ScribblePreach Awards 01.07.2016

From the Pub: On Fairy Stories

Against the idea that fairy stories are merely an escape: “Evidently we are faced by a misuse of words, and also by a confusion of thought. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls? The world outside has not become less real because the prisoner cannot see it. In using escape this way the critics have chosen the wrong word, and what is more, they are confusing . . . the Escape of the Prisoner with the Flight of the Deserter.” – JRR TOLKIEN

Kindle Deal of the Week: A Year with G.K. Chesterton

Get daily wisdom from the master quipper, for $1.99.

Apologetics: Tim Keller Under the Eye

Scot McKnight takes to those taking Tim Keller to task over his recent interview in the NY Times.

Preaching:  The Do’s and Donuts of Preaching

I confess I haven’t listened to this yet, but it’s a weekend project. Looking forward to hearing my first Mortification of Spin podcast!

Theology: A Few Reflections on N.T. Wright’s Latest

Dane Ortlund, normally a fanboy of N.T. Wright, confesses Wright’s latest book is “just awful.” And tells you why.

A Glimpse of Truth: Rogue One: A Return to Reverence

This is an incredibly insightful look at why the original Star Wars films were magic, and how secularism ruined the prequels. Yes, secularism.

Books and Lit: Shakespeare Vs. The Puritans

In this little video Dr. Ryan Reeves takes a fun look at a puritan caricature through the eyes of Shakespeare himself.

Writing: 7 Writing Tips from Charles Spurgeon 

This is fantastic!

Christians and Culture: Thoughts on Christian Publishing

This is the first time I can ever remember a blog asking a question so good and helpful that I literally had to stop what I was doing for a long time to think about it, and I still am. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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nick.youthwriter@gmail.com

Nicholas McDonald is a blogger, pastor, and author of the book "Faker: How to Be Real When You're Tempted to Fake it." He studied creative writing and communication at Oxford University and Olivet Nazerene University, and received his M.Div from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. He currently resides in Lexington, NC, with his wife and two boys, Caleb and Owen.

2 Comments

  1. Nick,

    You asked for thoughts regarding Christian publishing. After perusing James’s blog post/lament, I would have to question how many people actually read the blogs to which he refers. I don’t know the number. But one thing I note is that these blog posts, however thoughtful, are usually short. Unless you’re reading Alastair Roberts’s online essays (calling them blog posts would be a misnomer), or something similar, most blog posts are short and easy to consume.

    And I think that’s the issue here. A lot of the fluff that is purchased en masse is easy to consume. Not only does it make people feel good, but it doesn’t require much thought. (Is that why it feels good?) All the Jesus Calling books are devotionals. They require a page a day. Even those most opposed to reading can manage that. Many of those books have no, or almost no, footnotes or endnotes. They don’t have vocabulary words that make one run for a dictionary (or open up a dictionary app). They don’t present concepts which take time and energy to grasp.

    I think the real contrast is between those popular books and the very high-end scholarly work that is being done in evangelical circles. Rarely does a book that has been well researched sell well, and they won’t be found in Walmart or in an airport bookstore. (I think that has a huge bearing on sales numbers: books that are easily available are purchased, while books that you have to search for won’t be purchased in such quantities.) Books that feature copious citations aren’t likely to be read by many. And they won’t be purchased as gifts (another reason why those bestseller books sell so well–I bet a lot of them are purchased as gifts). Unfortunately, these books aren’t going to make a dent in the mass media, either. Think of all the attention that Reza Aslan’s book, Zealot, received. Now think of how much attention something by Craig Blomberg or someone similar on the historicity of the Gospels gets.

    There is certainly a need for more and better Christian writers. That’s particularly true of novelists and screen writers. But I think we also need academics to produce “lay” versions of their books, or writers who can take the works of academics and dumb it down to the masses, without over simplifying and perhaps while making the ideas resonate better with the average Joe or Jane.

    One more thought: I think there’s a need for not only blog posts, but also short, creative videos that communicate the ideas that are being generated. The work of the folks at The Bible Project, really stands out.

    Those are my jumbled thoughts.

    • Excellent comment, Brian!

      “Easily digestable” is indeed a commonality. I wonder why reformed bloggers can do that online, but not in book format? Is it a fault with reformed publishers? Or, as you suggest, can we chalk it up to publicity?

      If so, I think of James Davidson Hunter’s thoughts on culture: essentially, the mass populace doesn’t decide what to like and consume. It’s carefully selected by cultural elites (in this case, the publishing houses). So, if the publishing houses want Joel Osteen to be a bestseller, he will be. If they take no interest in other reformed writers, they hold the cards, and they simply won’t be.

      I think too many times we Americans underestimate the power structures dictating everything we do – so, I think you bring out an excellent point.

      Thanks for your thoughtfulness,
      Nick

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