Bill Ireland is the pastor of the Norris Religious Fellowship in Norris, Tennessee. He has served churches in Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana, Georgia, and North Carolina. A native of Mississippi, he did his undergraduate work at Mississippi College and completed his MDiv and PhD at Southern Seminary. He has done additional study at Oxford and Georgetown University. He enjoys good books, good movies, and good conversation. His wife, Ginny Bridges Ireland, serves as a hospice chaplain for Covenant Health. They are the proud parents of a daughter, Mary Virginia.
What is your hope for how your new book, Driven, might impact both lay and non-lay readers?
The “dark night of the soul” or the “season of absence” is universal. Everyone goes through some kind of experience where we can’t find our way, or we feel God is nowhere to be found. I started writing in order to help myself sort things out and feel my way toward some sense of perspective. As the project developed, I certainly hoped it would be helpful to ministers who have experienced some of the things I have. Since I was writing about something everyone encounters, I certainly hoped it would be helpful to the lay reader.
What is “the wilderness” and why do we need a “field guide” to get through it?
The wilderness is anything that cuts us off from a sense of meaning or direction. It’s anyplace where we are grappling to find our way out of something hard and difficult. It’s anyplace where our efforts to chart a way forward are thwarted at every turn. It’s anyplace where the usual answers turn out to be flimsy.
A field guide allows to mark where we are and where we hope to go. By highlighting certain themes, I hoped to “mark the trail” and help fellow travelers.