Years ago, my path crossed with a man named Matt Boswell. Now we’re both not-so-young anymore and we’ve traveled on the path of life and perhaps changed a little bit along the way too. Regardless, it’s always an honor to showcase the words of other writers, so today I’m delighted to introduce you to Matt. His new book, The Way to Love, is just lovely …and necessary in a world that sometimes filled with more hate than love. As always, leave a comment below to win a copy of his book.
Tell us a bit about yourself, will you? I am husband to Joann and father to Clara (6), Renee (4) and Teddy (2). I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for most of my life, save a three-year stint in Berkeley, CA while working on my PhD in Christian Spirituality at the Graduate Theological Union. I am now a Quaker pastor in Camas, WA. I didn’t grow up Quaker but was ultimately drawn to Quakers’ hopeful vision of reality. Quakers believe in working for social change and peacemaking. They have a high view of the goodness of humans, valuing the way God speaks through anyone and seeking justice in the world out of a conviction that every person is sacred and every voice ought to be heard. They believe in countercultural practices—like sitting still in silence together for lengthy periods of time! Many of those who call Camas Friends Church “home” have come after experiencing some sort of deconstructive breaking away from a way of being Christian that is no longer tenable for them. Quaker spirituality and worship, for them, and for me, is a breath of fresh air. It is a spiritual tradition that nurtures my love for others.
Let’s talk about your book: what, in a nutshell, is your book about anyway? The Way to Love is about learning how to love. My book challenges Christians to respond to the call to “love thy neighbor” with greater intentionality and specificity. Christian spirituality, to me, ought to be focused on love-training—cultivating and concretely expressing our human potential to love and be in love-guided relationships with others. My book provides something of a guidebook for how to think about this training and where to begin.
Do tell, what was the inspiration behind it? The Way to Love is a revised, more accessible version of my dissertation from the Graduate Theological Union. I wanted, through my doctoral work, to both transform and unite Christians. To challenge the “only God is good, we’re scum” script and say something more like “we are invited to participate in God’s project of transforming us as individuals and as a human community.” I wanted Christian growth to help people not jump higher in worship or quote more Bible verses but to live more courageously, compassionately, generously, and justly. I also wanted to present a path that hopefully all Christians can agree is worth walking, regardless of their theology or sacred practices.
I also wanted to make the language and tradition of “virtue” more palatable for Christians, particularly American Protestants, who might have some resistance to the word. Virtue is neither about works-righteousness nor self-absorption. We are created to love. And loving makes us happy! The point of virtue is love. Love is also what drives our concern to alleviate social ills and inequities, and our ability to do that well—to see the needs around us and address them competently and compassionately—is better facilitated when we are virtuous. That is, when we have a loving character that leads to loving action in the world.Hope is the energy of this book. Hope is why this book was written at all: because I recognize the shortcomings of the people and structures of my world but see, often faintly, a divine spark, a movement toward goodness, a propulsion toward Love. I want to jump into this hopeful stream and be swept away by its current. I want this for others as well.
How do you hope readers will be changed by your words? I hope that my book provokes contemplation or debate, but not as much as I hope that it equips people to better love others. I believe it would be a good text for a college or seminary religious studies class, particularly one focused on spiritual formation. In this case, I hope it gives those preparing for ministry a useful resource and that it shapes their vision for ministry. Additionally, my church’s ‘book group” is about to begin discussing the book, and I anticipate they will find it engaging and instructive. I hope it helps them discover how they might become a little more courageous, a little more attentive to the needs of others, a little more self-aware, a little more discerning…not to mention all the other virtues that help us live Love.
Lest we forget to ask, how have YOU been changed by writing the book?It has brought clarity to my ministry as a pastor. It has helped me think more systematically about Love in a really helpful way—to ensure my Love does not remain in the realm of good intention but is actually a practiced reality. It has helped me see how important it is to take care of myself. It has become a sort of relentless challenge to me. I tell people how to love! If I’m not myself growing in the depth and efficacy of my own Love, I’m not taking my own advice! It has made me increasingly less interested in theological debate or the nuances of others’ beliefs; my primary concern is learning how to love, like Jesus, and helping others do the same, for my part.
How and where can we find you on the Internet?
Well, there you go, my friends. Leave a comment telling Matt why you’d like to read The Way to Love …and be sure to check out Instagram on Thursday and Friday for more chances to win. Contest ends Friday, November 2nd. Good luck!
*Post contains Amazon Affiliate links.