Friday, January 29, 2010

ooh, self-baptisms....interesting.

Okay, so there I was fighting against fear and trying to do my best to "take heed what I hear" -- from experts in real life and pundits on TV. Yeah was freaking out and had gotten a really bad attack of agoraphobia and hypochondria. I was having a very hard time concentrating on writing because I kept imagining death working in me. (Don't know if this was demonic or a consequence of having an alarmist nurse as a mother, but it can be totally paralyzing to yours truly.)

In addition, I kept saying to God, "love me, love me, love me." Because I was feeling utterly unloved. Okay, that comes from my rejection and abandonment issues. So, yeah, I was falling apart. But weirdly -- yeah, everything is weird sometimes-- I also am way too friendly for my own good. A recluse with a suspicious paranoid heart and tendency to be open to everyone! What a mess! Anyways, I was feeling rejected, unloved, abandoned...and fearful of horrible illnesses.

And then there was younger son's sickness, my sleep issues, and older son's tummy issues. I was just feeling overwhelmed over general stuff happening in our house. So yours truly felt hubby and I should redo our baptism. -- We were baptized as babies but not as adults. So we said the baptism liturgy together. Baptized ourselves. (Yeah, I know...weird.) A recommitment to God. And renewed renounciation of all things demonic or generational in our family line.

Weirdly, it actually took. Can't explain it but so many things changed. The funny thing is I was thinking..."well is this kind of baptizing of one's self in a pinch acceptable?" But during the ceremony I just got so weepy and cried so much. I mean I just fell apart and cried and cried. Then the terror of rejection and the death fears began to feel more controllable.

Before if I offered my friendship to a stranger, especially strangers on the net, I'd feel so stupid for being so friendly. For instance, there are two Korean women I know on youtube. They sometimes answer when you post to them, but when they don't I feel soooo rejected.

But I clearly felt the Lord say to me...."what if, they're not rejecting you because they think you're too friendly? What if they're just afraid of internet friendships or are two shy? And what if, after a while, they begin to warm up to you...after they get to know your heart? Can you be brave and believe that?"

I also felt God say it was alright that I was a nutcase and didn't have the cookie cutter christian sweetness sane Christians are supposed to have. He said it so clearly: "I don't think you're so nutty, Carole. Besides, I love you the way you are." That made me happy.

So I know something happened. Definitely feel I should take younger son to a church for healing --but so tired of doing that-- because the doc's prescriptions aren't helping. But will see.
Anyways, I definitely feel the healing of the baptism ceremony working in me.

Am living in the secret place of the most high. Every day, I spend most of the day balancing between listening to great sermons and watching evil crime shows on TV. I'm trusting God's love for me....he's very sweet about my silliness.

Hubby and I are also re-reading the Bible from beginning to end. Usually we jump around. But from beginning to end.

Watching my mouth, confessing God's word, trying to love my christian brothers/sisters (which can be difficult because they often say such horrible things) and forgiving folks. God is good.


Monday, January 25, 2010

I Told Me So: Self-Deception and the Christian Life

I Told Me So: Self-Deception and the Christian Life 
Gregg A. Ten Elshof (Eerdmans)

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans Publishing Co.; First Printing edition (June 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802864112
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802864116
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x

Here's the blurb:

Think you’ve ever deceived yourself? Then this book is for you. / Think you’ve never deceived yourself? Then this book is really for you. / “Socrates famously asserted that the unexamined life is not worth living. But Gregg Ten Elshof shows us that we make all sorts of little deals with ourselves every day in order to stave off examination and remain happily self-deceived. Most provocatively, he suggests this is not all bad! While naming its temptations, Ten Elshof also offers a ‘strange celebration’ of self-deception as a gracious gift. In the tradition of Dallas Willard, I Told Me So is a wonderful example of philosophy serving spiritual discipline. A marvelous, accessible and, above all, wise book.”— James K. A. Smith / Calvin College / author of The Devil Reads Derrida / “In this wise, well-crafted work Ten Elshof helps us to identify, evaluate, and respond to our own self-deceptive strategies, as he probes — with occasional self-deprecation and unavoidable humor — the bottomless mysteries of the human heart. His reflections on interpersonal self-deception and ‘groupthink’ are especially helpful. To tell me the truth, I’m glad I read this book. You will be too — I promise.”— David Naugle / Dallas Baptist University / author of Reordered Love, Reordered Lives / “Ten Elshof’s discussions are erudite, biblical, searching, and laced with soul-restoring wisdom. All of this together means that this book is solidly pastoral. What it brings to us is appropriate to individuals, but it especially belongs in the context of small groups and local congregations.”— Dallas Willard (from the foreword)

About the Author

Gregg A. Ten Elshof is associate professor and department chair of philosophy at Biola University. He is also the author of Introspection Vindicated.

Here is a review: 

Genesis Chapter 2: Ah, Moses, but you digress: the rivers of Eden

Okay, so hubby and I are reading the Bible from the beginning. And we come to chapter Two.

The second creation. Now why, a second account of the creation? Is the first only in the spiritual realm? Is the second how it manifests in the physical realm? Spirit comes before physical. So did the earth exist physically or was it all in the spirit realm before this? I mean, hubby and I are one. In spirit. How do we work that oneness out in the physical?

Hebrews 11:3
3Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Also, I've got to say that the Bible isn't broken up into chapters in the original. So it's not as if Moses wrote chapter one then went off for a couple of days and came back and wrote chapter two. He's writing it all at a stretch (the westerners divided it into chapters) and he is aware of what seems like a discrepancy to us. But it's a discrepancy to us only if we see God's creation as immediately coming into the physical realm. In the Bible, God is always saying, "I have done this" when it hasn't even been done yet. (Abraham, I have made you a father of many nations."

Genesis 2:

And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
2 And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
3 And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it he rested from all his work which God had created and made.
4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that Jehovah God made earth and heaven.

CM: So, God's work of calling everything into being is finished.

5 And no plant of the field was yet in the earth, and no herb of the field had yet sprung up; for Jehovah God had not caused it to rain upon the earth: and there was not a man to till the ground;

CM: So, although chapter one says the earth was filled with plants and everything was created by God's word And although Moses has stated that God rested from His work, still...there is no evidence of this work to the physical senses.

6 but there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

CM: Okay, so here we are in this earth that is not really the earth we have now. The earth God created had water above an atmosphere of air called sky, then an earth which had water on one side and land coming out of the water. All this before God divided the earth in chapter six and caused the continental drift. And such was the atmosphere that mist came up and watered the ground. The solar system has many planets. Some of gas, some of liquid, some with atmospheres.

7 And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

CM: Once again, the physical account of the creation. Man was made spiritually in the first section. And now we see the forming of man. So then, faith without works is dead. God spoke this and the angels sang when they saw his creation. But this creation of Man and the world seems to be in the spiritual realm. It hasn't been wedded to the physical yet. Everything that is Man has already been created in the spiritual realm but it's waiting for God to make man from the dust of the earth and to breathe into man's nostrils? The forming is necessary, the breathing is necessary. Not just the word alone. But STILL the word finished making man even before man was formed. In the beginning was the word.

8 And Jehovah God planted a garden eastward, in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
9 And out of the ground made Jehovah God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

CM: So there is the earth, then there is region called Eden, then there is a garden in the east of Eden.

10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became four heads.
11 The name of the first is Pishon: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
12 and the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.
13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Cush.
14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth in front of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
15 And Jehovah God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
16 And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

CM: Okay, whence this digression about rivers? And why the change of tense? Moses has been talking about the past...and suddenly he says, "this river IS" and "there IS much gold there." Uhm. Is he just trying to get the location fixed in our head?

17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

CM: Interesting that God doesn't tell them what to do, but what not to do. He doesn't say "Eat the Tree of Life." He only says "Don't eat the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."

18 And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.

CM: First try. So it wasn't obvious to God that Adam needed a woman? I mean...we think immediately "oh yeah, God's gonna make a woman?" Or maybe God wanted Adam to see what he needed. In chapter one, God had told all the animals to be fruitful and to multiply. So one would think he wanted humans to multiply on the earth. But did he make Adam to be alone without thinking Adam would need to multiply humans?

19 And out of the ground Jehovah God formed every beast of the field, and every bird of the heavens; and brought them unto the man to see what he would call them: and whatsoever the man called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
20 And the man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the heavens, and to every beast of the field; but for man there was not found a help meet for him.

CM: Second try for the helpmeet. And again a second creation of the beasts. Here the plants depend on man being made. And the ground is waiting for the manifestation of the sons of men to till it. Everything here is dependent on man. But it's not the second creation. It's the bringing forth of them, after the word spoke them into being. Again, the beasts are being formed in the physical realm although they were already spoken into being and created by the word in the first chapter. So when a thing is finished in the spiritual realm, what must be done in the physical realm to bring it into physical manifestation?

I also wonder what the naming implies. Does it mean only a name? Or does it mean attributes as well?

21 And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof:
22 and the rib, which Jehovah God had taken from the man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23 And the man said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

CM: Ah, Adam! Created as both sexes? Created sexless? So when God made Adam and Eve he said "Let us make man in our own image and likeness. Male and female created he them" which means Eve was created as part of the "them" of Adam when God spoke. So Eve was already "in" Adam. Uhm.....

Also, about the naming. This man is no dummy. He is aware that he and his wife are to be the mother and father of all living humans.
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

CM: They do not know evil or comprehend conscience in any way. Shame doesn't come when we are covered in God's love. Shame comes not because we have done evil but because we KNOW we have done evil. Adam and Eve could've been sinning right and left...but there was no consciousness of what evil is.

God doesn't change his mind. So it's not as if occurrences in physical time or space affects his works. He sees the future from the beginning. There is order on earth -- things are done in sequence. But in heaven -- the land of eternity-- no such thing.

St Peter says, "By Jesus wounds we were healed." So, whether we see it in the physical realm or not, in the spiritual realm we are healed. And we are called to wrestle to say "Thy Kingdom Come" and to believe.
St Paul says, "We are seated in the heavenlies with God."
Jesus said, "I am the lamb slain from the foundation of the earth."
Jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I am."
Jesus said, "If I tell you about earthly things and you don't understand, how will you believe when I tell you about heavenly things?"

Friday, January 22, 2010

The lovely graceful passionate gentle men

Okay, so I know where I got my influence for strong women...the question is where did I pick up my penchant for gentle emotional men. Heck, even when they lose their tempers, these guys are gentle, graceful, and lovely. And yeah, my husband is like that as well.

But where the heck did I get this image?

GASP! I think it's from a real person. As a kid I knew a sweet little soul in Jamaica called Lancelot Bell. What a dear soul he was. I think that's where it came from. One of those childhood friendships that was broken apart by time and circumstances. So maybe this is a case where the literary love for these characters came after the actual human person -- art echoing life.

Okay, we have to mention Hamlet. One cannot mention Carole's loves without mentioning Hamlet. The lord thing comes in there. All my loves are royals. And Hamlet's angsty and religiosity definitely affects them. Hamlet was a seminary student at Wittenberg, Martin Luther's breakaway university. So yeah, that's in there as well. My characters are always religious...even the non-religious ones.

I suppose I should mention the types as well. In my stories there are three types: the dark-haired angsty one, the blonde angsty one, and the ethnic angsty one. Yeah, I'm pretty shallow that way.

And yes, I'll admit it: I'm in love with Norman Bates from Psycho (as depicted by Anthony Perkins, mind you. Not the Vince Vaughn loony.)

So yeah, although Hamlet, Parzifal, and the others had their sweet Lancelot Bell came first. God bless you, Lancelot, wherever you are.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Influential Ladies and Inner Vows

So there I was over the weekend -- stuck in bed-- when I was blessed with being reunited to two of my favorite literary ladies: Catherine Sloper of Henry James' Washington Square and Bette Fischer of Balzac'x Cousine Bette. I first met these ladies when I was around 12. And, as I watched them, I realized they have influenced me and my characters more than I could've guessed.

Other women joined their ranks by the time I reached 15 or so: Clytemnestra, Medea, Antigone, Phaedra. Yeah, I had a thing for angry relentless passionate women who got all hard and cruel out of some strange deeply-felt cause --generally familial, but often they just were against their society.

Now, about the inner vows part. These women were often carried away by an emotion. Something the totally repressed me totally loved. Quite literally, they could not help feeling the way they did. Now, I'm older. I know now that inner vows are hard to remove. Even if the person's mind has forgiven, it's as if the heart has some weird control of the soul in some weird way (yes, I know...I'm using the word 'weird' a lot and I'm supposed to be a writer..but honestly, I can't think of another word right now.)

Example: One has totally forgiven someone. One understands why the person did something. And one really really really wants to befriend the forgiven person. Yet, one's stomach simply throws up whenever one is near the person. It's not as if one has told one's stomach to do this...but there you go...the stomach has a mind of its own that reacts to this forgiven person.

Am not sure what it is. In the old days, I liked seeing such feminine strength so strong that it denied life. (Antigone means literally against giving birth, against life...and most of these women had reached a kind of un-manning self-destruction in order to hold on to some principle or to avenge some hurt.) But now --even though I think the women simply could not free themselves from the inner impulse-- I find myself rethinking this. Why? Simply because I don't like inner vows. They take over. Hurts take over as well.

The thing is these women simply could not change their actions. The impulse of the hurt and the inner vow/inner need for justice and freedom and healing was too great. Quite simply, these women chose to be downright passionately destructive -- even if it meant destroying themselves-- in order to heal themselves. Kinda like someone saying, "I'll never love again." Even if they fall in love again, they really can't fall in love totally. Because the inner vow has so rooted itself into their being. If they DO try to accept the fact that they've fallen in love, they really don't give all their hearts because the inner vow has taken hold.

When I see these women now, I see that their grief and anger hurt their own lives...and that sometimes they understood this. Some didn't. I would've liked Catherine Sloper to have been able to accept love after Morris Townsend messed her up. What's his name loved her with all his heart. But she couldn't have accepted his love....even if she had accepted it.

It's good seeing how these women have affected my life and my writing. Who knew the stories one reads as a kid can affect one's attitude toward how to deal with being hurt etc. I find myself thinking that I don't want anyone reading my stories and becoming hard-hearted...even against their will. These literary characters have so much power.

As a Christian, I suppose I should believe in restoration. Theologically and theoretically, I believe in the removal of inner vows. Just as theologically I believe in restoration. But since I've been fighting off the pessimism and fear-of-irony lately, I know how hard it is to uproot these literary seeds that have planted such deep roots in my soul. I shall just have to hope that the spirit of Life in Christ Jesus can do wonders in freeing my soul. Where the Spirit of God is, there is Liberty

Dark Parable: The dream of boycotting goat milk

Dreamed black folks in the US were boycotting goat milk, the only milk my younger son can drink. I didn't want to do the boycott because A) I thought they were just being silly and over-the-top about it and that there was a misunderstanding. Also I felt that my son needed his goat milk and would I go so far to stop my son's food...just to show myself as united with other black folks and to do what the black folks wanted. I think it's about any groups to which we belong. There comes a time when one's desires are up against the desires of the group.... and can one sacrifice? Can one make someone else --one's own son-- sacrifice because of the whim of a larger group? In life, I think we have to reach a place where we alienate ourselves from groups to which we belong -- by religion or by race or by nation or whatever. It can be lonely but should one allow one's self to be dragged along? -C

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A White Stone

Wow! Considering this.

A supreme bit of intimacy this -- that we will have a name given to us by God known only to us.
Everyone who overcomes will have this hidden name and this hidden manna. It doesn't say that everyone who is a Christian will get it...just those who live in the great tribulation and overcome the trials during this great tribulation.

So, let's say we really are living at the end of time -- which i totally believe...and am totally amazed at how clueless Bible-believing Christians are about how weird this year's gonna be and how apocalyptical events are gonna be. But I digress.

So if I overcome, I will have this special name. And all those who overcome will have this special love name given to us...intimately known between us and God, used only when we talk to God alone and intimately throughout the ages. I suppose we will probably forget the name as soon as we leave his presence...or else -- being humans-- we'd be tempted to say, "Hey, know what my secret name is!" But whatever it, the idea of this unique intimacy, this unique relationship with God our bridegroom.... WOW!

Revelation 2:17
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

WALY, WALY (F. J. Child #204)

The tune is here


WALY, WALY (F. J. Child #204)

Oh, waly, waly up the bank and waly, waly down the brae
And waly, waly up burnside where I and my love used to go
I was a lady of high renown when lived in the North country
I was a lady of high renown when Jamie Douglas courted me

And when we came to Glasgow town, it was a comely sight to see
My lord was clad in the velvet green and I myself in cramasie
And when my eldest son was born and set upon his nurse's knee
I was the happiest woman born and my good lord he loved me

There came a man unto our house and Jamie Lockhart was his name
And it was told unto my lord that I did lie in bed with him
There came another to our house and he was no good friend to me
He put Jamie's shoes beneath my bed and bad my good lord come and see

O woe be unto thee, Blackwood, and an ill death may you die
You were the first and the foremost man that parted my good lord and I
And when my lord came to my room this great falsehood for to see
He turned him round all with a scowl and not one word would he speak to me

"Come up, come up, now Jamie Douglas, come up the stair and dine with me
I'll set you on a chair of gold and court you kindly on my knee."
"When cockleshells turn silver bells and fishes fly from tree to tree
When frost and snow turn fire to burn it's I'll come up and dine with thee."

O woe be unto thee, Blackwood, and an ill death may you die
You were the first and the foremost man that parted my good lord and I
And when my father he had word my good lord had forsaken me
He sent fifty of his brisk dragoons to fetch me home to my own countrie

O had I wist when first I kissed that love should been so ill to win
I'd locked my heart in a cage of gold and pinned it with a silver pin
You think that I am like yourself and lie with each one that I see
But I do swear by Heavens high I never loved a man but thee

Tis not the frost that freezes fell nor blowing snow's inclemency
Tis not such cold that makes me cry but my love's heart grown cold to me
O waly, waly, love is bonnie a little while when first it's new
But love grows old and waxes cold and fades away like morning dew

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Curse you, political correctness

Okay, I'm beginning to get the idea. I need to shake off the shackles of modern political correctness, the burden of modern morals. Actually, I'd gotten the idea a long time ago but I'm really really really getting the idea now. I guess I want to show what a world without religious law is...the selfishness of man, the sinfulness of man, the lostness of man (but one can't really show all this when human law blinds one or binds one's hands.)

Below is one of my favorite ballads. If you listen to it, it has a coupla things (maybe more) that are offensive to modern minds.

First, a rape is treated pretty much as par for the course. A rich lad's dalliance.
Second, a rich guy gets away with a lot because well...there's this caste system and rich guys get away with stuff.
Thirdly (yeah, there's a third) the woman falls in love with her rapist.

Okay, I lived on ballads when I was younger. I like the world of rich lords. Heck, I love everyone in Hamlet calling Ham "my lord."

So here I sit, shackled by modern politesse, western morals, and my own repression. Aaargh! The Constant Tower is a harsh world...and Heck, rich powerful men folk should be able to go about raping poor women they find. The weird stuff is I'm allowing women to do horrible things but I'm not allowing the men to do it. Ah, the sorrows of feminism. Gonna shake all the political, religious, and personal shackles loose (will attempt to anyway) and go to town on this book.

Here it is on youtube

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mild tweaking, major reconstruction or total de/reconstruction

Aaargh! So annoying! I hate when I've sent a book in and then happen upon an idea that will greatly affect it. So now I'm second-guessing the ending of Onion. Oh, that horrible word "second-guessing." (Okay, it's two words. It's one phrase, though.)

Sure, I've been mildly tweaking it since I sent out the submission to Delacorte. And I'm fine with the story so there's no need to utterly deconstruct it or reconstruct it. But now I'm wondering...yeah, the dreaded missing scene has popped into my mind. Shouldn't I have a scene where my main male character ponders suicide?

Okay, I suppose I could add it in and see how it works.

Ah, life...always giving us these decisions: mildly tweak, major reconstruction, or toss it entirely.

Whether it's a relationship, a manuscript, a money pit of a house, a business, a pregnancy, a car, a philosophy. Suddenly bingo --> this choice: tweak, reconstruct, ditch. Aaargh. Why did this missing scene have to pop up in my head now, though? Way after I've sent it into the publisher. Will think about it. If it seems necessary to the book -- as if the book has needed it all along-- I guess I'll do it. Will spend the next few days pondering it. While I ponder what to do with this house of ours: mildly tweak, major reconstruction or ditch?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ah, misanthropy!

Was lying in bed thinking about Constant Tower. It's a novel about humans and being trapped with humans but it doesn't have the passionate dislike of humans which I'd like.

We belong to so many tribes: race, wealth, class, education, religion. And it is that rare person
who totally fits in in all the tribes to which he belongs.

Christians who aren't cookie-cutter Christians tend to be wounded by other Christians.
Blacks are often wounded by other Blacks.
But then Christians are also wounded by atheists, New Agers, Buddhists, agnostics, intellectuals.
And Blacks are often wounded by whites, reds, browns, and yellows.

So how to portray that in a novel? By creating a misanthropic world.

Constant Tower has a smoothness that works but --now that I've come back from working on Onion where I talk about the cruelty down by churchianity and by Black-on-black cruelty-- I sense that I've really toned down the raw anger and isolation one feels in the world. (Okay, that I myself have felt in the world.)

So, on to getting the anger and raw emotion from my heart into CT.

Why? Because it is bitter and because it is my heart.

You're my all in all

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Dancing with the reader

Okay, so I just finished watching the Japanese movie, "Shall we dance?" I'd seen it before but it came again at a time that was needed and confirmed what's been my trouble with Constant Tower.

In short,
A) the leader in any dance step must start off with trust in his partner -=- i.e. the writer must trust her partnership with the reader.
B) the leader in the dance step must confidently stride forward -=- i.e. the writer must be confident about the game, the play, the commitment to the passion of the story.

So, yeah, my problem: I've been thinking way too much of what critics have said about Wind Follower. Some --not many-- had issues with the character development way of the story and thought the first 100 pages were too leisurely. Of course, romance lovers had no problem with the beginning. But fantasy is made up of derring-do and I had brought my habit of viewing indie movies or reading spiritual memoirs and essays into a genre that wasn't quite in the mood for that.

So, then....what to do?
First, to the best of my ability, I will work on my part of the problem. I will work on pacing. Although I will repeat that only a few folks had issues with that.

Second, I will accept who and what I am as a writer. Even if my pacing improves for the fantasy genre, alas there will always be in my soul...the soul of a lover of slow indie slice-of-life films that build to a slow but heart-wrenching climax. So I have to accept that. Which means, striding purposely with my plot and not second-guessing my writing or holding back on certain scenes because the lovers of ripped flesh and heavy warfare are having a problem with my lack of a battle.

All this leads to Three: I will trust my audience to find me and write for them. Not for the snide critics. Dang, that Neth really affected my writing. And yeah, I'll say it. Why should I hide the fact that he's put a stumbling block before my writing? Is it tacky to show one's heart and to show how a snide reviewer who didn't read one's book affected one's story and one's health? I think not.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Introduction to "I Hate Wogs" (Eric Bogle) - Is this a racist song?

This year am opening myself to good luck

I want to dream. I want to be blessed by the universe. I remember a month about 16 years ago where I decided I wanted to win some computer educational games for the kids. I DID! I won a box of 12 from broderbund software and a box of 12 from Learning Adventures or whatever it was. Very strange! Around that time I also won a pair of rollerblades for my son from E! network. After that I didn't win anything big again. I suspect it had a lot to do with me hearing someone talking about "beginner's luck" in sweepstakes and contests. I musta mentally incorporated that and began to believe that I wouldn't win anything thereafter. But I remember the time before that -- some ten or so years before-- when I would win strange things for my friends...even mega-bucks for friends I entered. I loved the surprise of getting stuff in the mail out of the blue. I didn't care if it was big or small. Anyways, I've decided that this year will be full of lovely surprises. I've asked God to just give me lovely lovely stuff. Stuff I need, stuff I don't need but may want, stuff to delight me, stuff I can give away. So yeah, am entering sweepstakes.

Right now am entering this one. because I would love, love, love to get a box of dried apple chips at my door. It'd make my day.

I've also entered at another place to get an air purifier, and I've subscribed to several sweepstakes sites such as

I want to go through this year with a confident expectation of good and with a belief that anyday I could be delighted with some kooky or wonderful surprise. Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Fear of Irony

So there I am upstairs praying and singing and doing the nightly devotional stuff when the Lord showed me a stronghold in my mind that was battling my prayers. And what might this stronghold be, you may ask? The fear of living a sadly ironical life.

Specifically: Wouldn't it be totally ironic if I got a million dollars for my book in April and someone I loved got so sick he had to get money for a hospital in March and I just couldn't do it cause of lack of funds? Wouldn't it be ironic if I got money to buy a new mold-free house in June which would help my son's allergies immensely but if he got so sick from allergies in March that when the money comes it's no help? Wouldn't it be ironic if I got tons of money in December when a friend's impatient son needed to get the money now and turned to drug-dealing before I could get the December money to help him?

Get the picture??? Whence this negative fear, this irony?
Too much literature alas. Too many ironic movies alack.

The Lord tells us to take every thought captive to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. He tells us that the weapons of our spiritual warfare are not carnal but are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. Jesus tells us that the battle is in the mind and that we must not be conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewing of my mind. And in this case, my mind needs to be freed from this "little fox" that is nibbling away at the vine that holds me to Christ's love...and that is causing a subtle kind of hidden doublemindedness in my prayers to God.

So many times people think of unbelief as a simple thing. But it's not... it's subtle. And Doublemindedness is subtle indeed. James wrote that "the doubleminded person will not get anything." So many times we don't get a prayer answered even though we believe, even though we have asked, even though we don't want the prayer answered so we can consume it on our lusts. But what's really going on is the faith-blocking power of a thought -- usually a thought that stems from fear, doubt, despair...not really from unbelief. So it's not some major unbelief in the sense that it's not as if I don't believe God will help me. But it's a stronghold in that it is such a powerful underlying fear that it does work against faith and what I know about God's love and timing of his care for his people.

So, now that God has revealed this to me...what am I to do? I am to use one of the spiritual weapons. In this case, I will use "the sword of the spirit which is the word of God." The particular sword I will use is this: "My times are in God's hand."

I like that verse. I wish there was a verse out there that said, "God is not snide or slick" but the nearest I can get is, "God is love." He would not do such a thing to me. And I could also add another little sword-dagger word of God, "Be careful how you hear." In this case, I am going to trust the light of the Holy Spirit to shed light on the dark places in my soul that have been created by reading ironic great literature of the world. God's word is truth, not ironic story.

Father, you are love. You are kind. I trust times are in your hands. Thank you so much for showing me this dark thought in my mind that has been battling my prayers. Root it out, dear Lord. So my prayers to you will not be double-minded. Amen, dear Amen.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Korea godwinks

Okay, you know my thing about Godwinks. I love them. They make me happy. They make me know God is over my shoulder. Basically, they reassure me of five Bible verses/truths:

One: "You, God, see me."
Two: "My times are in your hands."
Three: "The Lord knoweth our thoughts."
Four: "God's sheep hear his voice."
Five: "You will hear a voice saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'"

So, yeah, the Korean godwinks. A few of my friends are aware of this and I might have mentioned them on this blog a while back. Basically, it's this: ever since I started the novel My Life as an Onion, which has a Korean-French main character, the word Korea has popped up almost everyday in my life. So much so that I almost expect it and I still get the giggles when they occur.

Basically, I was writing The Constant Tower and suddenly out of the blue I decided to write Onion. I had no plot, mind you. But the plot came quickly...all by itself without a struggle. For years I had wanted to write something for the Delacorte first young adult novel contest but I never managed to do it. Suddenly this time, bingo! There I was, writing one at last. And with only four months to go before the deadline.

I kept telling myself: it's stupid to stop editing an almost finished novel to write another novel that will probably need editing...just stop.

But then the Korean godwinks started popping up. It was as if they were encouraging me to finish the story. Or maybe they were just encouraging me by telling me that God was with me. Either way there they were...on an almost daily basis.

What do you mean? I hear you asking.

Well, let's see.
I'd get up and turn on the television to the news. Then I'd sit at my computer to write then I'd decide at no exact time and for no real reason to stretch my legs or to see what is on television and I'd start flipping through the remote. Then I might stop at some stupid little sitcom I never ever ever watched because I felt like stopping and after about a minute -- sometimes after only about ten seconds-- someone on the show would mention Korea.

When it first started, I'd smile and say, "Thank you, Lord! You're so funny! Okay, you're aware of me. I'll go write."

But the godwinks continued... ALMOST DAILY. It was totally as if I had a coach/comforter always beside me.

I'd be waiting on a supermarket check-out line and someone would come up behind me and she'd be talking to someone else and suddenly one of them would say, "Oh, I'm trying to make this Korean dish." OR "I'm going to Korea for vacation."

Now, three months of writing -- I wanted to send it to the editors a full month before the deadline at the end of the fourth month-- is one thing. But then the godwinks continued AFTER I had finished writing the novel and AFTER I had sent the novel out.

So then, yesterday, I get up and lie in bed. Then I decided to get up. No real reason to get up except well I figured I would. I go into the kids' room and I listen to a religious music video on gospelmusicchannel by Anthony Evans called "meaningless." (Ah, irony, in a life so full of meaning!) I'd never heard the song but thought it was okay. Then after listening to it, I start flipping through the channels. I see an old movie on AMC or TCM called "Period of Adjustment." I'd never heard of it and was on my way up to SyFy channel, USA, and Spike TV to see what was on. But I figured I'd pause and check it out. When I read the details of the story, I see: "Two sets of honeymooners yadda yadda." I was like..."ugh! Not in the mood to see some thirties movie about honeymooners." But even so, there I was watching it.

About a minute into the movie, one female character says, "I don't know what's the matter with X. All he does is shake, shake, shake." The male character replies, "Oh? He's doing that again? That started in Korea."

So I say to myself, "Oh, this movie was made after the Korean war? It doesn't look that modern. It doesn't look interesting. But I suppose I'm watching it for some reason. And I'll just wait until I get a sign or some godwink from it. Maybe a nice Bible verse of something."

I hear the holy spirit say to me: "But I HAVE given you a sign."

I start to think... and SUDDENLY it dawns on my peanut brain: KOREA!!!!!

So I burst out laughing. I couldn't stop laughing.

The funny thing about that one is that I had totally missed it. I even had noticed the Korean comment but had only thought of it as a key to when the movie was made. And if I hadn't heard the Holy Spirit say -- very quietly, a still small voice-- that he HAD given me the godwink....well I would've missed it. I also think it was Holy Spirit who also thought through me and said: Korea.

So yeah, even when one gets a sign, one needs the holy spirit to tell one that a sign has been given. Then one needs the holy spirit to jog one's memory to tell one what the sign was. But wait, there's more. One needs the holy spirit in order to help one believe that one has had a sign. BECAUSE after all this went down, I suddenly get this unbelieving thought: What if all these Korean godwinks are not from God at all? What if God isn't as personally involved in your life at all? What if it's some kind of ESP where you're so tuned into television that you can pick up the future plot points in any movie being shown anywhere and turn the TV on at the right time? What if it's ESP making you know to go down this particular block past down to the dollar store at the specific time as two particular people are talking about Korean cartoons? What if it's the devil trying to play with you to make you think that God is personally involved in your life and deceive you into trusting God? YES, unbelief can come up with some really weird stuff to make one not believe that God is nearby. BUT YES, there I was imagining all that.

But I have to commit to the sign. I must commit to believing that these Godwinks are not esp or demonic or flakiness or weird coincidence. I must commit to believing the sign that God has given me. I must trust God's love for me and trust that God is aware of when I sit up and when I stand (Psalm 139) and that God directs us even when we don't know he is leading us.

Of course this could mean I should be praying for Korea. I mean, this might have nothing to do with me at all. That is: it is a sure sign but the interpretation is unsure or wrong. But to me, it just makes me know that God is very playful and very aware of me.

I heard a Christian nurse say something like: The most under-repeated unknown news are the stories of God's miracles merciful kindness and dealing with humans. Because for some reason that stuff is never heard on television. How near and humble our Lord stay so near us, to play with us, to reassure us... on a daily basis. What a mighty God we serve!

My friend Marvin responded with this:
Wonderful post – I think the best way to deal with any doubts that these are godwinks from God is through a prayer that “covers all the bases”. If I were experiencing something like this, and had any doubts about the source, I would pray to God, something along the lines of “Dear God, may these be signs coming from you, for some good purpose. If they’re not from you but from some evil source, please turn them into something good.” And of course, a prayer for Korea can’t hurt.

I've done it! He's such a sweetie and so good for me.

Come, Now is the Time to Worship

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Weekend Movie-Viewing

30 Lies or less
A Japanese heist/romance film
After three years, a group of con-artists come together on a train to plan a heist. Lingering over them is a painful incident that happened with them on their last heist --yeah, three years ago! One of their own scammed them and took the loot. As they plan, up comes the girl they all suspect to be the one who betrayed them. She's weepy, gorgeous and seemingly repentant...although she does know how to use the guys. The mama-hen is Takahara. She doesn't trust this girl and her relationship with the former chief went sour with the last heist. Basically, the last heist ruined everyone in some way and now here they are coming back from a heist (we don't see the heist) with a tonna money and now the money once again turns up missing. Since they're on a moving train and no one has left yet, they know the money is still on board. But who is the betrayer now? This is a good flick -- not esoteric or ultra-deep. Japanese pop films are as corny as American pop films; what can i say?

Swing Girls
Some lazy vaguely delinquent schoolgirls are stuck in summer school. After a series of events caused by their carelessness, they end up having to join the school band to play for the team. Love, committment, knowledge of the value of friendship and music etc all win out in the end. Funny.

Water Boys
Think Billy Elliot in Japan with synchronized swimming. Funny with a predictable happy ending.
This was a drama and also a movie. I saw the movie. It's fun and again...has that sentimental quality that makes a good pop film.

Taiyo to Umi no Kyoshitsu:
This was a drama. Noble unconventional teacher who teaches his cramming-for-exam students to live in the moment.

Lovely rivals
In a small town a mean unpopular teacher and glum school girl with neglectful overworked mother both fall in love with hottie new teacher. (He was cute, not really hot.... IMHO) Teacher learns to love being a teacher again. A nice sweet little film.

Yeah, this weekend no real angst.

Monday, January 04, 2010

They considered not the miracle of the loaves for their hearts were hardened

So, during Bible study this morning hubby laughed at the disciples because the disciples still didn't get it about the miracle of the loaves. In Mark 8 Jesus lost his patience with the disciples and said, "How is it that you don't understand?" So -- being a pain-- I said to hubby, "So, do you understand?"
Hubby replied, "Well, he's mad at them because they didn't bring any bread."

I said, "No, that's not it. That's ruled out by Jesus. What else?"
"That they don't understand God's care for them?"
"Yes. And what else?"
"That they don't understand the power God has given them?"
"AMEN! And that human perception of impossibilities is not God's perception of impossibilities? With God all is possible! To God! To the sons of God! To those who have been given authority and power!"

The books of the Bible were written for many reasons. One of the chief reasons is: to remove our hardness of heart. It aims to show us what our minds cannot possibly conceive: God's love, the power of invisible faith over the visible world, the loss of man's dominion over the world and the regaining of that power and authority again through Jesus Christ, the perfect man, who won the world back from the dominion of Satan and is now worthy to open the seven seals and take back the earth.

So... about our hardened hearts: Tbe first story of the multiplication of the loaves, the second story of the multiplication of the loaves, the calming of the waves, all culminate finally in the question "Why do you not understand?" question.

Jesus spent three years teaching his disciples how to command healing, raise the dead, multiply loaves. Several times in the Scripture he had to shout at them and ask them why they were so dang dense! When Jesus' disciples attempted to heal a boy, they couldn't. This annoyed Jesus no end. (Okay, so the scribes who were arguing with the disciples -- probably about whether healing was for today because of the "days-of-miracles-are-past" theology --and so the disciples would definitely get one caught up in unbelief that they couldn't have faith. But still, by that time they should've had faith.) Nowadays, a minister wouldn't say to his students: "You stupid faithless people! How come you couldn't cast the spirit out!" But Jesus expected his students to know more of God -- to DO more of God's work. Stilling the storm should've been easy work. Multiplying the loaves should've been child's play. But the disciples had hardened hearts. They didn't understand God's power. They didn't understand not to lean to their human understanding.

Nowadays, these miracles are done in many places. Missionaries who take care of orphanages are always talking about how they had only a can of beans or a bag of rice and fed 300 poor orphaned children miraculously for a month on that. There are many modern stories about people calming storms or healing the sick. Let's say the rapture is post-tribulation -- how will we survive during the tribulation if we our hearts are hardened? Heck, how will we endure the recession if we don't understand to look to Jesus and God-in-us, the hope of glory? We have a great treasure in vessels of clay.

30And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.

31And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.

32And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.

33And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him.

34And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.

35And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed:

36Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat.

37He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat?

38He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes.

39And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass.

40And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties.

41And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all.

42And they did all eat, and were filled.

43And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes.

44And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.

45And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people.

46And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.

47And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land.

48And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them.

49But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out:

50For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.

51And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered.

52For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.

Mark 6: 30-53

1In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them,

2I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat:

3And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far.

4And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?

5And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven.

6And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people.

7And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them.

8So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets.

9And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.

10And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.

11And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him.

12And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.

13And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side.

14Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf.

15And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.

16And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread.

17And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened?

18Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?

19When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve.

20And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven.

21And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?

Mark 8:1-21

17And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit;

18And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.

19He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.

Mark 9: 17-19

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Vids of Arawak Indians worshiping

My maternal grandfather, James Higgins was part Arawak. So I'm descended from African and Native American tribes.

Am gonna sound really stupid here. But although my grandfather was descended from the Arawaks, he was Jamaican...and since 99% of the Jamaican Arawaks were killed off or intermarried with Africans, I really never think of the Jamaican Arawaks as a living tribe. And I never thought of Arawaks from other West Indian or Caribbean countries. I guess I really should.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

So you don't walk in darkness

Okay, so folks are always saying -- in movies and once a while in life-- "what is the meaning of life?"

Lord knows. Besides that's too complicated to go into. I suspect the nearest we can come to that is to ask, "What is the meaning of my life?" For the religious the question is, "What is it that God made me to do in this help his supreme purpose on earth?" And for the non-religious, it'll probably be something like, "What can I do with this life of mine to make it meaningful to myself, those who live in the same time as I do, and those who will come after me?"

I can't go into that but I'll go into a discussion of the light.

I won't get too cosmic about light and dark. I'll only say two things. The first is that God tells us that we have the word of God is light for our path. John writes, "We know that the whole world lies in darkness." So, okay... there is something we Bible-believing Christians know about life that makes us not stumble as others do who have no light and who are walking in dark.

The question is: what is it about the word that makes it a light for us? And it's not merely hearing the word that makes it a light. Or else, everyone who reads the Bible would have this light. It's believing the word, speaking the word, doing the word, and having God's spirit shed revelation of the word (for without God's spirit giving you revelation the word of God kills).

Supposedly the word of God has power. Supposedly the word of God has life. Now, there are a few things that the world knows as well as Christians. The Bible is the fullest revelation given to man...and even then we need the holy spirit to understand this revelation. But that doesn't mean that revelation can only be found in the Bible. It doesn't mean that other religions don't have revelation. It just means that whatever those religions reveal -- that is TRUE-- is revealed more fully in the Bible. And it means that if some other religion reveals something that is in direct contrast to what God has told us that it's either A) A great revelation or B) a little revelation. If what is revealed in another religious tradition is B -- a little revelation that contrasts with Christian revelation-- then that particular revelation is to be dismissed. It is not true. If what is revealed in another religious tradition is A -- a great revelation-- then that revelation only seemingly contrasts with what is found in the Bible. For instance, my Muslim best friend says that God is unknowable, God is to be obeyed, God is beyond emotion. This is true. But it is a great truth and a great revelation. THE OPPOSITE OF A GREAT REVELATION IS ANOTHER GREAT REVELATION. This means that God is also quite knowable. For a Christian, this means that the Islamic revelation of the obedience and impersonality of God is a great revelation. But it is lesser than the Christian revelation that God is Love, a Personal Being, and is quite especially near to the sinner and to the suffering.

There is also the Christian physics connection and the discussion of LIGHT. We are told to walk in the light. John tells us that when we hate our brother we walk in darkness. This is not only true symbolically. It's true spiritually. It's true as a matter of physics. (Actually, whenever folks start taking tings in the Bible as only a symbol, they miss out on the reality of the spiritual truth.) When we hate, we give off darkness. Darkness has a spiritual smell that pulls the demonic to us. Just as our prayers are a sweet perfume to God and a deathly smell to the demonic. So walking in the light means we have to be aware that our thoughts give off some kind of light in the spiritual world. Walking with God brings us into light. Hating, sinning, etc makes our darkness home to the beings of darkness. Physics has taught us many things that the Bible has already taught us. In the beginning God said light. In the beginning God made sound and sound made light. The more one studies physics, the more one realizes that the world is made of light.

Another example from the book of Hebrews: The worlds were made from the word of God...things which are seen were not made from visible things but from sound, specifically the sound of God's voice. There is a Japanese word: kotodama. This means that words have spirit...and how we say them and how we believe them affects our life. Christians believe the same thing. Many cultures believe in spells and incantations. But the Christian revelation of the power of God's word to change things is a vastly deeper revelation. Even stranger, we Christians have the authority and power to speak a thing in Jesus name and -- if we believe enough and have God's faith (as Jesus told us to have) we can command demons, sickness, etc.

Anyway, this is all prefacing to what I'm gonna dedicate my blog to this year. This year I'll dedicate each week of my blog to the first chapter of a book of the Bible. So this first week of January 2010 I'll be doing maybe a post or two on genesis chapter one. Then next week a coupla posts on Exodus chapter one. And after that Leviticus. We'll see how that works.

Happy New Year to all. God bless and keep you in the light.


I am resolved to:

Go outside the house at least once a week instead of once a month. (Will try to get out of my the world-is-such-a-wounding-place-I-just-don't-want-to-go-outside mode.) I might even attempt to go for a walk every day.

I will not use food to comfort myself.

I will attempt to do my hair at least once a week instead of simply washing it and then cutting it off when it gets unmanageable.

I will resist the urge to snap at judgemental Christians or platitude-quoting Christians who have no idea what my life is like but who say stupid glib judgmental stuff.

I will not roll my eyes whenever some supposed famous Christian teacher/speaker say something so stupid I want to roll my eyes.

I will use the exercise bike every day.

I will attend parties I'm invited to.

I will avoid all a$$holes. (I have to. Especially the religious and spiritual know-it-all ones who have never had a sick child for 20 years yet who say assholey stuff.)

I will force younger son to eat the right foods.

I will drink way more water every day.

I will guard my mind from stupid things said by medical pontificators.

I will control my daydreams and have no vain imaginings...but will only think of whatever is lovely pure of good report, virtuous.

I will keep up my Answered Prayers chart and my godwink Book of Remembrance.

I will rejoice in my God and thank him all the time.

Goes without saying that I will continue to read my Bible and to water God's word for sons and my healing.

Still don't know what God wants me to dedicate this blog to this year. Listening to see what's what.

Friday, January 01, 2010

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