Today I am honored to welcome J.R. Duren to my blog.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My wife and I live in Barcelona, Spain, with our little terrier Charlie. This February we're expecting our first child. We're in Barcelona to start a faith-based arts center where artists can come and create, and through the expression of their creativity and the creativity of others, experience beauty in a transcendent way. We believe beauty is part of God's character, something which points to eternal truth.
I started writing as a result of reading. When I was a kid, I read countless numbers of books. Some of my favorites were the Guinness Book of World Records, a joke book with a lemon dressed up as a cowboy on the cover, and a book about the 50 states. I don't know when it happened, but at some point before I was 8 years old I started writing as a way to express myself. Since then, writing – whether in songs, books, blogs or sermons – has been the medium of communication through which I can most accurately express myself.
Can you give our readers a short description of Living Like Lions?
Living Like Lions is a book about 20 Christian men from history who had the courage and the godliness to stand up against the cultural currents of their time. Whether it was an emperor, a philosophy, or a faulty Christian dogma, they refused to let the outside world influence their relationship with God and the resulting vision or mission. The men are from all walks of life, not just the typical professions you'd find in a series of biographies – painters, musicians, mathematicians, businessmen, and more. Most of all, the book explores the question, “Why do these lives matter to my life?”
What led you to write it?
My agent gave me a list of books for which editors were looking. Biographies were on the list. I felt like I could craft a well-written biography which would catch an editor's attention. Also, I wanted to write a book about iconoclasts....stories of men who weren't afraid to stand alone in their pursuit of their God-given dream.
How did you choose the 20 Christian men?
I chose the 20 based on my personal experiences. Many of the men from early Christianity (Augustine, Ambrose, etc.) are guys I read about in a church history book by Justo Gonzalez in seminary. Other men I read about in Ruth Tucker's "From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya" (Mott, Studd, etc.). I learned about R.G. LeTourneau after my grandpa recommended LeTourneau's autobiography.
Makoto Fujimura is a guy I heard about during some seminars at Urbana 2007. Bach and Pascal were men whom I knew were Christians but otherwise I didn't know much about. Woodrow Wilson was the product of a Google search. Oswald Chambers and Brother Lawrence were two guys whose books I'd read before and really enjoyed. I'm not sure how I stumbled across Dr. Francis Collins, but I'm glad I did.
As you can see, choosing the men was a matter of life experience, chance and other factors. I also was intentional about choosing men from a variety of occupations; Christianity is made up of men from all walks of life, very few of whom are theologians, pastors and missionaries. Most Christian biographies cover the lives of the well-known, but never properly reflect the varied occupations of Christianity's average man.
What are you working on now?
Right now I'm plying my trade in the freelance world. I write blog posts and run social media campaigns for three different companies – a private tour company in Barcelona, a mattress company in California and a real estate company in Nebraska. I also write news stories for Snooth.com, a wine website.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
Yes. Writing which lasts – the kind that influences people for decades and centuries to come – is writing which has the ability to stand outside of what is popular in the moment. In our time, writing from a place of vulnerability and expressing your own brokenness is what sells. However, I think this movement is a phase and is largely tied to an infusion of cultural self-centeredness and Christendom's disillusionment with church leadership. As important as this movement is today, I do not think it will last. Beginning writers must always seek their own voice, a voice which, in its very basic nature, is something unique and primal which defies time. Elevate that voice. Protect that voice. Don't let trends disrobe your voice. Stand on your own.
How can my readers find out more about you and your work?
You can go to my website, www.jrduren.com, to learn more about my book and about me.
If you'd like to read my other work, you can go to:
www.bcnexp.blogspot.com or www.goldcoastomaha.com/blog.
You can also go to:
Living Like Lions on Barnes and Noble
Living Like Lions on Amazon
Living Like Lions on Goodreads