I’ll say it again, with apologies to those who have heard me say it often: I love the verse in 1 Chronicles 12: 32 about the “sons of Issachar” who “understood the times and knew what God’s people should do.” It is sort of a life verse for me, capturing a sense of my own vocation, which lead Beth and I to start this bookstore, hoping to sell books to those wanting to be sons and daughters capable of such cultural discernment and prophetic witness. And to sell books that help introduce folks to the very idea of being such sons and daughters of Issachar, who desire “in the world but not of it” wisdom and faithfulness, serving both the church and the world.
You know what comes next: this is why we carry books on film and science, or gender studies and history, on politics and psychology, on urban affairs and youth culture, on art and economics, work and play — not to mention a solid section on what we can only call cultural engagement, right next to the books on developing a Christian worldview. You see, we believe that systematic theology and contemplative spiritual disciplines and lively congregational life and faithful, good worship alone do not yield the sort of righteous fruit we need as we tussle with the principalities and the powers. We need the Christian mind for and about every side of life, equipping us to think and embody principles and practices that allow us to make a different in the world, in each and every sphere.
“Far as the curse is found,” you know…
The priesthood of all believers.
Visions of vocation.
Thinking Christianly about all of life.
Missional living in our own cultural context.
Seeking the common good in the public square.
It ain’t no news flash that we have never been particularly profitable, and the more we talk about social engagement and the Christian mind and worldview studies and a Christian perspective of the work-world, all the while trying to draw on the best insights of (while being appropriately critical of) both the religious right and left, the worse it gets, despite the much-appreciated well-wishers hither and yon. Our profits are, well, you don’t want to know. We are called to this work, so we aren’t giving up, but it is (despite the many wonderful reports we get of those whose lives have been touched and even their “social imaginaries” transformed by books we sell) still rather hard to interest average readers of religious books in this sort of thing.
It seems that not everyone wants to do the work it takes to become a son or daughter of Issachar. But why?
A NEW SET OF BOOKS PROVIDES A CLUE — AND A SOLUTION
And so, we rejoice this week as a new set of books are released, a new project cooked up by friends we trust over at the Barna Group. They do all sorts of research on what religious folks, especially Christians, think and do, and one study was especially striking, documenting that which we all know deep in our bones: even many people of faith who want to be active, engaging culture, being agents of God’s restorative social renewal, who want to understand our world deeply, even Christian pastors and leaders, simply don’t read much.
TOO BUSY TO READ?
And one reason folks read less then they should, less even then they want to, is that we are all so very busy.
Hot-wired, hyper-modern life has impinged on our habits and lifestyles and there is little debate that slow, careful, considered reading — especially about complicated sociological stuff going on in the world — takes time and energy, time and energy many of do not have. There is a lot to wade through, questions of who to believe, matters of what really is important to read and which books are less urgent (or downright unhelpful.) None of us can read it all.
Enter Barna-man David Kinnaman and his plan for a new kind of book, a visually-enhanced, short work by top-notch authors, coupled with spiffy info-graphics, distilled data, and even a digital component in the form of accompanying DVD sessions. He describes them as “short yet meaningful” and “big ideas in small books.” These long-form essays/mini-books offer a solid framework for considering key aspects of the world around us and the call to whole-life discipleship. They are arranged under the rubrics of frameworks, frames, and re/frames. Dare I call it Issacharian?
The series is called FRAMES.
There will be more released, but this week, Zondervan has released the first 9 of them. And we are very, very excited, hoping the respected authors, creative format and slim, pocket-size, offering principled, foundational insight and up-to-the-minute data, will appeal to busy, but thoughtful folks. I despise their marketing slogan (“read less, know more”) but I get what they mean. And you do to.
Kinnaman picked these topics and authors with great care, and many of them are leaders I know and respect. I respect David a lot and am not surprised that he could pull this project together, connecting with authors and designers who could make these fine little books so useful. In a way, these are entry-level, relevant ruminations that anyone could read. I think that even if the topic is one you are not necessarily drawn to, that you may not feel urgently called to, and about which you wouldn’t shell out for a 400-page hardback tome, that you will now see these as nice ways to get “up to speed” and learn a bit about the topic at hand for a very small investment. How great would it be if you picked one or two you really are interested in, and then picked one or two that you aren’t drawn to? I think it is what an Issacharian might do. It’s what Hearts & Minds fans should do.
In fact, allow me to suggest even more: these manifestos would make great discussion starters for small groups, Bible study meetings, coffee-shop salons, adult ed classes, campus fellowships or work-place, lunch-time conversation times, theology-on-tap soirees. Use the DVDs, buy the books, spread the word. God cares. There’s solid stuff to be learned and this is a creative, interesting, efficient way to broach a new subject. Read just a little bit, and learn a lot, inviting others into the conversation.
Here are the titles, topics and authors of the newly released first set of FRAMES (drawn from their initial press release.) Each one sells for just $7.99 (so our sale price is $6.39 each.)
We will have these all on their release date of Tuesday, January 7, 2014, on sale — at a BookNotes 20% off — and would be delighted to take your orders.
Greater Expectations: Succeed and Stay Sane in an On-Demand. All-Access, Always-On Age by Claire Diaz-Ortiz, social innovation leader at Twitter, discusses finding contentment in an on-demand, all-access, always-on age.
The Hyperlinked Life: Living with Wisdom in an Age of Information Overload by Jun Young, founder of ZUM Communications and David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, explores how to live with wisdom in an age of information overload.
Encore Careers: Finding Meaning in Your Next Season by Bob Goff, founder of Restore International and a partner in the D.C. law firm Goff & DeWalt, looks at doing work that matters at every stage of your journey. You know Bob Goff is the energetic speaker and author of the popular author of Love Does.
Wonder Women: Navigating the Challenges of Motherhood, Career, and Identity by Kate Harris, executive director of the Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation, and Culture, looks at the challenges of motherhood, career and identity.
20 and Something: Have the Time of Your Life (And Figure It Out, Too) by David Kim of the Center for Faith & Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, looks at the new economic, relational and spiritual realities of being “twentysomething” and offers ways of finding rootedness in this unstable decade of life.
Fighting for Peace: Your Role in a Culture Too Comfortable with Violence by Carol Howard Merritt, writer and Presbyterian pastor, and Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, Baptist pastor and founder of the Two Futures Project, a movement of Christians for the global abolition of nuclear weapons, calls for Christians to examine their comfort level with violence, and their responsibility for creating peace. You may know Merritt’s two Alban Institute books or Wigg-Stevenson’s important book The World Is Not Yours to Save.
Schools in Crisis: They Need Your Help (Whether You Have Kids or Not) by Nicole Baker Fulgham, founder and president of The Expectations Project, examines the nation’s public education crisis and how Christians can help–whether they have kids or not. Her larger book on this subject, Educating All God’s Children, is very, very important.
Becoming Home: Adoption, Foster Care and Mentoring: Living Out God’s Heart for the Orphan by Jedd Medefind, president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans, shows how Christians can lead the way to solving the orphan crisis through foster care and adoption.
Sacred Roots: Why the Church Still Matters by Jon Tyson, lead pastor of Trinity Grace Church in New York, makes the case for why church matters.
FRAMES: Season 1 Collection (Zondervan) $59.99 (sale price $47.99.)
You can even buy the whole “first season” of these 9 paperbacks in a nice slipcase. You save a bit buying this this way, too, so let us know if you want’ em all.
DVD Frames Season 1: Exploring Nine Critical Issues of Our Times (Zondervan) $29.99 (our sale price $23.99) There is also a DVD that has a piece by each of the 9 authors. We have this, too, of course.
Below is just a one minute sample of the session on the vocation of mothering, done by our very smart friend (and director of Steve Garber’s Washington Institute on Faith, Vocation and Culture.) You can see the articulate non-nonsense presentation, and the colorful info-graphics and the classy, but up-beat educational presentation. I am sure this is going to be helpful for traditional church adult ed groups, young adult fellowships, book groups…
WHAT IS FRAMES?
Watch a fabulous, short video with the always-charming Mr. K telling of half-read books and the need for these deep but brief multi-faceted resources, designed for our busy lives.
FREE FRAMES WEBCAST
You are invited to a fabulous free webcast on January 29th with most of the FRAMES authors. Wow, this is going to be great — I’m not missing it!
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