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.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Super Bowl Free Book contest

I wanted to post this days ago, but my youngest daughter---Marissa, age 13---was in the hospital. She has had chronic pain issues for a couple of years now, and this latest episode was a hard one. So I got behind in the blogging plans.

Still, here's our offer. It's gonna be fun, and it gives us an excuse to give away a free book or two. My good bud Sam Van Eman has written (as I hope you know by now since I have cited it here, and named it in my December Best Books of the Year column at our website) the great little guide to cultural discernment, On Earth As It Is In Advertising: Moving From Commercial Hype to Gospel Hope (Brazos Press; $14.99.) In it he not only affirms God's good gift of stuff, and the artistic and human qualities of good and wholesome advertising of said stuff (this is a good world, after all), but he also goes after the ubiquitous commercialization of everything and how advertising can be deforming. He explores the dangers of consumerism and helps us "see through" the assumptions and values in typical advertising. Crass materialism, though, is just the tip of the iceberg---Sam helps us discern other values and worldviews that are implicit in the stories advertising tells. He gives spiritually-shaped insight into how to critique the messages found in ads and invites communal discussion about how to have a Christian worldview solid enough to not only understand the deeper views that come through the ads but how to resist them. It is a book that we all---unless you live in a cave--really need. And we really need it this month.

Over the next week, offices, dorms and dinner tables will be full of talk about which Super Bowl ads were most enjoyable, clever, fun. Last year we even went to websites and reviewed some of them as we talked about them as a family. I must say, though, that as much as we are committed to an "in the world but not of it" sense of righteous cultural engagement, we didn't get very far in discerning the deepest and most implicit ideologies of the best ads. We complimented the talent of the best, and moaned through those with explicit tackiness, sexism or crass vibes of hedonism. But the deep and discerning wisdom that Sam invites would have come in handy last year. Even if we are aware of this stuff, it is amazing how seductive these great ads can be in shaping our view of life, and our view of ourselves, our needs, our identity.

AND SO: we announce the first (and maybe last) Hearts & Minds Super Bowl Ad Discernment Contest. Write and post a brief (please!) paragraph or two offering some sort of ideological critique and cultural discernment as you "read" the ads offered during the Super Bowl today. The one or two (if more than two participate) that seem to show the kind of insight and evaluation that Sam commends will get a free copy of his book. We will send it out next week, no strings attached. If you've got it already, you can (obviously) give it away to someone who needs it. All of us live in this media-drenched, commercialized and global economy. How can we live up to our high calling in Christ to be people who are prophetic and resistant to the ways of the world? How can we move "from comercial hype to gospel hope"? Maybe On Earth As It Is In Advertising can help. Get your free one by offering your take--- not necessarily on your favorite ad, but the one you are best able to evaluate and offer some faith-based cultural criticism about. Have fun. We're eager to see if anybody posts anything. The free book awaits.