|Close Up: Mike Nappa|
|Written by Leslie Santamaria|
|Monday, 08 July 2013 02:35 PM America/New_York|
Latest project: God in Slow Motion: Reflections on Jesus and the 10 Unexpected Lessons You Can See in His Life (9781400204625, $15.99, Thomas
Why do you begin God in Slow Motion with the story of photographer Eadweard Muybridge? [While writing this book,] I was also reading a biography of Eadweard Muybridge and the beginnings of the motion picture industry. I was fascinated by his story and thought I might include it somewhere in my book. One night, after prayer, I was unable to sleep and was thinking through what I wanted to write the next morning. Muybridge kept coming to mind, and his photographic attempts to slow active life into still images that could be closely examined. I realized I was trying to do (spiritually speaking) the same kind of thing with my book. Mentally, I wanted to take a few still photographs of Jesus in action and see what I had missed in the blur of my own spiritual life and studies.
How did Muybridge’s story inspire you? Muybridge’s story was inspiration for me not to let Christ’s life (as recorded in the Gospels) simply run by me through the pages of the Bible. Instead, I wanted to linger on the scenes included there. To examine them. To ask out loud the difficult questions I’d normally hide from others. To find out, at least a little bit, what I’ve been missing in my understanding of Jesus and His intimate power in my life. To get a glimpse of the bigger, better faith—and its consequences—that I find too hard to see on most days.
What was your purpose in writing God in Slow Motion? It’s all about Jesus, about deepening intimacy with Christ. To see what discoveries God has for me when I look for Him deep in the underneath things of Christ’s life and my own. To risk seeing God as He has actually revealed Himself to our world through the Bible, regardless of how that challenges my preconceived notions of who He ought to be or why He ought to do what I expect Him to do. This book actually grew out of my own private times with God.
The book’s 10 chapters are based on 10 key events in Christ’s life. Which was the most personally challenging? The hardest chapter for me to write was “Insulting Greatness,” where I looked at the image of Christ washing His disciples’ feet. Interestingly enough, because I am of Middle Eastern descent, frequently in my life people have asked me to portray Jesus (in stage plays or VBS events or photo shoots or whatever). I have always turned them down. This picture of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet is the reason why: I could never even pretend to be that kind of selfless person. I am way too far away from this ideal … so digging into Christ’s selflessness and degrading service to others was hard for me … but I had to deal with that in the book—both Christ’s ideal and my failures to live up to His beautiful example.
You include stories from contemporary culture and history. How did you choose which stories to tell? I’m a total pop-culture nerd. I collect comics. I watch too much TV. I love movies and books and history and all that nerdy stuff. I am always reading several things at once. … When it comes time to choose stories for my own books, I typically just pull them from whatever I’m reading/watching/listening to at the time.
What else would you like Christian retailers know? I am very grateful to them for including my work in their retail ministries. In my career, my books have sold nearly 2 million copies worldwide, and I’ve had three books chart on Christian best-seller lists. The success of each of those books was a direct result of efforts by Christian retailers in their local communities. I’ve heard from readers all over the world who have shared with me how Christ met them—and changed them—through the words of my books. Where did those people get my books? Christian bookstores. I’ve needed help and encouragement myself. I’ve found what I needed in the smiles and service and products of Christian booksellers all across the nation. So, [I’d like to] just say this: Thanks!