In the movie image above, Martin Luther (played by Joseph Finnes) is arguing with internal voices. Luther is purported to have fought with his warring natures fairly violently at times, even shouting at the devil in public (according to a biographer whose name escapes me). His personal demons are a big reason he’s such an intriguing character. But what I’m drawn to more is his struggle with identity and being fully oneself while attempting to sacrifice all to follow Christ. This is the true struggle in all of us. And no less true for publishing programs.
Unless 18 years of Christian education misled me (and it did, in so many ways), Luther also birthed Protestantism. This guy was crackers, and yet he translated the Bible. He also repeated our favorite verse in Ecclesiastes: “The multitude of books is a great evil. There is no limit to this fever for writing.” How many books could have existed in 15th century Germany? But printing presses were certainly scarce. He once said if Adam had known what evil weapons of warfare men would invent, he’d have died of grief. But I think Luther might have died to know how many “Christian” books are being published each year and yet are failing to impact the culture and Christians’ behavior.
“Superstition, idolatry and hypocrisy have ample wages, but the truth goes begging.” How differently would we behave if we really believed that “Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has”? Are we too post-Enlightenment to believe that?
Another good quote to remember, this from God: “Trust Me; you wouldn’t want the view from My eyes.” Why do we think we can reason our way through? Why do we fight so hard to hold on to our faculties when they’re only there to be sacrificed for God’s work?
The Great Publishing Dichotomy—these opposite poles of literary vs. commercial, highbrow vs. popular—is a phantom.
What if a publisher threw out all rules and laws about how publishing is supposed to be done, and simply went on faith? What if their entire acquisitions strategy was to seek to know which books God would have them publish and allow Him to bless and encourage as He willed? Would it solve problems, save money, impact more lives?
It seems to me everyone in publishing is asking this question: “Can our books be both excellent and profitable?” Even in CBA, maybe especially in CBA. And what I’d like to spend the next few posts on is the question before that: Simply, is this Shangri-la middle ground between banal books that sell and the great books no one buys found somewhere in seeking first the kingdom of God?
I don’t want to make people uncomfortable (well…), but even in CBA, this seems unfamiliar territory. What would an acquisitions strategy look like that put God first?
Putting God first. That’s my hypothesis. See ya next time.