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.