Friday, September 23, 2016

Interview with Jason B. Ladd

I’m wrapping up with the week with Jason B. Ladd. He’s chatting with me about his Christian living apologetics book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview.

Jason B. Ladd is an award-winning author, US Marine, and Iraq War veteran. He has flown as an instructor pilot in both the F/A-18 and the F-16. He and his wife, Karry, have six children.

Welcome, Jason. Please tell us about your current release.
One of the Few is Christian apologetics wrapped in story. It’s the story of my life and how I went from apathetic atheist to impassioned follower of Christ. As an indie author, I was allowed to color outside the lines a bit. Some of the stories read like a novel. Some of the apologetics has an academic feel. And the vignettes about Marine Corps and fighter pilot training read like a memoir. It was pretty ambitious—maybe too ambitious. But it accomplished its purpose—to preserve the story of my faith journey for my family and for any other seekers out there.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was doing a lot of study on the Christin faith. I was really into apologetics, and at some point, I think I just needed an outlet. I wasn’t a Christian growing up, so when I came to the conclusion that what the Christian faith was true, I didn’t take it for granted. I believe anything worth believing is worth sharing. So I started sharing!

Excerpt from One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview:
It was 10 years since our first kiss on the seawall in Iwakuni, and we would celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary in June. This was one of our first serious conversations about death. When she asked this question one night in our one-bedroom San Diego condo, I was politely dismissive.

“I don’t know. Nothing? Blackness?”

Sitting upright in bed, I set down what I was reading to ponder her question. It might have been a copy of Scientific American. I liked the precision and discovery of science—the rationality of it all. An exchange like this would normally be brief and inconsequential. But something was different that night. Her approach combining concern and patience was by the Book.

“You really believe that?” she gently responded.

Her eyes longed for a husband who would take her Christian faith seriously. I sensed disappointment—even a bit of pity—as she shifted back onto her pillow. She was raised in a Christian family, but I didn’t grow up going to church. With those four words, she made me feel something unusual. It was a feeling she would never intentionally arouse but resulted from my unpreparedness to answer her simple question. I felt…stupid.

I could not tell her what I believed because I had never given it any serious consideration. I thought religion was the opiate of the masses and the cause of most world conflicts. I figured religion was for little old ladies with hymnals and people too dumb to realize Darwin killed God. Virgins don’t have babies, and dead people stay dead.

That night, I realized that I had no justification for my presuppositions other than “someone once said” or “that’s what I was taught in school.” Surely, our country’s public school system must afford equal time to all possible models for understanding the creation of the universe and the appearance of first life, right? If this God stuff is not even allowed to be taught in public school, doesn’t that mean it is heinously flawed and ridiculously naive? That is how I thought back then.

For some reason, instead of the obligatory thirty seconds normally given to these seemingly unanswerable questions, I pondered the fate of my soul. Up to that point, my views were passively atheistic and naturalistic, and the word “soul” would have meant some unknowable thing religious people talk about. I thought of our first-born son, then 15-months-old, and his baby sister who was due in the summer. What would I teach them when they ask what happens after death? “Blackness” was an unsatisfying answer resulting from twenty-six years of spiritual apathy.

I came to a disconcerting realization: I was unprepared to give my children meaningful answers to life’s important questions. This was not my first misgiving of being a father unqualified for the job. There was already a gnawing notion that although I was already a dad, I lacked something fathers should have. The unidentified shortcoming haunted me, as if a Ghost of Future Failure was walking along side, waiting for the tragedy I could neither avoid nor endure. Maybe I haven’t read enough books. I was a good reader but lacked a passion for literature.

My intuition was eventually validated, but the missing ingredient was not the quantity of reading; it was the subject. The day I began asking questions about spiritual things marked the end of an era of apathy, cowardice, and fear.

You really believe that? A single question changed my life forever. It stopped my rising tide of fighter-pilot machismo in its tracks, and I realized that professional trophies cannot shine in a home darkened by the spiritual ineptitude of their champion. I didn’t lack an education. I didn’t lack drive or courage. I was willing to face danger despite the unsettling fear that comes from a worldview whose only guarantee is death. What I lacked, I could not receive from ordinary books or the ordinary people who wrote them.

I lacked wisdom. And to get it, I would have to find God. Strike that; He would have to find me.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve written about moving our family to Alaska. It’s a much lighter read and promises to give the reader a few laughs. I have a few other ideas in the works, too. In the process of developing (a service that helps authors decide which book promotions sites are effective), I developed some techniques to effectively get book reviews. I’m considering sharing this knowledge in an e-book or an e-course.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I would have to say when I was about half way through writing the book. I was also writing for my blog FIGHTER FAITH at the time to continue developing my writing skills. But writing One of the Few was when I really developed the habit. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re doing the work, you’re a writer.

I’m past the point in life of looking for permission to claim certain titles. It’s like in the fighter pilot community. When you start flight school, they issue you a leather jacket. But you’re not supposed to wear it. You haven’t really earned it yet. And after jet training, you still don’t really wear the jacket—you haven’t been to combat yet. One day you just start wearing the jacket. The same goes with wearing the title or “writer.”

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

I have a day job as a government contractor in the Defense industry. It’s a pretty cool job, and I like it. But I like writing, too. I literally have a cabin in the woods in Alaska. I’m in it a lot. There’s a wood burning stove.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like to stand. I like ergonometric setups. I’d prefer to look up at a screen. It’s nice for your shoulders, arms, and hands to be in a natural position when at the keyboard. I know—I’m geeking out;

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
At one point, a veterinarian. At another point, an actor. I think you have to know your purpose before you can find your place. Developing a Christian worldview helped greatly.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thanks for listening, and if you know anyone searching for answers to the big questions in life, this book might be a good place to start.


Thanks for being here today, Jason. All the best with your writing!

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