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Fred PlumerAs I write this update, our summer is rapidly coming to end. While there are still many things in our churches that seem to follow the "Liturgical Calendar," psychologically speaking, most of us tend to follow the school calendar more than anything else. During the summer churches often change the hours and even cut back on the number of their worship services, invite a lot more guest preachers, seldom check attendance, and joyfully have fewer meetings.


Admittedly I miss that clear shift that was so much a part of my life for so long. Happily, however, we never had that kind of a slow down here at (OK I confess I did spend a couple of weeks floating in the warm, "amniotic" waters and gentle waves in Maui.) But I said, "happily" because we have so many exciting things going on, that it has been just plain fun to get up in the mornings.


We are moving right along with our new website which we expect to be in full operation by October. Aside from its new, fresh look, it will be easier to navigate and more responsive to your needs. The thing that will be most evident to you is that it will be far more interactive, allowing readers to make comments, reviews and share ideas. Something that we are especially excited about, that you will not see, is the new CRM capabilities. This change will automate a whole lot of our administrative tasks and allow our staff to spend more time on working on future projects. We are very excited about this shift not only for practical reasons but that it will allow us to be a lot more effective in meeting your needs. Daily liturgy, an interactive global google map, and simple maneuvering are some of the highlights we can't wait to share with you.


The main project that we will be focusing on over the next two years is our second installment of A Joyful Path, our children's curriculum. The writers and artist are lined up, schedules have been agreed upon and deadlines decided for the creation of our new children's curriculum, A Joyful Path, Year Two. Based on the extraordinary feedback that we have received and continue to receive on our A Joyful Path series, we know that we will have a solid market base for this new product. Our sales for A Joyful Path continue to be strong based, in large part, on word of mouth marketing. We are now confident that as more people use this powerful material and discover how well it works in the church classroom, others will be confident to use it with their own children.


Since we have taken over the publication of the John Shelby Spong subscription essay series, the sales have increased by over 20%. Not only are we proud of the improvements we have made in the Bishop Spong website, including the improved customer service, but thanks to the Spongs' generosity, our portion of the income has allowed us to do many other things we would not have been able to. The increase in readership has not happened by accident however. Pedro Lopez, a newer staff person who manages the Bishop Spong website and customer service, not only brought to us some badly needed technical skills but he also offers social networking skills that have showed wonderful results that we can apply to some of the other areas of our organization. Pedro has been a wonderful addition to our growing staff and is working closely with Frank Neville-Hamilton, our web designer, to make certain we have thought of everything.


We are also trying to respond to your numerous requests for more new formative material for small groups, both in our churches and outside. We are currently working on an arrangement with an organization started by Gene and Joyce Marshall, Realistic Living, to offer some excellent materials that they have created over the years. We should be making that announcement soon.


On another front, we are trying to respond to your requests for more forums and conferences so that you can experience some of the cutting edge theologians and biblical scholars. As many of you have noted we have cut down on these things, in part, because of the large expenses that are incurred and because of the ecological footprint that they cause because of the need for air travel. We have been talking to consultants about finding new ways for you to hear and even be able to dialogue with some of these pioneers through the use of webinar, online radio, video, and streaming. We have had extraordinary feedback on the videos that we are regularly posting the Bishop Spong Facebook page. As we try and weigh the costs and practicality of these alternatives, we will be looking for your input and suggestions.


And finally for now, I want you to know that we still receive about ten books a month for review. We are doing our best to keep up and make certain that we are recommending some of the best books out there for your education and interests. It is not easy to keep up, but I think we are providing you with the most up to date material. Check the hundreds of book reviews and articles on the site.


I hope you have a wonderful time the rest of what is left of this beautiful summer. We have high hopes for a beautiful fall and another exciting year. We are glad you are with us. Stay in touch for the latest updates.



Fred Plumer


Fred's Favorite Summer Reads!


I had the opportunity to do some extra reading this summer and I want to recommend three books that I found uniquely helpful and interesting. My guess is that you may not have these on your radar and I would hate to have you miss them because you were not aware of them. Two of these are big picture kinds of books and the other is a more scholarly but still a relatively easy read and simply fascinating.  Read on!

book cover

Religion Under Attack

By: Nigel Leaves   

Leaves is the Canon of St. John's Cathedral, Brisbane, Australia. Bishop Spong believes this is "A brilliant analysis of the issues facing organized religion today." Leaves' book deals with his primary hypothesis: "It is my claim that in the absence of a major theological revolution, traditional religions will continue their further decline into either obscurity or fossilized fundamentalism."


Nigel Leaves covers a lot of territory here in a relatively short book. He is concise and precise in his description of the plight of organized religion under attack from every direction. The best part of the book offers a realistic and unique response to the crisis we find ourselves in today. This book will be helpful and maybe even inspiring for clergy, denominational leaders, people in the pews and even those who have given up.   


We will soon have this book in our store!

book cover

The Trouble with the Resurrection

By: Brandon Scott

A must read! Brandon Scott deals not only with the resurrection issue but after you read the book you will have a much better idea about the formation of early Christianity. One thing becomes clear in this book, all resurrections are not equal. That is true even within the Biblical context. Scott tracks the very different ideas about what was meant by the term resurrection with Paul and as well as the gospel writers. In this book, he helps us get a better feel for the first century use of myth and metaphor and surprisingly, he lays out a whole different way of approaching the concept of the "Christ's resurrection." Brandon Scott is a Fellow of the Jesus Seminar and a scholar and he does not forget that in this book. But he is first and foremost a teacher. He loves it when you get "it." That is why this book will work for anyone interested in the subject. It is readable and informative.  


We will soon have this book in our store!

book cover

Hungers of the Heart

By: Richard Watts


Surely, too few people are aware of this book. Richard Watts is not a well known scholar. In fact I don't think he would consider himself a scholar at all. Like many people in his situation who have something to say, he is self-published with no marketing budget to sell his book. I must confess, I have had the book on my shelf for nearly a year. A couple of months ago I pulled it out of the book pile I label, "I will read it, when I get a chance" and of course, it seems I never got a chance. One day when I was on my way to a speaking engagement, I threw the book into my brief case as an afterthought. And just before the plane landed I pulled it out and started reading. I thought I would check it out and that would be it. However, I read it on the rest of the plane trip, in the taxi, that night into the wee hours in my hotel room and finished the concise book, the next night. I have read the book twice now and realized at some point that we never ran a serious review of the book. I am sorry for that.


This book is a big picture treatise. Watts is not concerned with nuance of a biblical text or whether Jesus was God, the messiah or was married, for that matter. But he is concerned with much larger issues and I assure you that once you start reading you will not want to put the book down. He wants you to look both outward and inward deeper than we usually go and let the silly arguments about religion dissolve. In the first chapter, his imaginational tour of the cosmos, in just two paragraphs, is worth the price of the book. He would like to see you become more comfortable in the cosmos, the title of that chapter. In fact he considers the desire to be comfortable in the cosmos as one of our natural hungers. My experience in reading this book was almost like a magical mystery tour, without drugs.


His second chapter deals with a natural hunger to be a real person, or authentic person. "Are you comfortable with yourself," he asks. He also challenges us to recover awe as part of our daily lives. Don't confuse this book with a pop psych or self help book. This is about creating an authentic spirituality for the twenty first century, "rooted in reason and contemporary knowledge." If that is of any interest to you, then I suspect you are going to have the same positive reaction to this book as I did. I hope you take advantage of that. 


At the end of the book there are discussion questions for each chapter. This book would be wonderful for small group discussions. I suspect the participants in such a group would discover the foundations for a new spirituality and might find themselves a lot closer to each other in the process.  

We will soon have this book in our store!

Thank you so much for joining us on this journey! Please keep in touch as new and bright things are just around the corner that we know will enable us to offer you even more resources, support, global networking, and community. We sure could use your help on our curriculum project, so please send us your feedback, visit our Inner Wisdom Series Facebook page, and donate today.  




Fred Plumer

and the team at 

253 303-0352