Christian Booksellers and Pomos

want to change the world of Christian publishing? Brad Sargent is asking a few of us to take a look at CBA’s thoughts on pomo books, or at least what kind of books to try to sell to postmoderns. Its a gold mine of information on current thought and challenges, and really fun to read. More fun thaN PlayStation 2, trust me.
Also worth commenting on below, if you feel so inclined. In fact, if you get to read it, then leave some comments and the people behind Christian book publishing in USA can hear from some of you.
They need to hear from you guys – normally they only hear from pastors, seminary students/grads, writers, speaders or other believers inside the church system.
This is all very relevant to me right now since i am working on a writing project online that is part blog, part book.

HERE ARE A FEW SNIPPETS, IN CASE YOU CANT ACCESS THE PAGE. I OFFER MY COMMENTS IN CAPITALS.

Harvest House Director of Acquisitions and Development
“Postmodernism has become one of those words that has been kicked around (and misused) to such an extent that it’s pretty difficult to tell what people mean when they use it. Perhaps it is more useful to think of postmodernism as a style than as a set of beliefs.

The following are some of its general traits: It de-emphasizes linear-style logic and suggests a more intuitive approach to the search for truth. It does not put as much reliance on traditional sources of authority. It prefers dialogue and discussion to being told what to think. (To a postmodern you can’t just say “The Bible says” and let it go at that. You have to engage their whole set of experiences, convictions, and intuitions.) It is open to searching and to mystery, and is highly tolerant of other views.

The postmodern mind is generally reached better through art and story and music than through argument and dogma. In general, I think the postmodern person is harder to convince, but once they have made a commitment to the gospel it is one that emphasizes authenticity, personal faith, and a desire to impact the culture around them with the good news.

Over simplified, but I think it gets to the heart of things.

[ANDREW] IM IMPRESSED!

Jossey-Bass (Wiley) author Brian McLaren: One way to understand the shift from modern to postmodern is to put it in terms of something very ancient. Aristotle talked about truth, beauty, and goodness. Modernity was most interested in truth—“just the facts ma’am,” as the old TV show used to say. Modern architecture—boxy, efficient, functional—illustrates the point.

Postmodernity feels that the modern emphasis on truth marginalized beauty and goodness, so there’s a desire to reconnect with beauty and goodness. This means that writers need to attend to the beauty of their writing—from diction and sentence structure to imagery and flow. So, for postmoderns, clarity may be a lower value than intrigue. And this Aristotelian re-balancing means that writers’ “ethos”—their moral character that is conveyed through their rhetorical choices—is essential to earn credibility in goodness. For example, a clear, convincing, cogent, articulate, powerful argument that is perceived to be overbearing and coercive may be less persuasive than a kinder, gentler argument that leaves room for the reader to reach his or her own conclusions.

[ANDREW] WAY TO GO, BRIAN

Robert Hosak, acquisitions editor for Baker Books and Baker Academic: There’s no denying that we’re in the midst of what’s been called the “postmodern turn.” The issue as a publisher of church and academic resources isn’t about “what” we publish, but “how.” The church and culture issues have always been with the church; the challenge is communicating faithfully in a postmodern context.

[ANDREW] PUBLISHERS STILL SEE THEMSELVES AS SUPPLYING US WITH THE BULK OF OUR INFORMATION. I DONT THINK THEY REALIZE THE EXTENT OF INTERNET EMPOWERMENT, THE PRESENT RENAISSANCE OF WRITING, OR THE PARTNERSHIP IN CO-AUTHORSHIP THEY WILL NEED TO ADOPT IN ORDER TO WORK WITH “POSTMODERNS” TO PRODUCE TIMELY RESOURCES.

THE PEOPLE I JUST QUOTED ARE QUITE POSITVE, BUT THERE ARE OTHER VOICES ALSO. HERE IS ONE OF THEM:

Nelson author John MacArthur: Since postmodernism and Christianity start with antithetical and incompatible presuppositions, there is no philosophical common ground between them. For that reason I’m convinced the only right response to postmodernism—and the only way for Christians to reach a world steeped in postmodern thought—is to confront postmodernism at its philosophical starting point and expose the utter folly and futility of this system that abandons the very notion of truth at the outset.

[ANDREW] THANKS FOR THAT, JOHN.

AND IN ANOTHER PLACE . . .

MacArthur: I don’t see enough opposition or backlash; I think there’s been far too much accommodation. Authors like John Piper, Al Mohler, and R. C. Sproul have done a good job of being biblical, readable, and understandable, without dumbing down the message or skipping over the hard parts.

[ANDREW] WOULD MACARTHUR MIND IF WE OPPOSED SOME OF HIS GUYS? OR DO WE JUST NEED TO ACCEPT THEIR VIEWS. I KNOW I DISAGREED WITH MOHLER OVER THE POSTWESTERN ISSUE ONCE.

Stanford: E-books are becoming more popular but they still haven’t taken off yet. Many books and authors have Web sites now, where readers can interact with the author or other readers. Many books and/or Web sites include discussion guides, reflecting our need as readers to interact with one another about ideas.

[ANDREW] GOOD COMMENT, BUT I STILL FEEL THAT MOST OF THESE PUBLISHERS DO NOT REALIZE THAT WE ARE IN THE MIDST OF A RENAISSANCE OF WRITING, THE END OF POST-LITERACY, A SWELLING MOVEMENT OF SELF-PUBLISHING AND WE SEE OURSELVES AS CO-AUTHORS IN ALL WRITING PROJECTS – OURS OR THEIRS.
I ALSO DO NOT THINK THEY UNDERSTAND HOW FAR FORWARD WE HAVE COME SINCE THE DAYS OF EARLY POSTMODERNITY, AND HOW DIFFERENT THE EMERGING MIND IS FROM THE 1970’S AND 1980’S VERSIN OF IT.
I ALSO THINK THAT AS LONG AS THEY BASE THERE RESERACH ON SEMINARY STUDENTS AND TEACHERS DEEP INSIDE THE CHRISTIAN MATRIX, THEY WILL ALWAYS HAVE A SKEWED VERSION OF REALITY. HOWEVER, I AM GLAD THEY ARE WRESTLING WITH THE ISSUES AND I WISH THEM GOD’S INSIGHT AND BLESSING.
YOUR COMMENTS ON THEIR CONVERSATION WILL HELP.

Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name “Precious” :-)

4 Comments

  • Well, I think we all know where John McArthur stands…. we’re all (if we’re postmodern to any degree) not of the elect and we’re gonna split hell wide open! McLaren might be right about the “Calvinist Establishment.” But, it makes total sense to me… Calvinists are EXTREME linear thinkers… look at their catchecisms (don’t think I spelled that correctly), and their creeds, and everything else about how they “teach”… linear, repetitive, rote learning… no time to explore the beauty, to enjoy the process… no opportunity to let up, and look out.. must keep the blinders on and forget about experiencing life so I can learn everything I can about why what I believe is RIGHT!
    Such a sad existence…. I thought Jesus said he was bringing us an ABUNDANT life.

  • Great post.
    I found myself feeling very under the microscope though. You can see all kinds of stuff under it but you have to pan out to really understand me. I am not only what you see in the narrow lens.
    I think they nailed it on a lot of the points but still felt like I was in an exhibit at the zoo and the people were trying to understand the strange critter hiding under that rock over there.
    I don’t know, I guess I am nervous because I know they are trying to figure me out to try to sell me something with a pomo logo on it.
    It’s like friendship with only converstion on the mind or an AMWAY salesman.

  • Emergent™

    Andrew Jones posted something that, I think, underscores the challenge of the contextualization/marketing dilemma facing the emerging church. It’s a fascinating read. Now, before I comment, I want to confess my addiction. I am a book addict. I’m one of…

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