Pointing to the blue three-ring-binder on the kitchen table, my soon-to-be-seven-years-old grandson asked, “What’s that, Papi (pronounced poppy)?”
“That’s my book,” I answered.
“Are you reading it?”
“No, I wrote it.”
“Oh,” he said. “Why?”
Why indeed. I had to think about that question a good deal when I sat down to write the preface for the book. I thought you might be interested in my answer. Here it is, as a direct quote from the preface of The Long Road from Highland Springs.
Owing to the persistent encouragement of friends—and of one close friend in particular—I managed to shake off the shroud of discouragement and consider the possibility that God might still have something for me to do. I began to imagine that the instrument through which I might serve the church most effectively could very well be Arthur Lough. The voice through which my years of experience might affect the work of the kingdom most beneficially could very well be Arthur’s.
That’s when I realized I had to write Arthur’s story. Before I could ask Christians to listen to what Arthur has to say, I needed to assure them he is a man of integrity whose voice is worth hearing, whose perspective is worth considering.
Arthur’s story is, to a great extent, my own story. Arthur is my alter ego, but he is not my clone. We are alike in many ways, and much of his life experience parallels mine, but we are different in some important ways too. I won’t offer examples here. That’s not important.
It is important, however, that readers find Arthur a credible and trustworthy character whose life experience illustrates how God can use a flawed and fallible human being to accomplish his will and bring honor to his name. As Arthur himself is fond of saying, “I have been wrongheaded and shortsighted in my life, but as far as my devotion to Christ and his kingdom is concerned, I’ve never been halfhearted.”
The book is an autobiographical novel. The story line draws heavily on my own experience. Almost all the characters are based on real people. As a chronicle of my life, the events in the book are substantively true although not precisely accurate in every particular.
My original intent was to make the book an explanation and an apologetic—that is, a defense—of the decisions I have made and the rationale behind them as I have moved from fundamentalism through mainstream evangelicalism and the Anabaptist tradition to liturgical Anglicanism. Somewhere along the line, I started to care less about what my readers think of me and more about how my story—Arthur’s story—could give them hope and encouragement in similar circumstances.
Soli Deo Gloria.