Monday, July 23, 2012

Fantasy Blog Circus: Borders and Crossovers in Fantasy

For me, there is nothing more annoying than someone who writes magical realism and who doesn't believe in magic. I got introduced to magical realism and natural supernaturalism in college when I read Latin American fiction.  The Latin American form of magical realism is not merely evocative metaphor (although it often is only that) But it is combined with a desire to honor the folklore old grannies  and uncles told to children on their knees. For authors such as Julio Cortazar, Borges or Gabriel Garcia Marquez, there is a healthy respect for the underlying magical mystery of everyday life, the honoring of a culture's oral storytelling, and a desire to sacramentalize (in the Roman Catholic sense) the world by showing Life and Mystery embodied in the predictable routines of life. For me, true Magical Realism is full of mystery and questions about the nature of life. 


Of course there have been authors such as Henry James in "The Turn of the Screw" who combined both so every once in a while there are movies such as "Take Shelter" or books that play with the principle of uncertainty. "Is this character cracking or is the world not as closed and rational as we think?"   But I suspect James actually was writing a ghost story. If he did not believe in ghosts, he set his unbelief aside and created a story that is both psychological and metaphysical thriller. For many American writers, however, magical realism is simply a way to use metaphor to show the internal workings of the mind. Thus there is a distinct borderland between magical realism that looks outside of man's mind towards the unknown universe, and magical realism that shows the psychological complexities of the unknown human mind. 


I suppose it's a combination of growing up in a Bible-believing church  and growing up in Jamaica. Whether it's a testimony of a healing in a church service or a ghost story on SyFy, Discovery, or Biography Channel, or someone seeing Sasquatch or some other cryptozoic creature, I take my supernatural stories at face value.

I once had the pleasure of listening to my friend, Sharon McGuire, relating an evening where her friends were telling each other about the supernatural events that had happened to them. The Haitian girl believed in shapeshifters because she had seen them but utterly disbelieved in vampires and considered them silly. On the contrary, the Romanian girl believed people could turn into wolves because she had seen them but thought the Haitian girl's anecdote was ridiculous. I love stories like that.

I recently heard that the writer Victoria Laurie writes ghost stories because she had a ghost encounter when she was in high school. I like stories that open up the world. As Einstein said, "the mysterious is the most beautiful thing in art and science." As Shakespeare wrote, "there are more things in heaven and earth that are dreamed of in your {rationalistic} philosophy.

So, with my love of the supernatural, I tend to dislike when a writer is simply using the surreal to describe emotions or aspects of a closed universe...and I generally will go along. After all, the surreal is useful for explaining life in all its aspects. But I would rather a dream in a story have supernatural resonances than be the outworkings of worried synapses or the result of an underdone potato. I would rather have Scrooge be visited by three spirits and be acted upon by supernatural agencies in the world that are beyond his ken, than chock up the night to repressed guilt or buried memories. That's just me.

True, we have yet to see a mermaid pop up in the Hudson River, but if a writer depicts such an event, I want to believe the writer actually believes seductive sirens/succubi actually exist -- and isn't using fish-tailed sea denizens as a symbol of heaven knows what.

One of my favorite Bible verses is "Lord, rend the heavens and come down." And I love St John's Apocalypse. Why? Because they promise a time when life --in all its magic and strangeness-- will be seen for what it is; they promise an unveiling. For me, magical realism and natural/supernaturalism are subtle reminders that human minds don't really know what the world is made of.


See other opinions on this topic at the this month's fantasy carnival blog


Theresa Crater has published two contemporary fantasies, 
Beneath the Hallowed Hill & Under the Stone Paw and several short stories, most recently “White Moon” in Riding the Moon and “Bringing the Waters” in The Aether Age:  Helios. She’s also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches writing and British lit in Denver. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Colorado with her Egyptologist partner and their two cats. Visit her website athttp://theresacrater.com 

Andrea K Höst was born in Sweden but raised in Australia.  She writes fantasy and science fantasy, and enjoys creating stories which give her female characters something more to do than wait for rescue.  See: www.andreakhost.com

Warren Rochelle has taught English at the University of Mary Washington since 2000. His short story, "The Golden Boy” (published in The Silver Gryphon) was a Finalist for the 2004 Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Story and his novels include The Wild Boy (2001), Harvest of Changelings (2007), and The Called (2010. He also published a critical work on Le Guin and has academic articles in various journals and essay collections.
http://warrenrochelle.com

 I began writing professionally in 1982 as Deborah Wheeler with JAYDIUM and NORTHLIGHT, and short stories in ASIMOV'S, F & SF, REALMS OF FANTASY and STAR WARS: TALES FROM JABBA'S PALACE. Now under my birth name, Ross, I am continuing the" Darkover" series of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, as well as original work, including the fantasy trilogy THE SEVEN-PETALED SHIELD. I'm a member of Book View Cafe. I've lived in France, worked for a cardiologist, studied Hebrew, yoga and kung fu, and am active in the local Jewish and Quaker communities.
 http://deborahjross.blogspot.com/

Sylvia Kelso lives in North Queensland, Australia. She writes fantasy and SF set in analogue or alternate Australian settings. She has published six fantasy novels, two of which were finalists for best fantasy novel of the year in the Australian Aurealis genre fiction awards, and some short stories in Australian and US anthologies. 

Carole McDonnell is a writer of ethnic fiction, speculative fiction, and Christian fiction. Her works have appeared in many anthologies and at various online sites. Her novel, Wind Follower, was published by Wildeside Books. Her forthcoming novel is called The Constant Tower.
 http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What God says we have versus what we believe we have

I John 2:12-14

Okay, this is how the verse reads:

12I write to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
13I write to you, fathers,
because you have known him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, dear children,
because you have known the Father.
14I write to you, fathers,
because you have known him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one

As Christians we all agree with verse 12. Those of us who have been in church all our lives have been trained from birth to believe that God has forgiven us. Okay, some of us still think that God is ready to get mad at us over every little thing -- perhaps because we have been in churches where the minister majors on sin-- but for the most part we all accept the idea that Jesus saved us from sin.

Where we part from God is ...well, pretty much everything else.

Verses 13 and 14 tell us what we have and what we know. According to God. But we don't believe we know the Father. We don't really believe we have overcome the evil one. We don't really believe the word of God is living and active and powerful in us. Remember when Thomas (or was it Philip?) said to Jesus, "Show us the way to the Father!" and Jesus said to him, "You know the way." Philip said, "uh...no! I don't know the way." There he was disagreeing with Jesus about what Jesus told him about the truth. We Christians are always doing that.

We are told in the Bible that we have the mind of Christ. That means God's love is within us, God's power over sin is within us. Very few of us believe that.

We are told in the Bible that we can heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leper. We don't really have faith for that. Not really.

We are told in the Bible that we all have been given the like measure of faith. The same talent given to all, that we can build on if we choose to walk out on faith. We don't believe that. We believe that God has given some people great faith and other people little faith. Not true. In the Bible the difference between great faith and little faith is the fact that some folks have a deeper understanding of what they have and the power of faith. We all have the same measure of faith. We just have to use that servant instead of letting the servant sit around doing nothing. Come on, when was the last time you spoke to a mountain? How many of us have planted the word and trusted that it is growing whether or not we see the blade or not?

The Lord tells us "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."
The Lord tells us "By Jesus' stripes we were healed."
Why do we lack, then? Why are we unhealed?
Because we do not receive with meekness the engrafted word that is able to save.
Because we do not enter into God's rest and trust that the active living word of God is working mightily in us. Hey, we have had mega-religious teaching that tells us that God makes us suffer for his glory, that God wants us to strive and strive before we receive the answer to a prayer. But that's not what the Bible says. The Bible says God answers speedily. The Bible says the seed grows secretly at first. The Bible says just as something demonic fought against Daniel's prayer so sometimes the devil fights against the fulfillment of the prayer. Most of the problem with unanswered prayer has very little to do with God's willingness. God is loving and willing. God is a good God, not a tyrant. The problem is with us receiving and truly doing what the Bible tells us to do to pull that prayer into the natural. Trust me: I know whereof I speak. I'm a minister's grandkid and it took me years to get past some traditional theology and see what the Bible is actually saying.

Let God be true and every man a liar. This means...the lies in our own mind which come against the truth as revealed in the Bible.
Hey, I'll admit that I'm not sold on the idea that every mountain I talk to is gonna go. But I know it should, I know it will...if I keep up the good fight of faith.

Hubby had a funny dream which shows God's wit. He dreamt that a great minister whom he highly respects called him and said, "Come with me and help me cast this demon out." My hubby was perplexed that a minister so great would be asking him for help. But the dream is right and totally true. We all are equal in God's eyes. No one is more powerful than another. We tend to put certain people into categories as powerful Christians but the Lord has said, "Would that all the Lord's people were prophets!"

There's an old saying about "It's hard to go building your house in a storm." Very true. When you have no house and a storm comes, you run to your neighbor's house and say 'My house is shoddy. I can't stay in it now with this terrible downpour. Can I stay here?' So we run to the prayers of those who have learned how to use their prayers for others. But we can't keep doing that. We have to learn how to build up our own faith. So that we can move our own moutains and help other folks who might need our prayers.

In the epistle of James, God tells us that when we look into the Bible we look into a mirror and see who we really are. When we look at the world, the world tells us what we are. Therefore we must take heed what we hear and accept what God tells us we have received. In the book of Hebrews we are told that the physical world is built on the intangible word of God. Faith brings spiritual things into tangible reality physical form. But how can we believe God's report if we use some of man's tradition's to blind us to what it is really saying. Jesus said the traditions of man have made the word of God to none effect. So we must read the word, trusting God to speak the truth in our hearts and to remove the false theologies from our spirits, minds, and hearts.

Read the Word. Believe what it says. Ask God to enlighten you and to help you perceive the truth. Cast down your imaginations...and trust what God said.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fear not their fear

Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.
Isaiah 8:11-13

Jesus tells us over and over that in the last days there will be all kinds of deception and lies. He also tells to be careful how we hear and to keep our eyes on the light of his word.

Okay, not that I'm anti-hospital and anti-AMA but I DO get annoyed when they get into prophetic mode.

I've never been one to jump on any bandwagon. Took me years to get a CD and a computer. And I still don't have a microwave. (Because they kill all the nutrition in food) but back in the day I remember a New Yorker article warning about the dangers of increased cancer risks in those who had taken meds to lower cholesterol. That was 20 or so years ago. And still the media and doctors tell people they must lower their cholesterol because high cholesterol is a "disease."
Okay, high cholesterol may have been linked with heart disease in some people, but it doesn't mean high cholesterol is the cause of their heart disease. It might just be a corollary to the heart disease...and something else might be behind both the heart disease and the high cholesterol. Like hemcysteine. Or remember the days when they thought ulcers were caused by stomach acids then they now realize it's caused by bacteria. And the stomach acids are now corollary.

Anyway check out:
In the current study the ideal LDL cholesterol level was 126. The researchers were able to identify a bell shaped curve, in terms of a departure in either direction from this ideal number. LDL over 146 or less than 107 was associated with 33% increased risk of cancer. LDL over 164 of less than 87 was associated with a 50% increased risk. The risk keeps getting worse the higher or lower the number progresses away from the ideal of 126. LDL in the range of 108 - 145 had no statistically significant cancer risk, although being in the center of this range is clearly best.

The rest of this article can be found at:
http://www.newswithviews.com/

While you're at it, check out this article on mammograms versus thermograms.

The surprising truth about breast checks

The upshot of this post: don't fear medical prophecies. The medical world is ruled by big pharmaceuticals who want to make money and by docs who don't really know as much as they should...and by folks who make wrong conclusions, scare folks, then fifty years later change their minds. Remember, these were the folks who used to do lobotomies. Medicine keeps changing and reversing itself. God never changes. Seek his wisdom. And let us not accept the seed of Satan's deception. To accept the seed of fear is to plant it in one's heart. And Jesus tells us that out of the heart are the issues of life. Accept a seed of fear, believe it and plant it, water it everyday and soon it will bear fruit. We don't want that. We must trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not to men's understanding. Or at least we should take what they say with a heavy grain of salt.

Been sleeping. Drinking my water and getting my son. Ah vitamin D!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Ask Seek Knock: Part 1: Ask

"Ask, and you shall receive. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and the door shall be opened to you." Matt 7:7

These encouraging words of our Lord not only help us to persevere in prayer, they help to make our minds like Christ's. True, we know that we are being conformed to Christ and His mind is daily being formed in us. But we often forget that we are beings who are made for Eternity, and we will not be able to receive a full reward if we enter into our Real Country with personalities and character traits more suited to this land we presently sojourn in.

In addition to receiving, finding, and having a door opened, we also are learning to worship God in spirit and in truth. Jesus encourages us to Ask, Seek, and Knock. If we follow this command, we will achieve the fruits of love, faith, and hope. As St Paul tells us these are the three things that endure.

Asking and Receiving
When we ask, we are trusting that God hears us. We are consciously believing that Jesus loves us and has heard our prayers. But asking is not enough. After we ask, we must train our minds to look expectantly for the answered prayer. The saints in Heaven were people who learned how to see the invisible. They saw heaven before they got there. They saw the visible result of prayer when there was only God's Scriptural word --the invisible seed hidden in their heart. Like them, we must learn to have a confident expectation that the good seed will flower and produce fruit. We must learn to believe in the seed growing secretly. The Bible tells us that the wind blows where it wills. (John 3:8) The Scripture tells us that God is the Husbandman who gives seed to the sower, who sends rain and sunshine, who prunes and fertilizes the plant, and who gives the increase. But we also have our part. We are to water the word, watching in prayer with thanksgiving. (Col 4:2) When we plant earthly seeds in the springtime, we believe that there is power in the seed to grow. Although we don't see the seed because the dirt covers it, we know the seed exists. Earthly farmers use earthly methods to reap their harvests. We are spiritual seed-planters. When we ask God for something, we are using God's word to plant invisible seed. God's word is active and powerful (Heb 4:12) and it has life in itself just as earthly seeds have life in themselves. God's word accomplishes what God sends it out to do. BUT this spiritual seed must be watered spiritually. Our prayers must be planted, watered, weeded, and reaped spiritually. How do we do this? We water the seed by praising God and believing that the prayer has been granted, even when we do not see any signs of the result of our prayer. That's how we "receive." The Word of God is an imperishable seed. It will not die. The calling and grace of God are without repentance. God doesn't take back what He gives. But we must be careful not to neglect the gifts that God has given us. If the word of God will profit us, we must mix it with our faith. We need to water the seed by faith. St Paul tells us that we water the word by giving thanks for what God has done. Jesus said, "When you pray, believe that you have received and you will have." St Paul says, "In due time, we will reap if we faint not." When we praise God in faith for something we have not yet seen with our human eyes, we are "believing that we have received." We are not fainting; instead we are participating in the reaping of the precious promises of God. We don't know when or how, but in "due time" -- the harvest time-- the seed will grow. We walk by faith and enter God's court with praise, trusting that He has already answered our prayer. This means that we don't begin our prayers with doubt, but with a faith that God has already answered our prayers. Oftentimes we begin to believe that God has heard our prayer when we start seeing an answer to our prayers. The little sprouts and blade begin to rise and then we start praising God. That's well and good, but we are to walk by faith in God's word, not by what we see. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. Therefore, we must live expecting that something good is happening even now. In all things and in all situations, we must rejoice -- regardless of what our human eyes see-- because the eyes and heart of faith know that God is in charge and that He cares for us.


But why do we water the seed. What is the real reason? How can we continue watering seed when we have not seen the blade, the stalk, the full flower? Because we know the personality and character of God. We love Him because He first loved us. As we give thanks and walk in love and wonder at His goodness, we train our souls to trust in God's love, power and providence.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The lovely Corinthian Church

When I think of what new testament church I'd like to hang out it, I think I would have loved the Corinthian Church. Or the Philipian Church.

But back to the Corinithian Church.

They had tons of spiritual gifts and they were constantly confusing earthly mysticism, earthly demonic stuff, with God's way of working with his spirit. Because the Dionysian cult in the city went all ecstatic in their spirituality they believed God's spirit would "take them over too." Paul had to remind them that things should be done decently and in order and the spirit of the prophet was subject to the prophet. (Yes, Juanita Bynum, please note: the spirit isn't taking you over. You've got to learn when to quit and not go overboard.)

The Corinthian Church also went overboard with their acceptance of sinful folks. A little gnosticism, a little pride, a heck of a lot of 'turning the grace of God into lasciviousness'

But this is the bunch that Paul said wasn't short of any spiritual gift, and that he encouraged to seek more spiritual gifts.

God's gifts are just that: God's gifts. They aren't the fruits of the spirit. Some very immature people are given God's gifts. Some very sinful people too. So, when we look at folks like Ted Haggard, Todd Bentley, and many great healers or folks who have shown that God's great gifts is working within them...we should not judge too harshly. God uses all Christians and gives His gifts to all people. And some folks know how to use the law of faith. It doesn't mean we should continue sinning, but we should be merciful to folks because we are sinners also, are we not? We're still trying to be full of God's holiness but it is the father's good pleasure to give us the kingdom -- they're gifts from a loving father, after all.

And interestingly, Paul writes to the Corinthian church saying, "I can't give you meat. I can only give you milk." So that's intense. Corinthians, as deep as it sounds, is only spiritual milk. There is no depth or meat in the Corinthian Church letters. Yet, we contemporary Christians have not even attained to some of the wisdom written there. Sad, uh?

The ideal of the lost



I was lying in bed when I heard this phrase in my spirit:
The ideal of the lost

I didn't know what it meant. Still don't. But It so reminded me of something Oswald Chambers would say. I don't know if it connects to my personal life alone, or to the USA because this is July 4th, or to Christendom.

We all have ideals of lost things, don't we? Lost Eden, versus The reality of the regained Dominion, maybe. Lost ideal of ourselves and the way we were. Who knows?
was really strong in my spirit though

I thought about how Oswald would do it, the way he does his books and came up with the following ..to balance out the entire concept and meditation.
The ideal of the lost -- the Ideal of what America supposedly wasthe ideal of our lost health, our lost youth, the ideal of what Man lost in Eden and lost, the ideal of what True Christianity was intended to be... True or False Nostalgia?

the reality of the lost --  

the ideal of the found, 

the reality of the found.

I still don't know what it all means...but pondering.

There is often an idealization of something lost, isn't it? Our old selves before the illness, the old computer game which we loved and used to play but now windows doesn't work with it. There is also the Great-Might-have been, the stuff we thought we should have gotten in this life. For American and Americans, there is the great idea of how wonderfully noble and pure the USA was -- the city set on a hill and all that. For Christianity, there is the idea of what Christ meant his church to be...and what happened after philosophy, religion, and culture messed with it. The reality of the lost is another thing. Was that card game really so good? Was the old neighborhood really that good? Was I -- even in my healthiness and beauty-- really as healthy nd beautiful as all that? Sometimes one is sick but it doesn't show. Or the old lost friend...maybe they weren't as perfect as all that. Or American history, the reality was there were a heck of a lot of white guys who had power and the Native Americans were being deprived. As for Christianity, the good old days were full of persecutions from outside and schisms from within. So even in its heyday, it was still struggling to do what Jesus told them. Or we wouldn't have all those letters from the apostles telling folks to get their act together. The Ideal of the found is pretty much that "now tht we have it" all shall be well. The new found friend, the new found weight loss, the new found house, the new found president, the new found government. And the reality of the found. The found in reality is also something one has to keep working for. Just because one was lost and now am found doesn't mean the work stops. the new found law (did the civil rights act really help Blacks as much as folks thought it did? Will gay marriage really be as great as gay folks think it will be?Thinking, thinking...YAY...this'll be my post for today


This is Rose-Marie's take:


such a good word, carol. i was thinking of something similar this morning. we are so afraid to lose
and be lost and yet we must be. it is our goal to be lost to ourselves so that wemight be found in him.
that is not a truism that we just say that is crazy religion that makes no sense. it is a fundamentla principle
i think, but we hestitate to truly believe it because it feels weird.  
i read this book about memory....cant remember name but it was talking about how our memory
is not accurate and we idealize things, (probably making them into somewhat of an idol)--my addition.
all of what you say is true, the good old days werent as good as we thought they were but somewhere,
in some of all this, is a line of sweetness of all that is good and true, and maybe that is what we long for.
not in platonian terms but in our longing for God who produces good from the horrible wrecked and beauty
from ashes.
i live in massachusetts and cringe when people talk about how christian we were back then.
the whole massachusetts bay colony was built on the idea of being a "city on a hill"  but they were
notoriously pharisaical and intolerant in a bad way. and they had known what it was to escape persecution
...we never had the "christian" america that we thought we did. not to diminish what we did have--for we
did have a lot!





This is Debra's take on it:

Interesting and I shall ponder. Being July 4 of course one is put in mind of the ideals our nation started with, and how so many of those are lost. Is our civilization failing, or merely evolving? Are we headed to a dark age, or merely shifting in to the next thing?

If... continuing in the metaphor... our nation is lost, then what does that say about the ideals? Are they lost as well? (No). And what is to be done with those ideals then?

Same for Christianity. As you know, the reason I left the church had nothing to do with Christ or Christ Consciousness. Rather the extreme lack of it in the institutions to which I was witness. Obviously Christ lives on and I found Him again through a wee Hindu man named Paramahansa Yogananda.

Or maybe personally to either of us. I have been snickering to myself as recent years sure have ripped the material away from me. And yet this has been a true blessing to my personal development. I'm pretty pared down now, and yet this is the best place I've been as an adult I believe. No money, no property, and age moving in fast, yet I'm smarter and more real now. I imagine the same for you as well.

This is a great suggestion for thought today and I thank your guides or whoever whispered it in your ear. And thank you for sharing.

Is Lost really lost? Or is Lost really Found? 

This may require a glass of tequila.


So I have much to ponder.


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