Chatting with a Writer Friend

130109035441-cathleen-falsani-author-pic-left-teaseFriends, today I get to introduce you to Cathleen Falsani. Grab a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine, depending on what time it is and what kind of day you’re having) and settle in for a chat.

I met Cathleen a few years back at the Festival of Faith and Writing, about four days before He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not came out. I was just starting to realize the HUGE number of ways I did not understand American Christian Culture (despite being an enthusiastically practicing Christian for about six years at that point) and was a bit overwhelmed.  Telling us about herUnknown own memoir, Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace, Cathleen described her spiritual journey and how despite her conservative upbringing, she is a bit “Left-leaning for the Lord.”

At the end of her talk, I rushed the podium and hugged her.

(Okay, maybe I didn’t quite do that. I’m a little reserved when I meet other authors. Maybe I just introduced myself and told her I was excited to read her book. But inside? I rushed the podium and hugged her.)

She and I are practically the same person, only in mirror opposite.

She went to the Wheaton College that was Christian, conservative, and trained her to use her faith as a force for good in the world. I went to the Wheaton College that was feminist, admitting men for the first time in 250 years, and trained me not to let any of those boys open a door for me because WOMYN can open our own doors, thank you very much. She has become more liberal over the years, while I’ve become more conservative–probably a necessary course correction each of us. We both love Jesus, our husbands, our girlfriends, and children who need families.  And we both explore the world through words. You see? We’re almost twins.

So when I heard that she and one of her friends had edited a collection of essays by different writers about some of the less-discussed issues of our faith, I was SO EXCITED to read it.

9781455578825It’s called Disquiet Time: Rants and Reflections on the Good Book by the Skeptical, the Faithful, and a Few Scoundrels.  I recommended it to you here on the blog a few weeks back because I kind of couldn’t wait until the pub date (10/21/14) to write about it. My favorite part of this collection is that while I didn’t agree with everything the different writers say…I didn’t feel like I had to. Do you know what a surprise that is? I kept waiting to feel that defensive mechanism go up inside me, but it didn’t. There was no expectation of uniformity or call for everyone to fall in line. This collection is such an inspiring picture of what real faith, lived with real people, looks and feels and reads like.

Yesterday, I emailed Cathleen some questions so I could share some background with you all.

TR: What inspired this project?

CF:  Jen [my co-editor] and I have been friends for years and we were kidding around one night almost two years ago about book titles and ideas and she came up with Disquiet Time – as a snarky spin on the whole evangelical “quiet time” concept that we’ve both found twee and genuinely false in our spiritual walks (such as they are). I think she posted something about Disquiet Time in a status update, a mutual acquaintance of ours at a publishing house (not the one that ended up buying the project) sent her a note asking if she/we were serious, and then we took it to our agent (we share a literary agent, Chris Ferebee) and it went on from there. 

TR: How does the end result compare to what you envisioned at the beginning?

CF: Since you asked this question, I went and found the original email Jen sent to our agent describing the project and proposed book and I’m amazed that two years and 42 or so authors later, it’s pretty much exactly what we pitched and envisioned. And that’s delightful. 

TR: Eugene Peterson wrote the forward (love him!)…how did that come to be?

CF: I’ve known Eugene for a few years and he’s one of my heroes. Having heard him talk about his process of dealing with scripture when he was working on his paratranslation, The Message, made me realize a couple of things – first how much he already had influenced how I look at scripture (as a living, breathing work of art; as a conversation between God and humanity that is ongoing; as poetry and metaphor etc.) and second how much I thought he’d both dig and understand what Jen and I wanted to do with Disquiet Time. Happily, he did. And we’re tremendously honored to have his beautiful words and wisdom open the book. 

TR: How was “curating” this collection different from writing your previous books (The God Factor, The Dude Abides, Belieber! and still my personal favorite, Sin Boldly) as a solo author?

CF: Super different muscle, of course, but it was fun. We’re blessed collectively and individually to know some extraordinary people and uber-talented writer/thinkers who are also generous of time/creativity/energy and who were willing to play along. It was a real risk for a lot of the authors – even those who are used to writing about controversial subjects – to take off the kid gloves and really get honest about scripture. I think that authenticity and rawness is part of the power and the beauty of the book.

TR: Who will love / be encouraged by / find inspiration in Disquiet Time?

CF: We wanted this to be a book for everyone – but especially for those who wouldn’t count themselves, necessarily, among the “faithful,” which, if we’re really honest with ourselves, is most of us. We didn’t want to be defensive of Scripture, we know how massive God is and how even more massive God’s love is for all of us, and that more than anything else, we understand that God’s grandest desire is to have a relationship with us. And so to have a dialogue with ourselves and with God and each other about Scripture that wasn’t based in fear – where there was no “wrong” way to do it – we hope is an enticing invitation to all sorts of people. Come as you are, as you were, as I want you to be, if you will,… to borrow the words of another guy who took the gloves off more than once. 

I would have liked to ask her about 174 other questions, but that would make for a very long post. Still though, I might email her sets of 5 at a time to see how long she’ll keep responding :)

Check out Disquiet Time. I think you’ll like it :)

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