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, April 25, 2007

Best Things in Life, The Brothers K and Christian poetry

A group of high school students meets here every week and over cookies and exotic teas we talk philosphy. A diverse range of worldviews and philosophical opinion are represented, and it isn't a group designed for Christians. Several of the students have taken an introduction to philosophy class at the local high school, and we get together to keep at it. It is informal and fun. We have been reading----sometimes out loud for effect---the great little book by Peter Kreeft, The Best Things in Life where a Socrates character comes to a modern college and asks good questions of Peter Pragmo and Felcia Flake. We don't know that much about Plato, and I get my digs at dualism in when I can, but, mostly, we've been impressed with Socrates willingness to ask everybody the question of why they do what they do, why they believe as they do, and what reality or truthfulness they base their views upon, and what "ends" they most hope for.

Any of Kreeft's books are well worth reading, and several are ideal for smart, young folks, so we commend them---The Journey is a walk through history where the seeker meets a variety of thinkers, each who offer him yet another piece of the puzzle of forming a coherent worldview. Between Heaven and Hell is a mythical, afterlife dialogue between three fellas that all died on the same day (yes, this part is true, as most BookNote readers will know): John F. Kennedy, Aldous Huxley, and C.S. Lewis. In Kreeft's fun, fair hands, the three---an American humanist, a new agey Pantheist, and a classical Christian--wonder, first off, where the, uh, heck, they are.

Last night, though, we had some special guests. A local philosophy prof and a well-loved English teacher from the high school came to help us through "The Grand Inquisitor" (here for Wikipedia) that intense chapter, a prose-poem, from Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamozov. We had a long and wide-ranging discussion, with many of us wishing we were better read, in philosophy, literature, and, yes, poetry. Although there was not a consensus on that, despite the passionate cheerleading for poetry voiced by the lit teacher.

And so, today, in my in-box (and I hope in some of yours) came the weekly Trinity Forum on-line e-zine, Implications. There was a marvelous, marvelous piece by T.M. Moore on why the followers of Jesus should care about the "second sight" we can nurture by being poetry-lovers. He makes a theological and practical case for reading poetry, and offers three lovely meditations on three good ones (by Gerard Manley Hopkins, Denise Levertov, and Wendell Berry.) Please click here to read this wonderful essay "The World in a Ray of Sun: Poetry as Spiritual Discipline" by T. M. Moore. The most recent book of his that I have read, by the way, published by Presbyterian & Reformed, is a great study of creation, Consider the Lilies: A Plea for Creational Theology.

Moore recommends a great, thick, paperback, Sacrifice of Praise: An Anthology of Christian Poetry from Caedmon to the Mid-Twentieth Century edited by James Trott (with a forward by Larry Woidode.) Published by Cumberland House; $26.95 Of course, we stock it. Here is a good review of it, published at Ransom Fellowship's website.

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