I’ve been working on and off for weeks on a topical post that we’ll do soon. I’ve compiled lots of recent titles around civility, conflict, peacemaking, nonviolence, and the like. It’s been on my heart for ages and there are some books that will have you on the edge of your seat. And a few that are brand spanking new. That list, now, seems more urgent that ever.
However, first, we are so glad about new titles that keep coming — hooray for USPS and UPS and FedEx for getting our cartons to us here at the shop! We want our friends to know about some of them. Here are reviews of some of our recent favs. We think there is something here for your reading pleasure during what for at least some of us is a pretty chilly January.
All are 20% off and, as usual, you can click on the link at the very end which takes you to our secure order form page at the website. That is always safe to enter credit card info and we promise to write back to you personally to confirm everything. Happy book buying!
What Are Christians For? Life Together at the End of the World Jake Meador (IVP) $22.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $17.60
This just arrived a few days ago and I can say without a doubt that a year from now it will be on many of our best reviewer’s “Best of 2022″ lists. We were very enthusiastic about the great wisdom and insight and beauty of his excellent In Search of the Common Good, and this new one is going to be as acclaimed and as enduring, slim as it is. In a way, What Are Christians For? is more of the same, a combo of small town storytelling, church history, theological explanation, and an astute critique of the assumptions and practices of modernity, showing how we found ourselves distanced from each other and the creation itself in this fractured seemingly disenchanted world. In this book, Jake pleasantly explores non-ideological politics, race (in conversation with Willie Jennings), ecology and our mechanized society (inspired, as always, by his love for his place and his appreciation of the good words of Wendell Berry) and what Malcolm Foley (director of Black church studies at Truett Seminary) calls “a robust historic Reformed orthodoxy guided by Herman Bavinck.” Oh yeah — this is delightfully ecumenical and surprising, even, breaking stereotypes of what a conservative Reformed evangelical thinks and how young scholars live.
This serious reflection on what a Christian public witness should look like in our day and Meador’s proposal for a politics of givenness (that’s a Wendell Berry phrase) is what some have called “thick” and “trenchant” and “penetration” and “unsettling.” The quite dramatic first story took my breath away and the less dramatic one — involving the debt he owes his dad for helping get him out of a snow bank in the middle of one Nebraska night — had me hooked in the first few pages. This is a wonderful, important book. It is intellectually stimulating, enjoyable, wise and we highly recommend it.
As Tim Keller says, “Our polarized and fragmenting contemporary church needs this book!”
Do You Believe? 12 Historic Doctrines to Change Your Everyday Life Paul David Tripp (Crossway) $32.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $26.39
This is a pretty remarkable, relatively accesible, frankly evangelical, gospel-based and gracious study of historic theology, offered in the clear, non-nonsense and often poignant manner of Christian thinker, counselor, writer, Paul Tripp. You may know his very popular, beloved (if intense) devotional called New Morning Mercies. Here he offers a standard sort of chapter explaining a Biblical doctrine — creation, the nature of God, the person of Christ, what sin is, how redemption works, the role of the Spirit, the theology of the church, our future hope, etc. — and after each chapter there is an application sort of essay, a strong piece about why this doctrine matters, how this theological truth is lived out, the transformation we can experience when we understand and live out of this aspect of Christian teaching. There is even an artistic symbol for each chapter, which is fun and helpful. I appreciate their effort to make this weighty stuff interesting and useful.
Tripp is not quite a neo-Calvinist Kuyperian of the sort I described in last week’s post, but he indeed does help us see that classic formulations of Biblical doctrines do have practical implications and Do You Believe helps us (as Dane Ortlund puts it) “funnel them into our actual, real-time lives.” Ortlund continues:
This book makes wonderfully unavoidable what theology is for — buoyancy and hope and energy in my life today.
How Beautiful the World Could Be: Christian Reflections on the Everyday Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt (Eerdmans) $22.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $18.39
Again, perhaps on this theme of the power of doctrine and the ways in which we can inhabit the world with a “spirituality of the ordinary” and how knowing a bit of theology can help us do that, this remarkable book is a stunner. Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt is a Roman Catholic professor of theology and scholar and good preacher, too (even if Catholics call them homilists.) His last book was a fabulous, beautiful, little Eerdmans paperback called The Love That is God: An Invitation to Christian Faith ($18.99; OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19) that we have commended several times here at BookNotes. This brand new one is written in a lively tone and style (these were homilies, after all and are transcribed as poetic verse) and from a broader faith tradition than, say, the CCEF background of Paul Tripp (above.) Yet, these movingly written pieces are pushing in somewhat similar territory insofar as he is a trained theologian offering practical reflections on living out faith in our day to day lives and helping us see that our personal life story is part of a larger Story begun and unfolding in sacred Scripture’s telling of redemptive history. These are sermons informed by good thinking and poetically offered for us ordinary saints.
You must listen to just one of the many rave reviews from our friend Winn Collier:
In an age where our theology often either wilts or bludgeons, we’re desperate for faithful, artful voices that speak into the grit of our world without adding to the clamor. We need words that pierce while carrying the lilt of love. We need true poets in the pulpit. Thankfully, we have Bauerschmidt’s haunting, holy sentences beckoning us toward the God of beauty and thunder. — Winn Collier, director of the Eugene Peterson Center for Christian Imagination and author of Love Big, Be Well and A Burning in My Bones.)
Beautiful and enticing, eh? That very well may be the best book blurb I’ve seen in years and I hope it shows you just how wonderful this new collection is.
Garden Maker: Growing a Life of Beauty & Wonder with Flowers Christie Purifoy (Harvest House) $26.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59
Well, speaking of applied theology, Christie Purifoy is theologically astute herself, an excellent writer, (with a PhD in English lit), and an exceptionally thoughtful woman who has lived into a deep and human sort of spirituality of stewarding her own home. She offered lovely prose in her debut memoir Roots & Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons and then wrote the amazing Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace which we cannot say enough about. As Covid began to spread, she had just signed a contract to write this book, taking pictures of the many flowers she plants and offering a remarkable blend of gift book, instruction manual, and spiritual meditation on the joy of gardening. And what a book it turned out to be!
Purifoy had time alone to ponder these things in her heart, and the exceptional photos (enhanced by wonderful design touches, from end papers to handsome pull quotes) are accompanied by her own selection of good quotes, Scripture reflections, and rumination on getting one’s hands dirty in the soil of God’s good, fallen, and being redeemed world of wonder.
Enjoy this very short video about Garden Maker.
Garden Maker is a book we’ve been eagerly awaiting and we are sure many will take great delight in this glorious hardback full of vivid photographs and equally vivid writing. Hooray.
Refugia Faith: Seeking Hidden Shelters, Ordinary Wonders, and the Healing of the Earth Debra Rienstra (Fortress Press) $23.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $19.19
This arrived yesterday and what first struck me is that with such a lovely and appropriate design, with slightly upraised type, it might be the most handsome hardback book that we’ve seen so far this year. Even the pencil sketches before each chapter bring to mind classic old scientific drawings from natural history (or, maybe the lush novel The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert.) I mention the aesthetics of this because it seems to assure us that this is done with great care, that it will be a classy volume about the wonders of this good but broken world and truly a worthy read.
Professor Rienstra is a great writer — she is an English prof at Calvin University. The first book I read of hers was a memoir of pregnancy that was beautifully captivating and then another on what sort of liturgical words for worship we might use and their consequence. As good English teachers and writers do, Rienstra cares about words and she writes conscientiously and very well and her work is is itself a gift of solace. Refugia Faith is reflecting upon “how we can become healers on a damaged Earth and inspire others to do the same.” It is not lost on me that she thanks Kathleen Dean Moore, one of my very favorite nature writers. Nor that she is a writer for the fabulously interesting online Reformed Journal and their blog “The Twelve.”
The key word of the title — refugia (re-FU-jee-ah) — is, in fact, as the back cover tells us, “a biological term describing places of shelter where life endures in times of crisis, such as a volcanic eruption, fire, or stressed climate.”
As the publisher tells us, “Rienstra recounts her own process of education — beginning not as a scientist or an outdoors enthusiast but by examining the wisdom of theologians and philosophers, farmers and nature writers, scientists and activists, and especially people on the margins.”
By weaving nature writing, personal narrative, and theological reflection, Rienstra grapples honestly with her own fears and longings and points toward a way forward — a way to transform Christian spirituality.
Rave reviews grace the back cover from Bill McKibben (who calls is a “solace” and a “small classic”), Kristin Kobes Du Mez (who says it is “filled with beauty” and is “gorgeously written”), Randy Woodley (who says it will help readers “rediscover your sense of wonderment!”) and Karyn Bigelow of Creation Justice Ministries.
Listen to Kyle Meyaard-Schapp, vice president of the Evangelical Environmental Network, who writes,
For most of us, a crises like climate change is cause for panic and withdrawal. Rienstra beautifully, winsomely invites us to flip this script. Rather than viewing it as an insurmountable challenge, she argues that the climate crisis is an opportunity for transformation — if only we have the courage, imagination, and resiliency to seize it.
Say Yes: Discovering the Surprising Life Beyond the Death of a Dream Scott Erickson (Zondervan) $25.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $20.79
This released — dropped, as the kids say –just yesterday and I was too busy reading other brand new ones to spend much time with it last night, even though I was as eager as most to see what Scott is up to now. He’s an acquaintance from his speaking (and painting!) many years at our annual Jubilee conference in Pittsburgh and is the way cool graphic designer and modern artist whose visuals served as a basis for the amazingly thoughtful prayers and meditations of Justin McRoberts. I sure hope you know their collaborations Prayer: Forty Days of Practice and May It Be So: Forty Days with the Lord’s Prayer. Maybe you know his Honest Advent that had more writing content than visual art (than, say, the two with McRoberts, which were very visual in nature.) The brand new Say Yes, I can tell you, has plenty of content. And plenty of art, even if some are small, cartoony illuminations along the page’s edges, odd highlighted words, funny sketches. The goofiness is there; the profundity, too. Erickson is a character.
Two things we can assure you about Say Yes. It is an invitation to a journey. The “surprising life” that emerges from that coffin on the cover is serious business. Erickson sees himself as a partner on the journey, a guide, actually, and he tells stories and points readers how to get in touch with their own deepest stories. He’s influenced by, or at less simpatico with his pal Justin (I do recommend his It Is What You Make of It: Creating Something Great from What You’ve Been Given) and he’s shaped by his quirky awareness of art history and pop culture. With a bit of Jung and Joseph Campbell myth insights, too, I suspect. He loves that meta stuff — he once did amazing icon-like pieces of each of the characters of Lost for a great book reflecting on the theological implications of that big TV hit.
He calls himself a “touring painter, performance storyteller, and creative curate.” He wants to speak to our deepest experiences, including lament, as he did so well in Honest Advent.
If one is going to talk about vision and hope and living your story like some counter-cultural, hipster Bob Goff, your going to need to make it real and grapple with serious loss. And that is what Erickson calls The Voice of Giving Up. As he has explained in his workshops and artsy programs over the years, he has apparently had some midnight conversations with this voice. If you have too, he knows what you’re going through and can help you begin again. As one reviewer put it, it can give your life’s purpose “a metaphorical kick in the pants.”
Playing Favorites: Overcoming Our Prejudices to Bridge the Cultural Divide Rodger Woodworth (Wipf & Stock) $16.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $12.80
We have gotten so many good books on race, racism, and multi-ethnic ministry that I am soon to release yet another full BookNotes dedicated to the latest on this topic. We have stacks of new ones and they are excellent. For now, though, we just have to tell you about this small one. It is very good, well worth being used as a small group study or to give to your leadership team. But our fondness of it is deepened by our friendship with the author, a respected pastor from Pittsburgh.
Rodger has quite a story and it is his to tell, but we know and love his grown children, know a bit about his own dramatic conversion as an adult, and his eventual work in an interracial church as a co-pastor with an African American colleague. For a while, white guy that he is, he served the CCO in their own cross cultural and multi-ethnic ministry department. He is respected many in Pittsburgh where he has mentored street people and community leaders. We’ve touted a collection of sermons that he did at his downtown church, Kingdom Holiness: Holy Living in a Challenging Culture. He is a good pastor who cares for his people but also about what we might call public theology and social witness. He invites people to think about calling and vocation, work and citizenship. And, yes, race and racism.
In Playing Favorites Rev. Woodworth does a serious but somewhat basic study, excellent for those perhaps just starting this journey in their group or church. It is exceptionally Biblical and although he is not unaware of anti-racist calls to fight systemic injustices, it focuses, firstly, on basic Bible truths about naming and overcoming prejudices, about unity within the Body of Christ and what he calls “becoming third culture people.”
There are seven readable chapters unlocking enriching Bible stories and offering insights which I suspect many readers have missed. He is a good exegete and good teacher, and his stories ring true. It is about 80 pages and then there is a very useful study guide. Using the metaphor of a bridge is going to be very helpful for many. Being rooted in such a robust vision of the gospel is a great asset. Thanks be to God.
Playing Favorites is a helpful reminder of the call to see others not through human eyes of division but as beings made in the image of God reflecting the beauty of diversity. Woodworth recounts for us that prejudice is not what bad people have but is a condition that all people have. . . . May we have the courage, humility, and intentionality to take the lessons in this timely text to heart. — Todd Allen, Vice President of Diversity, Messiah University
Filled with stories — many of them personal — and undergirded by Scripture, Woodworth carefully, biblically, systematically, and pastorally detangles believers from the sin of partiality to fully and unabashedly embrace other persons made in God’s image. And leaving nothing to chance, Woodworth provides discussion questions for each chapter to further help with liberating us from this partiality entanglement to freely, warmly, and impartially embrace all neighbors. — Luke B. Bobo, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Made to Flourish; editor of Whatever You Do: Six Foundations for an Integrated Life and Living Salty and Light-filled Lives in the Workplace
Born of his lifelong reading of the word and the world, Woodworth enters into the perennial problem of prejudice, a challenge for the church in every century and every culture. We stumble over ourselves, more often than not living with wounds of class and race that keep us from a deeper, truer unity. Playing Favorites offers another way to live, both a critique of what is, and a vision for what should be. A book for all who long to see and hear the world as it someday will be. — Steven Garber, author of Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good and A Seamless Life: A Tapestry of Love and Learning, Worship and Work
Fearing Bravely: Risking Love for Our Neighbors, Strangers, and Enemies Catherine McNiel (NavPress) $16.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59
Just a few days ago an author we respect jotted us a quick note saying how good this book is and that we should be sure to order some for our store. We already had, and they just arrived, complete with a great forward by Karen Gonzalez and endorsements by all sorts of engaging and culturally-engaged contemporary authors we admire — Marlena Graves, Dennis Edwards, Matthew Soerens, Michelle Ami Reyes, Aubrey Sampson, Liuan Huska, all authors we have mentioned here and that you should know. And they all rave. Yes!
We have reviewed (and also raved) about McNeil’s previous books — her one about being a mother of a young child (Long Days of Small Things) and, more recently, the breathtaking All Shall Be Well: Awakening to God’s Presence in His Messy, Abundant World. (That one, by the way, has a foreword by the poet Luci Shaw for good measure.) Its reminder that God is alive and well, active and redemptive in the very world in which we live is beautiful and true encouraging.
Now, McNiel takes up a somewhat different approach — but, really not. God is alive and working and we can encounter Christ (as He himself plainly taught) not just in the creation but in the face of others, or, as they say these days, “the other.” The person we don’t like, the neighbor that annoys, the stranger, the immigrant, the enemy. Yes, as she notes, we have many reasons to be afraid. (“Everywhere we go we are bombarded by fear,” it says on the back. This world we love can be unpredictable and chaotic. Sometimes it fells like everything we hold dear is fragile.” But Christ said “Do not fear.”
And that is what this book is about, really, caring about others more than our fears might allow.
In Fearing Bravely — don’t ya love the play off of the Brene Brown title and the double whammy of the oxymoronic phrase? — McNiel invites you on a journey through very real fears and into love. Love is the answer, the antidote, the offer. What does it mean to love others? To help us get there, she not only offers solid Biblical reflection, tells great stories, but has some suggested practices, reflection questions, and even recommended artwork to ponder. My, oh my, this looks so good, a theologically solid, spiritually alive, gospel vision of love. Maybe my writer friend was correct — we really need this and it is perfect for Hearts & Minds customers.
The Monastic Heart: 50 Simple Practices for a Contemplative and Fulfilling Life Joan Chittister (Convergent) $26.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $20.80
We are glad for the many, many books that have come out in the last decade or so about contemplative spirituality, monastic practices, the inner life, and the formative aspects of what Dallas Willard called the “renovation of the heart.” (That book, The Renovation of the Heart, by the way, was recently re-issued in a commemorative anniversary hardback which we announced here at BookNotes a few weeks ago at our 20% off discount.) We are thankful for authors like Ruth Haley Barton whose Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation just came out in paperback! (The new paperback sells for $17.00, but since we are mentioning it here, it’s 20% off. OUR SALE PRICE = $13.60.) Yes, there have been so many remarkable books along these lines; it is one of the most notable trends in our 40 years of bookselling. For instance, I just re-read Robert Benson’s 1999 book Living Prayer for the third time and know that many resonant with his lovely articulation of his journey towards a more liturgical and monastic sort of prayerfulness.
Many evangelicals and more main mainline Protestants have been trained in spiritual direction and this renewal of older sorts of spirituality is now not only “a thing” on the religious landscape, it is mostly a very good thing. We are a long way away from the days in the 1980s when there was a petition circulating against our bookstore because we carried books on meditation and “new age” titles like Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. We even had a whole section of books by Thomas Merton!
One of the enduring conversation partners, guides, leaders, mentors and models for many of us over these decades of contemplative renewal, Protestant and Catholic, has been Sister Joan Chittister from the Benedictine community in Erie PA. For long years she has been tireless as both an advocate for what some call the “best kept secret” of the Catholic church, their consistent pro-life, pro-peace, pro-ecology, vision of public justice. That those who regularly walk with the poor and marginalized (like the must-read writer Gregory Boyle) call her “essential” and admire her blending of the inner and outer lives is significant. She is one who has earned the right to be heard.
This new one is very inviting and it pretty much just what it says: it is her lovely set of meditative reflections offering ideas of how to cultivate our inner lives (as James Martin puts it) “and so encounter the One who desires to encounter us.” She does this my distilling for us key aspects of monastic life, the practices that shape a certain sort of meaningful life together.
Listen to these poignant words by another beautifully seasoned woman in this movement, Norvene Vest:
To engage these pages is to hear a grateful hymn to the monastic life Sister Joan has known and loved. I notice particularly how often in this book that Joan uses the word you. She seems to be handing over the baton, asking all of us who listen to pick up our own share of the will of God for the the world.
Much more could be said, but if you are drawn to nurturing your deepest longings and yearn for a balance of prayer and work, stability and care, silence and singing, this really is a charming, illuminating read. We thank God for Sister Joan and her community that empowers her to write so very much. This could be one of her best.
Four Views of Heaven (Counterpoints) edited by Michael Wittmer (Zondervan Academic) $20.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $16.79
Many of our customers appreciate these Counterpoint books where the format is simple (even if it sounds a little complicated in explaining it.) There are four authors, each representing four major positions in a given topic. After an author presents his or her arguments, the other three give their unique and particular response, usually noting agreements and offering some critique. (In some cases, like the one on church and state, the responses, especially James K.A. Smith, are exceptionally helpful illuminating common ground and significant disagreements.) This is one of those, too, where the give and take shows some commonality and some significantly different interpretations of the key Bible texts and the complex tradition of church teaching. What an education — four views and each others replies to each other. You can’t take a seminary class so diverse as this (let alone for less than twenty bucks, folks.) I’m a fan of these “Four Views” Counterpoint books, and this one is one I have been waiting for.
One of my favorite writers who represents well one of my favorite doctrines — the hope of a new creation, which is a restoration and healing of this fallen world. Richard Middleton (whose new book Abraham’s Silence: The Binding of Issac, The Suffering of Job, and How to Talk Back to God is breathtakingly brilliant, and which I described briefly in a previous BookNotes) wrote what I take to be the definitive book about what some call “the end times” and what fancy pants scholars call eschatology. It came out in 2014 and is entitled A New Heavens and a New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology (Baker Academic; $29.99 – OUR BOOKNOTES SALE PRICE = $23.99) and has not been bettered since. I am sure it is his expertise and reputation for this book that got him to be one of the four spokespersons and conversations partners in this stimulating volume. Thanks much to Michael Wittmer (who has himself written a bit about this) for pulling it all together.
The four views that go back and forth are:
- Traditional Heaven – our destiny is to leave earth and live forever in heaven where we will rest, worship, and serve God (John S. Feinberg)
- Restored Earth – emphasizes that the saved will live forever with Jesus on this restored planet, enjoying ordinary human activities in our redeemed state. (J. Richard Middleton)
- Heavenly Earth – a balanced view that seeks to highlight both the strengths and weaknesses of the heavenly and earthly views (Michael Allen).
- Roman Catholic Beatific Vision – stresses the intellectual component of salvation, though it encompasses the whole of human experience of joy, happiness coming from seeing God finally face-to-face (Peter Kreeft).
Two quickie comments: Firstly, this is not about timelines or the processes leading towards any finalizing of human history. There are Counterpoint books on various views of all that happens about millenialisms and views of the rapture and whatnot. Granted, I often say I’m a pan-millenialist (“it all pans out in the end.”) or cite the adage, “I’m not on the planning committee, I’m on the welcoming committee.” But those debates can be interesting and fruitful. This one, Four Views of Heaven however, is not about eschatology, really, but about heaven. What is it and where is it and what will we do there? If you’ve read Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright, you know some of the discussions and why they matter.
And that’s my second question: why it matters. Look — if we are mostly looking forward to being with Jesus in some spiritual sense, worshipping, mostly, in the clouds, maybe, then why bother recycling, say? Why care about anything this world has to offer, really, if our final destination is some ethereal place called heaven. If the Earth is going to be destroyed, really, then what’s the point of earthly existence? If our bodies are not raised in full as Jesus’ was, then why care for them now, really? I hope you hear my point: what we think about our final destination informs us here and now. We live the Christian life in many ways shaped by our vision of the end. The future pulls us and getting that in focus can be a huge, huge help. Especially if Middleton is mostly right.
But of course,,even apart from the logic of some continuity between this world and the next, the big question is what do the Scriptures teach? What view of heaven do we get from a careful and consistent exploration of the topic. All four authors want us to think Christianly, be faithfully theologically, all inspired by the Biblical texts. Their give and take is a fascinating and informative Bible class you’ll never forget.
Tradition and Apocalypse: An Essay on the Future of Christian Belief David Bentley Hart (Baker Academic) $24.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99
I cannot say much about this since it just arrived hours ago. It happily arrived a bit early and we’ll send out copies tomorrow to those who pre-ordered it. We are truly grateful for those who pay attention to such rigorous thinkers. This is a hardback on the trim size (190 pages, but not hefty) but what it may not have in physical bulk, I have no doubt makes up in intellectual heft with more demanding prose per page than anything on this list. We’ve got our fair share of academic and scholarly tomes here at the store even if we don’t often promote them here since, well, most of us don’t read that technical sort of stuff, fascinating (and sometimes obscure) as it may be. Hart is a rare bird, a serious thinker and scholarly writer who is fairly well known, demanding as he may be. Even his recent books, the weird one about philosophy as seen through the eyes of his pet dog Roland in Moonlight and the recent playful novel, Kenogaia (A Gnostic Tale), will be beyond many of us. I figure this one will be, too…
Ahh, but it looks really important, offering a critique of the concept of “tradition” that dominates Christian thought. Or, at least the Christian thought that he interacts with as a demanding Orthodox philosopher who has taught at several upper tier universities. One could almost call him a public intellectual and I salute him for his ability to do this provocative work. I have it from good sources that this is really imporant.
Read this endorsing blurb carefully and if it makes sense to you, you’ll most likely appreciate Hart and his new book:
Tradition and Apocalypse invites readers to abandon every anxious traditionalism in order to inhabit the only kind of tradition Christianity can actually be: that strange discursive tradition — patient and radical, generous and revolutionary — demanded by the permanent ferment of its apocalyptic origin and its final telos in the coming of the Kingdom of God. We have dogma and history only as we find them suspended between the advent and the final apotheosis of the Gospel apocalypse. That faith must own both dogma and history in this way is the summons of this extraordinary book.
— Philip G. Ziegler, author of Militant Grace
This one maybe explains it just a bit more plainly:
Tradition is not the preservation or development of a body of knowledge or cultic practices but the continuity of faith in and hope of the final apocalypse when all that remains is love — so argues David Hart in this brilliant book, which bristles with insights that are sure to both provoke and encourage.
— John Behr, University of Aberdeen
This Sacred Life: Humanity’s Place in a Wounded World Norman Wirzba (Cambridge University Press) $28.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $23.19
Speaking of public intellectuals that can run a bit on the scholarly side of the street, whose work is widely appreciated but sometimes dense, here is a book that we are honored to promote and happy to say that it will be well worth working through carefully. Wirzba is a bit of a farmer as well as distinguished Professor of Theology at Duke University Divinity School (and a Senior Fellow at Duke’s Kenan institute for Ethics.) He is one of Wendell Berry’s good friends, perhaps a more philosophically-minded thinker ploughing some of the same ground as ecologist and activist Bill McKibben, and a writer who is often cited by Brian Walsh & Sylvia Keesmaat (see Romans Disarmed, just for instance.) He has a few popular level books (he co-authored a book on food, mostly, called Making Peace with the Land with Fred Bahnson and a striking one called Living the Sabbath) and a few expensive academic ones. This may be his most major work yet.
Here is Willie James Jennings (of Yale University) explaining the importance of This Sacred Life:
There is no more important interpreter of how to envision thriving life with the living planet than Norman Wirzba. He writes in ways that bring the religious and the nonreligious, the Christian and non-Christian into a shared perception of the problems and possibilities of healthy creaturely life. This beautifully rendered account of the sacrality of life offers what so many writing today on ecology, ecotheology, or environmental ethics struggle to achieve – a coherent and compelling vision of the human creature. This is a book that sings!
In this corker of a book Norman Wirzba, one of the foremost contributors to environmental philosophy and theology, addresses the modern western problem of rootlessness — not just from soil and land, but from self and a sense of purpose. Grounding his constructive vision in a theology of creation, he finds that this creaturely life (which encompasses the stars and the microorganism as well as ourselves) ‘is not simply the object of God’s love but its material manifestation.’ Wirzba writes with an ease that welcomes every reader, and an erudition that will benefit all.’ — Janet Soskice, William K. Warren Distinguished Research Professor of Catholic Theology, Duke University Divinity School
A Companion in Crisis: A Modern Paraphrase of John Donne’s Devotions Philip Yancey (Illumify Media) $14.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $11.99
What a find! It isn’t every day that an author as esteemed and popular as best-seller Philip Yancey self publishes his own little book, but here it is. There is a renewed interest in Mr. Yancey, it seems, since his much-discussed Fall 2021 release Where the Light Fell: A Memoir (which you really must read!) This little volume is a side-project Yancey did, a 30-day reader based on John Donne’s poetic meditations. As the back cover promises, “This new version of a beloved classic has starling relevance as we face similar questions…” Questions about life and death, pandemics and suffering, God’s goodness and how to make sense of it all.
Those questions are perennial (and Yancey himself has written wisely about them, in classics such as Where Is God When it Hurts and Disappointment with God and, after a school shooting years ago, the brief but potent The Question That Never Goes Away.) Still, as Phil puts it, “Nothing had prepared me for John Donne’s raw account of confrontation with God.” The back cover describe is well:
As the world entered a long dark night and Yancey (ever the lover of great literature) he turned to this nearly 400-year-old manuscript for guidance. You see, as the preacher and poet wrote his Devotions in 1663, during a pandemic in his city of London. For a month Donne lay sick, hearing the church bell toll each death and wondering if his would be next.
Does God use illness as punishment? Is there some message in the pandemic or our personal struggles? How might you find peace and comfort? With Donne’s poems and prayers and Yancey’s helpful commentary, this small book is rich and rewarding. We are very glad to recommend it.
The Apostles’ Creed For All God’s Children Ben Myers, illustrated by Natasha Kennedy (Lexham Press) $17.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39
I hope you know the short, “Christian Essentials” series of outstanding, pocket-sized hardbacks done so handsomely and wisely by Lexham Press. They include one by Wesley Hill on the Lord’s prayer, one on baptism and another on the ten commandments, both by Peter Leithart. The one on the Apostles Creed is by Ben Myers and it is exceptional.
And now Myers, a theologian and author from Brisbane, Australia, has done a children’s book based on his Christian Essentials The Apostles Creed: A Guide to the Ancient Catechism. A picture book for young readers with fabulous art by Natasha Kennedy (of Seattle), this one should have wide appeal. After a line from the creed there is a simple reflection on the facing page. It is not sentimental or silly or vapid (how could it be, I think, but leave it to some well intended publishers to misstep.) The art is vivid, the content mature, and without condescending, there is this friendly feline, FatCat, who helps learn the traditional text of the Creed. This is the first venture into children’s picture books from this thoughtful and classy conservative publisher and it will good to see if there is more FatCat coming. I hope so.
We have an inexpensive coloring book, too, also called The Apostle’s Creed for All God’s Children, a FatCat coloring book. It goes for $3.99. OUR SALE PRICE = $3.19.
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It is helpful if you would tell us how you prefer us to ship your orders. The weight and destination of your package varies but you can use this as a thumbnail, general guide.
There are generally two kinds of US Mail options, and, of course, UPS. If necessary, we can do overnight and other expedited methods, too. Just ask.
- United States Postal Service has the option called “Media Mail” which is cheapest but slow and may be delayed. For one book, usually, it’s about $3.50 – $4.00
- United States Postal Service has another option called “Priority Mail” which is about $8.35 if it fits in a flat rate envelope. Many children’s books are oversized so that will take the next size up with is $8.95. That gets much more attention than does “Media Mail.”
- UPS Ground is reliable but varies by weight and distance and may take longer than USPS. We’re happy to figure out your options for you once we know what you want.
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Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street Dallastown PA 17313
We are still closed for in-store browsing due to our commitment to public health and the common good (not to mention the safety of our staff and customers.) The vaccination rate here in York County is sadly lower than average and the hospitals are overcrowded. Our store is a bit cramped without top-notch ventilation so we are trying to be wise and faithful. Please, wherever you are, do your best to stop this awful sickness going around.
We are doing our famous curb-side customer service and can show any number of items to you if you call us from our back parking lot. We are eager to serve and grateful for your patience as we all work to mitigate the pandemic.
Of course, we’re happy to ship books anywhere. Just tell us how you want them sent.