U.S. Wealthiest

I have commented before on Paul Krugman’s columns for the N.Y. Times. He is Nobel-awarding-winning professor of economics at Princeton. His column yesterday was about the “hidden” rich. Continue reading

Andrew Peterson, “Don’t You Want to Thank Someone?”

Here are some of the lyrics from “Don’t You Want to Thank Someone?”—a song by Andrew Peterson. You can find the song, along with all the lyrics, on YouTube.

I was rather taken with these evocative and profound words—not the usual fare of contemporary music.

Now I can see the world is charged
It’s glimmering with promises
Written in a script of stars
Dripping from prophets’ lips

But still, my thirst is never slaked
I am hounded by a restlessness
Eaten by this endless ache
But still I will give thanks for this

‘Cause I can see it in the seas of wheat
I can feel it when the horses run
It’s howling in the snowy peaks
It’s blazing in the midnight sun

Just behind a veil of wind
A million angels waiting in the wings
A swirling storm of cherubim
Making ready for the Reckoning

The Artistry of Nick Cave

It has not yet opened in Chicago, but a new documentary about musician Nick Cave, 20,000 Days on Earth, is showing at some other venues around the country. I look forward to it opening in Chicago. I’ve been a fan of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds since their 1997 album, The Boatman Calls. The album may still be my favorite Cave piece. Cave’s sonorous baritone is gorgeous, and there are such standouts as “Brompton Oratory” and “Into My Arms.”

As other fans will know, Cave is an Australian. He is the son of an English teacher and a librarian. This goes some way toward explaining the literate and literary quality of his songs. I like the overall sound of the Bad Seeds, sometimes spare, sometimes soaring and boosted by strings, sometimes rocking and electrified. Then there are Cave’s lyrics, besot with themes of religion, death, love, and sex. Though he detests the label, Cave has been called “gothic.” His earlier music especially drew on Old Testament motifs of destruction and judgment. Since the 1990s, Cave’s music as mellowed and so have his lyrics. He attributes this to a growing interest in the New Testament. Continue reading

New Works in Anabaptist Political Theology

This is the time of the year when everyone at Wipf and Stock scurries to get books edited, typeset, and into production in time to make the big shipment to wherever the annual meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society, the American Academy of Religion, and the Society of Biblical Literature are being held any given year (this year: San Diego).

As I was reviewing my own queue of projects nearing completion, it dawned on me that I have three works that could be broadly construed as works in Anabaptist political theology coming out almost simultaneously: Continue reading

Robin Parry on the Biblical Cosmos

I have just finished proofing a really fine book by my colleague, Robin Parry. It is titled The Biblical Cosmos: A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Weird and Wonderful World of the Bible.
While attentive to the scholarly nuances, Robin has written it with wit and whimsey. What he has done is not only sketch how the ancient Israelites and Judeans imaged the world, but what gave that meaning—and how it can still have meaning for us. This is a particularly difficult move given the Enlightenment, modern science, trips to the moon and Mars. But he has done an admirable job of making it informative, engaging, and enjoyable. I especially liked his wise use of ancient Near Eastern parallels.
An added bonus for the reader are the illustrations provided by Hannah Parry, Robin’s daughter. They are elegant, but some of them also have the whimsey that Robin’s prose exhibits.
This should be out in less than ten days, and I highly recommend it.

Music from the pit of hell

So here is a video that I just cannot get enough of. It is a music video promo to accompany a novel entitled The Werewolf, the Librarian, and I. Its author here performs a song as one of the characters from the story (Aurroara), accompanied by a couple of werewolves called Connor and Rio. Not so much dread-full as dreadful, it will bring fun to any downcast heart.

And if you like the video, you’ll love the book reviews on Amazon.com.

A True Story that Flannery O’Connor Would Like

One time

when Mom and Dad were young,

they went with friends

on a picnic in the woods

by a lake.


Somebody found three peacock eggs

and took them home

in a pot of leftover beans.

Halfway home the children in the back seat

heard peeping and scratching

from the lukewarm pot between them.


Arrived, the family lifted the lid

and found three peachicks

amid the broken shells

and the crusty beans

which had tasted so good earlier.


They threw out the beans

but they kept the birds,

and for the rest of their lives

they roamed the yard, fanning their tailfeathers—

a shimmering trio

of purple, green, and blue sunsets.

Plagiarism Flowchart

It’s meant for journalists, but you academics can make the necessary adjustments. Click to see full size. (HT: Vox)flowchart

Being a Good Academic

Each year around this time the pace in our offices start to pick up. Students and professors heading back to school need books. We make books. Academics also seem to get back in their groove after a summer spent feverishly writing enjoying their breaks, and now they want to get their books in shape for publication before the annual conferences taking place in later autumn. Editors, designers, typesetters, and marketers (at least the ones with whom I work!) are doing their parts to make sure these books see the light of day. The intensity builds right up until we board the plane to make the trek to that year’s location for the AAR/SBL conference, the apex of our publishing year.

In many ways AAR/SBL (and ETS, which immediately precedes it in a nearby location) is an exciting and fun trip. It’s a lot of work to be sure, with days beginning in the early mornings and going into the later part of the nights, but it gives us a chance to show off our books, meet in person authors we’ve known only by email and phone for months, see old friends we’ve not seen since the last conference, and meet new authors and friends that will become a part of the two aforementioned groups. A good many of the academics I know who go to the annual conference year after year do so for two reasons: friends and books. Of course there are those younger, eager students or would-be-students who attend to meet luminaries, get that first paper presentation under their belt, and generally soak in the environment. There are also those seasoned veterans who like nothing more than attending sessions and hearing paper presentations. And usually there is a session or two featuring a hot topic, book, and/or figure that people will look forward to attending. But on the  whole the “academic” side of the conference is not at the top of most people’s list of reasons to attend. I’m lucky. My primary reasons for being at the conference—selling books and building relationships—are at the top of most lists.

This post is not about why people attend AAR/SBL, or to tell you how excited we get as the conference approaches. Rather, this time of the year makes two blog posts I’ve read recently especially pertinent, and I want to bring attention to them.

The first is a post from a while back by David Lincicum, “Some scattered tips for not being a jerk at conferences.” (See also Mark Goodacre’s much older post “How to enjoy SBL“) The second references David’s post and was written by an author with whom I’ve had the privilege of working: Christopher Skinner, “Negative Reviews and Unintentional Slights: Some Further Tips on Not Being a Jerk in Academia.” Both of these posts have great advice for academics: praise others effusively and genuinely, network without instrumentalizing, have fun, keep your ego in check, retaliation is rarely worth it, maintain perspective, be nice, etc. The thing is this is all advice for living as a human, whether one within or without academia. Though I wouldn’t use the same words every time, this is advice I’m trying to pass along to my three boys: encourage others, toys do not a friend make, have fun, don’t hit back, keep your reaction the same size as the problem, be nice. What Lincicum and Skinner are really saying to their academic peers is “Be a good person! Or, at least try.”

See you in San Diego!

On Critical Definitions

Not just a pet peeve, but one of the most serious problems in scholarly writing is when authors do not define their critical terms. The importance of this seems inescapable. But it seems as though the lack of defined terms leads scholarship down blind alleys. Continue reading