Thursday, March 17, 2005

feature book: the seeker's way

one of the new, fascinating (and suprising) benefits of blogging is that i have somehow been added to a list of bloggers who love books. i have been getting quite a few lately from publishers or pr firms and as a hopeful author i can imagine that getting your book into the hands of people who would most appreciate it might be more difficult, than we all who have never published, might imagine.

i have been trying to think of a way to honor these authors without writing reviews. for the most part, i'm not a critical person, especially when it's something so personal as words and writing. so to critique the books is not my style. i would like my blog to be helpful to emerging authors, so at least once a month i've decided to begin a 'feature book' section. i will tell you upfront if this was a book provided for free, or if this is one that i am just so passionate about i actually parted with some $$ for. the book i'm starting with is:

The Seeker's Way by Dave Fleming.

i have asked dave some questions about the process and the book and hopefully it will inspire you to follow that link to amazon and buy the book yourself.

what influences shaped the writing of this book?

My own spiritual background influenced the book. Of course, one's own
background can be an ally or an enemy in the writing process. I had a
great editor who, I believe, helped me keep my background an asset.

I grew up in the evangelical milieu and found myself, for many years,
longing to find a more expansive faith than what is often found in
evangelicalism. One of my frustrations with evangelicals is the emphasis
on "never to be questioned answers." Answers have become the foundation
of spirituality rather than experience of God (the Mystery). I wanted to
write a book that challenged this notion, without doing it in an
antagonistic fashion. I didn't want to dishonor anyone in the book, but
rather show parts of my own struggle that led me to a different view of
faith and life.

I don't believe the spiritual life is simply about finding the right
answers and then being satisfied that those answers ARE the sum total of
the spiritual life. The book, therefore, is an exploration of a
spiritual journey that is grounded in the cultivation of
longings-longings that open us to God and take us beyond our own
answers, without negating the need for core beliefs.

The people I interviewed in the book also influenced the book in a big way.

you weave the stories of seven seekers into the content of the book.
talk a little about why you decided to add these seekers to the book and
who they are.

I chose people who have influenced me and whose writings seem to me to
embody some element of the seeker's way. I did not choose them because I
agree with everything they postulate in their writings. Rather, because
there is something in the quality of their writing that showed me they
were authentic seekers. I spent time with each person and in that
face-to-face time my suspicions were confirmed. I found each person an
authentic seeker of God. The people I interviewed:

Wayne Teasedale
Alan Jones
Marcus Borg
Phil Gulley/Jim Mulholland
Lauren Winner
Joan Chittister

okay, now i'm jealous! what would you say is the dominant theme of the book? talk about the interviews. that did you learn? how did you conduct them?

The dominant theme of the book is that life is not a static event, but
an ever-unfolding and dynamic journey that invites us to seek God and
pursue a vibrant existence. Each longing helps us do just that. Each
interview only confirmed that reality to me. As I met with each person,
in his or her own way, they all expressed a similar idea. I enjoyed the
interview process itself. I used a form of interview-based research for
my doctoral dissertation. It was fun to use some of those ideas in my
interviews for this book, notably to watch patterns emerge and learn
what those emerging patterns might teach me. Writing the book was itself
a microcosm of the seeker's way.

in the book, you call god 'the mystery'. what do you mean by this and why do use that word for god?

I am indebted to the great Adrian van Kaam for this designation. The
Mystery is a term he used to describe God. I can't think of a better
word to use. God is so beyond our conceptions. When I use the word
Mystery I am recognizing that reality. I don't mean by the word that we
cannot experience God.

The Mystery can be known. Mystery does not mean confusing or confining,
but rather One who is beyond us and yet simultaneously immanent.

you talk about starting seekers groups. can you explain what a seekers group is and how one could start a group with other seekers?

I encourage people to form seekers groups in order to explore their
spirituality. A seekers group find its common ground around the dynamic
of seeking the Mystery. They may or may not share the same theology.
They do, however, share the same desire to know God in the present
moment of life.

I was in the same seeker group for 10 years and it radically changed my
life. I pursued a spiritual life with others who were reading and
thinking along the same lines as I. Again, we didn't always agree, but
we always supported each other's journey. I think this kind of community
is critical to living an authentic life. We really do need the support
of others who can walk with us, challenge and comfort us; and we can do
the same in return.

In the book I give a number of ways a seeker group can form. Many form
around the reading of books-almost a book club with an eye toward the
spiritual life, if you will. There are other ways a group could get the
conversation going. I offer several suggestions in the book.

thanks dave! i really love the term 'mystery' - that is one of the best names for god that i have heard, and may adopt it myself. if you are interested in starting a seeker's group or would like more information you can find dave's website here.

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