I have just signed a contract for my next book. After wrapping up two books about John the Baptist, it was nice to not feel any need to hurry to figure out what my next big research and writing project will be. I still haven’t decided where I will focus my academic research in the coming years, although I have some ideas. But I have been eager for some time to write more for a general audience, and there was a subject that I’ve long wanted to write about. I started writing, and before I knew it I had a chapter, then another, then another, and then a finished draft of a short book.
So what’s the book? The title is Reconstructing Your Faith: Building a Worldview and a Way of Life in the Wake of Deconstruction. It will be published by Eerdmans.
At Theology Beer Camp 2023, as well as in lots of places online, I’ve heard many people recently express directly or indirectly that they are at a point where they have been through the process of “deconstruction,” of taking a close critical look at the worldview they had previously held and which they no longer can, and are wondering “what’s next?” This book doesn’t offer a one-size-fits-all answer but works through the process of formulating a positive vision of your faith when you get tired of merely emphasizing what you are not (no longer a fundamentalist, no longer an Evangelical, still a Christian but not one who believes X, a Christian but not one who excludes group Z, etc.). Biblical scholars are often people who have pursued academic study in this area because of our faith, only to find that studying the Bible challenged our faith and caused us to reexamine and rethink our beliefs. Those of us who’ve been through that process have a duty, I feel, to share our story and our insights with those who are following along on the same path.
By the way, Theology Beer Camp was a wonderful example of what church can look like that both meets the needs of those losing a previous version of their faith and those building something new and positive in its place. Alan Bean wrote an article about the event for Baptist News. If you’ve never been, read the article and consider coming in 2024!
On Sunday, November 5th I’ll be one of three featured authors at Indy Reads signing books, at a meet-the-author event organized by Starbase Indy, where I’ll be presenting again this year, this time about religion and first contact. Not as in Star Trek: First Contact, but the broader topic. Religion comes up regularly in such stories, indeed it almost always does. If you’re local, come hear me talk at Starbase Indy but first come meet me in person at Indy Reads, and also find out more about them if you’re not familiar with the work of that amazing local Indianapolis organization.
Yesterday I had the experience for the first time in my life of walking into a mainstream bookstore (as opposed to say a university bookstore), in this case a Barnes & Noble, and seeing my new book just happen to be in stock on the shelf. I know this won’t be the last time, now that I’m publishing books for a general audience with Eerdmans, but this first is special, in a way that you’ll appreciate if you too are an author.
If you have read my latest book, The A to Z of the New Testament: Things Experts Know That Everyone Else Should Too, please take the time to review it on Amazon and/or other places online. You may not think that it makes a difference, but it really and truly does. It doesn’t just encourage me (although it certainly does that). It tells others that someone has read this book and helps them make a decision about whether to do so. It tells Amazon or Barnes & Noble or whoever else that this book is one that deserves a boost in the algorithm. What authors do depends to an enormous extent on what readers do.
And so on that note, I’ll end by saying thank you for reading what I write, in whatever form you do so!