If I may sound a personal note, just for a moment: over the past year or so I have written less here at Mere-O than ever before. That has partly been strategic: as I have decreased, the audience has increased, which is a correlation that indicates to me causation. Turns out many of the writers here are simply better than I, a fact that I easily count among all the facts of joy.
But I have also written considerably less because the emotional and personal investment in this book, The End of Our Exploring, has been considerable and I have started to find the form of blog posts less satisfying than the work I did there. It’s by no means a perfect book--someone has already told me they’ve set up a Google Doc with all my typos, because that’s the sort of reader Mere-O readers are. But I think it’s a considerable step forward for my style and for my thinking.
I knew when Earthen Vessels came out that it was a good book, but I also knew it hadn’t gestated long enough. This one? I know at least it’s the best collection of words I have yet put together. I hope to God it’s not the best or the last book I write, but I am pretty confident I can stand over it and say “This is a good thing.” (If you think that statement a sign of hubris or pride, then you have no idea the sort of critical relationship most people who work with words have with their work.)
During the last go around, I would have people occasionally tell me that they bought Earthen Vessels but had no interest in reading it. I would say “thanks” and tell them I was just as happy, as it was helping me reach my sales numbers. That’s a poor way to think about a book, though, and I am sorry for it. This one, I wanted to turn things around: I don’t care if people buy the book, but I sure hope they read it.
Hence this little announcement we had about the book. Moody has been nothing less than stellar for putting up with my personal idiosyncrasies (you, dear reader, have no idea) and for taking on the remarkable task of giving away the book to people who you decide might want it. I am humbled that they gave me a chance to write a second: it was in no way guaranteed that I would be able to. But I am, well, flummoxed in my gratitude for how willing they have been to try new ideas.
And I am grateful to all you who have read Mere-O, both recently and through the years. Without you, none of this happens to begin with. Thank you. Shall I say it again?
But I also am not above asking for your help, you who have read and toiled and followed along. I think this whole “buy one give one” thing is a pretty sweet deal. Will you send an email to your friends who might be interested? Will you tell your friends on the “social medias”? Will you do me the undeserved kindness of helping the book find readers that it would not reach otherwise? It is a courtesy to ask, as Sheldon VanAuken once pointed out, and not only a courtesy to give. I do not wish to place myself above needing help, for therein lies the path to the madness of vanity.
There are so many debts I owe, so many gifts I have received. The only way I have found so far to begin to repay them is through words that strive for real meanings, by trying to find words that fit the seasons and the times. The End of our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith is, I hope and pray, one such word. But whether it will return void or not remains to be seen.
Matthew Lee Anderson is an Associate Professor of Ethics and Theology in Baylor University's Honors College. He has a D.Phil. in Christian Ethics from Oxford University, and is a Perpetual Member of Biola University's Torrey Honors College. In 2005, he founded Mere Orthodoxy.