Wednesday, July 15, 2009

InterVarsity Press has a Credibility Problem

InterVarsity Press describes itself thusly:

Located in Westmont, Illinois, InterVarsity Press has been publishing excellent Christian books for more than 50 years.


And, for the 20 years during which I have been familiar with the organization, this has held true. IVP publishes lots of bibles, lots of Christian books, and generally promotes an intelligent understanding of Christianity.

Enter Julie Clawson, who is neither intelligent, nor (near as I can tell) Christian. Here is an excerpt of her wisdom:

Reason number umpteenbazillion and one for why spanking should be illegal - Child Killed for Failing to Say “Please”


This sentence links to a story about an angry father who killed his toddler daughter for failing to say please. Why does this anecdote argue for a ban on spanking? One would expect a published Christian author to explain.

No dice. It speaks for itself, I guess. Neither does she explain her pro-choice stance in light of her belief that legal spanking is tantamount to murder. In her view:

"Even if a ban happened somehow to pass... Such a move would ignore the reasons why people get abortions in the first place, in essence telling those women that their feelings, struggles, and issues mean nothing."

Obviously, this is an intellectual muddle. These are fine positions to hold if you are the average woman in the average community. God expects nothing of such women.

But I have been fortunate to attend church with spectacular women. Women of integrity, intelligence, reason and, God forbid, morals. I married such a woman. Call me spoiled.

But if I am spoiled, shouldn't one of the most prominent Christian publishers in the nation be all the more so? It is curious, then, that they would choose to publish Clawson's nebulously titled Everyday Justice.

What in Clawson's background made the folks at IVP think that she was capable of sustaining a compelling argument throughout a book? Should Christians accomplish something before being allowed to publish, or is faith simply a shortcut to infusing politicized ideas on the populace, and getting paid for it?

I can suspect the reasons why InterVarsity might have chosen to publish this book. Clawson probably has a connection or two. The Emergent movement is notoriously hissy whenever its desires are unmet, on any level. So why not resort to placation?

Here's why not. I will never again take IVP's word that what they publish represents excellence or Christianity. I would urge my readers to adopt a similar attitude. The IVP should be held accountable to its mission statement, or change the mission statement.

Besides, Julie Clawson is precisely the sort of author who LOVES feeling oppressed. You'll be doing her a favor.

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