But first, some personal testimony”Â¦
This month, I want to tell you about some very important books, one a pick of ours for one of the most important books of our time, as well as a new one or two about which you may not have heard. Then, I will offer a suggested list of some other useful resources and good books around this month’s topic. On my new book blog I will most likely give some other quick recommendations too. That, by the way, is where I will give bookish notes and brief annotations whenever I can. Please check out http://heartsandmindsbooknotes.blogspot.com/
Here at our website, I feel like it is right to tell our beloved general public a bit about ourselves and one of our primary passions. It is an important part of the “Hearts & Minds Story”Â and if you are reading, you may be a part of that story, too. I hope you don’t mind some reminiscing “Â¦
Back in the 1960’s when I was a teenager, God graced me with a special blessing of being interested in world poverty. At the time it didn’t seem like it, but I can now name it as such. Whether it came from an unusually soft conscience, good, good, parents, or an extra gift of the Holy Spirit, I do not know. I know I was not alone, even though I often felt that way. The pop music of the day even gave us song lyrics about caring for our neighbors. (Young hipsters listening to oldies radio these days may cringe at the sentimentality of “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”Â or “Abraham, Martin and John”Â or “Try a Little Kindness”Â or “Indian Reservation”Â but those songs–along with anti-war demonstrations, a man from my church marching with King in Selma and my relentless reading of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—were formative in my early years.) I had a fascination with and desire to do something about world hunger and recall trying to raise money to help with that first great rock concert against hunger, George Harrison’s Concert for Bangla Desh. Before that, I have early memories of some of the first CROP walks and doing “Trick or treat for UNICEF.”Â (Does anybody else remember that?) Something was “happenin’ in the air”Â and, as I often said, I didn’t fully understand it all, let alone a solidly Christian approach, until I came across Os Guinness’ The Dust of Death which explored the ethos of the counter-culture through an alternative Christian lens.
When I went off to college in the early 70’s my evangelical friends of those years were suspicious of my concern about the poor and, to their benefit, have come a long way over the years. I recall how alone I felt, wondering why my vibrant prayer group didn’t want to pray about the torture cages we promoted in South Viet Nam, why the scatter bombs designed to decimate civilians weren’t as disturbing as, say, their roommate who cussed a bit. Slowly, though, we all came to understand the world a bit better and I threw myself into social activism.
I have learned a lot from years of organizing lettuce boycotts and farmworker awareness meetings, studying third world colonialism, sitting in with homeless activists or meeting with congresspeople about the good sense of food stamps, paying close attention to the safe energy movement or demonstrating against nuclear weapons. I still shiver when I recall the time I had a chance to pray in our Congressman’s home about U.S. sponsored covert war in Central America, which he supported—I had a friend who had knew Oscar Romero, murdered by U.S. trained assassins in El Salvador. (I still smile thinking of how many times I made my friend Bob Rambo sing that song written by Paul Stookey and Jim Wallis from the PP&M album.) The move from just caring about the poor and asking what can be done to liberate the oppressed became a significant piece of my worldview. Making connections between over-reaching U.S. militarism and the inability of third world peasants to get a fair wage is still an urgent concern, even if less manifest than in earlier decades. Yet, though it all, I often found that evangelical friends were less than adequately aware and rarely involved. Those that cared about the Word didn’t seem to care much about the world; those that cared most about the world, were nearly clueless about the Word. With groups like Evangelicals for Social Action and wholistic ministries like Voice of Calvary, International Justice Mission, Call for Renewal and such, we have come a long, long way.
Still, it is remarkable, absolutely remarkable, that evangelical leaders like Rick Warren and Pat Robertson have endorsed the ONE campaign. It nearly brings tears of joy to my too often too tired heart to hear my evangelical brethren making connections between concern for the poor, authentic Biblical piety and, yes, the arcane and complex matters of international trade, third world debt and global politics. It was more than cool that Jars of Clay–to whom we have sent books on occasion—were affirmed by DATA as the most substantive band performing at the Philly Live 8 event. (And it is no surprise, either, that Hearts & Minds favorite rocker Bruce Cockburn–who wrote a song about the International Monetary Fund, of all things, over a decade ago, for pity’s sake–was one of the top artists at the Canadian Live 8 show.)
In my journey I came to learn that to truly make a lasting difference, charity is not enough, that to really help the needy, we must be advocates for social change. My understanding slowly emerged just like college students today are piecing things together as they fight sweatshops, celebrate the victory over Taco Bell and the new-found justice for tomato farmers, or as they study how the Jubilee campaign to cancel the imposing and unjust debt of so many poor countries got its name from Leviticus 25. (Ironically, I learned that from a Dutch Calvinian mentor, Pete Steen, when he walked us through the Mennonite John Howard Yoder’s Politics of Jesus in 1975 or so.) In college I wrote to my Congressman about genocide in Burundi and U.S. complicity in torture in Iran; today, our younger friends protest the horror in Darfur and blog about U.S. mistreatment of detainees around the world. This is seen, of course, in the shift from the charity-concert Live Aid to the justice-promotion purposes of Live 8 (the 8 referring to the G-8 Summit, the political meeting of the world’s top 8 leaders, who meet to discuss matters of international concern, especially around the global economy.)
Giving alms to the poor is not adequate to impact the complex barriers to development and justice and it is absolutely not enough to please and honor the God who insists that He loves and desires justice and public righteousness. As the amazing Live 8 organizers–Bono, DATA and ONE–have reminded us, structural injustice needs to be opposed, systematic and institutional changes need to be made and our political advocacy for a just international economy may be finally more important than mere charity.
I learned this first, I suppose, from Father Raymond Spatti, the first Catholic priest I knew, back at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1972. As a seriously evangelical college student at the tail end of the Jesus Movement, he embraced me and introduced us to the broader thinking of the Catholic social tradition–showing us documents like The Development of the Peoples, the position paper of the then-controversial Bishop’s task force on Appalachia, and got us involved in the boycott of Farrar pants (Southern textile workers–brown lung and all–were trying to organize for a better living) as well as the oil companies that were doing business in South Africa (a full decade before U.S. popular culture embraced the anti-apartheid movement.) And, importantly, he sent me–an evangelical Protestant whose Bible studies and worship services never mentioned any of this, off to the First National Right to Life Convention, to be in on the birthing of the newly formed pro-life movement. There, too, we learned of causes and complexities, economics and sexism, abuse and policy, framing the charitable impulses with analysis and politics.
Well-intended hunger fasts and adopting a far away sponsored child are good measures, but only band-aids against grinding poverty, institutional injustices and cultural immorality bred in troubled worldviews; more systemic and strategic changes to eliminate the causes of oppression, like the Bible says, needed to be explored. Frances Moore Lappe’s work became very important, then, as we learned about the “myths of hunger”Â and affirmed that nearly every country on Earth could feed it’s people if the right policies were enacted. From spending too much on the bloated military budget–oh how I liked to remind my Republican dad of that famous quote about the “military industrial complex”Â by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, how money for excess warships is stolen from the mouths of the starving—to bad urban policies, from self-important trade deals that favored Western corporations to supporting dictators from Iran to Argentina, we discovered that to chip away against poverty and human indignities will take more than charity alone. It will, as the Bible has said all along, take a reformation of culture, a political movement of solidarity with the oppressed and a commitment to civic-minded engagement for the long, long haul. Live 8, in its own way, understands some of this.
Beth and I, customers may want to know, have been active in groups working around trade and foreign aid issues for years. The best such group is Bread for the World, a lobbying group which Christianly motivates church folk to do citizen lobbying around anti-poverty initiatives; I signed up for the group in it’s first year when Father Spatti told us about it (again, my evangelical friends were perplexed.) Over the years I have done workshops on the third world debt–long before most people had heard of such a thing. We have argued for greater attention to trade–finally as important as aid–and have studied the complexities of export cropping, sugar cane production and the causes of world hunger and what has now come to be called globalization for three decades. We are certainly no experts, but all this stuff in the media these recent weeks is like a native tongue to us and I am thrilled to share about it here. I pray the Lord raises up others to not only care deeply but learn about these things, so we can be effective, prudent and wise in proposing Godly solutions, radical answers, Kingdom visions”Â¦
Our store has stocked resources on faith-based approaches to economic justice, have used our teaching opportunities to educate folks about international issues and have deeply cared about these kind of concerns since the day we opened our shop. (Some know that the very first book we sold our first day “â€œwe didn’t even have a cash register yet, since we forgot about getting one–was Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables which we took as some kind of sign.) Our conviction that the Bible teaches that God cares about these matters is why our store has so much stuff on social ethics, racism and ecology, evangelical kinds of feminism and books about peacemaking. We stock all sorts of theological books relating to these topics, too, drawing upon evangelical, Catholic, Reformed and Anabaptist visions of public justice and social concerns. We’ve promoted the broad, Christian thinking of turn of the last century Dutch Prime Minister Abraham Kuyper and enjoy keeping folks on their toes with the fun and controversial stuff of Tony Campolo. From Desmond Tutu to Wendell Berry, we stock the kinds of books that few “Christian bookstores”Â carry. It is a hard way to make a living, actually, but we will not give up on hoping we can broker these books to the servants of God who may need them. We are confident that Jesus and visions of His grand glory will cause more and more folks to want books on how daily Christian discipleship can be lived out in the realities of our modern, hurting world
This hope is why we have been proud to sponsor lectures and book-signings here with friends like Jim Wallis, Ron Sider, Tom Sine, Brian Walsh, and why we stock books on world missions and world peace. It is why we are humbled and proud to be mentioned in books like Paul Marshall’s Their Blood Cries Out (a devastating look at the persecuted church) and to have followed Gary Haugen’s extraordinary ministry (International Justice Mission) from it’s inception. (I reviewed his riveting book against sex trafficking, Terrify No More, last February here at the website–check out the archives if you haven’t read that review!) It is why we have helped start two different crisis pregnancy centers, have organized to stop the sale of porn at two local convenience stores, and for years worked for justice for detained Chinese asylum-seekers here in York, PA. We have enjoyed it so much when we have been asked to sell books at largely African American events or have sold books at international gatherings where we can serve those on the front lines in the campaign for God’s justice.. When we have reason to visit with black leader and authors like John Perkins, say, our hearts just overflow with how blessed it is to be even feebly committed to changing the world and a part of a Christ-centered network of life-long activists. It is why we now celebrate the good things God is doing in these days to bring these issues to international awareness. And it is why we write to you now, offering a few more resources for you, your church library, your community organizations or campus ministry programs. Now is the time–a window of opportunity opened by the Sovereign Lord of History Himself—to use these resources, share these books, fan the flames of people’s mild interest in “making poverty history.”Â We invite you, our book buyers, to join this part of our story, promoting this vision, and these kind of books.
The ONE campaign and the publicity of events like the G-8 summit and opposition to the CAFTA treaties give us an need to reflect, to think through what Christian folks particularly might have to offer, how our best traditions of faith can energize us to greater faithfulness as agents of God’s care. Here is our handy list of a couple of useful resources that can help you and your circle of friends grow in greater care and more effective involvement. The classic I mentioned in the beginning is, doubtlessly, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. We hope you have heard of it.
Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving From Affluence to Generosity Ronald J. Sider (Word) $15.99 In this brand new and updated edition, Ron has once again revised his classic, award-winning book. Christianity Today has declared that this is one of the most important books of the 20th century. (And you don’t have it?? Come on, people!) Loving Jesus, Sider shows, means learning to love the Book he loved. And the Bible is clear–from cover to cover–that God is doing Big Things in his restoration of His world. A very important part of what God is doing in His rescue plan is to create a people who care about the poor as much as He does and who arrange their lives in ways that show this. This book is one I simply wouldn’t be without—the Bible study is precious and eye opening, the call to charity is compelling and the call to be advocates of social justice is life changing. Especially given recent interest in global poverty, Africa, and third-world concerns, this is the very best place to start to gain greater understanding. We recommend this important work for oodles of reasons; let me give you five, each followed with a money-back guarantee. I hope and pray you take up our offer.
1. This book will help you understand your Bible better. This, truly, is one of the best books about the Scriptures I have ever read and even if you skip the charts about global economics and foreign aid, it is still well, well worth every penny. Buy a couple for your next Bible study group. If you love God, you will love His Word. This is a great way to learn something new about this vastly under-appreciated aspect of God’s revelation. If you are like most, you will come away thinking “How did I ever miss all this in the Bible before?”Â If you don’t–how is this for a deal?—we will give you your money back.
2. It really does explain all kinds of stuff about the global economy which shows why the price of bananas or a tank of gas or a cup of fair-trade coffee is of such great importance. He calls us to be moderately aware and somewhat responsible; Christ’s burden is light, after all, so this isn’t meant as a new legalism, a guilt-mongering call to study boring factoids that we don’t really care about. Rather, it guides us into a rich and fruitful kind of lifestyle that realizes our shopping choices, our lifestyle attitudes, our politics and our finances are all a part of our fabric of daily discipleship before the face of a gracious Creator. To have the vision of being intentional about food choices, family budget questions or church mission committee projects opens up a rich and purposeful way of being in the world that I wouldn’t ever want to miss. Everything we do matters in God’s economy, and Sider helps us make better choices as stewards of God’s stuff, helping us attend to the opportunities to do good that the Spirit gives us, day by day. If you don’t learn something new about this crazy, complicated world that you truly find interesting, we will refund you your money. How “Ëœbout that?
3. If Sider is right that the Bible is loaded with imperatives to be involved on behalf of the poor and oppressed (or, as John Ortberg says in his rave review blurb on the back “This will be on the final”Â) then we not only need to be more obedient to these many Scriptural mandates, but we will surely come to know God better as we respond in faithfulness to His call. In other words, this is a deeply spiritual book, a tool to help you mature in faith, learning to be closer to God, serving and being served, by the Christ of the poor. Reading this, we will find ourselves guilty of sins–perhaps more of omission than commission–and as we take up Christ’s cross we are met by Him there. This is finally a glad book, a call to know God, to be united with Christ, to find purpose, integrity, joy, and life. This is a book of being immersed in the power of the Holy Spirit, animated by Resurrection power. What fool would settle for less? I dare you to read the last two paragraphs of Rich Christians and not have your heart beat harder in your chest. I’ll tell ya what, if you aren’t moved by that, we will give you your money back.
4. Ron Sider deserves better than the reputation that some have of him as a stodgy, simple-living monk or a curmudgeon that doesn’t believe in owning stuff or who is some left-wing wacko who hates capitalism. If you have been paying any attention to the circles I travel in–and praise the Lord if you don’t, I suppose–you surely have heard derogatory things about Ron. I’ll tell you what. Read him for yourself. Check out his deep faith, his solid evangelical theology, his balanced understanding of the complexities of global poverty (yes, even his appreciation for the role of markets.) If you don’t find this admirable, we will give your money back. How “Ëœbout that?
5. Reading this might draw you into his other worthwhile books and you will be better for it. His appendices are useful and his recommendations of worthwhile organizations to support is astute.
And here are a few other titles you may be lead to. They are a few of our favorites.
The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience Ronald Sider (Baker) $12.99 You may have heard the good press about (or read my earlier recommendation of) this recent, slim volume which is a powerful call to holiness and Godliness, especially urgent for evangelicals who historically prided themselves in being “not of this world.”Â If we are as committed to the counter-cultural values of Christ as we say, why don’t we stand out as unusually poignant examples when it comes to wholesome relationships, pure sexuality, sensitivity to racial justice, rejection of consumerism and materialism and such? As they say in this poker-crazy age, “Read it and weep.”Â Very, very compelling.
Living Like Jesus: Eleven Essentials for Growing a Genuine Faith Ronald Sider (Baker) $12.99 This is a perfect example of Ron’s delightfully balanced, multi-faceted interests. He shows better than just about anybody how to integrate a broad social vision–on stuff like ecology, work, political views and concern for the poor—with more typical concerns about prayer, strong family life, evangelism and personal holiness. This is a great introduction to the full-orbed Christian life and again, it is finally a hard challenge that is liberating, freeing us up for what the Bible promises as abundant life. This is a great, great little book which shows Sider at his clearest.
Good News and Good Works: A Theology of the Whole Gospel Ronald Sider (Baker) $16.99 Here is one of the best theological books for laypeople—it isn’t a heavy, dry tome, but is an excellent survey of what some call “wholistic”Â Christianity. It certainly is the foundation for all his other work and showcases his solid Biblical mind. This used to be entitled One Sided Christianity and he documents that too many within the church have an overemphasis on either social change or personal evangelism. Some think God wants political reform, others preach soul salvation. Neither is Biblically correct, he shows, as both truncate God’s redemptive work. Why not do what the Bible does, he pleads, and work out of a vision of the reign of God, which demands both personal salvation and public discipleship; we must combine word and deed, understand saving grace and explore the implications of Christ’s Lordship in a hurting world. Due to this work, and those influenced by it, more and more mainline folks are learning about evangelism and more and more evangelicals are doing social action. Sider is confident that Jesus was correct–The Kingdom of God is at hand! This book will help us all understand that much, much better. If you would like to try this kind of approach, but don’t want quite the substance of this thoughtful study, some Brethren folks at Evangel Press have put out a collection of Sider sermons, some drawn from this book, which is a lovely and inspiring call to whole-life discipleship, socially-engaged evangelism and justice-savvy, Biblically-guided service and outreach. It is called Doing Evangelism Jesus’ Way: How Christians Demonstrate the Good News ($12.95.)
Just Generosity: A New Vision for Overcoming Poverty in America Ronald Sider (Baker) $16.99 Ron once told me he hopes this book will do for domestic poverty what Rich Christians did for global injustice. There is no doubt that many in America–from the rural poor in Appalachia to the homeless in the big cities, from single moms in housing projects to farmworkers trying to make a decent wage—people go to bed hungry each night. This is a scandal, of course, and social conservatives have prided themselves in dismantling social services; a dear young friend recently told me of his first encounter with his Senator in a discussion on food policies for poor folk and came away deeply distressed. This book gives not only Biblically balanced warrant for a helpful social agenda, but offers practical ways to go beyond the impasse of those who lament the giant welfare state and those that worry that the private sector alone cannot solve such a massive problem of such consequence. This is an important book.
Churches That Make a Difference: Reaching Your Community With Good News and Good Works Ronald Sider, Heidi Rolland Unruh, Phil Olson (Baker) $19.99. If you are a church leader, wishing to find models of congregational involvement, Ron’s exciting research into the best churches in the Philadelphia area that do wholistic ministry is documented in Interestingly, about a third of the churches Sider and his colleagues discovered were evangelical, about a third were historic African American congregations and about a third were mainline denominational parishes. Each brought together robust personal evangelism, effective provision of helpful social services, and some degree of broader justice advocacy. You can learn to do this by studying these models and applying insights and strategies in your hometown.
By the way, Oxford University Press approach this good team about doing a more academic, researched-based book on how this is sustain in local congregations and Heidi guided several years of on-going research”Â¦This forthcoming work, sure to be highly regarded and very useful, will come out in late summer of “Ëœ05. It is called Saving Souls, Serving Society: Understanding the Faith Factor in Church-Based Social Ministry ($30.00.) We hope to be among the first store’s to carry it, so give us a call if you want us to mail it to you or your congregation or agency.
Grace at the Table: Ending Hunger in God’s World David Beckman and Art Simon (IVP) $10.95 I have often mentioned Bread for the World, the Christian citizen’s movement that enables ordinary citizens–on their own or gathered in local chapters–to follow current legislation about food policy, trade, aid, and such, and are guided to write recommended letters to their elected officials. We think this is one of the very the best solutions most of us can offer to the plight of hunger—public policy that is just, lobbied into the best proposal by faith-based citizens. Not everyone in this world has the gift of citizenship and those of us with such democratic voice should surely be good stewards of the opportunity to influence Congress on behalf of others.
Grace at the Table is one of the best introductory books on hunger and food and, except for Sider, is the one we recommend most often (Simon was the founder of BFW, Beckman, a devout Christian with years of experience at the World Bank, is the current Director. Both are splendid individuals.) Grace at the Table not only explains the basics about the Biblical teachings, the current situation about starvation and the poverty problem, but gently suggests BFW type action answers, making it an absolutely ideal handbook for local groups that want to actually get involved. A blessed resource, highly recommended by everyone who works in this field. While you are at it, please know that the gentle and kind Lutheran pastor, Art Simon, has a stunning recent book on materialism and spirituality called How Much is Enough: Hungering for God in an Affluent Culture published by Baker ($12.99) which is very, very good. He has a brand new one on the Lord’s Prayer, too, just published by Augsburg-Fotress. Nicely done.
The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade Pietra Rivoli (Wiley) $29.95 The rumpled white T-shirt on the cover tells us something of this fine, fine book. It literally follows the author’s T-shirt (purchased from a beachside souvenir shop in Florida) from the East Texas cotton farm (one of the truly great chapters) to the complex lobbying meetings about government subsidies and tariffs, to the Chinese sweatshops that sew the thing together to–get this–the final destination where shirts are re-sold in wonderful African shops (after being donated to charity and then sold by the charity to a legitimate, savvy exporter.) I have rarely read a book that teaches so much about the details of the global economy that is such a delight. To say it is well written is an understatement, even if there were some parts I wanted more. I think that on my blog–soon to go on line later in July–I may offer some critique of the economic theories (her influence of Karl Polanyi is notable) of this good professor and perhaps share my struggle to know if she is correct. I think she is correct to remind us, though, that non-economic factors really are as important than markets. That is, intangibles like infrastructure, democratic practices in the workplace, a culture of civic order, political freedoms, even something as simple as literacy— she tells a horrific story of how cotton growers in India couldn’t read the directions for the proper use of pesticide technology that a foreign aid package gave them, so they accidentally poisoned themselves—make as much of a difference as the alleged benefits of free markets.
Let me say this—I think anyone mildly interested in sweatshop issues, human rights, globalization, or free trade should read this. She is greatly concerned about these issues, but favors free markets more than the typical human rights activist who tends towards a radical critique of the world trade organizations. She is balanced, thoughtful, open to learning from the best of “both”Â sides and eager to put everything–from the farmers in Texas to the battle about woolens in the dawn of the Industrial Revolution to the “China threat”Â to the textile industry today–in good historical context. What a fun way to learn so very much. I hope you enjoy learning about Nelson and Ruth, Gary and Yuan Zhi, Ed, Gulam, Quin, Mohammend, Yong Fang, Auggie and Patrick—just a few of the colorful characters who play a role in her journal from the Walgreen’s Drugstore to the mitumba market in Tanzania. Highly recommended.
Globalization and the Good edited by Peter Heslam (Eerdmans) $20.00 A good collection of faith-based reflections—some fairly inspirational, others more meaty and substantive–put together by the author of Shaping a Christian Worldview which is the definitive book on Abraham Kuyper’s Stone Lectures and the significance of Dutch neo-Calvinism. Here, in a volume co-produced by the Capitalism Project at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, we have top notch (mostly) British thinkers offering balanced critique, appreciation, limits and insights about the spirit of the age as it is manifest in the global economy. While a few of these are clearly human rights workers or social activists (Jim Wallis has a good if predictable chapter) some contributors come from the world of multi-national corporations or serve as leaders in industry or government.
Mustard Seed Versus McWorld: Reinventing Life and Faith for the Future Tom Sine (Baker) $16.99 It is hard to get a more energetic presenter than Sine and his many books have been a good staple for those of us who appreciate a broad social vision, an evangelical spirituality and practical ways to escape the bankruptcy of the American Dream. We have cheered this book before, but it seems so germane to our topic this month that it needs another recommendation. Here, Sine brings his wide-ranging assessment of global change and offers us a ride into places we may never have heard of. Part travelogue, part Kingdom-dreaming, part futurist analysis, this is a book that paves the way towards an alternative to the secularized quandary of globalization. Rave reviews from the likes of Clive Calver (President of World Relief) say, “If I had to buy only one contemporary book for the third millennium, this would be the one.”Â A moving forward by Ravi Zacharias speaks volumes, and dear Richard Foster–who tends not to endorse new books–says “An important book that we neglect to our peril.”Â This may be going out of print, so may we commend it to you once again?
Capitalism and Progress: A Diagnosis of Western Society Bob Goudzewaard (Paternoster) $10.00 I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to have once met Dr. Goudzewaard, an economist and former Parliament member from the Christian political party in Holland. He was as gracious and kind, as he was brilliant. He has written an number of important books and this is his theoretical masterpiece, a study of the history of ideas, particularly how the engine of progress–defined in strictly materialistic terms, of course—pushed a certain understanding of economics and deformed the Western world. Interestingly, the author does not show how both Marxism and capitalism shared much in common at the most fundamental levels and how neither left nor right wing reforms fully adequate from a Christian perspective. A wonderfully developed thesis, tracing the ideas that shaped the Western world, and their consequences for modern economics. Anyone interested in globalization, fair trade, world hunger or Christian social ethics owes it to him or herself to work through this rare masterpiece. The U.S. edition is maddeningly out of print; John Stott helped get this less expensive edition reprinted in England. We are the sole distributor in the States, selling it for the great price of only $10.00. (The paper is cheap and the print a bit small but it is the only edition in print.) Goudzewaard also gave the 1999 Abraham Kuyper Lectures sponsored by Citizens for Public Justice published in a volume entitled Globalization and the Kingdom of God which includes three vibrant, short responses to his speech. This is a great, little volume, deceptive in its brevity, as it is very, very insightful. ($11.99.)
In Search of the Common Good edited by Patrick Miller and Dennis McCann (T & T Clark) $40.00 I will admit that this is too pricey for most and too academic for many. Still, the wonderful array of chapters makes this a very important text and a few of the pieces are brilliant. I am fond of James Skillen’s few chapters, and the theological inquiry about the nature of the commons (and what is good) make this an essential piece of contemporary social ethics. From the famous Miller on Biblical commands, to the renowned Aquinas scholar Jean Porter, from Milner Ball to Max Stackhouse, William Cavanaugh to Robert Jenson, this is a moderate, thoughtful, incisive and insightful volume for upper level students and serious readers.
Walking With the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development Bryant L. Myers (Orbis) $22.00 Granted, as the critics have suggested, canceling the third world day may not have immediate benefit for the poorest of the poor; fair trade policies may go a long way to offer better wages for peasant farmers, but there is still so much more that needs doing, village by village, throughout the two-thirds world. Here, a major scholar from World Vision has given us one of the very best examples of careful Christian thinking about development, solidarity, how to help and sustain and empower the poor. Myer’s brings, as Rich Mouw puts it, “social scientific savvy, strategic clarity and biblical sensitivity to bear”Â and this makes for a splendid, if specialized resource. Want to know more about the details of development, of what can and must be done, and how wholistic missionaries can come along side those oppressed by systematic social evil? A truly excellent study, informed by some of the best practices gleaned from his work around the globe.
I shared in the beginning of this essay that my own journey has one that has tried to relate vibrant evangelical faith, ecumenical theology and mature spirituality with the grand and glorious call by God–revealed in nearly every book of the Holy Scriptures–to be advocates for justice. That one of the first verses I heard my Dad talk about as a favorite was Micah 6:8 was no surprise. There is a deep and profound connection between spirituality, knowing God and serving others, particularly in ways that involve social action for structural change. That God loves justice is a routine theme of the Bible, and Jesus himself started His Kingdom with unmistakable reference to Old Testament Jubilee legislation about economic adjustment, debt cancellation, and reformation of social ethics.
And so, I recommend, finally, a few resources on worship. If we don’t worship well, if we do not integrate a vision of justice into our most focused time of devotion–communal worship within the gathered Body–then perhaps we will have a harder time growing into these urgent concerns. Perhaps it is no wonder folks are transformed just by reading Sider and Simon. We need to bring these concerns–the needs of the poor and the citizenship duties of us all–before God in liturgy.
Hunger for the Word: Lectionary Reflections on Food and Justice Year A and Year B edited by Larry Hollar (Liturgical Press) $19.95 Larry has been in our community, helping our small local band of BFW citizens–he has been what Bread calls a “regional organizer.”Â He is a devout follower of Christ and took a sabbatical to live among the poor in a third world village. Out of his political activism, policy-wonk work, church cheerleading and teaching, he developed a set of lectionary resources for worship planners. A resource for Year C is on the way, but for now, these volumes are the best guides to use to keep world hunger on your worship agenda. Very highly recommended.
Harvest for the World: A Worship Anthology on Sharing in the Work of Creation compiled by Geoggrey Duncan (Pilgrim Press) $21.00 This handsome handbook of prayers, poems, readings and litanies come from all over the world and are creative, nuanced and helpful in thinking about the environment, God’s concern for public justice, the glory of good food and harvests and the struggle for justice, human rights and social health.
Liturgy and Justice: To Worship God in Spirit and Truth edited by Anne Koester (Liturgical Press) $19.95 As is often the case, Roman Catholics of done considerable, serious reflection on this matter and this collection of essays is very, very interesting. Initially presented at a conference on Pastoral Liturgy at Notre Dame.
Gather Into One: Praying and Singing Globally C. Michael Hawn (Eerdmans) $28.00 It simply doesn’t get more thoughtful than this—presented by the esteemed Calvin Institute for Christian Worship, this makes the case that the Body of Christ is trans-national and the gospel is multi-cultural. Our worship should be too. Even if only for special Sundays, mission events or justice projects, having this on your shelf will be a go-to resource you will be glad to own. It has some international songs, but is more of an academic collection to help you get behind various cultures, understanding the context of their hymns and worship ethos. Fascinating.
Worship in the Spirit of Jesus: Theology, Liturgy and Songs Without Violence Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer and Bret Hesla (Pilgrim Press) $25.00 I might not be exactly where Jack is at every point, theologically or liturgically, but there is no doubt–in this age of jihads and crusades–that we need to be attentive to the language of our liturgy and the implications of our styles of worship. This will help you generously talk about these things, understand historic and modern consequences of violent images, and consider alternative resources that may be more in keeping with the spirit of Jesus. A DC is included with the contents of the book in enlarged format for classroom or congregational use. Very provocative.
For All God’s Worth: True Worship and the Calling of the Church N.T. Wright (Eerdmans) $10.95 This slim volume is wonderful on worship, excellent in it’s Biblical study and–the whole second portion–very helpful in pondering the relationship between worship and life, between what we do in liturgy and how we live out the gospel, scattered after gathered, as they say. I love this little inspiring collection and try to foist it on anybody who cares about worship or living, spirituality or obedience, good doctrine and good cultural engagement. While I am highlighting these concerns, we simply must give a notice to recall the many good books of our dear sister Marva Dawn. Not only her stuff on culture, affluence, power and such, but also her important books on worship. Even for those who may not like her specific suggestions, there is no doubt that her desire for a counter-cultural community, shaped by the glory of God known in worship, lived out in acts of service and charity, justice and stewardship, is right on. All of her proceeds for all of her books, by the way, go to good development projects, African AIDS clinics, or other such appropriate service ministry. Please support her and her work.
Faith in Action Study Bible: Living God’s Word in a Changing World (New International Version) edited by World Vision (Zondervan) $39.99 Imagine the plentiful notes of the serious NIV Study Bible or the practical application focus of the nice notes of the Life Application Study Bible combined with rigorous social ethics, social and political insight, sidebars making connections between the call to Biblical fidelity and the need to serve a hurting world. This is truly a magnificent resource, most likely lost amidst the shuffle of niche-marketed devotional Bibles and new translations. The commentary style notes and the full-page articles give readers great insight into the ways our Scriptural understandings can be lived out, bridging older contexts and contemporary concerns. Authors and contributors to the study notes to this Bible are mostly writers from the well-done NIV Application Commentary series or the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (with scholars such as Tremper Longman, Gary Moo, Iain Provan, Gary Smith, Craig Keener, Karen Jobes, Willem VanGemeren, etc) and the more reflective notes in this study Bible include (among others) the likes of Thomas a Kempis, John Calvin, Tony Campolo, Jimmy Carter, Maxie Dunnam, William Dyrness, Ajith Fernando, Richard Foster, Millard Fuller, Gary Haugen, Carl Henry, George Hunter, Bill Hybles, C.S. Lewis, Max Lucado, Scott McKnight, Richard Mouw, John Ortberg, Bill Pannell, Christine Pohl, Ron Sider, Howard Snyder, John Stott, Joni Earackson Tada, Mother Teresa, Phil Yancey”Â¦ How’d you like them to hold your hand will studying the Word and learning to live in out in action. Wow.
Then Shall Your Light Rise: Spiritual Formation and Social Witness Joyce Hollyday (Upper Room) $10.00 Some of us learned from Thomas Merton decades ago–and others learned it from Jonathan Edwards centuries ago—that deep knowledge of Christ compels us to a meaningful mysticism, bringing together piety and politics. Properly, our efforts to bring change and reformation are rooted, as all good things, in our deepest places, in the quiet of our own hearts which know the mercies of God. Joyce here brings together moving stories of social witness, wholistic ministry, and advocacy for the battered all while showing how these energies emerge out of prayerful spirituality. The stories are great, the Bible teaching insightful, and the guidance towards bringing together that which is too often seperated is very valuable.