Bibliography posted on Reading, Worldview, Vocation, Public Life

I mentioned in the last post that one of the great things we did a week or so ago was speak atCarrying Books.jpg the Christian Legal Society annual convention, this year held near San Diego, CA.  What a delight and honor to be doing a workshop among so many other serious scholars, folks like Gail** and Gordon MacDonald, and a whole host of thoughtful public intellectuals, legal scholars, legal aid workers, religious rights activists, and ordinary attorneys working to serve their clients with integrity.  The care that CLS offers for their members was shown to Beth and I, too, as their guests.  Plus, it isn’t every day I get to scarf snacks late at night and do a podcast with smart professors and students about the challenges of being a person of faith in the graduate programs we call Law School.  You can find that podcast (and my one rambling comment–stick with me, it was 1:00 am—at the Cross & Gavel website, hosted by my hero, Michael Schutt, author of Redeeming Law.)

**I was the only man in the room, by the way, for Gail MacDonald’s amazing talk about her best friends and mentors, mostly dead people she came close to in books.  My, my, what a lover of biography, and what a sturdy talk about being a stout-hearted woman.  I literally had tears in my eyes as she read excerpts from the wife of Jonathan Edwards, the humble wife of Oswald Chambers (who was with him only a few years before his untimely death) and the extraordinary work and witness of Ruth Bell Graham, who had become a friend of Gail in her time of need.  Thank goodness for older mentors who can tell us of the lasting power of reading.

And so, I said that I had a handout at the event, a briefly annotated mammoth listing of books about reading, books about worldview formation and calling, books about public life and political responsibility, and a handful about lawyering.  Even if the last few for lawyers aren’t interesting to you, the rest sure should be!  Here is the link to our monthly column, October 2009.  I called it “Making Prominent the Printed Page: Developing a Christian Worldview by Reading Widely.”

I know the sort of readers we have here at BookNotes and you are mostly customers and friends who want resources for yourself and others that help your Christian faith be more than only worship and liturgy, more than private devotions or church involvement.  For Biblical people, faith is a way of life and Trinitarian worship and spirituality centers us for the “journey outward.”

We thank you for the privilege of telling of these titles in the crowded space of your in-box.  I trust that some of these descriptions will pique your interest, some will re-affirm aspects of your theological/intellectual journey, some will challenge you to want to dig deeper into the need to read widely, think deeply, and apply faith in responsible ways into every zone of our broken culture.  I trust you will click on this link over to the monthly review column, and enjoy my colorful description of these great, great books. I am sure a few will sound familiar.  I am equally sure you will be surprised by a few new ones.  Please help us spread the word, copying at least parts of this and sending it on to somebody who might be happy to see such a list of rich titles. Thanks. 

Just click above on the “reviews” tab and see the archive of monthly longer pieces that I do (most) every month.  These random covers are just a few you’ll find…

amusing ourselves.jpg
heaven is not my home.jpgliving at the crossroads.jpgmind for god.jpggutenburg elegies.jpg
forgetting ourselves.jpg
believers guide to legal issues.jpgpolitics of greatest good.jpg

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Developing a Christian Worldview Through Reading Widely: A Bibliography

As I said on the blog post introducing this, I had this as a handout for a workshop done at the October 2009 Christian Legal Society conference in La Jolla, California.  What a privilege to sit with a small group of lawyers, judges, jurists and law students and talk about reading as an act of worship, obedience, relevant discipleship and dialogue with the culture.  That spells WORD and was the main framework for my remarks about why we need to read seriously.  Here, then, are some of the best suggestions I had for this small but serious group.

On Making Prominent the
Printed Page
: Developing a Christian Worldview Through Reading Widely (for Christian lawyers.)

about reading

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in an Age of Show
Neil Postman (Penguin) A classic study of how American
culture shifted to entertainment, with illuminating case studies from religion
and politics. A must-read.

How the Irish Saved Civilization Thomas Cahill (Anchor) A popular
telling of the significance of Ireland’s discovery (through St. Patrick and
others) of reading and writing and books.

The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age Sven
Birkerts (Faber & Faber) Part memoir, part lament, part speculation and
social analysis about the fate of reading in the world of computers and the
internet, with a recent new forward and afterward.

A Mind for God James Emory White (IVP) Short and inspiring, this is
a helpful reminder of how reading helps shape a Christian worldview, from which
we can effectively work and witness. Makes a lovely gift, succinct and

Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling James
Sire (IVP) Sire is always worth reading, and here he offers a lifetime of
insight from a humble intellectual. A few of the sections are priceless—his
love of reading shines through and he offers seasoned advice for being a
life-long learner.

on worldview

Living at the Crossroads: An Introduction to Christian Worldview
Michael Goheen & Craig Bartholomew (Baker) One of the best recent
discussion of worldview, and how that is embodied in our era, a crossroad of
modernity and postmodernity. Very, very insightful.

Creation Regained: A Biblical Basis for a Reformational
Al Wolters (Eerdmans) One of the most often cited books
on worldview; the “creation-fall-redemption” Bible study is very clear. The
“structure-direction” distinction is essential. One helpful chapter in the
second edition compares Wolter’s Dutch neo-Calvinism with the popular and
important missiological vision of Leslie Newbegin and the Biblical theology of
N.T. Wright. Fascinating.

Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior Steve
Garber (IVP) One of my all time favorite books by a friend of CLS; Garber
eloquently explores three necessary features of a coherent and lasting Christian
lifestyle. Worth reading and re-reading for anyone who cares about deep
knowledge, integrated vocations, and our responsibility to learn how we can live
out the mission of God. (The second edition has a brilliant forward and a moving
afterword. Very, very rich.)
small disclaimer: I am mentioned in the book, which truly has nothing to do with
my very sincere admiration for this author and the maturity of vision in the
exceptional book. You can skip the few pages about me…

Heaven is Not My Home: Living in the Now of God’s Creation Paul
Marshall (Word) Although he has written important work on international human
rights, this is a little known and delightful handbook for distinctively
Christian perspectives across all of life. There are chapters on business,
citizenship, art, technology, work, play, rest, learning, worship and more.
Nothing like it in print!

He Shines in All That’s Fair: Culture and Common Grace Richard Mouw
(Eerdmans) Although Mouw writes as a Calvinist exploring the Reformed phrase
“common grace” this is of vital interest to anyone who lives in the real world,
wanting to know if God cares about the ordinary stuff of life. Does God enjoy
baseball? Jazz? Popular music? Good laws? Mouw is always worth reading, and he
shines here.

Head Heart Hands: Bringing Together Christian Thought, Passion & Action
Dennis Hollinger (IVP) Now the President of Gordon Conwell Seminary,
Hollinger has several important and insightful books on ethics. Here, he shows
how a balanced and robust Christian live must be thoughtful, passionate and
active, but that many Christians (and many churches) over-emphasize one aspect
of discipleship to the exclusion of the others. With great wisdom and
practicality, he shows how all three are deeply intertwined and authentic growth
must be multi-faceted.

Serious Times: Making Your Life Matter in an Urgent Day James Emery
White (IVP) Inspired by the famous line from John Adams (in a letter to Thomas
Jefferson) “My friend, you and I have lived in serous times” this looks at
others who have similar left their mark on “serious times.” White offers
specific insights and lessons from a variety of heroic leaders, from Wilberforce
to Lewis, Martin Luther to St. Benedict, Bonhoeffer to Mother Theresa, inviting
us to take up our role in seeking God’s work in the world. Lon Allison of the
Billy Graham Center says, “My soul is quaking under the impact of this

Reordered Loves, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of
David Naugle (Eerdmans) Some serious readers have
suggested this is one of the best books they’ve ever read, drawing on
Augustine’s famous quip that to really understand what a person is like it is
less telling to ask what he believes, but what he loves. How can we love the
right stuff, in the right way? What if we do not? Naugle is one of the best
“worldview thinkers” alive today, and this is a rich, warmly written, deep and
rewarding meditation on what to care about.

Simply Christian N.T. Wright (Harper) Wright looks at a few
issues that most people care about (from the most intimate to the most public)
and uses those nearly universal longings for things “to be put to rights” and
asks “what if the Biblical story answered those questions?” The heart of the
book is his introduction to the Christian drama, based on a fine overview of the
unfolding Biblical story, with some final chapters on what it might look like if
that story answered those questions, and the implications for our lives,
churches and work in the world. One of the best contemporary apologetics

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of
the Church
N.T. Wright (Harper) If God is truly intending to restore
the creation, and the physical resurrection is a foretaste of what God is doing
in the world, and if we reject as Platonic a harsh dualism between body and soul
then how do we view death, heaven, everlasting life, and such. How does a
vibrant doctrine of resurrection and new creation effect our daily sense of hope
and mission? Very, very stimulating.

Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, & Power, and the Only
Hope That Matters
Timothy Keller (Dutton) This may be the most
insightful and profound brief study of idolatry I’ve yet seen, intellectually
sophisticated yet very nicely written; deep yet practical, challenging yet full
of a Christ-centered gospel of transformation. Highly recommended.
Due late October

vocation & calling

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life Os
Guinness (Nelson) One of my all time favorite books, the chapters are short but
elegant, literary and Biblical, profoundly theological and yet helpful for
anyone who wants a sustainable and faithful basis for a “purpose driven life.” A
must for our times! (By the way, the “prequel”, The Long Journey Home is
an excellent invitation for seekers.)

A Journey Worth Taking: Finding Your Purpose in This World Charles
Drew (Presbyterian & Reformed) Informed by the same vision as Guinness about
the need for a thoughtful doctrine of vocation and calling, this is more
systematically developed following the unfolding Biblical themes of creation,
fall and redemption. Excellent.

Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling Andy
Crouch (IVP) One of the most talked about evangelical books in years, this
reminds us that worldviews are less abstract ideas but embodied ways of living,
and that we are called not just to think or “engage” culture, but to actually
produce cultural goods. From omelets to artifacts, laws to businesses, families
to civic organizations, we humans make culture, and it is a God-given duty to do
it as an act of worship and service. No one has written about this

Your Work Matters to God Douglas Sherman & William Hendricks
(NavPress) The best, most readable and practical overview of a Christian
theology of work. The title says it all…highly recommended.

Fabric of This World: Inquiries into Calling, Career, and the Design of Human
Lee Hardy (Eerdmans) Often cited, a serious and rich study of the
notion of work and calling by an astute Christian philosopher who has written
insightfully about the nature and order and possibilities of work.

The Other Six Days: Vocation, Work & Ministry in Biblical Perspective
Paul Stevens (Eerdmans) Stevens has written widely on the role of the
laity, of the integration of faith and calling, and has worked for years helping
Christians think faithfully about their work. This is his best thinking on the

Forgetting Ourselves On Purpose: Vocation and the Ethics of Ambition
Brian Mahan (Jossey Bass) Evocative, playful, stimulating, a wise and helpful
reflection on the role of ambition, service and such. Not your typical
“Christian” book, but very well worth pondering…

political life and legal thought

The Good News About Injustice and Just
Gary Haugen (IVP) The International Justice Mission may be
one of the most exciting and fruitful international Christian legal
organizations of our time. These are foundational, evangelical studies of God’s
heart for justice and how we can be involved as agents of His healing and
reconciliation. Powerful, basic, vital.

God & the Constitution: Christianity and American Politics Paul
Marshall (Rowman & Littlefield) I think this is somewhat mis-titled as it is
not really about the Constitution as such. It is the best overview of a
distinctively Christian view of government yet done. Very helpful for anyone
pondering the role of government and a Biblically-informed view of



Church, State and Public Justice: Five Views edited by P. C. Kemeny
(IVP) Five scholars offer their take on uniquely Christian politics, and then
the other four respond. Excellently presented views include a Catholic
perspective, a classical “separationist” view, a moderate Anabaptist approach, a
“principled-pluralist” neo-Calvinist view and a mainline Protestant social
justice emphasis. Wow.

Political Visions and Illusions: A Survey & Christian Critique of
Contemporary Ideologies
David Koyzis (IVP) No one volume is a profound
and readable in its study of the roots of Western thought and the history of the
development of political theory. Koyzis astutely exposes the Enlightenment roots
of both liberals and conservatives, and helps us understand the dynamics of
ideological conflict in the modern world. Very significant.

Justice: Rights & Wrongs Nicholas Woltersdorff (Princeton
University Press) Recently reviewed in the CLS Christian Lawyer journal,
this is serious, philosophical stuff, by an eminent Christian philosopher.
Anyone called to legal work in any capacity needs to reflect long and hard on
the nature of justice, and this scholarly work will help. Important and

Uncommon Decency: Christian Civility in an Uncivil World Richard
Mouw (IVP) I love this book, its teacherly style, wise ways and gentle
call and humble apologetic. Anyone involved in public life ought to read this
once every year or so. Lovely, honest, and good.

The Case for Civility: And Why Our Future Depends on It Os
Guinness (HarperOne) More than a call to good public manners or civil
politeness, this is a fabulous exploration of the nature of our distinctively
American way of honoring freedom of speech, rooted in First Amendment freedoms
for and from religion. Dr. Guinness is one of our leading evangelical social
thinkers, and here he passionately calls for work not towards a Christian
takeover, but a leavening influence by advocating for pluralism, fairness and a
strong appreciation for the vision of the Framers of the constitution. Highly

Toward an Evangelical Public Policy: Political Strategies for the Health of
the Nation
Ronald Sider & Diane Knippers (Baker) The National
Association of Evangelicals worked for years to come up with a non-partisan,
balanced and Biblically-informed social vision, and their “For the Health of the
Nation” document (included herein) was published along with this set of
wide-ranging essays. One of the very best collections of evangelical social
thinking. Important, and a great reference tool.

Politics for the Greatest Good: The Case for Prudence in the Public Square
Clarke D. Forsythe (IVP) The author is a leading policy strategist
in bioethical issues and senior counsel for Americans United for Life, a
national pro-life public policy organization. He has argued before federal and
state courts and testified before Congress; he knows what he’s talking about!
Here, he offers thorough and wise judgements about moral absolutes, political
compromise, and effective Christian involvement. Reasonable and

How Free People Move Mountaisn: A Male Christian Conservative and a Female
Jewish Liberal on a Quest for Common Purpose and Meaning
Roth-Douquet & Frank Schaeffer (Collins) This is a fun and feisty read where
two very different individuals argue back and forth, wondering how to bring
civic change, greater justice and maturity to our pubic discourse. A great
example of digging deep into philosophical and religious foundations,
disagreeing and debating, with common concern and passion.

Crime and Its Victims Dan Van Ness (IVP) When Chuck Colson moved
from only prison evangelism and ministry to include work for more structural
reforms, he commissioned Van Ness to do a foundational Biblical study of crime
and punishment. This is the best volume on the topic.

Changing Lenses: A New Focus for Crime & Justice Howard Zehr
(Herald Press) With Van Ness’ contribution to evangelical discourse around
“restorative justice” as a basis, other (Mennonite) activist-scholars have
developed the idea into greater clarity around reforms, values and proposals for
more Christ-like approaches in criminology. A very important contribution, which
should be considered.

God’s Joust, God’s Justice: Law and Religion in the Western Tradition
John Witte, Jr (Eerdmans) I would be remiss not to note something of the
prolific, substantive scholar, Dr. Witte. He is one of the leading scholars in
this field, now the director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at
Emory University. This “traces the historic struggles that generated the
constitutional separation of church and state…”


The Believers Guide to Legal Issues Stephen Bloom (Living Ink) What
a joy to see a simple, clear-headed, spiritually-based introduction to legal
issues. Most Christian attorneys would know all this, but it is an ideal tool to
share with others in your church or practice, framed by simple gospel insight.

The Lawyers Calling: Christian Faith and Legal Practice Joseph
Allegretti (Paulist Press) One of the best overviews of the ways in which faith
shapes legal practice, the metaphors that are used to imagine what lawyers are
and do, and how to be a responsible, ethical, attorney. Semi-scholarly,
readable, insightful, from a Roman Catholic lawyer drawing on many Protestant
sources. Very helpful.

Can a Good Lawyer Be a Good Lawyer? edited Thomas Baker (University
of Notre Dame Press) An ecumenical collection of essays, sermons, meditations,
and reflective pieces, including some written by active CLS leaders. You may not
love each and every entry, but most are good, and a few are great.

Redeeming Law: Christian Calling and the Legal Profession Michael
Schutt (IVP) I believe that every career and profession should be so fortunate
as to have such a winsome, readable, and yet profound and scholarly treatment of
nearly every aspect of the foundations of the field. Not necessarily the most
simple or practical, but it is the most essential book for every Christian
lawyer’s library. Highly, highly recommended. Great footnotes lead in many good
directions for further study, and the discussion questions make it ideal for
personal growth or small group conversation. Get several and pass ’em

First Be Reconciled: Challenging Christians in the Courts
Richard Church (Herald Press) Many attorneys struggle with the
Biblical verse about not going to court, and this Mennonite lawyer take is most
seriously. Provocative and important, attempting to be serious about Biblical
obedience in the reformation of legal attitudes and practices.


Wee Kirk, CLS, Holy Capers

A few friends who subscribe to BookNotes, or are part of the “Friends of Hearts & Minds” Facebook group, have noticed I haven’t been around all week.  Our whereabouts have not been a mystery, but for those that care, they have been bookish.  Here’s the story.

At the start of last week, we were lugging books into the lovely Laurelville Mennonite Camp & Retreat Center in Western PA, serving our great friends at the annual Northeast Wee Kirk Conference.  That’s “small church” in Scottish, yee surely know, and it is a gathering of those who pastor or serve small congregations, mostly in Presby churches.  What an inspiring lot, these hard-workin’ (book-buyin’) Wee Kirk folk.  Thanks to Presbyterians for Renewal for helping fund this gathering.

Wee Kirk was especially good this year as we reconnected with old pal and prolific writer Rev. Dr. N. Graham Standish.  If you don’t know his recent books published by the Alban becoming a blessed church.jpgInstitute (Becoming a Blessed Church and Humble Leadership) you really should. They are among Alban’s best-sellers!  (His congregation was highlighted in the work of Diana Butler Bass, and he makes an appearance in her splendid Christianity for the Rest of Us.) An earlier book he wrote that we love is called Discovering the Narrow Path: A Guide to Spiritual Balance which shows his wise, contemplative approach. Graham strikes me as ancient-future, and we talked about Dutch anthropologist and mystic Andrian Van Kaam, celebrated classic stuff like Testament of Devotion, even as he showed me spiffy worship graphics on his Apple Mac laptop. We’ve got his books around, of course, so let us know if you want to order any.

ecstasy and intimacy.jpgDr. Edith Humphrey was another speaker, she of McGill U. fame (where she studied with N.T. Wright and hung out with Brian Walsh years ago) and now is a beloved Prof. at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.  She has two very, very thoughtful, pretty intense works.  One has this remarkably provocative title, about the rhetoric of visions in the New Testament: I Turned to See The Voice. (Awesome, eh? Think about it.)  Another we  really recommend is the remarkable Intimacy and Ecstasy: When the Holy Spirit Meets the Human Spirit (published by Eerdmans.)  It has a good forward by Eugene Peterson, and he highly recommends it as meaty, spiritual theology. She was an Episcopalian but in recent years has been drawn to Orthodoxy, so she’s writing, as a Biblical scholar, out of a very mature inner life, rooted in a liturgical worldview.  She is an excellent thinker and quite impressive.   She has a chapter in the brand new IVP Academic title Trinitarian Theology for the Church: Scripture, Community, Worship, which looks altogether impressive.  Meeting her makes me glad that we carry her work.

churches that make.jpgWee Kirk wouldn’t be Wee Kirk without Phil Olson, who co-authored the fabulous book most known as a Ron Sider title, Churches That Make a Difference.  Phil worked for ESA for a stint, and he helped Heidi Unrue and Ron do this very helpful study of wholistic congregations whose outreach is truly bearing faithful fruit.  It is a classic of wholistic evangelism and his passionate (and funny) talk about Philip (in Acts) left us eager to study and serve.  We’ve talked about this book often, and it was tremendous to have Phil telling us about it. It really is a favorite.  If you care about missional outreach, especially in an urban setting, this is a must-read.

After these fine days studying God’s Kingdom ways for rural churches and small congregational life we experienced some emotional whiplash hopping on a jet to upscale San Diego, where we were privileged to serve the annual event of the Christian Legal Society.  Each year, this fine professional association gathers to fellowship and equip for distinctive service those who serve in fields of law, legal studies, legal aid, mediation, human rights and ministry with and among attorneys. 

(By the way, in a past issue of Comment there was a symposium on hope; friends of the journal were asked what signs of hope they see.  I wrote about professional associations like this, that gather to reflect seriously on their interface of their field and their Christian faith. Art groups like CIVA or IAM, student gatherings like Jubilee, and CLS were mentioned.  Just saying, we really take courage that God is working in these vocationally-oriented gatherings.  You can read it here if you’d like. It might help you see why we do so much stuff outside the store.)

At CLS San Diego, I had the great joy of doing a workshop on reading, offering suggestions on books about worldview formation, calling and career, civic and political life and how all that frames and informs the art of lawyering well.  I had some nervousness about this–there were authors and scholars and judges walking around all over the place—but once I started my spiel,byron.jpg I got pretty fired up.  I’m not sure if the small group in the seminar got much out of it, but I was once again reminded of my own sense of calling to help talk about books that can change lives, help us think and see and imagine Christianly, living out all of life, in all of life, in a manner that is Biblically-informed, wise and faithful.  Some of these attorney’s and public leaders are pretty visionary themselves, and some are doing remarkable work making a difference in their own corner of the legal world.  (And, in the workshop itself, was inspired by stories of lawyers who counsel their clients, offering free books, or those who have started reading groups amongst their colleagues at the firm.)  Thank God for readers, and especially for Christian lawyers, for those who serve in prestigious practices or small town courts, doing splashy or commonplace tasks, helping their neighbor, working for the common good.  It was great to be with them.

redeeming law.jpgI’m no lawyer, of course, but Mike Schutt’s book, Redeeming Law:Christian Calling and the Legal Profession, was nonetheless a fabulous, inspiring read when I devoured it a few years ago. Being with Mike at CLS is one of my year’s highlights, and I commend this book to you, knowing it is written by a guy I so appreciate a
nd respect.  If you know any thoughtful lawyers, it is a must, so please tell them about it. Mike is doing some very fine pod-casting (look out Mars Hill Audio & Ken Meyers!) and I even helped a bit with a zany late night one with a few law students and a law prof and a practicing attorney.  Good for anybody thinking about the relationship between studies and real life, between the calling of students as they transition into careers.  Anyway, his “Cross & Gavel” website is a treat, especially the podcasts.

Soon, I’ll post the annotated bibliography that I handed out at the CLS workshop.  It may be helpful for anybody interested in reading, nurturing a worldview, the Christian mind, calling, vocation, and public/political life. A few CLS participants insisted that these sorts of resources ought to be more widely available.  So right. 

And, this: we heard one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard, delivered with hilarious zest by an upbeat and contagiously joyful lawyer who is making a difference in so many ways, mostly now in Uganda.  Yes, it is a hilarious and clever story, but he is very close to becoming theBob Goff.JPG first non-Ugandan to serve on their Supreme Court.  And he’ll probably get one of those cool wigs and everything.  Better, he may expedite justice in this war-torn land, with a special passion for adjudicating the trial of children who languish in jails due to involvement in the awful child warfare there.  Pray for him.  His name is Bob Goff.  Here is a website of Restore International a non-profit he’s started, fighting trafficking, among other good things.

Bob Goff, this great speaker and the highlight of the CLS event, by the way, is somebody some of you have heard of.  He is talked about with great gusto in the fine new memoir by Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Days.  Miller, as I explained in my Booknotesmillion miles.jpg review here, writes in his new memoir that he has to get a life that is a bit better, especially since they are making a movie about him.  What does one do when one realizes that one’s life is a bit drab and uninspiring, and the character they are telling about you in the film is better than your real life?  Well, Miller wisely studies the process of film-making, learning what makes a good story, and begins to make his life count for something. Bob Goff is his chief ally in this, taking him to Uganda (and a few other crazy places, too.  He calls these holy capers.)  Goff was the real deal, and it was a remarkable pleasure to hear him extol a life “with the fingerprints of Jesus on it” to these CLS leaders.

And it is a real pleasure to remind you that if you want to hear about this remarkable life, check out A Million Miles in a Thousand Days.  If you follow that link given above to my review, or just scroll back a month, we have a pretty sweet deal offered on it. 

By the way, local friends: did you hear that Donald “Blue Like Jazz” Miller, and his hilarious comedian friend, Susan Isaacs (author of Angry Conversations With God: A Snarky But Authentic Spiritual Memoir) is speaking here in York/Red Lion, PA, this Friday, October 23rd? Thought you may appreciate a reminder.  Check out Living Word Community Church if you’re anywhere nearby.  Buy the book from us, though, since the publisher’s marketeers have arranged a dumb out of town chain selling books there.  Consider it a holy caper, a mitzvah. Thanks.

And for anybody that is still reading: just got back from an out of town funeral, a beloved Aunt Trudy. She gave us books and art supplies as kids. She was 91.  RIP.

Want any of the books we’ve mentioned?  Order here.  Say you saw it on the blog and we’ll give you a special 20% off blog special.  Thanks for caring. 

Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street  Dallastown, PA  17313  717.246.3333

Advent Conspiracy book & DVD

We have been gratified to see that a few customers ordered the handsome and important new volume about micro-financing The Poor Will Be Glad by Peter Greer & Phil Smith that we featured last week.  The discounted prices still hold, so if you’d like to browse back over the past few weeks, you’ll see some excellent titles that offer a faith-based perspective on our global citizenship, on world hunger and the ways in which contemporary Christian faithfulness demands a responsible stewardship of our role in the international economy.  (We raved last week about Everyday Justice by Julie Clawson; not everybody loves her book, however, and she reports at her blog getting some pretty harsh criticism on one radio interview.  Her frustrated and powerful lament “Smashing Economic Idols” where she quotes Brian Walsh is really worth reading!)

 Thanks to those who sent notes, facebook quips, and promises to buy some of these kinds of books.  Indeed, the poor will be glad when those with resources commit to learn, study and work towards a more justice way of life.  Reading these kinds of books may be demanding for some, but, yet, I am convinced they can be richly rewarding, exciting, even, as we take newer risks into deeper discipleship.  It is a privilege to be one of your booksellers and one of the places you look to for reviews of this kind of content.  Glad we are in this together.

AC book.jpgSo, one more to tell about, a really practical and inspiring “next step” in this journey of being vibrant people of faith who care about justice and responsible stewardship: The Advent Conspiracy: Can Christmas Still Change the World? by Rick McKinley, Chris Seay and Greg Holder (Zondervan; $12.99) is a book & study guide that is the best thing on this topic we have yet seen.  Not since the rather obscure Whose Birthday Is It Anyway stuff (from the wonderful alternatives) has there been a powerful, relevant, Biblically-rooted, spiritually-based resource to help us navigate the crazy Christmas consumer-fest.  And, wow, is this cool.

Two years ago, these fellas–all pastors of what might be called edgy evangelical emergent congregations—started a very spiffy Advent Conspiracy website for sharing Bible studies and ideas and resources, mostly around a shared vision, a pledge of sorts, to conspire together to do four simple things, four things which would be ancient/future type disciplines designed to help folks focus on (how does one say this without sounding cliched or cheesy) “the true meaning of Christmas.”  Well, there it is, said in all its cliched glory.  Who, really, doesn’t want the true meaning of Christmas?  It is a cliche, has been romantically sentimentalized and, nowadays, stupidly politicized by the Christian right (who are now busy boycotting stores that don’t say “Merry Christmas”) but, still, don’t most of us hunger for the real thing?  Aren’t some of us—more women, then men, I’d bet—nearly queasy thinking about the stress of the upcoming season?  And don’t we all know we have to do something to tone down the materialism?

Here are the four things that the original conspiracy website invited:  Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All.  Yep, these four disciplines, taken together, can help put us in a place of creating a holiday season worth remembering, not dreading.  Especially if we do it together (the true meaning of conspiracy, of course.)  They call it “entering the story.”

Now, there is a creatively presented Advent Conspiracy DVD ($19.99) and the brief but powerful book, which includes a small group discussion guide to be used with the DVD.  Although any individual or family could do this alone–and you should, if you have to—it is best to cling together to a few other conspirators, a small group, a Bible study, a Sunday school class, a fellowship group.  What would our congregations look like if everyone was invited to take the pledge?  Worshiping fully we find what Calvin called “union with Christ.”  Knowing grace we can (as Calvin Seerveld translates Luther) prance with joy.  And give freely.  Knowing we are loved, we pledge to  love everyone, so we spend less on ourselves and give more to those with greater needs. 

Here is how they describe the four week curriculum.

Worship Fully—Because Christmas begins and ends with Jesus.
Spend Less—And free your resources for things that truly matter.
Give More—Of your presence, your hands, your words, your time, your heart.
Love All-–The poor, the forgotten, the marginalized, the sick, in ways that make a difference.

This is a prophetic dream against the false religion of consumerism, as they baldly put it.  And, they are not fooling around: they give strong warnings against the toxic power of ungodly consumerism. And, they are serious about giving. They’ve included a brief appendix of a few letters from fellow co-conspirators from the website, such as a church of 175 who have raised,  $13,000 for clean water wells in Africa;  one church in Cincinnati set a goal of raising $18,000 and they raised $72,000.  Many churches are working with Living Water International to save lives by drilling wells, but other letters tell of congregants bringing in coats; another did baked goods at a local shelter.  These testimonials are encouraging and exciting.  Maybe if more of us “breathed together” and found motivation and accountability be being involved in a strategic plan like this, we really could give more. 

Here is one such letter in the book:

This is my first year in a parish, and I ran across the Advent Conspiracy website with very little time to prepare.  The leadership pulled together, however, and we were able to present the call to live a more simple Christmas season all four Advent Sundays.  On Christmas Day we held a single offering to be given to Christian Reformed World Relief Committee to purchase wells for communities that do not have access to clean drinking water ($250 buys one well.)  Our church of 220 active members raised just over $50,000.  God is good.

I love how they frame this early in the book: they frame it not as a system, but a story. 
AC brochure.gif 

The Advent Conspiracy is not a four-point checklist for how to do Christmas.  It is not a formula or a fool-proof system to make your Christmas more meaningful.

The Advent Conspiracy is the story of the wondrous moment when God entered our world to make things right.  It is the greatest story every told, and it changes everything—including the way we celebrate Christmas.

As you read this book, understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.  This is not about anger, disgust, or guilt—it is about entering the story of Jesus more deeply with a desire to worship more fully.  It is not enough to say no to the way Christmas is celebrated by many; we need to say yes to a different way of celebrating.

Our dream is that as you read this book you will discover Christ and be transformed by entering his story.
Here is the regular prices, and then our 10% off deal:

  • Advent Conspiracy  book $12.99
  • Advent Conspiracy  DVD  $19.99
  • Advent Conspiracy  DVD/book pack  $29.99 (save $3.00.)

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The Poor Will Be Glad: Joining the Revolution to Lift the World Out of Poverty

I don’t usually write about books before we get them here in the shop, but sometimes we get advanced copies or have such stellar reviews from our sales reps (yeah, you know who you are) that we are sold on the thing before it is released, and are itching to talk about it. Every once in a while we shout about a title before it actually arrives.

Since last week I tried to remind our readers that you H&M-ish, thoughtful and well-read, relevant, Christian folk need to be living out our vision of God’s reign by attending to issues of the global economy—the kind of stuff raised in the debates about the G20 Summit—I have wanted to tell you about a book that we expect to show up here any day now.  It is a perfect book to follow up some of the others I’ve mentioned.

The Poor Will Be Glad.jpgThe Poor Will Be Glad: Joining the Revolution to Lift the World Out of Poverty by Peter Greer & Phil Smith (Zondervan; $19.99) is a new book that the publisher is releasing with a happy degree of unsuspected fan-fair;  I am surprised, I suppose, since most publishers know that international micro-financing isn’t, well, very sexy (as they say.)  It sounds rather arcane and, if not depressing, at least complicated.  Maybe we’re glad somebody has devised this simple way to enhance the lives of the poor, but what do we know? What should we do?

Well, for starters, we should read up on this stuff, and this could be one of the great introductions to the ways in which we really can make a difference.  I did that hefty bibliography last month and you know I think everybody should read Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger by Ron Sider.  I shared how excited I was about the new Baker/emergent release The Justice Project.  This new title illustrates that the current younger generation of new leaders understands that we have to be involved, that most of the world is in great need and the gospel simply cannot be presented as abstract dogma, but only makes sense as a community lives out the ways of God’s Kingdom, working for justice in the great issues of the day.  One doesn’t have to be Ron Sider or Bono to get excited about these new initiatives that transcend ideologies left or right. Greer & Smith show us that through this ingenious plan of small loans (that must be paid back) development can happen through local economies of scale, human dignity, genuine justice as folks are given (to use the Habitat for Humanity slogan) a hand, not a hand-out. You can see it for yourself in the very handsome pictures (by award-winning photographer Jeremy Cowart) in this nicely designed book.  Believe me, once you see this, you’ll want to share the book.  Once you get involved in donating to this cause, you’ll want the book as a keepsake reminder of it all.

The Poor Will Be Glad is the work that came out of an extraordinary international ministry of increasing renown: Hope International. (Do check out this website—there are podcasts and videos and great stories and stuff for you to do;  be sure to see the spiffy “Hands Up” pictures.)  Started by young, thoughtful, good, folk from Lancaster PA (yay) they have developed this way of investing in the lives of local communities, using micro-financing ideas and wholistic ministry to truly change lives and whole regions.  As they invest in “hope entrepreneurs” they truly see multi-faceted change and development.  Greer, their director, did his undergrad in the great business department at Messiah College, and has an advanced degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School, and did micro-financing in Africa for several years before coming to Hope.  We know of his background and work, have investigated their ministry, sold books to ’em even (and can report that they’ve had a presence at Jubilee in Pittsburgh, as they will this year, as Peter takes the stage at Jubilee 2010 in February.) So, we vouch for them.  Peter is speaking at the big Catalyst “next leaders” event in Atlanta this week, too, and Seattle’s remarkable “Faith, Film & Justice” film festival this weekend, for that matter, so it is clear he’s quickly growing to be a respected spokesperson for what ordinary people can do to invest wisely and fruitfully in the lives of the poor.  It makes me glad to know that folks are promoting such an important and strategic plan, and that sales of this book is part of it all.  We are part of it all.  You can be part of it all. 

Rob Bell wrote the forward to The Poor Will Be Glad, a move that, again, illustrates not onlypoor will be glad image.jpg that Zondervan is really pushing this, but that this represents a newer, younger generation of activists– savvy, sharp, theologically mature and very passionate about being effective in ways that are faithful.  We expect the book to arrive this week, and we are pleased to offer it at the same G20 20% discount we were offering on these sorts of titles last week.  We are very excited about this, are fully confident that it will be informative, inspiring, and practical.  It is a book you should know about right away, will want to see, and maybe share with others.  We are sure that H&M readers are the very kind of people that this book is made for.  We are grateful that we are in this sort of work together, and very, very glad that evangelical publishers like Zondervan are investing in such socially significant books, beautifully made and exceptional in every way.  Indeed, the poor shall be glad.  God will be too.

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Blog Special on a few more books about justice

Here are a few more recent titles to supplement this week’s theme, books about global justice, inspired by the G20 Summit and the protests in Pittsburgh.  For more serious or academic titles, see the brand new list I posted over at my monthly column, here (September 09.)  Some great deeper books listed there, from the new, fantastic Justice Project (which really isn’t that deep, just very comprehensive and in hardcover, so I listed it there) to the fascinating and diverse collection in The Gospel and Globalization by Michael Goheen & Erin Glanville (one of my own personal favorites)  and several more excellent ones….

Here are a few to whet your appetite, perhaps more basic and less academic.

The Skeptics Guide to Global Poverty  Dale Hanson Bourke (Authentic) $9.99 This is a
skeptics guide to global poverty.jpg handsome paperback, full color inside, similar to another fabulous one the author did on AIDS.  These answers the tough questions real people ask, a simple overview of the complex issues. I have long been a fan of Ms Bourke’s journalism and writing, and here she provides a great service.  Very solid information, nicely arranged and usefully presented, simple and clear. 

god's economy.jpgGod’s Economy: Redefining the Health & Wealth Gospel  Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (Zondervan) $14.99  Kudos to Zondervan for being willing to publish this feisty author, who draws on radical sources and is impeccably Biblical.  Eugene Peterson has a very good forward, reminding us that the Bible indeed talks about abundance and abundant life but that, ironically, although most Americans talk about it a lot, few seem very content.  This is not a self-help book, nor really a scholarly overview of globalization.  It is just a solid, inspiring, helpful way to get our heads (and hearts) on straight about money, materialism, and God’s call to an upside down way of life that is blessed.  Just what is God’s economy? I suppose you know that isn’t what the television preachers say…

do justice.jpgDo Justice: A Social Justice Road Map  edited by Kristin Vander Giessen-Reitsma (catapult) $7.95  You may recall that we’ve promoted this before…it is a small collection of mostly great writing (aha: I have a bibliography here, too) about development, poverty, justice-education, globalization and God’s call to service, community development and such.  We love the bi-weekly ezine catapult and some of these pieces were published on line.  Some are new for this handsome paperback collection.  Very nicely done.

EMC paperback.jpgEverything Must Change: When the World’s Biggest Problems and Jesus’ Good News Collide Brian McLaren (Nelson) $14.99  You may know how we were somewhat involved in the hardback book’s tour, how we promoted this wonderful study of the inter-relatedness of major world problems and the framing narratives that drive them.  I have used some of Brian’s brief youtube clips around this theme and tour, and then the DVD curriculum, which is very exciting, visionary, inspiring. (Email me if you want more info on that!)  Now, the book is out in paperback, with a bright new cover and a provocative new sub-title. Glad that they are trying to help folk understand what this is about, how Jesus’ Kingdom ways are uniquely able to address the complexity of our broken global world, as we take up our role as “revolutionaries of hope.”  I really recommend this big picture book, readable and interesting and in many ways quite profound.

Social Justice Handbook: Small Steps for a Better World  Mae Elise Cannon (IVP) $20.00social justice handbook.jpg  I have been wishing for a fabulous guidebook like this for 30 years, and in all of my study of resources for social action, there is simply nothing like this on the market. It includes lots of topics, and is well written.  From trafficking to environmental concerns, from homelessness to debt relief, from global trade issues to domestic violence, this has brief articles, good theology, practical suggestions.  There are nice biographical sketches too of folks who have made a difference, Christians throughout church history, and some activists today.  Very instructive, pointing you to further resources.  Rave review on the back from Gary Haugen and a forward by John Perkins.  Thank God for what Shane Claiborne calls “a cookbook for plotting goodness and stirring up holy mischief.”

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