Readers’ Corner

Comic Book Heroes

I admit it.  When I was growing up, I was a comic book junkie.  Comic books were the video games of my generation.  They could keep us occupied for hours (especially the boys) and, for better or worse, they helped shape our characters and perceptions of our world.

I do have a point, so stick with me to the end; but first let me walk down memory lane and share some of my favorite comics and characters and some lessons I learned from them.

Harvey comics:  some of my earliest favorites were Hot Stuff, Spooky, and Baby Huey.  Nobody ever told me that I was opening myself to demonic possession by reading about these cute supernatural “Sad Sacks” or their grumpy attitudes.  I maintain that my love for puns was derived from Hot Stuff, who would regularly visit places like “Clockville” where each inhabitant was some play on words involving time or timepieces.

Dell comics:  Who could help but admire Tarzan or the Phantom?  If I’m not mistaken, the Disney comics were also published by Dell.  In any case, I loved Donald Duck, his Uncle Scrooge, and especially Gyro Gearloose, the inventor.  More grumpy attitudes, but also spirits of adventure, individuality, and learning from our mistakes.

Gilbert comics:  The Classics Illustrated series.  My introduction to the great stories of the world–a stepping stone to my becoming an English teacher.  Twice I tried to collect the entire series; today I have the complete set reproduced on DVD.  I still go back and read them.

Archie comics:  though I would read them all, I was bored by the romantic competitions and themes.  I much preferred the “Little Archies” (does anyone remember them?) which presented the characters at a younger age before hormones or dating ever became an issue.

Marvel comics:  I never got into the universe of Marvel superheroes.  Their realism and more human portrayal left me a bit confused and bored.  However, this publisher put out a series of cowboy comics, such as “Kid Colt”–today they would be politically incorrect, but back then, these western comics presented characters who joined Roy Rogers, Matt Dillon, and the Rifleman among the pantheon of my truly American heroes.

DC comics:  And here I get to my point.  While I read Superman, Batman, the Flash, and Elongated Man, they were merely harmless entertainment.  I never was tempted to put on a cape.  I enjoyed Robin’s naivete and Superman’s playful streak–and I really like “Bizarro Superman” who did everything backwards, and ultimately failed at each endeavor.  But my very favorites, especially as I entered my teen years, were the war stories.

It was during the Viet Nam War, and other Americans may have become jaded or ambivalent about what our “boys” were doing on the battlefield; but Sgt Rock and I knew the importance of fighting for freedom and justice, and against an evil enemy.  The Unknown Soldier reminded me of the impact that one man can make if he’s not looking for glory.  The Haunted Tank united north and south as they fought in a Stuart tank, and the various regiments and battalions were fully integrated racially and ethnically.  The USA was the good guy, and the Germans, Italians, and Japanese were the bad guys as they fought WWII again in each new issue.  When I read these military comics, I was proud to be an American.

As far as I can tell, virtually all the war comics stopped publication in the 1980’s.  I’m sure that today they would be too violent (killing bad guys, and the occasional sacrifice of a heroic figure) and too “hackneyed” and patriotic.  Just as Superman no longer fights to defend “…truth, justice, and the American way…”  Sgt Rock would be out of place except in a VFW or NRA meeting.  And in my opinion, it’s too bad.  Our young people could use some brave and strong American heroes today–even if they had their origin in comic books.

If we could get the guys to put down the video games long enough to read them.

Sgt_Rock_367

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The Diary of a Little Too Frank

The Diary of Anne Frank has been a popular book for many years, especially for young teen girls.  Ms. Frank’s descriptions of her experiences with the horrors of war are an important historical account that resonates with young people.  Schools have been allowing or assigning its use in the classroom for years.

Occasionally there have been complaints about a “coming of age” passage in the book, but generally it has been considered worthwhile reading.  Until now.

Apparently, an unedited “definitive” edition has been published and specified as required reading for at least one Michigan school district.  Among the extra material included in this newer edition is a graphic description of Anne’s “…discovery of her genitals,” her emerging sexual desires, and her portrayal of her mother and other people living together.  According to a news article, one mom has called it “pornographic” after her uncomfortable seventh grader showed her the passages.  The mom is seeking to have the unedited version banned from the school.

In a telling comment on our society, almost none of the other students noticed or cared about the content.

My real problem is not with the merits of the case; but I don’t like how it has been reported.  The “news” article ended with a blatantly editorial opinion:

Meanwhile, parents in Virginia’s Fairfax County lobby to remove Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Beloved” from high school curricula*. Add Horalek’s aversion to Anne Frank’s diary on top of that and it’s almost like parents don’t want their children confronting the more uncomfortable parts of history.

That’s right:  take a stand for morality, and you will be accused of being an ignorant bigot unwilling to face the reality of history.

Let me close with this analogy to draw the distinction that the reporter seems unwilling to recognize:  I have no objection to students learning about Henry VIII beheading some of his wives; but I don’t want them reading detailed accounts of his honeymoons.  Both are aspects of historical reality, but only one meets a standard of decency that needs to be revived in our schools and in our culture.


 

*Here is what one blogger wrote with regard to Beloved.  Notice the same disdain for morality displayed in the news article.  Warning! Even the summary here is more offensive than young people need to be exposed to.

Beloved contains incest, rape, pedophilia, graphic sex, extreme violence, sexual abuse, physical/emotional abuse, infanticide, and an extensive amount of profanity. The first two chapters contain five references to sex with cows in addition to other types of sex.
They cite violence and sex, but I suspect the real reason behind continuing challenges to Beloved is that it confronts us with our sins.

By the way, the same blogger whose writing was presented as news in the main article above, previously wrote about the controversy over Beloved.  The headline says it all:

Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved’ is simplistic pornography, say two Michigan parents who don’t appear to be very smart  BY Alexander Nazaryan

Nuff said.

 

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I Thought I Wrote a Poem

There is a local Christian writers’ group that meets monthly to critique work submitted by the various attendees.  As you might imagine, handing over your creative baby to the sharp eyes and red pens of other writers is an act that requires thick skin and a sense of humor.  To warm up that sense of humor, I offer this little verse, dedicated to my fellow critics and English teachers.

I thought I wrote a poem, once,

With lovely rhyme and meter.

I took it to a writers’ group

Who slapped it like a mosquiter.

 

One thought I should have added lines,

One thought it needed fewer;

One found it all self-evident,

One called it too obscure.

 

One said it has the rhythm wrong

And should rhyme where it doesn’t.

One thought it was a masterpiece,

But most agreed it wasn’t.

 

And so I end my tragic tale;

I’ll dwell on it no longer.

I thought I wrote a poem, once—

I couldn’t have been wronger.

 

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Interesting quote

clarence darrow pleaded for the life of leopold and loeb.  he said:

why did they kill little bobby franks?
not for money.
not for hate.
they killed him
because somewhere
in the infinite processes
which go into the the making of the boy or the man
something slipped.

something has slipped

not only in chicago.

something has slipped in towns everywhere across america,

in maine and in kansas,

in oregon and indiana and vermont,

something has slipped and as a result

we are all

sliding

back toward the dark ages.

–Karen Hesse, Witness, 2001.

 

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More Doggerel, Etc.

A while back I put out a post of silly poems that were fun and memorable,  that I had used to introduce my students to poetry.  Today I want to expand on that earlier post.

Let me begin with a great “Little Willie” rhyme:  (think back to your High School Chemistry class, or look it up!)

Alas, poor Little Willie–

Little Willie is no more:

What Willie thought was H2O

Was H2SO4.

More to the point:  I included without attribution the “Purple Cow” poem so popular a few years back.  I have since come across the author and some more information, so let me share.  In 1895, Gelett Burgess wrote

I never saw a Purple Cow,

I never hope to see one;

But I can tell you anyhow,

I’d rather see than be one.

In its first five years, it became so popular and was reprinted and presented so often that the author followed it up with the following:

Ah, yes, I wrote “The Purple Cow”–

I’m sorry now I wrote it!

But I can tell you anyhow,

I’ll kill you if you quote it.

Today, we may remember a poem or two that Mr. Burgess wrote, but other than that he is unknown to us–which is a real shame, considering some of his accomplishments.  In 1914, he published a dictionary of “words you have always needed”, a few of which like bromide and blurb are in use today.  Some of his other words that perhaps we should consider using are below.  Comments in brackets are mine.

Cowcat– a person whose main function seems to be to occupy space.  [I wonder how many members of Congress this could be applied to.]

Digmix–a disagreeable or unwelcome duty, such as dish washing, fish cleaning, getting a divorce, or taking a child to the dentist.  [I have a whole new set of digmixes since I got out of the hospital.]

Drilligate–to keep talking to a person who needs to leave or wants to get away.  [Yup; I was drilligated just yesterday.]

Gefoojet–an unnecessary thing, which one ought to throw away but doesn’t.  [I have a few of them.]

Goig– a person we distrust instinctively.  [I’ve known of few of them.]

Hygog–an unsatisfied desire, such as a sneeze that won’t come.  [I’ve decided to use this when I try but can’t remember something;  I would rather have a hygog than a brainf**t, which seems to be the most common alternative.]

Impkin–a superhuman pet; a human offspring masquerading as an animal.  Burgess wrote, “Impkins are canine and feline, but their parents are usually asinine.”  [My family members are not allowed to comment on this one.]

Wog–bits of food on the face or in the teeth.  [This is a very useful word; instead of saying, “Uh, you’ve got something…uh…” and then pointing, we could just say, “You’ve got a wog on your chin.”  See how much more graceful that sounds?]

Thanks to Paul Dickson and his book Words for this entertaining information.

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Eeyore

As I was doing some reading this morning, I discovered a cross-curricular phenomenon:  the Winnie-the-Pooh-as-psychology industry.

Just go to your favorite search engine and type in some combination of the words depression, Milne, Eeyore, ADHD, Pooh–and you will soon find dozens of sites that take all the fun out of A. A. Milne’s classic children’s stories.  The internet experts go so far as to diagnose not only Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger, but even Christopher Robin, Rabbit and Owl.  It seems there is no one “normal” in the 100 Acre Wood.

Obviously, with my experiences, I focused my research on Eeyore:

The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, “Why?” and sometimes he thought, “Wherefore?” and sometimes he thought, “Inasmuch as which?” and sometimes he didn’t quite know what he was thinking about.
A. A. Milne From book Winnie the Pooh

“Good morning, Eeyore,” said Pooh.
“Good morning, Pooh Bear,” said Eeyore gloomily. “If it is a good morning, which I doubt,” said he.
“Why, what’s the matter?”
“Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.”
“Can’t all what?” said Pooh, rubbing his nose.
“Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush.”
A. A. Milne From book Winnie the Pooh

One can’t complain. I have my friends. Someone spoke to me only yesterday.
Eeyore
From Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne

 So what is the consensus of the experts?  Our favorite disfigured donkey is either

  • Realistic
  • Fatalistic
  • Stoic
  • Exhibiting a Melancholy Personality
  • Mildly depressed
  • Suffering from Dysthemia
  • A victim of Limbic System ADHD

(Some of the above diagnoses overlap; others contradict. )

Here’s my conclusion:  Eeyore is an interesting fictional character, consistent in portrayal, and with his complete “case file” written and on hand.  If the “experts” cannot agree on a diagnosis for him, what hope do any of us real, inconsistent, and incomplete humans have?

Seeking treatment, taking medication, following prescribed therapy, and all the rest are steps of faith, which may be in short supply for the mentally ill.  Pray for those around you who suffer, that they will get proper early diagnosis and treatment, so that they can focus their limited faith in the Almighty, and not have to waste it on doctors.

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Doggerel

I learned long ago that I was not likely to attract most students to poetry by using sonnets, Tennyson, or Longfellow; I had much greater success at the introductory level with doggerel.  Though not considered literature, these little poems are cute and memorable, and have inspired many a student to try their hand at the gentle art of poetry.  Here are a few of my favorites.  Love them or hate them–I didn’t write them.  (I should research and try to give credit to the authors, if known.  I’ll put it on my bucket list.)

Roses are red,

Violets are purple,

Sugar is sweet,

And so’s maple syrple.

 

I never saw a purple cow–

I never hope to see one;

But I can tell you anyhow

I’d rather see than be one.

 

A tutor who tooted the flute

Tried to tutor two tooters to toot.

Said the two to the tutor,

“Is it harder to toot, or

To tutor two tooters to toot?”  –Carolyn Wells

 

Willie saw some dynamite,

Couldn’t understand it quite;

Curiosity never pays–

It rained Willie seven days.

 

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

I’m schizophrenic

And so am I.

 

I’d rather have fingers than toes;

I’d rather have ears than a nose;

And as for my hair,

I’m glad it’s all there.

I’ll be awfully sad when it goes.  –Gelett Burgess

 

Roses are red,

Violets are blue;

Some poems rhyme,

But this one doesn’t.

 

And, for good measure, these two anonymous limericks that you almost have to say out loud in order to appreciate:

A girl who weighs many an oz.

Used language I will not pronoz;

Her brother one day

Pulled her chair right away–

He wanted to see if she’d boz.

 

She frowned and called him “Mr.!”

Because in sport he kr.

And so in spite

That very night

This Mr. kr. sr.

 

 

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My Book

Thank you for your prayers yesterday. I finished Stories From the Psych Ward and uploaded it just before Midnight. It is now for sale in all ebook formats at Smashwords for a whopping $0.99! After review, it will be sent to the major distributors. It contains 16 stories–11 never published on the blog. As an English teacher, I am particularly proud of “Lee’s Story”; as a Christian, I am proud of “Preacher’s Story,” which includes the Gospel. See https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/215699 for purchase details.

Why am I charging for it?  I am unemployed, and every little bit helps; and the workman is worthy of his hire. 

So why am I charging so little?  Until I am an established and recognized author, I need to do everything I can to get my writing into people’s hands.  As I write and publish more, I will raise the prices based on value and what the market will bear.  (I originally priced this at $1.99, but felt bad when it  turned out to be only 40-50 pages, so I dropped the price this morning.  If you are the one person who bought it at $1.99, let me know and I will give you credit toward the next book.)

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Wrong on (Almost) Every Level

I’ll let you read the article for yourself.  I wonder who turned this story in to the media, and why the reporter thought it was newsworthy.  Did the journalist think the student, the school, and the author were right or wrong?  Here’s my grading scale:

  • The school assigning the book:  WRONG
  • The student wanting the advantage without reading the book:  WRONG
  • The student making outrageous excuses to get out of work:  WRONG
  • The author motivating the student with sex, drugs, and profanity:  WRONG
  • The author telling the student to do her  own work:  RIGHT
  • Overall grade: 20% (F)

I wonder what the story would have been if a committed Christian had gone on line protesting the book assignment as a violation of God’s standards and her personal spiritual convictions.  Would she have been portrayed as a bigot rather than as a lazy teen; or would the story even have been acknowledged?

Hold on, Christians–I’m afraid the ride is just going to get bumpier before we get to the streets of gold!

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“They”

Sometimes you just come across a quote too pertinent and too well-written to pass by.  This is from the western novel The Hair-Trigger Kid by Max Brand.

There is the story-teller who never speaks in his own person, too.  All his stories begin, end, and are supported in the middle by “they say.”  “They” of “they say” is a strange creature.  It has the flight of a falcon and the silent wings of a bat; it speaks the language of the birds and bees; it can follow the snake down the deepest hole, and then glide like a magic ray through a thousand feet of solid rock; it can penetrate invisibly into houses through the thickest walls, in order to see strange crimes; it can step through the walls of the most secretive mind in order to read strange thoughts.  “They” has the speed of lightning, and leaps here and there to pick up grains of information, like a chicken picking up worms in a newly turned garden; “they” throws a girdle around the world in a fortieth of Puck’s boasted time.  Those who quote “they,” who quote and follow and mystically adore and believe in “they,” sometimes do so with awe-stricken whispers, but there are some who sneer at their authority, and shrug their shoulders at the very stories they relate.  Such people, when questioned, yawn and shake their heads.

“I dunno. That’s what ‘they’ say.”

You can make your choice.  Believe it or not.  Most people choose to believe, and therefore the rare information of “they,” thrice, yes, and thirty times watered and removed, is repeated over and over until it becomes a mist as tall as the moon and as thin as star dust.

So much for anonymous sources. And they say westerns aren’t worth reading.

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Therapy Pays Off

In addition to medication, supplements, and counseling, I have been writing these little posts and short stories as an outlet for my creativity.  My recovery has been slow, and I still have bad times and difficulties finding pleasure in God’s blessings.  People ask me if I am excited about my upcoming trip to visit my children and grandchildren; I am honest enough to say that I am glad I am going, but it has been many months since I have been truly excited about anything.

But last night I almost smiled.  I had a sense of accomplishment.  God led me to the mountaintop, and I got a glimpse of happiness.  My first attempt to self-publish one of the stories as an ebook was successful, and a dozen people had downloaded it before I even knew it was available.  It will be a few days before its final review is completed and it is added to the catalogs at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but it has been officially published, and the goal of eventually publishing the collection of Stories from the Psych Ward has taken a giant leap from “Maybe” past “Someday” all the way to “I can get this done!”

Let me ask a few prayer requests:

  • Please pray that the story will make others aware of the reality (and pain) of mental illness;
  • Please pray that this free story will stir enough interest so that people will want to buy the collection;
  • Please pray as I write “The Preacher’s Story,” which will include a Gospel presentation;
  • Please pray as I edit and type the 5 stories that have piled up while I was formatting “Eva’s Story”;
  • Please pray for stability.  It is common for a depressive episode to follow a victory or success (just ask Elijah about that.)

In the meantime, you can download the published story here or by clicking on the image above and save it directly to your Nook or Kindle; or download the PDF version and read it on your PC.  (Sorry–the RTF version still has some kinks.)

Thank you for your support and your prayers.

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E-books and the Future of Literature

Last week it was announced that, for the first time ever, more fiction novels were sold in e-book form than in hardcover.  That’s a scary thing for purists who like the feel of paper in their hands, and worry about all that will be lost if technology either degenerates in some electronic holocaust or progresses to the point that it leaves today’s e-books obsolete. 

I sympathize with the traditionalists.  I love my Nook, but it lacks the advantages of my physical library.  I can’t pull a book off the shelf and lend it to my wife or son or a student, and share with them the magic of an author’s inspired words.  Yes, there is a “Lend” feature, but my wife’s Kindle isn’t on speaking terms with my Nook.

But there is one advantage to e-books that I appreciate and hope to use to my own advantage:  the rebirth of the short story.

Print media in our age had all but abandoned the short story.  True, there were annual “Best of…” anthologies, but who read them?  The traditional outlets–newspapers and magazines–had either gone out of business or had severely limited the stories they published (and of course they preferred established writers whose names on a cover could stir up a handful of additional sales.  Textbooks tried to choose and include modern short stories, but they preferred the avant-garde, the politically correct, and (again) the known authors rather than allow popularity, reprint history, and longevity to determine what was literature worthy to be read.  But e-readers have changed that.

I have read more short stories in the past year and a half than I had in the preceding 20 years.  I’m cheap, so I troll the “Nook Book Deals” for free or low-cost titles that interest me, and I have discovered a world of hopeful writers, and a handful of really good ones.  I have encountered everything from “Flash Fiction” to character sketches to novellas and novelettes that I never would have seen had my wife never given me my Nook.  (Caveat:  there is a LOT of trash out there, so be discerning in what you download!)  And it gives me hope as an aspiring writer.

Regular visitors to this site know that nearly every Friday I post a short story or character sketch inspired by people I met in the hospital.  My goal, if I am up to it, is to write 20 or 25 of these little vignettes, and then arrange and publish them in electronic form.  I won’t have to find a publisher or spend a lot of money on printing and binding; the advent of e-books has made self-publishing feasible and affordable even for someone with such a skimpy writing resume as mine.  And while they will never substitute for my primary income, I can give a few away stories to build interest, and then charge a reasonable fee for the collection to reward my effort.

If you should wonder why I am weekly giving away a story that I may hope one day to sell, fear not; for every story that I post here, there is another in the file waiting to go into the book.  As I am growing healthier, I have progressed from one story per week, to two, to three–and one day, maybe, I can write every day.  It takes me about two hours to write a story in longhand on a yellow legal pad, and then another three or four to edit, revise, rewrite, type, and proofread it.  I never type or revise a story the same day I write it–I let it age for a couple of days (or more) so that I can approach it with a fresh eye.  I have discovered an interesting phenomenon:  for whatever reason, after two or three days I often do not remember writing the words on the paper in front of me, so I can approach them more critically and objectively.  And, yes, I frequently do research to supplement my knowledge of a specific condition or treatment; and I sometimes pass my work along to medical professionals for their input regarding the accuracy of the writing and the ethical considerations of writing about medical patients.

Let me encourage Chris, and Lora, and Kim, and Marina, and Gaileen, and Amy, and Steve, and Ken, and all the other former students and associates who were aspiring writers–the time is now.  There is no excuse.  You are the future of literature, and the e-book is your medium. 

Update:  The first story–a new one–is now available for free at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/208433.  Pending review, it will go to distributors like Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  In the meantime, even if you don’t have an e-reader, you can download it as a PDF file and read it on your PC.  In the first 12 hours, without any publicity, it was downloaded 34 times; won’t you make it 35?

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All Men Are Pigs

Last night, Darlene and I had something of a movie date on the back porch:  we watched a DVD of Finian’s Rainbow.  Today’s blog is not intended as a film review, so I will not report the rude, disparaging remarks we enjoyed making as we watched this lame excuse for a musical.  However, one of the songs clearly illustrated something that I have often said:

All men are pigs.

I could talk about the total depravity of mankind, and the decline of modern culture, and the technological temptations facing males today, but I won’t.  The fact is, since ancient times men have chased anything with two X chromosomes.  As Tommy Steele sang, “When I’m not near the girl I loves, I loves the girl I’m near,” and “If they has bosoms, I woos ems.”  Bad grammar aside, it’s a good rotten social commentary.

I used to have a student who disagreed with my assessment, and protested that her dad was NOT a pig; I told her to go home and ask her father.  She came back and reported that he agreed with me, but she could not accept it:  she would rather see her father as a liar than a pig.  I truly admired her naivete.

So is there any hope for humanity?  Of course:

  • Men may BE pigs, but they don’t have to act like them.  I understand that some even make good house pets; and
  • Women looking for a husband need to accept the fact that all men are pigs, and just try to pick the cleanest one they can find.

Oink.

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Gray Squirrel

I like to see

Your flicking tail,

And hear your chatter

When I fail

To chase you from

My property.

Fearless, carefree,

Mockingly,

You scurry up or down a tree,

Or in the feeder, or

On the ground

Eating seeds the birds

Have missed—

And I don’t mind–

Not seriously–

To look and see

You doing this.

I only wish

You wouldn’t be

In my garden quite

So frequently.

My spinach is gone, and

Lettuce, mostly;

Some of these days

I admit I’d rather

Look outside

Where you used to gather

And see you ghostly.

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Proofread, Edit, and Rewrite

This week I finished reading the most recent in the Thursday Next series of books by Jasper Fforde.  These books involve a complex fantasy where the characters of Bookworld are the written inhabitants of books, who perform for the reader when called upon, but who then have time for cross-genre and intra-literary adventures when not being actively read.  The series is humorous and a delight for people who love literature and popular writing.

Then, as I was walking this morning, I heard a song* on my MP3 player that said…”the blood of the Lamb rewrote who I am…” and it sent my mind on a ride down the Stream of Consciousness, through the Creek of Contemplation, and into the Eddy of Edification.  Here a just of few of my random thoughts:

  • In a real sense, we are characters written by the Great Author of the universe;
  • As such, we fit into His perfect outline;
  • The Author reserves the right to proofread and edit the plot of our lives
  • And even to rewrite us to better serve His purpose;
  • He expects us to be actively involved in our own character development;
  • We all have character flaws, but good subjects will overcome them;
  • As characters, we must interact with each other to make up the Novel of the Ages,
  • And it is a full-length Novel, not a short story;
  • We must be content even to be a minor player in a subplot
  • Because we are not all written to be the Hero (or, Heaven forbid, the villain);
  • There will come a final conflict resolution and God will write the Afterward!

I also pondered to what extent we are created and have our outcomes determined, as opposed to having some personal influence on the direction we take–the old Sovereign Grace versus Free Will argument.  I do not claim to understand how it all fits together, but I thought about a situation that has occurred sometimes when I have when I have written well, and had an epiphany:

On occasion when I have created particularly interesting and realistic characters, those characters may seem to take on lives of their own, and suggest to me how they would present themselves or what they would say and do–all within the context of the outline and plot development I already have in mind.  Author determination and character involvement working together… Predestination and Free Will serving a single purpose?  I think I could wrap my mind around that analogy.

Is that an insight, or am I all wet from my trip down Babbling Brook?  You, dear reader, can be the judge.

*”I Know That I Know” by Joel Lindsey and Wayne Haun, performed by the Mark Trammell Trio on their Always Have a Song CD

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