You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2007.
In all of eternity, for a Christ-follower, there is never a time in his life that he doesn’t get what he needs. Or even what is best for him.
A New Short Story
I sure would like some feedback on this:
1. Can you figure out what this is about?
2. While I know this is extrabiblical, do you think it unbiblical in any way?
3. How do you like the writing style/content?
Tormenter – Part 1
“Oh. . . . I see” thought Knifeweed, or at least he was beginning to. Normally his direct supervisor was . . . well, delighted was perhaps too positive a word to describe the emotion. Positively Challenged? Made proud? In any case, his supervisor (Japeskim – regional vice president for this part of Asia) usually jumped at the chance to work directly with the Chief. And there were so many intriguing works to be done in the immediate service of their father below; the carrying out of a curse, for example, the punishment of an incompetent or insubordinate senior manager (the higher the better), or special torment of a human.
But this time, his supervisor had found a plausible, demonstrably reasonable, but (at it’s core) untrue excuse for avoiding an appearance (and subsequent handling of a project) with their chief executive, and asked (some would say ordered) Knifeweed to do the job for him.
In other words, Satan had demanded, Japeskim had begged off, and now Knifeweed found himself in a place that he had never been before – in Satan’s direct presence.
Normally he would have been . . . well, again, pleased was too positive a word . . . inspired by the potential strengthening effect this might bring to his career? Sure, that would work. Who knew? If he did his job well, on whatever this assignment was (of course Japeskim had been very vague – but he had mentioned murder as a significant possibility, and who wouldn’t want to be tasked with that?) he could potentially be positioned higher in the ranks, higher than Japeskim even, a lovely thought. Japeskim was no fool – he had to be aware of this possibility. So what was up?
But it was only minutes after the interview with the chief that step one of the project assignment was laid out: the initial meeting with the Almighty. Wait a second. . . What was that, again?
So now he was beginning to understand. Japeskim was risking damage to his career, but most would say that he was doing so wisely. No demon in his right mind would willingly choose to be anywhere near a meeting of their chief with their creator. Nothing good could come of that. Anything they learned from the Rejected King always turned out to be a curse to the demon that learned it. Any new goal set before them, no matter how much potential it looked to have, always turned out to be, again, a curse for the demon that did it. How could their chief not see this? Why did he persist?
Obviously he did see it. Obviously he had unspoken (or spoken only to a few) motivations. But Knifeweed would almost certainly never be privy to these. His mind began to pound with the thought of being so near the One who had cast them down, the One who was so cruelly able to have his way with them. . .
Now Satan was mentioning, almost casually, that Knifeweed would not actually be with him in the searing, glaring light of the presence of the head of the triune. No, he would wait some distance off, in the outer court. A minor consolation, but still a consolation. The Supreme Knower would, of course, be aware of his presence – he knows everything – but at least Knifeweed wouldn’t have to face him. Only (curse his ears!) listen.
At the end of the assignment briefing, Knifeweed bowed his head, and left. He had three human days before the Meeting, so he had some time to prepare, but what does one do to prepare for this? And the answer came back: Nothing.
So all that this extra time provided was the prospect of no rest and no peace for the next seventy two hours. But such is life for a demon, so how could he complain?
“Had I not predicted this?” thought Knifeweed three days later. His spirit was still shaking after the meeting with the King of Kings, but at least he had calmed down significantly during the debriefing with the Chief.
This phase of his assignment was clear. Japeskum had been correct; Murder it was. Several, in fact, and they had been given much latitude, indeed it was surprising the freedom that the Rejected King had given them. And it looked to be a pleasurable and relatively easy endeavor.
Could this be some kind of trap? Almost certainly not. The Almighty was always above board. Disturbingly so.
But he knew well that the job that he was now leaving to do was just the surface of what was happening here. In the debriefing, the chief had focused almost exclusively on What Was To Be Done Now, ignoring the meeting’s subtext, the underlying and more important (and thus the expectedly unsaid) truth, that what they did here would be of no significant avail.
It was almost as if Satan wanted to pretend that Knifeweed hadn’t heard the extremely illuminating conversation he’d had with the Almighty. He supposed that one could argue that the Almighty hadn’t stated outright that the Human in question would stand firm in his faith and thus it was perhaps possible that he would falter. But Knifeweed was of the mind that one would only argue this who had merely, for example, read the text of the conversation, and not heard the father-like tone of certainty regarding the spiritual state of the man in question. And what fool would suggest that the Almighty might be predicting incorrectly? Did he not know the beginning from the end?
No, the man would not be turned, Knifeweed was certain, and he was pretty sure that Satan was certain of this as well, based on the solemnity and non-celebratory nature of the debriefing. It was an unstated, neglected fact that the normal primary goal of what they were about to do was not to be met. Of course there were secondary goals. The man’s wife held some promise. Even before the meeting’s revelations they could have guessed that she was less spiritually stable than the man. And what of the man’s associates?
This was not even to mention the piercing pleasure of the actual acts that they were loosed to accomplish. Terror, Sorrow, Bloodshed, the rending of flesh, screams of pain and the snuffing of (well, relatively speaking, of course) innocent life. But even the lowest among them were taught that this emotional reward, despite the joy it brought, was not to be the end of their goals. “We mustn’t be so shortsighted.”
Knifeweed grunted as he thought of it. Unfortunately, due to the knowledge that they had been given, shortsightedness was all they were allowed, at least with respect to the honorable man. He was his Father’s and that was that. So now he must accomplish the pleasant duty.
So that evening (as the humans of that region reckoned it) he took out his sword, walked past the servants of the King (with no small amount of trepidation, despite the promises the Rejected King had given them and the restrictions he had placed on these servants,) entered the bedroom of the Sabean prince and watched as his eyes opened with wakefulness and hatred as the demon placed the word into his mind: “Attack”
Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From The Book Of Malachi (Part 1 of 2)
Great is the LORD -even beyond the borders of Israel! *** A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me? *** When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the LORD Almighty. *** My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations *** Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the LORD Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations. *** If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honor my name,” says the LORD Almighty, “I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. *** The lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction—because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty. *** Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us? *** She is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. *** Guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. *** I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel *** I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the LORD Almighty. *** Guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.
Did I mention that our fourth oldest child just turned 6 this past Sunday? That means our family stars line up and we now have kids aged 4,5,6,7,8 and 9.
1. We have bought 6 different colored enamel cups (yes, like the old fashioned camping cups) for each of our kids. The kids drink out of them at meal time. This has three benefits:
a. The kids always know, after we set the table, where we intend them to sit (helpful especially when we have company).
b. We don’t have to wash cups nearly as often, and
c. The kid like having their own cup.
2. Make and keep traditions. As has been mentioned we have gone of a fall day trip each of the last nine years. And as also has been mentioned – we go to the north shore every year. And every January/ February, when we are getting a little cabin fever, we go to the Mall of America. And early every December, we go chop down a Christmas tree (of course we have several Christmas traditions). Choose your own – make them your family’s.
3. When our oldest was born, I typed up the story of his birth (every labor makes a good story.) I then started typing out interesting, funny or new things he did. I created a monthly list. When other children came along I created a new Journal for them. First Words. First loose tooth. When they learned to ride a bike. Funny things they’ve said. Insights they have shown.
In our family, I’m the one who does this journaling and my wife wants me to say that this is a good thing for Fathers to do. It only takes me about five minutes twice a week. I recommend it.
Now that we have been parents for 9 and a half years, this collection of journals is 267 pages long. If any of our kids ever get famous, I hope the biographers are grateful.
My Bank has a television up on the wall for its customers to watch as they are a waiting in line to talk to a teller. I can’t complain about that; it’s something that is successful in helping us to stay unbored.
What they usually have on as the channel of choice is the Headline News channel. Up until recently, I wouldn’t have complained about this choice either. It was at my bank that I first heard about the Virginia Tech shootings.
So a few weeks ago I was in there to make a deposit and I see a little blurb about how some county in California is making it illegal to wear really low riding pants. Because it offends some people. So what do they show on a repeated loop? Several worst offenders, complete with (as it must be to prove that they are offenders) visible underwear. On screen. At length.
This pushes gratuitous depictions of underclothed people to a new level. Usually, when television broadcasts show partially unclad people for no good reason, they at least have the bad (but significant) reason that teenage (and otherwise adolescent) boys want to see it. While this modus operandi is adding to the depravity of American culture, at least it’s a reason. Here, since the people depicted are just average (and by this I mean fairly unattractive) people, they don’t even have that as an excuse. For the first time in history, a network is showing offensive stuff for absolutely no reason at all. Now that’s gratuity.
As is my wont, I wonder how the conversation went as they decided to do this.
“Hey, guys, did you hear about the new proposed law in Blamsteadfordship county? They want to stop people walking around with visible underwear.”
“Well, so? Just another odd law by another odd county in an odd state. Happens every day. What?”
“But don’t you remember the memo? ‘Any opportunity to show partially unclad people for what could at least be argued is a semi-legitimate reason should be taken advantage of’.
“Taking advantage of’? Isn’t that ending a sentence with a participle or something? Don’t they have editors?!?”
“Okay, whatever, ‘of taken advantage’ . . . whatever. But here’s my point: They’re making a law about underwear! We can show video! Nationwide!
“Boy, I don’t know. The people who do that are generally pretty unsightly. I’m pretty sure the bosses thought we should do it when the unclad people are something that a typical frat guy would like.”
“Nope, there was nothing in the memo about that. If there’s underwear, we show it. It’s what we do.”
“Again, I’m not sure. Won’t that offend both the prudes and the frat guys? And everyone in between who doesn’t want to look at that kind of stuff?”
“Right! It’s win/win!”
So then the next (or the next to the next) time I was at the bank, Headline News had a five minute piece where they talk about some guy who was forced by an airline flight attendant to turn his shirt inside out because it was offensive. And they show a close up of the offending shirt, which was actually quite offensive. And they show they guy in the shirt as they interview him. Then a close up again of the shirt.
If only the airline had been forced him to take off his pants as well, the network could have shown an unappealing guy in an offensive shirt and his underwear. Darn! Such a great opportunity lost!
Humanly speaking, there is only one time in each person’s life when he doesn’t get what he needs (contrary to the implication in the Rolling Stones song).
Every year (generally in October – 8 of the last nine years) our family hops into whatever vehicle we are driving and take a day trip to look at the fall colors and do some hiking and apple picking in the St Croix/Mississippi River valley. We did this this past weekend.
We often do some window shopping in Red Wing which evidently has some history in the shoe-making and pot-making business. In one of the pottery stores, there is a guy making pots and a person and his kids could watch him. Our kids watch with interest. This time he spent time showing all of the kids how they could make a dog and a flower with the clay and gave some of the clay to each of the kids.
But he must not do this everyday, because last year when we were there, he spent the time very quickly making pencil holders on a pottery wheel (or whatever you call it). I was impressed with his speed and asked him how long it took to make them. He answered that he had never timed it and “that way lies madness.”
While I respect this answer, I’m pretty sure that his prescription for the prevention of insanity would not work for me. When I am of doing a job which requires a repeated task, I, like most, get bored. So I look for something to reduce the boredom. So I need something to keep my attention. So I would have a watch with which I could time myself and I would keep track. I would make a goal of improving my time (while of course keeping the quality up) and I would probably even write it down. Over days. Maybe I’d make an excel chart. And tell people my results. And ignore the fact that they aren’t listening with eyes wide open as if this was the most thing they had heard all day.
Something tells me I wouldn’t make that great of an artist.
Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From Calvin - Part 5
Tigers will do anything for a tuna fish sandwich. *** You know you’ll hate something when they won’t tell you what it is. *** Outrage! Why should I go to bed? I’m not tired! It’s only 7:30! This is tyranny! *** Leave it to a girl to take all the fun out of discrimination. *** Hello, Dad! It is now three in the morning. Do you know where I am? *** It says here that by the age of six … most children have seen a million murders on television. I find that very disturbing! It means I’ve been watching all the wrong channels. *** I’m just fine the way I am! Why should I change? In fact, I think it’s high time the world started changing to suit me! I don’t see why I should do all the changing around here! If the new year requires resolutions, I say it’s up to everyone else, not me! I don’t need to improve! Everyone else does! *** Blustery cold days should be spent propped up in bed with a mug of hot chocolate and a pile of comic books. *** Nobody knows how to pamper like a mom. *** You know how Einstein got bad grades as a kid? Well, mine are even worse! *** The planet Mercury was named after a roman god with winged feet. Mercury was the god of flowers and bouquets, which is why today he is a registered trademark of FTD florists. Why they named a planet after this guy. I can’t imagine. … um back to you, Susie. *** Physical education is what you learn from having your face in someone’s armpit right before lunch. *** I haven’t shaved for six years. I seem to be cursed with a thin beard. *** I’ve got to start listening to those quiet, nagging doubts. *** Saturday is the best day of the week. No demands at all! Perfect freedom! The whole day stretches before us with unlimited opportunity! And what better way to appreciate that opportunity than by squandering it watching cartoons all day! *** Life’s a lot more fun when you’re not responsible for your actions.
The Adventures of Ogden: Man of the Suburb
Episode 2 – October – Catch 22
“What’s up, Doc?” asked Ogden, as Somerset walked into his cubicle. He always said this when greeting him, because Somerset had a doctorate in database reconfiguring.
“You wanted help for the departmental outing?”
“Oh that’s right. I didn’t want to have this responsibility, but Susan said, “Just do it,” so here I am.
“So do you have any games?”
“Would you believe I do have one? I was thinking that we could come up with a game that gives people several catch phrases from popular media and asks them to name the TV show, commercial or movie that each catch phrase came from.”
“Hey, that sounds like a good idea.” said Somerset “Should we try to come up with a few now?”
“If you have time.” said Ogden, happy to get the help. But after working for several minutes, they found that their idea was trickier to implement than they thought it would be.
“Boy, I’m having difficulty coming up with any more of these, and we only have three so far,” stated Ogden
“Yeah, I’m an engineer not a media buff. They’re great, but I fear that three phrases won’t make for a very good game, know what I mean?”
“I agree. Everyone is gonna ask – ‘Where’s the beef?’”
They pressed on for a few more minutes.
Suddenly Ogden shouted “Noonan!” and Somerset turned around to see the technical support “Smart Guy” Doug Noonan, who had just walked past the cubicle, come back.
“Are you talking to me?”
“Do you know any catch phrases?”
“Whatcha talking about, Ogden?”
“We’re trying to come up with some well known – “
“Actually, I need to run – I’ve got to stop a query on Fatima’s machine. It keeps going, and going . . .”
“Oh. . . Never mind.” said Ogden, understanding the urgency of the problem.
“I’ll be back” said Doug, but Ogden feared they wouldn’t see him again for awhile. Fatima’s queries were always a mess.
Ogden picked up the phone and said “Maybe someone else could help us.”
“Perhaps, but who you gonna call?”
“Say, I know,” suggested Somerset “What about Bob? He’s always quoting movies.”
“Good Idea, and he’s probably over there right now.” Ogden turned his head and yelled, “Say Bob?”.
Bob sat on the on the other side of the cubical wall from Ogden.
“Yep?” came Bob’s reply.
“Can you come over here? I’ve got an offer you can’t refuse.”
Bob came around and poked his head in “Go ahead, make my day.”
“I’ve been put in charge of the departmental outing,” began Ogden
“Ooh, I hate it when that happens”
“And I’m trying to figure out a game for it that uses catch phrases.” Ogden pointed at his computer “See?”
“I see nothing.” said Bob, squinting. Ogden looked to see that the screen saver had come on. He wiggled the mouse and the short list came back on the screen.
“We hardly have any ideas. Can you help us?”
It was at this point that they all heard the sound of Bob’s phone ringing.
“Doh! There’s my phone. I’ll have to get it. May the force be with you,” said Bob as he left. Ogden and Somerset watched him go.
“No luck there, I guess” said Ogden
“Hey I know!” blurted Somerset “What about that funny movie that was out a few years ago about the wacky database administrators. What was that called again?”
“I’m not sure I recall the movie.”
“‘Query This!’, That’s it!”
“I don’t think I saw it. Was there a catch phrase in that one?”
“Sure! ‘Select this, buddy!’ Don’t tell me you don’t remember that!”
“Again, I’m pretty sure that I didn’t see that movie.”
“Oh, but everyone was saying it for years. Its funny how a phrase like that can be used in everyday conversation.”
“Uh, yeah. . . its funny.” And with great hesitation, Ogden put it in the list.
“Well, that’s four,” he said “Maybe we should quit for now.”
“Yeah, maybe we’ll just have to sit on it for awhile.”
This they did and a few days later Ogden decided that maybe their party didn’t really need a game.
For those of you playing at home, there are 22.
6 Famous People Pairs Who I (sometimes inexplicably) Get Mixed Up (or use to):
1. Matthew Broderick and Michael J Fox
Okay, let’s see, is that the Ferris Bueller guy or the Back to the Future guy?
2. Daryl Hannah and Kim Basinger
3. Sally Field and Debra Winger
4. Melanie Griffith and Meg Ryan
I actually lost a pizza bet with my brother on this one.
5. Martin Short and Rick Moranis
6. Bernadette Peters and Carole Kane
Who do you get mixed up?
A statement doesn’t become less true just because it is oversaid, cloying, obvious, trite or eschewed by the cynical mind. Or less false.
. . . . and yes, it is okay to use ‘just because’ in the middle of a sentence.
Last week I posted an email that I sent to Vox Day which explained why I thought no child under the age of 21 should be allowed to read any part of the Susan Cooper Book “Dark is Rising”. Okay, wait, let me check my notes. . . . no, actually what I said was that a subtly anti-religious this-reality-is-bigger-than-God ideas in one chapter made it so I could never count it as my favorite children’s book.
He responded in his blog this way:
There are two separate issues here. First, the vaguely New Age, multiple paths towards Truth manner in which religion is handled by Susan Cooper and Madeleine L’Engle doesn’t trouble me at all. Neither author is actually attempting to make any serious theological statement, Good and Evil are primarily used as a backdrop, as a means of creating an impression of a larger stage upon which the novels are played out.One must keep in mind that both women are of a previous generation that was not entirely secularized, thus their work is essentially atheistic at heart but they are too steeped in the Christian culture of the West to abandon it entirely. This is part of the source of their power, of course, most fully atheist works of modern fantasy tend to be weak and absolutely forgettable since they don’t draw effectively on what can either be considered the Real or the Mythic depending upon one’s perspective.
Indeed, I suspect that the lasting greatness of both “The Dark is Rising” and “A Wrinkle in Time” (I must say that I vastly prefer “A Swiftly Tilting Planet”, by the way), is somewhat dependent upon their lack of specifics, not only with regards to religion but also history. Rather than explaining precisely how everything works, both writers have the skill to paint with impressions, which somehow leaves the reader with a picture that is more meaningful than one laid out with more precision in the particulars. I expect JK Rowlings will be largely forgotten in 30 years, while Cooper and L’Engle are still being read.
As for your second point, it should be kept in mind that these are not children’s books. They are for teenagers and precocious pre-teens, they are for those who are sufficiently developed to deal with partial truths and understand how they can be useful in understanding the fullness of the Truth. I suspect you don’t fully understand that a writer’s basic objective in writing a work of fiction seldom involves the idea of presenting an argument to the reader, barring the obvious examples to the contrary such as Messrs. Jenkins and LaHaye or Sherri Tepper.
I don’t see my books as attempting to tell anyone anything, I see them more as posing questions and offering potential answers to those questions. In the first book, the question is “why don’t we choose evil when it seems to offer us so much more of what we want?” In the second, “how is it that an angry, bitter boy is pushed over the edge to become a killer when so many others aren’t?” In the third, “is it possible that God not only plays dice with the Devil, but does so with loaded dice?”
Given that my skill is much inferior to both the aforementioned ladies, this may not always come through to the reader. Mere brainpower is a poor substitute for true artistic talent. At any rate, don’t forget that novels are entertainment, and while they may be sopratutto a thinking woman’s entertainment and occasionally provoke a thought or three on the part of the reader, it would be a mistake to place too much theological weight on them.
To which I responded in this way:
- On whether or not this is a children’s book: Last Christmas Eve you wrote in your blog regarding Dark : “And in that book, which is as near to perfect as a children’s book can be . . . ” And I specifically asked how it compared to Hobbit and you said that if they could handle Hobbit, they could handle Dark. I must say that my kids had more difficulty following Dark, but I suppose that’s a different complaint than the religious one. (I could write a two page analysis here. I’ll spare you) Suffice to say, it was harder to follow than Narnia, Hobbit, (or now) Sawyer.
- On your comment: “I suspect you don’t fully understand that a writer’s basic objective in writing a work of fiction seldom involves the idea of presenting an argument to the reader” Two things: (1) I don’t think I ever indicated disdain for the line of reasoning or the argument’s presentation, only the result of presentation. In any case (2) having done some story writing in the past, I do have some understanding of this. But it doesn’t matter what the ‘objective’ is – I still find the written words to be (in Cooper’s case, in that chapter) silly and patronizing.
- On your comment “I don’t see my books as attempting to tell anyone anything, I see them more as posing questions and offering potential answers to those questions . . . In the second, “how is it that an angry, bitter boy is pushed over the edge to become a killer when so many others aren’t?”: I don’t have a problem with this, but you didn’t just offer an answer in the second book, you made your opinion of the answer clear: Demons. Indeed, you did more so than Cooper, because your book revolves what you think actually happens, whereas I’m pretty sure that Cooper doesn’t believe in “Old Ones”
<My thought is that the word ‘Indeed’ in the last sentence sounds pretentious, but it was the best way for me to get my thought across, so I’m going for it>
Good (or excellent) authors (e.g. Lewis) presenting worldview messages in their novels is an occurrence that happens more than you admit.
In any case, it seems like that might be a pretty good way to get out of an argument when you have caused offense -
“As a Calvinist, yes, I think that God causes all wars”
“Oh, sorry, I was just offering a potential answer”
But the question is – do I have a right to not like a book (or a chapter) based on the offered answer? You say no, because it still might be great literature, but I think I do.
Three Amigos – starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short, is a pretty good movie throughout, but there is one scene that I really enjoyed – not for the comedy, but for the music.
At one point they are sleeping in the dessert and Martin Short’s character is having difficulty getting to sleep, so the other two (and eventually him) sing a lullaby - Arizona Moon. I really liked the melody and the sweetness of the lyrics (you want to see it?), so when I had kids I changed the words to fit our situation – this is what I ended up with.
Minnesota moon keep shining,
Through the open window there,
Six little kids, asleep in their beds,
They know that Mom and Dad are right downstairs.
Blue moonlight in the air
Little Children, close your eyes and dream,
The love of Jesus shines more than the moon,
He knows your hopes and fears,
Just close your eyes and dream, little kids,
Dream of Heaven
Blue moonlight in the air,
Soft wind blowing, through the trees above,
You’ve a big day tomorrow,
And you are safe tonight, so
Close your eyes and dream
Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From Rebel Moon – Bruce Bethke and Vox Day
Lay the front sight on the center of mass, Private. Don’t fret about how many targets there are. Just concentrate on one and keep shooting till he’s down. *** I know engineers. It’ll take three days to do it and all the parts are on back order. *** It’s not legality that concerns me. Even Adolf Hitler started out with legalities. *** Hitler clearly became an unspeakable monster. But did he have to? What if just one trusted friend had said to him in 1933, ‘Adolf, this is madness. It may be legal, but it’s wrong.’ *** Colonies are like children; sooner or later they must be set free. *** This is the real world, and you only get one death in this game. No replays *** First thing they teach you is that the moon needs living soldiers, not dead heroes. *** It’s all right to freak out when it’s over. *** We will be victorious because our cause is just. *** No use crying over leaked air. *** Combat was the only test that mattered. *** Don’t try. There is no try, only do. *** Confusion works both ways. *** Oh, you fickle, fickle gods of war. *** Blood is thicker than words. *** Jaw-jaw is better than war-war. *** The appearance of even a small unit in the right place the right time could turn the tide of a battle, and sometimes a war. *** The trick was simply not to let yourself think about it until it was too late. Until you were committed with no way back. *** Bravery is just fear of cowardice. *** The Americans are a rebellious people still. *** Advanced science just looks like magic.
I see that last week they released the movie “The Seeker: Dark is Rising” based on Susan Cooper’s book. So this might be as good a time as any to post this -
Last August (2006) I sent this email/article to Vox Day:
You once commented in a blog negatively about LionWitchWardrobe (which I know that you generally like) regarding the appliances in the Beaver’s home and in the comments I attempted to defend their appearances. I generally bristle at any negative comment about any CS Lewis book or LOTR (them bein’ my favorite) and I am generally disappointed when I learn that people didn’t enjoy the books as much as I did.
Despite that, I am going to negatively comment on what I understand to be your favorite children’s book. With trepidation. To wit:
There are (at least) four ways an author can handle the existence of the Christian Religion in a fantasy book. The three ways I find acceptable are:
(1) Embrace it and make it integral to the story – you have done this in Eternal Warriors and I also enjoy it in Perretti (which, if I recall correctly, you haven’t read. I recommend it as entertainment, not literature,)
(2) Do not comment on it at all. For the most part, this is what Lewis does. We see Aslan as an allegory, but Christ is never mentioned. And in the first of the Space Trilogy, Ransom explains something like, “Our traditions say that . . .” but we hear nothing more of the conversation,
(3) Mention Christianity, call it false and move on. A lot of Arthur C. Clarke does this, and while I disagree with it, I know that there are atheists out there and the purely naturalistic worldview often make for very interesting fiction.
But the fourth way really bothers me: Treat Christianity as one of many truths and subordinate to the main premise. It is pretty quick, but this is what “Dark is Rising” does on Christmas day.
Since you have read this many times I’ll sum the story up just for my point. The Dark Powers are raging outside just after the service and the normal human pastor can feel them and he begins to pray for God’s protection and the old one says “No, Rector”
So there it is: Advice to not pray to God for help. Those last two words automatically disqualify it from being my favorite children’s book.
Later the Old One says “The battle is not his for the fighting” Okay. But it’s still should be okay for him to pray. Then six pages later, referring to “outside time” Will says “And all Gods are there and all the things they have ever stood for, and the opposite, too” The “opposite” part indicates to me that Cooper was not including demons or what not in the set of Gods (as you sometimes do) so it makes it fairly clear that she thinks of Christianity as in someway important, but not the most important. The ‘Old Ones’ Reality trumps it.
Doesn’t this bother you?
There is something like this in the “L’Engle” book (“Wrinkle in time”) which I can just barely remember but I recall a conversation where they listed people throughout history who were a step more advanced than the rest of us and Jesus was on the list. This is the same thing. Don’t put Jesus on a list. Make him the King of the list or take him off it entirely.
Harry Potter has it’s flaws and is certainly not literature, but, to its credit (in the two books I’ve read) never attempts to mix Christian Religion into it’s narrative. I am recalling your response to the letter I wrote to you after reading
your first book wondering how Dr. Boyd might handle the time travel part of your story when he doesn’t believe that the future exists yet. You (reasonably) responded “He is an intelligent man who is perfectly capable of understanding the difference between a serious theological work and a fantasy novel, which is why he doesn’t get too worked up about my playing around with various theological concepts.“
Well, he might not, and you might not, but I do. Even in fiction, if something goes strongly against my world view, it makes me like the book less, especially if I’m reading it to my children.
So now (as evidence to the contrary of what I just said, or so it seems) I’m reading ‘Tom Sawyer’ to them. In just the first few chapters: Lieing and Fighting are glorified (at least at face value) and church is shown to be boring and focused on showing off. But it makes my boys laugh, it make me laugh and it so much fun to read out loud. Oh well.
Next week, I’ll show you how he responded, and how I responded to his response.
During this whole year, I have been reading the Bible in a different way. I got the idea here.
The long and the short of it is this.
1. Choose a book of the Bible.
2. Read it in its entirety.
3. Repeat #2 twenty times.
4. Repeat this process for all 66 books of the Bible.
Simple, huh? I recommend it.
They suggest starting with the shorter books and I have. I have read 2nd and Third John, Titus, Philemon, Ephesians, Jude, and in the last few weeks I have switched over to the Old Testament and today I read Obadiah for the twentieth time.
It is quite interesting the new things you learn as you read it this many times. Generally speaking during the twenty times, I read it in different versions, I read it with the greek, I read it outloud and I compile a Friday Everything with it. Today, I read it out loud to my five year old daughter, explaining it as I went along.
And I always take notes on how I can apply what I read to my life. Here is what I have gotten from the latest book -
Take away for Jamsco: Obadiah
1. Sin causing pride will bring you down.
2. Don’t think, when things are going very well, that you can’t lose big quickly.
3. Men doing sinful acts can be God’s agents to work his will.
4. Help others when they are experiencing calamity. Do not aid in the calamity.
5. Anyone who is sinning should expect punishment at any moment. Repent.
6. God’s people will be the eventual winners.
7. God’s blessing is very important, strong and good.
An author who begins a sentence with the words “Just because” has left the path of quality writing.
. . . about my Wife’s High School Twentieth Reunion
A. Very generally speaking, there are four kinds of people
1. Those who weren’t in the popular group in high school, but are doing well now.
This is like my wife and me – If you let it, the reunion brings you right back to the insecurity of the old days. Don’t let it.
2. Those who were popular, but now aren’t doing well.
Reunions are all they have – let them have their night of good memories.
3. Those who were popular and are doing well now.
These are probably the people who were the nice popular people.
4. Those who weren’t popular and aren’t doing well now.
These are the people who don’t go to reunions.
B. At events like these (I thought this at my reunion last year) I long for the real conversation. With very loud music, standing within 10 feet of fifty other people and in an environment in which it is expected that people have many people to talk to, there is the perception that it might be considered rude to try to talk to anyone at length – unless you have been keeping up with them and know them well, then you want to talk to them (because they are comfortable) which is, of course, ironic because you don’t really have a reason to catch up.
I met someone who was injured in the attack of the U.S.S. Cole off Yemen in 2000. I imagine that would be a very interesting story, but (and this is probably my own problem) I wasn’t about to ask to hear the story.
C. At least the music was good. I am a sucker for 80’s pop.
Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From Calvin (Part 5)
I won’t eat any cereal that doesn’t turn the milk purple. *** The latest poll of six-year-olds in this household shows that they don’t care about issues this year. It’s character that counts. *** Nobody cares about your positions on fatherhood. We just want to know about your character. If you’re going to be dad here, we have to know you’ve never done or said anything that would reflect poorly on your judgement. I have your college yearbook here. Let’s flip through it, shall we? *** My life would be seem more interesting with a musical score and laugh track. *** Isn’t it sad how some peoples grip on their lives is so precarious that they’ll embrace any preposterous delusion rather than face an occasional bleak truth. *** Santa Claus: kindly old elf, or CIA spook? *** Barney’s dad was really bad, so Barney hatched a plan. When his dad said “Eat your peas!” Barney shouted “No!” and ran. Barney tricked his mean ol’ dad. And locked him in the cellar. His mom never found out where he’d gone. ‘Cause Barney didn’t tell her. There his dad spent his life – Eating mice and gruel. With every bite for fifty years he was sorry he’d been cruel. The end. . . You know how a lot of stories have morals to them? *** What do you think is the meaning of true happiness? Is it money, cars and women? Or is it just money and cars? *** Nobody ever closed a school on account of prettiness. *** People who get nostalgic about childhood were obviously never children.