A Quote for Good Friday

St. Augustine, commenting on the First Epistle of John:

“He who says that he abides in him, therefore, must himself also walk as he walked” (2:6). How brothers? What is [John] teaching us? “He who says that he abides in him”—that is, in Christ—”must himself also walk as he walked.” Is he perhaps teaching us this, that we should walk on the sea? By no means. This then: that we should walk in the way of righteousness. In what way? I have already mentioned it. He was fastened to the cross, and he walked in that very way: it is the way of charity. “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” Accordingly, if you have learned to pray for your enemy, you are walking in the way of the Lord. (Homilies on the First Epistle of John 1.9)

Curmudgeon List, pt. 2

About eleven months ago I started a curmudgeon list. I had a handful of gripes I often had as an editor. It was not an exhaustive list. And since I tend toward a curmudgeonly disposition, it is is not a list that will likely ever stop growing. As you can guess, it is a list that can and does include things not associated with editing books and dealing with authors. In the last several months, I’ve had some pressure building up. This blog post is my relief valve. Additions to curmudgeon list after the jump.


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Jesus on a Bench

This past Sunday, National Public Radio ran a story about an Episcopal parish in Davidson, North Carolina, that installed a “controversial” sculpture in town. It was purchased as a memorial for a parishoner who recently died—an art work of Jesus sleeping on a bench, covered by a blanket. Continue reading

“Finding Vivian Maier”

A new and fascinating documentary is making the rounds. There’s quite a bit of discussion of Finding Vivian Maier here in Chicago, because the subject of the film lived and worked here. Vivian Maier was something of an enigma, a woman who died in 2009 and spent her adult life as a nanny. But there was a whole other side to herself, not discovered until after her passing.

John Maloof is a Chicagoan and collector who bought boxes of Maier’s personal effects at an auction. When he took home of the trunks full of material and started exploring it, he found dresses, blouses, political pins—and piles of undeveloped rolls of film. Maloof took a look at some of the negatives and was impressed. When he developed some photographs he was even more impressed. But Maloof was no expert in photography and wasn’t sure of his eye. He then posted a few dozen of Maier’s photos online, and found that dozens of viewers agreed with him that the photography was extraordinary. He sought out the evaluations of professional photographers and museum curators, and they agreed on the outstanding quality of Maier’s work. Continue reading

Forthcoming Books with Broad Appeal

The editorial lottery is, like any lottery, hard to predict. Just when I get comfortable with a particular mix and pace of academic and popular manuscripts coming across my desk, along comes a sudden change to shake things up. Continue reading

Round Ball and Inverted Pyramid

A few weeks ago I mentioned two books I was reading. I’ve since finished An Instance of the Fingerpost. It picked up pace toward the end. I’m still slogging my way through Gospel Writing. My interest is flagging. I may set it aside soon, or at the very least skip around to the bits that interest me more.

I now have space for more entertaining reading. I’ve mentioned before my growing interest in soccer/futbol/football. Each World Cup my interest grows. This last World Cup cycle I bought into self-describing as a soccer fan even during non-World Cup years. Now that we are on the verge of another World Cup, my excitement could send me over the edge into a fanaticism I haven’t had for a sport since my enthusiasm for college basketball during my high school and college days. The problem I am facing—other than the pit of annoying fanaticism—is that I don’t know near enough about the sport. I’d venture to guess that I know more than the average American. But if I am going to take this to the next level I need to address the gaping holes in my grasp of tactics and my knowledge of the sport’s history. Two books come highly recommended to help me here: The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer by David Goldblatt and Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Soccer Tactics by Jonathan Wilson. I’ve downloaded both free samples for my Kindle, and I am now trying to decide which to invest in first. I’m thinking I’ll go with the one on tactics just so I can understand the finer aspects of the games to be played this summer. But Goldblatt’s history is certain to be on my reading list soon after. He gets at why soccer is so appealing to me in his Introduction: connection to the global community. He writes,

Is there any cultural practice more global than football? Rites of birth, death and marriage are universal, but infinite in their diversity. Football is played by the same rules everywhere. No single world religion can match its geographical scope. Even Christianity, borne on the back of European expansion, is a relatively minor player across Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. The use of English and the vocabularies of science and mathematics must run football close for universality, but they remain the lingua francas of the world’s elites, not of its masses. McDonald’s, MTV? Only the most anodyne products of America’s cultural industries can claim a reach as wide as football’s, and then only for a fleeting moment in those parts of the world that can afford them. Around half the planet watched the 2006 World Cup Final—three billion humans have never done anything simultaneously before.

These books should get me mentally prepared for the World Cup. This ESPN promo has already got my fanatic’s blood flowing:


U.S. Oligarchy

E. J. Dionne, the long-time columnist for the Washington Post, published another corker on Sunday. What he points out is that the recent Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon et al. v. Federal Election Commission works together with the earlier decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission to further consolidate the power of the super-rich in affecting elections and minimizing the access of the poor and minorities. Continue reading

Maximus the Confessor and Lenten Fasting

As we continue in the last weeks of our Lenten fast, we remember that things from which we fast (be they alcohol, meats other than fish, chocolate, or whatever) are good things in themselves. We temporarily fast from them not to avoid bad things, but to remember that all good things come from God, on whom we are ultimately dependent.

In this vein, a passage from Maximus the Confessor is a good and eloquent reminder.

It is important to understand the right use of external objects and pictures of them in our imagination.

The reasonable use of them produces for its fruit the virtues of chastity, charity and right knowledge.

Their unreasonable use results in debauchery, hatred and ignorance.

It is through the measure in which we misuse the powers of the soul, namely its desire, emotion, reason, that the vices install themselves: ignorance and folly in the reasoning faculty, hatred and debauchery in the desires and emotions. Their right use, on the contrary, produces right knowledge and prudence, charity and chastity.

Nothing that God has created is in itself bad. Food is not bad, gluttony is; the procreation of children is not bad, lechery is; wealth is not bad, avarice is; glory is not bad, only vainglory is.

So you see nothing is bad in itself, only the misuse of it, which is the soul’s negligence in cultivating its true nature.

“Christianity and the Gay Question”—James Alison

Last Saturday night, I had the privilege of being among a group of about 20 people to hear James Alison present an informal talk on “Christianity and the Gay Question.” I took some notes, which I’ll reproduce here with minimal commentary. Obviously, these notes reflect my abilities as a listener and as a note-taker, and any limitations, weaknesses, or gaps in the arguments/claims outlined below should be attributed to me and not to James Alison.

Alison opened up his remarks by describing the situation we’re facing in the Church as the gradual emergence of a conflict between two Christian doctrines, one major, one minor:

1) same-sex acts are intrinsically evil (the minor doctrine)

2) grace perfects nature (the major doctrine)

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New Arrival

Say hello to Kate Tedrick, the newest addition to the Wipf and Stock family. Kate was born last week to our managing editor (and longest standing W&S employee) Jim Tedrick and his wife Karlie.

A one-of-a-kind edition

A one-of-a-kind edition. Sorry no Kindle version available.