I want to give a shout out to our friends at Calvary Baptist and the CCO staff at Penn State who are hosting a conference this week-end (yes, we get to set up books there, too) on developing “Faith for Thought.” I will do one of the plenary keynote talks, as will the very prestigious Dr. Philip Jenkins. You can see the description of my talk about cultural engagement, developing the Christian mind and using thought not for pride but for the reformation of culture to the glory of God at their site. Check out the various workshops—-on dance, law, C.S. Lewis, pop culture, linguistics, sexuality, peace-making, business, environmental stewardship…it’s going to be a great time! (Am I wrong to suggest that this could be considered a pre-Jubilee gathering?)
Dr. Jenkins, you may know, has written widely on a bunch of topics (from the rise of mystical cults, to anti-Catholic prejudices, to a new book studying the impact of the era of the 70’s, esp 1975-1985, which is provocatively entitled, Decade of Nightmares.) He is most known, though, for his groundbreaking and widely-read study of global Christianity called The Next Christendom (now out in paperback) and the brand new hardcover sequel, The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South (both published by Oxford University Press.) These are very, very important books and I am very much looking forward to meeting him.
I thought you’d enjoy seeing the very nifty video clip that the Faith for Thought team has put together than invites people to this conversation about meaningful faith in the university setting. Please call anybody you know near State College, send this little video out, or pray a bit. We hope for a good turnout of students and faculty, hope to select and display the right book titles. I admit to being a bit stressed about the talk– I’ve got hours of this material, and desire to be fruitful in sharing that which will be most motivational and helpful.
In the meantime, Beth & staff are taking books to a PhilipYancey event at the Episcopal Church of the Good Samaritan in Paoli, PA, Friday night, so I am obsessed thinking about that (not to mention the upcoming Texas trip, but I digress…) We announced Yancey’s new book Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference when it came out a month ago and those who have started it are raving. When good friend and former Hearts & Minds man Gordon Carpenter raves, you know it is good!
I will feature, at the Faith for Thought event, the typical books I take to college crowds, stuff on the Christian mind, worldview formation, vocation, calling, the responsibility of taking learning seriously, serving God in academic discipleship, and being engaged in social action. You may know of our annotated bibliography which lists starting books for those interested in integrating faith and learning in different academic and professional fields.
But the item I am most excited about is not exactly a book. It is a quarterly journal, one of our favorites, called Comment. The brand new issue is a special edition for college students (or those going off to college) called Making the Most of College. I am so proud to be in it, with an article (“Learning to Love Good Books”) on why we should read, how reading widely can enhance our knowing and be a life-long skill for on-going, relevant faithfulness. I’m pretty happy with it, and the layout is fabulous. Best, I am in this special collegiate issue with Gideon Strauss, Calvin Seerveld, and a batch of top-notch writers and thinkers that I admire. One essay is on the arts, one on history, one on writing, one on forming friendships…what an honor to be published in such a cool and important venue. It sells for $8.00 and is very, very attractive. (The piece on how to get the most out of studying the arts has some full color reproductions, giving it an extra, rich appeal.) I will be talking this up for a while, I bet, so you might as well consider ordering one now. Know anybody in college? I’ll tell ya, Gideon’s piece on asking big questions is just about the best brief thing I’ve seen on how young adults become deeper and better people, by learning to ask the biggest questions. That he quotes Hearts & Minds favorite The Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior by Steve Garber makes sense and may give you an appreciation of the caliber of this great little magazine.
If you are interested, you can read most of these fine pieces on line at the weekly Comment e-zine . I think you can find most of them archived, and their other stuff is well worth reading, too. In fact, it is one of the weekly ‘zines we get that I always, always read, no matter what the topic. They pick special previously posted pieces and then publish a print copy a few times a year. This one is very attractive, nice to hold and a great resource to offer your younger friends.