Thanks to email and Facebook friends who’ve wondered where my blog reviews have been lately. I had the great joy and privilege to teach, hawk books, and chill a bit with OCBP again and even shared a class with great pal Derek Melleby, co-author of The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness (my favorite book to give to Christian college students wanting to relate their beliefs about God to their classroom learning.) I was happy to sell a few copies of Jim Wallis’ old Call to Conversion, a book I truly love about how faith is “personal but never private” and Os Guinness’ classic, The Call (which I take to nearly every book display I do, regardless of the topic, it is such a favorite.) Some picked up the classic worldview book, The Transforming Vision by Walsh & Middleton, since they had heard me pushing their Truth Is Stranger Than It Used to Be and the brand new Beyond Homelessness by Walsh & Bouma-Prediger in other settings. These young collegiate leaders are great fun and yet aware of the seriousness of the call to meaningful discipleship and it was good being with them again. Sorry, guys, about turning all of your dinner tables into the portable bookstore. Thanks for your interest in books.
And then, home from NJ, I drove a van full of middle school kids to an event in another part of the state, returning home at 2 am, and then spent a day with my mother at a funeral of an old family friend, a man of great character, kindness and philanthropy. I talked with a few older men who knew my dad about how they balanced their obvious success in their careers and their dedication to community service and fund-raising for organizations they believed in. I wish I could show them books about this, as some good stuff has been written, including excellent books on the “second half” of life shift “from success to significance.” From helping with Middle School-age discovery of God’s grace to collegiate reflections on vocation and calling to retirement-years dreams of “finishing well” it has been an rewarding and yet exhausting week or so…we are grateful for customers who buy books from us, supporting our bookish ministry and on-going effort to be “more than a bookstore.”
Are these travels, our mail-order business and friendships with authors and conspiring with folk like the OCBP activities that could be considered “culture-making”? It is a more complicated question than you might think, and an urgent one, I believe, one that gets to the very heart of everything we are about here at Hearts & Minds. Such a question raises questions of our responsibility as humans, the cultural mandate of Genesis, and meaning of work and leisure in our age.
I’ve been working on a review of a splendid new book by that name, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling by Andy Crouch, published as the lead title in the new IVP catalogue ($20) but haven’t quite polished that particular artifact. But I can’t wait: you have to know that this book is now out, it is spectacularly important and truly wonderful; wonderful for the cogent ideas and the lovely writing, the insight and the charm. I could not put it down, have much to say about it, maybe a few small bones to pick, and an upbeat hope of publicizing it Big Time this fall. Andy may show up at the shop, here, to chat a bit about the book and you will be seeing several good reviews of it in magazines and websites. I’ll say more later, but for now, trust me, please, please—this is a book that if you are a BookNotes reader, if you support H&M, if you like the kind of stuff we promote about cultural reformation and the Christ-honoring social innovations and a Biblical vision for human flourishing, then this is a book you must have. You can get a feel for it at his intriguing website, here. Please spread the word by passing it on. The YouTube promo for the book—yep, that’s culcha for ya—is very, very nice, so take 3 minutes and watch that. (He talks about a coffee shop in it, so you gotta love it!) You can listen to an interview with Andy done by a great blogger over at Good Will Hinton.
If you feel any small yearning to be creative, to start something, to make something, to contribute, this book will inspire you, and help you be assured of God’s good blessings on your endeavors. If you are distressed by the apathy of too many churches, or if you are creeped out by some of the plans of the triumphalist groups mired in culture wars (I think of the grandiose vision of the Christian Right, but I suppose others are similar) then Andy’s wise call—can I call it faithful localism?—for small steps and local activism and human-scale projects will surely reassure you. Culture Making is one of the great books of the decade, and our little Hearts & Minds culture-making mission will be successful insofar as we help get this book on the sales charts and its vision in the conversations of our friends. I don’t write this with irony: let’s make culture by starting book discussion groups using Culture Making.
Culture-Making: Discovering Our Creative Calling
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