I FINISHED the Casual English Bible‘s beta edition of the New Testament in time for a pandemic plague.
I don’t know what to make of that.
I finished the paraphrase. Maps. Discussion questions. Downloadable PDF’s of the leader’s guides and atlases.
I didn’t fully realize what a whopper of a project this was until I created a one-volume, comprehensive leader’s guide for download as a PDF. It’s over 750 pages, single-spaced, doggone it.
The comprehensive atlas of high resolution maps for all those Bible books runs over 300 pages.
That doesn’t count the main project: the Bible paraphrase.
Now, what to do with it in this pandemic.
A friend hunkered down in NYC
In the midst of this plague—how can I not see it in biblical terms?—I’m starting a review of everything I’ve written, to find the mistakes I know are there, and to make revisions.
Several volunteered to help with this review. No one has put more time or energy or biblical savvy into it than my colleague and friend hunkered down in New York City.
I owe a big thanks to Robert V. Huber, a retired editor who orchestrated some of those exquisite Reader’s Digest books about the Bible.
Happy was the day our paths crossed, when Bob was an editor creating some of the finest Bible background books of the time and I was a freelancer praying to God I could make the cut among writers competing for a piece of those books.
Years later, when I got in over my head with a book about the history of the Bible and its influence in the world, I asked Bob to help me write it: The Bible: A History. Darn if it didn’t win an award by the Christian Broadcasting Council in the United Kingdom, where it was published: Nonfiction Book of the Year.
So far, with the Casual English Bible, Bob has carefully and kindly worked through the Gospel of John, and he’s almost done with the 50 chapters of Genesis.
In reviewing my work, Bob has had many opportunities to call me bad names. Instead, he seems to take every opportunity to do exactly the opposite.
He’s a good Catholic. A fine New Yorker. And wonderful editor.
Commiserating with my friend in NYC
Bob and I have been emailing about this virus, as you might expect.
Bob gave me permission to share part of his email from yesterday afternoon. I read it to my wife and choked a bit over the words.
“Things are really bad in New York, where I live and in New Orleans, where I grew up. Was it something I did?
I have stayed inside my apartment for the past two weeks, emerging only briefly twice to go to the bank and to the store. I now have everything I need for the next month….
In New York City, everyday at 7 PM, people go to their windows and clap and cheer in thanks to the medical people who are outdoing themselves in serving the sick. Last night I listened (and joined in) for almost 10 minutes. I started crying like Joseph. Maybe, as Joseph says at the end of Genesis, God will bring something good out of something bad again.”
In search of something good again
Yesterday at 6 PM Central Time, I clapped, too.
From downstairs, my wife asked, “What was that?”
“Seven o’clock in New York City.”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a side effect of this plague we are now just beginning to endure is the death of divisiveness, tribal hatred, and the spirit of me first, last, and always.
Whatever good may come of this, count me in. As a contributor, at least. And, if God’s okay with it, as a recipient.
Whatever comes of all this, may my children and my children’s children see the light of day for long and joyful years to come.
I know when it comes to those we love, we agree on that much.
In this, if nothing else, we are One.
Could this sense of Oneness help us begin to understand what Jesus meant when, shortly before his crucifixion, he prayed for all generations to come:
“Father, unite them as one. You’re in me and I’m in you. Now I’m asking that they may become one with us, so the people of this world will believe that you sent me here” (John 17:21 Casual English Bible).
Could this be that day?
There are Christians who say, “No. The world has to go to hell before Jesus can come.”
I’m with Christians who say, “Yes. The Spirit of Jesus is already here, and for those of us who believe this, it’s our time to shine.”
No heart left for marketing
Here is where I was going to talk more about the maps and leader’s guides for sale. In a sad attempt at a sales pitch, I was going to explain that I’m not good at marketing because that part of my brain doesn’t work. I need all of my brain to write the stuff. I don’t have any left to sell it.
I’m not going there.
It’s not only that I don’t have the brain for marketing today. I just don’t have the heart.
Today, tomorrow, and into the unforeseeable future, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. Paraphrasing the Bible, making Bible maps, writing leader’s guides, and clapping at 6 PM Central Time.
Clap along, if you like.
It seems odd, I know.
But sometimes the oddest shine brightest.