What? No comments on the last post, my announcement of the new acoustic, instrumental CD of Bruce Cockburn? Nobody thought it notable that we had a picture for the first time on this feeble little blog? I want to sound like a 1oth drama teacher and plead Come on People, work with me here.
None the less, thanks to Gus for the cool picture. And the one sole person that ordered one of these incredible albums, taking us up on the first ever Hearts & Minds BookNotes special.
Well. Since that big plan didn’t go over too well, I will try another. A few nights back I had the privelege of sitting in a lecture of Os Guinness, doing a similiar keynote as he did when we hosted him here in the Spring. But this time, I didn’t have to do anything, didn’t need to stress about it, didn’t have a book display, got to sit with my very smart oldest daughter, and good friend Dick (from Viewpoint), my brother who knows something about nearly everything, Harry, a long-time best friend and go-to carpenter guy, Paul, and really early H&M customer/friend, journalist Dave. What fun.
To sit in Carlisle at Dickenson College in a quaint, old lecture hall and hear Os invites us–those who are followers of Christ and those who are not, those who are naturally reflective about deep matters and those who are not–to the often-cited “examined life”, was a thrill. As always, he was erudite and passionate, elequant and tough-minded, Christ-like and clear.
Thanks and kudos to The John Newton Center who is a doing a good job of bringing together important speakers, vital topics and fine conversations at both the college and law school in that lovely town. It reminded me again of how important Dr. Guinness’s latest book is, not only for those who are working hard at framing life in these times in a Biblical view, but for anybody who needs some help–he gives seven steps–working through the questions of evil and the problems of suffering. My review of his book, Unspeakable: Facing Up To Evil in an Age of Genocide and Terror was one of the ones I was most proud of this year over at the monthly column. I thought that for tonight’s blog, I would refer you to that. You can read that review here. It is a bit longer than my usually wordy blog posts, but, I think, it explains some aspects of Guinness’ work and commends this particular book. Maybe you can cut and paste it and send it on to sombody who might find it stimulating.
If anyone orders the book and says–in an email, on the order form at the website, or in a phone call to the shop–that they saw the review here, we will offer a 25% discount.
The book is important. It isn’t coming out in paperback quite yet (maybe in the winter, perhaps.) It is one to buy, one to work into your life, perhaps to give away to a thoughtful person who needs less consoluation and more assistance with sustainable answers. Less cliche and more honest approaches. There is a place for crying out in lament, as I posted about last month. And heaven knows there is a time for a Scripture passage offered in kind hope. But there is a time to put on the old thinking cap and buckle down and figure this stuff out. Jesus, Os insists, was angry at the disorder and pain in the world he so lovingly crafted. He expects us to be as well. Within the Christian answer to the problem of evil is an imperative. As Bruce Cockburn put it in his powerful song about injustice to First Nations peoples, Stolen Lands,
What steps are you gonna take
make things right?
In these stolen lands.
I would not be honest (nor very good at this line of work) if I didn’t say that I truly believe one of the imperatives to social reform and to cultural restoration is to first think through the very big questions Guinness guides us through. Buying this book isn’t just for those who “need it” or who are intellectually curious. It is a foundational contribution to a worldview formation that can lead to lives of integrity and truthfulness, and pave the way for serious and effective social action and, Lord willing, cultural reformation. We owe it not only to ourselves, and our Risen Lord, but our needy neighbors and dysfunctional culture to read and respond.
Sorry to preach. Read the review if you can and give us a holler. Thanks.
Unspeakable: Facing Evil in an Age of Genocide and Terror Os Guinness (Harper SanFransico) $21.95