Saturday, November 18, 2006

Publisher criticizes David Ray Griffin's book "Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11"

Church publishers criticize own book
Author says Bush planned 9/11 terror

By Peter Smith
The Courier-Journal

In an unusual criticism of its own product, the board of the Louisville-based Presbyterian Publishing Corp. says a book fell short of its editing standards with its "spurious" claim that the Bush administration orchestrated the 9/11 terror attacks.

But the publisher will continue selling the controversial book, "Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11," by California theologian David Ray Griffin.

Clearly, this statement by the Presbyterian Publishing Corp's board of directors regarding David Ray Griffin's book "Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11" is mainly the result of pressure from critics rather than any introspection on the board's part.

Presbyterian Publishing Corp "has long been known for publishing specialized books on theology and church life as well as books on religion for the general public" -- but lets face it, these topics are things to be taken on faith -- and are not fact based on research. It wouldn't be in their interest to attack books that they publish, based on fact and legitimate research alone.

Therefore, the Presbyterian Publishing Corp board saying "the conspiracy theory is spurious and based on questionable research" and "whether it meets our publishing standards," are not the real reasons for their statements. The irony is that David Ray Griffin's book "Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11" might actually be one of the more fact-based books that Presbyterian Publishing Corp publishes!

Further, as Griffin noted, Presbyterian Publishing Corp did not specify what they found to be lacking. Griffin said. "This is something I've worked on almost daily for years. I doubt any of the … members of the board have spent nearly the time on it I have. They were really not in the position to make such a statement." The only clear indication of shortcomings was given by Kenneth Godshall, chairman of its board of directors who said in an interview that "Griffin failed to take into account rebuttals of his theories, such as one published by Popular Mechanics." However, Griffin has more than adequately rebutted Popular Mechanics theories elsewhere which is something Godshall has either ignored or is unaware of (as Griffin points out may be the case). So, this reinforces the idea that the board made their statement based on pressure from critics rather than their own convictions based on facts.

So, who are the critics and what are they saying that has pressured the board to single out Griffin's book for such unusual criticism?

From the article above, we learn "One of the book's critics, Alan Wisdom of the Institute on Religion and Democracy in Washington, welcomed the corporation board's statement saying "Let us hope that the (corporation) editors will learn a lesson and refrain from future dalliances with the loony left." This is clearly vehement, intense and very partisan pressure, with its references to the "loony left". If this is what Wisdom expresses in public, one can imagine the private comments made to Godshall. It is not hard to imagine organized and sustained pressure from this group. So, the fact that the board addressed this pressure is not that unusual especially as it may have been annoying or hard to avoid and making the statement is a way to make the noise stop!

There is also another line of criticism from Presbyterian church members who say "the corporation was undercutting the denomination's credibility by publishing conspiracy theories under its name and that of its long-respected imprint, Westminster John Knox." This is a more legitimate line of criticism, if it was made by earnest church members concerned with the Church's reputation and is something the board had to address. Fair enough, earnest people deserve a response - and they got one.

In the end though, the Presbyterian Publishing Corp "will continue selling the controversial book, "Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11." In fact, the Presbyterian Publishing Corp board goes out of its way to note that Griffin is "a distinguished theologian" who has published a number of books with the corporation," and that they "are not recalling the book or renouncing it," but are "just expressing the point of view of whether it meets our publishing standards. I think we'll just let the book find its own way."

I don't know about you, but that tells me that the board may actually have found a way to have their cake and eat it too. They have acted to get the critics off their collective backs but to also allow an important book to have its day in the court of public opinion.


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