May 6 talk – Dr. Watson’s Wednesdays @ Whenever about Whatever
I think all my fellow clergy colleagues would agree that our job descriptions have changed dramatically in the last couple of months. This past Sunday we here at Immanuel held our first pre-recorded and fully edited Facebook Live Watch Party virtual worship service. At the beginning of this year, I could not have told you what any of that means.
Before all this happened, we had a Monday night study and discussion group that we have been calling “Faith Exploration,” which is exactly what we do. After a couple of months off, we began this past Monday with a morning and evening group gathering on Zoom to read and discuss my most recent book.
So, today I thought I would promote our gathering and put in a shameless plug for my book, published last year, with the provocative title, An UnDevotional: Jesus is Still Speaking Through the Gospel of Luke. Before I explain the weird title, let me explain the subtitle.
To do so, I need to back up a few years. I think it was 2011 when I decided to try my hand at publishing, opting for self-publishing because, well, no one knew me. I could not even find an agent. Still have not, by the way, but I do not think that is necessary for someone like me.
Anyway, the title of that book is Jesus is Still Speaking Through the Gospel of Mark, which was not much of a challenge to write. This is not a big secret: It is basically a collection of my sermons on the Gospel of Mark that I had written through the years.
Side note: I did not, and do not, expect any of my books to ever make a big splash. When I published my second book—my first “real” book, if you will—titled Big Jesus (which I will discuss at a future date here), I was told by my publisher, Wipf & Stock, that only family and friends will buy and read 99% of all books published. If you give them to your family as gifts, and you do not have many friends, well, do the math. That does not add up much in terms of royalties.
Back to Jesus is Still Speaking Through the Gospel of Mark and now, Jesus is Still Speaking Through the Gospel of Luke. Those of you in the United Church of Christ will recognize the connection with a favorite UCC motto: God is still speaking. This comes from a Gracie Allen quote (the wife of George Burns), who said, “Never place a period where God has placed a comma.”
Ever since our media and promotion folks discovered that, we have been known as the “comma people.” (That is quite a radical assertion when you think about it, because a lot of Christian groups out there believe God is more prone to using periods than commas.) So, this is where the title of the Mark book and the subtitle for my recent book on Luke came from.
Now, I will talk about the title of this book: An Undevotional. I can give you three reasons for this title:
Reason #1: I am not a saint. (Some of you can surely attest to that, although please do not include any of that in the comment section.) On the back cover of the book I include this sentence: “Watson believes nothing is more pretentiously self-pious than to write something and call it a ‘devotional’ unless one has already been canonized as a saint.”
Obviously, I am being sarcastic, which is pretty much my downfall. If I had a life coach, she would tell me to slow down or come to a screeching halt with the snark and sarcasm. However, I agree with the saying, “A little snark, properly directed, can change the world.” If you do not think my goal is to change the world, then you haven’t been paying attention.
Reason #2 for the title, An Undevotional is found in the Introduction to the book: “By ‘undevotional’ I’m harkening back to the days when (m)ad men in business suits used to call 7-UP the ‘Un-Cola.’ By calling 7-UP the Un-Cola, they were not saying that 7-UP was less tasty than the dark colas; they were saying that 7-UP just did not quite look like the other colas. Well, this book does not look exactly like a devotional based on the Gospel of Luke. Nevertheless, it tastes just as good and, in fact, is better for you if you have an upset stomach.”
So, there you have it. This book is like medicine for the Christian. The Chicken Soup for the Soul books have nothing on me.
Reason #3 for the weird title: I also write about this in my introduction. Several years ago, I wrote some devotionals for the United Church of Christ, which they publish daily on the national website. They were publishing about one a month for me as a guest writer. After about a year of that, they stopped publishing them.
When I inquired about it, I was told that I did not fit the demographic they were looking for as a devotional writer. They meant that I’m “male, pale, and stale,” which I apologize for, although short of a gender reassignment, a doctored-up DNA test to show that I’m not 100% Euro-American, or the discovery of the Fountain of Youth, I’m pretty much stuck in my demographic. My point is, if, for whatever reason I am not qualified to write a devotional, then at least I can write an undevotional.
Now for an invitation: if you would like to join with me and others via Zoom on Mondays at 10 a.m. or 7 p.m. to slowly work our way through my book, An Undevotional, please send me a private message. We are just getting started so you have time to order a copy and join us whenever you can.
In the meantime, do not let a day go by without reading something informative, funny, or inspiring. Take care, wear a mask in public, wash your hands, and keep your distance.