By Tim Chermak
Wrecked recently had the chance to interrogate Bruce Nuffer of The House Studio concerning their new book 180: Stories of People Who Changed Their Lives by Changing Their Minds.
What initially caused you to consider pursuing a project like 180?
We always create products that we personally want to use. In this case we wanted to experience what a responsible individual goes through when they question a long-held opinion that could not continue to stand in the face of new learning.
Why is this an important book for Christians to read?
Changing our minds is hard enough on an ordinary basis; discovering the kinds of situations that change one’s mind on major issues teaches us what it looks like to have an open mind but still be responsible to what we choose to believe. I don’t necessarily agree with the positions all of the authors have come to in the book, but their positions aren’t what’s important. What’s important is the example they set that Christians can be reasoning, thinking individuals and still come to opposite viewpoints than what others have concluded.
Do you think the premise of the book would have been relevant, in say, 1995?
The book would have been ahead of its time then. It would have been relevant, but in those days we were still mulling over the supposed skepticism of Gen X’ers. Today we’re more interested in knowing why people believe what they believe, and we have more respect for those whose experience has led them to a certain opinion rather than someone who seems to speak a certain way simply because of their position.
From an editor’s perspective, what was the hardest part in moving this book from a dream to a reality?
We discussed whether we should include any well-known Christians in this book, and ultimately decided against that (with a few exceptions). It doesn’t matter to us how famous someone is; what matters is that they share a common belief in the person of Jesus Christ and are independent thinkers. In addition, we wanted only short pieces from each author, which meant including a great number of authors. This made it impossible to pay the writers anything compared to what their time is worth. So finding willing parties who could deliver well-written chapters in a reasonable time-frame without us needing to pressure them too much was a real logistical nightmare. But without exception, every author in the book was extremely gracious and wonderful to work with.
What is your favorite story in the book?
It depends on what day it is, and how the Holy Spirit is dealing with me that day. Some of the subjects are things I have dealt with personally at some point in my past. Other pieces discuss things I have yet to experience. I enjoy the pieces where I see how others came to the decision to commit their future to Christ, but I also love chapters that give me a look at life from a gender or racial perspective that I have no access to. (Come on, did you really expect to call out just one chapter?!)
What do you hope to accomplish by publishing the stories that comprise 180?
There are a couple things we hope to accomplish:
1. It is valuable to learn from the experience of those who have embraced the discomfort of circumstances that have collided with their ideology and met the challenge of working through that dilemma. So we hope that these chapters will serve as examples of how mature Christians can face life’s complexities without allowing their faith to be crushed. 2. We need to get better at listening to those who need to engage in meaningful debate about their faith so that we can better learn how to meet their needs in facilitating Christian maturity. These chapters are windows into the hearts of individuals who have faced real-life dilemmas; we cannot close our ears and pretend there aren’t hard questions to grapple with in our faith.
Tim is a writer hoping that somehow, someway, his work will influence the world in a positive way. He is currently an undergraduate student at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.