Last week I stumbled upon evidence that some of my writing had been plagiarized. And my first reaction was a strange anger. Anger mixed with flattery. Maybe that’s what it was. Pride too.
Plagiarism requires repentance. Just like theft. In the pulpit, more so. It was disheartening listening and reading men doing what I want to do, using my writing without giving me credit. I was mad. And then just got more mad.
And then I read the following from Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead:
“I fell to thinking about the passage in the Institutes where it says the image of the Lord in anyone is much more than reason enough to love him, and that the Lord stands waiting to take our enemies’ sins upon Himself. So it is a rejection of the reality of grace to hold our enemy at fault. Those things can only be true. It seems to me people tend to forget that we are to love our enemies, not to satisfy some standard of righteousness, but because God their Father loves them. I have probably preached on that a hundred times.”
So I’ve decided to pray for them as pastors to fight my own anger and pride. I’m still mad. Give me a week.
” . . . the Lord stands waiting to take our enemies’ sins upon Himself.” Man, I needed to read this part. Hits right square in the middle of where I have been living lately. Time to start praying for some enemies and do battle with my own pride as well. Matt, I hope a week is enough!
Won’t speak to the heart/pride/anger issue, as that quote you’ve provided pretty much says everything/is instructive for all. Regarding the plagiarisim, I’ve heard of a PCA pastor being let go (rightly, IMO…why should we have a lesser moral standard than the world as it relates to intellectual property) for using the work of a certain well known giant in the denomination without citing him…..I don’t think it’s a stretch to want some accountability.
Take two …
Last year I stumbled across a video by one of the biggest preachers in the country that appeared to be based on a writing of mine from 2000. The video got over 80,000 views. When I contacted the ministry about it, I was treated like a bum and informed by their lawyer that their content was “very different” from mine and that their “earliest content” predated mine.
It didn’t take much poking around to find the guy’s earliest content in a 2007 book. The plagiarism was obvious. I wrote to the publisher and they gave me attribution in the next printing. Nobody from The Big Church has had the decency to man up and apologize. It has taken a while for the filthy feeling to go away.
Matt, considering both the quality and the quantity of your writing that can easily be cut and pasted, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a lot of your stuff floating around with other people taking credit for it. In regard to the quote, I don’t see how a man of God who is a fake and a liar can like what he sees when he looks in the mirror. In my opinion, you ought to bring the plagiarism you stumbled across to the attention of the perpetrator. That may be the best thing for him.
Never been to your site. It appears God has gifted you in spirit and word. I’ve felt this sting to which you speak of. I struggle with accepting that what little I have to offer is given by God and doesn’t really belong to me. Offenses like this help us to hold lightly what God has given and trust he will care for us.
A ‘friendly’ letter from a lawyer will often go a long way in unraveling these situations without ever having to go to court. Just a thought….
Had a PCA pastor in Miami where I went to church for years say that anyone was welcome to plagiarize him without consequence from him. He brought this up because he, too, had been plagiarized. “I know plagiarism isn’t right and should be confronted, but I don’t consider anything I say in the pulpit to be copyrighted in any way shape or form because God’s truth belongs to everyone”, he said.