Thursday, December 08, 2011
I have a wonderful agent, and I love her dearly, but I'm also friends with other agents. Chip (Jerry) MacGregor is one of them. Chip, I'm happy to welcome you to my blog. What would you like for our readers to know about you personally?
I'm a literary agent and lifelong book guy, having worked as a writer, editor, publisher, or agent for the past 30 years. I'm most famous for being cranky on the internet, and for wearing a kilt to formal publishing occasions. I have it on good authority that the author of this blog, Lena Dooley, likes to tell people I'm her first husband. (That's not actually true. We were never married -- it was more of a “fling.”)
You are such a card, Chip, but I do like those pictures of us at the conference banquets, and so does my husband. Remember you met him at one of the banquets in Dallas. Tell us about your family.
I'm the youngest of a big family from Witch Hazel, Oregon. My parents, who didn't have much formal education, loved books and words, and taught me to love them as well. I grew up reading great stories, and I still enjoy hearing a good story (or participating in fun wordplay). I have three kids in their 20's, both my girls live in Europe, and I live on the Oregon coast.
Have you written other nonfiction books?
Lots of other books. Check the Bargain Bin at your local book warehouse. I might even have one still in print, though I doubt it. Two of the books I wrote (1001 Surprising Things You Should Know about the Bible and 1001 Surprising Things You Should Know About God) actually hit #1 on the CBA bestseller list a few years back, and are still available at Barnes & Noble -- further evidence of God showing grace to the weak-minded. But most of the things I wrote you've never heard of, nor can you find (although I should note that my Y2K Family Survival Guide probably averted a worldwide crisis and saved Western Civilization as we know it). I have published thousands of magazine and newspaper articles, and I made my living as a freelance writer for years before becoming an agent. I've coauthored books with people like Bruce Wilkinson and Howard Hendricks, and I'm still proud of Family Times and The Will of God (which I coauthored with Bruce Waltke)
Believe it or not, I'm working on a book of short stories about growing up in a small town in the wilds of the American west. Having grown up in a thriving metropolis of 300 people, surrounded by loggers and fishermen and farmers, most of whom are Scottish or Irish, I can explain important things like “what's worn under a kilt” and “how do you make haggis” and “why do you drink Red Punch at the Presbyterian church social.” I'm not an evangelical or even a social conservative, so I figure part of why the Good Lord put me here on earth was to tell good stories and make people think. I believe thoroughly that God is in the small things of life, and most Christians miss that because they're too wound up in creating new committees and explaining why we need to re-elect another Bush family member. But if we could set aside politics and committees and church potlucks, I think there are great stories to be shared, and God tends to show up in most of them.
What kinds of hobbies and leisure activities do you enjoy?
Besides reading and writing and helping people create books? I run every day, I very much like to laugh, I enjoying singing and playing Celtic music (something I am particularly bad at), and I enjoy magic. (Don't worry -- not magic spells and that sort of thing... card tricks. The sort of thing your Uncle Homer used to do in order to bore the rest of the family. It's my thing.)
Why did you write the featured book?
I have long been interested in how we can grow closer to God. I never really expected to write a book on this topic, but it kept coming up on my blog and in conversations with people, and pretty soon a publisher asked if I'd be willing to offer some miscellaneous meanderings on the topic. What I find fun about the book is that it's just me talking. I'm not one of those writers who says, “I glow in the dark -- and if you'll listen to me and do what I do, YOU TOO can glow in the dark!” I'm more a writer who says, “I'm a wreck, but I've learned a couple things. If you'd like to talk with someone who is a wreck just like you, I have a couple thoughts for you.” So the stuff that's in this book is exactly what you'd get if you sat down and began talking to me by saying, “I'm struggling with how I can grow closer to God -- do you have any thoughts?”
I do have thoughts. And in sharing them, I tell the stories of my life -- my father's suicide, and my best friend’s death, and the way we used to take our kids on pajama rides when they were little just because the world is hard and they needed to remember to laugh. I can't make a lot of promises about my book -- you won't read it and come away thinking I'm a genius, or nominate me to be the next Pope (um... assuming Presbyterians decided to elect a Pope). Instead, you'll just find ideas to try, and they take time, so it's not instant. But everything here is REAL, not some dopey made-up Principle For Being Super Spiritual. And it's the stuff I do in order to know God better; to move closer to Him.
What do you want the reader to take away from the book?
When I was 40, I met with an author I represented, Brennan Manning, who had written The Ragamuffin Gospel, which I thought was one of the most profound books I'd ever read. Brennan explained to me that most guys in the church were pretty satisfied with their spiritual life by the time they were 40 -- so wherever they were at that age, they pretty much remained there forever. (If you think about it for a while, it makes sense... most of the elders at your church were marked as “elder material” in their late 20's or 30's. Not many guys have a total life change and become spiritual giants in their 50's -- there's not many Pascals around these days.) Brennan challenged me to go deeper -- to not be the same Christian I was at 50 as I had been at 40. And that set me on a journey to figure out how I could go deeper; how I could get closer to God.
I want readers to take away the idea that there are some simple practices they can put into place that will help them move forward in their spiritual walk. No miracles, no big secrets -- just some things to try and repeat and try again, so that over time they feel themselves draw closer.
I believe this is just the kind of book most Christian readers need. Where on the Internet can the readers find you?
I've got a blog at www.chipmacgregor.com. The focus is on writing and publishing, and I'm usually loud and obnoxious, but occasionally I have a guest who says something of value. You're welcome to stop by and visit.
Thank you, Chip, for a peek into your life and your new book.
Readers, here's a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.
40 Ways to Get Closer to God
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