About May 2013

This page contains all entries posted to Hearts & Minds Books in May 2013. They are listed from oldest to newest.

April 2013 is the previous archive.

June 2013 is the next archive.

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

May 2013 Archives

May 5, 2013

The Christian Parenting Handbook: 50 Heart-Based Strategies for All the Stages of Your Child's Life by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller (Nelson) ON SALE

Is a comment an aside if it is the first thing written? Regardless, here it is, an opening aside: on my wife's birthday a few weeks ago, we needed a new alternator for the van, and a new hot water heater.  There was just flat-out nothing sentimental or nice about her gifts this year.

Which brings me to this: your wife (if you are a reader who is a husband), should she be a mom, most likely does not want an appliance for Mother's Day.  And certainly not a part for under the hood of the mini-van.

But I also have a hunch, and I bet you are with me on this, that she doesn't really need some fancy piece of jewelry like I saw in all the Sunday paper Mother's Day ads today. Or a sexy little cocktail dress (what were those models, like, twenty?)

So, I guess the "don't celebrate motherhood with an appliance or auto part (or glitzy bling -- it ain't Valentine's Day, after all)" advise isn't an aside, it is a lead-in. A set up.  I think it is a great way to honor a mom by getting her a book which celebrates her desire to take up her parenting vocation with intentionality and care.  Mother's Day is this coming Sunday, and we'd love for you to order a book from us as a Mother's Day gift -- which we can gift wrap for free, and enclose a little note if we send it to her for you. Most good moms would love a good book, especially if it is smart and practical. And today's feature is a great suggestion.  And you can give it for Father's Day, too, so order extras for some guys you know!

Tchristian parenting handbook.jpghe Christian Parenting Handbook: 50 Heart-Based Strategies for All the Stages of Your Child's Life  by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller (Thomas Nelson) sells typical for $16.99 although we have it at a Hearts & Minds BookNotes 20% or so discount.  This upbeat and lovely paperback would make a great gift for any parent you know. It seems to me that while Christian parenting books are nearly "a dime a dozen" some are either too psychological and formulaic, without much distinctively Christian insight, or they are so laden with theology and heady analysis that they aren't that practical.  Some are so full of tender care that they drip with sappy sentimentality; others are so strict that they just seem harsh. (Including, I think, some authors who make much of God and grace and a "gospel-centered" approach. Yikes!)  Finding a thoughtful, well-written, insightful but user-friendly handbook from a balanced perspective is not as easy as it seems, even in bookstores where there are dozens and dozens of mostly fine choices.

We have our handful of favorites and the previous books of Turansky and Miller haveparenting is heart work.jpg been high on our list.  Parenting is Heart Work, Say Good-Bye to Whining, Complaining and Bad Attitudes... in You and Your Kids, and Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character... in You and Your Kids are each must-reads.  In these, and in this new one, they are clear that they believe that parents are to evoke "heart change" in their children.  That is, behavior modification and compliance -- raising "nice" well-behaved kids who don't embarrass us in public -- is not the goal.  We don't wish only for kids to obey us in dutiful compliance, but for children to desire to do the right thing, to be people of character, to be followers of Christ who enhance the family with good energy, not draining it with bad.  We want them to learn to take responsibility and to be kids of compassion. In a way, they have set the bar high, but they write and work with a light touch.  Very nice!

Turansky and Miller take up their position within the plethora of family-oriented self-help books wisely in the philosophical and theological middle. They aren't about just having fine-looking outcomes; they want deeper heart change, although they aren't so religious and into character formation that they are in la-la land.  No, these are real parents, who understand real children and real parents, and realize that through God's grace, with some intentional effort, laughter, outside help (from coaches, teachers, church groups and the like) and a little luck, children can be mentored into gracious maturity and can turn out to be kids we enjoy and young adults we admire.  And they are masters at showing us how it it is done, pointing to example after example.

In many ways, The Christian Parenting Handbook is a culmination of their 25 years of workturansky.jpgJoanneCandid7Small.jpg on this.  It offers their 50 best ideas, their top 50 strategies, short chapters that have proven to be the most fruitful (some of these were previously published in the newsletter of their National Center for Biblical Parenting and Biblical Parenting University, an on-line course they have taught for years.  Watch their brief introductory video to get a sense of their style. This new handbook really provides the cream of the crop, the best work they've done, distilled into enjoyable, easy-to-understand bites.

When I say that this represents the best of the research, work, writing and prayerful consideration of Scott and Joanne, that is truly significant!  They have been at this a long time, have been on endless speaking tours, have tirelessly done workshops and conferences, large and small events, here in the mid-Atlantic and (honestly) in places quite far away. They have listened, observed, talked with thousands of parents of all ages and cultures. They are always busy, have a spectacular array of good resources at their useful website (more on that anon) and can talk for hours about all that they have come to learn. Yes, to say that this is their best work is really saying something!

Again, The Christian Parenting Handbook offers 50 good strategies for creating the sort of parenting style and home-life that hopes for gospel-driven, wholesome heart transformation.  It invites creativity, flexibility, and prayerful attentiveness rather than a formula.  It doesn't give formulas, as they just aren't technique-driven teachers. But, as I've hinted, they don't (like some authors) over-react against easy steps and simple formulas so much that all they offer is broad, visionary ideals.  No, they have case studies and stories and examples which illustrate their principles, underscoring that you can do this!  We have heard from our own customers -- and from my own use of one in a time of personal struggle -- about how applying the insights of their previous books that this material can be life changing.  

We all want better home lives, and those who have children at home -- from little ones to teenagers -- can certainly benefit from the guidance, gentle support, wise teaching, and helpful ideas shared in this wonderful resource.

The wonderful opening chapter sets the tone and, in a way actually illustrates much of their own philosophy of parenting.  It is called "Developing Your Own Biblical Philosophy of Parenting" and that's it!  They don't want to force compliance or demand that they have all the answers or that their perfect plan is all you need. No, they invite you to have your own heart touched by the profound grace of God, to have your own mind formed  by a Biblical worldview, to have your own family habits guided by the lovely mercies (and, yes, hard teachings) of the Lord Jesus Christ. So, yes, even in this first chapter they are not bludgeoning readers, but inviting you to think along with them and consider with your own discernment and then to be creative and find a pattern of parenting that is faithful and fruitful, for you and your kids.  My kids are mostly grown, and I was deeply moved by this book, even the introduction!

Here are just a few the kinds of chapters they offer.  I hope it gives you an indication of how interesting and fun, wise and helpful, these diverse entries are.

  • Consistency is Overrated
  • Build Internal Motivation
  • Consequences Aren't the Only Answer
  • Parenting is an Investment -- Think Long Term
  • Bookmark Good  Days
  • It Takes Two to Argue But Only One to Stop
  • Children Can Only Take as Much Pressure as the Relationship Will Allow
  • Be Prepared for the Three Arenas of Resistance
  • Use Creativity to Teach Your Kids Spiritual Truths
  • Teach Kids to Communicate Emotions Wisely
  • Firmness Doesn't Require Harshness
  • Good Character Qualities Misused

In a bit more than 200 pages, they offer 50 of these sorts of well thought-through, Biblically-grounded, very practical, and quite interesting, short pieces.  They aren't random, really, but they can be dipped in to as needed.  It really is a handbook -- one you will use over time, keeping it handy for years to come.  I am sure of it.

Bchristian parenting handbook.jpgy the way, to illustrate their fairly centrist, balanced view, consider their thoughtful chapter on spanking. The book has been out a week (although many bloggers have been promoting it beforehand) and they have already gotten some firm rebuking letters from both sides -- some say they are too conservative, some say they are too liberal (or something like that.) Although they do not rule it out, they fear that spanking is often used in anger, which is troubling, and that it frankly isn't that helpful, anyway. (The Turansky's have served as foster parents and to foster kids one has to pledge not to spank. And guess what? They learned, even though they think it is Biblically-permissible, that there are a whole lot of other, better strategies that can be used in times when discipline is needed.) So, they are moderate, practical, living in the "real world" and yet have remarkably good hopes to see Christ honored and children nurtured in transforming ways by the gospel, and by the fruit our own on-going inner formation.

We are big fans of The Christian Parenting Handbook and are happy to commend it, even5books.jpg now, as a way to honor and assist some mother you may know.  What a nice gift it would make!  We carry all their other resources as well, including a brand new set that Turansky and Miller, with some help from others, have created, a set of five books, covering parenting ideas throughout the developmental stages of a child's life.  Let us know if you have questions about any of their other good work.

The authors have other good resources at their National Center for Biblical Parenting website.  Check 'em out.

on parenting banner.jpg
Of course, there are oodles of other family-related books of various styles, formats and theological tones. We have a lot!  And other kinds of books are certainly appreciated as Mother's Day gifts.  We realize, naturally, that your own mom may not be the target audience for this or any other parenting book. So, buy her a cookbook or gardening book, a novel, a women's Bible, a memoir, a current event study or historical biography, or a guide to deeper spirituality.  We've got so many great books here at the shop, and books make such wonderful gifts.  As always, we have gift certificates, too, which we can send to you, or to your mom on your behalf. Just let us know how we can help.  Thanks.  To you and your mom.


The Christian Parenting Handbook

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May 11, 2013

Musician and author Michael Card speaking on his Biblical Imagination Series commentaries. Co-sponsored by IVP and Hearts & Minds Thursday, May 16th, 2013.

I want to tell you that we have the brand new Matthew: The Gospel of Identity commentarye with m c.jpg by classy/casual acoustic musician (and smarty-pants author) Mr. Michael Card, published in very handsome paperbacks by the excellent InterVarsity Press (regularly priced at $18.00.)  We have it (and other books by Mr. Card) on sale and if you write to us before Thursday, we can get you an autographed one, at our sale price, too. Yep, we'll do our best to score you an autographed copy on Thursday.

Why Thursday, you ask?  We are sponsoring a talk by Michael here, where he will tell us about the Biblical Imagination Series he's been doing, lecture or read a bit from the new Matthew volume, and play some music inspired by the gospel texts.  Thanks to near-by friends at Living Word Community Church in Red Lion who are partnering with us to host Michael for this author appearance, book signing, and mini-concert.  As we are in our 30th year of doing this bookselling thing, we are honored to have such a high caliber musician turned author gracing us, and glad for the on-going support of LWCC.  Learn more about the "Evening with Michael Card" here.

However, even if you are not in the area, you should know about Card's latest project, this "Biblical Imagination" series of books and recordings.  I hope you enjoy my ruminations on his significance and the features of his latest work. 

Depending on your age and faith culture, you may know that Michael Card penned classic pop songs like "Love Crucified Arose", "Known By the Scars", the lovely "El Shaddai" made famous by Amy Grant and the still popular "Joseph's Song" which you probably heard on the radio this past December. 

Back in the 80s and 90s, what I sometimes call the "early-middle period" of contemporary Christian music, there were some really dumb acts, artists with shallow theology and cheesy production.  The mimicking of any hot trend was incessant and the reputation of the industry was somewhat of an embarrassment.  Some CCM stuff was terrible. Yet, there were artists we enjoyed and some whose records remain among my all time favorites.  From the Lost Dogs to Rich Mullins, the 77s and The Choir (and, of course, the late great Mark Heard) there were edgy, vital artists who did an enduring body of artful  work  Some CCM stuff was brilliant.

Ajoy in the journey mc.jpgnd then there was Michael Card.  Card wasn't a cheap entertainer or a glitzy musical evangelist, but he never tried to be an avant garde, new wave (or any wave) heady, cryptic artiste, either.  He was faithful at doing what he did well: theologically-literate, story-songs about Biblical texts.  He worked overtime getting an MDiv in Biblical studies, being mentored in the details of exegesis by the remarkable New Testament scholar William Lane. And he used his notable song-writing abilities to take Bible stories and turn them into soft-rock, often acoustic tunes which sometimes had a nearly hymn-like feel.  With soft instrumentation, using everything from harps to banjos, solo piano or finger-picked acoustic guitar, he has created a body of work including over 30 albums and he has won oodles of awards, from Grammy's to Dove's. He has done a remarkable series of songs based on the Old Testament, another set on the life of Jesus. He's done children's music and he's done a collection of hymns.  I have appreciated his songs, and enjoyed his shows more than once.  And once, I got to experience his graciousness and integrity first hand.

About twenty years ago, some of you recall, I was deeply involved in an intense local campaign trying to get political asylum for a large group of Chinese folks who had escaped their totalitarian regime, fleeing the forced abortion policies from their one-child-only repressive state, only to be detained by the INS (now ICE) in York, PA.

Michael had been to China, helped distribute Bibles to house churches there -- learning first-hand how some of them were persecuted by the government, some of their leaders having been imprisoned, some of their homes burned down -- and had a song called "So Many Books" which sang about our embarrassment of literary riches in light of this mission to China. (It is actually from an album based on texts from the Old Testament prophets, and this is from Amos 9.) I contacted him right before the show, asked if I could make an announcement about our need for assistance in this local legal project for Chinese dissidents, and suggested he could play that song as a set up for me to do my little spiel.byron on stage w_ lights.jpg 

This was a large show in a classy auditorium, with a sizable stage and professional lighting and, looking back, I'm nearly embarrassed by my audacious hutzpah, inviting myself into his show.  As I recall, he seemed delighted to allow me to share the stage with him, worked that song into his set, providing the artistic context for me (who he had never met) to talk about justice, asylum, detention reform, the need for prayer and protest of our government's lack of fair trails for these dear folks. I knew it was remarkable that he cared enough to allow this to be part of his stage show, and his own professional courtesy belied a passion for justice and mission that was, especially back then, quite rare.  Except for the occasional Compassion International or pro-life pitch, CCM artists in those days simply didn't get involved in much.  My admiration and respect for Michael, which was already high because of his Biblical and theological integrity, grew even more that night.

I write about it now, knowing we are bringing him in to speak this week, and wonder if he even remembers.  I hope to thank him, once again, and tell him about how we kept at it for years and years, praying in front of the prison every week, forming the largest pro bono legal project in US history, and how some of our detainees got asylum so many years ago, and about some who were deported to further imprisonment, torture and death back in communist China.  As his song puts it, we have so very many books and Bibles here, and such freedom.  Some folks lives aren't as privileged and we need to always keep that in mind. Anyway, it was a memorable thing for me to meet him and have our passions for this justice project affirmed.

I've noted that Mr. Card earned an advanced degree in Biblical studies and is on the deepermc awe album.jpg end of the CCM gene pool. A fairly recent remastered and re-issued double album of songs based all on the narrative of the Old Testament called An Invitation to Awe (Sparrow; $17.99) shows the artist not on stage or with his guitar, but in front of a library of Biblical reference books.  Let's face it: this is unheard of in the rock music industry and makes him either really geeky or out of the box cool. Did I mention that besides releasing over 30 albums, and doing album covers with books on 'em, that Card has himself written over 20 books?  Even if he were not the beloved performing and recording artist that he is, he would be known as a significant writer, contributing much to the contemporary religious publishing world. 

Nmatthew- the gospel of identity.jpgot all, but most of his best books are on the well-respected InterVarsity Press.  We thank them for helping us host him here this week as he talks about his brand new commentary on Matthew, in the Biblical Imagination series.  It is called Matthew: The Gospel of Identity, IVP; $18.00 (see our sale price, below.) Doesn't it have a fabulous cover design? The correlating album by the same name will arrive on Thursday (making us the very first place to have it, so our event will be a bit of a coming out party for the CD.)  You can click on the link below and type in whatever you want to order -- for BookNotes readers, we have these Michael Card items all at 20% off.

Allow me to briefly tell you about Michael's latest book project, and then mention a few of his notable previous ones.  We will have them all on sale Thursday night at our event. Let us know if we can get an autographed one for you.  I think we can pull that off...


Matthew: The Gospel of Identity IVP     regularly $18.00
Mark: The Gospel of Passion  IVP         regularly $16.00
Luke: The Gospel of Amazement  IVP   regularly $18.00

matthew- the gospel of identity.jpg
In this handsome on-going series (the volume on John won't come out until next year) Card has done the church and reading public a great service by distilling much academic scholarship, good, attentive study, and written informed, but readable commentaries.  They are nearly unique insofar as they attempt to bring curiosity to the reading; his artistic temperament and imaginative sensibility colors how he reads the texts, so these are being touted as examples of the redemptive use of the imagination.

This is an immensely interesting idea, and the preface and introductory material are themselves wonderful meditations on this need and this approach.  In different ways, in each one, he says that "the imagination is the bridge between the heart and the mind" or that we must "engage with Scripture at the level of the gospel of mark- gospel  of passion.jpginformed imagination."

He notes, and is surely right, that there are those who are so rationalistic in their studious approach to the text that they are missing much. The mind alone simply cannot comprehend and know all that is being revealed in sacred Scripture -- and anyone who has studied social history at all knows that this reductionist view of what counts as knowing is based on the pagan assumptions of secular Rationalism from the era pompously known as the Enlightenment.  Of course, the other extreme is equally troublesome; mystical, allegorical, symbolic, emotional, and other creative readings can become unhinged, disconnected from common sense, overly subjective, not grounded in the best insights of the tradition of teaching that has gone before us or the perspectives of others in our faith community.

 In other words, we luke- gospel of amazement.jpgneed some holy combination of right and left brains, of scholarly/rational approaches and of spiritual/meditative approaches.  And Card tells us that our God-given imagination is the tool the Spirit uses to bring back together these two modes of knowing, modes designed to compliment one another but rendered asunder by the Fall and human sin.  Card makes this assertion quite nicely in the prefaces of these commentaries. 

It is fabulous, I think, to have an author so self-aware and candid about his or her assumptions and strategies as they commence reading. (I was going to make a joke about him getting his cards on the table.)  It is also quite nice to have one writing so helpfully about the proper role of the imagination.  No lesser a thinker than modern painter and aesthetic writer Mako Fujimura, agrees, saying "Michael Card invites all of us to a magnificent journey of hesed (grace and mercy).  This humble offering is a sweet aroma and an invaluable contribution to all those who desire to know the Bible and live creatively."  

As it says on the back cover of one of them,

For years Michael Card's music has imaginatively explored the narrative power of the Word of God. Now, in the Biblical Imagination Series, Card invites readers to enter into the Scripture as he does, at the level of imagination... (these volumes) reintegrates our minds with our hearts to recapture our imagination with the beauty and power of Christ.

Here is a bit of a review published by the Englewood Review, of Luke: The Gospel of Amazement, which explains this nicely,

Card proves himself a worthy guide, offering much to be enjoyed by both bookworms and bohemians as he walks us chapter by chapter through Luke. For the former there is the requisite geographical and historical information, the dabbling in the original languages, and the discussions of authorship, setting, etc. For the latter there are plenty of invitations to feel, see, and hear, along with the occasional reference to music, painting, or art history. The author is particularly on point when he gets us exploring by way of his compelling use of language. Noteworthy examples are his discussions of the "unorthodoxy" of Jesus and the "impossible demands" that Christ places upon his disciples. These and other themes run throughout the book, giving us new nails on which to hang our mental pictures of the architecture of Luke's Gospel.
Or, hear what my friend David Swartz wrote at Patheos: 

Michael Card wants to help us do something different with the Bible. With this (and three volumes on the remaining Gospels, all from InterVarsity Press), he wants us to uncork this rich book, letting it breathe until we drop our jaws and defenses, and fall in love with the main character--Jesus Christ. Michael finds his interpretive key in imagination. He helps us revive it as something often lost in "growing up." Card wants us to smell the sweat of fishermen and sneeze on Galilean road dust. He wants us to hear the tremble in screaming voices where panic threatens to strangle hope as the blind cry out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

What makes these commentaries especially helpful is that they are very readable.  While it isn't quite as chatty and upbeat as Max Lucado -- who is a fan, by the way -- they are not dry or colorless.  If one likes the entry-level commentary of writers like William Barclay or Warren Weirsbe or even the New Testament for Everyone set by N.T. Wright these would be quite accessible and, I think, enjoyable.

But what makes them even more special is that Michael Card is doing a record to go with
mark CD.jpg each book.  I am not sure (and hope to ask him at our event) if the music came first and then the commentary, or if the songs emerged from his scholarly study.  In some ways, the music could be commentary on the commentary, which sounds a whole lot like how First-Century rabbis would have taught, using midrash.  Cool, huh?  Anyway, I like these albums and even if you aren't huge fans of CCM, you should know these recordings. I told a group of Presbyterian church educators just last week that I think they are  useful in their own Bible classes and Sunday school teaching.  Having this whole body of text-based Bible songs is a huge assetluke cd.jpg to
 teachers and preachers.

For what it is worth, the artistic imagination aspect of all of this is subtle.  These are not commentaries that overtly engage the senses (see Dwelling With Philippians a Conversation with Scripture in Image and Word by Elizabeth Steele Halstead, Paul Detterman and others [Eerdmans; $22.00] if you want that.)  They are not particularly aimed at helping you meditate on the texts using spiritual disciplines such as lectio devina (try the Ancient-Future Bible Study Series published by Brazos or the Meditative Commentary on the New Testament published by Leafwood if you want that kind of a slow, contemplative reading experience.) Card isn't  pushing envelopes or arriving at bold new conclusions, either (see, for instance, Colossiansmatthew CD.jpg Remixed: Subverting the Empire by Walsh & Keesmaat [IVP; $23.00] if you want a wonderful example of fresh, relevant, provocative scholarship that does indeed push some envelopes.)

There are absolutely no flights of fancy here and if I have any criticisms of the "Biblical Imagination" project it is that they are not imaginative enough nor particularly courageous in offering a new way to write Bible commentaries. Mike is, I gather, careful, which is both a strength and a bit of a hindrance for this sort of a project. Occasionally the author playfully speculates, and when he does it is with humility and fruitfulness (his take on the role of Peter in Mark's life and in his telling of the gospel is genius, although, admittedly, not fully original.)  There are moments where he offers some very curious insights, and occasionally invites us to stop and ponder. Card is a teacher and writes with a pastors heart; he isn't trying to be innovative, just helpful. He isn't trying to make a name as an innovator, he is trying to open up the Scriptures so we can know God in Christ and live for fully for His sake.  These commentaries are not at all odd, not artsy, not bohemian, not risky.  They are just very nicely written, quite solid, somewhat creative reflections for ordinary readers.  It is, I think, what many people hunger for. 

If you are not one who does much Biblical study, or haven't ever read a commentary straight through, any of these three would be an ideal introduction to this Christian practice.  I hope you try one, and prayerfully read your way through it.  Why not convene a group, inviting them to read the books, listen to the songs, week by week.  It could be a great summer time. 

I don't know exactly how it went down, but the short version is this: one of my favorite authors and a bit of a long-distance mentor, the exceptionally astute and nothing-short-of-brilliant Biblical scholar and philosopher of aesthetics, Dr. Calvin Seerveld, contacted Card after the horrors and national sorrow of 9-11.  As you know, many contemporary worship services call their musical worship leaders "praise teams."  Nearly one third of the Psalms are laments, and Seerveld wondered why there are no lament teams.  He asked Card what he thought, challenging him to write some appropriate worship music of this sort. Seerveld insists that we simply must know how to receive and use these Biblical themes liturgically, and we need to -- as Seerveld's powerful chapter on learning to lament together in congregational worship in Forgotten Songs: Reclaiming the Psalms for Christian Worship edited by Ray Van Neste (B&H Academic; $19.99) puts it-- "Learning to Cry in Church." Interestingly, Michael was reading Walt Brueggemann's The Prophetic Imagination (Fortress; $19.99) in that season, which talks much of these themes and the call from Seerveld convicted him.

Two books and a CD came from that challenge, and they are each very important.

Ssacred sorrow.jpgacred Sorrow: Reaching Out to God in the Lost Language of Lament (Navpress; $14.99) and The Hidden Face of God: Finding the Missing Door to the Father Through Lament (NavPress; $14.99.) We commend them both to you, and we will of course have them for sale Thursday night as well.

hidden face CD.jpghidden face of god bookcover.jpg

Michael also released an album to compliment The Hidden Face of God, a CD with the same title The Hidden Face of God (Discovery House; $12.95.) It is, interestingly, a lovely album, not "hard to listen to" or particularly sad. It includes tender lyrics and while the songs are about hard times, seeking God even in God's seeming absence, it is surprisingly graceful and beautiful.  I sometimes wondered if it ought to have been more gritty and angry.  It includes a nice version of "O Sacred Head Now Wounded" which is lovely, with a bit of Celtic whistle. Anyway, it's a good one, quintessentially Card.

Michael Card has done more than two dozen other books.  For instance, he has a lovely set ofviolent grace.jpg reflections on the gospel of John called Parable of Joy (Discovery House; $14.99) based on his own translation of the text.   He has a truly outstanding collection of pieces about the cross A Violent Grace: Meeting Christ at the Cross (IVP; $15.00) which moved me deeply as I read some of them during Lent.  It was out in a hardback before, but I really like the hand-sized paperback IVP released. There is a very popular book of his called A Fragile Stone: The Emotional Life of Simon Peter (IVP; $16.00) with which many people resonate -- most of us should, come to think of it -- and even a study guide for it.  Each of these have supplemental albums of songs to go with them, and we stock them all.  He really is a prolific author and artist, and we hope you have used some of his good resources.


Abetter freedom.jpg Better Freedom: Finding Life as Slaves of Christ  (IVP; $15.00) This is one that has to be mentioned as it is truly extraordinary.  (It isn't every day I get to tell about a book where there is very little other work done in the field and this one is on a rare topic -- wow!)  A Better Freedom is a book which I've mentioned before and it is not only truly fascinating, it is brave. And painful.  And wonderful.  Card attends an inter-racial church in the South, and he speaks and sings in all sorts of venues.  He is not unfamiliar with black culture in America and worships with African-American brothers and sisters routinely.  He was intrigued about how he  noticed his African-American friends freely using the language of Christ being a "master."  During the days of slavery, he learned, using this rhetoric eroded the sense of the slaver master's power. This discovery, as it says on the cover, "led Card on a journey of discovery, as he wondered, "What did it mean for African American slaves to acknowledge Jesus as Master?""  Card uses Greco-Roman slavery as a window into understanding Jesus (who, remember, "took the form of a slave") and how he brings freedom.  This is fascinating, a good example of cross cultural studies, and a rare insight into an often under-valued part of the language of Christian discipleship.

Sscribbling in the sand.jpgcribbling in the Sand: Christ and Creativity (IVP; $16.00.) This is one of my own favorites of his is and I hope you know about it as it is such a good read. I have reviewed Scribbling... elsewhere and we take it out to many of the places we go to display books as it is a core title in our section of books about the arts.  It is, as is his style, mostly a Biblical study (drawing its allusive title to the story of Jesus writing in the dirt.) He offers good insight into the life of an artist and how the Biblical teaching on creativity and the very life of Jesus can influence those called to creative work.  Nice!!

I especially like that, inspired by the 1966 "Letter to a Christian Artist" published in Art Needs No Justification by H.R. Rookmaaker, he invited a handful of influential authors and artists to pen a similar "Letter to a Young Christian Author" today which forms a very significant appendix.  Mako Fujimura, Calvin Seerveld and others wrote original epistles for this volume, lovely and wise notes of encouragement and insight and guidance.



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May 21, 2013

4 New Books on Abraham Kuyper and a FREE BOOK offer.

I don't want to brag, I really don't, but you are friends.  I suspect you read BookNotes and support Hearts & Minds - keep those orders coming! - because there is something just a little unusual about our mix of titles, our personal connection when you order, and our efforts to maintain historic Christian orthodoxy while encouraging a wide and diverse reading regimen. I think you hang in there with us because you value this approach.

You know that the latest marketing guys all say that businesses should "tell their story" -- thatcard and me.jpg customers want to understand what we do and why we do it. That's nothing new to me: I've always been an evangelist for our work, because I really believe in the role of reading and the power of books.  We foul up enough that I know well to be humble, but I'm happy to emote about our work, our staff, our services, our customers who care. When I was only half-jokingly over-doing a sales pitch during the Michael Card event the other night, he asked the crowd "Is he always like this?"

Yep, pretty much. 

So, welcome, once again, to our story. To your story, too.

Just in this last week we have again been complimented in ways that are deeply encouraging and, frankly, still sometimes leave us surprised.  Customers take note that we have books on the arts.  Somebody is surprised that we carry a range of opinion on matters of faith, science, and the debates about origins.  One person was flummoxed that we carry more than religious novels, even literary fiction, some R-rated.  A person was helped by a thoughtful list of books about grief, titles that were not clich├ęd or simplistic.  At a good conference a few weeks ago on faith and the work-world at a hip mega-church more than one person looking at our display said they never saw books like this before. Faith-based books on teaching, technology, business, sports, or media are hard to find, apparently. 

Again and again, we hear that readers are eager to support booksellers that are independent in spirit (and in fact; it is hard to be down-home when one is owned by a faceless corporation from who knows where.)
And we hear that folks are glad that we carry books across the whole spectrum of life, showcasing that body of literature that integrates a faithful Christian perspective with this field, that career, this academic discipline or that vocational arena.  As Francis Schaeffer used to say, true spirituality shows forth the "Lordship of Christ across the whole of culture."  We are "evangelicals for social action" and committed to "marketplace ministry" and want to help equip "culture makers."  We may hope for more, but certainly not less than Hunter's "faithful presence."  We are proud that we were recently quoted in Greg Jao's little book Your Mind's Mission (IVP), which reminds us that it is in service to the world that we must read, study, and think through "a transforming vision."  We are, as Niebuhr put it, firmly in the "Christ transforming culture" camp.
Niebuhr's categories notwithstanding, one needn't be Reformed to desire to see the world changed by honoring Biblical principles in every zone of society. Catholics and Anabaptists, Congregationalists and Pentecostals, each in their own ways, have highlighted the call to fidelity "in the world but not of it."  Just read Aquinas or the Book of Common Prayer or Paul Alexander's two illuminating studies showing that early 20th Pentecostals were pacifists who resisted war as worldly unholiness! Consider the thoughtful scholarship behind the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Or the recent spate of books on Christian higher education coming from publishers like Abilene Christian University Press. Those that know us know that we have more than a superficial indebtedness to many streams within the broad flow of Christian history and tradition!  It is no accident that we so appreciate Richard Foster's Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith (HarperOne) and the fun and maybe not-so-tongue-in-cheek mile-long subtitle of Brian McLaren's all embracing Generous Orthodoxy (Zondervan) where he somewhat affirms nearly every doctrinal view under the sun.

Still, for us, we've learned about the importance of Christian books that offer Christian thinking
Portrait of Abraham Kuyper by Jan Veth (1900).

Portrait of Abraham Kuyper by Jan Veth (1900). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

for an inner reformation of each sphere of life from the Dutch neo-Calvinists who stand in the line of Abraham Kuyper.  Phrases like "uniquely Christian perspectives" or "distinctively Biblical thinking" or The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness -- a great book title by friends Don Optiz and Derek Melleby which informs some of our beloved Jubilee conference in Pittsburgh each year -- come to us, mostly, from the culturally-engaged, radically Christian reformational movement from early 20th century Holland.  I wish I had a shirt that said Kuyper is my home-boy.

Even mainstream, socially conscious evangelicals -- think Carl Henry,  Francis and Edith Schaeffer or Charles Colson -- who in the middle to late 20th century pulled that tradition away from Bible thumpin' fundamentalism, have been influenced by Kuyper.

abraham-kuyper-short-personal-introduction-richard-j-mouw-paperback-cover-art.jpgI have written about the Rev. Dr. College President and Prime Minister Kuyper from time to time (and have cited his call to press Christ's gracious Kingship in "every square inch" of creation maybe too often.)  Richard Mouw's short and accessible book, Abraham Kuyper: A Short and Personal Introduction (Eerdmans; $16.00) explaining why and how discovering Kuyper helped him is one of my favorite books to suggest when somebody asks "where did you guys come up with this stuff?" (You can read my review here.

Yes, the Kuyperian worldview, embodied by what is sometimes called the "reformational movement" of Christian scholarship, provided one of the chief impetuses for starting Hearts & Minds 30 years ago.

 It is awkward to say it so bluntly, but we have learned that it is novel for a Christian bookstore - I heard it again just today from a traveling sales rep from out of state! - to carry such a wide array of titles in such a wide array of categories, from environmental studies to film studies, from gender justice to racial justice, from science to sociology to philosophy, right next to Biblical studies and theology and global missions.  With all the "focus on the family" emphasis in many Christian bookstores, I don't know if they have much on, say, breast feeding or home births, but we've got that, too.  In an embarrassingly positive story recently in an industry trade journal, Beth and I were called "paradigm shifters" for our approach to Christian bookselling. Whew.
Anyway, part of our story is that we got this vision from people who were, mostly, in one way or another, influenced by Abraham Kuyper.

And so, we are very glad that there are four new books on Kuyper.  If you are attracted to our mission, you might be too.

First I'll tell you about a new little booklet which reproduces a famous sermon expressing Kuyper's view of the nature of the church.  Then there is the third in a series produced by the Kuyper Center at Princeton Seminary (this one on creativity and the arts.) Thirdly, I'll highlight a magisterial new biography by James Bratt, a telling of the story for which we have been waiting for years -- this is now surely the definitive bio of Father Abraham!  Lastly, there is a stunningly serious collection of essays and excerpts co-edited by uber-Kuyper geek Steven Bishop from England and Dordt College Press publishing guru, John Kok.

My remarks about these last two were previously published in a slightly shortened version in my monthly "Politics and Prose" column in the neo-Calvinist political newsletter, Capital Commentary published by the Center for Public Justice.  Their work for a non-partisan Christian political option has connections, in spirit at least, to the Dutch political party started by Kuyper in the early 1900s, reformed in 1977 as the Christian Democratic Appeal.  It seemed proper to announce the publication of those two big Kuyper volumes there, but I've been itching to share them with our wider audience here at BookNotes.  I do hope you read my comments about them, and that they inspire you to learn more about this towering figure of public theology.
To show an example of how Kuyperian thought shaped a major study of society applied to a proposal for a justsociety state & schools.jpg education policy, we are offering a FREE copy of an old Eerdmans book co-published by the Center for Public Justice entitled Society State and Schools: A Case for Structural and Confessional Pluralism (edited by Gordon Spykman et al.) With any order of any of these Kuyper books you can have this thoughtful classic for free.  We have the four Kuyper books at our BookNotes special discount (20% off) and will send this free book along as long as supplies last.  It is a dazzling example of a careful study of society and, to be honest, has not been bettered in the decades since its initial publication.  Anyway, it's a good deal, and we're happy to share it, if you buy any Kuyper book from this little list.

Rrooted.jpgooted & Grounded: The Church as Organism and Institution  Abraham Kuyper (Christian's Library Press) $4.95   This inexpensive 45-page booklet is translated from the Dutch by Nelson D. Kloosterman and is co-published by the Acton Institute and Kuyper College in Grand Rapids.  It was an inaugural sermon by Kuyper for a new denomination, so is, frankly, exceptionally timely today.  In it, he explains the important distinction between being first rooted, then grounded, in the gospel, which is a way to help explain the broad vision of the church as God's people in the world, and the more formal manifestation known as the institutional church.  It was tricky to translate, we are told, because of the passion and eloquence with which it was written and delivered.  This small book anticipates a large, multi-volume set that will someday appear offering other writings on the church by the prolific thinker and church leader.
In an illuminating introduction, Kuyper scholar John Halsey Wood tells us that even as the ground shifted underneath the feet of those in Europe in those extraordinary times, Kuyper repeatedly examined the task and measured the fidelity of the church.  "It should not surprise us, then," Wood writes, " to find that Kuyper often thought in terms similar to Max Weber's and Ernst Troeltsch..."  From a different perspective, perhaps, it might bring to mind the important work of Free Methodist Howard Snyder, who talks about the church gathered as community and sent into society to point to the Kingdom, thereby being "a community of the King."
Of course God's people are scattered throughout society, and  -- the back cover literally quotes Steve Garber's phrase "vocation is intregal, not incidental to the missio dei" -- Kuyper helps us all get that organic sense of God's transforming movement creeping like leaven throughout society.  But he also attends seriously to the institutional church and her struggles and the principles which guide her development.

This is therefore an important  and vital little book, not only as a historical documentation.  Church leaders in our day are very aware of the "spiritual but not religious" ethos and the popping up of missional faith communities that sometimes define themselves boldly as unaffiliated with the broader church (let alone denominations or clear theological traditions.)  Could this old sermon by this old Dutchman shed light on the up-to-the-minutes debates about the postmodern emergents and what some are calling the hyphenateds? Can this study of the church help the "faith at work" movement or the social justice efforts of activist disciples of Jesus?  Can fresh expressions of faith outside the walls of typical churches bear lasting Kingdom fruit?  I think this message and the many footnotes and editorial additions added can provide much insight into Kuyper's views and will be good fodder for important conversation, including for those breaking off of historic denominations, forming new networks and models of affiliation.  Whether you tend towards the organic or institutional, edgy new missional ministries or historic  and ordinary congregations, this "both/and" message will keep you rooted and grounded.

Tkuyper center review vol 3.jpghe Kuyper Center Review Volume Three: Calvinism and Culture  edited by Gordon Graham (Eerdmans) $26.00 Graham is the Henry Luce Professor of Philosophy and the Arts at Princeton and was the editor of the first in these dense, serious compilations of serious Kuyper-related scholarship -Volume One was on politics and sphere sovereignty, very important for understanding Kuyper's social philosophy and his call to reform the very architecture of society.) Volume Two, by the way, was edited by John Bowlin and was on Kuyper's view of Revelation and Common Grace.

These new essays in Volume Three: Calvinism and Culture are remarkable, scholarly, fascinating, a delight to read for those who love learning and considering new ideas.  There are a few general chapters here which examine Kuyperian and neo-Calvinist takes on culture (which will be surprising to some) and I highly recommend this volume for them.

After a fantastic and inspiring opening essay, however, comes one that is spectacularly interesting and even controversial - Neal DeRoo does a close (although, as it ends up, perhaps not close enough) reading of Al Wolters' significant overview of a reformational worldview (the popular and enduring Creation Regained) suggesting that Wolters' view of culture (and his account of the nature of the spheres of culture, whose structures are said to be part of creation and whose ordering laws call forth certain responses) is not sustainable, or even meaningful, laden with inherent problems. Indeed, the chapter is entitled "Creation Regained? On the Impossibility and Meaninglessness of Culture in (Some) Calvinist Thought." Ouch!  This detailed, well-footnoted, critical essay moves deftly around thcreationregained.jpge Kuyperian philosophers Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven (whose presence looms large behind the scenes in Creation Regained), bringing immense philosophical learning to bear as he uses their insights to critique Dr. Wolters and his essential text.  Wolters was one of the founders of the Institute for Christian Studies (where DeRoo studied) so there is an admittedly in-house quarrel going on here.  Editor Graham was wise in allowing professor Wolters to respond to DeRoo's critique and his reply is typically gracious and, I think, mostly compelling.  He makes the case that DeRoo misreads him and suffers not only from a misunderstanding of Dooyeweerdian philosophy but from a deficiency in writing clearly, at least in parts of his chapter. (I thought it was just me and my own lack of familiarity with the philosophical lingo and details, even as I studied each paragraph and footnote with eagerness.  Does this somehow relate to the nuanced debate between brother-in-laws Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven? Or a generational difference between older-school Wolters and postmodern DeRoos? Eccelsia semper reformanda est?)

I believe that for many, this pair of essays will be worth the price of the book and may illustrates an internal struggle within this school of thought, and the institutions (such as ICS) that stand in their line.  If you are even vaguely interested in this movement - from the old Vanguard magazine of the 70s to Comment published nowadays by Kuyperian think-tank Cardus under the helm of James K.A. Smith - I think this discussion is very, very important.  But it is just the beginning of this fascinating crash course on Calvinian views of the arts and culture.

The other chapters that make up the bulk of The Kuyper Center Review Volume Three are diverse and quite interesting.  There is a chapter on Calvinism, architecture and urban space.  There is a piece on music (relating Dooyeweerdian teaching and the musical avant garde) that is stunning.  There is a excellent piece about tragedy in literature. One fine (if demanding) essay compares Kuyper and Colin Gunton; another compares Kuyper and the influential Swiss teacher of the likes of Bonhoeffer, Barth, Bultmann, Tillich, namely, Adolf Schlatter.  
There is a great chapter on Kuyper on public entertainment, another on a neo-Calvinist view of "the Eucharistic poetics of Emily Dickinson" and one by John Barber on Calvin's views of music.  I was amazed by a brilliant piece by James Bratt on Kuyper as "the jilted Stepfather of Piet Mondrian" that anybody who cares about Reformed theology and modern art should read. Wow -- who knew of this famous modern artists relationship to the Kuyperian revival?

Reading anthologies like this in the 70s is what first alerted me to the robust tradition of evangelical and Reformed scholarship, learning that there was this movement of thinkers who did overtly Christian scholarship that related faith and their particular field.  Again, many non-Calvinists do this quite well.  There is little doubt, though, that the Reformed tradition, drawing on Kuyper's broad view of creation, common grace, and the Biblical mandate for the reformation of thought, has paved a way for the renewal of evangelical cultural consideration in our lifetime. (Mark Noll's essential The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Eerdmans) documents this, as does George Marsden's little Oxford University Press book The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship.) This new book is a great example of the fruitfulness of this particular tradition and reminds us how much there is to learn, and how theology can inform so much more than church squabbles and doctrinal debates per se.  Drawing on the stalwarts of this tradition - Bavink, Ridderbos, Schilder, Runner, show up in footnotes -- this is an example of theology for life, intellectual faithfulness for public service! Kudos to Princeton for hosting the conferences from which this book emerged.  And Kudos to Eerdmans for making them widely available.  I hope you don't think it too arcane or odd.  I am confident it will inspire many to do greater works, works of cultural renewal and artistic hope for the common good. May this aspect, at least, of the spirit of Kuyper, inspire an ongoing conversation on the nature of cultural renewal in our time.  

Aa k modern calvinist.jpgbraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat James Bratt (Eerdmans) $30.00 This hefty biography is nothing short of magisterial.  There have been other biographies of Kuyper but none have approached the comprehensive, thorough scope of this extraordinary work.  Bratt is a renowned historian (who teaches at Calvin College) and, as the forward by eminent evangelical scholar Mark Noll puts it, has given us a landmark book which answers the question "who was Abraham Kuyper and why should we care."  You needn't take  my word that Abraham Kuyper: MCCD accomplishes this marvelously; some of the most renowned writers within this tradition (Mouw, Wolterstorf, Marsden) insist it is "indispensable," "marvelous," "a page-turner," which "many of us have been waiting for," and which will "serve English speakers for years to come." Anthony Bradley is surely correct when he says it will "undoubtedly become a classic." And he is right that it is "indispensable reading for anyone interested in postindustrial Christian social thought."

Kuyper was a fascinating, tireless, preacher, writer, organizer -- a "volcanic" force which started a newspaper, a university, a labor union, a political party, and more.  His insistence on alternative political organizations within a robust societal pluralism and his insightful balance of seeing what is often called "common grace" and "the antithesis" remains very fruitful for our own time.  The genesis and development of his many ideas and efforts (some drawn from his political associate, Groen van Prinsterer) are chronicled here, making this not only a superb exploration of his unique reformational worldview and its implications for politics, but it is, recall, a biography.  This is a thrilling life story, set in the context of a swirling, changing era, of a complex, controversial, colorful character.  It is, as Bratt says in his brilliant introduction, "warts and all."  Those of us who are seriously committed to working out some of the implications of his genius in our own day should know "Father Abraham" and his warts and blemishes and sins -- and they were many! But, also, his fascinating, generative ideas and the strategies he used to see some of them come to fruition. Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat is simply, a must-read, a tremendously researched historical biography of a towering figure. As I have said, Kuyper was influential in Holland, helped shape seminal figures like Francis Schaeffer, and left a mark on US evangelicalism that ripples out (even here in Dallastown) to this day.  This is the book we've been waiting for!

Oon kuyper.jpgn Kuyper: A Collection of Readings on the Life, Work & Legacy of Abraham edited by Steve Bishop & John Kok (Dordt  Press) $36.00  On Kuyper will most likely not sell as well as the epic new biography by Bratt, but for serious followers of the worldivewish tradition Cal Seerveld once called not merely Reformed but "reformational" and those seriously hoping to discern the implications of Kuyperianism for contemporary thought and social action, this collection is, again, indispensable, extraordinary, and within our circles, destined to become a classic.  It may not be a page turner, but it is is, in some ways, perhaps more important than the biography.  This is, without a doubt, the best anthology of essays about Kuyper yet done. It is compiled by gentlemen who are deeply rooted in the neo-Kuyperian movement made famous by Dooyeweerd, Vollenholven,and a generation of scholars at Toronto's ICS.  Here, we have some of the most astute Christian intellectuals of the last half a century ruminating on, and in some cases incisively dissecting, important details of Kuyper's perspective and programs.

John Kok is an esteemed Dutch philosopher and President of Dordt Press.  Steve Bishop is a feisty cultural critic and teacher (and the zealous internet guru who maintains the neo-Calvinist website allofliferedeemed.co.uk. Together they have brought together in one major volume (nearly 500 pages) authors who are, arguably, the world's finest Kuyperian scholars - from philosophers like Vollenhoven, Zuidema, Klapwijk and Daniel Strauss, to theologians, churchman, political theorists and historians.  There are excerpts here from popular biographies and there are previously-published scholarly articles and popular speeches. (And, very importantly, there are several pieces never published in English before!)

There are a few nice introductory essays about Kuyper's life, including one by Catherine Kuyper, his daughter.

Many of the pieces explore certain aspects of the Kuyper project such as Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen's detailed study of Kuyper's writings on the role of women or Del Ratzch's study of Kuyper's view of evolution or Peter Heslam's chapter on Kuyper's view of the arts or George Harinck on the legacy of Kuyper in South Africa.  Of course there are several exploring the unique notion of sphere sovereignty.  Naturally, there are numerous pieces on the tradition of Christian Democracy, on Kuyper's anti-revolutionary politics and Christian approaches to wise statecraft.  Jim Skillen has an important contribution on how Kuyper's views could shape a faith-based understanding of welfare reform, absolutely as relevant now as it was when published a decade ago!
There are more than 30 chapters, some truly lovely, others dense and scholarly. There is an excellent and useful introduction to Kuyper written by Bishop that is really helpful.  The editors have given us an immense gift in finding, compiling and sharing these remarkable writings and we trust it becomes a staple in reformational studies for years to come.

This is a book we are honored to carry, glad to promote, and, arcane and clunky as it may sound, is a good example of the sorts of stuff that shapes who we are, has influenced us in the past, and is part of our story, the story of why we do what we do here at 234 East Main Street, Dallastown, PA. Thanks for caring enough to read these reviews and take up in your own way, Kuyper's call to think hard and live joyfully, in but not of, the good but fallen culture which is so loved by our gracious King.



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May 28, 2013

Shaping a Digital World: Faith, Culture and Computer Technology by Derek C. Schuurman (IVP Academic) ON SALE

In our last post here at BookNotes I ruminated a bit (or was it a rant?) about how oura k modern calvinist.jpg bookstore's unique inventory and category-busting ethos are, to some extent at least, marked by the influence of what some call neo-Calvinism, or Kuyperianism. That is the movement of those working with the intellectual tools and spiritual impulses of the early 20th century Dutch public intellectual and civic leader, Abraham Kuyper, perhaps most popularly represented by Al Wolters' book Creation Regained (Eerdmans; $15.00) or Brian Walsh & Richard Middleton's still essential Transforming Vision (IVP; $17.00.)

Kuyper's followers have engaged in a vigorous re-appropriation of Reformed theology into a culturally engaged worldview calling for the renewal of all of culture around various spheres of life, learning to think distinctively about everything. 

(This short piece by Gideon Strauss entered my inbox just this week, a good example of a Kuyperian consideration of why an office chair matters, and the theology gleaned from the use of it.  Or, consider this brilliant manifesto of James K.A. Smith about his role in our beloved Comment magazine, a prime example of the neo-Cal vision if ever there was one. Or, please, enjoy one of a good friend's most powerful little pieces, written a few days ago, about a talk he was asked to give about vocation and ethics in the multi-national business world.  Garber is Reformed and Kuyperian and brings in the likes of Os Guinness and Wendell Berry and Jean Valjean.)
That kind of stuff just gets me up in the morning.  Sometimes keeps me up at night, too.  How about you?

Well, after explaining in my last BookNotes post how this particular tradition influenced us and helped to set the vision for our bookstore, we quickly reviewed four new books about Kuyper himself.  They are pretty great books and I hope you at least read my reviews of them.
I will soon offer a longer essay about our evaluation of all this, and our minor role in this Kuyperian movement which I'll post under the "columns" tab at the website. It will include a description of what I consider to be one of the very best serious books about Kuyperianism and how it contributes to various modern issues and compares with other contemporary social theologies. Look for that soon.

Okay, okay, you may be thinking. Enough about the old Dutch guy and his followers with hard to spell names.  We realize that Kuyperian worldview thinking is a valuable thing, a vital sort of neo-Calvinism which tells the story which invites us to seek God's ways "in but not of" the world, in all areas of culture.  It offers a robust, thick, sort of perspective and approach that demands discernment and intellectual engagement in every zone of life.  We get it.
I really do not mean to overstate this kind of neo-Calvinism, and as you know, we are more ecumenical than most.  But I have my list of favorite Christian books that are seminal and extraordinary in their specialized fields, and most are frankly influenced by this working tradition.  For instance, just think of Michael Schutt's essentialrainbows for fallen world.jpg Redeeming Law: Christian Calling and the Legal Profession (IVP) or Calvin Seerveld's legendary book on the arts, Rainbows for the Fallen World (Toronto Tuppence) or Del Ratz's Science and Its Limits (IVP) or Steve Bouma-Prediger's For the Beauty of the Earth (Baker) or Quentin Schultze's Communication for Life (Baker) or David Koyzis' Political Visions and Illusions (IVP) or Bill Romanowski's Eyes Wide Open: Finding God in Popular Culture (Brazos) or Mark Noll's History Through the Eyes of Faith (HarperOne) or John Van Dyke's The Craft of Christian Teaching (Dordt) or Jeff Van Duzer's Why Business Matters to God (IVP.) Each one of these are the very best in their fields, beautifully and profoundly integrating faith and their academic discipline and are absolutely foundational for further Christian thinking in their subject area.  And are influenced by this whole Kuyperian worldview life-is-religion tradition.
And now a new one just has been added into this essential list!  It is doubtlessly the best Christian book in its field.

Sshaping a digital world.jpghaping a Digital World: Faith, Culture and Computer Technology by Derek C. Schuurman (IVP Academic; $18.00) This is brand new and it is truly a one-of-a-kind resource, a book that, drawing on the tools and insights of the Kuyperian movement, is able to be wiser than any other book on the subject.  I think it is simply a must-read, not only for those who work in this field, but, frankly, for almost all of us, since we all live in a technological society and a digital milieu.

There are other books that I like in this field, and each have their own strengths and reasons we should enjoy and learn from them.  We all swim in this topic, but, oddly, I am afraid don't read much about it.   Nicholas Carr's The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (Norton; $15.95) is up to date and beautifully written, even as he warns about the dangers of reading on line. I do hope you have bought it (or at least read the famous article he wrote, "Is Google Making Us Dumb" -- it is so important! I hope you know Sherrie Turkle's wonderful, wonderful Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less from Each Other (Basic Books; $16.99.) Leonard Sweet always takes you on an energetic road trip of learning, and you will end up excited by the possibilities of our hot-wired world by reading his optimistic Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival (Waterbrook; $14.99.)  Information Technology and Cyberspace by David Pullinger (Pilgrim Press; $18.95) is a dense and serious book, grounded in a more liberal theological background, important for what it does, bringing together ethics and theology. I appreciate that it thinks deeply about fundamental things.

The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion by Tim Challies (Crossway; $19.99) is a great effort at bringing together a balanced, worldviewish, culturally savvy evaluation, informed by solid theological insights and offering nearly pastoral guidance. He covers most of the requisite topics -- information overload, distraction, the need for discernment.  I highly recommend it; some will be challenged if they haven't seriously considered a Godly perspective on their digital lives, although it isn't as serious as it might have been. Please do check it out -- we take it to most book tables and displays we do these days.

From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology by John Dyer (Kregal; $13.99) is actually a quite recent gem which I hope gets to be better known -- we just discovered it!  It draws a bit on the important work of Albert Borgman, and it is obvious that the author has done serious reading in the field -- Heidegger, McLuhan, etc. He works in computer science and he has explored the whole "media ecology" schools.  Best of all, he has this great vision of how the Bible works, which, as we will see, is one of the great strengths of Schuurman's book. (And Dyer is at the dispensational Dallas Theological Seminary  - my, how times are changing!) I hope to write more about it, as it gets a whole lot right, and is quite well written. I do think it is a very good book, helpful in many ways. I will be eager to see if Dyer reviews Schuurman.  I suspect that Schuurman didn't cite Dyer's good book because it wasn't released when he was finishing the manuscript.
I have regularly said that anyone who uses computers should read one that is exquisite, ahabits of a high tech heart.jpg wise book called Habits of the High-Tech Heart: Living Virtuously in the Information Age by Kuyperian media specialist at Calvin College, Quentin J. Schultze (Baker; $22.00.) It isn't a study of the field of computer science, precisely, but a guide for anyone who interfaces (as they say) with the digital world. I re-read it recently and it remains a truly exemplary book, helping all of us guard our hearts and develop faithful dispositions and practices. Kuyperian that he is, he has a grand and reliable vision, but the topic is about virtue and faithful presence, mostly. It is a great book, but doesn't set out to do what Derek Schuurman does.

Each of these are good in their own way, but they offer only a piece of the puzzle, or they offer inspiration without doing serious re-thinking about the presuppositions of the field itself. Or they do so with an imbalance, an imbalance that makes the final book less righteous than it ought to be.  Schuurman's Shaping a Digital World gets it all spot on, as they say.  It is clearly written, profound, and very, very helpful.  Especially for those who work in the field (programs, engineers, mathematical folks) is is simply a must. And, as I will explain, for many, many of us as well.

Here are four things that make this new book truly extraordinary.

bible and glasses.jpgFirst, I appreciate the way Schuurman uses the Bible to shape its argument, not by coming up with simplistic proof-texts or narrow moral constraints, but by being formed by the biggest truths of the Scripture. He is a math and computer science professor (with a PhD in electrical engineering, having done scholarly publishing in that field.) But he teaches at the Kuyperian-influenced neo-Cal college, Redeemer, in Ancaster, Ontario.  So he gets the worldview- shaping structure of God's promise and deliverance story in the Bible. It is his colleagues there, Michael Goheen and Craig Bartholomew who wrote extraordinary The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Story of Scripture (Baker Academic; $21.99) after all.  You may know the spiffy, simplified, and abridged version (with discussion questions) The True Story of the Whole World: Finding Your Place in the Biblical Drama (Faith Alive; $13.99) No wonder sciency-guy Schuurman gets it right, hanging around these these Biblical visionaries.
One of the themes of Kuyperian neo-Calvinism is the way in which Scripture holds together as one coherent unfolding story.  We sometimes talk about the four acts in the Biblical drama, the four chapters of the story: first, there is a blessedly good creation and humans tasked with developing it and then a radical fall which curses everything, but the plot moves towards a wholistic redemption with the bodily resurrection of Christ assuring the last chapter, the full scope of final restoration. 

This coherent creation-oriented, Christ-centered account of the story of the drama of God's plan of cosmic redemption is often explained this way these days.  Marva Dawn has used thisstory we find ourselves.jpg approach for years.  Brian McLaren wrote a fantastic novel about it (The Story We Find Ourselves In, published by Jossey-Bass.) Sean Gladding has a book and video curriculum called The Story of God, The Story of Us (IVP.) N.T. Wright popularized it although I've heard it earlier from Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat (both of whom influenced Tom early on, as he has often admitted.) In the excellent The Next Christians (Multnomah) Gabe Lyons has a succinct section showing why we need the four-chapter approach (creation/fall/redemption/restoration) rather than the typical two-chapter (fall/redemption) definition of the gospel, and how this is the way to help the current generation understand their faith.  He clearly has Kuyperians to thank for teaching him this.
Back when I was learning the neo-Calvinist lingo of rejecting dualism and see the full unfolding Biblical "story" as an alternative to reading the Bible piecemeal, the phrase "creation/fall/redemption" became short-hand for expressing the storied nature of the Bible and a hint towards the Kingdom vision that insists that it is this good creation that God so loved, this world that Jesus died to redeem, that it is the very real groaning creation (Romans 8) that will someday be set free, into renewed shalom, along with some of its cultural artifacts.  A historical-redemptive "method" of discerning the broader Biblical story is so much more commonplace these days and everybody from Roman Catholics to Nazarenes to Anabaptists have published fantastic books that highlight the contours of the Biblical drama, describing it as "redemption history" and calling us to find our place in the unfolding story of which we are yet still a part.

I say all this to note that Derek Schuurman uses this four-chapter "drama of Scripture" structure to analyze the nature of technology; it becomes the very way he formats the chapters of Shaping a Digital World. And this works really, really well.

(This format reminds me of the explicit structure of Lewis Smedes'  wonderfully-written and well-thought out, classic book Sex forsex for christians smedes.jpg Christians [Eerdmans; $20.00] which likewise uses the "made good, messed up by sin, but substantially restored in Christ" - creation/fall/redemption approach to his topic. What an insightful and sensible way to lay out a book. It worked well for the eloquent Mr. Smedes, despite the title that some find rather dumb, and it works well for Schuurman as well.)
Schuurman shows, to put it too simply, how the possibility of computer science, and the structures that shape it (rooted as they are in God's created order) are essentially good (God made the world "very good" after all.) He helpfully does this in a great chapter called "Computer Technology and the Unfolding of Creation" and it is beneficial not only for those interested in technology, but  as an example of a great way to be shaped by this foundational teaching of the Bible. I wish other scholars and authors writing in other fields read this chapter as an example of how to start a book.

And, yet, the very structures and possibilities that emerge from a good creation, developed by humans made in the image of a good, creative God, are marred by sin.  Everything is messed up, distorted by idols and ideologies, shaped by sinful people in a broken world. Things are, as Cornelius Plantinga puts it in his amazing book about sin "not the way it's supposed to be."  Again, the neo-Calvinist worldview helps him immensely here as he is not surprised, nor devastated, by the realities of sin. It is interesting how so many Christian books either understate or overstate the impact of sin in our world.  Schuurman understands how sinful ideas and practices can lead to distorted values and ideologies.  He can name these, insightfully help us understand their contours and impact, and in this, he preforms a prophetic task.  Others have explored the downsides of our digital age, but Schuurman gets it particularly right.  He has drawn on the best social critics (Turkle, Postman, Ellul, et  al) and frames them in light of the Bible's own teaching about sin and idolatry and hubris and the like. That exceptional chapter is on the way the fallen nature of our world effects the doing of science and it is solid and wise and interestingly informative.

And, yes, in Christ, God has launched his Kingdom project.  The promise of Revelation -- "all things new"  -- is the truest truth!  What good news! God is faithful and in God's grace, through Christ, in the power of the Spirit, we get to "sing to the Lord a new song" which is to say we get to use our God-given intelligence, insight, creativity and passion to help bring new social initiatives, healing, helpful plans, fresh, good ideas, into the marketplace of ideas. Even technology and computers can be redeemed, touched with the healing influence of the cross and resurrected Christ.  The chapter "Redemption and Responsible Computer Technology" is brilliant, and this is where the previous two chapters -- the goodness seen in the sustained nature of the created order and the propensity to sin and wrong-headedness in our fallen world -- combine, allowing Schuurman to explore responsible agency. Just how do we live in this area, knowing what we know?  What a question!
He makes plain that we are not to be romantic idealists wishing for a pre-fallen world, but neither are we pessimists, merely lamenting the messiness of the complexities of our damaged culture. We don't opt out of modern projects but neither do we except everything to be gloriously proper.  We must learn to navigate our role in society -- and in this case, our use of computer technologies, and our engagement with the whole digital scene -- with "in the world but not of it" prudence and hope.
Some day, computer science will be used in the new creation, in glory to the Lamb and inwhen the kings come (Mouw) good.jpg service to all.   This world and parts of our culture will be redeemed.  For a beautifully explored case study of this very topic ( I just have to interject) see the little but life-changing book When the Kings Go Marching In: Isaiah and the New Jerusalem by Richard Mouw (Eerdmans; $15.00) And don't forget the wonderfully rich, very insightful rumination on this by Andy Crouch in his essential Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling (IVP; $25.00.)  Dr. Schuurman quotes both of these great books and his own eschatology vision for technology is itself very nicely developed. My, this is good. It's pretty neat to have an electrical engineer and math teacher talking about God's redemptive promises to renew all creation, eh?
But we are not there yet. We still inhabit this world laden with possibility and danger.  His chapter about the future is itself quite exciting, hopeful, sober, but he warns about the potential issues, and offers keen and balanced insight as we move towards robotics, 3-D computers, civilian use of drones and the like. (Can anybody say Google Glass?) Schuurman looks at artificial intelligence, the theories of Ray Kurzweil, and playfully explores some science fiction stuff. He knows all about the Turing Machine and the halting problem. His writing here is not so in-depth that those of us who aren't into this scene will be lost, but it is informed enough to be of interest even to sci-fi fanatics, futurists, math geeks and AI experts.
Again, Schuurman avoids the two extremes of Luddite negativity or utopian optimism.   Created, fallen, redeemed, and someday restored - this is the story told by any neo-Calvinist/Kuyperian scholar worth his or her salt.  Schuurman helps us see technology, and specifically, computers, in this light.  Such insight is worth its weight in gold. As I have suggested, there are no accessible books on this topic which explain this so well and have these Biblical/theological categories so overtly in place.
A second strength makes this book very helpful. One of the strengths of neo-Calvinist or Kuyperian thinking (although it can be annoying if it gets too prideful) is the custom of illustrating how other traditions haven't given the fullest account of things in God's world.  In other words, the helpfulness of Schuurman's neo-Calvinist approach is contrasted with other writers who, in his estimation, get it less than right, get stuck on the horns of dilemmas, or inevitably fail to give a fully proper theological account. In this case, Dr. Schuurman is gracious and, I think, nearly brilliant. He affirms the very best of other authors, engages them well (if in a cursory fashion) and honors their work, showing how their particular insights can be used, even if they aren't the whole story. And then he shows why their contribution isn't fully adequate.

For instance, there are critics of technology who have a looming Biblical blind spot.  Jacques Ellul comes to mind.  He is a very, very important writer, and we stock most of his many books. Yet, he is always negative, critical, disbelieving that God can (or desires to) redeem the stuff of earth.  This makes him amazingly astute in prophetic denunciation of idols and ideologies, but less useful when it comes to offering alternatives.  He's strong on the nay-saying, but weak on much positive.
At the risk of oversimplifying, consider how Ellul's book on communication suggests thatEllul_Politics_Technology_And_Christianity_sm.jpg media is always propaganda (that is the title of that book of his.)  His book on cities suggests that cities are not grounded in the good creation, and therefore something normative, but, rather, are signs of Babel and always bad.  Ditto with his view of politics: it is always violent, necessarily the abuse of power.  His book on technology, of course, exposes the idol of reducing everything to technique; it's mostly bad.  So, again, he is helpful in exposing what has gone wrong, what is dangerous and inappropriate and bad. (And we need this prophetic edge, more now than ever, I'd say!)
I only say all this to help you see that when Schuurman evaluates Ellul's important work, he is both appreciative, but shows that Ellul can't muster the resources to offer much that is positive; there are precious few norms to guide the development of a redemptive kind of technological work in the world for Ellul (and that may be because he simply doesn't have a good view of creation; like many liberation theologians, he reads the Bible as if it begins after the fall.) Ellul, and those who espouse his approach, basically say, as Nancy Reagan put it regarding teen sex, "just say no."

Schuurman explains that neo-Calvinist philosophy in the line of Kuyper (such as the aforementioned Herman Dooyeweerd) offers intellectual tools to see into the reality of God's ordered world, and thereby can come up with norms or principles that help us determine appropriate technological  design and use. With a robust theology of creation, one can imagine ordinances built into the world that can be opened up for positive guidance in doing stuff faithfully.  That is, we don't have to only say "no."
(He doesn't go into it too much, but this is important for him.  With Scripture as lenses, we can see into the realities of God's creation, discerning His ordinances for, in this case, prudent, responsible, multi-dimensional technological design. Interestingly, some would say that there is somewhat of a parallel here with the Roman Catholic methodology of determining principles from natural law.)
Anyway, Professor Schuurman (teacher and engineer that he is) shows you how it works and lays out design principles -- a multitude of them, including aesthetic ones, for instance -- and ways to create great programs and normative digital platforms for human flourishing.  This is truly remarkable, that he offers not only this richly Biblically-informed vision of the meaning of culture, technology, and computers, but he offers proposals and principles for opening up God's intentions for these technologies, computing for shalom, if you will.  He not only tells you what all means, but offers wise, normative guidelines for faithful advancement of the field.  In other words, he does a lot more than sound the warnings or tell you to be spiritually careful.

It takes a neo-Calvinist, I'd say - can somebody prove me wrong, here? - to offer a book like this, one that is robustly and equally convinced of the goodness of the structures of science and the dangers of the sinfulness of the direction it has been developed, and yet is also hopeful about the possibility of a reformation of the field.  In really simple parlance, he tells you what's right, what's wrong, and what, in faith, we might do about it all.

As you yourself have probably discerned, even from watching movies or advertisements, even, some nearly make demons out technology, others almost make idols out of it.  Some are too pessimistic, some nearly utopian. They overstate the evil or the potential.  Better, is knowing, really knowing, deep in one's spiritual bones, how the Biblical truths of "creation-fall-redemption" allows us imagination to at least get this right; we needn't be Luddites or utopians. We don't have to give up computers a la Wendell Berry nor wax eloquent about their spiritual potential a la Kurzeweil or the crew from Wired.  And so, Schuurman can truly appreciate Ellul (and he does!) and those in his wake (Neil Postman, God bless him, or  Borgman or Berry.)  But he doesn't fall for the gnostic heresy that there is something wrong with this creation, per se.  Sin is a parasite on a good creation, and any thing in life - computers, in this case - can be (must be, if we are to get it right) seen as made good, distorted by sin, and being redeemed and restored by the resurrected Christ.  We have to move beyond critique to re-formation!

This is one example of why Shaping a Digital World: Faith, Culture and Computer Technology is unlike any other accessible book in this field of technology, and the only book like it in the field of computer science.  That it draws on books like Al Wolter's Creation Regained (Eerdmans; $16.00) and uses its Kuyperian lingo of creation/fall/redemption, allows it to be balanced and intregal and extraordinarily helpful, not falling off into either extreme. Because it can hear the critique of the idols and the distortions caused by technology (indeed because it can name them so well) without lingering in the dangers, it becomes useful.  That is, it isn't just another abstract critique about the ideas of a technological society, but it offers practical guidance for new practices, norms for faithfulness in this field.

It sounds boring to say it is well balanced, so I won't say just that. It would be a blessing to have a book that is both critical and appreciative.  But Shaping a Digital World isn't just "balanced" -- it is stunningly insightful, extraordinarily fresh, radically integrated, wisely multi-faceted, practical and full of prophetic imagination!

Interestingly, writers from an earlier generation of reformational scholars have done good worktechnology and the future.jpg on the philosophy of technology, including the prolific and weighty Egbert Schuurman, whose several significant books we stock and whose books Douglas helpfully cites.
It was, in fact, Dutch neo-Calvinists at Calvin College in Grand Rapids (at their Center for Christian Scholarship) who in the late 1970s, perhaps inspired to come up with a moreresponsible-technology.jpg balanced and multi-dimensional and positive assessment of technology in contrast to Ellul and Stringfellow and Postman, who, with Egbert Schuurman (from Borger, Holland, I might add) undertook a multi-disciplinary project out of which came the one-of-a-kind Christian book on engineering, Responsible Technology: A Christian Perspective edited by Stephen Monsma (Eerdmans; $27.00.)  Responsible Technology may be just a bit dated now, but is still the go-to, best-of book for anyone looking through the eyes of Christian faith at the topic of engineering and industrial design. If you are a metallurgist, civil engineer or industrial designer, or involved in the economics or public policy of this arena, that book is a must! Again, there is nothing like it.
The next generation Schuurman, by the way, is easier to read, I think, than his namesake and I'm grateful for his clarity and passion. And, of course, his focus is on digital technologies and computer science.  He draws on the seminal Calvin Center's Responsible Technology: A Christian Perspective and the philosophical work of Egbert Schuurman, but updates it well, taking its reforming orientation and prophetic insights into the digital world of the 21st century.

A third way in which Derek Schuurman's Kuyperian worldview perspective helps him help us think through all these aspects of the subject is by drawing on the intellectual tools of Herman Dooyeweerd and his philosphy that insists on a multi-dimensional view of any and everything in God's world. One needn't follow heavy philosophy, though, to appreciate this. Dooyeweerd's imaginative listing of modalities that exist in God's world attempts to give a proper account of the way in which any given thing in God's world has various dimensions, facets, sides -- and so therefore has different laws or norms (he doesn't want to call them values) that must be considered. For example, a good design is not only cost efficient, but it will be practically useful, but it should also be aesthetically pleasing and environmentally sound, facilitating relationships, with proper legalities, etc.)
Attention to this helps us prevent "reductionism" (one of the devilish characteristics of Western modern culture, it seems, and something that scholars as diverse as C. S. Lewis and Albert Einstein, Michael Polanyi and Leslie Newbegin all railed against.)  By using Dooyeweerd's modal scale, and its structure of norms and laws that hold each dimension in relation to the other, Schuurman is able to give us a picture of how good computing works.  Whether one is a programmer or website designer or a typical browser and typer, this study of the very structure and dimensions of this slice of life is amazingly insightful. I really enjoyed it, and hope you would too.

Here is one quote where he reminds us of the nature of a multi-dimensional approach, an approach he thinks is grounded in the way God wants us to think about his vastly interesting and coherent creation:

Computer scientists and  engineers who spend much of their time looking at the world through the narrow lens of logic and algorithms must avoid tunnel vision. God's world is much more complex and diverse.  Even though many things possess computable attributes,they cannot simply be reduced to numbers. This notion is captured well by William Cameron, who wrote, "It would be nice  if all of the data which sociologists require could be enumerated because then we could run them through IBM machines an draw charts as the economists do. However,  not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted." The attempt to reduce created reality to something that can be computed is a form of reductionism.

derek.jpgThere is a fourth reason why this is a book that I find so helpful, so good, illustrative of the sorts of books we are most excited about.  It is serious, but not too demanding to read. It is enjoyable. It is pleasantly well written.  Dutch neo-Calvinist philosphy isn't usually know for its lovely prose, and the Kuyper stuff can get dense. (Kuyper's own work, of course, is translated from Dutch, from a hundred years ago, which is never simple.) Yet Shaping a Digital World by Derek C. Schuurman shines.  The author is a good communicator, passionate about his task, and clearly excited about teaching us to think faithfully about it. It is not dumbed down, but it isn't overly abstract or arcane, either.  Again, this is just the kind of book we most thrilled about, educated, interesting, faithful, helpful.

Shaping... is based on a very wide reading of the germane literature, it brings various schools of thought into dialogue, it takes seriously the insights of thinkers who may not be fully correct about everything, but who have something valuable to contribute.  That is to say, it is gracious and open.  And, yet, it is passionate about trying to frame the discussion in light of God's good care for the world, the Bible's insights, the need for uniquely Christian scholarship.  Dare I say it is holy?  Yes, this work is done on holy ground; Schuurman's approach is an act of worship.  I am glad for this heart-felt conviction, and I am glad for the teacherly clarity.  You will even be glad for the copious and interesting footnotes. It really is a very nice book.

And, there is a website that has some discussion questions and other resources to help you through the book.  Visit the book's webpage, here.

Some other authors may be more super-spiritual, pious, and inspirational as they gloss over hard work needed to be done in this field.  Other books may be more critical, passionately rejecting the reductionism and dangers of digital culture, alarmingly so, heavy in their critiques.  Few get it right, though, offering a vibrant reading of the good, the bad, the ugly, faithful and hopeful.  Few books so clearly call for good and beautiful and multi-dimensional reformation of the very art and science of computer use.  I am not kidding when I say this book is exemplary in nearly every way, and that every field of study would be so fortunate as to have such a young, learned, wise, and creative writer to guide us into the basics of a truly Christian approach to their field. Kudos to IVP Academic for acquiring this kind of manuscript, and kudos to Schuurman for  offering it to us.
I'm sure you know somebody who is eager to learn about a Christian philosophy ofshaping a digital world.jpg technology, especially information science and digital domains.  Most people reading this use computers a lot, I'd bet, so maybe this would be helpful, a good reading experience for you.

Perhaps you even know somebody who is eager to learn more about what we mean by neo-Calvinism, wanting to see a contemporary example of a young Kuyperian in action. Maybe you continue to be intrigued by the mix of titles and suggestions we make here at Hearts & Minds.  This is a great example of the sort of thing we most appreciate.

I also bet you know somebody who needs a good, practical example of how to "think Christianly" about a subject, how to study and evaluate and make contributions that are fundamentally shaped by Biblical faith, but that doesn't (mis)use the Bible as some kind of cheap handbook.  How about suggesting it as an option for your next book club? Or, start a reading group!

Christian students wanting to bone up on the whole process of doing Christian cultural analysis, Christian professors who haven't quite figured how to integrate faith and learning/teaching or maybe someone writing a paper, drafting a study document, or even authoring a book about the nature of our times would all benefit from this, I'm sure.

If you work with youth, young adults, or in campus ministry I'd say this is as good of a book as you can find that relevantly gets at this proper view of thinking Christianly, engaging culture, the doctrines of creation-being-regained, living with Kingdom hopes as "salt and light" disciples. If I were such a youth or college pastor, I'd have a few on my shelf.  Unless you want your young friends to go through life not thinking critically or Christianly about one of the major influences in their entire world!
For any of these folks, Shaping a Digital World is a good resource. May its vision be considered, its content be discussed, and its suggestions be embodied, for the sake of our own faithful presence in the world, corem deo, for the sake of our neighbors, and for the glory of God.  Calvinist, Kuyperian or not, we all want that, right?



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