PRE-ORDER – Deep Reading: Practices to Subvert the Vices of Our Distracted, Hostile, and Consumeristic Age — 20% OFF all books mentioned

Please know, you can pre-order anything, anytime, from us. We’re delighted to secure your place on a waiting list for any forthcoming titles. Almost anything. Anytime. Here’s one that’s coming soon… It’s 20% off, too, as usual here at BookNotes. Thanks for reading.

For the last few days Beth and I have been at the breathtakingly exceptional Festival of Faith & Writing, sponsored biennially by Calvin University. Due to the dangers of Covid, they didn’t run the event for a few years, so this was a big year, bringing back old friends and new writers, publishers, booklovers and readers of all sorts. Due to work schedules, we’ve not attended often, actually, but it is always a great highlight of our year when we do. I am sure there is simply nothing like it anywhere with presentations by poets and novelists, children’s authors and essayists, filmmakers and critics. And a bookstore owner.

Thanks to those there who were so encouraging as I gave a whirlwind summary of our 40 years in the biz. And how about that panel conversation I got to be in with conference Director Jennifer Holberg (of Nourishing Narratives: The Power of Story to Shape Our Faith) and Ann Bogel and Karen Swallow Prior? What an honor to be with these smart women. For those that want a taste of the event, I’d seriously recommend Dr. Holberg’s wonderful book.

Plenary addresses were by Mitali Perkins, former poet laureate Tracy K. Smith, the wonderful Yaa Gyasi, and Anthony Doerr who gave a talk on similes. Wow.

Over the past years there we’ve heard the great Katherine Paterson (whose lecture decades ago really was important for me — she even mentions it in her marvelous autobiography, Stories of My Life) and John Updike and Anne Lamott (we just got her brand new book in, last week, called Somehow: Thoughts on Love) and a workshop by Bruce Cockburn and presentations by Margot Starbuck and talk by James McBride (ooooh — I hope you know his recent novel The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store.) As with those older events, the FFW 2024 was excellent; it’s rare for us, being with so many like-minded people who care about the printed page and who champion, in various ways, the reading life.

I suppose it is obvious that these people who are often very serious about Christian convictions but who hold their faith in a manner that makes room for others, who glory in what some might call “common grace”, and who value writing that raises the deepest questions of life (in novels and poetry, especially) that need not hammer down all the doctrinal details — yes, I suppose it is obvious that these are, in many ways, our tribe.

As I said, it was an amazing honor to get to do a workshop presentation, to be on a well-attended  panel (with the energetic new friend Anne Bogel (her little gift book I’d Rather Be Reading is fabulous!) and the brilliant, longer-time pal, Karen Swallow Prior, author, most recently, of The Evangelical Imagination: How Stories, Images, and Metaphors Created a Culture in Crisis) and even say a few words at a reception for poet and memoirist Jeanne Murray Walker (celebrating her Slant Book Leaping from the Burning Train: A Poet’s Journey of Faith. I had named that one of my favorite books of last year.) To get to celebrate Beth’s 70th birthday with our dearest friends and to spend days hanging out with book people is a rare joy indeed.

What a blast to hear authors we have written about here at BookNotes — Anthony Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See is a modern classic; Cloud Cuckoo Land, which Beth finally loved, is a bit more eccentric.) Yaa Gyasi (her Homegoing is truly epic, a must-read, and the follow-up, Transcendent Kingdom, as I’ve quipped before, is itself transcendent.) Tracy K. Smith’s latest is To Free the Captives: A Plea for the American Soul, about which it has been said to be “a stunning meditation on ritual and collectiveness that explores how older forms of inquiry — from song to prayer to ways of public gathering —might help us all survive violent times and address America’s shared history.” Imani Perry says she is “one of the most beautiful and profound writers of our time.” I very much loved her 2015 memoir Ordinary Light.)

Anyway, it has been busy and exhausting and intimidating and refreshing. Thanks to those who prayed for my talks. We are grateful.

And it is true, so true: we would not have any standing to say anything at these sorts of events if we had not a loyal legion of friends and customers who have supported our efforts over these last decades to somehow reimagine and redefine the nature of a Christian bookstore. I know we’ve not pleased everyone, but we will be forever grateful for those who have hung in there with us, who send us orders regularly, who support our small-town shop here in south-central Pennsylvania. Thank you, readers and book-buyers. Without you, our customers, there would be no Hearts & Minds.

And so, a short but pointed BookNotes, inviting you to pre-order a soon-to-be released book coming from Baker Academic. I’m sure it has the name of a few of you on it, and I’m hoping others will generate some conversations around this forthcoming title. It’s remarkable, if a tad on the heavy side.

Deep Reading: Practices to Subvert the Vices of Our Distracted, Hostile, and Consumeristic Age Rachel B. Griffis, Julie Ooms, and Rachel M. DeSmith Roberts (Baker Academic) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99 // NOT YET RELEASED – Due May 28, 2024  PRE-ORDER NOW. (Scroll to the end of the column for the easy, secure link to the Hearts & Minds order form page.)

This is a book that captures so much about the nature of reading for people of faith these days that it seemed perfect, now, to highlight it. It is written by three college professors (all who have PhDs from Baylor University) who have followed diligently the recent spate of Christian books about the reading life, the values of reading, and the ways in which books can be an asset to our formation as Christian people. They bring us up to speed with a gracious bunch of hat-tips to authors and books that we love to promote, including:

  • Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me by Karen Swallow Prior (T.S. Poetry Press) $19.99
  • On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life Through Great Books (Brazos Press) $21.00
  • Reading for the Common Good: How Books Help Our Churches and Neighborhoods Flourish C. Christopher Smith (IVP) $18.00
  • Reading Black Books: How African American Literature Can Make Our Faith More Whole and Just Claude Atcho (Brazos Press) $19.99
  • The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction Alan Jacobs (Oxford University Press) $21.99
  • The Scandal of Holiness: Renewing Your Imagination in the Company of Literary Saints Jessica Hooten Wilson (Brazos Press) $24.99
  • Reading for the Love of God: How to Read as a Spiritual Practice Jessica Hooten Wilson (Brazos Press) $24.99
  • Reading the Times: A Literary and Theological Inquiry Into the News Jeffrey Brilbo (IVP) $27.00

Just their opening introductory chapter — laden with a tone of academese as it sometimes is — is nonetheless thrilling, engaging a growing consensus that reading is a spiritual practice, that fiction and non-fiction both can be used by Godly folks seeking to be more alive to God’s world, and that in a culture that “amuses ourselves to death” with “restless devices”, we simply have to encourage the habits of reading widely and well. We must “care for words in a culture of lies” as Marilyn McEntyre puts it in her wonderful volume of that name.  And, yet, they are not re-iterating what has been said; they are not preaching to the choir. This brings something new and important, if a tiny bit tedious, to the table.

In fact, these authors are being a bit cheeky — carefully so, maybe too carefully so — in suggesting that while these books are helpful and good and proper and even transformational, they, in some ways, miss the mark by not going deep enough. That is, all of these aforementioned books, they claim, are mostly about the content of the books we read; we read in order to (however imaginatively and wisely) grasp the content, or at least be influenced by the content. I did not notice if they discussed C.S. Lewis’s famous lines in Experiments in Criticism that we are not to seek to “use” a book, but to “receive it” but it’s a helpful insight and apropos.

Their call to slower, engaged reading — “deep reading” as they call it — is less about what to read, but how to read.

And (big spoiler alert) they do not think the classic How to Read A Book by Adler and Van Doran is the right approach!

Their argument is bookish and they obviously enjoy reading widely. And they are very aware of the world in which we live, maybe more than most since they are teachers involved in the lives of young adults. There is no doubt —Griffis, Ooms, and Roberts, young, intelligent, women teachers that they are, get it.

They cite just the right stuff in their discussions of digital culture, including the fabulous research done about digital learning [done before the pandemic caused students everywhere to experience online learning, like it or not] called Digital Life Together: The Challenge of Technology for Christian Schools by David L. Smith, Kara Sevensma, Marjorie Terpstra, and Steven McMullen published by Eerdmans. What a joy to see them engaging the work of Maryanne Wolf (Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain and Reader, Home Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World) and one of the very first serious books about reading that I read, the lovely The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age by Sven Birkerts. Naturally, Nicholas Carr of The Shallows shows up, as does Neil Postman. They are not alarmists about Google or ebooks, but they are helpful by offering a balanced critique and refreshing ways to counter the ubiquity of the virtual and helping us find ways to read well in these digital times. They have a bit about “digital tools and equity”, too, which I found fascinating.

They are also astute about reading literature by and about people of color, of reading books by those different than ourselves, understanding well the liberative results of engaging black books or those written by those who are not from the dominant culture. From The Pedagogy of the Oppressed to James Baldwin through Claude Atchko and Esau McCaulley to bell hooks and, then, authors writing from the perspective of those who have disabilities, they offer fruitful insights. You will be struck, as I was, by their section called “Beyond the Diverse Reading List” offering “inclusive practices to cultivate listeners.” Oh my, this is vital, potent stuff.

By the way, they interact with the work of Daniel Bowman, college English prof (and editor of a fine lit mag / poetry journal) and author of On the Spectrum: Autism, Faith, and the Gifts of Neurodiversity. They have a section on “neurodiversity, accommodation and attention.” Kudos, there. Well done!

One of the big projects going on here in Deep Reading — beside the insistence that we must learn how to read in a truly Christian fashion, not merely refining what to read, causes them to look askance at canon-making and book lists — is how the movement promoting the formation of a Christian worldview (especially in Christian higher education, although I’d say, we, too, here at Hearts & Minds) can become wooden, ideological, overly rationalistic. We’ve never tried to promote some dogmatic ideology of “worldview” but I hear their concerns.

There is more than can be said, I suppose, but they learned some of this critique of certain expressions of wordlviewishness, it seems, from the wonderful worldviewish scholar, James K.A. Smith and they happily cite many of his works. From the deepest tracks in Desiring the Kingdom and Imagining the Kingdom to the one from the Top Ten Charts (You Are What You Love: the Spiritual Power of Habit, obviously) they use his work well, reminding us that we are shaped by habits, liturgies, ways of being in the world. The things we do, do things to us. That some people in Christian publishing and conservative circles promoted a rather rigid sort of worldview analysis, as if the notion of “worldview” was pretty much just old-school apologetics, is true enough, but not all uses of that word are connected with that kind of orientation.

(Decades ago some of those who most popularized worldview language in at least some corners of evangelicalism, published a book called After Worldview edited by Matthew Bonzo & Michael Stevens, reflecting on ways not to use worldview rhetoric as a tool against others; it was a plea to rethink worldview language in an era of dogmatic weaponizing of what was once life-giving and imaginative. But I digress.)

I am not ready to say if I understand or agree with the ways Griffis, Ooms, and Roberts critically engage notions of worldviews, but I am glad whenever folks speak out about the things that matter most, and they are surely onto something that I think most Hearts & Minds readers will care about. Again: kudos.  Again, Deep Reading, strikes a chord and is intriguing. You really should consider pre-ordering it.

They use David Smith’s pedagogical work a lot, too, like his “Reading Practices and Christian Pedagogy: Enacting Charity with Texts” found in Teaching and Christian Practices: Reshaping Faith and Learning edited by David L. Smith and James K.A. Smith. They even quote the rare David Smith book (co-written with Barbara Carville) on the habits of hospitality needed to teach foreign languages well, The Gift of the Stranger: Faith, Hospitality, and Foreign Language Learning, which we always carry. All in all, they understand that our social imaginaries, our ways of being in the world, our world-and-life views, are embodied through formative habits, not merely by dumping more data (even if that data is good Kingdom content) into our brains. By drawing on the unrelated Smiths — David and Jamie — they bring a depth and vitality to this project of helping us nurture a big vision of why and how we read and how deep reading can undo and redo our worldviews.

Which brings us back to the main premise of this fabulous, rich, deep, important work.

They believe — and show, in impeccable detail — that reading deeply will equip us to be shaped by virtues that can help us withstand the onslaught of unhelpful forces (shall we call them vices?) emanating from the principalities and powers of our fallen world.  In this sense, this heady study of reading seriously ends up being really, really influential about very basic matters of Christian formation.

They name three relevant vices in the subtitle, and they are potent — distraction, hostility, and consumerism. If reading well can help unseat the power of these disordered forces in our lives, then bring on the books!

And to think we can take pleasure in reading while fighting the unseen forces that surround us? Yes, ma’am. This is great!

These three women are giving us a great assist in spiritual formation and anyone who cares about Biblically-wise, vibrant, intelligent, whole-life discipleship in our culture, will find this immensely helpful and, I’d think, gratifying. It isn’t simple or even always fun, exactly, but it is nicely written, in a serious sort of way, and it is stimulating and challenging and generative. These teachers help us develop practices for discerning wise reading and for them, wise reading can be (must be?) subversive. That is, this is not a book merely making us feel guilty for not adequately wading through the important bibliographies from the classic Western canons.

Rather, Deep Reading says, we must learn to pay attention. (The first chapter is about cultivating temperance — you’ll be fascinated with the connection.) And then, their “prudent reading practices” help us move “beyond dogmatism.”  Wow, this is provocative stuff.

I could offer more, but I’ll note one more thing. They talk a lot about reading communities. They are college educators, so I get that much of their experience is with professional colleagues who fret about efforts to shape their students. But I think many more of us are in “reading communities,” and even if their context is intentionally Christian higher education, if you are in a church, a Sunday school class, an on-line book club, a small group, or whatever, I think these deep reflections on deeper reading would be very influential in your ministry. Their reflection on “conversation as gift-giving” is beautiful stuff. This is not about reading for self-improvement or developing skills or becoming super-smart. The final chapter is about enjoyment, finally about “being human.”

Their earlier critique of consumerism leads them to big questions about what leisure is and the differences between entertainment and amusement. I had forgotten that pithy quote from Screwtape that they cite in a section about “practices that subvert consumerism” where a person says, after death, “I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked.” Wow. This big afterword invites us to “reread.” It is a mighty ending piece, and it may leave you inspired or perplexed. Either way, it is unforgettable.

There are helpful summaries at the end of each chapter of the suggested practices. There are reflective questions to discuss (of course there are — they are inciting us to do this together, to become reading communities, after all.) These resources increase the value of the book quite a lot and you will be glad.

“This book eloquently joins the other voices calling us to soul-forming kinds of reading that can resist our descent into superficiality and hostility. Importantly, it goes beyond them in describing the actual practices that might get us there. All those who use text to teach others should read it. Anyone else who cares about reading and spiritual growth should join them.” — David I. Smith, Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning, Calvin University


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  • 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.
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Sadly, as of April 2024 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 isn’t good. It is 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 long 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 very much for understanding.

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. 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.

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The False White Gospel: Rejecting Christian Nationalism, Reclaiming True Faith, and Refounding Democracy by Jim Wallis AND FIVE OTHER TITLES… 20% OFF

The False White Gospel: Rejecting Christian Nationalism, Reclaiming True Faith, and Refounding Democracy Jim Wallis (St. Martin’s Essentials) $30.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $24.00

I can hardly say how much I loved this book, how much I value Jim’s perspective and clear-headed writing, and how badly I hope Hearts & Minds friends order it from us (sooner rather than later.)

This exuberant acclaim does not mean it’s a perfect book. As with most books we highlight here at BookNotes there are things that are off about it, stylistically and, I’d argue, in terms of some small bits of content. It’s not a big deal, though, as overall, the book is thrilling, challenging, insightful, urgent, and deeply, deeply faithful to the vision of gospel truths for the common good. The distinguished Princeton academic and activist Eddie Glaude has a remarkable forward. What a book!

I’ve always been a fan of Jim and my own early story, I sometimes say, is like his, just not nearly so dramatic. But I resonated in the early 1970s when I saw that very first, radical underground paper called the Post-American. I knew of a few radical prophets, Dorothy Day and MLK and the Berrigan brothers, but this gang of evangelical seminarians spoke my language. Soon enough we opened our bookstore and Jim was the first author event we hosted, a small, informal gathering when his fame was already growing. I remain deeply grateful for his willingness to befriend me a bit. My first published book review — on a Ron Sider book on nonviolence — appeared in Sojourners. I found myself in protests with him more than once and appreciated the magazine and the movement.

Wallis’s many books (from his first two, Agenda for a Biblical People and Call to Conversion to this brand new one) have emerged from this movement of increasingly ecumenical voices making a difference for the public good, inviting Biblical values of peace and justice, mercy and reconciliation, ecological stewardship and compassion for the distressed, into the conversations both in Washington DC and among the many (many) grass-roots activists forming networks of social change initiatives throughout the land. Sometimes the books have been edgy and prophetic, other times maybe less strident. Sometimes he seems deeply Biblical, and, in others, more generic about faith values. And, yes, sometimes some have accused him of being merely the flip side of the religious right, accommodating the complexities of faith to the mostly secular left. That’s a conversation worth having, I suppose — we have long argued for a non-partisan, third-way sort of approach that is neither right or left. (Joshua Butler’s brisk new little book calls Jesus The Party Crasher.)

Agree or not with Jim, he’s a voice to be heard and his books are always worth reading. Especially this one.

The last one (which came out in 2019) was a fabulous title that we highlighted here. Called Christ in Crisis? Reclaiming Jesus in a Time of Fear, Hate, and Violence it was about Jesus and how Jesus’s teachings were missed or misused in the political debate.  It developed themes from the 2018 “Reclaiming Jesus” declaration, and was necessarily a bit more Biblical / theological than some of his titles. Granted, for obvious reasons, he hits harder at the political and cultural right with their pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps / free market ideologies and endless loyalty to an harsh prison system and carelessness about (if not out and out resistance to) Biblical issues such as hospitality for the stranger, compassion for the hungry, and concern for the Earth. When the religious right blesses that sort of distorted and idolatrous political economy with their own brand of un-Christ-like flags and guns and patriotic piety, we should all see how damaging it is to authentic faith. Christ in Crisis? named all that. A refrain throughout the book was “Don’t go right, don’t go left; go deeper.” It invited us to return to the Jesus of the gospels and not allow him to be aligned with movements that were anything but Jesusy and the long preface in the second (paperback) edition written after the election of Donald Trump, during the start of the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd, is powerful, and, again, points us to “what a focus on Jesus can do for us, even in the direst times.”

Now, Wallis comes with an even harder-hitting, seriously passionate overview of much of his life’s mission, and he developed the heart of the book around six key Biblical texts. Again, he resists the secular left and the religious right, and invites us to a truly Christian perspective, rooted in Scripture.  No, it isn’t primarily an exegetical commentary, but he takes inspiration and much solid wisdom from these classic texts and shows their potential political implications. He invites others of various faiths (and of no faith) to grapple with the values inherent in these texts and he asks us to carry them into the public square with vigor.

Again, agree or not with all of his conclusions, it is hard to argue with the methodology, teasing out real-life social and political ramifications of key passages from the Bible.

Allow me to say this: there are other books that explore the details of the overstated sort of nationalism that has been discussed, everywhere, lately, and Jim’s book is not mostly a scholarly account of the rise of that sort of idolatry. He’s a preacher and an activist and  storyteller and he nicely mobilizes folks — including young adults (he speaks often of his class at Georgetown) including those with no apparent faith — to better citizenship and civic involvement and public life. He obviously knows many of the best scholars about white nationalism (and has had them on his podcast, “The Soul of the Nation with Jim Wallis”) but it isn’t that kind of an academic treatise.

For more rigorous historical depth to our analysis of where this trouble came from, see, just for instance, the updated Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States by Andrew Whitehead & Samuel Perry (Oxford University Press) or American Idolatry: How Christian Nationalism Betrays the Gospel and Threatens the Church by Andrew Whitehead (Brazos Press) or Defending Democracy from Its Christian Enemies by David Gushee (Eerdmans.)

It is not all that needs to be said, but the short Bad Faith: Race and the Rise of the Religious Right by Randall Balmer (Eerdmans) is vital, documenting how racial prejudice was one of the motivating forces with the rise of what was once called the religious right.

For more recent coverage, you simply must get the excellent The Kingdom, the Power and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism by reporter Tim Alberta (Harper.) Jim Wallis’s new book is a great introduction to this urgent topic (but you will then want to go deeper with at least one of the above.) Or, if you’ve read some of this historical background with Biblical discernment and you now wonder what to do to bring our Republic back to sensible and just ways, and our churches away from this false gospel orientation, then you will want to read Wallis immediately.

Jim Wallis has a way of telling stories about pretty remarkable stuff from his experiences with pretty ordinary folk — a poor woman in his neighborhood who prayed so very well in their neighborhood food line, a couple of stories about the beloved youth baseball team that he coached for so many years, a dramatic arrest while taking a (nonviolent principled) stand in Congress, a lesson learned while chatting with pastor’s wife who put her foot down during unkind prayers after choir practice, a single mom he observed at Burger King, his meetings with Crips and Bloods gang members, his Zoom meetings helping train poll chaplains and lawyers willing to stand guard against voting rights repression, his young friend who lost his job at a Christian college due to his advocating for public justice and is happy to now be serving the homeless.

And, sometimes, he tells of somebody famous he met, and it is inspiring (without at all feeling like name-dropping or bragging.) He was friends with Dorothy Day. He knew Desmond Tutu, he has the privilege of telling stories from his pal Bryan Stephenson, he tells about the faith and courage of Raphael Warnock; his old friend Barbara Williams-Skinner once met the civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer, and he tells of meeting Dr. Ray Guerrero, the sole pediatrician at Uvalde, Texas, who joined Wallis on the White House lawn in a coalition working against assault weapons.

Of course he’s on a first name basis with Bono. And, yes, with George W. Bush.

If you’ve never heard Jim’s story about Campus Crusade founder Bill Bright— who threatened him boldly when Sojourner’s was first breaking the story of the big money and creepy power behind what became the Moral Majority and the religious right — and the remarkable reconciliation that happened between the two of them before Bright died, you’ve got to read it.

Despite years and years of enacting public theology — some learned from the likes of radical protestors like Daniel Berrigan, but, it seems, more learned from civic educators like Catholic intellectual Jack Carr or evangelical Michael Gerson  or legislatures like John Lewis or social organizers from CCDA — two things, at least, are clear, again, in the story and work of Jim Wallis.

First, he was raised strictly evangelical, Biblically conservative, and when he went to seminary and helped with famous documents like 1973 “The Chicago Declaration” he helped exemplify what in those years were called “the new evangelicals” or the “young evangelicals.” He influenced (and was influenced by) Fuller Seminary’s William Pannell, the colorful preaching of Tony Campolo, the studious Bible teaching of Ron Sider, and the community development models of John Perkins. It is unclear if he really identified fully with evangelicalism — he’s delightfully ecumenical and was equally influenced by Episcopalian lawyer William Stringfellow and mainline preacher William Sloan Coffin, say — but when he starts talking about altar calls and prayer meetings and picking up your cross to follow Jesus, and highlighting Charles Finney and revivalism, you know he has deep roots in that particular tradition of American religion.

But more, as a teen and young adult he left his faith and certainly the evangelical church for a season, the one his parents helped lead, and moved in with a black family, getting a job with blue collar workers. On the inner city streets of late ‘60s Detroit he developed a relationship with — a life-long relationship with — the historic black church. He has said it before, but he is as tender and earnest here as he ever has been about the black church being his spiritual home. From black preachers and scholars like The Reverend Otis Moss III to Episcopal priest, Kelly Brown Douglas to Bishop Vashti McKenzie (and Edie Glaude who wrote the forward) Wallis knows this community and is committed to learning from and with them. He knows about the slave Bibles, the role of the spirituals, about hush arbors; his telling of all that, citing the likes of Frederick Douglas, subtly and humbly, is, again, worth the price of the book.

There are a few telling moments that those of us who have followed his work for decades might recall: oooh, how I shivered when he told the story (familiar to our family) of his getting a call from the evangelical Nicaraguan doctor, Dr. Gustavo Paragon, who said God told him to call a group at a retreat center in Pennsylvania, to tell them to start a resistance movement against the Reagan administration’s possible plans to invade that country. Those Pledge of Resistance cards and promises to do civil disobedience at congressional offices all over the country should we invade — according to Congressional aids that were in the rooms — helped dissuade the administration from a full-on invasion. (We were less successful in stopping the contras’ bloody attacks, funded illegally by Falwell and Ollie North and other corrupt Christian nationalists, although the nonviolent service of the Witness for Peace movement was part of the legacy of those years, too.)

Which is what makes The False White Gospel so very valuable; Wallis isn’t just jumping on a bandwagon, responding to a fad by yelping about nationalism, now, as if it is a new thing. He has been at this personally for more than 50 years! The book does do what needs to be done informing us about the history of the co-mingling of fundamentalist faith and extremist, far-right politics, especially in recent years. It warns about Trump and his MAGA movement in no uncertain terms and it is unsettling. Has the ugliness of far-right misinformation ever been so weirdly entwined with Christian lingo? Is it overstated to worry about fascism and authoritarian totalitarianism?

The False White Gospel shows powerfully the influences of race and racism in that tragic history of nationalism, white, so-called Christian nationalism. And he gets in the weeds of cultural habits and political policies. His pages on racist gerrymandering and voter repression and such should concern, and motivate, citizens of any political stripe, it would seem to me. Those who think the Republican Party is racially benign simply have to read this! He explains the data from books like The New Jim Crow or The Sum of Us or Just Mercy and frames it as the sort of brokenness that only the gospel can overcome. For the good of our land, for the good of ourselves and our neighbors, we have to resist the false (white) gospel of bondage and embrace the gospel of Jesus. That much, at least, is that simple.

But the book isn’t just a critique of racism (heck, he did that in old Sojo studies decades ago, speaking out consistently while on the road with John Perkins or Lisa Sharon Harper or Vincent Harding or Catherine Meeks or Cornel West, and decisively in America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, published by Brazos Press in 2016.) Rather, this new book is hoping to invite a conversation about “a remnant church” which can help offer principles and spirit to rebuild our frayed Republic, and shore up our best democratic impulses in a multi-racial and multi-faith context. Yep, he even nicely cites Abraham Lincoln. And, perhaps drawing on the gentle, wise, Parker Palmer, he invites us to find common ground and engage in honest dialogues — informally in the work world, neighborhood, or church, or in more structured ways. There’s even a guide in the back for civic minded circles that could foster hard conversations about the things that matter most for the sake of the Republic.

The heart of the book looks at six key Biblical texts, texts that serve sort of as touchstones for this manifesto for our movement. At one point I think he calls them iconic.

He looks at and fleshes out the public implications of these classic passages:

  • Luke 10: 25-37
  • Genesis 1:26
  • John 8:32
  • Matthew 25: 31-46
  • Matthew 5:9
  • Galatians 3:28

Perhaps because he spent some time as a pastor and partially because he knows how strategic pastors are in mobilizing Spirit-empower folks who are sent into the public square, he has a page of idea for pastors who might want to use the book, offering some advice about preaching and teaching and nurturing what he calls civic discipleship.

Civic discipleship. Not bad, eh? Truly and wisely shaped by Scripture, that is the alternative to the false white gospel.

Once we understand the way the MAGA movement with its lies and aggression and all manner of complicity have co-opted the gospel itself, what do we do?

Insightful books analyzing White Christian Nationalism have been appearing. But Jim Wallis asks the next crucial question — what does this mean for the church? His prophetic answer should galvanize our attention: a calls for a ‘Remnant Church,’ shaped by repentance, return, and restoration. Beyond analysis, this book provides clear answers which offer the hope of real transformation. — Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, General Secretary Emeritus, Reformed Church in America; author of Without Oars: Casting Off into a Life of Pilgrimage and Future Faith: Ten Challenges Reshaping Christianity in the 21st Century 

Jim Wallis is a national treasure. In this powerful new book, he focuses our attention on the pernicious problem of American racism, but more importantly he inspires us to never give up hope on the great promise of American pluralism. — Eboo Patel, President of Interfaith America; author of We Need To Build

For more than fifty years, Jim Wallis has been calling on his fellow white evangelicals to live up to the teachings at the heart of their shared faith: loving their neighbors, doing justice, and pursuing peace. With American democracy hanging in the balance, Wallis’s message has never been more urgent. Without shying away from hard truths, The False White Gospel draws on Christianity itself to point the way forward to a multiracial democracy in which people of all faiths can flourish. — Kristin Kobes Du Mez, author of Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation


Saving Faith: How American Christianity Can Reclaim It’s Prophetic Voice Randall Balmer (Fortress) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

I mentioned above, in passing, the short little book Bad Faith by historian Randall Balmer which is well worth reading. This newer one, Saving Faith — what a great play on words! — is his reminder that “any attempt to arrest the decline of Christianity in American must first reckon with its past, especially America’s ‘original sin’ of racism.” I think he is right.  E.J. Dionne has called him “one of our most discerning scholars about religion, one of the most passionate voices within his tradition, and one great storyteller.”

This is well researched and clear-eyed, although he grew up clearly in the evangelical subculture and he continues on in his dedicated Christian faith, so there is warmth and care, even though it can feel a bit stinging at times. Short and solid.

When God Became White: Dismantling Whiteness for A More Just Christianity Grace Ji-Sun Kim (IVP) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

This just arrived, a bit early, and I haven’t studied it yet. I admire Grace Ji-Sun Kim a lot — her podcast (Mandang) is very impressive and widely respected. She has written a lot (and is, by the way, ordained as a PC(USA) pastor) most well-known, perhaps, Healing Our Broken Humanity. Although her PhD is from the University of Toronto and she teaches at Earlham (in Indiana) she resides in Pennsylvania. Hooray.

Look: when Christianity became Western, God seemed to become white. This ought not be a controversial claim but other such books exploring this oddity were viewed with suspicion by some (mostly white folks.) Why? It almost proves the point that we desperately need a book like this.

Christianity is rooted in the ancient Near East. We’re getting that, finally, in children’s Bibles showing Biblical characters and Jesus in ways that are historically accurate, and not as Europeans. But, still, we need a corrective to this view, and that which too often comes along with it — the myth of a white male God and a colonialist worldview. These views and postures, she will claim, have been harmful around the globe and we simply have to dismantle much of that.

We need to, as it says on the back, “recover a biblical reality of a nonwhite, non-gendered God.”  As one reviewer put it, this is a “liberating expose,” Kudos to IVP for helping us disentangle authentic faith from this white male power stuff, that only reinforces and authorizes white Christian nationalism. This looks really good.

Claiming the Courageous Middle: Daring to Live and Work Together for a More Hopeful Further Shirley A. Mullen (Baker Academic) $26.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59

Wow, I’ve long admired Dr. Mullen — former president of Houghton College in New York state — and her long-respected work in faith-based higher education;  I know she nurtured students (and faculty) as President to be more deeply sensitive to multi-ethnic concerns, to an evangelical spirit of inclusion and care, and for a wise and courage sort of balance that often doesn’t get as much press as do the more dramatic calls from the extremes. Can one be prophetic from the center? What sort of habits of mind and heart and what sorts of virtues of courage are needed to come down on a prolonged, consistently thought out view that might be called an alternative to polarization?

Claiming the Courageous Middle came just a day ago — hooray! — so I don’t even know what all she may mean by this call to the courageous middle. I am sure it is not side-stepping deep Biblical mandates about justice or racial equity. It certainly is not a nice way of saying we need not engage in public matters and dare not be prophetic. I’m supposing that it will be a powerful call to be, indeed, Biblically prophetic by denouncing extreme ideologies of all sorts and of working for common ground, including the often excluded.

Dr. Mullen is a cultural historian (perhaps somewhat in the mold of Robert Putnam; I know she cites American Grace) and has been an evangelical mentor to many, so I am sure there is both serious social analysis and good, heart-warming stories. I like how committed this book seems to be for the principle of unity — what some call building the “beloved community” — or at least working towards something akin to it. Believe me, I appreciate how painful it can be to be misunderstood by “both” sides and to nonetheless try to be cruciform, somehow, arms outstretched to all. It’s hard.

I suspect this just might be a good book to read after the Wallis volume. It is what one scholar calls “a book of hope in the midst of despair.” Kudos to Baker Academic publishing for this.

I like how Walter Kim (of the National Association of Evangelicals) put it:

Mullen calls us to live and lead from the courageous middle — not a place of muddled thought and squishy compromise but of curiosity, humility, love for Jesus and others, and a confidence that God is not daunted by our moment.

John Inazu (whose fantastically delightful and exceptionally profound book, Learning to Disagree: The Surprising Path to Navigating Differences with Empathy and Respect, I mentioned last week, and describe again, below, endorses it as “important” by saying this:

Mullen brings a lifetime of wisdom and experience to this meditation on the courageous middle. An important book full of resources, ideas, and practical steps for Christians seeking to faithfully navigate the deep differences in our society. — John Inazu, Sally Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law and Religion at Washington University, St. Louis

Learning to Disagree: The Surprising Path to Navigating Differences with Empathy and Respect John Inazu (Zondervan) $27.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $22.39

I celebrated this great, fun, wise, new book in last week’s BookNotes, noting that this notion of “learning to disagree” and moving towards a confident sort of pluralism was a mark of resurrection life in our broken, polarized culture. I firmly believe that, and this book is so profoundly wise (even if deceptively simple) I wanted to give another brief recommendation here, now. I loved this book!

I do not know if John Inazu — a distinguished scholar of law and religion at a mainstream, secular law school — would agree fully with Jim Wallis’s work, above. As an American of Japanese descent (and a decent, thoughtful human, and a justice-seeking Christian) he knows a bit about racial injustice. There is an very understated but moving story in a chapter on forgiveness in Learning to Disagree of his trip to the internment camp his grandparents and other relatives were forced into in the 1940. (His grandfather respectfully pursued meetings about the affront to his U.S. citizenship that this forced relocation and captivity caused, and they were punished for that as well.) After some local medical folks helped care for a two-year old son (John’s uncle, I think) his grandmother put an add in the local paper thanking the medical team for their kindness and care; it seems she was a good woman, but she learned to forgive (helped along when President Reagan offered a full apology on behalf of the government.)  It’s a moving chapter, but, like I say, it is casually told and nearly understated.

John is a law school professor and this book is written as a memoir, a report of a year of his life, the classes he taught, the students he guided, the campus politics (some quite tense with protesting students — you can imagine.) There are coffee shop conversations and golf games and flights to speaking engagements and comments about his home life. Mostly, he walks us through a few key classes and the main things he invites students to grapple with, always with a tone of wanting them to understanding the complexity of the law and the ways in which lawyers debate about the best interpretation and application of precedent and legal rulings. This is a beautiful example of hearing of a Christian professor telling how he lives out his calling and we get to learn much — about the content of law and the stuff taught in some law school classes, yes, but more about his formational role in deepening the empathy of his students and the graciousness with which they do or do not move into the world of complexity and polarization.

And it is just a delight to read; charming, even.

As Tish Harrison Warren writes in her excellent foreword, John “wades into the complexity of divergent ideologies he encounters eery day in his classroom and work and graciously invites us to have a front-row seat.” In this way, it is a “field guide” to understanding the limits of our own knowledge and move towards a healthier culture.

I love his self-effacing stories, his humor, his honesty. He is clearly a Christian, even in his theoretical framework for his approach to law and religion and culture and the meaning of justice, but there is little direct Bible stuff here. I’m glad for this kind of a “Christian book” that could easily be shared with any reader who cares about building a better world. His gentle reminders about learning to care and make room for others and disagree well, framed as they are by his stories of being a legal scholar and prof, and a dad and a church member and a friend and colleague, really makes this book shine.

Tish Warren jokingly notes how her pal John sometimes pops her bubbles of self-righteous zeal and indignation when she calls him to rail about this or that. He is a wise voice of moderation and grace, with a deep knowledge of legal opinions and precedents, and she respects that so much. She knows how tense it can be out there. And she knows that to be agents of God’s reconciliation means we have to learn better how to navigate our differences, not just rant about them.

She writes:

We can’t merely think our way to a better, healthier society — a society in which we know how to disagree well. Embracing convictions with both confidence and humility is a skill and a habit, a way of being that is practiced and grows over time. Learning to be a good neighbor, friend and coworker across deep differences is more often like learning to walk than learning a creed. It is an embodied art of relating to others and the world around us…. It is a practice, a craft, a dance, a vibe, a mode of living. We therefore must learn to practice civic virtues in our own contexts and our daily lives.

And then she extols John’s storytelling and the “granularity” of the relationships and conversations he writes about, explaining how they can help us. Inazu shows how healthy disagreement is not only possible, she says, but is, in fact, “the very path of wisdom, virtue, and love.”

She notes, in Learning to Disagree,

…John doesn’t just tell us that a convicted and kind pluralism is vital to the health of society; he brings us into the ordinary and mundane rhythms of his life as a legal scholar, a public thinker, a professor, a dad, a friends, a coworker, a church member, and a neighbor.

Join the Resistance: Step into the Good Work of Kingdom Justice Michelle Ferrigno Warren (IVP) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

Wow — this is a stunner of a book, well-written, exciting, visionary, hopeful about (and maybe helping widen) an awakening, an awakening that she says has been happening all over. As Wallis poured his life out for decades, and as the grass-roots activists and coalition builders and networkers he highlights illustrate, faith-based justice work has been a major part of the religious landscape for decades (and, historically, longer than than.) The vibrant sort of new leaders of the 21st century look like Michelle Ferrigno Warren — the CEO of Virago Strategies, a consulting group that provides strategic direction and project management for civic engagement campaigns. Who knew there was such a thing?? She has been in the middle of all kinds of stuff — she helped found Open Door Ministers in downtown Denver, which addressed poverty, addictions, and homelessness.

You may know her from the fabulous, passionate, and compelling book called The Power of Proximity. (It is a phrase Wallis uses, I think — no doubt because he knows her work!)

And the forward to this thrilling guidebook is by the great Latasha Morrison, who wrote the 2019 best-seller, Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation. (By the way, in mid-May 2024 her long-awaited second book is coming in hardback, Brown Faces, White Spaces: Confronting Systemic Racism to Bring Healing and Restoration  – Waterbrook; $27.00. OUR SALE PRICE WILL BE $21.60. You can pre-order it now at our BookNotes 20% off and we’ll put you on the waiting list, sending it in May.) She is a powerful force herself and it is fabulous to see her lovely introductory pages, complimenting her sister Michelle Warren.

So many people we admire give a hats off to Michelle — Lisa Sharon Harper says it is “full of relevant stories and practical tips — well-earned by hears of faith-rooted resistance and action.” Karen Gonzalez (Beyond Welcome) says “When Michelle speaks, I listen, because she embodies Christ’s command to love and serve those on the margins.” Robert Chao Romeo (author of Brown Church) says it is “an important guide”

I enjoy the blurb from Kristine Vaillancourt Murphy, the executive director of Catholic Mobilizing Network who says it,

Offers heartening lived experiences and inspiring faith lessons that will surely encourage both seasons advocates and newcomers to the work of social justice.

Kikki Toyama-Szeto, the executive director of Christians for Social Action, puts it nicely:

Join the Resistance is an opportunity to take a master class with a seasoned savvy leader.

This master class is something all of us can use (especially after being informed and inspired by the types of books mentioned above.) She talks about “stepping into the good work” and the first three chapters about “serving the movement” and she inspires bravery and more. Wow. The middle part is about that long arc and is an invitation to “stay at the table.” She has a great chapter on resilience and insight about “leveraging what you have.” It all rings very true to me but also seemed fresh and vital. You will be glad you read it. The third section (“Help Your People”) is about being rooted in peace, in love, and in joy.  Not bad, huh?

The afterword is by Dominique DuBois Gilliard, a leading black author and head of justice ministries in the Evangelical Congregational denomination. He ends the book well with some Biblical reflections and a reminder of marching orders we get from Scripture to  be “ambassadors of reconciliation and repairers of the breach.” Amen!




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Living Like Resurrectionaries — 16 book ideas to help us live out the hope of Easter ALL BOOKS MENTIONED 20% OFF

Many Easter mornings I post on Facebook my favorite version of the hymn “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” as done by Mark Heard. It is a frail and folky version on acoustic guitar by the extraordinary singer-songwriter (who died too early years ago.) It sings of victory, but if not tentatively, at least humbly. It is earnest, sung by a guy who had seen plenty, who seemed tired.  It reminds me that we live in hope, but as the Bible teaches, that means we are still waiting. We talk about the “already but not yet” at Christmas and I think it is appropriate to temper our Easter jubilation with a bit of restraint.

I am still reeling from the discovery — how did I miss this? — that in the Luke account, the disciples who fell asleep while Jesus prayed and sweated blood in the garden the night of his arrest were exhausted with grief.

I find it increasingly hard to shift abruptly from the hard commemoration of the horrific death of my Friend and King, Jesus, to the glories of His resurrection (which I believe in with my whole heart.) Yes, he destroyed Death but I — like most of you, I assume — have lost too many loved ones this past year or so, have had painful ruptures in relationships, daily mourn the wars in too many places. We have seen some walk away from vibrant faith because of the gross witness of too many far-out fundamentalists. I need Mark Heard’s slow, simple version of this triumphant song, its confidence in an almost minor key.

Yes, Christ is Risen Indeed. But we must then, in the goodness of God’s grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit, in communion with our siblings in Christ, respond to this very good news about a very good gospel.

I sometimes call this way of living resurrectionary. How does new life and new creation show up in our lives? How can we point to “the day the revolution begun” (as N.T. Wright’s book on what Paul was up to in describing the death of Christ calls it)? What books might help us get a vision for being resurrectionaries? To call up another Heard song, how can we see “dry bones dance”?

Here are just a few random ones, some quite new, a few oldies.

Order any from us at 20% off. Just scroll down to the end of the column to see the links to our Hearts & Minds secure order form page.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: Exploring Its Theological Significance and Ongoing Relevance W. Ross Hasting (Baker Academic) $26.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59

Hastings, with two PhDs, is the Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver. He’s written widely on the nature of the atonement and how it catapults us into the arms of a missional God, commission, as we are, to serve wisely in the world. Pastor Philip Reinders notes that this book is not just for preachers doing Easter sermons, but “for everyday resurrection living.” The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, he notes, “traces out the creation-affirming, salvation-expanding, hope-declaring theological trajectories and practical implications of Christ’s resurrection for full human living.”

That’s it! This lively book shows, as Oliver Crisp says, the role of the resurrection in “a fully worked out theological account of the Christian life.”

I hope this isn’t too academic for most of our readers — it has six chapters on the saving efficacy of Christ (which, as noted above, explores the vocational and missional trajectory of that) and it has several chapters on what he calls the “ontological significance” of Christ’s victory. This is rich, good stuff, well worth reading slowly and pondering for a lifetime.

In The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Ross Hastings demonstrates how central the resurrection is to the gospel, to Christ’s identity, and to our identity in Christ. Evangelical readers in particular will have their minds stretched and their spirituality enlarged by the dynamic resurrectional reality to which this book bears witness.       — Michael J. Gorman, author, Cruciformity: Paul’s Narrative Spirituality of the Cross

The Resurrection Life: The Power of Jesus for Today Myron Augsburger (Evangel Publishing House) $14.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $11.99

There are several good books— some rather breezy, others quite academic — about making the claim that Christ rose, bodily, from the grave. Some call that sort of writing apologetics as it makes a case for the resurrection, trying to persuade skeptics that it is sensible and true. We have them, and value them. As the apostle Paul said, if it didn’t happen, we who follow Jesus are to be pitied, presumably for staking our lives on something untrue.

Yet, it seems increasingly clear that in our postmodern and post-Christian culture we need more than good arguments for the truthfulness of the gospel accounts. It perhaps once was that if one could convince a skeptic, one could pretty much assume such a person would become a Christian — what else does a truth-seeker do, once persuaded? Nowadays, for a bunch of reasons, one can make a compelling case for the resurrection and folks might even agree, but still say, in so many words, “so what?”

I think Tim Keller’s previously mentioned (a week ago) book Hope in Times of Fear: The Resurrection and the Meaning of Easter (Penguin Books; $17.00 – OUR SALE PRICE = $13.60) is a masterpiece of making a solid claim for why the historicity of the resurrection is reliable, but, then, pushes towards the meaning and helpfulness of it all. He was an imaginative and compelling apologist for the 21st century, and I commend his book to you, yet again. That he wrote it while under a dire cancer treatment regimen shows much about how faith can provide “hope in times of fear.”

But, again, it seems that we simply must move forward towards vibrant and gracious lives that show the goodness and beauty of a resurrectionary life.

And I turn, again, to the wonderful Mennonite pastor and scholar, Myron Augsburger. This is an older book that never got the publicity it so rich deserved. It is a great little book, a good read and a challenge to life well in the power of Easter. We only have a few left, but I had to mention it.

Here is how one reviewer described it: “The truth of a living Christ sets Christianity apart from all other religions. How does Jesus’ resurrection impact our lives in the twenty-first century? Myron Augsburger contends that because Jesus is alive, the power of God is current to transform our lives and empower us for authentic Christian living. He stresses that the Christian life is one of relationship with Jesus and with the community of believers.”

That may sound fairly conventional, ho-hum, maybe, even, but trust me: The Resurrection Life is a fabulous companion as you ponder why it matters that we say “He Is Risen Indeed!”

Doing Evangelism Jesus’ Way: How Christian Demonstrate the Good News Ronald J. Sider (Evangel Press) $13.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $11.16

My dear friend and somewhat of a mentor, Ron Sider, was friends with Myron Augsburger (above) — their Anabaptist (Brethren & Mennonite) tradition gave them both an impeccable sense of the importance of solid doctrine and robust faith and lived obedience. Ron worked that out both in his representing evangelicals at ecumenical gatherings (and voicing more Biblically progressive views among conservative evangelicals) and always, always, lecturing about combining words and deeds, good ideas and lived action, faith and works.

He was gladly obsessed about that, so much so that some evangelicals thought he was a socialist for talking about the poor (almost) as much as the Bible does and many who cared about social reform though he was a bit of a pietist, which, actually, he was. I adored his big Kingdom vision and how he embraced some worldview language he picked up from neo-Calvinists he knew. In any case, he was a humble follower of Jesus, inviting us to live well into Christ’s Kingdom, through word and deed, prayer and politics.

Doing Evangelism Jesus’s Way is one of several good books that collected his sermons and lectures. I like it because it is succinct, solid, clear, and has a great chapter “If Christ Is Not Risen” that was first preached as part of a Lenten series at a Mennonite Church in Moundridge, Kansas. It’s perfect for this season —listen in as Ron reminds us all of the importance of an Easter faith, but also one the is connected to the Cross. His chapter on “The Essence of the Christian Faith — The Rising Link” is nearly a solid manifesto and worth the price of the book.

The Symphony of Mission: Playing Your Part in God’s Work in the World Michael Goheen & Jim Mullins (Baker Academic) $24.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.20

I have shared about this often and I can hardly think of a better book to follow up the celebration of Easter than with this delightful (if substantive) invitation to “play your part” in God’s symphony of mission. Not to be misunderstood, this is not a call to drop everything and head off for the foreign mission field (although, that, too, may be a legitimate call to some.) Rather, this is about understanding the resurrectionary power that is redeeming the world — the “all things” of Colossians 1:15 – 20 — and exalting Christ through projects of the common good, each finding their part in the multi-dimensional movement of shalom.

Like an orchestra playing a complex but beautiful symphony, we all have our own part to play. Nobody has to do it all, nobody gets to be the only hero or big star. Together, we’ve got this.

I love these two authors — Mike Goheen is a writer and professor (who contributed a chapter to the expanded edition of Creation Regained by Al Wolters) and Jim is a pastor in Tempe, Arizona, with an emphasis on helping parishioners discern and live out their vocations in the world.

And hence, this book, full of lively resurrection hope, invites us to do all manner of stuff, enjoying a robust faithfulness as we participate in the missio Dei.

Here’s the table of contents —nine meaty chapters:

  1. Story: Listening to the Symphony
  2. Simplicity: Learning the Notes
  3. Intentionality: The Movements of Mission
  4. Stewardship: Displaying the Glory of the Father through the Work of Our Hands
  5. Service: Displaying the Love of Christ by Washing the Feet of the World
  6. The Spoken Word: Displaying the Power of the Holy Spirit by Opening Our Mouths
  7. Listening: Finding Your Place in God’s Symphony
  8. Performing: Participating in God’s Symphony
  9. Sustaining: Persevering in God’s Symphony

The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right Lisa Sharon Harper (Waterbrook) $17.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.60

I often come back to this book to recommend to book clubs or small groups wanting to unpack the various implications of a full-orbed gospel message. As we’ve often said, Lisa is a courageous and faithful leader, a black woman who told much about her own history in the exquisite memoir about family genealogy called Fortune: How Race Broke My Family and the World–And How to Repair It All.

In The Very Good Gospel she does two audacious things: the first half follows the story of a good creation made with shalom that gets drug down into brokenness and sin due to our alienation from God and how the really, truly, extraordinary news is that God is bringing reconciliation to restore the many ruptures now in the formerly good creation. (That is, her rhetoric for a quick overview of the grand unfolding plot line of the Bible moves from shalom to alienation to reconciliation.) God is making all things new, not merely offering forgiveness from guilt and God is invested in making this world right, not merely taking us to some otherworldly place sometimes called heaven. That’s the first part.

The second part of this marvelous book is fleshing out what Christ-centered, gospel reconciliation looks like in various spheres — between nations, between the rich and poor, between races and genders and between us and other creatures. We have soul-deep alienation within our very selves and she writes about inner healing, all of this based on the goodness of a God who offers grace to restore us to a relationship with our Maker and Redeemer. This is a very good gospel and it is explained well in the first half of the book and worked out in a variety of arenas in the second half. What more could your group want?

In a serious foreword, the brilliant Walter Brueggemann finally commends her work by saying:

Harper bears witness to the thicker, true, understanding of a saving transformative, reconciling faith that is indeed “very good.”

Hope Ain’t a Hustle: Persevering by Faith in a Wearying World Irwyn L. Ince, Jr. (IVP) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

I loved this book and could tell you about it at great length — I started it one Sunday last month and couldn’t stop reading — but the short version is that this is done by a spiritually upbeat, theologically well-informed, seriously missional, urban pastor, and it is on the book of Hebrews. Using Hebrews as his jumping off point (perhaps this was a sermon series at his church in Philly), Ince invites us to live in hope and to do so by exalting Christ Jesus. Hebrews makes wonderful connections, obviously, with the Older Testamented story of priests and kings and law and glory, how it all anticipates the coming of the fulfillment of God’s promises, in Jesus. It is not a commentary on Hebrews, as such, but it draws heavily on the book, inviting us to hold on to hope.

I started this column with a note about my appreciation of Mark Heard’s faithful, frail, rendering of an Easter hymn. If that resonated with you — the need for some reserve in our triumphant cheering about Christ’s victory since we live in a very hurting world and in a very damaged culture, certainly needing to embrace the “already but not yet” of Kingdom longing —  then you will appreciate this book a lot. It is a clear and accessible call to place our confidence in the finished work of our great high priest, and to thereby show confidence and hope.

Yet, we have grief and sorrow, anger and disappointment. We can face those things, though, not as people who “have no hope” but as those who live well in the face of injustice and scandal and sorrow. It is, as Tish Harrison Warren writes of it, “a wise book to help us to have eyes to see the beauty of Jesus anew.”

This seems like a perfect study for this post-Easter season. There are 10 chapters; less than 200 pages.

Irwyn Ince is a pastor’s pastor, offers us in this book an opportunity to experience honest, kind, and directive shepherding toward the reasonable and secure hope we have in Christ. — Christina Edmondson, co-author, Truth’s Table: Black Women’s Musings on Life, Love, and Liberation and author of Faithful Antiracism: Moving Past Talk to Systemic Change

An Invitation to Joy: The Divine Journey to Human Flourishing Daniel J. Denk (Eerdmans) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

You may recall a longer review I did of this when it first came out, or my second shout out when we named it one of the Best Books of 2023. It has not faded from my memory and I thought I should pick it up again, now, admitting to being a bit uncomfortable with abundance of Facebook injunctions to Easter joy. Obviously, knowing Death is defeated is a lot to be happy about, and a deep joy can pervade those who suffer. But still, really, how do we do that? What if don’t exude exuberant celebration?

Author Daniel Denk, a PCA pastor, knows all of this. From feeling the weight of the sorrows of the world to knowing his own foibles and pains, he nonetheless hears the Biblical call to joy.

As Christopher J. H.  Wright (Bible scholar, author, and global activist with Langham Partnership) says, it is “refreshing, rebuking, reviving, rewarding, and richly biblical and practical.”

“This book is refreshing, rebuking, reviving, rewarding, and richly biblical and practical.”

A book that promises all that makes me glad! And after Easter is a perfect time for it.  Denk, as Joel Carpenter notes, “knows life in its depths” and “he knows God.”  This is a great book to read after Easter, especially if you’ve lost some of your joy and no simple meme or quick reminder will help. This powerful book can.

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

I was happy to promote this when it first came out a few months ago and am glad to do so again. It is a great, thoughtful, read, substantive and well-informed (oooooh, I love the footnotes) but chatty and conversational with stories and good illustrations. In terms of style, it is one of those sorts of books we like to promote because it is thoughtful without being dryly academic and it has both a clear Christ-centeredness (duh, the title, obviously) and yet has a significant boots-on-the-ground sort of practical trajectory. It covers a lot and is good for those who have been following Christ a long time and it is also good for those new to this sort of religious reading. It’s a great book.

The point, of course, is that Jesus is what — or should I say who — it is all about, and His indignity as the Lamb of God is not only pivotal, but transformative. As the subtitle implies, Christ can change all aspects of our lives, personal and social.

Vreeland is a discipleship pastor at the Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missouri, where the head pastor is Brian Zahnd, author, most recently, of the extraordinary Wood Between the Worlds. He wrote a previous book on a Mennonite publishing house called By the Way which was suggestive that we are to join Christ in a “way” of life. (We have long carried his fun little introduction to N.T. Wright’s vision called N.T. Wright and the Revolutionary Cross which is actually “A Reader’s Guide to The Day the Revolution Began.” Hooray for such a thoughtful pastor.

Centering Jesus offers a way beyond the terrible polarization in our world and, as it says boldly on the back cover, “When we lose our focus on Jesus, the church’s credibility suffers.” In this time after Easter it is easy to move into an ordinary time of less drama and less focus. In other words, as he reveals, we end up with a spirituality that is driven by our sense of self.

He looks here at spiritual formation, our moral lives, and our common life together in our congregations. Wow. It leads to maturity, civility, kindness, and more. This is resurrectionary faith, for sure. Highly recommended.

The Gift of Thorns: Jesus, The Flesh, and The War for Our Wants A.J. Swoboda (Zondervan Reflective) $26.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59

Oh my, what a strong book this is. Don’t let the light pink cover fool you into thinking this is some rosy, light-weight book of cheer. I don’t mean to say it is a “downer” or overly complex, but it isn’t simplistic and it offers no cheap answers.

It is about how we are living in a moment in history when our desires, longings, and wants are being weaponized against us by cultural, spiritual, and relational forces. For many, we feel “torn asunder by the raging desires within.” (After spending some weeks reading books like I reviewed a week ago about the addiction crisis, such as The Least of Us and Raising Lazarus, I know this is so.)

Swoboda is a brilliant writer, a creative thinker, and has a good ability to popularize immensely complex matters. He is not the first to write about disordered desires — start with You Are What You Love by James K.A. Smith if this is somewhat new to you — but he is wisely asking what we do with “unwanted desires” the the forces which seem to capture us with dumb wishes and finally don’t bring real human flourishing, anyway. He asks, “How do we cultivate desires which bring life and freedom and lead to Christ.” The Gift of Thorns addresses this sort of stuff.

I share this description from the back cover as it puts it so well; please read this:

The path forward is anything but easy. It is assumed by too many in the Christian community that desire is in and of itself bad or dangerous and must be crucified for simply existing. Desire is demonic for some. But, for many others–particularly in the secular West–desire must be followed through and through. This side deifies desire. But these two options sidestep the joy in the great challenge of finding God in our desire. There exists an ancient and sacred way that is forged around the life, wisdom, and power of Jesus and his Spirit. In short, what makes a follower of Christ is not whether or not we have desires. Rather, it is what we do with the desires we have.

Thorns — from the symbol of a broken creation in Genesis 3 to the odd sort of torture that ended up cornering Christ Himself — appear throughout the Bible. (Who knew?) This thematic repetition is part of the story, unpacked here.

The Gift of Thorns is new and I’ve yet to read it through. I can say without a doubt, though, that it could be a great tool for you or your group or church to move to a serious sort of discipleship, in the power of the Spirit, living out resurrection, even in this odd cultural moment of inordinate desire, consumerism, and secularization.

Professor Swaboda hosts the Slow Theology podcast with Dr. Nijay Gupta.

Practicing the Way: Be With Jesus / Become Like Him / Do as He Did John Mark Comer (Waterbrook) $26.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $20.80

The books of John Mark Comer are always among the best sellers we offer at the big collegiate event at Jubilee and this past February we sold out of this one. It was new, then — we had sent out our pre-orders a few weeks before — and there was a growing buzz. We were so happy that something so substantive was capturing the attention of these young adults.

Comer, as you may know, wrote Garden City (about work and rest and being fully human) and a best-seller called The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, among others. He is honest about his life and is a good communicator.  This book — which channels a bit of Dallas Willard, I guess I’d say about being transformed into Christ-likeness from the inside out — is upbeat but serious. There will be soon a video curriculum, even as there is now an online podcast about the invitation to Godly practices as explained in the book. This is a big deal and you shouldn’t miss it.

In Practicing the Way, John Mark Comer brilliantly shows us what it means to follow Jesus, and here is the best part: as you read, you will want nothing more than to be on Jesus’ heels. We are a disciple-less generation, and yet, walking this closely with Jesus is our way back to the purpose of life. This is one of the most important books I have read in a decade, and if we would all follow in this way, our lives would change and the world would change. Jennie Allen, author of Get Out of Your Head and Find Your People

This is part of what we mean when we talk about being Easter people, people of hope, people who live in the power of the resurrection — that the power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us and is touching the world, through us. It starts with small steps. How badly do you want this?

Learning to Disagree: The Surprising Path to Navigating Differences with Empathy and Respect John Inazu (Zondervan) $27.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $22.39

Okay, first this: John Inazu is a remarkable individual, a fine Christian man who is a professor of Law & Religion at Washington University. He’s smart and witty and very impressive, without being overly dramatic. A decade ago he wrote a scholarly work on the historic claim of freedom of religious assembly (Liberty’s Refuge on Yale University Press.) Later, he did a fairly academic, really great volume on pluralism (on the prestigious University of Chicago Press) that got him to Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan where he became good friends and partners-in-crime with the late Timothy Keller. They compiled a book together (and their two respective chapters were excellent) of people making a difference in the complex, secularizing world, letting their Christian lights shine in a way that is effective. (That was called Uncommon Ground: Living Faithfully in a World of Difference and included writers and artists and activists such as Lecrae, Kristen Deede Johnson, Sara Groves, Tish Harrison Warren, Rudy Carrasco, and more.) This brand new one is as popular and easy to read as the last one, but informed by his scholarly speciality about pluralism, equity, freedom for all.

And here’s the thing — it’s a real blast to read, arranged from the point of view of his role as a law professor, sharing stuff he teaches, reactions he gets from students, strategies he employs to get them thinking well, tools of the trade to nurture empathy. A good lawyer, he says, simply can’t just win arguments by touting facts and points. To be a good communicator one must listen, care, understand others. Holy smokes, who knew a memoir-esque account of a law prof could be so deeply gracious and kind and wise. And funny.

Learning to Disagree is quite practical and stands alongside many others these days on polarization and gracious communication, even if he surprises us by coming at it as he does. Of the others on this topic, this one is extraordinary. It is really well written — Shadi Hamid, a columnist for the Washington Post calls it “wonderful, quirky, beautifully written, and often quite funny” — and is not about winning, or even always trying to be persuasive and convincing (although that it part of it) but more foundational about “living with our deepest differences.” I suppose in a way, this is his on-the-ground, practical book for ordinary readers of his early Confident Pluralism.

Obviously we must not demonize people who think differently. Nor can we back down from taking stands, even in contrast to those who disagree with our moral convictions or policy positions. But, clearly, Inazu offers a better way, not demonizing and not compromising; he offers what decades ago Richard Mouw called “convicted civility.” It is easy to have convictions, Mouw often quipped, and easy to be polite. But to do both at the same time, to have strong convictions and be committed to civility? That’s the ticket.

And Inazu is thus far the best person showing us how it is done.

As Hamid continued in her rave review, “Unlike most books, this one might actually change how you argue, fight, love, and even hope.”

I’m not sure how much John talks about the resurrection, but if we want to show forth Christ’s Easter victory in Christ’s own way, we simply have to be captured by this bridge-building, creative way of “learning to disagree” and how to bear witness to God’s love in all things. As Habid noted, it might even help us learn to hope. Hooray. This is surely one of the great books of 2024.

Hopecasting: Finding, Keeping, and Sharing the Things Unseen Mark Oestreicher (IVP) $16.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $12.80  while supplies last

I loved this book when it first came out years ago and it never got much traction. It is out of print but we have a few and it seems like the right time to highlight it here, again.

Mark-O, as he used to be called, was a big name in evangelical youth ministry, emerging congregations that were grappling with cultural changes years ago, and was to live faithfully for Christ in the postmodern cultural context. He’s authored a number of books about mentoring youth and having fun instilling in kids a love for their churches.

In this stunning, helpful book — part visionary inspiration, part how-to guidebook and tool box — he wonders out loud why it is that some people seem so full of hope while others can hardly get out of bed, laden with apathy or anxiety? Hope is, clearly, elusive.

Not only is it hard to experience, it is hard to explain. What is hope? What sort of fresh perspective could a guy with a mid-life crisis have to offer? Drawing on everything from the music of David Crowder to the justice work against trafficking of IJM to the nuanced, fraught books of Walter Brueggemann, Oestreicher brings so much to our consciousness as we read. In what Jim Burns calls an “incredibly brilliant and very personal writing style” Mark-O tells some gut-wrenching stories and he does some good Bible stuff and he offers honest, hard-wrought words of true Kingdom hope.

Gary Haugen of IJM doesn’t endorse many books, even though he is an avid reader and globally recognized leader. Here is what he says — read it and see if this is something you need! Gary writes:

Mark Oestreicher offers deep encouragement for those of us who have ever struggled to cultivate transformative hope in hard places. Drawing on personal experience, he offers a practical path for pushing through fear and cynicism toward refreshing hope. I am grateful for the invitation Mark offers us here — an invitation into active, faithful confidence in the goodness of God. — Gary A. Haugen, president and CEO, International Justice Mission, author of Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian

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

You may recall how often I’ve highlighted this — and others like it. Since the victory of Christ over sin and Death indicates that the whole creation is being set free, then surely (surely!) ecological concern plays a hefty role in an Christian worldview worthy of the name. This book graciously makes that case, that creation care practices are simply a part of daily discipleship, it is who we are and what we do, as followers of the risen Lord of creation. It is as good a book on all of this as I’ve ever seen and can’t say enough.

Many whose other books are also brilliant and essential have chimed in. Norman Wirzba, Debra Rienstra, A.J. Swoboda, Ben Lowe, Jonathan Moor and others have said this is “a decisive case” that creation care is necessary, not optional, to faithful Christian living. It is a terrific book, inviting, thorough, poetic, wonder-full. What might happen if churches all over followed up the creation-healing message of the Bodily resurrection with a trajectory towards Earth Day, bearing witness that the Bible could be our primary ecological text and our discipleship will help us care for creation as a matter of faith and hope and love? This book could change everything.

Resurrection Matters: Church Renewal for Creation’s Sake Nurya Love Parish (Church Publishing) $14.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $11.96

Nurya Love Parish is an Episcopalian priest and serves at Plainsong Farm, a farm-based ministry that we appreciate up in Grand Rapids, MI. Given the fantastic title, I’m delighted to highlight the small and altogether lovely little book Resurrection Matters: Church Renewal for Creation’s Sake.

 I love this little volume which includes a bit about food and eating, gardens and fields, living joyfully amidst what Regan Sutterfield, notes as “our declining church and endangered earth.” Short and sweet, it’s a great little start and very highly recommended. Yes!

The Art of Living in Season: A Year of Reflections for Everyday Saints Sylvie Vanhoozer (IVP /formatio) $25.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $20.00

I sort of wish this book would have been released last fall as it starts — as a daily devotional arranged our the liturgical calander — in Advent. But it is brand new and so, so great, you can pick it up after Easter. As with other such year-long collections of readings, you can start at any point you’d like.

Another thing to know about it’s formate — it is richly illustrated with truly lovely botanical illustrations (of flowers and vegetables and gardens and the like.) Each chapter introduces what in her native Provence in southern France are called santons (“little saints” that one might see in a diversely peopled nativity scene.) Her own life has introduced her to many little saints and here she invites us to follow them not such as Christmas but throughout the year. This communion of little saints is beyond lovely, although it is quint and lovely, but a truly extraordinary way to invite us to daily, ordinary, discipleship.

Besides the fabulous full-color drawings the writing is beautifully crafted, what British poet Malcolm Guite and priest calls “tender, beautiful, and entirely original.”

Good thinkers and writers have zealously endorsed this new book — from Julie Canlis to Bobby Gross, Lancia Smith to Bill Edgar and more.  Read this fabulous blurb — what an amazing endorsement! Wow.

What then are we to do with this book so unlike any other? Shelve it all alone and give it pride of place? It is a work of art. Or might we slip it in a pocket to carry through the afternoon? Or better, allow ourselves to be carried by it through a calendar of seasons, instructed in the folkways of each one, in unexpected beauty and surprise? Might we allow this book to ask us questions, make us wonder, tell us new and ancient stories of other places, other times? And surely, if we listen, if we pay attention, we will see and learn. We will be charmed; we will be changed. For yes, this lovely book is just that fine. — Linda McCullough Moore, author of The Book of Not So Common Prayer

And this, from Vicar Sam Wells:

Sylvie Vanhoozer’s winsome and infectious compendium is about learning in practical and endearing ways to use our imaginations and behold Jesus becoming incarnate in the seasons of our days. But more profoundly, it is about letting our lives be transposed so we become characters in the story of God in Christ. Here you will find something for body, mind, and spirit to cluster round Christ’s earthy throne of grace. This book will make your soul grow. — Samuel Wells, vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, author Humbler Faith, Bigger God: Finding a Story to Live By

Pentecost: A Day of Power for All People Emilio Alvarez (IVP) $20.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00

This little hardback came out about this time last year when the Fullness of Time series (compiled and developed by Esau McCaulley) was just getting started. Dr. Esau McCaulley had just released Lent and, naturally, on the heels of Lent and Eastertide and Ascension we soon move to the church celebration of Pentecost.  Dr. Emilio Alvaraz (with a PhD from Fordham University) is well suited to unpack the liturgical meaning of this church season — he is the presiding bishop of the Union of Charismatic Orthodox Churches. He is also the provost for lifelong learning at Asbury Theological Seminary. All right, then, he’s our guy, eh?

Liturgical, renewal-minded, Orthodox, charismatic. You just don’t see all that together in one person that often and we are thrilled to remind you of this rich tradition where the church calendar’s commemoration of the day of Pentecost is taken seriously. It’s nice that he is familiar with Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox and Pentecostal faith traditions and helps us see the commonalities of our expressions of this season of the church calendar.

After a nice preface to the Fullness of Time series by Esau McCaulley, Dr. Alvarez offers a nice introduction to the power of Pentecost. And then he offers these four, short chapters:

  1. Pentecost: A Feast of Fifty Days, First Fruits, and Harvest
  2. Learning to Speak in Other Tongues: Pentecost and Its Multilingual, Communal Spirituality
  3. How Shall We Move? Rituals of Pentecost
  4. Pentecost Prayers, Hymns, and Scriptures

This volume offers a brilliant reflection on the meaning of the great feast of Pentecost. Alvarez masterfully weaves biblical and historical references to help readers see the powerful light that this feast brings to the world, namely the light of God’s manifest presence. Moreover, Alvarez’s anointed and beautiful writing creates a hunger for more of the divine light.  — Cheryl Bridges Johns, Director of the Pentecostal House of Study at United Theological Seminary author of Enchanting the Text: Discovering the Bible as Sacred, Dangerous, and Mysterious




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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Sadly, as of April 2024 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 isn’t good. It is 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 long 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 very much for understanding.

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. 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.

Some books about bearing the burdens of others in various areas of need – 20% OFF at Hearts & Minds

“Tears are subversive”

“Tears are subversive,” Walter Brueggemann taught in his mighty Prophetic Imagination. That is, the pathos experienced by the likes of Jeremiah and Jesus, who openly wept, is indicative of their ultimate hope that the status quo can be transformed. It seems Brueggemann is saying that those who have no pathos — literally, who are apathetic, or, in modern lingo, have no skin in the game — are essentially satisfied with how things are, so they obviously are not going to be prophetically imaginative. Nobody will work to change things if they don’t actually first mind the current arrangements. We need what Fred Buechner called “the ants in the pants of faith.”  In the words of Amanda Held Opelt, in a slightly different context, we need “holy unhappiness.” It’s okay, and maybe a mark of maturity.

There is a lot of sadness about to hit us during Holy Week. Apart from the tragedies of this world — you know the horrid list of wars and rumors of wars — there is, in our liturgical calendar, a time to seriously commemorate the betrayal and arrest, abuse and torture, execution and Holy Saturday darkness, of our Lord and Savior and Friend, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. It is not for the faint of heart, this classic, historic, Christian practice. There will be tears.

Our little adult education class this Lent has had a remarkable course on the Biblical texts of the Stations of the Cross. (Years ago, Pope John Paul, noting that some of the beloved Catholic “stations” were based on extra-biblical sources, put together what is called the Scriptural Stations of the Cross, with each station based on a Biblical episode, and we Presbyterians used that format.) A different teacher reflected each week on two or three of these painful Biblical narratives and — get this! — we invited folks from the church to offer an art piece for each station. Serious artists, professional graphic designers, and some with amateur skills in drawing, watercolors, oils, and more, came forward and shared how deeply meaningful (even if often emotionally hard) it was for them to intentionally engage these bloody stories. We’ve taken all fourteen pieces and arranged them in a room with a booklet of the texts and the artist’s statements for folks to ponder before and after services during Holy Week.

It has been a moving time for a few of us, at least, to attend to the suffering of our Lord and to reflect on all that implies — not only as he gives himself over to a hard fate willingly for us, but the notion that Christ suffers not only for us but with us. For some this idea has been revolutionary. Maybe even subversive.

Of course, this naturally leads to what should be obvious: if Christ Himself suffers with those who are hurting most, and we are in Him, one with Him, following closely in His ways, we, too, then, simply must find ourselves, in one way or another, with the hurting. Whether it is volunteering at a hospice care facility or offering reprieve to the parents of a sick child, whether it is standing with fearful immigrants (who candidate Trump recently called “animals”) or holding the hand of someone who lost a loved one, there are many ways to love God by serving others.

As an aside, for starters, I might invite you to consider books on this general theme; here are just some that quickly come to mind.

That an Iraqi war vet who was an enlisted Marine and an Army Chaplain, has recently done a set of reflections on the life of Jesus considered from a “trauma-informed” framework just might shake a few of us up: see his new Post-Traumatic Jesus: A Healing Gospel for the Wounded by David W. Peters (WJK; $19.00 // OUR SALE PRICE = $15.20.)


Please recall that our friend Mary McCampbell wrote a very good book on empathy and how that virtue can be kindled by reading fiction and taking in good songs and movies. It is called Imagining Our Neighbors as Ourselves: How Art Shapes Empathy (Fortress; $28.00 // OUR SALE PRICE = $22.40.)


I also reviewed not that long ago a very fine book by Emily Smith called The Science of the Good Samaritan: Thinking Bigger about Loving Our Neighbor Zondervan; $19.99 // OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99.) It is really fascinating, with a bit of brain-science, some good Bible study, and a refreshing call to care.


I adored the eloquent and fiesty invitation to a life of risky compassion by Catherine McNiel called Fearing Bravely: Risking Love for Our Neighbors, Strangers, and Enemies (NavPress; $16.99 // OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59.) We promoted her other great books and this one deserves a big thanks. Yes!


And who can forget the 1980s classic by Henri Nouwen, Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life which was co-written with Donald McNeill and Douglas Morrison (Image; $16.00 // OUR SALE PRICE = $12.80.) Nouwen taught a course on this a Yale, maybe only once, and this book emerged, bracingly, beautifully. A classic.


Pastor and missionary Terry Crist has a great new one which is very practical called Loving Samaritans: Radical Kindness in an Us vs Them World (Zondervan; $19.99.) It’s a message we need, eh? He’s good and I’m sure will help many learn kindness and grace; not a bad place to start, eh?

There is no shortage of powerful books to keep us motivated and wise in our nurturing of the kind of love that, inspired by Jesus Himself, suffers with others. Might you want to order one of these?

In our Wednesday night Zoom Bible study we have been studying the book of Galatians, Paul’s manifesto of freedom in relationship to his view of the law, Of the many, many thrilling verses, one stood out this past week: “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2.)

“Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2.)

Here are some excellent books briefly noted that might help us do just that. None are suggested as easy answers or that we who are sane and good have to “help” those who are needy. Don’t misunderstand; we commend caring presence and empathetic solidarity, not becoming a self-righteous do-gooder. Still, these are resources that might inform our minds to understand more and our expand hearts to care more properly and wisely. I hope these help us be companions for those with extra burdens.


Telling Stories in the Dark: Finding healing and Hope in Sharing Our Sadness, Grief, Trauma, and Pain Jeffrey Monroe (Reformed Journal Books) $21.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $17.59

I have written about this (and spoken about it in our new Hearts & Minds podcast) so I won’t say much. Monroe is the acclaimed author of the definitive book Reading Buechner and here he uses his writerly chops and pastoral skills to tell, in each chapter, the often horrific story of a person’s or family’s loss or suffering or grief. Then, he invites another author, counselor, theologian, writer, or pastor to interact with his telling of the tale and see what they think. Inevitably, the story alone is well worth the price of the book — some are about accidental death, racial trauma, suicide, mental health issues, and more — but the extra insight gleaned in conversation with another expert makes it brim with take-aways and practical insight for caring. The biggest take- aways: you are not alone and there is power in telling stories. What a book!

(We have some handsome hardcovers that we are selling at the paperback prices, by the way. Hooray.)

Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep Tish Harrison Warren (IVP) $22.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $17.60

Oh my, is it tiresome that I sometimes tell you about the same book over and over? I know we’ve highlighted this before in different lists and contexts but here, for now, it simply is one we must list. It is, truly, a must-read.

We’ve adored Tish since reading her extraordinary, excellent Liturgy of the Ordinary, one of my favorite books not only for it’s fine writing and solid perspective, but just for the darn clever format of the whole thing — she finds God’s presence throughout the day as she recalls stuff she learned in liturgy. From morning to night in a variety of ordinary experiences she remembers how worship informed her way of life.

This one is equally well written, with lots of personal stories and good citations from great books and keen spiritual insight. However the stories here are at times a bit dark — the book opens with her in the emergency room, bleeding, in the midst of a tragic miscarriage. All she can think of to do — what she just has to do, is read / pray from her Anglican Book of Common Prayer.

The evening compline prayer from the BCP is what gives this book structure as she unpacks various phrases from the beautiful, haunting, comforting prayer. It is, as she shares in this most vulnerable book, a book about praying at night, literally, but more, about the metaphor of darkness, praying in times of sadness, loss, greif, confusion. She has seen her share, and she honestly reminds us that this is, actually, fairly normal in a fallen world, and God understands our pain and sorrow.

Prayer in the Night is one of my favorite books and I recommend it often. I suggest it now as a window into a thoughtful young woman who learns to suffer well, and a priest who takes her evening prayers seriously. It is a gem for anyone who likes to read, and a lifeline for those who work or watch or weep.

A Day’s Journey: Stories of Hope and Death-Defying Joy Tim Keesee (Bethany House) $16.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59

The author, Tim Keesee, is a creative, global leader, a filmmaker and founder of Frontline Missions International, a ministry that advances the gospel in the world’s most difficult places. After years of crisscrossing the world, he got cancer, not once but twice, and these terminal diagnoses put his adventuresome travels to a halt.

Here, he picks up his pen to write “dispatches from a smaller, more intimate world.” He writes about ordinary folks who have suffered in, sadly, ordinary ways. A few of these are dramatic, people in dangerous lands beat for their faith. But many are just ordinary people facing sets-backs, chronic pain, hard questions. This is a fabulously written book, poignant and inspiring, modeling joy we can discover, even as we bear crosses. There is a very compelling foreword by Tim’s friend, Joni Eareckson Tada.

The Matter of Little Losses: Finding Grace to Grieve the Big (and Small) Things Rachel Marie Kang (Revell) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

I reviewed this already and now want to suggest it here, as a way to learn not only how to grieve what needs to be grieved yourself — do you recall a book from decades ago called Praying Our GoodByes? — but also as a tool to help you nurture a sense of being sensitive to others needs and pitfalls. It’s wise and well written; Kang also wrote Let There Be Art and is founder of The Fallow House. We are fans.

Here’s a very fun fact about this book: each chapter is inspired, or plays with the image and metaphor, or a flower. Small wounds can be like “paper cuts to the heart”, she says, but she arranged this compassionate book around stories, art, and nature scenes, with each chapter a different flowering plant. From “Rosemary for Rememberance” to “Camellia for Home” to “Azaleas for Suicide” to “Baby’s Breath for Matrescence”, this is a remarkable book. The first, major part includes “reflections on grief” while the last portion is under the rubric of “reflections for grief.”  Really nicely done.

Hopeful Lament: Tending our Grief Through Spiritual Practice Terra McDaniel (IVP) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

There has been a renaissance of books about lament in recent years and we are grateful. From A Sacred Sorrow: Reaching Out to God in the Lost Language of Lament by the great Michael Card (NavPress) to Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times by Soong-Chan Rah (IVP) to Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament (Crossway) by Mark Vroegop to You Can Talk to God Like That: The Surprising Power of Lament to Save Your Faith by Abby Norman (Broadleaf), there is something for every style or tone.

This new one, Hopeful Lament, is specifically about tending to our grief and it invites us to discover lament as a spiritual practice. In this sense, it “makes space for the powerful act of crying out before a loving God” which is followed by provoking questions to reflect upon, lists of embodied practices, and applications (even some for families with children.)  Grace Ji-Sun Kim says it “goes about the hard but transformative work of recognizing real pain and pursuing wholeness.”

Lament and sadness go together, but they are not the same thing. Terra McDaniel poignantly shows how Christian lament is about disciplined sadness, holy prayer, formative practices, and believing in the possibility of hope without rushing to joy prematurely, all because of Christ. We will all grieve, there is a way to learn to grieve well, and this is a faithful guide and companion. — Nijay K. Gupta, professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary, author of Tell Her Story


The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth Sam Quinones (Bloomsbury) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

I would hope you know Dreamland: The True tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic that came out to such acclaim in 2015. This follow up, years in the making, is stunning in its breath and moral passion, its good care about showing the horrors of our shift from OxyContin (thanks to merciless self-promotion to the tune of billions in profits by the Sackler-owned Purdue Pharma ) to heroin to various sorts and waves of meth to super deadly fentanyl. Quinones moves around in the conversation from legit (and less legit) science labs to Mexican drug cartels and meth factories, from those suffering from inevitable relapse (getting off these modern-day versions of the drugs is so much harder than with other addictions) to the history of the science of brain studies.What a wild, strange trip it is, and it is truly one of the very best nonfiction books I have read this year.

The Least of Us is one of the most moving, tragic, fascinating, compelling books of creative nonfiction I have read this year, up there with my top few favorites, ever, the very moving Boys in the Bunkhouse and Wasteland and Just Mercy and Factory Man and The Snakehead and At Home on an Unruly Planet. It’s a must-read, I think.

I should say more but I beg you to consider this wide-ranging, well-written, captivating study of sorrow and injustice, but also of hope and change, featuring ways some creative places are finding new ways to care for the least of these; the least of us. His storytelling about scenes of hope, care, recovery, and small steps towards community renewal are inspiring.

Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis Beth Macy (Back Bay Books) $19.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

Not unlike Sam Quinones, Beth Macy has poured her life into understanding and reporting on the various aspects of the complicated opioid crisis. I hope you have read her riveting Dopesick upon which the award-winning Netflix series was based. (And in this breathtaking follow-up, Raising Lazarus, she has a few brief allusions to the ways in which the notably evil Sackler family hassled her — as they did with the fearless writer Patrick Radden Keefe, they followed her with an ominous van and sent exceptionally threatening letters. Not that it stopped her on iota.)

If Sam Quinones is a fair-minded reporter who cares deeply about the crisis — a half a million deaths over a few years is surely a crisis, surpassing even the horrors of the Covid pandemic! — Macy is now a dogged, on-the-ground advocate, bearing witness to the unprecedented national health-care crisis. And that is what she insists that it is with failures in Medicaid and state’s institutional intransigence (or worse) and writes with righteous anger and notable verve, reporting on her travels in an underground of those doing life-saving, evidence-based, scientifically-proven harm mitigation such as needle exchanges and bus treatments. Some heroes — many themselves recovering from pain relief med addictions or bearing the memories of loved ones lost to overdoses — have dedicated years of their lives to reforms such as the proven efficacies of drug courts (instead of standard jail time) and other harm reduction plans.

Years of shame and criminalization and mass incarceration stemming mostly from Nixon and Reagan’s old, vicious (and racist) “War on Drugs” and, to some extent, the “just say no” banalities from 12-step programs (that may work with alcohol but less so with the modern designer drugs that impact the brain so very decisively), keep many from imagining more humane, fruitful, (and cost effective) ways to extend lifesaving care to the homeless and addicted, but their brave (and often civilly disobedient) moves have inspired Macy to write this “paean to the power of community activism.”

As we learned in both Dopesick and Dreamland, Macy and Quinones are excellent reporters, caring journalists, expert writers, and humane witnesses to one of the most awful episodes in American history, the almost out of nowhere mass addictions caused, knowingly, by Sackler-driven pushing of Oxycodone in places like West Virginia and rural Ohio and other working class communities where there were a lot of physical pain. That the drug was pushed with assurances of it not being addicting, and that the massive amounts of addictions lead quickly to heroin and then, quickly, to meth and then Fentanyl is an astonishing story, with millions of people made mad, crazed, homeless, helpless.

Quinones tells how all that happened better than anyone. Macy tells in passionate prose what people are doing about it, from protesting the unbelievable way the Sacklers drained billions upon billions from their company in egregious bankruptcy schemes and off-shore accounts (sometimes learning about the arcana of bankruptcy law in order to fight such injustices, she observes, “can be an act of love”) to how activists — often folks on the fringes of society, anyway — create new sorts of safe consumption sites and therapy centers and needle exchange programs, literally saving lives. I was moved to tears by some of the heroic, tireless, caring service provided by social workers and drug-abuse counselors describe in Raising Lazarus, especially a chapter called “Backburn.” It will humble you and give you faith in what some people are doing to help their fellow humans. As the book moved to its final chapters I was nearly shaking; Raising Lazarus is a book you really should read. — but hold on. It’s takes you to places I bet you’ve never been before.

Kudos for both The Least of Us and Raising Lazarus. For those that care about such things, it is curious, too, that both authors draw from Biblical images for their book titles. A lot of good Christian folks who do the messy work of helping others — unwrapping the smelling, half dead Lazarus, as it were — appear in these books, by the way, as do some doggedly rigid, narrow-minded, mean ones. Read these riveting, important big books to learn the difference.

From Beth Macy’s closing pages:

The opioid-litigation money is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. The Sacklers willfully created the opioid crisis. They shamelessly lied to the health care community and enlisted their aid in carrying out a murderous rampage that has victimized hundreds of thousands of people in this country.

History will judge them for that. History may forgive those who thought they’re doing the right thing but were misled by those they’d been trained to trust.

But how we respond to the horrors that have resulted will determine how we are judged. Best not to give up too quickly on a neighbor; best not to judge a stone too heavy to roll.

Only when endeavoring to help in the face of so much suffering can we bear witness to the miracle of raising Lazarus.

A Prayer for Orion: A Son’s Addiction and a Mother’s Love Katherine James (IVP) $16.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $12.80

When this first came out I raved about it, a memoir I couldn’t put down. We had met Katherine and our hearts went out to her and her husband, who worked for the campus ministry organization Cru. Open-hearted and gracious, they affirmed their kid’s passions, encouraged their artistic styles and hip music, gladly welcomed their edgy friends into their home, but had no idea that drug abuse was becoming a thing, right under their proverbial noses.

A Prayer for Orion is the exceptionally eloquent, altogether moving story of all that went down. In 2020 it was surely one of the best books I had read that year and I think it would be wise for many to read it now — you may have friends going through this but are too stuck in shame to admit it or to share the details of how their loved ones went off the rails.

As a parent, A Prayer for Orion nurtured such empathy in me and reminded me of the urgency of learning more about the phenomenon of drug abuse in suburban America. More generally it is also as “a meditation on the particular anguish of loving a wayward child and clinging a desperate trust into God’s providence through it all.”

This award winning book is very highly recommended for anyone wanting a glimpse into the lives of those hurting with this particular disorder.

Addiction Nation: What the Opioid Crisis Reveal About Us Timothy McMahon King (Herald Press) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

As the author boldly notes, “Opioids claim the lives of 115 people per day. One of them could have been me.”

You’ll have to read on to learn of King’s near-fatal illness that led his doctors to prescribe narcotics and how he ended up — like millions of others — quickly addicted in ways the doctors didn’t expect.  This, of course, could have led him down an awful road of designer drugs — chemical concoctions from Mexico, China, or Europe, or meth labs from down the street — but he had the ability to ask profound questions about the spiritual and moral nature of his addiction (and the companies complicit in creating the opioid epidemic) and various sorts of paths toward healing and recovery.

King is the owner of Vagabond Consulting and also works with the Center for Action and Contemplation; his writings have appeared in places as diverse as Christianity Today, Sojourners, ABC, the BBC, Time.

The many reviews of this have been exceptional, yet we’ve not sold it much at all. I hope you read these reviews and wonder if the possibility of studying this together at your church might find it worth thinking about.

African American communities suffered the infiltration of death-dealing heroin in the 1970s and the atom bomb of crack in the 1980s. Our cries rarely made it to the pages of the New York Times, and few black drug addicts ever got to tell their story, though they writhed with the same agony fleshed out in Addiction Nation. Timothy McMahan King does not share a white addiction story. His story reveals the indiscriminate terror of addiction in the lives of human beings. I want every American to read this book. I want each reader to understand the horror of addiction through the framework of my friend’s struggle. And after turning the last page, I pray each reader closes their eyes and imagines the diverse mosaic of America in the clutches of this beast. Maybe then we might all be set free. — Lisa Sharon Harper, The Very Good Gospel, Fortune, and president of Freedom Road

That Timothy McMahan King survived the clutches of opioid addiction is a miracle. That he lived to tell the harrowing tale is a gift to the rest of us. Everyone battles the beast of addiction, whether it is to substances or to some other form of unbridled consumption we’ve deemed somehow more socially acceptable. If we are to find our collective way out of addiction’s societal morass, we need a voice and vision such as King’s–steady-eyed and compassionate, rational and reasoned, full of hope and rooted in grace–to lead the way. At once sweeping and deeply personal in its scope, Addiction Nation is an essential resource for anyone touched by addiction, which is all of us. — Cathleen Falsani, award-winning religion journalist, author of Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace


I suppose we have nearly 40 books here in the store that could be considered about, for, or against, deconstruction, and we also have nearly that many about doubt, most that honor the age-old conundrum of holding faith while having doubts. Normal religious questioning and even doubt (which isn’t new, of course) and the sociological and/or theological shifts of moving from strict or toxic fundamentalism to a different sort of exvangelical worldview (as the new book by Sarah McCammon puts it) are different sorts of concerns, it seems.  Both can be hard to bear alone. Normal doubts should be given plenty of room and Schaeffer’s old adage about “honest answers for honest questions” seems helpful. For those radically deconstructing all manner of convictions and even truth itself, may seem overlapping, but is often a different sort of quandary and takes other sorts of replies and support. Here are a couple that couple that you might find interesting.

When Everything’s on Fire: Faith Forged from the Ashes Brian Zahnd (IVP) $22.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $17.60

I think this great book from just last year by the ever-creative, honest, innovative, and deeply Biblical thinker and pastor, Brian Zahnd, is one of the very best about holding on to faith in an age of unbelief. Whether it is the air we breathe of secularism, whether it is the often edgy pleasures of skepticism and cynicism, many of our peers — many of us! — have been shaken.

Zahn gives us room to tear down some of the walls of a rotting structure, but reminds us not to destroy the building. It is a story told personally and pastorally as he extends an “invitation to move beyond the crisis of faith toward the journey of reconstruction.” I have commended this book before and I suggest it now for anyone wanting to understand those who are hurting while in a season of doubt of deconstruction.  As Rich Villodas says, Zahnd has an “uncanny ability to help us navigate this present age.” Villodas recommends it for you if you are losing faith or if you want to help others hold on. The book is, by the way, among other things, an honest tribute to the beauty of Christ.

I believe the book you are holding now is one that truly only Brian Zahnd could write, and the precise book we needed him to write in this particular moment. His gift is clarity, and the way he focuses his prophetic vision here is so lucid, singular, and laser focused, it is almost blinding. Zahnd does not offer us certainty in uncertain times, which is always just a bad magic trick, anyway–he offers something much better: beauty. This is a flaming, scorchingly beautiful vision of faith in a world where faith has left many of us in the cold. — Jonathan Martin, author of The Road Away from God and How to Survive a Shipwreck

Brian Zahnd’s unique voice is neither ‘liberal’ nor ‘conservative.’ It is both cheekily irreverent and profoundly faithful. Above all, it is Christ-centered. He reminds me a bit of the late great William Stringfellow in his defiance of fashionable religious trends, and his fearless challenges to ‘monotheistic therapeutic deism.’ I just wish the church would listen to him more. Here’s your chance! — Fleming Rutledge, author of The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ and The Undoing of Death

Surprised by Doubt: How Disillusionment Can Invite Us Into A Deeper Faith Joshua Chatraw & Jack Carson (Brazos Press) $21.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $17.59

As noted, we have bunches of books on doubt. From an old classic (God in the Dark) by Os Guinness to the brief, recent Doubt by Adam Hamilton to the very honest guidebook by Brian McLaren, Faith After Doubt: Why Your Beliefs Stopped Working and What to Do About It, there is something for everyone.

Surprised by Doubt makes the case that doubt does not have to mean the end of Christian identity. Surely it doesn’t have to end in radical reconversion.

I like that they use the clear-headed metaphor from C.S. Lewis that Christianity is like a house and they invite us to move behind the “cramped attic of reactionary versions of the faith to explore the more spacious main floor of the house.” That is, they are inviting us to the faith’s classic structure.

I do not know if this book will ease the anguish of loved ones you know, but it is worth reading so you have this orientation under your belt. Highly recommended.

Reading Surprised by Doubt is like sitting in a comfortable room and enjoying a thoughtful conversation with generous and stimulating hosts. You leave feeling challenged, more knowledgeable, heard, and understood. The coffee is on. Come. And be sure to invite your friends. — Karen Swallow Prior, author of The Evangelical Imagination: How Stories, Images, and Metaphors Created a Culture in Crisis

For too long, doubt has wrongly been condemned, and the unfortunate reaction to the condemnation of doubt has been to celebrate it. Chatraw and Carson take a better approach, which is to address doubt, to seek to alleviate burdensome doubts, and to comfort in the midst of doubt. This is apologetics at its best, grounded not in the ‘right ideas,’ but in the person of Jesus, who is himself the Word, the Way, the Truth and the Life. This book will help you trust him. — Michael Wear, president of the Center for Christianity and Public Life; author of The Spirit of Our Politics

Deconstructing Your Faith Without Losing Yourself Angela J. Herrington (Eerdmans) $19.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

Did you know that there is a thing now called “deconstruction coaches”? Part counselor, part therapist, part spiritual director, these guides help folks think through their feelings and convictions about, often, toxic and harmful religious upbringings or hurtful, overly-rigid churches. Angela Herrington is such a coach and, man, she has heard a lot. She has hear of awful religious trauma and she has invited those harmed by bad religion to cultivate a healthy spirituality. (She has a BA in biblical studies, by the way, from Indiana Wesleyan and an MA in leadership from Wesley Seminary.) There is a swirl of deconstruction going on these days (and memoirs of those who have drifted or bolted from evangelical faith.) She has written here a book about healing religious trauma by “releasing harmful beliefs.” It has been called a “beautiful and comforting balm” and for those who are “wrestling, wondering, and wandering…”

A key to her approach is that whatever one comes to believe, it has to be your own call, your own deeply considered and held convictions (even if that is a principled sort of agnosticism, not being ready to settle on anything.) That is, one must be authentic — which has the feel of a very contemporary value, but also sounds like the invaluable freedom of conscience that the best of the Western social philosophies have always valued. I’m not sure if this book will be life-changing for everyone, but it is valuable piece of the puzzle, a good start towards wholeness and personal integrity as one realized they aren’t alone in the journey and that they can navigate “the nuances of the life-changing shifts in their worldview.”

Angela Herrington has tackled a triggering topic in a beautiful and compassionate way. Her approach empowers the reader to explore faith deconstruction at their own pace without shame, fear, or judgment and with no agenda other than authenticity.  –Tiffany Yecke Brooks, author of Gaslighted by God: Reconstructing a Disillusioned Faith

Hope in Times of Fear: The Resurrection and the Meaning of Easter Timothy Keller (Penguins) $17.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.60

I know you know that I very, very deeply respected (and usually agreed with, but not always) the late New York pastor and thinker, Timothy Keller. His blend of intellectual rigor and delightful popularization, his ability to write books for the masses that were literary and thoughtful, his open-mindedness about culture contexts even as he held to fairly standard forms of conservative Reformed theology are all assets in my view. Agree or not with all his details, his overall presence in the world of Christian writing in the last 25 years has been nothing short of a God-send. We were grateful to know him a bit and glad to have had the opportunity to serve his church from time to time with book displays, mail-orders, and the like.

Anyway, one of Tim’s great gifts was offering keen and clear gospel presentations in a way that made sense and were often compelling. Artists, scientists, politicos, theatre people, business guys, techies, medical leaders and disillusioned church drop-outs  have all come to vibrant and robust relationships with Christ and found new life in Christ’s church by listening to Keller or reading his stellar books on apologetics. (Or, his culturally savvy critiques of the false idols of our age, like his Counterfeit Gods.)

I think this is one of the best he has written, centering the questions of the truthfulness of Christianity with the question of whether it can provide viable hope. And that comes down to the questions of the implications that flow from the historicity of the bodily resurrection.

As it says on the back:

The resurrection can shape every aspect of our lives — our inner emotional lives, our relationships, our pursuit of justice, and our attitudes toward history and even death itself.

This is a great book to read after Easter-time, especially in a season when we are still struggling with illness and despair and hold a near-desperate longing for authentic hope. Whether you are struggling with doubt or deconstruction or whether you just need reassurance and reminders of the central truths of the gospel-centered life, this book can be a strong help. Thanks be to God.


Special Grace: Prayers and Reflections for Families with Special Needs Elena Evans (IVP) $16.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $12.80

One way to understand the unique foibles and challenges and joys and concerns of parents with children with special needs, as they say, is to dip into this marvelous collection of prayers and devotionals. There are prayers here, as I have said when I first highlighted it, for any number of very special concerns for parts of disabled or differently abled kids, from feeling a sense of loss about certain things to prayers for educational meetings and for medical consults and so on. This is a book that would surely be useful for anyone with family members with disabilities, and, I think, would be good for those who want to pray with authenticity for friends and loved ones with in these situations. This little book is poetic and strong, honest but not maudlin or sentimental. I hope you consider it. Maybe you should get it an pray the prayers for somebody you know…

Places I’ve Taken My Body: Essays Molly McCully Brown (Persia Books) $24.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.96

I think this luminous memoir, essays of the most thoughtful sort, is a treasure (and enjoyable read) and a tremendous example of a book to read to understand more about how those in wheelchairs live their lives. (Or at least how this woman lives her life.) This is a fruitful and generative collection of essays, so very well written, that alert many to the topic of understanding disabilities, clearly avoiding sentimentality or thinking that those with disabilities are essentially less, hurting, needy, which isn’t a good place to come alongside anyone. Rather, this “work of great humanity” is a look at “the poetry that sings beneath the everyday.”

I want to press this book into the hands of everyone I know. Writing from the locus of her own constantly changing, often intractable body, Molly McCully Brown captures the fullness of the human experience — desire, loss, flesh, faith, poetry, place, memory — with lyric compression and expansive grace. Reading these exquisite essays made me want to get out and do something with my own body — kneel at an altar and recite the Hail Mary, stub out a cigarette in Bologna, stand on a hilltop and shout expletives at the Trump administration. Which is to say, these are urgent, compelling essays that remind us how to be fully alive inside our own bodies, wherever we take them. — Jamie Quatro, author of “Fire Sermon” and “I Want to Show You More”

There is great, mature grace in this as she helps us — as Eliza Griswold puts it — “look long and hard at our own interior landscapes.” It may be “a wrenching addition to the literature of disability” (Kirkus Review) but is so much more.

Disability and the Church: A Vision for Diversity and Inclusion Lamar Hardwick (IVP) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

There are many books that offer a serious theology of disability and this author — a black pastor who self-identifies as neurodiverse (he used to call himself “The Autism Pastor”)  — is a lover of Jesus and a good writer who “weaves together his personal experience, the history of the church, and today’s much-needed conversation on diversity to lay a blueprint for inclusion in the local church.” He knows the barriers to leadership that those with disabilities face and knows how God’s inclusive grace points us to live more generously. This really is one of our favorite books that explore disabilities studies in Christian perspective, not too academic, but not merely a nice and inspiring story. There are practical steps and strategies to build better communities, too, so it is highly recommended. Start here.

His new one is a bit more serious and looks to be remarkably innovative. I’m excited to soon read his recent one, How Ableism Fuels Racism: Dismantling the Hierarchy of Bodies in the Church (Brazos; $19.99.) Wow.

Disability and Inclusive Communities Kevin Timpe (Calvin College Press) $10.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $8.79

This is a small book, in the series called “Calvin Shorts” where Calvin University professors write short introductions to topics they care deeply about, showing how their research and professing within higher education could have influence on the ground, in the churches, and for ordinary folks. From sports to urban renewal to immigration and more, these are fantastic little books, ideal for anyone who wants a solid, Christianly conceived, overview of a key topic. This “Shorts” one on disability issues is really superb. Don’t miss it.

Kevin Timpe teaches philosophy at Calvin, actually, and has been a visiting scholar or teacher at schools all over the world, from Oxford to Peking. He’s published tons of scholarly articles edited dozens of books. He is the founder and President of 22 Advocacy, which “engages in educational advocacy for students with disabilities in public schools.” He has spoken on disability themes to both academic and lay audiences, again, all over the world. He does so as a thoughtful, Christian scholar but also a parent. He knows what he’s talking about.

As it says on the back cover,

Disability and Inclusive Communities intends to help readers learn how to build communities that fully include people with disabilities. Often our social practices unintentionally exclude those with disabilities by making it difficult for them to fully participate in the community. These practices hurt those whom we exclude. But they are also bad for our communities as a whole…”

There are six short chapters of energetic writing making this a quick read for almost anyone and an ideal, meaty little book for adult ed classes, Sunday schools, book clubs, or Christian growth groups.


The Great Belonging: How Loneliness Leads us to Each Other Charlotte Donlon (Broadleaf) $16.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59

What a great little book this is, compact sized so nice to hold, with a really excellent style and aesthetic. Charlotte Donlon is a very smart thinker and a very good writer. This is a book I’d recommend to nearly anyone, almost anywhere. My friend Marlena Graves calls it “articulate, beautiful, and brooding…” That writer, theologian, and Episcopal priest Lauren Winner wrote the lovely forward might indicate the calibre of books this is.

Think about the title itself, for starters: the Great Belonging. Yes, loneliness has reached epidemic proportions, and, as it says on the back, “in an age of mobility and fraying civic life, we are all susceptible to its power.” So what is to be done? What does Donlon mean by a Great Belonging?

She is intentionally reframing the notion of loneliness and here “offers us a language for the disquiet within.” Or, as Ms Winner puts it, The Great Belonging “addresses loneliness as a companion.” And, as you would with any companion, it “inquires into loneliness — into loneliness’s history, and habits, and fears.” This extraordinary book will help you “get to know it better.”

Donlon has a multi-faceted approach, which is sensible, since loneliness touches all aspects of our lives. She thinks that once we come to know our loneliness better, it open us up to ourselves and the world (literally, to nature, and to culture.) She has a section about belonging to “our places” and another about belonging “through art.” Of course there is teaching about belonging to God. Short pieces move from “mother-daughter connections” or “coffee shop company” to “nature’s comfort” to “poems for the dead.” She has a chapter near the end called “Suffering, Resilience, and Our Hope for Shalom.”

This richly written book of thoughtful reflections is sure to help anyone who is lonely, and it is certainly wise for all of us to have at our disposal, to ponder, so we know how to share the burdens of others. Highly recommended.

Wait With Me: Meeting God in Loneliness Jason Gaboury (IVP) $16.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $12.80

When I first reviewed this I raved about it, taken, at first, by James K.A. Smith’s blurb insisting that this is “a poignant, wise, at times searing invitation.” Indeed. I recommend it widely because the “searing” narrative exposes us all to what so many are going through. In this case, Jason is, at first blush, an outwardly effective, happy, faithful, energetic campus ministry person, working for IVCF in the hustle and bustle of New York City. Alas, when his older, Catholic spiritual director said, simply, that loneliness is part of being human, Jason was taken aback. It was, indeed, how he felt.

Wait With Me is not a book that attempts to solve loneliness, but, rather, invites us to think of it as a call from God. As James Cheung puts it, “this book honestly and refreshingly invites us to stay with (our loneliness) and find Jesus in the spaces and places where we’d rather not be.”

Can this provide healing for others, maybe for yourself? It is an excellent, moving read, radical stuff, in a way, what Sharon Garlough Brown calls “both hope-filled and liberating.”

There are excellent study or reflection questions at the end of each of 11 chapters, each with one-word titles. This is an artful, impressive, deeply helpful book.

Made for People: Why We Drift into Loneliness and How to Fight for a Life of Friendship Justin Whitmel Earley (Zondervan) $19.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

Many readers will know Early from his best-selling book The Common Rule which invites us to manage a rhythm of life that includes forming habits each day, week, month, and setting up ways to stop doing certain things each day. His colorful charts and grids and diagrams make it a very fun book to read and very, very helpful. He’s a smart, sharp, guy — a hit at our Jubilee conference out in PIttsburgh — who knows deeply from personal experience how an unfettered life of ambition and busyness can be deadly.

After doing that book (and a companion volume designed for families called Habits of the Household) he shifted just a bit to write about what Kyle Idleman calls his “clarion call to covenant friendship.” To achieve that — the thrust of this moving book — requires, for starters, a commitment to vulnerability.

Loneliness has become a cultural epidemic (“effecting the health and happiness of millions.”) Not only are the habits of busyness and on-line obsessions to blame, since to forge healthy relationships we need to overcome our fear of being vulnerability, of being known, and our past pains sometimes stop of from develop the deep friendships we long for. Still, as he makes clear, we are made for people, for others, for relationships.

Happily, in recent years there have been many good books on friendship. This one offers deep friendships as an antidote to the epidemic of loneliness and offers “key habits that most a lifestyle of friendship” in contrast to the isolation that seems to be a rising mode of modern life. This offers insights for those wanting more meaningful and lasting relationships and, I think, could be the inspiration for some of us to reach out more intentionally to those who are isolated and alone. There are plenty of personal stories, lots of key take-aways, a few charts and sidebars in lovely colored ink, all rooted in a bunch of Biblical stories and sensible theological teachings. This is a really fine book, nicely done, upbeat and helpful. We highly recommend it.


Hurting yet Whole: Reconciling Body and Spirit in Chronic Pain and Illness Liuan Huska (IVP) $20.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00

We have on occasion listed other great memoirs and studies of chronic pain and ongoing illnesses, and the growing literature in the field (including some from overtly Christian perspectives) is heartening. So many have to cope with ongoing pain and hurt and sicknesses. From chronic lyme diseases to autoimmune disorders to long-haul Covid symptoms to just the discomfort of being human in real bodies, nearly everyone can benefit from some sustained reflection on this topic. There are those who need your help, or at least your awareness of what life might be like for them.

This is my favorite book on this topic, powerful and compelling, thoughtful and well-done. That a professor of anthropology at Wheaton College says it is “in the vein of Malcolm Gladwell or Andy Church” is cool, as he continues how multidisciplinary she is, fluent in so much, and then says, “If you have a body or know someone who does, this book is for you.” Alrightee then.

The Christian story speaks to our experience of pain and illness. In Jesus’ own embodiment, we see an embrace of the body and of all the discomfort and sufferings of being human. Huska shows that healing is not an escape from the limits of the body, but instead we become whole as souls in bodies and bodies with souls. As chronic pain forces us to pay attention to our vulnerability, we come to embrace the fullness of our broken yet beautiful bodies.

Again, in trying to highlight how this book invites us to a wholistic view of our very selves, and how our frustrating and sometimes agonizing pain can help honor that relationship between what some call “body” and “soul”, Karen Swallow Prior nicely notes that Huska “tenderly and humanely stitches these two parts of our humanity back together in this wise and lovely book.”

When God and Cancer Meet: True Stories of Hope and Healing Lynn Eib (Tyndale) $15.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $12.79

We certainly have many more than a dozen books on cancer at any given time and as the disease continues to ravage our nation we know that more spiritual help will be needed to help those with life-threatening illness; believe me, my own small brush with the invasion in my own body is disturbing. I can’t imagine those who cope with more serious diagnoses.

Still, with the many new resources and great books of various levels and sorts, we come back to this best-seller over and over. Not just because Lynn is a long, long friend and because all of the stories told in this book are from here in York County, Pennsylvania, but because, in the telling of the tales, she captures warmth, hope, faith, and a reminder that no matter what, God’s healing touch is deeper than whatever pit cancer puts us in.

I’ve told the story before: Lynne had serious cancer decades ago and her husband, a friend and local pastor, naturally had a prayer group at their church for her. When she went into remission (healed?) they kept it up. Eventually, her oncologist — himself a former Jewish person who had become a Christian — in Hanover Hospital asked her to work in his office as a prayer warrior, spiritual guide, faith-based counselor for any of his patients who wanted her friendly support. It may have been the first time in the nation when a doc hired a prayer-person and they ended up getting some notice for this nod to wholistic health. In any case, this remarkable book tells the stories of those she came to know. Some went into remission, some did not. Some lived, some did not. All in all, this book of powerful stories about cancer patients and their families shows how God can touch us all.

There is grit and detail in these stories, attesting to the emotions, physical set-backs, relational gifts, and struggles as folks trudge to test after test, surgeries, chemotherapies, radiation, and more.

Need a dose of real hope? Then here’s your prescription. When God & Cancer Meet will open your eyes to the promises of God in times of suffering and to the merciful God who made those promises. — Dave Dravecky, president and founder of Dave Dravecky’s Outreach of Hope

When God and Cancer Meet is a harbor of hope and a bounty of blessings for those devastated by a dreadful diagnosis.– Dale A. Matthews, M.D., author of The Faith Factor: Proof of the Power of Prayer

By the way, we have both of the handsome, faux-leather devotionals Lynn created. 50 Days of Hope: Daily Inspiration for Your Journey Through Cancer in its classy, lime-green cover, and the slightly bigger, deep blue, night-sky covered, Peace in the Face of Cancer.

Douglas Groothuis (IVP) $21.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $16.80

We have a lot of books about dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, few more powerful than this one. We have followed the work of Doug Groothuis (at Denver Seminary) for decades — he has written sharp critiques of eccentric new age worldviews, of odd-ball books about Jesus, about ways in which the church’s apologetics have too often been too little, too late, to a culture in spiritual crisis. His most recent book is the fascinating Philosophy in Seven Sentences.

One thing he knows better than most — as theologian, philosopher, apologist — is that things fall apart; we live in a broken and tragic world. The losses experienced by his wife (and himself, too) when his wife was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers, have been horrendous. Yet, despite the “unadorned truth” of it all, there is an astonishing sene of God’s presence. As his friend J.P. Moreland puts it,

There are no cheap Christian slogans, no slapping of Bible verses as a Band-Aid on a near-mortal wound, no simplistic happily-ever-after.

But, as Moreland continues:

But there is hope. Hope built on deep reflection bout Christianity, suffering, and the meaning of life.

For those who want a raw and honest expression of the agony of this situation, framed by a Christian thinker developing his own, urgent theodicy, this could be a great help.

Could I write as Doug Groothuis does here? Could I even begin to? I was profoundly humbled by this memoir. Philosophers are all about clear thinking, but the classroom is beggared by the anguish described here with such searing honesty, such poetic insight, such intense clarity, and such unconquerable hope. — Os Guinness, author of The Great Quest: Invitation to an Examined Life and a Sure Path to Meaning and Signals of Transcendence: Listening to the Promptings of Life


On Getting Out of Bed: The Burden & Gift of Living Alan Noble (IVP) $20.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00

We have highlighted this before, telling often how our friend Alan Noble — who has written serious and even witty books about culture, theology, faith, and public witness in this secular age — surprised us when he wrote in this vulnerable little volume about his own depression, struggles, and about how difficult normal human life can sometimes be. It is a personal essay, to be sure, but it seems nearly universal to me. We all, whether seriously struggling with depression, or just exhausted from the weight of the world, have a hard time facing things. There is, as he puts it, a burden in living.

And a gift, a great gift. He knows God made the world very good; he knows that sin and brokenness abound — we hurt others and others hurt us, we might say — and he has great hope in the restoring goodness of a God who cares. In all of this, we can open ourselves to others and be transformed. We can carry on, amidst great suffering.

I like Wes Hill’s insightful words about On Getting Out of Bed:

As a Christian who has suffered acute psychological pain and has often struggled to find Christian writers who understand and can help, I am truly grateful for this book. It is frank but doesn’t overshare; it gives pointed advice but doesn’t hector. Most of all, it points to the One who has gone into the deepest furnace of human anguish and has come out the other side, bearing us all in his wake. — Wesley Hill, author Spiritual Friendship, professor of New Testament at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan

Companions in the Darkness: Seven Saints Who Struggled with Depression and Doubt Diana Gruver (IVP) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

We have mentioned this often as it is such a refreshing book — painful and honest as the author tells her own struggles with depression — as it shares a bit of honest church history. Many of our great saints and church leaders and missionaries coped with serious depression and doubt. From Martin Luther to Martin Luther King, William Cowper to Mother Teresa, she fill us in and helps us realize we are not alone.

I like how the great Gerald Sittser describes this book, saying how she strikes such a fine tone — what a good job she did, and how good of Sittser to name it so well:

Diana Gruver has written a compelling book. In it she tells the stories of seven historical figures, some but not all household names, who suffered severe depression. Gruver does it just right, avoiding the many pitfalls that could have made the book excessively sentimental or judgmental. She lets the individuals describe their own experiences, refusing to subject them to modern clinical diagnosis. She chooses quotes from their writings that are so profound, human, and powerful that I kept tearing up, drawn into the nightmare of their condition. Her writing is clear and cogent and luminous. She tells their stories with sensitivity and compassion. She gives her subjects voices, as if letting them speak across the years to us. Her commentary and reflections along the way are full of hope. This is the kind of historical writing that is both responsible and moving. I will recommend this book to my friends. — Gerald L. Sittser, professor of theology at Whitworth University and author of A Grace Disguised

Darkness Is My Only Companion: A Christian Response to Mental Illness Kathryn Greene-McCreight (Brazos Press) $22.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $18.39

How many times have we suggested this as one of the very best books on the topic? Now in a revised and expanded edition, with blurbs on the back from scholars such as Stanley Hauerwas and Matthew Stanford (author of the excellent Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness), Darkness remains one of the essential books in this whole category. It offers her personal story of coping with her bi-polar disorder and, while painful at times, it is informative and some might say it is more than helpful, but healing. She writes well (as a pastor and Episcopal priest) and offers poignant and even prophetic insight about the nature of the mental health crisis today.

In this honest and poignant reflection Kathryn Greene-McCreight seeks to ‘witness to the working of the triune God in the pain of one mentally ill Christian.’ She does so beautifully, graciously guiding readers through the depths of depression and the cacophony of mania to the hard road of ‘reconstruction’–always relying on Scripture and the prayers and hymns of the church to give voice to her experience. This ‘extended prayer’ of a book is a gift to the church and to anyone who seeks to walk faithfully alongside someone with mental illness. — Warren Kinghorn, Duke University Medical Center and Duke Divinity School

A Quiet Mind to Suffer With: Mental Illness, Trauma, and the Death of Christ John Andrew Bryant (Herald Press) $19.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

Author John Andrew Bryant’s friend Caleb Musselman notes that “this book is oxygen for those desperate for air.” Yes, indeed — this is what a book can do, give you a change to breath!

And to know you are not alone.

A Quiet Mind to Suffer With is not a cheery, simple book to read; it is excellently written, creatively done, even, with a good eye not only to telling his own hard story, but to interspersing it with rich, solid, Biblical understandings about the story of Christ and his suffering. One reviewer called it “stunning” and is right in saying it is “so rare and so beautiful.”

John is sure that there is a relationship between his agony and Christ’s. He sets side by side his vivid telling of own mental breakdown, his journey to the psych ward, his long, slow, painful recovery and how Christ uses even “our agony and despair to turn us into servants and guests of the mercy offered in his gospel.”

This will help you understand the complexities of a mind that is somehow not right and, as with the opening words of this BookNotes, will help you relate our caring to the suffering of Jesus. As Bryant powerfully puts it, noting Christ’s torture and murder, “suffering has been made holy by Christ’s proximity to it.”




It is helpful if you tell us how you want us to ship your orders.

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.


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Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street  Dallastown  PA  17313

Sadly, as of March 2024 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 isn’t good. It is 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 long 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 very much for understanding. We know this is unusual, but it is our situation now.

We will keep you posted about future plans. We are eager to reopen. Please pray for us.

We are happily 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. We are very happy to help, so if you are in the area, do stop by. We love to see friends and customers, old and new.

We are happy to ship books anywhere. 

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

Holy Week and Easter books for kids, a new children’s bible by N.T. Wright, and more (old and new.) ALL 20% OFF

Here are some titles we have in stock here at the shop that you could order and we could send right away (at least while supplies last, in some cases.) We’re happy to help you put some inspiring books about the truest meaning of Easter into the Easter baskets of kiddos you know.

First a handful of titles for little ones about Easter-time, Jesus’s last week, his death and resurrection.

Then some random ones that will nicely provide happy hours in conversation about things that matter most. (Don’t miss the brand new children’s storybook Bible put together world-famous Biblical scholar, N.T. Wright!)

Even more than during Christmastime, when there are so many social and cultural distractions, Easter could be a time to talk with your loved ones — adults too! — about what this odd holiday, from an awful Friday called Good to the surprising laughter of resurrection, is all about. There are no simple formulas and nothing rote will quite do, so these books can help create different kinds of conversations that could last for months. It’s a good investment, I’d say.

If you don’t have children or grandchildren, I bet you know somebody who does, and who would appreciate a little gift. Or maybe you could donate some to a church or public library? In any case, these are great resources for stimulating good conversations.

Scroll to the bottom of the reviews to see the link to our secure order form where you can easily order. We’ll confirm your order promptly and send them out quickly. ALL BOOKS MENTIONED ARE 20% OFF.

(Of course you can always visit our website and enter “Easter” into the search engine of our archived BookNotes and find older titles we once recommended. If they are still in print, we may have those, too; the price may have changed but we’ll still do the 20% off. Don’t hesitate to ask us for whatever you are looking for. We are here to help.)

God’s Holy Darkness Sharei Green & Beckah Selnick, illustrated by Nikki Faison (Beaming Books) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

In the last BookNotes I mentioned a sermon by Rev. David Bisgrove of Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC, naming the need for lament and the sorrow, noting that the disciples who fell asleep on the night of Jesus’s arrest were “exhausted from sorrow.” He quoted, nicely, the beautifully-written Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor. He could have equally explained the value of Tish Harrison Warren’s exceptional Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep. Anyway, Lent is a time for such sober reflections and Holy Week, properly understood, is the most painful of our church year; some of us go to church to sit in the darkness.

This stunning book, as I noted in last year’s BookNotes review, is not really on Lent (Christ’s death is mentioned in one spread) but is a children’s intriguing reflection on the “beauty of God’s holy darkness.” It invites us into Biblical episodes of deep darkness (including when Jesus was born and when he died) and ends up deconstructing anti-Blackness in Christian theology. This is a good and beautiful book, moving and gentle and thought-provoking.

The King of Easter: Jesus Searches for All God’s Children Todd R. Hains, illustrated by Natasha Kennedy Lexham Press) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

We have raved about these “FatCat Books” before, so grateful for the handsome illustrations and the exceptionally wise, faithful telling of the Biblical story. This triumphant King of Easter stands alongside The King of Christmas, and shows how so many of the characters we meet in the New Testament are found and saved by Jesus. What fun, and how unexpected in an Easter book. This quick overview of stories children may have heard come together in the reality of the resurrection and the love of God behind it all. The King of Easter still seeks and saves the lost, and he is seeking each child today. Highly recommended.

Bare Tree and Little Wind: A Story for Holy Week Mitali Perkins, illustrated by Khoa Le (Waterbrook) $15.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $12.79

Last year we declared this as one of the most creative, interesting, artfully illustrated books about the Holy Week story. Perkins is an internationally-known and respected author of several YA books and her novelist’s eye gives her a nice way to tell this story. You may know her intriguing story for Christmas called Holy Night and Little Star and if you liked that, you’ll love this one.

The publisher has introduced us to the story this way:

Little Wind and the trees of Jerusalem can’t wait for the character called Real King to visit. But Little Wind is puzzled when the king doesn’t look how he expected. His wise friend Bare Tree helps him learn that sometimes strength is found in sacrifice, and new life can spring up even when all hope seems lost.

This story stands apart for its imagination, endearing characters, and how it weaves Old Testament imagery into Holy Week and the promise of Jesus’s triumphant return. While the youngest readers will connect to the curious Little Wind, older children and parents will appreciate the layers of meaning and Scriptural references in the story, making it a book families can enjoy together year after year.

Journey with Jesus — An Easter Story Ann Ingalls, illustrated by Steliyana Donna (Paraclete Press) $12.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $10.39

This is a lovely little book, ideal for those who enjoy rhyming cadences (but that retain some elegance.) This story starts with Palm Sunday and nicely shows and tells children about the events of Holy Week. I like the notion of “journey” here and may suggest to kids that we are in this with our Lord…

Ann Ingalls is known in the world of children’s books as she has written over sixty books for young readers. Pencil: A Story with a Point made the Banks Street Best Books list of 2020. J is for Jazz won the 2015 Annual American Graphic Design Award and the Ella Fitzgerald Foundation’s “A Book Just for Me!” as did her Little Piano Girl.

I like that she once quipped that, when given the choice between educating children or entertaining them with her writing, she “chooses to do both.”

Artist Steliyana Doneva studied graphic design at St. Cyril and St Methods University and lives in Sofia, Bulgaria.

10 Days of the Easter Story: A Family Experience Through the Feelings of Holy Week Josh & Christi Straub, illustrated by Angelika Scudamore (BHKids) $12.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $10.39

What a creative, interesting, useful book. The back cover exclaims that we can “Experience the Easter story in a whole new way!”

And that is what this creative family devotional attempts to do. From the happiness of Palm Sunday to the surprise at the Last Supper to the sadness at the cross (and of course, the joy at the empty tomb) — the week of Jesus’s death and resurrection was filled with emotion.This book helps the children of your family journey through the key moments of Holy Week by “encountering the emotions people felt during the week that changed the world.”

Each day offers a retelling of the biblical story, a prayer, family-time questions, and an exploration of that day’s emotion. With ideas for activities and pages to record family responses, this book will become a keepsake to be used year after year. They say it is for ages 5 to 12.

(For a very well-done board book for toddlers or pre-schoolers, by the way, that covers some of this same content, see Holy Week: An Emotions Primer in the wonderful Baby Believers series of board books created by Danielle Hitchen & Jessica Blanchard and published by Harvest House. It goes for $12.99 (OUR BOOKNOTES 20% OFF SALE PRICE = $10.39 and is designed simply for very little ones. What an idea!)


The Empty Tomb: A Story of Easter Brian Sibley, illustrated by Stephen Waterhouse (Lion Press) $8.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $7.19

We like having several relatively inexpensive paperback books, colorful and fun, and Biblically-faithful, that make a nice little thing to tuck in to an Easter basket. This small book is just great, easy-to-read as an engaging re-telling of the Easter story. The Empty Tomb, too, goes from Palm Sunday through the resurrection, and events after the resurrection, and up to Pentecost.

I love this little book from the UK, with just a bit of edge to the art, but mostly fairly realistic (and Jesus is not shown as a white European.) This is a fun, creative choice for ages 6 and up. Hooray.

(And don’t forget previously-listed, colorful paperbacks that are inexpensive, like the very cute A Very Happy Easter (for ages 2-4) by Tim Thornborough or the great The Easter Fix (for ages 3 – 5, maybe) by Steph Williams or the Zonderkiz “I Can Read” early reader (with art from “The Beginner’s Bible) called Jesus Saves the World for very new readers.

All of these are $4.99 each, while supplies last.)




My First Easter Storybook Board Book Laura Richie, illustrated by Ian Dale (David C. Cook) $8.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $7.19

Done on the imprint “Chasing Hope Press” this little volume is short and sweet, very nicely done, with a realistic tone, in a small board book format. Perhaps you know her My First Advent Storybook, which is very similar. Nice — although I suppose that since there is a page of text with each facing picture, it isn’t for infants…

The Art of Holy Week and Easter: Meditations on the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Sister Wendy Beckett (IVP) $17.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.60

This small hand-sized book is a companion to the very popular The Art of Lent and while it is not designed to be a children’s book and the reflections are themselves spiritually mature (and artistically informed) I am confident that some of this can be used with children and youth. There is no reason why we have to only offer children kiddie pictures. Try this.

The Art of Lent Sister Wendy Beckett (IVP) $17.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.60

We still have some of The Art of Lent, too, which has even more crisp photos of classic art. This is a great resource and you may want to have one around, year round. A real variety of art, as well.


Christ Among Us: Sculptures of Jesus Across the History of Art Jospeh Antenucci Becherer & Henry Martin Luttikhuizen (Eerdmans) $45.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $36.00

If you are ambitious, this oversized hardback is unique as it doesn’t offer pictures and commentary on paintings but on sculptures; it is one of the best books of it’s kind. I bet some kids would find this endlessly fascinating. Obviously, this isn’t designed for children, but having these kind of coffee table books around could be life-changing.

Joseph Antenucci Becherer is the director and curator of sculpture at the University of Notre Dame art museum. Formerly he was the founding director and curator of the sculpture program at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park and professor of art history at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Henry Martin Luttikhuizen is professor of art history emeritus at Calvin University. He has co-authored and co-edited several books on medieval and northern Renaissance art.


God’s Big Picture Bible Storybook – 140 Connecting Bible Stories of God’s Faithful Promises N. T. Wright, illustrated by Helena Perez Garcia (Tommy Nelson) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

If this isn’t the coolest thing for kids and families — heck, for anyone! — this season, I don’t know what is. We had heard Tom was doing a children’s Bible story book and, of course, we are thrilled. It is fantastic, just fabulous. I respect his Biblical insight and his theological worldview that shapes his deep understanding of the interconnectedness of Scriptural episodes, so this book which will amplify the unfolding nature of the drama is sure to be a fabulous resource for any family wanting to not only get the stories right, but the Story.

Often, after the telling of the stories the phrase “What else in God’s big story links up with this?” nicely appears and there are one or two little colorful circles with a word and a page number to show how those themes show up in other stories. I’m not saying it is like the old Thompson Chain Study Bible, but it sure is a very nice feature.

There are other children’s Bibles these days that show the interconnectedness of the overall biblical plot, and we are grateful. There are some that may have a more edgy sort of artistic appeal to young parents, or a higher quality of illustration, but this has fairly typical art for kids. More could be said about what might have been done better and while it may not be my choice for the best looking design, it is still quite engaging and good. The fabulous text is on the left of the spread and the vivid picture is on the right (with a hint of color or symbol or a bit of the picture spilling over just a bit onto the page of text, which is a nice, integrated touch.) For ages 6 to 10 or 11, I’d say, this is a fabulous new resource. Every church library should have one.

The Peace Table: A Storybook Bible Chrissie Muecke and others (Herald Press) $32.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $26.39

This hefty, lush, excellent children’s storybook Bible also has 140 interconnected Biblical stories and it is very intentional about sharing vital themes of Scripture — from the importance that we are made in God’s image to the truth that God’s table has room for us all. The Peace Table is, they say, “a comprehensive family storybook Bible that makes God’s presence and peace real to children of all ages.” Yes!!

The art is diverse, serious, often really excellent, allusive but not weird; there were more than 30 artists involved from around the globe. There are prayer prompts, questions, action ideas, and lots to discuss. Wow.

Twelve “peace paths” encourage children to explore the ways that peace themes are woven throughout the Old and New Testament. That the Mennonites and Brethren church folk who put this together “get” these themes more than some of us is obvious and it is a great, great, gift to the broader body of Christ, highlighting overt Bible teaching that many overlook or ignore. For those that know the remarkable Shine Bible, this has those interactive features and colorful design and more!  One of our favorite children’s Bible resources, for sure.

God’s Big Promises Bible Storybook Carl Laferton, illustrated by Jennifer Davison (The Good Book Company) $22.99   OUR SALE PRICE = $18.39

I trust Carl Laferton very much as he is the amazing, best-selling author of books like The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross (part of our very favorite Bible story series called “Tales That Tell the Truth.”) The art in those books is creative and fun and the telling of the tales — a gospel-entered orientation connecting God’s faithfulness in various stories that Laferton brilliantly weaves together — is second to none. We’re fans.

This, however, brings him using his colorful writing style walking us through the Biblical narrative, introducing young children to 92 key stories, with some emphasis on the one big story that runs throughout all of it— “the story of how God always keeps his promises.”

The volume is, in that sense, not unlike the above two, or the must-read Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. This one is closer to the size of that almost compact one (unlike the two large ones listed above.) It is a bit weighty, though, due to the thicker nice paper.

The artist is based in Northern Ireland and does a fine job in a pretty conventional way in which that children’s artists work these days. They have an almost cartoon/illustration style a la the best of Disney, say. I so appreciated the art of Catalina Echeverri who worked with Laferton before, but this is not that. It is vivid and media-aware kids will love it, I’m sure. It would make a great follow-up to Sally Lloyd Jones, I’d say.

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden  Kevin DeYoung, illustrated by Don Clark (Crossway) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

This was the extraordinary overview of the Bible, connecting the dots in one epic story, that preceded the massive and exceedingly hip The Biggest Story Bible Storybook ($34.99.) Don Clark’s ultra modern, schematic, choppy, way-cool art is breath-taking and so complex it bears many, many viewings, and it is so eye-catchingly unusual that we recommend starting with this smaller, less costly volume before deciding if you want the big, bone-fide storybook Bible by the same creative team. The Biggest Story is like dad DeYoung (he’s got a number of kids so knows what he’s doing) re-telling the big Bible story in overview fashion, using the Genesis 3:15 promise about crushing evil — theologians call it the protoevangelon about which the entire Bible is the outworking of the promised fulfillment — as the key motif. This is brilliant, vivid, well-told (even if the print is a bit small and even if we don’t really go back to the garden since the Bible’s end is in a new city.) What a promise and what a book.

Growing In God’s Love: A Story Bible Elizabeth F. Caldwell and Carol A. Wehrheim, editors (WJK) $25.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $20.00

I so respect the women who edited this — both experienced Christian educators who have worked with children their whole lives — and we list this whenever we are highlighted Bible resources for kids and families. This was created with a team of global artists who use a variety of styles, all quite nice (not overly sentimental or cute but nothing too odd) to compliment the engaging writing, the substance and the invitation to wonder.

This is a study Bible for kids, but it’s questions are not merely about content, but about engaging the story, entering it, wondering about it. I suppose it isn’t quite “Godly Play” but it does ask kids to ponder and be curious. In fact, the format is arranged nicely around “Hear, See, Act” and these reflection questions are fabulously generative. This will help you as you try to nurture the faith of the children in your life.

We have said before that this is ideal for children ages 4 – 8 but I think it could be useful for those who are bit older, too. The 150 Bible stories are divided into thirteen themes that relate to the lives of most children. The art is diverse, the assumptions about readers is never exclusive, and all kinds of families and readers are welcomed into the adventure. We are fond of this and glad for it’s keen awareness of the heart of the story: the revelations and works of a God who loves us.

Jesus Loves the Little Children Dallas & Amanda Jenkins, illustrated by Kristen Hendricks (David C. Cook) $16.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59

I believe the actual title of this slightly oversized (but not too thick) book is “The CHOSEN Presents.” If you are a fan of the show (and from all reasonable accounts, you should be) you may know the names of Amanda Jenkins and Kristen Hendricks. They are the primary creators of The Chosen’s extra content, including the devotionals that some of you have ordered from us. Dallas is the famous creator of the show and wrote the script that this great kid’s book is based on.

The art is whimsical but solid, creative and clever. The theme that Jesus loves children is so central — and revolutionary, actually! — and we can’t ever suggest too many books like this.

In this one-of-a-kind story, Jesus is doing carpentry with children, fishing with kids, bending down energetically to teach them, citing — get this! — Luke 4, his first sermon, a key text that too many children’s Bibles miss. At one point he calls them his students, and I wonder if that simple line from the Master might just be worth the whole price of this book. Does your child view themselves as a student of Jesus? Is he a beloved teacher? I really like this new, colorful, creative book.

Who Is Jesus? 40 Pictures to Share with Your Family Kate Hox, illustrated by Joe Hox (New Growth Press) $24.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.20

We’ve mentioned this before, but it seems so interesting and appropriate for this season, we had to tell you about it again. This is a classy collection of graphic art designs — more icons or graphics than pictures, I guess — of things that stand for stuff from the life and death of Jesus. Each item is used as a symbol to teach about the classic views of God, goodness, sin, brokenness, God’s promises, Christ’s death, redemption, hope, and more. It a way it offers a systematic theology of the story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. It’s pretty cool, some of it in an artful style that seems a bit retro, which is a cool vibe these days.

These word pictures bring the gospel to life and help our young ones come to know and love Jesus. Famous graphic designer John Hendrix (you should know his graphic biography of Bonhoeffer) says it is “a gorgeous delight… highly written and visually evocative.”

When I Go to Church I Belong Elrena Evans, illustrated by Rebecca Evans (IVP Kids) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

Oh my, I wish I would have had this book to sell to families so many years ago. It is right and good on several levels. Just the reminder that church is to be a safe place, a good gathering of extended family — my, this needs to be said, so children learn that their church family is comprised, truly, of siblings in Christ. The title says it all. Does your child know they belong that they are always welcome at church? This lovely book is a strong reminder. I am happy to announce it again, in case you missed our previous review.

Something else is going on in this wonderful, poignant book. You see, the story is about a child who is neurodiverse and realized that her congregational family accepts her uniquenesses as they are. She mentions feeling awkward with the sights and sounds (oh, the sounds) of church activities, from Sunday school to worship services to children’s programs. They make some accomodations. In a way, this is a delightful witness to a congregation that is aware of those with disabilities and tries hard not to isolate or alienate those who may not be typical. The subtitle on the back of this book is “Finding My Place in God’s Family as a Child with Special Needs.”

I get choked up when I come to the page where the little girl says, “Sometimes people look at me because I make a lot of noise. I know I’m still welcome.”

And, again, when she says, “When I got to church, I hear stories about God. Sometimes I understand the stores, and sometimes I don’t. I have lots and lots of things I want to say, but I need to be quiet so that other kids can listen. That’s hard.”

The note from the author at the end is good for caregivers and parents, and ends with Romans 12:4-5.

I really respect Elrena Evans (who has an MFA from Penn State, by the way.) She wrote the very useful Special Grace: Prayers and Reflection for Families with Special Needs which has as many prayers as any book I know for those with handicapped or disabled kids. I love the illustrations, too — they are all very well done, moving even, as you notice more stuff happening in the background scenes in nearly every page.

You may love giving this to a child for Easter, reminding them what the local church is all about. If you have children with special needs, anxieties, disabilities or whatever, this could be reassuring. I’m going to be honest, though, if you are still reading: it may be that your church is not so enabling, handicap accesible, or sensitive to making room for everybody, special needs and all. This could be a catalyst. Give it to your pastor, Christian educators, church leaders. We can make our faith communities more reflective of the generous spaces they are called to be. Right? I love this book. Kudos all.

Zion Learns to See  Terrence Lester & Zion Lester, illustrated by Subi Bosa (IVP Kids) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

What does it mean to live in a way I sometimes call “resurrectionary”? What sort of book could you give a child that invites next steps in the life of faith, showing how to care for others in a pretty hurting world?

I think this brand new book gives us a great clue, a kid’s book based on the remarkable adult writings of Terence Lester such as I See You: How Love Opens Our Eyes to Invisible People and When We Stand: The Power of Seeking Justice Together (that has a foreword by Father Gregory Boyle.) In this charming, remarkable book, young Zion sees a man degrade a homeless person and starts asking questions, learns from her dad to “really see” as God does, and to do something about the systemic problems that cause poverty in their community. This is sweet and radical, a great book to give to anyone who might have a heart for the poor, or who ought to. Highly recommended. And pick up Terence’s adult titles, too, while your at it.

Home Isabele Simler, illustrated by Vineet Lal (Eerdmans) $18.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.20

Do you know the fabulous Advent book called All Creation Waits: The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings (and a kids version, too) that shows how various animals hibernate? That becomes an obvious metaphor of waiting in the darkness, eager for new life. This book, Home, might be used in a similarly creative manner although it was not designed to be overtly religious. It is a contemporary look at many homes of many animals, and, as it says on the back, to be inspired by the “architectural wonders of the natural world.”

Step inside the dwellings of twenty-seven different animals, including “a hermit crab’s secondhand shell, an alpine marmot’s hay-line burrow, and a hummingbird’s tiny teacup of a nest.”

Home is done with enchanting poetry and intricately detailed art. (You may know Simler’s exquiste, award winning book about animals, birds, and flowers approaching evening called The Blue Hour.) There is plenty to observe, learn, and celebrate (including the Latin / scientific names) but the main teaching style is a poem about each habitat. This is fantastic, creative, colorful, and, without even knowing it, maybe, it offers us a theology of place. Home. Yes!

God’s Earth Is Something To Fight For Amy Houts, illustrated by Kris Smolskaya  (Sunbeam) $18.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

We love this book and you will too! It is Biblical, with lovely texts from Old and New Testaments, helping children learn that they are commanded by God to take care of the world. (“So let’s get to it!”) There are scientific facts and theological truths, and creative art and exciting action and it seems to me there is no other book that is so faithful in explaining God’s call and how we have to care enough to protect it. This is fun and compelling.

Amy Houts has written other fabulous early learning books and his Sunbeam imprint does top-notch work. For every book that is purchased, they donate another to a needy child. Hooray.

The Heart Who Wanted to Be Whole Beth Guckenberger, illustrated by Irina Miley (David C. Cook) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

I’m going to admit that I wasn’t, at first, fond of the artwork on the cover. That heart? The obvious band-aids? Not my style, but maybe your child will warm to it. It is sort of funny, and also sort of sad. Regardless, this story is not only precious, but vital, not only a tender illustration of the love of God and power of God’s love to heal, but a reminder that there are some who desperately need this message. Most of us, I suppose, have deep wounds, and some kids have been hurt, hurt badly, and their little hearts just ache. Without being maudlin or minimizing the pain, this book offers hope. I get choked up just thinking about it, don’t you?

I respect author Beth Guckenberger a lot — she is a friend of a dear friend of ours, who says nothing but the best of her wisdom and compassion and missional energy. (Her new adult book is entitled Warrior of Eden: How Curiosity and Questions Lead to Understanding God’s Call for Women.) In this tender, teacherly new one, a heart is broken and needs to be cared for.

The heart was created whole, she writes, “Solid. Happy. Free.” She writes about an “enemy” that has bad plans for the heart, who whispers lies that hurt us.

As it says on the back, “The Heart Who Wanted to Be Whole leads children to hear, know, and speak God’s truths loud and clear. This powerful story will remind us that no matter how hurtful the enemy’s lies are, God’s Word is stronger and He can make us whole.”

Beth has loved children from around the world and has written several books. She serves with Back2Back Ministries (an international orphan care organization.) Artist Irina Mileo was born in Tuscany, where she “creates imaginative, colorful worlds for children, just like the worlds that so inspired her as a child.” Nice, eh?

I’m guessing this is for ages 4 – 8 and it “encourages children to hear and speak God’s truths loud and clear.”

Bless Our Pets: Poems of Gratitude for our Animals Friends poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Lita Judge (Eerdmans) $18.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

If you have been around the world of children’s books for long (or if you like classic stuff) you may know the name of Lee Bennett Hopkins who lived from 1938 and died in 2019. He wrote and edited dozens of famous children’s books, and this may have been his last; kudos to Eerdmans for working with him in this honoring way. The brand new book is a collection of poems about various pets, one by Bennett Hopkins himself, and the others which he selected (including Lois Lowry and Rebecca Kai Doltish.)

The poems are said to be adorable and amusing and seem, perhaps, almost like prayers, as we give thanks for those who bark, purr, chitter, and slither.  Yep, there’s a snake and it is very cool.

The poems feature fourteen different animal companions, including a cat snoozing in her bed, a goldfish dancing in her bowl, and a gerbil nestling in an overall pocket. The artwork is absolutely lovely.

What Makes Us Human Victor D. O. Santos, illustrated by Anna Format (Eerdmans / UNESCO) $18.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

This is one of my favorite children’s picture books of the season, expertly done, creative, modern, a bit wild. The content is striking and even though it is not a direct study of the Biblical notion of the imago Dei, it is, nonetheless, asking one of the biggest questions humans can ask. (It was John Calvin who said the question about knowing God is deeply connected to the matter of knowing ourselves.) So this. Through God’s common grace for the common good, this kind of book may seem to some as secular, but with a bit of conversation, we can see that any child will learn much about the nature of we human beings.

What Makes Us Human is a project of UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) so is, as you’d expect, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural.

Some of the most renowned children’s writers and illustrators in the world have enthusiastic blurbs on the back, inviting us to consider this “riddle” which is full of “beautiful metaphors” and which can, in the words of Hyo-eun Kim (author of I Am the Subway) “open a vast window to understanding the world and ourselves.”

Here, by the way, is the answer this author gives and what the book is really about: language. Words. Stories. The power of human communication and our ability to connect is the glory of human language; however, some unique languages are fast disappearing. The allusive, creative questions asked with each interesting page are finally answered at the end and is then followed up with a good fact sheet as a word for older readers and parents and teachers to help explain the urgency of exploring the questions of human language, linguistics, and even endangered alphabets. Hooray for this.

Chasing God’s Glory Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young, illustrated by Alyssa De Asia (Waterbrook) $12.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $10.39

I may have highlighted this before as it is a lovely little book, great for ages 3 to 8, although the concept is one even adults should ponder. The primary girl in the book is Kayla and in the first pages she is waking up as her mama sings “Rise and shine, and give God the glory, glory” song that so many of us know. “Mama, what exactly is gory?” She asks.

The book follows the mom and her daughter as they discover that God’s glory is seen best in humans that are flourishing, in the beauty of the creation, in the goodness of the world as it was meant to be. Are there (in my words) signals of transcendence, rumors of glory, signs of life? You bet!  From sunrises to dancing, daffodils and green peppers to kind words and loving hugs all are reminders of God’s glory around us every day. Love it, love it, love it.

Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young is a self-described glory chaser, a storyteller and fine wordsmith. She writes for DaySpring’s (in)courage and has other books, podcasts and Bible studies. The illustrator, Ayssa De Asia is a Filipino designer based in Manila.

Song of the Seasons Glenys Nellist, illustrated by C. B. Canga (Paraclete Press) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

I adore the penmanship and tender, warm, and gentle mysticism of author Glenys Nellist, who was born and raised in Northern England (but now lives in Michigan.) Her books have been acclaimed and celebrated. This new one is well written, a lovely reflection on the four passing seasons. As it says on the back, we are invited to “Join all of creation in a song of praise to our Creator through the unique beauty of every season of the year.”

The opening page starts:

The earth sings God a brand-new song

From grass to mountain peak.

And if you pause and close your eyes

You’ll hear the seasons speak.

I don’t think the cover art fully captures the striking visual energy of this book, which focuses less on the children and more on the majestic landscapes and pastoral settings that are beautifully shown. Some of the scenes are really quite striking and will be sure to captivate little ones.

The Apostle’s Creed for All God’s Children Ben Myers, illustrated by Natasha Kennedy (Lexham Books) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

The Ten Commandments for All God’s Children Harold Senkbeil, illustrated by Natasha Kennedy (Lexham) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

The Lord’s Prayer: For All God’s Children Harold Senkbeil, illustrated by Natasha Kennedy (Lexham) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

At the start of this BookNotes list I suggested another FatCat Book, a line from Lexham that has this kitty (okay, a weighty feline) who shows up to guide the kid’s along the serious, good story. Besides the great Christmas and Easter titles, there are three others, children’s versions of the excellent, small hardbacks in their “Christian Essentials” series (such as Ben Myers’s The Apostles’ Creed: A Guide to the Ancient Catechism and Wes Hill’s The Lord’s Prayer: A Guide to Praying to Our Father.)

There is nothing like these on the market, as far as we know, and they are a perfect blend of whimsy and wonder, making them happily engaging, with exceptionally solid content and plenty of substance, making them very useful for ongoing Christian education and nurture; the stuff in the back for parents is very helpful. The art is fabulous, and the extra touches — full color flyleaves and such — make these delightful and lasting. Whether you realize these three topics were the basis of history catechism (see Luther, for instance) or not, we recommend them to you. Enjoy!

The Really Radical Book for Kids Champ Thornton, designed and illustrated by Scot McDonald (New Growth Press) $29.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $23.99

We have highlighted this before as a great book that will absorb your elementary age child for hours… it has lots of fun illustrations (art, graphics, photos, all on great sturdy paper) and is ideal for those who want just a little bit of goofy action with their Biblical learning. (The tag line is More Truth. More Fun.)

The first Radical Book for Kids was a blast and a big seller and this one is even better, with ideas about unusual foods to make, secret codes to break, fun crafts to try, and strange experiments. This helps kids encounter fresh ways to read the Bible and gives colorful pages full of “factual reasons to believe, stunning truths about God, and incredible examples of “radical” men and women who trusted Jesus in challenging times ” I’m suggesting ages 6 to 12, maybe. Scot McDonald is an award-winning graphic designer and his work makes this come alive.




It is helpful if you tell us how you want us to ship your orders.

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.


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Sadly, as of March 2024 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 isn’t good. It is 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 long 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 very much for understanding. We know this is unusual, but it is our situation now.

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. 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.

PRE-ORDER “Thriving on a Riff: Jazz and the Spiritual Life” by William Carter — but first, a review of the recent Square Halo Conference and a reminder of “Why Everything That Doesn’t Matter Matters So Much” by Peacock & Ashworth – 20% OFF

If you are hoping to pre-order Thriving on a Riff: Jazz and the Spiritual Life you can (if you want) scroll down to the lower portion of this BookNotes column to see my review of it. But first, I invite you to hear about a very impressive recent event of which I was a part… and consider another new book, too, that is very, very good.
I’m sitting with my laptop across my lap in the back of the exquisite Great Hall in the old and wonderful downtown Lancaster Trust Performing Arts Center, an old downtown bank repurposed wonderfully for the common good of the city by Lancaster Bible College. We have sold books there before and have heard concerts (including a memorable evening with Bill Mallonee) and lectures (from Esther Meek on epistemology to Wes Hill on friendship to Mako Fujimura on artful culture care) Folks here at the annual Square Halo conference are now filtering in from other workshops, conversations, art-making experiences. I did a well-received talk on why reading widely is important for Christian living and it was good to be preaching to the choir. In many ways, the creative folks gathered at this event — inspired by the hospitable, lovely, thoughtful grace of the late Leslie Bustard who helped run the show before her death not even a year ago — is my tribe. Beth was herself out of town, but she, too, would have loved this energetic coalition of various ages, denominations, and styles, from the most hipster young artists to buttoned down conservative clergy to graying old hippies, all united around a generous orthodoxy of faith (what a delight to know there were Catholic deacons and priests, Mennonites of various sorts, high church Anglicans and low church charismatics, local Methodists and Baptists from other states, with Reformed folks of all stripes from within the alphabet soup of Presbyterianism) gladly side by side wondering how to nurture and live out a sense, as the conference theme has it, of “creativity, collaboration, and community.”
And this year they approached those beautiful goals by inviting us to revisit (re-enter?) Narnia. Beside the lectures by folks that know the Chronicles so very well there was a Narnia play, a gallery display of art inspired by Narnia, original music inspired by Narnia — everything but Turkish Delight. It took us further up and further in.
There were a few workshops recorded live for podcasts (including one with Square Halo Books creative director Ned Bustard in conversation with North Carolinian Stephen Roach (author of the very nice Naming the Animals) and Coloradan Brian Brown (leader of the thoughtful Anselm Society and author of the excellent collection Why We Create.) There was a (nearly) graduate level seminar on C.S. Lewis as reader and writer by Corey Latta (author of C. S. Lewis and the Art of Writing: What the Essayist, Poet, Novelist, Literary Critic, Apologist, Memoirist, Theologian Teaches Us about the Life and Craft of Writing) and a delightfully inspired presentation by a New York City kindergarten teacher offering innovative picture books that could be used to enliven the imaginations of little ones and even community something about the mystery of the Holy Spirit. Did I mention I think this was surely my tribe, creative folks who care about the world, who gather in both joy and lament? You should come to next year’s Square Halo event!
The first plenary talk was by Rev. David Bisgrove who has been a long-time pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian in New York. He spoke movingly about the loss of his friend Tim Keller but also of the Square Halo leader, Leslie Bustard, inviting us all into the darkness and grief of our fallen world, even as Jesus himself invited his discipleship into that deep moment of doubt and dread in the garden before his arrest.
The newly released volume of Leslie’s poetry, essays, and CaringBridge pieces, Tiny Thoughts That I’ve Been Thinking was popular there and there was a workshop presented by friends and family to help folks engage with some of her “tiny thoughts.” (I couldn’t bear to attend it, thinking I would just weep through it all, so I missed it, but I share with you now that Leslie was honored well by her colleagues curating such a fine event.) 
Three keynote addresses were offered by the remarkable Lewis aficionado and scholar, Middlebury College prof and book lover, Matthew Dickerson; I mentioned his brand new Aslan’s Breath: Seeing the Holy Spirit in Narnia in the previous BookNotes announcing how really is good it is and how it should be greatly appreciated by the vast network of Lewis scholars, institutes, centers, reading groups. Spread the word about this new one — there is nothing like it.
After taking in a few other workshops with folks who know the Lewis oeuvre so well, such as the brilliant Corey Latta, author of C.S. Lewis and the Art of Writing, I’m again inspired to more graciously read — as Lewis would put it in Experiments in Criticism — in a way that “receives” a book, not merely “uses” it. Lewis famously noted that the first posture one must have when taking up a book is surrender. A receptive attitude was what I was so happy to see in this motley crew of faithful learners at the Square Halo event. Everybody I met was eager and open, trusting God for good stuff to happen, in spite of possible hardships, which was just a lovely mood to inhabit, kind of like going into a wardrobe and awaiting Spring.
Interestingly and perhaps providentially, Dickerson, too, among other things, highlighted lament in Narnia, reading beautiful passages when Alsan invites Shasta to “tell me your sorrows” and who weeps with Digory at the end of The Magician’s Nephew. Oh my, there was such rich, human, good, healing content.

And what a delight to hang out with so many interesting people — from Tom Becker who hosts the extraordinary Row House conversations in Lancaster (and wrote about his approach in Good Posture, a book we often recommend) to Matt Wheeler who has a CD inspired by the short stories of Wendell Berry to long-time H&M supporter Chris MacIntosh (who has the longest running rock radio show in America, out of a college station in New York, where he plays the very best of hard-to-find, artfully crafted, indie Christian rock) to many of the contributors to some of our favorite Square Halo anthologies, like the fabulous one about kid’s books (Wild Things and Castles in the Sky: A Guide to Choosing the Best Books for Children) or Ordinary Saints: Living Everyday Life to the Glory of God (where I have a chapter, by the way) or finding those who contributed to the fabulous It Was Good Making Art to the Glory of God and It Was Good: Making Music to the Glory of God. To connect faces and stories of people whose names we’ve seen in books is so nice. And — you know who you are — how rewarding and refreshing it was to catch up with old friends and valued customers.

Doing book announcements up front is always fun, and Ned invited me up to highlight titles by saying I have the “spiritual gift of bookselling.” (And, for the record, I was not the bookseller at this event — how odd being at a conference as an ordinary participant.) He was being half-funny, but there is something somewhat Holy Spirited, I think, about this vocation of telling people about books and authors, even here, too, for those who have ears to hear.

Something special sometimes happens when I’m up front, like when I was highlighting the marvelous third volume of the extraordinary Every Moment Holy liturgies/prayer books, by writer and editor Doug McKelvey, only to realize that he was in the room. He, too — along with circles of friends from places like Rabbit Room in Nashville or Laity Lodge in Texas or Jubilee in Pittsburgh — values the Square Halo team, both their publishing efforts and their conferences that offer theology and the arts and culture and friendship. And there he was.

Thanks for allowing me to bring this little glimpse of at least one of the nodes of our networks that become our Hearts & Minds bookish ecosystem. You may not know or even care much about these sorts of events or this particular batch of books and authors and readers. But I bet you “get it” and understand why Hearts & Minds appreciates these sorts of generous, gracious, book-loving gatherings. Maybe you know someone longing for this kind of interaction, longing more for honest faith in the real world, drawing on themes of “creativity, collaboration, and community.” The local church is important, of course, but we find that some of our readers are looking to connect with others behond their parochial faith communities — these BookNotes might even be a lifeline. We hope our suggestions somehow help.
I will name two books for you that might inspire you to dig deeper in this sort of creative, caring, Christian way of being in the world. Both are splendid, each in their own way. The first is available now, the second a pre-order, coming next month. 
Why Everything That Doesn’t Matter Matters So Much:The Way of Love in a World of Hurt Charlie Peacock & Andi Ashworth (Thomas Nelson) $19.99 //  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

First, I will remind you of a book that I had in our last BookNotes that is now available and which fits nicely into the Square Halo vibe. I refer you to my earlier comments about Why Everything That Doesn’t Matter Matters So Much by Charlie Peacock and Andi Ashworth. Ned and his late wife Leslie are named in the acknowledgments page of this new book (right there near Bono’s name, I like to point out) and Square Halo is listed in a short list of resources in the back, so, truly, this book is a great read for anyone who cares about the sorts of stuff — “How to Live Like a Narnian” as one workshop presenter put it — explored at the Square Halo gathering.
Charlie is a music performer and producer and he and his wife, Andi, have created spaces to encourage artists and culture-makers in several cities throughout North America. They both have written good, good books, and this updates their hard-earned insights about living out of a consistently Christian world and life view, embodying life-giving practices for the common good, particularly by showing love in a world that is so desperate for decency and kindness and grace. This is their wisdom, for many sides of a rich, well-lived life.

Why Everything That Doesn’t Matter Matters… is warm and kind — the chapters seem to be like letters to us, dear readers — from either Charlie or Andi. Some are indeed about the vocation of being an artist. One is for musicians and music lovers, but an early one gets practical and for us all, called “Why Bother Learning to Cook.” It is written “to those who hunger and thirst for something more.” There is a lovely piece about shelter (for those who “long to love a place and use it well) and a later chapter on being hospitable — “Havens of Grace”, as they put it. Most BookNotes readers, I trust, will really appreciate the wisdom about being a concerned citizen, and another good bit of sanctified common sense about “Talking about Jesus in the Public Square” (which is good for any public speaker or writer, of any kind. Do you blog or Substack or keep a journal, even? You need that chapter.) Lest you think this is mostly about public theology and artful, creative, culture-making there are really practical chapters, too, that just sing with stories and wisdom. There’s stuff about “Knowing When It’s Time to Move” (subtitled: “To Those Considering a Big Change”) and a beautiful chapter (the first I read, actually) for the sick and suffering. There’s a good chapter on marriage, one on parenting (although it is good for any teacher of students — that chapter is called “The Cathedral of God’s Hands”) and there is one called “Soil and Soul” which, like most of the book, is really for “dreamers, beautiful and broken, wonderful and weary.”

I so wish Andi A. and Charlie P. could have joined their friends at Square Halo in Lancaster: their savvy wisdom about culture-making, artcraft, and public life, and the basic stuff about finding time to write, how to care well in home-making, and otherwise being, as they put it in the first chapter, “on the lookout for redemption,” would have fit right in. Andi was nearly a mentor to Leslie, and a blurb of Charlie’s about the new book of Leslie’s “tiny thoughts” was shown on a screen throughout the event. Whether you know this gang or feel connected to them or not, I sincerely invite you to get this very fine book.

For what it is worth, they’ve been on podcasts and online venues often, but you could check them out at the upcoming Trinity Forum event, Friday, March 22nd, staring at 1:30 EST, which we are co-sponsoring. Please, please, consider sharing this info; Trinity Forum’s Cherie Harder is an excellent host and wise conversation partner making their webinars among the best out there. It’s going to be a really great hour.
Learn more and pre-register here.
Thriving on a Riff: Jazz and the Spiritual Life William G. Carter (Broadleaf) $26.99


Next, I will commend to you this forthcoming one, one of my very favorite recent reads, a book that is due out in mid-April. You can send us a pre-order now and we will send it as soon as it arrives next month — which you’ll get at our 20% BookNotes discount. 

I really think you should consider pre-ordering my friend Rev. William Carter’s forthcoming book which in his own way as a mainline preacher and jazz performer, digs deep into the soil of innovation and creativity, asking how jazz music can help us — literally, I think, but also as a metaphor — understand our life and times, maturing in a more faithful sort of improvisation of our faith and discipleship. I’ll bet you’ve rarely read anything like it.
This excellent book uses in the title the language of spirituality but it is not mostly about prayer or solitude, quiet Christian disciplines of silence or fasting. Sure, as a pastor Bill knows well the practices explored and taught in books like Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline or Ruth Haley Barton’s Sacred Rhythms or Marjorie Thompson’s Soul Feast. But when this book invites us to a jazz-inspired spirituality it means a sort of living in the world, a way of life infused by the music of faith, an integral sort of daily discipleship. Bill admits in the opening pages that “spirituality is a slippery term.” Yes, our interior life where we have an intimate sort of relationship with God is part of this, but discipleship and Christian faithfulness is much, much more. For this author it is akin (as he beautifully describes) to the awakened sense of belonging experienced by Thomas Merton in his famous description of his experience at a busy intersection in Louisville, and a sense of being alive, “completely alive.”
And Thriving on a Riff helps open us up to this encounter with God and life and the world in entertaining, informative, and fascinating ways.
The music of jazz, Reverend Carter notes, is both intellectually complex and often deeply emotional. “Jazz connects the head and heart”, he says, “suggesting a more inclusive way to plumb the depths of heaven and earth. A creative imagination unites with tapping feet. It’s both-and.” I love that.

And, this:

“If jazz is spiritual, it does not lift us off the ground, detaching us from the hard realities of life. The music’s spiritual power is a holy animation in the thick of real life.”

Carter is right on, showing that he is reflecting on real life. (As Charlie Peacock, himself a jazz player, puts it, “a new way to be human.”) Carter writes that he is talking about:

“a spiritual life. Not merely faith. Neither is it religion, which suggests venerable altars with lots of behavioral rules. Faith and religion have shaped my identity and moral foundation, but music invites us to go deeper into the Mystery that we never quite capture in religious language.”
Let me tell you about three things this great new Thriving book does. 
First it actually teaches — in a terrific, enthusiastic style that keeps you turning the pages to hear his next story — a whole lot about the history and importance of American jazz. There are several books like this, including the must-read 2022 release by William Edgar (another Reformed thinker who plays a mean bit of jazz on the keys) A Supreme Love: The Music of Jazz and the Hope of the Gospel, and, say, various theological studies of certain artists and their work, like the vivid book on Coltrane by Jamie Howison called God’s Mind in That Music: Theological Explorations Through the Music of John Coltrane. But Thriving on a Riff is the best I’ve read. It is simply a must for musicians or music fans, and jazz-lovers will surely dig it. A few of the characters and stories may be well known, but most of it was new to me, and really exciting. Even those of us who are not full fans, or who only dabble (or don’t at all!) in the genre, will find it really, really helpful.
I know this is sort of teacherly of me — remember that spiritual gift of bookselling? — but it seems to me that this is one of the topics where everybody should know something, and this is the most painless way to learn a bit about the roots and rise and philosophy of the art form. Jazz really is important, especially in American music, and you have surely heard bits and pieces here and there about how significant it all is. (Maybe you’ve appreciated Ken Burn’s 2021 documentary work on this, just like he did that amazingly compelling series on country music.) This book will help bring you up to speed. I promise you you won’t regret it. 
Secondly, it shows just how jazz works, and this is really interesting and really, really valuable. Others have said it, but Bill knows this stuff in his gut, in his bones, and plays it regularly as a working musician; jazz does things like celebrating improvisation. It is exceptionally collaborative. It often works in the minor key. If the book was only about those three practices, so to speak, habits that have to be learned and lived, it would make Thriving on a Riff a great and beneficial read, but he covers more. That he explores these sorts of jazz-stylings, and applies them to living in God’s good but broken world, well, it’s nearly genius. It would be a good book if it was only to hear Bill explain how these things are invaluable for healthy and effective living, but he helps Christians, especially, embrace  these kinds of things we get from jazz, as keys to our discipleship. 
(I do think, by the way, that even though this is an overtly Christian book with overtly theological themes  — Bill is a Presbyterian (USA) pastor and really good preacher — it would be appreciated by nearly any sort of reader, of those with other faiths or no faith. Geesh — this is, again, about being human, awake, alive.  It is a warm and interesting book and even in those parts where he relates jazz to Christian growth, he is, like the best jazz musicians, open-minded and open-hearted not always on the nose, but telling it slant.
So, yes, this is about Christian formation, but the book is for anyone even vaguely interested in a creative exploration of how jazz can help us live a more intense and creative life. For instance, there is an excellent chapter called “Broken But Beautiful — What It Means to Be Human” that, well, is pretty darn universal, starting off as it does, with a certain song that pierced his heart after having broken up with a young woman in college. He has a lovely little section about friendship and generosity with a beautiful story of Wynton Marsalis’s band going out of their way to visit an older jazz hero (Clark Terry) in the hospital. Nobody is going to forget that story or fail to be touched by it. 
Thirdly, besides Thriving on a Riff,  being a fine introduction to the history and philosophy of jazz in it various sub-genres and styles, and besides being a guide to seeing how their beloved themes of things like improvisation can be harnessed for fruitful, faithful living, there is another layer of stuff happening here. Like most jazz, I gather, not unlike the best classical music or the best prog rock, there is often more going on than the immediate melody. So, like most generative and creative authors, there are more than one or two simple “lessons” of this book. Hooray!
It becomes obvious that Bill knows that for a follower of Jesus, who himself stood in a long line of Hebrew prophets, there is no authentic Christian life that doesn’t involve in some way standing for justice, for mercy, for social and cultural reformation. We are in a world in need of repair and while this book is what Don Saliers calls “a love song to the art and genius of improvisation” and it invites us to ponder about how we can be inspired by music, it also shows that a life that comes alive is also a life that wants to make a difference, to help heal the wounds of our world. Is it an accident that much of this jazz genre, and some of the vivid stories told in this book, are about the black experience in America?
One doesn’t have to study Howard Thurman or Martin King or Cornel West to appreciate that there is something important about race and justice that black artists have to tell us. (Do you recall the book we highlighted a while back by Claude Atcho called Reading Black Books: How African American Literature Can Make Our Faith More Whole and Just?) Bill does that for us here, explaining powerful songs, from the moving pages (“Lamenting on the Horn”) about Coltrane’s 1961 composition “Alabama” about the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham to the importance of the 1939 song “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday. And, man, I was glad to learn about Charles Mingus’s “Fables of Faubus”, which was a critique of the shameful racism of the then-governor of Arkansas who was famously holding up integration in a high school in Little Rock. I didn’t know that.
I think Thriving on a Riff can help you find your purpose, your place in God’s choir, and hopefully inspire you to be more deeply aware of — and perhaps feel — the sorrows and injustices in our world. Want to make the world a better place? This book, perhaps surprisingly to some, can help. Carter tells us early in the book that “the dissonant tones offer a prophetic judge toward justice.”
There is even more here in this page-turner of a fabulous book. Bill talks about his friendship with jazz legend Dave Brubeck. He tells of clubs and bars in which he and his Presbybop band have played. He talks about being a preacher and pastor, telling stories of some wild innovations using jazz in churches. He writes about King David, about Vince Guaraldi, about a working jazz musician (who played in the band of Harry Connick, Jr.)  whose child was murdered at Sandy Hook and some fun stories of his own music ministry. He even has some free verse poetry which works very well between the chapters. Thriving on a Riff is the real deal, learned and passionate, hard-hitting and uplifting from a guy born to “pray the piano.” Order it today.
If you consider yourself to be ‘spiritual,’ and if you have any interest in music–especially the sublime and moving genre of jazz–you must read this masterpiece of a book. Bill Carter has lived at the intersection of Spirit and Jazz for years, and now he shares captivating stories and illuminating insights that can challenge and form our faith in deeper, richer, more melodious ways. Bravo, Maestro! —  The Rev. Peter M. Wallace, emeritus host of the Day1 radio/podcast program.

The stories, insightful connections to theological thought and spiritual experience, and unabashed passion of Thriving on a Riff will be memorable music to your soul. Take your time and savor; there is vibrant reflective inspiration here. Moreover, I take personal joy in knowing that this fine, meaningful offering adds more fuel to the fire of a belief I have held for many years: Jazz is the exclamation point to the Resurrection! — Kirk Byron Jones, author of The Jazz of Preaching: How to Preach with Great Freedom and Joy




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The weight and destination of your package varies but you can use this as a quick, general guide:

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  • 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.
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Sadly, as of March 2024 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 isn’t good. It is 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 long 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 very much for understanding.

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. 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.

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Four Soon-to-Be-Released Books to PRE-ORDER (Charlie Peacock & Andi Ashworth, Courtney Ellis, Marilynne Robinson, N.T. Wright & Michael Bird) AND 12 brand new ones — 20% OFF


Of course, we can take pre-orders for anything forthcoming, anytime, so don’t hesitate to let us know what you want and we’ll set you up. For now, here are four that are soon to be released that we are very eager to promote a bit early. Let us know how we can help.

Scroll down to the bottom of the post to find the order links. Thanks.

Why Everything That Doesn’t Matter, Matters So Much: The Way of Love in a World of Hurt  Charlie Peacock & Andi Ashworth (Thomas Nelson) $19.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99  NOT YET RELEASED / PRE-ORDER – releasing March 12, 2024

In other words, folks, this is coming out in less than a week!  We are so jazzed about this — it has been years since Charlie or Andi have released new books and they are both remarkable thinkers, creatives and organizers, networking folks to create culture, to make beauty, to do good work. They have a great passion which they have stewarded for decades about helping to heal the woundedness of the world, the world God so loves but is in need of repair. This book with an allusive title tells some of that story.

You may know Charlie as a former hippy bohemian who became a Christian in the early 70s, I gather, and made a huge mark in the edgier sounds of the fringes of contemporary Christian music in the 80s. (He was in new wave band Vector, as I recall, produced the 77s, mentored Switchfoot in their earliest days, and started a cool, alt-CCM label that released the work of Sarah Masen —  partner of David Dark, in fact.) He wrote a book decades ago about the problem of sequestering faith-informed music into its own sub-culture and safe silos (even though he reluctantly played a role in that, trying to bear witness to goodness and artfulness from the inside, even producing the likes of CCM icon Amy Grant.) In recent years he returned to jazz and has won all sorts of awards for producing some fairly important indie rock and mainstream bands. He has worked with the One Campaign with his friend Bono. He is, as you can imagine, a hero to many of us and a decent and intelligent Christian.

Andi, too. She has effectively served as a colleague and partner to many of Charlie’s wildest dreams —not least of which was their founding of and directing Art House in a few US cities, a place and space to encourage young artists and musicians, bringing in folks like Steve Garber to nourish a integrated vision of vocation among the makers. She has been a writer and thinker and behind-the-scenes care-giver for years and her work has been tireless and kind. She wrote one of our favorite little books ever, the remarkable volume on home-making called Real Love for Real Life: The Art and Work of Caring which was picked up and re-issued years ago by the lovely folks at Rabbit Room.

Here, from what I gather (I haven’t seen one yet) this is their manifesto about living a life of passion, conviction, holy worldliness, if you will, living out of a faith where everything matters. Or maybe none if it matters that much, if not done in love. I am sure there will be plenty of energizing wisdom about culture-making and the like, but this bit about doing it in and for love is going to be not only striking but ultimately pretty exceptional.

And, it will be about sorrow and hardship, about making a joyful contribution to our hurting culture even if what is most needed is permission to lament and guidance into mature expression of sorrow. They know a thing about personal hurts and who among us doesn’t grieve about the nature of our politics, the racial injustices, the idols that esteem the rich and mighty while serious artists and helpful folks languish? There’s plenty of pain in the world and they know it. Their insight about what to do about it is going to be exceptional, I believe. I can’t wait to see it, any day now.

We’ve got books on aesthetics and the arts, or the creative life and making a difference in various social scenes. But in and through love? In the face of great brokenness? Yes, please. This is going to be one of the most important books in religious publishing of 2024. I am confident that just under a year from now I’ll be awarding it a Best Book of the Year award. I bet you will, too. Pre-order it now and get in on the conversation.

Looking Up: A Birder’s Guide to Hope Through Grief  Courtney Ellis (IVP) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40  NOT YET RELEASED / PRE-ORDER  – due very soon

I have not seen this yet but we’ve heard that we will have it any day (even though the formal release date is in April.) We’re glad we will get to see it soon as it is going to be very special, getting some buzz, we hope, on social media. Ms Ellis is a gem of an author who we admire much. This book is, as the title clearly says, about processing grief through the curious hobby of bird-watching. Writing well about birding is a thing these days; we just got into the store the lovely hardback memoir by Trish O’Kane Birding to Change the World and, of course, there was the much discussed 2023 Better Living Through Birding: Notes from a Black Man in the Natural World by Christian Cooper of New York. We look forward to novelist Amy Tan’s Backyard Bird Chronicles coming the end of April.) But Courtney Ellis is, in our estimation, tag least, part of our tribe, a thoughtful, creation-loving, deeply spiritual Christian who knows that “kingfishers catch fire” as the Hopkins’ poem puts it. We invite you to pre-order it now, knowing we’ll have it any day, now and can send it early. Hooray.

Reading Genesis Marilynne Robinson (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux) $29.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $23.99  NOT YET RELEASED / PRE-ORDER  – releasing March 12, 2024

This is doubtlessly one of the more important literary releases of the year, the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist and exceedingly astute essayist — she has several collections of her award winning prose — exploring the epic, primal story of Genesis. Again, I have not seen a page of this yet but I can assure you without doubt that it will be taken seriously by thoughtful church folk and the watching world. National Humanities Medal winner Marilynne Robinson on Genesis? Who knows what she will notice and who knows what arguments she will make and who knows what delightful tangents she will take us on? This no doubt will be allusive and scientific and honorable and literary and most likely fairly dense, to be read slowly, I’m sure. Early reviews have called it “thrilling” and “radiant” and “a luminous interpretation” which “collapses the space between the holy and the mundane.”

We should have it to ship out by March 12th. Order now and we will add you to the waiting list. This is going to be exciting, especially for those who want a more fertile, imaginative way to approach these classic origin stories

Jesus and the Powers: Christian Political Witness in an Age of Totalitarian Terror and Dysfunctional Democracies N.T. Wright & Michael Bird (Zondervan Academic) $22.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $18.39   NOT YET RELEASED / PRE-ORDER – releasing March 26, 2024

I have been working on reading this, a bit at a time as time permits, and it is nothing short of brilliant. In amazingly clear insight, these two Biblical and theological superstars offer fabulously contextualized Biblical interpretation, drawing well on their understanding of the social and cultural forces that shaped the Biblical narrative and the posture of the earliest Christians. They offer an “in by not of” argument, calling us to be deeply involved in transformative ways, pushing back against the idols of the culture, without putting our heads in the sand (on one escapist hand) or so wedding ourselves to one or another party or movement that we fail to allow the gospel-itself to animate our civic perspectives and political agenda. That is, we dare not remove ourselves from the public squares but we cannot not so immerse ourselves in our desires to be engaged and of use for the common good that we sell out, accommodating ourselves to the principalities and powers around us.

What are the principalities and powers? This is one of the most reliable, Biblical studies of this, drawing on the likes of Walter Wink (but, oh, they missed the boat by not citing Marva Dawn and her famous, appreciative, critique of Wink.) This is political theology at its best, offering a Kingdom perspective that is saturated by the sorts of animating visions long promoted by Wright (and Bird.)

They do draw on a host of important thinkers, from James Skillen to Jamie Smith to Luke Bretherton to Vincent Bacote to Oliver and Jean O’Donovan. They cite young Kaitlyn Schiess and old Stanley Hauerwas; they draw on Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat and while they have lots of contemporary political illustrations (some from the UK as in one brilliant comparisons of the views of faith and politics expressed by two different Prime Ministers, and some from the US or other countries) it is not only a study of statecraft. We commend it to anyone interested in public life, civic affairs, the relationship of Christ and culture, and, yes, for those more specifically interested in politics and a distinctively Christian way to manage the forces of evil in our political day.

There will be a lot of challenges for sensible, faithful, Christian thinkers this upcoming election cycle and we will be suggesting other helpful titles. This will be on the top of the list, rooting us in the grand narrative of Scripture, in the resurrection power of Christ and His regime which is afoot and in the powerful Spirit which is, of course, making all things new. Don’t miss Jesus and the Powers, a wonderful, well-informed, exceptionally Biblical study that applies full-orbed Kingdom faith to the idols of the culture and the forces of disarray afoot in our lands.

As I read more I will be disappointed if they don’t grappled with some of the themes in the magisterial and important Political Dreams and Illusions by David Koyzis, or at least the broad overview of political /national idols by Tom’s cousin, Christopher Wright, called Here Are Your Gods: Faithful Discipleship in Idolatrous Times or even the very practical guide to thinking Christianly about legislation by the late Ron Sider (Just Politics.) Still, so far, I am very, very impressed. You will be, too. This is so, so needed and we are grateful that it is coming out. It would be our privelege to send you one.  Pre-order it today so we can send it as soon as it arrives later in the month.


If you want us to hold any order until anything you perhaps pre-ordered arrives, do say so. We want to be sensible and stewardly, serving you wisely. Let us know how you prefer your shipments to be consolidated, or not. We’re not automated, so you have to tell us what you’d like. Thanks.

Praying with Saint Patrick: Prayers and Devotions Inspired by the Irish Hero of the Faith Aaron Burns & Matt Mikalatos (Tyndale) $18.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

Take a look-see at this little book and say sure and begorrah or something like that. You don’t have to wear green, but this is a fabulous little (green) book in a genre of which there are dozens of fabulous little books. We’ve always carried a pretty wide selection of Celtic spirituality stuff — from large, formal prayers books to smaller booklets, biographies of Patrick and histories of his movement. Some Celtic spirituality is a bit overly pantheistic and nearly pagan while others are deeply, deeply Biblical and wisely theological. In any case, many are appreciating Celtic insights about God’s love for creation and the idea of ministry being attentive to local customs. One only needs to read How The Irish Saved Civilization to recall just how important the conversion of Patrick was and how dramatic his story is, as he escaped from slavery and returned to share the gospel with his old captors. For a simple but lovely children’s book, don’t miss Ned Bustard’s book that came out last year about this time, Saint Patrick the Forgiver: The History and Legends of Ireland’s Bishop.

And now we welcome this pair of upbeat authors who have given us a guide to learning to pray by drawing on the Celtic saint. From Saint Patrick we can learn to be drawn more deeply into “conversation with a God who cares deeply about you and your needs, concerns, and worries.” They continue, “Just as Patrick experienced God’s presence in the rugged wilds of Ireland, may you experience God’s presence in a powerful and vibrant way.”

There are prayers, here, for times of trouble and there are prayers for hope. They offer a prayer for freedom and one for when you feel like you don’t fit in. There is the ongoing invitation for Christ to draws near to us as we desire to be open to Him.

This is a fabulous little book because it offers short, reflective readings on the life of Saint Patrick and, on the facing page, a prayer. It is both an informative introduction to the Celtic way and on the life of Patrick, and a guide to using these ancient formulations of prayer in your own contemporary prayer life. Slaintѐ.

Field Notes for the Wilderness: Practices for an Evolving Faith Sarah Bessey (Convergent) $26.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $20.80

I have long appreciated the writing style and voice and vision of Sarah Bessey. She was “evolving” in faith decades ago — a wise sign when one is raised in a rather strict faith environment — and she offered those with ears to hear an alternative to what some now call radical deconstruction. She offered plenty of wise and witty critique of her charismatic and conservative evangelical subculture without dismissing the good news of the gospel (or, for that matter, the belief in the power of the Spirit and the possibilities of miracles, as she so movingly told in her excellent 2019 book, Miracles and Other Reasonable Things: A Story of Unlearning and Relearning God. That one in a way follows her first, the tender, honest, lively Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith. (In between, by the way, she wrote the excellent Jesus Feminist, which we appreciated very much and continue to recommend for those who want a study that includes her own moving storytelling alongside Biblical exegesis.)

Anyway, this book opens with Sarah and her husband driving in the desert heat, leaving, we soon discover, a less than healthy experience at some Texas megachurch. (When she mentioned being tired of “fog machines and voter guides” I had to think for a second what she meant. If you know, you know.) She admits they were “limping home to Canada to reimagine our further, more than a little brokenhearted and burned out.” They pull over at a desert gas station and realize they are in the literal wilderness, an apt metaphor for the rough and barren nature of their spiritual location. And so the first chapter, written as a gracious letter, is “Welcome to the Wilderness.” It is poignant and a line made me laugh right out loud. If you like the writing of Sarah’s late friend, Rachel Held Evans or Rachel’s sister, Amanda Held Opelt or Jen Hatmaker or Cole Arthur Riley — who says this book shows us ways we might “survive together in the liminal” — you will appreciate this.

But, holy smokes, listen to this, from the exquisite writer, Barbara Brown Taylor:

I have had a lot of fathers in faith, but never a mother — at least until I met Sarah Bessey. Now she is the writer I recommend to anyone who needs to be seen, loved, and held before they can ever say why. Reading her new book is like opening a boxed lunch in the wilderness packed by someone who knew just what would get you through — along with a note that says, “Your soul is just fine.” The only difference is that this book keeps feeding you after you have finished the last page.

Humility: Rediscovering the Way of Love and Life in Christ Michael W. Austin (Eerdmans) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

For many years, just about the only really good book we found to recommend on this much-needed virtue was the little classic (written in the late 1880s) by the old holiness preacher) Andrew Murray, Humility. Bethany House still has a handsome, small paperback that we like a lot. Just in the last two years there were two stellar volumes, a curious book influenced somewhat by Native American orientation by Richard Foster called Learning Humility and a recent one by the great Dennis Edwards, Humility Illuminated, nicely written with some insight included about multiethnic ministry. There are others, too, but these two newer ones now have a brand new one alongside them, by Michael Austin.

Austin is a philosophy professor, but don’t let that scare you away, as this is an approachable and fascinating study of the spiritual disciplines that can aid in the formation of this needed virtue. I took a real liking to Austin’s work years ago when he did a book about public life and social virtues for ordinary folks called Being Good: Christian Virtues for Everyday Life; that book was overtly Christian, yet invited even non-believes to values such as contentment, courage, love, compassion, wisdom, zeal, and more. There was a chapter in that book so many years ago on humility and I now recall that I liked it a lot. What a gift that Dr. Austin has resisted and expanded his work on this gentle theme in this new volume.

And he knows a bit about how this lives out for those of us wanting to speak well into our culture these days. He has edited a recent book of essays about QAnon and conspiracy theories and he has an excellent, powerful book on the debate about gun violence. He knows a bit about this dance of speaking out and doing so with a degree of humility and respect for others. Amid culture wars and church divisions, even, this trait of following Jesus in grace and love, is more vital (and more complicated) than ever before. Our union with God, he notes, can transform our very souls as they live out Kingdom ways in all corners of society.

Austin has been called one of the “leading voices about character and virtue today” and this little book has been called “profound.” One reviewer, an activist in public reforms, said it is “about eternal things while very much in the present.” Exactly.

A good forward is written by David Gushee who writes:

We live in a time when many have lost contact with The Way. Three cheers for Michael Austin’s efforts to help American Christians meet Jesus again.

The Gift of Limitations: Finding Beauty in Your Boundaries Sara Hagerty (Zondervan) $26.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59

If you like the breezy, chatty, clever prose of Sarah Bessey et al, you will also appreciate the uniquely female voice of Sara Hagerty. She, too, seems informal and yet is profound; a thoughtful, sharp thinker who brings her insight by way of storytelling and memoir. From Anne Lamonte to Brene Brown to Shauna Niequist, this enjoyable, conversational style is common and popular.

But here’s the thing, what we know from Hagerty’s previous books (like the excellent Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things to Unseen; The Gift of Being Hidden in a World that Loves to Be Noticed) and a careful study of her footnotes and pull quotes in this brand new book:  she draws on the very best of mainstream evangelical thinkers, not the deconstructing or edgy sort of iconoclasts. She cites RC Sproul and Tim Keller, Saint Augustine and a great interview with artist Mako Fujimura (conducted by the sharp and always interesting literary figure Philip Yancey.) Lots of authors routinely offer a nearly obligatory C.S Lewis quote, but she pulls from his lesser known works (the book opens with an epigram from The Problem of Pain, which caught my attention, since most authors don’t go there right away!) She seems to have an affinity for Lewis’s hero, George MacDonald. In a chapter called “A Better Way”, she cites a famous Hasidic tale (drawn, in this case, from a piece by Sylvia Rothschild.)

We all have limits — it is the very nature of our creatureliness (and on this, it is hard to beat the major work by Kelly Kapic called You’re Only Human: How Your Limits Reflect God’s Design and Why That’s Good News.) But this moving exploration moves towards those who need to savor God’s goodness in their limitations, even if they come from chronic illness or emotional trauma or too many bills or other hardships. She wisely quotes Edmund Clowney who quipped that “suffering is not the opposite of blessing.”  As the flyleaf shouts, “God can use what limits us to bring us our greatest fulfillment.”

Do you feel overwhelmed, with a sense that there is just “too much.” I do. Maybe this sense of feeling deprived, the fear of missing out, a under-the-hood grumpy feeling of being limited is what we need transformed by a better view of “the boundaries of our circumstances.” She’s got a poetic voice, and offers Biblical texts at the end of each chapter pointing us to God’s insight on living within our limitations. This is hard-won wisdom, I gather, and I, for one, am going to carve out time with it.

Strange Religion: How the First Christians Were Weird, Dangerous, and Compelling Nijay K. Gupta (Brazos Press) $18.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

Gupta has been a rising star in New Testament studies lately, and is a professor of Northern Seminary. He’s got a PhD fro Durham University and is a popular blogger and hosts a podcast (and founded the Crux Sola blog) He’s written a bunch of commentaries (most recently, one I’m studying now, on Galatians) and has gotten some very respectful kudos for his 2023 IVP Academic book, Tell Her Story: How Women Led, Taught, and Ministered in the Early Church.) I loved what I dipped into in 15 New Testament Words of Life. He knows his stuff.

This new one is sort of funny, actually — you know his cool attitude and witty style if you follow him on his socials — and makes this a stand-apart study of the early church. As it says bluntly on the back, “The first Christians were weird”. Uh-huh.  And maybe we need to be as well, known not for sucking up to power and flaunting our wealth, but for, well, like the first Christians “the oddness of their beliefs and practices.” As Gupta notes, “they believed unusual things, worshiped God in strange ways, and practiced a whole new way of doing religion that would have been viewed as bizarre and dangerous compared to other religions of the ancient world”

As the good professor traces the emerging Christian faith in its Roman context, he asks how such an upside-down and radical religion could also be seen as attractive and compelling. It’s a good question.

I’ve waited a while for this, and now that I’ve perused it just a bit, I realize I’ve been waiting for decades for such a winsome, practical, guide to the captivating world of the first centuries of church history. As Michael Bird notes in his rave review, Christians were once loathed for practicing a rogue religion” Maybe we, too, if we come to understand the social and historical context of the world in which the New Testament came to be written and compiled, will more seriously consider what it means to be nonaligned with the values of our culture. I’m sure it is going to be a blast to read, too. As Preston Sprinkle puts it, “it makes me excited to be a Christian.”

Remember the small, pocket sized book that we often recommend called Keep Christianity Weird: Embracing the Discipline of Being Different by the great missional thinker, Michael Frost? This new work, Strange Religion, by Dr. Nijay Gupta, with all its primary source quotes from Greco-Roman writers and those who study that era, gives the scholarly foundation for why Frost’s playful charge is not only hipster cool, but theologically necessary. That Gupta is as fun as Frost is a bonus. Get this book and be strange!

Exiles: The Church in the Shadow of Empire Preston Sprinkle (David C. Cook) $19.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

There has been a lot of discussion — in books, sermons, colloquia, confabs, in the scholarly meetings and on the streets, literally, at social service initiatives, civic meetings, and protests — about how the reality of empire has influenced the Biblical material and how that might effect our own relationship to the principalities and powers that be. From the grand resistance movement of Moses liberating God’s people from the brick-making quotas and repression of Pharaoh to the seminal influence of story later in the Hebrew Scriptures about exile and captivity in Babylon, and that second exodus back to a demolished homeland, Bible guys like Walter Brueggemann have helped us navigate this reality that liberation from captivity is a key aspect in the story of God. Other authors have helped us see that the earliest Christians, also, if maybe a bit less obviously, had this political overlay about Herod and Caesar and the “powers” noting vividly in Paul’s letters, but (once your trained to see it) in Matthew, Mark Luke and John. From Binding the Strong Man (a thick, seminal political study of Mark) to the work of Richard Horsley to the must-read Sylvia Keesmaat & Brian Walsh book Disarming Romans: Doing Justice/Resisting Empire there has been a mighty wind blowing through New Testament studies and to not grapple with it seems to be willful ignorance. Even the most judicious of conservative interpreters tell us that context matters and that Scripture interprets Scripture. To miss this study of empire and its socio-political implications is to disregard the truth of God’s Holy Word.

Enter the evangelical — and, in most areas, a fairly traditional one — preacher and popular thinker, Preston Sprinkle. Although the back of this brand new book asks “How Should a Christian View Politics?”, Exiles is less directly about citizenship or Christian views of statecraft and rather a study of what it means that our loyalty is to King Jesus and his global Kingdom.

“The first century church would never have mounted a Roman flag next to a Christian one, nor would they have let the politics of Rome destroy their blood-bought unity in Christ. Instead,” Sprinkle continues, “the church was a gathering of radicals who chose persecution — unto death — rather than compromise their identity as exiles.”

Here, the back cover explains, Preston explores why Israel’s exile to Babylon profoundly shaped the people’s political identity; why Christian should see themselves as foreigners in the country where they live; why the gospel of Jesus’s Kingdom was politically subversive, and how the church’s identity should be fundamentally spare from the empire, which too often demands total allegiances.

I’ve skimmed through this and studied the footnotes and see where he is going. I assume much of the impetus is to critique the way MAGA politics have infiltrated and sometimes consumed some Christian leaders. It is not only an anti-Trumpian warning, though, as it is more generally about “a more Biblical and powerful way to live in a secular world” — as exiles.

I’m impressed with Preston’s willingness to engage those with whom he disagrees (as in his efforts to generate discussion and dialogue around sexuality and gender issues, where he is doubtlessly kind but conventional.) If you think this is a bit much, you’ll find it hard-hitting, but gracious and careful.

The blurbs inside this, commending it to thoughtful readers wanting a solidly Biblical frame to our civic lives, are vivid and diverse. And actually, pretty spectacular, so if you trust wise authors, yoiu should listen. We have here rave reviews from Michael Gorman (who calls it “the most exciting book of biblical theology I have read in a long time”) and Brenna Blain (“Exiles provides a great depth and breadth of biblical wisdom…”) and Brian Zahnd and Michael Bird and more. Wow.

As Patrick Miller (of Truth Over Tribe) puts it in a longer comment:

The Left and the Right don’t just want your vote; they want your soul. So it’s no surprise that, in the absence of an alternative political vision, many Christians are hitching their theological wagons to secular political programs. In Exiles, Preston Sprinkle shows that Jesus offers a better way.

Aslan’s Breath: Seeing the Holy Spirit in Narnia Matthew Dickerson (Square Halo Books) $19.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

This is a splendid new book, short and sweet, nearly brilliant in both the concept and the actual content. It’s a page turner for anyone interested in Narnia and — I hope — that would be many BookNotes readers. It is handsomely produced with some nice linocuts by Ned Bustard (one of the managing editors of Square Halo Books) and we love to promote their exceptional books. As a boutique publisher that does a lot of arts and literature-related titles, this fits well into their increasing collection of backlist titles. We are happy to have them all, and this new one reminds me of just how good and rare Square Halo stuff is.

Dickerson, you may know, teaches at Middlebury College in Vermont (alongside the better-known environmental writer Bill McKibben and the wonderful emeritus writer John Elder.) Matthew, too, has written wisely about nature, having penned books on fishing and the appreciation of rivers and streams. He has a major work on ecological themes in Tolkien (Ents, Elves, and Eriador: The Environmental Vision of J.R.R. Tolkien) and another on ecological themes in Narnia (Narnia and the Fields of Arbol: The Environmental Vision of C. S. Lewis — it is a must-read for Lewis and Narnia fans!) He even has an under-appreciated book on disciple-making in our idolatrous culture where we tend to strive after money, success, power, and the like: how do we mentor others into ways of solid faith formation given our cultural context? Anyway, he is an author I admire very, very much.

As you might tell from the allusive title of this brand new one, and certainly from the very clear subtitle, this is an almost one-of-a-kind contribution to the vast field of Lewis studies. We’ve got bunches of sharp Narnia studies and there are so many good books about Lewis that one could hardly imagine the need for much more. But when I heard that SHB was releasing this one from Dickerson, I rejoiced. There was one older book on this topic which covers other stuff as well, so ends up being lesser known, anyway. As far as I know this is the only viable, concise, clear-headed book on how the Holy Spirit appears in the Chronicles, and it is vivid, interesting, inspiring. I think it is fair to say there is nothing like it in print, a phrase I don’t get to say very often. Hooray.

Here are the primary titles from the table of contents:

  • The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe: Transforming Power
  • Prince Caspian: Growing Bigger
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: Blended Symbols and More Courage
  • The Silver Charm: Carried on Aslan’s Breath
  • The Horse and His Boy: Gentleness and Comfort
  • The Magician’s Nephew: Breath and Wind at Creation
  • The Last Battle: Beyond Aslan’s Breath, More Pointers to the Holy Spirit

I hope you buy one or more of these from us, and then, if you are so moved, that you will go to your own nearest bookstore and invite them to stock it. Call your church library and you public library, too. This book should be widely known and readily available and at this point, my fear is that it is not. We’ve got it, though, so help us spread the word! As I have said, there is nothing like it, and it is very well done. This is one not to miss! Further up and further in!

Honest Creativity: The Foundation of Boundless, Good and Inspired Innovation Craig Detweiler (Morehouse Publishing) $29.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $23.96

This, too, just arrived, and in our post-Jubilee conference recovery — with boxes of books stacked everywhere and piles of paperwork — I haven’t had time to study the new books that have poured in within the last two weeks. I’ve had this on my list for a while and I’m so grateful that it has now arrived and that we can highlight it for you.

For starters, there is a great blurb of endorsement by Makoto Fujimura, the abstract artist and author of several excellent books about the visual arts, about literature, and about “culture care”, as he puts it. Here, Mako says that “as an author and sojourner, I am thrilled and encouraged by Honest Creativity,” which he calls “a marvel of wisdom and scholarship.” Okay, then.

Whether you are a young creative and an artist or a more mature church or executive leader, who doesn’t need a solid exploration of the art of innovation and the transformative power of authentic creativity? Especially in this era of AI which is now upon us.

I have written often in BookNotes about the creative process, and more about Biblically-directed traditions of scholarship that help us think faithfully about aesthetics and the process of art-making. And, yes, we’ve written a bit about books that are less about the arts, as such, but about the process of being innovators in leadership, business, culture, and the church.

(Two, by the way, come to mind, perhaps to put into conversation with the ever-thoughtful Detweiler: you may recall my delight in discovering an academic study released by the University of Chicago Press called The Cult of Creativity: A Surprisingly Recent History authored — creatively and with verve — by Samuel Franklin, who explores the fascinating history of the newfangled term “creativity” as it was nurtured in business circles in the middle of the 20th century; and, you should know the scholarly, potent, critique of notions of ever-new innovation pitched as the answer for ineffective church ministry offered by Andrew Root in his breathtaking study, released in 2022, called The Church After Innovation.)

One can be aware of the often freighted assumptions carried by those who promote innovation and creativity and one can agree with Root that too much hope in too many spiffy formulas promising upbeat change in the local church are unhelpful, without dismissing the very notion that we are made in the image of a creator God and therefore have some natural inclination and charge to be creative. We do need to explore human creativity. As it says on the back of Honest Creativity, it will inspire innovation and give the practical tools to do so with “meaning, intention, and courage.”

Can we, as Detweiler puts it, “honor life” through honest artistic expression? Can, in fact, human ingenuity triumph over AI?

Ahh, and that becomes the rub of this book, this call to “honest” creativity. This is a study of creativity against the backdrop of the revolution being created by artificial intelligence.

Ralph Winter — head of creative at Sphere and producer of several Hollywood action films (from Planet of the Apes to X-Men) — says that Craig here “gives us the moral compass and counters to navigate the world of AI and machine learning. How we embrace or create with machines and what true and beautiful stories we will tell are the burning issues.”

Detweiler knows the latest stuff from his corner of the creative world — Rick Rubin on creativity, obviously, the new book by Jeff Tweedy, the wonder of insights from the black choreographer Twila Tharp, the astute conversations with Nick Cave. No book drawing on contemporary art and pop culture would be trustworthy, in my view, if it didn’t speak to the power of the documentary, Summer of Soul, and he does. It is so up-to-date that it notes the AI partnership with the Beatles in the recent release of “Now and Then.” He cites the famous TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson and the research of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. But he has also drunk deeply from thoughtful Christian authors — think Madeleine L’Engle, for instance, or Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird.

Whether you worry about ChatGPT or not, this book looks like it is going to be one of the best studies of the year. Craig formerly taught at Fuller (in their film institute) and at Pepperdine, but is now the Dean of the College of Arts and Media and Grand Canyon University. Importantly, he also serves as the President and CEO of Wedgwood Circle, a philanthropic investment collective funding “creative projects of meaning.” Kudos to Church Publishing and their revived imprint Morehouse (despite the cheesy font in the subtitle) for releasing this timely, important work.

You Are A Tree And Other Metaphors to Nourish Life, Thought, and Prayer Joy Marie Clarkson (Bethany House) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

Oh my, another book that we pre-ordered months ago and which arrived just the other day. I’m so excited to see this as we stock all the books by the Clarkson tribe. (There are the good, older books by the mother, several books by the daughters, including Sally, and by a son, Nathan. These siblings — enter Joy Marie — have had extraordinary output in recent years and they are eloquent, smart, and terrific authors to know and read.

Sally, so you know, is the author of Aggressively Happy and host of the Speaking with Joy podcast. She is a research associate in theology and literature at King’s College in London and the books editor for Plough. She holds a PhD in theology from the University of St. Andrews.

Have you ever heard anyone describe themselves as a tree?

She notes,

When we’re thriving, we speak of being rooted and fruitful, in a good season. When we struggle, we might describe ourselves as withering, cut off from friendship and the world. These ways of describing ourselves matter because they shape the ways we live.

But she also warns that:

…in a world dominated by efficiency, we have begun to use more unforgiving metaphors. We speak of ourselves as computers: we process things, we recharge. In doing so, we come to expect of ourselves an exhausting, relentless productivity.

Wow. As a scholar and exceptionally thoughtful writer, this could have been parlayed into an academic book at a scholarly publishing house but it is written for ordinary folks, for book clubs, and Sunday school classes, for you and me as we try to ponder the metaphors we use and how they shape our assumptions about the human person.

We should pay attention to this and You Are A Tree will help. We can listen to our experiences and to the words we use to describe those experiences. Fascinating, eh?

This is an important bit of social commentary and cultural analysis, but it is, to be honest, mostly a collection of meditations, of poetic and reflective studies of things like wisdom, security, love, change, and sadness. In each of 7 chapters she starts with a declaration with the word (not) interspersed — “Safety is (not) a Fortress” or “Life is (not) a Journey.”  This looks really interesting, contrasting popular wisdom with more ancient, Biblical images.

Poet Malcolm Guite, who knows a thing or two about metaphor, calls it “delicious.”

Proclaiming Christ in a Pluralistic Age — the 1978 Lectures J. I. Packer (Crossway) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

I hope I do not have to say who J.I. Packer was or how important he was as a gracious, theological leader from the evangelical and Reformed wing of the Church of England, and the influence he had over generations of American evangelicals. I still come back to chapter three of Knowing God from time to time, moved in my soul about the character of God and the importance of authentic intimacy with God.

He was gracious and witty, but a classic, older-school preacher, a bit staid, intellectual, deeper than your average public speaker. (Yet, he was whimsical at times, and so un-ironically British — he once called some friends of ours who had a book at the time called All of Life Redeemed, the Fab-Four of Pittsburgh. And he did a powerful critique of materialism and cultural conformity within the growing evangelical movement in the states which he called “Hot Tub Religion.”)

In the very late 1970s he gave a series of talks in several places. He did four keynote addresses in Pittsburgh at our then-new Jubilee Conference. These lectures eventually gave rise to some fairly prestigious addresses that became vintage Packer — what one remembers as “calm and courteous style with an unrelenting focus on the Lord Jesus as our Savior.”  Perhaps the most famous place these lectures were given was at Moore Theological College in Australia (and then, again, at what is now Kuyper College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.)

This handsome little hardback is a labor of love, carefully transcribed from the recordings of those events. They include five lectures, each meticulously crafted, with orthodox Biblical truths carefully contrasted with other philosophies and renderings that were popular then, from a secularized humanism to a new age universalism. These are among the issues we continue to face in our time and these lectures — agree fully or not with his articulate positions — are surely some of the most potent and robust answers provided. Here are the chapter titles comprising this 130-some page book.

  1. We’ve a Story to Tell: We Preach Christ Crucified
  2. The Man Christ Jesus: The Humanity of Jesus Christ
  3. He Emptied Himself: The Divinity of Jesus Christ
  4. A Wonderful Exchange: The Work of Jesus Christ
  5. No Other Name: The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ

Solo Planet: How Singles Help the Church Recover Our Calling Anna Broadway (NavPress) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

If we had more time and space I’d love to talk about this book in much more detail. (And the topic — there are a few very good books on the subject amid some that are less important.) There is so much packed into this charming bit of story and research that it could almost be two or three books. I’ll admit, there were times when I wondered why the editor didn’t reign the author in a bit. And yet, I really loved its meandering style, its admixture of adventure and travelogue and testimony, its discussion of methodology and data, its thoughtful theological framing and its amazing global nature.

Let’s start with that: Anna Broadway, who wrote a thoughtful work a few years back called Sexless in the City, wanted to draw into a conversation about singleness the actual voices of single folks. As a nearly middle-aged woman, she also knows that many Christian books on this topic (including some I might rule out as overly cheesy or wrong-headed) are aimed at younger, straight, able-bodied, evangelical women. She wanted to hear from men and women within the wider body of Christ and so she bravely set out to interview single people of various ages and of all sorts of faith traditions from all over the world. Wowie-zowie — I had no idea. This captivating book covers all that and more!

The words of those she met — translated from interviews in Russia and Africa and Latin America and Australia and more — give the book an exceptional quality, poignant and real. (Some of the remarks she reports are not eloquent or profound, really, which gives the book a very authentic feel, drawing me in, knowing that these folks were fairly ordinary believers of various sorts and ages with joys and pains that are in some cases pretty universal.) She interviewed older men and women, of various races and ethnicities, and some individuals who have various disabilities. Orthodox, Catholic, and various kinds of Protestants show up and she tells the stories of how she came to meet them, some which make for truly riveting reading. There are even vignettes interspersed throughout that are delightful travelogue pieces, sharing her sometimes zany efforts to get passports or find housing or work with translators, even as she travelled the globe at her own expense, by herself, occasionally with some degree of danger. What a story!

Not only does Anna Broadway interview single folks from all over the world about their experience of being a Christian who is not currently married, she invites conversations about all manner of Christian living, from leisure and rest to work and career, from health care and housing to vacations and finances, and obviously sex and gender. That is, her robust understanding of whole-life discipleship compelled her to not merely ask theological or church-related questions about the desire (or not) to be married, but she evoked reflections on the life of faith lived out in all manner of settings and in various stages of life. Expanding the voices of singleness to include older Catholic widows or young wheel-chair bound evangelicals or divorced Protestants reminds us of the many ways there are to live out faith in community and, also, importantly, that everyone is single at some time in their life. Right? There should be much more intentional sensitivity to this in our spiritual communities but she find, well, you know. It’s hard.

Broadway notes in the beginning of Planet Solo that she sort of assumed (and maybe had heard) that in some other (non-Western) cultures that were less driven or materialistic or individualistic than ours, singles might be better integrated into extended families and church fellowships and small groups, but this was decidedly not the case (and, in some cultures, anti-single sentiment might have been more blunt and burdensome.) In any case, she does tell of how unmarried folks are or are not involved in the broad life of Christian community in various congregations and parishes, from Alaska to Germany, from the Middle East to the Far East, from urbane Manhattan to the deep American Southland.

Kudos, too, to Ms Broadway, as she took as mentors leading into the project the guidance and input of people of color, most notably evangelical leaders such as Soon Chan Rah and Kathy Khang and Michael Emerson, among others. She tells of meeting two indigenous, Native leaders to learn more about First Nation cultures and ways to have good conversations without causing cross-cultural hurt. Her growing sensitivity to matters of race and class and caste within even the church gives her an almost prophetic edge in calling the church to become a better version of authentic Christian community. She is never heavy-handed and she moves from topic to topic with delightfully little effort, but her call to the church to be more inclusive is a clarion call.

(Note: I wonder if the last phrase of the subtitle might be misconstrued. The “calling” to be recovered is not the callings of single folks, I don’t think, but the calling of the church to be the inclusive, intentional community it is meant to be. The question on the back cover is clear: “How can the church do better for its millions of singles?”)

I had little idea just how much of a gender gap there is in global Christianity; as in the US, there are millions and millions of more women in churches than men. The sometimes unspoken (and sometimes bluntly spoken) call for women to trust that God will have them get married [to a Christian partner] is increasingly unlikely, and the need to think theologically about greater integration of unmarried folks into the life of the local congregation is as pressing as ever. What might family look like if we reject the sociology of the nuclear family and understand our being siblings in Christ as a first family? These are urgent questions, pleasantly and gently raised in this fabulous survey.

Solo Planet is not alarmist or bitter, even though, frankly, reading some of the narratives of some of the interviews, the mistreatment of single folks is common enough that it is surprising how many stay connected to the institutional church. Alas, data seems to show, if I read Broadway correctly, that more unmarried people are leaving the church more rapidly than married people. So, in a way, this is a crisis, and it is only going to get worse. It is a social reality that church folks and leaders, especially, are going to have to address with greater creativity and grace and understanding, sooner rather than later.

In Anna’s travels she learned a lot, much of which she narrates in an off-the-cuff sort of style. She is a professional journalist and fine writer but this is not intended to be an eloquently luminous essay or academic sociological study, but more of a field guide, a report, a telling of a story, a story which tells the stories of many brothers and sisters from across the denominational divides and across cultures, ages, races, and nationalities. From chapters on food and eating together to chapters on how sexual minorities are treated to a good chapter on housing — “How Shelter Shapes our Character” — there is so much to consider. Reading this is an eye-opening adventure, a compelling, fun read. I very highly recommend it.

By the way, there are discussion questions in the back making this ideal for a church forum or discussion study or book club selection. Use it — especially if the group includes marrieds and non-marrieds, widows and young singles, etc. Throughout the book she offers some things to ponder and pray about, too, making this personally engaging, even as she offers some very big picture questions for the churches and for all of us. Fascinating.

Our Ancient Faith: Lincoln, Democracy, and the American Experiment Allen C. Guelzo (Knopf) $30.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $24.00

This is the latest from the important historian (and Christian scholar), Allen Guelzo. He has won the prestigious Lincoln Award three times (!) and has been awarded the rare Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize for Military History. We have stocked most of his books which are almost uniformly seen as astute, wise, informative, and morally serious. He is currently a Senior Research Scholar at the Council of Humanities at Princeton University. The new book, like his others, are beloved already.

It is altogether fitting and proper that, with this meditation on democracy and its most subtle defender, Allen Guelzo again demonstrates that he is today’s most profound interpreter of this nation’s history and significance. — George F. Will

I’m not even going to try to explain the value of this important new work, but I’ll copy what the publisher has said. I hope it is helpful — it sure seems inspiring to me!

They write:

An intimate study of Abraham Lincoln’s powerful vision of democracy, which guided him through the Civil War and is still relevant today–by a best-selling historian and three-time winner of the Lincoln Prize

Abraham Lincoln grappled with the greatest crisis of democracy that has ever confronted the United States. While many books have been written about his temperament, judgment, and steady hand in guiding the country through the Civil War, we know less about Lincoln’s penetrating ideas and beliefs about democracy, which were every bit as important as his character in sustaining him through the crisis.

Allen C. Guelzo, one of America’s foremost experts on Lincoln, captures the president’s firmly held belief that democracy was the greatest political achievement in human history. He shows how Lincoln’s deep commitment to the balance between majority and minority rule enabled him to stand firm against secession while also committing the Union to reconciliation rather than recrimination in the aftermath of war. In bringing his subject to life as a rigorous and visionary thinker, Guelzo assesses Lincoln’s actions on civil liberties and his views on race, and explains why his vision for the role of government would have made him a pivotal president even if there had been no Civil War. Our Ancient Faith gives us a deeper understanding of this endlessly fascinating man and shows how his ideas are still sharp and relevant more than 150 years later.

It is impossible to read Our Ancient Faith without feeling that Guelzo wrote this book as much for himself as for us, to fortify himself for the 2024 election battle to come; and to share an illuminating and ennobling story with a people short on hope and–just as important and just as troubling–perspective. — David Shirbman, The Boston Globe




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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Sadly, as of March 2024 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 isn’t good. It is 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 long 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 very much for understanding.

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. 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.

4-Day Only 40% off (and 50% off) Post-Jubilee SALE

Okay, friends and faithful BookNotes readers: I won’t do an epic post-Jubilee conference report this year, but our big Pittsburgh gathering sponsored by the CCO, as I write, is nearly done. It’s the Monday after the conferees have left and we’ve been working hard boxing up the remaining books. Teamsters at the Convention Center are using forklifts and pallet jacks to move pallets full of boxes onto their loading dock where Beth and our buddy Sean – a rare bird who is a happy, energetic helper, incredibly strong, and a well-read philosopher who casually mentions Merleau-Ponty or Herman Dooyeweerd alongside his amazing knowledge of Scripture – are getting things into the rented truck so we can get it back across the state and unloaded by Tuesday, before they charge us for another day. Our backs and legs are sore, our brains a bit fuzzy, but our hearts are full.


The joy of talking about how books can inform us and help us embody a distinctively Christian lifestyle in and for the world, even in college studies, work, and civic life quickly shifted to trying to figure out how to get odd shaped boxes and boards and displays and cash registers and gobs of paperwork into a truck without them getting damaged. Dreaming with college students about the Jubilee vision with speakers like Steve Garber, CPJ Director Stephanie Summers, After College author Erica Young Reitz, Redeemer City-to-City leader Abe Cho and selling books to serious Christian students and seekers, too, as well as workshop presenters, speakers, and CCO staff is so rewarding, but now we’ve got some serious unloading to do. Will have hundreds of boxes unloaded into the shop later tonight. As the old catchphrase by one of the first black Hollywood stars goes, “Feets don’t fail me now.”

I’d love for you to read my past missives about Jubilee HERE, HERE, or HERE or HERE – each explains a bit about how Jubilee has influenced how we think and much of what our store has been about, helping equip people of faith to think Christianly about God’s care for all of life and to nurture a “spirituality of the ordinary” so people can find joy and make a difference in every zone of daily life. Of course the local church is a key to all of this, and that is one vital aspect of the whole missional movement, but it is surely not the only institution God cares about and ought not be the singular focus of our Christian lives. But, yet, prayer and church and gospel proclamation and gentle spiritual formation are all foundations for a robust, imaginative, embodied, Kingdom life in and for the various spheres of God’s good but fallen world.

Some young students with whom the CCO campus staff works and who they bring to Jubilee are nurtured by churches that do not have much of a Kingdom vision. Mired by a deep dualism between the so-called sacred and secular, resulting in a gap between Sunday and Monday, with a disconnect, then, between, say, prayer and politics or worship and work, or spirituality and studies, those students are astonished to learn that God cares about their majors (and future careers) or that there is a Biblically-informed worldview that can frame how the think about and live into their various callings in their real-world lives. Jesus isn’t just about going to heaven when you die? This is huge news for some, and, as the conference theme put it, it “changes everything.”

Think about that. Does your church or small group or Bible class or nonprofit organization integrate faith in creative but faithful ways into the very style in which you do your work? Has the news of the Kingdom “changed everything”? Do you equip people to read widely so you can think Christianly about all areas of life, including work and careers, citizenship and civic life, leisure and entertainment, money and creation-care? This call to read and study and embrace life-long learning towards deeper fidelity in learning how to navigate faithfully within our Babylonian culture of idols and ideologies is a great challenge, a new aspect of discipleship for some. I hope your faith community is about all of that.

(And, of course, although Jubilee [and the books we suggest here at BookNotes] reminds us of the need for deep cultural analysis of the distorted ways of thinking about structures, institutions, ideas, and policies, we must also think quite practically. We care about public affairs and the more personal — are leaders taken with power and egoism? Is servanthood and kindness commonplace? Do people pray for one another and treat each other with respect? Do we embody personal integrity? Is there trust within the folks within your church or organization? These, too, are Kingdom practices discussed often at Jubilee.)

We hope our bookstore has helped in some small way as you have worked to be a gracious agent of change, in your church and in your circles in the broader world and the culture at large. We need books to help us know how to be faithful salt and light and leaven. As we head home from this stellar, extraordinary, Pittsburgh event with students each February we are also so struck by the great opportunity we have been given to serve our store’s customers and various organizations across the country. We are thankful.

Now, for the slow unboxing and reshelving. This only shows one corner of our store — there are boxes everywhere! Wanna make it a bit easier on us?

Buy some books.

40% off for the next 4 days; 50% off the final two listed // Sale ends Tuesday (2-27-24) night at midnight.

Here are just a few of the books we had for sale at Jubilee — a bit of what we call in the biz “overstock.” These are excellent titles and we’d love to get them into your hands. Order a bunch. We’ll sell ‘em now at 40% off (or 50% off for the last two listed) but for four days only and while supplies last on each. After February 27, 2024 they will revert to our typical BookNotes 20% off.

We take about 150 categories of books, including lots of scholarly and semi-scholarly texts. From legal theory to aesthetics, urban planning to nursing, from disability studies to business, politics to sexuality to science to schooling, we have lots. But these are some general ones, mostly, that you might enjoy. They are 40% off for the next four day.

What If Jesus Was Serious About Heaven? Skye Jethani (Brazos) $16.99 SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $10.19

I highlighted this from up front, happily noting that it is an easy read, but provocative, with cartoons. Perhaps like N.T. Wright’s perspective offering insights about the Kingdom of God, Tish Harrison Warren (who has done main stage talks at Jubilee) says it offers aid “and a luminous, sturdy hope.” Highly recommended — for adults, of course, but youth could read it, too. Yes!


Kingdom Come: How Jesus Wants to Change the World Allen Mitsuo Wakabayashi  (IVP) $24.00  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $14.40

Another study which explores the under-explored theme of the reign of God. In what ways is the gospel the announcement of the regime change happening, of the inauguration of the Kingdom coming, “on Earth as it is in heaven?” Wakabayashi has shared the gospel of Christ’s salvation often, and when he came to study the theme of the Kingdom, we realized he had to tell the gospel story more faithfully. This is an amazingly useful book, one that I know has trasnformed countless lives and healthy ways. It is very highly recommended.


Do Something Beautiful: The Story of Everything and A Guide to Finding Your Place In It  R.York Moore (Moody Press) $13.99   SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $8.39

York is the fairly new President of the CCO and a friend; this clear book excites me each time I look through it; I like it a lot. Easy and delightful to read, Do Something Beautiful invites us to enact goodness in the world, to add beauty. What a solid but creative way of announcing the Kingdom and showing the implications of the gospel as it is unleashed in the world.  It’s a colorful, handsome, little book, too, a joy to behold. For anybody who has muttered, “There has to be more than this, right?” Hooray.

A Liturgy in the Wilderness: How the Lord’s Prayer Shapes the Imagination of the Church in a Secular Age D.J Marotta (Moody Press) $14.99  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $8.99

The subtitle says it all. Marotta is an Anglican priest and smart, smart guy — you may catch the allusion to Charles Taylor — and this lovely little book is a fine example of his solid, creative work. It was a joy to meet him (and to hear about another book on the saints of the church that he has coming out before too long, done collaboratively with an artist in his parish) at Jubilee this year. This recent one explores so well that ancient notion of how what we pray shapes what we believe which shapes how we actually live. Amen and Amen.

Your Minds Mission Greg Jao (IVP) $8.00  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $4.80

I will not wax eloquent on how I love this little booklet but if you are curious by what we mean by “thinking Christianly” or what a generative, creative, view of worldview might be like, or why study and reading widely matters, this booklet is worth its weight in gold. In the few minutes I have up front to talk about books during each major plenary session, I choose to take a minute and read a moving passage from page 8. Men and women, adults or students should all have a few of these on hand, always.


Being God’s Image: Why Creation Still Matters Carmen Joy Imes (IVP) $22.00  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $13.20

I’m sure you’ve seen me highlight this before, insisting that it is just grand, so informative, unlocking many aspects of what we are to believe and do when we reflect on God’s original plan. A study of the creation narrative, removing a theologically rich and Biblically astute picture, Being God’s Image is one of my favorite recent books. Dr. Imes — a respected and increasingly in-demand Bible scholar — did the Jubilee talk on creation last year (2023) and hit it out of the park, as they say. This book wasn’t out yet, then, so this year we touted it, hoping those who so enjoyed her last year would pick it up. And many did. We wanted you to have an opportunity to grab it now, with this deep discount. Maybe you have a Bible study group or Sunday school class who might want to work through it. Believe me, it’s readable yet profound, asking about who God is, what it means to be human, and why we should care about God’s good world. Hooray.

All Shall Be Well: Awakening to God’s Presence in His Messy, Abundant World Catherine McNiel (NavPress) $15.99  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $9.59

When we start the Jubilee conference on Friday night there is a talk on the goodness of creation; all of us live and move and have our being (as the apostle Paul put it, swiping a Greek pop culture adage of his day) in an ordered cosmos upheld by the Triune God who declared it all good. One can hardly serve God in the world (let alone in careers and professions) without knowing this foundational truth. One way to deepen that awareness, of course, is to read the arts and sciences and explore stuff like Andy Crouch’s must-read Culture Making. But I also like to highlight narratives like this…a beautiful young writer meanders through four seasons in her life, finding God’’s presence in the good and the bad, the beautiful and the broken. Lovely, luminous, wise (and with a foreword by poet Luci Shaw.)

Beyond Colorblind: Redeeming Our Ethnic Journey Sarah Shin (IVP) $18.00  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $ 10.80

Often, for those of us who have empathy for the marginalized or repressed, we’ve learned a bit about systemic racism and social injustices. Often we talk about race and ethnic diversity in light of the gross sin of racism. At Jubilee, I like to highlight this book up front the first night suggesting that before we talk about racism, as such, we can celebrate that God made the possibilities for an ethnically diverse world; multicultural concerns are not merely a result of the fall, but are the way things are supposed to be. God honors us with different sorts of racial and ethnic configurations and while it is true that we, as humans, have distorted our ethnicities, it can be said, still, that our ethnicity is a foundational good part of who we are. Hooray.

This book explains much of this and more. It is important and challenging, what James Choung has called “groundbreaking.” Ken Wytsma, after noting how beautifully written and astute it is, says that “Sarah Shin takes readers on a deep, honest, and spiritual journey… I can’t recommend Beyond Colorblind highly enough.”

Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. (Eerdmans) $24.99  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $14.99

If we open the Jubilee event with a talk on creation, the Saturday morning main stage keynote talk is about what theologians call “the fall.” That is, the goodness and beauty and order of creation, is now — as we all know — “not the way it’s supposed to be.” Some years I highlight this vital title, even if it is maybe more than what some young adults are ready to read. It is a serious theology of sin, but it is so well written and wise and even charming (it is Neal Plantinga, after all, who can hardly pen a bad or boring sentence) that I assure them that they will learn much and enjoy it, too. Few believe me that reading a book about the brokenness of the world, the fall, the Biblical doctrine of the fall is necessary. Hence we have some left over. But believe me, this helps illuminate your world, bringing the lights on in fresh ways, offering this summary of sins in a way that is (as The Christian Century review put it years ago) “comprehensive articulate, and well-written.” It illustrates the topic with lots of then-current news reports, studies, and pop culture references and shows that most foundationally, sin is “a vandalization of shalom.” He, too, starts with creation (and has a final chapter on re-creation, the renewal and restoration the gospel brings) so it is ideal for the story Jubilee tries to tell. It is lively, marvelously done, and offers a wholistic account that we need, badly. First Things called it bracing. Indeed. Don’t miss it.

For Shame: Rediscovering the Virtues of a Maligned Emotion Gregg Ten Elshof (Zondervan) $16.99  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $10.19

I reviewed this several years ago at BookNotes and I think I’m going to read the book again. As you might guess, at an event aimed at young adults, there is much interest in self-help sorts of topics; we’ve got books on forgiveness and depression and sexual ethics and eating disorders. From our families of origin to the anxieties and stress of contemporary living, many young adults are struggling and many are hopeful that books that point them towards gospel-centered, helpful answers can be redemptive for them. Naturally, we have a handful of books in a section on shame and this one seemed to stand out, in part because of its contrary viewpoint. Most books — from Lewis Smedes to Curt Thompson to Brene Brown to Ed Welch and more — have a negative view of shame, but here, Ten Elshof (himself, interestingly, a student of world religions) offers a balanced and nearly positive view of the disturbing emotion. Of course we need not be permanently ashamed in a debilitation manner. But have you no shame? That might be a problem, he says.

Ken Shigematsu, who has written marvelous books on spirituality, and a new one on shame called Now I Become Myself: How Deep Grace Heals Our Shame and Restores Our True Self says:

“Brilliant, clear, and cogent! In the age of social media, where our lives are more exposed than ever, Ten Elshof shows us that the journey out of shame cannot be made by an individual alone but depends on a community of others who will bring the person honor.”

Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in a a Distracted Age Alan Noble (IVP) $24.00  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $14.40

The great (and oh, so droll and witty) Alan Noble was at Jubilee again this year (and his books You Are Not Your Own and On Getting Out of Bed) sold well. This little guy was an award winning title a few years back and remains a major work (in my humble opinion) that ought not be missed. It is a clear-headed but nuanced and rather sophisticated study of distraction and how our daily lives have acquiesced to the trends of “the secular age.”

Karen Swallow Prior suggests that this book shows just “what the next generation of evangelicalism could and should look like — grounded, faithful, and circumspect.” As she notes, Alan “asks all the right questions and leads us to better answers.” What does bearing witness look like in our time and place, in this era, given our zeitgeist? Published in 2018 Disruptive Witness is more timely now than it was then.

It’s Not What You Think: Why Christianity is About So Much More Than Going To Heaven When You Die Jefferson Bethke (Thomas Nelson) $16.99  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $10.19

Are you new to the Christian faith and feel a bit confused about what it is supposed to be all about?  Or maybe you have kids or grandkids who are pushing back against conventional piety and church life? I’d say that may be a good thing — let them let go of bad religion. So often, despite our best efforts, we have been getting the story wrong. This young buck is fun and feisty and, as an evangelical pastor, offers really fun chapters on various misconceptions about faith and religion. I highlight this from up front, hoping some students who think they know what Christianity is will pick it up and be walloped or charmed into a bigger, better vision of relevant, faithful discipleship.

Jeff has written another terrific book that rattled more of my assumptions about Jesus. This is a good book, by a trusted friend, about an awesome God who doesn’t play by the rules we keep trying to give Him. — Bob Goff, author Love Does and Live in Grace, Walk in Love

With a deep discernment of the times we’re living in, Jefferson spotlights many misinterpreted truths in the Bible and puts a voice to the true heart of God’s Word. His desire to bring us into a more intimate encounter with God jumps off of each page. Christians need this book–now more than ever! — Lysa TerKeurst, author of Forgiving What You Can’t Forget

The StoryChanger: How God Rewrites Our Story by Inviting Us Into His David Murray (Crossway) $14.99  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $8.99

This is a short book, really engaging, a fine little reminder of the big picture of how we live and how we come to faith. That is, it is about the story of our lives, how that story gets lost, and how Jesus changes the script, overlaying His redemptive story onto the messed up narratives of our own lives. Everyone’s life tells a story. There are joyful parts and hard stuff, exciting times and boring moments. As it says on the back cover, “Sometimes you may wonder who controls the course of my story? If it goes off track, can it be revised? How will it end?

David Murray (PhD from the Virgo Universities in Amsterdam) is the pastor of First Byron Christian Reformed Church and that curious church name has nothing to do with me. But, man, this is a sweet little book, handsomely made with some full pages of color and practical questions to help readers understand God’s grace and have their own story transformed.

The Jubilee conference theme this year was “this changes everything.” Friends, it starts here. Many of us are trapped in a story — moving in a direction, shaped by values or principles that are not viable — and only God can re-route our direction, giving us a new story. This captivating look at Jesus as the StoryChanger is really something. I’d even recommend it for high school students.

On the Road with Saint Augustine: A Real-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts James K. A. Smith (Brazos Press) $19.99  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $11.99

One of the challenges of selling books to contemporary college students — especially just a year or so after the pandemic — is that they frankly often don’t know the rock star authors who are popular among their tribe even a few years ago. Jamie Smith has spoken at Jubilee more than once, knows CCO well, shares some influences (like the early leaders of the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto) and he once did a knock-out, fabulous main stage plenary address back in the era of “Occupy Wall Street.” Smith called that talk “Occupy Creation” which was a fabulous reflection on our calling to be engaged faithfully and energetically in God’s world. As his teacher Calvin Seerveld used to say, “culture is not optional” and Jamie reminded us of healthy ways to live well in a good, if fallen, world, in a very complicated, technological culture. Smith’s work is quintessentially Jubilee-esque. But yet, today’s rising generation doesn’t know who he is.

There was a workshop option (among so many) this year early on the early church learning from the first few centuries of Christian thinking, with a bit of a long stop on Augustine. Naturally, the presenter drew on Austin Gohn’s A Restless Age: How Saint Augustine Helps You Make Sense of Your Twenties and, of course, Smith. Jamie makes the case that the north African bishop, even before his rise to become one of the enduring theologians ever, was a seeker, a restless soul, one with burdens to be confessed, who knew what it meant to discover God. He is ideal for 21st century, postmodern-ish young adults and Smith’s book is an ideal invitation to that kind of an intentional life.

If you’ve not read this book about Smith’s journey into Italy following the steps of Augustine, you really, really should. Smith is on my short list of those I’d read anything he writes; I might suggest he serve you in that way, too. In any case, this great book is now in paperback and we have some left over after our great Jubilee experience telling students about it. Maybe they are too young for it. I bet your not. Please, check it out. It is, finally, as one reviewer put it, “a tour of the human heart.”

Not every Christian book these days comes with back cover blurbs from a member of the Avett Brothers, the heavy philosopher Charles Taylor, radio guru Krista Tippett, Jesuit James Martin, and United Methodist church historian Justo Gonzalez. Wow.

The Spacious Path: Practicing the Restful Way of Jesus in a Fragmented World Tamara Hill Murphy (Herald Press) $18.99  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $11.39

I am not saying anything new to remind you that we live in very, very hectic times. Young adults all complain about being too busy and our on-line digital habits have not always helped; many scholars have suggested it has been insidious, creating a toxic culture which has eroded many people’s mental health. In any case, we have to figure out how to enter into, as Tamara puts it, “a life ordered by restful rhythms of listening and love.”

For centuries, the “Rule of Life” was a spiritual tool to help us find a loving pathway for living out the whole gospel. There was much talk about this at Jubilee, with books on sabbath and spiritual practices. (Even Justin McRoberts was there again, teaching on his recent book Sacred Strides, which is an upbeat hoot of a title, wise and fun.) I featured this in a big stack hoping students would resonate with this idea of a restful, slower pace of life but also of the invitation to create a rule, to form communities that are shaped by such Benediction notions. As Lisa Colon Delay puts it, The Spacious Life is life-giving. “Her rich work reveals many specific ways that we can feel God’s embrace; and even better, how we can always begin again.”

Working From the Inside Out: A Brief Guide to Inner Work That Transforms Our Outer World Jeff Haanen (IVP) $18.00  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $10.80

It is a long story than you need to learn here, but I believe that the 1970s and early 1980s Jubilee conferences played a role in the now blossoming faith and work movement, from helping to inspired Tim Keller’s Center for Faith & Work at Redeemer in NYC to being early platforms for the then vital speaker and author William Diehl of Bethlehem Steel to generating conversations about distinctively Christian banking philosophy with Pittsburgh’s own black leader and friend, Robert Lavelle (of the respected Dwelling House Savings and Loan.) More than once as a young man at Jubilee in the late ‘70s I heard the CLAC (Christian Labour Association of Canada) talk about their work in industrial relations.  In any case, the grand truth that God invites humans to partner with God to develop the creation (see Genesis 1: 26-28 and, again, Genesis 2: 15) offers a foundational framework for thinking about work and all our labors.

Now, decades later, we are moving to newer ways to talk about our vocations in the work world and Jeff Haanen has been one of the key leaders of what I sometimes call the faith and work 2.0 movement. He is one of this generation’s brightest spots, an important voice, President, until recently, of Denver’s Institute for Faith + Work. This new book explores how our interior lives shape us to be fruitful in our “outer” work. This new book is a living gem, easy to read, thoughtful, so very, very helpful from a sophisticated and wise leader. We touted it up front at the day-before “Jubilee Professional” event along with the new one by his colleague, Johanna Meyers, Women and Work and Calling by Joanna Meyer. Kudos.

Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good Step Garber (IVP) $20.00  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $12.00

Steve is one of my dearest friends and a regular cheerleader for our work in curating book lists and selling fiction and nonfiction to friends far and near. You know his three very well written, exceptionally thoughtful works, Fabric of Faithfulness, Visions of Vocation, and the lovely, collection of shorter essays, The Seamless Life. If you have followed BookNotes long, you know I circle back to his books time and again. Did you know he once directed the Jubilee conference back when he worked for the CCO and lived in Pittsburgh? (Some of the stories in Fabric, actually, about higher education and young adults living into notions of truth and having mentors and forming life-long friendships) emerged from his work with folks at Jubilee. He was back, again, this year, and did several presentations. I adore this Visions of Vocation book which is rich and thoughtful and broad and wide and deep. One cannot easily summarize his work or his writing, but between real life stories and wise insights from movies and novels, he invites us to live for the world, propelled by love, knowing, as we do, that the world is good and very, very broken. Can we love well even after we know how complex our hurting world really is? God does! We take up visions of vocation and, like Christ, lay out our lives in joy for the world as it is and as it could be.

This is one of the great books of our lifetime, I believe, and we’re delighted to share a few now at this deeper discount, while supplies last. Please don’t miss it.

Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege Ken Wytsma (IVP)  $18.00 SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $10.80

This book is a bargain at any price but at 40% off, it should be one you get a few of and read together with others. I thought young students might be put off by the critique of privilege and while I don’t know if they were disturbed by what their home preachers who are shaped by Fox News might warn against as “woke” or “CRT” this great book by the great Ken Wytsma is thoughtful, balanced, deeply theological, and insightful about his systemic racism works. In our Saturday morning sessions at Jubilee we were exploring sin and our tendency to lean away from God’s ways and some years speakers tackle racism as an example of the distortions caused by sin and idolatry.

In any case, this one is a good case study of structural sin and social issues and remains, obviously, an urgent topic. This is one of the best overview treatments of the “roots of racial injustice” that I have read and I highly recommend it.

The Myth of Equality is written so skillfully that it’s easy to miss how much it accomplishes. The first part brings to light, with unflinching honesty, how deeply racism and white privilege are embedded within the founding documents and practices of the United States. The second part masterfully shows that this inequality violates the call of the gospel to justice and unity. And the third part offers some wise suggestions to those of us who are white Christians about how we can ‘lay down’ our white privilege. I have no doubt that some readers will be angered by the claim that they participate in and benefit from structures of racism and white privilege, well supported though that claim is. I predict that there will be more who are convinced and inspired by the patient, passionate, and non-defensive way in which Wytsma makes his case.

— Nicholas Wolterstorff, Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology, Yale University, senior research fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia

Live No Lies: Recognize and Resist the Three Enemies That Sabotage Your Peace John Mark Comer (Waterbrook) $26.00  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $15.60

John Mark Comer (who has graced the main stage at Jubilee in years past) is an edgy, cool, youngish writer that young adults seem to know. We sold out of his new one (Practicing the Way: Be with Jesus. Become Like Him. Do as He Did which I joked is “Dallas Willard for Dummies”) and of one of his early books, Garden City which I highlight the first night of Jubilee every year. It is a nearly perfect Jubilee book, energetic and entertaining, subtitled “Work, Rest, and the Art of Being Human.”

But this one. Oh my. Between other titles like The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry and God Has a Name, there was this, which is — without sounding weird – on spiritual warfare. You know that triad of dangers the Bible (and, famously, Luther) spoke of — the world, the flesh, and the devil. Yup. This is the best contemporary exploration of these enemies of our souls that I know of. I suspect, despite how beloved Comer is, this one was just a bit too scary. (Even if it is for those who feel depleted and that it is somewhat couched in lingo about living a false narrative, not just being told lies, but living them.) It’s really powerful. I dare you. Lent is a perfect time for this book — buy one for a friend and go through it together.

Biblical Critical Theory: How the Bible’s Unfolding Story Makes Sense of Modern Life and Culture (Zondervan Academic) $49.99  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $29.99

I didn’t think many of these would sell to students at Jubilee, even with the foreward by the late Timothy Keller, who some may have heard of, but there are a lot of sharp adult shoppers, too, but, alas, we now have a few too many left over. While supplies last, we have ‘em at 40% off — the best price around. This is a very big book, demanding, extraordinary in its learnedness and, in a way, a bit frustrating in what it does and doesn’t accomplish. It is, frankly, an overview of the Bible and how Biblical theology should unfold in a way that engages in fresh ways the many ideas and ideologies in the surrounding world. It is not an expose (or deference) of “cultural Marxism” or a slanderous critique of Critical Race Theory, although I suspect the goofy zeitgeist that got people who knew nothing about it using CRT as a shibboleth, played into the naming the book as they did. Mostly, it is a study of how the Scriptures can be formative for our intellectual lives and our world-and-life views.

Here is how the publisher succinctly tells of it’s nearly 675 pages which seems, to some, to be an modern update of Augustine’s magisterial City of God:

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.

I suppose I can’t fault our 19-or-20 year-old Jubilee kids for not knowing about all this, but many of our BookNotes readers may be inspired by these sorts of rave reviews:

Chris Watkin maps a path out of some of the most fundamental impasses of our time . . . Urgent and weighty, Biblical Critical Theory is, simply, a tremendously exciting read. — Natasha Moore, Centre for Public Christianity

An effervescently brilliant book, that rare volume that excels both in biblical and cultural exegesis. — Bruce Riley Ashford, Kirby Laing Centre for Public Theology The Gospel of Our King: Bible, Worldview, and the Mission of Every Christian

This is the best yet most accessible exploration of the intersection between Christianity, culture, and philosophy I’ve read in recent years. — Nathaniel Gray Sutanto, Reformed Theological Seminary, Washington, DC, Neo-Calvinism: A Theological Introduction

The Liturgy of Politics: Spiritual Formation for the Sake of Our Neighbor Kaitlyn Schiess (IVP)18.00  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $10.80

One of the great aspects of Jubilee 2024 was the panel discussion sponsored by CPJ (Citizens for Public Justice) which brought together their director (Stephanie Summers, co-author with Michael Gerson of Opportunity) and founder James Skillen (author of, among other brilliant, reasonable works, The Good of Politics) and Wheaton College prof Vincent Bacote (three cheers for his exceptional wise, if short and simple, The Political Disciple: A Theology of Public Life.) In and among these old friends of the CCO came Kaitlyn Schiess who I’m told was spectacularly insightful and fun (as she is on “The Holy Post”, the podcast she helps host.) With endorsements from Matthew Kaemingk, Mako Fujimura, Molly Worthen, Jim Skillen, Kristen Deede Johnson,Sharon Hodde Miller and other authors we love, you should know this is an incredible book, a resource maybe able to help you ask others — especially younger believers, but oldsters, too — what shapes your public life, from what sources do you get your political ideas, how did you come to believe what you do about politics? She insists that “the way out of our political morass is first to recognize the formative power of the political forces all around us and then to recover historic Christian practices that shape us according to the truth of the gospel.”

In a way, this could serve as a companion to the new Michael Wear book, The Spirit of Our Politics: Spiritual Formation and the Renovation of Public Life. Her work is so good. Schiess has also recently written The Ballot and the Bible and is currently working on a PhD at Duke, studying with Luke Bretherton. Get The Liturgy of Politics today and if you like it as I hope you do, maybe plan a book club to read it together with others. Before this fall!

A Christian Field Guide to Technology for Engineers and Designers Ethan Brue, Derek Schuurman & Steven Vanderleest (IVP Academic) $28.00  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $16.80

I hope you recall me touting this before, insisting it is nearly a one-of-a-kind volume, a spectacular example of what we mean by “thinking Christianly” and “integrating a Christina perspective with a discipline or vocation. These guys are remarkable — one has a PhD in mechanical engineering, one has a PhD in electrical engineering, and the other a PhD in computer engineering. Each has worked in industry and are now professors. They are good writers and this book does what any good book might do — inviting us to think well about the field, about technology in general and about how engineers do their work in particular. Can designing and using technology actually be a way of loving God and our neighbors? Very highly recommended.

Three Views on Christianity and Science edited by Paul Copan and Christopher Reese (Zondervan Academic) $18.99   SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $11.39

Every career area should have a book like this (and a few do, like, say, one on psychology and one on politics.) This assumes that there is some natural relationship between faith and science. Of course, many agree that we need to integrate our convictions about God from the Bible into and alongside our study of the natural world; who doesn’t want a “Christian perspective”? But even how I said it just now is perhaps problematic and different serious thinkers about this question have different nuances of the details of what this project looks like. Which is right?

Here we have an “independence view” (where science and theology operate independently of each other, seeking answers to different questions) and a “dialogue view” (where science and theology are distinct areas of human knowledge yet can engage in legitimate and productive dialogue) and what the third author calls a “constrained integration view” where each discipline (science and theology) mutually inform and constrain each other, since all created reality is the conceptually integrated product of the divine. These three views are explained by Michael Ruse, Alister McGrath, and Bruce Gordon and after each chapter, the other two reply. As with other books in the Counterpoint series, we get different views and rebuttals and replies.

The Language of Science and Faith: Straight Answers to Genuine Questions Karl Giberson & Francis Collins (IVP) $24.00  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $14.40

This is a fairly easy to read hardback in a good Q & A format, offered in cooperation with the great BioLogos Foundation. Giberson is a “theistic evolutionist” who has written as an evangelical biologist and Francis Collins, you may know, is a world-class geneticist. This book is “destined to become a classic” says the Senior Medical contributor for ABC News (Dr. Tim Johnson.) Rave reviews come from folks as diverse as Harvard scholar of astrophysics, Owen Gingerich and philosopher of science at Fuller, Nancy Murphy.  We always feature it at Jubilee as it is a good entry level book for young science majors or anyone interested in “the language of God” and how modern science and Biblical faith might relate.

Imagining Our Neighbors As Ourselves How Art Shapes Empathy Mary McCampbell (Fortress Press) $28.00  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $16.80

What a blast it was having the always-fascinating, lively, and seriously-Christian insights of Mary McCampbell at Jubilee 2024. She spoke about what CCO calls academic discipleship — that is, how students can learn to love God with their minds and relate Biblical insights naturally into their college classrooms and studies — and, of course, did a workshop on this extraordinary book. It is a bit on the scholarly side so maybe it was a bit much for some students, but they were enhanced by her stories, illustrations, and very impressive discernment about narratives of various forms.

As you may recall, when we first announced this we talked about how it shows how narrative can shape empathy, and she uses as examples work from novels, naturally, but also TV shows, country songs, graphic comic books, video games, stories of all sorts. The opening section on the formation of empathy, drawing on the story of the Good Samaritan, is among the best stuff I’ve read on this. Narrative can make us better neighbors, she insists. She shows how it works.

This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories That Make Us Cole Arthur Riley (Crown) $18.00  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $10.80

Beth and I have had our names mentioned in books before but to be acknowledged in this best seller has really, truly, meant a lot. You see, Cole (and her husband) have had connections with the CCO and have been involved in Jubilee’s past and have been dear to us for a long time. This memoir is a gorgeously written, raw and real story of Cole’s early days as a child in Pittsburgh, her experiences as a black woman sometimes hanging with mostly white evangelicals, and the formation and sometimes alienation that all of that helped cause. It is a story about faith and about the body, her learning to live stories and her living her own story — and writing it! — with great beauty and integrity.

I won’t say much but if you know her famous Instagram platform, “Black Liturgies” you will know a bit about her. We also have, by the way, her latest, which I have also highlighted here at BookNotes, the spectacular Black Liturgies: Prayers, Poems, and Meditations for Staying Human. In any case, This Here Flesh is a book we take everywhere and it was fun explaining to some who were browsing our memoir section at the conference, that we knew her.


WE’VE SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST — WE ARE SELLING THESE TWO AT HALF OFF. For the next four days, this is obviously a great opportunity for you as we sell them at a price we can rarely afford to offer. While supplies last, of course. Both were main stage speakers at Jubilee 2024 and although we’ve featured their good books before, now they feel like new friends. Hooray! Let’s do this.

Redeeming Vision: A Christian Guide to Looking at and Learning from Art Elissa Yukiko Weichbrodt (Baker Academic)  $29.99  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $14.99

This is one of the great books of last year, a lush and glorious text, with many, many full color reproductions. Dr. Weichbrodt is a stellar, young scholar, a passionate Christian working with a solid angle of vision, telling us about why the arts matters, how to better understand visual cues in paintings, exploring the fascinating interpretations of art history, and helping us all relate faith to our efforts at art appreciation. We’ve honored this book before with robust enthusiasm, and having heard her speak (and watched her browse the book display, including our titles on the arts, creative, aesthetics, and such) we are huge fans. This is a great book by a great Christian scholar and we invite you to take advantage of this flash sale. After the deadline the regular BookNotes discount of 20% off will be back in place, but for how, this is a great deal on an excellent book.

I wish Redeeming Vision had been in my hands when I was a young Christian seeking to understand how to connect my faith, my love of art and beauty, and my mere humanity. This book isn’t just for art lovers; it is for thinkers, believers, skeptics, wonderers, and all humans. Redeeming Vision is instructive, engaging, delightful — in a word, outstanding. — Karen Swallow Prior, author of On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books and The Evangelical Imagination

Redeeming Vision is an erudite and yet wonderfully hospitable invitation for the layperson to engage deeply with art and art history through a profoundly Christian theological perspective. A vital contribution to the library of any sincere student of visual culture and its central importance in our lives. — Bruce Herman, gallery director, Barrington Center for the Arts

Reading Black Books: How African American Literature Can Make Our Faith More Whole and Just Claude Atcho (Brazos Press) $19.99  SPECIAL SALE PRICE = $9.99

Oh my, speaking of a fabulous flash sale on a great, great book — at ten bucks you simply can’t go wrong. In my own speaking (about the importance of books and nurturing the reading life) this year I’ve been quoting from this; there are a couple of paragraphs that are so very moving I can’t help but share them. I’m a huge fan of Father Atcho, an Anglican priest, church planter (in Charlottesville, VA) and a part-time college prof, teaching literature to young adults. My, my, he’s my kind of guy.

This is a book that explores the value of literature, especially historic black literature. Each chapter brilliantly relates a theological theme found in a classic text of the African American experience. For instance he explains the image of God in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and our understanding of sin in Richard Wright’s Native Son. Salvation is explored by telling about the great Zora Neal Hurston’s Moses, Man of the Mountain. By engaging other great authors Atcho explores healing and memory (from Toni Morrison’s Beloved) and topics such as justice and lament and hope. Wait until you see what he does with Jesus from Countee Cullen. There are discussion questions, too, which would make this a great book club choice. Come on, people!

Atcho offers us one part riveting English class and one part soul-stirring theological groundwork. His work reminds us of the truth that Black voices are more than trendy. Atcho’s words inspired me to revisit each and every work he profiled with fresh eyes and renewed appreciation. — Jasmine Holmes, Carved in Ebony: Lessons from Black Women Who Shape Us and Crowned with Glory: How Proclaiming the Truth of Black Dignity Has Shaped American History




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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Sadly, as of February 2024 we are still closed for in-store browsing. COVID is not fully over and is on the rise. 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 getting worse. It is still 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 long 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. 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. It’s sort of fun, actually. We are eager to serve and grateful for your patience as we all work to mitigate the impact of disease. We are very happy to help, so if you are in the area, do stop by. We love to see friends and customers, old and new.

We are happy to ship books anywhere. 

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

LENT 2024 — all books mentioned 20% OFF

Maybe you saw my Facebook video about us packing up for Jubilee, the big collegiate conference in Pittsburgh (and the Friday afternoon event, Jubilee Professional.) It’s the biggest gig we do all year, an event that has been important to us since the late 1970s, before we ever became the event bookseller. With the truckload of stuff we take we become one of the most interesting bookstores in the tri-state region for those three days and we are working hard today to get the rented truck loaded up (in the snow) and on the road to Pittsburgh (about four hours West.) It’s been a long obedience in the same direction for us these many years and we are grateful to the CCO for holding this visionary event and allowing us to play a role year after year. To get a glimpse of what it’s all about, read my BookNotes last year’s epic post-Jubilee post or visit the current 2024 conference website.

Since we’ve been working 15-hour days for several weeks straight I am sorry to say that I didn’t get a good Lenten BookNotes newsletter out in time. Pray for my frazzled brain. But we’ve got 40 more days (and I will circle back before with more appropriate titles for Holy Week) so here are a few new titles I want you to know about. See a few other Lenten suggestions HERE or HERE. You can, of course, use the search engine at the BookNotes tab at our website and find even more older lists. Just known that some books may have gone out of print and certainly prices may have changed…

Here are some that are mostly new this year. 20% off.
Our staff are here at the shop and are eager to serve you. Scroll to the end to use the secure order tab. Thanks.

Lent: The Season of Repentance and Renewal Esau McCaulley (IVP) $20.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00

This was the first release, last year, in the lovely and wise Fullness of Time series. Many adored Tish Warren’s Advent which was followed by one on Christmas (which was excellent, by Emily Hunter McGowin) and the famous Fleming Rutledge’s Epiphany. You will be hearing more in a month or so about Pentecost by Emilio Alvarez. The senior editor and curator of this whole series is Rev. Dr. Esau McCaulley, who wrote the important Reading While Black and a stunning memoir, How Far to the Promised Land. His small-sized Lent is the first in this series and we obviously couldn’t let the season pass without offering this fine overview. The first paragraph reminds us that “Lent is inescapably about repenting.” Yep. Don’t miss it.

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded: A Liturgy for Daily Worship from Pascha to Pentecost Jonathan Gibson (Crossway) $32.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $26.39

I’m not sure you’d see such a handsome, thoughtful, nicely printed, slipcased volume of liturgical prayers from a conservative Reformed guy like this before the recent renaissance in litany and prayer books, but we are thrilled. Gibson (PhD, University of Cambridge) is ordained in a UK Presbyterian off-shoot denomination and currently teaches OT at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. His previous volume, like this one, is also slipcased and offered liturgies for daily prayer in a Celtic sort of spirit called Be Thou My Vision.)  This new devotional is arranged with a Call to Worship and words for adoration, the reading of the law, confessions of sin, assurances of pardon, creeds and praises and catechism and more. From prayers for illumination before Scripture and Prayers of reflection and intercession after, this prayer book is artfully designed and obviously well crafted. It is very much about what Christ has done in his temptations, life, trial, passion, death, burial, resurrection, ascension. And Pentecost. Wow.

Unburdened: A Lenten Journey Toward Forgiveness  Carol Penner (Herald Press) $16.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59

What a lovely and good book this is about how sin weighs us down and, yet, how we long for freedom. We stock almost all the new books Herald Press does and while they are true to their Mennonite tradition, not all of their authors are necessarily Anabaptist. In this case, the author has served as a pastor and campus minister and a prof at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario (which is Mennonite.) She has written books on worship and on resisting violence against women, even in historic peace churches. We’ve respected her from afar for quite a while.

Unburdened is not sentimental or cheap and it realizes that forgiveness can be elusive. Her reflections are serious and wise and there are prayers, Scripture and stories (about both individuals and communities, people and institutions) that have taken steps towards freedom by practicing the Christian art of forgiveness.

Blurbs on the back are fascinating, one nice one from poet Luci Shaw, another by Baylor University prof (and serious scholar) Jonathan Tran, and an endorsement from Isaac S. Villegas, a contributing editor for the Christian Century. It has been called “beautifully honest” and “challenging.”

Although these six weeks of reflections can be used individually, there is a small group discussion guide in the back as well. Nicely done.

Show Me the Way: Daily Lenten Readings Henri Nouwen (Crossroad) $19.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.96

Maybe it was just me (probably it was just me) but I thought this had gone out of print. I swear a year ago nobody could find it, from the big chains on down. Although over 50,000 have sold since it first released in Holland in 1992, Show Me The Way is a beloved, modern classic. And this year, we have it! Hooray.

The appropriate cover art by Vincent van Gogh matches the other compact-sized paperbacks in this great series, such as Life of the Beloved, Here and Now, Finding My Way Home, The Only Necessary Thing. 

“The longing and expectation of the 40 days of Lent are deeply expressed in this collection from Father Nouwen’s extensive writings. For each day, he offers a scripture guide for the path to Calvary and speaks as one who shares our difficulties in making the choice for Christ over the promises of worldly power and riches.”  –The Bulletin

Pause: Spending Lent with the Psalms Elizabeth F. Caldwell (WJK) $17.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.60

Liz Caldwell is a beloved Christian educator, popular in several denominations (and certainly in APCE, the Association for Presbyterian Church Educators) and she has written several books about the faith life of children. She has done children’s Bibles and was a member of the Common English Bible board of editors. (She has taught pastoral theology at McCormick and Vanderbilt.) Pause, one reviewer noted, is “an immersion in divine poetry.”

The endorsements on this new guide — for personal use or small group study — are evocative and moving. One calls it a “soulful volume” while another says it is a “holy handbook.” Jack Seymour says she “guides us to drink deep of the wisdom of the Psalms.”

Most Biblical citations are from the NRSVue and CEB. There are great questions to ponder. There’s a good teacher’s guide in the back, too.

Women Who Followed Jesus: 40 Devotions on the Journey to Easter  Dandi Daley Mackall (Paraclete Press) $21.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $17.59

I’ll be honest — a few years back I rolled my eyes at some sweet children’s Bible book that this author had done until one of my more attentive colleagues here at the store assured me that it was actually pretty good; impressive, even. Her simple kids books were better than we might expect from some evangelical publishers, and we became nearly instant fans. We’ve followed her books for children and middle school readers, and, increasingly, her adult books as well. She has been awarded and graced with very impressive reviews. Her Three Wise Women: 40 Devotions Celebrating Advent with Mary, Elizabeth, and Anna (also published by Paraclete) was wonderfully done, well written and creative without being overly edgy or provocative, and it was gorgeously designed. That one clearly set the bar for this brand new one.

Women Who Followed Jesus offers the classic 40 day’s worth of readings for Lent which invites us to “contemplate, ponder, and glory in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.” Mackall readily helps us do that because, well, she is a novelist. A storyteller, a teacher. Her exploration of the lives and faith of eight faith-filled women who walked with Jesus will be helpful to you, I’m sure. They are somewhat thought-provoking and quite Bible-based.

As it says on the back, “At this special time of. year, allow the sacred stories of these women devoted to Christ to encourage you with their examples of persistence, hope, sacrifice, grace, and love.” Not bad, eh?

Women Who Followed Jesus is nicely created with some handsome violent ink on sturdy paper, a satin, ribbon marker, and some handsome floral illustrations. Kudos to Paraclete. Not bad from a gal from rural Ohio, eh. Hooray.

Season of Beauty: A Lent and Easter Treasury of Readings, Poems, and Prayers Paraclete editors (Paraclete Press) $21.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $17.59

We so appreciate Paraclete Press, the classy, indie publisher from near Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Their story is not mine to tell, but they haves in the liturgical churches (Catholic and Epsiopalian), in charismatic renewal, intentional Christian living in community, and in upscale publishing on spiritual formation, Catholic renewal, and historic, solid, ecumenical faith expressions. (They are also known for their Gregorian chant CDs, choir recordings and ministry, and a line of books about faith and the arts, not to mention a very impressive imprint for faith-based, gritty, serious fiction.) But I digress.

This is a lovely volume created by their team including Scripture, poems, writings from beloved authors — including mystics, poets, and saints — arranged alongside reproductions of great works of historic religious art. You will see Gustav Klimt and Renoir and Botticelli (and some which may surprise you) next to excerpts byDostoyevsky, Kierkegaard, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Louisa May Alcott and more. (There are more modern voices, too, from the likes of Scott Cairns and Nikki Grimes.) They’ve added handsome full color illustrations on solid, glossy paper, and a nice, yellow, ribbon marker.

They say, “It is our prayer that these words and images will capture your heart, mind, and spirit, and help you to contemplate the love of Christ during these holy days of mystery and miracles.” Kudos.

I was saying to somebody that we were taking these last two from Paraclete to Jubilee for our little Lent section in the book room there but noted that I wasn’t sure if hip, college kids would be drawn to these lovely, hardback volumes. The person replied that maybe they’d buy them for their mothers. Perfect! Maybe your know an woman of a certain age who would especially like these bonny books.

A Different Kind of Fast: Feeding Our True Hungers in Lent Christine Valters Paintner (Broadleaf) $19.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

This has been our biggest seller so far — I oddly felt like I should announce it during Advent, since that, too, is a sober time of waiting and fasting and yearning, and a number of folks got it from us.

Alas, it has sold well all over the country, we are told — although I doubt that the robots at Amazon have a clue about it — and even the Lutheran publisher is out of it. WE EXPECT MORE BACK IN STOCK THE FIRST WEEK OF MARCH so know if you order it now, it won’t come to you for a few weeks yet. The publisher is glad such a title is in demand, but apologizes for running out.

Fun little fact: there are some handsome woodcuts in this lovely-to-hold paperback volume by an artist who also designed a few album covers for commemorative vinyl releases of records by my pal Bill Mallonee. So there’s that.

+++By the way, if you order this AND another book, it would be good if you tell us if we should send one now and the other one in March, or if we should hold one until that comes, sending them bundled and consolidated. It will help us know how to serve you best.+++  

While we’re at it, we also have most of her other older books, including the recent one called The Love of Thousands: How Angels, Saints, and Ancestors Walk with Us Toward Holiness (Sorin Books; $18.95.)


Nearing a Far God: Praying the Psalms with our Whole Selves Leslie Leyland Fields (NavPress) $16.99   OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59

I could go on and on about how much we respect this woman who is at once nearly glamorous and as down to Earth as can be — she is a commercial fisher-person living and working on an island off the coast of Alaska — and a poetic, creative soul who yet is neither arcane nor abstract. She is artful and real, upbeat and realistic. She has written about fishing, about writing, about storytelling, about parenting (and the other vocations parents also have) and she edited my favorite book on food and faith. She has done an important book on forgiving parents and she has done many workshops, retreats, and church gatherings. Anyway, it is always good when a new book by Leslie Leyland Fields turns up.

And one just turned up yesterday, a bit early, and it seems providential to get to give a shout -out to it here at the beginning of Lent. We have bunches of books on the Psalms, heavy commentaries, devotionals, thoughtfully done explorations. I’ve read Peterson and Berrigan and Gordon Wenham and Brueggemann and more (mostly men, granted.) A favorite is David O. Taylor’s Open and Unafraid; it is a great book, with the added bonus of a forward by Peterson and an afterword by Bono.

Fields doesn’t quote any of these and at my first glance was struck. But you know what she does quote?The Psalms! This really seems to be a solid, honest, maybe even raw, look at what one singer once called “poems, prayers, and promises.” God offers all this in a bewilderingly brilliant and enduring songbook which has shaped the prayer lives of millions who have gone before us.

Does God listen when we talk to him? Does God actually care what we’re feeling? Is it true that this seemingly distant God is actually near — even intimate with us?

Here is what it says on the back:

The ancient pathway of the Psalms can show us how to come to God with our fears, failures, doubts, and wounds and find how much he cares. The psalmists give voice to every human experience — cries of lament, whispers of fear, shouts of praise — and God responds. These raw prayers reveal what an intimate relationship with God looks and sounds like. They provide a clear pattern for us to move toward joy.

Oh my, this is exciting to me, and in her hands, I’m sure this book will soon be on my list of favorite and most-often recommended titles on the Psalter. She is a concise and compelling teacher / writer and there is an activity of sorts at the end of each chapter inviting you to “practice transformative writing.” She offers insights into and helps you engage the seven different forms of the Psalms and by guiding you into an experience with “brain and body.”

The Wood Between the World: A Poetic Theology of the Cross Brian Zahnd (IVP) $24.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.20

I suspect I will want to do a fuller review of this once I have read it, but I’ve been holding off sharing about this again (I had done a brief highlight to invite people to pre-order it.) Now that it is here, The Wood Between the Worlds looks really, really good. There is so much about the atonement, the cross, the work and model of Christ, and how it shapes our own cruciform lifestyle, that it is hard to keep up with the scholarly approaches and fresh insights. Maybe you have even grown weary of the discussions.

Zahnd is making a contribution to this discussion and I gather he offers gentle critique to singular models that don’t give an adequate account of all the might be going on as Jesus suffers and dies and rises again to defeat Death. And yet, this is no standard theology textbook. It is, after all, “a poetic theology.” Even that line should resonate as it points to Lewis’s imaginative fiction.

Make no mistake: Zahn insists that “everything about the gospel message leads to the cross and proceeds from the cross.” In the narrative of Scripture, the crucifixion of Jesus is literally the crux of the story — “the axis on which the biblical story turns.”

I have been impressed with a Lenten message I’ve watched a time or two where Zahn preaches (in front of an enlarged medieval painting) in which he also brings in a story of Dostoevsky. Anyway, it is, as one reviewer put it, “a capacious portrait”

As Eric Peterson writes, Zahnd “breathes new life into the mystery of the cross: the supreme centerpiece of God’s love that radiates redemption and ushers us into the peaceable kingdom.”

There is an insert of full color plates of ancient art and there are inviting quotes from Orthodox and ancient theologians as well as poets like Yates and Hopkins and Eliot, alongside modern writers such as Frederick Buechner, Richard Bauckham, James Cone (juxtaposed with Neil Young) and, of course, Fleming Rutledge. At once a learned, thoughtful book, it looks remarkably inspiring. You should read it this Lenten season.

The Gift of Thorns: Jesus, the Flesh, and the War for our Wants A.J. Swoboda (Zondervan) $26.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59

I have long been an AJ fan, and appreciate Swoboda for his candor, faith, and realistic application of good, Spirited theology to all of life. He has a book about wandering through hard times, one of the very best books on doubt, an excellent one on sabbath-keeping, a few on eco-theology. This brand new one offers some “personal vulnerability” and — in the words of Nijay Gupta, “biblical wisdom and pastoral hope.” Gen Pollock Michel (who has written about desire) says that Swoboda has “comprehensively argued a faithful theology of desire” and that it is “prophetic, pastoral urgency that ignites his words.”

It’s not every author who quotes Abraham Kuyper and Catherine of Siena, Marva Dawn and Thomas Merton, Jamie Smith and Stanley Hauwerwas. What an author he is!

I like that he explores how some demonize desire and others deify it; surely neither is right and we need a better perspective. This is going to be huge and we’re glad such a reliable guide is helping us with this important topic.

Humility: Rediscovering the Way of Love and Life in Christ Michael W. Austin (Eerdmans) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

This book arrived just today and I’m very eager to read it carefully. I am sure I’ll enjoy it — Austin is a philsophy prof (at Eastern Kentucky University) and serves as a scholar at the Dietrich Bonheoffer Insitute. I’ve read his work on conspiracy theories (and QAnon) as well as an excellent survey of the gun debates in America. He is clear, caring, and a voice calling for a focus on character and virtue. It should not be so uncommon, but he insists that love is central to the way of Jesus and he shows here, it seems, that out of love can flow a healthy sort of humility.

I have not yet tackled Humility Illuminated by Dennis Edwards which I highlighted in a previous BookNotes. With a foreword by Marlena Graves and a back cover blurb by Michael Gorman, I am very eager to read it — his Might from the Margins was itself mighty.

But now comes this handsome, small books that I have long awaited, nicely written and mature, by Austin.

As it says on the back cover, “Amid culture wars and church division, Michael W. Austin calls us back to the authentic Way — following Christ in humility and love. Austin gudies the reader through spiritual disciplines to aid in the formation of this virtue, from praying the Psalms to building healthy communities. For Christians seeking union with God, in their souls and in society, Humility is the ideal companion.

As one reviewer notes, it is “about eternal things while very much in the present.” Napp Nazworth continues, in the “up-and down, rough and tumble process of becoming more Christ-like” as he faced his own life, death, and resurrection, Jesus shows us the way. Not a bad book to ponder during Lent, eh?




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 February 2024 we are still closed for in-store browsing. COVID is not fully over and is on the rise. 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 getting worse. It is still 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 long 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. 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. 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.

NEW AND BRAND NEW BOOKS — 20% off at Hearts & Minds

The last few weeks have been a blast for the sort of book lovers who read BookNotes, or at least it has been fun for us, serving those who send orders our way or stop by the Dallastown shop. We did two BookNotes naming some of our favorite titles of 2023; a few were truly exceptional and seem to us to be “must-reads.” Then we did one on some of the more scholarly or academic books we enjoyed talking about this year, and then, less than a week ago, we named a bunch of the novels that we enjoyed. (You can find them archived at our website, of course.)

Right after Christmas and the turning of the calendar into January, new books kept on coming. Don’t ask me why a publisher chooses to release a title a day or two before or after New Year’s  but, complicated as it may be for those who work in retail, we’re thrilled. So thrilled — you see where this is going, I’m sure — we just have to tell you about them.

Here, then, are some new books that have come out while I was busy reminding you of the Best of 2023. Who knows? Maybe some will end up in our “Best of 2024” a year from now.

I’m going to try be brief since, well, I haven’t read most of these, and have only finished one or two, so I’m winging it. But my book spidey-sense is tingling, and I think I can say with confidence that many of our readers will want to know about these. Enjoy.

ALL BOOKS MENTIONED ARE 20% OFF. Scroll to the end to click on the “order” tab.

Gratitude: Why Giving Thanks Is the Key to Our Well-Being Cornelius Plantinga (Brazos Press) $22.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $18.39

Plantinga is a very good thinker and an incredibly talented wordsmith. His little devotional Under the Wings of God was praised by many who read it (and I am holding up in front of the big Jubilee conference later this month two of his books, one on sin and one on learning. He can write well about anything!) This brand new one just came and it is, as you can tell, about gratitude. If it were nearly anybody else I might yawn, but I’m sitting up and taking notice. Calvin University philosophy prof says it is “a treasure of pastoral wisdom on a signature virtue of the Christian life.” Austin Carty, the great author of The Pastor’s Bookshelf, writes, “While reading this book I found myself mentally preparing the sermon series that I will no doubt be preaching on its account.”

He continues:

It is a treasure, and all people — pastors and parishioners, people of faith and people not of faith — would be well advised to read it. Trust me, you’ll be grateful that you did.

Land of My Sojourn: The Landscape of a Faith Lost and Found Mike Cosper (IVP) $24.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.20

I was given an early version of this and when the time was right I inhaled it. I read every paragraph, many twice, and couldn’t believe how good it was. I cried and laughed and sighed and shook my head. I wanted to cuss and I wanted to praise God. Okay, I did both.

It is a complex but easy to read book — and not that long — about two major things: his teacherly account of a couple of trips he took to the so-called Holy Land and his Biblical reflections on these inspired places. It is the best I’ve read in this genre. Enough said.

It is more fundamentally a book about his efforts starting ups (and more, sustaining) an edgy church in Louisville plant for disillusioned artists, cynics listening to hard indie-rock, kids who maybe were deconstructing their evangelical faith before that was a thing. Look; I’m not that interested in church planting (in fact, I’ve been known to make a case that we have too many churches and the last thing we need are more, heaven help us.) But I’ve read my share of books about all this and this was amazing. The hopes and dreams. The passion and care. The beauty and goodness and friendship and common vision. Until it, well, wasn’t.  Until narcism and toxic stuff emerged. His faith was shaken and he and his wife found that some friends who they assumed they “do life” with were hardly speaking — in part due to tensions at the edgy cool church, and, oddly, even there, due to the Trump thing, the fear of all things woke. Man, he didn’t expect that.

It is a sad book, an honest book, an account of a journey unlike what many of us have endured, I would guess, but yet — oddly — I related to every line. This book meant a lot to me, even though it has not been my experience directly. Whether you directly relate or not, this book could provide both a huge glimpse into what has been going on in certain parts of the church in recent decades and the emotional impact  that it can be for those who have been driven into exile, so to speak. It’s heartbreaking.

You may know Cosper for a great book he did on worship and another on re-enchantment in a secular age. I liked a very good one he did on TV and appreciated on he did on Esther as a model for culturally relevant ministry in a post-Christian era.  He’s sharp and a fine writer, but in this new one he pours out his sad story and it is a blessing.

And, you may know, he did that recent, award-winning, multi-part podcast called “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” — and now I realize why he did that. Whew.

And, to bring it more full circle — he links his emotional story of pathos and failure and doubt to the respite found in study at in the places Jesus walked, the holy land portions of each chapter. It really works, marvelously so. Highly recommended.

A Quilted Life: Reflections of a Sharecropper’s Daughter  Catherine Meeks (Eerdmans) $26.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59

I met Catherine Meeks decades ago when she was travelling with John Perkins, I think. It was half a lifetime ago, and now she has written another autobiographical account of her journey. (I Want Somebody to Know My Name came out in the late 1970s.) She has led quite a life — including service in higher education, in anti-racism work, and as a writer of spiritual formation resources.) This may be the one we’ve most waited for, the wisdom she has garnered over her whole life “from her father’s sharecropping fields to the academy and beyond.”

Gregory E. Sterling of Yale Divinity School calls it “a mesmerizing autobiography.” Angel Sims of Colgate Rochester/Crozer Divinity School calls it “a candid account of a life shaped by juxtapositions and informed by a faith-filled and fierce determination to find her own voice, see beauty in a racist world, and be well.”

The Emancipation of God: Postmarks on Cultural Prophecy Walter Brueggemann (Fortress) $28.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $22.40

I gave a shout out about this when I was listing our favorite books of 2023. Conrad Kanagy had written the extraordinary biography of Walt Brueggemann and I mentioned that he was also editing a volume of Walt’s short, recent pieces that congealed around a theme, and that it would be out soon.

And it is. And is it! The Emancipation of God is a thrilling, excellent, thought-provoking collection of Brueggemann’s reflections about the nature of God (and it’s implications for church and culture.) As you can guess, God is free, but chooses to be in relationship which — well — causes God great grief and regret and hope and rage and investment in God’s own promises.

W.H. Bellinger of Baylor notes that it is a “jewel of delightful and remarkably crafted biblical interpretations” and it seems that is surely the case. Brueggemann is always worth reading, but there is something about Conrad’s wise framing of this, understanding, as he does, that emancipation has been central to Brueggemann’s interpretation project. Of course, part of this is that God is surely free from our attempts to control, and that means, we, as God’s church, should live into greater freedom in this often toxic culture of conformity. This is wild stuff, “a resource that will serve us well.”

Reversing Entropy: Poems Luci Shaw (Paraclete) $22.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $17.60

This just arrived and I couldn’t be happier with it. There are French folded covers, giving it a more classy feel, and there is a nice, brief introductory essay about the notion of entropy. (She notes that what she says there is what she has been trying to do most of her life, which should make us take notice.) Besides this nice prologue, there is a good introductory foreword by the great Paula Huston. The endorsements are extraordinary — good words from Julie Moore and Paul Mariani, and Marilyn McEntyre.

“Luci Shaw is the patron saint of wonder. Of all the loveliness she’s captured, over many decades, this might be her best collection yet.” — Sarah Arthur, author of Once a Queen

“Luci Shaw is the patron saint of wonder. Of all the loveliness she’s captured, over many decades, this might be her best collection yet.”

Telling Stories in the Dark: Finding Healing and Hope in Sharing Our Sadness, Grief, Trauma, and Pain Jeffrey Monroe (Reformed Journal Books) $21.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $17.59

I hope you recall Jeff Monroe’s name as he is the author of the very best book about the great Frederick Buechner. You can sense his appreciation for Buechner in the very allusions of this title, his brand new book.

Telling Stories in the Dark is exceptionally moving and a great read. Not only is it good storytelling but it accomplishes two things really well. Firstly, it holds up its thesis by believing, deep in its writerly bones, that storytelling matters, that our own habits of sharing our life drama, of doing memoir, is redemptive. Especially in hard stuff, it helps to know we are not alone — although, as he shows, it is deeper than that. In any case, each chapter is a well told telling of somebody’s tragedy. It is beautiful, serious stuff.

But here is the second thing: Monroe shows us how to think about these stories — not in a simplistic or cheesy sort of “moral of the story” or formulaic “lesson learned.” Rather, he invites another scholar, counselor, writer, pastor, or poet to help him process the story he has told, stories about lost dreams and lost children, suicide and injustice and more. Some of these folks in the second part of each chapter are authors we have promoted — Chuck de Groat and Marilyn McEntyre and Makoto Fujimura. (Mako helps evaluate Monroe’s moving story of Nicholas Wolterstorff’s book Lament for a Son and Nick’s own journey after the death of his son.)

The book is edifying, touching, and, finally, very helpful. If you need help thinking about your own story, or the stories of those around you, this puts you in touch with the raw pathos but also with some helpful analysis and guidance about appreciating the drama of the lives described.

This is simply a one-of-a-kind book and you will be better for having read it, I promise.

Wounded Pastors: Navigating Burnout, Finding Healing, and Discerning the Future of Your Ministry Carol Howard and James Fenimore (WJK) $25.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $20.00

Another brand new one, I have not even cracked the cover for more than a moment, but I know two things: Carol Howard is a great writer whose work I’ve appreciated much; her co-author is himself a former pastor and seasoned psychotherapist. (She is an ordained Presbyterian pastor herself who grew up in a fundamentalist church and she knows a thing or two about bad images of God and hurtful spirituality, besides this more general question about burnout and hard times in the ministry.) The two, I am sure, have a ton of experience and wise insight.

The book looks to ben quite thoughtful, naturally, but also tender. It will be, I am sure, a solace to many in ministry who have not found resilience or hope and who need to move into a time of discernment about what went wrong and what to do next. It seems practical.  Listen to this, from the publisher:

(The authors) join their expertise to offer validation, support, and guidance for pastors who have been hurt by the church. With wisdom that can come only from experience, they describe and define aspects of struggle and pain readers may have difficulty articulating or claiming for themselves, and they offer compassionate, informed guidance on how to find healing. A systems approach to conflict sheds light on the dynamics of church conflict and how clergy can tend their own well-being amid leadership challenges. The final chapter helps readers consider their overall vocational path based on what they’ve experienced and decide whether they can remain in congregational ministry or need to pursue a different line of work.

Hope Ain’t a Hustle: Persevering by Faith in a Wearying World Irwyn L. Ince (IVP) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

I’m not sure why but I couldn’t put this down — I read it almost straight through one recent Sunday. It is a light study of the book of Hebrews. But — if that exaltation of Jesus the Christ and a Christ-centered worldview isn’t enough — it is written by a respected Black pastor who has written well about multi-ethnic ministry and the imperative of the church to be racially just and culturally diverse. (See his Beautiful Community: Unity, Diversity, and the Church at Its Best for his solid study of that.) In a way, this is a sequel, inviting us to ponder what faith looks like, where hope comes from, and how to live that out in a complicated world. It holds up Jesus and invites us to perservere. The forward is by the important Christina Edmondson (author of Faithful Antiracism and co-author of Truth’s Table: Black Women’s Musings on Life Love and Liberation.)

This wonderful book is a pastoral, homiletical gift to those in need of encouragement. Diagnosing the problem of our era as a failure of hope, Irwyn Ince shares the fruit of his profound meditations, study, and preaching of the book of Hebrews. This is the kind of strong medicine needed to restore hope in a generation that has been disappointed by apathy, injustice, and scandal. He shows us that the hope of the gospel is the secret to joy and endurance. For those who are discouraged, sorrowful, and struggling, this wise book helps us to have eyes to see the beauty of Jesus anew. — Tish Harrison Warren, Anglican priest and author of Prayer in the Night

Divine Generosity: The Scope of Salvation in Reformed Theology Richard J. Mouw (Eerdmans) $19.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.20

Whoa — you may know I jokingly call myself a Mouwist, so you know I had to read this right away. It isn’t academic, but it isn’t breezy, although it is as generous in tone as it is in concept. I’d like to write about it more, but for now you can be assured that it is serious theology that isn’t arcane or overly detailed. But it does get into the weeds. What weeds, you wonder?

Believe it or not, some Reformed preachers (like, say, Jonathan Edwards, brilliant philosopher, academic, scholar, and pastor, and infamous for his  “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” sermon) believe that many, many more people will be in God’s new creation than we might suppose. That is, while they do not disbelief in judgement over evil (that is, they are not universalists) they argue for, and certainly hope for a breadth in God’s mercy. Mouw is unsure of some things, and is as honest as anybody can be before Scripture and theology. He walks us through the key questions, the various spokespersons (especially in his own Dutch Reformed community) for a more limited view of salvation or a more generous sort of scope of redemption. Who has the gift of eternal life, we all should agree, is up to God and we must follow the clues we can in Scripture and the best thinking about Scriptural theology. Mouw helps us through this conversation, cheerfully inviting us to think along with him about divine generosity.

Not everyone will like this, but this is how the publisher reminds us of its importance:

Learned yet approachable, Mouw explains how Christians can affirm God’s justice while holding hope for the wideness of his saving mercy. Congregations today face pressing questions about how to reconcile orthodoxy with empathy in increasingly pluralist neighborhoods and communities. For Reformed pastors, students, and interested laypeople, Divine Generosity serves as a biblically based, doctrinally sound guide.

Jesus Human: A Primer for a Common Humanity Leonard Sweet (The Salish Sea Press) $27.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $22.36

You may know how much I love reading Len Sweet — he is an amazing thinker and knows more books about all sorts of stuff than almost anybody I’ve ever met. He’s got a photographic memory and weaves together quotes and notions and ideas and concepts from all over the world with the hope of helping those who follow Jesus understand the times and know what in the world we should be doing. He’s a postmodern Wesleyan, an evangelical semiotician, and a whimsical writer who, as he says in the acknowledgements, wants to be theologically sound (hence his Reformed brother’s read-through and thumbs up.) Sweet knows Victorian history and early church doctrine; he reads contemporary rhetoric and ancient science (and vice versa) and, here, ancient cosmology and early church Christology as well. Man, just the footnotes will provide an hour of entertainment for the intellectually curious. I’m not kidding!

This book is complicated— Doc Sweet admits that he jumps too quickly from thing to thing and apparently some editor helped home him in, but, God bless her, she didn’t quite pull it off. Every sentence is a wonder, a full-blown (and often provocative) idea, and then he’s on to another. It hangs together, mostly, so far. What a book.

The explorations are creative and generative with some finger-wagging preaching at foolhardy stuff that needs to be called out. There’s lots of grace, too, and lots and lots of energy. He’d call it the Holy Ghost.

As you might tell from the title it is about the full humanity of Jesus and, equally, the need to be fully alive as humans. Call it theological anthropology if you want to sound fancy pants, but this is gospel truth, preached wildly and packed full of the implications of these foundational claims. We are made in God’s image. As Christ-followers we become more human, not less.

We are in dehumanizing times; dangerously so — Sweet calls Abolition of Man prescient which, of course it was. Given modern tech from AI to gene splicing it should be obvious how urgent this project is. (Sweet was one of the first evangelicals to write about Dolly the Sheep — remember her?) It could be argued that our very humanity is at risk and we urgently need a robust theology of human-ness. This is one fun, fairly scholarly, mind-blowing, visionary-sounding place to start.

Whew — I can hardly contain my enthusiasm, even though it is hard to explain the charm of his manic writing and his endless love of alliteration. Enjoy. And then take this big, sturdy book to heart and press on. You know the old line from Ireneus about the glory of God seen in a person “fully alive”— and if you don’t, get this book immediately.

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

This recent book came in last fall and it took a bit into the holiday season to spend some time with it. I kept being drawn to it and wished I had named it a fav of 2023, but I just hadn’t studied it. Now, as I page through it, it really does seem to me like a brand new 2024 title — admittedly, I’m a little late — so forgive me if I announce it again, here, now.

Rooted Faith on Herald Press is a great read, a lovely story about ordinary lifestyle choices of making home well here on this “fragile planet.” You may recall how I raved about one of my favorite reads this past year, At Home on an Unruly Planet, an epic story of four places under threat from climate change. And you surely know we did that webinar recently with Brian Walsh & Steve Bouma-Predigar about the 15th anniversary edition of their heavy, breath-taking, broadly conceived study about cultural displacement called Beyond Homelessness. Well, Rooted Faith captures the same passions as these books, but is more down-to-Earth, faithful but imminently practical, inviting us to consider stuff we can do as intentional practices to care well for the ecology we are a part of.

Writers and activists have raved about this, with a common thread of how generous and whimsical and pleasant and winsome it is, even as it is very serious. Ched Myers notes the “poetic imagination” and Randy Woodley says it “reaches us where we live.”

Debra Rienstra says it provides “a friendly entry point.” I am sure some would enjoy studying together…

The Matter of Little Losses: Finding Grace to Grieve the Big (and Small) Things Rachel Marie Kang (Revell) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

This brand new book is so creatively conceived and so delightfully written that I can tell just by glancing that it is one I will want to revisit, and share with others. The author, Rachel Marie Kang, did another very nice book, Let There Be Art which is a practical and inspiring guide to creativity. It was very well done. This new one is full of stories and rather sophisticated reflections about grief and losses (and the subtitle says, both big and small things.)

But here’s the happy catch, the unexpected delight — I ordered it sight-unseen since I trusted her from her previous book, even though, frankly, we’ve got way too many books about grief and loss and lament on our shelves, not realizing the organizing structure of the book. Each chapter starts with a meditation on a flower. As Ms. Kang takes us into the meaning of the scientific name or the natural history of the plant or the color or aroma or habitat, she gets at something helpful, lovely, even, that moves from God’s common grace to something profoundly Biblical to help us cope.

So, yep, it is set apart in that it helps us with all sorts of grievances and losses and it does so by reflecting nicely on flowers. How ‘bout that? Kudos.

Life Is Hard, God Is Good, Let’s Dance: Experiencing Real Joy in a World Gone Mad Brant Hansen (Thomas Nelson) $18.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

Again, this is a book I ordered because we like the author, in this case, Brant Hansen. His Unoffendable sold well throughout the country (we’re told) and I’m glad, as there is way too much outrage and judgmentalism and his fun book was a bit of solid, winsome outrage against the outrage. Ha. And I adored his book about human sinfulness, The Truth About Us, which was playful and wise, showing (including through social science research) how people usually overestimate their own ethics and expertise. Nope, we’re all a mess and we might as well admit it. I think the first book of his that I read was Blessed are the Misfits. Yep.

Knowing his fun writing style and his lively podcasting tone — he was even once a morning DJ — and the inviting, curious title, I was all in. We ordered a bunch and they came a week or so ago and now you can be the first on your block to learn to live all the truths in that witty title and the hopeful sub-title. Just having a book like this around could be good for your attitude, eh? I keep thinking of David Bowie, whose song “Let’s Dance” said we should “put on your red shoes and dance the blues.” Publishers Weekly called these essays “quirky” and an “optimism booster.” Enjoy.

(And, if anybody is noting it, ahem: I read the acknowledgements. You bet I did.)

Just Be Honest: How to Worship through Tears and Pray without Pretending Clinton Watkins (The Good Book Company) $14.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $11.99

Okay, if the previous one on brokenness in our fallen world was also upbeat and funny, this one is anything but. The author is from central Pennsylvania, a good and thoughtful guy who works in campus ministry, and I helped him a tiny bit choosing some books to research as he wanted to write about the Biblical teaching of lament. I sent the books and wished him well. Little did I know.

Little did I know that Clint and his wife had come to know that their baby wouldn’t live and that they would carry a beloved child that would die at birth, if not before. They were so excited about this baby — announced it to family and friends, picked out a name, bought the stuff. And then the awful news. How does one even begin to cope?

As serious and mature young leaders they knew they could lean in to God’s promises, but yet the horror and outrage and sadness and awkwardness… they needed the Biblical resources of lament in all its human pathos and they needed a faith community that wasn’t so cheery as to exile them from their sacred space. And it was hard.

Well, you can imagine — it was hard even to worship, to praise the goodness of God; it was awful to hear dumb remarks, it was painful to hold such anguish during times that to others was just ordinary time (let alone even happy times.) What to do?

Just Be Honest is not a scholar’s study (although it is informed by solid work) but a father’s awful story of being vulnerable, honest, raw. The first paragraph is one I will never forget. Realizing their son’s Eli day of birth and day of death was one in the same was gut-wreching to read and I felt great admiration for Clint in his willingness to tell this story, starting when his wife’s first pregnancy turned “from wonder to terror.”  I’ve read a lot of books about grief and several good studies of lament and this short one gripped me more than any such narrative, I think. I highly recommend it to any and all, since we will all experience loss at some point, but, perhaps more urgently, there are people in your life that need you to know what to do; that they themselves may need permission to “pray without pretending” and “worship through tears.” This little gospel-saturated, candid story could help.

The Lost World of the Prophets: Old Testament Prophecy and Apocalyptic Literature in Ancient Context John Walton (IVP Academic) $22.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $17.60

Oooh, my, here is one that just came and I haven’t more than swished through the pages yet. I hope you know Walton — his PhD is from Hebrew Union College; and he is an emeritus Old Testament prof from Wheaton College and Graduate School. He has written several academic resources, Bible references tools, and studies of many themes of God’s covenant in the Older Testament. (A very recent in-depth study of how best to read the OT is Wisdom for Faithful Reading.) In recent years he has done a series of books that puts the social and political context of the culture in which various Biblical portions were written, such as The Lost World of Genesis One and The Lost World of Adam and Even (on Genesis two and three) and The Lost World of the Flood. This one on the prophets is my own little bit of wish fulfillment — after the ones on Genesis I said out loud, “Wouldn’t it be great if Walton did one on the lost world of the Hebrew prophets.” Oh yeah, here it is.

A superb guide to reading the message of the prophetic literature with integrity and faithfulness to the God of Israel and Jesus Christ.” — J. Richard Middleton, author of Liberating Image, Abraham’s Silence, and A New Heaven and a New Earth

Reckoning with Power: Why The Church Fails When It’s on the Wrong Side of Power David E Fitch (Brazos Press) $19.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.20

We have a lot of books about leadership and while some are quite useful and really fine, I’ve often had this suspicion that too often some seem to take pop level best sellers in the leadership genre and add a bit of Bible on the top, like icing on a cake, and re-purpose essentially secular notions. And, there have been bunches of books saying that, almost tirelessly so, over the last years. They are asking what does it mean to lead, to be in charge, even, when our Master says it is greater to be a servant; think, just for instance, of Arthur Boers important Servant and Fools: A Biblical Theology of Leadership. Hooray.

In the last couple of years a few other very good books have come out on the core of the question of power. Some of these may be about leadership per say like the magisterial and provocative The Scandal of Leadership: Unmasking the Powers of Domination in the Church by JR Woodward, (with a good foreword by none other than David Fitch) while others have been more generally about how the church takes a posture towards power, generally; one need not be too Biblically aware to see the toxic influence of grasping after MAGA power has had on evangelical witness. Now, with David Fitch as a guide, we can get by that nearly obvious “low hanging fruit” — see the brilliant The Kingdom, the Power and Glory by Tim Alberta for the best expose of that weirdness — and explore even deeper and more subtle ways church folks seem to get “on the wrong side of power.”

How much more, really, can be said?

Ends up, quite a lot, I gather. I just started this and had to set it down for now, but I am sure this is going to be one of the most discussed books — at least it should be — of the year. It shares with Boers and Woodward a vision of Christian postures and practices that aren’t merely mimicking worldly power but is trying to ascertain a truly Biblical and Christian view of power itself. That is, in Reckoning Fitch seems to be doing more, here, than studying power as it has a detrimental effect on leadership, but it’s polluting on our whole Christian culture, and certainly the local church. He is asking what power is and what we mean by it and how it can (or cannot) be redeemed and “adopted” Christianly. As he does this critical assessment I am sure the book is going to be hard hitting. Good blurbs on the back are from the likes of Brian Zahnd and John Fea and Beth Felker Jones.

I am a fan of Andy Crouch’s exceptional Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power and Fitch is not, although I think he mis-reads him (or maybe just doesn’t agree with Andy’s doctrine of creation and all that it implies about the ordering of reality.) But that’s a fine tuning discussion — as I said, this should be one of the most discussed books of the year.

The Servant Lawyer: Facing the Challenges of Christian Faith in Everyday Law Practice Robert Cochran (IVP) $28.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $22.40

Speaking of books we had a tiny hand in helping with, we were so very proud to be among the first to highlight The Servant Lawyer by our friend Professor Bob Cochran. He has written scholarly stuff on jurisprudence and is a lover of the Bible, committed to justice, and a thoughtful advocate for thinking Christian about the legal profession. He has ordered books from us and we’ve met at CLS (Christian Legal Society) events over the years.

Bob was absolutely right to realize that we need a thoughtful, wise, serious book that is not academic and for what we might call ordinary working lawyers.  Most attorney’s — despite what some might think — are not doing the dramatic stuff you see on TV nor are they advocating around those causes that have attracted many Christians such as religious liberty or legal aid clinics or fighting trafficking. Most ordinary lawyers are just practicing their profession and trying to be faithful, day by day.

The Servant Lawyer should be reviewed and explained in great detail, but as I said when we first invited readers to pre-order it, we need a book like this. Every career should be so fortunate as to have a book like this. It will make you think and invite you to deeper discipleship. It is fun to read and exceptionally practical, even as it is informed by the best theoretic stuff on the market. For those in the profession wanting to live out their vocation in ‘everyday law practice” this is simply a must-read volume. Kudos.

Living Undivided: Loving Courageously for Racial Healing and Justice Chuck Mango and Troy Jackson (Baker Books) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

Do we need yet another book on racism, faithful anti-racism, church unity and the call to do justice? Well, since the many great ones we have haven’t yet fully done the trick — although some of our books have moved the needle for some, we are told — we can always use fresh new takes, Biblically informed and historically aware calls to this important aspect of living in God’s Kingdom. And these authors are extraordinary. We are very impressed and happy to highlight this brand new resource.

Here’s an interesting thing — although Chuck Mango is black, Troy is a white guy who, by the way, was contacted years ago by Coretta Scott King to go through old papers of her beloved Martin’s sermon notes and sermons. The prestigious collection of the works of King made room for a major scholarly anthology that Troy put together — how cool is that. He has subsequently published other very good books on being a multi-ethnic urban church in Cincinnati and he’s a voice I immediately want to listen to.

Troy’s co-author and partner in good trouble Chuck Mango is the founder and CEO of LivingUNDIVIDED. His desire is to activate people to not only participate in acts of mercy and reconciliation but also challenge systems of oppression and injustice. He, too, lives with his wife and kids in Cincinnati. They both tell their respective stories in the first two chapters and I was hooked.

Saint Valentine the Kindhearted Ned Bustard (IVP Kids) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

Hooray for this! I need not say much. You know Ned’s unique style of linocuts from his amazing work illuminating Square Halo Books titles, and his excellent art and design work co-producing the three exquisite Every Moment Holy volumes. And, certainly, you know his lovely, simple, rhyming, but seriously informed children’s books Saint Nicholas the Giftgiver and Saint Patrick the Forgiver.

The brand new Saint Valentine the Kindhearted is wonderful, colorful, clever, and (let’s be honest) very much needed these days. I think even more than the first two, good as they are, there are very few well-crafted children’s books on this second century saint  — and who doesn’t want a book offering examples of Christian leaders who showed kindness, even to the seemingly unloved? There is more that could be said about Saint V and, as always, Ned’s lovely little author’s page in the back is worth the price of the book. We have it now, on sale. Like all of the others, it is 20% off. Why not order a few? Or pair it with Saint Patrick. March isn’t that far away!




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 February 2024 we are still closed for in-store browsing. COVID is not fully over and is on the rise. 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 getting worse. It is still 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 long 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. 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. 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.