About November 2013

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

October 2013 is the previous archive.

December 2013 is the next archive.

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

November 2013 Archives

November 3, 2013

A Baker's Dozen: 13 Brand New Books: delightful, curious, controversial, helpful: ON SALE

I've been reading the fabulously interesting and very informative travelogue through importanin search of deep faith .jpgt Christian sites in Europe called In Search of a Deep Faith: A Pilgrimage into the Beauty, Goodness and Heart of Christianity (IVP; $17.00) by Jim Belcher, and I am not ready to write about it yet.  Some of its profundity is still sinking in and it deserves more than a quick shout out; it is one of the handful of best books of the year.  For those who have asked, it is indeed a great book, and his ruminations on visiting (with his wife and children) the locales of the authors of books that once shaped his life are really helpful. What a way to be introduced to (or re-reminded of) Cramner and The Book of Common Prayer, Sheldon Vanauken (A Severe Mercy), Lewis, Bonhoeffer, Andre Trocme, and more.  This is in many ways my kind of book, and I trust Belcher a lot, as a thinker, a writer, a person. I will be writing about it more, soon.


For now, I can't not tell you about at least some of the other new titles we've gotten into the shop and onto our shelves the last week or so. It is exciting -- such good books!  So here's a quickie list of 12 + 1 (a "baker's dozen" you know.) While some other places are pushing the new Joel Olsteen or other superstars promising prosperity (or the latest mega-seller slasher novel or fad diet or downloadable thingie) we've got some mature, thoughtful, wonderfully-created books that may not be on the bestsellers list. But these are real books; not mere products, units moved, but true books by real authors.  They are fun to describe, good to know about, and should be considered among us.  Most would make good choices for your next small group or book club or adult ed class.  All are 20% off (except where noted --the first two are 30% off!)


We'll list the regular retail prices, but we'll discount them for you when you place an order.  Hope you enjoy hearing about these as much as we enjoy heralding them.  Good books matter.


Ppaul-and-the-faithfulness-of-god.jpgaul and the Faithfulness of God N.T. Wright (Fortress) $89.00  Yes, this is the publishing event of the year, the long-awaited major work on Paul by what I believe is the most important Bible scholar (and certainly one of the most important Christian leaders) on the planet.  Wright has many books for non-specialists and you know we recommend them, always. (Not least his latest on the Psalms which I reviewed here.)  His magisterial "Christian Origins" set, however, is exceptionally meaty, and this fourth installment is itself a two-volume paperback (over 1700 pages!) We are selling this at 30% off to make it more affordable.






Ppauline perspectives.jpgauline Perspectives: Essays on Paul, 1978 - 2013  N.T. Wright (Fortress) $69.00  This is a major release in its own right, a supplemental volume to the previously listed one, a collection of essays, articles, talks and studies, some of which have never been in print before (others were in anthologies compiled by other scholars or in rare scholarly journals.)  I've read a few of these and this is a volume worth having!  Again, we are offering this at an extra discounted price of 30% off.








Tstory of god - sermon.jpghe Story of God Bible Commentary: Sermon on the Mount  Scott McKnight (Zondervan) $29.99  Scott McKnight and Tremper Longman III are the general editors of this very interesting new series -- this is the second one so far (Philippians by Lyne Cohick released not long ago)  -- which offers not only careful exegesis of the given Biblical texts, but attempts to place the Bible book in the bigger picture of the unfolding Scriptural story, the story of God's redemptive plan for the planet, and moving us towards application.  These are no dry old-school commentaries. Each Biblical passage is explored in three easy-to-use sections: "Listen to the Story," "Explain the Story," and "Live the Story."  John Ortberg says "it makes the text sing and helps us hear the story afresh."  I am very interested in this method and approach; and who wouldn't like to read what McKnight says about the Sermon on the Mount? This is very, very useful.


Hholy luck.jpgoly Luck Eugene H. Peterson (Eerdmans) $12.00 Imagine a small, square sized paperback with handsome french flaps, less than a hundred pages, the kind of book you just want to hold, to behold, one you read slowly, carefully -- sometimes with joy and vigor, or with meditative pondering. This is the first-ever collection of the poems of pastor Peterson.  A few of us have been very honored to have seen a few of these over the years.  Others  of us have heard of them, or seen the rare one in Christian Century or somewhere. Here, finally:  seventy poems, offered in three sections. The portion called "Holy Luck" includes poems arising out of the Beatitudes.  "The Rustling Grass" section includes poems opening up Kingdom realities through particular created things and "Smooth Stones" offer occasional poems about discovering significance in life's details encountered while following Jesus.  Enjoy these as the artful wordplay they are, but know that they are also well-suited for devotional use, could be used in classes or workshops, maybe even in sermons.  Highly recommended.



Ttt.jpgalking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank about Faith  edited by Erin Lane and Enuma Okoro (White Cloud Press) $16.95  This has gotten some nice buzz on the internet, but being from a small indie press, you may not have heard of it.  We are thrilled to stock it as it is the kind of book that many will enjoy, many will be nodding their heads in agreement (or rubbing their eyes in astonishment.) It makes for very moving reading, and it is good to hear folks as they "speak for themselves." (The publisher has a few others in this series, with Muslim men and women, each given a platform to tell their own stories.) There are all kinds of women here, from various Christian traditions (mainline, Catholic, Orthodox, evangelical, Quaker, Pentecostal, etc.) and various races and ethnicities and social backgrounds.  You may know co-editor Enuma Okoro, whose Reluctant Pilgrim memoir we touted and whose work with Shane Claiborne on the Common Prayer project has been so important.  We've got a number of friends who are in here, and others whose work we know, women whose writing has been a blessing and challenge.  From Julie Clawson to Amy Julia Becker, Rachel Marie Stone to Andre Palpant Dilley, there are a number of excellent young writers whose work we so appreciate. (I just sent out on facebook the other day a powerful piece on breast cancer and the color pink by Sarah Thebarge.  She is the author of Invisible Girls, and she is in here, too.) Others here are new to us, and some are very, very good writers.  These essays are candid, speaking of everything from menstruation to church leadership, from sex to spirituality.  Jenny Hwang Yang (author of the very good book on immigration, Welcoming the Stranger) writes about "Being a Voice for the Stranger" and Rev. Rebecca Clark has a chapter called "The Pastor Has Breasts."  Carol Howard Merritt  is here, as is Amy Frykholm, two writers whose names you might know.  We are most happy, though, that a long-time friend, with college-era connections to the CCO, Tara Woodard-Lehman, has a wonderful, wonderful chapter. When she talks about her Western Pennsylvania town, I know exactly what she is talking about, and she and I have chatted in that very town so many years ago.  Tara is a vibrant Presbyterian pastor in Princeton, and her very well-told journey, like all those told in this fascinating anthology, is essentially testimony.  God is alive and well, despite all, in and through these sisters in faith.  It is frank, it is at times painful, and the mix of styles and traditions and perspectives might take your breath away.  I hope so.  It's that kind of book.


Tthe prod.jpghe Prodigal: A Ragamuffin Story  Brennan Manning & Greg Garrett (Zondervan) $15.99  Speaking of publishing events and much-anticipated books, this is the novel that dear Brennan Manning was working on at the time of his death earlier this year.  A contemporary, powerful retelling of the Prodigal Son parable, it is his last work, his last words, and we should be very grateful that the very good writer Greg Garrett was commissioned to finish it with and for him.  Those of us who had the privilege of meeting Brennan will never forget him.  His extraordinary books such as Ragamuffin Gospel (and its brilliant sequel, Ruthless Trust) The Signature of Jesus or Abba's Child know that he was a man in need of grace, who fiercely and tenderly helped us all realize that we are the beloved of God.  What a story this will be, about forgiveness and transformation.  There is a new Ragamuffin Study Bible, too with "meditations for the beat up and bedraggled, bet up and brokenhearted" -- with that cool red door on it -- that is laden with quotes and insights from Fr. Manning.




Lluminous.jpguminous: Living the Presence and Power of Jesus  T. David Beck (IVP/formatio) $16.00 I love Mark Scandrette's blurb, "Suggest the dangerously bright possibility that we can be tuned into and turned on by the same light that illuminates the whole universe with the love of God."  Many of us have been drawn to -- and get a lot of milage when speaking -- about the classic Practicing the Presence of God.  I hear Beck is like a modern-day Brother Lawrence, who has lived well with God in the messy details of life.  In this upcoming season of reflecting on the incarnation, this book could be a perfect companion. That it is on the IVP imprint "formatio" is a great indication of the quality of the writing.  I can't wait to read this myself, and I'm sure you will find it to be an exceptional book.  Why not get one for your small group, or a prayer partner?




YYes, And..jpges, And... Daily Meditations  Fr. Richard Rohr (Franciscan Media) $24.99  There have been other daily devotionals by the esteemed priest and they have been good. We love this writer who has such a knack for wedding the journey inward and the journey outward, the contemplative and the activist strains of Christian discipleship.  This one, though, draws from all of his previous works (including some recorded lectures), and is arranged in an intentional and thoughtful way.  It is a big, sturdy hardback and has a year's worth of reflections. Includes an impressive forward by Protestant David Benner, which is nice to see. 






Aguide to all who walk with god.jpg Guide to Prayer for All Who Walk with God  Rueben Jobs (The Upper Room) $32.00  You hopefully know his other best selling devotional guides that are arranged with liturgical rhythms, offering daily Scripture,  prayers, and carefully selected  excerpts of meditative readings for each day, arranged around weekly themes.  There is the red one, the blue one, and the green one.  This one is in a richly handsome black leather --  all new, but arranged just like the others.






Sstitches.jpgtitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair  Anne Lamott (Riverhead) $17.95  One advanced reader said this is the best thing she's written in years.  She ruminates on stuff like this: "Where is the meaning in the meteoric passage of time, the speed in which our lives are spent? Where is meaning in the pits? In the suffering? I think these questions are worth asking."  Or, "what do  we do when life lurches out of balance?" She is a good writer, a compassionate one, and very,  very interesting.  Brief, nicely printed (with colored ink) it would make a great little gift for someone who wants allusive, funny, and candid memoir and essay.









iigods.jpgGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives  Craig Detweiler (Brazos) $17.99  Yes, there is a whole chapter on amazon, and yes I tweeted a cryptic comment last week about how dumb a line or two were, and how I disapproved.  And I'm still mad about it. But, still, Detweiler is a really good guy, this is a very up-to-date and truly interesting read, and he offers important ways to "interact with major symbols, or iGods, of our distracted age to investigate the impact of the technologies and cultural phenomena that drive us." Heaven knows we need more serious "sons and daughters of Issachar (I Chronicles 12:32) that "understand the times" and help us think critically about what is going on in our day and age.  There are great blurbs, too -- Q Schultze says it is a "wonderfully engaging romp...a splendid contribution." Craig's old colleague at Fuller, Robert Johnston. says that he is "one of the best at interlacing theology and popular culture.... it will inform both addict and skeptic."  The digital age is fully upon us (as if you didn't know) and many of us daily bless the apple folks for their istuff.  I am one of them, or I would be if I knew more. This book will help us figure it all out.  I think it is one of the best yet in this genre of very contemporary cultural criticism, with what promises to be a wise blend of being appreciative and dubious, or as one reviewer said neither "succumbing to the avalanche or rejecting it outright."  I suspect you need this book, and if you think you don't you really do.  Highly recommended. 


Jj to j.jpgourney Toward Justice: Personal Encounters in the Global South  Nicholas P. Wolterstorff (Baker Academic) $21.99  I know, Nicholas Wolterstorff is a world class, prestigious philosopher whose academic books carry extraordinarily rigorous thinking (and especially salty price tags.) This is Nic a bit more accessible, sharing his own heart, of how his encounters with injustice -- most notably in Palestine and in apartheid era South Africa -- effected his faith and, more so, his own scholarly vocation.  The passionate endorsements on the back are from vital voices for peace and justice, from Stanley Hauerwas to Richard Mouw, Bethany Hoang (of IJM) to Miroslav Volf, who writes, "If you have not read Wolterstorff's great books on justice, you should.  This book -- accessible and profound -- is the easiest place to start."  What an honor to carry such a book by an esteemed Reformed scholar, narrating firsthand how the realities of human suffering color his work as a political philosopher, an academic, professor, and human being.  Not to be missed.




Ffaith forward.jpgaith Forward: A Dialogue on Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity  Edited by David Csinos and Melvin Bray  (CopperHouse/Wood Lake Publishing) $29.99  I have really been eager for this, know a few of the contributors, and wished I could have attended the gathering from which the essays were drawn.  You surely know about the "new kind of Christianity" that is being discussed among post-evangelicals and newly ecumenical folk like Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, and those who are called "emergents."  One need not fully embrace this multi-layered and diverse movement to be interested and we all should be glad for the way they are asking questions, probing and re-imagining how faith can be practiced with integrity in our broken world.  We are glad that many of these folk embrace, or so it seems, the best of evangelicalism -- heralding good news of God's love based on the gracious work of Christ, joined with a wholistic and socially engaged sort of radical discipleship with a heart to be inclusive and hospitable, hearing voices on the margins, and also embodying some of the more typical sensibilities from the older-school mainline and liturgical churches.  This book is about children and youth ministry and asks big questions about how to share the emerging vision of the reign of God with little ones, pondering the joys and contemporary complexities about Christian education, family ministry, the role of women and men, and any number of important (if controversial) matters.  The many essays in this book bring a lot to the table, and I'll be reviewing it more carefully as I am able -- there are 21 serious chapters, written by newer evangelicals like Ivy Beckwith and older Episcopalians like John Westerhoff.  Kudos to David and Melvin for accomplishing the daunting task of bringing the talks and papers from the original conference into a lively and coherent book.  If you work in church-based education, children's ministry, or care about families, youth, and/or young adults, this is a must. Blurbs on the back include great endorsements from Lutheran Seminary prof Andrew Root, contemplative Quaker Parker Palmer, Jeremiah Wright, the pastor emeritus of Trinity UCC (who has widely written on family life), Presbyterian educator Liz Caldwell, and of course, from Phyllis Tickle.  Jim Wallis has a nice blurb (his wife Joy has a chapter), Shane Claiborne wrote a forward, there is a rave endorsement by old timey civil rights leader, the ever vibrant Vincent Harding. We haven't seen a book like this in a very long while, and think it will be stimulating. Agree or not with all their conclusions, you should join their conversation.


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November 12, 2013

DEEP DISCOUNTS/BIG SALE: BOOKS SOLD AT REDEEMER FAITH & WORK CONFERENCE

After a splendid whirlwind trip to Montreat College in the breathtaking mountains of Western North Carolina where I had the great privilege of talking about the integration of faith and learning, new initiatives within the college to emphasize vocation, calling, and work, and how faculty and others can mentor students into the radical practices of Kingdom living in all areas of life, I flew home, packed up the van, and heading into the equally breathtaking concrete canyons of mid-town Manhattan.   

While I was on the road we lost the largest sale of our 31 year career due to, I am convinced, humanizing work stage.jpga scurrilous bit of hanky-panky from a publisher and a well-known Christian author.  Ironically, we were heading to New York to sell books at the esteemed Redeemer Presbyterian's Center for Faith & Work's annual conference, this year around the theme of Humanizing Work.  Yes, there would be calls to better business ethics and reform of the world of work in a greedy commodity culture.  The contrast between the idealistic students and teachers at a rural Christian college and the sophisticated fast-paced texture of the New York culture-makers, and the real-world, back-home violation of basic rules of retail publishing, made my head spin.

So we need this stuff, learning to make the world a better place, not Playing God as Andy Crouch's very important new book on power warns, but truly taking up Christ's ways of love for neighbor by promoting, as Rev. Timothy Keller put it in a good keynote, human flourishing by strengthening the common good.  From the inspiring "lead from the heart" presentation by leadership consultant Mark Crowley (maybe you've seen his essays in Fast Company) to thebook browsing at CFW by stage.jpg passionate neo-Calvinist preaching of Anthony Bradley, from the amazingly helpful and wonderful presentation by Nancy Ortberg to the informative overview of the history of the faith and work movement and an up-to-the-minute report by David W. Miller of the Princeton University Faith & Work Initiative, we heard great, great, speakers inspiring us to join God's redemptive purposes in the world by taking  up the call to integrate faith and work.  There were dozens of workshops, interviews, panels, artists, musicians and experiential glimpses into creative stuff which celebrates the human and humane - from farm to table chefs to high financiers working to understand the indices in normative ways to architects, designers, retailers, teachers, elected officials, engineers. Their faith-inspired intuitions and bold experiments were remarkable and these folks were stimulating to talk with.

Some participants knew they needed to do a bit more intellectual heavy lifting to deepen the theoretical foundation for what they do and were glad to see our books.  Many of the attendants were eager to learn that there were titles about their respective fields and everybody complimented us on bringing - curating, as they say - an array of titles, Christian and otherwise, that can help one understand the history of one's field, and the unique quandaries facing Christ-followers and others of good will in this day and age. Each of our spheres of influence and job-sites and institutions offer unique challenges and opportunities and folks were thinking hard and praying specifically for vision and wisdom in their particular callings. That is, they were eager to read Christian books about medicine, teaching, economics, art, music, theater, about computer technology, about racial justice, about urban planning, about politics and clothing and food and farming and journalism.  From the sciences to the liberal arts, from history to mathematics, we heralded books to help equip, as some put it, the laity. The people of God serving missionally by thinking Christianly, in the world but not of it, career area by career area.

In other words, these folks discovered a central part of the selection of Hearts & Minds, and we told many about our (admittedly feeble and in need of updating) Books by Vocation annotated bibliography.  

As is often the case, some books sold out, and others didn't sell as we thought.  Some great speakers hit a home run, but their books didn't sell because they presented late in the day, and there wasn't time to shop after their talks.  Some I intended to plug from up front, but didn't. Yeah, we have a few piles of some left over.  So it goes.

Which means that we have some books we'd rather sell to you almost at cost and will offer some good discounts here, now.  Inventory clearance, you know.

FIRST SOME THAT SOLD WELL (20% OFF HERE NOW)

But first, a list of books that sold well at the conference.  Thought you'd enjoy knowing, making sure you are aware of the best.  We list the regular prices, but will deduct the savings when you order. We will continue to have them at a good BookNotes discount -- 20% off.

AND SOME AT EXTRAORDINARY SAVINGS FOR YOU THIS WEEK ONLY

And then these others, further down, are offered for one week only at deep discounts.  I'm convinced these are truly stellar titles, and you can't get a better price on fresh new copies anywhere.  I hope you appreciate this offer, but it only lasts until November 20th, 2013.  Order 'em now, while supplies last.


A FEW WHICH SOLD WELL  -- NOW AT 20% OFF

Tthe call.jpghe Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life  Os Guinness (Nelson) $17.99  I say this all the time, but it is still one of my all-time favorite books, a wonderfully written, truly informative, game-changing set of reflections on Christ's call and our response, in discipleship and in our various vocations and callings.  Take a lookie here at our big list from a year ago on callling and work and see if any others on this foundational theme call out to you.  Everybody should read something on this topic and if you haven't now is the time.  These dry bones are arising!  Many of these books, by the way, draw on Os and cite his eloquent work.  


Wwork matters smaller.gifork Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work  Tom Nelson (Crossway) $15.99 Again, this is a recent gem, a soon to be modern classic, accessible and upbeat, telling the tale of a pastor who started preaching about these themes, equipping the folk in his church to take their faith into their jobs, offices, schools and businesses.  There are splendid sidebars, stories of others who have thought Christianly and creatively about the culture-making implications of their work in architecture, sales, education, lawyering, and more.  There are other books on the joys and sorrows of work, but this is the best place to begin.  Very highly recommended.



Pplaying god.jpglaying God: Redeeming the Gift of Power Andy Crouch (IVP) $25.00  I guess you know I hinted at my long review of this one last month that it is my pick for my favorite book of 2013.  I said that from the big stage, and sold some, but wished the book display had been stampeded.  Maybe I should have been more authoritative, exercising my cultural power to influence people to buy this thing. Or maybe I don't quite have the power I think I do.  Come on people, humor me, at least.  This book is a winner and you will be wiser and more faithful if you grapple with it.  By the way, I gave a shout out to the seminal Culture Making: Recovering our Creative Calling (IVP; $20.00) which is now out in a handsome paperback.


Eeconomic shalom.jpgconomic Shalom: A Reformed Primer on Faith, Work, and Human Flourishing  John Bolt (Christian's Library Press) $12.99  This volume is the third in a helpful series laying the ground work for a faithful view of work - the first offered a Wesleyan approach, the second a Pentecostal perspective - and it brilliantly unpacks a conservative Calvinist view.  Dr. Bolt is learned and astute, standing especially in the tradition of Dutch Reformed theologians like Herman Bavinck and Abraham Kuyper.  He shows how this robust tradition is a bit different on social policy than others (he even addresses the study of structural economic injustice as presented by the likes of Ron Sider and contrasts his view with more social democratic liberal views of some reformational thinkers.  I haven't read that part cardefully yet, but know it will be stimulating, even if I'm wondering if he is a bit to enamored by so-called free markets.) It has a nice endorsement by Richard Mouw, amd there are interesting discussion questions. Agree or not with all of his approach, this is a significant little book, which, as CFW Director David Kim writes in his forward, is a "primer but not elementary."

Bbusiness-for-the-common-good-a-christian-vision-_publication.jpgusiness For the Common Good: A Christian Vision for the Marketplace   Kenman Wong & Scott Rae (IVP) $24.00 I told people this was a  "step up" in seriousness from the one I promoted from the main stage, Jeffrey Van Dozen's Why God Cares About Business (And What More Needs to be Done) (IVP; $20.00)  These are two must-read books for anyone in business.

By the way, if you are in the world of high finance or interested in a thoughtful, informed Christian view of the global economic crisis, try this book, by a economist (whose other work is published by the world class Oxford University Press) who is also a working pastor in the financial district of London, The Crisis and the Kingdom: Economics, Scripture and the Global Financial Crisis by E. Philip Davis (Wipf & Stock; $18.00) It is fairly brief, accessible, and a powerful analysis.

Sshaping a digital world.jpghaping a Digital World: Faith, Culture, and Computer Technology  Derek Schuurman (IVP)  $18.00 You may recall a huge review essay I wrote that finally got around to saying why this book is the best book on computer technology I've yet seen.  IT guys and computer geeks of all sorts snapped it up after I mentioned it up front.  This really is a must-read for anyone interested in digital culture and thinking in light of "creation/fall/redemption" to get a balanced view of technology. Highly recommended.



Mmaking-difference-christian-educators-in-public-schools-donovan-l-graham-paperback-cover-art.jpgaking a Difference: Christian Educators in the Public Schools  Donovan Graham  (Purposeful Design) $21.99  We go out of our way to order this rather rare book because it is one of the best that is clear, substantive, and practical.  This is a "public school" adaptation of the excellent one for teachers at Christian schools entitled Teaching Redemptively.  Of course we sold a few of Nicole Baker Fulgham's Educating God's Children: What Christian's Can -- and Should -- Do to Improve Public Education for Low-Income Kids (Baker; $17.99.)  The CFW had hosted her for a workshop a few months ago, so many knew her good heart and good proposals.  I've told people that she is the evangelical Jonathan Kozol.


IIt was Good Making Music.jpgt Was Good: Making Music to the Glory of God  edited and compiled by Ned Bustard (Square Halo Books) $24.99 You know that we've pushed this everywhere we could since it released last month.  See my long review, here. I was a bit restrained talking about this one from the big stage since I was running out of time -- if you heard me at Humanizing Work, this was the last one I mentioned, and I quickly shared my delight in it.  It is one of the best of the year, great for anybody who enjoys music, essential for anyone in the field.  With Broadway actors in the crowd we happily sold a few of the helpful Performing the Sacred: Theology and Theater in Dialogue by Todd Johnson & Dale Savidge (Baker; $22.00), of course, and Ian Bradley's fun book You've Got to Have a Dream: The Message of the Musical (WJK; $30.00.)  Obviously.

Hhealth, healing and the church's mission.jpgealth, Healing and the Church's Mission: Biblical Perspectives and Moral Priorities Willard Swartley (IVP) $24.00  We had a dozen different books on health care, healing, wholeness, medicine and the like.  One family doc told me he did his residency here in York, years ago and was influenced by our dear friend Dr. Peter Piper and other evangelical doctors.  Another complimented us on our selection; he had started an urban health care clinic designed for the under-served. He liked that we had Dust and Breath: Faith, Health and Why the Church Should Care About Both by Kendra Hotz and Matthew Mathews (Eerdmans; $14.00) a good telling of the good work of the clinic founded by Dr. Scott Morris in inner city Memphis.) This one by Willard Swartley is a masterpiece, an in-depth study of health in the Bible, by a premier Mennonite New Testament scholar.  Highly recommended.


DEEP DISCOUNTS ON THESE FIVE TITLES.  ONE WEEK ONLY.  

THIS SALE OFFER EXPIRES NOVEMBER 20, 2013 while supplies last

[AFTERWARDS, ASK FOR THE 20% OFF OFFER.]

Eevery good e.jpgvery Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work  Timothy Keller & Katherine Leary Alsdorf (Dutton) $26.95  SALE PRICE $16.50 There is no doubt in my mind that this is the most substantive and important book in the recent spate of books on this urgent topic, most likely the best ever.  If you care at all about this field, you should have this.  If you don't care about this field, I hope you pick this up to be challenged and convinced. If you care about this topic and your pastor doesn't seem to, give him or her a copy.  Buy a few, start a group, read it with others, at church, at college, at work.  Give a few as Christmas gifts  Now is the time, buy this on sale while you can.  Keller, of course, is an excellent, clear, solid writer and a very good thinker.  Katherine Leary Alsdorf who wrote much of this happens to be one of my favorite people, an insightful business woman with extensive corporate experienced, a lover of Christ and a gospel-centered leader. Highly recommended.


Uunleashing power of rubber bands.jpgnleashing the Power of Rubber Bands: Lessons in Non-Linear Leadership Nancy Ortberg (Tyndale) $17.99  SALE PRICE $10.00  This is a very nice book by a great author and speaker, perhaps best known as the wife of famous pastor and author John Ortberg.  She is a great communicator in her own right, and we've often recommended this innovative and fascinating work on leadership.  It is ideal for nearly anyone - college students and rising leaders, women in church or at work or neighborhood, anybody needing to be refreshed in the art of vision casting, managing conflict, nurturing healthy teams.  We were really, really impressed with her and had her presentation not been late in the afternoon, I think we'd have sold a ton of this book.  As it was, folks had to move to their next events in other parts of the city, so we have a bunch, which we are happy to promote here. You will be glad. While supplies last.



Llooking for god.jpgooking for God: An Unexpected Journey Through Tattoos, Tofu and Pronouns  Nancy Ortberg (Tyndale) $14.99 SALE $10.00  Again, we were thrilled to meet Nancy, and were very impressed with her delightfully good talk.  When I read this a few years ago I loved it, realizing it was ideal for a number of different sorts of folks - it is part memoir, part Christian testimony, part an argument for doubt and struggle, especially during her years as a young mom.  She has been through a lot and this creatively done book tells her story, inviting us to pay attention to the details and texture of our daily lives, and respond to the call of the Spirit in the mundane.  I love this stuff, and having met her, now, will revisit this book again myself, soon.  I love books that affirm that "God is in the details" and this collection of well-crafted pieces remind us to find the holy in the ordinary.  This would make a great gift for those who perhaps see themselves as outside of the church, or too cool for organized religion or are needing help in discovering God in the real world.  Very, very nice.

GGod at Work Miller.jpgod at Work: The History and Promise of the Faith at Work Movement David Miller (Oxford University Press) $29.99 SALE PRICE $19.99  I think the cover of this sturdy hardback is a bit too staid -- that Bible and the Wall Street Journal -- and although this is a history of the movement, with tons of social science research, it is nonetheless riveting, a must-read!  Story after story, city after city, workplace after workplace, Miller reports to us of this still not well-known aspect of God's renewal, happening under our noses, in our workplaces, at the end of the 20th century.  He documents the efforts to bring this wholistic gospel of the Kingdom to bear in different modalities and ways into the marketplaces and job sites of our messy, secularized world.  He has a section on Sam Shoemaker's vision about Pittsburgh which lead to our beloved Pittsburgh Experiment (and now Serving Leaders) and documents the generative early work of Laity Lodge. He mentions heroes of mine like William Diehl (who spoke at Jubilee in the 1970s and made a huge impact on me.)  Man, I love this stuff.  Anyone who is a leader in this movement needs to know this history.  If you are not, maybe you would enjoy hearing about the on-going efforts people are being lead into, the organizations, strategies, and visions for marketplace ministry and workplace faithfulness.  Get it now, on sale.  It is important, and Miller is a good, good guy.

Llead from the heart.jpgead from the Heart: Transformational Leadership For the 21st Century Mark C. Crowley (Balboa Press) $13.95 SALE PRICE $10.99  I mentioned this upbeat guy above, and meeting him was a trip - what a story he has of overcoming an abusive childhood, learning to put one foot in front of the other and becoming a hugely successful executive in supervising regional banks and their financial products.  As he grew in deeper insight, he realized that the heart is the heart of the matter and that love shown, encouragement offered, supportive workplaces created, trust enhanced, really does pay off.  He sounds off against financial and social manipulation of employees ("the carrot and the stick") and makes the case that treating others with humanness and care really does work.  He is not suggesting that we manipulate folks to produce more by being nice (although Keller pressed him on that in the conversation time) but is saying (without any Biblical references) what those who advocate for "servant leadership" have long said.  Leading from the heart is where it's at. I felt very glad to meet Mark and glad to talk with him a bit about his journey, his family, his values. 

This is a cool little book and I think it could transform the work-worlds of many.  Since it doesn't use heavy theological language or posit any traditional religion foundations - he actually talks about cardiology! - it would be accessible to those not comfortable with Christian literature. He makes the case, shows the numbers, tells the story. We don't have many left, but wanted you to have a chance of getting them at this extra good price.


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November 18, 2013

SALE: Great resources for "Living in Color" -- books on race, diversity, multi-ethnic ministry and more...

Perhaps you saw on facebook or twitter that I took our books on the road (again) -- this time out to Geneva College in Western PA for a conference on multi-ethnic ministry.  Geneva College, founded before the civil war by the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, was a stop on the underground railroad; their denomination was one of the few which forbade members to hold slaves during that awful era of American history.  

Still, a century and a half later, like most Christian colleges, they struggle to develop a diverse student body and racially sensitive campus culture.  That they hold this annual conference with full support of the administration, student affairs, their Master's Program in Highelivingincolor-logo_03.jpgr Education, their Center for Faith & Practice, indicates that they are working hard at this.  Most CCCU schools are, too, and there were speakers from campuses such as Trinity Christian in Illinois and Messiah College near us here; there were speakers from a multi-racial church in Grand Rapids and some great leaders from Western Pennsylvania. Kudos to Kathy Kinzer Downs and Lamont Downs who are on staff at Geneva and developed this conference with their colleagues and student leaders.  And a big shout-out to CCO whose presence was felt as well. It was a joy to be with them.

I know some who read this Hearts & Minds bookstore blog and order from us are, in fact, employed in higher education.  You know that diversity is a big theme on college campuses. We stock books on various sorts of reforms in higher ed, and we had some at this event.

I also suppose, though, that most  BookNotes readers are situated in ordinary churches. 

Do you ever wonder why most churches seem to have less passion for racial integration and multi-ethnic ministry than do many para-church organizations? I wonder why books on this topic don't sell much, either here in the shop or when we take them on the road to various events and gatherings?  I know there are churches that are eager to be welcoming and inclusive and colorful, who want to reflect the diversity of ethnicities and races that grace God's world (not to mention their own neighborhoods.) Maybe they think they can intuit their way forward, or don't need to read about it, for training or inspiration.

This is important stuff, though, and it only getting more urgent. We all know the statistics and demographics about the increasing racial diversity in the US and the continued erosion of white hegemony.

The times, as they say, are changin' and I thought that even our readers in fairly ordinary small town churches - as well as those in sophisticated urban nonprofits, big organizations and large congregations - might like to know the books we promoted at the Living in Color event.  We had plenty of tables, double-layered shelves, and tons of titles on offer. 

I will describa just a few of what we displayed for that gathering.

To purchase any, just use our linke (below) to the website order form page. If you want to use a credit card it is secure; or give us a call if you'd like. Tell us you saw 'em here and we'll give you the BookNotes discount. (We have the regular prices shown, but will deduct a 20% discount for you.)  If you can think of anyone who is, or should be, passionate about this topic, or any leaders in your church or denomination, we'd love it if you'd share this. We have hundreds of other similar titles - some less complex, some considerably more, some that are historic (keeping the story of the civil rights movement alive) and some that are rather philosophical and some that are quite practical.

We'd be delighted to serve you further in your efforts to be agents of reconciliation and leaders of multi-ethnic ministry.

A FEW GENERAL TITLES WHICH I PROMOTED AT LIVING IN COLOR

Tprodigal.jpghe Prodigal: A Ragamuffin Story Brennan Manning (Zonderan) $15.99  Students know the late Episcopalian priest's Ragamuffin Gospel and many have formed small groups reading Abba's Child; the first is about how God loves us know matter how screwed up we are and the second is about how knowing this - that we are the beloved of God - allows us to be ourselves, to stop playing the imposter, to be in authentic community.  So it seemed good to highlight from up front the novel that Brennan was working on when he died.  One speaker challenged us to be willing to fail in our efforts to be more multi-cultural and there is hardly a book out there about such an epic fail than this story of a pastor who falls and is yet invited Home in a modern retelling of the famous Prodigal Son story.



LLove_Does_240_360_Book.625.cover_-196x300.jpgove Does: Discovering a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World  Bob Goff (Nelson) $15.99  Again, this book isn't about racism or diversity but students know Bob from Jubilee, they know he has done remarkable work for social change and global justice and they know he is as fun as anybody - what a zany storyteller, reminding us that, well, the call to love has to be embodied in real actions.  Love does, get it?  I just had to push it, and was glad I did.  You really ought to read it if you haven't.  Amazing!



Lluminous.jpguminous: Living the Presence And Power of Jesus  T. David Beck (IVP/formatio) $16.00  This is one of my new favorite books on spiritual formation, and seemed to be a very useful book to hold up as an example of a resource that can equip us to be the kind of person who can "let our light shine" in a very hurting world.  I am confident that many will be challenged, equipped, and blessed by this remarkably interesting book.  Lynn Baab says that this book itself is luminous; the Biblical scholar William Abraham (Perkins School of Theology) says it is "written with charm and simplicity" even as Mark Scandrette it is a "dangerously bright possibility.." This is about practicing the presence of God in a Kingdom-centered, missional manner.  Some of the earth-shaking insights of this, by the way, came out of his mission trips to Haiti.  

Bbreaking old rhythms.jpgreaking Old Rhythms: Answering the Call of a Creative God Amena Brown (IVP) $15.00 We love this vibrant spoken word artist, a hip-hop author with a great message for anyone who needs to move faith out of the ordinary and really learn to trust and grow, moving out of safe, boring patterns of religiosity and learn to be used by God in missional efforts, infused with great joy.  I shared this not only because the author is a strong black evangelical woman, but because this book - about trusting God and stepping in lively ways into new patterns of outreach - is exactly what all of us need to be reminded of at times like this. It seemed like a no-brainer to promote and I'm glad to remind you of it here, now.



Pplaying god.jpglaying God: Redeeming the Gift of Power  Andy Crouch (IVP) $25.00  I hope you read my long review of this and I hope you realize why this title would be essential to promote at an event of this nature.  The opening address said the conference wanted to raise up "barrier bustin' leaders" and if we are going to overcome obstacles and reform institutions, we have to take up the question of power.  Anyone in leadership, or anybody doing leadership development and anyone wanting to wield influence with Christ-like humility should grapple with this once-in-a-lifetime kind of book. I highlighted it up from the first night, and re-announced it during my second up-front book plug.  It is that important.


Cchrist in conflict.jpghrist in Conflict: Lessons from Jesus and His Controversies  John Stott (IVP) $16.00  This new, updated edition of this very old John Stott classic was just re-issued, and I couldn't be happier.  I had it at this conference to embolden those who may be resistant to conflict or who aren't sure that we ought to press to hard towards serious claims about justice and inclusion.  Yes, this reminds us that Jesus rocked the boat, caused some discomfort, and thereby points us to ways to be truthful, bold, even as we strive to be guided by grace. This is classic Stott, reasonable, creative, impeccably Biblical, and rooted in the core distinctives of historic Biblical faith.


MMisreading_Scripture_with_Western_Eyes_Removing_Cultural_Blinders_to_Better_Understand_the_Bible-74635.jpgisreading the Bible With Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understanding The Bible E. Randolph Richards & Brandon J. O'Brien (IVP) This is a perfect book to transition from book about spiritual formation and Christian discipleship - the basis for multi-ethnic mission in the church or in organizations - because reading the Bible well is a foundational Christian essential.  And this book not only helps us all learn to understand the Bible better - by exposing misreadings and assumptions we bring ("reading into" the text, we used to say) - but it does this by showing how many of the most common misreadings come from our Western assumptions.  I have reviewed this book previously and insisted it is nothing short of brilliant.  It is interesting, well-written, offering some important insights and some new material even for those of use who have pondered this very matter. You will learn stuff about culture and ethnicity and race and privilege and you will learn about the Bible in its own historic social context.   Highly recommended.

BOOKS ON RACE, DIVERSITY, and CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE

Lliving in color woodley.jpgiving in Color: Embracing God's Passion for Ethnic Diversity  Randy Woodley (IVP) $18.00 Get this great book to anyone wanting a reliable foundation about God's great desire for celebrating multi-ethnic community. It is one of the best, written by a dynamic Native leader. The first section includes chapters on "Understanding Diversity" and the second section explains "Opposition to Diversity" and the final unit has chapters on "Restoration through Diversity." There is a great study guide, too.  It is well worth having, upbeat, culturally aware and spiritually alive. Fantastic!




Ggracism-book.jpgracism: The Art of Inclusion  (IVP) $15.00 The play on words is brilliant, the chapters are truly insightful, and the experiences learned in the crucible of creating an intentionally multi-ethnic church are stimulating and helpful. Basic, clear, positive, and nicely rooted in the core truths of the gospel.  Here's how they describe it: "Building on the apostle Paul's exhortations in 1 Corinthians 12 to honor the weaker member, Anderson presents a biblical model for showing special grace to others on the basis of ethnicity, class or other social distinction. He offers seven sayings of the gracist with practical examples for building bridges and including others. A Christian alternative to secular models of affirmative action or colorblindness, gracism is an opportunity to extend God's grace to people of all backgrounds." How can we see gracism undo racism?  Read this book and you'll know how it can happen in your own place.

Ddisunity in christ.jpgisunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces That Keep Us Apart Christena Cleveland (IVP) $16.00  I promoted this from up front, reading from the back cover, since it just came and I had only skimmed it quickly.  It is without a doubt on my list, as it claims to be an "eye opening book" which explores hidden reasons behind the many sorts of divisions in our local churches.  The author is a trained social psychologist, a woman of color and an award-winning researchers. (And that smile on the cover of her beautiful picture on the back draws me right in.  With a grin like that, she can surely handle hard and complex stiff with joy and a light touch.) She not only studies racial divisions, but explores class and gender, why little differences sometimes become big sources of painful conflict, and why "categorizing others is often automatic and helpful but can also have sinister side effects." She looks at "groupthink" and choices of language which can significantly affect unity. The book offers tools we need to understand how to overcome the hidden forces that divide us. Also, I'm impressed with the theological diversity of those chosen for blurbs on the back.  Not every day does one sees Thabiti Anyabwile, Curtiss Paul DeYoung, Greg Boyd and somebody from McCormick Theological Seminary sharing in their rave reviews. Here is a good interview with her from Vineyard USA that is well worth reading.

Tskin you live in.jpghe Skin You Live In: Building Friendship Across Cultural Lines  David Ireland (NavPress) $14.99  This book is fun for a number of reasons, one of which is that the author works with professional sports teams helping them learn to develop health inter-racial friendship.  (One of the endorsements on the back is from NFL quarterback Kurt Warner.) Dr. Ireleand is senior pastor of a six-thousand member multi-racial congregation in North Jersey (he has completed post-doctoral work at U of Pennsylvania, which is quite prestigious.) This clear, helpful book is a gold-mine of basic, practical guidance helping anyone who wants to be more comfortable when reaching across racial and cultural lines or who is leading a multi-cultural team.  Leave it to Len Sweet to say it best, when he calls it "a primer on cross-cultural relationships that deserves to be heard, heeded, and honored as the primary toccata and fugue of friendship music. You are holding in your hands a genesis gift of stunning originality, creativity and genius."  

Ccultural i book cover.jpgultural Intelligence: Improving Your CQ to Engage Our Multicultural World  David Livermore (Baker) $22.99  We recommend this often, and had a big stack at the conference - it is ideal for beginners who want tons of great information on how to be more aware and effective in diverse cultural settings.  Livermore has written professional books for business executives who travel to other cultures, he has done good books on cultural awareness for youth going on mission trips (Serving with Eyes Wide Open) and this, good for youth workers, campus ministers, or anyone wanting to form the attitudes of those they teach or lead.  The rave reviews of this continue to come in, and we are happy to promote it as a must-have resource for effective ministry.


Mmany colors.jpgany Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church Soong-Chan Rah (Moody Press) $14.99  Some have thought this to be the very best book - good for beginners, but not simplistic or naïve - and it moves from broad cultural exegesis to helpful insights about how to proceed in exploring our own congregational or organizational cultures.  This is a framework that is profoundly Biblical, passionate, and aware of the complexities and pain of a racial history. Rah is a professor of church growth and evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago and is an important scholar and activist.





Llearning from the stranger.jpgearning from the Stranger: Christian Faith and Cultural Diversity David I. Smith (Eerdmans) $22.00  I am fond of David Smith as he has co-authored a great book on teaching foreign languages, he has done some good stuff on education, and he is a brings a profoundly Christian worldview to his thinking.   This is a fascinating, advanced-level book on everything from postmodern scholarship to the elusive meaning of "culture" to the Biblical themes of hospitality and otherness. There are three chapters on Genesis, Luke, and Acts, and then brings together insight from Smith's own experiences.  Ideal, especially, for college students and leaders wanting to bring a Christian perspective to bear on multi-ethnic culture studies into the academy.


Lleading-a-healthy-multi-ethnic-church-seven-common-challenges-and-how-to-overcome-them.jpgeading a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church: Seven Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them  Mark KeYmaz and Harry Li (Zondervan) $18.9  You may have heard of Mosaic Church; these authors have affiliations with spin-off sister congregations (and Erwin McManus has a nice blurb on the back.) Matt Carter of the important Austine Stone Community Church in Austin Texas writes that "Mark DeYmaz, perhaps more than any pastor in America, has his finger on the pulse of what it will take for the church to find reconciliation in our generation."  I don't know how he would know that, but the sentiment speaks volumes: these guys have a huge heart for this and more importantly, have offered hard-won insight about how to do it.  One of the speakers at "Living in Color" said this is the resource he found most helpful in doing this work in his own congregation.  This is an up-close-and-personal look at seven common challenges.  You face these.  This book will help.  This was previously published as Ethnic Blends.

Thidden wound (Berry).jpghe Hidden Wound Wendell Berry (Counterpoint) $15.95  There are a few remarkable localists at Geneva who teach out of the agrarian vision of Mr. Berry and they were glad to see that I had this book on the display table. And why wouldn't we?  Some have said this is one of Berry's best, just so amazingly written, so well-crafted and glorious, with provocative and profound insights about race and land and place and progress and hope.  Granted, the poet Hayden Carruth is a like-minded soul, but listen well to his comment in The Village Voice: "Berry has produced one of the most humane, honest, liberating works of our time. It is a beautiful book.  More than that, it has become at one stroke an essential book. Every American who can read at all should read it." Novelist Larry McMurtry writes in the Washington Post that "the statement it makes is intricate and beautiful, sad but strong."


Ssome of my best friends.jpgome Of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America Tanner Colby (Penguin) $16.00 I pushed this from up front in part because Beth and I so enjoyed it and because it is so well written -- part memoir, part social history -- and because it seems so very wise. It is clear about the failures of the grand liberal projects of the last 40 years. With great journalistic verve, this fun book exposes the structural/systemic issues or racism, a story too many of us still don't quite get, even as he looks at the unintended consequences of the policies designed to alleviate institutional racism. (He tells of the injustices and complex scenarios in Southern urban education, in real estate and housing in the Mid-West, and in professions of Madison Avenue in New York City.) I have reviewed this a time or two previously and remain convinced that you should get it; it is a great read!

Tnew jim crow.jpghe New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness  Michelle Alexander (The New Press) $19.95 There is a reason is is considered "an instant classic" (Cornel West) and "devastating" by Forbes Magazine and "stunning" by Pultizer-Prize winning historian David Levering Lewis. To have the sinful inequities of how people of color are treated by police and in sentencing (in contrast to white people picked up and then indicted for the exact same crime) so documented makes this one of the most alarming books I have ever read. I assume you have heard of it. 




Aaliens in the promised land.jpgliens in the Promised Land: Why Minority Leadership Is Overlooked in White Christian Churches and Institutions edited by Dr. Anthony B. Bradley (P&R) $16.00 This is a very important book and one some of us - many who read this blog, I'd think - need to read.  As John Frame says, "This is a terrific book...a game changer...If you are tired of the usual arguments about race, as I am, this book will take you up with some new ideas."  Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman writes that it "prophetically addresses the issues connected to evangelicalism and minorities.  Everyone, particularly church leaders, need to read this book."  Although I think it should be read widely, it is situated among conservative, mostly (but not exclusively) Reformed thinkers, and chapters are by a variety of multi-ethnic pastors, church planters, denominational executives, seminary profs and others.   Here are Amos Young, Harold Dean Trulear, Vincent Bacote, Orlando Rivera, Carl Ellis, and other strong men with much to say. The book is dedicated to New City Fellowship in Chattanooga, which I first learned about from old friend, singer James Ward.  Nice!

Bbirmingham revolt.jpgirmingham Revolution: Martin Luther King Jr's Epic Challenge to the Church  Edward Gilbreath (IVP) $16.00 We had a bunch of books on the civil rights era (perhaps you saw my previous list from last summer) and we were glad that Geneva offers a civil rights tour that visits historic sites in the deep south, so there are those there who have learned about that storied part of our history. I am sad when there isn't much interest in the writings of King that have come to mean so much to me, but we continue to promote them.  Here is a brand new book that I have not even glanced at yet, but it will be a joy to read, soon.  Gilbreath wrote an important and good work called Reconciliation Blues: A Black Evangelical's Inside View of White Christianity (and is an editor at large for Christianity Today.) So we know he is a splendid journalist and good, serious writer.  Not enough is known about the back story and historical situation that gave rise to Martin Luther King's famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and this may be the best book yet on this remarkable, and now iconic event.  I trust what Curtiss Paul DeYoung writes, who says, "Edward Gilbreath has provided us with a truly magnificent look at Martlin Luther King, Jr. and the Birmingham civil rights campaign...Those new to King will be intrigued, informed, and inspired. Those very familiar with King and the events in Birmingham will gain fresh and engaging insights. Birmingham Revolution is a must read."

Mmore than serving tea.jpgore Than Serving Tea: Asian American Women on Expectations, Relationships, Leadership and Faith Nikkie Toyama & Tracey Gee, Jeanette Yep, and others editors (IVP) $16.00 This is such a great resource, written by a variety of Asian American evangelical women with various concerns and reflections and advice -- powerful stuff.  The writing is really fascinating and at times quite poignant.  A must.  We have other resources by, for or on Asian American theology and ministry, too.  





Llatino americans.jpgatino Americans: The 500-Year Legacy That Shaped a Nation  Ray Suarez (Penguin) $18.00  We were once honored to sit next to Suarez at a book signing gig at the National Press Club, and he was a gem. He is a senior correspondent at PBS Newshour and this new work is a companion to the PBS Documentary series by the same name.  It looks tremendous.  By the way, for the record, you should know of the best entry level book on this topic, one of the few that is solidly evangelical, Being Latino in Christ: Finding Wholeness in Your Ethnic Identity by our friend (IVP; $16.00.)  Both of these are highly recommended, although we have many others by, for or about Latino ministry.



Frfrom ts to tbt.jpgom Times Square to Timbuktu: The Post-Christian West Meets the Non-Western Church  Wesley Granberg-Michaelson (Eerdmans) $20.00 This is one of the handful of books that I will surely declare as one of the most important of 2013 -- I regret not having been able to describe it more thoroughly here, yet.  The author is an amazing, ecumenical leader and I hope you know his remarkable memoir, surprisingly germane to this topic, even, Unexpected Destinations: An Evangelical Pilgrimage to World Christianity (Eerdmans; $24.00.) In this new one, Wes takes the conversation about global Christianity a huge step further with a sustained look at how immigration and patterns of migration are bringing two-thirds world Christians and their unique theologies and church practices to our doorstep.  Yes, the demographic center of gravity is for the first time in church history no longer Western.  But the people and faith practices of those multi-ethic folk aren't just a curiosity for those that study world missions, it is effecting the texture of most cities in America and nearly every denomination.  This is a grand and great book for those that have eyes to see.  And what a great title, with such a great cover!  Wes' old friend Jim Wallis writes, "This is the most important book anyone can read about the future of the church." You should check it out.

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November 22, 2013

In Search of Deep Faith: A Pilgrimage into the Beauty, Goodness and Heart of Christianity 20% OFF

Through a small bit of providence that isn't at all important, two years ago I happened to be with author, pastor, seminary teacher, honest dad, and all around good guy, Jim Belcher, a day or so before he went to study abroad.  We were at an event sponsored by the Center for Public Justice in DC and of course we had a book display there.  We visited briefly as he moved a ton of stuff in to an apartment there and it was obvious that he and his fam hadn't packed just for the little conference, but that they were soon heading out on a year-long adventure. A very big adventure.

Lin search of deep faith .jpgittle did I know (and I suspect the Belcher's didn't either) that his study year was going to be so adventurous or life-changing or that a major book would come from their journey, an amazing new work that our mutual friend Steve Garber has called "a Pilgrim's Progress for the twenty-first century."  The resulting book is called In Search of Deep Faith: A Pilgrimage into the Beauty, Goodness and Heart of Christianity (IVP; regularly $17.00, on sale here for $13.60.) As Garber's hint and the subtitle suggests, it really is a travelogue through the ups and downs of faith, explored while studying at Oxford and during an extended family trip throughout Europe.

Unlike Bunyan, though, Mr. Belcher is narrating a real trip, and it isn't just a story of basic, personal, Christian growth; it is a real pilgrimage to places that were somehow instrumental in his own life - settings and sites of authors whose important insights and phases of growth significantly shaped his own faith journey--- as he tries to share the significance of those places to his wife and children. He had it in his head that he just had to visit some of the real spots where some of the pivotal books were written or where some of his life's hero lived or died. A neat idea, no?

In Search of Deep Faith tells of revisiting key ideas and insights from his earlier discipleship by way of actually visiting the sites of the authors whose books so influenced him.  By literally going on a European sabbatical to visit places and revisit ideas, this memoir is not only a great narrative of a guy seeking refreshment and a rekindling of heart and mind, but an extraordinarily guide to important bits of church history, important cultural leaders or social reformers, and, often, very important Christian books.

To be clear, In Search of Deep Faith tells the story of Belcher and his wife taking their children to visit places like the spot in London where Church of England reformer Cramner was imprisoned and eventually burned at the stake; over in Oxford they visit the Eagle and the Child, the pub beloved in Lewis & Tolkien lore; they seek out the out-of-the-way place of the underground seminary founded by Bonhoeffer and well as the terrible death camp where he was killed.  Some of this is very moving (how could it not be, telling of walking through the gas chambers, or visiting the home where Corrie Ten Boom's family hid Jews from the Nazis?)  But there are delightful stops as well such as when they visit the beloved Von Trapp home, exploring the real story behind The Sound of Music And despite the heavy and heartbreaking backstory, their visit in Holland to the Vincent Van Gogh home and the search there for "broken beauty" is just wonderful. What a good guide he is as he introduces us to rich and thoughtful people and their stories.  This is a great book!

I know I have been exuberant in praise for several other spectacular and vitally important books this season, but I trust you know I am not just being temperamentally enthusiastic or overly opportunistic,  just trying to make some quick sales.  If I wanted to blow smoke about a book to garner favor or finances, I could pick one a little less complicated and easier to promote to the masses.  Joel Olsteen, John Spong, or the latest inspirational romance or political tirade could be pitched in simplistic and profitable ways.  We could be much more profitable if we pushed the most popular items, pandering to this market or that.

No, we are trying here to explain books that are truly important, helpful, wise, and good,  but also pleasurable to read, book that can nurture the sorts of reading habits that we feel are truly best.  Belcher's In Search of Deep Faith is exactly the kind of book we most want to promote - it is ecumenical, well-written, nicely educational, warm, and spiritually-mature. His view of "deep" is deeply rooted in historic and evangelical faith, not in an arcane or heavy sense. His search, and the book about it, would be great for those who are young in faith although will be more appreciated by somewhat older folk, those who are in perhaps a mid-life season of searching. I like the blurb by his friend Tullian Tchividjian who says it is a "probing and provocative adventure into the robust realism of the Christian faith"

Mr. Belcher is a fascinating guy (you should know his book Deep Church, which is an open-minded but orthodox, Reformed conversation with the emergent movement) and here he isjim-belcher_web.jpg introducing us to people and places and practices that are not only interesting to read about, but also are truly commendable and beneficial.  It is solid and meaty without being obtuse or dry.  Did I say I want to be exuberant in my praise?  For Hearts & Minds friends and fans, it is surely one of the great book choices of the year.  So, yes, indeed, I want to encourage you to buy it, to give it, to discuss it, to explore what it may offer in your own life.  In Search of A Deep Faith: A Pilgrimage into the Beauty, Goodness and Heart of Christianity is a fine, fine book.

There are three aspects of this book that strike me as particularly unique and helpful. I could describe every chapter, sharing what I learned, or what moved me (as much of it truly did) but allow me to highlight just three themes.

Firstly, there is the really good information here about nearly a dozen important figures, and Jim's passion for visiting their haunts, relearning their lessons (sometimes by re-reading their books in the location in which they were written) and telling his children about their significance makes for a great learning experience. I don't think there is hardly a reader anywhere who won't come away having learned something new; most religious readers will come away inspired and challenged as well.

He looks at pilgrims and martyrs in old London, and the more recent story of Sheldon Vanauken (which is powerfully told in the splendid book about his conversion, marriage to Davey, her subsequent death, and his correspondence with C.S. Lewis called A Severe Mercy.) In a bit of a surprise he unpacks the story of Jekyll and Hyde (what a chapter!) He is strong on heroic leaders, and has a great chapter on the call and work of William Wilberforce; he beautifully describes his visit to Le Chambon, France, where they meet the descendants of the Andre Trocme family. (By the way, I don't know if Belcher learned about Trocme from his time years ago when he had Steve Garber as a teacher, who may have bought it from us, but I know I was promoting Phillip Hallie's brilliant Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed: The Story of Le Chambon and How Goodness Happened There in those years, so I feel nearly proud that he knew that book and was moved enough by it to revisit that remarkable story. Trocme has been important to me since I read him in the 70s as an apologist for Biblical nonviolence. It wasn't until reading Hallie that I knew his story.)

These and so many more good pieces on fascinating people and good authors make In Search of...  a splendid education on moral formation and the complexities of Christian living just by introducing us to people and places and stories where faith was discovered, deepened and lived out.

belcher fam.jpgSecondly, there is this really nice sub-plot running through the whole book, a sub-plot that makes it all so very real: he is on this road trip with his family, after all, including four children, and it is his plan to teach his children well.  If you have had children and educational goals even mildly similar to the Belcher's grand vision, you know that, well, it ain't easy.  Kids get cranky, parents get cranky, weather turns bad, moving episodes are altered by something unexpectedly funny, and fun stuff is ruined by something distracting. You know.  Thoughtful Christian parents who are self-reflective, sometimes wonder if they are pushing their kids enough or (in this case) too much. 

This isn't exactly a handbook on the spiritual formation of children, but, in a narrative style, telling of their often trying, sometimes mundane, occasionally thrilling experiences as a family on-the-road, In Search Of Deep Faith could almost be called "In Search of Deep Faith For Me and My Kids."  Jim is quite candid in the book about his dreams for his marriage and family, and we'd all be wiser if we had these kinds of hopes and made such intentional efforts to help our children grapple with the biggest questions of life, in the deepest ways possible for their own ages and stages on the journey. I think this is, surprisingly, the best parenting book I've read in quite a while. 

(Honest aside: as much as I like this and know Jim and his wife are the real deal, there were a just few times when I had to scratch my head just a bit. Really?  Your kids put up with you saying that, and you pulled off taking them there, and your family devotions really were that meaningful? I'm glad that there were some awkward failures and at times serious doubts and that the family foibles were well-documented, which gave it the real ring of truth.)

Thirdly. I can't quite put this into clear words, but I sense in the reading of this book a rare blend of ideas and practices, of theology and daily living, of learning and life.  The book is seamlessly integrated - the memoir style helps  - as the author shifts from teaching us about, say, the power of story by way of Lewis or "Heidelberg and Normandy: Lessons from the Castle and the Cliff" to his own honest struggles to incorporate these truths into his own life.

The book is only partially about rediscovering spiritual roots, getting refreshed by revisiting earlier influences. As Part Two puts it, the search includes explorations of "Life as a Journey and the Need for a Map."  That is, it seems the book is about -- in the best sense of the word! --  worldview formation.  It is about discerning meaning and purpose, real struggle and growing faith, about living into truth and by grace, gaining patterns of belief and life that give witness to hope. I really do appreciate the evangelical good news of this, but also the vision of life lived for the common good, in ways that are beautiful and honest and true.

The epilogue, about their return to take up a teaching position in South Florida, is not a simple coda, but is itself an important rumination on the meaning of all of this for daily life back in the "real world."  He updates us on stuff going on in the family, in the lives of the children, and invites us all to the metaphor of journey and pilgrimage. (Yes, he wonderfully uses Frodo's poem, "the road goes ever on...") 

In other words, the practical nature of this story, well written and profound as it often is, means it really is a book that can assist you in your faith and life. Having read the book, we have traveled along with the Belcher family, looking over their shoulder as they've lived and learned and processed and prayed. And you will be better for it. 

As Kara Powell of the Fuller Youth Institute writes, "Chapter by chapter, Jim takes you and your family on a practical theology pilgrimage that will expand your vision for Christ-centered living.  You'll be thinking about it and talking about it long after you finish the final page."

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November 26, 2013

A THANKSGIVING MEDITATION: GRATEFUL FOR PUBLISHERS, AUTHORS, READERS (and more.)

Recently several friends have been posting on facebook things for which they are thankful.  Reading some of these has been inspiring and at times poignant. Even in the naming of obvious and mundane blessings, something profoundly good is going on. It's a good discipline for any time, and certainly for this season.

You read this BookNotes blog, though, not to learn about me and my personal life, but because you arepicture of storefront.jpg part of a community of folks who support Hearts & Minds. This is a book review blog offered by a retail shop, trying to garner your business as we serve you with information and the opportunity to buy good books. So, although we in the Borger household have a lot for which to be thankful, even in this hard year, this post is offered for those who care about the story of Hearts & Minds.  I hope you don't mind a rumination on our gratitude for those who make this thing work.

Most obviously, there is a confluence of publishers, editors, marketers, sales representatives, and investors who run these institutions, most often themselves businesses, called publishing houses. Despite the odd phenomenon of self-publishing (I'm generally not a fan) most writers wouldn't be known or their work widely read if it weren't for the publishing industry and the amazingly talented folks who serve there.  We should be glad for these houses and pray for those who serve behind the scenes.

But, of course, the publishers wouldn't have much to do if there were no authors of worth. Let's hear it for those who practice the disciplined craft of good writing, gifting us with their use of words and their exploration of ideas. (And while I'm building this head of steam, let's just note that there wouldn't be that many good writers if there weren't good teachers inspiring students to become young scholars, authors, wordsmiths, artists. Or, as the case may be, really bad schools and boring teachers who so frustrate bright kids who push themselves to get the hell outta there and make something serious of themselves. I hope you know Taylor Mali's feisty little book What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World that reminds us of the importance of valuing good teachers.)  

So, we raise our voices to thank God for teachers and mentors, writers and scholars, publishers and editors, advertisers and reviewers, and all of those who help get the printed page into our hands.

Which brings me to bookstores and the staff who work in settings that sell books -- places thatAskaBookseller_graphic_0.gif are rarely as glamorous or fun as you might think. (No, we don't sit around drinking herbal tea and reading all day, nor do we have time to chat endlessly about the latest American Book Award winner or ponder the wisdom of the latest theological fad. We've got sidewalks to sweep, bathrooms to clean, boxes to unpack, damaged stuff to return, orders to track, lost shipments to find, donations to make, oddball titles to locate, bills to collect. And that's just before we open for the day.) 

I hope you join me in offering prayers for bookstores everywhere - this is not the time or place to lament our lot in life, in this age of dwindling profits, big box stores and faceless internet sites who have captured the public's dollars if not always their hearts.  Times are tough, but we remain glad -- for rewarding work, for stimulating colleagues, for often fabulously loyal customers, for the excitement of being in on very important stuff. We believe more than ever that books can change lives and impact our communities, and we are honored to play a role in helping shape the moral imagination and lives of our customers.  We are indeed thankful for this great privilege that is entrusted to us, and hope you know how glad we are about it all.

And we know we are not alone.  We take courage from books like My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop edited by Ronald Rice -- with a powerful introduction by novelist Richard Russo, which tells the stories of many indie book shops. It came out earlier this year andMyBookstore.jpg we've been delighted to show it off -- it is good to be reminded that some of the best authors in the country themselves are loyal to brick and mortar, real places.  I will most likely never visit these intriguing stores, but it is fun to read about them, and inspiring for any bookstore lover.

We are very thankful for our own staff (who seem like family) who you may or may not know: frontliners Amy and Patti and Kimberly, mail-out queen extraordinaire, Diana, and the financial whiz who keeps the ship afloat, Robin. And the backroom Bichon, Aurora. (I think of the God-praising poem "Aurora Leigh" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but our daughter was thinking of Rory from the Gilmore Girls when she named her.)  Beth and I are so grateful for this good team of friends who work here to serve our customers. Our own dreams and vocations of doing this ministry couldn't be realized without them.

I hope you know where this is going, though: publishers, editors, authors, booksellers -- we all would all be dead in the water without readers and book buyers.  

YYoung-man-reading-a-book-001.jpgou are the essential link in the chain, the upshot, the point of it all.  Authors write, publishers edit and design the cover and print and manufacture and market, and booksellers curate their selections and push the books into your hands, but the readers --- ahh, the readers who love the printed page, who are fans of their favorites authors, who hunger for words and sentences, for poems and history and novels and memoir and science and jokes and theology, who want to learn and grow and enter into the worlds of writers --- you are the point.  You buy the books, read the books, ponder, critique and exclaim and share and argue and maybe buy more of them to give as gifts. You run book groups, give books away, fund libraries in your church and neighborhood; you read to your kids and subscribe to journals like Books and Culture or other review sources, you click on-line and watch the book trailers and then purchase them from real bookstores. And some of you tell others about us.

Yep, Hearts & Minds friends, facebook fans, customers, and cheerleaders, we couldn't do this without you. 

And so we are truly thankful.

We are deeply moved and almost speechless, sometimes, when we consider your loyalty, your support, your encouragement. Friends from south-central Pennsylvania support their local bookstore, and our distant but loyal BookNotes readers order often from us.  Out-of-town fans make road trips, going out of their way to visit. (We laugh when they call it a pilgrimage, and wish we could somehow be more hospitable when they arrive from a long drive.)  What an honor to have loyal customers, and how necessary it has been for us.

Beth and I have been at this for 31 years, this week.  We are still hardly in the black, despite31.jpg the rah rah rah around Black Friday. Some indie stores have it harder than we do and will close soon; others seem to be doing well (and more bookstores are opening nation-wide, a heartening trend.)  Our fiscal situation is precarious, and yet we are confident and thrilled - and, again, truly grateful - for the extraordinary opportunity we have to promote books, to connect writers and readers, to make a living through such an obviously meaningful vocation. That our bookstore opened during a Thanksgiving weekend makes it easy to remember each November to be thankful for God's faithfulness to our business and to be appreciative of our customers' support.

We sometimes hear about the impact a book has had on a customer, and we love hearing those stories.  Not long age we heard that a customer found a book which helped her develop a Christian perspective on her career, another used a book to assist a struggling marriage, another said a novel changed her entire outlook. A week ago a person bought a book on social justice, noting that she never read anything about such hard stuff, but felt she needed to.  A parent just the other day purchased a book to explain terminal illness to a child, and she was obviously touched by our assistance in choosing just the right one. A leader at a Christian college needed help with a large bibliography and it was wonderful to undertake that project. One person tucked a little note in complimenting our staff when she paid her bill.

People routinely talk about howpleasures of reading.jpg much pleasure a book brings to them. (If you like this sort of thing, I hope you know the truly splendid book, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by the excellent, mature essayist Alan Jacobs, published by Oxford University Press.) It is a delight that comes with the job, hearing about how someone enjoyed their latest cozy mystery or YA novel.  And, given the nature of many of our books which are designed to help nurture one's spiritual life, or the communal life of the local church, we sometimes hear of deepened discipleship, expanded faith, enlarged hearts, good stuff happening in churches, ministries, and nonprofit organizations as they read inspirational resources to guide their Christian growth and mission.  All of this gives us much for which to be thankful.

It is often hard and complicating and tiresome. Sometimes it gets ugly. Not a day goes by in our work that doesn't tempt me to spit and cuss, and sometimes, to just give up.  

And not a single day goes by that doesn't give us a chance to exclaim "Thanks be to God." 

thank-you-quote11.jpgAnd, so, while we praise God -- the God who is called The Word -- we must thank you, too.  We are grateful for readers and customers who buy our books and spread the word about our bookselling efforts.  Truly, we wouldn't be here without you.  We are very grateful.



* * *

I suppose I should stop there, offering this little tribute to all involved in the magical world of books and bookstores, thanking those who appreciate our efforts to be patrons of the printed page, those who are our loyal customers and friends of our mission.

But I'd like to say more, for those who want to listen in.  I hope it isn't too self-indulgent to reminisce a bit, tipping the hat to some old colleagues who have helped us over the years.

I think the first publisher's sales representative Beth and I met who was serious about books, one who loved thoughtful and well-done Christian books of depth and importance, was Bruce Robinson who at the time worked for Eerdmans.  Eerdmans is one of the top publishers in academic theology and religion, more broad and curious now than they were a generation or two ago, but even in the early 80s, they had a diverse and fascinating body of work - Southbest of the reformed j.jpgeerdmans book.jpg African theology, Dutch reformational philosophy, Christian aesthetics, Biblical commentaries, faith-based literary criticism.  They had some classic evangelical authors like John Stott and F. F. Bruce and, of course, C.S. Lewis (and other Inklings such as George MacDonald, Dorothy Sayers, and Charles Williams.) They published one of the first books I ever studied on creation-care and the first book I read on a distinctively Christian approach to technology, the first book of many books I've read by Richard Mouw, my first book by John Howard Yoder, the first book by Lewis Smedes (the still in print Sex for Christians and the out of print Love Within Limits), the still important Lectures on Calvinism by Abraham Kuyper, the very significant Capitalism and Progress by Bob Goudzewaard, Art in Action by Nicholas Wolterstorff (not to mention his grueling, honest memoir of grief, Lament for a Son.) Soon enough, they published Alan Boesak and Desmond Tutu, Marva Dawn and Eugene Peterson.  For years they published the journal The Reformed Journal (and you may recall how I raved in the "best books of 2011" column about the anthology of the best of the RJ that came out a few years ago, edited by James Bratt & Ronald Wells.  It is still a spectacular collection, very highly recommended.)

To have a sales rep visit our store and brief us on important books and regale us with tales of his own meetings and meals with everyone from Richard Neuhaus to Jimmy Dunn to Fleming Rutledge to Herman Ridderbos was a delight.  Eerdmans has been a distinguished press, releasing award winning books both popular and arcane, and their sales reps remain bookish, learned, articulate about ideas within the broader church and world. They know how to talk books.

In our early years we also had a rep named Bill Thomason.  Bill was a bookman par excellence - when I'd jump in his car to retreat to a local café he'd have Shakespeare plays on tape in his car.  Like most reps, he'd have his back seat loaded with the books he was selling, and others he picked up at other stores along the way.  The best sales reps not only sell their own titles, but buy books, themselves, and it is fun to get them reading authors from other publishers.  The best book-lovers are, shall we say, promiscuous. 

He had a rep group that handled a whole bunch of small and often quirkie, nearly indie publishers.

If our Eerdmans rep introduced us to serious Reformed theology and the broader evangelical circles of interest promoted by the scholarly side of their storied house, Bill first repped an array of publishers that included liturgical Catholic publishers, liberation theology, a moderate Baptist publisher, and, for a while, some contemplative and monastic and Orthodox presses.  Where else would Beth and I have  learned about Cistercian Publications or Liturgical Press?  Eventually Bill landed at Westminster/John Knox, and since we are Presbyterian (USA) we knew his line pretty well.  But he knew it better, and having each season a guided tour through such an esteemed mainline Protestant publishing house - they have published Niehbuhr and Tillich and Barth and William Sloan Coffin and the like - was an education in itself.

We have dear, dear friends who have supported us more than words can express in the more conservative CBA (Christian Bookseller Associations) world.  I still miss the indescribable Keith Harrold who repped for Word Music and who understood our musical tastes and was an unabashed fan and friend who served us for years and years. There have been those who have sold us gift items and card lines and all kinds of religious books.

There are extraordinary scholars, editors, marketers, and reps in CBA presses like the editorial team at IVP and their sales director Jeffintervarsity-press-IMPRINTS.jpg Crosby (I routinely applaud IVP for being our favorite all-around publisher and would simply give up if they didn't exist.) I so much appreciate their work, and thank God for them.

I admire the crew at BakerAcademic like editor Bob Hosack, or, for instance, ecumenical bookman Steve Ayers, who is so very passionate about excellent, scholarly books.  Ayers knows everything from evangelical to mainline Protestant to Roman Catholic traditions and their authors - just the other day he noted that the fabulous new book Love in the Gospel of John by the wonderful Catholic Newbaker_academic.png Testament scholar Francis J. Moloney, SDB, was just released by Baker Academic (and that that wouldn't have happened even a decade ago.) BakerAcademic and their affiliated Brazos Press are perhaps the up-and-coming scholarly theological publisher.  And, unlike places like Fortress, they havebrazos_press.png deep ties in the still growing evangelical community and tend not to publish overly arcane or transgressive stuff.  I think it is a landmark achievement to have professors, scholars and book lovers from professional associations like ETS (Evangelical Theological Society) and SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) all raving about their new releases.

I appreciate that Baker has so many books about popular culture, film studies, social reform, exploring the common good and such.  When we opened, Eerdmans was the clearest voice for a robust, rather progressive, socially-engaged Reformed tradition. I still think that Creation Regained: The Biblical Basis for a Reformational Worldview by Al Wolters remains one of the most important books in their entire catalog. Today, though, this broadly evangelical, thoughtful perspective and admirable approach to excellently-produced books is found in many evangelical publishers, not least IVP and Baker.  Just think of the enormous contribution to this world-formative tradition by books like Culture Making (by Andy Crouch from IVP) or Desiring the Kingdom (by James K.A. Smith, published by Baker.)

There are plenty of other great publishers for which we are grateful, and workman-like reps who help us get our orders and who offer in-house help that we could hardly survive without.  But it has been the most bookish sales reps who have modeled for me a love for the printed page, the disciplined habit of reading widely, of learning how to compare and contrast the writing of different authors, and different traditions and viewpoints, for being evangelists for things other than the same-old/same-old religious literature, celebrating the best sorts of writing and thinking and enhancing the theological conversations. In other words, they are lovers of books.  (At a meeting just the other day, I asked a new friend at Eerdmans what his favorite book from their new season was and without batting an eye he said Preaching in Hitler's Shadow: Sermons of Resistance to the Third Reich edited by Dean G. Stroud -- "It's a great read," he said, and insisted that I had to read it. I think I will, although I otherwise wouldn't have; I'm willing to try it just because he was so glad to tell me about how good it was. I try to take the enthusiastic recommendations of a real book-lover to heart.)

byron in store from ydr.jpgPeople sometimes ask where I get my own love of books and writers. I believe it is true in most areas of life that we learn from and conform to the habits of the friends with whom we surround ourselves.  On the day of our wedding anniversary last week Beth and I were selling books at a prestigious lecture and on the way home - too tired to be very romantic, but for us it was apropos - we listed marriages of those we knew that we most admired, and who have been our models and influences. It works like that, doesn't it? I have been privileged to have good book lovers and teachers and generous, discerning readers around me, and I hope it is somehow that way for you, that you can find friends who push you on to read widely, who continue to press the best books into your hands, who speak regularly about what they are reading, what they are learning, and what strengths and weaknesses there are in the world of books and ideas. 

From Sunday sermons to the evening news, from the lyrics of the latest pop song to the top ofcaring for words.jpg the bestseller list, there are words everywhere, and we must engage and be wise about them.  I recall a favorite, recent, Eerdmans book by English professor and poet Marilyn Chandler McEntyre: Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies.  Oh my, what a wonderful book, which I liked even more than Wendell Berry's Standing By Words, itself a lovely title and rich book. 

Maybe, in some small way, our BookNotes reviews and our shop here can play that role for you, reminding you of these things.  If we are able to help in any way, I say here for the record, as I often do  -- it is not false humility -- that it is mostly because of those I've been blessed to know, those who have rubbed off on me, even just a bit, that I'm able to talk books with our customers. 

I really, truly am grateful for those who taught me to love words and writing and reading, to care about books, from Mr. Trimmer in high school English to the Dutch worldview guru Pete Steen, who taught philosophy like a preacher, to my grandmother and beloved mother-in-law who often recited poetry by memory, on through great writers, reviewers, critics, journalists, and, yes, sales reps. It isn't hard to keep up a passion for good books when one gets to see forthcoming titles explained with vision and enthusiasm by those who believe in them.  Evangelical reps, especially, really believe that their books are going to be useful in the lives of ordinary people.  That faith can help us, that God is for us, that the Bible's wisdom can be applied to daily life, these guys major in that, and it is refreshing to have it put so simply.  It is hard not to believe in the potential of basic but energetically written books when those who know them best tell you the back-story, the marketing plan, and the hopes and expectations of how they will touch lives.  

So, once again, we are thankful to be a part of this work.

I say all this sincerely, inspired in part by those ubiquitous "what I'm thankful for" facebook updates. But I also say it because of my current Eerdmans sales rep, Jerry Arends, who got me in for a day to the the recent SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) and AAR (American Academy of Religion) extravaganza in Baltimore.  This annual event has been on my "bucket list" for decades, and to be able to walk the isles of world-renowned academic religious publishers and literally bump into Al Wolters and Tom Wright and Ron Sider and Diana Butler Bass, to be introduced to Arthur Boers and Robert Ellsberg and to get to hear Wendell Berry -- what a joy!  A big hope was for the chance to cross paths with Sylvia Keesmaat and Brian Walsh, and it was a highlight of the day to be with them. (And I am again reminded of how important is Brian's co-authored Eerdmans book, Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement which draws upon important authors such as Brueggeman on exile and Berry on place, and want to again be the one to press it upon you, into your hands and into your heart.)  Everything at SBL/AAR zoomed by so quickly, and I drove home overwhelmed with gratitude, being so thankful to be a part of this industry of book-selling, being a handmaiden of good authors, if even in a small, small way. 

A few of these big wig scholars and publishers at SBL even seemed to know who we are but most, naturally, do not.  We are still just a small town shop, with a relatively faint footprint here in cyberspace. We are glad for the place and role God has given us, such as it is, grateful for these decades of retail service, and thankful to you, BookNotes readers and customers who have shelled out your hard-earned bucks to buy books.  It is clear to me that we can serve you as we do, in part, because there have been special opportunities for us to know good sales reps, to occasionally meet publishers and editors who work behind the scenes, and to interact with the authors themselves. I realize it is a great gift which I must steward, and hope it somehow pleases you to know this.

We are at your service, for the sake of the world, to the glory of God.  To be called and enabled to do that work, is a privilege, and we are very, very grateful.

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