Things I Think

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90 Responses

  1. “8.Is anybody writing great Christian literature anymore? Did the Christian imagination die with C.S. Lewis?”

    Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins??? 🙂

  2. Em says:

    #2 – 🙂 been there, done that one a bit
    been out pushing snow off of my walk, and asking God, if He sees what i’m doing down here and aren’t i too old to be doing this? obviously not 🙂
    #3 – excellent point IMHO

  3. Em says:

    #8 – i can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a sheaf of papers out there, squirreled away in an attic or storage locker by unappreciative heirs of some Norman Maclean type, old college professer … an anonymous, academically marginalized servant of God – who wrote gems that couldn’t get published in the times in which he lived …

  4. 1. He may be or may not be. Anyone who claims either with full certainty is sure to look foolish.

    2. Yes! God is always at work, even when we aren’t cognizant of that fact. Most of the time we kind of wake up at a certain place in life and realize that God was moving us all along.

    3. Sure thing.

    4. I try to have conversations on facebook. Mostly they don’t go very far. I already deleted my twitter account.

    5. I can’t take any blame for it. I do what I can do in my tiny corner of the world, as do millions of others. We are all responsible for our own journey in the end, I think.

    6. Like we talked about last week, you’d have to define unity. Paul and Jesus both warned against false teachers, too, so it’s hard to know where to draw lines and where to erase them.

    7. I’d love to go through it with you.

    8. I don’t know of any great Christian literature. Perhaps when we die, some people will discover something from this age that is great, but it’s hard to tell being so close to it. Add to that the massive amount that gets published, and yeah, I’ll stick with Lewis.

    9. To the outsider, there is no difference.

    10. Yep.

  5. Nonnie says:

    Sarah’s prayers are precious and I have learned and gained much from them.

    I also love the community of folks here.

  6. Em says:

    #5 – while there’s always a place for humor (how can one study the Gospels and not see our Lord’s humor?) – mocking the Faith because you’ve been hurt says a lot about your heart … if you’re not grieved by those who give Christ and His followers a black eye … ?

    one thing about my favorite, if tedious, wounded one here, he defends the Faith and those who walk in it vigorously

  7. Em says:

    Nonnie, amen – the folks who stick around here are an example of Michael’s shepherding perhaps? it’s all kept quite Christ-centered, really … been a blessing to me in these final years where i have no church roots and no patience with Churchianity

  8. catherine says:

    I agree…Sarah’s prayers are priceless!

  9. Ixtlan says:

    “Never try to reason with biblical exegesis against a man armed with a tradition.”

    Exactly. So much for attempting unity, reaching across the aisle, joint co-operation, and all that other stuff that pipe dreams are made of. And it is endemic to every strand of Christianity…. and ever person…. as has been demonstrated so well over the years here.

  10. Lutheran says:

    ‘Never try to reason with biblical exegesis against a man armed with a tradition’

    I think that’s a very Insightful observation, Michael.

    It always amuses me when certain low-church Protestants rail against church traditions and history. Turns out they’re often just as entrenched and invested in their own, if not more so!

  11. Lutheran says:

    America could completely collapse and even cease to exist and Jesus still might not be at the door. The Christian era has seen the collapse of a few empires…

    Another excellent observation. Why is it that often, many of the dispies and other hardliners look at the world from a US-Centric lens? Why is the POV of one country (out out about 200) more valid than the view from any of the other countries around the world?

  12. filbertz says:

    Great Christian Literature, currently, is a fine oxymoron. “Popular” or “best-selling” or “easy read” does not constitute great literature. Part of the issue is many christians never read anything outside the “faith” or christian bookstore/club, so they have nothing to compare to. Another is that most will not put in the time or effort to read the so-called classics or greats because it requires work, energy, and concentration. Another is that christians get their feelies hurt to easily and we are uncomfortable with the mindset and practices of those outside the faith…even though it is so often what we were or are. Anymore, sales trump style, numbers trump content. It is safer to write drivel for those who’ve been nurtured on drivel, have an appetite for drivel, and highly recommend drivel for their friends. Sadly, when an author like Paul Young gets drawn and quartered for trying, it casts a pall over authors’ writing rooms. Don’t mistake me for saying his first book was “great literature” it wasn’t. It was not as controversial as many made it out to be, but there is a large ‘audience’ out there who get satisfaction out of being clueless critics.

  13. Lutheran says:

    ‘Is anybody writing great Christian literature anymore? Did the Christian imagination die with C.S. Lewis?’

    Great question, Michael. I should ask my son who’s working on a Master’s in English.

    From the past, here are some great writers that used their imaginations: Dorothy Sayers, Flannery O’Connor and JRR Tolkien. Maybe Papias could add some more.

  14. I have a feeling that what we describe as unity is not what Jesus was talking about.

    Paul and Peter differed, as did Paul and Silas. Hmmm, Paul seems to be in the middle of all this conflict – darn troublemaker!

  15. filbertz says:

    The failure of Christian imagination is a result of the slavery to narrow interpretations of scripture and practice, largely an influence of evangelicalism. The best theological writing is primarily coming out of the more liberal traditions who feel free to reexamine, reconsider, and restate biblical teachings and principles. Conservatives are slaves to the party line and their imaginations are limited to creative packaging for programs designed to plug in easily to any church situation. It is frankly embarrassing.

  16. filbertz says:

    Currently I’m reading Anne Lamott’s “Help Thanks Wow–the Three Essential Prayers” Love the title.

  17. Phil

    Really? Hmmmm. A lot of what you say is worth thinking and disecting but also sounds kind of harsh. Theology is important and to understand it so that it shapes ones life is not necessarily bad is it? Granted, there are certain theologies that are more grounded in tradition than bible but some are not that flexible. Thinking in terms of math, there are some nonnegotiables there. Would be kind of tough if 2+2 suddenly became 5.

    BTW i got pretty sick. Sorry Not able to get with you guys

  18. teve voigt says:

    #3 answered #1 I do sepect the Lord to come for us soon but I am also planning on going to work tonite and let God be God… It would bed nice to be raptured on a rainny nite 🙂

  19. filbertz says:

    Steve, I agree mine is a pretty harsh assessment, but one borne out of passion, not pissiness. I think the same argument can be made regarding art–especially music, though our recently deceased “painter lite” would be a prime example. 😉 A music example would be Mute Math–wouldn’t make it in Christian circles, but all believers, correct?

  20. filbertz says:

    I got sick too–Emmanuel Legacy on 23rd–loads of fun. Carrie’s new term for me is “the Clot Ho.” 😉

  21. Jtk says:

    Lutheran,

    What’s the etymology of “low church” and “high church” and which would is offensive?

  22. Em says:

    thinking … i read quite a bit as a youngster and as a young, stuck at home, diaper-changing, formula fixing mom … what would it take to get me to invest time and $$s reading any new piece of fiction today?
    … thinking … i think i’d like a collection (3+) of short stories: anthropomorphic or seen through the eyes of a child (a victim or an observer), stories that every line and every conclusion snuck up on you and nailed a scriptural truth without simply plagiarizing it … the kind of thing that produces an ‘aha’ a day later, perhaps? a legacy for a deluded generation … must be already written and hiding in some storage locker of stuff left behind … 😎

  23. Em says:

    high and low church hmmm if one takes high and low German as the model, i’ll take low church

  24. filbertz says:

    High and low chuches…number of steps you ascend to reach the “narthex” vs. the sidewalk that leads directly into the “lobby.” 😉

  25. Jtk says:

    “5. I listened to a podcast last week that featured one of the people that draws a large community of people online that have been abused in churches. This person now mocks not only the trappings of cultural Christianity, but the faith itself. We have no one to blame but ourselves…because we continue to support those who make a mockery of true Christian leadership.”

    Hebrews 12 and that “root of bitterness” is the heaviest burden I’ve ever experienced; no one should EVER go there, regardless of how anyone acts or reacts.

    Despite loving “gritty revenge Westerns,” I have to shepherd my heart from the dark forces that comes against it, FOR ME, most powerfully in unforgiveness.

  26. Lutheran says:

    I don’t know the etymology of those two terms. High church has been used for centuries especially in Anglican and Lutheran circles, to denote a more formal, liturgical type of worship. I don’t know where low church comes from.

    I don’t think either is offensive. They’re descriptions of how a church service is conducted.

    Do you think the term “Old” (as in Testament) is ‘offensive’? Again, Old and New are descriptions of the Books.

    Old and new…high and low.

  27. Lutheran says:

    Actually, I must correct myself. “Low church” has also been used in Anglican circles for awhile (don’t really know how long). Folks like John Stott and Packer would be seen as members of the Anglican low church. Low church is characterized by less formality.

  28. 7. Go for it!

  29. Lutheran says:

    Some other good “imaginary” Christian writers: Madeline L’Engle, Gene Wolfe, and John Updike.

  30. Papias says:

    Not one comment about the NHL getting back to play? C’mon Michael…someone read your comment last week and that must have stirred them into action. 🙂

    Got a new picture on FB with me and the fams with …. The Stanley Cup…..

  31. Papias says:

    “From the past, here are some great writers that used their imaginations: Dorothy Sayers, Flannery O’Connor and JRR Tolkien. Maybe Papias could add some more.”

    Thanks for the props Lut! 🙂

    I am looking at starting The Hobbit or LOTR(Lord of the Rings) again. Some folks read them once a year and swear by the practice. For me, mining the depths of Tolkien is a reward.

    For Lewis, I’ve read some, but not nearly enough.

    I have been a fan of Stephen Lawhead for awhile, but the latest just didn’t grab me outright. But check out Byzantium for a single good novel.

    Who is writing great literature today? At all?

  32. Em says:

    is this high church or low?
    “Three Hierarchs Orthodox Christian Church attended the special riverside blessing, a highlight [Feast] of Theophany,…The priest throws a wooden crucifix into the [icy] river and participants — stripped down to swimsuits — dive in and swim to recover it. The feast marks the first time that manifestations of God were revealed to man at Jesus Christ’s baptism, according to church history.” from an item in the local newspaper today

  33. Reuben says:

    There is no such thing as unity.

  34. I think #5 “This person now mocks not only the trappings of cultural Christianity, but the faith itself.” is a good example of people who attached to the church for the wrong reason (not called by the Holy Spirit) to churches that were operating for the wrong reasons – and once their misdirected needs weren’t met or were stifled, they left disappointed.

    Perhaps they should have joined a fraternal order like the Elks Club or the Rotary Club instead.

  35. A Believer says:

    What does Rueben know? 😉 lol

    http://www.unitychurchbr.org/

  36. Lutheran says:

    #32

    Em,

    Higher than high!

    🙂

  37. I have published two children’s booksm written a couple of plays and musicals. Not tooting my own horn, but to say the biggest difficulty I had in being creative was when ever I challenged people’s perceptions of God, or how they imagined things should happen. For instance in the story of David and Goliath, I had David flinging two stones and not one. It doesn’t really say he just threw one, and besides, when he went to pick out his ammo, he selected 5 stones. This one Christian lady took me to task over that comeing just short of revoking my salvation! I asked if David truly was the man of faith she claimed he was, why did he take 5 stones, her response was Goliath had 4 other brothers. But where does it say that that was the reason he caried 5 stones? It doesn’t. It’s what she had been taught.

    I think of books like “The Shack”, not that it’s that great a piece of literature, but the author got reemed by a majority of the church.

    I think one of the reasons for art is to challenge us. But we as Christians don’t like our image of God to be challenged. And publishers need books to sell if they are going tostay in business. So, I wonder if a lot of the would be “good Christian” authors just choose not to enter the fray. Dunno. Just a thought

  38. “And written a couple of plays” sorry

  39. Michael says:

    Steve,

    I think you’re right on…

  40. Em says:

    since folk are thinking literarily today … i’m thinking that i came up with the beginning of book here … family finally gets around to going thru grandpa’s stuff that they’ve had stored for years and the little girl comes across some manuscripts, sits down in the back corner of the storage unit and begins to read … too much like finding a door in the back of the closet? oh well, scratch that idea 🙂

    my ham handed forays into the world of writing (2 works of fiction, a love story and a whodunit) i found that i simply could not write without weaving the Faith in – neither effort would ever be lauded by church people, let alone the world of good literature … but somewhere there must be someone who has done some really good stuff – somehow, i can’t shake the feeling that it’s out there somewhere moldering right now …

  41. Em says:

    filbertz’ #24, or… if it’s a plain vestibule, then it’s a narthex
    if there’s a table with coffee, then it’s a lobby
    and, if it’s outside, then it belongs to the gentiles 😆

    but it’s always dependent upon the stair count – however, if they’re called steps? no need to count then it’s high church

    presuming on the quiet hour here … and good news about little hero baby Bennet’s day under the lights, but covered in prayers

  42. nomans says:

    Tracking with Steve…
    I feel compelled to write, and do often, but have had my proverbial hand slapped many times by people (mainly Christan) who are challenged or offended by my “processing style;)”.
    Subsequently, I have become very slow to share what goes on within these flesh walls.

    There are times when one prayer from the fingertips of our beloved Sarah redeems a heapmass of stink.

    There’s a piece waiting to be written within that last statement, but I’ll keep it to myself =D

  43. Exactly why I would never write a “christian” book be it fiction or non-fiction. Too many people ready to find something wrong.

  44. Em says:

    nomans, hang onto what you’re writing … the time will come when you’ll be able to “flesh” it out, edit it and your children’s children will know what grandma was all about – you’ll make them proud … if the Lord tarries 🙂

  45. Em says:

    i received an email from someone named Joyce who lurks here? for some reason i can’t “respond,” so thanks for the author recommendation – hope to get some reading time someday soon

    for any passing by tonight we have a big snow melt going on here now, the ground is super-saturated and the wind is really up which brings our trees down – especially the big evergreens – prayer appreciated

  46. nomans says:

    Em, that is a good thought. Thank you.

  47. Em, I’m passing by tonight, and praying.

  48. London says:

    Hopkins, Flip, AB and the Captain all on the same day!!

  49. CK, thanks – the wind has gone on its way – pray all have a restful night tonight

    God keep

  50. Alex says:

    Michael said, “I listened to a podcast last week that featured one of the people that draws a large community of people online that have been abused in churches. This person now mocks not only the trappings of cultural Christianity, but the faith itself. We have no one to blame but ourselves…because we continue to support those who make a mockery of true Christian leadership.”

    Yes, guys like Hopkins, A Believer, Steve Wright etc have shown that Qualifications don’t matter as they hide behind the lie that they are all “100% independent”.

    Last time I checked, “lying” is an “abomination” to the Lord and the Qualifications bar Homosexuals and Women from being Pastors, but apparently not any of the OTHER things on that list.

    I call it “Convenient” or “Selective Fundamentalism”.

    I am hoping to find a Homosexual Pastor who wants to become a CC Affiliate and be a part of the so-called “100% independent” Association.

    Certainly Homosexuals are Qualified to be CC Pastors, since none of the other Qualifications matter either, no?

    Why would a Homosexual be denied Affiliation/Association, while so many other CC Pastors violate Qualifications on the “list”? Certainly CC could overlook Homosexuality, no?

    Selective Fundamentalism, that’s what it is.

    And, selective telling of the truth. Chuck Smith is a big fat liar to this day and won’t reprent of the lies he told me to my face in the “meeting”…which is ongoing sin, no? Same as Homosexuality, an “abomination”…no? And “no liars go to heaven”…no?

    Selective Fundamentalism at work. Very very subversive trick. I don’t buy the con any longer.

    I think the greatest argument for Liberalism from a Spiritual perspective…is Selective Fundamentalism. Deed and Practice express the Belief and the Doctrine very thoroughly in Calvary Chapel and other parts of Evangelicalism.

  51. Alex says:

    I don’t mock the “faith”…I mock the lying and Selective Fundamentalism of Calvary Chapel and other similar Evangelical church constructs b/c of how they do things and the abuse and corruption they foster like in TBN, A29 etc etc.

    “the faith” is a Big Tent…and I have Faith. I may, however, not have faith in a particular Brand of faith, which is not necessarily “faith”…it is a construct and a particular man-interpretation of what “true” faith looks like. I reject that sort of “faith” as I have found Selective Fundamentalism to be in essence an Amoeba that takes on the form of whatever the “leadership” desires to emphasize in the manner that suits their agenda and their personal goals, lusts, passions etc.

  52. Alex says:

    Steve Hopkins and Steve Wright:

    Would you remain in a Calvary Chapel Association and be Affiliated with a Calvary Chapel Association and wave the Dove if Calvary Chapel allowed Homosexual Pastors?

    If not, why not? If you are all “100% Independent” and you are OK with CC looking the other way when it comes to the rest of the Qualifications “list”….why would you have a problem with CC allowing Homosexuals in the pulpit?

  53. Folks I am telling you – Alex is toxic!!
    His sole purpose is to drive away any CC person who shows up here – absolutely no other purpose.
    . Hopkins, AB, and Wright have stayed away – yesterday they return, speak on completely CC neutral topics and Alex swarms down.

    Alex is a stalker and the insane asylum should cut hi WIFI service.

  54. Alex says:

    MLD, that is bearing false witness. #5 is about me, no? You are asking me to remove my personal experience and the issue I advocate for and homogenize with what you approve as acceptable participation?

    MLD said, “Alex is a stalker and the insane asylum should cut hi WIFI service.”

    I think that is defamatory and untrue.

  55. Alex says:

    I think the question I’m raising is valid and deserves an answer and is appropriate for discussion. I haven’t name-called like you just did, which what you just did should be banned if anything is to be banned on here.

  56. “I think that is defamatory and untrue.”

    But you are the guy who says that either we cannot know truth or that we each have our own truth.

    So, that will be my truth – it does not have to be your truth.

    But I need to be nicer – so “Have a pleasant day.” 😉

  57. Don’t say that you didn’t name call – you called the 3 of them liars.

    But have a pleasant day. 🙂

    But let’s not consume the thread.

  58. Alex says:

    Just trying to follow the un-written rules on this end MLD. I don’t make the rules here, just trying to not offend some folks like Paul Lytton and others who grow tired of me engaging you in-kind. I won’t enjoin in your insulting behavior today, sorry.

    Have a blessed day.

  59. Alex says:

    MLD said, “Don’t say that you didn’t name call – you called the 3 of them liars.”

    I believe, as does the host of this blog, as does many many others that for CC and CC representatives to claim they are 100% independent, is a lie.

  60. Alex says:

    MLD said, ‘But let’s not consume the thread.”

    Agreed. I’ll wait until tomorrow to respond if Hopkins or Wright has the courage to answer those questions above. I think it gets at the heart of the issue…

  61. for my part, this morning this thread has been “consumed”

  62. @61 yep. Too much for me.

  63. filbertz says:

    for my part, I hope neither one engages the bait. First it is completely off thrust of Michaels TIT this week, secondly, their comments from yesterday do not lead logically to Alex’s “question,” and thirdly, we’ve all seen these types of discussions spin completely out of control every time, dominating threads for the balance of the week(s). It isn’t the time or place to face off on this just because they chose to comment on Michael’s thread.

  64. #1 – “arguing with a “rapture ready” pastor” – My view is that anyone who points to a particular current day event as a sign of the Lord’s return is a false teacher.

  65. nomans says:

    I was so close…

  66. Nonnie says:

    Well, it was going quite well until number 50

  67. When you just step back from this show we put on and really look at things you pretty much understand all of the critics of our faith. I sometimes jokingly tell people that I am nondenominational saying, “that means we make it up as we go.” Quietly I know it is dangerously close to true, and thereby messed up. It leads to half the stuff on the TIT this week. Unfortunate acrostic but illuminating.

    I was thinking of writing that imaginative stuff MN is asking for. Let my grandkids know how I do.

  68. I wish you would write something like that BD. I can imagine you coming up with something incredible.

  69. Em says:

    MLD, re #64 – they are all signs … 😐 but the day and the hour? that we can’t see IMHO

  70. Em – Jesus gave signs to know of his return. All of the signs have been happening for 2,000 yrs. No particular earthquake is a sign of anything – earthquakes are the sign.
    No particular war is a sign of anything – wars and rumors of war are.
    Iran invading Israel one day is no more a sign than if Bolivia invaded Peru.

    Wherever tragedy strikes it is to be a reminder of Jesus’ return – not a timetable.

  71. Not tooting my own own horn here….actually had my mind blown a little….back at #37 I mentioned that in the past, I have written two children’s books illustrated by my brother Chris. It was also a musical that kids could follow along to. I went on line to see if it was still in circulation since it the publisher is no longer in existence. I found it for sale on Amazon.com for $475.00. Thay’s no typeo. They have 4 used ones for about $100.oo each!

    I contacted A Believer who did the layout of the books and he said because it was a small run, and was published about 25 years ago it is now a collectors item. Blew me away.

    Go figure

  72. Steve,
    That is so cool!
    Nice to see you here.
    Peace

  73. Alex says:

    Agree with Dread and appreciate his intellectual honesty.

    It holds true and is applicable to this Group as well. Far from the early days.

    Fil, don’t understand what you said above re: the logic, would be great if you defended that assertion, but not likely you will.

  74. Grendal
    Thanks! Dang! I was in Laguna Beach over Xmas and had lots of time on my hands. I shoulda called you and we could of drank coffee and played guitar. Next time

  75. I don’t think #5 was about Alex.

  76. Em says:

    #70 – partially in agreement … there have always been troubles such as now down through our history that some seem always to point to as “the end;” but i am concluding that what we can see is a ramping up of the “signs” in intensity and frequency – if the pattern that i think i see is correct, then each cycle is shorter and has a greater world-wide impact – like a whirlpool in the stream of history widening and deepening in the flow….. or perhaps a hurricane, whose eye we now may be traveling through … ala 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3

    just pondering the possibilities 🙂 again

  77. Em, I don’t think anything is happening with greater intensity or in shortened periods of time – it’s just that now we hear about it all with 24 hour news.

    Back in the day, and I am old enough to remember, we had 15 min of local news and then 15 min of Walter Cronkite – that was all you got – there wasn’t even talk radio back then.

    Now, if an Iranian farts we have a 2 hour special on the news and Beck and Limbaugh talk for a week.

    Nothing new under the sun. I will bet that those on this continent had no notion of the Black Plague in Europe when 1/4th to 1/3 rd of the population died – now we know the names of everyone in Steubenville Ohio who has the flu today.

  78. filbertz says:

    Alex,
    simply that neither Steve’s comment had anything to do with the question you posed to them, so there was no logical step from their comments to your question. It appeared more opportunistic because they posted rather than piggybacking on something they said. If it were a courtroom, a line of questioning can only be pursued if the other party “opened the door.”

    I guess I’m just full of surprises…it wasn’t likely, in your opinion, that I would reply, but I did. On the other hand, I’m not a master debater/rhetoritician/etc. so I know my limits.

  79. Em says:

    MLD, point taken (you sound like my late husband on this one, i disagreed with him also) … you may be right about our information deluge, but i think that simply by the increase of population coverage of the planet, the troubles are increasing – however, i hope you’re right where climate changes and earthquakes are concerned … one of the most interesting ponders for me over the last 8 or so years is the increasing hold that electronic surveillance has on us … you know … that buy and sell thing 🙄 very insidious and very Rev 13

  80. Steve Wright says:

    MLD…were you listening to my Sunday message? 😉

    Given I mentioned the Black Plague…teaching through Luke 21.

    People are going to think you write my notes. 🙂

  81. Steve, I sneak in your house while you are sleeping and change your notes. 🙂

  82. and furthermore 😀
    found on Fox
    Tariq Malik Published January 09, 2013 Space.com
    “Asteroid Apophis has long been billed as a “doomsday asteroid” because of a 2004 study that predicted a 2.7 percent chance of the space rock hitting Earth… in April 2029,… it will make another pass near Earth in 2036.
    …..
    Today, ESA officials announced that its infrared Herschel Space Observatory has discovered that Apophis is … nearly 20 percent larger than a previous estimate …
    “The 20 percent increase in diameter … translates into a 75 percent increase in our estimates of the asteroid’s volume or mass,” study leader Thomas Müller of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany, said in a statement.
    …..Apophis has generated the most concern worldwide because of its extremely close approach in 2029 and [chances of a] potential impact, albeit small, in 2036,” Slooh president Patrick Paolucci said in a statement.”

    Matthew 24:29 doesn’t say *all* the stars will fall

    if my presumptive banter on Michael’s site disturbs anyone – i apologize, i’m just sayin that we simply can’t be adamant as to what or how the Creator will use “Mother Nature” and i agree that the past predicts the future – mostly … but it won’t always do that

  83. Well Em, I guess we don’t know the day or the hour, but you have narrowed it down to 2036. 🙂

  84. Re: Is anyone writing great literature anymore?

    Yes, but it is hard to find, and you have to be willing to risk some money on unknown authors.

    In correspondence with the CEO of a major Christian book publishing company, I learned that there are many factors which explain why it is difficult to find “good literature” in Christian circles.

    Publishing decisions are made based upon a business school model, not whether the book is well-written, engaging, realistic, theologically sound or not, but rather, contracts are awarded based upon the fame of the author (fame sells), and whether the content will be accepted by the largely female, fundamentalist, triple-g-rated book buying public. Publishers are very hesitant to invest the money on unknown authors or books that have controversial or potentially offensive content. And if a novel includes traditional, theological overtones, secular publishers will not be willing to publish it given their bias against religous books as poor sellers.

    Left Behind was rejected many times because end-times fiction is too risky. I learned that marketing is the key to selling a book. I was told that first-time authors rarely are given a look, since the cost of marketing an unknown author is very expensive, and does not guarantee the the publisher will recoup their investment. Better to invest in a well-known author with confidence that they will deliver a “best-seller,” even if it is not “classic” quality. This explains why the Christian section at Barnes and Noble is filled with mulitiple editions of stories by a select few authors. “Safe” is the name of the game, and I was told that in a down economy, it is even more so.

    Competition is also a driving issue. If a literary agent has a particular author under contract, they don’t want shelf space to be given to competitors…thus, you won’t find any end times fiction to compete with Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, with the exception of a few authors who are already household names.

    Last of all, I learned that censors are employed by the major Christian publishing houses. They have made a guarantee to all of the fundamentalist, mom and pop bookstore owners, and to the pastors of church bookstores, that they will not deliver any literature to them that will be considered offensive to the majority of fundamentalist Christians. Therefore, “realism” from novels of old has been replaced with a triple-g-rated version that is benign and non-offensive. Christian leads cannot have any vices, no innuendo even between husbands and wives which could be construed to be suggestive, no drinking of alchohol by anyone, no crude talk, etc… once the element of reality is removed, we might as well be reading “Leave it to Beaver.”

    There are many fine authors out there, but people are hesitant to spend money on self-published books. Our first reaction is if a book is on the shelf at Barnes and Noble, and if the publishing company has invested thousands of dollars in a marketing campaign, the book must be good. How many times have we bought a ticket to the next big loser Hollywood motion picture for the same reason. A great marketing campaign, or a publisher telling you to buy their book, is no guarantee that the book is any good. Conversely, a self-published author likely has no marketing budget. They will create a website and offer their book for sale on Nook or Amazon.com and most folks will not even be able to find the book, let alone be convinced to buy it.

    There is an end-times novel that has received very good reviews by those who have read it. The former Chair of the Graduate Department of Religion at Vanguard University served as the theological advisor for the book. The story weaves together theology of Spurgeon, C.S. Lewis, the Maccabees, with a post-tribulation spin that has its heroes facing off with the forces of the Antichrist. The book is in no way a “classic” in the sense of Dickens, C.S. Lewis, or Tolkein, but is a very good read by modern standards, and well worth the ten bucks it costs. Most of all, it is thought provoking, but drives home the biblical truth that God’s grace is greater than even most fundamentalists have ever imagined. In the end, Redemption is what God seeks and He is willing to stop at nothing to bring repentance and redemption in people’s lives. The author is Jameson Taylor. The novel is titled “Redemption Road.” It’s available at Amazon.com and Kindle.com for ten or so dollars.

    Many I’ve spoken with who have read this little-known piece of literature have said they had a difficult time putting it down, since they wanted to know what was going to happen next. The author did a good job of weaving in the problem of last days’ apostasy as well. If for no other reason than this, it is worth reading.

    Last add. I also learned that many of C.S. Lewis’ books were rejected for many years, and others did not sell many copies until after Lewis died in the early 1960’s. After his death, many of his books became “classics”, but not during his lifetime.

    A couple of posts were written by “would-be” authors, or those who have self-published. As a word of encouragement, I’d say to hang in there. Write for the sake of writing. Write because God has given you a message to share. You can take solace that Jeremiah would have difficulty getting a book deal today…but then, so would Jesus. Imagine that! Jesus would have a tough time being allowed to speak from the pulpit in many churches today, let alone get a book deal. Would Annas and Caiphas have ever given Jesus a book deal? Trust God to open doors of opportunity to share your work with others. It only takes one of your books to start selling well on the self-published charts, and one of the major pubishers will sign you to a real contract, once they know your work is popular and that there is a market for your work. Believe it or not, it does happen to some folks.

    Again, check out Redemption Road. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. You may even be pleasantly surprised. It is most certainly a “thinking persons” novel. You can’t just check your brain at the door. He challenges you on many different levels. Check it out.

  85. Alex says:

    Fil, I disagree, but I can see how you arrived at that conclusion.

    Fil said, “If it were a courtroom,” …it’s not a courtroom, it’s a blog.

  86. Em says:

    gotta say … Cutter writes out of an organized mind – i admire that

    i think Michael should press on … my instinct says that multiple volumes might get noticed by more folk than just one collection already out there that we all loved before it was “collected” … even

  87. As Cutter implies, in the end, a major reason publshers don’t put out quality material is money. I made a presentation to Harvest House in Eugene, and although thy said my material and concept were very good, because of the cost to produce the art, they rejected it.

    Later one of the edotors told me that Harvest House was printing books that were low overhead, and brought the biggest bang for the buck. He said, essentially, they were looking to sell books that were attractive to the eye looked like Hallmark cards

    BTW, self publishing doesnt carry the negtive connotation that it used to. More and more good writers are going that route. You can contract with Amazon for printing and distribution. I think they take only 40% and the author gets the rest

  88. Em says:

    might there be an online niche to be filled here? a nondenominational one? a clearing house for excellent writers who promote the Faith in their books? 1,2 or 3 qualified people (retired professors, perhaps)? … we can google almost anything else and come up with reviewers that are helpful …

  89. warren merriman says:

    Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins? You must be kidding!! In their best day, their combined imagination could not come anywhere near that of C. S. Lewis.

  90. Warren – as an Amil person, I think that their work rivals the best of fiction writing.No one comes close to the imagination of a dispy when they put their thoughts in writing. 🙂

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