All posts by Nick Norelli

In the Mail

I noted on Twitter the other day that Wesley Hill’s Paul and the Trinity was on sale for $16.06 on Amazon. I pulled the trigger on Sunday and bought a copy. It came in yesterday. I haven’t unboxed it yet but I will do so today and add it to the collection. I wish I would have waited though because I see that it’s available for $15.60 today! Doesn’t seem like much but 46 cents is 46 cents!

B”H

Receive and You Shall Review?

There’s been some discussion on Nijay Gupta’s blog about what he calls a discouraging trend in the world of book reviewing. “Some publishers,” says Gupta, “are becoming more picky about who they send books to, and also some are refusing to send out print books at all to reviewers…” He also laments the practice of sending ebooks with expiration dates. I find the latter to be deplorable. Always have. I forget what book it was that I received years back that had an expiration date on it but it never got reviewed.

Gupta and those who have commented on his post have all pretty much expressed the desire for hard copies over ebooks. I’m with them. One hundred percent. The general consensus is that reviewers should receive some sort of compensation for the reviews they’re providing because each review is publicity for the book and the publisher. I’m not opposed to such thinking. I’ve commented plenty of times on the symbiotic relationship between publisher and reviewer. We get books, they get reviews. Works perfectly.

Now let me quickly say that some people prefer digital books these days so they’re quite happy with books coming to them in PDF, mobi, or epub formats. That’s good and well. It’s great that publishers have the books available in such formats. I’m still all about hard copies but I have about two dozen important works on my iPad in PDF (thousands of PDFs on an external hard drive). It’s great to have them all available to me at once in a searchable format. I can’t envision myself ever making the switch to all digital but if I did then I’d be very grateful to receive an ebook.

But I’ve meandered long enough. The thing I wanted to comment on was something that Jennifer Guo said in her comment on Gupta’s post. She said:

I agree. I’m old fashioned as well and prefer print by leaps and bounds (what kind of book nerd does not need to mark up their books? not to mention smell the pages wink emoticon ). The bigger point is what Christopher mentioned. While I do review an ebook once in a while from the publishers that refuse to send print, I refuse to review a “disappearing ebook.” Reviewing takes time, and it’s also free publicity for the publisher. A free copy is fair compensation, but if you don’t get to keep even an ebook, I do not see it as fair compensation. We might as well just get a library copy and not spend the time to review then!

I understand the concept of fair compensation. I do. I even agree with it. It’s a bait and switch to send a book for review that later gets taken away. Not cool. It’s the last sentence that stuck with me. Is the idea that we should only review the books we’ve received for free from publishers? If so, why? Why wouldn’t we want to take the time to write about the books we check out of the library (not that I’d ever check a book out of a library)? Why not write about the books we purchase with our hard earned cash?

Some might argue that those reviews could/would be better since the reviewer feels no obligation towards the publisher for sending them a gratis copy. For my part I reviewed the books I bought before I ever knew that I could contact publishers and ask for free copies. Reviews have been a part of my blog since its inception. I continued to review books that I bought well after I started receiving them for free. Now I haven’t reviewed anything in a while, but when I get back to it I’ll continue doing what I’ve always done. But who cares about me?

My point is that I don’t think book reviews should be contingent upon receiving free books in any format. If all the publishers in the world suddenly formed a union and decided to no longer provide free copies to interested reviewers would that mean the demise of the book review? That would be most unfortunate. Would we all of a sudden stop thinking about the things we read and consequently stop having the desire to share those thoughts with others? I would hope not!

Receiving free books is a wonderful benefit of reviewing books but I don’t think it should be the primary goal. In my opinion the main goal should be the dissemination of information. Having the means and ability to inform others about works in their fields of interest is a great privilege. I can’t count how many reviews I’ve read over the years that helped me determine if a book was worth my time, or informed me about the contents of a book I couldn’t get my hands on. I wouldn’t say that it’s my duty to return the service, but I’ve long felt that it’s my honor.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject; especially those of you who review books for internet or print publications.

B”H

On Preaching the Word

As someone who loves theology and biblical studies I’ve come to realize over time that it’s simply best to preach the word in a congregational context. What I mean is simply this: Preach the text and let all the theology flow from it. Don’t spend too much time speculating. Use the information gained from biblical studies to illuminate it but don’t make biblical studies the focus to the exclusion of what the text is saying.

I’ve learned that trying to turn Bible study (at least in the two churches I’ve been a member of) into miniature seminary lectures isn’t greatly effective. The glazed over eyes are usually the best indication that it’s not hitting home. And that’s okay. People who want seminary lectures should by all means attend seminary. The average believer that I’ve encountered just wants to know what the Bible says and find ways to apply it to life.

Your experience may very well be different. If it is I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment and let me know.

B”H

On Bultmann’s Clarity

30 years ago today Rudolf Karl Bultmann died. I’ve noted many times on this blog that he was an exceptionally clear communicator and I thought to commemorate the anniversary of his death that I’d mention it again. He was a biblical scholar and theologian of the first rate. Sure, many of his ideas are quite simply wrong, but he was able to put them across in such a way that one doesn’t have to guess at what he’s saying. This is quite different from many of his German contemporaries (e.g., Karl Barth) or those who came after him (e.g., Pannenberg or Moltmann). It is my honest opinion that he was the best German to ever put pen to paper when it comes to biblical studies and theology. Not because I agree with so much of what he says—I don’t—but because I can understand it (at least in English translation).

B”H

Mum’s the Word

I’ve twice attempted to publish the same little nugget of insight that I’ve gained in a recent study—first on Twitter and just now on my blog—and I’ve not been able to bring myself to do it. My church has been doing a series on the fruit of the Spirit and I’ll be rounding it out in August with a message on self-control. I’ve gotta keep this under my hat until then. It’s a curious little irony though and something that I’ve never really noticed until recently. I’ll share it in due course. I promise.

B”H

Just Ordered

So I got the new iMac, right. Okay, well and good. It’s display is glorious and I’ve only got it set at the 2560 x 1440 resolution. The 5k is way sharper than anything I need and makes everything minuscule anyway. To the left of the iMac is a 23″ Acer monitor that was linked to the church’s 13″ MacBook Pro as a second display as well as my Toshiba Satellite Pro as the main display since the laptop screen died on me quite some time ago.

I don’t use the church computer enough to need a second display. I really have it just for doing the multimedia stuff on Sundays and Wednesdays and logging in the offerings, which requires little more than data input twice a week. So the second display wasn’t really necessary. I hope you’re following me. I’m going somewhere. I promise. Alright, so, I decided to hook the 23″ Acer monitor up to the iMac as a second display. The truth is that my workflow is such that I require two displays. I’ve been working like this for more than a year with my MacBook Pro hooked up to dual 24″ Dell monitors.

Still with me? Good. Okay, so I discovered that while I have way more pixels with the gorgeous 27″ iMac display, I still needed another monitor to handle the stuff I do. I thought the Acer would suffice. Problem is, it doesn’t. The discrepancy in size is annoying to start. But the way the new desk is set up also presents a problem since the monitors are right next to each other and positioned straight across. They really need to be angled inward to be useful to me.

Am I making sense? I hope so. Let’s continue… So I decided that I need another 27″ monitor. I would have loved to get a 1440p Dell monitor but I didn’t want to spend over $500 on one. So I opted to go with a 1080p Dell display. I chose the 27″version of the 24″ monitors I already have. It was an easy choice since I already know how great these displays are and how much I love them. I got a good deal from NewEgg and it will be here today.

The 23″ Acer is going to my daughter so she can plug her ChromeBook into it at her desk and have a second monitor or even use it as her main display. The church’s MacBook might have to come down off of the Rain Design mStand and simply be rested on the desk in clamshell mode if there’s not enough room to accommodate everything. We’ll have to see what’s possible. But the great thing about the monitor I chose is that I’ll be able to have the iMac, MacBook, and Toshiba all plugged into it and toggle through the systems at my leisure! Can’t wait.

Thanks for listening. Until next time…

B”H