Monday, December 17, 2012

...even Ask "How Can You Possibly..." (Part 2)

Consider the very first book title that began with "The Complete Idiot's Guide to..." It is quite possible (probable, in fact) that someone initially responded to the book title with something like, "You can't sell a book that calls its own readers idiots or dummies.”
But now, even if you have never read an "Idiot's guide" yourself, we all know that the book is not actually written to self-proclaimed idiots. This would apply to the “… for Dummies” books also.
Now, regarding the series HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY®, what we hope to accomplish is something of far greater significance and importance. We are trying to change culture, or rather, change a teeny tiny part of the present culture, specifically, the part of people’s minds that relate and react to questions that begin with these four words: “How can you possibly…” Right now, this sub-phrase is used as rhetorical weaponry. It is an accusa-tion, for the most part. Not a question, but an implication that there is NO answer. But imagine if that were to change someday…
Now, imagine a time in the future when a HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY® book is as famil-iar as the Idiot's and Dummies books are today. You are at a social gathering and a couple of people are getting into a heated debate about some political topic. Imagine one of them standing up, puffing out his chest and saying, "What?! You’re crazy! How can you possi-bly..."
But then this excited person just trails off for a moment. He sees, in his mind, a half-dozen HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY® books flashing across his memory.
Then, instead of finishing his rhetorical question, he simply says, "Hmm. I wonder if there is a ‘How Can You Possibly’ book out there on this subject."
“Nope!” says someone across the room. “I’ve checked. There isn’t a book. But there is a HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY® podcast that’s similar..
“Really,” says that man, who just moments ago, was about to assert the IMpossibility of… whatever the issue was.
But now, just as he was in the midst of saying something rhetorical, accusatory and mind-closing, his mind now reversed directions as he considered the existence of a book that might contain that answer.
Behold! From a non-answer to a possible answer.
From the implied impossible to the ponderously possible.
It's a simple goal, isn't it? Changing rhetorical questions to real ones. It would be nice to change all of them. But, at least, we might be able to change how people react to those questions that begin with "How can you possibly...", whether they are saying it or hearing it.
And THAT is the goal of the HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY® book series. And that’s why I trademarked it.
P.S. Here are some titles that are “in process”, meaning, I have willing and qualified contributors lined up.
With the exception of this first one on Muslim feminism (finished and should be pub-lished by February), until I generate development funds, the rest of them will be slow in coming:
HCYP be a Muslim Feminist? by Raheel Raza
HCYP Make a Case Against Teaching? by a retired Penn State professor Larry Spence
HCYP be a Black Tea Party Advocate? by… well, by a Black Tea Party Advocate, of course, though I’m still not sure that the title is right.
HCYP be a Black Mormon?” by several contributors
HCYP Think Spider-man II is Better than Citizen Kane?” by several contributors, in-cluding a Foreword by Stan Lee (seriously!)
HYCP Protect the Borders with Open Immigration?” by… me!
HYCP be a Mormon and a Republican?”by me (Though I wish an LDS Democrat would take this one on, utilizing the same technique that I used in writing “HCYP be a Mormon and a Democrat?”
HCYP Build a Hobbit Hole in Your Own Backyard? by me and another "Joe" who has also build one in his backyard

Saturday, December 15, 2012

...even Ask "How Can You Possibly..." (Part 1)

Plenty of people get the impression that How Can You Possibly be a Mormon and a Democrat? is anti-Democrat. It’s not at all. Far from it. The book actually answers the question.

Still, why didn’t I title the book something like “How you CAN be a Mormon Democrat?”? Great question… and a common one, I am sure. Just last week, someone posted the following comment under a radio interview I had done about my book:
I just don't get why he gave this book such a provocative title. He didn't really answer that question. I've read reviews of this book and it's supposed to be a very mature, civil book that presents both sides. So why the immature title? PS I'm a Mormon and a Democrat.

His reaction is totally understandable. As a Mormon Democrat, hearing that question has always been especially painful because it's not a question but an accusation: never really asking how you can be but implying that you cannot be.

Now, I suspect (and this is based on experience), that he would very quickly appreciate a book titled "How Can You Possibly be a Mormon and a Republican?" (That book is in the works, by the way.)
In fact, many a Mormon Democrat has replied exactly that way. But they're not asking the question sincerely, either. They are posing it, not as a question with a potentially valid answer, but as a rhetorical question, implying that being a Mormon Republican is a truly and obviously inconsistent.

But this is classic “eye for an eye” behavior. We got these two questions going back and forth, but neither side is asking their question with sincerity. Neither side asks the question with a mind open to the POSSIBILITY that there might be a really good (even great!) answer.

At the same time, BOTH sides tend to get offended that other is even asking the question at all! Ah, how Screwtape laughs.

One side does not think the question needs to be asked, but the other side is not actu-ally asking the question anyway. And there they stand, at a stalemate, forever accusing each other of being accusatory and closed minded, while the question itself gets lost.

But, if only the question was truly open for the asking. If only it were asked with real intent. Perhaps then, it might actually get heard. Perhaps then, it might get answered.

How can you possibly be a Mormon Democrat? Or a Mormon Republican? Until there is more sincerity from both sides (to both ask and answer), it doesn’t even matter what the question is.

(to be continued)