What I Believe (And Why)

“This world of ours has some purpose; and if there is a purpose, there is a Person. I had always felt life first as a story: and if there is a story, there is a Storyteller.”

G.K. Chesterton

I have been plugging away at this blogging thing for long enough now that I’ve begun to get a grip on what I’m doing. I didn’t know what I would write about, at first. Now, it feels clear that I’ll be majoring in a few clear-cut subjects:

Books.
Writing.
Faith.

With this much clear, I am now compelled to present my audience with an introduction, of sorts, to each of these things. What do I read? What do I write? What do I believe? And why?

I have decided to begin today with the subject of my faith, as what I believe is the foundation for everything else, for all that I do and am. It’s the beginning. And that’s usually a good place to start, right?

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Some people might call me “religious”. I would never use that word. Not because it’s fundamentally inaccurate, but because it seems so dusty and antiquated. It conjures mental images of droning clerics, cushionless church pews, yawning congregants. Nothing about my faith is like that.

When I think about my faith, I am filled with the same kind of sensations and imagery that one might use to summon a Patronus charm. Joy. Beauty. Laughter. To me, my “religion” is like a wild orchid and a waterfall and a Van Gogh painting and a perfectly executed punchline, all rolled into one. It’s the first spoonful of ice-cream in the summer. It’s Beethoven’s piano concerto #5. It’s an unexpected note from a friend in your mailbox.

You could say that what I believe starts with beauty. When I look at a sunrise, its beauty does not strike me as a matter of opinion. When I see a tree in the golden height of autumn, its beauty is intrinsic, inherent. It exists apart from me and you.

So, I believe the world is beautiful. A work of art. And if the world is art, it’s only logical to conclude that someone is responsible (not just for its existence, but its beauty). If the world is art, there must be an artist who created it.

I could pontificate, but I rather like how N.D. Wilson puts it in his book, Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl:

“If the world is fundamentally an accident, if in the beginning, there was no eternal personality, no eternal living being, merely super-hot, hyper-dense I AM matter (with no space and no universe outside itself), and if, wandering those hyper-dense, super tiny corridors of the Forever Matter, attending to its normal routine, there happened to be one little chemical that caught its toe and flopped into another very different chemical, and both of them said “Oh, crap,” in tiny voices and went deaf in the explosion, then when did the accident start making sense and why the hell do we have the Special Olympics?”

Of course, there is more than beauty to our world. There is ugliness, too. Heaps and heaps of it. It’s a fact we all have to reconcile with, at one point or another. Many people will cite the presence of darkness and evil in our world as evidence against a kind, loving Artist.

And yet to my mind, it’s less far-fetched to accept that evil could exist in a world created by Love than it is to believe that principles like charity, beauty, self-sacrifice could originate from a meaningless accident. Besides, if there is no Ultimate Love, there is no such thing as evil. Sans God, there is no moral infrastructure for the world. There’s no difference whatsoever between Adolf Hitler and Mother Theresa. It’s just a matter of personal preference.

I’m gonna stop on that line, though, because I’m no apologist and there are a million other resources already out there advocating for the existence of a Creator. My goal is not to defend my beliefs, merely to explain them (an impossible enough task on its own).

My conviction in the existence beauty flowers into that of love. Love is the ultimate reality. And we’re not talking Hallmark love, here. We’re talking about something fierce and wonderful. We’re talking about something that borderlines on foolish, on absurd. We’re talking about people voluntarily sacrificing their lives for the sake of others. People who forgive the unforgivable. People who choose poverty and filth over wealth and comfort. The most compelling argument will never convince me against the presence of love in the world.

And this is where the gospel comes in. It is what all the love and beauty out there are pointing to. The love and beauty are the evidence. The gospel is the answer to the question (whatever the question is).

Just as goodness has a point of origin (the Creator), so does the ugliness. It squirms in the pit of every human soul. No matter what our desires or intentions, ultimately we’re all broken, fallen, imperfect. The God who made us loves us anyway. His love is the anti-Hallmark kind, the picture that even the highest human form must mirror.

But there’s still a problem, because God doesn’t share our fallen state. He is whole, and holy. He is perfect. Perfection and imperfection cannot coexist. Orcs have no place in Lothlorien. Nothing that is not absolutely holy can abide in the eternal presence of the Creator. This isn’t some kind of pompous, arbitrary rule God made up. It’s the purest of facts. His holiness would burn the soiled soul like ants under a magnifying glass.

The meaning of life hinges on whether or not there’s another but. And there is. But…!

Because of His tender and passionate love for His children, because He desires our reconciliation to Him, because He wants to be closer to us than any earthly father can be, He made a way.

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
John 3v16-17

He sent his own Son to redeem the world. To share in our every heartache. To destroy the blot of sin inside us. To infect us with his holiness.

Since the children are made of flesh and blood, it’s logical that the Savior took on flesh and blood in order to rescue them by his death. By embracing death, taking it into himself, he destroyed the Devil’s hold on death and freed all who cower through life, scared to death of death.
It’s obvious, of course, that he didn’t go to all this trouble for angels. It was for people like us, children of Abraham. That’s why he had to enter into every detail of human life. Then, when he came before God as high priest to get rid of the people’s sins, he would have already experienced it all himself—all the pain, all the testing—and would be able to help where help was needed.
Hebrews 2v14-18 (MSG)

I could get carried away here, so let’s just sum up what we’ve covered so far:

-The word is full of beauty, goodness, and love.
-The world is also blighted with evil and hate.
-Both the good and evil have sources.
-I accept and understand the Ultimate Love to be the God of the Bible. The darkness is mostly my fault (and yours, too. Sorry).
-Light and darkness cannot eternally coexist.
-God, in His love, has given us the antidote for sin and darkness, in the person of Christ, His son.

Having accepted all these points as absolute truth, I’ve also made the decision to take the Way my heavenly father provides, to accept the astounding grace He’s offered me. I’ve done nothing to deserve this gift, and nothing I ever do will make me any worthier. It is out of gratitude and love that I attempt to live my life as would best please Him.

He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.
2 Corinthians 5v15 (NLV)

Or, to borrow a paraphrase from George MacDonald:

“He gives himself to us— shall we not give ourselves to Him? Shall we not gives ourselves to each other, whom He loves?”

This is what I believe. This is where I’m coming from. This is why I am who I am, why I do what I do, write what I write. There is plenty more to it, of course. But this is just one blog post. The nutshell, bare-bones version. Hopefully I have not failed utterly in the communication. If I have, at least I know my own weakness, and whence comes my strength:

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.
Psalm 73v26

I have some things to say about Jane Austen…

Do you share my affinity for this 19th century literary genius? (Don’t get overly excited. I possess none of her talent, and the things on my mind have doubtless been espoused by others before me.) Or do you, perhaps, turn your nose up at Austen, dismissing her body of work as historical chick-lit? Please don’t quit reading. I want a chance to make you understand how wrong you are.

The inspiration for this post was not, in fact, any of the five brilliant novels penned by Jane Austen. Silly as it is, I often find poor literature to be more inspiring than the very best. Did you ever walk through a store and catch sight of a rack of books that just look so plain awful you wonder how they ever got published? This happens to me a lot, and always lifts my soul a little. Because, I mean, if garbage like that can end up on shelves, surely there is hope for me.

This urging to write about Jane has been borne of my latest venture into sub-par literature, namely a book entitled Old Friends and New Fancies: An Imaginary Sequel to the Novels of Jane Austen, by Sybil G. Brinton. It is billed as “an imaginary sequel”, I assume, because it was published in 1914, long before anyone had thought to invent the term “fan-fiction”.

Now, I’ve mostly avoided Austen wanna-be sequel-writers to this point in life. No one can improve upon Jane’s own near-perfection, so what’s the point? I’m not sure why I made an exception for Sybil G. Brinton. Maybe the fact that her effort is over 100 years old led me to believe it had more legitimate claims to my attention. Or maybe curiosity finally made a successful ambush on my consciousness. Whatever the case, the e-book was a mere 99-cents on Amazon, so I had little to lose.

I can’t think of a nicer way to say this. The book is… not very good. On the positive side, I suppose one might find it a acceptably diverting way to pass the time, provided one does not go in with unrealistic expectations. Judged purely as what it is (meaning: fan fiction), it’s fun enough. Naturally, there is something pleasant about revisiting familiar, beloved characters.

To my mind, unfortunately, the characters quickly ceased to feel either familiar or lovable. When did Elizabeth Bennet (now Mrs. Darcy, of course) become so meddlesome? How come Lady Catherine de Bourgh is so much more agreeable all of a sudden? Why the heck would Emma Woodhouse (now Mrs. Knightley) become BFFs with Kitty Bennet? And why are the gentlemen (with the exception of the infuriatingly demure Col. Fitzwilliam) so underwritten?

At first, I had hope the connections between the characters from different books was going to go down pretty smoothly. It’s not hard to imagine a connection between Lady Catherine and General Tilney, for instance. Or that Robert Ferrars and Mr. Yates could be besties. New connections seem to crop up with the turning of every page, though, and the more they do, the less believable they become.

As nice as it is to imagine Mrs. Darcy becoming pals with Elinor Tilney… and Anne Elliot (now Mrs. Wentworth)… AND Eleanor Dashwood (now Mrs. Ferrars)… not to mention Mary Crawford and half-a-dozen others… it all feels too forced. Misters Darcy, Knightley and Edward Ferrars, meanwhile, are nothing more than handsome accessories to their obviously more interesting wives.

The contents of Old Friends And New Fancies’s pages, though, are not the worst of it. It’s what’s not there. The ladies and gentlemen presented to us are represented as those we’ve grown to know and love, but that’s not who they are. They have the same names, sure, and speak in the same appealingly antiquated dialect. But none of them seem to have grown or changed. None possesses that spark of life, instilled in them by their original author. Miss Austen’s signature charm and wit are conspicuously absent.

The relationships conceived by Miss Brinton are paramount, but the characters involved in them are given comparatively little. This doesn’t work. Not for Brinton. Not for any writer. The people who mistake Austen for chick-lit and do not therefor read her novels would be right if her novels were like this.

I’m being harsh, I know, which I don’t like to do. Usually, I would accede that it is not fair to compare anyone to Jane Austen. But when anyone goes about borrowing her creations, it is impossible not to.

The grand thing is, reading this book has opened my eyes to just how wonderful Jane Austen’s originals truly are. Not that I didn’t know already. But you can know how amazing bacon tastes and still be amazed at its superiority when you end up eating some inferior “equivalent” made from turkey.

Jane Austen’s knowledge of human nature, her insight into the slightest of our follies and fancies, is nothing short of brilliant. Instead of being held back by the restrictions of the society in which she lived, or crippled by the quiet confines of her own everyday life, she used them as the foundations for her work. Some of her greatest strengths were drawn from her greatest disadvantages.

There are truth and wisdom to be gleaned from most classic literature. What sets Miss Austen apart from the rest, and makes her novels so infinitely readable, is her sense of humor. Her creations do not merely live and breathe. Just as important, they laugh.

While these finer qualities have obviously been lost on Jane Austen’s skeptics, I’m pretty sure they’ve been equally so on some of her fans. No doubt many of the latter are put off by the romantic inclinations and girlish effusions of the former. In writing this post, I’ve conducted a few Google searches for Austen quotes. It’s amazing how some are taken out of context. Take this offering from Northanger Abbey, for instance:

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”

It sounds like a nice sentiment, and people the internet over are making pretty graphics of it with flowery script, and even slapping it on greeting cards. But when one takes into account that the lines are spoken by the coquettish, conniving Isabella Thorpe, their appeal is altogether lost (at least to the discerning mind).

Here is an even worse example:

“The very first moment I beheld him, my heart was irrevocably gone.”

Romantic and sentimental, right? Um. Wrong. This quote is taken from Love And Freindship, an out-and-out farce that Miss Austen penned when she was still a teenager. It is a hilarious story, and I recommend it with all my heart. But I dare anyone to peruse the following passage and tell me with a straight face that this is something that was meant to be taken seriously:

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I don’t mean to throw every Austen fan-girl to the gutter. If I did, I would be an immense hypocrite. There are romantic elements to Jane Austen’s novels, and I enjoy them as much as the next girl. …Also, I might have just wandered away for ten minutes or so to look for GIFs of Colin Firth, et al. I’m not going to post any here, though, because I don’t want to undermine my point.

… Well, OK. Maybe just one:

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I could now tell you why I personally prefer Mr. Tilney to Mr. Darcy, but that’s another subject for another day.

I don’t know how this turned into a defense… no speaks better for Jane than she does for herself. She doesn’t need me to defend her. The point remains, there is so much more to Jane Austen than the happy endings. And anyone who believes otherwise would do well to consider how five little novels could endure for centuries if they were anything like so shallow.

Recommended Reads: The 7 Best of 2017

Apparently this is my first post in almost two months. Coughs. So you see why I advertise myself as a “sporadic blogger”, among other things. I would promise to do better in 2018, but we all know there’s a better than decent chance you’re not going to see me again until around Valentine’s.
Since looking forward is not likely to be productive in this case, today we’re going to take a look back. We’re going to take a last gander at the journey that was 2017, and a few of the books that kept me company along the way.

What follows are my seven literary highlights of the year. Feel free to add your own in the comments!

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1. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

Recommended for: Fans of the Princess Bride, Monty Python, and/or William Shakespeare. Anyone who thought the Helena Bonham-Carter/Cary Elwes film was just too depressing.

Three cheeky writers teamed up to give us this very, VERY creative reinterpretation of English history. Be prepared for fewer gruesome deaths and a lot more shape shifting. And fun. Heaps and heaps of fun.

“No horse jokes,” he said.
“My lord, I apologize for the horse joke. If you put down the book—unharmed!—I will give you a carrot.”
He brandished the book at her. “Was that a horse joke?”
“Neigh.”
“Was that a horse joke?”

2. The Man Born To Be King: A Play-Cycle on the Life of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Dorothy Sayers

Recommended for: Pretty much any believer who reads

I have Sheldon Vanauken’s A Severe Mercy for calling my attention to this one (quick aside: don’t you just love it when one good book leads you to another?)

What Sayers presents is a pretty straightforward dramatic version of the Gospels. Yet she somehow manages to bring the characters to life, and make me see them in ways I never did before. It is difficult to really review a book like this properly, especially since I read it towards the beginning of the year. I won’t be able to communicate how good it was. You just have to find out for yourself.

3. Are Women Human?: Astute and Witty Essays on the Role of Women in Society by Dorothy Sayers

Recommended for: Female people. Also, male people.

This was obviously the year of Dorothy Sayers for me. I’m not sorry.

Over the years, I’ve found myself drawn to various books that skirt between the issues of Christianity and feminism. None of them ever quite hit the spot. This volume of two easily-read-in-one-sitting essays finally changed that. “YES!” I found myself saying to the wisdom-filled pages (possibly aloud… coughs). “THIS is how it is!”

I got my own copy for Christmas, which I will no doubt be rereading and extracting excerpts from in the near future.

“A man once asked me how I managed in my books to write such natural conversation between men when they were by themselves. Was I, by any chance, a member of a large, mixed family with a lot of male friends? I replied that, on the contrary, I was an only child and had practically never seen or spoken to any men of my own age till I was about twenty-five. “Well,” said the man, “I shouldn’t have expected a woman (meaning me) to have been able to make it so convincing.” I replied that I had coped with this difficult problem by making my men talk, as far as possible, like ordinary human beings. This aspect of the matter seemed to surprise the other speaker; he said no more, but took it away to chew it over. One of these days it may quite likely occur to him that women, as well as men, when left to themselves, talk very much like human beings also.”

4. What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey

Recommended for: The down-and-out, grace-hungry soul. Also, the opposite kind of person.

My first thought when scrolling back through my 2017 book list was, “Wait! I only discovered Yancey this year?!” He’s become such a good book-friend in that time, it doesn’t seem possible. I read two of his others, as well (The Jesus I Never Knew, and Vanishing Grace). They were both fantastic, but I think this was my favorite.

One of the less pleasant quirks of fallen humanity is the tendency to forget our constant need of receiving God’s grace, and demonstrating it to others. Yancey makes you see, though, and it’s wonderful.

“Religious faith—for all its problems, despite its maddening tendency to replicate ungrace—lives on because we sense the numinous beauty of a gift undeserved that comes at unexpected moments from Outside. Refusing to believe that our lives of guilt and shame lead to nothing but annihilation, we hope against hope for another place run by different rules. We grow up hungry for love, and in ways so deep as to remain unexpressed we long for our Maker to love us.”

5. The Queen Of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

Recommended for: The YA fan who enjoys being swallowed whole by the novels they read

This is the second installment of The Queen’s Thief series, all of which are incredible. The author has created a world so intricate and authentic that each book contains a note at the end to explain that they are, in fact, purely fictional. I guess the publishers were concerned that readers would mistake the stories for actual history. It sounds silly, but it isn’t. Whalen Turner is literally that good.

“I’ll be your minister–”
“Of the exchequer? You’d rob me blind.”
“I would never steal from you,” he’d said hotly.
“Oh? Where is my tourmaline necklace? Where are my missing earrings?”
“That necklace was hideous. It was the only way to keep you from wearing it.”
“My earrings?”
“What earrings?”

6. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Recommended for: Any consumer of classic literature who has somehow missed it to this point.

I try to read at least one big, intimidate classic each year. Having never tackled any Russian lit, I decided this was as good a year to try it as any. I have no regrets.

“The world says: “You have needs — satisfy them. You have as much right as the rich and the mighty. Don’t hesitate to satisfy your needs; indeed, expand your needs and demand more.” This is the worldly doctrine of today. And they believe that this is freedom. The result for the rich is isolation and suicide, for the poor, envy and murder.”

7. The Door Before by ND Wilson

Recommended for: Those who have already read Wilson’s Ashtown Burials and 100 Cupboards series.

Actually, a mere recommendation does not seem sufficient. If you’ve already read and enjoyed Ashtown Burials and 100 Cupboards, you MUST read this, their prequel. And if you haven’t already read and enjoyed Ashtown Burials and 100 Cupboards? …Well, you might want to get on that. Imagine books with the flavor of Narnia and Oz, with dashes of other classics like Treasure Island thrown in. Add a generous heap of meaning and wonder and humor and emotion. That’s N.D. Wilson.

The Door Before gave me the most pure joy and satisfaction of any of the 70+ titles I read this year.

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Book Reviews: The Best And Worst Of October

If the world knows one thing about me already, it is probably this. But on the chance that a stranger falls out of the blogosphere and somehow lands here, I will make it super-duper clear: I read.

Lots.

Every day.

I. Love. Books.

Reviewing books? Err… not so much.

Nonetheless, I’ve buried myself in an interesting title or two of late, and sharing these literary discoveries feels right.

Thanks to Goodreads tracking these things for me, I can reliably inform you that I read six books in the month of October. I do not have legitimate reviews for all of them. Or even most of them. But here is the best I can conjure:

The Way West, by AB Guthrie Jr.

I don’t do westerns, in general, but chose to give this one a try. It’s about a wagon train on the Oregon Trail, and someone has had a slight obsession with the Oregon Trail since childhood. At this time, I can neither confirm nor deny that the someone in question is me. Coughs.

Anyway. I guess there is a reason I don’t often delve into this genre. Not that there is anything the matter with it, or with this book in particular. It was readable. But I did not enjoy it. Guthrie’s style is so… masculine. Eloquent at times, yes. But masculine. A macho, manly-man type masculine. It was as if, on every page, the words turn this way and that, flexing their muscles, careless of not having bathed in a week.

Certain chapters are written from the point of view of female characters, too. Just picture me like so during those bits:

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Let’s not dwell on it.

Escape From Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey From North Korea To Freedom In The West, by Blaine Harden

It is good to learn about North Korea. Especially on days you’re inclined to be cranky and dissatisfied with life. It makes complaining a lot more difficult. Any day you don’t get a finger chopped off for dropping a sewing machine? That’s a good day, folks.

The story probably deserves more illumination than I’m giving it just now, but this is what I learned.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity, by Nabeel Qureshi

Sad and powerful and educational and inspiring. My only regret is that it took Qureshi’s death to call my attention to his writing.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo

And now, for something completely different…

The tale of a lost china rabbit who passes from one owner to another and learns to love in the process.

Yes, I cried. Due to some tragical personal circumstances of the past, I have a tender spot for stories about lost toys. Sniffs.

At least this one has a happy ending.

Without You, There Is No Us: My Time With The Sons Of North Korea’s Elite, by Suki Kim

Yep. More North Korean non-fiction stuff.

This book was quite distinct from the others I’ve read about this country, which were all stories of defectors. This one is about an American who spends months among North Korea’s most “privileged” young men as an English teacher.

Fascinating premise, right?

Some of the book holds up to this promise. Learning about these youths and the way they view the world (not to mention how some of those views were challenged) was an eye-opening and heart-breaking experience. It was impossible not to ache for them, for all the things they can’t know, and for the paths their lives are likely to follow.

Alas. There is an undercurrent running through the pages that poisoned the whole reading for me, and it had nothing to do with the tragedy that is North Korea. The problem here is the author herself.

Miss Kim was able to do what she did (sneak into NK as a teacher with the express purpose of putting her findings into a book) with the aid of a missionary group. It was her attitude towards these missionaries and their faith (which also happens to be my faith) that troubled me.

Kim openly admits to not understanding Christian beliefs, and having never read a Bible. Despite this, she repeatedly compares the faith of her missionary colleagues to the indoctrinated devotion of her students to their dictator. Early on, there is a flippant suggestion that the missionaries are really only there because saving souls in North Korea will earn them a place in heaven. Her attitude towards these Christians (people she lived and worked alongside for months) struck me as very condescending in general.

The style of the book isn’t altogether journalistic, but I still would have expected (and appreciated) a little more objectivity. I do not expect everyone to share my beliefs, or even to respect them. But somehow it really chafed to see them so haphazardly misconstrued.

On the bright side, it did give me an idea for some possible future blog posts. I call that redemption. Woop!

Little Princes: One Man’s Promise To Bring Home The Lost Children Of Nepal, by Conor Grennan

If Without You, There is No Us was the worst of the month, then Little Princes is the best.

It’s about an orphanage in war-torn Nepal, full of children who turn out NOT to be orphans. From the publisher’s description:

Child traffickers were promising families in remote villages to protect their children from the civil war – for a huge fee – by taking them to safety. They would then abandon the children far from home, in the chaos of Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu.

The story really gets going when the author makes it his mission to find the families of these lost children, and reconnect them.

I laughed. And cried, again (but I dare you to read this one and not get at least a little misty at the end).

Tragic, endearing, hilarious. This is the one I recommend.

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10 Fantabulous Fairy Tale Adaptations

“I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather, C. S. Lewis.”

So reads C.S. Lewis’s dedication of The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe.

Do you know what he means about growing into fairy tales again?

I do (lucky me!), and I hope you do, too. Adulthood is better with fairy tales.

The originals are great. Probably more gruesome than a lot of us remember, but still great. Also wonderful are the myriad of adaptations that have come out over the years, both literary and visual. The following list (which is still growing, mind you) was born of my love for certain of these adaptations.

Before we dive in head first, an advisory notice: these are my opinions. I do not present them as fact. There are many popular retellings  that just aren’t my cup of tea. ABC’s “Once Upon A Time” series, for instance. Or Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles.

So what is my cup of tea? Well, expect to find some traditional and well-known titles, along with a handful of random, creative and nostalgic picks. Also note that I’ve limited myself to one adaptation per fairy tale.

Also-also note: certain of the most famous fairy tales are ones I don’t care for to begin with. I mean, Little Red Riding Hood… yuck. So it shouldn’t come as much surprise to find many well-known tales excluded here. On the flip side, maybe there will be a few that are totally new to my readers. Yay!

Now, if you’re ready, then allons-y.

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Beauty And The Beast: We might as well get my least original selection out of the way first. Disney’s spin on the classic fairy tales are usually the best known versions. Occasionally, there’s good reason for that. 1992’s Beauty And The Beast is the best of the best. You’ve got striking animation, a catchy soundtrack, and a timeless story that’ll sucker-punch you right in the feels. Not to mention the library of every book-nerd’s wildest dreams…

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The Brave Little Tailor: Disney tried their luck with this tale, too, all the way back in 1938. The Mickey Mouse version didn’t exactly catapult this lesser-known story to fame. I wasn’t too familiar with it until last year, when I happened upon the book Valiant, by Sarah McGuire.

The heroine is endearing and intrepid, the supporting cast is fantastic, and the traditionally villainous giants are given a different kind of treatment altogether. Seriously. These are hands down the best giants I have ever read. I only wish that was more of a compliment.

Rumor has it, the author has an adaptation of The Wild Swans in the works. I, for one, await its release with bated breath.

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Cinderella: I would have preferred to compile a list entirely of books. Or at least avoided betraying my affinity for a shameless chick flick. Alas! I am powerless to deny my fondness for the 1998 Drew Barrymore/Angelica Huston vehicle Ever After. Does it bother me that American actors are playing French characters with fake British accents? Yes. Yes it does. But the freshness and wit are nonetheless winning.

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East of the Sun & West of the Moon: Are you familiar with this Scandinavian tale of ice, polar bears and trolls? I wasn’t. Then I read the stunning retelling East, by Edith Pattou.

This is one of those books where you tumble into the pages, and the story feels like it’s happening to you. Good luck climbing out again.

‘East of the sun and west of the moon.’ As unfathomable as the words were, I realized I must figure them out, reason it through. For I would go to this impossible land that lay east of the sun and west of the moon. From the moment the sleigh had vanished from sight and I could no longer hear the silver bells I knew that I would go after the stranger that had been the white bear to make right the terrible wrong I had done him…. All that mattered was to make things right. And I would do whatever it took, journey to wherever I must, to reach that goal.

The Frog Prince: Not much is more fun than taking a well-known tale and adding a bit of a twist. That’s what happens in The Frog Princess, by E.D. Baker. Instead of the princess’s kiss turning the frog back into a prince, it curses her into froginess, too. Disney borrowed the same idea and took it in a different direction, but the cuteness of Baker’s original is hard to beat.

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The Goose Girl: The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale is easily my favorite literary fairy tale adaptation. It follows the classic story, about a princess deposed by her treacherous handmaiden and forced to tend geese for a foreign king, pretty much to a t. But Hale adds so much color and depth that you feel like you’re reading something brand new. As a writer, I don’t always enjoy reading gorgeous prose. It’s intimidating. But The Goose Girl is a worthy exception.

She closed the book and put her cheek against it. There was still an odor of a library on it, of dust, leather, binding glue, and old paper, one book carrying the smell of hundreds.

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The Little Mermaid: Those familiar only with the Disney-fied version might not realize that this story is actually pretty depressing. All the more reason to appreciate Ponyo, Studio Ghibli’s loose adaptation. Besides putting a fresh spin on the time-told classic, this film has Hayao Miyazaki’s signature animation style, abounding with beauty and wonder. And a heroine who makes you wish you loved anything as much as she loves ham.

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Rumplestiltskin: I actually read this adaptation, A Curse As Dark As Gold, by Elizabeth C. Bunce, just a week or so ago. I’m not sure how memorable it will prove as time passes, but I loved the attention to detail. It might also be the first version of this tale I didn’t just flat out hate, which is saying something.

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Sleeping Beauty: OK. This one is pure nostalgia. The low-budget Cannon Movie Tales flick from 1987 is hardly the pinnacle of adaptations. But hey… the songs are still pretty catchy.

♫♪ Rosebud, Rosebud, always will be mine. Rosebud, Rosebud, ’til the end of tiiiime! ♪♫

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The Twelve Dancing Princesses: This final selection is also heavy with nostalgia. The difference is, Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre still holds up surprisingly well today. Sure, the special effects are cheesy and outdated. But good humor and sprightliness don’t go out of style.

Many of these hour-long episodes are television gold (Aladdin, for instance, features James Earl Jones as the genies, Leonard Nimoy as the villain, and was directed by Tim Burton). But The Dancing Princesses has always been my personal favorite. Peter Weller is tongue-in-cheek charming in the role of the hero, and the gags still make me laugh. Anyway, it beats the heck out of the Barbie version.

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Honorable Mentions: I want to give a shout out to these books, because their fairy-tale goodness more than warrants it. But since they take on multiple tales and tropes simultaneously, I had nowhere else to put them on my list.

First, Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine. Most people know this one, as it won a lot of fancy awards and was eventually adapted into a movie with Anne Hathaway. It’s one of those books I didn’t read so much as inhale.

“Do you like to slide?” His voice was eager.
Stair rails! Did he suspect me? I forced a sigh. “No, Majesty. I’m terrified of heights.”
“Oh.” His polite tone had returned.
“I wish I could enjoy it. This fear of heights is an affliction.”
He nodded, a show of sympathy but not much interest. I was losing him.
“Especially,” I added, “as I’ve grown taller.”

Fairy tales are at their best when they’re being just a little cheeky. Speaking of which…

My second honorable mention goes to The League Of Princes series by Christopher Healy, featuring a cast of Princes Charming from the well-known tales of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Rapunzel (along with their princess counterparts). I think the books are probably marketed at 10-year-old boys, but that didn’t stop me from snickering all the way through. Fairy tales need a little cheek, like I said, and this series has a lot more than a little. If that weren’t enough, Mr. Healy’s obvious infatuation with grammar and vocabulary certainly seal the deal.

“I wasn’t gonna defenestrate him,” the wing-haired man said. “I was gonna throw him out the window.”
“That’s what ‘defenestrate’ means,” said Frederic.
“Then why didn’t you just say ‘throw him our the window’?”
“Because I love words,” Frederic said with a smoldering intensity.

 

Okay, guys. I’ve had my say. I hope some of you will take a turn now. Does my list have any shocking omissions? What are your favorites?

Resolution For Saner Living #2: Quiet Down

Many people are fond of bemoaning the declining state of the world, of pointing out how it’s getting worse all the time. For my part, I’ve always held with Ecclesiastes 1v9-11:

History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.

In essence, the world has always been messed up. Violence and depravity are not 21st century inventions.

While the world may not be worse now than any other period in history, I do believe it has gotten… noisier.

We are dwelling in a loud world. The amount of noise and distraction each one of us faces on a normal day is nothing short of ridiculous. I did a little research to find out the number of advertisements the average American human is exposed to on a daily basis.

Would you like to know how many? I’d tell you if I hadn’t gotten distracted by the number of advertisements on the article page. Not to mention the invitations to share said article and follow said page on various social media outlets.

If I laughed, it was to keep from crying.

The only good thing about this cacophony is that it just gave me an excuse to use the word cacophony.

But guess what! The din is not merely external! I don’t know what it’s like for other personality types, but if you’re anything like me, the inner chambers of your mind often bear a remarkable resemblance to a kindergarten classroom on the last day of school. Throw in some angry howler monkeys running amok with air-horns, too, and the occasional siren blaring by in the background.

As someone once said: Quiet people have loud minds.

Maybe you struggle more with the external noise, or maybe the internal noise. Maybe it’s a dead heat. Whatever the case, we’re all in dire need of a little peace and quiet. That’s why I made it my #2 resolution to quiet down.

In many ways, quieting down goes hand-in-hand with last week’s resolution, opening up. It joins up rather intrinsically with #3 (Pray), as well. All these things, you may start to see, are links in the same chain. A chain that will hopefully bind us closer to our Heavenly Father.

(Note: Obviously, to know Christ is to be free, not chained. Please excuse that terrible metaphor until I think of a better one.)

A resolution of this kind is not the same as a habit. It won’t work to say, “Oh, I’m just gonna start doing this every day”, the same way you might squeeze in exercise or flossing. At least, if it does work that way for you, life is not fair and you are not my favorite.

In general, quieting down is a practice that must be cultivated. Adding or subtracting some smaller habit-type-things might help you to this end, but I’m not going to try to prescribe habitual antidotes for anyone. This isn’t a self-help blog.

What I do want to do is encourage my readers (and myself) to be more mindful. Don’t let the noise, whether inside or out, overwhelm you. Find time for quiet. Find time to be still.

Let me bring in a scripture or two, before I start to sound new-agey.

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. (James 4v8)

Have you tried drawing near to God in the midst of a hectic week? It doesn’t work so good. The noise keeps us from Him. It drowns out His word. This is why cultivating quiet times is so important.

Matthew Henry paraphrases Psalm 46v11 as follows:

“Let his own people be still; let them be calm and sedate, and tremble no more, but know, to their comfort, that the Lord is God, he is God alone…”

My prayer is that we would learn to be still in the midst of the chaos without and within, and that in the process we might be drawn nearer to God.

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As a special treat, here’s a wee playlist I threw together to go with today’s post. It’s short and occasionally random, so if anyone has their own song suggestions, please let me know!

 

Resolution #1 For Saner Living: Open Up

Last time I started to tell you about my five resolutions for saner living. No one who does not possess a photographic memory is likely to remember what they were, so here’s a quick refresher:

1. OPEN UP
2. QUIET DOWN
3. PRAY
4. RECOGNIZE
5. RESPOND

Today, I’m going to continue with a break down of the first point, opening up.
This is a tough challenge for me, personally. Anyone who knows me in real life will not be surprised. For those who do not, let me just stress that I am an uncommonly quiet and introverted person. Being open with others (and sometimes even myself) is not something that comes naturally to me.

Here’s something I’ve learned, though.

If something is really difficult for us, it is often an indication that we really, really need to do that thing. As a writer, I know the importance of giving the characters in my stories challenges to overcome. The way they face the adversities I throw at them is what makes the story. It is what gives the story meaning.

God is the master story-teller. What I do in my writing is just a shadow of what he does with me, his creation, in real life. As our creator, he is kind enough to give us difficulties and shortcomings, without which we would never be able to grow as characters.

So, if you and I have anything in common, the very un-naturalness of this resolution serves as a sure sign of its importance in our lives. It’s something we have to focus, something we have to do with intention. It will probably never be easy, and there’s a decent chance we’ll have to keep working on it for the rest of our lives. But I stress: the harder it is, the more obvious our (my) need of it.

Let’s take another peek at the verse that inspired this resolution:

“Open up before God, keep nothing back; He’ll do whatever needs to be done; He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon.” -Ps. 37v5-6

Let it sink in a minute, then we can start to try and work out what it means.

My interpretation is that we are meant to give of ourselves. I was not put here for me, but for my Creator, and for my neighbor. Opening up means making a conscious offering of our deepest self. Bare it all before Him (it’s not like He doesn’t know what’s there, anyway) and give it all up. I mean every last bit… the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Says my friend C.S. Lewis in his classic, Mere Christianity:

“Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead.”

Your life is a gift God has given you. Open it up, and give it right back. Reject that futile tendency to keep it all to yourself. Reject internal hoarding. Reject a small, miserly life and let God go to work in you. Be honest with Him, and with others, and with yourself. Embrace the life He calls you to.

“The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!” -2 Cor. 6v12-13 (MSG)

In retrospect, I realize how appropriate the order of these resolutions is. When I first wrote them down, I had no idea. But none of the others are going to work out if we don’t start learning to be open, honest, and free first.

Stay tuned. Next time I’ll move on to #2, quieting down, a principle someone like me should probably know all about (spoiler alert, though: I don’t).

5 Resolutions For When Life Gets Crazy

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I write about some things that a lot of people probably don’t agree with. Here are a few points though, that I doubt anyone will argue:

-The world is a crazy, messed up place.

-It isn’t getting better.

-It very often snags and drags us along with it, making our lives crazy and messed up, too.

Ideally, this is something we should all be fighting. I’ll be the first to admit that going into combat against what Clyde Kilby termed “the devilish onrush” of our world is anything but easy. But that doesn’t exempt us from giving it our utmost. Really, there isn’t much choice. Passivity is as good as quitting altogether. Pfffttthhhttt. Game over.

It is tempting to consider this in terms of warfare, to think that we are not doing anything if it just so happens we didn’t take down a terrorist on the bus ride home. But that’s silly, isn’t it? The world-craziness I’m talking about could be little more than a hectic work schedule, or an unhealthy dependence on social media.

I’m a believer that the way to change our world for the good does not lie in some new legislation, or sweeping revolution. The way to change our world for the better is to change hearts, one at a time. And since it isn’t in any individual’s power to truly change another person’s heart, the only logical thing to do is go to work on our own.

Yep. Maybe the secret of life is just looking in the mirror. Who woulda thunk it?

If you’re like me (meaning flawed and human… which, guess what, you totally are), this will not come easy. The world is loud. And big. And there’s so much going on. It is easy to get distracted. It is easy to walk from one room to another and forget what you came for.

So, the question is, how do we focus ourselves on the task at hand?

Remember a couple of paragraphs ago, when I mentioned Clyde Kilby? Cool guy. He made a list for himself (yes, a list!!! Enthralling I know). A list of resolutions (yes, resolutions. Not so enthralling, I know). The very word “resolution” used to make me shrink and cower like a vampire in direct sunlight. It was especially bad when prefaced by the words “New Year’s”. I never made a New Year’s resolution. They’re just a way of setting yourself up for failure, right? They’re just a recipe for shame and remorse.

Perhaps the problem is looking at a resolution the same as you would a rule or a law. Break it, and hoooo boy! You’re in trouble. No grace for you!

Clyde Kilby’s list helped me to stop looking at resolutions like that. It encouraged me to think of resolutions less as rules than as goals. It is something to work for and strive towards, while at the same time acknowledging that there will be bumps along the way. Don’t expect perfection from yourself, but look to God, and keep pressing forward.

I encourage everyone to take a gander at Mr. Kilby’s list (you can do so by following this link), but I’m actually here to share one of my own. That dad-blamed onrush was getting to me earlier in the year, you guys. I found solace and fortification in these passages of scripture:

“Open up before God, keep nothing back; He’ll do whatever needs to be done; He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon. Quiet down before God and be prayerful before Him…” (Psalm 37v5-7 … note, this is from the Message translation, which does the Psalms no favors whatsoever. But it’s the one I was reading at the time, so oh well).

“Readily recognize what [God] wants from you, and quickly respond to it.” (Romans 12v2)

I was able to boil these verses down to a couple of points, and ended up turning them into resolutions. There are 5, which I like, because it makes one for each finger (speaking of which, remind me to tell you about Charles Williams’ 5 resolution-like-things sometime, because they’re worth living by, too).

Here’s what it comes down to:

1. Open up
2. Quiet down
3. Pray
4. Recognize
5. Respond

These are principles I have been endeavoring to establish as habits. I have a lot more to say about each one of them. But guess what? This post is already a respectable length, and I still need material for the future. That means I get to leave you with three cruel, golden words, AND an ellipsis. I apologize for how much I am about to enjoy this.

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A Not-So-Triumphant (And Kinda Anticlimactic) Return

Hello, world.

It’s been a while (NOTE: it hasn’t, actually. But I wrote this post before the one I put up the other day). So long, in fact, that I might suggest the internet has entirely forgotten my existence (but not really, because the internet is super creepy and remembers everything about all of us). I might suggest that my readers have forgotten my existence as well. If I did not assume that 99% of my readers share my DNA. Which I do.

But I digress.

My point is this: blogging hasn’t happened in a while. There are reasons. Good ones, even. Like that I’ve devoted the bulk of my creative energies to crafting novels instead. Like that I have a real-life full-time job to perform. Like that, well… blogging is hard.

That third one is the real kicker, you guys. I used to chronicle a very narrow scope of subjects. Namely, food and baseball. And I never lacked for ideas. Seriously. Never. You’d think that starting this blog here a few years back and removing all restrictions as far as subject material goes would have made things even easier. Wouldn’t you? Well, if you wouldn’t, you’re far more discerning than I. Congrats.

Yep. As it turns out, the primary reason for my blogging dryness is that I’ve failed to come up with a thing worth writing about. Some writer I’ve turned out to be.

The problem isn’t a sense of not-enoughness so much as too-muchness. Infinite possibilities sound great in theory, but they’re quick to cripple the chronically indecisive.

And by “the chronically indecisive”, I mean me.

In short, there are just too many possibilities.

And I’m here now, but I hope you don’t think that means I’ve found my way out of this dubious labyrinth. In point of fact, this whole post so far has been a substanceless attempt to talk/write my way out of it.

Given these issues, you may be wondering why I think I need to start trying to blog again in the first place. It is a reasonable question. Fortunately, I have an actual answer. More than one, in fact!

First, because writing is what writers do. And scope-broadening is healthy.

Second, as someone who hopes to one day publish her works of fiction, I am aware of the need to establish more of a presence online (look out Twitter and Instagram… you may be next).

And third. To borrow the words of Henry Van Dyke, “Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very quiet if only those birds sing there that sang best.” My talents are meager, but I yet believe I’m meant to exercise them. And that’s the only way they’re going to improve anyway, isn’t it?

With these things in mind, I’ve managed to eke out a few possibilities in the subject-matter department. They are as follows…

Faith. This is a top prospect (I mean, all I have to do is plagiarize my own journals). But it’s also a bit ridiculous. My faith is a mustard-seed level thing. It feels arrogant to consider inflicting it on the general public. Although, yes… I’m considering it anyway. It’s such a fine line between humility and arrogance.

Writery stuff. I am not quite sure how this would work. I could lecture people on adjectives, I guess. I know a little about adjectives. And made-up words (like “writery”). But that’s about it.

Books. As in, book reviews. This would be a fantastic idea if it weren’t so terrible. I’m awful at reviews. What I could do, though, is recommend books for your children. Particularly, like, 10-12 year old home schooled boys.

Assorted snobby cultural observations. By which I basically mean talking about how what the world needs now is love, sweet love, as if I were the first person ever to come by the idea. (If you saw my previous post, then you’ll know I already got a head start on this one.)

Lists. For absolutely anything. If I could use a list for every post, I don’t think I’d have to be overwhelmed by the possibilities at all.

Domesticity. The main reason I’m including this as an option is because I love the word domesticity. Throwing in soup recipes and extolling the virtues of coconut oil with any of these other things would be random, at best. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t still do it, if the demand was there.

As ever, I welcome all input and further suggestions.

This isn’t my first introductory kind of blog post. Every time I write one, it feels like I’m this character in sun-glasses and a trench-coat, pulling my shady van alongside each of you, opening the door, and saying, “Get in.” So I guess the main thing I want to say is, thank you for not running and screaming.

You’re all my favorites. As a token of my gratitude, please enjoy this photo of a baby sloth in a tea cup.

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My heart is full of unwashed socks, my soul is full of gunk

A no-brainer preface to all of this: White supremacists/Nazis/Klansmen/etc., are the wickedest of wicked people. Their actions and beliefs are evil and despicable in the sight of God. No ifs. No ands. No buts. I refuse to dignify their beliefs by devoting any further thoughts or words to them.

Issue 1: Pride, arrogance, and statues.

It has taken me weeks to process my own thoughts on recent current events. Mostly those that transpired in Charlottesville, which gave new meaning to the phrase “hitting close to home” for myself and many fellow Virginians. Today, I think I finally figured out what I think.

Everyone seems to be going to war on hate. Many are doing it in a kind of hateful way, as far as I can tell, but that’s beside the point. My aim is not to draw more attention to the haters (either the hate-hating haters, or the truly disturbing, hood-wearing/swastika-brandishing haters). My aim is to turn down all that dreadful noise, and try to speak sense, to speak it lovingly, to speak it to the real live breathing sensible people of the world (despite what you see on the news, I am convinced that we are not actually a minority).

I am not speaking to one side, but two. Or as many as there are. But the two I have in mind are these:

#1: Those crying, “Tear down the monuments! The monuments are offensive!”

#2: Those shouting back, “Leave the monuments alone! They’re a part of history!”

Sighs.

Dear, friends. Our biggest problem is not hate at all. I believe it is pride. There are normal, everyday citizens on both sides of this debate. A few of you may cry foul even at this simple statement, but I am telling you, unequivocally, that I know individuals on both ends, and none of them are evil. If you don’t believe me, then mosey along now, because you’re definitely not going to like the rest of what I have to say, either.

Here is the thing (one of the things, at least).

It’s just a statue.

Wait. Hang on. Hear me out. What I hear from these two opposite extremes is essentially the same thing. Which is this:

My opinions and beliefs about this issue are more important than loving, respecting, and living peacefully alongside those who disagree with me.

Love, love, love, we’re all saying. All we need is love. People all over the world, join hands. Sweet love… it’s what the world needs now! Boo, hate, boo!

It sounds nice. It really does. But I haven’t seen many folks willing to sacrifice their opinion for the sake of harmony, much less for the sake of love. We hold our opinions too dear. We don’t want to loosen our hold. They’re too important to us.

I had a glimpse of my own conceit today. It was upsetting. See, I’m as guilty as anyone of clinging to the supposed righteousness of my own opinions. I’ve been looking at others, and thinking, “Pssh. Crazy. If everyone would just think exactly what I do, we wouldn’t have any of these problems.”

Proud. Arrogant. Me. Ugh.

I don’t want to be that way. I want to love people truly. And you can’t love people by looking down on them, or by focusing on what divides you.

Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.

Love (and I mean that REAL, 1 Corinthians level of love, not the 70’s easy-listening radio breed) is more important than a hunk of chiseled sediment. It is even more important than whatever that hunk might represent. Whether you think it’s a harmless memorial, or a symbol of oppression. The person standing opposite you— a human soul created in the image of God— is of infinite more value than being “right”.

You may be tempted to think, “Okay, whatever, but I AM right, and they ARE wrong.”

Well, that might be so, my friend. Then again, it might not. I don’t care, and it doesn’t matter. We still need to hush our voices, to quiet our souls, to demonstrate love to the supposedly-wrong people. We can’t do that if we insist on harping and clinging and whining.

If I have a plea, it is that we would no longer willingly allow our opinions (whatever they are) to poison the way we think of those who believe differently.

This could go a whole lot farther than our various feelings on statues. But having already poked at one hornet’s nest more than I am comfortable with, I will leave it here.

*Disclaimer: Everything I am saying, I am saying as a follower of Jesus Christ and a believer in love as defined by God the father. If you do not share my faith, you have no reason not to ignore me and I am not offended. If you’re an atheist, of course, the events in Charlottesville and beyond should not disturb you in the first place. For, “If chance be the father of all flesh, disaster is his rainbow in the sky and when you hear: State of Emergency! Sniper Kills Ten! Troops on Rampage! Youths go Looting! Bomb Blasts School! It is but the sound of man worshiping his maker.”*

 

Issue 2: Talk in place of action

Everyone has an opinion, and that’s cool. Everyone also likes to broadcast their opinion to the rest of the world, which has become annoyingly easy, thanks to the advent of social media. I can’t condemn this, since I’m doing it, too. But it is still less than cool.

Over the past few weeks, I have read so much anger and complaint wrapped up in these opinions. You’ve all read it, too, so I don’t need to go into detail. I am referring to the racial and historical stuff. It seems to me, in the end, it all goes back to the abominable practice of slavery. I understand why people get angry. What I wish is that we could channel all that anger, all that boundless, powerful energy in another direction.

Because, here’s the thing (another thing… see, I knew there was more than one).

Slavery still exists. In this country. In your own backyard. It is no longer an issue defined by skin color, and people call it “human trafficking” now, but it is no less real and no less abominable.

What I wish people would do is use their anger as fuel. Instead of focusing on the awful things of the past, things we can’t change, focus on present injustices. There are more than enough such injustices to keep us all busy for a good many years to come, let me tell you.

So why aren’t we finding out what we can do to help? Why aren’t we shutting off our phones, closing our computers, and doing it? It might not be fun. I’ll admit that. Still. We should do it anyway.

If all anyone in history had ever done was sit around and grumble about how bad the world was getting, history would be a darn sight bleaker than it already is.

I’ll shut up now. Someone take my soapbox away. Please and thank you.

 

*From The Modern Thinker’s Creed, by Steve Turner