12 brand new books: Keller, Wright, Stark, Giglio, Tchividjian, a great new debate, and more…

One of the fun things for us about being away–besides meeting so many faithful and friendly customers on the road—is returning to a batch of books that have just been released.  Being with CLS and CCO took us off site for a while.  Coming home to a week’s worth of new titles is like Christmas in October.  The crazy snow makes it feel that way, too, but that is another story.

Here are 12 brand new ones, briefly highlighted.  Notice the 20% off BookNotes special and our handy order form link at the end.

simply jesus.gifSimply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters  N.T. Wright (HarperOne) $24.99  I listened to some old N.T. Wright audio CDs this week and seeing this new book promising to “unleash the full story of Jesus” made me so eager to read more.  I suspect he has said much of this before and it is written in a way to follow up Simply Christian.  He has a way of distilling erudite scholarship, making it understandable and helpful.  As Rowan Williams puts it, it is “yet another of his great gifts to the worldwide church.”  If you haven’t read Wright on Jesus (Following Jesus is a wonderful collection of sermons; Challenging Jesus is a masterful summary of the first three volumes of his magisterial “Christian Origins and the Question of God” series) this would be a great introduction.  By the way, as he says in the forward, there is new material here, too—“twists and turns” that he was unaware of when working on his previous books on Jesus.  This is not a simple adaptation, but fresh, good kerygma.

meaning of marriage.gifThe Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God Tim Keller (Dutton) $25.95  I have not read much of this yet but it is a winner, no doubt.  The footnotes are intriguing, the text nearly beautiful at times, the feel of the attractive hardback very fine.  This originates in a sermon series the Reverend Keller preached in his solid New York congregation although some portions have been co-authored by his wife Kathy.  It is more intellectually substantive than most religious books on marriage and it is surely a deeper look than some might be used to.  But, as always, Keller is a master of speaking wisely into an urbane and sophisticated culture of younger professionals and he is more than willing to speak truth to power.  This is an honest, intellectually-engaging, clear-headed book on how serious Biblical insight could have vast implications for our day-to-day marriage and family relations.  Not in a relationship?  No matter, this is important gospel-centered stuff, well thought through.  A must read.

Jesus-+-Nothing-Everything-Cover-196x300.jpgJesus + Nothing = Everything Tullian Tchividjian (Crossway) $18.99  While we were in the Chicago suburbs at the Christian Legal Society conference last week I drove to Crossway’s offices to snag a few of these, having heard they were just shipping.  The nice stack here on our “new book” release table makes me happy—Billy Graham’s grandson is smart and very cool and an excellent writer. His books strike me as gutsy and real and loaded with grace.  If you picked up his outstanding Unfashionable or the one on Jonah (Surprised by Grace) you’ll know his finely tuned ability to relate faith to vibrant, culturally engaged living, but always out of a gospel-centered life.  The title says it (almost) all, and his ruminations here look very, very helpful.  Steve Brown suggests (well, really, he probably booms) “If you give a book to anybody this year, give this book.  If you yearn for awakening in the church, underline this book and share what you’ve learned.” Very good advice.

flunking sainthood.jpgFlunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor  Jana Riess (Paraclete) $16.99  Riess has edited a bunch of books, reviewed oodles others (and penned the very odd What Would Buffy Do? which was one of the very first vampire-related books I ever read part of.)  This new memoir is fabulous–really, really good on a number of levels. The back cover calls it wry, but I’ve been reading through my advanced copy and it is more than wry, it is hilarious!  And very wise.  It has endorsements by A. J. Jacob (and if you haven’t read The Year of Living Biblically yet, drop everything and send us an order asap.)  Lauren Winner writes of this that is is “the best book on the practices of the spiritual life that I’ve read in a long, long time.”  A vulnerably shared, real story—see the fine print of her mishaps and failed efforts on the top of the cover to get a sense of what it’s like.  Note, too that “sainthood” is misspelled on the cover art.  Ha.  Unless you’ve already arrived (and I suppose some of you have) this book will be like an encouraging companion to keep on keeping on.  It is a blessed joy, helpful and fun.  David Dark calls it “freaking wonderful” and the opening line by Orwell is enough to ponder for a month. I love it!

indescribable illustrated.gifIndescribable: Encountering the Glory of God in the Beauty of the Universe  Louie Giglio & Matt Redman (Cook) $14.99 (paperback) and $24.99 (full color coffee table gift edition)  Many know Giglio’s passionate young adult worship conferences and even more know, now, the often viewed talk (we sell the DVD) where he invited people to an awesome awareness of God’s immense glory by showing slides of deep space (from Hubble telescopes.)  Contemporary worship leader Matt Redman had written about worship, is interested in the awesome hugeness of God, and has a curious interest in science.  The two were great as they collaborated in a moving presentation blending science, stunningly artful super-graphics, and of course the powerful songs.  The much-anticipated book has released based on those presentations.  The gift book is hefty and handsome and the paperback (which still has some b/w outer-space photography) is extraordinary.  Get this on your Christmas wish list, or think about who you can share it with.  A lot of people are fascinated by science, and many need to be reminded of the great goodness of our awesome Creator.  Highly recommended.

Missional-Spirituality-200x300.jpgMissional Spirituality: Embodying God’s Love from the Inside Out  Roger Helland and Leonard Hjalmarson (IVP) $16.00  Wow, all I can say is wow.  I’ve studied the copious footnotes and am delighted at the vast array of fascinating sources, the important books, the astute authors, the edgy social theorists, and solid Bible guys they draw upon.  The book is both stimulating and–I trul
y believe–helpful as an important corrective to an overly pious, inward sort of spirituality.  (And, conversely, an popular rhetoric of being missional that seems too often unhinged from profound spiritual formation and significant church life.)  The authors are a Canadian Baptist and an evangelical Mennonite.  Alan Hirsch wrote a great forward.  Michael Frost declares “This book is a triumph!”  Other rave reviews come from Gordon Smith (whose word I always trust), David Fitch, of Northern Seminary, whose End of Evangelicalism puts its printed finger on a ton of important insights about the shifts within evangelicalism) and the popular missional cheerleader, Reggie McNeal.  This is certainly one of the most important missional books to date.  Kudos to IVP for well written, important and timely insight.

cslegacy.jpgCreating a Spiritual Legacy: How to Share Your Stories, Values, and Wisdom   Daniel Taylor (Brazos Press) $14.99  Leave it to Brazos to turn a typical (and sometimes overly sentimental) practice of scrap-booking into a major opportunity for serious theological reflection.  Well, the book isn’t really about scrapbooks, per se, but it is about how to discover your own spiritual legacy and story.  It helps you learn how to foster a storytelling ethos in your family, church, or organization.  Taylor has previously written a marvelous book on how we over-value certainty and another on the role of stories.  He has a lovely book called Letters to My Children and here he has combined the insights of them all, lovingly creating a philosophy of storytelling which offers insight into how to discern and communicate the central narratives of our own lives.  Endorsements include a fine recommendation by John Wilson (of Books & Culture), the remarkable literature professor, Dale Brown, of the Buechner Institute at King College, campus pastor Ben Patterson (Westmont College) and the always eloquent Calvin Miller.  This is a book like no other and should appeal to many BookNotes friends.  It deserves to be celebrated for its beauty and unique topic and it deserves to be honored for seriously tackling a very, very important side of life to which we rarely give sustained attention.

in_visible_fellowship_cover-200x300.jpgIn Visible Fellowship: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer’s Classic Work Life Together  Jon Walker (Leafwood Publishers) $13.99  You may know that Costly Grace (also by Jon Walker) is one of the finest studies of Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship we’ve yet seen.  It walks us through it and explores in very readable prose just how it might apply to our daily discipleship today.  Thank goodness that Walker has done this new one.  This is one of the only studies (the only one of which I am aware, at least) about Bonny’s great book, Life Together.  With the loud and urgent cry for community so ubiquitous these days, and a hunger in our churches to be more relationally supportive, this helpful guide should be a mega-seller.  If only.  If only we get the word out that Walker is a reliable guide to a true Christian classic.  Please help us spread the word. 

grace effect.gifGrace Effect: How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief Larry Alex Taunton (Nelson) $16.99  There has been a bit of a cottage industry from Christians debating the so-called “new atheists.”  Several are quite good and we stock them all.  This seems to be a different tack, a thoughtful engagement with the debate, but focused on the documented evidences of the implications of the Christian worldview.  “Simply defined, ” he writes, “the ‘grace effect’ is an observable phenomenon–that life is demonstrably better where authentic Christianity flourishes.”  The Grace Effect describes the authors debates with Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins but is anchored in the compelling narrative of a girl named Sasha, a Ukrainian orphan whose life had been shaped by atheistic theorists, and the story of her life’s redemption through the transforming power of God’s grace.  Dr. Olivera Petrovich, a research psychologist at the University of Oxford, says of it, “This highly readable book is a collection of powerful insights into the long-term consequences of spiritual indifference and, above all, a remarkable example of how to conquer it.”   This is a smart book (laced with wonderful quotes from classic literature from Milton to Dostoesvsky to Huxley to Elliott) but the emotional power of the story of Sasah reminds us that this is a very down to Earth, human story, and story that can change lives and the lives of nations.  Here is a short video with the very engaging author telling of a late night dinner with Christopher Hitchens, their trip to the Ukraine to adopt Sasha, and the way the gospel reverberates through lives and cultures.  Do check it out and if you want the book, do come back and buy it from us.

triumph of christianity.gifThe Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World’s
Largest Religion 
Rodney Stark (HarperOne) $27.99  Several different
scholarly titles showed up while we were away and they are all so
interesting.  This, though, deserves special mention, as it is in many
ways a top-shelve, major contribution that will be taken very, very
seriously in the scholarly guilds of religious studies, history and
sociology. Stark has written other major works such as The Rise of
.  He is given rave reviews from popular journals such as
The Christian Century and Christianity Today (who awarded Discovering God, a 2008 book, an Award of Merit.)  Stark is the
Distinguished Professor of the Social Science and co-director of the
Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. Just over 500
pages, some of our customers will know this is a must-read.   

left-right-and-christ.jpgLeft, Right & Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics  Lisa Sharon Harper & D.C. Innes (Russell Media) $22.99  As the election season proceeds I am sure I will revisit this often, drawing on each author’s important points as I write, teach, and talk about a Christian perspectives on politics.  Perhaps it will serve you in such a way as well. As you might guess, this is a co-authored debate-style book, with a Christian who is a committed Democrat and a Christian who is a committed Republican each explaining how their faith and Biblical insights compel them to align themselves (even if always provisionally, as they both insist) towards more-or-less liberal or conservative public policies.   D.C. Innes is a popular professor of political science at The Kings College in New York (and an Orthodox Presbyterian minister) while Ms Harper is an activist for Sojourners in DC who has worked with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. 

Marvin Olasky writes one forward to the LR&C; he is known for his insistence on a stauchly conservative Christian worldview (he writes often for World magazine) and he writes here “If this isn’t a conversation starter for Christians, than nothing else will be.” Jim Wallis of Sojourners has another forward, again noting that this book will certainly stimulate good discussion and deep thinking.  I hope to write more carefully about this book in the future but don’t wait for my input.  You get the point: this is ideal for book clubs, conversation-starters, to tweak our ideas by reading more than just one viewpoint, to give to that person who just doesn’t get your viewpoint.  There are six or seven endorsements on the inside, each by folks I really respect (who hold to pretty diverse socio-political viewpoints, in fact, from Carl Trueman and John Anderson to Jonathan Merritt and Nicole Baker Fulgham. David Gushee says “One might have thought there was nothing new to say in or about this burnt-over disctrict, but in their sharp, yet civil, dialogue Innes and Harper offer provocative and creative new reflections.”   Thanks to Mark Russell for his good work in shepherding this project and for designing such an attractive, clear, fair-minded, interesting, contemporary book.  Here’s a fun video piece they did to capture the usefulness of this vibrant conversation.  Enjoy. 
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