Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Finding the Time to Write: Part 2

Last week I posted my interview with author Richard Couser. Here is a little teaser from his book. To order it visit Amazon or http://www.winepressgroup.com/.


Fiction Excerpt
The Deuteronomy Project: A Journey into the Mind of God
Richard Couser

I found Hal in his study on a late summer evening, when the early chill of fall was in the air. He was sitting in a deep red chair, facing the hearty flames of a fireplace. A soft, dim light flowed from the floor lamp over his shoulder. Two others lamps, on a table and a desk against opposite walls, helped illuminate the room. The study walls were floor to ceiling bookcases on every side, broken only by the entrance door, two west-facing windows with small panes, and the space where his desk was set into the bookcases between the windows. Like a condensed library in an English manor house or an expanded office of a university professor, bathed in the suffused orange of gentler light, it spoke as the dwelling of one who lived by words. Hal invited me to sit in the shallower and harder green chair across from him. Would he help me study and understand Deuteronomy? I had purchased some commentaries by various academics and others about the book, and I was willing to read them—in fact I had already begun to do so. But I wasn’t getting to the spiritual heart of the book, so I pressed my case with Hal.

He needed little persuasion. He didn’t have a lot of people to pastor anymore, he told me. It would be a joy to his heart to share what he could with me. He asked me to commit to meet with him regularly and to prepare for the meetings, not just by reading Deuteronomy but by reading some background on it, studying it so we could talk at more than a superficial level. When I assured him I would, he reached for his Bible resting on a nearby table.

“Open your Bible to Deuteronomy and follow me while I read,” he said.

“Moses proclaimed to the Israelites all the Lord had commanded him concerning them. . . . The Lord our God said to us at Horeb. . . . Then, as the Lord our God commanded us. . . . When the Lord heard what you said, he was angry and solemnly swore. . . . Because of you the Lord became angry with me also and said. . . . But the Lord said to me . . .” (1:3, 6, 19, 34, 37, 42).

“You see, Chris, that’s only the first chapter of Deuteronomy, and already the words you are reading have been given six times as the very words of God. You are not reading the great American novel. And this is not a ‘page turner’ to hold you breathless until the next fictional adventure. Rather, you have come onto holy ground, where the author of all that is—the only final and ultimate reality—has shared with you a glimpse of that reality. You are peering into God’s mind more surely than the scientist who studies the far reaches of the universe through images from great satellite-mounted telescopes, or one who teases from DNA molecules the secrets of the chemistry of being. And your author is about to take you on a journey that will carry you farther and reveal more to you than journeying to outer space on a rocket ship.

“Contemplate the very term word. The acts of creation themselves occur as spoken word—‘God said’—let there be light, an expanse between the waters, dry ground, living creatures, man in our image. God reveals himself to humanity through both word and deed, but the deeds in turn are remembered and told and retold through the word. Word is communication, and communication is the essence of the triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. ‘Word’ expresses thought, logic, rationality, relationship, feeling, and finally becomes the expression of God himself: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ It is in this—the living Word—that all things hold together. Martin Luther wrote, ‘But to hear God is bliss, even if He were to sound out the same syllable all the time.’2 “In your soul, you have sensed what ‘the words’ really are and are really about. You’re afraid to see God. You’re afraid to know him. That’s why you’re stuck in your journey. You aren’t the first, but you have this—few who read these words have any understanding of the Awesome Presence in which they stand. You have felt the fire and seen the cloud. Don’t turn back. Press on!”

It was enough for the evening. I was seized with awe and a dread. I thanked him for his words and fled into the night journey home. Hal had pried the scales a little bit loose from my eyes. I tried to see into the dark, beyond the short range of the headlights, all the while keeping my mind on worldly things enough to stay on the right side of the road and not be blinded by the oncoming masses of glass and steel.


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