Confessions of a Heretical Author

Hello, merry and mystical friends!

In this video I make an embarrassing confession, and then I introduce my new book: My Burden Is Light: A Pastor’s Plea for Rationality, Honesty, and Humility. The book was a labor of love; special thanks go to the reading group at the Open Prairie United Church of Christ in Princeton, Illinois, who read and discussed an early draft. They put up with me as their pastor, even though I am both a wild-eyed Christian mystic and a skeptical and irreverent heretic. (But I don’t suppose Merry Mystic subscribers will be surprised on either count!)

2023-11-07T08:05:54-06:00November 7, 2023|2 Comments

New Book: My Burden Is Light

Hello, friends! I have a new book just out: My Burden Is Light: A Pastor’s Plea for Rationality, Honesty, and Humility. I’ll be releasing a Merry Mystic video which introduces the book. Following that, I’m making a series of posts with some short excerpts from the book.

But in case you just want to read it now, you can find it on Amazon here.

2023-11-06T10:18:16-06:00November 6, 2023|2 Comments

Wolf at the Door

Wolf at the Door, the third book in my fantasy romance series Tales of Corwin, is now available.

I finished Wolf at the Door while on vacation in New Hampshire. Yes, that is my idea of a vacation: getting to see more of my family … a little swimming … a little walking in the woods … a little listening to the loons … and a little writing of this kind. Not all writing refreshes and sustains me, but writing the Tales of Corwin does. I like the characters—most of them!—and I’ve enjoyed discovering and telling their story.

I hope you will enjoy reading it. It’s available from Amazon for Kindle and in paperback.

2021-09-20T14:41:14-05:00September 20, 2021|2 Comments

Guilty Pleasure

The other day, my wife caught me with my nose in a book and a silly grin on my face. It’s happened before, and it’s always embarrassing. She gives me a hard time about it, too—and justly so. It’s embarrassing to be caught enjoying your own writing.

I know: self-indulgent, isn’t it? But I can’t help it. I get a kick out of it, every time I dip into The Pastor and the Priestess, the first book in my fantasy romance series. But I had a good excuse, this time, for re-reading my own writing: I’m putting the finishing touches on Wolf at the Door, the third volume in the series, and just needed to check a few things for continuity. (That’s what I told Kelly, anyway.) I’m delighted with the way the latest story is turning out, and I’m excited about releasing it shortly.

But nobody’s going to be excited about the third volume if they haven’t read the first two. So today, I’m dropping the price of the Kindle edition of The Pastor and the Priestess to 99 cents. If you haven’t read it, I hope you’ll take advantage of this price reduction. Maybe a bit of happily-ever-after fantasy romance is just what you need.

And if you have already read The Pastor and the Priestess and Storms Over Corwin, thank you, and stay tuned! Volume three is nearly ready. Here’s the cover art:


And here’s the text from the back cover:

Sandra Shelby, high priestess of the Rose Feather Circle, and Mark Collins, pastor of the Corwin Congregational Church, are engaged to be married at last. They’ve set the date. They’ve chosen two people to perform the ceremony—a Christian minister and a Wiccan crone. Their friends are happy for them. Mark’s parents are happy for them. What could go wrong?

Plenty, as it turns out. Not everyone is as happy about the forthcoming marriage as they are. First, a mysterious Pagan organization sends two scouts into the town of Corwin to discover the secrets of the Circle and to lure Sandra away. At the same time, a faction within Mark’s church takes exception to his interfaith relationship and tries to get him fired. Then, just before Easter, a wolf comes to Mark and Sandra’s door with disturbing news: Joni, the youngest member of the Circle, has disappeared. To rescue little Joni, Mark and Sandra and their friends would go to the ends of the earth.

But they’ll have to go farther than that.

I’ll let you know when Wolf at the Door is available to order. Two weeks, I hope!

2021-09-12T12:46:19-05:00September 12, 2021|0 Comments

Videos for the Inn of God’s Forgiveness

Hello, friends! This month, I’ve been thinking about my book, The Inn of God’s Forgiveness. I have an idea, and I’d like to get your thoughts about it.

It seems to me that The Inn of God’s Forgiveness would be ideal for use in an adult study group in a progressive church. It’s a small book and modestly priced. It presents progressive (and sometimes provocative) theological ideas in a good-humored and accessible way. It’s divided into eight chapters, which would fit a one-chapter-a-week structure quite neatly. And it has a built-in activity for each chapter, because each chapter introduces a new hymn. A study group could look at each hymn, give it a try, and then perhaps decide whether to bring it to the wider church.

What the book hasn’t had, until now, is video content to go with it. My idea is that it would be useful to have a video to go with each chapter, so that a class leader could simply show the video and then lead the discussion (and singing).

I’ve made a draft of a video to go with the first chapter. It’s longer than the usual five-to-ten-minute Merry Mystic missive: it’ll be about forty minutes, including the singing, leaving twenty minutes for discussion in a one-hour class. This draft has a few defects, and the video is grainy in places, but it’ll give you an idea of what I’m suggesting. (And I’m a bit proud of it, in spite of the defects!)

So please: have a look, and let me know your thoughts. Is it useful to you? Would a full video series like this be useful to you, or to others? What would you like to see in the final version? If I make a series like this, how should I deliver it, and how much should I charge for it? (Alas, I don’t think I could give something like this away; just making a draft of the video for the first chapter took a ridiculous number of hours.)

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2019-10-16T13:56:26-05:00October 16, 2019|1 Comment

Something New in the Store

Hello, friends!

I’ve written a considerable variety of things over the years: some computer science journal articles, a couple of textbooks, a book of theological essays with new hymns, a dozen more new hymns after that, dozens of videos for The Merry Mystic, and two CDs of original music—plus, of course, a few hundred sermons. But you know what I’ve enjoyed writing the most? Fantasy romance.

Yes, really.

I’ve just published a book called The Pastor and the Priestess. It’s a feel-good story about a small-town pastor and a Wiccan priestess who find magic and romance while facing a deadly series of hate crimes. Hah! I’m grinning ear to ear just typing that description. It’s available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. If it sounds like something you’d enjoy, please give it a try. And if you do enjoy it, please share a review on Amazon.

You can read more about The Pastor and the Priestess on our Store page.

Thanks and best blessings,


2019-01-15T23:40:43-06:00January 15, 2019|5 Comments

Tales of Corwin: Fantastic, Romantic, Fun, and Free

Over the past year, I’ve been enjoying writing some fiction. It’s a fantasy romance called The Pastor and the Priestess. Some of you may remember that I mentioned this project on “The Merry Mystic” last year. Well, I finished a draft of the book, and I’ve re-read it several times. And each time I re-read it, it made me happy. So I thought, hey, I’ll find a literary agent and get this thing published.

Well, that was forty rejections ago. Forty. Not even a nibble. (The first ten rejections are the hardest!) I can’t really blame them. What they’re looking for—what almost all agents are looking for—is something similar to something that has been successful. And The Pastor and the Priestess isn’t similar to much of anything. It’s by far the most commercial thing I’ve ever written—but really, that isn’t saying all that much. My last book, after all, The Inn of God’s Forgiveness, was a collection of theological essays with new hymns. Not exactly bestseller material.

But anyway: The Pastor and the Priestess still makes me smile when I read it, and it still makes me smile when I polish it up, and when I work on the sequel. So I’m not giving it up.

Instead, I’m giving it away: free fiction, published as an online serial. I’ve already posted the first couple of installments, and I’ve done them both in text and in audio form, as a podcast called “Tales of Corwin”—named for the town where the adventures take place. My plan is to release one new installment every week. That’ll give me a chance to polish my story as I go, and get your feedback on it.

You can find my web site for the Tales of Corwin at You can also subscribe to the podcast directly through the usual channels, like iTunes and Google Play Music.

When the whole serial is done, I plan to take it down and prepare it for print publication. So, read it for free while you can. Please share it with anyone you know who has a taste for fantasy romance. And I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

And don’t worry—I’ll get back to writing music too, and I’ll still be doing The Merry Mystic. (In fact, there’s a new episode today!)

Thanks and best blessings,


2018-04-26T15:40:13-05:00April 26, 2018|4 Comments

Beyond Resistance

Here’s a book my fellow Merry Mystics might enjoy: Beyond Resistance by Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer.

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John also does a weekly podcast that might appeal to Merry Mystics. It’s called “Into the Mystic,” and you can find it here.

2017-05-22T11:19:46-05:00May 22, 2017|1 Comment

Getting It From Both Sides

In Chapter Three of The Inn of God’s Forgiveness, I wrote:

To summarize, here’s the bad news: if you want to claim the Christian tradition without affirming the traditional creeds, it’s a bit of an uphill battle. Confident creedal Christians will identify you as an inadequate believer, if not actually an agent of Satan; confident atheists will identify you as an inadequate doubter, still clinging to your discredited faith tradition; but in the face of both, you will have to insist on claiming your own religious identity.

It’s coming back to haunt me now.  I’m advertising the web page for the book on Facebook, and people are occasionally commenting on the ad that appears in their news feeds.  So far, the comments are of just these two kinds.  There are confident creedal Christians who want to tell me that I’m not really a Christian — and there are atheists who are say things like “tired of these fairy tales in my news feed” and “he [Jesus] is a made up character in a storybook who cares.”

But oh well!  I can’t really blame the atheists for being cheesed off: shouldn’t Facebook know enough about their interests to not advertise a book of Christian theology and hymns to them?  But it’s interesting how reactive people are on this topic — reactive in much the same way on all sides.  The atheists feel threatened and demeaned by an oppressive Christian majority.  The conservative Christians also feel threatened and demeaned by the erosion of their tradition in an increasingly secular culture.  And, of course, I feel pretty beleaguered myself, getting it from both sides.  But it’s been very interesting to engage my conservative Christian commentators in online discussion.  We often seem to be able to find some ground for mutual respect, though not always agreement.  That’s progress.  And meanwhile, the people who are not offended by the ad, though not posting, are coming to the web site and downloading the hymns.  1000 downloads and counting!

2014-12-09T22:27:12-06:00December 9, 2014|2 Comments

The Inn of God’s Forgiveness Available for Nook

The Nook version of my new book, The Inn of God’s Forgiveness and Other Hymns for the Progressive Church, is now available from Barnes&Noble. On most Nooks, the music pages themselves will be too small to read, but you can always for printing.

I usually use a Kindle myself, but I got a used Nook on eBay for testing this edition. It was pretty straightforward. I guess I already found most of the problems when I made my Kindle and iBooks Store editions.

2014-10-17T21:24:15-05:00October 17, 2014|0 Comments
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