Thinking Out Loud

October 22, 2013

Jon Acuff is Back

Filed under: blogging, writing — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:03 am

The only thing harder than beginning is beginning again.

Jon Acuff 4So states Jon Acuff in the opening paragraph to the opening blog of his new website. I’d include more of that paragraph, but Jon’s website people have reached a technical sophistication with this blog that renders his words non-copy-and-paste-able.

He may be extremely popular, but he’s not about to be most-quoted. I didn’t check to see if his people had also found a way to block screenshots. I’ll just use an older file picture here.

Still, yesterday on Day One, or as he calls it, Day Zero, the Stuff Christians Like guy found a way to rally the troops and no doubt got a gazillion readers, as evidenced by over 600 comments. The post itself is called Day Zero. (Two other short posts followed Monday as well.)

Wither all that content from the previous SCL?  The parting of ways between Acuff and Dave Ramsey was said to have been amicable.  I guess we’ll have to see… 

Meanwhile, the blog has a banner containing an ad for a new book by Jenny Acuff, How to be Married to a Dreamer. Click the image and you find yourself signing up to be on a mailing list. Clever. You’ve got to give them all credit, these guys have got working social media down to a science. 

Ironic twist: Blog post number two ends with:

Do you ever feel guilty when you self promote? 

Why don’t you tell us, Jon.

September 5, 2012

Wednesday Link List

This week’s links include:

June 30, 2010

Wednesday Link List

Check your calendar:  The year is half over.   Just eighteen months left until the world ends in 2012.    Here’s where we were this week:

  • Without question my number one link this week is Francis Chan’s children’s book trailer — that’s right, a kids book — for The Big Red Tractor releasing in September from David C. Cook.
  • Pete Wilson pays tribute to a retiring staff member who he hired seven years ago to bring some experience and wisdom to an otherwise younger team; sharing some valuable lessons he learned from Tom Tyndall.  Here’s a sample:

    Great sermons will get you pats on the back. Savvy leadership skills will win you admiration from your colleagues. Hard work will catch peoples eyes as you separate from the pack. But if you don’t love you’re nothing more than a noisy gong, or a clanging cymbal. If you don’t love the people God has placed in your life nothing else really matters.

  • Andy LePeau at InterVarsity has a surefire way to increase the earning potential of your children and it’s not (directly, at least) education.   Check it out.
  • I really enjoyed Rick Apperson’s Blogapalooza throughout the entire month of June at Just a Thought, but especially this guest piece by Clay Crosse.  (Check out the other posts, too.)
  • Mark Wilson has a hilarious hypothetical conversation between God and St. Francis on the subject of lawn maintenance.

    GOD : They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?
    ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.
    GOD:  They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

  • Know somebody who is giving your pastor a hard time?  Probably not anything like this story.   This guy was a terrorist.  This is a book trailer for an upcoming non-fiction book, The Devil in Pew Number Seven by Rebecca Alonzo; releasing August 1st.
  • A 2006 iMonk column by Michael Spencer showed considerable insight in trying to bring balance to the young-earth/old-earth tensions in science vs. creationism.  He felt the Bible was a book about God and Jesus, not a book about science.
  • Here’s something you don’t see every day; a book about the ascension of Jesus and why it matters.   Check out Jeff Loach’s review of He Ascended Into Heaven.
  • First it was the hymn people versus the chorus people.  But recently there’s been more visible unrest within the modern worship community itself.   Michael Krahn comments,  in a blog post inspired by one by Canadian Chris Vacher.
  • New Blog of the Week:  Contrast by Terry Foote in Florida.   No particular post, though you might read a father’s perspective on the loss of a child.
  • Atheists have put the “under God” part of “One Nation Under God” back on the agenda with a billboard campaign .
  • There are parts of the Christian internet I’m sure some of you (us) never get to see. Not sure what to make of this one: The blog Enoch Route introduces us to “Billy” who offers some signs you might be in a cult.
  • Can you handle one more Drew Marshall Show link?   When the new archived interviews (from last week’s show) go up on Friday, it’s Drew’s first “Gay Day” with Justin Lee of the Gay Christian Network, Wendy Gritter from New Direction Ministries, and singer-songwriter Derek Webb, just back from a tour with Jennifer Knapp.  Click here after 7.2.10 and select the show from 6.26
  • Ruth Graham observes that the themes in Christian young adult fiction are creeping into the mainstream book market.  (Some critics felt it was the other way around.) Check out her article at Slate.
  • Some people have all the answers until you start asking spiritual questions.   Check out this Soul Chat promo.   More Soul Chat video content here.
  • If you’ve read the last chapter of the book version of Stuff Christians Like (as opposed to the website) you know the (somewhat) serious side of Jon Acuff (pictured at right). CNN’s Belief blog had him back again, this time to tell everyone why some Christians act like jerks online.
  • Late breaking item:  With too many contradictions in his Muslim-turned-Christian story, when Ergun Caner’s current term as dean of Liberty University Theological Seminary expires today (6/30) the job won’t be renewed, though he gets to stay on staff.   The Washington Post tells the story, additional background is at World Magazine.
  • Our cartoon today is a classic — in internet terms, it’s actually only from 2008 — Hi and Lois by Brian and Greg Walker.

If you were listed in the blogroll here at Thinking Out Loud, and your blog name begins with “The,” don’t panic, you’re still here.  Look for your blog’s title without the “the.”  (Requests to have it reinstated will be considered by a bureaucratic committee that meets in Switzerland twice a year.)

Last week’s link list got bumped from its home page position by another post, check it out here.

March 29, 2010

Stuff Christians Like: The Epic Novel

Back on January 17th, I promised I’d return to reviewing Stuff Christians Like once the book actually hit the shelves, which I realized on the weekend is now.   This puts me in a rather precarious situation, since my last book review here was Flanders’ Book of Faith. I promise my next review will be all 38 volumes of The Early Church Fathers.   Nonetheless…

“Christianity is in an ‘imitative’ mode.”

So said Larry Norman when we sat down together at midnight in a California recording studio.   He was thinking more about the arts 25 years ago when he noted that.   We tend to borrow forms and concepts from the world and then ‘Christianize’ them.

That was the original premise of the blog, Stuff Christians Like.   Author Jon Acuff — he goes by the more formal Jonathan on the cover — will tell you how the blog borrowed its title from Christian Landers’ Stuff White People Like and then went on for the past two years to become a Top 5 Christian blog listing all the other ways we Christianize things from the broader culture.

But the book version — Stuff Christians Like — is really so much more than that.   It’s the kind of book that comes around every generation or so that totally nails it when it comes to spoofing Christian living in general and church life in particular.   Unlike a number of other books that have recently taken on this challenge, Stuff Christians Like is written by someone within the Evangelical culture, although to my recollection, the book never actually uses that E-word.

Somewhere in our house is a copy of the book Games Christians Play by Judi Culbertson and Patti Bard, published by Harper & Row in either 1967 or 1973, depending on what online source you check.   It is a hilarious title and the time-specific references are overshadowed by the authors ability to get at the underlying motivation for why we do the things we do.  I’ve always wanted to see someone do a modern version of this title, and found it interesting that Harper & Row became HarperCollins which owns Zondervan which published Stuff Christians Like, which continues the tradition.

As I noted in January, the paperback version of SCL is considerably different from the blog, with much new material added, and themes contained on the blog mashed up in concise way.   But at over 200 pages, there is a lot of content to read here, something you don’t always get in books that are shelved among the ‘humor’ genre titles at the Christian bookstore, such as the Youth Specialties title from the 1980s, 101 Things To Do During a Dull Sermon by Tim Sims and Dan Pagoda, recently re-released.   Rather, SCL is funny, but in a ‘makes-you-think’ kind of way.

There are three strengths that Stuff Christians Like has that I want to mention.

Timing.   This book is hitting the stores as North America pulls out of a couple of years of recession, mortgage failures, job losses, etc.    We could use a laugh right now, and there’s never much in the way of competition in the ‘humor’ genre of Christian publishing.

Insight.   The book is partly autobiographical, and Jon Acuff is both a really funny guy and the son of a pastor.   He may attend a megachurch, but apparently it doesn’t stop him from being signed up — “voluntold” — to help with the dishes after a church banquet.  There’s an “everyman” quality to his writing so you might argue that anyone could have written this book, tough I doubt anyone could do it as well.

Fearless.   A lot of Jon’s blog readers are younger; in their teens, twenties or thirties and therefore a lot of them are single.    I thought at one point single readers might wince at the section on ‘the gift of singleness,’ but as an author, Jon isn’t afraid to take risks, or say what everybody else is thinking but afraid to say.

But there’s one giant feature about this book I saved for last.   It’s not overt, in fact it’s buried in a phrase about two-thirds of the way through, where he mentions, “I’m the token Christian at work.”

Think about it…  Given the number of Christian books out there published by theologians, seminary professors, pastors and John Maxwell, it isn’t all that often that you come across a book by someone whose nine-to-five gig is the same of yours; who is living out life in a cubicle, or on the shop floor or behind the cash register just like you are.

To this reader, that’s Stuff Christians Like‘s main asset.   It’s a book about you and me written by someone who is so eerily similar to you and me that it resonates fully.  The book’s major sections deal with God, the Bible, prayer, family life, church, witnessing, etc., but also a section called “My Bad” which is an honest, transparent look at ways we mess up.   The theme in “My Bad” returns with five or six short articles at the end of the book that indicate there’s a lot more depth to this author;  I really hope it’s a clue to what future Jon Acuff books might contain.

Buy this book.   Jon’s wife and two daughters need to eat more than just Skittles.  If you’re not a reader of the SCL blog, click here and bookmark the site, which is updated daily.

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