Monday, January 25, 2010

Excerpts from Current Draft of Chapter 10, on Spiritual Disciplines

From his home the man had an unobstructed view of the new construction site. The work had started out normally enough. A commercial building of some kind, it seemed. But after the workers had leveled the ground and poured the foundation, something odd took place. With the help of various machines, a rectangular silver box was maneuvered into the center of the slab. It was the size of a large living room, and taller than any of the men. In the days that followed, as the crew began to frame the building and add drywall, the huge, glistening box was gradually hidden from view. Still curious, the man decided to walk over and ask what it was.

The building, he learned, was to be a bank, and the great silver box was its vault. So important to the bank was this vault, so central to everything the bank did and stood for, that the building was being constructed around it. The vault lay at the heart of the bank, defining its purpose, giving it value, and making it distinct from every other building in the area.

Discipleship is meant to resemble the construction process this man was witnessing. For it is through the practice of the spiritual disciplines that we are enabled to build our lives around Jesus. He is the treasure and great reward hidden in our hearts. By him we possess, deep within us, the sure and certain hope of eternal, unfading riches.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Two Benefits of Editing

There are many reasons to edit a book and many benefits result from the editing process. But, speaking from an author's perspective, here are two benefits that stand out to me.

First, an editor's critical eye helps the author clarify and simplify his train of thought. This is where (again, from my perspective) Kevin has helped me the most. He has discovered places where I dropped a train of thought, raised expectations for the reader that I failed to fulfill, made a leap in logic, or was too subtle or fuzzy or foggy to be understood. And he's helped me cut out cumbersome passages that do not advance the argument of the book. As a result, the manuscript is now both shorter (!), but also leaner, more streamlined.

Second, the editing process has helped me refine my writing style. This is the benefit of multiple rewrites (some of the chapters have been through three or four revisions!). Of course, the primary goal in the revision has been to clarify and simplify, but the net effect has also been an improvement in style. At this point in writing I know almost all of what I want to say. The content is there. Revising the text has thus provided an opportunity to not only work on clarity, but also look closely at how I'm saying what I want to say.

Editing a book is like simultaneously doing structural remodels in a house and changing the color scheme and decor. Removing a wall here and there and adding some windows for better light cause the house feel more spacious. Putting on a fresh coat of paint and ridding the place of dated art make the house feel more classy.

In both ways - and I'm sure in others, as well - the manuscript is taking on a much better shape.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Titling Goes to Another Level

Well, it's been quite a while since this blog has been updated. With respect to the previous post, the overall approach to chapter titles has been overhauled once again; this is very typical and usually very helpful. This e-mail Brian sent me on January 5 (slightly edited) summarizes the state of our thinking.


Part I: The Foundations for Transformation [Or Spiritual Formation]
1. Restoring God’s Broken Image: The Goal
2. The Key to Transformation: The Gospel
3. The Curse is Canceled: Justification
4. The Cure Has Begun: The Heart
5. Closing the Gap: Sanctification

Part II: The Path of Transformation [Or Spiritual Formation]
6. Captivated by Beauty: Holiness
7. The Killing of Sin: Mortification
8. Growing in Grace: Vivification  (or Transformation)
9. The Quest for Joy: Motivation

Part III: The Means of Transformation [Or Spiritual Formation]
10. Training in the Spirit: Disciplines
11. The Refiner’s Fire: Suffering
12. Life Together: Community

Or [Using the same chapter titles]

Part I: Foundations
Part II: Building Blocks
Part III: Tools

I also think it would be nice if we could somehow build some congruency between the overall structure (and titling) of the various parts and the subtitle and introduction. If we use “roadmap” in the subtitle, then mixing the metaphors and using foundation/building blocks/tools might not work. So, we could change the subtitle to something like, “A Blueprint for Your Spiritual Growth.” Or we could choose section titles that go with the “roadmap” metaphor – maybe: Part I: Starting with the Gospel, Part III: Pressing On to Holiness; Part III: Helps for the Journey, or Helps Along the Way.

So, [Once again using the same chapter titles]

Introduction: A Roadmap for Your Spiritual Journey
Part I: Starting with the Gospel
Part II: Pressing on to Holiness
Part III: Helps for the Journey, or Helps Along the Way 

So, those are some more ideas to throw in the mix!

BTW, I’m working on chapters 8 and 10 (and maybe 9) today. Hope to have something to you by the end of the day.



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