About December 2008

This page contains all entries posted to Hearts & Minds Books in December 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

November 2008 is the previous archive.

January 2009 is the next archive.

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

December 2008 Archives

December 5, 2008

Jim Cotter, The Sacramental Life, Psalms for a Pilgrim People and other resources for the journey

Just got back from selling books at a retreat with Episcopal clergy and what a good time it was; meals, fellowship, drinks, conversation, and writing up stacks of books to be purchased from us at Hearts & Minds.  Thanks to the ECAP gang who invites us and allows us to push our wares.

It was a true delight to meet the inestimable poet, priest, and pastor, Jim Cotter, guest lecturer and worship leader, all the way from Wales.  Although deeply rooted in the Anglican tradition and the practice of daily prayer through the prayer book, he is known for his innovative and creative wordsmithing, experimental liturgies, and Biblical re-tellings.

Hispsalms for pilgrim people.jpg famous book Psalms for Pilgrim People (Morehouse; $17.95 but now $5.95 sale-priced) has been popular here for years---it re-works the Psalter in creative and intriguing ways, drawing forth contemporary and theological nuance from the classic Hebrew texts. Some like this volume for it's ease of use; just 150 prayer/poem/psalms followed by a line or two refrain. And a great introduction to the project in an opening chapter.

The psalms and prayers in that book have now been incorporated into a major release, a remarkable new hardback prayer book, organized as prayer-books are, full of readings, antiphons, collects, sung responses, and such, useful for private or corporate worship.  It is called Out of the Silence...Into the Silence: Prayer's Daily Round (Cairns Press;  $32.00; sale priced at $25.)

 We are, at this point, one of the very few North American bookstore stocking Out of the Silence... Into the Cotter.jpgSilence and are newly enthused after hearing him at the ECAP retreat.  Regularly $32.00 we have them here, now, on sale, for just $25.  Jim was delightful to listen to as he told of his commitment to good book-making, from the quality of the ribbon marker to the two-color pages (appropriate rubrics in red) and a binding that allows it to lay flat open (essential for a useful prayer-book!)  The gold impression is nice, and the sturdy cloth cover is top quality.  Importantly, the prayers and services are contemporary, classy, yet a bit edgy, poetic and pregnant, energizing and honest.  I trust he wouldn't mind me saying that he is open-minded and big-hearted, hoping for church renewal in small ways as folk pray with regular honesty and creativity, in small groups or alone.  (He serves a parish on a remote island in the Welsh village of Abadaren.) He isn't fond of rigid dogma and wouldn't be considered a theological conservative, so his words are free to move in ways that are unexpected and exciting. (I am, most BookNotes readers know, a fairly conservative evangelical in my own doctrine, but a huge and important step in my spiritual journey came when a camp friend gave me Malcolm Boyd's Are You Running With Me Jesus? in 1972 or 3.  So I'm appreciative of the iconoclasm of liberal Episcopalian poets...) Why not order one of the new Cotter book, Out of the Silence... to give to someone with an eye and ear for open-minded prayers and who might be inspired by a serious alternative prayer book?

We have the collection of re-worked Psalms by Cotter, too, Psalms for Pilgrim People ---while supplies last, at the sale price of $5.95.  They are usually $17.95 but are going out of print, so we got them cheap.  Let us know if you'd like one or two.

There is another fabulous new book I enthusiastically noted at the event which I highly recommend here as it might be useful for more conventional Episcopalians, or anyone who wants either a solid introduction to the Book of Common Prayer or who may just suspect that these ancient prayers, rhythms and cadences could be formative in helpful and faithful ways.  sacramental life.jpgSacramental Life: Spiritual Formation Through the Book of Common Prayer by David A. DeSilva (IVP; $18.00) is a splendid new guidebook to the doctrine of the prayer-book, but, more, an introduction to it's deep themes of spiritual formation.  No lesser master of the spiritual life than Richard Foster has called it "Expert guidance and wise counsel." It is commended by respected Biblical scholars like Ben Witherington III and by the retired Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, Frederick Borsch.  Even Methodist Bishop Will Willimon has a rave review.  "I hope," DeSilva writes early on, "that, as you read and pray through this guide, you will discover afresh the ways in which the rites contained in the Book of Common Prayer facilitate a genuine encounter with God, a transforming experience of grace."  He does this by especially focusing on the four sacramental rites of baptism, Eucharist, marriage, and burial.  That, friends, is a good step towards what we often refer to as a Christian worldview, or, as Lutheran worship scholar Gordon W. Lathrop calls it, a "liturgical cosmology" in his exceptionally interesting and important text, Holy Ground (Fortress; $29.00.)  That is a book I should have highlighted at the clergy retreat--- theological, poetical, liturgical insights for a worshipful worldview.  Wow.

Curious about how liturgy and regular rituals are important to us all?  Explore Foundations in Ritual Studies: A Reader for Students of Christian Worship edited by Paul Bradshaw & John Melloh (Baker Academic; $22.99.)  I promoted this last year at the Episcopalian gig, and it sure would have fit this year, too...from Romano Guardini to Mark Searle to John D. Witvliet, with authors as diverse as cultural anthropology to liturgy.

Curious about other trends in the Church of England, progressive theology coming out of Great Britain?  Sharing Jim Cotter's eagerness for innovation and celebration of creation-based common grace, yet perhaps more intentionally post-evangelical (rather than merely
ReenchantingChristianity.jpg non-evangelical Anglican) the controversial Dave Tomlinson just released Re-Enchanting Christianity: Faith in an Emerging Culture (Canterbury Press; $18.99.)   The blurb by Tony Jones puts it well, "Cuts through the pap and pop that has infected the church for decades."  Deeply informed by thinkers such as Moltmann and Ricoeur and David Tracey, and citing folks as diverse as Madeline L'Engle and Nick Cave, this is an extraordinary call to new ways.  Hmmmm.  His book The Post Evangelical was considered by many to be the first salvo in the debates about the emergent movement, so he's an important writer.

Two books showed up the day I got back from the retreat.  I would have highlighted 'em both amongst by Episo-pals, so if any are reading, consider these part of my up-front book announcements.  I'll plug 'em here, now:
.
signs and seasons.jpgSigns and Seasons: A Guide for Your Christian Journey  Graham Kings  (Canterbury Press; $22.99.)  This is a collection of fresh stories, inviting us to use the image of journey, and openness to the arts, to nurture new ways to pray and live out contemporary, engaged faithfulness.  It includes poetry and reflections, helping us be more intentional about the shape of our journey by reminding us of the centrality of the Christian year.  He draws upon examples of art installations, poems, innovative worship experiences and, if I may suggest, it all strikes a healthy balance between creativity and playful allusivity (Seerveld's word) and orthodox sanity.  I like N.T. Wright's endorsing blurb, "This book will open the mind to fresh truth while opening the imagination to glimpses of glory."  Kings is Vicar of St. Mary's Islington, one of London's most vibrant churches, and the founder of Fulcrum, a network committed to renewing the evangelical centre of the Church of England and the world wide Anglican communion.  This would be a great refresher for those needing a bit of a blast, although it may be most useful for beginners, those unfamiliar with the church calendar, and how it shapes our unfolding discipleship.  Check out the book's website here, watch the author video, and come back here to order. 

jewish woman's prayer book.jpgAnother book I wished had arrived in time to share at the retreat may interest some readers here: it is gloriously produced as a simple hardback with a rich paper jacket and glorious Hebrew lettering on each facing page.  A Jewish Woman's Prayer Book edited by Aliza Lavie (Spiegel & Grau) is stunning, weighty, imported from Israel.  A beautiful, one-of-a-kind collection, it draws from a variety of Jewish traditions, through the ages, to commemorate every occasion and every passage in the cycle of life.  Wondrous.

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Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street  Dallastown, PA  17313     717.246.3333


December 9, 2008

A Faith & Culture Devotional: Daily Readings on Art, Science & Life

a faith & culture devotional.jpgI'm torn here at BookNotes sometimes between raving and raving, going on and on, telling why a particular new book is so important, so urgent, so helpful, and the more subtle and brief approaches.  This ain't Twitter, friends, but I do know I sometimes push the limit of your generous reading time and on-line attention span.    So I will try hard not to write too much today, but this book warrants it.  I want to shout it from the rooftops, in great detail.  This is a great, great new book!

Ahh, the quandary: how to be brief when a book is so exciting to me, so urgent for the church, so perfect for our readership?  I want to announce, describe, promote and sell this great new resource, and to avoid sounding like pure schlock, I'd love to take the time to explain it a bit.

The publisher, Zondervan, has broken new ground, offering a devotional reader that is not a typical collection of Bible readings or devotional thoughts.  It is a reader on various aspects of Christian engagement with culture, a primer about the intellectual life well lived.

Edited by our friend Kelly Monroe Kullberg (of Veritas Forum), and Lael Arrington, this is a fabulous idea and is carried out well; A Faith & Culture Devotional is described as "a daily guided tour through many of the paintings, laboratories, rock arenas, great books, mass movements and private lives that have shaped the ways we think and live."

Each section is arranged for 2 weeks, and each day includes a short piece---call it an essay or article or devotional, around a certain theme, followed by brief reflection/discussion questions.  For instance, they offer readings in categories of history, popular arts, science, philosophy, literature, and so forth.  The only thing that quite comes to mind as similar to this are the Breakpoint radio collections that were compiled from Colson's radio show. These are a bit more broad, and not necessarily stamped with Colson's particular perspective, making them appealing to those who enjoy that format and worldviewish framework, but who might appreciate other voices.

The scholars, authors and activists that these pieces are written by include writers who are known to the evangelical press and widely respected----Phil Yancey,  Os Guinness, James Emory White, John Stott, Nancy Pearcey, Scot McKnight, Gene Vieth, Francs Schaeffer, Dallas Willard and more.  And there are those who are known in the broader church (Frederica Matthewes-Green is a heck of a great writer and a thoughtful Orthodox author; Michael Behe is a devout Roman Catholic biologist...)

Some of these pieces, by their titles, or by the paring of topic and writer, are thrillng to consider:  Eric Metexas writing as Screwtape on The Davinci Code,  Hans Rookmaaker on the Impressionists, contemporary painter Bruce Herman on "Sex, Intimacy & Worship" Phil Yancey on Tolstoy, novelist James Scott Bell on Moby Dick.  The late Lebanese scholar and UN leader, Charles Malik has a piece entitled "The Future and the Wonder of Being" and Betsy Childs' title made me turn to it right away: "The Virtue of Holiness: A Vivid Thing"  Dick Keyes gives us insight into "Seeing Through Cynicism" and Drew Trotter critiques the sociobiology of E.O Wilson.  One of Ms Arrington's pieces is a perfect example of the cleverness and usefulness of most of these entries: "Dr. Faustus: The Vanity of the Easy Button."  Or, how about the subtitle of one on the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, "The Sacrament of Struggle."

Ahhhh, my quandary.  I just want to keep writing, teasing you with the various good pieces here, the interesting insights, the worldview-forming power of these various essays and quality thinkers.  There's a year's worth---stuff on Dylan, on aging, on trafficking, on quantum physics; there are lovely pieces on the Bible and helpful articles on pivotal moments in history (like the French Revolution or the impact of Uncle Tom's Cabin.)

I hope you pause for a moment and think of the value of such a reader;  this is a Christian university education in a nut-shell, a refresher course (if you're lucky) or a new batch of material you ought to know, but most likely don't. Not only will this help you be what you are called to be, but it will be an excellent tool, a resource and reference to use often.  Who knows when you'll have to say something of worth about Picasso or string theory or archeology, literature or U2, genomes or Hamlet.

You probably don't read as widely as you should;  few of us do.  You may not see yourself as called to be a son or daughter of Issachar (who "understood the times and knew what God's people should do") but I suspect, if you are reading BookNotes, you desire to please God by being faithful, wise, active, engaged.  I am sure dipping into this--in long stretches, as I might, or in the prescribed daily dose---will strengthen your mind and deepen your heart.

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December 13, 2008

Christmas gifts: devotionals

We are glad some readers enjoyed our description in the last post of the exceptional A Faith & Culture Devotional, and we're hoping it will be a surprising and appreciated gift for many.

Maybe you'd like to give a more traditional devotional as a gift, but don't want just the same old mediocre inspiration.  Here are a few different ones.  Maybe one of these would please that special someone.


Glenstal book of readings.JPGThe Glenstal Book of Readings: For the Seasons  (Liturgical Press; $29.95.)  This is a pocket sized prayer book full of readings from some truly remarkable theologians, writers and philosophers arranged as readings to be used to supplement the Divine Office (or, of course, by itself) during Advent, Christmastide, Lent and Easter.  You may know that a few years ago when the odd publishing phenomenon of the Prayer of Jabez was taking North America by storm, the Irish Benedictine Columba community's Glenstal Book of Prayer became (a more spiritually substantial) sensation on the best seller lists of Europe.  We stock that interesting little prayer-book, still...This new sleeved book of readings is produced by the same folks with very lovely leather, a strong ribbon marker, two color ink, and quality paper.  Readings include authors such as Hans Urs von Balthasar, Raymond Brown, Hildegard of Bingen,  Martin Buber, Kallistos Ware, Karl Rahner, Romano Guardini, John Henry Newman, Richard Bauckhan, John O'Donohue, Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza,  even Karl Barth. 

tender words.jpgThe Tender Words of God: A Daily Guide  Ann Spangler (Zondervan; $16.99)  This is a collection of the Bible's most tender words, designed to remind us of God's immense love for us.  This is a beautiful glimpse of God, from God's own words, arranged for morning and evening readings, a text and a prayer.  As Ann tells of her purpose, "I wanted to know God's love that is lavish...so that I could love more fiercely."  Wow. A compact hardback with an embossed cover and a beige ribbon marker.  This is very, very nicely done, and could be really a God-send for many, inviting us to prayer consideration of the very words of God.






fresh grounded.jpgFresh Grounded Faith: Devotions to Awaken Your Spirit  Jennifer Rothschild (Harvest House; $13.99)  Rothschild is a popular author on the "Women of Faith" circuit, the author of the very moving memoir of her blindness (Lessons I Learned in the Dark.)  Here, she runs with the coffee schtick, with each daily reading followed by sections cleverly called "What's Percolating in Me: My Response",  "Spill the Beans: My Prayer", and  "Thanks a Latte: My Praise."  There's even a website to order a special free blend of her own roast.  May be just right for a coffee lover who wonders what is brewing inside, how to hear from the fresh God of the Bible, and what it means to be grounded in Him, secure, stable, rich.  Might it be said that we then become a pleasing aroma?  Check out this promo video about her.


open the door rupp.jpgOpen the Door: A Journey to the True Self  Joyce Rupp (Sorin Press; $17.95)  This Catholic sister is a master at plumbing rich metaphors (Fresh Bread; May I Have This Dance; Broken Cup, among others) and placing them into workbook journal/devotionals.  This new one is a beautiful exploration of the image of the doorway, and is reflective, allusive, contemplative, suggestive.  We've met Joyce, have truly enjoyed her nearly mystical presence and mature teaching, and are happy to celebrate this brand new set of creative meditations.

By the way, we've long appreciated her book Praying Our Goodbyes (Ave Maria Press; $12.95) also, which may be a good resource from some this time of year. Regardless of one's sadness or grief, we can---as the old hymn puts it---"take it to the Lord in prayer."  In her distinctively Catholic way, Rupp gently helps us do just that.  Highly recommended.


soli del gloria Augsburger.jpgSoli Deo Gloria: A Daily Walk Through Romans  Myron Augsburger (Herald Press; $14.99)  Looking for a mature yet pleasant romp through one of the most content-rich portions of Scripture?  Want a guide who is not only deeply evangelical in his commitments to historic Christian doctrine, but who is socially engaged, aware of the needs of the world, and eager to rediscover how simple living, peacemaking and wholistic witness can emerge from the Scriptures?  Myron is a deeply respected man, a fruitful Mennonite leader and evangelist and one whose experience in higher education has made him a mentor to many.  This is a page-a-day coolection on the very gospel of God, found in the story of this remarkable letter written to the faith community struggling in the heart of the Roman empire so many years ago.

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December 16, 2008

Christmas gifts: two new Bibles

Perhaps you may want to give a Bible as a Christmas gift.  Hardly ever a bad idea.  As you can imagine, we have nearly every possible translation, size, shape, color and format.  No matter what your preference---or, more to the point, what you think would be most helpful for the one you are gifting---we can help.  Do give us a call so we can chat, since it is a bit complicated, but we can help you find choose just the right edition.

Here, for instance, are two very different options, both pretty spectacular in their own way.

You may know that the recent English Standard Version is the hottest translation amongst ESV Study bible.jpgconservative evangelicals, and other folks too, who want a rendering that is utterly faithful, knowingly conservative in the translation process, yet committed to both readability and a significant degree of class.  Frankly, some have thought this may sound a bit like the old RSV;  it retains much of the dignity of language lost in more colloquial editions, and yet is still very accessible to modern readers. It does not use inclusive language for gender so it is driven by a bit of ideological bias (oddly thinking that inclusive language is an ideological bias, but that translating anthropos as "men" is not.)  If one does not mind that quaint mis-speaking, many think it reads quite well.  Crossway certainly has put it out in some very handsome editions, very cool compact leathers, some rich text editions, a wide-margin hardback for note-taking with a moleskin band.

Earlier this fall, the very, very much anticipated study Bible edition was released to much fanfare and it truly is a tour de force, with 20,000 notes, and great maps, charts, articles and cross-references galore.  The notes are stimulating, balanced, if traditionally evangelical, with a bit of a Reformed Protestant bias.  (John Piper calls its scope and faithfulness "breathtaking" and Jerry Bridges says that it is the "finest study tool I've seen in 50 years of Bible teaching."  Joni Eareckson Tada raves, saying "it's clarity and beauty are extraordinary.")  These church leaders are right: the ESV Study Bible is an extraordinary resource.  With it even comes a completely free on-line version for download, too. 

We have the big hardback on sale at 25% off the regular price of $49.99  making it just $37.50.
(If you want a nice leather edition, call or email; they are very nice; the gift of a lifetime.) You can read a bit about it here, but do come back to BookNotes if you want to order it!  Thanks.

The Voice paper.jpgOn the opposite end of the "translation spectrum" is The Voice New Testament, a hip Bible project creatively midwifed by good folks who are somewhat involved in the emergent conversation and contemporary worship movements (and others not connected with any particular movement.)  Chris Seay, Brian McLaren, Lauren Winner, Greg Garrett and others did these paraphrases, with a high interest in helping readers get the essential literary style, the texture, the story.  (They have conversations written out like a screenplay script, making it very clear who said what.)  Most Bible translations start with serious exegetes, Greek or Hebrew scholars, who do their best to render the words into technically accurate phrases.  Then, linguists and reading specialists go back over it, perhaps, helping polish the prose into something readable. The methodology of The Voice was the reverse: they had poets and preachers have at it, render the text as best they could, in beautiful, contemporary style, with communication---capturing the tone and story--- at the higest premium.  Then, they had the Greek experts review it, refining it, correcting any misunderstandings or inaccuracies.  The theologically diverse musicians, pastors, and writers who composed this new version are deeply committed to good and clear and wondrous language, and the Bible scholars who backed 'em up are very solid. (Dr. Tremper Longman, for instance, who suggests that it could transform one's life, says it is "faithful to the original" or Dr. Darrell Bock, no shill for the emergent post-evangelicals, who blurbs it saying "Presenting the biblical contents in a lyrical and narrative manner is another way of teaching and preaching the Bible...opening up opportunity to hear old stories in a fresh way or allowing one to hear them for the first time in an engaging way."  Some have described it as a postmodern Message.  It makes for a fascinating project.  Here is a good interview with one of the creators, explaining the hopes for the project.

You may have seen some of these as they published them book by book over the last year or so, with creative artthe voice leather.jpg designed covers, clever titles, small paperbacks.   There have been a couple of companion music CDs. Now, they've got the whole New Testament done, presented in beautiful two color ink, with sweet calligraphy on occasion and cool sidebars with devotional commentary and a bit of shrewd application cues.  They are a sight to behold, in two great editions.  The rich looking paperback is shown above and the hemp-like burlappy edition has a solid brown leather swatch across it---the picture on the right doesn't do it justice.  Both are very, very cool. 

We have both of them at 25% off the regular retail price.  The paperback is usually $19.99, making our sale price $14.99.  The paper slip-cased flexible cloth/leather edition is regularly $34.99 with our discounted price $26.25.

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December 17, 2008

Christmas gifts: science books

Perhaps you would like to give a gift this Christmas to a science lover.  It is interesting how much interest there is in science; we have a huge selection.  The interface of science and Christian faith continues to be a topic about which much is written and not a few folks read widely. Here are some provocative ones that might pique the interest of someone who is "hard to buy for."  Ho, ho, ho, here ya go:

commentary on darwin.gifTheological and Scientific Commentary on Darwin's Origin of Species  Ted Peters & Martinez (Abingdon; $20.00)  I am not convinced that these guys get it fully right---who does?---but this would make a fabulous gift for the curious, creationist or Darwinist. (Well, the creationist won't like it, but if they should know of it, and they may like the CD-ROM.)  It includes the complete text of The Origin of Species on CD-ROM (which makes this a rather nifty little gift set.)  John Haught, himself a theistic evolutionist and Darwin scholar highly recommends this, as do others of that view.  That Darwin's original work is linked to and compared with the most contemporary work in, as one reviewer puts it,  "the lab and the pew", makes this a nice paperback contribution to one's science library. 

Nature's Witness: How Evolution Can Inspire Faith  Daniel M Harrell  (Abingdon; $18.00)natures witness.jpg  Again, I am less interested in the details than the fact that a book like this exists for enjoyment and discussion.  This is the second in the emergent village's "Living Theology" series (edited by Tony Jones.)  Harrell is a pastor at Park Street Church in Boston and holds a Ph.D. in development psychology from Boston College.  Rave reviews from evangelicals like Richard Peace, Andy Crouch and from mainline theological journalists like The Christian Century's Jason Byasee indicates that this could be well-loved by many and is being discussed in various circles.  Anne Carpenter, Director of the Imaging Platform at Harvard & MIT writes, "Harrell invites us to journey along with him as he learns some of modern science's recent revelations and then asks what these revelations reveal about the nature of God.  At times a friendly stroll through genomes and quarks, at others a wrestling match to reconcile science and theology as two valid and valuable sources of knowledge, this book shows how one can be a firm believer in both."  Nicely written, interesting, a great choice. 

Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul  Kenneth R. Miller (Viking; $25.95)  I am surprised this isn't being more discussed; it is by a major voice in science writing, is very clearly argued, seems very timely, and in quite lively fashion goes after the ID movement.  You may know that I am intellectually partial to the ID scholars, but even those who tend to critique the Darwinists need to read the witty and smart pieces of Mr. Miller.  I didn't find it adequate, but it is very highly recommended by Edward Larson, Francis Collins, Michael Ruse and others...would be a great book to discuss or compare with a more traditional intelligent design scholar like Michael Behe or William Dembski.

creation or evolution.jpgCreation or Evolution: Do We Have To Choose? Denis Alexander (Monarch; $18.99)  We brought this in from England as it has been called a trenchant and masterful study, with a grand endorsement by Francis Collins.  Although a theistic evolutionist and a working scientist, he is theologically traditional and Biblically-informed in good ways.  J.I. Packer, an astute Reformed scholar, says "Surely the best informed, clearest and most judicious treatment of the question that you can find anywhere today."  One of the first books we stocked on this topic nearly thirty years ago was Alexander's first one.  We are tickled to share this one, now. 

The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul  Mario Beauregard & Denyse O'Leary (HarperOne; $14.95)  O'Leary is a Toronto-based journalist, activist and writer who I have long respected, for her pro-life work and her thoughtful ID scholarship.  This important book is based in part on research done on the brain activity in Carmelite nuns in the course of their deepest religious experiences, this is a thoughtful and interesting case for mystical experiences and the spiritual core of humans.  Fascinating for those with an interest in the question about the mind/consciousness questions. 

book nobody read.jpgThe Book Nobody Read: Chasing Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus Owen Gingerich (Penguin; $15)  This is not new, but is such a sweet and interesting paperback that we had to recommend it.  The esteemed Dr. G teaches astronomy at Harvard and has given us a remarkable book that is part biography of a book, part science, part travelogue and intellectual detective story.  Prodded by Arthur Koestler's claim that when it was first published nobody read Copernicus eventually famous work, Gingerich embarked on a three decades-long quest to look at in person all six hundred extant copies of the first and second editions of De revolutionibus, including those owned and annotated by Galileo and Kepler.  This has garnered rave reviews from Pulitzer Prize winners, all the top book review mags, and fun endorsements from the likes of science writer Dava Sobel.  This should be under somebody's tree, I'm sure.

When God is Gone Everything is Holy: The Making of a Religious Naturalist
 
Chet Raymo (Sorin; $22.95)  I don't like the title; I believe the slogan is untrue, and it saddenswhen God 2.jpg me.  Yet, this book pulls the reader in, from the feel of the textured paper dust jacket to the poetic reflections, written with great warmth and care.  The beloved nature writer (and long-time science journalist for the Boston Globe) does an eloquent job of provoking and stimulating deep thought and leading to what I can only describe as wonder.  The fabulous Catholic fiction writer, essayist and literary critic Brian Doyle raves about it; that is a good sign.  This is a lovely, complex, mysterious book, a bit sad, as the author no longer hold his traditional Christian view, but holds to a much more sacramental, but religiously agnostic perspective, a view which nonetheless allows him great joy.  It is a book of great integrity, I think.  This could be a dear gift to someone, and would necessitate further, deep conversation.  That could be a great opportunity for further discussion, making this a gift that starts, or enhances, dialogue and friendship---and perhaps wonder and faith.
  

Scientific Mythologies: How Science and Science Fiction Forge New Religious Beliefs  James A. Herrick (IVP Academic; $23.00)  I might suggest that this is the only book of its kind and that nearly everyone knows somebody who would benefit from a treatise like this.  It is serious, thoughtful, perhaps a bit more than the typical Star Wars fan cares to explore, but for true sci-fi geeks, this may be a life-saver. And a lot of fun, if they like to think (which most sci-fi afficionadoes do, of course.)  With endorsements from Ken Myers (Mars Hill Audio Journal) and James Sire, this covers all the greats, with a serious eye to the yearning for transcendence that animates many of the best science fiction authors. And,  Herrick makes a strong critique of the alien worldviews (as Douglas Groothuis cleverly puts it) that have emerged through the genre of science fiction.


expelled.jpgDVD Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed  Ben Stein  (Vivendi Entertainment $26.95)  I wrote about this when it first came out and although it will surely irritate many, it's plea for academic freedom, open minds, and an honest discussion of the merits of Darwinism should be something we all can affirm.  Skip back to my BookNotes post for my take on it's significance, here.  Documentaries are hip, cool gifts these days, anyway, and Expelled is very well made.  Go for it.  Be bad to the bone.  Give it to somebody who needs annoyed, anyone in higher education, students, or anybody who ought to care more about civil liberties, freedom of speech or thought. And if you know someone in the sciences, wrap it up with a sly smile and offer to watch it with them, with you bringing the popcorn and beverages.  Tell Santa wants them to see it.

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December 19, 2008

Christmas gifts: spectacular last minute gift package deals

Here are some fabulously interesting and stimulating gift suggestions, linking up some curious selections to make a very special stocking stuffer or gift set.  We gift-wrap for free, too, so don't hesitate to email or call us.  We can still try to get this stuff under somebody's tree, and bring a smile to your face as you give such interesting gifts.  We appreciate your doing some last minute shopping with us.  We don't even think that Santa could top this!

Singin' the Blues package    $25.00

Getting the Blues:  What Blues Music Teaches Us About Suffering and Salvation
  Stephen J. Nichols (Brazos; $17.99)  Stephen is a local Lancaster guy, an amazing theologian who is now heading up a project on popular culture, even as he teaches theology.  What other Bible college prof is as knowledgeable of Robert Johnson as he is Jonathan Edwards? I'm very, very happy to announce this, study of the redemptive insights of the blues, and think it would be quirky enough for a "hard to buy for" friend or loved one.  

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Time smaller.jpgThe Time I Spend With You CD Brooks Williams (Red Guitar Blue Music; $12.99)   Brooks, you should know, is one of our all-time favorite live performers, truly one of the most talented (and acclaimed) guitar guys around, and a gracious thoughtful friend.  His latest CD is nothing but the blues; some are old standards, a few rare classics, and a couple of originals.  Nothing too gritty, nothing dirty, just jar-dropping playing, some uplifting tones amidst the slide guitar and resonator, bluesy feel.  I think this is a perfect way to introduce this genre to folks, as it isn't too heavy, not too dark.  Wonderfully entertaining.  Give it, tell your loved on to put it on as they read Steve Nichol's survey and reflections on the Christian significance of this Americana music.  (If you'd want, you could go with the somewhat less bluesy 2006 Williams' release, which is mostly originals, Blues & Ballads.)

Let It Snow package  $25.00

Winter: A Spiritual Biography of the Season
  Edited by Gary Schmidt & Susan Felch;winter.jpg illustrations by Barry Moser (Skylight Paths; $18.95)  This is one volume in the glorious collection of poems, essays, articles and sermons on the four seasons.  A truly beautiful collection, this explores the dormancy and difficulty of winter can be a time of spiritual preparation and transformation. Writers such as Annie Dillard, Barry Lopez, Jane Kenyon, Henry David Thoreau, etc.

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December CD George Winston (Windham Hill; $12.99)  His rambling, slow, solo-piano improvisations are legendary, and his lovely rendition here of variations on Pachelbel's Canon is alone more than worth the price of this classic wintry CD.  A great soundtrack for anything; coupled with the Schmidt/Felch book, it is genius.  This re-issued comes enhanced with some bonus material not on the original.  If you think your friend might already have it, we could substitute a Windham Hill Winter Solstice CD, with the same wintry photograph on the cover and the same mellow acoustic improvisations.

Green Bible Coffee Table package  $50.00 

The NRSV Green Bible
  (HarperOne; $29.95) You've heard of red-letter editions. This is, literally, a green letter edition!  The more than 1000 Bible verses dealing with creation-care, the environment, and the beauty of God's world are in green.  There is an ecological topical index, a  green Bible Trail Guide, and inspirational essays by Cal DeWitt, Barbara Brown Taylor,  N.T. Wright, Desmond Tutu, Matthew Sleeth, Pope John Paul II, among others, and a frontispiece bit of poetry by Wendell Berry and a canticle by St. Francis of Assisi.  All done on recycled paper with soy-based ink and a hemp-like, linen cover. This could be a life-changing gift for somebody...

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spirituality of nature.gifThe Spirituality of Nature  Jim Kalnin (Northstone; $37.00)  What a beautiful coffee table book, with lovely and inspiring (and very interesting) full-color photographs, and an extended essay on the glories of being more in tune with God's good creation.  Whether hiking or paddling, walking barefoot or tasting sumptuous food (or looking at books like this one) God has allowed us to enter into a great sensation of grace mediated by the real things of the beautiful world.  Kalnin's stories allow us to experience what living more alive to nature might be like.  Northstone, by the way, is an imprint of a faith-based publishing venture from Canada, and this is part of a stunning Spirituality of...gift book series.  Others include similar photo-graph rich, colorful, over-sized hardbacks on "the spirituality of" music, bread, wine, pets, grandparents, art.  Each is very, very handsome.


Deep Thinking for Music Lovers package  $40  (best bargain!)

Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music  Jeremy Begbie (Baker Academic; $22.99)  This is the definitive serious study of a Christian philosophy of music, written by the world's leading musician-theologian.  We are pleased to suggest this, despite its weighty prose, as it is the sort of ground-breaking foundational work that can inform anyone serious about culture, the arts, or faithfully engaging the world of music. 

AND                                                                                                      
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The Spirituality of Music  John Bird (Northstone; $35.00)  This, like the Spirituality of Nature one shown above, is laden with vivid photographs of music being played all over the world.  This is an exciting, pleasing coffee table book with thoughtful, inspiring text, amazing graphics, beautiful color.  What a great gift for a practice room, a music studio, or for anyone interested in the world of music.  We're offering quite a savings, too, and it will make Santa sing if he gets to share it with someone.   



Green Bible Activist package $35.00 

green bible.jpgThe NRSV Green Bible  (HarperOne; $29.95) You've heard of red-letter editions, this is, literally, a green letter edition.  The more than 1000 verses dealing with creation care, the environment, and the beauty of God's world are in green.  There is a green topic index, a Bible Trail Guide, and inspirational essays by Cal DeWitt, Barbara Brown Taylor,  N.T. Wright, Desmond Tutu, Matthew Sleeth, Pope John Paul II, among others, and a frontispiece bit of poetry by Wendell Berry and a canticle by St. Francis of Assisi.  All done on soy-based ink, recycled paper and a hemp-like linen cover.
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Our Father's World: Mobilizing the Church to Care for Creation  Edward Brown (IVP; $15)  One of the best recent books on why serious Christians should be involved in stewardly environmentalism and what we can do to nurture a "green" sort of discipleship.  This is balanced and readable, and yet a passionate and inspiring call for God's people to offer leadership in this urgent arena.  Very nicely done and highly recommended.

Journal Your Way Through the Bible package $35.00 

52 greatest.jpgThe 52 Greatest Stories of the Bible  Ken Boa & John Alan Turner  (Regal) $24.95  This is a really handsome hardback, a bit masculine looking, perhaps, perfect to hold, and great to give.  More importantly, it will provide a year's worth of insight into key stories, working on one major text a week.  This jumpstarts your study of the whole Bible through one good lens, offering information, insight and inspiration.  I really respect these two guys (they wrote a fabulous book on nurturing the Christian mind among children) and they are solid Bible scholars, without appearing highbrow or academic.  Very highly recommended for beginners or long-time Bible readers.

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Soulcare Journal  (Bright Hope International; $19.99)  We are delighted to recommend these hand-crafted large-sized journals lovingly made with recycled paper, created  by women living in extreme poverty in Moradabad, India.  These hand-bound books come in four colors, blue, green, dark red and brown.  All have an earth-tone quality, with handsome design features, and includes an excellent small booklet on how and why to journal.  Makes a very meaningful gift.  Let us know what color, or we can choose for you.

Housework and the Sacredness in Everyday Life package  $30.00

Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life
  Margaret Kim Peterson (Jossey Bass;keeping house.jpg $21.95)  We have raved about this before, it is the most substantial theology of home-making and house-keeping that we know of.  It is a lovely and insightful study offering a Christian perspective on everyday home-making.

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Next To Godliness: Finding the Sacred in Housekeeping
  Edited by Alice Peck (Skylight Paths; $19.99.)  There is a tiny problem, here: the homey sketch on the front of the paperback doesn't capture the rich, literary, thoughtful, inter-faith musings that are contained in this extraordinary anthology. From personal narratives to poems, we have here everyone from Pablo Neruda to Mahatma Gandhi,  Kathleen Norris to Billy Collins, Martin Luther King to Rumi, Brother Lawrence to Sue Bender.  What an interesting collection!

The "Let Us Surprise You with a Fiction, Faith & Musical Soundtrack" package  $25

Tell us briefly a bit about your loved one and we will pick a thoughtful Christian novel, something not too pushy and with a lovely look and feel, a good story, with a bit of a message.  Perhaps if you tell us if you want the gift to be pretty basic writing, a bit more nuanced or something top shelf that is very well done.  And, tell us if the one to whom you are giving this enjoys historical fiction, a contemporary thriller, mystery, chick-lit or a contemporary story.  There are tons of great writers on evangelical publishing houses and many are quite good.  Let us pick something out for you.  We can be your Santa Claus.

reading fireplace.jpgAND

The soundtrack to the story can be jazz, classical, acoustic instrumental or Christian pop or rock.  We'll find something that seems to fit the tone of the story or the time period, even.  (How about an historical fiction novel from the colonial period, and some authentic period music?  An international story with a CD of Patamayo world music?  A moody contemporary romance story with a smooth jazz soundtrack?  This could be fun but your going to have to trust us.)

Please let us know if you want us to gift-wrap these.  Most typically, we'd gift wrap each separately and tie them together with one bright ribbon and bow.  For shipping purposes, we may have to adjust that a bit...No extra charge.  Let's go!




We recommend that you call if you want the most prompt service or if we need to discuss any of these creative gift pack options.
  Our elves are standing by... 

PLEASE CALL
717.246.3333

or
ORDER HERE

Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street  Dallastown, PA  17313     717.246.3333


December 24, 2008

in Advent Hope & Peace: Merry Christmas (with some help from Sufjan Stevens)

We are Christmas music geeks here, and have oodles of favorite albums.  I love some of the moody acoustic arrangements of Windham Hill, and the rowdy stuff of pop/rock versions, 50's crooners, Texas swing, black gospel, and the more formal John Rutter or the Cambridge singers.  We often play Celtic seasonal stuff, some jazz, and yearly lament that Bruce Cockburn's excellent Christmas is out of print. And I hope you have listened to at least the Christmas portion of Handel's Messiah oratorio at least once this season...

Yet, somehow, the eccentric performance artist new baroque folk troubadour Sufjan Stevens and his gonzo banjo, xylophone and tromboned band's Christmas boxed set nearly moves me to tears.  Well, okay, with frazzled nerves and heavy heart this time of year---good news amidst such a needy world---it does move me to tears.


Thanks for supporting our odd little shop, and caring for our reviews and annotations here at BookNotes. Special thanks to those that subscribe, folks who have shared the blog with others, fellow book lovers who have posted comments, our mail order customers, local friends, good staff and all our loved ones.  And the ones nobody loves. Merry, merry Christmas.


This cut becomes rowdy, and, yes, strangely moving. (I don't know who made the video.)  What is your favorite line?  ("Hijack the snowplow"?)  Is there any other Christmas song that mentions K-mart, the tower of Babel, and "your sisters new bangs, she cut them herself"?)  Come on, Let's Boogie to the Elf Dance.

Here, he does a low-fi, home-made version of Joy to the World.  When the voice goes unusually up just a bit on the word "king" I get tingles.  The quiet falsetto fade out reminds me of some nearly eerie homesick thing; Christ comes to dwell here, home, indeed.

Speaking of home, it figures into this upbeat goofball of a song (how many instruments can you count in there?) and the hipster animation shows the fam visiting grandma who lives alone. Telling her of Jesus also means they must head home, to be together.  This, I think, was his own video greeting card a few years back: Put the Lights On the Tree

And, on the same album, this quiet version of Holy Holy Holy. A lovely holiday video, too.  As we celebrate the baby Jesus, it should be a large reminder of the "blessed Trinity."  If you are ambitious, listen to his stunning version of Come Thou Font of Every Blessing;  it will make you weak in the knees.  Now, that's how to have a merry Christmas.

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Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street Dallastown, PA  17313     717-246-3333


December 26, 2008

Money & Faith: The Search for Enough

Perhaps like you, I experience some emotional and spiritual whiplash this time of year.  Earlier today, for instance, I looked in the newspaper at 50s era vavoom pictures of Eartha Kitt (Santa Baby; Catwoman) who died on Christmas day, and I read a prayer to commemorate the Feast Day of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, known for his fiery preaching and his service to the poor.  We named our first daughter in part in honor of this great saint.  Now, I enjoy silly seasonal stuff and Eartha Kitt tunes as much as the next guy, and yet know that isn't most important.  Like you, I truly long for Christ to be known, for joy to the world,  and for God's Kingdom to bring substantial healing for the poor of our sad world.  

money & fatih.jpgSo in my holiday blend of pensive joy, I thought I'd tell you about a recent release, a book we were delighted to sell this month and have been wanted to announce for weeks.  (We still have it right on the counter here at the shop.)  Money & Faith: The Search for Enough is edited by Michael Schut (Morehouse Publishing; $20.00) and it is excellent. This is the third in a series edited by Mr. Schut, and both the first two (Simple Living Compassionate Life: A Christian Perspective; Food & Faith: Justice, Joy and Daily Bread) and this new one are glorious anthologies of great writing.  Each have nice designs, handsome graphics, and a great study guide in the back making them ideal for personal reflection or, better, small group use.

  From authors such as Wendell Berry to Henri Nouwen, Bill McKibben to Frances Moore Lappe, these thoughtful short excerpts of books, essays or sermons are brought together to offer an alternative to the North American way of not seriously relating faith and finances, Christian principles and economics, spirituality and commerce, the so-called sacred and the secular.  That is, they help us bring together what is often sequestered.  Since they are mostly shorter pieces, they are perfect to dip in to, serendipitiously, even, or to study, carefully. This brand new one, Money & Faith, especially, is witty and insightful (where else to you find pieces by liberation theologians like Leonardo Boff and humorists like Dave Barry?  Henri Nouwen and William Greider?)  Walter Brueggemann's classic sermon "The Liturgy of Abundance, the Myth of Scarcity" is here (and worth the price of the book, since you will want to re-read it regularly) as is the useful tool on writing your own money auto-biography created by Church of the Savior's Ministry of Money.  The late Christian educator, spunky Maria Harris, is represented with a piece on the Year of Jubilee and Wayne Muller, author of Sabbath, has an excerpt.  It is a mature, wise, and challenging collection, useful and good.

We have a large selection of books on global economics and Christian perspectives on both personal finances and on the bigger picture of economic theory. One of my all time top five books in my life is Ron Sider's still classic, recently updated Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (Nelson; $15.99) which we still insist is a "must-read" which, then, naturally makes one want to know more about faithful economics and global injustices. 

And there are a lot of good ones.  For instance, one that has gotten very excellent reviews thisfear of beggars.jpg year, written for serious readers, that seems appropriate to mention this week, is The Fear of Beggars: Stewardship and Poverty in Christian Ethics by Kelly S. Johnson (Eerdmans; $20.00)  She is involved in the provocative Ekklesia Project and has pondered deeply not only the obvious question---should we give to beggars?----but the broader ethical issues of stewardship, property rights, economics and Christian social ethics. Christine Pohl (herself author of the brilliant Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition) writes "One does not necessarily expect a book on begging and reimagining property relations to sing with theological and historical insight, but Kelly Johnson's book does just that. Her account is fascinating and beautifully written..."  From Saint Francis' "economic unilateral disarmament" to the medieval discussions of the poor, to good teaching about Wesley, to the 20th century Catholic Worker writings of Peter Maurin, this is lively scholarship that matters.

I don't know how you're feeling this week, of course.  Perhaps you spent more money than you should have, and have concerns about that, practical or ethical.  Most likely you are concerned about scary economic forecasts, and maybe even lost some of your savings this year.  Maybe you don't have as much as you need, and are worried.  Maybe you wish you had a less consumerist lifestyle, but can't get your family on board the simple lifestyle train.  Maybe you're yearning, amidst the whiplashes of this season, for a life of integrity, wholeness, integration.  Surely we would all like our daily lifestyle choices--our shopping and spending and saving and giving, to reflect our deepest convictions.  Although it may be hard to trust, we know the Bible invites us to a very different relationship with money than our surrounding culture and it's myths and stories.

Maybe this new year you could convene a group to ponder and work through some of the important questions of how to best handle this large part of our lives, our money.  We commend Money & Faith:The Search for Enough, now more than ever.

And, lastly: the gift giving tradition around this time of year (besides the wonderful imageDemi.jpg of the wise men bearing gifts that we celebrate at Epiphany, the 12th day of the Christians season) comes from the historical character of St. Nicholas.  We have several good childrens books about this fine century man, but none as visually stunning as this one by classic childrens illustrator, Demi.  The Legend of St. Nicholas (McElderry; $19.95) is done in a style of icons, giving it visual and historical richness.  What a wonderful gift for any family wanting to recall the reasons for our holiday customs.  The artwork is sumptuous, the writing accurate.  Great!



FREE BOOK OFFER

Here's a deal: buy any one of these mentioned above and we will give you---this week only---a free copy of Shane Claiborne's Irresistible Revolution.   (A $15 dollar value, free to you!)
You may know that young Shane lives in voluntary simplicity, doing urban activism and justice work, living with and for the poor, in The Simple Way community.  His exciting book has been one of our best sellers since it came out a few years back, and we'd love to share it as a reminder of these things, now, during this complicated season of giving and getting, money and faith, Eartha Kitt and St. Stephen. 

We'll honor this offer until the end of the year.  Merry Christmas!

ORDER HERE
or call
717-246-3333

Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street  Dallastown, PA  17313 
   

 

December 29, 2008

Peace to War by Paul Alexander

It is not every day that the opening words of a scholarly book can move me to tears.  I am not sure why I was choked up reading a few pages out loud to Beth this morning;  perhaps it was knowing that today was the Feast Day of the Slaughter of the Innocents, the churches commemoration of the politically-inspired genocide that follows on the heels of the Nativity story.  Or perhaps I was thinking of the great sadness of the bombing of Gaza during this holy time of year.

Or, perhaps, it is just the wonderful knowledge that God's Spirit can convict and changePeace to War 2.jpg people; how glorious to know that God is alive and well, working to conform His people to Christ Jesus.  The book I was reading from is an example of just that.  Peace to War: Shifting Allegiances in the Assemblies of God by Paul Alexander (Cascadia; $26.95) was just released and the forward tells of the author's journey from tongue-speaking, pro-war, right-wing, Pentecostal ditto-head to tongue-speaking, Spirit-filled follower of the way of Jesus' nonviolence who has embraced Biblical pacifism.  Alexander's world was rocked----his faith destroyed, his life murdered, as he colorfully puts it---when he discovered that (get this!) in the first decades of the Assembly of God denomination they were mostly pacifist.  Who knew?

When one thinks of the historic peace churches, one thinks of the Anabaptists such as Mennonites, Quakers, and various sorts of Brethren.  When one thinks of contemporary activist peace-making churches, that is, those who are engaged in anti-militarism, pro-justice,  advocacy for peace, even if not exactly pacifist, one thinks of the mainline churches like the Presbyterians Church (USA), United Methodists, UCCs, Episcopalians, American Baptists, or Roman Catholics. There are very few folks who are outspoken about peace & justice issues from the holiness or Pentecostal denominations.  More often, they support Zionist militarism, seem nearly pro-war and presume a civil religion that is very nationalistic, shaped by an ethos that could easily be considered hawkish. 

And so, this book is shocking.  Shocking that we never knew this bit of Christian history.  Alexander, himself a fourth generation Pentecostal (yes, his relatives were around during the famed Azuza Street revival) and a grad of an AG college and AG seminary, never knew.  This book is the first major work to document the consensus that war was worldly and followers of Christ, empowered by an experience of the Holy Ghost, can live, quite literally, "not by power, not by might, but by my Spirit" as the famous Zechariah text has it. (I have long preached, by the way, that Zechariah 4:6 is set in the context of the nations and has political implications that are mostly overlooked by those who quote the verse or sing the songs inspired by it as if it is verse about personal power for individual piety.)  Alexander has had his faith transformed, and I am eager to follow his journey in this stunning new work.  It is a book that Regent famed Pentecostal scholar Amos Yong calls "gripping" and "prophetic"   That says a lot.

A major concern of the book, as the title suggests, is how the Assembly of God denomination, and the fellow-traveling Pentecostals generally, so quickly lost their sense of Christ-centered nonviolence.  How did a denomination who, empowered by the fruit and gifts of the Spirit, with an ethos of counter-cultural holiness, with a clear consensus in favor of conscientious objection, lose that vision in a matter of a few decades?  It seems that Alexander makes an important argument in answering that, something to the effect that a doctrine which was mostly based on a simplistic "turn the other cheek like Jesus did " was not sustainable, and without a nuanced view of institutions, the State, power, and such, cultural accommodation crept in and war fighting became justified and then accepted (and now often glorified) as the charismatic and Pentecostal tradition, when it is socially engaged at all, is now often yoked to the far end of the religious right.

Will the Mennonites, Brethren in Christ, evangelical Friends or other such groups lose their bearings as nonviolence is divorced from a full-orbed Biblical worldview?  As Denny Weaver warns in the preface, there is some debate in Mennonite circles now against staying true to the historic peace witness. Although it is hoped that Peace to War will jump start a new conversation about peace and Pentecostalism, perhaps it will be a useful corrective to Anabaptists who are tempted to give in to the seductions of the typical American way of life.  Much more generally, it may be useful for anyone who cares about the fidelity of the church and our particular faith traditions.  How do we recover those insights and strengths of previous generations?  How do we prevent cultural accommodation and social drift away from core Biblical values?  As one reviewer on the back put it (from a Church of God seminary) "Here is a profoundly disturbing read for anyone concerned about faith formation across generations...the implications of this study are worth examining by all traditions asking 'Will our children have faith?'"

Maybe that is why I was so touched by the first pages of this academic work.  I long for examples of folk who take faith seriously, rooted within their tradition, but open-minded to explore, and change, when they come to new insights.  Ecumenical and open in our reading and learning, and radical and faithful in our application and formation....ahh, isn't that what this whole book-selling this about?  It does this old heart good to hear of a guy who read and studied, changed and is now a different man.   The author, by the way, now heads up a network linking those interested in charismatic renewal and peacemaking.  See his Pentecostals and Charismatics for Peace and Justice.  This means a great deal to me, but, more, just the example of a fellow honest enough to change so much based on his study should give us hope.

As we think of the horrors of our world----Israeli bombs flying the very day the Zechariah text is being read at Synagogues from their Hebrew lectionary--- perhaps we should, as Psalm 34:14 commends, "seek peace and pursue it."  Maybe we can hope that Pentecostals, even, can add their empowered voices not just for instant healing and promises of financial prosperity--distortions that the best Pentecostals reject---but for a Holy-Spirit driven whole-life witness that lifts up the foolishness of the reign of the Risen Christ, even against the ideologies of militarism and war.  Peace to War is not just for descendants of Azuza Street, not just for Mennonites. It may be helpful for us all.  

December 31, 2008

Still time for the 12 Days of Christmas

I hope you have created some space in your calendar for the classic celebration of the unfolding 12 days, and that you are part of a faith community that pays attention to Epiphany.  When our children were smaller, we did all our family gift-giving on Epiphany.  (It was the wise men---the three kings of the carol---who brought gifts to Jesus and authorizes our gift-giving, it seems.)  So, I hope you don't see this year-end promo as a cheesy after Christmas sale, but as our on-going effort to suggest resources for your living into the ways of God's Kingdom.  Maybe some of these might strike your fancy, if you want to honor some young ones with books this Epiphany.  Books always make nice gifts, eh?  Let's hope kids you know get something with pages this season alongside the gifts of gadgets.

The Story of the Other Wise Man  Henry Van Dyke (Paraclete) $14.95  This could fit in a stocking, it is slim and pocket-sized. A classic novella, re-issued recently in this lovely hardback  Do you know the story?  It is well loved, written in 1923.

come worship with me.jpgCome Worship With Me: A Journey through the Church Year  Ruth Boling, illustrated by Tracey Dahle Carrier (Geneva Press) $19.95  This large sized hardcover has colors so vibrant they immediately attract good attention.  Here, the church mice from the paperback A Children's Guide to Worship, are back, learning about the flow of the church year, the liturgical calendar, and the spiritual rythms of the Christian seasons. Regardless of your denomination, this is a gem (and is really useful in church libraries, if you have such a thing.)  In a special closing section, there are clear explanations for many Christian symbols and crosses;  again, very useful.  Thismouse tales.gif really is a great example of fun and thoughtful children's religious publishing and we are thrilled to recommend it.  Kudos to the Presbys.  More timely, is the equally colorful, somewhat smaller one called Mouse Tales---Things Hoped For: Advent, Christmas and Epiphany ($16.95.)  Maybe you should get it now, read the Epiphany portion and save it for a re-read next season! All three are quite nice.

 

It's Time to Sleep My Love
  Eric Metaxas, illustrated by Nancy Tillman (Feiwel andits time to sleep.gif Friends) $16.95  Ms Tillman is one of the loveliest illustrators (renowned for the best-selling On the Night You Were Born) and her soft chalk & watercolors exude a glow...gentle and yet striking, with a few notable eccentricities which show that this is not cheap or simplistic, but multi-textured art.  Eric Metaxas should be known by BookNotes readers as he is a thoughtful apologist, creative writer of Veggie Tale stuff, and the serious author of the unforgettable Wilberforce bio, Amazing Grace.  What a combo of talent, offering a sweet and delightful invitation to nestle in love, to be assured of the care of a parent, to sleep in peace.  This should be a Caldecott nominee, and it would make a special gift for those with very young children.


blessing-of-the-beasts.jpgThe Blessing of the Beasts Ethel Pochocki, engravings by Barry Moser (Paraclete) $18.95  We've promoted this before, a fabulous story, perhaps inspired by the famous blessing of animals service at St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York.  The illustrations are stunning by this renowned woodcut artist.  That he puts himself into the story is kinda cool, but the tale is told from the viewpoint of some unusual creatures. The whole thing speaks volumes of God's care for all things, for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.  What a great way to humorously teach--about the role of the church, the nature of blessings, the goodness of creation, the acceptance through God's grace of even the rat and the skunk.  Nice. For collectors, by the way, the ones we have are the first editions...

What God Has Always Wanted: The Bible's Big Idea from Genesis through Revelationwhat god has always wanted.jpg  Charles F. Boyd, illustrated by Dennas Davis (FamilyLife Publishing) $14.99  What does it mean to "ask Jesus into your heart?"  What is the point of God's redemptive work?  Is there an unfolding drama. a big-picture view of the Bible story, and is there a story that makes sense of our stories?  This is an important message, rare in Bible study (for kids or adults) and although the illustrations are standard fare cartoonish art, they are vivid, multi-cultural and nicely done.  The point, that God desires to be in friendship with the people He created, on the planet He is redeeming, is nicely told, creating a great overview of the Bible and of God's great love for those He desires to be in relationship with. The back cover offers Psalm 22:27-28.

SilentMusic.jpgSilent Music: A Story of Baghdad  James Rumford (Roaring Brook Press) $17.95  I was rooting for this to get the Caldecott Award last year as it is so very well done, remarkably beautiful, tender and yet edgy, colorful and creative.  It tells the story of a young boy who likes soccer and loud music, but mostly loves the ancient art of calligraphy.  He is inspired by Yakut, a famed master of Islamic calligraphy who lived in Baghdad some 800 years ago, also in a time of war.  It just feels right to tell of this tender and courageous story now, and hope that some may find it worth passing on as a meaningful gift.

northern nativity.jpgA Northern Nativity  William Kurelek (Tundra) $11.99   The story of Kurelek is interesting as he was a renowned late 20th century artist in Canada, until he did some blunt paintings that showed his revulsion to abortion and he fell out of favor among the critics.  Here, he uses his famous brush to paint the story he tells of his youth in the height of the Depression, living on the vast prairies of Canada, learning of the poor who rode boxcars in search of food or work.  He falls asleep and imagines the Nativity set among northern native peoples, igloos and grain silos.  What a striking way to show the universality of the Christ child, a beautiful and mystical telling of this strange and wonderful event.


The 12 Days of Christmas Sale
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Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street Dallastown, PA  17313     717.246.3333