Hearts & Minds BookNotes

annotations, blurbs and ruminations

to enlarge the heart & stimulate the mind

and to happily generate mail order business for Hearts & Minds bookstore

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Location: Dallastown, PA

My lovely wife Beth and I own and operate--proprietors makes us sound more classy than we really are--a cluttered, diverse and independent bookstore in Central Pennsylvania. After well over 20 years, we are still not sure what to say when people ask if our shop is a "Christian bookstore." I do a monthly book review column over at our website; we hope that these new blogged bits will afford friends and customers the chance to see other books I happen to be reading, wishing to read, pretending that I read or at least believe that others should, if not read, know about. We have three children, attend a Presbyterian church in York, PA and have no hobbies.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

There we go.

Leonard Sweet once quipped that Luther's famous "Here I Stand" may have worked well for the start of the modern world, but in the fast-paced, communal, liquid world of postmodernity, faith's missional cry should be "There We Go!" Well, I don't know about that; Len also taught us to look for loopy self-contradictory paradoxes as a sign of postmodernism. So I want it both ways: Here I Stand. Right here in the blogosphere, with God as my witness, I can do no other. And, yes, There We Go.

Anyway, in this setting at least, where is here, really? Maybe it is more there than anywhere. And I never could have gotten (t)here in blogland without the inspiration of remarkably wise and good bloggers like intensely smart Gideon Strauss and David Wayne, the rightfully well-read Jolly Blogger and many of the writers whose links they provide in their respective circle o blog-friends. So it is definitly a we thing here. Even if I wished to mess around at what they do so well, it simply wouldn't have happened if not for the prodding and cyber-savvy help of one Scott Calgaro, of Beaver Falls, PA, King of the stellar Jubilee conference. Scott--ever the neo-Calvinist Kingdom visionary with a bookish past--insists that this will help us sell mail-order books. That is to say, blogging will help us accomplish our God-given vocation, do our thing, "serve the Lord, serve the People" as we used to say in our hippie days. So, indeed, there you have it: There. We. Go. It is definitely not Kansas for me anymore, now that I am doing this. And it hopefully will remain a "we" as I am supported by those friends foolish enough to get me blogging in the first place. It surely seems like less "standing" and more "going." So Sweet's quip feels right.

Now that I've expired my allotment of cheap cliches for the evening, I will in all seriousness say that I am grateful to those bloggers I do occasionally read like Derek at Aslan is on the Move* (he too often says nice things about me) and Dick at Viewpoint (I too often say bad things about him) who encouraged me to start this up. May I be half as elequant as they. And very serious props to Scott. And, yes, to Sweet, who, in what seems like another life, re-lit my fire for culturally relevant mission, an appreciation of the forms of our fluid new hot-wired culture, and the joy and usefulness of playfully clever sloganeering. I suppose he was the first blogger I knew (before anybody called it that) and certainly remains the master of the clever turn of a phrase, soli deo gloria, right t/here in cyber-space. We are glad for books like his that keep us thinking and imagining...

There we go.

Next time, perhaps I'll comment a bit more on my latest massive book review, posted at the H&M website (www.heartsandmindsbooks.com). It tells of my journey into social activism at the ripe young age of teenish and how the insights about structural change, institutional reform and social justice catapulted me into new views and, truth be told, nearly a new life. Decades later, I'm trying to make a living telling others about books to accomplish just that. We praise God for His faithfulness, for mainstay books we can sell and still sleep at night, written by the likes of Ron Sider, whose new edition of Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger is lauded at my column, and for the common grace of God who allows for events like Live 8, despite what the nay-sayers say. (In my review, by the way, I also describe a fabulously interesting recent book by a pro-market economist that follows her T-shirt being made and sold all over the world, which gives good light into the trade and aid stuff we've heard about lately in a very balanced, careful way.) By the way, did anybody see the Cockburn set during the Canadian 8 show? More on that, later, too. Thanks for dropping by. Send me an email if you'd like.

*please check Derek's blog in mid-July. He just returned from doing tsnumi relief in a very hard hit part of Thailand and his reflections are well-written, very illuminating and honestly mature. Don't miss it!