Why this Book?
(From the author's journal)
Years ago I walked the aisles of bookstores and libraries around metropolitan Washington, D.C., searching for a novel for my then teenage children that would tell the New Testament story without turning them off. The book I was looking for would electrify the imaginations of Ana Maria and Joshua and open them up to the thrilling possibilities of a spiritual journey as relevant to today’s world as it was two millennia ago. It would take them on an adventure that would teach profound lessons about how to live their lives – ethically, energized by love, and in service to the disadvantage peoples of our world. In spite of my efforts, I was unable to find such a book. One day, in a bookstore corridor it finally struck me: that book was not waiting on a shelf somewhere for me to come upon it. To find it, I would have to write it.
My inspiration led me – after many years of research, meditation, and writing – to finish Yeshu: a novel for the open-hearted. It’s a book that I believe will be welcomed by seekers young and old who will encounter an engaging cast of characters gathered round a warm, lively, and accessible Yeshu.
I’m convinced that a reader searching for answers to life’s questions – in these times when violence and anger so easily penetrate the world in which our youth are coming of age – will welcome a stimulating reexamination and reframing of the hopeful messages embedded in our Judeo-Christian stories and traditions. Simultaneously, at the heart of the novel is a recurring theme that speaks to the epic environmental challenge that our earth community now faces. Largely through Yeshu’s wilderness-walking, second cousin – Yohanan – the book explores the means to transform our society by reconnecting it with the natural world that has been such a powerful stage and inspiration for so many spiritual awakenings of the past. It is my hope that this melding of spirit with nature will speak directly to modern readers, engaging them in a life-giving dialogue with their own hearts.
I believe I’ve written a book that rather than merely preaching to the choir will help the choir find its true singing voice. The very human Yeshu in my novel has learned to listen as well as to speak. Within close reach of all, this is a man who defies conventional wisdom, emerging from the villages and fields to lead a spiritual movement so vibrant, energetic, and liberating that it threatens both the Roman occupiers and the local church hierarchy...and then goes on to thrive for more than two millennia.
Memorial Church, Stanford University,
with mosaic of the Sermon on the Mount
In my book, Yeshu touches common folks, especially the young and the disadvantaged, changing them forever. But above all, the story demonstrates how the youthful protagonist Daavi, and his sister Shoshana, are shaped by Yeshu’s words and actions. Yeshu the inspiring, storytelling, salt-of-the-earth carpenter who believed that children have even greater spiritual potential than adults.
As a published author for four decades and a performing storyteller for even longer, as well as an international development professional for 45 years and a single father for 20, I feel that I may be in a unique position to communicate a fresh, engrossing Yeshu narrative not only to youth, but to readers of all ages. Six published short stories crafted from my book have already been well-received by such readers. In 2011, one of those pieces was given a national award by the Associated Church Press, within the category of “Seasonal Story.”
As for my first two children, they are now adults, but they have had a hand in my recrafting of the book over the years. Now they share it with their soon-to-be teenaged sister Lily, who is one of YESHU’s biggest fans.