I hope you saw the last BookNotes post (we heard that some who subscribe didn’t see it in their inbox the day before Christmas.) We invited you to download a book cover and give a last minute gift of a PRE-ORDERED book. While we can easily take pre-orders for almost any legitimate book, we picked three that are going to be just wonderful, and, we think, important. I predicted already that they will be in the running for Best Books of next year!
I know this was appealing to some, and our 20% discount was appreciated, too.
We suggested for you the January release of the new Andy Crouch book, his fantastic follow-up to Playing God called Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk & True Flourishing (IVP; $20.00.)
Also, we suggested the mid-February release of It’s Not Too Late: The Essential Part You Play in Shaping Your Teen’s Faith (Baker; $15.99) by our good friend Dan Dupee, President of the CCO, about parenting older teens and college-age young adults. It is really a fine book, fresh and helpful. Skip back to that previous BookNotes post if you didn’t see our description of it.
Lastly, we were pleased to recommend the eagerly-awaited early-March 2016 book by James K.A. Smith We Are What We Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit (Brazos Press; $19.99) which in many ways is going to be a lucid and action-able summary of his much-discussed “Cultural Liturgies” project. (That is, he will, we’ve heard, summarize in readable style his major works Desiring the Kingdom and Imaging the Kingdom and what will be, someday, Embodying the Kingdom.)
No sooner did I hit post, and put that BookNotes newsletter up on Facebook, that I wished I had named a few more equally interesting, important, forthcoming works. The first few months of 2016 are going to be exciting for book lovers, at least the sort of readers that follow BookNotes, so I felt badly not naming a few other equally anticipated titles.
Perhaps you might want to PRE-ORDER them here, now,
at our BookNotes 20% off promo. Just use the links to our secure order form, below.
We think you will enjoy reading about 12 more soon-to-be released titles. We are happy to announce these that are sure to please many of our customers and Hearts & Minds friends. We will have them as soon as anyone, and suspect that you might be delighted to be among the first to receive some of these. We’ll be shipping them as soon as they arrive. We’ll deduct the discount from the regular retail price shown but won’t bill you or use your credit card until we actually send them on their way to you. Okay?
Know anybody else you could forward this to? Happy New Year, ya know… Thanks for helping us spread the word.
We suspect most will actually be here a bit sooner then the announced date; in some cases, considerably earlier. Hooray. Ain’t it good to be a book lover?
To the Table: A Spirituality of Food, Farming, and Community Lisa Graham McMinn (Brazos Press) $19.99 due early January 2016 The minute I heard of this it catapulted to the top of my most-eagerly awaited list; McMinn is an expert writer, a woman I’ve read for years, whose books are good and true and lovely. When I saw the final copy of this, recently, I was just dazzled — nice illustrations bring to mind a Mollie Katzen cookbook, too, or some of our own old books like Lappe’s Diet for a Small Planet. This is an interesting, graceful call and practical guide to a slower (if sometimes demanding) local lifestyle, almost as if it is a follow-up to her very practical Walking Lightly on the Earth. To the Table includes stories from McMinn’s community near George Fox University, near Newberg, Oregon, including inspiring advice from the work she and her husband do with their CSA (including mouth-watering recipes!) Author/Mad Farmer Joel Salatin says it is about “dining devotionally” and Rachel Marie Stone (who wrote Eat with Joy) says it is a “warm and wise invitation to practice eating as a spiritual discipline.” Do you want more intention, compassion, gratitude? Are you interested in gardening, health, neighborly conviviality? To the Table is a gem, a gift, a sweet yet astute volume. Order it today!
Out of the House of Bread: Satisfying Your Hunger for God with the Spiritual Disciplines Preston Yancey (Zondervan) $18.99 due January 2016 This will be a lovely hardback and should become a treasured volume, but it remains to be seen if P. Yancey — Preston, not Philip — becomes well-known among us. We’re offering this as a pre-order for just this reason — it deserves to get some buzz right away. His wonderful spiritual memoir about being a Southern Baptist Texan who fell in love with “reading saints, crossing himself, and high church spirituality” called Tables in the Wilderness: A Memoir of God Found, Lost, and Found Again, was an unsung treasure of 2014. Yancey is an alumnus of Baylor University, is in the process of being ordained a priest in the Anglian Church of North America, after having complete an Master in Theology from St. Andrews in Scotland. He is currently serving as a Canon Theologian, so he’s a smart cookie, but he is also — as you will discover in this wonderful new book — a baker. This is, in many ways, a spirituality of baking, even if it is mostly structured around meditations upon and guidance in the classic spiritual disciplines. I’ve already marked up by advanced review copy! Brother Yancey may be a modern day Brother Lawrence, himself a baker who “practiced the presence of God” in his kitchen. An appendix includes information about gluten free breads, as well as suggested readings and artwork for contemplation — from suggested icons to paintings from artists as diverse as Rembrandt, He Qi, Marc Chagall and Mako Fujimura. This is a great book.
My Name Is Lucy Barton: A Novel Elizabeth Strout (Random House) $26.00 due early January 2016 I haven’t laid eyes on this yet, but it is a 208-page, wonderful-looking hardback with deckled edge paper due out soon by the esteemed author of Olive Kitteridge. Olive Kitteridge, a connecting set of stories that came out in 2007, and subsequently won the Pulitzer Prize, was one of the most popular novels around a few years back. Wonderful! This new one, My Name is Lucy Barton, will surely be one of the most discussed novels of 2016. It is said to be a profound exploration of the mother-daughter bond which begins when a woman in the hospital is visited by her estranged mother. SIgnificant things from the past come up, tender things are poignantly drawn, and her great gift of portraying redemption within the ordinary will surely make this an acclaimed novel, one of the most eagerly awaited of the year. Pre-order it today and, as with the others, get 20% off.
The Justice Calling: Where Passion Meets Perseverance Bethany Hanke Hoang & Kristen Deede Johnson (Brazos Press) $19.99 due January 2016 Just when I thought we didn’t need any more books on the topic of social justice, I learned of this forthcoming work by two seasoned activists and educators, and — wow! — am I ever excited. Bethany Hoang, by the way, is a person we’ve crossed paths with often; she has an MDiv from Princeton and is the director of the Institute for Biblical Justice at IJM (International Justice Mission) giving her the right to be heard, as much as anyone I can think of. This is going to be an amazing book by a really important writer! Kristen Johnson (with a PhD from St. Andrews) is a professor of theology and Christian formation at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan. She is known as a wise guide, passionate about the interface of theological formation, spiritual growth, cultural engagement and social action, and vocational discernment. Putting theses two scholars/leaders together is a stroke of genius!
Here is what Nicholas Wolterstorff says of The Justice Calling:
Many books on justice have appeared in recent years. Three things make this one stand out from the crowd. First, instead of quoting only a few golden nuggets from Scripture, the authors trace the theme of justice throughout Scripture. Second, they give concreteness to their discussion with harrowing true-life stories of present day sex trafficking and slavery. And third, they explicitly address the need of those who struggle for justice, patience, lament and hope. An important contribution.
I like that Bethany’s mentor, Gary Haugen, has an endorsement as well, saying,
There is much joy to be found as we follow God into his work of justice, so much strength to be gained in the Scripture’s that he’s given to us. The Justice Calling takes us deep into all these gifts. As we face down the giants of injustice in the season ahead, this is a book I’d urge every follower of Jesus to dig into and carry close at hand.
American’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America Jim Wallis (Brazos Press) $21.99 due mid January 2016 One may not agree with everything Sojourners magazine and ministry does, but I am more than eager to promote this particular resource and encourage you to pre-order it right away. We’ve known and watched Wallis since before they moved to DC (hands up if you recall The Post American, published out of their radical community in Deerfield in the early 70s) and we hosted him here at our bookstore ages ago. “America’s original sin” of racism is surely one of Jim’s strong passions and a topic about which he has been consistently outspoken for decades and decades, starting when, as a high school student, he wandered from his own local evangelical congregation into Detroit’s blazing inner city.
Wallis has over the years come to know many black leaders and has submitted himself to some of the best former leaders and students of the old civil rights movement, as well as many of the rising young activists in the post-Ferguson years. American’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America will be a major work, and we hope you and your circle of friends consider it carefully. There will be a forward by Bryan Stevenson, author (as if I have to tell you, of Just Mercy.) Kudos. Coming soon!
Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism Drew G.I. Hart (Herald Press) due mid January 2016 $16.99 Well, one might say that it is unfortunate for a first-time author on an indie press (Herald Press is a long-standing, but smallish Mennonite publishing house) to release a book about racism the same day as one by progressive rock star and best selling author Jim Wallis. I’d guess this is not lost on Drew himself. But there are many reasons why you should pre-order this right away, and get ready to read it when it comes out.
Yes, I will admit, we have a personal connection to this author and some of his story, so we sincerely want to get a buzz going on this; a few good book clubs and adult classes using it would generate word-of-mouth interest. Please don’t hesitate to order extras from us — we’d appreciate it because we really do want to support this book. You see, Drew Hart is an old friend, a young African American leader formerly of Harrisburg, PA. He worked at near-by Messiah College, in fact, and was on staff with the CCO. (I might have even sold him some of the books cited in this new book.) He is currently a respected speaker, leader, blogger (his blog Taking Jesus Seriously is hosted by the Christian Century) and is a PhD theology candidate working on social ethics at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. His experience of being a young black man within a largely white and rural evangelical denominational culture (the Brethren in Christ) and as a student in a largely white, mainline Protestant seminary, has given him an array of insights and a unique angle of vision. HIs Anabaptist influences are evident as well, making this a strong, interesting, important paperback. Drew Hart is a rising voice you need to know. Trouble I’ve Seen is a book you should get.
Hart asks, “What if racial reconciliation doesn’t look like what you expect?” Given the high-profile killings of young black men and the recent uprisings and culture-wide conversations on race and white privilege, the time is ripe for fresh and young voices alongside older ones like Wallis. D.G.I. Hart challenges white and black Christians about their assumptions and practices, in ways that are compelling and interesting. He tells much of his own story, here, and it is a book I highly, highly recommend. There’s a very good foreword by Christena Cleveland. Kudos to Herald Press, props to Drew.
As Shane Claiborne writes, of Trouble I’ve Seen,
This book is a gift from the heart of one of the sharpest young theologians in the United States. Hold it carefully, and allow it to transform you — and our blood-stained streets.
Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious David Dark (IVP Books) $20.00 due February 2016 I do hope you know the brilliant and provocative writing of David Dark (such as his insightful and fun study of pop culture, Everyday Apocalypse; his pained love letter to these United States, The Gospel According to America; or the one I have a little endorsing blurb in, right next to a rave by Eugene Peterson, The Sacredness of Questions Everything.) Dark writes like a manic prophet at times, creative in thought and word, living righteously in word and deed. Charles Marsh in a rave review mentions his “luminous reckonings with the real” — how’s that for a book endorsement! This passionate book is, I gather, a hip and thoughtful guide to faith for smart seekers and skeptics.
These “strange negotiations” are sure to help us all craft a more sustainable sense of meaning, but will be particularly good for the “spiritual but not religious” fans of the likes of the high brow New Yorker or the edgy Pitchfork. He wrote it for just such thoughtful seekers. As Sara Zarr — herself nominated for the National Book Award — writes of it, “A bracing manifesto for modern people and an optimism-infused love song to humanity.” Charles Marsh calls it a “irresistible triumph.” David’s an amazing guy, and this book is going to be life-giving and intellectually important for some. Maybe you know somebody you can give it to? You really ought to pre-order it, so you have is promptly!
Medieval Wisdom for Modern Christians: Finding Authentic Faith in a Forgotten Age with C.S. Lewis Chris R. Armstrong (Brazos Press) $19.99 due February 2016 My, my, what can I say about this? I’ve not seen it yet, but it is very high on my own personal waiting list, and I’m confident it will be one of the more fascinating and useful books of the season. (I think the last major work I read on the Middle Ages was a lovely one by Thomas Cahill.) This one is going to be fantastic!
Firstly, I might note that Chris Armstrong wrote an earlier book that I just loved which in some ways is similar in approach and effect, with the great title Patron Saints for Postmoderns: Ten from the Past Who Speak to Our Future which showed off his knack for taking older writings and making their worth apparent and even urgent. (Dr. Armstrong is, by the way, editor of Christian History magazine, so knows what he’s writing about!) Here, he will be offering a similar project, helping us see the important middle ages stuff that C.S. Lewis himself read, realizing the significance of the previous centuries which in which Lewis famously immersed himself. This is a curious, cool idea of a book that will certainly be enjoyed by not only those interested in church history, but by Lewis fans as well.
“Too many evangelical views of church history,” the publicity about the book tells us, “leave out the medieval period.” Tapping into current interest in ancient studies, though, Armstrong explores in Medieval Wisdom for Modern Christians the Middle Ages — in conversation with Lewis. How cool is that? If all you know about the medieval world is what you’ve seen in Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail, you know you need this book. If all you know about Lewis is that he was super smart and a bit dusty, well, this will help you get the fuller picture of his own loves and influences. If you are a church leader wondering how the contemporary issues of the modern world might ever be explored with depth and deep wisdom, this will help too. Armstrong himself is a leader in the faith/work conversations, currently directing a special collegiate program called Opus: The Art of Work. He also serves as a senior editor of the on-line Patheos faith and work channel. He holds a PhD from Duke University and is a friend of Hearts & Minds. Kudos!
The Future of Our Faith: An Intergenerational Conversation on Critical Issues Facing the Church Ronald J. Sider and Ben Lowe (Brazos Press) $18.99 due February 2016 Ron Sider is a friend and mentor and hero. I’ve read all of his many books, and encourage you to dig into his old ones and recent ones. You will find a passionate believe who is courteous and careful, impeccable in his evangelical faith and eager to be Christ-like and Biblical in his social ethics and political advocacy. Ben Lowe is a younger friend, a young adult leader in the faith-based effort to be better at creation care and environmental stewardship, especially around issues related to climate change. Ben even ran for office a few years ago, and wrote a fine, fine book about enduring in faith and patience even while attempting to make a difference in the world. I love him!
In this forthcoming book, the two leaders — one now in retirement, one truly rising in prominence — chat about what changes await their beloved evangelical tradition, and how gospel-centered ministry is changing in the new era we find ourselves in. From marriage, homosexuality, creation-care, politics and more, these gentlemen not only highlight difference between them, but develop insight that is useful for any church or para-church ministry, eager to be the church always reforming, but equally committed to fidelity to the ancient truths handed down. What a edifying and worthwhile time you will have listening in on this wide-ranging conversation! More, what an important model we see here as they cultivate an intentional, charitable, and much-needed intergenerational dialogue. Pre-order this today, but please: consider ordering more than one. The Future of Our Faith is a book that is really going to be useful!
Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme David Kinnaman & Gabe Lyons (Baker Books) $19.99 due early March 2016 This is truly one of the most anticipated titles of 2016. I’m very excited as both authors — guys I count as friends and supporters — will be at the CCOs 2016 Pittsburgh Jubilee Conference. This forthcoming book will officially be launched nation-wide at the 2016 Q Commons events in March. You can pre-order it now, and I hope you do. The last book they did together is still commonly cited as it explored the research done by the Barna Group on how young outsiders to the church think about the faith. (That was, of course, called Unchristian and remains a best seller.) After that amazing and provocative study, they each wrote their own books, both of which we’ve sold well over the years: Lyons did the excellent The Next Christians and Kinnaman did You Lost Me. Both are really, really good.
It is fabulous that they are teaming up again, writing new stuff out of their years of experience helping others imagine and take next steps to live out faith in relevant and winsome and effective ways. If you’ve seen any of the extraordinary Q events curated and led by Gabe Lyons, or heard David Kinnaman in his many good presentations around the research his organization does, you know that these are talented communicators and thoughtful, energetic teachers. Agree or not with every detail, you simply must be aware of their work, and you will delight in reading any of their impressive books. I whole-heartedly endorse their efforts, and I’m sure Good Faith will be a great blessing. (I expect an early manuscript of it to arrive shortly, and I’ll be hard pressed not to take the day off work the minute it arrives to dive in, with pen in hand.) I’ll be writing more about it, I’m sure.
Their forthcoming volume Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme will ask us how Christians can be culturally engaged and faithful to the gospel, proposing fresh insights based on extensive new research equipping us to be firm about our deepest convictions without being defensive or judgmental. Can we both challenge the direction of culture and still be clear we are committed to serving the common good? Can we learn to understand the heart behind opposing view and learn how to stay friends with others, despite differences? Can we hold with confidence our religious convictions without being toxic or alienating to others? This is going to help us love others, care for the culture, deepen our desires to help renew and restore the brokenness around us and honor God in gracious and effective ways. May it be widely read, and widely discussed. Pre-order it today!
Create vs. Copy: Embracing Change, Ignite Creativity, Break Through with Imagination Ken Wytsma (Moody Press) $14.99 due March 2016 This small hardback is one I am sure to read as soon as I can. Books about creativity are everywhere these days — tapping into a mostly wholesome cultural ethos of wanting to be entrepreneurial, inventive, generative, or at least a bit clever in finding one’s own signature style as we pass through our days. There’s a reason that these kinds of guides to increasing our own capacities to be creative are enjoyed by so many.
But, yet, good as many are, I suspect something less then substantive about some of them. Not so with this: Wytsma is President of the Kiln’s College, and his last book, 2015’s The Grand Paradox: The Messiness of Life, the Mystery of God, and the necessity of Faith was said to be, by the brilliant Nicholas Wolterstorff, one of the best treatments of faith that he ever read! (Okay, here is exactly what Nick said: The Grand Paradox is “Thoroughly honest, never evasive, free of clichés, deeply Christian, encouraging rather than scolding in its tone, it is the most perceptive and helpful discussion of faith that I know of.” Wytsma’s Pursuing Justice: The Call to Live and Die for Bigger Things emerged from his own innovative efforts starting the groundbreaking Justice Conference, and is fantastic. What I mean to say is that he is a extraordinary thinker, an important leader, a fine writer, and he has earned the right to be listened to, to be heard; you should consider reading anything he does!
If this forthcoming one offers some background insight about how he does his thing — wow! if he shares with us how to be a big more creative, not merely copying what is in vogue, then bring it on! I trust him, and we should be rejoicing for any assistance he can give us, especially about how to enhance our imagination.
Here’s what the Moody Press catalog says about Create vs. Copy:
This short, punchy book blends theology, history, and cultural observation to lead you toward a healthy, confident, more innovative life mindset. It celebrates the good news of your God-given capacity to create and help you harness it to take charge of your life, navigating changing times, and, ultimately, flourish and succeed.
This will be a book of beauty, grace, and energy,and sounds like it will be very useful to many, from ordinary readers to professional artists and designers, and especially to leaders of organizations, ministries, and nonprofits.
Thumbprint in the Clay: Divine Marks of Beauty, Order and Grace Luci Shaw (IVP Books) $17.00 due April 2016 I hope you know the wonderful writer, Luci Shaw, who has spent a lifetime working publishing, offering many volumes of poems and good books of thoughtful prose. Her most recent nonfiction works have included books about aging and the spirituality of her own “ascent.” She is an author and person we esteem and enjoy, and we hope you do to. She is one of the best.
This new one is a rumination on God’s own thumbprint found in all things. It is, she says, “for me a singular clue to human identity.” God is, of course, the creative and ever-creating One. The publicity about the book reminds us that “We reflect God’s imprint most clearly, perhaps, in our own creating and appreciation for beauty. A longing for beauty is inherent to being human.” Is there some sense in which beauty is redemptive?
Novelist Brett Lott writes,
Luci Shaw is a treasure, and Thumbprints in the Clay shows us again precisely why: this book is wise beyond measure, the writing beautiful beyond compare, and its heart a reflection of the one true God… This is a beautiful, ruminative and necessary book.
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