What Do You Think of a Traveler’s Guide?

I’ve been praying over and simmering on the book I am currently crafting — a Bible study to lead us through an exploration of suffering and joy. (Note last post.) This study will develop a theology of suffering and joy to help us make sense of the mixed bags of our lives and to help us grow up in Christ.

I thought I was going to write this book soon after completing my doctorate in 2016. I did begin various ventures in 2017, but I’m just now attempting to complete it so several groups can start using it in January 2020.  You, JNC readers, can work through drafted chapters with me, if you so desire, in the coming months.

I think the book will have twelve chapters and each chapter will have five to six sections. I thought I had decided on a book title and now I’m considering a second idea. I’d like your input.

What do you think of this title and sub-title?

Traveler’s Guide through Suffering and Joy

                                                 Navigating by the Light of Scriptural Theology

To give you a better idea of what I’m up to, you may want to check out these two old posts related to the book I’m writing:



The study guide will translate, much of the material from the dissertation into an approachable, hopefully interesting, and usable form.

In order do make the chapters easy to follow and consistent, I plan to divide each chapter into five or six parts, something like this:

1. Lesson Scope: Prep to Travel  (Big Idea)

2. Bible’s Map: Narrative and Declarative Binoculars (text of biblical story and propositional truths/precepts)

3. Adjust the Focus: Reflection and Response  (interaction with text and others)
4. Trek the Trail: Exercises in Spiritual Disciplines and Lifestyle Choices
5. Rest Stop:  Worship through Confession and Exclamation
I will have a glossary of terms (a Vocab Shop) at the end of the book.
Within this structure, I’ll place the study material and activities.
After re-reading the April 15, 2015 post, “A Case for Suffering,” I thought, well, maybe A Case for Suffering and Joy might be a more inviting title than A Traveler’s Guide through Suffering and Joy. If so, I’d have to re-word my chapter divisions, but that’s okay.
What do you think regarding the title and subtitle? Any ideas?
And what advice do you have about the organization of Bible study material?
I’d appreciate your prayer over this project!
I hope many of you will be able to access this Bible study, first through this blog site, JNC, and then more completely in book form. Through it I pray you will be strengthened! Study it with a friend or small group. As you do, let me know how it helps you and others. I’d like to use your input to revise and improve the study.
Much Gratitude!!


Categories: Joy & Suffering -- Good & Evil | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “What Do You Think of a Traveler’s Guide?

  1. Anonymous

    I like the title “ Travelers Guide” to help show me the way! Something like updating my GPS, every once in a while you need boost, try a new route, to get to that certain place in your heart or mind. Wishing you the best on your writing journey!

  2. Louis Mann

    I like the “Travelers Guide” idea. It appeals to the desire of companionship along an uneasy path that too often is walked alone. Your chapter sections seem to flow with the idea of preparation for the journey with a time of rest and reflection at the end.

    Keep ‘trekking’ girl!

    • Dr. Karen L.T. Olsen

      Thanks, Louis! That is two votes for the Travelers’ Guide title. I appreciate your encouragement and your prayers!

  3. Lynn Rose Scammon

    Oh, I MUCH prefer the Travel Guide idea! It sounds…user-friendly and appealing. The other sounds lawyerly and intellectual.
    I have a hard time reducing my comments to a nutshell, but since I’m trying to do that in this case, I would say that about sums it up.
    I have been following your blog for some years now – though I rarely comment. But I am really excited about this project and hope to follow along closely as part of the “guinea pig group.” HA

    • Dr. Karen L.T. Olsen

      Lynn, thank you so much for your input and perspective. Your reasoning, excitement, and support are exactly what I need!!! I’m so grateful, and I do hope you will comment more often. When I re-read my May 29, 2016 article the other day (referenced above), I also re-read your comments which so encouraged and blessed me then and now all over again! I had forgotten your encouragement, and let me say such interaction means so much to me! You don’t need to reduce your comments to a “nutshell” all the time, although that’s a good skill. Sometimes, seeing the process of thought is helpful — for you, others, and me — which may be especially true with this endeavor. I am sorry that it has taken me so long to get back to this book project, but the Lord is making it clear, through people like you, that now is the time. Thank you, thank you, Lynn!!

  4. Perhaps I’m the only one who likes the “A Case for Suffering and Joy” option, but that may be because it recalls to mind “A Case for Christ”, which I enjoyed immensely. I agree with Louis, however–the “Travelers Guide” title does follow thematically with the chapters you’ve outlined, and therefore would probably make the better title of the two you’re considering (in my humble opinion!).

    • Dr. Karen L.T. Olsen

      Thank you so much for your input! If I were to choose “A Case for Suffering” as the title, I would then redesign the chapter sub-divisions. This is a possibility.
      I received a call today from a reader who is also a Bible study teacher, and she likes them both but does prefer the traveler’s guide metaphor. The great thing is that I cannot go “wrong”. Either would provide a base from which to build.

      I also think that one’s preference reflects some key ways in which one engages thought. Note Lynn’s comments above. She finds the “traveler’s guide” motif more “user-friendly and appealing” and the “case for suffering” motif sounds “lawyerly and intellectual”.

      M.J.B., I suspect you are an analytical, philosophical thinker. You “enjoyed immensely” Lee Strobel’s book, “The Case for Christ”. Interestingly, I was assigned a biblical apologist as my head adviser for my research project (Dr. Braxton Hunter, who debates all over the country). That is because many people question the existence or goodness of God in light of all the suffering in the world.

      I am so happy to have your response, MJB, and all the others, because you have given me more food for thought, which I’ll probably address in my next post. Thank you!!

  5. Martin Zuidervaart

    “Traveler’s Guide” works for me, Karen, especially since you introduce the student to the vocabulary of “pedestrian theology.” The two images are a fit–walking is one way to travel. Marty

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