Blogger: Mary Keeley
Much as I’ve tried to think of another topic, I can’t let go of what I feel compelled to write about today. Two days ago my state passed a law out of which tentacles may appear which would greatly inhibit Christian freedom of speech and practice. I began to wonder how that might eventually affect Christian publishers and the rest of us in the industry.
I am a trend watcher. As such, I’m a news junkie and observer of culture from a Christian worldview. A generation ago most people couldn’t have anticipated the cultural shift we’re experiencing today. It’s anyone’s guess how far into the future we will be able to view TV outreaches like Billy Graham’s new, and perhaps last, message to our nation, “The Cross,” which airs tonight. He is a powerful example for everyone in Christian publishing. By the way, you can find out when and where you can view this show in your area here.
I’m not a doomsayer. We know who is in charge of EVERYTHING all the time. But every once in a while it’s good to check our individual and corporate Christian barometer to make necessary adjustments. Wherever you the author might be tempted cave toward lukewarm faith in your novel or non-fiction book in favor of political correctness that might attract a larger audience. Wherever we agents might be tempted to represent a client whose books will likely sell millions of copies but are uncomfortably “off” scripturally. Wherever publishers may too easily acquiesce to demands which compromise their biblical mandate.
I admire Tyndale House Publishers for their recent stand against insurance requirements that conflict with their Christian conscience. Christian publishers are the mass producer of the Christian message to the world. Big privilege. Big responsibility. We need to support them. Here are ways we can do this:
- Pray for God’s protection over them and for boldness to take risks where needed to stay financially healthy.
- Buy their books, lots of them. Give them as gifts. And view your purchases as an investment, not an expense.
- Write a letter, comment on their blog, or send an email to thank them for their quality products and to express your prayerful support.
We know from Scripture that near the end of the age Christianity will experience great persecution. Whether that time is closely approaching or generations away is not for us to know…or to fear or be anxious about. What we are called to do is to be ready “to give an answer for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” (1 Peter 3:15).
With those marching orders in hand let’s pray that all of us in Christian publishing will always be faithful to our calling to proclaim biblical truth to the world.
Are you a trend watcher too? What are your observations? How have you been affected personally? Can you think of other ways we can express support for Christian publishers?
Christian publishers are mouthpieces of truth to the world. Here’s how you can support them. Click to Tweet.
Culture is changing quickly. Christian authors, agents, and publishers need to hold fast to truth. Click to Tweet.
As a non-fiction writer, I’ve considered the faithfulness of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Watchman Nee and even the Apostle Paul. Would I persevere writing under such conditions? Or would I be whining, “Why aren’t you blessing my work, Lord?”
I line from a radio sermon I once heard comes to mind: “God doesn’t call us to succeed, he calls us to obey.”
Thank you, Mary, for starting my morning with a deep thought.
“Would I persevere writing under such conditions?” Exactly the question for us today, Shirlee. We have enjoyed many–perhaps too many–years of ease in our nation. Do we individually and corporately have the strength of purpose to hold fast in obedience?
Carol McAdams Moore
1 Peter 3:15 – Yes!
Brian T. Carroll
Just curious, what was the law that got passed?
It was the same sex marriage act. Victory comments spoke of the only thing they still need is to require pastors to marry homosexual couples, regardless of what the Bible says. This would become a defining line for pastors. Publishers and writers may be confronted with a defining line in the future too. It’s good to ponder this once in a while so we aren’t caught weak and unprepared.
I saw that pass. Here in Wisconsin it’s been close to passing before too. I’m teaching our 9th & 10th grade kids at Sunday School and going through Old Testament survey. There are so many similarities to the days of the judges and prophets. Frightening at times, because of the blindness of the people before a righteous God. Exciting, because of the amazing work He will do through those who walk in His name!
Brian T. Carroll
There are legal ways to prepare ahead of time for what looks like is coming. I serve as a member of our Elder Board, and two or three years ago, we passed a policy that our pastors only marry members-in-good-standing of our own congregation, and then only after rigorous premarital counseling. We also passed a lengthy Biblical exposition on the subject and added it to our “What We Teach” document. Nothing is foolproof, but ministries are most vulnerable if they look like they are behaving in an arbitrary manner. I think publishers can probably protect themselves the same way.
The temptation to ‘go along to get along’ reminds me of Europe in 1938, when Neville Chamberalin returned to England after meeting Hitler in Munich.
Waving a signed piece of paper, he proclaimed ‘peace in our time’. The price of that ‘peace’ was allowing Nazi Germany to invade part of Czechoslovakia without interference or protest.
And we all know where it led.
Contrast that with Winston Churchill, two years later. I’m quoting at some length, because it is important in its context, and in ours.
“Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”
Andrew, thanks for sharing that quote. The truth of Winston Churchill’s words needs to speak loudly to us today.
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
There are few men equal to Churchill, and fewer still able to inspire and lead through such an onslaught of suffering, as he did.
Chamberlain will go down in history as a man who signed the death sentence for millions of people. I cannot imagine that Chamberlain ever slept again after 1938. I cannot begin to wonder the weight of his decision, and the catastrophic failure that it had on his own life.
Appeasement only benefits the bully.
Andrew, thanks for the moving word picture of the two choices we have and results of each.
Mary, if I didn’t know Who was in control of things, I think I’d be scared silly when I see and hear about some laws being passed in our nation.
I do a little trend observing, but not as much as I should. I appreciate the examples you give of how we can help Christian publishers. They are on the front lines, in a way, aren’t they?
I think I’ll be purchasing more books for Christmas gifts this year.
We’re all on the front lines in this one, Jeanne. If you’re a teacher at a public college or university, showing any kind of faith can quickly end your career.
And I’m not talking about evangelizing. Wearing a cross inside your shirt can get you into trouble. (When I was told this I decided to wear a massive crucifix, outside my shirt…admin hated me, the students loved it…even the Muslims.)
But I don’t work in that field any more.
(This was not true in Texas. In Texas, people think you’re weird if you don’t talk about your faith.)
Yes, Jeanne, Christian publishers are on the front lines. If they weaken and falter, the megaphone Christian authors and agents use most will be muzzled.
Yes, I’m concerned with the recent laws being bandied about. Today’s America is very different from the one I was born into.
I love that Christians have a voice. I love that we have Christian radio stations and contemporary music and books that speak to us and our lives. Although politics skew away from the Bible, there’s another movement spreading throughout America that didn’t really exist when I was a child–where Christians have media outlets that are faith based. I love that! And I’m honored to be a part of it!
So true, Jill. It is a privilege to be a part of the Christian publishing industry. Good point about this generation’s Christian media outlets. We need to pray for them as well.
Thankfully, this year was not a big election year in Minnesota. After last year, I don’t think I could have handled another big one. It’s alarming how quickly our culture is shifting, and how quickly Christian voices are being silenced. Thank you for reminding us that the Christian publishing houses need to be supported like never before. This is a wonderful time of year to do just that.
Great point, Gabrielle. We can take care of a lot of Christmas shopping in one Christian bookstore or online at Christian Book Distributors (CBD) at http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/catalog_index
Thank you for mentioning CBD, Mary. It has been on my heart for a while that my dollars should go there instead of Amazon. We need to support not just the Christian publishers but also the Christian booksellers.
We have a small Christian book store in our town–we need to remember to spend some of our dollars locally, as well!
Such an important issue, Mary, and thank you for your courage in encouraging us. These are difficult times indeed and the ‘state of the union’ seems to continue to be slipping down the slippery slope even as we write the next word. At the same time, however, it is consoling to know God is still on the Throne.
The temptation to live a lukewarm faith in order to avoid ‘the cost’ of living Truth in Love can definitely be a challenge to overcome, especially when, on occasion, it tries to rear its head within our own Christian communities.
May we ‘fear not or be anxious’ as you write, and hold fast to 1 Peter 3:15 with ‘gentleness and respect.’
And wrap up those books for Christmas! 🙂
Amen to all you said, Mickey.
Thank you, Mary. Thank you for pouring out your heart.
Thanks for reading/listening, Shelli. I confess to a bit of discomfort in writing this post. But then I recognized it as my own small defining moment.
Erin Keeley Marshall
Great approach to this topic. Our church has been doing a series called Living in Babylon, and last weekend was about suffering. The message was about holding fast to our HOPE, which cannot be taken from us, ever, no matter whether we (and/or our children) face little-p or big-P persecution. First Peter 3:15 was highlighted. Our hope in Christ is exactly what will appear nonsensical yet intriguing to a world bankrupt of it. Thanks for sharing those thoughts.
Thanks, Erin. Churches across our country would be wise to lead a timely series like your church is doing. We need to be ready to stand firm in our faith.
True truth, as Francis Schaeffer would say.
We are racing toward Babylon. Like Daniel in Nebuchadnezzar’s courts, or Esther in Xerxes’ palace, the people of God must know how to keep the faith in a culture diametrically opposed to the truth of God.
We are heading back toward Mars Hill and Acts 17, where pluralism rules the day and Christian exclusivism becomes society’s great vexation.
May God give Christian publishers and authors great discernment, courage, and increased success as they navigate the treacherous waters head.
Thanks for sounding the warning, Mary.
Thanks for speaking out, Bill. Amen to your prayer.
Mary, thank you for your courage and your heart regarding a hotly debated topic.
Our church, too, met Sunday in a special called business meeting to vote on necessary changes to our bylaws. Never did I think I’d see the day where we had to define what “traditional marriage” really means, nor address what our pastor’s obligations and defining lines were regarding such.
None of this comes as a surprise to our all-knowing Heavenly Father, but still, as Christians, I believe we’re going to be held to a high accountability than ever before.
I’m so proud of our Christian publishers who are willing to take a stand in the face of varying mindsets. And I’m equally proud of our Books and Such team’s integrity and God-given mission.
Go, Mary! Go, Books and Such! Go, CBA! GO JESUS!
Cynthia, thanks for bringing up the example of your church taking action to make your bylaws more specific in preparation for potential future confrontations.
Making application to Christian publishers, what if laws were made requiring them to publish books that favorably portray “all kinds of marriage relationships” equally? Seeing the drastic cultural change in the last ten years, we can’t say this won’t ever happen. That will affect all of us in the industry. The question is will we be strong to stand firm and take the consequences, trusting in God’s provision and ultimate control.
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
I’m not an American, but I have quite a few American friends who are lamenting the somewhat rapid shift in your culture. As an outsider looking in, it astounds me to that lengths the US media will go to skew and stab Christian values. The pressure to accept what is offensive is incredible. The underlying message is that if one disagrees with ANY issue, one is full of hate.
How to support Christian publishers? Buy books!!
I’m glad His eye is on the sparrow, and me, because otherwise I’d move off the grid and live alone, worrying day and night what will come next.
Is that not the political climate in Canada, Jennifer? I’d love to move north!
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
Canada is a very liberal country, which is not always so awesome. BUT, the Canadian mindset of “live and let live” does have its benefits.
Our political scandals recently included a mysterious pay-off at the upper levels of government, military helicopters that are obsolete and the price of milk varying from province to province. Oh, and the fracking issue, which is about deep earth exploration for natural gas.
Canadian politics is so boring. Truly. It is unbelievable how dull it is. We save our national disdain for hockey teams and the power wielded by the NHL Owners Association.
Jennifer, the American media appears to be actively involved in propelling cultural change. It’s notable that this is obvious to you and many others in Canada.
It’s time for Christian strength building.
Love this post. Since the church is the Body of Christ, it is inevitable it will be persecuted. I think we have been lucky to live in a time and a country where, for most of its history, accepted and promoted the Body of Christ.
I, too, believe we must support our Christian brethren in the entertainment fields. I’ve budgeted money every month for Christian entertainment purposes, whether that be film, novels, or events.
If we’re not going to support them, how can we ask the less faithful to take a chance?
Good suggestion to budget a monthly amount to support Christian entertainment and publishing, Pete. Thanks for leading the way.
Love that idea!
My husband and I are both trend-watchers, and we often comment to each other how incredibly, mind-bogglingly different life is now than just twenty-one years ago when we were married. It’s frightening to think of what life will be for our children as adults and our grandchildren. And yet, there is hope. We fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
You give excellent suggestions for supporting Christian publishers. I’ve always viewed books as an investment, but yes, even more so now. Thank you for sharing your heart, Mary.
Meghan, the kind of future our children and grandchildren will have is great motivation to deepen our commitment to support each other in Christian publishing so that we can individually and corporately weather the storms ahead.
Thank you, Mary, for your “small defining moment”. I read this post as a battle cry. Not one in Thor-like warrior kill ’em all 😉 but in the necessity to STAND and BE COUNTED. When called, will I obey? When challenged, will I bend? Deitrich Bonhoeffer said it best and it resonated with me as a teenager and still does today: “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
Will I give my life to His calling? I pray earnestly that God will wash my words in grace but righteousness as I write. That His love will saturate His words while yet holding the line of holiness.
When I named my daughter and son, I wanted this to be clear for their paths growing up. My daughter’s name means “Growing in God’s Graciousness” and my son’s “Warrior for the small”.
The written word will help to form my children into God’s little battalion of faith followers. The Christian publishing industry SHAPED my upbringing and it was my Godly mentor in the form of an elderly woman at church who kept my bookshelves so stocked with Inspirational fiction it helped form my faith.
I’M OFF TO CHRISTMAS SHOP! I’m so inspired. Seriously. Now I promise, I will stop rambling. 🙂
Thank you for heeding God’s voice and posting today.
Jaime, I enjoyed your thought process. Like the woman in your church, may we all look for opportunities to gift a child with Christian books that grow a deep faith in their hearts.
Well stated, Mary. I applaud you for posting this reminder. As Christians, let us be in this world but not of it.
In the current atmosphere within the CBA, it can be challenging to stick to what you know is right. And yet, we are called to walk in faith rather than fear.
Janalyn, it is a challenge. Our little defining moments are practice for the more crucial challenges that may be ahead of us.
We finished a six week workshop at my church on Faith and Politics. Needless to say, we only scratched the surface of the present concerns. One thing we did highlight is the need for Christians to focus more on what they’re for, rather than what they’re against. The sanctity of marriage, the fruits of the Spirit, etc. But it also bares mentioning that some of these issues can run very close to the surface of our personal lives. When we love someone we disagree with, the gray areas can be daunting. On the flip side, we’re given opportunity to lean into the Lord and match our heartbeat with his.
That’s such a good point, Jenni–so much of society seems to define us as believers more by what we’re against than what we’re for, and I’m afraid that’s at least partly our fault. I guess sometimes it’s easier to just be against things than to take the time to invest in promoting and building what Jesus is FOR. Sounds like a great, if challenging, workshop at your church! These are not easy issues…but I love the idea of them forcing us to “lean into the Lord and match our heartbeat with His.”
This really got me thinking.
There’s an analogy that may be significant from the ‘Star Wars’ cosmology, if you’ll indulge me.
The Jedi are derided my their evil rivals, the Sith, for having a ‘narrow and dogmatic’ view of the Force. The Sith pride themselves on embracing the Force in all its aspects – the Dark Side included.
And that may be where we are. We’re told by the media that we have to put away our Christian orthodoxy, and embrace ‘tolerance’. After all – what’s evil to a Christian is perfectly acceptable to a pagan, so “It’s our Christian duty to appreciate the pagan point of view”, right?
And if we tolerate, we accept…and we are the same as the pagans, right?
Wrong. Tolerance merely opens us up to a dilution of our values, forcing us into a corner where ‘they’ feel that we can be compelled to admit that our values are not absolute.
Perhaps in this generation we have to be the Jedi of Christendom, holding to the good, and summarily rejecting the evil.
If I’m to be marked as narrow, dogmatic, and intolerant – so be it. But I will not abandon the Values for which so many martyrs died.
And – society be warned – I both write, and vote.
Good blog, Mary. Frontline, for sure.
Question – What of the fact that many Christian publishers are now owned by secular publishers? They are not their own anymore.
I think Christian writers and readers should also consider supporting small Christian presses and publishers that are not already owned by a secular parent company. Just my opinion.
A problem I see is that *some* secular readers will not buy books published by CBA publishers. That would hamper CBA publishers from getting new readers and expand their business. Ironically, the secular parent companies of these CBA publishers might be able to fix this.
I think most Christian publishers are alive and well (though I lament the demise of the Love Finds You line at Summerside), but the competition is tough. Readers have so many options these days.
Again, a great wake-up call. Thanks, Mary.
You’re welcome, Jan. You bring up a good point. It remains to be seen what support–or controls–secular parent publishers may exert on their CBA publishing houses. Another reason to be praying for them.
Mary, I always love your posts. They always demonstrate such a depth of faith that gives me hope. I am a trend watcher too, but the first half of my life was spent in a mostly secular world. When I first met people who actually studied the Bible, it was like a veil had been removed from my eyes and suddenly all these Christians were all around me that I’d never known about before. I worked in many VERY PC environments and feared voicing what little faith I had. However, the world feels increasingly hostile to those who believe as I do … now. It seems people are waking from a slumber and taking very disparate sides. I want to make sure I’m on the right one–His. Thank you for encouraging all of us with a voice to do the same.
You’re welcome, Connie. We need to pray for discernment and strength to stand strong when necessary.
Thanks, Mary, for this truly encouraging post. As an aside, this is a battle I’ve been watching for several years now. In my own books, the temptation to write something that will “sell” (ie, violence, sex) as opposed to a well thought-out mystery/thriller has diminished as I see the battleground around me. Thanks for the affirmations supporting Christian publishers; it oozed over to me, a writer with Christian ethics.
Let’s commit to support Christian writers and publishers and to stand strong, Thonie.
Amen, Mary. Thank you for the reminder that each of my words matters. It echoes what Robin Gunn said at the ACFW Conference: “Don’t hide your light…Lift Jesus high!” I’m thankful for publishers who fearlessly lift Him high and who let writers like us participate in the calling.
Thanks for sharing Robin’s words to writers, Sarah. Our charge is to have the hope of Jesus and to share it, even in the darkest circumstances.
Great thoughts here. I’m watching the trends too.
I do wonder if the publishers will be pushed to tackle harder, “scarier” subjects than Christian publishing is currently comfortable with – not “less Biblical” or “less Christian,” but less comfy G-rated fluff and more that deals with real struggles and pain, that still points to Jesus as the One Who is not afraid of pain and can overcome anything.
I grew up in the age when Christian publishing was asleep, creating safe books to pacify boycott-happy religious people – have they awakened?
Linda J. White
Paula, i say yes, they have. There are plenty of “safe” books but there are also edgy ones–two of mine, in fact, and a third on the way. Real people, tough problems, applied faith.
And Mary, as a journalist and therefore obligated to “trend watch,” I can say your concern is right on. California is half a decade ahead of us, and I think we may all be called soon to stand–or not.
It appears to me that God is sifting the church. May we all be found faithful!
They have begun to, Paula, but I think you’re right. We need to see more and more deeper faith stories and non-fiction topics that encourage faith under fire.
I’m glad you raised this issue, Mary. Not only are Christians mum before the world, they are mum before each other. Christians don’t agree on a Christian perspective on each issue, nor should we. As a result, we are not only constrained in front of the world, we are reticent in front of each other. I do think we need to speak out and encourage dialogue and responsible speech. We are wordsmiths. We ought to be able to express our thoughts and feelings prayerfully, in ways that have impact.
I too believe that legalizing gay marriage is harmful and wrong. That said, I have gay friends who have beautiful marriages. I am concerned more with their relationship with Christ than their relationship with each other. What sets Christians apart is is love and respect for our Lord and for each other, not agreement on issues. But you are right, we are in danger of losing our ability to speak out. And watering down our message is not the answer. Developing Biblical understanding and good communication skills is closer to the mark.
Just taped that the Billy Graham program you mentioned. Thanks!
Absolutely, love and respect are necessary in our responses and our books. That’s the last part of ! Peter 3:15 and is the central focus of 1 Corinthians 13. It’s if and when tentacles, as I called them, of new laws require Christians to act in disobedience to biblical truth that there is a defining moment: to stand for truth or acquiesce.
Excellent thoughts- from everybody. I keep seeing maps of Wisconsin surrounded by rainbow colored states (I’d like to see us take our rainbow back, BTW) and it certainly does make me sad.
But maybe we can turn this into an opportunity. I’ve really been convicted in the last decade or so that the Church (in general) has had little affect on this debate mainly because what we see are the louder “religious” folks who stink up the joint with “God Hates Fags” signs and rhetoric as if Jesus didn’t die for homosexuals. I know there are people who are reaching out in Christian love and grace to this community and they should be celebrated. I am a covetous, lying blasphemer, and by Jesus’ teaching an adulterer. Are my sins “more acceptable?” No, they still separated me from God.
Don’t misunderstand- I’m not condoning someone else’s sin- or my own. At my best I’m a sinner saved by grace, but I was no less a sinner than… Doogie Howser… (sorry, it was off the top of my head).
How can we, as a Christian writing community- the body of Christ- show these people in love that Jesus is ready to accept them? How can we witness effectively to them? I don’t have a solid answer, but I do think we need to not alienate them with some of the unholy bile we’ve all seen. I had a great conversation with a homosexual friend of mine that began with me saying that the Westboro Baptists didn’t represent anything Biblical. I may not have planted a seed but the door was opened, to mix metaphors. Without excusing them let’s be burdened for them. They just need Christ. Just like I did.
How can we be effective witnesses: Through the Holy Spirit, grounded in Scripture, full of His love. The Lord knows specifically what to say in each situation. He did all the work for us already!
I second Jan, supporting small presses. I’m a penny pincher(90% off? Thank goodness- happy day!) but with Christian businesses, publishers and media outlets I PREFER full price! 🙂 I know it will take more than money to get through the future, but every part of what we do counts. Thanks for an excellent post Mary! STANDING FIRM is exactly the message we need. Blessings- Ellen