Black Friday – Cyber Monday – Giving Tuesday

This summer I attended a trade show for Christian publishers and retailers. When I entered the display floor, I was amazed – and, frankly, appalled – at the size and expense of some of the displays. Convention floor space is never cheap, and displays are ridiculously expensive. Lots and lots of marketing dollars were being spent in that display hall on what struck me as frivolous, wasteful spending.

Then I realized: The big spenders were for-profit publishers trying to make money for investors. And the idea that people are making money off of other people’s faith turned my stomach a bit. I couldn’t help but think of Jesus and the moneychangers.

CBP/Chalice Press is different. We are a non-profit corporation, a charity, a ministry. Our revenues are reinvested into our company, our products, and our employees. We have no stockholders to satisfy. Giving Tuesday: November 29, 2016

Though we are affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), we do not receive one copper penny of financial support from the denomination. We do not approach congregations, organizations, or individuals for donations. We make nearly all of our money from selling our products and services.

Today, Giving Tuesday, is the only time this year we will ask you to consider making a tax-deductible gift to support our ministry. Every dime you give goes directly to the development, publication, and distribution of resources that invite all people into deeper relationship with God, equip them as disciples of Jesus Christ, and send them into ministry as the Spirit calls them. We are careful and accountable stewards of financial resources in our care. You may find many details about our governance and management at guidestar.org.

More than that, we believe now more than ever that progressive Christians need to have a voice in society’s heated discussions on inclusion, privilege, race, gender identity, and multifaith cooperation. We want to proclaim the messages of 21st-century prophets to a broken world desperate for good news.

This ministry depends financially on the people and congregations who buy what we publish and the donors who believe in what we do. This work depends on you.

You can donate through ChalicePress.com, either directly or when you make a purchase. You can also choose to mail a donation to CBP/Chalice Press, 483 E Lockwood Avenue, Suite 100, St. Louis, MO 63119.

We are grateful for the work we do, the people we work with, and the customers we serve. Thank you for your support.

Thankfully,
Brad-signature
Brad Lyons
President and Publisher

Brad Lyons is president and publisher of Chalice Press.

Eulogy for one tree, birth announcement for another

A year ago today was the first Monday of 2015 — the first day back at work after the Christmas/New Year holiday, which meant lots of email and lots of work. Grateful to be back at work, I spent the afternoon digging out and didn’t notice the subtle shift in my office’s lighting, from a pale fluorescent blue to a brighter midday white, then, as the day’s final sunlight streamed through old windows, a soft purple.

Sometime around five o’clock, I looked up and realized my office had never been this color before. After a quick glance out my cloudy glass window, I grabbed my cellphone and scrambled outside.

Beyond the quadrangle at Eden Seminary, the sky of the west-southwest burned as the sun reminded us it is truly a star burning with inconceivable energy. As it eased below the horizon, it threw yellow and orange to the treetops. Above that — was it pink or magenta or another color whose name I didn’t know — high cirrus clouds stretched halfway up the sky before smearing into the cobalt of late-afternoon sky. I am from the Great Plains, a land of magnificent sunsets, yet this particular sunset was perhaps the most amazing I’d ever seen.

I snapped a few photos with my iPhone, but they didn’t do this masterpiece justice. Then I took a dozen steps north to put a massive American Elm between the sunset and me. Its dark, lanky, bare silhouette framed the sunset perfectly. That was the photo I posted on Facebook and eventually Panoramia and Google Earth.

Sunset, January 5, 2015, Eden Theological Seminary
Sunset, January 5, 2015, Eden Theological Seminary

In the few days after Christmas, when historic rains softened the ground too much, the old root system couldn’t hold the tree upright one second longer. When the tree crashed down, the ground must have shaken, and it must have made an incredible racket, a holy racket. It fell to the south and toppled a smaller tree; if it had crashed to the east, it likely would have toppled into my office. The tree had to be four feet in diameter, enormous in mass.

Yesterday afternoon, a work crew finished three days of cutting and hacking, leaving a muddy smear in the winter grass. The wood has been hauled off, and all that remains is the sawdust and wood chips from chainsaws and bulldozer tracks. The roothole is filled, the ground smoothed, and I imagine the grounds crew will next address the issue when it’s time to plant grass.

Eden quadrangle, January 4, 2016
Eden quadrangle, January 4, 2016

The seminary displays historic photos in the main hallway of its academic building, and I examined them today to see if I could spot the tree as a sapling when the campus was under construction in 1924. I didn’t see it, so my guess is that the tree was planted in Eden’s first few years. In those succeeding decades, that tree shaded some incredible thinkers like the Niebuhrs, Reinhold and Richard, and Walter Brueggemann and thousands of pastors who have baptized, married, educated, counseled, and buried countless Christians and non-Christians alike. Under its branches have walked those who conceived astounding visions for how church could evolve in a world none of them could imagine.

That tree shaded some incredible thinkers like the Niebuhrs ... and Walter Brueggemann ... Click To Tweet

If a new tree is planted tomorrow, it will take decades to grow as tall as the one that likely serves as firewood tonight or mulch in the spring. If we are lucky — and I believe we will indeed be lucky — that tree too will see its share of great thinkers and astounding visions.

That new tree will, eventually, replace the old tree. If we nurture it and care for it, if we are careful to give it the nutrients and respect it needs, it will grow. Surely the new tree’s branches will look different, and it may be a different species of tree altogether, but it will fill the same role: shade on a hot day, shelter for birds and squirrels, carbon dioxide processer and oxygen generator for those of us who need to breathe, silhouettes for the artist, home base for neighborhood children playing in Eden’s fountain on a muggy day.

And so it is with all of us, and our institutions, our churches, and our world, which changes sometimes in the matter of seconds, of a few words said or unsaid, of ideas shared or hoarded, of possibilities followed or abandoned. When the old dies, we replace it with the new. It will be the same, it will be different, but it will be.

I hope they plant a new tree soon. I already miss the old one.


Update 5:14 pm CST: Tonight’s sunset is a good one, too. Must be something about January 5.

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Brad Lyons is president and publisher of Chalice Press.

Welcome to #ABetterWord

Welcome to #ABetterWord, the new blog from Chalice Press where you’ll find information about authors, their work, our books and other resources. We also hope it will provide inspiration for you as you grow a deeper relationship with God, equip yourself as a disciple of Jesus Christ, and go into ministry as the Holy Spirit calls you.

Chalice Press offers hundreds of titles going back dozens of years, and all of it is still relevant in today’s world. We’re willing to bet you don’t know about many of our titles, so we’ll provide samples of our tried-and-true work so you can see the possibilities in our books. We’ll also introduce you to our newer authors at the leading edge of today’s thinking on religion, faith, and our culture. Many of our authors have blogs that you’ll want to read, and we’ll highlight those. We also know we’re not the only content providers on the planet, and we’ll link to other resources.

We also acknowledge that being a book publisher means we can’t respond to breaking news rapidly. (For more on breaking news, see The Internet.) Social media has become society’s go-to source to express our collective joy or grief, and we join in that conversation on Facebook and Twitter. But beyond those initial 140-character proclamations, our blog will help us reflect on those events.

We’ll also warn you that we might get silly sometimes. We hope you won’t mind a little levity.

Finally: Thank you. You probably haven’t stumbled in here randomly. Something brought you here, and it’s likely that you’ve seen a Chalice Press book or have another connection to us that predates these couple hundred words. You’ve probably already helped us in our ministry in any number of ways, so thank you. We’re grateful to be at your side as you work to find a better way to build a better world. Just like recommending a good book to a friend, we hope you’ll share these blog posts, too! And subscribe by email to keep up-to-date on everything we post.

Gratefully,
Brad-signature
Brad Lyons
President and Publisher

Brad Lyons is president and publisher of Chalice Press.