15 recent releases reviewed – BookNotes specials – ON SALE NOW – Hearts & Minds

With the tragic news in the world of the Middle East I was tempted to share books about that extraordinary, pained part of the world. We have books on the remarkable history of Israel, the pros and cons of Christian Zionism, about the daily grind of vile repression — more horrible than most realize — experienced by the Palestinians. Demands for justice for Palestinian civilians living in Gaza does not for one second in any way indicate support for the evil done by Hamas soldiers. Of course, not everyone living in Gaza supports such terrorism. (Interestingly, we just got in the new Orbis Press book by Mitri Raheb, one of the best known Christian theologians in Bethlehem, Palestine, and, not long ago, the fabulous book Blood Brothers by Palestinian Christian peacemaker Elias Chacour, was given a new cover and reissued. There are, of course, a lot of Arab Christians living alongside their Muslim neighbors.)

I also considered sending out a list of books about the ethics of modern warfare, the Biblical basis for nonviolence, the pros-and-cons of the just war theory. Certainly, that scholarly apparatus has formed the basis of most Christian thinking about war, insisting that the ends do not justify the means, that diplomacy is ever vital, and that military might must be restrained and constrained. Israel, now, must hear — but under current leadership will not, I am afraid — that their violence must be restrained; war should not be waged for revenge. Christians, of all people, should be clear about that. Those who understandably want to stand with Israel after the recent horrific savagery against civilians should serve them well by insisting they not stoop to the awful methods of their enemies. Anyway, we have books on all of that.

If you have a sincere desire to read more about the conflicts of colonized Palestine or the ethics of warfare, say, please write to me and we’ll see what suggestions might serve you best. I realize there are tons of columns and essays and articles on the internet now and I don’t want to add to the noise.

Here, then, are ten fairly recent books that I explain with my typical wordiness, and five more that I say a bit less about. These are all to be commended, good, good work that will help shape us as decent, Biblical people in a complicated world. Read on — scroll down to order, all at 20% off. Thanks for caring and for your support of our independent bookstore.


Just Discipleship: Biblical Justice in an Unjust World Michael J. Rhodes (IVP Academic) $32.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $25.60

There are many, many books that have come out in the last two decades (thanks be to God, finally) from evangelical publishers speaking clearly about the Biblical basis of the work of social justice and how such wholistic resistance to the forces of evil should be a natural part of our discipleship, central to our spiritual formation, integral to the proclamation of the gospel. Those backlash books saying such talk is worldly or leftist or worse are mostly awful and we don’t need to even talk about all that. The Bible is so very clear and Biblically-inspired justice work is part and parcel of the Christian life. We’ve said that and tried to offer resources on that since the day we’ve opened.

Just Discipleship: Biblical Justice in an Unjust World by Michael Rhodes (a lecturer in Old Testament at Carey Baptist College) is prime among the many good resources that have come out lately and may be the best, most thorough, most illuminating call to this wholistic understanding of the gospel I’ve seen in years. It explores what justice is in the Bible and it probes about how to be faithful to the mandates of Scripture in our very broken world. It is what M. Daniel Carroll says is “a clarion call.” Other blurbs on the back are from reliable thinkers such as the great Carmen Imes of Biola University and Malcolm Foley (director of Black church studies at Truett Seminary.) The famous Pauline scholar John Barclay of Durham says it is “a timely challenge to the church to become just people in a deeply unjust world.” Amen! This book is a solid, Biblical guide and at just under 300 pages, seriously amazing. We very highly recommend it.

Creation Care Discipleship: Why Earthkeeping Is An Essential Christian Practice Steven Bouma-Prediger (Baker Academic) $25.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $20.79

Like books on social justice (see above) there have been plenty, lately, of fine books about eco-theology, Earth-keeping, Christian stewardship of creation and such. Some are quite focused on the Bible while some are faith-based but pretty scientific and ecological; to be honest, some are fascinating but nearly theologically suspect, promoting a new age sort of pantheism. With the climate emergency becoming more obvious, books keep coming out and we are grateful.

No one has written more passionately, expertly, generatively, and faithfully than professor of Reformed theology (at Hope College) and adventuresome outdoorsman Steven Bouma-Prediger. His For the Beautify of the Earth (first released in 2001) remains, in its updated second edition, a must-read classic in the field; his book on ecological virtues called Earthkeeping and Character is truly exceptional and a real favorite — again, a must-have book, I’d say. He has amplified the work of Lutheran scholar Paul Santmire and, with Brian Walsh, recently had re-issued an anniversary edition of the exceptional Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement. Bouma-Prediger’s work should be more widely known and when I heard he had a new volume coming out on why creation-care should be a natural, integrated component of our discipleship, I was excited. I’d read anything Bouma-Prediger writes (especially knowing that, with luck, there would also be a quote from singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn among the pages.) He’s that good.

But, I’ll admit, I wondered what else more he had to say, having said so very much of such great value already. Was this just going to be a dumbed-down re-hash of his earlier, major volumes. I’d take that, of course, but was curious and eager to see what his new one would be like.

And, wow, was I happy to see how lovely and good this new one is.  Creation Care Discipleship may be now my favorite book on the subject, certainly “a decisive case that creation care is necessary, not optional, to faithful Christian practice.” There is fresh thinking, great stories, and tons of Biblical vignettes with insightful, even profound take-aways.  With rave, rave reviews on the back from the likes of Norman Wirzba, Debra Rienstra, Ben Lowe, Jonathan Moo, and others — including his mentor H. Paul Santmire — Creation Care Discipleship is a masterpiece, readable, upbeat, Biblical, practical. I adored this book, liking so many of the details (not least of which is that it is dedicated to staff at a camp that he loves, set in the heart of the Adirondacks.)

I was twenty-one years old when I read my first Bouma-Prediger book. From that moment on, my life has been a sequence of events reverberating from reading this brilliant thinker. This book will have the same effect on a whole new generation. I can’t commend it enough. — A. J. Swoboda, author of After Doubt

On the Road with Saint Augustine: A Real-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts James K.A. Smith (Brazos Press) $19.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

When Jamie was at the height of his popular fame, running on the slipstream from You Are What You Love (and the three more meaty books that You Are What You Love summarizes, Desiring the Kingdom, Imagining the Kingdom, and Awaiting the King) this book came out in hardcover and was in almost all circles immediately praised. It was at once an honest travelogue, a nearly postmodern account of angst and searching, an introduction to the life of Augustine, a reminder that faith influences daily life, and an invitation (especially for younger adults) to be shaped by some of the deepest instincts of the “patron saint of the restless heart” as Augustine has been dubbed. Of course older adults read it, too, more older than younger, I suspect, and I announced it as one of my very favorite books in 2019. I am sure I re-said it in 2020 and put it on our “Best of the Year” books of that year again. I’d have done it yet again if I could have gotten it by you. Ha.

This is an engrossing volume on a mid-life crisis where Smith and his wife literally go to Italy and follow the footsteps of the quintessential restless pilgrim. The Northern African young dude wanted fame and fortune and it didn’t work out. Jamie’s book is less a systematic study of St. Augustine and more a guide to living, how to ask questions as he did, to follow one’s quest, to make room, finally, for God. As Bob Crawford (of the Avett Brothers) put it, “This book is Smith’s Born to Run.

It is now out in paperback (and, thankfully, the full color plates of the artworks seen on their trip are still there, in lovely full color.) We are grateful for this less costly volume, and we cannot be happier than to once again suggest it to our BookNotes readers. It really is one for those of us who find ourselves in this orbit of books often recommended by Hearts & Minds. (I mean, even just this: where else do you find a book with a blurb on the back by one of the most prominent philosophers of our time, Charles Taylor and the roots rocker from the Avetts?)  Restless or not, how cool is that?

You will hear more about this long-awaited, brand new paperback edition, I hope. It is a tour of the human heart, a search for down-to-Earth spirituality, a deeply faithful study of one of the most important figures in Western history. It is one of the grand releases in this year of 2023. Why not buy a few for your group or friends?

The Augustine Way: Retrieving a Vision for The Church’s Apologetic Witness Joshua D. Chatraw & Mark D. Allen (Baker Academic) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

Perhaps you will recall that I mentioned this one a month or so ago; I really feel like it needs to be highlighted again, especially in light of Smith’s Augustine book coming out in paperback. Who was this Saint Gus, anyway? There are numerous scholars who have rave blurbs on this one, serious, good thinkers, from Kristen Deede Johnson to Curtis Chang to Rowan Williams to Sarah Coakley to Keith Plummer. It is a book that is not just for academics, but is meaty enough to stimulate almost any good reader. As the ecumenical accolades indicate, it is both deep and wide, both savvy about contemporary culture and deeply committed to the local congregation. It shows much about Augustine and retrieves his early church vision and approach for twenty-first century faith.

This glorious hardback book is essentially a thought experiment: what would Augustine likely say or do as a pastor today; how would he articulate and defend the faith? As Alister McGrath puts it, “This ‘apologetics of retrieval’ opens up some theologically rich and apologetically compelling approaches.” That’s putting it carefully. I’d say it’s a heck of a read, lighting a fire to connect ancient dots to today! Yes!

I love how Justin Ariel Bailey (who wrote Reimagining Apologetics: The Beauty of Faith in a Secular Age notes that Chatraw and Allen “calls us to recenter the local congregation and to renew the polluted cultural ecosystems where we live.” He explains how it offers not merely a sophisticated plan to control a conversation (or win an argument) but offers,

A more excellent way: a non anxious posture of persuasion that is critical and contrastive, intellectual and imaginative, humble and hopeful.

Called Into Questions: Cultivating the Love of Learning Within the Life of Faith Matthew Lee Anderson (Moody Press) $15.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $12.79

For those who aren’t quite up for the “back for the future” approach of the above retrieval of Augustine project (above) this easier to read, upbeat book could be just what you need. Anderson is a researcher and professor in Baylor University’s Honors College and is one smart guy (he holds a DPhil in Christian Ethics from Oxford University.) But still, he’s down-to-Earth, youngish and upbeat; he even hosts a fun podcast (Mere Fidelity.) His earlier book was a lovely little guide for college students, say, or others, who wanted to explore faith with intellectual curiosity which we have called The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith.

This new one is an expanded and updated version of that smaller one, and it is an excellent call to think well, to ask good questions, to appreciate creativity and curiosity, and to have the courage to follow through one’s seeking.

He explores “the anatomy of a questioning life” suggesting that healthy questions (and seeking for reasonable answers) is not the same thing as a destructive sort of deconstruction. It ought not be seen as troubling, but should build a playful sort of confidence in Christ.

We will not be free of doubt’s shadow, he says, until we see God face-to-face. “Faith gives us confidence in Christ; it empowers us to live and die based on God’s goodness despite our struggle to see or understand it.”

Makes sense, huh? For Anderson, questioning can be liberating, but we must approach our curiosity and doubt in a redemptive way. Very nicely done.

Centering Jesus: How the Lamb of God Transforms Our Communities, Ethics, and Spiritual Lives Derek Vreeland (NavPress) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

Every now and then a book comes along that is basic, simple, clear, but yet upon greater attention, it reveals just how exceptional it is. Such a book rocks your world, or, maybe, says everything so well that you may well have long believed, but you see your old assumptions in fresh energy. It’s the kind of book you want to pass out at church or within your fellowship circles and say this. This. This is what I mean.

I resonate so with Derek Vreeland’s new book and it may be because it is bold enough to say what need to be said, a common sense thing, but radical: Jesus should be at the heart of our faith, our lives, our discipleship, our churches, our evangelism and our disciple-making. “When we lose our focus on Jesus,” he insists, properly, “the church’s credibility suffers.”

We wonder how to proceed with all the hostility brewing in our world? He says we need a renewed vision of Jesus as the Lamb of God who can lead us into the peaceable way of the Kingdom of God.

As it says on the back cover,

When we fail to keep Jesus at the center of our lives, we lean into the desires of our hearts more than the desires God has for us. As a result, our entire spirituality becomes driven by the self.

Centering Jesus shows us how to keep the focus on Jesus in three central areas of our lives — our spiritual formation, our morality (by which he means our virtues and ways of living) and our common life together within the local church.

From the prelude citing Johnny Cash to the final grand quote from Saint Augustine, Vreeland gets around. He draws in Jamie Smith and Miroslov Volf, he is fluent in Orthodoxy (and the formational traditions of the Jesus Prayer, citing Frederica Mathewes-Green and Kallistos Ware.) He knows much about Desmond Tutu and John Perkins and he quotes Dallas Willard and Michael Gorman and of course, N.T. Wright.

You may not know his previous book with the somewhat cryptic BTW as the title, which stands for By the Way which is actually a very strong book on evolving and deepening spirituality that shapes our daily discipleship. The subtitle of that often missed one is Getting Serious About Following Jesus which includes a lovely bit of teaching about what we might call liturgical prayer. That one pretty obviously led to this new one, Centering Jesus. In light of our current politics awash in religious fundamentalism and right-wing nationalism, I think focusing on the Lamb of God (that is, not a donkey or an elephant, as he whimsically notes) is just what is needed. Highly recommended.

Listening to Scripture: An Introduction to Interpreting the Bible Craig G. Bartholomew (Baker Academic) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

I could go on and on about the many books done by the creative and prolific Dr. Craig Bartholomew; he has published book of Christian philosophy, cultural studies, explored the relevance of the reformational worldview thinking of what has come to be called the neo-Calvinist or Kuyperian movement. He has been a farmer and a scholar, a public intellectual and (perhaps) a preacher. He is currently the director of the Kirby Laing Centre for Public Theology in Cambridge and is perhaps most known for his astute, creative, fruitful Old Testament scholarship. From small books (like The 30-Minute Bible) to more hefty ones, introductory guides to technical commentaries he is — trust me on this — one of the great scholars in Old Testament work today. (Just a month ago, for instance, he co-authored a major work on IVP Academic called The Minor Prophets: A Theological Introduction [IVP; $45.00.])

This recent book, Listening to Scripture, is plenty meaty, ideal for a college course or serious adult ed class. It is, actually, a brand new work, not an abridged, popularization of his more scholarly work on hermeneutics, even if it emerges from that valuable work. I love the way he can cite technical scholars from across the theological traditions and yet offer reflective study questions that are more akin to devotional lectio divina sorts of prompts. He can talk about Newbigin’s missional theories or the need to use the Psalms of lament around issues of injustice even as he invites us deep into the story, using our imaginations to meet the God behind the text, and hear the Spirit from the text. This is thoughtful and pious, creative and useful. I can’t tell you now much I hope it is used in church groups and for Bible study leaders all over.

Here a few who agree that this is a book worth having:

Like Aaron Copeland in his classic What To Listen for in Music, Bartholomew helps readers of the Bible to know what to listen for in Scripture and how to do so with attention and intelligence, in spirit and in truth. He uses both ears, the academic and the devotional, and three hermeneutics (liturgical, ethical, and missional) to listen especially to what is most important: God’s address, words that guide and govern the church today. — Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Listening to Scripture is remarkably expansive and accessible in its vision and applicability as it guides Christians through an integrative journey of personal devotions, academic study, preaching and teaching, and missional outreach. It is the integrative vision that I have been hungering for and that my students and fellow congregants so desperately need. — Megan C. Roberts, Prairie College

No one has taught me more about reading Scripture seriously as both an academic and a committed Christian than Bartholomew. While I –and you— may not agree with all of his methods or conclusions, this book is without a doubt an excellent primer for hearing the voice of our triune God in the text of Holy Scripture.  — Matthew Y. Emerson, Oklahoma Baptist University

Loving Disagreement: Fighting for Community Through the Fruit of the Spirit Kathy Khang & Matt Mikalatos (NavPress) $16.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59

Every now and then a book comes out that I can genuinely say (a) I didn’t see that coming, and (b) I don’t think anybody did: there is no other book like this, and (d) hooray and thanks be to God — we really need this! I might even add, why didn’t anybody think of this sooner?

I’ll tell you why — it takes these two wild, funny, outspoken, good writers to do a book like this, for starters. Khang has written a power book called Raise Your Voice very much about how to make a difference by speaking up, and is known as a mighty voice herself for racial and social justice and Matt has, as screenwriter, novelist, Biblical scholar, and creative devotional writer, has made me laugh more than most evangelical authors. They both know a bit about conflict, about how to work with a diversity of folks (Kathy has long lead multiethnic ministry and has published on being an Asian American woman leader) and — get this -about the power of the Holy Spirit to bring virtues and graces into our lives that actually allow us to be peacemakers in a very rough world.

Who would have thought that a story on the “fruit of the Spirit” (and there are only a few really good ones on that theme) could be harnessed to the realities of forming community where disagreement and conflict will occur? Where it must be asked, “What does it look like to love someone you disagree with?”

Whether it is contention within the local church or disagreements in the broader culture — and the sins of commission and omission that plague our speaking poorly or not speaking at all — this book will bring “unique insights into how the fruit of the Spirit informs our ability to engage in profound difference and conflict with love.”

The cover is so striking, you should have the book laying around — buy a few because friends are going to pick it up and wonder about it. Loving Disagreement is a treasure-trove; I’ve just begun to read it and I’m sure that good things will emerge into our lives when we follow the principles taught and modeled and celebrated in this feisty book. There is gentle strength to be found, friends, and the fruit of the Spirit can be brought to bear into areas where community is disrupted. This — there is nothing like it.  What a book!

Learning Our Names: Asian American Christians on Identity, Relationships, and Vocation Sabrina S. Chan, Linson Daniel, E. David de Leon, La Thai (IVP) $20.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00

Perhaps you, too, have been moved by the cry to “say her name” and to commemorate those people of color killed by police. The movement to say their names is potent (and rooted in the way, also, Latino people would cry presente! When commemorating those killed (with US weapons) in the repressions in El Salvador so many years ago. Saying a name is vital, humanizing, a simple kindness, with vast repercussions.

This book is less directly political but there is much social significance, it seems to me, in the title. Of course, it also addresses an elephant in many rooms, the resistance some folks have to learning names they fear are hard to pronounce or even to learn the different cultural and national backgrounds of those who are Asian American. This lovely, wise, and inspiring book invites us all to glimpse into the lives of Asian Americans and join them in learning about names, about cultures, about issues and identities and joys and sorrows. This book is worth its weight in gold, I’d say, so very important and so very precious. Knowing somebody’s name.

Interestingly, many Asian American Christians have thought hard about questions not only of racism and discrimination and such, but just good stuff about self-awareness, faith, friendships, cross-cultural friendships, and, yes, in this book, the huge question os discerning one’s vocation.

I think that his book is somewhat designed for Asian American Christians; some would say that many in their community are being set apart for God’s very special purposes in our time. It will help those in Asian American contexts to celebrate who they are and their own sense of being seen, named, accepted. The team that put this great resource together are from East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asian backgrounds (one from Hong Kong, one who is Indian-American, one who is Philipino, and another who is a Hmong American) living faithfully in the US after striking family stories of migration and more. The multiple tensions that have shaped ethnic minorities in unique ways come to the fore, of course, but this book also is a beautiful example of affirmation and learning. Kudos to IVP for once again putting together this sort of volume. 

And, by the way, for more theologically-minded specialists, don’t miss Doing Asian American Theology: A Contextual Framework for Faith and Practice by Daniel D. Lee which IVP Academic ($28.00 – OUR SALE PRICE = $22.40) which draws on interpersonal neurobiology and trauma theory, released about a year ago.

The Kingdom of Children: A Liberation Theology R.L. Stollar (Eerdmans) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

Okay, I want to say this book is a pioneering effort, the first of its kind and so forth but it really isn’t. But it certainly feels that way, fresh, energetic, vital, new, challenging, groundbreaking. Stollar has written often and some of the chapters had early expression in the Unfundamentalist Parenting blog run by Cindy Wang Brandt (and who wrote the forward to this brand new book.) She deserves and gets plenty of credit.  So does Marcia J. Bunge, author of Child Theology and editor of the big volume, The Child in Christian Thought.

Stollar proposes a liberation theology of the child that puts children in the center of our churchly life. As the book says, “By lifting up children — truly valuing and learning from them —we can build up the Kingdom of God here in our communities.”

I have not studied this carefully yet (it just came a day or two ago) but I know that Stollar (who studied at St. John’s College and has worked in child protection advocacy, offers a prophetic call, which is said to be thoroughly compelling.

Christian educators of course have to grapple with this, as should parents, Sunday school teachers, pastors, youth leaders, those who work in various capacities serving kids. At 325 pages, it’s a lot. But this is important, innovative, and one of the very small handful of books that explore this mighty theme. I think it’s important.

In this prophetic, compelling volume, R. L. Stollar calls attention to the rampant manifestations of anti-child discrimination that often go unnoticed and offers an urgent, compassionate alternative. The Kingdom of Children paves the way forward by calling people of faith to realize their professed commitment to children through child liberation theology. Anyone who cares about the Christ child will benefit from this much-needed book. —Julie Faith Parker, author of Valuable and Vulnerable: Children in the Hebrew Bible

With a passion for data, strategy, and the good news of Jesus and other prophets, R. L. Stollar has given us a gift of spirit. The Kingdom of Children is profoundly original, profoundly challenging, and profoundly encouraging. Children, Stollar insists, are bearers of prophetic imagination, and we must learn to regard them this way. We get to honor and revere their clairvoyance instead of fearing it and shutting it down. The world children bear witness to, through curiosity and creativity, is our actual world, one in which God sees everything our violence tries to hide and deny, a world in which children, our resident actualists, have the right to not be beaten or driven to despair by parents and other alleged adults, the right to liberation. Take up and consider what Stollar sets down in this actionable text. We have holy work in front of us — David Dark, professor of theology at Belmont University, author of We Become What We Normalize

Although I did not describe each of these ten stellar titles adequately enough, I hope you got the gist and the reasons for our sending these recommendations to you. Here are some more new ones that I won’t describe in detail. I suspect you’ll know if they happen to have your name on ’em.  Again, all are 20% off. Scroll down to the end to see the order link.

The Bible Is Not Enough: Imagination and Making Peace in the Modern World Scot McKnight (Fortress) $19.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.96

I think Scot McKnight is one of the great thinkers and Bible teachers writing these days, and I’d recommend, without hesitation, anything he writes. This is on one hand brilliant and needed, but yet feels (in the first few chapters) a bit cranky; a bit dense, not even all that appealing (to me, a Biblical pacifist, no less.) But yet, he continues to crank it out, short and not so sweet, offering good reasons why Biblical peacemaking is required work and takes imagination and improvisation. The Bible is sufficient for teaching us about salvation, of course, but for most of life, it simply is not enough. We’ve got some sanctified work to do.

There are fabulous, rave reviews from Joel Green (of Fuller) and Greg Carey (of Lancaster Theological Seminary) and Myles Werntz (of Abilene Christian University) among others. I loved his little Fortress paperback The Audacity of Peace (in the “My Theology” series) where he explains nicely his intellectual grappling with the Biblical instruction from Ron Sider and the theology of Bonhoeffer and the like. Reliving his own thoughtful struggles with the Biblical texts about violence was fabulous, and shapes this punchy, wise, and urgent volume. I am grateful to McKnight for his honest, frank, and deeply Biblically-influenced survey and invitation. 

Eve Isn’t Evil: Feminist Readings of the Bible to Upend our Assumptions Julie Faith Parker (Baker Academic) $22.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $18.39

It should go without saying that church history is replete with even good people doing bad exegesis and terrible interpretation. Augustine on women, horrible Southern Presbyterians affirming slavery during the civil war, modern preachers telling us to be rapture-ready as we claim promises of health and wealth. Even as brother McKnight shows in his manifesto, above, we need wise interpretation, and imaginative ways to live out the texts that we understand as God’s Holy Word.

And so, this is, as one reviewer put it, “an amazing book of power, insight, and challenge.” There is great Bible study here, good history, and fascinating storytelling. Do you need to have your assumptions “upended”? Don’t we all? This may or may not be for you the final word on so many complicated Biblical stories about gender, but is is honest and very interesting and a good example of a feminist scholar who obviously loves the Bible. Check it out!

Centering Discipleship: A Pathway for Multiplying Spectators into Mature Disciples E.K. Strawser (IVP / Praxis) $20.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00

Whew-ie, there’s a lot to say about this book, but I want to be brief. Co-published with the good folks at Missio Alliance (and with a foreword by JR Woodward) this woman, with a degree is Osteopathic Medicine) is bi-vocational lead pastor of an innovative church in Hawaii. This is an executive leader with the V3 movement, so has been influenced deeply by the evangelical energy of the very thoughtful missional movement. It is not surprising to see Debra Hirsch (of Forge) offering a good endorsement. She observes how transformational it is when a church gets serious about helping members follow the way of Jesus and notes that this amazing book is “both compelling, as it is rooted in a lived story, and impressive, as it suggests practical ways to make this happen in your church.”

There are oodles of books about mentoring, disciple-making, putting discipleship (and thereby disciple-making) at the heart of the local church, pushing for whole-life faithfulness in ways the influence congregational mission and local culture. But there is something about this one, as it is smart and relevant and hopeful and practical. As it says on the back cover, Centering Discipleship is a gutsy, practice-based guidebook for leaders who are doing the hard work of reimagining and restructuring their churches and communities to turn spectators into missional, mature, followers of Jesus.

When Religion Hurts You: Healing from Religious Trauma and the Impact of High-Control Religion Laura E. Anderson (Brazos Press) $19.99   OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

I have been working on a book list for those in the throes of deconstruction, or those scared by their doubts, or others who are entering into new phases of their faith lives, maybe experiencing what Sarah Bessey called being “out of sorts.” There’s a lot — memoirs, sociological studies, evaluations from various theological angles and perspectives. More on all that later…

This, though, is an urgent title for those who have experienced religious trauma — and it seems like the numbers are frighteningly high — or know someone hurt by toxic religiosity. There may be other books from other orientations, but this one seems unique in that it is by a woman with a PhD who is a trauma-informed psychotherapist (and cofounder of the Religious Trauma Institute.) She knows this stuff from a clinical perspective and has tallied horror stories from dozens if not hundreds of clients. Can those who leave a super high-demand, high-control religious system (whether a bona fide cult or an extreme fundamentalist organization) survive, move forward, find healing (and be open to trusting God again?) This is said to be both compassionate and wise, with lots of data and help.

It is ideal for those who, in the words of Sarah Edmondson (who wrote a book about her escape from the NXIVM cult), are in the “muddy aftermath” of their exit from extreme religious groups.

Matthew Paul Turner says it is “the most comprehensive, reflective, and helpful book about recovering from church abuse that I’ve ever read.”

Rooted Faith: Practices for Living Well on a Fragile Planet  Sarah Renee Werner (Herald Press) $18.99   OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

I’ve got a pet peeve. I hate seeing people leave their car engines idling, like in the grocery store parking lot (or the Hearts & Minds parking lot; ahem!) It is so wasteful — don’t people care about pollution? Their own pocketbook when they have to fill up with gas? Yet, it is a different era than it once was — I recall when PresidentJimmy Carter said we need to conserve energy and put on a sweater on national TV like Mr. Rogers. Yes, he was mocked mercilessly, but some understood and many agreed. When I was a younger Christian there was a topic called “simple lifestyle.” We knew the Bible rejected crass materialism and we desired — out of love for neighbor and love for the planet — to walk more gently on the Earth. There were a bunch of books on this question of simplicity and wise use of natural resources and it was often even a category when we’d go out to do book displays. Ron Sider wrote about it, true enough, but so did a lot of non-Mennonites.

Well, the other day, gripping about a car needlessly spewing out exhaust for what seemed like an hour in a parking lot, I wondered why there aren’t more books on living well on our fragile planet. Why aren’t we more robust in being careful, stewardly, frugal?

Enter the brand new title Rooted Faith: Practices for Living Well. This is the book that could help re-ignite a church-wide conversation about the ethics of our consumerism, our carbon footprints, the impact of all our stuff. I am so very happy to see it.

“Drawing on Scripture, Christian history, and practical theology, Sarah Renee Werner invites readers into a new way of seeing ourselves in relationship with the rest of creation. She offers tangible practices for opening up our hearts to both the beauty and tragedy around us and guides us toward meaningful action to restore creation.” It is winsome, practical, and actually, quite lovely. Hooray!  Debra Rienstra of Refugia Faith, says, “…begin here.”




It is helpful if you tell us how you want us to ship your orders.And if you are doing a pre-order, tell us if you want us to hold other books until the pre-order comes, or send some now, and others later… we’re eager to serve you in a way that you prefer.

The weight and destination of your package varies but you can use this as a quick, 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 can be a little slower. For one typical book, usually, it’s $4.12; 2 lbs would be $4.87. This is the cheapest method available.
  • United States Postal Service has another, quicker option called “Priority Mail” which is $8.50, if it fits in a flat-rate envelope. Many children’s books and some Bibles are oversized so that might take the next size up which is $9.20. “Priority Mail” gets much more attention than does “Media Mail” and is often just a few days to anywhere in the US.
  • UPS Ground is reliable but varies by weight and distance and may take longer than USPS. Sometimes they are cheaper that Priority. We’re happy to figure out your options for you once we know what you want.

If you just want to say “cheapest” that is fine. If you are eager and don’t want the slowest method, do say so. It really helps us serve you well so let us know.


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Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street  Dallastown  PA  17313

Sadly, as of October 2023 we are still closed for in-store browsing. COVID is not fully over. Since few are reporting their illnesses anymore, it is tricky to know the reality but the best measurement is to check the waste water tables to see the amount of virus in the eco-system. It is bad and now getting worse. It’s important to be aware of how risks we take might effect the public good — those at risk, while not dying from the virus, are experiencing long-term health consequences. (Just check the latest reports of the rise of heart attacks and diabetes among younger adults, caused by Covid.) It is complicated, but we are still closed for in-store browsing due to our commitment to public health (and the safety of our family who live here, our staff, and customers.) Our store is a bit cramped without top-notch ventilation, so we are trying to be wise. Thanks for understanding.

We will keep you posted about our future plans… we are eager to reopen.

We are doing our curb-side and back yard customer service and can show any number of items to you if you call us from our back parking lot. It’s sort of fun, actually. We are eager to serve and grateful for your patience as we all work to mitigate the pandemic. We are very happy to help, so if you are in the area, do stop by. We love to see friends and customers.

We are happy to ship books anywhere. 

We are here 10:00 – 6:00 EST /  Monday – Saturday. Closed on Sunday.