Chapters One through Ten

It has been good to hear from you, and I do appreciate the words of encouragement. Thanks to those of you suggested the benefits of considering my progress to date. Of course, no excuse to pause, but you’re absolutely right. For those of you who have not been following my progress closely, let me give a brief synopsis of what I have so far.

The chapters of the book have undergone several iterations. Most recently (March 2010), the chapters are grouped into three sections. The first section, entitled “How Does It Happen?” contains the first two chapters. In the first chapter, I lay out my story and the conversation between Atheist Objectivism and Gospel Christianity that has played out in my life. I also introduce my two father figures, who represent these two worldviews respectively. In chapter two, I lay out the two worldviews, more or less through the agency of my two father figures. That is, I articulate these two worldviews the way I learned them. That’s how the conversation began. I ask and answer four questions from the perspective of each worldview: What is the nature of the universe? What is the purpose of man? What’s wrong with the world? How do you fix it? With a foundational understanding of each worldview, readers with little to no background in either worldview can be on the same page as those who are more familiar.

Chapters three through eight, comprising the second section of three sections in the book, provides the guts of the conversation. Remember, it’s a conversation between these two worldviews. I’m playing it out as a dialogue, but not strictly like the dialogue you see on stage or in the movies where two actors speak to each other face to face or on the phone. Instead, this conversation is taking place through an intermediary, an agent of ideas. That’s me. My two father figures don’t actually talk to one another. On an intimate level, that literal conversation stopped years ago. Over a long period of time (my life time), the ideas that I gleaned from John got played back in my conversations with my dad, and visa versa. The conversation wasn’t premeditated or rehearsed; it just happened as I was growing up, searching for answers, seeking my own worldview, trying to survive.
Consequently, the topics are familiar, but weighty. That’s especially true as I turn them over and subject the points of each worldview to its counterpart in the other. How does Ayn Rand‘s Objectivism, John’s philosophy, view money? What does Gospel Christianity, my dad’s worldview, say about it? How do they interact, overlap, challenge one another? What are the consequences of each view in the life of the holder? There is a chapter for each of these big topics: Money, Sex, Power, Reason, Selfishness, and Capitalism. Within each one of these topics, there are subtopics that I address. I can’t avoid addressing Freedom, for example, when I talk about Capitalism. The conversation drifts to Faith when in the chapter entitled “Reason.” How does John, an Objectivist, view Faith? How does my dad, a Christian, view Reason? Is Capitalism incompatible with Christianity? What does the Christian say to encourage the Objectivist about rational self-interest?

Finally, in the third part entitled, “The Wrap-Up” or “Take-Aways” or something catchy (ideas?), I conclude the book with chapters nine and ten. In Chapter Nine, entitled “The Impasse, From Start to Finish,” I share points of irreconcilable disagreement. There are some issues on which Objectivists and Christians need to agree to disagree. There are not, however, as many as each party might think at the outset of the conversation. That has been one of my life’s profound surprises, and the moment continues.

Chapter Ten, the “So what?” answers “Where do we go from here?” I really want to know, and so does the reader. In tomorrow’s blog, I will elaborate.

Meanwhile, please send me some encouragement and observations. This is me being vulnerable and reaching out. Thanks in advance.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

4 thoughts on “Chapters One through Ten

  1. Mark,

    While I’m not a published author, I’ve had similar blocks and deadlines that have really been challenging in my life. I spent years studying computer science/applications programming and had to write a lot of code and had a similar “writer’s block” situation that was terrifying for me. Here’s what I found that helped and I’ve found this works in all creative areas of my life when I need to get it moving again.
    I do a walking meditation. When I lived in California, I’d take my dogs to the beach and just walk the beach, sometimes for hours. It was easy there to let go of my mind for a while because you’ve got that incredible power of the ocean pounding yet it has a calming effect and puts things into perspective. If I gently guided my thoughts, it wasn’t toward the blockage, but would instead be one idea I’d put in my mind: The answer needed is already there, and I have faith in that. I made sure to carry a notebook with me because I’d often get flooded with some brilliant insight that was amazing.
    Now that I’m very far from the ocean, I get similar inspiration elsewhere. A drive to the mountains, spending time near a stream, I guess anything that, to me, represents a closeness to God’s handiwork.
    Make sure you pray for help, too. I honestly believe that if you embrace the idea that it is all there already, almost as if the book has already written itself, it will happen and you will be amazed. I honestly believe it’s that simple. I’ve had this happen to me.
    Two years ago, a friend nagged me into entering a national quilt competition. I was a new quilter and thought it was a ridiculous idea. What did I have to offer? However, she kept nagging me and telling me I had a good idea (something I’d vaguely discussed with her months before). I have a 13-1/2-hour workday, mind you, plus two children at home, and not much spare time on the weekends to even do a project like this, but she persisted. So I used this method, just kept telling myself the quilt was already fully designed and done, and amazingly enough, I got it done. I spent a week on vacation sitting by the hotel pool where my kids were swimming, just sketching and letting my mind wander. By the time I got home, the quilt was done on paper and in my mind, and two weeks later, working long hours at my job and all, the quilt was finished. I entered it into the competition, totally fine if it didn’t do well, but I got third place, which for me was HUGE. I was up against quilters who have been winning for years. There were dozens of entries, and somehow my little quilt did great.
    I know it’s different writing a book. But it’s still a creative process. You know the words and ideas are there, just let them flow and trust that it will happen.
    And best of luck. You know you have support here.

    Karen

  2. Thank you, Karen! So thoughtful of you to share such encouraging advice. I think one of the reasons why I have not had success with what you describe is that I find it so hard to relax. When I go out to the ocean, or to the mountains, it’s always in the back of my mind that I need to do something. I like your more subtle approach, a “walking meditation.”

  3. Tie together each portion of the book with your own life experiences and you have it. It sounds like you may be farther along than you realize. If you pretend that you now have to make segues between each of your chapters and book parts it will be like putting an essay together for a blue book exam. Done…and you will be given an A or at worst an A- since the grader sees what you have done and marvels at it.

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