Randy Greenwald

Concerning Life as It Is Supposed to Be

Something That Did Not Exist Before

Something Worth Living For is done.

Part One of Two

For the past several months, the most contented hours for me have the been the first hour or two of most every morning. Fueled by two cups of coffee, and encouraged by an ever patient and supportive wife and church, I have been at this desk with pen in hand or computer on lap and have revised and edited and re-revised and re-edited my book on the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

And it is done. Not necessarily well done or, in everyone’s opinion done well, but it is done.

My writing space and companions.

There have been happier moments over these months, certainly, from the mundane – laughter with friends and guests around our kitchen table – to the profound – my daughter receiving her doctorate. But these regular and repeated hours of writing have been times when everything else ceases to exist. It’s been work, but happy work. I have been moved to set aside these hours by an internal passion to put on paper what is in my heart. I read recently a line from a poet who noted the obvious fact that to create means to bring into existence something that did not exist before. I have been possessed by this crazy obsession to bring into existence something that did not exist before.

And now it does.

Audaciously positioned next to N. T. Wright and Mary Oliver.

Its 51,000 words and 200+ pages represent a couple years of my life. And during that time I’ve had time to redefine what success in this looks like. There is an audience who would find this introduction to historic Christianity helpful and even a bit entertaining. I believe that. But to the gatekeepers to that audience, that is, to publishers, I lack the credentials to write a book of theology and I lack the platform, that host of fans lined up and ready to purchase whatever might spill from my keyboard. Publishers depend on an author’s platform to make the financial risk of publishing viable. So I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that without a substantial platform or the energy or personal charisma to build one, there is a high likelihood that this will never find a publisher. And so success for me in this is that what once did not exist now exists and I am for the most part happy with it. That is enough.

Write, rewrite, and rewrite again.

One poet once remarked that a poem is never finished, just abandoned. This work, though finished in one way, is not in another. It is, we might say, medium done, not well done. I have put it on a shelf. In a month or two I’ll bring it back out and read it with fresh eyes making such adjustments as seem necessary. In the meantime I will continue to shop it to publishers (I’m 0-4 so far) and perhaps agents hoping to find someone willing to take a risk with it. Where it goes from here, if anywhere, is yet to be seen.

Many who read this blog, this silent, empty, nearly non-existent blog, have encouraged me in this. You have said you value my writing and my voice. But you have been rewarded for such encouragement by my on-line silence. That has not been fair to you, and I lament that fact. But I have found I cannot write a book AND at the same time maintain an active on-line. Your patience and your encouragement have been invaluable. I may post more frequently now, but I make no promises. I’ve done that before, only to break them when it becomes untenable.

I hope you share with me some of the joy at the book reaching this level of “doneness” as you have been hidden encouragers of it. That you have found my writing profitable and have said so has been an invaluable reminder to me to keep at it.

One thing I do want to do, overlapping the book and the blog, is this: I would like to post a few sample sections of the book to give readers a taste. But what sections? I leave that for you to choose.

There are 107 questions and answers in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. If you are unfamiliar you can find them online here among other places. Something Worth Living For gives brief (ordinarily 500-600 word) explanations (more meditative and reflective than technical) for each of those questions, either individually or grouped.

Here is what I want you to do: In the comments section tell me three of those Q/As for which you would like to read what I have written. If you want to simply write three random numbers between 1 and 107, that’ll work! The least I can do to make up for my months of silence is to post a few samples of what I’ve been up to.

I should add that this “game” is open to all readers. Not all of you are Christians and not all of you are Presbyterians like me. But I’ve not written this for an audience like me. I’ve written it for the curious, and all of you fit into that category. My goal has been to present historic Christianity in a form that captures the interest and engages the heart and mind of the curious.

So it is up to you where we go from here.

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20 Comments

  1. Carol Arnold

    Yay and congratulations! Bask in perserence and victory over the war of art. Clap clap.
    24
    25
    26

  2. Bravo! 1, 42, 105

  3. Nina Morway

    You have given birth. The book exists, and God holds its future. I would love to buy it, and read it.
    Three random questions, please.

    Nina Morway

  4. Larry edison

    1,2,95. I bet it feels good

  5. James A. Jones Jr.

    Sounds fascinating. Hope you find a publisher. Pretty sure it is well done and done well!

  6. Dwight Dolby

    Congratulations! I’m requesting: 1,2, 107

  7. Wow! Thankful!

    Randomly. . . 8 & 24

  8. Chris Wright

    Congrats Randy, so amazing to get this done. Have u thought of leading a seminar at GA to introduce the concepts in the book? May be a means to get more folks interested

    • Well, since the ‘concepts in the book’ are one of our confessional documents, I might hope that the TEs and REs at GA would already be familiar with them! However, you have me thinking that a seminar on the value of the Catechism for those outside our circles looking for a clear and comprehensive presentation of historic Christianity could be put together. But, of course, for the three people who would attend. 😉 If you have more thoughts, email me.

  9. Eva

    Hooray! 86, 93 and 97

  10. Suzanne

    Congratulations! I look forward to reading.
    32, 35 and 36

  11. Jay Holt

    Congratulations, Randy! This is huge!
    7, 8, & 78

    • I might note that you have already read the entry on question 7 and 8! Would you like to see if I fixed it? 😉

  12. Randy Bronson

    Yay! Theology questions! 🙂 7, 11, 13.

  13. Connie Amon

    Congratulations! Be encouraged that the desire to write has been realized in a book! As Carol said … clap, clap!!
    90, 97, 88

  14. Rebekah

    I’m so excited to see you’ve finally made this happen! So looking forward to reading it!

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