SEVEN FORTHCOMING BOOKS YOU CAN PRE-ORDER NOW: books by Rachael Denhollander, David Kinnaman, Justin McRoberts & Scott Erickson, Os Guinness, Mae Cannon, James K.A. Smith, and Diana Butler Bass

Thanks for your patience, friends, as we’ve been a bit uneven with the BookNotes schedule this past month. With Beth’s head injury and some serious aches and pains, the death of my mom, and some other heartbreaking stuff, we’re still reeling. Yet, we find great solace and hope every time we get an order for a good book or two or three.

That people still read, that people of faith want to think and understand our glorious, broken world, that our bookstore staff and good customers carry on with vigor in these peculiar times says a lot. We rejoice that authors and artists do that thing that legendary sports writer Red Smith mentioned — just open a vein and let it bleed — and that publishers release their good prose and that customers actually want to buy real books from real bookstores. We thank you, gentle readers.

Which brings me to this: here are some highly anticipated, eagerly awaited, forthcoming books that you can PRE-ORDER from us now. We won’t run your credit card until the day we ship them out, of course, but you can fill out the order form page and get a 20% discount.

This stuff gives me hope and keeps us going.

(Of course you can pre-order anything from just — just tell us what you want. There are so many other great titles coming that it was difficult to suggest just these seven. We think this handful deserves advanced attention and with which we have an affinity, so wanted to suggest you get them —  and get them from us. Again, you can order anything, any time. We’re eager to serve. Tell us how we can help.)

Did I mention these aren’t out yet? But that you can PRE-ORDER them now at the link below? Here’s a thing: for several of these, we will have them (as an independent, bricks and mortar store) before the famous faceless behemoth. Unless they have an official release date where we’re not allowed to sell them early, we suspect we’ll have these as early as almost anybody. And on sale.

Allow us to introduce you to a few forthcoming books. A few of these we’ve read already in advanced manuscript editions. What fun.

Faith for Exiles: 5 Ways for a New Generation to Follow Jesus in Digital Babylon David Kinnaman & Mark Matlock (Baker) $21.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $17.59. For some in our audience, this will be a very important book as they have already read what might be seen as the first two in a trilogy co-authored by David Kinnaman. Whether you’ve read them or not, you most likely have heard of the Barna research and the books that came out about young adults who are not Christians and their views of the church (unChristian) or who have left the church of their youth (You Lost Me.) Both of those important books showed that churches of all sorts have a major problem in that many older teens and 20-something think the church is unhelpful and the gospel is irrelevant (or worse.) Those two books explain, in some detail, what the data suggests about how we in the churches have failed our young adults. In a nutshell, one might say those books diagnose the problem and feature (as they should) what we’re doing wrong.

This long-awaited third one in this series, Faith for Exiles, however, offers some practical (if at times visionary) notions based on the latest Barna studies about churches and ministries that have retained their young adults or ministries; Faith for Exiles examines programs and practices that have been successful and fruitful in effective ministry with that age group. For those that want guidance, ideas, suggestions, best practices, and solid stuff that works in doing ministry with young adults, Faith for Exiles is a must-read.

Further, because it spends some time in fascinating descriptions of our “digital Babylon” culture and what it means to live as exiles, Faith for Exiles is not just how to offer a faith that resonates with and equips the rising generation of emerging adults to have lasting faith, it is, I’d say, a book for rising adults, younger folks, college age students, those in their twenties or thirties who may wonder how to keep on keeping on.

Kinnaman’s co-author for this forthcoming volume is Mark Matlock who is the former Executive Director for Youth Specialities; as such, he’s written bunches of books for and about youth ministry and it is good to see him with this passion for David’s work in following up our youth who are often active in church camps or youth fellowships or teen ministries and mission trips and such, only to drift away in their college years. Together, Kinnaman and Matlock are quite a pair and this research is something all of us should know. It’s packed with stories, is nicely written, and loaded with good ideas. I highly recommend this book.

For what it’s worth — no, I’m not going to spoil it by trying to summarize all of it — they’ve documented five things that any viable young adult ministry or college-age outreach should include. Frankly, these are things that interest me, too, and if a church or ministry doesn’t do this stuff, it isn’t going to capture the imaginations of many of us (regardless of our age or generational cohort.) They share the five insights as key practices. For instance, one great chapter talks about holding out a vision for work and vocation so the practice is offered as “To ground and motivate an ambitious generation, train for vocational discipleship.”  Another practice is spelled out like this: “When isolation and mistrust are the norm, forge meaningful, intergenerational relationships.” Each practice counters a certain bit of data that they’ve come to realize is true for this generation, and each is accompanied by stores and examples. There is great hope here, for those who dare to have this God-sized dream of doing young adult ministry in a church that feels ill-equipped and is losing that cohort, and there is great hope for those who need to, as they put it, “develop muscles of cultural discernment” and who will “curb entitlement and self-centered tendencies.”

Faith for Exiles: 5 Ways for a New Generation to Follow Jesus in Digital Babylon by Kinnaman and Matlock is going to be a groundbreaking, clear-headed and helpful book. That it gives a shout-out to the CCOs legendary Jubilee Conference (and a nod to a bookstore from Dallastown that shows up every year to resource book-loving young Christians at that event!) makes it that much more fun for Hearts & Minds friends. It releases September 3, 2019. Pre-order it today!

What Is a Girl Worth? My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth About Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics Rachael Denhollander (Tyndale) $26.99  OUR SALE PRCE = $21.59.  We are proud to be able to promote this and trust that many other bookstores will champion this riveting, troubling and inspiring memoir of a Christian leader who has become an international hero. That she and her husband have gotten disgusting letters and social media harassment makes us want to try even harder to show off this fine Christian book. I has gotten some national attention already, received a starred review at Publishers Weekly and is going to be widely discussed. Beth Moore (herself a sexual abuse survivor) has recently said, “This is one of the most important books you’ll ever read.”

Here is  what is on the back cover:

“Who is going to tell these little girls that what was done to them matters? That they are seen and valued, that they are not alone and they are not unprotected?”

Rachael Denhollander’s voice was heard around the world when she spoke out to end the most shocking scandal in US gymnastics history. The first victim to publicly accuse Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor who abused hundreds of young athletes, Rachael now reveals her full story for the first time. How did Nassar get away with it for so long? How did Rachael and the other survivors finally stop him and bring him to justice? And how can we protect the vulnerable in our own families, churches, and communities?

What Is a Girl Worth? is the inspiring true story of Rachael’s journey from an idealistic young gymnast to a strong and determined woman who found the courage to raise her voice against evil, even when she thought the world might not listen.

This deeply personal and compelling narrative shines a spotlight on the physical and emotional impact of abuse, why so many survivors are reluctant to speak out, what it means to be believed, the extraordinary power of faith and forgiveness, and how we can learn to do what’s right in the moments that matter most.

Rachael Denhollander is a serious Christian, a mom of four, an attorney, and was named as one of Time magazines 100 Most Influential People, one of Glamour magazine’s Women of the Year and was a recipient of ESPN’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award. She has spoken within the faith community, too, in venues as prominent as Tim Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York and upon other significant platforms seeking to help us learn to be attentive to issues of abuse and how to be agents of justice in God’s broken world. It releases to the world on September 10, 2019.

By the way, we also have the soon to be released How Much Is a Little Girl Worth? a children’s book also written by Rachel Denhollander (and illustrated by Morgan Huff) released by Tyndale Kids! ($14.99; OUR SALE PRICE = $11.99.) It’s very nicely done. More on that later…

Listen to Karen Swallow Prior:

No two sexual abuse cases are exactly alike, yet Rachael Denhollander’s story reveals what they all have in common and the part we all can play in preventing abuse, defending the vulnerable, and pursuing justice. Sexual abuse does not take place only in dark alleys late at night. It occurs in brightly lit offices and in quiet church sanctuaries, in public spaces and in the privacy of homes. If you don’t understand how this can be, please read this book. If you know too well why this is, you have even more reason to read this book. Rachael writes with moral clarity grounded in biblical truth and love. What Is a Girl Worth? is a must-read for anyone who cares about protecting precious lives from predators and pursuing justice for those for whom we were too late. — Karen Swallow Prior, author of On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books and co-editor of the recent Cultural Engagement: A Crash Course in Contemporary Issues 

Carpe Diem Redeemed: Seizing the Day, Discerning the Times Os Guinness (IVP) $20.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00. Those that know me know that one of my favorite books — and one we promote tirelessly — is The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose for Your Life, which was released last year in an anniversary edition, a bit more trim in size but with some editing, expansion, and a few new chapters. This book almost single-handedly help create a hunger within certain parts of North American evangelicalism to explore the long-neglected doctrine of calling, especially as it applies to ordinary folks. For too long only priests and nuns, ministers and missionaries, got to use the language of discerning and receiving a call to a particular vocation and Guinness explores how that de-formation happened, how a revitalization of Western culture depends upon a renewed focus on faith and calling, and how a “purpose driven life” is more, much more, than many have realized. Erudite and gracious, literary and beautifully informed by great stories from history (from the Greeks and Romans through to Winston Church and many modern folks, from Picasso to the great filmmaker who created Lawrence of Arabia and the curious jazzman Coltrane.) Guinness is well read and Biblically wise and The Call is simply a contemporary masterpiece, a book nearly everyone should read at least once in their lives.

Os has been a friend to me and Beth and always has much nice to say about our efforts here at the store. He’s a bookman and life-long learner and it is frightening to think where modern/classic evangelicalism would be without his thoughtful influence over these past forty years since his life-changing Dust of Death appeared in the early1970s. He has studied at Oxford and worked with Peter Berger. He has been a journalist with the BBC and helped draft the important Williamsburg Charter on religious freedom. His books have explored the nature of Christian persuasion, the idols of our postmodern times, doubt, the nature of evil, the role of the mind in Christian discipleship, the cultural captivity of the church, the threats facing American democracy and more.

Carpe Diem Redeemed is due in mid-to-late September, and is being touted as a long-awaited sequel to The Call. As you can tell from the title, it takes that popular phrase about “seizing the day” and asks fundamental and important questions (that, oddly, many of fail to ask) about what that means, and what it should mean for those committed to the Lordship of Christ. If God’s glory, pursued faithfully out of a Biblical world and life vision, is what drives us, then what do we mean by seizing the day? Why and how and what for? And as we redemptively find purpose and meaning by seizing the day, does that not demand of us a critical analysis of (and perhaps countercultural witness to) the society around us? We must, as the subtitle says, “Discern the times.” Such questions about how to discern the times and the point of a determined life, interestingly, have been wrestled with by the best thinkers down through the ages.

Carpe Diem Redeemed opens, as many of Guinness’s books do, with a few pages of remarkable quote from writers, philosophers, artists, political leaders, and historians who are as diverse as Lao Tzu, Horace, and Dante; Kierkegaard, Oscar Wilde, Vincent Van Gogh, on to Susan Sontang and Kurt Vonnegut, a tweet from Richard Branson and a line from Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue. From the ancients to the existentialists, they have written about seizing the day, using our time wisely. He reminds us that the most thoughtful and often the most successful leaders consider the nature of one of the biggest mysterious that shape cultures: their view of time.

Yes, in a way, this is a Christian reflection upon a perspective on time. Those familiar with Dr. Os’s body of work will know this has long intrigued him — the modern age, after all, evolved as clocks were invented and life was increasingly measured and scheduled and Os has regularly reminded us of the remarkable consequences of these sorts of things. Guinness even wrote a book called Prophetic Untimeliness about the idol of relevance, in which he explored with great insight some basic stuff about the nature of time, generations, history, and our daily experience of the passage of time and what it means to be up to date (or not.) A chapter of that book, in fact, is reprinted in this new one, giving it a helpful continuity to his previous cultural assessments, perhaps somewhat inspired by that famous poetry in the start of Ecclesiastes 3. One chapter hits hard, playing with an old social Darwinist phrase wondering if we live in a culture of “the survival of the fastest.”  What’s with the ubiquitous slogans like FOMO and YOLO?

So, yes, we must discern the nature of the fast-paced times, guarding against just going with the flow of history with too little sense of distinctiveness or holiness; trendy or thoughtless accommodation to the ethos of the times is rarely a healthy approach for God’s people. And, without getting into the thick weeds too much, to study our times, we have to study our era’s view of time. Yes, again, this is a book about time.

But more, it is about our own sense of calling, following up The Call and inviting readers to a 21st century sort of realization that we are — as people shaped by the vital notion of covenant — “singular, significant, and special.” An extraordinary chapter is called “The Way to Seize the Day” and that is followed up by this call to “prophetic untimeliness.” I’m telling you, this is good, good stuff — a bit deeper than The Call, perhaps, but just as inspiring. We would be pleased to have you sign up for one so we can send it out in a timely fashion. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) Carpe Diem Redeemed releases officially on September 24th but we’ll have it early. A new book by os Guinness is always worth celebration, and this one will be much discussed, I’m sure.

As a man in midlife, I am often reminded that like a piece of fruit or a loaf of bread, I, too, have an expiration date. With this awareness comes searching questions such as, ‘What’s it all for? Is there meaning to anything that I do, since it will one day all be forgotten? What does it mean to live well in light of such realities?’ In characteristic fashion, Os Guinness not only explores these searching questions but offers satisfying, proven answers to them. If you are asking similar questions―or even if you’re not―I can’t recommend this book to you highly enough.   — Scott Sauls, author of Befriend

Evangelical Theologies of Liberation and Justice edited by Mae Elise Cannon & Andrea Smith (IVP Academic) $36.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $28.80. I know there are just dozens of wonderful, beautiful, powerful books on a Christian view of justice; Biblically-informed, deeply spiritual books to inspire us to care more about what God most cares about. God moved me to tears not long ago as I read out loud a few passages which link deep knowledge of the God of the Bible with the doing of justice and I was strangely warmed again, gladly. There was a time when one had to insist these verses were really in the Bible, so meager were most church people’s familiarity with the themes of justice in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. (I still return to Ron Sider’s Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger for a good overview.) Happily, we have moved deeper into the Biblical story these days and many of our best customers are looking for more detailed or more profound studies to equip them as agents of God’s peace and justice in this distorted, unfair world.

My friend Mae Cannon has done a few books that are staples in this aspect of discipleship, excellent and useful. See, for instance, her great collection of biographies in Just Spirituality: How Faith Practices Fuel Social Action (IVP; $17.00) or her very useful study resource Social Justice Handbook: Small Steps for a Better World (IVP; $25.00) or, reflecting her recent work, A Land Full of God: Christian Perspectives on the Holy Land (Cascade; $38.00.)

As much as we value these great books — write us if you need other suggestions, such as the soon to be released Bread for the Resistance: Forty Devotions for Justice People by Donna Barber (IVP; $15.00) — that guide us to be activists for the common good, to be just congregations, to be citizens for public justice, and such, we also think that some of us really ought to be studying how this recent development has actually occurred. What theologians, and what sort of theologies have funded this recent interest in social concerns amongst evangelicals? And in what ways have the late 20th century flurry of liberation theologies been adopted or refined by evangelicals (especially those on the margins, people of color, immigrants, people imprisoned, woman, and others.) Is there such a thing as an evangelical liberation theology? (If you are reading the book I raved so much about last month, Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire/Demanding Justice by Walsh & Keesmaat, you might be asking the same thing, more curious and open now than ever before.)

As it becomes increasingly clear that the Christian right has no theology at all anymore, and moderate evangelicals remain pietistic with a personalized faith with little public square commitments, what theological work needs to happen to serve a Bible-centered, Christ-honoring, historically orthodox foundation for liberation, reconciliation, peace, creation-care, freedom and justice? This is the big project that Mae Cannon and Andrea Smith has taken up, bringing together some older and newer voices and it is a major project. There are amazing pieces in this handbook/anthology called Evangelical Theologies of Liberation and Justice — serious chapters on body shame, on animal liberation, chapters by thinkers of various ethnicities and social locations on how their own status shapes their understand of the Biblical hope. Wow, this is a wild and generative compilation! Kudos to the women editors, of course, and to their evangelical publisher for doing this kind of serious work for the overturning of death-dealing idols and the flourishing of the common good. We hope to get this in very soon, but the official release day is September 10, 2019.

May It Be So: Forty Days with the Lord’s Prayer Justin McRoberts & Scott Erickson (Waterbrook) $16.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59.  I mentioned above that Dave Kinnaman describes the big Jubilee conference in Pittsburgh in his forthcoming Faith for Exiles. (He will be speaking there this February, so make plans now to attend! No matter where you live — come to Pittsburgh!) Justin McRoberts & Scott Erickson are two friends who have spent their share of time hanging out in the big book room at Jubilee and, in between speaking and painting and praying and playing music there (they are a talented duo) they cooked up a plan to collaborate on a book which would serve as a prompt to pray. Not exactly a book about praying nor exactly a book of prayers. The readings are nearly like Zen koans, I’ve said, Justin’s allusive and mystical and generous ruminations inspired by Scott the Painter’s very hip graphic designs. I suppose I’m not sure what came first, the pictures or the text, but somehow, they created our of that Jubilee vision an imaginative, remarkably useful, and very popular Prayer: Forty Days of Practice (Waterbrook; $16.99.) This book is one of those rare ones that they self-published — what they called their “Jubilee baby” (conceived as it was, right there in their conversations at the conference) — and it was so hugely well respected that a mainstream publisher picked it up, issuing it in an affordable hardback. This doesn’t happen often, folks, so it is an indication that it was a a very special book.

That first one, and now this forthcoming one, are not for everyone, I suppose. The art is cool, but a bit unusual, blunt yet allusive. The writing is evocative and poetic. As they say, this book is a work of art, it is a work of love. We know many of our customers will love it.

May It Be So follows the artful pattern of Prayer: Forty Days of Practice but unpacks the possibilities of focused, imaginative prayerfulness around the words of the Lord’s Prayer.

“Deep down in every human being is a fundamental awareness of God and a desire for divine help in turbulent times,” it says on the back. “We instinctively long for relationship with God. Yet, a flourishing prayer life sometimes feels just beyond our reach.”  This book, it says, is designed to “help you gain spiritual clarity and maintain a meaningful and ongoing conversation with God.”

Can you contemplate your own life? Those whom you love?  Is God around and in and present there? Justin & Scott think so, and this invites you to experience it. It releases September 23, 2019 and it’s one we are not permitted to sell earlier.

If you are in central Pennsylvania, keep your eyes peeled here as we are hoping for a in-store bookstore visit from Justin as we do an East Coast book launch in late September. More on that soon. Stay tuned.

On the Road with Saint Augustine: A Real World Spirituality for Restless Hearts James K.A. Smith (Brazos Press) $24.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99. With no disrespect for any of the other great authors and marvelous books coming out this fall, I think many in our circles will agree that this truly is one of the most highly anticipated and certainly will be one of the most significant spirituality books of the year. Those who followed Smith’s tour de force “Cultural Liturgies Project” comprising of three volumes (Desiring the Kingdom, Imagining the Kingdom, and Awaiting the Kingdom) or the one-volume, more accesible, You Are What You Love, you know of his affection for the great Saint Augustine from Northern Africa. Discipled by Ambrose on the mid-300s, Augustine became a Bishop, helping navigate the church’s role in a deteriorating Roman culture. How can those graciously swept up into the reign of God relate to the corrupt powers of this world?  What does it look like in a world falling apart to be “in but not of?” Despite huge foibles and flaws, Augustine’s City of God shaped much Christian public theology and cultural engagement for centuries.

Augustine, flawed and broken man that he was, didn’t get it all right. But what he is perhaps most known for — and why even the most secular universities sometimes assign his book Confessions — is because Confessions is considered the first memoir. Not a history book or even a biography, but a rumination on the shape and texture of a person’s interior life, it is penned with a self-awareness that was pioneering in its day. To consider one’s own deepest longings and desires and temptations and sins, to give voice to a quest for meaning and a reframing of one’s deepest sense of self — that’s all before the rise of a sense of the modern day self, before Freud, before evangelical testimonies, before all those modern day memoirs that I highlighted in a BookNotes column a month ago. Confessions was groundbreaking.

And so, Jamie Smith takes seriously the adage that is said to be Augustinian: if you want to know what somebody is really like, don’t ask so much what they believe, but what they love. That is the power of his best-selling You Are What You Love as it reminded both modern day evangelicals and classic mainline denominational folks that dogma and doctrine and even talk of the allusive worldview doesn’t change people’s lives. The center of gravity of the human person is the heart, not the brain, and we must re-oriented our loves, our passions, our affections, note merely try to change minds. And that, as he explains brilliantly in the “Cultural Liturgy” trio and in You Are What You Love, happens through stories. We are conscripted into stories of the good life (or what is said to be the good live), and that often happens through habits and rituals. I won’t re-iterate it now, but that’s why Smith thinks that our hopes to deepen our discipleship in ways that shape us into the sorts of Christians who can faithfully engage the issues of the day and reform the society must start in deep and thoughtful worship of the Triune God. We are what we love, after all.

Which brings us to this pretty obvious connection with that Saint from Northern Africa. Augustine’s Confessions (and other sermons and letters and books) help us get to this wholistic sort of faith, shaped by an interior life, a spirituality, if you will, that allows us to love our place, our world, and give our lives for the common good. Want a bigger picture, a better story? Do you agree with You Are What You Love that we are more than “brains on a stick” and therefore need a deeper, richer sort of life? Does your church maybe not offer that? Do you feel somehow alienated, even, from the culture and the church, maybe, as well? You need a road trip with Augustine.

As On the Road with Saint Augustine explains, this really is not a book about Saint Augustine. “In a way, it’s a book Augustine has written about each of us.” That is, Jamies suspects that Augustine knows far more about us than we might expect. Smith has spent time on the road with Augustine and invites us to join him on this journey.

This puts it nicely:

Augustine is the patron saint of restless hearts — a guide who has been there, asked our questions, and knows our frustrations and failed pursuits. Augustine spent a lifetime searching for his heart’s true home and he can help us find our way.

This soon-to-be released master-work is (as you might guess from Smith) both learned and fun; aware of ancient insights, contemporary realities, and the pop culture voices who remind us of our current age. It is rigorous, to be sure, but lively, moving from Augustine and his ancient contemporaries to Jack Kerouac to Jay Z to Heidegger to AA meetings to Camus to the films of Wes Anderson and back to Sal Paradise. It’s a philosophical road trip as he takes us throughout Italy and offer glimpses of his own life, from Canada to Philadelphia, from Milan to Seattle.

If you want to know more to determine if this one you want to purchase, read this great story, “Restless on the Road” about the book in the Calvin College student newspaper, the Chimes. 

Or, watch this moving, evocative video trailer for the book.

On the Road with Saint Augustine: A Real-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts deserves to be taken seriously (and deserves a full review which I will attempt later.) For now, allow these remarkable early endorsements from such an array of thought and cultural leaders — Charles Taylor! A member of the Avett Brothers! Lauren Winner! — to illustrate how amazingly rich this forthcoming book truly is:

“This book is James K. A. Smith’s Born to Run. It’s the story of the journey we are all on. For Smith, Saint Augustine is the perfect navigator. He’s familiar with that ‘highway jammed with broken heroes’ because he knows what it feels like to be a heart on the run. If you lust for the highway and feel the engine idling deep inside, your ride is here. Augustine is in the passenger seat with the map of our heart unfolded on his lap, waiting to take us home.”
— Bob Crawford, member of The Avett Brothers and cohost of The Road to Now podcast

On the Road with Saint Augustine is a learned, large-hearted, and quite lively introduction to Augustine, or to life by way of Augustine, or to God by way of both. The variety of Smith’s references is astonishing, as is the seamless way he moves among them. I expect many modern readers will find themselves–and, crucially, much more than themselves–in this book.”
— Christian Wiman, author of My Bright Abyss and Every Riven Thing

“Augustine of Hippo is the patron saint of restless hearts. Now James K. A. Smith, long one of our most interesting theological thinkers, both orthodox and outlier, reintroduces this figure who is at once strange and familiar, ancient and contemporary. This book is a journey into the greatest journey of all, and a delight to read. Highly recommended.”      —Krista Tippett, founder and CEO, The On Being Project; host, On Being; curator, The Civil Conversations Project
“Fascinating, engrossing, insightful, beautifully written, and often brilliant, this new book will open up the story and spirituality of St. Augustine to a new generation of readers and seekers.”
— James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage

“Smith opens this book by placing the contemporary culture of seeking the real, authentic self alongside the works of Augustine; then he continues by placing our contemporary experience alongside Augustine’s biography; both moves yield a fund of interesting insights.”
— Charles Taylor, author of A Secular Age
On the Road with Saint Augustine offers a fresh articulation of Christianity that speaks to our deepest hungers, fears, and hopes. Addressing believers and skeptics alike, this book shows how Augustine’s timeless wisdom speaks to the worries and struggles of contemporary life, covering such wide-ranging topics as ambition, sex, friendship, freedom, parenthood, and death. As the author well says, this is not a book about St. Augustine. But it certainly is a guide for reading Augustine as he wrote it and would probably prefer to be read, with a restless heart.”                                                         — Justo L. González, author of The Mestizo Augustine
“It is a fundamental Augustinian trope that we are not home. Here Jamie Smith riffs with unrivaled depth and texture on what it means to be in via–to be on the way–to be not at home. I am grateful, and I will keep this book with me as I pilgrim.”
— Lauren Winner, author of The Dangers of Christian Practice and Still
The official launch day for this is October 1, 2019, but look for it from us a few weeks early.
Broken We Kneel: Reflections on Faith and Citizenship (Second Edition) Diana Butler Bass (Church Publishing) $18.95 OUR SALE PRICE = $15.16.  Oh my, this will be a new, somewhat expanded edition of one of my all time favorite books by an author I deeply respect. It isn’t coming until mid-October but we are eager to alert folks that it is being re-issued. Kudos to our friends at the Epsiopalian publishing arm, Church Publishing, for giving this little volume a new life. And, boy, do we need it.
In the aftermath of the awful 9/11 attacks, a slogan appeared in some circles “United We Stand.” It was fair enough, I suppose, expressing a certain civic feeling about coming together after the brutality of the evil aggression against us. When Diana — working for an Episcopal Church near the Pentagon — started seeing this sort of sentiment in church, being used to support a war posture, celebrating in pompous bragging ways, America, not the gospel, making America great, not deepening reliance on Jesus’s ways, it caused her great sorrow. Conversations got no-where. Increasingly, she felt — as did many of us in those hard years — like she had to leave her faith community that seemed so accommodated to the nation state and its red-white-and-blue visions of power and might and revenge. Broken We Kneel tells that story and offers healthy reflections on citizenship.
I wrote a lot about this book when it first came out as it captured much of my own dissatisfaction with an unholy alliance between church and state. It wasn’t just the far-out religious right, either: everywhere we went we heard the drums of war. I admired that Diana — a historian and sociologist with theological training and a congregational, parish educator — was willing to risk her job, perhaps her reputation within her own denomination, to speak out against this warring madness (as the old hymn puts it.) “Broken We Kneel” seems a more faithful and honest and profound and Christ-like slogan, doesn’t it? Broken We Kneel explored her own experience within a church that didn’t quite agree and what it means to adopt this posture of peacemaking and Christian identity. It is a memoir of her season coming to grips with this civil religion stuff but it is also a guide for all of us. The new edition will have some updated chapters showing how this question is as lively and contemporary as ever.
Times have changed, pressures and political ideologies are even more brazen than before (even though we are not entering a major war as of this writing, at least.) And yet, and yet. We need this conversation about who we are (as Christians following Jesus and as a diverse and pluralistic country) now, perhaps more than we did even fifteen or so years ago.
Here is what the publisher is saying about the urgency of this forthcoming second edition:

Bass looks at Christian identity, patriotism, citizenship, and congregational life in an attempt to answer the central question that so many are struggling with today: “To whom do Christians owe deepest allegiance? God or country?”

America’s unique and often fractious relationship between church and state is, if anything, more relevant to who we are as a nation than when Diana Butler Bass’ examination of it in Broken We Kneel was first published 16 years ago. This second edition contains a new foreword and introduction, as well as a new conclusion outlining her vision for the future. Born in the tumultuous aftermath of 9/11 and now a spiritual classic, the book draws on both her personal experience and her knowledge of religious history. Bass looks at Christian identity, patriotism, citizenship, and congregational life in an attempt to answer the central question that so many are struggling with today: “To whom do Christians owe deepest allegiance? God or country?”

In writing both impassioned and historically informed, Bass reflects on current events, personal experiences, and political questions that have sharpened the tensions between serious faith and national imperatives. The book incorporates the author’s own experience of faith, as writer, teacher, wife, mother, and churchgoer into a larger conversation about Christian practice and contemporary political issues. Broken We Kneel is a call to remember that the core of Christian identity is not always compatible with national political policies.

We are delighted to be able to announce this forthcoming new, somewhat expanded edition. This new, expanded edition of Broken We Kneel releases October 17, 2019 and we will be eager to talk about it, again, once it releases. You may not agree with all of it or the nature of her conclusions (also about what congregations can do) but it will be a fabulous discussion resource. Why not plan to get a group reading it together later this fall?


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