Running Heads

From the editors of Cascade Books and Pickwick Publications at Wipf and Stock Publishers

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Google Books

Currently, Google Books has already scanned about 20 million books towards its goal to include 100+ million books. This past Friday, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan (a three-judge panel) made its decision that Google Books has not violated copyright law of “fair use” in offering “Snippet View” (less than 16% of content) of books. In general, Google Books offers “Full View” for books in public domain, “Limited Preview” for books approved by the copyright holder, “No Preview Available” for books not yet scanned, and “Snippet View” for the rest.

I have to say that as an editor I have sometimes found Google Books very helpful in checking the accuracy of quotations. I can’t check everything, but it has come in handy numerous times. I don’t read whole books or chapters on line. But I have been able to view books to see if they are something I am interested in buying. So I am upbeat about the project. One thing I would find helpful is if as part of “Snippet View” they would offer a complete table of contents. But however this proceeds, Friday’s court decision represents another chapter in the ongoing changes in the publishing industry. Stay tuned!

The power of Wipf & Stock book covers—funny review

Fail posting

I sat here for fifteen minutes and couldn’t think of anything worthwhile saying, so . . .

Fail Army for 2 Oct 2015.

Far from the best, but Fail Army is always worthwhile

Marathon Competition Results

Congratulations to Bradley Burroughs for coming the closest to my marathon finishing time without going over. Bradley guessed 3 hours and 20 minutes, and my official time was 3 hours, 24 minutes and 5 seconds. Congratulations also to Chris Smith (3:18) and Lisa Deam (3:05) for coming in 2nd and 3rd. James Stock, our marketing director, is going to award copies of Barry Harvey’s excellent new book, Taking Hold of the Real: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Profound Worldliness of Christianity, to the top three entries, and as overall winner, Bradley will also receive a free copy of the e-book.

It was a gorgeous day to run, and I was very happy with the results. My goal was 3:25 or faster,  as I was trying to achieve the Boston qualifying standard for 45 year olds (I’m not yet 45, but the Boston standards are based on the age you’ll be on the day of the marathon you’re trying to qualify for, in my case Boston 2017). I learned this week that, despite the fact that I went under the standard, I probably didn’t run fast enough to actually get into the race. So many people want to run Boston every year that they accept the fastest runners in each age group until the race fills up. For 2016’s registration (just completed in September), you had to run 2 minutes and 28 seconds faster than your age-group qualifying standard to have your registration accepted! So I guess I have a new goal . . . 3:22!

Here’s my favorite pic of the day, taken by my wife as she raced around Portland with my sons to cheer me on (Elijah is pictured, getting ready to give me a high five somewhere in NW Portland):


Thanks to you all for participating!


Nicholas Kristof (Pulitzer Prize-winning op-ed columnist for the New York Times) wrote an excellent column on October 3 in the wake of the killings at Umqua Community College. But as he points out, the larger issue is not simply mass shootings; 92 Americans die every day of gun violence—homicide and suicide. In 2013, 27 police officers were killed in the line of duty; but that same year 82 preschoolers were shot to death!

In this piece he argues for an “evidence-based public health approach” to gun violence. He notes that we while we don’t ban automobiles or cigarettes, despite numerous related deaths each year, we do regulate them heavily. And those regulations have reduced deaths and injuries dramatically. He brings up guns with fingerprint or PIN protection, as well as storage requirements. But one of the proposals he makes for reducing gun deaths I had not heard before is to require liability insurance for anyone who owns guns. Just as automobile insurance places on the driver/owner a responsibility for the consequences of driving a potentially lethal vehicle, liability insurance for a gun-owner would require taking responsibility for the consequences of that ownership. While that clearly doesn’t control those with illegally purchased weapons, it does place a burden of responsibility on anyone owning a legal weapon. And just because people drive illegally without insurance doesn’t mean we don’t require everyone to carry it.

One of my favorite comments (some years back by a commentator) on the second amendment rights of gun-owners is that she is a “strict constructionist” when it comes to gun-ownership. She said she thought Americans should be able to own as many muzzle-loading muskets as they like (as in the eighteenth century)—just not AK47s with armor-piercing bullets!

“Is it I?” Being vulnerable before Jesus

And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.”  They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?”  (Mark 14:18–19)

I must confess that I was struck by the attitude of the disciples here when I read this story this morning. My reaction would have been akin to Peter’s when Jesus told him that a threefold denial was on the way—”No way, Lord! Not me! I’d never do that!” It is easy to get defensive.

The disciples here are not like that. Each one considers the possibility that it could be him. No denials. No protestations of devotion. That shows quite a level of self-awareness and honesty. It’s as if they think, “Yes, much as I hate to admit it, I could imagine myself capable of that given the wrong circumstances.”

“Is it I, Lord?”

Hometown Writers

I hail from the small town of Forgan, Oklahoma, population 400. (As I have been wont to say, the entire population could perish on a single jetliner.) Like many small towns throughout America, Forgan is marked by a love of high school sports. In 1975, the year I graduated, we won the state championship in eight-man football (itself another story for another column). Since then, the women’s basketball team have won state once, and the men three or four times.

But while some of us were engrossed in sports, others were obsessed with words. At least three published writers (including, humbly, myself: look for my first foray into fiction coming soon, The Second Baptism of Albert Simmel) have in recent decades come out of Forgan and its rural environs. This week I finished reading the Forganian Samuel Hall’s Daughter of Cimarron  (Ashberry Lane). Sam is a little older than my mother, so I didn’t go to school with him and I don’t know him personally. But it was a pleasure to read his novel, the fictionalized story of his mother settling into life on an Oklahoma farm right in the middle of the Depression and the Dust Bowl. Sam did a solid job of writing from a woman’s perspective, and describing in vivid detail the hardships the pioneers of the area faced.

Perhaps the most successful of Forgan-based writers has been John Erickson, who worked for several years as a ranch-hand outside town. From his experiences, he created the series of Hank the Cowdog, a canine who faithfully (and often amusingly) helped his rancher-masters. The book series was later developed into a Saturday morning cartoon series for children, and ran for several years.

We can’t compare to the success of writers of the small Alabama town that produced Harper Lee and Truman Capote. But it’s notable that a town as tiny as Forgan can produce writers out of proportion to its size. What accounts for this? Surely, in no small part, love of talk and oral storytelling in small towns, and the tendency to gather regularly with extended families and hear about the past in all it challenges and humor.


Marathon Showcase Showdown—Guess Time, Win Book!

On Sunday, October 4th, at 7:00am Pacific, I’ll attempt to complete my seventh marathon. It’s the first marathon I’ve run in seven years, and I’m excited about running around Portland, especially up and over the historic St. John’s bridge (though I might reconsider my enthusiasm for the bridge when I’m climbing it around 17 miles in).


As the date gets nearer, I’ve been thinking more and more about all of the training, the race details, what to eat, what not to eat, etc. My watch reminds me every day how close I am to the event.


When not running, I’ve been very busy lately in my capacity as an editor finalizing work on books for the Evangelical Theological Society, the American Academy of Religion, and the Society of Biblical Literature. One of the books I’ve really enjoyed proofreading is Barry Harvey’s forthcoming Taking Hold of the Real: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Profound Worldliness of Christianity (Cascade Books).


Barry’s book is not only a major contribution to Bonhoeffer studies, but also a significant contribution to the conversation about what it means to live as faithful Christians in a “world come of age.”

Since I’ve had my marathon and Barry’s book on my mind a lot lately, I thought I’d combine them into something fun and promotional with my blog post today.

Wipf and Stock will give a free copy of Barry’s book to the person who comes the closest to guessing my marathon finishing time in hours and minutes. (Barry has given his thumbs up to the idea: “What do they say in Hollywood? There’s no such thing as bad publicity? There is probably is, but your idea sounds good to me. Go for it!”).

Details: Place your entry in a comment on this blog post; one entry per person. Price is Right rules in effect, meaning you have to guess a time faster than or equal to my finishing time in order to win. So if I break the world record and run a 2 hour marathon, tough luck if you guessed 2:01 (though thanks for the vote of confidence!). The only exception will be if I DNF (“did not finish”), in which case whoever picks the slowest time wins! All entries must be submitted before 7am Pacific Sunday morning.

Our marketing director, James Stock, suggested we award a number of prizes, but I will let him determine what they are. Perhaps we’ll give away multiple copies, or perhaps copies of other exciting forthcoming titles, to runners up.

What is a woman?

I am in the middle of proofreading an exciting new book from Cascade Books. Thinking Woman: A Philosophical Approach to the Quandary of Gender by Jennifer Hockenberry Dragseth is a helpful philosophical inquiry about women.


Here are a few paragraphs on the method and design of the book:

This is a philosophical book, not a sociological study or a political treatise. This book explores a “What is X?” type of question, namely “What is a woman?” The book’s method follows that of the ancient philosopher, Socrates. Socrates’s method, which he advocates for both men and women philosophers according to Plato, was to ask a question, hear an answer, discuss the answer, detail the limits or problems of the answer, and then continue with another possible answer. This is the method that is used in each chapter of the book.

As such, this book is an invitation to the reader to a philosophical dialogue on the question: “What is a woman?” The book is by no means comprehensive or exhaustive. I have limited the conversation to four major theories that are active in contemporary Western feminist discourse. These theories are Gender Essentialism, Gender Neutrality, Gender Existentialism, and Gender Fluidity. Gender Essentialism is the theory that women have an essential and unique nature that is both biologically and psychologically different from the nature of men. Gender Neutrality is the claim that women have the same essential psychological and intellectual nature as men despite biological differences in sex. Gender Existentialism is the theory that women, although biologically different from men, have intellectual and psychological habits that differ from men only because of cultural factors. The theory of Gender Fluidity claims that both gender and biological sex are constantly changing categories that are culturally defined.

Each chapter presents each system by introducing some of the women thinkers who most famously articulated the theories. Because their views were born in the context of their lives, the lives and historical context of the thinkers are important. Each chapter presents the biographies as well as the ideas of the women who were the main architects of each theory. Included also is a description of the ways the specific theory influenced the feminist struggle to help women thrive. Importantly, each chapter shows an area of contemporary public discourse where the theory remains a dominant voice. This demonstrates that each theory is still very much alive. Each chapter concludes with a discussion of the possible objections to the discussed theory before summarizing the main points of the chapter.

In the conclusion, the book does not advocate for a specific theory of woman as being true or correct. Rather the conclusion acknowledges that the concept of woman is complex. Each of the four theories says something obviously true. Thus, understanding women requires holding all four theories simultaneously while acknowledging their contradictions. However, all four theories also clearly fall short of a comprehensive account of women. Thus, understanding women requires continuing dialogue with women and those who are interested in them.

Look for it to be available in the next month or so. It would make for a great reading assignment in all sorts of university and college courses.

Symposium on Race and Racism

A week ago at this time I was somewhere over the Rockies on my way to Chicago and the Symposium on the Theological Interpretation of Scripture at North Park Theological Seminary. The three days at North Park were full and lively, with several great sessions on the topic of Race and Racism. Eventually the papers will be published in the annual journal Ex Auditu from Pickwick Publications, hence my presence there. Below you will find a teasing excerpt from each of the main papers. Keep in mind these are pulled from larger essays and the essays themselves may undergo revision before they are published some time next Spring. The title of the presentation may not be the title of the published essay, and so because of this, I am only providing the speakers’ names.  You can follow links to find out more about who they are, where they work, etc. Videos of all of the sessions of the symposium are here.

Lisa Sung:

The very employment of racial concepts and categories, in the absence of critical historical awareness—using “race” terminology in unmarked, unqualified, and ultimately non-deconstructive ways—comprises a naive realism, and is evidence of the power of socialization—the extent to which the church and its teachers are still captive to a “false consciousness”—the positing of a racial scheme as value-neutral, substantive explanatory concepts, one that conceals its historical origins and essential logic as a classificatory scheme underwriting a stratified social order which secured dominance by assigning persons to newly created status groups to which the goods of society would be disparately allocated.

Bo Lim:

If the Cross is the Lynching Tree, and the lynchee is the Suffering Servant, then salvation for Americans rests upon their acknowledgment of our racist past, most exemplified in the mass terror lynchings of African Americans. The inability to see Christ as the first lynchee results not merely from a lack of information but a lack of faith. Yet those who see that Christ was lynched on a tree can claim, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed” (Isa 53:6).

Love Sechrest:

The goal of allyship is not for people in privileged groups to be shamed, punished, or retaliated against, but to eliminate the conditions that dehumanize us all, to restrain evil in our midst, and to seek our common good. Each and every one of us needs to be able to see what and who have been previously invisible as we cautiously move towards inhabiting the kinds of relationships that give honor to the gospel, risking pain but persisting in our desire to build the Beloved Community.

Ray Aldred:

By entering into the shared narrative of the Treaties as equals, the possibility exists for a shared identity that does not necessitate the eradication of identity. Instead it is an opportunity to embrace the past and be open to a future of walking together in the Creator’s land in a good way. Treaty functioning as a shared narrative allows for a re-envisioning of history and becomes a tool for healing.

Kyle Small:

Coming up from the turbulent waters of initiation is new life, indeed a white person with a white body can participate differently. Rising from the drowning, ascending from hell is a rejection of Caucasian as an identity marker. The word is drowned in the depths and will not return. The initiation is a participation in something other than whiteness currently understood. The journey to hell exposes the fullness of white privilege and supremacy practiced by white-followers of Jesus. The journey down discloses the full white consciousness. The pain, misery, and shame that will occur to a white body that enters hell will emerge from the depths out of breath and seeking help from divine participants who are image-bearers-of-many-hues.

Néstor Medina (old CV):

Since the middle of the twentieth century, hermeneutics has changed at a faster pace in great part because the Eurocentric character of theology, biblical scholarship, and philosophy has been challenged. Those other cultural groups previously absent from prevalent versions of Christian scholarship and theology brought forth critical new approaches to interpretation, which reclaim the role of gender, social location, racial-ethnic background, and cultural tradition in the biblical text, from its original production when it was written to its reading and interpretation in multiple settings today.

Emerson Powery:

Are translations responsible to present ancient tensions in new ways to help “address” our contemporary concerns and conversations or should they translate what “they see,” which is always interrelated in complex ways with how translators view their own contemporary world. It is not only language that changes, however; perspectives, in this case, with regard to ethnic conflict also changes. So are translators responsible to present ancient tensions in new ways to “address” (indirectly) contemporary conflicts?

Lewis Brogdon:

Because [Onesimus was not a Christian in the house of a Christian master] is ignored as an exegetical and theological issue, the impact of the conversion of Onesimus is lessened. Instead great emphasis is given to Philemon’s benevolence and the return of a wayward slave. . . . This is both a distorted and limited reading of the letter. In my reading of Philemon, exclusion and its role in the unconverted condition of a house slave is an important theological issue. I believe that Onesimus departed and was not a Christian because of Philemon’s practice of selective inclusion. In this sense, the conversion of Onesimus serves as an indictment against Philemon and the church. In addition, the return of Onesimus as a Christian takes on a different kind of significance that what is argued by slave-flight interpreters.

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