Flotsam and jetsam (12/2)

“Glee” is conversational. The show succeeds, I think, because it examines the pressing issues of our day in a humorous, pop-song inundated way. “Glee,” like most good art, doesn’t dictate, it discusses. As Christians especially, we ought to join this discussion.

  • Here’s an interesting post on  Christian ghostwriting. I guess I’m not surprised, but I didn’t realize how common ghostwriting was in the Christian world.

I believe Christian ghostwriting is a scandal waiting to explode. If we in the Christian community don’t clean up our act soon, we’re going to face widespread loss of credibility.

It is interesting to me that there in the last couple of weeks I have happened across several different takes on what is commonly being called ‘the New Calvinism’. The range in perspectives has been interesting to observe.

  • HuffPo has an interesting post on a Buddhist view of the self and the way that memory constrains our freedom to experience the world and fully be our “true” selves.

For most people, realizing that most of what you think, do and feel is nothing but the activation of stored memory is unsettling, for it smacks the popular notion of who we think we are right in the face. This truth not only exposes that we are not as free as we like to believe, but that we are not fully present to the people and things in our life as well.


About Marc Cortez

Theology Prof and Dean at Western Seminary, husband, father, & blogger, who loves theology, church history, ministry, pop culture, books, and life in general.

Posted on December 2, 2010, in Misc and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Certainly Randy Alcorn knows more about the Christian publishing industry than I, but it seems to me that most ghost-written books are up front about it with a “as told to” or “with” credit somewhere on the book (or, the other possibility is that I am naive and optimistic that the problem is less wide spread than Alcorn thinks… in which case it would be helpful if he would name names). And while I agree that there are some dishonest practices that could be a part of this, I don’t think it’s a scandal waiting to explode. I’m guessing there would be an enormous shrug from the world at large on this topic. Notice how everyone worked really hard to get worked up about George Bush not writing his own memoirs, but they couldn’t really manage to care that much. Now insert the name of a pastor that most people outside of Christendom will have never heard of and I’m guessing the news would prefer to focus on some pastor who is cheating on his wife.

    Also… this “lying” to make sales is merely a symptom of the deeper problem, which is the Christian community’s insistence on worshiping Christian celebrity.

    • I think you’re absolutely right that the bigger problem is celebrity worship, the status that comes with it, and the tremendous amount of work that you have to do to sustain it. When you look at the speaking/publishing schedules that some of these Christian celebrities have, I can’t say that I’d be surprised if some of them aren’t using ghostwriters more than I realized.

      Reflecting on it, though, is it really any different that a high-level academic who uses graduate assistants to do much of the research and rough-draft writing on their books? I’ve seen guys publish books where I know that a good chunk of the work was done by students in their classes. Thankfully, the ones I know have been very forthcoming about this in the acknowledgements or prefaces to their books.

      • I would imagine that for many of the celebrity pastors you have the added confusion that their books are based on their sermons. So the ghostwriters are actually taking the pastors’ content and “translating” it to print… and I could see why pastors could think they wrote the book, since the content is essentially theirs even if the wording isn’t. From their point of view they’re hiring a writer, just like they hire an editor, a designer, a publicist. It’s amazing how many people are involved in a book (I would guess AT LEAST fifteen people were significantly involved in mine) who get no credit. Books ought to have a credits page just like movies.

      • I didn’t realize there were that many people involved. As far as I can tell, academic publishing isn’t as complicated as that. Of course, that’s because we don’t sell anywhere near as many books!

      • Let’s see:

        my agent

        Two acquisitions editors

        My “main” editor (who actually led an editorial team, which included doing things like the copy editing… must have been two or three people there)

        two (?) type setters

        The cover designer (plus a couple other designers who worked on cover ideas)

        publicist (and team)

        PR/marketing team

        various sales people

        whoever actually drew up the contracts (I think my author liason?)

        At least one web guy…

        Then there’s the added complication that my book was through Barna, so you have Barna and Kinneman and Barna’s agent and the researchers and so on…

      • Where did you fit in the partridge and the pear tree?

      • The partridge was my ghost writer so we didn’t mention him.

      • Man, the partridge always gets the shaft.

  2. I just sent a note to my publisher about whether we could do a “credits” page in my next book… I like the idea.

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