Monday, February 01, 2016

Book Update - Hypothetical Questions Answered

What's been up with the book, man? A few weeks ago, I received all my material back for editing. This process mostly involved eliminating passive voice, which I apparently use quite a bit and now I can see everywhere in everything I read. I've also developed an irritation toward certain other words and phrases that I think I overuse, but that's my own issue.

Anyway. I've finished edits and have returned everything. There'll be a bit more tinkering, proof-reading, and final processing. The next update hopefully will feature a release date and extensive encouragement to pre-order copies for all your friends.

What's the book called? The official title is Coffeehouse Contemplative: Spiritual Direction for the Everyday. It explores how spiritual practice, prayer, and spiritual direction help cultivate an awareness of God in daily life.

Why should anyone care about this topic? Whether one self-identifies as "spiritual," "religious," "spiritual but not religious," or otherwise expresses any interest in or awareness of a divine or transcendent presence, they may wonder how to connect that to the rest of their lives: family, work, leisure, and so on. This book offers reflection and tips on how to pursue a greater synchronization of one's spirituality to those other aspects of daily living.

How specifically does your book do that? By introducing spiritual thinkers such as Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila, Brother Lawrence, Thomas Merton, and Karl Rahner, connecting scripture with human experience, and explaining prayer practices such as meditation and contemplation.

Would a non-theologian want to read this book? I mean, seriously: Rahner? The book's purpose is to get readers to think about how God is present in places and situations like coffeehouses, gatherings with friends, hikes in the woods, and swimming in the ocean. I use plenty of anecdotes and illustrations to explain these concepts. The book contains some serious theology, but for the purpose of helping the reader develop a vocabulary for thinking about and naming their experience. I've tried hard to keep everything accessible.

You mentioned a bunch of Catholic people in an earlier answer. Are non-Catholics going to find this book worthwhile? This book is geared toward non-Catholics, actually. My experience as a lifelong mainline Protestant is that talk about "spirituality" makes us nervous for various reasons: it seems "too Catholic" or "too Jesus and me" or too gooey in definition or too emotion-based or just too outside our comfort zone. I touch on all of these concerns at one point or another. I think we Protestants have left an entire frontier of spiritual tradition and practice unexplored to our own detriment. In part, this is my call for us to change that.

Your subtitle mentions spiritual direction. How much do you discuss that in the book? Quite a bit. In my experience, not many people know what spiritual direction is or how it could aid their journey. I offer a definition and explanation throughout, but the book itself is meant to be an act of spiritual direction. I mainly do this by offering questions for reflection at the end of each chapter for individual and small group use. One of my hopes for the book is that the reader considers finding a spiritual director to continue the conversation.

How else can I keep up with book news besides your blog? You can like my writer page on Facebook and/or follow me on Twitter. I'd really like to keep writing about topics other than the book in this space, so those are the best ways to stay informed about what's going on. Especially the Facebook page. Please like the Facebook page.

Got a release date yet? At this point, we're looking at summer. Depending on how quickly next steps go, that could move up or back. But that's the current projection.

Are you planning any kind of release party? I'm working on that, but I'll let you know. Probably on the Facebook page.