Mondays seem to have lower readership, but I don’t want to sit on this idea. Writers, this is for you, but it’s also for CPH (and I’ll email this content to them directly!). Want to know a shared idea for a novel, writing contest, and maybe even series through CPH or other Lutheran publishing house? Repentance!
All sorts of Lutherans could write what I have in mind for this novel. The title and content would revolve around A New Beginning. The plot could vary like the wind, but the central theme could be an actual, honest-to-God-and-the-Confessions portrayal of Christian repentance within daily life. It’s ending would be down to earth and intentionally real to teach that our real new beginning is the work and gift of God rather than our own expectations or striving.
Now, one of the main sub-themes would need to be how anti-expectation repentance can be. The plot could be expressed with humor, tension, sadness, hope, or bated breath, but wouldn’t it be absolutely amazing to help Lutherans and non-Lutherans alike with such a basic, but often misunderstood, teaching of Scripture? Rather than narrowing down with a stereotype of repentance, we could broaden awareness of what daily drowning and daily rising really means as a gracious and divine gift?
Of course, repentance isn’t the only topic Lutheranism handles so well. Novels could help any number of theological topics become more visible and more easily understood.
The Writing Contest
Seriously, CPH, if you are moving into offering Lutheran fiction, consider a contest. Consider a contest with a specific theological topic.
Not everyone can be a theologian. So they say. I’m not convinced. The Holy Spirit is, ahem, theologically gifted with theological teaching. But an opportunity to produce Lutheran literature begs a search for those who are both theologically and practically gifted with words.
The contest could be this: over a year’s time collect 1) proposals with practical explanations of the author’s Lutheran understanding of repentance or other topic, 2) a complete story line and 3) a quarter of the book (or a maximum amount of words). As far as I’m concerned Paul McCain and Bruce Kintz can be sole judges, but bring in anyone you’d like. Plan ahead to have marketers dedicate some time to your personal favorites. Have two editors read each entry for possible acceptance or rejection, and see what moves on up the line. No necessity to publish anything! I bet authors would be happy to compete for a little free exposure to the publishing process and an interview. Even digital-only publishing is a big draw, as far as I’m concerned.
My point is two-fold. Let’s encourage LCMS Lutherans, but also all Lutherans, to write Lutheran stuff(!), and let’s publish Lutheran teaching in fiction, too.
CPH, I support your work. I turn to you first with ideas and proposals. I encourage others to turn to you first. Readers, this is my endorsement. But whether you hold such a contest or simply pursue the repentance novel concept itself—or any other topic explicitly covered in the Confessions—this could be the beginning of something wonderful!
Maybe I don’t mean series in a traditional sense. You (CPH) could pursue contract writers and try to bypass royalties. You could hand pick authors or tap your editors. No matter how it could be accomplished, different writers could contribute to a series of books contented by the content or theme of repentance or any other explicitly Lutheran x, y, or z! Have another one exploring faith! The means of grace! The more, and maybe even the more diverse the characters and plots, the better! Let’s seize the opportunity to portray Lutheran life, and Lutheran teaching, through fiction . . . even fiction that isn’t “preachy”. Especially fiction that isn’t stereotypical.
Think that would limit the market too much? You could market each book individually based on its own merit, but also market it according to teaching among Lutherans. Why not make it easier for Lutherans to shop for their often non-Lutheran friends? Why not lend a little advanced notice about theological themes on your own website? I think a number of disenchanted people would breathe in fresh and additional support for the fine work often accomplished by CPH.
I can hardly believe this thought hasn’t been put forward before. But, with the amazing gift of denominational publishing, why not throw it out there? I, for one, am not under any delusion that such writing would need to be stuffy or in some way fake. Admittedly, the right people would have to have the job, whether or not that could include me.
Ladies and gentlemen, (Merry Christmas, btw!) I think we should share exactly such ideas with publishers, especially because it is a tremendous gift to have denominational publishing! I am SO THANKFUL I can email this to CPH (though, yes, I know a few editors periodically check in here, too).
What do you think? Would you participate in such a contest? Would you “risk” a bunch of your time and energy to see whether you could refresh people through a novel featuring repentance as a climax? I sure would—though I might need that contest to be a year-long one! I’d also be happy to read and review self-published books with the same goal. Maybe we could add such a theological topical list to my website!
Wishing you happy new projects! (And old!)