In an earlier post I complained about the recent TV series Castle. Although I still believe that actors Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic who play writer Richard Castle and Detective Kate Beckett respectively have little pop in their romantic chemistry, they've settled into a workable marriage that demonstrates their love for one another. In my former post I wondered if the series had lost its appeal, the episodes less than satisfying. The exception to that, and the indication that the series still has it, are the past two-part episodes concluded Monday evening.
A wicked serial killer, thought possibly dead from being shot during an attack on Castle and Beckett, surfaces under a fake name with an equally evil plastic surgeon for his girlfriend who was suspected of being involved in crimes but without concrete proof. Their objective rests in getting to both Castle and Beckett and causing them incalculable pain.
The two-part story gave credence to the type of serial killers presented in The Patrick Bower Files. Intelligent, obsessive, organized, and compelled to do evil without feeling a hint of remorse, the two pair up to commit their evil deeds.
With proper escalating tension the writers take the viewers on a tedious search for these two killers with Castle's and Beckett's lives in the balance. These episodes remind me the show still has something left to give. Using the police procedural method of solving the crime with those outside-the-box Castle ideas to help work the frustrating circumstances, finally success is achieved with the ultimate relief and satisfaction.
So. The series still has some life left to it with two of their best episodes ever airing this last two weeks. Well done.
Father, may those who've used your gifts well acknowledge you as the source. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
It's very difficult for many people to realize the human race is born into sin. Condemned to a hellish destination when they reach the God-determined age of accountability. No: man is not born good in his heart nor is he innately good with personal growth. As some parents will tell you, all you have to do to understand this is to watch their precious baby become a two year old or their pre-teen graduate to a teenager. The sin nature glares at them from those once submissive eyes now defiant and bent on doing what's not in their best interests and often harmful to them or others.
So. Do you agree with the premise presented in the Patrick Bowers Files that there is a thin thread separating us from the most evil among us? Those who delight in experiencing the torturous death of others in all kinds of macabre ways? Are we just one action away from becoming like "them"?
Patrick Bowers is not a Christian in this series. In the early books he's the typical mad-at-God for taking the life of his first wife who'd become a believer. Able to decipher the most complex puzzles left by demonic killers, Patrick couldn't - and wouldn't - understand the bigger picture of a spiritual life committed to the One True God his wife had embraced. In the first few books of the series, he resents God and holds the bitterness of losing a loved one, blaming God for taking her away from him before they even had time to get started. Not only is she gone, but her daughter from a previous relationship is now his step-daughter (Tessa), and he has no idea how to be a father to her, now once again married to his work for relief. As the series continues, his spiritual outlook changes slightly as Tessa begins to investigate the faith of her mother.
From the standpoint of an unbeliever like Patrick it's easy to understand how the veil between the serial killers he investigates and hopes to put away and mankind in general is viewed as tenuous, thin, an easily crossed line without intense attention to things such as lawful integrity, job protocol, and being the master of one's soul. Without Jesus no one is the master of his soul and that's where this thought of fighting the demons of the soul produces Patrick's thinking. In a way he's correct about humanity. Very little separates the degrees of sin and where it can take a person. It's a spiritual battle whether or not it is viewed as such. Some people feel terrible guilt for having lied to a friend while others take pleasure in picturing the brutal death of someone who's betrayed them or hurt them. They see it as okay as long as it takes place in their minds and manages to stay there.
Many serial killers are methodical, obsessive, intelligent, and determined, planning contingencies for every action in order to accomplish their evil goals. The demons prodding their ruptured minds push and prod them into sociopathic or psychopathic actions, bringing mild satisfaction at accomplishing their wicked deeds with no feeling about the harm or pain they've caused. Some social climbers or business moguls fit that basic description but plan no physical harm to those they walk over to get where they're going.
So. What do you think about us being just that uneasy step away from those who cross all the lines of acceptable human conduct? Is Patrick Bowers right - or partially right? Are we able to keep the demons at bay in order not to be like "them"?
Father, you're the only One who keeps us clean. We sin, you deliver. So much depends on our allegiance to your Love, Grace, Beauty, and Mercy. We must repent. We must turn to Jesus, your only way out of our human mess. Thank you, Lord and Savior. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
If you've ever had the pleasure of meeting Steven James, it would be difficult for you to imagine him writing the stories in the Patrick Bowers Series/Files. Certainly not because of the complex plots, after all he's a Master Storyteller, and his intelligence does not go unnoticed in conversations with him. He's tall with a slender build, athletic, good looking, wears hip glasses, and is friendly while assessing the situation. But let's face it, the serial killers in this series are as psychopathic as any characters can get. Demonic. Wicked. Intelligent. And look "normal" to the unsuspecting.
Checkmate presents another complex, interwoven masterpiece of past killers conspiring with each other only to realize extreme betrayal while Patrick tries to figure out who he's dealing with after a fatal bombing at a disguised FBI facility and a particularly brutal murder of an FBI employee at his residence. The meticulous but confounding clues left at the scene take time to decipher and also indicate the awareness of Patrick Bowers being involved in the investigation.
Philosophically throughout this series Patrick Bowers is forced to contemplate his personal demons, maintaining that keeping them at bay is the only thing separating him - and all of us - from the evil psyches of serial killers. Choosing not to indulge our basest desires when we are tempted by revenge or ridding the world of someone evil, is the one thing that keeps us from becoming like "them". In the search for both the killer and his personal objective in this story Patrick is acutely aware of his own preferences for the demise of the criminal he seeks. When he learns of the collaboration gone wrong between two of the most dreaded serial killers he has known, he must make a deal with the devil to hopefully thwart the intent of one of them and of course we all know what the devil does with "deals".
Patrick's best friend FBI Special Agent Ralph Hawkins helps Patrick investigate and pursue whoever is responsible for the deaths at the bombing and the sadistic murder of another agent, but it's understood he must leave when his wife Brineesha goes into labor. As the "story" unfolds and Patrick discovers the depths (literally) this killer will go to, Patrick must warn Ralph about the danger his family faces.
With a particularly satisfying ending to this chess game series, Patrick can choose to realize he can find closure without sacrificing his integrity. Evil must be eliminated whenever possible and sometimes it can come against itself and not survive.
Intermittent subplots with Patrick's daughter Tessa are always entertaining and the pointed but brief conversations with Lien-hua prove to produce a difficult mental discussion inside Patrick's head. The spiritual aspects are faint but there.
Checkmate is a fitting and fulfilling conclusion to this series, and I certainly hope Patrick Bowers isn't done solving heinous crimes. Couldn't give a higher recommendation for these thrillers. Read them in order and be prepared for an explosive ending (no pun intended).
Father, you know Steven. I pray your continued blessing upon his life and work and may He do as you've instructed him to do. Keep him safe from all harm and watch over his family. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
The Mentalistwill air its final episode next Wednesday. The series has been through radical change in its last few seasons and survived. As with all good series, there comes a time when there's no new direction it can go, and actors, writers, directors, and producers finally arrive at the place to conclude the series.
I've enjoyed the series although the first linking up with the FBI proved rocky and unsettled, but the writers soon reached their groove and were able to salvage the episodes post "Red John". No easy task, but they managed to create new interesting characters at the Austin, Texas, office while increasing the depth of Patrick Jane and Teresa Lisbon. Maintaining the character of Kimball Cho brought stability and familiarity with the "old" cast and kept the mystique of Patrick Jane's amazing mental prowess in the forefront of solving crimes.
I'll miss the show but I can say the series has gone everywhere it could go, and it deserves a good send-off. Simon Baker and Robin Tunney were perfect for their roles, sustaining their created personas throughout while adding nuances and background to their characters.
It's not easy to see a well-liked series come to an end especially when it seems too soon. In the case of The Mentalist, it seems just right.
Father, once again I thank you for the amazing talents you give to people. My prayer is always that they would realize from whom their creativity comes. In the Name of Jesus, Amen
We've been told by Solomon, "There's nothing new under the sun." He was right those thousands of years ago, and his wise words still stand today. Now this fact makes it difficult to ponder telling a story which can be labeled "unique", "unusual", or even "imaginative". But it doesn't stop storytellers from trying. And the truth is most readers (and writers) have little corners of their mental worlds where others haven't gone - in some cases don't want to traverse.
The common passages in the journey, such as those innumerable novels that deal with romance through the ages, produce little in the new idea department. So why do they continue to outsell every other genre you ask. I would answer because so many women in particular, not exclusively, love to read about love. Some want the typical happily ever after, some want the star-crossed stories, some want the forbidden love, and others just want the "normal" pursuit, trials, and the final arrival at true love. It speaks of a heart's desire, innate, at much different levels in each individual, but a natural leaning of the heart.
It doesn't matter that there's nothing new under the sun. In a way that's freeing because attempting to come up with something "new" isn't likely, no matter how far out you dare to travel. However, what will be different, at least some of the time, is how you tell the story. Your voice, your words, your hopes, your penetrating insights into the characters you create - all of this can present the nuances of "new". Because although your humanity is linked to the billions before and after you, God has made you wonderfully "different." Somehow.
Tell the story. Give it your most personal touch. It will be different, ever so slightly or spectacularly, even if it's not new.
Father, thank you for giving us our individual differences. May your insights and revelation knowledge surface in our writing to make it all worthwhile. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
A book, you say? A novel? Okay then. You wish to enter the world of fiction where the words on the page speak of truth but portray it in unique ways. Here are a few things you might prepare to experience:
Novelists write in all kinds of ways. Some of them will tell you what's best for you starting out. It won't be. Well, it could be. There are no universal truths or rules in creating.
You will be inundated with skill books to help you learn to really write. If you read them all, you'll probably decide you're incapable of writing a novel after all. Don't. Don't think it. Throughout your writing life, just as in all of life, there will be value and dross. Use the valuable instruction and dump the dross. If an author listened and obeyed every teaching, novels would be robotic, standard-issue, boring, and unenlightening. There are enough of those novels already published.
Honest evaluation. Do you know proper English? Do you understand plot and crisis and melancholy and climax and solution? Drama and comedy? Science fiction versus fantasy? Do you recognize literary, thriller, cozy mystery, romance, historical? "Proper" English is rarely used in today's contemporary fiction. But to know it means you can manipulate the language effectively, choosing to ignore the more formal forms of the language. It's important to know the right way in order to master the not-so-right way. Dialogue must be authentic. Descriptions accurate. Can you create with words?
If you're disciplined in pursuit of the things you choose to do, you're ahead of this writing game. It's a taskmaster and not easy to apply. Discipline simply means sticking to it. You will form your own schedule, but you need to heed it in order to finish your work. Don't make an impossible schedule. You know yourself. What will really work for you amidst all the other demands of life? You may be limited to once a week. Just keep at it.
Still want to write that Great American Novel? How about just make a niche for yourself in the realm of fiction? How about just finishing one idea for a story that's been nagging you for a long time? Go ahead. Do it. Try it. Can't hurt.
Father, for all those you've called to tell stories, give us what we need to write them. From your heart to ours. Please. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
When the sky is dark, it reflects humanity. Stained with darkness. Until we see the Light. If we see the right light.
So many times in life, we do wrong things, think wrong things, want wrong things, and get wrong things. Who's to say what's "wrong", so many ask. And for the bulk of humanity, it's a logical question. When you make your own rules, create your own gods or idols, design your own lifestyles, and use only yourself to determine them, then it's you who says what's right and wrong - but it's just for you.
While it may not be hard for people to imagine a general sense of right and wrong, few want to abide by true definitions of each if it interferes with their preconceived notions or their desires. In the state of darkness, sin decides actions. If the heart is tender, regret ensues - but with no place to go. It's forced away with rationalization because the only known standard is made up and must survive.
For most people living in darkness, hardness becomes a necessity. The mental aspects of committing to wrong thinking, acting, and doing produce no sense of real hope, cause vacillation, and sometimes demand reconstruction of rules for life. The psyche confuses the issues causing the unsettled reactions. Not only right and wrong are blurred, but all kinds of things lose succinct definition.
The dark skies inevitably give way to light. Recede and are overcome by the light of day. In humanity the only way to allow darkness to recede or recant is by pursuing the Light for the human soul. God sent the Light in Jesus, the redemption for the darkness dwelling in the souls of man.
Live in the perpetual darkness or seek the Light. God leaves the decision in your hands. And whether we like it or not, He is the only One who defines right and wrong. He's the only One who brings the light when the skies are dark.
Father, thank you for defining our world as it stands today, swathed in darkness, some oblivious and happy to be so. Let those who are sick from the darkness find Jesus to soothe their weary souls. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.