The Vintage Jesus book signing party is history. Al Fisher, Michele Bennet and James KinnardÂ welcomed me with warm smiles. We walked into the conference room and I got my first look at copies of the book. . . . a LOT of them.
Can you imagine autographing 1200 books? What do you write? Name of course. How legible must I be? What else should I write? Is it worth the hand wear? Which page do I sign? Which pen is best? How much can I talk and still get it right?
My name got pretty scrawly. The Matt. 1:21-23 stayed readable, but I tried to write March more than once. Fortunately, I was there a little more than an hour before Mark arrived. Since he only signed his name above mine, I needed the head start. It took only six and one half hours!
Crossway president, Lane Dennis joined us for an hour or so at lunch. IÂ paused signing for ten minutes to eat my lunch sandwich. There was also the frenzied five minutes to rescue books when I knocked over my coffee cup! Lane gave us a sneak preview of the forthcoming ESV Study Bible. The Bible itself has about three quarter million words. The Study Bible notes, representing outstanding scholarship, will exceed that by 50%. But its graphic layout with color maps and charts that made my eyes pop out.
We also saw the drawings for Death by Love, our second book, pastoral letters applying atonement themes to real life stories. Their power moved me to amazed silence. This outstanding book will be out about October 1.
The trip got a rough start. I knew about the snow in Chicago. Happily, the web reported flight status “on time.” I got to the airport, watched the aircraft arrive on time, only to hear mention of a delayÂ as boarding time approached. Then they announced a four hour delay! I called Michele. “It’s bad,” she said. “Cancel the rental car. We’ll send a limo.” That offended my plebeian nature, but pleased the part of me that values my intact skin. Then she called back: no limo’s available. Then they announced a six hour delay. That made the crew “illegal,” since they can only work so many hours. Then it was a firm five hour delay. Still an illegal crew, which made the flight unlikely. As I processed all that, they suddenly announced immediate departure. So we hustled on the plane for a great flight. So many people had already re-booked, most of us had a whole row to stretch out in. My nap felt good.
Shortly after I arrived, Al Fisher took me upstairs to his office. He brought the one copy of the book with its white dust jacket (you have to see it to appreciate how attractive it is). After some explaining of things, he turned to the back flap with Mark’s picture and bio. Only Mark’s. Al was really embarrassed. I found myself thinking it feels right. Part of my self identity refuses prominence. It just seems wrong to ride in a limo, stay in a upscale motel room, or fly first class. I “acquired” that copy of the book and asked Mark to autograph in it. It is a treasure.
Now I’m home, waiting to “kidnap” Sherry for her birthday. Shhhhh. It’s a total suprise for her!