I’ve been reading the fabulously interesting and very informative travelogue through important Christian sites in Europe called In Search of a Deep Faith: A Pilgrimage into the Beauty, Goodness and Heart of Christianity (IVP; $17.00) by Jim Belcher, and I am not ready to write about it yet. Some of its profundity is still sinking in and it deserves more than a quick shout out; it is one of the handful of best books of the year. For those who have asked, it is indeed a great book, and his ruminations on visiting (with his wife and children) the locales of the authors of books that once shaped his life are really helpful. What a way to be introduced to (or re-reminded of) Cramner and The Book of Common Prayer, Sheldon Vanauken (A Severe Mercy), Lewis, Bonhoeffer, Andre Trocme, and more. This is in many ways my kind of book, and I trust Belcher a lot, as a thinker, a writer, a person. I will be writing about it more, soon.
For now, I can’t not tell you about at least some of the other new titles we’ve gotten into the shop and onto our shelves the last week or so. It is exciting — such good books! So here’s a quickie list of 12 + 1 (a “baker’s dozen” you know.) While some other places are pushing the new Joel Olsteen or other superstars promising prosperity (or the latest mega-seller slasher novel or fad diet or downloadable thingie) we’ve got some mature, thoughtful, wonderfully-created books that may not be on the bestsellers list. But these are real books; not mere products, units moved, but true books by real authors. They are fun to describe, good to know about, and should be considered among us. Most would make good choices for your next small group or book club or adult ed class. All are 20% off (except where noted –the first two are 30% off!)
We’ll list the regular retail prices, but we’ll discount them for you when you place an order. Hope you enjoy hearing about these as much as we enjoy heralding them. Good books matter.
Paul and the Faithfulness of God N.T. Wright (Fortress) $89.00 Yes, this is the publishing event of the year, the long-awaited major work on Paul by what I believe is the most important Bible scholar (and certainly one of the most important Christian leaders) on the planet. Wright has many books for non-specialists and you know we recommend them, always. (Not least his latest on the Psalms which I reviewed here.) His magisterial “Christian Origins” set, however, is exceptionally meaty, and this fourth installment is itself a two-volume paperback (over 1700 pages!) We are selling this at 30% off to make it more affordable.
Pauline Perspectives: Essays on Paul, 1978 – 2013 N.T. Wright (Fortress) $69.00 This is a major release in its own right, a supplemental volume to the previously listed one, a collection of essays, articles, talks and studies, some of which have never been in print before (others were in anthologies compiled by other scholars or in rare scholarly journals.) I’ve read a few of these and this is a volume worth having! Again, we are offering this at an extra discounted price of 30% off.
The Story of God Bible Commentary: Sermon on the Mount Scott McKnight (Zondervan) $29.99 Scott McKnight and Tremper Longman III are the general editors of this very interesting new series — this is the second one so far (Philippians by Lyne Cohick released not long ago) — which offers not only careful exegesis of the given Biblical texts, but attempts to place the Bible book in the bigger picture of the unfolding Scriptural story, the story of God’s redemptive plan for the planet, and moving us towards application. These are no dry old-school commentaries. Each Biblical passage is explored in three easy-to-use sections: “Listen to the Story,” “Explain the Story,” and “Live the Story.” John Ortberg says “it makes the text sing and helps us hear the story afresh.” I am very interested in this method and approach; and who wouldn’t like to read what McKnight says about the Sermon on the Mount? This is very, very useful.
Holy Luck Eugene H. Peterson (Eerdmans) $12.00 Imagine a small, square sized paperback with handsome french flaps, less than a hundred pages, the kind of book you just want to hold, to behold, one you read slowly, carefully — sometimes with joy and vigor, or with meditative pondering. This is the first-ever collection of the poems of pastor Peterson. A few of us have been very honored to have seen a few of these over the years. Others of us have heard of them, or seen the rare one in Christian Century or somewhere. Here, finally: seventy poems, offered in three sections. The portion called “Holy Luck” includes poems arising out of the Beatitudes. “The Rustling Grass” section includes poems opening up Kingdom realities through particular created things and “Smooth Stones” offer occasional poems about discovering significance in life’s details encountered while following Jesus. Enjoy these as the artful wordplay they are, but know that they are also well-suited for devotional use, could be used in classes or workshops, maybe even in sermons. Highly recommended.
Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank about Faith edited by Erin Lane and Enuma Okoro (White Cloud Press) $16.95 This has gotten some nice buzz on the internet, but being from a small indie press, you may not have heard of it. We are thrilled to stock it as it is the kind of book that many will enjoy, many will be nodding their heads in agreement (or rubbing their eyes in astonishment.) It makes for very moving reading, and it is good to hear folks as they “speak for themselves.” (The publisher has a few others in this series, with Muslim men and women, each given a platform to tell their own stories.) There are all kinds of women here, from various Christian traditions (mainline, Catholic, Orthodox, evangelical, Quaker, Pentecostal, etc.) and various races and ethnicities and social backgrounds. You may know co-editor Enuma Okoro, whose Reluctant Pilgrim memoir we touted and whose work with Shane Claiborne on the Common Prayer project has been so important. We’ve got a number of friends who are in here, and others whose work we know, women whose writing has been a blessing and challenge. From Julie Clawson to Amy Julia Becker, Rachel Marie Stone to Andre Palpant Dilley, there are a number of excellent young writers whose work we so appreciate. (I just sent out on facebook the other day a powerful piece on breast cancer and the color pink by Sarah Thebarge. She is the author of Invisible Girls, and she is in here, too.) Others here are new to us, and some are very, very good writers. These essays are candid, speaking of everything from menstruation to church leadership, from sex to spirituality. Jenny Hwang Yang (author of the very good book on immigration, Welcoming the Stranger) writes about “Being a Voice for the Stranger” and Rev. Rebecca Clark has a chapter called “The Pastor Has Breasts.” Carol Howard Merritt is here, as is Amy Frykholm, two writers whose names you might know. We are most happy, though, that a long-time friend, with college-era connections to the CCO, Tara Woodard-Lehman, has a wonderful, wonderful chapter. When she talks about her Western Pennsylvania town, I know exactly what she is talking about, and she and I have chatted in that very town so many years ago. Tara is a vibrant Presbyterian pastor in Princeton, and her very well-told journey, like all those told in this fascinating anthology, is essentially testimony. God is alive and well, despite all, in and through these sisters in faith. It is frank, it is at times painful, and the mix of styles and traditions and perspectives might take your breath away. I hope so. It’s that kind of book.
The Prodigal: A Ragamuffin Story Brennan Manning & Greg Garrett (Zondervan) $15.99 Speaking of publishing events and much-anticipated books, this is the novel that dear Brennan Manning was working on at the time of his death earlier this year. A contemporary, powerful retelling of the Prodigal Son parable, it is his last work, his last words, and we should be very grateful that the very good writer Greg Garrett was commissioned to finish it with and for him. Those of us who had the privilege of meeting Brennan will never forget him. His extraordinary books such as Ragamuffin Gospel (and its brilliant sequel, Ruthless Trust) The Signature of Jesus or Abba’s Child know that he was a man in need of grace, who fiercely and tenderly helped us all realize that we are the beloved of God. What a story this will be, about forgiveness and transformation. There is a new Ragamuffin Study Bible, too with “meditations for the beat up and bedraggled, bet up and brokenhearted” — with that cool red door on it — that is laden with quotes and insights from Fr. Manning.
Luminous: Living the Presence and Power of Jesus T. David Beck (IVP/formatio) $16.00 I love Mark Scandrette’s blurb, “Suggest the dangerously bright possibility that we can be tuned into and turned on by the same light that illuminates the whole universe with the love of God.” Many of us have been drawn to — and get a lot of milage when speaking — about the classic Practicing the Presence of God. I hear Beck is like a modern-day Brother Lawrence, who has lived well with God in the messy details of life. In this upcoming season of reflecting on the incarnation, this book could be a perfect companion. That it is on the IVP imprint “formatio” is a great indication of the quality of the writing. I can’t wait to read this myself, and I’m sure you will find it to be an exceptional book. Why not get one for your small group, or a prayer partner?
Yes, And… Daily Meditations Fr. Richard Rohr (Franciscan Media) $24.99 There have been other daily devotionals by the esteemed priest and they have been good. We love this writer who has such a knack for wedding the journey inward and the journey outward, the contemplative and the activist strains of Christian discipleship. This one, though, draws from all of his previous works (including some recorded lectures), and is arranged in an intentional and thoughtful way. It is a big, sturdy hardback and has a year’s worth of reflections. Includes an impressive forward by Protestant David Benner, which is nice to see.
A Guide to Prayer for All Who Walk with God Rueben Jobs (The Upper Room) $32.00 You hopefully know his other best selling devotional guides that are arranged with liturgical rhythms, offering daily Scripture, prayers, and carefully selected excerpts of meditative readings for each day, arranged around weekly themes. There is the red one, the blue one, and the green one. This one is in a richly handsome black leather — all new, but arranged just like the others.
Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair Anne Lamott (Riverhead) $17.95 One advanced reader said this is the best thing she’s written in years. She ruminates on stuff like this: “Where is the meaning in the meteoric passage of time, the speed in which our lives are spent? Where is meaning in the pits? In the suffering? I think these questions are worth asking.” Or, “what do we do when life lurches out of balance?” She is a good writer, a compassionate one, and very, very interesting. Brief, nicely printed (with colored ink) it would make a great little gift for someone who wants allusive, funny, and candid memoir and essay.
iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives Craig Detweiler (Brazos) $17.99 Yes, there is a whole chapter on amazon, and yes I tweeted a cryptic comment last week about how dumb a line or two were, and how I disapproved. And I’m still mad about it. But, still, Detweiler is a really good guy, this is a very up-to-date and truly interesting read, and he offers important ways to “interact with major symbols, or iGods, of our distracted age to investigate the impact of the technologies and cultural phenomena that drive us.” Heaven knows we need more serious “sons and daughters of Issachar (I Chronicles 12:32) that “understand the times” and help us think critically about what is going on in our day and age. There are great blurbs, too — Q Schultze says it is a “wonderfully engaging romp…a splendid contribution.” Craig’s old colleague at Fuller, Robert Johnston. says that he is “one of the best at interlacing theology and popular culture…. it will inform both addict and skeptic.” The digital age is fully upon us (as if you didn’t know) and many of us daily bless the apple folks for their istuff. I am one of them, or I would be if I knew more. This book will help us figure it all out. I think it is one of the best yet in this genre of very contemporary cultural criticism, with what promises to be a wise blend of being appreciative and dubious, or as one reviewer said neither “succumbing to the avalanche or rejecting it outright.” I suspect you need this book, and if you think you don’t you really do. Highly recommended.
Journey Toward Justice: Personal Encounters in the Global South Nicholas P. Wolterstorff (Baker Academic) $21.99 I know, Nicholas Wolterstorff is a world class, prestigious philosopher whose academic books carry extraordinarily rigorous thinking (and especially salty price tags.) This is Nic a bit more accessible, sharing his own heart, of how his encounters with injustice — most notably in Palestine and in apartheid era South Africa — effected his faith and, more so, his own scholarly vocation. The passionate endorsements on the back are from vital voices for peace and justice, from Stanley Hauerwas to Richard Mouw, Bethany Hoang (of IJM) to Miroslav Volf, who writes, “If you have not read Wolterstorff’s great books on justice, you should. This book — accessible and profound — is the easiest place to start.” What an honor to carry such a book by an esteemed Reformed scholar, narrating firsthand how the realities of human suffering color his work as a political philosopher, an academic, professor, and human being. Not to be missed.
Faith Forward: A Dialogue on Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity Edited by David Csinos and Melvin Bray (CopperHouse/Wood Lake Publishing) $29.99 I have really been eager for this, know a few of the contributors, and wished I could have attended the gathering from which the essays were drawn. You surely know about the “new kind of Christianity” that is being discussed among post-evangelicals and newly ecumenical folk like Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, and those who are called “emergents.” One need not fully embrace this multi-layered and diverse movement to be interested and we all should be glad for the way they are asking questions, probing and re-imagining how faith can be practiced with integrity in our broken world. We are glad that many of these folk embrace, or so it seems, the best of evangelicalism — heralding good news of God’s love based on the gracious work of Christ, joined with a wholistic and socially engaged sort of radical discipleship with a heart to be inclusive and hospitable, hearing voices on the margins, and also embodying some of the more typical sensibilities from the older-school mainline and liturgical churches. This book is about children and youth ministry and asks big questions about how to share the emerging vision of the reign of God with little ones, pondering the joys and contemporary complexities about Christian education, family ministry, the role of women and men, and any number of important (if controversial) matters. The many essays in this book bring a lot to the table, and I’ll be reviewing it more carefully as I am able — there are 21 serious chapters, written by newer evangelicals like Ivy Beckwith and older Episcopalians like John Westerhoff. Kudos to David and Melvin for accomplishing the daunting task of bringing the talks and papers from the original conference into a lively and coherent book. If you work in church-based education, children’s ministry, or care about families, youth, and/or young adults, this is a must. Blurbs on the back include great endorsements from Lutheran Seminary prof Andrew Root, contemplative Quaker Parker Palmer, Jeremiah Wright, the pastor emeritus of Trinity UCC (who has widely written on family life), Presbyterian educator Liz Caldwell, and of course, from Phyllis Tickle. Jim Wallis has a nice blurb (his wife Joy has a chapter), Shane Claiborne wrote a forward, there is a rave endorsement by old timey civil rights leader, the ever vibrant Vincent Harding. We haven’t seen a book like this in a very long while, and think it will be stimulating. Agree or not with all their conclusions, you should join their conversation.
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