While my “day job” is being a professor, and while I write in pockets of time throughout my week, I am also an editor. I edit the literary journal The Windhover, having just released the eighth issue. Beyond editing the journal, I have worked as a line editor on book projects, the most recent of which is the newly released Faith in the Shadows: Finding Christ in the Midst of Doubt by my friend (and my pastor), Austin Fischer.
In a previous post, I discussed my experience of working on Austin’s first book, a book that really spoke to me. But with his most-recent book, there was a history between us. We’d gotten to know each other better in the intervening years. I heard versions of his ideas in various sermons he preached, but here they were in more extended and developed formats. I’m confident that he could anticipate my responses to some of the lines.
I recall our first meeting at the Starbucks closest to our homes, this meeting after I finished the first read of the manuscript. I told him that the draft of this book was so much stronger than the draft of his previous book. I told him that there would be less work for me this time around. He told me it was thanks to my work with him on the previous book. It was gratifying to see my “instruction,” as it were, making such a difference.
I recall reading the manuscript at Canyon of the Eagles resort in late March, taking a break from a educational conference I was attending. None of the afternoon sessions appealed to me, and so I did what most appealed to me: sat on the bed, red pen at the ready, and worked my way through the last chapters of Austin’s book.
I recall meeting with him at a different local coffee shop where I handed him my marked-up manuscript. It was a sunny April day, a Friday. And later that afternoon I was headed off for a weekend away with the guys from my small group.
I recall, a couple months later, when he told me that InterVarsity Press took it. I know someone who works for them, and I told him it was a big deal for him. I recall how happy I was for him, knowing that the publisher would take good care of him and his book. And so today is a big day for me, too, as Faith in the Shadows makes its way into the world.
During the entire process, there were always the strong feeling that Austin had written the book for me. By that I mean that he tackles some of the toughest objections to faith, that he speaks to concerns that have worried me. Even as I was diligently reading, line by line, writing observations and suggestions and corrections, Austin’s honest and thoughtful explorations of difficult issues brought me comfort and clarity. As a result, I am much more hopeful, knowing I’m not an intellectual sell-out for pledging my allegiance to Christ and His Kingdom.
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