So I spent some of my extra time today working again on a review that I wanted to improve, to better express my enthusiasm for a book or two by an author I deeply respect and whose new work — a recently-revised reprint and a new self-published book — you might not be aware of. Man, I’m eager to release this impassioned review of these pair of powerhouse books. But then, like Christmas morning, in comes some spectacular new books here at the shop, most which I ordered pre-publication maybe months ago. When such a truck load of remarkable titles shows up somewhat unexpectedly, I feel almost jittery to tell somebody who cares.
So, I’m skipping my review for now, jumping in and winging this, quickly announcing six brand, spanking new books that we are thrilled to let you know are now available. And that’s not even counting the good stuff that trickled in a few days ago — the new Mary Oliver poetry volume, the new Christian Wyman release, the eagerly-awaiting, prestigious novel Lila (a sequel to Giliad and Home by Marilynn Robinson) which we’ve been mentioning.
We have the BookNotes sale thing going on — 20% off the regular prices which are shown.
SIX NEW ONES THAT CAME TODAY
Vanishing Grace: Whatever Happened to the Good News?
Philip Yancey (Zondervan) $22.99 It isn’t every day that a Zondervan book gets a wondrous blurb on the back from rock star St. Bono and evangelical popularizer Max Lucado. Mr. Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace
was nearly a landmark book and this could be seen as a long-awaited sequel to that contemporary classic. This new one showcases his trademark journalistic style, story-filled, thoughtful, accessible yet with no fluff. I am confident that it will be very, very compelling. The back jacket says “Yancey explores how grace can bridge the gap between Christian faith and a world increasingly suspicious of it.” Oh my.
There will soon be a DVD curriculum, too, which will be well made and eloquent and which we will stock.
Why Suffering? Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense
Ravi Zacharias & Vince Vitale (FaithWords) $22.00 Many people have wished for a book like this from Ravi, one of the most articulate, thoughtful and elegant apologists of our time. A convert (in his young adult years, after considering many, many world religions and philosophies) from Hinduism, he has been a caring, if rigorous, evangelist. Not every evangelical leader grapples so honestly with Nietzsche, drawing on Alvin Plantinga and other stunning thought leaders. And (for any old Pittsburgh friends who may be reading) he cites Bill Rowe, who taught for a season at ICS in Toronto. A great cover, too, for this moving hardback.
Jesus Prom: Life Gets Fun When You Love People Like God Does
Jon Weece (Nelson) $16.99 My Nelson sale representative is a good man, and patient with me as I ply him with questions, sometimes needlessly snarky ones, suspicious as I am of some pop evangelical books these days. “Jesus Prom”? I almost cussed. What in the heck does that even mean? And why does a book about Jesus need a disco ball on the cover? My ever-patient salesman pointed out the foreword by Bob Goff, a man I admire immensely. And then he explained that at the heart of this book is the story of a church that holds a full-on, big time prom for students with special needs. I almost cried hearing about it, glad for a church like this, doing stuff like this. Jesus loves people. Wouldn’t it make sense, Weece asks, “that those who claim to love Jesus would love the same people Jesus loves?” This central Kentucky church pulls off this extraordinary event, and if Goff says it’s the real deal, I believe him. I can’t wait to read this, and am eager to promote the new DVD curriculum, too. When Beth and I used to work for an Easter Seal Society Camp in the summers, by the way, dancing with wheelchair-bound kids and young adults at the “Final Banquet” was a highlight of each week and, if truth be told, remains a highlight of my life. This book, I’m telling ya, will touch your heart.
God is in the City: Encounters of Grace and Transformation
Shawn Casselberry (Mission Year Life Resources) $17.00 Aww, I’ve been waiting for this. I hope you know Mission Year, an organization Tony Campolo started back in the day, that invites young adults to take a year to live in community in really rough ghetto neighborhoods, and share life with the poor, walk alongside those who are disenfranchised, and experience God in solidarity there, maybe bringing some fresh gospel light to often broken communities. A hero/acquaintance of ours, Leroy Barber, was their Executive Director for years, and wrote a book or two that we have truly loved. (I hope you saw my review of Red, Brown, Yellow, Black, White…
) How folks come to learn neighborliness, and find goodness in raw places has been a theme in Mission Year — it isn’t about suburban college kids coming in to save the lost, poor people. Shawn Cassleberry is an advocate for God’s justice and the current head of Mission Year and this handsome volume (which is really attractively designed, and produced by them as a fund-raiser) looks splendid.
Whether you live in an urban area or not, this book helps us understand many of our fellow citizens, dissuades us of dumb stereotypes, and will help you appreciate not only the hardships but joys of doing relational ministry in a fallen world. This is a fantastic glimpse into God’s work, sort of a “Chicken Soup for the Soul” with guts and grit and true grace. You will thrill to read these stories, be glad for the hard work of these folk, and be glad — inspired, even! — that there are such stories afoot in the world. Dr. John Perkins, who wrote the foreword, says “I urge you to read this book. You will be inspired and transformed by what you encounter.” Amen.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
Bryan Stevenson (Spiegel & Grau) $28.00 Speaking of Campolo: years ago we heard Tony tell the story of an African American boy who grew up poor and ended up through God’s grace at Harvard Law School. He could land any prestigious job he wanted, a top-of-the-class black man with such a prestigious degree. The graduate eschewed worldly success and fame and wealth, though, discipled into the ways of Christ as he was, and went back to poor, rural Alabama, and served the oppressed there, working, then, with organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center, and helping get those who claimed innocence a fair trail, often off of death row. A friend of mine and I asked Campolo po
int blank if this was a real story — Tony’s stories are so flamboyantly told and so very moving the rumor is he makes some of them up (which isn’t at all true!) Of course this story was indeed true and the kid’s name was Bryan Stevenson. The CCO hosted him at their Jubilee Conference in Pittsburgh years ago and even then, some of us realized that Mr. Stevenson was more than the real deal, he was one of the truly great people of our era. (Will he be nominated for something like the Nobel Prize one wonders.) He now runs the Equal Justice Initiative, and has a deep passion about children who are in jail, cravenly tried as adults.
Just Mercy is his brand new book, carrying extraordinary rave reviews from top literary lights the likes of Desmond Tutu, Tracy Kidder, Michelle Alexander and Isabel Wilkerson, and a stunning quote on the front cover by the best-selling Baptist lawyer, John Grisham. Beth and I were incredibly moved when she saw that this came, feeling the great joy and privilege of carrying such books. We were glad to see him on the popular back page of Time magazine this week. I assure you that this will be one of the much-discussed, highly regarded, public affairs books of the year, a man lead to Christian faith who related his convictions to his sense of calling, and now is doing vital, powerful work in the world. You really should read this book. See what he says when folks compare him to Atticus Finch, here.
Disquiet Time: Rants and Reflections on the Good Book by the Skeptical, the Faithful, and a Few Scoundrels
edited by Jennifer Grant and Cathleen Falsani (Jericho Books) $24.00 Well. This will absolutely need a longer review, but know this much: it is a wild and woolly anthology of all sorts of little pieces — some remarkably well written, some really funny (Susan Isaacs) some a bit snarky (okay, a lot snarky) — asking whether this or that weird part of the Bible is really so, or may somehow not, or something other, or whatever it all may mean. “The Bible is full of not-so-precious moments” they say (and if that doesn’t win you over, you may not get the allusion to those awful little cutesy figurines.) From murder to mayhem to sex and slavery, the Bible is perplexing. Instead of turning a blind eye to the difficult (“and entertaining,” they slyly note) passages, these authors take ’em head on.
Eugene Peterson writes the forward which gives this some appropriate gravitas. There are some important authors contributing here (from PCA scholar Stephen Brown to social activist Gareth Higgins to the spunky wordsmith Margot Starbuck.) Some of these folks are fairly conventional and quite thoughtful (Amy Julia Becker, Keith Tanner) and some are a bit edgy (Christian Piatt, Debbie Blue.) There is pathos, too, real honesty, humor, and some writing that you will want to ponder quietly. And some parts you’ll want to read out loud. I’ve got my advanced reader’s copy dog-eared and can’t wait to start conversations about some of this. Falsani is an amazing writer herself (and familiar with all kinds of pop culture, the art and the artists), a Wheaton grad, I think, with a bit of an attitude. (And she is the only person that ever confused me with Bruce Cockburn, for which remain bemusedly grateful.) Ms Grant has previously written two good books, one about the process of adopting a daughter, another about raising a family. Despite the throw-back goof-ball cover (although you have to love that depiction of raining frogs) this new release is a great collection, a very interesting book. And we’ve got it!
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