Amazingly, I am actually learning to write the date 2021 as the proper year – it takes me a while, in early January, you see. Better, we already have some great new books just now out in the first week of this new decade.
We’ve been selling the brand new Jemar Tisby book, How to Fight Racism: Courageous Christianity and the Journey Toward Racial Justice (Zondervan; $24.99) and we just got Where the Eye Alights: Phrases for the Forty Days of Lent by Marilyn McEntyre (Eerdmans; $19.99.) We are exceedingly impressed with Public Intellectuals and the Common Good: Christian Thinking for Human Flourishing edited by Todd Ream, Jerry Pattengale, and Christopher Devers (IVP; $25.00) that arrived last week and I’m thrilled that we just got, a bit early, the eagerly-awaited third volume in the much-discussed series by Andrew Root drawing on Charles Taylor for local ministry, The Congregation in a Secular Age: Keeping Sacred Time Against the Speed of Modern Life (Baker Academic; $26.99.)
Local and real online bookstores need your support as these are hard times for small businesses, but we are confident that we are going to see lots of tremendous books in 2021.
Here are three amazing books coming out in February that we invite you to PRE-ORDER from us now. There are other new titles from authors old and new coming (and, of course, we can take any pre-orders for almost anything that is forthcoming) but these are three we are agog about and think that our unique community of Hearts & Minds readers will find these well worth owning.
All books mentioned are 20% off. Just use the secure Hearts & Minds order form page by clicking on the link at the end of this column.
HERE IS ONE THING WE ASK:
IF YOU PRE-ORDER MORE THAN ONE OF THESE, PLEASE LET US KNOW IF YOU WANT US TO SEND THEM OUT PROMPTLY ON THEIR RELEASE DATE OR IF WE SHOULD CONSOLIDATE THEM AND SEND TOGETHER.
WE ARE EAGER TO SERVE YOUR NEEDS JUST THE WAY YOU PREFER.
Turning of Days: Lessons from Nature, Season, and Spirit Hannah Anderson, illustrations by Nathan Anderson (Moody Press) regularly $15.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $12.79 release date February 2, 2021
PRE-ORDER THIS FROM US AND GET A SPECIAL BONUS GIFT OF ADDITIONAL SIGNED ARTWORK FROM THE BOOK BY NATHAN ANDERSON.
I don’t know about you, but I love books that inspire me to do what I really, deeply want to do. From praying more to actually working for social justice, from being a better husband to reading more fiction, some books that are about these topics are not only about the topic, but are invitations into the topic. That is, they are deeply engaging, experiential, and motivational. The act of reading them is less about gaining information but is itself about deepening our formation. They invite us in, they send us out. This is one of those books. In fact, the first chapter of Turning of Days is called “Venturing Out.”
This is exactly what Turning of Days has been for me as I’ve worked with an advanced manuscript – it is itself a joy to behold (not merely read) and it is a profound reminder of something I know, but about which I need to be reminded. God is alive and well, showing up in the most mundane of circumstances. Yes, yes! We really can practice the presence of God and nurture in our bones a worldview that allows us to see what we sometimes call the spirituality of the ordinary.
When I teach about this – making a case for reading widely and being life-long learners who are attentive about Christ’s Lordship over all areas of life, including things like learning science or going to work or reading mainstream fiction – I sometimes go to texts in the Bible that tell us (get this!) that God reveals Himself to us, and His ways, outside of the Scripture. For some, this is obvious, but for others it feels risky or disturbing to admit. Yet, this is clear in the Bible itself and while this is not the place to tussle with the Reformation slogan of Sola Scriptura or the “sufficiency of Christ” we can say boldly that while Jesus’ work alone is sufficient for our salvation and that we can know this from the Bible alone, the Bible is not enough for a flourishing, Godly life and Jesus is not sufficient for all we need in this world of His. We need – as gifts from a caring God — productive, healthful farmers and effective dentists and useful computer techs and just politicians and wise teachers and creative artists and faithful preachers and caring friends and good workplaces, do we not? Fair elections and effective public health policies and a well-stewarded infrastructure don’t hurt, either, do they? No, in God’s good and fallen world, we need more than the Bible, more than the gospel; more than Jesus. The Bible itself teaches not only that we need things in this world, but that God in fact speaks to us through these things He gives us.
One of the great texts that teaches us this is Psalm 19: 1-4. It directly says that God speaks to us in the created order. One doesn’t need the hefty, scholarly work The Doctrine of Creation: A Constructive Kuyperian Approach by Bruce Riley Ashford and Craig Bartholomew (IVP Academic; $50.00) to know this (although the truth of it has been so obscured it wouldn’t hurt to take a year and work through this major text.) Really, though, all we have to do is take the Bible’s word for it. “Listen to the animals, listen to the fish” Job 17 says; they will teach you. (Have you ever heard a sermon on that?) Isaiah 28 says God teaches farmers how to know what seeds to plant in what sort of dirt — I suppose God could whisper agronomy wisdom into their ears but it is more likely the text is, again, reminding us of the revelatory nature of creation itself; old-time scientists used to talk about God’s “book of nature” that teaches us. St. Paul makes the case firmly in Romans 1, as well. And, of courses, our Master Himself instructs us to “consider the lilies.” Yes, the Bible teaches us that we can know reality and something of God, even hear God’s voice, if only we listen to His good creation. This is a commonly assumed insight, actually, implied by C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity and explicated wonderfully in the most recent N.T. Wright book Broken Signposts but yet we often fail to live into it. The reasons are numerous – maybe we need foundational help as is explored in a book I highlighted early this fall, The Sacred Overlap: Learning to Live Faithfully in the Space Between by J.R. Briggs (Zondervan; $19.99) that reminds us we are literally in a space where heaven and earth overlap and “hold hands.” There really is “more things in heaven and earth” going on than you dreamt of, Horatio…
Rats. You see, I’ve just done it – led us a tad astray by making the case for this notion, this idea, that God speaks to us outside the Bible as if it is just a concept we must master, that we should agree with. Because I believe in the authority of the Bible to shape our deepest views of the truest truths of things, we do have to agree to this non-negotiable teaching. I named those books above because I am confident they would be helpful in shaping how you lean into life, how you think about God and life and work and play. But yet, this isn’t an abstract fact to check off in some theological checklist. This is one doctrine we have to experience in our bodies, using our senses. A wise person shaped by this aspect of a Biblical worldview has to get outside and sniff around. It is almost as simple as that.
Which brings us, finally, to my invitation to pre-order this marvelous, artful, and moving book of mediations about exactly this. Turning of Days: Lessons from Nature, Season, and Spirit is a lush and lovely square-sized paperback book that is part devotional, part field guide. It is deeply spiritual and yet offers stimulating natural history. It prose is nature writing which is a bit less obscure than Annie Dillard and a bit less political as, say, two of my favorites in this genre, Kathleen Dean Moore or Terry Tempest Williams. Hannah Anderson is a fine creative writer and with her husband’s handy pen and ink drawings (a few in color, most in black and white) to illustrate the work, her writing comes alive, beckoning us in to its pages and then right back out again, to take up her example of encountering the great (and in some cases, a bit creepy) outdoors for yourself. Not in the rugged terrain of far-away wilderness or expensive adventure sports, but by observing the more ordinary nature of backyards and meadows, neighborhoods and local woods. As I said, it is a beautiful book that helps us see God in creation and that motivates us to want to see more, to experience more, to get outside for a bit and discover stuff that we too often fail to notice.
Ms Anderson has shown herself in her previous books to be a very good writer. We know of some young adults (women, mostly) who have exclaimed to Beth and I how much her writing has inspired them. Her most recent one is very nicely written, wise, too, on discernment. It is called All That’s Good: Recovering the Lost Art of Discernment (Moody Publishers; $13.99.)
Her 2016 Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul (Moody; $13.99) is a gem of basic Christian living insight about humility and there are hints of her love for real roots and real ground in it. (Just look at that cover.)
Many loved her first one, Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God’s Image (Moody; $13.99.) That she understands well that the profound Biblical insight of being made in God’s image gives us not only dignity and worth, but purpose and vision is wonderful. That she writes with a clear and breezy style is helpful for many. She’s a thoughtful, fun writer we respect a lot.
Here is what our literary friend Karen Swallow Prior wrote a few years ago about Made for More:
Here at last is a book about Christian womanhood that I can read and recommend, a book that builds a biblical view of womanhood not with proof texts but with foundational doctrines, a book that draws not upon trendy bestsellers but upon the greatest thinkers and writers in history. Made for More transcends narrow, contemporary gender debates with a clear and compelling call for all of us to flourish as human beings made in the image of God.
Or listen to Kathy Keller, writing from New York City when that book came out:
Hannah Anderson’s book Made for More is refreshing. It locates the real discussion of what a “woman’s role” is or isn’t in both men and women being made in the image of God and tasked with the care of creation. This challenges the self-absorbed literature regarding women that has become the norm, as well as self-satisfied women who are content to do little for the kingdom.
So, Hannah’s got a solid, evangelical perspective that is both morally serious and winsomely written. We enjoy and trust her work.
But this forthcoming one, due in February? It’s a step in a fresh direction, a book of a different kind. It is not just that it is illustrated nicely and enhanced in such a lovely way, but that it really does evoke something extraordinary and seriously needed. It honors God by helping us attend to God’s creation.
Here is how the publisher has described this soon to be released volume:
From the beginning, Scripture tells of a God who created the heavens and earth. But what might the heavens and earth tell were we to listen to them? Of order, beauty, and unabashed grace? Turning of Days beckons to a world of tree frogs and peach blossoms, mountain springs and dark winter nights–all in search of nature’s God, all in harmony with Scripture. Join Hannah Anderson as she journeys through the four seasons in this collection of devotional essays and illustrations. Take a look, and see His glory everywhere.
Perhaps you noticed from this description that it not only looks at creation but that it does so in what we might call a seasonal approach. The very title Turning of Days captures this – what we all know but sometimes don’t pay much attention to – by living into the way in which the creation changes, how it swings back and forth with changes in weather and what grows and emerges, in rhythmic seasons. In our part of North America and in hers we call the seasons winter, spring, summer and fall, but all of us sense that our days change. The Bible teaches this, too, and so being attentive to God’s faithfulness to the creation’s weather and the long haul of time is itself part of God’s own plan and glory.
I enjoy the beauty of winter a bit, although less so as I grow older and am eager to stop worrying about slipping on the ice and the need to shovel snow. I think this lovely book is reminding me to cultivate a more spiritual instinct rather than being so practical, as if the most important thing about the ending of March is a relief from the cold and my frustration with not knowing where to pile the snow in our back parking lot. What might it be like if we see the turning of days and seasons as part of God’s own gift, something deeply structured into the created order of things; something deeply beautiful?
This beautiful little book – a lovely square paperback – will help you, here, too. It helps us hear God’s voice in God’s own creation and it helps us see the passage of time – days and nights, weeks and months, seasons into seasons – as the meaningful ordering of our sense of time itself.
Allow me to share just two portions of Turning of Days so you can see how very interesting and, I think, helpful it is.
The first excerpt I’ll show is from an opening note from the author, just setting the stage. For those who are understandably leery when folks start talking about experiencing God in nature – pantheism is an idolatrous ideology, of course – it offers the Biblical framework I opened my comments with, above:
This book is a bit of a paradox because it attempts to use words where nature doesn’t. Writing it was no less paradoxical, and I imagine reading it will be as well. The primary paradox, of course, is that God chooses to reveal Himself through both the natural world and the Holy Scriptures. He chooses to make Himself known through both the universal and the specific. He is the God of both common and particular grace.
Those accustomed to knowing God in certain ways may find it challenging to encounter Him in different ones. Perhaps, you’ll ask, “What can nature teach me about God that Scripture cannot?” or “If I can meet God on a mountain top, why should I worry about a book?” But let me suggest different questions: “What will you miss if you don’t encounter God in all the ways He chooses to reveal Himself? What will you miss if you don’t embrace the paradox of revelation?”
Hannah Anderson has a keen eye for seeing these paradoxes. Sometimes tells of unpleasant aspects of life on a fallen planet. But she can describe a scene so lovely (and, frankly, unfamiliar to many of us) that it just whets the appetite for me to be more attentive to my own backyard, such as it is (without berries, sadly.)
The sun is just rising above the trees, and the air is still cool when I step out my kitchen door. I’m barefoot and the grass is wet and cold. Drops of water hang from the clothesline across the yard like so many miniature garments left out to dry, and mist shrouds the mountain in front of the house. Later today, a summer sun will sit high in the sky, blazing hot, and the moisture will burn away; but for now, warmth comes only from the odd sunbeam and the long sleeves of my work shirt.
I’ve come this morning for the raspberries in the corner patch. It’s heavy with them—pink, red, amethyst, and wine—all at various stages of ripening. The canes bend and arc, and morning dew pools on the leaves, cisterns for bird and beetle alike. As I cross the yard, a mourning dove calls for a mate. There’s a newness to these mornings, as new as if I were walking in Eden itself, fresh and full of hope. I’ve come to collect raspberries for breakfast but more likely I’ve come to collect myself.
Nice, huh? In a sense some of this reminds me of one of our favorite writers of recent years, Christie Purifoy who wrote Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace and Roots & Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons. I know many of our customers have enjoyed her writing and I am sure they will also love Turning of Days.
Again, you will learn something about God; you may even experience something of God in this book. Like any good devotional material, there are Bible texts and quotes from reliable theologians. It will shape you spiritually as you find yourself, as the old hymn puts it, perhaps “lost in wonder, love and praise.” But you will learn things (or be reminded to care about things) on Earth, about biodiversity, about cicada, about something called circinate vernation, about soil and Sabbath and seeds.
(And, just for the record — Anderson does cite Annie Dillard once, and a beloved poem, Aurora Leigh.)
Without overwhelming you, this gentle, brief collection of devotional essays will invite you to know God’s world so you can care more about daily life, practicing the presence of a God who chooses to speak to us in the things of seasons changing and nature’s sturdiness. We invite you to order it now and receive with it (when it releases in February) a free gift of signed artwork — the full color picture of the turtle from the cover, I think — from Nathan Anderson.
Here are a few fine writers, artists, and thinkers who themselves have been blessed and stimulated by Turning of Days.
“Turning of Days delights, mesmerizes, and intoxicates . . . a rare book, full of truth and beauty.” Tish Harrison Warren, author of Liturgy of the Ordinary and Prayer in the Night
“It is often hard to read nature’s testimony . . . Turning of Days is a delightful primer for us all.” Ned Bustard, illustrator and designer of Every Moment Holy
“This book left us breathless. It powerfully knits the threads of natural revelation and grace, and . . . elevated what we get to call our daily work in a way that will never leave us.” -Sarah & Steve Pabody, CEOs, Triple Wren Farms
“Turning of Days captures my heart at the core . . . a celebration of beauty that comes at just the right time.” Sandra McCracken, singer and songwriter
“Intimate, moody, soothing; at times searing, like nature and life itself.” Julie Zickefoose, author and illustrator of The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds
“If, as the poets say, attention is a form of devotion, Hannah Anderson has given her readers a great gift in these pages. In Turning of Days, she has modeled the worship that begins by venturing out, bending down, and considering: the frost and the floods, the deer and the daisies, the seeds and cicadas. To attend to our glorious, groaning creation is to see the steady Hand that sustains life in all of its teeming and wild variety. “An entire cosmos designed to teach you faith,” Anderson reminds. This lovely, meditative book deserves to be read slowly under the banner of the skies.” Jen Pollock Michel author of A Habit Called Faith and Surprised by Paradox
While supplies last we have a signed art print from the book drawn by Nathan Anderson which we will send along for free to the first 20 people who order.
Every Moment Holy Volume II: Death, Grief and Hope Douglas McElvey, illustrated by Ned Bustard (Rabbit Room) regularly, $35.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $28.00 release date mid- late February 2021
I hope you know the extraordinary volume of prayers for all sorts of daily occasions called Every Moment Holy. If our essay above reminds us of one way to find God’s presence in the ordinary — pay attention to the creation — certainly another way is to develop what James K.A. Smith and others might call liturgical/habitual ritual practices. This prayer book is designed to help you offer brief words of prayer throughout the day, sanctifying daily moments with this sacred practice. Every Moment Holy came out a few years ago, first in a sturdy 8 x 12 leather-covered hardback, and then a smaller, compact, flexible, soft-leathery edition. The type font is wonderful and includes some red ink like more formal prayerbooks; the edges are gilded and there is a silk ribbon marker. It is a handbook for pausing to give voice to our prayers on special occasions (even if the occasions are normal and mundane.) EMH offers what they call “liturgies” (by which they mean what most would call “litanies” — prayers to be said out loud in two or more voices) for occasions as obvious as before meals and before bedtime to more curious prayers to use at moments such as before consuming media, before morning coffee, before setting up a Christmas tree, before a competitive sporting event. I don’t know who has time to pray before changing diapers, but there are two of them here. The “Liturgy for the Morning Before a Medical Procedure” has comforted many and I must say I love the several that are to be offered while watching weather. I know someone who uses the prayer “before paying bills” each month.
Every Moment Holy has prayers for husband and wife, for the unmarried, for those dating, for the overly busy and for the lonely; anyone facing ordinary sorts of experiences that they want to offer up before the Lord who is with us in all things, anyway. There are liturgies for shopping, liturgies for those who cannot sleep, liturgies for home repairs, liturgies for various aspects of parenting, a prayer for welcoming a new pet, a liturgy for the eve of a wedding, one for “flooded with too much information.”
Most popular, I suspect, among those who have used Every Moment Holy have been the prayers for loss, those that take the shape of lament, liturgies offering for times of loss. Which is why a year or more ago Rabbit Room and Mr. Bustard announced a second volume that would offer resources specifically for such hard times; in anticipation, I’ve been calling it the Every Moment Holy lament edition.
Time and space do not permit me to explain more of this or study the nuances of the (mostly) beautifully written and simple prayers / litanies, or the remarkably apt linocut artwork, done by my good friend Ned Bustard of Square Halo Books and World’s End Images. Ned’s style is ideal for this liturgical prayer book for ordinary use as his contemporary linocuts bring to mind older woodcuts, but with a light touch in the first edition, at least. (Yes, that is Tolkien in the liturgy to be used before reading a book; yes there is something funny about the art accompanying the prayer over morning coffee.) His linocut of grief inspired by a Van Gogh drawing is worth the price of the book and I adore his simple cut accompanying the prayer “for the enjoyment of a bonfire in the night.” I have prayed it even without the pleasure of a bonfire.
The new one, due out in mid February, is a full sized hardback (like the first, hardback edition of volume 1), covered in a brown/tan leather. It offers, as the subtitle suggests, prayers and litanies for seasons of dying and grieving — liturgies such as “A Liturgy for the Scattering of Ashes” or “A Liturgy for the Loss of a Spouse” or “A Liturgy for the Wake of a National Tragedy.” As the good folks at Rabbit Room put it, “these are ways of reminding us that our lives are shot through with sacred purpose and eternal hopes even when, especially when, suffering and pain threaten to overwhelm us.”
PRE-ORDER ANY OR ALL OF THESE NOW. IF YOU ARE ORDERING MORE THAN ONE, PLEASE TELL US IF YOU WANT US TO SHIP THEM AS THEY ARRIVE OR CONSOLIDATE AND SEND THEM TOGETHER IN ONE SHIPMENT. HAPPY TO HELP, EAGER TO SERVE. THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT AND FOR CARING ABOUT GOOD BOOKS.
ANY BOOK MENTIONED
this takes you to the secure Hearts & Minds order form page
just tell us what you want
if you have questions or need more information
just ask us what you want to know
Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street Dallastown PA 17313