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Archive for November, 2013

Footprints, Sort Of…

Footprints Parody 2

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U.S. Christian Bookstore Chains Slash Prices for Black Friday

Black Friday 2013 Christian Bookstores

U.S. Christian bookstore chains Lifeway, Mardel and Family Christian offered customers discounted frontlist book, music and DVD titles to a degree unheard of on this side of the border.  Pictured above, Family Christian had a total of 7 Chris Tomlin titles for $5, and offered the newest titles by David Platt, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer and Craig Groeschel at half price.  Lifeway had the Courageous movie for $3.99, CDs by Sidewalk Prophets, TobyMac and Chris Tomlin for only $4, as well as top selling books like Harbinger and Not a Fan for only $4. Mardel offered a 60% price cut on the newest NIV audio bible, reg. $124.99 selling at only $49.99.

In Canada, David C. Cook was ready a month ago with an offering of Black Friday specials for Canadian stores, but avoided “A” list titles of the type U.S. retailers presented. When U.S. retailers and online vendors such as CBD offer deep discounts, it’s generally understood that authors and artists are taking royalty cuts, but this writer has never understood if this is a contractual obligation, or why any self-respecting author would feel it is in their best interests to have their titles sold so cheaply in print.

In this country, Boxing Day is still considered the prime shopping day of the year, however on Thursday night, the CBC had reported the gap between the two was narrowing, with almost as many planning to shop Black Friday, a shopping event that was unheard of in this country as recently as three years ago.

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Further Evidence Emerges of Mark Driscoll Plagiarism

November 28, 2013 1 comment

Religion News Service’s Jonathan Merritt continues to follow the allegations of talk show host Janet Mefferd — reported here last week — that author and pastor Mark Driscoll has plagiarized large sections of other books. There’s a saying in academic life that copying from one source is plagiarism; copying from two sources is research. But in fact, you can copy from one source if you want to as long as you cite your source; as long as you give proper attribution.

Mefferd has uncovered further examples, and posted the texts on a 27-page .pdf document. This really stretches the need for us to use the term “alleged” because,

  1. Some of the text excerpts are word-for-word, and
  2. There is a complete absence of footnotes

Mefferd however takes this one step further and alleges a desire to suppress the story on the part of Driscoll’s publishers — Tyndale and Crossway — and/or make her (Mefferd) look like the bad guy. On her show, she suggests the companies are putting profits over principles.  You can listen to her radio show here.  (Select 11.26.13 and choose hour #2)

Here is some of Merritt’s article, you can read it in full here.

Syndicated radio host Janet Mefferd sent shockwaves throughout social media when she accused megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll of plagiarism in a heated on-air exchange last week. In the last two days, however, Mefferd has turned up the heat with additional allegations. On Tuesday, she posted photocopied evidence that Driscoll borrowed material — this time, word for word — in another of his books, Trial: 8 Witnesses From 1&2 Peter. As Mefferd’s evidence demonstrates, Driscoll published several sections from D.A. Carson’s New Bible Commentary without proper citation.

Mefferd struck again on Wednesday, providing two additional allegations of plagiarism— both taken word-for-word from Carson’s New Bible Commentary and published in Driscoll’s book on 1&2 Peter. Carson has said that preachers who plagiarize are “stealing” and “deceiving.” Requests for a comment sent to the office of D.A. Carson were not immediately returned.

Last week, Mefferd claimed Driscoll plagiarized Dr. Peter Jones for at least 14 pages in his book, A Call to Resurgence. She has since released documentation in an effort to support these claims.

[click the above link to continue reading]

For further background on this story check the investigative blog, The Wartburg Watch.

UPDATE (11/30) — A post on the blog Spiritual Sounding Board reprinted a comment on Janet Mefferd’s site from a reader which purports to be a response from ‘Customer Service’ at Tyndale issued on Wednesday. It reads,

…Tyndale House takes any accusation of plagiarism seriously and has therefore conducted a thorough in-house review of the original material and sources provided by the author. After this review we feel confident that the content in question has been properly cited in the printed book and conforms to market standards.

I must confess having a hard time reconciling this statement with the material Mefferd’s .pdf file posting seems to clearly indicate. Mefferd’s radio show suggests that Tyndale has launched a “Resurgence” brand, therefore they have more at stake here than just the one title. Mefferd also attempted to get a response from Crossway, Driscoll’s other primary publisher, without success.

Follow-up question for industry types who read this blog: What would Tyndale House founder Ken Taylor think of all this?

9 Keys to Great Customer Service

This appeared on the blog of Brad Lomenick — click here to read at source — a major force behind the annual Catalyst conference:

I’ve worked on some great teams over the past several years, and seen great customer service in action. One of the places I learned the most about great customer service was Lost Valley Ranch, an incredible 4 diamond guest ranch in Colorado. Serving the guests was part of the DNA of the staff. We took great pride in our ability to create a great experience for our guests through unmatched excellent customer service.

Here are a few of the ways we did that through great customer service:

1. Treat someone like you would want to be treated- the Golden Rule. It really does work. And it makes sense. Common sense. Use it.

2. Remember someone’s name. Always. Especially when you’ve met them before or talked with them before.

3. Let your actions speak way louder than your words. Don’t just talk about it. Make it happen. Your work can be a great example of your attitude and commitment to service.

4. Anticipate. Stay a step ahead of your clients or guests. Don’t wait for them to ask for something. Be proactive. Figure it out before they even need it.

5. Go the extra step. Have a “+1″ type of attitude and demeanor. Not just anticipating, but actually doing more than what is expected or required of you. Make memories for your client or guest by wowing them with the “above and beyond.”

6. Engage in meaningful conversation. Listen really really well. Serving creates opportunity for impact- it builds a bridge. So make sure to connect with your guests or clients through conversation when it’s appropriate. Understand who they are by understanding what they read, what they watch, where they travel and what their interests are. If you deal with families, learn their kids names and hobbies. Little things add up.

7. Give permission. Make sure your entire staff and everyone in the organization feels empowered to respond immediately to a customer service issue. Empower your employees at every level in the organization to respond and resolve. Especially those on the front line of service. Give them freedom to say yes as often as possible.

8. Own the relationship, and the result. Your answer should never be “that’s not my job.” Take initiative to see the problem or the issue through to the very end. IF you have to hand the relationship off to someone else, make sure you literally walk them to that other person, introduce them, and hand them off well. If over the phone or through email, the same applies. Constantly make sure you are “walking” with that person through the process.

9. Look people in the eye. This one gets forgotten like #2 above. But makes a big difference.

Categories: Uncategorized

Who is Recommending Christian Resources?

100 Huntley Street Counseling Center

The 1970’s saw the birth of the daily live Christian television talk shows, starting with programs such as The 700 Club, and along with those shows came the banks of telephone counselors waiting to counsel, pray with and process donations for viewers.

In later years, I was actually on the receiving end of those calls for two different ministry organizations, and as is typical — hindsight is always 20/20 — I wish I had known then what I know now. More specifically, I wish I had known that for every question viewers might ask, there were books by trusted authors that addressed major topics from a Christian perspective.  While it will never happen, I wish that I was taking those calls today, and I could, in addition to being a listening ear and offering to pray with the individual, say, “You know you might really benefit from reading….”

Maybe someone should establish a national call-in line for such a person.

Seriously.

There are pastors out there today who probably don’t have the least inkling of the wealth of printed (and audio and DVD) resources that address subjects they are trying to deal with. The average bookseller is probably in tune with at least ten times the knowledge of available products. And that’s just off the top of their heads, without next appealing to various search engines, and then applying their wisdom as to what constitutes a trustworthy publication.

Instead, we’re left with the ‘Wild, Wild West’ that is the internet. People go online seeking advice, not necessarily knowing who is behind the websites they’re reading. Counseling from Christian organizations has gone online as well, but the telephone counselor has been replaced with a keyboard counselor who is probably suffering from the same dearth of knowledge as to Christian print and media titles.

There was, however, one place of refuge for the seeker of practical Christian advice, or deeper understanding of the scriptures: The Christian bookstore.  Take the Christian bookstores out of the equation, not to mention the relative losses of people who worked in, managed, or owned such stores, and the gap between products and people continues to grow.

Of course, online vendors carry the same products, and online resources provide today’s consumer with a host of means to verify the spiritual credibility of a particular website or product, if they choose to investigate. But securing the connection between need and applicable resource takes a different route.

It’s too bad there aren’t people answering the phones and online inquiries who are well-versed in the current catalogue of Christian products.

Photo: 100 Huntley Street; David Mainse blog

Mark Driscoll Accused of Plagiarism in A Call to Resurgence

From RNS (Religious News Service):

Syndicated Christian radio host Janet Mefferd accused Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll of plagiarism on her Nov. 21 broadcast. Mefferd claimed that Driscoll quoted extensively from the work of Dr. Peter Jones for at least 14 pages in his book, A Call to Resurgence, without direct or proper citation.

“In this book,” Driscoll responded, “I took [Jones’] big idea and worked it out through the cultural implications but I wasn’t working specifically from his text.”

Peter Jones is an author and adjunct professor at Westminister Seminary California whose areas of interest include “ancient and medieval paganism.” Driscoll said that most of what he’s learned from Dr. Jones was acquired in conversations over meals where Driscoll was not taking notes.

“Don’t you think that it’s important when you’re using someone else’s materials that you footnote the person?” Mefferd pressed.

Driscoll acknowledged that he, in fact, did make mention of Jones in the footnotes once, though it was an unspecific citation without page numbers.

“If I made a mistake,” he said, “then I apologize to Dr. Jones, my friend…that was not my intent, for sure.”

But this did not satisfy Mefferd, who continued to press Driscoll: “It troubles me, though, Mark because I’ve read Peter Jones, I know Peter Jones … and this is his intellectual property and you don’t give him any credit for it.”

At this point, the interview grows tense. Driscoll accused Mefferd of “having sort of a grumpy day” and “giving me orders in front of an audience.”…

Continue reading the story, including an official response from Tyndale House, at this link

Listen to the entire interview — including discussion of Driscoll’s ‘crashing’ the Strange Fire conference (37 minutes) at this link.

UPS, DHL Announce Rate Hikes for 2014

The “landed” cost of receiving book shipments in the Christian bookstore environment usually includes a freight component, though with mainstream publishers such as Hachette, HarperCollins and Random House, this is not the case. Any freight charge increase basically amounts to a percentage of a percentage, so it’s not a deal breaker when it comes to ordering, but still, costs do add up.

In the article linked below, UPS, the top-ranked parcel delivery service, announced a 4.9% increase on top of a 5.9% increase in May. The article notes a DHL price increase of 3.9% as well. Both companies’ latest increases are effective in the new year.

Shipping costs are a contentious issue in the Christian bookstore market, especially for stores in Western Canada, with the largest suppliers — David C. Cook, Augsburg-Fortress Canada, and Foundation Distributing — being located in Ontario.

Continue reading at Transport Topics.

Pete Wilson’s Third Book Will Connect With Readers

What if you have a customer who has never read a Christian book? Assuming there wasn’t a particular issue you’d been discussing — you just wanted to give them a taste of Christian authors — you’d probably choose something from that catch-all category, ‘Christian Living,’ and odds are good your default choice might be something by Max Lucado.

But what if your friend was at an earlier stage of life and might relate better to someone who is raising a young family, with all the turbulence that tends to bring? I think one of the three books by Nashville pastor Pete Wilson would make the ideal gift, and furthermore, I think Max would agree.

Pete Wilson - Let Hope InPete Wilson’s third book, Let Hope In: Four Choices That Could Change Your Life Forever (Thomas Nelson) continues the conversational and transparent writing (and preaching) style evidenced in Plan B, and Empty Promises. Packed with stories from Pete’s life (so far) and illustrations from other sources, the book connects with readers on various life challenges, and could be read devotionally over a couple of weeks, or in a concentrated reading over a couple of days.

The premise of the book is simple: All of us are impacted and impaired by our past mistakes and failures, and we have to override what those past experience are telling us and, with God’s help make proactive choices.

There’s a really lame ‘footnotes’ page at the back that gives you the impression that not a lot of research went into Let Hope In. That is simply not the case, as a closer look reveals the scripture passages alluded to, but not directly referenced. Or as one reviewer suggested, ” Every chapter is filled with quote-worthy statements, scriptural support, and stories.” The book is informal, almost casual yet is still rich in application points.

Mostly, the thing about Pete Wilson’s writing that shines is that he’s working through the same issues as all of us do; he is a fellow traveler on the journey; he writes about the things that all of us long for.

Watch a video preview for Let Hope In.

Read an excerpt from the book at Christianity 201..

Read what others are saying about Let Hope In.

Categories: Uncategorized

Title Connects With Customers, If They Know It’s There

Sometimes a title needs extra attention in order to make customers aware, but they’re often thankful for you taking the time to show them. In fact, it’s the books that don’t fit neatly into categories that are usually the most interesting. Often, all those books need is a retailer or two who is willing to step up to the plate to help a title grab some attention, and sales associates willing to do a little hand-selling.

Jesus on Every Page - Davd MurrayJesus on Every Page: 10 Simple Ways to Seek and Find Christ in the Old Testament by David Murray (Thomas Nelson, 2013) is in some respects an adult version of a Children’s Bible that came out a couple of years ago, The Jesus Storybook Bible. I thought it rather odd that so many Christian bloggers and book reviewers chose to review a product for kids, but many were drawn to the way each of that book’s stories ended with a paragraph or two noting how the stories prefigured the coming of Jesus.

But David Murray’s book is more than a grown up storybook. He explains that he was actually looking for something that would be displayed in the academic/reference section, until the publishers suggested something more pedestrian. You would never know that it started out more highbrow; to the contrary I would have been more than happy if the book were double its 200-odd page length. It was easy to follow and left me wanting more.

Jesus on Every Page begins with how the Old Testament is reflected in the words of Jesus, Peter, John and Paul. But then the action really kicks in, looking at the hidden, and not-so-hidden pictures of the coming Messiah that are found in the law, the covenants, the trajectory of Israel’s history, the typology and so on to the poetry and proverbs. “The book of Proverbs;” Murray says, “is the Old Testament’s Twitter.”

David Murray seems to love to import illustrations from our modern world. This is very much today’s study on this topic.

It’s as if gospel was spelled in a 12-point font in the Old Testament and in a 1200-point in the New Testament. Or we might say that it was pictured in the Old using thumbnails but blown up to poster size in the New. (p. 149)

I finished the book a few days ago, but found myself re-reading entire sections. Any one of the ten featured chapters could be its own book, and taken together, the book is an excellent primer on Old Testament interpretation.

Clearly written, well-researched, next-generation friendly, and immensely practical; Jesus on Every Page earns my highest recommendation, but with one caveat: The challenge here will be to whet people’s appetite for this topic and then get the book into their hands. Perhaps someone struggling with the Old Testament, or unconvinced of the connection between the Old and the New will already have a hunger for what this offers.

David Murray pastored in Scotland for twelve years before going to the U.S. in 2007 where he is now Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and Pastor of Grand Rapids Free Reformed Church. Besides the book, his primary web presence is with HeadHeartHand.org self-described as a media organization providing creative and production services for Christian ministries.

The book categorically proves that Christ is not only foreshadowed in the First Testament, but is very much present and active.

Sometimes when I’ve finished a review, I click around to see what others thought. After reading a dozen such, I thought you would especially enjoy this one. And this one, too.

Rethinking Bible Translation Categories

Bible Translations

Although we tend to classify Bible translations as fitting into one of two categories, formal correspondence and dynamic equivalence, or a third category which is a combination of the other two; I’d like to propose a different way of understanding what is currently on the market in terms of clusters.

Contemporary

These are versions that read the same as other products people would be reading (magazines, newspapers, blogs) and are currently gaining traction.

  • New Living Translation (NLT) — Though Tyndale Publishing House lacks Zondervan’s expertise when it comes to marketing, and tends to get mired in an obsession for One Year Bible editions which scramble the text order, the translation itself continues to catch on with readers.
  • Common English Bible (CEB) — A recent attempt to offer something in modern language that specifically targets the mainline Protestant market.
  • New Century Version (NCV) — Its simplified reading level allows you to read faster, and pick up macro-themes. Though it’s also the International Children’s Bible, it reads and was written for adults.

Denominational Niche Versions

Some may object that the first one in this list sees broader usage, but for the most part, these editions are associated with the denomination named.

  • English Standard Version (ESV) — Reformed, Calvinist
  • New American Bible (NAB) — Roman Catholic
  • Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) — Baptist
  • New King James Version (NKJV) — Charismatic, Pentecostal, Conservative Evangelical

Popular

Some versions are now simply famous for being famous. The translations have become so familiar to users and are used so widely in various types of churches that this widespread use eclipses any unique features.

  • New International Version (NIV) — You could argue that without Zondervan’s aggressive push to see “a Bible for every age and every stage,” there wouldn’t have been the push-back of the King James Only movement. In 2013 (and as you’ll see again in 2014), HarperCollins Christian Publishing continues to offer creative ways to get people engaged in the scriptures. For the record, Zondervan — or parent HarperCollins, or Rupert Murdoch — doesn’t own the NIV, but licenses use of it from Biblica aka the International Bible Society.
  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) — Despite the above, the Mainline Protestant market continues to perceive the NIV as an Evangelical product, and therefore gravitates to New Revised. The translation philosophies are actually very similar. Also available in a Catholic edition that is widely used.
  • King James Version (KJV) — It’s been 402 years; enough already!

Unique Alternatives

Some versions offer a creative approach that simply sets them apart, including the first two here, which could equally land in the Contemporary cluster above.

  • The Voice — Puts the Bible in a dramatic script format, and adds some additional sentences to clarify the story. Possibly the most radical translation since the KJV, for which The Voice Bible translation teams has great respect.
  • The Message — A translation (please don’t say ‘paraphrase,’ it’s neither accurate nor applicable) that uses conversational English and (in the original editions) strips out verse numbers.
  • The Amplified Bible — A Bible that saves you running to a Hebrew or Greek dictionary by offering additional shades of meaning for key words.
  • The Expanded Bible — A more recent version that uses a similar approach to the Amplified.
  • New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) — A Roman Catholic Bible which has an English edition that was translated to English from its French counterpart.
  • New Interational Reader’s Version (NIrV) — An NIV broken up into smaller sentences with a limited vocabulary. Marketed mostly to children, an adult edition is available for people for whom English is a second language. Quite different from the NCV which is also marketed for kids, the NIrV sounds like a children’s reading primer.
  • The Living Bible — The forerunner of the NLT, this was officially superseded by it; a small but loyal following keeps it in print. This one is a paraphrase, in this case of the RSV which preceded the NRSV.
  • J. B. Phillips — As radical as The Message when first released, unfortunately, this was only a New Testament. Still frequently quoted.
  • Jewish New Testament — Although a complete edition of both the Jewish Old Testament and New Testaments is available, I mention the NT here because seeing the Hebrew names and terminology makes for interesting (and most contextual) reading.

Academic

  • New American Standard Bible (NASB) — Although once forecast to be for the North American English market what the NIV became, the NASB, through its more rigorous following of the formal correspondence translation method, is a more difficult read. It’s a reliable workhorse of a translation, often found in Bible Colleges and Seminaries, but not so frequently quoted in books or sermons anymore. If you write your own Bible translation, this is the one they’ll compare with you with, verse-for-verse.

Lost in Translation

A few editions that filled a void in the market at one time, are still available, but not so often talked about.

  • Good News Translation (GNT) also known as Today’s English Version (TEV) — A production of the American Bible Society that served mainline Protestants, Evangelicals and Friday night youth groups well.
  • Contemporary English Version (CEV) — The Bible Society’s attempt to replicate its success with the Good News Bible a generation later. It was not hugely popular at the time, but it is surprising how often it will turn up quoted by pastors and authors, even if most of us don’t own a copy.
  • God’s Word (GW) — A project begun as an attempt to complete the Beck translation, which served as a style guide. Many of the earliest contributors were Lutheran, but the Bible is seen as interdenominational Evangelical.

It’s important to remember that phrases like “Key Study Bible” and “Life Application Bible” refer to specific editions, some of which are offered across several translation platforms.

I recommend to customers that they consider owning at least one Bible in each of the first four clusters. If they’re buying a Bible for someone as a gift, I remind them that their personal favorite may not be the best Bible for the recipient. You can preview all the translations named here (except the one from Messianic Jewish Publications) at BibleGateway.com

Comments from KJV-only advocates will be cast into the sea of forgetfulness and remembered no more.

This article appeared today at Thinking Out Loud, and was linked to from Christianity 201.

Canadian Gospel Music Asssocation Honours Lando Klassen

November 14, 2013 1 comment

Lando Klassen - CGMA Lifetime Achievement Award

GMA Canada awarded Lando Klassen a Lifetime Achievement Award during
ceremonies held November 6th at the CTS Studios in Burlington, Ontario as
part of the 2013 Covenant Awards. GMA Canada (Gospel Music Association
Canada) recognized Lando Klassen’s 40 years of dedication to Canadian
Gospel music artists. Beginning in 1973 as “The House Of James Book And
Record Shop” in Mission, B.C., the Christian retail store was birthed out
of a coffee house that began in 1970. The cozy 12′ by 40′ space had a
suite in the back, where Lando Klassen and some of his friends lived. As a
music-loving, enthusiastic teenager Lando Klassen created a place where
faith was put to work in real and practical ways. And music was always a
part of the ministry.

From its humble beginnings, House of James grew exponentially over the years,
eventually moving to Abbotsford and its current 12,500 square-foot Through
time Lando Klassen made his store a gathering point for Canadian artists,
with a coffee house and stage that have played host to artists as diverse
as Brian Doerksen, Steve Bell, Carolyn Arends, Greg Sczebel Starfield, Dan
Bremnes and many The little coffeehouse that started in the 1970¹s may
have had a face lift or two, but the ministry is still the same.

Lando Klassen joins a list of other industry builders who have helped
Canadian Gospel music impact both Canada and the world including Gerry
Scott (Image 7 Records) and Arlen Salte (Breakforth Ministries). GMA
Canada also awards their Lifetime Achievement Award to artists. This
year’s artist award was given to Servant, with 6 members of the band
accepting the award during the ceremonies in Burlington. Previous artist
winners have included George Beverly Shea, Tommy Hunter, The Daniel Band,
Hokus Pick, The Toronto Mass Choir and Rhythm And News.

~photo of Lando and Kathy Klassen, and story supplied by GMA Canada

Recording Artist Manafest Debuts as Author

November 11, 2013 1 comment

There are some books that might never land on my home bookshelves that nonetheless deserve to be on our store bookshelves. One of those is Fighter by Christian music artist Manafest. Three reasons to carry this book: (1) Supporting Canadian talent, (b) touches on topics of interest to music buyers, (c) would resonate with a demographic out stores desperately want.

Ellen Graf-Martin sent me this publisher summary of the book:

Manafest Fighter Chris GreenwoodEarlier this fall, rock vocalist and three-time JUNO nominee, Chris “Manafest” Greenwood released his first book and personal story, Fighter: Five Keys to Conquering Fear and Reaching Your Dreams. Named after his highest-charted song, Fighter, this book is the story of how Chris conquered his fears and found success in five stages, which he calls the anatomy of a fighter—Courage, Perseverance, Mindset, Discipline and Willpower- the five resources all readers can draw on in order to reach their dreams, no matter what they are.

The book was supported by loyal fans through a fully-funded Pledge Music campaign. As a part of this campaign, Chris is giving back and donating five per cent of the pledges to World Vision.

Chris knows what it’s like to be a fighter.

“Whether it’s family, personal, or professional, it’s been a fight,” shared Greenwood, “I’ve had the willingness to bear pain to get through all this and I’m winning now. Fighter was made to keep bringing a light to people; keep fighting.”

After losing his father to suicide at age five, fear and insecurity took hold of him and Chris found himself with nothing to cling to but a single mom and a childhood dream of moving to California to become a professional skateboarder. Shortly after deciding to pursue a career in professional skateboarding, an injury took his dream away and showed him that God had other plans for his life. At age 18, Chris fell in love with hip-hop music, took a leap of faith and quit his corporate job to join the ranks of Toronto’s underground hip-hop scene, choosing the name “Manafest” as a reflection of his goal to manifest his dreams.

After years of fighting for success in one of the toughest industries in the world, he found himself living in his dream—a three-time JUNO award nominee, three-time Dove award nominee, Top ten Billboard charted rock artist, living in southern California, selling hundreds of thousands of records worldwide.

Fighter is available in Canada from David C. Cook, and in the U.S. from Ingram/Spring Arbor and Send-the-Light. Hardcover. ISBN 9780989160308 $19.99 US.