Name: Rob Oberto
Book Title: Intimacy With God: One Man’s Journey
Your book’s Amazon purchase link:
What is your book about?
Intimacy With God: One Man’s Journey is an inspiring spiritual memoir of my journey from secular skepticism to a personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a story of desire for God, and of how God won and healed my heart.
The book chronicles God’s powerful and fatherly interventions in my life. These accounts reassure us that God is real, that the Bible is true, and that the Paradise of Heaven is more beautiful than we hope it to be.
Intimacy With God: One Man’s Journey helps us to see how God reaches into our lives to deepen our relationship with Him. Most people reject His efforts, but this story encourages us to open our hearts to His and to experience awe and intimacy with Almighty God.
What inspired you to write your book?
A serious illness in 2011 afforded me time to reflect on God’s work in my life.
I was reluctant to discuss these experiences openly, but it was time for me to better understand and share them with others. My research of major Church writers over the past two millennia helped me to appreciate and understand these experiences. I became increasingly compelled to do what I didn’t want to do: Write a spiritual memoir.
Can you describe your writing process?
A memoir, of any kind, is an unpacking of memories: past actions, the influence of others, emotional responses, and thought processes. Memories, I discovered, get filed under categories, but there are many details filed under topics within each category. The author must revisit each event and unpack it. Emotions were the most difficult to grasp and explain—what was obvious to me was not always obvious to editors and test readers.
I chose editors from different geographical regions. This was a good decision because nuanced regional presuppositions could be confusing. For example, my school system did not have a junior high, just grades one through eight and high school. A reader who attended a junior high school would assume I made an error on that point. You can’t predict what a reader does, or doesn’t, know.
My writing was limited to weekends, and editing to weeknights. Each chapter was submitted to editors, which led to many rewrites. The manuscript was ready for a review panel after eighteen months.
The writing process surprised me. I kept trying to write to an outline—as I had done in my master’s and doctoral dissertations—but a spiritual memoir doesn’t fit an outline. Instead, it demands writing events within a context, within a chronology, within a theme. That may seem like an outline, but the internal unpacking of past events often pushed the story in unpredictable directions.
How did you come to do what you’re doing today?
A chronic health condition in 2015, different from the one stated above, forced me into early retirement. Now book marketing, promotion, blogging, book design, and writing projects consume my time.
Can you describe a typical day in your life?
I usually research between the hours of 8–10 a.m., and write from 10–2 p.m. The remainder of the day is focused on book production, blogs, or marketing tasks.
What do you most enjoy about what you do?
Helping readers develop their personal spiritual lives.
Are there any people and/or books that have inspired you along your journey?
There have been two people who provided me with significant insight and discernment in how God works in our lives. The first was Gordon MacDonald, author of Ordering Your Private World, and my first pastor in Lexington, MA. The second was St. Teresa of Avila, a Spanish Carmelite nun who lived in the sixteenth century. She has been designated a Doctor of the Church in Roman Catholicism. From her, I learned that my experiences placed me solidly in a Christian spiritual tradition of which I had been ignorant.
I normally read conservative, evangelical books, but the following expanded my understanding of the spiritual dynamics understood in the first two millennia of Christianity:
Aquilina, Mike. The Mass of the Early Christians. Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 2007.
Aumann, Jordan., O.P. Christian Spirituality in the Catholic Tradition. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1985.
Aumann, Jordan., O.P. Spiritual Theology. New York: Continuum, 1980.
Clement of Alexandria. Intimacy With God, trans. David W. Bercot. Amberson, PA: Scroll Publishing, 2008
Dubay, Thomas., S.M. Fire Within. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1989.
Gallagher, Timothy M., O.M.V. The Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living. The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2005.
Maier, Paul. Eusebius—The Church History: A New Translation with Commentary. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1999.
Martin, Ralph. The Fulfillment Of All Desire. Steubenville: Emmaus Road Publishing, 2006.
St. Teresa of Avila. Interior Castle. Radford: Wilder Publications, 2008.
St. Teresa of Avila. The Way of Perfection. Ignatio Hills Press.
Can you share something that people may be surprised to learn about you?
I have been a skydiver, aircraft owner and pilot, downhill skier, and I have most recently taken up snowshoeing. But my delight has been being married to my childhood sweetheart for 35 years, and to being the dad of our two wonderful daughters.
What’s next for you?
My current writing project is a series of Bible study and prayer journals. Those that will be available by September are The Gospel of John, the Gospel of Mark, and the book of Acts.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
The NFAA is the best deal in the United States! I had been a member of another large writers association, but the conferences were very expensive and geared toward fiction.