Seven Great New Releases

I’m feeling a little bad about the blog—it seems the feed that tells you that we’ve posted a new review isn’t working real well.  I know some of you have had issues with our subscription service.  Hang in there, and keep checking back, even if nothing shows in your inbox as it should if you’ve subscribed….please know of our appreciation.  Further, I’m feeling badly since I’m swamped these days (more on that later) and don’t have enough time to tell you about the amazing stuff that keeps coming out.  Maybe God put me in this work so I can be encouraged nearly every day, as new books, DVDs and music come out.  We really are excited about the very good new things we show off in the shop.

So, here, too quickly, are seven (eight if you count the study guide) new items we’d love to wax on about.  I’ll try to keep it brief.

open table.jpgThe Open Table: An Invitation to Know God DVD and Participants Guide  Donald Miller  (Nelson;  DVD, $39.99 and guidebook $9.99) Yes, the Blue Like Jazz man is back, doing a discussion guide which is a tool to invite ordinary folks, seekers, the unchurched or anybody else who agrees to sit through some very moving testimonials on this DVD curriculum.  Honest, forthright, gut-wrenching, these interviews are with people (some of whom had appeared in Miller’s books) who tell about their journey to faith.  The workbook has readings for each day, and this is more than enough for good conversations, maybe over a meal, an open table, inviting good questions and honest talk.  God can show up and lives can be touched deeply as we think through these important things and I think the workbook itself is useful.  The narratives of these folks are very helpful, though.  There are five units:  Is there God?  Is the world as it should be?  Can God show up?  Is Jesus the way to God?  Can we follow Christ?  Fabulous.

taize.jpgA Community Called Taize: A Story of Prayer, Worship and Reconciliation  Jason Brian Santos (IVP; $15.00)  We’ve raved about nearly everything in the “formatio” line of this evangelical publisher, and this memoir of a journey to Taize is stunning.  (The author, now a PhD. candidate at Princeton Theological Seminary, arrived the day Brother Roger was murdered.)  This is as close to getting there as most of us will ever experience, and it is well, well worth the read.  Forward by Desmond Tutu.  Brother John of Taize has a brief endorsement included, indicating the community’s support for this report.  Very nice.

Missional Renaissance: Changing tghe Scorecard for the Churchmissional renaissance.jpg  Reggie McNeal (Jossey-Bass; $24.95.)  With blurbs from Alan Hirsch, Victor Pentz,  Neil Cole, Leonard Sweet and other gurus of contemporary thinking of the missional parish, this looks like it could be his best, yet.  I don’t want to make it sound boring, but it offers a metric by which we can asses the vitality of this whole matter of being missional.  The Leadership Network Publications books are all interesting, full of stories, unique challenges, and perhaps a bit overly optimistic.  This isn’t dry scholarship, or heavy theology, but a cry out from the deck…

sabbath.jpgSabbath  Dan Allender  (Nelson; $17.99)  I  heartily recommend that  you read anything that Dr. Allender writes.  It is as simply as that—he is a fascinating, caring, innovative and solid guy.  This new one, the third in the Ancient Practices series, though, is remarkable; just when I thought everything that could be said about sabbath keeping has been said, this precious writer daringly offers new vistas, new meanings, new angles on these ancient ecumenical practices….He explores, particularly,  sensual glory and beauty, ritual, communal feasting and playfulness.  I know I have to read this.  This is the series that began with Brian McLaren’s delightful and important Finding Our Way Again and the beautiful and compelling In Constant Prayer by Robert Benson.  (I mentioned them here.)

fasting.jpgFasting  Scot McKnight (Nelson; $17.99)  The other new one in this great Ancient Practices series, any new book by Biblical scholar and blogger and teacher S McK is worth celebrating.  How does such a scholar find the ability to write so clearly and with such inspiration?   I’ve only read the first brief section “A montage of Christian voices on fasting” introduces us to a point made by King David, Isaiah, the early Christian church fathers,  John Calvin, Andrew Murray and a Benedictine monk named Adalbert De Vogue, each with a certain insight.  He cites contemporary writer Dallas Willard and Baptist preacher John Piper and then summarizes how this practice taps into God’s grace, and I’m hooked.  Amy Frykholm says “Fasting is about three things: attentiveness, compassion and freedom.”

The NRSV  Wesley Study Bible
  senior editors Joel Green & William Willimon (Abingdon; $49.95.) It is a great gift that so many scholars, writers and pastors from across the Weslyan world have come together on this remarkable project.  (Where else have Nazarenes and Unitedwesley study bible.gif Methodists, Free Methodists and Salvation Army guys, Pentecostals and liberation theologians all worked to bring their gifts to enhance Christian discipleship?)  I have skimmed through some of the notes—and they truly are done by some of the best Biblical scholars around such as Joel Green, Ben Witherington, Bruce Birch and Maxie Dunnam, Amy Oden and Howard Snyder.  There are an array of multicultural, international voices, and some working pastors.  There are, true to Wesley’s vision, practical application teachings, and they are often rooted in the best of classical Christian thinking.  This is a wonderful study Bible, thoughtful, a nice typeface, in a very handsome green and brown duo-tone.  On the box it says “Love God with a warmed heart.  Serve God with active hands.”  Glad to see it in the New Rev
ised Standard Version!

love like that.jpgLove Like That Pierce Pettis (Compass Records; $17.98.) How many years has it been since a new Pettis release? A lot of us have been waiting eagerly…  This singer songwriter is among our favorites, gentle, funny, clever, and sometimes incredibly powerful, with his rich and booming voice thrashing on his acoustic.  Yes, he starts the album, as is his custom, with a cover of an old Mark Heard tune. We got the new Springsteen in the store the same day, and I opened this one first.  Perhaps I will review it in earnest later;  there are amazingly good songs here, from a true poet, often with a Southern voice, writing about life and times, faith and pain, joys and goodbyes.

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One thought on “Seven Great New Releases

  1. Hey Byron,
    I’d love to hear more about The Open Table. I asked Amy about it when I was in the store, but she had not yet seen it.
    It looks interesting, but is there something you could compare it to? I mean, is it remotely comparable to something like the Trouble with Paris or The Gods Aren’t Angry? or something like that?

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