Jordon Cooper, blogger par excellence (I used that French because he’s Canadian and want to establish a little credibility), posted about me yesterday and I aim to set the record straight today. He wonders if there is a clone out there writing in my name. He provides evidence that makes me think that there just might be someone else writing in my name.
Here’s the pointed question he writes in his review of Praying with the Church, which has to be the cleverest review yet:
The book does ask some interesting questions. The main one is how many Scot McKnights are there and which one wrote this book. Sure Scot may claim that there is only one of him but c’mon, he can’t expect us to believe that. He is writing a short book every day on his blog, he is watching sports, reviewing 18 books a day on his blog, teaching and then writing several books on the side. You draw your own conclusions but I am thinking he has a clone. I guess we will never know until Scot pulls a Terrell Owens and claims that he has been misquoted in his book or his weblog. Either way, the book is a good one and if you don’t have it yet, make sure you pick it up.
First, Jordon, thanks so much for noting this book on your blog. I really do appreciate it, but it’s time now to turn to the real issue: How many of us are there?
Last night I was with an editor of Christianity Today and he asked me when we got to the parking lot this question: “How do you do it? Do you just take 30 minutes off in the evening and work the rest of the day?”
It gets to where I think I’m doing something wrong, like I’m in that commercial where the woman peaks into the medicine cabinet in the bathroom of a friend and the shelves collapse and she wishes she “could get away” on a Southwest Airlines flight.
Jordon, there’s one of us and that “one of us” lives a very, very, very simple life. On days I’m home (which is all summer long), I get up early, I’m at the computer by 7am usually, and I sit there — apart from tea breaks and a banana at 10:30am and lunch for 15 minutes at noon or so — until about 4pm, at which time my Bichon Frise bugs me to go the refrig and give him four carrots cut in half. Then I make our salads for dinner, turn on CNN or FoxNews (depending on whether I want to get into a fight or not), and wait for Kris to get home. During that time I read a chp or two in a book that I’ll blog about, unless I’m game for making a kind of dinner that makes me work — like Ligurian pesto — and if that happens I don’t read.
(On days I teach, I get home between 4 and 6pm and slip right into the rest of this schedule.)
Then Kris comes home, we eat our salads, put on our walking shoes, and walk around the lake. Then I make dinner and we eat together. Then we say our evening prayers. And, that Jordon, is it: the rest of the night we chat, and take the dog outside, and I read and I check the e-mails and read some blogs, and then I go to bed about 11pm and get up to do it all over again.
I’ve been asked this enough that I should say something in my defense. I wrote very little when I began my career and one of my colleagues wondered aloud to me if I was squandering my time coaching my son’s basketball and baseball teams, but I really did work hard those years and built notebooks of information and I have been using that stuff ever since.
Then when I got to NPU it just all started pouring out of me, but I was still writing like a schmuck with a thick pen and lots of footnotes. The most readable I could make things was Turning to Jesus, and that wasn’t good enough in my opinion. So, I started working harder at learning to write in such a way that I was clear and fun and readable.
One day my colleague, Sonia Bodi, suggested I read Joseph Epstein, and I read in three months eight or nine of his books. My life changed. I found “my form” — the familiar essay. That discovery gave me a “voice.” (I’m telling you something pretty personal here, because this is what really happened to me and it changed how I write.) For 18 months, during which time I didn’t write all that much, I read volumes and volumes of essayists, and it taught me that if you want to write well, read good writers.
Now I also have to admit that most of you wouldn’t even know who I am had not Bob Smietana, the fine editor at Covenant Companion, urged me to start a blog. The blog gives me the opportunity to indulge my “scribbler’s itch.” I like to write, and this lets me write out thoughts without having to write a long article, find all the scholarly literature, and document it all with footnotes. I toss ideas out on the waves and see if they float, sink, or come back.
Perhaps this is obvious: this isn’t work for me. This is fun, and I’m grateful to get to do what I like.
On top of all this, I have a wonderful wife who encourages me to do this blog (she’s got ideas for me all the time but I can’t convince her to write posts herself) and who prefers the kind of quiet life I also prefer. So, she creates tranquility in the home. (Our kids are married and out of the house, except this week. Luke and Annika are here with their two dogs.)
Jordon, there’s one of me, but I’ll admit it is a simple, simple, simple life I lead.