Here we go again: 13 Great Books ON SALE at 30% off — for THREE DAYS ONLY

Okay, that was fun.

The BookNotes 30% off post-Jubilee clearance sale, that is. Some good folks send us the most moving notes thanking us for the sermon about “all of life redeemed” and living into the big story of God’s people being used to bring restoration and healing to all of life. And our exuberant description of the CCO’s Jubilee conference, the need for serious reading so we can learn to walk in the new Kingdom way of the Lord in our time; we have some thinking to do and books matter. We’re glad you encouraged us to keep inviting folks to be readers.

The sale brought us some extra business this week and we are glad; that’s the cash-flow businessy thing that we sometimes don’t pay enough attention to. We love authors and books, but try not to worry about “the books” and, alas, end up needing to drum up some extra customer attention sometimes.

We’re glad for those who are loyal to us and who allow us to offer a story about books and reading and to regularly suggest a selection of stimulating authors; we so appreciate those who seem to think we help them in their journey. They read BookNotes and send us orders as they get a hankering. They get their churches or organizations or moms and dads to order from us, and we are grateful.

We are equally glad for those that are only able to send us nice notes – it truly helps – or those that are waiting for those larger discounts and bigger savings from time to time. We are glad for those occasional customers, too, and understand that we all need some extra savings sometimes. Thank you for your orders this last week, especially.

Since it was fun keeping our mail-out specialist extra busy – Diana packs your books with immense care and good cheer — let’s just do it again.

Without too much bluster or detail, let me commend these vital books, all, for a very limited time, at 30% off.


Here’s the deal: to get the 30% off, you have to order more than one from the list. Buy two or more of the books shown and get 30% off. Otherwise it’s a complimentary 10% off.

So here’s round two: OUR NEW THREE-DAY SALE while supplies last. This offer expires midnight Sunday March 11, 2018. You’ve got Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for the deep discount deal and then it’s back to 10% off for any of these.

Use the secure order form link below, which will take you to our secure order form page. Just tell us what you want and we’ll confirm via email, doing the discount, sending by USPS. We usually send the cheapest manner, but you can instruct us otherwise — whatever you prefer, just tell us. 

Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate: Crafting a Hand-Made Faith in a Mass Market World John J. Thompson (Zondervan) $15.99  Maybe you recall my vary lively review of this when I described it here at BookNotes in great detail, saying how much fun it was and how very right he is about so much. It is a book about Christian discipleship and whole-life faith formation, but, more obviously, it is a well- written book with chapters about bread baking, beer making, good quality chocolate, and “the best coffee I ever had.” Yep, it is about artisanal culture, from indie music to the DIY “maker” scene. A bunch of the Jubilee students love it, and pass it out to their peers.

There are chapters with titles like “Time Began in a Garden” and “Seeking God’s Table.” He admonishes us not only to enjoy life, to make something of the stuff around us – shades of Andy Crouch’s Culture Making, there – but to also “help someone less fortunate craft their own story.” There’s a few big-picture pieces about “Civilization, Reformation, Discernment and Beer” and some really interesting stories about his own journey in the thoughtfully, underground corners of contemporary Christian music. It covers a lot of ground and tells some lovely stories.

All of this lush description about real, analog life, this call to “hand-crafted” faith, is a colorful, aesthetically-rich invitation to resist the mass marketed nature of modern living and, interestingly, the overly mass-marketed approach to Christian living, spirituality and discipleship, as well. There’s something here for everyone and it’s a blast to read. And, without being heavy handed, it offers up some very important stuff about incarnation, individuality, good taste, and embodied spirituality.  Cheers!

Reconstructing The Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (IVP) $20.00v I have read all the other books that Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove has written and he is a thoughtful theologian, serious activist, great storyteller, and a very good author. You may know that, somewhat like his friend Shane Claiborne, he grew up fundamentalist, went to Eastern University and with the help of thoughtful evangelicals there grew into a faith that is Biblically orthodox, prayerful, and deeply committed to a rule of life that includes community living, nurturing a sense of place, serving others, standing with the marginalized and oppressed, and worshiping humbly amongst a diverse family of believers. He has told much of his own story in several other books, all which I recommend heartily.

This new one just arrived and although I had the chance to dip in to an advanced copy, I can’t say I’ve studied it carefully. It deserves our full attention and I promise I will be reading it carefully. It has a coveted starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and there is an important forward by The Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II.

Jonathan, who was raised in the Bible Belt, says, “I’m a man torn in two. And the gospel I inherited is divided.”

He links his own reconstruction to the era of Reconstruction after the Civil War, and wonders about the sort of racial blindness that held sway – and still does – particularly in the American southland.

Drew Hart, author of the powerful The Trouble I’ve Seen says:

Reconstructing the Gospel is an honest reckoning with the mangled, slaveholding religion that continues to pass for the gospel in the United States. It is not self-righteous or accusatory. Instead, Jonathan vulnerably grapples with his own ongoing repentance of white supremacy’s powerful grip. Ultimately, this book is an invitation into the river that has been flowing for centuries in this land, providing a past and present counterwitness to the vandalization of Jesus’ name.

Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America Jennifer Harvey (Abingdon Press) $22.99  This is a book many of us have been waiting for. Let me be brief and to the point: few books of which we are familiar are at once this theologically astute, radical in their approach to racial justice, and yet practical as a handbook for parents who need help raising their children. Professor Harvey has been writing about racial justice for decades (and most recently did the heavy, prophetic, Dear White Christians published by Eerdmans.) She is an ordained minister in the American Baptist Church.

Jennifer Harvey’s book has been called “brilliant” and “astonishing” and “required reading.” As Saira Rao, co-founder of In This Together Media says, “If you’re white and have a kid (or have ever been a kid), please read this book.”

Listen to Diana Butler Bass:

Jennifer Harvey’s brilliant work and passion for racial justice come alive on every page. Raising White Kids is a theory-rich, practical guide with wonderfully helpful examples that will equip parents to navigate today’s racial challenges with confidence and grace. For the millions of mothers and fathers who are deeply invested in creating a better tomorrow in an increasingly multi-cultural America, Harvey’s book couldn’t be more helpful or more needed right now.

There is a great endorsement on the back from Debby Irving, author of the very, very impressive Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race and she writes:

Raising White Kids is both an antidote to the racial ignorance and fear most white families unknowingly pass along to their young and a powerful way to call white adults into the process of racial awakening in the name of creating more just and functional communities for all. Buy this book for yourself, for your children’s teachers, and for all parents and grandparents of white children you know.

Kudos to Abingdon Press for doing some good books on race relations in the last year or two. This one is going to be discussed and used for a long time.

Love Big Be Well: Letters to a Small Town Church Winn Collier (Eerdmans) $16.99  We named this as one of the very best books of 2017 and celebrated it as my favorite novel of that year, too. It is a novel, a series of letters from a quiet but eloquent, down-to-Earth but very smart pastor of a cranky, lovely, fascinating, small-town, small church. I love the way pastor Eugene Peterson calls it “a tour de force” and continues:

…an angle on understanding the life of both congregation and pastor that exceeds anything I have ever read.

This is literate, enjoyable, funny, thought provoking, a story that will entertain and inspire any body who loves the church. Or those who don’t. This is a great little book, highly recommended.

Shalom Sistas: Living Wholeheartedly in a Brokenhearted World Osheta Moore, with a foreword by Sarah Bessey (Herald Press) $16.99  Osheta Moore is a great writer, an upbeat, passionate, contemporary black woman with a voice that is unforgettable. Her bio says that her work has been featured at Sojourners and SheLoves Magazine, A Deeper Story, The Art of Simple, ReKnew, and Rachel Held Evans’ blog. Men and women both have endorsed this upbeat book – Dennis Edwards says it is “Practical, engaged, theologically informed, poignant, and witty.” Christina Cleveland says that Moore has “a gift for blazing a path toward liberation, hope, and purpose.”  Maybe you saw her piece this fall in The Christian Century.

I was first struck that this Mennonite publisher was doing a book that got a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly which said, in part, “Fans of Anne Lamott and Nadia Bolz-Weber will be delighted with this new, exciting voice.”

We want to get her book out there so we’re adding it to this list of deeply discounted titles – it is fun and creative and just really good writing. Much is about justice and peace, race and inclusion, but there is stuff that is not only funny but also about humor and laughter. She loves Doctor Who. She quotes the elegant Barbara Brown Taylor and the powerful Ta-Nehisi Coates and the Biblically-solid N.T. Wright. It isn’t too many books – by black authors, no less – that start off with a major epigram from Sally Lloyd’s Jones’s The Jesus Storybook Bible and then cites Walt Brueggemans’s old UCC book on peace, Living Towards a Vision. This is strong, powerful stuff on peace and goodness and – although she lost me here – there’s a few pages of Sista Recipes. I’d have rather had a playlist, but there ya have it. Shalom Sistas. Gives new meaning to wholehearted!

New Worshipping Communities: A Theological Exploration Vera White & Charles Wiley (WJK) $20.00 This slim book deserves a bigger review later, but I have to list it here for a few quick reasons. It is a book that documents the theology of and the stories about the recent effort within the PC(USA) (that’s the mainline Presbyterians) to plant 1001 new congregations. That they call them “new worshipping communities” may bring to mind the Fresh Expressions movement and certainly indicates a missional vision, not just conventional church planting. Friends at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary have been a part of this and some of this book came out of a convocation that met there to draft documents and continue the conversation about this audacious move. Since this is our own denomination, we are thrilled to suggest that it seems like this new book is stellar, a fresh and helpful contribution to the growing literature on church start ups, planting, missional communities, fresh expressions, etcetera.

I am thrilled about this, too, because Vera White is a bit of a friend and one of my our dearest friends and a church he helped start up in Pittsburgh is one of the ones cited. Congrats to B.J. Woodworth and “The Open Door” community in the ‘burgh. We are delighted to see some of your story in this good little book. Whether one is a leader or member of a conventional mainline church or an evangelical church planter or a theological type pondering the meaning of these new expressions of worship springing up all over, New Worshipping Communities is a quick but potent read. Of course if you are a Presbyterian, it’s a no-brainer. You have to know these stories and this book is a great way into the latest move of God in our circles.

Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme David Kinnaman & Gabe Lyons (Baker) $15.99 That this book is co-produced by the Barna Organization and Q  is an indication that it is both research-based and creatively applied, both Biblical and deeply relevant. Kinnaman is the genius and dear man behind Barna and Gabe is the guy who puts together the Q Ideas events, high-class, TED-like gatherings for thoughtful Christians desiring to witness well in our contemporary culture. Both have a passion for equipping churches of all kinds (although they are both evangelical) for navigating the issues of the day, understanding facts and data, and moving towards a vision for cultural flourishing and the common good. I respect them both immensely and hope you’ve read them.

Alas, what to do when we are seeing a generation of younger adults “engage the culture” in new ways and take up vocations of being “salt and light” in the world with renewed vigor, but you’ve come to realize, perhaps more than they, that it is going to be harder than is sounds. Today’s younger adults, even conservative evangelicals ones, are not the cultural warriors of their neo-fundamentalist parents. They want to reach out with great passion for a Christ-like witness in the world, including being open-minded and gracious and hospitable, especially on issues such as racial justice, climate change, religious pluralism, even approaching newer approaches that are less strident about same-sex attraction and the like.

But, despite this sincere effort to be good, and to live out a faith that is for the good, the facts are clear; Barna has helpful reminded us that many outside the church are skeptical of any truth claims, skeptical of religion (no matter how gracious it may in fact be) skeptical and bothered by religiosity which they assume to be at best irrelevant and, often, at worse, extremism gone amuck.

This easy to read book offers some data and helpful reflections about and guidelines for how to live out a good, redemptive faith in a good and helpful manner, given the facts that our neighbors and co-workers most likely think our faith isn’t good, but is harmful. Good Faith: Being a Christian When… is not the full picture and isn’t the final word. But it is very, very helpful and we recommend it to any one new to this sort of desire to witness well in a pluralizing, secularizing world that is laden with anti-Christian assumptions.

Still Evangelical? Insiders Reconsider Political, Social, and Theological Meaning edited by Mark Labberton (IVP) $17.00 This book is one of the most important books for me these past months and I poured my heart into a review that tried to explain to our BookNotes readers who evangelicals are (that is, they are not the same as fundamentalists) and why many are so very disturbed by the way the media has insisted that most evangelicals are pro-Trump. Many have gotten the idea that all evangelicals are nearly white supremacists, very anti-immigration, resistant to the facts about climate change, and are willing to look the other way about sexual violence — from President Trump or the allegations about Judge Roy Moore, say — as long as right wing politicians are elected.

Whether this caricature is even true is a burden I have, but this book is more practical. It is asking it’s contributors – from Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly to Sojourner’s Lisa Sharon Harper, from Liberty University’s Karen Swallow Prior to urban activist Shane Claiborne, and more – to weigh in on the question that if the public perception of evangelicalism is so tarnished, and if some of the blame does, in fact, come from conservative theological voices who have been complicit in this bad witness before the world, what, then, should we do. Do we hang on to this historic name for ourselves, trying to reclaim, renew, and revive it? Should we give it up? How can we adjudicate the confusions this name now brings with it, and, if it has become so greasy from being mishandled, how can we proclaim the gospel of a saving Christ and the advent of a good and wholesome Kingdom of God? These contributors are sharp, some more heartbroken than others; all are deeply concerned about the reputation of our churches and the testimony before a watching world about the goodness of the gospel. This is a very important book for anyone who cares about the religious landscape in our society. Please order some today!

Kingdom Collaborators: Eight Signature Practices of Leaders Who Turn the World Upside Down Reggie McNeal (IVP) $16.00 This is another fantastic book from The IVP Praxis line, a creatively serious line of useful resources to equip leaders for contemporary ministry. Those who know Reggie McNeal know him as a long-standing voice for what we now call the missional church; he was talking about being outward focuses and Kingdom oriented for decades and his vibrant speaking schedule has made him a well-known and well-trust voice among church consultants and leadership coaching. He works for something called GoodCities and is a senior fellow for the Leadership Network. This book is brand new.

I love McNeal’s last book Kingdom Come and this starts there – with an allusion to Acts 17:6 and the reputation the early church had for, as Nancy Ortberg says in her vivid endorsement on the back, “deconstructing what religion had become by painting a compelling picture of the realty of God’s Kingdom.” Then, Kingdom Collaborators lists nine features of effective missional leaders. As I skimmed the table of contents today I am glad we ordered quiet a few. I’m going to pushing it this Spring and figured we should start off with a bigger than usual discount now, right out of the gate. This looks tremendous, thoughtful, but very practical, too.

The Monk’s Record Player: Thomas Merton, Bob Dylan, and the Perilous Summer of 1966 Robert Hudson (Eerdmans) $23.99 I know, I know, we announced this earlier in the week and I raved a bit. I’m so excited, and the foreword itself is just fantastic. What a very cool idea, written by a very reliable author who is obviously bonkers over Dylan and Merton, too. Ya gotta love a book that says that “Cables to the Aces is when Merton went electric.”  If you get that, you’ve gotta get this book!

Here is some of what I wrote last week – I don’t have time to re-write a longer review now, mostly because I want to go read this now! So here ya go, read it again, and know it’s on sale for the next three days at 30% off.

Oh, if time permitted, I’d love to tell you more about this….this splendid, much-anticipated book is one of these works of genius that isn’t what you’d typical expect from Eerdmans, but it seems just right coming from them. Kudos, kudos! It will surely be much discussed and the cover alone is almost worth the price of the book. The Monk’s Record Player is a true telling of an episode that isn’t well known among those who follow – and there are a lot who follow and a lot written about – Bob Dylan or the mystic, activist monk, Thomas Merton. The author, Robert Hudson, is himself a huge Dylan fan, a mystic poet (like Merton, you know) and a man of contemplative prayer (he’s the one who got Four Birds of Noah’s Ark back in print again, a prayer book from the time of Shakespeare that we touted as one of the best books of its kind in 2017.) It has a foreword by David Dalton, a New York Times bestselling author and – please note: a founding editor of Rolling Stone Magazine. What a fabulous, rich, multi-dimensional, creative work this is.

And what a heckuva story.

Everybody knows how eccentric and cryptic Bob Zimmy could be. And most who know of Merton know he took a vow of Cistercian silence but couldn’t shut up. And he had a great sense of calling into the literary world, and he had a great sense of humor. I have met people who knew him, and everybody agrees he was, usually, the life of the party.

You maybe know (if I can be allowed a Dylan-esque stream of consciousness moment) that Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s bravery to resist Hitler was nurtured less by his academic study of liberal theology at Union in the 1940s but from his experience of the African American worship at Abyssinian Baptist and, especially their black gospel choir. He took gospel records back with him to Germany and the rest, as they say, is history.

Perhaps somewhat similarly, Merton, as Hudson shows, took some Bob Dylan albums with him as he strode away from and back into the modern world. This book tells the story (which involves Joan Baez, I might add) and it is a story no one else has noticed. As Publishers Weekly puts it, after noting how many books there are on Merton and Dylan already, “shelf room just must be made for this one.”

Listen to Steve Rabey:

Robert Hudson’s revealing ‘parallel biography’ shows how two of the most prolific and influential figures of the 1960s, both perpetually restless spiritual pilgrims, shared a passion for prophetic poetry, an opposition to the war in Viet Nam, and a boundless inquisitiveness. In this enjoyable and insightful book Hudson connects the dots that other Merton scholars have overlooked

The New Copernicans: Millennials and the Survival of the Church David John Seel, Jr. (Thomas Nelson) $16.99 This is another we did a very long review of in BookNotes a month ago and now want to move more, so hope the extra discount will encourage you to read it, maybe with a group. This includes some sweeping overviews of Western history and the shifts in culture that some call postmodern. It summarizes a lot of the research on Gen X and millennials and Gen Z and such. It isn’t sloppy and it isn’t simplistic, but it does offer a fresh and powerful summary of what’s going on, how it is that churches can build new relationships of honor and trust among their emerging adults, and what we all can do to, like Copernicus of old, navigate a new world that is appearing with new ways of understanding the cosmos and our culture and ourselves. This is a great read and more important than you may know. Highly recommended.

Four Views on the Church’s Mission edited by Jason Sexton (Zondervan) $16.99 I hope you liked my long review of the Jubilee conference in the last BookNotes, and noted that this is a particular way of telling the gospel story, a way that sees the Kingdom of God as the central theme of Jesus’s ministry and work. His community, His people, the Body of Christ, the Church, is core to that story, of course, but, in this reformationally worldviewish telling, God is redeeming all of life and, therefore, thinking Christianly about economics, say, is as important as theology, and the work of the plumber or journalist or midwife is as important as the minister, priest, or nun.

Is that so? What sort of view of the church, then, emerges from that kind of Kingdom vision? And, conversely, what kind of view of the mission of the church emerges from other views of the church? How do we more precisely name the tasks appropriate for the institutional church and what is the more general mission of the people of God, but not the work of the church, per se? These are questions that have captured by attention for decades and this book is another major piece of the puzzle. It offers a good debate and clarifying viewpoints of four classic views, four angles of vision on what the church is and what it should be about. These “Counterpoint” books are very informative and we like many of them. This one is very important.

Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship Gregory Boyle (Simon & Schuster) $26.00 I trust I don’t have to say much about this – we raved about it when we first announced it a few months ago, and many heard Father Boyle on NPR’s Fresh Air, I think. Lots of folks were buzzing about how moving this story of “Homeboy Industries” (the job-training program and community Boyle founded in inner city LA, Compton, to be exact.) The first book that was a huge New York Times bestseller was Tattoos on the Heart and this carries the story of Boyle and his homeboys forward. Boyle has been called brave and humane and brilliant. His writing has been called “astonishing” and “jaw-dropping.” Tattoos of the Heart is remarkable and this is no less so. We have a big stack and we are hoping you’ll appreciate the good discount and pick it up now. What a story!



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