You mention that The Good Life was in part inspired by people's reactions to How Now Shall We Live. Can you explain?
Well, a lot of people said that they read How Now Shall We Live and wanted to give it to their non-Christian friends but they thought it was too difficult. It was a lot for the average layperson, not to mention seekers. So one day I was talking with a friend, and he said, "You know, why don't you take that book, and redo it for somebody who doesn't know anything about Christianity." And I thought, you know, that's a really great idea.
In some ways, is this a follow-up to Born Again?
Well, it's a bookend. I hope it's not the last book I write, but it's a book that reflects on my life. Born Again was the beginning of my Christian life and I could look forward to whatever God had in store for me. Now 30 years later I turn around and look back and see what lessons I've learned. It's written in a similar style as well. I tried to make it as readable and accessible as possible.
You talk a lot about your time in prison and the Watergate scandal. Do you think your life could have been as good without that detour?
No. Absolutely not. That's why in the book I say I thank God for putting me in prison, because it gave me a perspective on life that I would never have gotten otherwise. It gave me a burden for people who are hurting and suffering. And in many respects it was a significant point in my own character development and attitude toward life. It's interesting; a lot of people who have gone to prison have that same reaction. Solzhenitsyn wrote, "Bless you, prison, bless you for being in my life. There lying on the rotting prison straw I came to realize that the object of life is not prosperity as we had been made to believe but the maturing of the soul." That's always been one of my favorite quotes, from The Gulag Archipelago.
You've written the book obviously for a general audience. Did you consider going with a general trade publisher to reach a broader market?
I did. I gave it a lot of thought, actually, but I have such a good relationship with the Tyndale editors. You know, when I published Kingdoms in Conflict, that book was copublished with Zondervan and Morrow, and Zondervan sold as many copies to the general market as Morrow did. I wanted a publisher who understood what I was trying to do.
This is a big year for you. What other books are coming out?
There are some spinoff books from How Now Shall We Live. The devotional is already out. Then there's Lies That Go Unchallenged, which is basically BreakPoint commentaries that have been turned into a book.