IVP - Strangely Dim - Contact Papers

February 16, 2009

Contact Papers

One of the things about becoming an author is that your intersection with the world expands. No longer are you known only by people you've met, you're now known by people you've not met. And every so often those unmet readers introduce themselves to you.

I've met a variety of people through the Internet, some of whom introduce themselves to me as being fans of my writing. Go figure. I'm occasionally interrupted, for example, by an instant message from an undergraduate student in Wisconsin who tells me I remind her of Donald Miller. She's always writing funny stuff like that. And while in Miami one week I met a guy, quite serendipitously, who's read "everything [I've] ever written." We talked together and prayed together, and we've since continued our conversation through the World Wide Web.

I'm starting to think that books are, more than anything, springboards to a more particular, more meaningful conversation. For someone who makes his living in the publishing industry, I actually hold a relatively low view of books--not low in the sense that I think they're silly or meaningless but in the sense that they, like a "low church," are at their best when they close the gap between the inherent mystique of the thing and the lived worldview of its constituency.

Books, regardless of their particular depth or shallowness, can function as icebreakers that give people entry into one another's lives. From there we can move to weightier, more existential conversations--the newly discovered past abuse of a loved one and its impact on an adult relationship; the suspicion that God is calling someone to a dramatic shift in their life's trajectory; the nagging perplexity of a God who seems appealing and a religious system that seems oppressive. The best books carry content that's worth reading, but they go further by inviting the reader to go further--into an idea and into community. The best books, then, allow that there is a universe beyond them, and they seek to make meaningful contact.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at February 16, 2009 7:11 AM Bookmark and Share

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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