Solon book launch
At first glance, launching a book about doubt at a church may seem to be an odd pairing. But for Chuck Shingledecker, author of "Freedom to Doubt," it's a perfect fit.
"Doubt is the one, truly universal aspect of the Christian faith," said the Solon Springs man. "Our various traditions often have very different experiences of God, theology, prayer, and community. But everyone has experienced doubt -- whether it was last month while reading the latest book on the historical Jesus, or as a kid in Sunday school. I can think of no better way of helping Christians who struggle with their faith, than to bring people from various backgrounds together, and discuss the nature of faith and doubt."
The book launch kicks off at 6 p.m. Nov. 15 at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Solon Springs. Shingledecker will read excerpts from the book followed by an open discussion and question and answer period. Wine, cheese and dessert will be served as well. Everyone is welcome to the free event.
"For the people who attend, this is going to be a safe and humorous space to acknowledge and explore the doubts they may have -- or to support the people they love who are carrying their own doubts," said Our Savior's pastor, Nathan Winterhof. "This evening has the potential to be a very freeing and enjoyable experience for a lot of people, regardless of denomination or tradition."
Jan K. Jenson, a local writer and fellow member of the St. Croix Writers, said Shingledecker's book is thought-provoking and controversial, couched in his unique style.
"I hope the public turns out for his book launching party," Jenson said. "It will definitely be a thought-provoking and yet entertaining reading and discussion. People may well come away with a few questions of their own."
"Freedom to Doubt" is Shingledecker's second published work. His first, "The Crazy Side of Orthodoxy," used humorous satire to critique a small, ultra-conservative subset of the Easter Orthodox tradition. The Solon Springs author said this book has more universal appeal.
"It exists because of my own doubts, experiences, and struggle to stay on the path of faith," Shingledecker said. "It is not really a memoir or biography, but it is informed by my experiences. I only hope those experiences can provide some comfort to those who struggle with their doubts, as I did."
And still does.
"I believe that without doubt a deep rich faith cannot exist. So yes, in many ways I doubt," he said. "But doubt is not the same thing as denial. Doubt is simply a way of asking honest questions. And I have faith -- that God wants us to ask honest questions."
Fellow members of the St. Croix Writers played an invaluable role in helping critique and refine the book, Shingledecker said.
"St. Croix Writers' group provides a supportive, encouraging testing lab for refining literary ideas," said fellow author Thomas King. "Chuck's book is a good example of this. It will cause readers to think."
"Freedom to Doubt," published by Tellectual Press, will be released Tuesday. For more information on the book, check out the website, www.freedomtodoubt.com.