Tuesday, July 7, 2015


When I'm working on a book, I naturally sometimes picture it on a shelf, in a bookstore, on a conference display table, in a reader's hand. When I do, though, the image of the book is indistinct. I don't imagine a particular color or font on the color. It's all kind of a blur.

I think I've had next to no input on the covers of my other books. Perhaps I've blocked it all out; I do remember that Clayton, my co-editor, had an artist he wanted to use on the jacket of our book Cosmology, Ecology, and the Energy of God, and asked me which of several paintings I preferred. For The Divine Decision and Handbook of Process Theology, to the best of my recollection, the covers were presented to me already complete. I probably had some kind of opportunity to approve or make suggestions, but nobody involved me in the design. And that was pretty much okay with me. I wouldn't have known where to start.

So when I'm asked (as I was last week by my editor) to weigh in on cover design, I feel like I'm completely at sea. I don't have any firm opinions about what my book ought to look like. I scroll through page after page of possible templates, try out various combinations of keywords at the stock image library. It's all far too indeterminate, with way too many possibilities, for me to express any kind of preference.

Somehow, though, with my editor's considerable help, we arrived at a cover design after a dozen emails back and forth. Forced to look at possibilities and think about options, I developed some opinions, some preferences, some absolutely-this and if-possible-this and certainly-not-that, all of which nudged me toward a dwindling number of designs and images. And after a week of this, like magic, we have a cover. I can see it. I know what it will look like, the image and the font and the layout and maybe even the color. My imaginary scenes of shelves and laps and tables and pages turning now have a detailed object at the center of them.

This is a new kind of excitement for me. I have no expectation that my book, specialized as it is, will set the world on fire. But being able to picture it as an object in the world, several months away from its emergence in that physical form, is unexpectedly thrilling.

Friday, July 3, 2015

A big week

It's been quite a week here in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Tomorrow is Independence Day, and several Supreme Court decisions have transformed the emotions, opportunities, and political rhetoric of millions of people across the country, in all parts of the political spectrum.

As for me, you can all probably guess what my emotions and outlook are in the wake of this momentous week. But regardless of my personal views, as a Christian theologian I want to resist the framing of these issues as Christians versus Everybody Else. That framing requires us to distinguish between True Christians and Fake Christians (since people who consider themselves Christians are on all sides of the issue), and that leads us down a path that is untenable in light of history (Christians have always believed and behaved in a wide variety of ways; there is no one pure doctrine or creed to point back to).

I've shared a lot of resources on Facebook and Twitter over the past week that I think do a good job of raising issues, pointing out nuances, and providing perspectives that people like me, my family, my neighbors, and my students are likely to find helpful. I thought I'd collect them all here.

However, for those seeking to be faithful to the example of Jesus, to the prophetic strain of Jesus' message, and to the countercultural vision of the kingdom of God shared by Jesus and Paul (at what I consider his best moments), here are a few ideas you might find inspiring or thought-provoking.

A New Day (Jason Hines)

Let There Be Light (Don Bowman)

And a few takes that reflect some righteous anger, but which make points I needed to hear: