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Posts Tagged ‘Christian authors’

Calgary Author Confronts ‘Christian Materialism’

Wesley Hynd is a church planter and pastor in Calgary. He holds an MDiv from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando and according to his bio, “loves to think deeply and challenge the status quo.” He is involved there with a cross-cultural Christian organization serving new Canadians.

His book, Jesus Take All of Me: Learning to See God as Beautiful in Every Part of Life, is self-published an available to retailers through Ingram at full trade terms. The back cover blurb describes its aim:

What does it really mean to follow Jesus? Is it just a set of intellectual facts about the cross, forgiveness of sins, and an afterlife? Or is it something more than that? Why is it that the lives of Christians and those who are not Christians seem to look so similar at times in the Western world? If someone followed you around live-tweeting your daily decisions and values, who would they say that you follow? These are some of the questions Wes Hynd has been wrestling with for 15 years as he has sought to identify some of the ways in which Western culture has subtly influenced our Christian faith, including in our:

Time
Career
Family
Friendships
Money
and Emotions

Released date: December 1; 284 pages, paperback; 9781738717019; $21.99 US; 90-second book trailer on YouTube. Book website: jesustakeallofme.com.

Newfoundland Author, Tyndale Professor Killed in Motorcycle Accident

A Tyndale University Associate Professor of Christian Ministries with a recently published book from Whitaker House was killed on Saturday while enjoying his sabbatical in Newfoundland. Dr. Bradley Truman Noel was, according to reports killed when his motorcycle collided with a moose in South Brook, NFLD while he was riding with friends. He leaves his wife Melinda.

Tyndale made a formal announcement a few hours ago:

An abundance of tributes are being expressed online by current and former students and colleagues. Dr. Noel was more than a scholarly professor, he was a mentor and leader. Gifted at creating safe spaces, Dr. Noel was known for his ability to help students express differing opinions and theological viewpoints respectfully, while challenging them to expand their understanding.

In addition to his teaching, Bradley Noel had released two academic books on Pentecostalism through Wipf & Stock in 2010 and 2015, before releasing a general title, Tinder, Tattoos, and Tequila: Navigating the Gray Areas of Faith through Whitaker House in April of this year.

His biography with the publisher states,

A native of Newfoundland, Canada, Bradley Truman Noel was ordained by the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador (PAONL) in 2000. He has served as a youth pastor and has taught Bible and theology at the college and university level for more than twenty years.

Since 2008, he has taught at Tyndale University, a Christian school in Toronto, where he serves as chair of the Christian Ministries Department. Brad previously taught at Acadia University, Vanguard College, and Master’s College and Seminary, where he created a variety of live and online courses.

He earned his Doctor of Ministry from Acadia University and his Doctor of Theology from the University of South Africa.

His book blurb summarized the book’s goals:

“The church has been plagued by two extremes when it comes to living a Christian lifestyle,” says author Bradley Truman Noel. “On one side, we have the serious folks adorned with a really impressive frown, who remind us of all the do’s and don’ts. On the other end of the spectrum are folks who play fast and loose with the rules. They typically don’t spend too much time thinking about holiness, or wondering if their actions align with biblical teaching.” Both sides, Bradley says, miss the power of God’s grace in our lives.

With the news of his passing, Tyndale’s press release quoted a student:

It was clear he cared more about loving you as an individual than just fulfilling his duties as a teacher. He had a special heart.

Another Tyndale student posted on Facebook:

Dr. Noel was a great professor and taught with great passion. Always encouraging enriching conversation and deeper studies in the scriptures.

 


Photos: upper: Whitaker House; lower, Tyndale University and Seminary

The Story Behind Flying, Falling Catching by Henri Nouwen

In late May I received a short note from the co-author of a book we had mentioned briefly here, Flying, Falling, Catching: An Unlikely Story of Finding Freedom (HarperOne, 2022) by the late Henri Nouwen and Carolyn Whitney-Brown. Both Carolyn and I thought that the story behind the book deserved greater attention, and months later, she sent what follows, which at this point, we have exclusively.

Carolyn lives on Vancouver Island, and the book is set in North Toronto. As she says, “It’s a very Canadian story.”

You can learn more about her writing at this link.

by Carolyn Whitney-Brown

I first met Henri Nouwen at L’Arche Daybreak in Richmond Hill in 1989 when he drove me with my husband Geoff to a local pizza place for lunch. He was a terrifyingly inattentive driver. But we had a terrific conversation that day. Geoff and I were completing our PhDs in English literature, so like Henri, we were coming from academic backgrounds looking for ways to live the gospel more concretely in a diverse community.

As Gord, a longtime L’Arche member with Down syndrome, would encourage us, “Open your heart.” We lived with Henri and Gord and many others at Daybreak until 1997, learning to think and love and laugh and pray in new ways. Those were transformative years.

Carolyn Whitney-Brown with Henri Nouwen

Henri first saw the Flying Rodleighs trapeze troupe perform in 1991, and it hit him like a thunderbolt. He described a physical response that left him shaken, excited, in tears – a response of his body, not in words. Over the next five years, he got to know the trapeze troupe and they became close friends. His times with them were relaxing, inspiring and full of fun. He talked about them constantly.

I knew from conversations with Henri at the time that he wanted to write differently; something that would read like fiction or even a novel. He wanted his circus book to be different than any of his previous books, based not on ideas or insights, but offering a story that would draw readers into an experience and invite them to draw their own significances and connnections.

But he died suddenly in 1996, and the fragments that he left behind sat in his literary archives for decades.

In 2017, because I was a writer who knew Henri well, I was invited by the publishing committee of Henri’s literary estate to have a look at his trapeze writings and see if anything inspired me.

Immediately, I was hooked by two mysteries. First, why did his encounter with the Flying Rodleighs strike him so powerfully at that moment of his life? And second, why he did he not finish his book about them?

I started to read widely in the archives, trying to figure out what else was going on in his life and spirit in those years, what had prepared him to see, as he put it, “the angels of God appearing to me in the form of five trapeze artists.”

I couldn’t write the book that Henri would have written, but in Flying, Falling, Catching, I honour his desire to write a creative book that would be as engaging as a novel. I juxtapose his writings about his friendship with the Flying Rodleighs trapeze troupe alongside other significant moments in his life. Those experiences in Henri’s own words are framed by the true story of his first heart attack and his rescue out the window of a hotel in the Netherlands in 1996.

The book is in two voices, Henri’s and mine, with two typefaces so that readers know which writings are Henri’s and which are mine.

I had a lot of fun writing it.

After completing the book, I keep thinking about pedestals. It’s easy to put Henri on a pedestal: he was wise and brave even when he was demanding and anguished. He’s often called a spiritual master. But that elevates him to a unique and lonely place, and being admired like that was not a healthy place for Henri. The trapeze act involves a different image of a pedestal, as somewhere to launch from. You’d look silly staying on a pedestal. It’s a platform to allow you to take a risk. And trapeze performers are rarely on a pedestal alone: no one can do a trapeze act by themselves.

Henri Nouwen with The Flying Rodleighs
Photo: Ron P. van den Bosch

You can actually see some hilarious film footage of Henri on the trapeze pedestal on the online recordings of two book launch events, one with commentary by Rodleigh Stevens himself, and the other with L’Arche Daybreak. In that one, I tell viewers to notice that real friends will not only accompany you on a pedestal, but they will throw you off at the right moment! You can find links to both book launch events at:

https://www.writersunion.ca/member/carolyn-whitney-brown

It struck me recently that I am now the age that Henri was when he was so entranced by the Flying Rodleighs, and interestingly, so is Rodleigh himself, since he and I are close in age. At our age, Henri let his imagination be seized by a whole new adventure. He said,

On a deeper level, [my friendship with the Flying Rodleighs] has given me a sense my life is just beginning. I don’t know where it’s going but I’m only sixty-two so I may have another thirty years. The Rodleighs are saying to me indirectly, don’t be afraid to fly a little, don’t be afraid to take a few doubles or triples or a few layouts. If you really miss the catcher you fall into the net so what’s the big issue! After all, take a risk and trust, trust, trust.”

Henri cared passionately about building communities that honour differences, that work for justice, that seek God’s vision of peace on earth and goodwill to all. As you finish reading Flying, Falling, Catching, be open to the spiritual challenge: What seizes YOUR imagination? What excites you? What life of fun and creative energy does God imagine for each of us, not just alone, but in our communities?


Flying Falling Catching is hardcover; 272 pages; ISBN 9780063113527 and also sold in the UK through SPCK.

Ontario Author’s Third Title Touches Felt Needs in Leadership

Western Ontario author Lisa Elliott is back with a third title for Word Alive Press, and as you can see from the above graphic image, this one ticks a number of boxes for women in Christian leadership.

I found out rather randomly yesterday that the speaker and author of The Ben Ripple, and Dancing in the Rain, had completed a third book (all are with Word Alive Press) titled Ministry Survival Guide: Straight from the Heart.

The blurb for the book covers a number of areas that impact people in different levels of involvement in their local church.

A Ministry Survival Guide: Straight from the Heart explores the joys and challenges of life in the spotlight of ministry. Relatable stories, survival tips, biblical mentors, and a Bible study guide provide a valuable resource for pastors’ wives, women in ministry, and anyone who desires to thrive, not just survive in the Christian life. This book will help you, live a public-private life, fortify your marriage, balance family and ministry, prevent burnout, navigate transitions, manage painful relationships, grow through personal challenges, build a godly support system, discover blessings beneath burdens, nurture your soul.

Retailers may order from Word Alive in Canada or Anchor Distributors in the U.S.


9781486621767 | paperback | April 30, 2022 release | $19.99 CDN & US

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.

Ontario Author’s Mainstream Travel Book

This is apparently our third in a series of Ontario authors who are signed to mainstream U.S. publishers. And the second to have an Orillia connection.

Freelance writer Janet LoSole wrote to us last week to let us know about her book with the interesting title, Adventure by Chicken Bus: An Unschooling Odyssey Through Central America. Her story was published in December, 2019 by Wipf and Stock. Here’s their summary:

Embarking on a homeschooling field trip to Central America is stressful enough, but add in perilous bridge crossings, trips to the hospital, and a lack of women’s underwear, and you have the makings of an Adventure by Chicken Bus.

Buckling under a mountain of debt, Janet LoSole and her family are at their wits’ end. Determined to make a drastic change, they sell all worldly possessions and hit the road. With only a few items of clothing, a four-person tent, and little else, the family visits a sleepy island backwater in Costa Rica to save endangered sea turtles. In Panama, they bounce around like turnips in the back of a vegetable truck to reach an isolated monkey sanctuary. In Guatemala, they scale the ancient Mayan temples of Tikal. In between tales of begging rides from total strangers and sleeping overnight in the jungle with an indigenous family, Janet endorses community-based travel–supporting local businesses and favoring public transportation called chicken buses.

She also writes candidly about what it takes to travel long-term with two little girls amid the chaos of border crossings, erratic drivers, and creepy crawlies lurking at the edge of the jungle.

In an email she explained that her family are Quakers, a constituency not frequently heard from among the publishers most of us carry. “The book was written for the mainstream audience so my faith is mentioned only briefly in the first chapter… However, Wipf & Stock is a Christian publisher.” (The book is actually under the Resource Publications imprint which covers a variety of religious titles.) 

She describes her goal, “Adventure by Chicken Bus demonstrates how to travel sustainably, but more importantly, how to nurture the next generation of environmentalists and social justice activists by exposing them to the conditions faced by those in the developing world.”

If you’re looking for something safe but a little outside the box for Christian bookstores, this would be a title to consider.

9781532684869 | 226 pages, paperback | $23.00 U.S. | Ingram

Website: adventurebychickenbus.com

Remembering J. I. Packer

Remembering J. I. Packer

Today Christians around the world are remembering the man Wikipedia describes as an “English-born Canadian theologian;” J. I. Packer. His books — numbering over 50 — have been staples in Christian bookstores for decades. But his name appears elsewhere in our stores, as John Stackhouse noted a few years ago, “Perhaps no one in history has written more endorsements and prefaces to the books of others than Packer did.”

Packer died on Friday at age 93. While we were at Regent College last year we frequently drove by what some called “J. I. Packer’s church,” a church on the campus that he could easily walk to.” And back in the day, as an employee for IVP Canada, I packed and shipped many copies of Knowing God.

Though he surprised many with his decision to move from an important role with the Church of England to settle in Vancouver, his career continued to span the entire world.

Just over two years ago, we featured this fun picture at Thinking Out Loud:

At age 91, J. I. Packer isn’t too old to cruise the J. I. Packer section in the Regent College Bookstore, making sure his bestsellers are properly displayed! [June, 2018]

Much more information is available at this tribute at Christianity Today.

Longtime booksellers will also want to walk down memory lane through this list of his titles at Wikipedia. (People newer to Christian publishing are strongly encouraged to do the same.)

Memorial gifts may be made to the J. I. Packer Scholarship at Regent College.

Brant Hansen Spoofs Book Trailers

I reviewed the book here a week ago, but wanted to share this as well.

Hamilton, Ontario Pastor Introduces Forthcoming Title

Kevin Makins is the pastor of Eucharist Church in downtown Hamilton, Ontario and he’s chosen a unique way to introduce his forthcoming title with Baker Books; so we get to let him tell you himself! The book is Why Would Anyone Go to Church: A Young Community’s Quest to Find and Reclaim Church for Good. Release date is June 16th.

Publisher marketing:

There are plenty of reasons to criticize, judge, and even walk away from the church. Many of us have been hurt and rejected. We may see church as insular and irrelevant. Despite this, Kevin Makins believes that the church still matters–perhaps more than ever.

When Kevin was 23 and didn’t know any better, he started a congregation with some friends who were on the edge of faith. Together they hoped to discover if the church was worth fighting for. In this brutally honest account, he shares their story of becoming a community of misfits, outcasts, and oddballs who would learn that, even with all its faults, the church is worth being a part of . . . and must be reclaimed for good.

If you’ve been burned or burned out by the church, if you’ve been silenced or misunderstood, if you’ve left or never even joined in the first place, this candid, hopeful book is your invitation to consider what you miss out on when you give up on church–and what the church misses out on when it gives up on you.

Kevin Makins (MDiv, Heritage Seminary) is the founding pastor of Eucharist Church in downtown Hamilton, Ontario, in Canada, which has been recognized as one of the most creative and innovative churches in the country and spotlighted on national television and radio outlets, in newspapers, and on podcasts. A frequent speaker at conferences and churches, Kevin also performs one-man shows in bars and makes videos for thousands on YouTube. His audience includes the faithful and the skeptical, those hungry to learn, and those who just want to hear a good story. He lives in an old house downtown with his wife, kids, and housemates.

 

When Mainstream Book Dealers Become the Default Christian Store

Editorial

Every time a bookstore closes it hurts, even if it’s three provinces away from where you live.

In many cities, a mainstream bookstore might find themselves picking up a few extra orders for titles from Christian publishers. The ones I’ve talked to are aware of this phenomenon, but say the impact isn’t significant. In other cases, the customers are forced to educate themselves how to order online from CBD or other online vendors.

But in a great many cases, the sales never happen. The books never find their way into a consumer’s hands.

I’m committed to Christian books reaching people in families, neighbourhoods, workplaces and schools. I don’t have a personal succession plan for what’s going to happen to my own store — we currently have 4,000 fiction titles alone, and over 1,000 Bible products — but I do have a succession plan for continuing to promote the reading of Christian authors and reference materials. I still hope to keep writing reviews, and personally promoting the efforts of remaining booksellers.

I would greatly miss that connection if it all ended tomorrow.

And so, here in Canada, we find ourselves in a situation where stores like Chapters/Indigo have taken up the slack, offering in many cases a fairly decent selection of Christian non-fiction, fiction, and Bibles. (In some U.S. cities, if there isn’t a Barnes and Nobles, there’s the option of discount chain Ollies, which carries Christian remainders from B&H, Harper and other publishers.)

It wasn’t always this way. For well over two decades, it appeared that Barnes and Noble in the U.S. knew the secret that Chapters didn’t. I even offered my services to Chapters once, but never heard back. But eventually suppliers — especially Hachette and HarperCollins — were able to convince the stores to stock the Evangelical authors they had always been lacking. Hopefully, they see return on these products. Today at Indigo you’ll find a mix of good titles; not just the cases where authors have found their way to FaithWords or Howard or Waterbrook (being distributed to mainstream stores through Hachette, Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House respectively) but also titles from David C. Cook, Baker Group, or Tyndale House, which don’t have an affiliation with a major publishing house.

So it pained me to hear that Indigo is continuing to face the challenges we all deal with on a daily basis.

An opinion piece by Jennifer Wells in the Business section of The Saturday Star this week noted second quarter revenue dropped by just under $13 million. Online sales were down 12.2%. She writes, “…Not that long ago, the CEO was counting on a $20 and up share price and further U.S. expansion…On Thursday, Indigo shares closed at $4.26…”

On the upside, the article notes that “…bookseller James Duant, who really does sell books and has his own nine-store chain of bookstores in the UK…has run Waterstone’s since 2011, returned the UK chain to profitability in 2016 and is now trying to work the same turnaround at Barnes and Noble.”

Writer Wells concludes that 4th quarter profitability at Indigo, necessary to offset money-losing quarters, is key. Christmas is a make it or break it time. But she adds, “Heather Reisman hasn’t yet fixed the recipe for Indigo; that ‘curation’ she refers to in staging books amid a studied lifestyle.”

In many cities and towns that have already lost their Christian bookstore, losing that “Religion: Christianity” section at Indigo would be the end of a physical presence for Christian authors and publishers in those locations.

Read the full article at The Star.

Toronto Author Tim Huff’s 8th Title with Castle Quay; 5th for Children

From Canadian Christian News Service:

Just in time for Christmas, a new beautifully-illustrated children’s book by author Tim Huff focuses on the “true meaning of Christmas” in our highly secular and materialistic age.

Following the successful pattern of Huff’s previous best-selling and award-winning books, this special book is a vibrant and artfully crafted jewel, using excellent storytelling and colourful illustrations, interlaced with a call and challenge to children and adults alike to return to celebrating the true meaning of Christmas. Themes are knit together in a perfect mix of contemporary Christmas motifs and traditional old school charm.

Readers will quickly discover that Christmas Hush is more than just a “what” is Christmas, but is likewise a “who” is Christmas. While Huff’s lively storytelling skills and vibrant illustrations make this unique children’s book great fun, the true magic is in the tender reminder about the importance of quiet moments spent thinking of and caring for others, in the truest meaning of Christmas.

Huff’s story introduces several new, intriguing and fun characters as readers follow adorable little Hush on a wild journey through a panorama of festive scenarios…

Castle Quay notes:

Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Tim has spent his life combining his love of creative arts, writing, and music with social justice endeavours. He has been in full-time front-line social justice work for over 30 years, serving, learning, and teaching across North America and around the world.

Tim is a much sought-after national speaker in addition to a best-selling author of books for adults and an award-winning author-illustrator of children’s books.

  • 8½ x 8½ saddle stitch paperback $12.95 ISBN: 978-1-927355-89-3
  • 8½ x 8½ hardcover $18.95 ISBN 978-1-988928-29-6
  • Not mentioned on the cover: Includes a downloadable audio performance link to a special “Christmas Hush” song written and performed by award-winning jazz great Mike Janzen
  • Tim Huff is both the author and illustrator of this book
  • Distributed in Canada by Parasource; Ingram/Spring Arbor in U.S.

Previous titles include: Bent Hope: a Street Journal, Dancing with Dynamite: Celebrating Against the Odds, which won Best Canadian Book of the Year award in 2011; The Yuletide Factor: Cause for Perpetual Comfort and Joy; and his previous illustrated children’s books, The Cardboard Shack Beneath the Bridge: Helping Children Understand Homelessness; It’s Hard Not to Stare: Helping Children Understand Disabilities; The Honour Drum: Sharing the Beauty of Canada’s Indigenous People with Children, Families and Classrooms; and his most recent release Am I Safe?: Exploring Fear and Anxiety with Children, all published by Castle Quay.


Also at Canadian Christian News Service

A great celebration is planned for the launch… Parents and children are invited to a fun afternoon on Saturday, November 16th at Kings Christian Collegiate in Oakville (528 Burnhamthorpe Rd. W), between 2 and 3 p.m., in the new state-of-the-art thrust stage.

The launch event is sponsored by Marantha Foundation and will feature a live show with special original music by award-winning and renowned jazz pianist great Mike Janzen and a performance by acclaimed stage actor/producer Jason Hildebrand.

The event is free but seating is limited, so pre-registration is required. For more information send your name and number of guests to Allison at the email address contained in the linked article.

Devotions for Christian Writers

With three blogs, I receive a number of books unsolicited, but this one is probably one of the most unusual I’ve seen in a long time. It’s a book of short devotionals targeting a very specific market, but one which makes up many among our secondary readership here at Christian Book Shop Talk: Christian book and periodical writers and prospective writers.

As the Ink Flows: Devotions to Inspire Christian Writers and Speakers by Glenda Dekkema, Melony Teague, Carol Ford, Caludio Loopstra, and Marguerite Cummings (Judson Press) was actually published in 2016. The even numbered (left side) pages feature the familiar devotional format, with scripture, article and prayer. But on the odd numbered (right side) pages, there is a journal format consisting (usually) of a question for reflection and then a writing prompt on the subject of the devotional.

As the author bios indicate, each of the authors is a member of The Word Guild, “a growing community of more than 325 Canadian writers, editors, speakers, publishers, booksellers, librarians and other interested individuals who are Christian;” best known for their annual conference and annual awards. (Additionally, all of the endorsements for the book are from Canadian Christian leaders.)

The 90 devotional articles are divided into several sections:

  • The (Writer’s) Craft,
  • Inspiration
  • Knowing Yourself
  • Well-Being
  • Personalities
  • Faithfulness

As a retailer, I’m always looking for other applications for a product, but this one has a very particular focus. That said however, the devotions are refreshingly and creatively different, but what else would you expect from some of our best authors? As the editor of C201, a daily devotional blog, I’d like to see them tackle something similar but with greater mass market appeal. I know it would be well done.

If you know a writer, a copy of this along with the current version of the Christian Writer’s Market Guide would make a very helpful gift set.