Mid-March 2021 Selection

Mid-March 2021 Selection

This selection includes new books by: Diana Butler Bass, Paula Gooder, Jake Owensby, Lynn Japinga & others.

Topics covered in this selection include:

  • new ideas about Jesus
  • hope in difficult times
  • revisiting the meaning of the parables
  • preparing for climate change and working from home, and
  • women’s stories from the New Testament.

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[Prices, stock levels and estimated delivery time for titles on this page were last updated on 14 March 2021]

Freeing Jesus:
Rediscovering Jesus as Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord, Way, and Presence.
Diana Butler Bass.
Hbk 256pp. ISBN 9780062659521.

HarperOne (2021).
[Allow 4 weeks].

“How can you still be a Christian?” is the most common question Diana Butler Bass is asked today. It is a question that many believers ponder as they wrestle with disappointment and disillusionment in their church and its leadership. But while many Christians have left their churches, they cannot leave their faith behind.

Bass challenges the idea that Jesus can only be understood in static, one-dimensional ways and asks us to instead consider a life where Jesus grows with us and helps us through life’s challenges in several capacities: as Friend, Teacher, Saviour, Lord, Way, and Presence.

She renews our hope in faith and worship at a time when we need it most.

Looking for God in Messy Places:
A Book about Hope.
Jake Owensby.
Pbk 192pp. ISBN 9781791013226.

Abingdon Press (2021).
[Allow 4 weeks].

“This is beautiful and brilliant stuff, profound and plain, incredibly human, wise and charming. I trusted and enjoyed every word.” Anne Lamott

Life is messy. We can get discouraged by setbacks, overwhelmed by busyness, and shaken by worry. Hope is the power that gets us out of bed in the morning and gives us the courage to face adversity. This is a book about how love gives us an inextinguishable hope. A book for anyone who has ever been frozen in place by loss or regret, anyone who has endured suffering, cruelty, or rejection. From word to word and page to page, readers will experience themselves as God’s beloved – so that they can be hopeful.

Topics include:

  • The power of love to give us hope
  • The ways that God shows up in our daily lives
  • Recognizing God’s call in our lives
  • Becoming your true self
  • Having a sense of belonging
  • Forming a friendship with Christ
  • Contemplative faith.

The Parables
(Biblical Explorations series).
Paula Gooder.
Pbk 176pp. ISBN 9781786221537.

Canterbury Press (2020).
[Allow 4 weeks].

Covering every parable, this volume focuses on some of the best-known stories in the gospels, mining their meaning afresh today. It considers why Jesus spoke in pictures and opens up the world behind the parables to reveal just how striking, memorable and challenging they were for their original hearers.

Biblical Explorations is an exciting series that offers an accessible and informed study of the best loved texts in Scripture. Rooted in the conviction that greater understanding of the Bible leads to deeper discipleship, it is an essential resource for preachers, teachers and study group leaders, as well as those who simply wish to get to know the Bible better.

The Wild Land Within:
Cultivating Wholeness Through Spiritual Practice.
Lisa Colón DeLay.
Pbk 224pp. ISBN 9781506465081.

Broadleaf Books (2021).
[Allow 4 weeks].

The wilderness of the heart may be untamed, but you don’t need to go there alone.

Spiritual companion and podcast host, Lisa Colón DeLay offers a map to our often-bewildering inner terrain, inviting us to deepen and expand our encounters with God. Through specific spiritual practices from early desert monastics, as well as Latinx, Black, and indigenous contemplatives, she guides us in cultivating lives of devotion.

In opening ourselves up to God’s healing, we will inevitably come across wounds we didn’t even know we had.

The Heart of the Mission:
Simple Ways to Bring People to Jesus
Cande de Leon.
Pbk 144pp. ISBN 9781681926643.
Our Sunday Visitor (2021).
[Allow 4 weeks].

With wisdom and humour born of his own experience, de Leon shows how our Christian mission always begins and ends with people. To help us live this in our daily life and work, he guides us through three transformational principles for ministry and life:

  • Strengthening relationships
  • Boldly growing engagement
  • Connecting people to the mission.

Whether you are a pastor, part of a parish staff, or a volunteer at your home parish, these principles apply to you.

If we really want to make transformational change in our Church and our world, we first have to recognize the people in front of us – who they are, what they need, what gifts God has given them, and how he is inviting them to participate in the mission of the Church.

Not merely another program to transform your parish, this book offers a simple yet radical invitation to roll up your sleeves and make a difference by getting back to basics.

Emotionally Healthy Discipleship:
Moving from Shallow Christianity to Deep Transformation.
Peter L. Scazzero.
Hbk 288pp. ISBN 9780310109488.
Zondervan (2021).
[Allow 4 weeks].

Many churches are unknowingly operating from a shallow discipleship that allows people to recycle the same problems year after year. Church goers are increasingly passive with lives not distinct from the culture.

Scazzero combines three decades of wisdom with hard lessons from his own ministry journey. He lays out what is required for church leaders to multiply deeply-changed people who are growing in relationship with God, themselves and others.

Scazzero begins with four beneath-the-surface, systemic gaps that undermine serious discipleship. He provides a clear vision for a church culture that deeply changes lives and then practically unpacks the seven biblical marks of emotionally healthy discipleship:

  • Learn to Be Before You Do
  • Follow the Crucified, Not the Americanized, Jesus
  • Receive the Gift of Limits
  • Befriend Suffering and Loss
  • Break the Power of the Past
  • Practice the Presence of People
  • Lead Out of Brokenness and Vulnerability.

Beautiful and Terrible Things:
A Christian Struggle with Suffering, Grief, and Hope.
Christian M. M. Brady.
Pbk 176pp. ISBN 9780664266127.

Westminster John Knox Press (2020).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

Bible scholar Brady, an expert on Old Testament lament, was as prepared as a person could be for the death of a child – which is to say, not nearly well enough. When his eight-year-old son died suddenly from a fast-moving blood infection, Brady heard the typical platitudes about accepting God’s will and knew that quiet acceptance was not the only godly way to grieve.

Brady guides readers grieving losses and setbacks of all kinds in voicing their lament to God, reflecting on the nature of human existence, and persevering in hope.

Brady finds that rather than an image of God managing every event and action in our lives, the biblical account describes the very real world in which we all live, a world full of hardship and calamity that often comes unbidden and unmerited. Yet, it also is a world into which God lovingly intrudes to bring comfort, peace, and grace.

Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.
David Epstein.
Pbk 468pp. ISBN 9781509843527.

Riverhead Books (2020).
[Allow 4 weeks].

David Epstein examined the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters and scientists. He discovered that in most fields – especially those that are complex and unpredictable – generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one. They’re also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can’t see.

Provocative, rigorous, and engrossing, Range makes a compelling case for actively cultivating inefficiency. Failing a test is the best way to learn. Frequent quitters end up with the most fulfilling careers. The most impactful inventors cross domains rather than deepening their knowledge in a single area.

As experts silo themselves further while computers master more of the skills once reserved for highly focused humans, people who think broadly and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives will increasingly thrive.

In God’s Image:
An Anthropology of the Spirit
Michael Welker.
Pbk 168pp. ISBN 9780802878748.

Eerdmans (2021).
[Allow 4 weeks].

Welker describes how centering our culture on the human and divine spirit can revitalize four universally acknowledged characteristics of a thriving human existence: justice, freedom, truth, and peace.

Inspired not only by religious sources, but also by scientists, philosophers, economists, and legal and political theorists, he develops the idea of a “multimodal” spirit that generates the possibility of living and acting in the image of God.

Welker’s new approach to natural theology explains why the human and the divine spirit cannot adequately be grasped in simple bipolar relations, and why the human spirit should not be reduced to the rational mind. Addressing the question, What is the calling of human beings? he explains to believers and non-believers alike what it means to be persons created in the image of God, moved by a spirit of justice, freedom, truth, and peace.

How to Prepare for Climate Change:
A Practical Guide to Surviving the Chaos.
David Pogue.
Pbk 656pp. ISBN 9781982134518.
Simon & Schuster (2021).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

You might not realize it, but we’re already living through the beginnings of climate chaos. In Arizona, laborers now start their day at 3 am, because it’s too hot to work past noon. Chinese investors are snapping up real estate in Canada. Millennials have evacuation plans. Moguls are building bunkers. Retirees in Miami are moving inland.

Pogue offers sensible, well-researched advice for how the rest of us should start to ready ourselves for the years ahead. Pogue walks readers through what to grow, what to eat, how to build, how to insure, where to invest, how to prepare your children and pets, and even the type of place to relocate to when the time comes.

He also provides wise tips for managing your anxiety, as well as action plans for riding out every climate catastrophe, from superstorms and wildfires to ticks and epidemics.

From Daughters to Disciples:
Women’s Stories from the New Testament.
Lynn Japinga.
Pbk 142pp. ISBN 9780664265700.

Westminster John Knox Press (2021).
[Allow 4 weeks].

For too long the women of the Bible have been depicted in one-dimensional terms. On one side are saints, such as Mary, while on the other are “bad girls,” such as Eve and Jezebel. Just as often, the female characters of the Bible are simply ignored. However, the women of the Bible are complex, multidimensional individuals whose lives are inspiring, funny, and tragic in ways too many of us never hear.

In this second of two volumes, Lynn Japinga acquaints readers with the women of the New Testament. From faithful forerunners like Anna and Elizabeth to female disciples like the sisters Mary, Martha, and Mary Magdalene to first-generation followers like Lydia and Dorcas, readers will encounter a wealth of foremothers in the faith in all their messy, yet redeemable, humanity.

This Bible study introduces and retells every female character who contributes to one or more New Testament stories, diving deeply into what each woman’s story means for us today with questions for reflection and discussion.


Working from Home for Dummies.
Tara Powers.
Pbk 448pp. ISBN 9781119748496.
For Dummies (2020).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

Working from home was already on the rise, but when COVID-19 hijacked our reality, it became a way of life for many. Whether you’re doing it one or two days a week or full-time, you’ll appreciate the guidance in this book.

Here are tried-and-true tips for enhancing your productivity, creating a workspace that’s pleasant and efficient, dealing with distractions, making the most of virtual meetings, maintaining the trust of your manager and teammates, and a whole lot more.

Topics discussed include:

  • Make online meetings more productive
  • Get in the right headspace
  • Set necessary boundaries and expectations
  • Maintain effective connection with team members
  • Learn to stay focused.

Messy Vintage:
52 sessions to share Christ-centred fun and fellowship with the older generation.
Katie Norman; Jill Phipps.
Pbk 128pp. ISBN 9780857469755.

Bible Reading Fellowship (2021).
[Allow 4 weeks].

Messy Vintage is Christ-centred and creative, full of celebration and hospitality and open to all, aspiring to include people of all ages while specifically reaching out to older people.

A typical session involves hands-on creative activities to explore a Bible story, a short celebration with story, song and prayer, and refreshments.

This book offers practical advice and resources to help you to be ‘church’ for older people in care homes, congregations and the community.


A Rhythm of Prayer:

A Collection of Meditations for Renewal
Sarah Bessey ed.
Hbk 176pp. ISBN 9780593137215.

Convergent (2021).
[Allow 4 weeks].

Many of us are overworked, over-pressured, and edging burnout, which is why we see so many prayer circles within a multitude of church traditions. These gatherings are a trusted space where people seek help, hope, and peace, energized by God and one another.

A companion for all who feel the immense joys and challenges of the journey of faith, this collection of prayers says it all aloud, giving readers permission to recognize the weight of all they carry. These writings also offer a broadened imagination of hope – of what can be restored and made new. Each prayer is an original piece of writing, with new essays by Sarah Bessey throughout.

Encompassing the full breadth of the emotional landscape, these deeply tender yet subversive prayers give readers an intimate look at the diverse language and shapes of prayer. Contributors include: Barbara Brown Taylor, Amena Brown, Nadia Bolz-Weber, and other artists and thinkers.

Each month we choose a selection of titles that we think you will find stimulating and satisfying to read. So come back to the Monthly Selections section of our website regularly.

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