Thursday, September 30, 2010

Backslide: The Story Continues

Purchase Backslide by going to the link below. Available in book soft and hard cover

Writing a book is an arduous task. My first novel, Preacha’ Man, served as a cathartic release from the drain caused by serving as the pastor of a booming ministry. The work of the kingdom became too much of a job. The call to minister was exchanged for serving more like public relations manager and employee of the masses than a prophetic voice. It became too much for me to bear living with the unrealistic expectations of others given the tug at my soul to be more engaged in the lives of the least of these.

I completed the first novel less than a month before being asked to leave the church I had worked tirelessly to build. For those looking from the outside, the story reads like a sad tale of a man going through some form of identity crisis. It appears as an account of failure among those standing on the side of maintaining traditional mores, while seeming like a reminder of the evils of Church folks among those fed up with the way churches have changed.

My own story serves as a lab test for those seeking to make sense out of the transition taking place within the Southern black faith community. Critics are quick to point o the emergence of prosperity motifs that have rendered the prophetic converge of black faith lacking in emphasis and direction. It is easy to recount those good ole days when men like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Wyatt T. Walker stepped to the beat of a different drummer. I contend that our fascination with those glory days are no more than a myth conjured in the aftermath of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the passage of Civil Rights legislation. The Black Church has never been a harmonious community that transcended denominational and cultural barriers.

With that being said, it is hard to deny Black faith is enduring a metamorphic process that is hard to define. My first book forced a critique of the implications related to building works of faith designed to replicate the most recent fad. Our desire for bigger and better collectives of faith has blinded many to the amazing truth often found where small groups gather. When faith is measured it renders the prophetic message rankled by the façade of impotence. We simply can’t see hope in places that fail to enumerate our expectation for more. It simply isn’t real when the numbers fail to reflect what we claim to be true.

Preacha’ Man is the story of a pastor who finds the strength to walk away. He leaves the comforts shaped by his faith to capture the freedom to live within a faith not limited by the constrictions of the Church. The book is a reminder that the work of the Church often diminishes faith rather than to facilitate the nurture of authentic spirituality. Releasing the first book was a thorny task. As much as I knew it was an important message, I feared how my baby, my book, would be dragged through the mud of public humiliation.

Now comes the second novel. Backslide exposes more of me than the first novel. This is a book about a man broken by innuendos and the stripping of security. Simon, the main character, comes back. Back into ministry. Back into the shambles that comes with allowing the imagination of others to damage the integrity of the work he does. He confronts the continued stabbing at his credibility and the fabrications told to explain how all the changes came to pass.

Underneath the sadness of change is a deeper truth. Those forced to rekindle lives, after the locus come to eat hope away, are given spiritual task far deeper than the words of our hallowed hymns. Once stripped of leftovers and reserve accounts, faith demands answers that no sermon can address. This is the story of what happens when faith no longer works in ways that help keep the tears away.

My newest baby has been released into the universe. Baby Backslide is certain to be disparaged for failing to speak in ways common to folks who call faith their home. This is my truth. More than that, this is my story. The sad truth is there are countless others who share the pain sprayed on the pages of my books.

Paul Tillich says there is a God above the God of our understanding. A God beyond the God we sing about on Sunday morning. A God present with us when all we know fails to counter the pain. Sometimes we cry alone. Often, those who claim to care walk away because they can’t take the sadness we bear. It especially hurts when the Church adds to the madness. Backslide is a going back to the work that makes us cry; even when that work should be the very thing to stop the pain.

My book as available at all bookstores across the nation and on the internet. Please, read it and tell me what you think.

1 comment: