Advance Praise for “Courageous Faith: How to Rise and Resist in a Time of Fear”

Courageous_Faith_4_largeYesterday I received word from Pilgrim Press that my second book, Courageous Faith: How to Rise and Resist in a Time of Fearis leaving the printer and ready to ship. Courageous Faith is a book for our times, and a primer on how Christians can faithfully work for justice in a new era.

Like Glorify: Reclaiming the Heart of Progressive Christianity, I believe the book will deepen the conversation about what it means to be a thoughtful and engaged Christian in the 21st century. Courageous Faith goes one step deeper, though, helping Christians to cultivate their own sense of moral courage in order to stand against injustice. Of course, those are just my thoughts. Here’s what others are saying:

Pilgrim Press writes:

For Christians, resistance is written right into our baptismal vows. Following Christ means resisting oppression and evil wherever we might find it. Doing that work requires us to first rise up, face our fears, and cultivate courage that can sustain us for the journey. Weaving together wisdom from sources as diverse as Reformed theology, recovery communities, social justice visionaries, and Twentieth Century history, Heath creates a way forward for those who wish to live lives of faithful, sustained, courageous resistance.

The Rev. Dr. Anna Carter Florence, Peter Marshall Professor of Preaching, Columbia Theological Seminary writes:

CarterFlorence_Anna_webEmily Heath is that rare combination of wisdom, honesty, warmth, integrity, character and courage — in short, everything that she shares here with us, in this bold and brave book.  In a language of faith that is nothing short of breathtaking, and in words that resound with encouragement and tenderness, she shows us how even our most stubborn fears can become a path of discovery, one that leads to the way of courageous faith and resistance.  This is a book I want to give to every one of my students,  my friends, and my own children.  When you need a reason to keep going, and the inspiration to do it, Emily Heath is the person you want walking alongside you.

The Rev. Mihee Kim-Kort, author of Making Paper Cranes: Towards an Asian American Feminist Theology, writes:

cropped-MKK-Headshot-9Emily Heath’s Courageous Faith is exactly that — courageous. A compelling work that weaves incredibly powerful stories from their life, Heath reminds us in a provocative way that resurrection is the core of resistance. “Resurrection is God’s response to a world where injustice reigns so supreme that it would rather kill love and grace incarnate than welcome it. Resurrection is the final word to a culture of death, a refusal to allow goodness and mercy to be buried.” I love this so much, and the rest of the book is a reminder that the work of the resurrection is ongoing, and we, in all our humanity, are welcomed into that work, too. Heath’s book is also deeply faithful, and as I write this during the 500th year of the Reformation, I’m grateful for all the threads between recovery and reform-ery, and the call to do this work simultaneously, within ourselves and outside ourselves, too, in the world. Thank God that we have each other in this work of resistance, and that we have Heath’s work to spur us on to love and good deeds. 

The Rev. Dr. J. Bennett Guess, Executive Director of the ACLU in Ohio, writes:

BG-NCMarriageEquality_350-270There exists an embarrassingly small stack of books that explore both the inward and outward demands of earnest, rugged Christian faith. Most writers always weight one over the other, but not so here. In “Courageous Faith,” integrity’s altar call is equally personal and public, wherein author Emily Heath makes a powerful case for a moral courage bold and expansive enough to change and heal our bruised lives even as we must act bravely to change and heal our broken world.

Order your copy today from Amazon  or from UCC resources and dive into a journey of cultivating the faithful courage this world needs.

Plagiarism, Privilege, and the State of Christian Publishing

For the past several weeks I’ve been reading about the Rev. Bill Shillady and his book, Strong for a Moment Like This: The Daily Devotions of Hillary Clinton. During the campaign Shillady sent Secretary Clinton daily devotions to strengthen her faith and keep her focused on the work at hand. When I heard the book was coming out, I made a mental note to buy it.

Then I started to hear about allegations of plagiarism, and about how Shillady had used the work of others without properly citing it. I was saddened to hear that, especially given how easy it is for an author to say “this idea is not mine…it comes from this person”. Giving credit where credit is due should be standard practice, especially among preachers and writers. After a few days, though, I didn’t pay too much attention to the story.

Fast forward to earlier today when I received an email. It turns out that I was one of the writers whose work was plagiarized by Shillady for his book. I am apparently one of many. In particular, a section of one of my pieces written for the United Church of Christ’s Still Speaking Daily Devotionals was used in the book. The original piece came from the fall of 2015, and talked about my work as a trauma chaplain.

At first the email didn’t rattle me that much. I was shuffling through a typical pastor’s daily to-do list at the time. As the day wore on, though, I began to think about my experiences as a Christian writer, and about what it took to get my own book published. In fact, in the fall of 2015, around the time I wrote that devotional that Shillady used, I didn’t think I had much of a future as a writer. I was finally writing my first book but it was the end of a long, exhausting road.

My journey to publication began in 2013. Several pieces I had written for the Huffington Post had gained my writing a large enough following that I was signed with a literary agent in New York City. I put together a book proposal, and she shopped it around to a wide variety of large publishing houses, including those with religious imprints. We especially targeted imprints with more moderate to progressive takes on religion.

The feedback I received back on my writing was good, but there were issues. I am an openly gay Christian pastor in a same-sex marriage. I am also gender non-conforming. I write openly about both of these things in my work, because they are a part of my larger testimony. God has given me incredible grace, and I believe that God has created me to live with integrity and purpose, just as I am.

For Christian publishing houses, even fairly progressive ones, this was too far. One publishing house thought I would be too controversial. Another said they already had one book by a woman pastor, and one by a gay person, so a book by me would be pushing the envelope too much. I’ll spare you the rest of the stories. Suffice to say, I didn’t get a contract. My agent did her best, but I ended up withdrawing from the book-shopping process, and going back to blogging and occasional articles.

A little over a year later, something happened. I wrote a blog that gained a great deal of attention in my denomination. I spoke to Pilgrim Press about turning the idea behind that blog into a book, and they signed me to a contract. My first book, Glorify: Reclaiming the Heart of Progressive Christianity, was published in the spring of 2016. A new book, tentatively titled Courageous Faith: How to Rise and Resist in a Time of Fear, is coming out this fall.

The first book has sold well, and I’m extremely grateful to Pilgrim Press. They are a publishing house that produces amazing work despite a small budget and an even smaller staff. They never censored me, didn’t blink when my author photo featured a bow tie, had no issues with me dedicating the book to my wife, and gladly allowed me to use gender-neutral pronouns throughout my work (in what might be a first for a theological book). Above all, Pilgrim is one of the few Christian publishing houses that would sign an openly gay, openly gender non-conforming author.

That’s what makes Shillady’s actions so difficult for me to stomach. As a straight, white, gender-confirming man, he had access to publishers that people like me do not. Certainly he had a bigger pulpit; he was, after all, the self-professed devotional writer to a major presidential candidate, and so I know some of his access came from that fact. Even still, Shillady was able to access publication avenues that many of us cannot.

In the end it comes down to this. I wrote my testimony down, and talked about how God’s grace had worked in my life, and formed my belief. I want to share that testimony to others, to the glory of God. But, I don’t want others to take my testimony and claim that it is their own. Had Shillady asked me if he could quote me, I would have said “yes” in a heartbeat. But he didn’t. And so, we are here.

According to Amazon, Strong for a Moment Like This is currently the number one new release in devotionals. At this moment it’s in the top 2000 books out of millions that are sold on Amazon. This is despite the fact that the book was recalled earlier today and is no longer for sale.

Had Shillady written his own words, I would applaud him. Instead, I’m left with this fact: a man walked into a Christian publisher with my own words – words deemed too controversial for publication – and got those same words published. He took my testimony, and the testimonies of an unknown number of others, and he cashed in on them. I don’t care about the money, but I sure can’t ignore the irony. When privilege is combined with mediocrity and dishonesty, it’s hard not to feel frustrated when it gets rewarded.

I would wager that the woman who received those plagiarized devotionals from Shillady every morning might agree with me on that.

 

“Glorify” for Groups

Update, June 2, 2016. The Glorify group reading guide is now available, free of charge: Glorify Reading Guide

It’s been a few weeks since Glorify: Reclaiming the Heart of Progressive Christianity was released by Pilgrim Press. I’ve been so grateful to hear the initial round of feedback. The book seems to have articulated something many have been feeling for some time.

IMG_6934One of the things I’m hearing the most often is that people want to use this book in a small group setting. My hope has always been that Glorify could be used that way. In fact, I’m working on a reading group study guide now that should be available for download soon. This will contain tips for classes, questions for group discussion, and other resources.

I’m also aware that now is the time in the church year when congregations are looking at summer small-group reads as well as Christian education options for the fall. In that spirit, here are three ways churches can use Glorify in your congregation.

Adult Education Sunday School

Glorify is broken into ten chapters, each of which (10-15 pages each) could easily be read by busy church members during the course of a week. Taking a chapter a week, Glorify would inspire a rich conversation in adult Sunday school classes throughout the fall.

Book Group Discussion

Many churches have book groups that come together to talk about a common read. Glorify could be read all in one sitting, or broken into its three parts for a multi-event group. The three sections (Finding Our Purpose, Being Transformed by God, and Transforming the World with God) provide a structure for shorter-term program of one to three sessions. The book is also a great read for “One Church/One Book” programs in which the entire congregation reads the same book and talks about what it can teach their church.

Confirmation, Youth Groups, or Campus Ministries

Glorify is a down-to-earth, conversational read that is appropriate for youth and young adults. It talks about the real social issues that matter to younger Christians, including LGBTQ inclusion, eradicating racism, and changing the world. It also provides a basic overview of mainline Christian faith and how it shapes our identity. The premise of Glorify is that we are transformed by God’s love for us, and so we in turn transform the world. One of the most amazing things about today’s youth and young adults is that they want to serve, and they want their faith to inform their work in the world. This book will help them to integrate belief and action.

If you want to order Glorify for a small group, you can do so directly from Pilgrim Press here: http://www.uccresources.com/products/glorify-reclaiming-the-heart-of-progressive-christianity-heath

Or, look for the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Glorify-Reclaiming-Heart-Progressive-Christianity/dp/0829820299/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453486699&sr=1-1&keywords=glorify+emily+heath

If possible I am also glad to talk about coming to your church to speak about the book, or connecting with a small group via Skype to answer questions and talk more.

Thanks so much for all the support! May Glorify be a blessing to the ministry of your church.

“Glorify” Update: The Book Launches This Week!

9780829820294I’ve been eagerly anticipating this week ever since I hit “send” on the final manuscript last fall. This week Glorify: Reclaiming the Heart of Progressive Christianity is being released by Pilgrim Press.

Pre-orders have already been great. Thank you to everyone who has already done so. It’s been wonderful to see that this book has already found a broad audience. If you have pre-ordered, your copies should ship within days.

If you would like to order a copy now, there are several purchasing options:

Water Street Bookstore is Exeter, New Hampshire’s hometown bookstore. (It’s conveniently located on the walk between my home and my office, which means I spend a lot of time there.) This is a great independent bookstore, and I’d love to support them as much as possible.

They’ve also been incredibly supportive of me. The book’s official launch is being held waterlogothere this Friday, April 8th at 7pm. (125 Water Street, Exeter, NH) If you can make it in person I’ll be reading excerpts, answering questions, and signing copies. You can find more here: http://www.waterstreetbooks.com/event/rev-emily-c-heath-author-glorify

Even if you can’t be there in person, you can order your copy from Water Street Books.
When you check out online there is an option to add special instructions. Write a note with your name, and I’ll sign your copy before it’s shipped to you.

Amazon-Prime-Streaming-Video-Service-Bundles

Or, if you would prefer to use your Prime account, Glorify is available from Amazon.com. At Amazon you can order either the paperback edition or the Kindle edition:
Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Glorify-Reclaiming-Heart-Progressive-Christianity/dp/0829820299/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453486699&sr=1-1&keywords=glorify+emily+heath

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Glorify-Reclaiming-Heart-Progressive-Christianity-ebook/dp/B01CGTANF4/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1453486699&sr=1-1

 

Finally, you can buy Glorify directly from Pilgrim Press through UCC Resources:
http://www.uccresources.com/products/glorify-reclaiming-the-heart-of-progressive-christianity-heath

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Glorify is also for sale at Barnes and Noble, Cokesbury, and more. Wherever you buy your copy, thank you so much for your support!