January 21, 2013
A quick thought from Dave.
Every year on Martin Luther King Day I read his Letter from Birmingham Jail to white clergy who had called on him to take it down a notch. Here's the passage that stuck out to me this morning, which apparently also stuck out to me two years ago.
On the Blemished and Scarred Body of Christ
An observation by Martin Luther King Jr., from a cell in Birmingham, Alabama, on the history and responsibility of the body of Christ.
This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the Letter from Birmingham Jail. Read the whole thing here. And keep an eye out for Ed Gilbreath's forthcoming ebook Remembering Birmingham for a consideration of King's ongoing challenge to us today.
Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 8:10 AM
January 17, 2013
Next week we will send a PDF of Patty Kirk's The Easy Burden of Pleasing God (on my short list for favorite book of 2013--sorry, everyone else) to the printer. Six weeks from then we'll get it back as a book. Then, God willing, we'll start shipping it to readers, mostly via other booksellers.
That's all in the future. Today I'm simply taking my last look at it.
The last look is always a little angsty for me. What have I, the editor and primary interface for the author to date, forgotten to deal with? What new errors have entered the book since the look before this one? Is this book the best it could be? What will the reviewers say? What about the readers? What will the author think of the finished product? Of me?
Ah, the perils of people-pleasing. They can make what should be a celebration into an existential crisis.
In this case, thankfully, I feel pretty good. Patty Kirk is a great writer, and editing her (for the second time now; you can get her first book with IVP here) has been just a little bit like a master class for me. She's also a relatively unique persona in my network of author relationships. She's the only author I've edited who lives on a farm (some of my authors, frankly, give me the impression that they were born in a barn, but that's a different story), and her sensibilities reflect the farmer's life--something that for me evokes memories of my childhood, when I would play in the fields and occasionally assist in the chores at my grandparent's farm in northeastern Iowa. I've developed a great fondness for Patty as this book has made its way through our publishing process.
Moreover, I've developed a bit of a dependency on her thesis: that the work that God expects of us is nothing more and nothing less than to believe in Jesus, the One God Sent.
That's a burden, because any claim to godhood and messiahship is a totalizing claim on an adherent's life. Paradoxically, however, it's also a relief. As we've proven over millennia, we're not comfortable accepting simple belief as the whole work of faith. So we come up with burdens of our own devising, telling ourselves that they please God or somehow save us. And then we start judging ourselves and, worse, our neighbors by the quality and weight of our burdens. Every time we do that, Jesus suggests, we're missing the point; more than that, though, we're missing out on the rest that Jesus promises as a side effect of the burden he places on us.
Kirk demonstrates this insight into the gospel throughout the book, going so far as to reinterpret the ethical burden of faith in Christ not as human work but as the gift of a divine parent who knows us better than we know ourselves. For just one example, Kirk recounts a story of a conflict she had with a fellow teacher who "shared" (in the bureaucratic sense) equipment and facilities with her. When her best efforts to use the equipment well came into conflict with his own thoughts, the you-know-what hit the you-know-what:
She had just read Matthew 5:21-22, however, which doesn't entirely subvert the argument that anger is not sinful but does complicate it quite a bit. Here is where Jesus associates anger, as it is practiced, with murder, going so far as to say that "anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment." Patty "detected the unmistakable trail of the Holy Spirit" and took on the burden inherent in the passage: not the burden of forgiveness, as we might expect, but one of confession.
Imagine God thrilled, the way you're thrilled when your kids hug it out and stop hating each other. Imagine the bizarre physics of taking on the burden of confession only to feel the burden of a strained relationship fall off. Imagine a world in which everyone abandoned the various burdens of their own devisings, or the burdens laid on them by people who loved them but didn't know how to love well, and instead took up the burden of believing in a God whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light, for whom in fact the believing in is the burden itself.
If you have trouble imagining that, read Patty's book when it drops.
Patty's book is one of the first in a new line we've launched here. IVP-Crescendo offers dedicated space to showcase women we should all be listening to, women whose insights into the faith and the human condition are worth simmering in for 180 pages or so. You can take a look at some of the other initial offerings in the line here.
Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 2:52 PM
January 4, 2013
Reflections and a mild rant from David A. Zimmerman
Well, good riddance, 2012. We're still here and you're not.
We're just back from the triennial Urbana Student Missions Conference in St. Louis, and while it will take us a good three years to recover, a fickle blogosphere demands constant refreshing of content. So this seems like as good a time as any to look back on the year just ended and celebrate or mourn as appropriate.
Several new Likewise books were released this past year, including
Four of these books were designated as Urbana Books of the Day, which should give you a sense both of how long Urbana is and how significant Likewise Books is to Christian students and the missional church. You're welcome, global evangelicalism.
While at Urbana, I had the pleasure of interviewing three Likewise authors (plus Christianity Today Book of the Year award winner Amy Sherman) for the bookstore team. Amy, Phileena Heuertz, Leroy Barber and Alexia Salvatierra (whose book Faith-Rooted Organizing will release late 2013) were all delightful conversation partners and made me look very smart in front of many of my coworkers.
I would be remiss if I didn't invite and encourage you to review these books yourself. You would be helping these authors and book publishing in general a great deal by posting your thoughts (about these and other books you've enjoyed) at GoodReads, on Amazon, on your blog and other places you have influence.
In sadder news, the band of contributors to Strangely Dim went from a trio to a duet when Lisa Rieck left InterVarsity Press to work for, um, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. You can track her new blogging here. We're hoping to continue to have new posts from her at Strangely Dim, or at least reposts of what she's writing for InterVarsity.
We began our year with a new sister line of books when Biblica International transferred their books program to IVP. We added another line mid-year with the launch of Praxis, a line of books for church and ministry leaders. And in December we sent off to the printer four books that will launch our next line, IVP Crescendo, which showcases women authors. Keep an eye out for that (as if we won't be bothering you about it in the weeks and months to come).
So, that's our year in review. How was your year? Feel free to post your reflections on the last twelve months below. Otherwise, please enjoy "My Year in Review," by the great Bill Mallonee.
Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 9:18 AM