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

My Photo
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.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Advent of Justice

Wednesday we spent all day packing and loading the van to get to Antiochian Village in Western PA for a book set up for a several day event with the Coalition for Christian Outreach. A few guys helped me load in about midnight, and I set up---with a little help from Tim B from Messiah, who was out there early--til about 6 am the next morning. Thursday and Friday brought plenty of good conversations, some hefty book sales, some significant reports of books used in ministry and good book clubs and Bible studies that we have resourced, and some fun, funny, times. While a couple of new parents on staff of the CCO browsed our book room, they left their babies in look-alike carriers in a row in front of the cash register, as I was wheeling and dealing, offering discounts and give-aways and such. Somebody quipped "And yes, today's special: with any hardback purchase you can have the baby of your choice!" It still cracks me up...

The wise and gentle and powerful African American preacher Anthony Carter, author of On Being Black and Reformed spoke, inviting CCO to dig deeper into their Calvinist roots, relying on God's sovereign grace and the creedal tradition of the Reformation in order to root well their equally important efforts to work on ethnic diversity, racial reconciliation and becoming advocates for social justice. Carter was too young to have worked with the civil rights movement, so is a new generation of black leader, and his trust in the providence of God and desire to glorify Christ was palpable. His impeccable theological standards made him a very, very compelling speaker as he invited us to learn or remember the hidden history of minorities within the dominant culture. Although passionate about preaching reconciliation, and doing God's work in God's ways, he advised that we allow God's Spirit to guide us into our own needed repentence before crusading on social issues. (That is a strategy, by the way, which, on the face of it, is nearly self evident; on the other hand, I detected a frustrating invidualism and pietism there that didn't sound like the broad and socially engaged Calvinism I know.) I got to do some book plugs and promoted the obvious--John Perkins, Vincent Harding, Martin Luther King, Carl Ellis and the like. Do you know Randy Woodley's Living in Color: Embracing God's Passion for Diversity? Or More Than Equals by Perkins & Rice? Or Barbara Salter McNeil's The Heart of Racial Justice? These are the kind of resources this CCO group uses. It is a serious privilege to hang out with those who have radically gospel-based theology and equally radical commitments to cultural diversity and racial justice.

Speaking of which: I did not stand up and shout about this small Advent meditation book and I should have; I can't believe I haven't blogged about it sooner. The Advent of Justice is always the holiday book we tout the most. It is thoroughly rooted in the longing for liberation described in the Bible during the period of exile of the Old Testament Hebrews, and works well with the social context of the seasonal readings from Isaiah and the prophets. It is therefore truly solid, liturgically and theologically, for the Advent season and not the least bit sentimental. (Okay, put some sweet instrumental CD like The Gift by Tingstadt and Rumble on if you want sentimental.) The four authors are all dear freinds, and among those whom I admire most: Brian Walsh, Sylvia Keesmaat, Mark Vander Vennan and Richard Middleton. They put these seasonal reflections together as a gift for the Citizens for Public Justice (a faith-based, progressive social ministry in Canada) a few years back and it has subsequently been re-issued each year by Dordt College Press. It is, I believe, the best and most Biblical Advent devotional I've ever used, and I dip into it each year. It reminds us that these religious holidays of ours can best be understood when framed by the socio-political understandings of the orginal. This book, Advent of Justice, does this with care and brillance.

Oh come, oh come Immanuel...yes, come Lord Jesus! This time of longing for Christ's regime can be deepened and more properly understood by using this brief, inexpensive devotional. It is not too late to order it.

On Being Black and Reformed Anthony Carter (Presbyterian & Reformed ) $9.99

Advent of Justice: A Book of Meditations Brian Walsh, Sylvia Keesmaat, Mark Vander Vennan, Richard Middleton with illustrations by Willam Hart (Dordt College Press) $6.95