I work as a bilingual Protestant minister and writer in Austin, Texas. My second book, a non-fiction narrative account in the field of restorative justice, will be available on April 1, 2019. There is a Balm in Huntsville: A True Story of Tragedy and Restoration from the Heart of the Texas Prison System will also be available wherever books are sold, including Amazon.
My first book Just a Little Bit More: The Culture of Excess and the Fate of the Common Good is distributed by ACTA Publications (Chicago) and is available as a paperback wherever books are sold, and as an ebook on Amazon, iBooks, and Nook. Reach me on Twitter @blue_ocotillo.
During my adult years, I’ve been a reader. I had a lot of assigned reading while in seminary – most (but certainly not all) of which I completed. Upon finishing graduate school, I thoroughly enjoyed the freedom of reading what I wanted. This freedom lasted for some twenty years. While I do read fiction, I’m thoroughly over-balanced on the non-fiction side. Taylor Branch’s Parting the Waters, Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Paul Johnson’s Modern Times, Richard Rhodes’s The Making of the Atomic Bomb, and Daniel Yergin’s The Prize are but a few of the captivating books I delved into over those twenty years. Reading a book is akin to having a conversation with another human being: a deep, meaningful, and thought-out exchange that as the reader I am able to conduct on my time. (Yes, I’m that person who carries a book around most everywhere.)
In the summer of 2011, the twenty-year run of unassigned reading came to an end. A crazy idea which I had never entertained started to take hold: write a book. Not just any book, but a book that responded to the fallout associated with the economic swoon that started with the housing market crash of 2007-08. As the details emerged, once again our society was dealing with the aftereffects of the inordinate love of money and misplaced trust in an economic system still prone to collapses. The so-called experts had been telling us that we had entered a new era of stability. They were wrong. Hadn’t we seen this before in the run-up to the Great Depression?
I started reading – by my own coerced assignation – all I could that covered the topic of how the economy crashed once again: banking, history, economics, commentary. I talked with colleagues and friends about my idea. Most were enthusiastic and responded with further suggestions. The idea of what I wanted to write began to form . . . something along the lines of societal excess and over-consumption. As I researched, I kept looking for the book that I wanted to write – to see if someone else had already written it. In those first number of months of heavy reading, I didn’t find it. I started writing. My reading and research continued as I wrote. All the while, I still spied for the book I was writing. I came across some that were close to it, covering similar territory. I never found it, however.
I finished my writing . . . and hope that you join the conversation with me. I’m confident the conversation we can have as you read my book will not only be worthwhile, but thought-provoking and influential.
Just a Little Bit More: The Culture of Excess and the Fate of the Common Good, published in May 2014, has been well received by those similarly concerned that American society, increasingly stratified economically, is losing touch with an egalitarian-fused common good.
During 2017, I took a “self-imposed sabbatical” from church work. I had served dual-language congregations in Texas for more than twenty-five years and wanted to write another book. The end result of that fifteen-month sabbatical is There is a Balm in Huntsville. I’m grateful to my spouse, Denise, for supporting our household while I researched and wrote for all of 2017 and a few months into 2018.
I also hope you join in the conversation that Balm affords – on restorative justice, second chances, and making amends.