What Books Should We Suggest at Urbana 12?

Culture Making by Andy Crouch

Culture Making by Andy Crouch – a book likely to remain on our list for Urbana 12

In only 15 days, ESN will be joining 18,000 of our closest friends at Urbana 12, InterVarsity’s triennial missions conference. As in years past, we’ll have an exhibitor table, and I’ll be hosting a seminar on “Serving Christ as a Professor.”

One of my favorite things about conferences is learning about new books — or, even better, old books that I somehow hadn’t known about. Most of the attendees at Urbana are undergraduates, so the conference is a great opportunity to send them away with a fresh reading list for the new year.

What books about the life of the mind, the academy, and spiritual formation should we recommend? Here are the ones we suggested at Urbana 09. Do you have any to add?

Note: Several of the books below feature links to Amazon, but we strongly recommend you order from “friend of ESN” Hearts and Minds Books or the local bookstore of your choice. 


The Life of the Mind

Kelly Monroe Kullberg, Finding God at Harvard (Rev. Ed., IVP, 2007)

C. S. Lewis, “Learning in War-Time,” published in The Weight of Glory

, Mere Christianity (Available in many editions)

Charles Malik, A Christian Critique of the University (IVP, 1982) (out of print, sadly)

Mark Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Eerdmans, 1994)

James Sire, Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling (IVP, 2000)

, The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, 5th Ed. (IVP, 2009)

John Stott, Your Mind Matters (2nd Ed., IVP, 2006) – An ESN Book Club selection!

Spiritual Formation

Bobby Gross, Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God (IVP, 2009)

Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming (Image, 1994)

J. I. Packer, Knowing God (Anniversary Edition, IVP, 1993)

James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation (Baker, 2009)

Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart (NavPress, 2002)

, The Spirit of the Disciplines (HarperSanFrancisco, 1988)

Vocation and Calling

Andy Crouch, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling (IVP, 2008)

Os Guinness, The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose in Your Life (Thomas Nelson, 2003)

Mary Poplin, Finding Calcutta: What Mother Teresa Taught Me About Meaningful Work and Service (IVP, 2008)

Gordon Smith, Courage and Calling: Embracing Your God-Given Potential (Rev. ed., IVP, 2011)

Flourishing in the Academy

Paul Anderson, ed. Professors Who Believe: The Spiritual Journeys of Christian Faculty (IVP, 1998)

Robert Boice, Advice for New Faculty Members (Allyn & Bacon, 2000)

The Chronicle of Higher Education (especially the “On Hiring” section)

Steven Garber, The Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief And Behavior, (2nd Ed., IVP, 2007)

James Lang, Life on the Tenure Track: Lessons from the First Year (Johns Hopkins, 2005)

George Marsden, The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship (Oxford, 1998) – An ESN Book Club selection!

Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow, The Last Lecture (Hyperion, 2008)

Robert L. Peters, Getting What You Came For: The Smart Student’s Guide to Earning an M.A. or a Ph.D. (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1997)


What would you add?


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Micheal Hickerson

The former Associate Director for the Emerging Scholars Network, Micheal lives in Cincinnati with his wife and three children and works as a web manager for a national storage and organization company. He writes about work, vocation, and finding meaning in what you do at No Small Actors.

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  • dmwilliams83@gmail.com'
    dmwilliams83 commented on December 11, 2012 Reply

    1. Subverting Global Myths by Vinoth Ramachandra
    2. The Decline of the Secular University by C. John Somerville
    3. Foolishness to the Greeks by Leslie Newbigin
    4. Reason within the Bounds of Religion by Nicholas Wolterstorff

  • simp.benjamin@gmail.com'
    Ben Simpson commented on December 11, 2012 Reply

    If you’re going to place Dallas Willard’s Renovation and Spirit on the list, you might as well include Divine Conspiracy, which is the apex of his work.

  • BrianHowell@twitter.example.com'
    BrianHowell (@BrianHowell) commented on December 11, 2012 Reply

    I would add To Change the World, by James Davidson Hunter.

  • abyoung@snu.edu'
    Alan Young commented on December 11, 2012 Reply

    I second the Dallas Willard references by Ben Simpson. But I would add Os Guinness’ “The Call”. I’ve used that with undergraduate students quite a bit, and it seems quite useful to them in figuring out what the whole idea of “calling” means.

  • dloomis@ilstu.edu'
    David Loomis commented on December 11, 2012 Reply

    Think by John Piper

  • Tom Grosh IV commented on December 11, 2012 Reply

    “A friend in philosophy who teaches in California” passed along to me:

    – Gordon T. Smith’s “Courage and Calling”
    – Dallas Willard’s “Hearing God”
    – Kristina Lacelle-Peterson, “Liberating Tradition” (on women’s identity and vocation)
    – Os Guinness’ “The Call”
    – Doug Schuurman’s “Vocation: Discerning Our Callings in Life”

    To which I’d add, don’t forget Greg Jao’s new “Your Mind’s Mission” 🙂

  • drandrewwalsh@gmail.com'
    Andy Walsh commented on December 11, 2012 Reply

    “Introverts in the Church” might be a blessing to those seeking solace at the book table from the extrovert extravaganza that a conference like Urbana can feel like.

  • vosburg@hmc.edu'
    David Vosburg commented on December 12, 2012 Reply

    _The Vocation of the Christian Scholar_ by Richard Hughes
    _Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind_ by Mark Noll
    _The Reason for God_ by Tim Keller
    _The Lost World of Genesis One_ by John Walton
    _Coming to Peace with Science_ by Darrel Falk
    _Following Jesus in the Real World_ by Rich Lamb
    _Love is an Orientation_ by Andrew Marin
    a film: “From the Dust: Conversations in Creation” by Highway Media

  • mikehickerson@gmail.com'
    Micheal Hickerson commented on December 12, 2012 Reply

    Great suggestions, everyone! Thank you! Via email, Jim Sire emphasized the importance of Steve Garber’s Fabric of Faithfulness, and another reader suggested Stanley Hauerwas’s memoir, Hannah’s Child.

  • rjcox111@comcast.net'
    Richard J. Cox, University of Pittsburgh commented on December 12, 2012 Reply

    Mark Noll, Jesus and the Life of the Mind (Eerdmans, 2011) — an update to his Scandal

    Douglas V. Henry and Michael D. Beaty, eds., Christianity and the Soul of the University: Faith as a Foundation for Intellectual Community (Grand Rapids, MI: BakerAcademic, 2006).

    Jaroslav Pelikan, The Idea of the University: A Reexamination (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992). Read with John Henry Newman’s 19th century classic, The Idea of the University

    George Marsden, The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).

    Derek Bok, Universities in the Marketplace: The Commercialization of Higher Education (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003).

    Gaye Tuchman, Wannabe U: Inside the Corporate University (Chicago: University of
    Chicago Press, 2009).

    Steven M. Cahn, Saints and Scamps: Ethics in Academia, 25th Anniversary Edition
    (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2011)

  • Thomas B. Grosh IV commented on December 12, 2012 Reply

    A significant word from a young faculty friend which strikes a deep chord with me. I desire us to wrestle with this faculty’s suggestion.

    “Thomas, the lists posted so far make me wonder if we evangelicals have a truncated sense of church history. Let me reiterate my suggestion that Augustine’s _Confessions_ should top the list. After that, I suggest that Christian scholars familiarize themselves with the historic creeds of the church. Jaroslav Pelikan and Henry Bettenson have good compilations of early church documents. The Apologies of Justin Martyr and Athenagoras are all brief and worth reflecting on. The Didascalion of Hugh of St Victor is a thought-provoking vision of what the academy could look like and what it would mean for Christian scholars to think as whole, integrated persons.

    C.S. Lewis’ opening chapter to *English Literature In The Sixteenth Century* is very helpful in thinking about why the academy looks the way it does today.

    Beyond that, I would advocate Christian scholars to read things together, and to read *good fiction* together. Lewis and Tolkien knew the importance of this. Why not urge them to read together Graham Greene’s *The Power And The Glory,* for instance? — 12/12/2012, 2:22 pm.

    Maybe this would be worth another post — “A Great Books” conversation? More from me later, currently at Q’s “Cultural Renewal: Understanding the Gospel’s Relationship to Society,” http://www.qideas.org/event/renewal/, with Andy Crouch and Tim Keller.

  • vosburg@hmc.edu'
    David Vosburg commented on December 12, 2012 Reply

    I’d also add “Faculty Salt” by John Alexander. It inspired me greatly when I first read it at Urbana 2000, and I give copies away frequently.

  • marshall.joanne@gmail.com'
    Joanne commented on December 12, 2012 Reply

    _The Myth of Certainty_ by Daniel Taylor.

  • brenda.hey@gmail.com'
    bdheyink commented on December 14, 2012 Reply

    I’d recommend Living on the Boundaries: Evangelical women, feminism, and the Theological Academy (IVP Academic, 2006). Audience being not only females but also all evangelicals going into academic studies in theology. The book captures well the struggles that evangelicals (males and females) encounter when they go into the theological academy. Evangelics in the academy are often seen as not academic enough (too fundamentalist), whereas evangelicals who’ve studied in the theological academy are often seen as too liberal.

  • hannaheag@comcast.net'
    Hannah commented on December 26, 2012 Reply

    I’d be interested in a “Great Books” conversation along these lines. I realize at this point it wouldn’t necessarily be focused on Urbana 2012, but I’m intrigued by the idea.

    • mikehickerson@gmail.com'
      Micheal Hickerson commented on December 28, 2012 Reply

      Great idea, Hannah! Tom and I talked about that today, and we may do a series like that in the new year.

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