You are invited to hear (or order an autographed book by) David Naugle, author of “Reordered Love, Reordered Lives” speaking Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Sponsored by Hearts & Minds, Dallastown PA


Beth and I are exhausted from the last weeks of heavy planning, prepping, packing and setting up our gigantic book display at the truly extraordinary Jubilee conference.  Each February I write passionately about it, and will again soon.  After the actual Pittsburgh event — with 3000 college students, hearing about the call to evangelical, gospel-centered cultural renewal, the Biblical story of the restoration of creation, and the invitation to true spirituality, finding God in our callings as we serve Christ’s reign in all areas of life — we bring back the rented truck, still half full from unsold books, supplies, and bushels of paperwork, not to mention exquisite, lasting memories. More on all of that later (including a big sale on some Jubilee-ish books.) But first…


an evening with david naugle.jpgOur weariness is tempered by our great enthusiasm for our next little project: hosting a visitor to Dallastown from Dallas, Texas.  Dr. David K. Naugle will join us this coming Tuesday, March 3rd at 7:00 PM.  Davey, as he likes to be called, is an esteemed author and a good friend and a great guy. He has, by the way, spoken at Jubilee.

His first book is very important — the only book of its kind — a big, fat overview of how the word “worldview” has come to be used, and its linguistic genealogy. Who introduced this mysterious and potent word to the English language, and how did certain sorts of Christian folks come to appropriate it? From Holland’s Abraham Kuyper to Toronto’s Brian Walsh & Richard Middleton, fromphilosophy a student's guide.jpgworldview.jpg the Philly born, Swiss Francis Schaeffer to Wheaton-area James Sire, from Scottish James Orr, to American Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey to so many more, the word has been used, mis-used, abused, tweaked and written about, celebrated and criticized (think of Jamie Smith, just for instance) and Naugle’s Worldview: The History of a Concept (Eerdmans; $34.00) tells you all you need to know, and more. It is fascinating, a major contribution to Christian and Reformed cultural studies, and we are, as you might guess, true fans.

He also has written Philosophy: A Students Guide (Crossway; $11.99) which is a nice little book in the brief, but serious series series for students called “Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition” published by Crossway. (See the whole series, here.) Naugle’s is obviously on philosophy (which is what he teaches at Dallas Baptist University) and is one of the best in the set.  It is, in my view, the best very brief introduction to why philosophy is important for Christian thinkers, and a fine proposal for what it means to develop a uniquely Christian philosophy.  Philosophy, in a way, is more fundamental and basic than theology, and the need for foundational Christian rumination on philosophical subjects should precede (some would say) serious work in theology. Anyway, it’s a lovely little book, making a fine and helpful argument for a distinctively Christian mind, informed and strengthened by a faithful and intentionally integrated Christian philosophy.


reordered love.jpgAlthough we value these two other books books of Dr. Naugle, and commend them with great gusto any time we can, these are not what Davey will talk about when he visits with us on Tuesday.  He will be talking about his most general book, Reordered Love, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of Happiness (Eerdmans; $18.00.) It is a mature and thoughtful book to be appreciated by any educated Christian reader, or anyone who seeks a deep and good life. As the subtitle suggests, it is a book about being happy. It promises to unlock the deep meaning of happiness.  

It really is one of our favorite books, and we are delighted that Davey can be with us to share a bit about it.

If you are anywhere near Central Pennsylvania you are very warmly invited (no pun intended: we’ll make sure it is plenty toasty if you come) to join us to hear a brief presentation by Dr. Naugle (held near the shop at Living Word Community Church) and then to listen in on a conversation between him and me. I’ll interview him a bit, and then we’ll have plenty of time for questions and replies. It will be a fun and inspiring evening, I’m sure. Naugle is a great communicator and a good teacher and a really pleasant, joyful leader. Just listen to what Steve Garber (of Visions of Vocation fame) says of him, 

I regard David Naugle as one of the most gifted professors in America. Perennially his students learn to think and care about the most important things — remarkably so, in fact.

Garber continues, “Reordered Love, Reordered Lives allows all of us the grace of learning over his shoulder and through his heart; listening in on the unusual pedagogy that is uniquely his. Amazingly wise, incredibly well-read, he is always attentive to what matters most, and his book should find its way into hearts and minds, courses and colleges, far and wide.”

Listen to what James K.A. Smith, author of Desiring the Kingdom writes of it:

We Protestants tend to have hang-ups about happiness. We know God wants us to be good, but we’re not sure whether he wants us to be happy. David Naugle obliterates this dichotomy. With the clarity and wisdom of a master teacher, Naugle invites us to become everyday philosophers in pursuit of the good life. And with the help of a range of voices — Gerard Manley Hopkins to Stephen Colbert, from J.R.R. Tolkien to Johnny Cash – he accomplishes a veritable coup d’etat, showing that a fourth-century African bishop has life-shaping insights for an iPod generation. This book is a winsome invitation to rethink discipleship, whether your 17 or 70.

The African bishop he refers to, of course, is one of the most famous Christian thinkers, writers, andThe-Confesssions-of-St.-Augustine.jpg leaders in all of church history, beloved (mostly) by Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox alike, Saint Augustine of Hippo.  

Augustine once quipped that if one wants to really know a person, don’t ask what he believes. Ask what he loves.  What a person loves, you see, what he or she desires, is what is most fundamental and will shape them profoundly.  As Smith himself has shown in recent books, we humans are not primarily, firstly thinkers, but lovers. God made us to love, to worship, to serve, and while we of course need to think well and rightly, having the right ideas (even the right theological ideas) simply will not fundamentally change our lives. We are oriented and pushed along by desire. We want what we want.

And so, dear friends, come out and join us (or tell others, if you can’t make it) to hear this fine author reflect a little on this extraordinary book, a book about our loves. Loving the right thing in the right way is the key to faithful Christian living, and the key to happiness. We must (as Os Guinness writes in his rave review) “disentangle the true longings of our hearts from the false seductions of our culture.”  It isn’t easy, but it is fascinating, and vital. This book can help.


As the poster shows, we will again partner with our friends at Living Word Community Church to host Dr. Naugle, so join us there (2530 Cape Horn Road, Red Lion, PA) at 7:00 PM.  Some of our very good friends who are staff members there (Brian Rice, Aaron Kunce, Gordon Carpenter) adore this book and are eager to have their own young singles group (meeting as Liquid Tuesday) hear more about it. So we are sneaking in on their weekly Liquid Tuesday gathering as they willingly yield their regularly scheduled program to us. There will be some opening worship music (loud, no doubt) and then the Hearts & Minds Naugle talk and discussion. We’ll have refreshments, we’ll have books for sale, and a good time will be had by all.  I trust that we all shall grow a bit in faithful happiness. 

Davy Naugle poster.jpg

Sponsored by Hearts & Minds / Hosted nearby at Living Word Community Church, 2530 Cape Horn Road, Red Lion, PA

Love, virtue, character formation, spirituality, desire, relationships, nature, worldview, justice, pop culture, discipleship, church history, Biblical studies, a touch of continental Dutch philosophy and some US rock and roll.  Did I mention love? Naugle brings it all together.  This is a truly great book, and it will be a very good evening.  Join us, please, and help us spread the word.

If you would like to order the book, we have it at our customary 20% off for mail-order BookNotes readers. Here is a BookNotes review I did of it a few years back. If you want an autographed copy, we can send it after the event.  Just tell us if you just want it signed, or if you wanted it inscribed to someone special.  We’re happy to try to make that happen.



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FOUR BOOKS ABOUT PLEASURE: “From Tablet to Table” (Leonard Sweet), “The Things of Earth” (Joe Rigney), “Becoming Worldly Saints” (Michael Wittmer), and “Pure Pleasure” (Gary Thomas) ON SALE 20% OFF

Although I despise the perversions and violence against women that pornography embodies, and Ireal sex lw.jpg have no interest in finding anything redemptive about the Fifty Shades books and movie, I have been asked by a few customers to write about sexuality, or at least to write about books about sexuality.  We’ve done that before, and we have a wide and hearty selection here at the shop, from a wide spectrum of views within the church universal. We still think Lauren Winner’s Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity (Brazos Books; $14.99) is a must read.  We just got in Damaged Goods: New Perspectives on Christian Purity by Dianna E. Anderson (Jericho Books; $18.00) a book that is complicated — I really, really appreciate much of it. She shows the troubling consequences and even weirdness of some of the evangelical fetish about sexual purity, what with the daddy daughter dances and  sexual purity rings given to tweeners and tedious courtship rituals and gender assumptions and a whole ton of shame.  But, I also think some of it seems  pretty muddled, perhaps the proverbial pendulum swinging a bit in over-reaction… Of course, there are some progressive Christian feminists who are fairly conventional indamaged goods.jpg terms of normative Christian sexual ethics, so it certainly needn’t be a black and white binary in being either fundamentalist and misogynist or progressive and sexually healthy, even though any number of recent books by former evangelicals seem to have that caricatured and tone.  Anyway, there are great books and fascinating books and candid books and, yes, some weird ones out there.  I think Damaged Goods is worth reading carefully, even though most evangelicals will think she’s a bit too casual, now.

One of the things that comes up in this book, and others, is the matter of pleasure.  Do conservative religious traditions set out to stamp out pleasure?  That’s the real topic I’d like to tell you about, and I’ll (eventually) describe four books that approach this wonderfully. Three are brand new; one is older, but so very nice. I don’t know if this is some of what underlies the discussion about Shades of Grey…  I am staying out of that for now, as so much ink has already been spilled.  There have been fifty shades of reviews, and I haven’t read the books nor will I see the film, so I’m leaving it to other, wiser voices. 

But I do gather that some religious folks are being portrayed as kill joys.  We just stymie life’s pleasures, zapping enjoyment, resisting fun. Girls just want to have fun, after all; daddy is such a drag. Poor Lou Albano, who plays the clueless, uptight father in the classic video. When I hear that fun song by Cyndi Lauper — especially the all-acoustic one with a Caribbean rapper from The Body Electric — I almost believe it.

But no.  There has been a large and robust tradition within the historic Christian tradition that does not hate the body, that does not hate the created order, that certainly does not court pain for its own good — those guys who beat themselves in the Middle Ages (or the guy in Orphan Black) have beenTeach us To Want.jpgeve's revenge Barger.jpg considered heterodox, mostly. Lilian Calles Barger, by the way, has written brilliantly as an evangelical feminist on this topic, and how weird views from church and culture have effected women’s lives, even women’s views of their own bodies. In her Eve’s Revenge: Women and a Spirituality of the Body [Brazos Press; $18.00) she studies this thoroughly, and offers a healthy and classic view, sane and good. Christian faith does value great joy, and good pleasures, even bodily pleasures.  You know that C.S. Lewis line: “God must love matter. He made a lot of it.”

Last month in BookNotes, I celebrated Teach us To Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith by Jen Pollock Michel (IVP; $16.00) as one of our favorite books of 2014, naming it one of the best Books of the Year.  It is a beautiful memoir-like reflection about ambition, bring one woman’s view, and it comes around to this question over and over.  Is it wrong to want? Is desire necessarily suspect?  It’s a fine place to start. 

reordered love.jpg

Along these very lines, we are going to host an evening on March 3rd here in Dallastown with a favorite author of ours, David Naugle, whose profound book Reordered Love, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of Happiness (Eerdmans; $18.00) is a wonderful, thoughtful rumination on the meaning of true happiness — which has to do with enjoying things in the right way.  Not unlike Jamie Smith’s remarkable recent books (Desiring the Kingdom) there is stuff here about longing, desire, love. It’s about being happy, for crying out loud.  The title, Reordered Love, is a great phrase, insightful, itself.  We have to order our loves so that we learn to love the right stuff, the right way.  We can’t wait to have him here, sharing with us about this book and how we can, indeed, have re-ordered loves and re-ordered lives. I bet he could tell us a thing or too about what’s really going on in the Fifty Shades fiasco.

Okay, sorry for that preamble.

 I was just going to fire off four quick titles to whet your appetite.  I’m packing books and boxes for the big Jubilee conference next week, so have to be quick.  Here we go — four books to help us ponder pleasure, enjoying life’s beauties big and small, the right way, and finding ways to help us do that, and do it well.

Pure Pleasure.jpgPure Pleasure: Why Do Christians Feel So Bad about Feeling Good?  Gary Thomas (Zondervan) $14.99  We write about Thomas from time to time here — in fact, we awarded him a “Book of the Year” award for a recent book he did on marriage, A Lifelong Love.  We love his good books Sacred Marriage and Sacred Parenting and really appreciate his other books, like Glorious Pursuit about virtue, spiritual formation, and being — as one of his titles puts it —  Holy Available to God.  He “practices the presence of God” as they say, and has this delightful way of bringing deep stuff from the historic saints and older mystics into very upbeat, popular conversation. In the midst of this fairly heavy stuff about spirituality, spiritual disciplines, being transformed by the gospel and such, he found this other theme — some believers seem to have this peculiar guilt about pleasure. He’s a deeply spiritual guy but he’s lighthearted. He’s a joy to be around.  Here in Pure Pleasure he offers the power of guilt-free pleasure.  As it say on the back,

Pleasure is a good thing. It s a powerful force that feeds your relationships, helps protect your spiritual integrity, and brings delight to our heavenly Father. Pleasure isn t something Christians should fear, shun, or disparage; it s something we should learn to cultivate in our lives. Acclaimed spiritual growth author Gary Thomas will guide you into this way of life, which is foundational to a healthy relationship with God, with your loved ones, and with the world. He ll show you that, for the redeemed, pleasure can be a powerful and holy force for good, leading to increased worship, spiritual strength, and renewed relationships. In this invigorating and liberating book, Gary Thomas will energize, inspire, equip, and challenge you to experience life as God meant it to be: overflowing with pleasure.

I think Mr. Thomas is really on to something here, and I enjoy his writing a lot.  See what I did there?  Have fun: read about pleasure!  That’s a win, win.

The Things of Earth- Treasuring God By Enjoying His Gifts.jpgThe Things of Earth: Treasuring God By Enjoying His Gifts Joe Rigney (Crossway) $16.99  Rigney is a professor of theology and Christian worldview at Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis, so is affiliated with John Piper, who wrote the great forward to this book. One needn’t agree with all of Piper’s passionate views to be glad for his regular reminder that we are to make much of God, but we do that — pleasing God by exalting in Him — by taking joy in God and in God’s provisions for us.  That is, at least, his common grace in the real world.  Piper takes cues from C.S. Lewis, as does Rigney (whose previous book had the great title How To Live Like a Narnian.) It’s meaty, hefty stuff, and it’s a good counter to some of the goofiness in some religious circles.  I like what Gloria Furman wrote after reading it,

This book makes me want to watch the Olympics while eating pumpkin crunch cake, rejoicing in the God who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. But there’s a part of me that is a little bit wary. What if my heart gets lost in these things? If you’re at all familiar with that hesitation, this book is for you.

This world is full of good things. God made us to posses things, even. You may know that I despise the chorus that says that when Jesus shows up “the things of earth go strangely dim” (I hope that’s not true!) but rather — as another hymn more helpfully reminds us — “He shines in all that’s fair.”  Joe RIgney offers a breath of fresh air, here, giving us a serious, Reformed vision of the beauty and goodness of earthly life, and how to glorify God in it all. 

 becoming worldly saints.jpgBecoming Worldly Saints: Can You Serve Jesus and Still Enjoy Your Life?  Michael Wittmer (Zondervan) $15.99  Oh, wow, this is it.  It is the long awaited sequel — or at least that’s how I see it — to his must-read, really great, gotta have Heaven Is a Place on Earth: Why Everything You Do Matters to God (Zondervan; $16.99.) That book frames all of earthy life and all our various callings and responsibilities in light of the over-arching drama of the Bible, which is to say creation/fall/redemption/restoration.  God made the world really good, it got messed up really badly, Christ’s redemption really is cosmic in scope (“far as the curse is found” as the carol puts it) and the promised restoration really is a-coming. God is making “all things renewed” and we’re a part of His healing hope, the Kingdom, “on earth as it is in heaven.”  Yes, Heaven Is a Place on Earth is a fine, accessible, very valuable book about this whole Kingdom vision thing.  (You bet we’ll be talking about it at the Jubilee conference next week, whose 2015 slogan is “this changes everything.”)

So, this new book — Becoming Worldly Saints — carries out that theme, helping us live it, day by day, inviting us to live with joy, free from guilt, embracing the not-yet-redeemed world.  It is warm and Biblically-rich, and even clever at times.  (So much so, that Al Wolters, author of the seminal Creation Regained — a heck of a nice guy, but not really known as a comic — says of Wittmer’s book “It made me laugh right out loud. This is popular theology at its best.”) Now that’s  a back cover blurb for some of us, at least: it made Al Wolter’s laugh!

Wittmer, as the ad about it says, “brings your human and Christian lives together.” Well, he’d insist they are one in the same, anyway: “when you grasp God’s story, you’ll understand that not only is it possible to serve Jesus and still enjoy your life, but it’s the only way you really can.”  I’m telling you, this is a very good book.

I wonder if this book was written somewhat inspired by some of the over-the-top and rather fashionable calls to commitment these days (Radical, perhaps?) Trevin Wax, in a good foreword, writes,

Becoming Worldly Saints conveys truths that are essential for following Christ faithfully. Mike Wittmer doesn’t want us to lose sight of the world-affirming aspects of our Christian faith. He doesn’t want us to underestimate the power of living an ordinary life of faithful devotion to King Jesus. he doesn’t want us to feel false guilt for enjoying the good world God has given us. The truth of eternity doesn’t obliterate our earthly experiences; it infuses them with heavenly significance.

Agree or not with all the details, this new Wittmer paperback is a fantastic example of what we’re about here at the bookstore. We think books like this can be truly transforming, can be helpful to those who don’t quite have an integrated, wholistic view of faith and the everyday. There isn’t much mystical or odd here, just good common sense, radically Biblical sense, about God’s good world and Christ’s redemptive plan of bringing healing and hope to it. N.T. Wright’s most recent book is right when it says the Biblical message is Simply Good News and then goes on to say Why It is News and What is Good About It.” This vision of being surprised by Kingdom hope informs Wittmer, making this a lively, substantive book, but also a true delight, helpful and wise.  There is a great study guide in the back, making it ideal for book clubs, Bible studies, or adult Sunday school classes.  Hooray!

From Tablet to Table- Where Community Is Found and Identity is Formed.jpgFrom Tablet to Table: Where Community Is Found and Identity is Formed Leonard Sweet (NavPress) $14.99  Wow, this is a fantastic little book, doing all the things that Sweet at his best always does — lots of word play, clever sentences, bringing together various insights in surprising ways. He is breathy, upbeat, energetic, confident that he’s got something that can change the world. I love authors like this, who believe in what they are saying, and put themselves into it. Sweet is — postmodern semiotic scholar that he is — it seems to me, at heart, still a holiness preacher. (The book is dedicated to his friends Bill and Gloria Gaither!) He reads The New York Review of Books and names all kinds of innovative technologies and futuristic potentials  — for a while he branded himself as a futurist and consultant helping us “dance the soul salsa” in the “soul tsunami” of the hot-wired 21st century.  The books that are coming out now by any number of young bucks telling churches how to have a better engagement with social media, are merely making practical what Sweet has been saying for decades, now. He’s sophisticated in his reading and, as I always say, the footnotes themselves are an education worth the price of the book.

So, Sweet’s a bit of a super-techie, hip futurist, and he’s a holiness preacher wanting to bring Christ’s grace into everything. In recent years (and this isn’t surprising, really, if you know him) he has been writing about play (see The Well Played Life, for instance, a fun book I reviewed a while back) and even in a recent book on preaching with a foreboding title (GIving Blood) he reminds us to have great joy in our efforts to communicate the gospel well.  Even the title of his new book on social ethics has a playful zest to it — From Me to We. Sweet’s a man alive, and there is no doubt about that.


So where does he get it? What does he propose in the midst of this fast-paced, digital culture of ours, to find the simple joys of daily life.  How do we do what these books above say — live life with happy gusto, in and for the world God so loves?  Does he have a proposal or agenda, plans, even, for helping us live into this great and blessed story we’ve mentioned in the books listed above? Can we receive God’s best gifts with great joy?  How?

Well, I’d be wrong to say “it is simple” but this book almost makes it sound that way. He makes the case — and has amazing statistics to prove it (of course he does; where does he find this stuff?) — that the simple act of eating together around tables in families is a major indicator of all manner of success in life. The capacity to thrive — to have a well-played life, to understand “pure pleasure” — comes from good relationships that are formed by eating together. Eating together at table.

Can a meal change your life?

Yes, says, Sweet. And the Bible seems to say, so, too.

“The story of God is full of references to food. From the Garden of Eden to the Last Supper to the wedding feast of the Lamb, God sets a table before us and invites us to join Him there.”  In a way From Tablet to Table is a Biblical study of food, but also of meals and tables.

What happens when we “consume fast food in front of our smart phones”?  Do we engage in mealtimes, and other practices, where we sadly “never face each other, barely acknowledging the existence of one another. We consume bite-size Scriptures and reduce our world so that we can move through it quickly without being distracted by the activities that surround us.”

This is a book about paying attention, about paying attention to food and meals and each other.  And to our own place, our neighborhoods. But to do that, we have to, in some ways, put down our ipads and tablets; that is, our fascination with technology. Ahh, the ironies here, of Sweet of all people telling us this! But he has always had a green thumb, interested in quality stuff that tells real stories and a spirituality of joyful appreciation of the stuff of earth.  There is a bit of an irony here since he is certainly no Luddite, but here he does warn us of “tabletizing” things, and, after repenting of that, how to “table-ize” things. Yep, he says that.

Sweet tells a story early in the book that, I gather, propelled him further to write this particular book, and it certainly propelled me to keep reading. He noted that a young fellow, a friend of his daughter, was staying over at their home for a few days. The kid seemed a bit awkward, maybe even a uncomfortable, and Sweet asked his daughter about it. 

“Was it something we did?” he asked.

“Sort of,” Soren answered. “He said that he has never eaten with his family at a table, and so he wasn’t sure how to act of what to do.”


“A Christian teenager, attending a Christian college, had never eaten a home cooked meal at a family table.” Interestingly, he notes how shows such as Modern Family rarely show families actually eating together (although, he notes, a show called Blue Bloods does.)  We are in a bit of a cultural crisis here.  The implications — on physical health, on social bonding, or cultural capital —  are serious. The research shows that the more we eat out, and the less real meals we prepare at home, the worse off we are.

And Jesus comes along and invites us to table.

And that, Sweet shows, shapes our identity. 

This book is just loaded (or should I use a more foody type word, laden?) with great phrases (he talks about the power of story, and invites us to combine narratives and metaphors into narraphors) and colorful paragraphs, flowing into vital ideas to inspire us. For instance, he writes,

The Kingdom of God is not a geographic domain with set boundaries and settled decrees, but a set of relationships in which Christ is sovereign. At the table, Jesus moves us from ideas about life and love to actual living and loving.

Martin Luther was right.  Theology is table talk.

This is all in the first three chapters, the first half which he calls “Table It.”

The second half is comprised of three more chapters, entitled “Life’s Three Tables.”  Here he explores the implications of a table theology and table ethics and “dining demeanor” at home, at church, and in the world.

He invites us to “set the table” in these areas, and gives us stories of what it might look like.  It isn’t a heavy study full of vast details (like, say, Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus by Christopher Smith and John Pattison which is truly a must-read if you have any interest in the intersection of food and church.)  But From Tablet to Table: Where Community Is Found and Identity Is Formed is an extrapolation of a sermon, and we thing it is well worth reading, maybe with others, hopefully around a table, together.

Here is a brief interview with Sweet by Jonathan Merritt.  Check out the video at the bottom, a 20- minute talk which shares some of his ideas and ways with words.

“Len Sweet is singing a song I love, and he’s doing it with intelligence and passion.”  

Shauna Niequist, author of Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table, with Recipes


“With his reflections on the Lord’s table and the dinner table as central for Life and life, Len Sweet draws together heaven and earth in a celebration of the ongoing relationships of love. This is a splendid theology to live by.”

Luci Shaw, poet, author of Adventure of Ascent: Field Notes from a Lifelong Journey

 becoming worldly saints.jpgThe Things of Earth- Treasuring God By Enjoying His Gifts.jpgPure Pleasure.jpg

From Tablet to Table- Where Community Is Found and Identity is Formed.jpg 

to enjoy life more? Read some of these books that authorize us to do
all things with and for God, taking delight in the goodness of the good
creation.  But learn to practice it, embody it, do it. Walk that talk —
have fun. And that means moving from our tablets a bit, to our tables. 
Sweet can help you set the table.  Offer hospitality, be friendly, eat
well, throw parties.  



20% off
order here
takes you to the secure Hearts & Minds order form page
just tell us what you want

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     717-246-3333

FOUR FANTASTIC BOOKS FOR EARLY FEBRUARY — Donald Miller, Wendell Berry, Makoto Fujimura, Dallas Willard

We are so happy to be able to tell you about these four books, each brand new, each written with its own sort of elegance and integrity, each profound and good, by authors we respect. We want to commend them to you, all four, even. These are great gifts for us all, and we have them at 20% off for BookNotes readers and friends. (We show the regular retail price but will calculate and deduct the discount when you order.) Just use the link to the order form shown below — or give us a phone call, if you’d rather. The order form page at our Hearts & Minds website is secure, so you can safely leave your information. Or, just ask us to send a bill and we’ll happily do so.  We thank you for your support.  Happy reading.

Scary Close- Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy.jpgScary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy  Donald Miller (Nelson) $19.99  I mentioned this new hardback in our last post, the one about the Turansky/Miller parenting books. It seemed to fit, since it includes some very good advice about parenting; this memoir is a lovely story about relationships, the arc of which is mostly about the popular Gen X author of Blue Like Jazz learning to be more authentic and develop skills and habits that would allow him to be more intimate and connected. Yes, it is mostly a love story — Miller gets engaged and the book tells of his courtship, the ups and downs along the way (and there were some, believe you me.) I really want to remind you how good this is. It’s a good sign when I can’t stop telling Beth about a book I’ve finished — we obviously read a lot, and much of our skimming and studying we don’t have to share with one another much. Scary Close, though, is one I just have to keep talking about. She has now started it, but I’ve read some out aloud to her already. It’s that kind of a book. 

There are memorable episodes here (some funny, some stupid, some tragic, some amazingly curious) and good stories and some understated points and a few jokes. There are a few Biblical insights, but the book isn’t heavy-handedly religious. There are remarkable mentors that come alongside Donald to help him learn how to be real, how not to be so codependent, how not to be so much of a control freak. Wonderful folks like Mark Foreman, parent of the frontmen of Switchfoot, teach him about family love, about grace and resisting shame, about marriage and parenting. He tells about these conversations he has and they are all interesting. (This is one observation, almost a criticism, though, just a small one, something I experience sometimes when reading these kinds of books: I wonder what kind of lucky people have the very best leaders in the country come alongside them, be their friend, take them to dinner, give them support and advice? After the fifth or sixth really famous person gives Donald good advice I had to — we’re being honest, here, right? — roll my eyes and get a little jealous. Okay, so you probably are more mature than me and it surely won’t ruin the reading or the learning or the fun. But I had to say it. I do my own bit of namedropping, I know, but it is usually authors I saw or maybe briefly met, not those who come over for drinks and take me under their wing and offer tons of free advice.)

These other voices and good conversations maybe don’t make the book sound that appealing or fascinating, but it really, really is.  When Miller talks about Bob Goff or that guy who wrote The Shack or “To Write Love On Her Arms” Jamie Tworkowski or describes his stint at a rehab kind of place, or cites psychologist Henry Cloud, it really does bring good insight. These people who figure into the story are some of the most remarkable people he knows, and of course he’s going to ask them their secret for good marriages and good families and a healthy approach to career and calling. And it does make the book fun — he’s off at a retreat one minute, writing his next book the next, meeting with a TV star who just had twins the next, and, while planning a wedding with his remarkable bride to be, in pops a person at just the right time to give sage advise or a shoulder to cry on.  And it is really valuable advice. And there really is some reason to cry.  This is, after all, very serious stuff; it is his life!  And yours!

Miller is a brand name in hipster evangelical circles, speaks on the coolest circuit and knows a lot of edgy, engaged people. He lived in Portland, for Pete’s sake. He has a soundtrack on-line to listen to along with the book; I doubt if Harper Lee will do that. And he owns a branding business, helping corporations tell a better story, and they rent houses to meet in when throwing splashy conferences. Of course he does. But that hip, upscale lifestyle aside, I love this guy, and love his vulnerability and his simple truths that he well learned. As it asks on the back, “in an age when we all act as our own publicity agents, would he be willing to impress fewer people to honestly connect with more?” (We all act as our own publicity agents? What an odd thing to accuse us all of — again, this is his world, I guess, a bit bohemian, artistic, entrepreneurial. I don’t know how many people really think they need a publicity agent; most people I know think I’m weird because I’m on twitter.) But there it is: can this guy who created this image as an author, speaker, social media player (etcetera) tone it down, learn to be more local, real, honest, and truly connect with people who love him?

Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy is a memoir, and it’s Miller’s story, from his guy point of view. If you like the way this literary autobiographical genre gives you a glimpse into an unfolding life, then you will like this book — get it on you stack right away. At times, you know, good memoirs feel like a novel, and although this would be a slow, quiet one, it is captivating, truly a tale I couldn’t put down.

More than his other books, this is almost like a self-help book. He teaches in it, in his low key way, and he is teaching important stuff about relating well to others, about being a servant, about letting go of ego and control, of dropping the act, as he puts it. He fesses up to being a manipulator and tells us how to resolve the performance anxiety, at least a bit.  

Throughout, he helpfully quotes and explains good authors (Harville Hendrix, Viktor Frankl) and useful books like Safe People and Marley and Me.  (Okay, maybe Marly isn’t all that useful, really, but it’s wonderful, and he draws from it nicely. Not to mention the great movie We Have a Pope.

There are a few pages that approach the proverbial psychobabble — did he really not know about co-dependency when he first learned it at the OnSite Workshop and their “centered living” program? Still, this is true, good material, and it touched a pretty deep place in me. Most of us have our issues, regret and sorrow, gladness and joy, foibles and frustrations. Talking about it — especially for a guy who has written about his lack of a father and the hard stuff of his early childhood — is scary. But it’s the hard work we are called to, to be real, to be vulnerable, to be ourselves, our truest selves. It is a journey Donald is on, now with his lovely wife and her strong network of deep friendships and extended family, into which he has so graciously been grafted. He is a better man for it, and you will be a better person for having listened in to his simple story. 

You’ll be thrilled to hear how the wedding at the end of ScaryClose turned out — Betsy miller wedding.jpgconvinced him they could fix up a deteriorated part of a neglected old country club where she had fond and important childhood memories and, of course, it soon began to take shape. Donald’s wry comment that “it’s funny how a good story can start to remodel a place” — was quintessential and a wonderful, potent summary of the work of restoration he and she are committed to.  By the way, they offer stunningly beautiful wedding pictures at their ScaryClose website, too — although you shouldn’t look at them until after you’ve read the book. I couldn’t even see the hose in the gothic fountain, giving the impression it worked.

I was kind of jealous of that great wedding story and those pictures, too, by the way. 

Truly, this is that kind of a book, a wondrous tale of a life being slowly turned around, about fresh starts and new capacities and the holy grace of deep connection and down-to-Earth hope. It will make you want in on it all.  That is what a good memoir can do.  Enjoy and learn!

our only world wendell berry.jpgOur Only World: Ten Essays Wendell Berry (Counterpoint) $24.00  I suppose it is a tad incongruous to list the decidedly unhip Mr. Wendell Berry from rural Kentucky right after talking about this psychologically driven story about needing to learn how to fine intimacy and trust by the jazzter brander Donald Miller, formerly of urbane Portlandia.  But there you have it, the diverse stuff we have here at the shop, and the diverse books we truly are excited about. It would be a blast to get to send out one of each, eh?  

It is a good season when there is a new book by Mr. Berry, considered by many to be, as Edward Abbey puts it bluntly, “The best serious essayist now at work in the United States.” And there is a bit of a connection, too, to the Miller memoir, or so it seems to me.  Neither writer is glitzy or affectatious or breathy, even. They are calm, plain-spoken, deliberate. Miller is cooler and funnier, but both are interested in what is genuine. Both are willing to ask hard questions. If Donald “searching for God knows what” Miller appeals at least to young Christians eager to shed dogmatic fundamentalism, but still live into a solid, good, restorative, grace-filled story, Berry tells us, deeply, how to really think about that, rooted in profound, prophetic gospel. Granted, Miller may be best known in magazines like Relevant and Berry may be known in The Nation or The Atlantic, both are skilled writers who work hard to offer important essays and healing ways to live in a mixed up modern world. As the Washington Post has written, “Berry’s words shine with the gentle wisdom of a craftsman who has thought deeply about the paradoxical strangeness and wonders of life.” 

This collection, not unlike his many others, include previously published pieces, in sources such as Harpers and The Christian Century.  One was from Farming.  One is the transcript of an acceptance speech of a prestigious literary prize given in Dayton Ohio. You get the picture. The theme, again,  not very much unlike other collections, revolves around how our human economy does or doesn’t fit with the economy of nature — between economy and ecology.  He again talks about “forms and functions.”  He laments that we do not know our place; we are filled with hubris.  “This misfitting has been dangerous and damaging” he insists, and a consequence of not just pride, but of our inappropriate thinking, our unimaginative perceptions of the ways of the natural order, and of our idolatries of the industrial/technological era which disregard creational norms.


Some say Berry is like an Old Testament prophet, and — poets that most of them were (and at least one was a “farmer from Takoa”) — I am inclined to agree. Even though he at times speaks clearly as a Christian, his warnings are most often couched for all to hear, with plainspoken common sense (another similarity with the new Donald Miller book which seems to be written for a wider, more general audience then the typical religious book buyers.) For instance, Mr. Berry writes, “It is anyhow clear that if we are to do better, we will have to recognize the old mistake as a mistake: no more euphemism such as “creative destruction,” no more “sacrificing” of a present good for “great good in the future.” We will have to repudiate the too-simple industrial standards and replace them with the comprehensive standard of ecological health, realizing that this standard involves necessarily the humane obligation of neighborliness both to other humans and to other creatures.”

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Berry is an agrarian, a populist, an advocate for faith-based creation care, and he wants us to “submit” to limits and the requirements for a just use of things and places.  He is a philosopher and a farmer, an environmental activist, and a heckuva good writer. I hope you know his novels and short stories, at least the wonderful, wonderful Jayber Crow and Hannah Coulter. His beloved Mad Famer poem is now out in a small, inexpensive paperback — you should have that for repeated reading or reciting. I hope you know his essays.  

This new anthology of recent pieces look to be as fine as any, a handy place to start, a timely and challenging set of morally serious reflections, about life and times, about war and peace, and citizenship and the public good, about land and God and love. He is as specific as writing about the much-debated planks of The Farm Bill or being “caught in the middle” in his views of being pro-life regarding abortion, or a rumination on a walk through a particular forest and as broad as asking how we ought to best understand notions such as freedom.  He is right, you know: this is our only world. Our Only World: Ten Essays well help us care for and protect this beautiful place into which God placed us.

Culture-Care-Makoto-Fujimura-300x300.jpgCulture Care: Connecting with Beauty for Our Common Life Makoyo Fujimura (Fujimura Institute) $25.00  Once again, we are very, very proud to be able to suggest an extraordinary book, another example of the rich and wonderful volumes that are available these days.  Not mass marketed, but produced in-house by the famous abstract painter’s organization, Culture Care is designed as a paperback with French folded covers, and a thin, but durable onionskin cover, giving it a dusty, translucent look. There is a full color reproduction of apainting, Ki-Seki, (that was first done in 2014 with mineral pigments, Sumi ink, silver, and gold, on Kumohada paper) which further enhances this indie-press release. It is a lovely book, unique and good. 

This written content of this fine book clearly holds together as Fujimura develops his call for us to care more deeply for culture, and about how to be more generative as those who want to conserve and develop the cultural potentials within our society. He is a good lecturer and has often spoken about his work as a lavish painter — maybe you’ve glimpsed him in the stunning portion of the For the Life of the World DVD that we’ve promoted, on “beholding” — and he has spoken more generally, as he has written, about culture, social concerns, peacemaking, how to offer a winsome witness in a postmodern world, and why people of faith should be engaged in supporting artists of all sorts. He opposes culture warring and he opposes stubborn ideology and pragmatism. He resists all manner of propaganda. And he builds a generous, positive case, chapter by chapter, for a better way to contribute to care of the culture in which we are to thrive.

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However, this book could also be read as collection of essays, almost dipping in as the spirit leads, reading his insights here or there about “soul care” or “leadership from the margins” or about business or vocabulary or the inspired essay about the gospel-singer Mahalia Jackson’s role, reminding Martin Luther King Jr to “tell ’em about the dream” during the famous March on Washington. You have to see the short but powerful list of “what if” near the end. If you have read Mako’s splendid, and also handsomely designed book Refractions or have subscribed to his on-line newsletter through his IAM (International Arts Movement) you will know of his eloquence and subtle grace as a thinker.  This book is not unlike those.

We are very, very honored to be one of the bookstores carrying this new release, and suggest that is well worth owning, worth repeated reading, and a healthy, important contribution to what it means to be generative, to be of service to the common good, and how we can be “custodians of culture care.” 

Listen to Mako’s overview, from the lovely and provocative preface:

Culture Care, though a thesis I have developed, is a movement already afoot in culture in various circles. In one sense, this book is not new or unique; International Arts Movement and the Fujumura Institute are part of a whole ecosystem of a greater movement. But having acknowledged that, this is a book that addresses head-on a terrible rift in our society: our culture is broken and needs care to be restored to wholeness. Like the “Creation Care” movement that looks after the environment, and the “Soul Care” concepts provided by practitioners in mental health and spiritual growth, this book on Culture Care lays out a necessary conceptual framework and the beginnings of practical responses to repair that rift. This is a book meant to inspire individuals and to inform the wider movement in providing such care.

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Surely, Mako — and many others — are right about how urgent this is. Poetry and the arts in general and “generative thinking” (as he puts it) “are critical for our society to begin a shift away from our corrosive cultural battles.” His book is both manifesto and starting guide, for artists, citizens, anyone taken with the high calling of culture-making.

By the way, we also stock the little pocket-sized and quite handsome booklet called On Becoming Generative: An Introduction to Culture Care (which is the first chapter of the larger book, Culture Care.) It is also published by the Fujimura Institute and sells for just $5.99. It would make a nice small gift or conversation starter.

allure of gentleness.jpgThe Allure of Gentleness: Defending the Faith in the Manner of Jesus Dallas Willard (HarperOne) $26.99 This brand new book from the late Dallas Willard, philosopher, theologian, and spiritual guide, arrived today and it seems to be a perfect addition to the above trio of excellent titles. It makes the case, as you can see, that although the Christian faith is reasonable, and we can learn the art of thoughtful apologetics, the heart of winsome witness is — what a phrase! — “the allure of gentleness.”  (It reminds me of the phrase which became an early book of Brennan Manning, the “wisdom of accepted tenderness.”) 

I like Eugene Peterson’s comments, here: “I grew up in a Christian culture in which ‘defending the faith’ was carried out by using the Bible as a weapon. Anyone who challenged my faith was treated as an enemy. As an adult I discovered Dallas Willard. Unfailingly gentle and respectful, he transformed the apologetics of my generation as many of us “laid down our swords and shields.”  It is lovely to learn of another voice that is intellectually rigorous and yet humble. (Again, it was Francis Schaeffer who called love, after all, “the final apologetic.”)  

J.P. Moreland says,

I have never seen a book remotely like this. It was Willard’s habit to take an issue and cast it in a light that no one had thought of before; time after time, he does this here with key apologetical issues. And because he places apologetics against the backdrop of pastoral care, it makes it a practice everyone who loves people should master.  This is essential reading.


Of course we all need help understanding, and then sharing with our friends, neighbors, students, children, or curious colleagues, the best Biblical answers for questions about hell, the problem of evil, the nature of freedom, God’s relationship with Israel, God’s intentions for human history, the ways to know, and such. Mostly, though, the “wonder of Jesus.”  And we must do that by embodying, nurturing, the character of Jesus, which Willard describes as gentleness.  And certainly we need humility. I think it is fascinating that in one chapter he explains that we even need to refine our ideas in the process of living them out.  That is, our ideas are shaped by our discipleship; the Spirit reveals more as we are conformed more to the ways of Christ. 

Can the Christian faith — including the robust theology and philosophically-aware answers to tough questions reflected on here — really meet our deepest desires? Can we not only argue about truth, but show a gentle, even beautiful way of living? Can we show that our apologetics include this humble journey, these practices of “living and acting” with God?  I think this book looks just wonderful, accessible, covering tons of topics, and offering an impressive and even playful approach of that appeals to the head and the heart (and the hands!)  Rejoice!



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Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told by Scott Turansky & Joanne Miller AUTHOR APPEARANCE and BOOKNOTES SALE 20% OFF

We are hosting two authors at 7 PM  this Friday night, February 6th, for a talk about their books. We hope you saw the facebook events page we created for it as it gives the time and address and such.  If you live nearby we’d love for you to come to this Hearts & Minds event. (Or, even if know anyone who lives near us here in Central Pennsylvania, we’d love to have share this info with them.) We are excited about this evening with writers and parenting experts Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, authors of many parenting books and we are looking forward to celebrating the brand new release of Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told (Nelson; $16.99) which just came out a few days ago. 

Please join us at 7:00 over at the nearby Living Word Community Church on Route 24 in Red Lion at their lovely coffee bar, where we’ll hear thescott t and joanne m sitting.jpg authors, learn a bit about their philosophy of parenting, engage in some Q & A, and explore the subtitle of this new book, “A Christian Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told.”  We’ll have refreshments and a reception during which you can meet the authors and chat a bit, and, of course, get autographed books.

Thanks again to LWCC for partnering with us on this, and opening their very nice facility.  It’s going to be an inspiring, helpful program.  Do help us spread the word, if you can.

From the very beginning, our store has offered a wide selection of marriage, parenting, and family books, not to mention resources for pregnant moms and dads, books on childbirth, books on breast feeding, child health and so forth, representing not only our interest in these things — we used to host a home birthing class here at the shop — but also out of a very real conviction that books can help us be better spouses and parents. Most of us need a bit of help, don’t we?  We have spiritually-oriented devotionals for new moms, books for dads, blended families, single parenting, lots of books about raising teens, and more.  Our shelves here hold a a real variety of perspectives.  Besides some standard secular guides, we love Gary Thomas’sbook-stack-kids-4-225x300.jpg charming and brilliant Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls (Zondervan; $13.99), the gorgeously written The Mystery of Children: What Our Kids Teach Us about Childlike Faith by Mike Mason (Regent College Publishing; $19.95) and Hopes and Fears: Everyday Theology for New Parents and Other Tired, Anxious People by Bromleigh McCleneghan and Lee Hull Moses (Alban Institute; $17.00) which is written by two women who are mainline denominational pastors. We often suggest Parenting Is Your Highest Calling: And 8 Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt by the great writer Leslie Leyland Fields (Waterbrook; $14.99.)  Although it is a bit more theological, with serious cultural analysis, and mostly about the role of the local church, we adore Marva Dawn’s must-read Is It a Lost Cause?: Having the Heart of God for the Church’s Children (Eerdmans; $18.00.)  If you ever need help learning more of what is available, let us know.  If you want to bless moms and dads that you know with a book or two, I am confident they would appreciate it.  Anyway, books matter, and books about family life matter a lot.

Among those that we have routinely sold here have been the books by our friends Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, which is why we are so glad they are able to be with us this Friday night. We got to know of them through Joanne’s husband, Ed Miller, who for years worked for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Ed has picked up van loads of books from Hearts & Minds to sell to college students, has been a true encouragement to us and in our work, and he has invited me to speak to campus ministry leaders on more than one occasion. Ed loves books (as you can see in this delightful blog post  called “Books Are Wonderful and Fun!” where he kindly mentions Hearts & Minds.)  Yay.

Dr. Turansky and Miller are nearly unique among faith-based parenting authors, or so it seems to us. We appreciate a lot about their clear-headed books. Some are sooooo religious sounding and Biblically-based that they can hardly be appreciated by anyone other then the most conservative Christian.  Others seem to just adopt this or that worldly theory or notion, glossing it over with a bit of God-talk.  Some are a bit dense or dry, others nearly condescending. Some books in this field are heavy handed and too strict, and some seem so whimsical that they hardly offer any lasting change.  Turansky and Miller avoid nearly all of these missteps, and write clearly, faithfully, practically, with deep and radically Christian insight, without being overly simplistic or dripping with saccharine piety.  

This dynamic duo have other earnestly written guides, workbooks, and a very thorough website with videos and all kinds of ideas and options to apply their insights. We carry their workbooks and family devotional idea books and more,  but here are their key titles:


parenting is heart work.jpgTheir most core book, I think, is quintessentially Turansky/Miller, and is at the heart of their ministry, The National Center for Biblical Parenting. It is called — get this! — Parenting is Heart Work (Cook; $14.99).  As you might gather, it shows how the best parents are able not just to get kids to behave, or even succeed in exhibiting life skills, but to be people’s whose hearts are transformed. In a way, this raising the bar, deepening the task of parenting, by worrying less about outward appearances and compliance, and more about the inner dispositions (that’s sanctification for you theology geeks) of the child.  

And, of course (of course, I say with a sober roll of the eyes) this means that part of the task of parenting, if we are to hope for and work for heart change in the child, is to attend to the state of our own interior lives as adults.  If we want our children to honor us (think of that big ten commandment) we must honor them.  If we want our children to respect us, we must respect them.  This means we have to allow God’s Spirit to challenge and change us.  Parenting is, indeed, heart work — for us and our children.

They have two other fantastic books that we love to recommend that works out their basic perspective in two very specific areas, dealing with bad behavior, and dealing with anger.  What parent among us hasn’t shed tears and lost sleep about these family blow ups that happen to all of us, fallen people that we are? Who hasn’t wounded others, and who hasn’t been wounded by others, even those we love the most? What do we do about this hard stuff?  Turansky and Miller can help.

say.jpgSay Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes… in You and Your Kids Scott Turansky & Joanne Miller (Waterbrook) $14.99  We love this book, and it is such a refreshing approach.  Again, this is trying to help us cope with bad attitudes in the lives of our kids, but it does so in part by helping parents learn to honor their children. I know that my own bad attitudes have made thing worse, and the first time I read this I not only learned a bunch, but wished I had had it when my children were younger. It’s a great book that walks a nice balance between deep spiritual stuff and very practical ideas. 

One reviewer called it a “breakthrough” book in this field of family studies.  Almost everyone is glad for how very down to earth it is. Very, very good.

Good and Angry.jpgGood and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids! Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller (Waterbrook) $14.99  This book recognizes the very real emotions that parents feel and, as they say, it “taps into the constructive side of anger and teaches new strategies for addressing the things children do to drive parents crazy. It outlines seven routines to help children improve in these areas and, in the process, build both the parent’s and child’s relationship with God.” 

This stuff is theologically sound, spiritually alive, full of grace, and very, very practical.  No one book can solve every problem with anger and hostilities in the home, but I do think this is one of the very best resources that every parent should have at their fingertips. 


christian parenting handbook.jpgThe Christian Parenting Handbook: 50 Heart-Based Strategies for All the Stages of Your Child’s Life  Scott Turansky & Joanne Miller (Thomas Nelson Publishers) $16.99  We promoted this book last year and reviewed it at BookNotes. We said that we loved how it offers strategies and ideas for getting “to the heart of the matter.” We find that parents are hungry for good ideas, for guidance and techniques, even as they realize that techniques must be deep and wise, and not mere tricks or gimmicks. A nice thing about this handbook is that it does offer ideas for use with kids of all ages. It really is a thorough resource that can be helpful for many kinds of parents, and many kinds of children.


motivate - larger cover.jpgMotivate Your Child: A Christian Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told (Nelson) $16.99  As we said above, we are thrilled to carry this new book, which just released a few days ago. it is a solid, warm, helpful book, and is written with a calm and reassuring tone. All of their books are encouraging and clear — you can do this! — and they tell lots of stories from the many families they’ve helped, case studies, so to speak, which give the books are “real world” feel. This one, especially, includes lovely stories (some moving ones drawn especially from Scott’s counseling practice.)  This is not a lost cause!  Kids really can change “from the inside out.” We parents can learn a more gospel-centered approach, offering Biblical insight, opening doors for spiritual formation, and basic, old-fashioned common sense and maturity — in parents and kids.  Although this book title suggests it is about getting kids to do things without being told — and what parent doesn’t need some help with that? — it is, I believe, a book about more than just that.  In fact, they make important connections between a child who has internalized a desire to do the right thing (share a toy, be gracious in dealing with a sibling, doing her homework, helping with chores) and that child’s ability to have moral imagination, to be able to take stands on issues.  What kind of a kid stands up to bullies? What kind of a kid learns to pray for others? What kind of a kid begins to think about his or her future career in terms of vocation and calling? What does integrity come from?  This practical book about seemingly mundane things really does lay important groundwork for bigger, heavier matters, matters that last a lifetime.  It has to do with courage and character and virtue and wisdom and such. 

One of the features of Motivate Your Child is its emphasis on a structured a consistently experienced family time.  They offer several models or approaches, but the primary thing here is for families to take up their responsibility to teach their kids to walk in the ways of the Lord.  It is not firstly the church’s job to raise your children, it is not mostly the Sunday School teacher’s job to educate your kids in the truths of the Bible. Parents have to step up, make a commitment, and do the work to help their children grow in knowledge and faith.  They help motivate you to do this with their great ideas about the benefits of a weekly family fun time of spiritual growth.

There are very concrete things suggested here, but the bigger picture is about informing the child’s desires which they get at by way of talking about the conscience. They name four “promptings of the conscience” and teach how to coordinate your parenting to take advantage of them. They help children respond to mistakes instead of blaming, defending or justifying.  (As I read those portions, again, I felt like I, myself, continually need to work on this stuff.)  I’ve got some interior work to do.  Don’t we all?

Not to switch gears too quickly — okay, that’s what I’m going to do, quickly — I am also reading the brand newScary Close- Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy.jpg Donald Miller memoir, a story of a year in his life as he was thinking about getting engaged, and his realization (with the help of a stint at a counseling center, sort of a rehab for wounded people) about how he uses all kinds of outer skills and strategies to keep himself from being deeply known. Many of us do this, I think — put on an act for our public demeanor, but then forget to “drop the act” and end up with layers of false selves, performing, rather than “being.”  True intimacy, Miller says in the brilliant Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy (Nelson; $19.99) can come as we shed some of these acts, these false selves, our masks, the armor we use to protect ourselves from the vulnerability of being close and real with others. It’s a fun and funny book, with tons of great insight about knowing oneself and being in relationships. The touching forward by Bob Goff is almost worth the price of the whole book!

Here is a link to a youtube interview with Donald Miller about the new book. Check it out, and come on back here to place an order.

I am liking Scary Close quite a lot, and it has me thinking about how this full grown and very successful man had to relearn some hard stuff about relationships, and how this took some pretty intentional efforts at self-awareness, changing some habits, working (with God’s help, and some trusted friends) on some interior matters.  I will tell you more about it later, but it is a refreshing, clear, and moving tale about one man’s journey into being a better person.

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Which is, I suppose, what most self-help books are about: helping you become better.

But that is always related to your story, your issues, your perceptions of the world and what God is like and what God most wants.

Turansky and Miller know this: good parenting skills aren’t enough.  We must work to shape and nurture and develop our children into the mature and wise and virtuous people God wants them to be. Which is to say it is “heart work.”  And, as they make clear in Motivate Your Child, to be motivated to do the right thing isn’t natural or simple, but takes the extraordinary work of God, which comes best as we are engaged in faith development in response to God’s Word. If our life stories are to be fruitful and faithful, we have to find ourselves in God’s story, Christ’s redemption of the world.  So we have to find ways to offer spiritual training to our children that is creative, winsome, healthy and fun. This book will help motivate you to help change the way you parent, which could help change the way your family relates. It can help change the way your children live.

If you would like us to get autographed copies of any of their books for you, we can have them sign them on Friday night, and ship them to you next week.  Just let us know to whom you want them inscribed. They can just autograph them, or offer them to a particular person.  Just let us know what you prefer.motivate - larger cover.jpg



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                                      Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street  Dallastown, PA  17313     717-246-3333