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Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling Paperback – July 5, 2000


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In some Christian denominations the intellectual life is looked at askance; anything beyond basic literacy is regarded as presumptuous. Sire (lecturer, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship; The Universe Next Door) argues that the intellectual lifeDa life of thinking and thinking wellDcan be a calling for some. Indeed, it is, to a certain extent, a calling for all Christians. "Thinking," he notes, "is integral to our call to be what God wants us to be." The author does a fine job of defending and promoting a Christian intellectual life, one that "does the truth." And the truth for Sire is that revealed in Jesus Christ. Writing in the tradition of John Henry Newman, to whom he devotes a chapter, and A.D. Sertillanges, the author defines the habits required of the Christian intellectual. Recommended for seminary and larger public libraries.DAugustine J. Curley, Newark Abbey, NJ
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Sire shoots down the theory that to be a Christian and an intellectual is oxymoronic. What does it mean to be an intellectual? he asks. What does it mean to think well and responsibly? He examines how to cultivate intellectual virtues and disciplines in the ongoing pursuit of knowledge. He defines what an intellectual is--one who is in love with ideas is the short explanation--and ultimately challenges Christians to accept the responsibility to "think well." An intellectual, he notes, must be fairly intelligent, have access to a good education, and be able to communicate effectively. A Christian intellectual is all that and, in addition, directs every act and every thought to the glory of God. More than that, Christian intellectuals must do as they say--hypocrisy is not an option--and must act on what they claim to know to be the truth. The qualities of an intellectual mind include a passion for truth, a passion for holiness, and constancy, patience, and perseverance. June Sawyers
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 263 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books; First Edition edition (July 5, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830822739
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830822737
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,361 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born on a ranch on the rim of the Nebraska Sandhills, James W. Sire has been an officer in the Army, a college professor of English literature, philosophy and theology, the chief editor of InterVarsity Press (a Christian publisher of books for thoughtful readers), a lecturer at over two hundred universities in the U.S., Canada, Eastern and Western Europe and Asia, and the author of twenty books on literature, philosophy and the Christian faith. His book The Universe Next Door, published in 1976 and now in its fifth edition, has sold over 350,000 copies and has been translated into 18 foreign languages. He holds a B.A. in chemistry and English from the University of Nebraska, an M.A. in English from Washington State College (now University) and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Missouri. His memoir is The Rim of the Sandhills (eBook on Kindle and Nook). His most recent book is Echoes of a Voice (Cascade, 2014), an in-depth analysis of signals of transcendence, those sudden, unbidden, unexpected, strange experiences that point to the Presence of a realm beyond the material.


Customer Reviews

Its an ok read but I think there are better works out there ie.
Spumoni
In chapter three, the author finally turns to the themes he presents best and begins to achieve the kind of resonance that characterizes that earlier volume.
Wesley L. Janssen
This is an important book because of the long history of anti-intellectualism that has been and continues to be a part of Evangelical Christianity.
Daniel L. Marler

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 66 people found the following review helpful By E. D. Seaman on November 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
Our society has often labeled Christians as non-thinking weaklings who need a crutch to make it through life. Unfortunately many proclaimed Christians often mirror such an image, perhaps because they are Christian in name only and have never experienced spiritual rebirth or maybe they have been led to believe 'blind faith' is the only faith. Thankfully, James W. Sire reminds all of us that Christians too have a mind, and True Christians also have the Truth with which to engage a world hostile to Christianity.
Sire divides the book into ten chapters, each dealing with an aspect of the intellect. The first chapter "Confessions Of An Intellectual Wannabe" will strike a chord with many wannabe intellectuals, such as this reviewer. The next two chapters explore the thought of John Henry Newman, a true intellectual that we all wannabe! The next five chapters explain what 'thinking' actually feels like and how to develop the intellect--spiritual disciplines for the mind. One of the most profound exercises is that of lectio divina. Warning don't try this without supervision, unless of course you already know the Truth--Jesus Christ.
Christ as an intellectual, yes He was and still is the smartest man to ever walk the earth--think about it, is discussed in chapter nine. The final chapter discusses the responsibility of all us Christian intellects and wannabe intellects. Sire handles a deep subject with care and a delicate wit. For those who realize that Jesus Christ is the Truth and are ready to engage an intellectual world hostile to True Christianity this is the book for you. If you don't think your smart enough, join the fight anyway, all intellectual wannabes are welcome!
Semper fi & agape, Ed D.
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Groothuis on March 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
Few contemporary evangelical writers have so profitably and profoundly explored the meaning and implications of the Christian worldview and mind as James Sire. Now his wise, well-informed, and witty book puts us even further in his debt. The chapter, "Jesus, the Reasoner," is worth the price of the book. It demonstrates that Jesus prized and exemplified the life of the mind.
Be sure to read Dr. Sire's other books on related themes: "The Universe Next Door, 3rd ed.," "Why Should Anyone Believe Anything at All?," and "Discipleship of the Mind."
Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., Denver Seminary.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A. Parker on July 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
Of all "Christian World View" books published in the last twenty years, this reigns supreme. Though certainly never intended to be practical or prescriptive, Sire provides the greatest service to 'Intellectual Wannabes' by discussing exactly what it means to be a Christian intellectual. His own history provides an able model for aspiring thinkers. However, the real inspiration lies in holding up Jesus as the ultimate thinker. Jesus' incontrovertible logic is emphasized. Jesus' mind and wit bolsters our own courage to stand up for His truth in a world flailing for standards of verity. Via his discussion of wholistic disciplines, Sire encourages engaging and stretching the mind inside a wider integration of being (mind, body, soul, and spirit). He spurs us on to acquire holiness and to live the truth beyond mere mental ascent. Sire encourages us to develop the intellectual habits necessary to go forth and live truth.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Wesley L. Janssen VINE VOICE on December 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
To my mind, such as it is, Sire's Habits of the Mind begins rather feebly -- the author relates personal experiences of coming of age in a salt-of-the-earth and decidedly "anti-intellectual" home environment. He describes his college-aged self as an "intellectual wannabe". I nearly dismissed the book after the first few paragraphs, but, entirely based on my high opinion of the author's The Universe Next Door, I pressed on. In chapter three, the author finally turns to the themes he presents best and begins to achieve the kind of resonance that characterizes that earlier volume. Opening the tenth (final) chapter, examining the concept of intellectual responsibility, Sire reflects on his "wannabe" confession and offers another: "Being an intellectual is after all . . . nothing to particularly admire or condemn."
This of ideology: "Truth cannot be constructed. To live in ideology is, as [Vaclav] Havel so eloquently reminds us, inevitably to live in a lie. Truth can only be revealed. We cannot be creators, only receptors."
And this of humility: "Without [humility] every virtue begins to become a vice. A passion for truth becomes a certitude that we . . . now possess it. . . Lack of humility -- arrogance -- is, in fact, one of the most frequent charges against intellectuals. Sometimes this charge can not be avoided . . . The real problem, however, is not the charge that you are arrogant but the distinct possibility that you actually are. Self-examination is always in order."
Quoting Richard John Neuhaus: "Few things have contributed so powerfully to the unbelief of the modern and postmodern world as the pretension of Christians to know more than we do. . .
Read more ›
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Trent Dougherty on July 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
If I could give this book 10 out of 5 stars I'd do it! I'm going to keep this short, because I could easily overdo it on this book. Suffice it to say that if I could force everyone in Christendom to read just one book in there whole lives it would be this book. If I had Bill Gates' money I would by millions of copies of this book and send one to every pastor, Priest, and parishioner in the English-speaking world. Then I'd have it translated into every known tongue and have them sent overseas. I simply don't recommend books with any greater enthusiasm. I only had one person every not like this book and he was a cocky grad student who went into it thinking he was reading analytic philosophy - duh! The book is called Habit's of the *Mind* but it aims at the *heart*. People usually don't form good *mental* habits until they get a *passion* for the Truth. Sire also draws on current research in virtue epistemology (don't worry about the terms) to show that or *character* can help or hinder us in the search for Truth as much as our IQ's. The book is chock-a-block full of great quotations. It is written for the unsophisticated but can be appreciated by anyone. I'm a philosophy instructor at a large research university and I love this book for its inspirational character. I just can't say enough good things about this book. Read it and start thinking rightly today!
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