Catholic NRSV Gospels Was #2 at Spring Arbor Thursday

As I’ve mentioned before, the overnight listings at Ingram/Spring Arbor are a great way to watch for breaking trends. I had never heard of the Word on Fire Bible, but it ranked second on Thursday, and the company has another 1,400 on order as of today. (This earned it a rank of #30 at Ingram overall,  It is the work of Archdiocese of Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron and contains study notes.

It is available in paperback, hardcover and leather-bound at 29.99, 39.99 and 59.99 USD respectively. From the Ingram listing:

Jacket Description/Flap:

Four years in the making, The Word on Fire Bible is a groundbreaking new series introducing readers to the strange, colorful world of the Bible.It was designed to appeal not just to Christians but to non-believers, searchers, and those with far more questions than answers. It doesn’t presume any experience with the Bible, catering to those unfamiliar with its many events and characters, while still providing rich insights to even the most biblically literate.

It’s a cathedral in print, the highest-quality Catholic Bible ever produced for mass distribution.

Inside this first volume of the series, you’ll find the four Gospels surrounded by illuminating artwork and helpful commentary from Bishop Robert Barron, the Church Fathers, and some of the greatest saints, mystics, artists, and scholars throughout history, allowing the story of Jesus Christ to shine with new clarity and splendor.

You’ll discover insights from John Chrysostom, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, John Henry Newman, G.K. Chesterton, Thrse of Lisieux, Fulton Sheen, John Paul II, and many other teachers in the way of the Spirit.

The translation used in The Word on Fire Bible is the New Revised Standard Version: Catholic Edition (NRSV-CE), which has received wide acclaim from academics and Church leaders…

More information at Church Pop

Catholic World Report has this review with excerpts, calling the edition “substantial, attractive, and evangelical.”

One minute video commercial:

Categories: Uncategorized

It Wasn’t a Great Year for Christian Authors, Pastors, Musicians

What follows appeared on Thinking Out Loud on December 30th. The impact stories like this have on Christian booksellers is very palpable. It’s now a week later and I’ve decided to share it here as well.

It wasn’t a good year for some people. Whether due to political allegiances, marital collapses or financial improprieties, the year was filled with missteps that damaged the brand of many key authors, pastors and leaders. The election and the pandemic proved to be catalysts for revealing some people’s true character. And we didn’t even consider the implications of the discussions that arose in the wake of Black Lives Matter.

Admittedly this list America-centric. But then again, what happened in the States was often the lead news item on nightly roundups in Canada, the UK and Europe. (If they didn’t know already, reporters in every country had to learn overnight how to report on the U.S. political system and election system.) These are names have a high recognition-factor in the broader Christian world. There were many others not included.

Here’s my recap:

Ravi Zacharias – The real tragedy here is that so much has come to light since his passing, leaving him no opportunity to respond or to repent. The legacy of his namesake ministry has been damaged in the process. It was more than just the exaggeration of academic credentials. It was about serious sexual misconduct. RZIM needs to do what they haven’t done so far: Act quickly. Rename the ministry in Canada and the U.S. as well as in Europe where it’s known as Zacharias Trust. Second, replace Ravi as the “voice” of the Let My People Think radio feature with some of the many gifted apologists currently on its speaker roster.

Eric Metaxas – An Australian blogger wrote, “Reading Metaxas’ tweets is like watching a man slowly drive his career as a public intellectual over a cliff.” In 2020, the author and talk show host did what so many did, suspending all reason and logic for an unqualified backing of Donald J. Trump. His “losing it” seemed to have no limits toward the end of the year, with the alleged sucker punch of a protester outside a RNC event, and his theft of Pentatonix’ audio track for his “Biden Did You Know?” video which YouTube appropriately removed a day later.

John Ortberg – Following an investigation into the popular author and pastor’s knowledge concerning a volunteer at Menlo Church which some argued should not have been permitted to be involved in children’s ministry there due to a possible attraction to minors, Ortberg was reinstated in March only to be outed in June by a family member who said that the pastor and author was actually protecting the identity of a different family member. That was all it took to pave the way for a final farewell.

Dave Ramsay – The self-proclaimed Christian financial guru’s complete disregard for health guidance dealing with the pandemic opened up a broader discussion and revealed what might be considered a somewhat toxic workplace.

Jerry Falwell, Jr. – Again, another person whose credibility was destroyed by unwavering support for Trump, which then opened up further investigation resulting in revelations of Falwell and his wife participating in what were, at the very least, some unusually close relationships involving other people. Current students and alumni are fighting to see his name distanced from Liberty University in order to preserve the value of the education they received. Falwell brought some of this on himself however, posting some pictures one might have wanted to keep private, which in itself showed a complete lack of discernment and wisdom.

Jim Bakker – Long before the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, Bakker had the cure for Coronavirus and was willing to sell it to you. Too bad it took the NIH (in the US) or NHS (in the UK) so many months to catch up to what Bakker already knew. His actions also cast a shadow on everyone who has ever been a guest on The Jim Bakker Show.

John MacArthur – Defying California state law, MacArthur’s Grace Church packed in unmasked worshipers during Covid-19’s second wave, insisting that God requires us to worship together and be assembled together. In many respects, this is an incomplete theological understanding of what it means to be united and what it means to be the church. Should MacArthur be on this list, or were his actions in 2020 simply a continuation of what he’s always been?

Franklin Graham – Another Trump election casualty, Graham’s situation collecting salaries from both the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse was thrust back into the spotlight. Being a Graham, expectations of character standards are always high and some are suggesting that Franklin doesn’t even come remotely close.

Jay Sekulow and Family – By December it’s easy to forget stories that were circulating in January, but in that month Ministry Watch reported on the salaries paid to execs of ministry organizations and the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) turned up repeatedly in the list. Jay Sekulow was #3 on the list at $1,421,188, while “spokesperson” Kim Sekulow was #5 with $1,053,432, and Gary Sekulow, CEO/COO was #7 at $985,847. (For some ministries the most recent year listed was several years old.) The money paid to some ministry leaders is an absolute atrocity.

Focus on the Family – Another story from earlier in the year, this popular organization declared that they were actually a church and as such not required to do any public reporting of their income or executive salaries. See our January article for all the ridiculous defenses FOTF gave for this action.

Mark Dever – The ecclesiology in general and church governance — and Covenant Membership in particular — of the 9 Marks church group caused one watchdog blogger to write, “…they appear to be in danger of redefining what constitutes the church. They have invented a system that is full of rules and regulations, many of which are conjecture. Yes, they quote Scripture but they often interpret Scripture through their own peculiar lens.” Just another example of the Calvinist/Reformed movement parting ways with mainstream Christianity.

Carl Lentz – Not sure that the greater damage resulting from Lentz’ confessed affair is to him or to the leadership of Hillsong. Especially Hillsong’s North American expansion efforts. Maybe I should have listed Brian and Bobbie Houston’s names instead. What did they know and when did they know it? Still, give it a year or two and I would expect to see Lentz surface heading another church somewhere.

Paula White – As a post-Charismatic, I have no objective problem with speaking in tongues, but feel that Trump’s “Spiritual Advisor” chose neither the right time or the right place. And what happened to the “angels from Africa?” Are they still on their way? What were they doing there in the first place? The public needs to know. Whatever damage Graham, Falwell and Metaxas did to Evangelicals, White did the same to her fellow Charismatics and Pentecostals.

Jen and Brandon Hatmaker – In some respects, I feel bad isolating this one ministry couple, so allow them to serve as stand-ins for all those Christian pastors whose marriages didn’t make it to the finish line.

Rachel and Dave Hollis – Ditto. Rachel is author of the huge publishing success, Girl Wash Your Face which only saw mediocre sales through some Christian channels despite being a national bestseller. Again, on this list as a stand-in for other Christian authors with a similar 2020 separation story.

Robert Jeffress – Another of the “court Evangelicals,” this SBC megachurch pastor and frequent guest on FOX-TV was a reminder of why churches and pastors should stay away from politics. It will take years for the damage done to the capital “C” Church to recover, and some say the name Evangelical is tarnished permanently. Meanwhile the SBC continues to report declines in baptisms and membership, which impacts its Broadman & Holman and LifeWay publishing empire.

The Episcopal Church – In a rather strange irony, the denomination which so greatly values the Communion sacrament as most central to their weekend worship found themselves preventing parishioners from improvising at home, which other bodies both permitted and encouraged during the lockdown. This resulted in the creation of the term “Eucharistic fast” to describe abstaining from The Lord’s Supper. Anglicans can only receive the bread and wine if the elements have been consecrated by an Anglican officiant. Eventually some churches got creative in finding ways to get the necessary items to congregants, but I can’t help but think they painted themselves into a corner by so greatly limiting access to the table.

Chris Rice – In October an investigation was launched concerning sexual assault claims against the Christian musician dating to when Rice was a guest artist at youth retreats for a Kentucky Church, reports the pastor found to be “credible.”

K. P. Yohannan – The financial oddities (or as I just accidentally typed it, auditees) of Gospel for Asia keep getting “curiouser and curiouser.” This isn’t a 2020 story, nor is it limited to the U.S., but an ongoing saga which simply doesn’t go away.

Sean Feucht – Similar to the Trump-related stories above, with an extra conspiracy theory or two thrown into the mix; instead of running for public office, this guy should have stuck to playing music and leading worship; though now I’m not even 100% sure about that.

Kirk Cameron – Like Feucht above, Cameron staged a mass event which totally disregarded health advisories. We’re supposed to spread the gospel, not super-spread Covid-19.

John Crist – After stepping back from touring and creating video content following sexual misconduct allegations in 2019, the comedian resurfaced in 2020, but to some, the humor just wasn’t working; it was too soon. Crist would do well to simply abandon the Christian market altogether and rebuild his brand as a mainstream stand-up comic where this sort of thing happens with greater regularity and with nobody batting an eye.

Kenneth Copeland – The faith healer and prosperity teacher was another Trump casualty, but his laughing at the thought of a Biden victory was somewhat eerie if not somewhat demonic; and in Copeland’s camp, they know a thing or two about demonic.

Willow Creek Leadership – A year ago Bill Hybels might have appeared on a similar list to this, but for the past twelve months, the leadership at Willow has in equal amounts both launched and stepped back from new initiatives, seeming like a small boy wandering the aisles of a department store in search of his parents.

Matthew Paul Turner – The author of Christian books for both children and adults came out as gay and announced his divorce. The latter has wider acceptance in the Church these days, and in some sectors the former is heading in that direction. His admission probably burned some bridges but it’s hard not to respect his transparency.

Albert Mohler, Jr. – I was once a fan, but in 2020 he became another SBC leader who got sucked into the Trump vortex.

James MacDonald – The disgraced former pastor popped up a few times in 2020 to make sure he was getting everything he had coming to him from Harvest Bible Chapel and Walk in the Word. The man who once used Easter Sunday to kick off a series on personal finances has revealed what is most near and dear to his heart. The NASDAQ is risen. It is risen indeed.

…That’s probably enough of this for one day. Or one year. This gives me no pleasure, but compiling this over the past several hours has been eye-opening. There was also one person I deliberately chose to exclude, and another I held back because of conflicted feelings about what I was seeing for myself and what others were reporting. Time will tell. It always does.

2021 can only be a better year, right? Let’s pray for that to be true.


Related: When do you remove books from display? We very briefly touched on this in this March 1st article.

Categories: Uncategorized

Currency Update

What a year it’s been for the dollar! Does this devalue your present inventory? With all our major distributors (given that we don’t have STL anymore and Ingram shipping rates are prohibitive) pricing in Canadian dollars only you can decide that. But if Parasource, HarperCollins, and Word Alive change their master exchange rate for some suppliers, then yes, it would devalue your inventory. Nelson/Zondervan and Baker are already at 1.2500 however, so those may not change.

It’s also interesting to consider that many of the major bankruptcies (think of one major chain and one major supplier) took place in years that the Canadian dollar was high to the U.S.; not the other way around.

Image this time shows USD (bottom line) Euro and Pound Sterling. Check these for yourself anytime at https://www.bankofcanada.ca/rates/exchange/daily-exchange-rates/

Categories: Uncategorized

The Two Constant Objections to The Message Bible

December 17, 2020 1 comment

Like many booksellers, I often find myself having to enduring some rather bizarre comments from customers about Bible versions. I do my best to correct these, but often I’m not considered as authoritative as some random person they watched on a video, or I’m considered to be biased because there is such great profit to be made in running a Christian bookstore. If only they knew…

This week in going through my hoardings, I discovered a single sheet which was no doubt part of larger package used in the early days to introduce The Message Bible. I don’t see an exact date, but this was distributed by the publisher, NavPress.

The first objection commonly raised is that The Message isn’t a true translation. In terms of the translations with which people are most familiar, there is some truth in this. (See below.) But it’s true of all translations to some degree. In the KJV rendering of Romans 6:1-2a we read, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid…”The term “God forbid;” is a popular colloquialism of the time, much akin to “God save the King!” But God’s name, or the name of any deity for that matter, doesn’t appear in the original languages, nor in any other English translation. It’s not the type of thing Paul would say, as a Jew or or as a Christ-follower. The KJV lapses into paraphrase at this point, and several others.

One linguistics source I checked several years ago expressed some difficulty with the word paraphrase. It basically said, “If you’re taking something in one word-set, and re-stating it for other readers in a different word-set, you are in fact translating.” In the Evangelical world, paraphrase has become a pejorative term, leaving the translation ripe for criticism by those lacking a fuller understanding of how the world of Bible translation operates.

Which brings us back to The Message:

Obviously, a person looking for purity in translation would be best to stick with NASB, but those who get irate when they feel a Bible lacks integrity by the addition of things which strictly speaking are not in the original languages would have greater issues with The Amplified Bible or The Voice.

The second common issue frequently raised is that The Message is the product of a single individual. I don’t remember hearing this so much when J. B. Phillips introduced his New Testament in Modern English or when more recently, N. T. Wright introduced his Kingdom New Testament. Both are respected, though people are free to disagree with Wright’s interpretations that are published elsewhere. Ken Taylor’s original The Living Bible was a one-man production, but Taylor freely acknowledged this and the publishing company he created met this objection head-on with the creation The New Living Translation (NLT) which involved 128+ scholars, but still gets confused with its predecessor by some people.

I will admit The Passion Translation by Brian Simmons is enduring much criticism and has been updated at least twice that I am aware of in a very short period of time. And there are a host of independent translations published each and every year which never make it to the Christian bookstore market, some of which are written by people whose scholarship leans more theologically liberal.

Here’s what I learned — which I didn’t consider previously — reading the information sheet:

Academics and scholars use the term peer review to describe the process by which their work is submitted for critique by others, and Eugene Peterson apparently followed this process…

…I think the people trashing The Message Bible are just looking for a fight. They’re the same people who become argumentative on so many fronts, a list of which isn’t needed in these times.

But Peterson himself was apparently surprised the first time he heard of a church using The Message as its core text for scripture readings. He didn’t envision the widespread popularity.

So my advice would be, purchase one, use it, enjoy it, but keep a more formal-correspondence or dynamic-equivalence translation close at hand.

 

Business and Professional Stories Show Faith in Action

There’s nothing like a business success story, and several times in my life I’ve taken the time to read a few of them. It’s interesting and inspiring to know how certain companies succeeded and why they succeeded, and this story of the American fast food chain Chick-fil-A is no exception.

Covert Cows and Chick-fil-A: How Faith, Cows, and Chicken Built an Iconic Brand by Steve Robinson is the story of the fried chicken sandwich chain told through the eyes of the person who served as its Chief Marketing Officer for many years. It doesn’t strongly purport to be a biography of Truett Cathy, the founder of the chain, but as a personality-driven enterprise, his signature was all over everything the company did and every decision they faced.

Strangely, I’m writing about a restaurant I’ve only stepped in for one minute, a sandwich I’ve never eaten, and an advertising campaign I’ve never experienced. (Then again, I’ve only once been to Hobby Lobby once but am equally aware of the founding family’s commitment to Christian ideals.)

Truett Cathy was outspoken about his faith in Christ. To this day, the restaurant locations remain closed on Sunday. Writing for Nelson Books, an imprint of Thomas Nelson, Steve Robinson is free to enumerate the Christian principles which drove the company and quote the relevant scriptures. That same faith is present in Robinson and his family.

When those principles and related comments concerning LGBTQ-related issues caused protests in 2012, that incident is barely referenced in a few short sentences on a single page. Most of the attention is given to the developing a work culture which truly serves its customers, and a corporate culture that is marked by great generosity. With the latter, Chick-fil-A’s sponsorship of various college-level football events is a huge part of their corporate identity.

This is a book you would give someone — hate to stereotype but probably male — who reads business books or biographies, or someone supportive of Christian ethics but not having crossed the line of faith, still willing to read a soft-message Christian book. Or maybe just someone who likes the cows in the advertising campaign. Everybody loves the cows.

…I hate to mention this, but I felt it was ironic that a book outlining how Christian values have driven the company’s desire to create the finest customer-service experience, that in the conversion of the book from hardcover to paperback they referenced a number of photo insert pages which were simply omitted in the paper edition, one of which is referenced on page 171. Maybe the purpose was to show what a less-than-pleasant customer experience looks like.

Categories: Uncategorized

HarperCollins to Re-issue Thompson Chain Reference Bible

HarperCollins Christian Publishing seems to think there is some life yet still for the Thompson Chain Reference Bible. That surprises me. I never did get into the concept of having to flip pages back and forth to follow the word study chain of references. I had very rare requests for them at our store and I felt it was the study system of a passing generation of readers.

Study Bibles, with their notes on the bottom of the page, had already spoiled me for how I got thematic information. Not to mention the online world of hyperlinks and drop-down menus; You Version, Blue Letter Bible, Bible Gateway, etc.

Then there’s the tension in some churches over whether teaching and study should be thematic in nature, drawing from a variety of selected texts, or expository (verse-by-verse) examination of a single text. Expository preaching has its advantages, but in the extreme, it can draw away from word study.

Harper bought the product line from Kirkbride and plan to release new versions in 2021, adding their Comfort Print® editions in 2022. The official announcement is here. There are currently editions available in five popular translations.

How Things Shaped Up at My Store

Usually when I publish a top 40 chart, I have to fudge the last 4 or 5 entries because the data doesn’t support a strong list of titles. But this time around, some things which did well (Dream Big by Bob Goff, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer, Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado, Chasing Vines by Beth Moore) actually got cut from the list for lack of space.

Also, it was interesting that we did our Spring 2020 list before the lockdown, and only 12 books that were there appeared here. Combined, it’s a healthy collection of about 70 great titles.

You’ll probably see titles that didn’t do as well where you work, but also have some that didn’t make our list at all. Feel free to compare notes in a comment here or in the dealer Facebook group. (By the way #1 was a complete surprise when I added up the numbers; it was really a tie with David Jeremiah, but I figured David gets enough encouragement; why not put a Canadian author at the top spot?)

Correction: Our #34 book was actually various editions of The Book of Enoch, though The Book of Jasher did well, too.

A Book People Should Know About: Inexpressible by Michael Card

Book Review: Inexpressible: Hesed and the Mystery of God’s Lovingkindness by Michael Card

Having greatly appreciated Michael Card’s Biblical Imagination series — four books on each of the gospels — I was more than interested to take a look at this 2018 title which looks at one word, a Hebrew word which does not have a direct equivalent in English, requiring translators and Bible commentators to invent the compound word lovingkindness.

I was in no way disappointed. Michael Card brings the gift of exposition to the matter of what students of the Bible at all levels call word study to a concept which is at the heart of our faith because it is central to the character and heart of God.

Just as his series on the Gospels was based on the text as rendered in the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), Card uses the newer Christian Standard Bible (CSB) here, but in the appendices to the book shows not only every instance of the Hebrew word’s appearance in the text, but also a scorecard for how (and how often) each of the current major English Bible translations render the word.

Some of those include:

  • mercy
  • steadfast love
  • faithful love
  • unfailing love
  • kindness
  • covenantal love

and are revealed in the stories of David, Ethan, Moses, Jeremiah, Hosea and various interactions that Jesus had with different people. On the last example, I cannot overstate the extent to which Jesus is hesed personified.

Most of the chapters are quite short, so this is another title to add to the list of books you can give you that person who isn’t a huge reader, as they can read it devotionally over a period of three weeks.

I don’t have a book-reviewer relationship with the publisher, InterVarsity (IVP), so I’ve bought the four Michael Card books mentioned here including this one. That said however, finishing Inexpressible has left me hungry for four other backlist titles he’s written which are still available.

Takeaway: Jesus is hesed personified.


For my initial review of the series on the gospels, written in 2014 after finishing two of them, click here.

Six years later, I finished the other two books in the series. For my take on the series from May of this year, click here.

Categories: Uncategorized

Books About What We Do and Where We’ve Come From

December 4, 2020 1 comment

Last summer I was able to get my hands on The House of Zondervan, released in 2006 when the company was celebrating 75 years. As someone who has been in this business for awhile, I really enjoyed this, and once they got to around the mid 1980s, there were names and organizations in the story which I recognized. Besides, it’s always valuable to reconnect with the original vision.

I was told that a year or two ago a similar book about Baker Book Group was in the works. I was even given a working title, and it occurred to me at the time they ought to send it out free to people who’ve been at this a long time. But if the book ever existed — and perhaps it was just about Chosen Books or Bethany House — I can’t even locate the title anymore. (This is another example of why Google completely fails at certain types of searches. It latches on to key words to the detriment of what you’re actually seeking.) If you have one, please send me the proper title and/or ISBN.

In looking, I discovered Leap of Faith by Norman Grubb (who wrote Rees Howells: Intercessor) which is a history of Christian Literature Crusade (CLC).

I mention all this today because I just picked up a remainder copy of Heart, Soul, Mind, Strength: An Anecdotal History of InterVarsity Press, 1947 – 2007. Having worked for IVP at both the Leslie Street location in Toronto and the Denison Road warehouse in Markham, I know I’ll recognize some of the players, at least from the late 1970s.

I’m also fairly certain there’s a history of Thomas Nelson, and if not, Michael Hyatt wrote some helpful online articles which are still available.

If you really want to go deep, the periodical The Christian Librarian has an 84 page history of Christian publishing that’s free to read at Digital Commons.

Are there any books about NavPress? David C. Cook? Anyone else? Feel free to mention them to me in an email or in the comments.

Pastor of one of Canada’s Largest Churches Updates His Signature 2010 Title

Book Review: The End of Religion: Encountering the Subversive Spirituality of Jesus (Revised Edition) by Bruxy Cavey (Herald Press)

I’ve never undertaken to read and review an updated edition or second edition of any book I’ve already covered, but this is an exceptional undertaking worthy of fresh consideration. Besides, I’ve often said that while some writers’ body of works builds up to a crescendo over a lifetime, other authors state most plainly and forthrightly in their first volume what represents the tenor of their ministry; so why not revisit that a decade later, as is the case here.

The updated version of The End of Religion represents a complete revamping of the original NavPress book from start to finish, with the addition of a new preface and five entirely new chapters.

This is a book about Jesus.

In that vein, it looks at the human tendency to religiosity, and the way that has sometimes, and in some places made the Christian faith about everything but Jesus. Its aim is to renew us to seek the restoration of the type of faith practiced in the First Century and echoed throughout history by those who practice that goal, but also a type of discipleship seemingly lost in modern Protestantism, Catholicism or Evangelicalism.

This is a theme the book constantly returns to, but it does so inasmuch as it is constantly returning to Jesus.

Bruxy Cavey is the teaching pastor of an alter-cultural church in the greater Toronto, Canada area called The Meeting House. With one mother-ship in Oakville on the city’s west fringes — they prefer the term ‘Production Center’ — they have 20 satellite sites — they prefer the classic term ‘parishes’ — which in less pandemic times meet in theaters in Southern Ontario, with a number of additional distant affiliates in diverse places such as Scotland and Italy.

By the way, I love that word alter-cultural. Bruxy’s teaching style, self-deprecating nature and overall sense of humor are found in the book which makes the serious topics it studies a fun read, although I do recommend using two bookmarks, keeping one in the text itself and one in the notes.

Organizationally, the 27 chapters of the book are arranged in three sections which look at the irreligious life of Jesus, how his life and teachings stood in contrast to key elements of the Judaism which provides the context for his time on earth, and the implications for our own words and deeds. Each chapter contains an ample helping of scripture references and there’s also the aforementioned notes to consider.

Who is the intended audience? In many respects, his 2017 title (re)Union: The Good News of Jesus for Seekers, Saints and Sinners (Herald Press; see my review here) is by definition the book you give to someone camped out on the edge of faith. That said, this newer one covers so much primary, formative and apologetic ground that if the seeker in question isn’t intimidated by 400+ pages, they might really appreciate gaining a very thorough understanding of what it is to which they are potentially making a commitment.

While there were echoes of the previous edition to be encountered, I found them to be rare. This is a very updated update! I’d recommend this to anyone looking to read something with an intense Jesus focus.

9781513805498 | Herald Press – Parasource in Canada | $19.99 US – $25.99 CDN

Currency Exchange: Buying USD Closed Friday at 1.2985

After hovering near the 1.300 mark all week, the Canadian dollar closed Friday with the cost of a US dollar at 1.2985. (Your bank adds 2.5% or 2.75% in exchange fees.) We tend to listen to financial news and hear reports like “The Canadian Dollar closed at 77.01 cents;” but to those of us who buy products which are then resold at prices indexed to the U.S. dollar, it’s that reciprocal 1.2985 number which matters more.

For many of us, with the passing of STL Distribution, the only key publishing supplier which requires us to determine Canadian retail prices is Ingram. Here’s how things look across the landscape currently:

HarperCollins: 1.2500, rounded to nearest 50 cents
Parasource (Baker Group): 1.2500, rounded to nearest 50 cents
Parasource (several other key publishers): 1.3500
Parasource (Dayspring and others): 1.4000
Word Alive: 1.4000

Categories: Uncategorized

Pop Singer’s Musical Past Returns Unexpectedly

I stopped watching music award shows a few years back. I see the Grammys, Billboard and American Music Association award shows appear in my television listings with a passing nod. But on Monday night, after the NBC Nightly newscast ended and Entertainment Tonight came on, I watched the first five minutes, to see what made news in their world over the weekend. It’s a refreshing contrast to the politics of Nightly.

And there it was. A Praise and Worship chorus from the past. “As the Deer” by Martin [Marty] Nystrom from 1984 is based on Psalm 42. It is a “scripture song” type of worship composition with the original lyrics borrowed from the King James. The Psalmist is speaking to God, but the song came out before it was de rigeur that all the songs we sing in church be “vertical” in their lyrical orientation.

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longs after You
You alone are my hearts desire
And I long to worship You.

Singing the song was Katy Perry. This didn’t come entirely as a surprise. Born Katy Hudson, she is the daughter of a husband and wife pastoral team, and made a Christian music album under that name. I have two copies of the CD in their original shrink-wrap that I’m waiting for the right time to sell, but alas, I digress.

The song was used as an introduction to the song “Only Love.” (What’s the opposite of a coda?) It’s from her new album Smile and you can hear the original at this link.

Eighty-six thousand, four hundred seconds in a day
I swear lately most of ’em have been a waste
I feel ’em come and go, bury my mistakes
But time just goes on and on in a way

It’s a song of lament, to be sure. The chorus is:

Oh, I’d call my mother and tell her I’m sorry
I never call her back
I’d pour my heart and soul out into a letter
And send it to my dad
Like, oh my God, the time I’ve wasted
Lost in my head
Let me leave this world with the hate behind me
And take the love instead

The song continues. The second verse contains the s-word, but make no mistake, she’s christened this song to be sung at youth group on Friday night, assuming the group is still meeting in person. You can read the full lyrics here.

The song ends,

…Yeah, give me
Only love, only love
Let me leave this world with the hate behind me
And take the love instead.

In a Facebook group for Praise and Worship leaders to which I belong, Marty Nystrom himself chimed in on Monday:

As I watched the American Music Awards I was baffled that a scripture song would be on the same platform as the other performances. My hope is that this is a small indication that Katy Perry is growing dry in her pursuit of this world’s accolades and thirsting for the refreshing she knew in her youth. Let it be Lord! And let her lead millions to Jesus!

…Lots of today’s top musicians got their musical start in church. I follow a band on YouTube called Pomplamoose. It’s fronted by Nataly Dawn and Jack Conte, the latter known for creating a fundraising platform for artists called Patreon. Nataly recently mentioned getting her start in church music.

About an hour east of where I live is a town called Napanee, where a young Avril Lavigne attended the Christian school. There, she would have been surrounded by Contemporary Christian Music and Modern Worship.

There are many more examples like this in the world of R&B music.

I don’t know what prompted Katy Perry to return to her musical roots on the AMA awards show, but can’t help observe that she’s now a mom, and parenthood does cause a lot of people to think about things they hadn’t considered since childhood. On that, I’ll leave the last word to Marty Nystrom’s interpretation of Psalm 42:

I want You more than gold or silver
Only You can satisfy
You alone are the real joy giver
And the apple of my eye

 

Categories: Uncategorized