With its strange title, I frequently am asked what Macedonia, Indiana is about. Normally I stumble in my answer because the book can be read on at least three levels. I’ll share those three levels, but withhold my view on the book’s ultimate meaning.
1. Volunteer opportunities in hometowns.
Using a factual, photojournalistic style, the book tells a series of inspiring stories of ordinary people who have found simple ways to help others in their hometown.
Because of the book, one featured volunteer, a woman who dons a clown suit to visit hospitals, was selected as an Indiana finalist for the Jefferson Awards– a national program recognizing unsung heroes for service in their community. Further, the Zionsville Arts Initiative has selected the cover image as the 2D artwork that best portrays the special nature of their hometown—Zionsville, Indiana.
The title is borrowed from a small town in southern Indiana, a real hometown, although none of the stories take place there.
2. A journey toward faith.
On a deeper level, the book describes my personal journey toward faith — a testimonial of sorts. My journey reflects the escalating challenges of pursuing faith by serving others. Using a documentary-style photo essay, the story begins with enjoyable service toward kids, moves to helping the hungry and the broken, and finally ends with ministering to those who may be hardest to love — prisoners. One of the benefits of organizing the book chronologically is allowing the reader to see how I took one step forward, only to take two steps back.
In this sense, the title of the book is a metaphor alluding to the journey of service by the apostle Paul toward Macedonia and to the likelihood we can find our own Macedonias close to home.
3. The problem of evil.
The “problem of evil” refers to the age-old question of how there can exist an all-knowing, all-powerful and loving God, at the same time the world is filled with evil. That has always bothered me. The book is about my struggle with that fundamental question.
Evil is laced throughout the book — as the cause of much pain among children, the deadly threats facing the homeless, the suffering and loneliness endured by the sick and the elderly, and the reason the prisoners lost their freedom. Ultimately, the fourth and final chapter contains an even more personal story. It’s about the murder of my aunt and uncle — Methodist missionaries working with street gangs — in their Midwestern version of Macedonia.
Photographically, the book is about black and white, juxtaposition and contrast, and how the existence of evil makes the good look brighter. At this level, the title refers to Macedonia in biblical times. It had its share of evil and its people nearly killed Paul, but ultimately many of them chose to grow into the Christian faith.
I hope you decide to visit Macedonia, Indiana.