Thursday, September 07, 2017

If You Can't Trust A Pastor

Abingdon Press expects their authors will not tell a lie when asked if the content being submitted is all original.

When the author being queried is a man of the cloth, well, you'd have to take him at his word. He knows all about that whole 'false witness' business that appears so prominently in the Bible. And it wasn't just the minister's word, but the signed contract that included a clause about original content.

They don't want to deal with plagiarism at Abingdon Press.

So much for trusting a pastor.
Thou shalt not bear false witness, or something like that

Rev. Bill Shillady was, and may still be, pastor to a flock that includes Hillary Rodham Clinton. He tended to her spiritual needs while she was running for office, a time of great stress and many moments of doubt. It was the garden at Gethsemane, you'd imagine, what with the personal attacks on top of a determination to reach the top of the political heap. Who wouldn't welcome some wise words from God?

After the election, the reverend compiled all those wise words he had sent along to Mrs. Clinton over the course of her campaign, turning it into a book of daily devotions. He sold the work to Abingdon Press, which handed over the usual boilerplate contract that included that pesky clause about original material.

Books relating to current events have a very brief moment to shine, and Rev. Shillady pushed his work through to meet that glowing opportunity. He could have done with a few more weeks, to review a few more times what was his original material and what was being quoted from other sources who should have been credited, but were not.

As it turns out, there were quite a few passages that Rev. Shillady had not composed all by himself. In a work of non-fiction, that's not a bad thing, but it's up to the author to acknowledge the source of the non-original pieces.

The first instance was discovered and corrected, with the author of the snippet granting Abingdon Press the right to use his words.

One slip does not a pulping make, but it turns out that more than one deep thought and prayer was lifted from other sources.

Rev. Shillady told Abingdon Press that STRONG FOR A MOMENT LIKE THIS met their requirements, but the book did not. The press is on the hook for the cost of publishing, printing, and then pulping every copy. They pulled the book from shelves and there does not seem to be much interest in re-issuing a corrected version.

The shining moment has passed. Mrs. Clinton is about to go off on a book tour to promote her own version of events during the failed campaign, and there won't be any interest in the devotionals that guided her along the way once she starts pointing fingers of blame.

The publisher trusted the pastor and he let them down. In order to save money on editing, the publisher relied on the author to check and verify. An expensive lesson, to be sure, but isn't all publicity good publicity? Who ever heard of Abingdon Press before this, and how many potential book buyers will take a look at the website to see if there's anything else that might be of interest to buyers in search of religious themes?

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