Archives For January 2013

A couple weeks ago I announced via Twitter and Facebook that I’m editing a book of essays about fatherhood. Here’s a little more information about the project.

The book is the fifth in a series called “I Speak for Myself.” The first book, published in 2011, contained 40 essays from 40 American women under 40 writing about what it means to be Muslim. It was co-edited by a good friend of mine from college, Maria Ebrahimji. Shortly before the release of the book, she and I talked on the phone and she expressed how it was her hope to take the book’s format, 40 contributors under 40, and expand it to other faith traditions.

This summer, the first I Speak for Myself book on Christianity will be released. Titled Talking Taboo, it features 40 essays from 40 American Christian women. It is being co-edited by Erin Lane and Enuma Okoro and has some great contributors. Among them are Julie Clawson, Micha Boyett, Amy Julia Becker, Sarah Thebarge, and others. Last fall, I was contacted again by my friend, who asked if I would help brainstorm some names for co-editors for a book of essays by American Christian men under 40. I sent her a list of names and figured I’d given her all the help I could give.

I was only partially right. A couple of week later, Maria and I spoke on the phone again and she asked if I would consider being one of the co-editors. I was shocked. I mean, I don’t have any “platform,” I don’t have a previous bestseller that will compel people to buy this book, and I don’t pastor some big church with thousands of congregants. I’m not that big of a deal, really. What I do have, Maria insisted, is the ability to pull together a broad number of perspectives around a central topic. And she’s right. Networking has long been a strength of mine and making sure that a wide and diverse group of people speak into a conversation is quite important to me. So, I agreed to edit the book and to find a co-editor with a bit more platform than I.

The next decision was to propose a topic for the essayists to explore. After batting around a couple different ideas, I settled on “fatherhood.” The subject is one with which people from all different faiths can relate: every man is a son, some men are fathers. I think it will be intriguing to see what role one’s Christian faith plays into understanding oneself as a father or a son, or the relationship between father and son. Maria and her business partner, Zahra, agreed. So, off I went on the search for a co-editor.

It is early still, but the book is starting to shape up nicely. I’m excited about the stories that are emerging. There’s a guy who is going to write about losing a child, and another about losing his wife and now raising daughters as a widower. I have a stay-at-home dad who’s going to pen something fantastic, and a dad writing about the anxiety of parenting a pre-teen girl. There’s a new dad writing about his first child and a man writing about being unable to have kids at all. There are more stories waiting in the wings, I’m sure.

Some of the contributors you will have heard of, like Jason Boyett, Andrew Marin, Shane Blackshear, and A.J. Swoboda. Other names will be new to you. All the stories will be worth telling (and I promise not all the contributors are white!). I’m humbled and excited to be part of such a great project. I can’t wait to see how it shapes up. I’ll keep you updated, friend.

With my dissertation submitted and currently undergoing evaluation, I have some margin in my life to start working through the stack of “books I really want to read one day” that has accumulated over the past several years. On the top of that pile sits James McClendon’s three-volume systematic theology: EthicsDoctrine, and Witness. Yeah, that’s right… my first foray back into leisure reading is not to head for a novel but to dive right into a set of books on theology. I’m such a nerd. Deal with it.

I’ve been wanting to read McClendon because I resonate with his story and (what little I know of) his theology. McClendon was a Baptist from the South (like me) who found himself wandering away from that theological sphere and towards the theology of the Radical Reformers, those who are also often called “anabaptists” (also like me). McClendon would later come to call himself a “small-‘b’ baptist,” instead of an anabaptist, a term which was originally used in a derogatory sense. Last year I was having a conversation with a guy who studied under McClendon. We were talking about theology and my hopes for the future of the church. He said, “You know, you remind me of a young Jim McClendon.” I thought that was a curious statement, obviously meant as a compliment, and that it would behoove me to read the man’s work.  Continue Reading…

mennonite dove

How would you define “true faith” as it relates to discipleship and christian living? I’ve been reading through Confession of Faith in Mennonite Perspective on my lunch hour for the past few weeks. Today, I came across this bit in Article 17:

Conformity to Christ necessarily implies nonconformity to the world. 1 True faith in Christ means willingness to do the will of God, rather than willful pursuit of individual happiness. 2 True faith means seeking first the reign of God in simplicity, rather than pursuing materialism. 3 True faith means acting in peace and justice, rather than with violence or military means. 4 True faith means giving first loyalty to God’s kingdom, rather than to any nation-state or ethnic group that claims our allegiance. 5  True faith means honest affirmation of the truth, rather than reliance on oaths to guarantee our truth telling. 6 True faith means chastity and loving faithfulness to marriage vows, rather than the distortion of sexual relationships, contrary to God’s intention. 7 True faith means treating our bodies as God’s temples, rather than allowing addictive behaviors to take hold. True faith means performing deeds of compassion and reconciliation, in holiness of life, instead of letting sin rule over us. 8 Our faithfulness to Christ is lived out in the loving life and witness of the church community, which is to be a separated people, holy to God.   Continue Reading…