Hearts & Minds presents: Eight Great New Books, all 20% OFF at BookNotes

Lots of great books keep coming in to the shop. Sales may be down in indie bookstores,
but the publishing world is strong, writers doing their thing, publishers releasing important work.  What a joy, what a gift, to be a reader
in these times.  Here are a few you
should consider for your own library, or maybe for your small group. At least you could put some on that Christmas list you know you’re making.  Or maybe you can’t wait for that.  Send us an order, today!

Rrebel souls.jpgebel Souls: America’s First Bohemians  Justin Martin (De Capo) $27.99 I love
books that do social history, placing ideas and movements within a broader
context, that unlock the personalities of people (famous or less so) showing
how they reflected (and in some cases caused) features of our society that we
now take for granted. In Rebel
Justin Martin tells us about Pfaffs, a storied 1850s bar in New
York City that became (quite knowingly) the first place in America to forge an
alt-community of artists and creative thinkers who called themselves bohemians. The word, coined in Paris a decade before, was inspired, in fact, by Puccini’s
classic opera, La Boheme (which, in
turn, inspired the long-running Rent,
set in the East Village.) Walt Whitman
was a nightly feature at Pfaffs, and the coterie of these creative, troubled
souls, had a reach that was stunning: into this story comes Emerson, Mark
Twain, Abraham Lincoln, and some very important, if lesser known folks, including, perhaps America’s first stand-up comic. They had
no word for stand-up comedy in the 1850s so they called the performances of
Artemus Ward “comic lectures.”

You may know Justin Martin from his nicely-written, very informative,
fascinating books such as the highly regarded Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted; he is a fine
historian and great writer. Pulitzer Prize winner Debby Applegate says about Rebel Souls,  “A terrific book about a magical
time and place in American history – Pfaff’s basement saloon on Broadway on the
eve of the Civil War, where boozers, brawlers, and barflies, journalists,
comics, actors, and poets came together to create a bohemian paradise.  Like the West Bank of Paris of the
1920s or Greenwich Village during the Beat Generation, Pfaff’s scene burned
brightly and then burned out…” 

space permitted, I’d tell you about the role of their writings and reviews, and the lasting significance. I’d tell you about the
Naked Lady, the guy who wrote the first book (a big seller, published by Harper
& Brothers!) on hashish, the role of theater in those years, the role of women, the Pffafians relationship with John Wilkes Booth, and –
of course – more about the one who became the Good Grey Poet himself. I learned so much, and enjoyed the story greatly.

Also, I’d be sure to tell you how important it is to
understand the ethos and orientation of bohemia for understanding today’s new
romantics, hipsters, neo-hippies, many artists and indie rockers, and some of
the emergent religious communities. 
As Martin tells us early in the book,

The Pfaff’s Bohemians were part of the transition from art
as a genteel profession to art as a soul-deep calling, centered on risk-taking,
honesty, and provocation. Everyone from Lady Gaga to George Carlin to Dave
Eggers owes a debt to these originals. They were also the forerunners of such
alternative artists groups as the Beats, Andy Warhol’s Factory, and the
abstract expressionist painters who hung out during the 1950s at New York’s
Cedar Tavern. 

The pendulum continues to swing from rationalism to
romanticism, control to freedom, thinking to feeling, from the straight and narrow to the wild and
free (and it is not a stretch to say, red states and blue states.)  For at least one major
manifestation of a zeitgeist that still attracts, hang out a Pfaffs for a bit
with Whitman and his rag-tag crew of cultural creatives. Experience how this
bawdy group of writers and thinkers shaped, in some ways, the very way some
artists increasingly imagined their own vocations and work. Follow Whitman
after the Civil War to DC, and then to Camden NJ, even as he publishes yet
another edition of Leaves of Grass,
this time with “O Captain! My Captain!” included. Think of Robin Williams, even, and say a prayer.

This is a wonderful book about bohemian culture, a fascinating history that reverberates yet today.  Thanks to Mr. Martin for his painstaking research and the obvious care of his subject that come out so nicely in his writing.

Ffather factor.jpgather Factor: American Christian Men on Fatherhood and Faith edited
by R. Anderson Campbell  (White
Cloud Press) $17.95  I do hope I
can write more extensively about this later, because it is truly a fabulous,
fabulous book, interesting, well-written, helpful. There is a small backstory
or two: The “I Speak for Myself” series of which this is a part includes two
books of young Muslim writers telling about their lives. These were helpful testimonials written by young Americans who were Muslims, one by women, one by men — lovely stuff.  The third in the series was Talking Taboo which we reviewed and
touted, a wonderful, important project of young Christina woman talking about
their experiences as women in the church. A host of important writers I admire
and a few friends were in that one, and we carried it around to many places
we’ve done book displays.  The new
fourth one is perhaps the best yet, with really, really good writing, and very,
very moving stories.  I happily
admit that Mr. Campbell is aanderson campbell.jpg friend I admire, and a dad I admire, and that two other former CCO staff
friends — Kurt Ro and Brian Shope — are included among these 30 writers under
30 years old. (I don’t think
my judgment is too clouded here) but their pieces are amongst the strongest in the
book.! Congrats, friends.

To summarize, these moving
pieces are ruminations on the fathers of these guys, or their own role as a
father, on knowing God as a father, and on this whole messy male business.  Sometimes, naturally, the
reflections include both recalling their own dads, and their being a dad; you can imagine.  A young dad wants to be just like his own father; another young dad
does not at all want to be like his own father.  There is joy and sadness and faith and rage and great grace
in these pieces and I truly recommend them.

Matthew Paul Turner notes that “In many ways, Father
is a work of art, a beautiful collage of humanity and soul, a
thoughtful collection of stories detail the lives, dreams and fears of American
fathers. The essays in this book will make you laugh, bring you to tears, and
at all times, cause you to rethink your approach to parenting. But most of all,
will give you hope.

I was fortunate enough to get to offer a blurb, alongside
more famous and better writers, from Richard Mouw, Christena Cleveland,
Eboo Patel, to my friend Lisa Sharon Harper.  For what it’s worth,
here’s what I wrote:

I love memoirs — who doesn’t love a good story? — and these short
narratives are a joy to read, a reader’s delight, getting a glimpse into
the lives of others. There is wonder, loss, love, joy, pathos, romance
and laughter, a little cursing and a lot of praise. But there is more:
these are exceptionally brave stories from many different sorts of men
reflecting profoundly about God the father, their own fathers (for
better or for worse) and their own particular journeys into fatherhood.
This is not a self-help manual, but guys from all stages of life will learn much and be better fathers because of it. Highly recommended. -Byron Borger, Hearts & Minds Books, Dallastown, PA

Llife together in christ.jpgife Together in Christ: Experiencing Transformation in Community Ruth
Haley Barton (IVP//formation) $18.00 
Do you long to experience transformation in community?  Ponder that, and ponder it again. You know we’ve admired Ruth Haley Barton for years,
view her as nearly a spiritual mentor, and have read and commended all her many books
over the years. This, though, I must say, really, really touched me. I believe it was just what I needed, and it
may be what you need, too.  She offers a
concise, powerful, but sensible call to combine two things, two things we all long for, and yet are rarely adequately combined: community and spiritual growth, or, in other words, relationships and

Life Together in Christ  provides a model that is specifically created to help you be more intentional about your
journey into spiritual growth by being in the company of others.  I love her reflections (sometimes
fairly obvious and lovely, other times creative and extraordinary) on the
much-loved story of the two walking on the road to Emmaus. The back cover promises that she
“offers substantive teaching and direction for small groups of spiritual
companions who are ready to encounter Christ – right where they are on the road
of real life.”

There are some great conversation starters at the end of
each chapter, some things to ponder solo highlighted in sidebars and boxes, as
well as some resources for small group use, making this not only inspiring but
very practical.  Some of us don’t
value the “processing” stuff in these books, but for this one, it is essential.  As I’ve already pondered some of these
bits, I can am confident that they will be worth your time, valuable for you
and your group.

There are, not surprising, rave reviews here from authors as
diverse as Mark Labberton and Ronald Rolheiser, James Bryan Smith and J.R.
Briggs.  And they are right – this
is an excellent resource, a lovely book, and a sure guide to deepening one’s
life, by allowing God to bring transformation to a group walking together. 

Bbeloved dust.jpgeloved Dust//Drawing Close to God By Discovering the Truth About
Jamin Goggin & Kyle Strobel (Nelson) $16.99  I have been pondering how to describe
this book; I had an advanced copy, as I respect these two thinkers
immensely.  Goggin edited one of
the best books of earlier this year, a serious, semi-scholarly work inviting
evangelicals (and others) to be more intentional and thoughtful as they take up
the best mystical and devotional classics; Stobel (who is, among other things,
a Jonathan Edwards scholar) has a real gift to take deep, sanctifying truth and
make it upbeat and helpful for readers who are perhaps not used to wading in
deep spiritual waters.  

At any
rate, Beloved Dust is a very contemporary book, with a self-awareness about life and
times, written in a witty and at times clever narrative way. But, but, believe me, this is remarkable material, including
some excellent Bible study and some guidance into patience, prayer, and
openheartedness. If you want to
truly know God, John Calvin taught, one must know oneself. And knowing ourselves as we are –
beloved dust – is the heart of this book about spiritual formation.  This is one of a great kind of book
I’ve noticed recently, a happy blend of pretty ancient, dare I say profound
stuff, presented as only young, contemporary pastors can. Maybe it’s the double-slashes in the title, maybe it’s the subtitle, artful cover.  But this is a cool book, but one that,
as cool as it is, has a degree of gravitas. Nice!

If you’re not sure if a heavy book of serious spiritual theology could be written in a very contemporary way, and be as solid as it is winsome and inviting, just check this out, and then come back and place an order with us.

Wwhat your body knows about god.jpghat Your Body Knows About God: How We Are Designed to Connect, Serve,
and Thrive 
Rob Moll (IVP)
$16.00  Where to begin to let you know how great this book is?  How about this: Christianity Today gave
this a very rare, exceptional five-star review.  Singer-songwriter Michael Card wrote a truly lovely,
well-written foreword. Scot McKnight and Richard Sterns and Katelyn Beaty and
other good writers have added their rave reviews. You really should know about this.

Or, get this, from the very smart Jamie Smith:

“The theologian Henri de Lubac once said that human beings
were created with a natural desire for the supernatural. This marvelous,
accessible book by Rob Moll picks up on this conviction brilliantly, inviting
us to embrace our bodies as the gifts they are. The incarnate God meets us in
our bodies and brains. An excellent exposition of the bodily basis of

I loved Rob Moll’s 2010 IVP book The
Art Of Dying
which was beautiful and wise and worthy of repeated reading. This new examination of neuroscience and brain studies and religion
is, without a doubt, the best one of this sort I’ve yet read (and there have been a good handful the last few years.) Moll tells a lot of very tender and
engaging stories, including a brave section about his wife and her mysterious chronic illness. He does mature and solid Bible study, he draw connections between all sorts of things
and invites us to take seriously that God has wired us for God’s own self,
which – get this! –  can release
stuff in the brain that literally can help us become more empathetic and kind. You will learn a bit about amino acids and the role of the brain and the body in our faith (even a chapter on worship.) You will learn that Moll works for World Vision and cares deeply not only about our own molecules and the mystery of our spiritual lives, but of the brokenness of the world, and efforts to bring redemption and hope. The title and subtitle of this important new book is very helpful to explain
what it is like and just what the book is about.  It is a real winner.  Spread the word!

Mme to we.jpge and We: God’s New Social Gospel Leonard Sweet (Abingdon)
$17.99  I hope you know my
appreciation for Len Sweet, as a thinker, a writer, a leader, a public speaker,
preacher, and friend.  I’m a fan, and
that won’t easily change.  His
early books were important for me, his recent ones fantastic.  They are always energetic, playful,
learned, and always worth the price tag in part due to the truly extraordinary
amount of fascinating, unexpected, and important footnotes.  One can enhance one’s plan for being a
life-long learner just by reading carefully Sweet’s own reading recommendations
and sources.

Like most of the books on this little list, this new one
truly deserves a long and more attentive review.  Time and space do not allow, but I can say these few things,
too quickly.  If you like Sweet you
will like this, but you may have to, as with some of his books, overlook a few
jumps in logic, one ADHD leap from topic or illustration to another. Although
the “house and garden” metaphor, drawn from the magazine title, I guess, figures
prominently, I still don’t know what he means by that.  I track with most his stuff pretty
well, but I was left scratching my head on occasion, maybe moreso in this one
than in others.  (Take that as a
dare, friends, not a warning.)

Secondly, you might surmise this, but if you don’t know, you will learn
right away: Sweet may be seen as an edgy postmodern prophet, but in his
heart of hearts he’s an old school Wesleyan revivalist of the holiness tradition.  He has no patience for those who might
drift from a Bible-based, God-exalting, Christ-centered, cross-preaching,
church-going, soul-saving, true gospel. 
He is ruthless in dismissing the liberal social reformers of the early twentieth century, and, seemingly, as hard on the new century post-evangelical, hip, emergent folk
who seem to similarly allow their missional vision to become so attuned to (at
least the rhetoric, if not the work) of social justice that the first things of
the gospel are squeezed out. He
is, on this score, not unlike Scot McKnight or even John Piper.  As deeply as he swims in the waters of cultural studies, he does not sound like Brian McLaren, let alone the politico Jim Wallis. Yet, despite his apparent disapproval
of the so-called Christian left, he is adamant, as he always has been, that our
gospel work must be culturally-relevant, socially-engaged, communal, green.

It isn’t that complicated, but in Sweet’s witty, provocative
hands, this stuff sounds wildly innovative, perhaps a viable alternative
between the right and the left, the conservatives and the progressives.  Sweet cites Ivan Illich and Wendell Berry
a bit (and calls him “the world’s best living poet”) and he affirms some of the
passionate voices who critique consumerism and materialism. He offers some interesting ruminations
on racism, a little tirade against “simple living”, and some blunt observations
about the anti-globalization movement. A good part of the last half is about what
it might take to birth a new (Christ-like) economy.  He works creatively with Genesis — “tend and keep” (the garden) becomes “conserve and conceive.”  Whether you pick up on and draw energy from his endless
plays on words or whether you roll your eyes, his framing of the gospel as
both/and – me and we – is immensely helpful. His hinting at or briefly stopping to give a cursory critique to all kinds of stuff in light of his relational/holiness theology along the way is
evocative, and his weighing in on a few major day issues of the day is
important.  He invites us to see
the world in a very different way. When an author – through profound wisdom
or sheer literary elan, or a bit of
both – can do that, that, my friends, it is worth buying a few, gathering some
people together for a night or so, and chatting it up. 

In this case, it may be a bit of a roller-coaster ride, and you may be a little
dizzy when it is all done.  But
you’ll not only be glad you took the Sweet ride, you’ll be very glad for the
“we” that emerges from that shared experience.  Heaven knows we
need a social gospel.  A new kind
of social gospel. Me
and We: God’s New Social Gospel
will make you think about that in ways you haven’t before. 

Iimagination redeemed.jpgmagination Redeemed: Glorifying God with a Neglected Part of Your Mind
Gene Edward Veith, Jr. & Matthew Ristuccia (Crossway) $16.99  I have been waiting for this book for a
long time, and I think we need a Biblically and philosophically faithful
Christian view of imagination that is written in a way that ordinary people can
appreciate and learn and grow from it. 
This is that book, the best thing I’ve seen at an accessible level, and
no other book that I know of does quite what this does. Redeemer Presbyterian’s Center for
Faith and Work had Matt Ristuccia speak at their annual event a week or so ago,
and everyone raved.  The Executive
Director of CFW, David Kim, wrote about the book “Through their seasoned
pastoral and scholarly gifts, Veith and Ristuccia have done the church an
incredible service in lifting up the critical role of the imagination in the
Christian life.”  When a scholar of aesthetics and musician of the caliber of Jeremy Begbie says it deserves to be
widely read, you know it is important.

I’ll say just a few quick things.  Firstly, Vieth is clear and succinct in his unpacking of the
role of the imagination, which he insists is merely the ability of the mind to
create mental images.  I think he’s
a bit wrong about that, and his latent conservative rationalism colors this
book, as it has his others. Still, it’s an informative, instructional and even colorful read,
and his parts are a valuable contribution.   I’m pondering (among a whole lot of other things, the cover, too, by the way.  What is going on there? And what kind of cover would have been evoked to serve a book with a more robust, wild, less linear view of imagination? Just some kind of inchoate hunch here…)

This is not exactly the place to pick scholarly nits — imagine a mental image for that, if you will — and in any regard, I am not enough of a philosopher, I’m afraid, to do so. (I say this as I’m working on a long review of a new set of Calvin Seerveld books which I’ll publish soon, by the way, DV.  Dr. Seerveld, I would suppose, might not locate the human ability to imagine in the brain as simply as Veith & Ristuccia do.) If you like to think about these things, certainly you should get this book and let your mind run wild, as you consider what the imagination is and what it means for our daily life.

The second part of each chapter is written by Rev. Ristuccia, who does,
basically, a vibrant, evocative Bible study of Ezekiel, and it is quite good. (The few lines where he compares the different visions
of Ezekiel with different Beatles albums is, uh, spectacular!) This bit of prophetic imagination is splendid, solid, helpful, and makes for good reading. Three cheers, right there! 

If you are not drawn to a critical evaluation of the
assumptions about these things — is Veith right about what the imagination is, and how it works, and is Ristuccia right in bringing Ezekiel to the table like this? —  then, by all means, read the book happily, and
be glad that this literary scholar/professor and Bible scholar/pastor have
dreamed up this very interesting book. You will be glad to consider how things like remembering and planning,
learning and listening, dreaming and hoping, are contingent on a robust,
redeemed imagination. You will learn about the goodness of how God made us, be reminded of the vexing ways sin can disrupt and distort our imaginative capacities, and will be invited to open up your efforts to enhance this aspect of your God-given mindfulness. 

There is, finally, a nice concluding appendix which will be of special
appeal to some, a suggestive reflection on how paying more sustained attention
to the imagination (and the arts) can help in our apologetics.  There are full books on this, thank
goodness, and it is nice to have these few extra pages included in Imagination
This is good stuff, and we should be sharing this book widely
– it will help us embrace this too-often ill-considered gift of our human-ness,
this part of the mind that is a gift of God designed to bolster and deepen our
faith and lives.

VVainglory.jpgainglory: The Forgotten Vice Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung
(Eerdmans) $14.00  It isn’t every
day that we get to announce a mature, thoughtful, but popular-level book
released from the prestigious philosophy department of Calvin College;  we are happy to note that Dr. DeYoung
is a stellar prof at that productive, legendary department. Her scholarly work
has been on Aquinas and a previous excellent book called Glittering Vices: A New Look at the Deadly Sins and Their Remedies was,
in my view, not as widely read or valued as it should have been. I suppose it is fair to say that this new
one is a bit of a follow-up, related, obviously, to her study of sin and dysfunction
in the human heart and how culture can reflect the sad situation.

The books starts in an eloquent, but nonetheless funny way:
she is to give the heady, respected Stob lectures, and is wondering if it is
prideful, or even vainglorious, to be glad about such a thing.  Should she tell of her own struggle
with vainglory as she explores the topic in the lecture (or is that, in itself,
vainglorious?) Does not talking about her own foibles imply she is above the
fray? Is that reflective of some
distorted desire? She ends up
inviting her students to check her, making lists of instances of pride,
vainglory, or hints of false humility. 
Ha – even those pages were a razor’s edge, and she navigated it
wonderfully.  I was hooked, knowing
she would be a thoughtful, nuanced, and pleasant, an honest guide.  Early on, I realized that she would be
candid, but not gooey, erudite, but easy to read, even as she was rigorous with
herself and her readers. The book
maintains these standards and seems to me to be a quintessentially excellent
Eerdmans release.

First, you should recall this: vainglory was one of the
earliest, deadliest sins in that nasty list, but was dropped somewhere along
the line. Through nuances of
definition and translation, we now more commonly talk about pride.  Or vanity. Vainglory, though, is a particular sin, and although we
don’t use the word, much, we all know the sin. In others, and, I suspect, too often, in ourselves.  Especially (as DeYoung explains in one
very good section) those of us who are public figures, teachers, preachers,
artists, writers, all whose job it is to publicly impress others.  I suspect not a few BookNotes readers may find this important to their own developing virtue.

It is always good – at least for our little corner of the
book world here at Hearts & Minds and our little BookNotes niche – to see philosophers,
spiritual directors and pastors all endorse a new book with equal
enthusiasm.  Robert Roberts (who I
seem to think is a Kierkegaard scholar) has written deeply about the spirituality
of emotions and the psychology of virtue, says “DeYoung’s Vainglory is the best
thing out there on the vices of pride. 
It’s profound, readable, witty, telling, historically informative, and pastorally helpful.”  William
Mattison notes that “DeYoung writes with the wisdom and expertise of a
theologian of psychologist, yet with the accessibility of a college roommate
discussing life over a meal in the dining hall.”

And then there is this from Richard Foster, who is judicious
in his endorsements:

At last a book that takes head-on what is perhaps the capital vice of modern culture.
Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung draws from the classical tradition of Christian moral
thinking to introduce us to the life-giving virtues, which alone can free us from the plague of narcissism that is the cultural zeitgeist
of our day. I recommend this book highly.



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