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The other night we had almost 20 guests in the shop, students from Shippensburg University, brought over here by their friendly CCO campus ministers. It’s an event we host from time to time, having local Christian students in for a program about the spirituality of reading, the need to read well to nurture the Christian mind, to think faithfully about their studies, their majors, and more. Maybe I talked a little too long, but we so enjoyed these eager learners, reflecting on their callings, buying Christian books.
For what it is worth — forgetting in the moment that it was the eve of both the March for Science and Earth Day — I mentioned Psalm 119:91 which affirms the laws of God in nature and declaring that “all things are Thy servants.” I invited them to think about the “things” they use and study — a graphic calculator for an accounting major, a stethoscope for a nursing major, an anthology of Brit lit for an English major, a bit of programming for a computer science major, a book about early childhood development, the excellent espresso machine from Denim Coffee in Carlisle — all things which the Psalmist says are to be understood as servants of the Lord. How exciting to think we are touching holy things. Who knows, maybe in our ordinary work we are fulfilling Zechariah 14:20 where it says the ordinary pots and pans will be as holy as the altar ware in the Temple.
I mentioned to the students that Psalm 111:2 goes further, and says we should ponder God’s stuff in the world, even taking delight in it. A person of faith can find delight in anything if we find it related to the good reign of God, so that’s the project: seeing how the things of our daily lives (and our studies if we are students), the tools of our trades, can be servants of God, which is to say, servants of the common good — since we show our devotion to God by loving our neighbor. Do things — material things like a telescope or an artist’s paintbrush or an engineering project, or more culturally-developed things, like a marriage or a health clinic or a school or a business or a new public policy — serve God? Do these things serve the greater good, helping society flourish in ways that are touched by shalom? And can we learn to take delight in studying them?
Well, Beth and I have staked our lives and our livelihood on it.
We assume that people of faith will want to study the things God has made and that reading books about the nature of different aspects of God’s world — politics, cooking, science, art, family life, engineering, health-care, education, economics, architecture, sexuality and more — can be woven into the spiritual practices of ordinary church folks.
That is, our Hearts & Minds is a bookstore which exists not just to equip church folks for churchy things (although that’s certainly part of it) but all folks for all things. (As Os Guinness puts it in his must-read meditation The Call, it is “everyone, everywhere in everything.” ) We buy and read books not just to nurture our interior spiritual lives nor just for our congregational church lives, but to figure out the whole-life implications of Psalm 119:91 and Psalm 111:2 and Romans 12:1-2 and Colossians 1:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 5:10 and all the other mandates in the Bible to study and read and learn, slowly developing the “mind of Christ” which shows forth a wise awareness of all things being servants of the Lord and taking delight in them.
It is no accident, I suppose, that I was drawn to share a handful of Psalms with these students who came to learn about learning and do some late night shopping. I’ve been teaching a class in my church about the Psalms and have read out loud large chunks of N. T. Wright’s wonderful paperback The Case for the Psalms: Why They Are Essential. His important overview of the Psalter is helpful to understand the Psalms — email me if you want a list of some other good resources — but a main point is that praying these poems over and over roots us in the story of God, a past of God’s great deeds, a present of great sorrow and turbulence, and a trust in the promises that have been somewhat fulfilled in the death and resurrection of David’s heir, Christ Jesus. And yet, the story isn’t over, and we even now live in a “now but not yet” sort of world. We have to work at “seeing” life through the lens of faith, relating God’s redemptive story to all of life. The Psalms are not the only place the Bible talks about thinking or work or pondering the great wonders of God, but they are evocative and helpful.
Re-reading this Wright book about nurturing a truly Biblical worldview by way of the Psalter was a good reminder about why we have this bookstore. We want to resource folks to relate faith to all of life, and, as the students reminded us the other night, we all need all the help we can get. It is not, in this idolatrous culture, in this fallen world, self-evident that all things are servants of God. It is not simple to know the implications of a seeing that we live in a God-centered world for, say, the ethics of technology or the quandary of health care or the best way to thing about gender or how to bring the peace of Christ to the warring nations. Being a Christian butcher, baker, candlestick maker — or, shall we say, aerospace engineer, stay at home dad, high school teacher, EMT, salesperson, abstract artist or farmer — isn’t simple. We are called to think and pray and talk with others as we “work out our salvation” before God. Because all things are God’s servants and we are to ponder and take delight in God’s stuff.
Only after my spiel about serving God in all things, using our minds, taking delight in the real data of real creation — what the secularists call “nature” — and studying it well did it dawn on me that it was the eve of Earth Day, the eve of the Marches for Science.
I wish I would have made the overt connection that Christians should agree with the premise of these public witnesses, and that we should rejoice that some of our brothers and sisters in Christ were involved in bearing witness at those events. God cares about good science and protecting the ecology of the creation, by using wise insight and solid thinking. Yes, and yes.
So, to play our little part to help you deepen your thinking after hearing about all this stuff about science and earth-keeping in the news these last few days, here is a Hearts & Minds special sale.
As is often the case, we will do this for three days only (the sale expires on Wednesday, April 26th) and can only provide these promotional items for free while supplies last. We’re happy to give away some books, but our supply is limited. Why don’t you visit our order form page right away?
A BOOK ON THE CHRISTIAN MIND — BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE
BUY The Transforming Vision: Shaping a Christian World View Brian Walsh & J. Richard Middleton (IVP Academic) $22.00 I have often said that this sweeping study of the history of the dualism between what we sometimes call “the sacred and the secular” and the secularizing rise of Enlightenment rationalism driven by the idols of scientism and faith in economic progress, literally changed my life. Anytime folks ask me for the most important books in our store, this one invariably comes up. This Biblically-informed call to a wholistic Christian worldview — good creation, radical fall, wholistic redemption, future restoration — came to influence N.T. Wright, and it mirrors the Biblical teaching of Al Wolter’s Creation Regained: The Biblical Basis for a Reformational Worldview, with whom they studied, but adds a lot of scholarship about the need for a a Christian social imagination, the Christian mind, an engagement with the ideas and structures of the culture, and even a rousing call at the end to consider reading interdisciplinary, even taking up Christian philosophy. I think Transforming Vision is an excellent example of thoughtful Christian scholarship for the sake of the common good and you will be know more about your world, your faith, and be more eager to read widely once you’ve processed it.
If you are interested in how this transformational vision relates to the fast-changing world of postmodernity, in light of some of the prophetic pomo voices of our time, see their powerful sequel, Truth Is Stranger Than It Used to Be: Biblical Faith in a Postmodern Age, another remarkably important book that illustrated a thoughtful Christian worldview that tells the story of Western culture and its idols, and how a Biblical view might provide healing, hopeful answers to our cultural dismay and angst. I know it’s a bit heady, but this is important, passionate stuff and a good antidote to shallow, personalized faith or anti-intellectualism among God’s people. Really, both books are very important, by two gentleman I greatly admire. Very highly recommended.
AND GET THIS FREE: Your Mind’s Mission Greg Jao (IVP) $7.00 I mention this to college students quite often, but, you know, I wish non-students would read it, too, as it offers a wholistic vision of a transformed worldview, a thoughtful process of learning to think well, and a call to see our ideas shaped in ways that they become missional.
This great little book mentions Hearts & Minds, I’ll admit, but I admire Greg for so many other reasons. This short book (just a booklet, really) is dynamite, and the implications he suggests in its powerful pages are life-changing. I promise you that readers will learn something new or be challenged to make connections they’ve not realized before.
We’ll send it for free if you buy either of the above-mentioned Walsh & Middleton books.
A BOOK ON FAITH & SCIENCE — BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE
BUY The Language of Science and Faith: Straight Answers to Genuine Questions Karl W. Giberson & Francis S. Collins (IVP Books/BioLogos) $22.00 We have written from time to time about this book, always listing it on bibliographies we do about the sciences. We are fond of it and want to encourage you to get it, perhaps to share with someone who has somehow heard that religious people are disinterested in science, or that evangelicals are anti-science.
Given that the March for Science has been in the news, this is a good time to order a book like this.
We have more specialized books in this field, of course, such as serious studies of the philosophy of science (I’d suggest starting with Science and Its Limits: The Natural Sciences in Christian Perspective by Del Ratzch) or academic work on the conflict between healthy views of science and the secularized ideology of scientism — see Alvin Plantinga’s brilliant Oxford University Press volume Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism. There are good books that explore origins questions from a variety of faith-based views, and healthy, mature studies of all kinds helping Christians wisely relate faith to their views of the sciences.
Just out this week, in fact, is a major tome called the Dictionary of Christianity and Science: The Definitive Reference for the Intersection of Christian Faith and Contemporary Science edited by Paul Copan, Tremper Longman, Christopher Reese, and Michael Strauss (Zondervan; $59.99.) Weighing in at over 750 pages, with over 400 entries and a top-notch lineup of over 120 contributions (some who are scientists or other STEM-related practitioners, some Biblical scholars, some theologians, some philosophers) this looks like a major work. It has multi-view discussions, too, making it, as one reviewer put it, “sparkle with passion, controversy, and diverse perspectives.”
For starters, though,The Language of Science and Faith: Straight Answers to Genuine Questions by Collins and Giberson, done under the auspices of the BioLogos Foundation is a real winner, good for any interested reader, a lovely, inspiring, helpful book arranged in an easy-to-understand Q & A format. One may not agree with all of it, but it’s a fine, fine resource.
I suppose you know that Dr. Collins is considered one of the leading scientists of our time, a pioneer in genetic studies and the former Director of project to map the human genome. In the Obama administration he served as the director of the NIH and is truly one of our heroes of contemporary faith. He wrote the New York Times bestseller The Language of God, one on genetics called The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine, and a wonderful reader of primary source writings designed for seekers or the non-religious called Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith. He founded The BioLogos Foundation as a think-tank and movement to help Christians relate faith to science, depending the faith/science conversation.
Karl Giberson (PhD, physics) is an internationally known scholar, speaker and writer. He has written or coauthored nine books and lectured on science and religion at the Vatican, Oxford University, London’s Thomas Moore Institute and many prestigious American venues including MIT and The Harvard Club. Dr. Giberson has published more than two hundred reviews and essays, both technical and popular, in outlets that include the New York Times, The Guardian, USA Today, Los Angles Times and Salon.com. He is a regular contributor to the public dialogue on science and faith, and has appeared on NPR.
Dr. Tim Johnson, Senior medical contributor for ABC News (and author of Finding God in the Questions) might overstate it a little, but catches something vital about the importance of The Language of Science and Faith when he says,
This book is destined to become a classic for those who, with an open mind, are willing to seriously wrestle with questions about the relationship of modern science with Christian faith. It is not for the faint of heart but is a treasure trove for those willing to dig deep into this critical subject.
Listen to Dr. Owen Gingerich of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and author of, among other titles, God’s Universe and God’s Planet (both published by Harvard University Press) as he endorses this volume:
Two challenging languages, one old and wise, one modern and awesome. Two very different accounts of human origins. Can the book of Scripture and the book of nature both be true in the age of science? We need sympathetic and enlightening interpreters. Happily Giberson and Collins here offer a guide to the perplexed that is reverent, relevant and very well-informed.
AND GET THIS FREE God in the Lab: How Science Enhances Faith Ruth M. Bancewicz (Monarch) $16.99 First published in the UK, we are so glad to stock this book, happy about it for several reasons. And we’re happy to send you a free one with a purchase of one of the above mentioned science books.
Dr. Ruth Bancewicz is a Senior Research Associate at The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion at Cambridge University. She explains in this book that science work can be “unglamorous and tough” but it gives its practitioners an opportunity to be fully human, to bring appreciation for imagination and wonder into their work. This is such a rich insight and it comes not from a pundit or theologian, but a working scientists, who experiences scientific research and explains what it is like “in the lab” as it where. In this good paperback she brings in six other scientists and narrates their stories as well. Dr. Deborah Haarsma — a respected astronomer with a PhD from MIT and now President of BioLogos — says that God in the Lab “brings a fresh and much-needed emphasis on wonder to conversations about science and Christian faith.”
As Dr. John Polkinghorne, a beloved Anglican priest and former world-class astrophysicist, puts it,
Ruth Bancewicz shows how creativity, beauty, wonder, and awe are essential experiences in scientific investigation. She demonstrates that there is no great discontinuity between science and other human questions for truth, including religion.
The foreword is by another brilliant scholar with a couple of advanced PhDs in science and also in theology, the great Alister McGrath. Whoever says there is a conflict between faith and science is not paying attention. McGrath’s solid endorsement illustrates that this is so. Get it free, while supplies last.
A BOOK ABOUT FAITH & ENVIRONMENTAL CARE — BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE
Again, this is a topic that is close to our heart, and one I’ve written about before. We’ve listed new books as they come out in this field and have offered ruminations and longer books lists, for example, here. We’re grateful that my mom had an interest in Rachel Carson and took our youth group at church to pick up litter on the very first Earth Day.
BUY For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care Steven Bouma-Prediger (Baker Academic) $26.00 It is hard to pick just one favorite book in this field. We often recommend for starters, Tending to Eden: Environmental Stewardship for God’s People by old friend Scott Sabin, and we have enjoyed telling readers that are new to the topic about Serving God, Saving the Planet: A Call to Care for Creation and Your Soul by Matthew Sleeth. We highly respect the seriously thoughtful work of Introducing Evangelical Ecotheology: Foundations in Scripture, Theology, History, and Praxis by Daniel Brunner, Jennifer Butler, and A.J. Swoboda. And anyone wanting to get behind all this with good, Biblically-informed thinking should make it a priority to work through Norman Wirzba’s potent little book edited by James K.A. Smith, From Nature to Creation: A Christian Vision for Understanding and Loving Our World. If you want a really, really practical, down-to-Earth Biblical overview, see one that Dr. Wirzba co-wrote with farmer Fred Bahnson called Making Peace with the Land: God’s Call to Reconcile with Creation. It is mostly about food and eating, and shows how a good creation-care theology can influence our day to day lifestyle.
But, having said all that, I come back time and again to the brilliant, must-read work by Bouma-Prediger. He is a professor of religion at Hope College who has specialized in faith-based theology that pushes us to creation care. He has several major volumes on theologians who have done this kind of work (one published by Oxford called The Greening of Theology: The Ecological Models of Rosemary Radford Ruether, Joseph Stiller, and Jurgen Moltmann.) Yet, his For the Beautify of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care, is a masterwork, both accessible to non-scholars and yet serious enough to be nearly all you need to know. The back cover puts it well: Bouma-Prediger “argues that authentic CHristian faith requires ecological obedience, and he urges Christians to acknowledge their responsibility and privilege as stewards of the Earth.” The book has been re-issued in an expanded second edition that brought scientific and environmental research up to date.
In these days of worsening climate change realities and derailed policy in Washington, it is more urgent than ever to read up. We highly recommend this thoughtful resource. For the Beauty of the Earth is simply excellent, very creatively written, what one reviewer calls an attractive tour de force.
I like what Richard Mouw calmly states:
An important book. Steven Bouma-Prediger combines theological depth with ecological savvy to issue a profound call to environmental discipleship. He makes his case in a way that both informs and inspires!
AND GET THIS FREE Caring for Creation: The Evangelicals Guide to Climate Change and a Healthy Environment Mitch Hescox & Paul Douglas (Bethany House) $14.99 Yep, these authors are the dynamic duo that we hosted in the store when this book first came out last fall, and we’re still smiling about how fun it was. Paul Douglas is a world-class meteorologist who happened to have invented some meteorology Doppler-type computer gadget that Stephen Spielberg used in Jurassic Park and Twister (and in which Paul made a cameo.) We have never had a Hollywood blockbuster actor in the store, but more importantly, his scientific discussion about global climate change and the energy crisis was fascinating, helpful, inspiring, even. To have a humble Christian man at the top of his professional field visiting with us and his friend and co-author Mitch Hescox — a United Methodist pastor, former global energy corporation executive, and now full time Director of the Evangelical Environmental Network — was one of the highlights of our year. You can read about it here.
These two co-authors of this fine little book have brought new vigor to this topic, explained things in a balanced and fair-minded way, and invited people of Christian conviction to live out their faith by being involved in some way working to care for the planet. The book is overtly Christian and the authors are themselves fairly conservative both theologically and politically. No matter what you know about the issue or where you may stand on the economics of this topic, you will surely appreciate much that these guys bring to the discussion.
We are thrilled to promote it, and, for these next few days only, we’re happy to give it away with the purchase of one of the above mentioned environmental science books.
So, how’s that, friends? For the next three days, until end of day Wednesday, April 26, 2017, we will give you the free book mentioned that is paired with the one you purchase. Read the offer carefully for the explanation. This offer is good while supplies last. We hope you enjoy this free book option. Thanks for caring about good books, surely some of the things that Psalm 119 says are servants of the Lord.
offer expires April 26, 2017 order here
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