About September 2006

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

August 2006 is the previous archive.

October 2006 is the next archive.

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

September 2006 Archives

September 4, 2006

Labor Day books

A few weeks ago I sat through an otherwise adequate sermon, by a hip pastor at a progressive church. Said pastor called us properly to commitment, and used as examples, involvement in church stuff. Even a rousing litany of how to hear God's call upon our lives was exclusively about being a Sunday school teacher, deacon, committee member, etc. Such blatant disinterest in the callings of laypeople to serve the Lord of creation in the world outside of the church walls is almost surely a result of a bad view of creation, culture and work. When she cited the old heretical hymn "Turn your eyes upon Jesus"---you know, the one that stupidly says that "the things of Earth will grow strangely dim" I was sure that the pastor's worldview was fundamentally dualistic, which is to say unbiblical and problematic.

Well, I wonder how many church folks got good Labor Day sermons yesterday? I did not, even though my pastor could have done so; he has often cited the fabulous Heaven Is Not My Home: Living in the Now of God's Creation by Paul Marshall, in sermons that deal with work, social action or living faithfully in the world of commerce, culture or entertainment, and is not unaware of this topic. Still, I feel slighted too often when our litanies and hymns, praise songs and prayers, don't bring the duties and delights of work, citizenship, cultural and social involvements before the Throne of Grace. Do you sometimes feel like that? Like the bumpersticker which reads "If you're not alarmed, your not paying attention", I'd say if you don't yearn for more whole-life teaching, more prayers for the marketplace, more encouragement to bridge faith and culture, more applications of Sunday teaching for Monday obligations---you either go to a very exceptional church or "your not paying attention."

To wit:

1. Please take a glance if you haven't at our bibliography over at the website called "Books By Vocation." Where else can you find descriptions of basic books to offer Christian insight for so many fields of endeavor? From business to education, science to the arts, engineering to politics, we've put together this beginniner's guide to developing a Christian perpsective for your work.

2. Why not recommend such books to your small group, Sunday school class, fellowship or church library? Why not consider a book group at your own workplace, using, for Christians, a basic book on work such as Your Work Matters to God by Hendricks & Sherman (NavPress; $15) for instance, or John Beckett's Loving Monday or his new and very nice-looking Mastering Monday (both IVP) or the essential, foundational book on vocation, The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life by Os Guinness (Word; $17.99.) (The study guide in the back of the paperback makes it very useful.)

We have plenty of books on this topic, from nearly every denominational perspective, of varying lengths, levels and prices. For instance, we even have a hard-to-find, fabulous, brief collection of pieces that were delievered at a conference in Ontario, complete with responses and the fascinating transcript of the panel discussion held that day. Work & Leisure in the Life of a Christian (Burlington Reformed Study Centre; $7.95) was edited by Cornelis Van Dan & Kristen Kottelenberg Alkema and is very good. Our good friend and H&M cheerleader Gideon Strauss has a great chapter, as does his colleague from the Work Research Foundation, Ray Penning, and others.

3. Ask us about books that are not explicitly Christian, but that could be used in a general reading group, raising these questions. For instance, we stock Joy At Work: A Revolutionary Approach to Fun on the Job by Dennis Bakke. (PVG; $24.95.) It carries prestigious endorsements---Peter Block, Jack Kemp, Bill Clinton---and is, as you might hope, a fun book. Or, consider the moving and thoughtful Forgetting Ourselves on Purpose: Vocation and the Ethics of Ambition by Brian J. Mahan (Jossey-Bass; $19.95.) I know we've mentioned before the fabulous book by David Batstone (who writes for Sojourners ) called Saving the Corporate Soul And (Who Knows) Maybe Your Own (Jossey-Bass; $24.95.) We have long carried the two books that Gideon has been blogging about, too, by David Whyte, who uses poetry to get at the deeper meaning of work in our lives. We especially recommend Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrammage of Identity (Riverhead; $15) and his lovely The Heart Aroused:Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America (Currency; $15.95.) Speaking of which: Wendell Berry has written often about work, including the hard kind of physical labor, and has poetry about it.

4. As you think about your own spiritual journey, as many of us do this time of year, it seems, reflect on how your piety and prayers shape (or are shaped by) your primary callings and career. Look out for forms of spirituality that don't connect to the real world. Celebrate and promote those that do. Just for instance, what a delight to find a book which I presumed to be exclusively "inward" about "centering prayer"---the new The Centered Life by Jack Fortin (Augsburg Fortress; $9.99)---to be as much about work, career, calling, family and our civic obligations as much as the solitary experience of prayer and meditation. Struggling to "balance" different aspects of your life? Fortin suggests a different metaphor, one of a centered life. Very nice.

5. Find ways to engage your own pastoral leadership with this vision. I'm reading a wild homiletics book where the preacher hangs out, literally, with various workers in her congregation, to get a workworld take on the Scripture from which she will preach each week. It is a odd combo of a variety genres, but her story of driving around on a bull-dozer with a logger in her rural congregation was just wonderful. See: Prepare a Road! Preaching Vocation, Community Voice, Marketplace Vision by Kim L. Beckmann (Cowley; $15.95.) Preaching teacher extraordinaire David Schlafer notes how she brings together the work of Mary Catherine Hilkert, Nora Tubbs Tisdale, Lucy Rose and Barbara Brown Taylor. If these names of authors of homiletics texts mean anything to you, you'll know what he means.

More evangelical and clear is Lasting Investments: A Pastor's Guide for Equipping Workplace Leaders to Leave a Spiritual Legacy by Kent Humphreys (NavPress; $11.99.) Former President of IVCF and current professor of evangelism at Columbia Theological Seminary, Stephen Hayner says of it, "Explosive! This book is not only on my A-list for pastors, but also for those who know that they are called to make a difference in their work worlds." Would that many pastors would realize the strategic importance of their calling to equip layfolks to serve faithfully in their own varied and sundry jobs and callings. Hayner puts it on his "A-list for pastors" but I wonder how many have even heard of it?

6. Even if you aren't the sort that strikes up conversations or internet partnerships around these kinds of things, at least click on a few of our favorite sites that promote work-world reformation and say a prayer for them. (Better, cut and paste their addresses and send 'em out to those who would find it interesting.) There is so much dumb stuff on the internet, and the guys that rant are so popular... we have to keep these kind of important, rare, voices alive!

Check out the Work Research Foundation, a think tank with affliations to the Christian Labour Association of Canada (and subscribe to their wonderful weekly e-zine, Comment. It is among my few essential internet sources.) I've even written for Comment in a series they did about how to make the most of college. Don't hold that against them, though, as they are usually really, really smart.

Please visit Redeemer Presbyterian (in Manhattan) and their Center for Faith and Work. Again, we are glad to know of churches who take up this project of ministering to those in the workworld and think that the work of the Center is a helpful resource and model.

My dear, dear friend Steve Garber doesn't usually speak in specific detail about various job sites, the particulars of work or different careers. But he, better than anyone we know, burns with a yearning to have followers of Jesus "weave together belief and behavior" (see his Fabric of Faithfulness) in meaningful ways that sustain fidelity across the whole of life. His wonderous attentiveness to those who are asking big quesitons about integrity in their vocations is not cheap or simplistic; I'm glad his Washington Institute offers essays, articles, interviews and stories about his good conversations.

I don't know much about Mike McLoughlin, but his Faith at Work blog is a good introduction to the various kinds of things being talked about in this movement. Mike Metzger is one of the sharpest contributors to speaking of faith in a secularized corporate culture, and his passion for a relevant and effective impact is behind his good work at the Clapham Institute. I love his occasional email essays, and encourage you to sign up for them!

And, while praying and supporting these noble marketplace pioneers, give thanks for your job, if you have one, and for the unemployed and those who are employed with frustrating places. And, of course, for all the work that is done that isn't officially done as a paying job. May we all "practice the presence of God" as we dry dishes, mow lawns, care for our children and do our daily marketing. Happy Labor Day.

September 6, 2006

The Flash of a Fish Knife: Calvin Seerveld on good work

I did a posting on Labor Day about work, how church leaders ought to be intentional about helping honor the labors of ordinary folks, and listed some books and websites that we thought might be helpful. If you are reading this, you are most likely a friend of Hearts & Minds, and we are grateful that you are a part of our story, raising these questions, having these converstions, reading these books.

Few writers mean as much to me as Calvin Seerveld, and many of my favorite writers---just for instance, Steve Garber and Eugene Peterson, Paul Marshal and Al Wolters---esteem him. In my last post, I commended the e-zine Comment that comes out of the Work Research Foundation in Canada, since they often write about work-world matters. A few years ago they printed this excerpt of a classic piece by Dr. Seerveld. Seerveld, as you may know, writes about aesthetics (Rainbows for the Fallen World or Bearing Fresh Olive Leaves) and Biblical studies (How To Read the Bible to Hear God Speak or Voicing God's Psalms.) Here, he tells of his hard-working fish-monger father. I love it so, as it speaks to me on many levels and is so vividly written. This, my friends, is Biblical faith in all its real-world integrity.

What do you think??

The Flash of a Fish Knife
Winter 2000 - V. 1 I. 1
by Calvin Seerveld

My father is a seller of fish. We children know the business too having worked from childhood in the Great South Bay Fish Market, Patchogue, Long Island, New York, helping our father like a quiver full of arrows. It is a small store, and it smells like fish.

I remember a Thursday noon long ago when my Dad was selling a large carp to a prosperous woman and it was a battle to convince her that the carp, Òis it fresh?Ó

It fairly bristled with freshness, had just come in, but the game was part of the sale. They had gone over it anatomically together: the eyes were bright, the gills were a good colour, the flesh was firm, the belly was even spare and solid, the tail showed not much waste, the price was right--Finally my Dad held up the fish behind the counter, ÒBeautiful, beautiful! Shall I clean it up?Ó

And as she grudgingly assented, ruefully admiring the way the bargain had been struck, she said, ÒMy, you certainly didnÕt miss your calling.Ó

She spoke the truth. My father is in full-time service for the Lord, prophet, priest and king in the fish business. And customers who come in the store sense it. Not that we always have the cheapest fish in town! Not that there are no mistakes on a busy Friday morning! Not that there is no sin! But this: that little Great South Bay Fish Market, my father and two employees, is not only a clean, honest place where you can buy quality fish at a reasonable price with a smile, but there is a spirit in the store, a spirit of laugher, of fun, of joy inside the buying and selling that strikes an observer pleasantly; and the strenuous week-long preparations in the back rooms for Friday fish-day are not a routine drudgery interrupted by Òrest periods,Ó but again, a spirit seems to hallow the lowly work into a rich service, in which it is good to officiate.

When I watch my DadÕs hands, big beefy hands with broad stubby fingers each twice the thickness of mine, they could never play a piano; when I watch those hands delicately split the back of a mackerel or with a swift, true stroke fillet a flounder close to the bone, leaving all the meat together; when I know those hands dressed and peddled fish from the handlebars of a bicycle in the grim 1930's, cut and sold fish year after year with never a vacation through fire and sickness, thieves and disasters, weariness, winter cold and hot muggy summers, twinkling at work without complaint, past temptations, struggling day in and day out to fix a just price, in weakness often but always in faith consecratedly cutting up fish before the face of the Lord: when I see that, I know GodÕs Grace can come down to a manÕs hand and the flash of a scabby fish knife.

Reprinted in Comment, Winter 2000, by permission of the author.

© Work Research Foundation 2006


September 10, 2006

Jeremiah, Brueggemann and 9/11

Here are some quotes from Fire in the Bones: Listening for the Prophetic Word in Jeremiah by Walter Brueggemann. I exclaimed about the significance of this new book a few weeks ago in a brief blog post. In keeping with our sober mood today, I thought IÕd offer a few of his thoughts, to be read carefullyÉ BrueggemannÕs observationÑa key to his decades of work---that the Bible calls us to Òembrace exileÓ has been profoundly helpful to me in the very hard times of grief and despair. It is not meant to be glib or unkind, and, for me, is a more honest ruminationÑin light of the whole Biblical narrative, and the very real horror of 9/11 (and the sadnesses of those many who lost loved ones that day) ---than the more obviously sentimental words of comfort. *** The longer I have worked on Jeremiah, the more I have been struck by the incredible contemporaneity of those materials. Of course the text stands at a distance from us, and that distance must be taken seriously. But once that distance is acknowledged, much of the text sounds as though it had been written about our time and place. Specifically, I have found it interpretively suggestive to see an analogue between the destruction of Jerusalem in the sixth century around which the book of Jeremiah pivots, and the crisis of 9/11 in U.S. society. Ésymbolically the significance of the vent is enormous because it represents the undoing of U.S. exceptionalism, the notion that the United States by the providence of God is not subject to the laws of history as is every other nation state. That same sense of exceptionalism operated in ancient Jerusalem, under the aegis of king and temple, to claim that Jerusalem was immune to the vagaries of history. That destruction of Jerusalem made the continuation of that illusion in ancient Israel impossible. Mutatis mutandis, the crisis of 9/11 also constitutes a recognition that U.S. exceptionalism is broken; that is why the disaster is so acute for those who practice the ideology of the United States as a privileged superpower, and why the break is so unnerving for a younger generation that has never had the occasion to questions that unspoken but widely assumed claim. In both ancient Jerusalem and in contemporary U.S. society, life and faith after the loss of exceptionalism constitute a deep challenge that at the same time evokes denial and generates despair and cynical violence. (from the Preface page xxi)

***
JeremiahÕs word borne in Israel concerns the end of the known world, the world presided over by the kings and priests of this age, who imagine themselves secure and stable and safe. Jeremiah must assert that the world, organized against GodÕs covenantal faithfulness, will and must end, perhaps by the hand of Babylon. Such a terrible ending is always thought to be Òtoo hardÓ (impossible) for YHWH (32:27). But YHWH can do it; life is forfeited if it tries YHWH too long.

JeremiahÕs word born among JudahÕs exiles is about the beginning of a new world wrought only by the mercy and freedom of God. This is a new possibility judged by hopeless former rulers to be impossible. They believe that there can be no new thing. Such a new world with a new David, a new covenant, a new healing, is always thought to be Òtoo hardÓ for YHWH. But YHWH can do it. Life is given again when YHWH is known to be the giver of newness.
(from a chapter called Jeremiah: Portrait of a Prophet page 17)

***
How do we move from Òthere is no peaceÓ to announcing ÒpeaceÓ and Ògood newsÓ? The answer is that peace, which is impossible and not available, becomes possible and available when, and only when, the holy city is dismantled and God is driven back to square one to create a new people and to rebuild a new city. Peace could not be announced to Jerusalem, God would not rule in power, until its idolatrous organization of public life had come to an end. Peace is not possible until there is a dismantling of the holy citadel and an embrace of exile as the place of GodÕs newness.
(from a chapter called A World Available for Peace page 177)

September 16, 2006

Booksellin' Travels With Byron

Earlier this week I spent nearly two full days packing up a big display of books which we drove literally in the middle of the night, out to Western PA. It has been months since I have had the opportunity to be with my campus ministry friends at the Coalition for Christian Outreach---I helped with their new staff training this summer, and taught some of their best and brightest students at the OCBP, both of which I blogged about in what seems like another era. But their whole staff, together, asking about books and buying resources renewed our sense of purpose this busy fall. Those who do campus ministry need all kinds of stuff, from the recent studies about collegiate life (God on the Quad by Naomi Riley, for instance, or Binge: What Your College Students Won't Tell You) to the details of Christian doctrine and discipleship, spirituality, and social ethics. We sold Piper and Manning, Merton and Foster, Yancey and McLaren, Calvin and Peterson. I'm so glad we sold more of Shane Claiborne's fiesty little Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical and the Relevant Press brief handbook about how to be involved as advocates for a variety of social issues, The Revolution: A Field Manual for Changing Your World. The days are increasingly past when those with standard evangelical theology ignore the burning human rights issues of the day. One of the big sellers this time that I promoted was the brand new, 4th edition of the thoughtful book by John Stott, Issues Facing Christains Today which we are very happy to see back in print in an expanded version. It has thoughtful, Biblical perspectives on dozens of social issues, from the dignity of work to bioethics, from sexual ethics to politics and poverty, from racial justice to how to speak faithfully in a pluralistic culture. It is a very helpful resource, wise, passionate and serious without being overly arcane or academic.

Of course we sell books on sexuality and dating, on pastoral care issues, things on church, worship, the emergent conversation, stuff on the arts and pop culture, science, business, education, and, the forte of the CCO, general worldviewish, whole-life discipleship books that help students work out the implications of their faith for their academic work, their vocations and callings and careers. If you know any college age students, please consider getting them the elequant and wise Engaging God's World: A Christian Vision of Faith, Learning and Living by Neal Plantinga. James Sire on the Discipleship of the Mind: Learning to Love God in the Ways We Think is stellar, also, and the kind of book most students raised in typical churches don't know about. Helping a young generation of Christian students to take the life of the mind seriously, to study well--thinking Christianly in light of Biblical truth---is a huge passion of ours, and it thrills us to sell these kinds of books to CCO staff. You can check here to see where the various schools where CCO does their work.

After getting back to Dallastown, we re-arranged a few fixtures in our store and hosted an event this evening with a local high school friend who, for part of his school work, taught the history of philosphy (in two hours!) over cookies and coffee to a batch of teen friends, parents and teachers. What a delight to have such a good few hours of good conversation about faith and, as Chaus put it, "the most important questions." We didn't sell any books, but it was music to our ears to here young people citing authors, books, texts and titles. And we have some tasty left-over goodies. It has been a good few days.

Thanks for your support of our work, your business and your willingness to tell others about our reviews. Without buiness support, we simply cannot sustain our efforts to talk about and make available a the mix of titles we promote. We hope you take pleasure in knowing you are somehow a part of it all...Sabbath peace be yours.

September 20, 2006

What You Didn't Learn From Your Parents About...

I mentioned the CCO and my work with them last week----a pretty awesome gang of mostly younger folk working with college age students. Of course they are pretty normal, and they read widely, but, often, fairly traditionally evangelical. We sell J.I. Packer and John Piper as much as McLaren or Grenz. Even in their fairly mature social ethics, they would, for instance, be as interested in Ron Sider or John Perkins as Jim Wallis or Walter Wink. We sell some Marva Dawn and Eugene Peterson and Tom Wright---who know the best of the tradition, and hold it seriously, and less Borg or Spong. Interestingly, that kind of liberal tradition seems only to sell in places where there are old people. Interestingly, despite their serious reading of, for instance, Walsh & Middleton on postmodernity (Truth Is Stranger Than It Used to Be, which is still the must-read on that topic) there isn't as much interest in the emergent stuff as one might expect. It is a good, good, group.

They do long for books of spiritual formation, they want testimonies of authentic faith, they want substance coupled with great joy. I push the worldview stuff, Os Guinness, thebooks on faith as it is folded into the collegiate experience, and Steve Garber, of course. But, after all, they are working with young adults, and even that wholistic stuff about developing the "mind of Christ" is not as urgent as books on body image, sexual healing, deeply spiritual reminders of God's great love (Abbas Child by Brennan Manning, for instance) and stuff that is, well, just a bit quirky.

During a recent on-line conversation with a customer who read of our awareness of these young adult ministries---maybe I mentioned Sharon Parks, even---we had some discussion about the lack of twentysomethings in most churches. And so, here are just a few book covers to look at that show some of the recent kinds of stuff that seems aimed at that age group. Call it the influence of the twenty-something version of Anne Lamott, Donald Miller. He's the man, of course. (If you don't know who he is, and your at a church with any sizable batch of twenty-something readers, ask them. If they aren't readers, order Blue Like Jazz or Searching for Gods Knows What immediately.) Younger readers want stuff that speakers their language, books that are somehow a bit ironic and aware of the sad goofiness of most churchy experience. They want the real deal.

In these last few years, the think line has been especially good at finding authors and marketing them well to the hipper side of the tracks for the younger crowd. For instance, Turner is a hoot of an author, and this new one (above, with the fishies) is the first of a series. Each will start with that "What You Didn't Learn From Your Parents About..."
Tony Jones is well known, and this is his brand new, not your old-school lectio devina book. Ancient-future, as they say. And check out the sub-title of the Plastic Jesus title: Exposing the Hollowness of Shallow Christianity. Eric Sandras' earlier book, a buck-naked honest portray of his faith journey, some of which made my hair stand on end, was called Buck Naked Faith. This, I think, is indicative of what is interesting for many of our younger customers.

September 23, 2006

SPECIAL PRICE on Philip Yancey & Marva Dawn



Earlier this week saw the release of what may be the two most anticipated books of the (early) fall around here, both in the genre of what might be called spirituality. Ahh, but these aren't just two touchy-feely books about God. These are two of our most eminent lay theologians and exquiste writers who have spent a lifetime pondering the big stuff. One is one of the most known evangelical writers, the other a prolific servant of Christ we are honored to have as part of the Hearts & Minds circle of friends.

Yes, the new Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? (Zondervan; $21.99) and the new Marva Dawn Joy In Divine Wisdom: Practicies of Discernment from Other Cultures and Christian Traditions (Jossey-Bass; $21.99) are now available. Both are handsome hardcovers, both very thoughtful and, it seems, nicely written. And both deserve to be talked about, reviewed, passed around. Which is to say, gentle reader, they deserve to be purchased.

Yancey claims, we're told, that this is his best book in years. On the back it says (and I do not for a minute believe it is just hype) that he "probes the very heartbeat---the most fundamental, challenging, perplexing, and deeply rewarding aspect---of our relationship with God." I suspect it is asking, as it is often put, "Does prayer change us or God? Or both?" What can we really expect from prayer; that is, does it work? and how so? I would guess I don't have to tell you that a quick skim through the footnotes shows that Yancey is as widely-read as most, and draws on surprising sources. He is a very sharp thinker and a good journalist. I am sure it will be great.


Joy In Divine Wisdom is the third in the interesting "Enduring Questions in the Christian Life" series. The long subtitle is important as it shows her topic---she is showing how we in the West are too often prone to talk about "finding God's will" as if that is a magic bullet or simple technique. Rather, she (and many other of our best formation writers) are suggesting we use the spiritual language of discernment. And---and here is were it gets really interesting---she shows that even for many who adopt this spiritual practice, we still tend to approach it individualistically. In other cultures, there are more communal discernment customs. Folks who are less autonomous learn how to discern together the work of the Spirit in their midst.

Only one long blurb graces the back of this important volume and it is by Ms Dawn's friend and colleague, Eugene Peterson. I hope you know that that speaks volumes. Dawn is a good scholar, a passionate and delightful speaker, a hard-hitting prophet. Her book is well worth pondering. Just make sure you, uh, read it together.

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September 26, 2006

Hearing the Voice of Jesus: Spiritual Discernment



Thanks to our friends at the Center for Spiritual Formation for, once again, allowing us to make their excellent events just a bit more snazzy----rows of books under our blue tablecloths seem to be a "value added" extra for any cool conference. That we get to hang around serious folks seeking a greater sense of God's will and get to hear the speakers they bring in, well, that is extra for us! What a great day we had with Gordon T. Smith, former dean of Regent College in Vancouver, BC.

We've followed Smith's work for years, and have sold books on consigment for his appearances before. I loved his book Courage and Calling which explores not only the dynamic doctrine of calling and vocation, but offers deeply spiritual processes for discerning a call to a particular career area. His book Beginning Well was one I described at a website review years ago; it makes the case that the early years of a new converts spiritual journey are important, setting the stage, as such conversions do, for a lifetime trajectory. It is important, for those of us who do evangelism, mentor youth, or guide others in Christian growth to "get it right" early on. I really appreciated his fairly novel insights in that very thoughtful work. (That the C.S. Lewis Institute mentoring program in DC has picked it up as a required text for their people assured me that it really is as good as I thought.)

For the "day apart" with the Center for Spiritual Formation, Smith assured us of God's love. That wild and extravagent claim is the foundation for wise decision making, and he made the case with impeccable teaching. He was a top-class speaker, very thorough, interesting, funny. He blessed us with nice comments about booksellers and commended our work to his audience. It was a day well spent. May we recommend two of his most recent, the first of which is an excellent (rather Protestant) introduction to the classic discernment steps of the Ignatian method (or here) (man, you'd think this CMA pastor was a Jesuit!**) See his wonderfully rich The Voice of Jesus: Discernment, Prayer and the Voice of the Spirit (IVP; $15.00.) His other new one is called The Holy Meal:The Lord's Supper in the Life of the Church (Baker; $11.99) where he argues that communion is an important sacrament that has usefulness in our discernment and decision-making. Fascinating and highly recommended.


**Well, he's very well read, and besides Ignatius of Loyola, he commended, especially, Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley. How's that for being ecumenical! On lectio he commended Eugene Peterson's Eat This Book.

Check out Gordon's current work with reSource Leadership, helping third world seminary librarians and other such audacious efforts, thinking that raising money for books can change the world. Bless him!

September 27, 2006

Theological Forum

Well, this may not have come out as clearly as I would have wished, but the Derry Presbyterian Church in sweet-smelling Hershey PA have done some remarkable stuff over the years, and this is their flyer about this weekend's event. That I am lecturing there this weekend (four big ones; two book talks, too! Weeeeee!) is a bit perplexing; they have previously brought in extraordinary authors and famous people. We usually get to sell books at their Forum, so it is stunning to be asked to play a larger role this year. So there you have it: God, or at least Presbyterians, works in mysterious ways.

Still, I am very excited to be with them and have been looking forward to is; as you may guess, I'm eager to unload more visionary "Christ transforms culture" stuff than they may ever wish. (They did host Tom Sine once, though, and he's one of the only guys around that talks faster than I do.) Please pray for us all, that we will have conversations that bear fruit, for God's glory and our neighbors sake. As we work to bring restoration to the world around us, we must remind ourselves that it is so that people are loved, and God is glorified. Somehow, we trust that the books sold and the talks given and the discussions had will end up serving noble ends of theologically sound strategic thinking about lasting cultural influence. Thanks to friends old and new at Derry for inviting us. I'm packing the Borger Bookmobile tonight with more boxes than I guy like me should carry, loading up the van in the late-night rain. But I don't mind--- Chocholate-town, here we come!

PS: Of all the odd things to recommend for edifying reading on this, may I commend two eccentric selections. Go to Comment and read the tribute to a mentor of mine who died years ago (Hodgkins) who was an itinerent philospher who had studied under Dutch Kuyperian scholar, Herman Dooyeweerd. Dr. Pete Steen was a flamboyant campus minister in the 1970's helping students care about the Lordship of Christ over all of life, particularly the flow of ideas in Western culture, and I was asked to write about him for Comment. I doubt if his name will come up in the Derry presentaitons, but I wouldn't be there if it were not for his influences so many years ago.

Secondly, in last month's Books & Culture there is a long story on the relationship between Reinhold Niebuhr and Billy Graham. The narrative unfolds mostly in the 50's, when Niebuhr publically and regularly offered critique to Graham's truncated and personalisitic gospel, even in public magazines like Life. Billy read most of what N wrote and their interviews about each other are remarkable social history and important theological reflections. Interestingly, Graham thanked N for his work and for helping him see the social/structural aspects of human sinfulness.

And, while I'm at it, read John Wilson's very astute critique of Randal Balmer's book on the evangelical right, which also appeared in Books & Culture. These evangelical-mainline disucssions about the content of our doctrine and the shape of our public witness is of great interest to me. That many---including Randy, who Wilson thinks ought to know better--nearly demonize the evangelical tradition and caricatures their views, is very unfortuante.