20 forthcoming books you should PRE-ORDER now – 20% off at Hearts & Minds

We are still closed for walk-in traffic, at least as of this writing in early July during this season of Coronatide. We’re doing curb-side delivery out by our back parking area and are happily donning masks to do some outside customer service show and tell, too. If you’re in the area and want to see some options to browse through, we can bring to your car a bin-full of books or cards or Bibles. The other day we took a few higher-end rosaries out and our customer was delighted.

No, Beth was not wearing drive-in waitress roller skates and knee socks, but it crossed my mind.

Please pray for our discernment as we try to figure out what it means to be safe and wise in these complicated times and how to properly reconfigure our workspaces for our staff once they come back in full. Pray for our health and for public health. We hope you, dear reader, are playing it safe, mourning your losses, lamenting this hard season. I suppose most of us know somebody who has died and we offer our condolences.

I’m sorry that we have not done BookNotes much these past months. It has just been too stressful. Soon, though, we’ll play some catch-up ball and share a few lists of great books we would have promoted had we not been hit by the pandemic. I can’t wait.

But first, we are eager to invite you to PRE-ORDER any number of truly great forthcoming titles. Most we’ve selected below are in our exact wheelhouse; this is a list we’ve necessarily curated for your reading edification. Some are even penned by writer friends and we couldn’t be more glad than to amplify their good gifts of thinking and writing. If you want to pre-order any other book you’ve heard about, just let us know. We can get almost anything and would appreciate the chance to serve you in this way.

I suppose I don’t have to tell you that the book industry is hurting; the loss of book tours and big releases and author events and in-store appearances (and, for us, not doing off-site events) have seriously hurt sales. (There has been a notable surge in interest in books about racial justice, a demand unlike anything we’ve ever seen, for which we are glad, even if it has been frustrating since many book manufacturers and printers are backlogged and the supply chain is strained.) Publishers and sales reps and booksellers are all stressed. We know that some of us will not recover. Imagine how these authors feel having the book they’ve worked on for years (and years, in some cases) finally being released into the realities of death and illness, pandemic and quarantining, pitched into these times when even Amazon has “de-prioritized” sending books. 

Please consider spending a bit more this season in support of these good authors. Like us, they need generous readers and we, like them, are grateful for your support. Read on!

PRE-ORDER NOW — use our secure order form page by clicking the tab and the end of the column.

Here are the ones we most want you to consider that are coming out yet this summer.

The Way Up Is Down: Becoming Yourself by Forgetting Yourself Marlena Graves (IVP) $22.00 | OUR SALE PRICE = $17.60  DUE JULY 14, 2020 

Those who follow BookNotes carefully know that we have been a big fan of Marlena’s remarkable premier release A Beautiful Disaster (Brazos Press; $19.00) where she narrates her coming of age in rural Pennsylvania as a Latina woman in a family with considerable hardships and how she discovered the desert fathers and the practices of contemplative spirituality. That book tells a remarkable story and from that great book, we came to follow her activism, growing increasingly into a strong voice for gender and racial justice, for the poor, for immigrants. She has pursed this Christ-like advocacy and teaching in the context of the local church, where she has served as a church educator and spiritual director. She has desired to be Christ-like, mature, deep. She has studied the meaning of love, of hope, faith. The Way Up is Down, it seems to me, is the fruit of these growing years and a beautiful follow up to her first great book.

The Way Up Is Down is about renunciation, about humility, about letting go of the American dream of upward mobility and success. It is about embracing brokenness and limits and finding God in the move towards that posture famously spoken by John the Baptist ” “He must increase, I must decrease.”  Marlena is chatty and conversational, moving adeptly from citing Russian Orthodox monks to telling common place stories about her own daily life as she seeks authentic and life-giving wholeness by trusting God. She brings in dramatic stories of folks she has encountered although the most powerful ones are mundane, almost — telling about a special needs fellowship in her church, for instance. The stories bring home in a disarming way some heavy truths about transformation, what it means to live into the sacred heart of Jesus, to be (as one chapter puts it) “cradled in the heart of God.”

The book did not feel over-wrought to me, as some do. Yet, there is honest stuff here. As Paul Pastor (author of The Face of the Deep) wrote, “It is a rare and sacred gift for a writer to serve her raw heart―tender and salted with tears―to nourish the world.”

Time doesn’t allow me to do this fabulous book justice but I respect Marlena greatly and commend her book about the simple ways of Christ and his merciful, serving ways and we can grow into that sort of life of faith.

Listen to this reviewer:

“Breathtaking. A stunning achievement. This book aches for us, daring to offer its own raw beauty, courage, and unflinching light. What’s most gorgeous about Marlena Graves’s humbling book, however, is its call for moral imagination, even among we who are wounded. If we fall broken at Jesus’ feet, she teaches, we will all heal by his grace–mended and scarred but lifted together. What a brave, rare book for these unlikely times. An honor to read, it’s one of the most exciting theological reflections in recent memory.”


Compassion (&) Conviction: The AND Campaign’s Guide to Faithful Civic Engagement Justin Giboney, Michael Wear & Chris Butler (IVP) $22.00 | OUR SALE PRICE = $17.60   DUE JULY 21, 2020

This is certainly one of the soon to be released books that many of our customers — mostly, younger, it seems — are most eager to see. The authors have been on social media and doing podcasts sharing their vision for their “third way” public justice mission for quite some time. (They’ve been at our Pittsburgh Jubilee conference, too! Woot!) So there’s a buzz on this one that you should pay attention to. I’ve read it and it is excellent.

{check out their Church Politics podcast here.}

Their theme of “and” (rather than more binary “either/or” attitudes) shine through wisely, over and over. I have written at great length about the complicated and controversial interface of faith and politics (use a key word search at the search engine at BookNotes and hopefully several past posts will pop up) and I would love to write much more about this energetic and very wise book. I know it deserves a much longer review later — there are distinctives in Compassion (&) Conviction that make this a major contribution to the discussions about faith and public life. I mostly agree with most of it; almost all of it is amazingly fantastic, there are things in this one short book that I’ve wished were in othres, so it is a must-have resource.  For now, please know that this is an important book and, in God’s timing, perhaps one of the most necessary voices to appear in quite a while. Call it timely or much-needed or — in the spirit of I Chronicles 12:32 — Issacharian, it really does capture something that the times cry out for, that many are longing for, a view of civic engagement that is more than partisan politics and that puts principles above partisanship.

That is, it is compassionate and convicted, what Richard Mouw has called “convicted civility. But it is much more than an etiquette manual for public engagement.

Three things that Hearts & Minds friends might want to know about this. First: two of the authors are black; Michael, who is white, has a story that is deeply entwined with soul and gospel music, and he ended up working in the Obama White House, a prestigious position from which he eventually walked away. (That is a story he told in the excellent Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House about the Future of Faith in America.) So it is multi-ethnic and although it is not only about race, there is a keen awareness about this throughout. For those interested in BLM protests, there is a good chapter here called “Advocacy (&) Protest.” I have been waiting for decades for an evangelically-minded book to offer some basic Biblical examples of dramatic protest and civil disobedience. This chapter is worth the price of the book. But it is also about going beyond protest to constructive efforts to actually bring about concrete change.

Secondly, Compassion (&) Conviction has good discussion apparatus, sidebars, a good leader’s guide, and some helpful exercises to experiment with maturing in our civic engagement and how to actually get involved. It has this “both/and” interest in theory and practice, theology and action, politics proper and citizen activism. Few books (and I’ve read dozens) on Christian political engagement have such a delightful and wise balance of Biblical studies, public theology, justice theory and ordinary, practical guidance on civic involvement. Kudos to this fun trio, Christ Butler, Justin Giboney, and Michael Wear for making this book so darn useful.

Thirdly (no surprise) I want to hold up its exquisite commitment to an exciting sort of principled civility, calling for partnership and cooperation and common ground, even when there are times for partisanship and even protest. This is no boring “can’t we all just get along” idealism nor a muddled middle that tries to blend the best of all views. No, this really does try to offer an imaginative new way, a fresh approach that is creatively rooted in their “(&)” brand. Check out the And Campaign and join up. It is more than a brand or logo or clever pitch; they really believe this stuff, as those loyal to Jesus and wanting to be good citizens in a pluralistic society. The book is a thoughtful exploration of important stuff that many have not gotten quite right, so it’s a needed blessing. But, in a way, it is also a manifesto, and call to build coalitions and alliances and get busy in the name of Jesus to build a better world.

Some of the marketing for the book invites readers who are disillusioned with the far right and the far left and the muddled middle, by saying this:

Have you ever felt too progressive for conservatives, but too conservative for progressives? It’s easy for faithful Christians to grow disillusioned with civic engagement or fall into tribal extremes. Representing the AND Campaign, the authors of this book lay out the biblical case for political engagement and help Christians navigate the complex world of politics with integrity.

There are bunches of stunning endorsements of this by folks from across the political and theological spectrum. When I have more time as the election season draws nearer, I’m sure I will describe my own thoughts more carefully about its many strengths and how I respect these authors and their good work. For now, here are two advanced blurbs that capture the books excellent reputation, showing why we hope many order it as soon as possible:

The partisanship, point-scoring, bickering, and pettiness that mark Christians’ engagement with politics often belies the message of hope offered in Jesus. If we, as a church, do not learn how to seek the good of our neighbor and the broader world without being beholden to a particular political party, we will, however inadvertently, preach a false gospel in our actions and public life. Because of this, reconstructing a political theology that is wise, humane, just, and deeply biblical is the most urgent calling facing the church in America today. The AND Campaign is a leader in this vital work of reconstruction, casting an alternative vision for a politics rooted in faith, hope, and love. In this book, Giboney, Wear, and Butler provide basic tutoring in civics, Scripture, race, justice, and political engagement that will help us, as a church, find a more faithful and truthful way of walking as Christians in this world of political turmoil. I want every church in America to give an ear to these men as they help us walk the way of Jesus as a community and a political people.  Tish Harrison Warren, author of Liturgy of the Ordinary

People commonly lament our age’s political division and tribalism. Some have lived at the poles of political discourse, and they’ve forgotten their way back to a commonly shared center. Finding our way back to one another can only happen if we learn not to bifurcate our politics. We need a movement to reunite ourselves, reunite with our neighbors, and reunite political ideals that never should have been divided in the first place. That reunion will feel like a strange new land for many us, so we need guides, pathways, tools, and discipline for talking and working together for the common good. You hold in your hands a creative struggle for wholeness, just the kind of help we need in our age.  Thabiti M. Anyabwile, pastor of Anacostia River Church, author of Reviving the Black Church


Interpreting Scripture: Essays on the Bible and Hermeneutics  N.T. Wright (Zondervan Academics) $52.99 | OUR SALE PRICE = $42.39                                            DUE JULY 14, 2020





Interpreting Jesus: Essays on the Gospels N.T. Wright (Zondervan Academics) $52.99 | OUR SALE PRICE = $42.39  DUE JULY 14, 2020                                           





Interpreting Paul: Essays on the Apostle and His Letters N.T. Wright (Zondervan Academics) $44.99 |              OUR SALE PRICE = $35.99                                              DUE JULY 14, 2020




What can we say to explain the significance of these three anthologies by one of the most important theological voices of our lifetime? Agree or not with all of Wright’s brilliantly considered views, he has not only been exceedingly gifted in Christian wisdom based on a rare ability to connect the dots of Biblical texts and teaching but has been almost super-human his prodigious output. We can list only a small handful of similar scholars who do both excellent academic work and serve the church well with more popular level books and who do so very, very much. Tom is a remarkable person and we should rejoice that he has offered his gifts to both the academy and the church.

These three volumes are collections of pieces from academic journals, scholarly chapters of other books, articles, essays, sermons and the like. Hardly anyone could collect all of these as some are from international sources or journals that are not widely available. So while these are not new chapters for most of us they will be as good as new. These are pieces you most likely have not seen or owned.

And, as a matter of fact, there are some brand new essays as well that have not yet be published. Wow.

What a labor of love it was to the editors and compilers to find some of Wright’s best “unsung” work. I know I’ve read chapters in books that I wished were more widely available and now we have it. Thanks be to God.

To make it even more useful, as the publisher explains, Each of the essays “are preceded by brief reflections written by N. T. Wright; these reflections serve to contextualize the writing of each essay and to highlight their place and significance within Wright’s voluminous corpus.”

Just when I wondered what N. T. Wright might write next we get a 3 volume circus of revolving themes and perspectives and worldviews that illustrate why Wright is the most influential biblical scholar in the English-speaking world: Wright is one of the few who shapes conversations in both Gospels studies and Pauline studies. These essays bring to the front Wright’s engaging prose, his undeniable courage to go where few have gone, and his joy to bridge the work of the academy and the church. Another treasure trove of studies.   Dr. Scot McKnight, Professor of New Testament Northern Seminary

A trilogy of N. T. Wright’s seminal essays on Scripture and hermeneutics, Jesus and the Gospels, and Paul and his Letters with a number of brand-new contributions thrown in for good measure? Count me in! For roughly three decades now, Wright’s voice has been among the most valuable and valued by both the church and the academy. Rightly so! This three-volume collection–which will prove to be a treasure trove for serious students as well as for scholars of Bible, history, and theology–reveals why time and again.  Todd D. Still, Dean & Professor of Christian Scriptures, Baylor University, Truett Seminary

Few, if any, modern biblical scholars have written with the depth and breadth of N. T. Wright. These essays, from a wide variety of settings and publications, are full of treasures, old and new–even some modifications of earlier positions. They will delight Wright enthusiasts, challenge his critics, and educate all readers. No biblical scholar, theologian, or theological student should be ignorant of the most recent Wright perspectives on so many aspects of Scripture, Jesus, and Paul.  Michael J. Gorman, Raymond E. Brown Chair in Biblical Studies and Theology St. Mary’s Seminary & University, Baltimore


Beautiful Resistance: The Joy of Conviction in a Culture of Compromise Jon Tyson (Waterbrook) $17.00 | OUR SALE PRICE = $13.60  DUE JULY 21, 2020

I read an early version of this in almost one sitting; I was so enthralled I wanted race ahead to see more of where he was going, what his take would be, what he meant by resistance and compromise, and how he’d appropriate his hero, the late Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I’ve heard Jon speak — he did one of the all-time best-ever talks at the Jubilee conference in Pittsburgh that has been proclaiming the Lordship of Christ over all aspects of life, all careers and callings, for over 40 years. At that event he talked about his work back in Australia in a butcher shop and his conversion and renewal in an upbeat charismatic church. It wasn’t until he heard of Abraham Kuyper and other such thinkers who understood redemption as a wide-as-creation story that his life in the world became to have new meaning and vigor. So much so that he wanted to become a preacher and pastor (and was quite remarkably gifted for it, I think) so that he could help shephard others towards a sort of faith that was neither fundamentalist nor progressive, that was fresh and incarnational, relating worship and work, liturgy and life. He’s my kind of guy, and while his last two books (one on grace and how not to be burdened by legalism or perfectionism and another on redeeming how we speak) were excellent, they didn’t seem to display his robust, creation-regained sort of Kingdom theology that so captured me during his impressive Jubilee conference presentation.

Beautiful Resistance does not rehash that ground, either, actually (although I wished he had cited Schaeffer or Kuyper or Al Wolters, at least) but it pulses with a vivid vision of a faithful sort of discipleship that is joyous and serious, sacrificial and rewarding, that knows to say no to some things in order to say yes to other, better things. (And, man, it sure does cite some fabulous works.) It’s a great title, the two words bringing together themes that are important to historic discipleship but, perhaps not so well known in either mainline Protestant denominational congregations or moderate, efficient, evangelical mega-churches — that there are things in the culture which we are wise to resist, and that to do so, as a Christian counterculture, can be a beautiful thing.

This really is interesting and helpful.

As I paged through this great little book I over and over rejoiced that such stuff was being said by a fairly conventional evangelical leader on a fairly traditional evangelical press. Kudos to Waterbrook for again bringing a lively and even surprising book of life and joy, costly discipleship and resistance, habits nurtured by a community that does life together for the sake of the world.

Thank you to Jon Tyson for his honest concern about how we may have “fit in” to the cool culture a bit too much and may have absorbed some of the worst values that are not consistent with Jesus’s own upside down kingdom. It is rare and good to see lively, Chirst-loving piety and such thoughtful social ethics portrayed in such accesible, chatty conversational prose. This is a great book to share with folks who want to be challenged to a deeper more subversive sort of faith. Get a group together and pre-order a bunch right away.  There’s a big study guide in the back making it ideal for conversations, small groups, and (yes) Zoom conversations.

Western culture is increasingly hostile to the teachings and ways of Jesus. The pressure to compromise is the highest it’s been in my lifetime. The urge to back down on Jesus’s compelling vision of life in the kingdom is greater than ever. This book comes at just the right time–a pastoral, yet prophetic call from one of our generation’s greatest leaders. I was moved in my heart to trust Jesus’s vision of life over that of my culture’s.  John Mark Comer, author of The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry

I believe Jon is one of the great prolific and prophetic voices of our generation. He’s been a pastor in my life for over a decade, starting with my years in New York. Jon casts a timely and compelling vision in his latest work, Beautiful Resistance. He writes with such astute analysis and poignant clarity that several times throughout these pages, I wanted to stand and shout, ‘I’m in!’ May these words be a clarion call to the church to fortify our faith through sacrifice and love.  Rebekah Lyons, author of Rhythms of Renewal and You Are Free

It’s one thing to write on the beauties of the kingdom and how the way of Jesus must be esteemed as better and stronger than the kingdom of this world; it’s another thing altogether to live this. Jon Tyson lives this. He writes and preaches with a uniquely compelling conviction, because it flows from a figure that truly believes that the words and ways of Jesus are better than all this world has to offer. By the end of this book, you will find yourself compelled to join with the likes of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who knew that the beauties of the kingdom of heaven are better than the allure of this world.     Dr. Bryan Loritts, author of Insider Outsider: My Journey as a Stranger in White Evangelicalism and My Hope for Us All

Here is a six minute reading from the first chapter of Beautiful Resistance: The Joy of Conviction in a Culture of Compromise (although not with Jon’s nifty Aussie accent. Enjoy.)




The Grown Woman’s Guide to Online Dating: Lessons Learned While Swiping Right, Snapping Selfies, and Analyzing Emojis Margot Starbuck (Thomas Nelson) $18.99 | OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19  DUE AUGUST 11, 2020

This is another book I am so eager to read — due to Covid, I guess, the publisher couldn’t get a review copy out to me in time. Alas, this is no problem as I’d happily promote anything Margot wrote (and she has written quite a lot.) I was thoroughly won over to her fascinating view of faith and life and the world — not to mention her amazing wordsmithing — when I was bowled over by her memoir Girl in the Orange Dress: Searching for a Father Who Will Not Fail (IVP; $19.00.) Even as a guy, I adored her book Unsqueezed: Springing Free from Skinny Jeans, Nose Jobs, Highlights and Stilettos (IVP; $16.00) and literally just today had reason to recommend her must-read Small Things with Great Love: Adventures in Loving Your Neighbor (Baker; $16.00.) Perhaps you have seen our review of her co-authored book that wisely explores the role of sports in the lives of our kids, Overplayed: A Parent’s Guide to Sanity in the World of Youth Sports (Herald Press; $15.99.) Just this week she released a nice new book, a devotional for women called God Calls You Worthy: 180 Devotions and Prayers to Inspire Your Soul (Barbour Books; $12.99.) You should order as a gift for somebody, maybe. At our 20% off discount you could give a bunch away.

Ms Starbuck has helped numerous authors find their voices and does writing workshops and consulting an co-writing that is very widely esteemed. Few people are so deliriously fun, so earnestly faithful and hopeful about serving others and social change. Like I said Beth and I love her and her work. We recommend reading any of her fabulously interesting, energetically written works.

But now there’s this. It is a bit of a memoir — man, good on her for being so honest as a divorced, almost middled-age post-modern hippy Christian about this — from which we can all learn about relationships, integrity, longing, seeking. There will be lessons learned and if you in the online dating world (and more folks are than I think like to admit it) this book will be a must. I’m sure there is nothing like it as it offers bunches of very specific pointers.

But then she gets busy helping you out.

But I’m going out on a limb and guessing that — promising that — there will be lessons here for all of us. Do you know, deep in your bones, even broken bones, that you are loved? That you are worthy? Do you want to thrive emotionally and spiritually with a freedom that comes from a sure awareness that you are adopted by God, called beloved? I think this is going to move in the direct of truly profound books like Brennan Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel or Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son. But it will be more fun, I guarantee that, too.

Dating or not, unmarried or not, middle-aged or not, whether you even know what the heck swiping right even means, The Grown Woman’s Guide to Online Dating is a book you are going to love. Order it today.

By the way, lot of amazing people have raved about this book. Such as Rashad Jennings (former NFL running back and Dancing with the Stars champion) and the amazing theological writer Kendall Vanderclice (author of We Will Feast: Rethinking Dinner, Worship, and the Community of God.). But here is one I really loved:

“The very day I received Margot Starbuck’s new book I tore into it eagerly, reading until midnight. Which is strange since I’m not in the dating market. But I am in the ‘good reading’ and ‘wise and witty’ market, which is another way of saying ‘I’m in the Margot Starbuck market.’ Pass this book on to anyone who’s dating or thinking of it. They’ll laugh, take notes, avoid tons of awkward dates, and gain buckets of godly savvy. I can’t think of a better guide than Starbuck.”

Leslie Leyland Fields, author of Your Story Matters: Finding, Writing, and Living the Truth of Your Life


Dorothy and Jack: The Transforming Friendship of Dorothy L. Sayers and C. S. Lewis Gina Dalfonzo (Baker) $16.99 | OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59          DUE AUGUST 18, 2020

I hope you are like me and are eager to see this — really eager!  This is a book many of us have been waiting for for decades, and Gina Dalfonzo seems to be just the right person for the job. She is a good writer, a thoughtful woman who has published much about faith and culture, theology and the arts, the church and our societal contexts. That is, she’s been influenced by Lewis and Sayers, both who were known as serious thinkers (but not theologians as such) who brought the light of the gospel to, well, to everything from prose to politics.

You may have heard that the fabulous mystery writer and dramatist and early Christian feminist (the first woman to graduate from Oxford) often corresponded with C.S. Lewis. Sayers was happily married and Jack, as his friends called him, was a confirmed bachelor for most of his life. And yet, despite great odds in post-war, no longer Victorian England, they became equals in thought, colleagues in writing, and good friends. Gina Dalfonzo is a great writer to explore this topic — she’s quite the literary student and has a book coming out soon which collates some of the deeply spiritual themes in Charles Dickens that will be in the Plough Press series The Gospel in… called The Gospel in Dickens: Selections from His Works. It will be published by Plough Press in September ($18.00) and carries a foreword by Karen Swallow Prior. We carry this whole great line of books, by the way.

Dorothy and Jack: The Transforming Friendship of Dorothy L. Sayers and C. S. Lewis will be a great addition to the libraries of anyone who collects books by Lewis and/or Sayers. And it would be an excellent introduction to either for those who haven’t yet become serious fans. Ms. Dalfonzo has been deeply engaged in this literature for a long while but is an easy-to-read popularizer, not an arcane scholar. This makes this book a great choice for most of us, and we highly recommend it.

Perhaps you long for deeper relationships that allow for both intellectual and spiritual growth. Sayers and Lewis modeled this for us and Dalfanzo (who received a Clyde Kilby Research Grant to work on this project) is ideal to help us learn from these famous friends. (She, by the way, wrote about friendship a bit in her helpful book called One by One: Welcoming the Singles in Your Church published by Baker a few years ago; $16.00.  She cites both Lewis and Sayers in that important book.) This theme of friendship is actually a good part of this work and it would do many of us well to allow this historic friendship to inspire us in stewarding this gift of friendship.

One of those keeping the Lewis/Inklings world alive is Dr. Crystal Downing who (with her husband David Downing) co-directs the famous Marion Wade Center at Wheaton Center. Downing is particularly known for her books and creative lectures on Ms Sayers. (I suspect it was Downing who first inspired Dalfonzo to become interested in Sayers when Gina studied under her as a lit major at Messiah College.)

Listen to this lovely endorsement by Crystal Downing, who, like Sayers, wouldn’t dare say something she couldn’t defend:

Beautifully written, Dorothy and Jack will transform not only common understanding of both Lewis and Sayers but also common assumptions about male/female friendships.

By the way, it’s a bit in the distance so we’ll tell you more about it later, but Dr. Downing herself has a serious book on the nearly unprecedented Dorothy Sayers. That can be pre-ordered, now, of course, too. Due in mid-November, we’re eager for Subversive: Christ, Culture, and the Shocking Dorothy L. Sayers from a new imprint of Fortress Press called Broadleaf Books. It’s a hardcover for $24.95. More on that anon.

Vesper Flights Helen MacDonald (Grove Press) $27.00 | OUR SALE PRICE = $21.60                    DUE AUGUST 25, 2020

I cannot say too much about this as I have not yet set eyes upon it, which makes me all the more eager as we anticipate its release date. I am sure we will have it before its official street date, but it is one of those books the publishing world honors with a strictly adhered to official date before which we cannot put it out. That is because it will be one of the big books of the early fall, and many throughout the world have been eagerly awaiting it.

Why, you may ask? Her last book, the New York Times bestselling H is for Hawk was exceptionally well reviewed and beloved from when it first came out in London I think is 2014. Among other accolades it was awarded the Samuel Johnson Prize for nonfiction, and was beloved as a lovely birding book even for those that don’t usually read about bird-watching. The author, you see, was coping with grieve and took up the life-log dream of becoming a falconer.  It was a nearly transcendent story of her relationship with this wildest of birds (a goshawk.) It was called “breathtaking” and “beautiful” and “astonishing” and “indelible.” What a memorable story, what a writer she is. It was often said that after reading H is for Hawk “you’ll never think see a bird overhead the same way again.” Or, think of the pain and beauty of being alive the same way.

This forthcoming new one, Vesper Flights, will surely be equally respected as the poet and naturalist Helen MacDonald offers a collection of essays about the human relationship to the natural world. Here is how the publisher’s catalog puts it:

In Vesper Flights Helen Macdonald brings together a collection of her best loved essays, along with new pieces on topics ranging from nostalgia for a vanishing countryside to the tribulations of farming ostriches to her own private vespers while trying to fall asleep.

Meditating on notions of captivity and freedom, immigration and flight, Helen invites us into her most intimate experiences: observing the massive migration of songbirds from the top of the Empire State Building, watching tens of thousands of cranes in Hungary, seeking the last golden orioles in Suffolk’s poplar forests. She writes with heart-tugging clarity about wild boar, swifts, mushroom hunting, migraines, the strangeness of birds’ nests, and the unexpected guidance and comfort we find when watching wildlife.

I bet you know someone who would love it as a great gift this fall. Pre-order it from us and we’ll be happy to send it wherever you say.


Becoming Brave: Finding the Courage to Pursue Racial Justice Now Brenda Salter McNeil (Brazos Press) $21.99 | OUR SALE PRICE = $17.59           DUE AUGUST 25, 2020

We have met this insightful sister and she is a stunning Christian leader, a great communicator, an excellent teacher, an evangelist, and author of a good number of books. In our last post where we listed, after the police murder of George Floyd, books about racism written by people of color, we naturally highlighted her recent Roadmap to Reconciliation 2.0: Moving Communities Into Unity, Wholeness and Justice an updated and expanded edition of a previous classic (IVP; $20.00.) It’s very good.

When we heard she had moved to a new publisher, we thought it might be good for her, shifting a bit to a different, perhaps broader audience, maybe tweaking her work and tone a bit. I do not know if in Becoming Brave she shifts in any significant ways (I suspect that she does not.) It does seem to be painfully urgent, an anguished cry to deepen our faith, step up, being bolder than ever. I am sure it will be stimulating, passionate, Biblical, and written with a charming touch, even if the material is at times difficult. I’m sure it will be wise and useful guidance for anyone wanting to, as the subtitle explains, “purse racial justice now.” Becoming Brave takes its cue from the book of Esther, and I am sure that this will become a classic study of the book.

That Austin Channing Brown (increasingly known for the exquisite  I’m Still Here) did the foreword is important, too. That’s good to see.

Allow me to share what other esteemed and discerning folks say about Brenda Salter McNeil, her work and witness, and, particularly, this soon to be released very important new work. Reading these descriptions will help you determine if you should pre-order this now; I think it is obvious that you should.

“Part confession, part biblical reflection, part call to storm the gates, Becoming Brave declares that the Christian call to do justice cannot and shall no longer be guided, shaped, and defanged by sensibilities more loyal to white people’s comfort than to God. A must-read.”
— Lisa Sharon Harper, founder and president, Freedom Road

“There is no one who understands more clearly what is necessary to move white evangelicals forward beyond their racial captivity than Brenda Salter McNeil, and there is no more important book that must find its way into the hands of students, pastors, Christian activists, and all those who understand the urgency of this moment than Becoming Brave.”
— Willie James Jennings, professor, Yale Divinity School; author of After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging

“Real prophets lovingly criticize and truthfully energize. McNeil does both with clarity and rare vulnerability. This book will move your heart and compel your feet to move as well, with others, in response to God’s call to do justice.”
— Jennifer Harvey, author of Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America

“There is not a more credible, seasoned, and dynamic voice in the country that could speak to us about leadership and reconciliation than Brenda Salter McNeil. I cannot recommend Becoming Brave strongly enough.”
— Daniel Hill, pastor; author of White Awake

“Once again, Dr. McNeil proves herself as a leading theologian and practitioner of reconciliation and justice. She brilliantly uncovers, through the book of Esther, how God uses the marginalized as brave vessels of transformation. I am grateful for her reminding us of the courageous women of the Bible and how they can inspire justice-oriented disciplemakers today.”
— Efrem Smith, co-senior pastor, Bayside Church Midtown, Granite Bay, California; author of Killing Us Softly

“Rev. Brenda, one of the American church’s great leaders of racial reconciliation, delves into the unexpected disruptions she has encountered during her journey toward deep reconciliation. She models and illuminates a path for others. A fantastic resource for advocating for and embodying justice.”
— Nikki Toyama-Szeto, executive director, Evangelicals for Social Action at the Sider Center of Eastern University”I want to be a leader for racial reconciliation. Dr. McNeil’s book is an essential tool for my leadership education. And while I was inspired by the wisdom of the book, it’s going to challenge you. It pulls no punches. For these reasons, it is an essential read.”
— Shirley Hoogstra, president, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities”This book is a clarion call that cuts through the fog of our partisan arguments and blazes a path to abundant life for all. All of those who are suffering unjustly at this time need you to read this book and respond.”
— Alexia Salvatierra, Centro Latino professor, School of Intercultural Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary
The Dust of Death: The Sixties Counterculture and How It Changed America Forever (IVP Signature Collection) Os Guinness (IVP) $24.00        | OUR SALE PRICE = $19.20                                   DUE SEPTEMBER 1, 2020
I will simply have to review this more properly when we get some time; I have long said it is one of the most influential books in my own life and a personal favorite which I have revisited often since the 1970s when it first came out.  It has been out of print for years, and we are thrilled that it is being re-issued with what I am sure will be an important new introduction. It was pioneering, a milestone, and it is oddly as important now as ever before. We hope many people order it and find themselves learning more than they perhaps realized about how very important the content of this book is.

Dr. Guinness is a hero of ours, a person who has encouraged me and Beth considerably and whose books we routinely name as among the most important, year after year after year. Some have been more popular than others, naturally, and I have appreciated them each differently. But there is a very special place for The Dust of Death because it was so very insightful and because it introduced me to a robust and substantive Christian worldview, illustrated that those I’d eventually learn were called evangelicals were often quite thoughtful, deeply committed to the most important matters in human life, and could be a helpful, healing movement to bring God’s perspective and redemption to bear on our very broken world. In the ’70s, as I recall, there simply was no book like this that grappled with the things the late and post 60s generation was taking in. 

And so, the Dust of Death uses brilliant analysis and wonderful prose to explore the strengths and weaknesses of the culture and the counterculture.  Guinness visited the US (from England) in 1968 and some of his experiences and many, many conversations make their way into this major book. It seemed at the time to be offering a very profound critique of the right and the left, and a serious hope which Guinness nicely and somewhat evocatively called “a third way.” I had never seen anything like it.
This was before the rise of the Christian right, of course, before the hardening of the American left, during the time of domestic bombings and airplanes being highjacked, Black power salutes at the Olympics, Woodstock, Watergate, the rise of mysticism and a rise in post-rationalist fantasy literature. There had been a philosophy of drug use and yet there was a revival among the youth — Jesus Freaks we sometimes called ourselves.
By the turn of that pivotal decade, The Beatles had broken up, youth pop culture was influencing fashion and TV, and by the mid-70s Nixon was out and disco was in; the times they were a-changin’. And yet with social change movements still doing civil disobedience and massive protests, alongside the increasing bureaucracies emerging everywhere, the contrast between the culture and the counterculture deepened. And few Christians offered incisive, Biblically-informed analysis let alone wisdom on “how should we then live.” Guinness pointed in the right direction and my discipleship was shaped in decisive ways. I thank God for this author and for this book.
The Dust of Death is being reprinted, happily, by its original publisher and it will take its place alongside a growing shelf of “Signature Classics.” These are books that IVP has found to be influential and classic, important to be reintroduced to a new generation. For instance, my friend Steve Garber (another who was influenced by the seriousness of the vision behind Guinness’s Dust of Death, by the way) recently did a wonderful new introduction to a “Signature Classics” re-release of Francis Schaeffer’s The God Who Is There, which has been in print for over 50 years. I happen to have a nice blurb on the inside of the great handbook for basic Christian growth called The Fight by John White, also just re-issued. In the last BookNotes I shared my enthusiasm for the re-issue as a “IVP Signature Classic” the great, great book by Carl Ellis called Free at Last?: The Gospel in the African American Experience.

Later this Fall we will see the beloved allegory of Christ come to Earth that was once hugely popular, The Singer by the great Calvin Miller.

This whole series is to be commended and we are glad for some older books from decades ago re-appearing with new covers and some new introductions explaining why they are still so relevant. Among them all, I think The Dust of Death:The Sixties Counterculture and How It Changed America by Os Guinness is perhaps the most significant, and we invite you to pre-order it now. It would make us glad and you will be challenged to think well about our American past in these past generations. Thanks for caring.

“Anyone interested in the history of evangelical Christianity in the US during the turbulence of the sixties should read this thoughtful cultural analysis, which not only critiqued the establishment and the counter culture but also, since its publication fifty years ago, has shaped a generation of American evangelicals. Os Guinness stands in a line of Europeans—including Alexis de Tocqueville, G. K. Chesterton, and Frances Trollope—who have helped us see ourselves in the context of world history and cultures. Whether you find The Dust of Death prophetic or myopic, enlightening or provoking, it will most definitely make you think. It may also engender your hope for the future of the Christian faith in even our, again, very turbulent times.”  Susan S. Phillips, executive director and professor of sociology and Christianity at New College Berkeley, author of The Cultivated Life

“To make sense of contemporary ‘mainstream’ America, one has to understand the countercultural revolution of the 1960s. The ‘dust of death’ it threw up is now settling across every aspect of American life. Os Guinness’s study of that movement remains a magisterial work—nothing short of required reading for anyone seeking wisdom and understanding to cope with its challenges in this present day.”  J. Stanley Mattson, founder and president of the C. S. Lewis Foundation


Who Will Be a Witness? Igniting Activism for God’s Justice, Love, and Deliverance Drew G.I. Hart (Herald Press) $18.99 | OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19  DUE SEPTEMBER 1, 2020

I hope you know Drew Hart’s very important, well written and honest analysis of racism, his 2016 Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism. We’ve promoted it the best we could and taken it to almost every event we’ve done these past years. Partially, we promote it earnestly because it’s clear and accesible, honest and raw, Biblical and faithful. Also, it is set partially here in Central Pennsylvania and Hart narrates some time living in urban Harrisburg. He got his PhD from the Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia (now called United Lutheran Seminary having merged in 2017 with Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary) and is a popular professor at Messiah College. When a local author makes such a contribution, we’re eager to get the word out.

Which is why we’d are very eager to encourage you to pre-order this riveting, blistering, vitally urgent new book. Who Will Be a Witness? is, I am sure, one of the books that will be used to encourage those wanting to move beyond sadness about racial injustice to bold action and faithful public reform. Hart has evolved as an ecumenical public theologian and here interacts with a variety of voices from the breadth of church history — the early church fathers, Augustine, the Anabaptists, American black heroes (Ida B. Wells, Howard Thurman, the radical King, Vincent Harding), various liberation theologians, and vital contemporary thinkers from Chad Meyers to N.T. Wright to Alan Kreider. It is a mature study, indeed, but with the feel of a manifesto.

And, I really enjoyed that Professor Hart, in nice teacherly fashion, often narrates the book in first person, saying what he learned in this book or why he loves this Biblical text or that contemporary social critic. That is, there are moments of good scholarship and deep theological formation but the writing is conversational, making the material accesible. That doesn’t mean he just dumbs it down; no. He’s just a good teacher and good writer, and we get to learn along with him as he teases out the implications of Scripture and history and modern writers. It’s a very good book.

Not only is Who Will Be a Witness? energetic and crisply written and clear, it does offer instruction on things congregations can do. It is a call to action and a guide to actually getting involved. There are chapter titles such as “The Politics of the Church” and “Justice and the Worshipping Community” that point to his deep ecclesiology. And there are chapters like “The Things That Make for Peace: Conducive Strategies for Ecclesial Grassroots Justice Work.” It’s an exciting chapter, actually and shows how to actually live out, locally, his call to be part of a “politics of love.” Professor Hart knows enough to know that we need on-ramps and helpful advice, even some maps and compasses, if not exactly blueprints.

As thoughtful and challenging as Who Will Be a Witness? Igniting Activism for God’s Justice, Love, and Deliverance will be for some, it will be very useful for many that want to take next steps towards incarnating the ways of Christ and to be the radical community of disciples to which He calls us.

Drew Hart has written the most challenging and enriching book that I have read in a very long time — a book brimming over with moral urgency, uncommon wisdom, and spiritual insight. At its core, it summons the church to do what the American church has seldom done — to discern and then burst the bonds of nationalism, capitalism, American exceptionalism, and white supremacy, and to embrace instead the revolutionary vocation of Jesus…

Richard Hughes, author of  Myths America Lives By: White Supremacy and the Stories That Give Us Meaning


Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope Esau McCaulley (IVP Academic) $20.00 | OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00  DUE SEPTEMBER 1, 2020

In some circles in which we travel — especially among the staff of the CCO (Coalition for Christian Outreach) — this has been the most anticipated book of the year. Dr. McCaulley (who teaches Biblical studies at Wheaton College) has done some of our staff training for CCO and last year spoke at the Pittsburgh Jubilee Conference. To say he was appreciated is putting it mildly; his wit and Biblical insight, his candor about race and commitment to rigorous evangelical hermeneutics was powerful. Young adults (mostly white, but not all) adored his academic insight, his pastoral care, and his prophetic willingness to speak the truth in love. He is an Anglican Canon, has worked with churches in Japan and Scotland, and brings an important appreciation for how the local church is shaped by worship and he draws here on a variety of approaches and moves learned from the heart of the African American church. He got his PhD, by the way, under N.T. Wright at Saint Andrews.

There have been other books collecting essays on black Bible reading, on African American hermeneutics, even on black woman’s hermeneutics. Reading While Black not only has a great, punchy title, but brings a unique level of insight and Anglican faith to this project. Our friends who have pre-ordered it already have reason to be on the waiting list. Dr. Esau McCaulley is a vital rising voice (catch his blogs and podcasts, too) and this new book is very, very important.

I think the publicity from the publisher puts it well, so I will share that for your consideration:

Growing up in the American South, Esau McCaulley knew firsthand the ongoing struggle between despair and hope that marks the lives of some in the African American context.

A key element in the fight for hope, he discovered, has long been the practice of Bible reading and interpretation that comes out of traditional Black churches. This ecclesial tradition is often disregarded or viewed with suspicion by much of the wider church and academy, but it has something vital to say. Reading While Black is a personal and scholarly testament to the power and hope of Black biblical interpretation. At a time in which some within the African American community are questioning the place of the Christian faith in the struggle for justice, New Testament scholar McCaulley argues that reading Scripture from the perspective of Black church tradition is invaluable for connecting with a rich faith history and addressing the urgent issues of our times. He advocates for a model of interpretation that involves an ongoing conversation between the collective Black experience and the Bible, in which the particular questions coming out of Black communities are given pride of place and the Bible is given space to respond by affirming, challenging, and, at times, reshaping Black concerns. McCaulley demonstrates this model with studies on how Scripture speaks to topics often overlooked by white interpreters, such as ethnicity, political protest, policing, and slavery. Ultimately McCaulley calls the church to a dynamic theological engagement with Scripture, in which Christians of diverse backgrounds dialogue with their own social location as well as the cultures of others. Reading While Black moves the conversation forward.

“I’m extremely grateful to have a voice in my time to speak with nuance, grace, and cultural awareness. Esau has given us a healthy marriage for understanding theology and blackness. This is a must-read!” Lecrae, hip hop recording artist

“It is enlightening, moving, and galvanizing to overhear these notes of appreciation and reciprocated encouragement from a son of the Black church to the Black ecclesial interpreters who nurtured and continue to nourish him. From here on out, this book will be required reading in any course on biblical hermeneutics that I teach.”  Wesley Hill, associate professor of biblical studies, Trinity School for Ministry

“When I was a student, I was explicitly and implicitly trained to focus exclusively on the ancient context of Scripture and read ‘objectively.’ Bible study could easily become a disembodied experience. McCaulley makes a compelling case, in this engagement with African American biblical interpretation, that not only is the reader’s culture and experience not a hindrance to interpretation per se but can enrich it greatly. Reading While Black is a unique and successful blend of biblical hermeneutics, autobiography, black history and spirituality, incisive cultural commentary on race matters in America, and insightful exegesis of select New Testament texts.” Nijay K. Gupta, professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary

“Esau McCaulley’s voice is one we urgently need to hear. This book is prophetic, biblical, measured, wise, friendly, and well-reasoned—and thus all the more hard-hitting. A powerful word for our times.”  N. T. Wright, professor of New Testament at the University of St Andrews, senior research fellow at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford


A Year of Playing Catch: What a Simple Daily Experiment Taught Me about Life               Ethan D. Bryan (Zondervan) $18.99 | OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19  DUE SEPTEMBER 8, 2020

I’ve been waiting to tell you about this book for a while — it is a book that is so interesting and earnest and honest and inspiring and fun that I think it could become a huge cross-over best seller.

A Year of Playing Catch has it all. Baseball? Check. Playfulness? Check. Family-focused? Check. Social justice minded? Memoir? History? Check, check, check. Faith? Yes. Well written? Yes, yes. I don’t know the magic that allows a book to become truly famous but I invite you to spread the word on this winner of a book that will most likely best be described as a sleeper. Surprisingly, it’s awesome. And it really should take off, like his beloved  Kansas City Royals unexpectedly did a few year back.

Let me get this out of the way: Ethan has been a good friend of our store and I’ve reviewed his other sports-related books (he’s a Royals fan, did I mention?) and book about him and his dad, a book about music, a wonderful little kid’s book, and his splendid back-to-high-school novel Dreamfield. He did a book about playing catch to raise awareness about human trafficking and set captives free cleverly called Catch and Release. I’m mentioned in at least one of them, and I’m grateful. But, look: my reputation as bookseller and reviewer won’t last if I rave about books just because friends wrote them or because I happen to like the character and lifestyle of the author. Lots of great people do bad books and (also true) bad people do some great books.

I gotta call ’em as I see ’em.

It really is special when truly wonderful people hone their craft, work hard at being a writer, write small books, self publish, offer poetry and stories and songs for free, putting themselves and their art out there for the good of others. And it is really special when somebody in the big leagues recognizes them and give them their big break. With a major publisher working with Ethan now, I couldn’t be happier. He deserves it.

He deserves to have this book be widely known also because it is such a oddly fascinating little story. He decided to play a game of catch every day for a year with at least 365 different people. It’s one of those from the field reports of a year-long experiments, clever reality journalism. I did not participate, although I’ve been kicking myself for a year that I didn’t. (Maybe in the sequel, Ethan!) Whether one is a baseball fan or not, whether one has good memories of playing catch as a kid –and he discovered that many do, often children with their dads, which becomes important, as you can imagine — Playing Catch is a page turner where in quiet sorts of ways, Ethan brings really important stuff to the fore. He writes about fear and hope, about goals and social change, about family and hospitality, about sexism and racism, about money and power, about seeing the good in others as we listen to their stories. In his gentle, nice way, he notices a lot and it is worth listening to him tell us about it. Plus, the antics he has to preform to make this daily dream a reality is captivating. The drama makes this quixotic plan that took him across the country into a very good story and a really great book.

Give this book to anybody who has ever put on a glove or pitched a ball back and forth. Certainly give it to anybody who is interested in baseball history. (I won’t give a way too much, but if you like the movie Field of Dreams you’ve got to read this. And if, like Beth and I, you adore A League of Their Own, you have got to pick this book up right away.)

Give it to anybody who likes to goof around, or maybe better, to anyone who has become too busy and forgotten the value of play. Do you want to find joy in simple things? Read A Year of Playing Catch.

But as much baseball as is in this sparkling, surprising book, I’d say give it to anybody who likes to read a wholesome story about a crazy dream and pulling it off. Who wants to make a difference. Who believe in the power of grace and redemption. Do you like Bob Goff? Ethan is a small town Bob Goff. A Year of Playing Catch tells his story of this unexpected ministry. Ethan is a blast his hope is contagious. He has a bag of gloves in his old car to prove it. He’ll share them with you.

“This book is a gem like baseball itself — everyday, interesting, thoughtful and funny. It is an inside the book home run.”  Robert Benson, author of The Game: One Man, Nine Innings & a Love Affair With Baseball 



Marriage in the Middle: Embracing Midlife Surprises, Challenges, and Joys Dorothy Littell Greco (IVP) $16.00 | OUR SALE PRICE = $12.80   DUE SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

I cannot say much about this as we have not seen the manuscript — just one of my little Covid complaints — but I am positive that it is a book we want to honor, celebrate, promote. We encourage you to consider it, even if you aren’t in the mid-life years of marriage. And if you are, I’m sure it is a must-read.

I am eager to say at least these three main things and hope our readers take them to heart: these odd times of quarantine has hurt extended families in many ways and has made supportive community (small groups, dinner parties, book clubs) hard to come by. This sad season has, for many, been hard on family life, intimacy, and marriage. Almost everyone can benefit from a good family or marriage book from time to time and I recommend reading something along these lines at least once a year. But now, with the extra stresses and complications we would be wise to go out of our way — be intentional as the kids say — to strengthen up our relationships. Reading Dorothy Greco will be nicely helpful, at the very least; maybe marriage saving, even for those who might really need it. These times certainly call for some extra help for all of us and we happily recommend her as an author whose books can serve as a friend, guide, conversation partner; it’s cheaper than couple’s therapy, eh? So, know that you are not alone in this and you’ve can get help. That’s first: the time is right to read this book, or something like it.

Secondly, I’m very eager to remind you that we loved Ms Greco’s previous book on marriage that we have commended often for any number of good reasons. It is called Making Marriage Beautiful: Lifelong Love, Joy, and Intimacy Start with You (David C. Cook; $16.99) and we liked it just because of how nicely it was written with this theme of beauty and goodness, and how it avoided many of the cliches and downright offensive stuff found in many Christian marriage books. I trust her voice, her theology, her wisdom, and her cultural concerns — speaking out for the dignity of women, the rights of immigrants, the worth of the poor — so her earlier Making Marriage Beautiful or the forthcoming Marriage in the Middle are great and reliable gifts. Frankly, most of the best marriage books are written by men, so it is good to have couples read a thoughtful and writerly woman for a change. She is an author whose name you should know.

Thirdly, this book does fill a real need, that of the middle aged readers for whom the latest martial spat or joy is not their first rodeo. Many otherwise fabulous marriage books seem to be written (and some obliviously are) for newly weds or the fairly young. Not Marriage in the Middle which takes the mid-life stage of life seriously. I happen to know she did a ton of research on this, and there is a section in the book that narrates a whole batch of fascinating, illuminating interviews she did with couples talking about the ups and downs, challenges and joys, of this particular season of life. As the publisher has written,

Midlife is a season of challenge and change–professionally, relationally, physically, and spiritually. But “midlife” doesn’t have to be synonymous with “crisis” within our marriages. With vulnerability and insight, this book will inspire and encourage you to invest in your relationship with your spouse, enabling you both to thrive as you face this era together.

There will be plenty here for all sorts of readers, from the first interesting chapter (“The Paradox of Midlife Marriage: Crisis of Opportunity?”) to good writing on the “telos” of the whole marital thing. She looks at sex, disappointment, changes, sex, community. (“We’ll get by with a little — or a lot — of help from our friends.”) The blurbs on the back are from a wide range of folks, including many who are racial and ethnic minorities — I am grateful that this suggests the book is sensitive (as I am sure it is) to a variety of social settings for those of us in these mid-life marriages. She suggests, I believe, that the book is ideal for readers ages 40 – 65.  Yay.

I so appreciate this commendation quote by an early reader:

I am so grateful for this book and for Dorothy Greco. After forty-two years of marriage, typical marriage books just don’t cut it. I need a book and an author who gets the wildly textured ups and downs of long, shared histories, who still can inspire me forward. Greco does this brilliantly. She has woven together an astonishing blend of research, theology, interviews, and personal stories; I am nearly breathless with insight and encouragement. This book will change your marriage.


The Colors of Culture: The Beauty of Diverse Friendships  Melindajoy Mingo (IVP) $14.00 | OUR SALE PRICE = $11.20                                      DUE SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

This was one of those books that was delayed in its Spring release date by the complications of the Covid-19 virus and pandemic but we are truly glad to be able to announce it now, here. This is a book that should be of great interest to so many good folks and we hope a lot of people consider it. It is in that sweet spot of being thoughtful and well informed by serious cross-cultural scholarship, theology, and ministry experience and, yet, is a pretty simple guidebook, a very useful tool, like a honest conversation with a savvy friend who can tell you what you really need to know. There are stories from all over the world showing how many different sorts of cultural “colors” can cross barriers and set aside (often through mistakes and struggle) prejudice and bias and become real friends.

We are glad that there has been a huge uptick in reading about racial justice; nation-wide it is an unexpected phenomenon. The murder of George Floyd and too many leaders less than sensitive to the deep pain experienced by people of color in this country in the weeks following (as witnessed by the knee jerk conservative reactions to much of the BLM protests) just pushed many of us from vague interest to intentional action, wanting to learn, to listen, to read, to become allies. We have sold many copies of How to Be An Antiracist and White Fragility and Color of Compromise and I’m Still Here. From Stamped from the Beginning to Cone’s Cross and the Lynching Tree to Eric Mason’s Woke Church there has been deepening desires to understand and dismantle institutional racism and systemic injustices. Some might say “it’s about time” but, no matter, we are grateful. We are proud of our Hears & Minds customers for taking this up so eagerly.

And yet. We must all reach out beyond our (often) homogeneous reading groups and (usually) fairly mono-culture churches and workplaces and, well, develop cross cultural friendships. We have books about this, but many seem rather heady about cultural theories and anthropology, maybe written for cross cultural travelers or missionaries. Call us if you need a list. But for fairly ordinary folks wanting to be more culturally and ethnically intelligent so that he or she might be a better friend to folks from others cultures, The Colors of Culture by this lovely educator and  pastor and Christian leader is just what is needed.  Don’t you just love the sub-title — “the beauty of diverse friendships”? This surely is a great little book and we are happy to celebrate its release this fall.

MelindaJoy Mingo is an ordained minister, professor, cultural capacity expert, and entrepreneur based in Colorado Springs. She is the founder of Je-Nai International Ministry and Significant Life Change, Inc., and has developed multicultural initiatives both at home and abroad. She holds a PhD in global leadership and an honorary doctorate in urban transformative leadership and has been widely recognized for her teaching and training in cross-cultural competency.

Listen to these beautiful and energetic endorsements, all recommending that folks consider The Colors of Culture:

“A must-read with an open embrace is right here in The Colors of Culture! This book is an astounding body of work with truth and remedy on topics that have been misinterpreted and misunderstood for far too long. The message in this book comes straight from our Holy Great Spirit Creator. Dr. MelindaJoy’s compelling accounts of humanness come through both her personal life’s encounters and how she has observed others. This is evidenced in how she has built relationships and bridges in places that are close to her heart.

“I am honored to say that we have more than ten years of working together both on the reservations, within the inner cities, and in multicultural communities all over Turtle Island (US). She is one who makes no apology in the book with regard to her ancestry or her birthright and has a remarkably rooted confidence in her beautiful indigenous (Native First Nation and African) heritage. She is both compassionate and courageous with her message during this moment in time and presents a compelling viewpoint of our humanness and how we intersect in life with others more than we realize.

The Colors of Culture is a sacred bundle of wisdom and truly an eloquent delivery of raw remedy. I will strongly suggest this book to my First Nations people. Pilamaya~in gratitude.”   Cahuilla K. M. Red Elk, retired tribal attorney, founder and CEO of the Center on Human Rights and American Indian Law Advocacy

“You need to read The Colors of Culture with an open heart and posture of a learner! The message woven throughout the book of stepping out of our places of comfort and being intentional in building authentic relationships in order to reach diverse people is needed now in our society more than ever before.

“Dr. MelindaJoy Mingo brings a fresh, new, and powerful voice in the arena of unity, diversity, and the role of the gospel in moving us beyond past hurts to the beauty and joy of cultivating and sustaining diverse relationships. The winsome art of personal storytelling from around the world allows us to follow the message of the value and worth of all people while pointing to deeper implications of change that occur when we allow the truth of the gospel to bring transformation in our lives and those we journey with in life. This book is written with authenticity of heart and the truth of the gospel. It will be both a joyful and thought-provoking read. This book presents a timely and compelling message not just for this generation but for generations to come.”  John M. Perkins, cofounder and president emeritus of the John and Vera Mae Perkins Foundation and Christian Community Development Association

Everything Is Spiritual: Who We Are and What We’re Doing Here Rob Bell (St. Martin’s Press) $27.99 | OUR SALE PRICE = $21.60                    DUE SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

I wondered if I needed to put this here as a great one to pre-order since, well, a lot of folks have given up on the relevance of Bell’s books to their current lives. And those that do follow him are true fans and probably ordered it at some slick place a half a year ago. If I recommend him, some will roll their eyes (unfairly, I think) and others will be glad, but not place an order.

Still, I loved Rob’s work when he was doing sort of stand up lectures out at clubs and bars and cool lecture venues. Some of you will recall that he filled up a big white board writing stuff about quantum physics. It was better (and longer) than a TED talk, but that sort of extended stand up performance art, half lecture, half storytelling, half testimony and half comedy. That that doesn’t add  up is part of the mystery — okay, that’s my dumb joke; he is much deeper than than. There was a DVD of that lecture tour called, yep, Everything Is Spiritual and I gather that this book is drawn from those electrifying  presentations.

(Watch these couple minutes of Rob Bell on Youtube to see a quick glimpse of a small portion of the old “Everything is Spiritual” presentation. You can find the whole out there if you want, I bet.)

Can understanding the creation’s intricacies and postmodern science help us know who we are? Job 12:8 says so, so maybe Bell is on to something. I haven’t see the book yet, but wanted to suggest you pre-order it now if you’d like and we can send it out as soon as it arrives mid-September.

Preacher, justice activist, and author of Tears We Cannot Stop, Michael Dyson, says this about this forthcoming book:

In Everything Is Spiritual, Rob Bell updates Teilhard de Chardin’s Catholic mysticism, makes sexier Werner Heisenberg’s quantum physics, and baptizes Jewish Kabbalah in an exciting vision of the future of human evolution. Bell challenges the notion that science and belief are at war with his sublime fusion of Christian faith and modern evolutionary science. Bell’s book is the perfect antidote to the plague of an evangelical worldview that is captive to imperial dreams and a literalism that kills the spirit of Christianity. Everything Is Spiritual is a bracing and stirring manifesto for a fresh contemporary vision of an ancient faith

That may or may not be all that’s going on in this forthcoming release that is sure to be talked about and even critiqued (fairly, and unfairly, I’d bet) this fall. I’m sure it will be interesting and provocative and, like his pal Mike the Science Guy McHargue, will appeal to many. There are other books to read that are more precisely about science, some written by very solid theologians who also have degrees in science; you could start with Francis Collins or Deborah Haarsma. But this Bell book, too, could be a really stimulating read for those who aren’t going to wade through Alister McGrath or John Lennox or even John Polkinghorne. Give us a call if you want some of those sorts. If you want to pre-order Everything Is Spiritual, we’d be delighted to send it out as soon as it hits.

Bavinck: A Critical Biography James Eglinton (Baker Academic) $44.99 | OUR SALE PRICE = $35.99  DUE SEPTEMBER 29, 2020 

I don’t know if we’ll have bunches of folks rushing to buy this hefty historical biography (480 pages) but I hope we do. I’m telling you, in so many ways, Herman Bavinck (1852-1921) was a fascinating figure, and  hugely important thinker and activist and apologist for a sort of faith that demands our all because Christ is the King of all areas of life. Some say he helped define what has become known as neo-Calvinism with its emphasis on a truly intregal/organic Christian philosophical world and life view. Bavinck was one of the enduring conversation partners with the more famous Abraham Kuyper whose life and teaching transformed much of Holland and certain set the stage for a certain sort of cultural engagement in the middle of the 20th century onward here in North America.

He not only argued for a broad vision of redemption and public theology, but also needed to engage a modernist threat within theology and culture. He in his life was in discussion with (modern theologian) Schleiermacher on one hand and coping with the rise of a Nietzsche cult in Holland. He grappled with issues of faith as it relates to science, the existential threat of the nihilists, and the deep philosophical questions about the nature of the human person.

If any Dutch Reformed theologian needs to be better understood alongside Kuyper, Bavinck is the one. And if anybody — anybody — in the world should be chosen to help us, it is the extraordinary scholar (and, let’s just say it, fanboy) the eminent Scottish scholar James Eglinton. Dr. Eglinton earned his PhD from the prestigious University of Edinburgh and is Meldrum Senior Lecturer in Reformed Theology at the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland. He previously served as senior researcher in systematic and historical theology at the Theologische Universiteit Kampen. Eglinton is the author or editor of several books, including Herman Bavinck on Preaching and Preachers. He also serves as associate editor of the Journal of Reformed Theology. He brings some new insights to Bavinck studies — or so I gather; in a stimulating introduction he says as much — and for this, many who realize the importance of this stuff are very grateful.

Here is a couple of minutes dialogue with Eglinton about Bavinck (and his relationship with Kuyper) and why Calvinism ought to be seen as a big and broad theology to see how the gospel can inform every area of life. Both lectured at Princeton in the early 1900s and neither felt their American audience quite got it.  Here is an hour-long conversation (with Dr. Eglinton only one of several guests) on their translation of a book on worldview by Bavinck. There is a bit of a renaissance of Bavinck studies, so this is good to know about. And here is a delightful  lecture in honor of Bavinck by Richard Mouw, given last year in Holland. Some of the ideas here are nicely shared in his new book All That God Cares about: Common Grace and Divine Delight. More on that, soon.

Eglinton’s big forthcoming biography is obviously “impeccably researched” as Kristen Deede Johnston (author of The Justice Calling) from Western Seminary has said, but it is also accessible. It is informative about the wide ranging theological and cultural work in which Bavinck was engaged and it somehow make it relevant for us a century later.

Just take in these excellent assessments of the importance of this forthcoming volume:

“When it comes to theologians that contemporary church leaders should be reading, I don’t know of a more important one than Herman Bavinck. No one can grasp the theology of an Augustine or Aquinas, a Calvin or Luther, without knowing their life and context. James Eglinton has provided this in his new critical biography of the greatest Reformed theologian of the twentieth century. A very important yet highly readable volume.”
— Timothy Keller, pastor emeritus, Redeemer Presbyterian Church of New York City”Impeccably researched and thoroughly readable, James Eglinton’s biography of Herman Bavinck deserves a wide readership. As Eglinton invites us into Bavinck’s faithful and creative engagement with pluralism, psychology, Nietzsche, education for women, evangelism, missions, racism in America, and politics, we see that we still have much to learn from this member of the great cloud of witnesses.”
— Kristen Deede Johnson, Western Theological Seminary”Eglinton demonstrates that Bavinck was a brilliant, creative theologian. For those who are discovering that brilliance in Bavinck’s writings newly translated into English, we now have the gift of a wonderfully readable and informative narrative of Bavinck’s spiritual and theological journey. This important book confirms what many of us have been convinced of for some time now: Bavinck’s time has come as a world-class theologian for our own day.”
— Richard Mouw, president emeritus, Fuller Theological Seminary

“Eglinton is the modern biographer Herman Bavinck deserves. Eglinton is a theologian who is inspired by Bavinck’s search for an orthodox engagement with the modern world, knows this world and Bavinck’s works well, reads them in Dutch, has researched Bavinck’s papers meticulously as a historian, and composes and writes smoothly, as Bavinck himself did. What a treat that Bavinck has this kindred spirit as biographer.”
— George Harinck, historian, The Neo-Calvinism Research Institute, TU Kampen

“Eglinton’s biography of Bavinck is outstanding. Scholarly but accessible, it offers an account of Bavinck’s life and work in its historical context. The picture that emerges here is neither that of a reactionary conservative nor that of a man divided against himself, as others have claimed, but that of a churchman navigating the waters of modernity with the tools of a deep and devout theological tradition. A wonderful companion volume to the Dogmatics.”
— Carl R. Trueman, Grove City College

“In James Eglinton, Herman Bavinck has the biographer he so richly deserves, his own Scottish James Boswell. Using fresh archival sources, Eglinton provides new insights into the man, the churchman, and the thinker who was, alongside Abraham Kuyper, the most important figure in the revival of Dutch Calvinism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Through careful historical research Eglinton places Bavinck in his broader intellectual and spiritual context as a modern person and effectively challenges some of the oft-repeated myths about him and his secession Christian Reformed community. This will be the definitive Bavinck biography for generations.”
— John Bolt, Calvin Theological Seminary (emeritus)”Here is an elegantly written and intimate portrait of a theological giant in the Reformed tradition, based on a thorough reading of all of Bavinck’s published and unpublished writings. Eglinton superbly documents Bavinck’s intense personal, spiritual, and intellectual wanderings and wonderings that ultimately led him to the creation of his four-volume masterwork on Christian dogma. This book is destined to be the standard biographical introduction to Herman Bavinck for years to come.”
— John Witte Jr., Emory University”Doctrine is forged on the anvil of life, and thus any attempt to understand a theologian’s works must factor in the foundry of personal history. Devotees of Herman Bavinck can celebrate that they now have a biography that serves this task. Eglinton has written an exceptionally well-researched account for anyone seeking to understand Bavinck and the modern Reformed tradition. Eglinton pairs in-depth research with insightful analysis. Readers will not be disappointed with the fruit of his outstanding labors.”
— J. V. Fesko, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi
“Eglinton’s critical biography of Herman Bavinck is the first that gives an in-depth account of the unity-in-diversity and diversity-in-unity of the theologian’s thought and life. I can hardly express how grateful I am for this publication. I cannot wait to see how Eglinton’s biography reshapes our understanding of Bavinck’s life, as well as our conceptions of Christian scholarship in particular and Christian calling in general.”
— Shao Kai Tseng, Institute of Religious Studies, Zhejiang University, China


Jack: A Novel Marilynne Robinson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) $27.00 | OUR SALE PRICE = $21.60         DUE SEPTEMBER 29, 2020

Oh my, I’m saving the best for last — at least that is what some will surely say. This is the publishing world’s biggest announcement this fall (perhaps this year) and many of our friends have had hearts aflutter over this, rightfully so. Us too. Can you believe it? After the artistic, literary and even theological genius of Gilead, Home, and Lila, followed by years of several dense, mature, literary collections culled from her writing in the nation’s leading journals, years of projects as diverse as editing a collection of John Calvin’s work to interrogating the meaning of modern thought (see, The Death of Adam, for instance, or the extraordinary What Are We Doing Here essays), after that, who expected a fourth book in the series about these Iowa church families?

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Jack is a character that appears in her novels that have won a Pulitzer Prize, two National Book Critics Circle Awards, and a National Humanities Medal, which are considered by some to be among the great works of contemporary American fiction.

Jack is actually the character John Ames Boughton, the prodigal son of Gilead’s Presbyterian minister, the Rev. Boughton. Robinson tells the story of John and his romance with Della Miles, a high school teacher who is also the child of a preacher. As the publisher notes, “Their deeply felt, tormented, star-crossed interracial romance resonates with all the paradoxes of American life, then and now.”

We in the bookselling biz often look to reviews from these sorts of industry sources. These are important comments, and I hope they inspire you to take up these works this fall.

“A sometimes tender, sometimes fraught story of interracial love in a time of trouble . . . The story flows swiftly — and without a hint of inevitability — as Robinson explores a favorite theme, ‘guilt and grace met together.’ An elegantly written proof of the thesis that love conquers all — but not without considerable pain.”  Kirkus (Starred review)

Robinson’s latest glorious work of metaphysical and moral inquiry, nuanced feelings, intricate imagination, and exquisite sensuousness . . .Myriad manifestations of pain are evoked, but here, too, are beauty, mystery, and joy as Robinson holds us rapt with the exactitude of her perceptions and the exhilaration of her hymnal cadence, and so gracefully elucidates the complex sorrows and wonders of life and spirit.”         Booklist (Starred review)

“Robinson’s stellar, revelatory fourth entry in her Gilead cycle . . . is a beautiful, superbly crafted meditation on the redemption and transcendence that love affords.”  Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

By the way, for those who are interested in such things, the first three in this cycle (Gilead, Home, and Lila) are being reissued with new uniform paperback covers, matching the new hardcover of Jack. We’ll have those, too, of course, by the end of the summer. Ahhhhh.


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