Friday, February 22, 2008

Kingdom Sightings: The Vision Thing

My first CT column is now available online at ChristianityToday.com. (If you wandered over here from CT through the link, welcome! Thanks for reading.) Here's the behind-the-scenes story. This particular column actually started out as a possible blog post during the initial months of recovery from laser eye surgery. I had intended to blog my way through the (at many points frustrating) experience, and at first I was just going to comment on basic things like how we take our eyesight for granted, how the experience had been teaching me dependence on others (like having to be driven around during the recovery period where I couldn't drive), etc. But then the situation that I describe in the article happened, and it really blew me away. So it started to feel more like an article than just a blog entry. I was grateful to have the opportunity to use it as a CT column.

If you haven't seen it yet, here are the first few paragraphs:

The Vision Thing
Clarity came just as things got blurry.

My vision has never been good. I've worn eyeglasses since second grade and contact lenses since high school. Once during a Little League game, a line drive smacked me right on the nose, splitting my glasses' plastic frames neatly in half. My vision was so bad that at optometrists' exams, the only letter I could see on the eye chart was the big E—and then only because I knew it was an E.

For several years, I pondered whether I should have laser surgery to correct my vision. Friends and colleagues gave the procedure glowing reviews, and I read positive testimonies on websites and blogs. My main stumbling block was justifying the cost. Was it a vanity expense, like a facelift or a tummy tuck? But after losing yet another contact, I calculated that I'd spent enough money on lost lenses, contact fluid, and other supplies that it might be better stewardship to get my vision corrected.

Last year, I took the plunge. Encouraged by a 25 percent-off coupon given to me by a friend, I went ahead and had the surgery. My corneas were too thin for the normal slice-a-flap procedure, so I underwent a different procedure (which was more expensive, of course).

It didn't quite take. The doctor said that when you throw a football from 50 yards, it's harder to be on target than it is from 5 yards. My vision had been something like 20/400, and he was able to bring it to 20/40—tantalizingly close to clear vision, but still fuzzy.

[The rest of the article can be found here.]

3 comments:

thetensionishere said...

Great article!

jc said...

How did you get it onto CT? Did you ask CT to publish it? Have they asked you long time ago for an article? Do you get paid?

Al Hsu said...

jc - CT approached me about doing the column. I got a call out of the blue one day from managing editor Mark Galli inviting me to write a bimonthly column for them. Several of their other columnists were rotating off for various reasons. In the print version of the magazine, Mark introduced my column saying, "We have followed Al's writings for some time, including his blog, and we're excited that he will be able to join us as a columnist this year."

I've known Mark and many of the other CT editors for some years now through Christian publishing industry contacts and events. Mark reviewed my second book, Grieving a Suicide, a few years back, and CT reviewed my most recent book The Suburban Christian last year. I'm not privy to all the behind-the-scenes discussions as to why I was invited, but I was told that their editorial staff had a list of possible candidates and I was selected out of that batch. (The other two new columnists this year are musician Carolyn Arends, whose first column is in the March issue, and Kay Warren, who will start in April.)

And yes, I do get paid for the column as a freelance writer, on an article-by-article basis. I'm not a CT employee, though - my day job is still with IVP.