“We all have to some degree “Judas” within us. [Jason Royle] provides a perspective I have never considered. I highly recommend this book.”~Amazon Review
RW: Jason, first of all, what is the title of your book and in one sentence tell me why I should read this book.
RW: This isn’t the first book with a different take on the man Judas from the Bible. I can see what makes it a bit unique from other works but in your own words what makes your book different?
JASON: It’s entertaining! For those who haven’t read the book, my answer probably sounds like a copout. But go trudge through some of the others and you will see. What you will get is in depth Greek analysis and excruciating exegesis. In comparison, mine is an entertainment for the main course and a little food for thought for dessert. Or, as one my friends put it: a parody with possibility.
RW: I think entertaining is a good word to use. It’s not a preachy seminary required reading type of thing. And you get it and it stays with you because of it. Now, why Judas, why did you decide to share this particular story with the world?
JASON: Because I root for the underdog. Before ordained ministry I was a Social Worker. I guess it’s in my blood. I have always had a tendency to root for the little guy; to help those unable to help themselves. What bigger underdog is there than Judas?
RW: He definitely would be considered an underdog for sure. How did you go about developing the way you tell the story? I mean, you don’t do it in a first century sort of way.
JASON: Ron, believe it or not, my inspiration actually came from a home bible study encounter in Indian Trail, NC about fifteen years ago. John (a good friend of mine) and I were talking about the lesson which included the text in John’s gospel where it says, “Satan entered into him,” (referring to Judas). That’s when John said to me, “It doesn’t seem fair, does it?” I have been pondering that comment ever since. The story developed by asking the right question: How do I turn the dining room table without scratching the wood floor? Do I just pick it up, turn it around and slam it down, or move it subtly, gently, so not to wake up the kids but still get the job done.
“I would like to commend [Jason Royle] on a book well written and extremely interesting.
It was short and to the point (60 pages). I read it in less than an hour….definitely my type of book. I look forward to reading it again…probably 30-45 minutes of pure enjoyment this time. There is much food for thought in this short story. I am not a biblical scholar, so I can’t say for sure if any other writer has portrayed Judas as a hero. For me it was very original.
I have a suggestion for [Jason Royle]. Don’t stop with Judas. Write about some other biblical characters. I’m sure many of them were misunderstood just like Judas.”~Amazon Review
RW: Tell us why you particularly are the one to tell this story.
JASON: If you’re asking about credentials, my Bachelor’s is in Social Work and my Master’s and Doctorate are in Theology.
RW: I like to see people’s answer to that without my being specific about it. It gives me an idea of them and how they think. Jason, who is Jason Royle?
JASON: Jason is a student of life, just like everyone else.
RW: What is Jason Royle?
JASON: Jason is someone who tries. In fact, that’s what I want on my tombstone someday, “He tried.” It leaves a lot of room for interpretation, I know, but stagnation is worse.
RW: I get it. Try is all we’re asked to do. Excellent idea. What’s been the reaction to your take on the story of Judas?
JASON: I have heard from young readers and older readers; liberal minded and conservative prone; college students and Sunday school teachers. All have had a similar reaction: surprised. Surprised because it wasn’t what they expected, in a good way. Reading it was enjoyable. They learned something while being entertained at the same time.
“The book makes a credible appeal to reconsider how we view Judas today, whether Satan made him betray Jesus, or if he was just the unfortunate disciple destined to commit an act that would cause his name to be reviled through the ages. The author promised that the book would not be a complex theological analysis of Judas and his actions, and I found that to be true. It was easy, interesting reading.”~Amazon Review
RW: Why do you think the story of Judas is one that, well, that I see as one not really talked about so much other than his one act that night? Virtually every part of the New Testament is looked at from so many angles and discussed but when it comes to Judas, not so much.
JASON: Good point there, Ron, virtually every character of the Bible has been put on the operating table to be examined and reexamined—except Judas. As for why he is not talked about, the reasons are many. From a pure literary standpoint, the Bible is written in the form of a comedy. Not the ha-ha-he-he funny category, but a U shaped story, a comic plot that descends into potential tragedy and then rises to a happy ending. Judas is commonly viewed as an obstacle in Jesus’ story. But was he really an obstacle? Instead of thinking of him as an obstacle, in my book I take the approach that the story had to have a happy ending, therefore Judas is an assistant to rather than a deterrent of, the ending God desires.
From a psychological standpoint, we are faced with altering our theological decisions; the one’s we’ve made up in our minds; the one’s the majority agree with; the one’s our friends and parents told us were true. To reconfigure our longstanding theological constructs we have to do something we don’t like to do: move out of our theological comfort zone.
RW: That sounds similar to some thoughts I have about traditions as opposed to actual Biblical truths. Very good points. Tell us about where you grew up and how if in any way that helped shape the way you look at the world and perhaps the Bible.
JASON: Well, Ron, my father was a preacher. I’m a PK, as the saying goes (preacher’s kid), born and raised in southern Illinois. My parents helped shape my theology and my outlook on life, as do all parents. When I went away to college in KY at the age of twenty, that’s when my theology was reshaped; it became mine for the first time.
RW: Your book isn’t a humdrum read. It combines very elements to tell a somewhat unique story. I say that to not give away anything. Man it’s difficult not giving away things about this book. Looking at your writing, who has influenced you as a writer, in your style, your approach?
JASON: That’s not an easy one, Ron, there are so many. I guess one of my earliest influences would be C. S. Lewis. Not his heady stuff, but his creative stuff like, The Screwtape Letters, The Pilgrim’s Regress and Till We Have Faces.
RW: Your book Judas: Hero Misunderstood was awarded Indie Book of the day recently. How did that come about and what did it feel like to receive that honor? For a book with such a religious theme, although not what I would call preachy, that is an accomplishment I would think.
JASON: There was no fee involved; I just submitted my book for consideration. When I got the email saying it had been selected it made my day. But what has got me even more excited is that I just found out I am a finalist in a pretty prestigious contest: The Eric Hoffer Award. My book is a finalist for The da Vinci Eye, and still in the running for a category prize.
RW: Very awesome awards there. With that kind of reaction and the reaction from the readers when can we expect the next book from you and what will it be about?
JASON: I have two in the pipeline now in The Misunderstood Series. The next one will be out this spring, Jesus vs. Santa: Christmas Misunderstood, and then in the summer, hopefully, The Rapture Misunderstood. For Jesus vs. Santa I hired and illustrator for a section of cartoon drawings that will be a feature of the book depicting funny comparisons between the two. For example, Jesus stands at the door and knocks vs. Santa just comes on in uninvited is comically illustrated. I like to think of the theme of the book as, “The Far Side” meets “Deepak Chopra.”
RW: We’ve discussed the books and now to the important things, did your wife help pick out the cool frames for your glasses in your Author Bio photo? I mean are you the fashionista in the family?
JASON: I’ll be turning forty-five next week. Thanks to my wife’s fashionable insights, she is helping me at least look younger.
RW: I knew it! It had to be her! To hip and daring to have been from a guy. Well not necessarily but I just had this feeling. If you’re like me you would be, can I see through them? Cool, I’ll buy them. Describe your writing space for us?
JASON: I live in a 1870s church parsonage in a small town in Lebanon County PA, approximately 20 miles east of Hershey, PA and 20 miles north of Lancaster, PA. Our front porch has two front doors, one for the pastor’s office and one for the house. I use a standing desk and sit behind an antique wooden desk, not in a chair, but on a large Gold’s Gym rubber body ball (to help strengthen my back). On the wall beside my inlaid bookshelf hangs my most treasured diploma: my Kindergarten diploma in a plain black frame.
RW: Wow. I don’t normally use that word in an interview because it’s just not professional but that just sounds like an awesome atmosphere to write in. What is your favorite word? How did it become your favorite word?
JASON: Curiosity. It’s what led me to where I am today. I’ve always been the one to ask, “Why?” when no one else would. I used to drive my professor’s crazy. There’s no harm in asking, my mom would always say. So, I asked… and asked.
RW: Great answer. It’s something I actually live by as well. What do you do to relax and get away from stress, from the stress of a writing session that is just frustrating you?
JASON: I have an old school duct taped punching bag in a spare room upstairs I like to make use of. On a nice day, a round of golf, but that can sometimes just add to the frustration too.
RW: Oh, man, you are so write about golf. I need to tell you about my father, my following his instructions to the letter, his follow-through and my forehead someday. What is your favorite autobiography and why?
JASON: St. Augustine’s Confessions. In the Confessions there is the young Augustine who struggles with his spiritual plight, and then there is the older Augustine who looks back over his shoulder to discover there was a path all along, he just didn’t see it before. Something I can certainly relate to. If I had to guess, probably something everyone can relate to.
RW: Nice. I like Just As I Am by Billy Graham for the exact same reasons. What is your favorite beverage and why?
JASON: Coffee. I wouldn’t have made it through college without it, nor had the stamina to stay up into the wee hours in the morning writing this book after our kids go to sleep.
JASON: Sitting on the front porch with my wife or one of my kids in the evening watching the Amish go by in their buggies.
RW: I am so jealous of that. History rolling by in the present. Amazing. Yes, the old History teacher in me is geeking a touch here. Jason, what defines you as you?
JASON: Everything and nothing.
And Judas: Hero Misunderstood is at Amazon, here.
When Jason contacted me about his book and I saw the story idea I cringed. You see it’s a story I’ve told to youth groups, my son, and others through the years. And I was afraid it would be a poorly done ‘preachy’ piece. But, I went ahead and got the book, I had $.99 left in gift money on my Amazon account, I’m broke now, just so everyone knows. But I bought the book and decided to give it a shot. I read it in one sitting and was happy I did because It does take a different path than what I have seen before. And it makes sense to the point it will stay with you. I look forward to his other Misunderstood books when they come out and I have more money if anyone ever gifts money to me again. Still not certain how or why that happened, but I didn’t complain.
“Firstly, the more you read this book the better this book gets. The first chapter seemed a tad slow, the second chapter got better, by the third chapter I was hooked.”~Amazon Review
Bio Back of Book Version:
Jason is the pastor of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania. A Social Worker before his call to full-time ministry, Jason received his Doctorate in Ministry from Sewanee: University of the South School of Theology and his Master’s from Johnson University. He and his wife, Heather, have two children (Katelyn and Nate) and one loyal but lazy dog (Rudy).
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