Weekly Message from T. J.

What We Can Do

A member of our congregation did something big this week. Jon Love, one of our newest members, published another novel this week, and it’s now available for purchase on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1733710701/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=There+ariseth+light&qid=1558984158&s=gateway&sr=8-2

I was lucky enough to have a chance to read an advance copy of the novel. And I was honored to be able to write a review of it, too. Currently, Amazon is reviewing my review before posting it, exercising a level of editorial scrutiny that gives me some hope for the future of book sales.

I had a professor tell me once that she would not wish writing a book upon her worst enemy. The revisions, the creative demands, the discipline required, all coalesce to make the project much harder than anyone can usually predict. And novels are a species unto themselves. Character, voice, tempo, arc: all of the things needed to bring the work together demand so much of the author. It is something I doubt that I could ever do. But more important than that: it is something I haven’t done.

I consider it a spiritual act simply to do something many people say they can, but never do. How many people see a movie and say, “I could have written that.” Or who has read something and said, “I could have written this.” Certainly I have seen art in the contemporary wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and thought, “I’m pretty sure I could have made that.” But we didn’t, did we?

What our friend Jon has accomplished is just that: the doing. In a life we hope to live with meaning and purpose, it is essential to take the time to notice those among us who have an idea, an inspiration, or even a point of view and who then transform that interior thought into an external, tangible thing. Holding a novel in one’s hand is cradling creation itself.

Fittingly, therefore, Jon’s novel brings into sharp focus the milieu out of which the Christian faith was born. An empire crushing the conquered, the view of the other or the stranger, the mortal consequences of belief: all of these themes are set in relief against the vibrant characters Jon brings to life to tell this story. In my review of the book I remark that Jon finds a way to make history, or the setting, one of the characters in the book. And for this reason alone, I commend its reading to you.

But for me, I think that if someone I know takes the time it takes to write a novel, something I have never done, even a greater thrill than what is in the pages themselves is the sense of wonder at witnessing what a friend, a colleague, a companion on this road we all travel has done. Not what they talked, or even dreamt about doing…what they have done.

And may it ever be so.

Rev. T. J.

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