Some great new books (to which I happened to contribute)
And now for a long-overdue update on some exciting new books that I’ve been a part of:
Hot off the presses, Your First Year of Motherhood is a priceless gem for any woman who has recently become a mother. It’s formatted as a series of daily reflections, each one no more than a page — perfect for weary moms who are too tired and busy for some weighty tome. Each reflection contains a personal story of some wisdom gained or lesson learned, a verse from Scripture, and a suggested prayer.
Our fabulous editor, Julia Attaway, strongly encouraged us to skip the platitudes, dig deep, and talk about the stuff that is really on new moms’ minds: tension with spouses, changing relationships with friends, what to do about the utter, all-consuming exhaustion, etc. It also includes the perspective of adoptive moms and moms of twins. It was an exciting project to be a part of, and I am confident that every new mom will love it. Put it at the top of your gift list for your next baby shower! (The astute reader may say: “But wait, you were an atheist when your first child was born! Are your reflections going to be a bunch of vitriolic rants denouncing God?!” Don’t worry, I wrote from the perspective of my first year of motherhood after I came to faith, which, in many ways, was like being a mom for the first time.)
I was honored to be asked to share my story in this book, which includes the conversion stories of science fiction author John C. Wright; former militant atheist blogger The Raving Theist (back when his blog was The Raving Atheist, he was one of the most popular atheist bloggers online); New York University professor Dr. Paul Vitz; author and blogger Karen Edmisten; and other fascinating folks. From the book summary: “The former atheists in this book…include: a university professor unexpectedly attracted to the faith when a student describes her retreat at a monastery; a young woman impressed by a colleague’s Mass attendance, who writes, ‘I wanted to find her ridiculous, but quite unexpectedly, I felt like the ridiculous one’; a Polish immigrant who shared Communism’s disdain for religion. These seekers ended up some place they never intended to go — the Catholic Church — and yet went there and found that they were home.”
The format of brief essays makes it a light read, yet it’s a book that packs a punch. It’s fascinating to see how each story is completely unique, yet the same themes run through almost every one. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a book that’s easy to read yet deeply thought provoking.
I got so absorbed in this new book by Matt Swaim that I was almost late on my deadline for the foreword. It’s a fascinating look at how the digital age has transformed our relationship to God and others — for better and for worse. It’s not a rant against all technology or an exultation of blogging and Facebook as the solution to all the world’s ills; rather, it’s a deep look into how the constant flow of stimulation and infinite amount of information that comes with modern life shape our personal and spiritual lives. Swaim addresses questions like:
- How does modern culture tempt us to know the facts about God more than actually knowing God?
- How does our desire to be entertained interfere with knowing God as he really is, rather than just as we want to perceive him?
- What are the distinctions between employing media and information as tools to aid evangelization and spiritual growth while avoiding a purely consumer approach to the faith?
- How can information overload deaden our ability to listen?
I think you’ll enjoy this look into our relationship with God in the age of constant distractions.
(Not yet released.) This is another great little book that takes a look at a weighty issues in the form of brief personal essays, making it a fun read with information that’s easy to digest. I wrote the chapter about sharing the spiritual journey online, and was humbled to be in the company of such an amazing list of contributors, which includes: Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Fr. Robert Barron, Mark Shea, Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Shawn Carney, Lisa Hendey, Matthew Warner, Taylor Marshall, Scot Landry, Thomas Peters and Marcel LeJeune. Under the guidance of editor Brandon Vogt, each chapter takes a different look at the face of the Church in the middle of the digital revolution, and ponders what it means to harness new tools of communication effectively to share the Gospel in the 21st century. I hear that it will be released sometime in the Fall of 2011 — I’ll let you know when it’s out, and you can also check Brandon Vogt’s (wonderful) blog for updates.
An update on my memoir
Yes, I’m still working on it. I finished the second version (after scrapping the first) in November of 2010. My literary agent got back to me with his thoughts in December, and I was caught off guard at the scope of the changes. Though he had many good things to say about it, he pointed out that there were some problems with the basic structure — and, unfortunately, fixing that kind of thing involves a lot of rewriting. As frustrating as it is for all of this to take so long (I started writing it in the summer of 2008), I’m grateful to have an agent who is guiding me to write something of really top-notch quality. This is also why I don’t have a title or a release date yet: though multiple publishers have expressed interest in the project, we’re waiting to have any formal conversations with them until the book is in really good shape — this takes the pressure off of me and gives me as much time as I need to make this a really good book. I’ll keep you posted!
For your convenience, you can have each Conversion Diary post delivered free by email or on a feed reader.