Thursday, February 04, 2010

Will Jesus Buy Me a Doublewide?

Debra and I were guests at the home of former Panama City mayor Gerry Clemons and his wife Barbara tonight. Their daughter, Kathie Bennett, arranged a dinner party for some authors she represents who are in town for Saturday's "Books Alive" festival. These included Masha Hamilton, Tori McClure, and Karen Zacharias, whose new book debuts this weekend.

(Also present were friends and acquaintances including Michael Lister, Janice Lucas, Virginia Dixon, Bettina Meade, and many others.)
Debra used her phone to shoot this photo of me talking with Gerry (and I am reminded once again that I need to lose some weight). We had just come in from the deck, which overlooks St. Andrew Bay. It's a gorgeous view. An osprey lives in the area, and some mornings when Gerry gets up, the huge bird is perched on the deck rail.

The highlight of the evening was Karen reading from her new book and sharing great stories about the process. (Her agent sold the book based on the title; he called to tell her he had sold the book, and she said, "but I haven't written it yet!")Karen is a gracious lady, with a giving spirit and a real love of Jesus. It comes through in her writing and it becomes obvious when she's talking. She's a former newspaper journalist, but don't hold that against her. The result of that combination makes for a thoughtful, well researched, humorous, touching, and highly readable collection of essays about the people living and working and helping each other through this terrible downturn in the economy -- as well as those who are raking in the money by selling desperate souls on the false religion of prosperity.

Listen. You don't follow Jesus to get rich. And being poor doesn't mean you aren't godly enough, or that if you were closer to God you'd be blessed with riches. The men and women who tell you such things are false prophets, twisting the Bible to their own ends.

You should read this book. Not "The Secret." Read about the Entrepreneur, the Marine, the Redhead. You should read it, if for no other reason than for her chapter on the "jubilee" in Mobile Bay (a time of year when the oxygen level in the water drops precipitously and fish surface by the thousands, where they are picked off my gigs and nets and buckets).

Tomorrow, I will be following Kathie around to Bay High and Mosley High, and probably to FSU-PC, where I'll observe her authors in sessions with students and in writing workshops. Friday night is the pre-Books Alive "get acquainted" gathering at Bay Point, where guest authors meet their assigned moderators. I'll bring you some anecdotes and photos from those experiences. And then Saturday of course is the big event.

Maybe I'll see you there?


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