A conversation with ‘God Stories’ author Skiff

Posted Nov. 23, 2008, at 6:51 p.m.

How do you define a “God Story,” and how did you come to be interested in this topic?

I define a God Story as something that happens to you that is so profound it confirms your belief in God or a Divine power.

I became interested in the topic when a minister asked me if I had any God Stories of my own. I did, though I hadn’t dared to share them with many people. I started wondering how many others had stories, and that put me on a quest that led to the publication of this book.

As a journalist and former investigative correspondent for CNN, did you have any misgivings about your work taking you in this direction?

Initially I did, but as I researched the idea it became clear to me that I should approach it as a journalist. The stories in this book are true to the people who have provided them. I did my best to ensure the credibility of those providing stories through the interview process and other research techniques. I also required all contributors to provide their legal names for publication. People who were not willing to go public were not considered.

You share two of your own stories in “God Stories.” Did you have any qualms about doing so?

No, because one thing I know about my stories is that when I tell them, they have a positive effect on people. They are reassuring and comforting. I feel the experiences were given to me for the purpose of sharing them.

How did you find the people whose stories are included in this book, and how did you decide which ones to include?

I first established a Web site called GodStories.com. I then used the international media to publicize the fact I was collecting stories. Surprisingly, the stories came in quickly. Some had more depth than others, and those made the first cut. I then began the interview process. In the end, I was left with a powerful book of true encounters with God.

What surprised you most about what you heard in doing this research?

What surprised me most — and, frankly, freaked me out a bit — is how many people told me stories of hearing God’s voice — an audible voice. I had never heard anything like it before, and I’m happy to be documenting it.

In gathering these stories, did you find that strong religious beliefs seemed to be a prerequisite for having an experience like this?

Surprisingly, no. Contributors were asked to fill out a survey that included a question about their beliefs. Many described themselves as spiritual, some were religious, and others said they had grown up within a specific faith but as adults didn’t feel connected with a religion, but did believe in God.

How has your work on “God Stories” affected your own religious beliefs?

I have never defined myself as religious. Three years ago when I started work on this book, I didn’t even use the word God when talking to other people; I didn’t want my personal belief to affect others. Working on this book confirmed my belief in a Divine power and took it to another level. The whole process was enlightening.

Did you find that certain themes emerged as you started gathering stories?

Yes, it was a bit surprising actually. The stories did fall into themes with similar threads. Those themes became the chapters in “God Stories.”

Did you find that these experiences are more likely to happen to a certain gender or race? Absolutely not. In fact, stories came in from both genders equally and from most cultures and faiths.

Why do you think these stories are important to share?

These stories are from real people experiencing the joys and sorrows of life who have received confirmation that there is more. Good news is always worth sharing!

Source: Crown Publishing

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