Thanks to those who sent encouraging notes about our last BookNotes newsletter. It is intense stuff reading about the bizarre accusations of a stolen election and it is tragic to learn of the former President’s affiliation with such gonzo bad guys as Alex Jones, Roger Stone, and the Oath Keepers rebels. We understand that good people and faithful Christians can disagree about policy considerations and since the Bible itself has a fairly complex social ethic, it isn’t always simple to deduce what policies are best for the common good. But the ludicrous “stop the steal” stuff has to be resisted with all our might and good Americans should refuse to support those who are complicit in any of that Trumpian illogic. I trust that those books helped make a case about the systemic nature of the January 6th “unthinkable” that many Republicans are still saluting. Anyway, although we didn’t sell many of those books, we’re glad you read my thoughts about them.
We still have those five that I reviewed at a 20% off, so let us know if we can ship any to you or yours.
New books continue to come out and we are more than excited to share the news about some forthcoming gems, treasures of various sorts for all kinds of readers.
Here is a good list of forthcoming titles you can pre-order from us now. (Of course, as we often say, you can always pre-order anything, anytime.)
IF YOU ARE PRE-ORDERING MORE THAN ONE PLEASE TELL US IF YOU’D LIKE US TO SHIP THEM AS THEY ARRIVE OR HOLD TOGETHER TO CONSOLIDATE, SHIPPING TOGETHER WHEN THE LATER ONES ARRIVE. WE ARE HAPPY TO SERVE YOU WELL SO LET US KNOW AS MANY OF YOUR EXPECTATIONS AS YOU CAN.
Visual Thinking: The Hidden Gifts of People Who Think in Pictures, Patterns, and Abstractions Temple Grandin (Riverhead) $28.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $22.40 AVAILABLE NOW
This thoughtful hardback just arrived and I’ve not had time to peruse it, but, you know, she is just amazing, a remarkable person, leader, thinker, and educator. She has a knack for demystifying complex social and psychological science. This introduces us to a certain sort of person and their perceptions, based on her own vivid experiences, I’m sure, and the latest research.
Dinosaurs: A Novel Lydia Millett (W. W. Norton) $26.95 OUR SALE PRICE = $21.56 AVAILABLE NOW
Do you know the award winning novel A Children’s Bible from a year or two ago? Wow. This is Millet’s stunning new novel, named as one of the Most Anticipated Books of 2022 by the Boston Globe, Literary Hub and The Millions. It is the story of a man named Gil who walks from New York to Arizona “to recover from failed love.” You can expect that his life will be entangled with his new neighbors. One reviewer said the novel asks, “in the shadow of existential threat, where does hope live?”
Blood from a Stone: A Memoir of How Wine Brought Me Back from the Dead Adam McHugh (IVP) $20.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00 AVAILABLE NOW
You may know McHugh’s previous books such as his award-winning Introverts in the Church and the excellent, nearly contemplative paperback, The Listening Life. This brand new one, however, is about grief and loss and transition — helped along by the good gifts of God’s creation. Can this beleaguered, hurting author find healing through wine, friends, and the beauty of the French wine country or the glories of California’s central coast? Is there something to indeed savor, here?
With the first line being “This is the story of how wine brought be back from the dead” you know this is going to be interesting. As McHugh tells of his new take on an old story, he observes, “Most stories about religion and drink are stories of recovery. I’m not sure if mine isn’t a story of recovery too.”
McHugh is a sommelier and Certified Specialist of Wine who lives in Santa Ynez Valley, CA. And a very fine writer.
Adam McHugh’s stunning memoir, Blood from a Stone, brings a sideways beatitude: Blessed are the lonely, the detached, the fired, the tired, and the spiritually hungry. They will see God if they’re paying attention and willing to be surprised. Read, savor, and listen for the low hum of deep faith in this personal story of a man who writes with a keen awareness of grief and a self-deprecating honesty. You’ll leave with a renewed longing for food and meaning, cheese and history, and wine you can’t pronounce — Emily P. Freeman, author of The Next Right Thing
Demon Copperhead: A Novel Barbara Kingsolver (Harper) $32.50 OUR SALE PRICE = $26.00 DUE OCTOBER 18, 2022
It has been several years since Kingsolver’s spectacular and very interesting Unsheltered. I have since re-read both of her collections of essays High Tide in Tucson and Small Wonders, both which I love. In this much anticipated story she puts a new twist on the Dickens classic David Copperfield, apparently, it is stunning. It has been called a tour de force and a virtuoso work. The short summary from the publisher summarizes the plot in a pedestrian way: “The teenage son of an Appalachian single mother who dies when he is eleven uses his good looks, wit, and instincts to survive foster care, child labor, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses.” But, with Kingsolver there is always more going on, much more. I’m sure this is going to be much talked about these next months.
Here are what some impressed advanced readers have said:
Demon is a voice for the ages — akin to Huck Finn or Holden Caulfield — only even more resilient. I’m crazy about this book, which parses the epidemic in a beautiful and intimate new way. I think it’s her best. — Beth Macy, author of Dopesick
Readers see the yearning for love and wells of compassion hidden beneath Demon’s self-protective exterior…. Emotionally engaging is Demon’s fierce attachment to his home ground, a place where he is known and supported, tested to the breaking point as the opiate epidemic engulfs it. An angry, powerful book seething with love and outrage for a community too often stereotyped or ignored. — Kirkus Review
A deeply evocative story…Kingsolver’s account of the opioid epidemic and its impact on the social fabric of Appalachia is drawn to heartbreaking effect. This is a powerful story, both brilliant in its many social messages regarding foster care, child hunger, and rural struggles, and breathless in its delivery. — Publishers Weekly
Liberation Day: Stories George Saunders (Random House) $28.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $22.40 AVAILABLE OCTOBER 18, 2022
Those who follow the art of the short story know that Saunders is considered one of the true masters of the form. (His only real novel, I think, was the highly regarded Lincoln in the Bardo.) These new stories, we are told, explore “ideas of power, ethics, and justice, and cuts to the very heart of what it means to live in community with fellow humans.” Well, that’s not too bad, is it? The Oprah Daily called it “pitch perfect” and “an exquisite work from a writer whose reach is galactic.” Allrightee, then.
Saunders makes you feel as though you are reading fiction for the first time. — Khaled Hosseini
The Old Testament and God – Old Testament Origins and the Question of God Craig G. Bartholomew (Baker Academic) $54.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $43.99 DUE OCTOBER 18, 2022
Speaking of a our de force… It is a bit tricky to explain this briefly, but we can say two quick things. Firstly, Dr. Bartholomew is one of the best Biblical scholars around, weaving together his deep understanding of the best way to read and keen insight about how to inhabit the unfolding drama of the Biblical story. The world “worldview” may seem a bit dated in these postmodern times but he is what I sometimes call a worldviewish thinker and writer. He studied with Cal Seerveld at Toronto’s ICS, after all, and now directs the Kirby Laing Centre for Public Theology in Cambridge, England. Secondly, this book, to put it boldly, is going to do in world of the Old Testament studies what N.T. Wright’s magisterial multi-volume set did for the New Testament. You will note the hat tip in Bartholomew’s subtitle to Wright’s “Christian Origins and the Question of God” series.
The Old Testament and God, the first in a four-volume series, examines what we should do with the Old Testament, argues for a “critical realist” approach, situates the Old Testament against the worldviews of the ancient Near East, and explores the character of Yahweh as he comes to us in the Old Testament.
Rave reviews come from the likes of Richard Bauckham, Tremper Longman, Matthew Levering, and Christopher J. H. Wright. Serious Biblical scholars should certainly consider this.
And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle Jon Meacham (Random House) $40.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $32.00 AVAILABLE OCTOBER 18, 2022
Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and historian. He has not done a new book of historical biography in a while and this is the one we’ve been waiting for. The endorsements have been predictably fabulous, insisting this is excellent history and a fine example of what I might call the relevance of good historical story-telling. Relevant, indeed. Listen to this:
In his captivating new book, Jon Meacham has given us the Lincoln for our time. And There Was Light brilliantly interweaves the best of gripping narrative history with a deeper search for the complex interplay among morality, politics, and power in a life, in a democracy, and in an America ripped apart over slavery. Here Meacham takes us to the heart of the president who shaped events at ‘the existential hour.’ In doing so, he fortifies us to meet our own. — Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Biography at its best, the great historian Barbara Tuchman wrote, paints an intimate portrait of an individual which simultaneously provides a sweeping view of history. With this deep, compelling work, Jon Meacham has achieved this gold standard. Written with wisdom and grace, his story of Lincoln’s complex moral journey to Emancipation mirrors America’s long quest to live up to its founding ideals. — Doris Kearns Goodwin
If Dr. Henry “Skip” Gates says it is a biography “for our time” and if Doris Kearns Goodwin says it achieves the “gold standard” for such books, you know it is one you should consider. I know most of us only buy a few books about history any given year and most of us only buy a few on Lincoln. This should be on everyone’s list, I’d think…
Beyond Welcome: Centering Immigrants in Our Christian Response to Immigration Karen Gonzalez (Brazos Press) $18.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19 DUE OCTOBER 18, 2022
We have met Karen and think the world of her. Her previous book on immigration issues was a lovely read, passionate and solid. Kudus to Herald Press for that. Here, in her brand new one, she goes deeper, with even more zeal and understandable passion for making the story of immigrants — stories like her own — more central not only in the telling of the story of American immigration but in our speculation and theologizing about it all. The voices of the immigrant and refugee, the too often marginalized, ought to be more central in our attention and in our imagination and in our hearts.
Naturally, she tells a bunch of stories and she offers what can only be called a fresh Biblical hermeneutic to see how the Biblical stories interlock with those of her community. It’s a lively read, interesting, compelling, important. We just got them in and I’ve already skimmed it, realizing it is so very interesting. What a gem!
I like what it on the back cover:
Many of us have good intentions, working hard to welcome immigrants with hospitality and solidarity. But how can we do that in a way that empowers our immigrant neighbors rather than pushing them to the fringes of white-dominant culture?
Karen González draws from the Bible and her own experiences to examine why the traditional approach to immigration ministries and activism is at best incomplete and at worst harmful. She advocates putting immigrants in the center of the conversation and helps us recognize ourselves in our immigrant neighbors.
Here is the voice of her colleague at World Relief, Matthew Soerens:
Whether you agree with González’s conclusions or not —I usually did, occasionally did not, and in a few cases am still wrestling with what I think, long after reading this poignant book — you will find Beyond Welcome to be challenging, constructive, and helpful. — Matthew Soerens, US director of church mobilization and advocacy, World Relief; coauthor of Welcoming the Stranger
Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals Shane Claiborne & Chris Haw (Zondervan) $24.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99 DUE OCTOBER 21, 2022
One of the grand features of this radically Biblical volume (first published maybe a decade ago) is its extraordinary, full color imagery and hip graphic appeal. Edgy and cool, busy and splashy in a subversive sort of way, this illustrated book calls us to the Biblical images of exile and the words of the prophets, picking up the sort of stuff later spelled out in scholarly detail by the likes of Walsh and Keesmaat (in Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire/Demanding Justice, which Shane endorsed.) Of course, Jesus isn’t exactly running for office these days so we now need to figure what to do; we must improvise our way towards faithful socio-political views and public actions. This book will help and we are glad that the publisher is seeing fit to bring it out anew.
There is nothing like it. Hooray.
Things That Matter Most: Essays on Home, Friendship, and Love Christopher de Vinck (Paraclete Press) $22.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $18.39 DUE OCTOBER 25, 2022 (expected sooner)
Oh my, what a lovely, easy to read, and poignant little book. Some of our readers will love this and will love giving it as an encouraging gift for someone who needs a little “pick me up” with tender substance.
We’ve been fans of Chris de Vinck for years (probably since his stunning book The Power of the Powerless, which was a story about his own handicapped brother) released in the late 1980s. We have collected and read (and tried to sell) his essays and stories. He was, as you may know, a good friend and kindred spirit with the late Henri Nouwen and a very dear pal with Mister Fred Rogers. His most recent previous books included Ashes, a gripping World War II novel based on the experiences of his own relatives with the Nazi concentration camps and the life-long friendships that emerged and an sentimental holiday novel, Mr. Nicholas: A Magical Christmas Tale (with a forward by Joanne Rogers, Fred’s wife.)
This new one has a grand introduction by one of our favorite people in the book industry, Jeff Crosby (formerly a bookstore worker, then a publisher at IVP, and now of the ECPA, and author of his own forthcoming book of reflections, The Language of the Soul: Meeting God in the Longings of Our Hearts. That isn’t due until next May but, yes, you can pre-order it now and we will be put on the waiting list.)
Jeff has long been a fan of de Vinck and has become a friend. His forward to Things That Matter Most: Essays on Home, Friendship, and Love is lovely, to say the least. He notes that it “helps us see with our hearts” which sounds more pious than it is, I think. With essays on fireflies and board games (and more on bugs) and much on the poignancy of human connection and empathy, and a section of pieces on humility, this is just really nice writing about things that matter, even if at first you haven’t pondered them. Like all good art, it nicely illuminates.
I like collections of essays but this is designed with some larger fonts, pull quotes in sidebar boxes, and a touch of whimsy. It isn’t overly demanding or dense. I recommend it highly.
The Passenger: A Novel Cormac McCarthy (Knopf Publishing) $30.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $24.00 DUE OCTOBER 25, 2022
How do we begin to say the importance for serious booksellers of having a new McCarthy novel to sell? He is considered among the very best and it has been — not surprisingly — sixteen years since his last work. The Passenger is the first of a two volume series (the second, Stella Marris, comes in early December which you can also pre-order. There will even, then, be a boxed set of the two.) This novel is, on the surface, about a New Orleans salvage diver who is “haunted by loss, afraid of the watery deep, pursed for a conspiracy beyond his understanding, and longing for a death she cannot reconcile with God.”
McCarthy reigns as a titan of American lit — an undisputed heir to Melville and Faulkner, the subject of infinite grad-school theses, and a hard-nosed dispenser of what Saul Bellow called ‘life-giving and death-dealing’ sentences… It’s the humid, fevered, magniloquent, Bible-cadenced, comma-starved, word-drunk prose of what some fans consider his masterwork, Suttree. There’s a lot here. It might make your head spin… What it all adds up to — perhaps surprisingly — is a doomed and unsettling love story, a Platonic tragedy…. Electric and thunderous… An astonishing pair of novels. Taken together, The Passenger and Stella Maris are an intellectually breathtaking achievement. —Jonathan Miles, Garden & Gun
After sixteen years of characteristic seclusion, McCarthy returns with a one-two punch… The Passenger is an elegiac meditation on guilt, grief, and spirituality. Packed with textbook McCarthy hallmarks, like transgressive behaviors and cascades of ecstatic language, it’s a welcome return from a legend who’s been gone too long. — Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire
Chilling and masterly…. His prose frequently approaches the Shakespearean, ranging from droll humor to the rapid-fire spouting of quotable fecundity. Dialogues click into place like a finely tuned engine. McCarthy has somehow added a new register to his inimitable voice. Long ensconced in the literary firmament, McCarthy further bolsters his claim for the Mount Rushmore of the literary arts. — Booklist
Heart Speak: A Visual Interpretation of Let Your Life Speak Sherrill Knezel in collaboration with Parker Palmer (formatio/IVP) $18.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40 DUE OCTOBER 25, 2022
I can’t wait to see this and I cannot say much about it other than tell you, simply, what it is. It is a colorful and creatively done visual adaptation of the classic book on vocation by Quaker writer Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak. If that book itself was gentle and generous, inviting us to take up a life that matters, listening well to our own hearts, this guides those who need a different approach to this material. There are infographics and calligraphied quotes and colorful hearts, a design style some call “sketch noting.” I’m sure it is going to be very well done, not at all goofy, but not too psychedelic either.
The author, by the way, is a life-long doodler and “sketch noter” and she did a bit of research on the scribbling thing, taking in the brain science and data which she put into an excellent TED talk, telling her stories of the power of all of this, inspired somewhat by the author Mike Rohde. It’s amazing and you can watch it, here. (And you really should. But be sure to come back, since there’s more books to tell you about. Maybe it will remind you of a book I did a long forward to years ago by my friend Lisa Nichols Hickman, Writing in the Margins: Connecting with God on the Pages of Your Bible.)
Here’s what singer-songwriter, activist, and author Carrie Newcomber says about this soon to be released book inspired by Parker Palmer, Heart Speak:
I am charmed, delighted, and deeply touched by Sherrill Knezel’s Heart Speak. The illustrations offer a new and creative dimension to quotes I’ve treasured for many years. Sherrill’s commentary and reflective questions are wonderfully human, tender, thought provoking, and wise. I recommend this book to those who love the work of Parker J. Palmer, but also to anyone who is on the important and curious journey of becoming more fully themself. — Carrie Newcomer, songwriter and author of The Beautiful Not Yet
The White Mosque: A Memoir Sofia Samatar (Catapult) $27.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $21.60 DUE OCTOBER 25, 2022
Every now and then we hear of a book through industry journals or pre-pub newsletters and we are immediately struck by how very interesting a title or author may seem. This is exactly one of these — I’ve not previously heard of this writer, a highly regarded indie author, apparently, (known for fantasy novels) but here she is retracing some of the steps of her own people — Mennonites in the heart of Central Asia.
One article about her started like this: “Sofia Samatar has a way with a sentence.” It goes on to mention her Nebula-and Hugo-nominated stories or novels and says, “her work has a way of pairing the mundane and the sublime with causal aplomb.” So there’s that that catches the eye.
But The White Mosque captured my attention further because the author once boarded at the well-known Mennonite high school near us in Lancaster, PA. Wow. Later, she fell into a rabbit hole, it seems, as she was trying to reshape some of her awareness of a group of German-speaking Mennonites who went to what is now Uzbekistan on a quest that “promised no less than the second coming of Christ.” Huh? Try as she might, she realized this was no novel, and her own journey to the site — lead by what one might call sort of a cult-leader — propelled her to weave together her own memoir into this odd, cross-cultural and inter-religious journey. Ms Samatar is this child of a Black Somali Muslim and a white Mennonite and she became “obsessed with the story.”
As she grew into this life of two cultures she realized that what appeared to be, at first glance, “polar opposites” actually had considerable overlaps, confluences that helped shape how she now sees the world. Born and raised in Goshen, Indiana, she was, as they say, “a third culture kid” but she followed her parents around the globe. (Her father, Said Sheikh Samatar, was a professor of African history in Tanzania, London, Kentucky and Rutgers, NJ. Her scholarly father wanted her, after her high schools years in Lancaster, to apply to Harvard or Yale but, against his wishes, she followed some friends to the quintessentially radical Mennonite college in Goshen, Indiana.)
I am not sure if this memoir covers her formative years, her reading habits (starting with Narnia, I’ve heard) or her marriage to another Mennonite writer, Keith Miller. The two of them did mission work, teaching high school in South Sudan during the Second Sudanese Civil War. With the country under curfew, both of them wrote and wrote — longhand.
This is a nonfiction story but, as she reports in a great article in Publisher’s Weekly, it’s “a nonfiction world that can still feel like a novel.” Writing it was surely transformative and we believe it’s a sleeper of a title that many of our customers will enjoy. I can’t wait. Pre-order it today!
The Inconvenient Gospel: A Southern Prophet Tackles War, Wealth, Race, and Religion Clarence Jordan edited by Frederick Downing (Plough Publishing) $12.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $9.60 DUE OCTOBER 25, 2022
I wonder if you know this terrific series of inexpensive, compact readers of significant Christian voices handsomely published by Plough Publishing? They have made very important contributions to Christian publishing by compiling these remarkable, compact, volumes. There is Love in the Void by Simone Weil, The Scandal of Redemption by Oscar Romero, The Reckless Way of Love by Dorothy Day, That Way and No Other by Amy Carmichael, and, recently, the fabulous Thunder and Soul by Abraham Joshua Heschel. The brand new one, The Inconvenient Gospel compiles the words and sermons and writings of Clarence Jordan, founder of Koinonia Farms in Americus, Georgia, as a “demonstration plot” of what the Kingdom of God might look like.
Beth visited there in the mid-70s and it was very influential, as you might guess. Years earlier they had been machine-gunned for being racially integrated and more than once their crops were burned. (To this day they have a fabulous mail order business of locally grown nuts; they shifted to out-of-state mail order since the locals boycotted them.) There are many stories about Koinonia Farms — Jordan was the preacher who told Millard Fuller to give away his wealth and come back to follow Jesus, which he did, starting up, eventually, a ministry called Habitat for Humanity. Jordan was a great Baptist who paraphrased the New Testament into what he called “The Cotton Patch” version, using colloquial Southern sharecropper lingo (Jesus is put in a peach crate, not a manger, and his best buddy was Rock.) He was known for being as blunt, and as kind, as Jesus.
These messages by Clarence Jordan (like the others in the series) are enduring but of all of them, this is the author whose writings may be the most likely to languish into obscurity. Big kudos to our Bruderhof friends for once again doing an excellent thing in adding the work of this rural Baptist preacher to this very distinguished series. Thoughtful ecological theologian Norman Wirzba calls The Inconvenient Gospel “an essential book.” Order one today.
(Watch this fabulous little documentary video where you can hear is voice and learn about his prophetic Kingdom work in Jim Crow Georgia.)
Care: How People of Faith Can Respond to Our Broken Health System Scott Morris (Eerdmans) $18.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19 DUE OCTOBER 27, 2022
Scott Morris is not as known as he should be, a real hero for those who know his good work in starting Church Health, a faith-based health care center in Memphis which serves the underserved with Christianly offering medical care. He’s been a strong voice for thinking faithfully about medicine and the spirituality of health and he has especially spoken for — and enacted — the need to include the poor and the vulnerable. The small but potent book Dust and Breath: Faith, Health, and Why the Church Should Care about Both by Kendra Hotz & Matthew Mathews tells of his work among the marginalized in Memphis as a case study of what churches can do to serve the health care needs of the poor.
This new book, Care, is just what we need now, and Dr. Morris is a near-perfect author for the job. It is, as the subtitle suggests, less a call to start up Christian health care clinics, but how to push for, as citizens, a more comprehensive health care proposal for our broken health care system, which certainly will include private/public cooperation. I really do not know of any book quite like it.
As it says on the back, Morris draws on his experience as a medical doctor, pastor, and founder and CEO of the nation’s largest charitably funded faith-based health care center. As a United Methodist in the tradition of John Wesley, Morris knows a bit about the wholistic nature of the gospel — as his friend Jim Wallis writes in the moving preface, Wesley’s was a model for that kind of care for body and soul and he believed that special care must be given to the sick. Wesley was an advocate for and practitioner of the healing ministry of the church and that includes advocacy for good health care policy.
There’s lots of stories here, both from the gospels and from contemporary America. With endorsements from the likes of quality writers like Philip Yancey, this book is a winner. I hope health care workers, at least, join together to read it, as good, good things can come from small groups of folks reading dynamite books like this.
Forgive: Why Should I and How Can I? Timothy Keller (Viking) $27.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $21.60 DUE NOVEMBER 1, 2022
Keller is a great communicator who is known for being quite fluent in the culture’s best thinkers and attuned to the conversations going on. He lives in Manhattan and has reached thousands with a wholistic, thoughtful, gracious Reformed worldview. I have a bone to pick with him from time to time but he nonetheless is a hero and model. He’s on that short list of authors who I think I’d read almost anything they wrote. He’s smart and yet not overly academic; he’s Biblically based and gospel-centered but not stuffy. We’ve got some connections with old mutual friends and influences and it has been an honor to sell books on occasion at his church — including one grand night with N.T. Wright, another with Bryan Stevenson, another with John Inazu as he presented (and then talked with Tim) about his then-new book on pluralism. I even got to speak about the vocation of bookselling once at one of his legendary faith and work conferences.
But here, this: along with a recent handful (on suffering, on prayer, particularly) he brings it down home and real personal. I’ve got an advanced copy of this one and I am so struck by how this brilliant theological mind with a disposition to talk about big cultural matters and equip Christians to be salt and light in their respective worlds, is also, truly, a pastor, and can guide ordinary folks into the hard stuff of Christian virtue. Like forgiveness. Wow.
Publisher’s Weekly tried to explain why it would be useful for bookstores to carry by saying it delivers a “thorough and eloquent apologetic for forgiveness” and another review assured us that it “presents a solid defense of Christian forgiveness theology within a modern, relevant context, quoting sources as varied as Augustine, Adele, Kafka, and Clint Eastwood…. Refreshing, accessible work on the basics of forgiveness from a Christian perspective.”
The subtitle tells much: it is both the “why” and the “how.” There are some exceptionally thoughtful but practical checklists and guidelines in several appendices, including on one forgiveness practices and another on achieving reconciliation. 250 good pages.
Liturgies for Hope: Sixty Prayers for the Highs, the Lows, and Everything in Between Audrey Allege & Elizabeth Moore (Waterbrook Press) $20.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00 DUE NOVEMBER 1, 2002
Oh my, there are a lot of books like this coming out these days. Perhaps this wave of great new prayer books is inspired by the two exquisite, leather-bound volumes of Every Moment Holy or the online “Black Liturgies” created by Cole Arthur Riley (author of the stunning memoir This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories That Make Us) or perhaps going back to the 2010 release of the groundbreaking Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals compiled by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Enoma Okra. In any event, we’ve got recent, cool books like Prayers for the People: Things We Didn’t KNow We Could Say to God by Terry Stokes (Convergent Books) and Ordinary Blessings: Prayers, Poems, and Meditations for Everyday Life by Meta Herrick Carlson (Fortress Press) and her Broadleaf one called Ordinary Blessings for Parents: Prayers, Poems, and Meditations for Family Life. Maybe you’ll even recall our BookNotes rave about Cornelius Plantinga’s compact Eerdmans hardback, Morning and Evening Prayers.
Which brings us to Liturgies for Hope which releases in a few weeks. It is extraordinary, thoughtful, theologically substantive, raw; the prayers are long and often heartbreakingly honest and sometimes funny. I’m not sure about the language of “liturgies” these days since these are singular voice prayers, but they are solid and moving. The foreword is by Jon Tyson, pastor of Church of the City in New York, a guy I respect quite a bit. One of the authors works with the church and has received the Academy of American Poets Prize, among other awards. The other works in the publishing industry and serves the church on their creative team.
There are amazing prayers here — good words for those complete in injustice, prayers for creativity, laments about public health, cries for those who are anguished by simply being alone, or by being too busy. There are prayers of mystery, prayers of wonder, prayers of confession, prayers of joy, prayers of hope. And more. As good readers (and writers) Rich Villodas and Christie Purifoy say, below, this is a truly valuable resource. You should pre-order it today.
As someone who has spent many hours praying, here’s what I’ve come to realize: it’s still very hard to do. One of the best gifts that has helped me develop my life with God is the prayers and liturgies of others. I often need the words of others to help me form my own words. This is what Audrey Elledge and Elizabeth Moore do for us in this needed book. They offer beautiful words to help us access the longings of our souls and bring them to God. If you’re looking for a jumpstart to your spiritual life, start here. — Rich Villodas, lead pastor of New Life Fellowship and author of Good and Beautiful and Kind
This is a marvelous book. I am not surprised it emerged from one of the urban epicenters of our global pandemic — of course this fierce hope would grow in such a place and such a season. Audrey Elledge and Elizabeth Moore weave rich Scriptural imagery into powerful, prayerful poetry covering topics that are at once universal but also timely in their particularity. The liturgical pronouns shift between we, you, and I in a way that is spacious and welcoming. Best of all, this book compelled even this solitary reader to reach out to her friends; these are liturgies that simply must be prayed in the company of others. — Christie Purifoy, author of Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace
Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story Bono (Knopf Publishing) $34.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $27.20 DUE NOVEMBER 1, 2022
I hardly have to say who Bono is (do I?) or even explain how much the powerful, often groundbreaking, music of U2 has meant to us over the years. From their earliest records (which we stocked before most knew who they were) to their most recent work, and all the colorful zeal of their fearless leader, we have been very big fans. Knowing how his faith continued to seep out, sometimes behind the scenes, sometimes between the lines, but, often, directly, up front, out loud, Bono remains one of the most interesting followers of Jesus of our era.
I hope in this forthcoming memoir he describes his friendship with Eugene Peterson (who didn’t even take his call the first time Bono called him, since Peterson had no idea who he was!) and the beautiful video he and Peterson made, visiting together in Montana about the Psalms.
Whether that small episode in Bono’s influential life appears or not, this is a book I know many of our customers will want to read. Others, I am sure, will want to give it as a Christmas gift. It’s on my list!
Biblical Critical Theory: How the Bible’s Unfolding Story Makes Sense of Modern Life and Culture Christopher Watkin (Zondervan Academic) $39.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $31.99 DUE NOVEMBER 1, 2022
This is another that I am awaiting my own advanced copy, which may not come, so I’m just guessing here. But I’m excited and think this may be one of the great tools for thinking about God’s story and how it engages the human story of cultures unfolding and our role in it all. Watkin is a sharp guy — there is no doubt about that — and he is trying to center the Biblical vision of Christ’s Kingdom allowing us all to be “in but not of” the world in which we find ourselves. I think this is going to be great. In fact, Dan Strange (Plugged In and Making Faith Magnetic) calls it “absolutely essential reading” and Natasha Moore of the Centre for Public Christianity calls it “urgent and a tremendously exciting read.”
For what it is worth, Watkin has published conservative critiques of Foucault and of Derrida. He wrote a very stimulating and under-appreciated volume on how Genesis 1 and 2 are, for lack of a better phrase, “tools of cultural critique.” He argues that we need not get consumed by debates about Darwin and dinosaurs and the length of days or the Earth, but, rather, should pick up from our primal origin story, classic doctrines of the Trinity and the substantive importance of creation itself. As was said about that book, Thinking Through Creation,
These foundational, biblical truths of the Trinity and creation are among the richest sources of insights and tools for robust and sensitive engagement with contemporary culture. With diagrams and clear explanations both of the Bible and our contemporary world, Christopher Watkin reclaims the Trinity and creation from their cultural despisers and shows how these foundational doctrines speak into, question, and reorient some of the most important debates in today’s society.
And so, we now have this major volume coming out and we are excited to alert you to it. Here is how the publisher describes it:
In Biblical Critical Theory, Christopher Watkin draws a winsome vision for biblical cultural engagement in which faithfulness to Scripture and sensitivity to culture walk hand in hand. If Christians want to speak with a fresh, engaging and constructive voice within our culture, we need to press deeper into the core truths of the Bible.
Listen to this:
A book that I have been eagerly anticipating for years. … My prayers are that this book will bear much intellectual and spiritual fruit in many lives over the decades ahead. — Timothy Keller, founding pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian, New York
An important update of Augustine’s City of God, a proposal for making biblical sense of what is happening in contemporary culture. — Kevin Vanhoozer, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, The Pastor as Public Theologian: Reclaiming a Lost Vision
Christopher Watkin’s expert, timely compendium of Christian Scripture’s subversive engagement of dominating themes of our modern age brings welcome healing to our world. — Esther Lightcap Meek, author of Longing to Know: The Philosophy of Knowledge for Ordinary People
Unruly Saint: Dorothy Day’s Radical Vision and Its Challenge for Our Times D. L. Mayfield (Broadleaf) $26.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59 DUE NOVEMBER 8, 2022
This sits even now on my bedside and my frustratingly hectic pace of life these past few weeks (and a stack of other important volumes) has kept me from diving in as a wanted to. But any day now this will become one of my favorite books of the year, I am sure.
Those who know much about Dorothy and those who do not, I think, will be excellently served by this one-of-a-kind book. Mayfield is an edgy sort of post evangelical, I gather, and this puts her among the very best fans of The Catholic Worker, the newspaper and movement. Jim Wallis, Lisa Sharon Harper, David Dark, Shane Claiborne and any number of non-Roman Catholic activists have drawn inspiration from Day’s radical lifestyle, her service of the poor no matter what, and her faithfulness to the church, despite all. My own journey has been crisscrossed by a number of CW folk and I must say that the extraordinary biography Dorothy Day: Dissenting Voice of the American Century by John Loughery and Randolph Blythe remains one of my all time favorite books. As I heard that DL was doing this one, I prayed that she knew Loughery and Blythe’s work and indeed she does. The footnotes are just fascinating and excellent. This author of Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith has now given us a perfect follow up to that fabulous memoir.
Unruly Saint is written by a very good writer and a good thinker, a woman who, like Dorothy, it seems, is seeking some new way to be faithful to God, to inhabit the Christian tradition well, to serve and love others. In this sense the book is almost a memoir, a story of Mayfield’s own encounter with Day. Although she seems very knowledgeable she says it is not, technically, a biography. It is Dorothy’s challenge to us, illustrated keenly as DL herself grappled with the woman and her books and her legacy.
One of Dorothy’s friends was Robert Ellsberg, now editor at Orbis Books. He has a forward in Unruly (quite an honor) and he says that Dorothy would have liked DL and would have liked the book. He quotes, as I had hoped, that great line at the end of The Long Loneliness, “It happened as we sat there talking and it is still going on.” He continues, “In her encounter with Dorothy, D.L. Mayfield has caught that spark. And in this book she passes it on.”
There are bunches of great endorsements of this, but that one is all we need. If Ellsworth says it is one to read, then trust that. Pre-order it today and we’ll send it out a bit early.
The Heart in Pilgrimage: A Treasury of Classic Devotionals on the Christian Life Leland Ryken (Crossway) $34.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $27.99 DUE NOVEMBER 8, 2022
I have not laid eyes on this at all but the name alone — esteemed literary professor, Leland Ryken — gives you a hint that this will be a rich, classic, warm (if heady) collection, nicely made by Crossway (even with a ribbon marker.) It’s going to make a fabulous gift for those who don’t mind the older cadences and rhetoric of classic devotional literature.
Since I cannot say much, here are those who can, and do:
Having already opened the eyes of the body of Christ to its treasury of devotional poetry in The Soul in Paraphrase, Leland Ryken now widens our vision to take in the depth and breadth of two millennia of devotional prose. Running the gamut from the giants of the genre (Augustine, John Donne, Jonathan Edwards, Martin Luther, Brother Lawrence, Blaise Pascal, Julian of Norwich, Bernard of Clairvaux) to writers we do not usually identify with devotional writing (Florence Nightingale, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, George MacDonald, Jane Austen, George Washington Carver), The Heart in Pilgrimage conducts its readers on a spiritual journey that is well worth taking. — Louis Markos, Professor in English, Houston Baptist University; author The Myth Made Fact: Reading Greek and Roman Mythology through Christian Eyes
Whenever I am asked to recommend a volume that combines literary study with sound Christian teaching, I recommend Leland Ryken. His new collection of rich devotional literature will move to the top of my list of recommended works. The Heart in Pilgrimage is a treasury of wisdom and beauty to which readers will return again and again.” — Karen Swallow Prior, On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books
Like cool water to a parched throat, Leland Ryken has produced a soul-quenching gift with this collection of devotionals. Filled with beautiful writing devoted to an even more beautiful subject, The Heart in Pilgrimage delivers the truths of the Christian faith through masterful expression, promising to awaken fresh affections for the Lord among believers of every stripe. — Collin Huber, Senior Editor, Fathom Magazine
Christianity and Critical Race Theory: A Faithful and Constructive Conversation Robert Chao Romero & Jeff Liou (Baker Academic) $23.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $19.19 DELAYED – NOW DUE APRIL 2023
We have been waiting for a solid book like this with sympathies for racial justice activism and a knowing awareness that the Bible is clear about being, in a righteous way, woke. We must wake up to social injustices and imagine the new thing God is doing, calling out systemic injustices and helping us all grapple with where we are in this moment of history.
Naturally, some who have posited theories about the nature of the real world as we know it — as in the hard sciences, say — are atheistic, and of those, some are nonetheless congenial to Christian values and some are hostile. Some who are mostly right carry some odd baggage. It is, as they say, a mixed bag.
And so, in our efforts to be faithful Christian thinkers about the ideas that are in the air around us, we must “take every thought captive” and grapple wisely with the claims and the critique of every school of thought and every lively ideology. Things such as CRT.
Sadly, this particular school of thought has been bandied about with whole books against it, ill-informed preachers and writers throwing the baby out with the bath water, and, worse, getting on right-wing radio shows and firing up the crowds to get them to despise this “CRT” even as they hardly know what it is. Some pseudo-scholars have weighed in louder than they should have and even good friends have broken fellowship over their opinions of these second and third level authors. This forthcoming one is going to be wise and solid, I’m sure.
This book, I believe, will go to the primary sources, suss out what shapes them and how they have been influential. It will not suffer fools but it will not be partisan or ideological, either. As the publisher calmly puts it, “Their aim is to offer analysis and critique that go beyond the debates about social identity and the culture wars and aid those who are engaging the issues in Christian life and ministry. Reflection/discussion questions, exercises, a glossary of key CRT terms, and suggested readings make the book helpful for students or small groups.”
Here is the fascinating arrangement of the book. Notice this:
- 1. Creation: Community Cultural Wealth and the Glory and Honor of the Nations
- 2. Fall: Sin and Racism–the Ordinary Businesses of Society
- 3. Redemption: CRT in Institutions
- 4. Consummation: The Beloved Community
I cannot wait to get my hands on this. You, too? Pre-order it now and we will send it the moment it comes in — a bit early, we suspect.
Tolkien Dogmatics: Theology Through Mythology with the Maker of Middle-Earth Austin Freeman (Lexham) $26.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59 DUE NOVEMBER 16, 2022
We’re very excited about this, seeing how a Protestant (with a PhD from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and now teaching at Houston Baptist, no less) creates what some will no doubt consider to be the standard text on the theology of JRR Tolkien. Allow me to just crib from the publishers info — it so fascinating us and want to highlight it here:
J. R. R. Tolkien was many things: English Catholic, father and husband, survivor of two world wars, Oxford professor, and author. But he was also a theologian. Tolkien’s writings exhibit a coherent theology of God and his works, but Tolkien did not present his views with systematic arguments. Rather, he expressed theology through story.
In Tolkien Dogmatics, Austin M. Freeman inspects Tolkien’s entire corpus — The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and beyond — as a window into his theology. In his stories, lectures, and letters, Tolkien creatively and carefully engaged with his Christian faith. Tolkien Dogmatics is a comprehensive manual of Tolkien’s theological thought arranged in traditional systematic theology categories, with sections on God, revelation, creation, evil, Christ and salvation, the church, and last things. Through Tolkien’s imagination, we reencounter our faith.
By the way, did you know that although there are maybe a zillion or so books about Tolkien’s pal C.S. Lewis, I only know one book that literally explores and systematizes Lewis’s theological ideas? That is the brilliant little volume called Deeper Magic: The Theology Behind the Writings of C.S. Lewis by the lively Donald T. Williams, published by Square Halo Books. And, by the way, you should know their two exceptionally interesting books, C.S. Lewis and the Arts: Creativity in the Shadowlands and J.R.R. Tolkien and the Arts: A Theology of Subcreation. So much goodness!
Poetry Unbound: 50 Poems to Open Your World Pádraig Ó Tuama (W. W. Norton & Company) $27.95 OUR SALE PRICE = $22.36 DUE DECEMBER 6, 2022
I hope you know the world-famous Irish poet, Pádraig Ó Tuama. His extraordinary, lovely book published by Broadleaf takes the name of his website, In the Shelter. He is interested there in questions of violence and exclusion, hospitality and home, shelter and redemption. In recent years he has become known for more than his peacemaking work in Northern Ireland (see his Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community or the moving Between the Bells: Stories of Reconciliation from Corrymeela) and is increasingly recognized as a poet of considerable skill and wide appeal. You may have heard him on NPR as he hosted the On Being poetry podcast called “Poetry Unbound.” It is from that project that he gets the title of this brand new volume.
This book is a collection of fifty poems (mostly by contemporary poets, such as, say, Ada Lemon or Ilya Kaminsky or Margaret Atwood) and he then offers pages and pages of wonderfully touching and observant reflection. He is not only a splendid curator of poems, he is a teacher, a guide, and a spiritual director. It is extraordinary.
Poetry Unbound is fifty poems and 300 pages of commentary revealing and confessing why a line of verse might make you weep. But more than that, it is a collection of moments and meditations and a turning toward the ways that some memories, of sorrow and joy, might make us hold on a little while longer, long enough in fact.– Reginald Dwayne Betts, author of Felon
Mesmerizing, magical, deeply moving…. If you are looking for a read that will warm your heart, inspire your creative mind, and renew your faith in the resilience of the human race, look no further. — Elif Shafak, author of The Island of Missing Trees
Learning Humility: A Year of Searching for a Vanishing Virtue Richard J. Foster (IVP) $25.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $20.00 DUE DECEMBER 6, 2022 (expected sooner.)
I have not seen this yet but it is nearly a publishing event when the great Richard Foster releases a new book. His Celebration of Discipline continues to sell decades since its release date and this joyous, exceptionally well-read, and helpful Quaker — who knows the Catholic monastic tradition better than most Catholics — has given us many rich and lasting books. This one is culturally urgent and is curious — it is arranged by the sessions of the Lakota seasons.
These two quotes by two respected companions and friends explain the book wonderfully. Please read:
Humility is an essential and highly nuanced topic for us Christians; there are such fine lines to be found–between humility and humiliation, self-regard and self-promotion, healthy self-esteem and the sin of pride. Foster finds the line and walks it beautifully. The idea that we do not try to attain humility directly but we ‘come at the matter indirectly. We simply take up those things that, in God’s time and in God’s way, will lead us into the virtue of humility’ is tremendously hopeful. It is worth the price of the book. — Ruth Haley Barton, founder of the Transforming Center and author of Sacred Rhythms
Destined to be another classic from Richard J. Foster, Learning Humility is a gift from a gifted writer. In this book we get to walk with Richard not only on the trails of Colorado but also on the terrain of the soul. Richard is a true scribe of the kingdom who brings forth treasures old and new (Matthew 13:52). The breadth and depth of the wisdom bearers he quotes is immense, from Peter and Paul, to Evagrius and Julian, to Chief Joseph and Underhill, to Kelly and Law, and to Murray and contemporary writers. Framed by the thirteen months and moons of the Lakota and filled with liturgies and litanies, this book ignited in me a hunger for humility in my own life. This is one of Richard’s signature gifts: he makes us long for difficult things by helping us see that virtues, like humility, are the pearl of great price, worth giving all we have to obtain it. This book is an engaging and insightful gem, and I am the better for having read it. –James Bryan Smith, author of The Good and Beautiful God
This is a major volume on a simple subject. Oh my. Order it now.
Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious: Reframed and Expanded David Dark (Broadleaf Books) $18.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19 DUE DECEMBER 13, 2022
Coming a few weeks before Christmas, this newly imagined, significantly edited, “reframed and expanded” edition of a great contemporary classic is sure to be a great read for many (and a great gift as well.) I did a pretty lengthy review of the first edition back five or six years ago. What a joy to see it is being reissued, soon.
Here’s the gist: David is convinced, rightly so, that everyone is religious. No one is, as they say, neutral. Or to shift the image a bit, everyone lives within a story. Everyone is coming from somewhere. Helping people realize the urgency of this human task of being honest about what drives or inspires us is a great gift and with Dark’s characteristic fluency in the popular arts and Americana literature and great religious thinkers, he can appeal to a very wide swath of good folk. His imagined reader — at least for the first edition — was perhaps the somewhat culturally hip and socially aware “spiritual but not religious” or maybe the proverbial “none.” As in “none of the above.” But, of course, life is too short for any of that. “Come on, I’m talking to you” as the Tears for Fears song went. Come on!
David is fiesty and gentle, kind and blunt. He loves the poetic nay-saying of Daniel Berrigan and the bold prophetic clarity of Southern Baptists like Will Campbell and Clarence Jordan. He loves The Simpsons and early on wrote about Radiohead and U2. These days he’s a bit of a twitter sensation, a righteous gadfly and minor pain in the backside to those who do not love their neighbors well, especially if they are celebrities who might do otherwise. He’s a lovely man, a strong thinker, and a vivid communicator. This book is all that.
Here is what the publisher suggests is in store in this updated edition:
“With the same keen powers of cultural observation, candor, and wit his readers have come to know and love, Dark weaves in current themes around the pandemic and vaccine responses, Black Lives Matter, the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements, Critical Race Theory, and more. By looking intentionally at our weird religious background (we all have one), he helps us acknowledge the content of our everyday existence–the good, the bad, and the glaringly inconsistent. When we make peace with the idea of being religious, we can more practically envision an undivided life.”
For those of us who claim to be religious and those of us who religiously deny such labels, Dark grants us the gift and burden to think deeply about the imagination, scaffolding, and consequences of our religiosity. In reading his journey and cautions, my sense of personal accountability and religious identity were expanded. Such is a book that reads the reader and if we stick with it we gain insight into self and neighbor. — Christina Edmondson, scholar activist and host of Truth’s Table podcast, author of Faithful Antiracism.
David Dark is one of our most astute and necessary cultural critics. His work gracefully opens new doors of understanding and breaks down barriers between secular and non-, and it puts a lot of old mythology out to pasture with a daring affirmation at the heart of his radical critique. Life’s Too Short refreshingly ropes everyone in, insisting that we’re all in it together. We forget that. — Jessica Hopper, author of The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic
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