Who’s Getting Better?

Earlier this month, former agent Nathan Bransford took a week to blog about Harry Potter—or more specifically about J. K. Rowling‘s writing. In one post, Mr. Bransford stated he believed Ms. Rowling continued to improve her writing throughout the series. I tend to agree, though I know others may see the books differently.

But here’s the point I want to discuss. Mr. Bransford had this to say about improving one’s writing:

In order to get better at something you can’t be self-satisfied and think you’ve made it and become convinced of your own genius. You have to keep digging deep and keep being skeptical of yourself and keep trying to spot your own flaws and resist the temptations that come along with success. And that is hard!!

I think it’s the success issue that makes continued striving for improvement hard.

When I was teaching, I didn’t really have a way to measure success. Oh, I suppose if I taught all the material in the curriculum guide and every student received an A and their standardize test results showed at least a full year of growth, then maybe I could rest on my laurels and say I’d been successful. But would you be surprised to learn, that never happened? 😛 I thought not.

Since I finished each year knowing that I hadn’t been successful, in the ultimate sense of the word, I would evaluate and plan and work so that next time things would be better. In fact, I often planned en route. I’d tweak lessons from class to class, and I’d make note of things that needed to be scrapped or retooled. There was never any “self-satisfied and think you’ve made it” time.

But besides teaching, I also coached. With sports, there is a winner after every game and coaches along with players can feel successful. At the end of each season, we even had league championships. So what happens if you string a series of those first place trophies together?

The right answer is to add up the hours of planning and practice that went into preparing a team to become a champion and make a new plan for the next year. But in the flush of success piled on top of success, isn’t it possible that a coach might start believing his or her own press clippings? Isn’t it possible he or she could “become convinced of [his or her] own genius”?

I’m reading about Solomon’s life right now, and in a way he was victim of his own success, too. Peace on every hand. Accolades of kings and queens from distant lands, wealth, achievement. He could claim responsibility for bring the glory of God back to His people when His presence filled the brand new temple Solomon constructed.

What happened after that? Solomon went wayward, to the point that God took part of the kingdom away from his heirs. What should have been a great legacy became a tarnished life, half lived well.

But why? Did he stop digging deep, stop being skeptical of himself, stop trying to spot his own flaws and resist temptations?

Spiritually, we have the Bible and can measure ourselves by God’s standard—His perfect Son. Seems like we ought to have no trouble with the success syndrome when it comes to our spiritual lives. Of course, that’s not true. How easy it is to take our eyes off Jesus and put them on the person living next door or on the guy on the street cussing out his girlfriend or on the one cutting me off in traffic. Next to Those People, I can feel pretty successful. Ugh! Using the wrong measuring stick can give a false positive.

Might not that happen for writers too? Might we look at sales and think we’re successful if our book “earns out”? Or if we get a half dozen or a dozen or a hundred dozen emails saying how wonderful our story is?

But shouldn’t the standard for our work be the same as for our lives—that we want to please Jesus? Who cares if a million people buy my book if God is not glorified?

And until He is pleased, with every word I write, with all parts of my writing process, with my work ethic and my relationships with my colleagues in the business, I have to dig deep, stay a little skeptical, look for my flaws, and resist temptation.

Published in: on November 30, 2010 at 6:10 pm  Comments (9)  
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God Is Love

Yeah, yeah, yeah, who doesn’t know God is love—besides hardened atheists who don’t even believe there is a God. I mean, even name-only “Christians” will parrot that God is love.

I tend to think, however, that love, in general, is misunderstood in our Western culture, and God’s love even more so. Love in general is often confused with a butterfly tingly feeling in the pit of the stomach—really an indication of an adrenaline rush, I believe.

Actual love is stuff like a mom cleaning up kid throw-up or changing a wet sheet in the middle of the night. It’s sitting beside a sick child to monitor any change in temperature or walking a colicky baby for hours at a time.

Love is refusing to say I told you so to a spouse who made a bad decision. It’s also choosing to say, I’ll follow you around the next corner, even when its a blind curve and I’m scared.

But how does all that reflect on God? For one, Scripture doesn’t say God has love but that He IS love. However, love isn’t all God is. He’s also just and merciful and righteous and good and infinite.

So, for example, God loves, infinitely. There is no end to His love, no place beyond the reach of His love, nothing the object of His love can do that will bring an end to the expression of who God is.

His love is also just, so He does not turn a blind eye to our rebellion.

I sat behind a family in church yesterday, and sadly the parents turned a blind eye to the rebellion and/or misbehavior of their two children. You might say these parents even condoned disrespect because they did not correct their children.

In the Old Testament, God rebuked the high priest and judge, Eli, for not correcting his children. Because of those boys’ waywardness, He removed Eli and his family from their priestly position.

Parents who love their children are supposed to correct them. The Bible says this over and over, and it draws the conclusion that God loves in the same way—as a Father who cares too much to let His children wander away from Him into all kinds of harm.

God is love. He cleans up our messes, holds our hand through the valley of the shadow of death, and takes our punishment in His own body. He draws us, woos us, holds us, seals us. His love isn’t going to break down and it isn’t going to let go.

Honestly, I don’t see anything sentimental about God’s love. It sent Him to earth in a backwater town to an unwed mother where he was wrapped in cloths meant for a burial shroud and stuck in an animal feeding trough. And that was just the first few hours of his earthly existence. Things didn’t get noticeably better. But He came, lived, and died “for the joy set before Him.”

We’re that joy. Us, His people, whom He loved and determined to save.

Published in: on November 29, 2010 at 7:32 pm  Comments (8)  
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History In The Hands Of The Ignorant

I saw a news item earlier this week. Supposedly a Hollywood star came out saying she hates the US holiday of Thanksgiving (the Los Angeles Times published a rebuttal article calling into question Fox’s motivation and journalism for drawing their information from popeater.com, though the Times fails to mention that sites like the The Huffington Post also carried the story).

The story, generated by second-hand reports, explains that this star is boycotting Thanksgiving because she doesn’t want to be a part of rewriting history or commemorating “what the white settlers did to the native Indians.”

I’d like to rail a little against this one ignorant woman, except yesterday, before I took off for my family get-together, I saw something eerily similar from someone in my Facebook network.

YIKES! 😮 How gullible are we? Because some actress supposedly says this, we rush out and start parroting the sentiments ascribed to her?

Detail from Brownscombe's First Thanksgiving at Plymouth

Never mind that there are primary historical documents—journals by the pilgrims who actually celebrated that holiday, such as Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford and Mourt’s Relation by Edward Winslow and others—that make it clear Thanksgiving has nothing to do with any of the activity that forced the native Americans off their land.

The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated to give thanks to God for helping the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony survive their first brutal winter in New England. The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days, providing enough food for 53 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans.

In what way would a gathering that included on average two Indians for every pilgrim settler be reprehensible? Especially when the settlers were thanking God for His provision—not merely for the food, but for the Indians who taught them how to survive.

In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims reaped a bountiful harvest. To thank God for their deliverance and the help they had received from the Indians, Bradford held a three-day Thanksgiving feast inviting the Indians to join them in their celebration.
“Strangers, Saints and Indians” by John A. Murray, Wall Street Journal

For the next fifty years, the pilgrims and the neighboring native people groups lived in harmony. And Thanksgiving feasts took place in response to the blessings they enjoyed. Not every year, but with more and more frequency.

So who actually is “rewriting history”?

Certainly not the people who are reading the original source material. And not those of us who celebrate God’s goodness, as the pilgrims did—recognizing that God’s hand preserves and protects and provides.

Think about it. What were the odds that a native American, fluent in English, would “happen” upon this colony of pilgrims so in need of help?

But I’m getting sidetracked.

This well-documented story certainly can be interpreted from a number of angles (for example, by focusing on the English speaking native Americans, by looking at the political developments within the colony, by exploring the relationships of the various native people groups with each other), but it cannot be painted as the beginning of hostilities, pilgrims with Indians.

At least as long as we’re not rewriting history.

And as long as ordinary people don’t start parroting the ideas of others who have not done any actual scholarship.

The whole thing is made more ludicrous by the idea that the news article quoting unknown friends might not be factual. So someone repeats the idea that Thanksgiving is celebrating murder because an online news source said Anonymous said Star Actress said she’s boycotting Thanksgiving for a reason without any basis in fact.

Are we so ignorant that in this Age of Communication, people will believe something so easy to debunk? The sad part is that believing it turns into repeating it, which soon hardens into rewritten history.

Packing It In Or Tossing It Out

Though it might not seem like it at first, this post is related to Thanksgiving Day, and I might mention while I’m thinking about it, that I won’t be posting an article tomorrow.

Airplane travel has become … an adventure. Never mind the body scans and “pat downs.” Many airlines now charge a passenger for each suitcase he takes with him. How do you fly somewhere without taking a change of clothes or basic toiletries, I wonder.

The new “pay per piece” policy has a lot of people thinking twice about what exactly they must take along on their trip. Perhaps a second sweater isn’t necessary, and buying gifts upon arrival seems like a better idea than bringing them from home.

The new goal is to pack only the necessities. But on occasion something else important must be included—a special dress and shoes for a wedding or gloves and knit hat for a snow trip. In this new flying reality, however, adding something to our “pack it” pile means something else has to be left out.

Imagine if someone told you to chuck it all, save one thing. Only one thing. Or how about this. You could take anything, no extra charge, but you’d have to leave out your prized possession.

Let’s up the ante. An overbooked airline tells you you can take as many pieces of luggage as you want as long as they can have your second ticket back—you know, the one you bought so your wife could go with you on your business trip. But if you opt to keep the ticket so your wife can fly with you, neither one of you can take any luggage, at any price. Not even your laptop or the briefcase with the notes for the business meeting you’re to conduct.

Those are interesting hypotheticals, I think—pondering what one valuable thing we’d take if we could take only one, or considering a trip with a spouse and no belongings.

It’s not quite comparable to what Paul experienced in life, but I think it sheds a little light on what he said in Philippians 3 about ringing up his valuables only to toss them aside in favor of Christ.

Paul had it made. He was in an exclusive position among an exclusive people—God’s people, the nation He chose to be the apple of His eye. Paul made sure he covered all his bases. Parentage, check. Legal status, check, Attitude, check (anyone could see his zeal by tallying up the destroyed lives when he left town). He was one righteous dude.

And he tossed it all in the trash.

Why? For the sake of Christ.

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday in the US, I can’t help but wonder if we who count our blessings, and name them one by one, would be willing to throw them away if it meant we could gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of our own.

Would we give up being American, with our Constitutional rights, to be part of the kingdom of God? Would we leave our family to be part of God’s family? Would we give up our chance to earn a living in order to be called a Christian?

In short, would we embrace the sufferings of Christ and be conformed to His death if it meant attaining the power of His resurrection?

In so many ways, we live in a world that lets us eat and keep our cake at the same time. We get to do ministry, openly, publicly. Out of our abundance, we get to give generously. And when Thanksgiving rolls around, we pause to consider all the good things and wonderful people we enjoy. If we go a little deeper, we count all our spiritual benefits and thank God for each one.

But I’m wondering if this year it might be informative to approach Thanksgiving with an opposite mindset: what am I willing to give up for the sake of Christ. Are the things I usually give thanks for on this special day of the year so very dear that I would hesitate to count them as rubbish?

I know, Paul wasn’t exactly stacking up his possessions next to Christ. Or his family members. Or his job. Or his citizenship. Was he? Or might not the things he could have put confidence in, be considered his Thanksgiving list?

If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
-Phl 3:4-7

Published in: on November 24, 2010 at 7:05 pm  Comments (2)  
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If We’re Thankful, Why Aren’t We Content?

This Thursday, those of us in the US will celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Already I’ve seen some Facebook wall posts listing out things people are thankful for, and I suspect there will be any number of blog posts that follow suit.

It seems quite common to hold a genuine feast on Thanksgiving Day, even pause to pray and thank God for the bountiful blessings, then scurry out the next day and shop to the dropping point.

So how thankful can we actually be if we must always buy more? Granted, I realize much of the after-Thanksgiving shopping is connected with Christmas, but the American way of life has become that of the consumer. Once, not so long ago, we made things. Now we consume things.

And what’s more, that’s considered the good life. In regard to the present state of the economy, the powers that be seem to believe the solution to righting the ship is to get America out of saving and back into spending.

While I’m not saying that spending is “bad” or that our spirituality should be measured by how much we save, I do think there’s a point where we should evaluate our attitude to see if we are living the abundant life rather than living the Biblical life.

Not long ago I read the Biblical account of the exodus—God’s people leaving Egypt for the Promised Land. On their journey God provided their food—manna:

The house of Israel named it manna, and it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey.
– Ex 16:31

Wafers with honey. Yet a bunch of people who enjoyed this gracious provision as they traveled across the wilderness found fault with it.

The sons of Israel wept again and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.”
– Num 11:4b-6

For the moment, give them the benefit of the doubt—they were tired of the same diet meal after meal, day after day. But look what they were doing—remembering what they’d enjoyed in Egypt. Never mind that Egypt had just experienced devastating plagues that had wiped out virtually all vegetation. Between the plague of hail and the plague of locust, were there any cucumbers and melons and leeks and onions and garlic for them to go back to?

The locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled in all the territory of Egypt; they were very numerous. There had never been so many locusts, nor would there be so many again. For they covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was darkened; and they ate every plant of the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Thus nothing green was left on tree or plant of the field through all the land of Egypt.
– Exodus 10:14- 15

Granted, the hail did not fall in Goshen where the people of Israel lived. Let’s say for the moment that the locusts didn’t go there either, though the text doesn’t specify this. How was it that Israel had the food they remembered so fondly when the rest of Egypt was decimated? Obviously the answer was, God.

What they had in Egypt, then, came from the hand of God, and what they had in the wilderness came from the hand of God. Consequently, when they cried discontentedly against the manna they were “forced” to eat, they essentially were telling God He wasn’t doing a good job of caring for them.

In other words, discontent is actually an accusation against God.

Yet our entire existence seems to be made up of striving and struggling and trying and working. Oh, wait. Wasn’t that what God told Adam life would be like outside the Garden?

So the striving and all isn’t the problem per se. That’s the condition into which we’ve been born. But responding with discontent seems to me to be a choice.

More on this another day.

Published in: on November 23, 2010 at 2:23 pm  Comments (4)  
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CFBA Blog Tour – The Lightkeeper’s Bride

This side of heaven, expectations can be a curse. I wish that was a line describing the theme of this CFBA Blog Tour feature, The Lightkeeper’s Bride by Colleen Coble. Unfortunately, it’s related to my reaction to the novel.

I anticipated what? A good story, well-written, but of course those things are subjective. One of the endorsers of this historical mystery romance mentioned plot twists, another, red herrings. A third identified the book as a fast-paced romance. Those then were things I expected.

Except, the title gives away which of the two men in the heroine’s life she falls in love with. No twist there, despite the usual prickly beginning to their relationship.

What about the mystery element? There weren’t any genuine red herrings. The heroine suspected the hero, but the reader knew he was out in the ocean at the time of the crime trying to save a group of sailors whose ship had been pirated. The next suspect was the heroine’s father, and he admitted to his part of the nefarious events. But not the critical event our heroine is initially concerned with.

Who was left? The constable, the hero’s private investigator brother who is trying to solve the pirating crime, the heroine’s mother, and her gentleman friend who insisted on courting her though she had no feelings for him. Hmm. Let me see. Who do I think committed the crime? 🙄

I understand, not everyone puts as high a value on surprise as I do, and perhaps others read without interest in looking for suspects. Consequently, I’m sure some will overlook the things that bothered me and enjoy the typically sweet romance in this story. (Girl meets boy; girl is forced because of a small pox epidemic to move into the lighthouse with boy—and a chaperon and an abandoned one-year-old they both want custody of; girl is attracted to boy because of his rugged good looks and tenderness with child; boy falls for girl; girl admits her attraction but thinks she must marry to please her parents; love conquers in the end).

Those who enjoy the romance may well overlook some of the writing issues that disappointed me, too, such as characters that dropped out of scenes without explanation, or blackmail secrets told in front of characters as if they weren’t present.

At one point the heroine felt physically ill when she found out the man wooing her was involved in the piracy that cost ten men their lives. But earlier in the story when she learned of her father’s similar involvement in said piracy, she had no such reaction.

Those kinds of hiccups made the story feel uneven to me. At some points I was caught up in the adventure and at other times I felt uninterested in characters that seemed unrealistic.

Too bad. I like the idea of a historical mystery romance. I think this book’s beautiful cover gives a feel for the intrigue I expected. But the problem with expectations … they sometimes cause a letdown.

In conjunction with the CFBA Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Published in: on November 22, 2010 at 7:30 pm  Comments (2)  
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God’s Goodness

Men like atheist Christopher Hitchens dismiss the existence of God in large part because of the existence of evil. One line of thinking is that if God existed He is either not good, not powerful, or not caring. He could not, they believe, be good, caring, and powerful and co-exist with evil.

What irony that they don’t turn around and scrutinize goodness. From where do acts of kindness from strangers originate, or the encouragement from a verse of Scripture or the ethereal beauty of fog wisps floating in and out of palm trees and pier pilings?

Who can explain the transformation of the Huaorani people in Ecuador after Jim Elliot’s death? Or the message of forgiveness Corrie ten Boom preached after losing her father and sister under Nazis cruelty? Who can explain Job’s restoration of wealth after losing all or Joseph’s rise to power in Egypt after being sold into slavery?

In other words, who can explain Romans 2:28 – “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

How could a God who was not good work all things together for good? And Christians see time and again God’s hand working tragedy into triumph, suffering into sanctification, sacrifice into salvation.

Only God’s goodness can be credited with such miracles as Ruth experienced. The widowed immigrant at the edge of poverty becomes the great-grandmother to Israel’s greatest king, in the direct line of the Messiah.

Who could write such a story? People today would think it too … good, too sappy, too sweet. But that’s God, isn’t it. He goes beyond what we think could possibly happen. He gives more, loves more, sacrifices more.

He takes brokenness and makes a vessel fit for a king, takes a wayward woman and makes her His bride, takes discarded branches and grafts them into His vine.

He hunts down the lost, comforts the grieving, answers the cry of the needy.

Above all, He gives Himself. He sent His prophets to teach the rest of us what we need to know about Him. More, He Himself came in the form of Man, then gave us His Spirit and His written Word.

God’s goodness is imprinted on the world. We have the starry sky, the harvest moon, billowing clouds, flashing lightening, crystalline icicles, yellow-red leaves, falling snow, crashing waves, the rocky grandeur of mountains, and on and on. How can we look at this world and not see God’s goodness?

How can we think that the good things we enjoy are accidents of nature or results of human endeavor? Nature is morally indifferent and Mankind is marred. God alone is good, without wavering, without exception.

May He be praised now and forevermore.

Published in: on November 19, 2010 at 6:50 pm  Comments (5)  
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Tears Instead Of Jeers

A friend of mine shared an online exchange with me between several professing Christians. Here’s what one person said, in part:

[Name redacted] LIAR! This is my last post because I just caught you LYING, you little devil. Did you see the post BEFORE you made that statement? ….
Me: The bible isn’t God’s word. 🙂 It’s man’s.
You: Says you, part of “man” yourself. Sorry, no true Chris…tian should accept your authority (!) over God’s Word.
So, obviously your statement referred to the bible because that’s what we were talking about. You can go back even further to earlier posts to confirm this. You GOT CAUGHT and just proved that you are NOT of God!

[Name redacted – same poster] REPENT YOU LITTLE DEVIL!!!

Earlier I wrote about Christopher Hitchens, a famous atheist who has terminal cancer. Apparently there have been a number of responses to his occasional blog post updates about his condition that run along the lines of, You’re getting what you deserve, you heathen. As I read Mr. Hitchens’s reaction to these comments (and some emails, I believe), I got the impression that the tone was more gleeful than regretful.

A little further back, I had a discussion with another blogger on his site—a blog dedicated to ridiculing those he thought were false teachers. This followed on the heels of my being banned from a blog site for reasoning with a writer who threw out ridicule and name-calling at a famous Bible teacher he accused of holding false doctrine.

This accumulation of incivility, at best, has taken me off guard. I’ve thought much of the media portrayal of Christians—often shown waving signs with mean-spirited messages at rallies against those holding to liberal cultural views—was over the top. In other words, the camera sought out the craziest, meanest, loudest of the bunch and the media showed that footage over and over in an effort to paint all people taking a stand against those views with the same brush. It’s a way of saying, Christians are hateful, without ever actually saying the words.

But these instances I cited weren’t played out in front of a camera, at a rally, or sussed out by the media. These are people talking to and about other people, albeit in the less personal venue of cyberspace.

And these are not just people. These are professing Christians. Folks who claim, at some level, to be upholding Truth and following after Jesus Christ.

How ironic, then, that their actions, when confronted with someone running from God, are so different from His. Here is what Jesus said about Jews who would not accept Him as their Messiah after issuing a dire warning:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!
– Luke 13:34 (emphasis mine)

And lest we forget, of those who crucified Jesus, He said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34b)

Scripture records the Apostle Paul’s reaction to false teachers in the book of Philippians:

For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ
– Phil 3:18 (emphasis mine)

So when, I wonder, did the longing of Christ and the tears of the apostle turn into the jeers of professing Christians?

Have we become so acculturated that we see nothing wrong with using the same rancor the world uses? Or have wolves slipped in amongst us dressed in lamb’s wool and we’re too afraid to make the call?

May John’s clear words be our guide:

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.
– 1 John 4:20-21

Published in: on November 18, 2010 at 6:29 pm  Comments (6)  
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Then What Is Holiness?

A few days ago, I made a case for the fact that the Christian does not experience sinless perfection, this side of heaven. Yet Scripture says the Christian is to be holy because God is holy. Aren’t these two in contradiction?

I don’t believe so because of the sanctification process God has undertaken in our lives. But believers are not to sit back and let God do the work of chipping away the imperfections of our lives.

Over and over Scripture gives commands for us to follow. The book of James, for example, contains 108 verses and half of them deliver a command.

Is the Christian life all about measuring up to a high standard, then? Not really. I believe it’s all about imitation.

When I was four or five, I used to follow my mom around with a child-sized broom “helping her clean.” I wanted to be like her, so I did the things she did. Imitation of this kind, I believe, is at the heart of being holy.

Of course, patterning myself after God requires me to know Him the same way a child knows a parent. I suspect, however, that too many of us know Him less like we know Mom or Dad and more like we know the local fireman.

Most people agree, having a fireman in the community is a good thing. We might even be impressed with his state-of-the-art fire truck or water-dropping helicopter.

We certainly respect the fireman and do our best to follow his rules because we understand they are for our safety and protection. Certainly if a fire breaks out, we call him first.

What about the rest of the time? If we see a fireman on the way into Starbucks, we might nod and smile, but would we think of inviting him over to hang out?

If he should stop by our home, I suspect we’d wish we had checked the battery in the smoke detector or cleared away the brush more recently from around the house. Most likely we’d promise to do better next time, and with a sheepish grin, usher him out the door as fast as we could.

Should he stop by work, I doubt we’d be glad to see him. Rather, we might be concerned about the pile of boxes blocking the fire exit or worried whether or not we have a functioning fire extinguisher in place.

The fireman, as good a guy as he might be, isn’t our friend. He’s a benevolent authority who checks up on us from time to time, one we’ll call only if we have an emergency.

Too often isn’t that the role we give God? In truth, He’s our loving Father, but until we become intimately acquainted with Him as such, I suspect we won’t be doing a lot of holiness imitation.

Published in: on November 17, 2010 at 5:54 pm  Comments (5)  
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A couple interesting blog posts today have me thinking about endings. First Stuart Stockton over at Speculative Faith wrote “Can you find victory in defeat?” an article pondering whether or not a story needs to end with either complete triumph or complete failure. Might there not be some sort of mixed bag for our protagonist?

The second post was by Jonathan Rogers (author of The Charlatan’s Boy, the upcoming CSFF Blog Tour feature) about sad books—favorite sad books, no less.

As I am coming down the home stretch in my own writing, and work to pull things together in The Lore of Efrathah, I can’t help but take these thoughts into consideration.

Do we remember, even treasure, happy-ending books more so than sad, or is the reverse true? Perhaps, as Stuart suggests, we prefer endings that are some combination of mission accomplished and mission doomed. After all, isn’t that closer to real life?

But do we want our art to reflect our culture as is or our dreams of what we hope to become?

Perhaps readers are all different. Or readers on some days want a certain ending and on other days a different kind all together.

So I’m wondering. Is there a perfect ending? And if so, is it one that makes you cry, cringe, laugh, grimace, or hug the book to you and sigh.

Does the perfect end make you want to race to the book store, the library, or an on-line store to find another story by the same author? Or does the perfect end make you want to savor the book, turn to the author bio or the acknowledgments, or even the back cover copy—anything just to keep you in the book for a few moments longer.

Does the perfect ending make you want to hear from the main character again, or are you content to remember him/her as is? Does the perfect end haunt your dreams or suggest alternatives to your mind? Or is the perfect end perfect because it’s exactly how you would bring the story to its conclusion?

Is an ending perfect because it surprises? Or because it fulfills expectations?

Does the perfect end wrap up all the loose ends, or are a few danglers better?

I have LOTS of questions, my friends. Tell me what you think about the ending of books. This inquiring mind wants to know. 😉

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