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.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Joy at Work

In my Labor Day post I criticized the dualism that fails to adequately honor ordinary jobs. I invited folks to take seriously a few previous posts on calling and vocation. I offered a really great link (if I do say so myself) to a feature of our website that lists entry-level books on integrating faith and various careers, academic disciplines and professional areas---from film studies to economics, science to urban affairs, special ed to politics. I suggested a project of getting some of these kinds of resources into the hands of pastors (who can tell their flocks) campus ministry organizations and workworld study groups. I hope you liked our annotations in "Books By Vocation."

Perhaps, though, I got the proverbial cart before the horse. (Can you use such a metaphor in cyberspace?) Rather than jump from the high notions of calling and vocation a few days back to concrete jobs and career choices, I should have offered some more general books on a uniquely Christian view of work. Actually, that bibliography does have some listed, like Your Work Matters To God by Doug Sherman & William Hendricks (NavPress; $15.00) and Loving Monday by John Beckett (IVP; $12.00.)

Here are a few newer ones:

The Other Six Days: Vocation, Work, Ministry in Biblical Perspective R. Paul Stevens (Eerdmans) $25.00 This is a very, very thorough and mature study; Stevens teaches Marketplace Theology at Regent College in B.C. and knows more than just about anybody about the spirituality of the ordinary and the mission of the laity in the workworld.

Work & Leisure in The Life of a Christian (Burlington Reformed Study Centre) $7.95 This slim little volume includes fabulous but brief essays by the extraordinary Gideon Strauss (of the Christian Labour Association of Canada and the brillant and innovative Work Research Foundation) and his good colleague, the down-to-Earth and amazingly thoughtful Ray Penning. Then these guys are treated to a robust feedback/response panel--these are obviously talks from some conference or retreat and bear that tone. The transcribed dialogue portions, too, are very interesting---don't skip them! These conversations are useful as they offer wise, foundational thinking about the meaning of work, the curse, the implications of a redemtively Christian worldview, and not just for work, but also for rest and leisure.

I would suggest that no one in North America has done as solid and sustained thinking on these things over recent decades as the CLAC and it is a delight to announce this rare little book. Packed with workworld insight from the revival of Dutch neo-Calvinism that has always affirmed the layperson's calling into the sphere of labor.

Joy at Work: A Revolutionary Approach to Fun on the Job Dennis Bakke (PVG) $24.95 It isn't every book that bears an endorsing blurb by Jack Kemp, Peter Block, and Bill Clinton! Bakke presented some of this unique material at the Pittsburgh Jubilee conference a few years back; he is renowned as an innovative Christian leader in international energy work and hugely important in philantrophy. His brother, Ray, you may know for his considerable work and writing in urban ministy. This is an innovative and exciting book which, while profoundly meaningful, doesn't come across like a Biblically-oriented "Christian" book. Use it in your workplace!

Blue Collar Jesus: How Christianity Supports Worker's Rights Darren Cushman Wood (Seven Locks Press) $14.95 You're not going to find this just anywhere, either, and it is an important and moving call for workplace justice and concern for the underpaid and underemployed. The author is an esteemed United Methodist pastor and theologian and professor of labor studies.

Business as a Calling: Work and the Examined Life Michael Novak (Free Press) $25.95 For the thoughtful executive, or deeper reader of business literature, this may be the best of its kind. Magnificantly thoughtful by an astute, conservative Catholic.

The 9 to 5 Window: How Faith Can Transform the Workplace Os Hillman (Regal) $19.99 This book may not be as sharp as some, but it is energetic and passionate for what God can do as people serve Christ at the job site. The cover art is nearly worth the price of the book---what a treat to see a stethoscope, wooden spoon, fountain pen, adjustable wrench and paintbrush all lined up, clean as a whistle. This book has a strong and specifically charismatic bent, with some stuff on spiritual warfare, miracles and Godly impact on entire cities through spiritual transformation of institutions of commerce.

*Do check out these websites; if you are not familiar with this Christian effort to offer distinctive "in the world but not of it" policies and alternative approaches, you will be amazed. What a testimony to God's agents working thoughtfully and seriously about ways to offer insight and healing to a broken culture. Kudos and praises. Check 'em out. I think, too, it will help you understand Hearts & Minds a tiny bit better---CLAC was a huge inspiration to me in my college years as I heard for the first time about the Lordship of Christ over society, culture, and spheres of life like business, art, politics and education, all newly approached through the reformation of scholarship. From the CCO's Jubilee conference to our own sense of calling as booksellers, this structural witness, which is neither conservative nor liberal, has been very, very influential. I only wish our we here at the bookstore could keep up with the remarkable work they've done over the decades. Sometimes it is all I can do to empty the trash. These books, though, are a good step in the right direction. Call us or send us an email. Or order, here.