About December 2015

This page contains all entries posted to Hearts & Minds Books in December 2015. They are listed from oldest to newest.

November 2015 is the previous archive.

January 2016 is the next archive.

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

December 2015 Archives

December 4, 2015

MORE GREAT ADVENT BOOKS for ADULTS & CHILDREN - all 20% off of the regular price shown. ORDER NOW.

Thanks to those who expressed appreciation for the Advent list we put together a week or so ago; Hearts & Minds friends sharing these suggested resources with others helps us get the word out about great books, and, yes, it helps us garner some orders, orders that are much-needed on this end.

Here are some other resources that we think will help you strengthen your faith, discover a sense of sanity, a deeper understanding of and commitment to the Story of God of which we are a part this great, if complicated, time of year.  That is what we all want, right? It is what you want for yourself and those you love, I'm sure.  You know, I hope, that books can help nudge us in the right direction, provide insight and encouragement, inform us and bring pleasure as reading them strengthens our resolve.  These are tools of the trade, blessings in small packages. We'd be foolish not to pass 'em out this time of year.  I mean it sincerely when I say we are here to help. 

You can easily order by clicking on the link found below.

the-meaning-is-in-the-waiting-the-spirit-of-advent-53.jpgThe Meaning is in the Waiting: The Spirit of Advent Paula Gooder (Paraclete Press) $15.99 This came out years ago in the UK from Canterbury Press and was wisely picked up a while back by the good folks at Paraclete Press. This edition has a spectacular foreword by Lauren Winner - reminiscent of her beautifully astute introduction to Bobby Gross's Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God. (I get out that book and read Lauren's intro every year this time of year.)  In this one, she expresses her desire to have the church year - which orients us towards God's time, focused on God's redemptive work in Christ - shape her sense of time more than, say, the academic year (which starts in September) or the government year (tax day!)  Oh, to have our very sense of time and the calendars we inhabit be formed by the person of Christ.

In The Meaning is in the Waiting Gooder helps us learn the spiritual practice of waiting, even making the case that it is vital to our wellbeing. She helps us (as she has in other lovely, poetic books) see God in the ordinary.  She deftly explores the real-world people who are the described in the Biblical stories for this time of year, Abraham and Sarah, the Hebrew prophets, John the Baptist, and Mary.  And then there is this:  Winner writes, "In this winsome yet provocative Advent devotional I began to sense something I had not understood before, in any of my other Advent observances - it is not just we who wait. God is waiting, too. "The Lord waits, that He may be gracious unto you,' says Isaiah, one of the prophets who interests Paula Gooder most.  God waits on us, for our attention, for our visits home; God waits for our vision and our ear." This is a rich, thoughtful little book and I commend it to you.

Walking-Backwards-to-Christmas.jpgWalking Backwards to Christmas Stephen Cottrell (Westminster/John Knox) $14.00 this is a fun and interesting little book, with two very distinctive features.  Firstly, as the title suggests, it walks us through the Christmas season stories backwards.  That is, it starts with the end of the story, so to speak, with Jesus being presented at the temple to Anna and Simeon, and moves backward through Herod's slaughter of the innocents, the wise men's visits, Jesus' birth in the stable, Mary's pregnancy, and finally to the much-earlier hopes and dreams of Isaiah and even Moses!  Yes, the first chapter is Moses!

A second feature will make this most helpful for some that need creative resources this time of year. Each chapter is written as a first-person monologue, so it tells the story through the eyes of these well-known figures.  Other imagined characters show up, too - the innkeepers wife, for instance. Cottrell is a fine writer (his creative retelling of the characters of the Easter narrative is called The Nail.) A few of these pieces could even be read out loud as they are lively and dramatic.  A few are more subtle; Isaiah is moody and mostly about his interior life and visions, understandably. Paul Strobe (who wrote Walking with Jesus through the Old Testament) says that "Cottrell truly 'gets inside' the characters, including their sorrow and anger and uncertainty as well as their hope and faith."

Five Questions of Christmas- Unlocking the Mystery.jpgFive Questions of Christmas: Unlocking the Mystery Rob Burkhart (Abingdon) $16.99 At first I thought this was a fine but perhaps unremarkable set of meditations on the Bible stories and their application to today.  I suspect these could have been a good sermon series -- inviting us to ask how we can find truth and meaning, wonder why there is such suffering, pointing us to trust the unseen, design and embody a future hope in the here and now.  And then I realized that between each of the five meditations is a set piece, a very well-written narrative about Burkhart's own holiday experiences.  These vignettes, each dated, reveal some truly extraordinary stuff --- Christmases full of great tragedy and unforgettable experiences from his own life; they frame the Biblical messages, and add real-world grit, insisting that we embody the evangelical promises in the real world of beauty and sorrow.  Burkhart has an MDiv from Fuller and has been a leader within the Assemblies of God for more than 30 years. This is nicely written, but carries a not-so-subtle subtext: in this world as we know it, sometimes asking the questions is as important as declaring answers. This really is an interesting, good book.

The God of All Flesh And Other Essays Walter Brueggemann.jpgThe God of All Flesh And Other Essays Walter Brueggemann (Cascade) $22.00  This is brand new, another profound collection of essays by the premier Old Testament scholar and passionate preacher.  It includes 9 serious chapters, all previously published in mostly obscure sources, so this brings them to a wider readership. The theme is described on the back quite nicely:

Biblical faith is passionately and relentlessly material in its accent. This claim is rooted in the conviction that the creator God loves and cares for the creation and summons creation to be in sync with the will of the creator God. This collection of essays is focused on the bodily life of the world as it ordered in all of its problematic political and economic forms. The phrase of the title, "all flesh," in the flood narrative of Genesis 9, refers to all living creatures who are in covenant with God -- human beings, animals, birds, and fish - as recipients of God's grace, as dependent upon God's generosity, and as destined for praise and obedience to God.

As you may guess, this accent about the materiality of the Christian faith and true Biblical religion is an alternative to any sort of piety that wishes to transcend or escape the world and the matters of politics and economics. Brueggy writes, "Such a temptation is a serious misreading of the Bible and a serious misjudgment about the nature of human existence."

While this isn't an Advent book as such, it certainly seems apropos as we move into this season of incarnation.  We stock all of his provocative, dense books, and are proud to celebrate the release of this brand new one.

The First Days of Jesus- The Story of the Incarnation .jpgThe First Days of Jesus: The Story of the Incarnation Andreas J. Kostenberger & Alexander E. Stewart (Crossway) $17.99  This is a rare and important kind of book - exceptionally erudite, written by two of the best conservative Biblical scholars working today, offered in a way that is readable and truly interesting. It is not an Advent devotional, but it is perfect for serious reading this time of year. For Sunday school teachers, campus ministers or preachers needing to come up (once again!) with meaningful seasonal sermons or classes, getting this essential doctrine right is of exceptional urgency. The First Days... is a remarkable book, meaty but fascinating, with lots of close Biblical study and scholarly insight about historical and contextual matters - from the birth narratives and on to the earliest days of Jesus as recorded in Matthew, Luke, and John.  Paul Maier notes that it "is a welcome antidote to the cheap sensationalism in recent books on Jesus that try to demolish every reason for regarding Christmas as "the most wonderful time of the year."  Kudos.

Belief Matters- Incarnation- The Surprising Overlap of Heaven & Earth .jpgBelief Matters: Incarnation: The Surprising Overlap of Heaven & Earth William H. Willimon (Abingdon) $13.99  We've announced this one before (as well as the others in the ongoing series, such as the smart and useful one by our friend and local pastor, Kenneth Loyer, called Holy Communion, and the latest, by the always upbeat and interesting Jason Byasee, The Trinity.)  In each case, these short books are designed to be quick reads for ordinary folks who want a helpful guide to key theological topics (and why they matter.)  Willimon is the senior editor of the project, and he inaugurated the series with this one on the notion of the incarnation.  I loved it, and found it helpful, provocative, and inspiring. A perfect time of year for this quick, important read, although the point will last you a lifetime.  Chapter four is called "Life in Light of the Incarnation" which is a good reminder of the catch-phrase of the series: Belief Matters.  It really does.

CD  Waiting Songs Rain for Roots.jpgCD  Waiting Songs Rain for Roots  $15.99

I hope you recall that we've exclaimed our appreciation for this quartet of folk-singing moms and their commitment to doing very cool acoustic singer-song-writer styled songs for children. The first two releases (Big Stories for Little Ones and The Kingdom of Heaven is Like This) I've sometimes described as "Indelible Grace" for children; indeed, several of these women have been involved in those theologically mature, rootsy hymn projects. (As an aside: one of the women, Katy Bowser, also has two CDs which we proudly stock under the name Coal Train Railroad which introduce kids to jazz.) These are amazing young women, good artists, seriously thoughtful Christian parents and educators.

This new Advent project is exactly what it says: it is not a Christmas carol release, but an album about longing, waiting, the promises of God, the hope of the covenant, expectation. Indeed, they've got the logo that proclaims "Almost, Not Yet / Already, Soon." Drawing on themes familiar to those who love Sally Lloyd-roots for rain.jpgJones' Jesus Storybook Bible, this approach to the significance of this season allows them to create a truly rare record: serious kids' stuff that isn't dumbed down, and a holiday album of Advent songs, not Christmas ones. Already soon? Christian Waiting Songs, indeed. Here is a link to see a bit more about the album, and a free listen to their version of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel."  The other songs are originals, and only one feels like a silly child's song -- most are great songs for anyone who likes the softer folk-rock style. A few of the songs are simply stunning.

Order today - even if you don't have young children!

kirstoph-and-the-first-christmas-tree-a-legend-14.jpgKristoph and the First Christmas Tree Claudia Cangilla McAdam (Paraclete Press) $16.99 Oh my, what a vivid story!  This is a bright, dramatic, conventionally illustrated children's picture book with text that is both glorious and shocking.  Why isn't this story told among us?  Is it even true?  The book begins saying it happened on December 24, 722 in Germany.

Bonifice and his young orphan friend Kristoph are travelling through the German countryside and come across a pagan tribe who are about to sacrifice a child in the snowy forest in an awful ritual to appease the spirits of their sacred oaks.  Bonifice begs them to set the child free, and to experience the mercies of a loving God.  There is some debate that nearly brings to mind Elijah's famous conflict with those who worshiped Baal, with the chieftain and his tribe eventually allowing Bonifice to chop down a foreboding tree, saving the child.  A miracle (or is it?) involving an evergreen transpires, and, well, the life-saving truth of the gospel and the legend of explaining how the tree points to the living God is started.

The ending of Kristoph and the First Christmas Tree is too profound to say merely that "they lived happily ever after" although it does have a very nice ending.  What a story, told, as one reviewer put it, "with lyrical language and old world charm."  The author, Claudia McAdam has degrees in both English literature and theology.  She has included a blessing that can be recited by a family around their own Christmas tree. How nice is that?

The Christmas Promise Alidon Mitchell & Catalina Echeverri.jpgThe Christmas Promise Alidon Mitchell & Catalina Echeverri (The Good Books Company) $14.99  This may be my favorite new Christmas book for kids - a solid, whimsical, informative ride through what it means that Jesus is a King, one who reigns over all the Earth.  Even the endpapers have energetically scribbled pictures of all manner of kings - from ancient Romans to medieval monarchs, Asian tyrants to little old Napoleon, right through to replicas of modern-day dictators and presidents.

But what kind of King is promised to the Jews? How can a baby be a King?  This is an historically accurate portrayal of the first nativity, but frames the story by the Biblical promise that God promised a rescuing King. Oh my, this is sooo good. On the back cover it says, "Join Mary and Joseph, a bunch of shepherds, some wise men, and lots and lots of angels as they discover how God kept his Christmas promise."  Fantastic!

The Nativity Julie Vivas.jpgThe Nativity Julie Vivas (Houghton Mifflin) $7.00  I mention this some years and some people adore it.  Others (oddly -- perversely, even, I think) complain that showing the little penis of the baby Jesus is inappropriate. ("A ploy," one critic opined.) The artwork is a bit bizarre; the winged angels are, while not scary, a bit odd, but the whimsy doesn't devolve into sentimental cute. Mary is sooo pregnant, and it shows!  The visiting angel wears army boots.  The characters are not exactly white. You've got to see this to believe it.  We've been fans, even though some warn against it.

Song of the Stars- A Christmas Story.jpgSong of the Stars: A Christmas Story board book Sally Lloyd-Jones (Zonderkiz) $7.99  We raved about the original full-sized version of this two years ago, and again and agin: the vivid, full-size picture book is one of our true favorites, illustrating as it does how the whole creation is anticipating the cosmic scope of the birth of Jesus. The artwork is splendid, the lyrics just right.  "It's time" the animals proclaim!  This new board book edition is a perfect little stocking stuffer, an inexpensive but potent gift. We suggest that you buy more than one; you will be glad you did.

The Christmas Star board book Paloma Wensell (Liturgical Press).jpgThe Christmas Star board book Paloma Wensell (Liturgical Press) $7.95  This is another absolutely favorite board book this year, with charming illustrations, wonderfully done by German children's artist Ulises Wensell.  It, too, tells the conventional story of Mary, Joseph, the stable, baby Jesus, etc.  What I so like about this one is the classy sparkle integrated into many of the thick pages, first as the star, then as the angels are portrayed, later, seeming to engulf the whole sky- glory shone all around, after all - and then by the end, it seems to inhabit the whole page, glory indeed!  Does this prefigure the swirling flames of Pentecost, somehow?  I think this little touch makes this not only a visually exciting presentation, but might open the door for deeper conversations.  Nice!

Brother Egbert's Christmas Steve Eggleton.jpgBrother Egbert's Christmas Steve Eggleton (Lion Pres) $17.99  This is an exceptionally classy book, with each page illuminated as if a medieval manuscript. Every page is beautifully colorful, telling about the work of a village man and his son who are helping monks fix a ceiling at the monastery, making wooden carved bosses.  Brother Egbert spends most of his time copying pages of scrolls and manuscripts, and young Jake, the woodcarver's son, suggests they use Brother Egbert's prized Christmas story manuscript as the model for the wood carving he and his dad will make. This book for older children has lots of color and interesting calligraphied text, with the traditional telling of the nativity story at the center.  There's an appendix about making your own paint, too, just like they do at the monastery, and a guide to making a nice capitol letter at the start of a page.



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December 8, 2015

Great New Books ON SALE at BookNotes: Art & Poetry, Dying & Grief, Justice & Mission, Narrative & Memoir, and a New Kuyper & a Free Kuyper

Lots of new books keep coming out, and I know that some of our friends are still in need for good Christmas gift ideas.  How do I know this?  Hmm.  I could say a certain holiday elf told me or I could quote Ecclesiastes about how there is no end of new titles. (Who knew they had an issue with discerning what to read, even then.)  It's my joy to get to tell you about wonderful new or recent titles.  These are all great and remind us why we value books so.  Enjoy.

And, for those that stick to it, we even offer a free book at the end. A serious one, too!

Just for fun, I group these in handy little pairs.  They are all on sale, any way you choose 'em.  We'll take 20% off when you click at the order link below. Or, if you'd rather, give us a call, old-school at 717-246-3333.  We're open 10 am - 8 pm (but always closed Sunday) EST.


hungry-spring-ordinary-song-collected-poems-an-autobiography-of-sorts-5.jpgHungry Spring & Ordinary Song: Collected Poems (an autobiography of sorts)  Phyllis Tickle (Paraclete Press) $18.00  This just arrived, and as I read the beautiful introduction (written in the very last season of her life) I was brought back to the last time I was with Phyllis; as anyone who knew her can testify, she made me feel like an intimate friend.  We talked about other places we've crossed paths - she was passionately ecumenical and easy-going (and candid!) around varying denominations.  What a delight to be in the setting of a liberal mainline denomination (which she loved), talking about the conservative Acts 29 church plant she attended, showing off books I wanted her to buy.  And we talked about words, about her long life, about books and publishing and reviewing; on several occasions she honored us with great encouragement and kind blessings.  We didn't talk about poetry, though, and now I wish we would have! I had no idea!

Jon Sweeney, who edited the excellent anthology of her life-long writing work (Phyllis Tickle: Essential Spiritual Writings) says "I think Phyllis was a poet first and foremost, before anything else."  This is evident in the first glorious paragraph of her introduction (any aspiring poet should read it, as should anyone who wants to know what Tickle was pondering as she prepared her "autobiography of sorts" as she moved from this world to the next.)  Yes, these are stunning poems, by an important woman in our literary landscape.  That she gives occasional comments in this edition explaining the context or point of certain poems makes it that much useful, drawing us into her life as she shares it with us in such artful ways.

Several of these beautiful  poems - some so very tender, some worshipful, some fierce -- were written in the last years of her life, although many were written before she was famous, as a young mother, one who lost babies and who worked hard and noticed much on their Western Tennessee farm.  These are stunning, so good that I would confidently recommend them to serious poets and readers of poems, but also to those of us for whom poetry sometimes seem to be nearly a foreign language. She has an exceptional gift of using words and phrases so very colorfully, but without being cryptic or obscure. 

As Margaret Britton Vaughn, Poet Laureate of Tennessee, "Phyllis Tickle uses words as Vermeer used paint; both bring a unique light to their word. The page became a canvas, and master writer Phyllis Tickle's pen brushed her life, family, friends, then framed them in a sense of place."

The Operation of Grace- Further Essays on Art, Faith, and Mystery .jpgThe Operation of Grace: Further Essays on Art, Faith, and Mystery Gregory Wolfe (Image/Wipf & Stock) $25.00  I hope you know the sophisticated (dare I call it high-brow) arts journal, Image, edited so faithfully for years by the always brilliant, quite sharp Gregory Wolfe. We continue to stock Bearing the Mystery, their sturdy hardback anthology which served as a celebration of their 20th anniversary a few years back; which includes some of the best faith-based writers working today (Annie Dillard, Scott Cairnes, Clyde Edgerton, Densie Levertov, Ann Patchett,  Wim Winders,  etc.)  Greg always has a fabulously written, often provocative, generative opening essay in Image and the first collection of these wonderful short pieces appeared in the very cool paperback (with black and white illustrations by Barry Moser!) published by Square Halo Books, Intruding Upon the Timeless.  Who can resist a book with a title like that? Wolfe is learned and insightful and witty and in these pieces he offers a perfect representative of the best of the faith/art/literature conversation these days.  Either one - the big  Bearing anthology he edited, or the Square Halo Timeless book of short essays - would make great gifts.

Or this. The brand new The Operation of Grace brings together a second collection of his lovely, inspired, important essays from Image. These may be "occasional pieces" but as Lauren Winner says in an endorsing blurb, "they add up to a marvelous whole... at times winsome, at times bracing."  Yes, there are themes of grace, of mystery and there are reviews and studies and ruminations, references to art history and contemporary poets and pieces with titles such as "Why The Inklings Aren't Enough" and "Scenes from an Editorial Life" and "The Culture Wars Revisited."  

I love the endorsement from Mako Fujimura who writes

Gregory Wolfe is to the burgeoning art and faith movement what Camille Pissarro was to the Impressionist movement - a central pillar, a wise teacher, an irreplaceable presence. One simply cannot imagine today's art and faith conversation without his voice


A Faithful Farewell- Living Your Last Chapter with Love.jpgA Faithful Farewell: Living Your Last Chapter with Love Marilyn Chandler McEntyre (Eerdmans) $15.00  I have often raved about Marilyn McEntyre, back when she was publishing handsome books of poetry, and, more recently, a lovely book reflecting on short phrases from the Bible (What's in a Phrase? Pausing Where Scriptures Give You Pause, the lovely forward of which I've often read out loud in workshops) or her spectacularly inspiring and valuable Stone Lectures at Princeton on the stewardship of language, wonderfully entitled Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies.  So when I saw she was doing a set of short reflections on the approach of death I was curious - why this? - and yet was confident it would be unlike anything in print.  What a lovely little book!

Clearly and profoundly Christian without being sentimental or clichéd, it is just what we'd expect from a woman who cares for words: "refreshingly frank and deeply faithful" as Michael Lindvall puts it.  Others who work with the dying or in health care professions have said it is "sensitive and helpful encouragement" and "quietly graceful and grace-filled" and "startlingly real and profound in hope."  If you know anyone who is interested in reading a practical set of Bible reflections on their own "long journey" (or not so long, as the case may be) A Faithful Farewell will be a beautiful companion.  It seems obvious to me that those who care for the dying, or those preparing for the eventual loss of a loved one, or want to see in simple, clear, riveting prose a Biblically-informed vision for processing this final journey will also benefit from this extraordinary, beautiful, wise book.  Thank you, Ms McEntyre, for stewarding words well, and for helping us all with these short pieces.

long letting go.jpgA Long Letting God: Meditations on Losing Someone You Love Marilyn Chandler McEntyre (Eerdmans) $15.00  Did I tell you that I often rave about Marilyn McEntyre?  Ha - see above!  Yes, this new book is a very handsome companion volume, a short collection of meditations in the spirit of A Faithful Farewell.  This is a set of "wise, nurturing reflections for caregivers letting go of loved ones." It is less about bereavement after the death of a loved one, but a book for caregivers as they are in that season of accompanying a loved one to their final days on Earth.  It invites caregivers to slow down for reflection and prayer as they prepare to say good-bye to a beloved friend or family member, even as they are grieving that coming loss. I know that some of you need this book, and many know someone who does.  It is a nice little gift, I assure you.

Based on McEntyre's personal and profession experience with the dying, these gentle meditations - each consisting of a short opening quote, a reflection and a prayer - offer comfort, guidance, hope, respite.  It is beautifully written (I've only dipped in briefly, but will cherish it over time, I'm sure.)

Michael Card (who himself has two must-read books on lament and expressing grief) says, simply but importantly, that "Marilyn McEntyre embodied simple, patient kindness in the pages of this book."  Samuel Wells (formerly of Duke, now vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London) says "Going gently with her into the prison of death will set you free."  Wow.


 Faith on the Road- A Short Theology of Travel & Justice.jpgFaith on the Road: A Short Theology of Travel & Justice Joerg Rieger (IVP Academic) $18.00 Just when I thought nearly everything that needs saying about a Biblically-rooted, spiritually rigorous view of social justice has mostly been said, here is a fresh and remarkably interesting new book, offering a vision of being "on the road" and how this might serve as a metaphor for justice ministries.  It a shows so how such a view of being a 'sojourner' or 'exile' might gives us important angles of vision for activism and advocacy. Rieger is an internationally known theologian and activist and while he is not the first to develop these themes, his direct study of travel, here, is clever and helpful (and brief.) It looks like a fantastic resource.

You may know that I've written a lot about a sense of place, about being literally grounded, about a vision of discipleship that is creation-based, for the life of the world, tending towards the local and therefore resisting the glamour of moving up and away; the spectacular (dense) book Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement by Steven Bouma-Prediger & Brian Walsh remains a central, vital book for our time,  I think, and it sides with the marginalized even as it eschews a worldview that is place-less, inviting us to a sort of homecoming. My own book, the anthology of speeches that I edited called Serious Dreams: Bold Ideas for the Rest of Your Life, in fact, starts with an intro reminding young adults that they might not need to embrace glitzy visions of changing the world in far-away, big-city ways but might take up a small-town, staying-put sort of spirituality of home-making.  These days we maybe need a Jayber Crow, or at least a Gene Peterson,  to tell us it is good to stay put.

And then comes along Joerg Rieger - his other heady books that we stock include Occupy Religion and Christ and Empire: From Paul to Postcolonial Times - and he gives us here a succinct reminder that "God looks different from the dusty roads of Galilee than from the safety of the temple in Jerusalem. Today, God looks different from the street level of our cities than from the corner offices of economic, political, and religious privilege."

What can we learn from those on the move, from various forms of contemporary travel? Might Christian and Jewish traditions that developed from communities in exile and on the road guide us in this new century? Rieger makes the case - maybe not the whole picture, I'd caution - that "from the exile from Eden to the wandering of Jesus and his disciples, the story of Scripture is a dynamic narrative of ceaseless movement."  Okay, so here is a brief "theology of the road" and "from the road" written by a liberation-oriented motorcyclist. (Yep, it's true.) Can his proposals transform our hearts to be more than tourists in our sojourn on Earth, even as we embrace travel, at least as a metaphor of movement? This is punchy, stimulating stuff.

Christian Mission in the Modern World- Updated and Expanded .jpgChristian Mission in the Modern World: Updated and Expanded John Stott & Christopher J.H. Wright (IVP) $17.00  Now is not the time or place to tell this story fully, but I think it can be argued that this is one of the most important books of the last 50 years; it was first published in 1975 - just after Stott's contribution as principle framer of the 1974 Lausanne Covenant, an international gathering of evangelical leaders from around the globe (in part convened by Billy Graham!) which struggled to answer tough questions about the relationship of faith and justice, evangelism and social action, spirituality and cultural engagement. This little book popularized the wholistic vision that emerged from that conference and pressed the global church (or, might I say, the Western church, largely inspired by those in the developing nations who understood more than most in the West) to be agents of reconciliation and restoration, working out the implications of the Kingdom in all areas of life amidst the currents of the modernizing and secularizing world.  The legendary work of  Rev. Stott (carried on today by his Langham Partnerships) pushed this vision forward, combining creative but stubbornly orthodox theology with socially progressive calls to resist racism, overcome poverty, care for creation, and the like. Stott was theologically impeccable, charming, Biblically-helpful, and politically balanced/wise.

One of the helpful features of Christian Mission in the Modern World is how it reminds us, even amidst this huge matter of defining a wholistic Kingdom vision for mission in the third world, it also offers a delightfully clear-eyed and passionate call for ordinary folks to serve God in their daily callings into the work-world.  In this, it anticipated not only the missional church movement, but the faith/work conversations which are growing so popularly nowadays with our realization that "work matters" as we live into "visions of vocation."

(Indeed, a paragraph from the first edition of this book about serving God in industry and the arts and various professions and farming and public life graced a brochure announcing the CCO's famous Jubilee conference, which remained in my Bible for decades.)  The original edition of this book is a treasure, a classic, and I've often felt it ought to be more often read and used among us.

And now, there is this full revision, a brand new expansion done by Christopher Wright (the international ministries direct of the Langham Partnership.) You may know his many books on Old Testament ethics and his serious texts such as The Mission of God, or may have heard of his significant work drafting the 2010 Capetown Town Commitment from the Third Lausanne Congress. (That document, by the way, is available, as a nice, short booklet on multi-faceted, socially-engaged, evangelical mission. Let us know if you're interested!)  As an ordained clergyperson in the Church of England, Wright also serves on staff of the church Stott once pastored, All Souls in London.  

Wright both slightly revised Stott's chapters and added his own reflections as new chapters following Stott's good stuff, chapter by chapter.  So, you see, the new version of Christian Mission in the Modern World has five new chapters, each one by Wright moving Stott's case further along, applying his writing to the hypermodern 21st century world.  Thank God for this great, updated version of a classic, made all the more useful, interesting, reliable, and urgent.


Dangerous Love- A True Story of Tragedy, Faith.jpgDangerous Love: A True Story of Tragedy, Faith, and Forgiveness in the Muslim World Ray Norman (Nelson) $22.99  This publishing house has done some excellent memoirs in the last decade - starting with Blue Like Jazz and other Donald Miller books, perhaps, they realized the usefulness of releasing well done, even edgy creative nonfiction.  This, though, is less an artsy memoir and more a gripping narrative, a high-drama page-turner that, as Richard Stearns of World Vision puts it, "captures not only the violent clash of civilizations that has torn apart our twenty-first century world but also illuminates one thing that might just save us all - the power of faith and forgiveness to head and redeem."  Dangerous Love is a real life testimony that is a powerful read, urgent in these days of political pundits and even some religious leaders talking like worldly thugs, promoting retribution and violence. It is a book for our times, a story worth knowing and telling.

Ray Norman is the director for Faith Leadership, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at World Vision International and former national director for World Vision's program in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. (He is also a former academic dean at Messiah College, near us here in central Pennsylvania.) Norman was raised in rural West Africa, a missionary kid, and soon became an experienced expat, having lived all over the world, when he arrived in Mauritania around the turn of the millennium.  I suppose I don't have to tell you that in the aftermath of 9/11things were tense in many parts of the world.  I will not spoil the story, but you will soon learn that both Norman and his daughter, Hannah, were shot by Islamic extremists, rushed to an emergency care facility in Senegal, fighting for their lives.  In a story that could be pulled from this week's news, the FBI and other international law enforcement professionals were investigating the shooters and their religio-political contacts.  How did the Norman family get so deeply involved in this tragedy? What was his agency's role in the country?  What will they do next?  In a moving and thoughtfully told part of the story, the family, years later, returned to Africa, only to meet those who attempted to kill them.

Dr. Norman (a respected world-class scientist - with a PhD from Cornell - and a recognized leader in global development issues) tells this story very, very nicely, drawing on fine writers and spiritual leaders, with a believable, but wise, seasoned voice. His good friend, Dennis Hollinger (now President of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) writes, of Dangerous Love: A True Story...

A remarkable story of living and forgiving an 'enemy' in the aftermath of 9/11... Told with generosity, graced, and humility, Ray's narrative goes against the grain of the politics of hate and revenge so prevalent in our world... This story needs to be heard everywhere!

Sky Lantern- The Story of a Father's Love for His Children.jpgSky Lantern: The Story of a Father's Love for His Children and the Healing Power of the Smallest Act of Kindness Matt Mikalatos (Howard/Simon & Schuster) $24.99  Okay, I'm just going to say it.  I ordered this book firstly because I love the author, who has a very creative imagination, and who I've met, and who has written some hilarious books about what it would be like if Bible stories were played out in contemporary times. (The newest such lark is an updated retelling of the story of the book of Acts called Intro the Fray. You should order it!)  So, I thought this was one of those.  And, I loved the cover, I really loved the cover.  Whatever; I blew the first assessment as this is, in fact, a true memoir, not a Bible study, spoofy or otherwise. (Although the cover is still awesome and inviting.)  I cannot wait to read this book, as Matt is a heck of a writer, it carries a coveted Homer "Rocket Boys" Hickam blurb on the front, and, well, the story is just remarkable.  You will hardly believe it.  Here is what it says on the back cover:

"Love you, Dad. Miss you so much. Steph."

A brokenhearted daughter scribbled those words on a sky lantern before setting it aloft. She had no way of knowing the lantern would fly halfway across the country.

Matt Mikalatos found the lantern, broken and crushed, the words still legible. As a father of three daughters, Matt could not let Steph's heart-wrenching note go unanswered, but he wasn't sure where he could find her. So he posted an open letter to her on his blog, which went viral overnight. Little did he know how that small act of kindness would lead him to the real Steph and change his family's life in remarkable ways.

A poignant and lyrical account of the beauty and wonder of domestic life, Sky Lantern tells the miraculous events that followed Matt finding the sky lantern in his yard--of meeting Steph and forming a friendship that impacted him and his family--proving that the bond between a parent and their child is lasting and far-reaching.

Sky Lantern will bring a tear to your eyes and a smile to your face as you fall in love with Matt and his family in this heartwarming, beautifully written memoir.

This book is for people with questions about what it means to love, to be loved, and to love well. It's for anyone who has had a parent relationship: absent, complicated, or amazing. It's about embracing the truth about ourselves: that we are worthy of love, and that love makes our lives worth living. 


Our Program- A Christian Political Manifesto Abraham Kuyper.jpgOur Program: A Christian Political Manifesto Abraham Kuyper (Lexham Press) $49.99  This is a handsome, large, and wonderfully made big book that is a flagship title in the "Collected Works in Public Theology" series that is being done in part by the good folks at the Acton Institute.  You may know Acton as the producers of the wildly popular and enthusiastically appreciated DVD curriculum For the Life of the World: Letters from the Exiles. Perhaps, if you bought the Field Guide study booklet to go with the DVD you'll know (or if you are a really, really astute viewer, or have read me at BookNotes describing it with gusto) that  FLOW star Evan sports a tee shirt with the scribbled visage of the old Dutch statesman, Father Abraham himself  (Reverend Kuyper lived in Holland from 1837 - 1920 and is a theological hero of a growing movement emphasizing uniquely Christian cultural and intellectual engagement for the common good.)

Our Program is Dr. Kuyper's large, urgent work explaining his understanding of the task of the state, a Christian vision of government, various spheres of life working cooperatively, religious pluralism - freedom for all faith communities! - and why Reformed evangelicals, especially, needed to band together for principled social action for the common good. (His vision was set, largely, against the rising secularity which derived its humanistic principles from the violent French Revolution.)

kuyper.gifKuyper started the first Christian political party in modern democracy (as well as the first religious university not run by church or state, the Free University of Amsterdam, a Christian labor movement, a daily newspaper, and more) and was elected Prime Minister in the early 1900s.  I cut  some of my own teeth learning about worldviews and faithful vocations in the world with intellectual rigor hearing of this stuff in the mid-1970s, and our bookstore would not have quite the orientation it does had we not been taught this vibrant alternative, a third way between the so called left and right.  We are pleased to announce the release of this big volume, and glad to offer it at a discounted price.

Here are some significant endorsements that might convince you this is worth having or giving to anyone interested in the conversations about mature faith and distinctive politics.

In describing how Kuyper was the intellectual force for a new way of doing politics, George Harinck of the VU University writes,

Our Program illustrates how Kuyper turned politics from an elite business into a public affair, how he changed the public involvement in politics from a single issue activity into permanent action, and how he challenged liberal politics based on reason and consensus by introducing a debating culture in Parliament based on conflicting worldviews. It is amazing how relevant this monument in political history still is.  Read it, and you will be encouraged to make your voice heard!

James Bratt, professor of history at Calvin College, and author of the definitive big bio of Kuyper, Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat writes:

Abraham Kuyper was trained as a theologian and self-trained as a political thinker and organizer. This comprehensive Program, which Kuyper crafted in the process of forming the Netherlands' first mass political party, brought the theology, the political theory, and the organizational vision together brilliantly in a coherent set of policies that spoke directly to the needs of his day. Our Program served for decades as an inspiration to Kuyper's followers and set a high standard for his opponents to match. For us, it sets out the challenge of envisioning what might e an equivalent witness in our own day.

Greg Foster, Program director of Faith, Work and Economics at the Kern Foundation, and author of the vibrant call to cultural renewal, Joy To The World says,

It is a scandal and a disgrace that we have all read Burke's response to the French Revolution, but few in the English-speaking world have read the equally profound and equally consequential response of Abraham Kuyper - a response that has a least as much to say to twenty-first-century readers as Burke's. It has been truly said that American never produced a really great political philosopher and has had to borrow them from Europe; Kuyper deserves a place besides Locke and Tocqueville as a titanic European intellect whose thought can help us understand the American experiment in religious liberty and constitutional democracy.

Kudos to the Kuyper Translation Project and the Acton Institute. And to the general editors Jordan J. Ballor and Melvin Flikkema for their labor of love, a historic undertaking of such a large, on-going publishing project. Hat tip to Harry Van Dyke for his own work as head of the team that did this particular volume.  The prefaces and introductory materials are exceptionally helpful for those of us mostly unfamiliar with the details of this big work.  I suspect they have no illusion that this volume will spur on a Christian political party, but it might offer some historically seasoned, Biblically-thoughtful, serious-minded principles to get us beyond the increasingly shrill and often stupid rhetoric from the right and left in North American civic life.  If this can help, I can only say, read on!  Spread the word!  







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December 12, 2015

SPECIAL 3-DAY ONLY SALE: "The Crucifixion" and more by Fleming Rutledge and Michael Gorman 35% OFF. (Sale ends Wednesday, December 16, 2015.)

We have most of the books by Fleming Rutledge & Michael Gorman (see list below) on sale at a big savings. These deep discounts will only be offered through Wednesday, December 16, 2015.

After that they will revert to our customary BookNotes 20% OFF. 

To receive the 35% off please type in the order form page the CODE 35% OFF. 

The Crucifixion Rutledge.jpgThe Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ  Fleming Rutledge (Eerdmans) $45.00

     Sin is the colossal X-factor in human life. It is not something we do so much as it is our mortal foe. The Cross rears up over all human life because it is the scene of the God's climactic battle against the Power of a malignant and implacable Enemy. 

A few days ago Beth, our daughter Stephanie and I had the great privilege of hearing the respected and eloquent Episcopalian scholar, pastor and preacher, Fleming Rutledge, hosted by the Ecumenical Institute at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore MD.  One of the first women ordained into the Episcopal Church, she has served churches in New England and, for more than a decade, in New York City.  She is known as an excellent preacher and as a particularly thoughtful, theologically moderate voice, calling us to live out sturdy faith, based on a serious awareness of the great tradition of historic Christian faith and generous orthodoxy.  Which is to say, among other things, she is no fundamentalist, but resists the ways in which modernity has eroded conventional doctrines and core Christian convictions. 

Here is an interview conducted by PBS from a few years back, even hinting that she is working on this finally released book (although you will notice she had, apparently, a different working title.)

As I've said, Dr. Rutledge is known around the world as a scholar and pastor, and she has several collections of sermons that have been published -- including one on Romans that is excellent. She has twice been a resident Fellow at the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton.  In 2010 she was a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome.

Her new book The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ, is getting considerable acclaim, and it was fabulous that the EI invited her. We are grateful to them for the opportunity to serve the gathering by displaying her books.  Weighing in at 607 pages (including the footnotes and indexes) it is certainly a work to take seriously.

Here's what Dr. Craig Higgins (a PCA pastor and board member of the World Reformed Fellowship) wrote in his recent review of the new book:

My friends who get their exercise by running often speak of experiencing a "runner's high"; I wouldn't know. But I do know that, having just finished Fleming Rutledge's The Crucifixion, I am experiencing a "reader's high." This book is simultaneously challenging & captivating, demanding & exhilarating. Having finished it, I can't imagine not having read it.

"Reader's high." Nice, huh?

With exceptional Southern charm and self-confidence -- I couldn't help but think of Barbara Brown Taylor and her gracious forthrightness in sermons that are at once delightful and arresting -- Fleming did not back peddle in her frustration with liberal theological trends that fail to grapple with the full teaching of Scripture or the horrors of our age of terror and genocide.  The holiness of God? Wrath? Judgement? The "Assize" of God?   The relationship of Christ's death and Older Testament themes of Passover and Exodus?  These are some of the themes we must work with when trying to understand Christ's atoning death and vindicating resurrection, even if we dare not talk about them simplistically. "God has a case against us and the good news is that Christ is the advocate for the defense" she preached, and it was a thrilling moment! In a way, she sounded like a modern day Karl Barth, standing in that broadly described Reformed tradition.

This kind of theological work is complex, particularly since theological discussions are so polarized, these days; some in the church have overstated (and some understate or rule out altogether) such topics.  One short book that generously brings many varied models and voices to the table is one in the "Living Theology" series edited by Tony Jones,  A Community Called Atonement by Scott McKnight (Abingdon; $18.99.) I highly recommend that for an entry-level introduction. Much more complex, but an excellent overview of 10 different theories and approaches, is Saving Power: Theories of the Atonement and Forms of the Church by Dr. Peter Schmiechen (Eerdmans; $39.50) who is the former President of Lancaster Theological Seminary here in Central PA.

Further, provocatively, she suggests, few make a point of accounting for the gruesome, degrading, public manner of Christ's death by crucifixion, "a mode of execution so loathsome that the ancient Romans never spoke of it in polite society."  How does this realization impact our faith, our discipleship, our ethics?  As many have observed, this is academic, but not too much so; it is aimed at clergy and educated congregants, not mostly the academic or scholarly world.

Rev. Dr. Rutledge attempted, and largely succeeded, her daunting task, presenting a brief overview of the new 670 page tour de force, The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ  It is a book that she has been working on, on and off, well, she said, "for really, a lifetime." It is a comprehensive study, analyzing both what the Bible teaches about the public execution of Jesus and the various schools of thought which attempt to explain it, and the rectification --- what a word! --that it brings. There has been a flurry of books in the last decade about this topic and numerous texts examining and proposing a new emphasis or framework.  I've read a number, but often come back to the very helpful, broad-ranging and readable book by John Stott, my favorite major book on the subject, The Cross of Christ (InterVarsity Press; $27.00.) Dr. Rutledge names that one in her book, as well.

Her's is truly one of the most magisterial works on the subject in our lifetime.

Love in Flesh and Bone- Exploring the Christmas Mystery.jpgThere were two respondents to Dr. Rutledge's lecture; first, Dr. Amy Richter, who wrote an exceptional book on the role of bodies in Christian theology, an Advent study, really, about the implications of the incarnation called Love in Flesh and Bone: Exploring the Christmas Mystery (Wipf & Stock; $17.00.)  Rev. Richter not only teaches New Testament at the Ecumenical Institute but is also a parish priest, so her very gracious evaluation of Rutledge's lecture and book include appreciation for how pastoral helpful it was. I appreciated this.

The heady and thick discussion about various schools of thought regarding the atonement yield fruitful insights that pay off in lived practices, and pastors and church leaders can more profoundly respond to the ethical demands of our faith in the modern world if we are well schooled in classic theology.  Richter observed - and Fleming was passionate about this in her response - that her insistence on a robust view of justification reverberates into habits and practices of just living in a fallen world. (It is a shorter book by a more conservative author, but I suspect Rutledge and Richter would appreciate Tim Keller's Generous Justice: How God's Grace Makes Us Just on how the doctrine of justification should compel us to be people of justice.)

undoing of death.jpgRutledge reminded us that we must be outraged, dealing with the register of radical evil.  "The story of Jesus," she says, "has cosmic implications" and surely one of these is that it gives us ways to understand the gravity of sin and the victory Christ wins over the ways of Death. (My favorite book of hers is a collection of Holy Week messages, responding to great Christian art, called The Undoing of Death, and she well understands the cosmic reverberations of that.  It makes me think of the line by Sam in Lord of the Rings who wonders if "everything sad will become untrue."  Indeed, in light of holocausts and terrorism and gross racism and mass starvation and modern slavery and on and on, we need the undoing of Death!)  Richter is right -- Rutledge is not just a stern Bible scholar, but a caring pastor who hopes this sturdy stuff will help us navigate these hard times, not falling for "cheap" reconciliation or shallow hopes.   She gave a nod to Miroslov Volf, in fact, as one scholar who has worked on this matter. (Just think of his important Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation.)

Rutledge-Gorman-624x391.jpgEcumenical Institute Professor and Bible scholar Michael Gorman gave a splendid response to Rutledge, too, and shared several areas in which her views works well alongside his own, the highly acclaimed and very important Pauline books such as Cruciformity: Paul's Narrative Spirituality of the Cross and the recent Becoming the Gospel: Paul, Participation, and Mission.  (In fact, one of the last becoming the gospel.jpgchapters in her book is called "Recapitulation, Incorporation, Participation" which I believe helps the conversation about substitution move towards a broader, Kingdom framework, as Gorman and his friend Tom Wright, for instance, have done in their scholarly treatises.  Gorman liked that her book starts with the credo from 1 Corinthians 2:2 "I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."  Rutledge seemed to suggest that if she were to do a follow up - her editors advised her to cut a third of the book out, moving the content to another, subsequent work - that it would be something along the lines of Cruciformity with an emphasis of how all this works out in daily discipleship for the life of the world.

Rutledge disagrees with Wright in his criticisms of what some call the "Apocalyptic School" of Pauline interpretation -- in part formed by the scholar Ernest Kasaemann. (Rutledge studied at Union in New York under St. Mary's most famous former professor, the late Raymond Brown who was influential as well.) This "apocalyptic" interpretive grid influences her New Testament work, bringing her into conversation with, although somewhat different from, N.T. Wright's now famous views of justification informed by his interpretation of "righteousness" in Paul seen as "covenant faithfulness."  Yet, she is fair and mostly quite thorough in her evaluations and debates with others. (Her footnotes are exceptional, and she discusses everyone from Ridderbos to Girard, from William Placher to Douglas John Hall; she said, jokingly, "doing the names and subject indexes almost killed me.") The book demanded a tremendous balancing act, holding up the big themes of Christus Victor and themes of justification, sacrifice, substitution (although not "penal") and recapitulation. 

Beyond a detailed overview, more than only a balancing act, this book -- or so it seems to me - is offering a new sort of "blending" and reformulation of classic, important stuff, in important, contemporary ways.  She works with the classic writings of the church Fathers, the medieval scholastics, and the Reformers as well as much 20th century scholarship, from Bonhoeffer and Barth to Desond Tutu. The Christus Victor motif and the concept of substitution merges with Ieanaeus' recapitulation model.  And through it all, she draws in insights from literature such as Flannery O'Connor and Walker Percy and her beloved Shakespeare. This is, quite simple, one of the most amazing books on this topic I've ever seen.

The Crucifixion Rutledge.jpgAnd I am not alone in raving. 

Here is a very thoughtful, thorough review. I am announcing it, inviting you to buy it, but I realize I haven't really evaluated it.  Here is a very fine review for your consideration.

The many, many endorsements in the front pages are stellar, commending the book - on and on they go, from many quarters, affirming its value and importance.

Here are a few that I invite you to read carefully.  This is truly one of the most acclaimed works of its kind in years.

Stanley Hauerwas
-- Duke Divinity School
"This is a work of a lifetime that could only be written by someone who has lived a life determined by the cross." 

Scot McKnight
-- author of The Jesus Creed
"In this amazingly complex but clear book Fleming Rutledge goes deftly where few seem willing to go -- to the variety of imaginations shaping early Christian explorations of the significance of Jesus' death. She is one of the few theologians who not only preach inclusivism but practice it by inviting all points of view into the discussion."

Marilyn McCord Adams
-- Rutgers University
"To those who think they want a maximally mellow God who overlooks our faults and accepts us just as we are, Rutledge's challenge is to 'get real.' Twentieth-century atrocities bear witness: there is something drastically wrong with the human condition, which only God can fix. Setting things right calls for crucifixion, not only Christ's but also ours. Rutledge has given us a very Pauline book, full of information and observations to provoke clergy to preach the cross to their congregations."

Leanne Van Dyk
-- Columbia Theological Seminary
"Before we can get to the glorious resurrection, we must take full account of the tragic necessity of the cross. . . . Penetrating and unflinching in its insistence on Jesus Christ, condemned, crucified, dead, and buried, this book powerfully demonstrates that the crucifixion of the Son of God is good news of cosmic and comprehensive scope."

Richard J. Mouw
-- Fuller Theological Seminary
"Though I have been thinking much about the cross of Christ for a half-century now, Fleming Rutledge has taught me many new things in this wonderful book. And where she addresses matters that I have long cherished, she has inspired me anew. This book is a gift to all of us who pray for a genuine revival of crucicentric preaching and cruciform discipleship!"

George Hunsinger
-- Princeton Theological Seminary
"After publishing numerous books of powerful sermons, remarkable for their biblical depth and their contemporary relevance, Fleming Rutledge has now produced this profound volume on the saving significance of Christ's death. She makes the welcome argument that Christus Victor themes need to be counterbalanced by priestly elements like substitution and expiation. . . . Here is the kind of strong theology that will undergird strong preaching. Preachers who take this book to heart could well revitalize the church."

Katherine Sonderegger
-- Virginia Theological Seminary
"Fleming Rutledge here lays out the horror of the cross with unflinching honesty and with a patient, full exposition of the rich themes of Christ's redeeming death. She does not shy away from the demands of her theological vision, taking up motifs of satisfaction, substitution, rectification, and divine wrath in turn. Throughout, Rutledge draws on the rich storehouse of a preacher. The whole world stands under her gaze -- literary examples, political folly and cruelty, horrendous evils of war and torment and torture, religious timidity and self-deception, human faithlessness and sin. But always the gospel rings out. Christ's cross has won the victory, and it is all from God. This book is a moving testimony to the courage, intelligence, and faithfulness of one of the church's premier preachers. Every student of the Scriptures needs this book."

John D. Witvliet
-- Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
"A deeply probing and richly evocative exploration of the central mystery of the Christian faith. This is a book to contemplate, to savor, to reread. It promises to nourish renewed Christian preaching, a new generation of Christian poets and hymnwriters, and ministries of witness, evangelism, pastoral care, worship, and Christian education that brim with doxological testimonies about the counter-intuitive, counter-cultural reality of Jesus' life-giving death. It is easy to glibly repeat Paul's claim that Jesus' death is a scandal and stumbling block. It is quite something else to let that claim transform how you perceive the world and the triune God who created it. This book confronts all that is glib and evokes that life-giving transformation."

Mark Galli
-- editor of Christianity Today
"I can hardly think of a book more necessary for our time. Many well-meaning attempts to summarize the good news today barely allude to the cross, and we're left with an anemic if not a false gospel. Read, mark, and inwardly digest this book if you want to learn about the cross that truly rectifies the ungodly, even the likes of you and me."

Paul Scott Wilson
-- University of Toronto
"In beautiful flowing words, Fleming Rutledge encourages the church to get over its often embarrassed silence on the crucifixion. Her immediate accomplishment is brilliant. She recovers a rich array of biblical images relating to Christ's death and places them within the final stages of a drama in which God is the principal actor and humanity has a vital role. Persistent readers will find their hearts transformed. Preachers will be emboldened to speak more frequently of the cross, contributing to the gospel renewal of the church."

Nicholas Wolterstorff
-- Yale University
"The word that came to my mind as I read Fleming Rutledge's book The Crucifixion was 'bracing': the book is bracing in its vigorous affirmation of the centrality of Christ's crucifixion in the Christian proclamation, bracing in its description of the unspeakable horror and shame of the crucifixion, bracing in its affirmation that we are one and all sinners, bracing in its identification and rejection of the many forms of theological silliness now inhabiting the church. Though meant for pastors and laypeople, this book will also benefit scholars. It carries its deep learning with eloquence and grace. I will be returning to it."

J. Louis Martyn
-- Union Theological Seminary
"In the crucifixion we sense anew the intersection at which Christian drama and Christian dogma meet one another with announcements that are emphatically universal and nothing less than cosmic. At that intersection we are truly fortunate to have the voice of Fleming Rutledge, one of the most gifted theological preachers of our time. In her writing we encounter the confluence of high drama and arresting dogma, as they work together to strengthen the preacher and provide a high-protein diet that will nourish the congregation to vigorous health."

Stephen Westerholm
-- McMaster University
"If churches of the twenty-first century are to bear any relation to those of the first, then the cross of Christ must return to the center of their proclamation and life: that, in essence, is the message of Fleming Rutledge's Crucifixion, a book that should serve to mediate much contemporary biblical scholarship on the subject to ministers and other interested readers. Unlike a good deal of that scholarship, however, Rutledge treats a variety of New Testament motifs that speak to the salvific effects of Christ's death, refusing to allow any one motif to so dominate the discussion as to exclude the others. Richly illustrated with examples from literature and current events, this book should prove a gold mine for preachers at the same time as it invites the careful reflection of every reader on the mystery of salvation."

Douglas Harink
-- The King's University, Edmonton, Canada
"In this bold, uncompromising, nuanced, and expansive work Rutledge takes us through -- and beyond -- theories of atonement, avoiding all merely individualistic, spiritualized, religious, moralistic, and therapeutic reductions of the meaning of the crucifixion. Rutledge resolutely proclaims the truth of Christ crucified. To all priests, preachers, and professors: if you care about the church and its mission in history, read this book!"

Joseph Mangina
-- University of Toronto
" 'Who put the roses on the cross?' asked Goethe, who in fact preferred that the brutal cross be covered in roses. Fleming Rutledge brushes the roses aside and asks us to look at the cross and, even more so, at Him who hung upon it for our sake. This is a book marked by outstanding exegesis, theology, and pastoral sensitivity -- a book for thinking Christians and even thinking unbelievers."

Martinus C. de Boer
-- VU University Amsterdam
"In this thoroughly readable book, preacher-theologian Fleming Rutledge demonstrates that she is also a fine exegete. She brings recent scholarship on Paul's apocalyptic theology (in particular the work of J. Louis Martyn) fruitfully to bear in her profound and far-ranging theological reflections on the crucifixion. Through careful exegetical study of the Bible in dialogue with a range of interpreters, she has produced a book that merits a wide readership among theologians, biblical scholars, and preachers."

Dirk Smit
-- University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
"Fleming Rutledge's reputation as a preacher is widely known, her rhetorical skills -- of logos, ethos, and pathos; of content, engagement, and passion -- widely respected. This treatment of the crucifixion -- the fruit of almost two decades, and indeed of a lifelong journey -- could in fact also be read as one long sermon. . . . What does it mean to say that Jesus Christ died for us? Honestly facing her own resistance to many traditional and contemporary framings of this question, she consults widely and delves deeply into biblical, historical, and interpretive material in search of her own answers. . . . Informing, reminding, critiquing, illustrating, unmasking, challenging, reassuring, encouraging, and inspiring, she writes for both preachers and listeners. The question Will it preach? is in fact her major concern. The answer can only be a resounding and grateful Yes!"

HERE ARE THE BOOKS WE HAVE ON SALE AT THE LIMITED TIME OFFER - 35% OFF (After Wednesday 12/16/15 they remain at 20% off for BookNotes readers.)


The Crucifixion Rutledge.jpgNo Ashamed of the Gospel .jpgundoing of death.jpgAnd God Spoke to Abraham- Preaching from the Old Testament.jpg

The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ (Eerdmans) $45.00 -- $29.25

Not Ashamed of the Gospel: Sermons from Paul's Letter to the Romans (Eerdmans) $22.00 - $14.30

The Undoing of Death (Eerdmans) $22.00 - $14.30

And God Spoke to Abraham: Preaching from the Old Testament (Eerdmans) $30.00 - $19.50


becoming the gospel.jpgCruciformity- Paul's Narrative Spirituality of the Cross.jpgInhaviting the Cruciform God.jpg

Apostle of the Crucified Lord- A Theological Introduction to Paul and His Letters .jpg

Becoming the Gospel: Paul, Participation, and Mission (Eerdmans) $28.00 - $18.20

Cruciformity: Paul's Narrative Spirituality of the Cross (Eerdmans) $38.00 -  $24.70

Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul's Narrative Soteriology  (Eerdmans) $25.00 - $16.25

Apostle of the Crucified Lord: A Theological Introduction to Paul and His Letters  (Eerdmans) $44.00 - $28.60     


35% OFF
three days only

(After 12-16-15 we offer them at a 20% off.)

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

inquire here
if you have questions or need more information
just ask us what you want to know

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

December 14, 2015

Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups (Ned Bustard / Square Halo Books) AND The Story of God's Love for You (Sally Lloyd-Jones) ON SALE

Yep, two new books, one certainly for grown-ups (but with pictures) and one for kids (without pictures.) This is gonna make your head spin --  telling about books that are sooo good, Revealed and The Story of God's Love for You.  Available now, on sale.

We love selling books about the Bible, and, of course, real Bibles.  There are so many good resources to help us understand that complex book, and the story of God's redemptive work.  We have introductory books for beginners, clear-eyed books struggling with the some of the harder portions, Old Testament overviews, New Testament introductions.  There are Bibles with notes, Bibles with good graphics and charts, "reader's editions" without verses, conservative elegant translations and easier-to-read renditions. We have large print and compact ones, inexpensive and pretty high end.  If you have questions about these sorts of things, do give us a call as we delight in helping folks find more and better Scripture study aids.

Today, I will tell you about two very, very different resources, both of which thrill us to no end.  They are so different in audience and style but, interestingly, the authors are in agreement about much that matters most: the God-breathed inspiration of the Bible, the narrative nature of its storied structure, how the hero of the drama is God (not the morals of this or that person in the plot, many of whom are flawed and stupid.) Both authors believe in what some call a Christo-centric reading, which simply means that Jesus is the heart of the plot-line of the Bible and is the incarnation of the God whose redemptive work is the driving force of the sweep of the story, a story of promise and deliverance. As one of the two authors has famously said "every chapter whispers His name."

If we can't say that during Advent we will miss much of the promissory nature of the season and Christmas will devolve into the sentiments of a baby bathed in lovely Christmas tree light, but not the grit of a covenant God rescuing the cosmos.

So the two books I'm about to describe - wildly different as they are - are in agreement about the importance and nature of the Holy Scriptures and how to best tell and teach it in order to find ourselves within that story as redeemed actors in the unfolding drama. They would both agree with the Hindu leader that Leslie Newbigin tells about in his fabulous, short, Bible overview, Walk Through the Bible, who said that the Bible must be "the true story of the whole world."

The first of the two books is easy to describe and although I will be brief, I hope you understand our great enthusiasm for it.  If you are a reader of BookNotes - occasional or faithful - and you care at all about the Bible being proclaimed well in our time, I think you should get this and pass it on to a kid you know.  The second, well, that's going to take some explaining...

story of god's love for you.jpg

The Story of God's Love For You Sally Lloyd-Jones (Zonderkidz) $14.99, sale price = $11.99  I have raved about Ms. Lloyd-Jones' popular The Jesus Storybook Bible before, celebrating the colorful, artful illustrations, the moving cadence, the whimsy and humor and yet deadly-serious conviction that Christ is the heart of the unfolding drama of Scripture, the coherent plot that makes up the 66 Bible books.  Indeed, the subtitle on the cover says, "Every Chapter Whispers His Name" and the inter-textual reading offered for preschoolers is at times nothing short of remarkable.  We do hope you know it.

Jesus Storybook Bible.jpgYep, the Jesus Storybook Bible is one of our favorite children's Bibles, not because it covers as much as some do, or is "the" best children's Bible, but because of the way it tells the story, the themes it whispers, the lovely language it uses to convey a Christ-exalting, creation-healing, all-of-life-redeemed vision of where the plot of the Bible is going. Its compact shape and bright colors make it ideal for little ones. The most popular edition is a smallish hardback, although there is a fantastic larger sized gift edition that we recommend.

two books.jpgBecause so many people have grown to appreciate the lively storytelling and delightful blend of sweet and serious language used to tell this singular story of the unfolding drama of God's redemptive plan, and value the class and charm and robust theological vision of the text, they've sometimes given this Bible designed for young children to older kids.  I know youth pastors who have used it in high school ministry and - okay, I'll admit it, happily - I've read it out loud on occasion in my own adult Sunday school classes.

And so, the publishers acted on the wishes of so many and created a Jesus Storybook Bible for older kids and middle schoolers.  The text is unchanged but the title has changed to The Story of God's Love For You and the children's art has been removed.  It is now a very handsome hardback, with blue ink, and cool info-graphic type symbols in front of each book of the Bible.

every sentence whispers.jpgIt looks great for all ages, just a touch of cool graphic appeal, and a small, handy size with heavy-stock paper.  It is a fabulous looking little book.  There is a regular hardback (the price shown above is $14.99 before the discount) and there is also a very nice leather-like gift edition that comes in a paper slipcase ($19.99 before discount.)

We've already sold it to pastors using it with elementary aged children who have outgrown the picture-book style and for a middle school Sunday school class; a teacher of a small confirmation class thought it would work with young teens who would appreciate its tender, personal cadence and its big picture vision.  Kudos to Ms. Lloyd-Jones and Zondervan for working to put this project together. Order a few today!

revealed.jpgRevealed: A Bible Storybook for Grown Ups edited and compiled by Ned Bustard (Square Halo Books) $36.99  sale price = $33.29 This, gentle readers, is a treasure of a book that came from a brilliant idea -- an adult Bible overview using mature, suggestion-rich, high-quality visual art.  Much of the art is original, commissioned or created for this volume, which was years in the making. It may be a bit controversial -- some of the art is (shall we say) vivid -- and it may not be immediately evident why such a creative resource is so useful, but I think this is nearly a historic publication, and you should seriously consider owning it.

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There are some notable distinctives of this picture Bible for grown-ups, which I will explain anon.  After the holidays I hope to do a more thorough, detailed review of this as I am smitten with it, and have spent a lot of time lost in its artwork, even having seen close up some of the remarkable originals. There are back stories to tell (Ned has been working on this for years!) and there are interpretation of texts to debate, art choices to evaluate, and so much to discuss that I simply cannot do it now. Perhaps other publications will review it seriously -- Christianity Today? Books & Culture? The Christian Century? Image Journal? Comment? -- as I assume Christian arts organizations like CIVA, IAM, and Fuller's Brehm Center surely will.

revealed in store.jpgFor now, join us in celebrating its limited release; we are the only place to currently stock it!

As you can imagine, it would make a very surprising gift under somebody's tree.  Bible lover? Art fan? Book person? I can assure you they will be intrigued and delighted and won't have expected it.  Revealed is rare and brand, brand new. 

Here are three things you should know as we launch this extraordinary volume into the publishing world. 


Firstly, the art is all black and white, using styles that seem to hang together well. The editor - manager of the arts-oriented publisher, Square Halo Books - told me that the early vision and initial work for the book compiled too much, and the diversity of art styles ended up appearing as a distraction.  That Mr. Bustard limited this revealed art.jpgbig project to woodcuts and lithographs, etchings, and contemporary modern photography and graphic art allowed for the book to be visually coherent. From classic lithographs by Durer to sketches by Rembrandt to old school woodcuts (including two by the historically significant Eric Gill) to quite powerful (and, occasionally nearly whimsical) modern ones to a few very contemporary photographs and mixed-medium art pieces, this book holds together visually.  It is designed well -- one of Bustard's great gifts for which he has won awards is creating sharp page layouts.


Secondly, besides the coherent look and feel, and perhaps more importantly, the hermeneutic itself is coherent: Revealed believes the Bible is God's Word, revelatory, speaking still.  Bustard has read some of the best books (like The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story by Michael Goheen & Craig Bartholomew) and wonderful little essays like Calvin Seerveld's "How To Read the Bible Like a Grown-Up Child" so understands that Scripture is to be entered into as a story, trusted, lived out.

Therefore, these are not random pictures based on random episodes or eccentric texts, compiled with some quirky agenda, but a knowing, faithful unfolding of the canonical plot-line, with an unflinching look.  More than anything, this is a Bible story book, enhancing our understanding of the whole of Scripture.  Bustard's own annotations to the texts and his exceptionally astute comments about the art help us "get the point" (even if I might argue he occasionally over-reaches just a bit in his homilies on the Scriptural passages, perhaps oddly worried that the graphic art wasn't enough to carry the story along.)  Still, mostly, his text is good, the art insights very helpful, making this a solid and stimulating introduction to or enhancement of the Bible for those who believe the Bible is somehow deeply, truly, true.

The short reflections he offers, next to the Scriptural text itself (each on one page, facing the full-page art piece on the right hand part of the spread), includes short quotes and citations, too, from the likes of N.T. Wright, Luci Shaw, C.S. Lewis, Bono, Timothy Keller, Denis Haack, and more. 

I suppose you realize that this classy work could serve well as an introduction to the real-world, complex plot of the Book for those who may not yet believe.  Come to think of it, this would make an ideal gift for skeptics, or those a bit cynical about how evangelicals portray the Bible these days, or those who have drifted from church or faith. Bustard himself, like many of us, frets that some in the watching world, when invited to consider the authority of Scripture, think firstly of images of Westboro Baptists or the kitschy angles mass produce by Precious Moments. He hopes to offer, in Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-ups "the Bible as it really is - in all its raw, violent, and sexy glory."  It will nearly force us to take a fresh look.

After all, as Bustard writes in an excellent introductory essay, "Christ came to save the lost...not the misplaced. A book that does not address the deep depravities and gut-wrenching sorrows of the human condition is no good to any of us, believer of unbeliever alike."


Rahab.jpgThirdly, by design, this handsome work attempts to tell the story of God's holy faithfulness amidst human sin and stupidity, care and cruelty, faith and frustration, by highlighting what some Bible curricula leaves out, namely, some of the sex and a lot of the violence.  I suspect Ned, who is by nature culturally conservative, must have been inspired by some pressing muse, getting this subversive idea of doing an R-rated adult Bible project; he wanted to offer a gift book that might be arresting, really noticed, showing it slant, helping people engage the reality of the messy truth of God working in mucky history. (The Bible is not so sacred as to somehow avoid the human, the offensive, the tragic, indeed it at times seems to make a point that God shows up among the broken and bad and badly broken.)

The piece shown here above is a linocut of Rahab; Bustard quotes Denis Haack of Critique magazine who writes of it,

"Rahab is usually depicted as the scandalously promiscuous woman who was saved by grace, always with the impression given that since someone much more low class and tasteless than I can be saved, there is hope for the likes of me, who is a sinner, but not really all that bad compared to her..."

But the composition of this print forces the viewer to look up to Rahab, begging the question: are you going to humble yourself and take salvation offered by this holy hooker?  Bustard cites Hebrews 11:31, and then notes that she "ended up marrying one of the spies and her son was Boaz, the husband of Ruth -- placing her in the genealogical line of Jesus Christ."

steve prince.jpgBustard studied solid books that explored the "texts of terror" and the good and bad of sexuality in the Scriptures. He debated the meaning of difficult passages with wise Bible scholars.  He considered the ways in which these contested texts were handled in earlier eras (in commentaries, sermons, and, of course, by older artists, who, we've come to discover, didn't share the Victorian queasiness that has shaped many in the modern Western church.) He had no intent of being salacious, nor does he want to trivialize the important questions of how to help form readers in true godliness. Clearly, Revealed is not a silly book or a novelty item (there are some of those out there, scintillating for effect or even mocking in tone about the rough stuff in the Bible.)

You will have to read for yourself the careful analysis of the wholesome eroticism in Slow Dance by Steve Prince, shown here (illuminating 1 Corinthians 6:15 - 7:6) but it is gritty and good.

Graphic as it may be at times (I wanted to turn away from the awful power of the portrayal of one individual death shown as a rendering of the genocide of Joshua 10, and the rape of Tamar in 2 Samuel is portrayed very strongly by Erin Cross) it is on the whole aesthetically nuanced and not always blunt, sometimes merely suggestive, a fine example of the balancing act between artful integrity and clarity of illustration. These prints are, after all, curated, mixed and matched, collated and combined with their aesthetic power harnessed for the sake of breaking open The Book. Vivid, disturbing, striking, moving, at times breath-taking, these are mostly stellar works and together they create what must be called a tour de force. I know of nothing even close to it on the market.

I will most likely review this in greater detail here at BookNotes, but you may want to know that it is soft-back 9 x 10 inches, solid, over 260 sturdy pages. Of the 130-plus images about a third were newly commission for this project.  Besides great ancient art, the woodcuts and etchings and lithographs of contemporary artists are shown, work by renowned artists such as Tanja Butler, Wayne Forte,  the exceptional Edward Knippers, Chris Stoffel Overvoorde, and the spectacular African American craftsman Steve Prince. Some of the finest pieces are from a Lancaster collaborator with Bustard, Matthew L. Clark, and one exceptional piece was done by Margaret Bustard. 

I wish there was a way I could show more of this, as the pieces are very compelling, and arranged so well.  Even the opening inside cover and the closing inside cover pieces are offered with an intentional touch: Durer on creation, and Durer on new creation.  The insight and care put into this is simply phenomenal. 

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Consider these delightfully written, compelling endorsements:

Revealed sets out to crush any notion that the Bible is a safe, inspirational read. Instead the artwork here, historic and contemporary, takes a warts-and-all approach to even the most troubling passages, trading well-meaning elision for unvarnished truth. If you gaze deeper, Revealed springs another surprise, too: it debunks the equally prevalent misconception that a sacred anthology ages in the making can offer no single, unifying message. To see that message, however, might just require a second look at verses that make the pious avert their eyes."

J. Mark Bertrand--novelist, speaker, and founder of the Bible Design Blog


"Of all the stories the biblical authors could have written down for posterity, Revealed homes in on this deleterious collection. These provocative, often-shocking, and relentlessly pervasive stories were not only included in Scripture, but are integral to understanding its message. Revealed not only forces us to look again at those stories, but artfully asks us to meditate on them, engaging both our moral and literary imagination."

Andrew Johnson--author of Biblical Knowing: A Scriptural Epistemology of Error


"Revealed reminds us that verbal metaphor does not always translate smoothly into visual form. Awkward or not however, visual form does grab our attention and generates a more graphic sense of what words may be saying. So an illustrated text may come alive for us in fresh ways. What comes to life in Revealed is that the Bible is a collection of stories about human foibles and

failure rather than triumph. The surprising images in this illustrated Bible remind us once again that we are saved by Grace."

Joel Sheesley--professor of art at Wheaton College


"If your Bible reading threatens to become a matter of simply "going through the motions," this is the book for you! Eye-opening woodcuts, lithographs and etchings accompany short Scripture readings, along with evocative blurbs which, for all their brevity, bear much theological and aesthetic wisdom. This one really is for grown-ups."

Joseph W. Smith III--author of Sex and Violence in the Bible


"Revealed collects a smart range of beautiful printmaking approaches both old and new to illustrate some of the Bible's more unique and uncomfortable moments--opening up a fascinating new way to read a familiar text."

Brenton Good--professor of art at Messiah College


"Revealed is a poignant reminder that worldly pessimism isn't dark enough, nor is worldly optimism bright enough. The works of art herein are worthy of thorough, meditative study. You will emerge with a deeper sense of God's willingness to engage the malignancy of the fall."

William Edgar--professor of apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary


"In Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grownups difficult passages from scripture--especially the stories "nice" people find offensive--are paired with the art of printmakers and an explanation of what is conveyed by each image. Our imaginations are enlivened as we are led from the shocking murder in the First Family to the terrifying holiness of God. Revealed reminds us that God does not blink or evade the true story of human violence and injustice, but neither does he turn from our intimate acts of love."

Margie Haack--author of The Exact Place and God in the Sink



The Story of God's Love For You
Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups

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December 17, 2015

GREAT BOOKS for children, older kids, teens -- ON SALE NOW

Kids books.  Oh my, where do we begin? I don't write enough about them, but we have a sizable room here in the shop with all manner of children's resources.  We have non-book items, too, like CDs, including the new Roots for Rain Waiting Songs, and our latest cool thing, an interactive book/game with 20 blocks like dice that invite storytelling, nicely put together by our friend Daniel Nayeri, called How to Tell a Story (Workman; $19.99.)

I'm going to describe some fun and very creatively produced picture books, but first want to give a shout out to a few more serious books for middle-school readers or teens. 

We have these in stock and at least until we sell out, we can ship promptly. The US Postal Service's Priority Mail is cheaper than UPS and just as quick and sometimes quicker.  Contact us today and you'd still have these before Christmas.  ALL ARE 20% OFF THE REGULAR PRICE SHOWN.  We'll deduct the discount when you order at our secure on line page or call.


orbiting-jupiter-by-gary-schmidt-0544462645.jpgOrbiting Jupiter Gary Schmidt (Clarion) $17.99  

I hope you know the important Newberry Award winner Gary Schmidt, who not only is famous and respected in the youth, YA, and teen book world, but teaches writing at Calvin College in Grand Rapids and is a significant Christian leader in the writing arts. (Oh how I loved his children's novel, The Wednesday Wars which is out in paperback, now.) We are fans of his work, and this very new one, Orbiting Jupiter, is about a 12-year old boy who gains a new 15 year-old foster brother who just got out of juvenile detention and himself has fathered a child, a child he hasn't met, named Jupiter. It's not a long story, and is sure to hold the attention of youth, but it is heavy. One critic said this is Schmidt at his very best. 183 pages, hardback.

Get Your Story Straight- A Teen's Guide to.jpgGet Your Story Straight: A Teen's Guide to Learning and Living the Gospel Kristen Hatton (New Growth Press) $17.99

We stock most everything of this publisher, best known, perhaps, for their substantive "Gospel Centered Life" small group curriculum (that had been created by World Harvest Mission, now known as Serge.) This is a remarkable, Bible-based devotional with workbooky sorts of questions to ponder and some places for journaling. Its solid, rather Reformed, vision centers on grace and how Christ is King of all of life. We are called into His Kingdom story of renewal and restoration and teens, too, are invited to take faith seriously, to understand heavy stuff, and to take up their own resistance to the idols of the selfie culture. This is nice, but serious, joyful, but demanding, storied and full of stories, Scripture stories of truth and goodness.  It's 325 pages in 52 chapters -- one a week for a year!

A Wolf at the Gate Mark Van Steenwyk,.jpgA Wolf at the Gate Mark Van Steenwyk, art by Joel Jedstrom (Mennonite Worker Press) $12.99 

When I've described this before I've talked about the cool art -- done in full color, conjuring an old silkscreen press -- and how handsomely this small book has been designed and crafted. I have explained that this is actually a retelling of an old tale which is part of the legends that have grown up around the life of Saint Francis of Assisi.  I've even explained that some of the proceeds have gone to the urban care ministry of the author and their radical mission among the poor in Minneapolis.  But enough of the background; here is what is says on the back:

Francis-rework1-200x300.jpgAt night, the Blood Wolf prowls near the village of Stonebriar. She devours chickens and goats and cows and cats. Some say children are missing. But this murderous wolf isn't the villain of our story; she's the hero!  Settle in and read a tale of tooth and sword, of beggars and lords, of outlaws and wild beasts. It is a story of second chances and the power of love. This is the story of the Wolf at the Gate.

Concerned about the xenophobia and violent response to fear in our culture? This is a beautiful story, made in a very street-level, hipster styling, that any cool kid would love to have, I think, and will will over a counter-narrative to all that.    It's well told, just 75 pages, on nice creamy paper,  a little oversized, making it a very nice paperback edition that makes a great gift.

A Chameleon, A Boy, and a Quest J.A. jpgA Chameleon, A Boy, and a Quest J.A. Myhre, illustrated by Acacia Masso (New Growth Press/Serge) $15.99

It seems that the well-traveled religious tradition of giving kids missionary stories has somewhat declined, and I was simply delighted to see this fairly recent publisher releasing an entertaining, spiritually-alive, adventuresome tale of life on the foreign mission front.  At first I thought it was a standard missionary bio, but realized quickly that it is fiction, fiction tinged with what more highbrow scholars might call "magical realism." One scholar and mystery writer says, "It is like a Narnia tale set in the African bush."

The main character in this novella is 10-year old Mu, and readers of all ages can journey through Africa with Mu, discovering how one simple encounter can change everything. 

The gospel themes are fairly subtle, the adventure vivid, the storytelling and writing quite fascinating.  The author, J.A. Myhre, serves as a doctor with Serge in East Africa where she has worked for over two decades.  (She is passionate about health care for the poor, training local doctors and nurses, promoting childhood nutrition and such, but we are getting ahead of ourselves.) This fantastical tale allows East Africa to come alive in the mind's eye of the reader, and the story of the chameleon (and a dog, too) is sure to appeal to older children and young teens. One reviewer says A Chameleon, A Boy, and a Quest "is rich in African texture." Mindy Belz writes that "It's a journey rich in the beauty and wonder of Africa, but it's also - importantly - a lesson on redemption and sacrifice."  Nice. 160 pages

secrets-of-the-ancient-manual-revealed-every-dragon-slayer-s-guide-to-the-bible-26.jpgSecrets of the Ancient Manual Revealed! Every Dragon Slayer's Guide to the Bible Sir Wyvern Pugilist (Paraclete Press) $15.99 

Perhaps you recall a few years our rave review of Sir Wyvern Pugilist's debut story, a matte black book designed to look like a mysterious, ancient manual, called Dragon Slayers: The Essential Training Guide for Young Dragon Fighters, Based Wholly on the Practices of the Great Dragon Slayers of Old and the Wisdom of the Ancient Manuel.  Yep, that's the title, and the secrets of said Ancient Manuel are offered as kids learn the serious art of spiritual warfare.  I'm not Dragon Slayers .jpgkidding, this is a hoot and a half and serious, maybe deadly serious.  Yes, it names all kinds of species of dragons and writes about their "absolutely putrid, exceedingly loathsome and revolting breath" but it also gives good guidance on prayer and putting off the temptations of evil.

This one has look that is almost as cool and the page design is filled with graphics and fonts and pictures that will capture the imagination of anybody reading fantasy, Harry Potter type tales, or medieval battle stuff. Secrets of the Ancient Manual Revealed! Is an overview of the Bible, mostly, and while the first was truly about spiritual warfare and the armor of God, this is about the Word, fun, but informative.  

One reviewer, a coordinator of children's ministry at an Episcopalian parish, says it "draws from a rich and fabulous literary tradition... and in so doing invites us to become more familiar with the Christian story of creation, fall and redemption."

This is just a slightly oversized paperback, 205 pages. 


Edgar Wants to Be Alone .jpgEdgar Wants to Be Alone Written and illustrated by Jean-Francois Dumont (Eerdmans) $16.00 

Edgar the rat was furious. He had been out walking, when suddenly he noticed that an earthworm was following him.  Edgar didn't want company, he wanted to be alone. He is determined to get rid of this menacing shadow, and recruits other animals to help him get this worm away from him. In a hilarious set of episodes Edgar eventually realizes that he might have been part of the problem all along. It's a zany story, wonderfully illustrated, with some kind of moral, maybe about humility or keeping an open mind or trusting others for help, or maybe it's just a crazy, fun parable about the unexpected obvious that can make us laugh.  I love this French author's hilariously anti-xenophobic parable, The Chicken Built a Wall, too.  Yay.

Never Ever Jo Empson.jpgNever Ever Written and illustrated by Jo Empson (Child's Play) $7.99

This is one of the more wild and eccentric picture books this year, both subtle and at times nearly crazed... you may recall her weirdly wonderful book about grief called Rabbityness that we promoted a few years back. This one is about a child that complains that "nothing ever, ever, ever happens to me."  Of course all kinds of stuff is happening (you can imagine the response of little ones who see the purple pig flying by) and the stuff that happens gets wilder and more interesting as the pages unfold. It is said that Never Ever displays Empson's "inimitable sense of fun, her love of storytelling and surprise, and her delight in the magical world of the imagination."  Short, sweet, with a real lesson about realizing the amazing nature of the ordinary. It's not Brother Lawrence, I'll admit, but it might be a start.  Yes, kiddos, stuff happens. Wake up.

Just for Today.jpgJust for Today Written by Saint John XXIII,  illustrated by Bimba Landmann(Eerdmans) $16.00

This classy hardback with somewhat of a medieval look is not about the current Pope, who even children have heard of, but an older one from the mid-20th century.  This is John's little intention, his declaration of how he was going to live for God, moment by moment, day by day.  He actually said some of this when he was 7 years-old, it is said, and developed it into a written rule years later. John served as pope from 1958 until his death in 1963. During his lifetime he helped save the lives of thousands of Jews fleeing the Holocaust, made a significant effort to resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis, and founded the Second Vatican Council. He was canonized in April of 2014.   This nice reproduction of his "Decalogue" shows how we can live each day in a helpful spirit.  Nice, with just a little edge to the bright art.

little-big.jpgLittle Big Written and illustrated by Jonathan Bentley (Eerdmans) $16.00

Who doesn't like a book with a giraffe on the cover? This story starts with a child saying, "Being little is no good. That's because being big is better."

Well, of course these fantastic watercolors portray all kinds of funny stuff and get the child into situations where being big may be a hindrance. Soon -- at least after some adventures -- he comes to see that "being little is best of all."

I offered this as a bit of a parable at a gathering of leaders from small congregations this past fall, helping us see that small things sometimes can do things that larger institutions cannot.  But, let's be honest: I was stretching; it's not E.F. Schumacher's Small Is Beautiful book about localist economics:  it's just a goofy kid's book about being a small child.  What fun, and what a nice lesson to remind them that they are okay, "just the way they are."

Beautiful Hands Bret Baumgarten.jpgBeautiful Hands Bret Baumgarten, illustrated by Kathryn Otoshi (Blue Dot Press) $17.99

This may be the most delightful, eye-catching, tenderly exciting children's picture book in years!  It is made entirely (or so it seems) with kid's handprints, fingers and thumb-prints, palms and multiple hands, making remarkable gestures in bright, bright paint. This is so simple yet so incredibly creative, you will be delighted and the more you study it the more amazed you'll be.  Some customers literally gasp as we turn the pages.

The text is, again, simple, but surprising;  both sweet and profound.  

Otoshi working.jpg"What will do you with your hands today?" it is asked.  

Will you lift? What will you lift?  Spirits? 
Will you touch? What will you touch?  Hearts? 

Will you plant?  What will you plant?  Ideas?

There's a backstory, too, for this book; Otoshi is a very renowned and creative picture book designer, and Baumgarten  is a dad fighting cancer, and the two came together to collaborate with this life-giving project, something for Bret to leave his own children, really.  In an interview in the School Library Journal, Otoshi said,

I work with symbolism in my stories. For Beautiful Hands, I saw there could be wordplay between the tangible and the intangible--TOUCH hearts; LIFT spirits; REACH for love. Since this was a legacy book for his family, I thought it would be nice to have Noah, Sofie, and his wife, Deborah, to be physically engaged in the book's process as it all came together. So all their handprints, including Bret's and my own, are in the story.

And 100s more, actually. I wish we could show you how much fun and how inspiring and how beautiful this colorful book is. It's very nice. I'm not sure why I say this, exactly, but it might appeal to those who loved 2013's break-out. The Day the Crayons Quit and this year's The Day the Crayons Came Home.   Sweet stuff, about connections and home and making a difference.

Fur, Fins, and Feathers.jpgFur, Fins, and Feathers: Abraham Dee Bartlett and the Invention of the Modern Zoo Written and illustrated by Cassandre Maxwell (Eerdmans) $17.00

The cut paper collage and mixed-media art in this great book is tremendous - not overdone or artfully designed for adults or to merely wow the viewer (as some seem to be.) Iit is perfect --  an aesthetically pleasing, creative, useful style, making this a delight to behold, but with the focus on the story. Importantly, the story is really, really good and something I think kids will be interested in. Fur, Fins, and Feathers is about the person who essentially created the first modern zoo (in the mid-1800s in London.) A person of deep faith, Abraham Dee Bartlett loved animals from the time of his childhood, and this picture book explains his passion and his principles about caring well for God's creatures. His vision was to keep animals in their habitats, treating them well, educating others about their glory and needs, helping moderns respect and co-exist with wilderness and the creatures of the wild.  He worked tirelessly at the London Zoo to ensure that the animals were happy and healthy.  This is a great book, inspiring and informative with lots of facts and lots of fun.

The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch .jpgThe Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch Chris Barton, illustrated by Don Tate (Eerdmans) $17.00

Eerdmans continues to be respected among the best scholars and practitioners of children's literature, and their picture books win awards world wide. This is a great example of a book that tells a story that even adults should know. It is wonderfully illustrated - whimsically, I'll admit - and told with passion and grit. It is a fun story, but a serious one, too, about heroism success, and, yes, about the scourge of racism.

John Roy Lynch had an Irish father and an enslaved mother. By the law of the South before the Civil War, that made John Roy and his brother half Irish and all slave.  John Roy thrived after Emancipation and was appointed to serve as a justice of the peace and was eventually elected into the U.S. Congress where he worked to ensure that freedman like himself were truly free.  This is a lively look at Reconstruction through the life of one of the first African American congressmen and is truly interesting.  

There is a long and interesting historical note in the back that says, among other things:

Between 1870 and 1877 there were sixteen African Americans who served in the U.S. Congress from former Confederate states.

But there were only six more who served between 1878 and 1901.

And between 1902 and 1972 there were zero.  What happened?

Roger Is Reading a Book Written and illustrated by Koen Van Biesen .jpgRoger Is Reading a Book Written and illustrated by Koen Van Biesen (Eerdmans) $16.00

This is an example of a European children's picture book picked up and redone for US readers. It is slick and cool in its jazzy drawings, funnier the second time through as more and more things seem to appear.  The story is simple: Roger is reading and is disturbed by a rambunctious little girl named Emily through the apartment wall - she is shown on the left hand page of the spread and Roger and his chair and his book on the right.  He goes over to her place, knocks on the door, and says, "Shhh.  Roger is reading." Emily tries a different game, but this time it's even louder, and so it goes, Roger traipsing over to get her to pipe down, insisting that he needs to read his book, and the little girl doing more and more and more outrageous things to cause noise.  The battle of wits continues and then ends - spoiler alert, here - when she is given a book, and she now wants to be quiet and read!  Ahh, the power of the book, the goodness of solitude.  There's a surprise funny ending, then, too.  

Brother Giovanni's Little Reward.jpgBrother Giovanni's Little Reward: How the Pretzel Was Born Anna Egan Smucker, illustrated by Amanda Hall (Eerdmans) $17.00

What a jovial and sweet little book this is, full of colorful medieval monastic images and good-hearted monks at the monastery bakery.  But the baker has to teach the children their prayers, and that is not going so well. With an important visit from the Bishop rapidly approaching, Brother Giovanni must figure out how to use his gift to motivate the children to learn. There are some colorful shades of Tomie DePaolo here, some think, and some good insight about using one's gifts and talents -- and even a recipe for home-made pretzels. Nice!

Just Like I Wanted Elinoar Keller.jpgJust Like I Wanted Elinoar Keller & Naama Peleg Segal, illustrated by Aya Gordon-Noy (Eerdmans) $17.00

Originally published in Israel, this is one of my favorite kids books of the year! What great art - again, paper-cut collage and mixed medium, giving it a lively, interesting, curious look -- it tells a story about a child making an art project.

The story is mostly simple: what happens when one simply can't color inside the lines?  "No matter how determined you are to draw the perfect picture, it's not always easy to stay inside the lines! Sometimes, though, mistakes can make a perfect picture even better." Creative types (or those who like to make excuses, perhaps) or those who like to experiment, listen up: the little star of this book is your new patron saint.

The Red Bicycle- The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle .jpgThe Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle Jude Isabella, illustrated by Simone Shin (Kids Can Press) $18.95

Every year there is a new book in the informative non-fiction series called Citizen Kid. (Learn more about them here. ) We've featured many over the years, such as Mimi's Village (about basic health care in a poor village), Planet Ark (about preserving the Earth's biodiversity), One Well (about the story of water on Earth) and more. Many loved One Hen which is sort of a Heifer Project type story, and last year we promoted Razia's Ray of Hope an inspiring book about a young girl and her dream of education.

This new one, The Red Bicycle is tremendous, really, really interesting, and I am sure it will be fascinating to some kids who tend to not want to read other sorts of storybooks. These informative books do come to us as a story, though, and in this one, a girl named Alisetta sees a bike without ever knowing that it had traveled across the ocean from North American where it once belonged to Leo. The author used to be the editor of YES magazine and is a science writer who has turned her considerable talents to this fabulous, complex, educational and very inspiring story.

We have a stack of these sitting here and have been eager to have somebody buy them - I'm sure you'll enjoy learning about the many places "Big Red" goes, from the bike repair shop and donation project center in Leo's town to the container ship leaving from the US docks, across the ocean to Koudougou in Burkina Faso. And there the story really takes off. Oh the difference that bike makes!

Kudos to Kids Can Press and CitizenKid that inform children around the world and inspire them to better global citizens.    Watch a one minute trailer for the book here.

B Is for Bethlehem- A Christmas Alphabet.jpgB Is for Bethlehem: A Christmas Alphabet Isabel Wilner, illustrated by Elisa Kleven (Worthy Publishing Group) $16.99

When I was listing some children's Advent and Christmas books a week or so ago I really wanted to show you this one, but the list was growing long. Now, I really want to list it, and exclaim about its colorful, curious, busy-ness and the wonderful, celebratory art it offers in this rhyming telling of various parts of the Christmas story.  Here's what I like about this: the artwork reminds me of Eastern European culture, maybe even some sort of refugee or gypsy culture, bringing to mind the work of, say, Patricia Pollocca (I hope you know The g is for glory.jpgKeeping Quilt, or her others with this look.) Indeed, B Is for Bethlehem won a number of mainstream book awards 25 years ago when it was first published, including being a coveted "Pick of the List" from the American Bookseller in 1990. It has been re-issued this year and we are glad to celebrate its eye-catching and fabulously evocative mixed-media art.  I mentioned Eastern European culture; does this seem Jewish, somehow? Does it even evoke the religious art of famous painter Marc Chagall?  Or do I misunderstand, and is it somehow Americana folk art? F-is-for-Flocks.jpgOr Hispanic?  I am intrigued by this nice book, its heart-felt design with oh-so-much going on in each big spread.  The rhyming lines are fine, the teachings about the Christmas adequate; I enjoy alphabet books and it's not always easy to do them right, but I think they have a lot of appeal, to many ages, actually. But the best part of this one is the endlessly curious paintings.  I'm glad to see it back in print after being unavailable for so long. We stocked this book in our children's section decades ago, and it is good to recall it.

Ms Wilner, by the way, is the daughter of missionaries, lived her early years in China and the Philippines.   The artist is renowned for a number of books, perhaps most significantly Abuela, which we have also stocked here at the shop.  Kudos!

The Biggest Story- How the Snake Crusher.gifThe Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden Kevin DeYoung, illustrated by Don Clark (Crossway) $17.99 Last but not least -- so "not least", I am sure it will be on our "Best of 2015" lists -- is this spectacularly colorful and exceptionally profound children's Bible. We announced this when it came out this fall and the response has been great among those who have seen it. The art work is hip and very modern, the flow of the story coherent and faithful to the Biblical narrative.

The allusion in the subtitle is to the promise in Genesis 3 of God's victory over evil -- the snake will be crushed by a future king from the linage of Eve.  biggest story another page spread.jpgbiggest story page spread.jpgThis is the biggest story that frames our Christmas celebrations, isn't it? The Biggest Story and DeYoung's telling, in this sense, is similar to the Sally Lloyd-Jones' Jesus Storybook Bible I mentioned in the last post, a storybook Bible that isn't comprised of random, disconnect moralistic episodes, but a gritty unfolding drama of God's faithful rescue of the cosmos. Back to the garden, and more!

Of course, as with any such Bible storybook, there will be lines you wished were written differently, or this or that small feature you may not love. But we should be glad for such a passionate, creative, visually unusual telling of the biggest, most important story of all.

Why not donate one to your church library or nursery, and get young parents excited about reading the Bible to their little ones.



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


December 20, 2015


wrapped-books.jpgOkay, we've paired a number of good books -- mostly new, although a few chestnuts, too -- with a particular sort of reader, someone maybe on your gift list to whom you might want  to give a book.  Of course we simply couldn't be exhaustive, but if you have a certain person and are stymied as to what sort of book to give, send us a quick inquiry or call.  We'll see if we can help find for you a good book to give to that hard to buy for person.

It's a perfect time of year to give almost anyone a little gift and sharing a book now may be done without awkwardness, so why not take this opportunity? Been wanting to help inspire or inform someone dear?  Maybe this will help, or at least get you thinking.

HERE'S OUR "JUST THE RIGHT BOOK IDEAS FOR ... " list. Ideas for those interested in science, art, history, spirituality, work, family, seekers, cynics, and more.  Books for parents, books for college students, books for video gamers, books for memoir-lovers, theologians, politicos, and more.

Sorry we didn't show all the covers... call us if we can help explain anything at all.

ALL ON SALE, while supplies last.  We'll deduct 20% off the regular retail prices that are shown.  Order below.

For what it is worth, we can send small packages (a book or two or three) to most places in the country via US Priority Mail cheaper than UPS and often quicker. We cannot guarantee it, of course (unless you pay extra for expedited service, which we can easily do), but it is our sense that orders that go out on Monday would be received most places by Thursday.  How's that? 


Why Study History: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past John Fea (Baker Academic) $19.99  We have raved about Professor Fea's award winning, detailed and impeccably balanced Was American Founded as a Christian County; this little volume backs up and makes the case for why Christians (and anyone, for that matter) should care about the enterprise of reflecting on our past. This is a lovely little book, highly recommended.

Christian Historiography- Five Rival Versions.jpgChristian Historiography: Five Rival Versions Jay Green (Baylor University Press) $34.95 For those who are interested in the Christian pursuit of serious academic scholarship, this will be an edifying and important example of the integration of faith and learning. It will be thrilling for those interested in the philosophy of history, and how people of faith should think about the foundational questions in this field.  Fair, wide-ranging, theologically rigorous, this is a magisterial contribution to thinking about how we write, research, interpret and read history.

In the Beginning Was the Word: The BIble in American Public Life, 1492 - 1783 Mark A. Noll (Oxford University Press) $29.95  What a handsome big book this is, studying in impeccable detail the rise of the use of the Bible in the earliest days preceding and during the founding of these United States. Noll is an esteemed historian and this simply a must-read for anyone interested in the colonial era.

religion in the oval office.jpgReligion in the Oval Office: The Religious Lives of American Presidents Gary Scott Smith (Oxford University Press) $34.95 A few weeks ago I put this 665 page magnum opus on a list I did for the Center for Public Justice, for those interested in  the history of US political life. Smith had won remarkable awards for a previous book a decade ago on the faith of some of our Presidents and in this brand new one, he bests himself, wonderfully exploring the unique religious convictions of eleven others. This has garnered fabulous reviews from those who study the history of Presidents, those curious about the inner working of the White House, and how faith has or hasn't impacted US policy, in the distant past and in recent decades. A fascinating, great read!


Why Church History Matters: An Invitation to Love and Learn from Our Past Robert Rea (IVP Academic) $20.00  For many contemporary Christians, questions about the role and value of church history can be difficult to appreciate. Professor Ray is a clear teacher, passionate and helpful, showing over and over why knowing how the church unfolded, for better or worse, is vital to know today. This is nearly a one-volume overview of church history, but it's main concern is to explain why it matters. especially for those who are clear that their life and ministry are to be Bible-based. Yes!

theologians.jpgTheologians on the Christian Life  (Crossway) $18.99 or $19.99 each We have dozens and dozens of books on church history, from the earliest first century founders of the Way to the church fathers and on into the modern era, and American and global faith expressions.  And some people really geek out on this stuff, so give us a call if you think we can help.

This series of handsome paperbacks is not exactly church history, at such, but draws on the spiritual wisdom of important figures, asking how their own theological insights in their day might be useful for our own faith development today.  Call it applied theology from the past, these are almost all really, really interesting and very, very helpful.  Read the Bonhoeffer one by Steve Nichols if you don't believe me, to see how they not only teach about the person, his writings, but also how it can aid us in our own spiritual journey.  The Luther one is important, John Newton's fascinating, Wesley inspiring. If you know about Francis Schaeffer (the only really modern person studied) the one by Bill Edgard is very good.  A nice set with uniform covers, why not buy a few and wrap them up together?


rainbows for fallen world.jpgRainbows for the Fallen World Calvin Seerveld (Toronto Tuppence Press) $30.00  I list this old classic as it is one of the most esteemed books in the contemporary conversation about faith and the arts, aesthetics, and the role of these matters in our daily life as the people of God.  Seerveld has written much, often quite dense, about aesthetic theory, and there is some of that in here, but many think this is his most useful book, energetically written, truly profound, and somewhat hard to find.  We've stocked it since the day we've opened and folks are still delighted to discover it. Whew.

IWG Art and IWG Music both.jpgIt Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God edited by Ned Bustard (Square Halo Books) $24.99  I routinely say this is my favorite collection of good essays about faith and the arts, about aesthetics, about beauty and about how serious people of faith can create important, mature, contemporary art.  There are some that are more basic, some that are more complex, but this is simply a must-read for anyone interested in the arts. Some lovely design touches and full color illustration make it a particularly nice volume.

 It Was Good: Making Music to the Glory of God edited by Ned Bustard (Square Halo Books( $24.99  Did you see what I wrote above? It goes double for this one, 33 fabulous chapters that are not simplistic or too obvious, but not heady or overly deep, either.  There's fascinating, faith-fueled pieces here on various genres (jazz, blues, hip-hop) to various practices for and by musicians (rehearsal, song-writing, collaboration, performance) and some for all of us, on using music in worship, singing the Psalms, music as solace during grief, how to host and listen well to live music.)  A must for musicians, classical or contemporary, and a delight for anyone passionate about songs.

Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination Brian J. Walsh (Brazos Press) $22.00 All right, this isn't for everyone, but I love to show it off -- I even helped offer some input along the way, so it means a lot to me!  Cockburn is an esteemed, progressive Christian who has won just about every award one can get in the contemporary folk rock and global music stuff.  Last year his big auto-biography appeared called Rumours of Glory: A Memoir (HarperOne; $28.99) and I reviewed it at great length.  But this one is a serious, challenging, and finally inspiring interplay between Cockburn lyrics and Biblical texts.  Walsh is deeply (deeply) immersed in Cockburn's social imaginary and knows all his albums well, and he is one of the best Bible guys I know. Fabulously entertaining and seriously exploring a Christian view of art, music, and how rock artists like Cockburn can help us along the way.