“UnSafing” Christian publishing

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I can’t think of the word. Maybe it doesn’t exist. But I think this is something worth spending some time on: how do we keep the focus on artful writing and not compromise it to make it safe? I think some good examples of people who are doing this is the best way to answer that.

There’s also the excellent point that has been raised that maybe it’s not possible to mix ministry and money. It’s just too tempting. So we definitely need to discuss this further. I think it’s another question of how to keep the focus where it belongs. And of course, the answer is to keep focussed on Jesus and his example, but practically, how does this work? Someone mentioned Psalm 119:165 recently that says when you know the law, it keeps you from stumbling and causing offense. I see it as the same thing that when we know the rules of writing beautiful prose, we can forget about the rules and simply write. That’s the goal, but it’s often very difficult to achieve.

But I’m feeling good today. Bush has won the election, the country has won an even bigger prize in escaping the extensive litigation threats that seemed so inevitable, and I’m through with making my point about the dire problems in CBA. I won’t be going off about all the Bible-thumpers and philistines I see from my vantage point as an editor at Focus. Not that I won’t again. It’s just that I’m grateful to them all tonight, despite their poor taste, intellectual innocence, and artistic ignorance.

Because you see, my fellow editors and authors, it may very well be that we still need them in our country, much as we might disagree. And I’m not usually so magnanimous so it must have something to do with the promise of not having a muppet and an insane marionette in the White House after all, but I’m also excited to find some of the people who have been working to improve the situation in CBA for many months.

Some of them might want to keep things on the down low, but those who are willing to come forward, like Brad, and share their efforts or the efforts of their friends, I guess I’m feeling like that the best use of our time. That’s as good a reason as any to read a blog.

Many of you have already mentioned friends and publishers who are helping to shake things up for CBA, but let’s hear them again. If you’ve posted at Master’s Artist, ACRW, Faith in Fiction, Chi Libris, Crosswalk, or other blogs about rising stars or inspiring advances made on CBA territory, do us a favor and post a comment. I want to dedicate as much space as I can for these unsung heroes so we can all see the revolution is happening.

I’m working on a few interviews for the next few days, but let’s all pitch in and share what God is doing through our combined efforts—in all its variety. There are about 300 of you a day coming through here so we should have no problem with finding a few examples of unsafe, real world Christian publishing efforts.

Let’s continue the momentum we’ve started here and get the word out! Have a great night, everyone, and—I’m saying it—God bless America.

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3 thoughts on ““UnSafing” Christian publishing”

  1. OK, Mick, I’ll bite. I met Andy McGuire a couple weeks ago at a conference. He’s another young fiction editor (at Moody). He taught a session called “The Christian Writer and the Culture” which mirrors must of what is discussed here and elsewhere.
    Very cool guy. He critiqued a chapter of my novel and said, “Really interesting characters. Not typical CBA characters. They’re likeable, but they’re not exactly Christian role models, are they? I like that. Some of my favorite people are crummy role models.”
    So he’s an editor a lot of folks here might appreciate, I’m thinking.

  2. Lisa Samson – she’s not safe, but she’s GOOOD…
    Brad Whittington – I want to be that clever if/when I grow up
    Bret Lott – loves Jesus and writes what he darn well pleases
    Ernest Gaines – kicks butt (can I say that here?), tackles racism without preaching
    Donald Miller – go read Blue Like Jazz…well…go!
    Over the Rhine – okay, so they’re a band, but they write poetry and stories, even sponsored a short story contest on their website. Epitomize what it means to be an artist and a believer (not necessarily in that order), salt and light, IN the world and not OF it. etc., whatever…
    Sorry, not heavily ensconced in the publishing side. I’m sure there are some great movers and shakers. Dave Long comes to mind. Waterbrook does really cool covers.

  3. I’m currently reading RealLivePreacher.com, a collection of essays from the blog of the same name, with some new material that doesn’t appear on the blog. It doesn’t get any more real or authentic than RLP. I don’t know if Eedermans is considered CBA. The essays contain many of George Carlin’s seven words, so plenty folks would get their knickers in a twist if they found it at their local CBA outlet. Regardless, I recommend it without reservation to anyone interested in authentic Christianity. I’ve made the mistake of reading on the bus on the way to work. I have to keep my shades on so nobody will see the tears brimming in my eyes. Then I walk into work broken like an egg, a runny, sticky mess.
    It’s a good example of someone who isn’t bothering with the tempest in a teacup that is CBA. Gordon is just quietly going about being a revolution of one, not waiting on permission a contract or a market or to be endorsed or promoted or for any other validation.
    And I only hope that one day I can write like that when I grow up. Sheesh!

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