February 28, 2011
We'll Always Be Your Beast of Burden
There's nothing quite so quirky about the Likewise line of books at InterVarsity Press as its logo: a man leading a resistant donkey, in silhouette. What does it mean?!? we're often asked and occasionally tempted to ask ourselves. Still, when you get right down to it, it's pretty adorable, pretty versatile, pretty memorable. We (and many of our authors) find ourselves identifying with it in an iconic sort of way; Jamie Arpin-Ricci, whose forthcoming Cost of Community will bear the logo, even riffed on the vibe of the logo in his proposal.
Early in the life of the line, Karen Sloan (who wrote the Likewise book Flirting with Monasticism) and Emily Sloan (who had joined us for a line brainstorming weekend with several culture-makers we admire, including Likewise authors Don Everts, Mike Sares and Sean Gladding) presented us with a Likewise-inspired gift: three Gund stuffed donkeys, which when wound up sway back and forth to a tinkly rendition of "Amazing Grace." They stitched the word "Likewise" onto the donkeys' fluffy sweaters, in case we missed the connection. They brought the donkeys to the 2006 Urbana Student Missions Conference, where we were making a big to-do about the line. We loved them.I'm not sure what happened to one of the donkeys, quite honestly. It may be in Andrew Bronson's family room (that's him in the photo above), or someone may have absconded with it. Another of the donkeys was vandalized--taken from my office and deposited on a rock somewhere on IVP's campus to brave the elements. It didn't fare so well.
I consoled myself by acknowledging that there is truly a ministry of iconoclasm, in which the things we gradually place our confidence in (sometimes to the point of idolatry) get put through the ringer so we can see them more accurately. A haggard donkey is no less inspiring, and in some ways even more inspiring, than a pristine, well-tended donkey; sometimes the best way of listening to a tinkly rendition of "Amazing Grace" is by silently recalling the sober verse "Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come . . ."
Byron has been a generous reviewer and promoter of Likewise Books from the very beginning, but many of us associated with the line have not had the pleasure of meeting him face to face. Well, now one more of us has, and whenever he feels like it, he can wind that thing up and do a little dance, confident that as much as he likes reading and selling our books, we like publishing them and putting them in the mail to him.
Donkeys--they bring people together. It just needed to be said.