An ad promoting a trip to Glacier National Park

I enjoy listening to the “Car Talk” guys on public radio, even their occasional references to their online store of over-priced merchandise, which they call the “shameless commerce” division.

Today I offer my own poor attempt at shameless commerce to mention that my most recent book arrived at the publisher’s warehouse a week or two ago. It’s now available for sale, and not even over-priced.

The book is called Telling Stories: Tall Tales and Deep Truths. It’s an eclectic collection of original short stories, mostly, that I’ve written through the years with a biblical text in mind. Each chapter begins with a (hopefully) engaging story that segues, one way or another, into a reflection on the text.

In a sense, it’s my take on “narrative preaching,” which can describe a variety of preaching styles, all of which involve storytelling. I can’t say it’s the best preaching I’ve ever done, but through the years, I’ve had more requests for copies of story-based homilies like these than for more traditional sermons.

The stories include various genres, from tales that could have happened to fantasy forays into the worlds of elves and dwarves and dragons. One takes the poetic shape of a Dr. Seuss book, and two offer scripts for really unusual Christmas plays. Other stories give voices to eagles, bunnies, and ordinarily inanimate objects — like Peter’s fishing boat or the water jar carried by the “woman at the well.”

One of my favorite stories happens to be true — an account of how my second cousin Rae came to acquire (and enjoy) a reputation as a country voodoo woman. Hers was a story begging to be told, and it finally gave me a workable way to develop a reflection on the so-called “witch of Endor,” who reportedly brought up the ghost of Samuel for a beleaguered Saul.

Smyth & Helwys will have the book in Memphis during the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship meeting, and they’re always available online. If you buy the book but later decide it’s a shameful waste of paper, just send your dog-eared copy to me and I’ll be glad to personally refund your money.

Then I’ll probably write a story about you, and relate it to the farmer who looks back from the plow.

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