Thanks for those who ordered from our last BookNotes column. We did some fairly extensive reviews of a few fascinating books, from Leland Ryken’s Recovering the Lost Art of Reading to Freeing Jesus by Diana Butler Bass to the very important Reparations by pastors and public theologians Duke Kwon & Gregory Thompson to the Sentinel imprint’s excellent study of American placelessness and agricultural towns, Uprooted by the wonderful new writer Grace Olmstead. We’re glad for those who subscribe to BookNotes and support our small town family biz here in south central Pennsylvania. We hope you are filled with renewed resurrection hope after this beautiful Easter weekend.
Although it is hard for me not to weigh in and offer comments about the books we most care about, this time I’m going to try to beat the clock and only describe briefly a batch of books that came in within the last week or so.
As you know, we’re a full-service bookstore stocking all kinds of things from all sorts of perspectives. Although I like reviewing titles here at BookNotes I thought I’d just announce these that came in recently so you can see the breadth and diversity and scope of just some of what we find notable. And this doesn’t even include children’s books, fiction, poetry, or new Bibles and Bible studies. My, my, where to begin? Well, here are a few, mostly brand spanking new.
You can order these by clicking on the “order here” link at the end of the page which takes you to the secure order form page of our Hearts & Minds website. Just follow the directions, telling us what you want, how you want it sent (USPS or UPS or back-yard, curb-side pickup here in Dallastown) and we’ll follow up, taking care of the rest. We look forward to the pleasure of serving you in this way.
22 NEW BOOKS THAT ARRIVED LAST WEEK ALL 20% OFF
Religious Liberty in Crisis: Exercising Your Faith in an Age of Uncertainty Ken Starr (Encounter Books) $26.99
OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59
Judge Starr rose to fame when he was appointed to the independent counsel that investigated alleged financial misdeeds from then Governor Bill Clinton’s Whitewater connections, which, as most of us know, shifted (against Starr’s personal wishes) into explorations of a sex scandal and the eventual impeachment about the President’s lying under oath, etc. Starr’s memoir about those years, Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation, was hard to put down. This brand new one explores the principles of American religious freedom and explores both Constitutional questions and lots of legal cases, from freedom of religious speech to the rights of organizations and churches to conscientious objection of various sorts. Some of the cases he describes are ones he himself litigated so regardless of what side a reader might be on, it offers a ringside seat, and is well worth reading. He explores the bi-partisan passing of the RFRA and notes how current leaders (including President Biden) seem to have flip-flopped against the reasonable accommodations outlined there.
Besides helpful introductions to legal principles and arguments, Mr. Starr offers other stories, too, about how free religious groups can (and he would say, should) serve the needs of the community; he is clear and inspiring, telling about friends as diverse as Joanne and Chip Gaines (friends from Waco) and Bob Goff (who he knew year before he became a best-selling motivational speaker and coach, from Bob’s own days at Pepperdine Law School) and his global justice work against child slavery, the radical Catholic Dorothy Day, and good churches that serve the homeless with gusto, even when sometimes seemingly needlessly hassled by government bureaucracies.
Ken was a friend with “the notorious RBG” as she was sometimes playfully called, as we saw in a moving Wall Street Journal tribute he penned after her death; he is always gracious in describing those whose perspectives are different than his own. Starr has served in distinguished ways from circuit judge for the District of Columbia, as law clerk to Chief Justice Warren Burger, and has argued thirty-six cases before the US Supreme Court. There are other books that study religious liberty that are more scholarly, and some that are more basic. (In a few weeks we’ll get the forthcoming one by Andrew Walker, the excellent Liberty for All: Defending Everyone’s Religious Freedom in a Pluralistic Age (Brazos Press; $19.99.))This one is very helpful, I think, covering the major cases in the field, noting where he thinks the courts got it right, and where he thinks the justices erred. The impeccable Princeton professor of jurisprudence, Robert P. George, calls it “marvelously lucid.”
Every Moment Holy: Volume II – Death, Grief, and Hope Douglas McKelvey, illustrations by Ned Bustard (Rabbit Room Press) $35.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $28.00
I suppose you recall our rave, rave reviews of the first volume of litanies and responsive readings and prayers for ordinary life events. There is a full size leather-bound hardback and a smaller, flexible compact edition of EMH Volume 1 but this new one only comes in the larger, leather-bound hardback. Believe me, it is even more beautiful and lavish than the first, a beautiful companion volume, with prayers about grief and loss, lament and hope.
We are honored to be able to sell this and hope you let folks know it is now out. It is surely one of the most unique and special resources published this year. Kudos to the very cool, artful, and faithful Rabbit Room folks and to our good friend Ned Bustard for his expert design work.
Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies (second edition) Marilyn McEntyre (Eerdmans) $19.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99
If you have followed BookNotes for a while you know that dear Marilyn McEntyre is one of our favorite authors. (And you will know we raved a month ago about her brand new and very important book Dear Doctor: What Doctors Don’t Ask, What Patients Need to Say.) This new edition is updated with new examples and illustrations and has a cover to match her recent Speaking Peace in a Climate of Conflict. I quote Caring for Words often and cannot say enough good about it. McEntyre’s main thesis, first delivered as the legendary Stone Lectures at Princeton, is that words, like natural resources, need to be stewarded well, lest things get toxic. The book offers “stewardship strategies” for caring for words well. One reviewer said it offers a sustenance and delicacy. And deep, good wisdom. Don’t miss it.
Naming the Animals: An Invitation to Creativity Stephen Roach, with Ned Bustard (Square Halo Books) $11.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $9.59
I’ve been waiting for this, having read an advanced copy of the manuscript and elated by it. I will tell you more about it another BookNotes, I hope, and I assure you it will be on future lists I may get asked to do about books on aesthetics, the arts, and Biblically-faithful views of creativity. (I even showed it as a pre-order item at our specially-curated online, e-commerce Jubilee Bookstore, in the arts category.) There is solid Biblical teaching here, good Christian thinking, drawing on good sources, from Calvin Seerveld and Dorothy Sayers and Thomas Merton and Leland Ryken and Mako Fujimura and the like. (Roach is himself quite remarkable, directing the stunning faith/arts event, The Breath and the Clay Experience.) The chapter in Naming the Animals are short, the foundation solid, the writing lively, as the invitation for all of us to take up the calling of being creative, playful, inventive, curious, makers, artful, is offered thoughtfully and winsomely – it’s all here. What a book — a lovely, compact sized, well-done guide to opening up this dimension of your life. There are Ned Bustard artworks enhancing the chapters, too, less elaborate than the work in Every Moment Holy but, still, his signature linocut style. Cheers!
The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation Anna Malaika Tubbs (Flatiron Books) $28.99 OUR SALE PRICE =$23.19
Did you hear the NPR interview with this author last week? My, my, may, what a strong idea for a great book, and what remarkable women it showcases. Three great biographies in one, interlaced with insight about their famous sons and the earth shattering times in which they lives and died. Did you know that Mrs. Alberta King was much better educated than her famous husband, “Daddy” King? Have you ever heard anything about Louise Little, Malcolm’s mother? How about Berdis Baldwin? These women had similarities, as individuals and as mothers, and considerable differences. Kudos to Anna Malaika Tubbs, a Cambridge PhD candidate in sociology and a Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford in anthropology.
Urban Apologetics: Restoring Black Dignity with the Gospel Eric Mason, editor (Zondervan) $27.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $22.39
Those who follow BookNotes know we have promoted Rev. Mason’s books before (and have heard him a couple of times at the CCO’s Jubilee Conference which we help with yearly in Pittsburgh.) This sturdy textbook has 15 chapters, serious but not overly academic, rich, but not vague, this highly anticipated volume features a top-notch lineup of contributors. They say it is the first evangelical book to focus on the sects and ethnocentric ideologies prevalent today in the Black community. As it says on the back cover, “It introduces readers to each of these alternative religious groups and provides practical tools to engage them apologetically and combat false teaching.” As Kirk Franklin puts it, “This book shouts loud to our times!”
My Vertical Neighborhood: How Strangers Became a Community Lynda MacGibbon (IVP) $17.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $13.60
We stock almost every new book IVP does and I couldn’t wait for this, the story of a woman moving from a small city in eastern Canada to a high-rise apartment in Toronto and how she learned to love her neighbors, neighbors of all sorts. This is a book about hospitality and ministry, yes, but more it seems to be an inspiring story about friendship, about the risks and rewards of trusting Jesus’ way of caring for others. Check out these very, very positive reviews:
Riveting, fascinating, authentic, vulnerable, funny–this book grabbed me and I could not put it down. Lynda’s neighbors are established, lonely, secular urbanites in a high-rise apartment building. When she prioritizes them over church connections, they become her best friends. What does it mean to love a neighbor? ‘Pay attention,’ she says. ‘Notice. Engage. Welcome. Open your door. Accept their invitations. Give time. Laugh. Debate. Apologize. Forgive. Cry. Celebrate.’ Caught up in the quirky lives of Brian and Rachel and Yolanda, we see how community can flower in sterile spaces, and urban hangouts can be sanctified. There is awkwardness and misunderstanding and swearing and sex talk and even invitations to strip clubs, but the joy of Jesus shines through. — Miriam Adeney, professor, Seattle Pacific University, author of Kingdom Without Borders: The Untold Story of Global Christianity
I hadn’t meant to read My Vertical Neighborhood in a single sitting, but Lynda’s warmth, authenticity, and vision made me realize I was encountering a soul-friend-which is what I suspect happened to her neighbors, who we meet in this book. Anna and Ron, Yolanda and Nicolai, Brian and Rachel could not be more different, but they become Lynda’s found family — and, through this book, ours. Her beautifully told stories made me long for the kind of community she describes. Friendships filled with awkwardness and acceptance, feasts and forgiveness, trust and tenderness. Lynda doesn’t offer a how-to on hospitality. There’s an industry that already supplies that. What she offers is something far more important. She resets our imagination through tales of lost parrots and Christmas pajama parties. A tender dance in a nightclub and a fast friendship formed at a Starbucks. Unexpected prayer requests from Kiribati and unanswered spiritual longings in a Bible study. Studies tell us we live in the loneliest era in history. Lynda invites us into a better story.” — Greg Jao, assistant to the president, director of communications and external relations, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, author of Your Minds Mission.
R.C. Sproul: A Life Stephen J. Nichols (Crossway) $34.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $ 27.99
Sproully, as we sometimes called him – RC to nearly everyone else – lived in Western Pennsylvania when I was a college student and he was vibrant, intellectual, deeply Reformed, culturally aware, freelance teacher, trying to be somewhat like Francis Schaeffer, who influenced his early vision for the Ligonier Valley Study Center. We visited there from time to time and I had long conversations with him on several occasions. He helped create the nationally-respected CCO (Coalition for Christian Outreach) campus ministry (which Nichols oddly doesn’t mention) and with Wayne Alderson, pioneered the “value of the person” work-world movement for labor-management reconciliation based on the dignity of the worker, a social reform that Nichols describes alongside RC’s colorful youth, his conversion, and his rise to international fame as a conservative Calvinist and teacher and best-selling author. From his relationships with the usual suspects – J.I. Packer or Chuck Colson, say – and the not so usual (golf buddy Alice Cooper) this book celebrates, as Joni Eareckson Tada puts it, “a man worth remembering.” 400 pages, with photographs.
The Empathy Diaries: A Memoir Sherry Turkle (Penguin Press) $28.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $22.40
This book actually came out a month ago, but we just got it in – and I’m glad we did. You surely know Turkle as an MIT professor and TED Speaker and Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year recipient and prolific author who has for decades been exploring the role of media in our lives, especially in the lives of children being raised in the digital generation. Her very fruitful recent books have included Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age and the very important Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. This recent one is a major volume, a memoir that makes personal some of her insight about “how we remake ourselves in the mirror of our machines.” This is said to be both vivid and poignant (and a “one-of-a-kind page-turner”), the story of a curious girl from an unusual family, now public intellectual, due to Turkle’s own courage and virtue. Blurbs on the back are from the likes of Arianna Huffington (CEO Of Thrive Global) and novelist Jen Gish and feminist philosopher Carol Gilligan. As Gilligan notes, her father and first husband seem not to show much empathy, and so this explores how Dr. Turkle developed into the empathetic listener and humane woman she is.
Saints, Sufferers & Sinners: Loving Others as God Loves Us Michael R. Emlet (New Growth Press) $17.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39
I was eager to see this a month or so ago and due to a snafu at the publisher we never got our shipment. With their regrets, we now have it, so we’ll announce it here as if it is new. It’s new to us, and maybe to you – and it is very, very solid. We value Mike as a friend and customer and respect his good work — especially a book on how to wisely apply the bible called CrossTalk: Where Life and Scripture Meet and his small but useful book Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications. I think this new one, Saints Sufferers & Sinners deserves a much fuller review, but for now, just realize this – this is a rare book that takes the conventional Biblical theology about the human condition and in clear and helpful language explains that people are simultaneously saints and sinners. And, wisely and rightly, he adds to that famous dictum, that we are also sufferers. That is, we are sinners and we are sinned against; we have hurt others and we have been hurt. We are beloved and redeemed in Christ and damaged and yet implicated if not out and out complicit in the world’s awful mess. Which is to say that in all our relationships, and certainly whenever we are trying to assist others, we start with a posture of grace.
This book is not too complicated or lengthy so is good for anyone who wants to clarify their mess of feelings and be clearer about their identity. But since Michael is a counselor, he not only guide readers toward self-understanding in light of a gospel-centered vision, but outlines a model for understanding others. There is a section in each unit about how this plays out in counseling sessions so although it is not primarily aimed at therapists, pastors, or those in the helping professions, professionals will, indeed, learn much. I very much appreciated the large parts I read and I am glad for the chance to announce it here. Get one for yourself and anyone you know who does formal or informal counseling with others.
Dr. Michael Emlet has given us a treasure. He’s primarily focused on how we relate to others through the triple lens of saint, sufferer, and sinner. He’s particularly strong at blending those lenses together. The result? You can begin to look at and treat people as fully human. His experience as a counselor grounds his thoroughly biblical insights in real life. This immensely helpful book isn’t just for counselors—it’s for all of Jesus’ followers. Paul Miller, Author of A Praying Life and J-Curve: Dying and Rising with Jesus in Everyday Life
As Christians, we know we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, but it can be hard to know what it means to offer love to our neighbors on the ground in concrete, daily ways. In this deep, rich, and practical book, Michael Emlet draws on Scripture and years of experience as a Christian husband, parent, church member, and counselor to help us more faithfully and fully love our neighbors, our spouses, our children, and all whom God brings into our lives. Through this exploration of what it means that we are all simultaneously saints, sufferers, and sinners, which is shaped by the wisdom of the Bible on every page, those who read this book will come away better equipped to fulfill the Great Commandment in the quotidian moments of everyday life and ministry. Kristen Deede Johnson, award-winning author; dean and professor of Theology and Christian Formation, Western Theological Seminary
True Companions: A Book for Everyone About the Relationships That See Us Through Kelly Flanagan (IVP) $24.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $19.20
When InterVarsity Press (IVP) issues a book in a handsome hardback with a dust jacket, it’s a big deal and a very special release. With blurbs from Bob Goff and Aubrey Sampson (of the book about suffering and lament, The Louder Song) and Katherine Willis Pershey (whose memoir about being a mainline pastor and wife and mother, Any Day a Beautiful Change I really loved) and with a forward by Ian Morgan Cron, I thought this writer really gets around and must have extraordinary writing chops. And something tender and vital to say. It looks spectacular.
The exquisite writer Carolyn Weber says,
What a brave, beautiful, and bountiful book that sings with quiet wisdom on the power of loneliness and the sanctity of companionship.
Hunting Magic Eels: Recovering an Enchanted Faith in a Skeptical Age Richard Beck (Broadleaf) $24.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99
Richard Beck is a beloved and lively professor at the conservative evangelical Abilene Christian University, a popular, if sometimes provocative Sunday school teacher in a hospitable Church of Christ and Bible study leader at a maximum security prison and is increasingly the sort of author that one might want to read anything he writes. (His last book was called Trains, Jesus, and Murder: The Gospel According to Johnny Cash.) This new one looks beautiful, about discovering viable systems of meaning and authentic faith in the secular age and finding “the love, grace, and presence of God everywhere.” As Julia Sparks Attalla of Fuller Theological says, “What Richard Beck has done in Hunting Magic Eels has lit my soul on fire!” Wow.
Earth’s Wild Music: Celebrating and Defending the Songs of the Natural World Kathleen Dean Moore (Counterpoint Press) $26.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $20.80
I have not had the opportunity to write much about the beautiful, eloquent, interesting, captivating and often very moving nature essays of Kathleen Dean Moore for a while – her last was a somewhat more political and philosophical study, the important Great Tide Rising: Moral Courage in a Time of Planetary Change and then the very fun novel, Piano Tide, both which we’ve announced at BookNotes. This recent release is sort of a “greatest hits” collection of her earlier books I loved so much, drawing also from articles never in book form, but mostly including excerpts from beautiful collections of memoir and natural history and storytelling about her experiences in the outdoors such as Holdfast, Riverwalking, Wild Solace, and the wonderful Pine Island Paradox. The organizing theme whereby certain excerpts and essays suggested themselves is around wild sounds, the music of creation. What a great gift for those who appreciate profound and enjoyable nature writing. Earth’s Wild Music is a gem.
Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal Mark Bittman (Houghton Mifflin) $28.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $22.40
What an amazing work, a study of the history and evolution of food, with an eye to sustainability and ecologically sound health concerns.The spork on the warm cover is a stroke of design genius, emblatic of so much, eh?
Anti-globalist justice intellectual Naomi Klein says it is “a joyful and transformational read” and Bill McKibben says it has “opened a new window to our understanding of this perilous moment.” By “expanding the concept of junk food he takes us one a fascinating tour of modernity, with some powerful suggestions for change.” It has been called landmark, pioneering, sweeping, and certainly entertaining, not unlike Bittman’s reputation as a cook, food writer, cookbook author, and delightful TV chef.
Jesus for Farmers and Fishers: Justice for All Those Marginalized by Our Food System Gary Paul Nabhan (Broadleaf) $26.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59
I promised not to lapse into longer reviews so I will just say that I intend to describe this more fully later as it deserves to be known among our Hearts & Minds friends. Nabhan is known as “Franciscan Brother Coyote” and is a former MacArthur Fellow and has been called “the father of the local food movement,” As an Arab American, he has interacted with farmers and farmworkers from Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, Oman, and the US. He keeps orchards and gardens and greenhouses at his home in Patagonia, Arizona, although is also a fisherman from the shores of the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. And he’s a Bible guy. Wow.
Here is how the publisher describe this magnificently interesting and inspiring book:
Climate disasters, tariff wars, extractive technologies, and deepening debts are plummeting American food producers into what is quickly becoming the most severe farm crisis of the last half-century. Yet we are largely unaware of the plight of those whose hands and hearts toil to sustain us. Agrarian and ethnobotanist Gary Paul Nabhan–the father of the local food movement–offers a fresh, imaginative look at the parables of Jesus to bring us into a heart of compassion for those in the food economy hit by this unprecedented crisis. Offering palpable scenes from the Sea of Galilee and the fields, orchards, and feasting tables that surrounded it, Nabhan contrasts the profound ways Jesus interacted with those who were the workers of the field and the fishers of the sea with the events currently occurring in American farm country and fishing harbors. Tapping the work of Middle Eastern naturalists, environmental historians, archaeologists, and agro-ecologists, Jesus for Fishers and Farmers is sure to catalyze deeper conversations, moral appraisals, and faith-based social actions in each of our faith-land-water communities.
“Who better to give us a fresh reading of the Jesus story than one of our leading agrarian writers and practitioners? In Jesus for Farmers and Fishers, Gary Paul Nabhan’s vast scientific and agricultural acumen melds with a deep contemplative wisdom. The result is one of the most insightful readings of the Gospels I’ve encountered, read through the eyes of the very people Jesus served: fishers, farmers, bakers, gleaners, migrant farmworkers. Here is a book for today’s food justice movement, and for anyone who hungers for restoration of our lands and our communities.” –Fred Bahnson, author of Soil and Sacrament, and founder of the Food, Health, and Ecological Well-Being Program at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity.
“I am hungry for this book. Gary Paul Nabhan calls us to discover the tastes, scents, and textures of food in the Gospels and encounter the people who grew it, caught it, and cooked it. Nabhan’s work plunges us into the way of Jesus that turns things upside down and inside out. The powerful are brought low and the lowly raised up. As Nabhan digs into the complexity and depth of injustice in Gospel times, we’re shown stories that interweave with those of field hands and food service workers who provide our food–at great cost to themselves.” –Anna Woofenden, author of This Is God’s Table: Finding Church Beyond the Walls
“Gary Nabhan’s work reminds us of what I can describe only as a sort of historical wonder…” –Wendell Berry, author of The Unsettling of America
The Beatitudes Through the Ages Rebekah Eklund (Eerdmans) $35.00
OUR SALE PRICE = $28.00
This came just yesterday and I can’t wait to dip in. It is a sturdy, nicely made hardback worthy of such a major, serious work. Dale Allison, genius of Princeton Theological Seminary says in the foreword,
This volume has humbled me, leaving me cognizant of how little I really know . . . Beyond being a boon for exegesis, this book is a treasure of sermonic possibilities. It holds much that is not on the pages of the commentaries that typically line the shelves of pastors’ offices. So if one is looking for fresh thoughts for preaching, they are here in abundance. Furthermore, interpretation and application are, for Eklund, not separate things. Here she stands in line with the misnamed pre-critical exegetes. The latter were consistently interested in how one might enter into the Beatitudes and bring them to life. Like them, Eklund is not a disinterested observer.
It is not an overstatement to describe Rebekah Eklund’s book as stunning. Clearly written. Delightful to read. Erudite while being open-hearted and open-handed. I learned something new (and old) on every page. This will become the new standard work on the Beatitudes. — Jonathan T. Pennington, author of The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing
Rebekah Eklund’s heart is large, and her imagination broad; her eye for detail is sharp, and her curiosity winsome; her energy to pursue an unlikely hypothesis is generous, and her patience to unearth an esoteric source unending; her passion for truth is relentless, and her joy in Christ’s upside-down kingdom infectious. Blessed are those who read every word of this book and treasure it: for the glory and playfulness of God’s good future are theirs. — Samuel Wells, vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London
To You All Hearts Are Open: Revitalizing the Church’s Pattern of Asking God Scot McKnight (Paraclete Press) $14.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $11.99
This little paperback by an author who is both one of our premier Biblical scholars and most appreciated popular writers is a small gem. It, too, deserves to be explored carefully. I can tell you this much, simply: it has lots of Biblical material as he learns from Scripture what we mean by petitionary prayer. What does it mean to take up the great privilege of being in God’s presence in this special way and then to ask for stuff? My, my, McKnight shows how there is Biblical teaching and, more, Biblical patterns.
The church over time has learned much about this, and in the more liturgical traditions these prayers are called “Collects.” So, To You All Hearts Are Open is about the practice, postures, and patterns of collects. Yep.
As Dr. Winfield Bevins notes, “If you are looking for a refreshing introduction to petitionary prayer that is rooted in the Great Tradition and deeply biblical, this book is for you.”
Providence John Piper (Crossway) $39.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $31.99
This will be in the shop any day now, so knew I should mention it. Obviously, at over 750 pages, it is magisterial in intention and scope. As the publisher says:
Drawing on a lifetime of theological reflection, biblical study, and practical ministry, pastor and author John Piper leads us on a stunning tour of the sightings of God’s providence–from Genesis to Revelation–to discover the all-encompassing reality of God’s purposeful sovereignty over all of creation and all of history. Piper invites us to experience the profound effects of knowing the God of all-pervasive providence: the intensifying of true worship, the solidifying of wavering conviction, the strengthening of embattled faith, the toughening of joyful courage, and the advance of God’s mission in this world.
From Genesis to Revelation, the providence of God directs the entire course of redemptive history. Providence is “God’s purposeful sovereignty.” Its extent reaches down to the flight of electrons, up to the movements of galaxies, and into the heart of man. Its nature is wise and just and good. And its goal is the Christ-exalting glorification of God through the gladness of a redeemed people in a new world.
There are some things about John Piper’s work and some of his views that I oppose. He has inspired me, often, and moved me deeply. There are other times I’ve found him abrasive, although, to be honest, even when he’s bombastic and too sure of himself, it beats authors and pastors who don’t seem to care much about much of anything or can’t work up the energy to say what they believe or why. His passion and boldness and zeal for Christ and the gospel, even if I’m not exactly where he would be on some things, is admirable. (Just see in this 6 minute promo video how he jokes about writing a 700 page book and then his passionate explanation of why he thinks the content of this book is so very important.)
His explanation of this most fundamental topic of the purposeful sovereignty of God may be one of those things where we disagree, but since I have not studied this major work, I can’t say. I know people I respect will disapprove. But, agree or not, for those that want a deep dive into Scripture in ways that draw out this high view of God’s sovereign rule, this will be a must-read resource, a landmark book that the studious pastor Piper has worked on for decades. Some have called it breathtaking, God-glorifying, written to enhance the joy of God’s people, a magnum opus.
Endorsements have poured in from all over the world. There are rave reviews from leaders in Christian seminaries or church movements in China, Russia, Quebec, South America, Germany, Africa…
This is a book about the providence of God, written by a man who has spent his life expounding the glory of God. This volume is substantial, as its subject matter demands. Piper moves from the time before creation to the second coming of Christ, showing that the providential acts of God are pervasive through time, circumstances, and people as he explains the staggering power of the self-sufficient God. — Miguel Núñez, Senior Pastor, International Baptist Church of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Piper has the gift of making complex ideas easily understandable. Under the general theme of providence, he deals with some of the most difficult themes of the Christian faith–the relation of God’s sovereignty to man’s decisions, the origin of evil, God’s use of evil people and the devil to accomplish his goals, and election. From a South American standpoint, where so many questions about God’s ways arise from a context of rampant neopentecostalism, health-and-wealth gospel, poverty, and corruption, this book is much needed. — Augustus Nicodemus Lopes, Assistant Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Recife, Brazil; Vice President, Supreme Council, Presbyterian Church of Brazil
John Piper’s magisterial book is a robust antidote to the weak view on God’s providence held by many Christians today. His exposition of the subject is thorough in scope and saturated with biblical insight. Piper is a model of the pastor-theologian as he not only describes providence but also shows how our understanding of providence can deepen our lives. — Tremper Longman III, Distinguished Scholar and Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies, Westmont College
Dorothy Day: Dissenting Voice of the American Century John Loughery & Blythe Randolph (Simon & Schuster) $18.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40
I have gone on and on about this several times here at BookNotes, explaining how important it is as a major work on Day and how it was so very interesting now only about her faith and politics and the Catholic Worker movement she inspired, but about US history, especially as told from what would have been her vantage point. It was one of my favorite books of 2020 and although we didn’t get to our annual “Best of” awards due to Covid, this would surely have been named. I heartily recommend it.
It was a great privilege that I had a short review published in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette about a year ago. The thick hardback sold then for $30.00 (we now have it at $20.00) but it has just now released in paperback. What a great read in this handsome paper edition that – if I may brag a bit – includes a blurb on it from yours truly. This is so cool for this small town reviewer, I must say. Right there on the cover of a major book from this prominent publishing house next to some famous names, it shows what I wrote a year ago:
Magisterial and glorious; it captures intimate details and offers new insights into Day’s colorful life even as it places her in the broader context of radical movements and the landscape of causes during the 20th century…it may be that Mr. Loughery and Ms. Randolph have given us the definitive biography. —Pittsburgh Post Gazette
No Longer Strangers: Transforming Evangelism with Immigrant Communities edited by Eugene Cho & Samira Izadi Page (Eerdmans) $19.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99
What a remarkable group of contributors a few who are authors you may know (Sandra Maria van Opstal, Jenny Yang, Ann Voskamp) and others who have years of specialized experience sharing the gospel with particular immigrant communities. This offers “a new vision for evangelism that honors the most vulnerable.” This is a good book for anyone doing research into faith-based approaches to immigration (and refugee resettlement and the like) but, truly, it is also a book about missional outreach, evangelism, disciple-making, congregational ministry.
Hate, Inc: Why Today’s Media Makes Us Despise One Another Matt Taibbi (OR Books) $15.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $12.00
The hardback went out of print last fall and this brand new paperback includes a new introduction (or a “post-election preface” as they call it.) Taibbi is a smart and sassy reporter – “smart and scathing” the New York Times calls him, with “freewheeling analysis.” He has written brilliant exposes in Rolling Stone and co-hosts the Useful Idiots podcast. Here is explores how both Fox News and MSNBC are mirror images, creating echo chambers of alternative facts and one-sided worldviews, with primarily money-making agendas, using a strategy that is less news and more giving the people what they want to hear, so to speak – demographic-driven. You can see Hannity and Rachel Maddow on the cover, which is bold for a lefty like Taibbi.
As the Jacobin journal puts it, Hate, Inc. “is as hilarious as it is grim: behind the buffoonery of the 24-hour news cycle is a propaganda system devoted to upholding the power of entrenched elites.” This is clever – one chapter is “how we turned the news into sports” and disturbing. The author’s own biases are evident (the publisher calls it “part tirade, part confession”) but exquisitely so in an appendix where he interviews Noam Chomsky.
Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America Alec MacGillis (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) $28.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $22.40
I’ll admit I’ve got this one – for obvious reasons – tucked away over at our house for me to dive into soon. I’ve heard a few interviews and I hope you have, too. I’ve read some reviews and they are nearly all raving! As Jacob Hacker (a Yale University professor and author of Let Them Eat Tweets) says, Fulfillment is “journalism at its very best: a powerful panoramic account of America’s skyrocketing inequality across people and places.” This is not like Nomadland, really, but it somehow reminds me of that – the displacement, inequities, angst and financial disruption caused by, in this case, Amazon. Like other books on WalMart, say, it shows how their tax credits cost us millions and drain local taxes, infrastructure, and more as they extract much from the local economy. It is a story that is so much a part of our national landscape that to be informed citizens (not to mention consumers) we ought to be aware.
Just read some of these back cover blurbs so you see why it is an important book for any of us:
MacGillis has set out to do something different. The Amazon depicted in Fulfillment is both a cause and a metaphor. It’s an actual engine behind the regional inequality that has made parts of the United States ‘incomprehensible to one another,’ he writes, stymieing a sense of national solidarity… The result is galloping prosperity for some Americans and unrelenting precarity for others… MacGillis suggests that one-click satisfactions distract us from taking in the bigger picture, whose contours can only be discerned with a patient and immersive approach. –Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times
Alec MacGillis takes the ubiquity of [Amazon] and blows it up into something on the scale of Homer’s Odyssey in his new book … MacGillis’s story is as emotional as it is analytical — he visits characters and industries affected by Amazon, demonstrating over and over again that the empire is irreparably changing every aspect of American life as we know it. Sometimes the things we see every day become invisible. MacGillis asks us to look closer. — Amy Pedulla, The Boston Globe
Fulfillment is a mind-bogglingly thorough book, a hybrid of urban history, reportage, profile and research on people and places that have been impacted by Amazon. MacGillis is equally adept in animating the economic picture . . . A compendium of tragedies large and small. — Elizabeth Greenwood, San Francisco Chronicle
Amazon is the campfire we have chosen to commune around, and MacGillis’ book takes a wide, expansive look at how this campfire has become a firestorm whose embers incinerate the very workers, consumers, and communities that are drawn to this warm, culture-eating glow… MacGillis asks us to truly process what Amazon’s pandemic profitability means for the nation. The takeaway is quite sobering: The fates of the company and the nation had diverged entirely. — Patrick McGinty, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A ground-level tour of the United States of Amazon… The individual stories in Fulfillment are chilling . . . The book is also the story of a political system captivated by the idea that what is good for Amazon is good for America. — James Kwak, The Washington Post
Alec MacGillis practices journalism with ambition, tenacity, and empathy that will command your awe. Like one of the great nineteenth-century novels, Fulfillment studies a social ill with compelling intimacy and panoramic thoroughness. In the process, Jeff Bezos’s dominance and its costs are made real–and it becomes impossible to one-click again the same. — Franklin Foer, staff writer at The Atlantic and author of World Without Mind
Anyone who orders from Amazon needs to read these moving and enraging stories of how one person’s life savings, one life’s work, one multigenerational tradition, one small business, one town after another, are demolished by one company’s seemingly unstoppable machine. They are all the more enraging because Alec MacGillis shows so clearly how things could have been different. — Larissa MacFarquhar, staff writer at The New Yorker and author of Strangers Drowning: Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help
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