My Dad, My Book, and the 2008 San Diego Book Awards

My book, “I’m OK–You’re Not: The Message We’re Sending Nonbelievers, and Why We Should Stop.”, is one of three finalists for a 2008 San Diego Book Award, in the category of Spirituality. (My book “Penguins, Pain and the Whole Shebang” won that award in 2006.)

If, on the evening of Saturday, May 17, I attend the SDBA awards ceremony/ schmooze-fest, my 80-year-old father will be with me. To me, this is like saying I’ll be accompanied by Popeye, or that on that night I’ll sprout wings and fly to the affair. It’s that unimaginable. As it happens, my father will be visting me that weekend. My father hasn’t stayed overnight in any town I’ve lived in since I moved out of our family home when I was 16 years old, which was 34 years ago. From then until I was 45, I don’t think I saw him five times. I grew from a teenager to a middle-aged man without him.

I became a Christian when I was thirty-eight. Then I wanted to be closer to him: Honor your father, and all like that. So I started writing to him. One day he wrote me back. Then I called him. Then I called him again. Then he invited my wife and me to come to his home for a week and visit with him and his wife, my stepmother. So we did. The following year, he invited us out again, and of course we went again. A lovely time, both times, was had by all.

In February of this year, my dad’s wife of 40 years, my stepmother from way back when, succumbed to cancer, and passed away. (I wrote a little about that here.) Since that sadness, my father and I have grown considerably closer; I would say we have become good friends. My wife and I would like him to come live with or near us. It’s for the purpose of exploring that possibility that he’s coming out to stay with us the weekend of the San Diego Book Awards.

My dad — who is straight from the 1950′s school of Responsible Living — thinks it’s Beyond Bizzare that I’m a writer. To him it’s like I make a living making balloon animals, or … I don’t know … stacking rocks. (Wait. Writing is a lot like those two things….) He doesn’t understand how I can possibly make a living doing something so nebulous and … weird, basically.

And, of course, all I ever wanted my whole life was for the guy to take me seriously. Same as all sons want from their fathers.

I don’t know if my father’s going to be in the mood to go the San Diego Book Awards. I don’t know if I will be. But we’ll probably go. And if we do go, and I do win, I could see, once I’m back in my seat with him, having to take more time than I really should to stop smiling.

 

The follow-up to this post — what DID happen the night of the SDBA – is Connecting Flights.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://www.sheppardministries.com Greta

    First of all, CONGRATULATIONS on the Book Award!!! I am not surprised one little bit. You deserve it. "I'm O.K." is how I came to know about you. I couldn't lay the book down once I started reading it.

    Now again tonight, I could hardly contain myself as I read this blog about your father . . . because I have just returned from the Yukon where I addressed an inter-church conference and the Theme was Generations. We honored 28 elders from nearby Reservations. So beautiful! I taught two sessions on Father's Blessing their sons; ie: like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the Old Testament Patriarchs did in the book of Genesis. I'm quite inclined to believe it's the missing ingredient in family life today. It's a rite of passage when father places his hands on his son and speaks into his life. As I read your blog, I thought to myself: " Hey, John, reverse the process and speak a blessing on your father, in the same special way that you express yourself in other things every day. Be natural. Remember, it is not prayer mode…. rather it is eye to eye, hand on the shoulder and honest words spoken from the heart. Be modern about it…. Read up on Isaac blessing Esau and Jacob in Genesis 27 (I think) and then Jacob later in 47 blesses his 12 sons and his two grandsons…

    Spoken blessings are powerful, fitting words, affirming, encouraging, giving fresh sense of direction to one's life. Your father needs a son's blessing at this stage of his life…in spite of past failure and family distance. It is absolutley beautiful how you have been reunited and it is no accident that he is in San Diego to witness this pivitol achievement in your life!

    Furthermore, I too am proud to know you, John Shore!!I I bless you in Jesus Name with a writing career that'll blow your socks off! I said it before and I'll say it again…"You are a breath of fresh air to this and future generations."

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Winey: That's interesting that you're so close to your parents. That seems like a good thing. I really have no idea–well, I have SOME idea now that my relationship with my dad has pretty wholly normalized, but basically I can't imagine what it's like to have that kind of relationship with your parents. I just … have no emotional experience with that. But it sounds lovely.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    Pretty freakin’ cool John Shore.

    I’m calling my dad. Bye.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Thanks to you both. I very much appreciate these kind and supportive (is that spelled right? it looks weird …. but I just woke up) words. It’s just so nice of you guys to leave such … well, kind and supportive thoughts. And thanks, Greta, for the reference to the Issac and Jacob blessing. For another book I just finished, I did, in fact, spend a fair amount of time going over those two very episodes, and I appreciate you bringing them to mind relative to my father and me. Nice! See, THIS is why you make the big bucks as a minister.

  • http://samwrites2.wordpress.com samwrites2

    John,

    I'd like to add my congratulations on the nomination and apparently mended relationship with your father.

    If it were in my power I'd have already presented you the award – and I haven't even read the book yet.

    The other books, especially "Penguins," your ongoing excellence in blog writing and persistent punctuation policing deserve to garner you yet more fame and fortune!

    -Sam

  • http://samwrites2.wordpress.com samwrites2

    John,

    Oh, and Amazon.com says re: "I'm Ok" that "Only 4 left in stock! Order soon!"

    -Sam

  • Janelle

    I have been enjoying your blog for the last few months. Congratulations on the nomination.

    My oldest son turns 13 this month, and my husband and I have been discussing the idea of "blessing" him as he symbolically transitions out of childhood. I think it will be very cool. My husband will take the main role– the man-to-man thing, you know. But I'm going to squeeze in a little mommy-blessing, too.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    I talked with my dad. He is well. It is always good to hear his voice. Thanks.

    You might enjoy a recent post about my brother and our restored relationship with our dad.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Sam: Thanks so much! Very kind.

    Janelle: Thanks for writing, and for encouraging words. What a cool idea about doing that for you son! Can you let me know what you decide to do with that whole thing–how you orchestrate/structure that event/blessing, if you decide to do it? I think people would be really interested in that. I am. Thanks. Way to be … awesome parents!

  • http://www.grace-gracetoday.blogspot.com Grace

    A very hearty dose of "Good on ye' mate!" Hope you take home the award. What is the trophy? Is it like an Emmy? Might it resemble a yacht? Oh, the possibilities as it's from San Diego….

    Congrats.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Nah, it's just a little … thingy. Once I FINALLY upgrade my cell phone to one with a camera, I'll use it for EXACTLY this sort of thing–but, until then, all I can tell you is the SDBA trophy-thing is just a little … trophy-thing. With a base. And a piece of, like, faux-glass coming out of it, on which is sketched your name and the title of your book and all that. They're nice. Of course, that was them two years ago. For all I know, this year they're giving out oranges.

    But, you're right. It IS San Diego. So maybe they'll give out little bongs with the names of the books scribbled on them with a Sharpie.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    Its publisher actually YANKED it from the shelves once they actally read it (!!??) and decided that it wasn’t, after all, in keeping with their traditional, conservative Christian values.

    I must have read it before the publisher! Sad. No doubt this is why Bob Dylan did not sign with a Christian label.

    For what its worth John, I loved I'm Ok and I will be pulling for you May 17th.

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    My friend over at http://wallbuilder.wordpress.com did a very cool manhood rite/celebration/blessing for his son when he turned 13…I know he has written at least one post about it so you might check him out for some ideas!

    [Note here from John: That link simply leads to the front page of this blog--rather than to any particular post about a manhood-ritual thing. So, as Winey says, I suppose to find that you'll have to poke around the blogsite until you find the post or posts that deal with that particular subject.]

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Thanks, Ric. I really appreciate that. I won't even begin to bore you with the whole story, but basically the publisher, after "reevaluating" the book, said they were going to destroy all the remaining copies of the book they had. They offered me a chance to buy all the remaining stock, and said they'd destroy the rest. But then–against every last possible odd–the book began to sell just enough copies to stay the publisher's hand. So then they didn't destroy their copies, but instead continued to fulfill orders–which I believe they will keep doing until the first run of the book is sold out. Then that'll be the end of it.

  • http://samwrites2.wordpress.com samwrites2

    John,

    Any other publisher interested in publishing rights? Is that possible or is the original publisher intent on making this a collectible?

    This type of stunt has me pulling for your winning that award not only due to my sentiment for you as one of God's gifted and funny writing children but also as a matter of principle.

    Bet you that publisher goes back on their "principles" should there be a sudden spike in sales.

    Grrrr.

    I'm going to Amazon.com right now and ordering one of those last four copies.

    -Sam

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    Congratulations on the nomination! Very cool!

    I am very close to my parents so living so far away from them is very difficult for me sometimes but I think if I hadn’t left the area I was raised in my life would be very different now. I don’t think I would have ever become independent and capable of taking care of myself.

    I am excited for you that your dad is even considering the possibility of moving! That is a huge step!

  • http://www.sheppardministries.com Greta

    Big Bucks . . . .? The only 'big bucks' I've seen lately were male deer grazing in the valley! Those other 'big bucks' (green backs) seem to elude me.

    I just donated 500 of my "Excuse Me, Your Unforgiveness Is Showing" books to counselling clinics to give away at no charge to their clients. I'm either nuts or a giver…..only God knows! All I know is that I get joy in the doing!

    When is the book re Blessings coming out, John! Can hardy wait to read it…….

  • http://www.sheppardministries.com Greta

    Big Bucks . . . .? The only 'big bucks' I've seen lately were male deer grazing in the valley! Those other 'big bucks' (green backs) seem to elude me.

    I just donated 500 of my "Excuse Me, Your Unforgiveness Is Showing" books to counselling clinics to give away at no charge to their clients. I'm either nuts or a giver…..only God knows! All I know is that I get joy in the doing!

    When is the book re Blessings coming out, John! Can hardy wait to read it…….

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    Congrats!

    Remind me to call my dad tomorrow. It is his birthday, after all, and the card is already in the mail.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Thanks, Morse. Yeah, “I’m OK” has had such a bizzare and deeply unfortunate publishing history. It would have had a better chance if, upon finishing the mss., I’d taken it out in the backyard and buried it. Its publisher actually YANKED it from the shelves once they actally read it (!!??) and decided that it wasn’t, after all, in keeping with their traditional, conservative Christian values. So it’d be nice if the thing garnered any kind of positive attention after they basically tossed it into the garbage.

    Call your dad tomorrow! Or not! But if you want to, do!

  • arlywn

    I had a great comment, but the comment thingie ate it… too lazy to remember what I wrote… so. Congrats!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • arlywn

    I had a great comment, but the comment thingie ate it… too lazy to remember what I wrote… so. Congrats!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    Maybe the trophy looks like a Dundy. That would be so dang cool.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dundies

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    Maybe the trophy looks like a Dundy. That would be so dang cool.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dundies

  • http://www.grace-gracetoday.blogspot.com Grace

    Hey John,

    Grace here again. One Christmas I received a lovely gift from Things Treasured, or Timely Memories, or such. The gift-giver actually took a Sharpie and wrote my name on it. So much for the $5.95 cost of having it engraved, eh…

    Surely your phone is due for an upgrade.
    :)

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    A Dundee! I love it. I pretty much watch one episode of The Office a day. Yesterday I revelled in "Take Your Daughter To Work Day." Anyway. Dundees. Too hilarious.

    Grace: That's pretty … cheap of someone, basically. Or … whatever. And yes, my phone DOES need an upgrade. But … how do you decide WHICH of the four zillion options is the right one for you? So I keep putting it off.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    A Dundee! I love it. I pretty much watch one episode of The Office a day. Yesterday I revelled in "Take Your Daughter To Work Day." Anyway. Dundees. Too hilarious.

    Grace: That's pretty … cheap of someone, basically. Or … whatever. And yes, my phone DOES need an upgrade. But … how do you decide WHICH of the four zillion options is the right one for you? So I keep putting it off.

  • http://www.grace-gracetoday.blogspot.com Grace

    Yes, and Whoo-Hoo, Mother’s Day is right upon us! So there may be yet stories anew to share next week! (NO, it was not my husband!) :)

  • http://www.grace-gracetoday.blogspot.com Grace

    Yes, and Whoo-Hoo, Mother’s Day is right upon us! So there may be yet stories anew to share next week! (NO, it was not my husband!) :)

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