Identity Publishing

A powerful social force in the world today is called “identity politics” (IP). Simply, it divides people by race, gender, economic class, and numerous other factors, creating a large number of micro-groups, each supporting political agendas important to the group.

For Christians and the church, commanded by God to live in unity with other believers and be peacemakers with everyone else, IP thinking can be rather toxic.

“That’s all I have to say about that” (Forest Gump).

Strangely, the general premise behind identity politics has been present in book publishing for a very long time. I suppose other words for it could be “credentials” or “authority.” After all, if you are going to write a book about something, the lowest bar to clear should be knowledge of the subject and an identity that has something to do with it. Writing ability has never been enough on its own.

Writing a book about leadership? You need to be leading something.

Marriage books written by someone who is or has been married.

Business books by someone in business.

Theology books by someone who knows theology.

Race-relation books by people who are deeply involved in that arena.

However, “identity thinking” takes simple prerequisites and adds to it a list of other requirements that must be met by the author. Just look at the above list and add gender, race, political affiliation, and anything else you can think of as the driving perspective behind each.

A book might be published and spend its relatively short life searching for a few hundred readers.

I fear Christian book readers will be influenced by societal changes and require some version of “identity publishing,” where they seek out authors who look, live, and think exactly like them. They won’t seek to be challenged and stretched by someone who doesn’t match them exactly.

And I am not talking about theological differences that could add even more complexity.

Consider this: The Bible was written predominantly by males living in the Middle East. Using the logic of identity thinking for Christian messages, one could believe nothing in the Bible should rightly apply to anyone other than men in the Middle East.

However, it was dictated and/or inspired by the Holy Spirit of the living God, which hopefully satisfies people challenging the Bible’s validity of application.

To show how this situation could quickly go sideways, Scripture specifically states the role of older believers is to disciple younger believers. Identity thinking would prohibit this since the only people qualified to speak to my needs would be people like me. Age would be one of the additional qualifiers (or disqualifiers). Forget multi-generational Bible studies. Each church would need pastors for every age group and lifestyle.

What does the Bible say about itself? Go to 2 Timothy 3:16-17 for an explanation of the source and purpose:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The words you write can find readers in unexpected places, most who will not be like you at all.

For sure, iron sharpens iron, but so does steel, stone, fire, and a hammer.

22 Responses to Identity Publishing

  1. Christine Malkemes March 3, 2021 at 6:35 am #

    Good reminder of why we write. Not to a preferred audience but an audience prepared by the Lord. The writer writes. The reader reads. Somewhere in the middle is good, honest and ,yea. Holy preparation.

  2. G Chops March 3, 2021 at 7:46 am #

    AMEN!

  3. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser March 3, 2021 at 7:53 am #

    Samuel Pierpont Langley was
    the aerial doyen of his age;
    ’twas assumed he would fly first because
    he was the acknowledged sage
    of model-flight experiment,
    but in the words of one reporter
    his manned Great Aerodrome just went
    straight down like heap of mortar,
    and the stage was set at Kitty Hawk
    for the Dayton brothers, Wright,
    to put end to idle talk
    that man could not take flight,
    and show the world, when they were through
    the things that unschooled craftsmen do.

    • Linda Riggs Mayfield March 3, 2021 at 8:02 am #

      Oh, Andrew, one of your best ever! Thank you for sharing your poetic gift!

    • Kay DiBianca March 3, 2021 at 10:31 am #

      Andrew! This may be your best ever. You’ve written about one of my favorite subjects: the Wright brothers. They exemplified perseverance, faith, and teamwork. They also showed the concept Dan mentioned: “iron sharpens iron.” They did it by arguing every detail of flight dynamics with each other, not in anger, but in brotherly love in a combined effort to arrive at a solution.

      • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser March 3, 2021 at 12:43 pm #

        Kay, I’m so honoured by your words. I, too, hold the Wrights in awe, and I guess it’s proof of that in that there are two aeroplanes in my workshop (needing a LOT of TLC), and aeroplane parts scattered through the house. The master bedroom is host to a set of wings, and tail surfaces…and there was once a Messerschmitt 109 cockpit section in the kitchen.

        Yes, Barb is very patient. But she knew what she was getting into…when we married there was a wing under restoration in the living room.

        We divorced shortly thereafter, and remarried after an even shorter hiatus…and when she got back to where I lived, she found a Pitts Special wing, newly-built, on sawhorses in that same long-suffering living room.

        Yes, I am certainly certifiable. So?

        • Kay DiBianca March 3, 2021 at 5:37 pm #

          Andrew, that’s hilarious! My husband once brought his sailplane (wings and tail detached) into our sunroom where it sat for months while he piddled with it.

          I considered it a great conversation piece when friends came to visit. It surely set us apart!

          • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser March 3, 2021 at 5:49 pm #

            Kay, that’s terrific! What model? I’ve always wanted a Libelle.

            • Kay DiBianca March 3, 2021 at 6:35 pm #

              His was an experimental Russia AC-4. Single seat.

              We’ll have to trade flying stories some time. I have a single engine pilot’s license, instrument rated. Frank opted to fly without an engine. (Oh my!)

              We don’t pilot our own aircraft anymore, but we had great fun for a number of years.

            • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser March 4, 2021 at 7:46 am #

              Kay, I’d love to share stories one day. . I did mainly aerobatics, and like to fly old stuff.

  4. Susan March 3, 2021 at 7:54 am #

    Thank you for this. The central character in my current novel has Down syndrome. I do not have Down syndrome and do not have a child with Down syndrome. Our culture demands that we only write from lived experiences, stay in our lane and leave room for others to write their stories. I worked with individuals with Down syndrome for many years and continue to educate myself about issues related to that community and yet, the “own voices” culture would say since I don’t live in a family with this diagnosis, I shouldn’t be writing this story. I continue to write it because God has led me to this story and I know He will continue to guide me to the right words.

  5. G Chops March 3, 2021 at 7:54 am #

    Also, God is not a respecter of persons. My family is a mixture of four races, all this “people of color crap is HIGHLY offensive!
    “People of color is just “colored people” rearranged.

    My babies aren’t black John, “hispanic Sally, white Jenny, they are just PEOPLE!! NOT PEOPLE OF COLOR!

  6. Nikki Hertzler March 3, 2021 at 9:29 am #

    Amen. I am relieved to hear you say this. You keep adhering to biblical standards and beliefs. The Laube Agency are certainly people I would want to work with.

  7. Kathleen Denly March 3, 2021 at 11:13 am #

    I appreciate this very thoughtful post.

  8. Peggy Rychwa/Sheryl Marcoux March 3, 2021 at 11:37 am #

    I agree with this in non-fiction. Perhaps fiction writers have the advantage of suspension of disbelief and vicarious identification.

    Your blog stresses that it’s more important for us to put the “Christian” before the “writer” and find our identity in Jesus Christ.

  9. Kristen Joy Wilks March 3, 2021 at 12:04 pm #

    An important reminder to follow our Lord rather than the way the world around us works. I have been challenged recently to read authors who are different than me and have been truly blessed by the experience. May the Lord work through each of us!

  10. Kathy Sheldon Davis March 3, 2021 at 2:10 pm #

    I’ve been concerned about the potential flood of twisted Bible interpretations, too. Scary thought.

  11. Claire O'Sullivan March 3, 2021 at 7:09 pm #

    Amen.

    “That’s all I have to say about that.” FG as above…

  12. Lois Keffer March 4, 2021 at 2:22 pm #

    And how sharply those divisions have been delineated in the last few years. Tricky work stating your case to a broad audience.

  13. Natalie March 5, 2021 at 7:33 pm #

    Great article. Thank you, Dan.

  14. Joy Avery Melville March 15, 2021 at 11:51 am #

    This is an excellent article!
    I’d LOVE to see Christian writers discuss this at a conference in the NEAR FUTURE!

    God called me to write Christian Contemporary Women’s Fiction and has allowed me a thread of Romance in each of my books.
    ISSUES in those stories have challenged some readers, according to private messages and emails I’ve received, and I’m sure God
    gave me the ideas for the books as well as human resources and research material I didn’t know I’d need for the novels, until I actually
    needed them.

    I’m not sure how IP will effect my readership, since as I work on every single novel, it is my prayer that God will get the book into the hands
    of those readers HE MOST WANTS TO READ IT! I’m sure that’s happened and will happen again, but it is SO sad to see how the political climate
    has changed so drastically and colors so much of what we CAN say and do. Books being “cancelled” cartoons being “cancelled” and I just read an article today about words being removed from dictionaries already. How much stinkin’ thinkin’ is ruining our first amendment and the influence of generations – I PRAY God will intervene – SOON

    Thank you for that article and making me think!

    Joy Avery Melville
    ~ Fictional Journeys To Joy By Joy ~

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