Selling books at “The Global Schoolhouse” conference in Lexington MA

Although it wasn’t my main reason for driving to New England, I did enjoy spending some leisurely time walking through Gloucester MA with old CCO alum and good friends Scott & Denise Frame-Harlan and their two lovely kiddos.  They took me to a house once lived in by T.S. Eliot and we looked for the famous rocks of The Dry dove descending Howard.jpgSalvages, of Four Quartets, but it was, alas, too foggy to see, which for some reason seemed right.  They showed me the colorful Catholic church where Thomas Howard, a famous and flamboyant former evangelical writer, was converted to Rome—we have plenty of all of his books, and love several of them, like the exquisite Christ the Tiger, The Splendor of the Ordinary, and Why Evangelical is Not Enough and his books on Tolkien, Lewis or Eliot.  They showed me the very beach where Sebastian Junger, the guy who wrote The Perfect Storm wrote The Perfect Storm.  Nearly every time we turned a corner, or, later, as I drove home, I saw signs of this famous writer or that—-Louis May Alcott, Walden Pond, of course, the real house with seven gables.  I passed near Ipswich (think Updike) and reflected upon the legacy of the first Great Awakening as I neared towns of Edwards.  And had some killer clams and chowder, right from the bay, back in Gloucester, America’s first commercial seaport.

Hearts & Minds was in the great state of Mass, as they call it, working for the excellent in-service conference for Christian school teachers, an event sponsored by Lexington Christian Academy, an excellent, alternative Christian school in that famed revolutionary town.

 Getting to jaw with James Sire (a truly charming and clever gentleman besides How to Read Slowly.jpgbeing a worldview guru and one of our favorite authors, whose many books we stock) and to hear philosopher Peter Kreeft (a prolific apologist, cultural critic and Catholic scholar whose many books we routinely carry), were among the obvious highlights of this year’s event for me.  Nothing can explain the rewards, though, of the biggest thrill—that of of offering good books to thoughtful teachers, knowing that to shape their reading habits is to surely effect a generation of emerging Christian students.  The teachers from all over were eager to talk books, and some told me about innovative and important programs they run in their respective schools.  God bless ’em for breaking the mold of what some think Christian schools are about, and illustrating a wide-as-life view of redemption and a caring commitment to helping students become life-long learners, servants and robust disciples of the Master in our multi-cultural world.

  As you might guess, I really promoted The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness: A Guide for Students by our good friends Don Opitz & Derek Melleby (Brazos; $13.99) as a key book to supplement their work with high school students.  Telling you about that now gives me an excuse to bring it up again—it is the best gift for high school seniors going off to college, you know, and I hope you remember to order some, soon.  (Tell your church, if you can, to consider this is a way to honor your students who are in that college transition year.)  It playfully and smartly writes about worldview and life, about college and classrooms, about learning and living for God, Biblically and with humility and thoughtfulness.  What a great hope for all of our young people! 

At the Lexington conference we heard lectures on science, on inter-faith experiences, on standing for justice in the two-thirds world—-all in open-minded spirit of conviviality, with little controversy or tension. From Calvin College scholar Joel Carpenter, who has co-edited with Gambian scholar Lamin Sanneh the serious and important The Changing Face of Christianity: Africa, the West, and the World (Oxford University Press; $21.99.) we heard about Christians in the global South.(We featured the important work of Philip Jenkins, too, of course.)   Dordt College’s Pro Rege editor, English prof Mary Dengler spoke passionately about the nature of uniquely Christian thinking—she even dared to cite Dutch philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd to remind us of the multi-faceted nature of reality, and the subsequent need for multi-dimensional and interdisciplinary teaching and learning.  I especially enjoyed meeting a fellow central PA new friend–we had not heard of each other, oddly—Michael Evans, a vibrant and young African American speaker who argued for schools to equip their young students to learn to become Kingdom leaders of culture, engaged in the Godly vision of transforming the world through investing in various careers and professional arenas, especially around issues of urban poverty and racial justice. It sounded like a Jubilee conference talk to me!  Way to go Mike!

There were numerous other authors speaking at the LCA Cultivating Inquiry conference.  Former Time magazine journalist David Aikman spoke both about China—you should know his highly regarded and very interesting book  Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power whichdelusion of disbelief.gif is now out in an impressive paperback (Regnery; $16.95) and offered a thoughtful response to the new athists (Dawkins, Harris, et al) which is the theme of his brand new book,The Delusion of Disbelief: Why the New Atheism is a Threat to Your Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness (Tyndale; $16.99.)

Marvin R. Wilson was there, pouring out his heart for Jewish-Christian dialogue (and, yes, Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations.)  Wilson has taught at Gordon College for years, helping his students get involved in the Jewish community, and his book, Our Father Abraham: The Jewish Roots of Christian Faith (Eerdmans; $22.00) is considered by many to be the standard Christian study of the subject.  We now stock his DVD (Jews & Christians: A Journey of Faith)  that was on PBS, a fine and useful study for adult groups. We sell it for $29.99.

Thanks to the hosts at LCA for going to the immense effort of hosting this excellent teaching event—and for hosting me as bookseller.  Thanks to Tim Bogertman for helping out, a man who, if he wasn’t in church work, could easily be a bookseller any d
ay.  And thanks to Hearts & Minds staff, for helping me go on the road, taking our wares to places such as Lexington Christian Academy, in the heart of literary New England.  I couldn’t do any of this without each of them.  May God be honored, and the Kingdom advanced, book by book by book.  Ordering from us, helps all of this happen, too, so I hope you, too, feel a part of it all. 

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Hearts & Minds  234 East Main Street  Dallastown, PA  17313      717.246.3333

4 thoughts on “Selling books at “The Global Schoolhouse” conference in Lexington MA

  1. Dear Byron, Scott is calling your visit the “Byron Unplugged Tour.” This occasion is only the second time we’ve seen you WITHOUT A BOOK TABLE on-site (at least not one in our home), and for those who know you, “seeing Byron relax” is a rare and beautiful thing. To bend your blessed ear for an entire day is an incredible treat.
    Let us be your tour guides any time.
    And yes, those were the best fried clams I’ve had in a year.
    Thanks, thanks, thanks, and I’m glad you got home safely.

  2. They were the best, well, the only, fried clams I’ve had in a year. And the coolest, foggy view.
    For those who may be listening in, Denise’s blog is a must-read for homey, literate reflections on life and writing and family and stuff; I hope she posts about the Calvin Festival of Faith & Writing really soon! Check out her “Vivid Just Like You” blog:

  3. Consider it done. My brief report is on my blog!
    I’d love to write more thoughtfully about the conference, but I’m hurrying toward a writing deadline, and you will see the beautiful slew of advice from Jeffrey Overstreet about colds, cold remedies, what an ugly bear this cold might become…
    Still, if you ask me questions, I will answer.

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