Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Where's "We the Purple"?

Good question. If you go to a Barnes & Noble store looking for We the Purple: Faith, Politics and the Independent Voter, good luck. You won't find it in Politics, or Political Science, or even Current Affairs.

Nope. You'll find it Inspiration.

Never mind that the faith content is, oh, less than 20 percent. Or that the distinctly Christian content is even less than that. And the inspirational content? I'm flattered that B&N finds my writing so inspiring, but really. Inspirational, in the religious sense? I don't think so.

And apparently, never mind that the political content is 100 percent. Or that my publisher, Tyndale, correctly categorized the book as political. Or that the B&N's own web site categorizes it under "United States Politics & Government."

The official explanation?
  • Tyndale is a Christian publisher.

  • The book contains a faith element.

  • All the other books I've written are shelved in their religion section.

I particularly like that last one. What if I wrote a novel, published by a Christian publisher, that contained a faith element? Would that be shelved in the nonfiction religion section, rather than Christian fiction, because that's where all my other books are shelved?

I've been in the publishing industry for 30-some years and the Christian bookselling industry for 10-plus years, and I have to tell you, it gets more bewildering with each passing year. The more inside information I learn, the more confused I am.

Unless I'm totally off my rocker here, I do believe the purpose of both publishing and bookselling is to sell books. I mean, to make money selling books. A B&N employee tried to comfort me—yes, I needed some serious comforting—by reassuring me that the staff would be able to find my book for any customer requesting it. Uncomforted, I asked him 1) Would anyone browsing the shelves for the latest and greatest book on independent politics think to check out the Christian Inspiration section? and 2) Would anyone looking for an inspirational Christian book have a clue what We the Purple is about?

Tyndale, God bless 'em, tried again to get it shelved properly, as did a B&N rep. But no. The corporate powers-that-be overruled reason. And I doubt that B&N is alone in making decisions like this; I just haven't looked for the book in any other stores yet.

Moral of the story: If you're looking for a political book during this highly charged political season and you happen to wander into a bookstore to find one, go straight to Christian Inspiration. You never know what you'll find there. (Hint: I'm shelved just to the left of Richard Foster.)

(Cross-posted on Postmodern Misfit.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mark Daniels on the Debates

It's been a week since the infamous ABC debate that seemed to wake the nation out of its network-debate-induced slumber. Frankly, I gave up on the debates months ago*, around the time that Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich and everyone whose name was not Clinton, Edwards, Huckabee, McCain, Obama, or Romney were disinvited to participate. I do wish the League of Women Voters would take back control of the debates from the networks, but that's not likely to happen.

Maybe, in light of last week's debacle, the parties will pay attention to Mark Daniels' Modest Proposal for Presidential Debates, which he posted on the always insightful Moderate Voice:

First, get rid of anchors, moderators, or interlocutors of any kind.

Second, allow Candidate A to begin with a five-minute opening, followed by an opening of equal length by Candidate B.

Then, allow the candidates to alternate for five minutes apiece for the balance of an hour-and-a-half.

This format would afford the candidates the chance, for better or worse, to address the public directly. Longer form statements would reduce or mitigate the effect of those absurd sound bite moments...

I guarantee that we would learn a lot more about the candidates’ priorities and their ability to deal with the unexpected if debates were conducted in this way.

One other suggestion: No debates until at least January 1 of the presidential election year.

Of course, this would only work with two or three candidates. But I'm sure we can change things around a bit to accommodate all those lesser candidates who don't have any chance of winning but who bring up vital issues that the major candidates (read that "major-party candidates") ignore.

* I TiVo the debates and watch them only when I have to, and only for you.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mountain of Authors

That's the name of an event I'll be participating in on Saturday (April 12) in Colorado Springs. It's a regional event that gives book lovers and aspiring writers an opportunity to hear local authors speak. (I'm now a local author...) I'll be serving on the nonfiction panel and signing my most recent release, We the Purple: Faith, Politics and the Independent Voter, which is getting lots of media attention in this election year. Here's the official information:

Pikes Peak Library District will host its 2nd annual regional authors’ event, “Mountain of Authors” to showcase authors of the Pikes Peak region, and offer presentations about writing and publishing.

The free program will be held from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Saturday, April 12 at East Library, 5550 N. Union Blvd. No registration is required.

This event will inspire new and established writers, and offer book fans a chance to meet and discuss their favorite titles with local authors. Panel discussions will be offered by nonfiction, fiction, children’s and teen authors. A free lunch and booksigning will also be held at the event.

Program Schedule
10 - 11 a.m. Nonfiction Author Panel (moderated by Tim Blevins)

Beth Barrett
Marcia Ford
Karen Scalf Linamen
John Stansfield

11:15 a.m. -12:15 p.m. Fiction Author Panel (moderated by Kirk Farber)

Kevin Anderson
Kacy Barnett-Gramckow
Beth Groundwater
Rebecca Moesta
Robert Spiller

12:15 -1:30 p.m. Lunch (food will be provided)

1:30 - 2:30 p.m. Children’s/Teen Author Panel (moderated by Karin Huxman)

Mary Peace Finley
Donita Paul
Katherine Pebley O’Neal

2:30 - 3:30 p.m. Author Showcase: meet authors from the Pikes Peak region, and purchase your favorite author’s books

Pikes Peak Poet Laureate reception following program.

If you come to the event and found out about it here, introduce yourself to me, okay?

(Cross-posted on Postmodern Misfit.)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Compassion Forum: Democrats and Faith

Sunday night's "Compassion Forum" on CNN has the potential to rise above the dreadful televised debates of late, but only if Clinton and Obama speak from their hearts and leave the religious rhetoric behind. People of genuine faith know how easy it is to learn the lingo without living the life, and they know that speaking from the heart reveals the content of the heart, whether for good or for bad.

In a commentary posted earlier today, CNN contributor Roland S. Martin had this to say about the Democrats Getting Religion on Religion:

Sweet Jesus! What has gotten into the Democratic Party when it comes to issues of faith?...These forums [along with the Sojourners forum last June] should not be casually overlooked and blown off, because they represent a significant shift in attitude from previous Democratic presidential campaigns. Democrats, in the words of Sen. Joseph Biden after the Sojourners forum, acted more like agnostics ---­ other would say atheists ---­ when it came to issues of faith.

As Martin points out, Democrats have historically avoided faith-related issues to their peril.

But what is, and what isn't, a faith-related issue? Martin writes that the forum topics will include poverty, AIDS, climate change and human rights. Many would say that immigration, the economy, healthcare, and the like are also faith-related issues. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to name an issue that someone, somewhere doesn't consider to be faith-related.

All well and good, but there are two glaring omissions on the forum list. As Martin points out, it's past the time for Democrats to face the issues of abortion and gay marriage head-on. In We the Purple, I contend that the focus on these two hot-button issues is used to distract the electorate from political inaction. On the Democratic side, though, the focus is too often on attacking Republicans for opposing a woman's right to choose and being homophobic than on taking into consideration the very real concerns about those two issues that people in their own camp have expressed. Martin further writes:

If the Democratic Party is serious about fostering a relationship with the faith community, they are going to have to come to grips with the fact that there are Democrats of faith who are pro-life and against gay marriage, but who are in agreement on other social issues such as the response to the rapid rise of HIV/AIDS and eradicating poverty...What is clear is that in the political realm, there must be an understanding of the secular and theological worlds. And there are clear examples when folks who operate in the secular world want to apply their standards to those in the theological world, and vice versa.

The Democratic candidates' understanding of the theological world should be clear to everyone on Sunday night. Listen carefully for all those Christian buzzwords --- and judge for yourself whether they sound "learned" --- or "lived."

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Latinos and the Independent Vote

One segment of the electorate that I've been keeping an eye on is the independent Latino voter, partly because Latino voters are often caught between a rock (the Democratic Party) and a hard place (the GOP) and partly because I've been expecting to see something of a surge in the number of Latinos registering and/or voting as independents. Though a sizable majority of Latinos are Democrats --- nearly 60 percent, according to some polls --- highly religious Latinos often find it difficult to vote for a pro-abortion candidate, which at least in part accounts for the 20 percent who identify as Republicans.

This year, Latinos find themselves in a real bind. Neither party has delivered on its promises to the Hispanic community. And then there's that thorny illegal alien/undocumented immigrant issue that has unfairly tarnished the image of all Latinos --- whether or not they're Mexican or U.S.-born, legal or illegal --- and neither party seems to know what to do about it. What's a Latino voter to do?

Jose Armas of Hispanic Link thinks it may be time for Latinos to jump ship, and he writes about the dilemma facing the Latino voter this year in a must-read article, Should Latinos vote for the independent candidate? Anyone interested in independent voting, the issues of concern to Hispanics, and the impact of the Latino vote would do well to give Armas a hearing. Or rather, a reading. My favorite quote from the column: "Are we throwing away our vote if we vote for Nader? No more than we have on previous presidents." Amen to that.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Are U.S. Voters Schizophrenic?

Gabor Steingart of the German publication Der Spiegel seems to think so. You can read his analysis of the American electorate here; it's worth the time if for no other reason than the reference to a rat's head in a Coke.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

New Independent Voter Poll recently posted a new poll for independents---the 2008 Presidential Strategies Survey---that's designed to provide input to CUIP* for an upcoming report on independents and presidential primaries. I took the survey last week, so of course I cannot remember what questions were asked; I'd have to take the survey again to refresh my ever-failing memory. But far be it from me to skew the results in such an unscrupulous manner, even if my motive---educating you, my beloved reader(s)---is pure.

What I do recall is that the questions were detailed and allowed participants to give thoughtful responses. If you'd like to make your independent voice heard, click here to take the survey, or go to  and click on the "2008: Take Our Presidential Poll" box in the upper right corner of the home page. While you're there, roam around the site for a bit; there's great information, articles and other resources for independents.

*CUIP stands for Committee for a Unified Independent Party, though said committee has wisely given up hope for creating a unified independent party. It's the group behind

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Yes! I Too Shall Vote!

Ending minutes—nay, hours—of speculation, I am hereby stating that I will certainly vote in the presidential election in November. This startling and much-anticipated announcement comes on the heels of James Dobson's equally startling and much-anticipated announcement to the same effect. Only he gets the benefit of announcing it on Hannity's America. Showoff. Here's a snippet from a "Special Alert" issued by Focus on the Family's CitizenLink:
Dr. James Dobson told Sean Hannity on Sunday night he is going to vote in the November election-ending weeks of speculation that he would sit on the sidelines over his policy disagreements with the two major parties’ candidates for the White House...

“Let me just say that I will certainly vote, Sean,” he said. “I think we have a God-given responsibility to vote, and there are all of the candidates and the issues down the ballot that we have an obligation to weigh in on and let our voices be heard.”
I blogged more extensively about this the other day over on God's Politics, where I'm always much more articulate and insightful. Here, it gets personal. So yes, I will vote. And no, I will not sit on the sidelines.

You may now stop speculating.