My New Novel

putting-away-childish-thingsMy new novel, Putting Away Childish Things, was released April 20, 2010. Here my teachings on Christianity are present in a new form—fiction. I hope my book will be an engaging way for readers to learn about the important issues dividing Christians today. Along the way, we join with the characters to ask the hard questions such as what does the Bible really teach? Who is Jesus? What is the nature of faith today? This is a story that promises to leave us different in the end than when we started, as we learn how even in the twenty-first century, God works in mysterious ways.

In this story, we meet Kate—a popular religion professor at a liberal arts college in a small Midwestern town who thinks her life is right on track. She loves her job, is happy with her personal and spiritual life, and her guilty pleasure consists of passing her afternoons at the local pub with a pint of Guinness and a cigarette. Life is good. Kate is up for tenure when it all starts to go wrong.

The novel is available at a 10% discount in the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Bookstore (503-790-2877, email) or online here.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. I lost my comment when I hit the wrong key so here goes again. I received your novel day before yesterday and finished reading it at midnight last night. Well done! Excellent characterizations and wonderful poetry throughout. I’m hoping you will pick up on Kate and Martin when she goes to Scudder and tell us of their sprirtual journey together after all those years of separation.

    An old woman in Orange loves you and sends a big hug!

  2. William H.J. McGee

    On p 23 you describe an NPR station, KBNK, as broadcasting commercials. NPR stations don’t have commercials.

    I’m enjoying the book very much.

    Met you in Houston at FCT functions.

  3. Dr. Borg,

    Your book is a real joy. The Plot keeps you turning the pages and the theology and philosophy fit very nicely into the plot. A think it is a unique and fine achievement.

    Based on autobiographical statements from your previous (non-fiction) work it appears that you have written yourself into a character or two. I think that’s a nice touch.

    I have a question for you. Kate’s book on C. S. Lewis is really rather a fascniating theme. I’ve long thought that we do wrong to simply lump the whole of Lewis into “conservative Christianity.” I am curious, do you yourself share the view you create for Kate? That is, do you think there is a marked difference in the later Lewis, away from apologetics toward relatonship?

    I ask because I’ve long thought this about Lewis, and it was exteremey intereting to me to see a character in your book think this. I recall a few scattered comments from early works of your own which seem to suggest you have a positive view of some aspects of Lewis’ thought.

    I am very curious about this.

    Yours,

    Matt

  4. Thank you and congratulations on your book which I thoroughly enjoyed.
    For me, it synthesized my understanding of the Bible, the role of Jesus and the evolution of Christianity addressed in far more detail in your “serious” books, of which I’ve now read five.
    I am not a Christian, but through the odd mystical experiences (not unlike Kate’s) and through study and practice (albeit inconsistent and erratic) over the past 20 years (I’m now 66), God is central to my life and being. I know that God is a God of love, not a God of judgment, condemnation and retribution. I know that Jesus is His Son and my brother (and everyone’s brother as well).
    Finally I am so glad that there are many Christians like you around seeking the truth and having the courage to air it.
    As with your other books, I’ll be re-reading this one again soon and look forward to the next one.
    In peace,
    Don De Lene

  5. I have just read your novel. It kept my interest, but I am afraid that the didactic element somewhat overshadowed the development of character and action. I regret that you found it useful to “humanize” the main character by having her smoke, since that makes it difficult for me to empathize with her. (I can make allowances for older literature in which characters smoked, but find it irritating in more recent literature.)

    I think there is a small editing problem on page 243. Kate is leading a classroom discussion, but abruptly about two inches from the bottom of the page we are thrust into a The Way meeting, with the words “Tonight we’re going to focus on ….” Surely there should have at least been a double space or some other indication that the scene was being changed.

    The way this novel was constructed will give me a good deal to think about in planning a novel I might possibly write—some things to emulate, some to avoid!

    (It seems to me that Robert A. Heinlein, in his early and middle period novels, pulled off the combination of didacticism and story telling in an ideal way. His last novels were another matter, and his reputation might have been stronger if he had not lived so long or known when to quit! )

    I quite agree with the previous comment about a possible sequel to this book, which I think you have neatly set up possibilities for. If you write it I hope you will back off from rubbing the reader’s nose in political correctness—-the painfully exhaustive “inclusiveness” of the cast of characters, etc. And if you write it I hope you will resist the temptation to have an endless list of sequels to the sequels, a la Susan Howatch and her increasingly tiresome series of novels laid in the Church of England.

    Paul deLespinasse
    Corvallis, Oregon

  6. I don’t typically read fictional books, but since I knew this one would have important theological substance and be set within a frame of a narrative of a life lived, I could’t pass it up. And I am so glad that I didn’t. What a breath of very fresh air this read was for me!
    I’m still holding out for a book written by Marcus Borg on comparative religion, much the same as was delivered in an address on Youtube, but along the lines of being much more comprehensive in scope. I think he (you) would be the perfect author to take on such an undertaking and do very well with it, being able to reach an audience far and wide. Mr. Borg, you are truly a Godsend to my life and becoming acquainted with your books has restored my faith in God within the postmodern context in which I am so entrenched (especially in my personal thinking, which I believe I have my culture to thank).

  7. Frances Craig

    To echo another comment: I am hoping for more about Kate as her journey continues; so much is left unsaid . . . did she stay only one year at Scudder? do she and Martin get ‘back together’? if she returns to Wells, does she achieve tenure? and what about that endowed chair . . . who gets that plum? In the preface, you claim not to be a novelist. Thank you for becoming one!

  8. I also noticed the editing confusion on page 243 noted above. And, found another possible typo on page 297, top paragraph, last line: “So I don’t WHAT to be seduced by fame.”

    Loved the book! I’m going to loan it out to a couple of friends, then read it again.
    It struck me right where I am in my spiritual trip. Thanks.

  9. I just finished the new book, your first novel. I don’t typically read novels but since I am a fan of your nonfiction I decided to read it. Fiction and believable characters are hard to write and you did a credible job your first time out. I think fiction reaches an audience that would be unlikely to read your nonfiction so that was a good decision. My only criticism is why did Kate have to smoke? And she seemed a little masculine (beer drinker in a pub alone). If you do write a follow up, you might have a woman editor help you with Kate’s femininity. And drop the smoking please! It is not healthy and does not reflect appreciating our greatest gift: life. Thank you.

  10. Bob Hargreaves

    I bought Putting Away Childish Things on my way home last Sunday from celebrating Eucharist and preaching as a supply priest (at an Episcopal church outside Portland, Maine), started reading it that evening, and finished it last night (Monday). Record time even for an avid reader like me. I devoured it, maybe because the discussions are about things that are very much part of my spiritual journey at this point in my life. You have done a superb job of making clear and alive the issues that I see Christians around me struggling with. I wish I could sit down right now with Kate and Martin and have a good heart-to-heart about the stuff that matters. I need someone that I’d feel free to do that with. You spoke to my heart and mind, both. Thank you.

  11. I have nearly finished your novel, and instead of rushing to the end, I have been rationing my reading out over several days. When a book is this enlightening and also enjoyable, I tend to want to make it last! I did notice the editing errors in a couple of spots, but that seems to be the case with many books lately.

    Thanks for an excellent and pleasurable way to review the ideas from your non-fiction booksand to remember how much we agreed with your ideas then, and even more now. In the midst of churches leaving the ELCA because of the voting in Minneapolis last August, it is good to reinforce our beliefs.

    Were the names Kate and Martin chosen for their Reformation significance? Just wondered.

    Our daughter, a costumer, met you in Bodrun, Turkey, a few years ago when National Geographic was filming its series, “Science of the Bible”–she was impressed when her mom and dad had used your books for our church study group.

  12. I had the good fortune to be given your book ” Putting Away Childish Things” by a very good friend. I really appreciated reading it.

    Two points:
    [1] is personal: I always considered myself more of a God-ian than a Christ-ian. Jesus’ main purpose was to bring us closer to God. His focus was on God and not himself. Thus I became somewhat of a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ member of my church, as too many would criticize my viewpoint…and the Baptists, among others, would throw me out. Some terms while accurate can be burdensome for me.
    [2] I wish you had a listing in the back of the book on all the different sources used within the book. Yes, I could have made my own list. I decided not to so as not to detract not from the story but what the story was about.

    A final note: This book hasn’t changed the way I think about being a Christian. Instead it has assisted me in my growing understanding of my own relationship to God…which comes about because of Jesus.

    I did ask to have the book on the national United Methodist Women’s reading program. It will be interesting to see what happens with this.

  13. Thank you for your beautifully written and insightful first novel, “Putting Away Childish Things.” As I continue to explore, to question, to evolve in my personal relationship with my
    God, I found the storyline and dialogue in your book to be very thought provoking and helpful. I have recommended your novel to many, many of my friends.
    Pax et bonum!

  14. Thank you for your wonderful new novel. I read it earlier this summer, and now have the pleasure of presenting it for our adult forum at our small Episcopal church in Northern Utah.. “Putting Away Childish Things” has been very well received and we are enjoying lively discussions. Each of us is finding a great deal to relate with in this book: religion, politics, even sex. It has it all.