Saturday, November 24, 2012

Not Sure Dedication & Acknowlgements

         Publishing a book is very exciting. The process is also complicated and busy. Sometimes stuff gets lost along the way. When Eerdmans published my book, Not Sure, somehow the Dedication and Acknowledgements were left out of the book. Eerdmans has promised to include them in future printings. For some reason it occurred to me today that I could at least post these items on my blog. I always find dedications and acknowledgements interesting, because they say something about the author's universe not directly addressed in the book. They are a peek at what Nick Wolterstorff once called "the world behind the work." So, here's a list of some people who matter in my life!

Dedication for Not Sure: A Pastor's Journey from Faith to Doubt

For William Suk, David Suk, Mariya Meskienyar and Gillian Kupakuwana.


            I first thought I might write about how faith changed through history while I was editor-in-chief of The Banner, magazine of the Christian Reformed Church. My time there was intellectually stimulating, but also very instructive for me as a writer. My friends at The Banner were great critics and encouraged me to keep on writing after I moved on. They were a delight to work with. I wonder what I would have done without Joyce Kane, Jena VanderPloeg, Malcolm McBryde, Gary Mulder, and Tim Postuma.
Since then many people offered their support, insight, and helpful criticism. A few people, however, stepped forward to help in ways that were especially gracious and wise. While completing my PhD at Wayne State University, I commuted from Grand Rapids, MI to Detroit, and often stayed overnight with Don and Elaine Postema. We talked a lot about my studies, about the church, and about the heart of faith, usually over a glass of good sherry. I miss those days. They were more than just friends, really; they were wise surrogate parents. Lou Smedes met with me several times during my tenure as editor. His gift was being able to read between the lines of my editorials. He recognized my struggles and reached out to me with empathy, which was wonderful--but also with understanding, which I did not expect. He was a wonderful guide to the world of both doubt and faith, and encouraged me to make my own journey part of the story. Mark and Lori Vermaire are great friends who were very hospitable to Irene and I when we were far from home and I was struggling with the issues raised in this book. Bernard Brock, my advisor at Wayne State University, became a good friend and confidant. I last met him, before he passed away, in Denver while Irene and I were on our trip around North America. Our discussions about Kenneth Burke's ideas about the rhetoric of religion were very formative for this book. While I was president of the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto, I sat in on a seminar on Charles Taylor's book A Secular Age that was taught by Ron Kuipers. I learned a lot that was helpful for this book.
            Several people read partial or complete drafts of this book and offered helpful advice. One of them, Sophie Vandenberg used to write me long letters at The Banner in which she always asked me how the Reformation was going in Grand Rapids. She read an early version of this manuscript and helped me clarify my thinking a lot. Richard Middleton also read a few early chapters. While he commented on quite a few matters that were helpful, he saved me from making mistakes related to Canaanite and Persian religion. The proof of that is that I took all that out!
Nick Overduin is my best friend and so the fact that he was not only willing to read my book, but offer honest advice was a great gift. But we have also talked about the issues in this book a lot over the past few years, and those conversations helped crystallize my thinking and get it down on paper. Nandy Heule read a late version of the manuscript from the perspective of a pew-sitter who loves the church, and she saved me from many infelicities.
            My mom, Jane Suk, taught me a lot about how to hang on to what is important while letting go of what hinders.
My sons William and David offered me encouragement the whole way through. Faith has played an important part of their lives, too. I credit their honesty with me about their faith journeys, and their continual willingness to talk about their doubts, as well, for the get up and go it took me to finish this book.
Finally, Irene Oudyk-Suk, my wife and the love of my life, listened to me read chapter and verse of this book at least twice. She offered many suggestions along the way, argued with what I wrote when it was the right thing to do, and has always put up with my wavering faith and wanderlust.
While all of these friends and family members helped me, each in their own way, to finish the book, none of them are responsible for any of its weaknesses or errors. Those are all mine.

1 comment:

  1. John I just finished reading your book. Interesting.

    When my parents lived in East Africa we had one of those folding organs that you describe. I never recall it being played for any event involving the nationals. Rather it was used for my mother's enjoyment and at the Sunday evening service for missionaries. Of course since I spent most of the year away at boarding school, it is possible that the organ was used for other purposes when I was away at school.

    You seem to imply that reading a book/text using some kind of pc or ebook reader does not really count the same as reading a paper copy. I find this rather puzzling and strange.
    Dave W


What do you think?