Blogging has been light of late. I apologize for that. I have been easily distracted for the last 10 days or so, and more engrossed in job hunting (pray for me!) and actually resting, thanks to our host in Maryland, who has been one of the kindest of the Good Samaritans we have met along this particular road to Jericho. We’ve been amazingly blessed.
First, a report on book sales. According to Wipf & Stock, my publisher, so far I’ve sold 200 copies of The Love That Matters: Meeting Jesus in the Midst of Terror and Death. (According to Amazon’s Author Central website, I’ve moved 156 copies through them — usually one or two a week, sometimes more, and sometimes none, like last week.) This does not count copies given away. I’ve sold (or given away) roughly 100 copies, so we’re about in the 300 neighborhood. Not New York Times bestseller territory, but about average for a non-fiction book these days.
And we’ve just started… 🙂
I’m hoping some of the radio interviews I’m doing in advance of the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon help that. My publicist did yeoman work, but having finished his part of the deal, I blitzed a bunch of Christian radio stations and have booked a few interviews — WIHS in Middletown, Connecticut; Go Mix Radio, a network in eastern North Carolina; Spirit FM, a Catholic network in Nebraska; Lift FM in New Jersey; and with Advantage Radio Ministries’ Second Chances show. There’s also a radio network in New Zealand which has contacted me, but so far we’ve not worked anything out.
And Chaplain Mike over at internetmonk.com has said he is interested in interviewing me in the run-up to 9/11.
So, good things are happening.
First, I’d really like to thank everyone who has read my book. And responded to me. I never imagined writing a book, but this book, it is for the wounded, the abandoned, the unloved, and the unwanted. Over the last few years, I’ve come to see that the purpose to human life — well, at least my life — is to witness to the love of God for the entire world ο κοσμος. And that there is no life so disordered, so chaotic, so lost, so misguided, that God cannot use it to witness to the incredible love that God showed for God’s people (and the world) in calling Abraham, forming Israel, redeeming them from slavery in Egypt, leading them through the wilderness, and delivering them from exile.
This is the love Christ showed for the world in calling disciples to follow, to feed sheep and tend lambs, in drawing the crowds to them, in teaching them, in healing them, in casting out their demons and feeding them. In living with us, suffering at our hands, and dying before our eyes, and rising on the third day.
My life bears witness to all this. I don’t know how well the book says any of this, but it is what I am called to do. And to be.
Along those lines, I keep looking for work. My hope had always been that someone would read the book and go, “he needs to be our pastor!” That hasn’t happened (at least not yet), and I don’t know if it will. My great concern about the book was that this was such a non-standard narrative, an odd story, one that didn’t easily fit into preconceived notions from either liberals or conservatives about what a good story of a redeemed sinner ought to look like, that no one would quite know how to market this book. I appreciate my publicist’s efforts, but I’m not sure he quite knew how to publicize my book. (I’ve only gotten the notice I have tying the book to the Christianity Today piece and the 9/11 anniversary.) I know my publisher believes they’ve done a good thing with this, but they also know this is a book that defies easy categories. A recent acquaintance has called it “literature” and has compared my narrative to Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz. All of my Amazon reviewers have given it five stars.
Speaking Christianity Today, I did write a nice little piece for them, and it has gotten more than 1,000 shares on Facebook (!!!!), so I’m pleased with that. I’m not enamored of the title, but you don’t choose those. I didn’t even choose the title of my own book, but I like it, and it really works.
So, I pray for all of you who read this blog every night, and thank God for you. Please pray for me as well. I still don’t know what will become of me — I’m a bit like Nadia Boltz-Weber without the tattoos and the modicum of institutional support (or, to be blunt, the best-selling book and the worldwide acclaim); had the ELCA felt compelled to find her a call (as opposed to letting her start her own church), she likely would have fared no better than I did in their miserable candidacy process. I hope to find a small congregation out there willing to take a risk on a pastor who wants to preach and teach (and sing!) the gospel, care and tend for them in their joys and sorrows, and yet by simply breathing lives outside just every Christian comfort zone imaginable. I appreciate how difficult that is for a lot of Christians, especially in a time of deep, existential crisis for the American church, when safety, comfort, and ease are desperately sought but nowhere to be found. But it’s also difficult for me, not finding a place to fit, or a people to live out my call among. It may be how I have always lived, but it is no less difficult for me.
I suspect I will have to start my own worshiping community. (Waters of Babylon Missionary Lutheran Church, here we come!!) Which is okay, though it would also mean some kind of work elsewhere. I would rather be tied to a community of support and accountability, and to a bigger tradition than myself, but I think I scare too many church bureaucrats and unsettle too many sheep. And the sheep are what Jesus called us to serve and care for.
However, as a certain incarnate Lord and Savior once said:
And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. (John 10:16 ESV)
There are sheep without a shepherd, people out there, looking for me, waiting for me, hoping and praying for me. To be their pastor. The happy accident that will bring us together has not happened yet.
But my life has been full of happy accidents. Amazing, wonderful, life-giving, accidents. (I’m thinking of y’all, Jennifer, Michaela, and Molly!) I don’t see that changing. Ever.