Saturday, February 26, 2011

Writing qualms: Christian worldview versus Christian moral view

I had a bit of stress writing Constant Tower because I had to separate Christian worldview from Christian moral view. I had to do it in Wind Follower as well when I gave one man two wives...but Christians and the world are used to that kind of thing. But the other way woman with two husbands. Well, some folks didn't like it...and some folks (when this book is published) will have problems with it. I also had to create a very savage world.

The problem with a lot of fantasy --especially Christian fantasy-- is that they really like the "romance" of the prototype, the Arthurian legends, courtly love and all that. But  although I totally have read those ancient tomes and the Arthurian cycle  from the French, German and English medieval writers, I'm not so attached to them that I can't change them around. Let's face it, I'm black, I like tribal folklore pagan writings. And I am very suspicious of all that European courtly love.

The typical Christian novel tends to have a Christian moral viewpoint. Even Christian fantasies about elves and other worlds have that moral viewpoint. The aim of many Christian novels, fantasy or otherwise, is to bring the person to the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Not to the tre of life, mind you.) They say they want to show Christ...but the legalism is so heavy and the goal of rewarding the good and bringing the bad to see the light..that there is heavy slogging through moral rightness.

In the world of the Constant Tower, the planet of Odunao has a different moral standard. The Clan the reader spends most of his/her time with is pretty atheistic or at least pragmatic rationalists. The laws given to that planet by its creator are similar to those our Creator gave to us but not wholly similar. Their Creator, for instance, doesn't say anything about how many wives a person has. For me the distancing of  the Odunao moral viewpoint from the Earth viewpoint is important because I really think we Christians must be aware that the Mosaic law was given to the Jews but the rest of the world was given the law of Noah and the commandments given to Adam and Eve. In addition, there is the tao of the ten commandments. EVERY culture knows not to have someone else's wife/husband, not to steal, lie, etc. (And remarkably, lying is rarely done in Odunao. The characters would not really think to do it...because there is little chance the lie would succeed or that they would be punished for telling the truth, no matter how devastating the truth is.) When Christians go out to save the world, they often forget that we are to bring the tree of life, not the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

But they also forget the supernatural. And the Christian worldview is very supernatural. True, many denominations especially the Baptists have been so affected by the Greek rationalistic philosophies infused into the church and want to create a rationalistic world and want to put the supernatural aside. But the Bible is full of the supernatural. Mediums, demons, angels, abound. There is a ladder joining heaven and earth, the eyes of man are opened so they can dream dreams and see visions.

So it was very hard for me to write a marriage between a girl and two boys. Fear of christians. And it was very hard for me to include the religious/supernatural in the story. Fear of rationalists and fear of Christians. But I managed. Will see. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Day full of Godwinks, a Week Full of Divine Love

A day full of godwinks! It's like everywhere I turn I feel God's if he's saying,, "I know what you're working on and I'll bless it." Very strange day but wow! It gives me peace. 

Last night I was lying in bed and thinking that I needed an epigram for my new novel. For those not in the writing biz, an epigram is the quotation you put at the beginning of a novel. I hadn't really thought about an epigram in a while because I figured I had one already: "Here we have no permanent city." But last night, I got to pondering.

Constant Tower is about weakness, a weak hero vilified in a world (and genre) which worships strength and male beauty. The isolation of the main character, his woundedness, his rejection from his clan, his weepiness... well, yeah: Christ Figure!

American Christians don't usually think about Jesus as an isolated wounded weepy being. They like manly individual isolation but not weakness or even ugliness. (Although, wimp that I am, I made Psal handsome...yeah, all the women love him -- not that he sees that.)

So anyways.....the thought was on my mind over and over... and I thought of the two verses: 

"And they will say to him, 'What are these wounds in your hands?' And he will say 'Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends?'"


"He was a despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief and we hid as it were our faces from him."

Because my main character Psal is a wounded healer and a First Born born to save his people.

So I've been downloading worship songs. This morning out of the blue for no particular reason I came down stairs and when I sat down the Isaiah 53:3 verse came. That was soooo like God making me feel and know that He was aware of my story, that He was aware of my feelings of rejection, that He was loving on me.  Then I went upstairs watched American Idol on DVR then came down again and decided to download more songs. Then I decided just then to listen to one of the songs I had downloaded (and believe me the title didn't give it away) the song began with Isaiah 53:3

In addition, a few days ago, God showed his care for us.  Luke and Gabe went driving around at dusk as they usually do. Usually, they drive about in the woods in the middle of nowhere. But on that night, he and Gabe went driving and went to a park. They try to get out of one gate, the gate is closed. They try another gate, the park is closed. They try another gate, the park is closed. He drives up to the police station in the park which is located near the pool. The police station is closed. A guy rolls up after about 15 or 20 minutes. The guy is like the key master. He says to my husband, "you know this park closes at dusk."
Hubby says, "I know. I thought it was dusk."
The guy says, "Are you drinking?"
Hubby says, "I don't drink."
The guy says, that he's not supposed to be there but had come back for some reason or other and did hubby know that if he hadn't come, they would;ve been stuck in the park all night.
Then guy says, "okay, meet me around the other gate."

Hubby goes to car but our car simply REFUSES to work. It's totally broken down and flat out not working. For absolutely no reason. Key guy looks at hubby like he's nuts. But then calls tow service. 

If hubby had been on the road, who knows what would have happened! This is a true blessing, not an evil act but it looks more like God being protective of  us. Am just so happy at God's faithfulness.

The day before that, God also saved Gabe from getting the beatdown by sending a neighbor's hubby  outside just in time to save Gabe from the guys whose car he kicked. 

We must so stay in the word to keep feeling His nearness. It's the living word that does the work in us.

What a lovely father we have! I know some folks will be offended to think that God wants to take care of us like a doting dad. They believe, "God helps those who helps themselves." and "we must pull ourselves up by our bootstraps" and "look after ourselves." But while all that is somewhat true, it's only partially true. "It is not in man who walks to direct his steps." Everyone on earth walks in darkness, like sheep not knowing their way. God's is the shepherd who knows the path. His spirit is the candle within us, and His word is a light to our path. In heaven, when we won't have to deal with sin, disease, evil, accidents...we can be fully grown beings and adults. But right now we need God to lead and direct us every step of the way. 

Praise my lovely God!

So, am hoping to finish editing the last chapters today and then put the book away for the next coupla months. Then will return to it with fresh eyes and repair it. In the meantime, I'll be working on Night Wife. Yeah, demon lover territory.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

God's annoying ggenerosity

Recently, I was lying in bed and the Holy Spirit brought this verse to my mind:
"Is your eye evil because I'm good?" Loose translation: Are you angry with me because I'm good to others.

Well, I thought about it but since I didn't want to think about it, I didn't think about it too much. But the Holy Spirit was persistent and led my husband to the same verse through one of those annoying Godly coincidences. So, I thought: "Well, I could assume this is just a co-incidence or I could assume it's meant specifically for me. It might be God hinting to me about my illness or some other issue in our lives."

This verse occurs in the parable found at Matthew 20:15

Theologically, the verse means that God will be just to everyone but he will be merciful to whoever He wills to show mercy to. God is not unfair.

But spiritually, in my personal situation, it was God inviting me to release some people from my judgment of them. The world is full of people who were not as good or hard-working as we were. Even though we are all sinners, there are some folks who are really really bad sinners. We all break the law of God if we break one part of the law. All are lawbreakers, but all are not equally evil. A little kid who lies is not as evil as Hitler or Stalin for instance.

The feeling in this parable is one of woundedness and injustice. The workers who were hired early in the day did a lot of work. They were getting a generous pay for their work. Later, a few hours later, other workers were hired and were also given the same pay. These also got the same pay rate: The denarius. Heaven. The joy of being hired to work in the Lord's field. Then there were the folks at the end.

Now, although the situation isn't exactly paralleled to my situation, I saw what the Lord meant. I have a tendency to be very upset when one who has hurt me is blessed. My brother-in-law was very racist toward me and on the day my husband and I got married, he told me off. Yep, I got a nasty tongue-lashing from a racist evil brother-in-law an hour after my wedding telling me he didn't want me to taint his family. I've had other crap from other folks along my life's journey. And honestly, it has left me with a real anger at God's kindness to such people. Imagine having to stuff one's anger down when one's unemployed husband gives money to his equally unemployed brother when all one wanted to do was scream! Hubby's family was so cruel to me that fibromyalgia popped up and ill health. Yet, they have remained healthy.

When i heard he had a baby, I was so pissed. Why would God bless them with a healthy baby when they were so scornful and racist about me and my baby? To see someone who has not borne the heat of the day receive blessing from God is hard. So far, I've managed to pray for their finances, their health, etc...but it's been hard as heck to pray for their salvation. Truly, although I believe in hell, I don't feel any great need to prevent my in-laws from going there. To "get the Lord's wages at the end of the day," so to speak.

But I felt as if God was reminding me that being angry with God because of His goodness to people I can't stand is indulging in legalism. And, as St Paul says, once we start judging another, we are no longer under grace but under law. So, although I am a Christian who totally believes in grace... because of this resentment at God for His kindness to cruel people, for "good things happening to bad people" I had fallen out of the kingdom of God's dear son and into the kingdom of darkness. St Paul told the Galatians that whoever is under legalism and under the law is cursed. Any tiny amount of judgment on our part shows us to be still using a measuring stick that measures worth.

Anyway, I repented of this attitude and asked God to free me from the wounds caused that makes me so angry at him. (Let's face it: some of the "good" people in the Bible are people one would not want to really befriend. Abram giving his wife away and sending his young son out into the desert to die and using his slave woman as a sexual slave. Not to mention David who killed the adopted sons of his ex-wife Michal because he could.) But a theistic personal God has His own personality...or else He would not be a true being...and we must take that personality the way we find it.

Hard though it is, I shall have to like it when good things happen to really bad people. Am just hoping I don't deal with anymore creeps. It's enough of a struggle not judging one's enemy but it's hard as heck not to judge God. (Just saying, Lord! You know I love you. But speaking the truth in love. ;-)

Matthew 20 (King James Version)

 1For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
 2And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
 3And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
 4And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.
 5Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
 6And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?
 7They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
 8So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.
 9And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
 10But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
 11And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,
 12Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
 13But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
 14Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
 15Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
 16So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

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