Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Postcolonial Reconfigurations: An Alternative Way of Reading the Bible and Doing Theology

Postcolonial Reconfigurations:: An Alternative Way of Reading the Bible and Doing Theology (Paperback)

R. S. Sugirtharajah
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Chalice Press (November 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0827229968
  • ISBN-13: 978-0827229969
The Blurb:
Collected essays exploring how to do theology (part one) and read the Bible (part two) when viewed through the eyes of oppressed peoples who have suffered - and continue to suffer - from western colonialism.

About the Author

R. S. Sugirtharajah is Professor of Biblical Hermeneutics, University of Birmingham. His most recent publications include: Postcolonial Criticism and Biblical Interpretation (2002), and The Bible and the Third World: Precolonial, Colonial and Postcolonial Encounters (2001).

Monday, April 26, 2010

White Cat by Holly Black

Holly Black is the bestselling author of the Spiderwick series. Her first book, Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale, was an ALA Top Ten Book for Teens, received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, and has been translated into twelve languages. Her second teen novel, Valiant, was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a Locus Magazine Recommended Read, and a recipient of the Andre Norton Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Her third teen novel, Ironside, the sequel to Tithe, was a New York Times bestseller. Her new novel, White Cat, is coming Summer 2010. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. Visit Holly at www.blackholly.com.

Margaret K. McElderry, May 2010
Hardcover, 320 pages
ISBN-10: 1416963960
ISBN-13: 9781416963967
Ages: 14 and up
Grades: 9 and up

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers -- people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail -- he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.
Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.
Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love -- or death -- and your dreams might be more real than your memories.

Weekend Movie-Viewing -- The Familyless-ness Edition

Saw two movies this weekend I really really really loved and one which will probably grow on me. Films that were sad throughout but which ended with joy, healing, communication, and triumph.

The first was 3-Iron. A movie in which we hear no dialog from the main characters and yet there's perfect communication going.

When the story begins, the main male character (who is nameless throughout) is seen entering a house, eating, hanging out, showering. Turns out it's not his house. He lives anchored to any family, any town, any person and survives by breaking into houses and living in them while their inhabitants are out of town. He has a very slick way of determining who is/is not at home.  He picks wealthier houses and one day he enters a house where a battered woman (equally nameless, I think) lives. He goes about doing his usual stuff, not realizing she's watching him, intrigued and somewhat numb from her life.

After a while, she makes herself known and they silently form a marriage of sorts. (Over two days, I think.) He's a perfect house-husband, cleaning and tidying and tending to her in a gentle caring way. And she is a perfect kind of wife for him. When her husband returns to abuse her even more, they run away together and continue their lives of moving through houses.

Now, we know the woman's immediate history somewhat. She's a model and her volatile husband thinks that his life of wealth, status, influence, and position is payment enough for abusing her. Yep, he pretty much thinks he owns her. The woman's probably learned silence by having her soul intruded on. Being a model and being looked at as art by some, by something to masturbate on by others. (Heck, you never know!) But never being seen as herself and tired of explaining herself. She also has been silenced. The male hero, on the other hand, doesn't own anything. Nor is he interested in wealth, position, rootedness or influence. Anyways, why is hero this way? Lord knows. He seems sane enough. He's homeless but clean and obviously was someone's good son.

Okay, maybe not obviously...just my opinion. And everything about this guy is conjecture. Why isn't he anchored to anything? Why doesn't he choose to connect to the world at large? Why does he want to be part of the family --taking photos of himself standing beside the pictures of the houses' owners-- and yet not be part of a family? Why does he not want to influence anything except for the good and in secret? He has all this energy -- a need to golf-- but restrains the energy by restraining the golf ball. (Kinda wish I understood golf so I could get why it's 3-iron and not 7-iron. Is there such a thing as a 7-iron?) Perhaps he has some guilt about his existence or his influence on people...and maybe that's why he's avoiding life. What is he running away from? Why doesn't he want to be seen or known or connect? Yet, he does not steal and repairs the stuff in peoples' houses. But even in this night-elven way of secretly doing good. Either he repairs the stuff in folks' homes as repayment for the night stay or he has a need to do no harm and to influence for good. Gotta say thought that he is not entirely without influence on the lives of others. Because when he allows himself --once that we see-- to do something unrestrained, it leads to harm. And in the first few scenes, we see that his influence for good can also lead to harm he knows nothing about. Basically, one's influence is seen and felt  -- and does harm-- even if one tries to only do good. Life's weird that way.

Love this movie, loved this movie. Loved the silence.  And why? Because to live in life all we need are food and shelter. To live life happily we also need someone to love us and understand us. But in the modern world it's hard for to be entirely untethered from the rest of humanity. Government and society, etc. Hard to be a hermit. Someone's money has to provide for food and shelter. And yes, the film ends happily!!!! Ta-da! Some stuff you have to accommodate. Love it.

Other film was My Eleventh Mother.

Wonderful, perfect, joyful manipulation! I cried four times through My 11th mother. I cried and cried and cried at the end. How perfectly that filmmaker pulled my poor little heart through the ringer. Must get some more tissues. What a great movie.

Basically, it's a kid surviving amid poverty and flaky parental life film. Not sure why Korea just excels in these films about kids with crappy life but wow! Yeah, I know... I'm gushing. Jae-su is a little kid, maybe ten or so, who lives with his gambler dad. Gambler dad believes a house needs a woman and is always bringing women home to be Jae-su's mom. (These women inevitably leave.) Jae-su's real mom has long since departed. When Gambler dad brings the eleventh Mom into their lowly house, the viewer can see that Jae-su expects the usual. 

But they become emotionally connected. I"n time, too. Because Jae-su needs a mom (or a memory of a mom) in order to make him live a happy adult life. And eleventh mom needs to love and to be loved before she -- yeah, it's a Korean film so you know what's coming...no spoiler here-- dies. 

I'm a wuss. Any movie about poverty, any movie about suffering kids...and well, it's pretty much a given that I'll like it. So.....I looved this movie.

The third film is Calla. It doesn't exactly fit into the familyless-ness theme but I watched it so... I'll include it. It's a travel-back-in-time to get matters right thriller romance. Well, actually it's a romance with pretensions of thrillerhood. 

Guy (played by way, way, way hot Song Seung-Heon) sees a beautiful woman on a bus and is kinda attracted to her. They kinda pass each other here and there and then he starts getting flowers, a calla lily, on his desk each morning. The girl works in a flower shop. Now, as I've said more times than I care to remember, folks in love in Korea seem to be inordinately shy. (Not like yours truly who is more of a recluse and extremely wounded inept social type with rejection issues...no this is shyness of that peculiarly Korean character.  The kind of shyness on which thrillers like this turn.)

Upshot? The girl he's been trying to get the nerve up to declare his love to...is murdered. He's devastated. But I must add that there is hope. After all, a tear, a wish, and a locket can work time-travel magic if you wish hard enough. And so he finds himself tossed back in time with the one purpose any true lover can have: he must save his unknown beloved. 

I'll say that if it weren't for the hotness of the lead character, I would've lost all patience with this flick. It ends well and has a neat twist so sitting through the suspension of disbelief was worth it. Ah, suspension of disbelief, what a lovely lovely lovely thing you are! Good for we religious types when the road gets rocky -- the power to consciously put doubt and fear aside-- and great for we movie-lover types who suddenly have to deal with a very quiet non-macho guy suddenly getting all Rambo on some drug dealer's butt. 

The funny thing is I was supposed to be fasting and praying this weekend. For the health, money, creativity, rejection, and untetheredness issues. I fasted but didn't pray. (Except at nighttime) Just was totally into movies. And yet, God was with me in these films. Kinda like when one repeats the lines of a favorite poem. The act of meditating on the poem is very like prayer. So there I was in the middle of Calla --fawning over extremely hot lead actor-- and up comes a godwink. I'd been working on a section in Life as an Onion when I had one character say: "It's all a matter of timing." And there in the comments section of the Calla site on AZNV is someone saying, "It's all a matter of timing." I smiled. Felt very loved. God with us even in our silly secularities. So... all the movies I watched turned out to be there to heal my soul.

All in all, a wonderful weekend of film-viewing.

My cinematic Brother James  who wrote a review on 3-Iron on amazon clued me into this site. http://aznv.tv/?p=home
Free Asian movies. You have to register and download winamp the first time and then you're good to go.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Christianity in China

Weekend Movie-Viewing -- the unusual influences in teenagers' lives edition

Okay, so teenage life is hard enough. Either run-of-the-mill and lacks impetus or meaning, or some intrusion outside the norm happens. Whether it's falling in love with an older woman or battling a demon because of love, it is love that gives life meaning. And what is a teenager to do with these unexpected events except to go with it? If he is looking for passion and meaning, he'll go for it. If he isn't looking for passion, that hardly matters, a gentler kind of passion will find him.

Don't Laugh at My romance

Negative Happy Chainsaw Edge

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Flow Through Me, Holy Spirit (Navajo Lyrics)

Dark Parable: waking and waking and waking

I dreamed I was sleeping and there were East Indian demons trying to get at me. I struggled to get out of the dream and thought I woke up. But I woke inside another dream. Tried to get out of that one and realized there were layers of dreams and had to get out and be truly awake. Then the Lord showed me His light shining through and that where His light was the dreaming would stop. I realized that if I thought and spoke God's word about light that God's light would push the false dreaming that the east indian gods had put on me.

I realized that I should pray that God's light would pierce the darkness and to speak verses about God's light so my brain and my family's brain wouldn't be affected by the demons and so we could dream the dreams God wanted to give us.

I didn't know if it was something in my house that had opened the house to east indian gods. This is the third dream I've had about east indians and Christianity.

I woke up and fell asleep and dreamed again. This time I was cooking in an oven and messed up the oven so that it could only give me two channels. It wasn't my oven so I told the man I'd pay for the damage. There was also something about a school trip/experiment. When I woke up, I said to my husband, "How is like an oven like a TV set with channels?"

Then I realized the dream was talking about what we digest. God's been really hammering away at me about not returning to watching TV because a lie of some kind will soon be on TV -- whether church channels or the world-- and it would fool even the very elect.

We have to keep in the light so we don't fall asleep and think we're awake. Am also wondering if there's anything in the house I should get rid of.

Possible interpretation:
To me East Indians and Hinduism represents syncretism. There is something good about wholeness and holistic stuff... and yet I don't know...maybe that's what God is talking about ...that we have to be so careful about that wrong kind of syncretism. Interesting how the gospel of Thomas and the Indian type of Christianity has that weird gnostic thing. And the weird kundalini anointings that have been popping up in churches. Very Todd Bentleyesque. Whatever it is, I'm being very careful. I used to think that I have such discernment I wouldn't be deceived. But Jesus said, "if it were possible the deception would fool even the very elect." Not sure if I'm elect or not, although I'm sure I'm going to heaven (at this point in my life, anyway) and I DO NOT wish to risk being deceived. You can't really prepare yourself not to be deceived. We have to pray that God's light and word awaken us. So many times we think we're awake. We say, "okay, I'm saved now." Then we learn a little more and say, "okay, I'm saved now." Then we (learn) wake a little more and say, "okay, I'm not as asleep as I once was." But more and more I'm seeing the depths of my own darkness and the church's darkness and how easily one can think one is awake when one is really asleep. So am definitely being very careful and discerning in what the TV -- secular or christian-- sends my way. Watching what gets put into my oven.


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

S. E. Cupp warns that we are LOSING OUR RELIGION

S. E. Cupp

  • Hardcover: 288 pages

  • Publisher: Threshold Editions (April 27, 2010)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 1439173168

  • ISBN-13: 978-1439173169

  • Here's the blurb:
    "The press has become a tool of oppression—politicized, self–aware, self–motivated, and power–hungry. . . . In short, these people can no longer be trusted." —From S. E. Cupp’s Losing Our Religion

    It’s time to wake up and smell the bias. The go-to commentator for such programs as Fox News’s Hannity and CNN’s Larry King Live and Reliable Sources, S. E. Cupp is just that—a reliable source for the latest news, trends, and forecasts in young, bright, conservative America. Savvy and outspoken when shattering left-leaning assumptions as she did in Why You’re Wrong About the Right, Cupp now takes on the most pressing threat to the values and beliefs held and practiced by the majority of Americans: the marginalizing of Christianity by the flagrantly biased liberal media.

    From her galvanizing introduction, you know where S. E. Cupp stands: She’s an atheist. A non-believer. Which makes her the perfect impartial reporter from the trenches of a culture war dividing America and eroding the Judeo-Christian values on which this country was founded. Starting at the top, she exposes the unwitting courtship of President Obama and the liberal press, which consistently misreports or downplays Obama’s clear discomfort with, or blatant disregard for, religious America—from covering up religious imagery in the backdrop of his Georgetown University speech to his absence from events surrounding the National Day of Prayer, to identifying America in his inaugural address as, among other things, "a nation of non-believers." She likens the calculated attacks of the liberal media to a class war, a revolution with a singular purpose: to overthrow God and silence Christian America for good. And she sends out an urgent call for all Americans to push back the leftist propaganda blitz striking on the Internet, radio, television, in films, publishing, and print journalism—or invite the tyrannies of a "mainstream" media set on mocking our beliefs, controlling our decisions, and extinguishing our freedoms.

    Now, discover the truth behind the war against Christmas—and how political correctness keeps the faithful under wraps . . . the one-sided analyses of Prop 8 and the gay marriage debate . . . the media pot-shots at Sarah Palin’s personal faith . . . the politicization of entertainment mainstays such as American Idol and the Miss USA Pageant . . . and much more. Also included are her penetrating interviews with Dinesh D’Souza, Martha Zoller, James T. Harris, Newt Gingrich, Kevin Madden, and Kevin Williamson of National Review, delivering must-read analyses of the latest stunning lowlights from the liberal media.

    About the Author
    S.E. CUPP is a regular guest commentator on MSNBC, CNN, C-SPAN, and Fox News Channel programs including Hannity, Larry King Live, The Joy Behar Show, Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld, Geraldo and Reliable Sources. A nationally published political columnist and culture critic, she is currently an online columnist for the New York Daily News and senior writer at The Daily Caller. She coauthored Why You're Wrong About the Right with Brett Joshpe. Visit www.redsecupp.com

    Tuesday, April 06, 2010

    Discovering more about Onion

    My post on false notes appears at blogging in black today. If you read that...you'll see what's going on.

    Here's the post:
    While working on my YA, I almost added a personality trait to a secondary character which would’ve taken the novel down a different route and – in the composition of the novel-- added a false note.

    False notes happen when a certain event, character trait, or scene in a novel simply jangles with the rest of the novel. A writer can often get over with false notes and still write a viable novel but it will not be the novel her soul set out to write.

    But in my experience, false notes happen when the writer has lost track of what her story was originally about, or simply never understood the theme of her story in the first place.

    The first thing one must remember in writing is that the author very often doesn’t know what the narrator is writing about. Plain and simply, this means we really don’t know what a story is about. Those who set out to write a formulaic story, or a preachy Christian story, or worked from an outline at the beginning of a story, are aware of what they are writing. But if one has simply sat down at a computer and allowed the first draft of a story to spill out, one doesn’t know what one’s soul is talking about. It’s been said that a writer discovers a story in the first draft. But often it takes three or four drafts – plus a long conversation with an astute writing friend—to finally see what has been before us all the time.

    Many writers can get away with false notes, because
    a) their readers have been trained to think of certain stories in a certain way
    b) their readers just don’t read that deeply
    c) the writer has written the false note so compellingly that the original intent of the novel gets lost.
    d) The writer herself does not want to acknowledge her own inner conflicts that have brought about the story.
    e) The writer is a deep thinker but is too fearful, lazy, or tired to actually write the story the muse has given her.

    So if a reader or writer has been trained to believe that love stories happen in a particular way, anything the author’s subconscious muse might be saying to the contrary will not be seen by either the reader or the writer. The writer will create the false note and the reader will accept it as the story’s truth.

    The false notes feels off-key to a true lover of stories. It jangles. We have all been to movies where we find ourselves saying to our movie-going buddy, “What the heck just happened?” And either the movie-going buddy agrees with us or totally disagrees. I remember watching a film made by a feminist woman filmmaker. It was a history of her family and in the voice-over, the narratore kept saying how ignorant and unenlightened her father was but dang! Every scene with the mother was cold and loveless. The filmmaker didn’t seem to realize that despite all her mockery of the male figure, she was showing us his sweetness. At the end, when the credits rolled there was a total disconnect. Even the youngest kid would’ve told her that the ending just didn’t jive. Probably the only person who could’ve watched the film and not seen the false note would be another feminist.

    False notes tend to happy in films that are meant to have happy endings or which are meant to be polemic. So often I’ve raised my eyebrows at the end of a thirties heist film when the bad guy dies and the voiceover says that bad people are thugs and not heroes! Yet, the entire film was about how brave and cocky these gangsters were.

    So when do false notes creep in? A false note will creep in around the third draft when the author begins to think that certain traits should be added to certain characters. In my case, my character had two rivals for her affection. Both were good boys with interesting traits, but I wanted her with my main male character who was being quite unpleasant. I therefore had to find a way to make the other guy unpleasant. I figured I’d make him a racist. But this “evil sin dropped into a book in the middle of nowhere” just didn’t jive with my beta reader who had astutely seen what my narrator was talking about. In short, it didn’t matter how bad or how unpleasant my main male character was, my main female character was gonna love him no matter what. It was going to be a painful road for her, the readers would want to give her a good shake or throw the book down – but they were not going to be given the loophole of a false note. Essentially, the narrator of the story was writing a composition about devastating, sacrificial love for a possibly not-to-good person and I the author had not seen that my story was basically an unhappy tragic love story with a somewhat perverse ending.

    The best way to avoid false notes is to ask a good beta reader what the story is saying to them. Tell them to be brave and to tell you what they dislike or like about the main characters. Tell them not to think about marketability. All you need to know is what the narrator is telling you in this story. Is the narrator happy about the situation, bitter, hurt? After you’ve been told the gist of your story, then you the author will discover and know what the narrator and true composer already knows.

    Anyways, the more and more I work on Onion the more I discover about it. First I realized it's A) about her addiction to him as well as his addiction to drugs. Sure she's his sober companion but her love and attitude toward him isn't particularly sober or sane. B) It's about sexual orientation and what makes us fall in love with certain people and C) it's about the worship of external beauty that occurs in the main character's life because her harsh upbringing combined with her growing up watching way too much TV infused her with a Cinderella complex.

    I've made Ben a real person because I hate stories where the gorgeous guy turns out to be a jerk. I wanted Denise to have her Cinderella dream but I also wanted to examine it.

    So on the one hand it's a very Christian book because it explores the world, the flesh, and the devil --- how the media makes us worship beauty. But on the other hand, it's not exactly Christian because I really want to go deeply into this...and I don't think the Christian publishing world would want me to write about this -- especially when I talk about sexual shame. So.....

    Sunday, April 04, 2010

    Dark Parable: Birds that peck out the eye

    I dreamed I was walking on a path around early dusk. In the dream I remembered
    it from another dream and I remembered the warning that went with it. There was
    a gate from the field I was on which led to another field. I knew that very
    cruel birds watched that gate and whenever people stopped to open the gate to go
    from one field to the other the birds would take that small momentary
    opportunity while people waited to take out the eyes of the person.

    There was a way around to the other field. But I had gone there before in
    another dream and had managed to escape the birds so I figured I'd go this way
    again. Besides there was a shadowy figure looming just beyond the gate, pretty
    much beside it, and I thought it was my friend. So I figured: "why go the long
    way round? Take a chance."

    I saw a flock of these creepy birds -- black-- hovering but only one came down
    when he saw me approach the gate. He perched on a rock and waited.

    I was wearing a scarf/shawl and it was bundled on my head kind of messily, kinda
    hanging over my eyes and bunched up at the back. So I figured that would protect
    me. I also put my left hand over my cheek near my left eye so the eye would be

    I saw that the latch to the gate was closed and that I had to fiddle with it. So
    I tried to open it with my eyes closed and with my hand over my eyes. The bird
    started pulling at my scarf near my eye to yank it off. I could also feel him
    yanking away at the scarf near my neck. I kept fiddling with the latch...and I
    thought the gate was opened. I'm not sure, though. I remembering wondering why
    my friend wasn't helping me now that I was past the gate. Then I started
    wondering if it was my friend at all. Because the person was so shrouded and
    covered in dark clothing.


    I realized that the way I was covering my eyes in the dream...to open the latch to the unknown shadowed friend and yet to protect the eyes... is exactly how I read some emails from internet friends. Friends beyond the eye-gate (the monitor). You never know when you're going to get a nasty email from some touchy new cyber-friend. I think God was telling me to be careful. One can't spend one's time befriending folks and then being afraid of their oversensitive letters.

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