Quote of the Weekend

Drive On

I got a friend named Whiskey Sam
He was my boonierat buddy for a year in Nam
He said is my country just a little off track
Took ’em twenty-five years to welcome me back
But, it’s better than not coming back at all
Many a good man
I saw fall And even now,
every time I dream I hear the men
and the monkeys in the jungle scream

Drive on, don’t mean nothin’
My children love me , but they don’t understand
And I got a woman who knows her man
Drive on, don’t mean nothin’, drive on

I remember one night,
Tex and me Rappelled in on a hot L.Z.
We had our 16’s on rock and roll
But, with all that fire,
was scared and cold
We were crazy, we were wild
And I have seen the tiger smile
I spit in a bamboo viper’s face
And I’d be dead , but by God’s grace

Drive on, don’t mean nothin’
My children love me, but they don’t understand
And I got a woman who knows her man
Drive on, don’t mean nothin’, drive on

It was a real slow walk in a real sad rain
And nobody tried to be John Wayne
I came home, but Tex did not
And I can’t talk about the hit he got
I got a little limp now when
I walk Got a little tremolo when
I talk But my letter read from Whiskey Sam
You’re a walkin’ talkin’ miracle from Vietnam

Drive on, don’t mean nothin’
My children love me, but they don’t understand
And I got a woman who knows her man
Drive on, don’t mean nothin’, drive on
– Johnny Cash

(Who better to sing about Vietnam than the Man in Black?)

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A Texas Cousins Adventure: Here there be Dragons

Texas Cousins (Picture stolen from Liz)

Texas Cousins
(Picture stolen from Liz)

“Abby!” Ellie yelled running up on her plump baby legs all smiles. Aunt Abby scooped her up and spun her in the air. Several more voices chorused her name and Aunt Abby soon found herself surrounded by little people, most with blonde hair, but one with red, and one with dark brown. She hugged and kissed the many faces before sending them in to greet their grandparents and Great-Gran.

Several moms hurried off before their absence was notice. Boxes of raisins where handout, toys dragged into the living room, and a whirlwind of chaos created by the seven cousins.

“Tell us a story,” Jules said later in the day as they lay outside in the sun.

“Yes, a once upon a time story,” Bruce said. “About us.”

“With dragons,” Jules added.

Several oooohs and aaaahs followed Jules’ suggestion.

“Do you know what a dragon says?” Bruce asked.

“Do you?” Aunt Abby said.

“I am FIRE!” Bruce growled. “And they kinda look like lions.”

Aunt Abby smiled. “That is what they say Bruce. Okay, a story about dragons . . .”


Once upon a time, seven cousins had a slumber party –

“At my house?” Jules asked. “Cause I’m Party Girl?”

“I’m Party Girl, too,” Bruce said.

“Party Boy, ” Aunt Abby corrected. “Yes, it was at your house Jules.”

“Was I there?” Constance asked linking her arm through Jules’.

“Yes. You were there and so was Joshua, Imogene, Jude, and Ellie. Now back to the story.”

Once upon a time, seven cousins had a slumber party at Party Girl’s house. They played hide-and-go-seek, freeze tag, ate lots of yummy cookies, and then watched a movie. Finally, they were all put to bed. Joshua, Bruce, and Jude unrolled their sleeping bags covered in cars, trucks, and planes. Constance climbed in bed with Jules after emptying flowers, sticks, and rocks from her pockets. The two girls instantly started to whisper as only two little girls can. Ellie and Imogene shared Ellie’s bed and soon started a stuffed animal war with the boys.

After settling down again when several adults growled at them, the cousins slowly fell asleep.

“Not me!” said Joshua.

“Yes, Josh, even you fell asleep.”

“And me?” Ellie asked.

“Yep, each and every one of you fell asleep.”

The moon rose high in the sky and all the stars winked and twinkled around it. Suddenly! A door opened in Jules’ bedroom. Everyone woke up with a start. The door wasn’t where the door should be. It was on the other wall. Bruce, Joshua, and Jude leapt up. Ellie brandished a plastic sword and Constance a stick. Bruce and Joshua tugged toy guns out of the bottom of their sleeping bags and aimed them at the open door. Imogene pulled Jude up in their bed. They armed themselves with several stuffed animals.

“Wait!” Jules yelled holding out her arms.

A giant, black head with gold glowing eyes poked in the door. The seven cousins froze in fear.

“Good evening, children,” the head spoke. “I am Alchemist, a—”

“Dragon!” Bruce said.

“Yes, a dragon. I am a dragon.”

“Will you eat us?” Constance asked.

“Um, no. I’m not that kind of dragon.”

“What kind of dragon are you?” Jules asked.

“A sweet one?” asked Ellie?

“Are you pretty?” asked Imogene.

“He’s not pretty!” Bruce and Joshua said together. “He’s a dragon.”

“Well, I don’t know,” the dragon said with a glance down at himself. “I think I’m quiet fetching.”

“Mom says boys aren’t pretty,” Bruce said.

“We’re handsome,” said Joshua.

Jude nodded in agreement.

“I think he’s pretty,” said Jules.

“Enough of this,” the dragon said. “I need you children to come with me.”

“Why?” Bruce said.

“Because, my home is in danger, and you must save it.”

“Why?” Joshua said.

“Because only you seven can find the last dragon egg.”

“Why is it the last?” Jude asked.

“They have a bad case of the whys,” Imogene informed Alchemist.

“I see that,” Alchemist huffed. “Listen all of you. Seven cousins are required to find the last egg. It is just beyond our reach and we need you to help us. Will you come?”

“Yes!” said Constance jumping off the bed. Ellie quickly followed her.

“Then come through the door and climb on my back.”

The seven children hurried through the door, some on long legs, and some on short tottering legs, but all eager to see the dragon. They found themselves in a place filled with silver starlight and moonlight. It glinted on Alchemist’s black scales and large gray wings. The children gaped in wonder at the large dragon who bowed his head in appreciation of their awe.

“Do you breathe fire?” Bruce asked.

“Why do they always ask that?” Alchemist muttered to himself. Then more loudly, “Of course. All dragons breathe fire.”

“Can we see?” asked Imogene.

“No. You can climb on my back.”

The seven cousins, with Alchemist’s help, climbed up between the rows of scales on his back. With a flap of his great big wings, Alchemist took off. He flew high, high, high into the sky right towards the moon leaving the world far below them. Wind blew around the children whistling in their ears and teasing their hair. The cheered the dragon on as he flew. Jude waved his chubby arms. Imogene squealed and Constance laughed. Joshua and Bruce whooped and whooped while Jules clung to her scale not wanting to fall off. Ellie stood up and spread her arms wide as the dragon flew.


“And that’s where we’re going to stop today,” Aunt Abby said.

“What?” Jules said.

“No!” said Ellie.

“You’re going to stop there? But did we rescue the last egg?” Constance said.

“Why are you stopping there?” Bruce said.

Imogene’s lower lip came out in a perfect pout and Jude growled.

“Aunt Abby,” Joshua said, “finish the story.”

“I will, but this is part one. It’s a very long story. When you have a very long story sometimes you have to give the storyteller a break.”

“Why?” Bruce said.

“Cause storytelling is thirsty business.”

“If we get you a drink, will you finish the story?” Jules asked.

“Yes,” Aunt Abby said.

Seven cousins bounded to their feet racing to reach the back porch. They scrambled to find Grammie and a glass of water. Aunt Abby smiled to herself and tried desperately to figure out what happened next in the story.

…to be continued…

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(L-R: Joshua, Jules with her arm around Ellie, Constance, and Bruce.)

(L-R: Joshua, Jules with her arm around Ellie, Constance, and Bruce.)

Writing Lesson: Reading

1385917_10202312859570822_2002110902_nMy mom had a radical idea when I was a struggling student who couldn’t stand English, had little use for Math, and really didn’t understand Science . . .or, looking back as an adult . . . refused to apply herself to any of these fields. Once I got into college, I kept a 3.8 GPA and had no problems in my English, Math, or Science courses. But high school seemed to be a point in my life when I just didn’t care. So, my super awesome Mom did what she could to try to prepare me for my life as an adult. She encouraged the one thing I did love – reading. She figured I’d learn a fair amount of the English I needed just from seeing it over and over again. I guess she also figured that as long as I could read I could learn the other stuff when it became important to me. Funny enough, she was right.

I love to read. I love books. Libraries and Half-Price Bookstore are like walking into a room with all your favorite people just sitting around waiting for you. My smart phone lets me take books with me when I go workout without needing to lug a volume with me. And, there are so many good audio books out there that I can work and ‘read’ at the same time. I must live in reader heaven!

Somewhere along the way, I was inspired to take that love of reading and start writing. I fought this gift for quite a while, but God kept nudging me and pushing me towards it. I have now been writing for over ten years. I’m going to give you the same advice every writer gets. If you want to be a good writer, you need to be a good reader. (This is not one of those rules you can squeeze out of I promise you.)

You need to read. You need to read many things. You need to read in your genre, and you need to read outside it, especially outside it. You need to read classics and weekend reads. You need to explore new writers, new worlds, and new stories.

But! Don’t just read. Don’t just lay there like a limp noodle and let the words pass before your eyes without letting them affect you. Read as a writer. Do you think a sculptor goes and just looks at Michelangelo’s David with a passing glance? Do you think a composer listens to Beethoven’s 9th symphony with a casual enjoyment of the combination of notes? No! Of course not! They figuratively sit at the feet of these masters and learn. They take what they know already and see how the masters applied it. They bring their amateur expertise and use that to guide them as they study what the masters did. You can’t read the symphony unless you can already read music. See, they’ve moved past the basics, but that doesn’t mean they stop learning.

b669874132336e0b613e65b110726430

As writers, we must do the same. We must saturate ourselves with masters, old and new. How do we do this? What are we looking for?

1) Read with An Eye: Train your mind to pay attention to what you’re reading. Don’t let yourself just read. Watch sentence structure, timing, plot development, world building, beginning, and ends. Pay attention to what you read. How did the author use grammar to communicate ideas? How did they handle the pacing? How did they catch your attention? What was their first sentence? When did you realize you were hooked on the story? Did they choose 3rd person of 1st person POV? Why?

2) Rule Breaking: Watch for places the author breaks all the rules. When did they tell instead of show? When did they use an –ly, -ing, or past tense words? When did they use flashbacks? Think of all the rules you’ve ever been told as a writer and then read someone who has effectively broken them.

3) Plot, Dialogue, and Character Growth: Watch the dialogue of master story tellers. Look for ways they make each character unique. Pay attention to how they ratchet up the tension and reveal the plot. Watch the character development. Did the characters change all at once or slowly over time? How did they keep them differentiated? How many characters do they have? Can you keep them separate?

4) Think and Talk About It: After you’ve read a book, analyze it. Think through it. Find a trustworthy friend, share the book with them, discuss. Don’t just read it and go on. What touched you? What bored you? What brought you to tears, made you angry, or frustrated you? What scared you? What made you want to name your first-born child after a character? What side characters did you like or hate? What sticks with you for days afterwards? What do other people say about it? (Hint: read both positive and negative reviews!)

5) You Write what you Read: What you feed your brain will pour out your pen. Do you want to write something good? Well, read something good. If you enjoy horror read King, Koontz, Poe, James, and Lovecraft. If you want to write urban fantasy, read Gaiman, Butcher, and Rowling. If you want to write about war, read about war from men and women who’ve been there. Read about WWII, Vietnam, Korea, and the Iraqi war. Look for master wordsmithers. Look for writers with deep descriptions, well-developed characters, and places you want to stay . . .or run far far away from.

6) Research and So70d6145144e9644c75e0368ad263d4e8mething Different: If you learned something, it counts as research. You may be writing a fairytale and reading Correia. That’s fine. His action scenes and gun knowledge can help you tighten up your own action scenes. You can learn more about guns than you ever needed to know reading one of his books. It’s okay, in fact, it’s recommended that you read things far outside your genre. It will make your work richer if you pay attention.

7) Bad can be Educational: Sometimes we learn by seeing other people’s’ mistakes. Pay attention. If you’re bored, figure out why. If something doesn’t sit right with you, analyze it, and learn from the mistakes of others. It’s amazing how much you can improve your writing by recognizing bad writing. Just make sure you apply it to your work. As you do this, keep in mind genre differences. You may not be the writers target market. Don’t be offended if you’re not.

There are times to read just for the sake of reading, but as a writer, you must always remember you’re honing your craft. Reading is how you do that. All the list of rules in the world won’t make you a better writer. Reading will, if you read with purpose. Keep your eyes open, monitor your reactions, think!, and apply. If you don’t do that as you read, you’re never going to improve your writing.

Quote of the Weekend

“Contrary to popular opinion, faith isn’t the confidence that anything can happen.  I know that’s how it’s often depicted by those within the so-called word-faith movement, and (for that matter) among countless other people.  They have sorely misrepresented the true nature of biblical faith.  Let me say it again: faith isn’t the confidence that anything can happen.  So, what is it?  It’s the confidence that what God has promised will happen.” – A Hope Deferred by J. Stephen Yuille

(Faith is confidence in God and thus in the promises He makes.)

Special Agents: The Mysterious Case of the Monsters under the Bed (Part 4)

SpecialAgentsMuffling a wide yawn, Lauren and Rachel followed Sam, Roger, and Paisley to the test room.

“Here,” Sam said. He dug around in the big pocket of his tool belt for a minute until he came up with a roll of brightly colored candies.

“Thanks,” Lauren said taking a purple and red one while Rachel picked out a yellow and green one. They popped the candy in their mouth and let them slowly dissolve.

“Wow,” Lauren said. “Have they upped the caffeine count in these things?” She shook her head sending her wild yellow curls bouncing.

“You didn’t hear?” Paisley asked.

“No,” Rachel said.

“They have the equivalent of an espresso now.”

“Oh dear,” Lauren said. “Were we supposed to eat two?”

“Sam,” Rachel said punching him in the shoulder. “You should have warned us.”

“Ow! Why’d you hit me?”

“If you think my totally loud Dad is crazy after one espresso, you should see Lauren on two!”

Lauren grinned, crossing her eyes and sticking out her tongue.

“Don’t worry, you’re about to burn off all that energy.”

Roger opened the door to the Test Bedroom.

“We’ll see about that,” Lauren said. She accepted a Super Soaker from Roger and stepped through the door

“You’ll be sorry,” Rachel chanted as she followed Lauren in taking her own gun with her.

Sam shook his head and hurried off to the observation window.

Rachel and Lauren waited side by side in the dark room. They timed their breathing until they inhaled and exhaled in unison. Their eyes tried to adjust to the dark but the blackout was so thourough there was nothing to adjust to.

“Ready with the button?” Rachel asked. Lauren was the quicker of the two by just a hair, so she had the Pause duty.

“If you’re ready with the silencer?”

“Ready.”

“Ready.”

Both their right hands rested on the side pockets of their tool belts while their left hands held the Super Soakers. They breathed in and out. In and out. In and—

Skreetch!

Right hands dropped and clasped the well-worn, familiar grips of two odd toys. Lauren cleared her holster a second before Rachel did. She pulled the trigger and the strange sensation of suspended animation melted over her. Everything stopped, enveloping Lauren and Rachel in the sudden realization of how much of life involved movement. Lauren swore that the Pause gun made her aware of exactly how much the Earth spun through the universe.

Rachel fired her odd toy and the sounds of life stopped.

No movement.

No sound.

The moment passed. The world crashed, spun, and cranked up the volume. Rachel grunted. They’d been unpaused.

“It’s still dark.”

“Goggles.” Lauren said.

They both pulled down their goggles and the world turned an odd shade of puke green.

Skreetch!

Both of them took a quick double check on the bed’s occupants. The cardboard boy had sleep heavy eyes drawn on his face. If his eyes had been open they would have had bigger problems to deal with.

Lauren pointed at herself then under the bed. Rachel nodded. Lauren pointed at Rachel then the bedroom door. Rachel agreed. Lauren dropped to her knees and thumbed the red button

Blam!

She fired the Super Soaker right at the bubbling lump with toooo many eyes and toooo many fingers under the cardboard boy’s bed. Ooze soaked the creature capturing it.

Rachel rushed to the door, opened it and charged through. Light blinded her. She ripped her goggles off just as she hit the silence button on her odd toy. She dropped and slid across the wood floor right under the bed, thumbed the red button, and fired. Lauren followed behind her shooting the odd toy to Pause the room before she rushed the next door.

Leap frogging, they made their way through the Test Bedrooms, only working together if there was more than one bed, or bunk beds. Bunk beds were the worst. Yellow and blue goo coated monster after monster while the Silence and Pause toys kept them from every seeing the two Special Agents with their blue and yellow hair.

Panting, they reached the end of the course and stepped into the observation room.

“You know, the way you two do that makes it really hard on the clean-up crews,” Sam said typing furiously on his tablet.

“Are they cleared for field work?” Lauren asked ignoring Sam’s grumbling.

“Agent Carmichael says we have the best system.”

“Yeah, well it’s really tense to watch!” Sam said finishing his notes.

“Sam,” Lauren said putting her hand on her hips. “We’ve got monsters to fight.”

He nodded. “I know. Sorry. Y’all are the best we got. You’re both cleared, along with the guns for field work. Also, try to bring one back that’s reasonable. I need to find out what is going on and why we have them under beds again.”

“We need to make sure it’s not her,” Rachel said.

Sam nodded. “Exactly.”

Lauren tossed her head watching the bright yellow curls bounce. “Let’s roll.”

Rachel nodded. The twins gave each other a high five. They left the observation room, Super Soakers in hand and made their way down to the transport deck.

“One monster infested bed coming up,” a red-headed boy with freckles across his noes said. “God’s speed.” He waved them into the backseat of a sleek silver car.

“Ladies,” Tom, the driver tugged the bill of his driver’s cap at both of them. “Locked and loaded?”

“Yes sir.”

“Well, let’s go do some good in this world.”

Tom gunned the engine and shot out into the night with a large van following behind him with the clean-up crew.

…To Be Continued…

monster_under_bed

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Maleficent

imagesDisney seems to be on an anti-traditional true love kick. There are things about this that I appreciate like a little tongue-in-cheek laughing at one’s self like you see in Frozen when Anna ‘falls’ in love with Hans. I also appreciate the nod to other types of love that lead to sacrifice like family relationships. But, what I don’t like is the removal of the male-female true love relationship.

I know many parents who are probably breathing a sigh of relief that their daughters can watch Frozen or Maleficent without getting their heads filled with false notions of Prince Charming falling madly in love with them, charging in on a white horse, and rescuing them from their parents and all that’s horrible in their life. But, before we all jump on this band wagon, let’s think through it just a bit as people and as Christians.

The Bible uses lots of different familial relationships to teach us about our relationship with God. It calls God our Father. Christ is referred to as our brother. We call one another brother and sisters in Christ. But, one of the strongest descriptions in the Bible, in fact, one of the strongest running themes in the Bible is the idea of Christ and his Bride. Christ and his Church are shown to the world through our marriage relationships. This relationship is shown in the love of a man for a woman, the act of getting married, and then living a life committed to one another until death do us part. This is a very important concept and one we don’t want to throw away too quickly.

Now, I think what Disney and parents might be reacting against is the harsh reality of realizing love at first sight is just the doorway into a loving relationship, not the basis of the relationship. True Love can’t be based on an emotion. When we teach our children that they can have a marriage relationship based upon an emotion we’re setting them up for failure. Thus, we’ve reached a point where we think we’ve found a Truer Love in the relationship between sisters, and the relationship between god-mother and child.

What we’ve missed completely is that, just like those relationships, true love is not an emotion. It is a daily choice to be loyal, supportive, and sacrificial for the sake of someone else. No two sisters love emotionally. Trust me. I have four sisters. Do we all just feel loving towards each other all the time??? No. Of course not. But we’re a family. We love each other. We stand up for each other. We’re loyal to each other. If only more people would see their marriages that way.

Fairy tales are not to be taken as gospel truth; we have the gospel for that. What they are supposed to do, like all fantasy and superhero stories, is exaggerate good and evil so that for a short time we can see the glory of good triumphing and be encouraged to get back in our own battles.

While I somewhat sympathies with what Frozen and Maleficent are trying to say, it also concerns me that they decide that the male-female love relationship is okay to downplay or get rid of all together.

Diaval_Maleficent_Wallpaper

Now, just a few thoughts on Maleficent itself. SPOILERS!!!

One, I found it very odd that her name is Maleficent from beginning to end. Just a thought, it’s very hard to make the name Maleficent good. Even after seeing the movie, I don’t have a warm fuzzy when I hear Maleficent. I still shudder a bit. I think giving her a good version of this name would have been wise, like Magnificent or something, if you want to tie the names together.

I thought the movie started out strong, got realllllllly slow through the middle, and finished rather poorly. It was fun. The setting was very pretty. But I didn’t think the movie was very logical. I think they tried to show a heart broken by false love and healed by true love, but instead of doing a mirror image, they used a different type of love. The pain and suffering in the movie was one only parents and mostly just women could understand and relate too. King Stefan was crazy which didn’t make his anti-relationship with Maleficent understandable, it just made it kinda strange.

There were a few moments I laughed at, but not many. There were a few moments I sort of choked up, but not really. Godzilla hooked me more emotionally than Maleficent did. Again, the filming was beautiful, and they tried to show you Maleficent changing as she gets to know Aurora, but the ending didn’t seem to match the rest of the movie. It would have been better if they had stuck to the story. Let me pity Maleficent, but have her stay the villain of the film. That would have been amazing. Or at least have her be forgiven and forgive in a real way. Aurora gets anger at her for a few minutes for putting her under a curse, but ultimately Maleficent faces very little punishment for her crime. King Stefen betrays her, sinks into madness, and dies. The only real moment with him is when he pleads for his daughter’s life. The rest of the time, you really don’t care about him, you just wonder how he has kept the kingdom going for so many years.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for saving sinners type stories, undeserved rescues, and what not. I love anti-hero moves for that reason. But in an attempt to re-tell this fairy tale, I think they lost a lot of its strengths. There was no moment when Prince Philip was armed with the sword of Truth and the shield of Righteousness so he could defeat the dragon. At the end, the only character I cared about was Maleficent’s crow. He was the only one I was rooting for, the only one I cared if they lived or died, and he was the one I thought should have woken Aurora with a kiss. He loved her, and wasn’t trapped by a broken love.

So, there were a few moving scenes, but ultimately little story. I think there were some opportunities to make the good less pure and the evil less dark. There was room to write a redemption story. There was a chance to mirror a bad love and a healthy love. Instead, it was a plodding, boring story where the only person I cared about was a man who promised to serve Maleficent, fell in love with a golden haired child, laid his life on the line for her, and lived to see her grow up into a beautiful young lady. I think the crow is the real hero of this movie. Maleficent never learns of the power of the love between a man and a woman. Stefen only catches a glimpse of his daughter loving Maleficent, but doesn’t really understand what is going on so he doesn’t learn the power of love. Aurora doesn’t ever really deal with her father’s betrayal, but everything’s all right in the end, not to worry! 🙂

Yep. I like the crow the best.

PS. Even with my above mentioned concerns, I did enjoy Frozen. It was cute and funny. I didn’t feel the same way about Maleficent. I felt disappointed.

Sunday Thoughts: The Seven Deadly Sins

Any chance I have to be a complete geek I'm going to take. Full Metal Alchemists is one of my favorite animes of all time!

Any chance I have to be a complete geek I’m going to take. Full Metal Alchemists is one of my favorite animes of all time!

Our modern culture seems to have forgotten that Lust is one of the seven deadly sins. We’re all still pretty agreed on Greed, Wrath, and Gluttony. Sloth, Pride, and Envy seem tolerated as long as they don’t get out of hand. But Lust is fully accepted. It’s gone from deadly to everyone does it so it must just be a natural working of our chemical make-up, right?

“If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” (Awww, the oft missed wisdom of parents.)

I noticed this the other day while I was listening to Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. Gaiman gave a broad description of the city of London going on about its everyday life. He threw lust in there alongside paying the bills and grocery shopping. He set it on the same level as those mundane, every day activities.

If anyone could make me set my pen down and stop writing, it would be Neil Gaiman. His books are so beautiful it hurts. The descriptions are vivid and unique. The characters are both down to earth and fantastical. His stories are full of whispered hints of past fairy tales, past stories, shared culture. They are rich, engaging, and masterfully detailed. And yet. Yet, I’m constantly frustrated by my inability to share them without caveats. He always has something inappropriate or sinful in them.

It’s not that a book is only good if it doesn’t have sin. Quite the opposite. We need sin in our stories or we have no salvation. We need death or we have no resurrection. But so many stories, Gaiman included, don’t show the consequences of sin. They might show the consequences of some sin in the anti-hero, or the villain, or as conflict, but it’s never treated as sin. Rarely, and growing more rare, do the characters see their sin, their need for salvation and repentance. Half, or more, of the 10 commandments are treated as guidelines and suggestions, if not just completely ignored.

You can listen to the BBC production, or Gaiman reading it himself. I suggest both!

You can listen to the BBC production, or Gaiman reading it himself. I suggest both!

Characters face the consequences of bad decisions but rarely for their lust. It’s just treated like, “well, everyone does it, what are you gonna do.” Shrug shoulders. I have a thought! We could fight it. We could show the fact that lust leads to death just as surely as gluttony does. We could stop pretending teen pregnancy, rampant abortion, lack of marriage vow holding, and a whole slew of other problems don’t exist as a consequence of lust. We could open our eyes and see the price of sin is death.

But, that is a supernatural work. It requires the work of the Holy Spirit. Dead men can’t smell their own stink.

Thus, I will hold my pen and not throw it down in awe of the gift God gave another man. I will keep writing so that not all the stories treat lust like it’s the equivalent of a stomach rumble. And I will keep copying—in the simple way a child draws stick figures as he watches his father paint—my heavenly Father by saving sinners from their sin. This is what I will aim to write. And I will do it as beautifully as I can using the gift given to me.

I will also keep reading Neil Gaiman because he sparks meditation on the grace of God by showing me how lost I am without that blessed blood shed for me.