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Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition and Compass: Christian Explorations of Daily Living

YourMindMatters-01.jpgOkay, I wrote a piece or two about developing the Christian mind and showing that we stock books more than theology, church life, or spirituality.  And that we stock a diverse array of things because we trust that you, our friends and customers, don't mind using the old noggin'.

It wasn't an accident that 30 years ago, the day we opened, we gave out copies of Your Minds Matters, a fine little book by John Stott (IVP Classics; $8.00, now with a nice forward by Mark Noll.)  As Stott shows, the Biblical call to think is not just for the professors among us; it has large implications for us ordinary folk who have jobs and other tasks, day by day.  We have to do more than think, more than even thinking well.  We have to think like Christians!   Being intentional about "thinking Christianly" enables us to keep Biblical principles and theological truths and spiritual insights and ethical mandates before us as we engage in, well, anything and everything.

 What do you think about shopping at Amazon or Chick-Fil-A?  What do you think about the increased death of Pakistani civilians caused by drone attacks, paid for with your tax dollars? What is your understanding of fun? Of grief? Of finances? Of art?  Where do you stand on the HHS mandates that disrespect the religious freedoms of Catholic hospitals, say---that is, what do you think of human rights and the different institutions within society and how to measure the public good?  More foundationally, what do you think of the idea of the government itself, the nature and meaning of business, the idea of vacations, the blessings and dangers of technology?  Novels?  Sports and space exploration?  (Does God have an opinion?)  From your view of work to your view of leisure, there is no issue or no side of life or sphere in God's world that dare be compartmentalized off away from faith and cannot be understood in some manner that is honoring to God. (The whole creation is declaring to us things about God, after all!  And the whole creation groans under curse!)  We live our very lives as worship to God---embodied as image bearers of God---but our daily discipleship must be informed by faithful thinking. 
 
When we say we want to sell books to help people relate Sunday to Monday, this is what wearticle-new_ehow_images_a02_6b_ed_start-christian-book-club-800x800.jpg mean.  It is mostly something many of us intuit -- that spirituality and Christ-like discipleship includes thinking about life differently -- but it seems that too few churches help us grapple with real-world decision-making and gritty discipleship.  The language of vocation and calling, worldview and wisdom, of the common good and public justice, of "taking every thought captive" and being stewards (all core aspects of a Biblical worldview) are too far from the conversations in many churches, or so it seems. And so we read together, learning, studying, pondering.    

We hope that as you read these BookNotes blog posts you are inspired to read widely, to think differently, and to allow God's work in your own heart to shape your daily practices, that is, the habits and texture of your daily life.  The spiritual disciplines we hear so much about, and the books we so warmly sell about spiritual formation, can lead us away from this world, too deeply into our own interior lives, obsessed even, or they can be life-giving, helping to shape us into people who understand the "abundant life" Christ has come to bring and His reign that He came to announce and inaugurate.  We can be harbingers of that new creation, agents of God's reconciliation, in the world God so loves.  I hope our bookish ruminations help us tell that story, and we are confident that there are enough oddballs like you and like me that know that books can help us along this odd way.  Tolle tegge -- pick up and read, as the voice spoke to Augustine the morning of his conversion.

Well enough sermonizing.  I mentioned the Christian mind just last week, and, in the post celebrating our time at Ocean City Beach Project I shared that we are particularly passionate about helping college students relate faith and learning.  I raved about the simple and yet insightful introduction to college life, The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness by Donald Optiz and Derek Melleby (Brazos; $13.99) and the truly lovely, eloquent, rich, Engaging God's World: A Christian Vision for Faith, Learning, and Living by Cornelius Plantinga (Eerdmans; $16.00.) We still have them both on sale for 20% off.  There are other "must read" books for the serious college student who wants to be faithful at State U, but I suggest these for starters.

RECLAIMING THE CHRISTIAN INTELLECTUAL TRADITION (Crossway Books)

Here is a new series of small books, ideal for being brief and poignant, written by learned Christian leaders that are quite useful for thoughtful students.  They have a bit of an intellectual edge, classical, almost.  We respect each of the authors and are grateful for their   clarity and rigor.  You may have a nit to pick, perhaps, about this one or that, but we are eager to show and sell these, wanting to offer these books that further illustrate not only the kinds of books we sell, here, but the way publishers are stepping up to offer resources of this nature.

I won't describe them as they are fairly self explanatory.  They are published by Crossway Books and sell for $11.99 each.  They are small, meaty, introductions.  I do wish their was a bit more Bible in these--the political one, for instance, spends a bit too much time on Aristotle and Locke and Hobbes and Mill, but not on Moses or Isaiah, Peter or Paul.  Jesus?  Um.  Well, these are the only books a Christian thinker should read about the topic,but they are remarkable as brief introductions to these historic subjects, helping us see a fabulous distillation of main schools of thought and the most important thinkers.

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The one on philosophy isn't coming out until the end of September (2012) but I can assurephilosophy a student's guide.jpg you that it will make an excellent little gift for any student you know.  It is written by one of my favorite people in the world, Professor David Naugle, of Dallas Baptist University, who is Godly and creative, ecumenically minded, very widely read, a delightful writer, and, I think, a bit of a prophet as he calls all people, but especially thinkers and scholars, student and teachers alike, to work intentionally and consistently out of a coherent, Biblical worldview.  I agree with his insistence that we, in our mind's work as well, honor God by being resistance to ideas and ideologies that are in any way counter to the truths we know in Scripture and in Christ.  That is, his Christian worldview makes him what some call "reformational" and his nod to the likes of Kuyper and Dooyeweerd, even, are notable. His passion for understanding the history of philosophy and his desire to do that in light of a Christian perspective, to use his "Christian lense" to appreciate and critique each major current in this all important field, is a true gift.  We are taking pre-orders now, and will sent it out as soon as it arrive, in about a month from now. 

Just go to the order form link at the bottom of the page.  It will take you to our secure order form where you type in what you want.

I don't know if the places you tend to shop for books promote these kinds of things, and, to be honest, I sometimes wonder if (as a business person) I'm frittering away your attention by trying to sell books about philosophy or literature and Christian thinking.  We hope you find this helpful, and thank you for reading along and spreading the word, maybe even forwarding this one to those who might need the intellectual stimulation or the reminder that Christian and intellectual don't have to be two opposing notions.  If any of this perplexes you, send us an email, or note that free book we're offering, below.  It's very nicely done.

COMPASS: CHRISTIAN EXPLORATIONS OF DAILY LIVING (Fortress Press)

Since I've shown this little series for students, about different academic concerns, I thought I would show you another series, deeply theological, a bit heady, but also brief, poignant, gutsy and, well, exactly on these themes of finding some uniquely Christian approach to the complexities of daily living. 

If the above series was edited by strong evangelicals, published by the conservative Crossway Books, this ongoing series is situated more in a ecumenical, liberal context and is published by the mainline Lutheran publisher, Fortress Press.   It invites some serious evaluations of the way we tend to do life, and offers grace-shaped ideas of perhaps considering our daily habits and practices in renewed ways.  Pretty cool, huh?  You're not going to find this stuff at your typical Christian bookstore chain, let me tell you.  I think many of you will get a kick out of this--agree or not, these are fabulous conversations to be having about the shaping of our practices, living with God in the complicated here and now.  The series is called Compass and we commend them for your reflection.  $15.00 each.

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So there you have it ---  first, a little series of compact books that introduce collegiates and others wanting a deeper education to some of the chief streams of intellectual history.  And, then, another series of small books that invites us to ponder the meaning of daily habits and the social structures we find ourselves in as those who play, work, travel, shop, eat and drink.
I love selling books about a Christian worldview, but this is where it must lead.  How we think about the world of ideas and how we embody our live in the marketplace and home-place and beyond.  I hope you are as glad as we are that these kinds of books are available. 

And we still have some of that free book that we are offering God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life
by Gene Edward Veith, Jr.
It is our gift to you, a $16.99 value, free with any purchase.

If you are part of the Hearts & Minds tribe,
you'll appreciate this book, for sure.
While supplies last.

BookNotes


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