Christian Book Expo: Day 3

I began yesterday with a breakfast meeting with a couple of other publishing CEOs. We got together to see if we could coordinate a large-scale promotion that would benefit our entire industry.

christian-book-expo-day-3

I can’t say more at this point, because we are in the early stages of discussion. Nevertheless, I was encouraged by the fact that there seems to be a growing realization that we might be able to make the pie bigger for all of us, rather than just continuing to steal market share from one another.

After the meeting, Gail and I headed over to the book expo floor. I had several hours worth of impromptu meetings with authors, agents, and even a few consumers who stopped by to talk. I especially enjoyed meeting, Ron Hall and Denver Moore (pictured above), authors of Same Kind of Different as Me. This is truly one of the best books I have ever read. It has been on the New York Times list now for 53 consecutive weeks.

I also spent a little time with Don Miller and Colleen Coble. Sadly, I did not get to see my pal, Sheila Walsh, though she had a signing in our booth. I got tied up in another conversation and couldn’t break away. Nevertheless, I did get to spend a little time with her husband, Barry, whom I really enjoy.

The highlight of the afternoon was the Christianity Today discussion panel, “Does the God of Christianity Exist, and What Difference Does It Make? A Debate.” The panelists included the British atheist Christopher Hitchens, author of the bestseller, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, along with a bevy of Christian apologists including William Lane Craig, James Denison, Doug Wilson, and Lee Strobel.

Hitchens was gracious, charming, and witty, but I was unimpressed with his arguments. He trotted out the same tired anti-theism arguments that atheists have been using since the dawn of time. Hitchens only real contribution is his colorful personality. At one point, he stated that if you removed God completely from public awareness, it would not effect human behavior. According to him, most people would continue to act responsibly and altruistically toward their neighbors. (Yea, except maybe for that little communist experiment in the last century where some 40 million Russians where murdered.)

In fairness, the Christians, whom Doug Wilson described as a “den of lambs,” didn’t do much better. They mostly paraded the same old pro-theism arguments—the ones you learn in Philosophy 101. The only panelist who really scored big points, in my opinion, was Doug Wilson. Rather than echoing the evidential arguments that his colleagues set forth, he argued at the presuppositional level. Hitchens never really answered him. In fact, I don’t think he knew quite what to do with his arguments.

After the debate, we grabbed a late lunch with Andy Andrews then attended a “Tweet-up” for all the Twitterers attending the expo. With all due respect to my fellow Twitterers, someone really needs to figure out how to do these events right, so that they are worth attending. I have attended about three of them since the first of the year, and they always seem awkward and unfocused. What we need are “Tweet-ups with a purpose.”

Marcia Nelson from Publishers Weekly then interviewed me. She wanted my take on the expo, since I am chairman of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA), the sponsors of the book expo. I tried to be candid about my disappointment with the attendance but my continued enthusiasm for the event. I plan to share my thoughts tomorrow here on my blog.

We had a lovely dinner with one of Gail’s former college roommates and her daughter, who live here in Dallas. It was a relaxing and enjoyable finish on an otherwise very, very busy day.

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