What’s Up at Jericho Books?

 

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.

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Why Does Integral Philosophy Sound Like New Age?

I can’t make heads nor tails of this.

A lot of my friends like integral philosophy. I remember years ago when evangelicals readers were scandalized because Rob Bell had a couple endnotes citing Ken Wilber in one of his books. I’ve been encouraged to read Wilber by others, like Brian McLaren and Shane Hipps. I’m not saying Brian and Shane are fanboys, I’m just saying they’ve told me I might like it.

Some, however, are fanboys. Every once in a while, I’ll run into someone for whom integral philosophy in general, and Wilber specifically, is the key that unlocks the door. It’s the answer to all of life’s questions. Honestly, it reminds me of the Preterists I know, who basically claim, “If you could only see what I see, everything would make sense!”

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Shane Hipps Leaving Mars Hill

Shane Hipps and Rob Bell: Soon neither will be at Mars Hill

My dear friend (and camp counselee, circa 1984), Shane Hipps, announced yesterday that he will be leaving Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, when the Board of Elders selects a new teaching pastor. Here’s part of Shane’s announcement:

I came face to face with one of the most powerful and difficult ingredients in discovering call  — the role of limits.

In this process I kept bumping up against two limits.  First, I bumped up against the decision the Elders made.  They created a role that was very different than the one I am currently in.  I had to confront the reality of an external set of limits that had been created.  This happens all the time in life.  We confront things on the outside we wish could be different.  Choices our loved ones make, illness, and economic downturns.  The Elders made a series of choices which they believe were in the best interest of this community.  In the process I was presented with new limits.

The second and far more substantial limit was internal.  Everyone of us has an interior shape and size.  Some of that is predetermined and unchangeable like our height.  It’s just how we got made and no amount of effort can change it.  Some of that inner shape is like our weight, we can actually do something to reshape it, adjust it, change it.  It’s not easy, but it is possible if we are truly called to something.

The road at Mars Hill has been tumultuous. Many parishioners left when Love Wins came out. More left when Rob Bell departed for California. The church staff has suffered through many rounds of layoffs, the latest being last week. Now Shane is leaving and, by the looks of the comments on his blog, some congregants don’t understand why.

Rob Bell had an odd arrangement with the church: in the latter years of his tenure, he didn’t lead the staff, and he had virtually no pastoral duties other than preaching (which they call “teaching”). Shane came in under that arrangement. While I can understand the Elders’ decision to move in a more conventional direction — with a pastor who does the majority of the preaching — it seems odd that this person will report to the executive director of the church. It makes you wonder: What gifted preacher would come to Mars Hill without also being able to lead the staff?

We can only assume that the Elders know the church best, and that they think this unusual arrangement will work. Many of us will be watching to see if it does.

Shane Hipps on Rob Bell’s Departure

Shane is a long-time friend of mine, and the teaching pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan:

When I accepted the call to become the co-teacher with a beloved friend it was a strange experience.  We were both so used to being alone in leadership that we didn’t realize the unexpected gift that comes with having a partner.  It was a fantastic experience, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Rob is almost entirely ego-less and extremely generous in sharing his platform with others.  I experienced an incredible hospitality from him.  And it gave me a chance to build a really beautiful relationship with a community that I love.

In South American I’m told there is an expression, one ox can do the work of one.  But two oxes can do the work of ten.  That was true for me.

READ THE REST » Reflections on Rob Bell’s Departure.


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