SINCE THIS IS the Christmas season, I did want to follow up with another Christian writer. Today we are visiting with Alex Basile a member of the faculty at Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, New York, where he is the chairperson of its Religious Education Department and oversees a staff of 23 teachers. He is a graduate of St. John's University in Queens, New York (class of 1984), and received his Masters Degree from Fordham University in the Bronx, New York in 2001.
Alex has written four books: Finding Faith In A Godless World: A Catholic Path To God;, Lessons from The Master: Living Like Jesus; The Gentle Road To Jesus: Bringing Christ To Every Classroom and Home; and The Complete Christian: A Guide To Living (scheduled for later this year). He is a regular contributor to the website http://www.amazingcatechists.com/. In addition to his writing he is a musician and has produced 18 CDs for Kellenberg. He is a member of the band, The Irish Mist. He lives in Lynbrook, New York with his wife Allison and their two children.
Mike: Welcome Alex. Let’s get right into the change of pace here. Many of the authors I’ve interviewed write mysteries, children’s books, science fiction, and the like. You write decidedly Christian (Catholic) books. How and why did you decide to write in this area?
Alex: I have come to realize that the Catholic faith has been the most influential thing in my life. The more I learn about other religions, I am assured that the Catholic faith is the one true faith. I want others to come to love our Church in the same way. The more our culture and the media attacks the Church, the more I want to defend it. Many people take the Eucharist for granted. I spend a lot of time focusing on this Blessed Sacrament. When we are open to this gift of Christ, I believe that we can experience heaven on earth. It can transform us.
M: Have you written any. . .for lack of a better term. . .secular books or articles?
A: I am working on a book about the New York Mets. Baseball has always been a passion of mine. Being a long, suffering Mets fan, I thought that an existential look at the Mets would be interesting. I am sure that I will sneak God into the book at some point.
M: Can you give me a brief one or two line synopsis of your titles?
A: Finding Faith In A Godless World – An examination into why God exists using the Catholic faith and the ordinary things around us. The Complete Christian – As Christians, we often forget about Christ in everyday living. Using Jesus as the pattern of living will make travel, parenting, career, and each day more fulfilling. The Gentle Road To Jesus – A straightforward guide to teaching young people about Jesus Christ. Lesson From the Master -- The book discusses the traits of Jesus and how we can emulate the Master teacher and incorporate these characteristics into our lives.
M: This is the Christmas season and every year we are assaulted with secular messages, some actually contradict the messages of the newborn Savior. So taking from one of your titles, how do we find Faith in a Godless world?
A: By opening our hearts and minds, we can find God. I often tell my students that we, ourselves, are the main obstacle to God. Once we take our blinders off, we can discover His presence. It is difficult getting into the “faith game” by standing on the sidelines. As Blaise Pascal stated, the time to pray and go to church is when you least feel like doing those things.
M: Can you tell me a little about your writing style? Do you write in the evening, after the family is in bed, or early morning, etc.?
A: I usually write in the evening once I have had time to digest the happenings of the day. Being a teacher, I probably learn more from my students than they learn from me. My style is simple and straightforward. I leave the complex Theology to others. People feel as if I am sitting next to you and having a chat. If you have read my books then you have theoretically sat in my classroom.
M: Do you have any advice for writers seeking to get into the religious writing field? How difficult is it to “break into” the religious writing field?
A: Never give up. If you have a message that you believe in, keep pushing until someone publishes it. Many publishers only publish a dozen or so titles every year. Don’t take it personally when you receive a rejection letter. The competition is fierce. So many writers talk about how they had almost given up hope when the big break finally came. Write about elements of our faith that have inspired you. People are starving for spirituality. There is always something new to write about. Be an evangelist, and pray to the Holy Spirit for inspiration.
M: Do you know of any denomination-specific writing groups or organizations that someone wanting to write in the field of religion might want to examine?
A: Yes. An excellent group to belong to is the Catholic Writers Guild. I belong to this group and the local chapter of the Catholic Writers Guild of Long Island. Social and professional networking is so important. To have the endorsement and the friendship of others in the same field is vital. We can accomplish more as a group than in solitude.
M: In addition to writing, you do speaking. Tell me about your speaking engagements.
A: I speak to various groups. Since I lead many retreats at school every year, I also lead retreats for parents, catechists, and other students. I talk about faith, professional development, spiritual growth, music, sexuality, and other contemporary issues. I have spoken at conferences, conducted workshops, and given graduation addresses. I enjoy meeting others interested in learning about their faith. The “universal” element of Catholicism is evident everywhere.
M: Tell me a little about The Irish Mist.
A: I formed the group, The Irish Mist, in 1990. We have performed pop, rock, and Irish music in the New York area for more than 20 years. Our latest CD is called “Home To Ireland” and features many of the songs we love to play live. The band is composed of myself, on lead vocals and guitar, Ronnie D’Addario, on guitar, lead, and background vocals, and Michael Groarke, on piano, lead and background vocals. Ronnie and I also work together at Kellenberg Memorial High School and have produced 20 CDs together that are primarily contemporary Christian music.
M: Where can we purchase your books and CDs? How can one contact you?
A: People can purchase my books and CDs at stpauls.us (1-800-343-2522), http://www.alexbasile.com/, cdbaby, and itunes. People can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I encourage people to ask questions or write to say hello.
M: Thank you, Alex, and have a very Merry Christmas.
A: Thanks for including me in your ministry. Have a Merry Christmas!