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.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God (Revised & Expanded)

It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God (edited by Ned Bustard) and published by Square Halo Books, is one of the few books that I can say with confidence is one of the best we have had the privilege of carrying in our 25 years here at Hearts & Minds. It is a collection of great essays, and seems to be the perfect book for anyone who needs an introduction to thinking faithfully about the arts from a Christian perspective, or that needs more maturity after having read a bit of the classic stuff for starters (Art and the Bible by Schaeffer, say, or Art for God's Sake by Ryken or Walking on Water by L'Engle.) With pieces from working artists like Mary McCleary, Ed Knippers, Karen Mulder, Ted Prescott and others, it is the best collection of its kind in print. And it has just been re-issued in a significantly expanded edition.

Edited by our Lancaster friend Ned Bustard, this collection includes pieces about aesthetics and the arts (like, say, a serious chapter by Adrienne Chaplin called Transfigured on proper notions of beauty, or one by Tim Keller called Glory, on why we need artists) but most are actually about how to do creative, faithful, thoughtful, artwork. (Some chapters are on light, color, truthfulness, and a very creative one on collaboration.) Whether one is an artist, a supporter of artists, or who believes that Christian conviction should lead to engagement with the broader culture (as we've argued here the last few posts) this book simply cannot be beat. We are truly grateful for it's wise presence and happy to be among the few stores to stock and promote it with vigor.

Still, one of the best books we've ever stocked? Yep, it is on our very short list. Let me tell you why I make that audacious claim. It is one of our favs firstly, as I've noted, because it is so very, very good. Important content nicely written with exceptional insight. Further, I like some other stuff about it, stuff that you might want to hear about, since it helps you, blog reader, know a bit about us and what we care about here.


1. It is lovingly produced, more carefully than most books, I assure you, with color and graphic design and type font and subtitles and such, all by hand by Ned. Ned and his family run a home-based business doing graphic design, and also manage Square Halo Books, which is what some might call a niche press, as they specialize in books on the arts. And, they are Central Pennsylvania, nearly neighbors. We aren't close enough to see each other much, but they do shop here, bringing us samples and tee shirts and greeting from their friends in the art world.

It isn't everybody who knows the leaders in CIVA and gets to edit the work of Mako Fujimuro or Sandra Bowden or Image editor Gregory Wolfe. We love supporting a creative little business that has done such significant networking and publishing among this cadre of underground heroes. I like the rare mixture of hominess and edginess the Bustards live, and it may have something to do with their being Reformed and artistic. Whatever, we love them as they incarnate their solid, stylish book.

2. As I've said, it is lovingly produced, but that ain't all. Although it matters to me that an artifact is made by folks with love in their hearts, if the product isn't that good, good intentions melt away pretty quickly. It Was Good really is an excellent product, a book that looks and feels good and whose content is superlative. It is well written, and this new, expanded edition, is better edited, somewhat re-arranged, and has several new chapters. (Not all publishers really change much when they re-issued a revision. This truly is an expanded version, and the new chapters are remarkable and the older ones touched up.) I know I said it about Fabric of Faithfulness a few posts back, because of the two new parts, but I must say it again here: this newly edited and seriously enhanced edition is so much better than the older version, you should consider getting the new one even if you have the first. Some customers know I sometimes talk people out of buying new books. This isn't one of those times.

3. Square Halo is, in fact, small and indie, and although I wish they had better distribution, and wish they were massively sold through chains and such---we really do want to get the word out, and are glad when good books are well known---there is something cool about being in on something that is such a well-kept secret. I guess the Bustards, and their friends who own Square Halo, and we here at Hearts & Minds, have some sort of a similar view (although I shouldn't speak for them.) We trust that whatever good we are attempting will blossom some how. Or not, Lord willing. Remember that old book of Tom Sine's called The Mustard Seed Conspiracy? That is it: we do our mustard-seed thing and hope for the best. If it blossoms into a big ol' tree that is a spot of healing for creation, thanks be to God. If not, I suppose all the marketing in the world isn't really going to help much.

Maybe I am just using sanctimony to cover for my lazy lack of ability to "ramp it up" and "take it to the next level." But I've read enough Jacque Ellul and Wendell Berry to know the dangers of a manufactured progress that finally is harmful and inauthentic. So, along with mustard-seed projects like classy little Square Halo, we try to make a living, and make a difference. We love selling a book like this because it is a symbol of what we are about, here. If you like us, buy this book. (If you like them, buy it from us.) I suppose it is a bit snide, but if you want Left Behind or The Secret or DVD's of last season's The Apprentice you can go to amazon, since these are the shallow fruits of a mass-produced consumer culture, anyway. It Was Good with its muted but generous color, with fine reproductions throughout, printed on non-tree paper, and its genuine and smart writers and it's righteous vision of a society made whole needs to be hand-sold by staff at a place that cares. Weeeeeee-ah. I say without any false humility that some days I wonder if we are worthy to sell a book like this.

4. It is fun. Joyful. Exciting. This really is nifty stuff: James Romaine riffing on his scholarly work on the Sistine Chapel to open us up to the meaning of creativity? Recording artist, producer and mentor Charlie Peacock on "telling a good story with your life" even as he writes in a contribution called Making Art Like a True Artist? This is great work, energetic and very interesting. Just the artwork shown is fascinating, with Ned's surprising choices of all kinds of (mostly modern) illuminations to accompany the text. I just love books like this, and I hope you do to!

5. Excellent endorsements. I know that sometime authors toss off superlatives as favors to publishers and the business of blurbing can make anybody wonder. But nobody needs to endorse a quiet book from Square Halo; this isn't Tom Clancey or Rick Warren, you know. No, each of the folks who gave endorsements did so, I am sure, out of deep satisfaction in lending their name to a brilliant book, and because they truly believed in the content. From Steve Garber to Luci Shaw, Ken Meyers to Denis Haack, these are folks whose cultural vision has integrity and who we trust. That the book has endorsements from prestigious scholars such as David J. Goa shows further it's reliable importance in the broader cultural scene. That is it cited in good books (like, for instance, The Culturally Savvy Christian about which I posted the other day) is pretty great, too. Maybe only booksellers or editors think like this, but I feel like we are in on something when we have a title like this. Won't you join us?

It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God
edited by Ned Bustard (Square Halo Books) $24.99

$5.00 off
you pay only $19.99

read@heartsandmindsbooks OR 717.246.3333

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Another free book offer: Mouw & Staub

A few days ago we offered here a deal with included a free copy of the new Richard Mouw book, his collection of short essays, gathered under the title Praying At Burger King. I think the book needs a subtitle, but how to say it? You know in the 1700's book titles where a mile long (just look inside the cover flap of William Wilberforce's Real Christianity and get a load of that.) So, how about "Essays by the kind and brilliant Richard Mouw where he, drawing upon his neo-Calvinist roots, but with ecumenical sensibilities, delightfully, and for our profit, shows what a Christian worldview really looks like in writings on everything from the glorious details of Christian doctrine to how to think about Santa Clause, to how to treat farm animals (and yes, one of the best pieces really is called When Chickens Strut Their Stuff"? No? How about: "Living faithfully in God's world, in the complex details of everyday life, written thoughtfully and graciously in ways that will really make you smile"? Or, how about "Even though this is a really weird cover, the book is really, really, good, trust me."? I don't know why the publishers didn't work a little harder to make this look like the extraordinary collection it is, with a compelling subtitle Any one of these meditations could be fodder for thoughtful reflection, even to be read as a daily devotional. Having them around is a great resource, and I've already found myself telling people about any number of them.

Dr. Mouw is a scholar that I've respected for decades. (Click here for a listing and description of his books, but please come back to finish my post!) One of the reasons is because he was one of the first Dutch Calvinist philosophers who showed nterest in the Mennonite tradition, knew the radical young evangelicals who formed what later became known as Sojourners and interacted with the work of activist theologians like William Stringfellow. In fact, you can read here, in his Mouw's Musings blog, a beautiful reflection which mentions his dialogues with John Howard Yoder. More to the point, though, this wonderful brief posting (which I really hope you read), illustrates some of what he will be talking about at the Abraham Kuyper lectures at Princeton Seminary this weekend. (Ahh, it breaks my heart not to be there, with friends like Gideon Strauss and Ron Sider and Al Wolters lined up as respondents to Mouw's call for full-orbed faith in the tradition of the great Dutch public theologian and statesman.) Mouw writes in his blog post, "Calvinism and Sewage" of how some Mennonite townspeople who held small elected offices in their township, asked him to address them on how his Calvinist heritage could help them be more informed as Christian civic leaders. They felt like the anti-institutional, and finally, anti-cultural tone of much of what they heard at their church didn't equip them to think well about daily service of this sort. Mouw is candid (not proud) of the best of his Reformed heritage and yet not mean at all, and often very enthusiastic about insights from other traditions. And, of course, to make his point, Mouw tells the story I often tell, of Calvin's work on Geneva's sewer systems even as he was writing his magisterial theological work. Read Richard on it, and pray for his lectures this weekend at Princeton.

While I'm on the free book kick, here is a link to some of his posts, a few of which can be found in Praying at Burger King. Browse around here at his archive from beliefnet for a few minutes and I trust you fill find why I find his short reflections so appealing, and why we are eager to promote this little book.

And, lastly, while I am on this theme which I introduced by telling you about Vanhoozer's book on cultural exegesis, Everyday Theology I've been itching all day to get time to tell you about the marvelous new book by Dick Staub. It is called (and this one does have a sub-title) The Culturally-Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite (Jossey-Bass; $21.95.) Those who attended the spectacular arts conference in NYC last month (IAM) heard Staub interview the architect who is redesigning the WTC as well as his interview of world famous painter Mako Fujimura, and his conversations with Karen Goodwin, who brought Les Mis to Broadway. That these thoughtful and culturally-engaged Christian folks are making a difference is evident. Staub chronicles this sort of work, and the theological vision beneath it, and celebrates God's work these days in this time of renewal. That he invites us all to deepen our faith in ways that will help produce a generation who can be artistic salt and light is thrilling, and is exactly what needs to be said. With a forward by N.T. Wright, and wonderfully mature and thoughtful and surprising leads and excurcions, this books moves us out of the less than adequate ideas and impulses that the church has produced, and calls us to more faithful, relevant and lasting forms of witness and mission. I will surely speak more of this very useful book soon. I've had an advanced reading copy for a while, but didn't want to say anything until it arrived and I knew I could actually sell it. It is now here, and we are running a special.

So, a blog special, again. Buy Staub for $2 off the regular price AND, get Mouw free. Although Richard Mouw's work stands on its own and is a wonderfully enjoyable and spiritually enriching short collection, it would be perfect to read in tandem with something like
The Culturally Savvy Christian. We package them together, and you save $12.00. As you can see, I want to generate interest in this stuff. I am sure it is that important. Thanks for caring, for showing interest in what has be so influential to us, and for being a part of our efforts here at Hearts & Minds. We are grateful.

The Culturally Savvy Christian
Praying at Burger King
read@heartsandmindsbooks.com OR 717.246.3333

Monday, March 26, 2007

FREE BOOK OFFER: Everyday Theology & Praying at Burger King

One of the catagories of books we promote here at Hearts & Minds bookstore is that broad topic of the relationship of Christ and cultural engagement. One aspect of that is precisely the question of how we ought to most fruitfully and faithfully think about cultural artifcates, patterns and trends. For those of us who are seriously Christian, we want our deepest convictions about life, truth, God, the nature of people, the structures of society and the values of the good life to be brought to bear in the very way we think about culture. Many books explore those themes in specific areas--film, rock music, advertising and the like.

Some are very, very important to help us get a good foundation, and you know I often cite the excellent, and recently updated and expanded Eyes Wide Open: Finding God in Popular Culture by my old college bud, Bill Romanowski (Brazos; $17.99.) This is both easy to read and exceptionally insightful; it is Biblically and theologically astute, and very fluent in the latest discourse in the field. It is fun and serious. I might also say--a tiny bit proudly, I'll admit--that Bill has been talking about this stuff his entire adult life, and was mentored as a young Christian in the early 70's by those who knew Francis Schaeffer and Calvin Seerveld and Hans Rookmaaker. Very early books on faith and culture by mainline Protestant scholars, too, were on his agenda, and I might suggest that he was a bit of a pioneer in a field that is really blossoming these days. He even got his name on a hardback scholarly book on the use of rock sountracks in film back in the day when that was notable.

But, now, as I say, this is a field that is coming into its own. The brand new Everyday Theology: How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends edited by Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Charles A. Anderson and Michael J. Sleasman (Baker Academic; $23.95) is an edited volume of highest calibre, with serious essays on a variety of texts and topics which asks how they can be understood from the vantage point of a Christian worldview. That this was edited by the very well-known scholar of Biblical hermenutics, Kevin J. Vanhoozer (PhD from Cambridge, now a theology prof at Trinity) is fascinating, too. On the back cover, it says this, "Generally speaking, students, theologians, pastors and church leaders are well-trained in the task of biblical exegesis. Where many fall short, however, is in the area of cultural exegesis---reading and interpreting the texts and trends produced by our culture, which can have a profound influence on the way we understand the world and practice our faith." Everyday theology may or may not be the right phrase to describe this project, but if you have theological questions about ordinary stuff---MySpace and cityscapes, rap music and Martha Stewart---this is a wonderful collection. It not only includes case studies, but the cumulative effect is to show us how to invoke a practice of thoughtfulness, to graft us into a tradition, however evolving, in thinking Christianly about popular culture and the postmodern world in which we live.

Chapters include a fine introduction by Vanhoozer on what he means by "everyday theology" in which he takes steps towards a theory of cultural interpretation. The large middle section includes chapters which show us the art of reading cultural texts, with pieces like "The Gospel According To Safeway: The Checkout Line and the Good Life", "Despair and Redemption: A Theological Account of Eminem" or "Between City and Steeple: Looking at MegaChurch Architecture." Other pieces include an important essay on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a study of hope in Ridely Scott's film, Gladiator.

The third section of Everyday Theology include a handful of chapters on how to interpret cultural trends--from "The Business of Busyness" to a good one on the blogosphere. The chapter on the trend of designing fantasy funerals is fascinating--- that the author doesn't cite the Christian undertaker and exquisite poet, Thomas Lynch, is a large oversite, but there you have it---this stuff needs to be discussed and argued about. Most of us, at least those of us who are middle aged and younger, talk about this stuff all the time, anyway. This will help us do so in an honorable and useful way that honors God and brings--hopefully--insights of blessings for our families and neighbors.

That the editors have put together for reflection sidebars and book links and a few other useful resources is nice, making it more user-friendly. Still, it will be a hard-sell, I'm afraid, to get people to buy and use a book this diverse and unique. I hope our Hearts & Minds friends, who experience some joy in thinking about these very things, and reading books about all kinds of stuff, will agree that this really could be an amazing book to have. Kudos to Baker for their good work in this field.

* * *

Few authors have been as level-headed, clear, principled and graceful in their relating the Lordship of Christ and the sovereignty
of God to the issues of the day as Fuller Seminary president and philosophy prof, Richard J. Mouw. I will write more about him soon, but for now, I offer this: his collection of short pieces, some previously published in his column at beliefnet or in Christianity Today, called Praying At Burger King (Eerdmans; $10.00) will be sent ABSOLUTELY FREE if you buy the above listed book. Mouw--who carries an endorsement on the back of the Everyday Theology book---would be a perfect, easy-to-read, nearly devotional guide to read alongside the heavy stuff in the cultural exegesis book. Mouw is known as a deep thinker, but in these brief pieces he offers lively stories and fun anecdotes about ordinary stuff. As one reviewer put it, "Mouw has the knack for spotting the theologically sublime in the simple things and the profound in the quirky events of life."

Here is why Michael Card wrote about it
Blake spoke of seeing 'the world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wildflower.' This is exactly what Richard Mouw has done for us. Whether it is Machiavelli of McDonald's, Martin Luther King of Burger King, Santa Claus or Sister Helen, Mouw helps us to hope that this is indeed a heaven-invaded world."
Read Mouw, on us. And then you will want to--need to---go deeper in. That is where you pick up the one to deepen your skills doing "Everyday Theology."

Everyday Theology
Praying At Burger King

read@heartsandmindsbooks.com OR 717.246.3333

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Consumed, Deep Economy and another free Bono offer

In my last blog I told of our special offer as we promoted On the Move, the speech that rock star Bono gave to the National Prayer Breakfast. As you can see by browsing the comment section, it created some discussion, and some links were offered for those who want a dissenting opinion of Bono's policy proposals to "make poverty history." Thanks for those that ordered the books from us. The offer for the free one, and another free book, too, to go with it, is still on.

Two new books came in the other day, and given this bit of discourse, I thought I'd note them. (We stock more books on international justice and globalization and third world poverty and wholistic Christian missions than most bookstores.) These both look very, very good and I think would be helpful for many of our readers.
First, let me mention the new hardback by Benjamin R. Barber, Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole (Norton; $26.95.)

In this powerful and disturbing critique, Benjamin Barber takes dead aim at a fudamental fallacy of our time: the equation of capitalism and democracy. Perceptively exploring the puerility of market culture, Consumed insists on the crucial distinction between consumers and citizens. No one who cares about the future of our public life can afford to ignore this book.
Jackson Lears
editor in chief Raritan
Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future is the new book by the excellent writer, hiker, reporter and enviromental activist, Bill McKibben (Times Books; $25.00.) We really have appreciated his many books (The Age of Missing Information was fabulous, and The End of Nature highly, highly regarded. And his one on Job is back out again, too.) Some have likened him to Wendell Berry. Michael Pollan, author of Omnivore's Dilemma (did you see our note about it as a Year's Best in our end of the year list at the website?) has written,
The cult of growth and globalization has seldom been so effectively challanged as by Bill McKibben in Deep Economy. But this bracing tonic of a book also throws the bright light of McKibben's matchless journalism on the vibrant local economies now springing up like mushrooms in the shadow of globalization. Deep Economy fills you with hope and a sense of fresh possibility.

copy of
On the Move (Bono)
$12 savings.

read@heartsandmindsbooks OR 717.246.3333

Friday, March 16, 2007

A new edition of Fabric of Faithfulness

I have been wanting to tell my blog friends about the February column over at the website, which, as you can see here, is mostly about William Wilberforce. I hope the Wilberforce movie, Amazing Grace, is still around your town, or coming to your town, and I hope you like the essay I wrote for the local paper, which I reprint there at the website, and the follow-up bibliography. (Look closely for the free book offer!) Why not send it out to somebody you know?

My good friend Steve Garber remains not only a faithful bud and Hearts & Minds booster, but remains an author that we should read and re-read. I've linked to his essays at his website, before, and in the February website column, I tell of the new edition of Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior. I hate to sound like such a groupie, but I truly think the remarkable forward and the exquistely inspirational afterward that are added to the new edition make it worth having, even if you have the old one. (The new cover is an improvement, too, eh?) Please check out my hat-tipping and all that. It is a book I enjoy writing about, and there are reasons I wrote about it in the Wilberforce review. Steve has been shown interest in Wilby for years, and has been a friend and encourager to some of the key players who cooked up the idea for the film. So I'm not being dramatic or trying to connect dots that aren't there.

The picture, by the way, is of Steve at Jubilee '07, in front of 2200 college students, telling of how a Wilberforce weekend impacted his life, decades ago, in Pittsburgh. I was honored to introduce him at Jubilee. He then interviewed Mark Rogers, a significant Senate staffer, who is now doing PR work for Amazing Grace and is one of the most important guys relating faith and art and culture and policy in North America today, and Isaac Slade, frontman of the band, The Fray. Garber always brings others into the conversation.

Perhaps it was from his time with Francis Schaeffer, or from taking in the novels and short-stories of Wendell Berry, or from his long study of the dualisms that plague our worldviews, but his motto these days is "come and see." That is, his pedagogy is embodied, and he spends much time highlighting the work of others, showing how the gospel can be lived out in meaningful ways. Fabric...of course is loaded with stories, so even as he researched it, he was wanting to tell about the lives of others. It is an important emphasis, though, which I believe you see even more strongly in the new essays in the book; he doesn't want the spotlight on himself, but on those who are engaging in life-long, good work for God's glory.

Do check out the February review. The March one will be up soon, too, so don't wait.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

On the Move: Love is on the move, mercy is on the move, God is on the move

I try to be patient with my friends and colleagues in the Christian bookstore business, and I sometimes get a bit defensive when smart and edgy folks dismiss the mom and pop shops that sell the Jesus junk and too little serious literature. Most of them, the "Christian store" owners, are good, good people, working hard with little financial security.

But I do get on my high horse sometimes, and rightfully so. There is so much dumbness, so much that is tacky and weird, in the material culture of the evangelical scene. And, the ethos of the "Christian Booksellers Association" industry, while improving, still allows for such perverse silliness---golf balls with Bible verses sold with the serious claim that they can be evangelistic if lost ones are found, the new line of Christian breath mints (yes, once again, they are called Testa-Mints; I couldn't make that up), tee shirts which rip off well known ad campaigns (as if that is oh-so-clever) and more bad books than even our most jaded cynic can imagine. We were considering stocking the laminated Bible that you can take in a Christian hot tub, though, but decided to pass...

Sometimes I write letters, scold sales reps (why, oh why, would anybody publish the nonsense in that Stephen Baldwin book, where he affirms anti-intellectualism? And why would an otherwise reliable publisher allow him to do a forward for a book for college students?) I had a protest piece published in our trade journal not too long ago when they awarded the Left Behind novels (less than stellar writing lined with even less than stellar theology) for their significant cultural impact. Yes, they've made an impact all right, with cultural creatives and literary critics mocking us worse than our captors in Psalm 137. God's people at least didn't deserve that taunting.

But I digress, with my little CBA industry rant. My point today is, well, my point is that you can fight back. A case of colossal stupidity has once again emerged from the belly of the CBA beast. I'll tell you about it shortly.

First, this great news: the brand new book by u2 frontman, Bono, published by the nervy folks at Nelson-Word (perhaps atoning for some really dumb books in their publishing past) has just been released. It is called On The Move (W Publishing Group; $12.99) and it is a significant collection of photographs of Bono's first trip to Ethiopia, and a brief chronical of his later work in Africa. These black and white photos, some not seen before, were taken by Bono himself (with shots of him by Kevin Davies.) The text of this small gift book is the much-publicized National Prayer Breakfast speech which Bono delivered last January. It has been widely circulated, and is a powerful, passionate, obviously Christian and serious call to faith, action, obedience and justice. The speech is accentuated with these powerful pictures, giving it an edgy, pomo artsy feel. For more traditional readers, the speech text is reproduced in the back in straight-line paragraphs. It really is worth reading, and this book is really worth having. You could use it nearly as a lectio devino meditation, using the pictures of gloriously human African kids as icons. And you can read the speech in one sitting, using the full edition in the back pages.

Here's the thing that irks me. Some stores are refusing to carry it. Sales representatives are being criticized, the W publishing group being chastised, for daring to carry a book by this renegade Christian rock star. Forget that the book carries a glowing endorsement by Billy Graham! Forget that all the proceeds go to fight AIDS in Africa! You know what Stephen Baldwin says about that nonsense.

So, my sales rep thanked me for buying a bundle. To hear that some stores haven't taken any, that some are mad about it, that some sales reps in some parts of the country have not only found the product ignored, but condemned, well, that just makes me wanna holler.

My plan? Let's sell a bunch of these. Let's show 'em that we care, that some stores are happy to support this (supposedly controversial) project, and will do well by them. Let's make sure that the next publisher that wants to do something like this doesn't back off because CBA stores didn't sell enough of On The Move. I went out on a limb and ordered more than I should have. I believe in this little book and I believe that our circle of friends and customers will know what to do with it.

I don't know how long we can do this, but for now, I offer this: buy two, get one free.

You can keep one, give one as a gift to a friend, and donate one to a library, resource center, youth group, coffee shop, beauty salon, or other give-away spot. What do you say?

The speech is worth reading and pondering. It is worth sharing and discussing. The pictures are excellent, the project very cool, the packaging exciting and artistically moving, DATA and the ONE campaign very reliable. Mostly, it is about showing God's love in compassionate and just ways. It is about a man who leverages his celebrity for the poor, and a publisher willing to get the evangelical community on board. I want to move these, and will give some away. You've got to help us, though. Buy two, get one free.

AND: while supplies last, I will do this. Buy two, get one free, AND I will include a book about Christain faith and poverty, some kind of pro-justice, faith-based paperback. I've got tons of this stuff around here, and will give some away, to anybody who takes us up on this offer. Just let us know you want the blog special. We offer some free stuff and you can take it from there.

God is not silent on the subject... Bono

On the Move Bono (W) $12.99

Buy two
Get one free
and another free, related book, too.
read@heartsandmindsbooks.com 717.246.3333

Monday, March 12, 2007

Fight Breaks Out at BookNotes (and I love it)

I’ve tried, on occasion, to get folks to post comments on my BookNotes blog, and rarely have many readers chimed in. (I've heard that it is a little tedious to get a blogger account, but with tenacity, it does finally work, and then you are free to post. Just make up your own password, you know.) Even my invitation to argue about your favorite, or not so favorite, Frederick Buechner books failed. Denise, Godblessher, wrote a lovely post and I’d suggest you skim back and hear from a good reader and good writer (she’ll be famous some day) her quick comments on Rev. B.

And so, I must admit, I was a little surprised at the frenzy of posts---now past 35 (many from me in response)---responding to my recommendation of some books on Intelligent Design. A few complimented me on what they thought was a balanced and honest account of the ambiguity I often feel when out selling books, which was the important first part of my last entry. We are so happy to partner with many different kind of churches and many different kind of Christian (or non-Christian) groups, and, on a good day, feel at home and happy to be so wildly ecumenical. Sometimes, though, I feel like that motherless child in the old black spiritual. No real home, not fitting in fully---certainly not with those that presume a giant divide between a caricatured “liberal” and “conservative” position (in politics, theology or cultural engagement) as so many do. And so, I shared some joy at the good graces shown by friends at a nearby church who brought in the prominent evolutionist theologian, Dr. John Haught. As I noted, his reputation as a good presenter and fine Christian gentleman was exceeded, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time with him. And we made a little money selling books, which, for those of you who know our work and care about Hearts & Minds surely know, that is part of the mix of all this, too. This is how we make our living, such as it is.

But yet. Haught short-sheeted the ID folks in my opinion, so I noted a couple of books that interested folks ought to know about. The rare study of Judge Jones’s legal ruling in the Dover case. A history of the ID debate from a pro-ID view, that I think would be a great introduction. I noted that the book of rebuttals to the various charges against ID written by William Dembski is now out in paperback. Stepping back, then, from the ID debate, I told of what I think is my favorite book on a Christian view of science, Science & Grace: God's Reign in the Natural Sciences written by Tim Morris & Don Petcher (Crossway; $17.99.) And, of course, I alluded to Kuhn, Polanyi, Newbegin and Dooyeweerd, who help us get at what Roy Clouser calls "the myth of religious neutrality."

Well, the comments flew. Back and forth, back and forth. So this is what those who comment on the fast discourse on the Internet are talking about. In between other work and play, a handful of us had a round-robin debate that lasted two days. I think you ought to click on the comment section and read through these charges and counter-charges. I think the gang deserves not only applause for their efforts, but good marks on keeping it mostly constructive. The boys played fair, and I am glad. Thank you all very much.

And thanks, too, for those that offered links to articles or noted books and authors. Follow them up, and I am sure you will be impressed.

And so---here’s something to kick off another round. Listed below are a couple of books that I want to note about scholarship and science. Less about the particulars of the evolution question, and more about what it means to do uniquely Christian scholarship, or what George Marsden called---quoting a sarcastic line in a review in the New York Times---“The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship.” His book by that title, by the way, was one I mentioned in one of the comments in the conversation.

The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness: A Guide for Students Donald Opitz & Derek Melleby (Brazos Press) $13.99 This is not due out until this summer, but I couldn’t resist taunting it. I’ve been friends with these guys for years, both have long affiliations with the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO) and, although not Dutch Reformed, have that Abraham Kuyper worldview thing going on: what does it mean to honor the Lordship of Christ as a young collegiate, especially in one’s classroom work? How do we bring our Christian discipleship into the world of studies, papers, labs and profs? If Marsden is right, that the world may see our efforts to integrate faith and learning in a radically wholistic way, to be “outrageous”, how do we prepare students for this grand, exciting, and perhaps controversial calling? With blurbs on the back from Steve Garber, George Marsden, Walt Mueller, Quentin Schultze, David Naugle, Kara Powell, and some bookseller guy from Pennsylvania, it sure looks impressive. Know any graduating high-school students who will need their first taste of principled Christian scholarship as they head of to Babylon U? For those who want to promote it among colleges, churches, campus ministry groups, or other key places, let us know---we’ve got a small amount of free samples of one chapter, if you’d find it helpful to see it now. Fun, funny, and very important! Cool cover, too. Watch for more info in a few months, or pre-order it now.

The Battle of Beginnings: Why Neither Side is Winning the Creation-Evolution Debate Del Ratzsch (IVP) $18.00
Science & Its Limits: The Natural Sciences in Christian Perspective Del Ratzch (IVP) $15.00
I do not know anyone writing in this field that is as respected, citing by a wide variety of Christians, and whose insights are as needed as Dr. Ratzch’s. Science and It’s Limits used to be called The Philosophy of Science but IVP changed the title and cover a few years ago. I think this is the kind of book that lays the groundwork for fruitful dialogue and pushes us towards not just working wisely in this particular conversation, but towards a God-honoring, normative and appropriate perspective on science. The first is, obviously, a bit more about the particular debate (written, by the way, before ID was really on the map) and the second, an essential guide to what science is and is not, what it does and doesn’t do. Surprisingly complex and surprisingly satisfying to see it explained with such cogency. A must-read.

Not Just Science: Questions Where Christian Faith and Natural Science Intersect edited by Dorothy F. Chappell & E. David Cook (with a forward by Owen Gingerich) (Zondervan) $24.99 At the Jubilee conference a year ago, we featured this, and noted that every academic discipline should be so fortunate as to have a handbook like this. A thorough collection of semi-scholarly, introductory articles (mostly by professors of Wheaton or Calvin), this shows the ways in which faith makes a difference for scholarship, what some of the key issues are in various disciplines, and offers a Christian perspective in their specialty area. Here are chapters ranging from engineering to geology, chemistry to mathematics, computer science to physics, pharmaceuticals to agriculture, astronomy to bioengineering. This is an honest, fair, thoughtful, delightful book that just makes my heart swell, knowing there are things like this for science majors, fans of Science Digest and The Discovery Channel, or practitioners that actually work in the field, but haven’t taken the opportunity to think through the implications of their Sunday faith for their Monday work. Oh how I wish every church library would stock a book like this, and how we would push beyond the Dover debates and into this worldviewish, multi-disciplinary project of thinking Christianly in the sciences. There are some great opening chapters on the philosophy of science, a historical chapter, and a fine piece by editor Dorothy Chappell called “How Does Society Interact With Science?” By the way, one great piece is on theology and its implications for science, written by Hearts & Minds friend, Vincent Bacote. That the great Mennonite historian of science from Harvard, Dr. Owen Gingerich, wrote the forward is, well, a sweet bit of icing on a very good cake.

Is Religion Dangerous? Keith Ward (Eerdmans) $16.00 This is a bit far afield, but with the rise of a new and angry form of atheism on the rise, the accusations against religious faith, and its role in culture, are also on the rise. Here, Keith Ward, a liberally minded British Anglican (professor of Divinity at Gresham College in London) takes on this accusation. From the ways the faith has been seen as oppressive to women, to the violence caused by some readings of religion, to, yes, the ways in which the faith and science debate have developed, Ward is helpfully fair and logical. He walks readers through idea after idea, taking on some assumptions and ways of construing things that are in need of clarity. Is religion the “root of all evil” as Darwinist guru Richard Dawkins insists?
Thinkers like Richard Dawkins hold that, while materialism is based on painstaking research and rational thought, religious views are based on ‘blind faith,’ some sort of leap in the dark…What are we to say about this? Has Dawkins never read any philosophy? Is he not aware of the weaknesses of materialism?…Does he really think that Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Kant, and Hegel were all unthinking simpletons?
The Times Literary Supplement has called this “A beautifully argued book…"The Daily Telegraph notes that “Ward is successful in demonstrating that critics of religion are often guilty of conflating the worst with the best in order to dismiss the whole.” Now that is a memorable phrase, eh? Their reviewer continues, “It will be interesting to see whether the moderate and humane tone of this book makes an impact at a time when the voices that are most clearly heard are those that shout the loudest."

How Bill James Changed Our View of Baseball edited by Gregory F. Augustine Pierce (ACTA) $19.99 One of my best friends is a baseball nut, and a statistician and he’s told me about this guy. I don’t care for math, and not much more for professional baseball, but now that we’ve turned the clocks forward, and spring is in the air, it is time for all good patriots to think about the great American past-time. And, that past-time, it seems, has not been the same since a sports statistician discovered new stuff about the interface of math and baseball. Anybody who is anybody in sports journalism knows about this guy. Time magazine named him one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.” Maybe that will generate an argument or two.

Hey, what bookstore do you know that mixes ID, Mennonite scientists, and books about baseball? Happy reading.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

John Haught, mainline Protestants, and the Science of Intelligent Design

Some readers have told me that they enjoy hearing about our different book displays, the places we go, the people we meet. Although I hope to inform BookNotes readers of books for sale here at the shop, it is good to know that many of you feel a part of our itinerant ministry of promoting broad thinking Christian literature. We are glad you are part of the bigger picture of our experience here, and grateful for your interest and support.

And so I give this report from one of the several places we’ve been in the last week. Every year, the prestigious Pine Street Presbyterian Church in Harrisburg offers to the Central Pennsylvania community what they call their Winter Seminar. It is nearly always a person of great note---from Marcus Borg to Phyllis Tickle, Walter Brueggemann to Jack Rogers. We have been privileged to sell books at these important events, and their gift of hosting important speakers which represent the best of mainline, liberal Protestantism, and the nice hospitality they offer—to the speakers, the guests, and to us from the bookstore---is always a pleasure to behold. As those that know us well may imagine, we are both happy to offer resources to our fellow Presbyterian (USA) friends, and eager to hear these speakers from a theological tradition that is not precisely our own, and, yet, we come away deeply ambivalent. As an evangelical with high regard for traditional orthodoxy, it is always perplexing to me how leaders in the Protestant mainline can re-invent doctrinal views that have held for centuries, as if they are re-formulating a minor matter. And yet, I find the spiritual openness and genuine sense of fidelity and doxology, at least at Pine Street, to be inspiring and interesting. I may be more provoked than some who attend these kinds of events but there are none more gratified for being nurtured into a provocative faith. We enjoy our ecumenical partners, and especially enjoy our friends in Harrisburg.

And so, this year, the Winter Seminar lecturer was the very informative, wonderfully humble, excellent communicator and world-renowned Catholic theologian, Dr. John Haught. Dr. Haught is known as a creative thinker, informed much by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and the subsequent liberal process theologians, yet remaining largely orthodox within a broadly Catholic framework and is an expert on theistic evolution. His work on faith and science at the Georgetown Center for the Study of Science and Religion is renowned, and it was an honor to meet him, a delight to hear him, and we were happy to sell a bunch of his books, the rigorous ones, such as God After Darwin: A Theology of Evolution (Westview; $29.99) and the more introductory ones, such as Responses to 101 Questions About God and Evolution (Paulist; $12.99.) I thank the team at Pine Street for again allowing us to add a bit of value to their good event by displaying such a wide variety of books.

But (and I hope you knew this was coming) I would have wished that Dr. Haught would have spent a bit more time explaining his critique of Intelligent Design. He was, after all, the star witness of the ACLU’s case against the Dover School Board (near us, here) that ruled against reading a short statement saying that that Darwinist views of evolution are contested, and other views can be found in the school library. (Gadzooks, no! We can’t tell kids that there are different views out there, for heaven’s sake. Not in a science class of all places! Yikes! Call the cops!) That the good Dr. Haught caricatured the ID case was evident to the few of use in the room that cared about such things. That nobody but one (a friend I brought) asked even anything approximating a hard question gave me pause. Why, in mainline liberal circles, are the audiences so docile, so agreeable to anything that hammers the conservatives? (It was the same way when Borg denied the bodily resurrection a few years back, an event after which I came back, counted our money, and cried. Nobody, and I mean nobody, raised an eyebrow, let alone a hand in comment!)

To wit: I recommend Dr. Haught’s books where he takes the time to explore matters in greater detail. There are many theistic evolutionists out there, and he is one of the more thoughtful ones (despite the fascination with Chardin’s rather goofy Omega Point evolution of the cosmos stuff.) For instance, see his Deeper Than Darwin: The Prospect of Religion in an Age of Evolution (Westview; $24.99.) This seriously illustrates his mature critique of naturalism and the ways in which religious faith can illustrate deeper truths about the universe than can a dogmatic and reductionistic Darwinism.

Still, despite his vivid critique of secular naturalistic ideology which undergirds much of the mainstream of science these days, and the confusion in many popular writings between science and the philosophy of science, he continual fell back into the typical framing of the matter as if it is a contest between religion and science, rather than different worldviews and presuppositions which lead to different philosophies of science. He admitted that there is never a pure science since all human theorizing is colored by the worldviewish convictions of the scientists (think of Kuhn and Polanyi, at least, Kuyper and Dooyeweerd if you can, and Roy Clouser’s, Myth of Religious Neutrality if you haven’t.) And yet, having admitted to that, he fell back time and again into talking about “Science” (as if that was a neutral given, as if all true scientists agreed on a particular worldview) and “faith” (as in “over and against science.”) That a Ph.D. and world-renowned theologian who works in this field hasn’t quite rooted this dualistic and unhelpful framework from his approach was frustrating; Oh, how I wish I could have him, and those listening and nodding in approval, read the last chapter of Creation Regained: The Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview where Al Wolter’s gives us the “structure and direction” insight about not confusing the worldviewish and philosophical direction of a sphere's unfolding with the sphere itself. Or, to get at it a different way, how I wish non-evangelicals who seem unware of this important body of work, would grapple with the history of the fact/value split as illustrated and explained by Nancy Pearcey in Total Truth: Liberating Christianity From It's Cultural Captivity that gets at the root of the rise of this odd way of talking about truth and religion, as if public truth (science) and private, subjective truth (religion) were two different things. Leslie Newbegin similiarly ponders that, but Pearcey is the one to read first.

To make the point that Dr. Haught’s testimony at the famous Dover trial can be contested, and the Judge’s rulings were roundly illogical, despite what Professor Haught casually asserted, I would recommend these three resources. What is plain is that very, very smart folks have huge, huge disagreements with the Darwinist hegemony, and that Dr. Haught’s Harrisburg lectures, as pleasant and appealing as they were, clearly only skimmed the surface of what is surely one of the most important controversies of our time. For another view, please call us and order one or all of these:

Traipsing Into Evolution: Intelligent Design and the Kitzmiller vs Dover Decision David Dewolf, John West, Casey Luskin and Jonathan Witt (Discovery Institute) $14.99 This is a must-read for anyone interested in the case, the legalities of the matter of the most reasonable definitions of science, religion, etc. A rare book, we are delighted to stock it, even though nobody much cares. It really is a very interesting read, though, and important.

Darwin Strikes Back: Defending the Science of Intelligent Design Thomas Woodward (Baker) $14.99
One reviewer wrote, “The controversy over Darwinism and ID signals a major scientific and social revolution. Everyone who wants to understand it should read this timely and well-written book.” Michael Behe writes on the back “Talking the reader behind the headlines, Woodward---the premier historian of the ID movement---analyses crucial developments of the past decade.”

Bill Dembski writes in the foreword:
…It is fitting that (I met Woodward) at a lecture by Alvin Plantinga, since Plantinga is not just one of the most highly regarded philosophers of our era; he is also one who has written sympathetically about the intellectual project of Intelligent Design. In this context, he can be viewed as a symbol of the spiraling rhetorical nightmare faced by neo-Darwinism in the high university world. The nightmare is not simply the result of political pressure that Darwinists are experiencing. Rather it is that the Darwinian account of evolution on which they are pinning their hopes is imploding.
Woodward himself makes a good point in his introduction:

We have moved light-years beyond the stereotyped Inherit the Wind clash between dogmatic religion and enlightened science, which etched a fictional rendering of the Scopes trial onto our consciousness. Now it's no longer William Jennings Bryan against Clarence Darrow---it's no longer religion versus science. Today it is ID biochemist Michael Behe of Lehigh University versus Kenneth Miller, Darwinian biologist at Brown University. Now it is ID theorist Scott Minnich, who teaches microbiology at the University of Idaho and publishes his research on the flagellum, engaged in intense discussion with Robert Pennock, a Darwinian philosophy professor who teaches at Michigan State and has published critiques of ID. Whether anyone likes it or not, it is no longer science versus religion, it is now science versus science.
The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design William A. Dembski (IVP) $16.00 This paperback price is a great buy given how much is packed into this dense 300+ page volume. Dembski responds to all the basic questions, the critic's accusations and the claims of those who think the ID movement unacceptable. He writes clearly and at some length. Read it for yourself, especially if you are taken with some of the popular level critique.


Science & Grace: God’s Reign in the Natural Sciences
Tim Morris & Don Petcher (Crossway) $17.99 Not an ID book, but a great example of how to back up, get the big picture, taking the best Biblical hermeneutics and the best philosophy of science, in light of Christian truth claims and thoughtful wholistic engagement with contemporary philosophy to come up with a radically Christian perspective on science. Morris spoke at Jubilee this past year (see last week’s posts) and we were duly impressed. One reviewer called it “an extraordinarily important book filled with paradigm shifting ideas.”

If one were to read up on the sciences, seeking a solid, Christ-honoring, Biblically-informed and reformationally-rooted vision of the high calling and limits of science in God’s world, one could hardly do better than Science & Grace. This is the kind of foundational book we should be reading even as we engage the broad cosmological questions of Teilhard or the details of educational policy as misunderstood by Judge Jones. I sure hope our BookNotes readers agree---this is an important matter to think through, and most of us simply haven't read much on either side. The journalists and judges, and, sadly, theologians and preachers, too often, haven't either. Might we challenge you to dig in this year, and read up in this arena?

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Frederick Buechner

What to say, what to say? This is nearly a publishing event, and we are ebullient to tell of it. (Okay, I used the thesarus for once; excited just didn't do this great wordsmith justice.) Dale Brown is the genius behind the extraodinary Calvin College Festival of Faith and Writing, held every other year, which brings together the most remarkable array of writers, mostly those working allusively out of a faith tradition. I still remember hearing Katherine Paterson there, and Updike. Here, Professor Brown has given us a great gift, the first major (and happily altogether succesful) study of the work of Frederick Buechner, whom he has enticed to come to Calvin more than once. Entitled The Book of Buechner: A Journey Through His Writings (fans will hear the allusion, already in the title), it was just released by Westminister/John Knox ($24.95) in a sturdy, nicely-made hardback. Mr. Buechner himself wrote the forward, an honor that is telling, I think, that he respects Brown so. It covers the entire body of his work--the memoirs, of course, the theology, the sermons, the fiction (yes, the fiction!!) Not every writer deserves such a serious and thorough retrospective, and not every such study can be as inspiring as this one. This is a great match, author and subject.

Here is what the incredibly well-read and very thoughtful Lauren Winner writes on the dust jacket: "This book is, quite simply, a remarkable accomplishment. Readers could not ask for a better engagement with the life and work of one of America's most important, beloved, and versatile writers. Dale Brown probes, questions, illuminates. Perhaps most important, he will doubtless inspire readers to return to their shelves and pull down their favorite Buechner volumes once again."

Do you have a favorite Buechner book? Why not post something here, for those who may not know? Or maybe even to start a friendly debate. Anybody up for a Buechner broil?

For the unintitiated, the daily devotional Listening to Your Life is a fabulous way to dip into his many books, with daily, brief, excerpts of all his varied work. (Harper; $14.95.) I am partial to the third in his four-part memoir (although Telling the Truth, the first I ever read, is still a favorite. Many think his novel Godric (which was nominated for a Pulitzer) is his finest. For anyone who knows even a bit of his long career, this new study will be a must-read.

The Book of Buechner: A Journey Through His Writings Dale Brown (WJK) $24.95


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