Archives For Service


A Review of

Thrift Store Saints:
Meeting Jesus 25 Cents At a Time
Jane Knuth.
Paperback: Loyola Press, 2010.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Michelle Van Loon.

An eighth-grade math teacher living in Kalamazoo, MI tried stopping by her local St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop in 1995 on a couple of occasions in order to buy a gift for her daughter’s First Communion, but the store’s lights were off and its doors locked each time she attempted to visit. When Jane Knuth finally finds the store open, she grumbles to one of the staffers about her repeated encounters with the shop’s “Closed” sign. Eighty-two year old Dorothy explains that the store’s business hours are limited by the availability of its elderly volunteer staff, and invites Knuth to consider becoming part of the solution by becoming part of the store’s team.

Knuth had been a regular churchgoer, but as she embraced both the ministry of the Vincentians* and the community she found in her Kalamazoo St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop, her faith came alive in ways she never could have dreamed when she first walked into the store fifteen years ago. Thrift Store Saints offers readers 19 short chapters detailing her involvement with the Vincentians rich ministry to “the least of these” in a forgotten corner of Kalamazoo.

Continue Reading…


Last week, we ran an excerpt of

by Stanley Hauerwas and Jean Vanier.

This week, we bring you the newest volume in the same
Resources for Reconciliation Series:

Chris Heuertz and Christine Pohl.
Paperback: IVP Books, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]


Ultra-brief Reviews
By Chris Smith

The Green Psalter: Resources for an Ecological Spirituality.
Arthur Walker-Jones.

Paperback: Fortress Press, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Small Footprint, Big Handprint:
How to Live Simply and Love Extravagantly
Tri Robinson.

Paperback: Ampelon Publishing, 2008.
Buy now: [  ]

 The Green Psalter by Arthur Walker-Jones is a new book from Fortress Press that probes the Psalms for a deep wealth of “resources for an ecological spirituality.”  The Psalms have long served as the backbone of Judaic and Christian worship, thus it is quite fitting as we worship a God who is reconciling all creation to have our attention turned to the broader ecological themes that have been latent in the Psalms since they were originally conceived in the ancient Israelite people.  There are strong themes of peace, justice and liberation here; perhaps the most striking chapter was the final one on ecojustice in hymn psalms.  Of these psalms, Walker writes: “From an ecological perspective, these psalms are significant because they identify God with creation, and creation is alive, active, interrelated, and has an intrinsic worth and a voice” (134).  If you long to more holistic forms of worship in the church, then you will want to be sure to find a copy of this book and study it well!

Despite its hokey title, Tri Robinson’s little book Small Footprint, Big Handprint: How Live Simply and Love Extravagantly is an excellent book with which to initiate conversation about a more holistic faith in Christ – it even has discussion questions at the end of each chapter!  While the sections on lessening our footprint were very good, especially the ones on reducing the complexity of our lives, the one on the “big handprint” (i.e., “making a lasting positive impact”) seemed to be very individualistically focused and raised a whole bunch of tricky theological and ethical questions about service and impact.  This would be an excellent book for striking up a conversation among those who haven’t though too much about the significance of HOW we live as Christians, especially in a Sunday school class or bible study group.


A Brief Review of
To Serve God and Wal-Mart:
The Making of Christian Free Enterprise

Hardback: Harvard UP, 2009.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

Bethany Moreton has given us, in her first book To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The making of Christian Free Enterprise, the richly told history of Wal-Mart’s development from a single store in Rogers, Arkansas to the largest corporation in the world (which if it were an independent nation, would have an economy ranking thirtieth largest in the world).  Do not be fooled, however, this new book is not an anti-Wal-Mart rant but rather a complex tale born out of Moreton’s deep love for the Ozark region in which Wal-Mart has its roots and her empathy for the characters in this story, particularly the women who, seeking part-time jobs in the waning of the Ozarks’ agrarian economy, were essential to Wal-Mart’s early success by bearing the bulk of the day-to-day service work in the stores.  While there is much in To Serve God And Wal-Mart that would commend it to general audiences as a significant work of history and social commentary, I believe it is essential reading for socially-engaged Christians, as – perhaps unintentionally – a cautionary tale about  the dangers of baptizing the existing social order as “Christian.”  Continue Reading…


I just finished reading Bethany Moreton’s TO SERVE GOD AND WAL-MART: THE MAKING OF CHRISTIAN FREE ENTERPRISE. I highly recommend this book both as a wonderfully-written work of history and social criticism, and — probably more importantly — a case study in the dangers of baptizing the social order as Christian.

BookTV Video Interview with
Bethany Moreton


This video, unfortunately not embeddable, is an hour long, but well-worth your time! A great intro to the book!