Testing the Waters III

For my third and final book concept, I have outlined a devotional for the unemployed, particularly the young and unemployed.  More generally, this book would address the question, ‘How do we hope for the future when living in a dark and disappointing present?’

Below is a tentative introduction, which explains the project in greater detail.

How does this idea compare to concept 1 (the allegorical novel) and concept 2 (the popular theology of the imagination)? Which book do you think I should write this summer? Which one is your favorite?

I would love to hear your thoughts!

While We Wait

Hope For A Generation Unemployed

Introduction

This is a book written in the midst of weakness.  I have no great story of success, at least not of the kind that we are used to hearing about.  My only true credential for writing on such a weighty topic as hope is that I strove to reject the ever present temptation to despair in the face of unemployment, rejection, and uncertainly.

Perhaps we often expect too much of hopeful thoughts and sentiments, or more accurately, we misunderstand them.  We hold onto someone else’s success because we desire that our lives will soon follow in their path.  In essence, we chase after hope because we are trying to escape from the reality of our present sufferings by willing them to end as soon as possible.  Yet hope filled messages are not meant to act as glib prescriptions slapped onto our circumstances after some great deliverance has come.  Rather, the province of hope is the place of unfulfilled desires, broken dreams, and anxious nights.

My own quest for employment was filled with its share of highs and lows; moments of laughter and months of tears.  Some days I awoke with great enthusiasm and faith in the future and other days it was a true accomplishment to simply find my way out of my bed and into a pair of jeans.  Through the changing of the seasons I have felt the cold fears of winter, the optimism of spring, the exhaustion of summer, and the pensive reflections of fall.  The ideas found in this book are simply the lessons, stories, and prayers of my heart from the journey I have taken.  In my writings I have tried to understand and share what it means to walk with Christ through the valley of unemployment, and more generally, in times of darkness and confusion.

I once heard hope defined as the posture of life that always rejoices in the future which lies in the hands of God.  There is great depth to this definition and, as I am no expert, I fear that my own fragmented exploration merely scratches the surface of why and how we can find joy in all things.  But I know for certain that it begins and ends with the truth of God, the great I Am.  I cannot think of hope without first thinking of God for without Him there is no joy, no goodness, no love, no purpose, and no future.

If you do not know Him, then I pray that these words might help you to understand a fraction of who He is and how much He loves you as His creation.  I can promise you that He is there, waiting for you to reach out to Him in the midst of your disappointments and pain.  For those of you who, like me, knew the one true God before your struggle, may these words strengthen your faith and by the power of the spirit lead you closer to his heart.

Waiting is uncomfortable, but it is not impossible.  So while we wait, let us do so with hope; rejoicing today for the blessings of tomorrow.

Testing the Waters II

For my second book concept I am contemplating authoring a work to outline a popular theology of the imagination.  The draft of an opening segment is below for your feedback and thoughts. 

Would a book like this be helpful for you?  Would you read it?  Which do you prefer, this idea or my first concept of an allegorical novel?

The Creative Witness

Reclaiming the Christian Imagination for Every Day Life

Part 1: The Vision of a Baptized Imagination

ImageWho cannot help but remember with fondness those days as a child when we were so easily amazed by the ordinary and saw the mysterious as commonplace.  It is to this whimsical world of a child’s imagination, one of fairy tales and dreams, that we long to return – when we are brave enough to admit it.  The beautiful truth of redemption is that the fulfillment of this longing is not beyond our reach.  In fact, for those of us seeking to follow in the way of Christ, our imaginations have already been as much redeemed as every other piece of our body, mind, and spirit and lie ripe for cultivation and harvests of bountiful fruit.

Flowing forth from our redeemed imagination comes the ability to envision the intangible and distant elements of faith that are otherwise lost in the mundane and stressful distractions of our daily routines.  Once awakened by the work of the spirit, our imaginations can guide us towards the perfection of holiness and help us to overcome the inevitable seasons of doubt and despair that we all face in this life.

There is an unfortunate misnomer in our culture that the imagination is the currency only for a creative elite; those who are deemed by connoisseurs and critics as the artistically gifted.  It evident that some among us have been specially called to make artistic works of superior form and beauty.  These creations, skillfully crafted by our anointed brothers and sisters, ought to play a central and vital role in the work of the Church.  But what I want you to hear me say to you, above all else in this book, is that each one of us has been given the faculty of the imagination as a blessing from our Creator to enable us to more fully see Him, to learn from Him, to glorify Him, and to love and adore Him all the days of our lives.

The calling of the Christian imagination is one that we must reclaim for the entire body of Christ. This is not a matter of having an eye for aesthetics, the voice of an angel, or the pen of a poet.  This is a matter of being fully equipped to taste and see that our Lord is good.  Once the Christian imagination is rekindled within each of us, the church as a united whole shall stand stronger and brighter as that prophetic city on a hill; seeking day by day to dwell in the light of truth and beckon lovingly, yet boldly, to the surrounding world.  The unfolding pages, chapters and parts shall endeavor to cast a vision for what our imagination is meant to be, discuss the barriers that we all encounter which hinder its proper use, and ultimately suggest a way for each us to reclaim the Christian imagination for every day life.

Testing the Waters

I am in the midst of deciding which of my book concepts to take up for the rest of the summer.  The following is a tentative beginning and mock up for one of my options: a fictional, semi-autobiographic, novel told with tinges of allegory.

Would you want to read more? Let me know!

Purifying Grace: The Making of A Woman

For my beloved down here, whose love
Draws me ever closer to my Beloved up there

Part 1: Beginnings

“I was born in the way of truth: though my childhood was unaware of the greatness of the benefit, I knew it when trial came.”

~ St. Ephrem the Syrian

Chapter 1: At Birth, A Name

SHE was born precisely at the stroke of three on a warmer than average autumnal morning.  Nothing about time would ever be precise for her again.

There is a quality about birth that will always remain a great mystery for us humans; even for the mothers who have been through labor, or the fathers who stood present and in awe, or the doctors who have aided in hundreds or thousands of deliveries.  No matter how many births we witness, or how many children a woman may carry to term, we will never be able to remember our own entrance into this world.  It is the fundamental event of our earthen bound lives and yet we can only learn of it through legend.  How strange a fate to know of our beginnings merely second hand.

She was no different than your average little newborn of medium length and less than memorable weight.  Overcome by her timely entrance and subsequent wails she was quite ready for a nap. Her parents, tired themselves from a long night of labor, were quite predictably also ready for some rest – yet their joy at the arrival of a person much hoped for and long waited upon compelled them to stay awake for the time being.  As they clung together in that moment the early threads of a family were woven; threads that would one day form a beauteous tapestry worthy of hanging in the grandest of halls.

So engrossed were her parents in the birth of their little family that they hardly heard the doctor enter their plain little room to inquire, “Well now, what is her name?”

What a heavy laden question!  The burden to name another rests all too easily upon the apathetic shoulders of our thoughtless generation.

There was – for a brief moment – uncertainty in the air.  In those days the methods of determining gender were not as advanced and these parents had been prepared to have a little boy.

They had no name to give.

At long last, after gazing at the little miracle she held in her arms, the girl’s mother smiled and said, “Pure.  We will call her Pure.”

Her father nodded and then added, “Her middle name should be Grace, after some of our bravest ancestors long since gone.”

Looking lovingly into each others’ eyes as only newly crowned parents can, they knew that they had found their daughter’s preordained name.

And so it was that the journey of Pure Grace in this strange place called earth ever so simply began.

This piece is cross-posted at my Tumblr blog.