About June 2013

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

May 2013 is the previous archive.

July 2013 is the next archive.

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

June 2013 Archives

June 4, 2013

The Challenges of Cultural Discipleship (Richard Mouw) and a Long Kuyperian Essay. And a FREE BOOK by Kuyper, for those who read on...

I know many who signed up to have BookNotes delivered into your inbox may not relish a long and long-winded essay on my opinions about my life and times and the problems with North American Christianity and the foibles of different camps within Reformed theology.  Spin it as "our story" as we may, you might want to skip ahead to the Richard Mouw review at the end.  We do cite a lot of books along the way in this lengthy essay, but I understand that you may not have signed up for this.

We are posting this under the "columns" section over at the website, not as a ordinary BookNotes blog.  I'll do a shorter BookNotes review soon. 

For now, consider this something like a free e-book.  Ha-ha.


I do hope you saw the last post where I described a great new book, Shaping a Digitalshaping a digital world.jpg World: Faith, Culture and Computer Technology (IVP Academic; $18.00) by Derek Schuurman, a work that beautifully illustrates how an author can think distinctively as a Christian in both appreciating and critiquing the values, ethos, and practices embedded in a particular side of life or academic discipline. Such discernment can give us a truly insightful, faithful and fruitful way of bringing our faith to bear on the topic, and how we do or don't relate to that particular sphere of life. In this case, the topic at hand is technology, and, particularly, computer science; I said that Schuurman's new release is the best Christian book on the subject.
I went to great lengths -- sorry! -- to show that part of the genius of this book was how the author so clearly and pleasantly draws upon the tradition of those thinkers who call themselves neo-Calvinists.  That is, they are re-appropriating for (so-called) "secular" subjects the Reformed theology of John Calvin, particularly standing on the shoulders of Dutch theologian, public intellectual and social activist, Abraham Kuyper.  Dr. Kuyper, as you surely know if you've been reading these posts, started the first Protestant University that was not run by church or state (The Free University of Amsterdam, often now cited in its Dutch spelling, The Vrije and just shorted to the VU)) and at its inauguration, he insisted that we study, through the lens of the story of Scripture, "every square inch" of the world, since Christ is redeeming it all.

You may not know the first part of that famous quote where Christ says of every square inch "Min!" which reads like this: "Oh, no single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest..."   Our discipleship is connected to everything, nothing is "seal off."  This is great news for those who want to, as Eric Liddell, the Scottish Olympic runner in Chariots of Fire put it, "feel God's pleasure" when doing what he is doing.

Indeed, a recent re-issue of some of Kuyper's early 20th century essays shows how God's common grace helps us understand both the the arts and the sciences; it is called Wisdom &wisdom & wonder_front.jpg Wonder: Common Grace in Science and Art (Christian's Library Press; $14.99) and we've offered it at 20% off that regular price at earlier BookNotes columns.  It isn't light reading although these were columns that had been published in the daily newspaper in those years.

I guess this is true of most Christian faith traditions, but clearly more some than others. The Reformed tradition emphasizes learning.  Using our minds.  Reading books.

My United Methodist background, too, might have helped here -- nobody told me growing up in my home EUB church, but I eventually learned that Wesley's method was one of reading classic books in small groups.  To redeem the time Wesley put book shelves in his carriage. (Do you use audio books on CD or on your smart phone, "reading" while you drive?  You're a good Methodist!)
 
It is good to again express my gratitude to those who helped me gain a passion for books, for Christian book-selling as we understand it, and for our hope that reading widely can help equip people to more meaningfully serve God in their daily lives, including their professional and public lives.  To really understand Hearts & Minds, you have to appreciate something of the revolution it was to learn about the intregal relationship between the Bible and life, between thought and action, between faith and culture.
 
KUYPERIAN INFLUENCE IN THE RELIGIOUS LANDSCAPE
In that recent post about the new Schuurman IVP book on computer technology I argued, following historians George Marsden and Mark Noll, that Schuurman's "creation regained" Christian worldview tradition, often called Kuyperian, has also influenced almost all of the very best recent Christian books on most academic disciplines -- from art to science, business to education, engineering to pop culture studies, from gender studies to historiography, from linguistics to medicine.
 
Whatever the case, I do know that this neo-Calvinist tradition about uniquely Christian cultural engagement and the call to the vocation of Christian scholarship influenced Beth and I in significant ways back in the 1970s.  She was raised Lutheran, I was raised United Methodist, we have Brethren relatives and I eventually worked for a Presbyterian (USA) church in those years, so this Dutch Reformed tradition talking about the Christian mind was new to us; for a handful of friends and co-workers, it was exciting and illuminating.  Many of our heroes in that era were influence by Kuyper: from Francis and Edith Schaeffer to South African black liberation theologian Alan Boesak to contemplative writer Don Postema to Canadian friends at Toronto's Institute for Christian Studies, We read philosopher Nicholas Woltersdorff, met Dutch Parliament member, economist Bob Goudzewaard, and read everything I could of publisher and Christian intellectual James Sire. We were meeting amazing folks, reading and learning a lot.
 
Eventually, we were hard at work promoting some of this wholisitc "transforming vision" perspective by bringing in friends like Al Wolters and Calvin Seerveld to the Pittsburgh Jubilee conference, which we helped organize through the campus ministry organization CCO that had some of these same influences.  (If you are anywhere in the greater Mid-Atlantic, and near a college campus, your church should partner with the CCO to reach students via your congregation.) Perhaps it was there where we saw the fruits -- with thousands of college students being equipped to be agents of God's work in their respective college departments and eventual careers -- of this neo-Calvinist vision, how to move from "worldview to way of life" as we used to say, and how "ideas grow legs."

We saw authors and books being used to change people's lives and we saw changed lives impacting relationships, neighborhoods, institutions.  Some friends start inner city health clinics, creative alternative schools, high quality home painting businesses, an innovative, experimental Christian jazz band!  People grappled with the ideas of Kuyper's worldview, books were changing lives and vocations and callings were being evoked. Years later, when Beth and I got the gig of being Jubilee booksellers (a role we still enjoy each year) I would sometimes shout out the phrase "Read for the Kingdom!"  Students got it.

God's Kingdom comes through God's own grace, but we have work to do.  And to do it effectively we can't just go touting at windmills -- conservative evangelicals and liberal social activists all, too often, are big on passion and good intentions, but haven't done the social analysis and foundational thinking about what really needs to be transformed if we are going to make lasting change.  Books are tools.  Forgive the militarist image, but Al Wolters used to talk about those doing intelligence behind the scenes in times of war.  Somebody has to be doing the strategic-level, deep thinking, quiet, slow, behind the scenes.  We have come to believe that bookstores are vital in equipping folks to that background work.

(An aside: sometimes I hear people askew my spiel about learning theology and Christina philosophy and thinking deeply about all areas of life.  They think that all this worldview talk is irrelevant.  Doesn't matter much.  Aha, I say: this just proves my point.  Few people in the history of the Western world, at least, would say this, except for modern North Americans, who are taken with the home-grown philosphy of John Dewey, the philosophy of pragmatism. We are a get 'er done society, and we want to roll up our sleeves and quite yappin'.  But  that is an idea -- that we only learn what is right and true by action, not by theorizing -- that is itself a theory that some philosopher invented, proclaimed, and which took hold and became popularized.  If you mock the ivory tower and egg heads, well, I just want to say "gotcha."  That is an egg head philosophy that you've just adopted.  Ideas and books and deep reflection really do matter and saying they don't just illustrates the point.)

So, we were learning this worldviewish, culturally engaged, semi-scholarly stuff as a key not only to healthy and lasting social action, but as the content of the most faithful sort of wholistic evangelism.  We invite folks to get in on this good stuff God is doing, recruiting folks to God's agenda in the world.  We we missional, before that phrase became au courant.

Yep, all this stuff really was the fertile ground from which our bookstore grew.  That I worked for a bit at Pittsburgh's Thomas Merton Center added some ecumenical flavor, and our involvement with radical protest movements (kudos to Phil Berrigan and his comrades in no-arms) kept us on our toes.

Our story is fairly colorful, our mentors diverse. It seems that our most notable influences, though, were located on the margins of the better-known Protestant traditions, the mainstream evangelical or the mainline denominations. We are evangelicals and we are committed to mainline churches, but neither faith tradition really have been captured by (and at times seem at odds with) the all-of-life redeemed influences we learned from neo-Calvinists in the line of Abraham Kuyper. Perhaps it makes sense that we learned much of this creation-regained world and life perspective from children of immigrants (mostly Dutch Canadians who immigrated with their Kuyperian dreams and vision after World War II.)  Some of those immigrants are now elder professors at places like Dordt College and Calvin College, at Hope College, at ICS in Toronto, Redeemer College in Ancaster, Ontario, and Trinity Christian at Palos Heights, IL, to name a few.  Some of their disciples took up positions at Geneva College in Western PA and other good colleges from Gordon to Montreat.

I say all of this yet again, because this is our story.  It is a story that those who appreciate Hearts & Minds and want to support us should know.  Maybe it helps you reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of your own religious influences and your faith journey.

The post before the last one, the one where I highlighted four new Kuyper books -- offered a bit of our story and explained why we carry books (even whole categories of books) that aren't found in most Christian bookstores.  Mom and pop evangelical bookstores don't carry much on media or science or urban studies or engineering or global justice issues; traditional Catholic shops don't have much about relating faith and careers, either,  except maybe devotional literature to practice God's presence in the work-world or the (often helpful, if general) studies of Catholic social teaching applied to contemporary issues.  Seminary bookstores have academic theology and some scholarly cultural theory, but, again, not ordinary books for the ordinary people of God to think faithfully, with discernment, about how to live as light and leaven in the workaday world.  My sense is that most theological schools don't care about those not in the guild, so many clergy are schooled in pastoral approaches that are a far cry from discipling the flocks into vocations of cultural engagement.
  
TWO EXAMPLES OF AREAS WHERE THIS MATTERS
To underscore the sad fruit of this, see How the Church Fails Businesspeople by John Knapp (Eerdmans; $15.00) which really helps expose (and offers helpful antidotes to) the churches weakness about serving those who work in corporate cultures.  Or recall how pastor Tom Nelson found his church so very responsive when he (finally) started talking about these things  -- a story he tells quite well in Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work (Crossway; $15.99.)

As friends at The High Calling blogs are finding, there are thousands of ordinary Christian people who long to live out their faith in significant ways, but who must learn to do that in the realm of the office cubicle or shop floor or sales meeting or design studio.  Take a look at -- and sign up to stay in touch with -- the fantastic website called (re)integrate for a great resources along these lines. If ordinary congregations don't talk about this stuff much, para-church organizations will find folks pouring out their hearts, and regaining fresh energy for work-world mission. As long as churches presume some sacred vs secular dualism they will never really learn to equip ordinary people for ordinary life.
 
By the way, in an otherwise helpful book just recently published by a well-known press thoroughly committed to and situated among mainline denominations, authored by a Presbyterian minister, we read that work was created as cursed.  Although this author eventually draws well upon Calvin, and Puritans like Baxter who passionately promoted solid thinking about vocations in the work-world, this exegetical nonsense slipped by editors there. Apparently this prominent scholar about the effects of work in our culture and pastor hadn't read Kuyper (or any contemporary evangelical commentary on Genesis 1 or 2 for that matter) on the "cultural mandate" that insists that work is part of the "original blessing" that preceded the fall into sin. So it goes.
 
Or, consider how the documented research in David Kinnaman's You Lost Me Why Young Christians Are Leaving the Church (Baker; $17.99) indicates that a sizable number of young churched kids leave church, and maybe even Christian faith, because they seemed to think that their congregations don't care much about the arts, or about science, or about their passions and careers and work. I've long suggested that the symbolism (at least) of giving gifts to high school grads that intentionally help them relate faith and their calling as students (if they are going to college) is very, very important. But most churches -- evangelical and mainline alike -- usually fail at this, not making much of an effort to help students be Christian students, and our collegiates lose interest in church as soon as the autumn leaves begin to change on the college quad.  Why pastors and church leaders don't get this, I believe -- and this is just one case study -- may go back to the way in which seminary education is done, abstracted from the all-of-life redeemed vision of a robust Christian worldview, which, for whatever reason, they seem not to learn in their preparation for ministry. We have a churchy, constricted view of faith and call for precious little "cost of discipleship" when it comes to learning, reading, taking up one's calling, or exploring vocations in the world with theological distinction.) 

Anyway, Kinnaman's book, and others like it, note that the in the very years in which studentsmake-college-count-a-faithful-guide-to-life-and-learning.jpg are making big, big choices -- about identity, calling, vocation, truth, values, relationships and more -- we often reduce faith to a less than robust, full-orbed worldview, It's no wonder a lot of young adults don't find it worth maintaining any serious connection to the church or faith of their youth. It will come as no surprise to you that we suggest Make College Count: A Faithful Guide for Life and Learning by our friend Derek Melleby (Baker; $12.99) as a key resourceOutrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness.jpg for those younger students heading off to college for the first time.  Derek co-authored with Geneva College sociologist Donald Opitz a tremendously upbeat and fun and relevant study for older students, The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness: A Guide for Students (Brazos; $13.99)  No other book for students gets at these things the way these do -- is it any surprise they were influenced by this whole "all of life redeemed" integrated vision learned by Kuyper's "every square inch" movement?

I've told you before that the part of our website (dreadfully in need of updating) called "books by vocation" is highlighted in a new booklet for college students, Your Mind's Mission by Greg Jao (IVP; $4.00.) Again, there is nothing quite likeyour minds mission.jpg it, a powerhouse of a booklet, interesting, informative, inspiring, and also quite thoughtful, designed to help students take up the call to "think Christianly" and use their minds to advance God's mission in the world. For the size and prize, it just can't be beat.  Jao draws on many of these same sources that we regularly highlight here.  If you -- or your children -- are involved in a campus ministry fellowship group on campus and they don't talk about these kinds of things, and aren't familiar with these sorts of resources, I guess I wouldn't shout "ministry malpractice" quite yet.  But do know that you may need to share this stuff with them, helping them get this perspective onto their radar screen.  Could you imagine a sports ministry that doesn't relate faith and sports, or a fellowship group among artists, say, which doesn't talk about art, or a missionary to, oh, say, Sweden, who doesn't care about the things the Swiss do?  But college ministries abound that fail to help students think Christianly about their calling and careers and their life in the classroom at college. Dumb.  That's just dumb.  I hope you give your student's going off to college some good resources to help them navigate the journey with this kind of relevance and integrity.  


DEMAND FOR OUR KIND OF BOOKS?  CHRISTIAN BOOKS ON ART, SCIENCE, BUSINESS, WORK, PLAY?

So, given this privatized and abstracted faith that is disconnected in fundamental ways to the spheres of career and public life and which therefore fails to call very strongly for integrated Christian perspectives in all areas of life, there isn't as big of a demand for books about life and learning and work and social action as there ought to be. The feeble vision of what passes for ministry in many places not only steals God's glory and fails God's world, but, quite frankly, it hinders us from making a living doing what we do.

reading- good missiology.jpgFor those with a dualistic view, why would a health care provider want to read a theological book about the human body? Why would a local savings and loan officer want to read a book about faith and economics? Why would a family counselor what to read a book about different models of using the Bible in therapy? Why would an engineer want to read up on a faith-based evaluation of technology? Why would anybody want to hold up their entertainment practices (as sports fan or movie goer, say) to the demands of a Christian framework? Why indeed. That pastors and Bible teachers don't often talk about these kinds of things (and most Christian authors of popular Christian books don't much either) means that ordinary Christian folk just don't think to be curious about these kinds of books, which they may not even know exist!  Being a lawyer or doctor or school teacher having done some intentional thinking about what that means and looks like? How novel!

This is partially why we are nearly always broke, it seems, and why whole areas of our store -- the shelves that hold oodles of books on creation care or aesthetics or business or engineering or teaching or medicine or law -- are overlooked by folks in those very fields. Yet, we feel called to offer them, to hold up a vision of a Christian bookstore that is more than a typical bookstore, religious or otherwise.

Between the secularized and often weirdo stuff in mainstream bookstores and the narrow religious vision in most faith-based bookstores, there just isn't much of a venue for quality books that are radically Christian but relevant and reasonable, equipping us to grapple with life, faith, vocation, culture, justice, art and the like.  We aren't the only place to buy books, we know, but we are trying to earn your support.  We are trying to curate a selection of titles that our customers care about, that perhaps expands the definition of a "Christian bookstore." We figure you know this -- and we are so, so grateful for those of you who spread the news about us, who get your organizations buying books from us, who spread my reviews and send us orders  -- but we also wanted to ruminate a bit together about our roots, our background, our motivation, our story.
 
WHY?
?There are lots of reasons for the deficiencies of what most Christian bookstores promote, and reasons why most religious readers don't even think to read a book about art or eating, commerce or shopping, technology or architecture. One of the obvious reasons some bookstore owners don't promote this stuff is because, well, customers want stupid derivative tee shirts and simple inspirational fiction, and the demand, even for booksellers who may want to offer more mature and socially engaged books, just isn't there.
 
I had mentioned "privatized" faith, though. Did you catch that?  Surely part of the problem is the constricted vision - some call it a "sacred/secular dualism - that privatizes faith and fails to understand that all of our bodily life is worship (despite what Romans 12:1-2 proclaims so clearly!)  We fail to live integrated lives where Sunday shapes Monday; where work is as holy as hymn-singing, where our politics and our prayers are seamless and related, where our shopping is informed by our spirituality.  We miss the truth, as Jim Wallis puts it, that Biblicaldualism graphic.png faith is "always personal but never private."  The dichotomy and dualism between the so-called sacred and so-called secular came from the pagan Greeks like Plato and isn't a Biblically-faithful way of seeing life, where (as C.S. Lewis put it) "matter matters."  Authors as diverse as Brian Walsh and Richard Middleton (The Transforming Vision: Shaping a Christian Worldview [IVP; $17.99]) and Nancy Pearcey (Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity [Crossway; $20.99]) or Leslie Newbegin (The Gospel in a Pluralist Society [Eerdmans; $25.00]) all get at this.  Dividing life into sacred and secular, and thinking of the human person as eternal souls trapped in temporal bodies, just isn't how the Bible tells the story.  We have got to stop talking like that.

TSurprised by Hope-b.jpgom Wright has helped us all a lot with this, in most of his books, but especially in his popular, thought-provoking Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (HarperOne; $24.99.) It wonderfully explores how our views of the afterlife are not always properly informed by Biblical and theological clarity. And there's that Greek dualism thing.  What we think about the future does effect how we live  now, so this call to rethink heaven clearly relates to the mission of the church.

There is a fantastic video curriculum on it, too, also called "Surprised by Hope" (Zondervan; 6-part DVD and participants guide; $34.95.) I've lead discussions of it in my own church on two occasions, and we have been thrilled with the good conversations each time.

This great book and DVD teaches some sort of "realized eschatology" view that understands our final eternal destination not as an ethereal heaven but as a renewal of creation -- a new Jerusalem!  Jesus called it the Kingdom of God, and we pray for it to be manifest "on Earth as it is in Heaven." ("As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be" we sing in the Gloria Patri, and I think that means that Christ has conquered the offensive principalities and powers, has through his cross and resurrection reversed the curse upon creation, and now reigns as the risen Lord of the world He made and loved, and we shall, someday, inhabit a restored Paradise.  Of course it isnt' quite right in the sense that the end plan is a city -- there has been cultural development and a lot of history under the bridge of time.) This view of God's agenda, the hope of heaven as "creation healed" helps us realize that there is no fundamental dualism between the spiritual and the material. In resurrection newness, we live ordinary life in this world, as the new creatures in Christ the Bible says we are, anticipating the glory that is to come.
 
That is why, by the way, that we are so keen to promote books on health and wholeness, oneat with joy.jpg food and eating, and on seemingly mundane matters like homemaking, gardening, neighborhood life, caring for pets, even sports and leisure.  The early church long ago named the super-spiritual, world-denying nature of gnosticism as a great heresy, and an inhuman threat, and we counter it by a vision which proclaims "whether you eat or drink" (or play or work) "do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31.)

1 Timothy 4:1-4 even suggests it is the work of demons to suggest otherwise.  Only occasionally do we trot that verse out when a customers implies we shouldn't carry this book or that, shouldn't stock that CD or DVD. But sometimes it needs to be said  -- dualism and gnosticism and privatized faith and sentimental anti-intellectualism have no place in the obedient Christian life.

I sometimes rather start, however, with Paul on Mars Hill (Acts 17) who clearly knew pagan Greek poetry and theater.  He was conversant in the culture of which he was a part, apparently a devotee of reading widely. Heck, he was  ordering books from young Timothy on his deathbed in that Roman prison (2 Timothy 4:13).  Calvin's commentary on that verse reminds us that we should, I can paraphrase, realize that no matter how spiritual we think we are, we should always be on the cutting edge of studying to learn new stuff.  If the aging Apostle Paul himself, who was so inspired by the Holy Spirit that he was writing the Bible (!) had to keep reading and learning, ordering books, shouldn't we?

NO-DUALISM TEE SHIRTS AND...
When I worked for the CCO in the 70s, we read books against dualism, but it was the training staff of the 90s that made "no dualism" tee shirts, showing the classic DaVinci human split asunder. How cool, and what an opportunity for conversation.  Back in college we had a poster from the AACS (The Association for the Advancement of Christian Scholarship, which created the high level grad school, The Institute for Christian Studies) that had a big stack of then popular secular textbooks that said "we read a lot of these" underneath - "but never without this" besides it, emblazoned beneath a well-worn Bible.  It was a cool poster, inviting a study of Noam Chomsky next to and in light of Scripture, reminding us of the calling of students to "take every thought captive" and think Christianly in the classroom. I guess that poster really sunk in, as it sums up our reason for being here at Hearts & Minds. (If anybody out there has one of those posters, it sure would be cool to have it scanned and on line.  I've done Google image searches and can't find it.)

Besides the "no dualism" tees and the "we read a lot of these, but never without this" poster, we had "life is religion" bumper-stickers."  We read a magazine called Vanguard that was about faithful cultural engagement in a way that nothing else in print that I knew of did. (Relevant of course didn't exist yet, CT was very theological and churchy (as was Christian Century on the other end of the theological spectrum), Christianity and Crisis and Post-Amercan were progressive, mostly political and economic topics.) Does anybody recall the  magazine out of Berklee called Radix? The was pretty great, too, offering Christ-centered, radical cultural analysis and a call to think about cultural renewal.   This was the end of the Jesus movement, the waning days of the 60s counter culture, and an idealistic renewed understanding of faith's powerful impulse to engage the culture that came from Kuyperian, reformational thought. Instead of simplistic, evangelical pieties (or the liberal whining against those who hold to those pieties so popular amongst progressives) we cut our teeth on worldview thinkers and cultural critics from Kuyper to Schaeffer to Dooyeweerd; from Bernie Zylstra and Henk Hark to Calvin Seerveld, Bob Goudzewaard,  James Skillen, Nicholas Woltersdorff and Al Wolters to Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, Richard Mouw, Sharon Gallagher, Roy Clouser,  Brian Walsh and Richard Middleton. And, nowadays, Andy Crouch, James K.A. Smith and N.T. Wright who help us in these exact matters, just to name a few.  These names may not mean much to you, but I have mentioned them all in other columns, and are thrilled to stock their books, books that I hope you know about.

As I said in the last two posts, we learned of this feisty, relevant, culture-shaping vision from ministry leaders who had been shaped by the visionary legacy of Dutch theologian and public intellectual, Abraham Kuyper.  (One of my own mentors in Dutch worldview thinking was Peter J. Steen, who died in the early '80s.) That is why I made such a big deal (or tried to) sharing that post about four new books about Kuyper.  These are an important part of our story here, and, if you are interested in what makes us tick, as they say, knowing these heady books and the movement they stand for would be helpful.
 
I know I said it before, but I again recommend Richard Mouw's little paperback, Abraham Kuyper: A Short and Personal Introduction (Eerdmans; $16.00) wonderfully tells his own story of how he came to his place as a Kuyperian neo-Calvinist and it is a great place to start.  I liked Mouw's story, and I value his explanation of Kuyper's most important ideas (even as he admits that not everything Kuyper did or said was right or good or helpful today.) He really does help us see why the Dutch statesman theories can help us reform the social architecture today.
 
The big, new James Bratt biography on Kuyper called Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat (Eerdmans; $30.00) is itself an amazing history lesson, teaching about Kuyper, "warts and all" and is the definitive book if one wants an excellent study of his extraordinary life and its legacy.  Perhaps a bit less daunting, for those unable to tackle the big Bratt, one might consider the Scottish book Abraham Kuyper: God's Renaissance Man by James Edward McGoldrick (Evangelical Press; $18.99.)

If you still don't believe me that this is good stuff, do check out this wonderful, wonderful  article recently in Christianity Today. It is very nicely done by Pennsylvania friend, Geneva College history prof, Dr. Eric Miller: "How a Dutch Neo-Calvinist Helped Birth an Intellectual Movement."  

AN IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION ABOUT THE PHRASE NEO-CALVINIST
I know not all readers care about my Presbyterian and Reformed leanings, but this is important. If you talk at all about religious trends and demographics in recent years, you should be aware of this. Over the last few years, there have been more than a few blogs, a book or two, and even mainstream news stories about the renewal of old school Calvinism that has become popular these days. New publishing houses have been created, and new associations.  Many in the evangelical world, including many Southern Baptists, are becomingyoung, restless, reformed.jpg Calvinistic.  One good book to get a feel for this is the important Young Restless and Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists by Collin Hansen (Crossway; $15.99.)  The frustrating thing is that some casual pundits (and religious writers who ought to know better) have referred to this upswing in conservative Reformed doctrine as neo-Calvinism, which it is not.  This recent religious phenomenon may be better described as a neo-Puritanism as much of the piety of young, restless newly reformed Calvinists is more Jonathan Edwards than Abraham Kuyper, more John Piper or Mark Driscoll than, oh, say, Jamie Smith or Richard Mouw. A new upswing in interest in conventional Calvinism does not equal neo-Calvinism.
 
New interest in old Puritanism, with its attendant fixation on fine-tuned descriptions ofhipster-calvin.jpg atonement theory, say, and the claim that Christ is sufficient for everything, is, again, not the same thing as what has long been called neo-Calvinism. This is a large distinction, and one that sloppy commentators have muddled, starting with the wildly popular "10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now" cover story in Time magazine a few years ago. (I saw that article cited somewhere just this week!)  The phrase neo-Calvinism has a long, storied, linage (as that Jim Bratt biography just begins to tell) and the fairly recent "Gospel Coalition" and the hip, young, conservative "newly" Reformed movement may or may not find themselves in alignment with the trajectory of full-orbed, democratic, Dutch Kuyperianism. In other words, some who have recently embraced strict Reformed doctrine may not want to live into a reformational vision of the sort I've described here.

For an energetic and feisty delineation between the two movements (those newly interested in Old Calvinism and the neo-Calvinism of Kuyper) I highly recommend the creative pieces by my friend Bob Robinson. He draws on names, conferences, schools, and journals that you should know if you want to be informed about the religious landscape of North American  evangelicalism.

First, read this.  At then end, he has five links, each an article comparing and constrasting the two schools  or movements. He looks at a representative historic figure, two magazines, two popular preachers, two conferences, two institutions of higher learning, and two different emerging leaders.  Wow.
 
http://vanguardchurch.blogspot.com/2009/04/which-is-new-calvinism-neo-puritanism.html

For a more sober and perhaps generous evaluation of these two camps, we recommend this thoughtful piece by Ray Pennings from the Kuyperian Comment magazine.

Here is a list of the "Contours of a Missional Neo-Calvinism" by Mike Goheen and Craig Bartholomew as reported by our friend Steve Bishop in the UK. Good stuff, quick!

And in a great piece, the very influential, and gracious thinker Al Wolters, offers his suggestions about the neo-Calvinist agenda, and "what is to be done" that was part of an intriguing symposium at the neo-Cal Comment magazine.

And, while you're at, enjoy the wonderful piece by Clay Cooke, a US evangelical who discovered the robust creational theology of neo-Calvinism, and wondered how to incorporate this culturally relevant vision with his desire for a deep devotional piety. Very nice.near-unto-god-abraham-kuyper-paperback-cover-art.jpg "Evangelicalism and Neocalvinism: Friends or Enemies?"

Cooke is right about this. Despite his towering intellect and tireless public activism and finally becoming the Prime Minister and major European statesman, Kuyper was most beloved and well known amongst the common people of his land for his daily devotional writing, such as the lovely book Near Unto God, a set of reflections on the Psalms. Get the edition adapted by James Schaap (Dordt College Press; $17.99) which Eugene Peterson called "an enduringly nurturing guide."

BOTH/AND
explicit-gospel.pngThe Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler with Jared Wilson (Crossway; $17.99) I am not sure this book emerged from this battle of terms, and the important nuances that distinguish these two camps but it is concerned about these two ways of living into a Biblically Reformed theological vision these days. I think it is very helpful.  Chandler, who has not had affiliations with the reformational movement but is aligned more with the neo-Puritans, shows the strengths and weakness of those who have a gospel-centered vision that emphasizes the assurance of salvation, understanding the atonement, makes clear about how justification works, that helps us resist personal idols and the simple truths of grace "on the ground." This group is quick to talk about "treasuring" the gospel (ht to John Piper) and (in contrast) those who fixate on the cultural mandate, Kingdom thinking, social renewal, and the big picture of the restoration of all creation, including the social architecture and institutions of the society.  One tends to have an approach that forms people through the lens of systematic theology while the other tends to shape people by the unfolding story of Scripture -- creation/fall/redemption/restoration and the like. In some ways, this is naming the approaches of the newly Calvinistas and the Kuyperian neo-Calvinists.

This is not the same debate, by the way, as the earlier one between a merely personal gospel and the social gospel, between evangelicals and social activists, although it is similar, perhaps somewhat parallel.

(The definitive book that lays that old stupid split to rest is Ronald J. Sider's must-read Goodgood news and good works.jpg News and Good Works: A Theology of the Whole Gospel [Baker; $20.00.] Evangelical Anabaptist that he is, he gets it so, so right, with a passionate care for peace, social reform and public justice and a very sincere heart for Christ-centered evangelism and traditional proclamation of the gospel.  With insights from Kuyperians, though, Ron insists that the both/and wholistic view of  salvation that he proposes -- words and deeds --  points to a whole "creation regained" vision, which goes under the Biblical rubric of The Kingdom of God. Right on, Ron, right on!)

Matt Chandler, in The Explicit Gospel, his Crossway book about the two different styles of being gospel-centered and Reformed these days is wise, I think, in many ways, and I think his study helps all of us --  Reformed or not, Kuyperian or not -- to consider deeply the basics of the faith and to learn to communicate them well. Of course, the question he is exploring is: "what is the gospel?" (Is it that your individual soul is saved by accepting Christ's substitutionary death or is in the inauguration of the Kingdom of God which is a healing of the cosmos? Or both?) That Chandler ends up more or less "both/and" is a healthy, rather Kuyperian move, by the way, and the indication that a book like this even points to this bigger context of personal salvation is, if I may be so bold, proof of my thesis that this Kuyperian worldview/ Kingdom vision stuff is rubbing off.  I don't think a book quite like this would have been written even ten years ago.
 
I am glad for the young Puritans and their hip blogs and books such as the popular Matt Chandler, David Platt, Frances Chan, Tim Challies, Justin Taylor, Kevin DeYoung, and any number of young, restless, Reformed men (and most of the authors are men.) I don't agree with all that they write, but they are part of a renewal that is sweeping the land, and it is bearing fruit in people reading old books, digging deeper into the first things of the gospel, and has energized a new passion for church planting, missional outreach, and the development of an often healthy on-line presence.
 
THE IMPLICATIONS OF KUYPER'S 1898 "LECTURES ON CALVINISM"
Still, it has been Kuyperians who, starting in the late 1800s and early 20th century, construed a socially-oriented neo-Calvinism, a movement that, among other things, emphasizes common gracelectures on cal.jpg (for the common good) in a pluralistic society and yet asserts the need for a distinctively Christian mindset and approach to all areas of life, including the spheres of business, education, science, the arts, and politics.  Kuyper outlined this robust, multi-faceted, culturally-influential, wide-as-life vision of transforming culture in his 1898 Stone Lectures at Princeton, still in print as Lectures on Calvinism (Eerdmans; $16.00).
 
My take on that dense, historic work is simply this: Calvinism is too often considered to be about predestination and obsessed with theological arcana, mostly around issues of the atonement and God's character.  (Young, restless new Calvinists seem more than willing to fight over these doctrinal matters, it seems, often acting rather ungracious about grace, reinforcing a negative stereotype about those who are passionate about this rather limited view of Calvinism and Reformed theology and the squabbles it too often generates.  It is why I so recommended the James Smith book of pastoral letters to tone this down a bit -- see below!)  Kuyper, however, while still firmly committed to most teachings of the great Genevan reformer (and more than willing to fight about them, too) wondered what it would look like to press the sovereignty of God not only into matters of election, but into matters of culture, society, and the spheres of the nation. That is, he is interested in God's reign over history - surely a theme going back at least to Augustine.  So it should come as no surprise that neo-Calvinism or Kuyperianism has born fruit of cultural organizations and distinctive scholarship (hence, that great Kuyper Center book on the arts and music that I highlighted, and the new book on computer science by Schuurman!  Did you know that Kuyperians formed an alternative Christian labor union in Canada, the CLAC, the does collective bargaining from a view of reconciliation, with an emphasis on the dignity of the worker in partnership with management? They are too socially engaged for most safe Christian folk who can't imagine developing a uniquely Christian theory of economics and unions but they aren't as socialistic and adversarial as most traditional secular unions.  So they are ignored by the church and often hated in the streets.  Ahh, this is radical, good stuff, the stuff that -- as far as I can gather -- only Kuyperians have come up with. Some serious Catholics and many Mennonites have joined their ranks, since they, too, have a faith that expresses itself in comprehensive social theories that are at odds with the militant and materialistic philosophies of most unions.)

At the very least, those inspired by this vision end up talking about vocation and calling and cultural engagement, not merely doctrine and theology. One of the differences between neo-Calvinism and more traditional, conservative Calvinism that Bob Robertson observed in the link I offered above, is the difference between, say, the reformational Jubilee conference (or maybe even the somewhat similar Q events) which emphasizes thinking and living faithfully in various career tracks and the more doctrinally-focused events popular among the stricter Reformed folks who have conferences themed around systematic theological topics. Of course, Jubilee wants to have proper doctrine, and I suppose the Gospel Coalition leaders want their grace-filled, gospel-centered disciples to go out into work and society as agents of some sort of social advancement, but there it is, the two different emphases and trajectories. Older school conservative Calvinists too often fixate on theology and doctrine and church polity while Kuyperian neo-Calvinists have for a century promoted the reformation of all of life, based on distinctively Christian thinking and scholarship to provide guidance in different social spheres.

So, anyway, to recap: when we talk about neo-Calvinism, this is an allusion to the reformational worldview of the Dutch statesman Abraham Kuyper, whose "wide as life" understanding of redemption emphasized cultural engagement and Christian thinking and has generated a variety of uniquely Christian organizations and ministries that are committed to institutional transformation..  His was an orthodox and evangelically Reformed sort of social gospel, in distinction to the narrow pietism of the conservatives (not to mention the liberal heterodoxy of most mainline expressions of faith.)
 
Therefore, when I say (as I often do) that we here are neither left nor right, it often means that we think that Biblical people shouldn't tie their hopes to the societal theories or social agendas of liberal or conservative political thinkers.  But, more foundationally, it means that, as some sort of Kuyperian, I need to humbly suggest that old school evangelical truisms and old school liberal theologies are both wanting.  It might be said that one constricts the scope of the gospel while the other confuses the content of the gospel.  As one with a foot in both well-known camps - evangelicalism and mainline denominationalism - it is good to know that there is a better place to stand, and that is upon the ground tilled well by Kuyper and his neo-Calvinist movement.

We need orthodox foundations and an opened-up, forward-thinking cultural vision that is consistent with a solid, faithful regard for the authority of Scripture.  As Chandler's book reminds us, we need to be explicit about the gospel, but we must, as Kuyper so consistently reminds us, know that the gospel is the inauguration of the Kingdom, which means that all of life is being redeemed, as Christ's claim over His world comes, "on Earth as it is in heaven."

An important, popular writer today who took in this "reformational movement" and studied withimagining the kingdom cover.jpgdesiring-the-kingdom.jpg neo-Calvinists at Toronto's ICS is James K.A. Smith, whose recent books are, by all accounts, must- reads. Few books have been as discussed and embraced in recent years as Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation and Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works. Jamie is a friend, and so we are eager to promote his stuff, but, truly, these are among our favorite recent books and although they are serious and provocative, you really, really should know them. Both of these in his "cultural liturgies" series are published by Baker Academic and sell for $22.00 (although we have promoted them often at BookNotes and still offer them for 20% off!)

PIPER, KUYPER, AND THE BROADER REFORMED TRADITION
To get a taste of Smith's pastoral heart, and how he guides readers from older school, strict Calvinism to a more Kuyperian, broader Reformed tradition, I highly recommend his quite lletters to a young calvinst.jpglovely and very kind Letters to a Young Calvinist: An Invitation to the Reformed Tradition (Baker; $14.99.) I was not kidding when I said - and I said it often, when this little book came out a few years ago -- that Letters to... is very helpful, even if you are neither young nor Calvinist.

This great little book ruminates on some of the broad themes of the Presbyterian and Reformed tradition and is both ecumenical in spirit and neo-Calvinist in orientation; as I sometimes put it, this book draws on authors from Piper to Kuyper, with an appreciation for both, but with an emphasis on the latter.  And, it reminds us all to be generous in our understandings of orthodoxy and broadly engaged in missional projects of social renewal as we live out our faith in the contemporary culture.  I really love that little book and can hardly think of a better, tender guide into these big conversations!

By the way, I have had more than one mainline pastor ask me about Mark Driscoll or John Piper or other conservative evangelicals of this sort, wondering about their appeal, and if they should be distressed that students from their parishes have gone off to college and come hope talking like they just invented the Protestant Reformation.  I do think this book is helpful to understand some of this, and would be good to give to any young person newly excited about Reformed faith, but with a rather narrow view of it all.

And I like that Jamie points us back to Kuyper.
 
Anyway, these are some of our cards, out on the table.  Add in some mystical spirituality and some social justice activism and some Anabaptist pacifism -- not to mention mainline denominational stuff from all over the map and books with no Christian content whatsoever -- and you'll get a bit of the curious mix of titles you can find at Hearts & Minds. (You know that our full inventory is not on line - sorry!  We have thousands and thousands of titles, with new stuff arriving daily!)  The philosophy of our store -- not exactly a typical "Christian" bookstore, but not just a general market bookstore, either --  comes from these themes and instincts based on the teachings of Kuyper.  In common grace, we realize God can speak widely through all manner of art, literature, poetry, science.  We fear no zone of life, and carry all kinds of interesting books, to be read (always) with discernment.  But, in radical discipleship, we are called to be holy, living well before God, thinking faithfully in and about all areas of life.  We are to be leaven and light, "in but not of" the world, and books (and the conversations that emerge from them) are chief tools of formation and discipleship as we are equipped to be God's salt and light in the world in which we live.

READING WIDELY AND WILDLY
We believe in reading widely, so we can be wildly ecumenical.  One of the reasons we enjoy (and believe it wise and important, as well) to read widely is because of this Kuyperian instinct that God is at work in the world, and that in God's sovereign common grace has allowed good insight about things to pop up all over.  I don't know enough about Kuyper's own sensibilities about this, but I like to think that his convictions about God's rule over all of life authorizes pleasant habits of reading all sorts of things.

HOLY AND RELEVANT? IN BUT NOT OF?
At risk of belaboring the point (a point I may have belabored quite enough already) or of oversimplifying, allow me to ponder this just a bit more and it has been a huge hurdle for many to overcome.  Even those who don't necessarily fret about reading widely might ponder how to talk about it, since so many do have anxieties about what is acceptable reading and viewing.
It seems to me that more conservative Christians are, in principle at least, opposed to reading widely.  They turn up their noses when they see the mainstream authors in our store, and we sometimes apologize for stocking non-Christian thinkers or novelists.  I understand that desire for holiness, and am embarrassed by some of the language in some of the novels these days.  (And yet, how does one write a novel like the Pulitzer Prize winning Middlesex without some graphic language?)

These sort of folks may imbibe without much critical distant right-wing radio talk show guys who aren't particularly evangelical, but, mostly, they keep their distance from mainstream CDs or novels; inconsistent with what they allow into their lives, it  seems tome, but that's how they roll.  I think they are admirable in wanting to be discerning and careful and holy about culture.  They are weak on relevance and miss much of what the Bible itself tells us about cultural engagement, the use of our minds, and how to be engaged with the world around us.

On the other hand, there are those who turn up their nose at those who turn up their noses at the sin of our society.  The more liberal tradition sucks in Oprah and Dr. Oz and Jay Leno and, if sophisticated, the New York Times  The Atlantic Monthly and The Huffington Post.  There is - I am sure you know this by now - nothing wrong with this, except that they too often fail to display faith-based thinking, they are not Biblically-informed in their evaluation or discernment. They read widely, but often don't make intentional efforts to "think Christianly" about the wide reading they do.  That is, they are strong on relevance and engagement, but weak on distinctive holiness.

Both of these approaches presume a dualism, each drawn to either the sacred or the secular.  One tries to be discerningly holy but is not very engaged, one is engaged but not very discerningly holy.

I have said before that the "in the world but not of it" worldview that Kuyper's tradition taught us demands both.  Kuyper's own age was replete with church struggles on this very topic, with folks coming down heavily on either "common grace"  or "the  antithesis."  Kuyper himself may have emphasized one at one point or another.

Of course, we must be relevant and holy; holy and relevant. After all, true holiness in the Bible is supremely relevant (ahh, just read the prophets who rail against super-spiritual piety that fails to engage the need for justice as one example of how holiness devoid of justice is pseudo-holiness, false piety.)  True relevance, as many good authors have taught us - think ofunfash paper.jpg Tullian Tchividjan's Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different (Multnomah; $14.99) - must be shaped by faith and have something transcendent to offer.  What good is it to bend over backwards to engage the world, only to have nothing unique to share once we "build the bridge" and relate relevantly to the culture around us?  So this is a call to more than balance, but to a robust sort of "in but not of" holy relevance, a relevant sort of holiness.  Richard Mouw shaped me years ago in a wonderful, now out of print book, then published by Augsburg Fortress, entitled "Called to Holy Worldliness."  That's it!
 
(This would be another huge digression, and I hope to write about this another time, but you should realize, I guess, this this quick model of two extremes that are both inadequate -- world-denying evangelicals and culturally-captured mainline liberals -- draws on what might be considered caricatures, gleaned from the influential book Christ and Culture by H. Richard Niebuhr (Torchbooks; $15.99), who favored the "Christ transforming culture" model of the Reformed. Like many caricatures, though, it is based on much truth, truth that I see every single day in publishing -- wacky evangelical stuffbad religion.jpg that implies we dare not engage this real world without being terminally stained, or wacky liberal stuff from Westminster/John Knox, Fortress, or HarperOne, that denies core Christian teaching.  I think that the recent award winning book -- even commended by The Christian Century -- Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics by Russ Douthat (Free Press; $16.00 ) is important here.  In many ways, North American religion has adopted too unknowingly the ways  of the surrounding culture, and it has effected us profoundly.

But here is my relevant aside: there is a strange reversal afoot.  Some mainline  seminaries and publishers are much more orthodox than they used to be on things that matter most.  And some evangelicals are hardly recognizable as such.

renewing - lints.jpgThe best book on this latter part of the problem -- the selling out of contemporary evangelicals -- is seen in an amazing, powerful collection of pieces inspired by the work of David C. Wells, called Renewing the Evangelical Mission, edited by Richard Lints (Eerdmans; $34.00.) It has important pieces packed full of sociological criticism, theological pondering, church-related discernment, all wondering, in the legacy of the major work on this done by Wells, how to call those who claim to care most about the heart of the gospel, back to the heart of the gospel.  If read many of these essays, from Os Guinness, Miroslov Volf, J. I. Packer, Michael Horton, Kevin Vanhoozer, Cornelius Plantinga and more. ??It was bad enough when evangelicals could be categorized as disengaged but purist, culturally irrelevant, but clear about first things.  Alas, it seems they are increasingly like their older nemesis, mainline Protestants who were known for being high on relevance but not so good on orthodox  holiness. Many Catholics, Lutherans and Anglicans now seem best situated to stand for historic truths in relevant ways.  Anyway, Renewing the Evangelical Mission is an important volume for many of us, a good followup to Wells' many heart-felt, scholarly assessments of the state of faithfulness in our time.)

So, to recap this particular point: nearly all sectors of the Christian church in the West is confused and imbalanced regarding their stance to culture and the in/not of approach that demands holy relevance.

Kuyper taught us - to be holy in a truly Biblical way is to be engaged in the world; to be properly engaged in the world demands Biblical holiness.
Which authorizes us to read widely, but with discernment.  We learn the art of discernment, but not as a mystical spiritual practice to determine God's secret voice or as a punctilious legalistic practice to see what we are allowed to do in the world,. The art of prophetic spiritual imaginative discernment involved reading the signs of the times, understanding our place in history, caring about the issues of the day, in every zone of life, and being transformed in ways that help us embody wisely the coming reign of God, truly in but not really of the society around us.  We believe books can help us come up with counter-cultural practices for the common good.  We read widely, thinking and talking and enjoying the written words of fiction and nonfiction, always through Bible-shaped lenses, in community with others, who, as comrades in the struggle, want to honor God by being Christ's agents in and for the world.  We read with holy relevance, we become relevant and holy to serve God's purposes in the world.
 
WHO HELPS US LEARN TO READ FOR THE KINGDOM?
My fear is that many churches are not adequately helping people do this, thinking about cultural holiness, relating faith to vocation, or nurturing Christian reading habits to do all this.

Some pastors recommend books, some parishes have strong church libraries, some congregations seem to have an ethos of being life-long learners, bookish folks with reading groups and discerning conversations about big ideas. A few encourage lay people to serve God in their work-a-day worlds and encourage reading about Christian perspectives in their careers and callings.  I hear about such churches so I know they exist.  But I don't think there are many.


Most Christian traditions do affirm thinking faithfully about all of life, and many, in theory, at least, affirm reading widely in order to be equipped to serve distinctively in vocations in the world.

Two of the all-time most elegant passages about all of this come from the lovely, lovely firstpreaching-life.jpeg book of Barbara Brown Taylor, her autobiographical The Preaching Life (Cowley; $17.95.) I read these passages out loud sometimes, and folks are always moved.  She has a wonderful story of a pastor who mentioned her love for tadpoles in his sermon -- and helped her see "God's glossolalia" in the intricacies of nature, and God's Spirit at work in her own desire to learn, and to care for creation; this literally help move her to faith, realizing she was in this God-drenched world, and it is a beautiful part of her story.  The second section is about the vocation of lay people, and how their callings, like hers as an Episcopal priest, are sacramental in nature.  She lists off a handful of jobs and in a phrase notes how they might fulfill some profound human role. It's beautiful stuff.  I only wish more churches believed this, or talked about it some. 

Perhaps I was too harsh in saying evangelicals and liberals alike fail to equip the laity for "holy worldliness" and thinking intentionally about faith-shaped approaches to their vocations.  Maybe more do than I admit.  I know some buy books from us about these things, and it is always heartening. 

I know that the characterizations I've drawn are stark -- blame some of it on Niebuhr -- and I surely know (as I have said) that some congregations and pastoral leaders are trying to promote "holy relevance" within their own faith traditions. Just this spring we got to sell books at a fantastic "Jubilee for adults" (as I called it) with great talks by Christians who are professionals in politics, business, the arts, science, education, publishing, national security, and more.  And that was at a Church of God.)  So, more power to them!  May their tribe increase!
 
I recommend books by and about Kuyper, though, because it seems that it is the Kuyperian sort of neo-Calvinism that says all this stuff most intentionally, most overtly, and, in any case, has been the way into this vision for us.   Hearts & Minds is many things to many people, and those that know us know that we try to be fluent in various faith movements, denominations and spiritualities. We sell books at Lutheran Synods and UCC clergy convocations, with Episcopalian priests and at evangelical community churches.  We are mainline Presbyterian (USA), but many of our best  friends are PCA and/or EP. We are comfortable with mature expressions of charismatic renewal, and have always had connections with the monastic traditions of contemplative spirituality.  Neo-Calvinism as developed in the line of Kuyper has done much of the heavy lifting for us, though, getting us where we are, shaping us in ways that led us to do the work we do.  We hope you find it helpful (or at least interesting) to hear about this, and to learn about this school of thought and these rich resources that have developed from this generative tradition.

In other words, we hope you buy some of those Kuyper books. And hope you see the fingerprints of them on some of the books we promote.

OKAY, OKAY, WE GET IT...
Okay, okay, you may be thinking.   Culturally transforming, Kuyperian worldview thinking is the real neo-Calvinism, and that story invites us to seek God's ways "in but not of" the world.  It offers a robust, thick, sort of worldview that demands discernment and intellectual engagement, in every zone of life.  We get it.
 
You may continue: we even admit that other faith traditions haven't been quite as quick to publish books about the relationship of faith and the aesthetics,  evangelical creation care,  the philosophy of technology,  uniquely Biblical political theory, discerning work on the nature of popular culture.  Sure, others have done good work, especially in recent years, but the neo-Calvinist energy for thinking like this, for doing Christian higher education, for this whole  "call to holy worldliness" really has allowed them to do notable and influential Christian scholarship. We get it.

Some observers say that other Protestant faith traditions - Anabaptist, Wesleyan, Pentecostal, for instance - have redoubled their efforts to ask about the relationship of their own theological traditions and the doing of higher education and uniquely Christian scholarship because they are tired of the neo-Calvinist tradition getting all the publicity.  I can name a handful of books that say as much, thanking Kuyper's children for inspiring them to think through stuff from their own unique perspective.   Great!

But, yet, I do think that the tools of cultural discernment offered by the Christian philosophersroots of western.jpg that have stood in the Kuyperian branch of neo-Calvinism have been of extraordinary importance. The unique philosophical insights of, say, Herman Dooyeweerd, or those who took up his call to do wholistic philosophical work in the spirit of Christ,  informed by a healthy view of the story of Scripture, have been truly useful for various spheres of scholarship.
 
As I showed in my last post at BookNotes, I have my list of favorite books that are seminal and extraordinary in their fields (and I named a few.) And they are  each influenced by the Kuyperian worldview assumptions, which is, among other things, partially why they are  so insightful and wise and helpful for us as readers.

If you didn't read my review of Schuurman's Shaping a Digital World last week, I named four big things it does in the book, four of his "methods" or contributions that make him unique in his field.  It is clear that he does these as a Kuyperian, and it is his neo-Calvinist perspective that gives him these insights.  So, again, I say this to make a case that this tradition is vital, important, helpful, that it brings tools and gifts to the broader church and reading public that we should attend to.

Even if I'm partially right, you should be interested that this tradition has generated good fruit in recent years, contributed much to our common discourse, and shaping some of the best Christian books published (that are woefully under-recognized.)  You should dig a bit deeper into this school of thought and faith tradition.  It'll do ya good.

THE CHALLENGE OF CULTURAL DISCIPLESHIP BY RICHARD J. MOUW
And that is why I want to close this long reflection with a rave about one book that explores these themes with rigor, with clarity, with remarkable grace, and that I think would be the "next step" into studying things "in the line of Kuyper."  It is a book I've mentioned before, by a man I am increasingly realize is a genius, a notable scholar and an ecumenical leader who is incredibly well read, a gentleman of great stature, the President of Fuller Theological Seminary, (the world's most multi-ethnic seminary, by the way) Dr. Richard Mouw.
 
Dr. Mouw, as I said earlier, has a little book about his own discovery of Kuyper, and in that book he offers a short, basic introduction that is a lovely primer.  He ended up as a political philosopher at Calvin College in the 1970s when there were remarkable philosophers and other world-renowned scholars there, from Nicholas Woltersdorff to Evan Runner to Alvin Plantinga to Mark Noll.  Some of Mouw's vast knowledge of this robust strain of Dutch Calvinist thinking was deepened in his years of constant dialogue with some of the sharpest evangelical minds of the 20th century.

Tchallenges of cultural discipleship.jpghe Challenge of Cultural Discipleship: Essays in the Line of Abraham Kuyper by Richard Mouw (Eerdmans; $20.00) collects some of his scholarly work in this field and serves as a fantastic study on the history and legacy and relevance of the neo-Calvinist movement

"In the line of Kuyper" is, as he explains, a Dutch expression, meaning in the heritage of, or in the same stream of thought as. Mouw is not slavishly committed to Kuyper's every jot and tittle, not at all. But he is in his tradition, in his line.  I like that.

Perhaps rather than merely tell you how much I learned from it, how very interesting it is, and how Dr. Mouw has this amazing ability to make often quite complex matters very clear, I will just list a few of the chapter titles.  Please know that he ruminates and reflects even as he explains and teaches.  Some of these papers or articles were once published in other books, and others were talks or lectures that he has given (including a spectacular one which was given at Princeton Seminary as the lecture given at the prestigious Kuyper Awards.)  That one long chapter from the Princeton lecture alone is worth the price of admission -- I have read it twice and will revisit it again, I'm sure.

Mouw is most able to frame various views by how they are or are not important, what they offer that is valuable, and how they do or don't stand up to other,  similar propositions or views. Anyone who likes pondering important theological truths or this visionary view of orthodox reformational cultural engagement will find buying this to be money very well spent.  I wish more of us knew this stuff, that we were conversant in these ideas, names, notions.  Mouw himself is a national treasure, and this book is itself a jewel of a gift.  I highly recommend it.

Here are a few of the chapter titles.

 These are my own favorites, and I hope you don't think they are too daunting.  (Even the one on the notoriously complex Herman Dooyeweerd is accessible and quite helpful.)  For those wanting to deepen their insights into this generative tradition, or who wants refreshed in the old reformational movement, this book is a treasure chest, overflowing with good sentences, great ideas, and much, much, important learning.  

  • Calvin's Legacy for Public Theology
  • Culture, Church, and Civil Society: Abraham Kuyper for a New Century
  • Some Reflections on Sphere Sovereignty
  • Modal Diversity in Dooyeweerd's Social Thought
  • Law, Covenant, and Moral Commonalities: Some Neo-Calvinist Explorations
  • Creational Politics: Some Calvinist Amendments
  • Klaas Schilder as a Public Theologian

And there are more chapters in Challenges of... viz, a chapter about Dutch theological splits in which Kuyper played a role, a keep piece on infant baptism which is amazing, an important one about the nature of the modern seminary (and if it to be placed at and under the authority of the academy or the church, a matter of great consternation to Kuyper.) A few of these document "intra-Reformed" church discussions, and may be of lesser interest to those interested in neo-Calvinist public theology. 

Anything by Rich Mouw is worth reading, though, and I commend his calm and reasonable style and his broad, informed knowledge of the subject to anyone who likes to learn, who loves good, intelligent discourse, and who wants to learn more about the Reformed faith lived out in contemporary social life. The Challenges of Cultural Discipleship is so carefully written, so learned and covers so much that I think it should be read by serious faith-based social thinkers, whether they want to be in the line of Kuyper or not. It is that important, or at least most of it is.
 
Here is a very short excerpt of one of the chapters from the Eerdmans webpage.  I like this part, a story Mouw has told before, about the different instincts and phrases to describe things shared between he and his friend John Howard Yoder, the Mennonite scholar.  "Created, but fallen," is how Yoder once described Mouw's Reformed view.  "Created, but fallen," is how Yoder preferred to put it.   This is a great little expert. Check it out.  And then order the book at our 20% off Hearts & Minds discount.


A FREE KUYPER BOOK (almost.)
Well, you've made it to the end of my overly wordy, admittedly repetitive rant.  Maybe I wrote this as much for myself as for our readers. a reminder of my story, and what books I find to be most basic, foundational. I appreciate your reading along over my shoulder, as this may help clarify your own story, too.

If you've read this far, we'll reward you.
 
Clicking HERE takes you over to our Hearts & Minds website order form page and we willProblem_Poverty.jpg send to you, for free, an important book written by Abraham Kuyper, a book that is considered by some a true classic,  The Problem With Poverty edited by James Skillen (Baker.) All you have to do is type in that you want it, and be willing to pay $5 shipping.

This book's message was orginally offered as an address at the first Christian Social Congress in The Netherlands on November 9th 1891. It was then, I believe, published as Christianity and the Class Struggle. This short but heady book showed -- I love this stuff! -- how a uniquely Christian and mature Reformed view ought to be, frankly, different than what we today might call the right or the left. Kuyper clearly calls us to great concern about poverty and offers astute insight into the nature of industrial-age problems, the dignity of workers and such.  But he is critical of standard formulations of free market capitalism, even as he is very hard on Marxist views.

Conservatives might be struck by how much he sounds like a "peace and justice" advocate today, using the Bible to remind us of God's great concern for the poor and for public righteousness.  Liberals, though, might be challenged as he exposes some weaknesses  of a society that relies on the State perhaps more than it should.  That is, he forges a creative "third way" between the standard options!  He isn't exactly what today we would call in the US a Republican and he isn't what we'd call a Democrat.  Oh, my, if we had more who thought like this today!

This grand speech was given about the time of the famous Catholic Rerum Novarum by Pope Leo XIII and may stand with that as one of the best, most thoughtful and powerful declarations of Christian social policy of that era.

Our friends at the Center for Public Justice reprinted it several years ago in a fresh translation and through the generosity of Jim Skillen, their former executive director, made some available to us.  We are happy to send them out for free.

Here's the thing, again: shipping would cost us about $5.  We'll send this important book at no charge if you pay the shipping. I wish we could afford to do the shipping gratis, but it might add up, and you know we're not quite able to do that. 

Of course, we can add it in for free the next time you place an order.

If you want two, we have plenty.  Just ask. (No extra shipping charge for two, either.)
 
When you go to our order form page, as always, you just have to type in what you want. If you type in The Problem of Poverty and we know to send it at no charge.  The page is certified secure so you can put your cc in and we will just charge you the $5 for the media mail shipping.

This offer for a free book is good until June 30 2013
-while supplies last-


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plus we send the free copy of
The Problem of Poverty

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June 10, 2013

10 Books for Father's Day -- or any day! 20% off

77 .png Men and the Secret of Their Greatness  Eric Metaxas (Nelson) regularly $24.95

Special Sale Price only $18.99 - this week only. Offer expires June 15, 2013. 

One could hardly select a more perfect book to give as a Father's Day gift. This is sturdy, well- designed hardback, written by a lively, respected writer, about being a great man. It is inspiring, interesting, and quite informative about great stuff from various eras of mostly modern history.  Many women will enjoy this, too, but it is a book about men, their secrets of success which is, finally, not about being successful, but rather about being committed to the harder path of being faithful, wise, good. In another author's hands, these stories could be overly moralistic, all about charming virtue, but not all that interesting or profound or captivating.  Instead, Metaxas gives us stunning portraits, gritty examples of authentic, real-world heroes, living in the complexities of real history.   I think this is a great book.

Some were not what one might call traditionally Christian (George Washington) while others were renowned for their socially engaged, evangelical faith, such as we see in the excellent chapter on William Wilberforce.  Some were once scoundrels (the Chuck Colson chapter really is a great read; like him or not, it is a splendid testimony of God's remarkable grace and Colson's radical discipleship.)  There are two sports figures included, and both have stories layered with pathos and profundity and Metaxas does them justice: Jackie Robinson and Olympic runner Eric Liddell.  (Interestingly, both had movies made about them, too.)  Pope John Paul II is here, as is Dietrich Bonheoffer, described in a marvelously succinct re-telling of Metaxas' popular, thick Bonheoffer bio.  What's not to like?  This is a great choice and we are happy to promote it at an extra discounted price this week.

You know we have promoted Metaxas' several other books, that we enjoy his style, and appreciate his scholarly chops, always delivered with a light, playful touch.  He's a great figure in today's religious publishing and we like him a lot.

Os Guinness says of 7 Men

This is a book to read, to read aloud to others, and then to read again. In a day when children are growing up stunted because of our of empty-headed celebrities and contemptible villains, true heroism and manliness need special nourishment. Eric Metaxas has done it again, and again we are in his debt.


Rroad trip to redemption.jpgoad Trip to Redemption Brad Mathias (Tyndale Momentum) $14.99  This book is amazing, pretty well written, passionate, raw.  The author admits to being so seriously involved in his work that he terribly fouled up his marriage.  Further, he had an affair, and ended up living separated, in another state from his wife and children.  God spoke to him in a pretty dramatic way and, long story short, he profoundly repents, returns to regain his wife's trust, and through a miracle of God's grace, is reunited.  But that is merely the backstory, told in the opening chapters.  Later, Mathias finds that he is growing distant from his teen kids -- one maybe never forgave him from his earlier failings -- so he and his wife and kids do a long road trip across the country. 

This book narrates this heart-stirring, hair-raising trip and although it is firstly a great USA road narrative -- part Jack Kerouac with a touch of the hapless Griswalds maybe -- it is also about rebuilding family trust, about dads and daughters, a dad and his son, a husband and wife.  Mathias was desperate to get everything right after his return to his family, lost control, and then, through this risky, wild journey, sees the country and gets a new perspective on his kids, and learns a lot about parenting.  There are some suggestions at the end, too, if you want to try such a journey.  Most of us won't, but for some reason, the advice is still helpful to read.  And the story itself is a blast -- very fun, poignant, and inspiring.  Been through hard times?  Been on road trips with your fam?  This book brings it all together, with (yep) vacation pictures.  Ha.  This is a fine, fun book and I think will help many who may not read a more traditional parenting book.

Mmanhood restored.jpganhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole  Eric Mason (Broadman & Holman) $14.99  Eric has spoken (which is a mild world for his passionate, loud, edgy, preachin) on the main stage at the Jubilee conference in Pittsburgh a few times and he's brought the house down. His hip-hop style is powerful, and particularly interesting to many young men these days, black and white.  Eric is the founder and pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in inner city Philly, and is a strong, theologically serious presence in urban ministry there.  Matt Chandler says this book is "bold, fearless, Scripture saturated."  Tony Evans says "This fine work by one of my sons in the ministry does a masterful job of unearthing the biblical teaching of the Creator's intent in creating men."  This new book is arranged in three parts - the scope of manhood, the problems in manhood, and, thirdly, the redemption of manhood.  There is theological depth, here, the footnotes include lotseric mason red tie.jpg of Greek or Hebrew words, referencing study tools of the Bible student.  

There are some references to the African American church tradition, but it is not necessarily a book for African American men, although I trust black men will especially appreciate it. (Epiphany is a mixed race, urban church.)  Manhood Restored is for anybody who wants an energetic, well-informed, straightforward, intense, traditionalist view of men, manhood, fathering, and how the gospel alone can make it all happen as it should.  Very solid by a guy I am sure is going to have other books in years to come. Right on.

Sstations of the heart.jpgtations of the Heart: Parting with a Son  Richard Lischer (Alfred Knopf)  $25.00  It is notable that a Lutheran clergyman, Duke Divinity school theologian and professor and classy writer is published by one of the most prestigious publishers in the land. But it isn't surprising, really -- perhaps you know his exquisite book on preaching, The End of Words, or have seen him in the Christian Century. He's a splendid wordsmith and sage thinker. It is more notable, I think, that such a public figure would bare his soul with such candor, sharing an intimate memoir about the death of his adult son.  Some have called this poignant love story "at once funny, heartbreaking and hopeful."  There is much wit; it is well written; although emotionally-riveting, it "probes the heart without sentimentality or self-pity." For those who appreciate literary memoir and subtle, mature views of faith, this is may become an enduring classic in the genre.

Here is a sample paragraph from it:

He was so young and inexperienced he thought he had discovered a new way to die. All my wife and I could do was keep him company and follow him on what he somewhat dramatically called his "new path."  His new way, which was actually a very old way, carried him beyond the starts to the very origins of his universes and to the source of everything he loved. We traveled the path with him, but at a respectful distance behind him, learning from him and trusting him to show us the way. The last leg of his trip took him exactly ninety-five days.  We never imagined how much grace would be required for so brief a journey. Now we rely on it every day.

I suppose a book about grief and a couple losing an adult son is not the standard Father's Day fare, and it may not be suitable for many families.  But I have this hunch that it will be a thoughtful blessing to somebody.  It is well-written, moving, often very sad, and very, very good.

Ggod on the rocks.jpgod on the Rocks: Distilling Religion, Savoring Faith  Phil Madeira (Jericho Books) $24.00  This brand new book is very creatively written, more or less a life story of a former Baptist boy, Christian rock star, esteemed studio musician and Americana guitar man. Currently in Emmy Lou Harris' band, Madeira has played with everybody from Phil Keaggy to Elvis Costello, from edgy Christian hipsters like The Choir to top-shelf bluegrass stars like Alison Krauss.  But this book is not just the story of a storytellin' Nashville staple, although he does dish a bit about some fellow performing artists, but it is the record of the journey of faith of a thoughtful, honest, and often funny, doubting Thomas.  As the great Episcopal novelist and memoirist Ian Morgan Cron says of it, "If you're a cage-pacing, God- haunted pilgrim like mphil m.jpge, then this deftly penned collection of stories will deeply move you. Madeira's voice is gritty and tender, broody and vulnerable, unwaveringly honest, yet compassionate. I'm supremely grateful for this heartfelt travelogue of faith." 



Perhaps you know the CD (which we carry, natch) Mercyland: Hymns for the Restmercyland.jpg of Us that Maidera pulled together -- it has songs from The Civil Wars, The North Mississippi All-Stars, the Carolina Chocolate Drops to Emmy Lou to Matt Kearney to Buddy and Julie Miller.  It is firmly grounded in the Americana roots sound and replete with Southern faith traditions, layered with questioning, social criticism, honesty, and a pinch of righteous anger; think Flannery O'Connor, maybe.  It's a really fine album, and in many ways is the perfect soundtrack for this fascinating and creatively written set of reflections on Maidera's faith and family, experiences of church, somewhat changing understandings of God and the call to justice, hope, beauty...

I agree with Amy Grant who writes of her friend "Thank God for a storyteller like Phil Madeira, who delivers a feast for the ears, and for the mind..." God on the Rocks is a very cool book that will take you on your path of discovery, hearing some great stories -- like most good storytelling traditions, you almost wonder if some of this is really true! -- and the (slightly irreverent) pondering of great mysteries. He doesn't have the faith thing all sewn up, and God is too big to fit simply in his back pocket.  Do you know somebody who needs a book like this?

Tgod of the mundane.jpghe God of the Mundane: Reflections on Ordinary Life for Ordinary People  Matthew B .Redmond (Kalos Press) $12.95  First, you should notice that this is the same publishing house as the The Exact Place, the wonderful 2012 memoir by our friend Margie Haack, of Ransom Fellowship.  This publisher delights in finding good writers, solid Christians who do literary work that, in some ways, defies categories.  In this case, this is a memoir-like set of meditations on practicing the presence of God, a manifesto about honoring all people in all careers or jobs, and a bit of a reminder that God doesn't always expect us to be remarkable.  Can we find joy and meaning in truly ordinary stuff? Can we take - as the funny old fashioned carnivalesque poster cover design shouts - "A Breath-Taking Escape from the Fantastical?" (That's great irony, eh?) Yeah, when they say "Ladies and Gentleman, we are pleased to present..." Matt Redmond in "His First Appearance in Decades" as "Your Host and Guide" you know it is going to be clever.  This guy boasting about not doing too much, becomes, in some sort of subversive way, a great celebration of God's great gospel; it is a book about grace, about being "good enough" in an age when it seems even among Christians who ought to know better, we want the sensational and something to prove our worth.  So, this wise rumination of an ordinary Christian life teaches that we need not be remarkable.  This book is about real, small-town pastors and plumbers and common folk who eat chicken fingers and stay home watching movies.  It is about the God of the ordinary, the commonplace. The quotidian.

And it is brief.  The medium really is the message, man.  A simple book on a simple theme, that is, though, very well written.  Enjoy!

Hhappy.jpgappy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander  Phil Robertson (Howard Books) $24.99 Have you see the A&E Duck Dynasty show yet? What a hoot - it is smart, funny, snarky, red-neck as can be, and yet gently Christian and pretty solidly moral.  I had no idea how addicting this is, and can't wait to read the new book about it all.  I don't care if you live in sophisticated New York City, slick LA or inner city Chi-town. This is crazy fun.  Give your dad this ticket to rural Louisiana.  Reading about it, though, thank goodness, means you don't have to deal with the snakes and mud.  An easy, upbeat, inspirational read.


Bbiking across.jpgiking Across America My Coast-to-Coast Adventure and the People I Met Along the Way Paul Stutzman (Revell) $12.99 The first book this guy wrote was a big seller, and very well loved. People would come back and buy extras to give away. Hiking Through was his account of hiking the Appalachian Trail as he coped with the grief of his deceased wife.  This one allows the author to see other parts of the country, meet more people, and tell a similar story of travel, faith, all sorts of hi-jinx and trouble, and a good bit of happy adventure. He goes from the coast of Washington State to the Florida Keys!  This is a very nice book, ideal for bikers, fans of travelogues, and anyone who likes neat stories about ordinary folks all across America.

Tthe civil war in 50.jpghe Civil War in 50 Objects Harold Halzer (Viking) $36.00  This is a bit of a neat fad, these days, and a good one, I think, using this clever device to explore history.  In this case, the author, with help from historians at the New-York Historical Society, choose ordinary artifacts -- slave shackles intended for a child, circa 1800, John Brown's pike, several different flags, odd uniforms, a snare drum, a diary, letters, battlefield sketches, official paintings, a footlocker, the first Dixie Reader, newspaper announcements, a sprig from Lincoln's Bier, and so much more -- and arrange their telling of the war and its consequences by way of teaching about these items.  This is unlike any Civil War book you've seen, and may be a great gift for the guy who has it all. The New-York Historical Society, by the way, was founded in 1804 and is still operative today.  This is a very handsome book, a real keeper.

Mmossy.jpgossy Oak Trail Guide: Featuring Devotions from The Message: Solo  (NavPress) $19.99 This is a camo covered, slim devotional is ideal for hunters or outdoorsman.  It includes some true stories of hunting and wilderness survival, has some outdoor survival conditions info, practical pointers even for tracking and dressing game. Best, the devotions are better than most in this genre --The Message Solo was devised with a "read/think/pray" process by Eugene Peterson -- and has been for us a beset-selling devo (in a larger paperback edition) for years. This fuzzy-covered trail edition is pretty cool for guys that hunt or camp. Comes with a bright orange wrap-around paper sleeve  -- hunter orange, get it? Yeah.

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which is offered at the deeper discounted sale price of $18.99.

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June 12, 2013

More Father's Day suggestions -- lesser known choices for Father's Day and Beyond

A friend oh so gently chided me, maybe in jest, for the Father's Day list from a few days ago.  It was a good list, I think, with a rather curious mix of titles.  7 Great Men by Eric Metaxas (Nelson) itself carries some very good writing about some very important men -- from  William Wilberforce to Jackie Robinson to Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  So we remain confident that many of our readers liked the list.  Thanks for those who send us some orders -- glad to be of service to you.

But my friend's insinuation was that, well, it did play up to some fairly standard themes -- road trips, being a good dad, being a great man, a hunter's/camper's devotional, a Civil War book.  Obvious.  Good, but obvious.

So here are some other titles I might have listed, grabbed quickly to remind you that here at Hearts & Minds we enjoy suggesting things that you may not have heard of, or may not have considered.  Betcha didn't see these suggested at the Christian bookstore down the street.  Or at the big box store, either. 

Ffamilies living in the fabric.jpgamilies Living in the Fabric of Faithfulness: Parents and Children Describe What Works  Gloria Stronks and Julie Stronks (Outskirts Press) $18.95 Despite the bland cover, this is a book that I am confident will stretch you, make you think, invite you to deeper conversations, and will help you develop a worldview that is sufficient for the changing times and complex cultural crisis of the coming years.  The allusion in the title to Steve Garber's serious, must-read study (you've heard us mention it here often) The Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Believe and Behavior (IVP; $17.00) is intentional.  It is a book taking Garber's book and applying it to parenting. Stronks and Stronks have taught Garber's book for years; they are educators and philosophizing moms, they are home-makers with a profound vision of how to struggle to raise families of compassion and service. They live the upside-down values of the ways of Jesus, in and for the world.

Ahh, but just how does one do that? How does one live what one claims to believe, how doesfabric of f.jpg one nurture sustainable, life-long faith, lived without cynicism, but with hope and vitality?

They take Garber's 3-part thesis, and his elegantly told research, and his major points of cultural discernment and apply that work to parenting, teaching, home-making.  This book examine the way different Christians try to parent and raise families in keeping with their most profound believes, and what kind of "integration" of their faith story and their parenting they've experienced.

As they say on the back cover "this book captures moments in time as we live ina world that has been redeemed but not fully reconciled to God.  It captures our hopes, our beliefs, our struggles. And, it lets us learn not only from scholars, but from each other."

If you've read Steve Garber's Fabric of Faithfulness, you need to read this interesting, practical follow-up.  If you haven't read Garber, but you like parenting books, do consider reading this.  You will then want to turn to his remarkable book, and dig in deep.  Kudos to Whitworth University in Spokane who helped fund the Stronks mother and daughter team and their own unique research, inspired by Garber.

Kkingdom-family-re-envisioning-gods-plan-for-marriage-trevecca-okholm-paperback-cover-art.jpgingdom Family: Re-Envisioning God's Plan for Marriage and Family  Trevecca Okholm (Cascade Books) $22.00  There are a lot of books by professional Christian educators and church school instructors, but it seems to me that most books on marriage and family are  not written by those who do ministry with children.  This woman has served for decades, currently at St. Andrew's Presbyterian (USA) Church in Newport Beach.  With an MA in Educational Ministries from Wheaton Graduate School, she knows what she's doing.  Her book should be better known among us. 

What sets this apart and makes me list it here, is, well, this Kingdom vision that permeates the book.  There is a lot of talk these days about being missional, or Kingdom-focused and we use that language ourselves, here.  Have for years.  But most books about upholding the family or inspiring parents are less than wholistic, not framed by Kingdom language, and fail to connect God's redemptive work in the world with the intimacies of our daily lives in homes.  Or it takes for granted, as this book does not, the legitimacy of the consumerist culture in which we live. As S. Steve Kang (who has written well on inter-generational teaching in the church) writers, "Okholm invites readers to re-envision -- namely, to reflect, remember, recommit, and rehearse -- the life of God's Kingdom."  The world needs Kingdom people, and God's reign a-coming needs Kingdom families. This invitation to a better way is very, very good.

Sspirited men.jpgpirited Men: Story, Soul, & Substance  Brian Doyle (Cowley) $14.95  We only have a few of these left (it has gone out of print) but wanted to highlight it as it is so very interesting and, admittedly, a bit unusual. You may know Doyle as a fabulous Catholic writer, poet, storyteller, teacher.  He is the editor of the esteemed Portland Magazine.  There are endorsements on the back from poet Mary Oliver and the novelist David James Duncan, which gives you a huge clue to its caliber.  Here, Father Doyle ruminates in colorful prose about interesting soul men -- from Van Morrison to Robert Louis Stevenson. What other book about men has a chapter on Plutarch of Greece (or William Blake or James Joyce?) Yep, many of these guys are shaped by their lives in the British Isles.  But there is an Australian, an American jazz man (Paul Desmond) and an American children's author. Many you have heard of and a few you haven't. Boyle suggests that he is offering "resurrections, restoration, reconsiderations, appreciations, enthusiasm, head-long solos, laughing prayers, imaginary meetings with most unusual and interesting men."  Wow.

C
cultivating reality.jpgultivating Reality: How the Soil Might Save Us  Regan Sutterfield (Cascade Books) $16.00 I don't know if listing this here, now, traffics in gender stereotypes (I'm currently reading a social history of farm women in Iowa!) But for anyone who cares about land, farming, the agrarian vision, or who just likes getting one's hands dirty, this is an amazing, perhaps one-of-a-kind book.  As Fred Bahson writes of it, "Like tenacious alfalfa roots, which reach deep into the ground and transfer essential nutrients to the soil's surface, Ragan Sutterfield digs deep into the subsoil of agrarian thought, Christian faith, and his own experience as a farmer, and brings up life-giving nourishment for all to share."  What a graceful and creatively done work, ruminating on land and place and the agrarian worldview of farming, food, and faith.



Ggreen leaves for later.jpgreen Leaves for Later Years: The Spiritual Path of Wisdom  Emilie Griffin (IVP) $15.00  For those whose dads are getting up in years, and who are willing to read a book on contemplative spirituality by an older woman, this book is truly wonderful. She is a fantastic writer, has been writing about our interior lives for decades (and works still with Richard Foster's Renovare ministry.) She has written about the workplace (she served in a corporate job in New York) and she has written about aging.  But she is most know as an eloquent teacher and fine writer about prayer.  This spiritual path of wisdom is for men or women, the aged, or those who plan to be.  Ha.  What a great little gem of a book.  Her friend poet Luci Shaw writes "Emilie Griffin writes grittily, wittily, and transparently. For Emilie, pain and transcendence live in the same body... A story of amazing grace and faithfulness."
 


lamentations of the father.gifLamentations of the Father Ian Frazier (WJK) $10.95  I almost forgot about this -- we had so much fun with it years ago.  It is a small, comic, gift book, designed for dads with small children.  It is written to children as if by an Old Testament prophet, or maybe as if from Leviticus.

For instance,

Cast your countenance upward to the light, lift  your eyes to the hills, that I may more easily wash you off.  For the stains are upon you; even to the back  of your head, there is rice, thereon. 
This is how he starts a long diatribe about the complicate, but gracious, rules of getting desert.

For we judge between the plate that is  unclean and the plate that is clear, saying, first, if the plate is clean, then you shall have dessert. But of the unclean plate,  the laws are these:..
Or, a personal favorite,

And though your stick of carrot does indeed resemble a marker, draw not with it upon the table, even in pretend, for we do not do that, that is why.
Thou shalt howl with delight, thou wilt, and you will want to read it out loud to other irreverent parents.  The great illustrations by Bruce Zick are fun, too. We have this edition, while supplies last. The pieces found here are also found in a larger collection of essays by the author, without the illustrations.


Uunder constr.jpgnder Construction: Reframing Men's Spirituality  Gareth Brandt (Herald Press) $13.99  Let it to the Mennonite's to offer a profound, wonderful book that deconstructs the macho, pseudo-military, kick-butt, worldly vibe of many current evangelical men's books. I have reviewed this before, and it celebrated it as a mature, wise, careful, nuanced, and good study of men's ministry, pondering a truly Christ-like vision of masculinity. There is a foreword by the wonderful spiritual director and pastor Arthur Paul Boers.  There are candid stories, it is disarming (in more ways than one.) I appreciate his rejection of the warrior imagery as a main metaphor for Christian men.  He is a dreamer. He is a real man. He is a solid Christian.  He's given us, here, one of the more important studies in the field.  Really, really nice.




Ffrom the belly of the whale.jpgrom the Belly of the Whale: Poems of the Male Soul N. Thomas Johnson-Medland (Resource Publications) $17.00  Tom is an ordained United Methodist clergyman, has been a camp director, a garden-to-table chef, and now is CEO of a prominent hospice ministry. He is also a great writer and poet.  There are some good poems here about hiking, including a whole section called "Yosemite at Fifty: The John Muir Poems" which are very nice.

As his Franscian friend and popular men's author Richard Rohr writes, "Men are rediscovering poettry if it speaks to their honest experience, people are rediscovering poetry when it is accessible and evocative. Well, here it is -- for your discovery and enlightenment!"





W
weakness.jpgeakness is the Way: Life With Christ Our Strength  J. I. Packer (Crossway) $14.99  This is a small, compact hardback, sans dust-jacket, making it a cool-looking little gift. It is also a truly stunning work, a powerful remind of gospel-centered truth.  Christ is our strength.  We can embrace our frailties -- whether one is wracked with pain, wracked with anxiety, or facing the common ailments of aging. Most of us try desperately to be sufficient on our own, and we resent our limitations and our needs.  Packer (who you should know is a very popular, thoughtful, Reformed theologian and gracious Bible teacher) was hit by a truck as a young man and is of course himself facing now his own older years and he is candid about that. Drawn from 2 Corinthians.  Watch this brief, but very moving,YouTube video of Packer talking about the book, here.


L
like dew your youth.jpgike Dew Your Youth: Growing Up with Your Teenager Eugene Peterson (Eerdmans) $16.00 Holy moly, did you know that Peterson had a parenting book? Written early in the career of the careful, slow, mature theologian and spiritual author, it is nonetheless nearly timeless.  Granted, there isn't anything in it about facebook or social networking with kids, but his wisdom is enduring and profound, his writing eloquent.  He claims that adolescence is a gift from God to the parent of middle-age."  This is not your most typical book of can-do parenting advice but it is sage and solid.

Peterson is one of those authors that I think we should read anything he writes.  I'm glad this is still in print, and we commend it, for Father's Day or for anyone who cares about teens.






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                   Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street  Dallastown, PA  17313     717-246-3333
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June 19, 2013

13 Books for Mainline Protestants, or Anyone -- 20% OFF

A COLUMN AND A FREE BOOK
Back before my two Father's Day posts, I did a long piece that you may not have seen.  It waschallenges of cultural discipleship.jpg a heart-felt cry but too long to share here at BookNotes so I posted it as a "column" at the website, where I publish longer pieces and bigger lists.  I hope you read that ramble through reformational distinctives, some of the problems with the too-narrowly focused (so-called) new Calvinists, and why many churches - mainline denominational and indie evangelical alike -- despite their best theological instincts, sometimes fail to offer a rigorous, embodied, practical "in the world but not of it" sort of perspective for faithful cultural engagement.

I ended the essay by describing (among others) a serious book published by Eerdmans written by Richard Mouw called The Challenges of Cultural Discipleship and I offered a free book, too.  Check it out, here. 

Everybody talks about vocation these days, but there is still only meager interest in books that invite intentionally theological thinking about how to relate faith and work, and few churches do all that much to equip lay people to life faithfully in their various spheres of life.  Public theological, cultural engagement, living out a vision of vocation - these are hot topics, but not as much is actually happening, I fear.  We are still too embedded in a narrative that divides the sacred and the secular; we still fail to connect worship and work, Sunday and Monday, we still don't fully appreciate the implications of the gospel of the Kingdom of God.  Anyway, that column and the books I name there was more of my lamenting all of this, and, again, reflecting on how we came to this vision, and why we offer the resources we do. Of course, as I've said before, it was Kuyper's reformational worldview that caused us to want arrange our store with these kinds of interests in mind.

We are glad you care, and share these concerns.

WAS I TOO HARSH?
I may have been a bit harsh, especially regarding my own mainline Protestant heritage. I know that the culturally-transforming worldview of Dutch neo-Calvinist Abraham Kuyper isn't known in most mainline churches and even his late 20th century popularizer Francis Schaeffer isn't known, let alone valued and studied. So as I write about this stuff, I feel a bit weird, marginalized, cryptic, even.  I suppose I realize why more traditional Christian bookstores are more successful. I didn't mean to be sound grumpy. But I am frustrated when church leaders don't help people relate faith and daily life and professional callings, or draw upon the resources that best promote that kind of integration and engagement. We know you share these concerns, longing for communities of faith that read and study, learning to apply faith to work and culture and all areas of life.

It is obvious that many mainline leaders and their flocks are good, good people of profound faith who desire nothing more than to bear witness to the power of the gospel. We attend a mainline church, as you know. The evangelical world has more celebrities and ministries known in the media, and evangelical publishers are doing the most lively books these days.  Granted. But we see many signs of life in ordinary, mainline churches.

I still appreciate the book Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Churchchristianity for the rest of us.gif is Transforming the Faith (HarperOne; $14.99) by my friend Diana Butler Bass. Whether you are firmly situated in a ordinary, traditional congregation, or a hipster new church plant, or a conservative-leaning community or mega-church, seeing the practices she holds up and reading the stories of smaller, faithful churches doing good Kingdom work is helpful.  This book was hugely popular a few years ago and I think remains a classic in the field.   

I started writing some of this while selling books with good friends who are clergy within the UCC.  What a great time we had with them. (And they bought a lot of books, too, including Diana's more recent book Christianity After Religion: The End of the Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening (HarperOne; $14.99.) They didn't need me to tell them what a good writer she is and how fascinating this thesis and research is.  They are eager to push envelopes where needed, and I admire their book buying gusto!

And then I wrote more while Beth and I were selling books at a large local Lutheran Synod gathering while they were prayerfully voting for a new Bishop.  I actually know a few of the candidates whose names had been lifted up and I know they are wonderful Christian leaders, who serve the church with energy and insight. 

We regularly experience similar congeniality among our good friends - very good friends! - in United Methodist, Presbyterian, Brethren, Moravian, Episcopalian, Anglican, and other denominations where we have served.  Many BookNotes readers are involved in independent, conservative or evangelical churches, but we know there are lots of mainline Protestant and some Catholic fans, too. For this we are grateful.

After my long-winded jeremiad over at the columns, I thought I should do a more typical H&M list.  I'll try to be succinct.
 
Here are 12 books among the thousands we took to the Susquehanna Synod Lutheran assembly (not to mention a healthy display of books by and about Luther.) These recommendations illustrate what mainline Protestants are interested in, what sells at events like this, and the sorts of titles and topics we notice people chatting about.
 
As we did at Synod, we show the regular retail prices, but have the 20% off discount deal going on.  Click on the order form link at the end which will take you to our certified secure website page, and just tell us what you want.  We'll take it from there, sending these out promptly to you or your church.  Enjoy this list, generated at a mainline church gathering, interesting books for typical mainline pastors and church leaders. Maybe you could call this a top list of things these churches do well.  Good stuff, for sure!

Ffinding god in a bag.jpginding God in a Bag of Groceries: Sharing Food, Discovering Grace Laura Lapins Willis (Abingdon) $15.99  Leave it to a major mainline publisher to have an endorsement by Desmond Tutu, Franciscan guru Richard Rohr and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and journalist Jon Meacham. This is a great example of what mainline churches have done well for generations - motivated people who, without much hoopla, get in their cars and deliver food to others. (Both Beth and I grew up knowing our parents were involved in the service called "Meals on Wheels." This memoir tells of a woman who considered becoming a priest, got involved in a small food pantry, and came to realize how this ministry of offering food to others transformed her own soul. Don't we all hunger, for God and sustenance, for community and justice and love? This is a great story by a good writer and experienced community organizer.  I'm glad for the social service witness of our friends here in the display hall, where more than half of the booths are great examples of concrete service and advocacy on behalf of "the least of these."
 
TWelcomingCongregation.jpghe Welcoming Congregation: Roots and Fruits of Christian Hospitality  Henry G. Brinton (Westminster/John Knox) $17.00  Mainline churches are all abuzz talking about hospitality, inclusion, graciousness.  They are right about this, of course, that we are called to offer graceful welcome to all.  There have been many writing on this lately, good studies, and this one is in their debt (that is, it is theologically rich and astute.)  This is designed as a congregational study, a reflection on faithful practice of churches that build community and what comes of it all. Good reflection questions at the end of each chapter. This is a great read for anyone, and certain will offer guidance for those wanting to achieve greater openness and diversity.  The author is senior pastor of Fairfax Presbyterian Church in Fairfax VA.



Sscattering seeds.jpgcattering Seeds: Cultivating Church Vitality  Steven Chapin Garner and Jerry Thornell (Alban Institute) $17.00  This is a recent book published by the Alban Institute, a publisher that does many research-based, best-practices sorts of books for mainline church leaders.  We take almost everything they do to these events, squeezing them all in.  So  many are useful, on church vitality, on leadership, on conflict or congregational systems, or congregational redevelopment and so much more.
 
This book is a fine example of much that we like about the mainline churches -- the congregation seems balanced, politically progressive, deeply interested in the gospel and the leading of the Holy Spirit. I've read their other books, and this is full of stories and ideas.

Listen to what UCC pastor Martin Copenhaver writes:

The religious landscape of our country today is a picture of general decline, but with pockets of vitality -- dynamic congregations energized by the Holy Spirit in ways that are inspiring and instructive. They play the role the abbeys played during the Dark Ages, preserving the tradition and building upon it. Chapin Garner and Jerry Thornell serve just such a faith community. There is so much we can learn from him and from the congregation they lead. 

A
unhurriedlife_sm.jpgn Unhurried Life: Following Jesus' Rhythms of Work and Rest  Alan Fadling (IVP) $15.00  Mainline churches, like most people of faith these days, are interested in questions of spiritual formation, and know that principles of Sabbath are key to Biblical renewal.  Doesn't the cover of this book speak volumes - the go, go, go of the speedboat with much noise and splash in its wake, and the slower, quiet, but somehow appealing paper boat floating along at a more graceful human scale? Are you a recovering speed addict?  Nobody suggests we ought not work hard  and there are times we do have to go fast.  But few of us have the work/rest rhythm quit right, so this book should have universal appeal.  Jan Johnson (we sold her book Abundant Simplicity the first day here!) says of it "greatness of soul requires an unhurried life." She interestingly says it is a perfect follow up to The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson.  Whether you are a clergy person or not, this book is for you.  It is very profound; highly recommended, wonderfully written, and certainly speaking wisely to one of the great concerns of our era.

C51PNCadb9NL._SY300_.jpghurch, World, and Kingdom: The Eucharistic Foundation of Alexander Schmemann's Pastoral Theology  William C. Mills (Hillenbrand Books) $18.00  We always feel at liberty to bring Catholic and Orthodox books to mainline events, and this Lutheran gathering certainly shows interest in the liturgical tradition. I hope you know the must-read For the Life of the World by Schmemann - it gets at the sacramental nature of an enchanted, being-redeemed creation as well as almost anything - and this study reflects on his view of pastoral work.  As an Orthodox theologian, he wrote exquisitely about the assembly of God's people in worship, and how liturgy shapes the calling of the pastor.  Maybe you, like me, don't know that much about Orthodox views of Baptism and Eucharist, but any pastoral leader could surely learn from this brief book. Kudos to Lutheran clergy who desire mature and faithful worship, and know that any renewal of public witness will emerge from ministries of Word and Sacrament.
 
Tfour-gospels-on-sunday-new-testament-reform-christian-gordon-w-lathrop-hardcover-cover-art.jpghe Four Gospels on Sunday: The New Testament and the Reform of Christian Worship  Gordon W. Lathrop (Fortress) $49.00  Lathrop is the renowned and vibrant professor from Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. I have often talked about his heavy three-volume set Holy Things: A Liturgical Theology, Holy People: A Liturgical Ecclesiology and Holy Ground: A Liturgical Cosmology, a powerful trio that brings to mind the aforementioned Alexander Schmemann. Those are certainly worth reading.  Lutherans should be glad for this new book which is both scholarly and beautiful, bringing together his two great specialties of Biblical studies and liturgics. We could all learn from this.  This is a truly beautiful, solidly-made book, of great importance, but I wish it weren't so expensive. I know it would sell better here if it were more reasonable.  Maybe the discount will help.


F
feasting on the word worship comp.jpgeasting on the Word Worship Companion Year C Volume 2 edited by Kimberly Bracken Long (Westminster/John Knox) $35.00  Most of our readers know of the extraordinary resource called Feasting on the Word, co-edited by Barbara Brown Taylor, a four volume set of preaching commentaries on each text of the lectionary for each liturgical year.  (That is, there are four volumes for Years A, B and C, making Feasting a 12 volume set, in all. Each volume offers four different perspectives on the pericapes of the day (an exegetical, theological, pastoral, and homiletical view) and they are by far the most talked about preaching resources we've seen in our 30 years of theological bookselling.) This new Worship Companion is the second of a two volume set for each year, offering liturgies drawn from Feasting.  This one, obviously, is for use now, the second half of Year C.  It starts on Trinity Sunday and ends right before Advent.  There are weekly calls to worship, confessions, lectionary-based prayers, responsive readings, benedictions and the like. The wording is elegant but contemporary; theologically rich and generous. Comes  with a CD-ROM for easy use making bulletins, etc. Long is a Professor of Worship at Columbia Theological Seminary, which is Presbyterian CHurch (USA.)

Wworship as repentence.jpgorship as Repentance: Lutheran Liturgical Traditions and Catholic Consensus Walter Sundberg (Eerdmans) $18.00 Here is what it says in the back.  A friend raved about this to me, so thought we'd recommend it: "Against contemporary trends that conceive of Christian worship primarily as entertainment or sheer celebration, Walter Sundberg argues that repentance is the heart of authentic worship. He outlines the history of repentance and confession within liturgical practice from the early church to mid-twentieth Protestantism, advocating movement away from the "eucharistic piety" common in mainline worship today and toward the "penitential piety" of older traditions of Protestant worship."  This illustrates the significant discourse happening among the best mainline clergy.  Not all are this astute, but when evangelicals caricature traditional worship as nominal or blase, they simply aren't aware of the kinds of reforms happening within the mainline.  Important conversations.

Zzionism through .jpgionism Through Christian Lenses: Ecumenical Perspectives on the Promised Land  edited by Carole Monica Burnett (Pickwick) $25.00  I am sure you know that mainline churches are strong on public justice advocacy, that their global denominational connections allow them to be in communion with brothers and sisters all over the world. In this powerful collection of essays you can get solid, Scripturally informed and political contextualized chapters by a Lutheran, two Roman Catholics, two Episcopalians, an American Baptist, and Eastern Orthodox Christian and a UCC pastor.  This explores ancient Israel's covenant, the early church's theological insights and the post-Reformation experiences of various branches of Christianity around this question of whether we are called to be pro-Zionist.  Naim S. Ateek, the Director of Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem wrote the passionate forward.  The author, by the way, is not only a peace and justice advocate in the Middle East, but is an editor of the Fathers of the Church series and an adjunct professor of Latin and New Testament Greek at the Dominican House of Studies in DC.  We've met, and I can assure you she is sharp and thoughtful.  This is an excellent book.  I am glad for the way mainline Christians have led the way to a balanced concern for peace in the Holy Land.

Ttruth speaks to power Brueggy.pngruth Speaks to Power: The Countercultural Nature of Scripture  Walter Brueggemann (Westminster/John Knox) $17.00  We take Brueggemann books anywhere we go where we take Bible stuff, and, naturally, he is esteemed in all sorts of circles. Lutherans know him as their publisher (Fortress) did many of his most famous books such as The Land, The Prophetic Imagination, and The Hopeful Imagination.  We are featuring a big stack of these right alongside others of his.  As I have mentioned in a previous BookNotes, he here looks at Moses, Solomon, Elisha, Josiah, and a final chapter called "Power and Truth Among Us."  Amazing. Just amazing.  You should order this. Kudos to those in the mainline churches who have, in recent decades, redoubled their efforts to do serious Bible study in their parishes. I know there are some traditional denominations, who don't have a particularly conservative view of the Scriptures, who study it more frequently and with more delight and intensity than their evangelical neighbors, who insist loudly that they are Bible-believing, but actually don't study it that much.
 
 
Ggreen leaves for later.jpgreen Leaves for Later Years: The Spiritual Path of Wisdom Emilie Griffin (IVP/formatio) $15.00  Mainline pastors have been schooled well in pastoral care and it is evident that aging issues remain important for their congregations.  We take books about the greying of the church to all our religious events, and they are always discussed.  Here is one that we've sold a number of - Emilie Griffin is the author of a number of books, including some classics of contemplative spirituality; she knows formational literature very well, and has worked in this field a long time. Her good writing and her own life stage allows her here to offer a nearly one-of-a-kind book.  It is ideal for individuals or groups; it has great reflection questions and a prayer.  So well written - very highly recommended. By the way, we take all the formatio imprint of IVP almost everywhere we go -- some of the very best stuff on spirituality out there.

H
healing marks.jpgealing Marks  Bruce Epperly (Energion Publications) $14.99  Bruce Epperly gets around and is well known in many circles - he is a Disciples pastor, not long ago served Lancaster Theological Seminar tirelessly and is the author of oodles of books.  He has published with the esteemed Alban Institute (we carry all his Alban titles, which are very well done) and he has worked with larger and smaller presses.  Here, in a book that ought to be well known, he offers a study of healing and spirituality (mostly from Mark's gospel.)  Healing is multi-faceted and grace-filled. As his friend Kent Ira Groff writes on the back, "Jesus' touching dirt-poor sick folks and well-heeled tax collectors bids us to spiritual practices and social justice using scientific tools." That is, it is grounded in a critical study of the Biblical texts, uses deep psychological awareness to see touches of grace and healing that comes in many forms, and it is medically sound. (Bruce spent more than a decade as chaplain at Georgetown University Medical School where he also taught, innovating courses on faith, medicine, healing and wholeness. This isn't a book of cheap miracles, but neither does it keep gospel transformation at arm's length.  It is fascinating to see how many mainline churches anoint with oil and have (liturgically-oriented) healing services. We have this propped up for all to see.  And many of his other titles, too.

Wworship the lord with gladness.jpgorship the Lord with Gladness: God's Children in Worship Rita B. Hays (Abingdon) $18.99  This brand new study reminds us of the important interest in mainline churches of helping children learn to worship in the main worship service of the church.  This is a tremendous study, great for teachers as it is so well arranged, helping younger children (kindergarten through 3rd grade, they say) understand what worship is, learn what the Bible teaches about it, and appreciating different aspects of typical Protestant churches.  It is fun, uses crafts and activities for each of the 13 sessions, and kids get to learn about everything from understanding a worship bulletin to the Apostles Creed to passing the peace.  This is very highly recommended.




W
why do we have to be so quiet.jpghy Do We Have to Be Quiet in Church? And 12 Other Questions Kids Have About God  Clare Simpson (Paraclete) $14.99  This small hardback is a lovely little book, with great illustrations by Kay Harker, and is designed to answer typical questions younger children have about God and faith and church. We like this book and it is great here for at least three good reasons: it has a modern, contemporary feel; that is, it is artful and not too silly or cartoony.  Secondly, it has nuance and allusive hints to applying truth, unlike some books that are so didactic and heavy-handed. Thirdly, there are small hints of scenes of mainline church settings - pews, a pastor in a clerical collar, a Baptismal font. Children who attend ordinary mainline churches will recognize themselves in this. Why Do We Have To Be So Quiet in Church is a great little book, short and sweet, published by a contemplative Episcopalian publisher that we love.  That mouse is cool, too, eh?  Thanks to the Lutheran folk who bought kids books at their Assembly.  Kudos to all congregations who make room for kids of all ages and temperaments and needs. We have many, many more children's books - I'll list some others before too long.

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June 22, 2013

6 More Books about Being Church ON SALE! from Hearts & Minds

In my last BookNotes piece I reminded you of a longer essay I wrote about neo-Calvinism and Kuyper and how they influenced us.  That is posted at the "columns" section of our website.

Then I listed and described 13 books --  just couldn't do a top ten -- that highlighted the strengths and interests of mainline denominational churches.  I had a few things about preaching the lectionary, a devotional based on Feasting on the Word Year C, and gave a shout out to our friends at the Alban Institute who do sharp stuff about church revitalization, congregational best practices and pastoral ministry resources.  It was occasioned mostly by our recent book displays with a group of Presbyterian educators, a retreat with UCC clergy, and a Synod Assembly of the Lower Susquehanna Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. I think it is known that we are particularly interested in the health of our mainline denominational parishes.  I think those books were pretty useful.

So, to follow up, here are 6 more about church life.  I think they are extraordinary, each in their own way.  I often huff and puff about the role of the laity in the world, about vocation and calling and culture-making.  We here invite you to nurture the Christian mind for God's missional purposes in the world, thinking faithfully about art, science, media, business and more.

But let's face it.  We learn this stuff in church.  Our Kingdom vision for a being agents of God's reconciling work in the world happens, mostly, in the often mundane practices of doing church together, week by week by week.  Amen?

Cchurch worth getting up for.jpghurch Worth Getting Up For  Charles Gutenson (Abingdon) $16.99 Gutenson has done community development, health care ministry, public justice work, has been on staff at Sojourners, and now teaches systematic theology at Asbury Theological Seminary. A recent book looked at the practices of the early church (The Right Church.)  This is a distillation of much of his thought about congregational life that is vibrant, meaningful, missional, and inviting. He is a good writer, and this is exciting and clear; visionary and practical. He highlights well how churches must contextualize their ministry to their local  setting and reminds us of the need to keep younger adults involved.

We hear lots of talk about being "authentic" these days.  He shows us what it looks like.  There are chapter titles like "The Big Six" and "Focus, Focus, Focus" and "Right Belief, Right Practice - Equal Partners?" He is all about getting beyond the "sacred/secular divide" (did he read that Kuyper essay of mine? Ha!)  I think you learn something from this, see some things in a new light, and -- for leaders who don't have a lot of time to read too much in any one thing -- will be brought up to speed in some of the latest missional conversations and insights about making congregational life what it ought to be.

IIntergenerational-Christian-Formation-Allen-Holly-9780830839810.jpgntergenerational Christian Formation: Bringing the Whole Church Together in Ministry, Community, and Worship  Holly Catterton Allen and Christian Lawton Ross (IVP Academic) $22.00  It is always a delight to see mainline denominational leaders (in this case, Karen Marie Yust, whose books are on Chalice Press, and who works at Union Presbyterian in Richmond) endorsing books on historically evangelically publishing houses.  There is little doubt in my mind that this is the definitive book thus far on this vexing and much-debated topic.  How do we live out Psalm 145: 4 which invite one generation to commend God's redemptive words to the next?  Allen and Ross have given us a comprehensive, thorough, systematic, and provocative study.  This rejects seeing church as largely (market-derived) demographics -- which may appeal to what one friend calls "generational narcissism."  There is practical stuff here, but it isn't mostly a how-to handbook.  It is a rich, serious, mature rumination on the theology of church, the nature of Christian pedagogy, and what it means to be an inter-generational, diverse Body of learners together.  They look at worship, education, service and more.

When "Spiritual But Not Religious" Is Not Enough: Seeing God in Surprising Places,When-Spiritual-But-Not-Religious-199x300.jpg Even the Church  Lillian Daniel (Jericho Books) $19.99 You may know I promoted this earlier in the spring, naming it as a certain front-runner for my favorite book of the year, especially in the category of short, devotional essays.  I think I filed this under memoir.  And it is memoir-like; Lillian is a great storyteller, good, good writer, and a wise reporter, calling out sightings of Godly life here and there, as she sees it.  Alas, she sees it -- surprise! -- in ordinary stuff of ordinary churches.  

I know, it is more sexy to plant a hip, cool church with an edgy website.  I know your elders are supposed to have skinny jeans and you should have a craft beer night and latte art competitions; maybe you don't even gather  -- hey, it is cool to have virtual church.  Or, as many say, just skip it  --  Jesus isn't about religion, anyway. God is alive and well in the world, so let's talk about design and culture, and justice and visioneering. We can all be just spiritual and let it go at that.  Yeah, yeah, I get it. And so does Lillian Daniel, who does find God in a yoga class, or celebrates Christ's grace showing up when encountering animals at the airport. (What a chapter that is!)

 But Lillian also lives in the world of fairly small, fairly ordinary, often struggling (but not always) mainline churches.  There are old people, children, liberals and conservatives, debates about using the old hymnal, versus the new (that isn't so new) and the hard work of doing, well, fairly mundane stuff. For the folks of these churches, faith isn't spectacular. And they haven't heard about Crazy Love or Not a Fan.  These are the churches that have not been shaped by evangelical publishing or televised mega-churches. And it is the world Daniel, and many of us, inhabit.  And she makes it all glow, beautifully honoring through real-world essays about real-live ministry in common-place congregations.  She can be biting -- the first, wonderful essay, especially, just sizzles with sarcasm. But she can be light-hearted and fun, tender and wise. I loved this book, about God, faith, social concerns, and, yes, mostly about ordinary Christian faith lived in ordinary churches.  This would be a really enjoyable summer read and might relieve some anxieties that your church isn't as cool as it might.  Love it!

BBeingChurch-207x300.jpgeing Church: Reflections on How to Live as the People of God  John F. Alexander (Cascade) $29.00  I wrote about this book before, but have wanted to write with more depth about it, but haven't been able to. Still, I simply can't wait until I could review it at greater length to promote it again.  The late John Alexander took up the editorship of the magazine his father, Fred,  founded, The Other Side, which was about racial justice and inner city work and intentional community, and eventually so much more. They were fellow-travellers with Sojourners, in the 1970s and beyond. John Alexander's writings have been exceptionally influential in my faith journey and his two previous books are among my favorites -- they are feisty and radical and amazingly challenging, taking Jesus and the culture we live in, seriously. 

By the 80s he had ended up nearly losing his faith, nearly paralyzed with activism and high expectations about communal living; he left The Other Side and became a house church member out West, speaking, writing, pastoring. He had returned to robust, sustainable faith in a less ideologically left-wing way, and in a more intentional manner drawing on historic orthodox Bible teaching, including inputs from sources as diverse as the best of Francis Schaeffer and the radical Anabaptist folk.  He was influenced by the philosophical ethics of Stanley Hauerwas (and his rejection of liberalism's view of rights) but more, his view of church as an alternative polis.  And he got cancer, and died in 2001.

John was a Wheaton trained philosopher, a justice and peace activist, and a house church/ intentional community advocate, and a servant of others.  This book is a collection of his pieces that were to become a book, put together posthumously.  It is a major work (with extraordinary footnotes, indicating a huge range of reading) on the nature of the church and happily, it does not feel unfinished.  It is truly amazing, challenging, wildly Christ-like, raw, real. It is witty and biting and well-thought out.  It is big on relationships (love and unity), on servanthood, social justice, grounded in grace, grace, grace and the mercy that flows from being forgiven sinners in a broken world.  There are glimmers of joy, but it isn't upbeat.  There are signs of hope, but it isn't cheap. There is theology, philosophy, pop-culture, Biblical study galore,  history, politics -- making it a book that defies description.  There is an excellent forward by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and it is featured as a part of the important series on new monasticism called the New Monastic Library. Here is a piece Jonathan wrote at Patheos about John, "The Soul Friend I Never Knew." 

Intense endorsing blurbs on the back are by Ron Sider, Tony Campolo, Mark Scandrette and Chris Rice. All say the most amazing things about this most amazing book.  I dare you to read this and not be driven to profound consideration about the nature of church and the nature of discipleship itself.  Very, very important.

Lletters-future-church-words-encouragement-prophetic-appeals-chris-lewis-paperback-cover-art.jpgetters to a Future Church: Words of Encouragement and Prophetic Appeals  edited by Chris Lewis (IVP) $15.00  We all know the letters to churches in the early part of Revelation.  Suppose the Spirit was inspiring people to write to churches today.  Suppose you could write a letter to church folk you know? You have one shot -- what would you say?  How would you say it?  Lewis compiled this marvelously interesting, provocative, and stimulating book as a set of letters from all sorts of leaders, mainline and evangelical, Reformed and otherwise, social action-oriented and profoundly contemplative.  As the sub-title suggests there are gentle works of good encouragement and there are hard-hitting calls to prophetic action.  Here, you'll real missives from Shane Claiborne and Tim Challies, from Rachel Held Evans and Walter Brueggemann.  There are pieces by John Ortberg and Will Willimon. The famous black preacher Gardner Taylor has an eloquent piece and so does Eugene Peterson.

Many of these letter-writers are young, or a bit on the margins of typical congregational life.  There are edgy thinkers like Peter Rollins and artist like Mako Fujimura.

One of the devices which adds an extra "wow factor" to this  interesting compilation is a set of four pieces by our acquaintance Janell Anema, who shares insights of her growing up as a super-churched kid, writing  a forward, a piece from her 16 year old self, as a 22 year old, as a 25 year old, and then a closing reprise.  Which is to say, these letters are not an excuse for pontification, but are all heartfelt hopes for real congregations -- not abstractions! -- that minister to and with people like Janell.  I've recommended this book before, and am happy to suggest it again.

Pprodigal christaity .jpgrodigal Christianity: 10 Signposts into the Missional Frontier David Fitch & Geoff Holsclaw (Jossey Bass) $24.95  I have respected these two deep thinkers for quite some time, and was glad to see this new book in the esteemed, useful "Leadership Network" series. I am not necessarily Anabaptist, but I greatly appreciate that Fitch and Holsclaw have brought a serious commitment to local body life in light of Yoder and other Mennonite theologians in their broad contribution to missional church conversation. That this book has gotten rave reviews from Scot McKnight, Alan Hirsch, Alan Roxburgh and others speaks a lot. They are both scholars and practitioners, so I want to hear their story.  I have not read this yet, but believe me, after just looking at the table of contents (and some videos of them speaking about it on line) I was hooked.  It is on my stack, one I will personally work through this summer.  I like what Gary Nelson, President of Tyndale University and Seminary in Toronto says, (they) "do something with Prodigal Christianity that most authors can't pull off. They hold the tension between the prophetic and the priestly. As a result they make some readers squirm and others question."  I like that there is an emphasis on the local, on being an incarnation of the gospel in the neighborhood.  I think these "10 Signposts into the Missional Frontier" are good pointers, and we should join the journey.

For what it is worth, I think our store carries almost every book published by mainstream publishers on the missional church.  Bunches; we've got bunches. We have some odd-ball ones, too, self-published and obscure, or specially ordered from overseas.  Too many start to sound the same.  I am confident this one does not, is a deep wrestling with real issues, and is an important contribution to the vision and practices that many of us trying to absorb and embody. Although this is largely around being missional faith communities in post-Christian North America, the authors are both very fluent in the emergent conversations, as well.  You may not like everything they say but I think anyone who reads this will be able to find something wise and good and useful here. 

Buying any of these will be money well spent.  Your church friends will thank you, as it always is good to have folks in the church who are thinking intentionally about what it is we are and what it is we do. These are interest and raise the right questions. They each tell moving stories. I hope you find that they bear fruit in your place, for God's glory. Let me know what you think. 


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                   Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street  Dallastown, PA  17313     717-246-3333
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June 25, 2013

FREE WEBINAR THIS THURSDAY -- 1:00 PM Books, Books, and Books!

Top Ten (or so) Picks for Your Summer Reading:
The Best Books for Pastors, Parents and Youth Workers


Did I mention it was free?  Me talking about books.  At a freakin' webinar.  I think a month or so ago when Derek Melleby of the very classy CPYU asked me to do this, I didn't even know what a webinar was.  And, to be honest, I still don't like the sound of it.

But Derek can talk people, or at least me, into anything. He is one of my very favorite people, for a dozen reasons, but that is another topic.  For now, just know that it is going to be fun, informative, nicely produced, and well worth your time.Derek arms.jpg                                                                                                                 Derek Melleby in action.

byron with u2 book.jpgOnce you sign up (and you have to sign up, being it's a webinar, after all) you can tune in live at 1:00 EDT this Thursday and you'll be regaled with stories from the front lines of bookselling, Hearts & Minds style.  Derek will set me up to preach a bit about the significance of reading, why studying to develop the mind of Christ is so very important these days, and why the organization for which he works (CPYU) and his own ministry (College Transition Initiative) values what we do here at the shop.  I'll tell some stories -- maybe from church history, maybe from our experience -- of how books well-chosen and carefully read can be life-changing.  We think that reading is a good pleasure and a necessary spiritual discipline. The best leaders and cultural influencers are readers.

I suspect I'll be preaching to the choir, so we'll keep that brief (unless I get wound up, and then there's no telling what will be said. I'll try to be reasonable.)

Then, for the main part of the program, that is, the aforementioned webinar, I'll live up to myreading in the water with umbrella.jpg reputation of not being able to list just a few books.  We've announced it as a Top Ten List for your summer reading.  But noooo (spoiler alert!) I couldn't do that.  So it will be Top Ten categories, with a handful of suggestions under each one.  Sort of a "choose your own" Top Ten Summer List.

I guess you should be prepared to take notes.

There will be good books mentioned, some juicy background about why I like 'em, and playful banter between Derek and I.  I'm not sure what educators or other professionals do at webinars, but we're going to have a good time.  And you'll be re-inspired to read some significant books and get a ton of good suggestions, free. 

Another perk, by the way: you will get an email afterwards, listing the titles.  Anybody whobackyard reading.jpg signs up gets that.  And, all of these books will then be on a special sizzlin' summer sale -- 20% off.  Or, I could say, a wonderful, wacky, winsome, webinar, sale.  Yep, that's a special discount just for those who sign up for the CPYU webinar.

So, help us spread the word, right away, if you can.  I promise to describe some very profound works, highlight some brand new titles, and celebrate a few that you may expect. And, I'll mention a few I bet you haven't even heard of. 

A one-hour conversation about books in my Top Ten Categories for Summer Reading. 

Delivered live to your computer screen or phone, this Thursday, June 27, 2013.
1:00 to 2:00 Eastern Daylight Time.

G
arrow_6.gifO HERE TO SIGN UP.cpyu logo.jpg

Date: Thursday, June 27, 2013
Time: 1:00PM - 2:00PM EDT
 




Here is how our friends at CPYU have described it:

Seminar Description:
Join Derek Melleby as he asks CPYU's favorite bookseller, Byron Borger, to suggest the best books to read this summer. Byron owns Hearts & Minds, a bookstore in Dallastown, PA and has been in the book business for over 30 years. He enjoys crafting custom-made lists for specific audiences. He is a long-time friend of us here at CPYU and has agreed to offer a list for us. Listen in as he shares key titles to inspire us in our tasks as parents, youth workers and Christian leaders.

Categories include:
memoirs
spiritual formation
books for clergy
youth ministry
parenting
engaging culture
Christian discipleship
novels
and more!

Really, this is a great opportunity to hear us speak about the Biblical vision of being life-long learners, why books are tools for Christian discipleship, and how Hearts & Minds is trying, as a small-town family-owned business, to live up to the high calling of being a thoughtful Christian bookseller. And to get a boat load of ideas for your own top ten list this season.

And to say you've been to a webinar.  How cool is that?  Won't you join us?

Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street  Dallastown, PA  17313     717-246-3333
                                                            read@heartsandmindsbooks.com   
  

June 30, 2013

List of More than 50 Books as Described in the Free Webinar.

Well, I suppose you heard about the webinar a few days ago that was hosted and produced by my good friends at the Center for Parent and Youth Understanding (CPYU.)  Derek Melleby is their specialist researching and speaking on the College Transition Initiative (CTI) and he interviewed me mostly about summer reading ideas, tossing me softballs and giving me a chance to swing as hard as I wanted.  I don't know if I batted 1000, but a few really took off.  Or course, it was easy.  He asked, "Tell us about why you and Beth started Hearts & Minds" and "Tell us why reading is important in Christian discipleship."  He joked and prodded, trying to keep me moving, as he and I then together walked through a list of 10 categories, naming and describing over 50 books.  In just over an hour.

Those that signed up saw the covers pop up (and a few photo-shopped pictures; like the one of me with the cast of "30 Rock", in case you wondered --  ha!) We zipped through titles and subtitles, quoted a couple of endorsing blurbs, sharing why I thought each book looks good and useful.  We invited folks to pick a few from a couple different categories and enjoy good reading this summer.

It was tricky, though, as I knew that the main audience was their mostly evangelical followers of pastors, youth workers, and parents but that it also would include a number of folks we didn't know, and a handful of publishing world types, authors and scholars.  I knew some were pretty sophisticated, but also suspected some were newbies to intentional Christian reading.  So I put together a pretty diverse list.
 
Wanna watch our book review infomercial?  I never say "operators are standing by" but, well, we are.  Everything I mentioned is on sale here at the shop for 20% off.  Order in the next 24 minutes and we'll send a month's supply of... oh,  never mind.

For those that want the publisher and price, the actual list is below the show.  A link to our secure order form page at the Hearts & Minds website is just below that.


MEMOIRS & BIOGRAPHY
The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, A Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life  Rod Dreher (Grand Central) $25.99  Have tissues handy; one of the great books of the year, as Dreher moves to a small town to be with his dying sister, and discovers a new pace of life and value-system among his new neighbors.

Sober Mercies: How Love Caught Up With a Christian Drunk  Heather Kopp (Jericho Books) $19.99 Incredibly interesting, really, really well-written. A window into the life of addiction and recovery, and the search for grace.  I could hardly put it down  -- very highly recommended.

To Stir a Movement: Life, Justice, and Major League Baseball Jeremy Affeldt (Beacon Hill) $21.99  Classic Christian sports biography with a twist.  The guy leverages his fame and fortune on behalf of the oppressed, fighting sexual trafficking and working to end hunger.

7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness Eric Metaxas (Nelson) $24.95  We need men of nobility and courage and sacrifice. The skilled and enjoyable storyteller Metaxas nails it in this collection of biographies of truly great men.  Very well done. (I hope you saw the hilarious, provocative discussion about this book between John Wilson of Books & Culture and his friend Eric Metaxas. Whewie! did the sparks fly!)

C.S. Lewis: A Life  Alister McGrath (Tyndale) $24.99  Do we really need a new Lewis bio?  Yes. Yes, we do.  McGrath is a genius and brings some new information. A great first bio (except maybe Lewis' own Surprised by Joy) and certainly a must for any true fans.
 
Free Fall to Fly: A Breath-taking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning  Rebekah Lyon (Tyndale) $19.99  I admire Rebekah for her candor about her anxiety attacks and her struggle as a woman to discern her own call. A moving story of her move to New York with her husband Gabe and her young children and the lessons learned along the way.
 
SPIRITUAL FORMATION
Reordered Love Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of Happiness David Naugle (Eerdmans) $18.00  I've raved about this repeatedly, a wonderful, wonderfully rich study of the deepest disorders of our desires and how to love the right stuff in the right way.  This invites us to profound change from the inside out.

Living into Focus: What Matters in an Age of Distraction Arthur Boers (Baker) $20.00  Hard  to explain, but this is about practices -- focal practices of  daily embodiment -- and  how these clarifying habits help us experience God, day by day.  Brilliant.

Noticing God  Richard Peace (IVP) $15.00  How can we attend to the Spirit's presence, God's revelation, moment-by-moment, as we walk with Christ day by day.  From experiencing God in nature to honoring mystical experiences, from hearing God's voice in stillness, among friends, and of course in the Bible, this is a helpful, inspiring guide.

Pursuing God's Will Together: A Discernment Practice for Leadership Groups Ruth Haley Barton (IVP) $20.00  Her previous, marvelous books are on the spiritual disciplines, learned even in solitude and silence. Here, she offers insights for leaders about communal practices of discernment.  Turn your board or leadership team into a community guided by God, not just one that argues and votes and decides stuff.
 
Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives Dallas Willard (HarperOne) $15.99  The books of the late Dallas Willard have been game-changers for many, and each of the ones you see here are serious and important.  This may be the best one with which to start; a classic. You should read a few of his, for sure.
 
CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP
Bad Religion: How We Have Become a Nation of Heretics Ross Douthat (Free Press) $16.00  No, not the punk band, although they are pretty cool, too.  One of the most impressive books of the last year -- agree or not, anyone serious about being a disciple should know about the shifts in worldview, theology, and ways we may have accommodated our assumptions and views and attitudes to the me-centered world around us. By the way, it isn't every day (although it does happen more than it used to) that the Christian Century and Christianity Today agree on the importance of a book.  This is one.

Renewing the Evangelical Mission  edited Richard Lints (Eerdmans) $34.00  This is a collection of essays compiled to honor the massive, important work of David Wells.  From Os Guinness to Miroslof Volf, from Michael Horton to Cornelius Plantinga, this is an incisive lament, following Well's powerfully argued critique, of how evangelicals have sold out to the post-Christian culture, and what we must do to get back to first things.

How God Became King N.T. Wright (HarperOne) $25.99  My favorite book about Jesus this year, I think -- with a good emphasis on the theme of the Kingdom.  Everybody should read a book or two about Jesus every year, don't you think? And everybody should read them some Tom  Wright.  Very nicely done.

Imitating God in Christ: Recapturing a Biblical Pattern  Jason Hood  (IVP Academic) $22.00  For an academic book this is truly inspiring; for a book to help us in our Christian growth it is meaty and substantive.  What does it mean to imitate Christ?  Who knew you could mine so much from a single phrase?

Prototype: What Happens When You Discover You're More Like Jesus Than You Think Jonathan Martin (Tyndale) $15.99  This is easy to read, includes powerful illustrations and stories, and is all about being more human, not less, as we are conformed to Christ, the protoype human. Wow - surprisingly insightful, powerful, important. Get it!

CMYK: The Process of Life Together Justin McRoberts (Justin McRoberts) $24.95 for the full-color, illustrated edition// $9.99 for regular paperback  I love, love, love this first time author and his self-produced collection of stories, letters, reflections, each part inspired by a real person and his or her struggles and joys and journeys.  Each of the four sections -- the letters are each of the colors of the printing process --   has a CD to go with.  The songs stand alone, as does the book, but it really is a music/book combo.  The look of the full color designed one, by the way, is somewhat like the inside of Shane Claiborn's famously artful Jesus for President. A stunning production, one of the most creative packages in years. You will be moved as you read it.  Thanks Justin, for allowing us to carry it.  It is a privilege and a joy.
 
FOR CLERGY/PASTORS
Pastor: A Memoir Eugene Peterson (Eerdmans) $16.99 A slow, quiet memoir of the life of the famous, down-to-Earth Presbyterian pastor. Pastors, who those who care about pastors, will enjoy it, and, frankly, it is commendable as it has much to teach us about what really matters.

Sensing Jesus: Life and Ministry as a Human Being Zack Eswine (Crossway) $19.99  This book is hard to explain.  It is about being real. About being human, even as a spiritual leader. Jeramm Barrs says it is one of the best books on ministry he has read. Really, really interesting, whether you are a ministry leader or not.

Handbook for Battered Leaders Janis & Wesley Balda (IVP) $16.00  This couple has extensive experience in corporate world and church leadership and knows the research on hurting leaders. Draws on Corinthians, too.

Resilient Ministry: What Pastors Told Us About Surviving and Thriving Bob Burns, Tasha Chapman & Donald Guthrie (IVP/Praxis) $17.00  If you are a ministry leader, get this book.  If you are not, get it for your pastor. The stats are remarkable, the insights drawn, life-saving. Nothing like it in print. A must-read resource.

Spiritual Influence: The Hidden Power Behind Leadership Mel Lawrence (Zondervan) $19.99  I mentioned in the webinar that Beth and I met Mel this Spring (at the Blue Conference in Fairfax VA.) I was very, very impressed with him.  I've read other books of his, and have enjoyed them.  This is really good, about how to have a spiritual influence on others, so they might pursue their own callings, and share God's goodness with others.  Very useful -- oddly, something every Christian leader does, but a skill/art we don't actually think about much.  This can help.
 
FOR YOUTH LEADERS
Intergenerational Christian Formation: Bringing the Whole Church Together in Ministry, Community and Worship Holly Catterton Allen & Christian Lawton Ross (IVP Academic) $22.00 Granted, it is thick and serious --  a masterpiece to make you think in new ways about how we  do church.  Anybody in CE or family ministry  -- heck, anybody who goes to church -- should ponder this stuff.

Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church Kenda Creasy Dean (Oxford University Press) $24.95  Two decades ago I pronounced (loudly and often) that her God-Bearing Life was truly seminal, the most important book in youth ministry in decades. Then she did some other important ones, including, recently, the amazingly interesting and important Theological Turn in Youth Ministry, which she co-authored with Andrew Root.  But this, a research-driven, very important book around which there have been essential conversations.  If you are in youth work and haven't read this yet, you ought to do what you must to get on it. It's that important.

You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving the Church and Redefining Faith  David Kinnamen (Baker) $17.99  The author is a good friend of Derek's and both Derek and Walt Mueller are in the back, offering suggestions on how to maintain relationships with our 20-somethings.  I love this book, hope you know it, and highly recommend that you buy a few for folks in your congregation.  The DVD curriculum is very well made.  Kudos.

Taking Theology to Youth Ministry, Unpacking Scriptures in Youth Ministry,Taking the Cross to Youth Ministry, and Unlocking Mission and Eschatology in Youth Ministry Andrew Root (Zondervan/Youth Specialties) $12.99 each.  These are small, handsome hardbacks, each a continuation of a fictional youth worker trying to figure it all out.  What fun to be invited into her world, joining her journey of being a better youth pastor, knowing why she does what she does, and what the focus of ministry should be.
 
FOR PARENTS
Christian Parenting Handbook Scott Turansky & Joanne Miller (Nelson) $16.99  50 heart-based strategies for all the stages of your child's life. I've written about this before and think it is very helpful.

Road Trip to Redemption Brad Mathias (Tyndale Momentum) $14.99 An instructive memoir of a cross-country road trip as these parents try to reconnect with their teens, and build family memories along the way.
 
Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More  Bruce Feiler (William Morrow) $25.99  One of the most enjoyable books I've read this season, this mainstream author reports on the best research and what he learned from nationally-known leaders in various fields, as he applied those findings to his family.  Funny, unexpected, clever, this is a hoot -- and may be a perfect family book for those who don't like family books.

Habits of a Child's Heart: Raising Your Kids with the Spiritual Disciplines Valerie Hess (NavPress) $14.99  This is unlike any other book, following the chapters of Richard Foster's famous Celebration of Discipline. How 'bout that?  Yes!
 
Space Between: A Parent's Guide to Teenage Development Walt Mueller (Zondervan/Youth Specialties) $9.99  I swear I didn't include this -- among the dozens we might have listed -- because Walt runs CPYU and was sitting right there.  No, this is a handy, accessible guide to stuff parents really ought to know.  Nice.

Walk with Me: An Allegory Annie Wald (River North/Moody) $15.99 We didn't have time to list much on marriage renewal -- email me if you want some other ideas -- but this is so unique. It is essentially Pilgrim's Progress for married couples.  The author went to Cambridge.  The forward is by Eugene Peterson.  A small, handsome paperback. What's not to like?
 
CULTURAL DISCERNMENT
Popcultured: Thinking Christianly About Style, Media and Entertainment Steve Turner (IVP) $17.00 Steve Turner is one of the masters of this topic, a British rock critic and Christian thinker.  He breaks some new ground here, too.  Trust me -- this is fantastic!

Of Games and God: A Christian Exploration of Video Games Kevin Schut (Baker) $16.99  Nothing like it in print; nothing even close. Excellent. If you know teens or young adults, work in campus ministry or high school settings, you know you should be thinking about this.

Shaping a Digital World: Faith, Culture and Computer Technology  Derek Schuurman (IVP Academic) $18.00  I wrote extensively and then raved about this at a previous BookNotes piece, and commended it again in the webinar as a wonderful example of how to think faithfully and critically through an intentionally Biblical lens, about something in which we are all awash. Excellent.
 
Digital Invasion: How Technology Is Shaping You and Your Relationships Archibald Hart and Sylvia Hart Frejd  (Baker) $14.99  I am partial to the theoretical work done by Schuurman, but this looks at the important research, asks how to alleviate some of the negative side effects of over-stimulation from our virtual lifestyles, and makes excellent applications to youth ministry, parenting, and for any of us wanting to use our devices in healthy ways. The author is a respected Christian psychologist and the other, his daughter, is a thoughtful life coach.
 
I'm No Angel: From Victoria's Secret Model to Role Model Kylie Bisutti (Tyndale) $19.99  Her story of being drawn into the fast-paced, glamorous world of high-fashion modeling, the severe pressure to be unhealthily skinny, the pervasive drugs and sensuality, is simply told and a good reminder of much that is wrong in popular culture.

Echoes of Eden: Reflections on Christianity, Literature and the Arts Jerram Barrs (Crossway) $17.99  Tim Keller says this is the best book on a Christian view of the arts he's ever seen.  It is, indeed, very good.  The last half is mostly about literature with insightful, interesting chapters on Harry Potter, Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Tolkien and the like.
 
LIFESTYLE
An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus' Rhythms of Work and Rest Alan Fadling (IVP) $15.00  I  am not joking when I say that you should read it  now, when your schedule may be a bit less hectic.  It is one of the most important books on the list! I should have discussed it more on the broadcasted webinar, but we were, ironically, rushed.  How many of us struggled with busy-ness, or are oddly proud of it?  This raises some weird stuff, you know, for us all. The best thing I've read on it, and I'm not even finished, as I'm slowly savoring it.
 
Eat with Joy: Redeeming God's Gift of Food Rachel Marie Stone (IVP) $16.00  There is a growing body of literature on faith and food, and this is the best all-around, helpful, solid, study we've yet seen.  Please, please, consider this. A really helpful resource and a delightful read.

Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table (With Recipes) Shauna Niequist (Zondervan) $16.00  When I said on the air that some of these wonderful essays made me cry, I wasn't being sentimental.  This is moving, powerful, beautiful stuff, one of the best-written and fascinating and splendid books of the year.  I am so glad for it and for the things she so honestly hares from her own life. And we haven't even done any of the recipes. Beautiful!
 
More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity  Jeff Shinabarger (Cook) $17.99  Derek and I both know Shinabarger from the CCO Jubilee conference and we agree that his role there this past year was nothing short of breath-taking -- so many people were so deeply moved by his synopsis of his thesis here: we can be more generous, we can take the initiative to do more interesting stuff with our privilege, power, and resources, but we won't quite have the inner resources to do that unless we are clear about God's love for us.  Christ is enough. This book rocks, and could be shared with nearly anyone.  Introduction by Bob Goff, so you know it is fun.

Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community Wendell Berry (Counterpoint) $15.00  I went out on a limb and said this is the book to get first if you haven't read any of Berry's acclaimed essays. Any collection of his, really, would do, but this is the one I recommend most.

The Space Between: A Christian Engagement with the Built Environment Eric Jacobsen (Baker Academic) $22.99  I promised to the webinar listeners (as you will hear if you download and listen) that you will never see your town or city the same way again, after having read this. That is quite a claim. I guarantee that you'll get your money's worth with this, learning new things that you will greatly appreciate.  God wants us to be attentive to the world around us, including what Jacobsen called in an earlier book, "the sidewalks of the Kingdom." This is really, really interesting and would make a good on-the-ground study book, especially if you include some interactive field trips to look around, seeing anew, with greater understanding.?
 
NOVELS
Jayber Crow Wendell Berry (Counterpoint) $15.95  It is common to hear people say this is their all time favorite novel.

Hannah Coulter Wendell Berry (Counterpoint) $14.95  Hannah shows up in other stories of the Port Williams membership, and it is maybe my favorite.

Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale Ian Morgan Cron (Zondervan) $14.99  I am so glad this fantastic story is back in print.  Cron is a great writer, and this novel feels like it really happened to him.
 
Frame 232 Wil Mara (Tyndale) $13.99  I wanted to put in something fantastic, fun, a bit wild, with a solid Christian message.  Yep, this is about the Kennedy assassination, so if you know about the Babushka Lady, you are going to want to read this novel.

In the Absence of God
  (Xulon) Richard Cleary $24.95 Full-discloser: the author is a good friend, and I'm thanked in the book itself.  Okay, that doesn't mean I have to promote it, let alone when I'm only picking a very few fiction works for this webinar.  But I felt strongly it really would be a cool beach book, a thoughtful summer read, as it is full of suspense and drama and real-world dialogue about important matters.  Set on a modern college campus, among curious students and open-minded professors (and some, uh, who are not so open-minded or interested in the benefits of authentic inquiry through the liberal arts), they have long talks on the meaning of truth, the plausibility of ethics, and wonder if we have a sustainable reason for morality if there is no God. And then some ugly stuff starts happening, and the point of it all becomes very, very clear. 
 
KEY CPYU RESOURCES
Youth Culture 101 Walt Mueller (Zondervan/Youth Specialties) $19.99  A standard, which every youth worker should have.  Share it with your volunteers, parents and grandparents.

Engaging the Soul of Youth Ministry Walt Muller (IVP) $18.00  I'll tell you what: this book is one of the most thought-out, important, stimulating books on youth ministry that I've ever seen. This put CPYU on the map, showing their intentionally-constructed foundation for ministry.

Make College Count: A Faithful Guide to Life + Learning Derek Melleby (Baker) $12.99  You know all about this, and my advocacy for it.  Designed for high school students heading off to college, or first year students, wondering about the basic questions of who they are and what they're doing in college. The best!

Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness: A Student's Guide  Donald Optiz & Derek Melleby (Brazos) $13.99  Nothing like it in print.  Am I self-centered to say that some of this came out of conversations with Derek right here in our shop? That he and Don both are doing work that we've promoted for decades? This is a must-have book for any serious Christian collegiate.
 
EXTRA INNINGS//OVERTIME
Desiring the Kingdom: Worship Worldview and Cultural Formation James K.A. Smith (Baker Academic) $22.99  You know that Derek, Walt and I all talk about worldview a lot.  Jamie isn't sure that's the best idea, and he tells you why.  Put on your seatbelt, get a fresh pot of coffee and dig in. I love this book -- if you are a Hearts & Minds fan, I'm tellin' ya, you should get a friend and read it together, wondering how it might alter your way of being in the world.
 
Imaging the Kingdom: How Worship Works James K.A. Smith (Baker Academic) $22.99  This is the second in the "cultural liturgies" series that brings theology, philosophy, critical cultural studies and a passion for the reign of God proclaimed in our churches into multi-layered conversation. Did I really say that these two books are among the most important books we've ever sold?  Yes. I. did.
 
Besides the Bible: 100 Books That Have, Should, or Will Create a Christian Culture edited by Dan Gibson, Jordan Green and John Pattison (Biblica/IVP) $15.00  Here are 100 great book reviews of mostly great books.  (A few were chosen because they were influential and therefore important to be reviewed, even if the authors don't agree with or care for them.) There are surprises, too.  I like these editors, a lot and the choose some fascinating titles.  So if this hour's-worth of suggestions didn't fill you up, get this one book and I am sure you'll find some important recommendations.

I even have a chapter in here, by the way -- a short review of The Call: Finding and Fulfilling The Central Purpose in Life by Os Guinness (Nelson; $17.99)  which, for the record, is one of my favorite books ever.  I'm glad they wanted me to make a contribution, and glad they agreed that it could be that one. It, too, would make some very good summer reading.


BookNotes

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DISCOUNT
ANY ITEM MENTIONED

20% off
order here
takes you to the secure Hearts & Minds order form page
just tell us what you want

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if you have questions or need more information
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