The first year of launching Beyond the Comma ended with a flourish of events as my “book tour” proved to be a valuable vehicle to spread the word. In November, I presented at Union Congregational UCC in Montclair, New Jersey—my home church. It was interesting to share stories in the book, some of which took place during congregational events, with those who know me well. One congregant, Jade Holmgren, remarked afterwards, “It was such as a pleasure to hear you talking about the book. It has touched a deep chord in my soul. There are so many things that I could not express, but you put them so eloquently; for instance, being “unabashedly multi-faith, and unapologetically Christian” or how you struggled with your own identity after your fall when you suffered from memory loss. Thank you for sharing your experiences.”
Next was an event at The Loft at Marble Collegiate Church—in the very room where Intersections was housed for the first several years of its life. Marble Church was also where I physically wrote much of the book, thanks to the generosity of Dr. Michael Brown and COO Gayle Robinson, so doing a book signing there was like coming home.
One attendee, Rev. Jennifer Crumpton, author of Femmevangelical: The Modern Girl’s Guide to the Good News, said this, “At Bob’s recent book event, I was struck by how wonderfully atypical it was. Bob not only sparked our imaginations with both intimately personal and culturally relevant stories of how Beyond the Comma came to be, but also opened up a rich dialogue about being fully present in life’s transitional moments, essentially making each one of us a co-author of the story of “life at the intersection.” That is Bob’s gift: drawing in all voices, experiences and backgrounds and lifting up their value and dignity. And in that same spirit, this gathering was warm, inspiring and conversational. Everyone left feeling we had touched on the big questions of our own lives and the times in which we live, and that what we do next, after the pause, matters. It was like balm for the soul in this moment of political and social strife. Thank you, Bob!”
The very next night, I introduced a new role for Beyond the Comma at the Palisades Presbyterian Church: as the resource for a weekly Advent Study Group. A most rewarding comment came at the close of the evening when Jennifer Shapiro, a long-time member of the church, approached me and said, “It was amazing how, after your talk, so many people came up and started sharing their own life stories with me.” This, after all, is a primary reason why I wrote the book.
Then, finally, on December 12, I was featured in a webinar hosted by the Religion Communicators Council. You can view an archived version of the webinar here. Rev. Bud Heckman, Council President and host of the event, said this: “Bob’s insights about the tasks and guiding principles of good communication came to our professional association of religious communicators as fresh thinking. It is obvious that he brings a well distilled lifetime of experiences and insights into what works.”
And this is only the beginning. With two dozen events scheduled in ten states between now and Memorial Day, I am confident there will be countless reactions and experiences to report in 2018. You can follow the progress here. Stay tuned! And have a faithful and fruitful New Year. Blessings, Bob