Saturday, August 29, 2009

Humane Borders




Having roots, I think, in the Sanctuary Movement, Humane Borders is a group of conscientious, concerned, and religiously motivated people who provide warnings and water for those who are crossing the border illegally.

Illegal immigrants cross the border in the same general areas as do smugglers, and Tucson is ground zero. The red dots on the map to the left indicate the locations of the bodies of illegals found in the desert. The map is a warning to those who are contemplating the long, three day walk (on the map, in Spanish: "Tres Dias Caminando") through the desert to civilization (i.e., Tucson).






Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How I Wrote The World Perceived

I faced a daunting task that late November afternoon when I began work on the book that would become The World Perceived. How does one say what one thinks? I had it all put together in my head, my mind was able to correlate and integrate all of the information I had gathered over the years, but how do I put that on paper for someone to read? My mind can instantaneously search out and put together the concepts I’ve formed, which are an integration of (and hopefully a furthering of) all that I’ve read previously. But the reader of a book can’t remember the concept I read about ten years ago, or how that concept relates to another concept I’d learned about from a book which I’d read before that. If I want someone to know these things I will have to spell them out; literally. Because that’s what writing is.

I had adopted very basic theological and philosophical idea, which I’d formulated over the years, now I needed to put that idea down on paper. I don’t remember now exactly what I began to write, that late November afternoon when the writing officially began, but I do remember beginning to write down my thoughts—about practically everything theological and philosophical—with a pen on a pad of paper. Writing my thoughts about something in particular was not new to me, but writing my thoughts about everything in general, with the goal of somehow organizing these writings into something coherent, like a well written book, was a completely new thing for me. I wasn’t sure how I would do it but I thought I would able to.

I’ve heard it said that the fully accomplished reader is someone who, having enjoyed reading many books over the years, becomes the writer of a book that others can enjoy reading. It’s certainly true that good readers make better writers, and it’s also true that the great books, which have been written over the centuries, make for a great conversation of which we, as the readers, are a part. And it’s up to us to further this conversation by adding our own written contributions to it. I’ve also heard it said that, concerning non-fiction books, one should refrain from writing a book before their fortieth birthday; because one will probably write something that one will later regret. As I was over forty years of age when I began writing The World Perceived, I figured I was on relatively safe ground here.

Basically, how I wrote The Word Perceived can be seen in the outline of the book. The book is broken down into three sections: how we think about the world (chapters one and two), how we perceive the world (chapters two and three), and how we live in the world (chapters four, five and six). This allows the readers to follow my own progression toward the concepts expressed in the book and it also allows the readers to make their own progression toward these concepts. In short, to properly understand the last three chapters of my book (the concepts) one must read the three chapters that precede them (an examination of our presuppositions).

My favorite part of the book The World Perceived is in Chapter Three: the geocentric versus the heliocentric conception of the universe. This, more than anything else, was the inspiration for the book. The Copernican Revolution was the biggest black eye modern science has ever given the Church and the Bible. And the skeptics, atheists, and antitheists are forever reminding Christians of that bruising, which occurred over five hundred years ago, yet the Copernican Revolution also raises a lot of questions concerning perception, which have been overlooked. The Bible says the sun moves across the sky, which it appears to do, but modern science has proven that it doesn’t. But the sun does appear to be moving. So is the Bible wrong in its description of the world? Is modern science correct? Even more importantly, what difference does it make? This one example—the geocentric versus the heliocentric conception of the universe—is probably the best working example of the differences between scientific and religious presuppositions, perceptions, and attitudes toward the world.

Chapter Three of The World Perceived, which is also the longest chapter of the book, contains three practical examples of conflicting religious and scientific views of the world, and illustrates for the readers how our thinking about the world affects our perception of the world; something many people don’t even realize. These examples allow the reader to see—in action—our thinking about the world affecting our perception of the world. For example, the creation versus evolution controversy is really a controversy over presuppositions, not (supposedly neutral) scientific facts.

The theological portion of the book, which was easiest for me to write, is found in the last three chapters. The first three chapters were the most difficult for me to write because I needed to simplify my own intellectual progression toward the concepts I’d formed in such a way that the readers could follow my thinking. This entailed explaining things I’d taken for granted and not really given much thought to actually expressing, but by writing them out I also gained new insights and I was able to understand my own thinking better. After a year of writing The World Perceived in spiral notebooks, I sat down with my new laptop (with the blank screen in Word 2007) and began the book anew, using the spiral notebooks as a very rough draft of the book. This is how the real work of writing and putting together the book began, and it was a lot of work doing so. As I said, writing always entails rewriting, and rewriting’s a lot of work too. But it always pays to rewrite. One’s first draft is always a diamond in the rough no matter how great a writer one might think oneself to be.

After my first year of writing the book on a computer, I printed out a manuscript of the book to read, and it was terrible. After what was now two years of writing, the book seemed almost unreadable to me. Back to work rewriting the book. After another year went by I had produce what I believed to be a publishable manuscript. I had gotten involved with Amazon’s CreateSpace by this point, so I uploaded my book interior and cover files and ordered a proof copy of the book. The proof needed a lot of work, so it was back to rewriting for me. Another proof was ordered, read, corrected, the book completely rewritten and the cover redesigned. Another proof was ordered, read, corrected, and the book rewritten yet again. But I was happy with this version of the book. In fact, much like I knew I had finished writing my very first draft in the spiral notebooks, I knew this was my final rewrite. I had done all I could do: imperfect, but what isn’t? I realigned the book’s cover for the last time, uploaded the files, ordered the proof, approved it, and submitted it to that great conversation, which I spoke of earlier.

In short, how I wrote this book was the hard way. I hope my next book is much easier to write. It should be, but it’ll probably take me ten years to write it. For a writer’s first book, I think The World Perceived is pretty intense, because I’ve put so much work into it. For twenty dollars, I think the readers certainly get their money’s worth out of it. And I never intended to make any money from writing this book either. It was something I had to write and I’m happy if anyone enjoys reading it. That’s the greatest reward of writing. That and being able to influence people’s thinking!

Why I Wrote The World Perceived

Why I Wrote The World Perceived

I wrote my book The World Perceived because, after many years of studying theology and philosophy, I couldn’t find a book that reflected the theological and philosophical conclusions I had come to. I was looking for a book that would use phenomenology as a philosophical superstructure for the construction of a new sort of theology, one that valued phenomenal appearances. And since I was unable to find such a book, I decided to write one.

Writing can be very difficult work. I’d many written articles and papers over the years, but never anything approaching the length of a book. Because I’m well aware of how much rewriting is required in order to produce a decent article or paper, I knew that writing a book would require an incredible amount of rewriting, which it certainly has. In short, the task of writing the book I wanted to write would be a great challenge for me.

I began the work of writing the book in November 2005. I had moved to Pennsylvania to be close to my mother after my father’s death six months earlier. I was beginning a new chapter in my life, I was approaching my forty-seventh birthday, and I had in my mind the idea for this book that I wanted to write and I realized the time was right for me to begin writing it. After all the reading, studying, and thinking I had done over the years, I knew I was ready to write the book I was unable to find.

I wanted the book to outline the theological conclusions I had come to, but I also wanted it to be relatively easy to understand. Due to the philosophical nature of theological writings, this was not an easy thing to do. And I’m not even sure just how well I’ve managed to do it. In many ways, this book was to be the book I wish I’d been able to read when I was younger, say in my early twenties. My intention was to write the book in such a way that young seminary students would find the concepts expressed in the book intellectually stimulating and that these concepts would inform their own theological reflections and writings.

I imagine someone who is interested in theology, perhaps a seminary student, reading the book, grasping its most basic concepts, and keeping them in mind as they put together their own theological beliefs. If my book can help just one person to become a better theological thinker, I will be forever thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to write it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

New Theology Book Explores Phenomenal Reality

August 24, 2009 – Tucson, AZ –A.J. MacDonald, Jr.—a student of theology and philosophy for many years and lay member of Saint Francis Cabrini Catholic Church in Tucson, Arizona—has recently (August 2009) released his new book: The World Perceived: A Theological and Phenomenological Approach to Thinking, Perceiving, and Living In-The-World (Trade paperback, 275 pp. w/index, 5.5 x 8.5, $16.00), which is now available online from Amazon.com.

The World Perceived explores how we think about the world, how we perceive the world, and how we choose to live our lives in-the-world. The author constructs a biblical theology of appearances which illustrates how the biblical description of reality is of far greater relevance to us than are the descriptions of reality given to us by modern science and popular science writers. The study of reality may belong to philosophers, scientists, metaphysicians, and theologians, but the responsibility of making a decision regarding what that reality is belongs to everyone and The World Perceived was written in order to aid the reader in making this decision an informed one.

In considering the epistemological basis of science as a form of knowledge and the assumptions implicit within the modern scientific worldview, The World Perceived invites the reader on an intellectual journey into the world of phenomenal reality. The author makes a strong case for the validity of the biblical description of the world and of reality by demonstrating how the modern scientific descriptions of the world and of reality are in no way superior to the biblical description.

By using three examples of conflicting scientific and biblical descriptions of the world and of reality—the geocentric versus the heliocentric conception of the universe, creation versus evolution, and absolute time versus relative time—The World Perceived demonstrates the Bible’s relevancy to the modern world, which is so often hostile to both religion and the Bible, like no other book on the market today. Written for the seminary student, the believing or unbelieving college student, the skeptic, and the general reader who is interested in such matters, The World Perceived is a wonderful introduction to how we, as Christians, should be thinking, perceiving, and living in-the-world.

For more information about The World Perceived, or to schedule an interview, please contact A.J. MacDonald, Jr. by email at: ajmacdonaldjr@gmail.com, or on the web at: http://www.theworldperceived.freewebspace.com/.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Launching an Imperfect Book into an Imperfect World

I've finished work on my book: The World Perceived, and it can now be purchased online. The book is a 275 page trade paperback, which sells for $16.00+shipping. I've put a lot of work into writing it, so you will definately get your moneys worth.

I look at it like this, I have to stop writing at some point...and this is it. After more than ten years of reading, research, and rumination, three and a half years of writing (and rewriting), and three proof copies, I have now launched an imperfect book into an imperfect world.

As of today, the book is only available at my createspace e-store, but it will be available directly from amazon.com in about two weeks.

If you would like to purchase a copy of the book, please follow the link below:

https://www.createspace.com/3359491

If you would like to peruse the book, the FREE e-book edition is always available for downloading at theworldperceived.freewebspace.com

Thanks