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.


Hearts & Minds logo


20% OFF



order here

this takes you to the secure Hearts & Minds order form page
just tell us what you want to order

inquire here

if you have questions or need more information
just ask us what you want to know

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.


Hearts & Minds logo


20% OFF



order here

this takes you to the secure Hearts & Minds order form page
just tell us what you want to order

inquire here

if you have questions or need more information
just ask us what you want to know

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 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




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.


Hearts & Minds logo


20% OFF



order here

this takes you to the secure Hearts & Minds order form page
just tell us what you want to order

inquire here

if you have questions or need more information
just ask us what you want to know

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 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.

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.


Hearts & Minds logo


20% OFF



order here

this takes you to the secure Hearts & Minds order form page
just tell us what you want to order

inquire here

if you have questions or need more information
just ask us what you want to know

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 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.


Hearts & Minds logo


40% OFF


50% OFF

four days only, while supplies last



order here

this takes you to the secure Hearts & Minds order form page
just tell us what you want to order

inquire here

if you have questions or need more information
just ask us what you want to know

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 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.


Hearts & Minds logo


20% OFF



order here

this takes you to the secure Hearts & Minds order form page
just tell us what you want to order

inquire here

if you have questions or need more information
just ask us what you want to know

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.


Hearts & Minds logo


20% OFF



order here

this takes you to the secure Hearts & Minds order form page
just tell us what you want to order

inquire here

if you have questions or need more information
just ask us what you want to know

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.

Some of our favorite novels of 2023 — all 20% off. ENJOY.

For any number of reasons I’m feeling tired, weary, sad, even. Comes with the territory these days, I guess. I take heart in the fine replies we’ve gotten from friends who appreciate our BookNotes suggestions, and trust somehow we will continue to be able to make a living selling these kinds of thoughtful books. It’s been over forty years in Dallastown and we remain deeply grateful for our vocation in the book biz. We are glad for local  and on-line shoppers and especially for those who bought books from our first three installments of our favorite books of 2023. You can find those easily by visiting the website — all our past BookNotes columns are archived there (as are the discounts.)

Sometimes one of the many reasons to read fiction is to get a fresh perspective. I don’t usually like to talk about “escape” (let alone “guilty pleasures”) but those popular tropes get at something about the fabulous and refreshing ways in which a story can take us outside of ourselves and into worlds that sometimes are — weird as they may be — as true as the best nonfiction. Some of these novels really did that.

Here, then, are a handful of novels Beth or I enjoyed this year, books we liked talking about, showing, selling. I don’t know if these are “the best” but they were among our recent favorites and we’re happy to recommend them.

All are 20% off. Scroll down to the bottom to get to the order link.

Happy reading.

Demon Copperhead Barbara Kingsolver (Harper) $32.50  OUR SALE PRICE = $26.00

What can I say about the great Barbara Kingsolver? We have loved most of her novels and both of her splendid, rich, intelligent, and oh-so-important nonfiction collections.  Beth started this almost immediately when it first arrived at the end of ’22. Some of us were a bit slower to nab it.  Most know it is a bit of an Appalachian retelling of David Copperfield. Brilliant, eh?

As you may know it won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Here I’ll just copy and paste how it was simply described at the Pulitzer Prize website:

Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, Demon Copperhead is the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. Relayed in his own unsparing voice, Demon braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities.

Many generations ago, Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damages to children in his society. Those problems have yet to be solved in ours. Dickens is not a prerequisite for readers of this novel, but he provided its inspiration. In transposing a Victorian epic novel to the contemporary American South, Barbara Kingsolver enlists Dickens’ anger and compassion, and above all, his faith in the transformative powers of a good story. Demon Copperhead speaks for a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can’t imagine leaving behind.

Search: A Novel Michelle Huneven Penguin $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

Okay, this came out in 2022, but the paperback released in 2023 and it was doubtlessly one of the most fun books I read all year. It is about a food critic, Dana Potowski, who is, in the story, friends with an intelligent and good preacher at her Unitarian Church and who is thrown into a bit of a tailspin when he announces his retirement. She gets on the search committee and, well, if you’ve ever wondered how congregations that have these sorts of committees with every demographic represented actually do their work, and the politics (and prayer) that goes into it, Huneven gets it just about right. Oh my, does stuff come up — from theological differences to generational stuff. Talk about church politics intermingled with prayer.

I mentioned that the main character is a food critic so there are luscious descriptions of food and — yes! — recipes. Who knew that a book reviewed in all the important mainstream places could be about church life (albeit a liberal Southern California one.)  It most likely isn’t like your church, but it was still a blast, and rang true in some ways.

The Beautiful Madness of Martin Bonham: A Tale About Loving God Robert Hudson (The Apocryphal Press) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

How can I describe this marvelous witty, page-turning story about a contemporary college professor and his spiritually-alive student who are at odds with the stuffy seminary next door to the campus? It is a hoot and a half, fun and funny, yet. I could not stop reading, and hardly did as I raced through it, wondering what would happen next.

The lead character is a usually staid literature prof whose academic publications include books on the medieval mystics and poetry that passionately portrayed the experience of the love of God. As you might guess, the academic theological critics next door are not a fan of his mystical poetry, but a burned-out, religiously disillusioned seminarian approaches him for conversations about the difference between knowing about God and actually knowing God. They ask all sorts of professors of various faiths to weigh in and, after bunches of faculty meetings and conflict, actually start a department of Theophily — the study of loving God. 

This is part sitcom, sure, and the brilliant Hudson (himself an academic who has published about the history of mysticism and ancient prayer) says it is “like a Venn diagram in which C.S. Lewis and P.G. Wodehouse intersect” which is, I’d say, putting it mildly. This Gen-Z seminarian and her confession to Martin Bonham has indeed thrown the whole campus of Cupperton U into an uproar. It is almost believable and a great time.

By the way, it is almost overdone but Hudson knows his literary quotes and puts them into the epigrams and mouths of Bonham and others. It’s an education just listening to this guy quip and goose others with ancient blurbs. I have never read anything like it.

By the way, if you care at all about higher education, if you’ve ever worked on campus in any capacity, you’ll find this to be a blast. And if you care at all about the differences between learning about God and knowing God, well, come on in.

“An accomplished and seductive book you will never forget.” — Leonard Sweet

Bastille Day: A Novel Greg Garrett (Raven /Paraclete) $19.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

I hope you recall my longer review of this last summer, naming Greg Garrett as an important scholar (having written about memoir, Christian reflections on film and on literature, and, recently the Gospel According to James Baldwin) not to mention several well-done novels. This is a powerful and very entertaining story about a troubled war correspondent, trying to get back to more normal reporting, who ends up in Paris and, well, you’ll see. What a story!

A remarkable novelist who has the courage to explore in classic terms the great theme of the human soul.  — Robert Olen Butler, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

The Passenger Cormac McCarthy (Vintage) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

Beth reads a lot of novels but I don’t think she ever read McCarthy’s classic, The Road. So I was surprised to see her dive in to the meaty, serious Passenger (and, then, the odd sequel, Stella Morris.You’ll recall they were published almost back to back last year, and then came out in paperback in 2023.) She endured — which, for some, is what you do with a vulgar and dark McCarthy story — and came away impressed. They made her think, and she pondered them long and hard, well after the last page was turned. Granted, they are rather harsh and not for everyone.

I’ll let the review from Esquire do the talking, here:

“A one-two punch…The Passenger is an elegiac meditation on guilt, grief, and spirituality. Packed with textbook McCarthy hallmarks, like transgressive behaviors and cascades of ecstatic language, it’s a welcome return from a legend.”

And then, again:

With the publication of The Passenger and its companion novel Stella Maris, McCarthy seems to be done mining the myth of America. Instead, he ponders what it means to exist, and what our history tells us about our future… He digs into the big ideas of the universe, like human existence and what it means, as well as what our history and memory mean. He’s searching for something different… Where other writers venture into the mind and soul, McCarthy has leapt past that to ask what a soul is — and if it even exists…. McCarthy is no longer searching in the dirt trail across the West and saying, ‘This is it. This is our human nature.’ In The Passenger  and Stella Maris, he’s trying to see the God that made the man who wrote those words. — Kevin Koczwara, Esquire

Tom Lake  Ann Patchett (Harper) $30.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $24.00

I’ll admit that this was a particularly charming read as Beth was in the thick of our advanced galley of it as we were heading to the lovely Bay Village Chautauqua in NW Michigan, just a town away from where this book is set. Two daughter’s return home to  during Covid to help their mother harvest apples in the family orchard and they learn about their mother’s past. We left the book there with a lucky participant and took some pre-orders. Interestingly, I myself was re-reading right then some of Ann Patchett’s beautifully-crafted essays in These Precious Days. Beth and I are big fans.

Out of Esau: A Novel Michelle Webster Hein (Counterpoint) $27.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $21.60

Speaking of Michigan, this is one of my favorite stories of the year, which I found hard to put down. It is, to cut to the chase, about a single black pastor in a mostly white Michigan village, and a troubled woman who may be the lead the character, after all, and, well, yeah; you’ve got to read this redemptive story. Karen Bender said of it altho is has “gorgeous, glittering prose”  David Heska Wanbli Weiden (author of Winter Counts) calls it one of the best books of the year, saying it is “a tremendous achievement.” There is even a lovely endorsement by Sophfronia Scott, a novelist and author of several nonfiction spirituality books.

How It Went: Thirteen More Stories of the Port William Membership Wendell Berry (Counterpoint) $16.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.56

Again, this was released in 2022 but the paperback came out in 2023 and we were delighted. These thirteen new stories “explore the memory and imagination of Andy Catlett, one of the well-loved central characters in Wendell Berry’s fictional town Port William, Kentucky.” These short-stories span Andy’s lifetime, from the outbreak of World War II to the contemporary times as rural life is increasingly threatened. Booklist called it “a work of essential American literature.” I like what Kirkus Reviews said about Berry’s effort here: “Berry has that gift for entertaining amid serious intent, and the many lighter, very human moments in his elegiac, cautionary, wistful stories keep them from sinking into jeremiad without diminishing his message.”

American Roulette: A Novel Matthew Best, J.M. West, and others  (Milford House) $22.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $18.36

I have been wanting to write about this since it came out a few months ago; a south central Pennsylvania pastor was involved as were a number of other local writers (and a few nationally-known ones, as well.) The topic is critical important and the style is ingenious. It should be getting much attention but I am afraid that since it is published by a small, indie press here in the area, it may not become as widely known as it deserves. I will write about it again, I am sure.

For now, I will say it is heart-rending and somehow hopeful. The topic is the story of a mass shooting (in a mall.) Yes, the authors know some about this horror and some have been advocates for reasonable gun control measures for years. They wanted to tell the story that created less an argument for legislative policies and more one that evoked complexity and human empathy. It strikes me that, like anti-slavery Parliamentarian William Wilberforce recruited Hannah More who wrote novels about the morals of the day, knowing that stories could influence the popular mindset and values that necessarily preceded successful legislative initiatives, so these authors, in telling a on-the-ground story, might do more to change the hearts of folks than any number of well-documented and well footnoted policy arguments. So the book is a novel about a horrible day in the lives of a bunch of people.

Ahh, and then there is this: one or two of these caring folks came up with a plan: they asked each writer to do a chapter without consulting the others. Each one tells the story of somebody involved in the crisis that ensues at this school. A couple of them intended to serve as editors to help the chapters coalesce and weave them seamlessly into a coherent plot and — as you might be surprised to hear — very little editing was needed. The stories held together and the plot unfolds in various voices in a way that feels natural and compelling. The first third of the book just introduced each of these folks, and, knowing what you know, you wonder how they might fit into the tragedy that is sure to unfold. It’s almost like micro-fiction, short stories of each of these varied people whose fates will meet, in one way or another.

American Roulette ought to be known because it is one of the view novels that explore this topic that every American knows and wonders about — how does this happen? Will it happen near us? And, further, for anyone interested in experimental fiction and literary collaboration, this is pretty darn cool, just as a writing project that came together well. It’s not going to win a Pulitzer for luminous prose, but it’s a story that is captivating and well presented.

It is a notable paperback of 2023. Spread the word won’t you?

Transcendent Kingdom: A Novel Yaa Gyasi (Vintage) $16.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $12.80

I know I was a bit late to this, but this is a book that the Washington Post described as having a “blazing brilliance.” Of course Yaa Gyasi became very well known for the devastating and blazing and brilliant Homegoing, which begins centuries ago among African tribal groups and the invading power of the white colonialists, and follows generations through the middle passage into slavery, the great migration, New York, and more. What an unforgettable, powerful, epic story that was.

This is a very moving tale, set in modern times, among yet other descendants from Homegoing, and a woman named Gifty from Alabama who is a PhD candidate in neuroscience at the Stanford University School of Medicine. There has been great sorrow in her family and now her mother is depressed, nearly dead in her bed, while Gifty is studying the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her. In a way, this is a story — called luminous and redemptive by one reviewer —  about the relationship (and not only in the abstract) between faith and science.

I almost jumped out of my seat at one point when I realized that this was not just a passing phrase or two in the narrative but a real theme of this lovely, moving story.

Sun House David James Duncan (Little Brown) $35.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $28.00

One of the most amazing authors of our lifetime, quirky, complex, funny, with complicated stories — we adored The River Why and The Brothers K — has finally (finally) finished this audacious book he’s been working on for decades. I’m not kidding — this is one of the great literary events of 2023. Sun House is a massive book and I’m not going to say whether I finished it, yet, but, man, this is the book of almost a lifetime.  And, believe me, you get your money’s worth!

Sun House is a book of healing that will earn a place on the shelf between the world’s ancient wisdom texts and Mark Twain…Here is a book like nothing I have ever read, an epic story about how we may be made whole in a broken time.— Kathleen Dean Moore, author of Pine Island Paradox

This is a classic epic novel with 21st century humor and timeless spirituality. I laughed so much and cried just as often. It’s sexy, politically astute, visionary, and bold. I love this novel. I love David. Read it now. — Sherman Alexie, author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Where’d You Park Your Spaceship? An Interplanetary Tale of Love, Loss, and Bread Book One: Welcome to Firdus Rob Bell (Backhouse Books) $23.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $18.40

Not going to lie, I was thrilled to discover this — it hasn’t gotten much publicity and is self published by our hip, California guru — and it is supposed to be fantastic. Witty, seriously written, fun, and well-construed, it is, as you might guess, a vehicle for Rob’s ever curious mind and the interlace of faith spirituality, science, life, and, well, “love, loss, and bread,” I don’t know if this will resonate with those who loved his amazing Drops Like Stars or if it has tones of his legendary “Everything is Spiritual” lecture series, but you know he’s a extraordinary thinker, a clever entrepreneur and now — hooray! — a novelist. This is Part One, with a second coming, maybe, someday.  The first section of this grand novel is “This is the Out.” Okay? Anybody you know read this year?

The print is larger than normal, which is weird, and it’s way over 500 pages, although it needn’t be that thick if it used normal-sized type.

Renaissance: A Novel Susan Fish (Raven) $20.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00

I was interested in this firstly because the Raven imprint is a new publishing venture by the ecumenical publisher that features mostly spiritual formation books (and albums of Gregorian Chant) called Paraclete Press. We appreciate them so much and over the years they have released outstanding poetry and a few good novels (and some stellar memoirs.) They’ve created this imprint of quality fiction with a faith orientation, but which isn’t what some think of when they think of pious and wholesome “Christian fiction.” They are going for authors who can write profound stories and do important, honest, art; their moving novels are for those who are seeking meaning and deep value  and who are not afraid of the Christian tradition, but are not seeking books that preach. This, I gather, is what Christian fiction could and should be. I will admit that I was also drawn to the cover, one of the nicest of the year.

Renaissance is a story of Elisabeth Fane who is turning 50. Instead of celebrating with friends and family she is alone, on a plane to Italy.

Liz, as she is called, plans to prune olive trees at a convent and explore the city of Florence. Okay, right there! What more do you need? It’s a book about gardening in Florence. Exquiste, huh?

The back cover puts in plainly: “She meets four women — five if you count the large painting of the Virgin Mary — with who she converses regularly. Eventually, these conversations allow Liz to consider the rift between her and her family, reveal why she left home, and sort out what it will take for her to return.”

I guess Renaissance is a coming-of age story “about a woman of a certain age.” As one reviewer noted, this is a “rare combination of two journeys: a vivid external tour of Florence, Italy, and a deep interior path through a  woman’s struggle.”

Yes, there is some sorrow here, but it includes a discovery of great love. I highly recommend it. My friend Bob Tribe had a nice review of it that he posted a week or so ago at our Hearts & Minds Facebook page.

Girls They Write Songs About: A Novel Carlene Bauer (Picador) $19.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.20

This is one of the books that, again (like most, I guess) I have to say is not for everyone. This is a story of two writers — both women are contemporary women, feminists, literary types, working in the field of rock journalism in Manhattan a few years back. They are self-consciously academic, talking about their critical theory and their writing courses and their artists retreats, their awareness that they are pretentious, even, as they surely are. But I loved these women, and their work in the thick of pop culture. Their friendship is moving, until it is not, and their respective romantic attachments and life with families unfolds over the years. They continue to write, one more commercially successful than the other, and their friendship forms the core — at times luminous, often sad — of this extraordinary story.

The New York Times review (by Molly Young) says it is about “the cycles of enchantment, disenchantment and re-enchantment that make up a life.” Another reviewer said it isn’t about friendship but about the question: “what did we really want?”

I picked this up because of the rock music context, but mostly because I loved the “dazzling” epistolary novel nearly a decade ago, Frances and Bernard. It was a favorite this year, but, again, may not interest most folks.

Brisbane and A History of the Island Eugene Vodolazkin (Plough) $26.95 each  OUR SALE PRICE = $21.56 each

We have promoted these two heady books over the last years as it isn’t every day you get such intellectual fiction from — get this — a Ukrainian living in Russia! His novel Laurus, translated into English nearly a decade ago won quite a lot of acclaim and, in paperback, now, is a great book to enter a conversation about calling, vocation, grief and guilt, and the healing powers of a doctor. (It is set in a time of plague and pestilence in fifteenth century Russia.)

Some have likened his readable but intense prose to Umberto Eco (if that gives you a sense of the weight of these works) and the two newest have been brought to the English speaking world by the fabulous little publisher, Plough Press, run by the literary minded folks at the Anabaptist alternative community known as the Bruderhof.  As we have explained before Brisbane is about a celebrated guitarist who is diagnosed with Parkinson’s and has agreed to allow a biographer to do his life story. One might think it is about mortality, but it is also about so much more… The more recent History of the Island has been called a “masterpiece” by Rowan Williams; it is a story (about monks who are “devious and devout” and an “age-defying royal pair”) who chronicle the history of their fictional island — from medieval times to modern days.

Is A History of the Island a tragedy or comedy? Is it a satire of European history (and the myth of progress)? It may be about the futility of war, and knowing about the homeland of the author as the book came to press, it makes it all the more urgent. A little weird, but urgent. I’m not sure how the Russians or Ukrainians say it, but “wowza!”

Trust: A Novel Hernan Diaz (Riverhead) $17.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.60

The other day I heard Beth talking on the phone, extensively, with great passion, with one of our best and longest friends. He had read Trust and wanted her opinion. She had told me how much she loved this book — it also, with Demon Copperfield, was a winner of the 2023 Pulitzer Prize and is now out in paperback — but I didn’t realize how much she was taken by this story of the stock market crash of 1929. At first the tale seems straightforward about this mighty Wall Street tycoon as the “roar and effervescence” of the 1920’s in New York gave way to the stock market crash and the 1930s. In the novel, there are four manuscripts about the era, one (in the story, of course) published in 1937 as a book called Bonds; each in one way or another asks the big question — at what cost the immense wealth was gained? There are four competing voices, then, in this immersive story and one will learn a lot about the quest for truth, the importance of lasting relationships, and the matter of deception that tends to come with the “reality warping force of capital.”

The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams Daniel Nayeri (Levine Querido) $21.99  OUR SALE PRIUCE = $17.59

It was such a delight the week this came out — it was reviewed in the New York Times Book Review (which we shared at our Facebook page) and we enjoyed highlighting it as a YA novel that, frankly (like most great ones in that genre) could be equally enjoyed by adults. This summer I lead a book club conversation at my church on his splendid, unforgettable (and quite autobiographical) Everything Sad Is Untrue: A True Story (now out in paperback, by the way) and was reminded again that it is one of the best books we’ve sold in our 40 years here. As Kirkus put it, that one was “a modern epic.”  It won many awards — I do hope you know it — and now this one, The Many Assassinations of… was just awarded with a prestigious Newberry Honor Award. Congrats to Daniel, a great writer and lover of stories (and bookstores!)

Beth noted how she felt this really helped unlock more of the Persian storytelling traditions that shaped young Daniel (as described and shown in Everything Sad.) This one, set along the enchanting silk road and a caravan of characters (including Samir) takes it to a higher, wilder level, with story upon story, and the power of story actually being the point. Or so it seemed to us.




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.


Hearts & Minds logo


20% OFF



order here

this takes you to the secure Hearts & Minds order form page
just tell us what you want to order

inquire here

if you have questions or need more information
just ask us what you want to know

Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street  Dallastown  PA  17313

Sadly, as of January 2024 we are still closed for in-store browsing. COVID is not fully over and is truly 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 now 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.

FAVORITE BOOKS of 2023 PART THREE: 24 academic & scholarly books, mostly. ALL ON SALE

Thank you to all who read PART ONE and PART TWO of our favorite books and good reads of 2023. Even as I shared a bunch, I keep thinking of other books I’ve read, happy Sunday afternoons and too many late nights, devouring the latest. Oh, I read a lot that I don’t truly love (an occupational hazard) and I can get worked up about stuff I find wrong-headed. Don’t get me started.

I love well-written, moving books (who doesn’t) and our tastes have evolved, I guess, over the years. I am not a scholar or academic but I do like to learn and have a curiosity about what might be good books, that sound intriguing, so I try a few fairly serious ones most years. (And if they are too dry or too heavy, I send ‘em back. Life’s too short to waste time on stuff I don’t enjoy at least a little…)

Here are twenty-four fairly academic books that I read (mostly; I’m not telling how many I finished and which I skipped a chapter or two and which ones I’m in the middle of, kinda. Ha.) These are really fine books, though, and while maybe not “the best” scholarly works, they are books that I value and we recommend. We want to honor the and their authors here as among my (serious) favorites of 2023. Congrats.

[Perhaps you noticed last week but a few from the previous list were pretty rigorous, too; I’m thinking of Abundantly More: The Theological Promise of the Arts in a Reductionist World by Jeremy Begbie (on Baker Academic) and The Cult of Creativity (Oxford) by Samuel Franklin and, frankly, the Secular Mysticisms one by Andrew Root (also Baker Academic.) But I’ve already named those.]

As always, we’d appreciate it if you send some orders our way. Use the “order” link at the bottom of this column. They are all 20% off which in some cases may be the best deal around. Thank you very much. Read on!

More Than Things: A Personalist Ethics for a Throwaway Culture Paul Louis Metzger (IVP Academic) $48.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $38.40

One the great, serious books of the year, so very important, and, frankly, theological and philosophical as it may be, it is very readable, intriguingly so. One of the great highlights of 2023 — for me personally and for our store’s reputation, such as it is — was doing a webinar with Dr. Metzger and coming to count him as a friend and ally. This is a great book, inviting us to think through the implications in our personal lives and in our public discipleship, even as we advocate for reforms in the public square, of treating people as persons. This model of “personalism” is exceptional and is explored consistently here showing how it plays out in many sides of life and on different topics, from war and racism to medical ethics and space explorations and so much more. Highly recommended.

Creation and Christian Ethics: Understanding God’s Designs for Humanity and the World Dennis P.  Hollinger (Baker Academic) $29.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $23.99

This rigorous book arrived late in the year and we want to honor it as a 2023 title, although I’ve just started it here in the new year. Dr. Hollinger is an old acquaintance who has invited me to speak at his campus (when he was Dean of the Chapel at Messiah College) and who has visited our store. We’ve admired his other good books, included a captivation ethics title melding the strengths of virtue ethics and “law” ethics, adding what he called at the time “worldview” ethics. He’s a broad and sharp thinker, prominent for leading several exceptional evangelical institutions, and I am always glad whenever he releases a new work.

Creation and Christian Ethics does just what is needed these days, affirming the doctrine of created reality, asking what the Biblical teaching about the robust and revelatory creation has to do to forming a wise and livable Kingdom ethics.

I am grateful for this as he gets a bit more detailed than the excellent generic approach offer, often, by neo-Calvinists in the tradition of Abraham Kuyper, say, and the rather speculative and strict stylings of those committed to natural law.

There are very impressive endorsements on the back cover from Vincent Bacote, Richard Mouw, Kelly Kapic, Autumn Alcott Ridenour. Scott Rae of Talbot School of Theology (at Biola) says it is a “first-rate work… important”

The Overlooked Americans: The Resilience of Our Rural Towns and What It Means for Our Country Elizabeth Currid-Halkett (Basic Books) $32.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $25.60

I almost listed this in the last post as I appreciated (and enjoyed) it so. It offers rigorous discussions of qualitative and quantitative sociology research but, actually, it doesn’t read like a scholarly text. She is animated, shares her own opinions as she travels the country (and, during the worst of Covid, engages in dozens of Zoom calls) learning to hear and respect people from small towns all across the country. Word of mouth spread and she had plenty of folks eager to chat and she did this gathering of oral histories and honest opinions with great gusto. The book reads almost like a virtual travelogue with lots of excerpts of lots of interviews and her candid take on the views and styles of her rural interlocutors.

And you know what? She ends up having more in common with many heartland folks in flyover country that she ever realizes. She talks economics and racism, religion (and more religion), asking about people’s convictions and concerns, visions and values, faith and frustrations all across these fruited planes. She knows her stuff— social and cultural capitol, meritocracy biases, college aspirations among the working class, the new geography of jobs, etc. etc.  Currid-Halkett is a professor of public policy with a speciality in urban and regions planing (at the University of Southern California), has been a Guggenheim Fellow, and holds a chair of modern culture at the Library of Congress. Elite reputation that she may have, she offers this urgent appeal for Americans to connect across a rural-urban divide that, she shows, “is’t so wide after all.” I loved this book and all it’s hopeful detail.

Natality: Toward a Philosophy of Birth Jennifer Banks (Norton) $27.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $22.36

I ordered this because it seemed really rich and I was impressed with the notion — there is a lot written about mortality but not so much about the philopshy of being born. (Ahh, a popular level quasi theological work simply called Birth: The Mystery of Being Born by James Howell did a very nice job in 2020 in their helpful, wise, “Pastoring for Life” series.) I seemed like a winner.

Then a very sharp customer ordered it and then a second person inquired, wondering if we heard of it. It apparantly was reviewed someplace pretty reputable the if two calls in one week on a fairly obscure philosophical treatise means anything, I realized I had called it right. Natality is remarkable, rare, maybe, but important. Hooray.  Little did I know that she was a person of faith and that writers that are important to me would grace the back cover. Check this out:

In this resplendent tapestry, each chapter a riveting discovery, Jennifer Banks witnesses the hidden gestations within the wombs of literary history. Natality is not just about giving birth. Natality is at the heart of culture care, of all generative making, and it opens paths uncharted.–Makoto Fujimura, artist, author of Art and Faith: A Theology of Making

Natality is a quietly disruptive book. At a time when public discussion of motherhood and childbirth too quickly devolves into political talking points, Jennifer Banks unearths voices from the past that challenge us to consider the profound and inscrutable nature of birth. Natality reminds us that there has never been a singular conversation around childbirth, but by tending to the mystery, beauty, and contradictions of birth, we contemplate humanity itself.–Kristin Kobes Du Mez, author of Jesus and John Wayne

By Hands Now Known: Jim Crow’s Legal Executioners Margaret A. Burnham (Norton) $30.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $24.00

It may be that, officially, this is considered (not unlike other on this list) a trade book and not a scholarly text. But, still, I list it here because it is excellent, exhaustive, history and exceptionally rigorous writing about important details of our nation’s past (particularly 1920 – 1960) and, yes, how that lingers into todays social and political landscape. It isn’t so academic to be difficult, but it is a hard read, unpleasant, ugly. Yet, it is one of the great books of the year, important and demanding, in so many ways. I very highly recommend it…

By Hands Now Known official released near the end of 2022 and earned great accolades on the “best of” lists of 2022. I started it in 2023, so I’m naming it here. By the way, it was a Finalist for the prestigious 2023 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History.

Saving the Protestant Ethic: Creative Class Evangelicalism and the Crisis of Work Andrew Lynn (Oxford University Press) $35.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $28.00

I am sure you know that one of our passions — not shared by all our readers, but we keep trying to share the good news — is how embracing God’s Kingdom message necessarily calls us to vocations in the world. We are missional people living out the Lordship of Christ in all areas of life, including (maybe especially including for most of us) our work lives. We simply must see the need for thinking Christianly about the philosophy of and the practices that flow from, a uniquely Christian approach to our particular careers and jobs. At it’s best, this is the conversation emerging from what we can call a movement — the “faith and work” conversation or the movement to related Sunday worship and Monday work, however you want to describe this call to marketplaces, shop floors, schoolrooms, farming fields, medical clinics, or the sacred spaces of home and childcare. You get the point.

There have been many inspiring books about all of this and now Oxford University Press has brought us a goldmine of insight, a scholarly overview of this movement and the pros and cons of the way it has been advanced. Andrew Lynn is a Postdoc Fellow at the famous Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia where his work spans organizational theory, religious studies, and the history of ideas surrounding ethics and economics. This book “captures the in-group tensions and creative adaptation” among American evangelicals as they “navigate changing class and political dynamics that shape American society.”  It has been heralded as an “extraordinary descriptive project’, “masterful”, and “impressive.”

Decades ago Oxford published a bit of a manifesto studying the early days of the faith in the marketplace movement written by David W. Miller, now Director of the Princeton University Faith & Work Initiative. Miller has reviewed this book and offers much insight about it.

He writes:

“The faith at work movement is an ongoing and evolving social movement, not a flash in the pan or a passing fad. Andrew Lynn brings us a strong contribution to the growing number of scholarly studies of the surprisingly diverse nature of the faith at work movement. Lynn’s provocatively titled Saving the Protestant Ethic focuses on and brings us fresh insights into the conservative evangelical Protestant wing of the movement, whose search for meaning and purpose drives their economic activity.”

Self Made: Creating Our Identities From Da Vinci to the Kardashians Tara Isabella Burton (Public Affairs) $30.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $24.00

A few years back Tara Burton caused a bit of a buzz as many thoughtful Christian pundits we citing her amazing book, Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World. She has a PhD from Oxford and has written for forums as unique as American Internet and National Geographic. Her new one is stunningly researched, deep, thoughtful, offering a

Here is how the publisher describes this study of identity formation:

As the forces of social media and capitalism collide, and individualism becomes more important than ever across a wide array of industries, “branding ourselves” or actively defining our selves for others has become the norm. Yet, this phenomenon is not new. In Self-Made, Tara Isabella Burton shows us how we arrived at this moment of fervent personal branding. Through a series of chronological biographical essays on famous (and infamous) “self-creators” in the modern Western world, from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment to modern capitalism and finally to our present moment of mass media, Burton examines the theories and forces behind our never-ending need to curate ourselves.

Wow, this is a very important idea and she is an energetic, interesting author. You should consider this.

A Body of Praise: Understanding the Role of Our Physical Bodies in Worship  W. David O. Taylor (Baker Academic) $26.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59

This is the sort of academic book that should have a wide readership, certainly in seminaries and in places preparing pastors, preachers, and worship leaders. And, you would think, also in well educated churches. If you are a pastor, choir member, worship leader, liturgist, or maybe you teach Sunday school and teach children and youth about worship, this sort of robust creational theology will stretch your mind and enrich your worldview. That is, it will help you imagine a world the way God sees it, including our bodies. God must love matter, C.S. Lewis once quipped, He sure made a lot of it. Indeed.

So, then, given that, what is the role of the physicality of worship? Artists and those advocating for a more aesthetically pleasing and artfully enriching worship space have helped us all embrace some attention to the colors and banners and vestments and arrangement of chairs and maybe flowers in our spaces. But what about our very bodies that inhabit those spaces? What about the very presence, embodied (I’d say in literal space or through for-real, virtual / on-line participation) of our bodies, our various, frail and fragile, strong and sexy, large and small, from various tribes and people groups?  We are all made in the image of God which certainly involves our creaturely selves, and, of course, our senses.

This excellent book is not just about using more color for the eyes or incense for the aroma or hip surround-sound for our ears (although, heavens, if some churches don’t invest in better microphones and basic sound enhancement, I don’t know what they are thinking. Geesh.) This good book goes beyond the obvious and asks deep questions about the human body, why it has not been considered much in worship studies, and how God’s own design for our embodiment might influence how we think about and construe and practice regular corporate worship. And, yes, Taylor more than once attends to the questions about those with disabilities or handicapping conditions. His footnotes are fascinating and offer a whole new curriculum for further generative study. The book is pretty ecumenical and wil be helpful for almost anyone willing to work through this thoughtful text. It is one of the most surprising and best books of 2023.

Biblical Critical Theory: How the Bible’s Unfolding Story Makes Sense of Modern Life and Culture Christopher Watkin (Zondervan Academic) $49.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $39.99

As you might guess, I was very excited to read this; Keller’s endorsement meant something and the vision of using the Scriptures wisely as a worldview shaping, formative text which would set us towards culture (with a critical edge) seemed ideal for the transforming vision we need for living in the “city of God even as we are living within the city of man” (as Augustine put it.) William Edgar, a top cultural apologetics thinker (and jazz musician) declares that this book is a feast.  Bruce Ashford says it is “effervescently brilliant.”

I am not as taken with it as these esteemed thinkers have been but it surely is a very important book.

Christopher Watkin’s expert, timely compendium of Christian Scripture’s subversive engagement of dominating themes of our modern age brings welcome healing to our world. — Esther Lightcap Meek, author Longing to Know and Doorway to Artistry

Theology and Technology: Essays in Christian Analysis edited by Carl Mitcham, Jim Grove, Levi Checketts (Wipf & Stock) $26.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $20.80

In the Spring and into the Summer of 2023 it seemed like discussions about artificial intelligence and ChatGPT and the like look the nation by storm. Trying to bring some perspective to the often alarmist debates I did a special, long BookNotes column (June 11, 2023 if your searching for it) about technology, digital culture, and a few books addressing the pros and cons of AI. In that listing I was reminded of this weighty volume on our shelves and I was delighted to mention it. This is actually the first volume of a two volume set, a collection of essays inspired by and in conversation with a seminal piece from forty years ago. I’ll let the publisher explain it:

“The first volume offers five general attitudes toward technology based off of H. Richard Niebuhr’s five ideal types in Christ and Culture. The second volume includes biblical, historical, and modern theological engagements with the place of technology in the Christian life. This ecumenical collection ranges from authors who enthusiastically support technological development to those cynical of technique and engages the Christian tradition from the church fathers to recent theologians like Bernard Lonergan and Jacques Ellul. Taken together, these essays, some reproductions of earlier work and others original for this project, provide any student of theology a fitting entree into considering the place of technology in the realm of the sacred.”

We were especially glad to see an important essay, as important now as when it was written decades ago, by Egbert Schuurman, who taught engineering and reformational philosphy at several universities in The Netherlands. He served in the Senate, as well.

The Minor Prophets: A Theological Introduction Craig Bartholomew & Heath A. Thomas (IVP Academic) $45.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $36.00

I have read (or skimmed) many volumes, long and short, easy and difficult, on the so-called minor profits, the twelve, with Hebrew names like Amos and Joel and Hosea and Nahum. The more I read the more I am convinced these are major voices for our times. The writers of this commentary certainly agree and the tone of this — which is rigorously thoughtful and very well informed (Bartholomew is one of the best Bible guys writing and you should know his work.) As it says on the back cover — and this really is central! — “the good news from the minor prophets is that even in dire times, God speaks.” It will take someone with insight into hermeneutical questions and cultural awareness to help us hear God’s voice in these odd texts, and Bartholomew * Heath are up for the last. Both are connected to the Kirby Laing Centre for Public Theology in Cambridge (although Thomas is President at Oklahoma Baptist University.)

This may be a primer but at over 380 pages, it is detailed enough. It’s historical-redemptive, biblical-theological orientation and framework makes this more than a customary survey. It offers, as one put it, “unblinking honesty and uncompromising hope.” Highly recommended for anyone who reads the Bible seriously.

Union with the Resurrected Christ: Eschatological New Creation and New Testament Biblical Theology G.K. Beale (Baker Academic) $49.99

Holy smokes, this hefty, well-bound, scholarly book certain deserves another shout-out in addition to our first announcement of it when it released in April, ’23. It is, I’ll admit, a sequel to the highly regarded A New Testament Biblical Theology and it fleshes out nineteen “significant theological realities and benefits of the believer’s union with the resurrected Christ.” I do not think you have to read the first one, however, as this really is a summarizing, practical application of the historical-redemptive, Biblical theological approach to doing New Testament work. It is, though, sturdy, heavy, academic, what Richard Gaffin at Westminster Theological Seminary says is the “mature culmination” of much of Beale’s “decades-long biblical theological work.” Impressive? It sure is, if you are trained in this sort of thing. Some will find it a slow slog but for those with the eyes to see, it is surely nothing short of brilliant.

As Robert Yarbrough of Covenant Theological Seminary says, “I am not aware of another book that demonstrates so sweepingly the relevance of Christ’s resurrection and ascension to believer’s union with him in its rich benefits and inexhaustible glories.”

Okay then. Strap in. We are united with Christ (and participate in His work) and are incorporated into His resurrection (within the body of others who are likewise blessed.) We are living now in a being-renewed creation, holy as it is. This heavy theological hope is punctuated with “application” sections, a nice touch for what some call this prolific author’s magnum opus.

Baptist Political Theology edited by Thomas Kidd, Paul D. Miller & Andrew Walker (B+H Academic) $59.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $47.99

I am not a Baptist and, knowing what we know about the SBC these days, I was not particularly interested in this big collected volume. And then I saw the table of contents and realized who all was in it. My goodness, for anyone interested in responsible, evangelical social ethics and Christian political theory, this is a resource that is not to be missed.

It is a handsome, thick volume— almost 775 pages! — it includes masterful contemporary scholars highlighting various topics such as “Baptists and the Civil War” (by Gregory Wills), “Religious Liberty” (by Albert Mohler) “Just War and Baptist Political Theology” (by Paul Miller) and “The African American Baptist Tradition” by Kenneth Reid. Nathan Finn does one called “The Christian Right: From Reagan to Trump.”

There are historical studies on Baptists and slavery and such and there are more contemporary studies of contemporary issues like environmentalism and bioethics and gender.

And then there are very insightful pieces on various individuals — a few historical ones are on names like Roger Williams and John Leland and Isaac Backus. There is a good piece on progressive Baptists focusing on Walter Rauschenbush and others; there is one on the “political theology of Martin Luther King, Jr” by Daniel Lee Hill, and one on the late 20th century giant, Carl Henry. This is a very sharp anthology and, to be honest, one that ought to be used to shape the public witness of conservative evangelicals.

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

I highlighted this at BookNotes when it first came out this fall — little did I know then just how fascinating it would be and how important this project is. I am not sure I agree with all the methodology or conclusions, even, but that is all right. Few have written so provocatively about a theology of childhood and we really need to be inspired by this sort of conversation. Agree or not, this kind of theological orientation isn’t just arcane stuff for academics, but should undergird and shape how we think about parenting, families, and, of course, the church — from worship practices to Christian education, mission and (obviously) creating safe spaces for the kids among us.

Gender as Love: A Theological Account of Human Identity, Embodied Desire, and Our Social Worlds Fillipe do Vale (Baker Academic) $34.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $27.99

I have only started this — it landed in our store in early December — so I can’t say much. But the foreword by Beth Felker Jones was simply one of the most generous and compelling introductions to a book I’ve seen in a long time. It made me want to dive in and honor the author as Jones so highly recommends. Others, too, trust the integrity and scholarship of this evangelical professor.

It claims to be a fresh and holistic approach to understanding gender (and I’ll admit I don’t even know what that means, a holistic approach.) It does says that it attempts to break current deadlocks within gender theory and theology” by drawing on questions about gender framed by the more foundational theology of the nature of human love.  Which, of course, is grounded in the love of the Triune God.

Here is what Amy Peeler says:

A breath of fresh air that has the marks of a rush of the Spirit, do Vale’s work clears the confusion, fear, and acrimony that has clouded around the concept of gender. Gender as Love provides erudite guidance through the theory and, even more, rich exegetical and theological resources for living justly in response to God’s undeserved gifts, including the gift of gender. The joining of confidence in Christ with an epistemic humility that results in godly patience makes this author and this work a timely gift and a necessary read. — Amy Peeler, Wheaton College, author of Woman and the Gender of God

If We Burn: The Mass Protest Decade and the Missing Revolution Vincent Bevins (Public Affairs) $30.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $24.00

This is not exactly a scholarly work but I list it here because the reporting and coverage — vibrant and first-person account that it is — is grounded in such a remarkable knowledge of history and recent anti-fascists movements, that my head was swimming just reading about how very much this journalist and writer knows. Those who know his hefty, riveting, expose of the brutality of repression in Indonesia, The Jakarta Method, (where, with US approval, maybe a million people were murdered) will know he is one heck of a reporter. His background study is exceptional and his brave, on the ground connections, are amazing.

This book tells a fascinating story and suggests a fascinating thesis: there were, in about a decades time, uprisings all over the world — remember Arab Spring? He documents the groups that met and the comrades that risked arrest, torture, or worse, over and over, to claim public spaces in repressive regimes. He mets up with the hackers and punks and trade unionists and students and old revolutionaries, some who ended up martyred, and he listened well. (Do you remember the story about the US State Department under George W. Bush training movements across the world to use digital tools? Andrew Sullivan wrote a famous piece in The Atlantic, “The Revolution Will Be Twittered.”  From Iran to Turkey to Ukraine, Brazil to Hong Kong to Chile, there were performative protests, marches, actual revolutionary efforts to dislodge power, and some reformists efforts to get activists elected. All failed. All. Failed.

What happened? Bevins, writing from South America, watched years worth of on-going protests among street leaders in the cities of Brazil, and wondered how word traveled (through which social media channels and which underground papers) from nation to nation, across continents, from South America to North Africa to the Far East (and, for a bit, even to New York City for “Occupy Wall Street.”) How did these seemingly disparate movements (some drawing on high level Marxist and Leninist discourse, others inspired by Western democratic ideals, others inspired by churches or religious organizations) work together and connect (or did they)? What compromises were forced upon them by the powers that were? What sort of plans did they have?

If We Burn is, in the words of Greg Grandid (Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The End of the Myth) says “this is a wondrous work of mystery writing, an effort to solve the riddle: why has a decade of large-scale rolling revolts produced no revolution, no significant structural reform?” He continues:

“I can’t think of any journalist other than Bevins who would dare to ask such a question, or be capable of weaving together seemingly discrete global events into a stunning history of the now.”

Bulwarks of Unbelief: Atheism and Divine Absence in a Secular Age Jospeh Minich (Lexham Academic) $32.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $26.39

Many of our customers a few years ago were taken with the big, fat volume The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution (and then the more accessible, abridged version, Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution) by the often cranky, if brilliant, theologian and cultural critic. Agree or not with the details or normative proposals, his study of historical and philosophical shifts towards “expressive individualism” is important.

This recent 2023 volume by Jospeh Minich carries a vital foreword by Professor Trueman in which he draws the connections. Trueman’s first sentence cites Charles Taylor and moves to explain the importance of Minich’s methodology (which draws on the tradition of phenomenology.) As Trueman promises, “this is neither a lament nor simply a descriptive analysis of where we are today. Dr Minich also presses forward to positive constructive.”

Does that make this more than a resource for those wanting to understand the below the surface zeitgeist of our secularizing culture? Is it apologetics of a particularly deep sort?  In the first pages of Minich’s introduction he tells a story of Herman Bavinck how little he address atheism in his massive  early 20th century dogmatics. He follows that up with the fictional character of a John Updike story who, in 1910, “felt the last particle of faith leave him.” And I was hooked.

I don’t mean to sound overly heady (as I have not read Charles Taylor’s magnum opus) but Michael Horton promises that “if you found Charles Taylor’s analysis persuasive I think you’l find Minich’s even more so.” Wow.

Nothing Gained is Eternal: A Theology of Tradition Anne M. Carpenter (Fortress) $34.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $27.20

I have a young Roman Catholic friend (who happens also to know quite a bit about the insight of Bernard Lonergan) who sometimes tells me the very best theological stuff coming out in his thoughtful circles. Ann Carpenter is, apparantly, quite the rising rock star in theological circles and this book — “a theology of tradition” — is heady, rigorous, above by own pay grade, but, apparently, very significant. Her work has been called inventive and ambitious, an argument “poised to usher in a new wave of theological reflection on tradition.”

If this is systematic theology, it is analyzing questions about tradition versus liberation, I guess, united those things that ought not be seen as oppositional, building bridges within, at least, various Roman Catholic camps. Andrew Prevot of Boston College says it is “a provocative work of conceptual synthesis and prophetic insight.”  Jennifer Newsome Martin (of Notre Dame) calls it “at once a celebration, a chastening, and an expansion of conventional formulations of religious tradition.” This is about history, about action, and, I gather, about memory. Whew.

People of the Screen: How Evangelicals Created the Digital Bible and How It Shapes Their Reading of Scripture John Dyer (Oxford University Press) $29.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $23.96

I really, really liked John Dyer’s little introduction to thinking Christianly about contemporary technology, a title published by Kregel, now updated, called From the Garden to the City: The Place of Technology in the Story of God) and when I realized it was this same author doing academic research on the influence and even impact of reading the Bible digitally, I was all ears. As a programmer himself, and as his first book shows, Dyer is interested in a wholesome, Biblical perspective of the benefits and perils of digital culture. But in this book he is asking more pointedly a question about dignity technology for Bible readers.

I often find it odd when somebody pulls out a phone to read a Biblical text, especially in worship. I’ve got my reasons. But this is more about the subliminal aesthetics of not holding a physical, enduring book, but the bigger question of our perceptions of the Bible in a digital society.

The history of all this is longer than you know, I bet, and if you are interested at all in Bible software you’ll find this intriguing.  You’ll be delighted at the lovely prose in this wise bit of reporting and evaluation and, more, you will find it compelling. This is a topic that is nearly ubiquitous and few are writing about it. This book is a must.

The Digital Public Square: Christian Ethics in a Technological Society edited by Jason Thacker (B&H Academic) $34.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $27.99

Speaking of digital culture, I have highlighted this before at BookNotes, too, and find it to be a one-of-a-kind resource at this point where people of thoughtful evangelical faith weigh in on the proper questions about justice in the public arena as we think about questions of digital life together. That is, there are essays here about legal theory, copyright stuff, hate speech, freedom of (online) speech, questions of censorship and sexual ethics and conspiracy theories. As it says on the back cover, “Top contributors, including David French, Patrica Shaw, and many others, cast a distinctly Christian vision of a digital public theology to promote the common good throughout society.

You’ll find Bonnie Kristian here, Keith Plummer, Jason Thacker, of course. Blurbs on the back are from Matthew Kaemingk, Dru Johnson, Ben Sasse, and Russell Moore.

The Rise and Fall of Dispensationalism: How the Evangelical Battle Over the End Times Shaped a Nation Daneil G. Hummel (Eerdmans) $29.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $23.99

With a foreword by award winning historian Mark Noll this book (weighing in at over 350 pages) is a thick, careful, wide-ranging study of the unique (and mostly American) theology of dispensationalism, that, naturally, gives rise to speculations about the rapture, the end times, the role of Israel, and those supposedly “left behind.” As most BookNotes readers know, this is a contentious and — in the grand scheme of church history — oddball view that, despite the millions of copies of The Late Great Planet Earth and the “Left Behind” franchise, is not fully Biblical or theologically sound. (And yet, a book about being “rapture ready” was a best seller this fall.)

The Rise and Fall… literally explores where this notion came from, its prominence in certain evangelical circles, and how the question about it all “shaped a nation” from pop culture to politics. Yep — who knew that in-house Christian theological divisions influenced our culture and set the stage for, well, all sorts of civic mayhem.

Daniel Hummel is one smart cookie and his work is nearly magisterial; it is without a doubt the most interesting, broad, and vital stuff I’ve read on this well-worn topic.  With rave reviews on the back from John Fea and Molly Worthen and others, it is surely one of the most discussed religious books of 2023. Very impressive.

Don’t believe me? Listen to Richard:

What do you say about a historical study that reads like a whodunit? Dan Hummel’s book is a page turner, shedding light on details that I already knew from dispensationalist pop culture, filling in the gaps through patient analysis and good storytelling. Historians will love his patient analysis; it’s the storytelling that hooked me. At the end of each chapter, I had to know what came next. Not only is The Rise and Fall of Dispensationalism a superb academic study; Hummel’s analysis of the gap left by the decline of dispensationalism helps us understand the ideological crisis of the so-called evangelical church today. — J. Richard Middleton, professor of biblical worldview and exegesis, Northeastern Seminary, author of New Heaven and New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology

The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions, and the Unmaking of the World Volumes I and II Iain McGilchrist (Perspective Press) $95.99 –  no discount on this item

Okay, now I’m just showing off. I haven’t even opened these two volumes from their shrink-wrapping, so can’t speak to their contents or writing style or, well, much of anything other than to say that Iain McGilchrist is a lively, exceptionally innovative, and astute writer (who maybe needs an editor — I don’t know.) Each one of these volumes looks to be nearly 800 pages, and together they have to be among the most exceptional academic releases of the decade. Released in paperback earlier in 2023 only in the UK, some folks who love his work were immediately interested or so we heard. You may know his previous major book — intriguing as it is captivating — The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World (Yale University Press.) It is a big, serious book we’ve often stocked, now out in a second edition.

Living, I’ve heard, on the Isle of Skye off the coast of Scotland, Dr. McGilchrist describes himself as a psychiatrist, neuroscience research, philosopher, and literary scholar. He is a true polymath and is also erudite and intellectually ambitious — and has been called “the William James of our time.” This two-volume set is said to be seminal, game-changing, unsurpassed, without parallel, a truly magnificent achievement. It is about learning from reality, moving toward relationally, reciprocity, harmony, maybe, writ large. Volume one is subtitled “The Ways to Truth” and Volume two is titled “What Then Is True?” We can be sure that he critiques and provides an alternative to the reductionism of scientific materialism, working in not only his expertise of neurological research but in terms of story, narrative, and the visionary search for meaning.

Varieties of Christian Universalism: Exploring Four Views edited by David Condon (Baker Academic) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

Don’t hate me for showing this. You know, one of the longest reviews I ever wrote — a four-part BookNotes and then a video clip — was my ruminations about the 2011 hubbub around the Love Wins book of Rob Bell, who himself wasn’t then fully adamant about a Christ-bought universalism, but wrote nicely about it. I framed the topic, explored the Biblical teaching about the renewal of all things, explained some of the unfair accusations hurled at Bell, and mostly came out saying folks should read the lively little book and make up their own darn minds.

Older work from the likes of the generous Edward Fudge influenced the thoughtfully tentative hopes of evangelical leader John Stott (about not universalism as such, but about how some may be annihilated, as per the Hebrew worldview, rather than living in eternal agony.) Since then books on the topics of heaven and hell, salvation and judgement, have continued to come out, with clever titles like Razing Hell and, then, of couse, the brilliant Orthodox thinker, David Bentley Hart, released in 2019, That All Shall Be Saved.

This new book offers four different theologies of Christian Universalism, and while it is enough to make your head swim at times, these point/counter-point volumes are excellent ways to get up to speed on the lay of the land and the nuances within contending views. All four of these favor a universalism of sorts, but each have their theological and Biblical reasons for making the particular kind of case that they do.

The four views are (hold on to your hat, this gets deep):  patristic, evangelical, post-Barthian, and existential. You may be surprised by the thoughtful hope these theologians offer.

I love some of the gracious recommendations for it, in this case, one from a Pentecostal scholar and one from an Orthodox theologian:

This book introduces four strong sets of arguments by thinkers who have been exploring these matters substantively over extended periods of time. Come ready to engage with the warrants and justifications for these various universalist options, and if you do, you might become a better theologian, if not a better Christian, even if you remained unconvinced about becoming a universalist in any of the ways invited to in these pages. — Amos Yong, Fuller Theological Seminary, author, Mission After Pentecost: The Witness of the Spirit from Genesis to Revelation

Caricatures and misrepresentations often fuel theological debates, especially on controversial themes such as Christian universalism. These essays offer clarity on the variety of universalist theologies in response to the perennial question of Christian universalism, at a time when this debate is again having a moment and in a way that does not offer a definitive conclusion but provides the conditions for a real conversation. — Aristotle Papanikolaou, Orthodox Christian Studies Center, Fordham University

Uncommon Unity: Wisdom for the Church in an Age of Division Richard Lints (Lexham Press) $29.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $23.99

Perhaps it is right to end this big list of some of my favorite serious reads this year with this one, that I am reading slowly and still savoring. It is a rigorous work by a serious scholar, but it is by no means a dry, academic tome. This is a plea from the heart and a wise contribution to many such books calling on us to work towards some sort of unity within the broken body of Christ. In this age of division, how can we bear witness to the grace and love that is to characterize the church? How can we think about the goodness (and limits to) diversity?  Is there are connection between “denominations and democracy”?

Curiously, Lints — serving as a consulting theologian with the Redeemer City to City efforts — exposes problems with what he calls “the inclusion narrative of democracy” and shows a better away forward for fostering unity in the midst of extreme diversity. This has great implications that can help fund our advocacy for a  genuinely pluralistic society; at the end of the day, it seems, this book is less about ecumenical unity within the church, but how our vision of being included by the gospel might spill over to provide a more enduring framework for our American civic culture, mired with disunity that it is.

I like the evaluation of Anthony Bradley, an African American scholar (and former professor of the late Kings College in NYC) who says of it:

Uncommon Unity is the beginning of the imagination needed to carry the application of God’s redemptive mission deep into the twenty-first century.

“The beginning of the imagination.” That’s a good line, maybe applying to many books, maybe a way to think about why we read nearly any books. May we all be willing to use these great gifts of books, even those that are more demanding of our time, attention and pocketbooks, to savor, to learn, to have our attitudes (and our imaginations) awakened and refined, for the sake of the world.




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.


Hearts & Minds logo


20% OFF



order here

this takes you to the secure Hearts & Minds order form page
just tell us what you want to order

inquire here

if you have questions or need more information
just ask us what you want to know

Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street  Dallastown  PA  17313

Sadly, as of January 2024 we are still closed for in-store browsing. COVID is not fully over and is truly 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 now 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.




We hope you saw the first part of our listing of the Hearts & Minds 2023 awards, such as they are, telling of my favs from 2023. You can, in fact, read all of our old BookNotes posts since they are archived at our website, near the order form page. You can see the last one (PART ONE) right here.

I am hoping to post a PART THREE soon, which will name some eccentric stuff, some top scholarly books a read, and maybe a novel or two. Please keep an eye open for that. As always, we are grateful.  Stay warm and safe out there.

All books mentioned are 20% off and can be ordered by scrolling to the bottom and clicking the “order” button, which takes you to our secure order form page. Just tell us what you want and we’ll do the rest. 


Reading for the Love of God: How to Read as a Spiritual Practice Jessica Hooten Wilson (Brazos Press) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

When I go out and do talks about books or meet with Zoom groups to cheer-lead for reading circles, I often cite other authors, more eloquent than I, who make a case for reading deeply, widely, seriously. Like the truest sports fans who love reading good sports writers or the foodies who not only experiment with their cuisine but love reading about it, so many readers love books about books. We’ve got a section like that in our store and many are near and dear to our hearts.

This 2023 is a gem, a treasure, a wise guidebook to knowing what we mean when we invite people to read widely and how to go about doing that. Hooten Wilson is a great teacher, a fine writer, and here she not only shows how reading should be a spiritual practice which can lead to notable transformation, but gives vivid case studies. She explores how key Christian thinkers of the past read and engaged the printed page, showing us how to read like Augustine or Julian of Norwich or Frederick Douglas or Dorothy Sayers. Her piece on Flannery O’Connor was perhaps penned as she was working on O’Connor’s unfinished novel Why Do The Heathen Rage that just came out a week or so ago (kicking off 2024 to a grand literary start!) This is fabulous, inspiring, winsome and learned all at once, wrapped up into an award winning best book of 2023.

Nourishing Narratives: The Power of Story to Shape Our Faith Jennifer L. Holberg (IVP Academic) $25.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $20.00   

Humans are story-shaped creatures, the back cover tells us, boldly. And we know it, don’t we? We “make sense of our world, pattern our lives, and reflect on what is ultimately significant through language and the words that compose our stories.”

The Bible, Professor Holberg is quick to remind us, is also a book of story; even the legal commandments, the ethical teachings, the theology and doxology, happen in the context of a grand meta-narrative, the unfolding drama from Genesis to Revelation. Might our story and God’s story intermesh? Can stories — you know, novels and short stories, classics and modern ones, poems and pop songs, movies and TV shows — can stories help bridge our story and God’s story? Can narratives be nourishing and help us make sense of our life and our faith?

You know the answer. This is the most lovely, interesting, upbeat, tender, thoughtful book about all this stuff that I have ever read. Holberg teaches literature at Calvin University and is a co-director of the Calvin Center for Faith & Writing (I hope you are coming to their 2024 Festival this Spring!) She knows a bit about the reading life, about the power of books, about how to “understand how stories nourish our faith (and) to discover how our stories are part of God’s great story.” I hope you saw my earlier BookNotes review where I hinted that it was one of my favorite books of the year; it was suh a lovely, inspiring read. Months later I agree, now more than ever. Hooray.

Not only is Jennifer Holberg a clear, compelling, and beautiful writer, but her words in Nourishing Narratives are also filled with truth and goodness. I can’t remember the last time I read a book that made my heart sing along as this one did. Nourishing Narratives will open your eyes, grow your faith, and feed your soul. — Karen Swallow Prior, author of The Evangelical Imagination: How Stories, Images & Metaphors Created a Culture in Crisis

Funny and approachable, erudite and smart, this book is not merely a celebration of literature–it is an invitation to learn how to read as if our faith lives depend on it. Jennifer Holberg shows us why we love stories and, more importantly, why we need them. –James K. A. Smith, editor in chief of Image journal, author of You Are What You Love and How to Inhabit Time


We Become What We Normalize: What We Owe Each Other in Worlds That Demand Our Silence David Dark (Broadleaf Books) $26.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59

David Dark is always my teacher and I learn something about the world, about the meaning of integrity, about faith and politics and art and life, with nearly every tweet or social media post or printed page he does. That’s a lot of learning going down and if you are still moved by the primal cry of, say, David Byrne —“my God, what have I done?” — and want to be done with “same as it ever was” — then this book, believe me, this book is for you.

And if you don’t get that, that’s okay. Because David is patient and kind and wants to invite into his orbit of conversation all sorts of people, all sorts of readers. I do not think I know anyone who so earnestly endeavors to be good news in a hurting world, also by being gracious, if forthright, always. And when he blows it, he admits as much. He knows that our modern technologies sometimes facilitate us harming others and he is attentive to that; he’s learned some stuff and shares it here. Following how he calls out political leaders and the preachers that seem to cover for them in his home state (again, on social media) is an instruction.

This recent book carries that project on; it emerges from his heart and gives shape to the shape of his work. He is, as I tried to say in an earlier review, not only wanting to resist idols and fake news and the temptations of power but he wants to build connection and community. This book shows how, in very creative prose, in wild stories, in a few allusions that might seem weird — especially that “White Supremacist Antichrist Poltergeist” bit and the subsequent robot soft exorcism thing, but hang in there, it makes sense eventually. You will appreciate this stuff about “courage, conscience, and deferential fear” and how to manage our feelings, even in these polarized times. You’ve got to read the chapter “Beyondism.”

This book is brave, some have said, and it is: David tells his own story of complicity and his own story of breaking free from his own sense of safety, moving towards beloved community. He is from the South, raised in a Bible believing home, and grew to love rock and roll, movies and films, performances and protests. From sci-fi to Fred Rogers, he illuminates his tales with wisdom and goodness. He is not messing around, except when he maybe is. (A note near the end speaks of the “healing game of infinite play.”)

I said some things about We Become What We Normalize in BookNotes when it first came out and only said a bit of what I wanted; there is just so much. I have read it twice and am still left needing to consider more. I invite you to know that I am awarding it an obvious Best Book of 2023 award and, small time bookstore that we are, I hope it inspires somebody to give him a try. He’s bold and allusive, edgy and playful, serious and spiritual, without any of it being predictable or normal. I compliment David to say I don’t think I know a writer out there doing what he does. Skip Kafka or Vonnegut or whoever else you turn to for edgy inspiration. David is the real deal, a prophet of sorts, Biblically literate and a follower of the Way, a Tennessee Bono-like leader, getting things done. There is no shame in all of this; there is humanness and joy. He offers, as put in a remarkable back cover blurb by the remarkable Hanif Abdurraquib (They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us) “a light flickering in the midst of darkness.”


Every year we look for a favorite read or two in this exceedingly important field, and while there is always a good one or two in recent years, this year we offer a special Hearts & Minds award of appreciation to the Denver Institute for Faith & Work. Members of their team have created three titles this year, each which seem, to me, to be “just what the doctor ordered.” These three each deserve a whole lot of attention. Hooray.

Working from the Inside Out: A Brief Guide to Inner Work That Transforms Our Outer World Jeff Haanen (IVP) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

I was glad to highlight this when it first came out and while I don’t think I’ve ever met Jeff, I feel like we are so simpatico that we are comrades of some sort. (I know, a dumb thing for a bookstore owner to say to an esteemed writer.) I had waited for this when it was a work-in-progress and happily announced it when it first released a month or so ago. It may be one of the very best introductory books on this field for one who wants a mid-level, exceedingly thoughtful resource. But not only does it offer a vivid and solid vision of the importance of our vocation and callings into the world worlds, but it, as Chris Horst (of HOPE International) puts it, “In Working from the Inside Out, Jeff Haanen takes on what takes us on.” Exactly. Very highly recommended.

Read Katherine Leary Alsdorf’s astute description and know why we want to honor it as one of the very best books this year.

I can’t wait to give this book to some important people in my life! As the title suggests, Jeff Haanen’s most valuable contribution is his focus on our inner spiritual life and the promise that a life attuned to the hope, love, and grace of the gospel changes us. Work is a crucible; it forms and shapes us–for better or for worse. Jeff’s five guiding principles (seek deep spiritual health, think theologically, embrace relationships, create good work, and serve others), developed and tested during his decade with Denver Institute for Faith & Work, offer a way toward work forming us ‘for better.’ — Katherine Leary Alsdorf, founding director of Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s Center for Faith and Work

Women, Work, and Calling: Step Into Your Place in God’s World Joanna Meyer (IVP) $15.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $12.00

Of course women should read any number of the classics in the field — the premier title is co-authored by Katherine Leary Aldsorf (Every Good Endeavor with Tim Keller) and we always recommend it. But for someone wanting a fairly simple, uniquely Christian study of work and calling specifically for women this is simply the best thing out there. We’ve long appreciated Katelyn Beaty’s 2017 title, A Woman’s Place: A Christian Vision for Your Calling in the Office, the Home, and the World which is necessarily broad. Meyer’s is more focused, direct, updated, and since it emerges from her work at the Denver Institute it is exceptional — savvy about careers as well as the contemporary cultural  moment. It is short and powerful and is a very important contribution for the movement of integrating faith and work. One chapter is called “A Gospel as Big as the World” and another says, “God Grows Your Soul Through Work.”  Some will appreciate her playful “Don’t Lean In, Lean Hard.” You’ve got to read this, or give it to a woman you know.

In this much-needed book, Joanna Meyer explores internal and external challenges that Christian women face in the workplace. In short and accessible chapters appropriate for individuals or groups, Meyer draws on Scripture, social science research, and the voices of Christian leaders to provide guidance for navigating these challenges. I highly recommend this book for women at every career stage, from the college student to the seasoned professional, and everyone in between. — Denise Daniels, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Wheaton College, author, Working in the Presence of God: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Work

Faithful Work: In the Daily Grind with God and for Others Ross Chapman & Ryan Tafilowski (IVP) $15.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $12.00

Only once did a Christian scholar enter our store and demean us for not being academic enough. Often, many think we recommend things that are a wee bit too challenging, too hefty, too complex. We know different sorts of books are designed for different sorts of readers and for those wanting or needing a very short, really basic, nicely simple, altogether lovely book about the huge amount of time we spend in the work world, then this is the one to read. We are really proud to have such excellent, brief, basic books and want to honor this one, for sure. Chapman and Tafliowski show how “work is a way to love God, serve our neighbors, and demonstrate the gospel.” With this broad understanding of God’s work in the world, they say, “we engage our daily work as part of how God makes all things new.” Exactly.

Hooray for this and congrats to Rod Chapman as the new CEO of the Denver Institute for Faith and Work. He holds a DMin in faith, work, economics, and vocation from Fuller so knows what he’s doing. Ryan Tafilowski is a theology prof at Denver Seminary, a pastor, and holds a PhD in systematics from the University of Edinburgh. For a while he was the “theologian in residence” at the Denver Institute. This may be short and sweet but it is not shallow or superficial. Excellently done, award winning, I’d say. Yay.










Advent: The Season of Hope Tish Harrison Warren (IVP) $20.00 – OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00   

Christmas: The Season of Life and Light Emily Hunter McGowin (IVP) $20.00 – OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00

Epiphany: Season of Glory Fleming Rutledge (IVP) $20.00 – OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00


I have written about all of these three marvelous books previously, and they are preceded by the others so far released in the great “Fullness of Time” series curated and edited by Esau McCauley. The first two were Lent: The Season of Repentance and Renewal and Pentecost:A Day of Power for All People, both which were quite good. These three, though, were so very excellent, they made their way onto our Best Books of 2023 list. I’d say something Latin if I could: these are extraordinary, rich, readable and short. Thanks be to God for all three of these fabulous books. Highly recommended.

Whether you are an aficionado of liturgical studies or are more traditionally free or low-church or even if you aren’t sure what Advent is all about (let alone the religious significance of the twelve days of Christmas or Epiphany, whatever that is) I invite you to order these. We believe they are deserving of much attention and offer thanks to the authors and to Dr. McCauley for his expert guidance in the project. Will more come later in 2024?


Sacred Seasons: A Family Guide to Center Your Year Around Jesus  Danielle Hitchen, illustrations by Stephen Crotts (Harvest House) $29.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $23.99

This is hands-down our favorite family devotional that we’ve seen this year, mostly because it is oriented around the church year. I do not know if the author is Anglican or has found another sort of intentionally liturgical worshipping community, but she surely gets it. The book is fresh and fun, utterly Christ-centered, and illustrated handsomely with just the right touch of class. Harvest House is a pop level evangelical press who occasionally does extraordinary books and this is one of great surprises of the year.

Danielle is a thoughtful teacher whose invitational spirit will help you learn and grow alongside your family as you journey through the liturgical year. This deeply rooted offering is informational yet accessible, historical yet approachable. The spiritual rhythms, routines, and rituals in this artful collection are sure to resource families for years to come. — Kayla Craig, author of To Light Their Way and creator of the Liturgies for Parents podcast

More than any resource I know, Sacred Seasons makes following the Christian calendar approachable and enjoyable. This book is meticulously researched and theologically robust–it will be an enormous blessing to anyone who wants to enter more deeply into the rhythms of grace God has given his church. — Matthew Lee Anderson, author, Called Into Questions and founder of Mere Orthodoxy


How To Be Married (To Melissa) – A Hilarious Guide to a Happier, One-of-a-Kind Marriage Dustin Nickerson (Nelson Books) $19.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

I don’t recall what I was even thinking when I started this crazy book. I knew the author was a clean comedian, working in the mainstream of comedy clubs and such, a person of some kind of faith, and that he sells his marriage book at his stand-up gigs. That itself is, if not exactly hilarious, kind of funny. I was game.

And I was utterly captivated, sometimes almost like a train wreck that you just can’t stop watching. Nickerson tells (in pretty funny writing that sometimes is really funny) of fights they’ve had, how old baggage can haunt you, how to solve problems, stuff about money, and a bit about sex. Yep, he goes there, in a cringy/funny sort of way. And did I mention fights? These guys fight about everything.

And he’s friends with Taylor Tomlinson who wrote a fabulously great foreword; it doesn’t sound like she was bribed on anything, although she admits she didn’t read the part on sex; she just didn’t want to hear about that from him, sort of a second dad in the comedy biz.

And you know what? This is one of the most honest, realistic, practical, fun, and hopeful marriage books I’ve read, maybe ever. He mouths off about all kinds of stuff — he’s a stand up comedian, after all, an introvert, no less, too — and then his wife Melissa chimes in with rebuttals or sidebars or postscripts. Like their marriage, this is a pretty collaborative process and they obviously like each other and respect each other a lot. And they love their kids fiercely, even if they make fun of them a lot. It’s that kind of family.

As the back cover says, “Marriage isn’t always funny. But that doesn’t mean you can’t laugh about it.”

“Marriage isn’t always funny. But that doesn’t mean you can’t laugh about it.”

There are two valuable aspects of this that I loved but that you should know about: first, they insist that no marriage book can do it all, that every relationship is unique and there are no easy answers to a happy marriage, let alone simplistic formulas. I think he’s a bit hard on all the other books out there, as many are truly great, but he’s got a huge point, right? They implied this in the subtitle, so there are no grand one-size-fits-all plans.

Secondly, they have been through some pretty hefty evangelical stuff in a church that made national news for being dysfunctional and toxic. They had already left that place by the time it imploded, but they have that background. They know their Bible and doctrine and they love Jesus, but, well, it just isn’t as central to the book as some might wish. They haven’t exactly “deconstructed” but it comes out in a section where they, as always, invite people to lighten up a bit and laugh about, say, the goofy stuff you do when your trying to herd fighting cats into a car to get to church on time looking all happy and sanctified. Ha.

As the back cover promises, “this book will help your marriage if by no other means than looking at Dustin’s dysfunctional marriage and feeling better about your own.” That’s one award winning bit of promo copy if you ask me. One of the best of the year.


I already named Saying It Loud: 1966–The Year Black Power Challenged the Civil Rights Movement by Mark Whitaker as one of my favorite books of the year in our previous first part of this Best Books post. That obviously could be placed in this category, too.

Remaking the World: How 1776 Created the Post-Christian West Andrew Wilson (Crossway) $29.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $23.99

I would give this book more than one award if I could — everything now and then this publisher just makes exquisite volumes, with nice endpapers, quality paper, a good heft, and a textured, neat cover. As soon as this arrived I took delight, knowing that much was special. Then seeing the remarkable endorsements on the back from folks like Alan Jacobs and Karen Swallow Prior and Mark Noll — who calls it a “triumph” — made me pay attention.

Also (let’s be honest) when a publisher who tends to tilt rightward on many social issues and is known for non-compromising commitments to their rigorous theological angle does a book on American history, I sort of assume it might play somewhat into the hands of nationalists and those who make American history an example of exceptionalism of a civic religious sort. I loved the look of the book and was curious why Jacobs and Noll and Prior and the discriminating colonial scholar Thomas Kidd (who said it was a “tour de force”) would rave so.

I was pleasantly surprised that the thesis alluded to in the subtitle is exactly what this book is about. Wilson colorfully examines things that happened in a single year in the late eighteenth century that “changed the trajectory of the Western world.” Arising from 1776, he shows, we have things like globalization, the Enlightenment, the industrial revolution, the dawn of romanticism and the rise of post-Christianity. Yes, he draws on key documents and historical figures, but it is lively and easy to follow. I think it deserves being on our list of Best Books.

And it deserves some award for this, too: Wilson uses an acronym to help us follow the plot. He says that these political, philosophical, economics, and industrial changes “shaped the modern West into a WEIRDER society: Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic, Ex-Christian, and Romantic.” What a hoot — who knew that’s where our weirdness comes from? You’ve got to read this amazing volume. More than 350 pages including the voluminous notes.


Opinions: A Decade of Arguments, Criticisms, and Minding Other People’s Business Roxane Gay (Harper) $30.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $24.00

I love reading short form essays, articles, columns, op-ed pieces. Among my all time favorite reads are two marvelous, vital collections of essays by Barbara Kingsolver and two lovely, wise, moving collections by Ann Patchett. I adored (a year ago) Thin Places: Essays from In Between by Jordan Eisner and although it came out a year ago, one of my most moving reading experiences this year was taking up Terry Tempest Williams’ essay collection, Erosion: Essays of Undoing.

Anyway, much of this is one more directly political and whether I agree with her or not isn’t the point. A book like this collects provocative, blazing pieces and that, as Slate called her book Bad Feminist, “arresting and sensitive.” Her book Hunger was one of the most moving books I’ve ever read — her questions about black bodies and about being fat will stay with me forever — and I like that the New York Times Book Review has called her writing “luminous intellectually rigorous, and deeply moving.”

She works hard at her craft of writing and her op-ed work is important. Her longer pieces — a few celebrity stories, and some from her “Dear Abby” type advice column make for entertaining reading. Naturally, many will not agree with her fully, or rarely, for that matter. Still, this is a handsomely bound collection of a decade of her work and I was really pleased to have it. She is a vital force, a voice for the outcasts, and she is worth honoring.


Oh my. This is my favorite genre, often, and what I’m often reading at bedtime. Some are so well written, the lives they narrate so interesting, that I’m transported, perhaps even more than reading mere fiction. I’ve read a lot and reviewed a few. Here are my highlights, personal favs, each for different reasons. Maybe these aren’t all for everyone, but I liked them. A lot.

All My Knotted-Up Life: A Memoir Beth Moore (Tyndale) $27.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $22.39

This was perhaps my biggest surprise of the year, realizing quickly just how very much I loved this book and how very much I came to admire this iconic Southern Baptist women’s Bible teacher who became disillusioned with their sexism and cruelty. This is one heck of a page-turning story, well told, earnest, important. She’s a good writer, really! You will learn some things about her life and marriage and family and some of it will grab you in a way from which you may never recover. Surely one of the best books of the year.


How Far to the Promised Land: One Black Family’s Story of Hope and Survival in the American South Esau McCaulley (Convergent Books) $27.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $21.60

We were glad to see how much press this book got, his fairly straight-forward story was so well told and illustrative of so much that it ended up on some major newspapers and mags Best Books of 2023 lists. It chronicles his journey from rural, poor, Jim Crow Alabama (and his role in a Pentecostal church) to becoming a PhD candidate in Scotland, landing a job as New Testament prof at Wheaton College. The details of his own family and their story is insightful and, as much black writing as there is these days (happily so) this stands out. Publisher’s Weekly is right to say it is written with “uncompromising honesty and deep introspection.” Kudos.

I love this comment about it:

Esau McCaulley’s riveting memoir holds together tensions that many of us pry apart: systemic injustice and personal responsibility, accountability and forgiveness, honesty and sympathy. This book is prophetic without being preachy, and heartwarming without being cloying. . . . A triumph of storytelling. — Tish Harrison Warren, author of Liturgy of the Ordinary and Prayer in the Night


How to Stay Married: The Most Insane Love Story Ever Told Harrison Scott Key (Avid Reader Press) $27.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $22.39

I have been waiting for another moving, thoughtful, hilarious book by this intelligent, entertaining, respected prose writer since we devoured The Largest Man On Earth and Congratulations, Who are You Again?, two of my all time favorite reads. Little did I know that in subsequent years his wife had an affair and he wrote about it all, in gruesomely honest detail, including his (understandable) unChristian hatred for the guy, an uninspiring neighbor. In my review of this earlier in the year I mentioned how funny this was, how I ripped through it, breathless, hoping against hope for some kind of happy ending. I won’t spoil it all, but it is one of the best books I read all year.

I almost wanted to name this at the start of the last post where I had those ultimate top two favorite books, but I really wanted it to be here among the memoirs. Still, it really is a Best Book of the Year, if you can take it… and it is funny, in a tragic sort of way. Kudos to all involved and hats off to the gang that helped him through.

Where the Waves Turn Back: A Forty-Day Pilgrimage Along the California Coast  Tyson Motsenbocker (Worthy Books) $27.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $21.60

I hope you recall my long review of this last summer — the short version is that Tyson (a hip, Gen X singer-songwriter) spends a long and harrowing forty days hiking an ancient trail carrying the ashes of his beloved mother who died too young. He dodges all kinds of bullets, meets hoboes, connects with old friends, and does the whole hiking memoir thing with a casual meandering tone that ends up winning. So good — on of my favs of the year, for sure.

Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City: A Memoir Jane Wong (Tin House Books) $27.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $22.36

If you know Jane Wong for her highly regarded poetry you will want to know about her life growing up in a New Jersey Chinese restaurant (she says such kids are called “restaurant babies) and her girlhood, ongoing studies, love lives, cross-cultural experiences, intense struggles; it not a linear autobiography and at times seems nearly random. But I couldn’t stop reading. Some of the book is nearly light-hearted (and you’ll love her colorful mother) but some of it is heavy, too. I appreciated her rage, especially about fetishizing sexual violence against Asian-Ameircan women.

Ms Wong loves her metaphors and it became fun catching some that make no sense whatsoever. She’s a poet, I kept saying to myself. But, man…

Kirkus Review says it is:

A generous, steaming stew of a book loaded with personality and originality and sprinkled with the fiery chili of rage.

It was a favorite read this year for me, and, anyway –any book that can inspire that kind of a line deserves an award, right?

Leaping from the Burning Train: A Poet’s Journey of Faith Jeanne Murray Walker (Slant Books) $20.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00

This, too, was not only one of the best memoirs I read this year but a book that I so enjoyed that I’ve promoted it to folks who may not be directly interested in how a poet came to emerge with faith intact from a strict, conservative, fundamentalist upbringing. It’s just a great read on its own term, a splendid memoir, narrating a fascinating life.

Unlike some deconstruction narratives these days, this one is — for starters — really wonderfully written. Walker is a thoughtful, faithful, lover of literature and it shows in clear, clean, writing that is full of images and metaphors and ideas, but never grows obscure. She has seen some forms of faith that are not fully healthy and are certainly not intellectually viable, but this is not a horrible story of toxic faith and religious harm. It is just the story of coming to terms with how we all make sense of things and how she moved away from the literalism of her funky little Christian school and revivalistic faith and her frugal, frugal parents.

She can name the moment it became clear — through the study of literature and poetry — that we interpret stuff. Indeed, there are different readings (some more plausible than others, perhaps) and insight is always contingent, understood within the skin of the interpreter. Ahh, that seemingly secular learning helped her understand that we “seek through a glass dimly” and need a more flexible and humble faith, makes for a wonderful plot switch. And yet, she can’t shake her faith. Her ups and downs are chronicled here so wonderfully I am sure I’m going to read this one again. Beautifully done; very highly recommended.

The Women They Wanted: Shattering the Illusion of the Good Christian Wife Shannon Harris (Broadleaf Books) $27.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $22.39

I want to name this because it was a really important glimpse into a toxic faith community that was, not long ago, respected by many, including people I once knew. For those who want a hard, painful, anguishing expose of really stupid stuff going on in a nationally known church movement with celebrity pastors, this is the one. It was infuriating how evangelicals could become so strict, and so wrong about gender roles. Married, finally, to Joshua Harris (famously the young author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye) who was groomed to replace the needlessly arrogant C.J. Mahany at the Sovereign Grace movements mothership in Gaithersburg, this tells Ms Harris’s story as am earnest woman in a misogynist subculture. We learn about their rigid views — more harsh perhaps than some of us realized — and their admixture of charismatic renewal and hyper-calvinism. We learn about their Bible studies and mentoring groups and less than adequate relationships, even as the church leaders seemed to think they were doing it all so well. Spoiler alert: it took some time for the toll to be taken but it was a deadly mix and it ruined their marriage.

Mr. Harris has come to renounce all of that (perhaps leaving the faith altogether) and in The Women They Wanted she offers her candid howl of grief for all those lost years. She understandably struggles with what sort of faith might rise from these ashes, and my heart went out to her, even as I kept wondering why she put up with such oddball stuff.  When church leaders made her disinvite her oldest best friends from being in her wedding, she should have bolted right then and there — but you can imagine how one somewhat new to the faith and new to the church and being raised up as a celebrity pastor’s stellar wife, she played along, despite this huge red flag. The way other conservative evangelicals overlooked this toxic stuff and the way the church failed to show adequate grace and insight is horrifying, making this book, if not a literary masterpiece, certainly an important report from the scene.

And that cover! We should talk about that…   

A Living Remedy: A Memoir Nicole Chung (Ecco) $29.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $23.99

You may know of her previous memoir, much about being an Asian American child adopted into a kindly white family in a largely white region in rural Oregon. There are, as they say, troubling truths. Yet she loves her extended family and, as a writer of remarkable talent, she explores the story of her fathers illness and death, the bereavement of her mother, and, through it all, the horrible situation created in part by our inadequate health care systems.

I had underlined a passage that I later noticed another reviewer had cited: Her father’s death, she says, felt like “a kind of negligent homicide, facilitated and sped by the state’s failure to fulfill its most basic responsibilities to him and others like him.” I’ve been thinking about this narrative, it’s great love and it’s portrayal of family life amidst great sorrow.

Shattered: A Son Picks Up the Pieces of His Father’s Rage Arthur Boers (Eerdmans) $22.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $18.39

When an amazing, highly regarded literary figure like Andre Dubus writes a stunningly great introduction, as he has here, one wonders how good a book can be to garner that kind of praise.  Well, as I tried to express in a long review last spring, Arthur Boers tells in glowing prose and extraordinary insight the nature of a life lived in a strict, Reformed, immigrant subculture with a violent father. His father worked in glass manufacturing so the “shattered” language of the title is luminous and serves any number of meanings. It is a rich book, one I will never forget.

Several reviews have noted that Arthur has not only emerged in his faith in somewhat different styles and perspectives, but has wisely offered balanced and healthy leadership in the various spaces he has served. He was raised in a Dutch Canadian, conservative Calvinist community with their particular continental worldview and found a lively faith in a nondenominational group in his public school, until he found a home in an Anabaptist faith. He was active as a Mennonite where he developed friendships (that bore fruit in several important books) with the likes of Presbyterian Eugene Peterson and Roman Catholic philosopher and cultural critic Albert Borgman. Although it isn’t the concern of the book — it is a memoir of growing up and finding some degree of healing from his father’s rage — he is now a Canadian Anglican, with a ministry in spiritual direction. It ends beautifully describing this sort of contemplative vision and a restful attention to the natural world. It is a breathtaking book, hard and wondrous, a true award winner, a notable book of 2023.

The Best Strangers in the World: Stories from a Life Spent Listening Ari Shapiro (HarperOne) $28.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $23.19

Ha — this was such a blast I couldn’t wait to announce my decision to name it as a vivid favorite this year. I reviewed it at BookNotes and you can search for those comments if you want more, but, believe me, this was a really fun read, lovely, even, and a very inspiring story of the famous NPR voice. What a kid he was, one of the only Jews in his Fargo, North Dakata school.

The journey to and of a “life spent listening” is fabulous, making the book so interesting, pleasurable and insightful. It was a great read.

Some may not know of Ari’s role in the peacemaking efforts of the rowdy, diverse band called Pink Martinis, but he is part of that singing group, and that, too makes for some fun stories of them singing Israeli folk songs to Arab Muslims or pushing other ethnic tunes in places where it might be considered dangerous to do so. As is often the case, good art wins the day, and this book — mostly about learning the craft of being a globally known reporter — is a testimony to the art and craft of being a good human being.

Lessons for Healing in a World That Is Sick Lyndsey Medford (Broadleaf Books) $25.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $20.79

Almost every year I find myself wiping away tears and taking notes while reading a book about chronic illness, whether it was the must-read reflection about having Lyme disease (by reporter and scholar Ross Douthart) or the beautiful story told so eloquently in The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness by Meghan O’Rourke (an editor at the Yale Review.) I believe that this year, the book that stood out in this sometimes painful reading genre is My Body and Other Crumbling Empires. Some of it was simply captivating for the unfolding narrative and other pages were the sort where you have to put the book now to to think, to ponder, to take it in. She is a heck of a writer and is doing something pretty audacious. She is working on everything from theodicy to liberation theology to the nature of feminist embodiment ideals for our Christian living, to a more systematic understanding of the principalities and powers that make the whole world sick. In her hands, this story of being ill, seriously so, causes her to rethink everything.

The publisher explains it nicely: “My Body and Other Crumbling Empires points out the beauty and ubiquity of our limitations; the importance of accessibility, broadly construed; the interconnected nature of individual and public health; and the badly needed wisdom we have gained from living with our particular bodies.”

Friends — agree fully or not, resonate at first or not, this is what books can do. Wow. Wow. And I love that great art on the book jacket. Again, wow.

I’m inspired by Lyndsey Medford’s deft mix of gentleness and fire. She speaks the truth we crave and manages to do so with the voice of a trusted friend. — Shannan Martin, author,The Ministry of Ordinary Places and Start with Hello


King: A Life Jonathan Eig (Farrar Straus Giroux) $35.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $28.00

At about 650 pages and obviously thick, I wanted to give this some heavy award; heck, I will admit I have not even finished it yet. But there is no doubt that this is a book that is simply definitive, enduring, perhaps never to be surpassed. There have been plenty of good biographies of Dr. King and I have read several. There is plenty for those who want to know more. When I first heard that this was the first major biography in decades, perhaps to better the classic ones — like David Garrow’s say — I sputtered a bit. Do we really need yet another biography?

Ahh, but here is what makes Jonathan Eig’s so incredibly important. It is the first major work that was done on Dr. King since the FBI released formerly declassified files. This archival stuff obviously offered fresh information, and now, in King, we have a book that is an immediate classic, the release of which is a true literary event.

Blurbs rave on the back in a mighty choir of testimony— Peniel Joseph David Garrow, Lerone Martin, Ken Burns. This is one for the ages. It is not only the first major biography of King in a generation, it is one of the most important books of the decade.

Walter Brueggemann’s Prophetic Imagination: A Theological Biography Conrad L. Kanagy (Fortress) $24.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.96

Well, Walter Brueggemann is not as famous or influential as MLK but, you know, in his own way, he has left a mark perhaps unlike any Biblical scholar in the last 50 years. In the religious landscape of mainline denominational folks he is a household name; among thoughtful Catholic and evangelical scholars and activists, he is revered. He is an icon among the progressive, social action faith movements, like Sojourners, say, where he often publishes. In the guild of academic Biblical studies he has (if not single-handedly, almost) causes a shift in the patterns of thinking that pervade critical Biblical scholarship. To this day, his many books — including a brand new collection of marvelous blog posts expertly edited by Kanagy —keep coming and his Biblical comment, prayers, and social observation is legendary.

This is the first, and perhaps landmark biography of the Bible scholar and seminary teacher and mentor to many who coined the phrase “prophetic imagination.” It emerged as the central Pennsylvania Mennonite pastor Kanagy got to know Brueggemann over weekly Zoom calls. As Walter’s stories unfolded, as Kanagay pressed him to tell more, the two of the realized they had a book. It is a wonderful biography, a notable tribute, a great tool to help us understand how Brueggemann understands the Bible, God, the vocation of Christian fidelity, and what it means to speak truth to power in these days. It will help us all (in the words of Duke professor Ellen Davis) “make sense of our experience of what is still possible with God…”

Beth and I have crossed paths with Brueggemann several times over the years, selling books at events, and he has always been alert to the Scriptures, attentive to those in the room, and very kind to us. How did he become who he is? How does he combine the pastoral and the prophetic? This book gives a clue. If you don’t own it yet, you should. Congrats to Kanagy and thank you to Dr. Brueggemann.

Tolkien’s Faith: A Spiritual Biography Holly Ordway (Word on Fire Academic) $34.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $27.96

Well. If this wasn’t on the major book lists, something is fishy because, by all measures and reports from those who know, this is a major work, done with an exquisite style, by an extraordinary woman who is known for being an expert in apologetics and in literature. Obvious, if these nearly 550 pages show anything it is that she is up to the task, offering a diligent (but not tedious) study of the great writer’s life and the way in which his Catholic faith shaped his life, his writing, his work, and, of course, his friendships.

There are forty chapters (and a number of appendices) that will delight any true fan of Lord of the Rings and there is enough in here to illustrate how JRR’s had such an influence upon his pal and writing buddy, C.S. Lewis. Of course we could fill pages naming important words about Tolkien and his Inklings. (Forgive me if I just name-check a few: I suppose most know Tom Shippey’s highly regarded J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century but please don’t miss Joseph Loconte’s  A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918. A few years ago mainstream critics raved about by Philip and Carol Zaleski’s The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams and of course many BookNotes fans know Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings by the impressive Diana Pavlac Glyer.) But this, this, this gives the great JRR his due, and explores his faith in ways that no other book has done. It is not common to get to say that about a topic, and this, indeed, is pioneering.

Tolkien’s Faith is the first systematic, book-length exploration of the influence and importance of the Christian faith in Tolkien’s life. It should establish that his Catholicism, as a fundamental and pervasive presence in his life, works, and concerns, was at least as significant as were his professional pursuits and war experience, and that recognizing and exploring this influence in detail is at least as illuminating. — Carl F. Hostetter, editor, The Nature of Middle-Earth

Ordway’s detailed yet accessible book will soon become an essential compass for anyone who has the desire and courage to deepen their relationship with the author of The Lord of the Rings. Instead of excluding or exploiting his religious commitments, this biography, journeying to the foundations of his humanity, neither censors Tolkien’s faith nor idealizes it. — Giuseppe Pezzini,  Fellow of Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford; editor, Journal of Inkling Studies

Holly Ordway is the Cardinal Francis George Professor of Faith and Culture at the Word on Fire Institute and Visiting Professor of Apologetics at Houston Christian University. She holds a PhD in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is an editor for the Journal of Inklings Studies. Her book Tolkien’s Modern Reading: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages received the 2022 Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies.

Timothy Keller: His Spiritual and Intellectual Formation Colin Hansen (Zondervan Academic) $26.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59

Although it came out before Keller died this past May, there was an urgency about reading it as many knew his time was nearly up. Even the secular, mainstream media covered his passing, indicating he was an important figure in culture, representing (as most BookNotes readers would know, even if not all agree with his orientation) an enlightened sort of gracious kind of evangelicalism, taking a winsome but intellectually serious faith into the public squares, making a case for faith lived in the marketplace. He appealed to those with justice sensibilities (even if he didn’t go far enough for some) and he appealed to those with a need for clarity about Reformed doctrine and theological details, which he had in spades. He was cultural astute, philosophical wise, quoted Tolkien and befriended abstract artist Mako Fujimura. I will never forget being at Redeemer in Manhattan when he hosted and dialogued with the great civil rights attorney Bryan Stevens. How did a guy who loved his theology and doctrine end up working it out in the midst of one of the great urban centers in the world, starting up a highly regard “Center for Faith and Work”?

This book explains it all. It explores his faith and formation, the books he read, the scholars he esteemed, his work in seminary and his early church ministry. As he sensed a call to Manhattan, the plot thickens and Hansen expertly explores the details of how Tim and his wife studied and learned and preached and prayed their way into helping launch a globally respected church in one of the most secular regions of North America.

Agree or not with Keller on any number of theological or strategic topics, this intellectual biography is admirable as it shows what happens when one family ordinary Pennsylvania Lutheran kid decisively responds to the gospel in college and dedicates himself to Kingdom service. It is interesting, instructive, commendable.


Why We Create edited by Brian Brown & Jane Clark Scharl (Square Halo Books) $16.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59

This book is small — a smallish compact size — and yet is so thoughtfully done that it absolutely takes its stand next to much larger, verbose, and costly volumes. It is lovingly produced by the Anselm Society and (as I said in a rave review earlier this year at BookNotes) it includes writers, visual artists, theologians, and thinkers who offer life-giving insight about the creative life. Why do we create? And what is involved in the creative process? Listen to the likes of Marilyn McEntyre and Leslie Bustard ruminate on that, framed by foundational theological stuff (in the section “God creates”) by Hans Boersma, Peter Leithart, Jane Scharl and Paul Buckley. Some of these authors have crafted their own good books (Grace Olmstead, for instance) or are themselves artists (Matthew Clark, for instance.) The heavyweight critic Anthony Esolen offers a moving Epilogue.

In 2021 Square Halo produced a similarly sized, lovely and wise little volume called Naming the Animals: An Invitation to Creativity. I loved that one by Stephen Roach. This is a bit more sophisticated in tone and is a brilliant follow up. Kudos one and all.

The Cult of Creativity: A Surprisingly Recent History Samuel W. Franklin (Chicago University Press) $26.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $20.80

I have pondered this book long and often and recall the electric sort of joy of discovery while reading it, nearly unsurprised this year, reading something that I literally knew nothing about, and taking it in, page by splendid page. Who knew this stuff about the history of the notion of creativity, and where it came from? It is, or so Franklin argues, as the subtitle puts it, “a surprisingly recent” history. Kudos to this very good writer for offering this survey of something that has oddly not been studied that carefully.

You will have to read it yourself but (as one reviewer explained) “after World War II a fascinating ensemble of psychologists, advertising executives, and other assorted gurus attempted to explain and quantify human ingenuity.” But why? Was there something that might even be called sinister afoot? The ideas and practices, programs and technologies became, surely, what we might call an ideology, and it is playing out all over today, from the design world to high tech, from self-help messiahs to bohemian hipsters creating the latest aperitif. I’m riffing in a way that he does not, restrained scholar that he is, but I really appreciate this cultural historian (from Holland!) A bit heady, but, man, this provided one of the best serious reading experiences I had this year. Hooray.


The Church in an Age of Secular Mysticism: Why Spirituality without God Fail to Transform Us Andrew Root (Baker Academic) $28.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $23.19

I hope that you know the mighty, five volume “Ministry in a Secular Age” series produced over the last few years by Luther Seminary prof Andrew Root. Much has been written about them all and this capstone is not only the final release in this series but in many ways the best. It offers some good summary of the whole project and, as do the others, interacts with some of the most important philosophers of culture writing today. He is creative and upbeat even when he is rigorous in explaining philosophical notions. It is — hooray! — an insightful blend of theology, philosophy, cultural studies, Biblical reflection, and a bit of practical application for the ordinary, local congregation.

As Angela Reed of Truett Seminary notes, he is “a gifted practical theologian” and he “invites us to wrestle with the nature of historical and contemporary mystics in the Western world..”  I’m not sure if it is immediately clear why a Theo-philosophical critique of contemporary (godless) mysticisms is “practical” but if you hang in there with him, it will become evident. Can we reclaim our classic convictions about the cross offering the only path for the transformation of the self? Can we reject a secularizing sort of mysticism that is stripped of transcendent power and Christian discipleship? Can we learn to center the practices of confession and discover authentic grace and gratitude and surrender?

Reed calls all of this the work of a “practical theologian” because, simply put, Root is asking how to do ministry in a world such as ours and, frankly, how to do ministry with those who say they are “spiritual but not religious.” That alone deserves a Book of the Year award. Cheers!

: A Future for Your Congregation Beyond More Money, Programs, and Innovation Andrew Root & Blair D. Bertrand (Brazos Press) $21.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $17.59

I am a bit reluctant to celebrate this honorable book because I don’t want you to skip the magisterial volumes of the “Ministry in a Secular Age” series, and certainly not the above-mentioned The Church in an Age of Secular Mysticism. This little book does not replace that big one.

But yet, it is wise that this When Church Stops Working released this year as it is exactly the sort of book of which there are so many — a practical guidebook to stimulate busy church leaders with actionable ideas for congregational renewal and health — but it is informed by the serious cultural analysis developed in the five big books that preceded it.

I hear that the backstory is something like this: Blaire Bertrand (himself with a PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary) has done church consulting in all sorts of places (including Malawi, Africa) and knows a thing or two about integrating a thoughtful framework with practical stuff ordinary church leaders can try. He seems to have approached the heady Dr. Root and said, in so many words, “let’s do this!” So, here, they show how the habits of “watching and listening for God” can bring life out of death for churches in crisis today. The solution (if we’ve been paying attention to Roots magisterial project) isn’t “more money, people, programs, innovation or busyness.” It “rejects pithy slogans and slick approaches” of course, but approaches the crisis of church decline is (first) a better diagnosis and secondly, as Mandy Smith puts it in her back cover blurb, “a helpful, human way forward.”

I think it may be that some of what Root and Bertrand rail against as gimmicks or formulas aren’t as bad as all that; is every innovation driven by the spirit of the age? But for those drawn to that sort of quick fix, this call to return to God, first, could be life changing. It’s the best practical book of church health stuff I’ve seen all year. And it’s fun, too — maybe you saw the neat excerpt that appeared in the latest edition of Comment magazine. Wow.

Pivot: The Priorities, Practices, and Powers That Can Transform Your Church Into a Tov Culture Scot McKnight & Laura Barring (Tyndale) $22.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $18.39

A year or more ago the great book A Church Called Tov came out, exploring that Hebrew word (for a rich and healthy sort of “goodness” and more) and how the local congregation should exhibit this kind of safe, flourishing, gracious, good kind of culture. It was excellent, thoughtful enough, and practical, or at least a bit. It documented the problem with bullying and abuse in churches and offers the “tov” image as a motivating Northstar by which to guide efforts at renewal. There was already in the works a sequel, a guidebook for living it out, for transforming the sub-culture, offering a glimpse of a better environment and a more wholesome “good” tov ecology in one’s church or ministry organization.

The cover design of Pivot shows a great play on words — it is a fabulous sequel, invigorating and provocative, even as it is realistic and sober. Throughout it is practical and do-able, complete with “tov tools” and assessment guides. with God’s help, you can do this! We must build a culture that would be able to spot red flags and cultivate goodness.

Pivot is a prophetic invitation to move. Move towards healing, move toward the light, move toward being the change that is so needed right now. This is exactly what I pray for — the wisdom and clarity to move toward wholeness together. — Danielle Strickland, author, Better Together

Earth Filled with Heaven: Finding Life in Liturgy, Sacraments, and Other Ancient Practices of the Church Aaron Damiani (Moody Press) $14.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $11.99

It is a happy, cool day when the publisher world’s standard habits are upended just a bit and we honor this book (and their publisher) for this 2023 surprise. As I said when I first reviewed it at BookNots, Aaron Damiani is an urban Anglican priest (and first came to our attention when he wrote a book about Lent called The Good of Giving Up written for those without liturgical or sacramental leanings.) As a former fundamentalist, he has discovered the depth and beautify of Anglican worship and a sacramental worldview, as Alexander Schmemann might put it. Earth Filled With Heaven is a book about liturgy and other sorts of ancient practices as exercises within more liturgical congregations and traditions.

I am not a high church guy and don’t worship at a particularly formal liturgical church (although we are traditionally mainline Presbyterian.) So I’m not saying this was a favorite because it convinced me to start attending an Episcopalian or Anglo-Catholic service, but because this focus on the sacramental Jesus and the meaning of the Lord’s Supper and baptism and the church calendar was edifying and helpful.

As it says on the back, “while secular life erodes our humanity, practicing the sacramental life shows us how to recover it. Enter and experience an enchanted Earth Filled with Heaven.” I dig that. This is a handsomely done book — with some colored ink — and we want to celebrate the spiritual rhythms and ancient church orientation it promotes. Perfect for newbies or for old time liturgists who need a fresh reminder of what this style of worship and faith-formation can be. Lovely, healthy stuff.

The Weary Leader’s Guide to Burnout Sean Nemecek (Zondervan) $19.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

Every year there are, increasingly, even, new books on resilience for clergy, for healthy patterns of work, for renewal. Just this week a pastor noted to me that few of their flock had any idea the weight they carry, the human toil of serving the church. We have any number of good books refocusing pastors on the point of all this, and how to do it well. (Think of Justin Writebol’s recent Lexham title, Pastor, Jesus Is Enough: Hope for the Weary, the Burned Out, and the Broken or last year’s award winning The Resilient Pastor by Glenn Packiam, or an older gem, The Imperfect Pastor by Zack Eswine, or a personal favorite by the wise, honest, Mandy Smith called The Vulnerable Pastor.)

The Weary Leader’s Guide to Burnout, though, stands as one of the best such books I read this year. Therapist Chuck DeGroat calls it “exceptional” and other rave reviews remind me that I’ve got to name this as one of our Best of the Year titles. I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t benefit from it. Maybe you should order more than one.

The Weary Leader’s Guide to Burnout is essential reading not only for those who are experiencing exhaustion but for all who have been called to ministry leadership. Nemecek writes with the practical and compassionate wisdom of lived experience, offering theological and psychological insights, compelling stories, and spiritual practices that help us cooperate with the Holy Spirit for transformation and freedom…. Sean holds up mirrors so we can see our compulsions and captivities, and with that healed vision, see more clearly the invitations from Jesus to rest in his love and yield to his grace. — Sharon Garlough Brown, spiritual director, author of the Sensible Shoes and Shades of Light series


How to Know a Person: The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen David Brooks (Random House) $30.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $24.00

I know a few people don’t quite trust David Brooks — he used to be much more right-wing than he is now, and he can be a bit sophisticated at times. But I really respect him and have read all of his books; when I highlighted this when it first came out I think I resisted how much I loved his splendid sociology of younger rich folks who have bohemian values even if they are bourgeois. “Bobos”, he called them. Genius!

This is brilliant and, frankly, a very good bit of reflection on any number of things needed in our culture these days. From the loneliness epidemic to the overt alienation people feel from their churches or other institutions these days, from the political and social polarization to a generation of young adults who have not been given standard tools of personal or civic etiquette, we all need to know a bit about being known. And more how to make others feel known.

This is a deeply Christian book even though I am sure it isn’t pitched like that. But if the gospel of God’s grace is the truest truth, then we can look at the glorious ruins we all are — that is, ourselves and our loved ones, our neighbors and even those we despise — as made in God’s image and deserving of care. How do we really care? And show that we care?

Mr. Brooks is a pundit, a sociologist, a trend-observer, a politico and very good writer of columns from places like The New York Times and his perch on PBS. That he developed a friendship with several thoughtful evangelicals (not least, with the late Timothy Keller) in recent years seems to show, informing his concerns about “knowing” and “caring” with this mostly implicit gospel grace. Brooks is famously curious, wants to know what makes the world tick, and wants to listen to others. The fruit of that in these recent years is this exceptional, profound book, inviting us to better conversations, forming communities of care, learning to even bear the burdens of others when we can.

This is surely one of the great books of 2023.

The Deepest Place: Suffering and the Formation of Hope Curt Thompson (Zondervan) $27.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $22.39

As I said when I first reviewed this at BookNotes, I am a Curt Thompson champion, a fan, a cheerleader for his good books. His previous three are among the most recommended books whenever conversations move in the direction of this sort of psychological advice. But I admitted that when I heard that The Deepest Place was more directly about suffering and resilience (about which so much has been written lately) I was almost (almost) worried. What new could Curt bring to this well-worn topic? Do we need yet another book on this topic?

Man, was I wrong. The Deepest Place touched me at my deepest places and his call to the formation of hope was some of the best stuff I’ve read on that, ever. He has laid out his profound framework (using the Bible and neurology) in his previous masterpieces and now this stands alongside those as must reads. It is one of the best books I read this year and is happily here on our list of favs. It is, trust me, very helpful.

With his formidable intellect and compassionate heart, Curt Thompson draws from Scripture, neurobiology, and inspiring stories to help people advance on the path from suffering to hope and redemption. This is a spiritual formation tour de force for anyone ready to look life’s inescapable pain in the eye and make something better of it. A must-read. — Ian Morgan Cron, author, The Story of You

Holy Unhappiness: God, Goodness, and the Myth of the Blessed Life Amanda Held Opelt (Worthy) $27.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $21.60

When I first announced this, I highlighted how very much I liked Opelt’s previous work, a really good book on various ways that various cultures have developed mourning practices. It was a fabulous read, a wise and helpful book, evolving from her own experience of loss when her beloved sister, author Rachel Held Evans, died so suddenly.

This book is equally well written, delightfully honest, at times real and raw, about being honest with oneself and honest before God about less than pleasant feelings or attitudes. This is not quite a memoir although she shares very nice writing about her own interior life, and it isn’t exactly a book of psychological self help. I like this blend of genres, this sharing of her journey, that doesn’t feel formulaic or simplistic. I am not alone, either, in appreciation. Others we respect have said very impressive things, assuring me I’m not wrong to name this as one of our favorite books of 2023.

Holy Unhappiness is the gospel for our pain and difficulty. I can’t commend the tenderhearted approach that Amanda embodies here enough. A balm for the soul. And hope for our scars. What a glorious read. — A.J. Swoboda, professor of Bible, theology, and World Christianity, Bushnell University, author of After Doubt.

Amanda’s lovely blend of reflection and memoir flows from a heart acquainted with grief and unsatisfied with the cheap remedies our churches and culture too often prescribe. This is a work of immense honesty and prophetic clarity. — Chuck DeGroat, Professor of Pastoral Care and Christian Spirituality, Western Theological Seminary, author, Wholeheartedness: Busyness, Exhaustion, and Healing the Divided Self

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

There are a number of faith-based books about mental illness, various sort of memoirs and evaluations, about those suffering with various concerns, from depression to bipolar disorder. This is one that is so very good in part because it is both exceptionally well written — Bryant really is a creative writer, and Wes Hill has described it as harrowingly frank — and because of how it so naturally integrates a faith in the gospel of Christ and the realities of his own traumas and disappointments. This story is candid about his illness and foibles (and how that feels to him) and it is honest about the broader social context and his life’s situation (he was not accepted into a ministerial program he had hoped for.) This young writer has much to offer and we are grateful for the handsome, thoughtful book.

The useful forward is by Kathryn Greene-McCreight, an Episcopal priest whose own Darkness is My Only Companion is a contemporary classic.


Bridge and Tunnel Boys: Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, and the Metropolitan Sound of the American Century Jim Cullen (Rutgers University Press) $31.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $25.56

Okay, I’m just going to say it: nothing beats Bono’s book of last year, his stirring memoir, Surrender, which made me weep with joy. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I adored the big fat memoir that came out last year by Rolling Stone magazine founder, Jan Wenner’s Like a Rolling Stone. I like books about pop culture and rock music and the like. I just wasn’t sure if any that I read this year was award-worthy.

And then I read this —  thanks to Springsteen fanatic, historian John Fea, who had ordered one from us. I really loved early Billy Joel, especially, and wondered how this author (who I had previously read on Springsteen) compared and contrasted and related the two. And what does “bridge and tunnel” mean, anyway?

Cullen is not your typical rock biographer or fanboy but is an esteemed historian, so when a reviewer says this is “thoughtful and probing” he means it is not just for fans, but it is “a work that evokes a broader sense of the time and place in which the music was made, and how that music continues to influence the wider culture.” (Fred Schruers.) The great Tom Perrota loves it and notes that it is both entertaining and provocative, and should “appeal to anyone interested in pop music and its relationship to the historical currents that influence its creation.” Love it!


Learning to Love: Christian Higher Education as Pilgrimage Alex Sosler (Falls City Press) $18.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

I know, I know, not every Best Books of the Year lists have a category specifically for young adults about their journey through college, let alone from a distinctively Christian perspective. But you know part of the origin story of Hearts & Minds — we used to work for the CCO in Western Pennsylvania helping college students get a vision for their lives where their learning in college was somehow related to their alliance to God’s Kingdom, so that they could discern visions of vocation, someday serving their neighbors and making a difference as butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers, as the saying goes. Eventually CCO adopted a slogan that still animates their Jubilee conference (that Beth and I still serve with a large book display) saying that they express the gospel in ways that “transform college students to transform the world.” That’s audacious, eh? It’s the DNA in our bones, too offering books that might transform readers so they might transform the world.

And so, we are always on the lookout for books for college age students, for CCO workers (and other parachurch ministries like IVCF, DiscipleMakers, Cru, and the like) and congregations near churches that they can easily use with their students to help them understand that they must think Christianly about their learning and see their experiences within institutions of higher learning as deeply related to their own spiritual formation. We need books like this since (let’s be honest) not many churches tell their youth that or mentor collegiates in this vision.

I guess I should admit I helped a tiny bit with some minor editing with this remarkable volume; I did so because I believed in it even in early manuscript form. I love the author and I love this book. It does a simple thing or two with such verve and insight (and breadth of learning) that any college student would benefit from picking it up. And it is pleasurable reading, fun, even.

The things it does are simple enough, but I must say something that will qualify it just a bit; here goes: the book is designed to help first year college students who are attending a church-related or Christian college to see their moving through their college experiences as a pilgrimage. Sosler (who is a professor at Montreat College in Black Mountain, NC) guides kids through this idea of pilgrimage, a journey, a process, a movement of being formed to want the right stuff. Drawing on Augustine (and, more hip, Jamies Smith’s You Are What You Love) he shows how amidst all the classes and extracurricular activities, friends, and mentors one finds in the college years, it is best seen as a journey towards redeemed desire. Oh man, this is revolutionary, and very, very cool.

Here’s the switcheroo that I want to make: it is written for use in Christian colleges but it is so good that I want to say that with the explanation and caveat needed, any student could appreciate it, whether they are at an small, private, liberal arts college or a major, pluralistic university. With the easy-to-read talk about virtue and character formation, pilgrimage and deep ways to know things, I think even a secularized professor would agree: students that search for meaning in their learning, framing it all with the call to love, will surely be better learners and happier students. Want your student to “get” a reason for being in college: give them this fine introduction to some stuff I would bet they have never heard before.

And, by the way, college profs? Any of you out there reading along? Check out Learning to Love to see if your teaching and demeanor are consistent with this high calling of the role of education as mentoring students into a life of care and calling.

Citing everybody from Wendell Berry to Steve Garber, from Parker Palmer to Jamie Smith, from Esther Lightcap Meek to varied saints and mystics from long ago, Sosler makes the text interesting, and, insofar as he exposes wrong ideas and values and style of learning, he is offering something radical. In the very best way. Extra credit, too, for the fabulous questions at the end of each chapter inviting students to ponder the personal implications of all this talk about learning to love. Even if they just grapple with some of those, the investment will be worth it. This author deserves a medal and this book deserves lots of attention. Three cheers!


The Liberating Arts: Why We Need Liberal Arts Education edited by Jeffrey Bilbo, Jessica Hooten Wilson & David Henreckson (Plough Publishing House) $19.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.96

I have rambled on about this at BookNotes and before live audiences this past year and it is a book that, admittedly, is not of immediate interest to everyone; it is about college and learning and the power of the liberal arts. Granted. But my guess is that if you are reading this you know somebody connected to higher education and may, yourself, have great opinions about being a life-long learner. You read fiction and poetry and — if you are a typical BookNotes fan — lots of nonfiction, religious and otherwise. Welcome to the world of ongoing education. We read, we learn, we grow. You will love this book.

Plough is a tremendous, thoughtful, delightful publishing house that does classy little books on all sorts of topics. (I hope you know their excellent, stimulating, journal that comes out weekly online and in a quarterly glorious print journal.) Here they bring together more than a dozen fabulous writers weighing in on why we should love to learn, what the liberal arts have historically been about, why many in higher education have drifted from this classic perspective. Does our consumeristic, secularizing culture effect how we think about learning? What can be done? Listen in to really smart, faithful, authors and join this urgent conversation. For many of us, this surely is a great read for 2023 and beyond. Hooray. Contributors include Anne Sander, Steve Prince, Lydia Dugdale, Noah Toly, David Hsu, John Mark Reynolds and many more.


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

I have tried to promote this before and it seems at once nearly self-evident that this is what the gospel entails — focusing on Jesus — but yet in these days (like most eras, I guess) we need to be reminded. Too quickly our worldviews are synthetic, a mix of this and that, maybe a bit of Bible and a bit of American self help, or a bit of Jesus and a bit of Trump, or a commitment to faith but, well, milquetoast respectability (let’s not get too carried away.) Look, if Jesus is Lord, he is, well, Lord. This book explores this. That he reminds us that the Bible refers to Jesus as the “lamb of God” suggests something pretty counter-cultural, nonviolent, even?

Vreeland reminds us that “when we lose our focus on Jesus, the church’s credibility suffers.” We can agree on that much, can’t we? That Jesus teaches us to love relentlessly, too, we can agree on that, right? So how might knowing Jesus — at the center of our lives— as the Lamb, ushering in an upside down Kingdom, help us be more faithful and glad in our daily discipleship? I like how he offers some pretty radical and grand ideas, but brings it down to key areas of our ordinary lives, our morals, ethics, our common life together in the church, and the like. This is a book about spiritual formation, about the “inside out” formation of character and virtue, and how this shakes down. As Tony Evans has been known to say, Jesus, when He returns, won’t be riding a donkey or an elephant and that is the serious last chapter of this fabulous book. Give it a try; there are good discussion questions, making it a perfect sort of thing we need, centering Jesus. I’ll award that, for sure!

Ordinary Saints: Living Everyday Life to the Glory of God edited by Ned Bustard (Square Halo Books) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

Am I allowed to nominate for a Hearts & Minds Best Book award a volume in which I have a chapter? I almost forgot that little “conflict of interest” thing until I started paging through it (once again) to see what I might highlight to illustrate why it deserves a truly honorable mention. Okay, so what? There you have it: I’ve got a piece in here and I don’t know if it is award winning, but it’s pretty darn good, about the details of running a retail operation, thinking Christianly and behaving normatively in the nitty-gritty of selling stuff.

You see, that is what makes this book so very deserving of a “Best Book” award — every chapter is down and dirty, real, honest, and, often, a load of fun. The book is as eccentric as they come, offering God-drenched chapters on what it looks like to honor the Lordship of Christ, giving God the glory, in the little details of life. From work to play, hobbies to research, happy stuff and tragic stuff, each author shares how they glorify God as ordinary saints in God’s good but broken world. I am confident when I say that there is nothing like it. At all. Square Halo Books deserves an award just for coming up with the idea of this. They deserve another for pulling it off so well.

In my earlier reviews I explained that there are a few famous people here, a few friends, and a lot of ordinary people who you’ve never heard of. And they pen excellent pieces about Christian perspectives on, and Godly motivation for, everything from raising chickens to roller skating, drawing comics to collection serious art, from lovemaking to knitting, we discover here something not only about giving God glory in all things, but we discover something here about the sanctified notion of being fully human. Who wouldn’t want to be glad to read about the joy one takes in karaoke, home repairs, or picking the best briefcase? How about Malcolm Guite writing about his pipes? And who won’t be inspired by. Reading about those who find the capacity to honor God while coping with mental health issues or reflecting on the hardships of grand parenting, or living through chronic pain?

In a way, this book is a tribute to much of what Ned and the late Leslie Bustard and their colleagues (A.D. Bauer and Diana DiPasquale, who both have excellent chapters here) have been doing for twenty-five years, managing this niche, little publisher in Lancaster, PA, raising up the goodness of art and creativity done by “ordinary saints.” Kudos to them, and thank God for this fascinating, exceptional volume.

And, if I may, I think this is one of the coolest book-covers I’ve seen in a while. Yes!

Sacred Strides: The Journey to Belovedness in Work and Rest Justin McRoberts (W Publishing Group) $18.99   OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

I have written about this extensively, and joyfully, because, well, one can’t write about this hoot of a book by this creatively fun guy, without having a blast. But I’m going to try to be sober and serious and succint.

I enjoyed this book immensely, read it twice, enjoyed it even more the second time, learned a lot and took great encouragement from what I got. It is worth your time, too. Justin is a good guide, a friend to many, a coach, podcaster, thought leader (and great singer-songwriter.) He may cite Thomas Merton and Parker Palmer but he also names some rock and roll lines, too.

Here’s what you should know about why I think Sacred Strides is a big cut above the average book on Christian book on living with God day by day. First, it is beyond upbeat, it is energetic, at times electric. He tells stories, makes you laugh, and sometimes may draw tears. Heck, he may draw blood. It’s a punchy, powerful book, direct, but gracious. Did I say he’s a great storyteller?

Besides the energy and its well-written tone — he has worked on his craft as writer over the years and each book keeps getting better — there is the faithful, wise insight, which, again, is not commonplace.

You know we appreciate the many books about rest, about sabbath, about rhythms of life, rules of life, silence and solitude and mindfulness and the like. I’ll be honest: I’ve read more than enough of these and maybe you have, too. I also have read (and celebrated — please see above) many about the Biblical call to work, the big picture of a vision of the Kingdom coming that relates to all of life. So, yes, we need to continually remind people of our holy calling to take up our jobs for love’s sake, as unto the Lord.  But, you know what? Often these two kinds of books are at odds — those saying to do something, those saying to stop doing stuff; those that highlight the good we’re to be about, those that say our identity is not what we do, but that we should just be. Some try to resolve this dichotomy and talk about balance, but it never seems quite right.

Justin, in a stroke of genius, has figured out how to talk about these aspects of our creatureliness and the image he offers is the sacred stride with the needed posture to live it out well. This, friends, leads to an awareness of our belovedness and a whole lot of sanity.

“A full life in God,” he says, “is found and practices in work and rest.” And somehow, we do them together, not one, for a while and then the other for a bit. You’ll have to read this profound book to see how he explains this striding business, but it’s good. Very good. It is not only brilliant, but fun. Sacred Strides is one of the best books of the year for this sort of basic Christian living writing and, believe me, we need this more than you may even know. Buy a couple and give ’em out and see who else says it was one of their favorite reads of the year!


The Right: The Hundred Year War for American Conservatives Matthew Continetti (Basic Books) $19.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

I could write pages about how much I learned from this excellent historical overview and why I think it is important, regardless of your political leanings. I’ve read a lot trying to figure out how the conservative movement imploded (and how some with conservative principles stood against the Republican Party to resist the very not-conservative Donald Trump.) Continetti is a bona fide conservative, even married into a family of a very respected journalist and thinker on the right. He knows his stuff.

I had little clear idea about the heritage of the right in American history (from one hundred years ago) and this upbeat telling of the tale of the development of varying political philosophies ends up being a page turner. When he gets to the McCarthy years, and the John Birchers and eventually Nixon, and on through Reagan and such, I couldn’t stop reading. Agree or not with his fair-minded in-house critique of his own tribe, The Right is a masterpiece and Continetti is a very, very good writer. This book deserves to be considered as one of the great books of political thinking in our time.


The Kingdom, The Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism Tim Alberta (Harper) $35.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $28.00

This is a big book, reported with exquisite detail, by an author I immediately liked. I had not read his previous American Carnage about the rise and campaign and election of then President Donald Trump. As Alberta tells in the first chapter of this new one — that released mid December, so I’m not even finished with its almost 500 pages yet —he did a press interview for that book on CBN (the Christian Broadcasting Network.) He is himself an evangelical, his father a Gordon-Conwell grad and a respectable, good guy, but he worried what his dad would think with him being so candid about his disapproval of the President’s ethics.

Tim soon found out that his father had died unexpectedly while he was on the air, and within a day Tim was back in Michigan, mourning with his tight-knit, Christian family, at their home church. During the viewing, literally, by the casket, several people wanted to argue with Tim about his political views; he got nasty notes at the viewing, and it got ugly during the funeral. He couldn’t believe how ideological captured these church people were, and he decided to use his training as a political news investigator to explore how it came to be that so many white evangelicals got mixed up in all this despicable stuff. So began years of research and travel, and this excellent, important book.

Although very well known in the mainstream world of political reporting, Tim Alberta has maintained his faith and here he is writing about the religious landscape telling stories and exploring episodes and documenting his passionate insights. It is, in many ways (as the new York times Book Review said about his previous work) a degrading story. It is one we need to continue to follow and of the plethora of books on this very topic, this one is simply essential. Five stars!


Taken By Surprise: The Asbury Revival of 2023 Mark R. Elliott (Seedbed) $18.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.16

Dr. Eilliott is a retired history prof who knows a bit about the history of revivals and God’s renewing movements. Seedbed is an evangelical publisher that has arisen over the years in Asbury, emerging from the good Methodist seminary there and, of course, the college. The town — a very small place, with most of the population affiliated with the college and seminary — is the place which drew international attention last winter when a group of students felt led to stay in the chapel, which became one of the longest ongoing times of worship and praise and confession and renewal certainly in the last 100. Years. Hughes Auditorium became an extraordinary holy space and people flocked from all over the country and students had to figure how to manage the guests, seekers, and fellow worshippers. The inundation of thousands of pilgrims soon turned to tens of thousands. And the kids were alright.

This moving book documents the first sixteen days of round-the-clock, continuous worship and confession and the palpable sense of the nearness of God. The reality of the outpouring of God’s Spirit last February in this very unique way is undeniable and most inexplicable. This book tells the story and it deserve some very special attention; naturally, there are things I’d have wished were addressed but not every book can do everything. As Peter Greig (of 24-7 Prayer International) notes that Taken By Surprise offers “the facts and the essential DNA” of the outpouring. Kudos to Seedbed for releasing this less than a year after the event and doing such a nice job.


Singing the Psalms with My Son: Praying and Parenting for a Healed Planet T. Wilson Dickinson (Cascade) $23.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $18.40

Oh my, this is a beautiful book, tender, honest, humble, and at times kind of funny. Dickinson “weaves meditations on individual Psalms with reflections on life as a parent.”  And therein lies the rub. I bet a number of publishers loved this author’s writing chops and I’m sure many appreciated his profound religious faith. And who doesn’t know that books about eco-theology and a faith response to the climate crisis aren’t timely enough to maybe sell a few? But this? Bible reflections and memoir, parenting and pollution, Psalms and prayer? This is a reader’s delight, a lovely account of life as it is lived — multi-dimensionally, down-to-Earth, messy and playful and real.

As it says on the back,

“We accompany Dickinson and his son as they find the sacred and revolutionary possibility of ordinary activities — like reading children’s books, playing in the backyard, and celebrating holidays. Coupled with guidance for personal and communal use, these meditations invite us to harness the power of parental love and childish wonder to work for a hopeful future.”

I guess you can see why, quirky bookseller that I am, I had to name this as one of our favorite books of last year. Hooray and hooray again!

In Thought, Word, and Seed: Reckonings from a Midwest Farm Tiffany Eberle Kriner (Eerdmans) $19.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

We’ve raved about this in a previous BookNotes so if you were betting on whether this would turn up in this big Best Books list, you win. How could we not list it — it was so luminously rich, so lovely, so well-written and thoughtfully conceived that I had to keep reading. The question is, do we put it under memoir, under agriculture and farming, or in our literary criticism section.

I suppose it is a memoir, the story of a college lit prof and her husband buying some land and learning to care for it, but since it offers exegesis of poetry and glimmers of politics and insights about land use, it isn’t a typical sharing of ones interior life and times. It isn’t Wendell Berry, exactly, and offers not only beautiful nature writing, although you could be forgiven for thinking of Aldo Leopald or Annie Dillard. It is a nicely crafted collection of essays that are intertwined — so maybe it goes with essays.

Theology prof Beth Felker Jones hints at the diverse genres operative here:

Kriner is fearless in her exploration of the difficulty of place and land in a peripatetic and racially scared America. Here are shades of Wendell Berry, Annie Dillard, and Julian of Norwich, but In Thought, Word, and Seed, has, first, a voice all it’s own. Luminous. Audacious. Holy.

Lost & Found: Reflections on Grief, Gratitude, and Happiness Kathryn Schulz (Random House) $19.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.20

While one review declared that the writing in this book is “sublime and compassionate”, Oprah Daily said it “exemplifies the best of what memoir can do.” However, it isn’t a straight memoir, although that is the genre, I guess. As Schulz carefully narrates the story of her grief over the death of her (colorful, beloved) father, and tells the story of her falling in love with the woman who became her partner, she goes for pages —pages and pages — explaining the science and myths about losing things, about the facts and stories about finding things. How curious, and what fun! She writes beautifully about the various sorts of human experiences that make up happiness (and how that figures in to losing and finding things.)  This stuff is captivating, elegant, interesting, and rings true in all the ways that matter most. She writes about her simultaneous experiences of wild joy and terrible grief. Yep, it’s all here.

Again, there is social history and excursions that flow naturally from her narrative into science experiments and literary studies. As a professional writer (for The New Yorker) she knows her way around good prose and, indeed, won a Pulitzer Prize for a previous book. So I recommend this to anyone who just loves endearing writing — not sentimental, even if about love lost and found —and who will glory in her finely tuned and often complex sentences. As it says on the back cover it is a memoir, but also “part guidebook to sustaining wonder and gratitude even in the face of loss and grief.”

She makes it clear in unpretentious and plainspoken ways that she is not a believer. (Her family was Jewish, many killed in the holocaust, and that itself is part of the plot.) Yet she speaks of religion and certainly the quest for spiritual truths throughout in a way that often made me nod. And when she falls in love with a person “whose first and most abiding relationship in life is with Jesus” (which she wouldn’t have supposed “in my wildest imagination”) she takes it in stride, despite their very different cosmologies.

Do you believe in love at first sight? What does that even mean? Do you enjoy those who tackled such questions bit by bit, interviewing gorgeously honest writing and fascinating social science, leveling with fabulous storytelling? This book is a gem. It came out first in 2022 (and won the National Book Award) but we got it when the paperback came out in 2023, so I am naming it as a personal fav here, now, a luminous set of essays on disappearance and discovery.


Zero at the Bone: Fifty Entries Against Despair Christian Wiman (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) $30.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $24.00

I’m not going to lie: we had a good handful of these in the shop but we had more pre-orders than we expected and our small batch was gone the day it arrived. I swear, I didn’t even open the cover. It released officially in early December and the publisher (and every other store in America, I gather) has been out of stock ever since.  We will get more within the week, we are told.  So, nope, I’ve not even touched the thing.

But we’ve long admired Wiman as poet and thinker, memoirist and writer. And all that we’ve read about this impressive new book has led us to believe it is truly one of the great contributions to the literary world published this year. From the interviews and reviews, the endorsements and media conversations, I’m confident that this is important. I’m sure it is excellently crafted and very well-written. I don’t know if I’ll love it, so I’m not listing it as a personal favorite (although I assume it will be.) But I can say this: it is a major release by a leading public intellectual who has spoken clear-headed Christian truth in one way or another. With blurbs on the back from the likes of Marilyn Robinson, you don’t need my hoopla to convince you, now do you? Amazing! I think…

Besides the clever line in the New York Times “editor’s choice” rave, saying Wiman could “charm an atheist out of a tree”, hear this, from The New Yorker:

Wiman is among the most distinguished Christian writers of his generation . . . Now he hopes that his experimental book — part poetry anthology, part memoir, part theological treatise — can help others live . . . The rewards for readers are immense and renewable. Word by word, Wiman resuscitates ancient ideas, from being to spirit, leaving our faces pressed hopefully against the here-and-now window of the poem.


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

There are bunches of shorter, simpler, books about social justice in our faith tradition and for those just starting out something like What Does Justice Look Like and Why Does God Care About It by Judith & Colin McCartney (Herald Press) or Gary Haugen’s IVP classic, Good News about Injustice: A Witness of Courage in a Hurting World, would work well. For a nearly magisterial, large, careful, detailed, comprehensive study, this Biblically-based overview simply cannot be beat. I do not think I have ever seen anything like it.

There has been some pretty dumb push-back in recent years against talk of social justice by Christian people who ought to know better and this study of what the Bible says and means by justice and what that Biblical theme has to do with racism, poverty, political liberty, human rights and such is illuminated beautifully. Rhodes is a Bible scholar and argues that “the Bible offers a vision of justice-oriented discipleship that is critical for the formation of God’s people.” Since justice is central to the Bible and central to the teachings of Jesus it, obviously, not only stands at the heart of Scripture, but in the very heart of God. This book is absolutely extraordinary in its evangelical heart and its undeniable Scriptural clarity.

Do you recall Part One of this Best of 2023 list in which I lauded the recent book by Steven Bouma-Prediger and his Creation Care Discipleship, which shows that care for creation is part and parcel to normal, faithful discipleship? This is like that, although even more rigorous: Rhodes offers this “clarion call” to embody God’s justice in the ordinary things of our daily discipleship. This is a book about formation, indeed, but it needs to make the persuasive case that justice is part of a Biblical world and life view and that working for justice is required by those who hear God’s Word in the Bible. Excellent.

Real World Faith Walter Brueggemann (Fortress Press) $24.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.96

Many a year we have named a Brueggemann book in our annual summary of our favorite reads. There have been a number of Biblical study books released by (and about) Brueggey this year — not to mention his two splendid, little books of prayers (Acting in the Wake: Prayers for Justice and Following Into Risky Obedience: Prayers Along the Journey) so I was stumped to pick a favorite for 2023. Re-visiting them and was struck again and again by the pieces in this collection.  Although it may seem a bit incongruous, Brueggemann has been blogging, and Real World Faith is the first collection of some of his greatest hits on social media these past years.

And what a book it is. It includes lots of short sermons, Biblical studies, cultural explorations, words of rage about the dysfunctions of the economy and expressing horror at the attack upon our very American fabric.

There are three major groupings of pieces here, the first part on the nature of the church and its mission; naturally this is, in his view, deeply related to our work for our neighbor and seeking the shalom of the city in which we live.  The second unit is entitled “Social Pain and Possibility!” (Note that rare exclamation point.) He moves on to another half a dozen essays about “civic membership, responsibility, and failure.”  The next unit are reflections on war and peace. He does some Biblical work in all of these (how can he not) and examines our typical views with how he might think God thinks about all of this.

The final handful of pieces are more occasional, about personal stuff — his cat (and Buber!) — and these are quite beautiful; even in a splendid essay about baseball and sports writing he insinuates much about a good and beautiful Christian understanding.  The last piece “Undeserving in Michigan” is nearly worth the price of the book. His view of a Biblically liberating faith simply is not constrained by the ethos of the empire and this book offers the implications of his prophetic imagination as nicely as any.

By the way, one of the first new books of 2024 is the brand new collection of short Brueggemann blog pieces. It’s remarkable, called The Emancipation of God: Postmarks on Cultural Prophecy, edited by Conrad Kanagy (Fortress; $28.00 – OUR SALE PRICE = $22.40.) Just saying…

Poverty By America Matthew Desmond (Crown) $28.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $22.40

Who among BookNotes readers hasn’t at least heard of Desmond’s masterpiece from several years ago, Evicted, which won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, a National Crisis Circle Award, a Carnegie Medal and more. Its study of homelessness in Minneapolis offering riveting reporting and astute analysis. What a book that was.

This is the long awaited follow-up where Mr. Desmond (a sociology professor at Princeton University) turns his study to the broader question of poverty in America. That he calls the book “by America” is more than an allusive bit of wordsmithing, although he is a good writer. He is making an argument here about systems and structures and policies and the causes of poverty. Like the Bible (see above) he knows that the problem of poor folks isn’t merely that they don’t work hard enough and that often public policy can deepen economic anxiety among the most vulnerable.

This serious book asks what kind of problem poverty is and documents the meaning of it all as well as nearly anything I’ve read lately. There are shades of the concerns of some of our most urgent writers on these themes — from Jonathan Kozol and Ron Sider and the prophet Amos — but he draws most on his academic work and the sociological thinkers who have done the research on the underclass and the working poor and those who have crunched the data. He obviously draws on William Julias Wilson and cites Richard Rothstein and even The Rev. William Barber but mostly the footnotes reveal a hefty plethora of scholars and researchers. And then, yes, almost surprisingly in this data heavy text, there is a beautiful citation from Walter Brueggemann. Like I said, what a book!


The Goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living: Selected Poems by Leslie Anne Bustard Leslie Bustard (Square Halo Books) $12.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $10.39

It isn’t every day that a small town bookseller has a customer and friend who ends up slowly realizing she is a poet and slowly getting published here and there, writing in classy online magazines and ending up on podcasts and doing readings, eventually gaining acclaim from serious artists and world renowned poets (like Malcolm Guite.) Such were the later years of our friend Leslie Bustard and I am fighting back tears as I type, recalling that when I first highlighted this book last winter she was still walking on the Earth. She is alive, now, more than ever (“awakened on Mercy’s shores”) but is gone from us. I am glad that Square Halo Books published this expertly curated collection of some of her best work. Had she not died, I am sure I would be celebrating this book here, anyway. Now I simply must pay tribute. Many writerly folks have endorsed this book, complimenting her good, creative work (and there are several different sorts of poems here, too, making it a real delight.) The wonderful Hannah Anderson did the preface. Kudos.

(The above mentioned little 2023 poetry volume will be enhanced and expanded and re-released as a fuller collection of her work, releasing, we hear, in late February, 2024. It has been edited by Thea Rosenburg, will be soon published by Square Halo Books, and is to be called Tiny Thoughts That I’ve Been Thinking: Selected Writings of Leslie Anne Bustard. $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99. We, of course, are taking pre-orders now. It will be on our list of Best Books of 2024, I promise.)




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 $4.12; 2 lbs would be $4.87. 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 $8.50, if it fits in a flat-rate envelope. Many children’s books and some Bibles are oversized so that might take the next size up which is $9.20. “Priority Mail” gets much more attention than does “Media Mail” and is often just a few days to anywhere in the US.
  • UPS Ground is reliable but varies by weight and distance and may take longer than USPS. Sometimes they are cheaper 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.


Hearts & Minds logo


20% OFF



order here

this takes you to the secure Hearts & Minds order form page
just tell us what you want to order

inquire here

if you have questions or need more information
just ask us what you want to know

Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street  Dallastown  PA  17313

Sadly, as of January 2024 we are still closed for in-store browsing. COVID is not fully over and is truly 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 now 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.