For the love of books
Hearts & Minds Bookstore is in Dallastown, PA, so if you ever pass through that area be certain to stop in. Though I am not a prophet, I can state categorically that 1) you will spend money there, and 2) you won’t regret it. Byron and Beth Borger, the proprietors, may not be there—they are sometimes on the road hosting book tables at conferences and retreats, but their staff is efficient, knowledgeable and equipped with a desire to serve. Hearts & Minds is a place for book lovers who have a passion not just for knowledge but also for wisdom. If you’ve spent time on Ransom’s website or read our publications you’ll have noticed a little ad for them—the store sponsors a brisk mail order business as well. We love Hearts & Minds, and admire Byron and Beth for their faithfulness in loving and promoting good books.
The first reason I love Hearts & Minds is that they are committed to the idea that Christianity is true, and therefore has something significant to say to every aspect of life, culture and human endeavor. Nothing escapes Christ’s claim to be Lord of all so the truth of God’s word is truth about all of reality.
But perhaps a brief story is in order.
The first time I met Byron Borger he was standing beside a huge table. It was piled so high with all sorts of books the idea struck me that if I hung around a bit I might witness it collapse under the sheer weight of all those stacks. It didn’t, but what did happen was even more fascinating.
The book table was in the lobby of a hotel in Pittsburgh where a student conference, Jubilee, was underway. The conference is designed around a simple yet profound idea: because Christianity is true it speaks intelligently and creatively to every part of life and reality. I was there as a speaker; Byron was there to offer books that would help students think Christianly about whatever they were studying, whatever they were pursuing as a vocation. As I waited for the table to collapse, a student walked up and told Byron what he was studying. I don’t remember what the subject was except that it was a field so obscure and rarified that when I was a student I found the course descriptions in that department to be incomprehensible. Could Byron, the student asked, recommend any books that would help him pursue his coursework from a Christian perspective? Absolutely, Byron replied, and began rummaging through the stacks of books until he found what he was looking for. The student walked away with an armful of books, delighted.
After the student walked away with his purchase, I told Byron I was looking for something new to read that would stretch me. I have just the thing, Byron said with obvious delight, walked to the other end of the table, rummaged in one of the piles, pulled out a slim book and handed it to me. It was a book on architecture by an atheist, he told me, and was must reading. Beautifully written, nicely illustrated and full of insight. So I bought it, read it and he was right, on all counts.
The second reason I love Hearts & Minds is that Byron not only reads an enormous number of books, he writes thoughtful, interesting, helpful reviews. His reviews are called Book Notes and can be found on the Hearts & Minds website (www.heartsandmindsbooks.com). Taken together, Byron’s Book Notes are like a running commentary on what to read if you want to think Christianly about something.
The Borgers’ faithfulness over many decades prompted Ned Bustard of Square Halo Books to propose publishing a festschrift in their honor. The author of each chapter was to use Byron’s Book Notes as a guide. We were write a chapter—I was invited to submit a chapter—on a topic in which we have expertise and list the books we would recommend if someone wants to explore that topic from a distinctly Christian perspective. Here are the twenty topics (and authors) included in A Book for Hearts & Minds:
Reading (Byron Borger)
Art (Ned Bustard)
Biblical Studies (Calvin Seerveld)
Cooking (Andi Ashworth)
Creation Care (Byron Borger)
Creative Nonfiction (Gregory Wolfe)
Education (G. Tyler Fischer)
Ethics (David P. Gushee)
Fantasy (Matthew Dickerson
Film (Denis Haack)
History (Daniel Spanjer)
Law (Mike Schutt)
Literature (Karen Swallow Prior)
New Testament Studies (N. T. Wright)
Poetry (Aaron Belz)
Politics (Eric Bryan)
Science (Michael Kucks)
Sociology (Bradshaw Frey)
Urban Planning (Tom Becker)
Vocation (Steve Garber)
So, here is what I think.
You will find A Book for Hearts & Minds helpful if you are around people who wonder what to read to think Christianly about these aspects of life and culture. You may want to use it to help broaden your own understanding of these things as a believer. We all are around young adults who need a firm biblical foundation as they discover and move out in their various callings and vocations. And, it goes without saying you will want a copy to know what I wrote about film.
Book recommended: A Book for Hearts & Minds: What You Should Read and Whyedited by Ned Bustard (Baltimore, MD: Square Halo Books; 2017) 218 pages.