Publishing Part II: "Is Your Book a Christian Book?"
Yes, it is a Christian book, and no, it doesn't bring people to Jesus. (It doesn't chase people away from Jesus, either.) The book holds the doctrines of Christianity and the person of Jesus up to the light and thinks about them in different ways. The book is respectful to Christianity and reverential to Jesus.
"Most of the books in your lane are written by angry people who were abused or neglected by the church. They're angry books." This is NOT an angry book. "We need a book like yours. I like your intellect and your passion and your voice, but the book isn't 'Christian enough' for me."
Some Christian publishers are still holding to a very doctrinal, fundamental, intellectual Christianity that is chasing people from the pews. Churches have been co-opted by Christian nationalists and far-right extremists who marginalize gay people, people of color, and women, among others.
Here in the streets, there is something else happening. According to sociologists, the second-largest religious identification in the U.S. is “lapsed Catholics,” second only to Catholics themselves. Over one in four of us are “spiritual, but not religious.”
Many of those who DO believe in God DO NOT believe in the God of the Bible, and many of those who DO NOT believe in God DO believe in a higher power.
Some Christian authors, like Brian McLaren, are writing books like "Do I Stay Christian?" and some atheist authors, like Sam Harris, are writing books like "Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion." Surely, there is room for an open-hearted and open-minded book like mine.
At the conference, we were each asked to talk about our books. "What are you going to say?" my son asked. I'm going to read the Afterword, which is beautifully written and totally uncontroversial.
"You weenie," he exclaimed. "Your book is clear and fair and kind. It is factual, not editorial. You should be proud to represent your book. Ask your questions!! Speak your truths!!" So, I did, and it went really well. I'm not going to let others define my book or my identity or my views anymore.
The book begins with a quote by Dogen, a thirteenth-century Zen master, who said "To study the Way is to study the Self..." The quote fits the book so well. One of reader said, "Take out the Dogen quote. Your book is not a Zen book." Then, I began a Zen practice, and I saw that it is a Zen book.
So, if you're looking for an open-hearted and open-minded book, factual not editorial, that meets people -- spiritual people, seekers, and secular humanists -- and is "Christian, but not too Christian" and "Zen, but not too Zen," then you have come to the right place.