C. J. Mahaney’s Blurb for De Young is “Out of Control!”Posted: April 20, 2010 Filed under: C. J. Mahaney, Just for Fun, Kevin DeYoung 14 Comments
Last week at the Band of Bloggers Conference I received 12-titles from a number of different publishers. The book I was looking forward to getting the most was Kevin De Young’s newest title, The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism.
After getting back home to Grand Rapids, placing the other 11-titles on my shelf, I kept out De Young’s new title and starting reading (like I always do) the book blurbs and could not believe what I read. C. J. Mahaney’s blurb states, “I’m sure this will be the best book on the Heidelberg Catechism I’ve ever read. I know it will be the frist.”
“I’m sure this WILL be…” C. J. did you really write a blurb for a book that you did not even read yet? I am speechless, then again it seems today that book blurbs are just about who you have writing them, and not what they have to say.
“The best book on the Heidelberg Catechism I’ve ever read…” C. J. are you unaware of the massive amount of material that has been written over the past 400-years on The Heidelberg Catechism, and yet never reading any of them, you state that this will be the best?
No offense to Kevin De Young, (and I do love his writing & speaking) but I can name a number of different books and material that are above and beyond Kevin De Young’s 2-3 page commentary/exposition per Lord’s Day’s in The Heidelberg Catechism. Work like:
- Zecharias Ursinus, Commentary onThe Heidelberg Catechism
- Lyle D. Bierma with Paul W. Fields and Charles D. Gunnoe and Karin Y. Maag, An Introduction to the Heidelberg Catechism
- George W. Bethune, Lectures on the Heidelberg Catechism
- Henry Kersten’s 52-sermons on the Heidelberg Catechism
- Joel Beeke’s Heidelberg Catechism Sermons
- Herman Hoeksema’s 3-volumes on The Triple Knowledge: An Exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism
- William Ames’s A Sketch of the Christian’s Catechism.
“I know it will be the first.” Seriously? The first book you ever read on the Heidelberg Catechism and you are blurbing it? Does anyone else see this as ridiculous as I do? It seems that a pop-icon in evangelicalism can write blurbs for other author’s without even knowing what they am talking about? Can I start writing blurbs on books for the Sovereign Grace movement on how the charismata still exists today in the Church? That’d be fun!
Better yet than all of this, is that Moody Publishing, a Dispensational Publishing House (which I am sure now is not Classical Dispy) published Kevin DeYoung, a pastor from the Reformed Church of America on The Reformed Heidelberg Catechism. Who would have ever thought the day would come when a Dispensationalist started publishing material for Confessional Covenant Theology. However, I like it, keep it up Moody!
Good thoughts Dewalt. You know you’ve “arrived” when you can write a blurb before reading a book. Maybe a funny competition would be a “generic book blurb” competition where the top 10 entries get included on the back of the first book you have published.
Pipe down there DeeWalt. The blurb was a quote pulled from a blog post of CJ’s. DeYoung liked it and thought that it was so funny he wanted it on the book. Obviously the blurb–which was not written as a blurb–was intended to be funny. See: http://bit.ly/bqi5Mt
Wait, so the blurb is not even a blurb? … Since when did the definition of a blurb change? Is it not a a promotional description endorsing the book? My point is that C. J. hasn’t even read the book, yet he endorses others to read it? Better yet he endorses a book on the Heidelberg Catechism, and has never read a book on it before.
Yeah Dewalt, this is typical Mahaney. While I appreciated CJ’s book, Humility, at least in a practical sense, I’m guessing that it [his book] was the only book he’s ever read. And he’s admitted he’s not much of a reader, that being said, that should be enough evidence for why he should never write blurbs for any books.
Michael, I am with you on this one. Glad you had the guts to write this!
Are you guys serious? It was a joke. DeYoung thought it was funny so he put it on his book…and you jump from that to CJ has only read his own book? Relax. The whole point is that it was ridiculous. That’s why its funny.
Joey, I know that it was a joke, I have been told it was a joke, and I know that DeYoung wanted it on there. My point is that the book blurbing business is ridiculous. What once was finding those who were educated on the topic that the writer wrote about to blurb your title for promotion, now has turned into a get all you can pop-icon show. The result is that we then have those that write blurbs not because they know what they are talking about, but because of their popular icon status being on the back cover of the book.
Example: If I saw Mark Driscoll write a blurb on the back of a reprinted title by John Colquhon “A Treatise on the Law and the Gospel” it would be hard to believe that it was done for any other purpose than sales. For I have never heard Mark talk about John Colquhon nor do I even know if he has studied Mr. Colquhon and his work. However if I read a Scotsman like Maurice Robert’s wrote a blurb, it would make sense.
Two thoughts I would add, perhaps three, are 1) Who outside of a few select people knew this was a joke? 2) Also the problem, and call me old-fashioned, is that it was a joke! If these reports are correct then they were making light of something that should be taken seriously. So you ask, “Are you guys serious?” Yes, I am serious and that is where the discussion comes full circle. 3) Lastly, I wholeheartedly agree with Michael. The the Reformed Church (which I speak from) has made preachers, bloggers, theologians, etc…into pop icons. Soon theological conferences may more resemble the final twelve of American Idol. If this type of “blurbing” were to become common practice, we will never know whether someone likes a book or not, and blurbs will and should mean nothing, and then better that they disappear altogether.
Michael, I see your point, in a way. The whole point of the blurb has been to get people who pick the book up to see if its something they want to read going “Oh, that guy I like recommends it, so maybe its worth my time.” Now for you maybe its more along the lines of “That guy who knows a lot about this topic says its a good read, so maybe its worth my time.” You made the comment about Driscoll and you would find it hard to believe it would be done for any reason other than sales…and I would say that is the whole point of blurbs. Is that silly? Not to many people write a book for no one to read it.
The problem was with using Mahaney as an example, because the whole point of that is that it is making fun of the very thing you think is ridiculous.
You say, “Oh, that guy I like recommends it, so maybe its worth my time.”To which I respond, what if that same guy is recommending all kinds of books constantly all the time passing out his pop-icon name status to blurb books for sales. To me, the blurb then has less value.
Example: J. I. Packer blurbs a book, I could careless because he seems to constantly blurb books on a weekly basis for the past 20-years.
This leads me to the point I am making – that I like to read blurbs on books that people know what they are talking about. I like it when I pickup a book on the Westminster Confession and see Sinclair or R. C. recommending it, and not Joel Osteen. Likewise, I like it when I pickup a book on the Heidelberg Catechism and then read blurbs promoting it to be read by guys who have actually read the heidelberg catechism or other titles on it. I don’t care if Kevin wanted it on their or not.
I wonder if the Elector Frederick III, Zacharius Ursinus, and Caspar Olevianus thought a “joke” from a mystic-charismatic would be good for a book blurb when they set out for Reformation in Germany during the later 16th century. Sounds like a great idea, don’t you think?
I hope that would have had a sense of humor about them. Like I said, I don’t disagree with your point about blurbs being more or less meaningful based on the person writing the blurb. But I still think you are missing the point. Mahaney’s quote wasn’t supposed to be meaningful. It was supposed to be funny. What better way to make the very point you are making then to have someone say “Hey I don’t know anything about this, and I haven’t even read this, but I am sure its good!” I read that and think “Ha, Kevin DeYoung is making fun of blurbs.”
As far as Ursinus and that lot goes, I think they would look to the decades of faithful ministry on Mahaney’s part, especially the fact that he has kept the Gospel central in his teaching and ministry, and they would say what McArthur, Sproul, Sincliar, Mohler etc say. Which is basically, this guy is funny. And he loves the gospel. We like him.
But of course that’s just what I think.
I’m not sure why I am repeating myself but once again… I understand that the blurb was to be funny. However funny it is, that doesn’t mean I like it, nor do I find it funny. I read it and found it funny, only taking away from the seriousness of the book, sorry. The blurb doesn’t make me want to read it, matter of fact after reading the blurb, I only then skimmed the book because of the lack of seriousness I saw in it.
As far as in what you “think” about the men that worked on the Heidelberg Catechism…. Oh Dear!
This reminds me John Frame’s positive blurb on the Concise Reformed Dogmatics (CRD) by two confessional Dutch men.
Frame actively denies the law and gospel distinction, yet gives a positive blurb to two authors that strongly hold to it, the distinction runs throughtout the dogmatic.
There needs to be a regulation on book puffs.
Ha! That is funny.