The person behind a book blurb: Marcus Goodyear

Part 7 in the series on the generous endorsers of Finding Livelihood.

Scroll through the full series with this link.

BONUS! Keep reading for a chance to win a copy of Finding Livelihood at The High Calling

The person behind a book blurb - marcus goodyear.jpg

The final Finding Livelihood endorser I want to thank by highlighting him on this blog is Marcus Goodyear, acting Editor-in-Chief for The High Calling, a website devoted to exploring issues of faith and work. The High Calling as well as Laity Lodge are programs of the H. E. Butt Family Foundation. I’ve never met Marcus in person but he and I met online about 3 years ago when he saw a post from my blog about work-related art from The Museum of Russian Art here in Minneapolis. He sent word of the post to a colleague of his who lived near me, who then reached out to me, and the multi-layer connection was made.

I asked Marcus if we could do something different with this post compared with the others in this endorsers series. So instead of me giving a bio introduction to Marcus, he agreed to do a Q&A with me about him and his work at The High Calling and elsewhere. I love learning how people came to do what they do, and Marcus generously shares of his story here, including letting us in on his childhood career dream.

NN: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

MG: In kindergarten I wanted to work at a car wash. I was so fascinated by the machine itself, and I wanted to be near that machine. It must have been alarming to my parents for me to have drawn a picture of myself drying the windows of somebody’s car as it left the wash. I still want to be close to the machine, but now I have a better understanding of what that means. In some ways, though, an editor is still the guy who puts the polish on what the machine spits out.

Of course, I also have the more traditional answer. I wanted to be a cartoonist, because I liked the idea of telling stories. Then I wanted to be an engineer, because I loved math and statistics. Then I was editor of the newspaper and the literary magazine, and I decided that teaching English was my future.

NN: What was your path to your current position at The High Calling?

MG: I was teaching community college and high school AP English and Literature when a friend in publishing called me about a job at the H. E. Butt Family Foundation working for Mr. Butt himself. I was feeling a little stale at the time, so I tossed an application, resume, and portfolio into the mail. A few weeks later, I was interviewing at Mr. Butt’s house and we hit it off. I remember sharing my vocational approach to teaching high school English. I said something like, "The school district hired me to teach students to write, not bring them to Christ. So if I’m not careful, an evangelical stance in my classroom can be manipulative to the students and dishonoring to my employer. This means my first task is always to honor God by honoring my employer by teaching kids to write really well.” Mr. Butt was quiet for a moment, and then said, “How did you learn this at such a young age? I spent most of my life trying to learn that.”

At the time, I didn’t know where I had learned to approach the gospel in that vocational way. Now I know that Mr. Butt himself had paved the way for me. His work through Laity Lodge and the H. E. Butt Family Foundation had percolated throughout churches in Texas where I spent many of my formative years. In a sense, his life’s work led me to The High Calling even though I didn’t know it. When I was hired, The High Calling was a very small part of my job. There seemed to be so much potential there, and gradually I spent more and more time on it.

NN: How has The High Calling changed since you first became involved?

MG: Back in 2005, The High Calling was probably 10 times smaller than it is now. Each week we published a new audio message, two related devotional articles, and reprints of devotionals written by Eugene Peterson. Shortly after I came on, I started choosing the articles for each week and helping with the audio messages. By accident we discovered that writers with a strong print platform may not have a strong online platform. The Message has sold very well as a print product, for instance, but Eugene Peterson doesn’t attract much of a digital audience. At the time, bloggers attracted the biggest audience. They understood the digital space and understood how to extend digital hospitality to their readers. Gordon Atkinson first introduced us to many of these ideas, and I still remember sketching out some strategic goals on napkins at a pub years ago. As the digital, interactive landscape has changed, expanding beyond blogs to social media, we have tried to change as well. Thus, we don’t lean nearly as much on bloggers as we used to do.

NN: What’s your vision for the future of The High Calling?

MG: Now that we have a new president, David Rogers, we are taking a look at the future of all H. E. Butt Family Foundation programs, including The High Calling. Recently, we relaunched the site to create a better mobile experience for our readers, who are mostly on mobile devices. David Rogers and several of us have been talking about the future in much more comprehensive ways than just a redesign though. Without a doubt you will see some exciting things coming out of the H. E. Butt Family Foundation in the future.

NN: When you’re not working at The High Calling, what else are you working on?

MG: My family is very involved in community theater in our home town. I try to support my kids to follow their passions. My daughter plays violin in a variety of orchestras and recital groups. My son and I work on his 4-H projects together during the fall and winter. And I help coach the local First Lego League. Our robotics team is going to nationals this year!

NN: What role does leisure have in your life? How do you re-fuel? What practices help you reflect back on meaning within ordinary events of your daily work?

MG: I like board games a lot, so I torture my family with Nerd Night. They are fairly accommodating and don’t complain too much. I also like to run, and need to do that at least three or four times a week or I go a little stir crazy.

NN: You have a book of poetry called Barbies at Communion: and Other Poems, published by T. S. Poetry Press in 2010. Tell us about the writing of that volume. Are you working on another book?

MG: Poetry has become my primary form of prayer. I still write a lot of poetry, but I have pulled back from sharing it for several years. It is hard to be fully present for my family if I’m looking to take on a second job in publishing. Instead, I have chosen to engage in local projects, performing Shakespeare with my wife, raising animals with my son, coaching robotics, and all the other things I mentioned. As much as I love writing poetry, there is no time pressure to publish poetry on a national scale. A good poem today should be a good poem in five years. Every now and then I submit to various chap book contests, and I’ve been thinking of submitting another collection somewhere. We’ll see.

Finally, here's what Marcus wrote about Finding Livelihood:

"Finding Livelihood is a breath of radical honesty for the workaday Christian. Nancy Nordenson does not fear the long dark night shift of the soul, but neither does she accept it. Her real world stories of people at work inspire and challenge at every turn."

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For a chance to win a copy of Finding Livelihood, head over to The High Calling,at this link, and share where you're finding meaning in life and work this week and/or what you wanted to be when you grew up.

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You can order Finding Livelihood from: 1) the publisher, Kalos Press; 2) Amazon; or 3) me (let me know if you want it signed). Also, sign up to win a free copy from Goodreads!

Finding Livelihood is also now available at Hearts & Minds Books for 20% off.

The person behind a book blurb: Gregory Wolfe

Part 6 in the series on the generous endorsers of Finding Livelihood.

Scroll through the full series with this link.

Gregory Wolfe.jpg

I'm delighted to post this next installment of the Finding Livelihood endorser series in honor of Greg Wolfe. Greg is a key force behind and presence in the art-faith conversation that is so vital to cultural stewardship. He and his wife Suzanne started Image Journal in 1989. I think I'm correct in saying they started it and produced it for many years from within their own apartment and at great personal sacrifice. Today it is one of the top five literary quarterlies in terms of paid subscriptions.

In an interview posted on the Image site, Greg said this about starting the journal: "On a fairly obvious level we founded Image to show that great literature and art informed by or grappling with Judeo-Christian faith could still be made. That’s the standard rationale. But another key aspect of our approach was to push back against the near-total domination of the cultural airwaves by secondary discourse, which was (and still often is) highly politicized." Other programs spearheaded by Greg include the Glen Workshop, Image Conference and other lecture events, Milton Center Postgraduate Fellowship, and Shaw Fellowship, and finally near and dear to my heart, the MFA program in creative writing at Seattle Pacific University.

The tagline for the Glen Workshop is "a week can change your life." I first went to a Glen Workshop in 2004 after learning about it when a friend of mine gave me a couple pages from an Image essay by Annie Dillard, and not recognizing the name of the journal, I googled it and discovered the workshop and that Lauren Winner was going to be teaching a track on spiritual writing. I signed up and life indeed was never the same. It's fair to say that Greg's life work has changed my life.

Greg is the author of Beauty Will Save the World: Recovering the Human in An Ideological Age, Intruding Upon the Timeless, and Malcolm Muggeridge: A Biography, as well as several books co-authored with Suzanne Wolfe. Greg is also the editor of several anthologies, including Bearing the Mystery and God With Us.

From Beauty Will Save the World:

Art, like religious faith in general and prayer in particular has the power to help us transcend the fragmented society we inhabit. We live in a Babel of antagonistic tribes – tribes that speak only the language of race, class, rights, and ideology. That is why the intuitive language of the imagination is so vital. Reaching deep into our collective thoughts and memories, great art sneaks past our shallow prejudices and brittle opinions to remind us of the complexity and mystery of human existence. The imagination calls us to leave our personalities behind and temporarily to inhabit another's experience, looking at the world with new eyes. Art invites us to meet the Other – whether that be our neighbor or the infinite otherness of God – and to achieve a new wholeness of spirit.

You can find Greg's books on the Image site, his website, and on his Amazon page. If you haven't read anything by Greg, start with this piece in The Wall Street Journal, then dip into some online pieces from back issues of Image, then dig into Beauty Will Save the World. Consider a Glen Workshop and a subscription to Image.

Finally, here's what Greg wrote about Finding Livelihood:

"Nordenson's prose is beautifully polished, lucid, and imaginative."

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You can now order Finding Livelihood from: 1) the publisher, Kalos Press; 2) Amazon; or 3) me (let me know if you want it signed). Also, sign up to win a free copy from Goodreads!

The person behind a book blurb: Emilie Griffin

Part 5 in the series on the generous endorsers of Finding Livelihood.

Scroll through the full series with this link.

When I search for Emilie Griffin’s name in the Library of Congress online catalog, 27 titles are returned, including books she’s written, contributed to, or edited. Here are just a handful of the books she’s written: Small Surrenders: A Lenten Journey; The Reflective Executive: A Spirituality of Business and Enterprise; Clinging: The Experience of Prayer;Wilderness Time: A Guide for Spiritual Retreat; and Souls in Full Sail: A Christian Spirituality for the Later Years. Her bio is more textured, however, than the titles of her books would suggest. She also had a long career as an award-winning advertising copywriter and executive in NYC. That she knows so well this intersection between spirituality and the marketplace intrigues me enormously.

Emilie Griffin.jpg

I have heard Emilie Griffin speak only once, about 10 years ago, and it made a lasting impact on me, particularly when contrasted with another event. Just a couple days before hearing her speak at a Renovaré conference, I had been to another spiritual formation-type event where the keynote speaker owned the theatrically-lit stage with her choreographed moves and dramatic memorized oratory. I went home and wrote in my journal, “Is this entertainment or content? Probably more entertainment. It discouraged me quite a bit.” In contrast, for her talk at Renovaré, Griffin stayed at the lectern and spoke in a simple style, referring to her notes. About her, I afterward wrote in my journal, “she was marvelous…and said so many wonderfully rich things.” Authenticity and depth win, in my opinion.

After hearing Griffin speak, I bought The Reflective Executive at the book table and found a kindred spirit. It was the first book I had seen about spirituality in the marketplace. Here’s an excerpt:

"God is here! He is actually present! It is not beneath him to dwell on the Staten Island ferry, heading for Lower Manhattan. He is willing to descend with us into the underground chambers of the subway, to be with us in discomfort, boredom, alienation. He accompanies us to the boardroom. He attends the year-end meeting. In the community formed by us, by colleagues, by purchasers, buyers and sellers, customers satisfied and unsatisfied, he is present, bearing our sorrows, acquainted with grief.

What a contrast to our common way of thinking: that business, which is by its very nature materialistic, somehow has to be spiritualized. The reality is otherwise. It is our mistake to think that we will somehow take business, which is unholy, and by some sacrifice or offering, make it holy. That tragic mistake is the crucial error we must expose. To correct this false notion we need not only action but contemplation.

Contemplation is the radical work of the marketplace. Reflection is our passage to reality, to a new understanding, a different consciousness. In reality it is God, not we, who initiates the transformation of the world. We are here not to transform but to be transformed, to accept the changes that grace will bring about.”

Emilie is also a retreat leader, editor, and playwright, and a founding member of the Chrysostom Society. Treat yourself to a couple of her titles here at her Amazon page, and read a fuller – although outdated – bio of Emilie here.

Finally, here's what Emilie wrote about Finding Livelihood:

"Finding Livelihood is deeply felt and deeply satisfying to the reader. Nordenson grapples with hard questions and avoids easy answers. Of work itself she writes: “You take the first steps in a state of delight, equipped with skill or talent, ready to make a difference. But the path is never straight, and it takes you through places you never envisioned.” Nordenson's book is practical, powerful, and rooted in biblical wisdom and the wisest thought of the Western tradition. With a light step, and gratitude, Nordenson teaches us to deal with jagged changes and ugly surprises, “to live and work in the flow of God's love.”

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You can now pre-order Finding Livelihood from: 1) the publisher, Kalos Press; 2) Amazon; or 3) me (ask if you want it signed). Ordered books will be mailed on release date of April 15, 2015 - tax day!