The yarns of seamen have a direct simplicity, the whole meaning of which lies within the shell of a cracked nut. But Marlow was not typical (if his propensity to spin yarns be excepted), and to him the meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside, enveloping the tale which brought it out only as a glow brings out a haze, in the likeness of one of these misty halos that sometimes are made visible by the spectral illumination of moonshine.
– Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
I spent eight months writing a book about Genesis 1. After I finished I thought, naturally enough, about getting it published. As best I can tell, publication in the popular press isn’t so much about what you write as who you know. If you’re famous, people might buy your book. If you’re buddies with literary agents, one of them might go to bat for you. I’m not famous and I don’t know anybody in the biz. I thought maybe if I could generate some buzz about the book, then maybe I could catch some agent’s attention, the agent might catch a publisher’s attention…
Who, I wondered, is most likely to be interested in this new reading of Genesis 1? Well, the text sits at the center of the creation-versus-evolution firestorm. My exegesis is relevant to that debate, even though it’s not clear which side in the argument it supports. I concluded that perhaps the evangelicals stood to benefit the most. I’m offering a literal reading of Genesis 1 that doesn’t contradict modern astrophysics or evolutionary science – the only such reading that I’m aware of. Still, my exegesis reaches unconventional conclusions about the text. Are there any evangelicals out there who are prepared at least to entertain a radically different interpretation of the Genesis 1 narrative in order to preserve its literal truth?
It had been twenty years since I’d spent any time in evangelical circles. About three months ago I started browsing around the internet in search of something like a postmodern evangelicalism. To my surprise, I found such a thing almost immediately. And so I built this blog, posted up the exegesis portion of my book, and started trolling around the blogosphere seeking to engage the post-evangelicals in a discussion of my exegesis. If I could build up a constituency of supporters, or even a strong and vocal resistance, I might achieve enough visibility for getting the book noticed, published, read.
Egotistical, manipulative, unrealistic? Idealistic, overly cautious, unrealistic? Say what you will, my mad ambition has proven to be a fantasy. As far as I can tell not one person has actually read the entirety of the Genesis 1 exegesis that has been sitting on this blog from the beginning, the exegesis that was the reason for building the blog in the first place, the blog that was the impetus for me to undertake my peregrinations through the virtual world of the emerging postmodern church. Not only that, but I’ve come to believe that this avant-garde sector or evangelicalism wouldn’t be much interested in what I have to offer even if they saw it sitting on the new releases shelf at Barnes & Noble. Cutting-edge evangelicalism has moved away from dead center, but it’s moved in a direction that makes my work tangential at best.
I believe the exegesis is a good story if you immerse yourself in it long enough to let it get to you. But even if you can suspend your belief and engage your imagination long enough to see it, the whole thing is almost sure to evaporate into unreality once you step out of the story and back into the “real” world. While no one I know of has learned anything about Genesis 1 from my blog, I’ve learned a lot from the blogosphere. I’m now beginning to draw on that knowledge in a rewritten last section to my book. It’s called “The Spectral Illumination of Moonshine,” and it’s about why the story I’ve spun in the rest of the book will never become important in the world. It’s a melancholy ending I grant, but I believe I can occupy that mental space long enough to get the thing finished. Then, of course, comes the depressing prospect of approaching the literary marketplace without a platform – worse, without even the hope of a platform emerging in the future.
Most of the next installments of my blog will draw on this final section to the Genesis 1 book, which I’m writing right now (I took a break to put up this post). If you want to brush up before the next post, you might want to read the book summary. The lead-in goes like this:
We’ve spent lifetimes in the darkened theater, immersed in the story, watching an entire universe spin itself out of thin air around us. Maybe it’s all true: the exegesis, the elohimic ethos of creation, the emergence of civilization from the formless void, the ancient story itself. Reluctantly we leave our seats, walk up the aisle, step outside. The hard and merciless sun has set, and we’re grateful for it. How many new realities did we just witness: five? six? Where have they all gone? The moon gently guides us back to a world in which these creations play no part. The five or six creations haven’t been forgotten in this world: they never were, and almost surely they never will be…
Tomorrow: The Creation of Science.