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10 New Books - 5 Minutes


There are days when I am just so eager to tell readers and friends about books that I simply can't help myself.  Each one of these deserve thorough and thoughtful reviews, but I can't wait for that - you can't wait for that.  These are remarkable books, the sorts of things that are interesting and good, helpful and beautiful and I want to be sure you know we have them.  Agree or not with all the details, these are books we want to tell about, albeit quickly.  Our apologies to these authors for being so brief - each of you deserve much better.  But, hey, we wanna sell these babies, so come on.  Allow your interests to be piqued and click on our order form (at the bottom of the page.) They are all on sale -- we will discount them from the regular prices shown.  You won't be disappointed -- they will make you think and deepen your own convictions. 


Three cheers for 10 great new books.   And a goofy bonus book at the end.


Thanks for supporting our family-owned, eclectic, indie, bookstore. 


Ddc-book.jpgangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry  Paul David Tripp (Crossway) $22.99  You may know Tripp, a conservative, Reformed scholar and Biblical counselor who has written wisely about pastoral care, about personal issues, about the radical power of the gospel, about new life found in Christ alone, as we appropriate His grace. This is hard hitting stuff as he, after years of traveling and listening well during thousands of conversations, is greatly concerned about the spiritual life of pastors and leaders, but also of those who train, support, and are led by them.  That is, nearly all of us, at any and every level of church life! We should all care about playing a part in protecting the pastorate.  As it says on the flyleaf, this book "reveals the truth that the culture surrounding our pastors is spiritually unhealthy -- an environment that actively undermines the well-being and efficacy of our church leaders, and thus our entire church body."  Joshua Harris observes that, for pastors, "this book is 'good' in the same way that heart surgery is good...and it just might save your life."  Seminarians, congregational leaders, and pastors -- as one reviewer put it "whether you've been in ministry 20 minutes or 20 years" you need this book. 

 

Nn and wm.jpgeighbors and Wise Men: Sacred Encounters in a Portland Pub and Other Unexpected Places  Tony Kriz (Nelson) $15.99  You may know this author as Tony the Beat Poet from the best-selling Blue Like Jazz.  (The film version, by the way, was just released in DVD and we've got it!)  Tony was a missionary in Albania among communists and Muslims, people he grew to respect and love, and he nearly lost his faith there.  His mission agency returned him to a remedial sort of seminary study assignment, which didn't help much. He did his studies while hanging out at a Portland bar, found atheists and seekers there who were supportive of his journey. God used these skeptics, it seems, who told him to stay faithful to his discipleship.  Kirz ends up over at Reed College and the now-famous meet-up with one Donald Miller.  The last portion of this moving memoir is about living locally, pastoring and making a difference in an edgy house church outreach in his bohemian neighborhood.  In each leg of the journey, outsiders and religious skeptics speak truth and grace to him.  What a book! What a story!  Highly recommended.

 

AAGraceRevealed.JPG Grace Revealed: How God Redeems the Story of Your Life Jerry Sittser (Zondervan) $19.99  In the category of basic Christian growth, this may be the book of the year.  That's right, you heard it here first.  It certainly is one of the most long-awaited and eagerly anticipated releases.  It is the sequel to the stunning A Grace Disguised, perhaps the best book on grief, bereavement and suffering that I have ever read.  Twenty years after the tragic accident that took his mother, his wife, and his young daughter, Sittser has grown much, seen much, continued to write and serve as an esteemed leader at Whitworth College. He has remarried and the plot-lines of his life continue to unfold to God's glory.  This is amazingly honest, written with what I can only call a light gravity.  It is eloquent, profoundly poignant, and hopeful, exploring how God's story of the rescue of His world effects our own stories.  Or, more accurately, how our own stories, such as they are, are redeemed and gathered up in God's redeeming story.  Sittser says in the beginning that since this is a book about story, he felt compelled to tell stories, and, well, his own is the one he knows best.  Form meets function perfectly as the style of memoir and autobiography is ideal for his profound ruminations on the gospel.  Wonderful!  I apologize for not saying more, or saying it better, but trust me on this: this is a man who has much to teach us and this is a truly wonderful, edifying book.  Thanks be to God!

 

Ddoes this church?.jpgoes This Church Make Me Look Fat? A Mennonite Finds Faith, Meets Mr. Right, and Solves Her Lady Problems  Rhoda Janzen (Grand Central) $24.99  Okay, I'm going to just say it.  This may be my favorite book of the year.  Sassy, fun, profoundly touching, heavy stuff told with a very light touch, this follow-up to the fabulous, fabulous Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, tells how this high-brow, liberal literary prof comes to her senses, finds herself oddly in a Pentecostal church, and tells the tale with glorious wit and nearly breathtaking generosity.  Her Lady Problems, by the way, include everything from decorating a house that is ugly as sin, her notable sex drive for her no-nonsense, righteous fiance, and a deadly serious case of deadly serious breast cancer.  She brings all this to us in a style which Barbara Brown Taylor says is written "with such spot-on honesty, spiritual humility, and disarming humor that I would follow her anywhere." You surely don't need to be formerly (but gratefully) Mennonite or newly (but  ambiguously) Pentecostal to love this.  You will cry.  You will laugh out loud.  I'm not kidding.  This, you have to see for yourself.  And Rhoda, if you are reading, sorry about the comma splices and misplaced modifiers. I can't help myself.  Still, you rock.

 

Aa sp of homecoming.jpg Spirituality of Homecoming  Henri J. M. Nouwenall 4 - Nouwen_P91.jpg (Upper Room) $12.00  This is the fourth in the lovely series of small books, handsomely produced, of posthumously transcribed talks of the late priest, mystic and author.  Hardly any religious writer of the last 50 years has been so appropriately popular, even as he gently resisted the stardom of the limelight.  This really is a sweet and wise meditation, quintessential, in many ways, of Nouwen's great insights about the shifts from fear to freedom, of how following Jesus returns us to our true selves and is a sort of homecoming.  Very nicely done.

 

JJesusBanner1.jpegesus: A Theography  Leonard Sweet & Frank Viola (Nelson) $19.99  This 400+ page hardback with a title which is obviously a play on "theology" and "biography" is a bargain at this price as it will provide you with months of study, written well for average, interested readers but (with the copious footnotes and solid content) useful for scholars, as well.  This biography by way of Biblical theology shows how the Bible, Older and Newer Testaments, finds all of its meaning in Christ, pointing to Jesus, a signpost to Him and His work, reflecting back on Him.  These authors are obviously well-grounded in the breadth of the Christian tradition, drawing on all manner of sources as they open up every portion of the Bible, carefully making their case that Jesus is at the heart of the grand narrative of Scripture.  You may know that we are fond of Sweet and appreciate his clever writing style, united with scrupulous research and solid Bible teaching.  You may be surprised to see them quote everybody from Berkouwer to Wendell Berry, Ratzinger to N.T. Wright.  The appendix includes pages of great quotes on the theme from Justin Martyr and Tertullian in the first century on through to the likes of Graeme Goldsworthy, G.K. Beale and Richard Hays in the 21st. Wow.

 

Tmystery of god.jpghe Mystery of God: Theology for Knowing the Unknowable  Steven D. Boyer & Christopher Hall (Baker Academic) $19.99  Boyer is a respected scholar (with a PhD from BU) and Hall is beloved as a teacher, administrator and leader at both Eastern University (where he is chancellor) and Palmer Theological Seminary, where he is dean.  You may know of the good work Hall has done in editing the Ancient Christian Commentaries on Scripture and a few books he has done on the patristics, and why they are helpful for our study and worship today.  This book will become a classic, I hope---an evangelical study of mystery, studious but written with a sense of wonder and awe.  Kelly Kapic of Covenant College assures us that "in these pages there is real wisdom."  Edwards scholar Gerald McDermott notes that it is "a refreshing challenge to evangelicals to reject rationalistic approaches to faith while at the same time learn humbly from the Great Tradition."  Not only is this beautiful theology, I believe it is very important in these times, a solid study of the dimensions of mystery, moving our angle of vision just a bit, yet preventing an overly subjective mysticsm.  This book deserves a wide, diverse audience.  An endorsement on the back from a scholar at the University of Chicago Divinity School seems to agree. Right on. 

 

TThis-Ordinary-Adventure-Cover1.jpghis Ordinary Adventure: Settling Down without Settling  Christine & Adam Jeske (IVP/Likewise) $15.00  We have stocked every single book released by this edgy, upbeat imprint, and none have disappointed.  This is just what that line is known for: youthful, outside-the-box thinking, well-grounded in a broad, socially-engaged evangelicalism, written with spunk and relevance.  I know a lot of younger adult Christian folks and these are the stories they dream of, these are the questions they ask, and, I am positive, this is a book they will love. The Jeskes have worked in global relief, microfinancing, and have traveled to nearly every continent doing mission, building bridges, engaging even in risky service. They do Kingdom travel and show Christian care, living as nomads, embracing Christ's call to serve. But they want to settle down. Christine is working on a PhD on cultural anthropology.  They want roots and community.  Can one "settle down" without "settling"?  What is the relationship between the American Dream and Christ's Kingdom?  Is "normal" bad?   No matter what your life stage, you will be inspired to live well, finding energy and courage to be bold. It will remind you not to forget the amazing things God has and can do.  Joyful, witty, and pretty darn challenging. Three big cheers!  I want to meet these guys!  I bet you know somebody who would love this book.

 

Rrob-bell-and-a-new-american-christianity.jpgob Bell and a New American Christianity  James K. Wellman, Jr. (Abingdon) $17.99  I've been waiting for something like this, a solid study of Rob Bell's work and ministry, placing him within the broader conversations about the nature of Protestant faith in 21st century North American culture.  Bell has been a very important figure and his life itself has been fascinating, perhaps illustrative - being in a rock band during his Wheaton College days, his study at Fuller, his work on staff of Ed Dodson's (post Moral Majority) church, the founding of the Grand Rapids Mars Hill congregation and its extraordinary growth, his Nooma videos and speaking tours and increasing national fame.  After the Love Wins book became an international sensation, his popularity and notoriety revved into hyper-drive, and he was found to be either helpfully innovative or crassly heretical; a self-indulgent fraud or a good pioneer of a culturally-relevant form of witness, parallel to, but not exactly the same as the much-discussed emergent movement or missional church perspective.  Wellman studies all this, fairly, if with a favorable bias, including a bit of attention to how mainline churches have seen and reacted to this squabble within the evangelical community.  Historian of evangelicalism Randall Balmer, after noting how significant (and controversial) Bell has become, tells us that "James Wellman's prodigious research and astute analysis helps us understand why."  Not the final word, but an important study continuing to ponder the shifts within evangelicalism.

 

WWhy Did Jesus Moses Buddha Mohammed Cross the Road cover.JPGhy Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road: Christian Identity in a Multi-faith World  Brian D. McLaren (HarperOne) $24.99  McLaren, even more than Rob Bell, has been a pioneer and lightning rod, writing books and using media, organizing conferences and building networks, trying to find, as he put it in a controversial book "a new kind of Christianity."  It should be clear that Brian isn't exactly an evangelical any more, but that also isn't quite the point: he wants to be faithful to Jesus, handle the Bible well, and forge a reasonable sort of way of being Christian in the world as it is, akin to, but not exactly the same as the liberal wing of mainline ecumenism. Agree with his conclusions or not, he is an important thinker and a good man. In this case, he is asking million-dollar questions---how do we have a clear sense of our own religious identity without having that identity fuel religious antagonism and violence? (The symbolism of its release date, 9-11, is not accidental.) Can we have profound inter-faith conversations without pretending that we all agree, which, obviously, we do not?  Forging a third way beyond fundamentalisms and liberalism, McLaren here carefully develops a plausible way of approaching this painfully awkward matter.  He doesn't back away from controversy and yet he writes in a way that seems to me to be so utterly sincere and devoid of gall that it cries out to be read and kindly discussed.  Highly recommended for discussion and discernment.


AND AN ADDED BONUS, JUST FOR FUN:

Josiah for President: A Novel  Martha Bolton (Zondervan) $14.99   Maybe you are likejosiah.jpg me and need a really light read sometimes, something fun and easy, but not utterly vacuous.  And, maybe the dishonest and harsh noise from both sides of the partisan divide in this election cycle is nearly driving you to drink.  Well, maybe this will be a way to take the edge off - or make you long more clearly for something good and different in our public lives.  Yes, this is outrageous, but, in this upbeat novel, the story is plausible.  When former Congressperson Mark Stedman throws in the towel on his presidential bid, he meets Josiah Stoltzfus, a Lancaster County Amishman, who ends up being drafted to run for President. Did you like the old movie Dave?  Or even Mr. Smith Goes to Washington?  Well, this isn't as good as either of those.  But still, ya gotta love a story where corn gets planted in the Rose Garden.


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2 Comments

Byron, Thanks for the heads up on the new Sittser book. I'll have to check that out. Only you could write "with a light gravity". I love that. Thanks for your bookstore & blog friend.

McLaren was very Christ centered in this book, imaging Christ like responses to those of other faith and no faith today. The book describes how Jesus related to others in a nonrivalrous way. Sadly, the Christian faith often fails to follow Jesus by getting into rivalry games, imitating the response of hostile others. As McLaren describes, there is a way to have a strong, benevolent identity that is FOR others, regardless of their dpfairh stance.