At long, long last, God, Improv, and the Art of Living will drop next week. I hope lots of people read and enjoy it. But it's not for everyone--no book is, of course. So in that spirit, and to save my book from falling into the wrong hands, here's how to know whether you should buy and read my book or not. (Smile) Your life always goes according to plan. If you’re someone for whom life perpetually just “works out”—you make a plan and live it out, no obstacles, no surprises, until you placidly die in your sleep at age 90—wow. Congratulations. Here’s one less book for your Goodreads list. Isn’t that a relief?
You like books that stay in one lane. I’ve been calling this book “Brené Brown meets Tina Fey.” In this book you’ll get everything from neuroscience to folklore to a quote from Friends. If such cross-disciplinary eclecticism doesn’t appeal to you, stay away.
You like your God to toe the party line. I write from my perspective as a pastor, and a free-range pastor besides, who bumps up against all kinds of spiritual but not religious people who see the world in different ways. From that vantage point, I question a lot of the things many of us have been taught about God. I dare to suggest that maybe God doesn’t have a plan. Perhaps God—however we understand that Great Whatever—interacts with human beings and the greater world in ways very different from the usual ideas of a sovereign being. And so, if you’re worried that members of your church will see this book tucked under your arm and turn you in to the Calvinist Heretic Police, please, don’t take the chance.
“The Way We’ve Always Done It” is working great for your congregation/organization. This book is for individuals, but with an eye toward teams, companies, churches, and other organizations… but only if your organization is finding itself having to navigate a set of challenges and cultural forces with no road map. I mean… that’s most organizations anymore, but perhaps you got lucky. Good! (When’s your book coming out?)
You like reading books that allow you to remain unchanged. Hey. I’m romantic enough to say that all reading changes us in some way, even books meant solely to entertain. But this book is written with an express purpose: to get you (and me) thinking about life, and how to live it in more vibrant, creative, generous ways. It’s baked right into the book's structure (seven principles of improv and how to apply them to our lives, with reflection questions and exercises) and content (see point 2 above).
But if that’s not your jam, there are probably books that will help you remain… hermetically sealed, psychologically speaking. My son owns a book of puns that might fit the bill. Ah but see, even that may improve your vocabulary! I don't know... maybe they still make Archie and Jughead comics? (I kid, I kid.)
Typos send you into an apoplectic rage. Look, we went over this thing countless times, and my team at Eerdmans is first-rate, with deep experience with this stuff. But let’s face it. There’s gotta be one that snuck in there somewhere. In the immortal words of Bender in The Breakfast Club, “Screws fall out, the world’s an imperfect place.”