Sunday, May 30, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Decisions, decisions: Christianity and Erotic scenes

Okay, so there I am trying to write an erotic novel which my friend is editing for some Scottish publisher. A good opportunity, no? But can I -- a Christian-- write an erotic novel?

Well, I tried. I think I failed to be as raunchy as it could be. It's a Dirty Blues antho, after all. But also, I tend to like eroticism that has little to do with folks being undressed. The scene on the ferris wheel in East of Eden, the umbrella scene in Diva. Longing, sexual need, etc, is right for me. Not the obviousness of naked folks lying together doing acrobatics. Besides I hate writing descriptions of procedures...and dang! erotic scenes are nothing if not procedurals with Tab A being fitted snugly into slot B.

So, anyway, I wrote the story. And of course it's one of those "religion vs sex" situations with a little May December yellow fever thing going on.  Plus my big issue: Christians judging someone and yet not really knowing how to judge that other person's life (yeah, it's one of my big axes.) The thing is that many judgmental Christians are theologically right but within their own hearts is such lack of love for others that the "evil" person they're judging is "more sinned against than sinning." So, my main character chooses to have pre-marital sex with the hot neighbor because she has bad insomnia and incredible fatigue and only sex can help. I hear some judgmental folks saying, "Yeah, right! That doesn't happen!" Oh? Doesn't it?

I'll just say that in a house where extreme tiredness -- physical, spiritual, and emotional-- is the norm...and where sex is used more for medicine than for any kind of fun....I often wonder (if I were to outlive my husband) how I would survive without him being there to use sex to get me to sleep. So I felt for my main character. I also made her a recluse because being sick makes a person a recluse, and being judged by theologically-minded friends who don't understand one's illness also makes one a recluse.

So the thematic issue is no longer: "Is she being sinful by sleeping with this kid she isn't married to?" It now becomes: "Is her friend right to judge her for this?" And also, "Would I rather she A) enter into a quick loveless marriage (so she can sleep) or B) live without sleep forever and die early but still retain her saintly sexless purity?"  There is also the question of: "Is her return to a life connected to humanity a return to love toward her neighbors?" She had been so cold to others in the world because they had been cold to her. So isn't the movement toward loving and caring for one's neighbor a move forward in her Christianity, although the extra-marital sex is a move backward?

I don't want any reader using the circumstances of this story to go into other areas such as is "adultery being okay" or "being gay is okay." The set-up in this story is one I understand and so I was exploring it. The story is not theologically true in any way shape or fiction is not really about theological dogmatic truth (unless it's Christian romantic fiction published by the Christian Booksellers Assn.)

Anyway, I realized I couldn't write the story any other way. If I were holier, I probably could have her decide to endure lifelong pain and forego the hottie and the sex. If I were really holy, I could write something miraculous in which she is healed of the sickness so she wouldn't need to sin in order to get some sleep.  But such as I am...and with my own limited experiences of miracles... what I have written, I have written.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Guide to literary agents critique contest

Okay, Guide to literary agents is having a critique contest. Every little bit helps, right?

To be eligible to submit: 

Have a completed unpublished adult fantasy or scifi novel
Send the first 150-200 words to the email addy provided. And a one-sentence logline.

Then there's the networking part:
1) Mention and link to this contest twice through your social media—blogs, Twitter, Facebook; or 
2) just mention this contest once and also add Guide to Literary Agents Blog to your blogroll. 

Please provide link(s) so the judge can verify eligibility!

Now to figure out a logline for CT

So, yeah, I'm sending Constant Tower's first 200 words.

Knowing Christ Today: Why We Can Trust Spiritual Knowledge

Dallas Willard (HarperOne)

  • Hardcover: 256 pages

  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1 edition (May 26, 2009)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 0060882441

  • ISBN-13: 978-0060882440

  • Thursday, May 13, 2010

    The God I Don't Understand: Reflections on Tough Questions of Faith Christopher J. H. Wright (Zondervan)

    The God I Don't Understand: Reflections on Tough Questions of Faith 
    Christopher J. H. Wright (Zondervan)

  • Hardcover: 224 pages

  • Publisher: Zondervan (January 1, 2009)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 0310275466

  • ISBN-13: 978-0310275466

  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 

  • Here's the blurb:

    Product Description

    If we are honest, we have to admit that there are many things we don’t understand about God, especially in the face of terrible suffering and evil. Chris Wright offers reflections and encouragement from the Scriptures, so that those who are troubled by these tough questions can still sustain their faith.

    From the Back Cover

    If we are honest, we have to admit that there are many things we don’t understand about God. We do not have final answers to the deep problems of life, and those who say they do are probably living in some degree of delusion. There are areas of mystery in our Christian faith that lie beyond the keenest scholarship or even the most profound spiritual exercises. For many people, these problems raise so many questions and uncertainties that faith itself becomes a struggle, and the very person and character of God are called into question. Chris Wright encourages us to face up to the limitations of our understanding and to acknowledge the pain and grief they can often cause. But at the same time, he wants us to be able to say, like the psalmist in Psalm 73: “But that’s all right. God is ultimately in charge and I can trust him to put things right. Meanwhile, I will stay near to my God, make him my refuge, and go on telling of his deeds.”

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    Loic, Psal, Ben...and me

    Yes, yes, it's been years since I updated this blog. Sorry about that. 

    Anyway, been doing some tweaking on Constant Tower. Mostly putting in descriptions and making the dialog sound more contemporary. Really trying to avoid the pseudo high-falutin fantasy yoda-speak. Not quite sure if it's a religious book and that's why I'm having trouble with it (because I'm subconsciously avoiding the religious issue) or if I have yet to discover something essential about that middle section. Will see. Anyway, I got to thinking about the characters and about my isolation issues, pondering the differences between my various characters and how they connect to me. 

    So, for your enjoyment.... as if you have nothing better to do. 

    Loic and Psal had rejection issues. Loic had perceived rejection issues. I don't know where he got the idea that no one loved him. I suppose he was way oversensitive to something. The say some kids are permanently wounded by something done quite unintentionally on the parent's part. That's how I see him. He's sensitive but he keeps it hidden under a personality that keeps its distance from people. He doesn't seek their love at all. And he's arrogant and belligerent. He doesn't allow anyone close to him and he falls in love with Satha because he sees her kind action to a stranger. He says to himself, "She'll be kind to me." So he falls in love with her. The woman he loves is also somewhat outside the world but nevertheless she is honored by the world. It's only her family she has issues with because they think she's too dark. She and Loic have family issues. Loic has no best friends and looks to his descendants to be his family; he wants to form a clan of his own. Loic is ill and believes in the Creator but has a problem with the spirits. Loic has a best friend who died and another best friend who is a developmentally disabled old woman.

    Psal on the other hand is truly rejected.  His clan DOES dislike him. His clan does reject him. And the more they reject him the more he seeks their love. Except he can't quite do what they want him to do to actually get that love...which is: he has to be cold to the weak and stop being so dang sensitive and peevish about everything. He can't do this, which makes them avoid him. He falls in love with the first  girl because she falls in love with him. He is willing to marry the second girl because she seems so desperate and she might be pregnant so he can protect her. And he falls in love with Maharai because she is in emotional distress because she has been removed from and misses her own clan and has been placed in a world that is racially different from hers. Just as Psal is racially different from his clan.   (Although racism as such doesn't matter in this story. The races get along, the tribes do not.) Psal wants to just leave his clan and to form a longhouse of his own with two the friends he has. The people of his eime his wife and the other husband of the clan. But he still wants to remain part of the Wheel Clan. (First he just wanted to escape but afterward he decided he still wanted his clan to love him. So he is determined that AFTER his clan is formed and strong, he will be equal to the rest of the Wheel Clan, a chief in his own rights. His longhouse would be a safe home within the clan, a refuge from the cruel world. Psal is ill and does not believe in the spirits. Maharai's brother was murdered and he rmother taken from her, Maharai's mother has adopted an emotionally wounded lost child.

    Ben is not rejected but he's outside the world. He is the perpetual stranger, the perpetual tourist...and he doesn't want it any other way. He has no desire to be part of the larger world. He has friends but they too are outside the world. Like Loic he is rich and healthy, like Psal he has his own little group around him. Except that unlike Loic and Psal, the woman he loves doesn't like his inner sanctum. And like Psal and Loic, he has also fallen in love with a woman who is outside her world. They are different races. But both have their own little group of friends. Her friends are mental and emotional exiles...and poor. His friends are cultural, artistic and emotional exiles. Ben is kind to everyone and perhaps likes everyone, Denise is kind to everyone and distrustful. Neither of them are physically ill but they are emotionally ill. Ben is recovering from the suicide of his brother and Denise takes care of an ill autistic brother and has to deal with the spirits. 

    The women are always poor, the men are often ill, the women are always religious, the women are always dark-skinned. (Husband is quite healthy in real life. And husband isn't Native American or Asian. Husband is white. But after a white minister's white wife told me she didn't want to read of romances where her race was muddied by black people, I figured all my books with Christian interracial couples will have non-white men. Why give them a reason not to read the book. YEAH, I'm still bitter. But I am TRYING to like White Christians, right?) 
    All my issues, alas.  Race, health, religion, group mind, rejection, etc. 

    Trying to sort through the various stuff I'll have to speak on in the sessions at       Already spoke on the non-western viewpoint session. Next sessions are: Christian Speculative Fiction. And Writing while disabled. Then the last will be Race 101


    Saturday, May 08, 2010

    Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation

    Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation 
    James K. A. Smith (Baker Academic)

  • Paperback: 238 pages

  • Publisher: Baker Academic (August 1, 2009)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 0801035775

  • ISBN-13: 978-0801035777

  • Here's the blurb:

    Malls, stadiums, and universities are actually liturgical structures that influence and shape our thoughts and affections. Humans--as Augustine noted--are "desiring agents," full of longings and passions; in brief, we are what we love. James K. A. Smith focuses on the themes of liturgy and desire in Desiring the Kingdom, the first book in what will be a three-volume set on the theology of culture. He redirects our yearnings to focus on the greatest good: God. Ultimately, Smith seeks to re-vision education through the process and practice of worship. Students of philosophy, theology, worldview, and culture will welcome Desiring the Kingdom, as will those involved in ministry and other interested readers.

    From the Back Cover

    A Philosophical Theology of CulturePhilosopher James K. A. Smith reshapes the very project of Christian education in Desiring the Kingdom. The first of three volumes that will ultimately provide a comprehensive theology of culture, Desiring the Kingdom focuses education around the themes of liturgy, formation, and desire. Smith's ultimate purpose is to re-vision Christian education as a formative process that redirects our desire toward God's kingdom and its vision of flourishing. In the same way, he re-visions Christian worship as a pedagogical practice that trains our love.
    "James Smith shows in clear, simple, and passionate prose what worship has to do with formation and what both have to do with education. He argues that the God-directed, embodied love that worship gives us is central to all three areas and that those concerned as Christians with teaching and learning need to pay attention, first and last, to the ordering of love. This is an important book and one whose audience should be much broader than the merely scholarly."--Paul J. Griffiths, Duke Divinity School
    "In lucid and lively prose, Jamie Smith reaches back past Calvin to Augustine, crafting a new and insightful Reformed vision for higher education that focuses on the fundamental desires of the human heart rather than on worldviews. Smith deftly describes the 'liturgies' of contemporary life that are played out in churches--but also in shopping malls, sports arenas, and the ad industry--and then re-imagines the Christian university as a place where students learn to properly love the world and not just think about it."--Douglas Jacobsen and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen, Messiah College; authors of Scholarship and Christian Faith: Enlarging the Conversation
    "This is a wise, provocative, and inspiring book. It prophetically blurs the boundaries between theory and practice, between theology and other disciplines, between descriptive analysis and constructive imagination. Anyone involved in Christian education should read this book to glimpse a holistic vision of learning and formation. Anyone involved in the worship life of Christian communities should read this book to discover again all that is at stake in the choices we make about our practices."--John D. Witvliet, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship; Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary

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