August 26, 2008 by

Not Crying Foul, Just Asking Questions (or, "Hey, Where’s MY Copy?")


Categories: books, food for thought


Okay, so a couple of months ago, some of the folks from Frank Viola’s organization apparently read some older references I had made on this blog to the book Pagan Christianity? They emailed and asked if I’d like a “review” copy of the next book Reimagining Church. I emailed back and said yes, please.

Then, after this took place, I actually wrote a review of Pagan Christianity?–admittedly a fairly negative review. At that time, I quipped that I hoped my review would not make the Viola folks change their minds about sending me the next book.

Still waiting…

Actually, since writing that review, several things have happened (and not happened) that are making me go, “Hmmmm….” Consider the following:
  • After writing that review, I received several comments defending Pagan Christianity?, written by people who had not previously commented here, and have not commented since.
  • On another blog discussing P.C. (I cannot remember where), I saw a commentor make a humorous reference to Viola’s “blogger police”–people who apparently do blog searches for the book and defend its contents when necessary. (Whether these people actually exist, I cannot prove; like I said, it just makes me go “Hmmm…”)
  • When I began to get word that other bloggers were receiving their review copies of Reimagining Church, I emailed Viola’s ministry again to inquire why I had not received my copy. I recieved an email back stating that my review copy would come on a “future run”.
  • Other bloggers are now writing their reviews of the new book. Fairly positive ones, I might add. Meanwhile, the book has been released and is now for sale. So much for advance review copies.
Still waiting….

So without unfairly leveling accusations here, this stuff does raise my eyebrows a bit. I can’t help but wonder if perhaps the reason I got slated for a “future run” of the new book was because I wrote a negative review of the last one. Meanwhile, people who reviewed the last book positively…they have their copies.


Not crying foul, just raising the questions:
  • Is the Viola camp attempting to manipulate the Internet and the blogosphere to try to keep their positive spin in the forefront?
  • And if so…how is this any different from the control issues that plague the institutions they themselves appropriately criticize?
Oh, I suppose by now I could go buy the book and review it myself. But I don’t wanna. I did buy the first one, and was promised a free copy of the next one. It’s the principle of the thing.

So just in case this is true–I’d like to offer the following friendly reminder to the Viola people: Publicity is publicity. Negative reviews get your book seen just as much as positive ones do. In fact, I’d suggest that most of the sales of Pagan Christianity? were generated precisely because of the controversy it raised. (That’s why I bought my copy, in fact.) And I don’t even know what kind of review I’d give the next one. Either way–how could a healthy discussion of the issues hurt your case? I mean, really?

So…what about it? Any Viola “blogger police” want to give me some feedback? 🙂

Musician. Composer. Recovering perfectionist. Minister-in-transition. Lover of puns. Hijacker of rock song references. Questioner of the status quo. I'm not really a rebel. Just a sincere Christ-follower with a thirst for significance that gets me into trouble. My quest has taken me over the fence of institutional Christianity. Here are some of my random thoughts along the way. Read along, join in the conversation. Just be nice.

5 Responses to Not Crying Foul, Just Asking Questions (or, "Hey, Where’s MY Copy?")

  1. Sarah

    lol! Does seem a bit fishy. I suppose the marketing of “new wineskin” type books is no different from the marketing world of regular Christian books… it’s all about sales in the end. Well, not for the authors – I’m sure they have motives beyond money in most cases. But for the publishers, definitely. Good luck! Hope you’ve learned your lesson! (Just kidding – an honest review is best). 😛

  2. tysdaddy

    I imagine this is SOP for this type of thing. Why on earth would they send someone a book to review when the last review wasn’t five-star stellar? Marketing isn’t about honesty . . .

  3. grace

    So is it your theory that I have naively allowed myself to be manipulated and used or that I am part of the sinister plot to control the information released in the blogosphere?

    Seriously though, I think you really might like this book. I would say it’s Frank’s best book yet.

  4. Jeff McQ


    Your opinions are your own, and should be stated, and they are valued in this part of the blogosphere, as always. You’re too smart to be anyone’s pawn. I was only suggesting that *maybe*–*maybe*–the Viola folks have given you a bit of extra favor because you *did* respond positively to their book. If that is the case (and I’m not saying it is), that would be their issue, not yours.

    The point is, I’d LIKE to read the book. But…still waiting… 🙂

  5. grace

    I am sorry that I forgot to put the tongue-in-cheek warning on my response. I was laughing as I wrote it, but it sounds pretty harsh if you thought I was serious.

    There are lots of reasons for extra “favor”, but in my case it is probably because I wrote an endorsement for the book (either that or my charming personality).

    I don’t know if you read internet monk, but he just posted a great piece called The Frank Viola Project addressing the importance of the books regardless of whether one agrees completely with Frank’s conclusions.

    Keep us posted. I will be waiting in suspense to hear when you get your copy.

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