Friday, November 07, 2008

Getting to Know: Richard B. Couser

Richard Couser graduated from Yale University and the Stanford Law School. As a trial lawyer, he has become the master of reality from the facts of people’s lives. As a counselor to churches and religious organizations, he has gained a broad perspective on spiritual and theological issues in the real world. He has been a frequent speaker at continuing education seminars for attorneys. Couser served for ten years on the board of The Christian Legal Society, a national organization of Christian attorneys. Currently he serves on its Advisory Council. He has also served as a church elder, board member and officer of other Christian organizations, including a Christian school system, a camp and conference center, and the New Hampshire Council of Churches. Couser is married, with two married children and seven grandchildren. He lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he is active in law practice.

Author of The Deuteronomy Project, Couser explains the book:
What is the essential message of The Deuteronomy Project? It reveals through the characters’ experiences that the mind of God can be discerned through Deuteronomy, and applied to the reality of the contemporary believer. Deuteronomy is one of the four books of the Old Testament most referred to by Jesus and the New Testament writers. It pulls together and teaches from all the events of the Jews since they left Egypt but its importance is to all believers, not just to the Jews. I found it to be the most compelling books of the Old Testament and one of the most exciting and fascinating books of the entire Bible.
Why cover Deuteronomy through fiction? Most books on Deuteronomy are commentaries. Some would only be valuable to pastors or seminary students. Commentaries, however valuable they may be, are not very interesting for the average believers to read. A fiction book has the power to bring Deuteronomy into a story that people can read, love, and understand through the characters as they study and learn.
Describe the characters in your story. Hal is a retired pastor who, despite the limitations of his life as a small town pastor, is much like Moses in his teaching, or Dante's Virgil in his way of showing others in the book how the Bible really affects people. Chris is a believer with a limited understanding and a desire to grow in the Lord through Hal and his teaching.
What do your characters experience? Through specific events and conversations they learn from Deuteronomy how to understand God and His relationship with them, and how to apply this ancient teaching to situations in their lives.
Some consider biblical books like Deuteronomy archaic or irrelevant. What would you say to them? One of Hal's contributions to the people he is teaching in the book is how the "archaic and inconsequential" text of Deuteronomy expresses the mind of God in ways that, if understood, are neither archaic nor inconsequential. The reader, like Hal's students, learns the answers, along with why each verse and teaching can be understood in a contemporary context.
What do you mean by the subtitle A Journey into the Mind of God? The truths expressed in Deuteronomy from Moses come not from Moses' ideas but from God's communication to Moses. Understanding the teaching of Deuteronomy through Moses gives us an understanding of God’s heart and mind. Thus a study and understanding of Deuteronomy is "a journey into the mind of God."
How have you personally gained an understanding of the mind of God? I have gotten to know Him through many years of studying the Bible, as well as of over 40 books and commentaries on Deuteronomy, written by some of the greatest pastors and Christian leaders in history. My knowledge of Him does not come from my own personal perception or opinion but from what God has taught me through His Word and some wonderful Godly writers.
Who would enjoy reading The Deuteronomy Project? Adult, educated Christians who are curious about faith will especially enjoy this story although many others may as well. I see it as a good choice for study groups too, who can read chapters and discuss them. Pastors and professionals as well will especially relate to the characters.
How does your book differ from others that address Deuteronomy? It is unique in that I am using a fictional approach, using story to bring the teaching to life through events, discussions, and personal concerns of Hal and his learners.
What will readers gain from this story? It uses a variety of fictional events, including discussion, and adventures, all the time weaving in the Deuteronomy text and bringing the characters and the readers to understanding of it as the depth of God’s mind. It does not simply quote the text and then give a statement of what it means. Rather, the reader must learn what the characters learn through their own lives and their discussions with Hal.