Thursday, May 27, 2010

I'm Writing a "Book"

Book is in quotes because I don't know that it will be worthy of publication, or that any publisher will be interested in it. I'm doing because my session granted me a 3 month sabbatical, and it gives me purpose and a drive to learn.

The book doesn't have a title, but it does have an aspiration. It is a book that I would love to be helpful to the average person in the pew who asks, "What is covenant theology?" The Reformed world has tons of books on the so-called 5 points of Calvinism. But, it doesn't have a ton of books on this topic. There are a few, but I don't resonate with any of them.

Here are some lessons I'm learning:

1.) You must write a book for yourself only. What I mean is: you have to see it as valuable for its own sake, even if nobody else cares one thing about it, or reads it. I am writing to help my own thinking and devotional life. I am writing to learn, and writing, just like reading, helps you formulate, synthesize, and express ideas, which is the preacher's job.

2.) Writing a book shows you immediately how dumb you are. Writing a book means reading a lot of other people's books --people who are smarter than you are, and who write better. This is a good thing. I am learning a lot.

3.) Writing a book is hard work. It involves wrestling with ideas, and how to communicate them. It involves asking others to tear your work apart, which is akin to asking someone to shoot your favorite dog. You do this because you know what you mean, but other people may not, and the point is that you would express yourself clearly to others.

4.) Writing a book is lonely. I am an introvert, not a recluse. I am learning that about myself. An introvert needs some close friends who care about the things he cares about, with whom he can banter: think Lewis and his beloved Inklings. But, book writing means being somewhat sequestered, like a monk.

5.) Humanly speaking, writing a book is pointless. Writing a theological book won't bring you glory, most likely. When I was at T4G, the book room was overwhelming --just the sheer number of titles. I agree with old Solomon: many books are a wearing thing. Far too many of them say what has already been said better, by someone else, somewhere else. Even if you clear the publication hurdle, you become just one more book among thousands. You cannot write because you want to be noticed. You must write on the off chance that, should the book make it to market, it might be helpful to someone.


  1. Ken, I recently discovered the work that I wrote about here:

    In my opinion, this book is an excellent overview of what the issues were and were not in classic Reformed covenant theology. It shows that the issue was primarily that of justification. It's relatively short and a very good read.

    I do look forward to seeing what you come up with.


  2. Hi Ken,

    From a brother in Southwest Virginia -- keep me posted; you'll have a purchaser up here! :D

    Miss you all --


  3. Hi Ken,
    I read the Tolkien biography that was the "authorized version" and the author wrote his introduction by simply writing an account of going by appointment to Tolkien's house and how, when he got there, Tolkien was so concerned with getting back to writing about Middle Earth that he came very close to treating the guest as an unwanted intruder instead of someone writing about him. Talk about becoming a recluse! Wanting to get back to the land that set his soul free... (hey Joni, I''m plagerizing!)... which was not England in the present.
    I suspect it is very different writing fiction than theology than history that trying to explain complicated math and science to those who live in popular culture.

    Maybe if you could learn to program a hand held computer game so that deep theological issues are learned as you zap monster bikers with deadly neurons, you could break into new territory and reach a younger generation!

  4. Hi, I am Cliff's editor. I have just been fired.

  5. Cliff (and Cliff's editor! :-).

    Maybe it just needs a good illustrator!!

  6. Just for reference:

    You might find interest in it as a source for your own book.