Have you ever considered The Spiritual Life as an Editorial Process?
Al Hsu, an editor (and author) for InterVarsity Press, skillfully explores The Spiritual Life as an Editorial Process in Chapter 5 of the recently published A Spiritual Life: Perspectives from Poets, Prophets, and Preachers (Allan Hugh Cole Jr., ed. Westminster John Knox Press. 2011). As I’ve spent the past several months considering The Incarnational Stream/Tradition, I particularly appreciated Hsu’s section entitled The Practice of Incarnational Remembrance. He begins by asserting:
One of the most valuable aspects of the publishing process is that it is an act of cultural production, or what Andy Crouch calls “culture making.” Writing creates artifacts. Publishing takes the abstract ideas of an author’s mind and puts them into print in a physical, tangible object. This process preserves someone’s insight and anchors it in space and time. The physical artifact of the book also makes an author’s ideas portable and transferable to others (40).
In addition to the value of “culture making,” Hsu’s reflections on guiding others through the writing process, capturing midnight thoughts, daily journaling, understanding life as an unfolding story nestled in God’s grand narrative, and the communal nature of writing “struck a chord.” Love his illustrations/metaphors.
A Few Questions drawn from my reading of The Spiritual Life as an Editorial Process
- Do you have a writing/publishing mentor and/or serve as a writing/publishing mentor?
- Do you ever wake up at night with a thought which must be written down before it is forgotten or troll through old data files, journals, writings to remember (or to be inspired)?
- How have you come to understand the themes and developing plotlines of your life in relationship to God’s grand narrative (e.g., Loving God in the Flesh in the Real World, One more day)?
- Are you part of a writing and/or publishing community? Do you find such relationships encouraging and/or threatening? Does your answer depend on the ‘characters’ involved?
- Do you consider publishing an act of culture making and if so what recommendations do you have for maximizing its culture making influence/value?
- Do you agree “the book also makes an author’s ideas portable and transferable to others”? (40) And if so, how would you describe this process?
Hope you’ll consider picking up a copy of A Spiritual Life: Perspectives from Poets, Prophets, and Preachers, read/discuss it as part of a group, maybe pass it along to a ministry/pastor friend when you’re finished 😉 The chapters by Lauren F.Winner and William H. Willimon are on my reading list.
How about the central theme of Head, Heart & Hands: Bringing Together Christian Thought, Passion and Action (Dennis Hollinger. InterVarsity Press, 2005) as a way for understanding your daily life in the context of God’s grand narrative?
Simply put, I am contending that the head, heart and hands all play a significant role in our Christian faith. Moreover, each dimension plays a crucial role in the expression of the others. Our minds, passions and actions interact in such a way that unless all three are present and nurturing each other, we are less than the people God created us to be. To be whole Christians, head, heart and hands must join together as joyous consorts. The problem is that most believers and Christian organizations or movements have accentuated one dimension to the neglect of the others (10).
Have you come to embrace God as the editor of your whole life?
About the author:
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the Northeast Regional Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). For a number of years, the Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine was the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!
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