ORDER THE BRAND NEW “More Than Things: A Personalist Ethics for a Throwaway Culture” by Paul Louis Metzger ON SALE NOW

More Than Things: A Personalist Ethics for a Throwaway Culture Paul Louis Metzger (IVP Academic) $48.00 // OUR SALE PRICE = $38.00

We want to invite you to consider this seriously academic treatise; we have it early so you can buy it now at our sale price.


Also, we invite you to join us in a very special on-line celebration of the book and the author that we will offer next month, the afternoon of THURSDAY, August 17, 2023 at 1:00 EST. Stay tuned for future info about how to join (for free) this very special on-line, live-streamed  book launch event.

We will advertise more about this opportunity to meet Dr. Paul Metzger as I interview him about this remarkable new book, but for now, we wanted you to know that Hearts & Minds has More Than Things in stock and we are sending them out at our BookNotes discounted price (a little bit more than 20% off.)  It is a major and necessarily complicated book and I want to tell you a bit about it, and share how honored we feel to be able to promote it — at the shop in Dallastown, PA and here through our mail order biz, and at that upcoming Facebook live-type book event on August 17th.

We have long admired Paul Metzger, a philosopher (with a PhD from the prestigious King’s College, London) and professor of the theology of culture at Multnomah University and Seminary. He also directs the Institute for Cultural Engagement, there, popularly known as “New Wine, New Wineskins.” Hooray for that!

We enthusiastically reviewed and continue to take to events where we are selling books his 2011 release, New Wine Tastings: Theological Essays of Cultural Engagement (Cascade Books; $21.00 – OUR SALE PRICE = $16.80) when it came out because it captured much of our overall theme of cultural engagement, learning how, as Christians, we can be involved in but not absorbed by, our surrounding secularized culture. In that nice collection he explores First Nations issues, questions of finding Christ among the homeless, climate change, and more foundational themes, like resisting the culture wars, not living in a “Christian ghetto”, and a generative chapter called “Toward a Theologically Conservative, Compassionately Liberal Faith.” You can imagine we like it. We are fans of his work.

I do not say this to scare you away, but, well, this new one, More Than Things: A Personalist Ethics for a Throwaway Culture, is fairly expensive and a thick volume. It’s over 450 pages! I don’t often celebrate philosophy books here at BookNotes, even if we have a fairly robust and, I’m told, interesting, philosophy section, with some standard old stuff and personal favorites from Herman Dooyeweerd to Alasdair MacIntyre to Jamie Smith to Esther Meek (see her brand new one, by the way — Doorway to Artistry: Attuning Your Philosophy to Enhance Your Creativity (Cascade Books; $32.00 – OUR SALE PRICE = $25.60.)) But I digress: this new Metzger work is scholarly but not exactly a philosophy book, per se. It’s not standard theology, either: perhaps we can call it applied social ethics rooted in a philosophical public theology. It’s hard to explain, but, man, it’s good. And important.

Ron Cole-Turner of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary raves about it, saying it is “sweeping in scope while precise in detail.” Peter Casarella of Duke Divinity School calls More Than Things “an ecumenical tour de force.” 

We just got our copies into the store, so we’re eager to send them out now. Let me tell you what my study of an advanced manuscript has revealed. And why we’re thrilled to have a good virtual conversation on social media next month that we hope you can join.


Let me try to set the table just a bit so you see what sort of book I’m inviting you to consider and what the program will be like when I host an online conversation with him in a couple of weeks. We hope you will find the event hospitable and tasty and substantial. I know the book is hearty, to say the least.

First; Paul Louis Metzger. We’re not dear friends or old pals, really, but I’ve respected his work for years. He’s admired Hearts & Minds from afar, so we’re honored that he reached out to us to see how we might work together to get the word out about More Than Things.

You see, the book is about the philosophy of personalism, which sounds like a prophetic voice in the modern wilderness, inviting us to resist the trend that, as it is sometimes cleverly put, treats people like things and things like people. Obviously, any serious ethic for our day has to turn that around. We’ve got to undo some of the process of commodification of nearly everything.  Let’s start with why we’re involved with the launch of this important book.

With that personalist perspective, Metzger doesn’t want to just download the data to Amazon or let some faceless corporation generate algorithmic orders with robotic tech filling “units of sales” (as they call books these days) stuffing them carelessly into boxes speeding down the conveyor belt and out to Sunday delivery without a smile or a prayer. I think it is fair to say that Paul truly wants a more humane and gracious sort of selling experience for his baby — that would be the buying experience for you, friend — so here we are, trying to do old-school mail-order with a smile and as much of a personal touch as we can muster.  He knows that for a book promoting a more personal approach to the modern world it makes sense to promote it firstly through businesses he is in relationship with. You can get it at any number of indie bookstores who will care about personalized customer service.

And ain’t that an odd redundancy, “personalized” customer service? For anyone who has been on hold for hours on end waiting for some bureaucratic cog to make something right (or not) we might ask, isn’t that what customer service is supposed to be: personal? In our disembodied, efficient world of Amazon transactions, wouldn’t it be nice to be treated like a human?

This, in a nutshell, speaks of Metzger’s integrity and joy in doing this publishing thing. The marketing departments of the publishers of the world may tell him to go to Amazon first and many authors (even friends) hype the Babylonian captivity of their imagination with exclusive links right to the belly of the beast, but he knows better. And we are grateful; so grateful that we are putting our own money where our mouths are, and getting behind this big study of why in God’s sad world, redemptive healing just might come through a philosophical and strategic shift towards personalism. It’s a long, heavy work, but the point is exemplified plainly. Let’s work at a human scale, resisting what Postman called technopoly, and not treat people like things. We once had a marketing slogan where we invited folks to “come be more than a customer.” I think that’s what we meant, somewhat inefficient as it may be. You can imagine that we are thrilled to champion this book.

Personalism is more, though, than a worldview that values human decency and slow, personal care. It is more than a simple “love your neighbor” approach, although one might reasonably think it is mostly that. But, as philosophical works do, the thesis is teased out and explored, compared and contrasted with other systems, constructs, practices. It is carefully argued with exquisite, exceptional detail.

Dr. Metzger is extraordinary at doing just this and it is one of the reasons More Than Things is not merely a sweet spiritual reminder to be humane and kindly. It is a major ethics text and could be called ground-breaking and pioneering; it certainly is theologically audacious. The book offers a world-shaking paradigm shift, rooted in what might be called a visionary metaphysics. I’m not kidding. He uses the “M” word in the subtitle of chapter two — which is on faith, hope and love, actually — offering “Metaphysical and Methodological Conditions for a Personalist Moral Vision.” Metaphysical and Methodological! Yep, it’s that kind of book. You’re going to have to take it slow.

The book, as they say, gets into the weeds. There are profound and lengthy explorations of the implications of personalism in several areas of life and thinking. For instance, there are hefty chapters that go into fastidious detail explaining the uniqueness that a personalist view would bring to topics such as being consistently pro-life, wondering about our lust for genetic perfection (and the value of imperfect bodies), exploring sexuality and marital pleasure; More Than Things proposes ways that personalism might help us live out an “imperative for equality” in our world of gender inequality. He looks at topics as complex as physician assisted suicide and immigration reform and, in a truly exceptional study, modern warfare, specifically, drone targeting. How does a tenderly-imagined, Christian personalism offer a philosophical compass for thinking about market ideology and creation care and even space exploration? This book will keep you thinking and talking and praying and seeking grace to become people enabled to live out a consistent Christian ethic for a very long time.

Many years ago Metzger wrote a book called Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Decisions in a Consumer Church (Eerdmans; now $27.50 — OUR SPECIAL SALE PRICE – $17.00.) We still have some (at the older price) because we really believed in that book. It had a cool Foreword by then-bohemian, then rather anti-capitalist writer Donald Miller and a strong Afterword by the great, black evangelical leader John Perkins. It made the case that a worldview which enshrines consumer preference will, naturally, erode higher and more important ecclesiastical requirements, keeping us stuck in that situation that Martin Luther King called out when he noted that 10:00 o’clock Sunday morning was America’s most segregated hour.

I do not know anybody who has related our cultural ideology/idolatry of consumerism to racial justice and class issues, let alone grounded it in a robust theology of the church.

Listen to William Storrar then the Director of Princeton’s Center of Theological Inquiry, about Consuming Jesus:

Paul Metzger is a prophetic voice in the American evangelical community. His theological vision of a church consumed by Christ and not by consumerism could not be more timely or helpful. Writing with scholarly depth and human empathy, he exposes the consumerist roots of racial and economic divisions in the body of Christ and shows how faithfulness to the gospel leads to a reconciled evangelical community and witness.

I note this older (and still exceptionally relevant) book to point out that Paul’s early reflections on the ethics of public theology regarding racial diversity and multi-ethnic ministry and class divisions were already, then, pointing to a deeper analysis of the problem and a broader application of Biblical teaching. That book, in retrospect, had the seeds of his stunning racial justice chapter in More Than Things, which, again, is very strong, if scholarly. He explores the use of power, as well (as you might expect) and links his own 21st century ruminations with Dr. MLK’s own personalism. It was King’s preferred philosophical orientation, you know.

Neither King nor other personalists applied this deeply Christian philosophy to so many topics as does the tireless Dr. Metzger. From our throw-away culture that reduces the dignity of the harmed or hurting to our fetish of consumerism that leads to abuse of the creation to our understandings of borders and belonging (you’ve got to read how personalism interrogates meritocracy and offers an ethics of true hospitality for immigrants), from questions about abortion and euthanasia to vegetarianism to questions about the just war theory to our broken modern healthcare systems to genetic engineering and sexual ethics, Metzger takes us on quite a journey.

Interesting enough, More Than Things: A Personalist Ethics for a Throwaway Culture in fact uses the metaphor of a journey. He invites us on the road, and invites us (as we seek flourishing in our pluralistic society) to use the notion of personalism as a compass. Others have used this talk of compasses and true North casually at the start of a book, but for this one, it is serious and nicely helpful. It’s a fairly long and complicated journey and at least this reader needed a steady compass pointing the way. As circuitous as the pilgrimage may be, Metzger is a good guide, offering clear light as we go, step by step, there for the reader, especially at critical junctures.

In his good chapter on creation care, he cites Martin King’s famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and the good line about our “inescapable network of mutuality” which he suggests points to “life as a sacred ecosystem.” He brings in William James Jennings and womanist Delores Williams, in conversation with Moltmann’s God In Creation and Pope Francis’s Laudato Si. I suspect the manuscript was mostly done before the release of Norman Wirzba’s magisterial This Sacred Life: Humanity’s Place in a Wounded World (Cambridge University Press; $28.99 – OUR SALE PRICE = $23.19) and last year’s Agrarian Spirit: Cultivating Faith, Community, and the Land (University of Notre Dame Press; $29.00 – OUR SALE PRICE = $23.20) but I missed the Duke professor and localist farmer as a conversation partner. I gather that Wirzba, even if not quite a personalist, comes close.

This leads to another encouragement to buy this big volume and work with it for a year — it is not (as you might think if you’ve even ever heard of the moral ethic of personalism) the same as anarchism or a pious sort of individualism. It is not unaware that persons are always situated in contexts, shaped by stories and values and embedded in political and economic systems. He serves the poor as Dorothy Day did, it seems clear, but is not opposed to debating public policy and invoking the role of the government, jurisprudence, law, and cultural institutions. There are devout Catholic Workers who, in the spirit of dear Dorothy, want to serve the poor but do not care about government services, do not themselves pay taxes, and are utterly personalistic in a style that evokes the simplicity of Francis of Assisi. This is not the brand of thinking that Metzger is exploring here, even though I kept wondering what Dorothy’s intellectual mentor, the colorful Peter Maurin might have thought. For what it is worth, these are not like his “Easy Essays.” Ha.

I cannot tell you how much I’ve studied this volume and how many lines I’ve underlined. I will note a few random points, which might help you decide if buying this book is worth your time.

I’ll note just three things:


First, much of the first two chapters, which are nearly worth the price of the book, is about the nature of the human; what does it mean we are made in the image of a Triune God? (And why does it seem we’ve lost this truth?) He draws on heavy-weight Christian scholars such as Colin Gunton and Hans Urs von Balthasar and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. While it should be obvious that each human being is unique and full of inherent dignity/worth, so may not be used or abused, it does, indeed, need saying, and saying with rigor. People seem to be MIA, he suggests. Treating people as people is a central, animating notion within personalism, so he circles around to this often, and it is beautiful to behold a serious scholar sharing such a high esteem for humans.

It is not all heady theologians and philosophers, though. He invites us to think of a deeper understanding of the meaning of our God-given human-ness by way of the movies Interstellar and Her. Near the end, in a chapter on the ethics of space exploration Ray Bradbury is discussed next to Michael Gorman and Karl Barth. Who knew Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles has insight about Freud and Darwin? A quote from Neil deGrasse Tyson even brings in Batman v Superman. Paul brings in David Brooks, again, citing his wonderful “Love and Gravity” piece.

There is lots of Biblical study here, too, intensely so, with lots of interaction with interlocutors. In an intentional way this precious and prayerful Christian project takes up the task of being also inter-faith; that is, in our diverse world there is a need to offer a Christian apologetic that works on the world stage and among many worldviews. Without Biblical compromise or theological muddiness, he winsomely offers his call to fidelity to a Biblical personalism in conversation with Buddhist and Muslims, Jews and secularists alike. What a delight to see him explaining how Christian views compare or contrast with notions, like, for example, karma.

It might be noted, again, that another of his previous good works set the stage for this. About a decade ago he did a thick, serious volume called Connecting Christ: How to Discuss Jesus in a World of Diverse Paths; it was published by Thomas Nelson ($16.99 – OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59) and is a key book in our section about interfaith conversation. Yes!


Secondly, to help place Metzger’s work just a bit, it might be helpful to link him to the Roman Catholic sociologist Christian Smith. I think it was Andy Crouch who first alerted me to the central importance of Smith’s foundational text What Is a Person? Rethinking Humanity, Social Life, and the Moral Good from the Person Up (University of Chicago Press; $35.00 – no discount on this one.) Somewhat different than his research based books on young adults or shifts in belief or church-goers public lives, this heady tome lays out a critique of modern sociology. As the publisher put it, “Smith argued that sociology had for too long neglected this fundamental question. Prevailing social theories, he wrote, do not adequately “capture our deep subjective experience as persons, crucial dimensions of the richness of our own lived lives, what thinkers in previous ages might have called our ‘souls’ or ‘hearts.’” Smith followed up that important little volume with the 2015 University of Chicago treatise, To Flourish or Destruct: A Personalist Theory of Human Goods, Motivations, Failure, and Evil ($36.00.)

Anyway, I like that Metzger notes that Smith’s work is such a significant contribution to personalist thought and in some ways builds upon it. You might, too.


Thirdly, I might note that, besides all the footnotes, and the many, many names he engages and either shows their strengths or posits his differing view, there is a certain Biblical clarity about things that matter most — Jesus is the Christ, is preeminent over all thing (Colossians 1:18) and is the savior who not only dies an atoning death, and rises in power, but gives his life for the poor and the marginalized.  And through it all, this clearly Christian scholar models a very up-to-date, teacherly sort of approach to the biggest issues and important thinkers/movements of the day. He invites us to ask why we believe as we do. (About, for instance, polygamy.) “Why do most Americans still largely find extramarital affairs repugnant”, he asks, in the chapter on marriage, wondering if the disfavor “points to the lingering echo of an ancient divine decrees (or are) vestiges of the essential nature of things, created or evolved?”

He studiously cites secular sociobiologists and situation ethicists and neuroscientists, alongside nuanced discussions of Athanasius and John Calvin and Sarah Coakley. I guess I mean to assure you that this is distinctively Christian scholarship par excellence. Agree or not— heck, understand it all or not the work is a remarkable witness, a wondrous model for any scholar wanting to integrate their faith perspective with the philosophical movements and thinkers around them and show how the Christian option can be a cultural blessing. Wow.


I close with a final point: Paul discreetly describes in the forward just a bit about a tragedy in his family; his adult son was in a severe accident, sustaining catastrophic brain injury and is now in need of constant care. Paul speaks to him, and invites others to do likewise, not fully knowing what his son, Christopher, may or may not hear or understand. To minister with such tenderness to a beloved son who cannot not accomplish anything in his current state is a beautiful illustration of the sort of human care that personalism demands. He did not say if this sad event in the life of his family was an impetus for doing the book, if he wrote some of it through tears and gasps, wondering if modern health-care ideologies would make room for honoring the inherent worth of his son in his feeble state. He didn’t really need to, and it is not a testimonial book, but that brief paragraph (and a hint or two elsewhere) remind us how deeply urgent it is to bring an inner reformation to the sciences and a rehabilitation to the practices in various zones of life. From modern warfare to care for the disabled, from immigration policy to attitudes about gender justice, from what we think about abortion to how we honor the hard struggles for racial reconciliation, a personalistic moral framework can help. This is a major ethics text, inviting us to think about the common good, with and for others, in a world that tends to discount and often damage ordinary human people. This stuff really matters.

Even if you think the book is a bit much for your own intellectual capacities these days, do plan to join us for a live-streamed event at 1:00 (Eastern) on Thursday, August 17th for the free event we will host with the help of his publisher, IVP Academic. Stay tuned for more details. We look forward to a good time together — put it on your calendar if you do that sort of thing. We look forward to chatting.




It is very helpful if you tell us how you prefer 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 (who just raised their rates again) 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 about $4.12; 2 lbs would be $4.87.
  • United States Postal Service has another 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. 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 you don’t want the slowest method, do say so. It really helps us serve you well so let us know. Just saying “US Mail” isn’t helpful because there are those two methods, one cheaper but slower, one more costly but quicker. Which do you prefer?


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

We will keep you posted about our future plans… we are eager, but delayed, for now.

We are doing our famous 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 old friends and new customers.

Of course, we’re happy to ship books anywhere. 

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

“God Speaks Science”, “Love Your Mother: 50 Stories, 50 States, 50 Women”, “Following Jesus in a Warming World”, “The Book of Nature” and more – ALL 20% OFF

After the last BookNotes on questions about masculinity and how culture — both the left and the right, among others— often misinterprets/distorts Biblical visions of human personhood, dignity, and gender roles, I got to thinking about how when I was growing up in faith, we who favored a Christian sort of feminism (inspired in the 1970s by organizations like the Evangelical Women’s Caucus) had much work to do to convince brothers and sisters that fair representation in various fields and arenas was a matter of Biblical justice. Many of the young Christians I knew were not much interested in public justice, let alone feminist questions.

It may have been Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen who was the first Biblically-grounded person I read or heard, in Gender and Grace: Love, Work & Parenting in a Changing World, to describe the cultural mandate (the first command given to Adam and Eve) in ways that were not gender-specific, but all-inclusive. That is, what Al Wolters called “the foundational command”of Genesis 1: 26 – 28 about home-making was a call to both Adam and Eve. The part of the mandate about culture-making (and ecological care for creation, particularly if you take the Genesis 2 rendering) was a call to both Adam and Eve. Whoever began to say that men were to enter the world of society and the marketplace to “work” and shape history while women stayed home to “keep house” simply were not being Biblical. It all seems fairly self-evident, now (despite the strikingly odd growth of viciously retro and unbiblical groups like the Gothard’s IBLP described in the Netflix doc “Happy Shiny People” or the “Quiverfull” and Babywise near-cults.)

I don’t know the stats but I suspect there is much more gender equality in the sciences, now, than there was a few decades ago; I’ve met a lot of great young collegiate science majors who are women. And in environmental sciences, too (just think of the popularity of the evangelical climate scientist, Katherine Hayhoe, say, and the remarkably beautiful Refugia Faith: Seeking Hidden Shelters, Ordinary Wonders, and the Healing of the Earth by Debra Rienstra, a must-read in my view.) Nature writers include many, many women like Terry Tempest Williams and Annie Dillard and Kathleen Dean Moore (and so many more.) At BookNotes in the last year we’ve promoted the lovely, well-written book Turning of Days: Lessons from Nature, Season and Spirit by Hannah Anderson (published by Moody Press) and I trust that many know the powerful, serious writer Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of the best-selling phenomenon, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom , Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. These proudly stand alongside classic male nature and natural history writers from Robert MacFarlane to Barry Lopez to J. Drew Lanham, who wrote the nearly luminous The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature.

There are deep and provocative books that make connections, such as the stunning Ecowomanism: African American Women and Earth-Honoring Faiths by Melanie Harris (Orbis; $31.00.) I was at an Earth Day event this Spring and a panelist there (a pastor whose church plant is guided by eco-theology) said it was one of the most important books he has ever read!

I thought I’d list a bunch of books by women and men on somewhat connected themes of creation care and science and hiking and nature appreciation, etc. These are all quite new and we are pleased to introduce you to them. They are stacked up in our Dallastown shop in these already packed-to-overflowing sections. I hope you help us out with this space crisis and buy some!! I’ll be somewhat brief so you can get right to it.

BOOKS CAN BE ORDERED BY CLICKING THE LINK AT THE END OF THE COLUMN. From there you can click either “inquire” or “order” from our secure website order page. We’ll be in touch to reply.

God Speaks Science: What Neurons, Giant Squid, and Supernovae Reveal About Our Creator John Van Sloten (Moody Press) $15.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $12.79

This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite books in recent months, a great read, a true inspiration, and (honestly) a blast. I don’t read that much popular science let alone serious science (except, I’ll admit, some frightening data on long-Covid and research on the dangers in the wastewater) and while I deeply value the “faith and science” conversation — which are exceptionally important, and I hope your church offers some good space for dialogue on the topic —  I am not captured with delight by that many titles in the vast field. Enter my pal John Van Sloten, a pastor and a heck of a writer. The back cover promises that it is “a joy-filled expedition into experiencing God’s majestic, everywhere presence.” God Speaks Science is just what we need.

You may recall his unique book on work called Every Job a Parable: What Walmart Greeters, Nurses, and Astronauts Tell Us about God. In a sense, this new book is like that one: he interviews a variety of (in this case) scientists (women and men, I might add) who describe their work in great one-page side-bars. From their testimony of the particularities of their work —in the fields of DNA repair, forest ecology, oncology, chemistry, neuroscience, geoscience, and such — he develops insights and preaching points, making this nearly a handbook for deep spiritual formation. He is developing not only a great creation-based foundation for the doing of faithful scholarly work in research and science education but he is going a bit deeper; he is finding God there in that work, underscoring the beauty of finding our creator so very near everything from alpha-particles to deep-sea life. “Knees and trees. Songbirds and supernovae.”

To prove his point elevating this missional vision of the role of scientists in God’s work in the world, he offers what he calls — get this – Lectio Scientia exercises, helping us encounter God by pondering the details of various aspects of creational reality. As a few of them are explained with prompts, “Moving from knowing to knowing” and “Making matter matter more” and ‘Increasing your providential awareness.” These nine chapters are rich and interesting, both wildly informative and deeply spiritual. Can we “engage God through all good things?” Is there a “spiritual discipline of scientific knowing?”

Van Sten draws on all the great sources to inform his worldviewish work on this, from Gordon Spkyman’s Reformational Theology to Jurgen Moltmann’s Creator Spirit to John Polkinghorne, the Anglican priest with several degrees in the hard sciences. He pushes Brueggemann’s phrase about a “prophetic imagination” in generative, new ways. He knows his stuff, but writes with a nice touch, insightfully citing interesting Bible verses and ancient theologians alongside science journals and stories of his own friendship with working scientists.

This book is a winner, not academic or dense. It is designed nicely. I suspect you know somebody who would love it. Pass it on!

Theologians have long described Scripture and nature as two books of God’s revelation; now Pastor John Van Sloten digs deep into this truth. He actively reads the two books together, with ‘the Bible shining light on creation and creation bringing deeper understanding to the Scriptures.’ John introduces fascinating examples from many fields of science and medicine and draws thought-provoking parallels to theological truths. He invites us to engage with more than our reason–to ponder God’s creation in our hearts and turn in worship to the Author of it all. — Deb Haarsma, astrophysicist and President of BioLogos

I’ve met some fine scientists who are decent theologians, but there are precious few theologians who are as comfortable with the world of science as John Van Sloten. And if you think Van Sloten’s approach is to simply see the hand of God at work in the natural world, then you’ve seriously underestimated the insight of this ‘rational mystic.’ Rather, Van Sloten looks much deeper and finds nothing less than God Himself within the very center of scientific inquiry, from ecosystems to atomic forces and everything in between. This work challenges the scientist to experience God’s manifest presence in the ‘doing’ of science and opens the eyes of the theologian to be able to read God’s “other” book–the natural world and its holy complexity. — Gregory A. Kline, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine/Endocrinology, University of Calgary

Fen, Bog & Swamp: A Short History of Peatland Destruction and Its Role in the Climate Crisis Annie Proulx (Scribner) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

**Please note: we still have a hardback or two, as well, for 20% off $27.99 (OUR SALE PRICE = $22.39) if you’d rather. Let us know, while supplies last..

Annie Proulx is the sort of writer that one critic called “an irreplaceable American voice.” Born in 1935 she has become an enduring figure in the literary landscape, having been nominated for various awards and having won the Pulitzer Prize. You may know her from Barkskins, The Shipping News, or the short story Broke-Back Mountain.

Proulx is lesser known for her non-fiction but here she has worked her way through often bog-like scholarly literature on the difference between fens and bogs and swamps (you will never confuse them, or casually use the word “marsh”, for that matter, ever again) to make it accessible for us ordinary readers. Indeed, it is interesting and at times fully charming. Besides the natural history of these vital pieces of our literal landscape and other marine estuaries she tells of their current importance and glory and how they are being destroyed. It is a bigger story, in a way, similar to the way that wetlands are under threat, dredged and drained and polluted. This is critical stuff and she makes it fascinating and vital.

And the role these murky, peaty places place in fighting a warming planet. Wow, who knew?

Don’t believe me? Check out these fabulous comments:

An enchanting history of our wetlands… Imbued with the same reverence for nature as Proulx’s fiction, Fen, Bog, and Swamp is both an enchanting work of nature writing and a rousing call to action. — Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire

Proulx’s astute and impassioned examinations of all kinds of wetlands, including estuaries, show a new side of the novelist we thought we knew. — Bethanne Patrick, Los Angeles Times

A fierce declaration of peat’s importance to climate stability and human survival. Proulx does not imagine she can plug the holes in the peatlands, but she is determined to plug the peatland-size hole in our histories. —The New York Review of Books

Love Your Mother: 50 States, 50 Stories, and 50 Women United for Climate Justice Mallory McDuff (Broadleaf) $26.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59

To describe this well I’d have to summarize all fifty women — activists, scientists, writers, students, farmers and lots more — who are leading in varied ways to achieve climate justice. One woman is listed for each state and that itself is fun; they are grouped by geographic region. It describes each woman, explains her role in local organizing or bearing witness in her particular state, and offers examples of their many struggles and successes.  The bios are short, but captivating. There are women of many races and ethnic backgrounds, different faiths, and styles of living into their sense of urgency around ecological care. It is, as one reviewer put it, “a mighty collection, a great read for anyone who cares deeply to care about Earth and community.” And it shows a lot of different ways to do that.

Women have always been involved in this work. As Bill McKibben says, praising these remarkable testimonies, “if we have a fighting chance of coming through these decades, it’s because of them.” Once you start reading, it will be hard to stop, believe me. What a great handbook of inspiration and hope.

Through vivid, thoughtful storytelling, McDuff’s profiles emphasize a timely truth: climate leadership isn’t a monolith. Matriarchs, farmers, writers, rebels, scientists, doctors, innovators, influencers, teachers–all of us, in short–have a home in this movement, if we choose to seek it. — Georgia Wright, co-creator of the podcast Inherited

Guardians of the Trees: A Journey of Hope Through Healing the Planet Kinari Webb, MD (Flatiron Books) $18.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

This isn’t brand new, although the paperback edition is fairly recent. I just discovered this gem thanks to it being a reading club book among our new friends up at Bayview in Petoskey, MI. (Did you see my sermon on Colossians 1 and the significance of curiosity and reading that I shared in a previous BookNotes, delivered there?) Since the Bayview community is reading this together I naturally picked it up. And what a book! What a wild and thrilling book!

The story isn’t told linearly but it unfolds artfully and with amazing reporting of this woman’s extraordinary work. She and the man who is now her husband have started a series of clinics for indigenous people on several of the islands in Borneo. He is a science researcher and through her med school (Yale) and his post-doc work (Harvard), they ended up returning to this place they served in college, awestruck by the beauty of these rural islands in the south Pacific. Not only, though, were they struck by the land and sea and by the communal processes and goodness of the local people but they were heartbroken by the rainforest destruction they witnessed. It was bad.

The clinics they offered invited folks to free or low cost care if they’d get out of the logging business. Many worked for rapacious corporations in dangerous logging or burning jobs in order to earn enough to pay for expensive health care. It seemed like a win-win, although it is not easy coming up against the powers of greed and technology and progress. Yet, she understood the bigger-picture ecological importance of saving the ecology of this incredible land and worked with the locals to find innovative solutions to their own health care needs and getting away from the gross destructive work ruining their own homelands. A lot goes down in the process.

There is a chapter when she goes to help offer medical assistance among the large international teams that were first responders to the devastation of the massive tsunami on Christmas Day of 2005. Date-lined Sukudana in West Kalimantan, she was astonished to see how little “radical listening” (as she practiced it in her own work) the big agencies attempted, even as each jostled for control of the relief efforts. Sigh…

In a terrifyingly riveting chapter she almost died from a rare box jellyfish sting which caused her to return to the States and spend four full years fighting for her life. The crisis, and some marital anguish, precipitated her rethinking everything — including her serious religious agnosticism.

Dr. Kinari, as the indigenous people call her in Borneo, is now still at it, working on several global projects fighting climate change and she is doing extraordinary medical care in a manner that thoughtful Christian medical missionaries do. She is expanding her work from local to a more global scale. She has told parts of her story all her the world and is friends with luminaries like Dr Jane Goodall. This is a book that is hard to put down as you follow this courageous, relentless woman on her journey to make a big difference. Her chapter on hope is hard-earned and well worth reading.

The Book of Nature: The Astonishing Beauty of God’s First Sacred Text Barbara Mahany (Broadleaf Books) $27.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $22.39

This is a wonderful book, beautifully written, thoughtful, literary, and capacious in a generous sort of faith. She notes that we “live within a nautilus of prayer — if only we would open our senses and perceive what is infused all around.”

Listen to this description by Scott Weidensaul, author of World on the Wing. He writes:

Barbara Mahany’s The Book of Nature is a deeply rich celebration of the ageless overlap between religion and the many faces of the natural world — the ‘Book of Nature’ to which mystics, monks, and others have turned for insight into the sacred. Best of all, this thought-provoking exploration is wrapped in Mahany’s luscious and luminous writing, which makes every page a delight.

We’ve appreciated Barbara Mahany’s good prose and gracious spirituality in other books she has written; perhaps you know her popular and beautiful Motherprayer, released by Abingdon Press a few years back. In 2014 she did a lovely book called Slowing Time: Seeing the Sacred Outside Your Kitchen Door which hinted at her love of nature and her wisdom about the spirituality of the ordinary. Nearly twenty years later she has deepened this passion and learned so much which she gently shares in this new one.

The Book of Nature, though, is richer and deeper and perhaps more broad theologically than her previous ones. There are rave blurbs on the back by the poet Padraig O’Tuama and Rabbi Rami Shapiro. Bill McKibben says it offers “lovely and smart reflections. — the perfect book to slip into a rucksack on a day you’re planning a wander through the larger world.”

You can get a glimpse of the literary style by noting the section titles. There are several chapters in each, starting with The Earthly (including ruminations on Garden, Woods, Water’s edge, and Earth’s turning), The Liminal (including Birds, Gentle Rain, Thrashing Storm, First Snow) and what she calls The Heavenly (with chapters called Dawn, Dusk, Stars, and Moon.) After each there is a “litany of astonishments.” Just beautiful.

There is a great bit of introductory stuff, and a beautifully done “bookshelf of wonder” at the end which you’ll have to take with you to the library the next time you’ve got a good while to browse. It is a spectacularly annotated bibliography of books that have moved her, explaining why she likes each one.

Mahany ends with a long epilogue simply called  “Lamentations for the Book of Nature” that starts with the famous line by Wendell Berry saying, “There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.” This is a moving, beautiful book.

Before the Streetlights Come On: Black America’s Urgent Call for Climate Solutions Heather McTeer Toney (Broadleaf) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

Oh my, what a book, important, beautiful, rare. It is urgent on many levels and we are honored to carry it. We featured it at a Climate Change Summit earlier in the year and a few folks were glad to see it. I’ve been wanting to tell you about it here.

The short version is simple, even if the topic is complex and painful: neighborhoods mostly inhabited by people of color have been the recipients of a racist sort of environmental abuse for years and there is, like the facts about redlining, say, no doubt about our need for some kind of reckoning about this vile legacy. (It is, as David Axelrod put it, “a shameful history.”) Poor neighborhoods are grounds for (often illegal) toxic dumping, lax enforcement of pollution regulations, defaced standards of water and air quality and more. This large call to name the sins of environmental racism is some of the backstory of this book, but — to be clear — it is not mostly or only about that. It is, rather, a practical and accessible book to guide us towards climate action in and for and with marginalized communities. It invites the broader environmental movement to be aware of the need for multicultural leadership, inviting readers who come from such communities to get fired up.

(Did you know, by the way, that Latino/a and black citizens are the most likely to express concern about climate change? Statistic after statistic in recent years have indicated that, challenging the old image of white hippies and tree huggers. For every Greta Thunberg or Bill McKibben there is a Heather McTeer Toney or Mustafa Santiago Ali, of the National Wildlife Association.)

Tamara Toles O’Loughlin is a black national climate strategist and founder of Climate Critical Earth. She says, “Now is a time for deeper and more diverse public thought about climate and environment. Heather McTeer Toney is taking up the challenge” And so should we all, at least by learning what this book has to offer. It will be valuable for you, I’m sure.

Climate change affects all of us, but it doesn’t affect us equally. All too often, those most affected are already overwhelmed by the cascading impacts of inequity and injustice. Drawing from her vivid life experiences and wealth of knowledge, Heather McTeer Toney sounds a clarion call for immediate climate action in and for marginalized communities. Why? Because if we don’t fix climate change, we can’t fix anything else. — Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, climate scientist and author of Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World

Following Jesus in a Warming World: A Christian Call to Climate Action Kyle Meyaard-Schaap (IVP) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

When I look at our many, many faith-based books on ecological care and highlight my favorites, particularly those of evangelical orientation and serious Biblical fidelity, there are plenty. Some of the best books on creation care these past decades have been by thoughtful evangelicals — they are inspiring, Biblically-based, clear-headed and persuasive. This short, recent one is among the best. I’ve mentioned it here before but can hardly say enough about it.

One of the cool features of Following Jesus in a Warming World is that it emerged from Meyaard-Schaap’s work as a leader in the national movement of Young Evangelicals for Climate Action. (He has spoken on CNN, PBS, NPR, NBC News, and written for U.S. News and World Report.) That organization, created largely of younger evangelical folks, made significant headway in helping [some of] the mainstream media learn that much of evangelicalism is a different faith thing than the right-wing fundamentalism that idolizes Trump and is taken with the odd values of the Q-Anon and MAGA movement. The Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, are largely nonpartisan, trying to honor Jesus and are eager to get stuff done by adhering to faithful civic principles. They worked hard to focus those who were apathetic or cynical towards real activism, especially among religious youth.

Meyaard-Schaap now is the Vice President of the respected Evangelical Environmental Network and in this book he brings us up to date on the latest Biblical and theological reflections on the vocation of creation care and, through stories from the field, tells of how to discover real hope and meaningful action. In fact, he thinks that story-shaping is part of our best calling, since humans live by stories. (Remember Nourishing Narratives by Jennifer Holberg that I reviewed a while back? Or the profound You Are What You Love by Jamie Smith? I gather he digs this kind of stuff. Plus, he cites the fabulous Stephen Bouma-Prediger’s Earthkeeping and Character: Exploring a Christian Ecological Virtue Ethic.) I’m a fan.

Kyle notes, clearly, that we need not be guided by a sense of guilt or drudgery but by the joy of a discipleship that includes caring for creation. There’s a story there. I highly recommend it.

This is a marvelously engaging book about overwhelmingly urgent matters. Kyle Meyaard-Schaap is convinced that we are formed by stories in how we understand reality, and he urges us to approach climate change action in the light of the gospel’s Big Story. I pray that many will be moved to climate advocacy by the compelling personal stories that Meyaard-Schaap tells in making his case. — Richard Mouw, senior research fellow at Calvin University’s Henry Institute for the Study of Religion and Politics, author of How to Be a Patriotic Christian: Love of Country as Love of Neighbor

While fellow Christians remain apathetic or dismissive, Christians concerned about the climate crisis can feel they are walking a lonely journey. For these lonely journeyers, Kyle Meyaard-Schaap is a patient, trustworthy, experienced encourager. His irresistible passion calls us back from deceptive narratives into the real story of God’s redemptive love for all creation. This book is a deeply scriptural call to advocacy for people and planet as both moral necessity and spiritual discipline. What a gift! Finally, Christians can take courage and hand this book to others, saying, ‘This. Read this.’ — Debra Rienstra, professor of English at Calvin University and author of Refugia Faith: Seeking Hidden Shelters, Ordinary Wonders, and the Healing of the Earth

Christians can take courage and hand this book to others, saying, ‘This. Read this.’ — Debra Rienstra


Ordinary Splendor: Living in God’s Creation Lydia Jaeger (Lexham Press) $18.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

I suppose for those longing for the luminous prose of the likes of Barbara Mahany, this may seem a bit, well, prosaic. It is not nearly as charming as it might be but what it misses in loveliness it makes up in excellent theological integrity and Biblical brilliance. In this sense, this is a truly excellent book and one we are happy to recommend.

Lydia Jaeger received her PhD from the Sorbonne, the world famous university in France. She is now the academic dean at Cogent Bible Institute (also in France) and has written academic works, one, for instance, relating Einstein and Michael Polanyi. Okay, then.

An academic work that preceded this one was on the faith and science discussions, entitled  What the Heavens Declare: Science in Light of Creation (Cascade; $29.00) which was a detailed analysis of a theistic approach to the scientific task.

Here is how that one is described:

“As the author explains, despite the common use of the expression “laws of nature” by both scientists and laymen, there is a long-standing tradition of philosophical debate about, and even refusal of, the notion that laws of nature might exist independently of a divine or human mind. This work attempts to account for natural order in harmony with the religious worldview that significantly contributed to the original context in which modern science began: the world seen as the creation of the triune God.”

As you can see from that description of her previous project she is a Biblically-influenced, serious-minded philosopher; she presents the doctrine of creation “in all its practical necessity.”

In this new one, Ordinary Splendor, she “unfolds the majesty of God’s creative work and explores how it shapes and informs everything — from our relationships and the way we pray to how we think about human dignity.”

There is a solid array of Biblical creation passages that provide wisdom for our daily lives, so I suppose this is not exactly about the beauty of the Earth or even about caring for creation. But it is an exceptional bit of useful scholarship reminding us of the implications that we live in a created world. Ordinary Splendor: Living in God’s Creation by Lydia Jaeger is going to be very helpful for those sorting through the Scriptures and looking for a foundation for living in the world God so loves.

Loving Creation: The Task of the Moral Life Gary Chartier (Fortress Press) $39.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $31.20

If the poetic and passionate writers colorfully tell us of their love for nature, and the orderly scholar, like professor Jaeger, carefully tells us of the Scripture’s consistent proclamation of the notion that the cosmos is made and upheld by the Triune God, then, what? Loving Creation by Dr. Gary Chartier (who is also a legal scholar and teacher of business ethics) is a serious, modern, theological voice attempting to answer that in the cadences of love. It is a “theological ethic rooted in love and focused on flourishing.”

I have not read this yet but it looks mature, serious-minded, a bona-fide theological project. Yet, it is said to be a tour de amour in ethics. Theologian and thinker Thomas Jay Oord says of it, that “by taking creation — not just humans or God — as the focus,” Loving Creation “offers an appealing exploration of well-being in our time. Highly recommended.”

This study assumes the centrality of being alive in God’s cosmos but it is not only about care for creation or concern about climate change, pollution and such. Rather, it probes topics as diverse as war and peace and sexuality and church conflict. My, my. As the renowned Boston College scholar Lisa Sowle Cahill puts it, it is “comprehensive and fair-minded” and a “wonderful springboard for theological discussion and learning!”

American Ramble: A Walk of Memory and Renewal Neil King, Jr. (Mariner) $32.50  OUR SALE PRICE = $26.00

While this isn’t primarily a hiking book designed to take us into the beauty of the wild, it is a beautifully-written work — what brilliant documentarian Ken Burns has called “a near-perfect book” — and has some lovely nature scenes. The author is deeply aware of the mysteries of the universe that surround him as he travels and he meets several overtly Christian groups and people along the way. One tells him of the importance of Romans 12:1 and some Mennonite high schoolers sing hymns for him.

Ken Burns, again, puts it well:

It’s not just a geographical journey, full of keen observations and thoughtful insights, but also a spiritual one, finding in our complex and sometimes contradictory landscape a mirror in which King’s own inner life awakens as he wanders. Amazing.

Here is what is also really interesting about this volume (that surely deserves a longer review in another BookNotes): by walking the 330 mile trek from Washington DC to New York City, King comes through our area, crossing over the Mason Dixon Line just south of us here in Dallastown, hanging out in Hanover Junction (where Lincoln famously stopped on his way to deliver the Gettysburg Address, and where his funeral train passed through a bit more than a year later.) King spends a day in York, meeting some friends of ours (including the extraordinary former newspaperman and now local historian and churchman, Jim McLure) as he explains much about the important history of York. King makes his way across the Susquehanna River and is notably moved; it’s a very cool portion, an important passage for him and, he notes, very significant in the imagination of early American history. Indeed, the Susquehanna — perhaps one of the very oldest rivers in the world — is more important than some know. Anyway, it’s a great read for anyone, but certainly for those of us in central PA.

He moves across the river and comes to meet Mennonite folk in Lancaster County. Hang on; sooner enough he is in a rare building near Philly doing some extraordinary night-sky gazing with Quakers. What a story.

One reviewer notes that it is a “beguiling journey of forgotten history and unsuspected delights.” (One of the unsuspected delights, it seems, is King’s appreciation of ordinary, rural Americans who are almost (almost!) endlessly helpful. Experiences of common ground seem almost viable while reading his stories and it gives me some down-to-Earth hope.) It is interesting how helpful people are, including those who heard there was some guy walking to New York; not only do people want help in simple ways, some want to talk .And talk they do.

Louis Bayard, who wrote Jackie and Me and The Pale Blue Eye says that King “takes his place in a distinguished travelogue lineage stretching back to Thoreau but, from the start, manages to stake out his own hard-won terrain.”  That is, he has some sort of an agenda, here, glorying in olden ways, discovering something about our land, our people, our heritage.

American Ramble is a warm-hearted story and loaded with lots of colorful folk. It is a different story than one I reviewed here a month or more ago, Where the Waves Turn Back: A Forty-Day Pilgrimage Along the California Coast by singer-songwriter Tyson Motsenbocker ($27.00 – OUR SALE PRICE = $21.60) but it bears reminding you of that terrific, haunting book. Tyson is younger, struggling with questions of evangelical faith, the death of his mother, and, importantly, is hiking not on the East Coast, like King is — encountering Washington’s Crossing, for instance — but is on the West Coast, trekking the old  “El Camino Real,” a 600-mile pilgrimage route up the California coast. I loved that book a lot; I love that guy. As Tyson moves towers the towering cliffs of Big Sur and up to San Francisco he connects with artists and songwriters and hobos and fellow California hikers, each shaping a bit of his own journey towards deeper self discovery.

Neil King is an older gentleman, coping with a life-threatening cancer diagnosis and some serious Covid symptoms, and is longing to find a better America, learning about colonial era stuff. He’s walking through Pennsylvania rural land and into north Jersey, eventually finding “rapture on the Bayonne bridge” into New York. Tyson grew ecstatic seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, naturally; it’s fun to compare the two hikers and writers, one a singer-songwriter, the other a former cabbie and world-class journalist.

As Mr. King puts it, the journey started as a whim and soon became an obsession. Neil King, Jr. is a very gifted writer who helped the Wall Street Journal win a Pulitzer Prize for its 9-11 coverage; he has a reporter’s style of being unafraid to snoop around and get the local scoop. Besides some lovely nature writing and fascinating hiking stuff, he does, indeed, get the scoop. It makes for a wonderful read and a very enchanting book. Enjoy!




It is very helpful if you tell us how you prefer 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 (who just raised their rates again) 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 about $4.12; 2 lbs would be $4.87.
  • United States Postal Service has another 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. 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. Just saying “US Mail” isn’t helpful because there are those two methods, one cheaper but slower, one more costly but quicker. Which do you prefer?


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

We will keep you posted about our future plans… we are eager, but delayed, for now.

We are doing our famous 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 old friends and new customers.

Of course, we’re happy to ship books anywhere. 

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

“The Toxic War on Masculinity” by Nancy Pearcey and “Non-Toxic Masculinity: Recovering Healthy Male Sexuality” by Zachary Wagner and more – 20% OFF

It was the early 1970s and I was trying to be a gentleman, a Christ-like guy, a good person. I had quit the football team in junior high because I didn’t like the vulgar, pushy ways of our macho coach who taught us how to hurt opposing players. I had left a social club when I heard they wouldn’t accept blacks, even though I had not met any black people at that point in my life. I knew God loved me, I knew Christ died for me, I knew I was forgiven and that the Holy Spirit somehow would help us live in God’s ways, not our own. I knew enough, through God’s grace, to know that that meant we had to somehow live in a way different from the culture around us.

(By the way, this was years before I came across Os Guinness’s brilliant book The Dust of Death which critiqued both the alienating, technocratic, middle-class culture and the idealistic, lefty counter-culture, but I intuited that somehow my hippy friends were right to reject the mainstream culture, not wanting to “dream the wrong dreams” as Death of a Salesman put it, even though they had few sturdy principles for a better world.)

For me, the culture that I imbibed was a fairly generic sort of civil religion in a mostly white, conservative town. A hippy pal who I listened to records with cajoled me to smoke pot with him, but I refrained. A lovely girl at church camp wanted, um, to go farther than I thought we should. I tried to live for Christ although didn’t know much of what that meant or looked like, as the kids say today. I know I hurt some people along the way which I think about, still.

With the war in Vietnam still raging and me approaching draft age I was struggling with the apparently radical notion of taking seriously Jesus’s words about nonviolence and Paul’s words about “overcoming evil with good” and what it mean to embrace that Kingdom dream of “beating swords into plowshares.” I took Jesus at his word and believed that peacemakers would be blessed. Nobody I knew seemed to think about such things and I felt weird, if a bit self-righteous.

Upon applying for conscientious objector status (with the proud approval of my dad, a WWII vet, and the support of my older brother, a US Army commissioned officer) I became an official, card-carrying C.O. Or, as we were called in those days, a peacenik.

Here’s the point of my story. Over and over, those who disapproved assaulted my patriotism, (which I expected) and, in a move I hadn’t seen coming, they assaulted my manhood. Being unwilling to bomb and burn and kill because I took the Bible seriously was considered being a sissy. I had thought there would be discussions about war in the Bible, about Jesus, about “love, love, love, love, the gospel in a word is love” as we sang around the church camp campfire. Nope. It was: why was I afraid, why was I a sis, why didn’t I grow a pair, why didn’t I be a man? A real man.

The rightness or wrongness of Biblical nonviolence I’ll let go for another day (although, if you are interested, one of my favorite books is If Jesus Is Lord: Loving Our Enemies in an Age of Violence by the late, great, Ron Sider, or the abridged and shorter version, Speak Your Peace: What the Bible Says about Loving Our Enemies.) But this question of the nature of valor and honor and courage and fighting and strength and masculinity continued to be raised. (Quoting Zechariah 4:6 “Not by power, not by might, but by my Spirit saith the Lord,” was a favorite retort, which frankly never moved the needle much on that conversation.)

I hadn’t read any books about it, but I believed strongly that the macho-guy, tough stuff, telling us that “big boys don’t cry”and that true men had to be violent was hogwash. I heard some of the rape jokes used in boot camp training cadences and was repulsed. When a friend later gave me an early book about “men’s liberation” in solidarity with the feminist concerns of the day, it rang true, even if he didn’t cite Jesus as his role model. Even then, I knew that there was something hurtful to men and women when men act poorly, ogling and objectifying women and valorizing and glorifying violence.

Below are five recent books that I very highly recommend — for men and women. The topic is about what has come to be called toxic masculinity. Whether that is a helpful phrase or not, these books offer a critical discussion of what Christians might think and do regarding the allegations that many men are caught in an ideology that seems to justify privilege and power and sometimes even violence.

Given the insights of the #metoo and #churchtoo movements, obviously, these are very, very important matters. As I imply from starting these reviews with the episodes of having my own masculinity questioned over filing for conscientious objector status (and trying to be somewhat gentlemanly around the girls I was with) I suggest that these issues have been with me for most of my adult life. Beth and I are still trying to figure it all out.

(I won’t discuss it now, but the most formative book on this topic for us was the1990 release by Mary Stewart Van Leuween, Gender & Grace: Love, Work & Parenting in a Changing World. She included a line or two about us in her 2002 book, My Brother’s Keeper: What the Social Sciences Do (and Don’t) Tell Us about Masculinity, and both books remain seminal titles in our section on gender roles here in the shop.)

Here are four new ones, with different angles and styles. These books can help, no matter your age or gender.


The Toxic War On Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes Nancy Pearcey (Baker) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

I wish I had time and energy to do an even more detailed study of this extraordinary book. It is quite good, even if sometimes the tone might not appeal to some readers; geesh, endorsements from mostly right-wing types on the back cover will make it unappealing to some. But you should overlook that marketing mishap. She is astute and articulate and analytical; she cites lots of surveys and sociological data, with a big-picture approach to apologetics and cultural criticism. She knows remarkable stuff about history, both the history of ideas and the lived reality on the ground, from the days of the Roman Empire to seemingly last week’s news. I like that a lot and it is a helpful gift from an important writer. You should read her book.

(To be sure, all historical tellings and even the citation of data are always colored and framed by the teller; for instance, she cites Dr. Bradford Wilcox, an important, respected scholar (we’ve long carried his University of Chicago release Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands) whose data shows that conservative evangelicals — those who live their faith and are active in church, that is — have less domestic violence and divorce than anyone, anywhere; why don’t we hear that, Pearcey properly asks? Curiously, though, in another book (see below) the same researcher is cited to show somewhat different realities. Perhaps it is different data sets that are being cited by the two authors? Two interpretations of his data? I’m not sure…)

Professor Pearcey covers lots of Biblical texts, starting with a fabulous, brief overview of the narrative plot of the Bible — creation/fall/redemption —  and how that offers a grid through which to understand everything. She stands firmly on the shoulders of mentors like Francis and Edith Schaeffer whose clear-headed arguments years ago showed the brilliant young Nancy that Christianity was reasonable, compelling, true, and, yes, therefore, life-enhancing. The warmth with which the Schaeffer’s made their arguments for true truth helped win over many a hurting young adult in the years they ran L’Abri in the Swiss alps and their capacity to host the honest questions of even the most skeptical participant in the 60s counterculture was just what Pearcey needed. If anyone can claim the mantle of Schaeffer today, I think it is Nancy Pearcey.

She tells some of that story briefly, here, pointing in the footnotes to a more full account found in her award-winning magnum opus Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity. She is unapologetic in using the language of a Christian worldview. [Some of those, you may have heard, who popularized that word decades ago are reluctant to use it, now, since it has, in some circles, been seen as having been co-opted by the alt-right; just think of Marjorie Taylor Green using the “Christian worldview” phrase in her untenable, dominionist way or other dangerous public figures involved with 7M and the like, saying what *the* Christian worldview is.]

Nonetheless, Nancy is fearless, continuing to remind us that a comprehensive, theologically sound Christian perspective on all of life is needed lest we fall for the various ideologies and pressures from the secularized culture. (Think of Romans 12:1-2.) Her previous book, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality, engaged (among other things) the conservative Catholic tradition of natural law and what Pope John Paul II called “the theology of the body” which, of course, put her on a collision course with the LGTBQ community and others who are criticized by, for instance, Carl Trueman, in his powerhouse, if polarizing, work, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution. She is not unfamiliar with these sorts of culture warriors and is popular among some on the far right — think Eric Metaxas or Jay Richards at the Heritage Foundation or the podcaster Allie Beth Stuckey — but yet, in this stunning book, she offers a view that, it seems to me, actually transcends ideologies of the left or right. Good for her!

There may be a war on Godly masculinity and in her view, it arises less from the PC, deconstructing left but from more subtle and mainstream forces of sin, given particular dominance in social trends such as industrialization, certain sorts of capitalism, Victorianism, and even revivalism. This is the “secular script” that too often nominal Christians have adopted and which we are called to resist. It’s not men and masculinity that is the problem, but the toxic and secularized worldview that offers a rugged, domineering script for men to follow. And follow it, they do, sometimes with help from their churches. The biggest problem, as she shows in Total Truth, is the “cultural captivity” of the church and the subsequent watering down of the robustly full-orbed gospel. As she often points out, one of the reasons the church has failed to think faithfully about all of life, and therefore has created the possibility for the “cultural captivity” of the church, is because of the heresy of gnosticism. Brilliant!

Pearcey deserves to be read because she is a very thoughtful writer and is accomplished in so many fields, educated in so many topics. Her first book, still in print, is on Christian influences in the history of the philosophy of science and mathematics and is one I still often recommend. She led Chuck Colson’s “Worldview” radio work decades ago and wrote for Breakpoint, even co-authoring a book with Colson on the notion of a Christian approach to all of life, rejecting the dualisms of private faith and public values.

In those years when she was becoming known as a public intellectual and thinker in her own right she drew on scholars such as Herman Dooyeweerd, Lesslie Newbigin, and Michael Polanyi to expose the deep dichotomies that many people live into, that are deeply assumed in their social imaginations. In her studies of science, art, and sexuality, she has shown what Schaeffer taught her about that old split between the upper vs lower story in our thinking, which translates into tensions and dichotomies — personal vs public, faith vs reason, and sacred vs secular, deforming how we think about nearly everything. How can we think of a truthful way of living in the world about anything if faith is necessarily bracketed out to some mysterious “religious” realm or only good for Sunday Christians? She is arguing for a thought-out, practical metaphysics that relates faith to all of life.

What is so very interesting (and makes for a happily enlightening reading experience) about The Toxic War on Masculinity is how she uses social history to tell the story. I know some people would rather just hear preachments on the facts, but she is wise to build a case showing how deformities in our views of things (in this case, about the meaning of gender and the roles of men and women) emerged, often coupled with technological changes and historical shifts. Just think of how industrialization increasingly brought men into factories and away from their families and the subsequent rise of the Victorian era’s views of domesticity. (By the way, the forthcoming Karen Swallow Prior book that we highlighted in the previous BookNotes offering a history of the rise of evangelicals in the 1700s, 1800s, and 1900s, tracks nicely with Ms. Pearcey’s work and I’m glad I read the two books back to back. You should pre-order that now if you haven’t.)

Pearcey is applying her keen eye for a curious sociological fact and a wild historical detail — even showing etchings or paintings and old fashioned book covers — to illustrate huge changes in the way people thought and thereby lived. Or lived and so thought. (Ahh, the old chicken and the egg question, eh?) She is adamant that the tough-guy, macho-man stuff is not what it means to be a good or Biblically faithful man, even though it is what many think to be a “real” man. She plays on that contrast — the real man vs the good man. Knowing how we got in this mess of what constitutes a “real” man is vital. Given the abuse and sorrow caused by toxic men, it is urgent and a matter of deep lament.

And here’s her plea: we ought not confuse what a “real” man is with what a “good” man is. (Her early explanation of the large, cross-cultural study on this exact matter by Michael Kimmel is quite clarifying.) We need to know how masculinity got so toxic, and insist — in our homes, our churches, and in the public square, she would say — that the toxic version is not the real deal. It is a counterfeit sort of distortion, played out when men and women adopt the secularized script from our post-Christian culture. She is about centering the life-changing power of the gospel and offering a Christian worldview that would make sense of our genders and our sexuality, without adopting goofy gender roles that come more from the culture (from John Wayne, we might say) than from the Bible.

I’ve spoken out about these things often — remember my opening story — so I suppose I should not be surprised that she quotes me a time or two in the book, from an old BookNotes piece where I railed creatively against the super-macho, unbiblical weirdness of the book Wild at Heart. Nancy, you see, wants to reform our churches and public attitudes by recovering a proper view of healthy masculinity but not like that, what with all the foibles of Eldridge’s bad theology and dumb stereotypes. In fact, she has a section pondering the lasting wisdom of churches holding stereotypical men’s events to somehow attract and sustain their men’s ministry (like a church that holds “Fight Clubs” and another that raffles off AK-15s and yet another that had “Cage Fighting” in the sanctuary.) Her exploration of the rise of “muscular Christianity” is great, from the rise of the YMCAs in the 1840s through the “hard-muscled, pick-axed religion” of baseball star turned evangelist, Billy Sunday (as opposed to what Sunday called a “dainty, sissified lily-livered piety.”) The “ultimate symbol of female debauchery” for the fundamentalists of the 1920s became the flappers, she points out, as women became a scapegoat for many social ills. Moody Bible institute, who initially called women to brave and heroic service in the mission field (and elsewhere) by the middle of the 20th century were mostly offering cooking and homemaking classes for the ladies and calling on Godly men to “suppress your wife’s ambition.” Nancy may be a theologically and socially conservative in many ways, but she exposes this claptrap for what it is.

Importantly, by the middle of and later into the 20th century, evangelicals had differentiated themselves from fundamentalists and rejected the “muscular Christianity” ideal. But, still, she observes, “most evangelical churches are puzzled over how to minister effectively to men. The typical US congregation remains unbalanced, with roughly 60 percent female and 40 percent male. The conundrum of how churches can attract men has not been resolved.”

As I read the book twice (once in an earlier manuscript draft galley and once again when the nice hardback arrived) I was somewhat wary. I disagree with some of her views in her previous books and wish she would offer a better nod to the complexity of Biblical interpretation around hot topics such as LGTBQ inclusion and gender justice. Although it is not her fault, some that have endorsed her books are nearly tone deaf about matters such as racism and the harm inflicted by conventional churches on sexual minorities and are bone-headed in their narrow perspectives. But to this wary reader every chapter got better and better and by the middle of the second section — “How the Secular Script Turned Toxic” — I was nodding and underlining. The important third part is under the rubric of a few chapters called “When Christian Men Absorb the Secular Script” and the writing and insights are no-nonsense and compelling, even as she always is careful not to turn off those who are touchy about this topic.

It is her hope, she wrote to me a while back, that fairly traditionalist men who are themselves frustrated about being called toxic and take personally the attack on their traditionalist views from what they consider to be elites, will not dismiss her as another raging feminist who doesn’t honor their dignity or care about their concerns. She is aware of the hostility aimed at men and what she might call “media stereotypes.” I appreciate that she is trying to speak to different audiences and hope that the book will be taken up by various folks across the church spectrum and throughout the cultural divides.

She says in the beginning that she was a bit surprised how controversial her writing about this seemed as she was working on the book. Everybody wondered what she was going to say, whose ox was going to get gored, what side she was on. Culture wars have caused suspicion and polarization; many conservatives hate feminists and most progressives despise traditionalists. In the aftermath of #metoo and church cover-ups and evangelical weirdness like the awful Mars Hill nonsense with Mark Driscoll, etc. this book is needed. While it is poised for a wide readership, it may be misunderstood. Despite her careful writing and her tons of amazing footnotes, I fear some will not give it a fair chance. (The choppy modernist cover doesn’t help any, but that’s another matter.) Whether you tend to tilt left or tilt right in your social and political leanings, I hope you give this thought-provoking volume a chance.

Let me be blunt: I think those on the more progressive and liberal side of the church pews will distrust her traditionalist views and her caution not to scare off ordinary conservative men (including young men, who, she reports, feel attacked in recent years) may not sit well with them. Yet, she is right to be impeccably fair and not overstate things or scapegoat men (let alone blue collar men.) Frankly, some who are pretty traditionalist and who will appreciate Pearcey’s conservative bona fides, are going to be challenged to learn how the evangelical church has adopted too much of the “secular script” and how our deeply ingrained dualisms have framed our approach even to the nature of masculinity and femininity.

I suspect that Nancy attends a church that does not ordain women (I really don’t know) but she is an unashamed advocate for equal rights for women in the public square. She has herself worked in philosophy, public media, the sciences, and is not inclined to take up the typically Southern, evangelical niceties of ladies teas and craft-making retreats. She is a strong, left-brained Christian leader and needs to be heard; she taught the ex-Marine Chuck Colson much of what he knew about a Christian worldview, after all. Her balance and logical approach should appeal to many. Those who want a more progressive sort of manifesto against straight white males without the deeper thinking about it all, really ought to read it, too. Agree fully or not, it is one of the more interesting books on this topic I have seen in quite a while.

I was going to lead with this detail and then considered omitting it. But here’s a fact we learn: she tells it in the first page of her introduction, so it is not much of a spoiler. Nancy was physically abused as a girl, viciously so, by a church-going father. His domestic violence left a life-long mark, to be sure, but one key insight that she learned early on was that she “had two fathers. A Public one and a Private one.”

This book is very important to her. I applaud her bravery in saying it all.

Can we agree that masculinity is a God-given thing, not merely a social construct? Can we at least agree that the sort of masculinity that is now too often on show is defaced, even toxic, as a distortion of some God-given characteristics? Can we appreciate the nuance of her title, the “toxic war on masculinity”? Some will think she means the leftist and feminist attack on traditional values, and I suppose that is hinted at; she is no friend of postmodern deconstruction or the cheaply woke. But more, she is insisting that sin is always like a parasite, distorting that which it claims, and the goal of our sanctification and spiritual formation is to be healed from the distortion of sin’s influence and to embody a Christ-like restoration of original goodness. We need not askew all distinctions between genders, but, in Christ, we can restore the virtues of men and women in healthy, Biblically-warranted and life-giving ways. The toxic script keeps us from doing that. It demeans guys, fathers, and makes it harder to be a good husband. The Toxic War on Masculinity explains in great detail how all of that happened, and offers hope for renewed practices. It all leads to the insights of a deeply moving epilogue, “A Tribute to Manhood.” You’ll have to read it yourself, working through the many pages and pondering the great discussion/reflection questions that are in the back. There’s a lot here.

As always, I am in awe of Nancy Pearcey’s research–from Harriet Beecher Stowe to how Romans really treated women 2,000 years ago. And so much history of American manhood from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that I never knew. It’s sobering to hear how old the battle of the sexes really is. — Julia Duin, Newsweek contributing editor/religion

Non-Toxic Masculinity: Recovering Healthy Male Sexuality Zachary Wagner (IVP) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

I am sure you have heard of some of the recent critiques of what has come to be known as “purity culture.” Such a culture was everywhere in evangelical circles in the 1980s and 1990s and, now, years later, so pervasive was this harsh ethos about staying sexually pure, that many have left the Christian faith over it. The phrase Purity Culture has come to stand for a lot, from the million-selling book by then youngster, Josh Harris, I Kissed Dating Goodbye to the right-wing, anti-LGTBQ politics of Focus on the Family. This stuff wasn’t harmless then, and we are now seeing the bad fruits from those eccentric, overstated fears of sex and the world, and the authoritarianism (for men) embedded is much of that subculture.

Zachary Wagner grew up in that world and he is honest about how it harmed his view of his masculinity, his sexual desires, and his view of the relationship of Christianity to the world. He assures us that important books by women on purity culture must be read (he recommends several that we have reviewed, from across the ideological spectrum, which is good and brave and rare, actually, affirming books that he doesn’t fully agree with.) However, as much as many of us have read historian Kristen Du Mez’s take down of all of this in her must-read Jesus and John Wayne and as clear-headed and important as Rachel Joy Weltner’s Talking Back to Purity Culture is, we have not yet seen a book like this. On almost every page or so, I stopped to marvel at his great care for others, his own vulnerability as an author, and for the wisdom of his evangelical publisher for doing such a book within that subculture’s expectations.

In a way, this is a good follow-up to Pearcey’s aforementioned The Toxic War on Masculinity. I wonder how to explain the power and distinctions of Wagner’s Non-Toxic Masculinity. I do not mean to pitch this as a more progressive, open-minded view versus her more conventional, if surprisingly feminist-friendly, take. That isn’t quite it. I pondered if there are generational differences between the two authors — the writing style is more casual, here, the personal anecdotes more central (and heartbreakingly tender.) It has a lot of footnotes, too, but isn’t as historical or quite as sociological as Pearcey’s. Yet, it is honest and thoughtful and I really, really liked it a lot.

Wagner is asking how we might rethink masculinity, given how toxic it sometimes is. He doesn’t do the deep dive into the sociological history of how gender roles and assumptions about our respective virtues developed but he is keenly aware of how church culture — especially the purity culture promoted within evangelicalism in recent decades — has harmed many. And, man, this is tough stuff. He is really honest, shares lots of stories, and is thoughtfully engaged in the cutting edge conversations about sexual integrity in a post-purity culture world.

Three things make this an exceptional work, a valuable resource for anyone wanting to explore human sexuality.

First, Wagner, while a fairly conventional and theologically astute evangelical, goes out of his way to consider the different views and experiences of his readers. He names LGTBQ+ friends and invites those who don’t fit the typical cisgender descriptions to bear with him. He is an ordained minister and has worked for the very thoughtful Center for Pastoral Theologians (led by the excellent Todd Wilson) and is now pursuing a PhD in New Testament studies at the University of Oxford. But he wears his learnedness lightly and has offered us a kind and gracious sort of book. Come to think of it, it is rare in my experience to have a few asides and comments and footnotes inviting readers who are different to read along with him. I liked that.

Secondly, while it is about toxic and unhelpful way the Purity Culture stuff influenced his strict fundamentalist sort of faith (and he reports horrific stories of others) is not only a critique of the dumb and patriarchal views of Josh Harris and Mark Driscoll, et al. Rather, he is digging more deeply into normative sexuality, wondering how male sexuality, itself, can be refined and reformed and renewed. To do this, he reads widely (again, citing some sex-positive authors that he admits to appreciating, while disagreeing with some of their work, such as his comments about a particularly provocative section of Shameless by Nadia Bolz-Weber.)

In this part of the book he is exceptionally honest about his own struggles with a sense of privilege and rights about sex, even as he came to grapple with that when his wife was herself struggling with hardships that kept her from enjoying sexual intimacies. I had tears in my eyes through some of these pages — I’ve never read anything like this so candid and complicated and finally gracious about one’s marital intimacies and struggles. His writing about sexuality is not singular — there really are others who explore in egalitarian ways about mutually-pleasing sex, but few evangelical writers have done so. Wagner himself cites Jonathan Grant’s heavy 2015 Brazos Press book Divine Sex: A Compelling Vision for Christian Relationships in a Hyper-sexualized Age and he says very good things about The Great Sex Rescue: The Lies You’ve Been Taught and How to Recover What God Intended and other books by Sheila Wray Gregoire.

Thirdly, I really appreciate the emphasis, especially in the last half, about how the role of sex itself is not to be overstated. That is, whether we are sex positive progressives or deeply fearful fundamentalists, we can make an idol out of this part of our lives — sex, marriage, and family life, too — and this isn’t Biblically faithful and isn’t helpful for those who struggle, those who cannot have children, those who are intersex, and certainly those who are single. Our siblings in Christ who are not in conventional married arrangements deserve to be included in these conversations as well and his brief story about Christian living arrangements that move towards intentional community, are healthy and wise. (I notice that he thanks his friend Wesley Hill in the acknowledgments page and it is good that he cites Hill’s spectacular book on friendship, Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian.) This is all so tender and real and honest.

From chapters as punchy as “Wake Up, Guys” to “Act Like An Adult” to wise and touching ones like “The Worst Sex You’ve Ever Had” to insightful pieces like “Victims of Our Own Desire?” and the amazingly brilliant chapter on fatherhood, Wagner offers good, good stuff. He’s upbeat enough to keep it lively, and he’s honest enough to come across as humble and nowhere near a macho know-it-all. (That he used to be a Mark Driscoll fanboy is hard to believe given how gracious he now is.) He’s rooted in the Scriptures and confronts harmful teaching (even from the American evangelical church) that distorts desire and sex and relationships. It is very good, the back cover says, for those who “feel disillusioned and adrift.”  Who doesn’t want to resist dehumanization? Read the book. Join the movement. We can offer a better approach. Kudos!

Malestrom: How Jesus Dismantles Patriarchy and Redefines Manhood Carolyn Custis James (Zondervan) $19.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

We thought this was an excellent book when it first came out, nearly a decade ago, a wonderful follow up to James’s good work on women in the Scriptures (Lost Women of the Bible) and on women in the global church (Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women.) She’s done a good book on Ruth (The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules) and a smaller Bible study of Ruth as well. Not long ago she wrote a moving forward to a book by a young woman who we touted at BookNotes, Women Rising: Learning to Listen, Reclaiming Our Voice by the young-ish Meghan Tschanz. Carolyn Custis James is a strong and healthy leader and an adjunct professor at Missio Seminary in Philadelphia. We are fans.

What is interesting about this excellent book is that Zondervan saw the importance of reminding book buyers of this kind of resource and re-released it into the marketplace in the hard year after #metoo and #churchtoo. I’m not sure that’s the only reason, but they gave it a sharp, new cover, and showed off a nice blurb from a brand new foreword by historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez on the front. It says, simply, “This is a message that the church desperately needs to hear, and to take to heart.”

Some of you will appreciate the endorsing recommendation by Aussie Michael Bird (co-author with N.T. Wright) and podcast host with Aimee Byrd (Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) who says:

The book that every Christian man needs to read. It is a powerful mix of personal story, biblical commentary, and cultural analysis that is hard to put down. — Michael Bird, author of God’s Israel and the Israel of God: Paul and Supersessionism

God’s intention for the appropriate flourishing of human life has been severely thwarted by culturally captive expressions of masculinity that have oppressed both women and men. Malestrom offers us a reminder from Scripture that God’s intention for men was not for a dysfunctional masculinity that devastates the image of God within us. Thank you, Carolyn Custis James, for your historical and theological insights that will reshape how I live out my faith in the world. Thank you for a book that benefits both my son and my daughter. — Dr. Soong-Chan Rah, Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism; author of Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church

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

I highlighted this earlier in the summer when I did a BookNotes blog about memoirs. I named a few new ones, important ones, even, and this was among them. I had skimmed it a bit and knew enough to assure readers that it would be a moving read, a look into a complicated life, sharing the memories of a Christian pastor and writer I admired. I noted that his parents were Dutch immigrants to Canada and he was raised in a very strict congregation of the CRC. His father built greenhouses and Arthur learned the work of working with glass as a youth. He has scars to prove it, as the slices from broken glass were an occupational hazard. The title Shattered resonates on many levels in this exceptional book.

I have now finished the book and cannot begin to tell you in a short space how grateful I was to have read it, how enjoyable it was, in a manner of speaking. That is, the way any book of good writing and good storytelling, of tension and agony and goodness and grace, can be enjoyable, even if it at times hard. And it was hard. Did I mention the bleeding slices, the broken glass, the horror?

Arthur — whose parents spoke Dutch as their native tongue and couldn’t pronounce the name they have him, calling him Artur —is, as I’m sure I said last month, a writer and thinker I admire greatly. Raised in a severely strict and insular, immigrant Reformed church that proclaimed the tight dogmas of election and God’s sovereignty and predestination and the like, he always had a deep hunger for the things of God, for spirituality that wasn’t spoken of much amidst the dogma and duties.

His father was a bit cynical about religion (and swore and drank and smoked several packs a day) and as Artur grew up in the 60s and 70s he came to a deeper faith causing him to leave the CRC. Boers became Mennonite, which is, actually, only a small part of the story, yet important, as he learned an evangelical sort of faith that was proclaimed with great grace, reminding the followers of Jesus to be, well, just that: Christ-like followers of the rabbi King. Who knew? His home church was surely shaped in some ways by the fact that many were survivors of the brutal Nazi takeover of their homeland in The Netherlands; his own violent father was surely a PTSD victim from his years in the war against the Nazis and then his further soldiering in Holland’s colonial war in Indonesia that left tens upon tens of thousands of civilians killed. This surely left a mark and this book, in a way, is a life-long processing of it all, being raised by a man who lived with what today we might call injured but still toxic masculinity. Through plain, rich, prose, and really interesting storytelling, the author raises poignant questions of home and safety, of joy and sorrow, of immigration and difference and accommodation, of family love and abuse, of church and spirituality, of calling and obligation, of being a man and of being a Christian.

There is, admittedly in the previous two books I’ve mentioned in this post — Pearcey’s The Toxic War Against Masculinity and Wagner’s Non-Toxic Masculinity — conversations about fathering. (More in the first, where, like Arthur Boers, Nancy Pearcey’s father was violent towards her.) Father hunger is a phrase some use when a father is absent and young women and men feel the loss.

Arthur Boers to this day lives with a sense of remorse, surely regretting that his father would never voice regret. There is father hunger, although his memories are not all bleak. There are tender moments in the book — father and son listening to Dixieland and Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong together and Art (dangerously, I’d say) taking his dad to a Stevie Ray Vaughn concert of rowdy Texas blues. His dad was a hard worker in the family business and it is captivating to hear how Arthur came to tell his mother and father that he was interested in going into the ministry, rather than becoming the “and Son” on the lettering on Papa’s work truck.

Shattered works on several levels and would certainly be enjoyable to anyone who grew up in the late 1950s and early 60s, who experienced some of the faith exploding in the 1970s. I loved his casual descriptions of TV shows and songs. (It was nearly a throw-away line but the conflict even over the 1971 pop hit, “Put Your Hand in the Hand” with some in church disapproving of religion in rock, sounded very familiar!)

Arthur is a different kind of parent than the sort that abused him. (And, truth be told, Arthur’s father, his Poppa, was less violent with Arthur than Opa was with Pop back in Holland.) More importantly, he is expressive about his faith, his doubts, his longings, and his hopes. He is a vivid nature writer — the most exquisite writing is in a chapter telling about the creatures found in a rural cottage he uses for solace and retreat. He is a good storyteller — the story of the end of a dramatic few days with Henri Nouwen was cathartic in the most wonderful way.

But yet, lovely as some of this is, it is finally a story about male violence, about father hunger, about the sadness of a boy growing up wondering if he is fully loved and accepted. This goes to the deepest matters behind much of the toxic masculinity we hear about, and, as an artful literary memoir, Shattered: A Son Picks Up the Pieces of His Father’s Rage is a perfect story to compliment the three books above. Highly recommended.

This brave and wonderful book made me feel gratitude, care, and something like quiet awe. And it made me think–about generational inheritance, about the ways violence lingers, about forgiveness, and, most abidingly, about my own dead mother. I think of her, and of myself unto her, differently now that I’ve read Shattered.  –Lauren F. Winner, God Meets Girl and Still

Arthur Boers’s Shattered takes us into the fascinating world of the Dutch immigrant experience. In exquisite detail, we’re given a rich sense of history–cultural, theological, and family–that stands on its own. But more than this, Arthur reckons with a lineage of male anger and abuse. His narrative reflections gesture the way forward for all of us who carry the weight of familial rage. — Leslie Leyland Fields, Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers: Finding Freedom from Hurt and Hate

Living That Matters: Honest Conversations for Men of Faith Steve Thomas & Don Neufeld (Herald Press) $18.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

I wrote about this a few weeks back, so I need not belabor it again, other than to say it is a great, thorough handbook for cultivating wholesome, Christ-like, masculinity, done by two Mennonite leaders who serve their denomination’s men’s formation ministry. I wonder if Arthur Boers knows either of these two? Maybe so.

This is arranged almost like a devotional but it is more of a manual, a guidebook, a curriculum for many, many great conversations to be had with others. It is what one author called “a beacon of light to guide men through the stormy seas of toxic masculinity toward a more Jesus-centered ideal of what it means to be a man.” If you are a man who doesn’t have somebody to work through this stuff with, read it on your own. Some of it will be life-changing, I’m sure.

There are 10 readings with discussion questions on various topics under each of the seven major sections. These sections are named, Male Formation, Human Needs, Personal Challenges, Sexual Wholeness, Social Practices, Conflict Tools, Life Role. The book has several appendices and good resources for how to invite men into living lives consistent with the will and purpose of God in the world. Talk about shalom? This is it! What a profound, interesting, upbeat, but honest resource for anyone doing serious men’s ministry. Or for anybody wanting a tool for their own growth and reflection.  Hooray.

The authors, I just discovered, edited a few years ago a collection of essays called Peaceful at Heart: Anabaptist Reflections on Healthy Masculinity (Resource Publications; $33.00.) It’s a bit pricey, but with 260 pages I think it sounds so important we’re going to pick it up to stock here.

Here is what the publisher says about Peaceful at Heart and it seems to capture the lovely and useful nature of their new Living That Matters, as well:

While there are plenty of books by men, for men, on the topic of “Christian masculinity,” these books generally fail to address men’s propensities for violence and the traditional inequity between men and women, often endorsing inequity and sanctioning aggressive behavior as an appropriate “manly” response to conflict. Peaceful at Heart cuts through this conversation by offering a uniquely Anabaptist Christian perspective on masculinity. The vision of masculinity presented in this book is more peaceful, just, caring, life-giving for men, and more sensitive to women and children than both traditional images of masculinity and the hypermasculine images promoted by contemporary popular culture and wider evangelical Christianity. Peaceful at Heart addresses men and masculinity using Anabaptist theological themes of discipleship, community, and peace. As a collaborative project by men, for men, this book demonstrates through personal narratives, theological reflection, and practical guidance the importance of collective discernment, accountability, and mutual encouragement regarding how to live as peaceful men in a violent world.




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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 slow. For one typical book, usually, it’s about $3.85; 2 lbs would be $4.55.
  • United States Postal Service has another 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. 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. Just saying “US Mail” isn’t helpful because there are those two methods, one cheaper but slower, one more costly but quicker. Which do you prefer?


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

We will keep you posted about our future plans… we are eager, but delayed, for now.

We are doing our famous 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 old friends and new customers.

Of course, we’re happy to ship books anywhere. 

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



A short addendum to the recent Books About Books post — “A Book for Hearts & Minds” and five more…. ALL 20% OFF

I hope you enjoyed the last two BookNotes — one mostly on novels, and then the more recent one listing books about the reading life and why we must champion reading, study, and learning. I hope you saw that list including the recent Reading for the Love of God by Jessica Hooten Wilson and other such book-nerd resources. If you missed it, it is worth a look. All of our previous BookNotes are archived at our BookNotes section of our webpage.

A trusted friend asked me why I didn’t list a certain favorite of his, A Book for Hearts & Minds: What You Should Read and Why, which is, as the cover shows, “A Festschrift Honoring the Work of Hearts & Minds Bookstore.” It is, exactly, a book about books. Done as a tribute to us just five years ago.


It was a great, great honor when our friends at Square Halo Books surprised us with this edited volume when our store was in its 35th year, five years ago. And it is a true joy to have somebody recall it, now.

Alas, I didn’t list it (in last week’s BookNotes) for fear of seeming self-promoting since, alongside chapters and chapters of annotated bibliographies by specialists from all over — NT Wright on the New Testament, Karen Swallow Prior on literature, important authors and friends from Denis Haack to Steve Garber to Gregory Wolfe to Cal Seerveld to Andi Ashworth — there are a handful of blurbs and endorsements that are honoring us, celebrating the work, such as it has been, of Beth and me and our cheerful team here in Dallastown. So I was reluctant.

But yet, A Book for Hearts & Minds really is a quintessential book about books, a guide to so much good stuff. I was self-conscious and dumb not to take it to show off at my Bayview/Chautauqua lectures and I was foolish not to try to sell a few in that last BookNotes with its bookish theme. Thanks to my pal for pushing me on that, since it really is a great read.

So here you go: a quick addendum to the last BookNotes. After explaining (with apologies to long-time friends who have heard this spiel before) the value of the Square Halo produced festschrift, I’ll name five other titles that have also come to mind. Okay?

A Book for Hearts & Minds: What You Should Read and Why – A Festschrift Honoring the Work of Hearts & Minds Bookstore edited by Ned Bustard (Square Halo Books) $18.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

You can read HERE the long and delightful back story of the owners of Square Halo surprising with this release five years ago and get a good sense how they invited experts in a number of fields to more or less do a BookNotes-type column, listing why folks should read in that field and what to take up. A few of these contributors are very dear friends and others are specialists I do not know. A few are regular customers but most are not. The SHB editors knew some of them, but some they roped into the project from my own previous recommendations of their work. Admittedly some of the great folks they invited to this then-secret manuscript needed to decline.

ABFH&M does have a page of very humbling kudos to us from authors and friends and they say exceptionally nice things about our work here. From Margaret Feinberg to Os Guinness, Jonathan Merritt to Margot Starbuck, good writers offer us great encouragement.

But that, really is a very tiny part of the book. 99% of it is, in fact, a great resource regardless of this celebratory context. It is a book about books, and we think many of our readers will enjoy it a lot. The writing is quite good, the suggestions stimulating (and sometimes surprising) and the whole big idea a grand-slam home run.

I will prove the point not by quoting big excerpts of the often very clever prose or saying what the fans have said in commending it, but, rather, but by sharing the table of contents. It’s a blast.

[As you will see, two of the chapters are by me. For the record, the first was transcribed from an old cassette tape, I think, from a workshop I did at a PCA church, if memory serves. Quite some time ago; there may be errors. But, man, my own chapter in a real book! How about that?!  The chapter on “Creation Care” is one that Ned snuck in as transcribed from an older BookNotes column. I’m proud of it, actually, and glad to see it included, a little dated as it may be.]

Here ya go — after my opening piece, in a nice touch, the chapters unfold in bookish alphabetical order:

  • Reading – Byron Borger
  • Art –  Ned Bustard
  • Biblical Studies – Calvin Seerveld
  • Cooking – Andi Ashworth
  • Creation Care – Byron Borger
  • Creation Nonfiction – Gregory Wolfe
  • Education – G. Tyler Fischer
  • Ethics – David P. Gushee
  • Fantasy – Matthew Dickerson
  • Film – Denis Haack
  • History – Daniel Spanjer
  • Law – Michael Schutt
  • Literature – Karen Swallow Prior
  • New Testament Studies – N.T. Wright
  • Poetry – Aaron Belz
  • Politics –  Eric Bryan
  • Science –  Michael Kucks
  • Sociology – Bradshaw Fry
  • Urban Planning – Tom Becker
  • Vocation – Steve Garber

In each section of the 220 page paperback, the subtitle is “What fill in the blank with that chapter’s theme Books You Should Read and Why.”  Hooray. Order a few today!

Sea Glass: New and Selected Poems  Luci Shaw (WordFarm) $24.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.20

Have you heard of Petoskey stones? They are said to be unique to the northern coastlines of Lake Michigan and, once roughed with sandpaper and polished, small fossils of pressed tiny creatures from ancient glaciers will appear. Naturally, we looked for them in some free time at Bayview, there along that Great Lake in Petoskey, and saw hints of their remarkable, tiny, quilt-like patterns. Beth has since been busy attending to them, almost like our friend Luci Shaw did years ago.

In the lectures at Bayview, then, I naturally read Luci’s lovely poem “Polishing the Petoskey Stone.” (Beth is not rubbing them in Kansas, as Luci did.) I don’t think I said this in my last column, but I was moved in reciting it and the memory of that moment has oddly lingered with me.  Like the best poetry, it rewards after repeated readings…That one (and the others from that slim volume) are now anthologized in a big collection called Sea Glass: New and Selected Poems. It is our great delight to stock her books and we are happy to commend all of her good work to you.

The Habit of Poetry: The Literary Lives of Nuns in Mid-century America Nick Ripatrazone (Fortress) $28.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $23.19

Many BookNotes readers know the important, expansive, Christian arts journal (now edited by James K.A. Smith) Image. Nick Ripatrazone is the poetry editor (among other things) for Image and if you have a good memory you may recall how I raved about his previous volume exploring faith-influenced nature writers, Wild Belief. He is brilliant, a bit high-brow and erudite, and an incisive and astute critic. This one looks to be simply extraordinary.

There was — who knew? —a mid-20th century literary renaissance by nuns and this volume offers (as it says on the back) “a case study in how women negotiate tradition and individual creativity.” Or, at least, how these women religious did. Wow. Even the senior editor of the important Jesuit magazine, America, notes that this is a good study of “a previously neglected subject.” James Keane continues, “Nick Ripatrazone has uncovered troves of valuable cultural artifacts from the American Catholic literary tradition — and also reminded us of the lyrical mastery possessed by these women religious in their written work.

This new book is a gem for those who are interested in poetry, for those interested in the relationship of faith and writing, and, frankly, for those wanting a close historical look at mid-twentieth century Catholics, especially those who became nuns.

The clever title itself — The Habit of Poetry — speaks volumes and makes me smile. Of the handful of sisters it tells us of and whose work it explores, I only knew of Jessica Powers, who he describes nicely as a “pastoral mystic.”

Knowing What We Know: The Transmission of Knowledge From Ancient Wisdom to Modern Magic Simon Winchester (Harper) $35.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $28.00

This is a handsome, thick hardback by a stellar and respected nonfiction author (from the UK) who has been on the top of the bestseller’s lists many a time.  Of his beloved Krakatoa, an important review says that “Winchester demonstrates a keen knack for balancing rich and often rigorous historical detail with dramatic tension and storytelling.” He knows so much the New Yorker opined that he “exudes the comfort and charm of a beloved encyclopedia come to life.”

And now, in this new volume, he (in just over 400 pages) surveys the history of knowing, or, more, the “transmission of knowledge.” It is sweeping, to say the least, and intriguing for anyone with an interest in learning, education, reading, and more.

As the publisher writes:

From the creation of the first encyclopedia to Wikipedia, from ancient museums to modern kindergarten classes — he is award-winning writer Simon Winchester’s brilliant and all-encompassing look at how humans acquire, retain, and pass on information and data and how technology continues to change our lives and our minds.

I read a few pages in and was hooked, but it is a big book that is going to take a while. I skipped ahead to find a bit on the role and impact of propaganda. He worked as a reporter for The Guardian when Ireland’s Bloody Sunday happened and his comparison to the way understanding was deepened in those years (by reporting on The Troubles, by coverages of Tiananmen Square, by studies of the anti-apartheid efforts in South Africa ) had me turning the pages quickly.  This is a grand book on a fabulous subject.

Speaking Peace in a Climate of Conflict Marilyn McEntyre (Eerdmans) $22.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $18.39

In my previous BookNotes column I mentioned how I cited in my presentations dear Marilyn McEntyre’s great book Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies. I commended it to my Chautauqua audience and then used the table of contents as a bit of a blessing, nearly a benediction at the end. I love all of her many books, and mentioned in passing (as I had cited it there in Bayview) her wonderful When Poets Pray. I love that book and here at the shop we stock it under literature, under poetry, and under prayer.

Ms. McEntyre has, by the way, a forthcoming new book of her own poetry coming in early October, to be called Midwinter Light: Poems and Reflections for the Long Season which you can pre-order from us now, of course. Broadleaf; $19.99 – OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99.) Just scroll down to the order form link below.

Speaking Peace in a Climate of Conflict is another one of hers that is a must-read in my view. A smallish sized, trim hardback. For those who care deeply about our political polarization and the routine sorts of conflict that comes up at home, work, church, and in our neighborhoods and families, this book is a masterpiece of fresh ways to think and be in that conflicted space. As a sequel to Caring for Words McEntyre invites us in Speaking Peace to use words well as a way to push back against the breakdown of civil discourse these days.

She draws on poets and writers, exploring their vision and their work, channeling for us their energy into creating new ways to speak the truth in love. As Paula Huston notes, it is written “with her signature intelligence and poetic flair” and helps us “reclaim the nobility of language and its power to heal.”

I can hardly imagine a more timely book at a more urgent time! Marilyn McEntyre has given us a startling reflection on words, metaphors, and poetry and how they illuminate or obscure the wide realms of politics, culture, and community. It is a book that is profoundly literate, vividly relevant, and plainly wise. It manages the rare feat of demonstrating both soaring vision and precise focus. The reader is startled into fresh insights that invite deeper forms of service and care. — Leanne Van Dyk, President of Columbia Theological Seminary, author of Believing in Jesus Christ

Overcoming Apathy: Gospel Hope for Those Who Struggle to Care Uche Anizor (Crossway) $16.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59

This little book packs a wallop and I’d highly recommend it to most of our customers. It won, by the way, the 2023 Book of the Year Award from CT a few months back in the general “Christian Living” category. It is based on bunches of conversation the author has had with various people, including with younger Christians, exploring spiritual listlessness, those with a lack of motivation, with indifference. Does God care about that, really? Does it matter all that much? Is it maybe even a sin, such carelessness about the gospel? What do we do when we don’t know what to do? Can God graciously invite us to repent, to newness of (abundant) life, to resist what Henry David Thoreau called “quiet desperation”? This is not so much about mental health issues (depression and the like) but about the more generic sort of apathy we have about things that matter most.

This is a short, practical book that “examines the prevalence and causes of apathy in culture, churches, and individual lives.” By identifying seven common sources, it “suggests healthy practices to help fight it in our daily lives.” Uche Anizor is a very smart guy, and seems to have a caring, pastoral spirit.

His description of an early Greek writer speaking of listlessness when reading sounds like it could have been written last week! In my Bayview sermon I invited folks to the spiritual discipline of being a life-long learner, to gape in wonder at the world, read widely. I perhaps wasn’t sensitive to those who, frankly, don’t care about being wide-eyed and full of curiosity. Maybe this little gospel-centered book can help. Know anybody that might need it? Dr. Anizor is a professor of theology at Talbot School of Theology at Biola in Los Angeles.




It is very helpful if you tell us how you prefer 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 slow. For one typical book, usually, it’s about $3.85; 2 lbs would be $4.55.
  • United States Postal Service has another 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. 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. Just saying “US Mail” isn’t helpful because there are those two methods, one cheaper but slower, one more costly but quicker. Which do you prefer?


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

We will keep you posted about our future plans… we are eager, but delayed, for now.

We are doing our famous 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 old friends and new customers.

Of course, we’re happy to ship books anywhere. 

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

Books about books, titles I cited in my lectures at Bayview’s Chautauqua, and PRE-ORDER “The Evangelical Imagination: How Stories, Images, and Metaphors Created a Culture in Crisis” by Karen Swallow Prior // ALL 20% OFF

A week ago Beth and I had the grand privilege of visiting Bayview, Michigan, a Chautauqua institution, and a town which is nearly a cross between a quaint, Victorian-era resort and a summer camp for educated adults and their children. Founded in 1875 as a location for religious revival — Methodist camp meetings not unlike what emerged along the beaches of New Jersey and Cape Cod — thousands would arrive by steamship from Chicago or Milwaukee or by train from Grand Rapids or Erie. Before the 19th century was out they had affiliated with the fast growing Chautauqua movement and became legendary for education and recreation and the arts in the context of faith formation. Mostly evangelical Protestant in those days, it is now a thriving inter-denominational (indeed, interfaith) space, with a peaceful community ethos, bringing in world class classic musicians, Pulitzer Prize winning historians, and gifted preachers, standing on the shoulders of others who have lectured there, from Helen Keller to William Jennings Bryan, from Booker T. Washington to E. Stanley Jones. I shuddered a bit when I was in the pulpit there.

If you’d like you can watch my sermon, here. I preached mostly on Colossians 1:15 – 20 hoping to set the stage for my “Faith and Life” lectures that week, informal talks on the power of books and what reading widely can do for us in these complicated days. I think the lectures went okay as I shared stories from our years of bookselling and being a cheerleader for the printed page.

Which reminds me of the joy of many a book lover’s affection, what some might take as an obsession: books about books.

As befitting a sermon for a big group of this sort, I restrained myself from talking myself into a dither as I might otherwise have, preaching up a storm about all this, even if folks said they appreciated by enthusiasm.  Reflecting on the sermon and the subsequent lectures, I came to again believe that these books about books are now more needed than ever, vital resources making a case for reading well, reminding us of the value of the reading life, the personal and social significance of the spiritual disciple of study.   

In my sermon I paraphrased an episode from a Chaim Potok novel where a wide-eyed Catholic kid watches his friend’s father’s Jewish community dancing in a ritual circle holding the Torah scrolls. Gentile Teddy asks what the heck is going on. “They are dancing with our book,” is the obvious reply.  The Jewish kid asks, “Don’t you dance with your book?”

It’s not a bad question, is it?

Jews, Muslims and Christians are considered “people of the book.” Naturally this firstly means we embody a faith that comes to us from sacred Scripture, from the real stories of real history. But in our traditions it has also led to a nearly sacramental view of study, learning, the role of books and reading. We might take off our shoes as we pick up a book, I said, as we are entering holy ground.

Of course one can overdo such talk, and there are downsides to a faith of and for bookworms. But, for better or worse, this is what Christianity is. We should dance with our books.

So, here are a couple of books I highlighted at Bayview and a few I could have. You had to be there, I guess, to see how I used them, which paragraphs I read, how I cited or showed them. Still, I hope you will enjoy this quick summary of some important books about books, inviting us to the joy of learning. Thanks for caring about the reading life and trusting us to help you in that journey. We are honored, truly.



I mentioned, in my second lecture there, that the reading we do is always in a particular time and place, with cultural issues and philosophical assumptions in the very air we breathe. We must read the Bible with the newspaper in the other hand, as is often said, and I reminded folks of some of the complexities of the digital age, some of the data indicating a downside to social media, even neurological research about reading on devices. At the very least, we should be given pause when we realize that our primary source of information gathering comes from something called a browser. It is not the only book to read, but I think Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death remains a must-read classic; the preface comparing 1984 and Brave New World is brilliant.

And, of course, our days are rife with polarization, even as we ponder (and disagree about) mass starvation and war, racial injustice and climate change, threats to democracy from alt-right extremists and, to a lesser extent, in my estimation, Marxian philosophers. I mentioned in passing the stunning narrative of investigative reporting in a book about home featuring four places where the very landscape is changing (At Home on an Unruly Planet: Finding Refuge on a Changed Earth by the exquiste Madeline Ostrander) as an example, so to speak; it is hard to read during increasing floods and fires and rising sea levels. In any case, reading books about the zeitgeist is a Christian duty and learning to walk in the wisdom of the Lord in but not of the culture is essential. We need all the help we can get.  Here are a few to set the stage.

Interpreting Your World: Five Lenses for Engaging Theology and Culture Justin Ariel Bailey (Baker) $21.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $17.59

We stock a huge amount of books about, to use Richard Niebuhr’s old phrase, “Christ and culture.” How do we discern the assumptions and philosophical architecture of the world around us? This guide is a tad heady but is really, really good, by a fine professor at Dordt College.

“Bailey offers readers a profound gift. With clarity and skill, he introduces us to the dynamic ways theology and culture intersect. Rejecting simplistic and reductionistic Christian understandings, this book introduces us to the complex field of human action and divine grace that we call ‘culture.'”
— Matthew Kaemingk, Richard John Mouw Institute of Faith and Public Life, Fuller Theological Seminary, author of Work and Worship: Reconnecting Our Labor and Liturgy

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business Neil Postman (Penguin) $17.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.60

I said a bit about this in my Bayview lectures, and while I might bring some critique if we had the time to talk, it nonetheless is a must read. I cherish the short time I spent with him before his death, walking around a nearby college campus. Don’t miss this profound study of the Lincoln Douglas debates of the 19th century, say, and, before that, the 18th century preaching of the Great Awakening, and our shift to news as (or in the context of) entertainment. Astute and, happily, not utterly pessimistic.

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains Nicholas Carr (Norton) $17.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.36

Few books have informed my recent concerns about our digital age than this. The famous “Is Google Making Us Dumb” piece was expanded into a groundbreaking book, nominated and on the shortlist for a Pulitzer Prize. A must.




Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less from Each Other Sherry Turkle (Basic Books) $18.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

This has been called many things (including, I might say, heroically hefty.) Vivid, passionate, engrossing, personal, fascinating, urgent, lurid, savvy, insightful.

In this beautifully written, provocative and worrying book, Turkle, a professor at MIT, a clinical psychologist and, perhaps, the world’s leading expert on the social and psychological effects of technology, argues that internet use has as much power to isolate and destroy relationships as it has to bring us together. ―Financial Times

The Life We’re Looking For: Reclaiming Relationship in a Technological World Andy Crouch (Convergent) $25.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $20.00

Over and over I describe this, trying to convince readers that it is a masterpiece, a gem, a treasure. Andy is a generative and creative thinker, a wise guide, inviting us to ponder things in fresh ways. You’ve not read anything like this, and, more than even his other good books, he has written elegantly and artfully. One of the best books of recent times.


Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community Bonnie Kristian (Brazos Press) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

Who doesn’t worry about fake news and why some of our fellow citizens fall for conspiracies and truly odd-ball stuff. (Yesterday, a fellow in town abruptly reported that the tragic submersible that imploded was “woke.”) Bonnie is a good writer, a feisty journalist, a wise and informed Christian. Without getting into the philosophical weeds, she knows that beneath our polarizations about news sources is, in fact, a “knowledge crisis” and we must work to understand how it is eroding much we take for granted. There are other books. Start here.

Your Minds Mission Greg Jao (IVP) $8.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $6.40

I so enjoy quoting a long paragraph where Greg mentions a worship experience in a science class and how his science textbooks became for him almost like prayer books. This is the most succinct and yet quite powerful introduction to the topic of the Christian mind that is short enough to be read by anyone, with implications for everything. I enjoyed reading this out loud to our friends at Bayview and suggested, at least, that they buy it for their children or grandchildren in college. Kudos.


A Mind for God James Emery White (IVP) $17.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.60

There is a page or two here I like to cite in my workshops about the White family each reading under an umbrella at DisneyWorld and how astonishing it seemed to some. He continues on why we should read, how to choose and schedule time for good reading, and how such study can enhance the consistent Christian mind, so we might be wise salt and light in our serious times. A lovely, small book, which I have read over and over, perhaps because I need it, but also to remind me of our holy calling here at the store. Nice.

Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for Our Common Life Makoto Fujimura (IVP) $20.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00

One can hardly overstate the glories of this fine collection of essays about caring well for the culture in these times of anxiety and anguish. Mako is, of course, largely a visual artist and he knows well that the contemporary high art scene has an antipathy to the language of beauty. So do some Christians, many who fear the world of the ineffable and sublime. Yet, this is not a high-brow exploration of aesthetics but a down-to-Earth call to be generative, to invite a flourishing of our common life, viewing culture “as a garden to be cultivated.” He writes with compassion and courage and grace.

By the way, for those most interested in Mr. Fujimura’s literate side, see his powerful book SIlence and Beauty: Hidden Faith Born of Suffering (IVP; $30.00) about the novel Silence by award-winning Japanese novelist, Shusaku Endo. Mako’s book explores the backstory of that novel, his own moving engagement with it, and even tells a bit of his being a consultant to director Martin Scorsese as he produced the film version of Silence.

God The Bestseller: How One Editor Transformed American Religion a Book at a Time Stephen Prothero (HarperOne) $32.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $26.39

For the diverse crowd at Bayview I was sure that some would love this book about the influence of a Harper editor named Eugene Exman. I explained it here at BookNotes a month or so ago, saying how fascinating it is that the author, Stephen Prothero, was asked to look over a barn-full of old books upon the death of the owner. He wasn’t thrilled, he admitted, but upon finding them he realized he had happened upon a goldmine of first editions, personal notes, handwritten letters from some of the most important religious luminaries of the 20th century. How did this one person — who, we discover in this biography was a fiery evangelical turned mainline liberal Protestant to deeply spiritual interfaith mystic — come to know so many authors, from Martin Luther King to the Dalai Lama, from Howard Thurman to Dorothy Day, from  Harry Emerson Fosdick to C.S. Lewis to Jaroslav Pelikan to Albert Schweitzer to the founder of AA

Like a Zelig of modern religiosity, Prothero explains how Exman and the books he got published shifted the public understanding of religious publishing from largely sectarian and dogmatic to experiential and even mystical. With Eastern or evangelical, the shift is evident, even now, in the religious section of any mainstream bookstore and the social imagination of most who think about religion in our times. I admitted to misgivings about this very shift, but, man, this describes in page-turning detail, how Exman came to know (and listen to and pray with and take consciousness-raising drugs with) people all over the world. What a story.

Reading Evangelicals: How Christian Fiction Shaped a Culture and a Faith Daniel Silliman (Eerdmans) $27.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $22.39

If Exman and the shift he created in general market books about religion is important, so is this, in some ways the evangelical flip side of American reading about religion. It is an excruciating story, in some ways, and is, in some ways, the biography of our professional life here (yes even here.)  If on one hand Hearts & Minds has promoted authors that Exman (we only now realize) discovered — King, Day, Thurman, and others in the line of William James book on the experience of faith — we are evangelicals and as a Christian bookstore, necessarily carried Janette Oke, Frank Peretti, the Left Behind novels and movies. Our biggest in-store event (topping our back yard N.T. Wright event) was the novelist of good Amish stories, Beverly Lewis. Reading Evangelicals is a study of this influential sub-culture that shaped how millions of religious readers came to understand the world, for better or worse. To think that these books were mere fiction and for conservative religious people is to underestimate them, and those readers. Silliman does a lot of social analysis, connecting dots, explaining other figures and movements leading up to, well, today, with too many white evangelicals still expressing support for the corrupt former President Trump. It’s a fascinating study of books from the aforementioned Bev Lewis to The Shack and more. But he does the background stuff, opening up evangelicalism’s history (bringing to mind a bit of, say,  Du Mez’s Jesus and John Wayne, a must-read of recent religious history.)

The book ends, as it opens, pondering Silliman’s visit to a large, evangelically Christian book and gift store that was going out of business. Man, does he connect some dots and help us understand our times and our faith. What a read.

PRE-ORDER The Evangelical Imagination: How Stories, Images, and Metaphors Created a Culture in Crisis Karen Swallow Prior (Brazos Press) $26.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59


I did not mention this in my Bayview lectures but I should have. I just finished my early manuscript and it is a stunning — hefty and serious but pleasurable to read, a very, very interesting overview of the social imaginary of evangelicalism, and how the roots of that particular faith tradition — now itself part of the social imaginary of much of the West, a lamp and a mirror — are rooted, often unknowingly, less in a truly Biblical worldview (like we claim) but in the beliefs, customs, habits, metaphors, and visions of Victorianism (and, then, the broader British Empire.) Part history, part public theology, part mea-culpa on behalf of many who have too often been an uncritical part of a nearly moribund and now Trumpian fundamentalism, The Evangelical Imagination is a terrific, thoughtful, book for our times.

The cover is pretty kitchsy, but, I suppose, that’s part of the point, eh? I loved that she wrote wisely about sentimentality in religious art, even drawing on the great Oxford book from several years back, Good Taste, Bad Taste, & Christian Taste: Aesthetics in Religious Life by  Frank Bruch Brown. It’s a good chapter.

Karen is a clear-headed social critic and thoughtful evangelical schooled in, and for much of her professional career a professor of, classic Western literature. She loves her Brit lit and we learn so much about our times by seeing how she relates much of the Western canon to faith, and to the secular age in which we live and move and have our being. But in this one she covers more than just the role of books an authors, meandering through a good handful of themes, topics, features of the modern, evangelical worldview. It is so good and important that I will review it again more extensively, later, but you can pre-order it now, at our 20% off. I’m confident that we will have it before the release date of August 8, 2023.


On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life Through Great Books Karen Swallow Prior, with art pieces by Ned Bustard (Brazo Press) $19.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

I like the comment of Gina Alfonzo (who wrote a great book about the friend of Dorothy Sayers and C.S. Lewis and is herself a learned aficionado of Charles Dickens)  who said “Read this book. You’ll find that there is a lot more to morality than most of us ever realized — and that it’s more attractive than we ever knew.” Indeed, as Valerie Weaver-Zercher wrote in The Christian Century, “Prior makes us hunger for a literature — and thus a life — of the good, the beautiful, and the true.” My friend Jonathan Merritt noted that it is such an engrossing work that it will “appeal to book nerds and casual readers alike.”

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

Want to learn to read as a Christian? My, my, this is learned, thoughtful, interesting, Wilson is a very wise guide. Between the remarkable chapters about bookish culture of the past, she has sections on how other great saints have read and what we can learn from them. Indeed, four of the chapters are “Reading like Augustine”, “Reading like Julian of Norwich”, “Reading like Frederick Douglas” and “Reading like Dorothy Sayers.” The first few pages offer a fun and serious survey asking “What Kind of Reader Are You?” The appendix is a fascinating case study of reading a short story by Flannery O’Connor.

Not exactly like Adler’s beloved How to Read a Book, really, but there are overlaps.  Blurbs on the back of this one include rave comments from Beth Allison Barr and Tish Harrison Warren. Jessica Hooten Wilson has a PhD from Baylor University and now teaches at Pepperdine. You should order this book today — it is really a remarkable resource. Maybe you could do a book club on it?

The Scandal of Holiness: Renewing Your Imagination in the Company of Literary Saints (Brazos Press) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

I adored this book and have highlighted it more than once at BookNotes. Can reading great literature be a spiritual discipline? Can we truly become more holy as we engage the art and minds of classic authors? Certain, yes. The great Karen Swallow Prior (see above, author of On Reading Well) says:

“Our imaginations will be formed by the stories we see ourselves in, and we see ourselves according to the stories we are most surrounded by. In these pages, Wilson serves as a good guide to good stories that can form our imaginations towards greater holiness and humanity.”

In my opening sermon preached at the Bayview Chautauqua last week (see above) I quoted the first century Bishop, Saint Irenaeus, who said that the glory of God is seen in “a human being fully alive.” Hooten gets this and believes that our holiness can be enhanced by great reading. The great writer and editor Lauren Winner says, like the best fiction, it “opens out. It exceeds itself.”

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

I had this in my bag during my four lectures and it was all I could do not to just talk about it each session. I had my outline, my points, my teachings, honed over months, curated from other stuff I do in workshops and talks. But this was a game-changer for me and lovely sections of its lively prose will be finding their way into my seminars and sessions, for sure.

It is in the IVP Academic line so I suppose it could be adopted as a college text but, please, don’t let that worry you: Nourishing Narratives, as I explained in a previous BookNotes column when I first announced it, is lively and fun and inspiring, full of stories. As you might expect.

Alas, not every book about the narrative nature of our storied lives is that full of stories or even that interesting. This excels in teaching about how humans are “story-shaped creatures” (much of this is solidly fresh from her perch as professor at Calvin University and chair of the English department there, but it won’t be missed on most BookNotes fans that she is a colleague of James K.A. Smith. His work on imagination and the storied nature of our lives is evident.)

Jennifer loves literature but she loves the Bible and she loves her own life, with stories aplenty about her parents, her own faith formation, her scholarly career, and her ordinary, daily life. It is vulnerable and intimate and informed by the best critical scholarship, even if she writes with a light touch on that score. Yes, there is plenty about Dante and Gerard Manley Hopkins and Flannery O’Connor and Marilynne Robinson and Mary Oliver, as you’d want, but there are fabulous excursions into the lives and works of lesser known poets. It is an invitation to learn, to read (as Smith put it) “as if our faith lives depend on it.” It’s a wonderful book about writing, about reading, about authors, about the life of a Christian who is a teacher of fine literature, old and new. It’s a personal favorite new book!  I hope you order it.

“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 forthcoming The Evangelical Imagination: How Stories, Images, & Metaphors Created a Culture in Crisis

Subversive Christianity Eugene Peterson (Eerdmans) $27.50  OUR SALE PRICE = $22.00

I know I don’t have to explain to most of our BookNotes readers who Eugene Peterson was or our connection to him. I suspect you know many of his fine, mature books (and perhaps enjoy the creative paraphrase of the Bible, the sturdy edition called The Message.) In any case, I would be remiss if I didn’t note that there are several chapters in this miscellaneous collection (of various essays, talks, reviews, poems, studies, and interviews) that I often quote, reading out loud to let folks hear Peterson’s apt description of certain books, and perhaps, most famously, of how reading James Joyce helped him figure out the significance of his pastoral calls, which he wasn’t that fond of, coming to understand the calling to serve in ordinary, mundane, pastoral ministry and, for that matter, the beauty of a common-place spirituality of the ordinary.

Peterson names the page of Ulysses, the “meander of a narrative” where “an earthquake opened a fissure at my feet and all my assumptions of ordinariness dropped into it. All those routines of pastoral care suddenly were no longer routines.”

This is a great, under-appreciated Eugene Peterson book in any case, but the few chapters on novels and poetry made it perfect to use in my class, and perfect to recommend here on this list.

Reading Black Books: How African American Literature Can Make Our Faith More Whole and Just Claude Atcho (Brazos) $19.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

I waved this around in one of my presentations at Bayview as well. The audience was mostly white and I’m guessing mostly liberal or progressive, culturally and socially. I felt compelled to say that this amazing introduction to reflection upon great black literature — “centering the black experience in Christian reflection” one might say — was by a solidly evangelical Anglican Church planter. That is, he isn’t mostly an activist or black lit scholar, but a pastor. Actually, he has taught African American literature at the collegiate level (and I think I first learned of him at the “Christ and Pop Culture” blog and podcasts.) In any case, he’s a hero of mine, a fine theological voice offering a wise and urgent invitation to read The Invisible Man (in light of the theology of being made in God’s image) and explore the nature of sin Wright’s Native Son, and study God as found in Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain. Atcho carefully reminds us of the importance of Countee Cullen, Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen and more. From Margaret Walker’s “For My People’ comes an essay on hope and a heavy chapter looks at Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

There is more. We all should know this stuff. Kudos to Atcho and his publisher for doing this kind of amazing work. It makes me glad to be a bookseller, getting to offer wise and Godly insights into this important stream in the flow of American literature. That he does it as a Christian, weaving together insights of theology and congregational life, is beautiful to behold.

Reading for Preaching: The Preacher in Conversation with Storytellers, Biographers, Poets, and Journalists Cornelius Plantinga (Eerdmans) $14.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $11.99

You know how I love this book. I’ve raved about it here and there since it came out a mere decade ago. I think it is classic and commend it, certainly, to preachers and teachers but also to anyone involved in church life or Christian ministry. I assure you that it is entertaining and informative and inspiring and will make you more discerning about good books (and offer great justification for your budget committed to book buying.) Yay.

The Pastor’s Bookshelf: Why Reading Matters for Ministry Austin Carty (Eerdmans) $19.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99 

I’m telling you, seriously, really: get this book for every church leader you know. The title is a bit off-putting for those who are not pastors, but they will love it from the first page on. The author was a contestant and short-lived TV star (on a season of the epic show Survivor) and is a heck of a nice guy. And wise, good pastor. And a very accomplished writer — how could he not be having absorbed so much good writing over the years. No matter how busy you are, or you think you are, or you think your church leadership team is, reading is not something that should be squeezed in on the run. It may feel hard to justify, but it will make you a better person, a more dedicated and accomplished leader, and, yes, a more wholistic, visionary, faithful Christian.

This book is a lot of fun, and it is really important. As Jamie Smith says,

“In this warm and wise book Austin Carty invites pastors to develop capacious reading habits, as wise and curious and wonderful as the world in which they serve.” James K.A. Smith

Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader’s Guide to a More Tranquil Mind Alan Jacobs (Penguin) $16.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $12.80

I hope you know the many books of Alan Jacobs, a stellar example of a thoughtful Christian writer, nearly a public intellectual, offering books such as How to Think and The Pleasures of Reading in a Digital Age (which, naturally, I took with me to show off at my Bayview lectures.) This one, too. It is rich and deep and thoughtful — not too hard, but not simplistic or breezy. Except that there are times that his writing is so smooth that it just propels readers along, thinking as we go. What a great writer of an important book.

There are at least two important things to note here. Firstly, he wrote the book out of his love for young adults (he is a college prof, after all) who, they tell him feel anxious, ill-at-ease, distracted. But there is more to it than just being unable to focus (a la the concerns documented in The Shallows or Alone Together) and he wonders if, in fact, reading older books just might scratch this very modern itch. Can we live less anxiously in the now, embracing what Thomas Pynchon called “personal density”? That’s Jacobs’s project, helping tease out what that density is, and how reading old books can help us embody it.

Secondly, he is right in suggesting that we moderns are not the first to grapple with big questions. As it says on the back “What can Homer teach us about the use of force? How does Frederick Douglass deal with the massive blind spots of America’s Founding Fathers? How can Ursula K. Le Guin show us truths about Virgil’s female characters that Virgil himself could never have seen?” Breaking Bread with the Dead (a line from Auden) offers wisdom beyond what contemporary writers can offer. Although, for those reluctant to dive deep, this book about those older authors is the next best thing. Tolle legge.

Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life Zena Hitz (Princeton University Press) $16.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.56 

I did not mention this at Bayview but if time permitted I might have. It is an invitation “to readers from all walks of life to rediscover the impractical splendors of a life of learning.”
It is a luminous book, a memoir, really, of a scholar exhausted by our overloaded and superficial technological world who sets out to find the gloriously impractical role of high learning. She studied at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, where she is now a tutor. She lived in a monastic community for a while, serving the poor with her hands.  She needed to walk away from elite university life “in search of greater fulfillment.”

Lost in Thought is an amazingly erudite book, serious, rich, eloquent, and poignant. At times a bit funny, even as much of it is pretty deep.

Interestingly, she draws a lot from Augustine and moves gracefully from Goethe to Saint John of the Cross to Philip Steiner’s daunting but important book, Real Pleasures. She quotes the Greeks a lot — the playwrights and the philosophers — and an author I had not heard of, Elena Ferrante. Whew.

Reading Through the Night Jane Tompkins (University of Virginia Press) $19.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.96

I picked this up solely on the title, hoping it was, in fact, about reading straight through the night. In a way, it really is. But, of course, it is more, expressing what reading really is, what it can really do for us. As one advanced note put it, at Booklist, it is “a disarmingly intimate chronicle of reading…”

The author is a celebrated literature professor (with another memoir under her belt called A life in School: What the Teacher Learned) who fell ill to a debilitating illness. She read by day and through the night because it really was all she could do. “She learns, as if by accident,” the back cover explains, “that when you pay close attention to your reactions as you read, literature can be a path to self discovery.”

Since reading is now all she can do, she takes on newer authors and older ones (including the lovely Ann Patchett.) She studies Alain de Botton, Anthony Trollope, and, yes, the aforementioned Elena Ferrante. This is a book about the reading life, about becoming upset by books, about loving books, about being sustained by books, about being transformed by it all, gaining “the entanglement with life” that she mentions.

In Praise of Good Bookstores Jeff Deutsche (Princeton University Press) $19.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.96

I need to have at least one book about bookstores in this list and while this one is more heady than I’d wish (and his famous Chicago store is very different from our own small town shop) it is considered a modern classic. I reviewed the book for Christianity Today last year, and while I warned a bit of a certain ideological tone and a certain sort of elitism that annoyed me. Still, this is a mostly thrilling read about good books, reading widely, and shopping promiscuously in a real store. Yay.


Reading for the Common Good: How Books Help Our Churches and Neighborhoods Flourish C. Christopher Smith (IVP) $16.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $12.80

This is one of my all time favorite books by a fabulous guy who helped found the widely-respected Englewood Review of Books. Chris wrote the wonderful Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus and a book that is more important than it sounds (now more than ever) How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church. Both of these emerge from a strong ecclesiology and from the experience of holding book clubs and book-ish classes in his church and community. Reading for the Common Good is, I would say, one-of-a-kind, magnificent.

Balm in Gilead: A Theological Dialogue with Marilynne Robinson edited by Timothy Larsen & Keith Johnson (IVP Academic) $28.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $22.40

The title’s allusion to the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson is obvious in the title but what doesn’t come across is just how eloquent and lively and interesting all of these many authors are. The chapters emerge from the live proceedings at a conference held at Wheaton College that included Rowan Williams and Lauren Winner and Timothy Larsen and Joel Sheesley and Patricia Audio — and Marilynn Robinson herself. There is the transcript of a great conversation between Rowan Williams and Ms Robinson, the transcript of an interview with Robinson by the college President Philip Ryken, and there is the closing address of the conference by Robinson herself.  Over a dozen chapters, all sweet and intelligent and a great introduction for anyone who has read the Gilead quartet (or other books by Robinson.)

(By the way, if you are in the York area, our church, First Presbyterian Church of York, is hosting its second summer “Third Thursday” outdoor book club on July 20th and we will be informally discussing Gilead. All are welcome, even if you haven’t yet read the thoughtful, slow, moving story.)


Steeped in Stories: Timeless Children’s Novels to Refresh Our Tired Souls Mitali Perkins (Broadleaf Books) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

We like this author a lot and she writes a variety of children’s and YA books, but this one is for adults, inviting us to read children’s stories. She is not the first (and neither is C.S. Lewis, although he perhaps said it best) to remind us that good children’s books are, well, good books, and if they are great, then certainly they will appeal to adults as well. She has a lovely introduction making a sensible case for revisiting some of our treasured youthful reads and then walks us through doing just that with fabulous reviews of a handful of classic YA stories. It’s a lovely, insightful, fun read and you shouldn’t miss it.

As I read an excerpt of this to our Bayview class partipants, I highlighted a great chapter called “Reading Kate DiCamillo” in the fabulous collection of essays by Ann Patchett entitled These Precious Days. I adore that book her the great novelist and bookstore owner narrates her own first encounter (as an adult) reading through the many books of Kate D. What a story! Patcheett is an excellent essayist and storyteller and it just reminds me of how ery important Mitalie Perkin’s lovely compact-sized hardback is. Buy a copy of Steeped in Stories today.

Wild Things and Castles in the Sky: A Guide to Choosing the Best Books for Children edited by Leslie Bustard, Carey Bustard & Thea Rosenburg (Square Halo Books) $29.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $23.99

I will not go on and on about this since I’ve highlighted it several times. But in the category of “books about books” Wild Things and Castles in the Sky is like none other. Granted, it holds a special place in our hearts since we know two of the three co-editors and several of the many writers (one, a dear friend who recently died, the other, her grown daughter who works with kids in New York City.) Still, our loyalty to this central Pennsylvania indie publisher aside, this is simply an amazing book loaded with lovely testimonials of parents and teachers (and others) who have fallen in love with using books with children. They tell stories of books and reading and helping kids grow to appreciate the very best stuff. There are dozens and dozens of age-specific and theme specific lists, too. This book is a treasure-trove, a resource for anyone interested in quality kids books ,especially those of Christian faith who understand the role of books in the lives of young covanant children. Hooray. Please, be sure parents and teachers and grandparents in your circles know about this. They will thank you.

Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies Marilyn McEntyre (Eerdmans) $19.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

I ended my lectures at Bayview highlighting the good work of author (and poet) Marilyn McEntyre. I had already cited a paragraph from her amazing book When Poets Pray so I hope they recalled that gracious, eloquent writing.

The Princeton lectures once given by Abraham Kuyper (who I quoted in the sermon our first morning together), I explained, were called “The Stone Lectures” and they still are offered most years at Princeton Theological Seminary. A good number of years Marilyn McEntyre got to give those lectures and they, naturally, became a book. Her thesis and format were both radical and sensible: we are made by God to steward things in God’s world and, like with natural resources, failing to do so conscientiously can be disastrous, as water and air are fouled and life is endangered. Similarly, she notes, we can suppose that language is a gift of God that we are called upon to steward well. If we don’t, things can get toxic, quickly.

It was somewhat of a big ending. I read to them out loud her table of contents — stewardship strategies, she calls them — as somewhat of a benediction. I leave them with you here, now:

    • Love Words
    • Tell the Truth
    • Don’t Tolerate Lies
    • Read Well
    • Stay in Conversation
    • Share Stories
    • Love the Long Sentence
    • Practice Poetry
    • Attend to Translation
    • Play
    • Pray
    • Cherish Silence




It is very helpful if you tell us how you prefer 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 slow. For one typical book, usually, it’s about $3.85; 2 lbs would be $4.55.
  • United States Postal Service has another 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. 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. Just saying “US Mail” isn’t helpful because there are those two methods, one cheaper but slower, one more costly but quicker. Which do you prefer?


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Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street  Dallastown  PA  17313

Sadly, as of June 2023 we are still closed for in-store browsing. COVID is not fully over. Since few are reporting their illnesses anymore, it is tricky to know the reality but the best measurement is to check the waste water tables to see the amount of virus in the eco-system. It is bad. It’s important to be particularly aware of how risks we take might effect the public good as 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 among younger adults.) It is complicated, we understand, but we are still closed for in-store browsing due to our commitment to public health (and the safety of our family, staff, and customers.) The vaccination rate here in York County is sadly lower than average. Our store is a bit cramped without top-notch ventilation, so we are trying to be wise. 

We will certainly keep you posted about our future plans… we are eager, but delayed, for now.

We are doing our famous 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 old friends and new customers.

Of course, we’re happy to ship books anywhere. 

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

Great New Fiction Reads — including three to pre-order (and one memoir, “How to Stay Married” by Harrison Scott Key) – ON SALE NOW

There are so many novels, old and new, no bookstore can carry them all. But we have a lot, older ones, recent ones, brand new ones. Some are on Christian publishing houses (and some of those are quite good) and some are not. As you probably know, we are a bit different than some religious bookstores in that we curate a selection of fiction that includes some New York Times bestsellers, some standard evangelical fiction, and some great books that are pretty obviously faith-oriented, but on mainstream publishing houses. Having just spent an evening with a book club discussing The River Why by David James Duncan, I’m particularly struck by how it is hard to describe creative fiction, and how hard it is to categorize a book as religious, spiritual, or Christian. Sometimes when somebody asks if we have “Christian fiction” I get smart alecky and suggest Dostoevsky or Dante or Cry the Beloved Country. But I digress.

Here are a handful of novels that are recent (or yet to be released) that we wanted to tell you about. Hope you have some extra time these next months to enjoy the pleasures of good writing and a good story in these thoughtful, contemporary tales.

The very first one is not fiction, but I’m so taken with it, I have to tell you about it. And it feels like a novel — whew; what a plot. And then I’ll list three that you can pre-order now, great forthcoming works you really should know about.

Here we go. All are 20% off. You can order by clicking the link at the very end of the column, down by our logo and the instructions about telling us how you want them shipped. Scroll all the way down to see ’em all. Thanks.

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 to be careful or I could talk about this all day; I will be brief, now. As I noted above, this is not a novel, and I’m sorry (to Key and to gentle readers everywhere) for confusing genres here, but I’m eager to list this now. And, anyway, it feels like a novel, so full of plot twists and character developments and God and sex and grace and cursing and pain and redemption. What a friggin story.

Key is a writer I adore — funny as can be, witty, sardonic at times, and, man, can he craft a good sentence. His writing flows wonderfully, keeping you turning the pages, except when his humor makes you stop and laugh until you cry. And, with this one — the story of a marriage gone sour — you maybe just cry. It’s full of a lot of pathos.

Key wrote the outstanding book about coping — as a sophisticated literature guy — with his dad who cared mostly about God and hunting. It is called The World’s Largest Man and was funny and fascinating, tender and honest. The next one is about his ambition, wanting to live into his sense of calling, to be a published writer, in Congratulations, Who Are You Again? I have written about them both. He is a person of faith, has even been involved in fairly seriously Reformed Southern congregations and I appreciate how he can write about his faith commitments, such as they are, to a mainstream audience. He grips about his big questions, jokes about the odd stuff in the Bible, rejects (but doesn’t despise) his fundamentalist background. In all three books, he is on a journey of formation and discovery.

In this new one, he discovers something pretty awful, which causes all manner of honesty, eventually, in his own soul and with his wife. Both are broken people, more than we realized, and both are trying to figure things out. I have a dozen important things to do and other books I’m happily in the middle of but I stayed up late two nights in a row because I couldn’t stop reading this story about this awful, honest, train wreck, that went from bad to worse to, well, you have to read it yourself to see how in ends. Did I say it is all true? It is not fiction, but you can’t find a better story, complete with some solid nonfiction advice at the end. I loved this book.

Tom Lake: A Novel Ann Patchett (Harper) $30.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $24.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $19.20  NOT YET RELEASED – DUE AUGUST 1, 2023  pre-order now

To prepare for some lectures I’m doing in Northern Michigan, I dipped in to a few of the splendid essays in Patchett’s lovely, lovely, These Precious Days that matched (or maybe surpassed) the wonderful collection, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage. We just recited a coveted advanced copy and, lo and behold, this forthcoming novel is partially set in Northern Michigan on a cherry farm. To see the places we’ll be this very week — Traverse City, Petoskey, and other sites in the “Cherry Capital of the World”  — mentioned in the novel is a blast.

The plot emerges around two young adult daughters who, due to the pandemic in 2020, return to work at their mother’s cherry orchard. They convince their mother to tell her story of her own 24th year. She was an actress, doing Our Town — in a theatre called Tom Lake. It looks to be like a tremendous read.

Sun House David James Duncan (Little, Brown) $35.00  / OUR SALE PRICE = $28.00  NOT YET RELEASED – DUE AUGUST 8, 2023 pre-order now

I do not use this word often — maybe the last time was when there was a whole set of Calvin Seerveld’s books of previously uncollected works being released into the world— but this is a literary event. Truly. Duncan famously wrote the cult-status favorites, The River Why and The Brothers K decades ago. He was said to have been working on a forthcoming novel that, by even cautious standards, might have come out 20 years ago. It has been in the works and many of his fans have been waiting. Geesh, some of them have died. The New York Times did a story a year ago saying a manuscript was in to the publisher and it would come out late in 2022. Nope; it didn’t release.

Now, finally, with a drum roll and what we hope is a lot of attention, the almost 800 page Sun House is coming, due in early August. It is going to be talked about, believe me. It is going to be wild.

There are books that make you a happy insomniac and Sun House is absolutely one of them, like Quixote or Moby or Copperfield, the kind when you wake at three in the morning you remember that beside the bed is a thousand-room mansion of a novel, where every door opens to unexpected weather and a keen sense of appetite. Here is the best part: while these characters come in all shades of funny and searching and rueful and indignant, they are all right there and as wide awake as you are. A new big book from David James Duncan? This is a lucky time to be a reader. — Leif Enger, author of Peace Like a River

“One of the greatest imaginative achievements I’ve encountered in a lifetime of reading.”  — William DeBuys, author of The Tail to Kanjiroba

Hope in the Valley Mitali Perkins (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) $17.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39  NOT YET RELEASED – DUE July 11, 2023  pre-order now

I know that this is a YA novel (they say for ages 8 – 12), but, as Ms Perkins writers in her own amazingly wonderful adult book, Steeped in Stories: Timeless Children’s Novels to Refresh Our Tired Souls, many of the best children’s fiction writers do books that are so good, adults surely love them to. C.S. Lewis said as much, of course, so let’s celebrate that. Whether you have youngsters on your list of summer birthdays or not, buy this for yourself. I am sure it will be as well done and as provocative as her previous books.

Hope in the Valley is about 13-year-old Pandu, an aspiring Indian-American poet, who, as Publisher’s Weekly explains, “struggles to navigate grief and change in her rapidly gentrifying Silicon Valley neighborhood.” This really is a story about grief (her grandmother has died) and, more, urban demolition, about the loss of refuge, and the conflict between nature preservationists and affordable housing advocates. (Pandu’s older sister works for a city group that favors the development project. As PW continues, “Employing Pandu’s lilting voice and quiet bravery, Perkins crafts an introspective novel about moving on from loss and finding the courage to fight for what one believes in.”

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

We admire this great author very much — decades ago I raved about his memoir of his own journey from southern evangelical to Texas Episcopalian (Crossing Myself) and have continued to mention his work over the years. He is a professor at Baylor and has written about faith and film, another about superheroes, among others. He has a forthcoming book releasing in September that I hope to write about soon, The Gospel According to James Baldwin: What America’s Great Prophet Can Teach Us about Life, Love, and Identity (Orbis; $24.00 – OUR SALE PRICE = $19.20.) You can get on the waiting list by pre-ordering it now and we’ll send it as soon as it arrives.

Bastille Day is a fabulous read; my wife and I each had copies and were talking to each other late at night as we each kept wondering what would happen next. It is about a seasoned, very interesting, veteran journalist — traumatized first from being embedded in the hell of the war in Iraq and next from a shooting while doing a street story in Texas — who gets another chance at important work by covering the growing terrorism beat in Europe. He moves to Paris and, as the back cover puts it, “the demons of the past follow close behind.”

The main character, Calvin Jones, carries grief and rage with him and drinks a bit too much at Hemingway’s old bar in the Left Bank. He falls in love, but, man, is it an unusual situation. He meets up with some ecumenically-minded Episcopalians at the Cathedral, covers the horror of the attack in Nice (and, yes, notes that U2 is in town) and struggles with faith and meaning, horror and hope, romance and… well, you get the picture.

This is one of those raw books that, if made into a movie, might get an R rating (for language and brief nudity, and smoking, as the streaming services warn, these days. Raven is a bold and artful new imprint owned by Paraclete, who has always published wise books about faith and the arts, excellent, nuanced, poetry, and, now, has an imprint to push the envelope in terms of tone and style. Yet, finally, this is a deeply spiritual book, a contemporary journey about things that matter most. It’s a fun and affecting story — highly recommended.

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

Garrett writes with intelligence, with wit, with humor, with obvious affection for his characters, with an eye for salient detail. — Elinor Lipman, author of Good Riddance

Search: A Novel Michelle Huneven (Penguin Press) $27.00 (hardcover); $18.00 (paperback)  / OUR SALE PRICES = $21.60 (hardcover);  $14.40 (paperback)  *please tell us which you want

Speaking of realistic fiction set among mainline denominational folks, this is another remarkable story set, in this case, in a Unitarian Universalist congregation — whoever says there is a harsh secular bias in mainstream literature isn’t paying attention. I suspect most of our customers are not UU (I am resolutely Trinitarian, so this is no endorsement of their sort of theology, such as it is.)  Still, to find a novel about a church that gets the details so right is just such a delight.

The “search” in this story may be writ large, and it is a search about how to live well in the world, how to care about different factions with faith communities, the role of institutions in our lives (and, yes, the search for good recipes; you’ll see.) Yet, the plot itself is, in fact, about what most of us call a “search committee.” The pastor of this UU congregation is moving on and some are not unhappy to see him go; others are close to him and frustrated that he’s leaving. Some appreciate his little liturgical innovations, others do not. The main character in this book, Dana Potowski (who wrote the clever, “Preface to the Second Edition” of Search) is, in the story, a woman who went to Methodist seminary for two years, abandoned her desire to be a pastor to take up a career as a food writer and author. She seems less than thrilled with the upbeat style of the current pastor and seems less than vibrant in her faith, of late, yet is invited to be on the search committee.

This isn’t a big spoiler alert, since it is the main pilot device, but Dana, writer that she is, decides to write a memoir about the search process, turning the hard work of finding a pastor (and navigating the notable lifestyle, faith, and personality differences within the search committee) into a book.

And, yes, food writer that she is, there are recipes. Mary Beth Keane, a New York Times Book Review critic says “Huneven’s descriptions of food are the best I’ve ever read.”

This book offers great writing, candid pokes at upscale, church life squabbles, and it is at time pretty funny.

What a great premise for a novel, what a clever and engaging story, and what a good eye Huneven has, for church life and for people and conflict. It isn’t new this month, but the paperback just came out, so it surely should be on this list of great summer reads. We have some of the hardbacks, too, which are nice — if you are ordering, don’t forget to let us know which edition you might prefer.

Michelle Huneven’s Search made me a believer . . . Like Marilynne Robinson with a light vinaigrette, refreshingly candid and transparent . . . We have relatively few novelists willing to write about the role of religion in contemporary life — and even fewer who address spiritual practices with humor, empathy and lived wisdom. Huneven is one of those rare spirits. Religion doesn’t bore or frighten her. She knows what a rich and fraught sanctuary the sanctuary can be. — Ron Charles, The Washington Post

Religious folks of all denominations should find something to make them nod knowingly, laugh out loud and cringe in this telling novel — summer reading at its finest. — Amy Pagliarella, The Presbyterian Outlook

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

This, too, is a novel that Beth and I both raced through — both so absorbed that we didn’t realize at first the other was reading it. We both enjoyed it very much and found much to discuss. (Maybe I liked it more than she did; I’m not sure of that, now.) I give it four out of five stars, last least.

The story, interestingly, is, again, set in Michigan and is explicitly Christian. Rugged and raw — especially the lines of one foul-mouthed, rough character — it is clear (from the worldview implied in the story but also from the acknowledgements page) that Webster Hein is a church-going Christian. She has an MFA from a fine school in New England but lives in the upper Midwest. The small, nearly rural town in which the story is set, Esau, could be any small town in America. At least anywhere there is snow.

Besides snow, there is great sadness, some kind (and some unkind) neighbors, and a plot that is both tender and chilling. One of the main characters, Robert Glory, is a Baptist pastor of Native descent, who did not know his birth mother, who, curiously, appears in Esau, despite her poverty and ill-health, looking for her long lost son. There is another woman in the story whose faith is ebbing and maybe returning even as she faces the pain of a harsh marriage. Why is the pastor so kind to her? Is she attracted to him, a decent man who cares?

I suppose this is a skewed sort of love story, but much more than that. Published by Counterpoint (a publisher created by, among others, Wendell Berry), you know it will be a finely told story, well crafted, and well worth reading. Neither Beth nor I could put it down.

Out of Esau is a tremendous achievement. A literary page-turner with prose that dips and soars, and characters that leap off the page. I was deeply moved by this tale of love, faith, and family, and I know you will be, too. This wonderful novel is one of the best books of the year. — David Heska Wanbli Weiden, author of Winter Counts

Out of Esau is a wonder of a novel. I fell in love with these characters and found myself continuously astonished by the depth and range of Michelle Webster Hein’s emotional intelligence, lyric touch, and ability to fully inhabit the tender bodies of others. An unflinching look at poverty, place, generational trauma, resiliency, faith, spirit, and love, these pages radiate with compassion and generosity, and shimmer with moments of beauty and insight. Out of Esau is a propulsive and masterfully spun web. — Robin MacArthur, author of Heart Spring Mountain

The Seed Keeper: A Novel Diane Wilson (Milkweed Editions) $18.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

This beautiful novel by the quintessentially indie Minnesota publisher of high literature, nature writing, and poetry, is not brand new, but we just discovered it. It came out last year to ringing endorsements, about an indigenous woman’s struggle “for belonging and community.” And to preserve her Dakhota way of life. Rosalie Iron Wing, the main character, a Native woman, is an “orphan, widow, and mother — journalist and gardener.” Her white husband’s farm had been treated first by drought and then by a predatory chemical company, and Rosalie must confront the past and somehow embrace a future.

As it say on the back, alluding to so much, Rosalie learns:

What it means to be descended from women with souls of iron, women who have protected their families, their traditions, and a precious cache of sees through generations of hardship and loss.

Ahh, a “cache of seeds.” This gracefully told story is, finally, about all that seeds might represent. There are book blurbs by the great Winona LaDuke and the only fiction endorsement I have seen by Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of the unforgettable Braiding Sweetgrass.

With compelling characters and images that linger long after the final page is turned, The Seed Keeper invokes the strength that women, land, and plants have shared with one another through the generations.” — Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

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

We have highlighted this a time or two before and we are grateful for those who ordered it. We are big Kingsolver fans (including her two collections of splendid nonfiction essays, by the way.) Her novel previous to this newest one, Unsheltered, set in Vineland, New Jersey, is one of my most-cherished recent novels, if not an all time fav. Beth adored this harsh, remarkable new one, and it is on my list of upcoming summer reads.

By all accounts, Demon Copperhead, is a stunning literary achievement. It is, essentially, a modern day version of Dickens David Copperfield. It has won important acclaim and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2023.

You probably know that the famed black writer, James Baldwin, was decisively shaped by Dickens who, he understood, was filled with rage in a way that made sense, and could perhaps even be redemptive. I only say this to note that this is not a cute or cheery tale of urchins. It is, of course, wonderfully written, but, as the Minneapolis Star Tribune reviewer put it, she is “a writer who can help us understand and navigate the chaos of these times.”

This is a story set in Appalachia and is largely about the opioid crisis and the horrors that descend consequent to that broad, deadly problem.

The flyleaf begins:

Demon Copperhead is the story of a boy born to a teen-age 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 of survival.

The plot “never pauses for a breath” and is relayed in the sparing voice of the boy named Demon, in the mountains of Southern Appalachian. Beth is still pondering it, unforgettable as it is.

The Year of Jubilee: A Novel Cindy Morgan (Tyndale) $16.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59

This is a new novel from the evangelical fiction imprint of Tyndale, a longstanding publisher in the religious marketplace. Yet, this story is no simplistic read, full of cliches or sentimentalities. It is tense and serious, set among the hardscrabble life of the working poor, and, finally, a story of inspiration and hope written by a very gifted storyteller. Cindy Morgan, some of our readers will recall, was a popular contemporary Christian music singer-songwriter who was nominated twice for Grammy Awards (and won a breathtaking thirteen Dove Awards.) She continues to do very thoughtful work. In any case, Morgan is a true artist, a notable songstress, a nonfiction writer, and is well suited to crafting a story of nuance, heartbreak and hope. This is her first novel.

This coming-of-age story is about the Mockingbird family from Jubilee, Kentucky. It is set in 1963, revolves around an urgent medical situation when the youngest child falls gravely ill. There are, they say, “swirling, conflicting voices” of those that the main character loves the most, asking her what she really believes.

Some stories are told, others, like The Year of Jubilee are woven into the reader’s heart. With honesty and bravery, a compelling coming-of-age heroine confronts ignorance and racial prejudice in the deep South while wrestling with her own pastor demons — and learning the price of forgiveness. A beautiful story wondrously told.” — Tamera Alexander, author, Colors of Truth

Our Missing Hearts: A Novel Celeste Ng (Penguin Press) $29.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $23.20

My, my, I’m sure you’ve at least heard of Celeste Ng. Perhaps you have read her stunning Everything I Never Told You or her best-selling Little Fires Everywhere (or perhaps you watched the passionate, well-made TV series.) She is one of Beth’s favorite writers, and she snatched this up the day it arrived last fall, even before we had heard it had been chosen for Reese’s Book Club.

It is a complicated story, I’m told, by an author who is known for being “utterly engrossing, often heartbreaking, deeply empathetic.” She is doubtlessly a confident, compelling author, bold and wise and compassionate. And has deeply attuned sense of the experience of others, a sense of justice.

Our Missing Hearts is a bit different than the previous two, an adventure story set in what is perhaps a nearly dystopian not-to-distant future, with Ng creating a believable space of bigotry and book banning, tracing the lives of poets and writers facing a nearly fascist authoritarianism. It is a story tender with the love of a boy and a mother he has not met and — through an underground network librarians — is hoping to find. The publishers say it is finally a story about “the power — and the limitations — of art to change, the lessons and legacies we pass to our children, and how any of us can survive a broken world with our hearts intact.”

Yellowface R.F. Huang (William Morrow) $30.00  / OUR SALE PRICE = $24.00

I’ll admit it, reluctantly as I hate to be seen as that kind of person: I didn’t like the title or the awful cover of this book, so even though book industry hype was strong and I kept seeing it in my own professional social media feeds, I just wasn’t interested. Then I read a great review. And another mostly good one in the New York Times. My, my, what a fascinating tale. Zakiya Dalila Harris (who wrote The Other Black Girl) says it “is one of the most transfixing novels I’ve read in ages.” She explains that Huang is boldly interrogating “literary hot-button issues like privilege, appropriation, and authenticity, leaving it open for readers themselves to decide where to draw the line”

The plot of Yellowface is crazy. Two women writers, one an Asian-American, are together when one, the popular but private about her drafts and manuscripts, the one of Asian background, suddenly dies. The first woman, less successful in her writing career, takes the dead woman’s manuscript, passing it off as her own.

There it is: beyond appropriation, but theft, dishonesty, and plagiarism. But — satire that it is — the story moves along, offering all kinds of questions about race and authenticity, about greed and truth and art. It raises these questions (what one reviewer called “white performativity”) within the publishing industry, the writing world, the fame of beloved authors and more. Call it a brilliant (or “spicy” as Tracey Lien calls it) satire, it’s surely one heck of a great read.

A History of the Island: A Novel Eugene Vodolazkin (Plough Publishing) $26.95 / OUR SALE PRICE = $21.56

We are grateful for our friends at Plough Publishing for the exquisite taste in publishing and for championing the translations of this remarkable, heavy, genius writer. Eugene Vodolazkin is — get this — a Ukrainian writer (born in Kyiv in 1964) who lives in Russia — and is known throughout Eastern Europe (and beyond) for being a wise and decent voice. A modern Tolstoy or Dostoevsky, perhaps? Perhaps time will tell.

Mr. Vodolazkin is maybe best known for the thoughtful, charming paperback, Laurus, about a medieval doctor, travelling the countryside to offer healing and grace; it won both of Russia’s major literary awards. In 2019, he won the Solzhenitsyn Prize, and now works in the department of Old Russian Literature at Pushkin House. He is an expert in medieval history and folklore.

One customer and friend, a good author himself, appreciates Laurus so, he has ordered several from us to send to those he has ministered to.

We have sold Brisbane, too, a handsome hardback book Beth adored, by the way, when Plough released it last year. To have this peacemaking community (the Bruderhof, who runs Plough) honor this Ukrainian, by releasing it during the war seemed honorable and good. Ends up the novel was rich and deep, as well.

A History of the Island may be even richer and deeper, and just as quirky. It is, ostensibly, the story of a man, and another, telling the story of their beloved island. It seems, through it all, these monks — described as “devious and devout” — are offering a lavish and witty critique of Western civilization and the notion of history itself. Or so the Plough folks say.

This island, by the way, is not on any map. But here is what they say. It is “real beyond doubt.”

Consider this remarkable book endorsement:

“A masterpiece by one of Europe’s finest contemporary novelists.” — Rowan Williams

The Trackers: A Novel Charles Frazier (Ecco) $30.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $24.00

This is quite recent and has already gotten a lot of national press. I do not recall the last time Frazier released a new novel — he is known for his evocative, well-researched prose (who “elevates the historical fiction genre” as USA Today put it.) Yet, the writing is always large-hearted and vivid and top-notch storytelling. I hope you know his famous

The plot is sprawling and a bit wild. It deserves a soundtrack by somebody like Americana singer-songwriter Bill Mallonee. Here is how they describe it:

Hurtling past the downtrodden communities of Depression-era America, painter Val Welch travels westward to the rural town of Dawes, Wyoming. Through a stroke of luck, he’s landed a New Deal assignment to create a mural representing the region for their new Post Office.

A wealthy art lover named John Long and his wife Eve have agreed to host Val at their sprawling ranch. Rumors and intrigue surround the couple: Eve left behind an itinerant life riding the rails and singing in a western swing band. Long holds shady political aspirations, but was once a WWI sniper — and his right hand is a mysterious elder cowboy, a vestige of the violent old west. Val quickly finds himself entranced by their lives.

One day, Eve flees home with a valuable painting in tow, and Long recruits Val to hit the road with a mission of tracking her down. Journeying from ramshackle Hoovervilles to San Francisco nightclubs to the swamps of Florida, Val’s search for Eve narrows, and he soon turns up secrets that could spark formidable changes for all of them.

In The Trackers, singular American writer Charles Frazier conjures up the lives of everyday people during an extraordinary period of history that bears uncanny resemblance to our own. With the keen perceptions of humanity and transcendent storytelling that have made him beloved for decades, Frazier has created a powerful and timeless new classic.

Reviews have been consistently positive, intriguing, remarkable. It’s on my list for the dog days of later in the summer, for sure.

Frazier deftly blends an historical perspective throughout his fictional tale…Even though it’s set 86 years ago, there are moments that are eerie in their echoes of the present…There’s a lot more worth savoring in The Trackers, including reflections on the meaning of art, the mythos of the American West, and what it really takes to start again. But Val is our narrator and after a transcontinental adventure, the book satisfyingly ends where it began, with Val working on his mural in Dawes, Wyoming, adding a couple final details to complete the painting. — Associated Press

The Book of Susan: A Novel Melanie K. Hutsell (Raven) $18.00  / OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

We have been wanting to do a nice shout out about this new novel since it first released in the new fiction imprint of Paraclete, Raven. Committed to realistic, artfully told, faith-based stories, Raven is a remarkable new contribution to fiction publishing. In any case, this is an amazing story, a mysterious and moving story written about a character with bipolar disorder. There is, as it summarized on the back cover, “derailment, diagnosis, and the discovery of a lifetime.”

Dr. Susan Huffman is the main character, wife to a judge and a tenure-track, Southern college professor. Her mind’s reliability is, as with all of us, but certainly for a rather up-tight and strategically planning professor, of central importance in her life. And then the visions begin. Is God really speaking to her? How does she know? The great Katherine James (author of Can You See Anything Now? And A Prayer for Orion) says it is “a page-turner of a story and yet a book to be slowed studied for the genuine wisdom it reveals.” The famous Southern novelist Silas House says it is “profound and compulsively readable” and “offers us an unforgettable character in lyrical and accessible prose.”

Another small fascinating, and perhaps how the story can ring so true, is that the author, a poet, novelist, and native of east Tennessee, has been learning to live with bipolar disorder for more than fifteen years. She knows what she’s writing about.  Kudos to her for this brave story and kudos (once again) to the good folks at Paraclete Press.

My Father’s House: A Novel Joseph O’Connor (Europa Editions) $27.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $21.60

Speaking of historical fiction written with a contemporary style, Joseph O’Connor has been a best-selling author’s storyteller beloved by many, especially those who appreciate international authors. He has won awards across the continent (he teaches literature in Limerick, Ireland) and won awards in places as diverse as Costa Rica and France. His Shadowplay was named Novel of the Year at the 2019 Irish Book Award. Star of the Sea was published in nearly 40 languages!

We discovered this overseas sensation when a customer told us that My Father’s House was one of the best historical novels he has ever read. Publisher Weekly called it “a storytelling tour de force” and a review from the Irish Times said it was “riveting” It seems to bring the “heroism of ordinary individuals thrillingly to life”

It is, quite plainly, a story of resistance to the Nazis, set in 1943 in Rome, showcasing one man’s courage despite the brutality and cost. Wow.

A potent blend of excitement, suspense and intrigue… A gripping World War II-set drama featuring the unlikeliest of heroes, one whom the reader roots for every step of the way… hugely satisfying. — Malcom Forbes, Washington Post




It is very helpful if you tell us how you prefer 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 slow. For one typical book, usually, it’s about $3.85; 2 lbs would be $4.55.
  • United States Postal Service has another 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. 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. Just saying “US Mail” isn’t helpful because there are those two methods, one cheaper but slower, one more costly but quicker. Which do you prefer?


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Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street  Dallastown  PA  17313

Sadly, as of June 2023 we are still closed for in-store browsing. COVID is not fully over. Since few are reporting their illnesses anymore, it is tricky to know the reality but the best measurement is to check the waste water tables to see the amount of virus in the eco-system. It’s important to be particularly aware of how risks we take might effect the public good. It is complicated for us, so we are still closed for in-store browsing due to our commitment to public health (and the safety of our family, staff, and customers.) The vaccination rate here in York County is sadly lower than average. Our store is a bit cramped without top-notch ventilation, so we are trying to be wise. 

We will certainly keep you posted about our future plans… we are eager, but delayed, for now.

We are doing our famous 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 old friends and new customers.

Of course, we’re happy to ship books anywhere. 

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

An epic Hearts & Minds list of books on technology, AI, digital culture, and navigating cyberspace — 20% OFF

The other day an on-line customer thanked me for writing a chatty little reply as we acknowledged her order. We view our mail-order work as more than merely transactional so we enjoy cultivating in a small way a shopping experience that is something other than automatic and impersonal. What she said, though, made me chuckle.

She said she was glad to get a note which obviously wasn’t generated by AI. I think that was a happy compliment but it made me wonder — how does she know it isn’t autogenerated by a chatbot? I’m guessing my malapropisms and the occasional typo gives it away, but still…

Which brings me to this: another friend recently said, wisely, that people of faith simply must be speaking into this whole area of AI and should be offering insight about the proper role of technology in our lives, the nature of God’s world and normative principles that might influence a faithful unfolding of the possibilities for stewarding the digital reality. Cyberspace is one “sphere” or realm in God’s created order, after all; if Colossians 1 is to be believed, Christ created it, upholds it, is working reconciliation through it, and wants to be seen preeminent within it. The frustrating thing to me, or so I told my friend, was that such a call — for people of faith to be offering leadership in the ethical and appropriate opening-up and use of digital technologies, from AI to virtual reality down to more ordinary habits of how we use our cell phones and TikTok apps — can sometimes be sounded as if there hasn’t been considerable thought given to these things within the faith community already. That is, Christian scholars — philosophers of science, engineers, digital designers, computer scientists, and the like — have for decades been writing about (a) technology and (b) computer science and (c) ordinary virtues for typical users of games, phones, screens, bots, and so forth.

So, sure, we desperately need wise “sons and daughters of Issachar” (1 Chronicles 12:32) who understand the times and know what a Godly response might be, and we need scholarly brainstorming about all manner of philosophical implications of this newfangled world we find ourselves in, theologians and Christians in science and philosophy and the tech world working together to help us discern a way forward — in but not of the current zeitgeist(s). But, also, we can be grateful, very grateful, for all the good work already done — illustrated in the dozens and dozens of books written in the last decades offering a Christian assessment of and a guide into embodied faithfulness in the use of modern tools and myriad digital technologies.

My friend, it seems, had little appreciation of how many substantial voices there have been, and how much good and balanced and thoughtful insight there is, not exactly a consensus, but a common vibe, perhaps. Some err on the side of being a bit negative, worried about sinful idolatries and dehumanizing implications and some err on the side of being a bit too optimistic, naive about the distortions and dangers embedded in the digital realm, but most are deeply aware of the good, the bad, and the ugly. I praise the Lord for those who have done pioneering work in this emerging area, and hope that even these recommendations here of just some of the books on our Dallastown shelves might help shape the public conversation about these urgent matters.

There is no need to moan about the church’s voice not being developed, although many folks (from church-going tech professionals to most ordinary people) may not have heard or understood or taken to heart the wise counsel of so many authors over the last decades. Some bookstores don’t carry this kind of stuff. I get it. But the work has been done; kudos! Now we book evangelists just have to get the word out, sharing far and wide the provisional Godly perspectives, the books written, about this whole realm of God’s good creation that seems so disorienting to many of us, and so natural to others.

In this BookNotes column I will list a good bunch of such books as illustrative of the efforts that have been offered thus far. The list is nowhere near comprehensive, but, as is often the case here, I will name some of the best books that have emerged in the last few generations about appropriate technology, Christian thinking about engineering, and especially computer science and our daily lives in a high-tech, digital world. It’s rough and not even close to complete and certainly not all that needs to be said. But it is my quick bookseller’s overview, for you. and yours. No ChatGPT written stuff from here, either.  Enjoy.

As always, it is best to order through our secure website order page, shown at the end of this BookNotes column. Sometimes good friends send wonderfully lovely notes ending in “send that book” or “I gotta read that one.” Alas, sometimes it isn’t clear where we are to send the items (if at all) and how the customer wants to pay. However you order, know that we are deeply grateful for your support of our project here in south central PA (and all over, thanks to cyberspace and good, old-fashioned mail order.) Just be sure your orders are clear about what you want and how you want to pay so that we can serve you well. All items mentioned are 20% off. THANKS.

There are four sections. The first listing will be foundational, even classic literature about understanding the technological age. Some of these were written before computers or the possibilities of the internets were upon us.

Then I will list what might be considered more recent voices helping Christians develop a theological and spiritually-sane approach to digital technology. Some of these were written a decade ago, some much more recently, each one more or less relevant today. Again, these are fairly heavy on analysis. A few will be about congregations, too, doing ministry in an age of virtual reality.

I will then recommend a few books on artificial intelligence.

Lastly I suggest some (mostly) recent titles that tend to be more practical in nature, thoughtful, but for ordinary device users. Several of these are really important and should be in every church library, everywhere.


Technics and Civilization  Lewis Mumford (The University of Chicago Press) $31.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $24.80

Respected by many of our best social thinkers and prophets in the 20th century, Mumford was a legendary and respected historian who wrote about cities and urban planning, the arts, and, importantly, this compelling history of the machine and its effect on civilization. Presented in 1934, he argued, among other things, that the development of modern technology had its roots in the Middle Ages rather than the Industrial Revolution. I’ve been meaning to read this for almost 50 years, I think…. One of these days.

The Technological Society Jacques Ellul  (Vintage) $14.95 / OUR SALE PRICE = $11.96

Originally published in France in 1954 and in its English translation in 1964, it remains one of the most important social critiques of the 20th century, highly regarded in mainstream secular circles and among those who knew Ellul was a serious Christian, informed by thoughtful, radically Protestant theology. There are many more books penned by this profound critic, and even more about him. This is a vital touchstone, monumental and prophetic.



Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life: A Philosophical Inquiry Albert Borgmann (The University of Chicago Press) $37.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $29.60

Written in the early 1980s, revised in 1987, this late, brilliant Montanan, Catholic philosopher was befriended, eventually, by the wise Eugene Peterson, who cited him often. This is a heady and deep study, very important.



Power Failure: Christianity in the Culture of Technology Albert Borgmann (Brazos Press) $20.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00

More focused, and succinct, this one was written in 2003 for a more religious readership is his splendid this Brazos Press release. For some, this is his most important work because it is accesible and clear; it still is a philosophically rigorous volume and offers deep reflections on how theological notions (and Christian practices) might influence our supposing what technology is all about.

Note his chapter on being communities of celebration, his work on festivity, and, of course, the chapter “The Culture of the Word and the Culture of the Table.” All trying to help us navigate the “power failures” of our contemporary technocratic culture.

Holding On To Reality: The Nature of Information at the Turn of the Millennium Albert Borgmann (The University of Chicago Press) $28.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $22.40

This came out in 1999, a blend of his brilliance in Technology and the Character… and his important Crossing the Postmodern Divide. Margaret Wertheim (in the LA Weekly) called it “insightful and poetic” which the New Scientist said it was “a superb new anecdotal analysis of information for a hype-addled age.” Whew.



Technology and the Good Life? edited by Eric Higgs, Andrew Light, & David Strong (The University of Chicago Press) $25.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $20.79

This compiles what Langdon Winner calls “spirited philosophical voices” to honor and ask about the work of Albert Borgmann, examining his philosophy and view of culture and technology from a variety of perspectives. One critic noted that it “straddles Heidegger’s Germany and postwar America” and thereby offers important history and deep analysis about technology and the human condition. This is good stuff, deep and rich.


Technology and the Future: A Philosophical Challenge Egbert Schuurman (Paideia Press) $19.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

Egbert Schuurman is a Dutch neo-Calvinist who studied reformational philosophy under Herman Dooyeweerd at Kuyper’s university in Amsterdam which gave him an astute handle to see technology as essentially good (as created and ordered by God’s Word), even though fallen and idolatrous, and yet being redeemed by the gospel of the Kingdom. Until his retirement he taught engineering at a university in Holland, but also courses of deep cultural analysis.

I used a small collection of his essays — now long out of print — with engineering students when I worked in campus ministry in the late 1970s. Technology and the Future is his most serious philosophical study, dense, thick and for those inclined towards this philosophical treatise, nearly unparalleled.

The Technological World Picture and an Ethics of Responsibility: Struggles in the Ethics of Technology Egbert Schuurman (Dordt College Press) $12.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $10.39

Translated less than a decade ago by the late, great philosopher at Dordt, John Kok, this is a rigorous but brief book — about 80 pages. Here is how the publisher describes it:

What does the Judeo-Christian tradition have to say about a responsible ethics of technology? In these pages, Schuurman discusses the need for an ethics of technology and the spiritual-historical background of modern technology. The spirit of the Enlightenment has produced a scientific-technological picture of the world, with an ethical mix of values and norms that is still current. But there are alternative approaches. After drawing attention to the cosmological and the ethical deficiencies in contemporary ethics, Schuurman makes a case for a different approach that starts with the “enlightenment of the Enlightenment,” that addresses these deficiencies, and that implies a cultural paradigm different from the current one. He frames ethics as an ethics of responsibility and highlights the priorities, values, and norms that such an ethic implies. He also speaks to concrete possibilities inherent to this approach that could reorient our technological culture and that would lead to political changes as well. His is a new perspective that will undoubtedly involve struggle, but it also affords hope.

Responsible Technology edited by Stephen V. Monsma (Eerdmans/ Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship) $27.50 / OUR SALE PRICE = $22.00

Now out of print, but still stocked at Hearts & Minds, this brilliant book is the only one of its kind, offering an interdisciplinary, overtly Christian study of technology and foundational principles for engineering. Some of it may be dated for modern-day engineers (and it doesn’t deal with computer or digital technologies) but its view of technology and its role in culture is brilliant. As you might guess from the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship it understands and grapples with Ellul’s analysis of the negative consequences and dangers of technology while still affirms that the possibility of “fabrication” is God-given and able to be redeemed, durable, even, for the new creation.

An old friend and astute scholar, Kenn Hermann of Kent State University, wrote of it back in the 1980s:

Responsible Technology makes a significant, much-needed contribution to developing a distinctly Christian perspective on the influential role technology plays in our culture. The range of issues discussed, the depth of insight, the sensitivity to biblical directives, and the cogent presentation are all impressive. The articulation of specific biblically rooted norms that ought to guide and shape our responsibility before the Lord in fabricating and using technological objects is particularly illuminating. All thoughtful Christians, whether professionals, academics, or concerned citizens, will want to read and ponder the implications of this book for guiding their obedience in a technological society.

The Whale and the Reactor: A Search for Limits in an Age of High Technology Langdon Winner (The University of Chicago Press) $26.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $20.80

A serious read, this wisely asks us to search for limits. Although not overtly from a Christian perspective, many consider it a “must read.”  It was published to much acclaim in 1988, I think. Classic — and a good way to think about ongoing questions of our technological age.




Beyond Paradise: Technology and the Kingdom of God Jack Swearengen (Wipf & Stock) $45.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $36.00

Jack is a rare Christian leader who has worked in engineering, has taught, has worked in the private industry sector and was a government staffer, a top consultant to the White House years ago in the technologies of dismantling nuclear weapons. He has read widely, thought deeply, and draws on tons of experiences, making this a major contribution, not nearly known widely enough.


Confronting Technology: The Theology of Jacques Ellul Matthew T. Prior (Pickwick Publications) $35.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $28.00

Part of the Princeton Theological Monograph Series, this Anglican priest offers what some consider to be the best introductory and serious overview of the vision of Jacques Ellul. Weighty and detailed, it is endorsed by one of the leading interpreters of Ellul today, David Gill, who says it is “nothing less than a masterpiece.”

“Nothing less than a masterpiece.” David Gill

Gill insists, “All readers of Ellul and all students of theology and technology should put this book on the top of their reading list. It really is that good.”

Choices at the Heart of Technology Ruth Conway (Trinity Press International) $32.95 / OUR SALE PRICE = $26.36

This little book came out in the UK in the 1990s and it was prescient. Who knew?

Ruth Conway, who has worked with the World Council of Churches, was a founding member of the VALIDATE (Values in Design and Technology Education) network, initially associated with the British Council of Churches and later linked with professional associations of technology educators. She has explored the beliefs and commitments that lie behind the value judgments made in the development of any specific technology.

The paperback is small but it is exceptionally thought provoking, part of the “Christian Mission and Modern Culture” series (inspired, in part, by the work of Lesslie Newbigin.) Here is something the publisher said about it, even though the back cover is more inviting and gentle:

What really drives the technologies that dominate our modern world? Ruth Conway here brings under scrutiny: the deceptive dreams of development, the masculine “voice and structure” of so much technology, the obsession with control that obliterates both recognition of human fallibility and sensitivity to the needs of “the other,” the inadequacies of technologies that fail to take account of the “wholeness” of life and what might constitute “justice” (right relationships) within the human community and with nature, and the impact of information and communication technologies on our ways of relating to one another.

Illusions of Freedom: Thomas Merton & Jacques Ellul on Technology and the Human Condition Jeffrey M. Shaw (Pickwick Publications) $29.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $23.20

The late Albert Borgmann wistfully notes that “Jeffrey Shaw has carefully arranged in a book what never took place in reality, a conversation between Ellul and Merton.” Actually, Merton aficionados know of his great interest in Ellul, having read a French edition of The Technological Society before a famous peacemaking retreat with several important religious activists. Phillip Thompson of the Aquinas Center of Theology at Emory University says it is “an important contribution” about how to “preserve our freedom when we are being seduced by the false technical ideals of efficiency, productivity, and utility.”

Returning to Reality: Thomas Merton’s Wisdom for a Technological World Phillip M. Thompson (Cascade Books) $21.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $16.80

Several remarkable scholars have all raved about this, from Albert Borgmann (of the University of Montana) to Lawrence Cunningham (of University of Notre Dame.) Naturally, the monk Tom Merton will be a guide to walking us towards a “contemplative critique” of our manufactured apocalypse. (Did you know Merton read Ellul in the French before the English translation hit America?) There is even a speculative but prophetic chapter asking what Merton might say about transhumanism. About 100 pages.

God and Gadgets: Following Jesus in a Technological Age Brad J. Kallenberg (Cascade Books) $26.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $20.80

With blurbs on the back from Stanley Hauerwas, who reminds us of Kallenberg’s background in engineering, deep study of philosophy (Wittgenstein, if you must know) and “shaped by Christian theological conditions”, this really does offer helpful insight about resisting and affirming the “mixed blessing” of our technological culture and digital age.

I will never forget when Jamie Smith had a picture of it on a screen during a major address at the Jubilee conference in Pittsburgh with over 3000 college students, and a fire alarm went off (it had malfunctioned, we later found out, and there was no fire) causing us to evacuate the hotel conference center. When the beep, beep, beeping, began I first thought it was something Jamie had done on purpose to illustrate the point that Kallenberg makes, reminding us of the dangers of an uncritical experience of technology that may hamper our faithful practice and witness. Anyway, Smith liked God and Gadgets a lot and we highlight it here, without any alarms going off.

Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology Neil Postman (Vintage) $16.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $12.80

The famed New York Jewish media critic explores why our loyalty to “technique” — channeling Ellul — is so very dangerous. He winsomely explores the implications of modernization with its idols of efficiency (no matter what!) and inspires us to be what he calls “loving resistance fighters.” It has been described as witty and yet an “often terrifying” work of cultural criticism. Not as obtuse as Ellul or as philosophical as Borgmann, this is a must-read for those wanting to understand an early concern about the dehumanizing influences of technology and the “more/faster is better” spirit of modern progress. Very highly recommended for one concerning assessment.

The Mind and the Machine: What It Means to Be Human and Why It Matters Matthew Dickerson (Brazos Press) $19.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99 (while supplies last; it has been reprinted and the new price is now considerably more.)

Matthew is known for writing about his beloved Hobbits and has both popular and exceptionally scholarly work on environmental science in both Middle Earth and Narnia. He has memoirs of fishing and a great book about epic narratives. This, though, is “an engaging and probing exploration of some of the fundamental questions humans ask about themselves.” Publishers Weekly called it “complex and thoughtful” and Peter Kreeft raved, saying it is “an accessible introduction to the central questions about human nature” and, of course, thereby is poking against the techno gurus who (as Quentin Schultze put it in his fine endorsement) “reduce human beings to machine-like creatures supposedly in the name of progress.”

Habits of the High-Tech Heart: Living Virtuously in the Information Age Quentin Schultze (Baker Academic) $22.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $17.60 while supplies last

This came out in 2002 and at the time it became one of my most-recommended books; I still love it, especially for its deeper study of virtue — the kind of people we must be if we are going to live well in these days. Oddly, it didn’t sell as well as it might have; it seemed to me that it was very badly needed, but ahead of its time. Oh, if it were still in print! (We only have a few left.) With blurbs from major scholars like Walter Ong (Orality and Literacy) and thought leaders like Richard Mouw, and with a lucid foreword by political theorist Jean Bethke Elshtain, it was a masterpiece of a book, thoughtful, useful, wise. Yes!

The Soul of Cyberspace Douglas Groothuis (Wipf & Stock) $19.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $15.20 (while supplies last; the new price is now considerably more.)

This was first released in late 1990s by the great Trinity Forum in a splendid little series of short books called “Hourglass Books” that tackled, for ordinary thoughtful readers, meaningful and important aspect of our cultural malaise. The series intended to help us be “in the world but not of it” and to become true agents of “salt and light” by firstly thinking well about a topic, in light of a Biblical worldview. This was perhaps the first serious book I read about cyberspace and the ethics of living well in this then new digital realm. Even as folks were beginning to embrace computers, we couldn’t get anyone to buy it. It is a shame, too, as it was prescient.

The always profound Ken Myers (of Mars Hill Audio Journal) wrote this about it:

While most Christians are content with a superficial and pragmatic assessment of the new information technologies, Douglas Groothuis probes more deeply. He wisely recognizes the symbolic power of technology: machines don’t just do things, they shape us by equipping our imaginations and language with powerful new images, metaphors, and assumptions. Groothuis has done a great service in alerting us to the temptations that will challenge the twenty-first century church, and in providing the tools to discern what is real, what is true, and what is to be treasured. — Ken Myers

Information Technology and Cyberspace: Extra-Connected Living? David Pulling (Pilgrim Press) $16.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $12.80  while supplies last

This is out of print but we still have a few, having stocked it for anyone interested in a thoughtful, even progressive Christian reflection on computer technologies. With a blurb by then-Archbishop of Wales, Rowen Williams (who said it provided “first class tools for ethical reflection”) we knew it was reflecting well on how IT and e-commerce (as it was then called) shaped the experience of daily living. What are the implications for Christian belief and practice? Who is my neighbor in a world shaped by cyberspace?

This was innovative and profound in its early manifestation of Christian thinking. I doubt the author ever imagined how deeply linked in we are just two decades after his reflections offered here.  Fascinating.

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains Nicolas Carr (Norton) $17.95 / OUR SALE PRICE = $14.36

This remains one of the most important books I’ve read in my life, and I can’t say enough about it. Expanding his famous “Is Google Making Us Dumb?” piece in The Atlantic, nominated in 2010 for a Pulitzer Prize, this shows how Carr, a great literary mind and professional book reviewers, felt his capacity slipping due to, he discovered, reading too much spiffy short-form pieces online.  Called by one critic “a measured manifesto” it is game-changing, vital, and we wish it were better known and widely discussed.

The subtitle of Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains leads one to expect a polemic in the tradition of those published in the 1950s about how rock ‘n’ roll was corrupting the nation’s youth. But this is no such book. It is a patient and rewarding popularization of some of the research being done at the frontiers of brain science … Mild-mannered, never polemical, with nothing of the Luddite about him, Carr makes his points with a lot of apt citations and wide-ranging erudition. — Christopher Caldwell, Financial Times

Ultimately, The Shallows is a book about the preservation of the human capacity for contemplation and wisdom, in an epoch where both appear increasingly threatened. Nick Carr provides a thought-provoking and intellectually courageous account of how the medium of the Internet is changing the way we think now and how future generations will or will not think. Few works could be more important. — Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain and Reader, Come Home.

Appletopia: Media Technology and the Religious Imagination of Steve Jobs Brett T. Robinson (Baylor University press) $24.95 / OUR SALE PRICE = $19.96

The brilliant and widely read Nicholas Carr (The Shallows) says “as expansive as it is concise, Brett Robinson’s Appletopia provides an astute and often scintillating examination of Steve Jobs and the Apple Way.” Scintillating is putting it mildly — Q Schultze uses words like splendid and fun and fascinating, but finally says this study of the deeply spiritual meanings of the Mac (and of Jobs himself) is a “prophetic read.” Indeed. The pictures (of the Apple Store in NYC, for instance) are nearly eerie, helping us understand why some are so deeply devoted to the brand. It is about, one marketing guru says, “transcendence itself.”


The Philosopher of Palo Alto: Mark Weiser, Xerox PARC, and the Original Internet of Things John Tinnell (The University of Chicago Press) $29.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $23.20

I don’t exactly know why I ordered this brand new book to stock in our store — I guess I wondered about this storied PARC, sort of a parallel creative, high-tech think tank that paralleled MIT labs or, a bit earlier, the famous Bell Laboratories. I wanted to get behind the recent history of the rise of the internet and although I had not heard of Mark Wesier, I came to realize he is one of the absolutely key players in the rise of what is colloquially known as Silicon Valley, and what it represents. As the always great Nicholas Carr (of The Shallows) said, “Anyone looking to understand how technology is shaping society today, The Philosopher of Palo Alto is a compelling and necessary read.”

Indeed, part morality tale, part inspiring social history, part investigative page-turner, “ubiquitous computing” is the start of AI. The first 5 pages had me hooked and 100 pages in I realize this is truly a remarkable read, informative and learned and absolutely fascinating.

And, I must say, that more than once a former customer of ours — Thad Sterner, for any Dallastown friends reading this, the brilliant and lovely son of the dear Ruth Marshall (a humble evangelical woman who ran the little rescue mission here in town) — shows up several times in the narrative. I will never forget Thad telling me as a college student how he was even then inventing and playing with what he called “wearables.” This isn’t transhumanism, as such, but, man, it was weirdly exciting, and I was a little proud to know a kid who bought books from us as a youth was clearly going places. Who knew just where it all would lead? Who knows where it will yet all lead?

In any case, this “riveting, up-close account” is more than the story of a driven, high-energy savant, cool as that narrative would be. This is more profound, with more incisive social and cultural criticism, even as the story of the arc of Weiser’s humane ideas, the place where they tooled it all, and how it seems to be leading to what one reviewer called “the hyper-connected, surveillance-driven high mare we inhabit today.” That’s from Fred Turner, author of the important work From Counterculture to CyberCulture, who says this is “a deeply unsettling and cautionary tale.” I think it provides a marvelously real (and a bit philosophic) background story to our very real, digital age.

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other Sherry Turkle (Basic Books) $18.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

You may know Turkle’s story, a professor of social science and technology at MIT, who was an early cheerleader for digital culture and who, decades later, after considerable re-thinking and tons of first-hand research, changed her perspective and has been a clear and critical voice about the overuse of technologies. She notes, here, that tech has become “the architect of our intimates” and documents that as technology ramps up, our emotional lives ramp down. I am not fully sure that this is always so, but this edition is the second, revised and expanded volume and should be on the shelf of every serious person wanting to understand our culture. Which is to say, if you are a leader, campus minister, pastor, or parent of youth these days, this is a must-read. At over 350 pages you still won’t be able to put it down, provocative and vivid and worrying.

From the Garden to the City: The Place of Technology in the Story of God John Dyer (Kregel) $18.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

When this first came out I sensed that it was very, very good. Easy to read, interesting, wise, even practical. The blurb on the back by Andy Crouch convinced me that I should promote it widely, especially for nonspecialists who hadn’t read much about the history of science or the philosophy of technology. This recently revised edition is even better, and we highly recommend it. Even Kevin Kelly, of Wired magazine gave a great shout out. Nice.

Andy Crouch, author of The Tech Wise Family and The Life We’re Looking For, says this:

“Creative, unpredictable, and surprisingly moving… With Dyer’s help, you will never see either a shovel or a smartphone the same way again.”

God, Technology, and the Christian Life Tony Reinke (Crossway) $21.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $17.59

As it says on the back cover, “From smartphones to self-driving cars to space travel, new technologies can inspire us. But the breakneck pace of change can also frighten us.” Reinke is a thoughtful Bible scholar who observes how new technological inventions may disclose something of God’s will, which is to say that while he is not a naive technological optimist, Reinke avoids the negativism of Ellul et al. He examines nine key texts from Scripture to show how the world’s discoveries and inventions may be divinely orchestrated.

John Dyer, whose book From the Garden to the City is very good, says Reinke is “ethical without being moralistic, careful without being restrictive, and positive without being naive.” Sounds good, eh?

A Christian Field Guide to Technology for Engineers and Designers Ethan Brue, Derek Schuurman & Steven H. Vanderleest (IVP Academic) $28.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $22.40

I wasn’t sure if I should list this as it primarily is for engineers and designers, but it is so exceptional, so good, I had to mention it. There is nothing like it in print and I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight it again, since its views of technology are upbeat and aware, framed through the Biblical grid of creation-fall-redemption, and develops a consistent Christian mind for those taking up the vocation of working in this field as a holy calling. It clearly explores Biblical themes related to technology, offers ethics and norms for technological design, and asks how engineering and technology tap into God-given human dreams for a better world.

The authors have, respectively, PhDs in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science. While Brue teaches engineering (at Dordt University in Iowa), Schuurman teaches computer science at Calvin University in Grand Rapids. Venderleest is principal engineer for multicore solutions at Capita Systems Inc. and an app developer at squishLogic.

Techne: Christian Visions of Technology edited by Gerald Hiestand & Todd Wilson (Cascade Books) $34.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $27.20

This recent book emerged from the excellent work of theCenter for Pastor Theologians, helping pastors work on their theological capacities and helping them engage contemporary issues with flare and grace. This almost 250 page volume came out of one of the most urgent and remarkable events they have done. There are fourteen major chapters from eloquent speakers like Andy Crouch and thoughtful critics like Felicia Song. (Don’t miss the nice piece by Karen Swallow Prior on the “technologies of reading.”) This is a book we ought to promote as it covers so much, so well. Fascinating, wise, tremendously done.

Modern Technology and the Human Future: A Christian Appraisal Craig M. Gay (IVP Academic) $30.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $24.00

“From the plough to the printing press,” this wonderful book reminds us, “technology has always shaped human life and informed our understanding of what it means to be human.” And, significantly, technology is not neutral. (In other words, it is too simplistic and easy to merely say any device can be used for good or for ill, forgetting that the very fabrication of any artifact carries with it certain baked in qualities, making it easier to use well or misuse. Few would disagree that computers and smartphones and the like have yielded tremendous benefits. But do these devices encourage human flourishing, and if so, how do they, do so?

As we think about the doctrine of the incarnation of Jesus in the world, we note that that is not “neutral” either. Gay explores the doctrine of the incarnation and what it means for our embodiment— perhaps with a “course correction to the path of modern technology without asking us to unplug completely.”

Kutter Callaway (professor of theology and culture at Fuller) notes that Craig Gay “is neither a luddite nor a technophile.” Hooray.

The wonderful spiritual formation writer Gordon Smith (of Ambrose University) says:

One of the most critical conversations of our day is quite simply this: How do we manage the machines and technologies that intersect our lives in a way that is consistent with our core Christian commitments? Craig Gay in this volume makes an invaluable and essential contribution, helping his readers think critically and more clearly about aspects of our daily experience that we all too easily take for granted. And part of the strength of this contribution is that Gay insists we need to think theologically about technology―that is, to view technology and respond to technology in light of the Triune God and a biblical understanding of what it means to be the church. And, of course, to then respond to the challenge of our day in a way that is intentional, discerning, and hopeful.

Agree or not with professor Gay’s lucid and astute proposals, this audacious project, described well by Smith, is something we all should applaud. This is what good Christian nonfiction books must do.

You Are Not a Gadget Jaron Lanier (Vintage) $17.00  / OUR SALE PRICE = $13.60

Jaron Lanier is a famous programmer and one of the true fathers of virtual reality technology, making him a pioneer in digital media. He was among the earliest to predict the revolutionary changes his work would bring to our commerce and culture.

In this book — with a new introduction and afterward in 2011 — he turns agitated and pessimistic and discusses “the technical and cultural problems that have unwittingly arisen from programming choices that were “locked in” at the birth of digital media. He wonders what a future based on current design philosophies will bring.

Mind-mending, exuberant, brilliant…. Lanier dares to say the forbidden — The Washington Post

I do not agree with it, really, but you should also know of his little book called a “timely call-to-arms” — Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now (Picador; $13.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $10.40.) And, by the way, while you’re at it, you can order from us a pocket-sized, handsome little Counterpoint edition of the famous Wendell Berry essay, Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer ($10.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $8.00.)


The Art of Living for a Technological Age: Toward a Humanizing Performance Ashley John Mayes (Fortress) $18.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

This is in the heady “Dispatches” line of bold but brief books done by Fortress with a eye to justice in public theology; they are scholarly, for the most part, and seriously imagined — it draws on Heidegger (of course) and Barth, Stringfellow and Ellul, and lots of scholars I never heard of. Whew.

Technology is not a mere tool but an ontology, a way of being that frames how we see and handle everything. We must either reshape our use of technology or become transformed by it into the dehumanizing form of efficient mastery. A must read for anyone interested in humanizing our world today.  — Jens Zimmermann, J.I. Packer Professor Theology, Regent College

Restless Devices: Recovering Personhood, Presence, and Place in the Digital Age Felicia Wu Son (IVP Academic) $24.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $19.20

Those who know Dr. Son know her to be a brilliant cultural sociologist of media and digital technologies. She currently teaches at Westbound College in Santa Barbara and is travelling quite a bit sharing her considerations based on the data she accumulated researching this book. She notes that “in our current digital ecologies, small behavioral shifts are not enough to give us freedom. We need a sober and motivating vision of our prospects to help us imagine what kind of life we hope to live — and how we can get there.

“Song’s depth of expertise and profound Christian imagination allow her to go further than mere critique. She offers us practical hope.” — Tish Harrison Warren, Liturgy of the Ordinary

This may be one of the most significant works done lately, and we highly recommend it, serious as it may be. Yes!

iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives Craig Detweiler (Brazos Press) $22.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $17.60

Q Schultze (Habits of the High-Tech Heart) says this is “a wonderfully engaging romp through the largely American hills and valleys where theology and technology meet — a splendid contribution.”  Robert Johnston (a film studies scholar) says “Craig Detweiler is one of the best at interlacing theology and popular culture.” Even little children have digital devices now, and many nearly worship their igods. This is a great, serious read, helping us get a framework and handle on grappling with the forces of our day and all it means for our flourishing humanity.

Shaping a Digital World: Faith, Culture and Computer Technology Derek C. Schuurman (IVP Academic) $20.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00

If I were asked for just one book for a young person fascinated with or considering a career in computer technologies, this would doubtlessly be the book I’d recommend first. It is all about what “bits and bytes” have to do with Christian beliefs and how computer science can be developed and practiced in a balanced, thoughtful way. There are lots of aspects to consider, of course, besides the exact art making technology, since also the high-tech world has “substantial legal, ethical, political, social, and other nontechnical implications.” A wise computer scientist has to “avoid reductionism and respect the diversity and complexity in God’s creation.”

As Jamie Smith notes, it is “neither reactionary dismissal nor uncritical embrace.” Schuurman roots technology in a biblical theology of culture and is alert to how the field of technical cyber stuff can actually be a fulfilling vocation, under God’s guidance. He brings just the right tone to this fabulous book.

Networked Theology: Negotiating Faith in a Digital Culture Heidi Campbell and Stephen Garner (Baker Academic) $22.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $18.39

Over the last decade this publisher did a good number of groundbreaking and often cutting edge books about contemporary culture. Some were excellent, but predictable, studies on film, music, the arts. A few were deeper and fascinating, rare, even. Networked Theology seemed to me at the time to be so nearly unique that I was struck, even if (surprise, surprise) it didn’t sell well in our store. I want to give it a large shout out here; it is what Mary Hess of Luther Seminary called “thoughtful, compelling, and substantial.” Kathryn Reklis (of Fordham University and the New Media Project at Christian Theological Seminary, says that its theologically-engaged reflection on digital culture are written with “wisdom, learning, and passion” and that Campbell and Garner are a “dream team” to tackle this topic. Campbell is a communications prof at Texas A&M and author of an older, pioneering work, Exploring Religious Community Online while Garner is a theologian and public speaker from New Zealand. It is deep and thoughtful, a “sustained assessment of contextual and public theology for living in and against Web 3.0.”

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

Dyer has been active in digital content creation and has spoken at events reflecting theologically on the good and bad of the cyber world. He wrote the excellent, accessible From the Garden to the City, showing how human stewardship of technological possibility is part of the redemptive story. He’s well suited to have done this remarkable bit of investigative history, storytelling, and pondering of the long-term consequences of this newer way of engaging the Biblical text. Screens. Whew! This looks really, really good, and very important, if you ask me.

Digital Bibles aren’t just the wave of the future. They’re the past and the present. And their growing use has tremendous implications for Christian publishing, worship, training, and devotional experience. With a rare combination of beautiful prose and a programmer’s expertise, John Dyer explores the fascinating history (longer than you think) of digital Bibles, where they fit in the Christian publishing economy, and their future influence on the Christian church. This is a must-read book for every serious student of ‘the Bible’ in all its various forms. — Samuel L. Perry, Professor of Sociology and Religious Studies, University of Oklahoma

Dyer’s clear and engaging narrative style, combined with his self-reflexive critical thinking on what drives evangelicals towards missional technological innovation, makes this a highly readable and timely book. Dyer’s work demonstrates the importance of identifying and unpacking the ideological and theological platforms that motivate religious technological endeavors, as well as how these roots frame public and communal perceptions of the Bible in a digital society. This is a must read for scholars of media, religion and culture and those seeking to understand evangelical discourse and influence in contemporary culture. — Heidi A Campbell, Professor of Communication, Texas A&M University

Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology Ellen Ullman (FSG) $27.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $21.60

This is a book that is not as well known as it ought to be, done by an important writer on a prestigious publishing house, with rave reviews that are solid and enticing. (Sherry Turkle, Anna Wiener in The New Republic, Laura Miller in Salon, Constance Hale in Wired have all offered luminous blurbs.) Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Geraldine Brooks says that Ullman “writes unsparingly of the vivid, compelling, emotionally-driven souls who give us our new machines.”

Ms Ullman is a seasoned software engineer, so has her high-tech bona fides (as Hale put it) but, she is also a deep thinker, a fine writer, and a personal storyteller, sharing her work with a set of “savvy reflections about the unfolding of digital culture as it became mainstream culture and we all learned to live with its aesthetic, values, and politics.” The New York Times noted that this book shows a woman who is “facing down ‘obsolescence’ in two different, particularly unforgiving worlds — modern tech and modern society.”

Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival Leonard Sweet (Waterbrook) $14.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $11.99 while supplies last

I would be remiss not to list this energetic and provocative book — Sweet is always a very fun writer and this was right in his wheelhouse, to use an old-fashioned, industrial term. It went out of print (although we have one or two here for those who might appreciate his charm and wit.) This was an early invitation (written in s 2011) asking us to consider using TGIF for Christ. That is, Twitter, Google, iPhones and Facebook. He’s always been clever like that, but the insight is deeply drawn, with tons of fascinating footnotes, and a boatload of end-of-chapter interactive – websites to visit, stuff to do, experiments to undertake. What a blast.

Of course, as it says even on the back cover, “The gospel is nothing without relationship.” But get this: he asserts that “No one gets it like the Google Generation.” He shows how the incessant texting and IM-ing and updating statuses hints at a deep longing for connection and with our God-given desire to be known and to connect in meaningful ways, modern tech can be a boon, even for those distant from the organized church.

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

This book is new, but, to be honest, less about the philosophy of technology or the nature of cyberspace or how to Christianly imagine the ups and downs of life online. This is actually a very astute book, serious and up-to-date, about policy questions, about what thoughtful Christian thinkers (most conservative evangelicals) have to offer about a just resolution of some of the thorny questions about media censorship, religious freedom, the prevalence of online conspiracy theories, the ethics of tweeting. Our friend Bonnie Kristian has a very carefully considered piece on banning online pornography.

Very thoughtful, considerate, and sharp friends and authors have glowing endorsements — Dru Johnson says, “Each essay simultaneously taught and challenged me in surprising ways” and Matthew Kaemingk notes that we “desperately need a public theology to guide” our engagement with such principalities and powers.


Virtual Reality Church: Pitfalls and Possibilities (Or How to Think Biblically About Church in Your Pajamas, VR Baptisms, Jesus Avatars, and Whatever Else Is Coming Next) Darrel Bock & Jonathan Armstrong (Moody Publishers) $15.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $12.79

This book, interestingly, was imagined long before the Coronavirus swept us all into Zoom  and other such platforms. The authors were interested in augmented or virtual realities even before Moodle and Canvas and Google Hangouts became essential for most of us. But the Covid pandemic speeded up their study of VR technology and, as culturally aware evangelical leaders, they dug quickly into their assessment of how to harness the power of new media for the gospel. From pretty obvious digital streaming projects to VR baptisms, this book is a fabulous starter for conversations about how this tech stuff gets used in our churches. It has good studies of basic Christian themes — God, creation, new creation, incarnation and Pentecost — alongside studies of the nature of virtuality. This is not the last word on this vital  church and missional topic, but it would be a fine start.

The Virtual Body of Christ in a Suffering World Deanna A. Thompson (Abingdon Press) $21.99  / OUR SALE PRICE = $17.59

It isn’t every thoughtful Christian book that gets a rave review by Krista Tippett, the executive producer and host of public radio’s On Being show. She calls it “beautiful, engaging, and original work of twenty-first century public theology.” Thompson (who is a professor of religion at Hamline University in St. Paul) call us to, in Tippett’s words, “name and explore our digital lives as new spheres that also call us more deeply into community and care, illuminating the variety meaning of incarnation.”

This book is one of the best on this topic and we highly recommend it.

It might be said that evangelical megachurches often embrace the new digital opportunities wholeheartedly while more traditional mainline churches often seem hesitant and overwhelmed, even by the need for an interactive website, a Facebook page and a twitter feed. This book, groundbreakingly published in 2016, accepts digital connectivity as our reality, but presents a vision of how faith communities can utilize technology to better be the body of Christ to those who are hurting while also helping followers of Christ think critically about the limits of our digital attachments.

We have authors aplenty warning us that the web is making us stupider. But Deanna Thompson shows unmistakably that there are possibilities in the digital revolution for being the church in ways that the faithful cannot ignore. She shows that the virtual body of Christ can, surprisingly, make us more incarnational. The book is a delight and a model for how theology should be done. — Jason Byassee, author of Following: Embodied Discipleship in a Digital Age

Embodied Liturgy: Virtual Reality and Liturgical Theology in Conversation C. Andrew Doyle (Church Publishing) $24.95 / OUR SALE PRICE = $19.96

Doyle is the ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas and he has written fine books about our public lives, callings, and service in God’s church and world. Here is a “well-researched and thoughtful study about both virtual reality and liturgy, arguing that “the Eucharist is not a formulaic rehearsal of words and rituals but an embodied and lived experience that requires a shared place and presence.” This context of the ritual, of course, includes people, objects, words, and all sorts of nuance, so, obviously, on-line worship is something to be explored with great care.

The Most Rev. Michael Curry (Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church) notes that “Andy Doyle approaches questions of virtual Eucharist with the same dignity and care to which he calls any who would dare to engage in deeper conversation about this complex and at times emotionally charged topic. This book is one that undoubtedly will be an important resource for years to come.”

The Rev. Dr. Kate Sonderegger (of Virginia Theological Seminary) says that Bishop Doyle “has brought the full compass of contemporary thought to bear on the controverted question of virtual Eucharist.” “This,” she says, “is the generous intellectual landscape that is needed for the theological questions bearing down on the church in this time of pandemic.”

Grace and Gigabytes: Being Church in a Tech-Shaped Culture Ryan M. Panzer (Fortress) $17.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

This offers a picture of current digital ministry and is really helpful just to see how cutting edge churches are experiencing digital spaces for worship, community-building, and mission. Panzer is not unaware of shifts in culture that have “heightened amid accelerated adoption and use of digital media” and reminds us that all revolutions in technology have disrupted cultures. Yet, at this intersection of faith, technology, culture and church, we must explore faithful ways to do ministry “aligned to this cultural moment.” With very impressive stories of the philosophical pivots brought on by tech patterns — he, himself, has been involved as teacher and designer in the tech industry. New high-tech mission is merely not about starting a new website or social media page but taking conversations about the deeper philosophical pivots needed.

In many ways, this is less about social media as such and seems perhaps more interested in what has been learned from those specializing in on-line learning and hybrid work cultures. It is about, as Mary Hall of Luther Seminary puts it on her back-cover endorsement, “entanglement” as a gift, not an obstacle.”


The Age of AI: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity Jason Thacker (Zondervan) $22.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $18.39

The always reliable Richard Mouw wrote the good forward to this thoughtful but readable book by a scholar at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC. Start here on this topic.

No ethical issues keeps me up at night as does the question of artificial intelligence. This book is a balm for anxiety in the age of technological disruption. The years ahead will require wise Christians in a time of smart robots. This book shows the way. — Russell Moore

2084: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity John Lennox (Zondervan) $19.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

This is a compact sized hardback full of readable but often brilliant insights by a UK thought leader with three doctorates; he is a retired professor of advanced Mathematics at Oxford and a renowned writer about faith and science and reasonable apologetics. Here he invites us to get involved in the discussion about where artificial intelligence and technology are going. This is a great introduction for most of us, explaining the “kaleidoscope of ideas” and key developments in technology enhancement and the like.

Robot Theology: Old Questions Through New Media Joshua Smith (Resource Publications) $21.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $16.80

This has gotten some acclaim but I have not looked much at it yet. It seems fairly serious — we have it, but I’ve only skimmed it briefly. One of the back cover endorsements notes that while there has been a lot written on robots and ethics there has not been much on robotics and theology. It certainly appears to be a carefully written, reasonable survey with tons of footnotes (and, in the bibliography, a rare citation of Creation Regained by our old friend Al Wolters.) This may be a bit arcane for some, but it is a study of the major issues surrounding the conversations from a theological and philosophical lens.

The Robot Will See You Now: Artificial Intelligence and the Christian Faith edited by John Wyatt & Stephen N. Williams (SPCK) $22.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $18.39

Imported from the UK, this book has a foreword by Justin Welby and, to be honest, looks just tremendous. This gathering of remarkable pieces, by Christians from all over the globe, ask if human beings, made in God’s image, can flourish in a world of intelligent machines. This explores, sometimes with arresting insights, how AI might be useful in health care, employment, security, the arts, and even intimate relationships and spirituality.

Authors include a diverse crew, from Wade Center co-director (and semiotics scholar) Crystal Downing, the wise bioethicist and public policy advocate Nigel Cameron, writer and English professor at Wheaton Christian Bieber Lake, Sri Lankan scholar and activist, Vinoth Ramachandra, theologian of computers Noreen Herzfeld and many more. There is a computer scientist from Cambridge and the Austrian Qua Vadas think-tank leader Andrej Turkanki. What a great and wide-ranging resource.

Braving the Future: Christian Faith in a World of Limitless Tech Douglas Estes (Herald Press) $16.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59

I really enjoyed this and appreciated his approach which is clear that modern tech isn’t in principle bad but it can be troubling and we have to think of a way to be “in but not of” the high tech world. I appreciate its upbeat writing and wit, his concern without being overly alarmist. It looks at artificial intelligence, virtual reality, cybernetics, and such, asking if our theology is ready for this stuff, coming, as Estes puts it, “at a blistering pace.” He’s a good writer and a thoughtful guide.


In Our Image: Artificial Intelligence and the Human Spirit Noreen Herzfeld (Fortress) $24.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $19.20

This may seem dated, I suppose, as AI was in its earliest days when she wrote this, but the foundation of it is brilliant and timeless. In Our Image examines several different “models” or approaches that theologians have taken to describe what we mean by being in the “image of God” as humans, and then asks how that particular model or perspective would handle AI. Each sort of assumption about the imago Dei allows for or constrains or informs various approaches to AI. Right on! This is good, foundational stuff to get us thinking in the right way.

The Artifice of Intelligence: Divine and Human Relationship in a Robotic Age Noreen Herzfeld (Fortress Press) $34.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $27.20

As noted above, Herzfeld, a theologian and computer scientist, has long been interested in generative ways to think about the way theological notions can shape our work in the digital world. Now she is asking — as is nearly everyone, it seems — if it is “possible for human beings to have authentic relationships with an AI? How does the increasing presence of AI change the way humans relate to one another? In pursuing answers to these questions, Herzfeld explores what it means to be created in the image of God and to create AI in our own image.” Whew.

Artificial Intelligence and the Apocalyptic Imagination – Artificial Agency and Human Hope Michael J. Paulus (Cascade) $23.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $18.40

This is brand new and I have yet to peruse it, but Paulus has been a respected writer (having compiled a useful anthology a year ago) and is Assistant Provost for Educational Technology, and Professor of Information Studies at Seattle Pacific University. It looks heavy.

Here is how the publisher describes this new work:

The increasing role and power of artificial intelligence in our lives and world requires us to imagine and shape a desirable future with this technology. Since visions of AI often draw from Christian apocalyptic narratives, current discussions about technological hopes and fears present an opportunity for a deeper engagement with Christian eschatological resources. This book argues that the Christian apocalyptic imagination can transform how we think about and use AI, helping us discover ways artificial agency may participate in new creation.

Here’s a recommendation from scholar and ethics professor, emeritus, Ron Cole-Turner of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary:

If you haven’t been paying attention to artificial intelligence, it’s time to start! A highly readable book with clear, nontechnical summaries of the latest expert thinking about artificial intelligence cast within the broad sweep of human civilization. Sobering, enlightening, at times bordering on the frightening, but never without hints of hope that perhaps, just perhaps, we humans will learn to live with and control our greatest invention, this runaway called artificial intelligence.

Transhumanism and the Image of God: Today’s Technology and the Future of Christian Discipleship Jacob Shatzer (IVP Academic) $25.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $20.00

We have a number of other provocative titles on what is being called transhumanism — the melding of smart technology and humans into what the sci-fi material, (before it has now become real), cyborgs. I don’t quite know what to think about them all, but do write to us if you want a short list of others. For now, I’ll just list this one since it has chapters on AI, virtual reality, robotics, and other radical technologies that will change the very way humans are known. Our gadgets continue to change, but will we stay essentially the same? It is now an open question.

This is a cautious and aware study by an evangelical Biblical ethicist that claims to offer “firm footing on a slippery slope.” What will Christian faithfulness look like in this new era? How might this effect our notions of formation and discipleship? He unpacks the doctrine of incarnation and helps us think about technology today and what we might become. This is a great starting place for this complicated topic.


The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place Andy Crouch (Baker) $16.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59

This is a compact sized hardback that nicely walks readers through research done by the Barna Group on the impact of social media and screens and digital stuff upon ordinary Americans, especially church-goers. Andy deftly interprets the data, fills in some information about the handsome little charts and graphics, and then offers incredibly astute, easy-to-follow, adaptable principles for being wise with our phones and computers. I am sure you have devices that are incredibly helpful and yet leave their mark in concerning ways. This book wisely helps you navigate these brave new worlds. It’s a great little book and very highly recommended. I think it is the most important small book on the topic and if you want a good starter guide, to this arena, this is the one.

By the way, his then-teen daughter, Amy Crouch, heading off to college, wrote a nice afterward that expressed what it was like growing up with the guidelines of her parents in a tech-wise family. This then led to her writing her own little hardback, a companion to The Tech-Wise Family called My Tech-Wise Life: Growing Up and Making Choices in a World of Devices (Baker Books; $15.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $12.79)  Andy, as proud father and seriously eloquent writer, weighs in a bit, making this a spirited dialogue between a father and daughter. If you know any open-minded teens or college students, you have to get them this book. Yes!


The Life We’re Looking For: Reclaiming Relationship in a Technological World Andy Crouch (Convergent) $25.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $20.00

This much fuller outworking of Andy’s concerns was one of my favorite books last year (on any topic) and, as always for Andy’s major works, it is simply a must read. It is what Tish Harrison Warren calls “breathtaking” and what the Stanford Life Design Lab guru calls “an artful deep dive into the true nature of persons.” Sherry Turkle (of MIT) says it is written with “warmth and erudition” — clever, profound, glorious. I like the quip by historian Tom Holland (author of Dominion) who, playing off an older book title, says it could be called The Holy Ghost in the machine. It is a beautiful book, inviting us to a more thoughtful and beautiful life.

Following Jesus in a Digital Age Jason Thacker (B+H) $12.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $10.39

I will list this compact sized paperback early in this section of more practical sorts of books that offer guidance for ordinary users in part because I respect Thacker as a serious thinker (see his book on AI, listed above, and the one he edited on social policy in the digital space) and for how he summarizes much of the serious considerations about this field into a short, if weighty, small volume. This great book is challenging yet encouraging; it is not simplistic but it is clear. We need discernment and wisdom — you may not even realize how much you need it until you start reading a sharp study like this.

12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You Tony Reinke (Crossway) $16.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59

I like that Reinke has studied the topic well and that he is not utterly negative about smart devices; he has a good book on why Christians should read classic literature, so, again, he is a very sharp dude. This is just a bit negative and alarmist, but how can it not be? He documents these twelve potent ways a smartphone (for better or worse) causes us to experience life in different ways. It is interesting and mostly right and deeply wise in its calling us to cultivate Godly habits for the digital age. I like the line from hip-hop artist Jackie Hill Perry who writes that 12 Ways… is “a necessary book for our generation, to remind us that our phone habits will either amplify or get in the way of our most important longing of all: the soul-satisfying glory of our Savior.”

Listen to the prestigious historian George Marsden, who says:

Are Christians using technology to transform the world or is technology transforming Christians in unhealthy ways? Especially since the era of Franklin and Jefferson, when inventing things and technological ways of organizing things became a way of life, Christians have needed to be alert to such questions. Tony Reinke’s reflections on the smartphone offer helpful advice as to how people today need to be vigilant regarding the impact of their favorite new technologies. — George Marsden, Professor of History Emeritus, University of Notre Dame; The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship

A Wolf in Their Pockets: 13 Ways the Social Internet Threatens the People You Lead Chris Martin (Moody Publishers) $16.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59

The author has a Bible degree, has run a social media think-tank for a major publisher, and is now an editor of BibletoLife, a marketing project at Moody Publishers. He knows his stuff, is a good, clear, writer, and here offers much of what we need to know about the incredible ways social media influences us. It is written for pastors, campus ministers, parents, youth workers, spiritual directors, Christian teachers and others who are hoping to mentor others into an obedient and fruitful life of faith. This isn’t a fad and while shepherding and leading others has never been easy, there are these new challenges.

Always On: Practicing Faith in a New Media Landscape Angela Williams Gorrell (Baker Academic) $22.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $18.39

Okay, this is a bit heavy and just over 180 well footnoted pages. But it really is practical, a  very helpful guide to “social media literacy for Christian communities.” As Andrew Root notes, “This book couldn’t be more timely.” Danna Thompson (author of The Virtual Body of Christ, mentioned above) says that Gorrell “offers a compelling Christian vision of the good life within the landscape of new media.” Can we live a hybrid sort of existence that reflects God’s love for all? Can we find new ways to use our devices well? Chap Clark — a well known writer and speaker of youth ministry resources — raves. Pastor Joy Moore says it is “fresh, contemporary and practical” even if rooted in a first century call to discipleship. It’s a very thorough, useful book.

Angela Gorrell is a professor of practical theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary, at Baylor University, although she previously served with Miroslav Volf at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. You may know that we raved about her fabulous, moving memoir The Gravity of Joy: A Story of Being Lost and Found.

Everyday Sabbath: How to Lead Your Dance with Media and Technology in Mindful and Sacred Ways  Paul Patton and Robert Woods, Jr. (Cascade Books) $23.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $18.40

These two extraordinary authors have spent a lifetime (teaching communications and media) with college students, one at Spring Arbor University in Michigan, indicating some Wesleyan roots. Free Methodist leader and author Howard Snyder calls it “a brilliant and thoroughly delightful work” while Calvin Troup, president of the Reformed Presbyterian institution of higher learning in Western Pennsylvania, Geneva College, considers it “loving resistance-in-practice through an ancient and now-alien principle — Sabbath.” This “dance” book provides a bit of tech study and a bit of media ecology and is almost like a devotional with thought-provoking reflection questions, pull quotes, citations, and the like, nurturing a playful sort of mindfulness that helps us with our affections and habits.



It is very helpful if you tell us how you prefer 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 slow. For one typical book, usually, it’s about $3.85; 2 lbs would be $4.55.
  • United States Postal Service has another 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. 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. Just saying “US Mail” isn’t helpful because there are those two methods, one cheaper but slower, one more costly but quicker. Which do you prefer?

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Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street  Dallastown  PA  17313

Sadly, 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 water tables to see the amount of virus in the eco-system. It’s important to be particularly aware of how risks we take might effect the public good. It is complicated for us, so we are still closed for in-store browsing due to our commitment to public health (and the safety of our family, staff, and customers.) The vaccination rate here in York County is sadly lower than average. Our store is a bit cramped without top-notch ventilation, so we are trying to be wise. 

We will certainly keep you posted about our future plans… we are eager, but delayed, for now.

We are doing our famous 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 old friends and new customers.

Of course, we’re happy to ship books anywhere. 

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

Another dive into 15 more brand new books from Hearts & Minds — ALL BOOKS 20% OFF

Last week I gave a description of 20 highly recommended brand new books that have arrived here in the Dallastown shop. These were mostly theological or spiritual books, overtly Christian, and very important. They are almost all books that will become well known (and you may have even heard of them here, first!) If you missed that random list of good Christian books, please go back and look through that previous BookNotes. And order a few — they are tremendous.

Here is a deeper dive into some other titles that have come in. Some of these you may have heard of, most are not on faith-based publishing houses (although a few are) and, a few may not be destined for the best-sellers list. But, again, even if a few are a bit off the beaten path, these are books we think you’d like to know about and we are very eager to recommend.

All are discounted at 20% off for our BookNotes friends. Please use the link to our secure order form at the end of the newsletter to order. We really appreciate your interest (even if some of these books may not be found in your typical Christian bookstore.) Enjoy.

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

We have a number of books about what might be called the sociology of place, books looking at new urbanism as well as small town and rural life titles. (In our church section, we also have books about rural churches and small town ministry.) This is considered to be a much-needed reassessment of small town life, done by a major scholar — she was a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and holds a chair of Modern Culture at the Library of Congress. As an expert on regional planning, she sees the big picture, but knows that the devil is in the details, as they say.

Richard Florida (a name you should know) says that the book reveals “life in rural America to be complex and varied — and in many cases better off than conventional wisdom would have us believe.” Happily, she will make a case that urban, suburban, and rural Americans may have more in common than we think. Currid-Halkett combines both quantitative research and fine storytelling to offer a new understanding of what’s going on — the grit and the grace — among rural and small town Americans. This just came and I’m eager to study it.

At Home on An Unruly Planet: Finding Refuge on a Changed Earth Madeline Ostrander (Holt) $28.99 – OUR SALE PRICE = $23.19

I think this may be one of the best written and most compelling books — a page-turner, for me — that I have read in quite a while. In a work that Bill McKibben calls “marvelous” and more than one reviewer calls “compassionate” this investigative journalist has studied (for years) four different places that have experienced a certain sort of very bad impact due to climate change. As she traces the stories of a few key characters in these regions, we learn their backstory, their crisis, their bravery, and their hope for some sort of sustainable living in these changing landscapes.

There is, to begin this whole study, a moving and informed rumination on the meaning of and the importance of a sense of place and a perception of home.

Ooooh, I kept thinking of the masterpiece by Brian Walsh & Steven Bouma-Prediger, Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement which is coming out in September in a newly updated and considerably expanded edition. (Eerdmans; $39.99 – OUR 20% SALE PRICE = $31.99.) YOU CAN PRE-ORDER IT FROM US NOW.

Indeed, the human need for homemaking as a place for the creation and discovery of durable meaning, is explored beautifully. As Bill McKibben puts it “Home may be the most pungent word in the language — and it’s no longer something any of us can take for granted.” Madeline Ostrander makes this clear and oddly exciting.

The four locations and contexts about which Ostrander writes in luminous detail include the wooded rural areas north of Seattle in the Pacific Northwest (and the crisis of forest fires, seen mostly through the eyes of a forest biologist and smoke jumping firefighter), the East coast of Florida and extraordinary drama of life-changing hurricanes (seen, fascinatingly, through the eyes of a woman who works in historic preservation in the oldest European-settled town in America, St. Augustine), a northern California urban landscape plagued by fossil-fuel disasters, including a toxic explosion (seen mostly through the eyes of a black, urban farmer) and, finally, the sea-rise in Alaska forcing the a village of Yupik people to start a decades long effort of moving to a new location as their land warms and erodes beneath them.

As the At Home on An Unruly Planet book cover says, rightly, “Ostrander pairs deep reported stories of hard-won optimism with lyrical essays on the strengths we need in an era of crisis.” Some may appreciate the essays in between the reporting of these four unfolding dramas, although those major four stories had me up late at night, sweating it out.

The author is the former senior editor of YES! magazine, holds a master’s degree in environmental science. She’s a very good writer, vividly doing the best kind of narrative nonfiction, taking us to these four locations to learn so much about the actual influence of a changing climate. What a book!

Soil: The Story of a Black Mother’s Garden Camille T. Dungy (Simon & Schuster) $28.99 – OUR SALE PRICE = $23.19

I heard just a tiny bit about this book and knew it would be one we’d love to feature. Reading an advance review or two make me realize this “brilliant and beautiful memoir” was one both Beth and I would want to read. A few years ago we highlighted the world of Aimee Nezhukumatathil (World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments) and when I realized she had vividly endorsed it, I was all in. It arrived just last week and it is high on my stack of summer reads.

The book chronicals several years of her learning to develop an extesnive garden on her propertly. When she first got the idea, the Homeowner’s Association had a rule against such stuff. They were going for homogeneity, not colorful diversity; Dungy, one of the few black homeowners in the association comes to learn that plant biodiversity is a good thing, and I suppose the metaphor can be extended, eh? One sometimes has to work at these things.

Ross Gay, himself quite a writer and author of the much-appreciated The Book of Delights, suggests, in poetic fashion, at what is most deeply going on in this passionate story of gardening: “Soil demands we witness what erodes or frays or severs the stabilizing roots between us. Let us put our hands in and try to listen.”

The Baseball 100 Joe Posnanski (Avid Readers Press) $25.00 – OUR SALE PRICE = $20.00

This is not a brand new book but it is quite new in paperback. What a fun resource this is, which will afford baseball fans hours of fine, sports-themed reading. (And I mean hours — the speeded up game times this year won’t apply here; if you include the index this is 870 pages long.)  As it says on the back, The Baseball 100 is “longer than Moby-Dick and nearly as ambitious.” It is a one-of-a-kind work by this beloved and award-winning sportswriter. If you follow sports journalism at all, you know the name of Joe Posnanski.

It is, quite simply, Posnanski’s “fascinating deep dive” into the careers of those he considers baseball’s 100 greatest players. Counting down from 100 to the obvious number 1.

Here are some of the fun blurbs on the back:

I love baseball, I know baseball, and this book is baseball. It’s the whole story of baseball told through the 100 greatest players of all time . . . But what really makes me say, ‘Give this to the baseball people in your life,’ is that it’s a book that, when you read it, you fall in love with the game all over again. . . . Every sport needs great players, but it also needs great writers, and Joe Posnanski has done something great for the game of baseball with this book. — Tony Dokoupil, CBS This Morning

Stellar . . . Always fun . . . A book for the moment but also for the bookshelf of the future, an old friend that will bring back old times and old arguments again and again…The rankings were all made by Mr. Posnanski, who is contemporary sports writing’s biggest star. He writes with grace and wit, combining an old-time sense of style with the mountains of numbers and factoids and observations that can be found on the internet. — Leigh Montville, The Wall Street Journal

Major League Baseball fans, you just won the lottery. . . . Posnanski presents 880 pages of sheer baseball bliss . . . It’s a true masterwork, and his writing is so good that it’s likely to engross even those who know nothing about the sport. — BookPage

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

I sometimes am reluctant to recommend academic press titles for fear they will seem too arcane or scholarly. This book is neither and it is fantastic. Granted, as with other social histories, there is much detail, but it is vivid and the illustrative stories and examples are always set within the broader context of the author’s thesis and what is going on. I can’t tell you how fascinating this is.

Here’s the gist: today it is nearly ubiquitous how often we talk about creativity — there is even a sub-grouping of people whom we call “creatives.” We find in The Cult of Creativity that this is a very recent notion (and even a relatively recent use of the word.) There have always been artists and ingenuity and inventiveness was seen as traits of those gifted with artistic talent or in leadership, but rarely in history has the notion of creativity been applied. And starting after World War II — seemingly almost overnight — it became a topic studied by think tanks and research institutes, there were symposia and confabs and much money was offered by foundations to psychologists to discern what makes for a “creative” person. How this came out of the blue is a major concern of the first chapter or two and they, alone, are worth the price of the book, placing this exciting new cultural invention in the context of resistance to the drab and bureaucratic technocratic culture.

Alas, this new fashion to document who was creative (the amount of money and effort put into this is phenomenal) was not, however, mostly aimed at artists or romantic hippies who would resist mass society (although it foreshadows books like The Lonely Crowd, One Dimensional Man and Where the Wasteland Ends, and near the end cites the worries of Jacques Ellul, which I was glad to see.) In many ways — Franklin shows this impeccably — this new-found passion for progress (by connecting it to creative personality types was part of the Cold War battle against communism and our fears of losing “the space race” as we used to call it. In a way, the cause of and the cult-like status of “the creatives” was embraced by the left and the right, although the original impulse was to deepen the success of our efforts in science, technology, industry, and the economy, with mad-men advertisers in the vanguard of that aspect.

Thought leaders of that era were working on this question of enhancing creativity, again, mostly funded by Rockefeller and Carnegie and executed by psychologists for the sake of the Pentagon, IBM, et al. From Arnold Toynbee to John Gardner to O. Hobart Mowrer to William Whyte to the young Peter Drucker, research and social science was garnered, thought-pieces were floated, articles and eventually TV shows about it all were created, as the ideas trickled down to today’s common parlance, revealing our common assumptions that this is, in fact, a thing.

Who knew? The Cult of Creativity and its “surprisingly recent” history should be pondered by today’s thought leaders, especially within the church, where the assumptions about innovation and creativity sometimes run wild.

Franklin’s amazing historical study reminded me of a book I’ve mentioned before, which also weaves together history, cultural studies, and astute social observation  — The Church After Innovation: Questioning Our Obsession with Work, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship by Andrew Root (Baker Academic; $27.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $22.39.) Not long ago I did a whimsical presentation about the importance of Root’s book at a gathering of church leaders working on their creativity and innovation. It didn’t sell well, shall we say, despite my clever invitation to consider it alongside their valuable theme. Maybe somebody here will pick it up.

Last Light: How Six Great Artists Made Old Age a Time of Triumph Richard Lacy (Simon & Schuster) $35.00 – OUR SALE PRICE = $28.00

Okay, this isn’t brand new (maybe one or two of the only ones on the list that are not.) But it is pretty new to us and it seems new enough to highlight it here. My, my, I have fallen in love with this, perusing it at leisure, dipping in here and there. I really do want to read this carefully and I suspect some of our BookNote readers will, too.

The subtitle tells the whole story; holding the book and its heft in the hand will remind you it is a substantive work, well made, with full color reproductions throughout. It is just what it suggests — it asks how aging influenced the works of six major visual artists. The Director of the Whitney Museum of America Art says, “Lacy’s probing portraits compel us to consider the vicissitudes of an artist’s entire creative life, not just ‘the brand’ of singular works, styles or periods.”

This chronicle of “the varieties of artistic old age” is amazing and, I suggest, will finally be an important read — perhaps transformational for you — whether you are interested in these artists or not, and whether you are yourself in old age or not.

Lacayo investigates Titian, Hopper, Matisse, Nevelson, Monet, and Goya.

How do some great artists stay creative — even innovative — as they get older? Among other things, some become more daring, as Richard Lacy shows in this fascinating book. It’s a secret that’s useful in all walks of life. — Walter Issacson, author of Leonardo da Vinci

God Picks Up the Pieces: Ecclesiastes as a Chorus of Voices Calvin G. Seerveld (Dordt College Press) $14.99  – OUR SALE PRICE = $11.99

I suppose it is proper, maybe even sweet, to list this one after the mention of the magisterial Last Light, above, even though it is a small paperback. Seerveld is himself aging, and yet remarkably prolific. He is the preeminent Christian art historian of our time, a writer widely known for his colorful arguments about aesthetics; Seerveld is also a considerably trained theologian (his weeks of late night studies in Europe and his brief meeting with Barth is nearly legendary) and an expert Bible translator. He has written numerous books of Scriptural reflection, including How to Read the Bible to Hear God Speak, Voicing God’s Psalms, How to Read the Biblical Book of Proverbs, a small work offered as a study companion to Song of Songs entitled Never Try to Arouse Erotic Love Until . . . (not to mention his major play, The Greatest Song – In Critique of Solomon written as a perfomance piece of Song of Songs, which is extraordinary) and, recently, a beautiful collection of sermons he preached in Toronto on the book of Revelation, Bewildering God’s Dumbfounding Doings. He is acclaimed well by the likes of the brilliant and prominent Old Testament scholar Craig Bartholomew, and should be read for his quirky, smart, often tender Biblical research.

Which brings us to this: God Picks Up the Pieces, on Qoheleth and the book of Ecclesiastes. It is not a commentary, as such, but a creative re-working of the book “as a chorus of voices.” That is, he believes there should be multiple readers (not unlike his acclaimed Song of Songs project) to get the storied flow of the narratives and this translation captures the performative natures. As Bartholomew puts it in a long, eloquent endorsement on the back cover, “The way they are written performs their message.” Long story short: God Picks Up the Pieces is written out like a paraphrased/re-translated script so that the drama of Ecclesiastes can be read out loud, together. As such, “In the process,” as Bartholomew notes, “Seerveld makes a major contribution to our hearing and thus giving this masterpiece.”

Besides the re-rendering of the ancient book, there is a chapter offering some notes for producing performances and another little section called “post-performance comments.” There is a seriously footnoted chapter which shows his exegetical work, illustrating the logic and intuition of his linguistic and rhetorical choices, there is a meditation on artworks which reinforce insights of Ecclesiastes and a chapter of some personal comments. The bibliography will be useful for scholars and his appendix “on the hermeneutics of holy Scripture wisdom literature” is deliciously studious, not cryptic, but detailed.

King: A Life Jonathan Eig (FSG) $35.00 – OUR SALE PRICE = $28.00

I have read most of Dr. King’s books and many studies of his work and movement, from his prayer life to his academic influences, his preaching to his organizing. Many of the great biographies about him have been nearly transformational for me. Although books about him keep coming out, no one has done a major comprehensive biography in decades. Decades!

There is no doubt that this is now the definitive volume, a 600 page, landmark magnum-opus, replacing David Garrow’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Bearing the Cross, for that honor. Garrow, in a ringing endorsement on the back, nearly says as much, indicating that this is the best original and comprehensive work on King in more than thirty-five years. Drawing on new documentary resources, “the result is a great leap forward in our biographical understanding.”

The new documentary resources mentioned include recently declassified, newly released, FBI data, and Big — a respected biographer — has, in the words of Ken Burns, “pulled off a kind of a miracle.” Burns exclaims:

Here is the leader, the preacher, the orator, the husband, the father, the martyr, the human being — not with melodramatic halo in place, but in all his heroic, tragic glory. Hallelujah!

The book is getting a lot of buzz (there was a good interview and story about the book alongside an excellent review in The New York Times a week or two ago.) Here’s a good podcast interview with author Jonathan Eig. Eig has written very popular biographies of various characters from Mohammand Ali to Lou Gehrig to Al Capone; he is a great researcher and a good writer. We are honored to recommend it.

A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan’s Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman Who Stopped Them Timothy Egan (Viking) $30.00  – OUR SALE PRICE = $24.00

When a National Book Award-winning and bestselling author does an important new book, you know it is a great season to be in the book business. I don’t know how many of our customers will buy this, but we are proud to stock it, happy to suggest it and a new classic in narrative nonfiction. I hope you know Egan as a journalist and historical documentarian, having written that amazing bestseller on the dust bowl (The Worst Hard Time) and a book on a seminal moment in American conservation The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America.

This, too, is a storied — but mostly untold — page-turning adventure, set in the “jazz age” of the Roaring Twenties. It was the height of that uniquely American hate group, the KKK, working less in the old Confederacy but more in the great Midwest. They hated Blacks, Jews, Catholics, and immigrants (and often, we learn, bought off pastors to preach their gospel of bondage.) The first part of this fever story tells of the rise of D.C. Stephenson and his KKK organizing, mostly in the state of Indiana.  Ahh, but this propulsive story takes a turn as a seemingly powerless woman named Madge Oberholtzer reveals Stephenson’s secret cruelties and eventually, as the dust jacket promises, “brought the Klan to its knees.” This historical thriller is obviously important and sadly still relevant.  We are glad for Egan’s good work; he has been called brilliant as a researcher and lucid as a writer. What a read.

Powerful . . . As a narrative, A Fever in the Heartland is gripping; as a rumination on the moral obscenity of white supremacy — whatever guises it wears — the book is damning. —The New York Times Book Review

A master class in the tools of narrative nonfiction: high stakes, ample suspense and sweeping historical phenomena made vivid through the dramatic actions of individual villains and heroes. —The Washington Post

Egan has done it again, mastering another complicated American story with authority and surprising detail. The Klan here are not the nightriders of the late 19th century, but a retooled special interest group and unusually potent political power. The influence they wielded over states and policy should put a chill in every American. Bravo. — Ken Burns

I Won’t Shut Up: Finding Your Voice When the World Tries to Silence You Ally Henny (Baker) $24.99 – OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

I hope you have at least heard of Ally Henny, a writer, speaker and activist, a pastor and leader of The Witness: A Black Christian Collective, which is an important organization working to equip and empower black Christians in working against racism and liberation from trauma. She has an MDiv from Fuller Seminary (with an emphasis in race, cultural identity, and reconciliation.) She has a good, good following and now more of us can listen in. Hooray.

In this new era when being “woke” is hated and despised by some, and thinking critically about race and racism is suspect in some circles, folks of all races need not only a vision of kind and gracious gospel-centered civility (obviously) but, also, the strength and fortitude to speak up. The blunt title — I Won’t Shut Up — captures something of the necessary tone, especially for people of color.

Perhaps like Kathy Khang’s Raise Your Voice: Why We Stay Silent and How to Speak Up, an often used IVP paperback, Ally Henny offers lots of stories, making this almost a memoir, all the while exposing the forces that tend to embarrass or silence black women, especially.

This book is a love letter to every Black woman and girl who has been told that we are too loud, too angry, too intimidating, too outspoken, too nonconformist, too Black, too feminist, too much. — Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes, clinical psychologist, public theologian, and author of I Bring the Voices of My People and Too Heavy a Yoke

Pregnant While Black: Advancing Justice for Maternal Health in America Monique Rainford (Broadleaf) $26.99 – OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59

This is nothing short of a groundbreaking and comprehensive exploration of adverse maternal-health outcomes for black women in America. That’s a bit terse, but there it is, the blunt truth. It should be widely known that there is a crisis in health care revolving quite specifically about mistreatment of people of color. (One of the most compelling books about that is one we reviewed and named as one of the best books of 2022, Under the Skin:  The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation by Linda Villarosa — it is now out in paperback, by the way.) One of the arenas where the injustices and perplexities of unjust health care shows itself is in the data about black women and their pregnancies and this book is a popular-level, passionate treatment. It is written by a well respected obstetrician and gynecologist (who studied at U. of Penn and Harvard Medical School) and now works at Yale Medicine.

Anyone seriously interested in race-based inequities in our society needs to know this stuff. Anyone interested in health care needs to know this stuff. Anyone interested in childbirth, midwifery, and the like really needs to know this. I would suggest that married couples of African descent should read this. Kudos to the Lutherans at Broadleaf for bringing such an important book to publication.

Pregnant While Black is the beautiful and profound expansive work on Black maternal health that we’ve all been waiting for. The book guides us through heartbreaking personal stories using data and evidence to help readers understand the full devastating impact of this very American crisis. Dr. Rainford invites us in to work toward a more equitable and just future for Black pregnant people. — Dr. Uché Blackstock, physician, thought leader on bias and racism in health care, and founder of Advancing Health Equity

Personality & Worldview J. H Bavinck (Crossway) $22.99  – OUR SALE PRICE = $18.39

We have recommended a few other books by the Dutch Reformed missiologist (and nephew to the great neo-Calvinist Herman Bavinck) and we are delighted to share about this recent one as well. I’m told the translation (by James Eglinton, who wrote the definitive biography of Herman Bavinck, is excellent.) The strength of this fascinating study — originally written in 1928 — is how it navigates the relationship between what were then two fairly new topics of study in theological circles, personality and worldview. To this day, I wonder if any others have so deeply reflected on the intersection. It is asking questions about the deep formation of meaning and, by several accounts, anticipates Charles Taylor’s notion of a communal “social imaginary.” It is offering unique and potent contributions to the conversations around worldview, what is meant by that, and why — in recent years — some find it to be a less than helpful phrase.

Here’s another reason to want to know about this handsome 180 page volume. It has a forward by Timothy Keller (maybe one of the very last things he wrote?) It starts with these two sentences:

I could not be happier that Johan Herman Bavinck’s Personality and Worldview has been made accessible to the English-speaking world. It is an important work, perhaps even what we call a “game-changer.”  — Timothy Keller, Hope in Times of Fear


Lived Vocation: Stories of Faith at Work Timothy K. Snyder (Fortress Press) $21.99 – OUR SALE PRICE = $17.59

I like that Dr. David Jensen academic Dean and Professor of Austin Presbyterian Seminary, calls this author, Timothy Snyder, a “theological Studs Terkel.” It’s a great and appropriate phrase, but for those who may not be old enough to recall, Terkel — sort of a blue collar-type, cigar-chomping, Chicago union guy and award winning oral historian  —achieved all kinds of acclaim when in the 1970s he did a massive and riveting book called Working which was mostly interviews with hundreds of people, many sharing their deep disgust of feeling alienated from their work, often doing dirty and dangerous jobs to little acclaim.

There was in that book the good, the bad, and the ugly, as we used to say, and Working set off a flurry of concern about regaining the dignity of work. This, naturally, set up both mainline denominational folks and socially-engaged evangelicals to speak about vocation and calling, the way work matters in God’s common grace to keep the world flourishing, and how the problems voiced by Terkel’s interviewees night be mitigated by Christian thinking and gospel influence. From Lutheran leaders like William Diehl to American Calvinists like RC Sproul to Dutch Kuyperians in Canada, distinctively Christian views of work were arising in the 1970s and these influences shaped our thinking about the nature of our own calling as booksellers and how we curated our own bookstore’s inventory (with sections for teachers, counselors, lawyers, scientists, engineers, businesspeople, nurses, journalists, and so on.) Lee Hardy took some of this in with us in Pittsburgh in the early 1980s and soon published his enduring book Fabric of Work: Inquirers into Calling, Career Choice, and the Design of Human Work and another Pittsburgh friend fro those years, Steve Garber, wrote, eventually Visions of Vocation.

Years later, we we delighted to learn that Tim Keller and Katherine Alsdorf, a congregant who was a corporate executive of some note, started the Redeemer Center for Faith and Work. That sort of center to equip workers in their careers areas has been duplicated all over the country (see, for instance, the stellar work of the Denver Institute on Faith and Work, just for one example) or consider the energetic evangelical efforts of Made to Flourish, founded by Tom Nelson (author of Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work.) Most groups draw on books like Keller & Alsdorf’s Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work and a thorough, serious study by Amy Sherman, Kingdom Callings: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good. A few even order my own edited collection, Serious Dreams: Bold Ideas for the Rest of Your Life which is a great gift for college graduates entering the work world.

Which brings us back to this new collection of inspiring stories of work and faith. I like that Snyder (who teaches at General Theological Seminary in NYC) admits to a lot of rethinking of his own sense of calling and vocation as he explores those who have a sense of vocation about their own seemingly secular work. If Terkel’s interviews gave voice to oppression and dissatisfaction, Snyder hears everyday people affirming a sense of God’s presence in their own lives and how theology is done by common folks in the seemingly mundane. That he interviewed as a Lutheran other Lutheran people is unique, but doesn’t change the urgency of this kind of book for all of us.

It is hoped (or so the back cover suggests) that these interviews and Snyder’s reflections in Lived Vocations “will help leaders empathize with the difficulties of integrating faith in everyday life today and will encourage them to tell stories of their own.” He’s an astute listener and good storyteller and in this sense is, indeed, a theological Studs Terkel, and it is special (although not extraordinary, these days) that he calls for a theology of improvisation, of incarnation, of thinking together about the meaning of God’s call.

Breaking Bread: The Emergence of Eucharist and Agape in Early Christian Communities Alistair C. Stewart (Eerdmans) $49.99 – OUR SALE PRICE = $39.99

This is brand new and I cannot say much about it other than to note that the author is known as an extraordinary scholar, impeccable and honest, and an expert in early church studies. He is a working Anglican priest in the UK who does this historical theology. His book The Original Bishops on the development of offices and order of the church is widely discussed among those who study the first few hundred years of church history.

Most of us have heard of the agape feast which we are told was a common practice in the earliest communities of Christ-followers. How and when did eucharist, as such, develop? What is the difference between Eucharist and agape? How did each “meal rite” come to be? And, importantly, given that the practice and spirituality of these rituals developed and evolved, is it sensible to try to recreate early Christian practice in our contemporary congregations?

Here is what a few key scholars say about Breaking Bread.

Although in the past Alistair and I have usually found ourselves on opposite sides of debates about early Christian worship, his latest book evokes nothing but praise from me for its comprehensive and highly detailed approach to the subject. — Paul F. Bradshaw, University of Notre Dame

Alistair Stewart’s work is always rigorous as well as creative, and the deployment of his acute interpretive skills to the question of eucharistic origins in such a thorough way as this is very welcome. Even where we disagree, his probing analysis does not fail to shed new light, and this account will now be a necessary point of reference for the topic.  — Andrew McGowan Yale Divinity School

Wonder Confronts Certainty: Russian Writers on the Timeless Questions and Why Their Answers Matter Gary Saul Morton (Belknap / Harvard University Press) $37.95 – OUR SALE PRICE = $30.36

While this book is just under 500 pages, it feels heavier, and, for me, will be slow going. But, my, oh my, what an education — like taking an advanced study of Russian history and culture and Russian literature. The introduction alone is nearly 40 dense pages and I had to talk with Beth about some of it (and we both fled to google to look up the various Nicholas’s and Alexandria’s.) No country has valued literature as have the Russians, says Professor Morton, and no people group have loved to argue about the obscurities of the deepest things about the meaning of life than the quintessential Russian; he makes his point with a brief look at “The Grand Inquisitor” piece in Dostoevsky and a famous part of The Brothers Karamazov in which Ivan speaks with Alyosha about Russian boys in a “stinking tavern” talking about the eternal questions.

The history of injustice, the inequities and wars, the Russian genocide and the terrible invention of brutal Soviet communism puts the quest for big answers into extreme relief. At the heart of the second portion are three big chapters exploring what he describes as three types of thinkers, “The Wanderer: Pilgrim of Ideas”, “The Idealist: Incorrigible and Disappointed” and “The Revolutionist: Pure Violence.” Wonder Confronts Certainty covers so much and is such a magisterial force that it will become known as a classic, I am sure.

A compelling and necessary book. Drawing on a vast fund of knowledge of Russian history and literature and a fine understanding of Russian fiction, Morson joins together two large subjects: a riveting — and scary — account of the Russian cult of murder from nineteenth-century terrorism to its continuation in Soviet state terror, and its humanistic antidote in the great Russian novelists. — Robert Alter, author of The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary

An impeccable contribution to literary criticism, social philosophy, and philosophical anthropology. Against debilitating nihilism and secular and religious fundamentalism, it affirms dialogue, conversation, and the ‘polyphonic’ expression of rich and diverse personal points of view. Morson embodies the best insights of the Russian literary tradition he sets out to illuminate. — Daniel J. Mahoney, author of The Statesman as Thinker: Portraits of Greatness, Courage, and Moderation

A profound, passionate, and wholly original celebration of Russian realism as both literary school and way of life. Invoking bitter historical precedent, Morson shows us that reality itself —t he sensual, moral experience of living and loving actual humans — requires an able defender in the face of alluring theoretical abstractions, perfect futures, and idealized visions of humanity. And who better to defend the prosaic elements of lived experience than those writers whose unprecedented achievements depended on their ability to describe it so well? — Yuri Corrigan, author of Dostoevsky and the Riddle of the Self



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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 slow. For one typical book, usually, it’s about $3.85; 2 lbs would be $4.55.
  • United States Postal Service has another 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. We’re happy to figure out your options for you once we know what you want.

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Sadly, 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 water tables to see the amount of virus in the eco-system. It’s important to be particularly aware of how risks we take might effect the public good. It is complicated for us, so we are still closed for in-store browsing due to our commitment to public health (and the safety of our family, staff, and customers.) The vaccination rate here in York County is sadly lower than average. Our store is a bit cramped without top-notch ventilation, so we are trying to be wise. 

We will certainly keep you posted about our future plans… we are eager, but delayed, for now.

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20 new books highlighted, all on sale. ORDER from Hearts & Minds

Welcome to one of these big omnibus BookNotes where I list a whole bunch of new books that have recently arrived here to our shop in Dallastown. Some are brand spanking new! I haven’t read many of them carefully yet, but a few I have and a few are on my bedroom stack, along with novels and old books and manuscripts of forthcoming works friends have sent that I promised I’d look at.

Still, with what a friend called the “spiritual gift of bibliography” and a bit of intuition gleaned from years of honing the art of skimming — starting with footnotes, naturally — we want to announce these with vigor. They aren’t the only new books that have showed up here at the shop this month, but they sure seem fabulous; most are sure-fire recommendations. We’re glad to amplify their message a bit and give these worthy authors a hearty shout-out.

Please use the order link at the bottom of this column. I’ll answer back promptly to confirm the details. All books will receive our BookNotes 20% off. Thanks for being a reader.

Being God’s Image: Why Creation Still Matters Carmen Joy Imes (IVP) $22.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $17.60

I am only going to give a big shout out here to this recent release because I so badly want to do a longer review soon. It is perhaps the most important Biblical studies book I have read all year, and one that is interesting, accessible, clear, and written with a rare grace and charm, despite professor Imes’s serious scholarship. Beth and I met Dr. Imes at the big Jubilee conference in Pittsburgh where she opened the conference with one of the best talks on “creation” as the start of the big Biblical story we have ever had at that longstanding Jubilee conference. It is not insignificant that J. Richard Middleton (who has also graced the stage at Jubilee) wrote a lively and helpful forward to Imes’s book. He, as you may know, wrote the definitive scholarly account of what it means to be made in the Imago Dei. She stands on his shoulders and re-articulates much of his vision of responsible humans caring for God’s world.

This is as foundational as nearly anything as we ponder our role in the complex world, our relationships, our sexuality, our politics, in deed, the texture and direction of our salvation. Being God’s Image is a book that helps us understand redemption.  Believe me.

You may know her first popular volume, the excellent Bearing God’s Name: Why Sinai Still Matters. This backs up from the giving of the law to the meaning of being made in God’s image. She looks at the creation narratives and plumbs their meaning for gender relations and work, certainly for our care for creation and, yes, the nature of our eternal destiny. Throughout, by the way, she has Bible Project video links, which is very helfpul. Contemporary scholars from Nijay Gupta and Amy Peeler grace the back cover with raves. This is a great, grand, book and I am almost positive you will learn new things and I am surely positive you will be inspired and glad. Highly recommended.

Life Worth Living: A Guide to What Matters Most Miroslav Volf, Matthew Croasmun, and Ryan McCannally-Linz  (Viking) $29.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $23.20

This is a fascinating book, thoughtful and pleasantly written by three honest guides inviting folks to consider and more deeply embrace what they believe about the deepest questions of life (and how to live well.) It is very much related to a popular class they teach at Yale. They say up front (in a very helpful introduction explaining their approach and what to expect) that they are Christians and that inevitably shapes and informs (as any worldview perspective would, always) their opinions of things, but that very perspective calls them to be gracious and honest and present all views as fairly as they can. This is not a world religions handbook, although it draws on various classic world religions and cites philosophers and thinkers from a variety of views. (Just because they explain them and even commend them doesn’t mean they agree with them all.)  It draws on varying perspectives who help readers sort through what matters most, what to decide about key topics about a meaningful life.

It is more winsome and varied in view, say, than the excellent, succinct and eloquent The Great Quest: Invitation to an Examined Life and a Sure Path to Meaning by Os Guinness (which would make a great supplement to the Volf volume.) Although Life Worth Living isn’t a handbook of primary source readings, it seems to share a vision with the magisterial collection released by Eerdmans a decade ago, Leading Lives That Matter: What We Should Do and Who We Should Be edited by Mark Schwehn & Dorothy Bass. Know what you believe, who you are, and what you sense life is to be about or not, Life Worth Living seems like a resource you should have about. Buy it and I am sure it will come in handy, for you, or a person you are guiding.

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

This, dear friends and fellow BookNotes followers, is surely one of the great books of 2023 and one of the books I’m enjoying most, a great, great read and a great gift for this tired soul. I’ve been waiting for it and opened it with glee when an early copy arrived. What a great writer she is, and what a great book this is. It is beautiful without being overly luminous, creative without being eccentric, academic without being heady, and delightfully full of Holberg’s own good-humored and poignant stories while still being somewhat of a college text. I’m guessing there was some in-house discussion within IVP if it should even be on their academic imprint because it is so very readable and so very enjoyable, whether one is likely to care about literary criticism, close readings of poems, or not. She is an English prof at Calvin University, but, whew, this sure doesn’t come across as a dry tome or treatise. What a blast.

Nourishing Narratives is so delightfully written and it will be loved by anyone who likes authors who draw on great literature. Already in the first few chapters Dr. Holberg — alongside tender stories of her girlhood, the death of her mother, and then her dad, and myriad personal remembrances — she cites Flannery O’Conner, Frederick Buechner, Marilyn Robinson, Dante, Mary Oliver, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, T.S. Eliot and George Eliot, and more. All the greats, ya know?

She weaves good Bible reflections, insights from John Calvin, Walter Brueggemann and Julian of Norwich, and, again, she is just getting started. What a thoughtful, well-researched and excellent example of uniquely Christian, faith-formed scholarship.

I suppose this book will eventually be stocked in our “books about books” section, but, actually, it may have to go under worldview formation since it is not literary criticism as such. Her thesis is that we live by stories, that humans are “story-shaped creatures.” We are encouraged not only to “understand how stories nourish our faith, but to discover how our stories are part of God’s great story.” This is narrative theology by a lover of poems, story-shaped worldview by a teacher of great novels.

Just listen to these wonderful blurbs about the book which are just so enchanting:

Threading her own stories with rich reflection on biblical narratives and on the novels and poems she has taught and loved, Jennifer Holberg offers here a beautiful way of understanding what it means to live by stories. Nourishing Narratives is a rich celebration of cookbooks, dog walking, Dante, college life, embracing solitude, and living in communities bound together by shared stories that equip them to see one another through whatever life brings. Every page offers food for thought and thanksgiving. — Marilyn McEntyre, author of Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies and When Poets Pray

Pull up a chair and let this master storyteller gently question and correct the destructive stories we often rely on to make sense of our lives. In an age marked by narratives of stress-inducing scarcity and individual achievement, Jennifer Holberg invites us to instead live out truer narratives of abundant friendship and restorative hope.  Holberg is a wise guide to the faithful, life-giving stories that Christians are called to inhabit. — Jeffrey Bilbro professor of English at Grove City College, author of Reading the Times: A Literary and Theological Inquiry Into the News

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 On Reading Well and the forthcoming 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 —i t 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, You Are What You Love

The Spacious Path: Practicing the Restful Ways of Jesus in a Fragmented World Tamara Hill Murphy (Herald Press) $18.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

This author is a serious and thoughtful Anglican spiritual director who writes for thoughtful journals like The Englewood Review of Books and Plough. She honors writers like Michelle Van Loon and Marlena Graves as literary mentors, thanks good people like my friend Ned Bustard, and has a forward by W. David O. Taylor (whose book Bodies of Praise, which I celebrated a month ago, is one of the most fascinating books of the year.) This book seems as spacious as the title implies and the footnotes (ranging from Wendell Berry to Scott Russell Saunders to Tish Warren Harris and Esther de Waal) are delicious. Her breadth of reading is notable and her depth of insight is profound. I admire Tamara a lot.

The book is about a lot of things but at its heart is the invitation of The Spacious Path to develop a rule of life. Yes, it is about slowing down and taking up counter-cultural practices but that means being intentional about discerning ways to enter into life-giving rhythms. She knows well what she’s talking about. In this, finally, I think it is finally about finding freedom. I can’t wait to read this carefully.  Perhaps you will too.

Everybody Come Alive: A Memoir in Essays Marcie Alias Walker (Convergent) $27.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $21.60

I was so excited when I first heard that this was coming and have been anticipating it ever since. The author is the creator of the famous Instagram sensation and blog Black Coffee with White Friends (and has a Substack newsletter, Black Eyes Stories.) She is a hip writer, cool and funny and incredibly talented as a vibrant wordsmith. Some of the moving essays are creative nonfiction and wild. Others are pretty much memoir, pieces about her being raised (in a mostly white town) in Ohio in the late 1970s and coming to terms with becoming a black woman. The cover of the book just shouts that era, doesn’t it? What a hoot.

This is provocative and good, a call to be inclusive and present and alive. There are endorsements from all manner of edgy recent writers, from Karen Warlord (The Lightmaker’s Manifesto) and the great J.S. Park, a hospital chaplain whose book The Voices We Carry got a rave review from BookNote a year or so ago.

Sara Rao, co-author of White Women, says “Everybody Come Alive is, quite simply, a work of art — beauty, pain, humor, and gospel wrapped into one stunning book.”

“Everybody Come Alive is, quite simply, a work of art — beauty, pain, humor, and gospel wrapped into one stunning book.”

Why the Gospel? Living the Good News of King Jesus with a Purpose Matthew W. Bates (Eerdmans) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

I hope you have at least heard of professor Matthew Bates (a Protestant theology teacher at a Catholic university) and his two recent, much-discussed books. Salvation by Allegiance Alone is a major project and Gospel Allegiance is a more brief and accessible version. Both are, as the titles suggest, about how fidelity to the covenant known in the Kingdom of God are central aspects of our discipleship following King Jesus.

This short book asking “why?” is easy to read and yet thoughtful, a Bible primer on what he means (and more importantly, what the Scriptures mean)s by the phrase King Jesus. Salvation and grace and forgiveness of sins through the atonement are central, of course, but the cross and resurrection and ascension of our Lord signals something more: the inauguration of the reign of God. Somewhat aligned with the work of N.T. Wright and Scot McKnight and Michael Gorman, say, this slim book invites us to ask why Christ came and why the gospel is good news. Skye Jethani says “Matthew Bates has written the book our generation needs.” This is the radical message of Jesus and the Apostles and it will not surprise you to hear me say that it is a book most churches really, really need. There are plenty of discussion questions after each chapter making it ideal for a book club or small group study or a Sunday school class.

Anyone who sense that the gospel they’ve received is a tepid and ineffective counterfeit to God’s revelation of grace and power will benefit from Bate’s bold reminder that Jesus is King.” — Amy Peeler, New Testament professor at Wheaton College; author of Woman and the Gender of God

Ancient Echoes: Refusing the Fear-Filled, Greed-Driven Toxicity of the Far Right Walter Brueggemann (Fortress Press) $16.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.56

Have I mentioned this? I featured it at two off cite events a few weeks back but maybe haven’t highlighted it here. There is also a new collection of Brueggemann prayers (Acting in the Wake: Prayers for Justice) that just came out and by the end of the week we hope to have his brand new collection of essays about words — The Peculiar Dialect of Faith which will be quintessential; as one reviewer notes, Walt makes us feel that we truly are “deputized  to speak in a new tongue.”  Pre-order it now.

This small recent one called Ancient Echos is easy to explain; get this: Just a few years ago journalist and critic Kurt Anderson did a major book, Evil Geniuses, which was an expose and study of eight “truth claims” of the far right. In Ancient Echos Brueggemann replies to these assumptions and assertions of the radical right with long-standing ancient wisdom, direct from the Bible.

Of course these eight claims are not the only thing being said by the far right, and Anderson’s collating of them is not the only way to summarize their worldview. But it is a start, as far as it goes, and Brueggemann is succinct, clear, and prophetic in is standing in and under the Word of God At moments he offers nuance. Other times he thunders. This is a must-have little book.

Now I Become Myself: How Deep Grace Heals Our Shame and Restores Our True Self Ken Shigematsu (Zondervan) $19.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

Anyone who follows the last few decades of writings about spirituality and spiritual formation will know the language of recovering our “true selves.” It goes back in the literature (Merton, for instance) and even though it isn’t my favorite formulation, it is rich and popular. Ken Shigematsu (a former international business executive, Regent College grad and pastor in Vancouver) wrote a remarkable book on slowing down and encountering God, and another, God in My Everything which is a fantastic study of cultivating a sense of GOd’s presence in all things. He has drawn on some Eastern influences (he worked in Japan) and is a delightful preacher and teacher. This new one looks sweet, with a lovely forward by Max Lucado.Endorsements on the back cover are from John Mark Comer, Danielle Strickland, and Rich Villodas.

Listen, for instance, to what Rich Villodas says:

“The universal struggle with shame is so multilayered that we need an integrated, robust approach to be free from it. Ken Shiegmatsu has offered us just the gift.”

The Anxiety Opportunity: How Worry Is the Doorway to Your Best Self Curtis Chang (Zondervan) $18.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

We’ve already got some orders of this brand new book and we can say that the author is extraordinarily smart. His first book, Engaging Unbelief, a few decades ago used Aquinas and Augustine as seminal figures in formulating a way to engage skeptics of faith being taken in by postmodernity and postmodernism. Now he is a “consulting faculty member” of Duke Divinity sSchool and a senior fellow at Fuller Theological Seminary (and somewhat of a journalistic gadfly, showing up on NPR or PBS or The New York Times.) He hosts a significant podcast called Good Faith that helps Christians understand the wider world.

He is our kind of guy in many ways,

And yet this is a book about suffering from anxiety; Chang himself has experienced these nagging feelings and deep worries. The book’s main thesis is in this question, emblazoned on the back: “What if instead of battling anxiety, we saw it as a profound new way to relate to Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and those we love?”

Or, as psychiatrist and author Curt Thompson puts it, this book offers, “A doorway that leads to the God who is waiting for us in the very presence of our anxiety.”  Or, as Dan Allender says, it is “Tender, theologically vibrant, and psychologically wise.” Not bad, eh?

“Tender, theologically vibrant, and psychologically wise.” — Dan Allender, Redeeming Heartache

There is in the back of the book a link to a 7-week course (the first week free) based on The Anxiety Opportunity.

The Augustine Way: Retrieving a Vision for the Churches Apologetic Wisdom Joshua Chatraw & Mark Allen (Baker Academic) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

Perhaps you saw my reference to the above author, Curtis Chang’s older book on Augustine as a basis for modern apologetics. He has a rave blurb on this one, as do many other important thinkers, from Rowan Williams to Sarah Coakley, Kristen Deede Johnson to Keith Plummer.

This book is essentially a thought experiment: what would Augustine likely say or do as a pastor today; how would he articulate and defend the faith?  As Alister McGrath puts it, “This ‘’apologetics of retrieval’ opens up some theologically rich and apologetically compelling approaches.”

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

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

Guerrillas of Grace: Prayers for the Battle 40th Anniversary Edition Ted Loder (with art by Ed Kearns) (Fortress Press) $19.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

Ahh, I recall selling this at a UCC event when FOMOG (First United Methodist Church of Germantown) pastor Ted Loder presented maybe 35 years ago; it was a different publisher but we were enamored by his deep prayer language, his poetic cadence, his rich vocabulary, his honest, public theology, his passion for the poor and for inclusive and justice. There was, as there is now, a lovely blurb on the back by Robert Raines, then director of Kirkridge Retreat Center.

These prayers are “tough and beautiful” — earthy. They are honest and intimate. The old Provident Book Finder (a Mennonite review) said the free verse prayers are “complemented by abstract art that invites participation. These modern-day psalms are sometimes jolting in their colloquialism and other times moving in their sublimity.” The St Anthony Messenger noted that these prayers can be so savored (and shared) because they were “blended with penetrating honesty.” Hooray for this new edition.

Activist, scholar, pastor, and writer, Rev. Dr. Theodore W. Loder died in Philadelphia in 2021 at age 90.

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

Okay, I’ll admit I wasn’t sure what to make of this at first. We are interested in childbirth, midwifery, home birth, and the like but we weren’t sure if this was a “how to” guide or a more philosophical treatise. I thought it might be something like Showing by Agnes Howard (Eerdmans) or Motherhood: A Confession by Natalie Carnes (Standford University Press.) Well, not quite. The blurbs on the back — which are just splendid! — by visual artist and cultural leader Makoto Fujimura (who called it a “resplendent tapestry”) and award winning poet Christian Wiman (who said it was “lucid, provocative, and groundbreaking”) are curious and inviting. Both are authors of Christian faith, also interesting. Sumana Roy (How I Became a Tree) says, “I will read Natality again and again to feel alive, to be reborn.”

It is said to be “an exhilarating exploration of natality, a much needed counterpoint to mortality, drawing on the insights of brilliant writers and thinkers.” Okay, get that: natality, a counterpoint to mortality.

It is not, then, I have come to realize, about childbirth baby-care as such. Yet, stories about our birth, about being alive, are haunting and formative; it is a fact, after all, that we were all born. This is not seriously explored much, it seems, and Banks is a remarkable storyteller, diving deeply into previous unplumbed narratives of Adrianne Rich and Sojourner Truth and Hannah Arendt and Mary Wollstonecraft and Toni Morrison, among others. I suppose it makes sense that the first person to pre-order this from us is a political philosopher, the second, an anti-poverty activist with a PhD in economics.

I noticed in Jennifer Banks’s acknowledgements that she thanks the exquisite editor of Comment, Anne Snyder, and, not surprisingly with chapter titles like “The Soil is Still Rich Enough” and “The Workshop of Filthy Creation”, Norman Wirzba.  I think this looks really important and rich and singular. She works in editorial at Yale University Press.

Social Justice for the Sensitive Soul: How to Change the World in Quiet Ways Dorcas Cheng-Tozun (Broadleaf) $26.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59

When I ordered this before seeing it I figured it would be a lovely, gentle, gracious invitation to make a difference in the world without agitating and protesting, sort of a kinder, gentler sort of activism. Slow, behind the scenes, quiet. And it is. Sort of. But, oh my. I’ve been learning so much, reading much out loud to my wife in the evenings.

You see, this book is actually about those who are understood as “highly sensitive” and/or introverts. I can’t tell you what that looks like on the Meyers-Briggs assessment scale or what Enneagram number that comes to (okay, Cheng-Tozun tell us that she is an INFJ and an Enneagram 4), but it is a certain sort of person, including the highly empathic. It is a rather cumbersome set of traits, what kids today say is a thing. The author gives some definitions and stats early on.

For instance, those who are highly sensitive have “sensory processing sensitivity” or “high emotional sensitivity” — which includes more easily triggered nervous systems and cognitive processes which are quickly and frighteningly affected by incoming stimuli. “They tend towards,” she explains, “shifting emotions, anxiety, and being withdrawn, as well as an openness to experiences.” (Yes, that seems a bit counterintuitive, but I know it can be so.) She reports that scholar Dr. Elaine Aron “estimates that up to 20 percent of the population are HSPs.” (And, by the way, she reports that recent studies of serotonin- and dopamine-regulating genes have shown that high sensitivity is predominantly innate. Cheng-Tozun writes, “We are simply born this way, preprogrammed and hard-wired to be more attuned to stimuli and to more deeply process them.”)

Well, whatever you may know about or think about those with this personality quality, there are many — given their tendency to empathy, too — who want to make a difference in the world, repairing the evils. They want to speak out about injustice, stand up, be involved. But as introverts or HSPs, how can they take on the struggles? And if they are people of faith, how do they respond in fruitful ways to the call of the prophets, the stories of Good Samaritans, the mandate to love our neighbors and seek the common good? Such beckoning calls from the Bible and pulpits can be daunting for any of us on a good day. And this doesn’t even consider (as this book does) questions of compassion fatigue and burnout.

Of the hundreds of books I have read on social justice concerns, I don’t think I have ever had one anything like this. Dorcas Cheng-Tozun (who has worked with various nonprofits, social enterprises, and faith-based organizations) has been involved in many campaigns and projects and knows what social change advocates go through.

Social Justice for the Sensitive Soul is a winner of a book adding something truly new to the literature, inspiring all of us, any of us, I’m sure. It celebrates the unique gifts and talents of those who are highly sensitive and introverted.

I think those who see themselves in this way will be inspired. If you see yourself in this way, and have a desire to stand for justice, this book is really for you. You will celebrate it and appreciate it so much. You will feel heard and seen and will be guided into ways to serve the public good in your own particular ways. Certain creatives might find good insight here too, on discerning how best to be involved in change making activism. This is not the same as honoring those who are neurodiverse, but that seems like a close, parallel conversation as well.

I think if you are a HSP or introvert and you don’t care much about social justice issues, this book could invite you into the journey. There are other books that make the faith-based argument perhaps with greater focus but because this one speaks your language, you might find it particularly compelling. As Anita Nowak (author of Purposeful Empathy and a lecturer at the prestigious McGill University) puts it, “Cheng-Tozun offers a brilliant thesis and a timely message penned with the authenticity of lived experience.” It is, Nowak continues, “part love-letter and part manifesto; it is a must read.”

Thirdly, if you are an extrovert or eager activist who is not familiar with those who are HSP or overly empathetic and prone to anxiety attacks or burnout and the like, it would be useful for you to have this under your belt. Leaders must be aware of what others are going through and rather than belittle the under-committed or judge those who can’t show up for your big events, you could use the insights offered here to create space for and collaborative partnerships with those with unique gifts. This really is a matter of justice itself and if we want to build a more inclusive, gracious world, we might want to consider how our own movements treat those with personality uniqueness.

Buy Social Justice for the Sensitive Soul today. We can “change the world in quiet ways.”

Living That Matters: Honest Conversations for Men of Faith Steve Thomas & Don Neufeld (Herald Press) $18.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

I do not have to explain much about how there was, a few decades ago, a whole raft of books, a boatload, yeah, a truckload of books about men. Most were earnest, evangelical, common-sensical, and many had this sort of sub-text or vibe implying a conventional tough sort of masculinity. You should read (I beg you to read) the wise historical study Jesus and John Wayne by Kristin Kobes Du Mez which exposes some of the militaristic and far right ideologies that came into the Promise Keepers organization and shaped too much of the evangelical focus on men’s ministry. All that dried up, it seems, and there are now a few more balanced books and a few more thoughtful guides about being faithful men. (For instance, see the recent IVP release Non-Toxic Masculinity: Recovering Healthy Male Sexuality by Zachary Wagner. From another perspective, I’m eager to consider The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes by Nancy Pearcey, coming this summer from Baker Books.)

Living That Matters, though, is not just about “non-toxic male sexuality” (a la Wagner) and it isn’t about gender reconciliation from a conservative Reformed worldview (as Pearcey will be) but covers a whole range of issues, inviting men to be faithful to Christ in a exceptionally engaged, spiritually alive, gentle sort of way. That the authors are Mennonites means a lot to this project — one runs a pacifist martial arts school, the other is a social worker and therapist who coordinated Mennonite Men in Canada. They invite honest conversations about what matters most for men, “with a focus on following Jesus, forming community, and building peace.” There are short reflections on over seventy topics which will help individuals (or, better, small groups) deepen relationships, with God and others, and equip guys to be agents of Christ’s shalom in the world, even for and within creation.

There is a website that goes with the book and there are links to bunches of short videos that further explore some of the topics. There are good reflection questions. This is mature, thoughtful, and delightfully offering what Presbyterian pastor Joel Blank describes on the back as “an alternative vision that men of faith can embrace — a vision that involves community, contemplation, conversation, and faithful action.” This book is a treasure trove full of ideas, devotional-like meditations, conversations starters, and an appendix full of experiments, resources, and discernment exercises.

The Gift of Restlessness: A Spirituality for Unsettled Seasons Casey Tygrett (Broadleaf) $18.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

This brand new book comes from an author we very much appreciate, a director of spiritual direction practice for Soul Care (“which helps church and nonprofit leaders restore health to their souls.”) His IVP book Becoming Curious was a great blast and The Practice of Remembering, also IVP, was quite moving to me; rich and thoughtful. This new one looks very good.

It is asking how we can imagine our faith and sense an openness to growth even “when pressed into restless seasons in our relationships, work, or faith.” In those times, he says, we know we “can’t go back” but we feel like we “can’t stay here.” But what if we sort of could?  That is, working in the tradition of contemplatives like Henri Nouwen or even Barbara Brown Taylor, he wonders if restlessness isn’t a problem to be solved but an invitation of the soul. The back cover promises that Casey “turns over our innermost questions and holds them up to the light.”

The publisher says this about it, noting that some of the book is a study of the Lord’s Prayer:

“In that ancient prayer’s pleas for belonging, purpose, sustenance, mending, protection, and rescue, we find freedom to ask basic human questions and permission to befriend our longings. Each chapter offers profoundly spiritual practices that, when taken together, create a spirituality sturdy enough for our unsettled seasons.”

In a culture that values happiness and self-actualization, we often race toward the pat resolution or the quick fix. But in doing so, we miss the subtle gifts of unsettled times. Remaining in restlessness, rather than rushing toward the next job, vacation, or partner, moves us deeper into the life of the Spirit and our own belovedness.

This book is honest and raw and real, unafraid to wade into the waters of restlessness, to help us understand that it is not a pain to be avoided but a gift to be received. — James Bryan Smith, The Good and Beautiful God

Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics for Everyone — The Doctrine of God: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners & Pros Marty Folsom (Zondervan Academic) $36.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $29.59

We had a blast selling Volume 1 of this “guided tour of one of the greatest theological works of the twentieth century.” This is the eagerly awaited Volume 2. It offers 370 well- designed and expertly-realized, informative pages. Hooray.

I described in great detail in our first BookNotes description of the first volume just how this works, a clear-headed and non-technical overview of Barth’s Church Dogmatics written with astute insight but in plain language. It breaks down and clarifies Barth’s notoriously complex magnum opus better than any other overview of which we know. Along with the first one, (Volume 1, on The Doctrine of the Word of God) this is simply a must-have resource for anyone interested in Barth studies.

What is also fun is that after the major section, it features brief reflections on the value of Church Dogmatics for “creative discovery in other academic disciplines.” This new Volume 2 includes brief reflections by Chris Tilling (biblical studies), David Guretzki (systematic theology), Earl Palmer (pastoring), James Houston (spiritual formation), Andrew Howie (mental health), Ross Hastings (science) and Jeremy Begbie (the arts.) Wyatt Houtz delightfully weighs in representing “ordinary people.” Three big cheers.

A Burning House: Redeeming American Evangelicalism by Examining Its History, Mission, and Message Brandon Washington (Zondervan) $26.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59

Although I have only begun this, I have been anxious to see it. Anxious because I am glad that, like several other recent books, many evangelicals are themselves in a process of self-reflection and even repentance, and that may be some hard owing up to things for some of us. Although we serve a lot of mainline denominational congregations and have always been a part of mainline churches, our spiritual and intellectual roots have generally been more evangelical in nature. So this may be too close for comfort.

Washington is a black church leader that graduated fro Denver Seminary (and features a prominent quote on the dust jacked by their former President and a personal hero of mine, Dr. Vernon Grounds. I met Dr Grounds at an event with Ron Sider decades ago and before he passed he would call us from time to time, just to check in. He was a gentleman and a scholar, as they say, and an evangelical of the sort that was wholistic, deeply rooted in the gospel of the Kingdom, and cared about a good witness in the culture.) If Washington honors Vernon Grounds, I’m interested.

Also, just to offer a bit of a framework, Brandon Washington also contributed to the edited volume on black apologetics by Eric Mason called Urban Apologetics: Restoring Black Dignity with the Gospel; his thoughtful chapter was “Philosophy and Worldview.”

Some of this looks at the foible of various aspects of the evangelical tradition — the role of reason, say, missing, too often, the whole gospel message, the question of what he calls “ortho-balance” and right practice. It is really good, I think, for ex-evangelicals or those pondering the viability of their faith. Many others have said some of this, but it is important that it comes in this book, framed as it is by the complicity of evangelicalism in the sin of slavery and racial injustice.

In a way, this is a study of evangelicalism’s role in what Jemar Tisby has so eloquently documented more broadly in his now classic Color of Compromise. Can a faith tradition somewhat compromised by the sin of racism be redeemed? How do we move away from the weaknesses of compartmentalization and embrace — as many early evangelical leaders did! —a healthy merging of right belief and right behavior.

Black urban pastor from Philadelphia, Eric Mason, wrote an excellent forward to this book. He says it is “enormously important in our time” calling it “a seminal tome.” There is hard hitting scholarship as well as great godliness and grace. I’m not just anxious to read this, I’m excited. Thanks be to God for this.

All God’s Children: How Confronting Buried History Can Build Racial Solidarity  Terence Lester (IVP) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

We have so, so many books about racial justice and we hardly tell you about most. If you heard of one, chances are we have it. We don’t sell enough of them, but every now and then one comes along that seems so right, so helpful, so good that we have to tell you. There are those that are really readable, clear-headed, frank, Biblical and gracious, by an author we respect. All God’s Children is one of those great, new books and Terence Lester is a fabulous author whose books we are eager to promote.

We have told you about his two previous works, wonderful little books by a guy about whom anyone who has met him seems to rave. He is the founder of Love Beyond Walls, an anti-poverty movement in Atlanta and wrote I See You and then When We Stand. He’s said by everyone who knows of him that he’s a really good guy.

In this new one, he explains how “the more you understand someone’s history, the better you can see their humanity.” That is the premise of his early I See You and here he turns it towards those of us who really need to “fill in the gaps of our collective knowledge” so we can deepen our understanding. This fills in some of those gaps with the too often buried history of the struggles of Black people have faced against unjust systems.

Just realizing those who commend this book should make you want to pick it up. We should listen to these leaders who rave about it — Lisa Sharon Harper, Marlena Graves, Jemar Tisby, Rohandi Nagassar, Heather Thompson Day, all great authors we respect.

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

I love books with the big picture, the long flow of ideas, that explore the very architecture of culture and how and why we got this way. I even like big books. I didn’t have the patience though, to try to understand Taylor’s massive A Secular Age but I loved Smith’s summary. I suppose I’m not going to read a new one we just got in — The World: A Family History of Humanity by Simon Sebag Montefiore, even if Simon Schama says it is a “staggering achievement.” It may be a tour de force but it is 1300 pages!

Bulwarks of Unbelief, though, is less than 300 pages, counting endnotes, and seems slim, if solidly hefty. It is, I think, a major work that I hope some of our readers will want to know about.

The forward is by Carl Trueman, who writes that “This is an important book both in its argument and its proposals, a significant contribution to recent conversations about modernity, faith, and what it means to be human in a technological world.” It is the heady theology prof at Westminster-West Dr. Michael Horton who says “If you found Charles Taylor’s analysis persuasive, I think you’ll find Minich’s even more so.”

Wow. That’s quite a prediction.

From what I can gather, Minich offers a serious study of the spiritual condition of modernity which is shaped, in part, by material factors, factors that allow atheism (and other sorts of disbelief) to be so plausible, even attractive. One of these ideological factors emerges, again, from material facts; in this case, the rise of technology. (I love that he uses the phrase, referring to the rise of atheism, “a technocultural phenomenon.”  This, I think he will argue and explain, creates the likelihood for a nearly commonly-shared experience of the felt absence of God.

I was struck that Alastair Robert (connected to the remarkable Theopolis Institute) says that this book “resists temptations of nostalgic laments over disenchantment.” It has been called not only suggestive, but daring.  Hmmm.

Carpe Diem Redeemed: Seizing the Day, Discerning the Times Os Guinness (IVP) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

This deep but brief book came out in 2019 and I reviewed it favorably then. It has just now come out in paperback so wanted to announce it again. Os continues to be one of my favorite writers — even if I might push back a bit about a few things in a few of his recent books. But this? Oh my. I have read it three times now, and believe it is very important, if it is at places a bit dense. It is a studious meditation upon various philosophies of time, drawing a bit on Abraham Heschel’s remarkable book — Eugene Peterson once told me it was one of his favorites, ever — The Sabbath which explains how the ancient Hebrews “sacramentalize time.”  With clever plays on words and lots of quotes from both popular culture and ancient thinkers Os notes how our ubiquitous concerns about speed and efficiency  — its the water we swim in so we hardly realize how odd it is — is eroding not only Christian wisdom and truth but even human scale sanity. We seem to make idols of choice and change, buying into the very forces of modernity that are erode our personal health and our civilization’s standing. He calls us to a prophetic untimeliness, a radical sort of awareness of how clocks and computers influence us and then — yes — what it means to wisely discern the times so that we may seize the day.

There is nothing wrong with stepping up to our responsibilities in our own age and time. Os’s book The Call remains one of the great resources for all of us wanting to understand how God calls us into His world. Certainly we can use technology and be judicious about cultural artifacts and there are always pressures from the society in which we live. However, to wisely seize the day, we have to know what is worth seizing and what that means in our context. Can God use us to redeem the times, to serve Christ’s purposes in our generation? This small book will give us plenty to think about and much to ponder.



It is very helpful if you tell us how you prefer 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 slow. For one typical book, usually, it’s about $3.85; 2 lbs would be $4.55.
  • United States Postal Service has another 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. 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. Just saying “US Mail” isn’t helpful because there are those two methods, one cheaper but slower, one more costly but quicker. Which do you prefer?


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Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street  Dallastown  PA  17313

Sadly, 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 water tables to see the amount of virus in the eco-system. It’s important to be particularly aware of how risks we take might effect the public good. It is complicated for us, so we are still closed for in-store browsing due to our commitment to public health (and the safety of our family, staff, and customers.) The vaccination rate here in York County is sadly lower than average. Our store is a bit cramped without top-notch ventilation, so we are trying to be wise. 

We will certainly keep you posted about our future plans… we are eager, but delayed, for now.

We are doing our famous 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 do if you are in the area, do stop by.

Of course, we’re happy to ship books anywhere. 

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

The books of Timothy Keller — a Reader’s Guide // ALL BOOKS LISTED 20% OFF

As a small-town bookseller with a bit of a national customer base (as they inelegantly call our friends and BookNotes fans) I fret a lot over some things. For instance, I do not want to appear as if we are capitalizing on a national tragedy. We have a good list of books about gun violence and thoughtful titles about faith-based resistance to the idolatry of weapons, but we never want to run a post on that right after a school shooting or episode of mass violence. It just feels unseemly, and even though folks are more likely to buy books about that, then, I don’t want to be seen as exploiting a tragedy.

Similarly, we rarely try to sell the books of authors who have recently passed. (My two recent BookNotes posts about the writings of our dear friend Leslie Bustard being exceptions.) For instance, I just couldn’t bring myself to create a list of books by my friend Ron Sider when he died not long ago, although I wanted to and will eventually. We don’t want to seem pushy or callous to the grief of family members of folks that most of us don’t really know personally, even if it would be timely to offer such a list. From Frederick Buechner to Mike Gerson to Albert Borgman, this past year has seen the loss of important writers and spokespersons for the sort of faith perspective in which we stand. I hardly wrote at all about their good books, sensing it was just too soon.

A trusted friend or two suggested, though, that it might be helpful for folks to learn about the good books written by the late Timothy Keller. The internet is ablaze with great tributes and testimonials, some very well done and important.  See, just for a few (these shared by the excellent Faith Angle Forum) for instance:

David Brooks, “Tim Keller taught me about Joy” (New York Times)

Francis Collins, “A tribute to my friend, Tim Keller” (BioLogos)

Collin Hansen and Matt Lewis, “On Tim Keller’s legacy” (The Matt Lewis Show)

Michael Luo, “The far-seeing faith of Tim Keller” (The New Yorker)

Michael Wear, “The surprise of Tim Keller” (Comment)

Peter Wehner, “My friend, Tim Keller” (The Atlantic)

I met Tim several times, and talked to him on occasion, but we were nowhere near being close. Yet, I am mad about that cancer and sad for his family, friends and colleagues. I hope that our sharing this list doesn’t seem opportunistic. We think highly of his work and think our community of readers should consider his stuff (even for those of us, like myself, who have some misgivings about some of his views and disagree with some of his positions.) Here, then, is a list of most of his major works.

You can, as always, order these by using the link (scroll down to the end) to our secure order form page at our Hearts & Minds website. We will deduct our BookNotes 20% off all orders for any book listed and write back personally to confirm everything before we ship from our central Pennsylvania shop. We would be delighted to serve you in this way. Order on!!


The City for God: Essays Honoring the Work of Timothy Keller edited by Ned Bustard (Square Halo Books) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

I’ve reviewed this at length at BookNotes and have to remind you now that this came out less than a year ago, a great collection of inspiring and thought-provoking pieces by colleagues, friends, and those who simply take seriously his model of ministry. You will find pieces from Bill Edgar and Denis Haack, from Annie Nardone and Charlie Peacock, from Katherine Alsdorf and Jenny Chang, to name only a few. There is a great forward by Russell Moore. This is not as well known as it ought to be —it’s really, really good.

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

Again, this has garnered rave reviews, including a big shout-out at BookNotes where I exclaimed that it is absolutely fascinating. Whether one knows the authors and teachers and movements which have influenced Tim or not, it’s very cool to have this astute genealogy of his influences. He is not your typical evangelical megachurch pastor nor is he a typical social activist or edgy provocateur. His nonpartisan balance and winsome wisdom and insight makes him unique as an evangelical leader, His passion for a gospel-centered sense of grace which motivates folks to love God by serving neighbors in all sectors of life is nearly unique — perhaps seen within the Dutch strains of neo-Calvinism — and this book traces his varied influences. It is simply marvelous, recommended by the likes of historian George Marsden and African-American Bible study leader, Jackie Hill Perry, and the ever gracious Richard Mouw. Agree fully or not (who would?) this is a great read, and very highly recommended.


Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism Timothy Keller (Penguin) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

Published first in hardcover in 2008, this was, I think, his break-out book, with over a million copies sold. It is elegant, rigorous, culturally savvy, and provides intellectually credible replies to those with standard questions such as “Why does God allow suffering?” or “How can there only be one true religion?” or “Does a loving God send people to hell?” Library Journal called it “convincing and refreshing” and The Washington Post’s review said it was “A tight, accessible case for reasoned religious belief.” He describes the “new age of skepticism” and replies with thoughtfulness and grace. A few suggested he is a new C.S. Lewis, faithfully bringing together reason and imagination, cultural and literary awareness, who drew on Tolkien.

Making Sense of God: Finding God in the Modern World Timothy Keller (Penguin) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

A few years after Reason for God released, Keller tells us, he started to realize that the answers proffered there didn’t seem to take, weren’t the same questions the secular elite in his Manhattan circles were then asking. He had to dig deeper, back up, invite folks to ask questions about their presumed secular starting point and very notion of God. Considered “revelatory and thought-provoking”, Making Sense is for undecided seekers, secular skeptics, (and believers needing to understand the contemporary zeitgeist and the presumption that talk of God is not even sensible, let alone true or good or beautiful.) In many ways, this is more than a radical update to Reason for God but a prequel, a study of whether faith and religion can offer anything in the modern world, more foundational than the previous one. Deep and very, very impressive.

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

Those who have peeked at my adult Sunday school class on my Facebook page the last few weeks know that I have highlighted this with enthusiasm. It is a personal favorite, a delightful (if rigorous) exploration of the Biblical notion of hope. Christian hope, of course, is grounded in the reality and truthfulness of the vindicating bodily resurrection of Christ. In that regard, this explains Easter and explores what resurrection means. He says N.T. Wright’s magisterial Resurrection and the Son of God cannot be bettered as a Biblical and historical foundation, so he did not try; rather, this is pastoral, sermonic, an explanation of the aspects of hope we can embody, now. There are twelve excellent chapters and I love how near the end he cites Noel Paul Stookey’s old song “Building Block.” That’s it! Hope in Times of Fear is a great, great book.

Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ Timothy Keller (Penguin) $16.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $12.80

This is short, even as a compact-sized paperback (shaped like some of his others, like Prodigal God or Counterfeit Gods, for instance.) Still, it is mature and thoughtful, a sophisticated exploration of the historical reliability and fullest meaning of the Christmas narrative. Concise, yes, but thoughtful. Publishers Weekly says it is “a great gift book . . . Keller achieves his pastoral goal of teaching Christmas’s most important message –God alone has the life, truth, and joy that we lack and cannot generate ourselves — and in doing so, provides solace for those who seek it.”


The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters Timothy Keller (Penguin) $17.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.60

A short, very powerful must-read. He is not the first to look at this trio of contemporary idols, but what is so good is how he looks — as he often does — at sort of the cultural big picture and yet invites us to consider the deepest matters of our own hearts. His gospel-centered approach becomes clear when he insists that if our identity or trust is in these things, that is supplanting authentic trust in Christ. It’s the “sin beneath the sin.” None of these things in the good creation are bad in and of themselves, of course, but if we build our lives around their empty promises, we fall into danger. Excellent.

Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just Timothy Keller (Penguin) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

So odd that some feared that Tim was “woke” and talking about urban problems, race, and justice too much — a patently silly and even offensive concern. This shows his deeply gospel-centered approach: Generous Justice spends considerable time explaining the cross and the doctrine of justification which then propels us to work for justice. We experience God’s generosity and can therefore be gracious; we know His justice so we become those who are just in the world. Short and exceptional.

Every Good Endeavor: Connection Your Work to God’s Work Timothy Keller (Penguin) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

In many ways, this is one of his most important books. Co-author Katherine Leary Alsdorf worked in the corporate world for many successful years before trusting Christ as an adult and being grasped by a full-orbed, Reformed world-and-life view and helping Tim start the Redeemer Center for Faith and Work. Lots has been written on this topic of relating faith and spirituality to our work in the marketplace but this remains the cream of the crop. A must. I thank God for this most potent study.

Uncommon Ground: Living Faithfully in a World of Difference edited by Timothy Keller & John Inazu (Thomas Nelson) $18.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

This is a book that came out of a lovely evening at Redeemer with Keller and Inazu speaking together on what some political theorists called “principled pluralism” and John’s stunning University of Chicago book Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving Through Deep Difference. More than mere civility but a deeper struggle to create space for varying worldviews and to thereby speak winsomely into the cultural divides, this vision led them to compile a book that is fun and exciting, mature and wise. A great handful of writers, artists, thinkers, and other public advocates share their stories about living well, letting their light shine in healthy ways. That Keller used his New York (and national and even international) platform to amplify John’s book and that they collaborated on inviting other young thinkers – from hip hop artist Lecrae to writer Tish Harrison Warren to justice advocate Kristen Deede Johnson and more — to contribute to Uncommon Ground is a great gift. A fabulous, readable, inspiring book. Keller has two relatively short pieces in here, by the way, an important introduction and a great concluding chapter.

How to Reach the West Again: Six Essential Elements of a Missionary Encounter Timothy Keller (Redeemer City to City) $4.99   OUR SALE PRICE = $3.99

This is a 2020 manifesto of sorts, perhaps a talk given, where Tim outlines the nature of authentic and fruitful missionary encounters. Of course those who follow his work, and the missional shoulders he stands on (from Bavinck and Kuyper to Lesslie Newbigin to James Hunter) will notice that our winsome witness among our North American neighbors for the gospel must take some lessons from global missionary thinking and practice. Since we live in a post-Christian culture, we have to build bridges and serve well. How can we make the gospel plausible and attractive? This sweeping document offers great insights.


Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City Timothy Keller (Zondervan)  OUR SALE PRICE = $36.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $29.59

This book is a slightly oversized hardback textbook laying out Keller’s vision of the role of a missional in the city. There is so much in here that I can hardly believe any pastor would want to be without it. We have one or two left, but it is out of print. That is fine, though, as they took the three parts of the book and reprinted them in three separate paperback volumes (see immediately below.) In this newer, three-book series they have asked other authors to give feedback and friendly critique to Tim’s important work to which he has added a new chapter in response. This makes the three paperbacks so much better than the one big hardback. Hooray.

Shaped by the Gospel: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City Timothy Keller with additional chapters by Michael Horton and Dane Ortlund (Zondervan) $15.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $12.79

This is the first unit of the big Center Church with two extra chapters pushing Tim on what he means by “balanced, gospel-centered” ministry. You may know Horton as a seriously Reformed scholar and writer and you may know of Dane whose recent Gentle and Lowly has been hugely popular. They each contribute some new content for this paperback and then Tim responds. Shaped by the Gospel is an updated, expanded version of Part I of Center Church.

Loving the City: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City  Timothy Keller with additional chapters by Gabriel Salguero, Daniel Strange & Andy Crouch (Zondervan) $18.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

Oh my, this is a paperback reprint of the big middle section of Center Church which added three great pieces by three extraordinary writers deeply engaged in cultural renewal. I assume you may know the names of Gabriel Salguero and Daniel Strange and Andy Crouch, each who have done good books. Tim’s reply is humble and in robust conversation with them. Loving the City is the expanded version of Part II of Center Church. Yay. My favorite of the three.

Serving a Movement: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City Timothy Keller with additional chapters by Tim Chester, Daniel Montgomery, Mike Cosper, & Alan Hirsch (Zondervan) $18.99     OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19

This one reprints the third portion of Center Church that offers a somewhat ecumenical and somewhat global vision of connecting your own congregation to what God is doing in other churches, organizations, and movements, inviting us to understand our missional efforts as part of a larger movement for renewal and social change. As with the previous two, Serving a Movement reprints a portion of the big hardback, adds four pieces by four stellar activists and thinkers, with a concluding response by Tim. This is Part III of what was formerly Center Church, with the extra content. Yes!

Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road Timothy Keller (P&R) $14.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $11.99

Many don’t know this one, but it was Keller’s first book, written before he went to New York. On one hand, this offers a wholistic vision of missional care, especially for the needy and outcast; we need solid, clear books like this and it is fine. In his seminary years Keller was deeply influenced by the likes of Harvie Conn (whose intense little paperback Evangelism: Doing Justice and Preaching Grace remains a classic in my book.) Besides the Biblical basis for social concern and wholistic outreach around human need, Keller here offers some specific advice for deacons and those doing compassionate ministry. It was updated a bit a few years ago with a new forward. Nice.

(Speaking of firsts, I am not positive about this but I think his first published chapter was in It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God published by our friends at Square Halo Books.)

Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism (Penguin) $17.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.60

This is another of those small, compact sized paperbacks that are so handy to hold. But don’t let the size fool you — this is a substantive, fine book on preaching, and is good for anyone who teaches Sunday school or does youth ministry or works in chaplaincy or campus ministry. He believes in expository preaching but also knows that many who are not ordained do public proclamation of the gospel, so this is good for all.

I think it is all quite good but one chapter is worth the price of the book. In Keller-esque fashion, he explores the nature of the context of our speaking; naturally, he looks at the secularization of the times and draws (of course) on Charles Taylor. Tim was very impressed with How (Not) to Be Secular, James K.A. Smith’s serious summary of Taylor’s nearly impenetrable philosophical text, The Secular Age, but for those whom even Jamie’s book was a bit much, this one chapter in Preaching which shows the usefulness of knowing just a bit about professor Taylor’s take on contemporary culture and belief is very, very good.

Worship by the Book Mark Ashton, Kent Hughes & Timothy Keller (Zondervan) $16.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59

You may not think of this as a Keller volume, since he only wrote one third of it. Three different gentlemen offer their own stories of how they have arranged the worship experiences in their growing congregations. Ashton is a liturgical Anglican; Hughes is a more free church evangelical, and Keller is a classy Presbyterian. I think this is the only accessible place where Keller spells out his style of worship which has been so successful in Manhattan. This is a very informative little book, interesting no matter your worship style.


Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms Timothy and Kathy Keller (Viking) $21.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $16.80

Written with his wife during his first cancer diagnosis, and during Kathy’s illness, this year long devotional is handsome, smart, faithful, inviting us into a daily. Routine of reading and praying the Psalms. A compact sized hardback with a ribbon marker, it’s a lovely gift, too.



God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Book of Proverbs Timothy and Kathy Keller (Viking) $21.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $16.80

This is arranged like their popular Songs of Jesus devotional, offering here reflections on the Proverbs. It, too, is a compact sized hardback with a ribbon marker, making an excellent gift and useful guide to this book of practical faith.



A Year of Daily Devotions Timothy & Kathy Keller (Viking) $20.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00

This is a lovely, smallish hardback (with a classy ribbon marker) that draws on their book The Meaning of Marriage. As you might expect, it is a bit more intellectual and culturally savvy than many less sophisticated devotionals for couples, but, besides their solid Biblical theology, there is great joy and tenderness and honesty. Very nicely done.




Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of the Son of God Timothy Keller (Penguin) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

First released as Kings Cross this is drawn from the gospel of Mark. It is truly excellent writing and should be better known and used. In just under 250 pages there are 18 chapters, each with a one-word title. A great introduction to Jesus. Fantastic. Don’t miss it.




The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith Timothy Keller (Penguin) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

I don’t know the national sales figures but it is my sense that this is Keller’s most beloved book, and for good reason. Along with Henri Nouwen’s Return of the Prodigal Son (which Keller applauded approvingly) it is one of the best-selling books among the many books on the parables of Jesus. Two things stand out, besides its thoughtfulness and brevity. He notes to whom the parable was offered — the judgmental Pharisees. Which is to say that the prideful, rule-keeping big brother is who the story is really about; we all need God’s grace and that religiously proper guy didn’t get it. Secondly he tells us what the word “prodigal” means, suggesting that God is the prodigal. What a book.

Encounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life’s Biggest Questions Timothy Keller (Penguin) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

I suspect that many don’t know this one; its pale cream-colored cover, nice as it is, doesn’t seem to yell at us to pick it up, either. You should. It is a collection of ten stories of those who met Jesus in the gospel of John. The first half is a series of talks that Tim gave in the UK to Oxford University college students. The second are talks he gave — again, people who encountered Jesus in the gospel of John —mostly to a secular group of interested business execs in midtown Manhattan. His introduction alone is worth the price of the book, and his exposition of any one of these stories could be life-changing for somebody you know. Buy a few to give away.

Rediscovering Jonah: The Secret of God’s Mercy Timothy Keller (Penguin) $17.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.60

I’m not going to lie. I haven’t read this yet — I’ve just been waiting for the right time. It was first released under the fabulous title The Prodigal Prophet but many were apparently confused, so they got prosaic with the new title of the paperback release. It is a study of the Bible, of mission, a reflection on cross-cultural work, a call to mercy, but of course it is a study of God and the gospel of God. One thrilled customer told us recently it was the best Keller book she has read. Wow.

Galatians For You Timothy Keller (The Good Book Company) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

This offers short and easy to read exposition, line by line, part of a larger series of “for You” commentaries. You can imagine that this Reformed preacher has a blast with the freedom of Galatians.





Judges For You Timothy Keller (The Good Book Company) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

I find it a bit perplexing, but I’m told by some Redeemer Presbyterian old-timers that when Tim and Kathy started services in New York City in the 1990s he started by preaching through the book of Judges. It was decades later when the Good Book Company started this commentary series, but I suspect the book emerged from those now classic sermons.



Romans 1–7 For You Timothy Keller (The Good Book Company) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

Yep, this is a Romans commentary by Keller. Who knew? Part one.

Romans 8–16 For You Timothy Keller (The Good Book Company) $17.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

I’m surprised we don’t get more calls for this part of easy to read, solid Bible commentaries. This is, obviously, part two.


Walking with God through Pain and Suffering Timothy Keller (Penguin) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

In my longer review of Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering I noted that it is basically three parts. The first is the philosophical and intellectual questions about theodicy. He helps us “understand the furnace” and various “cultures of suffering.” “Where is God when it hurts?” is a universal question and everyone tries to offer some explanation; he is naturally strong here but suggests that if one is in deep pain or sorrow, it may not be most urgent to tackle. The second part is less heady, focusing on how we face the furnace, theological insights galore. Thirdly, there is the most pastoral portion, studies of characters in the Bible who faced the fire, and survived. There are varieties of suffering, he reminds us, and there are different ways to walk with God through it all. What a meaty, thorough, vivid work.

Forgive: Why Should I and How Can I? Timothy Keller (Viking) $27.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $21.60

This is the most recent book Tim wrote and I refer you to my BookNotes review a month or so ago. Like any of his books — a feature I love — he starts with the bigger picture, exploring how forgiveness is understood in our very contemporary culture. He cites media figures and philosophers, artists and public intellectuals as they each offer the pros and cons of forgiveness. Can we forgive and still demand justice? What of those who have been molested or abused — must they forgive? How do we resist exploitation or racism with a call to forgive? He is wise to struggle with these big questions before getting down to the deeper gospel-centered notions of offering mercy to others and personal guidance for those who may find it hard to live in this sort of grace.

Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God Timothy Keller (Penguin) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

One one hand, it makes perfect sense that a God-centered, gospel-oriented, Trinitarian preacher who focused less on self-improvement or even social reforms but more on the character of God and His glory, would be drawn to prayer and would write about this intimate bit of spirituality. Not everyone, though, thinks of Keller (the theologian, the apologist, the activist church planter, the advocate for pluralism and civility) as a man of prayer, but this book makes it clear that he knows what he’s talking about. It is extraordinarily sound and inspiring and practical.

Keller’s opening section — “Why Write a Book on Prayer” — is wonderful. I disagree with his assessment of the usefulness for thoughtful beginners other contemporary books on prayer and prayerfulness (although am glad he says “the best material on prayer has already been written.”) And he knows a lot. Highly recommended.

The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller (Penguin) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

I don’t really need to emphasize up front that I disagree with Tim and Kathy’s view of gender roles or authority in the family structure. I need not dwell on that because even though they are complementarian, their day to day living, it seems, and their advice in this serious Manuel, is more congenial to egalitarians than you may think. In any case, this is a Keller-esque argument for marriage, an appeal to those in the high-minded and fast-paced Manhattan scene where they discovered to their dismay, many young adults didn’t even want to get married. This book is for anyone — married or not, they say — showing forth a Biblical vision of relationships and trust and family to a culture that is unclear and unsupportive of these ancient ways. It’s a Biblically-based apologetic and a practical guide, strong and in many ways lovely.

The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy Timothy Keller (10 of Those Publishing) $4.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $3.99

Do you know this little booklet? It is a hugely popular resource in some circles and is hard to explain. It is about joy and goodness, about grace and gospel, about what happens when our identity is derived less from who God says we are, but rooted in false ideas and bad assumptions. Of course, the counter-cultural sting is here: Jesus says we find ourselves by losing ourselves. The gospel gives us great gifts but at the cost of this upside down idea: we find freedom when we forget about ourselves. To say this is an essay on humility doesn’t do it justice, but that’s the gist. What a great little book, unlike nearly anything he’s done, and deeply foundational for all that he’s done. You should know it.


Gospel in Life: Grace Changes Everything Video Study DVD Timothy Keller (Redeemer City to City /Zondervan) $41.00 for DVD and Study Book combo  OUR SALE PRICE = $32.80

This is one of my all time favorite DVDs to recommend for Sunday school classes or small groups. Gospel in Life is eight weeks and Keller lectures clearly, but briefly (about 10 – 15 minutes on average.) Much of the content has to be processed with Scripture and study questions that come up on the screen, but then, further, with more Scripture and short excerpts of essays that are in the excellent study book. Some DVD curriculum is so vibrant and entertaining that you hardly need a study book — you just sit back and watch. This is not designed to be used in that way. To plumb the depths of the excellent content one has to reflect and process it, so everybody needs their own study book. (Gospel in Life: Grace Changes Everything  Study Guide; $12.99 – OUR SALE PRICE = $10.39.)

Keller’s eight-week study of the gospel and the ways to live it out in everyday life explains how Scripture can change people’s hearts, the community, and how Christians live in the world. It starts with the theme of place (“the city”) and our home now, the world as it is. It ends with the eternal city, that which is to come. In between, “you will look at how the gospel changes your heart (including the “sin beneath the sin” of idolatry) changes your community (“the context for change” he insists) and how we witness to an alternative city, a Kingdom way of life. There is a presentation on work (“cultivating the garden”) and one on justice (being “people for others.”) This is the best curriculum offering an overview of the Christian life that I know of.

The Prodigal God: Finding Your Place at the Table Video Study DVD Timothy Keller (Redeemer City to City /Zondervan) $41.00 for DVD and Study Book combo  OUR SALE PRICE = $32.80

This six session program is Keller at his best, eloquent and elegant, standing in front of a large, modern, uncluttered table. It is a good staging design for the set and, of course, is based on his book exploring what he thinks may be Jesus’s best known and yet least understood parable.

This is captivating stuff, and the participants guide has good questions helping your small group or class “glean insights from each of the chapters in Jesus’ parable; the irreligious younger son, the moralistic elder son, and the father who lavishes love on both.”

The first session offers the full film which runs about 40 minutes. The remaining sessions then each offer a 2 – 3 minute excerpt or recap, to help with continuity and further deeper discussion.

The Meaning of Marriage: A Vision for Married and Single People Video Study DVD Timothy & Kathy Keller (Redeemer City to City / Zondervan) $41.00. $41.00 for DVD and Study Book combo  OUR SALE PRICE = $32.80

This is a six session curriculum based on the best selling book. It features a real small group that has gathered with Tim and Kathy who both speak and share. The six sessions are each about 20 – 25 minutes long and the study book is excellently put together.

Topics include Service (Marriage Isn’t About You). Covenant (Created to Make Promises), Roles (Loving Through Mutual Submission), Singleness (Strengthening the Spiritual Family), Sex (The Act of Covenant Renewal), and Hope (Seeing the Great Horizon.) Lovely, thoughtful, fun, even, watching them laugh and teach together. Interestingly, in the group are some who are not convinced of Christian beliefs but find the principles compelling.

The Reason for God Video Study: Conversations on Faith and Life DVD Timothy Keller (Redeemer City to City /Zondervan) $41.00 for DVD and Study Book combo  OUR SALE PRICE = $32.80

In this six-session small group DVD study, The Reason for God, captures live and unscripted conversations between Tim Keller and a group of people gathered to address their doubts and objections to Christianity. Throughout, Keller and the group candidly explore the questions of the plausibility and truth of Christianity.  He brings his particular theological tradition and winsome style to bear on these questions — each session is about 15 – 20 minutes or so: “Isn’t the Bible a Myth?”, “How Can You Say There Is Only One Way to God?”, “What Gives You the Right to Tell Me How to Live My Life?”, “Why Does God Allow Suffering?”, “Why Is the Church Responsible for So Much Injustice?”, and “How Can God Be Full of Love and Wrath at the Same Time?” You are invited to chime in, sharing your own replies and your own evaluations of Keller’s arguments. What a great conversation to have with skeptics, seekers, or believers…

I heard a recording of Reverend Keller getting an award for his contribution to publishing and he noted that he is a public speaker and preacher first and a writer only secondly. He has worked hard at the craft of writing and applauds his editors. As usual, he is humble and neither prideful nor self deprecating; just honest. What you see is what you get. Interestingly, when asked not long ago about his legacy he didn’t seem to be very interested in the question. I do know he hope people read his books and are somehow drawn to Christ through them all. Not a bad legacy, really, eh? What a catalog of resources to help you grow and for you to share with others.



It is very helpful if you tell us how you prefer 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 slow. For one typical book, usually, it’s about $3.85; 2 lbs would be $4.55.
  • United States Postal Service has another 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. 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. Just saying “US Mail” isn’t helpful because there are those two methods, one cheaper but slower, one more costly but quicker. Which do you prefer?


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Sadly, 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 water tables to see the amount of virus in the eco-system. It’s important to be particularly aware of how risks we take might effect the public good. It is complicated for us, so we are still closed for in-store browsing due to our commitment to public health (and the safety of our family, staff, and customers.) The vaccination rate here in York County is sadly lower than average. Our store is a bit cramped without top-notch ventilation, so we are trying to be wise. 

Please, wherever you are, do your best to be sensitive to those who are most at risk. Many of our friends, neighbors, co-workers, congregants, and family members may need to be protected since more than half of Americans (it seems) have medical reasons to worry about longer hazards from even seemingly mild COVID infections. Thanks for understanding.

We are doing our famous 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 do if you are in the area, do stop by.

Of course, we’re happy to ship books anywhere. 

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