It has been a complicated month---praying for friends with cancer, a tragic funeral to attend, computer issues, power outages, water pipes breaking, staff sick, car problems, meteorites (okay so there weren’t any meteorites.) Life as usual, I suppose, in a fallen world. Most stressful for us, and time consuming, has been the ongoing illness of our youngest daughter who was hospitalized for a week for her chronic pain issues. Hearts & Minds is a family-run business and our staff and customers feel like an extended family quite often, a gift that makes us glad. If your reading this---interested in the sorts of things we work for, books we like, authors we promote---you may want to pray for us. No real news to report except that Marissa remains plagued with something undiagnosed and bad and she is pretty waylaid.
At least, you might want to forgive this odd little column this month---more than 30 days late. I could quote something funky from Anne Lamott or some other disheveled kindred spirit to explain our tardiness, but even that takes too much energy. As we’ve twisted and turned through this month’s days, we just couldn’t get it together. So here is the January book review column. If you want something more ponderous, skip back a few months. I’ve been happy with these last few years of reviews, and hope you can browse around in the archives a bit.
So. Two parts this month. They will be brief, but, we believe yes, we really do---important, somehow. Take a peek and see what you think.
MORE BOOK OF THE YEAR STUFF LEFT OVER FROM 2005.
If January has been painful and hard, December was a blur. It is inevitable for even the most organized reviewer to have that dreaded aha when he or she realizes they forgot to mention something they read months previous. And so, no sooner did I go to press with my year end ramble then I thought about titles I really should have mentioned.
Here are just a few that I have to mention. My shins are black and blue from kicking myself, and hope you know that my late mention in no way detracts from these substantial titles that deserve 2005 accolades.
Art of Sandra BowdenEdited by James Romaine (Square Halo Press) $49.99 In my year’s end accolades I was beside myself with glee about good books about the arts, the re-issue of Cal Seerveld’s Rainbows for the Fallen World and mentioned some books about aesthetics. Also, I highlighted a few good coffee-table books honoring the work of important Christian artists. Few practicing artists and serious art collectors deserve as much credit as the ever-faithful Sandra Bowden, the executive behind CIVA (Christians in the Visual Arts.) In a way this award not only honors her book but her leadership in this vital mission.
Here, we have a glorious coffee table book with excellent commentary, that truly is award-winning. Hearts & Minds would be remiss—was remiss—not to rave about it. As before, we give a hat-tip to our friends at Square Halo for bringing these kinds of books to the book-buying public, and for nurturing and supporting a community of folk who care about Christians in the arts. James Romaine is an excellent critic and does her work justice in his brief and coherently framed ruminations This book not only includes the good work of Ms Bowden, shown off very nicely, but reproductions of her own extensive collections. This is a very special book, well designed and produced (itself a work of art!) Substantial and gorgeous. Kudos!
Creation Regained: The Biblical Basics of a Reformational WorldviewAl Wolters (Eerdmans) $12.00 You may know that this book is one of the most foundational texts that explains the worldview that has motivated and sustained our work here at Hearts & Minds. The excellent Biblical study on the implications of the utter goodness of creation, the radicality of the fall, and the scope of Christ’s redemption is the best in print. And his somewhat philosophical wisdom on the structures of creation and how they can be unfolded in history appropriately for God’s Kingdom is extraordinary. We have seen Wolter’s as an inspirational mentor and friend and are delighted to announce this brand new 20th anniversary edition. If the book weren’t so very important, we’d joke about also awarding it for " most improved book cover" since it now looks really sharp.
Very important is the excellent and lengthy new last chapter which relates the missional vision of Leslie Newbigin and the narrative Scriptural work of N.T. Wright to the Dutch neo-Calvinism that drives Wolters’ insistence that all of life is redeemed and that the Kingdom God is the good Earth restored. This is the strength of the vibrant reformational movement— from Kuyper through Dooyeweerd, popularized by Schaeffer and, in more recent years, everyone from Brian Walsh to Nancy Pearcy (yes, yes, each with their own nuances and issues.) That this book is now available in an updated version, complete with this new, good chapter, is enough to make me want to award Eerdmans with a very special honor. Certainly this deserves to be in the Best Reprint of the Year. It arrived days after our award page went on line, and we’ve been itching for a month to tell you about it. Thanks be to God.
Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual ReadingEugene Peterson (Eerdmans) $20.00
I am not sure if I can do this, but this actually was in the publisher’s pipeline to us at the end of the year. We got it a bit later, and it is technically a 06 copyright. But it is so absolutely exciting that I want to award it here. We can call it the best sequel of the year. Since we awarded the first, more substantial one, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places the "book of the year award" it is only natural to note this brand new one. Had I had it a few days earlier I would have written this, which ended up on our blogsite in early January:
I don’t want to overstate my hype by calling it the publishing event of the year, but the slim second volume (with very cool matching cover, except a different painting on the front) is now out.
Eat This Book’s provocative title comes from two texts where two characters (Ezekiel and John the Revelator) are told to eat the scroll they were reading/writing. As you may guess, this is about spiritual reading, lectio divina and how to allow the printed page to become living Word in our lives. I have heard Peterson's lectures on this (we stock many of the lectures from Regent bookstore in British Columbia, where he used to teach.) Having heard him carefully invite us to this kind of deep and attentive reading, I cannot tell you how badly I want to sit and read this book. And, like most of you, I need not tell you how busy I am, and how hard it will be to find time to steal away anytime soon. This book is, in a back-door kind of way, part of the solution to this "don’t have enough time" business; we need to learn the habits of slowing down, in part, by slowing down as we read, attending, being careful, prayerfully mulling over the word, words, The Word. This book will help me, and you, I am sure.
So, look for further discussion about this important new book later. For now, rejoice that it is out, offer glad praise for Eerdmans publishing, and pray for Peterson. (He has others to write in this series, and a forthcoming title on NavPress coming next month, called Living the Resurrection.) And pray for all of us, that we may be those who understand the role of reading as a spiritual discipline. May this book help us to that end. There is no gold sticker announcing that it is a H&M award winner, now (although we may be the first to honor it.) No matter, this is going to be famous. And, Lord willing, it will help shape a generation of those who deepen their love for the printed page and for the ancient ways of abiding in the Word.
Where God Was Born: A Journey by Land to the Roots of ReligionBruce Feiler (William Morrow) $26.95 Perhaps you have seen the wonderful PBS series based on Feiler’s travelogue memoir, Walking the Bible or read any of his other quirky bits of reportage. While I didn’t agree with it all, I could not put down his sequel to Walking the Bible, the one that has him bolding hanging out with Jews, Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land, trying to figure out the whole story of Father Abraham, Abraham. Here is continue his meaningful journey, writing about his ponderings about the possibilities of religion united us. His travels, as you might guess, are through Iran, Iraq, and Israel. Powerful. We have a few autographed copies left, so call soon.
Parched: A Memoir Heather King (Chamberlain Brothers) $19.95 What Award category does this brave writer belong in? What can I say? We have put a link at our blogsite to her important article that appear in Publisher’s Weekly, where she critiques the false bravado of James Frey and his dishonest A Million Little Pieces. We’ve since realized just how great of a writer she is and want to honor her for getting the memoir genre right, for standing up for her craft, and for telling her own story of alcoholism, recovery and redemption.
This Heavy Silence: A Novel Nicole Mazzarella (Paraclete) $21.95 As I’ve noted, this is really a mea culpa list, a collection of a couple of books we intended to or should have awarded in our much-talked about year end Award Show column (December '05.) Well, none of these few neglected award-winners are more award worthy than this extraordinary novel. Many of our readers know of the superb Festival of Faith & Writing conference held bi-annually at Calvin College in Michigan. It is most likely the premier event of its kind, with internationally known novelists, poets, children’s illustrators, songwriters, memoirists, and essayists reading and signing books and doing all manner of bookish things. Where else can you hear the likes of John Updike or Catherine Paterson, Anne Lamott or Walter Wangerin, and, this year, Mary Gordon, Nikki Grimes, Thomas Lynch, Marilynne Robinson (have we told you Gilead is now out in paperback?),Salman Rushdie, or Lauren Winner?
Two years ago, the exquisite writer Lief Enger (Peace Like a River) was the primary judge of the Paraclete Press contest for first time fiction writers there. Nicole Mazzarella won that award and Paraclete made good on their offer to publish her novel. This Heavy Silence is a moving story, a mesmerizing portrait of betrayal, forgiveness, and the mysteries of grace. It has been published to huge acclaim (and H&M should have been at the front of the line, cheering!) Christianity Today named it their best novel of the year and the prestigious Library Journal named it one of the top ten novels of literary fiction. Imagine! This is very important stuff, indicating a wise and well-crafted tale. It has been called "fiercely beautiful", "an unforgettable book by a writer to watch" and "ambitious and bittersweet." Mazzarella teaches creative writing at Wheaton College and Paraclete is to be commended for investing in first time writers of such high caliber. Hearts & Minds is happy to heartily commend it, and to name it, belatedly, in our best of 2005 list.
By JUBILEE Speakers
I mentioned a second part of this month’s column. You may know the Jubilee conference in Pittsburgh, a top-drawer event that we have helped plan (in one capacity or another) for nearly 30 years. It is the highlight of our yearly cycle of events, conference, book displays and author appearances and we love it not just because it is sponsored by the Coalition for Christian Outreach (a campus ministry organization we used to work with and are still somewhat connected to) but because its design is to create opportunities for students to catch the vision of the Lordship of Christ over all of culture. It isn’t every inspirational conference that brings together scientists, engineers, artists and business leaders—and dozens of other topics—to help students gain a Godly sense of vocation and a Christian perspective on their academic disciplines. The worldview that pervades this conference (see my brief description of Al Wolters’ Creation Regained above) insists that a coherent set of Christian convictions and a faithfully Biblical lifestyle in the world will have huge implications for how we think about our callings and careers and will thereby truly revolutionize Christian living in the culture. It is no accident that one of the slogans of the CCO is "transforming college students to transform the world."
Here is a listing of some of the books written by this years Jubilee speakers. Please go to the excellent website of the conference (see the big row of booktables with college students browsing? Guess who set that up?) It is a great example of the sorts of things that we think radical Christian reading might lead to. And it might just inspirit you enough to get on line and register for this great annual event. It is mostly for students, but we find that nearly anyone can appreciate the feisty speakers, the rarely covered topics, and the visionary spirit of the event. Feast on the conference topics, and enjoy seeing the descriptions of the books of the authors in attendance this year.
Free at Last: The Gospel in the African American Experience (IVP) $14.00 This is one of our favorite introductions to black history and a wonderful example of Christian scholarship. Highly recommended.
The Changing Face of Islam in America: Understanding and Reaching Your Muslim Neighbor (Christian Publications) $12.99 Carl co-wrote this with Larry Poston and is a workable guide to the rise of Islam, including the Nation of Islam.
Going Global: Beyond the Boundaries (UMI) $9.95 A small but very inspiring call for historic black churches to be involved in world missions. Carl gives not only a timely call, and a bit of history of the black community in America, but a relevant and wholistic expression of the nature of missions in these days, emerging from a Christian world and life view.
Girl Meets God (Waterbrook) $13.99 One of our very favorite memoirs, a great story of a smart, young women who enters conservative, Orthodox Judaism, and then becomes an Anglican Christian. Wonderfully drawn, laden with insight.
Mudhouse Sabbath (Paraclete) $17.95 Things that Lauren found lacking in Christian spirituality that she lived out more robustly when she was Jewish. Rooted in memoir with reflective stories, this illustrates not only what Christians can learn from Jewish practice, but reminds us of the need for embodied habits that enable us to truly live out our faith in, but not of, the world around us. Excellent.
Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity (Brazos) $17.99 This has been widely reviewed and routinely raved about. One of the very best books about sexuality, especially for thoughtful, young adults.
Tony has so many books---several out of print that we thought we’d list just a few. Email or call us if you want to know about others.
Speaking My Mind (Word) $13.99 One of Tony’s most recent, controversial and important. Here, he weighs in with his views on a variety of social issues—feminism, war, poverty, science, churches, and the civil rights of gay persons.
Let Me Tell You A Story (Word) $12.99 Campolo is as well-loved for his stories as he is for his powerful call to Biblical faithfulness on public issues. Here, he gives us bunches of his most popular stories, illustrations and episodes. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry. Powerful and fun. Arranged by topic.
Adventures in Missing the Point: How the Culture Controlled Church Neutered the Gospel (Zondervan) $16.99 This is co-written in a back and forth style with the provocative and important post-modern thinker and pastor, Brian McLaren. What a great, great set of reflections by two of our most important critics of standard-fare evangelicalism, even when they disagree (and they do, at times!) They stretch us to think about postmodernism, the emerging church and an array of issues that, if handled well by the church, would more graciously show forth the heart of the gospel. Very thought provoking, the paperback edition is just now out.
Carpe Diem (Word) $12.99 Vintage Campolo, a rousing call to living out our faith with joy and passion at home, in church and in the marketplace. Fabulous.
The Survival Guide for Christians on Campus: How to Be Students and Disciples at the Same Time (Howard) $12.99 Co-written with the marvelous, understated (and former Jubilee keynoter) William Willimon, this is a very helpful guide to the basics of ordinary discipleship in the modern world. It is frustrating and troubling, though, that there is very little about college life, as such, and nothing about vocation, calling, academic discipleship or developing the Christian mind in one’s studies.
The Church Enslaved: A Spirituality For Racial Reconciliation (Fortress Press) $15.00 Co-written with Michael Battle, a respected young, black seminary prof and Dean. This is his newest, writing on a topic about which he has huge experience and deep wisdom. Very well done.
Revolution and Renewal: How Churches Are Saving Our Cities (Westminister/John Knox) $18.95 Co-written with Bruce Mains, this is a gritty and inspiring account of church-based urban ministry. Powerful.
Architect’s Essentials of Presentation Skills (John Wiley) $35.00 Obviously a technical book for professionals in this field. He is is one of the most revered men in his field and this covers very practical stuff about the business side!
Sam Van Eman
On Earth As It Is In Advertising: Moving From Commercial Hype to Gospel Hope (Brazos) $14.99 One of the only books on this topic from a Christian perspective, this is balanced, provocative, fun, and important. Written by a CCO staffer, this book is very, very nicely done and a perfect example of the Jubilee call to engage cultural appreciatively but with prophetic discernment. Sure to be very popular.
I Ain’t Comin’ Back (Voice of Calvary) $12.00 This is Weary’s powerful story of encountering grinding poverty and oppressive racial injustice, his encounter with Christ and his renewed leadership in Kingdom answers to the problems of the rural south. We are privileged to have Dolpheus with us and pleased to have his book. What a testimony!
The Spirit in Public Theology: Appropriating the Legacy of Abraham Kuyper (Baker) $18.99 It is hard not to rave about this, even though we are aware that not everyone gets excited about theology books. This is rich, good stuff, studying how various theologians understood the Holy Spirit, and how their Spirit-lead thinking shaped their approach to public life. Happily, the hero of the book is the great-great-grand-daddy of Jubilee himself, former Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Abraham Kuyper. Bacote is one of the best Kuyperian thinkers, involved in ecumenical (and emergent) conversations and obviously informed by his experience as a black theologian. This is a truly important work and good for nearly anyone interested in the "Jubilee vision."
Longing To Know (Brazos) $16.99 Not everyone reads philosophy, but Esther (who teaches at Geneva College) has given us a very lovely introduction to how we know, how to make informed decisions, and how to sort out the debates about the relationship between "heart & mind." Drawing on the wholistic philosophy of science of Michael Polanyi, this is an essential book for beginning philosophy students and not a bad guide for anyone who has interests in discerning God’s will, being more reflective about knowledge, and having good answers for those who have tough questions about the faith.
Art & Soul: Signposts for Christians in the Arts (IVP) $25.00 Co-written with Hilary Brand, this serious-minded, well-illustrated and altogether lovely book may be the best one in this field! Ms Chaplin was mentored by well-respected writer and teacher Calvin Seerveld, so it is well-written from within his important Dutch neo-Calvinist worldview. Not the simplest read, but not overly difficult, either, making it a perfect book for nearly any serious artist or anyone interested in the topic. Excellent.
True Truth: Defending Absolute Truth in a Relativistic World (IVP) $13.00 Many CCO staff have used Art’s helpful guide to apologetics (he, himself, used to work for CCO.) This is ideal for anyone who wants to know how best to give a cogent argument about the faith without seeming either sentimental & shallow or rigid & overly-rationalistic.
C. S. Lewis’s Case for Faith: Insights From Reason, Imagination and Faith (IVP) $14.00 Very nicely written with a fictional group of folks appearing in every chapter, this walks through Lewis’s own apologetic and how he came to come to faith. Happily as clear about Lewis’s appreciation for beauty and myth as his impeccable logic. A good intro to Lewis and a helpful guide for anyone thinking through faith.
Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2 (Relevant) $13.99 A very readable, entertaining and informed study of the world’s greatest rock band. A must for music fans, and helpful for anyone wondering how to evaluate spiritually-themed contemporary culture.
The Rock Cries Out: Finding Eternal Truth in Unlikely Music (Relevant) $13.99 Stockman brings his Irish wit and Presbyterian faith to bear on his discernment of great artists such as Radiohead, Kurt Cobain, Lauryn Hill, David Gray, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Marley, Ani DeFranco, and other similar performers. Fascinating!
Tim has written quite a lot of curriculum on leadership development and sells his own resources through his website and some are published by a denominational publishers who does not officially with independent stores.
Pivotal Praying: Connecting with God in Times of Great Need (Nelson) $13.99 A co-authored work, this is a very helpful God about passionate prayer during pivotal moments in life.
Habitudes(Growing Leaders) These are Tim’s very creative meditations based on provocative photographs, each illustrating a different aspect of leadership development. This is a series, with each book developed around a different theme or aspect of leadership. Very cool.