A few weeks ago I saw the cover of an upcoming book by Kayleigh McEnany, the former White House press secretary, called For Such a Time as This. Her book supposedly tells the story of her faith journey during her time in the White House. That normally wouldn't catch my interest, but this was an exception.
What caught my interest was the fact that in 2019, Chalice Press published a book by that same title. For Such a Time as This: Hope and Forgiveness after the Charleston Massacre is Rev. Sharon Risher’s memoir that shares her lifelong love for her mother and the horror of her mother’s murder at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, at the hands of a white supremacist. Her mother’s death transformed a hospital chaplain into a nationally known speaker and activist.
This does raise the question: If you title a book, isn’t it copyrighted? We should sue Post Hill Press, McEnany’s publisher and an imprint of publishing giant Simon and Schuster, right?
As much as I’d love to, our case wouldn’t make it very far. Book titles, song titles, and other kinds of labels that generically identify a specific product cannot be copyrighted. There’s no telling where McEnany’s title came from, but I know our title is derived from Esther 4:13-14, when Esther realizes God is calling her to save the Jewish people from genocide. Mordecai cautions the queen:
“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
Sharon Risher had a similar realization, that following her mother’s murder, she was called to speak against gun violence, to attempt to save innocent Americans. Our choice of the title recognized the prophetic calling to save people.
When we selected the name for Sharon’s book, there were already other books, songs, and other media named For Such a Time as This. As we title a book, we explore what those other book are. Odds are, at some point Post Hill did their due diligence, likely saw Sharon’s book, and decided to stick with their title. That’s their prerogative. There’s nothing we can do about that.
What we can do, though, is draw the distinction between the two. Though the book is not available to read yet, I can surmise its narrative based on its author, and I’ll pass. Sharon Risher’s book tells a story of love, loss, pain, anger, and activism to save lives. McEnany’s book will attempt to defend the indefensible. Sharon’s book attempts to end the bullet bloodshed in our country, to make our country a more peaceful, safer place.
I know which one I’d rather have Chalice Press publish.
Brad Lyons is president and publisher of Chalice Press. His opinions are his own.