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Journey of a Thousand Miles

- 07/08/08  

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July-August 2008


< Defending the Faith in Brazil

<  Historic Publisher Keeps Pace with Change
<  Looking for a Good Read? 
< Journey of a Thousand Miles
<  Burma/Myanmar: Local Christians Aid Cyclone Victims

Hi, ! 

Has the heat or daily grind got you beat? Refuel with these tidbits of hope from around the globe. Take a peek into how a Brazilian publisher responds to a new wave of atheism, historic publishing in Chicago, and tricks to overcoming the battle of beginning writing.


Defending the Faith in Brazil

The international media are giving increased attention to atheism because of recent books by prominent authors and scientists advocating a “new atheism.” Responding to this resurgent interest, Brazil’s largest independent Christian publisher, Editora Mundo Cristão, published a new translation of G. H. Chesterton’s masterpiece, Orthodoxy. Editorial director Renato Fleischner says, “No better response to atheism has ever been published than Orthodoxy,” although the title was originally published 100 years ago.

The Brazilian edition of Orthodoxy has succeeded on multiple fronts, producing secular media interest and thousands of Internet downloads. Fleischner believes the text’s uniqueness captured the media’s attention and helped counter labels of Christianity as being an “obscure religion.” The nation’s largest newspaper heralded the book “A real tour de force of intelligence and humor.”

Mundo Cristão experimented with a free 24-hour download of the complete book to create buzz. Although the PDF couldn’t be printed or copied, it was downloaded 2,600 times, far exceeding expectations. “As far as brand positioning is concerned, it was fantastic,” Fleischner says. He can’t track the offer’s influence on sales since media coverage was significant, but the book is already in its second printing. Sales reached 5,000 copies within four months compared to a forecast of 3,000 in 12 months. 

Historic Publisher Keeps Pace with Change

Greg Thornton directs the historic Moody Publishers in Chicago, founded in 1894 by evangelist D. L. Moody. He is one of MAI’s newer Board members.

Q: You've been in publishing at Moody for 27 years. What keeps you going?

My keen sense is that He [God] wants me to "keep on keeping on." 

Yet nothing energizes me more than a reader responding to a message in one of our books. A decision for Christ, a healed marriage, a relationship restored, a deception revealed; all these responses and more make the small sacrifices worth it.

Q: What attracted you to serving on the MAI Board? 

Publishers and authors worldwide need what MAI has to offer. I'm also encouraged that MAI is taking the lead in getting like-minded organizations talking together. And though I've only served one year on the Board, my own thinking has greatly expanded as a result of time spent with these outstanding leaders.   


Q: Publishing is just one ministry of Moody Bible Institute, which includes education, a premier radio network and a conference/event outreach. How does publishing fit into this mix?
Many of our authors are attracted to Moody because they can become part of something larger than a single publishing house. Ministries under a larger umbrella organization need to work in harmony, just like the body of Christ. These internal partnerships take time, but they are invaluable. 

Q: What are the strengths of Moody's current titles?


I love to "consume" the products we are producing. My hour-long train ride to the office provides needed reading time.  We're known for our non-fiction, adult books like The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, the MacArthur New Testament Commentaries, and many more. 

Q: Tell us about your future goals at Moody.

To remain unwavering in our commitment to Christ and the Word of God, while ministering effectively to individuals in this flattening, digital world. We cannot overestimate the speed of change today. 

No one is ready to declare the print book dead yet, but publishers need to make content available in whatever format readers want. We need to think about new formats like VST, Adobe, Microsoft Reader, Kindle and Sony. As we move to digital distribution, many current boundaries and restrictions disappear. Anyone with a computer, access to the Internet and a credit card will be able to purchase a "book." 

Looking for a Good Read?

Check out What should I Read Next? Type in the title of a recent book you enjoyed and receive a list of similar suggestions.

Journey of a
Thousand Miles

The hardest part of writing is getting started. Once in awhile, inspiration strikes, and the words flow. More often, though, procrastination hits and the words stop. A book or article project has you baffled, and you don’t know where to begin. So, you don’t.

There are many worthwhile things to do until the muse visits. Get an extra cup of coffee. Go jogging. Write a letter to a friend. Pay the bills. Do longer-than-usual devotions. Yet time passes, and the computer screen stays blank.

Every writer has little tricks to overcome the pain of getting started. Ernest Hemmingway used to stop his day’s writing just at the point when his narrative prose began gushing like the Gulf Stream. That’s because the next morning he would know right where to start. 

Another author likes to curl up in a cushy recliner and write with a laptop; it seems less work that way. Some writers roll from bed before dawn, getting started while the mind’s too numb to find pretexts to postpone the task. I personally like to sit in a nearby coffee shop and write with a pen instead of a computer. Somehow, the more relaxed setting helps get me over the hump.

But when all is said and done, writing is work. This truth crosses cultures. I visited a Christian writer group in Southeast Asia where members wanted to organize a writing retreat at a scenic resort. The leader stopped them short. “You don’t need a retreat,” she said. Motioning to one of the women in the group, she said, “Why don’t you do like Hwee Yong? She just goes home every night after work and writes.”

At MAI’s recent writing workshop in Mali, 28 men and women from 9 African countries labored productively in 110 degree heat. Afterwards, Prosper Atchombat of Cameroon made a profound comment: “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a step. I believe our writings, small as they may be, can set a great fire on our continent.”

Taking that first step is always a challenge. But when the thousand-mile journey ends and your humble words impact a reader’s life, you are ready to face the battle of starting to write again.  

Photo by Gregory Burgess 

J O H N   M A U S T

M A I   P R E S I D E N T

Local Christians Aid Cyclone Victims 

MAI's friend, a local publisher, is leading outreach to cyclone victims. Burmese Christians are making an impact and you can help.


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