Nonfiction

Author’s Comments: At this point, most of my nonfiction writings have been published in academic journals. Many of them are cases about fascinating companies I’ve studied, and I’ve included two of those here. Eventually, I’d like to gather those writings into a collection, but that will have to wait. So far, I’ve only published one nonfiction title as a book. I have plans to write other nonfiction books on subjects like personality and life strategy, but haven’t gotten around to them yet.  The nonfiction book I’ve listed below is a book on the challenges of reconciling one’s views on theology and science. It was inspired by conversations I’ve had with college students (one group in particular) and colleagues and by my seminary studies. 

Case Study: MOONBOT STUDIOS: A LUNAR ADVENTURE IN LOUISIANA

Written by: Timothy D. Wise

Case Summary:

In 2010, William “Bill” Joyce, an award winning children’s book author/illustrator from Shreveport, Louisiana, decided to form his own studio to produce animated films, internet apps, storybooks, and comics. Funded by investors and supported by the State of Louisiana’s initiative to bring creativity-based industries to the state, Joyce began assembling a team of artists, animators, and entertainment industry administrators to launch the venture. The process was chaotic at first, but the studio had soon moved into its own specially designed space, purchased the needed equipment, and hired around 30 employees. The first two projects, produced in tandem, were an animated short and an iPod app, both based on a story called The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. Both projects launched in May 2011 and by early July, partly in response to an article in a prominent magazine, both had climbed to the top of the iTunes charts. Both projects garnered a variety of awards and, in March 2012, the animated short made national news by receiving an Oscar. This case tells of the studio’s development, studying the evolution of its structure, processes, and culture from the perspectives of organization design and behavior and considering future directions for the studio. How can it continue to grow without losing the chemistry that produced its early success? What problems, based on organization research, is it likely to encounter?

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Author’s Comments: There are also a number of videos about this small, innovative studio on YouTube, including their Oscar-Winning animated short, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. Sadly, this company is undergoing some changes and has left Shreveport. I wish them well wherever they end up. 

Case Study: BIG IDEA: WHY DID THE IDEA FAIL?

Written by: Timothy D. Wise

Case Summary:

VeggieTales, a computer-animated video series designed to teach religious values to children, was the most successful direct-to-video series in history but, due to a series of misfortunes and miscalculations, Big Idea Entertainment went bankrupt and was ultimately purchased by another firm. Told through the eyes of company founder Phil Vischer, the case tells the story of the firm’s founding and early successes and the difficulties the company encountered in its attempt to enter the mainstream market and compete in an industry dominated by media giants like Disney and Dreamworks.

The case illustrates the problems encountered by successful small business owners as they attempt to grow their firms into large businesses. Changes in corporate structure and governance, the need for different managerial skills, and rising personnel and facilities costs all serve to make this transition difficult or even treacherous. This case is ideal for use in entrepreneurship, and organization theory courses. Students are challenged to analyze and summarize the decisions and events that plunged a commercially-successful business with a popular product into bankruptcy. In addition, the case illustrates some of the managerial challenges faced by businesses that produce religious materials but hire employees from a variety of faith backgrounds.

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Author’s Note: I first learned about Big Idea and the VeggieTales animations when one of my college friends was working at Word Music in Nashville. Though the videos were meant to be watched by children, my friend and his wife enjoyed the quirky humor in the videos. Several years later, I read that the company had gone bankrupt and wondered what had happened.  Founder Phil Fischer told his story in his book Me, Myself, and Bob. Because of my own interest in computer-generated animation, Christian media, and interesting businesses in general, I wrote a case study of the business. I’ve since talked to some of the guys from Big Idea at conferences. Since the time I wrote this case, Big Idea and the VeggieTales have changed hands several times. The company is now owned by DreamWorks.

GENESIS AND THE THOUGHTFUL CHRISTIAN

genesis-cover2

Author: Timothy D. Wise

Some Christians dismiss all of mainstream science as a diabolical conspiracy, and some mainstream scientists dismiss the Bible as a collection of outdated stories and superstitions left over from a more primitive age. There is, however, a third group that, in spite of the challenges, finds it more satisfying to live in that tension-filled zone between the timeless truths of the Bible and the constantly-shifting landscape of scientific discovery and has the audacity to believe they can find God in both. The book of Genesis is particularly (perhaps uniquely) challenging to those who live in this zone because of the subjects it covers and the way it covers them. Petroleum engineers and geologists encounter fossil fuels every day, and astronomers see images from the distant past every time they look into their telescopes. Christians who work in scientific fields, however, often find little understanding from friends whose views on science and scientists are more often shaped by creationist speakers than by working professionals. In Genesis and the Thoughtful Christian, author Tim Wise invites readers on a trip through time, an exploration of the complex issues scientists and Bible scholars face as they navigate through the often marvelous, sometimes troubling, and always fascinating worlds of faith and scientific discovery.

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Author’s Comments: I sometimes feel spread between worlds. When I was writing this book, I was teaching at a state university during the week, teaching a college Sunday school class at a Baptist church on Sundays, and taking classes at a Baptist seminary during my spare time (such as it was). Those worlds didn’t always stay separate, however. The students in my college Sunday school class were a bright group, (One of them just finished a doctorate in engineering and is starting a company in Silicon Valley.) and they didn’t always toe the Christian/evangelical party line without ever asking questions. I appreciated the fact that they trusted me enough to ask honest questions, but sometimes they challenged me.  I’d been interested in Christian apologetics (the discipline that addresses intellectual challenges to the faith) since high school, and their questions led me to renew that interest. They had graduated by the time I finished the book, but I still dedicated it to them. 

I admit that many of the problems I struggled with in writing this book were particularly hard to deal with because Christians are so internally divided over them. Several times I considered not writing the book at all, but because of students like the ones I my old Sunday school class, I felt compelled to continue. Even if I couldn’t solve all of the problems, I wanted them to know there were theologians who had seriously grappled with the issues instead of simply dismissing them. Though no one person could address so many questions from so many disciplines, I’ve attempted to put together a short handbook that would summarize the issues and lay the groundwork for further exploration. I hope it will be helpful.