Thinking Out Loud

December 30, 2020

Their Personal Brand was Damaged in 2020

It wasn’t a good year for some people. Whether due to political allegiances, marital collapses or financial improprieties, the year was filled with missteps that damaged the brand of many key authors, pastors and leaders. The election and the pandemic proved to be catalysts for revealing some people’s true character. And we didn’t even consider the implications of the discussions that arose in the wake of Black Lives Matter.

Also, an apology to readers outside the U.S. that this is so America-centric. But then again, what happened in the States was often the lead news item on nightly roundups in Canada, the UK and Europe. If they didn’t know already, reporters in every country had to learn overnight how to report on the U.S. political system and election system. These are names you probably recognize anyway. There were many others not included.

Here’s my recap:

Ravi Zacharias – The real tragedy here is that so much has come to light since his passing, leaving him no opportunity to respond or to repent. The legacy of his namesake ministry has been damaged in the process. It was more than just the exaggeration of academic credentials. It was about serious sexual misconduct. RZIM needs to do what they haven’t done so far: Act quickly. Rename the ministry in Canada and the U.S. as well as in Europe where it’s known as Zacharias Trust. Second, replace Ravi as the “voice” of the Let My People Think radio feature with some of the many gifted apologists currently on its speaker roster.

Eric Metaxas – An Australian blogger wrote, “Reading Metaxas’ tweets is like watching a man slowly drive his career as a public intellectual over a cliff.” In 2020, the author and talk show host did what so many did, suspending all reason and logic for an unqualified backing of Donald J. Trump. His “losing it” seemed to have no limits toward the end of the year, with the alleged sucker punch of a protester outside a RNC event, and his theft of Pentatonix’ audio track for his “Biden Did You Know?” video which YouTube appropriately removed a day later.

John Ortberg – Following an investigation into the popular author and pastor’s knowledge concerning a volunteer at Menlo Church which some argued should not have been permitted to be involved in children’s ministry there due to a possible attraction to minors, Ortberg was reinstated in March only to be outed in June by a family member who said that the pastor and author was actually protecting the identity of a different family member. That was all it took to pave the way for a final farewell.

Dave Ramsay – The self-proclaimed Christian financial guru’s complete disregard for health guidance dealing with the pandemic opened up a broader discussion and revealed what might be considered a somewhat toxic workplace.

Jerry Falwell, Jr. – Again, another person whose credibility was destroyed by unwavering support for Trump, which then opened up further investigation resulting in revelations of Falwell and his wife participating in what were, at the very least, some unusually close relationships involving other people. Current students and alumni are fighting to see his name distanced from Liberty University in order to preserve the value of the education they received. Falwell brought some of this on himself however, posting some pictures one might have wanted to keep private, which in itself showed a complete lack of discernment and wisdom.

Jim Bakker – Long before the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, Bakker had the cure for Coronavirus and was willing to sell it to you. Too bad it took the NIH (in the US) or NHS (in the UK) so many months to catch up to what Bakker already knew. His actions also cast a shadow on everyone who has ever been a guest on The Jim Bakker Show.

John MacArthur – Defying California state law, MacArthur’s Grace Church packed in unmasked worshipers during Covid-19’s second wave, insisting that God requires us to worship together and be assembled together. In many respects, this is an incomplete theological understanding of what it means to be united and what it means to be the church. Should MacArthur be on this list, or were his actions in 2020 simply a continuation of what he’s always been?

Franklin Graham – Another Trump election casualty, Graham’s situation collecting salaries from both the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse was thrust back into the spotlight. Being a Graham, expectations of character standards are always high and some are suggesting that Franklin doesn’t even come remotely close.

Jay Sekulow and Family – By December it’s easy to forget stories that were circulating in January, but in that month Ministry Watch reported on the salaries paid to execs of ministry organizations and the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) turned up repeatedly in the list. Jay Sekulow was #3 on the list at $1,421,188, while “spokesperson” Kim Sekulow was #5 with $1,053,432, and Gary Sekulow, CEO/COO was #7 at $985,847. (For some ministries the most recent year listed was several years old.) The money paid to some ministry leaders is an absolute atrocity.

Focus on the Family – Another story from earlier in the year, this popular organization declared that they were actually a church and as such not required to do any public reporting of their income or executive salaries. See our January article for all the ridiculous defenses given for this action.

Mark Dever – The ecclesiology in general and church governance — and Covenant Membership in particular — of the 9 Marks church group caused one watchdog blogger to write, “…they appear to be in danger of redefining what constitutes the church. They have invented a system that is full of rules and regulations, many of which are conjecture. Yes, they quote Scripture but they often interpret Scripture through their own peculiar lens.” Just another example of the Calvinist/Reformed movement slowly parting ways with mainstream Christianity.

Carl Lentz – Not sure that the greater damage resulting from Lentz’ confessed affair is to him or to the leadership of Hillsong. Especially Hillsong’s North American expansion efforts. Maybe I should have listed Brian and Bobbie Houston instead. What did they know and when did they know it? Still, give it a year or two and I would expect to see Lentz surface heading another church somewhere.

Paula White – As a post-Charismatic, I have no objective problem with speaking in tongues, but feel that Trump’s “Spiritual Advisor” chose neither the right time or the right place. And what happened to the “angels from Africa?” Are they still on their way? What were they doing there in the first place? The public needs to know. Whatever damage Graham, Falwell and Metaxas did to Evangelicals, White did the same to her fellow Charismatics and Pentecostals.

Jen and Brandon Hatmaker – In some respects, I feel bad isolating this one ministry couple, so allow them to serve as stand-ins for all those Christian pastors whose marriages didn’t make it to the finish line.

Rachel and Dave Hollis – Ditto. Rachel is author of the huge publishing success, Girl Wash Your Face which only saw mediocre sales through some Christian channels despite being a national bestseller. Again, on this list as a stand-in for other Christian authors with a similar 2020 separation story.

Robert Jeffress – Another of the “court Evangelicals,” this SBC megachurch pastor and frequent guest on FOX-TV was a reminder of why churches and pastors should stay away from politics. It will take years for the damage done to the capital “C” Church to recover, and some say the name Evangelical is tarnished permanently.Meanwhile the SBC continues to report declines in baptisms and membership, which impacts its Broadman & Holman and LifeWay publishing empire.

The Episcopal Church – In a rather strange irony, the denomination which so greatly values the Communion sacrament as most central to their weekend worship found themselves preventing parishioners from improvising at home, which other bodies both permitted and encouraged during the lockdown. This resulted in the creation of the term “Eucharistic fast” to describe abstaining from The Lord’s Supper. Anglicans can only receive the bread and wine if the elements have been consecrated by an Anglican officiant. Eventually some churches got creative in finding ways to get the necessary items to congregants, but I can’t help but think they painted themselves into a corner by so greatly limiting access to the table. 

Chris Rice – In October an investigation was launched concerning sexual assault claims against the Christian musician dating to when Rice was a guest artist at youth retreats for a Kentucky Church, reports the pastor found to be “credible.”

K. P. Yohannan – The financial oddities (or as I just accidentally typed it, auditees) of Gospel for Asia keep getting “curiouser and curiouser.” This isn’t a 2020 story, nor is it limited to the U.S., but an ongoing saga which simply doesn’t go away.

Sean Feucht – Similar to the Trump-related stories above, with an extra conspiracy theory or two thrown into the mix; instead of running for public office, this guy should have stuck to playing music and leading worship; though now I’m not even 100% sure about that.

Kirk Cameron – Like Feucht above, Cameron staged a mass event which totally disregarded health advisories. We’re supposed to spread the gospel, not super-spread Covid-19.

John Crist – After stepping back from touring and creating video content following sexual misconduct allegations in 2019, the comedian resurfaced in 2020, but to some, the humor just wasn’t working; it was too soon. Crist would do well to simply abandon the Christian market altogether and rebuild his brand as a mainstream stand-up comic where this sort of thing happens with greater regularity and with nobody batting an eye.

Kenneth Copeland – The faith healer and prosperity teacher was another Trump casualty, but his laughing at the thought of a Biden victory was somewhat eerie if not somewhat demonic; and in Copeland’s camp, they know a thing or two about demonic. 

Willow Creek Leadership – A year ago Bill Hybels might have appeared on a similar list to this, but for the past twelve months, the leadership at Willow has in equal amounts both launched and stepped back from new initiatives, seeming like a small boy wandering the aisles of a department store in search of his parents.

Matthew Paul Turner – The author of Christian books for both children and adults came out as gay and announced his divorce. The latter has wider acceptance in the Church these days, and in some sectors the former is heading in that direction. His admission probably burned some bridges but it’s hard not to respect his transparency.

Albert Mohler, Jr. – I was once a fan, but in 2020 he became another SBC leader who got sucked into the Trump vortex.

James MacDonald – The disgraced former pastor popped up a few times in 2020 to make sure he was getting everything he had coming to him from Harvest Bible Chapel and Walk in the Word. The man who once used Easter Sunday to kick off a series on personal finances has revealed what is most near and dear to his heart. The NASDAQ is risen. It is risen indeed.

…That’s probably enough of this for one day. Or one year. This gives me no pleasure, but compiling this over the past several hours has been eye-opening. There was also one person I deliberately chose to exclude, and another I held back because of conflicted feelings about what I was seeing for myself and what others were reporting. Time will tell. It always does.

2021 can only be a better year, right? Let’s pray for that to be true.

November 13, 2020

Moody Publishing Author Skye Jethani Latest Victim of Book Pirates

For Friday the 13th, I can’t think of a scarier story than this one. You spend months (or years) working on a book only to find that your content has been stolen and republished. Sometimes they don’t even bother to change the title.

Moody Publishing author Skye Jethani posted this on Twitter last week:


The unscrupulous publisher, Mithi Press House, successfully eliminated Skye’s name twice in the description (see blue underlined copy), but missed the last one (circled), an admission of guilt if ever one existed:

The publisher has 41 pages of Amazon results, many of which appear Christian themed. A few have titles similar to popular Christian titles. The Amazon URL, which usually contains an embedded ISBN-10, appears to indicate the book has no ISBN assignment.

Here we are, a week later, the stolen book is still available for purchase. Amazon has a procedure authors must complete to have cases of copyright infringement resolved, but their system, despite their protests to the contrary, is almost by design bound to make things like this happen. In my mind, they are complicit in every one of these cases. The first notification from the author should be sufficient for it to strike the title from its database.

…If customers buy the counterfeit edition, they may be in for a disappointment. It’s listed in the description at 100 pages, whereas the original is listed at 144 pages. They either cut the illustrations — which are the heart of this book — or eliminated some of the Sermon on the Mount.


Related:
• Review of Skye’s book: Adding New Life to the Sermon on the Mount (July, 2020)
• Our story of Tish Harrison Warren’s title being pirated: IVP Author’s 3-Year Labour of Love Lost to Counterfeit Sales (July 2019)

Skye Jethani’s website

July 21, 2020

Remembering J. I. Packer

I can’t imagine readers here not also being tuned in to Religion News Service or Christianity Today or even Facebook or Twitter; so when I learned on the weekend of the passing of J. I. Packer, I didn’t feel the urgency to add anything to what was being said.

Days later, I’ve decided silence is not appropriate either. Here is an amended version of something I wrote on Saturday for another blog.

Remembering J. I. Packer

Christians around the world are remembering the man Wikipedia describes as an “English-born Canadian theologian;” J. I. Packer. His books — numbering over 50 — have been staples in Christian bookstores for decades. But his name probably appears elsewhere on your bookshelves, as John Stackhouse noted a few years ago, “Perhaps no one in history has written more endorsements and prefaces to the books of others than Packer did.”

Packer died on Friday at age 93, just days short of turning 94. Though I never met him or heard him in person, he was always nearby. While we were at Regent College last year we frequently drove by what some called “J. I. Packer’s church, “a church on the campus that he could easily walk to.” And back in the day, as an employee for IVP Canada, I remember packing and shipping many copies of Knowing God.

Though he surprised many with his decision to move from an important role with the Church of England to settle in Vancouver, his influence continued to span the entire world.

A year ago, The Gospel Coalition ran this list of declarations he said everyone should tell themselves daily:

  1. I am a child of God.
  2. God is my Father.
  3. Heaven is my home.
  4. Every day is one day nearer.
  5. My Savior is my brother.
  6. Every Christian is my brother too.

Though he was equally comfortable with Evangelicals as with Anglicans, he did appear in Time Magazine’s list of the 25 Most Influential Evangelicals.

…Just over two years ago, we featured this lighthearted moment here:

At age 91, J. I. Packer isn’t too old to cruise the J. I. Packer section in the Regent College Bookstore, making sure his bestsellers are properly displayed! [June, 2018]

Much more information is available at this tribute at Christianity Today.

If you have a Christian library in your home or your church, you might want to peruse this list of his titles at Wikipedia.

Memorial gifts may be made to the J. I. Packer Scholarship at Regent College.

 

April 13, 2020

Christian Media and Publishing: Who is Hurting – A Top Three

Filed under: Christianity, media, publishing — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:35 am

The Creators of the film, I Still Believe

The first faith-focused movie ever produced for IMAX couldn’t have had a more unfortunate release date. With glowing advance reviews, if it had released a week earlier, it would have enjoyed a solid week of box office sales on entering wide release. If it had been scheduled for a week later, its release would have been put back to whenever it is this summer that the motion picture industry will play catch-up. Instead, the creators acted quickly and decisively and rush-released the Netflix premiere. Later, many who missed both options will pursue the DVD release.

Vacation Bible School (VBS)

Make no mistake, VBS is a multi-million dollar business in the United States alone. Where I live, primary and junior school grades run to the end of June, so VBS is a July/August thing, but now it’s already in doubt in some places. In the U.S. it’s not unheard of to have a VBS week in late May, so many cancellations are possibly already kicking in, perhaps with some opting for postponement. This of course is part of the larger vulnerability of seasonal product, and there are also publishers of material for Easter and Mother’s Day who are experiencing unforeseen losses right now. An example with Mother’s Day might be Dayspring Cards, whose wares are sold through Christian bookstores many of which are either forced to close (see next item) or are in areas where people are being more diligent about social distancing.

ChristianBook.com

The place that everyone would turn to if shopping at the local Christian bookstore isn’t an option, Christianbook.com (aka Christian Book Distributors, formerly CBD) has been handed an order by the State of Massachusetts forcing it to close from April 7th to May 3rd, with only orders for digital product releasing. (See story.) The problem compounds for people hoping to get physical Christian books and music online because Amazon is prioritizing food and essential product orders, delaying some book shipments by up to two weeks.

February 29, 2020

Christian Books: What’s Popular Where I Live

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:02 am

I get to do this because I know how to spell Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Tullian Tchividjian. Not that either one made this list. But if you’re having a party tonight with Christian friends and you need a game, a Christian author spelling test wouldn’t be a bad idea. And Lysa TerKeurst.

 

December 31, 2019

Blogging Out Loud

Regular readers will realize that once I crossed the ten year mark here at Thinking Out Loud, I released myself from the burden of writing a new piece every day.

In just 3 months, Christianity 201, our sister blog, will reach the same milestone, and I have stated that I am going to do the same there; though this is problematic, as it’s presently a daily devotional blog.

The process of finding daily Bible study articles and then extracting them without violating stated copyrights continues to be a challenge. Mostly, I rely on writers we have used before, along with bloggers who are just starting out and happy to have their material shared.

Increasingly I’ve been writing a slightly greater percentage of the articles myself, which meant fewer pieces here. I know it’s been rather sparse, and it’s not that the creative ideas don’t come, but it’s a question of time, and also the mature realization that I don’t need to respond to every issue making the rounds (and the last half of this year brought plenty of them, didn’t it?)

My reading suffered this year for this and a number of other reasons. I’m realizing that while I enjoy keeping up with the books which achieve popularity, I’d like to go deeper myself. Three things on my wish-list right now are published by IVP (InterVarsity Press) who have repeatedly turned down review copy requests over the years. Mining their back-catalog, I’d love to turn the pages of Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes by Randolf Richards and Brandon O’Brien; Evangelical, Pentecostal, Sacramental: Why The Church Should Be All Three by Gordon Smith; and anything by John Walton. Again, all IVP, but publishers only send promotional copies for new releases, no matter how large the blog readership.

I still work two shifts a week at the bookstore. Recently someone asked us, “Who would be a good author for someone who likes N.T. Wright? Or Timothy Keller?” I discovered in my search that GoodReads offers an “authors similar to…” selection for key writers. If you want to go deeper in 2020, here’s a few with whom you can’t go wrong (somewhat edited for my customer’s response):

■ Similar to Wright:
Eugene H. Peterson
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
John H. Walton
Scot McKnight
James K.A. Smith
G.K. Chesterton
John R.W. Stott

■ Similar to Keller:
Lee Strobel
Richard J. Foster
A.W. Tozer
J.I. Packer

Maybe you can think of others.

I wish you fruitful and blessed reading in 2020!

 

December 14, 2019

Currently Reading: Jesus by Max Lucado

Though not slated for release until late into January of next year, I wanted to make you aware of this book now. I usually choose books more esoteric or eclectic than the somewhat mainstream work of Christian bestselling author Max Lucado, but was sent a copy of Jesus: The God Who Knows Your Name (Thomas Nelson) and decided to check out a chapter or two.

Immediately I was struck by how deserving Lucado is of his massive sales appeal. He didn’t get his reputation by accident; it was well earned.

In this book, portions of his other works have been woven together seamlessly to create chapters focusing on various elements in the timeline of Christ’s earthly ministry. Yes, some of the chapters are from individual books, but others involve material from four or five different titles.

I’m just past the one-third mark, and I’m sure I’ll have more to say closer to the January 21st release date, but if an author could have a “Greatest Hits” collection, for Lucado, it would be this book. 

Also, add this to the list of “first” books for a new Christian.

November 8, 2019

Blogroll Update #11

Computer searchIt’s been almost a year since I did one of these. This is not the blogroll that appears here on the blog, but rather things I bookmark in my computer as I find them. If you read all of the various parts to this ongoing series of lists, it comes to several thousand. If you find something that’s a dead link let me know. Also, because the list is shorter this time, I’m including an updated list of the various sources I use to compose the weekly Wednesday list.

Blogs (new)
More Than Cake
Blog – Phylicia Masonheimer
Blog | Jennifer LeClaire Ministries International
Standing For God – In These Evil Times
Mark 12:30 – Worshiping with Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength
In the Fourth Nocturn
Ken’s Daily Bible Re
thinkingpastorally
SeanPaulMurphyVille
Out of the Depths
Jesustrek | Journey of a Lifetime by Tom Cox
BROKEN BELIEVERS
TXAB: The Christ Almighty Blog
The Apologista | Love, Life, and Logic with Lauren
BLOG – JimmyHinton.org
BLOG — Danielle Strickland
Faith and Leadership | Duke Divinity
Home Page | Vital Sermons
Brenton Collyer
Just A Thought
Home – Patterns of Evidence: The Moses Controversy
In Pleasant Places
Gospel Taboo
ExpressYourself4Him | A writer’s journey with God
Rock Badger Christianity – YouTube
Peacehacks
Simply Shannon!
Generosity Monk – Meditations
Warhorn Media – Welcome to the reformation.
Church Militant – Serving Catholics
the Way? – Following Jesus in the 21st century
Spiritual Regurgitations |Rev. Dr. Robin J. Dugall
Nathan Hamm
CultureWatch – Bill Muehlenberg
Jen Pollock Michel
Todd Wilhelm: Thou Art The Man
Hare Translation Journey –  Bible translators in Cameroon
Practical Faith
Christian News Sources
FaithWorld | Analysis & Opinion | Reuters.com
Christianity Today Gleanings
Christian News, The Christian Post
Christian News on Christian Today
Faith and Leadership
Disrn – Brief, smart, faithful
Christian news, church news, **** – FaithfulNews
Christian Newswire – Up to the Minute Christian News
Religion News Service | Religion News in Photos, Articles & Video
Religion Dispatches
Christian News Headlines
RealClearReligion
News | The Christian Institute
Trending News – Positive Encouraging K-LOVE
OneNewsNow.com – Your News Right Now
HuffPost Religion
GetReligion
RELEVANT Magazine
Spiritual Sounding Board
CBN News – Christian News 24-7 – CBN.com
On Faith:  The Washington Post
NRB :: LATEST NEWS
Persecution News of Churches Persecuted & Christian Sufferings
Forum 18 Latest News
WORLD Magazine | Today’s News, Christian Views
Religious News – SRN News
Christian News Network
News & Events
WND – Faith
Breaking Christian News
ASSIST News Service
Holy Post | National Post
Religion News Blog
Belief – CNN.com
News | LifeSiteNews.com
Premier Christianity
Mission Network News – Mission Network News
The Old Black Church
On Religion – The UK’s first magazine about faith and religion
God Reports
BuzzVine | The Christian Post
Converge MagazineConverge
Baptist News, Opinion, Resources, Inspiration | Baptist Standard
The Journal of Gospel Music –
Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project
Read the Spirit | Spiritual, Interfaith, Cross-Cultural Media
News | The Living Church
The Aquila Report —  Reformed and Presbyterian
Rush to Press, news from Christian publishing industry
Ecumenical News.com – Daily Christian, Ecumenical News Online
The Association of Religion Data Archives – U.S. and World Religion Statistics and Data – ARDA
TheBlaze – Breaking news and opinion
The College Fix
NEW ADVENT: Home
Now The End Begins: End Times Bible Prophecy
Gateway News — Christian News Portal, South Africa
ISSUU – Faith FEED
Parents As First Educators
Christian News on Christian Times
NEWSROOM – NRB.org
Religion Dispatches
Christian Daily
SBC Today | Southern Baptist News and Analysis
Christian News on Christian Today
Baptist Press
Jewish News & Israel News – JNS.org
ABC Religion & Ethics (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
religion | The Africa Report
These Christian Times
Sports Spectrum – Christian Sports Magazine, Christian Athletes and Profiles, Faith-based Influences
Christian Examiner Newspapers | Christian News, Commentary, Events
Christian News, The Gospel Herald
News Archive – Mission Network News
News : BREATHEcast
Episcopal Cafe
365 Days Of Inspiring Media | Music and Entertainment Blogs with a Motivational and Moving Message For All Days Of The Year
BRnow.org – Baptist News – Biblical Recorder is the Official News Service and Baptist Press for the NC Baptist State Convention
All are welcome.
All Religion News and Press Releases from PR Newswire
Trunews. The Real News, Uncensored.
Christian Newswire – Up to the Minute Christian News
News & Ideas | Faith and Leadership
Christian Current Events – ChristForums
Good News, Inspiring, Positive Stories – Good News Network
Religion – Good News Network
ChurchPOP | Make holy all the things!
Christian Book Expo
Religion
Home Page – HAPPY SONSHIP
Religion | Commonweal Magazine
BCNN1: Black Christian News Network One
Catholic Stand – Living the Truth the Church Teaches : Catholic Stand
BREATHEcast
Christian Standard | Resourcing Christian Leaders
Home – EpicPew
Christian News on Christian Times
The Christian Mail | Christian News, Christian Mail for Christians Worldwide
Christian Newswire – Up to the Minute Christian News
The Christian Post,Christian News
Acts of Faith – The Washington Post
Worthy Christian Forums
Christian Forums
Company News | HarperCollins Christian Publishing
The Christian Sentinel – Where Faith Meets Investigative Reporting
Publishers Weekly Bestseller Lists
News : Hallels
PE News | News
Religion Books and Publishing News | Publishers Weekly
Church
Religious News – SRN News
Omni Articles | Quill and Quire
BRnow.org – Baptist News | Baptist Press Coverage by Biblical Recorder
Christian Daily
Religion | HuffPost
NEWSROOM – NRB.org
The Living Church – Serving the One Body of Christ
Christian News Archives – Christian Blog
Eternity News
Global Christian News – Christian News Across The World!
Articles Archives | ChurchPOP
World Religion News
Religion Dispatches – Rewire.News
Hallels
Latest News :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)
Breaking Christian News – Religion Headlines
Religion & Politics
Religion Archives – The Federalist
Church Watch Central
Eternity News
News – Global Christian News
Religion Release Distribution by EIN Presswire and EIN News
Religious Forums
Reformation Charlotte
Homepage – Religion News Service
Home – Anglican Ink © 2019
Subject: Religion | The College Fix
News – Word&Way
Christian Film News™
After the Altar Call –
Home – The Christian Index
Bitter Winter | Religious liberty and human rights in China
Home | Step FWD UK Christian Chart

The link to part one. (October, 2014…six years worth of links to that point)

The link to part two. (St. Patrick’s Day, 2015)

The link to part three. (May, 2015, also included my news sources to that point)

The link to part four. (August, 2015, included blog aggregators and people who do things similar to the Wednesday Link List or Wednesday Connect)

The link to part five. (August, 2016, a full year later)

The link to a mini update. (Just five weeks after part five the file was getting full again)

The link to part six. (January 2017)

The link to part seven (June 2017) 

The link to part eight (October 2017)

The link to part nine (May, 2018; included an updated list of Christian news sources)

The link to part ten (January, 2019)

August 20, 2019

In the Future, Amazon Will Control Much of What Christian Publishers Release

This article appeared today on one of our sister blogs, Christian Book Shop Talk, written for Christian bookstore owners, managers and sales associates.

An article released Friday by Canada’s Tim Challies on the influence that Amazon now has on the Christian publishing market has been making the rounds, and I wanted to wait a few days before responding. You can find The Power Over Christian Publishing We’ve Given To Amazon by clicking this link.

He begins dramatically,

A few days from now, or maybe a few months, or even a year, Amazon will pull a book from its site. One day it will be there available for purchase with all the rest, and the next it will be gone. One day people will be able to order it and have it shipped to their homes, and the next day it will have ceased to exist, at least as far as Amazon is concerned. This will inevitably be a book that Christians have embraced as orthodox but that the culture has rejected as heretical…

We’ve seen some of this happen already (especially with respect to Amazon pulling titles) so it isn’t prophetic. He then sets the stage defining the challenge for the future:

…[W]e inadvertently handed Amazon a near-monopoly over the sale of Christian books. We did this with the good-faith assumption that they would continue to sell whatever we published. But times have changed and are changing and it seems increasingly unlikely that Amazon will continue to sell it all. It seems increasingly likely that they will cede to cultural pressure—pressure that exists both within and outside of the company—and begin to cull their offerings. And then what? It’s not like these books cannot be sold by the Christian retailers that remain. But will publishers even be willing or able to publish them if they cannot be sold at the world’s biggest marketplace? Will you and I even be able to find out about them if Amazon isn’t recommending them to us? And will we be willing to pay a premium to have them shipped to us from smaller retailers with higher prices and no ability to offer free shipping?…

In a way, this is nothing new. Spin the search engine wheel and you’ll find many articles from the past accusing Christian publishers of only selling things that will do well at Family Christian Stores or LifeWay, and being extra cautious with progressive writers. But now FCS is gone, and LifeWay is phasing out its physical presence in America’s cities and towns.

Why should a publisher print something which retail won’t carry? Historically, that’s been a challenge, but now that in many parts of North America there is no retail (in the traditional sense) indie-published books compete with those from the larger, established publishing houses. The online behemoth is in many respects now calling the shots. Brick and mortar retail stores don’t matter as they once did; we’ve lost our influence.

What is new is the people to whom that power has been ceded. While dealing with a different aspect of this, Tim Challies correctly notes that,

Amazon is hardly a company founded by Christians or run according to Christian principles. To the contrary, it is a company founded by worldly people and run according to worldly principles.

And beyond the social issues Tim mentions, it bothers me that Amazon has no filters. A Jehovah’s Witness title, New Age title or an LDS title is just as likely to turn up in the search results as something from Baker, Zondervan or David C. Cook. Already, I’ve heard stories of people who unwittingly bought inappropriate books based on search engine results. This in and of itself highlights the value of Christian bookstore buyers and proprietors.

So what if those Christian publishers said to Amazon, “Since you now advertise as ‘the world’s largest bookstore,’ it would be nice if you would carry our titles exhaustively instead of selectively” or even dared to suggest that, “If you won’t carry everything, we won’t sell you anything at all.” If A-zon called their bluff on that, it would be devastating both to authors and consumers, since if a book’s A-zon listing doesn’t appear in search results, the book, for all intents and purposes, ceases to exist.

Again, to read the article at challies.com, click this link.

 

July 4, 2019

Remembering Norman Geisler

Filed under: apologetics, books, Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:37 am

A leading voice in Christian apologetics, author Norman Geisler passed away on Monday at age 86.

Books by Geisler in Christian bookstores include: Who Made God?, Chosen But Free, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, When Skeptics Ask, Essential Doctrine Made Easy, If God Why Evil, and more. He also contributed to many other books, such as Four Views on Eternal Security and a large number of Bible reference books.

Richard Land, Executive Editor of The Christian Post wrote:

…Dr. Geisler has been the “go to” authority for more than two generations of evangelical seminary students who were looking for a bold, erudite, and uncompromisingly faithful defense of the inerrant, infallible Word of God and the historical doctrines of the Christian faith. His ministry was invaluable, and his influence incalculable…

The funeral service will be on July 6th, Saturday at 3pm in Charlotte, North Carolina according to his Facebook page notice.

Read more at Religion News Service.

 

 

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