A few days ago we offered here a deal with included a free copy of the new Richard Mouw book, his collection of short essays, gathered under the title Praying At Burger King. I think the book needs a subtitle, but how to say it? You know in the 1700’s book titles where a mile long (just look inside the cover flap of William Wilberforce’s Real Christianity and get a load of that.) So, how about “Essays by the kind and brilliant Richard Mouw where he, drawing upon his neo-Calvinist roots, but with ecumenical sensibilities, delightfully, and for our profit, shows what a Christian worldview really looks like in writings on everything from the glorious details of Christian doctrine to how to think about Santa Clause, to how to treat farm animals (and yes, one of the best pieces really is called When Chickens Strut Their Stuff“? No? How about: “Living faithfully in God’s world, in the complex details of everyday life, written thoughtfully and graciously in ways that will really make you smile”? Or, how about “Even though this is a really weird cover, the book is really, really, good, trust me.”? I don’t know why the publishers didn’t work a little harder to make this look like the extraordinary collection it is, with a compelling subtitle Any one of these meditations could be fodder for thoughtful reflection, even to be read as a daily devotional. Having them around is a great resource, and I’ve already found myself telling people about any number of them.
Dr. Mouw is a scholar that I’ve respected for decades. (Click here for a listing and description of his books, but please come back to finish my post!) One of the reasons is because he was one of the first Dutch Calvinist philosophers who showed nterest in the Mennonite tradition, knew the radical young evangelicals who formed what later became known as Sojourners and interacted with the work of activist theologians like William Stringfellow. In fact, you can read here, in his Mouw’s Musings blog, a beautiful reflection which mentions his dialogues with John Howard Yoder. More to the point, though, this wonderful brief posting (which I really hope you read), illustrates some of what he will be talking about at the Abraham Kuyper lectures at Princeton Seminary this weekend. (Ahh, it breaks my heart not to be there, with friends like Gideon Strauss and Ron Sider and Al Wolters lined up as respondents to Mouw’s call for full-orbed faith in the tradition of the great Dutch public theologian and statesman.) Mouw writes in his blog post, “Calvinism and Sewage” of how some Mennonite townspeople who held small elected offices in their township, asked him to address them on how his Calvinist heritage could help them be more informed as Christian civic leaders. They felt like the anti-institutional, and finally, anti-cultural tone of much of what they heard at their church didn’t equip them to think well about daily service of this sort. Mouw is candid (not proud) of the best of his Reformed heritage and yet not mean at all, and often very enthusiastic about insights from other traditions. And, of course, to make his point, Mouw tells the story I often tell, of Calvin’s work on Geneva’s sewer systems even as he was writing his magisterial theological work. Read Richard on it, and pray for his lectures this weekend at Princeton.
While I’m on the free book kick, here is a link to some of his posts, a few of which can be found in Praying at Burger King. Browse around here at his archive from beliefnet for a few minutes and I trust you fill find why I find his short reflections so appealing, and why we are eager to promote this little book.
And, lastly, while I am on this theme which I introduced by telling you about Vanhoozer’s book on cultural exegesis, Everyday Theology I’ve been itching all day to get time to tell you about the marvelous new book by Dick Staub. It is called (and this one does have a sub-title) The Culturally-Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite (Jossey-Bass; $21.95.) Those who attended the spectacular arts conference in NYC last month (IAM) heard Staub interview the architect who is redesigning the WTC as well as his interview of world famous painter Mako Fujimura, and his conversations with Karen Goodwin, who brought Les Mis to Broadway. That these thoughtful and culturally-engaged Christian folks are making a difference is evident. Staub chronicles this sort of work, and the theological vision beneath it, and celebrates God’s work these days in this time of renewal. That he invites us all to deepen our faith in ways that will help produce a generation who can be artistic salt and light is thrilling, and is exactly what needs to be said. With a forward by N.T. Wright, and wonderfully mature and thoughtful and surprising leads and excurcions, this books moves us out of the less than adequate ideas and impulses that the church has produced, and calls us to more faithful, relevant and lasting forms of witness and mission. I will surely speak more of this very useful book soon. I’ve had an advanced reading copy for a while, but didn’t want to say anything until it arrived and I knew I could actually sell it. It is now here, and we are running a special.
So, a blog special, again. Buy Staub for $2 off the regular price AND, get Mouw free. Although Richard Mouw’s work stands on its own and is a wonderfully enjoyable and spiritually enriching short collection, it would be perfect to read in tandem with something like The Culturally Savvy Christian. We package them together, and you save $12.00. As you can see, I want to generate interest in this stuff. I am sure it is that important. Thanks for caring, for showing interest in what has be so influential to us, and for being a part of our efforts here at Hearts & Minds. We are grateful.
The Culturally Savvy Christian
Praying at Burger King
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