Monday, August 31, 2020

Frequently Asked Questions about The Doctor and the Apostle

Now that The Doctor and the Apostle: Intersections Between Doctor Who and the Letters of Paul has been released into the world, here are answers to some of the most common questions that I anticipate about it.

I'm not a fan of this show. Why would I want to read this? At various points in its 50+ year history, Doctor Who has told stories that touch on a wide range of themes and topics such as hope, redemption, faith vs. science, prejudice, faith, equality, love, ethics, perseverance, war, and community, among so many others. These are all themes that the Christian faith and a life of discipleship will encounter. The show sometimes explores them in outsized or parabolic ways, and those pursuing a life of faith will find easy access points through the show to talk about them. This book identifies a few of those access points.

I'm a fan of the show but but I'm not a Christian. Why would I want to read this? As with Wonder and Whiskey, I tried to avoid the typical flaw that I see in many "Gospel According to..." books where the source material is used as a kind of "proof text" for what the author wants to say. I let the themes of the show dictate what I wrote about and how I wrote it, rather than trying to shoehorn it into something. 

The result is that the show and the Biblical texts that I use don't always line up perfectly. And for the show's part, it offers some valid critiques of how many Christians view the world that are worth listening to. Even though I write about the show from a Christian perspective, one may also be able to take away some thoughts on the themes mentioned in the previous answer.

Why focus on Paul? Why not something more general? When I began conceptualizing how I'd want to approach this book, I began identifying similarities between the Doctor and Paul specifically. Both are flawed, both learn from mistakes, both are travelers, both deal with bureaucracy, both defy gender norms in each their own ways, and so on. These similarities intrigued me enough to want to delve into them further. 

Paul is also a fairly polarizing figure in Christianity. On the one hand, entire theological systems have been constructed based on his letters. On the other hand, his words have been used to do great harm. I have a little of the latter in my own history, so in part this was a reclamation project for myself, and it also could be for others. 

The book certainly doesn't solve all (or maybe any) of the problems that people have with Paul, but maybe provides some new access points for him as it does with the show.

The book only covers a few of Paul's letters. Why is that? Scholars have long debated whether every letter in the New Testament attributed to Paul really came from his hand. Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon are universally recognized as authentic to him, while the others fall along varying lines of dispute because they are dated later in the 1st Century and their language and thought diverge from the seven I mention. Since I wanted to focus on the "real Paul," I limited my exploration to the letters that are thought most genuinely to come from him. Here's a short article by John Dominic Crossan that explains it a little further.

Where else can I keep up with book and author news besides this blog? I'm on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I also have an author newsletter, a new edition of which is sent near the end of every month.

Any plans for a release event? I'm doing a reading on Facebook Live on September 13th. I hope you'll join me. Look for the event on my page.

Hey, haven't you written some other books, too? Why yes, I have! Collect them all!