Saturday, July 11, 2015

Presentations, retreats, and o.m.goodness, an award

Happy July, everyone.  I hope summer is warm and restful and has a s'more or two in it.

First, since this is a "book blog," I do need to start with news about Theology of the Body, Extended and its research.  The book has been published for a year now with Lectio Publishing, bless their brave souls.  It's a tough, tough time to start a new academic press.  That is one reason I was really happy that this book (my work and Lectio's work) actually won a national award!  (I know--I'm still floored!) Theology of the Body, Extended won first place in the "Best Book by a Small Publisher" category in the 2015 Catholic Press Association Book Awards.  Here's the jury's blurb:

Really, this is an enormously flattering honor, and I am grateful. 

Other book-related news:  I was happy to offer two workshops at the Diocese of Winona's Ministry Days in June, where 150 priests, deacons, and lay church workers gather to pray and learn for two days.  One workshop was called "Beyond the Wheelchair Ramp: listening to people with disabilities in your parish," and the other was "A Theology of the Dying Body: helping the people of God learn how to die well."  I really enjoyed the conversations with so many great people and getting feedback, and should anyone want me to give those workshops again, or you just want to know what they were about (I have powerpoints, people!), please contact me.  I'd be happy to talk.

At the end of July, I will be offering a directed weekend retreat called "The Gift of Birth: Seeking the Holy Spirit in your Birthing."  Many thanks to the Franciscan Spirituality Center in Lacrosse, WI, for being excited about this and promoting it so well!  There are spaces available if you are a woman who thinks she could become pregnant in the near future (or you are pregnant now).  Please contact them asap if you are interested.  You do not need to be Catholic to attend, although I am speaking from that perspective.

Finally, I have written a spiritual direction-style book titled The Gift of Birth: spiritual insights for expecting mothers.  It is meant to translate ch. 2 in ToB, Extended to a popular audience.  Well, at long last, it is getting published!  If all goes well, it will be available in January of 2016.  (Publisher to be announced...I know, I'm such a sneak, but there are decisions to be made about which imprint within the publisher is best suited to the text.  You will know when I know for sure!).

Thank you, everyone, for your support of this book and the research and argument embedded in it. This has been a long road, but people's responses have been deeply encouraging. Honestly, the last and significant piece of this project is if you appreciate the book, get someone else to read it...ask your library to order it, use it in a class, or a study group/book club (I do Skype, if you're interested in me joining in).  Lectio took a chance on this book, a new look at a topic so hot that some people won't even touch it.  The editors at Lectio have been everything kind in this process, but selling the book is a grass roots movement of sorts.  I honestly don't get lots of money from this; it is not about the money.  It's about better conversation on what it means to be human, and now more than ever, we need those conversations.  We need them in our church, and we need them in our culture.

It you liked the book well enough to recommend it, or review it, or give it to a friend: thank you! 

Last but not least: Lectio has created a facebook page for the book.  I will be posting there from time to time.  Please "like" it if you want to keep up, and/or invite a friend.

Peace, Susan Windley-Daoust

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Help us help families! And the story of my crazy few months....

Blessed Lent, everyone.  The revolution has begin, and I'm up in alms!  (See what I did there?)
Performance art is overrated.

I apologize about my absence on this blog, and hope all of you are well.  I have been, um, busy! Let's see, I've been--
  1. trying to get a second (fully written) ToB book published, called The Gift of Birth
  2. teaching a lot of general education theology in a country where we lost 7.5 million believers since 2012 #frontlines
  3. writing an academic article on reader-response criticism, genre, and the Theology of the Body (trust me, its better than it sounds)
  4. trying to start a second academic article on a Theology of Disability.  The non-academic version is getting published in a couple of weeks (in Sojourners)
  5. lassoing my five kids into school, back home, to various events
  6. negotiating my son Alex's great big surgery to alleviate his CP spasticity this coming May
  7. getting named chair of my department at work, because I guess I looked bored (don't congratulate me, its all the responsibility and none of the power)
  8. continuing to promote my book Theology of the Body, Extended: The Spiritual Signs of Birth, Impairment, and Dying
  9. considering starting a new book on ToB and physician assisted suicide
  10. pondering my friend Rob Kroese's brilliant statement: "If Pi Day, the Ides of March and St. Patrick's Day could get their act together, they could combine into one awesome celebration of beer, pie, snakes and stabbing."  We so missed an opportunity here.
Oh, and this thing: my husband has been starting a small press devoted to making it easier and more practical for families to pass on the faith!

Here comes the pitch....

Here's the thing. We Catholics have a problem, a big problem. Parents are not teaching the faith to their children. They may be taking them to mass, or enrolling them in Catholic schools.  But they aren't talking about the faith--and all the studies say this has devastating effects.  But to be fair, a lot of parents don't know what to do.  They had poor catechesis themselves, or just aren't comfortable being in a teaching role of any sort.  These parents need family faith helps that are as simple as slapping together a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich: easy, tasty, solid nutrition for the next couple of hours.

My husband used to work as a development editor at a press, and has been doing free lance writing and editing for years.  He's good at design and social media engagement.  he has a solid background (including a master's degree) in Catholic theology.  He can create these books and more.  So in October, he decided to take the plunge and do it.  He created an imprint called Peanut Butter and Grace: books and resources for parents to better teach, pray, and live the faith with their kids, and books for kids to read with their parents.

Amazingly, my teaching career at a small liberal arts mission college and sporadic success as a blogger (erp) has not put us on easy street.  He got a little help to begin this ministry and has made it work so far based on a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.  Lack of sleep has factored in too.  But the time has come to fundraise some money to get these items out more quickly.  He has published three books (two books that help children and adults pray the rosary with a classical art image for each prayer, and one book for parents needing ideas beyond saying grace, called 77 Ways to Pray With Your Kids.)


He wants to publish seven more books by the end of the year.  But there are some costs--paying illustrators, copyright permissions, editing costs, and especially marketing.  People love these books so far; if you go to the website, you can read the effusive reviews.  But there needs to be marketing so others know they exist!

To that end, in addition to the top ten items I am also the current "campaign manager" for a month long crowdfunding endeavor to raise some funds to move this press forward quickly and well.  There is a lot more at the website: all about the books, published and upcoming, FAQ, the weekly newsletter with ideas to implement in your family's life this week, and more!  But consider this passing the collection plate.  Brother, if you have a dime, could you drop it in here?  There are perks for this almsgiving, and you have our heartfelt gratitude as well.  

If you don't have a dime, maybe you could spread the word.  Just like you spread peanut butter?  OK, OK, I'm done.  Thanks for reading and I promise to get to writing more ToB related a very busy and embodied life right now.  Thanks for reading!