About February 2012

This page contains all entries posted to Hearts & Minds Books in February 2012. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2012 is the previous archive.

March 2012 is the next archive.

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

February 2012 Archives

February 8, 2012

Lenten resources: books for a reflective Lent 2012

My friend Bobby Gross starts off the Lenten section of his wonderful year-long devotional Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God with a good quote by Orthodox theologian Alexander Schememann,

A journey, a pilgrimage! Yet, as we begin it, as we make the first step into the "bright sadness" of Lent, we see---far, far away---the destination. It is the joy of Easter, it is the entrance into the glory of the Kingdom.
Bobby tells some of his own story (and he is, I assure you, not only wise, but a great writer,Living the CY.jpg weaving anecdotes and ruminations about his own experiences, travels and struggles.)  As he sets the stage for his writings about Ash Wednesday and how to "inhabit" the season of Lent, he notes that the idea of giving something up for Lent is deeply rooted in the Christian tradition. ("There is no Lent without fasting" Father Schememann reminds us.)  Bobby, an Episcopalian who has been shaped rhythms of the Book of Common Prayer, says that the prayer book "extends a threefold invitation to observe Lent 'by examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's Word.'  All such Lenten disciplines," Gross continues, "represent a kind of turning from a self-centered stance to a grace-filled humility."

And, so, allow us to offer a few Lenten devotionals and congregational resources for this season soon to be upon us.  But first may I commend to you Gross's book that we've suggested before?

Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God Bobby Gross (IVP) $17.00  It is both an introduction to the church year, a fine bit of writing about it all, and a daily devotional, helping us find Christ in the liturgical calendar, showing how it might shape our discipleship and spiritual growth.  It is very, very good.

Here are a few that may not precisely be Lenten devotionals, but sure seem to be suitable for either personal reflection or group conversation in these next weeks and months.

kingdom cross.gifKingdom and the Cross James Bryan Smith (IVP) $8.00  This is co-published by Renovare (Richard Foster's ministry around contemplative spirituality and church renewal) and what a  little gem it is! There are six sets of two-part chapters.  Each "week" has a three or four page essay, each short but very insightful.  Then it has a "soul training" idea, usually just two or three pages to live into and out of the theme of that chapter.  These offer an experience to enter into ---gazing at an icon (which they reproduce in b/w), watching a movie, doing something for the good of others.  Each week the exercise "trains the soul" to experience and be shaped by the ideas from that chapter.  There is a several page leaders guide in the back for walking a group through the chapters and exercises, discussing them each week.  This group guide, though, is helpful for individuals, as well if you want to ponder and pray about your experience of each section. You may know Smith's other books (most recently the "apprentice trilogy" made up of three handsome hardbacks, The Good and Beautiful God, The Good and Beautiful Life, and The Good and Beautiful Community.) Kingdom and Cross offers ways to slow down, helps you experience these exercises for spiritual formation, but there really is thoughtful reflection about what the cross accomplishes, why Jesus died, how the cross shows us God's great love.

gire.gifShaped by the Cross: Meditations on the Suffering of Jesus  Ken Gire (IVP) $15.00  This is very moving, eloquently written, thoughtful, and tender.  This little book would be ideal for a either personal devotions or a small groups (especially, although not only, for those who are interested or sensitive to the visual arts.)  Shaped... is arranged in seven chapters and each chapter is a meditation on one aspect of the famous Michelangelo Pieta.  (I saw the impressive sculpture bathed in blue lights at the 1964 New York World's Fair when I was a kid and it left an impression, even though I don't think I realized then how important it was.)  There is a discussion guide that is very nice, and a prayer at the end of each section.  Gire is one of these writers we've followed for years -- he doesn't lay it on quite as thick as, say, Max Lucado, but he isn't obtuse or overly dense.  He's a smart guy and a lovely writer.  Kudos!

the j we missed.gifThe Jesus We Missed: The Surprising Truth About the Humanity of Christ  Patrick Henry Reardon (Nelson) $15.99  Reardon, as you may know, is the editor of the profoundly interesting, quirky, theologically sophisticated, sometimes cranky and always stimulating conservative journal Touchstone.  He is an Orthodox priest and pastor who converted from evangelicalism, so he knows much about "mere Christianity" and the ways in which conservative Protestants often hunger for a deeper sense of liturgy and beauty and a connection to ancient ways.  This book is not a Lenten devotional but for some reason it feels that way to me.  Perhaps it is the author's liturgical sensibilities, his own habit of fasting and such.  But, no; I suspect I am led to list it here because it is about the humanity of Jesus, and as we ponder the journey to Jerusalem, we are hit squarely with Jesus' own anguish, pain, fear, disappointments, friendships, loss, and courage.  Russell Moore writes that this is "the best treatment of the humanity of our Lord Jesus that I've ever encountered."  The eternal Word of God has become a real man, a Jewish man in a small village community, no less.  How are we to understand this mystery, this essential truth of Jesus being fully God and also fully human?  Jesus is not, as one popular seminary text puts it, a "symbol" of God.  He is not an abstract idea, either.  Jesus was a real person.  This is the book to explore that. Edith Humphrey (of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary) after noting the author's "inimitable style" writes that this book "joins together critical awareness, theological fidelity, refreshing wit, and manifest devotion."  I appreciate critical awareness, theological fiedlity and refreshing wit.  And I need to get me some manifest devotion, don't you?   I've just started it and I'm hoping to be drawn more seriously to the person of Christ these next months as I ponder it slowly. Join me?

on the way to the c.gifOn The Way to the Cross: 40 Days with the Church Fathers  Tom Oden & Joel Elowsky with Cindy Crosby (IVP) $10.00  This books makes the claim that the early Christians knew all about our need for daily rhythms.  They created a structured prayer and devotional life that would allow God to speak to them.  As it says on the back cover, "This devotional offers help for those who want to find their spiritual rhythm on the way to the cross."  There are readings from the church fathers and mothers, excerpts to ponder, arranged with weekly themes and prayers, collects and Scriptures.  Oden has become quite a leader in this field---he is the director of the Center for Early African Christianity at Eastern University. Joel Elowsky has a PhD from Drew and now teaches at Concordia.  Midwifing the whole thing for IVP is Cindy Crosby who has published several books along these lines, including the Ancient Christian Devotional volumes.  This is a great way to become for familiar with the early church writers, and a perfect time to do so.  What a great little prayer book, and what an important resource, bringing these very ancient and thick teachings to us in readable, useful bits.  Highly recommended.

way words.gifWay Words: A Daily Itinerary for Lent John Indermark (Abingdon) $10.00  Do you perhaps know his good book on the prophets, or his eloquent one about fear?  His most recent was The Greatest of These (oddly, Christian love is a topic about which there aren't enough good books, so it is important!) Here, the popular UCC pastor offers us words for the way ("The Way" being the most ancient name for the church, appearing first in the book of Acts.)  We are people on a journey, of course; these are signposts along the way, reflections on concise phrases and sentences in the Bible that illuminate what it means to journey by faith.  Designed for Lent, this really is a set of studies on way words; words for the Way.  (I know you may be thinking the cover looks cheesy, as if it were self published.  Don't let that prevent you from trying this; Indermark really is a fine writer with great style, fine cadences, fun stories. You will appreciate his voice, even if not so much the accompanying fonts and design.)

reaching t e .gifReaching Toward Easter: Devotions for Lent  Derek Maul (Upper Room) $16.00 I always appreciate Upper Room books; they seem to have a gentle tone, lovely and artful covers, usually muted and soft, inviting readers to slow down and care about the pages in their hands.  This one is, though, a rather upbeat book, inviting us to prepare ourselves to "enter God's gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise" (Psalm 100:4.)  These daily readings are filled with hope, includes his own storytelling (the author is himself a journalist who sometimes writes columns for USA Today.) This moves us towards Easter and towards resurrection victory, slowly, carefully, but with engaging joy.  Although it is ideal for daily use, there is a leaders guide in the back making it a book that groups can use together.

A Place at.gifA Place at the Table: 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor Chris Seay (Baker) $13.99  While they don't market this as a Lenten resource it sure seems like a specific follow up to the spectacular and very popular radical critique of consumerism during Advent and Christmastime, The Advent Conspiracy.  That, as you may recall, was a DVD and study book that focused us on the ways of Jesus, the call to worship well, spend less, give more, and love all.  Well, if you've done that the last few years in your church (or, for that matter, if you were one of the many who bought Small Things with Great Love by Margot Starbuck from us last month, a great book that invited us to show compassion by reaching out to others who may be in need) you may be primed and eager to take next steps in this conspiracy to be less self-focused and more giving, more caring.  This is, after all, the Lenten rhythm described above---fasting, self-emptying, and then, in Christ, learning to love.  A Place at the Table is a fabulous book (and there is an optional DVD, too, that is amazingly well done, filmed in the deserts of the holy land.)

Interestingly, Lysa TerKeurst (author of the seriously spiritual diet book Made to Crave) wrote the forward, inviting us to consider what we most crave, what happens when we fast, how to desire the right things in the right way, God first.  If you or your group wants to explore more intentionally what it means to surrender to God, the sort of surrender that may lead to transformed living (especially in our relationship to those who don't have enough to eat or clean water to drink) then this honest study would be really worth considering.  Please visit www.chrisseay.net to see some of the supplemental free resources (and perhaps connect with others on this journey.)  Come on back, though, and order this from us---we have a huge stack of 'em.  Read these 40 short chapters. Eat and drink a bit less this season and share the money saved with those who have little.  And, enjoy doing it!   The six session video is filmed in colorful locations, from Ecuador to Haiti and some has Chris literally in the deserts of the Middle East, and the book is loaded with surprising lines, creative ideas, cool stories.   Check out his trailer, explaining a bit about what the 40 Day experiment is about.   Highly recommended.

lent for everyone.gifLent for Everyone Mark Year B: A Daily Devotional N.T. Wright  (Westminster/John Knox) $15.00. I know you know who Tom Wright is (although you may not know that he is visiting our store on Saturday, May 12th!)  We will be very, very upbeat that fine day (pray for good weather for us as we will need to use nearby parking lots.)  But here, we are joining with Wright in a fast-paced, passionate journey through Mark, following the lectionary readings,  using his own translations from the Greek, and reading a bit each day through Lent.  I think much of this is adapted from Mark for Everyone, but it is a very handy and useful Lenten devotional.  In previous BookNotes Lent lists from other years, by the way, I've raved about other Wright resources for this season.  See my earlier brief descriptions of the brilliant Reflecting the Glory: Meditations for Living Christ's Life in the World (Augsburg; $14.99) and Christians at the Cross: Finding Hope in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus (Word Among Us Press; $10.95)  The first is a bit more dense, the second more brief.  All three of these are great.

Call Him.gifLent 2012: Call Him Savior John Gooch (Abingdon Press) $9.00 This is the one offered this year in the annual "Scriptures for the Church Seasons."  (Abingdon does a popular lectionary-based Advent one each year as well.)  This is designed for small groups or adult ed classes, perfect for a weekly Lenten study.  There are seven lessons, all based on the Revised Common Lectionary texts for Lent, offer a good look at the Scriptures, plenty of cross references to learn the background and context of these BIblical passages, loaded with good study questions.  There is a leaders/teachers guide, available as well.

final words.gifFinal Words From the Cross Adam Hamilton (Abingdon) $14.99  Do you know the 24 Hours That Changed the World by Adam Hamilton that was such a huge best-seller last year? (And, again, this year, in fact!)   It has several age-appropriate workbooks (for children, for youth, for adults), a great book to read, a seven session DVD to watch together, week-by-week.  There is a small pocket sized devotional, too.  Some folks did this as a small group and a few congregations did the whole big thing--everybody in on it.  People loved it!  

As you may guess, although we are happy to continue to sell the 24 Hours That Changed resources, the energetic United Methodist mega-church leader released this year a follow up to that and it looks very good as well.  Final Words is obviously a series based on the last words of Christ on the cross.  Again, there are children and teen curriculum pieces to go with it and a very professionally produced DVD. ($39.99.)   Dr. Hamilton is fairly evangelical in tone, a great communicator, even as he is informed by good scholarship and a pretty balanced approach.  He knows how to teach in inspiring ways about what it all means.  He's at a slick mega-church, of course, but you really shouldn't hold that against him as he is doing very fine work, and his resources are really well received by all sorts of congregations. 

Still.jpgStill: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis Lauren Winner (HarperOne) $24.99  I list this here as a Lenten resource as I know that many of us don't use simple day by day devotionals and may want a very special, quiet book to read through these winter months.  The sub-title's use of the word "mid" is significant here as Lauren throughout this stunning memoir reminds us that she is in the middle.  No longer a new Christian (her faith journey was eloquently written and wildly received a decade ago) and no longer quite where she once was theologically, she is neither here nor there, perhaps.  A week before the start of her doomed marriage, her mother died.  She was on the circuit speaking and signing books, writing, writing, writing, traveling, increasingly ill at ease, depressed.

This "dark night of the soul" narrative is hard to put down, even if you haven't read her earlier work, and even if you haven't gone through a period of sensing God's absence.  If, like us, you have read her books, and feel that you know a bit of her life, you will be riveted, sad and yet glad that she has taken up her pen again, crafting honest sentences that somehow touch our hearts in very deep (and, at times, entertaining) ways. Phyllis Tickle observes that "There is a raw openness to Lauren Winner's writing that is as breathtaking as it is rugged and beautiful."  Sara Miles says she "lifts up doubt and absence with enough honesty to reveal the unfinished edges, and the radiance, of faith itself."  Yes, it is a painful story in some ways, but also a helpful one.  Maybe helpful for you as you find yourself "stumbling upward."

By the way, my instinct that Still could be read fruitfully as a Lenten reflection was confirmed when I just realized that the publisher has created for it a daily reading guide to use during Lent.  Download it for free, here. 

Would you (or anybody you know) like a few more suggestions from previous Lenten BookNotes?  I found them easily by using the search engine box at the website.  Visit here, here, and here.  Assuming they are still available, we'll offer the 20% BookNotes discount on these items, as well.


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February 14, 2012

A few more reflective books for Lent

Thanks to those who ordered some of the Lenten books I highlighted in the last post, or those who followed the links to some of the older Lent lists.  A few of those books are very, very nice.  Glad you are using them.

Yet, I want to ponder more, perhaps even help you prepare for Ash Wednesday and the whole lengthy season of Lent, my naming some other books that have been spotted as I've worked in the shop lately. I'm spending hours and hours (and hours) in our basement overstock area, sorting and pulling and packing for the upcoming Jubilee event, so I'm seeing lots of titles, handling them, wondering if I should take them there, or feature them in the store, or stack 'em for another event we're doing in March.  Some of this has been quiet and meditative, and I've been thinking about books that people might like to be reminded of here as we move towards Lent.

And so, a few that just seemed right to name.  All are on sale.  See what you think.

TP of Gospel.gifThe Transforming Power of the Gospel  Jerry Bridges (NavPress) $16.99  I read Bridges' powerful collection of short studies on holiness years ago and became of fan of his no-nonsense, straight-up Christian teaching.  Like some modern day Puritan with a heart for those who need clear explication, Bridges has given us solid book after book on the how the good news is good, even for our befuddled lives.  That is, salvation isn't just a free ticket to everlasting life, but it is a power--if we preach it to ourselves as Luther commended--to help us grow.  This "gospel centered" approach is so very helpful and this new one explores the biblical meaning of grace, how Jesus' work applies in justification and adoption, why basic spiritual disciplines are useful for growth, and how the Holy Spirit works in our lives for "progressive sanctification."  I will be the first to say that this particular way to teach Christian growth with this particular attention to the cross and the complete work of Christ, is only part of what the breadth of God's Kingdom includes.  But this is foundational, and way too few folks have this material deep in their bones.  I commend it to you.

free of charge.gifFree of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace  Miroslav Volf (Zondervan) $12.99  You may know that we got to sell books for Volf earlier this year, so we now not only appreciate his books and recognize his importance as a writer and theological leader, but we are enthused about him.  We get it.  This book is just wonderful.  How do we understand grace in a culture where we vote people off the island, where there is "no such thing as a free lunch" where every person has to watch their back because, sooner or later, Trump is going to get in your face and say "Your fired!"?  Well, the gospel undoes all that, it is revolutionary, and in this graceless culture, being forgiven, and learning to forgive, is laden with implications.  Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams says of it "I cannot remember having read a better account of what it means to say that Jesus suffered in our place."  Wow.

be not afra.gifBe Not Afraid: Facing Fear With Faith  Samuel Wells (Brazos) $17.99  I have much anxiety these days, and was struck---in a chapter in the new Lauren Winner memoir Still--how she "gave up anxiety for Lent" one year.  This book invites us to "look deep into the questions of your life and deep into the heart of God."  We will discover that there is no need to be afraid.  Wells is a powerhouse of a preacher (he is the dean of the chapel and professor of ethics at Duke University.)  Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove says that this is "delivered with the thoughtfulness of C.S. Lewis and the authenticity of Billy Graham."  This is exceptionally timely, given our place in history, and it's blend of storytelling, Biblical interpretation and theological reflection makes it a prefect book to mull over, to read and re-read, to perhaps journal about.  Are you in a small group?  It would be great to talk over each sermon, struggling together with the messages so beautifully given, here.  

Enemies with Smiley.jpgEnemies with Smiling Faces: Defeating the Subtle Threats That Endanger Christians  Donald Posterski (IVP) $12.00  I've never warmed up to this cover --the smiley faces, you know.  But that is the point.  I've read a few of these chapters a couple of times, and they are rewarding with every take.  What an important discipline during this season, to explore how things we may take for granted by be subtly eroding our faith and faithfulness.  Some of the dangers, this Canadian professor and Christian leader tells us, come in the form of popular Christian concepts that are not sound.  Such as a "quick fix faith" a "feeling only" faith.  We can get caught up in what he calls "spiritual superiority."  Of course there is shallow character development from self-reliance, affluenza, or a privatized faith.  Not only does he name these enemies of our soul, he has in about the last third of the book remarkable strategies for dealing with these pressures; as a staff with World Vision, Posterski knows well stuff about the globalized economy, religious pluralism and such.  His advise is not shallow and it is not cheap.  He calls us to be more willing to be critical of our culture, to stand firm in our public lives, and to be attentive to self care, soul care, even what he calls "social care."  This is an excellent, thoughtful book, which is more needed now then when it came out a few years ago.

spiritual r in c.gifSpiritual Rhythms in Community: Being Together in the Presence of God  Keith Meyer (IVP-formatio) $15.00 More than a year or so ago I raved about Meyer's book Whole Life Transformation: Becoming the Change Your Church Needs which told the story of Meyer's burn out while pastoring a very large, quite successful congregation.  As you may guess, he discovered historic spiritual disciplines, learned some new ways to pray, set boundaries and priorities and became more attentive to contemplative spirituality.  It was a great book, but this looks to be even better, and it is one a topic no less urgent: how to life our life with God as a community.  This seems to work well the rhythm idea, and invites us to life-giving patterns in our days and weeks.  He draws on Jesus, in fact, and with pastoral storytelling, helps us see how to be formed by God's transforming Spirit, but, more, how to see God work in our congregations and groups.  There are spiritual practices here designed for groups to experience together,  some movies to watch or things to do, excellent meditations on the Psalms and group discussion questions.   Mindy Caliguire calls him a "visionary practitioner."  Nice.

being good.jpgBeing Good: Christian Virtues for Everyday Life  edited by Michael Austin & Douglas Geivett (Eerdmans) $26.00  You may be hearing more about this this spring as it seems to be one of the big books from this prestigious publisher for this publishing season.  Dallas Willard says it offers "outstanding contributions by frontline Christian thinkers and scholars" and is "a major contribution to the intellectual and spiritual needs of our time.  There are eleven serous chapters, and each seem to be very nicely written, on different aspects of living a virtuous lifestyle. Specifically, they explore faith, open-mindedness, wisdom, zeal, hope, contentment, courage, love, compassion, forgiveness, and humility.  There are discussion questions, too, to ponder or to use with a small group.  Austin is a professor of philosophy and ethics at Eastern Kentucky University and Geivett is a philosophy prof at Biola.  At 280+ pages, this is a very nice book.

winter light.gifWinter Light: A Christians Search for Humility  Bruce Ray Smith (Kalos Press) $12.95  I have mentioned this before, but it just seemed appropriate to highlight again.  I'm so drawn to this, having spent wonderful time ruminating on the poetic entries, praying through this gentleman's lines, reflecting on his good wintry effort to learn humility.  Smith is a former literature prof, so he cites British poets and other fine authors, from Herbert to Milosz.  He writes his journal entries with a fine cadence, never too heavy.  He is a mature Christian,  it seems, as he briefly tells of his own reading of authors as diverse as Fenelon and Edwards and Heschel it seems, as he knows the places in his own heart where he must allow God to chisel him away, to form and shape him.  He wants more of God, he wants his heart to be right, his attitude to be reformed.  Is it your own heart's desire this season to allow God to mold you?  Do you sometimes feel you may need some reminders about character, about humility, but not a whopping self help book?  Would you like a finely-crafted set of short devotional-like entries, as you look over the shoulder of a good guide to the human condition? I'd recommend this short book, especially as a Lenten resource.

l into f.gifLiving into Focus: Choosing What Matters in an Age of Distraction  Arthur Boers (Brazos) $17.99  I have not started this yet at all, but have been anticipating it since I was in an on-line focus group (no pun intended) about the cover.  See how it starts blurry, and moves into focus?  Well, here is what I do know: I have read three or four other books by this Mennonite author (his book on the Lord's Prayer is excellent, as is a book he did on hiking the El Camino trail.)  I can easily commend him to you, knowing he is meaty, helpful, and a good writer.  I also know this: Eugene Peterson wrote the foreword, and it is vintage, good stuff.  Gene ends with this comment,

Most of us know far more about the Christian faith than we manage to live.  There is no lack of words in the Christian community these days regarding spiritual formation finding ways to think adequately about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and receiving all the operations of the Trinity.  Arthur Boers takes all this a step further.  He takes what we know into our neighborhoods and backyards, our homes and our workplaces.  He then helps us get it all into our bones and muscles, our nerve endings and synapse as we drive our cars, use our computers, work our gardens, cook our meals, and eat together.
Peterson notes that this good book is a bit of an antidote to the way modern technology is impoverishing our way of life. Of course, Pastor Pete doesn't just mean that we use email or drive fancy cars, he means the whole mindset of quick fixes and technique, of data rather than wisdom.

Peterson is perfect for this foreword and it may be that he was a connecting point between Boers and his project.  Boers, you see, is drawing considerable on an idea in a book by a Montana Catholic philosopher, Albert Borgman, who Peterson knows well.  Borgman has written about "focal practices" and invites us to rethink the ways we see and do life in our technologically complex American culture.  It seems that Boers, the Mennonite author and pastor, is developing a spirituality in light of Borgman.  In other words, he ends up a lot like Eugene Peterson.  He doesn't see faith as primarily internal or otherworldly, but a way of being in the world.  We can use Borgman's "focal" ways to help us discern God's presence.  The endorsements on the back of this are something --from Wendell Berry scholar Norman Wirzba to UCC pastor Lillian Daniel, from Baptist pacifist Lee Camp to, yes, Professor Borgman himself, who writes, with a lovely allusion to his own theory, and Boers use of it, "It's one thing to clear a piece of land, move rocks, rake the soil, and protect it with a fence. It's another to bring it to life with berry-bearing bushes, exuberant gardens, vigorous vegetables and many-colored flowers.  It's that second thing that Arthur Boers has done; he's taken a theory and made it fruitful."   We are living in a culture of distraction.  Lent might be a time to "pay attention."  I think this will help us focus on what really matters.  

b-s-h.gifBrokenness / Surrender / Holiness  Nancy Leigh DeMoss (Moody Press) $19.99 You may  know Nancy DeMoss's radio show "Revive Our Hearts."  Several years ago she released three small paperbacks, with the three titles shown above.  This is a one-volume hardback which collects all three small books into one big one.  Do you need a fresh encounter with God?  Can you imagine deep repentance?  Do you struggle with secret sin---surrender, she says, isn't waving a white flag saying "I give up" but it means "victory at last."  I like that.  Of course, Lent is a time to pursue holiness and her call here to purity and holiness will set your heart on fire.  We have each of these in smaller paperbacks on this one hardback.  She is a solid evangelical Bible teacher and touches the hearts of many.  I wanted you to know we have her books, and invite you to consider them during this time of year.

Practice of P I.gifThe Practice of Prophetic Imagination: Preaching an Emancipating Word  Walter Brueggemann (Fortress) $25.00  If I could count on one hand my favorite people to list to, I'd have to say old Walt is up there.  His books have been a consternation and a blessing to me, and his messages have perplexed and inspired me.  I've read The Prophetic Imagination three entire times, and have dipped in to find quotes or useful pages on countless other occasions. Although it is not simple, many people mark a new understanding of the Scriptures, of their faith, of the calling of the church, by when they first read -- or first began to get --The Prophetic Imagination.  I devoured his Hopeful Imagination as well, another extraordinary book, on the post-exilic prophets, mostly.  Now comes another one of the several books Brueggemann has done on preaching.  For him, preaching has to do with nurturing a prophetic imagination, and it is done by drawing on--hosting, as he sometimes says--the complexity and tensions and poetic power of the Holy Scriptures.  So, here ya go: a book about how to preach, in a way, a long-awaited follow up to The Prophetic Imagination and the Hopeful Imagination.    Can we imagine that Yahweh really is an effective agent in the world?  Is the triune God a God of emancipation?   What do we say to help people find themselves in God's story given the "contestation of narratives" in our age?  Get chapter four, which is called "A Lingering Place of Relinquishment" if you want a Lenten reflection.  Of, in Easter energy, perhaps, check out chapter five: "The Burst of Newness amid Waiting."  This is weighty, thick, full of what can only be called Brueggemann-esque vocabulary, rhetoric, cadences and passion.

sign o the c.gifThe Sign of the Cross: The Gesture, the Mystery, the History  Andreas Andreopoulos (Paraclete) $16.99  I have a retired friend who has been in ministry for a lifetime and he told me this was his favorite book of all the books he read last year.  Did you know that the sign of the cross is perhaps the earliest recorded Christian symbol, the earliest ritual practiced within the Body of Christ?  This is a fascinating book with lots of historical detail blended with a reverential invitation to think about what the crossing of oneself means.  I found myself wanting to be united with other believers in other times and places and found myself enjoying the bodily habit of doing this.  Yet, I felt like it was drawing attention to myself; I'm a Presbyterian, for crying out loud, and we don't do that custom.  Yet this goes back to the earliest decades of the first disciples of the apostles.  What a lovely little book, both informative and inspiring.


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February 21, 2012

Author Margot Starbuck at Living Word Community Church sponsored by Hearts & Minds THIS FRIDAY Feb. 24th @ 7:00 PM

Sometimes one reads a book and loves it for its content; it teaches good stuff.  

Sometimes one reads a book and loves it for its style; the writing just grabs you.

And sometimes, happily, one discovers an author with helpful content and an artful style, whose books offer a wonderful confluence of vision and voice, of content and character.

And then, sometimes, you find out that that person is, well, a bore.  Or at least a boring presenter.  Yep, it happens.  Maybe that is why they write, since they can't speak in public worth a darn.

But, sometimes---cue a few bars of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus right about now---there are those authors who are truly wise and insightful AND fine authors who are really good at their writerly craft, AND who are also great speakers, fun to be with, who can tell their story as well as they can pen it.  They've got the whole thing going on.

Margot Starbuck, I suggest to you, is that kind of a writer/speaker/person.


starbuck reading.jpgWe are so pleased that Margot is doing a reading from her great new book, Small Things with Great Love: Adventures in Loving Your Neighbor (published by the provocative Likewise imprint of InterVarsity Press) THIS FRIDAY NIGHT, February 24th, at an event sponsored by yours truly, Hearts & Minds of Dallastown.  It will be held over at Living Word Community Church, a thriving congregation near us which allows us to use their cool Coffee Bar and Art Gallery from time to time.  We really value their partnership with us.  We are delighted to invite you to listen to Margot sometime shortly after 7:00 in their very nice space.

You can get directions here.  The address of Living Word is 2530 Cape Horn Road (which is Route 24) outside of Red Lion, PA.  It's really not far from our shop, just a bit past Windsor Commons.

I think I'm going to interview her a bit, since I want to prompt her---although I have a hunch it won't take much prompting (for some authors you nearly need a cattle prod)---to tell us a bit about herself, her vocation as a writer, how she came to write her previous books.

Of course we'll have all three for sale and she will be autographing them.

The Girl in the Orange Dress: Searching for a Father Who Does Not Fail

I raved about this, her first book, at BookNotes when it first came out.  Beth and I were really, truly movedgirl in orange.gif by it and struck by its insight and how very well-written it was.  It's a poignant and entertaining memoir of Starbuck's journey trying (among other things) to relate to the image of God as father given that the fathers in her life were less than fully faithful. (She was adopted and there is a bit of a sub-story about her trying to find her birth father that, uh, doesn't go so well.) The Girl in the Orange Dress tells the tale of Starbuck's college years, her short term mission trips and passion for God's Kingdom, her call to Princeton Seminary, her coping with physical pain and depression as she seeks to serve God's people as a Presbyterian pastor. (And a human-scale, wise-cracking one, at that.) It is a marvelous book and we can't wait to hear how she summarizes it, and what it was like being so honest about the ups and downs, the foibles and graces of her own life.

Unsqueezed: Springing Free from Skinny Jeans, Nose Jobs, Highlights and Stilettos
Less than a year after Ms Starbuck's first wonderful book was released, another one cameunsq.gif out, a book we enthusiastically awarded as one of the Best Books of the Year in 2010.  Unsqueezed, again, wades through some pretty hefty hoo-hoo (given the way sex and beauty and gender roles are so fraught with terrible distortion and the cause of great confusion these days.)  And, as the subtitle suggests, it is---yes, it is--fun and clever and really, really interesting.  It is written for women, but it seems to me that men could really benefit from listening in to this candid conversation among their sisters.  It won't be awkward (I hope) but I want to ask her a bit about this body image stuff, about what our bodies are for, really, and what she can report about her ministry among young gals these days.  I'm interested in how to bring critique to the exploitation of women by the fashion and cosmetics industry without, well, without throwing the baby out with the bath-water.  She has a lot to say on this, and we'll try to get her going.

Small Things with Great Love: Adventures in Loving Your Neighbor
Then, we'll get to what might be considered the heart of the evening, her reading a bit from her new book.  Margot has beensmall things small cover.jpg convicted in her own discipleship that followers of Jesus simply must be more intentional about reaching out to the needy, offering service and solidarity, care and kindness, to those who are hurting, oppressed, impoverished in one way or another.  She is amazingly good about showing us how we can take baby steps to do this and she is thoughtful about not being haughty about our "helping" others.  Her vision of mutuality is profound. Her joy in inviting us to this great "adventure" is palpable.  This book is a treat, with a very creative writing device (which you'll discover soon enough) and we can't wait to have Margot tell us about it all.  We reviewed this at great length back before Christmas and then named it as one of the Best Books of 2011.  And we have her coming here!   Is it wrong to boast a bit?  Yippeee.

Won't you join us Friday night?

In fact, won't you help spread this news around a bit?  Anybody who is within a few hours from the greater York area should be encouraged to come. There will be free coffee, some light refreshments, maybe a bit of tomfoolery, and an opportunity to meet one of those gifted people who can write well, present well, share heavy content and get us feeling happy about the whole crazy thing -- for God's sake.  This is going to be a wonderful night.

We have a facebook events page, too, that maybe you could use to help invite your friends.

If you are farther away (as I realize most BookNotes readers are) please pray for us.  We want this to be well attended and we want her books to touch lives.  We are (to be honest) pretty drained from our big role in the Jubilee conference last weekend.  We need God to lead the way.  I wouldn't be surprised if Margot said the same thing.  We'd be glad for your prayers.

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

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February 23, 2012

Three take-away points from the great Jubilee 2012 conference (and a bunch of books on sale, and a free book offer.)

jubilee2012logo.jpgIt has been my custom to share a rather long post this time each year, reflecting on our role at the annual Jubilee conference, sponsored by the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO) and filling you in a bit on the books that sold there.  CCO is the campus ministry organization for whom we regularly sell books, that Beth and I worked for the late 70s, being with Penn State students in McKeesport, PA. Later, I served CCO staff out of their Pittsburgh-based headquarters. In those years I developed curriculum on teaching Christian worldview, relating faith and college scholarship, and did a bit of peace and justice education, including stuff that was perhaps more controversial in those years than I want to recall. I'd like to think that to this day at least a little bit of the CCO's vision---seen most obviously in the big Jubilee event---was influenced by those years when some of us helped set the direction and ethos of the CCO as a culturally-engaged, reformational, institutionally-savvy, evangelistic and disciple-making organization attuned to the needs and issues of collegiates in the modern university. 

Many great CCO leaders have come and gone over the years and tons of extraordinary staffBB in brown shirt talking at Jubilee 12.jpg have touched upwards towards a million students since their humble beginnings at a few Pittsburgh-based schools, so my own role isn't large.  But I have been given the opportunity to teach a lot of classes, speak at a lot of campuses, helped consult with Jubilee committees over the years and sold a boatload of books in the last decades, so we are (how to say this?) humbly glad to see the CCOs Jubilee vision continue to be articulated and lived with integrity so consistently over the years.  CCO does excellent work partnering with churches and colleges and the Jubilee event bears witness to their slogan "transforming college students to transform the world."  Beth and I and our store staff are honored to get to play a small role in it.  It is the coolest thing we do all year!  Thanks be to God and thanks to the CCO.

I know most of our BookNotes readers aren't directly involved in young adult ministry or college work.  But I hope our report is interesting to you and that it causes you to ponder a bit about your own context of ministry and discipleship. Heck, maybe you know some outward-looking congregation that is near a college that might want to partner with the CCO in reaching out to local students.  Or maybe you might want to put together some smaller sort of Jubilee- type conference in your community. (Remember, a year ago at BookNotes, I mentioned a nearby local church that did a conference on work?)  Maybe you want to use some of the books I'm about to tell you about in your own small group or adult Sunday school class.  Near Pittsburgh or not, involved in campus work or not, if you share our passion about books that provide a robust theology for a vibrant, church-based Christian lifestyle, which creates signposts for the coming Kingdom of God "on Earth as it is in Heaven" across all of life and culture, than this stuff should excite you.  I hope!

I won't repeat all that's been said on facebook and twitter and in comments under the many pictures that have been appearing at the Jubilee Facebook page this week, but I must congratulate Chris Carson & Sarah Winkler, the best Jubilee team since Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, since Batman and Robin.  And that tuxedoed duo of emcees Melleby & Bindewald deserve much applause, despite their reee-dicc-u-lus  jokes about me, using the Chuck Norris internet meme.  I didn't get half of what they were doing at first, but realized it was pretty funny.  To see my dumb pacifist face photo-shopped onto the muscular bod and ripped abs of the powerhouse Mr. Norris with his guns blazing and that big American flag, well, let's just say that it literally took my breath away.  Convincing almost 3000 folks to listen carefully to my mature cajoling about buying good books in the aftermath of that stunt was daunting, to say the least.  Still, it was the most fun I've had on stage in quite a long time. (Although I'll never forget the time a few years ago when Calgaro had me do the manic PowerPoint show known as Pechakucha.)

And so, to the chase: three things about Jubilee 2012 that are important for us all to consider, complete with my running commentary about books that were sold at Jubilee or that relate to these take-away points.  The Spirit is moving in these ways, I believe, and we want to offer these resources with deep sincerity and hope.  You know there is a link to our bookstore's order form is at the end. 

If you'll hang in there with me, we'll list a handful of others that sold well, or should have sold well and didn't, or that we talked about, or whose authors were there or that we just want to offer at this deep discounted price. All books mentioned are 30% off, for less than one week only, and while supplies last.  

And, we have a free book offer, too.  Free. Book. Offer. We don't call it Jubilee for nothing...


1. The Biblical narrative of creation-fall-redemption-restoration gives us the best account of the story we find ourselves in and shapes our worldview in generative, fruitful ways.

The Biblical narrative of a fully good creation invaded by profound sin and curse but being fully redeemed and restored by the God of faithful covenant explains more and carries more useful freight than most of us realize.  Albert Wolter's Creation Regained: Biblical Basis for acreation regained.gif Reformational Worldview (Eerdmans; $14.00) explores the significance of the full-orbed realities of creation-fall-redemption-restoration for our worldview and has been a CCO fav for years. This book really does explain what is unique and helpful about what he calls a neo-Calvinist approach, noting that while nearly every Christian tradition holds to some similar formulation, his Dutch Calvinist tradition takes the implications of these doctrines perhaps more generously and broadly and draws more implications from them than most other denominational traditions.  His famous chapter on "structure and direction" is essential reading, I think, to appreciate the best proposals of the Jubilee vision, and is a good tool to help us explore what is creationally good about something (money, sex, sports, politics, art, race) and what is misdirected and dysfunctional. Any social reformer needs to know what is good and what is bad, what should be changed and what should remain, in her arena of influence and no one books lays a foundation for helping us with that cultural discernment as does Creation Regained.  A few other speakers at Jubilee agreed, since it was a book that was cited often. 

This unfolding story of cross-bought cosmic redemption has been the animating vision of the conference since the late philosopher Pete Steen taught those of us who were running it in the mid to late 1970s about Abraham Kuyper 's vision of the Lordship of Christ over all of culture and how to read the Bible faithfully to find it as a worldview-shaping drama.  I smiled when I heard a young lady at the conference refer to herself as a Kuyperian.  The old Dutch Prime Minister and theologian was well honored by her saying that.

And, it was wonderful to have the Acton Institute there at Jubilee with a banner about theirwisdom & wonder_front.jpg new translation of Kuyper on common grace, a book we featured called Wisdom and Wonder: Common Grace in Science and Art (Christian's Library Press; $14.99)  Francis Schaeffer, who some of you may know, was important to the CCO in its early years, and he gleaned some of this Kuyper narrative worldview stuff from a Dutch art historian named Hans Rookmaaker, who himself learned it from a philosopher named J. P. A. Mekkes, who had been a student of the Free University of Amsterdam's heavyweight Herman Dooyeweerd.  Mekkes and Rookmaaker met in a POW camp during the Nazi occupation of Holland, and CCO and Jubilee stand, if a bit indirectly, in this grand tradition of Christ's clear call over all of life and culture, as Kuyper taught.  We not only had a few Francis Schaeffer books at Jubilee, but a Rookmaaker book on the arts, and a thin but dense philosophical treatise by Mekkes published by Dordt College Press.  The best book on Dooyeweerd is the highly-acclaimed one by Jonathan Chaplin, Herman Dooyeweerd: Christian Philosopher of State and Civil Society (University of Notre Dame Press; $68.00.)  This is the precise intellectual movement that so influenced Al Wolters and which gives Creation Regained its vision and heft.  Who knew that Jubilee existed as it does because God in His mercy had Mekkes tell Rookmaaker about Dooyeweerd.  Years later, Shaeffer spoke at Grove City College and the next night at Geneva College, both in Western Pennsylvania.  Young CCO workers were in those crowds and they learned to appreciate this worldview stuff from Pete Steen who was acquainted with the work of each of these scholar-activists.

!111111.gifI am glad that so many these days invite us to think in terms of story and storied theology---think Donald Miller, for one example.  I promoted A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story (Nelson; $15.99) which I adore, not least because Jubilee speaker and friend Bob Goff plays a role in it.)  I even like a little, inexpensive book by John Eldredge called Epic: The Story God is Telling (Nelson; $2.99) that reminds us that life unfolds like a drama, a play, and we get to take up our role in the epic adventure of it all.  The second in the fascinating trio of novels by Brian McLaren is called The Story We Find Ourselves In (Jossey-Bass; $14.99) and brings together these themes that our life is a story and that the Bible is best understood as a story God has and is telling.  The respected work of missiologist Leslie Newbigin has helped us think of the role of narrative in theology and thanks to the Nazarene Barefoot Ministries his little gem of radio talks, showing simply how the Bible is one continues story, is now reprinted. It is called A Walk Through the Bible ($12.99) and is wonderful.  Do you know about the recent, big Zondervan project inviting folks to read through the whole Bible by using their helpful version called The Story: The Bible as One Continuing Story ofstory of god sou.gif God and His People ($19.99; there are other pieces, too---youth versions, DVD curriculum, etc. which we happily promote. Do check out that link as it's pretty spiffy.)  We awarded last year as a best book of 2011 one of the more creative Bible overviews published these days The Story of God, the Story of Us: Getting Lost and Found in the Bible by Sean Gladding (IVP; $17.00; the fabulous DVD sells for $30.00.) Or, thinking of story and narrative, think of N. T. Wright, who insists that the even the didactic teaching of New Testament letters like Romans are to be understand best within their narrative context, the story that was going on in those places in first century Judaism. Think of political theologians like Stanley Hauerwas that talk about narrative theology. (I'm showing off, but you should know the important name of Thomist philosopher Alister MacIntyre who has written astutely about this topic.) 

Or, just think of how folks so resonate with memoir these days, faith journeys creatively told by writers like Anne Lamott, Lauren Winner, Barbara Brown Taylor, Margot Starbuck, Frederick Buechner.  Narrative, story, worldview, journey.  We are all shaped by a story and one of the biggest questions of life may be which story?

Yet, to say we are shaped by story isn't all that needs saying.  Even some who talk about the unfolding drama of the Bible fail to realize how the main chapters of that story should inform our own sense of things.  Few see fully the way in which the narrative of the Bible with its high-points of creation-fall-redemption-restoration can form the fundamental contours of our story, and few tease out the implications of it all the way Al Wolter's does in Creation Regained.  Wolter's taught this reformational vision, a Christ-centered hermeneutic the see Christ of redeemer of the creation and the King of a new creation breaking now into history,  to CCO staff decades ago and Jubilee 2012, with its four main sections, each exploring these four chapters of the Story, made that explicit as never before.  It was a very, very good reminder, and thrilling to have each of the main speakers explore these chapters of the story throughout the weekend.  From James Smith Friday night on the implications of living in a created cosmos to Richard Mouw Sunday morning holding out the hope of a restored city, the chief chapters of the meta-narrative were wonderfully told and the implications of these building blocks of our worldview were magnificently explored.

                                                                                                                 artwork: God's Story by David Arms
It is no wonder, then, that we sold out of Chris Brewer's wonderful art book Art That Tells the Story (The Gospel Through Shared Experience; $24.95.)  It is no wonder that one of the best sellersoutrageous idea.gif was Michael Witmer's book Heaven is a Place on Earth: Why All You Do Matters to God (Zondervan; $16.99.)  Specifically exploring this broad, storied view for college students, Don Opitz's book, co-written with Derek Melleby, was a hit: The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness: A Guide for Students (Brazos; $14.99.) Their short and playful chapter on worldviews---conflicting ones in the college textbooks and the coherent one from the Scriptures---and how these narratives/value systems/worldviews influence students is as succinct and clarifying and important as anything in any such book. 

 It is no wonder that we sold a bunch of Dr. Mouw's little Bible study, When the Kings Come Marching In: Isaiah and the New Jerusalem (Eerdmans; $15.00) that shows the Biblical hopes of new creation, including the (purified) cultural artifacts that will endure into our bodily existence in the (re)newed city of God.  It is certainly one of my favorite books and I can't describe easily its impact on the legacy of the CCO; it was used years ago for staff training and remains a vital resource for the development of a Biblical-informed view of culture, justice, and hope.  It is a book that reminds us of the final climax of the plot of the Scriptures. 

When the Kings.gifDr. Mouw's Sunday morning talk was so reasonable and clear, but yet--there is no doubt about this--it rocked the world(views) of many who were there.  Do we really believe that God's good news is so broadly good that "all things" will be restored to original goodness?  Yes, he did quip that Lady Gaga's work will take a bit more purifying than some, but do we really believe that the work of our human hands, our cultural artifacts and inventions, our art and our games, will be with us--transformed by healing fire-- through-out our urban life in eternity?  That there is some continuity between this world and the next?  That is the serious trajectory Mouw sees in his text from Isaiah and, as he often does, he ended with good preaching from Revelation 5 and then the new city stuff from Revelation 21 & 22.  This book is not difficult nor extensive, but it is more than fanciful speculation.  It offers a really eye-opening theology of culture, based on careful exegesis, showing why, well, why "everything matters."  For obviously understandable reasons, vans and buses from the hundreds of college represented at Jubilee had to get going after the event ended, so we sadly didn't get to sell as many of Mouw's books as we wished.  This little study, though, is a must-read.  We hope CCO staff will share it with their students if they have not yet, and that those want a bit of the happy Jubilee vibe might pick it up. 

Here is an address Mouw  gave at Houghton College a few years back and it is very, very good.  Give it a listen.  You'll love the line about the Border's sign called "over-sized religion."  It will help you worship Christ more properly and it is particularly relevant for those who are interested in culture, institutional life, social action, and public affairs.  He really gets this "creation-fall-redemption-restoration" picture of the Biblical message.
next c. gifDoes your church or fellowship group grapple with the implications of this "four chapter story" as Gabe Lyon nicely puts it in The Next Christians: How a New Generation is Restoring the Faith (Doubleday; $19.99)? Gabe's book was a hit not only because it captures the Jubilee vision in fresh language with tons of great stories, but we had them at a very special half off price (making it just $9.99.) The Next Christians--as much as any recent book, I'd say--shows the ways in which a vision of being restorers of broken culture inspires this rising generation of post-culture-wars young evangelicals. (We have some left at that 50% off price, too and we do recommend it highly!  It will come out next month in paperback, but here you can get the hardback cheaper than the paperback will be.)  We have a bunch, at least for now... 

In your faith community do you reflect on the meaning of creation care, talk about God's call to meaningful work, encourage the arts, work on good citizenship, discuss sex, engage popular culture?  Why or why not?  If you do, is it clear that these human and cultural task are to be "unpacked" (as James Smith put it) as creational entities, but that they also are battle grounds for spiritual warfare, too?  That is, do you realize how each and every zone of life is created good but now distorted, "contested" territory (as C.S. Lewis put it.)  That a normative unfolding of anything--from just approaches to family law to nuanced understandings of science or technology, from truly healing insights about health care to allusive views of the creative arts, ---may be different from what the world offers and may thereby be controversial?  As Smith said, we have to "occupy creation" and he meant, surely, that there is a counter-cultural edge to Christian principles and practices in this distorted and idolatrous world.  To make the case and to actually live out the implications that flow from our deepest convictions may (or so the Bible says) get us into trouble.  Occupy creation, indeed!

J. Mark Bertrand was there this year and he is quite funny and way, way smart.  He did two pretty serious workshops--herethinking wv.gif is a good novelist who has a series of well-crafted, intense crime fiction (Back on Murder and Patterns of Wounds [Bethany House; $14.99 each] with the third coming later this year)--but his first book is a must-read in my view.  It is called (Re)Thinking Worldview: Learning to Think, Live, and Speak in This World (Crossway; $16.99) and he takes the "worldview conversation" a step further down the path.  Check out his website for the book and see if there isn't something useful there, for you or for some you know.  Getting these at 30% off is a real deal and I think it would make a great small group study.  I never tire about hearing how this wholistic gospel story affects the ways and practices and ethics of daily life as we work and witness in our modern world.  Mark shows how worldview is not just about "thinking" but about living and speaking winsomely about the story we find ourselves in.  Sharp stuff, to be sure!  Yeah, I love reading worldview books -- especially these that are well written and move us towards appropriate cultural engagement--- so I guess I'm a bit odd.

But allow me to be candid here (we're among friends, right?) I am sometimes a bit perplexed that there aret.v..gif folks who like our mix of titles and topics here at Hearts & Minds, those who are nearly shocked how we tend to hold together more liberal and more conservative views, how we patch together in some sort of coherent vision the wide array of authors and denominational traditions that we do.   We heard it a hundred times at Jubilee --folks aren't used to seeing these sorts of books in a religious bookstore.  I'm really encouraged when customers write nice notes or ask questions as if they are piqued about where we are coming from. Some say that we have helped them re-think what a religious bookstore might be. Yet, most often, new friends don't really seem to want to understand what most drives us, they don't really seem to get the way our study of worldviews has helped us become who we are here at Hearts & Minds.  Many thoughtful friends still don't seem intrigued enough to want to ponder, as one writer puts it, the "metaphors we live by."  So, if I may be forthright, if you like Hearts & Minds, or, similarly, if you like Jubilee, you should read books like Al Wolter's Creation Regained, the equally important The Transforming Vision: Shaping a Christian Worldview by Brian Walsh & Richard Middleton (IVP; $16.00) or Mark Bertrand's more recent (Re)Thinking Worldview

Really understanding how the Biblical narrative shapes how we lean into life and gives us a way to imagine how life ought to be, giving us ways to evaluate the principalities and powers of our world, without becoming revolutionaries who just want to tear every thing down, simply necessitates pondering Wolters, Walsh & Middleton, Betrand and other similar books. If you've followed our store for long you may know that I'm particularly fond of Walsh's several books--all which emerge in one way or another from this first, important one he co-wrote with Richard Middleton. (Yes, it is true: N.T. Wright dedicated his first really big volume, The New Testament and the People of God, to Brian, and developed that whole first section about worldviews from Walsh's work in Transforming Vision and elsewhere. So even brainy world-class theological stars like Wright admit to a debt to Walsh, not to mention the work of Brian's wife, Syliva Keesmaat, with whom he wrote Colossians Remixed, another book we pushed a bit at Jubilee.)  If you love Jubilee or you like Hearts & Minds, consider get some of these worldviewy books, okay?  They are the genesis and frame of our efforts and you'll be richer for spending a season or so pondering this generative topic.

D t K.gifYou should know, too, that the person who has advanced a somewhat new understanding of worldviews and how they work (what some might call a more thick account) is philosopher James K.A. Smith who, as we've noted, rocked the house and fired us up Friday night at Jubilee this year. Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation (BakerAcademic; $21.99) is doubtlessly the most important book on this topic in decades and one simply cannot be conversant in the latest sorts of socio-theological conversations without knowing it.  There are two other massive volumes a-coming, making it eventually a trilogy, so you should man up (can women, "man up" -- I think so!) and just get it.  We've reviewed it here at BookNotes and many others (more important than me) have affirmed its significant merits. For instance, here is a review by Eric Miller, who was also a speaker at Jubilee this year.  It is very, very well done.  James, by the way, did one of the best Friday night talks in Jubilee history (and, uh, I have done one of those Friday night talks) and, despite being interrupted by a fire alarm and massive evacuation,he regained the group's attention an hour later and finished off his powerful explication of the implications of a thick doctrine of creation, pregnant with implications for how we embody our faith, how we think and know and relate and live and invite others into this grand, great story.  I think if you read some of this stuff and come to grasp it well, it will truly be a game-changer, as they say.  May it be so for the young adults gathered at Jubilee and may it be so for Hearts & Minds fans.

2.  The Biblical notion of vocation can fund a meaningful and transformative view of the role of work; such a vision for the dignity and influence of work must be more seriously explored in our faith communities.

Once one sees one's life as storied, and learns that the story about the goodness of creation and the seriousness of the fall and the realities of redemption and the hopes of restoration are the chief and formative influences of our understandings of everything, we will not only be wise about stuff, but we will be energized to live out that story---God is in Christ rescuing the planet and its cultures, artifacts, institutions.  We will, as so many Jubilee speakers noted, realize that "everything matters."  Yes. 

And one of the big things that matters is our sense of calling, our vocation, our work. I remain frustrated that so few people use our (admittedly less than attractive) "Books by Vocation" bibliography. (See my chapter in the collection of book reviews, Besides the Bible edited by Dan Gibson, John Pattison & Jordan Green (Biblica; $14.99) which is a review of Os Guinness' stellar book, The Call, to hear again my lament of how few people ever ask us about for books relating faith and work.) Too many people think that "discerning vocation" is for those who are trying to hear God's call to go into ministry.  God bless those who are going in to ministry, but what about those going in to chemistry?  Why do we celebrate the "sons and daughters" of the church that become pastors, but don't seem to give a tinkers damn about those going into dance or law or motorcycle repair?  And---okay, I'm on a rant, here, and will restrain myself with just one or two more sentences: why do we tend to honor work (when we do at all) by inviting Christians to just be respected, to be ethical, to be excellent, at work, as if the reform of institutions, or striving for creative influence, or the fighting of new battles and offering of new ideas aren't part of the big picture of being Christ's salt and light in the work-world?  Why, when we affirm labor at all in church, is it so typically uninspiring and not very robust? Where are the churches that create people like, say, Jeffrey Wigand, Erin Brockovich, Patch Adams or Blake Mycoskie?  Why at Jubilee do these young adults say "I've never heard this kind of stuff before?"  As a life-long churchman, I say it is to our shame, and I am sorry that young adults have to hear for the first time from some crazy conference in Pittsburgh that God cares about their major.   

Did you know that there is a pre-conference gathering each year for adults called Jubilee Professional where faith-based workers, entrepreneurs, artists, and leaders from the world of Pittsburgh corporations, start-ups, non-profits, and leadership consultancies gather to reflect on the same themes as the CCO student gathering?  Every town should be as fortunate as Pittsburgh, having an organization like Serving Leaders.  Everyone seriously interested in embodying a Kingdom vision in the warp and woof of a city's life, working for Spirit-directed social and institutional reform in the marketplace should put Jubilee Professional on their calendars for 2013.  Plan now to attend next year's one-day "Jubilee for grown ups" which I am sure you would find beneficial.  Thanks to the likes of Redeemer Presbyterian's Center for Faith and Work and their sharp director, Katherine Leary Alsdorf, for helping Pittsburgh's Serving Leaders pull off this kind of classy event.  Thanks to John Stahl-Wert, their inspiring servant leader, a good author himself, for caring about God's work in the world of corporations and galleries and service organizations.  And thanks to them all for inviting H&M to offer an annotated bibliography custom designed for their renewal in the workd-world gathering. (E-mail me for it if your interested and I'll gladly forward you a typed copy.)  My few moments on their stage, with their business and civic leaders, was a thrill; moments like that remind Beth and I of some of our more grandiose hopes and dreams for our bookish mission.   You go, Jubilee Pro!

kingdom calling.gifIt seems to me, then, that one of the great things that Jubilee 2012 offered, somewhat in tandem with Jubilee Professional, was the opportunity to hear Amy Sherman talk about her stellar new book, Kingdom Callings: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good (IVP; $16.00.)  Amy spoke at Jubilee Pro and addressed nearly a quarter of the Jubby kids as well.  As you may recall, we honored her with an award in our little "Best Books of 2011" list.  We implied, however, that her book's award was a tie, and it was: it was tied with another new book, Work Matters: Connecting Sundaywork matters.jpg Worship to Monday Work  by pastor Tom Nelson (Crossway; $15.99), another new excellent resource that explores a truly transformational view of vocation and calling into the work-world. One of the small things I like about Work Matters (besides its really helpful insight, its great clarity and zest) are the one or two-page sidebars, examples about good folks in Nelson's congregation who illustrate a good theology of work and who are doing notable "integration" work in their sphere of influence.  David Greusel, Hearts & Minds pal and Jubilee speaker, is one of those featured.  That he is an architect who designs baseball stadiums like the wonderful PNC Park is pretty cool. More importantly, his story in the book is a testimonial of God's work in his work-life.  Kudos to Rev. Nelson for writing in conversation with guys like Greusel. (And thanks to Greusel for coming to Jubilee to speak with undergrads and architect students!  What a gift for such students to converse with such a mentor.  Go here for an array of his essays in Comment magazine's archives.)

So I love the book by Nelson Work Matters, and commend it to you.  But Kingdom Callings, by Amy Sherman, is particularly apropos for this Jubilee take-away point that we are to serve God in our work and that that may mean doing more than just showing up and being morally good and professionally admirable, with a nice willingness to talk about faith.  Yes, "bloom where you are planted" is a major step in the right direction, but she pushes us a bit more.  Kingdom Callings is a visionary---dare I say audacious---book which holds up other models, other strategies, if you will, of how to be faithful in the work-world.  Ms Sherman offers four avenues or pathways, from the not-so-simple but basic "bloom where you're planted" because all good work matters to God, to pushing for change in one's industry to using skills learned at work pro bono to assist the poor and under-served, and more. This serious work is honestly a book that I've long waited for (and it is made all the more special by the beautifully written afterword by former Jubilee conference director, Steven Garber.)  Ms Sherman's operating thesis, which she explores in truly refreshing, bold ways, is drawn from Proverbs 11:10 that declares that when "the righteous prosper the city rejoices."  Is this really so? (I admit that I haven't pondered this verse before, and never heard a sermon on it.  Hmm.) So unchurched folks will be glad if your business (nonprofit/church/school/art gallery/cafe/counseling clinic/family/factory/little league team) is successful?  Really?  Well.

I think that there are reasons for the often-mentioned "resentment" harbored by folks about the rich and successful, and it isn't just the sin of envy, as social conservatives tend to glibly imply.  That is, when Wall Street (for instance) prospers but does so in ways that do not illustrate a profound commitment to the common good, it makes sense that folks feel resentful; it is understandable, I think to be uneasy about the success of our neighbors if their financial gain comes at the expense of norms and values that we know to be vital for the social fabric.  The Biblical alternative to this resentment, as Sherman carefully shows, is enterprise done for the common good; work that serves, that exists knowingly as an act of love of neighbor; those who watch as socially responsible enterprises prosper will be glad for their success, because they realize that it isn't ill-gotten and that their contribution to society has been just and good and well-intended.  Anyway, that's what that Proverb suggests.  Sherman inspires us to relate our faith and Biblical understandings to the work-world and to our callings as culture makers and then she ratchets up the challenge by pondering the implications of this Proverb.  Her subtitle is important: "vocational stewardship for the common good."m Are we relating faith and work in ways that are imaginative and helpful, ways that at the end of the day we can say that, through our work, we have loved our neighbors, we've made the world somehow a better place? Are we stewarding our vocations, leveraging our influences in ways that are just and help the cause of local flourishing?  Has your pastor asked you about that, ever?  Have you ever been invited to an adult education course suggesting that you have an obligation to earn your living in a way that is "for the common good"?  (If you are interested in this question of how the church does or doesn't help lay folks in these things, by the way, there is a brand new book that I have skimmed already called How the Church Fails Businesspeople (and what can be done about it) by John C. Knapp [Eerdmans; $15.00,] which I highly recommend.)

KC book32.jpg
I think every church should have a few of Amy Sherman's Kingdom Callings books around to inspire and challenge folks to live out  their (Kingdom) callings more audaciously, more creatively, even in generative ways that carry within them the possibility of truly serving the common good.  Pastors: is your city happy about the success of the business folk of your congregation?  Why or why not?  Do the social entrepreneurs and reformers and visionaries of your city feel supported by your church as they fight the good fight, day by day?  Why or why not?  And, not incidentally, do the poor of your neighborhood feel blessed by the success of your more middle class members?  Kingdom Callings: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good could help you think through how to cast a vision for ways your people could honor God more intentionally and witness to Christ's love more clearly by doing this missional thing with the work of their hands. Don't you long for something like that, for church members who are seriously engaged not climbing the corporate ladder for their own glory, or even so that they can give more to the church, but so that they can make a difference for the community?  I am not kidding: this is the Jubilee vision par excellence---relating faith and life, yes, bringing Christian principles to bear in the work-world and academy and marketplace, yes, but doing it in a way that brings service and goodness--virtuous human flourishing--to the social fabric and even to the needy and hurting.  Nobody combines this reformational worldview perspective with common good missional service like Jubilee, and nobody has explored this as seriously for callings and careers as has Ms Sherman.  Buy a couple of Kingdom Callings, please!  Here is Garber's afterward which you can read.  There is a link there, too, to a radio interview with Sherman from Pittsburgh's WORD FM.

3.  A third take-away idea from Jubilee is that disciple-making ministry must be relational as we network folks with helpful communities of growth and service.  Which includes realizing that reading is a spiritual discipline and that leaders must be life-long learners.

Jubilee is zany and fun and big and loud.  Even the kids get worn out, and we oldsters smacelephant.jpg the sides of heads after midnight when our ears are ringing.   Besides the big gatherings and the numerous break-out sessions (on engineering and education and race and art and politics and poverty and sex and so, so much more) there are oodles of  late-night options, from swing dancing to attending a screening of the new Blue Like Jazz movie with director Steve Taylor, to prayer meetings and impromptu jam sessions.  There were helpful booths from organizations like Compassion International and Toms Shoes,singing.jpg the Humane Society and Urbana.  There were several graduate schools represented and mission agencies and summer opportunities for students, from working in Christian camping to serving in urban missions to options for leadership development in places like the Ocean City Beach Project.  This is an event that works hard to network people, to dream big, to get kids thinking about their lives and their choices and their affiliations. 

Here is a question that frames the first part of this take-away: are you helping those whom you mentor (especially the young) to think about their whole lives with passion and purpose?  Of course we need to run Bible studies and help people learn the basics of Christian growth.  And we need to invite them into the bigger story of God.  But alongside the proclamation of this worldviewish c-f-r-r narrative and the centrality of thinking about work as a vocation and holy calling, the CCO and Jubilee models what I want to call missional intentionality.  I wonder how many pastors invite young adults to work at a summer camp, or suggest that they attend a conference, or network them with a discipleship opportunity, or introduce them to people who can help them on the next leg of their journey?  If you see a good article on facebook, do you share it with somebody who needs that information?  If you are invited to an event, do you think "Yes I can go" or "No, I can't go" or do you think of people you can tell, folks you should invite?  If you are spiritually guiding a younger believer, do you invite them to plan ways they can use their gifts in choosing a major, then invite them to think about short-term mission projects that use their talents and gifts? Do you help find for them opportunities to plug in to service organizations?  Just for one small instance of this relational ministry model, I wonder if congregational leaders follow up after somebody takes on a Compassion child, making sure the community celebrates this new relationship and obligation? (A number of students committed to supporting a child through Compassion International thanks to Shaun Grove's compelling invitation.)  I hope those who did not only are affirmed in their college fellowship groups but that their home churches are invited in to follow up on the story.

I am painfully aware that many pastors are overworked and some are underpaid.  Some have such large churches they may not be able to pastor people at all, really.  And we all know that many churches have toxic members who drain energy; there are complicated finances and hard community issues that demand time and attention, involvement in committees and such.  But I still think that a Jubilee take-away is that mentoring and guidance and relational ministry is where it's at.  Congregations must recapture a sense of disciple-making and spiritual direction if we are going to help ordinary folks align their lives with the purposes of God.  We must be vigilant to look for ways to network people with others in various professions, helping them find areas of expertise and opportunities of missional service. To see the way CCO staff encourage their students to consider the information at the organization's booths, or for instance, go to Peru this summer on a CCO-sponsored mission experience, or how they help their young students dream big dreams about their future is so rewarding to watch.  And we should be doing more of that in our ordinary congregations and disciple-making efforts, guiding others, helping folks think about their lives, offering upbeat counsel and support.  I think CCO staff do this as well as anybody I've ever seen, and it is great to be in the thick of this life-changing experience at Jubilee.

And, now, for the second part of this take away point---drum roll, please---the CCO and Jubileestudents at booktable J '12.jpg are right to do this by using books.  I'm tickled, of course, that as an Associate Staff of the CCO, I'm given such wonderful opportunities --- making book spiels at Jubilee, for instance.  But I'm not talking necessarily about about myself or my role, as glad as we are for it, but about their commitment to Christian learning. Our role at Jubilee is an indication of the CCOs vital insight that books have been used by God in the history of redemption (from the oldest of Bible times and throughout church history) to further God's Kingdom and to equip God's people for faithful service.

In this information age (or inventive age, as Doug Pagitt describes our era in a book by that title) most Christians are simply going to have to rethink some things, study some new stuff, bone up on their Bible and theology, and learn from the ways others are articulating our Christian callings.  It seems to me a mark of either shallowness or hubris to think you can live this Kingdom vision thing in a complicated world without being driven to serious study and learning (and prayer, too, for that matter.)  When I hear of Christian folks who don't read much I can only presume they are either nominal in their faith or prideful in their sense of their own knowledge.  Look, friends, this Jubilee vision, wide-as-life discipleship, in-the-world-but-not-of-it posture of culturally-reforming Christ-honoring, Kingdom callings is no simple matter.  Jamie Smith put it bluntly Friday night when he said it just might get you killed.  You can't do it alone, or on your hunches. 

So, surprise, surprise, I hope people buy books, form study groups, commit to re-consideringmind 4 G.jpg and re-learning things, entertaining new ideas, and move forward with new hope of transforming discipleship in fresh and faithful ways. Semper reformans, semper reformanda and all that, you know.

I rejoice that many congregations from many quarters are doing good, good stuff.  I really don't measure the lives of others by how many books they buy.  But it is true that these squares of paper and ink are, in fact, tools for our work, ammunition for the battle, bread for the journey.  If you need 'em, we got 'em.  If you don't need 'em, you may want to ask why that is.  CCO really gets this call to the reformation of thinking and the necessarily habit of Christian reading.  It has from its earliest days told their staff to read widely, to study deeply, and to use books as they disciple and mentor students. There was a CCO bookseller before me, and I trust there will be one after me. They know that readers become leaders. 

You Lost Me small.gifTo not promote reading as a spiritual discipline, I'm afraid, short-circuits the sustainability and longevity of young disciples. Just read David Kinnaman's You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving the Church (Baker; $17.99) if you don't believe that we are losing a generation of younger church kids because we don't engage their minds, offering resources to think about civic life, science and the like.  Students loved David at Jubilee, by the way, as he invited them to consider why so many of their peers walk away from church and faith and what they might do about it.  It just blows me away to consider that one of the truths uncovered in the research that David did (and that is explained in this book) is how many high school students going off to college express interest in science-related majors and how many of them report that their church (or youth group) has never once in their memory offered any affirmation of the sciences.  It's no wonder they drift from faith, if they don't realize that there are any number of ways to reconcile the alleged conflict between faith and science.  Students like David's books and more than a few stood amazed when they saw our large display of books on science, engineering, math and such.

So, CCO helps these students who are coming to realize that there is much Christian learning to do and that it is exciting to explore ideas in light of the gospel.  Many want to rise to the occasion when we tell them that the word disciple in the Bible means learner.

Life-long learners are needed, now more than ever.  Does your church foster an ethos of learning, of reading, of study?  Can your people explain what might be meant by having "the mind of Christ"?  Do they get excited when Romans 12:1-2 or 2 Timothy 2:15 comes around in the lectionary?  Books and reading matters for those committed to the Jubilee vision and for those who mentor others in Kingdom discipleship. 

jubilee  booktable.JPGJust as the apostle Paul ordered books near the end of his life (see 2 Timothy 4:13) CCO staff buy books for their students.  It was a joy watching some of them walk students around the book tables, asking us to help suggest a book for this or that major, this or that interest, this or that topic. How humbling to be invited into this face-to-face ministry!  Again, this is a huge take-away for me: I want to be more intentional about doing relational ministry and, naturally, think that books are necessary tools to enhance that.  Do you, dear reader, invest in those around you, giving away books, sharing enthusiasm for authors, inviting people to lectures, classes, book clubs and reading groups, coming alongside others as they seek to think and learn in faithful ways?  Jubilee's book table isn't incidental to the CCOs work with students, and commitments to reading has long been central to the reformational worldview perspective that drives the conference.  Is reading central to your vision of discipleship?


Do you pass on books to others, share our BookNotes reviews, help your friends and church members join the conversations about the relationship of faith and the modern world?  We stand ready to continue to serve CCO students and Jubilee participants and everybody else looking in on this movement as we carry forward this conversation and nurture a lifestyle of learning for Kingdom service.  We hope our many friends and customers in their own places and ministry settings, seek out good books for good learning.  As Jubilee 2012 reminds us, "Everything Matters."  We are a bookstore that believes that, and we carry topics often not represented in most religious bookstores.  Colossians 1:17 insists doxologically that all that matters (everything!) holds together in Christ Jesus, so His rule pertains to all of life. There's a whole lot to know, a whole lot to learn, a whole lot to live. Thanks for letting us play a role in your on-going faithfulness.  We are immensely grateful and eager to serve in this way.  We hope that you, like we, are inspired when thinking of the good work of the CCO and the vibrant witness of the Jubilee conference.

As one Jewish-minded friend wrote at the end: next year in Jerusalem.  See ya in Pittsburgh, February 2013!

All books mentioned above and on the list below are all 30% off of the retail price. Offer good until March 1st.  (After that the discount returns to the typical BookNotes 20% off.) 

Caring-for-Creation-DeWitt-Calvin-B-9780801058028.jpgWith every order you get a free book.  Here's the one we are giving away: 

Caring for Creation: Responsible Stewardship of God's Handiwork by Calvin B. DeWitt and others (Baker/CPJ.)  This is perfect to share as a free give-away since it is not only illustrates the sort of thing Jubilee cares about --- creation care and public policy --- but these presentations were originally delivered at the Center for Public Justice's annual Kuyper lectures. (CPJ was at Jubilee, and yes, their Kuyper lectures are inspired by the same former Prime Minister of the Netherlands, the Christian statesman and theologian and cultural activist from the early 1900's.) The main chapters are by Cal DeWitt, a fine and esteemed environmental scholar who has spoken at Jubilee in the past, and then there are three chapters in response by three other thoughtful leaders.  We will offer this one absolutely free to anyone who orders a book from this column.

Here are a few more books that we featured at Jubilee, just a random batch that show the breadth of interesting topics and good reading available for those wanting a Kingdom perspective, living into the ways of God in all of life.  For the next few days, we have 'em at 30%, plus the free one shown above.  One freebie per order, though...

ibg.common.titledetail.imageloader.gifGod and Gadgets: Following Jesus in a Technological Age Brad J. Kallenberg (Cascade) $22.00  Friday night speaker James Smith recommended this; and we had a stack of 'em.  He was talking about how although the possibilities for gadgets and gizmos is rooted in the good creation order, such things can come back to haunt us.  This is theologically meaty, written by a former engineer who is fluent in serious philosophy and astute cultural discernment.  

iso coaching.gifInSideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives  Joe Ehrmann (Simon & Schuster) $24.00  This really may be one of the great sports books of our time, written by the very wise and honorable Christian star of the old Baltimore Colts (whose story is wonderfully told in Jeffrey Marx's award winning Season of Life ($21.00).  In this one, Ehrmann tells of how caring coaching can transform players into better people. Sounds like a Jubilee-type book!  Highly recommended.

bond.gifThe Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them  Wayne Pacelle (William Morrow) $26.99  One of the Jubilee speakers was Christine Gutleben, a charming and passionate spokesperson for faith-based understandings of animal welfare.  (She made an important documentary about factory farms.)  This is written by her boss, and is a very moving, reasonable argument.

living into c.gifLiving into Community: Cultivating Practices That Sustain Us  Christian Pohl (Eerdmans) $20.00  There is always an interest among younger adults about community.  We sold Bonhoeffer's Life Together and books by Jean Vanier. But this new work is as good as it gets, offering serious, mature reflections on four key practices that allow our congregations and fellowships to be more authentic communities.

view from urban loft.gifView from an Urban Loft: Developing a Theological Framework for Understanding the City Sean Benesh (Resource Publications) $23.00  We have a large section of books on urban ministry, social work and such.  And we have some on urban design, new urbanism, stuff for architects and planners.  This is foundational for any, ruminations on how to embody our discipleship amidst the cityscape.  Very nicely done by a guy in Vancouver who directs the Epoch Center for Urban Renewal.

!!.gifThrough a Screen Darkly Jeffrey Overstreet  (Regal) $17.99  I love this guy and here he offers reviews "looking closer at beauty, truth, and evil in the movies."  Highlights more than 200 films, a great resource for discussion groups.  I know some churches have film nights and such, but many need some insight about mature, Christian approaches.  Overstreet's is a great resource.  Glad they had a workshop on this at Jubilee, done by Greg Veltman.

existential.gifThe Existential Pleasures of Engineering  Samuel Floreman (Griffin) $15.99 Although not written from an overtly Christian angle, this wise and eloquent author reminds engineers that there is more to their work than crunching numbers, weighing data.  There is intuitive wisdom needed and great joy to be found.  So true.  The New York Times says it is "gracefully written."


American childhood.gifAn American Childhood Annie Dillard (Harper) $14.00  Not only is this lovely memoir written by a former Pittsburgh Presbyterian, the cover illustrates a classic scene overlooking the "Cathedral of Learning" at the University of Pittsburgh.  Jubilee workshop leader Eric Miller (historian and lecturer on intellectual history) suggested that this was a wonderful way to gain a "historical consciousness."  You want that, you know you do.  Here ya go.

socrates.gifSocrates in the City: Conversations on "Life, God, and Other Small Stuff"  edited by Eric Metaxas (Dutton) $27.95  Eric was one of the big hits at the previous year's Jubilee (and we sold his Bonhoeffer bio quite well.)  This is a collection of some of the talks given at a program Eric runs in New York, that hosts some of the best spokespeople for Christian thinking in the world today.  A fantastic, helpful anthology of Os Guinness, John Polkinghorne, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Alister McGrath,  Francis Collins and more.  Highly recommended, especially at this discounted price!

with.gifWith: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God  Skye Jethani (Nelson) $15.99  A a young Baptist pastor friend of mine just got a tattoo of "Immanuel" (in Hebrew.)  This is a huge, huge theme with younger adults (as it should be with all of us) --God with us.  Jethani is a good writer, a creative thinker, a helpful guide allowing us to reject less than fully faithful assumptions about our walk with God.  Margaret Feinberg says "You can't read this book and not see yourself and others differently." I almost promoted this from up front at Jubilee, but ran out of time. I'm a fan.

one-life.jpgOne.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow  Scot McKnight  (Zondervan) $14.99  All of life is service to God, not our so-called "spiritual life." McKnight explores this radical and yet delightful vision of daily discipleship very, very well.  One reviewer said that reading this was like "having my heart massaged and taking a round-house kick to my head."  I didn't know what a round-house kick was until the Chuck Norris jokes about me at Jubilee, but I get what she was saying.  This book is tender and sweet and yet pushes us deep into the life of God, and Christ's call to serve the world.

king jesus.gifThe King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited  Scot McKnight (Zondervan) $19.99  With a forward by Dallas Willard and N.T. Wright, one would think this assessable book would be a must-read.  It explores the theme of the Kingdom of God and helps explain so, so much of what we are about.  I am convinced we can't understand the gospel without this important material about the Kingdom and Christ's reign. Love it.  The cover is classy, if a tad dark, but the book is upbeat and informative. Highly recommended.

barbies at.gifBarbies at Communion & Other Poems  Marcus Goodyear (T.S. Poetry Press) $12.00  This won an award a year ago from our friends at the Englewood Review of Books and it is well deserving.  You may know Marcus as a key leader in the helpful High Callings blog.  He spoke at Jubilee, but not about poetry, so we have a stack of these.  Worth every dime; they make lovely little gifts, and is worthy of repeated readings.

political-visions-illusions-david-theodore-koyzis-paperback-cover-art.jpgPolitical Visions and Illusions: A Survey and Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies (IVP Academic) $24.00  Gideon Strauss recommended this heartily to those in his workshop on public justice, and Koyzis's long, deep overview of the history of the development of political ideas shows us that both modern liberals and conservatives have their intellectual roots in stuff from the Enlightenment.  The implications are heavy: Christians ought not to too easily identify with either American political party, and must work hard to be discerning about ideological assumptions that do not comport with a balanced, Biblical perspective.

!1.gifAwaken Your Senses: Exercises for Exploring the Wonder of God  J. Brent Bill & Beth A. Booram (IVP) $15.00  There were a number of outdoor eduction leaders at Jubilee and lots of students enjoy wilderness trips and naturey stuff.  With the emphasis on creation/new creation I'd think this would be quite popular.  I think that some mountaineers and kayakers have their hands full, and don't think they need a resource for experiential education about God's presence.  Sad, though, because this is a gem of a book, a treasure chest full of specific ideas, using all our senses.  Parker Palmer calls it "superb."

!11.gifTransforming Care: A Christian Vision of Nursing Practice Mary Molewyk Doornbas, Ruth Groenhout, & Kendra Hotz (Eerdmans) $20.00  I wish anyone who works in health care would consider reading this...very insightful, co-written by a nurse, a philosopher and a theologian/pastor, all from Calvin College.  Very impressive, with great ideas about how to relate faith and health care.

!111.gifSavage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools  Jonathan Kozol (Harper) $14.99  Long a hero of mine, this passionate work rages against the obvious injustice of how poor school districts have so much less than wealthy one.  The Jubilee speaker for education majors this year works in a underfunded city school, and knows first hand the challenges and rewards of this.  I say read anything Kozol writes.  Here is one of his most popular, searing as it is.

bloodlines small.gifBloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian  John Piper foreword by Tim Keller (Crossway) $22.99  CCO has always had great concern for raising a multi-cultural witness and helping students traverse the subtle pains of racism.  Here, the passionate Baptist preacher names is as sin, and shows how only the cross of Christ and the deep doctrines of justification can provide a gospel-centered answer to this American quandary.

!1111.gifThe Language of Science and Faith: Straight Answers to Genuine Questions Karl Giberson & Francis Collins (IVP) $20.00  Remember the bit I wrote (above) from You Lost Me that laments how many young Christians think there is something anti-religious about science, that we need to equip them to think about science in faithful ways?  This can help, a great go-to resource. Get a few now while they are on sale! 

!11111.gifConfessing History: Explorations in Christian Faith and The Historians Vocation  edited by John Fea,  Jay Green, and Eric Miller (University of Notre Dame Press) $35.00  All three of these good guys have spoken at Jubilee and they are truly rising stars in their field.  This collection brings new pieces and important voices to this big question, one that is pressing for any discipline: how does faith color and shape and inform our task?  Does the vocation of being a historian get worked out differently if one holds to basic Christian convictions about things? Rave reviews on the back from Mark Noll, from Grant Wacker, from Donald Yerza, director of The Historical Society.  Making these kinds of scholarly books available to young students is a good witness, we believe, and we hope that those going on to advanced studies will recall having at least seen this sort of integrated Christian scholarship at the Jubilee book display. Kudos to these fine friends, gentlemen and scholars.


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February 27, 2012

Another list from our Post-Jubilee Bonanza 30% off and 1 free book

In case you didn't see it, or saw it and your eyes glazed over, here's the gist in a few quick points.

  • CCO is awesome and Jubilee is awesomer.  If you like Hearts & Minds, you may want to know more about them.
  • We think reading about this not only helps you appreciate who we are and what we're about --the story we are a part of, and you, too, if you're a friend or fan---but there are some take-away points to learn, which can be applied anywhere.  Yep, we gave ya take-away points.
  • Take away one: don't give up on the ideas of worldview and the implications of a storied view of the Bible.  That creation-fall-redemption-restoration stuff unlocks a lot and that story is where it's at. I listed a bunch of books about story and worldview and they are good and could be transforming for you. 
  • Prior to Jubilee is an event called Jubilee Professional, for adults in the workworld and marketplace and hearing them scheme about promoting a Christian view of work and praying for the city is really, really exciting.  To summarize take-away two: Amy Sherman's book rocks.  Yes it does.
  • CCO's relational ministry was such a delight to see as para-church staff guide students around the booths and informational tables full of ministry options, graduate studies programs, summer work options, helping them consider big stuff about their lives.  Take- away three, part A: are you networking those who you are mentoring/guiding/teaching/pastoring in relational and visionary ways?  Good news is meant to be shared and some of us should redouble our efforts talking it up.  
  • Many CCO staff bought books for students, guided them through our huge display, set up appointments for their young friends to talk to Beth or me as we helped them choose resources for the journey.  Again, this relational way of resourcing, hand-selling books, is what CCO does well and what we are all about.  Do you use books in your ministry?  Do you agree that readers can become leaders?  That leaders must be readers? Are you eager to honor God by learning well what a Christian perspective looks like in various spheres of life?  (Can you do that without the habits of reading widely and well?)  That  CCO and Jubilee have long emphasized nurturing the Christian mind and the importance of reading is one of the reasons they are effective. It's not that they are super-intellectual, but just that they know how to use books.  That was take-away part three, part B.
  • Everything is 30% off  (through March 1st) and we have a free book offer, too, to thank you for caring about this thing we do.
So there ya go. I said it much better in the long version, named a bunch of authors and books, let you in on some cool trivia (like how Francis Schaeffer learned the stuff he did, which trickled over to CCO in the 70s--a powerful story involving a Dutch FBI guy, an art historian and a Nazi POW camp.)  We highlighted a few books that seemed to anchor and shape the Jubilee vision and showed some examples of random ones---Christian insights on fields from sports to science---that we featured at the Jubby conference book display.  Check 'em out, buy some books, encourage some new book clubs or study groups, and keep this conversation going.


glimpses of gg.jpgGlimpses of a Greater Glory: A Devotional Through the Storyline of the Bible  David H. Kim (Gotham Fellows) $13.99  A good portion of my February column about Jubilee was, in fact, about how the Bible is one coherent story, and how that shapes our own worldview, placing us in the plot of God's work in the world.  This is a rare, remarkable devotional guide, with short introductions, helpful Bible selections, and a closing prayer for each day from someone in church history, such as Johannes Kepler, St. Francis, William Temple and so many more.  Also, there is a lovely b/w reproduction of an art piece to illustrate each lesson (great, great stuff there, Michelangelo and Caravaggio and anonymous Russian icons and medieval etchings.)  Kim is the director of the Gotham Fellows program at Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC and a friend of the CCO and Jubilee.  His "reformational worldview" is evident as he teases out the full-orbed redemption promised and fulfilled in the plot of the Scriptures.  This draws you to God and His grace and invites you to consider how to apply the Scripture's story wisely to your life.  Nice blurbs on the back from Tim Keller and Richard Mouw.

breath for (Shaw).jpgBreath for the Bones: Art, Imagination, and Spirit Luci Shaw (Nelson) $13.99  The lovely Ms Shaw has been a blessing to many of us who are interested in mature thinking about faith and creativity, and we always take her many poetry volumes to places like Jubilee.  This is a very nice book, loaded with Biblical reflections personal stories, energizing insights and down-to-earth practical advice for aspiring writers or artists of any sort. There are discussion questions and there are writing exercises, too.  We had a huge display of arts-related titles at Jubilee (all of Square Halo Books, for instance, and heavy books by Calvin Seerveld and Mako Fujimura and more.)  This one is always popular and we are happy to offer it here on sale, now.

faith and other flat t.gifFaith and Other Flat Tires: A Memoir  Andrea Palpant Dilley foreword by Jerry Sittser (Zondervan) $14.99   You will be hearing more about this later, but you should know that this memoir is a moving, well-told story of the daughter of missionaries who goes off to a thoughtful, evangelical college and finds that despite great professors and some cool classmates, she drifts towards doubt and skepticism, asking big questions about the world's suffering, conflicted about the painful culture shock of being a "third culture" kid.  She reads great literature, encounters great poverty back in Africa for a season, becomes a fan of all sorts of bohemian cafes,  alt films and indie rock music---the music is a good part of the story---and yet she finally gives up faith altogether.  As you may guess, she recovers her beliefs and lives to tell about it.  In another review perhaps I will say why I think everyone who mentors young people, and especially anyone who works at a Christian college, should ponder her journey of faith, as it is nicely written and more honest than you sometimes get from religious biography.  I know you know people like this, and I know you care.  Still, this is insightful, entertaining, even as it is at times nearly gut-wrenching. The Jubilee conference offers an intellectually stimulating environment that pushes students towards faithful cultural engagement; I wonder if Ms Palpant Dilley would have found our instincts and ethos, rooted in doctrines of common grace, at all satisfactory.  Perhaps not.  Her story is not uncommon, and I can tell you I met students last week whose story sounded a lot like hers. I pray we can offer the sort of robust and relevant faith that rings true for them.  Visit her at www.andreapalpantdilley.com. 

amazing gifts.jpgAmazing Gifts: Stories of Faith, Disability, and Inclusion  Mark Pinsky (Alban Institute) $18.00  Pinksy is a great journalist (and author of The Gospel According to the Simpsons, amongst others.)  Pennsylvania's own former First Lady, the honorable and remarkable advocate for those with disabilities, Ginny Thornburgh, wrote a good foreword.  This collects all kinds of stories from churches and synagogues which have shown great goodness by working out ways to be more inclusive and just when thinking about special needs.  This was displayed at Jubilee for special ed majors, of course, but any church leader would benefit from seeing these innovations for (as Joel Hunter says of it) "real love in action."

wonder of the universe.gifThe Wonder of the Universe: Hints of God in Our Fine-Tuned World  Karl Giberson (IVP) $16.00  There are a number of superb endorsements on the back of this brand new book, from Dorothy Boores, a biology prof from Gordon College to Randy Isaac of the prestigious American Scientific Affiliation to Ed Davis, the esteemed Professor of the History of Science at Messiah College (who notes that it is a "clear, accurate, interesting account of modern cosmology.")  Giberson is a theistic evolutionist and colleague with the famous N.I.H. director Francis Collins, but here he offers evidences for a designed universe, journeying on a cosmic expedition "of planets and protons, galaxies and gamma rays" to discover the wonder of it all.  Serious, learned, and truly lovely, with lots of pull quotes, illustrations, photos, some even in glorious color.

greater g.gifThe Greater Goal: Connecting Purpose and Performance: How to Align Your Entire Organization for Shared Success  Ken Jennings & Heather Hyde (Barrett-Koehler) $16.95  These are new Pittsburgh friends and am I ever glad I got to show this at the Jubilee book table.  If you are a business manager or work on any sort of leadership team (even at a nonprofit or church) this imaginative fable will be hard to put down! I guarantee you that you will learn something new, be inspired to take helpful actions, and be equipped to get others "on board" with the dream you envision.  Ken co-wrote 10,000 Horses and The Serving Leader with John Stahl-Wert, who I gave a shout out to in the previous post for his leading role in Jubilee Professional.  If you want to achieve your goals together, this is how to get fully aligned for, as they put it, "shared success."

everyday missions.gifEveryday Missions: How Ordinary People Can Change the World  Leroy Barber (IVP; likewise) $15.00 When I saw my stack of these brand new books here at the shop when we got back after Jubilee I was so bummed: Leroy has been at Jubilee bunches of times and his Mission Year is a staple when we think of opportunities for students to do serious service for the urban poor.  We are one of the very few bookstores that stock Barber's brilliant little collection of urban meditations and full-color photos, the New Neighbor. This brand new book shows that God keeps showing up and we are given plenty of opportunities to respond.  Endorsements on the back are a who's who of great missional leaders, from Shane Claiborne to Bob Lupton to Chris Heuertz.  Margaret Feinberg notes that Barber "dreams big dreams for our generation---dreams that have the power and potential to change the world forever."  Kudos to Leroy.  We'll push this wherever we can...

body broken.gifBody Broken: Can Republicans and Democrats Sit in the Same Pew? Charles Drew (New Growth Press) $15.99  At Jubilee we often promote Drew's amazing book on purpose and passion and vision and vocation, A Journey Worth Taking. (It was in the "recommended readings" of the beautiful conference program book.) This is a brand new re-issue of an earlier (and long out of print)  book of his entitled A Public Faith: Bringing Personal Faith to Public Issues which I've always appreciated for its lack of breathy rhetoric, its calm and reasoned ways.  Dr. Drew wisely reminds us of keeping first things first (our focus on Christ and unity in Him) and shows how to keep our political and cultural efforts humble and open-minded.  He values expressions of social concern and affirms that we should care about political activism but wants to be sure that those efforts don't become ideological and thereby divisive in the local congregation.  The book went out of print years ago because it was, perhaps, ahead of its time.  The new title helps, I think, and today's students resonate with this call for civility and grace.  It is going to be important in the months ahead, you know.  By the way, students cheered as I described from up front Richard Mouw's must-read book on Christian civility, Uncommon Decency.

place at the table.gifA Place at the Table: 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor  Chris Seay (IVP) $13.99  Published with the support of Compassion International and Living Water International, this call to fast each day for 40 days is truly extraordinary.  Nothing quite like it in print as it richly combines deep and solid spiritual reflections, great stories of mission and empowerment, and a bit of prophetic cultural critique, naming consumerism as a false idol that can best be dethroned by a renewed commitment to Christ's sufficiency.  This is a great book.  We sold a few of the cool DVD at Jubilee, as well.  Very highly recommended, for Lent or any time.

common prayer pocket.gifCommon Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (Pocket Edition)  Shane Claiborne & Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (Zondervan) $12.99  You may know the bigger, wonderful hardback liturgical prayer book by this title that these guys released a year ago.  This abridged version is a paperback one which is just the size of a mass market paperback, thin and easy to carry, and still loaded with daily prayers, Scriptures, good quotes and songs. It is to be used on the go, on the street, in hospitals or jails, in meetings, certainly with others, or in the quiet of your own prayer space.  It is interesting to me not only how rich these liturgical traditions are, but how so many younger evangelicals hunger for resources like this.  Very nicely done.

think christianly.gifThink Christianly: Looking at the Intersection of Faith and Culture  Jonathan Morrow (Zondervan) $16.99  Jubilee is so fast-paced and hectic that I just don't have time to show many of even the most useful book to as many people as I wish I could.  I love the title of this, for starters.  Once you see this, I'm sure some will find it immensely useful.  There are chapters on understanding this whole "intersection" and a major part on "preparing to engage."  Each solid chapter includes a good interview with somebody who is a specialist in a particular field--the more general early chapters include pieces by Kelly Monroe Kullberg of Veritas Forum, Reggie Joiner, and the amazingly thoughtful Kyle Strobel (on having integrated and Christ-shaped spiritual formation.)  Part three includes chapters (and more interviews) on areas we simply must engage, thoughtfully and with great discernment---from matters of tolerance and relativism to media, God's design for sex, injustice, faith in the public square, science, bioethics, environmental stewardship and such.  I am grateful for this conservative, thoughtful, rigorous guide to basic Christian thinking even if I may find that it tilts a little too traditionalist in some areas for my taste. (I'm really appreciative of the intelligent design movement, but think their dismissal of other voices is a bit glib; I would have been more passionate about a few things, maybe less certain about others, such as  the role of conventional views of apologetics in some others.)  Still, looking at the diverse footnotes and the many great websites offered for further study after each chapter, I realize this is a heck of a useful resource for anyone just learning to emerge from an insular or fundamentalist wariness of culture to a more active ministry of cultural engagement. Worried that this Jubilee talk about transforming culture will lead to an old school liberal social gospel unhinged from historic orthodoxy or that we will create a watered-down piety?  This will ease those fears, I'm sure.

a.k. gifAbraham Kuyper: A Short and Personal Introduction  Richard Mouw  (Eerdmans) $16.00  You've heard about Kuyper plenty and I've touted this book a lot.  I like what Jamie Smith says of it:  "This marvelous little book pulls off an astounding feat: though it is both compact and accessible, it also gives us the whole Kuyper.... Mouw, with typical wit and warmth, introduces us to Kuyper in all his multifaceted richness.  A gift for the next generation."  Come on, people.  If you liked Mouw at Jubilee (or the great link I offered to his Houghton College talk) and you wonder  "How does a guy come up with this good stuff?" this could be your answer.  I'm telling you, there'd be no Jubilee as we know it if it weren't for this early 20th century Dutch statesman and theological figure.  I praise the Lord for Dr. Mouw's delightful, important introduction.

free at last.gifFree at Last?: The Gospel in African American Experience Carl Ellis (IVP) $21.00 Speaking of how Jubilee got to be Jubilee, old timers know that even before the conference was called Jubilee, a strong, evangelical, urban preacher named Tom Skinner was influential in CCO collegiate gatherings.  John Perkins has been a long-time friend of the CCO (so much so that a bit about Pittsburgh appears in his thick biography, published a few years back.)  One of the other long-standing, African-American leaders --  sharp and passionate and faithful friend of the COO, has been one Carl Ellis, Jr. Carl spoke at Jubilee again this year. This great book has been used by CCO in its staff training over the years and while Jubilee delightfully bears witness to God's concern for a wide array of ethnicities and happily talks about multi-cultural reconciliation, there is little doubt that the history of the black struggle in America remains a major part of US and church history that must be told.  This is an evangelical classic, important, readable, helpful.  We are pleased to commend it, confident that it will be good for you to have it.

What is V.gifWhat is Vocation?  Stephen J.  Nichols (Presbyterian & Reformed) $3.99  This may have been one of the biggest sellers at Jubilee, in part because it is so inexpensive, and such a fine, fine overview of the basic call to serve God in our jobs and callings. It has a fantasic, glossy cover and is typeset well, but is only 32 pages and nicely staple-bound.  (Kudos to P&R for this whole series of "Basics of the Faith" booklets.  This is so nicely done, very, very relevant for anyone, written by a friend from Lancaster Bible College.  This is very highly recommended. At the discounted price, you should buy a bunch and pass 'em out at your church or -- if you dare --at your workplace.

go to church, change the world.gifGo to Church Change the World: Christian Community as Calling  Gerald J. Mast (Herald Press) $13.99  This is another one that I would have loved to have had slow, caring conversations about.  I name it here just to show you that the Jubilee book table, while it emphasizes helping students live out their faith in their studies and careers, and holds up examples of wholistic ministries tackling the most urgent problems of the day, also offers a section on church to remind students that being a part of a local congregation is essential. I really like this book because of the spunky title and the way it offers a pretty wide view of God's Kingdom coming (in all of culture and each area of life) but that we are most clearly reminded of that in the worshipping, local body.  It is from an Anabaptist (Mennonite) author whom I trust, and it was a delight to see Serving Leaders/Jubilee Pro leader John Stahl-Wert offering an endorsing blurb on the back.   Calvin College prof (and author of a fabulous little book on vocation and callings and another we featured on communication theory, Quentin Schultze, notes, "This book warmly, wisely, and humbly proclaims what every Christian needs to hear today --that we are called to celebrate the good news in community.  Mast seamlessly integrates worship, community, and good works in the world."  Sounds like a great Jubilee book, eh?  Or one for post-Jubilee follow-up.  Go to church!  Change the world!  Hoorah!

Here is the beautiful one that we are giving away free with any purchase.   Caring for Creation: Responsible Stewardship of God's Handiwork. Primary author Cal DeWitt is a wonderful,Caring-for-Creation-DeWitt-Calvin-B-9780801058028.jpg wonderful leader and this book offers a great dialogue with a few respondents to his excellent "Kuyper lecture" presented to the Center for Public Justice a few years back.  You'll surely benefit from this, and we're happy to give it free with any purchase from this or the previous list. 


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