When I first set out to write the book that would later become All Things New, I had no idea what would become of it. Would I even finish it? Would it be something worth reading? Would anyone other than a few close friends even bother to skim its pages, or would it end up a half-finished and sloppy pre-first draft on an old hard drive slowly decaying its way towards oblivion? Later on, as I put in the hours and slowly saw the book taking shape, new questions riddled my mind. First and foremost of these was, How will this book be perceived?
If you’ve read that book, then you already know how much trepidation I was feeling when I eventually finished the final draft and uploaded the first section to www.allthingsnewnovel.blogspot.com. (I spoke about all this extensively in the Author’s Note, both online and in the ebook). Still, I feel that those concerns are worth mentioning again, because they apply here, and maybe even more so.
Fact: We have no idea how any of this stuff will go down. Well, not exactly, anyway. And the farther we gaze into the future, the hazier things become. The book you’re about to read here deals with events centuries into the New World. Will the unrighteous have the thoughts and hinderances that I’ve described in these pages? Maybe. Will New World communities’ systems of organization and commerce function as they do in the fictional towns of Clive and Bighton? Who knows? Certainly not I. So why, you may be wondering, fantasize so extensively about it?
There are at least 3 reasons for doing so.
1. Meditation makes it real.
You may recall the summer conventions held last year (2014). Whether you had the privilege of attending a regional convention or one of the many international conventions, you’ll likely remember a symposium about meditating on future blessings. One of the parts featured a demonstration with a group of young brothers speaking for a few minutes about the things they each looked forward to in paradise. Everyone’s thoughts were different, but they were nevertheless encouraging and inspirational. The whole point of these talks was to get us talking and get us thinking of the future, looking beyond the mire and grime of the present system.
2. I like writing.
I’ve been writing stories, articles, and essays for as long as I can remember, and before All Things New, it was always my dream to pen a full-length novel. But about what? Pick up any paperback from the shelf of your local bookstore and scan its contents, and you’ll no doubt stumble across plenty of objectionable subject matter, even if the material is intended for juveniles. Of course, I wasn’t going to write about any of that stuff, but the options left weren’t much more appealing. It seemed that no matter what idea I came up with, I’d need to insert someone or something from this wicked old system of things, and I just didn’t have the stomach for it. And that’s when I came up with the idea for the first book. Yes! A book containing experiences from paradise, almost like reading a yearbook from the future (with a bit more dramatization, of course). The idea stuck and I pummeled my keyboard for months until I’d finally churned it out. The result was something I wasn’t ashamed to let other Witnesses read, and despite knowing that it’d never be picked up by major bookstores or win me any awards, it felt great knowing that I’d let my creative juices flow without getting them soured by questionable content.
3. People liked the last book
While I’d imagined All Things New would prove encouraging to at least a handful of those who took the time to peruse it, I never expected the overwhelming positive feedback that the book has managed to garner. To date, I’ve received dozens of emails and donations from friends around the world explaining just how encouraged and thrilled they were by the stories. Some were battling depression. Some were comforting older ones. Some had just experienced tragedy. One sister had actually been praying for help in visualizing the earthly paradise before inadvertently stumbling across the book. Needless to say, it felt good bolstering up the friends in that way.
The purpose of this book is not to spawn controversy, nor is it intended to push certain ideas. It’s merely to spark discussion. Is it speculative? Well, yes. Will some disagree with certain aspects? I imagine so. Of course, it’s likely the case that no two witnesses on Earth have the same mental picture of what paradise will be.
I genuinely hope that the words in these pages will encourage you, the reader, to ponder deeply on the blessings that lie just around the corner. And if, after pondering, you realize that something I’ve written is scripturally way off base, you can always email me.
EK Jonathan, March 2015