It is after 3 am, and it has been a hard day in many ways. I won’t renumerate the ways here.
Yet, despite a hefty speaking engagement set for tomorrow morning—and more books to set up, first—I just have to tell you about two new items that we got in the store today. They have brought me joy and some hope, even amidst my goofy mood.
Brian McLaren’s long-awaiting new book arrived, a bit earlier than I had expected. It is called Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crisis and a Revolution of Hope (Word; $21.99.) I have been carrying around a beat-up early draft for a while, now, and have been itching to write about it, and now, the time has come, and I don’t have time or energy. Still, this my not a sleep-deprived rant, but a well-considered evaluation: this really, really, is a very, very important book. Brian (or the publisher, at least) has billed it as a sequel to the very good The Secret Message of Jesus, which was a great book about the Kingdom of God. I would highly recommend reading that, but EMC would still be useful and inspiring and informative for many of our readers, even if you passed on the Jesus book. It may be his most complex book, yet, and will stretch readers into some important new territory. Good.
Everything Must Change starts, as many of Brian’s books do, with some casual and, I find, charmingly honest statements about himself, how the book came to be, and inviting the reader to either agree or not. He says that it may seem presumptious, but he has long had two big questions—very big questions—that have burned within him. Since I gave a talk tonight with an amazing group of 30 some college students on 1 Chronicals 12:32 (look it up, if you have to) and talked about Barth’s famous quip about “reading the Bible with the newspaper in the other hand” Brian’s two big questions surely resonate. He asks, firstly, what is the biggest problem in the world? And, next, what does Jesus have to do with that? Not a bad way to drawn this reader in. I hope you fall for it, too.
I don’t think McLaren would mind if I note here (my lack of sleep may be causing a lowering of inhabitions) that we sent him a manuscript that a friend of mine co-wrote, back before it was published. It was Hope For Troubled Times: A New Vision for Confronting Global Crisis by Bob Goudzewaard, Mark VanderVennen, David Van Heemst (See the April book review column over at the website for some more on that one!) I’m excited to note that Brian cites it several times, and says some very nice things about it. So, if you are a Bob Goudzewaard fan, as some BookNotes readers must surely are, know that his imprint is on McLaren’s heart and mind. Brian is not new to this struggle of living out Kingdom faithfulness in a complicated and impoverished world. His affliation with the Call to Renewal–and his own activism in creation care, explained in even his earliest books—give him the right to speak authoritatively on this global stuff. We will write more about it later, but for now, consider ordering it, or at least saying a pray of thanksgiving for one more contribution of deep faithfulness, as I described in my last posting. Things are changing, as church folk connect the dots, live into the promises of God, and dare to dream the biggest dreams. As McLaren puts it, we join a revolution of hope.
The new David Crowder Band CD released today as well. I’ve listened to it for days, now, and, as I told my wife, while up late packing books last night, it “brought me to my knees.” His simple addition of a brief bridge in O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing that there are, “few words that last” and that there is “one great love–Jesus” just made me weep. The second to last cut is called Remedy and it is a splendid, slightly nuanced but not obscure telling of the tale of redemption. Remedy. A good way to say it, eh?
The last song could be the sweet soundtrack to your reading of Brian’s new book. It is called Surely We Can Change and it calls us to experience change, to be change, to realize that the whole world is going to change; that is, it is a song about hope–modest hope, on one hand (“surely we can change, something”) and grand, eschatological hope, as well. (Yes, Crowder, unlike most CCM stars, knows what that word means.) My description doesn’t do it justice—it is a powerfully poetic song, an acoustically driven quiet tune, with a very, very compelling lyric. Other songs are by turn rowdy, electronica, very contemporary. He is a thoughtful writer, a clever lyricist, has a strong and wholistic passion. The last two songs are worth the price of the whole disc. Highly recommended.
Byron, you are such a good fit with Fuller’s ethos–somewhat Reformed theologically, with a social conscience. I love reading your stuff. I’m not too fond of Brian McLaren, but now I’ll have to read his book. And, I love David Crowder. I remembering hearing him in a seminar at the Ivy Jungle conference in Dallas several years ago [the one you missed, for your anniversary, I believe.] He said his roommate at Baylor came in while he was listening to Christian worship music and something like “What kind of bad art is that?”, and he had to throw them away and start writing more creatively.
Byron, through the years I have enjoyed and have been challenged by your reviews of the many books you have read. In all of my reading of your Blog notes I do not recall you ever reviewing a book where you felt that the author just flat missed it or was intentionally or otherwise promoting some aberrant form of theology. Brian’s work’s have become, for me, less enjoyable as it seems to me that he sets up straw men and then slays them with great aplomb.However, I do enjoy your many excellent reviews, and I have found some great books that I might never have come across if you had not put the spotlight on them. Thanks.
Bill,You aren’t the first to say this about me; I figure there are so many good or interesting or plausible books out there to commend, that I don’t want to waste too much of my limited time complaining. However, I’ve got a doosey in the pipeline, that I’m pretty irked about…When I did the monthly columns I had more space to unfold stuff, and came down hard on the bad (evangelical) theology of Elderidge (my most talked about column ever!) and, of course, on the terribly bad (liberal) theology of Marcus Borg, say. I complain a lot, around here, and have to watch my cynicism about bad books, from the various sides of the faith continuums…and, those that aren’t bad, per se, but just inane, which may be worse…I might say a few critical things about Brian’s book, in fact, but my goal is to sell them, and then hope readers, in conversations with others, and maybe even here, might discern together what they think. If I don’t sell a few more books each week, we sometimes worry (even after 25 years) how long we can keep this up. So I have to use the space to recommend and promote stuff, whenever we can.Still, as I say, I’ll try to talk folks out of some stuff soon enough. Mostly just to get it off my chest…Thanks so much for your fair and kindly reponse.Howard: what about B McL do you not care for?? If you don’t care to write here, maybe we can talk at I.J. later this fall…Thanks,Byron
These articles are fantastic; the information you show us is interesting for everybody and is really good written. ItÃ•s just great!! Do you want to know something more? Read it…:Great investment opportunity at best western jaco beach, best western jaco beach resort ,beach front hotel jaco puntarenas. Visit us for more info at: http://www.jaco-bay.com/
Byron, it occurs to me I may have not been entirely fair. I read your articles and reviews but I have never ordered a book. Forgive me. I am an equal opportunity purchaser of books from our own bookstore here at our church as well as Barnes and Noble and on occassion Amazon. So I think going forward I will fold you into my purchasing circle, especially for those books that I certainly would have never heard about if it were not for you. Oh by the way, I think I actually came across your website becasue of a friend of mine, Bob Burns who may be a friend of yours, or not.I trust you will sell many books, no doubt you are influencing many with the reviews.Bill
I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t agree with you more about BrianÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s new book. The concept of stopping the suicide machine is stuck in my head. BrianÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s relentless pursuit of JesusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ answers to the greatest crises of our day compels me also to look to Jesus. Some people spend too much time pointing out BrianÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s flaws and spend too little time looking with him to the hope we have in Jesus. Each new book he writes continues to challenge and draw me closer to God and His Kingdom.
And Byron, I am with you on the new David Crowder CD too! I thought it would be fun to make my dream soundtrack to Everything Must Change (after all Brian McLaren is making his own : ) ). It would be fun to see what songs others would choose for their soundtrack too. Here is my mix:
1. Pig, by David Crowder Band (Live in Boston Soundtrack is my favorite)
2. What About Them, John Reuben (Boy Vs. the Cynic)*
3. Waiting On the World to Change, John Mayer (Continuum)
4. Nuisance, John Reuben (Boy Vs. the Cynic)
5. Boy Vs. the Cynic, John Reuben (Boy Vs. the Cynic)
6. Share in the Blame, CaedmonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Call (Overdressed)
7. King and a Kingdom, Derek Webb (Zero version is my favorite)
8. Safe, Justin McRoberts (Grace Must WoundÃ¢â‚¬Â¦)#
9. Surely We Can Change, David Crowder Band (Remedy)
10. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve Been Wrong, The Elms (The Chess Hotel)
11. This Too Shall Be Made Right, Derek Webb (The Ringing Bell)
12. Alrightokuhhuhamen, Rich Mullins (Songs)+
*Even if you are not a fan of hip hopÃ¢â‚¬Â¦give this whole album a listen. It will make you think, it will make you hurt, then it will give you hope!
#If you havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t picked up this album, give it a chanceÃ¢â‚¬Â¦it is a great album as well.
+Songs about hope always have to include Rich!
THANKS. This is so, so cool. You should post it over at the Hearts & Minds group at FaceBook. I told them about your good list. I should think about such a list….gotta go pack up some books, though. (We are setting up a large display for pastors of small churches. It is a great group of hard-working folks, in often difficult situations, who made the most of their locale and small town vibe. But for Beth & I to get there is gonna take some work. Later.)