Last night in yoga, I couldn’t help but smile. I know I’m supposed to be totally and completely focused on the moment — and I was — but I was also thinking about the past. When I wrote The Sacred Way, editors and Zondervan made me take out two passages: one that mentioned drinking a beer, and one that referred to a yoga pose. (It didn’t matter that the pose I mentioned was in the context of a spiritual retreat led by Zondervan partner, Youth Specialties and Mike Yaconelli.) No yoga. No way.
I’m at Christianity21 this week, a gathering produced by Doug Pagitt, Sarah Cunningham, and Your Favorite Blogger. We’re one day in, and it’s been awesome. One of the great things about this event is that there’s no theme, and there are 21 gifted speakers, so we never really know what magic will happen in the chemistry between the talks.
They don’t all agree, but they do tend to dovetail with one another. Yesterday, Jonathan Merritt led off the opening session with a challenge to follow God’s call and listen to the unlikely ways that God speaks. Paul Raushenbush went next with a call for conservatives and liberals to rediscover the social gospel. Noel Castellanos told us five things we can do to engage with people and the gospel. And Nadia Bolz-Weber told us ten things she’s learned about being a pastor and church planter.
In the next session, Kent Dobson gave an amazing reflection on the absence of God, Sarah Lefton challenged us to engage Christians in biblical literacy in the way that she has challenged Jews, Mike Foster reminded us how everyone needs to be loved, and Romal Tune told us that the church needs to compete with gangs for the youth of LA.
In between, we had a couple dozen 7-minute talks by attendees from around the country. Today more talks. And tomorrow, even more, including my call to recover apocalyptic language for the church. Check back here for updates.
Late last week, Hachette Book Group announced that Wendy Grisham was being let go, and that her imprint, Jericho Books, was going to be dramatically downsized. In the Christian publishing world, this is very big news. (Full disclosure: my agent, Kathy Helmers, pitched Jericho several book proposals from me; Jericho did not bid on any of them, and I ultimately signed with another publisher. I harbor no animus whatsoever, and Wendy and I remain friends.)
Jericho arrived on the publishing scene with a bang, paying significant advances to acquire big name authors like Brian McLaren, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Philip Yancey, and Shane Hipps. Their first book to the make the New York Times bestseller list was Nadia’s Pastrix this fall.
Big New York publishing houses like Hachette have been snapping up evangelical publishers for some time now, as Christian books have one of the few bullish areas in publishing. Thomas Nelson and Zondervan are owned by NewsCorp, Waterbrook and Multnomah are owned by Penguin Random House, etc. You get the picture. The conglomeration in publishing is a reality.
Many years ago, Doug Pagitt invited me to be part of a nascent network. That went through several iterations — Young Leaders Network, the Terra Nova Project — until it settled in as Emergent Village. That network had a good 10-year run, and lots of great things were birthed as a result.
Now Doug and some friends are launching a new network. The CANA Initiative may have some of the DNA of those previous groupings, but this is a new endeavor, with new people and different goals. Based on the idea of a “collective action network,” the CANA Initiative has eleven initial goals: