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Authors offer hope despite institutional ‘collapse’ PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 07 May 2010 10:21 AM EDT

Authors Larry and Chuck Bates of IRN USA Radio News arm readers with advice on how to handle the economic, political and religious storms America faces, in A Nation in Crisis: The Meltdown of Money, Government, and Religion (978-1-616-38148-6, $22.99, hardcover), released this month from FrontLine, an imprint of Strang Book Group.

Nation-in-CrisisThe authors—who say they are not “doom and gloomers”—offer their assessment of American financial, political and religious institutions, but say, “life as we have known it in the United States is about to change, and change drastically.”

“We really believe you can position yourself for great financial opportunity, but you can also get your family and yourself out of harm’s way and turn the chaos into blessing for yourself and others,” they write in the book’s introduction.

Working from backgrounds in economics, banking and government, the authors offer an analysis of the state of America’s financial institutions, blaming the economic meltdown on five forces—a major banking crisis, federal debt and deficits, business and personal loans, recession and depression, and major inflation—and call on readers to build a “financial ark.”

The authors also consider government and what its role is and should be. They explain the ways the government taxes its citizens and what effect the economic stimulus has.

In matters of faith, they show how the church can fill the gap for fatherless families and discuss public education.

Former bank executive Larry Bates is publisher and editor of Monetary and Economic Review, and a former member of the Tennessee House of Representatives.

Economist Chuck Bates is executive vice president and news director of IRN USA Radio News; he previously served as an assistant in the White House Office of Political Affairs.



For more information, visit To order, call Strang Book Group at 800-283-8494.

Sociologist challenges statistical myths PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 07 May 2010 10:18 AM EDT

Author examines popular interpretations of data and finds the positive

Bradley Wright, a professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut, takes aims at some commonly held, statistically inspired myths in Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites...and Other Lies You’ve Been Told: A Sociologist Shatters Myths From the Secular and Christian Media.

christiansarehatefilledhypoWright was inspired to tackle the subject as he tracked societal data from academic journals, which he soon saw ran contrary to statistics reported by the news media and even Christian researchers. He started a blog, beginning with a challenge on divorce rates, which provided the basis for his debut book.

“I’d heard time and time again that Christians get divorced more than non-Christians and that just turned out to be completely wrong,” he said. “I published that on my blog about two or three years ago and began to think, ‘there’s more to the story here than just divorce rates.’ ”

Challenging some of the notions behind the best-selling book UnChristian by Dave Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons (Baker Books/Baker Publishing Group) that non-Christians have increasingly worse attitudes toward Christians, Wright contends that attitudes “have actually gotten better in the past two decades.” Even more surprising, he said, is that the group with the stronger dislike of Christians is older people.

“That’s very different than ‘the young people really don’t like us, and they’re liking us less every year,’ ” he said.

Wright believes some of the reporting he challenges comes with “good intentions,” he said. Still, he said too many of the messages are based on fear and are “ultimately counterproductive.”

Since data leaves room for interpretation, Wright is open to being corrected.

“My allegiance is to the data, not the positions,” he said. “It doesn’t benefit me either way to be positive or negative. Having said that, this is not the type of argument I would lose.”



For more information, visit, or to order, call Baker Publishing Group Customer Service at 800-877-2665.

Meet the Author: Andrew Klavan PDF Print E-mail
Written by Production   
Tuesday, 04 May 2010 12:28 PM EDT

Mainstream thriller and Hollywood script writer Andrew Klavan’s young adult “Homelanders” series has been optioned for a movie, as the April 2009 hardcover debut title, The Last Thing I Remember, is released in softcover this month.

AndrewKlavanAre you concerned that some of the faith element may be lost in the film?

“You hope it will stay true to the original, especially the theme and the ideas, but you really don’t have a lot of power. ... Summit Entertainment made the “Twilight” books (into films) that had a definite undercurrent of faith and morality, and they kept that stuff in. There is always a danger with this in Hollywood.”


With a long and successful mainstream career, what brought you to Christian publishing?

“What brought me to Christian publishing was I became a Christian myself, which I hadn’t been. I was born and raised a Jew and lived many years as an agnostic, even an atheist for a while, so it was a very slow conversion. ... So when Thomas Nelson contacted me and asked me if I was interested in working in the young-adult (genre), I just loved that, and before they finished the sentence, I said, yes, I’m interested.”


How has writing for the Christian market been for you, as your mainstream work is known for being quite gritty?

“Working in young-adult novels, the vision tends to be a little softer anyway. I don’t deal with the same kinds of subjects with young people that I deal with for adults. It’s just not the same market, so in that way I fit in. I do sometimes feel that there is a narrowness to the Christian market that can hurt storytelling, and I’ve worked very hard to keep my stories immensely exciting, very fast-moving.”

How has coming to faith changed your writing?

“This really surprises me more than anyone. ... One of my great fears as I was struggling with the issues of faith was I didn’t want to lose my sense of realism. You can’t tell stories about life if you don’t see life as it is, in my opinion. The funny thing is that I found that embracing faith has made my view much more realistic. ... I have found that by embracing Christianity has made my worldview much more realistic ... understanding people much deeper, on the one hand, and I think much more compassionate on the other, so I have been very happy with the work I have produced since my conversion. It really has been an absolute pleasant surprise.”



For an exclusive, extended audio interview, visit the Christian Retailing book blog at

Meet the Artist: Rebecca Ellis PDF Print E-mail
Written by Production   
Tuesday, 04 May 2010 12:25 PM EDT

A former clothing designer who “gave up thread for a spool of wire,” artist Rebecca Ellis makes crosses out of wire and gemstones. Along with selling her necklaces, earrings and other cross-based products, she displays her art at the RebeccaEllis10wholesale Habitat Showroom in Dallas.


Tell us about yourself.

“I have been making crosses since almost the end of 1997. The idea came to me when I was with my father. He was in his 80s and he had macular degeneration in his eyes. He couldn’t see, so we decided to go out on our property and check the fences, and for years he had baled hay from a square bale of hay and crossed over the two pieces of wire from a bale of hay and had thrown it in this big ravine. … But trash became treasure to me because I started looking at it and I pulled it out and said, ‘Dad, look, this makes a cross.’ … That was my serendipity with the wrapped wire cross that God gave me.”

Your husband is a pastor?

“He’s pastor of Union Church (in Dallas), and he was on staff at First Baptist Church in Dallas. He was a singles minister and decided to go full time into pastoring a church. We actually started a church with, like, 13 people and now we have 400-500 members at the Dallas Convention Center.”


How do you make the crosses?

“Each cross has nothing in the core of the center except wire, and I start by just wrapping and wrapping the length of that long bar on the cross, and then I tie off a little piece to do the cross bar on the cross and then I just kind of go crazy. I wrap, wrap, wrap, wrap up and down the cross bars and then once I get the cross frame made, then I embellish them with gemstones or geodes, rocks, anything you can imagine that I feel I can truly put on a cross knowing that it was Christ’s sacrificial cross that paid my debt and gave me eternal life.”

Where do you get your inspiration for each cross?

“A lot of times it’s through scripture. It’s like an outpouring of what I’m going through in my own life. I had this inspiration after going on a mission trip with our Amazon outreach. I was just so compelled about fish and water and how that all wrapped around the scripture and Christ’s calling to the disciples to follow me and to leave their fishing industry behind. … so the Fisherman’s Cross came out of that trip. It has three hanging fish on a piece of wire that’s all kind of rolled around. It looks like it’s all caught on the fishing line on the 15-inch frame. … I’m totally inspired by just the gospel and how He changed my life personally and so the cross is just everything I think about, wow, what a great sacrifice.”


What is the retail price range of your art?

“I have a line that starts anywhere from $20 up to $700.”

Category Key: Graduation, a season for gifts of hope PDF Print E-mail
Written by Eric Mullet   
Tuesday, 04 May 2010 12:21 PM EDT

Hope is a hot topic these days. From economics to political integrity, from international relations to family life, people need encouragement. Gift books continue to serve well in this area, but the graduation season offers a particularly EricMulletteffective time in which to affect the hearts, dreams and futures of the new generations coming up.

Bear in mind that an estimated 3.5 high school students and 3.7 million college students—associate, bachelor and post grad combined—will graduate before the end of this month. That is a lot of opportunity to provide meaningful gifts for shoppers looking to affirm and celebrate the graduates in their lives.

Here’s my list of the ABCs not to miss:

A. Consistent, visible placement: One of the difficulties of this season is that it is not clearly focused on a day. Rather, it’s a season that starts right after Easter and can extend into June. Grouping the titles in a heavy traffic area is key, but the trick is keeping them available throughout the two-month window so that, even through other promotions, regular customers know where to look when their time to buy comes.


B. Clear, invitational messaging: Inspiring the next generation—especially when they are close to us—is a worthy goal, so create messaging to draw customers into the buying experience by igniting the desire to be important in the future of those we care about. Communicating that our graduates are our future and encouraging your customers that the inspiration found in the graduation books can impact that will be key.


C. Creative package pricing: Although prices are always a concern in this economy, try creatively packaging books since often people are buying for multiple graduates. And everyone has people on their list that maybe they wouldn’t normally buy for, but could if invited into the purchase with a great deal on quantities or some other creative up-sell.


D. Classical thinking: Gift books for the season don’t have to have “graduation” in the title. Classics like Hannah Hurnard’s Hinds′ Feet on High Places or J. Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest readily come to mind as popular choices, while our ″God’s Promises″ line—including our God’s Promises for Graduates 2010—has sold more than 6 million copies.



Eric Mullett is marketing director for gift books and backlist at Thomas Nelson.

Meet the Artist: Newsboys PDF Print E-mail
Written by Production   
Monday, 05 April 2010 09:32 AM EDT
newsboys2010smallNewsboys returns June 8 with Born Again and the debut of lead singer Michael Tait (second from right), formerly of Tait and dcTalk. Tait and Newsboys drummer Duncan Phillips (far left) discuss the band’s new record and sound.


Michael, how was it for you joining the band?

Tait: “Newsboys have always been the top in my industry. I thought to myself, ‘Am I ready to do this kind of thing once again without my old partners TobyMac and Kevin Max?’ Prayed about it and thought about it, and I took on the responsibility and learned the songs. That said, I’ve never looked back.”


What can you tell us about the new record?

Tait: “The record is very traditional in the sense of message because the message never changes, but the method does change. Musically, it’s killer, it’s pop-rock, it’s edgy, it’s groovy.”

Phillips: “We have the opportunity with Michael to really kind of explore musically and create avenues that we haven’t done in the past, so it really is like a software upgrade, like an update to the band. This is a new thing, although saying that, there are songs that we are writing right now that are very classical Newsboys’ songs, so we are not just walking totally away from what our fans know. But, on the (other) hand, we want to be so new and fresh, and with Michael, he could sing the phone book and people would buy it. He just has that rich, beautiful quality to his voice. Michael says we are chasing the art—we are absolutely doing that and know that we have a paintbrush that can paint those new pictures on that canvas.”


What do your fans respond to most in concert?

Phillips: “It’s probably ‘Jesus Freak,’ which is a dcTalk song from way back when. It’s real fun for me because it allows me to play this incredibly huge single legitimately within the confines of Newsboys now.”


Do you think it was an easy transition because of the Christian community?

Tait: “Yes, we are blessed by that. Back in the day, they always said that if you were a Newsboys fan, there was a good chance you were a dcTalk fan. I was waiting for the comments … ‘Where’s Peter (Furler)? We want the other guy back,’ and there were a couple of comments here and there, but it lasted for just a minute.”

Phillips: “The first guy we thought to ask to be the lead singer was Michael Tait. It’s kind of a very interesting story looking back now at the hand of God and how He orchestrated this whole thing, and we truly believe it’s divine.”

For an exclusive, extended audio interview, visit the Christian Retailing music blog at

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