Exploring where life and story meet!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Kingdom come

I've been a wanderer, an orphan, a refugee my entire life, at least in an emotional, relational, and spiritual sense.  Here's an interesting article reminding us that we do have a home, and it's here now, not some distant hope, and that it is our job to be citizens of that unseen country and help others to find it!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Ridiculous Road Trips!

Want to feel small, and invigorated all at the same time?  Check out this quick little article on mind boggling interstellar road tripping!  Wow!  My question is, why would anyone want to live on Mars?  First the trip to even get there would be horrendous and once you were there survival would be bleak indeed!  Why not move to Antarctica or the Sahara?  At least you could breathe the air and water is known to exist!  Star Trek and Star Wars give us visions of easy travel and accessible civilizations all along the way, like road tripping between the States, but I wonder how many of these idealists have even road tripped across South Dakota, much less between the empty wastes of space?  But then again, 'if I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,' still He is there! Apparently we've been dreaming about such things since time out of mind, we are just more scientific and less poetic than the ancients.

Monday, December 31, 2018

The Heart of Austen

I read the book 'Austenland' some time ago and just watched the movie.  The book wasn't bad and the movie was ridiculously delightful, in a nerdy, over the top silly sort of way, perhaps a modern Northanger Abbey?  The plot centers around the thirty something Jane who is unlucky in love and dreams of finding a modern Mr. Darcy.  In her obsession with all things Austen, she seems to have developed a few unsettling habits hoping to approximate her beloved era as much as possible, perhaps to an unhealthy extreme.  She spends her minuscule fortune and in a last desperate leap at love, decides to spend a week living out her dream.  A nerdy little romance plays out, worthy of an Austen book in itself, and all is happily resolved.  It isn't classic literature or moving cinema, just a happy bit of fluff that pokes a bit of fun at the modern Austen craze and perhaps even modern civilization itself, but hardly the source of great philosophical realizations, or is it?

The movie is delightfully satiric when it comes to modern obsessions with all things Austen, especially the romanticization of her witty but cutting social commentaries.  It has succeeded as much as Miss Austen herself, whose books, while humorous, are full of social commentary on her times and humanity in general.  This little gem of a movie likewise reveals something we moderns so ofter overlook: the search for the real.  In a world wherein we feel compelled to create ourselves, to be unique yet all the same, to have no opinion not sanctioned by social approval, and to acknowledge nothing as Truth save that which is dearest to ourselves, this movie throws our shallow reality in our face as suddenly as being smacked with a glove.  Jane doesn't want Jane Austen or Mr. Darcy, she wants real, true, deep things, things that mean Something.

The success of Miss Austen is in her creation of real characters, not fluffy bits of nothing that fall in love and live happily ever after.  Her heroines are flawed, they suffer, they sin, they make mistakes, but they also learn and grow, just as real people should.  Or at least they would in a world that made any sense.  But our world, or rather our perception of it, doesn't make any sense.  We are as feckless, flighty, and vain as Lydia Bennet, Mrs. E, Lady Catherine, Isabella Thorpe, the Crawfords, Mr. Wickham, and dozens of other characters in the Austen canon: characters who do not grow, change, or improve, but rather distort reality to explain away their own discomforts and shortcomings.  We are now a world of such whining, bitter, discontent, and vacuous entities.  And like Miss Austen, 'Austenland' is determined to laugh in the face of the absurd and call us to better ourselves and our world thereby.  Bravo!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Someone gets it!

Most secular Christmas music annoys me, yes that Hippo song is cute the first time and who can begrudge Mommy stealing a kiss from Santa Clause, and everyone loves the upbeat feel of 'Sleigh Ride' and 'Carol of the Bells.'  And then there are the rather innocuous classics like 'Silver Bells' and 'White Christmas' and the kid favorites featuring Rudolph and Frosty, but aside from a few tried and true classics, most of the secular fluff that's come out in celebration of the season in the last century isn't worth the paper it's printed on.  I once endured a middle school choir concert wherein they rejoiced over snowmobiles and snowboarding, ugh!  And I'm not the only one, finally I can come out of the closet!  Find the confession here!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Outlandish Promises

I'm currently going through my extensive body of self-published stories: revising, editing, and the like.  It has been a long time since I've read 'The Serpent and the Unicorn,' and even longer since I wrote it.  I came across one particular storyline that truly made me wonder what I was thinking when I wrote THAT.  Could a person really act like that outside of a sappy, romantic tale?  Then I watched the third installment of the Horatio Hornblower series, the one where the title character and his men are captured by the Spanish and stuck in prison.  He strikes up a friendship with the local Don and together they watched a ship wreck itself on the reef.  This captured Englishman offers to go out and rescue the survivors, at much risk to himself, but the Don only stares at him and says it is too dangerous and only an excuse to escape.  The man promises to return and the Don relents.

After a harrowing rescue the little company is adrift at sea and picked up by the main character's ship.  It is a perfect escape!  Except for that dreadful promise.  But he goes back, his men as well, to fulfill his promise.  They were home free but they chose to return to chains and prison because of a promise.  I know this is a fictional tale but it is a relief to know I am not the only one with such fantastic storylines!  But then it is not such an outlandish tale, at least when you consider that grandest and most epic of all tales, the one the actually happens to be true.

For there was once a Father who made a promise, and though it cost Him the life of His Son, He did not hesitate to fulfill it though the world most certainly didn't deserve it.  This Christmas, remember that outlandish promise, fulfilled in the most unlikely of places two millennia ago, and remember that such love, honor, and sacrifice is never in vain!

Monday, December 3, 2018

"In dark places, when all other lights go out..."

Elijah is often remembered as one of the greatest Prophets of ancient Israel and the scene wherein he engages in a 'prophets' duel' with the prophets of Baal is one of my favorites in the entire Bible.  But I noticed something for the first time the other day.  Right after this gigantic spiritual high, the apex of his career, in the very next chapter he is on the run and has despaired of his very life, sitting down under a tree and waiting to die.  He's given up, he has no hope, no motivation, no joy.  Have you ever been there?  In that dark place wherein death looks cheerful by comparison?  It is a scary place to be.

And what happens?  Has God given up on the man who has given up on himself and the God who has worked many a mighty miracle through him and preserved his life through many long and difficult years?  Does he get his wish?  Nope!  Instead he is awakened by an angel and gets breakfast in bed, such as it is!  Then he's told to hie himself off to some lonely mountain, which he does, but instead of standing on the peak and trysting with God, Elijah sulks in the cave.  Then he's told to go anoint his successor and a couple replacement Kings, but he pretty much ignores that command as well.  But he's still spoken of in the New Testament as a great Prophet!  And he's not alone, there's a whole list of people with screwed up lives, failures, heretics, murderers, slackers...who are mentioned as heroes of the faith in places like Hebrews.  You read their stories, in all their ghastly glory, and then find God can still call them friends, can use them for great things!

When you are alone in that dark place, you are not alone.  No other human person understand what you are going through, but that does not mean you are not understood.  Whether you have just succeeded in spectacular fashion or feel like your life is over because of some mistake, you are no alone.  We are none of us so great or so wretched that we are beyond redemption or the reach of His love.  But we must choose to take His nail-pierced hand when He offers it; when that still, small voice whispers, will we listen?

Monday, November 26, 2018

Lazy blogging at its best!

Here's a nice little article on one of my favorite literary heroines and her approach to life in general and suffering in particular, well worth a look!