Saturday, 6 March 2010

Choose a title for my book

I'll have a new book coming out before long with Cascade. It's a collection of short pieces: blog posts, pieces written for magazines and such, as well as a good deal of new material (including pieces on friendship, suicide, law, music, theology as comedy and tragedy, etc). So it's a collection of theological vignettes and improvisations, all of them exploring the intersection of theology and culture.

But there's a problem: some people are good at thinking of sexy book titles; I'm not one of those people. So can you help me come up with a catchy title? All I've got so far is a subtitle, Improvisations in Theology and Culture – I quite like this, though I'm happy to change it as well if you have a better idea.

Please leave your suggestions in the comments – the winning title will be immortalised on the cover of the book. And as a token of thanks, I'll also send you a copy of the book, plus a $20 Amazon voucher (so that you can buy something better to read).

Thanks for your help!

77 Comments:

Weekend Fisher said...

You're a Dylan fan, right? You might do a tangential reference to something of his.

Take care & God bless
WF

So long as you don't title it "Theology: FAIL!" it'll probably be ok. ;)

Brad said...

Ben, you turned me on to Kevin Hart, and from memory we are both fans of "The Last Day." There are some great theological turns of phrase in that poem to draw from, especially as they might relate to "improvisations." For example:

Rewritten Stories
Each From the End
Time to Say the Right Things At Last
Flowering Into Flames
Stories Rewritten Each From the End

Okay, really this was just an excuse to re-read that poem. Blessings on the book publication!

Anonymous said...

You might be making the same mistake as Kraft here. Just call it CheesyMite and get on with it.

Anonymous said...

REAL FOR RANDOM: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

POP CREDOS.. & GUTTER HYMNS

Uh..

HYMNPROVISING?? HOW TO HYMNPROVISE?

Okay I'll stop now

-kevshaw

Mike McVey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Student said...

Your title will sexily state improvisations of the intersection of theology and culture.

Brainstorming here. I see "Twist" like Moses serpent on a stick (an overused image; I'm only brainstorming.)

Or crash bang hit (objects hit each other at an intersection.)

I will think more. I like your word Intersection but it's not quite right for a title.

Mike McVey said...

Possible Titles:
* Blogology
* On the Fly
* Living Improvisations
* Dogma Alive
* Living Dogma

Possible Subtitles:
: Intersecting Theology and Culture
: Sketches of How Theology Intersects With Culture
: The Mixing of Culture and Theology

Anthony said...

Ben, if you are keen to follow the music allusion in your subtitle:

Un/easy Modulations
Contrapuntus
Momente
Reverie
Dissonance(s)

Kenneth said...

How about "Talk on Corners: Improvisations in Theology and Culture"

Rob L said...

Once more, from the top: subtitle

Chris Grataski said...

Down There by the Train
(or some other Tom Waits allusion)

Michael F. Bird said...

How about:

Shooting Dogmatics from the Hip: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

Talking God at Star Bucks: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

Gossipping about God: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

Meeting God in Unexpected Places: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

Plessey said...

Theoture 1 : Improvisations in Theology and Culture

I'm sure you will be having a series.

BTW I remember somewhere in your "Theology for beginners" series that you said you would try and flesh out the series into a book. Any chance of that happening sometime. That series was what hooked me into theology.

Ben Myers said...

Hey Plessey — you've no idea how delighted I am to hear that the "theology for beginners" series was so useful! After I finished the series, I was planning to publish it, and I did a lot of work revising/expanding the material for a book. But the more I worked over it, the more I was dissatisfied with the whole approach — so I decided just to scrap it. But at some point I'd still love to start again from scratch with a (different) "theology for beginners" book. Maybe I should do it as another blog series some time?

kim fabricius said...

Couldn't resist punning with your name, mate:

Ben There
Benchmarks

Or:

Laptop Theology
Microtheology
Texting, Texting
This, That, and the Wholly Other
Musing My Religion
Email to the Romans
Blah, Blah, Blah

Do you want me to go on? ;)

::aaron g:: said...

1. Mumbling Words (pace Welcome Wagon)
2. Faith and Theology

Steve said...

Musical titles:

Figured Bass
Continuo


or

Extemporaneous Ineloquence
Ejaculations

No giggling at the last one.

remylow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
remylow said...

how about:

'After the Last Post'

or

'Past the Last Post'

Michael Jensen said...

Love Supreme.

Fat said...

On Being - A type of theology

Nothing better to read.


But I rather warmed to the 'Past the Last Post' of remylow and kim's 'Benchmarks' and 'Laptop Theology'

wsvanderlugt said...

I think your subtitle is great! I'm working on a PhD in theatrical improvisation and theology, so here are a few title ideas hinting at the intersection of improvisation, culture and theology:

Timely Truth: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

Transpositions: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

Creative Fidelity: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

Re-Novation: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

Patrik said...

With that subtitle you have to have a jazz reference in the title. How about "Sketches of Heaven"

Shane said...

"Half-Cocked"

thinkingblueguitars said...

Dylan-inspired suggestions:

I Once Loved a Woman, A Child I Am Told: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

My Love She Speaks Like Silence: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

The Night Blows Cold and Rainy: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

All the Gifts that Wise Men Bring: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

My own suggestions:

Hobo Psalms: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

The Blue Strings Wavered: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

The Dancer or the Dance: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

Night is Over Mountains: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

Losing My Religion: Improvisations in Theology and Culture (Okay, so that was REM...)

A Blind Man Saw the Truth One Day: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

Paper Wings, Electric Ice: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

Angels With Electric Wings: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

The Words Took Fire and Fled: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

Christopher said...

How about:

"No Adiaphora"

or

"Secular Parables"

or

"Theoluminescence"

J said...

Learning the Secret Handshake: an Insider's Guide to Success in the Theo-Bureaucracy

Dan Reid said...

Essays from Beneath the Pew: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

Between Faith and Theology: Improvising on God and Culture

"Improvisations" is a clunky word, Ben. Give it some action. And I think the main title should play off your well known "brand," which is your blog.

myleswerntz said...

From a fellow Tom Waits admirer:

Between Glitter and Doom: Conversations in Theology and Culture

tortoise said...

Bending the Knee: Improvisations in Theology & Culture.
Epistles to the Ether: Improvisations... etc
Drawings in the Dust: Improvisations... (an allusion to that curious aside in John 8.6)

Austin Eisele said...

"Well, We have come this far"

(publishing blog posts! Come on!)

Bryan said...

I'd go with:

Bringing It All Back Home:
Improvisations in Theology and Culture

let intertextualities abound:)

Anonymous said...

Capitulating to the Frontier: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

J said...

Jee-zuss is my Aeroplane: Preachin' the Gospel for Fun and for Profit

Student said...

The General Dance: Improvisations in Theology & Culture. Problem is Merton already used the first bit.

What of using a title or line from an essay?

Anonymous said...

If you want to sell a ton of books, the answer is easy: the title should be "Oprah's Book Club Recommends: Improvisations in Theology and Culture."

If you think the riches would prove too much a temptation, however, I would second Christopher's nomination of "Secular Parables: Improvisations in Theology and Culture."

S. M. Garrett said...

Ben,
I know George MacDonald used this book title but it seems apropos:

A Dish of Orts: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

Stephen

Lisa Nichols Hickman said...

Syncopated Time: Shifts in Theology and Culture

or

Syncopated Times: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

In jazz, accents fall between the beats - which leads to an element of surprise - this shift in accent, when a normally weak note becomes the stressed note works as a wonderful metaphor the types of essays you write engaging shifts and surprises in theology and culture.

Ed Gentry said...

Theological Jazz : Improvisations on Theology and Culture

Troy Polidori said...

"God is a place where some holy spectacle lies": Improvisations in Theology and Culture by Ben Myers

Anonymous said...

Avant-garde: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

Matt Wilcoxen said...

Oops, forgot to sign in for that last comment.

If you're wanting to be cute you could try:

Avant-God: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

CJW said...

Acknowledgement

cynthia r. nielsen said...

How about:

Improvisational Fragments: Exploring the Interstices of Theology and Culture

David Mackinder said...

Intersections

Stephen Lawson said...

"Good Enough for Jazz: Improvised Theology for Amateur Theologians"

;-)

Chris TerryNelson said...

Surprised by Christ: Improvisations on Theology and Culture

micah said...

Their Eyes Were Watching Blog
Shameless Plug: I did a post on fictional book titles a while ago.

Anonymous said...

@thinkingblueguitars

Sorry but "Losing my Religion" has already been snatched from REM by Tom Frame's work on Unbelief in Australia.

Petra said...

Hi Ben, am relatively new to your blog. If you want a sexy book title, you'll need a woman's touch. And I think something like -

"A groping in the dark - my bastardised offerings on theology and culture"

or

"Moments of ecstasy - theology and culture between the sheets"


These should also appeal to the Australian sense of humour. "improvisations" is overdone. It would be better to use something else.

"On a wing and a prayer - fragments on theology and culture"

I suppose it depends on your targeted audience. But if you want something on the intersection between theology and culture, don't take yourself to seriously on the front cover! Have some fun with it, because you will be hard pressed to sell theology to anyone.

bruce said...

Navigating the Stars of Leo with a Lamb: improvisations on theology and culture

bruce said...

My Friends are Legion: improvisations on theology and culture offline

bruce said...

Loopaper: theological reflections on culture you can recycle

bruce said...

just kidding about the last one... you do know I'm one of your biggest fans?

Anna M Blanch said...

Wow - some of those suggestions are interesting...

I like your subtitle.

Anna M Blanch said...

Ps: Mat Rogers' autobiography was titled "on a wing and a prayer".. that's the cronulla player.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ben,

My suggestion is 'Post It Notes: Improvisations on Theology & Culture'

Mike E

Trevor said...

(The) Spirit in Cyberspace: Improvisations in Theology and Culture (in the Digital Dimension)- though your readership might expand to include New Age spirit questers...

I like 'Dogmatics in Binary', but it sounds too much like an egregious Theology:FAIL.

A Digital Interlude: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

Christ's Technological Incompetency: Jewish Blogging in the First Century (there has to be a book in that, even if it's not this one...)

Tyler Wittman said...

> Amongst the Egyptians: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

> Mediated Spontaneity: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

I don't know the general flavor of the pieces, but this could work if they've got any attitude:

> The Spontaneous Contrarian: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

> A Pendulum in a Pantheon: Improvisations in Theology and Culture (maybe too overblown a reference to Foucault's pendulum, except this is a different 'pendulum' observing the movement of culture - 'pantheon' should be self-evident)

Mike Spreng said...

Comming from a marketing perspective, I think you should change it a bit. I like something with the "intersection" label. If the title is too complex you risk scaring the laity away.

Kampen said...

I like Mike E's idea with post it notes but I'd just go with "Post It: Improvisations on Theology & Culture" or "Post-its: Improvisations on Theology & Culture".

My Dylan suggestion is
"Visions of Theology that Conquer my Mind: Improvisations on Theology & Culture"

My 3rd suggestion is
"Florelegium: Improvisations on Theology & Culture"
(although, in this case, 'improvisations' would perhaps be redundant considering the meaning of 'florelegium' (a term I am consistently fascinated with)).

Miranda said...

Free Form: Improvisations on Theology and Culture
Ash to Ash, Dust to Dust: Improvisations...
Modern Litiany:...
Spiritual Flotsam and Jetsam:...

Other than that, I got nothin'.

Paul Fromont said...

On the Stage of the Everyday: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

Anonymous said...

Unnecessary publication #9045689
or
Find This All Online @ _____
or
CV Line +1

jk!!!

Anonymous said...

how about something like... a picture of someone texting at a busy intersection; a crossing, cinema, restaurants... The title is 'Texts at the Intersection'

Anonymous said...

Divine Diversions: Improvisations in Theology and Culture
Divine Comedy: Having Culture and Theology to Tea
Shrimp and Chocolate: Improvisations in Theology and Culture
God's Laboratory: Mixing Culture and Theology

I like the last one best. It does need to be somewhat unexpected.
Ann

Anthony Douglas said...

Not that I have any great hopes, but at least I think this particular pun is still unclaimed...

A Book of Bits: (picking up the computer angle)
or better
Bits and Pieces:

If you were a Beatles fan you could always go with The White Album, given the current cover design.

Todd said...

Hearing Harmony Within the Dissonance: Reflections on Theology and Culture.

Jim said...

21st Century Pensees

Perrin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
P. Werner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
P. Werner said...

MISC.
Miscellaneous Reflections on Faith and Culture.

A book's title should represent a book's contents.

Steve Martin said...

'In God's Blender'

The challenging mix of theology and culture.

ltpalculict said...

Eclectic Stew: A Little Bit of Everything

Chris Donato said...

God in the Pot: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

Walking the World: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

The Pilgrim Life: Improvisations in Theology and Culture

Robert Heaney said...

A bit late/too late for this party? But I think: "Blown to Pieces" is what I would go for - affirming both the pneumatological and fragmentary. You could bolt on any of the sub-headings already talked about if you like.

Do I get a free copy? :)

Enjoyed reading recent stuff on the preamble - especially as I'm doing so from the perspective of a School of Theology and Religious Studies in Africa.

Anonymous said...

Many of the suggested titles just play around with musical allusions. That is not a good way to title a book. The best title I have seen is "Theological Jazz" with the author's subtitle. But I agree with the comment that a book's title should reflect it's content. Moreover, good titles often "carry" the thesis or the golden thread that pulls the pieces of the book together. If the author thinks 'improvisations' is that theme (what would the opposite of improvisation be?), then that should be in the main title, not the subtitle. Is the theme of improvisation influenced by Sam Wells' use of the term? If so, that is a theatrical reference more than a musical one, and carries the notion of performance, that theology is something that is not simply thought, but performed in everyday life. Thus a title like 'Theology in the Practice of Everyday Life.'

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