I’ve been wanting to post this piece for months, really, and, more urgently, for weeks. I have wanted our extended family of friends, customers and allies to be reminded that it is that time in the Hearts & Minds liturgical calendar for making pilgrimage back to Pittsburgh for the annual Jubilee conference. As you may know, it is an event that has for 31 years attracted 2000 college students, mostly to learn about and be empowered to envision themselves as actors in God’s Story of cosmic redemption; that is, to play their part as agents of Christ’s reconciling work in the world, especially in the arena of higher education, with an eye to the professional sectors into which college students soon enough take up their places. This perspective, this hope, this passion to get others to think more intentionally in integrated ways about relating faith and culture has become so much a part of us that it is not uncommon for me to talk about “the Jubilee vision” or “that whole Jubilee worldview-transform the world” thing. I hope our bookstore somehow helps makes contribute to that…
If you’ve read my most recent post on the new N.T. Wright book Surprised By Hope (on the implications of the orthodox Christian doctrine of bodily resurrection) you know that one of our animating passions here at the bookstore to is help folks relate faith and life—the Jubilee vision thing—to sell books that are intellectually stimulating and culturally relevant, that are deeply Christian without being, well, weird. The campus ministry organization that we work with in doing Jubilee, the CCO, seems to get it just right. They together this event to help students think Christianly about their vocations and callings, to be challenged to make steps towards what Derek Melleby & Don Optiz have called “the outrageous idea of academic faithfulness.” (Indeed, the website organization that supplements their book, www.academicfaithfulness.com, has sponsored an college paper contest, and is giving out Hearts & Minds gift certificates as prizes to students who show insight in crafting a uniquely Christian paper, developing a keen sort of insight in their particular major.)
As students (or the adults who watch it all happen) learn to think about their studies in new (Holy Spirited) ways, they can be shaped towards new perspectives and practices in their various occupations that will set them apart as servant leaders, folks who will make an impact. Jubilee has workshops and conversation experiences and films and concerts and speakers on worldview formation, Biblical studies, philosophy, education, literature and the arts, on politics and business and sports and racial justice, or resisting contemporary slavery and on resisting consumeristic shopping style; on contributing to the redemption of culture and being “salt & light” in wherever sphere or arena it is God’s good pleasure to use you. It is on prayer and evangelism and doing brave social action for human rights and creation-care and…and…and….
Jubilee keynote speakers this year include Charles Colson and Donald Miller, both heroes of mine in many ways. Colson, you’ll recall, went from early 70s Nixon hatchet-man to evangelical spokesperson, to tireless prison reformer to worldviewish cultural critic. Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz and other bohemian memoirs, has galvanized a generation for good writing about good faith, sharing his honest thoughts about God and integrity and wonder. (It is remarkable how his books have become so popular; they are even on display at airport terminals, and there is a one-person play out doing Blue Like Jazz live. If you don’t know his books, you should. The audio CD, by the way, is fabulous! Go here to read his brief sense of indebtedness to Anne Lamott, even though his experience is significantly different than hers.) I’ve met Kelly Monroe Kullberg of Veritas Forum before and I’m thrilled that she, too, will be doing a mainstage presentation; her story of witnessing to Christian truth in the world of university life—Searching for God Beyond Harvard tells the riveting story of that peculiar mission field—will be ideal for these young collegiates. Here is the Veritas Forum website; check out the video clip!
We, of course, will have miles of isles of books. It is the largest book display we do all year, and we’ve been ordering and pulling and packing for days and days. I’ve worn gloves some this year, since our furnace died, and today we’ve met with guys with boiler-room workman coveralls and intricate knowledge about bleeding radiators and re-routing pipes and efficiency rates and financing. Several of our staff have loved ones who are ill, and you know we routinely ask for prayers for our own families strength and stamina. Beth’s Lyme disease continues to keep her pained, but she is measuring stuff for the furnace guys and making signs to illuminate the display of the books of the author’s who will be at Jubilee.
Check here to see the list of speakers—click through ’em all, although many are not famous; they are just solid Christain leaders who have worked hard to have integrity in their job or calling or mission. Some, though, are important authors—see Michael Gerson (formerly of the White House) and Ronald Sider; Chad Thompson and Dorothy Chappell (whose edited book Not Just Science, has integrated Christian views of everything from engineering to math, pharmacy to physics, astronomy to computer science.); Gregory Wolfe of Image journal (and a Square Halo author!) and Matthew Sleeth (his book Serve the Lord, Save the Planet is a gem; his teenage daughter will be there, too, and her book for younger teens is coming soon—It’s Easy Being Green.) Abbie Smith is back this year (Can You Keep Your Faith in College?) as is Lowrie McCown (who has the best book on sports and Christian coaching that there is.) Authors Jim Skillen and David Batstone, Professor John Cooper of Calvin Seminary and John Seel of Walden Media, are all writers whose stuff we truly admire. Mike Schutt (whose book Redeeming Law is the top book of its kind and a must-read for attorneys) will do a workshop for law and pre-law students; Dr. James Judge, author of Closest of Strangers, will speak about medicine (and tell of his recent trip to Africa, doing AIDS work there.) Jena Lee of Blood:Water Mission will be there, and leaders from IJM and BFW will present. I will do a brief interview on stage with David Kinnaman, the new director at the Barna Group, about his book UnChristian (that we blogged about here when it came out last year.)
There will be surprises, too–a forum of some thoughtful students who have started newspapers at Ivy League schools (and where is Rory Gilmor
e, you might ask?) Derek Webb and his wife Sandra McCraken will be singing, and the amazing Philly hip-hop band CrossMovement will preform. There is a custom-made video interview with former Pittsburgh (and now, best-selling author) Colt’s coach, Tony Dungy; he loves Pittsburgh, and is very articulate about his own faith journey. The football fans in the crowd are going to go bonkers to see this!
And did I say that we will be selling books? My, my, my. Do check out the website, and pray for the speakers, and our work, our bookselling, and, mostly for the glory of God, that Christ might be known and honored in significant ways amidst this new generation of Christian thinkers, cultural reformers, and social activists. May the shalom of God’s Kingdom take root in their lives, and in our world. And may God bless the CCO staff when it is all done, with the promise of Leviticus 25, that Jesus preached from in his very first sermon (Luke 4): Jubilee freedom, rest, justice and shalom. Aaaaaahhhhhh. It’s that Jubilee vision thing.