Smythe&Helwys, the publisher of Christian Civility in an Uncivil World, sent me a list of questions that they thought you would like to know the answers to. I gace each question a lot of thought. In most cases my answers could have been much longer. Here goes.

1. How would you describe your calling and mission as a writer and as a Christian?

            My calling as a Christian is to live a life that reflects my faith in Jesus and that causes others to want to share in that faith. My calling and mission as a Christian writer is to communicate the love of God and the blessings of being a member of His family to everyone I can in the simplest and most loving way possible. I want to encourage and help others to share their faith and convictions in ways that glorify God and honors fellow Christians. 

2. Which books have had the greatest impact on your ministry?

            It would be difficult to name all of the books that have influenced my life. Other than the Bible, five that have had great influence on me are: As a Man Thinketh by James Allen, Communicating for Life by Quentin Schultze, Uncommon Decency by Richard Mouw, Words That Hurt, Words That Heal by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin and The Power of Positive Thinking. by Norman Vincent Peale.
3. How important do you feel writing is in the world of religion?

            Writing is important for many reasons. Many people are drawn to reading who would not listen to a sermon. Many are drawn to reading for inspiration, encouragement, comfort and entertainment. Others are seeking explanations, information, clarification or guidance. There must be a variety of resources available and at varying levels for all of these seekers. Books and articles can be read and digested when there are small tidbits of time available or while waiting for other things to happen. The Internet opens a great venue for both writers and readers.

4. When did you first become interested in writing?

            I became interested in writing in the sixth grade when our teacher introduced us to poetry and then had us practice writing poems of our own. After initially dismissing the idea, I experienced some success and was hooked. My first paid story was published when I was in the eighth grade.

5. What are the great joys in writing for you?

            The great joy in writing for me is when I receive a note or telephone call from someone who tells me that a particular piece has helped him or her in some way. After I wrote about the death of my first wife, a woman called to say that she had posted the article on her refrigerator so she could read it often and that it had helped her re-engage life after a difficult and traumatic situation. 

6. What events led up to you writing Christian Civility in an Uncivil World?

            Christian Civility in an Uncivil World, grew out of my deep concern about the direction rhetoric is taking in our society and especially the way many denominations, churches and individuals are treating one another. Some groups are taking out full page newspaper advertisements denouncing and demonizing other Christian organizations. My experiences at the Chautauqua Institution in New York State and with the John Hamrick Lectures at First Baptist Church of Charleston, SC let me experience that people of different backgrounds, experiences, and faith traditions could engage in civil discourse without rancor. Because of my background in the field of communication, I felt a deep calling to use whatever knowledge, skills and abilities I have to help Christians of all backgrounds find a way to communicate with and about each other and with non-Christians in a way that would glorify God.
7. How do you feel Christian Civility in an Uncivil World can impact the reader and/or small groups?

            My prayer is that individual Christians as well as small groups will receive the book in the spirit that it is written and that each person will consider its message. I hope that small groups will discuss the issues thoroughly and then resolve to help change the dialogue in their faith community. My greatest hope is that the book with its distinguished list of religious thinkers will help move us toward a dialogue that creates more understanding than heat and disrespect. We will never agree on all the issues that divide us, but we can agree to respect each other as brothers and sisters in Christ with the same Creator.
8. Briefly describe your current ministry.

            I am an active lay member of my church where I serve on the diaconate. I am deeply involved in promoting Say Something Nice Sunday on the first Sunday in June each year and hope to see it adopted by churches and denominations nationwide. I continue to write, speak, and conduct seminars on improving communication. I am currently involved in writing a book tracing my own faith journey. My lifelong mission is to help give voice to those who have no voice.

9. Outside of your ministry, how do you enjoy spending time?

            My wife, Carol, and I enjoy traveling, attending plays and concerts and getting together with friends and family.covered bridge

10. What would readers be surprised to know about you?

            Readers might be surprised to know that I have had a passionate interest in politics since going with my dad, who was a precinct worker, to the polls when I was in elementary school. I miss the great orators of the past and am dismayed at our reliance on misleading and inaccurate sound bites.