There is a moment in a published author’s life that is akin to seeing your unborn child for the first time by ultrasound. As a radiologist, I am fully aware of the excitement parents feel when they see that gray and white blob moving on the ultrasound screen and begin to catch glimpses of what the finished “product” will look like. They gasp when they see fingers. They laugh when they see arms and legs. And, they cry when they see the face even though it is such a poor reflection of the beautiful child they will hold in their hands in just a few months.
Friday, I had such an experience. A package waited for me by my front door when I got home from a long, hard day at the hospital. To say I was tired and frustrated and disillusioned by the direction health care is going is to say the least. Soon, I will weigh in on this issue because I can no longer keep my silence after the horrific events with the VA scandal. But, for today, I want to share something bright and happy and encouraging. I picked up the package and noted it was quite heavy for such a small box. When I got the thing inside and ripped off the tab, guess what I found inside?
What? What are galley proofs, you ask? In the days before electronic media prevailed, an upcoming book was printed out on rough sheets of paper to approximate what the final product would look like. Since 2006, I’ve been involved in the publishing of five of my books and each galley proof was presented to me as a PDF. My excitement was no less at receiving these electronic documents. But, here was a throw back to old school publishing. Why? Because this book required a careful review of the actual printed appearance, not just an electronic approximation. For, this book would have illustrations and break out text boxes and Lifefilters. . .
What is a Lifefilter? More on that later.
In the summer of 2012, as I have shared in the past, God did something truly miraculous and literally dropped a book project into the laps of yours truly and my co-author and best friend (and former pastor) Mark Sutton. We wrote a book on depression in 2001 (which is still an excellent book, by the way!) But, over the intervening years, things changed and we wanted to update the book. Our publisher was not interested. But, a new team took over the editorial direction at B&H Publishing and they wanted us to write a new updated version of the book.
Mark and I went to work immediately in the fall of 2012 and now, before me was the galley proofs of a book we are hoping will help millions. Did you see that word? Millions! Not because we want money. No, it is because we are in the midst of an epidemic of depression unprecedented in American history since the Great Depression.
So, I will grab a cup of coffee. I wish I could teleport myself to New Zealand and have one of those luscious “flat whites” as you can see my friend Alex drinking. Yes, that is a cup as big as a cereal bowl! They love their coffee in New Zealand. So, I will hunker down with my galley proofs and drinks lots of coffee and check this manuscript out.
When will you be able to get your hands on “Hope Again: A 30 Day Plan for Conquering Depression”? Stay connected to my site as Mark and I will be launching a new website this summer to keep you informed of the arrival of this important tool. For now, you can check out our rather static site for information on the current book here. And, don’t forget to pick up some copies of “The Chronicles of Jonathan Steel” for your summer reading!
Got to get to work!
It has been a week since we returned from New Zealand. Getting back into our normal time zone has been challenging. I find myself wide awake until 3 in the morning! When you have to get up at 6 for work, that isn’t a good thing! But, gradually, I’ve been able to find that other part of me that seems to be hovering in the corner ala out of body experience style and like Peter Pan and his shadow, I’m finally getting the two of us back together. I discovered I do have at least one broken rib from my fall and my elbow is so painful I am sure there is a tear of my triceps tendon which is not a good thing!
I am slowly and painfully withdrawing from my daily dose of flat whites, that most remarkable coffee confection that is not found in the states. I miss my daily cup of flat white and my chicken and cheese pie. Thursday at physical therapy, I decided to get on the treadmill since my broken rib had finally become tolerable. Normally, I can only walk about 3 MPH because of my back. But, I found myself loping along at 4 MPH. All that walking in New Zealand uphill, both ways seemed to have paid off. I also lost 10 pounds while there. As I mentioned in my earlier posts, I saw nary an obese native New Zelander during my visit.
It has also taken me a week to sift through my over 2500 photographs and I have yet to sort through all the videos. The photos help keep all of the stops and sites straight in my head. When I pause and reflect on our trip, we covered the entire country of New Zealand and saw probably 80% of the sites in less than three weeks! It’s no wonder I keep getting Queenstown and Wellington confused! That’s like confusing San Diego and Panama City!
I am also trying to wrap my brain around the best way to tell my friends and family what it was like in New Zealand. Their questions are legion. And, to try and summarize our experience in a short period of time is impossible. Yesterday, I spent a few hours with my friend Raymond who is building the website for www.steelchronicles.com and our upcoming depression rewrite www.conqueringdepression.com. He is the pastor of a mission church and I shared with him my experience with my Christian brothers and sisters in Christ in New Zealand. I told him it was uncanny how easily we dwelt in each other’s company as if we had known each other for years! Even though our language was different (WE have an accent, can you believe it?) in some of its conventions, we could easily communicate not only on a superficial level but also on a spiritual level.
In my posts I have commented on what New Zealand still has that we as a nation have lost. I am still proud to be an American. But, I am not always proud of how our country has changed in the past century. The growing hostility toward Christianity, and for that matter, any public display of religious conviction is alarming. You do not see this in New Zealand. I see in our culture an intolerance to spiritual matters and a growing movement that says only science can give us real, true answers to our problems. The new series Cosmos even took a swing at Christianity in its opening show once again pouring gasoline (that is petrol for my Kiwi friends) on the battle between faith and science.
I think it is time to pour water on this fiery debate. As a Christian, I can no longer look at my atheistic or agnostic scientific colleagues and truly say they are without moral conviction or a humane way of life. Also, it is time for my colleagues to back off and allow those of us who have religious convictions to keep them and to RESPECT our choices! The key here is respect.
1 Peter 3:16 says that Christians should “always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is within us but to do so with gentleness and respect”. The vast majority of Christians have no intellectual or academic foundation for why the Christian worldview reflects ultimate truth. We have only a thimble full of knowledge and it is time for us to truly become “prepared” to give a reason for what we believe. But, more importantly, it is time for us to act with gentleness and respect towards those we disagree with. This is called tolerance and it was a concept invented by the early church to reflect this very verse in scripture.
One thing I found in abundance in New Zealand was gentleness and respect. As troubled as America is and as contentious as our reputation can be throughout the world, I NEVER felt criticized or looked down upon by my Kiwi friends. They were always gentle and respectful. A lesson we can learn on both sides of the issue of faith versus science. So, let us put our gauntlets away and let us instead shake hands over this issue and agree to disagree with cordial respect. If you are a Christian, I plead with you to take 1 Peter 3:16 literally. Delve into the foundation of truth that underlies our faith. Learn some “apologetics” that is defense of the Christian faith. There are thousands of websites. Just look under my “Apologetics” tab to find some good resources.
But, most importantly, take the lesson I have learned from my Kiwi friends, and yes, now family to heart. Treat everyone with gentleness and respect.
Don’t forget to check out my book sales for all three Jonathan Steel books at www.steelchronicles.com and get the current edition of “Conquering Depression” at www.conqueringdepression.com before it goes out of print. I’ll share with you in the coming months of a new book about depression I and Mark Sutton have written that will be available in the fall.
Next week, it’s back on the airplane to Orlando. Mark Sutton and I will be tweaking our website for our new book release in the fall. So, come back in the near future to hear about “Hope Again: A 30 Day Plan for Conquering Depression”!