About October 2006

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

September 2006 is the previous archive.

November 2006 is the next archive.

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

October 2006 Archives

October 4, 2006

Christianity for the Rest of Us

Before telling you about this thrilling and important new book by Diana Butler Bass, I should take this opportunity to publically thank my friends and hosts at Derry Presbyterian Church in Hershey, PA for offering such hospitality and interest during my lectures there this past weekend. As you may have seen from the previous blog posting, I gave a series of talks on contemporary culture, the art of Christian discernment, and how our Presbyterian and Reformed tradition can fund the project of a uniquely Christian discernment of the ethos of modern culture. This was me speaking in the broadest of terms about a wholistic, Biblical worldview, the call to think in ways which honor Christ's Lordship, the dangers of dualism and gnosticism and cultural accomodation, the excitement of church ministry that equips lay folk to live out their faith in robust and coherent ways in the various social spheres and aspects of their lives. I told stories about those who are transforming the culture; some frustrating ones of those who are not. From worldviewish books like Transforming Vision and Heaven Is Not My Home to daily spirituality like Practicing the Presence of God; from books on vocation like Os Guinness's The Call to guides to civility in the public square like Rich Mouw's wonderful Uncommon Decency; from books on work to books on the arts, books on urban & suburban ways of being to books on the spirituality of the ordinary, we recommended resources all weekend long to the gathered community of learners and at their Sunday morning Book Fair. Thanks to all that came (including old friends) and to those who helped with food and books and details. At least one participant blogged a bit about my teaching, and it is more generous than I deserve. Still, you can check it out, and see the other very good stuff there, too, penned by Brian Rice, a local pastor, good friend, long-time H&M customer and leader in mentoring young pastors in missional settings.

Derry seemed to take well my passionate call to be more intentionally Reformed and more seriously engaged in cultural criticism. Of course they were open because, well, they are involved in just this interface of reading the Word and reading the world. They are a theologically rich, if moderate, mainline church with tons of energy and class. With the good weekend with these folks in my heart, it is a perfect time to celebrate this long-awaited, well-written and thoughtful book, Christianity for the Rest of Us, a book that, like some at Derry (it seems) articulates an experience of the faith that is something other than the typical one in recent press reports. That it, it is neither politically conservative nor mega-church evangelical, yet is commited to serious thinking, mature theology, caring community, and devout discipleship. This tells the tale that many of us know to be true--the one that the typical media report rarely gets right, namely, that not all mainline churches are sloppy or dying.

Bass's description of the best practices of vibrant mainline congregations is fantastic and fascinating; Derry could even be one of the congregations that Ms Bass talks about here. I will blog and review this more later, but for now, know that her research has taken her to churches all over the theological and geographic spectrum and she is happy to announce that the much-reported death of the mainline church is, like Mark Twain's death, seriously exxagerated. In ...For the Rest of Us she describes those kind of things that she sees bringing renewal to fairly ordinary, often somewhat left-of-center, deeply spiritual mainline parishes. She does her "sociology of congregations" work in ways that are memoiristic and delightfully explained. It makes for a wonderfully engaging read.

You may know that I loved Diana's award-winning memoir, Strength for the Journey: A Pilgrimage of Faith in Community and raved about her powerful little book about undue patriotism in church in her Broken We Kneel: Reflections on Faith & Citizenship. Her more academic report of robust progressive churches, published by the Alban Institute, is called Practicing Congregations: Imagining a New Old Church. She then quickly edited a fabulous collection of stories about these churches called From Nomads to Pilgrims: Stories of Practicing Congregations. All of these are splendid, and this new one is no exception.

25% OFF
Please mention this offer by emailing or calling

Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church Is Transforming the Faith
Diana Butler Bass (Harper Collins) $23.95.

October 6, 2006

Book of the Year?

Is Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith by Diana Butler Bass (Harper SanFransico; $23.95) the book of the year? Some surely think so, and we are very excited about it, as I posted earlier this week. As always, Diana is a gracious writer, an astute observer, and a faithful Christian servant, helping us all along the journey of faith as she explains the best practices of those vibrant mainline churches that she visited. It is quite a road-trip, a pilgrimage, and it is so well-written. I've got a few qualms here and there, some beefs I may write more about later. But, know this: it is among the best books I've read all year, and very important, interesting, and helpful.

Here are the chapter titles from Part II, which she calls "Ten Signposts of Renewal." (Her description of why signposts, a playful comparison of driving by map and intuition and real-time looking around rather than MapQuest is clever and insightful.) So here they are, signposts for the journey:


Know any churches that embody some of these practices as they form a counter-cultural spirituality for the sake of the world? Are they modeled after mega-churches? Did they get that way from strategic planning sessions and church growth seminars? Do they have strictly conservative theology? I didn't think so. Ms Bass is on to something, here, debunking the myth that only evangelical churches are growing, and inviting us to serious reflection on what it means to come home to authentic community in a vibrant mainline church.

It really may be the book of the year...

See the last blog post for the 25% off BookNotes Blog Special discount deal. Call us soon.

For a great link to the research project site that Bass worked for, go here (The Project on Congregations of Intentional Practice.)

October 7, 2006

3 new edgy reads on church life

Since I was raving this week about the new Diana Butler Bass book, I thought I'd mention a few other new books about the church that I thought might be interesting. One is brand new and looks awesome, another came out a month ago and is unique as a voice of a 20- something writer and nicely formatted. The third is, well, just listen...

First, there is the brand new Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture by Michael Frost (Hendrickson; $19.95.) Frost was a co-author of the very, very significant The Shaping of Things To Come and the lovely and creative Seeing God in the Ordinary. This may be one of the most important new paperbacks to explore the disillusionment of those who've had it with disengaged, boring congregational life and who desire a faith that is edgy, faithful, transformational and attends to the pains of our lives and our world. Trust me, you will be hearing more of this book. Hard-hitting, to say the least.

Dear Church: Letters From a Disillusioned Generation Sarah Cunningham (Zondervan; $12.99) I will admit that these letters are not the finest of brillant literary gold. They are interesting, honest, packed with good stories and solid sociological stuff. Each "letter" is a candid heart-cry from this twenty-something, asking the church to be what it ought to be. What is really helpful are the take home points at the end of each chapter and the helpful discusion quesitons, making this useful for a twenty-something study group or an any-age book club who cares about the fact that most churches have simply lost most of this age group. Does anybody care? If so, at least consider reading this book. Or give it to your pastor.

The Dust off Their Feet: Lessons From the First Churh Chris Seay, Brian McLaren and friends (Nelson; $9.99) Perhaps you have heard that a gang of mostly emergent voices--- McLaren, Seay, Chuck Smith, Jr., Andrew Jones, and others writers like Phyllis Tickle, Lauren Winner and Bible scholars such as Darrel Bock and Peter Davids are doing a creative, multi-
faceted Bible translation called The Voice. This is their version of the Book of Acts. Along with the fresh translation there is some art, poetry and punchy commentary, even some case-studies of congregations trying to live out the narrative of Acts. Who thought that the First Church in Acts is actually the original Emerging Church? Ha! Dr. Luke gets powerfully updated here, and before the Greek language purists complain, I'm told that they do a good job. It sure looks cool. The first volume in The Voice project came out a while back and is a nicely produced hardback telling the story of the passion of Holy Week (called The Last Eyewitness.) This one is trim-sized paperback and well worth passin' around.

Please visit the great project website at www.hearthevoice.com

Have you heard about the alt-folk albums they are doing, too? The first one was selected Psalms and we've got it; the next----amazing!---will take the texts from Handel's Messiah and put them to new contemporary tunes. How great is that?! (I'll blog about that when it comes.) Performing artists such as Derek Webb, Waterdeep, Lori & Don Chafer, Jill Phillips, Jamie Smith, Sandra McCraken... Here is a good review of the first one.

October 9, 2006

Wells in paperback

I am literally heading out the door in moments to go sell books at one of our favorite three day events, a retreat for leaders in small churches (or, in our Presbyterian lingo, "Wee Kirks.") County folk, mostly, sharp and good pastors of small congregations---some quite rural, and some inner city. Some sad and struggling, but many vibrant and content with their quality of congregational life. They host us well and buy as many books as their budgets allow. Amazing Matthew scholar Dale Allison is one of the main speakers, and I may blog about his books we we get back.

But for now, as I am leaving, I get to shout---little drum roll, please: This just in! I've blogged just a bit about some emerging church type books (like the post on Exile) and how liberal congregations are finding practices to live authentic and faithfully in these times (like the post on Christianity for the Rest of Us), and, now, it is time to announce the paperback which will challange much of that. It is the fourth (and, he says, final) volume in the stellar series on contemporary culture by Gordon Conwell professor, Dr. David F. Wells. When he is not spending time in Africa volunteering in an AIDS clinic, or traveling the country preaching old-fashioned, mature and thoughtful Reformed doctrine, David has been working on these marvelously interesting surveys of ways in which evangelicalism, especially, has been eroded of its essential center by the forces of the modern world.

Above All Earthly Powers: Christ ina Postmodern World has just come out in paperback ($15) and at over 300 dense pages, it is one of the better bargains in the business these days. Of course he would be quick to critique the way consumerism has molded our very thinking about choice and change (yes, he seems to have been influenced by the sociological school of Peter Berger and Os Guiness) so my shout out to this cheap price may, in subtle ways, help bring down the Truth of the Gospel.

I only have my tongue half in cheek, since Dr. Wells wouldn't be so silly as to say an inexpensive book price is the demise of Western civilization. But, surely, this kind of analysis---how things as mundane as prices, mass markets, communications and suburbanization have effected our ways of thinking and being--is very, very important. I commend this hard-hitting study.

J.I. Packer says it has "masterful breadth and penetrating insight..." with "prophetic perception."

Mark Noll summarizes his survey by noting the plague of postmodernism as "hyper-
consumerism, functional nihilism, and meandering egotism"

Timothy George insists that it is "an important book for everyoe who cares about the integrity of the gospel and the missional future of the church."

Above All Earthy Pow'rs: Christ in a Postmodern World David F. Wells (Eerdmans) $15.00

October 12, 2006

a rural novel, a fight for a small town, and a love story called Truck

I mentioned in my last post---the one about the important, new David Wells paperback on hyper-modernism and the need for firmer, evangelical theology---that I was going to a Wee Kirk conference. That is, a "small church" retreat, for leaders and pastors in Presbyterian congregations that are small, often rural, and working to determine how to be faithful and missional in their small town settings. It is always a good event. I want to thank here the folks that hosted us, helped us lug boxes o books, and set up said books.
We appreciate the casual mood, the fun times, the Godly desire for true renewal.

One of the speakers, the brillant Matthew scholar, Dale Allison, gave a ponderous and heart-felt lament that we are increasingly in a culture that does not read. I think he was correct to affirm the role of fiction, and he encouraged us all to do what we can to support the old practices of reading real books.

Well, let me riff on that just a bit by noting a few books---novels and creative memoirs---about the importance of a sense of place, a commitment to one's region, people and land, books that might be of interest to anybody who laments the loss of the places we love. Or who celebrates the fight for the places we love.

I'd like to think this is fitting, since these stories portray in vivid ways, the social context for Wee Kirks. These are, fun as they are, really, really important. We are thrilled to commend them.

This Heavy Silence: A Novel Nicole Mazzarella (Paraclete) $14.95 We raved about this in a larger review over at the website a few months back, and it is now out in paperback (complete with a reader's group study guide for book clubs.) Set in Ohio farmland, this is a very moving and well-told story of a single woman farmer, fighting to keep her farm afloat for a young girl she has taken in...It won the presitigious first novelist award offered by Paraclete at the Calvin College Festival of Faith and Writing, was heralded in Publisher's Weekly, garnered a coveted starred review in Library Journal and was the winner of the 2006 Christy Award in the first novel catagory. Ms Massarella must know a lot about rural life and the vocation of farming for she realizes the necessary details with exquiste beauty and meaning.

Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette: A Mostly Affectionate Account of a Small Town's Fight to Survive Bill Kauffman (Picador) $12.99 Kauffman was an inside-the-
Washington-beltway-mover-and-shaker who came to his senses and proved the old adage wrong. You can go home again, and you can learn to care about small places (including the Muckdogs, the local minor league baseball team) and you can wax elequant about saving old buildings, supporting a local economy, fighting Wal-Mart and other grimy aspects of industrialized uniformity, and learning to care about one's region's ecology, history, lives and deaths. Kauffman is really, really smart, is remarkable as a rural historian (see his brillant collection of pieces called Look Homeward America about which I will write more, soon.) I'd say he does for small towns what Wendell Berry does for rural Appalachia, but that isn't quite it. But close. Dispatches... was maybe my favorite book of the last hot summer, enjoyable, inspiring, learned and funny. God bless this "placeist" and his odd little Batavia, New York.

Truck: A Love Story Michael Perry (Harper) $24.95 I must warn that this is not out quite yet--due in a couple of weeks. I got an advanced copy, with a funny old note from the author, which made me really, really, happy. I read his popular Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time about his small town Wisconson ambulance work, and raved, here, about his collection of thoughtful, fun, rural essays, Off Main Street.I love this Perry guy. This is heart-felt stuff, funny and real, and I want you to know about him if you don't. Pre-order it here and I will give you a big ol' whup-a** discount of 25% off and ship it the day it arrives. And you know, I don't say that every day!

October 16, 2006

new Sting Lute recording

Okay, how cool is this? We are watching our new favorite show, the fabulously interesting and well-written Aaron Sorkin drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and just sitting there with my jaw open (again) at how he has incorporated a character who is an evangelical Christian playing as one of the cast of the edgy SNL-like comedy that the show is about. She shares her very articulate testimony to a Vanity Fair reporter as she tells of her love of Christ, her Godly mother and her love of comedy. And then, on comes rock star Sting (the musical guest in the show within a show that week) doing a piece from his brand new lute album, which we were playing just an hour earlier here at the house.

Yep, Sting's new album---which we stock at Hearts & Minds---is called Songs From the Labyrinth (on the Deutsche Grammophon label) and it is music written by John Dowland(1563-1626.) Joining Sting on the lute and archlute (don't ask me) is Edin Karamozov. (The older Sting hit Fields of Gold, which he did on the show, is not on this recording.) A few readings from letters of the 16th-17th century composer Dowland are read over evocative lute solos, making this a "musical soundtrack to the composer's life." Read a nice review here.

For lute fans, by the way, I've been playing a new CD (on the Italian classic label, Stradivarius) called Concerti a liuto Solo which is comprised of solo lute compositions by Antonio Vivaldi. It is preformed by Paolo Cherici, who may not have the street cred of Sting but is highly regarded in early music circles. It is truly lovely.

Pop culture and our real life. What fun.

October 20, 2006

new Walt Mueller---lean but not mean

Since I actually referenced a hip TV show in my last post (and admitted I loved the thing) and then proudly strutted our classical music sensitivities by describing two lovely new lute recordings that we stock at the shop, I thought I'd segue into a promo of something I'm very happy to announce---a new, inexpensive and astute little book about media and pop culture by our old friend Dr. Walt Mueller.

You may recall a half a year ago I gushed over the serious and important Walt Mueller book, Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture (IVP; $17.) The great subtitle speaks volumes: "Bridging Teen Worldivews and Christian Truth." We stock oodles of youth group curriculum pieces, youth ministry guides, books about fun and games for teens, 'tweener Bible studies, and all the many (quite good) new books about kids and spiritual formation. We don't really view ourselves as the deep end of the youth ministry gene pool, but we are geeky enough to get excited about stuff like Chris Smith's Soul Searching and what's not to love about a semi-scholarly, secular book with a title like Murray Milner's Freaks, Geeks and Cool Kids: American Teenagers, Schools, and the Culture of Consumption. I wish we had more time and space to tell you about these kinds of books---for instance, our latest find, newly published by Pilgrim Press, is Branded: Adolescents Converting From Consumer Faith by Katherine Turpin ($24) and it deserves serious attention.

But Walt's IVP book, based on his extraordinary work at the Center for Parent & Youth Understanding (known as CPYU) stands out. It has solid theological meat, it takes God's call to steward culture seriously, and it is as up-to-date and current as anything on the market. Walt has earned a reputation for bringing together some of the best scholarship on youth culture and bringing it to us in entertaining, useful and faithful ways. Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture is a must-read!

Now, he has out his mini-mini-version. Standard Publishers approached him to do a lean version as part of a new pocket guide series, a batch of brief books with full-color photos and graphics and sidebars on every page. Walt's is called I Want to Talk With My Teen About Movies, Music & More. It sells for just $8.99 and it fits the nice pattern of the other quick-guides in this series. Dr. M here helps us recognze the importance of media, explores the power of music and movies to shape opinions and values, and offers his "assesment tool" to discover and discern what is going on in artifacts of popular culture.

I Want to Talk to My Teen About Movies, Music & More Dr. Walt Mueller (Standard Publishing) $8.99

October 24, 2006

The Christian Imagination

Some customers have told us that they enjoy hearing of our travels; I suspect it may get tiresome for others. We may be idealistic to think it excites you to hear that we've sold books here or there, that we are one step closer to maybe being solvent this year, that God's people were served as they were introduced to volumes that, frankly, they wouldn't have seen elsewhere. We thank you for your prayers and support and interest. Beth and I and our dedicated staff have logged long hours trying to make this thing work, and we know that YOU are a part of it. So thanks.

So, for those that are pushing a little push-pin into some map somewhere tracking the exploits of the Hearts & Minds book van, you can mark us down for having been outside of Philly, in the lovely neighborhoods around Newtown Square, to a classy Christian school called The Deleware County Christian School. We've got friends who have graduated from there; a friend and neighbor here has a son teaching there. We were honored---really!---when their good headmaster called and asked us to set up a large display on the arts, literature, fantasy, music, poetry and such. If somebody mentions "worldview formation" or "cultural engagement" you know we are interested! Their annual "Renewed Minds" conference this year was featuring none other than the esteemed Wheaton professor Leland Ryken. Ryken has done a great book or two on work & leisure, he has our favorite book on the Puritans, and several on the Bible as literature. He is in love with the English language and has vast appreciation for the arts. We've appreciated his good call to faithful artistic appreciation, the great The Liberated Imagination and, on very good one on literature, Windows to the World (both happily reprinted recently by Wifp & Stock. God bless 'em.)

My favorite, though, is the second and considerably expanded edition of the fascinating The Christian Imagination: The Practice of Faith in Literature and Writing (Shaw; $17.99. See below for sale price!) Even if it is often used as a college text, this anthology is a treasure for any home and we couldn't commend it more. It has wise explanations and study questions and such, but the heart of it are extended primary source excerpts from writers such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Frederick Buechner, Annie Dillard, G.K. Chesterton, George MacDonald, Francis Schaeffer, Luci Shaw, T.S. Eliot. What a thrilling collection, to have Denise Levertov next to Robert Siegle, to read the book-loving ruminations of Sven Berkett alongside Peter Leithart; to ponder the work of Jacques Maritain and Gene Veith. (Ahhh, if only Calvin Seerveld was included here!) But Madeline L'Engle is, and so is Larry Woiwode. Old Wheaton guys like Tom Howard and Clyde Kilby are here, but so are film buff Brian Gotawa and Kentucky farmer/poet Wendell Berry. And more, many more.

If this doesn't pique your interest, perhaps this isn't your thing. But if you read Hearts & Minds BookNotes, I suspect that if you don't want this, you know somebody who would. Call us today and get a blog special.


regularly priced $17.99

email us at read@heartsandmindsbooks.com or phone 717.246.3333

October 26, 2006

hot off the press: Making the Most of College

I want to give a shout out to our friends at Calvary Baptist and the CCO staff at Penn State who are hosting a conference this week-end (yes, we get to set up books there, too) on developing "Faith for Thought." I will do one of the plenary keynote talks, as will the very prestigious Dr. Philip Jenkins. You can see the description of my talk about cultural engagement, developing the Christian mind and using thought not for pride but for the reformation of culture to the glory of God at their site. Check out the various workshops----on dance, law, C.S. Lewis, pop culture, linguistics, sexuality, peace-making, business, environmental stewardship...it's going to be a great time! (Am I wrong to suggest that this could be considered a pre-Jubilee gathering?)

Dr. Jenkins, you may know, has written widely on a bunch of topics (from the rise of mystical cults, to anti-Catholic prejudices, to a new book studying the impact of the era of the 70's, esp 1975-1985, which is provocatively entitled, Decade of Nightmares.) He is most known, though, for his groundbreaking and widely-read study of global Christianity called The Next Christendom (now out in paperback) and the brand new hardcover sequel, The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South (both published by Oxford University Press.) These are very, very important books and I am very much looking forward to meeting him.

I thought you'd enjoy seeing the very nifty video clip that the Faith for Thought team has put together than invites people to this conversation about meaningful faith in the university setting. Please call anybody you know near State College, send this little video out, or pray a bit. We hope for a good turnout of students and faculty, hope to select and display the right book titles. I admit to being a bit stressed about the talk-- I've got hours of this material, and desire to be fruitful in sharing that which will be most motivational and helpful.

In the meantime, Beth & staff are taking books to a PhilipYancey event at the Episcopal Church of the Good Samaritan in Paoli, PA, Friday night, so I am obsessed thinking about that (not to mention the upcoming Texas trip, but I digress...) We announced Yancey's new book Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference when it came out a month ago and those who have started it are raving. When good friend and former Hearts & Minds man Gordon Carpenter raves, you know it is good!

I will feature, at the Faith for Thought event, the typical books I take to college crowds, stuff on the Christian mind, worldview formation, vocation, calling, the responsibility of taking learning seriously, serving God in academic discipleship, and being engaged in social action. You may know of our annotated bibliography which lists starting books for those interested in integrating faith and learning in different academic and professional fields.

But the item I am most excited about is not exactly a book. It is a quarterly journal, one of our favorites, called Comment. The brand new issue is a special edition for college students (or those going off to college) called Making the Most of College. I am so proud to be in it, with an article ("Learning to Love Good Books") on why we should read, how reading widely can enhance our knowing and be a life-long skill for on-going, relevant faithfulness. I'm pretty happy with it, and the layout is fabulous. Best, I am in this special collegiate issue with Gideon Strauss, Calvin Seerveld, and a batch of top-notch writers and thinkers that I admire. One essay is on the arts, one on history, one on writing, one on forming friendships...what an honor to be published in such a cool and important venue. It sells for $8.00 and is very, very attractive. (The piece on how to get the most out of studying the arts has some full color reproductions, giving it an extra, rich appeal.) I will be talking this up for a while, I bet, so you might as well consider ordering one now. Know anybody in college? I'll tell ya, Gideon's piece on asking big questions is just about the best brief thing I've seen on how young adults become deeper and better people, by learning to ask the biggest questions. That he quotes Hearts & Minds favorite The Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior by Steve Garber makes sense and may give you an appreciation of the caliber of this great little magazine.

If you are interested, you can read most of these fine pieces on line at the weekly Comment e-zine . I think you can find most of them archived, and their other stuff is well worth reading, too. In fact, it is one of the weekly 'zines we get that I always, always read, no matter what the topic. They pick special previously posted pieces and then publish a print copy a few times a year. This one is very attractive, nice to hold and a great resource to offer your younger friends.

October 31, 2006

Foundations for developing a Christian worldview

Taking Discipleship Seriously: A Radical Biblical Approach Tom Sine (Judson) A slim volume packed full of energetic and passionate Biblical explorations on the shape of whole-life service in the Kingdom of God. A great starter for thinking about Christian cultural engagement.

Living Like Jesus: Eleven Essentials for Growing a Genuine Faith Ron Sider (Baker) Although at first glance a standard book on basic Christian growth, Sider calls us to Christian faithfulness in every zone of life--from serving the poor to thinking Christianly, from being faithful in relationships to serving as wise stewards of the Earth. Few books of basic discipleship so nicely invite us to a whole-life perspective, seeking to serve as salt and light of the coming Kingdom of God.

Roaring Lambs: A Gentle Plan to Radically Change Your World Bob Briner (Zondervan) An easy-to-read primer, this is chock-full of nice stories and dramatic efforts. This esteemed leader in sports media invites us to get involved in shaping culture, serving as God's agents, invading all spheres of society to be Christ's witnesses. Very basic and a great starting point.

Plowing in Hope: Toward a Biblical Theology of Culture David Hegeman (Canon Press) God has called us to create culture, to open up the world in ways that are life-giving, Christ-honoring and creationally-appropriate. This brief survey of that mandate is very solid Biblically and invites us to rethink our foundational assumptions.

Creation Regained: Biblical Basis for a Reformational Worldview Al Wolters (Eerdmans) One of the most basic texts which shows that the Bible gives us a unique worldview. Four solid chapters spell out the impact of Christ's redemption for the distortions causes by sin in every area of life; hence, the title. This no-nonsense little Bible study could change your life!

Heaven Is Not My Home: Living in the Now of God's Creation Paul Marshall (Word) Sadly now out of print and only available from Hearts & Minds, this exciting book includes Christian perspectives in various sides of life--from art to politics, work to rest, education to worship. What a magnificent call to serve God totally, thinking and living before God's face and for His glory.

The Transforming Vision: Shaping a Biblical Worldview Brian Walsh & Richard Middleton (IVP) Perhaps the most strategic book on our list, this is a comprehensive look at worldviews, necessary Biblical teaching, discerning cultural analyses and the radical call to think Christianly, especially in the university. A must-read!

Subversive Christianity: Imaging God in Dangerous Times Brian Walsh (Alta Vista) Four thoughtful messages, each building on the whole-life discipleship and framework presented in Transforming Vision. Here, Walsh passionately asks why, if we are thinking Christianly and serving God across every zone of life, are we not making a Kingdom impact? His answer is urgent and much needed!

How Now Shall We Live? Charles Colson & Nancy Pearcey (Tyndale) Colson has said that this is his life's work, the book which is his most important. It is, like the above, a plea to see life in light of Biblical categories, to think Christianly and to allow our theological perspective guide our every thought and deed. With such a vision we can create a groundswell of cultural reformation. A truly significant book.

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life Os Guinness (Word) One of our all-time favorites, this eloquent and elegant book gently calls us to a faith seen as response to God's decisive call to us in Jesus Christ. Very well written, this is one of the great books of our time!

The Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior in the University Years Steven Garber (IVP) Few campus workers have been as committed to thinking how to help students think and live Christianly as Dr. Garber, and his profound, fascinating and important study has been considered by many to be nearly a classic. Not a simple read, but richly rewarding, this is a treasure-trove of stories, insights, testimonies and cultural discernment. For advanced students, this is a must-have, must-live book to read and re-read.

Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling James Sire (IVP) Sire has written widely in the fields of worldview, the discipleship of the mind and the need to be serious readers. Here, in his most passionate and personal work, he invites us to use our minds in a manner consistent with our deepest worldview and in Christ's service.

In the Fields of the Lord: A Calvin Seerveld Reader edited by Craig Bartholomew (Toronto Tuppence) Few writers embody a transforming vision and creation-restored worldview as the unique writer, Bible scholar, art historian and Christian philosopher Dr. Calvin Seerveld This extraordinary collection gathers together a diverse array of his lectures, sermons, meditations and articles on everything from daily work to the need for a reformational Christian philosophy. Truly a rare anthology from one of the most amazing writers alive today.

Creating a Christian Worldview: Abraham Kuyper's Lectures on Calvinism Peter Heslam (Eerdmans) One hundred years ago, Abraham Kuyper, pastor, theologian, revival leader, journalist and Prime Minister of the Netherlands delivered five seminal lectures at Princeton, proclaiming a neo-Calvinistic worldview and developing a Christian perspective in the arts, commerce, science and politics. This important book tells the extraordinary story of Kuyper's vision and the dramatic, historical impact it has made, even to this day. This is a story which must be known and told.

October 30, 2006


Loving Monday: Succeeding in Business Without Selling Your Soul John Beckett (IVP) Easy to read, brief and loaded with real-world stories of serving God in the world of business. A great starter book, wise and practical.

Business Through the Eyes of Faith Shirley Roels, Richard Chewning & John Eby (HarperCollins) Probably the best text for thinking Christianly about most aspects of the business enterprise. Raises huge questions and offers truly Christian insights.

The Life@Work Book Edited by Life@Work (Word) Sixteen respected corporate leaders talk clearly about blending Biblical wisdom and business leadership excellence. The best starter guide for leaders and managers.

The Monday Connection William Diehl (HarperSanFransico) A useful and real-world study of the challenges and demands of being faithful in the work-world of corporations. Great examples of the authors efforts to "bridge the gap" between Sunday and Monday.

Just Business: Christian Ethics for the Marketplace Alexander Hill (IVP) Seriously explores foundational Christian concepts--holiness, justice, love--and applies them to business ethics. Includes penetrating and provocative case studies.

The Fabric of This World: Inquiries into Calling, Career Choice and the Design of Human Work Lee Hardy (Eerdmans) A more general book than just about working in the business world, this study on the notion of calling is most often explored in the corporate setting. A very useful section studies various schools of thought about management from a solid Christian worldview.

Business as a Calling: Work and the Examine Life Michael Novak (Free Press) Although not an entry-level book, this serious reflection has gathered very serious reviews. A conservative Catholic economist and philosopher, this affirms capitalism, illuminates key ethical issues and re-moralizes business.

October 29, 2006


Communicating for Life: Christian Stewardship in Community and Media Quetin Schultze (Baker) The definitive book for communication majors, those interested in mass media or public relations. Very, very good.

Seeing Through the Media: A Religious View of Communications and Cultural Analysis Michael Warren (Trinity Press International) A profound and serious critique of contemporary culture and how to evaluate mass media.

Prodigal Press: The Anti-Christian Bias of the American News Media Marvin Olasky (Crossway) A hard-hitting book which exposes the problem of bias, linking it to a materialist, humanist worldview which pervades journalism.

How the News Makes Us Dumb C.J. Sommerville (IVP) Without much overt religious language, this wise Christian journalist makes the case for less news, not more.

Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel Jean Kilbourne (Touchstone) Although not from an intentional Christian perspective, this expose of sexism in advertising is both pioneering and crucial.

October 28, 2006

Computer Sciences

Christians in a .com World Gene Vieth & Chris Stamper (Crossway) A very readable history of computers from an overtly Christian worldview. Happily shows the good things about the internet as well as warning about profound dangers. Asks Christians to be "salt and light" in the arena of cyberspace, using it for cultural reformation. Basic, but quite nice.

Technopoly:The Surrender of Culture to Technology Neil Postman (Vintage) Truly a wise book, this Jewish scholar has given us a vision of resisting turning everything into technique, reducing culture to a technocracy. One very good chapter on computers, although the whole book is worth pondering.

Machine Beauty: Elegance and the Heart of Technology David Gelernter (Basic) Although not overtly Christian, the effort of this author--to integrate aesthetic values such an beauty with computer design projects--is one with which a Biblical worldview would agree. Very nicely done

Silicon Snake Oil: Second Thoughts on the Information Highway Clifford Stoll (Anchor) Anyone involved in the field should consider Stoll's warnings. Not overtly Christian, God may be using this voice to warn against hubris and technological pride.

The War of the Worlds: Cyberspace and the High-tech Assault on Reality Mark Slouka (Basic Books) Like the above title, this non-Christian author has given us a polemic that is incredible to read, a powerful argument against the idolatry of and dangers of the field. Not to be missed nor ignored.

The Invisible Computer Donald Norman (The MIT Press) The subtitle almost says it all: Why Good Products Can Fail, the Personal Computer is So Complex, and Information Appliances Are the Solution. Norman has been a key person in some of the most significant places in computer design, and has written a clear book about innovations that are needed, even in the way computer schools teach, making the case for a "human centered" approach. Like the designs he calls for, this book is simple, clear, useful and fun. Christians wanting to make a difference will want to follow some of his suggestions and promote helpful innovations in design and usage.

Virtual Morality: Christian Ethics in the Computer Age Graham Houston (Apollos) We import this from England as it is one of the more significant, serious books in the field. How do the issues raised by computer technology in a postmodern world impact our views of truth and morality?

thelordismyshepherd.com: Seeking God in Cyberspace Joshua Hammerman (Simcha Press) This Jewish rabbi has given us a fascinating narrative of his surfing the web for religious insights. Not about a religious view of computers, but an example of how some are using the net to redefine traditional religious views.

The Talmud & The Internet: A Journey Between Worlds Jonathan Rosen (Farrar,Straus) An exquisitely written and profound exploration of the way cyberspace effects our perception of texts and how reading, even sacred reading, is altered by the computer. Fans of the internet should ponder this long and hard.

October 27, 2006

Congregational Ministry

The Art of Pastoring: Ministry Without All the Answers David Hanson (IVP) What a wonderful guide to the heart of the pastor's mission, packed with honest stories and profound insights.

Working the Angles Eugene Peterson (Eerdmans) Peterson's series of books on "vocational holiness" are essential reading. Start here and read them all.

The Unnecessary Pastor: Rediscovering the Call Eugene Peterson & Marva Dawn (Eerdmans) A fabulous and provocative bit of Biblical study on ministry. Wise and well written, this is a fantastic book.

AquaChurch: Essential Leadership Arts for Piloting Your Church in Today's Fluid Culture Leonard Sweet (Group) A truly creative and energizing book looking at the postmodern setting and seeking to do ministry in ways that are faithful to our call and our cultural context. Hold on for the ride!

Community of the King Howard Snyder (IVP) One of the many great books on the Biblical basis and nature of the local church. Obviously an essential topic to be studying!

Calling & Character: Virtues of the Ordained Life William Willimon (Abingdon) One of the most respected mainline clergy gives us solid Biblical teaching on the meaning and demands of the ordained life. Wonderfully written and timely.

October 26, 2006

Criminology & Law

To Serve and Protect Judith Kowalski (ACTA) An inspiring collection of testimonies on law enforcement officers reflecting on their faith and work.

Convicted: New Hope for Ending America's Crime Crisis Charles Colson & Daniel Van Ness (Crossroad) A very basic book on a Biblical alternative to typical criminal punishment, called "restorative justice." Includes very practical proposals.

Crime and It's Victims Daniel Van Ness (IVP) The definitive study of crime in the Bible and a call for a Christian approach. A must-read! Changing Lenses: A New Focus for Crime & Justice Howard Zehr (Herald Press) Responding out of an intentional Christian paradigm, this book examines assumptions about crime and proposes a new, "restorative" lens. Excellent.

The Lawyer's Calling: Christian Faith and Legal Practice Joseph Alligretti (Paulist Press) A readable but very excellent approach to a Christian perspective.

Can a Good Christian Be A Good Lawyer? Edited by Thomas Baker & Timothy Floyd (University of Notre Dame) Subtitled, "homilies, witnesses and reflections" this is a diverse and serious collection of various essays and articles.

Positive Neutrality: Letting Religious Freedom Ring Steven V. Monsma (Baker Book House) Makes a compelling case that the principle of justice demands an framework which treats religious freedoms and institutions equally with secular ones (as opposed to the recent bias in favor of secularism.) Of the many good books on "church-state" legal matters, this is the best place to stare. Solid!

Faith and Order: Reconciliation of Law and Religion Harold J. Berman (Emory University) Although exceptionally academic, this scholarly, historical work is immensely significant in the field of jurisprudence.

October 25, 2006


Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger Ron Sider (Word) Certainly the best introduction to Biblical passages about economics, poverty and justice. A classic!

The Clashing Worlds of Economics and Faith James Halteman (Herald) This Mennonite economist offers solid Biblical discussion about market theories, etc.

Capitalism & Progress: A Diagnosis of Western Society Bob Goudzwaard (Paternoster Press) A brilliant survey of the faith in progress and the secularized economic theories that undergird both capitalism and Marxism. Essential!

Beyond Poverty and Affluence: Toward an Economy of Care Bob Goudzwaard & Harry de Lange (Eerdmans) A helpful study showing the connections of ecological issues and poverty and the West's idolatrous commitment to economic growth. An important contribution from eminent Dutch economists.

Alternatives to Global Capitalism Ulrich Duchrow ((International Books) A very serious study which is drawn from Biblical history and designed for political action.

Globalization and the Kingdom of God Bob Goudzwaard (Center for Public Justice) This former member of the Dutch parliament and esteemed Christian economist presented a lecture which examines the way in which our world is rapidly becoming a "global village." Following his chapter, three other Christian scholars respond, making this a useful, provocative and thoughtful book.

October 24, 2006


For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School Susan Schaeffer Macaulay (Crossway) A delightful survey of the educational philosophy of British educator Charlotte Mason and how this vibrant view can shape our work with children. Wonderfully written and insightful, a nice starter book.

Your Child's Heart: Building Strong Character and a Lasting Faith Terry Glaspey (Highland Books) Although written for parents, this wonderful book is a call to help children develop their moral imaginations through good books.

Letters to Lisa: Conversations with a Christian Teacher John Van Dyk (Dordt College Press) A gem of a book, written as a series of letters between a daughter (first time elementary teacher) and her father (a professor of education) Each letter is about how to apply the Christian worldview and being faithful in the daily details of the classroom, so it is a perfect example of relating theory and practice. (Note: Although the story unfolds in an alternative Christian school, the wisdom and insights are clearly transferable to public school settings!)

Walking With God in the Classroom: Christian Approaches to Learning and Teaching Harro Van Brummelen (Alta Vista) The definitive, serious book on developing a truly Christian framework on thinking Christianly about schooling. Essential. (Please know: although this is written mostly for alternative Christian schools, the insights and wisdom are transferable to public school settings!)

Christian Teachers in Public Schools Julia Stronks & Gloria Goris Stronks (Baker) Truly the only good book of its kind, this can serve as a guide to teachers, administrators and parents. Although an immensely helpful book, don't miss the previously listed titles which develop a more foundational philosophy of learning and teaching (which this book presupposes.)

Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools Jonathan Kozol (HarperCollins) Although not written from a Christian perspective, Kozol's passion for children makes him always important to read. In this one, he illustrates the painful truth that many public schools are terribly underfunded while nearby, other schools are exquisitely appointed. Anyone who cares about public education, or children...

The Gift of the Stranger: Faith, Hospitality, and Foreign Language Learning David Smith & Barb Carvill (Eerdmans) What a gift! This books integrates Biblical teaching, sound and caring theology and offers an appraisal of various ways foreign languages are taught. Every academic discipline should be so fortunate.

October 23, 2006

Environmental Sciences

Remembering Creation: God's World of Wonder & Delight Scott Hoezee (Eerdmans) An absolutely delightful and moving collection of Biblical reflections on God's love for the world and our calling to care as God does. Very, very inspiring, putting first concerns--God and Scripture--first.

The Best Sermon's On Earth edited by Stan LeGuire (Judson) For those who need solid Biblical study and inspiring meditations, this wide-ranging collection of sermons is superb! With messages by some of our greatest preacher, this is sure to inspire and motivate Christians to get and stay involved in environmental action.

The Earth is the Lord's: A Message of Hope for the Environment Steve Bishop & Chris Droop (Regious) A simple but potent little book. A great green starter!

Caring for Creation: Responsible Stewardship of God's Handiwork Calvin DeWitt (Center for Public Justice) This slim volume includes an excellent speech by renowned Christian ecologist Cal DeWitt and three thoughtful responses. Probing and insightful, this is an important contribution to the discussion and policy debates.

Redeeming Creation: The Biblical Basis for Environmental Stewardship Fred Van Dyke et al (IVP) Four Christians in various sciences have given us a standard Christian text--Biblically-informed and scientifically serious--about our calling to take care of God's earth and animals. Very thorough.

Home Economics Wendell Berry (NorthPoint Press) No list would be complete without at least one collection of essays by this brilliant and highly respected agrarian poet/novelist/farmer. Known for rich and diverse works about culture and agriculture, this is a wonderful place to start, but don't miss his other wonderful work.

Simpler Living, Compassionate Life: A Christian Perspective edited by Michael Schut (Living the Good News/Morehouse) Without a doubt, the best book of its kind, this is an invitation to reflect spiritually on daily lifestyle questions, matters of consumerism and Earth-care, use of time and use of resources. Included are remarkably helpful study questions, guided devotional readings and other great resources for becoming more faithful in our daily routines. A true gift for anyone to use and ponder.

Earthkeepers: An Environmental Perspective on Hunger, Poverty and Injustice Art & Jocele Meyers (Herald Press) A basic discussion of the relationship of global concerns, sustainable development, ecological stewardship and world missions. Especially for those interested in the "two-thirds world" this is a great help.

October 22, 2006

Family & Gender Studies

For the Family's Sake: The Value of Home in Everyone's Life Susan Schaeffer Macaulay (Crossway) Not at all an academic book , this nearly devotional collection is so delightful and wise it must be mentioned!

Gender & Grace: Love, Work & Parenting in a Changing World Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen (IVP) A rare book, combining rigorous scholarship, Biblical studies and practical insight. A must read for us all!

Families at the Crossroads: Beyond Traditional & Modern Options Rodney Clapp (IVP) Again, an exceptional work, serious-minded but readable, developing a theologically-inspired "third way" of thinking. Excellent.

Woman and the Future of the Family Elizabeth Fox-Genovese et al (Center for Public Justice) A stimulating essay with three respondents make this dialogue very, very helpful for seeking profoundly Christian insights. Responses are by Stanley Grenz, Mardi Keyes & Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen

Men and Women--Created or Constructed? The Great Gender Debate Elaine Storkey (Paternoster) This slim volume is at once brilliant in its explanation of various schools of thought and a blessing in its distinctively Christian alternative. Imported from England, it is a must for anyone studying in the field!

From Culture Wars to Common Ground: Religion and the American Family Debate Don Browning, et al (Westminster) This lead volume in an ongoing series of scholarly works which attempt to transcend the typical liberal-conservative debate has gotten rave reviews. Very helpful text on a variety of aspects of family studies written from top sociologists, theologians, counselors and scholars.

Sex for Christians Lewis Smedes (Eerdmans) A classic which relates sexuality to the Biblical themes of creation, fall and redemption. Well-written and thoughtful.

Sexual Character: Beyond Technique to Intimacy Marva Dawn (Eerdmans) A serious-minded and pastorally caring collection on a variety of aspects of sexuality, marriage, singleness and the like.

Real Choices: Listening to Women; Looking for Alternative to Abortion Frederica Mathewes-Green (Conciliar Press) Truly an extraordinary book on this controversial topic. Mathewes-Green is a respected writer (and commentator on NPR) who has given us a fresh approach which attempts to hear women's voices, build bridges of concern and create a women-friendly pro-life consensus.

The Tender Land: A Family Love Story Kathleen Finneran (Houghton Mifflin) Not exactly a Christian book, this personal memoir of a remarkable family is the best thing I've ever read about a child's memory, the relationship of siblings, coming of age, being in a family as the parents age and so on. The heart of the narrative is the suicide of the author's younger teenage brother and her painful grief. Breathtaking.

October 21, 2006

Health Care

Called to Care: A Christian Theology of Nursing Judith Shelly & Arlene Miller (IVP) No book is as accessible and Biblical, clearly trying to develop a solid Christian framework for thinking about medical caregiving. For anyone in the health fields.

Helping and Healing: Religious Commitment in Health Care Edmund Pellegrino (Georgetown University Press) Although a touch academic, this treatise is truly one of the best in print. Good for any medical worker.

Being Well Kenneth Vaux (Abingdon) A theologically-informed approach to health, a look at the redemptive possibility of disease and the search for life while affirming meaning beyond death. A basic study for all who deal with life and death issues.

Redeeming Marketplace Medicine: A Theology of Health Care Abigail Rian Evans (Pilgrim Press) A very important study of the changing world of health care systems and a prophetic, Christian call for a better way, including defining health in a theologically-informed fashion and partnering with local congregations.

The Changing Face of Health Care Edited by John Kilner, et al (Eerdmans) A masterpiece collection of semi-scholarly articles covering a Christian appraisal of managed care, resource allocation and patient-caregiver relationships. Urgent.

Confessions of a Medicine Man: An Essay in Popular Philosophy Alfred Tauber (MIT Press) Although not Christian, it is wonderful to see a caring physician and a professional philosopher reflecting on the deeper matters of his work.

October 20, 2006


History Through the Eyes of Faith Ronald Wells (HarperCollins) An excellent introductory textbook from an esteemed Christian historian. Very well done.

How Should We Then Live? Francis Schaeffer (Crossway) A very readable introduction of Western civilization, with a very keen sense of the role of faith, the causes of secularization, and the role of idea.

The Search for Christian America Mark Noll, Nathan Hatch, George Marsden (Helmers & Howard) The wisest book done on this contested topic, by the most preeminent evangelical historians of our generation.

Church History in Plain Language Bruce Shelley (Word) While a Christian philosophy of historiography is obviously just about the history of the church, historians will find this overview very useful.

History and the Christian Historian edited by Ronald Wells (Eerdmans) A stellar collection--including foundational essays and solid starting points as well as specific examples of Christians doing specific historical research. A few final chapters explore the ways in which Christian teachers of history can faithfully do their work. Excellent!

Religious Advocacy and American History edited by Bruce Kuklick & D.G. Hart (Eerdmans) A diverse collection of scholarly essays on the role religious convictions influence the historians research, writing and teach and, secondly, the ways in which religion has been seen in the history departments of American universities.

October 19, 2006


How to Read Slowly James Sire (Harold Shaw) An entry-level look at how worldviews undergird great writing and how to be discerning of the philosophies of novelists, poets, journalists and even textbook authors.

Reading With Deeper Eyes: The Love of Literature and the Life of Faith William Willimon (Upper Room) These inspirational book reviews illustrate how deep matters of faith are seen in contemporary novels. A nice example of thinking religiously about even so-called secular novels.

Persuade Us To Rejoice: The Liberating Power of Fiction Robert McAfee Brown (Westminster) A similar, somewhat more weighty book, looking at various novels and showing their redemptive qualities.

Reading Between the Lines Gene Vieth (Crossway) An insightful but basic Christian entry into the world of literature and how literature communicates.

Literature Through the Eyes of Faith Sharon Gallagher & Roger Lundin (HarperCollins) A thoughtful, basic textbook with a bit about deconstruction and literary criticism.

Dismissing God: Modern Writers' Struggle Against Religion Bruce Lockerbie (Baker Books) A serious and caring exploration of modern writers whose work emerged out of their unbelief. Very helpful.

Invitation to the Classics: A Guide to Books You've Always Wanted to Read Edited by Louise Cowan & Os Guinness (Baker) An attractive encyclopedia of great writers, classic texts and significant authors--both fiction and nonfiction--with Christian insight and evaluation of their value. A wonderful book to own and treasure!

October 18, 2006


Mathematics: Is God Silent? J. Nickel (Ross House Press) A very easy read, this handsome book surveys many of the great mathematicians and illustrates how their Christian assumptions about God and God's creation led to their systematic work in the field of numbers. If God speaks to all of life--as the Bible insists!--then God surely has something to say to math.

The Myth of Religious Neutrality: An Essay on the Hidden Role of Religious Belief in Theories Roy Clouser (University of Notre Dame) Although a fairly serious philosophic work, his argument that all scholarship--including math--is influenced by religious-like philosophies, is brilliant. Very important.

A Christian Perspective on the Foundations of Mathematics R.I. Brabenac et al (Wheaton College) A collection of very academic papers presented at a conference of Christian mathematicians.

The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy Nancy Pearcey & Charles Thaxton (Crossway) Although primarily a study of the history of science, there are two very good chapters on math. Really helpful!

Bibliography of Christianity and Mathematics compiled by Gene Chase & Calvin Jongsma (Dordt College Press) A dated, but still extraordinary listing of articles, essays, journal pieces and book chapters which could then be acquired through libraries. Well worth having.

Foundations of Christian Scholarship: Essays in the Van Til Perspective edited by Gary North (Ross House Press) A dated and rather eccentric collection of various articles on Christian scholarship across the curriculum, the chapter on math, by Vern Poythress, is excellent, and worth the price of this otherwise uneven book.

Zero: A Biography of a Dangerous Idea Charles Seife (Penguin) While not an overtly Christian book, this is a highly readable history of the concept of, well, zero. Nicely shows the human, philosophic and cultural background of this intriguing story. Christians can certainly learn and be inspired by the history of innovation and discovery!

Fermat's Enigma Simon Singh (Anchor) Not at all written with any sense of faith or God, still, the story of the epic quest to solve the world's greatest math problem is a dramatic example of mathematicians at their finest, working with passion and joy. Young Christian thinkers can sure take heart from such a well-told story of commitment to the field.

October 17, 2006


Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers Patrick Kavanaugh (Zondervan) An easy to read and very important chronicle of classical music's Christian heritage.

Music As Medicine Deforia Lane (Zondervan) The inspiring story of the respected African American music therapist from Case Western.

The Music of Angels: A Listener's Guide to Sacred Music from Chant to Christian Rock Patrick Kavanaugh (Loyola Press) A very helpful historical guide, including suggested recordings, to Christian music of all sorts.

Music Through the Eyes of Faith Harold Best (HarperCollins) Like the others in this series, this is the essential book for the field. Excellent!

The Sound of the Harvest: Music's Mission in Church and Culture Nathan Corbitt (Baker Books) Get this: a cross-culturally sensitive Christian ethno-musicologist reflecting on the use of music in missions and postmodern culture.

The Sacred in Music Albert Blackwell (Westminster) A rich scholarly theological study, particularly on the power of music and how it can be sacramental.

October 16, 2006


Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling James Sire (IVP) A wonderful call to the life of the mind, nicely written by one of our best Christian thinkers. A book to enjoy and savor.

Reason Within the Bounds of Religion Nicholas Woltersdorf (Eerdmans) A brief, important essay on the relationship of presupposition, reason and faith. Very good.

Philosophy and the Christian Faith Colin Brown (IVP) A helpful study of the key thinkers in the history of philosophy from a clear Christian viewpoint.

The Myth of Religious Neutrality: An Essay on the Hidden Role of Religious Belief in Theories Roy Clouser (University of Notre Dame) A serious work which is absolutely essential for Christian philosophers, or any serious scholars.

Truth is Stranger Than It Used to Be Brian Walsh & Richard Middleton (IVP) The best Biblically-informed discussion of postmodernism available. Rather scholarly, although not overly academic. Insists that the deconstruction of Enlightenment faith in progress and Reason is a helpful shift and that the understanding of the suffering of God in the Biblical meta-narrative is the only adequate response to the profound concerns of post-modern philosophy. Even if one does not fully agree with the authors' approach, this is a book which must be read. Essential.

Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenge of Postmodernism Douglas Groothuis (IVP) Less appreciative of postmodernity than than the Walsh & Middleton book (above) it is a hefty and impressive discussion against relativism. Has garnered truly rave reviews from serious thinkers.

The Fall of Interpretation: Philosophical Foundations for a Creational Hermeneutic James K.A. Smith (IVP) Smith seriously surveys various traditions about hermeneutics and concludes that the assumption in some traditions, that subjective bias is necessarily bad and part of the human fallen condition, is unBiblical. Subjectivity in hermeneutics is a creational given to be affirmed. A brilliant, foundational work for advanced students in either philosophy or Biblical studies.

Knowing Other-Wise: Philosophy at the Threshold of Spirituality edited by James Olthius (Fordham University Press) Recent discussions in the various circles of postmodernism and feminism have insisted that ontology and epistemology without ethics is deadly, and that standard Western rationalism is reductionistic. What might a way of "knowing" that is more than rational and which is attentive to the "other" look like? How might Christians work from our deepest traditions to respond to these concerns? Strong Christians reflect in very scholarly ways about some of the key issues in contemporary philosophy, exploring the contributions made by the likes of Derrida, Rorty, Levinas. To be read with discernment by advanced students.

October 15, 2006


A Covenant to Keep: Meditations on the Biblical Theme of Justice James Skillen (Center for Public Justice) Grand Biblical reflections with thoughtful questions and a few case studies. Certainly the starting point for anyone concerned about citizenship, social justice of political action.

A Public Faith: Bringing Personal Faith to Public Issues Charles Drew (NavPress) A balanced and reasonable book, inviting Christian to reflect in nonpartisan ways about civic duties.

Thine Is The Kingdom: A Biblical Perspective on the Nature of Government and Politics Today Paul Marshal (Regent College) The definitive introductory study of a Biblical view of the state and a Christian view of politics. This is a must for anyone interested in the field.

The Soul of Politics Jim Wallis (Harcourt, Brace) Not exactly on the development of a Christian view of government, this is a plea for faith-inspired activism that rejects both the secular left and the religious right, and attempts to offers a truly third way of civic activism, public justice and social compassion.

Christians & Politics Beyond the Culture Wars: An Agenda for Engagement Edited by David Gushee (Baker Book House) A broad collection of excellent articles and studies, including Biblical basics, overviews of the role of government and pieces on specific political topics. Very, very useful.

Just Peacemaking: Ten Practices for Abolishing War edited by Glen Stassen (Pilgrim Press) With the Biblical command to be peacemakers guiding them, a group of leading Christian scholars researched the very best ideas for encouraging international peace and justice. A rich and practical guide to thinking concretely about this aspect of Christian political work.

Political Order and the Plural Structure of Society edited by James Skillen & Rockne McCarthy (Emory University) This is very scholarly but so extraordinary that it must be mentioned. A serious collection of primary source readings from three "traditions" which move readers towards a profoundly religious understanding of society, pluralism and state craft. Very, very important.

October 14, 2006

Popular Culture

With Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture William Romanowski (Brazos) The best book on the subject. The author's easy-to-read style is crisp, his approach Biblical, his knowledge immense. Essential. (Due late Feb. 2001)

At the Crossroads Charlie Peacock (Broadman) Although mostly about the contemporary Christian music industry, this wise effort does a nice job in commending an "in the world but not of it" engagement with the popular arts.

All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes: Christian and Popular Culture Ken Myers (Crossway) A very thoughtful and critical assessment of how Christians might (or might not) engage pop culture and mass media.

Pop-Culture Wars: Religion and The Role of Entertainment in American Life William D. Romanowski (IVP) A truly important work, this is a study of the history of entertainment and how the church has, unwisely, been opposed. Makes the case for seeing the popular arts in light of Christianly-conceived aesthetic norms and for doing open-minded media education, nurturing Christian engagement and discernment.

Reel Spirituality: Theology & Film in Dialogue Robert K. Johnston (Baker Book House) Although there are several more basic books on the topic, this is a serious and thoroughly Christian work on film studies. Very well done.

October 13, 2006


Understanding People: Deep Longing for Relationship Dr. Larry Crabb (Zondervan) A fine and very readable introduction to the brokenness caused by sin, particularly as it shows up in various relationships. A perfect starter for thinking Christianly about the make-up of the human person. A landmark book.

Psychology & Christianity: Four Views edited by Eric Johnson & Stanton Jones (IVP) A friendly and feisty debate between four different Christians who relate their faith and theories in somewhat different ways. Essential.

Modern Psycho-Therapies: A Comprehensive Christian Appraisal Stanton Jones & Richard Butman (IVP) Every discipline should be so fortunate as to have a handbook as useful as this stellar, indispensable guide. Nearly every possible school of thought in the field is explained, its presuppositions evaluated from a Biblical worldview. Honest in its description, generous in its willingness to affirm insights consistent with a Christian view and helpfully critical when necessary, this book is a model of Christian research.

Resurrecting the Person: Friendship and the Care of People With Mental Health Problems John Swinton (Abingdon) A wonderful resource offering new ways to think about persons with mental illnesses and how churches and practitioners can be better equipped to work together. Serious and insightful.

Psychology Through the Eyes of Faith David Meyers (HarperCollins) As always, this series offers another excellent, introductory-level Christian textbook.

SoulSearching: Why Psychotherapy Must Promote Moral Responsibility William Doherty (Basic Books) While not overtly evangelical, this is a wonderfully done "rethink" of the field of psychotherapy rooted in profound moral values.

Psychology as Religion: The Cult of Self-Worship Paul Vitz (Eerdmans) A ground breaking critique of a dangerous assumption in most contemporary culture and psychological approaches. Not simple to read, but very important.

Freud vs God: How Psychiatry Lost Its Soul & Christianity Lost Its Mind Dan Blazer (IVP) A fairly serious study written by a professor at Duke Medical School.

Limning the Psyche: Explorations in Christian Psychology edited by Robert Roberts & Mark Talbot (Eerdmans) A healthy collection of scholarly articles on various aspects of Christianly-conceived psychological theories and practices.

October 12, 2006

Racial Reconciliation

Breaking Down Walls Raleigh Washington & Glen Kehrein (Moody) The honesty, pain and hope of the story of these two men and their struggle to model a ministry of racial reconciliation makes this a perfect book with which to begin reading in this area.

More Than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel Spencer Perkins & Chris Rice (IVP) Similar to the above title, but just a touch more in depth, these two men worked hard through injustice, pain and distrust to model reconciliation. A substantial analysis of the complexities of racism in America makes this especially useful.

All God's Children: A Biblical Critique of Racism Steve McKenzie (Westminster) This essential book walks readers through the Bible, section by section, exposing racism and showing God's intention for racial and ethnic unity.

I Have a Dream: Writing and Speeches That Changes the World Martin Luther King (HarperCollins) There are other, larger collections, but this is the perfect intro to Dr. King's remarkable words. Don't miss it!

Dismantling Racism: The Continuing Challenge to White America Joseph Barndt (Augsburg) A hard-hitting and strategic plan to actually have an impact on the racism that surrounds us and is within us written by an experienced urban pastor.

If It Wasn't for the Women Cheryl Townsend Gilkes (Orbis) An important academic treatise on the role of women in black church and community written by an well-respected black feminist Christian and ordained Baptist pastor.

One New People Manuel Ortiz (IVP) This great and practical book urges churches to not put aside ethnic differences, but to affirm and celebrate them. A good guide to ministries of racial diversity.

October 11, 2006


Being a Christian in Science Walter Hearn (IVP) A very basic intro to the topic. Thoughtful and well-done, but easy to read. Good for beginners.

The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy Nancy Pearcey & Charles Thaxton (Crossway) A fascinating study of the underlying worldviews--often overtly Christian!--that shaped the earliest of scientists, and why such a perspective is needed today.

Biology Through the Eyes of Faith Richard Wright (HarperCollins) A very well done and provocative read, which, like the others in this important series, can serve as a Christian text in the field. Great!

Darwin on Trial Phillip Johnson (IVP) The standard introduction to the recent "intelligent design" movement. A charming book, full of radical truth, wit and level-headed critique of the secular assumptions of the Darwinist worldview. Dedicated students in this field will follow all of his important books.

Signs of Intelligence: Understanding Intelligent Design Edited by William Dembski & James Kushim (Brazos Press) Fourteen essays by the main players in the intelligent design movement--Johnson, Behe, Pearcey, Johnson, et al. Written in very clear and accessible language, this is the best overview argument.

The Battle for Beginnings: Why Neither Side is Winning the "Creation & Evolution" Debate Del Ratzch (IVP) A thoughtful perspective which argues that a truly Christian framework for science will transcend this narrow debate. Wow!

Science & Christianity: Four Views edited by Richard Carlson (IVP) What a great book--four different Christians tell how they integrate their faith and their science, and each argues back with the other. Four very different perspectives help us think through all the key issues...

The Limits of Science Del Ratzch (IVP) Somewhat philosophical, but an essential read for thinking faithfully about what science is, how it works and what Christians in the field can do. The best book on a Christian philosophy of science.

October 10, 2006

Special Education

No Disabled Souls: How to welcome people with disabilities into your life and church Jim Pierson (Standard) Absolutely the most basic book on the subject, it is chock-full of practical ideas and Biblical wisdom illustrated with inspiring stories.

God Plays Piano, Too: The Spiritual Lives of Disabled Children Brett Webb-Mitchell (Crossroad) Absolutely remarkable stories of care and wisdom. Will help anyone in the field gain an appreciation for the kids with whom they work!

Dancing With Disabilities: Opening the Church to All God's Children Brett Webb-Mitchell (United Church Press) Although it is about disabilities in the local church, it is immensely helpful in thinking about the topic. Very nicely done.

Special Education: A Biblical Approach edited by Joe Sutton (Hidden Treasure) Frankly, not a great book, but the only one which actually looks at the process of schooling those with special needs and developing Christian special ed. programs Covers quite a lot of material and is a good place to start.

October 9, 2006

Social Work

Christianity and Social Work: Readings on the Integration of Christian Faith and Social Work Practice edited by Beryl Hugen (NAACSW) Every field should have such a clear guidebook to serving Christ in the profession. Very thorough.

Family Violence: The Compassionate Church Responds Melissa Miller (Herald Press) Many social workers will have to work with issues of domestic violence or sexual abuse. Gratefully, there are many Christian books which address these topics; this is a great place to begin as it gives excellent information, includes helpfully creative Bible studies and integrates not only faith, but the role of the local church.

Addiction and Grace Gerald May (HarperCollins) Many social workers will work with those who are struggling with various sorts of addictions and dependencies. This profound and readable theological reflection is the best on the topic. A great read for professionals or anyone open for new insight in their own lives.

Reflections on Aging and Spiritual Growth edited by Andrew Weaver, et al (Abingdon) A fine collection of stories and testimonials of how deeply spiritual writers have seen aging as part of their faith journey. May give those who work with elders a good sense of how to approach spiritual formation issues.

Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of Our Elders Mary Pipher (Riverhead) Although not an evangelical book, this is perhaps the best-written book on aging people in America. Pipher, of course, is known for her well-known work with teenage girls, and has now given us a brilliant and caring book on older folks. Will surely help Christian social workers develop an informed and insightful attitude.

Beyond Charity: The Call to Christian Community Development John Perkins (Baker) The standard first book to read on community development.

Restorers of Hope Amy Sherman (Crossway) A practical, clear-headed account of how church-based ministries can effectively assist the poor.

Toward a Just and Caring Society: Christian Responses to Poverty in America Edited by David Gushee (Baker) A brilliant collection of semi-scholarly article on various aspects of the work against poverty. Extraordinary and thorough.

Walking With the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development Bryant Myers (Orbis) A very important work, set largely in third-world settings, showing how those who are serving can be respectful allies of the poor in their own struggles for justice. Very in depth, this work is nearly a masterpiece.

Called to Serve: Creating and Nurturing the Effective Volunteer Board Max De Pree (Eerdmans) Many social workers have to navigate the organizational systems of various non-profit agencies. This book gives both inspiring and practical advice from a renowned corporate leader, including theologically-sound insight into working with volunteer-based organizations.

October 8, 2006


Sociology Through the Eyes of Faith David Fraser & Tony Campolo (HarperCollins) An excellent introductory Christian textbook. An essential volume.

The Earth is God's: A Theology of American Culture William Dyrness (Orbis) While not really sociology, this develops a Biblical-theological perspective on culture and society, making it very helpful for sociologists.

To Understand the World, to Save the World: The Interface of Missiology and the Social Sciences Charles Taber (Trinity Press International) This slim, serious book explores how sociology and anthropology can integrate with Christian missions in the modern world.

SoulTsunami: Sink or Swim in the New Millennium Culture Leonard Sweet (Zondervan) Not exactly a Christian view of the discipline of sociology, this is a postmodern hybrid book vividly reporting on social trends, evaluating the latest sociological insights and making the passionate case for evangelical involvement in the new, hot-wired world. Understanding the trends and transitions that this book describes is essential--and fun!-- for anyone in the social sciences.

The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion Peter Berger (Anchor) A brilliant and seminal work by a Christian working on theories of knowledge and the sociology of religion. Very serious.

October 7, 2006

Sports, Physical Education, Physical Therapy

Fearfully & Wonderfully Made Phil Yancey & Paul Brand (Zondervan) Although not designed to develop a Christian perspective for scholars in the field, these delightful meditations on the human body help us recall the wonder of God's creation.

The Right Way to Win: How Athletes Can Place God First Mike Blaylock (Moody) A very simple and basic book, this is a good start towards seeing sports in a Christian way.

Christianity and Leisure: Issues in a Pluralistic Society edited by Paul Heintzman et al (Dordt College Press) An excellent gathering of Christian essays on topics such as rest, leisure, play and athletics. Few fields have books this good!

Physical Education, Sports and Wellness: Looking to God as We Look to Ourselves Edited by John Byl &Tom Visker (Dordt College Press) A remarkable collection of essays on a Biblical view of the body, the role of sports training, phys ed instruction and various reflections on sports and competition in Christian perspective.

Muscular Christianity: Evangelical Protestants and the Development of American Sports Tony Ladd & James Mathisen (Baker Books) A seriously written history of American sports and how Christians influenced--and were influenced by--the "muscular" notions of strength, winning, heroism and success. Important.

October 6, 2006

Technology & Engineering

Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology Neil Postman (Vintage) This Jewish scholar has thought hard about the need to resist the idolatry of technology. Very insightful and very important.

Responsible Technology edited by Stephen V. Monsma (Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship) Now out of print, but stocked at Hearts & Minds, this brilliant book is the only one of its kind, offering an interdisciplinary, overtly Christian study of technology and engineering. A must.

The Civilized Engineer Samuel Florman (St. Martin's) A gifted writer and a practicing engineer looks at everything from design to the training of engineers, from its history to the need for ethics. In a nutshell, this non-religious writer invites engineers to be better than they are. Clearly not adequate, but a great start!

The Introspective Engineer Samuel Florman (St. Martin's) Although not overtly Christian, what an idea--that engineers should be thoughtful, reflective and spiritually-engaged with their technical work. Young Christian engineers could benefit from a discerning reading of any of Florman's thoughtful books.

The Whale and the Reactor: A Search for Limits in an Age of High Technology Langdon Winner (University of Chicago) A serious read, this wisely asks us to search for limits. Although not overtly from a Christian perspective, many consider it a "must read."

Visions of Technology Richard Rhodes (Simon & Schuster) A collection of primary source writings--a century's worth of vital debate about machines, systems and the human world. A few people of faith are represented and the underlying beliefs about technology and engineering are evident. A handy reference tool.

Choices at the Heart of Technology: A Christian Perspective Ruth Conway (Trinity Press International) Conway is active in the movement in England which does technological education and promotes serious theological reflection on modern ethics.

Perspectives on Technology and Culture Egbert Schuurman (Dordt College Press) Although quite philosophical, this overview of the history of thought about technology is a brilliant bit, but a Christian professor of engineering in the Netherlands.

October 5, 2006

Urban Ministry

Theirs Is the Kingdom: Celebrating the Gospel in Urban America Robert Lupton (HarperCollins) A great little book whose Atlanta-based ministry Tony Campolo has called "one of the most inspiring in America."

Urban Disciples: A Beginner's Guide To Serving God in the City Jenell Williams Paris & Margot Owen Eyring (Judson) An excellent interactive workbook.

City of God, City of Satan Robert Linthicum (Zondervan) A Biblical theology of the urban ministry. A must-read Scriptural study.

Revolution and Renewal: How Churches are Saving Our Cities Tony Campolo (Westminster) With dramatic storytelling and fierce examples, this is the evidence that Christian social workers, faith-based agencies and local urban congregations are truly making a world of difference. Powerful.

Signs of Hope in the City: Ministries of Community Renewal edited by Robert Carle and Louis Decaro (Judson) A spectacular collection of case studies all set in New York City--in Asian-American, Latino and African American settings--including a true variety of ministries, programs and efforts.

A Heart for the City: Effective Ministries to the Urban Community edited by John Fuder (Moody) This is perhaps the most comprehensive collection of articles yet assembled on the topic, covering a vast array of topics, strategies and struggles.

Urban Ministry: The Kingdom, the City and the People of God Harvie Conn & Manuel Ortiz (IVP) What an excellent text--this explores a Kingdom vision for urban programs, the development of cities, the rise of social and institutional structures and how to be effective in sophisticated and faithful urban outreach.

October 4, 2006

World Missions

A Mind for Missions: 10 Ways to Build Your World Vision Paul Borthwick (NavPress) The best and most basic book on the topic, packed with ideas, ways to begin to grow into a heart for missions and to learn more. Very readable and good.

God's Global Mosaic: What We Can Learn from Christians Around the World Paul Gordon Chandler (IVP) An absolutely delightful--and challenging--book showing what Western Christians can learn from believers in other continents. A healthy reminder that there are Christians elsewhere and that we've got much to learn.

Changing the Mind of Missions: Where Have We Gone Wrong? James Engel & William Dyrness (IVP) A highly regarded book which raises serious questions and calls for innovative thinking. Has gathered rave reviews from the heads of many large, evangelical mission agencies, insisting that the diagnoses is accurate and the recommendations right. Important.

The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society Leslie Newbegin (Eerdmans) One of the most important world Christian leaders in the past generation has given us a classic on the truth claims of Christ and how to speak them meaningfully in a pluralistic world.

Perhaps a bit serious for those not used to good theology, but this truly is essential reading, not just for the mission field but for any thoughtful and caring Christian.

Transforming Mission David J. Bosch (Orbis) Perhaps the most talked about seriously academic book on missiology of the past 25 years. Exceptionally important.

October 26, 2006

Creative Arts

Art & The Bible Francis Schaeffer (IVP) Two short essays which have proven indispensable for Christian artists of all sorts. Wonderful!

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith & Art Madeline L'Engle (NorthPoint Press) An exquisite essay by one of our finest writers in which she draws on her craft as novelist and poet. Basic and insightful.

State of the Arts: Gene Vieth (Crossway) Biblical study, art history and discussions of contemporary visual artists all set within a culturally-wise worldview.

It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God edited by Ned Bustard (Square Halo) A fabulous collection of thoughtful chapters by a variety of artists, who work in a variety of mediums, each talking about how to go about actually doing art from a Christian perspective.

Rainbows for a Fallen World Calvin Seerveld (Toronto Tuppance Press) Certainly one of the most widely respected writers about Christians in the arts, this eccentric book holds forth a vision of God's concern for nuance, suggestion, color and allusivity. Creatively written, serious and, at times, nearly stunning. Exceptional!

Bearing Fresh Olive Leaves: Alternative Steps in Understanding Art Calvin Seerveld (Hodder & Stoughton) A distinctively Christian approach to art history and the philosophy of art historiography. Mature, at times brilliant!