John Shore, good books and the call to support real stores…

Well. Welcome to any new blog readers who have been sent our way by the fun and verbose and—gotta love him—very repentant John Shore. John is an author I’ve mentioned on occasion and some of you, who have met us out on the road at conferences or booksellin’ gigs, have maybe heard me read out loud some of his hilarious book of apologetics . We’ve corresponded a bit, and if you’ve followed today’s little tussle in the Christian end of the blog-o-sphere, you will know that I shared my beef with John for his having suggested people buy his book from (well, you know, those big ‘ol internet chain places that give guys like me the willies.) I get frustrated when authors don’t send people to real stores, or at least mention that their books can be found “wherever find books are sold” although I feel badly when, in fact, most stores don’t stock their books.
John then wrote the most lovely and affirming report about our bookstore and my book reviewing efforts and, importantly, the deep connection most good authors have with real bookstores. Author John has spent his fair share of time on the other side of the counter, actually, and has worked as a bookseller. His essay about us at crosswalk, like all his good writing, was energetic and important. And, he talked about us!
So, I feel like I owe him big time. I know he doesn’t expect this, and it feels a bit like some “mutual admiration society” doing this quid pro quo thing. But, for those that read him but have not yet purchased his books, or for those who don’t follow his writing, here is a bit of incentive.
We do really want to thank him for the shout out, compliment him for his righteous concerns about malls and the dumbing down of literature and the quality of writing and the mass-marketing of theology and all the backstory stuff that so many of us care about, and that usually we mean when we talk about supporting the “small-mart revolution” and buying from real, and preferably, local, retailers.
At least in some fields one ought to have a reliable go-to guy. Maybe it can be local, maybe not. A real doc, a trustworthy mechanic, a local produce place. I’m not against internet sales, obviously, and I spend half my day answering bookish email questions, so I know that many don’t have a local bookseller they trust. Perhaps you have a go-to bookseller, a lover of literature who cares about your habits of heart, which, surely, includes the books you do and do not read. Maybe we at Hearts & Minds can serve you on your journey. I hope somebody can, and I am honored to have had Mr. Shore so eagerly recommend us. Thanks to him, and thanks to anybody that cares.
And, so: today’s BookNotes deal.

Let’s help the Penguins book, as somebody on John’s blog put it, “march right along.” It is on an historic, indie Epsicopalian press (Seabury Press), is a smallish hardback that is funnier than all get out, and really is a very thoughtful study of the biggest questions of life. With cool guys like Eric Metaxas—New York City philosopher, biographer of Wilberforce, VeggieTale writer—offering an endorsing blurb on the back, you know it is solid. If you don’t recall, it is alledgedly written by God, and is called (take a deep breath) Penguins, Pain and the Whole Shebang: Why I Do the Things I Do by God, as Told to John Shore. It usually sells for $15, which isn’t bad as you will read this more than once. Like I have, unless your really not humorous at all, you will read it out loud to others.
And, do you know one of Shore’s more recent books, the fabulous book on evangelism? It is called I’m OK—You’re Not (published by NavPress; it usually sells for $12.99.) I wrote about it in an as-of-yet-unpublished monthly book review for the Hearts & Minds website column (don’t ask, but I haven’t gotten any of them up on the site for several month) and said, sincerely, then, and even more so, now, that this author is the real deal. He cares about people, he understands, in his heart and in his mind, that we are to love others. And it seems, from the stories and illustrations, that he spends time with normal people, not in a holy-huddle.
Sharing the great news of Christ’s redeeming love is a calling for us all. It is an aspect of discipleship that is mired in funky expectations, weird theologies, and even weirder practices. It is, though, a splendid and exciting thing to do, to tell others about why you are a follower of Christ, what His death provides, how to find forgiveness and grace and meaning and life. If we are to announce the Kingdom with integrity, it is clear to anybody who has thought about it, that Shore’s insight is central and basic and urgent: we have got to stop turning people off. We certainly have to stop being so smug. We have to live out and model a way of life that is, well, good. We have got to show bridge-building love by being agents of grace. The sub-title nearly says it all, and he unpacks it well. Check it out: I’m Ok–You’re Not: The Message We’re Sending Nonbelievers and Why We Should Stop.

This is a book about not doing evangelism. It is about starting with the Great Commandment and letting others experience God’s love as a way towards the Great Commission. I have read oodles of books on evangelism and there are many I like. This is truly one of them and, I’d bet, it is the one you will enjoy the most, laugh about the most, and shake your head (in agreement or, if you are a fire-breather, in disgust, for his seeming lack of proper religiosity.)
I’d like to think that I am a better person when I read this kind of stuff, and, to be honest, feel more playful, even as a book reviewer. He’s a hard guy not to like.
Thanks to the publishers who take risks doing these kind of little books that aren’t the formulas and cliches that are so often expected in this biz. Thanks to writers like John Shore for being authentic and fun. And thank God for the Spirit’s activity in days like today, where a slight offense brought two brother’s closer together in our joint calling of getting the words right, and getting the Word out.

$10 off

Penguins, Pain & The Whole Shebang
I’m OK—You’re Not
buy both, and get $10 off.
regularly $27.99, now $17.99
Hey, in other words, you are getting the second for $2.99.
Order here.
read@heartsandmindsbooks 717.246.3333.