Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nightstand Theology

I have dreamed of starting a new genre of Christian literature for a while, and even if I don't have the writing talent for it, I'm hoping I can inspire some of you who do. I know many people decry the state of Christian literature in our country, and when they do they usually describe it as light or insubstantial or touchy-feely. Christian cotton candy.

When I get frustrated with the Christian books I read, I use another word: boring. Too often I find myself reading a book - about what should be an utterly fascinating, life-changing topic - and it feels like chopping wood. Sometimes it's because authors spend too much time exegeting scripture and the book reads more like a commentary. Sometimes it's too research-heavy, or too academic, or too complex. The best writers, and listeners, are people who can take a complex topic and see the simplicity through the complexity, rather than highlight the complexity.

I dream of pioneering a genre that I am calling "nightstand theology." You know that feeling you get when you're reading in bed and you just can't put a book down? You look ahead a few pages, determine to put the book down and go to sleep at the end of the chapter, but when you reach it your eyes involuntarily move to the next chapter? Do you think it's possible to write a book that's both strong on theology and the beauty of the spiritual life and impossible to put down?

I'm not talking about a systematic theology book written for laypeople - Jesus for dummies - I'm talking about a book that has the pace of a narrative, with the characters and plot developments and twists that keep you reading and foregoing sleep. A book with a biblical backbone, an intoxicating presence of God, a sense of humor, and a page-turning story?  

Have you ever read a theology book like that? Is nightstand theology possible?