Bishop Willimon was recently interviewed about his new novel Incorporation by Faith and Leadership, a blog by Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School. Read what Willimon had to say about church life, his new book, and God.
Q: You have written many books, but this is your first novel. What is it about?
“Incorporation” is about Hope Church, which is somewhere in the Midwest, a large, aging suburban church and its inhabitants. It’s about a church staff that is busy doing divine work, but you wouldn’t know it from their contentious staff meetings and their backbiting, and the envy that goes on.
It’s about clergy called to do the work of God but finding that work challenging in different ways. It’s about laypersons who have a greater sense of God’s grace and God’s action than the clergy who are supposed to be leading them.
It’s about a young man called to the ministry, wide-eyed and naive, coming into all of this mélange of human in the divine that is Hope Church.
Ultimately, it’s about the triumph of the grace of God that these people are caught in. They’re not only caught in the mundane, utterly flat, domestic business of the church, but they’re also caught by God, who refuses to let them go, and who shows up at odd moments, and often seems absent from the divine work they are doing.
I hope it’s an affectionate but truthful look at the church from the inside out.