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.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Divine Nobodies

Can God show up among ordinary folks, weirdos and losers? Can followers of Christ find Him and His ways more evidently in ordinary moments than in ecstatic worship and highly polished ministries? What might we learn from the life of those who are not part of the church, or who are outside, on the margins, maybe a bit odd? This is the question that young writer Jim Palmer sets out to discover, and writes about so well in his wonderful new book, Divine Nobodies: Shedding Religion to Find God (and the Unlikely People Who Help You.) Maybe I shouldn't say he "sets out to discover" this, as it seems to slowly creep up on him, moments of great grace amidst his foibles, serious failures and deep brokenness. He was given this insight, and he faithfully tells of his findings.

This memoir tells of Palmer's journey away from traditional evangelical faith, churchianity, his "got-God-in-his-pocket and a wonderful plan for his (oh so successful) life" charismatic worldview. After some very tough times, some serious re-questioning of his life as a big time mega-church pastor with all the right (if simplistic) answers, and a bit of a walk on the wild side, he finds a move towards wholeness that is truly wonderful. Wonder-full. The ups and downs, the authentic journey, the steps towards healing, the radical life following the way of Christ, the passion for God and his new freedom, all comes to him, mostly through a variety of encounters with the unlikely nobodies that populate his odd life.

From the Waffle House waitress to the blue-collar tire salesman, from the spiritual kids at a Montossori-like Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium* to a mystical Catholic monk that guides him on retreat; from a street-wise, rowdy drummer in a hard rock band to a dear friend who walked through unspeakable grief, each illumines a new truth, a particular insight, a step towards wholeness. Each encounter helps him piece his faith back together, invites him more deeply into Kingdom living, and challanges us to live into the mystery of authentic life with God in a seriously-troubled world.

Palmer is a funny writer--for good reason, Brian McLaren likens him to "the next Donald Miller"---but he is also full of good insight and a pretty hefty dose of pathos. This is one of the best books I've read this year---moving, interesting, clever and, yes, I had to wipe a few tears as I was drawn in the stories he shares.

Find God and Kingdom truths from a hard-core rap fan? A young girl with severe cerebral palsy? An abandoned kid in a group home? A politically-correct, liberal swimming instructor?
You bet. Each chapter stands alone, some are more serious than others (man, the chapter on his work in Thailand with International Justice Mission helping bust child sex traffickers was powerful) but all weave together to form a vision of life in a world were God works in mysterious ways. Or, maybe, and I guess this is the real point, in pretty ordinary ways.

It is a bit frustrating (as it is with much of the emergent conversation, it seems to me) that Palmer seems to suggest that this is a really new insight, something edgy. I guess there are some churches out there that never teach about God's common grace, that God shows up all over this big 'ol wonderful world, that the doctrine of creation is insightful for more than refuting evolutionists, that the arts matter, that the abused and hurting reveal Christ in special ways. For some of us, this is central, foundational, almost common sense stuff, and it is curious to read about it as if it is newly discovered. (Where has this guy lived for the last twenty-five years if this is that new?) And, then, having discovered common grace and seeing truths outside the institutional churches, do you really have to be so utterly unconnected to institutional churches, now that the mega-church thing has been shown to be wanting? (Surely there are ordinary congregations that are neither mega nor legalistic, that would be better than the no-church/house thing.)

But even for those of us who will not be surprised by this insight that God-shows-up ("playing in ten thousand places", as Gerard Manley Hopkins has taught us) it is really, really good---I mean really, really good!---to hear somebody say it, once again. Thanks, Jimbo. You are one of these unusual suspects that have helped me remember what it is all about.

Divine Nobodies: Shedding Religion to Find God (and the unlikely people who help you)
Jim Palmer (Word) $13.99

*anyone who works with young children, especially in religious education, will find that this one chapter is worth the price of the book. For a some-what similiar, brief essay telling of another such encounter, check out my good friend Denise Frame Harlan's blog (which features well-written tales of the splendor of the ordinary). This post is called Weather Report: Spiral of Light which describes a gentle experience with children in an Advent candle thing.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Preaching & Pastoring: A Provisional Miscellany

I guess it would be overstating it to say it is a Christmas present to our faithful readers---yes, it really would be an overstatement. But you still might make you jolly to know that I've done a new, long bibliography over at the website. You may recall that I (used to) do a monthly Book Review Article, and those longer reviews are all archived.

Although I've skipped doing them this fall, I've just posted one for November. October and December ones may follow soon (I hope) and then, early in January, we will post the "Hearts & Mind Best of the Year list", which will be quirky, diverse, interesting and a list of great quality. We got great feedback from last years, so we hope to have the drum roll and awards presentation for '06 within a few weeks. But I'm ahead of myself.

For Christmas (after the O Holy Night clip I posted Christmas Eve) please enjoy the Hearts & Minds website Monthly Book Review, which is a two-fer. One is a list of recommendations on pastoral leadership, the next is one on preaching. I list some really great books, and describe them in ways that I hope is enticing. Maybe you could pass the list around to those who might find it useful. (That would be a Christmas gift to us, sharing our efforts with others.)

Please click here or visit www.heartsandmindsbooks.com. Thanks.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Two Songs for Christmas

You may recall that a few months ago we shared our fondness for the new TV show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I think we were pushing lute recordings, actually, and it came up.

I've been waiting for Christmas Eve to link you to a clip from that show. It shows one of the most beautiful renditions of O Holy Night that I've ever heard. In the show, homeless musicians from New Orleans are hanging around Hollywood and studio locals (like Kevin Eubanks, who makes a cameo appearance) are calling in sick, and allowing these refugee players to get a gig and a paycheck. The guys at the Studio 60 show get 'em all to play together at their Christmas show. The horn player--who, in fact, really is a young trumpet player from N.O.--- shows some wild chops earlier in the show, but this Christmas piece is slow, gentle and very moving. The real photos of the on-going tragedy of New Orleans in the background give it an poignancy that is stunning.

Do you know the line in that song about breaking the chains of oppression---shades of Luke 4!---because "the slaves are our brothers."? What a song! Once at the NBC site, click on the "Watch Video" button for the "Musical Christmas tribute to the City of New Orleans." It is a wonderous few minutes.

And, while we are at it, click here for a free Christmas tune written by our friend, former VOL man, Bill Mallonee. His last album, Victory Garden gets my vote for one of the years top two or three releases, and we carry it, too, of course. This holiday song ("Every Father Knows") is quitessential Americana folksy rocker Bill, and works on many levels. He swipes a line from T.S. Eliott, too.

Merry Christmas, all.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Blessed Are the Uncool

I don't know about you, but I have a deceidedly love/hate relationship with the Christmas season. I suppose it isn't all that profound---isn't it obvious?---that our culture has nearly ruined Christmas with the commercialization and fashion and sex and Santa stuff. Yet, I love it. Yep, I work in retail, I enjoy watching our staff "wait on" customers and ring in sales. I believe in our products (well, most of them, anyway) and I think shopping can be an act of blessing, a meaningful service, not just a mindless ritual or capitulation to crass consumerism. Still, I get really, really sad at the mall, perplexed by the lostness of our world and feeling very lonely. Even as deeply orthodox truths are sung in Christmas carols (there is sometimes better theology in the mall's muzak than in some churches) the whole busy season zooms by in a blur. So, I'm perplexed and sad, even though I love all the holiday stuff. I get all sentimental even listening to "I'll Be Home For Christmas"....and we watch the corny Christmas movies, too. I love Elf and The Santa Clause and the like. I love our big Christmas tree, even as I worry a bit about Jesus and his call to serve the poor. I know I don't live as simply as I once aspired to. The whole X-mas vibe, people talking about vacations and parties and the lovely decorations everywhere just makes me feel all this stuff very deeply.

And, so, I have a love-hate relationship with that new aesthetic that is all over the tube; have you seen the oh-so-cool Target ads, the "Love-Peace & Gap" ads, these ads with Moby-esque soundtracks? Man. Everything is so detached and cool and ironic and weird in a hip kind of way.

Blessed Are the Uncool: Living Authentically in a World of Show by Paul Grant (IVP; $13.00) may be the most important book of the season because it challanges us to think about how badly we desire to be cool. And I hardly need to mention the ironies of this; a very cool book, laden with hipster allusions and quotes from chic sociologists who write books with titles like Cool Rules: Anatomy of an Attitude and Hip: The History (both very good books that we stock, by the way) calling us away from inauthenticity and the shallowness of coolness. How cool is that?

I suspect as I spend more time with this book, it will move me deeply, and I will try to take to heart Grant's call to uncoolness. I sometimes make fun of myself as a bit of a bookish geek, but I'd wonder if it is just pride--- playing dumb with tongue in cheek to impress the crowd. I wonder if this book will convict me. I am sure it will be insightful, both as cultural criticism and as personal spiritual formation. From dipping in to it here and there, I can assure you it is very smart, and very well written, and deeply faithful. That the author grew up (son of a missionary family in Europe) in a multi-ethnic setting, and has a serious interest in hip-hop culture (how many other books written by white evangelicals quote Fifty Cent or bell hooks?) makes this exceptional. There is an uncool website, too, and blogs for each of the chapters. Paul Grant hopes to have readers share their stories and discuss all matters of uncoolness. Check it out at uncoolbook.blogspot

Know anybody that is cool enough to want to read about it? Know anybody whose sunglasses mask an inner shame, whose preformance rebellion is rooted less in serious cultural witness and more about posturing? Know anybody who desires to be set free from this odd coping mechanism and wants live authentically as God sees us and as God call us to be? This could be a very rare gift, an invitation to break out of the vexations we have about Christmas, the "merchants of cool" and find ourselves free enough to live into a lifestyle of real compassion, pathos and care. Now that would be cool!

And, if this rings a bit shallow to you, perhaps you need this one: Seeing Through Cynicism: A Reconsideration of the Power of Suspicion by Dick Keyes (IVP: $16.00.) (Check out Dick's work at the L'Abri in Massachusetts, here.) Although I hope to review it more substantially later, this brillant book, on a topic about which little is written, will surely be on our "best of the year" list, and it may be just the thing for some of you out there. Moi? you ask. If the shoe fits, buy the book. My friend Steve Garber has a great blurb on the back, so cool or uncool, this book is really a very important contribution.

Merry Christmas.

Blessed Are the Uncool: Living Authentically in a World of Show
Paul Grant (IVP) $13.00
Seeing Through Cynicism: A Reconsideration of the Power of Suspicion
Dick Keyes (IVP) $16.00

Monday, December 18, 2006

Three great books on Mary

Yesterday, the Revised Common Lectionary gave us texts about Mary. Even those who don't preach from the lectionary may have preached on the classic, seasonal stories of Mary's pregnancy; hopefully, some of us have pondered the upside-down values of the Magnificant. I would guess that some of our BookNotes readers sung or listened to Mary Did You Know, a song that I always find very moving.

To supplement your Christmas study, and to celebrate a renewed interest in Mary coming from evangelicals---surely a good sign---I thought I'd announce three new books that have released this season on the virgin. That they all have very lovely covers is nice, too. Perhaps just seeing them will bless you.

The Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christains Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus (Paraclete Press; $19.95) is the latest by one of the fastest rising stars in New Testament scholarship these days, Scot McKnight. This nice hardcover was published by the same house that gave us The Jesus Creed, a much-discussed McKnight book. This well-written volume has very great endorsements by Ben Witherington, Lynne Hybels, Nancy Ortberg, among others. H&M friend Joseph Modica (Chaplain at Eastern University) cheerfully says, "I'll never be able to look at that powder blue Mary figurine in the Christmas nativity scene the same way again."

Strange Heaven: The Virgin Mary as Woman, Mother, Disciple and Advocate Jon M. Sweeney (Paraclete) $23.95 Sweeney is another author to watch, one who can craft fine prose and who has given us some very nice books in the past few years. Sweeney's own spiritual memoir (Born Again and Again) was one of our favorites, and he has gone on to do two fine books on Francis and another on the recent trend of Protestants to be interested in Roman Catholic saints.) Strange Heaven invites us to meditate on the Divine feminine, and reminds us that the best devotional literature is often mysterious and deep. Very interesting.

Mary for Evangelicals: Toward an Understanding of the Mother of Our Lord Tim Perry (IVP) $24.00 Here is a serious book, perhaps the most thorough study of Mary from a Protestant persepctive that I know of. With remarkable endorsements by scholars as diverse as Marva Dawn and Chris Hall, Beverly Roberts Gaventa and Frederica Mathewes-Green, this is a broad and studious work. The book is divided into three substantial sections, Mary in Holy Scripture, Mary in the History of Christian Thought and Toward an Evangelical Mariology. What a spectacular book this is!

The back cover of Sweeney's book declares that "The virgin Mary ignites the human imagination more than any other woman in history." I am not sure if that is so, but I can't think of a comparable woman. And it makes sense; the Biblical promise is that all generations will call her blessed. Perhaps it would be wise to consider a study of her this year. These books would surely be a good place to start.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

marriage books make great gifts

I get requests of all sorts---what a privelege when someone trusts us enough to ask for suggested books on (as we answered today) sexuality; on preaching; on excellent practices of clergy; on recommendations for someone in business; on eating disorders. Thanks for asking, thanks for the trust; books can really help others and it is a privelege to be in this work. And thanks for the business. Beats selling The Christmas Shoes if you know what I mean...

One e-mail friend wanted to get his soon-to-be-married buddy a marriage devotional. I thought you might like to see my brief, e-mailed response. Of course there are oodles of other good books on marriage, and several more we would recommend for others, in other situations. For this customer, these seemed right. Maybe you can hum Santa Baby or something and think about your loved one. Call us quick.

Thanks for writing. It is always good to hear from you. Glad you are giving a book as a gift---way to go! And thanks for asking for our input. Here's the thing about marriage devotionals. Most are fairly shallow, it seems to me. If a couple wants to read a book together about marriage, there are more useful and wiser ones than the devotionals. Or, if they want a devotional, there are better and more mature ones than the marriage ones. So I can recommend a few, but wasn't sure that was really what you wanted. So I thought I'd just list a couple of wonderful books on marriage that would make sweet gifts. We gift wrap, too, you know. Let us know what you think.

As For Me and My House: Crafting Your Marriage to Last Walter Wangerin (Nelson Publishing) $13.99 This really is one of our all time favorites! Well written, very moving, this pastor tells of his own friendship with his wife, his need for improved communication, etc. Beautifully written, insightful, wise. Highly recommended.

The Mystery of Marriage by Mike Mason (Multnomah) $12.99 This is another absolute favorite that we always recommend. Again, it isn't just a practical guide, but it is written out of longing to think about marriage spiritually. Mason was quite content being a solitary guy, rather deep and contemplative (almost like a monk!) Still, he was called to marriage, and he wrote this wondrous, reflective meditation on the deeper meaning of it all. Sweet. The great Reformed writer J.I. Packer, who I know you like, wrote the forward, highly commending it! Nothing like it!

Each for the Other: Marriage as it's Meant to Be Bryan Chapell (Baker) $12.99 Finally out in paperback, Chapell is a great communicator, well known as the president of Covenant Theological Seminary (PCA.) His really is a marvelous treatment, combining solid Biblical teaching and practical instruction. There is a chapter just for husbands, another just for wives, but most of it is essential reading for all.

Intimate Mystery: Creating Strength and Beauty in Your Marriage Tremper Longman & Dan Allandar (IVP) $15.00 This is a great study, really nicely done, by these two guys who were influenced (every early one) by the CCO. Longman is a great Bible scholar, Allandar and solid Christian psychologist. There are study guides, a DVD, and it is excellent for couples or for small groups. The book stands alone, though, and is very insightful, with their profound worldview pretty evident, making this really nice.

Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts Les & Leslie Parrott (Zondervan) $19.99 This is perfect not only for pre-marital folks but for anybody in their first few years of marriage. Exceptionally practical, really clear psychological principles, good inventories to help you know yourself, your style of relating, etc. There is a workbook just for men, another just for wives. Nice but it isn't terribly Biblical or theological.

Devotions for Sacred Marriage Gary Thomas (Zondervan) $14.99 This is a great devotional, designed to supplement his book, Sacred Marriage. Thomas is a great writer, rather contemplative, but happily quite practical. We like his book a lot (he has one called Sacred Parenting, too, and a devotional to go with that, as well) and we are impressed with his solid, theological underpinnings. Good stuff!

The Love List Les and Leslie Parrott (Zondervan) $14.99 This is very cool: something that they recommend you do as a couple once a year; something once a month; something once a week; something once a day. I hate easily 1-2-3-step plans, but this is just too nice not to mention. Delightful and, frankly, pretty smart.

Falling into Love: How the Average Guy Got the Girl of His Dreams Ned Erickson (Relevant Books) $11.99 A young a hip story of a romance and marriage. This isn't as made-in-heaven glory story, but it isn't a tragic story of break-up and heartache, either. It is just a funny, ordinary, goofy memoir of a real couple, who really found God's help to stick together through thick, thin and all manner of weirdness. Not the most inspirational theological work, but it is solid, Christian discipleship, making do, in Christ, with our real-world selves. Thanks be for fun books like this.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Musical Tour of Daily Readings for Advent

I thought I would tell of another Advent devotional. These days, it seems, more and more churches have allowed contemporary praise music to supplant liturgically sound Advent and Christmas carols. Actually, this isn't as you might at first think; many of the edgier and contemporary services actually do shape their music around Advent themes. (Tip of the hat to my old bud Gordon Carpenter, a really thoughtful contemporary music leader, for instance!) Still, I know some churches that just have given up on the carols, rich as they are. And don't get me started---please, don't get me started--on melodramatic bum, bum, ba, baaaump! (ding!)---overly-orchestrated and poorly written Christmas cantatas.

And so, the urgency of tonight's post on another Advent devotional book. O Come Emmanuel: A Musical Tour of Daily Readings for Advent and Christmas by Gordon Giles (Paraclete Press; $14.95) is a sweet and intelligent collection of well-crafted reflections inspired by the texts of great, great seasonal songs. From Come Thou Redeemer of the Earth to People Look East, to the standards such as Hark the Herald Angles Sing, (so cogently written by Charles Wesley & George Whitefield) and O Come, O Come Immanuel and the like, this guide is wonderful in its diversity. How great is a devotional that includes powerful essays on In the Bleak Mid-Winter to Good King Wenceslas, the work of Vaughan Williams and the music of Taize? I think it would enhance anyone's Advent and Christmas season, and would make a wonderful gift.

Know any choir members, directors, musicians or writers? Anyone who cares about the poetry of church history? Who loves thinking theologically about music (or would benefit from a chance to do so?) You know, this is a season when discussions of Christian faith and theology are publically sanctioned, and, with the holidays upon us, it is appropriate now in a way it rarely is, to give gifts of religious books. Why not take advantage of this seasonal open door and share some thoughtful Christian literature with a colleague or neighbor or friend? They just might appreciate it. Check out O Come Emmanuel by Anglican priest, vicor, muscian and philosopher, Gordon Giles, well- published by our friends at Paraclete. Very nicely done.

25% off
O Come Emmanuel
now only $11.25
read@heartsandmindsbooks.com or call 717.246.3333

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Son of the Most High

Our Sunday school class is being treated to a wonderful series on Messiah by the spectacular Christian composer, George Frederick Handel. Our teacher, a thoughtful Bible student and fine musician herself, is being guided by the excellent Kerygma curriculum. (Their studies are thoughtfully designed from Presbyterian folks in the PC(USA) and are very good.) We're thinking about the Biblical basis of these awesome pieces, and the powerful way GFH wove them together into an important telling of the story of Israel and her savior, who released her from exile and secured not only her rescue, but the restoration of all things. Let Heaven and Nature sing, indeed.

I will never forget the first time I heard Al Wolters (Creation Regained) describe the vast, vast implications of that one single line from the carol Joy To The World that tells of God's healing restoration which brings blessing "far as the curse is found." (Ahh, where is sin's curse? Everywhere! Where does God's Kingdom's impact extend? Everywhere!) For that reason alone, I add in a quick aside, it is worth having Michael D. Williams' book on your shelf. It is a splendid, innovative, overview of the history of redemption and the unfolding drama of the Biblical story, nicely entitled Far As The Curse Is Found: The Covanant Story of Redemption released this past year by Presbyterian & Reformed; $17.99. What's not to love about a book called that? A brand new work with a similiar approach deserves a full review, but I can at least announce it here: the big, thick magnum opus of Christopher J. H. Wright has been released by IVP, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible's Grand Narrative ($38.00.) It will be much discussed, I'm sure.

But back to Handel. If you would like to plumb the depths of these wonderous texts a bit, consider this new Advent devotional, Reflections of Messiah: Contemporary Advent Meditations Inspired by Handel by Jim Melchiorre (Upper Room; $12.00.) This United Methodist leader has a good eye for a good story. He doesn't tell us much about Messiah, and it spends little time reflecting on the intentions of Handel or his writer---who took the texts from the Book of Common Prayer, mostly. It is fiesty, active, thought-provoking. Good discussion questions, too, inviting us to take these texts seriously, and to allow them to propel us to mission.

My big suggestion, though, I save for the end. Son of the Most High is a musical recording that takes these same classic Biblical texts and makes new, contemporary songs of them. Part of the Biblical paraphrase project called "The Voice" (I've commended McLaren's re-write of Acts called The Dust OffTheir Feet, and am excited to see the forthcoming Lauren Winner piece which translates Matthew) this acoustic-driven, singer/songwriter collection is fabulous. It isn't a "young Messiah" type effort and makes no pretense to update Handel. It does work with the same matieral, though. With contributions by Cademon Call's Andrew Osenga, female vocalist Kendall Payne, worship-leading hipsters Don & Lori Chaffer, and other great players (like Steven Delopoulos and Andrew Peterson) this cool worship album is wonderful for Advent. And for those drinking in the Messiah texts, from Mr. Handel or Jim Melchiorre, it is an extra special soundtrack. Go here for more.

Son of the Most High
regularly priced

now only
717.246.3333 or read@heartsandmindsbooks.com

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

new N.T. Wright

Evil and the Justice of God is the long-awaited, brief hardback published by InterVarsity Press ($18.00), a book that surely will be on many critics "best of" lists here at the end of the year. Os Guinness has written, I might remind you, one of the best recent books on the question of suffering, the problem of evil and the call to not only understand evil from within a profoundly Biblical worldview, but to use that framework as the basis for appropriate, faithful, robust and hopeful resistance to evil. I must say that my largest disappointment with the new N.T. Wright is that is doesn't cite Unspeakable: Facing Up To The Challenge of Evil, Dr. Guinness' elequant and thoughtful apologetic. That aside, it is otherwise fabulous and very, very urgent.

The reason for the oversight, I suppose, is that Wright is a Biblical scholar and uses a more direct interaction with Biblical texts and themes. Guinness is a Christian sociologist, popularizer of the best philosphy and literary works, and, while he may not want this term applied to him, is the quintessential "public intellectual." Wright, although himself quite culturally savvy, is an ordained Anglican priest, a churchman, a bishop and former canon theologian at Westminister Abby, so brings his theological and Scriptural studies focus to the task. Within the guild of New Testament scholars, N.T. is a large presence, and very well-respected (if often debated from those who find him too evangelical, on the one hand, and those who find him too liberal, on the other. Go figure.)

And so, his new book looks at the problem of evil within creation, the overall Biblical drama, and the responsibilities we have to be fully human in the face of tragic suffering. He offers a compelling call to live into the "new heavens and new Earth" even as we await Christ making "all things new." It is both insightful and inspiring.

With excellent endorsements on the back from various sources---for instance, Yale's Lamin Sanneh and Talbot's J.P. Moreland--- one can see the breadth of respect and Wright's influence in various streams within the church of today. When perhaps the best-read Christian leader in North America, Books & Culture editor John Wilson, says "This is a book that every thoughtful Christian should read" we should take notice.

Also, this month, Baker books published a small hardback by N.T. Wright on the debates about New Testament documents, DaVinci Code kind of questions, formulated around the publication of the recent so-called Gospel of Judas. Entitled Judas and the Gospel of Jesus: Have We Missed the Truth About Christianity? (Baker; $18.95) this is a balanced and reasonable look into the reliability of recent media claims about the gospels and these pseudo-gospels that have been so discussed in recent years. It was just a few months ago that the Judas document was on the cover of Time and I am sure that we will be hearing more of these pre-gnostic accounts of an less than Divine and less than human Christ. Not bad holiday reading, come to think of it, Wright on the proper take on the person of the Babe of Bethlehem.



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