My book, The Light is Winning, has officially launched. And I have feelings.
The above meme quotes the opening line of my new book The Light is Winning: Why Religion Just Might Bring Us Back to Life. Quite a doozy of an opener, eh? And even more of a doozy (for me, anyway) is the fact that it's true. And that's why this book release hits me right in the gol-danged feels.
I've shared some of it here, and elsewhere: how I was born in Miami, FL, and then, at age 10, was transplanted by my family to East Texas where my tumultuous adolescent and young adult journey would begin. My parents' intentions may have been good, but the controlling religion of that cult, and its effects on my life afterwards, were the worst.
The thing about experiences like this is that they don't just fade away. They are like seeds planted deeply into your soul and psyche and family dynamic that come to full fruition much later on. Often, they come to fruition explosively, under the catalytic pressure of particular people and circumstances, until the truth beneath the surface can no longer be denied. An eruption of the real.
The process unleashed by such an eruption is not just grieving - it is more like desperate grasping, trying to find something real, something true, something to hold onto and put roots down into. And it is like that because it is apocalyptic - where everything is revealed, and upended by the revealing, sent all topsy turvy and hurtling toward a necessary ending (which always precedes the new beginning). This book is, in large part, a record of that eruptive, apocalyptic process, and how, over the last almost five years, I and my little family have begun to find our new beginning and belonging and flourishing and a spiritual home. The light truly is winning.
But at the same time, the process isn't quite over yet. In that sense, the story told in The Light is Winning has an open kind of ending.
The Light is Winning is a religious book. My publisher fits it loosely in the Christian Living category, which might seem like an odd fit at first until you consider that its contents really do aim at that target: life. And life in Christ, to be more specific.
But it's religious in the deeper sense that it is telling a story about reclaiming our religiousness. And this might make it a bit of a Christian Living misfit, because, while the book is certainly not inaccessible or academic, it is yet arguing against the kind of hyper-relevance that so often dominates American Christian thought and practice. What if instead of trying so hard to look and sound relevant we turned our attention toward the center (Jesus) and the depths (religious ritual and practice)? Certainly, this would then propel us to face out (missionally) - but with authentic, empowered service, not contrived relevance.
The book is also an attempt to reclaim the parts of my charismatic identity that I know are necessary for me to be a healthy and empowered follower of Jesus. And even more: it's an exhortation to the American church to grab hold of the Spirit and her gifts that must, by necessity, fill up the religious structure in order to sustain us over the longer haul. Religion need not itself be a limited or limiting term - instead it must describe the kind of committed belief, ritualistic practice, and Spirit-filled service that the whole New Testament bears witness to.
Is this book a "solution" to the "problem" of Christian faith decline in the U.S.? May it never be! Instead, it's a contribution to the conversation, an exhortation to lean into the opportunity this apocalyptic moment presents - the opportunity for substantial reform and change, regardless of the numbers, statistics be damned. The opportunity to be resurrected anew and continue on in the power of the Spirit for the sake of God's kingdom and God's justice in the century before us.
I am so excited about the release of this book! I believe, deeply, in its message, not least because it's a message gleaned from the depths of my own pain, my own process, my own personal apocalypse. I want you to read it because you've probably experienced or are experiencing something like this yourself; you've probably descended into the desert of the real, tasted the bitter fruit of necessary suffering, writhed through your own transition to the second half of life; or, in the very least, you are witnessing the apocalyptic moment happening in the church and the world all around us, with all its tremors and eruptions.
You need this book.
If you are a post-evangelical wandering through the wilderness, you need this book.
If you are a pastor struggling to make sense of ministry in this radically shifting world, you need this book.
If you're a None who can't stand the thought of organized religion but feel like your spiritual pursuits are coming up empty, you need this book.
If you're a Done who knows they can't do it anymore but can't shake the empty feeling of being spiritually homeless, you need this book.
If you know the game has changed, and nothing will ever be the same, but still want, still NEED, to find a flourishing faith, you need this book.
And honestly, if you're just an observer who is interested in the state of American Christianity, or the journey of those moving beyond the conservative culture-warring of the past, or the future of religion in the midst of powerful pluralism and aggressive atheism - you need this book.
I'm not ashamed to say it. I believe in it. Here I stand.
The Light is Winning is available now, wherever books are sold.
P.S. Oh. One more thing. The Light is Winning was written before Donald Trump was elected president. I wrote much of it during the campaign; I still could never have imagined he would actually win. But since he did, the message of this book has become even more potent and pressing. Trumpism is an eruption of the real all its own, an apocalyptic revelation par excellence. And believing the light is winning is more vital in the age of President Donald J. Trump than ever before.
So, get this book.