The launch party for The Book of Paul took place on the evening of the summer solstice. It was a great turnout, a wonderful group, and lots of fun for all. About ten minutes before the solstice I expressed my gratitude to everyone for sharing in the celebration and for all the support and encouragement along the way. I gave some personal shout outs on the book’s acknowledgements page – one of which bears repeating here – my wife Ariane Zurcher to whom TBOP is dedicated. Her honesty, courage, compassion, determination and perseverance are a constant source of inspiration. It’s really nice to have a positive role model living in the same house. Even nicer for our children.
Ariane has read the book cover-to-cover at least ten times over the years, no easy feat considering she is extremely sensitive and squeamish. She refuses to ever read again the scene where Martin, Paul and Momma…
Well, I can’t even bring myself to say it… (psst…it’s the chapter entitled: Surprise!)
Ariane is an artist, jewelry designer and a very talented writer. She has a blog called Emma’s Hope Book that chronicles our family’s journey navigating the ever-evolving world of our ten-year-old daughter Emma, who is autistic. Ariane also writes for the Huffington Post and will be covering the Aspen Ideas Festival for them. We leave for Colorado tomorrow.
Other dear friends we met in Colorado were in attendance, including two of my favorite authors – Elaine Pagels and James H. Cone. A few months ago we hosted a party to celebrate the publication of James’ The Cross and the Lynching Tree, a powerful, horrifying account of lynching in America – and the spectacular hypocrisy of “Christian” white-supremacists who routinely tortured and murdered innocent black men and women. The things they did make Paul look like a Hare Krishna. At James’ party, after complimenting him on his incredibly moving and beautifully-written book, I added, “You know James, I just don’t feel as happy as I used to feel about being white.”
Insert braying laughter from James.
Elaine Pagels is the author of The Gnostic Gospels and the newly released and utterly compelling Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation. Elaine’s meticulous research, keen insights and superb writing are also a huge inspiration. I’m hoping to get a thumbs-up (or sideways) for my efforts regarding the Hermetic/Gnostic connection in TBOP. Being the uncompromisingly honest and direct person that she is, I’m quite sure Elaine will point out any research lapses — or the utter preposterousness of my interpretations and conclusions.
Both Elaine and James sometimes refer to themselves as theologians. They teach, they write, they lecture about Christianity. Both have huge, loyal followings, as well they should, because they are as intelligent and insightful as they are honest. Which, as we all know, is far from the norm in the God business.
My interest in religion, mythology and ancient cultures goes back as far as I can remember. Science was equally fascinating to me as boy. I wanted to know. I wanted answers. I loved the mystery and the wonder. My Catholic upbringing was less than satisfying in every respect, particularly in the honesty category.
I know James and Elaine get their fair share of hate mail for speaking out against the close-minded thinking and just plain idiocy of the multitudes who profess to lead rigorously moral lives, while rabidly attacking anyone who doesn’t share their beliefs. I’m quite certain I’ll rack up a pile of bile too. Fictional or not, some people just can’t stomach opposing viewpoints. Some might even go so far as to say, “Hey, that tree looks like it’ll hold some weight.”
The great consolation will be knowing I’m in such splendid company. Peace and love, one and all.