Changing the conversation

In January of this year there was a mass shooting. I honestly don’t remember which one it was. And since then we’ve had literally hundreds of other shootings. This one impacted me emotionally and spiritually. I didn’t know anyone involved. And I wasn’t near the shooting either. But for some reason I was hit by it. And I listened to the insane response cycle that we have become all too used to.

You know the cycle – a shooting happens. Then “thoughts and prayers” which is really just an empty gesture at this point. Then a pointless debate on the abstract idea of guns with people talking past each other with their rehearsed talking points. And then…nothing. We literally do nothing different. We are living the definition of insanity.

And this caused me great distress and lament. Lament is a theological term that can be defined as mourning in such a way that there is nothing else to do but cry out to God because there is nothing we can do to fix the situation causing the distress.

And it was in the midst of this lament of watching the response cycle that I realized something – that something was missing in this cycle, which is why the cycle keeps on happening. The thing that is missing is the humanity, or the Image of God. You see when the topic is humanity, the conversation changes. We’re then dealing with real people, not statistics. We’re dealing with real stories, not abstract ideas or identities. We’re dealing with messiness and grey areas and complicated lives that don’t fit nice and neatly into us and them categories. And we need more of this focus for so many “issues” that we “debate.” Because if we focus on the humanity, I’m willing to bet that we would approach the challenges we face far differently.

And so, I was moved to write a book that did just that – focused on the humanity of mass shootings. I reached out to my friend and fellow activist and a wonderful author in her own right – Pat LaMarche. I pitched the idea to her and she loved it. And took the idea to the next level. What we came up with was the concept for what would become American Roulette.

The book is a novel that focuses on the humanity in a mass shooting. It’s the story of one day in a town in America that will be like no other for these characters. Pat gathered an amazing cast of authors who each wrote a unique character’s story over the course of that day.

Along the way we have obtained endorsement quotes from some incredible people who were clearly moved by this book and see how important it is to change the conversation so that these mass shootings can end.

I’m grateful to everyone who gotten on board with this book. As the images above show, 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to organizations working to address gun violence.

I’d be honored to have you order one of the books (just click one of the images above and it will take you to the pre-order page).

I’d be more honored if were to share information about the book with others. This book is ideal for book conversations and to use it as a tool to help in conversations about the humanity in gun violence. If you know of an organization that is interested in hosting a book signing, we’re interested in talking with them. If you know someone that is interested in hosting a discussion on the topic, we’re also interested. If you know someone that wants to do an interview, we’ll be happy to talk with them. The point is to spread the word about the book – not because the authors make money on this, we don’t. But because we really believe that this book can help change the conversation and hopefully reduce mass shootings.

For me, this book is like a sermon, which seems fitting given that I’m a Lutheran pastor and I preach pretty much every Sunday. In seminary I was taught that a good sermon will do two things – it will comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. This book accomplishes both of those marks. When I have wondering though where the Good News is in this book, a colleague reminded me that sometimes the Good News isn’t about what is said, but in what it stirs in us and causes to change in us. Good News ultimately is more than just the words proclaimed. Its lives being transformed. That’s what this book is for me. It what the lament stirred in me and caused me to jump into a project I never thought I would be working on and one that I wish never had to be written. But it did need to be written. And it needs to be read and talked about too.

Thank you in advance for supporting me and my fellow authors. May you be blessed by either being comforted if you have been afflicted by gun violence, or may you be afflicted if you have had the privilege of being comfortable apart from gun violence. May you be stirred and transformed.

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