancies and offer true choices for life and hope. Nothing like it in print; highly recommended.

June 19, 2006

A Quick Hooray for Kelly Monroe Kullberg: Finding God Beyond Harvard

I wish I had time to describe for you the various nifty aspects of this long-awaited sequel to Kelly Monroe's marvelously done, very important (and, in my opinion, not mentioned nearly enough) edited volume, Finding God at Harvard: The Spiritual Journys of Thinking Christians. The new one tells the story of Ms Monroe's humble but dogged efforts to help the evangelical presence at Harvard earn respect among their secularized peers and professors, and to take the renowned model of Veritas Forum on the road to colleges and universities across the land.

You may not know this grand story, but the first collection, Finding God at Harvard is an anthology of various speakers that spoke at Harvard, with luminaries and dignitaries, lesser known but wonderful Christian scholars and spiritual leaders as diverse as Nicholas Woltersdorff, Lamin Sanneh, and Mother Theresa. These thoughtful and commited Christian scholars addressed Harvard's InterVarsity Christian Fellowship group, or the campus at large, offering real-world examples of Christian conviction in the arena of higher education and illustrations of followers of Christ giving witness to their vocations in the world. It is a great resource since it covers such ground, with lectures on science and economics, politics and apologetics, gender and racial justice. Philosophers are there, public servants of all sorts, and a few theologians; most however share a Christian view of their work in fields other than theology proper. Some are teachers at the nation's oldest university and many hold high degrees from other prestigious hallowed halls. It is a useful gift for a youngster going off to college who wants to integrate her faith into her collegiate experience.

After her experience at Harvard, Kelly worked hard with literally hundreds of volunteers throughout the country to set up debates, forums, lectures and conferences which presented Christian claims amidst secularly spirited views at other universities. Her Veritas Forums---Veritas is the Latin phrase for truth, of course, and still stands in the motto for Harvard---have been held in remarkable locations, almost all to great acclaim. (We've even sold books at one or two over the years, and can testify to their thoughtful approach, their fruitfulness in sharpening the Christian mind and their boldness in presenting gospel claims in ways those in the modern university can relate to.) This brand new book, Finding God Beyond Harvard: The Quest for Veritas (IVP; $20.00) tells that story in dramatic and inspiring ways and we are thrilled about it.

We will surely talk about this in weeks and months to come. If you've ever helped arrange a Veritas Forum at your campus, your name is most likely listed here...weeeee! It is a warm and interesting book, easy to read. Blurbs on the back illustrate Kelly's great reputation; Mark Noll calls her "peripatetic" and while I do not know what that means, I suspect it is pretty darn great. Armand Nicholi, esteemed Harvard Medical School prof (himself author of A Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex and the Meaning of Life) says "This deeply moving story of her personal journey gives the reader new insight into her remarkable achievements."

If you know anybody that does campus ministry, if you know anybody who works on a campus, if you know any students going off to school, either of these two books---the collection of essays and lectures or this more memoristic story of the Forums---would make great gifts.


Finding God At Harvard: Spiritual Journys of Thinking Christians Kelly Monroe (Zondervan) $12.99
Finding God Beyond Harvard: The Quest for Veritas Kelly Monroe Kullberg (IVP) $20.00

June 21, 2006

Best Christian Short Stories

A month ago I suggested in our regular website column that, especially for people of faith who are frustrated with Dan Brown, we ought to encourage the writing of better stories. Problematic art, literature, or mass media can be bested by better art, literature, or mass media. There are two exceptional novels I've been itching to tell you about, and the writer of one of them---a first time novelist and Hearts & Minds friend, Marsena Kunkle---is in this brand new collection that I present to you here. I'm still trying to figure out how to tell you about the novels (stay tuned) but for now, a quick annoucement of this unique find.

The Best Christian Short Stories is a gathering of excellent short fiction, chosen (and introduced) by N Y Times bestseller, Bret Lott. These do not emerge from the safe, evangelical sub-culture of "Christian fiction" nor are they sweet "chicken soup" inspirations. These are, as described on the back, "contemporary fiction that combines the artistry of critically acclaimed writers with a clear Christian worldview." As Lott himself says in the introduction, these authors---with whom he stands---"are tying to smash the gates of serious literature with the joy and light and hope of a personal, saving, supernatural God."

Included here are Homer Hickam (yes, the Rocket Boy) and one of the great writers of the last half of the twentieth century, Larry Woiwode; Erin McGraw offers a piece that had been in an anthology, James Calvin Schaap's entry had been in the old The Other Side. Two have previously appeared in Image: A Journal of Arts and Religion, an excellent journal that is masterfully edited by Gregory Wolfe (aside: don't believe me about Wolfe? Read through his lovely collection of essays from Image put out by Square Halo Press as Intruding Up0n the Timeless: Meditations on Art, Faith and Mystery.)

And, very, very deservedly, our friend Marsena, who you may know from the years she edited the excellent Critique journal that we've mentioned here, has an excerpt of her new novel, A Dark Oval Stone (Paraclete Press) included. It is an exquistely rendered telling of a death that happens early in the novel, oddly beautiful in a simple and plainspoken way; those who have had to speak of sudden deaths and such will find much to appreciate. It won't spoil the larger book to read this excerpt and, I hope, it will have you calling for the book itself. We will be sure to review it soon.

But for now, consider this fun collection, this fine example of the exact kind of thing that is so important: Christian writers in the mainstream culture, doing excellent work that can resonate with all readers, religious or not. We are not only glad for the idea of it, but, as it must be, for the stories themselves.


The Best Christian Short Stories edited by Bret Lott (WestBow) $14.99

June 24, 2006

women's issues part two

A week ago I made a list for a customer who works with women in a college resident hall. It happens to be a church-related college but, of course, even Holy Spirited-institutions are mired in the brokenness of our culture and social, sexual, emotional and vocational quandaries are the stuff of life for all of us East of Eden. And so, I made a list, at her request, of books mostly about body image, modesty and such. I shared that list with the customer so she could know the kinds of things we recommend on that topic and hopefully buy a few as resources for her career and ministry come Fall. We posted that here on the blog, and you can find it by scolling down just a bit.

Here are a few more (a few could have been listed specifically with that list about identity, gender, and such but a few are on other topics.) It is a rather random list; just a handful I grabbed off the shelves that I find myself routinely wishing folks would buy. We have tons more, but this gives you an idea of the sorts of things that are solid and helpful. If you know anybody that could find these useful, pass it on.

CanÕt Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel Jean Kilbourne (The Free Press) $15.00 Although not faith-based, this book is used by wise student affairs folks everywhere as it is the definitive guide to how media impacts us all, especially women, to think about themselves, their bodies and their sexuality. A must read for anyone who cares about our culture. I should have mentioned this last week since it is so important. Check out her website here for her documentaries and essays, but order the book from us!

On Earth as it is In Advertising: Moving From Commercial Hype to Gospel Hope Sam Van Eman (Brazos) $14.99 IÕve often mentioned SamÕs good book and it would be especially helpful for study groups at religious colleges or any individual who wants to be more aware of the power of mass media; it brings Kingdom vision to the whole question of consumerism, self-identity, and is a good and faithful follow-up to Kilburn (who, by the way, has a glowing endorsement.)

The Truths that Free Us: A WomanÕs Calling to Spiritual Transformation Ruth Haley Barton (Shaw) $12.99 Page for page this is one of the best books for Christian women that we know of; a delightfully written, mature and multi-faceted invitation to spirituality and wholeness. Thank God for such reliable and solid guidance. Check out Ruth's other books on spirituality, solitude and the pace of life.


Revealed: Spiritual Reality in a Makeover World Linda Clare & Kristen Johnson Ingram (Revell) $12.99 From my middle-school daughter to a womenÕs retreat for ladies of all ages we did this Spring, I've learned that ÒmakeoverÓ is a word that, well, IÕve got to learn to use. Shallow as the concept may strike me, there is a redemptive way to think creatively about what a more substantive makeover would be. Here, these good authors draw upon other women writers---poet Luci Shaw, youth novelist Melody Carlson, the wonderfully thoughtful Vinita Hampton Wright, for instanceÑto work the spa- make-over- beauty- transformation-health metaphor. Very, very practical, really thoughtful and tons of fun with all kinds of insight about spirituality and growth. Very nicely done.

Fresh Brewed Life: A Stirring Invitation to Wake Up Your Soul Nicole Johnson (Word) $13.99 Over the last few years this may be our biggest selling book of basic Christian growth for women. It uses films and pop songs (David Wilcox, for instance) and makes fun suggestions for coffee-conversations and creative activities. Still, it doesnÕt get caught up in silly antics; there is substance and wisdom, delivered with joy and wit. Younger women, especially, love her style and appreciate this kind of guide to relevant Christian discipleship.

Are Women Human? Astute and Witty Essays on the Role of Women in Society Dorothy L. Sayers (Eerdmans) $9.00 Yes, yes, this long-out of print classic was reprinted a year ago. Dorothy Sayers was the first women to graduate from Oxford University, offer, in her piquant style, a sensible and pointed argument for treated women as true individuals. C.S. Lewis, of course, admired her immensely, and her mystery novels are themselves worthy of revisiting. (A new edition of Creed and Chaos came out last year, under the name Letters to a Diminished Church by the way, as did a great study of her work, Creed Without Chaos by Laura Simmons. What an important thinker and writer!)
For other titles on gender roles and thinking about Biblical views of feminism and such, call us. Or, at least, see the few we listed on the previous blog from last week, such as Gender & Grace or the work of Elaine Storkey.


Living on the Boundaries: Evangelical Women, Feminism and the Theological Academy Nicola Hoggard Creegan & Christine D. Pohl (IVP) $18.00 A rather specific title, but my-oh-my, how important. There is this tension between evangelical women and feminism and between evangelical women in the theological academy. For any woman considering advanced studies in seminary or who feels called to ministry, this is a thoughtful, balanced, compelling and nuanced study. With rave (rave!) reviews from the likes of Richard Mouw, John Franke, Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, this is a major contribution for women and their faith development. Pohl, you may know, wrote the spectacular and highly regarded book Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Practice, which would be an excellent study for anyone, living in a residence hall or communal setting. Or those who donÕt, and wish to be more inclusive in their offering hospitality to others.)

From Battle Scars to Beauty Marks: Portraits of Women Who Turned Trials to Triumph Ellie Lofaro (LifeJourney) $12.99 A good telling of a number of women who have gone through various trials and struggles---from abuse to eating disorders, from living with illness to coping with grief. These are wonderfully moving stories, each helping the reader learn to trust God and celebrate a life (as Dan Allender say on the back) Ò of tenacity, hope and transformation.Ó

Soul Virgins: Redefining Single Sexuality Doug Rosenau and Michael Todd Wilson (Baker) $14.99 I wish this could have been listed in the previous post where I listed books like Lauren WinnerÕs Real Sex, but it just arrive. We very much like RosenauÕs previous Celebration of Sex (rather a manual for newlyweds.) This bills itself as a book Òwhen ÒHow far is too farÓ doesnÕt go far enough.Ó Seems to cover an extraordinary array of information, Biblically-shaped and wise, speaking candidly to this generation with their hurts and sexual confusion. Hip cover, too, which never hurtsÉ


Mean Girls All Grown Up: Adult Women Who are Still Queen Bees, Middle Bees and Afraid-To-Bees Cheryl Dellasega (Wiley) $24.95 Here, the author of Surviving Ophelia, follows up the Òmean girlsÓ studies. An important study of the sources of womenÕs aggression and a reminder that the Òqueen beesÓ of our youth do not necessarily fade awayÉ

Peacemaking Women: Biblical Hope for Resolving Conflict Tara Klena Barthel & Judy Dabler (Baker) $14.99 The Bible is clear that we are to be GodÕs agents in offering reconciliation and building communities of care and unity. This takes the excellent work of Ken Sande and applies those peacemaking principles to women. From friendship quarrels to love turning sour, women can represent Christ in ways that are helpful and reconciling. This book will help us follow the instruction of Ephesians 4:3, for instance.

Women to Women: Perspectives of Fifteen African American Christian Women edited by Norvella Carter (Zondervan) $12.99 While a few chapters may be most useful for married women in the hometown community, many of these excellent chapters are ideal for young women of color, or anyone who cares about racial justice and cross-cultural sensitivities. We specialize in this area, so if you have special interests here, call us. Or, at least check out this review done last year at the website. Besides a number of Christian and general market books noted, please look at our remarks about Some of My Best Friends: Writings on Inter-racial Friendships, a book that blew me away. Most of the chapters are highly recommended, thoughtful, litarary, passionate, challanging.


Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia Marya Hornbacher (Harper) $13.95 A scary but tentatively triumphant memoirÉtold with grace, sharp humor and candor.Ó So says the San Francisco Chronicle. Other reviewers have called in Ògritty and unflinching Éraw É disintegrated...unsparing Éterrifying.Ó It is indeed powerful and intelligent

Holy Hunger: A WomanÕs Journey from Food Addiction to Spiritual Fulfillment Margaret Bullitt-Jonas (Vintage) $13.00 A memoir---daughter of an esteemed Harvard professor and a pious Radcliffe trustee---of a superachiever in academia who was Òeating herself to death.Ó A fascinating an moving account of compulsion and the healing processÉa rave review from Anne Lamott on the cover may appeal to some.
By the way, I know some college age women who find Traveling Mercies to be one of their all time favorite books; ribald and funny, tragic and finally hopeful as she comes to a rather unorthodox conversion to Christ, that set of reflections on doubt and faith by an esteemed bohemian novelist, is widely used, despite the colorful language. Plan B is even more funny, the author remains in love with Jesus, tries to love President Bush and the so-called Christian right (which she despises), and she continues to slip in to the language that is common in her world of recovery and lefty artists, but used to be reserved for sailors. We highly recommend her excellent and provocative writing and hold her up as a Christian woman author in the real world of letters; they may not be for everyone, though.)

Appetites: On The Search for True Nourishment Geneen Roth (Plume) $11.95 For those with eating disorders, RothÕs important handbooks are helpful, inspired and provocative. A bit new-Agey, not Biblically-oriented, they offer a vision of the relationship between eating and intimacy (one earlier book is called When Food Is Love) and are standards in the field. This one is written more as a memoir as Roth explores the process of questioning what was at the core of her own life.

Parched Heather King (NAL) $12.95 King is the brave gal---now a Hearts & Minds friend---who wrote the best response to the James Frey fiasco (his Oprah-plugged memoir of addiction and recovery ended up largely fictionalized) in PublisherÕs Weekly, to which we linked you back at our blog post about it.) Her detailed, raw memoir of her early alcoholism is gracefully written, charming, even, even as it is yet unnerving, a very well done piece that explains her journey to sobriety and her eventual conversion to Catholic faith. Wonderfully done and very helpful, loved by those who read it. She is known by some for her NPR pieces, but this book has not gotten the publicity it deserves. Pre-order it now and we will send it right out when it is released at the end of the summer.


Smashed: The Story of a Drunken Childhood Koren Zailckas (Penguin) $14.00 Read it and weep; what a powerful story of a high school alcoholic and her early years at college. Powerful and relevant.

Preventing Hazing: How Parents, Teachers, and Coaches Can Stop the Violence, Harassment, and Humiliation Susan Lipkins (Jossey Bass) $14.95 WeÕve gotten an advanced manuscript of this, to be released in August 2006, and I could not put it down. Dr. Lipkins is one of the leading hazing experts and is currently working on a documentary on two of the more publicized recent hazing events that turned to vicious sexual violence. This problem permeates schools, colleges and communities and this not only explains some of this dangerous behavior, it offers practical advise for those who can intervene in perhaps life-saving ways. Very important.

Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling Women Patricia Miller (Baker) $10.99 This is not the space to do a whole list on counseling, spiritual caring or a Christian approach to psychology. But this spiral bound collection of Bible verses collated by topic (self-worth, contentment, depression, birth control, dating, etc.) is a useful tool to have around for those who work with women. Very handyÉ

Well, thanks for reading through this list. If youÕve gotten this far, you have not only a taste of the diverse books we stock on personal development and social wellness, but of the ways in which books can help us be prepared to assist those around us. Whether you are, like our customer for whom this list was custom made, are working in a college residence life program or have a young adult ministry, or just know and love young people, these are the kinds of tools we can use to help us in the job of caring well. It is our privilege to serve you as you serve others. Stay in touchÉ

Subscription Snafu


Just a very quick announcement to tell you that the Hearts & Minds BookNotes blog automatic subscription---you can "subscribe" and you will be notified with a brief email when I post a new one every few days---has been somehow snafued, disabled, kaput. But now it has been healed. Or at least somewhat healed, for now.

Please, if you're reading this and you have not subscribed, please consider doing so. It takes five seconds and it would give you a chance to know whenever I ramble. Well, whenever I ramble on about books....if I leave the house for parts unknown, you won't know that. I'd be happy to see your email name in my subscription list and it will keep the H&M crew assured that I'm not wasting my time on this.

We trust that the subscription service is now up and running again---scroll on down a bit and see how many entries you've missed. Hopefully, now, though, we are "Automatic for the People."
Tee hee.

A special kiss of peace (Biblical guy that I am) to those special few who were worried about us when they weren't notified. It means a lot to think somebody notices these things.

June 26, 2006

Shane Clairborne's Irresistible Revolution on the Radio

You most likely read at least some of my lengthy review of The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne back in March at our Hearts & Minds website. I think I raved and critiqued in helpful ways, and we are selling a few of the book; not enough, but more than most places. (Blog special, still, by the way, we sell IR for $10.00 ) We find ourselves eager to tell folks about it, and it is fun to hear reactions as people read, are moved by and enjoy the plucky call to radical Christian discipleship from this young prankster who loves Jesus. He takes seriously deep theology and lives practically, trying to be faithful to a new way of life in the midst of the worst hurts of our fallen world.

I have a dozen new other books I want to tell you about---one on the Christian mind and the important of reading which I will post soon--- and I have promised to review some extraordinary fiction, too, but tonight, I just got info that Shane is going to be on the Steve Brown radio show soon. It is a live stream on line, and I guess a radio show, aired later. I think hearing this interview will be fabulous---Steve is open-minded and culturally-savvy, if more socially and theologically conservative than Shane (does anybody recall the TV shows that we now rent as videos, where Steve Brown & Tony Campolo argue in a set designed to look like a diner with the waitress as the host? Nice.) Please spread the word of the chance to hear Shane on the air, this Friday, 12 noon.

Here is a link to the Steve Brown podcast info. http://www.stevebrownetc.com/

Here is a link to a blog that says it more attractively, a blog about the podcast. The fun part here, though, are the posts about Shane (and the art of posting blog comments) all in haikus. Who are these guys, who write in the style of Japanse poetry? http://pingetcetera.blogspot.com/

Join the Revolution. Not the haiku one, but Shane's Irresistible one. Which, I'd say, is really Jesus's. At least listen up on-line Friday, 12-2 EST.

Does anybody know more about the details of the actual radio times? Or is etcetera only streaming podcast? I know Brown is on Radio America, too. (This is complicated, but ping is a blog which lives to promote the Steve Brown etcetera radio (podcast) show. Is it on real radio? Help!)

June 28, 2006

A Mind for God

James Emery White has written a batch of good books lately, all readable and interesting. Notably, we been excited about Serious Times: Making Your Life Matter in a Serious Day which uses brief biographies to introduce us not only to history-making faithful Christ-followers such as William Wilberforce or St. Patrick or Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but how to learn from these saints of God in ways that can sustain our own efforts for social and cultural reformation. It is the kind of book we like since it isn't at all a dry, academic treatise, yet it is unlike so much trifling, self-indulgent stuff that is common-place in evangelical publishing (not to mention in new age and esoterica shops) these days. Now that it is out in paperback, we are thrilled.

Mr. White's brand new book, A Mind for God, is a bit larger than pocket-sized, a handsome, compact shape, thin with a beautiful dust jacket. It is, in a little less than 125 pages, a call to develop the mind, to make commitments to read widely, to engage the conversation of classic literature so that we might honor God by being involved in cultural affairs. He duly frets over the dumbing down of our culture and holds up a standard of intellectual excellence for followers of Christ in the modern world. He lists Bible verses, makes bookish recommendations and tells stories about his family and their struggle to maintain joyful reading habits.

Most of you skimming this are friends or supporters or customers of Hearts & Minds and you know (and maybe appreciate and share) our passion to get people reading quality books (good ones, yes, but not necessarily needlessly highbrow; that isn't us, and we know our best customers are not eggheads, either.) I don't mean to sound crass, but A Mind for God is nearly an advertisement for what we are about here. Like Your Mind Matters (a little book by John Stott that we gave away during our grand opening nearly 25 years ago, which we still happily recommend----heads up to IVP, by the way: give that chestnut a new coat of paint, will ya?) this new one by James White is a short and sweet call to the life of thinking Christianly. It is sweeter, too, than Stott, rigorous yet sweet. I am enthralled with this book, deeply glad that he "gets it" and truly grateful for Christian leaders who call others to love the printed page.

(I myself have recently written a lengthy essay about reading, designed especially for college students. It was published by our good friends at my favorite on-line journal, Comment (of the Work Research Foundation, a very thoughtful Canadian Christian think-tank that works mostly on public life and civic affairs.) I will tell you more about it later, but if you'd like to check it out, click here.)

I couldn't agree more with James Sire's nice blurb on the back of A Mind of God where he says,

God wants us to have the mind of Christ. But what is that mind and how do we get it? James Emery White answers these questions in some of the most lucid prose being written today. A pleasure to read. A joy to take his advice.
The Mind of God James Emery White (IVP) $12.00

SPECIAL BLOG PRICE
$10.00
email an order, go to the website, or call 717.246.3333

June 1, 2006

Wealth, Business and Marketplace Reformation

Sometimes over at my blog, where I do brief reviews, annotations or tell stories from the front lines of the book biz, I write that I am answering a specific customer, but posting it so that others can look over my shoulder as I suggest titles to fit the needs of the inquiry. Often, these are larger lists, custom made, recommendations for a certain setting and particular context. Sometimes we know the person who first asked (sometimes we don't.) Usually, though, I have put hours into compiling and describing the titles and want to share that list with others.

I worry, sometimes, though, that casual viewers will see the list and be perturbed---why didn’t he include this one? or, how can they not suggest that one? Of course at the blog, fellow book lovers can post those suggestions themselves, making the recommendation process a bit more feisty and communal. But my anxieties remain, so I will say, here, the following list came from just such a conversation for a certain fellow who wanted certain kind of titles. I gave him a bit more than he needed, and a few he may not want, but as it took on a life of its own, I felt we should offer this list here for the monthly readers to see.

The huge questions floating around behind this---the subtext literary types call it, the backstory, as journalists have taught us to say---are near constants around here: what does it mean to follow Christ’s injunction to be the salt of the Earth, to be leaven in the loaf, a city on a hill. It is our conviction that God’s grace is given so that Christ’s followers can not only be secure in their eternal salvation---gift that it is!---but can live out the implications of that, "working it out" as Paul exhorts, serving the world in ways that anticipate the final consummation of all things in Christ’s promised return in healing judgement. Sure, some day "every knee shall bow" and Christ’s Kingship will be seen as "every tear is wiped away" and we live into the joy of "all things new." But, for now, we read and study, pray and worship, work, and, in love, try to be faithful to this high calling of being "in the world but not of it. " You all know our passion for this whole-life kind of discipleship that brings faith into the daily arenas. We have often said that God cares about how we shop, how we vote, how we birth our babies and how we, well, do everything. Certainly, this entails thinking thoughtfully about being agents of change in the marketplace. We need to recapture a sense of vocation that is at once ordinary and prophetic.

In March, I did an extended review of Shane Clairborne’s exciting little book, about his exciting big life, and the ways he calls us to follow Christ into service of the poor, commune-based living, and prophetic action against the principalities and powers that have deformed our life and times. The Irresistible Revolution means a lot to me, but I suggested (and have discussed this on the BookNotes blog, too) that it doesn't speak quite enough into the real world of jobs, institutions, established careers and day-to-day stuff of most ordinary Americans. This age-old dilemma is this: how best to effect faithful change, reform or revolution? Does Christ want us to serve the poor and be revolutionary troubadours of His Kingdom like, say, St. Francis or Mother Theresa, or culturally engaged, if merely reformist, filmmakers, business executives, school teachers and lawyers, working carefully within the system? Some within our circles call that vision Kuyperian, after the famous Dutch Prime Minister (Abraham Kuyper) who insisted that every zone of life and every legitimate career could be pursued together with other Christ followers in distinctive ways and we could thereby push back the troubles of the Enlightenment’s secularized darkness in a redemptive cultural reformation. Not like the French Revolution ---off with their heads!---or the Leninists, or the 60’s (Don’t trust anyone over 30!) but as leaven in a loaf, a mustard seed, gentle and slow and working within the context of historical givens and complicated institutions that dare not be jettisoned.
Have I told you about the fabulous book by Nathan Bierma called Bringing Heaven Down to Earth: Connecting This Life to the Next (Baker; $13.99) on how our understanding of new creation expectations and hopes can effect our daily life, now? What a wonderful guide to this visionary way of being.

And so, I got this note, seemingly animated by this vision of Kuyper’s, to think Christianly and faithfully even in the world of complex, modern careers, asking me to suggest books that would speak to and be assessable to, a gathering of stock brokers in a major world financial district. I am not fully sure what financiers even do--speculating and moving accounts and wiring stuff---but it was clear that these sharp and deeply Christian young professionals didn't want to be told to give up on their jobs and drop out. They also, it seems, didn't want to read only macro-level analysis (despite my insistence that they absorb, read and re-read, the classic Capitalism and Progress by Dr. Bob Goudzwaard, a Dutch economist who served Parliament in the Christian political party there started a century ago by Abraham Kuyper.) My friend asked me for other kinds of resources, thoughtful stuff about wealth, the nature of money in a consumer society, stuff that well-heeled, hard working, urban professionals might appreciate.


And so, I offer this month’s column. It starts out with some discussion in reply to the ongoing conversation I had with this good leader. I hope you enjoy listening it to my half of the discussion and that it offers some context for the books I recommended. If you know anyone who cares about economics, the global marketplace, relating faith to the big-time business world, who owns stocks and bonds or wants to honor God in their approach to work, finances and such, I hope this serious list is useful. Let us know what you think.


Dear friend,

I thank you again for the good challenge to suggest books that would be most helpful for your friends who work in the financial district. Your concerns were well put----both the need to have resources for them as financial workers (Wall Street traders and such, I imagine) and the concern that some of the questions about the just acquisition and use of wealth may not be written in a way that serious "masters of the universe" (as Tom Wolfe called them) would be able to relate. Although any young Christian in the workforce could benefit from some of the general books on worldview and workplace, I understand that these aren’t precisely what you're looking for.

If someone reads, though, Transforming Vision, including the call for interdisciplinary scholarship, and Steve Garber's Fabric of Faithfulness---love that subtitle about "weaving together belief and behavior" and then something like Your Work Matters to God or Loving Monday (with the spiffy new cover from IVP, to match the newly released, and even more basic, Mastering Monday) I think the young professional would have a solid foundation from which to pursue marketplace fidelity. Maybe with the sad little caveat that these are pretty basic and generic they would still be willing to knock off a couple of those kinds of books. You know the ones I mention on the website, and I will mention a few more of these sorts below. I know it isn't what you asked for, exactly"¦

To wit: I’m stuck. So many of the "Christian perspectives on" economics are just that---foundational texts for economists, which may be too "macro" in their approach, and overly abstract. Not to mention that they may be pretty critical of capitalism in ways that may resonate with solidarity activists with the poor, campaigners for Jubilee debt relief or Bread for the World, but simply may offend the sensibilities of those who work in the Financial District. I sympathize fully…in a less academic way, it is the problem I have selling those kind of books to ordinary middle class folks in the pew--we all shop at Wal-Mart and arrange our lives around the themes of the American Dream, and go to work each day doing whatever, but it is a stretch to ask them to read a book about global economics or the theology of work and calling. So I know your concerns.

Still, I’ve pondered the quick reply I wrote earlier, and think that (if I may be so bold) it could be that your leadership role in their development at this stage in their discipleship may be to encourage them (can you insist?) that they read up both on the philosophical basis of the very field they work in---economics---and that they be willing to host the possibilities that a Biblical worldview will be to some extent counter-cultural. I am sure that that doesn’t mean they must talk like leftists or look like hippies; Shane’s good work and important contribution and pirate persona isn’t exactly for everyone (although, I think that that in itself is a good conversation to have; how do people of means and workers in higher class places follow faithfully the Lord who said so little positive about the accumulation of wealth and often battled the establishment? I surely haven’t followed St. Francis or Dorothy Day or, now, Shane Claiborne, into that kind of lifestyle, and do not feel (too) badly that I have not. Ron Sider has been an ally in this journey, his books holding my feet to the proverbial fire, but always aware that he often says we are to--and he himself fully intends to---enjoy the fruits of God’s good creation, relish and celebrate the gifts of God and live simply but not ascetically. Given the truly radical call coming from those who take Jesus literally, Sider is really pretty balanced and moderate. God bless his balanced, prophetic call to work for justice without opting out in a monastic call to simplicity that cannot be sustained in the real world of jobs, production, consumption and such. And so I return to my earlier recommendation of his newest edition of the classic Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (Word; $15.99.) Everyone really should read it from time to time, especially those whose livelihoods are somehow connected to the global economy, even if they don’t feel that in a daily way…

I’m rambling here for two reasons: you have hit a nerve I have struggled with all my life about the questions of materialism--less now, I suppose, than ever before. (Good thing our business is’t very successful and we are not very well off. Ha!) And, because I so badly want to be a resource for those in the marketplace, including the task to "think Christianly about the specific practices of particular careers and jobs" and you are searching for what is an underrepresented field in the Christian literature. (As you said, there are plenty on work and business, but little specifically on investment banking, being a stockbroker or high financier and such.) So I ramble and worry, avoiding the truth that I don’t have much to offer that exactly fits the bill of your request. I am anguished by this, I really am, and yet so happy that you care about these things, that you have thought well about it yourself, and that we are the kind of friends who can be candid about this. Maybe eventually one of your young disciples will publish an essay or collect some thoughts that can be put into a book. In the meantime, here are some to consider.

A FEW ON ECONOMICS AND WEALTH

The Economy of Grace Kathryn Tanner (Fortress) $16.00 Tanner is a elegant theologian, a bit left of center, it seems, who wants to offer a Christian vision of economic life, rooted well in the doctrine of grace. As Douglas Meeks (God the Economist) writes on the back "In a money-driven global economy in which the rules of the market appear incorrigible and the consequences for the poor appalling, Tanner boldly develops a realistic alternative economy of grace." This is no less than attempting to develop a fair and viable alternative to capitalism. Very important.

The Business Corporation and Productive Justice David Krueger et al (Abingdon) $17.00 With a good forward by Max Stackhouse, and a great chapter by Laura Nash (who understands well the particularities of middle management and workers in the corporation, calling for "viable entry points") this could be very useful.

A High Price for Abundant Living: The Story of Capitalism Henry Rempel (Herald Press) $14.99 This Mennonite economist and professor has good experience both in the North American classroom and third world development projects. He studies Adam Smith (etceteras) and while I insist that Goudzewaard’s Capitalism and Progress is the definitive history of economic thinking, this is very practical, assessable and useful in posing prickly questions. It presumes that God calls us to accountability and raises helpful concerns rooted in "shared values" that he draws from Christianity (and other sources.)

Christianity and the Culture of Economics edited by Donald Hays and Alan Kreider (University of Wales Press) $32.95 Not only is this the only book we stock from the University of Wales Press (how cool is that?) it is a superb collection of a variety of thoughtful Christians offering informed debate on the key issues involved in the relationship of markets and spiritual values. Donald Hay is a leader in financial work in England and writes from a balanced and experienced perspective; other significant leaders are here too (Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach, whatever that is, and is an advisor at Goldman Sachs!) David Nussbaum has a chapter called "Does shareholder value drive the world?" which is good for thinking about corporations.

On Moral Business: Classical and Contemporary Resources for Ethics in Economic Life Edited by Max Stackhouse, et al (Eerdmans) $39.00 This fat paperback could easily cost twice the price and still be worth it if one wants a compendium of the best stuff written on economics and business. What a great collection of important documents, theological statements from the world religions, and excerpts of the best books written on this…a few of the most contemporary chapters are about recent corporate cultures and one on the world of trade and exchange.

Socially Responsible Investing: Making a Difference and Making Money Amy Domini (Dearborn) $19.95 I suspect that you know that not everyone is interested in this, and not all young workers in their field can demand only the most righteous of projects. Still, I would think that anyone working for the Biblical mandate for justice and wanting to make a different for the good in the world of high finance will want to be fluent in this conversation. This is a good place to start. The author is one of the foremost experts on socially responsible investing (SRI) . She has been cited by Barron’s as one of the mutual fund industry's 25 most influential people of the century.

Cash Values: Money and the Erosion of Meaning in Today’s Society Craig Gay (Regent College Publishing) $15.00 Gay is a thoughtful sociologist, using Biblically-framed insight into the nature of consumerism, the ways capitalism effects how we think and a description of how complex it is to be faithful in our times. Certainly not an uncritical apologist for the market as meaning-provider, yet it is appreciative of much of the achievements of modern capitalism, too. Really thoughtful and insightful.

Christ and Consumerism: A Critical Analysis of the Spirit of the Age edited by Craig Bartholomew & Thorsten Moritz (Paternoster) $20.99. This British book is doubtlessly the best thing done on this topic. A variety of pieces by various scholars, it explores consumerism from the vantage point of philosophy, ethics, economics, Biblical scholarship, etc. (One chapter, "The Old Testament and the Enjoyment of Wealth" illustrates the balance and moderate tone of these thoughtful pieces.)

Having: Property and Possession in Religious and Social Life edited by William Schweiker & Charles Mathewes (Eerdmans) $36.00 This is a magisterial and hefty collection of essays and articles on economics and ethics, asking what it means to "have" and what the proper role of wealth and property ought to be. Very academic and meaty, provocative work.

The Good Life: Genuine Christianity for the Middle Class David Matzko McCarthy (Brazos) $13.99 Only a portion of this nicely-written book is on work, wealth and materialism, so it resembles, in some ways, the wonderful, new IVP release, The Suburban Christian by Albert Ysu. Still, this pleasant and balanced critique of both extremes---the simple lifestyle movement that would appear to not appreciate a God-created world of good goods as well as the idolatry of unbridled economic growth---is a wonderful and insightful approach. This is an important book, I think, for anyone who dares to allow God's disruptive grace to shape our lifestyles, habits, practices and consumerist views.

The Rest of Success Denis Haack (IVP) $5.00 We have some of these out of print books available for this cheap price…a shame, in a way, as it is worth so very much. This is a reminder, especially to the ambitious, that there can be an idolatry to success. However, it is a solid reminder, too, that we need to fear success, wealth, although calling for just and ethical use, is not bad, and that there can be a proper rest to be celebrate for those who are faithful and fruitful in their high-powered careers. Lovely and very wise.

Doing Well & Doing Good: Money, Giving and Caring in a Free Society Os Guinness (Trinity Forum/NavPress) $15.00 These thoughtful resources (there are others in the series) are designed for small group discussions and enrichment for professionals and executives, leaders and people who need more than a small group Bible study. Drawing on the richest resources of the literature and philosophy, these readings are selected to help frame important conversations about deep things. This one on finances and philanthropy is wonderful, especially for people of means. Highly recommended.


A FEW ON BUSINESS AND WORK

I am sure you have resources on calling and vocation, books on work and general books on cultural engagement and whole-life discipleship. For beginners, don’t forget, for instance, Here I Am: Now What on Earth Should I Be Doing by Quentin Schultz or the more sophisticated, brilliantly-written classic by Os Guinness, The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life which I think are very, very foundational. I previously noted Steve Garber’s Fabric of Faithfulness; the new subtitle when the new cover comes out will be "Weaving Together Belief and Behavior" (dropping the phrase about the university years)since it finds readership in the corporate world as much as among college students. There are great books by Paul Stevens and William Banks, too, that continue to raise the questions of how lay folk can do theology in their workplace, find God in the ordinary, and live out Christian conviction in the public, vocational aspects of life. Call us if you want more suggestions…

Church on Sunday, Work on Monday: The Challenge of Fusing Christian Values with Business Life Laura Nash and Scotty McLennan (Jossey-Bass) $23.95 Although most beginners may not find this research-based report the place to begin, it is an excellent study for those of us looking for ways to advance this movement, equipping churches to care and workers to bring faith into their jobs. The empirical study has uncovered great information and stories at the intersection of spirituality and economic life.

Business as a Calling: Work and the Examined Life Michael Novak (Free Press) $25.95 As I think I said on the website, many consider this to be one of the classics writing in favor of democratic capitalism and exalting the value of the businessperson as an agent of social good. As Guinness says on the back, it "rehumanizes capitalism and remoralizes business. " Exceptionally important.

Business Through the Eyes of Faith Shirley Roels, Don Eby, Richard Chewning (Harper) I think this is excellent, although not everyone cares about all the various areas this covers, from wages to advertising, etc. Good stuff, though, so I wanted to remind you of it.

Just Business: Christian Ethics for the Marketplace Alexander Hill (IVP) $14.00 I take it you know Hill, formerly the dean of the school of business at Seattle Pacific. Not a full-blown study of economics or work, but specifically about various aspects of business ethics. Not a bad place to start, though, eh?

Serving Two Masters? Reflections on God and Profit C. William Pollard (Collins) $19.95 Pollard made his fortunes in ServiceMaster, about which he told in The Soul of the Firm. Here, he puts his views of money and profit into the context of his desire to be faithful as an executive in a large corporation. Inspirational and practical and honest.

Saving the Corporate Soul (& Who Knows?) Maybe Your Own David Batstone (Jossey-Bass) $26.95 I get his ezine (WAG) and his ability to speak wisely with language that incorporates Christian values without sounding overly religious or moralistic, is a gift which I greatly appreciate. Here, he offers eight principles for creating and preserving integrity and profitability without selling out. With what one reviewer called "easy-reading eloquence" Batstone contends that integrating personal and public morality is essential for thriving and healthy workplaces and redemptive business enterprises. Very nicely done.

God in the Pits: Confessions of a Commodities Trader Mark Ritchie (Macmillan) $18.95 Although it is out of print, we have one left; it is the memoir of a guy who lived his faith on Wall Street…said to be very moving and interesting, from a very successful trader. Maybe you’ve heard of this guy?

Joy at Work: A Revolutionary Approach to Fun on the Job Dennis Bakke (PVG) $24.95 With endorsements from folks as diverse as Bill Clinton and Jack Kemp, Peter Block and Peter Woicke (International Finance Corporation) this exciting book has made a big mark in the conversation about values in the work-world. Bakke, as you know, is an evangelical who is renowned for his extraordinary work in the global energy market. When writers such as Peter Block says that this is "simply the best book I have read about integrating human values and economic success" and that he has "changed the nature of the game of business forever" you know that this is a work that must be considered.

Shades of Darkness, Points of Light: Calling, Professionalism, and Shalom Carroll Guen Hart (Institute for Christian Studies) $10.00 A handsomely designed small paperback, this was a speech given upon her inauguration as Chair of Worldview Studies at Toronto’s ICS. Very provocative and thoughtful, on the history of the notion of the professional.

The Transforming Story of Dwelling House Savings and Loan: A Pittsburgh Bank’s Fight Against Urban Poverty Robert Wauzzinski (Edwin Mellon Press) $119.95 This is a book about an absolutely stunning story about one of my favorite people I have ever had the privilege to me, Mr. Robert Lavelle, founder of the African American, inner city bank, Dwelling House S&L. We have known Mr. Lavelle for years, and know him as a kind and sharply-dressed gentleman, a mover and shaker in civil rights and economic reform in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, and a savvy business man who lives his faith in the most radical of ways. This book documents how his efforts to re-think the very foundations of banking, re-forming rules and practices, principles and payments, so that the poor can get low-interest loans, enabling home ownership in an otherwise decaying urban ghetto. It is a nationally-known story, how these neighborhoods have been restored and how Mr. Lavelle’s innovative, Presbyterian principles for alternative loan structures have made the difference. This is a serious, academic book, written by an old friend who knows as much about Mr. Lavelle’s story as anyone, and who has great passion for using this story to forage into studies of wholesome economic development, racial justice, city life, the multi-dimensional nature of good theories and creative business practices that allow a financial institution to exude a different spirit. Sadly, this publisher serves mostly the library market, issued the book in a heavy hardback, and sells it for the ironically unrighteous price of $119.95. With a glowing forward by Dutch economist, the esteemed Bob Goudzewaard, this book is well worth tracking down at a library. Or call us, and we can offer a half-off deal (we lose money even on that, selling it for $60.00.) Still, if you know anybody that has influence in savings and loans, credit unions, banks or other lending institutions, or who wants to learn how to faithfully develop a life-long career being a truly Christian business person in the urban environment, this story is unlike anything you've ever heard. Let’s all pray for some miracle that would allow Dr. Wauzzinski to reclaim the rights and get it published nicely in a re-done, affordable paperback.