Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Five Questions for John Alan Turner

My friend John Dobbs has asked me five questions about my blog. Here they are, followed by my response.

1. In your first post you said, "I have no idea where this whole blog thing will go." What are your impressions of the blogger explosion? Do you think this is a long term phenomenon or a trendy flash in the pan? Do you have a blogger mentor, or are you an original? How important is it to you to blog regularly?

Blogging has taken off in a way I never dreamed it would – not just for me but for the whole world. And I think it’s here for a while. People thought email and instant messaging would be short-lived. Instead, they revolutionized the way people communicate. I think blogging may have a similar impact on the publishing industry. I know it’s already changing the way news is reported.

Personally, I don’t really have a “blogger mentor” – never even considered that until you asked me. I do have several blogs that I like to read, but mostly I just share what’s on my mind. I would say it’s important for me to blog regularly, but I’ve been so busy lately that I’ve been hit and miss.

2. As an avid bookreader, how do you decide which book to read next? You have a fairly ecclectic list of books you recommend. What is your favorite source for finding books to read?

Believe it or not, the place I find most of the books I read is in the books I read. I’m one of those weird people who actually reads the footnotes and bibliographies. I also look for names I can trust on the back. For example, I recently picked up Simon Chan’s Spiritual Theology just because Dallas Willard had a quote on the back. The third way I get new books into the pile is through conversations with others. I was emailing back and forth with a friend of mine before Christmas, and he said something that I really liked. I wrote him back and asked if I could use that quote somewhere, and he – somewhat reluctantly I might add – confessed to having “borrowed” it from Abraham Heschel. I was familiar with some of Heschel’s writings but hadn’t ever sat down to read one all the way through. He recommended God In Search of Man, and I will be forever grateful.

3. Since you are a writer by trade, do you use your posts to float ideas, see what the reactions are, and then use those to clarify your chapters ... or are your posts totally separate from what you are writing professionally at the moment? Will I find one of my responses in a future book? :)

Absolutely, I do. In fact, I had a series of posts about a month ago dealing with parenting. Those are actually sections of the book I’m working on. I’m not sure if you’ve made an appearance yet, but one comment did make the book because it was so heartfelt and got to the core of what so many parents feel.

4. You have written very little about your family. There were some posts about your children, a mention of your parents, and an affirmation that Jill was not pregnant in a few posts! I can only guess that this is purposeful (privacy is not a bad thing). Tell us three things about your family that would give us some insight into the John Alan Turner household!

Actually, I thought I wrote more frequently about my family than I apparently do! I don’t want my blog to become “too inside” for casual readers. I know I don’t enjoy blogs that are all about what we had for dinner last night and the latest health news of the kids and all that. When I do write about my wife and kids, I try to make it something accessible for everyone. I also know first-hand what it was like to grow up in a fishbowl. Hello, my name is John, and I’m a Preacher’s Kid. (Everyone now say: “Hello, John.”). So, I don’t want to overexpose my kids and keep them from having a normal lifestyle.

Three things about my family that would give you some insight into my household:

One, my father is very academically credentialed. I’m talking about terminal degrees in Theology, Christian Education and Biblical Counseling. So, intellectually speaking I tend to be an over-achiever – still trying to earn favor in his eyes, I’m afraid. That one thing shapes the contents of my house (books, music, movies, etc.) probably more than anything else.

Two, my wife is a better writer than I am. But I remember things better than she does.

Three, my kids are funnier than I am. And the best part is they don’t know it yet.

5. What one thing have you really meant to do lately, but you just haven't made the time?

Do you want the whole list or just the top 10? Probably the most important is my grandfather. He’s slowly losing his battle with Alzheimer’s disease, and I really need to get down to visit him – more for my father’s sake than anything else. My father has just asked me to do the funeral, so I know this is going to be a very difficult time for him. I seem to have overscheduled myself (something that – oddly enough – I learned from him) into being unavailable for him during this traumatic time.

That got way more serious than I thought it might. But it forced me to think – that last question wasn’t answered as easily as the first four.

So, there you have it -- five questions about me and my blog. Do you feel like you know me better now?