Thinking Out Loud

October 28, 2013

Book Non-Review: Selling Water by the River

I’m really grateful that the exposure of this blog — while nothing compared to some of the über-bloggers — has allowed me to be so bold as to ask publishers for review copies and get a favorable response. It’s sure an improvement from the pre-blog days when I would simply buy the books and then review them on the newsletter from which Thinking Out Loud emerged.

Selling-Water-by-the-RiverJericho Books is a division of Hachette Book Group, a large publishing concern which has been making increasing inroads into the Christian publishing market, including signing some pretty big names to their Faithwords imprint.  Hachette, or HBC, is a big deal. They probably get a lot of requests for review copies, so they simply ignored me — several times over — when I asked to preview Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber.

So I was several chapters into a copy of last year’s Selling Water By The River by Shane Hipps — a copy which fell off a truck, so to speak — that I realized this was also a Jericho title that I couldn’t really give a full review to under the circumstances.  So I’ll be brief, and let some others do the heavy lifting.

Shane Hipps first appeared on my radar with a book called Flickering Pixels that he wrote for Zondervan. Then, he was named associate pastor at Rob Bell’s Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI, but didn’t let his name stand for the lead pastor job after Bell headed west.

I’ve never been totally sure where Hipps fits in on a liberal-conservative theological continuum that proves challenging when mentioning him or people such as Bell and Peter Rollins or even Brian McLaren. My tendency is to want to put people into a box, and Hipps has confounded me a few times. Reading Selling Water By The River, I see some amazing insights into the message of the gospel, not to mention some absolutely great apologetics in the form of analogies and stories that help define the Christian message.

But then I’m never 100% sure what the subtext is; what he means by “Some Christians believe that…” Does that include Hipps himself? The book is bewildering in many ways. One reviewer said,

While I enjoyed this book it isn’t cohesive. It feels like (and I’m pretty sure it is) a collection of sermons or lessons that have been edited and assembled with a loose theme in a semi-logical order. There are a lot of individual moments of wisdom here, but no big kicker. As a result the book leaves a pleasant vague impression, but no lasting impact on me.

Still another reviewer correctly observed:

Hipps has a gift for disentangling the beautiful way of following Jesus from the centuries of cultural and institutional baggage that so often obscure that way.  Hipps contrasts Jesus (the “river”) with Christianity (which he likens to selling water by the river)–insisting that it is the former, not the later, to which we should give our devotion.

however, I grow concerned at the pejorative possibilities where the institutional church is linked to selling.

Yet one more reviewer notes this dichotomy in the book and is very precise in articulating the issue the book raises:

…Herein lies the hierarchy of Shane’s epistemology; experience is less fallible that logic, and is more trustworthy. I’m not sure I totally agree with this hierarchy, but that’s how he navigates this transition from rigid theological dogmatism to real and authentic spirituality (though he probably doesn’t want to use that word).  He says, “[Jesus] wants people to experience God’s love, rather than just think rightly about it.” This is profoundly true and vitally important, but I don’t think that we need to jettison belief into the realm of purely cognitive thought, I think that belief and even disciplined theological reflection can be though of as part of the experience of God, even if it means at times commanding our deeply felt experiential presuppositions into subordination to logical clarity.

I don’t think we need to think of religion and belief in such negative terms. Even if the establishment of the religious institution is not what Christianity is about, certainly our experiences with God in the contexts of community and solitude can be thought of as religious–of an authentically holistic kind of religion. It’s misleading and it might even be arrogant, in light of hundreds of years of church history, for us to come on the scene today and say, “religion, I have no need of you,” as though we somehow exist outside of religion…

(be sure to read the rest of this one!)

And then there was this essay by Karen Spears Zacharias, which I’ll let you read in full.

So… it’s complicated. Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t get a proper review copy of that one. (Nadia’s book, which they probably won’t send this late after release date, is no doubt equally complex.)  I’ll leave the last word to WIllow Creek’s Aaron Niequist:

As you can tell, this book is going to push some buttons.  Fundamentalists will scream as Shane pokes holes in Christianity’s claim to have a monopoly on the Truth, and post-modern, “spiritual but not religious” people will resist his high view and trust in Jesus Christ.  But I think that anyone who makes everyone uncomfortable might be on to something.

I’m not saying that I agree with every single word in “Selling Water By the River”, but here’s why I loved the book and am recommending it to you

(If anyone at Jericho Books wants to make a friend, you know where to find me!)

January 30, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Moses Tablets

This week’s linkelele (you pronounce it like ukelele).

  • Kent Shaffer has gone back through ten years’ worth of charts from The Church Report and Outreach Magazine and has compiled a list of 493 churches to watch on the basis of growth, influence, innovation, church planting and sheer size.
  • This is the one not to miss: The principal figures in the Chick-Fil-A /LGBT conflict last year get together at Dan Cathy’s invitation to Shane Windmeyer and Shane ‘comes out’ (in a different way) at Huffington Post to explain why his organization has dropped the boycott of the fast food restaurants. [HT: Kevin]
  • As a pastor, Andy Stanley was impressed with the ‘pastoral’ side of President Obama following the Newtown tragedy. But when he called him the ‘pastor-in-chief’ many people took it out of context
  • Bobby Schuller is the new television pastor for the Hour of Power, but understandably, donations have dropped.
  • Rick Apperson scores an interview with the 29-year old Liberty University vice president Johnnie Moore, author of Dirty God.
  • And now it’s time for … wait for it … a clergy fashion show. What are the hot trends for clergy vestments this spring?
  • Nadia Bolz Weber is somewhat disappointed that snarkyness and sarcasm aren’t spiritual gifts. Dont read this; click the player to get the audio. (Warning: The church’s yoga classes are mentioned in the sermon.)
  • The man who gave the Christian world talking vegetables has relaunched the Jelly Telly website as Club Jelly Telly, a subscription based site with more than 150 hours of video for kids for only $5 per month. They’ve also added all of the content from the What’s In The Bible series… 
  • …And at his blog, Phil Vischer’s weekly (Tuesday) podcast has a special guest, an associate professor at Wheaton College with a specialty in Christian Education who may or may not have given birth to Phil many years prior. (You’ll just have to listen.)
  • Flashback video of the week is from the veteran ‘Rock ‘n Roll Preacher’ from the Jesus Music days; Chuck Girard sings the much more mellow song Lay Your Burden Down.
  • And speaking of the Jesus People days, another veteran, Kelly Willard is still performing, set to do an Orange County coffee house in February.
  • The 15-year-old son of a former Calvary Chapel pastor has been charged in a murder that included the pastor, his wife and three children. 
  • In a video made months earlier, former Mars Hill Bible Church (Grand Rapids) pastor Shane Hipps previews his now-available book Selling Water By The River. A fuller book rundown is available on the Relevant Magazine podcast.
  • Add a link of your own — insert a recent Christian blog story in the comments…
  • Looking for more?  Visit the Friday Link List at fellow Canadian Kevin Martineau’s blog Shooting The Breeze by clicking the icon below for a recent sample.

Favourite-Links-Friday

January 19, 2013

Weekend Link List

Weekend List Lynx

Weekend List Lynx

Lots of stuff that can’t wait until Wednesday!

  • This one is must reading. Matthew Paul Turner asks former Mars Hill Bible Church pastor Shane Hipps all the questions I would have asked about the church, hell, Love Wins and the man he succeeded at MHBC, Rob Bell.

    “This is one of the biggest misunderstandings.  Rob doesn’t have a position or a concept of hell, he is an artist exploring possibilities and making unexpected connections, not a theologian plotting out a system.  In other words there is nothing to agree or disagree with.  It’s like saying I disagree with that song or that painting.”

    Read more at MPT’s blog.

  • CT’s story of the week concerns gay students at Christian colleges. That’s not a typo.

    “Leaders at Christian colleges and universities around the country told Christianity Today their schools are rethinking the way they address the needs of [same sex attracted] students on campus.”

    Read more at Christianity Today.

  • If you’ve been around the church for any length of time, you might remember “visitation” by pastors and church elders. These days, you’re more likely to get a house call from your doctor.  David Fitch’s guest author Ty Grigg thinks you might not have anybody drop in these days:

    “It is not a cultural norm to have neighbors or even friends over to our homes for dinner.  If we want to be with people, we go out.  The restaurant has replaced the space that home once occupied in society.  Typically, for younger generations (40’s and under), a visit will be at a coffee shop or to grab lunch.  In our suburban isolation, the home is too much of an intimate, sacred space for most non-family members to enter.”

    Read more at Reclaiming the Mission.

Other links:

  • Canadian readers will remember a national pre-Christmas story involving the theft of $2M worth of toys from a Salvation Army warehouse in Toronto. Here’s a follow-up on how the organization is working to protect itself by having a solid ‘whistle-blower’ policy
  • Want a taste of that theological educational experience you missed? RegentRadio.com, the internet broadcasting arm of Regent College, frequently offers free lectures by its professors. Currently it’s wrapping up a twelve-part series with Gordon Fee on the Holy Spirit in Pauline Theology with a new lecture available each day.
  • We linked to this about six months ago, but it’s worth a revisit. Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed links to a 9-minute video where an orthodox priest explains various theories of atonement.
  • Sarnia is a Canadian city across the river from Port Huron, MI.  Pastor Kevin Rodgers blogs at Orphan Age and reminds us how a shared meal is a great way to build community.
  • USA Today religion editor Cathy Lynn Grossman looks at the larger religious issues in Monday’s Presidential inauguration ceremony.
  • A New Jersey substitute teacher is fired for giving a student his personal Bible as a gift after the student kept asking where the saying, “the last shall be first” came from.
  • New blogs we’re watching this week — okay new to us:
  • Talk about California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day: Our closing shot this week is from a Facebook page dedicated to books. The picture combines two of my favorite passions: a day at the beach and reading.

Beach Library

November 14, 2012

Wednesday Link List

These are some of the pages my browser history tells me I visited…

  • Married? So what about other opposite sex friendships? Here’s an answer you may or may not like. Check out the fifth video in this collection at Parchment and Pen. And the other videos, too.
  • An update from Heaven is for Real co-author and dad Todd Burpo on how life has changed, how it’s the same, and the movie version of the book.  
  • A longtime Baptist minister was beaten to death inside his church in suburban Fort Worth, Texas.
  • Rachel Held Evans responds — at length — to Kathy Keller in particular and others in general on accurate Biblical interpretation as it affects her controversial new book. 
  • Martyr’s Prayer is a CD that is also available as a live concert featuring the music of Michael Glen Bell and Duane W. H. Arnold with guests, Phil Keaggy, Glenn Kaiser, Jennifer Knapp, Randy Stonehill, Kemper Crabb, Margaret Becker and others. Learn more here.
  • The picture at right represents my wife’s contribution to this week’s links. Click the image for source.
  • The link you’ll be forwarding to your friends: Someone takes a hidden camera inside Mormon Temple rituals.
  • Go deep: How the belief in annhiliationism diminishes the gospel message.
  • Bookmark this for later: Tyler Braun offers ten things to say to people who are mourning.
  • Another new video from Worship House Media: Check out every Christian cliché you’ve ever heard at Stuff Christians Say..
  • Tony Jones considers Shane Hipps a friend, so his brief review of Selling Water By The River is somewhat telling.
  • Tobymac opener Jamie Grace may be the world’s only musician with Tourette syndrome, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, echolalia, anxiety disorder — and a Grammy nomination. Read the interview.
  • Christianity Today is re-launching the Today’s Christian Woman brand.
  • Congratulations to Canada’s oldest gospel choir, The Toronto Mass Choir, on 25 years of making a joyful noise.
  • A year ago we visited The Likeable Bible — all your favorite verses to be sure — and a year later it’s still online.
  • Retro link to September: John Ortberg looks at the unparalleled life of Jesus in an excerpt from Who Is This Man?

If you’re a Wednesday-only visitor here, be sure to check out the Weekend Link List from Saturday.

August 25, 2012

Kent Dobson Succeeds Rob Bell at Mars Hill Grand Rapids

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:13 am

First, Rob Bell was on the pastoral staff at Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, working under Pastor Ed Dobson. Then he departed to start Mars Hill and as the story goes, launched the first Sunday with over 1,000 present to hear the first of a year long series on Leviticus.  Yes, Leviticus. For one year. “That’s in all the church growth books, right?” Bell has quipped.

This week, Mars Hill Bible Church announced that Ed Dobson’s son, Kent Dobson would assume the senior teaching pastor position. The Dobsons are both no strangers to Mars Hill; the elder often occupying a place in the congregation after leaving Calvary Church, the younger serving as a worship director in the church’s early years.

More details in this Christianity Today story.

Like the person he is replacing, Kent Dobson is no stranger to controversy as outlined in this 2008 local news story.

June 9, 2012

Weekend Link List

Breaking News!

Two major staff transitions at very influential churches to report today:

  • Shane Hipps,  who only recently succeeded Rob Bell as teaching pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids will step down as soon as the church finds a permanent replacement. “I knew instantly my internal shape did not fit the role they created.  But I had to ask the question, is this something God wanted me to change about myself?  Or was I simply not tall enough for this ride?  That is a question easier posed than answered.” 
  • Tony Jones’ response: “While I can understand the Elders’ decision to move in a more conventional direction — with a pastor who does the majority of the preaching — it seems odd that this person will report to the executive director of the church. It makes you wonder: What gifted preacher would come to Mars Hill without also being able to lead the staff?”

And now on to the rest of today’s links.

  • Church break-ins are nothing new, but sixteen in one county of one state just days apart?
  • After years of being told why men hate going to church, we learn that boys hate going to Sunday School.
  • The tour bus of Sanctus Real was involved in a fire early Wednesday morning, destroying the entire bus and resulting in the band losing all of their personal belongings. 
  • Prince Charles dropped by Toronto’s Yonge Street Mission on his recent Canadian tour to hear how charities and businesses are working together to create employment opportunities for young people. (Personal note: The YSM coffee house was the first place I performed as a Christian music artist.)
  • Author and televangelist Creflo Dollar was arrested early Friday on charges involving the choking of his 15-year-old daughter. He was taken into custody at his home and charged with simple battery and cruelty to children.
  • In the last 12 months, over 17 million American adults who don’t regularly attend worship services visited the website of a local church or place of worship according to a recent study.
  • Popular teen’s and women’s author Dannah Gresh on why she’s passing on the opportunity to read Fifty Shades of Gray.
  • A military chaplains’ organization is speaking out against a lesbian ceremony held at a U.S. Army chapel in Louisiana. “While the ceremony was not a marriage, it is clear that this was in fact a marriage-like ceremony…”
  • New York City Pastor and author Tim Keller offers fellow-pastors a behind the scenes look at the ministry philosophy behind Redeemer Presbyterian.
  • Veteran Christian blogger Bill Kinnon joins a disturbing number of people who “no longer” believe in the inerrancy of scripture.
  • Your friends in youth ministry might want to know about this four-week, interactive discipleship program for new Christians.

Devotions Department: After a week at what our British friends would call “the seaside”  Stephen and Brooksyne Weber offer devotional thoughts on some older hymns inspired by the ocean.

September 24, 2011

Rob Bell to Leave Mars Hill Grand Rapids

It’s hard to imagine “the shed” — the large area occupied by the former shopping mall’s former anchor department store in Grandville, Michigan — without Rob Bell and his assortment of props and interactive sermon elements at center stage; but starting in January, 2012, that may become reality with Thursday’s announcement that Bell is leaving the church he founded a dozen years ago.

As things now stand, the majority of Sunday teaching responsibilities would pass to Shane Hipps who came to the church two years ago after pastoring Trinity Mennonite Church in Phoenix, Arizona. Hipps is the author of the Zondervan book, Flickering Pixels, a book about how technology shapes society.

Here is the announcement from the church website:

September 22, 2011

To our community of attendees, listeners, and supporters:

The infamous quote “change is the only constant” certainly holds true at Mars Hill. We have experienced ongoing changes that have improved and transformed—as well as at times unintentionally created tension or heartache within our community. And now, we have another significant change to hold together.

Feeling the call from God to pursue a growing number of strategic opportunities, our founding pastor Rob Bell, has decided to leave Mars Hill in order to devote his full energy to sharing the message of God’s love with a broader audience.

It is with deeply mixed emotions that we announce this transition to you. We have always understood, encouraged, and appreciated the variety of avenues in which Rob’s voice and the message of God’s tremendous love has traveled over the past 12 years. And we are happy and hopeful that as Rob and Kristen venture ahead, they will find increasing opportunity to extend the heartbeat of that message to our world in new and creative ways.

Rob and Kristen started Mars Hill and helped create a church that removes the barriers to meeting Jesus. And while we recognize that no one person defines a community, we acknowledge the impact of Rob’s leadership, creativity, and biblical insights on our lives, and face a deep sadness at the loss of their presence in our community.

Rob will be addressing our community in both Gatherings on Sunday, September 25, to describe his journey and call to pursue a new venture. For the remainder of this year, he will be teaching our Acts Series several times with his last teaching being in December.

As we plan for the future, Shane Hipps will continue to teach our community and we will be inviting other familiar voices to teach on Sundays during the spring of 2012.

We continue to be amazed by the grace and trust of the community we serve. Your voice and heart will be important elements of how we move forward together as a community of believers. We invite you to continue on this journey with us and ask that you would join us in prayer while we carefully discern what lies ahead for the Mars Hill community.

Grace and Peace,
The Elder Team, Ministry Leadership Team, and staff of Mars Hill

The September 25 podcast will be available for download on Tuesday, September 27.

Meanwhile, at RobBell.com, the author/speaker/pastor has announced another road tour for November, “The Fit To Smash Ice Tour” with initial dates in the northeast United States and Toronto.

Have I ever told you the story about the smoke machine at the wedding? Or the time I hit my head and had to be told who I was? Or the one about Eleazar and the elephant?

I didn’t think so. Which means it’s time for a tour. Over the next year or so I’ll be out on the Fit to Smash Ice Tour with the good chance I’ll be somewhere near where you live. As usual it’s several hours of entirely new content I haven’t given before, exploring all the exhilarating ways we stumble and fumble and fail and bleed and limp along and just how good and sacred and thrilling it all is.

I’m hoping to break some new ground on this tour, going places we haven’t gone before. I want you to be inspired, provoked, challenged and moved in all kinds of new ways throughout the evening so that you leave Fit to Smash Ice.

But a caution comes from this voice, quoted at USAToday’s religion online page:

It’s not uncommon for megachurch pastor-authors to consider leaving church leadership, according to Rick Christian, president of Alive Communications, a Colorado Springs, Colo., literary agency that represents megachurch pastors. At a certain point, some feel more like a CEO than a shepherd, Christian said, and can be tempted to leave the headaches behind — especially when they’re making good money from royalties.

But he encourages them to go slow and remember that “there’s something inherently great about the accountability that comes with” leading a congregation. Authors who leave that world incur new risks, he said.

“You can have somebody who leaves for the wrong reasons and becomes a lone ranger,” Christian said. “They’re just running and gunning for the Lord on planes, in hotels, zipping around at 30,000 feet. You can lose touch very quickly.”

Others agree parish life keeps communicators grounded. Elaine Heath, associate professor of evangelism at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology, noted a long history of leaving the parish for wider outreach opportunities — even Methodism founder John Wesley gave up a settled pulpit to be an itinerant preacher.

But in today’s world, she said, book tours and online virtual relationships are not enough to sustain a pastor’s moral authority.


Update – September 26 — “So they loaded up the truck and they moved to Beverly.  Hills that is…”  Okay, R. B. isn’t going to Beverly Hills, but we do know he’s going to California as per this (ABC affiliate) WZZM channel 13 report from his Sunday sermon.

January 27, 2010

The Links Lynx is Back

The Wednesday Link List.    A Thinking Out Loud tradition for at least a few months now…

  • Say what you will about Rob Bell — and I know many of you would jump at the chance — but you’ve never experienced a better transition of a pastor from one church to another than when the people of Trinity Mennonite “gift” Shane Hipps to the people at Mars Hill Grand Rapids.   This link is valid for about ten more weeks, click on the sermon for 01.17.10 and listen to the first ten minutes.
  • Gary Molander also has an excellent post on the above item at the blog It’s Complicated, under the title Pastor Poaching.
  • I was going to include this last week, but hesitated.   First, it’s a six page article and secondly the first page is extremely graphic.   But I think this should be on your must-read list.   It compares a medical condition gynecologists call meno-metrorrhagia, with the condition of the hemorrhaging woman in Mark 5: 25-34, bringing modern science and historical background together to help us understand the passage more fully and also to focus on current conditions in Africa.   Check out “Jesus and the Unclean Woman” by L. Lewis Wall at Christianity Today.
  • This was actually posted to YouTube back in August, but it’s a great moment at the LoveSong reunion when pastor Chuck Smith introduces the song which, in many respects, marked the absolute beginning of today’s Contemporary Christian music.   If you’re into Christian music, this nine minute video shows you how it all began.
  • Jeff McQuilkin considers what it was like putting together a ‘worship show’ each week, from the perspective of someone who is no longer doing so.   Check out “The Show Must Go On” at The Communitas Collective.  (Read Jeff regularly at Losing My Religion.)
  • Jon Acuff is in classic form giving you a chance to rate the bumper sticker(s) on your vehicle(s), not to mention seven great new ones (and one cheesy one) of his own.   Check out Stuff Christians Like #694.  (It took 694 posts to get to bumper stickers?)
  • “If your kids are awake, they’re online.”   Albert Mohler discusses The Online Life of Kids.    Mohler writes well, but it’s not a true blog if you can’t leave comments.
  • The best books of 2009 you’ve never read:  It’s the Christianity Today Book Awards.   The more esoteric and eclectic, the better, right?   How about, as George Costanza might say, ‘book awards for the rest of us?’
  • Check out the various free image files available to your church — see sample at right — from CreativeMYK.com
  • Congratulations to blogger Carlos Whittaker (Ragamuffin Soul) on a deal with Integrity Music.   Check out a few of the songs here.
  • Don’t feel you learn enough reading blogs?   This week’s lynx is actually an Iberian lynx.   Wikipedia says, “It is the most endangered cat species in the world.  According to the conservation group SOS Lynx, if this species died out, it would be the first feline extinction since the Smilodon 10,000 years ago.”   Use that in a conversation in the next 24 hours.
  • I guess it had to happen. Is there anything we do in church life that doesn’t have its own seminar? An upcoming conference offers three workshops for people who staff the church coffee bar.   At least they’ll be well-trained.
  • Here’s a repeat link from six months ago: New Direction in Canada has put together a 4-week DVD curriculum,  Bridging the Gap: Conversations on Befriending Our Gay Neighbors. It includes 3-hours of video content and a 40-page leader guide with reproducible worksheets.   Material on this subject is badly needed.  Guests include Brian McLaren, Bruxy Cavey, Tony Campolo and eight more.   Read more about it, here.
  • He’s a 19 year old college student.   He seems like a good Christian kid.  He wants a tattoo.   Wants to put “Bought With A Price” on it.   Parents say no.   Time for Russell D. Moore at the blog Moore to the Point to sort it out.
  • If you’ve recently joined us, and you’re a woman who has a husband, father, son, brother or boyfriend who is hooked on pornography, check out a resource I wrote a couple of years ago, The Pornography Effect.  It’s a modified blog page where the chapters appear in order; clicking “previous posts” actually yields the next chapters, 7-15.  Takes about 50 minutes to read.
  • Today’s cartoon is from JAW Toons by Jay Allen:

HT for CreativeMYK = Kent Shaffer

No animals were harmed in the making of this week’s link list.  The idea of LoveSong as the true root of contemporary Christian music is open to debate if you consider the Catholic folk masses of the late 1960s, or the influence of Larry Norman.

November 27, 2009

Zondervan Fighting Fires on Several Fronts

If there’s a copy of the NIV in your house, or even a copy of Purpose Driven Life, you know  Zondervan, the Grand Rapids company founded in 1931 by Pat and Bernie Zondervan, now owned by HarperCollins.

But even if you don’t, you would have a hard time escaping mention of the company online during the last 90 days, as it’s been a wild ride for company executives, and especially company president Maurine (Moe) Girkins, pictured at right, who seems to be making a public statement on one front or another every week.    Imagine dealing with all this:

  • The fall announcement that the TNIV translation would be discontinued in favor of a revised NIV.    This re-sparked old debates over the TNIV’s use of gender-neutral language, with some discussion shifting from the anthropos=mankind argument, to the plural vs. singular argument and the translation vs. commentary challenge of Bible translation.   In the process, very few people considered that the much better-loved NIV — as it currently exists –was also being scrubbed in the process.
  • The hiring of Flickering Pixels author Shane Hipps by Mars Hill Bible Church in Zondervan’s hometown, brought Hipps under fire from the discernment ministries who already had their guns aimed at Rob Bell.   It also showcases Zondervan’s willingness to promote next generation authors and give a platform to younger voices — bloggers Jon Acuff and Anne Jackson come to mind — and Emergent church, social justice and missional voices like Brian McLaren, Shane Claiborne or Dan Kimball.   But the downside of this is going to be inexperience at minimum, or more severe controversy as in the next item; and even the hint of heresy from some extreme sides could diminish the value of the Zondervan brand in the eyes of conservative Christians.    The company is caught in the race against other publishers to sign “the next big thing in Christian writing” on the dotted line.   With that comes risk.   While there are more and more authors in the marketplace, Donald Millers don’t grow on trees.
  • The decision to pull Deadly Viper Character Assasins by Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite was probably not easily made.    Taking a title of out distribution is costly and suggests the company wasn’t carefully considering the full ramifications of the book’s content before the presses started rolling.  Most people agree.   Others would say the company got caught in the tide of political correctness and that the book’s Kung-Fu imagery was a valid literary device to express the authors intent.
  • The sale of Youth Specialties to Youthworks was the buzz of the recent National Youth Workers Convention, and it follows the release of Youth Specialties head Mark Oestreicher.   Zondervan will continue to hold the print rights to current and future books and resources.
  • The downward spiral in the marriage of Jon and Kate Gosselin.   Zondervan is the publisher of Multiple Blessings: Surviving and Thriving with Twins and Sextuplets. The story of a young couple who trusted in the ever present hand of a faithful God to provide the strength and courage they needed to face seemingly impossible challenges one day at a time” no doubt pales in the light of their recent separation and Jon’s excesses.    Such is the world of celebrity.   Just ask Thomas Nelson, whose biography of Lynn Spears was put on hold a few years back when Britney’s younger sister became pregnant at a young age.
  • The lawsuit filed last week against Zondervan by Thomas Nelson, alleging copyright infringement in its I-Can-Read series book, The Princess Twins which they say is ripping off the Gigi: God’s Little Princess book and series by Sheila Walsh.  The similarity in the visual appearance of the characters is complicated by — but also somewhat explained by — the fact that both books used the same illustrator.  It also raises the issue of lawsuits among Christians.
  • The September decision to jettison the company’s Pradis Bible software and instead work with other software developers such as Logos, with the result that pastors and seminarians don’t have to have a separate Bible program to utilize Zondervan content.
  • The shunning of the Christian bookstore market in favor of developing an entire series of specialty Bibles for retail giant Wal-Mart may have been the last straw for those stores.   The backlash could continue for several years as customers bring those copies to the Christian stores looking to buy “another one like this one” which store staff will have never seen before.   To further complicate things, the Wal-Mart series piggybacks on several existing Zondervan NIV brands.
  • Uncertainties as to how many copies of the new Glo Bible software will be returned after Christmas.   With four computers in the house — two of them recent — there’s a little concern in our home as to whether or not we can install the program which requires a dual core processor and 18GB of free hard disc space.  My youngest son, who is into gaming, offered me space on his, but it’s hard to find time when he’s not using it.
  • While it’s not a Zondervan title, the company’s sales reps are promoting parent HarperCollins’ release Going Rogue by Sarah Palin in the Christian bookstore market, because of Palin’s unabashed faith commitment.   But Palin is a wild card, and the company can’t afford any backlash from the independent Christian bookstores that still remain.
  • Stuff Christians Like blogger Jon Acuff’s book of the same name is due out from the company in the new year.   The blog is somewhat tame at times — he refused to print two comments by this writer, and I’m not known for being edgy — but takes risks in others.    One of the edgier sections is called “Booty – God – Booty” which frankly discusses the North American penchant for compartmentalizing our lives into the sacred and the profane.    But readers may have to read the section twice to get the illustration, and speaking of illustrations, at least one blogger is upset over this one.

And that’s just a few major items.   I’d love to be a fly on the wall in the Zondervan conference room.  It’s hard to imagine one Christian publisher dealing with so many varied issues at the same time.

I can’t wait to see what surprises the company has in mind for 2010.

Now,  more in the spirit of blogging:  How significant is the name on the spine of a book to you?  Do you note who the publishers are?   Do publisher imprints matter?   Do you have a favorite publisher?

Pictured below, some graphics from the now off-market Deadly Viper Character Assassins:



October 27, 2009

My Blog Has Been Translated Into Another Language

Filed under: blogging — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:43 am

Here’s what I wrote and what they wrote:

SHANE HIPPS TO JOIN MARS HILL

 

The announcement several days ago that Shane Hipps, author of Flickering Pixels (Zondervan) would be leaving Trinity Mennonite Church in Glendale, Arizona to join the teaching staff of Mars Hill Bible  Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan has been greeted with mixed reactions.   In case you don’t know Shane, here’s how his personal website tells it:

Prior to accepting his call as a pastor, Shane was a strategic planner in advertising where he gained experience in understanding media and culture. Much of his time was spent working on the multimillion-dollar communications strategy for Porsche Cars North America.

Several years into his career, he had a “Damascus” experience in which he realized he was spending his life working diligently to perpetuate consumer culture and promote values that ran counter to his most deeply held beliefs. So he left advertising to pursue his long held interest in spirituality and theology.

He went on to earn a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary, and in 2004 accepted a call to serve as Lead Pastor at Trinity.

The heresy-hunting website Apprising Ministries wasted no time — and no love — to proclaim that Hipps joining Rob Bell amounted to “peas in a corrupt spiritual pod;”  mixing the metaphor with a picture of sheep jumping off a cliff.   C’mon guys, tell us what you really think.

I mentioned last week my own concerns with Rob Bell’s recent interview with the Boston Globe.   But the sensationalism of Apprising — a ministry birthed by Ken Silva, a SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) pastor in America — somewhat destroys their credibility.

Instead, I decided to head over to Trinity Mennonite’s website and in particular take the time to listen to Shane’s announcement — it’s not his final sermon — to his church in its entirety.   It was, I believe one of the finest sermons I’ve ever heard where a pastor defines his calling to move on.   And while the sermon was somewhat of an administrative necessity, he alluded to several passages of scripture.

“I can’t resign from this community.  My heart is still here.   I love this community.   …But I have to leave.   So I told them they’ll either have to fire me or send me.   It is my humble wish that somewhere down the road you will be able to send me, because I need you; I carry you with me.”

Several times he tells his congregation that he loves them.   Something you don’t often hear pastors say with this level of emotion.    He tells them that he didn’t “create” anything at Trinity, but simply “named” the giftings that were working within the congregation.

I personally doubt if any of the Apprising Ministries people bothered to listen to that sermon.   They don’t know Shane’s heart.   And based on their resource list, they don’t understand the next generation — or ministry to the next generation — whether labeled emergent, emerging, missional or postmodern.

You can hear the sermon by clicking on the sermon audio page, and selecting Sunday, October 4th.     Take the time to listen as you’re working at your computer for the next half hour.

SHANE HIPPS TO JUNCTION MARS HILL

The proclamation several years ago that Shane Hipps, writer of Flittering Pels ( Zondervan ) would be leaving Threesome Mennonite Church in Glendale, AZ to join the instruction staff of Mars Hill Word Chapel Church in K Rapids, MI holds been recognized with miscellaneous reactions. Just in case you make n’t cognise Shane, here Holds how his personal website states it:

Prior to accepting his call as a curate, Shane was a strategical deviser in advertisement where he derived experience in understanding media and civilisation. Much of his clip was passed working on the multimillion-dollar communications scheme for Porsche Cars North US.

Several eld into his calling, he holded a “ Damascus ” experience in which he realise he was passing his life working diligently to perpetuate consumer civilization and encourage values that ran counter to his most deeply maintained beliefs. So he left advertizement to prosecute his long held involvement in spiritualty and divinity.

He attended to realise a Mdiv from Fuller Theological Seminary, and in 2004 accepted a call to function as Lead Curate at Tercet.

The heresy-hunting site Apprising Ministries squandered no clip and no love to proclaim that Hipps joining Rob Bell amounted to “ peas in a corrupt religious seedcase; ” merging the metaphor with a ikon of sheep leaping forth a drop-off. C’mon cats, say us what you really believe.

I cited last hebdomad my ain concerns with Rob Bell ‘s recent interview with the Boston Earth. But the sensationalism of Apprising a ministry birthed by Cognizance Sylva, a SBC ( Southern Baptist Convention ) parson in America slightly destruct their credibleness.

Alternatively, I determined to head over to Trinity Mennonite’s website and particularly yield the clip to listen to Shane ‘s annunciation it Holds not his last discourse to his church in its entireness. It was, I believe one of the finest discourses I ‘ve ever heard where a parson delimitates his vocation to go on. And while the discourse was slightly of an administrative necessity, he alluded to several transitions of Word.

“ I ca n’t renounce from this community. My bosom is still here. I love this community. … But I should leave. So I sayed them they ‘ll either need to fire me or direct ME It is my lowly wishing that someplace down the route you will be able to direct me, because I involve you; I transport you with me. ”

Several times he states his fold that he loves them. Something you make n’t oftentimes hear rectors state with this grade of emotion. He says them that he maked n’t “ make ” anything at Three, but only “ called ” the giftings that were working within the faithful.

I personally doubt if any of the Apprising Ministries people troubled to listen to it discourse. They make n’t cognize Shane ‘s bosom. And based on their resource listing, they make n’t understand the following contemporaries or ministry to the following contemporaries whether labeled emergent, emerging, missionary or postmodernist.

You can hear the preaching by snapping on the sermon audio page , and taking Sun, Oct Fourth. Take the clip to listen as you ‘re work on your computer for the following half hr.

But the question is, “Who are they?”   The person in question blogs on Windows Live, which means I can’t even leave a comment.   He (or she) ripped off the entire article including the pictures, the links and even the formatting.    I can’t decide if this is funny or pathetic.  Or someone’s high school homework exercise.    A mention would be nice.

If you have Hotmail or Windows Live, and want to suggest that credit where credit is due would be appropriate, you can link to it here.

Or maybe someone can just tell me what language it is I’ve been translated into…

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