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Are conservative Christian theology and liberal politics compatible?
Sunday, 11 May 2008
My purpose, Christian unity, effectiveness of mission, and further personal preparation
Mood:  d'oh
Topic: my books

Obviously, as a Christian, the main purpose of my life on earth is to come to know God and to trust Him to live through me, through my thoughts, words and actions, that He may be glorified in the world around me.  It is to learn to live out my oneness with Him in the Spirit.  

I have long been aware that, for me personally, with my unusual gifts, personality and disabilities, a large part of that purpose involves letting God live through me intellectually, guiding my study and thinking (which are very major parts of my life).  I have also long been aware one of the major purposes, or possibly better "sub-purposes," of my life involves moving the Church, Christ's Body on Earth, toward more outward manifestation of its real unity.  That has been the focus of my intellectual activity for the last 14 or 15 years of my life.  It has led to the publication of numerous websites (links to all of which are found on the Christian-oneness.org website) and one book (Our Oneness in Christ).

 But thus far these efforts do not appear to have been very effective.  The websites usually gather only a few hundred "hits" per month, and very little response.  The book, published in December 2006, has received some very positive reviews but has sold only about 30 copies, total, not counting copies I or my coauthor have purchased ourselves and distributed for free.  I have sought for coauthors for additional books, believing God was in it (and I still do believe that), but have received only weak response to my proposals.  God works in His own time, but I have had to ask Him why nothing seems to be happening.

He has reminded me that I must let Him guide my course.  And He has started me on a new course of personal preparation.  The underlying ideas  in my existing book and websites are generally scripturally sound, but I do not yet have the philosophical or theological background to adequately understand where the divisions in the Church really came from. I also don't yet have the background to fully appreciate why the various divided entities in the Church seem to be locked in the mode of insisting that everyone outside of them--whether unbelievers or believers from other denominational groups--must come to them on their own terms, fully understanding and affirming their theological terms of art, or not at all.  (Obviously, this traditional insistence that those who come to Christ must first understand and agree with church language and forms of thought keeps many people away from Christ in this post-Christian country).  So, he has strated me on a course of reading as He directs.

One of the major functions of this blog will be to present reviews of many of the books I'm directed to read, or have already read.  These reviews will be posted in the "reviews" topic of this blog.  The other major function of this blog will be to provide a place to vent frustrations with the world aruond me.  This venting will occur mostly in the "pure satire" topic.    


Posted by ian_j_site2 at 9:46 PM EDT
Saturday, 10 May 2008
Applications of Quantum Mechanics to Real Life: The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
Mood:  cheeky
Topic: F unAQs
Although I have no idea where I'm going, I can be absolutely certain I'll get there.

Posted by ian_j_site2 at 8:58 AM EDT
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
Positive implications of rejection (declaration of independence)
Topic: idiosyncratic egotism

As I said in an earlier post, the United States Supreme Court has now refused to involve itself in my case.  The result of this is that the judgment of the Kansas Supreme Court denying my application to join the bar of the State of Kansas, stands.  This means that, barring the intervention of God to change the decision of the Courts, I will never be a lawyer.  (Note that, unlike many, I do not place the United States Supreme Court above God.  God can still overrule the Court--or even abolish it--if He wants to).

This decision may, at first, look like a disaster for me, something out of which no good can come.  But it does have some positive aspects.  Here is a partial list of them: 

1.  I no longer need to fear the negative opinions of the Kansas Supreme Court.  They have irreversibly decided that they are unworthy of me.  So now I can go on free of any concern for what they think.

2.  As a consequence of #1, I no longer need to make personal decisions--for instance, decisions about where I spend my time or money, or who I associate with--with any purpose to avoid the Court's bad opinion or to win the Court's favor.  They have already done the worst they can do, and I will NEVER win their favor.  In these personal and financial decisions, I am now free to follow God's leading without trying to balance God's plans against the desire for a future law license.

3.  Also as a consequence of #1, I no longer need to put any study time into maintaining my legal knowledge.  I can now study entirely on God's program.

4.  Another consequence of #1 is that I am now free to speak, write and publish without any thought of what the Court will think.  The Court will probably dislike whatever I say, just because I'm the one who said it, said it.  But their displeasure doesn't matter anymore. 

5.  I no longer need to make occupational decisions based on the need to stay close to the law.  I'm free to increasingly pursue a future in scholarship and writing, which is both my natural bent and the direction I believe God is sending me.

6.  I no longer need to make paying my student loan the number one priority in my life.  Because there will be no future attempts to join the Bar, late student loan payments will not have a negative effect on future applications.  This doesn't mean that I now intend to go into bankruptcy, or to simply ignore my student loan creditor.  It does mean that God and my family will now come before my creditors--as should always have been the case.  

7.  I no longer need to make financial and occupational decisions based on ultra-conservative speculations about the effects of my decisions on my ability to maintain my payments on my student loans from law school.  I no longer need to avoid pursuing unconventional decisions about my finances or future because I fear that they would make my student loan creditor feel insecure, if that creditor found out about them.   Just because most of the loans were from law school doesn't mean that my future has to be that of a "normal" rejected law school graduate.    

 In short, I'm now free to make radical changes without giving any thought to what the Kansas Supreme Court, or the courts in general, would think about those changes.  The Court probably thought that its decision rendered me irrelevant.  What it really did was render them irrelevant.

Posted by ian_j_site2 at 11:30 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 7 May 2008 8:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 23 April 2008
My book is NOT "out of print:" More about the Amazon monopoly imbroglio
Mood:  irritated
Topic: my books

I've been looking around the web for confirmation of my publisher's reports about monopolistic practices of Amazon.com involving publish-on-demand (POD) books such as my own. 

I have found only one article that discussed--briefly--Amazon's apparent price fixing last year. Recall from an earlier post that PublishAmerica said that last year Amazon threatened to stop selling PublishAmerica's books unless they would agree to sell  those books on their own website only at full list price. Thus, in essence, they demanded that PublishAmerica promise never to undercut Amazon's discount in selling to the public.  This is, if true, classic price fixing.  The one article I've found thuse far that discusses the situation confirms that Amazon actually did demand the right to fix the prices of PublishAmerica's books and those of other POD publishers.  See Amazon BookSurge information clearinghouse at Writers' Weekly.

But no one appears to have raised a big issue over this price fixing.

However, there are scores of online articles and blog entries concerning the subject of PublishAmerica's second letter to me--Amazon's threat to quit selling the books of any POD publisher who did not submit electronic versions of all of their books, reformatted to Amazon's specifications at significant expense, to Amazon's in-house POD unit, BookSurge.  The method by which Amazon threatened to stop selling the books was also quite sneaky, and was a veiled threat to use Amazon's visibility to damage sales of the books through other distribution channels.  Instead of simply taking down the web pages on Amazon's site advertising the banned books, Amazon threatened to keep the web pages up, but with the "buy" buttons removed from them.  The books would still be availabe through Amazon's "used and new" links to other distributors, but would not be available directly from Amazon.  This would give the false impression to customers seeking to buy a banned book at Amazon that the book was simply "out of print."

Of course, since these articles first started coming out, Amazon has actually carried out its threat against PublishAmerica, which refused to charge its authors the fees necessary to reformat their books to Amazon's specifications.  All books sold by PublishAmerica, including my book (Our Oneness in Christ, ISBN 1424160359) now show up on Amazon exactly as if they were out of print.   

Numerous articles and blogs refer to this situation as Amazon's BookSurge "imbroglio."  Some speak of the possibility of an antitrust suit (which, incidentally, I would join as a plaintiff if a significant group of others was also participating).  The best of the articles and blogs on this are:

Amazon BookSurge information clearinghouse at Writers' Weekly

Petition to stop Amazon's monopolistic practice at I-Petitions

The Eight Hundred Pound Gorilla at Independent authors' Guild

Amazon's POD Monopoly on BookTwo.org

Amazon Bullying Raises Monopoly and Business Concerns on Blogging Stocks

Amazon's official response, which, unfortunately, makes little sense from my perspective.





Posted by ian_j_site2 at 10:36 PM EDT
What "F unAQs" means
Mood:  d'oh
Topic: F unAQs

"Frequently Unasked Questions."

"Where angels fear to tread."

Posted by ian_j_site2 at 8:37 AM EDT
Tuesday, 22 April 2008
Did ya ever wonder?
Mood:  mischievious
Topic: F unAQs
Did ya ever wonder what the High Court was high on?

Posted by ian_j_site2 at 11:31 PM EDT
It's official
Mood:  special
Topic: legal matters

OK, it's now official.  By a decision of the United States Supreme Court, I'm too good for the Courts to accept.  The Bar is unworthy of me.  I will look to another destiny. 

I will leave my website bearing the court documents in place for a few months, so that others who want to learn from my briefs, and from the courts' mistakes, may do so.   Then I will move on! 

Posted by ian_j_site2 at 10:59 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 22 April 2008 11:02 PM EDT
Monday, 21 April 2008
My publisher's retaliation: a big SALE
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: my books

Here is part of another e-mail from my publisher, announcing how it is fighting back against the Amazon:

 PublishAmerica is drastically reducing sales prices of all titles on its own website!
A few weeks ago we shared with you news about the pressure that many publishers were receiving from online vendor Amazon.com. As you know, PublishAmerica refused to budge. Today we can also report that this was not the first time that Amazon attempted to strong-arm PublishAmerica.
Roughly a year ago Amazon forced PublishAmerica to raise the pricing of our own books on our own website. They would not allow us to sell our almost 30,000 titles at sales prices lower than what Amazon chose to charge, and they threatened us with the very same retaliation that followed a year later after all. We complied at the time, and have been charging full list price in our own online store, because Amazon also charged full list price.
Staring down the bully: Now that Amazon has decided to punish PublishAmerica anyway for resisting further bullying, the time has come to reduce prices in our own online bookstore. And as an introductory step we will now slash our prices in half.  That's right: all book sales on PublishAmerica's website are at a 50 pct discount.
Go see for yourself at http://www.publishamerica.com/.
The introductory offer will expire April 28, when discounts will go back to approximately where they were before Amazon first attempted to dictate the nation's vending terms.

My book can be found on my publisher's website at Our Oneness in Christ (on PublishAmerica).

Posted by ian_j_site2 at 11:37 PM EDT
Another positive review for Our Oneness in Christ
Mood:  happy
Topic: my books

I recently became aware of another positive review of my book.  This one was authored by someone I had never heard of before, and someone to whom I had not submitted a copy of my book for review. 

This new positive review is on a "Book Reviews" blog (bookreviews07)on Blogspot.

A listing of the other reviews of my book (all positive) may be found at Our Oneness in Christ.


Posted by ian_j_site2 at 11:29 PM EDT
Publisher at war with Amazon; Book now available mainly through Barnes and Noble
Mood:  irritated
Topic: my books

According to a recent e-mail from my publisher, PublishAmerica, my book (Ian Johnson and Lauston Stephens, Our Oneness in Christ, ISBN 1424160359) is no longer available through Amazon.com due to a dispute between PublishAmerica and Amazon.  My publisher's e-mail stated:

 PublishAmerica is intensifying its ties with BarnesandNoble.com as its primary online vendor. At the same time, we are devaluating our relationship with Amazon.com. Unfortunately, we are doing this under pressure. Amazon has informed us a few days ago that they are insisting on printing every PublishAmerica book they sell, in their own recently bought in-house digital printing facility. We have been given just over two weeks to comply. Their ultimatum implies that PublishAmerica must submit almost 60,000 separate book files (text and cover), and redo every single one of them so they conform to the complicated technical specs that Amazon's in-house press requires.
They also demand a huge increase of their own profit-per-book, which would lead to dramatically lower royalty payments for our authors on all books sold through Amazon.com. Amazon's threat: if you do not play ball, we will disable the "Buy" button for your books.
Not surprisingly, PublishAmerica refuses to be swayed by anyone's strong-arming tactics, big name or otherwise, especially given the fact that budging would mean an additional expense on the publisher's side of tens of thousands of dollars, on top of the unacceptable royalty losses for our authors. When they tried to force our hand in the past, Amazon representatives have suggested that PublishAmerica should simply pass on its Amazon-caused expenses to its authors. Of course we have refused this. PublishAmerica never charges its authors as much as a single penny, ever. We are not going to change this winning policy under the threat of anyone's intimidation, nor are we willing to involuntarily accept any royalty cuts on behalf of our authors.
PublishAmerica's almost 30,000 titles remain available to Amazon, and we will continue to also make all future titles available to them. Amazon continues to be able to access our books the same way they, as well as all other retailers, have always accessed them, through at least four separate venues. One of those venues is LightningSource, a daughter company of the world's largest book wholesaler Ingram, which prints our books for retailers. (Amazon was attempting to take away a portion of this printing volume from Lightning Source until we prevented it.) If they want to obtain any PublishAmerica title, they can at all times, as they always have. PublishAmerica's books will furthermore continue to be available to just about every other book retail venue as well, including all Barnes and Noble, Borders, Waldenbooks, Books-a-Million and many other chain and independent bookstores, and to online outlets such as BarnesandNoble.com.
Barnes and Noble remains PublishAmerica's number one customer: more of our books have always been sold through Barnes and Noble and that company's online store than through any other vendor. Given the new circumstances, we now fully anticipate significant sales increases through BarnesandNoble.com and other places.

You may find my book on BarnesandNoble.com at:  Our Oneness in Christ

Posted by ian_j_site2 at 11:08 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 21 April 2008 11:20 PM EDT

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