The sun is out, the sky is blue. The air is crisp. The ocean sings to me. I love being here. The sand is grey. It's not fancy, but the sounds, smells, and scenery is the design of the Lord. Have a wonderful Friday.
Father, thank you for this time away. For your beauty everywhere I look. Thank you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
. . . is they aren’t books. And I guess I’m getting a little tired of hearing how “Jesus spoke in parables” as an example for writing fiction. Novels. Whole books consisting of 80,000 words and beyond of single stories, possibly layered, possibly mysterious, possibly symbolic, and possibly many more things. But definitely not parables. Okay?
So can we please just not use how Jesus told these mini-stories with deep spiritual symbolism which only a few could grasp due to their reluctance, hardened hearts, or lack of understanding as to how to apply them to a spiritual life most of them did not know how to live as examples for writing novels? We can give multiple reasons for why He elected to demonstrate them the way He did. Did He want them/us to consider the practical aspects of their application? Did He want them to ponder possible other meanings to these artful illustrations of everyday life? Did He want to confound them with the message hidden in the accounts? He advised His disciples to have “ears to hear”. In fact, he said this to them . . .
This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see me; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’” (Matthew 13:13-15 NIV)
The most comparable method of writing parables I see in the construction of novels is the metaphor. A metaphor gives us a description of something we observe and accept at its face value, but as we ponder our observation, we realize there are other levels to the picture. And, no, not every reader will examine the picture to see all of its angles. The plain view works for them—even if they don’t capture the essence or fullness of what it’s really saying.
So many of us Christians get caught up comparing and contrasting writers in our midst to secular writers either unfavorably or condescendingly. In spite of the accusations of inferiority, there are some amazing writers who include the gospel message in their work. There are also those excellent Christian writers who don’t. Either way, the important thing is to write what God has for you to write. You’re free to prefer whatever kind of literature you choose, but you don’t get to determine it for others. Nor should you be putting any of them down for their choices.
In my mind there is very little comparison that can be made for novels to the Bible. The Bible is non-fiction. Truth. Actuality. Written by the Holy Spirit through the words of many different men. Some were educated, some were not. God didn’t examine their platforms before He allowed them to pen His words: He gave them their platforms and their words. Few of them would have impressed anyone with their writing abilities, especially God.
We can hope for the anointing when we write, seek after God’s holy touch on our words, pray that He will oversee our creative process, and yield our hands to Him, but when we write a story, we are exercising His gifting, and we can seek His glory in the story, but it’s truly up to Him what happens in the process and beyond.
Yes, the Bible uses symbolism, metaphor, and different styles of writing to tell the truth to whoever elects to read it, hear it, see it. In these same ways and others the God of all Creation still speaks to you and me in a voice He desires us to recognize as His own.
And, yes, I would say we fiction writers use His methods to tell our tales most of us hope will reveal a form or element of truth to their readers which is certainly better than being a proponent of hollow lies or empty philosophies (Col. 2:8).
Father, we owe any ability, success, or personal glory all to you. No one else. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Robert Liparulo’s third young adult novel Gatekeepers picks up where Book Two Watcher in the Woods ends and issues a warning on the page preceding the first chapter instructing the reader to read Books One (House of Dark Shadows) and Two before this one. I would agree with this “warning”. The eventual six book series is told in increments of daily time documenting the sometimes horrific and always exciting adventures of the King family in their quest to tackle the strange and often wicked aspects of what they thought would be their dream house.
At the end of Book Two we meet a wheel-chair bound 95 year old man named Jesse who convinces his former Army Ranger nurse Keal to take him from his nursing home to California to help the King family in this crazy house even though the King family doesn’t know either of them. Before Jesse and Keal are introduced to us again, Dad is jailed on a trumped up charge suggested by the evil Taksidian who has his own reasons for wanting the family out of the house. The three King kids, the oldest Xander, David, and their little sister Toria, are left in the house alone trying to figure out a way to retrieve their kidnapped mother from the time portals where she was carried off by a man who looked more like a monster.
In this story we begin to learn a little more about the youngest Toria and how her older brother’s plan to use her in a rescue attempt is staunchly opposed by her other brother David. Conflict and courage add to their dilemma and when the “monsters” appear again and seem to expand their boundaries throughout the house, the three try to escape to an outdoor field with special powers which they hope will offer them asylum.
There is more high drama when Jesse and Keal arrive with fascinating explanations from the plucky old man, and the excitement and fear factor ratchet up as the cliffhanger ending approaches.
There are incredible high stakes adventures going on throughout the divided time slots in this third installment in the series, and young readers will be compelled to turn each page and read all the books. Parents who are looking for overt spiritual references or directions will only find subtle allusions to eternal issues. The kids themselves are not looking toward God for help at this point. The writing is exactly what you expect from thriller writer Robert Liparulo: fast pacing, sharp danger, scrambling to outdo or outrun the evil pursuers, and sheer excitement as the risks exceed the abilities of each character.
Those young people (and some adults for that matter) who love action-packed stories will experience the tension in this exhilarating adventure by Robert Liparulo, a genuine thriller writer.
Father, I ask for your continued blessings upon Robert as he meets many of the young readers who love these novels. I pray you would give him ample opportunities to share his faith, to bless them with his innate generosity and his fun-loving spirt. Be close to him, Lord, in all of his ventures, and keep him safe from all harm. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Most of you know me as a contemporary writer and reader. Not a fan of history or historical novels. I have made a few rare exceptions to my reading rule, but I’m not sure I’ve ever examined the reason for my succinct preferences. Until now. Until reading Tosca Lee’s Havah, The Story of Eve.
I’ve discovered some things about history from a personal level. My own view. While I remember the joys of yesteryears, of days gone by in my own short history, I tend to recall more frequently the regrets, the horrible mistakes, the terrible errors. Gone but not forgotten. Now covered by the Blood but re-crafted by memories which bring with them no mercy. And in reading Havah, I am taken back to my origin. And it isn’t pretty.
Unlike most of the fans of this novel, I found it very painful to read. It’s a compliment to say this about the book, and it’s no less true, but one of the reasons for it being hurtful to read is that it is just too real. I dare any woman who has experienced marriage to deny the rigors of Havah’s emotional account. The extreme pleasures subdued or eliminated by the extreme disappointments and losses speak so vividly of the contrasts we face when we step from the idyllic to the morose. And any man who has tried—at least for awhile—to tolerate or cohabitate with the emotional messes of his wife or her efforts to dominate or overturn his decisions will undoubtedly side with “the adam” in this . . . story. It’s difficult to even call it a story since it feels more like “an account based on a true story”, which of course it is.
Tosca Lee is what I affectionately (in her case) call a brainiac. She is not just a student of the Word, she is a searcher of the Word. And she is not content to merely read it, she instead delves into translations, culture, nuances, languages. Questioning those whose intellect or faith, or both, she respects, she carves out her stories from the spiritual meat she gathers. And as if that isn’t enough, she writes a superbly stunning and elegant tale in her first novel Demon . . . a memoir which is rich in revelation and insight, and then she follows it up with Havah, The Story of Eve which not only captures the essence of life for the first man and the woman created from him in the Garden, but reveals the staggering and horrific results of their disobedience.
I found my eyes blurring and caught a sob when the second son Hevel (known to us as Abel) is speaking with his mother about life and love, the past and future. His words hold wisdom, and Havah is deeply moved. In the following passage Hevel is describing his perception of “the adam”, his father.
“There is a direction of his eyes, askance, at nothing, when I know that he is thinking back. He thinks often of the place from which you came. Every day my entire life I have seen that look cross his face, for as long as I can remember. And I know he thinks of you, because sometimes when he does it, he smiles. Just a bit.”
In the context of time in the story this is a profound revelation to Havah by her second son. And that sob I initially caught turned into a stream of tears after reading the scene.
You may or may not recall upon reviewing the novel Zora and Nicky by Claudia Mair Burney, I remarked that it was a novel we not only should read but that we needed to read. And it is. Its depth and honesty in facing racism head on—well, we find ourselves neck deep in looking at fundamental issues of being human and flawed.
Havah, The Story of Eve and Demon . . . a memoir by Tosca Lee present two novels that need to be required reading. These high-concept spiritual treatises simply cannot be ignored. They will become classics in Christian literature, yet they are not solely for a Christian audience. They are profound interpretations of Biblical truths, and if you possibly can, I urge you to put them near the top of your TBR pile because you will not leave these “stories” unaffected by them. You need to read them. You really do.
Father, I ask for your continued blessing and anointing to fall upon Tosca. Lord, you have gifted her mightily, and I pray she would continue to use her gifts to glorify you. Encourage her and embrace her with your love and mercy. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Not that I’m disclaiming them as not my own or anything. But . . . my novels are not “my children”. Not “birthed” by some nine month gestation and “delivered” in excruciating pain. Nope. That analogy doesn’t work for me.
My novels are . . . me. They are an extension of myself in every character, good or bad. They are a part of my nature, my hopes, my fears, my personality, my interpretations of other personalities, my observations, my inspirations, my hates, my loves, my ugliness, my beauty, my life, my experiences, my insights, my revelations, my failings, my freedoms, my successes, my humanity, my spirituality, my writings. Yet they are not my own.
I have yielded possession of myself and anything of value that I produce to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Friend and Judge of all things I do. Only He is worthy to assess them, to give them credence or importance or value.
And though I “labor” over them to make them real, it doesn’t compare to the divine partnership of creating a child. The creation of a novel can be done without divine partnership, but to do so limits its eternal worth. So many things in our lives will be burned up as chaff simply because they have no lasting value and were not done in obedience to Christ.
My children are the result of a three-way union. Children make no choice for their parents. The merging of their fathers and mothers cannot produce life without God’s permission. We are creators of nothing. All our knowledge and skills comes from our Father. Apart from Him we can do nothing. We often say that, but do we truly translate it into our limited realities? Nothing. It has no real definition because it connotes non-existence. Void. Nothing.
No writer is more aware of her limited skills than me. I have to give credit to the Lord for His transcending my natural thoughts and giving me creative images which forge their way into characters that seem—if not limited to the type on page—to be real. I know them. I live with them. I watch them. They sometimes amaze me with their words or their deeds—or disappoint me or disgust me. As I sometimes do to myself. They could easily breathe . . . but they don’t. They are of paper or screen. Pictures of those who participate in reality: composites of life. But not alive. At least not living and breathing.
No, my novels are not my children. They’re mine through thick and thin. Not to be disowned unless destroyed. A part of me. An extension of myself. An endeavor to convey the inner workings of the human parts deep down where we all find ourselves in the squalor and are forced to admit we are dust and dirt, sinful and base. Unlovely, regardless of the adornment—physical or spiritual—we cannot hide ourselves from the One who provides all our beauty and talent. It is He who presents us with our worthiness. He alone.
In His hands I attempt to place my own, surrendering what He has given me to His leadership and direction even when . . . yes, even when it travels a different path than I dreamed we might go. His is better, no: best. Over the years I’ve learned that lesson—not easily, I might add. And, yes, I still often wrestle with that firm grip like a wayward child in a department store. But like that child I know when I strain against Him, I make it all about me. And “me” isn’t really worth the pulling away. Without Him and apart from Him, I can do nothing.
I am one of His children, His creation, and my desire is to fit securely into Him so that I cannot be seen. Only Him. That way these novels, these extensions of myself, can be extensions of Him.
Father, continue to create in me a pure heart. I long to serve you and you alone. Then I will be of use to the others you put into my life. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
What are you really saying when you say the Christian message, theme, gospel, whatever, isn’t “in your face” in a story, a novel, an article, whatever? That it’s subliminal? That it’s in the background? That it won’t be noticeable to those who aren’t believers in Jesus Christ? That the point is showcasing good versus evil? That it’s just a “clean” read? What?
If I was an agent/editor examining a query for a novel—and, yes, this is just me—if I read in the submission that the Christianity wasn’t “in your face”, I wouldn’t read any farther. Don’t roll your eyes and huff away to another blog just yet. Don’t you want to know why? Okay, don’t answer that. I’m going to tell you anyway.
If something isn’t “in your face”, then the connotation is “it” isn’t aggressively put forth. Alright. If the gospel message is aggressively put forth some of us would associate it with potentially strong preaching as in from the pulpit or what we might hear at a tent meeting with an evangelist stirring up the people. Some would think if the Christian theme isn’t “in your face”, it’s hidden, possibly cleverly woven into the story so as not to be missed but concealed without overt terms to give it away or proclamations of belief systems. Others of us would assume if something is in your face, it is plain. Perhaps no holds barred plain, but out there and obvious for sure.
For me, when a writer states the Christian theme, message, gospel, etc., isn’t “in your face”, they are rationalizing including the message at all or making an excuse for not including it. By so doing, they are also—and I wholeheartedly admit this probably isn’t intentional—giving a backhanded slam to those writers who have chosen to put the message into readers’ “faces”. We all know each novel has a specific audience, some a lot broader than others. We know who we are as writers—and readers, for that matter—in that we might prefer characters who learn who Jesus is through the course of a story or via characters who live godly lives but struggle with this, that, and the other, or we prefer subtle themes contrasting good and evil in the contemporary or a fantasy world.
I know it’s just semantics, but there seems to be a trend here which goes something like this: Let’s just write a good, enticing, clean story with people who might offer a quick prayer in the midst of crisis or refer to a vague church background or somehow implicate a spiritual awareness without vocalizing it in obvious ways. The appeal will be broader, and just maybe God will use it to get some lost soul thinking about Him. Okay. Great. Just don’t infer to “in your face” Christianity in a story as somehow inferior.
A lot of the decision making process to include overt Christianity depends upon the genre of a story. Fantasy novels proclaim and are known for the themes of good versus evil. Christian fantasy authors often incorporate all kinds of Christian symbols within that thematic framework, and, frankly, this is where the vagaries seem to work the best. It’s easier to incorporate the concept of evil being a form of the devil and the good somehow being godlike or a type of savior.
Knowing what you intend to tell in your story is key. And whatever you decide is your mission in telling the story . . . just do it. Don’t make excuses for it. Don’t insinuate your way is best. Don’t rationalize your reason for doing it. Don’t insult those who choose to do it differently. Okay?
In your face Christianity is not a bad thing. Like any other approach: as long as it’s well written.
Father, as the old hymn states: I love to tell the story . . . Thank you, Jesus. I need you in my moment to moment existence, and I need you in my stories. Thank you.
I love the CSI television dramas. All three of them. I watch nearly all the forensic, FBI, and NCIS shows. Call me morbid if you like. I read mysteries, thrillers, and military novels, too. And someday, the Lord willing, I’d love to write a mystery. I have a plot, but . . . we’ll see.
Point being, we give some technical leeway when we watch films or television dramas knowing in order to condense a story down to the allotted timeframe, the writers take liberties with several areas. We understand this—to a degree.
For those of you who happened to watch Monday night’s CSI Miami, the episode cleverly titled “And They’re Offed”, I want you to know that it was so embarrassingly and technically off as to the realities of horse racing, it was a total sham. I will grant you the average person knows nothing about horse racing, but I can assure you that now: they know even less because this was such an amateur hour effort as to be unacceptable for a show of this caliber. It was inexcusable at this professional level. In short: a travesty.
If the research is too heavy to invest in the hours it takes to get the details right, bag it. Find another plot, different characters, whatever might throw off the credibility of your story should the reader stumble upon the obvious error(s). They won’t read your work again. At least I won’t.
A grand idea for a plot does not a story make. And if you’re venturing into unknown territory, you had better find out what you need to know. Some writers love to do research and spend almost as much time finding information as they do writing the story. When they do, they’re able to create a reality we easily accept. Their work shows up in the details and allows us an easy entrance into areas and circumstances we might know nothing about but because of the expertise of their sources, we trust what we’re reading to be accurate. If we’re familiar with their subject, we’re grateful to discover they’ve given us a seamless port of entry into their story.
For professional writers of TV dramas or novels to assume that viewers or readers are too stupid to investigate their claims or portrayals . . . well, the animosity created by such an assessment creates justified critics and alienates fans. Thinking it will go unnoticed is a foolish mistake.
Do your research!
Father, help us to write carefully and to do justice to the stories you give us. Let us not be lazy in anything we do, especially what we do to honor you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Such a word. A response. Straightforward. No frills. A simple no. Wow.
Have trouble saying it? Many do. They fill their lives up with stuff they don’t want to do because they said they would. They couldn’t say no.
Even when sometimes it’s the best answer. Granted it can be the totally wrong answer, too. When yes is the best, and we answer no, guilt and regret force their way into our psyches and make us mad at ourselves or at the person to whom we gave the wrong answer.
Like most of you who come here, I visit a multitude of blogs and read a lot of opinions about writing. When they get to be so repetitive about the same old methodology for writing to get published, I find myself murmuring to myself: No.
No. There isn’t just one way to write. There are many. It’s a creative process and limiting it to a series of over-emphasized methods and means to tell a story grates on me like a buzz saw sound.
I understand the need for instruction, especially for those writers who are beginning the journey. I’m a firm believer that some things are inherent in natural writers and what they need to learn will transpire through a lot of reading and experimentation with their writing. Call it osmosis, call it transcendence, call it whatever you will. A writer will find his voice and will learn whatever grammar he must to be able to nail down a story. His first one may not be his best, but his skill set will be evident, and he will say yes to the instruction which fits his writing and confidently learn when to say no to that which does not apply to his style.
Now it’s a fine line between really being a writer and really thinking we’re a writer. Sometimes we’re wrong. We believe in our work, we have this full-blown dream, we persevere, we apply our learning, we make every effort to produce a good product. And we fail. And not just once. We fail to become a real writer. Oh, we can write some highlights, but the bulk of our stories are not written well. Our characters lack realism. Our dialogue is stilted and filled with unnatural sentences. We’ve eliminated adverbs, we’ve even used lots of verbs, and we think it sounds pretty good overall. But it doesn’t. And it’s possible not to see it because there are books published which read just like the one we wrote. And that’s a fact.
It’s tough to say no to ourselves. Easier to say no to someone else.
There are times to say no. But you gotta decide when that it is.
Father, you are our director. You want us to know and understand your plans for us. Help us to listen and discern what you want us to do, not for us but for you. For your glory, for the pleasure of pleasing you. Help us to say yes to you and no to that which conflicts with your design. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
God was generous to me: I cry easily. I know. You wonder why I consider this “generous”. And I guess I will answer because it means something to be moved to tears. Whether it’s from hearing “The Star Spangled Banner” at a sporting event or reacting to a Hallmark commercial, tears are an indication of a soul touch. And the feeling of that touch reminds me of our Lord.
Crying can be construed as a sign of weakness in men, of manipulation in women. These opinions often come from truthful evidence of such things. But the men I know do cry, sometimes weep, and are immensely embarrassed when they do—needlessly, I might add because when they are moved to tears, something of great magnitude has occurred. A soul touch. Whether it be in crisis or joy, that tremendous event renders them momentarily out of control.
For women . . . well, yes, I suppose some women have used tearful means to manipulate the men in their lives with an attitude of “Whatever works”. I wouldn’t know. I only know when I cry, it’s for real. And, yes, it’s quite often for so many unexplainable reasons as well for reasons which make perfect sense. It’s not planned and there are certainly many times when I make every effort to hold them back, but most of the time I’m unsuccessful at those endeavors.
I don’t apologize for this emotional response because it’s a heart thing. If tears erupt, I’m feeling something too deep to express any other way. I could say I wish I cried less, but to what end? That I could harden my heart to the responses of my soul? That I could dim my passion for the things which touch me in the place the tears are stored? No. I consider the tears a gift. They remind me of the depths of the human soul. Jesus wept. And although His reasons for doing so were tied to the fallen state of mankind, both His human side and His spiritual being demonstrated the feelings of such loss with tears.
We observe those things which touch our soul, and we respond. With tears of joy, sorrow, regret . . . whatever the cause it is a gift to be able to respond at all.
Father, you tell us you save our tears. You care. You experience our pain, our sorrow, our joy, our needs for what only you can provide. Thank you for the depths of the soul, the responses which you cultivate in us, the heart that is tender to those things which you expect to move us. Thank you for breaking me to get me to that place where I can feel the pain and passion of life through the eyes of the Spirit. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
"Those who cling to worthless idols
forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
But I, with a song of thanksgiving,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
Salvation comes from the Lord."
1.As a little girl I remember watching "Old Yeller" at the Northgate Theater and crying my eyes out.
2.As a young girl I must have seen the film "Tammy and the Bachelor" at least six times, probably all at the Northgate Theater.
3.I remember the first movie I saw by myself was "Camelot" with Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave, and David Hemmings.
4.As a college student I saw the black and white film "Blow Up" starring David Hemmings and Vanessa Redgrave and decided to go to England to try to find David Hemmings. (And I did find him.)
5.The next movie I saw alone was "American Graffiti". Laughing by yourself feels weird.
Lord, it's amazing to re-examine the influences of movies in my life. They really have played a role in it. Father, continue to help me live out the plan you have for me. I want to do it your way. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
If you’re going to read a novel by Susan Meissner, you’re not going to get one story. Nope. You’re going to get several layers under the guise of one story. Not only that but you’re going to get those stories with the added bonuses of pretty prose with a unique and recognizable voice that I happen to love. The mind of Susan Meissner runs deep as a well fed by streams of clear, fresh water. If you want to learn what the measure of a word is—in other words: how to be concise with perfectly chosen words—read a novel by Susan Meissner.
Look, my being a fan of her writing does not mean I will extol every novel she’s ever written because her Rachel Flynn mysteries were not my preference, but even with that series Susan’s voice is intact and her layers firm. Simply stated, Susan is an excellent writer.
You can read an interview with Susan in the archives of this blog or a recent interview with Cara Putman on her Monday blog post (http://carasmusings.blogspot.com/), or you can visit Susan at her blog here: http://susanmeissner.blogspot.com/.
In The Shape of Mercy a young woman from a wealthy family makes an independent choice to shun Stanford University for a “state school” and dorm living. “Lauren” assumes from hushed voices she recalls from the tender age of six that her father would’ve preferred a son for his only child, and she’s determined to assert herself by taking English/Literature instead of business classes as her father would’ve chosen for her.
Welcoming and taking the job to transcribe a faded but carefully preserved diary of a teenaged girl written before and during the Salem witch trials, Lauren meets the also wealthy 83 year old caretaker of this treasured piece, Abigail, who shares that this young woman, Mercy, was a distant relative and definitely not a witch.
The story fluctuates between Lauren’s current and Mercy’s past lives while blending with Abigail’s, revealing the wide gamut of choices involved in living one’s life. Mingled within these lives are the results different choices can bring to an individual. Lauren learns more than she cares to know about how she dissects the choices made in others’ lives and comes up with judgments she never intends to make.
The stirring story of Lauren’s emotional links to Mercy as the diary reveals Mercy’s keen character, a young love which develops into a sacrificial offering, and the inconclusive final passage in the diary upon her death sends Lauren on an ill-fated mission for more information.
Susan speaks the voice and records the actions of 20 year old Lauren perfectly. Perhaps it has something to do with having a daughter in that age bracket. Lauren’s actions and attitudes in all of her relationships impart just enough of that self-centered worldview mixed with immense emotion and intense confusion typical of young adulthood. The reader can both identify with and tsk at her choices, but in the end we are pleased with her actions.
Another important element of Susan’s prose is her infallible research demonstrated succinctly in this novel. The title is taken from the term used to describe the “visions” of witch-accusers in Salem. They would claim to see the “shapes” of individuals harassing and haunting them which would send them into convulsing seizures. The post-years of the Salem trials revealed that those executed were not witches at all but devoted followers of Christ.
The unnecessary death of a young woman, father-daughter relationships, three simple yet complex love stories, and friendships which transcend age and time . . . all of these and more found in the pages of The Shape of Mercy.
As is the case with the rest of the story, the title is as multi-faceted as the plot. A touching story and a good read.
Father, you see Susan’s heart, you designed her and delight in her. Help her to find rest in you, and be the supplier of all her stories and dreams as she finds her true pleasure in you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
(This rant has the propensity to alienate some of you, and I really don’t want to do that.
Then why in the world are you putting this out there for public consumption?
Well, because it’s a big deal to me.
Oh, and that makes it important: why?
Perhaps someone can relate. Someone who won’t be offended and will understand where I’m comin’ from and maybe even agree.
And if they don’t?
I guess I hope they won’t read this. Wait. No. I hope they can realize there is serious and honest and intense opposition to the politically correct response.
It’s a risk then.
Yeah, pretty much.
Go for it, I guess.
***Here goes . . . ***
I realize the new president needs prayer. I do. But I will not give in to how some Christians are suggesting (demanding) and expecting we should pray. Can’t do it. The reasons quite frankly are obvious: I am opposed to his favorable stance on abortion, I am opposed to his stance on the bail-out, socialistic approach to economics, I am opposed to his stance on manmade climate changes, and I cannot think of one single thing in his repertoire of positions that I am in favor of. Not even one. I dread his term as the President of the United States, and everyday I have to remind myself that God is greater than all my fears, and that He is the true leader of all things.
Therefore, when I pray for the man, I will pray for his true salvation and that the Holy Spirit would penetrate his heart to bring real change to his mindset. If that happens, our president will be a sound leader. Not infallible, not necessarily great because if he leads according to a godly perspective he will incur the wrath of a large portion of those who elected him. I will pray that God will bring a deep and heavy conviction upon his soul when he advances the cause of killing babies in the womb. I will pray that somehow he would be confounded when he attempts to take this country down and make it into a government-beholding socialist nation full of people who desire to depend on politicians to make their lives cushy. I will pray that somehow, some way he will rise up to the challenge of keeping this nation’s military strong and able to defend itself against evil powers that seek to destroy it.
You see, our new president stands for all that I’m completely opposed to, and he is opposed to all that I consider valuable and necessary for a country to be great. Therefore, I cannot pray that he succeeds with his agenda because I think it’s wrong. Terribly wrong.
I will pray for him.
Father, you created Barack Obama. You know his heart. You know his mind. You know when and how each of us contracts our sinful ideas and how we put them into practice. It is our nature to do so. Right now I pray you would bring this man to his knees in search of your direction and your direction alone. I pray you would change his heart. I pray you would show him where he is wrong and how he can make those areas right. I pray you would speak to him in a way he can understand and help him to clarify in his mind what is good and what is evil. I pray he would open his heart to receive from you, that you would be able to give him the insight to real truth. I pray you would give him discernment to spot corruption within his own heart and in those of others. I pray you would protect him and his family from evil. I ask it all in the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Stop and think about why your favorite authors are your favorites. Isn’t it the way they elect to tell a story? If they’re prolific authors with many novels, there are bound to be a couple you might not like as well as others, but did those stop you from looking forward to their next books? Unlikely.
Favorites don’t become that way without achieving involvement in your psyche. They appeal to your sense of humor, your sense of drama, your recognition of and appreciation for great dialogue, your attraction to intense action or thrills and chills, your reaction to the characters. You invest emotion of some kind in the story, and in whatever way they are able to do it: you like or “get” or identify with the way they tell the story—which is their voice.
All kinds of publishing professionals have discussed “voice”. They’ve done their best to describe it, to give examples of it, to define it in terms so it attempts to make sense to those who seem not to understand. Whichever one of them said this—and I apologize for not remembering who it was or if it was just one of them—“It’s what makes you who you are as a writer. To the point that when readers read your words, they can know who it is that’s writing them.” Or something like that.
We all know writers whose voices are . . . well, not memorable. Ill-defined. And then there are our favorites. We look for their new releases. And we come to expect their particular kind of writing from them. Even if they take on a somewhat different genre, we expect to hear them when we buy their books.
I could list several authors whose voices I absolutely love. I look or wait for their novels to hit the shelves because the chances of me being disappointed by their work are slim and none. Granted, my favorites have written stories I didn’t particularly like, and to a degree I wasn’t ecstatic over a book here and there, but I still appreciate their voices. And I will buy their next one simply because I trust their writing styles.
Let me list a few authors who have a distinctive voice and writing style.
Claudia Mair Burney
Dr. Harry Kraus
There are many more wonderful authors with their own unique storytelling abilities, but these few examples of fiction writers establish an identifiable voice and style. Voice sometimes dictates style, but style differs in its forms and explanations and often pertains to the genre.
If you write creatively long enough, your voice will be expressed. You can’t muzzle it. You can attempt to copy a voice you admire, but sooner or later you won’t be able to sustain the effort and you’ll find your own voice will not be denied.
Father, for all of your writers who are just beginning to discover their writing voices, I pray you would help them to maintain their authenticity. Help them to realize that you have given them their gifts and talents and you intend to take them on the journey you have ordained just for them. Help us all to remain faithful, humble, and obedient even in our writing struggles. We’re desperate for you and apart from you we can do nothing. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Is it? Not in Tedd Dekker’s and Erin Healy’s partnership new release Kiss. They take an unimaginative and overused plot and give it an amazing new twist facilitated by a kiss and/or a needy touch.
In the prologue we meet Shauna McAllister and her beloved brother Rudy in a session with her therapist Dr. Ayers. She has significant father issues which began when her father remarried the stereotypical wicked witch step-mother Patrice. Since her father is running for the presidency of the USA, she has become the black sheep daughter positioned to undermine and embarrass her father with serious confrontational discussions. Rudy is both her advocate and the attempted peacemaker between the two of them, assisting their father in every aspect of his campaign.
The next thing we know Shauna experiences an evil and harrowing darkness in her mind while lying comatose in a hospital bed. When she awakens, much of her memory from the last six months has abandoned her, but she is informed that she was driving when she crossed the center line, overcompensated and went into the water. She can remember her brother was in the car, but no one will tell her where or how badly injured Rudy is, and she begins to assume the worst. The one thing it seems everyone wants her to know is that it was all her fault, there were drugs in her system and in her car, and she is being charged for possession and reckless endangerment.
Amnesia in all its various forms is a common and sometimes overused element in drama, but the secret of this partial amnesia is a drug-induced experiment designed to cover up major fraudulent activities and some hardcore, ugly crime found by Shauna and a reporter she no longer remembers. However, unbeknownst to the antagonists in this story is a dimension which they could never have engineered in their sinister plotting.
There are still some things Shauna cannot accept about herself as she is being somewhat force fed unrecognized facts about herself and the accident. When she relates a horrifying and totally realistic dream to her supposed boyfriend, he remarks that it sounds a lot like an incident which happened to him in college. After their first kiss, she sees a whole lot more about him than she had ever known before, and the startling recollection begins her treacherous pursuit of truth about what really happened to her and Rudy.
Shauna becomes a valiant heroine as she eases her way forward to discover who she was and who she now is. At times she’s pathetic, irritating, vulnerable, naïve, and even somewhat unlikable in her bitterness, but in the end after her intense efforts to recreate her past and stop what she suspects is an effort to destroy her, we root for her courageous plans and attempts to rescue someone she has begun to remember.
There are additional important factors to the story including a multi-faceted love story, but I’m not going to spoil them for you here. This is an entertaining read with a workable twist to the use of amnesia, and the ending is redemptive. I would say the current trend of many CBA writers seems to put Christianity in the background often through solid peripheral characters, making their protagonists prodigal types or total unbelievers. Kiss is no exception although the gospel message streams throughout symbolically, keeping a low profile.
Dekker and Healy write well together, but there were a few evil characters and plot sequences which seemed stereotypical, contrived, and convenient. It depends on what you’re looking for when you read a story like this. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to audiences who like action, suspense, solving mysterious puzzles, and page-turners.
Father, you’ve given Tedd Dekker many, many stories. I pray you would continue to inspire his writing and that he would be obedient to you in all he does. Bless the work of his hands. Continue to watch over, direct, and bless Erin Healy in her career. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
When God raised up His servant, He sent Him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.
. . .
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. "What are we going to do with these men?" they asked. "Everybody living in Jersalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name."
Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."
Yay! My Shelfari account is fixed. Apparently I was not alone with the problem and somehow it was at Shelfari's end, not mine. Anyway: resolved.
Next: I hope those of you who stop by will read yesterday's interview with Mike Duran. He's interesting and articulate. Follow the link at the bottom "Technorati Tag" to visit his blog which is often controversial but always concise and entertaining if not thought provoking.
Finally, in many places Washington is Waterworld. People have suffered horrendous losses to homes and businesses. Some of the pictures are astounding simply because this was all caused from rain. Not hurricanes. Not Tsunamis. Hard, hard, hour after hour rain. I know for some it's hard to imagine that God was merciful in any of the wicked weather, but when it stopped, it stopped. For two days there was no rain. Viewing what it did to our immediate area alone as far as the property drenching and the local river higher than I've ever seen it in my life--and I've seen it very high--it is very easy to remember The Flood and picture 40 days and 40 nights of nothing but this kind of rain. Yes, the world would've been covered.
Please continue to pray for the people whose lives have been devastated by the weather if the Lord brings our area to your minds and hearts. Thank you.
God, you are gracious in ways we cannot see or imagine. I still ask for your mercy on these people and families who feel as though they have surely lost everything. Help them, Lord, to recover. You're the only who can. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.