Of the Writing of Books, There is No End...
As long as I can remember, I have loved to write—to put words together in a way that brings a deeper meaning to the world, that offers new ideas, thoughts, or experiences to the reader. For a long time, I wrote a lot of (bad) fiction. I wrote (bad) poetry in high school and at university. I always did well in academic subjects that required papers and written exams—psychology, literature, history, theology. I like to write (as demonstrated by the fact that I am writing this instead of doing other tasks, like phone calls and laundry!).
Over the last ten years or so, I have come to some conclusions about theology, religion, and spirituality. My life has changed a great deal in those years—I have experienced things I never thought I would, done things I had always thought were for someone else to do. I have read and thought and grown and changed. As a result, I have a vastly different perspective on issues of spirituality and culture than I did when I was, say, 20 or 30. Some of that is maturity and experience; but some of it is due to the specific experiences I have had, and some of it is ideas I might never have encountered if not for the changes in my life. I’m talking about seminary, field experience, the death of my father, of a parishioner, the whole experience of 9/11, of divorce, of coming out, of leaving a denomination I had grown up in and fully expected to die in, of becoming part of another denomination, of new relationships, of moving to a new country, and so on. Because of all this, my theology has changed. The personal creed I had to write as part of my Systematic Theology class in seminary is totally outdated now—there is little I would bring into a creed today from it.
I want to test those ideas, beliefs, concepts—put them out there and see what others have to say about them. As they used to say in advertising, “Run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes.” I trust in the cut-and-thrust of intellectual debate (allowing, of course, for nastiness and jealousy, not to mention ignorance and bias—both ways) to help me refine my ideas. But first I have to get those ideas out there. Thus the first book I want to write is a book of theology, of understanding Christianity without sexism, heterosexism, racism, or any of the other –isms that creep into our beliefs. I want to try to bring back the radical vision of the world and God’s realm that the Gospels show, and that has been overlaid by tradition and the inability to accept the depth of the changes required by the Gospel. Do I sound nuts? Perhaps. But I want to at least try to get this all down into words, on paper. That alone will help me to refine it, and to see whether what sounds reasonable in my head also looks reasonable on paper!
The second book is much less ambitious. Over the years, I have written a variety of prayers for many different occasions—weddings, weekly services, retreats, funerals, civic events, and so on. I want to gather those together, see what I have and how much work would be needed to polish them up, and decide if it’s enough for a reasonable book. If not, perhaps get together with some friends and put theirs in there as well, and see what we come up with. This is much simpler, of course, and perhaps more do-able .I know I can get this outlined and maybe organized during that week away.
Two books, one week. We’ll see what happens!