My New Book Is Out!

Hooray, my new book is finally out! My fabulous publisher Wipf & Stock (Cascade Books) sent me the first copies of the book last week. Yes, this project has now come to fruition. I am delighted to let my blog readers know.

What I write may be the theme of my life, as many of you know. I seem compelled to recognize head-on the pervasive forces of secularization in our surrounding culture. I have tried to adopt what is good from the culture, but when so many seek to dismiss anything religious, anything Christian or even spiritual, indeed any kind of transcendent mystery—well, that’s when, from some source deep within me, I push back. Wait a minute, I find myself saying, there must be something more than what is purely material. And for me that something more is found ultimately in the mystery of our encounter with the living God. This is where we discover a place of fullness not often offered up by our society.

But then, how do we talk about such things? That too is the topic of my new book. We’ve gone sort of limp when it comes to talking about faith. We’ve become timid, a little embarrassed, a bit vague, defensive. How do we say what we believe up against the severe skepticism of our age? Well, it’s not an easy task, to be sure. We are all challenged in our belief, and we are certainly challenged as we try to talk about faith. Those are the kinds of things I address in my book.

The title of the book comes from that marvelous Psalm 137:

By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept

as we remembered Zion.

On the willow trees there we hung up our [harps],

[but]there those who had carried us captive

asked us to sing them a song,

our captors called on us to be joyful:

‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion.’

How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?

This text is hugely instructive for our time. I believe we share with the sixth-century BC Psalmist the agony of exile. We have been pushed to the margins of what matters to our society. We sit down by those rivers of our own Babylon and weep. We hang up our harps. Indeed, how can we continue to sing the Lord’s song in such a foreign land?

But notice the acute insight of the Psalmist: Our captors are actually asking us to sing our song. They actually want a song of joy. Imagine that! Idealistic, naïve? Maybe, but perhaps our culture too has reached its limits. If that may be so, we better have our song ready, shouldn’t we? What is our song? What are the ancient roots of our song? How can we sing again? Might it be possible we could sing as a mighty choir?

Well, that’s what I talk about in my new book. If you choose to read it, here’s the Amazon link for an order. IT’S NOW LIVE! I hope you enjoy.

The only thing, of course, that makes such a book project worthwhile is that it becomes helpful and meaningful to others. That’s my biggest hope. And to publish anything like this comes out of the fruits of genuine community, all those discussions over meals, all the questions and challenges coming at us, all the reading and teaching from so many we admire. For all of that I am immensely grateful.

But in the end we get the chance to participate in singing a song of joy together. That’s what I want to propose. Oh my, what an engaging task! What a calling for all of us.