A long back-story about my book “Serious Dreams: Big Ideas for the Rest of Your Life” ON SALE NOW

The other day a long-standing customer and friend asked why I don’t push my own book more here at BookNotes. There are a number of reasons, I suppose, ranging from a slight embarrassment in doing so — tooting your own horn seems a bit unseemly — to a fear that, well, I have highlighted it every other year or so, and I don’t want to bore or annoy our faithful readers.

Yet, some of our recent subscribers may not know of this little gem, a book I am quite proud of. More importantly, niche as it may be, there is really nothing like it on the market and it could be very helpful for the right person — a young adult or recent college grad, especially. So, here I go, a little rumination on why you should order Serious Dreams: Big Ideas for the Rest of Your Life for college grads or young adults (or, if I may — ahem — for yourself, no matter your age or stage in life). It was nicely designed by Ned Bustard and published quietly by Square Halo Books in 2015. It goes for $13.99 but our BookNotes SALE PRICE = $11.19.

I’ll even autograph it, which sounds a bit weird to say, even now, having signed dozens and dozens over the years. Just let us know if you want that and, if so, to whom (if anyone) we should make it out.

Let me tell you the back story.

Nearly a lifetime ago Beth and I were newly married and working out of a Presbyterian Church near Pittsburgh, sent there by the CCO (the Coalition for Christian Outreach), an ecumenical, evangelical, campus ministry that helps college students understand and live the gospel of God’s Kingdom. Although it wasn’t the only influence in those early CCO days in the 1970s, we did learn then about that great Dutch statesman, public theologian, and writer, Abraham Kuyper, who is known particularly for his advocacy of a world-and-life-vision that relates seamlessly knowing and doing, thinking Christianly and living vibrantly, in but not of the modern world. When Kuyper founded in 1880 a major Christian university in Amsterdam — before his famous trip to American where he lectured at Princeton — he preached that often-cited line about the resurrected Christ who, as Kuyper put it,

There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’”

The Biblical basis for that vivid claim can be seen in texts such as Psalm 24:1 and Colossians 1: 15-20. In Kuyper’s speech, the broader context of that line was about rejecting a compartmentalization of faith, as if the arts and sciences are somehow disconnected from a privatized faith. Oh, no: Kuyper deeply valued pluralism but also insisted on the Kingship of Christ expressed in all of society. A cultural renaissance man as the 19th century turned to the 20th, he understood (long before the postmoderns) that all of life is inherently biased, committed, situated; nothing is neutral. (Ya gotta serve somebody Bob Dylan growled in my own generation.) From technology to economics to art to education, human culture-making is shaped by deeper idols or ideologies, so followers of the way of Jesus have to be discerning and winsome and creative about everything. As we used to say in the CCO, we believe in “all of life redeemed.” .

The great Dorothy Sayers said something to the effect about religion that is relegated to one part of one day a week is ultimately boring. Who wants a religion so puny? She’s right, and our years working with the hungry hearts of youth taught us that a big picture faith is not only more faithful to the full epic Biblical drama of redemption, but it is, frankly, more appealing.

(As an aside: for a great modern-day exploration of the implications of Kuyper’s broad teaching about faith lived out in every sphere of life, see the excellent Calvinism for a Secular Age: A Twenty-First-Century Reading of Abraham Kuyper’s Stone Lectures edited by Jessica and Rob Joustra.) Richard Mouw wrote the most accessible and inspiring little introduction to Kuyper in his Abraham Kuyper: A Short and Personal Introduction. Dr. Mouw also nicely told my story about CCO folks learning about all this, including notions of common grace and the vocation of doing uniquely Christian scholarship, in a few pages of his lovely, provocative book All That God Cares About: Common Grace and Divine Delight. The Dorothy Sayers quote animates much of the great book by Paul Marshall, Heaven Is Not My Home: Living in the Now of God’s Creation.)

Inspired by this sort of Dutch neo-Calvinism about the Lordship of Christ over all aspects of creation, alongside the slightly counter-cultural  approach of our Jesus movement forebears, the CCO set out not only to invite students to a gospel-centered faith but to nurture and equip disciples of Christ who might be salt and light in the universities where they found themselves.

We wanted to help students to show forth the implications of the Christian mind, discover fresh new ways of advocating for Christian scholarship, and to stand for Biblical principles of public justice (fighting poverty was a major concern for Kuyper) and racial reconciliation. We brought to our campuses rising Christian leaders such as John Perkins and Os Guiness and Becky Pippert and Tom Skinner and Tony Campolo and R.C. Sproul. Eventually we brought in and learned from big thinkers like John Stott and Ron Sider and Bob Goudzwaard, spiritual leaders like Ruth Haley Barton, Bible scholars like Kenneth Bailey, pastors like Timothy Keller, philosophers like Jamie Smith, activists like Lisa Sharon Harper, who all influenced our staff of mostly young college ministers.

Naturally, if we wanted to honor the Lordship of Christ and create signposts pointing the way of His Kingdom coming, and we wanted students to sense a calling to their academic work (not to mention leading Bible studies in their dorms and going on mission trips, and all the rest of fairly standard faith formation) we had to show not only that academic discipleship matters — loving God with all your mind — but that the college years were times to discern one’s vocation, to hear God’s call, to figure out what it might look like to serve God in the professions and careers for which they were studying. In other words, we had to teach them that work matters to God, and not merely as a way to pay the proverbial bills. God actually cares about your job.

Remember that great line by Martin Luther King, Jr?

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper. He should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all hosts of heaven and earth pause to say; Here lives a great sweeper who did his job well.”

Most campus ministry organizations (and, frankly, most churches, even today) don’t say that nearly enough.

A Lutheran businessman, a steel executive named William Diehl, gave a talk at an early CCO conference called “Thank God It’s Monday” which eventually became a book by that title. Books like Os Guiness’s The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose for Your Life and Tim Keller’s Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work or Joanna Meyer’s Women, Work, and Calling had not been written yet, but we pioneered on, creating the now famous Jubilee Conference (still held every February and our biggest bookselling event each year.) Inviting students to a robust theology of work and inviting them to think Christianly about what they are learning as they prepare for vocations in the world became important for CCO’s vision of “whole life discipleship.” I’m not sure they always think about the implications of it all, but they still have as a slogan reminding them that they do their ministry in order to “transform college students to transform the world.”

Just for fun, here is a main-stage Jubilee talk by cultural thinker Andy Crouch, (where he plays some Bach), here is another by the fabulous Biblical scholar Carmen Imes, unpacking Genesis 1 and 2, and here is one — you’ve got to watch this — from Sunday morning’s challenge just last year by New York pastor Abe Cho. And here is an audio of me going on for nearly an hour at a workshop about the Christian mind and reading widely as a Kingdom practice designed for Jubilee students. These are all well worth taking in and will inform and inspire you but will also give yoiu a bit more background about some of our influences at Hearts & Minds and some of what we are about.

It was, by the way, out of this vision that our good friend Derek Melleby wrote a number of years ago a small book for young college students called Make College Count: A Faithful Guide to Life and Learning (Baker Books; $13.00; OUR SALE PRICE = $10.40.) It is, to this day, the best little book inviting those heading off to college to make choices that are fruitful and wise, including thinking well about vocation and calling. There is nothing like it, and we highly recommend it.

And, then, also out of this hope within CCO to mentor students into taking their course work seriously and find God in their labs, classrooms, and lecture halls, Derek joined up with another eloquent former CCO staffer (and now college chaplain), Don Optiz, to write the hilarious, breathtakingly good, upbeat volume Learning for the Love of God: A Student’s Guide to Academic Faithfulness (Brazos Press; $19.00; OUR SALE PRICE = $15.20.)

That book was dedicated to me — what an honor! — and, again, illustrates how our involvement with the CCO shaped the vision we have of our small town, mail-order bookstore. I am sure that this little book by my two good pals, Derek & Don, is the best introduction to all this talk about a missional, relevant, thoughtful, sort of discipleship on campus. Anybody that is a life-long learner and wants a quick, fun, read on thinking might well appreciate it. We all could use some “academic faithfulness.”

(Another interesting aside, if you please: many know and many more have heard that Steve Garber’s book, Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior initially had, in its first edition, the same subtitle of weaving together belief and behavior, but with the additional phrase “in the college years.” You see, he did the research for the extraordinarily thoughtful and influential book about higher education (and what contributes to lasting, transformative learning) in the years immediately following his stint with the CCO in Pittsburgh. He was active, also, as leader of the Jubilee conference for a bit, and even though Beth and I had long left CCO staff to start our bookstore in Dallastown, it was through those circles that he interviewed me for my little episode in the book, talking about a Dutch philosopher (Peter J. Steen) who was important to me, and to Steve. Steve’s research for that book was taken seriously by a host of church-related colleges and they used his principles to attempt to make their learning communities more meaningful and faithful in what Sharon Parks calls “the critical years.” Yep, in that rather tangential way, Fabric of Faithfulness is part of the backstory of Serious Dreams as well.)

It was out of this visionary and educational mission to be something other than purveyors of a personalistic piety (or, on the other hand, a socially-engaged activism unmoored from the Bible or orthodox theology or the local church) that Beth and I came to sense a calling to open a bookstore, shaped by these years of talking about these very things, relating faith to all of life. Unlike many so-called Christian bookstores in those years we wanted to be a bit more thoughtful and carry less silly stuff and, importantly, to be ecumenical. We wanted to show that what Richard Foster came to call the “streams of living water” across the broad Body of Christ each had something vital to contribute to a relevant and timely sort of Kingdom lifestyle.

And, also uniquely, it seemed, we wanted to offer books about all of life being redeemed — creation regained — developing a prophetic imagination that would offer critique to the idols of the time and real hope for fresh ideas for the reformation of all of life and culture. That is, we had books about science and art, nursing and education, business and architecture, law and psychology, home-making and church life, too. We have sections of books on urban design and neurology and gender studies and history and agriculture. From parenting to politics, we think we need to find better ways to promote a Biblically-informed worldview and offer fresh hope for a culture in disarray.

(I don’t have to reiterate here what I’ve written about recently — that books are tools for serious discipleship and that reading is, in fact, a much-needed spiritual discipline in this modern, secularizing world. To understand and care about and engage with the spirits of the times, we’ve got to read widely. HERE I shared a list of a great handful of books about books. Hooray.)

All of this led me a few decades ago — besides running the shop, ordering books on all manner of things from all manner of perspectives, hoping customers will enjoy our call to read widely — to take up an advanced degree in the philosophy of higher education. I was helping with CCO by doing some of their staff training in those years and we have been their bookseller for decades. I figured I should revisit some of our interests in institutions of higher learning. The first and at that time the only place that offered a distinctively Christian approach to the study of higher ed as a graduate discipline was the Masters of Arts of Higher Education degree program of Geneva College, in Beaver Falls, PA. I got a chance to study with others and reaffirmed our calling to offer books to all, but with an interest in campus ministry and college life, too. That has never panned out that much, to be honest — most of our customers are adults in ordinary churches, I’d guess, not rising Christian scholars or leaders in campus ministry, let alone faculty which makes us quite happy — but it is part of who we are here at Hearts & Minds. And we are grateful for those situated in colleges that send business our way. You know who you are and we are thankful.

Which brings me to the occasion, nearly a decade ago, of being asked to give a commencement address during the graduation ceremonies of the various Master’s programs at Geneva College. They even gave me an honorary doctorate which I rarely mention, but, well, it was pretty special. When you write, you don’t have to call me Dr. Borger, but you could…. Ha.

I preached, as I sometimes do, about raising up “Sons and Daughters of Issachar” — those who, according to I Chronicles 12:32 “understood the times and knew what God’s people should do.” I was as rousing as I could be in that setting and a number of folks asked afterwards if I could send them copies of my talk. There was even some talk about publishing it as a booklet or something. Oh my.

Which got me to thinking.

There really was no exact book to give as a gift to typical churched college graduates that invited them to take their faith into the marketplaces of their future jobs, to continue being life-long learners for the sake of the common good. There was nothing rather brief for college grads that was both inspiring and substantive, easy and exciting to read but relevant for a young adult wondering what comes next in their post-college years.

Beth and I started reading other college commencement addresses that were delivered to Christian graduates. Naturally, these were mostly from Christian colleges, and, wow, some of them were really good. I found more than enough examples of tremendous talks, graduation speeches, and invitations for young adults to serve God as they move out into the world of work, inspired by things which they learned in their college years. Bingo.

I was delighted that some very famous authors and important Christian scholars (and a lesser known person or two) gave me permission to reprint their commencement addresses. We added some discussion questions, some clever graphics — acorns, oak leaves, growing into the big trees you see on the back cover — and gave it the title Serious Dreams: Big Ideas for the Rest of Your Life. Compiled, curated, and edited by (Dr.) Byron K. Borger of Dallastown, PA.

The collection of talks make for good reading for anybody, I’d say. They are inspirational and  touching and motivational, but, as the best sort of presentations are, they are well-written and full of important ideas, big truths, helpful guidance, exceptional insight. Some are a bit more visionary while some are a tad more practical. Each are set in their own context but I promise that is not odd or off-putting. We edited them in such as way as to retain the uniqueness of each address but made sure each was useful for ordinary readers who know nothing of that particular college or university where it was first delivered. Serious Dreams is not designed only for those who attended a church-related or Christian college but for any young adult searching for meaning and purpose, hoping to live faithfully in these days. These are exciting to read and I am nearly overwhelmed to find my own message alongside those of important writers like Nicholas Wolterstorff and John Perkins and Amy Sherman and Richard Mouw.

I rarely say this sort of thing but as we curated and edited these I felt directed by God to write a different sort of introduction, sharing a different tone in what became the longest chapter in the book. Unlike the rather breathy and celebratory pieces from the various guest authors, I felt led to write a framing chapter that, while still upbeat, was a bit more sober. Some college grads do not get their dream job. Some move home into their parent’s basement. Some have a high degree of anxiety (including over all this talk of a high calling, implying a great clarity about God’s role in shaping our hopes and dreams and visions of vocations.) Let’s face it: few get to “change the world.” There may be some disorientation when a young person moves to a new town or takes up a new job in their summer after graduation. They need to find a new church. They need friends and they need to set up good habits. They might have financial hardships; they may experience loneliness, a let-down after the enthusiasm of their college years. So I wrote that first introductory chapter as a way to assure readers that they are loved and that despite the “big ideas” to which they are called in the exciting chapters to come, it’s okay to settle down, start small, stay put, breath. It’s going to be okay.

Here are the chapters and authors of Serious Dreams:

Live Well, Be True, Do Good: an Introduction by Byron Borger

In this introduction I frame the messages in the book, and remind young adults that starting small and living locally with an attentive sense of place, is a fine, good thing. We actually don’t have to change the world.  “Small things with great love” Mother Teresa once said. I have been deeply gratified to hear back from some readers who found this chapter particularly helpful, especially as they face less than inspiring circumstances. It’s going to be all right…

What It’s All About by Richard J. Mouw

Dr. Richard Mouw is a prolific author and hero to many who want to “think Christianly” and relate evangelical faith to public life in civil, fruitful ways. This nice chapter reminds young grads to remember that which they’ve learned in their college years and live it out in the real world, for the glory of Christ. It is basic, clear, and delightfully compelling. Mouw is a Kuyper scholar and past President of Fuller Theological Seminary and this is a very nice opening chapter, first shared at Messiah University, near us here in central Pennsylvania.

You Need Two Eyes by Nicholas Wolterstorff

Arguably one of the preeminent philosophers working in the world today, this very helpful chapter powerfully reminds us that we need both competence and compassion, Christian excellence in thinking well and the virtue of caring for the hurting. I have read this a dozen times and it still inspires me. One reader wrote and said this chapter alone was well worth the price of the book! I am sure you’ll agree.

Rejoicing Your Community by Amy L. Sherman

Ms Sherman delivered this very upbeat and inspiring talk drawing upon insights from her excellent book Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good. (And, in years since, fleshed out in a broader study called Agents of Flourishing: Pursuing Shalom in Every Corner of Society, a hefty book that I highly recommend.) This fabulous chapter invites us to the many implications of Proverbs 11:10 which reminds us that faithfulness to God must be connected to service of the community, responding to the needs of the hurting world. Her longer book — or even this great little chapter — if taken seriously, could change how we think about our own work, and could truly transform our part of the world!  Hooray.

The Memory in the Seed by Claudia Beversluis

This was actually the speech, delivered at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI, that so moved Beth and I to compile this book and have this chapter be a centerpiece. Claudia’s use of a Wendell Berry poem is itself beautiful, and the call to long-term, whole-life, culturally transforming discipleship is priceless. The world needs you, she said, and she is right. Do you believe it, really? Do the young adults you know believe it? How might they draw on the best visions of their past as they move with virtue and depth towards the future, God’s future? What “hard earned” memories do we carry with us? I am moved every time I read this.

Common Grace for the Common Good by Steven Garber

I suppose you know that Garber is one of my good, good friends, and his three books (Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior and Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good and The Seamless Life: A Tapestry of Love and Learning, Worship and Work) are among my own personal favorites. He is morally serious, always eloquent, drawing here profound connections between the Biblical use of the word covenant and the sorts of work and the kind of economy we want to envision in our times. And he cites Wendell Berry and U2. This address was delivered at Covenant Theological Seminary in Saint Louis and although offered for those going into vocations in ministry, it is substantive and offers thoughtful words and big ideas for us all. Garber fans? You’ve got to have this in your collection.

Three Cheers for Sons and Daughters of Issachar by Byron Borger

Here is the one where I preach about cultural relevance, personal transformation, the integration of faith and learning, the need for hearts aflame and a robust, coherent worldview, through thick and thin, bearing witness to God’s ways in every area of life. I was so honored to speak about Geneva College’s heritage of promoting the Kingship of Christ and how that can inspire ordinary folks to live out their faith in the rough and tumble of a post-Christian society. And I tell about Mahalia Jackson singing to Martin Luther King, long before that great scene portrayed in the movie Selma. I hope you enjoy it.

The Three Roads and the Three Rs by John M. Perkins

I hope you know John Perkins, a Mississippi-born, evangelical, civil rights leader, racial reconciliation mentor, and social justice advocate who has earned a number of honorary doctorates even though he only formally has a third grade education.  Considered a true elder statesman by many of us, I thought early on that if I were doing a book like this, I wouldn’t do it without Dr. Perkins involved. I was honored that he gave us his exceptional sermon delivered at graduation ceremonies at Seattle Pacific University.  You may have heard or read in his many books about his vision of the 3 Rs but his “three roads” message was fully new and just fantastic. Right on — we all need to be on those three roads:  Damascus, Emmaus and Jericho.

Launch Out, Land Well: an Epilogue by Erica Young Reitz

The sermons and speeches offered as chapters in Serious Dreams are all exciting and stimulating, provocative and inspiring. I think the little discussion questions after each are helpful. I framed the big picture, breathy messages of the book in my introduction with a more quiet call to live well in our own unique context, inviting readers to listen to their hearts and pay attention to small stuff.

We wanted one more piece in the book, though, an epilogue by a wise guide to help young adults make transitions well with some clear-headed, practical advice. Erica Young Reitz is a dear friend whose own book After College: Navigating Transitions, Relationships and Faith came out to great acclaim in August 2016. Erica has done college ministry with the CCO mentoring seniors, helping them “launch out” well into their post-college lives. Her own book wasn’t out yet, but she was known as one of the leading experts on this topic so we were very, very glad for her willingness to offer a practical afterword. Her suggestions are good for those leaving college or, actually, for anyone in times of change or transition.

If you know any young adults (especially if they are recent college grads) I hope you consider getting Serious Dreams for them. And, for that matter, while you’re at it, also get Erica’s excellent book that is so full of interesting guidance and faithful wisdom, After College: Navigating Transitions, Relationships and Faith. (IVP; $18.00; OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40.)

To be honest, I’d like to think that the upbeat commencement speeches I compiled for Serious Dreams are inspiring for nearly anyone, even if they are not recent college graduates. Anybody wanting to be reminded about the call to live well and serve others and make a difference will enjoy these chapters. It is a book that we wish was better known. None of the authors make anything in royalties so it is a true labor of love, each chapter unique but with a common vision. Bold ideas, indeed.  Can you help us spread the word? Order some today — it would mean a lot. Thanks.





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. Let us know your hopes.

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 $4.33; 2 lbs would be $5.07. This is the cheapest method available and seems not to be too delayed.
  • United States Postal Service has another, quicker option called “Priority Mail” which is $8.70, 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 $9.50. “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 than 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. Keep in mind the possibility of holiday supply chain issues and slower delivery… still, we’re excited to serve you.


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Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street  Dallastown  PA  17313

Sadly, as of July 2024 we are still closed for in-store browsing.

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

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. We’ve got tables set up out back. It’s sort of fun, actually. We are eager to serve and grateful for your patience. We are very happy to help, so if you are in the area, do stop by. We love to see friends and customers.

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