Tag Archives: story

Centurion

A few years ago I was supposed to be studying for a law school final. But I couldn’t.

Instead I sat in front of my computer feeling exhausted. I just wanted the semester to end and to escape from school for a while. But as I sat there, something happened. I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand how it came about or why that place and time. All I know is that my life changed.

I opened a new document and started writing. What came out was wholly unexpected.

It wasn’t a case brief. It wasn’t an outline for my constitutional law final. It wasn’t even something I recognized.

It was fiction. A story.

I’m not sure it was very good, but I couldn’t stop.

Because punching keys until they formed words and sentences and paragraphs and pages made me come alive in ways I never dreamt possible.

And somewhere along the way I knew I’d found what I was meant to do, meant to be.

That was 2007. Since then I finished law school, earned another graduate degree, got married, had a son, and worked as a lawyer, teacher, and minister.

But I’ve never stopped writing.  I can’t… because it’s who I am.

Next month I’m releasing Centurion: Mark’s Gospel as a Thriller. It’s a work I’m incredibly proud of and something I hope invites people to read the Jesus story in a completely fresh way. It’s the first book in a three-part dystopian trilogy and will be available for Kindle and as a paperback.

I’ll blog more about it in the upcoming month and will post an excerpt or two as we approach the release.

But for today, happy Friday.

Peace and Love.

Ages Ending: The Gospel as Thriller

I spent three years teaching religion to high school students.

Teenagers aren’t the slack minded creatures they’re often depicted as. In fact, I found them to be wildly curious, loyal friends, hilarious,  and enormously sensitive to spirituality and the world of religion.

I like teenagers. A lot.

But one barrier I’ve encountered is that many teenagers, like a lot of adult Christians, aren’t terribly excited about reading scripture.

Don’t get me wrong. They want the content. They clamor for wisdom. They cherish the debates and discussion. But they don’t necessarily want to sit down, open their Bibles, and read the narratives.

Why?

Because they’ve already read it. They know the story. They’ve been taught the lessons. Why read it all again?

After all, Netflix is waiting. And if not Netflix — Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. You get it.

Let me tell you a story. When I teach courses on the Old Testament the first homework assignment is to read Genesis 1 and 2 — the opening pages of the Bible.

The next class I ask the students if they did their homework. All the pretty little liars nod, smile, and say: “Yes, of course!”

I ask them to tell me how many creation narratives they found. The students answer almost unanimously: “One.”

I ask them to open their Bibles. I repeat the question.

Same answer is given.

I ask if they were honest about doing their homework. The tension rises. Eye contact is avoided, which I don’t mind because now they’re at least looking down at their Bibles. I ask again.

Silence.

Then I tell them all is well; I know they didn’t read it. I knew they wouldn’t. We share an awkward laugh.

So I ask them to do the reading now, in class. I want to know how many creation narratives they find.

It takes an average of 21 minutes before the first kid realizes there are two narratives within Genesis 1 and 2.

These are smart kids. The problem isn’t that they can’t read. The problem is that they think they already know the story, so they don’t read.

We, all of us, need to read the story again.

Especially the gospel.

How much do we miss because we think we already know the story?

Here’s what I’ve done:

I reimagined the Gospel of Mark as a dystopic thriller.  Basically, I hid the Jesus story within the framework of a larger, action-packed, three-book saga. Which, I know, sounds insane — but it’s not.

Without giving away too much . . . here’s the set up: The United States has fallen. In its place stands an oppressive Kingdom led by the handsome but vicious King Charles who controls North America with an army of foreign mercenaries. After decades of war, the king has finally tamed the once mighty shores.  And the young king will stop at nothing to protect his reign – no matter how many Americans he must hang on a Kingdom cross.

I want to light a spark in people to read scripture by showing them just how thrilling, passionate, and page-turning the story of Jesus Christ actually is.

Think it’ll work?

The Paris Wife

I finished reading THE PARIS WIFE last night, and I loved it.  It’s a wonderfully crafted historical fiction that follows Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, as they navigate the choppy seas of marriage in the 1920s.  The book is set mostly in Paris and Spain where the Hemingways lived, drank, and wrote with other literary expats like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound. It’s a truly fantastic love story that looks at marriage intimately through a uniquely brutal psychological lens.  But what really struck me last night after I closed the book was not the novel itself, but rather the short essay the author, Paula McLain, included at the back of the paperback edition. She says a number of notable things in the short piece but I just want to highlight one point in particular. McLain says that once she found Hadley’s voice she began to believe that she could actually write this book that she was “dying” to write. That’s what hit me: she was dying to write this novel.  As a writer, I think that makes all the difference in the world. I am currently writing a novel that I feel the same way about. It is a story that has brewed within me for years, and the time has finally come for it. I, too, am dying to write it, and that has made all the difference. As an artist, there is nothing more exquisite than the singleminded focus that comes from writing a story that simply pours out of you, because if you don’t, you’ll die. Metaphorically, of course, well maybe not.

I wish writers everywhere today that same kind of story. The kind you don’t choose, because it chooses you first.