It’s always great to receive cases of new books, and yesterday was no exception as our first copies of Megabelt arrived.
I wrote earlier (Beware Friends Bearing Manuscripts) about receiving the manuscript for this little book. Since then we have done considerable work with it, produced what I think is a truly unique and creative cover (by Robert J. Hill of InnerLight Productions), and added illustrations.
In this case it was especially enjoyable to receive the books, because within an hour of their arrival, I had author Nick May visiting to get his hands on copies, even if it required special mental powers to do so. He has done an extraordinary job of publicizing his own material. (Note to aspiring authors: You are your own best salesperson!) I really enjoy having authors come to me and say, “I think we need to do such and such, will you pay for it?” rather than waiting for me to come up with the ideas.
Of course for a first time author, such as Nick, getting your hands on that first copy of your book is a special occasion. So we got to talking about reactions to the book.
I summarized my reaction thus: There are many things in Megabelt that I have done myself. Many of them, I’m not going to do again. A few of them, I’m going to do anyhow, but I’m going to laugh while I do them. I got a chance to laugh a bit while pulling out my church bulletin and claiming the 10% discount at a restaurant, even though I fully empathize with the fun that Megabelt has with this and some other practices that happen in the Bible belt.
Nick’s response was simply that this was precisely what he hoped. He wanted to hold up a mirror and get people to think about church culture. I like that idea.
I sometimes sound like a broken record when I talk about books offending people. But I have to remember the time when a young man spent half an hour berating me at a show because my book What’s in a Version? doesn’t tell people that the KJV is the one and only true Bible. I had another person inform me that he had discarded one of the books I publish because he wouldn’t have it contaminating his book shelf. I have been criticized because I would not declare that I would publish only books that contained only the truth. The problem there, amongst other things, would be the notion of setting myself up as the final arbiter of truth. I could publish only books that I believe to be the truth, but that might result in a narrow list.
What I hope I’m doing is publishing books that will send readers forward on the search for truth. I can say it about Megabelt, because it was intentionally written as a sort of mirror. But I hope the same thing happens elsewhere. Let the things I publish drive you to the source. A Bible study guide should just be a way station on the way to studying the Bible for yourself. One on prayer of the gifts of the Spirit should be a way station on the way to your own process of listening to God and being led by the Holy Spirit.
But I digress into excessively serious reflection. Megabelt is fun. Have fun, but don’t be surprised if you feel impelled to change some of your churchy behavior after you read.