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Showing posts from February, 2012

Hiatus for Now

This is my 795th post.  I had hoped to get to 800 by Lent, but this week I am attending a conference and had to prepare a paper, there are piles of work at the office, etc.  And the truth is, I just don't have anything fresh to write about now (that paper took it out of me).  Some of these posts are good; some are rants.

My editor says she is working on my next novel now, so I hope to be reading those proofs.  I want to work on some larger projects now, the Christmas novel to be sold through Kindle, a book on Bible study and one on communication in Proverbs, classes I am teaching, the possibility of grad school, some other fiction.  

The other problem is that I want to cut back on media consumption for Lent and focus on spiritual preparation.  The final problem is that with the election coming I will be tempted to write about certain political figures and it's best if I stay out of that.

So, goodbye for now.  If you Google partsofspeaking and just about any other subject, you …

Good news about giving to poor

On an earlier blog post I wrote about my priority in giving for the poor, clean water.  This article shows it as a top strategy for helping the poor. 

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/february/popular-strategies-helping-the-poor.html

The article also says, however, that it is not one of the most hyped and therefore not one of the most "lucrative" types of charitable efforts.  Let's change that, folks. 

Downton Abbey Part III

Am I the only person who doesn't like Mary Crawley?  Are we supposed to like her?  How are we supposed to feel about her? 

Like her father, she is concerned about the state of the estate, and will do what is necessary to "keep it in the family."  Like her mother the American, she is blunt and says what she thinks (but is she lying to Carlisle?). 

At the same time, she is just plain mean.  She was mean to Carson and to Anna, so she has a grating sense of entitlement that everyone acknowledges (especially Mrs. Hughes).  I don't want her to end up with poor Matthew, no matter how she feels about him.

I think one of the problems the series has the season is that it has become more plot-driven than character- driven.  We were introduced to great characters in believable contexts, and this season the characters are doing atypical and illogical, out-of-character things to move a plot along and get more "drama" and emotion without it seeming realistic or necessary.…

Writers Resources

I am rereading a book that is foundational to me as a serious fiction writer, John Gardner's The Art of Fiction.  Not to push Amazon (I know there is a big controversy over whether it is good for writers or not, so I only provide this link for more information): 

http://www.amazon.com/Art-Fiction-Notes-Craft-Writers/dp/0679734031/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329493321&sr=1-1

Warning:  although this book "changed my life" (sorry for the cliche) as far as writing goes, and I will giving a more thorough review in the future, it is not a how-to book for writing a mystery or a romance.  It is more from an academic, literary critic point of view but in no way pompous or condescending.  Even if one wants to write mystery or romance or westerns or true crime, I believe one needs to read the best there is (at least some of it, not of course all of it) before getting into specific genre.   However, he does say not to write what you know, but to pick a genre and learn…

Writers Resources

I would recommend any fiction writer, new or more experienced, to join CreateSpace, through Amazon.  You don't have to publish with them to get their newsletter or attend their webinars.  I just finished a webinar on marketing, and it gave me some new ideas.  Unless a writer is extremely lucky or extremely well known, he or she will have to do (a lot of) the marketing.

Downton Abbey Part II

I wasn't expecting two hours Sunday night.  That was fun, but I have to agree with some critics that some of the storylines are devolving into major soap opera.

Things I liked:
Matthew walking.  He's so sweet, the real star of the show.
As always, Maggie Smith's lines.  Don't be defeatist.  It's so middle class.
That Matthew told Mary to take a hike at the end.

Things I didn't like (and would like to get out of my head):
Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle) in bed with Anna.  Isn't she like thirty years younger than he?  That was icky.
Matthew walking.  It's too neat.
Some of the dialogue.  Oh, please.  If not stereotyped, it's anachronistic.
The pacing.  Way, way too fast.  One of the reasons I liked the first season was the pace.  Now it's insane.

Things I wasn't surprised by:
The Lord and the maid.  I saw that coming from the first scene they had together.  It didn't bother me, only that it was short-lived and not well-developed.

Things I was …

Shakespeare Chattanooga

I was introduced today to a new phenomenon.  A group of professional and semi-professional actors present Shakespeare in well-acted ways but with minimal sets and costumes.  What a way to spend a cold Sunday afternoon.  A friend invited me along to see their production The Merchant of Venice.  It is without irony that this play, which has some virulent anti-Semitism (or I should say anti-semitic lines) was presented at the Jewish Cultural Center.  That was the intention from the beginning.

Since reams have been written about this play, which in the after-discussion was referred to as a problem play,  I won't venture any literary criticism.  But I had forgotten how harsh the lines about Jews are, and I am tempted to think Shakespeare was too much a product of his time and cannot be excused thoroughly by saying, "he is portraying racism realistically."  The fact that the loss of his money is more important than the loss of his daughter is a give-away that Shylock is a vill…

Downton Abbey Rocks

I am one of the number who has to watch Downton Abbey every week, usually twice.  The complexity of the story lines mandates two watchings or more.  Why am I a fan.

The clothes.

The actors, who are able to make us care about a time and place we really shouldn't.

The clothes (sorry)

The witty and intelligent dialogue.

The fact that, despite the soap opera plot, there are universal themes and noble people portrayed.

The historicity.  Rarely do we see movies or plays about the Great War, the war so few Americans understand.

The understated emotion.  My husband got choked up when William died (could anything be sadder).  And he even stopped watching the Super Bowl to watch DA.  How cool is that.

The production values.  This show must cost a fortune.

I'm sure other people have other reasons.  Join in.

Thought for Feb. 11.

Strong faith in a weak plank over a creek will get your wet, but weak faith in a strong plank over a creek will get you to the other side.  But in both cases you have to walk forward.

The Limits of Prayer

Facebook can be a wonderful way to be blessed by news from old friends.  A former classmate posted yesterday that he and his family were praising God for healing his adult son of nonHodgkins' lymphoma.  Apparently, the cancer is gone, one of those instances where the treatment was prescribed and suddenly there was no need for it.  I have known many of these incidents, either personally or through friends. 

I rejoice with this brother, and if my son were in that situation, I don't know how overwhelmed and devastated I would be.  However, I can't help thinking that we limit our prayer.

If God can heal individuals of cancer, and we believe that, why aren't we praying for other miracles and interventions? Specifically, for the bloodshed to end in Syria so that  free and just society can come to that area and so that the gospel can go forth?  Specifically, for the iron hand of oppression to be lifted from North Korea with the death of that nutcase, Kim Jong Il?  Specificall…

Why People Don't, Part II

The second reason (see post below) is pride.  This type of pride comes in two varieties:  Pride in one's intellectual abilities, and pride in one's wisdom to run his/her own life and not submit to a higher authority. 

Hamlet tells Horatio, "There are more things in this world than are dreamt of in your philosophies."  (Sorry, not exactly verbatim.)  To reject the Christian faith because it goes outside one's experiences or current knowledge is not only prideful, but unimaginative.  This kind of pride often uses another excuse to mask itself.   People with this kind of pride are often self-deluded. 

The third reason is, and this will make some people mad, honesty.  Some people just honestly cannot accept Christianity, even if they would like to.  They don't want to play the game, act like they believe something they don't, and have a strong sense of inner consistency.   They understand the faith, they appreciate the faith, they know and respect people of …

Why People Don't Come to Christ

I try to make provocative titles to get more traffic.  A tad cheesy, but there's a lot of good stuff on this blog and if I don't do it, nobody will know.  To see part II, click on the blog title above.

This question has been bouncing around my  head.  The famous statement by Gandhi, "I would become a Christian if it weren't for the Christians" or something like that is often used, I suppose to either justify somebody or to try to inflict even more guilt on Christians, that it is all our fault that the whole world is not evangelized.

By the way, I resist the pressure to think that anything that came out of Gandhi's mouth must be true.  He deserves respect, but not reverence.  He was a flawed human being and very much a product of his culture.  For example, there's a quote in my Franklin-Covey planner for today, "To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer."  I would refer someone to Revelati…

Since when?

Since when did the President of the U.S. decide what individual hospitals do?  In this controversy over President Obama's demands that Catholic hospitals provide insurance coverage for birth control for its employees, a foundational question seems to be missing.  Where in the constitution does it call for the chief executive officer of the republic to concern himself about such a matter?

What next?  Telling me which grocery store I can shop at?  Seriously. Tonight on TV I hear Jay Carney say, "the president is committed to women having contraception without their having to pay for it."  What?   Why is that any of his business? 

I am concerned about this violation of religious liberty, but I am also concerned by the incredible abuse of executive power.

Theology and Taxes

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/februaryweb-only/prayer-breakfast-irony.html

I am not sure how many people saw the president's speech at the prayer breakfast.  It sort of amazed me (re:  irked) that he would try to defend forced income distribution in a secular society based on biblical principles when he rejects other clear biblical principles.

Now, I will be the first to agree that the Bible asks of its believers and Christ's followers that money take a back seat, that we should be stewards, that the truly poor should be the recipients of help, etc.  I greatly agree we are far too materialistic as a society and that the church is wrong in its tacit pursuit/approval of the idea that financial blessings equal godliness and that we should pursue wealth for its own sake.  But many of the verses about giving to the poor are within the Old Testament in a theocratic context and just don't apply in a pluralistic and nonChristian society.

There is some research to indica…

Komen, Planned Parenthood, and Money

I like Russell Moore.  I heard him speak once at my church and was amazed by his honesty and boldness.  Here he goes after the real issue with Komen and Planned Parenthood.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/februaryweb-only/bad-komen-lessons.html

My original post on this subject was far too harsh and opinionated.  It also was based on a one-side view of the facts.  So I am amending it, and apologize if the first sounded like I didn't care about breast cancer survivors, because I do and have many friends and acquaintances in that number.  Many, many breast cancer survivors has received immeasurable help and support from the Komen organization.  I also heard that the foundation was instrumental in getting breast health care to women in underserved countries, which is greatly commendable.

However, it would be wonderful if all the money Komen gives to Planned Parenthood really did go to mammograms for poor women.  Because of the link, that's why I am dissuaded personally fr…

Bullies, Bullying, and Ourselves

I had a disturbing experience last night.  I was walking my pit bull in my neighborhood.  I usually do this after dark or at dusk because I get home from work between 5:00 and 6:00 and right now it's dark then; in the summer I do it because of the heat and I want to stay out of the sun.  I am blonde and very fair and have had lots of bad sunburns in my life and don't want to risk too much sun.  So, I am the weird old lady who walks by night in XXXX Estates subdivision with her dark brindled pit bull, instigating a lot of barking frenzies from the fenced in dogs. 

All that is background.  Coming back down the hill, I heard a father yelling, yes, yelling, at a young boy.  "Get him out of here.  I told you to get him out of here."  I couldn't see them, but the man's voice was overloud (we have a lot of that here).  I assumed it was an animal that "him" referred to.  A few steps later, I saw the boy, maybe eight or nine, whipping at a little dog on the …

Writers' group, Part II

A couple of days ago I wrote about my writers' group.  We had gotten into a discussion of the difference between a traditional writers group and a critique group.

Here is a different view on the matter.

http://www.stephenwrites.com/2012/02/confessions-of-a-rogue-writer-dont-waste-your-time-with-critique-groups/

I think this blogger is right--and wrong.  The best groups would be of persons who have writing experience and some credits.  I think our group has these and therefore does not fit the mold or stereotypes he describes.