I’ve never been poor, hungry, or adrift in a sense of hopelessness in my entire, blessed life. Yet poverty has always felt personal to me.”
— Opening paragraph from that wayward book I wrote, The View from Poordom: Reflections on Scriptures Addressing Poverty.
Her Greatness Annie Dillard said:
“Some days it feels like all the forces of the universe are arrayed against us.”
That’s how I felt a couple of weeks ago when my book on poverty, which I recently announced was due for almost immediate publication, went kaput–along with the publishing company that was to print it.
From where I sit, the company picked a most unfortunate time to cut its losses by going out of business.
I was planning to be in Texas by now, promoting the book’s concise, 103 pages of personalized reflections on God’s aversion to poverty and our Lord’s commands that we remember the poor.
I was planning to announce any day here, and on social media, that the book was now available on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, and the usual means, in both print and e-book editions.
I was prepared to promote it with frequent excerpts here, as well as with hosannas it’s received from two prominent seminary professors who’ve read it and endorsed it, one at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology and another at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (Northwestern University).
I was preparing to line up book signings and talks to Texas churches and related faith groups about the book and its value as a study-and-discussion guide.
Then came the email informing me that the publisher was going out of business, immediately, leaving me at the goal line with no way to cross over and score publication.
I think I went through about seven stages of disappointment–including a day or two of irrational bitterness and anger.
Even for the most spiritually mature Christian, reactionary reactions can bubble up. I’ve grown enough in my spiritual walk over the years, though, that I refuse to stay stuck in any kind of negative, stewing, emotional funk–especially a stew that tastes of bitterness.
Business failures happen. That’s how business goes. I can accept that, and my being angry or bitter about a business over which I have no control won’t change anything. It certainly won’t enhance my health and well being.
And yet . . . when you come oh-so-close to attaining a goal you worked so hard to accomplish, only to have such a setback: it felt for a few days like “all the forces of the universe” had conspired against poor, pitiful me.
A big disappointment genuinely aches.
* * *
Well, I’m not ready to declare The View from Poordom dead yet, in spite of two prompt, terse rejections from traditional Christian book publishers I promptly sent out. Breaking into the book world isn’t easy in a day and time when publishers are hard pressed financially and are extremely selective about what they publish.
And then there’s this: a book about the theology of poverty, from a first-time author, ain’t exactly the kind that’ll fly off the shelves–especially in a day and age when book shelves are loaded with the likes of Joel Olsteen’s happy-face, feel-good, “prosperity theology.”
It’s not as if I wrote such a book for fame or fortune anyway. If I were in it for that, I’d sell my soul to the Devil and write Why God Wants You to be Filthy Rich & Pretty!”
I wrote it because as one called to pastoral-care ministry to care for, and advocate for, people laid low by the grief of illness, injury, poverty, homelessness, or injustice in all its oppressive forms, I have something to say about the theology of poverty.
As a writer as well as a pastor, I want what I have to say to be read, if only by 100 or 500 people (though 15,000 would be OK), who might be challenged, inspired, motivated, or illuminated by my thought on God’s (many!) biblical commands that we love the poor and marginalized and affirm their dignity.
And so, because the book addresses a number of timely topics related to all the bashing and scapegoating of the poor that I see among even Christians today,* I’ve decided to raise funds to get the it printed and marketed by a high-quality self publishing house (WestBow Publishers). It’s a reputable publisher that can get the print-ready manuscript into circulation pronto. (**See below.)
As much as I hate raising money for self purposes, which I’ve never done before now, I’m hoping to raise funds from individual and/or church or faith-group benefactors to give me donations to defray at least some of the $2,000 expense I need to self publish.
That’s not the kind of cash I have sitting around. In return for a donation of at least $25, the best I can give back is an acknowledgement on the Acknowledgements Page and my eternal gratitude.
Contact me at email@example.com if you’re interested in helping me get this book I believe in so strongly into the market.
* * *
And now I’ll leave you with a thought or two more about processing disappointments, which find us all in life.
1) It helped in my processing this particular disappointment that I routinely start out every day of my life reading “A General Thanksgiving”– the wonderful prayer in The Book of Common Prayer.
It reads in part:
We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best
efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy
and delight us.
We thank you also for those disappointments and failures
that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.
So I thank God even for this disappointment that led me “to acknowledge (my) dependence on God alone.”
2) And then there’s this . . .
Whatever disappointment I’ve had is small compared to all the disappointments and heartaches that the poor and homeless and powerless among us deal with day in and day out as they struggle to survive in today’s Hard Times.
I thank God every day for the privilege of walking with the poor, pushing for the poor, affirming the dignity of the poor, and loving the poor as our Lord did. Check out
*Two clergy friends of mine who’ve self published books through WestBow reached sizable numbers of readers and tell me their experience with the publisher was entirely good. Check out their books here . . . and also here. . . .
**I note in the Introduction that I wrote this book as an answer to all the bashing and scapegoating of the poor in these hard times.