About June 2012

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

May 2012 is the previous archive.

July 2012 is the next archive.

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

June 2012 Archives

June 2, 2012

C.S. Lewis Institute Fellows Program Reading List 2012-2013 YEAR ONE

CSLewisFellowsLogoFinal.jpgWe wrote about this a year ago, how we are pleased to stock all the DVDs and books needed for our friends in the CS Lewis Institute's Fellows Program.  There are several different cities involved in this year-long, evangelical discipleship course, and we applaud the C.S. Lewis Institute, the mentors, and, of course, the participants who are willing to read through significant books that will impact their lives, deepen their discipleship and help them become the sorts of leaders who have the theological and spiritual foundations to live out their faith in the modern world.  Thanks for considering sending your orders our way.

Here is the updated 2012 list and the updated prices.  These are the regular retail prices, but we offer a 10% discount off any of them you may need, so we will deduct the discount from these list prices when anyone orders.  We ship from south Central PA so orders usually get to the DC area in a day--the other groups (Atlanta, Seattle, Cincinnati) may take a few more days.   As we always say at our website's inquiry page, or the order form page, (you can find links shown below) we can easily send an invoice along so you can pay by check later, or, if you'd rather, you can pay by typing your cc information into the website order form.  It is certified secure. Just type in the titles you want and we do the rest; it is as easy as that.

We are eager to serve, happy to help.  If you are a Year One C.S. Lewis Fellow, here is your list (although you should follow your instruction handbook for the real scoop.)  If you are a Year Two Fellow, that list is posted next.  If you aren't, why not pick a few and read along?   

(summer 2012)

OPTIONAL DVD The Bible and the Christian Life: Six Sessions on the Authority, Interpretation, And Use of Scripture John Stott (Zondervan) $19.99  You may recall that we've promoted this here before, and I've told of using it in an adult ed class at my own church.  Six excellent, dense, clear, thoughtful and inspiring lectures by the late, incomparable British evangelical who some called Uncle John. (If you are using this in an Sunday school setting, each of the six talks are divided into portions to stop the DVD and discuss the content.  Each lecture is just under an hour, so could be used in 6 weeks but can most fruitfully be used over 10 or 12 weeks.)  CSLI used this other years, but this is is optional.

Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives Richard Swenson (NavPress) $15.99  Who doesn't need some sensible guidance about managing resources---time, emotions, money and such.  I often tell people that this is the only book of this sort that I really like.  We've often raved about the devotional that is also available (Minute of Margin) and the recent sequel (In Search of Balance.)  It makes a lot of sense to start with some attention to this very basic matter, our pace of life and wise sense of balance.

Knowledge of the Holy
A. W. Tozer (HarperOne) $13.99  Still one of the most best-selling religious books of the 20th century, a passionate study of the attributes of God.

Ordering Your Private World Gordon MacDonald (Nelson) $15.99  A contemporary classic about priorities, character, and the inner life. Includes a study guide making it very useful as a foundational book.

Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs
J.I. Packer (Tyndale) $14.99 Our friends at CSLI are always on the look-out for how to teach basic theology with depth and warmth and brevity.  It doesn't get more clear and solid than this by one of the most important Reformed thinkers of the last 50 years.

Satisfy Your Soul: Restoring the Heart of Christian Spirituality   Bruce Demarest  (NavPress) $16.99  A studious, excellent, Christ-centered book about spiritual formation.  One of the very best!

OPTIONAL Quiet Time  IVCF Staff (IVP) $5.00  A small booklet inviting one to a daily quiet time.  Nice.  Good to share with those new to this discipline.

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life  Donald Whitney (NavPress) $15.99  I sometimes say Whitney is a Reformed Richard Foster drawing more on Puritan sources than Foster's monastic sources.  Great for anyone wanting a deeper spiritual walk.

Spiritual Birthline: Understanding How We Experience New Birth  Stephen Smallman (Crossway) $12.99  Do you know how to tell your spiritual journey? Does understanding justification and regeneration matter?  Can you look back over your life and say when and how you crossed over the line to saving faith?  Very interesting!

The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God's Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther and Calvin  John Piper (Crossway) $14.99  The passionate Piper has a series of books each studying a theme by way of three short biographies.  This one reflects on God's saving grace as understood by these titans of faith.  Highly recommended.

DVD Luther Directed by Eric Til (MGM) $14.98 Staring Joseph Fiennes, this is entertaining, powerful stuff.  Kudos to those in Hollywood who brought this well made drama to the silver screen.

The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine  A.W. Tozer (Wingspread) $12.99  Tozer, who died in 1963, was a remarkably innovative and learned leader of the Christian & Missionary Alliance denomination.  Here, he shows himself to be solid with traditional, orthodox rigor, and yet with a sweetly mystical strain.  Classic.

Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God's Unfailing Love Jerry Bridges (NavPress) $14.99  Few books in recent years have explored the meaning of grace for justification and sanctification, for salvation and living, than this clear-headed, no-nonsense study.  This is stuff every Christian should know.  

fall, winter, spring, 2012-2013

OPTIONAL DVD Gospel of John (The Visual Bible) $14.99  The entire gospel, verbatim (in the Good News translation) dramatically acted with Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond from Lost) playing Jesus.  Directly by Philip Saville, it is tremendously done.

DVD Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace (Gateway Films) $19.99  Staring Ulrich Tukur, this is still one of the best films on the famous martyr and his role in the German resistance. You may choose this, or the one listed below.

DVD The Hiding Place (Worldwide Pictures) $19.99 Julie Harris was nominated for an Academy Award for this powerful adaptation of Corrie Ten Boom's classic memoir about their time under Hitler.  Digitally restored and remastered in a wide screen edition.  You may choose this, or the one listed above.

The Cost of Discipleship  Dietrich Bonhoeffer  (Simon & Shuster) $16.00  Considered one of the most important books ever about the demands of following Christ.  Serious and life-changing, first published in Germany in 1937.

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream  David Platt (Waterbrook) $14.99  Have we reduced the gospel to fit our own cultural preferences of individualism and upward mobility? Hear this simple exhortation to reject the values of materialism and ease; hear the call to give our lives in radical ways to the work of the Kingdom.

My Heart Christ's Home Robert Boyd Munger (IVP) $1.60  This little booklet has changed lives, telling the parable of one who invites Christ into his home.  It has two great strengths: Jesus cleans up various rooms in the house (the bedroom, the library, etc) and He waits quietly for the resident to invite him to meet in daily quiet time.  Lovely, interesting, useful.

The Problem of Pain  C.S. Lewis (HarperOne) $13.99  One of the more serious studies Lewis has produced, written to explore why God permits sorrow in this good but fallen world. 

The God Who Loves You Peter Kreeft (Ignatius Press) $14.95  Kreeft, nearly a contemporary Lewis himself, teaches philosophy at the Jesuit Boston College, is beloved for his own wit and charm and clear-headed logic.  This is a deeply rewarding, rich text.  C.S. Lewis' friend, author Sheldon Vanauken (author of A Severe Mercy) says of it "I know of no writer today who can deal with (the subject of God's love) more justly and lovingly than Peter Kreeft has done."

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount  Martyn Lloyd-Jones  (Eerdmans) $30.00  Well, anyone who follows Jesus must grapple with his major teaching, and the sermon is perhaps his most didactic session.  There are other books on this, of course, but Lloyd-Jones is truly one of the greatest preachers of the 20th century, who held forth in London for a generation. This big volume is a treasure chest, laden with sound insight and important commentary.

DVD  Malokai: The Story of Father Damien (Era Films) $19.99  What an inspiring drama, portraying the legendary Catholic missionary who moved to a leper colony in Hawaii in 1872 and his self-sacrificial ministry.  Produced in the Netherlands in 1999 it stars the likes of Peter O'Toole, Kris Kristofferson, Sam Neill and David Wenham.

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism  Timothy Keller (Riverhead) $16.00  Well, what thoughtful class on Lewis-esque faith in the modern world would be complete without a book  by the author The New York Times suggested could be our contemporary Lewis, the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan?  This is a fine, well-written, accessible book about skepticism and the validity of Christian faith in our age.  Highly recommended. (When you are done with this, read all his other books!)

Humility: The Journey Towards Holiness  Andrew Murray (Bethany) $7.99  A much-needed Christian virtue and one about which very little is written these days.  Brief, poignant, very Biblical, written in the older style of the famous  late 19th century South African evangelist.  

DVD C.S. Lewis Through the Shadowlands  (Vision Video)  $19.99  Staring Joss Ackland and Clarie Bloom, this is the older British movie, aired on the BBC, not the more popular one with Anthony Hopkins.  Lewis fans all commend it.

Mere Christianity  C.S. Lewis  (HarperOne) $14.99  What can we say.  A must-read.

Screwtape Letters C.S. Lewis (HarperOne) $14.99  Is this the most popular of Lewis' books?  It is certainly one of his most creative.  A set of fictional letters from a lesser demon to his evil boss, as they attack the person they are assigned.  Sort of the opposition of a guardian angel.
The Holy Spirit  Billy Graham (Nelson) $14.99  There are more sophisticated scholarly works on the Spirit, some more practical about the Spirit's gifts or fruits, but few are as clear and helpful and full of great information and inspiration.  Graham was more of a great reader than most realize and this is a fine example of his lasting writing ministry.  Very nicely done.

Can I Trust the Bible: Defending the Bible's Reliability Darrell L. Bock (RZIM) $4.99  Of course there are hundreds of books of various sorts and styles, but this slim booklet has great information  preparing you to give a reasonable case for the trustworthiness of Scripture.  A very handy tool to have and to share with those who are perplexed.

Is the New Testament Reliable? (second edition) Paul Barnett (IVP) $16.00  With all the nonsense in the media about the gnostic gospels and the lack of historicity of the New Testament (not to mention the resurrection accounts) and any number of best-selling books about the errors of the earliest manuscripts, etcetera, etcetera, this is very interesting and a helpful case for authenticity and trustworthiness of the New Testament.  Very well done.

Meditating on the Word  Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Cowley) $17.95  In this remarkable volume you can read a letter Bonhoeffer wrote about the Bible, learn of his practical guidance about how to meditate on Scripture, and reflect on a handful of solid sermons on various Psalms.  Not to be missed. Compiled and edited by Episcopal priest, David McI. Gracie.

DVD Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?  (Ignatius Press) $19.95  This is a fascinating and educational documentary featuring an array of conservative Catholic, mainline Protestant and evangelical scholars, from Fr. Mitch Pacwas, Johnnette Benkovic, Craig Blomberg, Craig Evans, Timothy Gray, Gary Habermas, Edward Sri, Roy Schoeman, Fr. Ronald Tacelli, Ben Witherington.  All have PhDs and each offer insight in this critical examination of the facts about the resurrection of Jesus.

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling Your Life's Central Purpose Os Guinness (Nelson) $17.99  Thoughtful evangelicals in the DC area who are striving to live out their faith and convictions in the marketplace, the academy, the think-tanks and corridors of power surely must have a strong understanding of the Biblical notion of vocation (as should we all.)  You may know I have viewed Os as a bit of a mentor and hero and often say this is one of my favorite books.  Kudos to CSLI for holding up this vision and reading this wonderfully rich and beautifully written work.

DVD  Amazing Grace (Bristol Bay/20th Century Fox) $19.99  Directed by Michael Apted.   Much has been written about this exceptionally popular drama about the profoundly Christian work of William Wilberforce, his sense of calling, and his effort to integrate his faith and his own political vocation.  The story of the long British campaign to abolish slavery has never been more wonderfully told.  A perfect movie to use in Washington, of course, but a vital one for us all.  Highly recommend to own and to loan.

CD "Understanding Postmodernism"  Mark Stibbes  (Father's House Trust) $10.95  We have paid a copyright fee and have been given permission to duplicate this audio lecture by the creative British evangelist and are happy to make it available to friends of the CSLI.  There is so much more to learn about this topic, but this is an articulate starting point.

The Postmodern World: Discerning the Times and the Spirit of Our Age  Millard J. Erickson (Crossway) $14.99  Lewis fans will know that Lewis had great concern about the nature of truth, and also exposed the ways in which faith in scientistic rationalism reduced our insights, disregarding the role of the imagination, a human way of knowing that he valued deeply.  Was Lewis, then, an early postmodernist?  Hmm. That isn't the theme of this book---which attempts to give a fair and lucid explanation of the role of postmodern theories in popular culture, at the university.  One cannot avoid this question, and Erickson is a fine guide to the discussions, offering some wise, qualified appreciation and much critique of deconstruction.

DVD  Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed  (Vivendi Entertainment)  Ben Stein $9.99  The acclaimed documentary on freedom of thought in education and science, and the debate about intelligent design.


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


YEAR TWO C.S. Lewis Institue Fellows Program Reading List 2012-2013 YEAR TWO

What a delight it has been serving so many CS Lewis Institute Fellows last year (and many years before that) in their Year One program.  Thanks to the mentors and participants who send their orders our way.  We pray this intensive faith formation community has widened yourcsli log.jpg heart and matured your mind.  In Year Two you will go a bit deeper, a bit broader, living out the implications of a solid, historically orthodox faith, and a lived, full-orbed relationship with the King of the Universe, the God that Lewis loved and served.

Here is your Year Two Fellow's list.
  As always, we list the regular retail prices, but will offer a 10% discount for C.S. Lewis Fellows.  Just use our handy order form page, from the link shown below.  Tell us what you want, if you want us to bill you or if you want to use a cc.  We'll ship 'em out.  Again, thank you for your work and thank you for the opportunity to serve you in this way.

This list was edited 6-9-2012 to reflect a change in the CSLI Year Two Handbook.

CS Lewis Institute Fellows Program Reading List YEAR TWO

DVD  Les Miserables 1978/2004 directed by Glen Jordan starring Richard Jordan, Anthony Perkins (Lion's Gate) $14.98  Who hasn't been moved by the extraordinary story, inspired by the classic Victor Hugo novel?  Very well done.

What's So Amazing About Grace?  Philip Yancey (Zondervan) $14.99  One of our great contemporary writers tells moving stories to help us all understand God's grace and how to be more gracious in our own lives.

The Grace Awakening
  Charles Swindoll (Nelson) $14.99  A truly wonderful, easy-to-read overview of this essential doctrine by one of the most popular Christian writers of the last several decades.  Inspiring, thorough.  You may choose this one, or the Bridges book, listed below.

Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God's Unfailing Love
  Jerry Bridges (NavPress) $14.99  A portion of this was used in Year One so most Year Two Fellows have it.  Bridges is no-nonsense, solid, insightful and very popular.  He understands the gospel-centered life from which we can serve God, being transformed into the ways of Christ.  You may choose this one or the Swindoll listed above.

On Christian Liberty  Martin Luther (Fortress) $9.99  A very short piece, obviously a key notion which help launch the Protestant reformation.

The Dynamics of the Spiritual Life  Richard Lovelace  (IVP) $30.00  Lovelace has studied renewals and awakenings, from the times of Jonathan Edwards to the Jesus People of the 70s, asking some of the largest questions and offering deep answers.  Many consider this book to be a seminal work, classic and vital.

Not the Way It's Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin  Cornelius Plantinga (Eerdmans) $22.00  Can it be said that a book about the horrors and dysfunctions and violations of sin can be a fun read?  This is elegant and wise, insightful and important.

Workbook on the Seven Deadly Sins  Maxie Dunham & Kimberly Dunnam Reisman  (Abingdon) $13.00  Just like it sounds, this is a helpful guide to working through the historic ideas of the "seven deadlies" and helping us grapple with their deadly influences.  Very helpful, written by a popular, upbeat United Methodist leader.

What Your Counselor Never Told You: Seven Secrets Revealed to Conquer the Power of Sin in Your Life  William Backus (Bethany Publishing House) $20.00  Another study on the deadly sins and how to replace them with God-given virtues, received as we embrace the grace to repent.  Really interesting and exceptionally helpful.

True Spirituality  Francis Schaeffer (Tyndale) $13.99  We know of Schaeffer's insight about history, art, and culture, his gracious outreach to counter-cultural students of the 70s and his powerful influence of evangelicals who think about worldview and cultural reformation.  This book is foundational, his insights about submitting to God moment by moment, experiencing Christ's presence as we increase in wholeness and hope.  Wow.

The Screwtape Letter
  C.S. Lewis  (HarperOne) $14.99  Is this the most popular Lewis' books?  It is certainly one of his most creative.  A set of fictional letters from a lesser demon to his evil boss, as they attack the person they are assigned.  Sort of the opposition of a guardian angel.

Christian Mission in the Modern World John Stott (IVP) $8.00  These short, brilliant chapters emerged from the early Lausanne movement, working on how to embrace mission in a pluralistic world, how to balance words and deeds, how authentic evangelical mission can transform lives and cultures.  As timely now as ever, by the late hero of informed, balanced evangelical thought.

Prayer Power Unlimited  J. Oswald Sanders (Discovery House) $9.99  There are so many great books on prayer it is difficult to pick one or two to teach.  This is truly a contemporary classic, fruitfully used by many.

Community of the King  Howard Snyder (InterVarsity Press) $18.00  In my opinion, this is one of the very best books I've ever read on the nature of the church, and how we are to be a community that models and proclaims the Kingdom of God.  Very important.

Life Together Dietrich Bonhoeffer (HarperOne) $13.99  Well, speaking of great books about the church, this is, indeed, a true classic, pastoral, deeply spiritual letters written under the Nazi repression.

Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience: Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World? Ronald J. Sider (Baker) $15.00  This explores the sad truth that many who hold to high evangelical doctrine and historic orthodox faith still don't live very differently then their secular neighbors.  A robust analysis and hope-filled call to faithfulness in every area of life.

Louder Than Words: The Power of Uncompromised Living Andy Stanley (Multnomah) $13.99  This upbeat book helps us to be people of integrity, relating what we know with how we live.  Basic, but truly important.


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takes you to the secure Hearts & Minds order form page
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inquire here
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Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street  Dallastown, PA  17313     717-246-3333

June 11, 2012

A Dozen great Father's Day Recommendations (and a FREE book offer.)

It's not too late to send dad a book for Father's Day; not too late for grandpap or Uncle Bob or some soon to be daddy. Or any other guy who needs encouraged in his guy-ish role.  Or, well, you know: almost any day is a good day to give a book to anybody.


Here are a few about dads, or that your dad might like.  Need other ideas?  Email me at read@heartsandmindsbooks.com or call the shop at 717.246.3333.  We'll help you find the perfectly chosen read for some dude or Mister in your life, or anybody else.  Thanks!


father's day buzz.jpgFather's Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son  Buzz Bissinger (Houghton Mifflin) $26.00  Let me get this said right away: Bissinger is a heck of a writer, clever, interesting, observant, eloquent, and yet, well, manly.  Yup, he's the best-selling, talented author who gave us the brilliantly entertaining book that inspired the excellent TV show, Friday Night Lights. When you get props from legendary sports writers like Frank Deford (we have his great new collection, too, by the way) you know your in the big leagues.  This story, though, is not about the big game, it is about Bissinger's real life, and his complicated relationship with his grown son, afflicted with significant intellectual disabilities and an autism-like disorder.  There are many good memoirs by parents of special needs kids but none that I know of by a dad that is as good (and honest) as this. 

The core of the story narrates a cross country road trip taken by Buzz and his son Zach--gifted with an uncanny sense of direction---coming to grips with confusion and frustration and wonder and love. (Zach was a twin; his brother ends up at U of Penn.)  One reviewer, in fact, writes that "the real journey, though, is interior. It's a barely guided tour through Mr. Bissinger's own roiling anxiety, his depression, his narcissism and his profound insecurity, not to mention what he sees as his failings as a man, as a father, as a son and as a writer." Yes, but it is still a fabulous road trip, an adventure tale, fun and interesting, entertaining and uplifting, truly moving at times. That it carries a no-nonsense blurb from Temple Grandin is cool, too.  She says "Every father of a special needs child should read this very insightful book."  I'd expand that a bit.  Every father.  


learning from my father.jpgLearning from My Father: Lessons on Life and Faith  David Lawther Johnson  (Eerdmans) $15.00  This publisher, you probably know, is one of the premier houses releasing serious theological texts, important, mature works  of spirituality and faith-based cultural criticism.  We respect them immensely, and carry many of their titles.  It is interesting to me when they choose to do a book of this sort--a personal memoir, a guide to more ordinary living.  What I mean to suggest is that they don't crank these out promiscuously like some publishers; when Eerdmans does a book like this, you know it is extraordinary and intelligent and will be well reviewed.  And this certainly is.  My sales rep gave me an advanced copy months ago and we are grateful to now announce it: it is a perfect Father's Day gift.  Johnson is a longtime business leader and lawyer and now the CEO of BioCrossroads, a collaborative enterprise supporting initiatives in science and biotech.  And he is a Christian, inspired by his father, a Presbyterian pastor.   


The heart of this book (and it has a lot of heart) are the insights gathered as Johnson re-reads and reflects upon (and offers excerpts of) a batch of letters his father sent him years ago when the lad was a homesick, overwhelmed freshman at Harvard.  Yes, this is loaded with fatherly advice (so maybe, dad, you should give it to your son or daughter!) but it is also a tribute to the father, his good counsel, his graceful style, his keen arguments about the credibility of a Christian vision of life and how we make meaning in this life.  The book rings true on so many levels and is a treat to dip into, to ponder, enjoy, or share with others.  Blurbs on the back cover are by NPR commentator, Krista Tippett and Mitch Daniels, the Governor of Indiana.  Walter Isaacson (who wrote that big book about Steve Jobs) calls it "a beautiful book" and "inspiring."  E. J. Dionne says it is, "quite simply, a beautiful book---eloquent, deeply moving, quietly passionate, and wise."  I love Dionne's last line: "In offering this gift to his father, Johnson has gifted all of us."  Indeed.


unbroken.pngUnbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption  Laura Hillenbrand (Random House) $27.00  Remember this one from a year ago---it won so many awards for being such a riveting, well-written story (by the same gifted woman who gave us Seasbiscuit.) One could hardly find a better book for a WW II era vet, or anyone interested in the engrossing story of being shot down in the Pacific, tortured in a Japanese prison camp, and finding faith after years of anguish.  Louis Zamperini was an Olympic hero before the war, and yet his greatest triumph was surviving, and then forgiving, those who abused him as a POW.  The adventure is awesome, and horrific story, which goes from bad to worse, leaves you panting, the writing is just spectacular.  Mr. Zamperini is a truly amazing man (google him and watch the youtube videos) and nearly any man would appreciate being gifted with this story, a story that really is of survival and resilience, and--thanks be to God--bone fide and glad redemption.  What a book!


crossed lives crossed purposes.jpgCrossed Lives--Crossed Purposes: Why Thomas Jefferson Failed and William Wilberforce Persisted in Leading an End to Slavery  Ray Blunt (Resource Publication) $37.00/ H&M sale price, $27.00  I've written about this before, too---a new book by a good friend, a gentleman and a scholar, as they say, who draws leadership principles from these two colleagues whose lives ended up so differently.  We hope to have the author do a presentation on this fascinating book here at the shop perhaps in the fall.  It's intriguing enough that we want our customers to hear all about it as it raises vital questions, about history, about the worldviews of Jefferson and Wilberforce, and about what kept them going, year by year.  One of the big take-aways, by the way, is that Wilberforce not only was an evangelical Christian with historically sound doctrine, but he had community; friends.  Jefferson had a less than orthodox faith and, frankly, few true and lasting friends.  This is a study that breaks new ground, a great book for anyone interested in history, in faith-based social action, or in leadership.  Get for yourself or or give the book to someone soon.  Please note: our special discounted price on Crossed Lives, shown above, is better than the 20% off offered on all the others, so that is the final discount.

dallas and the spitfire.pngDallas and the Spitfire: An Old Car, and Ex-Con, and an Unlikely Friendship  Ted Kluck & Dallas Jahncke (Bethany Publishing House) $14.99  This is an fine book in a great genre---like a "buddy movie" sort of, and fun for any guy.  This tells of a solid Christian fellow discipling a messed up, druggie, ex-con. But, wait, this relationship isn't all that simple---the ex-con teaches the Christian guy a bunch: it is not a "how to mentor" guidebook or a one-sided inspiration tale.  It is the narrative of a friendship, a messy and funny biography of this crazy dream of fixing up an old car and learning of God's great grace through it all.  This is story which is ore profound perhaps even than it wants to be. ("At the risk of embarrassing these nitty-gritty guys, this is ultimately a story about love," writes Justin Taylor.)  Kluck is a good writer (whose stuff has been seen in the ESPN magazine.)  D and the Spitfire really is a wild tale, profoundly informed by good theology, and a true love for that old Triumph Spitfire.  One reviewer quipped it seemed like "Good Will Hunting meets John Owen" and if you get that, you know this book is for you. 


the searchers.jpgThe Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt Joseph Laconte (Nelson) $24.99  Loconte is well-known and respected on the deep end of the blogosphere, a prolific conservative pundit on political and cultural concerns.  Here, he uses his notable skills and brilliant mind to come up with a book that is genius--well written and creatively conceived, about hope. It is a beautiful, good piece of work.

Consider what Eric Metaxas (I assume you've given his Bonhoeffer away as a gift already) writes:

Every once in a while a book comes along that is so elegant and beautiful and vital that you can't imagine the world without it.  Joe Loconte's The Searchers is a masterpiece, one of those rare books you will want to give to almost anyone, believers and non-believers alike. It overflows with wisdom and information about the very thing that makes us human, our search for meaning in the universe. 

Wow, how 'bout that?  Do you have a somewhat inquisitive, educated, thoughtful dad?  Skeptic or disciple, as Eric notes, this is really a great book to give.  Each chapter starts with a short report of a person or episode, and from there wonderfully ruminates and explores and teaches, offering authentic, serious, solid, hope.  As Os Guinness puts it, this brand new hardback is "fresh, powerful, and often hauntingly beautiful... [written by] a poet philosopher." 


artificial maturity.jpgArtificial Maturity: Helping Kids Meet the Challenge of Becoming Authentic Adults Tim Elmore (Jossey Bass) $24.95  Tim has become one of the leading speakers and writers on the transition into young adulthood; he does leadership training, especially for college students, and has his own ministry teaching leadership principles (even to children, by the way.)  This is work that might catapult him to great fame as it explores---on a prestigious publisher, well known for doing the likes of, say, Parker Palmer---how to parent in a way that helps kids grow up into something other than what he calls "artificial maturity."  As Mary Gerardy, a dean at Wake Forest, puts it, "Without question, this is the right book, tackling the right subject, written by the right person, and delivered at the right time."

I think this book is useful for any leader in business, education, government, ministry, and the like, but it is---this Father's Day---also ideal for those serious about parenting.  In a nutshell, the context of his book is that the iY generation (kids raised in a world of the internet and ipods) and the Homelanders (those born after 9-11) have been exposed to more information than any generation heretofore, but have not necessarily been able to process the information coherently.  What do you do with what we know? How do we impart wisdom so that the highly-informed can handle living in such a hot-wired world?    Elmore claims that many kids (including young adults) are not only overexpose to info/data, but are underexposed to meaningful relationships and real-life experiences.  This overexposed/underexposed paradox is the starting point for his helpful advice.  I think Artificial Maturity is a very interesting book, important for teachers, youth workers, and, of course, parents. 


uncommon manhood.jpgUnCommon Manhood: Secrets to What it Means to Be a Man  Tony Dungy  (Tyndale) $12.99 Who doesn't admire Tony Dungy, famed football coach, leadership guru, and thoughtful Christian teacher? He's got other, bigger books and studies, but this trim-sized gift book offers short excerpts, quotes, meditations and reflections, enhanced with great graphic design, colorful pages, and pictures galore.  The pictures are beautifully printed, includes folks of various races (thank you, Tyndale!) and makes a great, great gift.  Know any young men verging on authentic manhood?  New dads?  Dungy fans?  Guys graduating for whom you need a little gift?  This could be given to your dad, or, if you are a dad, you could give it to your son.  Father's Day or not, this is a handsome, upbeat, colorful book, and we are happy to suggest it. 

By the way, might I say just a word about race, here?  Above, I just applauded the artful, multi-cultural pictures in this book.  I said that, well, because it does show a diverse range of men, but also because there is an African American man and his boy on the cover.  Does this mean that the book is only for black guys?  Pu-leeze.  I know most BookNotes readers are not so stunted in imagination, but I want to put it here in black and white: people of color buy books with white folks on the covers all the time.  I'd like to not have to mention it, but you know the complexities of these things.  So there ya go.  Buy the book, no matter what your skin tone.  In fact, women are allowed to buy it too, and give it to a guy they love.  But be warned, there is an even more radical diversity in here: there are pictures of tough jocks and firefighters and mountain climbers, and there are photos of musicians and men playing with kids.  Three cheers!


Things We wish we had said.jpgThings We Wish We Had Said: Reflections of a Father and a Son  Tony & Bart Campolo  (Authentic) $14.99  I've written before how much I love this book, and how happy we were a year or so ago when it was re-issued.  This is a wonderful set of letters back and forth between the famous, funny evangelist and his honest, radical son.  Both express there great love for one another, the way Tony's wholistic vision of faith and politically progressive work effected their family.  Bart expresses some frustrations---it hit me, too, since, I too, like many of us, haven't been away for work more than we may have wished---and this candor makes it a stronger book.  There are two very dynamic men and their inspiring conversations make fabulous reading.  Highly recommended.

hiking thru.jpgHiking Through: One Man's Journey to Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail Paul Stutzman (Revell) $13.99  This is a very, very nice memoir of a guy whose wife died of cancer and, in part to cope with his grief, and to reconsider his life, he sets off to hike the AT--a "through hike" as it is called, meaning the whole 2,176 miles of it.  This was a very popularly self-published book, especially among avid backpackers (or those who read about the famous trail.)  It doesn't happen as often as people think is does: a self-published book got picked up by a real press, it was given a new cover and, here ya go: a good as new amazing book with a proven track record.  I think any outdoorsy guy would like it.  It's full of good nature writing, descriptions of the grueling trip, and great stories of all the characters he meets along the way.  Highly recommended.

fly-fishing.jpgFly Fishing--the Sacred Art of Casting a Fly as a Spiritual Practice  Rabbi Eric Eisenkramer and Rev. Michael Attas  (Skylight Paths) $16.99  This publisher is an interfaith outfit, a bit playful, who does easy-to-read books about spiritual practices, attending to God's presence in the ordinary.  In this new book, to serious fly fisherman---one a Rabbi, the other an Episcopal priest (and medical doctor.)  If you want to learn a bit more about this artful fishing style, tying flies, or being better stewards of rivers and streams, if you love the idea of fishing combined with faith, this is a great, great resource.  Fun, full of (tall?) fish tales and some meditative ideas about finding God in the outdoors.  I hope you know that we carry other books like that, from evangelical and from interfaith perspectives, on all sorts of outdoor adventure stuff.  Call if us if you need other ideas...


earth_works.jpegEarth Works: Selected Essays  Scott Russell Sanders (Indiana University Press) $25.00  As we curate our selections, we occasionally find authors that fit us wonderfully, that are both people of faith and notable in their fields, great thinkers and great writers, deep and dear.  Sander's won me over years ago when I read a few of his essays about a sense of place (and adored his book about homemaking, Staying Put.) This is a recent anthology, collecting much of his extensive writing career of nature writing, conservation, literary and cultural criticism and memoir.  He's friends with Wendell Berry (if that helps you place his voice and vision) and Terry Tempest Williams, and the back cover includes glad raves from Kathleen Dean Moore, Lewis Hyde.  If your dad likes the literary, environmentalist magazine, Orion, this is a must-have book; he'll be surprised and impressed, I bet.  If he doesn't, this is a great way to introduce him to an American hero.


my-brothers-keeper-what-social-sciences-do-dont-mary-stewart-van-leeuwen-paperback-cover-art.jpgMy Brother's Keeper: What the Social Sciences Do (and Don't) Teach Us About Masculinity Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen (IVP) $17.00  This is an amazing book, a serious example of distinctively Christian research, rooted well in a neo-Calvinist, Reformed worldview, with solid grasp of the feminist insights on the literature about men and men's studies.  It is more insightful and balanced than many books on this topic.  We have reasons to be fond of this important book---well, okay, we get a shout out in it---and really appreciate her classic, Gender and Grace so we're happy to share it with anyone who is up for this serious bit of innovative, critical, gender studies scholarship. Van Leeuwen is a professor at Eastern University in St. Davids, PA.  Offer expires June 15, 2012.


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June 16, 2012

A rumination, good books mentioned, and then two great books reviewed: Go and Do (Don Everts) and Everyday Mission (Leroy Barber)


Everybody wants to find purpose and passion and meaning these days, and many church folks---inspired by many good speakers, conferences, books, websites and blogs---see this search for meaning and the desire to leave a legacy as integrally related to the call of Jesus the Risen Lord to "follow me."  Jesus didn't say that he came in order to take us to heaven for everlasting bliss, but to recruit working witnesses to the salvage operation He was doing in and of the world; His gospel was "the gospel of the Kingdom."  To realize that following Jesus as ambassadors of His Kingdom and that that is a story which is bigger and better than the American dream is said more often these days, and I think our old tune is getting played more and more.  Thanks be to God.  I think more folks these days realize that we are to discover meaning and purpose and direction and joy by making much of God, by serving His world, in every area of society and culture; fewer and fewer church folks want a nominal faith that doesn't have real-world traction.  I think this desire for faith to really matter, to hunger for an awakening that helps us make a difference in the world seems to be the case across the theological and denominational spectrum; we hear this from Russ Douthart to Diana Butler Bass, from John Piper to Jim Wallis, all in their own way calling us to a search for a meaningful, intelligent faith that has fruitful implications for our life in the world.  As you might guess, we are glad to offer books for this journey, fuel for the fire. 

For way too long, in too many faith traditions, this very human task of making meaning, of determining the viability of the story we find ourselves in, however, has been oddly disconnected from our heart-felt professions at church, our heart-felt proclamations in worship.   You may recall that line from Death of a Salesman, about the fellow that "dreamed the wrong dreams."  Sadly, some still attend church, claiming a faith for their personal lives, but are living in their public lives as if that story isn't really true, or has no necessary implications for "the real world."  We dream the wrong dreams, arrange our lives in light of the wrong story.  There has been a disconnect, based on a dualism: Sunday does not connect with Monday; religion doesn't really relate, it just comforts us in our private lives, in our heart, as they say.  As I said, I think this is changing. 

Some of the books we've reviewed here over the years have helped (we have been told) as folks see that faith is to be integrated into all of life, that Christ is Lord of each zone of human activity, public and private.  Some authors really are helping people see the natural connection between creation (life in the world), our fallenness (our idols and brokenness, sins and stupidity) and redemption (the promised restoration Christ brings to the entire cosmos.)  You've heard us quote Abraham Kuyper's "every square inch" phrase; we were "early adopters" of that Kuyperian worldview.  Still, there are those who don't quite realize that Christ does indeed claim "every square inch" so we continue on, talking, inviting folks to deeper considerations, naming authors who help us unpack this in one way or another.  Christian faith does help us relate to all of life in new ways.  From Barbara Brown Taylor to Leslie Newbigin, from Francis Schaeffer to Brian McLaren, from Dallas Willard to Tim Keller,  Margo Starbuck to C. S. Lewis, Miroslov Volf to Phyllis TIckle, each in their own way help us piece things together --- so many authors, read with discernment, can help us make sense of faith in a way that speaks to "hearts and minds" and allows faith to be big enough to frame and direct the unfolding of each aspect of our lives.

Recently, we've noticed a lot of books that happily encourage people to see their faith as more than a "Sunday" thing.   I'm all for that, as you can tell, but it is growing tiresome, all these uplifting promises of a grand life, a meaningful life, a big life, this call to take faith to the next level, to be great, big, mighty.  This new genre seems big on vision, but frankly meager on substance.  Everybody is writing about making a difference, standing up, living for the gospel.  Don't Waste Your Life (John Piper), Radical (Richard Platt) Crazy Love (Francis Chan) and Not a Fan (Kyle Idleman) are among the better of these feisty calls to serious discipleship (although none have the staying power of, oh, say, The Cost of Discipleship by Bonhoeffer or the reasonable, sound books by John Stott.) So many recently popular books are just kicking us in the collective backside, chiding us to get going, live large, trust God for miracles and in faith set our sails.  We can do this!  Be great!  Make a difference! Life in light of eternity!  God will help you find your destiny!  Blah, blah, blah.

Again, I am glad that people are seeing that faith is lived out in the here and now, day by day.  People are less likely these days to talk about their "personal, private" faith as if it doesn't impact their work, voting, or entertainment choices.  Still, there is that disconnect out there, a sense that what we do outside of the walls of the church is somehow not as important as churchy stuff. And that is what I think we should be vigilant about, read up one, dig deep into.

Indeed, just for instance, one recent book helpfully documents how many business people and those who work in the corporate world feel ignored (or even betrayed) because it seems that their church and pastor don't seem to care much about equipping them to live faithfully in their complex, significant working lives.  See: How the Church Fails Businesspeople (And What Can Be Done About It) by John C. Knapp (Eerdmans; $15.00.)  This is a very important new book, and I think may be more important in the long run than a dozen of the big name popular books calling us to high-energy, mega-church, big-time visions of making a difference. It is written by a person who has worked in the business world, and is also a theologian, helping the church bridge the divide, so to speak, between worship and work, between church and world.  Here is a nice youtube clip of the author explaining about the book.  It isn't off-the-charts spiffy, not a lot of hip bluster, just good, solid reporting of how the ethos of many congregations seems indifferent to the public lives of most members.

Rousing cheerleading type books promising great joy in making a difference for God can only take us so far.  More "basic Christian living" books aren't enough; restating that the gospel is all we need isn't enough. Formulaic books about church renewal aren't enough. We need a better analysis of what went wrong (with this dualistic disconnect) and how we got hoodwinked into the secularism of our age, and how a truly Christian worldview can help us discover coherent lifestyle in the real world, imagining our lives in audacious ways that are, yet, grounded, informed, plausible.

Going a bit deeper, then, there are complicated historical and philosophical reasons for this painful disconnect, this gaping dichotomy in the religious imagination of so many (on both the left and the right, the mainline churches and the evangelical ones.) There are serious books that explain the history of the sacred vs secular dualisms that cause us to compartmentalize our faith into one corner of our life, that help us realize where we've gone wrong and what totransforming vision.jpg do about it, in ways that are consistent with the apostolic tradition and the historic tenants of the faith.  (That is, we don't need to jettison the core convictions, as some say, or deconstruct historic orthodoxy.)  Diagnosing the foundational problem, the root problem, is important.  I think The Transforming Vision: Developing a Christian Worldview by Brian Walsh & Richard Middleton (IVP; $16.00) is still one of the very best books to help us with this very thing. I wish more of us, Hearts & Minds friends, fans, and BookNotes readers, had this telling of this tale under our communal belts.  It would help, I think, to share (or at least to be well aware of) the interpretive moves Walsh & Middleton make to understand why privatizing faith isn't faithful, and why western culture's service of idols and ideologies of the Enlightenment, deformed and demoralized not only the culture, but the church as well.  To see how they picktruth is stranger.gif up the story in an even more complex way, taking it into the 21st century, see their magnificent Truth Is Stranger Than It Used to Be: Biblical Faith in a Postmodern Age (IVP; $22.00.)  This is one of the best books for serious thinkers trying to make sense of the cultural drifts in our times, and how faithful followers of Jesus can live into His ways even in a hyper-modern hot-wired technological culture.  

I think, by the way, that these two books are very good to read prior to, or alongside, the recently popular stuff about the "prophetic imagination" by Walter Brueggemann---stuff like Out of Babylon (Abingdon; $14.99) or Journey to the Common Good (Westminister/John Knox.)  Heck, Brueggemann's old book The Bible Makes Sense (St. Anthony Messenger Press; $10.95)) starts off with two different sorts of worldviews, two life-stories that most of us tend toward, that explain our role in Western culture differently, and how those predispositions will effect how we read our Bibles.  Good stuff.

the call.jpgMore inspirationally I'd say, but equally profound, is an all-time favorite, Os Guinness' The Call: Finding and Fulfilling Your Life's Purpose (Nelson; $17.99) which, again, is a book we come back to again and again, when we want to help customers realize how faith is a big, exciting, drama, and discerning our role in it all is part of our life's task.  Guinness shows, in lovely and elegant meditations, with remarkable illustrations and examples from the worlds of science and literary, poetry and art, politics and commerce, how living fully for Christ in all areas of life---and then finding one's own "secondary calling" which is our own particular sense of vocation---is what is taught in the Bible, even if we don't hear it enough in most churches.  "My utmost for His highest" indeed! 

Did you know that Os the prominent sociologist and cultural critic was named for the passionate preacher and devotional writer, Oswald Chambers (who wrote My Utmost for His Highest?)  Again, Guinness is always important to read (and he has a new book coming soon), not least this classic book on calling.  His description of how the gospel impacts "everyone, everywhere, in everything" is so helpful; he has a chapter telling of how some 16th century priests locked the doors of their church so that people would stop feeling like they had to come back to church each day, that their real mission in life was to serve God in the real world. His very moving story about an Irish farmer plowing such beautiful rows is such a testimony to the power of a seamless simple life, lived well before God. This book is important because of the good ground it covers, it's nicely written style, and the helpful stories that illustrate these profound, essential truths.

I've told you before about Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Commonkingdom calling.gif Good by Amy Sherman (IVP; $16.00.)  This is not the place to restate in detail the many strengths of this valuable book, but I note it just to remind you that there is a renaissance these days of rich and thoughtful books about calling and career, and about social change and the common good.  This is a book that every church leader should have in his or her lending library as it lays out not only a robust theology of the common good, and a serious study of notions of vocation and calling, but also because it--unlike quite any book I know--calls for lay folks to really make a difference in their workplace, as servants, leaders, whistle-blowers, reformers, or creative social innovators.  It affirms a "bloom where you're planted" approach, but offers other pathways toward making a Kingdom difference in the local economy. How exciting to have these several models explained and explored, offering dreams and visions of how we can make a difference, how we can steward the ideas of vocation and calling, into actual service for human flourishing.  I'm thankful for Ms Sherman's astute approach and her very inspiring case studies.  What a good resource this is!

Recently, one of the most talked about books in this whole arena of worldview formation,d the k.gif discerning vocation, living out the calling of God into all of life is James K.A. Smith's Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation (BakerAcademic; $21.99.)  Every few years (heck maybe only once a decade or so) a book comes along that is a real must-read for thoughtful Christians, that is shaping the conversation in significant ways, in deed, that alters the conversation in significant ways.  I have argued before that Smith's book (the first of a three part series) is one of those kind of very significant and generative books.  It is a serious read, demanding (he is a professor of philosophy, after all) but important. To be informed about the nature of faith and discipleship and cultural engagement these days one simply must be aware of DtK.

Smith is often cited and discussed much these days although not every agrees with all of his views.  As with any vanguard author, there are reviews that are glowing, sometimes he is considered with circumspect.  He reminds us that the transforming vision, the call of the Lord Jesus (to link two previously-mentioned books, which is my little rhetoric pleasure here, not that Jamie does this overtly) are not just matters of "seeing" or "hearing."  In deed, we must embody the faith, we must learn the habits of heart that come from thick, meaningful litanies.  What rituals shape your imagination most---your trip to church on Sunday morning, say, or your trips to the mall or the sports arena or multiplex or grocery store? Don't those "secular litanies" inform us and train us to "see" and "hear" the world in certain ways?  Walsh & Middleton, Brueggemann, and Os Guinness, too, are very valuable, but we need Smith's powerful insights about the influence of the world's formative habits on our (embodied) discipleship.  Not, however, to escape the world, but to be aware, and to find a counter-narrative, a better story, more wise and durable liturgies, that can shape our heart's desires so we "hunger and thirst after righteousness" and live to be an agent of the King. Desiring the Kingdom is really an amazing book.

Here, by the way, is a rambling, honest, interesting conversation with Jamie about a whole lot of things, interviewed on American Public Media by Krista Tippett.  If you like to listen to articulate conversation while you're at your computer, this really is very nice.  It isn't about the DtK book, which wasn't written at the time of this interview, but it illustrates why we like him. 

I don't have to tell our readers that one of the important contributions of the British BiblicalHow-God-Became-King-202x300.jpgSimply-Jesus.jpg scholar -- and H&M pal -- N. T. Wright is exactly related to these themes:  he explains that the gospel accounts tell us of a Jesus who was the long-awaited Messiah and liberator of ancient Israel, who came to announce and inaugurate a Kingdom come "on Earth as it is in Heaven."  I can't say enough about the last two important Wright books, Simply Jesus (HarperOne; $24.95) and How God Became King (HarperOne; $25.95) which both open up this theme consistently in light of careful study of the gospels.  We find our meaning not in just ramping up our enthusiasm for God, but by wisely finding our place in His coming Kingdom, by discerning our calling, knowing that it is something other than the conformed imaginations of the North American ideologies, value-systems, and ways of thinking. (Cue in Romans 12:1-2 here, please.)  We need a transforming vision and transformed lives, renewed minds and embodied faith!  But somehow, this means we have to be more intentional and knowledgeable about what the Bible teaches about creation, covenant, Israel, Christ, church, mission, and new creation.  N.T. Wright has a great gift, and knowing his work will be life changing for some, I am sure.  Read these two books this summer---you'll be glad you did!  They are thoughtful and meaty, but not too academic or arcane.  Perfect!

Well, this is heavy stuff for a weekend, eh?  

Sorry to be pondering all this, but I gave a talk a few days ago to a group of graduate students (in the Higher Education Degree (HED) Program Geneva College in Beaver Falls, PA) who are grappling with these very matters as they attempt to think about serving God well in higher education (including in the informal networks and places that fall under the rubric of student affairs.)  They, themselves, as professionals in higher education, want to have a Kingdom vision, and live out a Kingdom calling, in their vocations in institutions of higher learning, and they want to be an influence among the students with whom they work.  It was a privilege to ponder with them stuff like Steve Garber's profound book that wonderfully raises these life-long questions---The Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior (IVP; $16.00) or the easy-to-read but very, very good The Next Christians by Gabe Lyon,shaping journey of emerging adults.gif now out in paperback with a new chapter on civility (Multnomah; $14.99.)  As you might guess, the very good, and very helpful, You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving the Church and Rethinking Faith by David Kinnaman (Baker; $17.99) came up, and I highly recommended it for anyone who works with younger adults.  A bit more specialized, I showed them what I take to be the best book for understanding young adults, Shaping the Journey of Emerging Adults: Life-Giving Rhythms for Spiritual Formation, Richard Dunn & Jana L. Sundene (IVP; $18.00.) What a wonderfully written, lovely, provocative book.

I naturally suggested that these folks who run dorms and student clubs and who work under the student affairs deans at their various colleges, use Make College Count: A Faithful Guide to Life and make-college-count-a-faithful-guide-to-life-and-learning.jpgLiving by Derek Melleby (Baker; $12.99) since it offers guidance about these very things for those transitioning from high school to college.  You know we think it is ideal for anyone just out of high-school, making their way to college, although it's a good read for any first year collegiate, for that matter.  Derek, you see, has himself been somewhat informed by the sorts of things I've noted above, perhaps even by the likes of Brian Walsh & Richard Middleton, Walter Brueggemann, Jamie Smith, Os Guinness, N.T. Wright.  You don't have to have read any of those authors (let alone agree with them all) to appreciate Make College Count, but it is interesting that Melleby took these big ideas and teased out some of the implications for adolescents making their way to young adulthood.  I think it is remarkably good, and glad that I got to give it a shout out while at this HED program. 

So I talked at Geneva College about some of my favorite Bible passages, told a few stories about decisive moments in my own life when I came to increasing awareness about the relevance and reforming and restoring power of Jesus' Kingdom teaching.  I called on them to take up their vocations as professionals in higher education by reading widely and thinking deeply about all the issues that come up in their own settings and context.  Which is why I'm now reminding you of a few of these pretty foundational books that make up our story here at Hearts & Minds, the kind of take on things we are most excited about and most commend to you, our friends and supporters.

We think these are the kinds of books that are most fruitful and valuable for most of the churches, college fellowships, Bible studies or small affinity groups that we know of.  More cheerleading for passion, more insistence we should engage culture, more enthusiasm alone is not enough.  We need quiet empowerment by the Spirit of God and we need well rooted in good reading and sophisticated analysis of the crisis of faith in our times.  I love the ones I mentioned above.  But wait, there's more.


Perhaps here is yet another way into this heavy conversation: think of the ways that evangelicals recently have been encouraging followers of Jesus to think of their role as humans made in the image of a Creator-God, folks who, in small and larger ways, are invited to create, steward, and enhance human flourishing and our shared culture. We are made to be involved in making the world a better place, being creative, engaged, as we say nowadays.

 No one book culture making.jpgindicates this shift better than (again) one that is a personal favorite, written by a friend and hero of mine, a journalist and author named Andy Crouch.  I know you know about our appreciation for Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling (IVP; $23.00) as we have promoted it often. We have shown this book at church conference, amongst college groups, to artists and social reform groups and ordinary churches.  We do so again, here, as part of this reflection about why we need foundational, solid, readable books that can help us find coherence and Biblical guidance for all of life; we think it is one of books on the short list of titles that will help the recent interest in purpose and passion get grounded, be effective, going beyond fluff to substance.  I can't say how very important I think this one is, and how foundational this book is to the story we are trying to tell here at Hearts & Minds.  If you haven't read it, we suggest it heartily.  Besides it being a helpful book about being engaged in doing meaningful work and contributing to the common good, it also illustrates the caliber of the conversation we've come to appreciate in recent years.  It is nicely written (Crouch is an excellent journalist and very, very smart) but has a light touch.  It isn't overly academic.  Three cheers!

Although he doesn't cite Andy Crouch, he could have.  This recent talk by the acclaimed artist, Makoto Fujimura, the video clip offered below, is a fabulous way intorefractions.jpg this conversation about learning to see Christian faith as somehow more than a Sunday morning religion, but a living relationship with Christ that compels us to be creative, to social concern, learning to be "salt and light" in the secularized, pluralistic culture.  Yes, this worldviewish way of life I'm ruminating upon is well captured by IAM founder, painter and cultural organizer, Mako.  We here at H&M have all of Mako's books; his most famous is Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art and Culture (NavPress; $24.99) and it is truly one of the most precious books we've sold in our 29 years here in Dallastown.  His "refractions" journal entries are wise and interesting and beautiful and good. If we are going to get all fired up about cultural engagement, as so many books and websites and movements now insist, we sure better be passing out books like this, so folks know what it looks like to take faith into the artistic marketplace. 

Listen to Mako Fujimura, who gave a very thoughtful invitation to graduates of Bioloa University in their recent commencement ceremony.  He invites students to ask "What will you make today" but he does not say it cheaply.  Mako links the (transgressive) effort of being creative to, also, the suffering of 9-11, and to our own opportunity to think about our contribution to the world.  Mako embodies as an artist and as a public thinker some of these same themes of calling, passion for gospel transformation, cultural renewal and distinctly Christian thinking about our vocation in the world.  This really is a fine, sober, and very interesting address; the host's introduction is a bit long, but very nicely done, as well.  Enjoy!

Okay, I've laid out a way of thinking about faith and discipleship and culture that suggests we would be better equipped if we read important books about worldview and calling, about "the fabric of faithfulness" and being attentive to the shape of our desires and longings, as we see ourselves as culture makers, serving the common good.  These sorts of books are generative and important: they are the books that have been influential for many of the folks I most esteem.  They are proven and transforming, at least to those who want to dig a bit deeper and broader.  I am confident that they will go a long way beyond the sorts of "cheer-leading" books that are popular these days, that just say that we should live with passion and abandon for God, but don't really offer much substance or insight.  And they are broader than those that are merely engaged in the project of getting theology re-done (either as liberals or conservatives.)  We need some handles and models of what it all means and what it looks likes, and these books provide just the needed backdrop for lasting renewal and reformation in our day.

Yet, another way many authors, preachers, and faith-based pundits are exploring how honoring the Lordship of Christ should be an all-encompassing way of life, a way of seeing and perceiving, a way of being and a way of living, is less by talking about worldview and wholistic, embodied living, but just by ramping up the call to discipleship and the implications of that.  They (and here is the somewhat new and essential twist) explain discipleship as missional. Not as a formula for personal growth, or for every-increasing interest in the church, or even as the process of being changed into Christlikeness in our innermost selves--although any gospel-center vision will, of course, have that impact, described very well by Jerry Bridges in, say, Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God's Unfailing Love (Navpress: $14.99.)  Missional discipleship is on the move, active, multi-dimensional.  We are hearing now that discipleship is essential outward, being sent, being agents, ambassadors, life-long learners in the Way; discipleship is a journey, a walk into life with others and God for the sake of others. We are being invited to not only practice spiritual disciplines, but to embrace new practices of living. This vision is insisting that discipleship means we are all on a mission from God.  Get on those Blue's Brother's shades, and join the adventure: no longer dare we suggest that just missionaries are missionaries.  In the missional age, we are all missionaries.  We are, as Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi say, "on a mission from God."

I've mentioned before books that take the "missional church" approaches for congregations,alandmike.jpg and apply those models to daily discipleship.  This is a notable trend in the last year or so, and there are numerous studies of this. 

For instance, this powerful trio of books is very, very important, written by authors who have been innovative, pioneer leaders---the Blues Brothers of the missional church movement, I'd say.

You untamed i.gifshould know Untamed: Reactivating a Missional Form of Discipleship by Alan and Debra Hirsch (Shapevine / Baker;$14.99) and Right Here, Right Now: Everyday Mission for Everyday People by Alan Hirsch & Lance Ford (Shapevine / Baker; $14.99) or The Faith of Leap: Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure and Courage by Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch (Shapevine / Baker; $16.99.) 

These are very, very important books, exciting, to be sure, but also rooted in
transformational theory, insights about cultural shifts, and awareness right here right now i.gifof what sort of practices allow us to be effective in bearing witness to the work God is doing among us. 

This new publishing imprint (Shapevine) specializes in this serious stuff.  In other words, they are, at times, a bit heady, and rooted in very solid theory.  For those who like meaty stuff, they really, truly, are essential reads.  They are based on earlier "missional church" thinking, and apply those philosophies of church life to our life in Christ as leaders in the Kingdom.

faith of leap i.gif


But, having said all that, and offering that overview of some important resources to enhanceivp-likewise.png your missional vision for daily discipleship, here is what I am most excited to tell you about.  Here are two fantastic books about this whole "missional living" - whole life discipleship, active, engaged, servanthood lifestyle.  They are both fairly new, and I fully love them both.  I applaud the Likewise imprint of InterVarsity Press for bringing to us these sorts of upbeat, exciting, and challenging resources. (We carry all the Likewise books in their whole line, by the way.)  I hope many folks order these two, share them with others, helping us cast a vision for people learning to live missionally, radically, in and for Christ, in acts of daily discipleship.  Read these, order them, share them.  They are fun and worthwhile. And better than a lot of the "same old, same old" stuff.  They are visionary and practical and astute, more than just cheerleading or offering cheap formulas.

LBarber-200x300.jpgEveryday Missions: How Ordinary People Can Change the World  Leroy Barber (IVP) $15.00  First, the cool news: this has a retro cover with a goofy car heading over a map, the type font screaming as if a vintage movie poster for a 1940s horror show.  What fun.  Okay, there's that.  Now to the great news.  

This book is great!  It should be taken seriously as one of the most important and helpful and truly good books of the year.  Leroy is a hero to many of us, a friend, in fact, to so, so many, but yet he isn't exceedingly well known as an author (yet.).  If this book were on a super famous publisher and issued in hardback with an oh-so-classy dust jacket, it might be taken more seriously---but that isn't how Leroy rolls.  He's down to earth, fun-loving, keeping it real.  But he is also a bundle of energy. Barber is an urban activist, cultural innovator (he started an upscale looking coffee shop in his urban Atlanta 'hood) and an African American leader.  He's the President of the rightly-famous Mission Year, overseeing their several houses of young adults living simply in service in some of the nation's worst ghettos, although before that he started Restoration Ministries in Philadelphia, and, more recently, founded the Atlanta Youth Academies.  Barber is esteemed amongst the best urban workers in the country, from Bob Lupton to Shane Claiborne.  He's been on main stage at events from Catalyst to Jubilee, Q to the annual conferences of CCDA.  

We have promoted his first book, which is an exceptionally handsome small book full of artfulLeroy Barber.jpg b/w photographs with moving meditations about the journey from alienation to reconciliation, set in the inner city.  That rare small volume was called The New Neighbor (Mission Year; $14.99) and showcased his poetic lines, his heart, his vision, as he helps people move towards the beloved community. Very artsy.

This new one, Everyday Missions, was for me so inspiring and I really think our readers---that would be you!---will enjoy it and be blessed by it.  I want to highly recommend it, for at least three reasons.

Firstly, it is full of vibrant writing, good stories, powerful examples, practical advise that you most likely need.  This is no arm-chair thesis, it is written on the run, down on the street, in the trenches.  I respect a guy who can turn a well-chosen phrase and footnote recent studies and make a clear case for his ideas without loosing heart and soul.  I'm here to tell ya, Leroy's got heart and soul.  And he knows that we simply must be wise in any daily endeavor to serve God, so he has sections on "blending in versus standing out" and "risking safety."  I love the chapter--apropos of all I wrote above---called "Job Versus Calling."  He has chapters dealing with money, with time, and very eloquently with being guided by God, inviting God to guide our best dreams and aspirations ("Two kinds of dreaming.")  You will enjoy this book!

Secondly, the book is grounded in the Bible.  Barber loves the Scriptures and his compassionate urban work comes from the obvious verses about reaching out to the needy neighbor and caring for the peace of the city.  But he goes a bit further, offering insights on Biblical characters, bringing their hopes and dreams and challenges and failures and faith into our own day.  Check out his chapter of Moses called "Kingdom Imagination" or the one which he calls, sounding all the world like Eugene Peterson, "God-confidence" (David.) He talks about Esther and Peter in a section entitled "Spirit-Led Mentors" and it is thrilling and informative. I think you will be glad how he opens up the Bible in creative and helpful ways.

Thirdly, this book both incorporates social concern, passion for the poor, Biblical teaching on justice and reconciliation, but it is not written for urban activists or Shane Claiborne wannabes.  It is for you, no matter where you live--as the subtitle puts it, "ordinary people."  Leroy, in many ways, is like his old boss, Tony Campolo (founder of Mission Year) who calls many to lives of great sacrifice, but also invites all of us--butcher, baker, candlestick maker--to lives of joyous service, too.  Whether one is a suburban housewife, a college student perplexed about how to pick a major, or a professional well established in a career and congregation, these stories, this instruction, this wisdom, will help you live out your faith. It really is for "ordinary people."   I like Campolo's line that this "how those of us in the pew can become radical followers of Jesus in our everyday lives."  And Bob Lupton's blurb, who writes,

Provoking ---in the very best sense of the word---this hopeful, can-do book inspires readers to risk pursuing their created purpose and discover their true source of meaning.

go and do everts.jpgGo and Do: Becoming a Missional Christian  Don Everts (IVP) $15.00  Okay, the retro rocket ship on the cover is cool in some Jetson's kind of way.  And the tag-line on the back, "God Has a Mission.  And You Are Part of It." couldn't be clearer.  As we get a glimpse of the vision of what Jesus is doing---He is alive and well, you know---we get to "go and do likewise," as He once put it.

Go and do likewise.  Well, that isn't as easy as it sounds, so we need some guidance, some handles, some help.  Don Everts is a very enthusiastic speaker, a great leader, and a man a bit humbled by a few decades of experimenting, trying to reach out, serving, sometimes failing, always learning.  He has written popular, poetic books---the small paperbacks Jesus With Dirty Feet and The Smell of Sin are tremendous---and he has co-written a very helpful book based on research about barriers and hurdles which postmodern collegiates need to overcome before they are open to even consider the claims of Christian truth. (That is called I Once Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Paths To Jesus  IVP; $15.00.)  And, he has others (a set of four short books of his own philosophical ramblings, the "One Guy's Head" series about the Bible and truth) as well a great hardback, an overview of the life of Jesus called God in the Flesh.  He's a good writer.  

Everts is now minister of outreach at Bonhomme Presbyterian Church in ChesterfieldEvertsFamily.jpg Missouri, where he especially helps folks discover a passion for local evangelism and global justice.  

This great book has two clear parts.  Each chapter is full of stories and builds step by step.  The vision is broad and colorful and multi-faceted, but the book is clear, sober, instructional. There is impeccable logic and wonderful stories, some very poignant.

Part one explains what we mean by the word  missional (even though he admits to considerable discomfort with the now-faddish, oddball word.)  And, more to the point, how to be the kind of person that cares about God's purposes, and has a chance of being effective at advancing Christ's redemptive work.  He calls this section "Anatomy" because he looks at various body parts as images and metaphors; exploring parts of who we are that have to be transformed by God.  He helps us get Sober Eyes, Servant Hands, Ready Feet, a Compassionate Heart and a Joyful Soul.  This is not cheesy, by the way, although I suppose it could seem that way.  It's really good material! I think this could be a great design for a sermon series or class, and on its own would be well worth the admission price.  He talks about these aspects of our character and how we are to live faithfully as God's own, seeing and caring, and being; knowing and doing.  He develops with clear teaching and touching stories, including honest admissions from Everts himself about his own struggles and failures and some provisional successes.  I suppose this isn't all that new, but it is good, and is, again, the solid stuff many of us need. But he's just getting started.

Part two he calls "Geography" and it basically shows how a missionally active bit of servanthood is lived out in various arenas.  Five areas are explored in these chapters (and he is really, really good in each) and you can recognize the topic by the titles:  Purposeful Family, Relational Evangelism, Thriving Church, Urban Mercy, and Global Partnerships.

I suspect that not too many folks really buy whole books about, or undertake entire studies of, each of the topics explored in each of these chapters.  This book is such a good resource because, here, in one happy volume, you can learn a bit about being "missional" in and among your family, your neighborhood, in church, for and with the hurting world nearby and far away.

I love this book.  It is evangelically minded, but, like the writing of the best evangelical authors these days, it is wholistic, passionate about justice, and sensitive to a variety of cultural concerns. It isn't explicit about the kinds of worldviewish things I wrote about above, but it doesn't erode those kinds of profound foundations.  His perspective is solid, serious, yet winsome.  And he doesn't over-reach: Everts is tender and wise (and honest) in talking about dysfunctional families, he is aware of how slow-moving and traditional many churches can be; he doesn't make missional living sound all that easy (but he also doesn't make it sound all that complicated, either.)  He makes the case clearly that there are connections between the anatomy and the geography (the inner character stuff and the outward service stuff) so he is wonderfully doing both spiritual formation and Kingdom mission, discipleship of the heart and hands.  Can you see why I'm so fond of this?

There are discussion questions, too, making this an ideal book for small groups, Sunday school classes, book clubs and the like.  Or just read it yourself.  It covers a lot of ground, is easy to read, and he offers excellent suggestions for further reading in every section.  I'm fond of this, of course, as it just might lead you to deeper and more specialized resources.  As we become whole, become the sorts of people who reflect Christ, and then "take it to the streets" we will make a difference among those around us.  Three cheers for Don Everts and this lively book that is arranged in such a helpful way.  And for how he starts off noting that, uh, well, "missional" is not a word.  Ha!

And how he, as Bob Goff puts it, helps us "get to the do part."

I've already said why I think it is important to wade through heavier books like Transforming Vision by Walsh & Middleton or The Prophetic Imagination by Brueggemann or Desiring the Kingdom by James Smith.  You know that I think N.T. Wright is the best for getting a solidly Biblical view of the Kingdom of God.  I've promoted important titles like The Call by Os Guinness, Kingdom Callings by Amy Sherman, and Culture Making by Andy Crouch.  Jumping to the "do" part can be premature if we aren't insightful and wise and aware.  So these sorts of foundational books are helpful backdrops for a Kingdom vision that isn't shallow or formulaic or just more graceless noise.

And I listed a trio of important, serious studies of contemporary missional theories for transformational, risky discipleship; new models and new energy from guys like Michael Frost and Alan and Debbie Hirsch.  These are commendable for their willingness to take seriously the compromised nature of the church and the need for new thinking about new ways to be radically committed as we serve the world in our lives and lifestyles and communities. Wow.  

But then I described these two small, accessible, interesting, upbeat books by Barber and Everts, both on the Likewise publishing imprint. This two little books---Everyday Mission and Go and Do--- if taken seriously, could rock your world.  The are basic, yet remarkable, interesting and informative.  Give them a try.  Thanks for sending the order our way.  We hope all of this is useful in your own search for meaning, missional living, and daily discipleship. 


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June 18, 2012

Books for outdoor education, adventure experiences, finding God in the outdoors, nature writing, and faith-based creation care.

Hiking-Shoes-588x391.jpgHere is a large list of some of our favorite titles that may be of interest to those who love the great outdoors, do ministry in the wilderness, are trying to be more attentive to the beauty of God's creation, or who are interested in outdoor adventure trips.

Some of these are explicitly Christian; in fact, some are recommended by groups such as the Christian Adventure Association, an organization we are pleased to serve as a book provider. (Some. but not all, of these books may be listed at their inventory list at their own bookstore.) As you most likely know, here at the shop we read widely and enjoy books from many perspectives. Some of the views of some of these writers are less than orthodox as they describe faith and some of the memoirs, for instance, may have some colorful language. We selected them, though, for their overall worth, quality of writing, insight or general importance.  We hope you like how we have curated this list.

Some titles that we list are not religiously oriented at all, and others, while not exactlyreading on a rock.jpg Christian,  are faith-based, Jewish or mystical, perhaps. These are suggested because they offer good insights or exercises that even traditional evangelicals can use with some adaptation and discernment.  Not every book on this list is suitable for every outdoor educator or church camp, and we try to hint at the author's tone or perspective (and academic level) in these annotations.  We hope you enjoy browsing through these descriptions and invite you to contact us if you have any questions, concerns or suggestions.  We here at Hearts & Minds believe in reading widely and believe much wisdom can be gathered from various sources, and are therefore delighted to share this unique list of titles that, we trust, will help you and your team in your appreciation for God's creation and your enjoyment of your outdoor adventures.

At the end of this list there are two links to other pages of the Hearts & Minds website.

One, marked INQUIRE, takes you to an inquiry page near our order form page, and you should click there if you have questions.  Don't forget to tell us what you want to know. 

The other, marked ORDER, takes you to our webpage's order form.  It is certified secure, and you only have to fill in the obvious information, and tell us what books you want to order.  If you have shipping preferences, there is a place to note that, too.  We take any standard credit cards and, if you'd rather, are happy to just send a bill along with the book shipment, and you can pay by check, in a return envelope which we will provide.

WE OFFER MOST OF THESE TITLES AT A 10% OFF.  A few exceptions are noted. 
The regular retail price is shown, and we will deduct the discount when you order.


christian outdoor l.gifChristian Outdoor Leadership: Theology, Theory, and Practice  Ashley Denton (Smooth Stone Publishing) $24.95  There is literally no other resource like this, a great study of leadership and disciple-making, outdoor education theory, and an inspiring look at how evangelical faith can be enhanced as we mentor people in experiential-based wilderness trips.

role of the instructor.jpgThe Role of the Instructor in the Outward Bound Educational Process  Kenneth Kalisch (Morris Publishing) $21.95  A classic in the field, written by the legendary Christian leader at Honey Rock Camp, now a professor of outdoor education at Montreat College in NC.  A must for serious educators.

playing 2.jpgPlaying: Christian Explorations of Daily Living  James Evans (Fortress) $15.00  This is a short, dense book, opening up fabulous insights into why it is important that we play, and how playfulness and leisure is part of the (revolutionary!) freedom of an authentic spirituality of daily living.

christian at play.gifThe Christian at Play  Robert Johnson (Wipf & Stock) $20.00  Long considered a classic, this is a serious text exploring why we are called to playfulness, what it means to "recreate" and a theology of leisure. Important for outdoor educators and those pondering experiential education.

guide to rec leaders.jpgGuide for Recreation Leaders  Glenn Bannerman & Robert Fakkema (Bridge Resources) $12.95  An easy-to-use resource for both experienced and inexperienced recreation leaders, a bit of theory and  and look at why we play and use recreational experiences.  It's loaded with simple, fun activities for all ages and various groups.  Not designed for wilderness settings.

how to use camping in.jpgHow to Use Camping Experiences in Religious Education  Stephen Venable & Donald Marvin Joy (Religious Education Press) $15.95  Long considered a standard in the field, using development educational insights and outdoors experiential education theories. Although it gives a "nuts and bolts" overview, its hope is clear, sounded out in their slogan "transformation through Christian camping." 


aaa.jpgAdventure and the Way of Jesus: An Experiential Approach to Spiritual Formation  Greg Robinson (Wood N Barnes Publications) $19.95  This is a fabulous book, highly recommended, created by a leader in faith-based experiential education.  Robinson offers solid and useful insight on group dynamics, leadership, and organizational development.


lessons.jpgLessons on the Way: Using Adventure Activities to Explore the Way of Jesus  Greg Robinson & Mark Rose (Wood N Barnes Publications) $24.95  Currently the President of Challenge Quest, Greg is an expert in team development and collective learning, a seasoned facilitator.  He and Rose offer here a new collection of some of the best, time-tested and fun activities for spiritual formation, discipleship, and faith development in the outdoors settings.  An essential resource.



TandT.jpgTeamwork & Teamplay: A Guide to Cooperative, Challenge and Adventure Activities that Build Confidence, Cooperation, Teamwork, Creativity, Trust, Decision Making, Conflict Resolution, Resource Management, Communication, Effective Feedback and Problem Solving  Jim Cain & Barry Jolliff (Kendall Hunt) $  From the lengthy, fun, sub-title you get that this is a huge resource (over 425 pages!) offering the best of what we know experiential education can accomplish.  This is a very useful reference tool, packed with lots of great ideas for both "teamwork" and "teamplay."

learning bridges.jpgLearning Bridges: Quick & Easy Activities for Change Jim Still-Pepper (Chalice Press) $16.99 Although not designed for outdoor eduation, this sort of activities "bridge the gap" between people and can break down distrust, resistance and help young adults (or others) engage in experiential learning.  Interactive, teachable.

tips and tools.jpgTips and Tools: The Art of Experiential Group Facilitation Jennifer Stanchfield (Wood N Barnes) $27.95  Here is what it says on the back cover:  Facilitation is an art, by its very nature an experiential practice. It is an ever dynamic process of give and take, learning and development. Tips & Tools explores the facilitator's role in groups of all kinds and offers creative tools and activities to enhance group experience, as well as sequencing and reflection strategies to increase individual involvement and growth.

silver bullets.jpgSilver Bullets: A Guide to Initiative Problems, Adventure Games, and Trust Activities Karl Rohnke (Project Adventure) $37.95  Truly a classic in the field, it is a treasure chest of games, initiatives, experiences, and activities to create group cohesion, cooperation and trust.

open to outcome.jpgOpen To Outcome: A Practical Guide For Facilitating & Teaching Experiential Reflection  Mari Rudy & Micah Jacobson (Wood N Barnes) $14.95  These two authors are renowned as trainers in their "five questions" process for debriefing experiential learning activities.  Excellent for mentors, coaches, trip leaders who embrace this sort of community-based, educational philosophy.

Gold Nuggets: Readings in Experiential Education Jim Schoel & Mike Stratton (Project Adventure) $20.95  This is a little spiral bound, underground classic, prepared by Project Adventure outdoor educators, reflecting on experiences they've had...

Controversial Issues in Adventure Programming.jpgControversial Issues in Adventure Programming Bruce Martin &  Mark Wagstaff (Human Kinetics Press) $49.00  What an amazing resource for serious leaders.  These respected authors have assembled a team of more than 50 contributors from around the globe to reassess some of the underlying assumptions on which adventure programming is based. They use a debate format and the conversation is important and lively.


Ethical Issues in Experiential Education Jaspers Hunt (The Association for Experiential Education) $29.95   A serious, professional monograph exploring the complex ethical issues (secrecy, sexuality, risk, environmental care, etc.) that come up in experiential education.

beyond learning by d.gifBeyond Learning By Doing: Theoretical Currents in Experiential Education  Jay W. Roberts (Routledge) $41.95  The author is Professor of Education and Environmental Studies at Earlham College, and is long been both a scholar and practitioner of outdoors-based, experiential education.  This is one of the more scholarly, foundational texts in the field, recommended for anyone serious about understanding the latest pedagogical theories applied to wilderness experiences.  Roberts is widely respected in the field, and writes from a Quaker perspective.

colors of nature.pngColors of Nature: Cultural Identity and the Natural World  edited by Alison H. Deming and Lauret E. Savoy (Milkweed Editions) $22.00   There is simply no other book in print like this; it is unprecedented.  This is an important collection illuminating how people of color and various ethnic backgrounds and culture "see" and experience nature. This is essential reading for those leading multi-cultural trips or for anyone who cares about bringing the broadest range of insights to environmental journalism.  Very moving, in many ways.


Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backpackin' Book- Traveling & Camping Skills for a Wilderness Environment  .gifAllen & Mike's Really Cool Backpackin' Book: Traveling & Camping Skills for a Wilderness Environment  Allen O'Bannon & Mike Clelland (FalconGuide) $14.95 Practical insight and fun illustrations on back country hiking.


Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book: Traveling and Camping Skills for a Winter Environment Allen O'Bannon & Mike Clelland (FalconGuide) $14.95 Practical insight and fun illustrations on wilderness camping and skiing.


Allen & Mike's Really Cool Telemark Tips: 123 Amazing Tips to Improves Your Tele-Skiing (revised & expanded)  Allen O'Bannon & Mike Clelland (FalconGuide) $14.95 Practical insight and fun illustrations on wilderness skiing.


Allen & Mike's Avalanche Book: A Guide to Staying Save in Avalanche Terrain Allen O'Bannon & Mike Clelland (FalconGuide) $14.95 Practical insight and fun illustrations about a matter of utmost seriousness.

Cave Exploring.gifCave Exploring: The Definitive Guide to Caving Technique, Safety, Gear, and Trip Leadership   Paul Burger (Falcon Guides) $15.99 There are many good books that serve as an introduction to caving; we suggest this one because it does have some helpful material on leading trips.

rock climbing.gifRock Climbing: Mastering Basic Skills  Craig Luebben (Mountaineering Books) $22.95  One of the standard books, written by a master teacher (and leader in the American Mountain Guide Association) including not only skills and exercises, but comments on safety, understanding hazards, risk management, group trips, and other helpful material for outdoor leaders.

bouldering.jpgBouldering: Movement, Tactics, and Problem Solving Peter Beal (Mountaineering Books) $18.95  Laden with pictures, this is an ideal  book for anyone interested in the art and skills of solving boldering problems.  There aren't many books of this sort and we are happy to recommend this one, which includes photos, illustrations and 10 useful strategy charts.

Freedom_of_the_Hills_8th_ed.jpgMountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills (8th edition) The Mountaineers (Mountaineers Books) $29.95  This is considered a, if not the classic for all climbing enthusiasts.  A must-have for any aspiring mountaineers library. Almost 600 pages, 7 x 9 with over 425 pictures.

backpackers field.gifThe Backpacker's Field Manual (Revised and Updated) Rick Curtis (Three Rivers Press) $16.00  This hefty, important book would be a bargain at twice the price as it is jam-packed with everything you may need to know (including much that you may not have thought of) before embarking on a serious backcountry journey.  Comprehensive, classic, helpful for anyone learning about how to pack for a trip.

AMC .jpgAMC Guide to Outdoor Leadership  Alex Kosseff (Appalachian Mountain Club Books) $19.95  Many customers have found this to be an exceptional introduction to all sorts of important matters for trip leaders: trip planning,  group Dynamics,  decision-making, risk management.  Includes a section on leading youth.

lessons learned.jpgLessons Learned II  Deb Ajango (Watchmaker Press) $22.00  Every outdoor educator or group facilitator must know about risk management.  The publisher says this about this useful volume: "through careful examination of accident accounts, followed by analysis of what went wrong and what went right, author/editor Deb Ajango helps readers better understand how and why even seemingly best-laid plans sometimes fail. Starting with two in-depth case studies, the book explores how accidents happen, how the resulting devastation affects participants and their families, and how the ramifications of such incidents affect programs and employees..."


w.e..gifWilderness Ethics: Preserving the Spirit of Wildness  Laura & Guy Waterman  (The Countryman Press)  $15.95  A compelling book making a strong claim that even wilderness protection programs in the United States are failing that which we call wilderness---in part because of so many who want to enjoy it, and therefore it needs managed.  This asks big questions of what we mean by the wilderness experience and what we are hoping to preserve.  The authors have lived for more than 25 years on a self-sufficient homestead in Vermont.


backwoods e.jpgBackwoods Ethics: A Guide to Low-Impact Camping and Hiking Laura & Guy Waterman (second edition) (The Countryman Press) $15.95  With a foreword by backpacker and environmental activist Bill McKibben, this is a lovely and useful guide, at once visionary and practical.  A classic.

NOLS soft paths.gifSoft Paths Rich Brame & David Cole (Stackpole Books) $19.95 A definitive book from NOLS (The National Outdoor Leadership School) now in an updated fourth edition.  A must-read about "leaving no trace" and low-impact camping and hiking.  We can ship any of the NOLS  books, by the way; their whole wilderness education series is excellent, including titles such as Wilderness Ethics, Backcountry Cooking, Wilderness Medicine, Wilderness Navigation, or River Rescue.  See their entire list here: http://www.nols.edu/books/.  We got 'em.


Landscape as Sacred Space- Metaphors for the Spiritual Journey.gifLandscape as Sacred Space: Metaphors for the Spiritual Journey  Steven Lewis (Wipf & Stock) $16.00  An essential, core book exploring how to appreciate landscape, how to rethink spiritual formation in light of both outdoor educational insights and postmodern theory. This brief work is a significant contribution to spirituality and theology that is exceptional and important.  Nearly brilliant, reflective, insightful , this study draws on the serious work of Beldan Lane and articulates how land and place can help in spiritual formation.  Physical spaces are named in the Bible--mountaintops, valleys, deserts, rivers--and these clearly serve as symbols on our journey, apt metaphors for moments in everyone's life.  Anyone interested in the outdoors and who enters into wilderness experiences will surely find this a helpful companion for thinking about what can be learned in creation, not so much about creation itself, but about our inner landscapes.  From mountaintop experiences to spiritual deserts, this helps us integrate God into daily experience, by exploring life's landscapes. Provocative and profound; very highly recommended for leaders.

You Gave Me a Wide Place- Holy Places in Our Lives.gifYou Gave Me a Wide Place: Holy Places in Our Lives  Paul Stroble (Upper Room) $15.00 This includes personal stories, exercises for individual or small-group use, framed by an extended rumination on place, God's great gift of space, and how our identity is shaped by location.  The titles comes from Psalm 18:36.


Landscapes of the Soul- A Spirituality of Place.jpgLandscapes of the Soul: A Spirituality of Place  Robert Hamma (Ave Maria Press) $9.95  By drawing on the Bible, psychology, and cultural studies, this prayerful Catholic explores not only our inner lives, but our sense of place, home, geography and locale.  Is God present in certain places?  All places?  Are some doorways to His presence?  For anyone going to specific places--even if for a visit--having a clear sense of God's faithfulness to locations is helpful.

Landscapes of the Sacred- Geography and Narrative in American Spirituality.jpgLandscapes of the Sacred: Geography and Narrative in American Spirituality  Belden Lane (Oxford University Press) $30.00  A highly-respected scholar offers three new interpretive models for understanding American sacred space.  Dense, serious, and yet at time luminous.  A must for mature thinkers about the role of land, place, wilderness and American religious traditions.


solace of fierce.gifThe Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality  Belden C. Lane (Oxford University Press) $17.95  One of the most esteemed books among those who do serious reading on the geography of faith; literary and smart and important.  The author tells of Biblical stories and of ancient monks and their spiritual experiences of both deserts and mountains, even as he writes exquisitely about his own hikes and wilderness experiences. Lane is a historian, philosopher, outdoorsman and born storyteller.  Classic.


where mortals dwell.gifWhere Mortals Dwell: A Christian View of Place for Today  Craig G. Bartholomew (Baker Academic) $29.99  Richly informed by the history of theology and philosophy, this is the premier study of this vital topic from a solidly Christian perspective.  No one has attended to this topic as Bartholomew has, making this a one of a kind study.  There are endorsements from the likes of Bill McKibben and Norman Wirzba, who rave about the book's singular vision and exceptional importance.  Outdoor educators and wilderness enthusiasts care about the land, so this is good for us; those who specialize in trips and being on journeys, too, will benefit from this study of home and placemaking.  How many theological books incorporate a study of maps and topography?  Wow.


earth_works.jpegEarth Works: Selected Essays  Scott Russell Sanders (Indiana University Press) $25.00  One of the most esteemed essayists in America, a beloved writer and thoughtful author, his voice is both prophetic and tender, caring about place, aware of the nuances of story and landscape.  Known as a Mid-Western nature writer and environmentalist, Saunders' wondrous prose is well worth knowing and this anthology is a beautiful way into his powerful, reflective work.

sacred j.gifAncient Practices: The Sacred Journey  Charles Foster (Nelson) $12.99  Going on pilgrimage is an ancient religious practice, and this fine Christian thinker explores what it is about us that makes us want to "go" and be on journey.  He pays little mind to the need for "a sense of place" and thinks the geography of faith is ever-moving as we hike, travel, explore and, yes, take intentional journeys of sacred pilgrimages.  What a fun, provocative, and energetic book by a guy who has hiked all over the world.



All Creation Sings- The Voice of God in Nature .gifAll Creation Sings: The Voice of God in Nature  J. Ellsworth Kalas (Abingdon) $14.00  A wonderfully clear, solid, upbeat reflective meditation on the wonder of creation, what we can learn by attending to God's speaking through it, as many Biblical texts teach.  Most of us appreciate the beauty of God's wonderful creation, but it takes more attentiveness and Biblical faith to belief that God reveals things to us by way of his natural world.  Very highly recommended.


Nature as S.gifNature as Spiritual Practice  Steven Chase (Eerdmans) $18.00  One of the deepest and most insightful studies of its kind, an innovative study on how we can seek God in nature, being transformed by attentiveness to the movements and seasons and wonders of creation.  Chase weaves together historic contemplative practices and contemporary nature writers...a bit heavy, broad-ranging, profound.


A Field Guide to Nature as Spiritual Practice.gifA Field Guide to Nature as Spiritual Practice  Steven Chase (Eerdmans) $8.00  A companion book to the above title, this practical resource gathers together additional contemplative exercises and "nature practices" to echo the theory and vision outlined in the primary text.  Very nicely done, helpful for those looking for advanced, mature guidance.

Worship Feast.gifWorship Feast Outdoors: 25 Experiences of God's Great Earth  Jenny Youngman (Abingdon) $17.00  If you are going on an outdoors trip, especially if you are going with youth, don't leave without this exciting and innovative guide to four different sorts of outdoors worship experiences.   These services include worship with water, worship with wonder, worship with awareness, and worship with the seasons.  Very creative and quite useful.


A Hunter's Field Notes.gifA Hunter's Field Notes: Inspiring Stories of Meeting God in the Rugged Outdoors  Jay Houston & Roger Medley (Harvest House) $10.99  Obviously, this is for hunters, who realize that there is more to hunting than just the harvest.  This has some very helpful suggestions for learning how to tell your own stories, explaining your own adventures, your faith, and how unexpected incidents in the mountains have strengthened your own faith.  Set mostly amidst the Rocky Mountains, hunting elk.

devotions-for-outdoor-adventures-larry-wiggins-paperback-cover-art.jpgDevotions for Outdoor Adventures  Larry Wiggins, Jack Harris & Amy Garascia (CreateSpace)  $12.95  Created by friends who work in outdoor education, we are happy to promote this neat little paperback full of devotional thoughts from and for (as the subtitle puts it) "Backpackers, Hikers, Climbers, Canoeists, and Other Outdoor Enthusiasts."  These are solid evangelical reflections on the Word and the world, inspiring, insightful and perfect for the outdoors.  Handsome pen and ink drawings of cliffs, crags, birds, and such are themselves worth meditation upon.

god in the yard.gifGod in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us  L.L. Barkat (T.S. Poetry Press) $15.00 This is a 12-week course described as "discovery and playing towards God."  Barkat is a fine memoirist and poet and here offers delightful, hopeful, very thoughtful meditations, mostly about paying attention to the amazing world around us. One reviewer suggested it is a blend between spirituality writer Richard Foster and naturalist Annie Dillard---quite a compliment!  Ann Voskamp notes she is a writer "with a poet's eye, arresting language and keen mind."  Not about the wilderness or adventure expeditions, but she does invites us to"see" and experience God in creation (as in one excellent section, about "sky.")

an altar in the world bbt.jpgAn Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith  Barbara Brown Taylor (HarperOne) $14.99 This elegant and eloquent writer is honest, vivid, profound, about how faith is enhanced as we embodied practices of faithfulness which allow us to be attentive to God in daily living.  Not all of this is about the out of doors, but some of it is;  see especially her chapter about walking, another about physical labor ("The Practice of Carrying Water") and a splendid chapter called "Getting Lost."   Wow.

water-wind-earth-fire-christian-practice-praying-with-christine-valters-paintner-paperback-cover-art.jpgWater, Wind, Earth, & Fire: The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements  Christine Valters Paintner (Sorin Books) $14.95  Organized around "The Canticle of the Creatures" by St. Francis of Assisi, this explores ways in which praying with the natural elements can enliven our Christian spiritual lives.  The author is a Benedictine Oblate sister, a beautiful writer, and a mature thinker about faith and creation.  Very useful as a guide to growing closer to God in nature, and, specifically, praying about our natural surroundings.  Lovely.

When the Rain Speaks.gifWhen the Rain Speaks: Celebrating God's Presence in Nature  Melannie Svoboda (Twenty-Third Publications) $12.95  Through this lovely collection of short devotions, Sister Melanie helps us experience God through His good creation, beholding the details of the glories there.  As we notice and attend to that which is before our eyes, we can increasingly learn the habit of thankfulness and worship, deepening our contemplative walk in God's world.  Very nice.


Cairn-Space.gifCairn-Space  N. Thomas Johnson-Medland (Resource Publications) $17.0 0  Tom has been involved in Christian camping and leading outdoor retreats for years, as a pastor and poet he knows well how to evoke our heart's desires and concerns.  He calls these poems and essays "landmarks" which help us focus and remember God's faithfulness.  The cover says this includes "poems, prayers, mindful amblings, about the places we wet aside for meaning, prayer, and the sacramental life..." Nice.


Bridges, Paths and Waters; Dirt, Sky, and Mountains.gifBridges, Paths and Waters; Dirt, Sky, and Mountains N. Thomas Johnson-Medland (Resource Publications) $20.00  More reflections and poems by an expert Christian leader in camping and outdoors ministry.  He calls this a "portable guided retreat on creation, awe, wonder, and radical amazement."  Who doesn't long for greater gratitude and wonder?  Who wouldn't benefit from ruminations on beauty and meaning in our lives?


Indescribable- Encountering the Glory of God.gifIndescribable: Encountering the Glory of God in the Beauty of the Universe  Louie Giglio & Matt Redman (Cook) $14.99  Neither author is a scientist or wilderness expert, but they have avocations in astronomy and use their instincts as worship leaders---preacher and musician, respectively--- to see God's great grace and glory in the wonder of things.  There is some good natural science here, some basic astronomy that any outdoors-lover will appreciate, but it is mostly developed for the sake of devotion and praise.  Wonderful.

Earth's Echo- Sacred Encounters with Nature.gifEarth's Echo: Sacred Encounters with Nature  Robert Hamma (Sorin) $15.95 The author is a very fine, meditative writer and a serious observer of all sorts of aspects of God's good creation, and invites us in this small, quiet book to attend to the holy ground around us.  Called "awe-inspiring" by Annie Dillard.  It is a beauty to hold, a square-sized paperback.

A Wild Faith- Jewish Ways into Wilderness.jpgA Wild Faith: Jewish Ways into Wilderness, Wilderness Ways into Judaism  Rabbi Mike Comins (Jewish Lights) $16.99 Although explicitly Jewish, even those who are not Jewish will find this to be quite interesting, insightful, and packed with ideas about meditative walking, wilderness blessings, solo solitude practices and other wilderness-savoring means of faith development.  One reviewer said it is "part holy book, part handbook."

God in the Wilderness.gifGod in the Wilderness: Rediscovering the Spirituality of the Great Outdoors with the Adventure Rabbi  Jamie Korngold (Three Rivers Press) $12.99  What a lovely book.  We can rejoice that almost anyone, from evangelical Christians to those who don't see themselves as religious at all can learn much from Rabbi Korngold's creative thinking and engagement with the Hebrew Bible---and her great skills as outdoor educator and adventure trip facilitator.  Very nice. And notice, "The Adventure Rabbi" is, in fact, a woman (in the Reform Judaism tradition.)

Renewal in the Wilderness-.gifRenewal in the Wilderness: A Spiritual Guide to Connecting with God in the Natural World  John Lionberger (Skylight Paths) $16.99  The opening story of this mid-life guy coming to experience God for the first time on a wilderness trek with Outward Bound is itself worth the price of the book.  Lionberger, who had been thoroughly unchurched, found himself drawn to Christ and eventually became ordained, commissioned to help others experience God's presence in the outdoors.  He brings an interfaith approach, from a mainline church setting, leading trips of various sorts.  Lots of stories make this easy to read and nicely inspiring.

wisdom of w.gifThe Wisdom of Wilderness: Experiencing the Healing Power of Nature Gerald May (HarperOne) $13.99  May is a renowned spiritual director, a counselor and genteel, literary scholar.  (He was often associated with his friends Parker Palmer and Henri Nouwan.)  Who know he was an avid outdoorsman, and he writes here beautifully about how doing solo tenting trips--canoeing, encountering a bear, paying attention to creation's awe--helped him through a very difficult time in his life.  Well written, profound, and enjoyable.

Spiritual Adventures in the Snow.gifSpiritual Adventures in the Snow: Skiing and Snowboardering as a Renewal for Your Soul  Dr. Marcia McFee & Rev. Karen Foster (Skylight Paths) $16.99  What a fascinating, fun book, making a case that fun in the outdoors is compatible with a growing faith.  Each of the authors are serious outdoorswomen, and in each chapter they not only talk about their spiritual lives enhance by winter sports, but interview others.  From edgy Christian writer Anne Lamott to Olympic medalists, this is packed with ideas, insights, faith-building exercises to be done on the slopes.


The Sacred Art of Fly-Fishing.gifFly-Fishing The Sacred Art: Casting a Fly as a Spiritual Practice  Rabbi Eric Eisenkramer & Rev. Michael Attas (Skylight Paths)  $16.99  Forget the jokes about a Rabbi and minister going into a bar; here they go out to streams, explaining the allure and spiritual potential, in fly fishing.  Beautiful, interesting, informative, with describing things from tie flying to enjoying the flowing streams to working on river conservation. Lovely.

When the Trees Say Nothing.gifWhen the Trees Say Nothing: Writings on Nature by Thomas Merton edited and compiled by Kathleen Deignan, with sketches by John Giuliani (Sorin Books) $16.95  Thomas Merton is one of the most-respected Christian mystics of the 20th century, a prolific, humorous, intense Trappist monk who died in the late 60s and the environmental movement was taking off.  These are writings of his, many from early in his career, when he wrote about the beauty of nature, God's presence in creation, and how to stand in silence and awe before the world.

Green Bible Devotional.gifThe Green Bible Devotional: A Book of Daily Readings taken from The NRSV Green Bible (HarperOne) $14.99  Taken from the "Green Letter" New Revised Standard edition, this includes short meditations from a wide array of fine Christian thinkers, leaders, activists.  Easy to carry --and very uplifting.

A Spiritual Field Guide- Meditations for the Outdoors.jpgA Spiritual Field Guide: Meditations for the Outdoors  Bernard Brady & Mark Neuzil (Brazos Press) $12.99  This may be our favorite daily devotional, outlined specifically for either day hikes or longer treks.  This is Biblical, inspiration, offering Scripture and readings from classic Christian writers.  Nicely done.

Meditations of John Muir.gifMeditations of John Muir: Nature's Temple  complied by Chris Highland (Wilderness Press) $11.95  Most evangelicals may wish that Muir was a bit clearer about some things, but there is no doubt that he is a seminal figure in the great tradition of American wilderness writing, and his  most spiritual musings about God, nature, and his reflections on many of the world's most sacred Scriptures are brief, nicely produced, and easy to carry into the woods.

Wilderness Time.gifWilderness Time: A Guide for Spiritual Retreat Emilie Griffin (HarperOne) $14.00  Produced by Renovare, this is not about wilderness settings, but uses the metaphor of wilderness for any intentional spiritual retreat.  Very useful.



perm v.jpgPermanent Vacation: Twenty Writers on Work and Life on Our National Parks  edited by Kim Wyatt & Erin Bechtol (Bona Fide Books) $15.00  Beautiful and informative essays by park rangers, describing their work stewarding out parks, describing the natural beauty, from permafrost to petrified forests.  This volume focuses on parks from the West.

Wisdom Chaser.gifWisdom Chaser: Finding My Father at 14,000 Feet Nathan Foster (IVP) $16.00  The son of the famous spirituality writer (Richard Foster) has messed up his life, realizes he needs to reconsider his own lifestyle and faith commitments, and, mostly, must get to know his mysterious father.  In a riveting mountain climbing memoir, father and son are reconciled and new beginnings are envisions.  This is great reading for anyone who enjoys a good adventure tale; better for those wanting to see how God can use the stress of adventure experiences to rebuild relationships, trust, and hope.  Highly recommended.

surprises around the bend.gifSurprises Around the Bend: 50 Adventurous Walkers edited by Richard Hasler (Augsburg) $14.99  Hasler is both a pastor and a hiker, and he has offered us this delightful gift: a compilation of various excerpts of the journals of many famous walkers (from Francis of Assisi to John Bunyan to Dietrich Bonhoeffer), their observations and insights, pleasures, adventures and, in many cases, spiritual insights.  Arranged almost like a daily devotional: very nicely done.

way is made.gifThe Way is Made By Walking: A Pilgrimage Along the Camino Santiago Arthur Boers  (IVP) $16.00  Although this pilgrimage along the El Camino trail is more of a spiritual practice than an adventure trip, the insights gathered as the merry band of folk travel this ancient trail are fascinating.  Not a few backpacking trips into the wilderness have used this as a study book.  Includes a nice foreword by avid day hiker and Bible scholar Eugene Peterson.

hiking through.gifHiking Through: One Man's Journey to Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail  Paul Stutzman (Revell) $13.99  When this was self-published it became an underground classic, and we are happy to now have available this new edition.  After Stutzman lost his wife from cancer, he heads out on the AT, realizing that a life-changing journey begins with a single step... God's grace and guidance become evident as the author tells of this 2,176 mile trip through 14 states.  Good outdoor writing, fun adventure tales, but it is also about love, family, friendship, courage, discovery, healing, and finding God beyond the trailhead.  A page-turner, offering solid faith and great insight.

AWOL on the Appalachian Trail.gifAWOL on the Appalachian Trail David Miller (Mariner Books) $14.50  This author is known among AT hikers as he writes and updates the annual trail guide.  This is his own memoir of his through-hike, recently re-issued, complete with all sorts of stories, insights, observations and suggestions for other backpackers.  Considered one of the best.

wild.gifWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail  Cheryl Strayed (Knopf) $25.95  One of the most talked about hiking memoirs in years, this is both spectacularly written and brilliantly conceived, as a woman who has truly made a mess of her life (heroin! promiscuity!) does an extended through-hike for which she is notably ill-prepared. She grieves the death from cancer of her hippy mother, her violent father, her own descent into remarkably bad choices, and how her life's journey took her to the rugged PCT.  The writing is vivid, including some vulgarities a sex scene, so it may not be for everyone. Still, for those who appreciate such a hard and finally triumphant outdoor journey, it will thrill you (and perhaps remind you how long backpacking trips can be brutal, glorious, and profoundly transformative.)

Two in the Wild.jpgTwo in the Wild edited by Susan Fox Rogers (Vintage) $13.00  Women's outdoors adventure writing is nearly its own genre, and this is representative of some of the great stories, writing and insights offered by gutsy women who lace up their boots and head out to climb, hike, bike or travel all over the globe---together.  Some of these are pretty fun, a few quite tender, all are very well written.

leaky tent.gifA Leaky Tent is a Piece of Paradise: 20 Young Writers on Finding a Place in the Natural World  edited by Bonnie Tsui  (Sierra Club Books) $19.99  This is not your father's nature writing or sportsman's guide.  Here are edgy young writers doing essays about integrating nature into their lives, and how they struggle to balance travel and home, branching out and having roots, going far and eating local.  Some are pretty outrageous, some inspiring, a couple pretty amazing.  These short pieces are all by serious, under 30 writers, kicking back and telling it straight.  Actually, it is pretty remarkable, although most are not at all religious. 

  Back to Earth.gifBack to Earth: A Backpacker's Journey into Self and Soul  Kerry Temple  (Rowman & Littlefield) $16.95  This is a great memoir, a story of a mid-life life lost, and found.  This eloquent book is the story of the author's return home.  As brilliant essayist Scott Russell Sanders says, it is "a braiding together of remembered journeys and the new ones: from the Arctic to the desert Southwest, from the Big Horns of Wyoming to the woods of Indiana, always in search of the unnameable power that flows through every breath."  Temple has been the editor of Notre Dame magazine, and has been published in Backpacker magazine.

temple stream.jpgTemple Stream: A Rural Odyssey  Bill Roorbach (Dial Press) $14.00  Some of this is a wonderfully written memoir of the author trying to learn to appreciate his own small town in rural Maine.  There are great blue herons and yellow birches, but there are equally colorful characters at the local diner and a whole bunch of run down properties and the stories behind them.  He writes lovingly---National Geographic Explorer says it is "a marvel in a genre that's tough to master"---and his sense of place will make you homesick for Farmington, or a place like it. But here is why I list it now: Professor Roorbach is determined to explore a local stream from its mouth to its elusive source.  He is a paddler, a nature writer, a curious explorer, and anyone who enjoys canoeing will surely love this grand, quiet book.


out there.jpgOut There: In The Wild in a Wired Age  Ted Kerasote (Voyageur Press) $16.95  When this book came out, cell phones and facebook were not as ubiquitous as they are now, and the book was considered an excellent rumination on matters of remoteness and solitude (in an age "strangling from its cyberwires.") This is a sly look at important matters as he tells of a wilderness paddling trip (from the Canadian Northwest Territories to the Arctic Ocean) with a partner who wanted to stay in touch with those back home.  Fascinating, and all the more urgent, today.


On The Ridge Between Life and Death.jpgOn The Ridge Between Life and Death: A Climbing Life Reexamined  David Roberts (Simon & Schuster) $15.00  Jon Krakauer has exclaimed, "nobody alive writes better about mountaineering and its peculiar adherents than David Roberts, my mentor and friend..."  And this is his best book, candid and unflinching, and offering a seasoned, sober account of the risks of the adventuresome life.  Stunning and provocative.


Into the Wild.gifInto the Wild  Jon Krakauer (Anchor) $14.95  A serious and gripping reportage of a passionate adventurer, a mountaineer and outdoorsman who grew unhinged from society and died attempting to live off the grid.  A sad warning of worldviews that are not viable and how passionate concerns can sometimes turn harmful.


Into Thin Air.gifInto Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster Jon Krakauer (Anchor) $15.00  It would be unthinkable to not list something of Krakauer on this list.  He is a breathtaking storyteller, a bit of a philosopher, and a profound writer who has contributed much to this growing field. 


Soul Survivor- A Spiritual Quest Through 40 Days and 40 Nights.jpgSoul Survivor: A Spiritual Quest Through 40 Days and 40 Nights of Mountain Solitude  Paul Hawker (Northstone) $15.95  A passionately honest account of a man--he described himself as "restless and rudderless"---trying honestly to hear the voice of God by going on a remarkable soul quest.   Set in the treacherous Tararua Mountain range in New Zealand.


DeepSurvivalLG.jpgDeep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why  Laurence Gonzales (Norton) $15.95 Gonzales has perhaps studied this topic, and interviewed more survivors of tragic accidents--from plane crashes in Peruvian wilderness to mountain climbing trips gone wrong---and was perplexed why some people (and some groups) found stamina and courage to endure, and who did not.  This is by all accounts compelling reading, at times intense and even chilling. And, it is very important for anyone undertaking potentially life-threatening adventure trips. Recommended. 


The Wilderness World of John Muir .gifThe Wilderness World of John Muir John Muir, edited by Edwin Teale (Mariner) $15.95  Teale has given us a marvelous way into the many writings of Muir, collecting some of the finer portions of several of his classics.  Newly issues, with a very handsome cover, this is will be a beloved addition to any library of historic wilderness writing or adventure memoir.

Living on Wilderness Time.gifLiving on Wilderness Time: 200 Days Alone in America's Wild Places  Melissa Walker (University of Virginia Press) $17.95  This heavy paperback is made well, rugged, I suppose, like the content.  Here the author is one the road, on the loose, in the wilderness (as one reviewer noted.)  She thinks and lives outside the boundaries, and has been likened to the glorious and influential writer Rick Bass.  What an odyssey, this mid-life woman, setting out to discover adventure in order to discover life.  Risky, solid,  rare.

Nature and Walking.gifNature and Walking  Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau (Beacon Press) $13.99  These two important essays in one lovely volume, illustrate this distinctively American, romantic view of the world and our observations of it.  Nice to have these two together...

Desert Solitaire.gifDesert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness  Edward Abbey  (Touchstone) $14.95  One of the great books of wilderness memoir in all of American literature, Abbey tells of his years as a park ranger in Utah.  Mystical, candid, outspoken, he was an old time curmudgeon and radical naturalist, struck by his solitary life and the raw beauty of the red rock landscape.


Wind River Winter.gifWind River Winter Virginia Stem Owens (Regent College Press) $19.95 This memoir is achingly beautiful as Stem Owens, one of our finest contemporary Christian writers (who is a keen observer of nature, and has written a previous book on quantum physics) takes us into the beauty and mystery of watching the world of the desolate Wind River mountains of Wyoming.  Beautiful language, profoundly Christian, excellent insights or reality and grace in a fallen world.

reading the mountains.gifReading the Mountains of Home John Elder (Harvard University Press) $24.95  This is a splendid book, important and enjoyable on many levels.  Firstly, it is a memoir of a set of day hikes near the author's beloved Vermont county.  Elder is a professor of enviromental literature at Middlebury College, and he is actually doing a series of outdoor experiences following the general plot of a rare Robert Frost poem (which has him getting lost, building a canoe, etc.)  As he hikes and observes both poem and landscape he concludes that it is important to know your own locale.  This is, as he explains, a huge controversy within American nature writers, conservationists and modern moutaineers: must we always go "out West" for the dangerous, rugged terrain, or might there be (as Thoreau chided Muir) wilderness in less dramatic locations?  This is an argument for finding joy in the local, taking up outdoor adventure wherever we are, and not necessarily presuming that the best experiences are the most dramatic or far-away.  For anyone who loves well-written stories, a bit of poetry, some New England geological lessons, and a wonderful insight about "reading the mountains of home."

my story as told.jpgMy Story as Told By Water  David James Duncan (Sierra Club Books) $16.99  I hope you know his intriguing, spiritually-based, hilarious novel The River Why (about, among other things, fishing.)  Here, in a series of chapters--some long and serious, some short and creatively crafted--the passionate writer tells of his love affair with creation, rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water.  The subtitle reads: "Confessions, Druidic Rants, Reflections, Bird-watchings, Fish-stalkings, Visions, Songs and Prayers Refracting from Light, From Living Rivers, In the Age of the Industrial Dark." Oh yeah.


riverwalking-reflections-on-moving-water-kathleen-dean-moore-paperback-cover-art.jpgRiverwalking: Reflections on Moving Water  Kathleen Dean Moore  (Harcourt) $13.5  Moore is one of the great nature writers of our time.  As Bill McKibben writes of its importance he says it is a "new kind of nature writing, one where the outdoors is in dialogue not only with our innermost souls but without families, our relationships, our lives.  Something powerful is at work here." Moore is a professor of philosophy at Oregon State University and tells of her canoing, ocean kayaking, night paddling.  She is luminous, moving, smart, and quite a rugged outdoors person.

pine island paradox.gifPine Island Paradox: Making Connections in a Disconnected World  Kathleen Dean Moore (Milkweed Editions) $16.00  This is, quite simply, one of my all time favorite books, inspiring and moving, eloquent and profoundly insightful, even as she tells fabulous tales of her beloved hikes and camping trips and writing projects, conjuring up the beauty of nature, the meaning of the cosmos (she's a philsopher, after all) and her daily work as a college prof, mother, and wife, who lives in an ordinary neighborhood.  Captivating and provocative and truly lovely, full of deep insight and wonder-full lines.


wild comfort.gifWild Comfort: The Solace of Nature Kathleen Dean Moore (Trumpteter) $15.95  Dense, rich, ruminations on the power of nature to console and comfort us in times of grief and disruption.  It is both a naturalist's handbook and a memoir about her own hikes and insights, full of wisdom and heavy truth, maturely written. 


High Tide in Tucson.gifHigh Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never Barbara Kingsolver (Harper) $13.00  Many readers enjoy the wonderful novels of Ms Kingsolver, but she is a gifted, passionate essayist, as well.  These are delightful and challenging, informing us about details of nature, science, community and place.  Theses are pieces to be savored and pondered and acted upon.  Fabulous! 


Lessons of the Wild.gifLessons of the Wild: Learning from the Wisdom of Nature  Edwin L. Anderson (Wipf & Stock) $19.00  This is a profound study of how we can find ourselves, especially during times of transition (as we age) as we take up our place in nature.  The author is an expert wilderness coach, having spent years in the great parks of the American West.  Drawing on classic nature writers and contemporary authors (like Gerald May and Parker Palmer) and some Christian spirituality (Merton and the like) he weaves his stories of growth and insight, found in the wisdom both strong and gentle from the wilderness.   


Jesus, History, and Mt. gifJesus, History, and Mt. Darwin: An Academic Excursion  Rick Kennedy (Wipf & Stock) $14.00  Kennedy is a professor of history at Point Loma Nazarene University  and here he gives us an extended essay in the genre of Thoreau's travel-thinking essays.  It is the story of his three-day climb into the Evolution Range of the High Sierra mountains, nearly fourteen thousand feet. (Yes, the range is named after the famous evolutionary thinkers, and he is indeed climbing Mt. Darwin.)  In this wide-ranging study, he ponders the meaning of education, the nature of his work as a Christian in higher education, the reliability of the claims of Jesus in the gospels, and, of course, natural history.  A stunning reminder of humility, the importance of science, all told amidst a narrative of mountain climbing.


Sea Fire.gifSea Fire: Tales of Jesus and Fishing Irene Martin (Crossroad) $19.95 This is really surprising, part detective story, part Bible study, part cultural history of the fishing communities of the Sea of Galilee.  Martin is an Episcopal priest, New Testament scholar and a life-long fisher in the Pacific Northwest.  A bit academic, but could be fun to read for those who love fishing.


Early Spring.gifEarly Spring: An Ecologist and Her Children Wake to a Warming World  Amy Seidl (Beacon Press) $15.00  Beautifully written by a biologist mother ("with the mind of a scientist and the heart of a mom.") This explores the intricacies of nature and its assault in her own region, which and her family notice in their walks in the woods, their work in their garden and in conversations with their neighborhood.  Eloquent, touching, inspiring.  It is beautiful how a person can notice so very much, and care so deeply.


Teaching a Stone to Talk.gifTeaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters  Annie Dillard (HarperCollins) $13.00  Not every nature writer has won a Pultizer Prize, and fewer have gotten back cover blurbs from the great Edward Abby, who likened her to Thoreau and Emily Dickinson.  What a wide-ranging collection of thoughtful essays, mature, mysterious, interesting.


Holy the Firm.jpgHoly the Firm  Annie Dillard (HarperCollins) $13.00 Living on an island in the Puget Sound, this Pulitzer Prize winning author---raised a Presbyterian in Pittsburgh---ruminates on life, beauty, violence, creatures safe and wild.  Called "a rare and precious book" by theologian Frederick Buechner in the New York Times.


For the Time Being.gifFor the Time Being  Annie Dillard (Vintage) $13.95  Further essays by the exceptionally talented and profound philosopher, cultural critique and nature writer.  Can we discover wonder in even the darkest and most remote of life's corners? One reviewer called her "a verbal street fighter in the back alley of the greatest human mystery."  Well, maybe so, but she is an elegant one, at that.


Who Owns the Mountains?  Classic Selections Celebrating the Joys of Nature .jpgWho Owns the Mountains?  Classic Selections Celebrating the Joys of Nature  Henry van Dyke  (Northfield/Moody Press) $14.00  At the turn of the century that took us into the twentieth, Van Dyke was a literary star, especially known for his beautiful The Story of the Other Wise Man.  A dedicated Christian and renowned outdoorsman, this collection offers his stories, poems, and essays of fishing for salmon in Quebec, experiencing the folk lands of Scotland, hiking the Franconia notch in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and more.  Beautifully realized, pleasant and uplifting.

The View From Lazy Point.gifThe View From Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World Carl Sanfino (Picador) $18.00 This award-winning work is considered one of the great books of natural history in the 21st century, upbeat, interesting, hopeful, even as he describes birds and water creatures all over the globe, fish and fowl whose habitats are threatened by global climate change.  Sanfino waxes philsophical, a deeply caring, moral, and enjoyable scholar and outdoorsman, although he makes it clear that he does not believe God.  Still, there is much inspiring here, and much enjoyable reading, especially for those who love birding or who enjoy lovely descriptions of beach and wetland ecology.

American Earth.gifAmerican Earth: Environmental Writings Since Thoreau Edited by Bill McKibben (Library of America) $40.00  I cannot tell you how solid this sturdy hardback is, with ribbon marker and solid pages full of the best nature writing of our recent centuries.  Essential writings from Walt Whitman to John Muir, Frederick Law Olmsted to Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot; Aldo Leopold, John McPhee and Paul Hawkens and Buckminister Fuller.  There are those who we ought to have on our shelves: E.B. White, John Steinbeck, Rachel Carson, Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard, and a few surprises (P.T. Barnum, Woody Guthrie, Lyndon Johnson, Philip K. Dick) and some contemporary classics such as Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver and Barbara Kingsolver. Happily, a few important theologians are included such as Cal DeWitt, a fine evangelical voice. The introduction to each writer's excerpt is exceptionally useful and are themselves an education in literature, science, ecology, and beauty.  We cannot recommend this enough.


remember creation.gifRemember Creation: God's World of Wonder and Delight Scott Hoezee (Eerdmans) $15.00  This is basically a set of sermons, but, oh, what delightful and well-crafted sermons they are! Without being overly political, Rev. Hoezee reminds us that the ecological crisis is at first theological: God loves the creation He made and things like species extinction take away some of the glory and delight that God desires.  A moving, basic, book of solid Biblical reflections on why we should enjoy and care about the integrity of creation.

earthwise .gifEarthWise: A Guide to Hopeful Creation Care  Cal DeWitt (Faith Alive) $14.99  This is a fabulous, insightful, very useful Bible study guide with short chapters, incisive, rich ideas, and good study questions.  The best little paperback study of it's kind, written by a legendary evangelical, scientists and outdoorsman.  Recently updated. Great for studies on the trail or camp.

greenlg.jpgGreen Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet  Jonathan Merrit (FaithWords) $16.99  Merrit is a popular young voice of engaging evangelical faith, an emerging leader in Southern Baptist circles, and a great voice for Biblical orthodoxy applied creatively to the environmental crisis.  There are many books reflecting on environmental issues from a Christian perspective, and this is one of the best, most basic, and yet insightful ones. A great read!  Highly recommended.

making peace with the land.jpgMaking Peace with the Land: God's Call to Reconcile with Creation  Fred Bahnson & Norman Wirzba (IVP) $15.00  This is part of the remarkable series of books about reconciliation published by IVP and Duke Divinity School's Center for Reconciliation.  And it is truly one of the very best, a moving and nicely written study of God's reconciling work bringing together all things on heaven and Earth.  From serious study of unsustainable agricultural practices to daily living in alternative communities, this splendid study helps us appreciate creation and embody stewardly lifestyles, aware of God's great care to bring healing to the land itself.  Highly, highly recommended.  Forward by Bill McKibben.


for the beauti.gifFor the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care  Stephen Bouma-Predigar (BakerAcademic) $25.00 This is, in our opinion, the most important book yet done on a uniquely Christian perspective on the environmental crisis and the Biblical call to creation care.  Very thoughtful, serious, and essential.  A must-read for anyone who cares for the earth and appreciates her beauty and wants a profound understanding of our times. Some of this is nearly poetic, but much is solid environmental science, informed by great Biblical insight.  Bouma-Predigar is a popular teacher at Hope College.


Tending to Eden.gifTending to Eden: Environmental Stewardship for God's People  Scott Sabin (Judson Press) $18.00  Again, there are many great books on creation care, and we are listing just a few essential ones here.  This is indeed one of the very best, bringing together various streams of thought from several disciplines, written with candor and great care.  The author is an energetic leader, not the director of Plant with a Purpose, a Christian relief and development organization. Very highly recommended.


Green Revolution.gifGreen Revolution: Coming Together to Care for God's Creation  Ben Lowe  (IVP) $15.00  We suggest this for several reasons, one of which is that it shows the fabulous work being done in this field throughout the consortium of Christian Colleges and Universities schools.  That is, there are fantastic examples of faith-based, evangelical activism from places like Wheaton, Messiah, Gordon, Calvin, Seattle Pacific and the like.  Well written, informative, inspiring.  A must!

The Gospel According to the Earth.gifThe Gospel According to the Earth: Why the Good Book is a Green Book Matthew Sleeth (HarperOne) $22.99  Dr. Sleeth, of Asbury KY, is known for his great, little Serve God, Save the Planet (Zondervan; $14.99) and this is his more mature, ecumenical manifesto on why Christians simply must actively attend to and care for the beauties of the creation.  There is some very insightful Biblical study here, and tons of great information.

song of a scientist.jpgSong of a Scientist: The Harmony of a God-Soaked Universe Cal DeWitt (Square Inch Books) $14.99  DeWitt has been an evangelical, Reformed voice in the movement for Christian creation-care for decades and in this recent book he shares his own faith, his love of Scripture, creation, enviromental science, and offers keen insights about how it is all integrated together.  Very nice, insightful but not difficult reading at all.  Highly recommended.

wonder of the U.gifThe Wonder of the Universe: Hints of God in Our Fine-Tuned World  Karl Giberson (IVP) $16.00  One of the great scientists working in the Christian tradition (and co-founder of the BioLogos) is renowned for his Science & Religion Writing Workshops at Gordon College (and his much-debated book, Saving Darwin.)  Here, like a detective sleuthing out the greatest mysteries of all, he shows how great scientists are exploring the wonders of nature.  From modern cosmology to the history of science, from the beauty of the stars to the details of physics, this is a delightful, if serious, overview of how to see creation as the theater of God.

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June 23, 2012

The Message, compact edition, faux leather-bound, only $10. And two other great Bible bargains: paperback Message Remix and the new NLT The Way..

It's funny how I often want to frame things by our overarching perspective, telling the story of what we are about and,store front pic.jpg hopefully, why you care.  We are a bit of a niche type store, I know (here I go again) and feel like we can use our bookselling as an opportunity not just to sell stuff (especially stuff that is already widely available at WalMart) but to educate thoughtful Christian readers, and others who might be interested, in how a winsome Christian worldview might engage the culture in which we find ourselves with creativity and fidelity.  We write about, and try to sell, exceptional books, books which are often about the issues of the day or mature theology applied, living out faith in every aspect of life.

And so, in order to tell about some very cool Bibles we recently got in, and the incredible prices we are offering on them---basic info any salesman would want to share, not complicated at all, really---I started to write a big 'ol essay on Bible translations, starting to make the case for using a variety of editions, the strengths and weaknesses of some them, and how to select a good study Bible, even.  Pages and pages in, I realized I was in over my head, set it aside for a bit (pledging to work on it more, posting it perhaps as a monthly column) and decided I'd just do my job quickly tonight.  Skip the big story or the teachable moment.  Here's three great deals on three new Bibles.

We have two editions of Eugene Peterson's fascinating and respected paraphrase of the Bible, The Message, on sale. First a new paperback, marked down, then a great sale item.   

Then we have another Bible surprise. 

You know our story: as followers of Jesus we simply have to increase our Biblical literacy, and we are happy to promote any number of different sort of Bible resources to help.  Here, we are celebrating The Message and a thoughtful new edition of a groovy classic.  On sale.  Here ya go.


The Message Remix wooden.jpgThe Message// Remix edition  (NavPress) paperback  $19.99 NOW ONLY $15.00  This is the first time there has been a paperback of the best-selling "Remix" edition.  The Remix is, frankly, pretty much the same as the big standard editions of The Message but has a hip graphic format of the verses (01Kings, for instance, with modern-design large font numbers notable on each page) and an only slightly abbreviated version of each of Peterson's excellent introductions to each book of the Bible.  It is in a chunky, handy size. Usually, when a customer wants to try The Message---as you all should, as it is so, so interesting, upbeat, plainspoken and fresh---he or she wants to start with the least expensive edition, which are the two Remix editions.  There are beautiful leather ones of the regular version, full size and compact, and we stock each and every edition that is published (including one that is a real bargain, a parallel edition that has the NIV and The Message side by side.)  But the only Remix editions that have previously been available have been the hardbacks---one with a tan, wooden look, and one with a gray, cement look.  These were the least expensive versions of The Message you could get making them our most popular ones.  Until now.

So, now---ta-daaaa---this new paperback Remix is the least expensive one you will be able to get.  A swell, handy 5 x 7 size (of the "wooden" look cover.)  We are very, very excited. and if you want to try The Message, this is a great way to start.  The regular price is the least expensive, as I've said, but with our sale price, it is the best buy you're going to find.

  SALE PRICE $10.00
message remix tan in box.gifThe Message//Remix edition compact sized, imitation-leather (NavPress) regularly $29.99  NOW ONLY $10.00  While supplies last.

This is a really, really handsome, small-size (4 x 6) Remix edition which is fantastic to carry, nice to the touch.  The print is quite small, of course, as with any compact edition.

It comes in this cool-looking slipcover, and is a smooth, rich, tan faux leather (although it sure feels like the real thing.)  Has a ribbon marker.  Love it.  For ten bucks, it is about the best Bible deal we've seen in a long time.  Get a few to give as gifts.

We have a limited supply of these. We no longer have any of these in stock.  Sorry.  We can offer them at 20% off.

the way.pngThe Way  New Living Translation (Tyndale) paperback regular $24.95
NOW ONLY $15.00  If you are not old enough to recall, maybe you've seen 'em lying dog-eared in old Sunday school classes, at musty retreat centers or on the thrift shop dollar table.  I'm talking about the legendary, really groovy, The Way, which was a 1970s paperback paraphrase of the Bible called The Living Bible, laden with hip Biblical pull quotes about love and peace and meaning and joy, very artsy black & white photos of girls with long blond hair or blooming Afros, all decked out with love beads and "one way" signs. This was revolutionary at the time, making this easy-to-read paraphrase a great tool to hand out to jaded hippies and more typical youth who were tired of their grandma's KJV or their parent's RSV.  This was way out, man, and we loved it.  Most of us soon tired of the lame paraphrase that was The Living Bible and the pictures eventually appeared dated.  But it was a huge gift in those years and many of us cherish the memories of our youthful forays into the Bible, being read for real, with honest reflection pieces, offered in a package that was relevant and inviting. 

In that same spirit, the same publisher has done a Way 2.0, so to speak.  It is in thethe way bible.jpg excellent, contemporary translation (The fairly recent New Living Translation, or NLT, not to be confused with the old LB paraphrase) and has an all new sleek design, pretty darn hip. The audience and appeal is the same: youth and young adults who appreciate good quotes, honest ruminations, great gallery-quality photos, well-cropped in b/w awesomeness, all in a design that is artful, but not aloof or overly formal.  This is a Bible to give away to teens or young adults who want a hot-looking paperback in a reliable, fresh translation of the Greek and Hebrew.  (Little known fact: our friend, Bible scholar and worldview guru Al Wolters led the exceptional team that did Job in the NLT. Go here if you want more information on the NLT.)

This stylish packaging vibe really is a great idea, and we're happy to suggest it to you. 

The Way Genesis.jpgSome well known writers for youth ministry curriculum worked on the sidebars, but since it is good for any 20-something, many other good folks contributed--writers like Scot McKnight, Phyllis Tickle, music producer Charlie Peacock, human rights activist from IJM, Gary Haugen, Orthodox theologian Frederica Mathewes-Green, Presbyterian John Franke, Emma Sleeth, Richard Stearns, Soong-Chan Rah, just to name a few.  There are over 400 different features, including devotionals, meditations and personal stories offered as resources within The Way to help readers follow in the way of Jesus.  Go here for a list of some of the contributors and a listing of the thoughtful features.  Hats off to Mark Oestreicher who headed up the team, the largest publishing project he ever did (as he says in his blog post about it, here.)  We are pretty excited about this, and with our limited time sale offer, it might be a good think to consider.


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June 27, 2012

10 Fun Summer Reads: Great, Enjoyable Non-Fiction

Here are some books that are truly fun, really good reads, fantastic for your Summer reading pleasures. Today, we offer a nice list of some nonfiction books, sale-priced at 20% off.  Tomorrow I'll add to the fun with 10 enjoyable novels.   Don't miss the opportunities these warmer, longer days provide to slow down a bit, pray some, and read a bit. Enjoy fiction and non-fiction, upbeat, memorable writing, taking pleasure in this God-given gift of spending time with enjoyable books. 

ddh.jpgDrop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection  A.J. Jacobs (Simon & Schuster) $26.00  SALE PRICE $20.80 He starts off in the intro making me laugh right out loud by the end of the first page, but I was primed, because the full-color inside endpapers themselves made me laugh right out loud; twice, seeing the front and the back.  He explains that this is the third leg of a journey.  He improved his mind, or at least tried to, in The Know it All (a tremendous book about reading Encyclopedia Britannica) and then worked on his spirit in the justly famous Year of Living Biblically (an all time favorite--you have to read it!) and now he is going to work on his body.  Yep, it is one of those kind, like his others, and you will learn so much along the way about the human body, your health and well-being, and be completely entertained.  In what one review called a "riotous, madcap book" you will explore the absurd stuff some people try, discover which health fads really do make sense (chew your food!) and the sublime of science of well-being, including various complimentary medicine type practices.  You'll enjoy the story and glean a whole lot of practical health practices--maybe even some inspiration.  Dr. Oz even endorses it!  By the way, he's fearless in what he shares and you will cringe. And laugh.  Maybe cry. 

Here is what Mary Roach (Bonk and Packing for Mars) wrote:   

A.J. Jacobs is very, very bad for your health. He will keep you up reading til 2 a.m., disturbing your circadian rhythms, making you sleep through breakfast and overeat at lunch. He is delicious. He's habit-forming. He will give you infectious titters and terminal glee. Don't let that stop you. Indulge.

WIld-by-Cheryl-Strayed-A-Trail-of-Tears_articleimage.jpgWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail  Cheryl Strayed (Knopf) $25.95 SALE PRICE $20.75  I was telling everybody who would listen about this new book when I was only a quarter ways through; as you most likely know, dear Oprah W. started up her book club again, just because (as she tells it) she needed to talk to people about this story!  I swear I was big on this before Oprah's Book Club 2.0 (thank you very much.) Wild is an epic story of grief and (really) bad choices, adventure and drama, sex and longing, wilderness within and without as the author tries in great solitude found in the stunning great Western outdoors, to find herself as she hikes the more rugged and lesser-known hiking trail that was created the same time as the East Coast Appalachian Trail.  She treks with a huge pack and some great books through the Mojave Desert and over some snow-packed mountains and some stunning landscapes. She meets people along the way, presses her own physical abilities, copes with the inner landscape, and survives to tell us in thrilling, smart prose.  A breathtaking adventure story, to be sure, and a moving memoir of a woman trying to come to terms with her loss and confusion and the grand search for life's meaning. There is a lot on the internet with Ms Strayed; start here.

fly-fishing.jpgFly-Fishing, The Sacred Art: Casting a Fly as a Spiritual Practice  Rabbi Eric Eisenkramer and Rev. Michael Attas  (Skylight Paths) $16.99  SALE PRICE $13.55   Forget the jokes about a Rabbi and minister going into a bar; here they go out to streams, explaining the allure and spiritual potential, in fly fishing.  Beautiful, interesting, informative, with describing things from tie flying to enjoying the flowing streams to working on river conservation. I have only fished with flies a few times, but I enjoyed dipping in to this book and found myself recalling my grandfathers who were both stellar fishermen.  Nice!

Tfragrance of g.gifhe Fragrance of God  Vigen Guroian (Eerdmans) $13.00  SALE PRICE $10.40  Rich, elegant, economical prose that is beautiful to read.  The topic: God's faithfulness to save his cosmos, the beauty of the Earth, sensuousness redeemed by way of gardening.  This lovely little hand-sized book is about digging in the dirt (literally) but also about the dirt of our lives, the ups and downs, and how to thoughtfully navigate this wondrous journey towards Paradise.  Just lovely, and truly beautiful!  As an Orthodox Christian, by the way, he plants his lavish (renowned) garden in ways that flowers bloom in the colors of the liturgical calendar.

digging in.jpgDigging In: Tending to Life in Your Own Backyard  Robert Benson (Waterbrook) $12.99  SALE PRICE $10.40  I've celebrated this book before -- maybe each summer, come to think of it--- and am happy to suggest it again.  Although most all of Robert's gorgeously concise books are perfect summer reads, this is a favorite.  Digging In is about his backyard work, his joy in landscaping, and how he and his wife fell in love with their neighborhood.  Highly recommended!   But so are his others.  I'll skip the heavier ones about prayer and contemplation, but remind you of these upbeat ones: The Game (Tarcher; $12.95) is a very elegant must-read if you are a baseball fan, maybe more-so if you're not; A Good Neighbor: Benedict's Guide to Community (Paraclete; $14.99) is about loving well those God gives to us. A Good Life: Benedict's Guide to Everyday Joy (Paraclete; $13.95) is a short, sweet and quite practical introduction to Benedictine spirituality and lifestyle. Home by Another Way: Notes from the Caribbean (Waterbrook; $13.99) offers great vacationy insight about our pace of life, about beauty and a sense of place, about family rituals and, yep, the beautiful Caribbean people and beaches.  Great, meaningful fun for armchair travelers.  Sheer delight and abundant wisdom in all of these. Help us spread the word about this wonderful author. Enjoy!

second-nature-gardeners-education-michael-pollan-paperback-cover-art.jpgSecond Nature: A Gardener's Education  Michael Pollen (Grove) $15.00  SALE PRICE $12.00  Noel Perrin in USA Today called this "one of the most distinguished gardening books of our time."  It is a true joy to read, if you like serious cultural analysis, social history, botany, horticulture, and want to travel along a green path of intellectual stimulation, ruminating on all manner of natural stuff.   This really is a learned but glorious reflection on so many aspects of gardening that you will be delighted to learn more than you could imagine. You surely know of Michael Pollan from the prestigious foodie book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and his numerous public appearance and natural eating columns.  This manifesto about our relationship with nature ought to be better known.

dall.pngDallas and the Spitfire: An Old Car, and Ex-Con, and an Unlikely Friendship  Ted Kluck & Dallas Jahncke (Bethany Publishing House) $14.99 SALE PRICE $11.99   Here is what I wrote about this when I suggested it at our very cool Father's Day post:  This is an fine book in a great genre---like a "buddy movie" sort of, and fun for any guy.  This tells of a solid Christian fellow discipling a messed up, druggie, ex-con. But, wait, this relationship isn't all that simple---the ex-con teaches the Christian guy a bunch: it is not a "how to mentor" guidebook or a one-sided inspiration tale.  It is the narrative of a friendship, a messy and funny biography of this crazy dream of fixing up an old car and learning of God's great grace through it all.  This is story which is ore profound perhaps even than it wants to be. ("At the risk of embarrassing these nitty-gritty guys, this is ultimately a story about love," writes Justin Taylor.)  Kluck is a good writer (whose stuff has been seen in the ESPN magazine.)  Dallas and the Spitfire really is a wild tale, profoundly informed by good theology, and a true love for that old Triumph Spitfire. 

when women were birds close up.jpgWhen Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice  Terry Tempest Williams (FSG) $23.00  SALE PRICE $18.40  You may recall how we have raved about Refuge, the memoir Ms Williams wrote after leaving her large, Utah, Mormon clan, and taking up her calling to speak truth to power, particularly around environmental concerns.  We were deeply moved by her unusual book about mosaics, the protection of threatened prairie-dogs and the genocide in Rwanda, Finding Beauty in a Broken World.  Here in this new one she ruminates profoundly on how an author--how anyone, really--finds a voice, in 54 short chapters exploring the mystery of her mother's saved journals intentionally left to her---journals which were all blank. This very creatively-written book may not be for everyone as it is demanding, thoughtful literature, but it will be one of the talked about books of the year.  Anne Lamott says of the writing of Williams that it is "brilliant, meditative, and full of surprises, wisdom, and wonder. She's one of those writers who changes people's lives by encouraging attention and a slow, patient, awakening."  You will be blown away by this if you enjoy very artfully crafted, passionately charged reflections with environmental and feminist themes.  By the way, I featured the close-up picture, above, to show the lovely, white, embossed cover.  Very handsomely done.

Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son
Anne Lamott and Sam Lamott (Riverhead Books)  $26.95 SALE PRICE $21.55some assembly required.jpg 
Again, we announced this earlier, when it very first came out a few months ago, but it seems quite right to share it here, again, as a fun summer read. What an enjoyable book, a great memoir of Anne's 19-year old son's (unexpected) baby and his admittedly complicated relationship with the baby's mother.  You may recall Sam as a baby from her break-out book Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year and now he is all grown up, studying at a local community college. Sam chimes in a bit and it is poignant to read about this year in their life amidst hardship, chaos, laughter and some God-given traveling mercies.  Her's is a bohemian and eccentric crew and she has a remarkable gift for being able to turn a phrase, and to build a paragraph that is at once touching, insightful, and drop-dead funny.

mondays with my p.jpgMondays with My Old Pastor  Jose Luis Navajo (Nelson) $15.99  SALE PRICE $12.79  A pastor verging on serious burn-out decides to get together each Monday with his old friend and mentor to reflect on his life and faith, wondering why he is so emotionally drained and spiritually dry---think of format and the power of the story Tuesdays With Morrie.  This Spanish pastor tells the story of their meetings quite beautifully, with such Biblical wisdom, that although it is a true memoir, and mostly a book designed to help your basic Christian living, finding faith in hard times (and in the process of aging) it so well written and translated and so very enjoyable, I wanted to list it here. Just look at the cover!  One good customer of ours, a quite literate pastor, himself, reported that as soon as he finished it, he immediately started it all over again.  Very nicely done---a great way to refresh your faith during the dog days of summer.

As I said, these are just 10 good non-fiction recommendations that feature fine writing and engaging styles.  Tomorrow, we'll post 10 good fiction recommendations, novels that are fun and sometimes funny, uplifting, pleasurable for summer reads.


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June 28, 2012

10 Fun Summer Novels: Let These Enjoyable Tales Take You to Another Place and be Inspired

Yesterday I listed 10 good suggestions for upbeat non-fiction summer reads, fun and funny, inspiring and well-written.  Of course there are tons of other good non-fiction works, and even some scholarly works can be truly beautiful, good and true and pleasurable.  But those listed made a good list and we are grateful for those who re-posted it, tweeted it, and ordered some.  We'll revisit excellent new nonfiction titles, soon. 

Today, why not pick up for yourself or for a friend, a new novel, something you hadn't quite intended or considered, a surprising tale that might stimulate your imagination and bring that unique pleasure found only between the pages of a books?  Recommending novels is tricky, since there are so many level of readers and so many varying expectations of what makes a good story or the writing pleasurable.  Some of these are overtly religious.  Some are not at all.  Like good art, they all tell it slant, as the poet said.  For whatever reason, they seemed like fine summer reads.  Enjoy

month of summer.jpgA Month of Summer  Lisa Wingate (NAL) $14.00  Wingate has published on evangelical publishing houses but here she writes for a more general mainstream market.  One reviewer says she is a "glorious storyteller" and many have affirmed how heartfelt and moving her emotionally-fulfilling stories can be.  There is a nice conversation guide included making this good for book clubs.  This "ordinary summer" brings an extraordinary change of heart regarding Rebecca Macklin's plans when she realizes her aging father needs to be put in a nursing home.  She is a busy, high-energy LA lawyer who must go back to her Texas home.  Not exactly chick lit, this is a story of separation and reconciliation, of the yearning of the heart and of the true meaning of family.  One of our staff loved this, and we heartily recommend it for a fun summer read.

Nothing to Hide.jpgNothing to Hide J. Mark Bertrand (Bethany House) $14.99  You know we love Bertrand's book on the development of a Christian perspective and way of life, (Re)Thinking Worldview, and we have often recommended his previous hard-boiled crime stories (Back on Murder and Pattern of Wounds) to those who want some realistic  grit to their suspense diet.  As the exceptionally thoughtful Books & Culture notes, "This is one of those series that is worthy getting attached to."  It is gritty, chilling, there is a grisly homicide, an international threat.  Brand new, but those who have read the previous two Roland March books have offered serious praise for those and have been eagerly awaiting this one from this smart, serious author.  Put on your seat belt.
*Please note: this manuscript was naturally started several years ago and the gun-running FBI sting sub-plot has nothing to do with the now controversial nuttiness of the Fast and Furious operation.  Who knew Christian fiction could be so prescient? 
all three.jpg

whipping club.jpgThe Whipping Club: A Novel  Deborah Henry (T.S. Poetry Press) $14.95  Get this backstory:  L.L. Barkatt is a friend and a very esteemed writer, herself.  She started a little indie press with literally a handful of great, Christian poets who deserved to have their serious work published. Hats off, way to go, three cheers, etcetera. And, alas, Ms Barkatt somehow found this extraordinary novel, has blogged and talked and celebrated it, so--naturally--we wanted to stock it.  No sooner did it come in the other day when we get this unbelievable news: O Magazine this month (get it quick at your newsstand or grocery store) did a nice story of the top 50 summer fiction reads, Beach Books, so to speak.  Guess what?  49 were from fairly traditional presses, the big boys who get on these kinds of good, but rather predictable lists.  But wait, one (just one!) was from a small press, a very small press called, you guessed it, T.S. Poetry Press.  Congratulations to T.S. Poetry Press for doing their first novel, and for getting discovered in one of the most popular magazines in the world.  The prestigious Kirkus Review calls this new, serious novel "A powerful saga of love and survival." One New York Times bestselling novelist called it "so breathtakingly good it seems to burn into your heart."  Set in the 1960's Irish orphanages, it will leave you sobered and moved and glad for what a good novel can do. *Please note, we are unable to offer a discount on this title

harvest of r.jpgHarvest of Rubies  Tessa Afshar  River North) $14.99  The story of the author herself is pretty remarkable---she was raised in Iran, converted to Christianity and ended up at Yale Divinity School.  This is her second novel set in Old Testament times -- the first was Pearl in the Sand (a story of the Bible character Rahab, set amidst the fall of Jericho) which was praised for its particular attention to detail about the customs, clothing and culture of this time period in the ancient near East.  Harvest of Rubies begins in 457 BC and is about the prophet Nehemiah's cousin who has been catapulted into the center of the Persian court---becoming the Queen's favorite scribe through her own literary abilities.  When she meets Darius Pasargadae, whom she scorns, there is an arranged marriage; harem life, and the start of an amazing story you won't be able to put down.

Alif The Unseen
  G. Willow Wilson  (Grove Press) $25.00  Wilson became known for anAlif-the-Unseen-A-Novel-About-a-Young-Arab-Indian-Hacker-by-G.-Willow-Wilson.png important graphic novel or two a few years ago and haw quite a following, world-wide, and this surreal, powerful story set in world of the Arab Spring is getting early rave reviews as a tour de force.  It is so unusual, one can hardly explain what it is about, but here is the short version: an Arab-Indian hacker named Alif (the first letter of the Arabic alphabet) has been driven underground by repressive security forces where he soon discovers an ancient tale, new levels of information technology, and does battle with forces seen and unseen.  One reviewer says it is driven by "a hot ionic charge between higher math and Arabian myth" giving us a story of "literary enchantment, political change, and religious mystery."  Critic Hooman Majd calls it "a multicultural Harry Potter for the digital age."  Another writer called it "a Golden Compass for the Arab Spring."  Alif the Unseen is certainly an ambitious work and seems to mix myth and magic and politics and storytelling.  Perhaps for fans of Neil Gaiman and the like.  This is not your old-school Tolkien-esque fantasy!

hope springs.jpgHope Springs  Kim Cash Tate (Nelson) $15.99  I don't know how much you follow evangelical Christian fiction, but this is a fine example of the complex stories and fine writing that is increasingly available from Christian publishing houses, publishers that increasingly tackle pressing social issues.  While this may not be Pulitzer Prize caliber literature, it works. The author is smart (with a law degree, no less.)   This is perfect beach book, the dialogue is breezy and the story moves along.  Here are two really interesting things about it: firstly, it is about small town life (South Carolina) and what it might be like when adults born there return.  Three women become friends in this small town, and the troubles they encounter are earnest and interesting.  And, also, there are some very interesting things going on: one woman is herself engaged in serious women's ministry, but her husband, a pastor, feels called to become the minister at his late father's church in the town of Hope Springs.  How many books are about ministerial couples and their differing visions of ministry?  Very moving is the sub-plot of the racial divisions in the church and town, and what God might have in store as the three women fine new ways to be in this old place. Nice story, interesting characters, good setting, nice message.

in the kingdom of men.jpgIn the Kingdom of Men  Kim Barnes (Knopf) $24.95  With deckled edges and a handsome cover this beautiful hardback is getting impressive reviews, seriously considered, named as very important.  Barnes is a new favorite author of mine and I will soon review her stunning coming of age memoir, which I could not put down and can't stop thinking about In the Wilderness and its powerful sequel, Hungry for the World. This new novel is set in the American heartland and in Saudi Arabia.  As Elizabeth Berg has written about this mesmerizing novel, these two locations "couldn't be more different. But from the point of view of a woman not allowed to be herself, the two places have startling similarities." Set in the 1960's oil rush it is historical and romantic and very much about changing mores around gender and race.  Anthony Doerr calls it "Mad Men meets The Sheltering Sky, a Revolutionary Road for the oil-addicted."  And, he continues, "It's an utter pleasure to read."  Now that is a winning combo.  You heard it here first.

As One Devil to Another  Richard Platt (Tyndale) $15.99  This is not the first person to try aas one devil.jpg hand at duplicating the charm and great insight and clever plot of the C.S. Lewis classic Screwtape Letters.  I believe it is the first to get an amazing endorsement from the understandably reluctant-to-endorse Walter Hooper, who says "It reads as if C.S. Lewis himself had written it."   Wow. A fiendish correspondence!

director's cut.jpgThe Director's Cut: A Novel  Janice Thompson (Revell) $14.99  I haven't read this but just wanted to show some of the nifty sorts of fun reads we have on our shelves here.  This is from the third in the light "Backstage Pass" series, which, as you might guess, is set in the fabulously interesting and most-usually entertaining sub-culture of Hollywood film-making and TV production.  Okay, so the blurb on the back starts out with the over-the-top cheesy line "the one thing she can't direct is her heart."  If that doesn't make you want to laugh your way through this zany story, well, go back to the demonic correspondence listed above or the more highbrow fiction selections.  For a light-hearted love story written by a real-life TV screenwriter, with a strong faith, you'll get a kick out of this.

meryl.jpgThe Meryl Streep Movie Club  Mia March (Gallery Books) $15.00   You've heard of The Friday Night Knitting Club and The Jane Austen Book Club and the appeal is obvious.  Here, in what looks likes a fantastic, enjoyable story, three women find happiness in their friendship with one another and, well, the movies of Meryl Streep.  What an idea for chick-lit!  The front says "A Novel of Love, Family, and Movie Night."   Ha!  I don't have to tell you the plot, but it involves them watching ten movies together; can you guess which 10 they are?  There is an interview with the author in the back and a fun discussion group---go on, call up some friends and do it!  Set on the coast of Maine, making it all the more fun for an entertaining summer read.

Okay, that's 10, but there are others I'd love to talk about.  I just read the very intelligentlythat distant land.jpg written, captivating, philosophical study of memory, A Sense of an Ending by the esteemed British novelist, Julian Barnes. Beth and another staff person here are reading Suzanne Joinson's  A Lady's Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar which is thoughtfully rich and perhaps more complicated (and darker) than it sounds.   But I certainly have to include something in the genre of short stories --  great for those short mini-vacations we grab on a day off or a slow Sunday afternoon.  There are plenty, but here is a classic, with some precious, charming stories with radically profound, and we believe, deeply Christian meaning.

That Distant Land: The Collected Stories
(Counterpoint) $18.95 You know the essays, poetry, and novels of Wendell Berry. You know he is an elegant, rural writer, telling stories, always, of his people in Western Kentucky. This nice paperback includes nearly 20 short stories or novellas (from his decades of work)  running nearly 500 pages.  What a nice, nice collection, perfect to dip into as the spirit moves.  Highly recommended.


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