Sometimes I feel nearly
overwhelmed, wanting to tell you about all the new books that have arrived here
at the back door of our Dallastown shop.
I have high hopes of being all erudite and clever and persuasive. These are the books you need! We have an eye for great authors! These titles are very important! You won't discover these just anywhere!
Well, it may be true, but maybe I should just tell you about them instead of staring at the blank screen wondering how to be more interesting as I share the glory of great new books.
There are other new titles, of course, but these are the ones I thought you'd most want to know about. And maybe buy. From us.
So let's get on with then, shall we?
A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations and a Little Girl Named Penny Amy Julia Becker (Bethany House) $14.99 We started hearing about the quality writing and insightful narrative of this first-time author earlier in the year when she had a piece in the Wall Street Journal, I believe. My friend Andy Crouch gave a heads up that she is somebody to watch, an excellent thinker, an honest Christian mother, telling of her raising her handicapped child. Becker has a degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, has written for The Christian Century and Books & Culture, and appears often at the Christianity Today her.meneutics blog. The back cover says, "sometimes joy shows up when you least expect it" and the cynic might wave her hand and assume this is saccharine. Not a chance. This will bowl you over, take your breath away and give you new courage to live. As Andy writes, she has "the courage and grace to tell the truth."
Bloodlines: Race, Cross and the
Christian John Piper (Crossway) $22.99 This book deserves a larger review and since it just came, I
can't do that yet. But I have read
pieces of it, have followed Piper's admirable gospel-centered passion for
racial reconciliation that he has preached about and exhibited for years, and
know this is going to be firm, foundational, Biblical. Bloodlines should be one
of the most talked about books of the year (we can hope!) as it is an antidote
to any sentimental view that thinks that social justice or multi-cultural
diversity can get far without the Cross.
This is serious business and I can't wait to work with it. I think it should appeal to many who want to be clear about theology and who are driven to work out the social and cultural implications of the gospel. Tim Keller wrote the forward.
Thinking. Loving. Doing. A Call to Glorify God with Heart and Mind John Piper & David Mathis, editors (Crossway) $15.99 Our staff almost fell over when we saw an endorsement on the back from radically hip, St. Francis type social activist Shane Claiborne, and the buttoned-down, right-wing Wayne Grudem both celebrating the thoughtfulness of this Biblical call to holistic faith. There are good chapters here by R.C. Sproul and Francis Chan, Albert Mohler and Rick Warren. These were messages from Piper's conference on this and his final chapter ("Thinking for the Sake of Joy: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God" summarizes his own book called Think and is nearly worth the price of the book.) Check out this very cool video clip that invited people to the conference. Since you most likely missed the event, you can take it in for a fraction of the price --- all in this handy book.
By the way, I know that some fundamentalists think that Rick Warren is a heretic (and criticized Piper for having him as his event) and I know my mainline
friends think he is a hopeless fundie (and have fits about his non-liturgical Hawaiian shirts in which he preaches.) I
invite one and all to read his chapter in this book and take seriously his call to learn and serve. Right on!
Simply Sacred: Daily Readings
Gary Thomas (Zondervan) $22.99
We have often touted Thomas as a superb writer, upbeat and full of
stories and real life stuff. Yet,
he is deeply rooted in historical theology and ecumenical spirituality. (How many conservative evangelicals
know Orthodox writers, say, or the desert fathers and mothers?) Thomas has written very interesting and
inspiring books on spiritual formation, on character virtue, on parenting, on marriage, on pleasure, on sanctification, even a new one on
caring for your body. Using this big book is a
way to dip in to his large body of work a page each day. When you buy it now (say, for a
Christmas gift to help someone start off their 2012 with a daily devotional) you'll start
reading, and you'll want another to give as that gift, because you'll keep the
one you bought yourself.
Christianity Without the Pretense.
Faith Without the FaÃ§ade. Greg Surratt (FaithWords) $19.99 I
know that this is a theme that has been voiced often in the last decade but
holy smokes, don't we need to keep hearing it? Surratt gives us a memoir of a journey towards authentic
experience, an adventure of seeking God, sharing his faults (to a fault) and
doing it with bold comedy. Many
have said we should lose the pretension and lighten up but few really do so. It's good to laugh and refreshing to be invited on a journey of faith
that's a bit irreverent. This isn't
all that edgy or all that raw but it is a fine step in the right
direction. And how 'bout that
cover? Love it!
King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited Scot
McKnight (Zondervan) $19.99 Join
the club of those who say they will read and consider anything McKnight
writes. Here he studies the big
gospel theme of the whole Scripture, from the story of Israel to the way in which Jesus described the
gospel. Then, he hangs out mostly in New Testament studies, explaining well how Paul
understood the gospel. His citations are rich, rooted in antiquity and the
church fathers even as he gives hat tips to recent shifts in thinking. His
books just deep getting better and better, informed by good scholarship and yet for the layperson. If you don't read Biblical scholarship, this is a great place to start. If you do, you will appreciate this fine "revisiting" of the gospel of the Kingdom. The lengthy endorsing blurbs on the back are from N.T. Wright
and Dallas Willard. 'Nuff said.
Scripture with the Reformers Timothy George (IVP Academic)
$16.00 To kick off their new
audacious publishing project of the multi-volume Reformation Commentaries on Scripture (that will be styled after
the big series of commentaries they published by the church fathers) George here gives a fine
overview of how 16th century Reformers (and counter Reformers)
understood the Bible. Ad fontes,
indeed. Who wouldn't benefit from
learning about Luther or Calvin (or Erasmus, for that matter) and how they
handled the Word of God? The
reformation was, it is often said, a revolution of a book. This tells you why that was and how their study of the Book happened. Very highly recommended. George, by the way, has his PhD from Harvard
University and is a renowned Reformation-era historian and author of Theology
of the Reformers. He is the
founding dean of Beeson Divinity School (at Samford University) and on the
advisory council for First Things. Not too shabby.
Here Comes Trouble: Stories From My
Life Michael Moore (Grand Central
Publishing) $26.99 Well, the title
of this may be true for us since some of our readers may be perplexed why we'd
suggest this bawdy blue color memoir.
Well, I find Moore to be a very interesting person and often more right
than his detractors admit.
Sometimes he's way off base and sometimes crazy-making. But he is one of the most public faces
of the activist left in our country and much more
interesting than the learned likes of Chomsky or other dry cultural critics. This guy means business. He gets death threats and still laughs
it off. How does an (almost) Motor City Catholic guy
turn out like this? I dipped in
and wanted to keep reading. I will
admit that I'm also dipping into the big fat book of Dick Cheney and it is making my
blood boil. (When conservatives such as Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell are dissed, dishonestly, they claim, you
know the author is nearing incredulity.)
Will Moore get me riled up as well? We'll see. With episodes ranging from his very youthful (and controversial) work as an elected public school board director, behind the scenes at the Academy Awards, to his protest of President Reagan laying a wreath at the grave of Nazis in Bitburg, this is
going to be a fascinating read, capturing much of the counter-cultural zeitgeist with plenty of bluster and gusto.
The Road to Missional: Journey to
the Center of the Church Michael Frost (Baker) $14.99 I loved the very first Frost book I read---well, Robert, of course, but I mean the missional one, Michael. We still stock it, a great little import from Down Under, called Seeing
God in the Ordinary. This is my kind of guy, I thought. Then he went on to make his mark (along
with co-author Alan Hirsch) as one of the most important missional writers
working today. The Shaping of Things to Come was truly
seminal. His later book Jesus the Fool was fantastic and
provocative study and Exiles was a radical
critique of cultural accommodation---pow! Yep, it hit us hard. This brand new one is a basic introduction to what is and isn't meant by missional, how it is
not an add-on to church business as usual. With a light touch, Frost invites us to
live, as Hugh Halter puts it, "a vigorous life after the King." Prophetic and undiluted, yes, but it is
accessible and full of great stories which I am sure you will love. Read it for your own edification and share it with leaders at your local church. Really fine.
Forever: Why You Can't Live Without
It Paul David Tripp (Zondervan) $14.99 Tripp is a serious gospel-centered
counselor who has written no-holds-barred books about a Christ-centered view of
helping, caring, counseling. He's
done work on marriage, parenting teens and is very passionate about pastoral
care done faithfully. In this, his
first major book on a major publisher, he writes about heaven. But, of course, it is on so much more---how to get beyond the "faux joy" of our secularized culture. He talks about how a "forever" perspective will helpfully effect our view of relationships, our work, our parenting and so forth. He has a really, really moving section about his daughter's deadly accident and their hard recovery. (He has written wisely about suffering before, for instance, in What Did You Expect?) One chapter title is "Why Is Faith So Miserable?" and another is "Hope Can't Live Without Forever." This is Biblical faith, apologetics and practical Christian living woven together with stories and helpful, realistic illustrations. The back cover teases us, suggesting, "You
may be suffering from Eternity Amnesia."
Don't know if that is in the DSM-II. Randy Alcorn says Forever is "superbly
written and breathtakingly on target.
I found myself exclaiming yes over and over." Isn't that the kind of book you love to read?"
Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books Tony Reinke (Crossway) $15.99 I've been waiting for this for months now and just shiver at the thought of a reliably Christian study of the topic so dear to my heart and calling: reading. As one friend of his puts it, Reinke "doesn't just read, he reads well." Oh if that could be said of more of us! Isn't that what you want for yourself? This paperback delightfully covers all manner of reading--why, how, when, where--and most importantly, what. He gives spectacular quotes and sage advice. He roots his invitation to read widely in serious historic theology (when the very first footnote is from Kuyper's compatriot, Herman Bavinck, I'm a happy man!) Brainy literature prof Leland Ryken says "It is hard to imagine a reader of this book who would not catch the spark for reading..." Singer-songwriter Andrew Peterson says it is "the perfect book for someone who does or doesn't like to read. A wise, theological, and edifying case for why words matter." J.I. Packer promises that this book will help us read books "as both a discipline and delight." Maybe you think you don't have time to read or maybe you only read "Christian books." This is for you. He approaches his subject from a serious, conservative, Reformed, view and yet engages the concerns of up-to-the-minute authors like Nicholas Carr. He quotes Piper and he quotes C.S. Lewis and he quotes Alan Jacobs (how could he not?) And he cites P.D. James and the brilliant novelist and essayist, Marilyn Robinson. It is truly meaningful journey into the wondrous beauty of the printed page.
Two small concerns:
there are very few women writers mentioned and no writers of color from what I could notice. I'm fine hearing about Bonar and Bacon
and Bloom (oh my) but where's Madeline L'Engle or Susan Howatch or Nikki
Giovanni? And what's with the
title? Don't they know that Mary
Karr's stunning memoir has the same title? Reinke's, though, clearly does not bear Karr's juicy double entendre and, frankly, her's deserves the exclamation point.
Exclamation point or not, this looks to be a tremendously fabulous book, almost the sort I've been wishing for for decades, interesting for readers and helpful for those who need encouragement in this rewarding Christian discipline. I will surely have to tell
you more about it later (including Reinke's admission about owing library
fines---ha! I can relate.) But you shouldn't
wait for that: order this today and get one for a friend. Reading matters. This books is a Godsend.
My Dyslexia Philip Schultz (Norton) $21.95 Norton continues to prove itself as a publishing house of exquisite quality and cultural importance and here they offer the memoir of a boy who, although very (very) smart, could not read.
His dyslexia was severe; in some cases he couldn't even decipher spoken words. The study of language and language disorders is fascinating and this Pulitzer Prize winning poet has told his tale in truly beautiful prose and thought-provoking stories. There was little known in the middle of the 20th century (and there is still so much more to understand) about these sorts of odd language dysfunctions, so there is great sadness here---you can imagine how he was mistreated and how school often failed him. But yet it is triumphant, although not easily so. Schultz describes his alienation and inner life in very moving ways as his pain, finally, shapes him in ways that he is able to become an artist. A few weeks ago Mr. Schultz had a wonderful, wonderful essay in the The New York Times ("Words Failed, Then Saved Me") to which I had linked on facebook, so badly did I want to share it. Read it here and you will see why we are eager to promote this marvelous book. It is a thin, high-quality hardback, a bit pricey, to be sure. But it is a true love story, a story of great love.
All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir Brennan Manning (Cook) $22.99 Born in 1934, Manning grew up to become a Catholic priest, got married and became Episcopalian, and has been described as a "vagabond evangelist" fiercely daring us to believe a line too good to be true: God loves you as you are, not as you should be. His books The Ragamuffin Gospel, The Signature of Jesus, Ruthless Truth, Abba's Child and so many more are beloved and praised around the world. (He has a brand new children's book, too, about which we will tell you more, soon.) Brennan Manning has lived a life very few of us could hardly even imagine: he once put himself in a dank Spanish jail (with a promise from the jailer that he wouldn't tell that Manning was a priest wanting to minister to the outcasts on their own terms.) He is a recovering alcoholic, a messy story of recovery that is itself a riveting testimonial; let's just say that he has been through a lot. Max Lucado is surely right when he says that the book shows that Brennan has lived "a life marked by foibles and blessings, gifts and pain, joy and regret. But always, in every paragraph, grace."
This is going to be a great, great book and we hope it sells well, is discussed and shared. I have been a fan since his earliest books, cheaply published by a very indie little charismatic Catholic outfit. I met him once and I was left with an experience I'll never forget--what a wonderful and kind man he was! I got choked-up at the grace-filled forward by Philip Yancey and his use of the famed Leonard Cohen lines,
Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That's how the light
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