I just finished two days of shooting the video lessons that will accompany my book Organic Wesley, which will be published sometime later this year. That was certainly a new experience for me.
The videos were the publisher’s idea. While the book can stand on its own of course, the videos will facilitate group studies and we’re hoping they’ll be resources that congregations, small groups, book clubs, etc. will find helpful.
Each of the ten videos will be 10-15 minutes long and will correspond to the ten chapters in the book. At the end of each video I suggest questions and discussion topics. I’d like to think they will stimulate good conversation.
Just as it was difficult to edit my original manuscript, to convert it from something intended for an academic audience to something suitable for a lay audience, it was difficult to condense the contents of each chapter to a 10-15 minute talk. To do that I had to leave out a lot of the content that will be in the book, but I suppose it makes sense that the book would take on the topics in more depth than the study group videos.
The first video will be an introduction of me and (more importantly) a brief introduction to the rise of the industrial food system and the emergence of the countervailing food movement. The second video discusses the life and legacy of John Wesley. There are videos corresponding to the chapters on nutritious food, moderation/overconsumption, animal welfare, organic vs. chemical-based agriculture, globalization and local food economies, potential tension between the food movement and Wesleyan principles, recovery of a Wesleyan food ethic, and practical suggestions for living the ethic. The final chapter/video, in which I suggest specific practical steps for transitioning to healthier and more ethical food choices, was not in the original manuscript and was added at the editor’s suggestion. That chapter makes it a much better book for a lay audience I think and I enjoyed writing it.
What is the Wesleyan food ethic? Well you’d have to read the book to appreciate it fully, but riffing on Michael Pollan I reduce it to: “Eat ethically-sourced nutritious food, in moderation.”
We were fortunate to have beautiful weather so we did most of the shoots outside. Eight of the ten videos were shot here on our farm. We did one at the little country church I grew up in and we filmed most of the lesson on the local food movement at a friend’s farm. We also shot a short scene in a local grocery store. That scene was kinda fun. We shot it with an iphone camera. I felt a little like an investigative journalist.
Even though public speaking comes easy to me and even though I’ve spent much of my life speaking in courtrooms, these videos were challenging. I had scripted what I wanted to say, which in hindsight might not have been the best way to go. I could easily have done these more extemporaneously, but sometimes, while trying to recall my outline, I stumbled over words or lost my train of though. I didn’t use a teleprompter, but I had notes nearby. Usually they didn’t help me though, since I can no longer read without glasses. But the video wizard tells me they’ll be able to clean it all up and make it all look good. I certainly have some new-found respect for people who do this sort of thing regularly.
And now, thankfully, I can turn my attention back to tending the farm.
There is a lot to be done. We’re entering a season when there don’t seem to be enough hours in the day. And that makes me glad.