Authors I Love: Diana Wynne Jones

The Dalemark Quartet

I can’t recommend Diana Wynne Jones enough. She writes YA Fantasy that, thus far, I have found to be creative and clean. She has two major gifts I have seen thus far beyond creating amazing worlds. One, she manages to always make things that seem mundane at the beginning of the story important at the end. Even when I try to watch for it she still amazes me with her subtle weaving. Two, she often grows her characters from small children to young adults not only by growing them through plot but through word choice and perception.

I wish I had discovered her years ago. She is by far one of the most wonderful YA writers I have ever read.

In the Dalemark Quartet she not only goes into the past but into the future interweaving the lives of several families and children together, bringing characters you love to their points of importance in Dalemark history in Book 4. I particularly liked the heroines of this story. They are strong but not unrealistically so. The final heroine was very real. She wanted to be stronger and she also wanted someone to protect her. She reminded me much of myself at 13.

The third book catches you off guard as it is set in the distant past. Never fear, Book 4 makes the story of prehistoric Dalemark vitally important. If you are unable to read all four books together, avail yourself of the Glossary at the end of Book 4 to remind yourself of places and people.
My only point of complaint of  Book 4, and it’s not really a complaint, is the skipping about of the Point of View once all the main characters are together. It slowed the flow of reading down quiet a bit. On the other hand, it did continually remind you that this whole story is about these three people. It just took some time to adjust to the writing style.
The Dalemark Quartet was wonderful, fun, and creative as it told the past, present, and future stories of a land caught up in a civil war and the children who changed history.
Parental Warning: There are a few cuss words in Book 4, three I think. There is a fantastical religion. And, some of the themes are also dark as you would expect for a story set during a time of political unrest. Overall, an excellent story for young to middle teens.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Not surprisingly, I loved the book more than the movie. Coraline is a wonderfully brave girl who goes forward when she’s scared and not just her parents but three other captured children. The creepy fantasy is just the right amount of magic, lurking childhood fears, and courage. Other than the creepy subject matter, which is no worse than anything you’d read in the original Brothers Grimm fairy tales, there’s nothing objectionable in this book. I think the thing I love most is how Gaiman captures childhood. Coraline faces what scares her by reminding herself she’s an explorer. I often did similar things as a kid.

Thoughts on the 2015 ARBCA GA

I just wanted to share some thoughts about this monumental week. I, along with so many others, have prayed and prayed for this General Assembly for the weeks, months and the year leading up to it. I prayed for unity, yes, but more than that, I prayed for our men to stand. I prayed they would stand for the truth and for God. I prayed that they would have the boldness and courage to face their brothers and, lovingly but firmly, stand for the truth.

That prayer was answered.

There are moments when you get to see history and you get to see heroes: 9/11, Pearl Harbor, VE-Day. This week I got to see church history. Real history. History that will last for eternity long after the broken history of this world is forgotten. I got to witness the heroes of my generation stand for the truth about God and not cave to the spirit of the age: Brandon Smith, Steve Garrick, Stefan Lindblad, Ron Baines, Rich Barcellos, Jim Renihan, Mike Renihan, and Jim Butler. These men served on the Theological Committee and spent two grueling days defending the Doctrine of Divine Impassibility. They were joined by John Giarrizzo and Doug VanderMeulen as men who did not cave. These men, and many more like them, are the heroes of my day. How blessed am I to have enjoyed a front row set to watch them and pray for them.

It’s funny to me to watch this church history unfold, because many of these men are not just names on a computer screen, but men I know. Some I have had in my home, some I have treasured silly stories about, and some are more like extra dads—looking at you Steve Garrick and Ron Baines—than they are mighty heroes. And yet, I find great beauty in the everydayness of these men. I imagine the counsels and synods of the past where Christ and the Trinity were defended were also filled with everyday men just doing what they were supposed to do.

But isn’t it always that way with war and battle. Are there any real superheroes? Usually there are just men doing what men needed to do. The ordinary forced to do the extraordinary because they were there, because this happened in their time.

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I’m thankful God graced us with such men.

I’m thankful for the care and time our elders and teachers have taken to train and guide our church in the doctrines of God, simplicity, and church history. Who would have thought doctrine would be so important? 😉 I’m thankful they never gave up on the mundane teaching of their flock. I’m astounded and speechless, almost unable to describe, the joy and thankfulness in my heart for God’s gift of pastors and teachers. He has been so kind to us.

After a day and a half of deliberation, The Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America voted. It voted to stand. It voted to cling to the Doctrine of Divine Impassibility.

Thank the good Lord for answered prayer.

Thank the good Lord for men who stood.

The praying hasn’t stopped. There is much left to do, many men going home to their churches who don’t hold to Impassibility with tough days ahead, and the Devil is always at work to divide us and destroy us. We still need men in this war and we still need them to be bold, courageous, and to stand.

 

 

Just A Random Quote and Thought

While reading God Without Passions: A Reader Edited by Samuel Renihan I came across this line  from John Tillotson:

“If God be pleased to stoop to our weakness,  we must not therefore level him to our infirmities.”

We do this so readily as corrupt beings. I think I’m seeing this more and more in myself as God uses the teaching through  systematic theology at our church to shine a light on the places in my heart that are still dark. Little by little he weeds out the places where I try to make him more like me.  For if God is like me then he is less awe inspiring and I may have a share of glory. If he is all together different and must stoop down to me, I’m in a frightening position. I am a creature and he is the creator. And we are not the same.
But God!! In all humility stoops down,  bears with our infirmity and creature-ness. He forgives even when it takes years into our Christian walk for us to begin to understand him correctly. And he sent Christ,  who became a man like me,  suffered and died. The God I can’t comprehend became like me to cover my sins and make a way to God.  When we “level him to our infirmities” we no longer need Christ.  We rob Christ of his glory when we do that. But if God is I Am that I Am. Unchanging. Fully and far different from us, outside of time, then Christ, our mediator,  only grows in beauty and preciousness.
So, that’s my random musings for the day.

Quote of the Weekend

My Boy Jack

1914-18

“Have you news of my boy Jack?”

Not this tide.

“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”

Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

 

“Has any else had word of him?”

Not this tied.

For what is sunk will hardly swim,

Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

 

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”

None this tide,

Nor any tide,

Except he did not shame his kind—

Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

 

Then hold your head up all the more,

This tide,

And every tide;

Because he was the son you bore,

And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

– My Boy Jack by Rudyard Kipling who lost his son in WW1

(I stumbled across this hauntingly beautiful poem while doing a little research on Kipling after reading the Jungle Book which was part of the inspiration behind Neil Garman’s the Graveyard Book.)

Quote of the Weekend

“A little in the world will content a Christian for his passage, but all the world, and ten thousand times more, will not content a Christian his portion.” – The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs

(This little book is rich with encouragement and conviction.)