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April 29, 2010
April 28, 2010
April 25, 2010
First of all, I’m reading Colin Duriez’ short book, TOLKIEN AND C.S. LEWIS: THE GIFT OF FRIENDSHIP (2003 by HiddenSpring Press) in which he explores not only the writing of both men and their faith in Christ, but also their friendship and how it developed out of scholarship.
Secondly, this brought to mind a contemporary Englishman who has made his career into one of promoting a loathing of Christians: Philip Pullman. I’ve noted in his interviews that while he has sometime claimed himself atheist and sometime agnostic, (but all the time humanist); he hasn’t taken many swings at the basic tenets of Christianity in his children’s books. (He does in his newest, though I haven’t read it yet and I’m on the library waiting list for THE GOOD MAN JESUS AND THE SCOUNDREL CHRIST, which is reviewed in the Guardian below.)
Other people have answered Pullman’s many claims about what Lewis wrote, what he meant and what Pullman thinks of him.4 I won’t go there except to point out that where Tolkien and Lewis were both Oxford dons and graduated from their alma maters with honors, Pullman barely squeaked out of Exeter College in Oxford with what he calls “a Third class BA in 1968…it was the year they stopped giving fourth class degrees otherwise I’d have got one of those".
I’m going to look at these works of fantasy from a slightly different point of view.
First of all, I’d like to point out that
Secondly, both Lewis’ and Tolkien’s works grew out of their experiences in World War I and World War II – the horror of fighting and being wounded as soldiers in WWI and the terror inspired by the Nazi invasion of Poland and other European countries and the English mobilization against it in WWII.
Last of all is perhaps my most serious counter-accusation: neither Lewis nor Tolkien set out to become celebrities. Both preferred the lives they led as
Others of interest:
First time I could find written record of
April 18, 2010
Nathan Bransford is a West Coast agent with the New York literary agency, Curtis Brown, Ltd. For the past nine years, he has been writing a popular blog reflecting on and illuminating the publishing world. Humorous, serious and ultimately enlightening, I’ll be looking at how THE ESSENTIALS (PLEASE READ BEFORE YOU QUERY) have had an impact on my writing. I am using them with his permission and if you’d like to read his blog (which I highly recommend, even if it’s just to see “A Dog Tests the iPad”), go to http://blog.nathanbransford.com/.
As I don’t have an agent yet for any of my books and I’ve been submitting to various publishers “over the transom” (curious about this allusion? Go here: http://www.scribendi.com/advice/glossary.en.html#O) or through contests and offers of open readings, I can’t say I know about this from personal experience. Nathan Bransford says, “The submission process can take anywhere from a week to a year or more depending on when/if the agent finds a match for the project.”
This has given me much pause to reflect, mostly in a good way.
I’m impatient. I used to be even more impatient than I am now. I wanted to send out my stories and find out immediately that the editor wanted to publish it. I also wanted the check right away, too!
I discovered that that is NOT how professional publishing works when I had my first really big professional sale. The story, “Mystery on Space Station Courage” (If you or your library has an EBSCO membership, you can read the story here: http://connection.ebscohost.com/content/article/1029894921.html) was published in 1996 in CRICKET MAGAZINE. What came as a shock was the road I took to get there. I sent the story to them in the summer of 1993, received an acceptance at Thanksgiving the same year; did a couple of rewrites over the next six months and had the story accepted for publication. It appeared in the November 1996 issue and I was paid shortly thereafter. From submission to check, it took THREE YEARS.
My book, SIMPLE SCIENCE SERMONS FOR BIG AND LITTLE KIDS (http://www.amazon.com/Simple-Science-Sermons-Little-Kids/dp/0788012940) took a bit over a year from acceptance through galley draft correction to publication.
I know the process – not with an agent, but with my own stories. I can only imagine that adding in the step of an agent will make it longer, if more fulfilling in the end. But it’s VARIABLE -- "...anywhere from a week to a year or more..."
Nathan Bransford’s advice illustrates the real craziness of the publishing industry and brought back to my mind the aphorism that “patience is a virtue” – or more importantly, it's led me to further cultivate the fruit of the spirit: “For the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
April 15, 2010
Daniel Keyes’ FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON: the story has stayed with me for decades, a symbol for both the overwhelming possibilities of the human intellect and the overwhelming impossibilities faced by a profoundly challenged human mind. I’ve started and stopped this novel a half a dozen times in eleven years. I want to bring the original idea into the present millennium. To read RECONSTRUCTION from beginning to here, click on the label to the right and scroll to the bottom.
The door slammed behind him as he sprinted for the garage and grabbed his bike.
Disgusted, he wiped away the tears that sprang up in his eyes. He didn’t have time to cry now! He didn’t have time to be “sensitive” – which is what the girls at school called it. They said that’s why they wanted to date him. That’s why Mom always said, “Not yet. Your heart’s too young.”
He wished Job Doe, his best friend, was around. He wasn’t sensitive or any other crap like that! He was a real guy, even though he came from
This was life or death and he was gonna have to take care of Mai Li himself. Mom wasn’t gonna be any help now. He rubbed at his eyes with the back of his wrist. It was really, really dark out, and what he hadn’t told Mom was that it was supposed to rain tonight.
No time to wait, though. No time at all.
Ever since they were little, CJ had known stuff about Mai Li. Knew when she was going to cry. Knew when she was going to get sick.
Right now, he knew that she was heading into trouble.
No…not trouble…he knew that in some way, her life was going to be in danger. He pedaled hard, the googlemap clear in his head. It’s why he was great at math – he could remember formulas and equations and could do them in his head. It also didn’t explain why he sucked at reading and couldn’t read a word out loud without slobbering all over himself with mistakes.
He turned on to the divided highway heading west, past the college and into Sugarmaple Grove, a city with lots of money. He wished they lived there…
No time for that now. He had to save Mai Li. She needed him.
He snorted and tears sprang to his eyes again. She didn’t need him. She didn’t need anybody anymore. He scanned the streets, blinking hard. There was no way Mai Li was going to be hanging around now. She’d gone three hours ago. But he knew her – at least he USED to know her – as good as he knew himself. Sure, she’d probably been born with terrible brain damage. If the Neisen’s hadn’t been at the refugee camp to take her, she’d have been thrown out with the garbage.
But she had a brain that worked still. She had moods. She figured out problems all the time. She knew him.
The Neisen’s were about five miles from home. He figured he’d gone a mile already. He pedaled hard past the community college. He looked over at the parking lot just as the first sprinkles of rain started to fall.
A totally hot classic, 2009 BDY F3DM hummed in the parking lot. A rear door popped open, a woman screamed. A body tumbled out as the car snarled away, the owner having rigged the underside to fire off static electricity bolts when he floored the accelerator.
He knew the scream instantly. From one side of the divided highway, he nearly hit the divider but jumped it then jumped the following curb and flew through the parking lot until he slammed his brakes on at the head of the body.
As the rain began in earnest, pouring around him, Mai Li rolled on to her back, looked up at him and burst into tears.
Dropping his bike and pulling out his cellphone, he did the same as he called the police.
April 11, 2010
Slice of PIE: “NEW OBSERVATION SHOWS CHRISTIANS BETTER PREPARED FOR ALIEN FIRST CONTACT THAN MATERIALIST SCIENTISTS!”
Now that I have your attention, let me continue in a slightly more serious vein and offer you some evidence for the statement above.
What sparked this was the song, “Be Still” by the band Storyside :B. Follow the link, listen to the Youtube and then come back here:
The chorus reiterates over and over that “we are not alone”.
*ninety degree turn*
World-class astronomer, space popularizer and the author of the book that became the hit movie, CONTACT, believed in his heart of heart and “…spent [his life] trying to establish links between strange phenomena and the existence of life in outer space…Carl Sagan theorized that alien life such as bacteria exist not only in our planet but throughout the universe. He also insisted that it is impossible that no other intelligent life exists in the universe other than on Earth.” http://www.buzzle.com/articles/aliens-are-there-aliens.html (I note that this statement is not a direct quote as I could not find out when or where it originated. Many websites repeat this statement.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Sagan. Based on some 138 quotes attributed to Carl Sagan’s writings (http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/10538.Carl_Sagan), I think it is safe to say that he was a materialist. Materialism is a position that believes that all things that are real have a material or physical substance. It discounts any metaphysical reality. www.postmodernpsychology.com/Postmodernism_Dictionary.html
Yet Sagan – and all the other materialist science fiction readers and writers have no evidence whatsoever that life exists off of Earth. Yet they do not hesitate to say that they “believe” that there is such life. I submit that based on their previous track record of non-belief in the unseeable and an inability to accept anything that does not have physical substance, that scientific materialists are intellectually, culturally, and spiritually UNPREPARED to believe in alien life and will be poor choices for First Contact.
Christians on the other hand, have plenty of experience with the belief that we are NOT alone in the universe. Hebrews 12:1 states: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us…”
Romans 8:38 also intimates the Christian belief that we are not alone in the universe: “For I am convinced that neither…angels, nor principalities…nor powers…will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Christians – and others of deep faith – KNOW that they are not alone in the universe. We have contemplated it, believed it, lived it, prayed it and for us, “others out there” is a matter not only of faith, but of incontrovertible, EVERY DAY fact.
Materialist scientists can only IMAGINE really, really hard that there is intelligent life in the universe and hope that it’s possible that their imagination is factual.
Who would you rather have talking to the Klingons the first time – someone who has always known that that they were not alone and spoken regularly and intelligently with those Others. Or would you like someone who just found out that their imagination wasn’t anywhere near weird enough and are now tongue-tied or babbling incoherently as the Other is suddenly standing in front of them?I know who I would pick.
April 1, 2010
This series is a little biography about my dad and a little imagination about a trip he took the summer of 1946 – he was almost fifteen. He and his friend hitchhiked to
It was nearly noon and for six hours, Freddie Merrill and Tommy Hastings said fifteen words between them. Mostly cuss words. The word “dying” came up twice. The rest were “shut up”.
Crows flew in noisy flocks overhead.
There was nothing but brown grass and the intense, green leaves of potato plants and emerald corn stalks just shy of knee high because it had been a dry summer so far. The narrow asphalt strip they followed wound over bridges and streams and along the
Suddenly Freddie said, “Do Communists die of sunstroke?”
“I don’t know. I’m not a Communist,” said Tommy.
“My dad’s gonna think I’m a Communist when he gets the call from my aunt.”
“He’s not gonna think you’re a Communist.”
“How do you know?”
“I just know,” snapped Tommy.
Freddie stopped in the middle of the road and turned to face Tommy. He shouted, “How do you know?”
Tommy shouted back, “I just do!”
“Are you a warlock?”
“So I’m a warlock and a Commie now?”
“How else could you have made me come with you to
“I didn’t make you come with me and we’re going to
“Then why aren’t we there yet?”
“We’ve only been walking for six hours, that’s why!” Tommy shouted.
“When will we get to
“I don’t care!”
“Well I do! When are we gonna get there?”
“If you ask that again, I’m gonna punch you in the nose,” snarled Tommy.
Freddie put his fists on his hips and mimicking Tommy, said, “‘When are we gonna get there?’”
Tommy rushed Freddie, who grabbed his shirt to throw him into the ditch. But Tommy grabbed Freddie’s shirt and together both boys went flying across the road and tumbled down into the ditch. Neither one noticed as they were too busy beating on each other to pay much attention.
They kept at it until the sudden blare of a car’s horn startled them to their feet, both boys now wearing torn shirts, with skinned knees, scratched legs and bloody noses. Tommy’s eye was already beginning to swell shut and Freddie’s split lip added blood to the steady drip from his nose.
On the road above them stood a young woman in a cream-colored dress with tiny blue flowers on it. She wore matching high heels and a rounded hat from which hung a cream-colored net veil. She was leaning on the horn of a car that matched the color of her dress.
Beside her stood a man in a suit wearing a red tie who had his arms folded over his chest and was grinning at them.
The woman said, “You boys need a lift?”