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Non-Fiction writers will want to read John L. Allen, Jr.’s book The Future Church to hear “How ten trends are revolutionizing the Catholic Church.”
You’ll be writing for a church that is increasingly globalized, responds to new problems raised by the biotech revolution and expanding lay roles, and that is influenced (for good and ill) by Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity. These, and other trends Allen explores insightfully, should help you position yourself as a resource for the Church in the days to come.
I believe that the Church actually does need her writers very much, whether or not your book sells well, and even if your archdiocese holds no training workshops for you!
Writers are needed who will study extensively to put huge concepts into the small number of words, and small kinds of words that can be digested in today’s frenetic, anti-intellectual climate. Allen himself, and Christopher West, for example, demonstrate the growing need for such work. By synthesizing mountains of diverse information (in Allen’s case) in the form of news, encyclicals, demographic data, scholarly articles, or by deep-mining (in West’s case) one Pope’s writings and the Church’s teachings about one subject (Theology of the Body), writers make a path for others through daunting territory.
You may think this kind of writing is ‘too academic,’ and I agree that it is not for everyone. I’m convinced, though, that a whole spectrum of writers is needed to make a continuous flow of the Church’s logic accessible at every level.
When I taught at a community college, I discovered many adult students were intimidated by required science classes. I counseled them to find books in the children’s section of the library to become familiar with the subject before diving in at a higher level. A good ‘lower level’ book is of tremendous value in laying down a matrix of support for the subject at hand. For many, that matrix will be all that is needed. For others, it will provide the necessary foundational strength for further study.
I think The Future Church is helpful as an example of good non-fiction, Catholic writing, and as the matrix of support for some of you who will write to help others explore the Faith in the years to come.
(This post first appeared in the Catholic Writers Guild blog.)