Soapbox: Platonic Friendship

Soapbox Platonic Friendship

I’m a Geek, not a Nerd. I’m not into science, or math, or anything like that. I do have a deep, deep love of history (though in a geekier, less nerdy way). The real difference is nerds are into science and geeks are into stories. I love stories and all the things that are wrapped around them. I’m loyal to my stories and can be a bit ‘fan-ish’ about them. For instance: Lord of the Rings. I’ve read the books numerous times, seen the movies (extended edition) more times than I can count, and have random facts about both stored away in my head. I’m tempted to buy any and all paraphernalia that even hints at Lord of the Rings. Multiple different print editions of the books line my shelves, along with books about the books, and about Tolkien. To this collection has been added, by me and loved ones, lots of Tolkien’s random writing. It’s a story obsessiveness. I want to know all about what I love.

I love stories and a handful of particular stories especially.

This is how this plays out: I miss a story and its characters, but can’t watch/read it at that moment. So, I look up stuff about it. I get on Pinterest and look up Firefly. I chuckle to myself and pin away. Yes. Yes. I’m so familiar with the show I can quote most of the scenes I’m pinning. It’s strange, I know. But, it’s me enjoying the known, revisiting old friends. (See? I’m a Geek.)

Recently, I’ve returned to Sherlock. I haven’t watched it since season 4 came out, and not as a complete unit. A few weeks ago on a Wednesday night, Price mentioned something that made me think of Sherlock. Obviously, I had to start re-watching the show. The show, the story, the characters pulled me back in in an instant. I remembered and re-enjoyed all the things I love about Sherlock. It’s clever, unique, artistic, funny, relatively clean, with most excellent character building, and (most of all!) most of all the friendship between John Watson and Sherlock Holms. It’s beautiful. (A running theme in all my fandoms is friendship.) I love how they’re best friends, but also annoy one another. I love how John gets Sherlock, and how much Sherlock thrives having John as a friend. I love their loyalty, friends no matter what. I love their comradery and teamwork. It’s just wonderful. It makes my heart happy.

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The other night, after all the day’s work was done, unable to find a book that gripped me, I went on Pinterest to look at Sherlock stuff. I smiled over clever memes, teared up at favorite lines, then . . . wait . . . what is this? Scroll. Scroll. Scroll. No. Stop. Quit. Please. All this stuff about John and Sherlock being gay, homosexual, having sexual a relationship. Really? Face Palm.

Every time.

In just about every fandom the world has seen fit to ostentatiously turn male friendships into something sexual.

Sherlock: John and Sherlock.

Band of Brothers: Winters and Nixon. (I kid you not.)

MCU: Bucky and Steve/Thor and Loki.

LOTR: Sam and Frodo.

Supernatural: Dean and Castiel.

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Winters and Nixon. Courtesy of Pinterest.

It happens again and again and again. All male friendships are twisted and turned into something they’re not. Our culture is so homosexual-centric and so sex oriented we can’t have friendships any more. Male friendship is being ruined. Currently, it’s almost impossible for two men in a story to be close buddies without someone turning it into a gay thing.

It makes me sad.

Can two people of the same gender with the same shared experiences not love each other platonically? Do we even know how to do that anymore? We lose one of the great joys and blessings of this life when we destroy platonic friendships and relationships.

Funny enough, you don’t see this as often with female characters. It’s there, but not as prevalent. Fans seem fine with girls being friends, platonic friends. The gay side is still there, but less extreme and extroverted. You have to dig deeper into the darkness of fan-fiction to find it. But male friendship? It’s just about gone. Is this because women form bonds more quickly amongst themselves?

Our inability to honor male friendships makes me concerned for my own stories. What if I found a Soul/Haze homosexual fan-fiction? No! No! They’re friends, buddies, brothers! Brothers! Why can’t men just be friends? Why do we always have to sully them with unintended sexuality?

Even Supernatural has an episode where Sam and Dean meet a fan and find out, to their horror, that there’s an undercurrent of them having a sexual relationship. They’re brothers! Brothers! Where do we draw the line? Why can’t we see this is ruining male relationships? Why can’t we see that we’ve let sex into every facet of our beings? It makes us jaded. It clouds everything. It taints what once was pure. You watch. Soon, it will be parent and child. We will take all forms of love and make them sexual.

Sex is great. It’s a gift of God. We’re all sexual beings. It’s part of being human and creaturely. Unfortunately, we’ve made the helpful servant the master, and it’s a horrible master! Instead of keeping sex in a good, right, and pure place, using it as God intended, we’ve poured it into every segment of our lives. The outcome: girls and women writing male homosexual fan fiction about two real men who bravely fought in WWII—who still have living children and grandchildren, people who know them—having sexual relationships. It’s disgusting. They can’t just be friends. Oh no, of course not. We can’t let friendship be enough. Beautiful, strong, faithful, loyal, good friendship, one of the strongest bonds in humanity isn’t enough.

What really gets in my craw, is that the whole LBGT etc., gay community, who screams bloody-murder about not forcing people into a sexual box and safe spaces, doesn’t defend the straight the way they demand the straight defend them. Imagine the hue and cry if a fan made a gay couple only platonic friends. Image the witch hunt, the tar and feathering! But, if you take two historic or obviously platonic males and make them straight, it’s like the sweetest, best, cutest, coolest thing. Please kill me now. What hypocrisy.

Okay. I’m getting off my soap box, but fans, come on, let friends be friends. Embrace the beauty of the non-sexual friendships as much as you do the romantic ones.

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Christmas Traditions (Part 3)

For years now, my Decembers have involved  Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter movies. This year was no different. My three writing students/dear friends treated me to Fantastic Beasts. We had a wonderful time. We met first for coffee where we loudly discussed Harry Potter and writing. Then we made snide remarks during the pre-show, and ooohed and awwwed at previews. then Silencio for the movie other than popcorn crunching. Good times! The movie was beautiful and fantastic. I had some issues with it, but still loved it. 

MERRY CHRISTMAS !

Favorite Books

A friend of mine, Bethany Jennings, posed the question of favorite books on Facebook the other day. While I have a running list in my head of favorite movies, I was stumped to think of my favorite books. This bothered me since I consider myself a reader. After much thought I came up with this list:

  • Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
  • Harry Potter by JK Rowling
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams
  • The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell
  • Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
  • Mindhunter by John Douglas
  • The Count of Monte Christo by Alexander Dumas
  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  • Fiddler’s Green by A.S. Peterson
  • Sunshine by Robin McKinley
  • Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz
  • All Band of Brothers Books but especially: Easy Company Soldier: The Legendary Battles of a Sergeant from World War II’s “Band of Brothers” by Don Malarkey, Biggest Brother: The life of Major Dick Winters, the Man Who led the Band of Brothers by Larry Alexander, Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends: Two WWII Paratroopers from the Original Band of Bothers Tell Their Story by William Guarnere
  • The Lost: The Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelssohn
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  • 3000 Degrees: The True Story of a Deadly Fire and the Men who Fought it by Sean Flynn
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Les Miserable by Victor Hugo
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  • With the Old Breed by Eugene B. Sledge
  • The Killing Zone: My life in the Vietnam War by Frederick Downs
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Most books by Diana Wynne Jones
  • The Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
  • The Redwall Series by Brian Jacques
  • The Railway Children and Five Children and It by E. Nesbit
  • Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
  • The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  • The Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon

These are books I have either read several times, quoted from, was strongly influenced by, stuck with me, or I learned from. The longer I think about it the more books I want to add. This list is not static, but growing all the time.

And, due to popular demand, some of my favorite books are also:

  • When Skies are Gray by Abby Jones
  • Never Know, Dear by Abby Jones
  • Don’t take my Sun by Abby Jones (Unfinished)
  • Happy Thought by Abby Jones
  • Hero’s Story by Abby Jones
  • Hope’s Journey by Abby Jones (Unfinished)
  • The Cost of Two Hands by Abby Jones
  • The Sparrow and the Star by Abby Jones (Unfinished)
  • The Seventh Son of the Seventh Son by Abby Jones (Unfinished)
  • The Playground Children by Abby Jones (Unfinished)
  • The Texas Cousins Adventure Stories by Abby Jones

 

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.

 

 

December Books and Movies

Here are some of the books and movies I’ve enjoyed over the last month. I’m leaving out Platoon and Good Morning Vietnam because I want to do an article sometime early next year covering all the classic Vietnam movies. I also watched Band of Brothers for the fourth time and won’t write a new review for it.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1451638590/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1451638590&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=3BBVO3XUMK7NQ5OF

Spellbound (Grimnoir Chronicles #2) by Larry Correia

The second book in this series is just as good as the first. Rewriting history to include magical Actives and using them to explain events like WWI, the dustbowl of the Midwest, and the growth of government power under FDR is so much fun. Due to his first hand knowledge of guns, Correia is exact with his weapons. If you’re a gun nut, you’ll enjoy these books. Correia is also very conservative. It’s nice to read a book you don’t argue with the entire time. He never gets preachy—his books are, after all, action flicks—but he does make a jab here and there at FDR. They are fairly clean with limited language and over the top violence. These books aren’t without heart. I did tear up a few times as the Grimnoir struggled to keep their friends and family safe while battling enemies on every front. Correia’s good like that. This is a book I have on Audible and I highly recommend it because Corriea got the perfect reader for his book. If you’re looking for a good weekend read, check out the Grimnoirs.

Rated: PG-13 (Language and Violence)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/143919260X/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=143919260X&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=KHYW2Q4M6P2DF3V6

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

King offers up four unique, creepy, and down to earth stories in this book. They feature normal people in bad situations usually making them worse, though two of them aren’t without a semi-happy ending. The last one was my favorite. Based on the BTK killer, King explores what it would be like to find out after 30 years of marriage that you’re husband’s a serial killer. (Queue extra creepy music.) Thankfully, this was one of the stories with a happy ending, or at least as happy as King can get. Because he capture the simple habits of a long marriage so perfectly, the little things you know so well about each other, the special quirks, the chilling horror level ratcheted up quickly. If you like King you will enjoy this collection.

Rated: R (Language, Violence, Adult Situations, Rape, Serial Killers)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1416955070/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1416955070&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=HUD4XBTTOL2VJW33

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The City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare (Book and Movie)

Since I have switched to writing YA fantasy some of my YA friends have given me a few books to read in that genre. This might be a bad thing because neither the book, The City of Bones, nor the movie impressed me. When my husband and I finished the movie neither of us understood the overall plot. What was really going on? What world events swept this girl up? (I had this problem with Divergent for the first 2/3 of the movie, too.) At first, I enjoyed the book more than the movie because I felt like I had a better sense of what was going on. Then, I got bored and realized the movie was mashing things together because they were cutting out the long and pointless teen drama moments. The movie tried to fix the book. Sigh.

The writing style of the book was sub-par. Clare threw in large and odd words here and there like she closed her eyes and pointed at that section of the thesaurus with no sense of what worked in the voice of the story. Every time she did this, I got pulled out of the book. A reader should be able to tell by the context what the word means. In Clare’s case, I could not.

Ultimately, I only cared about one character in the whole book and found the story to be mostly uninteresting.

My main problems with this style of writing—normal human female drawn into supernatural world of hot men where she realizes she is beautiful and must beat said men away with a stick, oh and some plot going on over there, and of course the jerk is the guy who gets the girl—are I always feel on the outside of the world, and appealed to on my most basest level.

It wasn’t until the very end of the book, like the last chapter that I even felt connected to the world. Through this big thick volume, I felt like I had my nose pressed to a window and only got a truncated view of Clare’s fantasy world. When I read Harry Potter, Harry’s world was more real than mine. When you read Lord of the Rings, you are in Middle Earth. E. Nesbit, Neil Gaiman, Robin McKinley, Suzanne Collins, Larry Correia, Scott Lynch and so many other good fantasy writers want you in their world. That’s why you’re reading it. You’re not reading it to stand on the outside observing.

Driving the reader based solely on who is going to end up with who does not a good page turner make. I hate it when I realize the only reason I’m interested in a story is to see if these two people hook up. And even that wasn’t done well. I never really felt a strong connection between Clary and Jase. Their romance wasn’t memorable. Plus, it’s not that important to have a boyfriend when you’re 15. Clary had a tiny bit more personality than Belle in Twilight, but I never cared about her. I never cared about anyone other than Luke. (Side note, including a homosexual character made all the relationships questionable. Whenever two male characters were good friends, I never knew if they were friends or lovers. I enjoy some blurring of moral lines because life can have some very gray moments, but not smudging like this.)

Rated: PG-13 (Mostly because the worldview is one that needs lots of guiding. There are some YA sexual jokes, violence, and language. The love relationship is unrealistic and unhealthy. The lead male is a jerk through the entire story, yet she still falls for him. If you want to see magic, read Harry Potter. If you want confused brother/sister relationships watch the original Star Wars.)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/147671746X/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=147671746X&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=GSJ5VNRKFZASEWHQ

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

One would believe that this is a unique romantic comedy about a zombie who falls in love with a human girl based upon the preview for the movie. It’s not. I don’t even know if this is Young Adult. This book is beautifully written and filled with interesting tidbits to digest. It is a thinking book. Is it a commentary on a mid-life crises? Is it a rewrite of Romeo and Juliet? Is it a commentary on the pointless void the next generation faces due to their entitlement status? On this basis, I would say that this could be a great book to read with your Junior or Senior kids. It would need to be read and savored for its beauty and then picked apart for its philosophy. The joy of a well-written book is that you can do both. There were some moments I lost interest in the story and felt it dragged a bit. But since I read it at the same time I read City of Bones, it’s beauty was provided a stark contrast, so I never just gave up on it. Again, I was drawn right into the world, not forced to stand on the outside. While there was an important romantic relationship, the story was more than that. Their romance was the catalyst for the story not the only point.

Rated PG-13 (Violence, Language, Sexual Content: this book makes the common error of assuming Hate and Greed are sins but lust is not.)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0425224368/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0425224368&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=7GT7HYFQIMT4WCZ2

Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends by William Guarnere, Edward Heffron, Robyn Post

I stumbled on this little treasure at Half-Price Bookstore and read it on Black Friday instead of going shopping. Anytime I watch Band of Brothers I tend to get a little obsessed. This is the third book I’ve read about Easy Company. There are also some interviews on YouTube that I’m working through. This book focuses on only two members of Easy Company: Wild Bill and Babe. They grew up only blocks from each other without ever meeting and served together in Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge where Wild Bill lost his leg. After the war was over Babe looked Wild Bill up and they’ve been best pals ever since, dying only months apart.

Because you get to see their lives from the beginning, you get a sense of why their generation was able to do what they did. They grew up hard and fast, but with strong families and close friends. Then they joined the unique training experiment of the 101st Airborne and . . . the rest is history.

Rated PG-13 (Young men at war, war)

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Holding Communion Together by Tom Chantry and David Dykstra

After all the controversy, I was eager to read this book and see what all the hoopla was about. I came away from this book sad because sin tears us apart. As Chantry and Dykstra take us through the growth of Reformed Baptists in America in the last century, they also take us through the problems plaguing us even to this day. It is always helpful to get a historical perspective. It’s just not often that when I’m getting that perspective I know the people being talked about. That was just a bit surreal. So, my first reaction was sadness, sadness over the friendships destroyed, the churches torn apart, and the splits that fractured so many people. Continuing in the story, I was made aware of the need to pray for our leaders, pray they will be kept from the lies of the evil one, that they will stand under the pressures of other churches to bend and compromise, and pray that they will stand for truth. On a very personal level, I enjoyed reading about David Straub. He was very dear to me and I miss him even to today, though I was only a little girl when I knew him. God is good and I’m thankful for the work these men did. May it encourage us all in prayer and steadfastness.

Rated PG (Sinful men in a sinful world and church fracturing)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001HN694K/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B001HN694K&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=I5RZQREN3DKAVWJ5

Alice in Wonderland

This movie is odd. In true Alice fashion, it’s odd. It would have helped if I had picked up earlier on that Alice was returning to Wonderland. For some reason I didn’t get that this was the continuing of the story not a remake of the story. There were several points where I just couldn’t follow what everyone was saying. But, the fight against the Queen of Hearts, the costuming, and setting were well done. Then the end just jumped on the feminist bandwagon and that was that. Of course, a woman who saves a kingdom would never settle for being a mother. What a waste of her life. She must go adventuring. Sigh. So overall, I’m glad that I watched it. The hatter was fun and so were the White Queen and all the little animals. It felt less frustrating than the original story, but I didn’t love it.

Rated: PG (Dragon fights, intense themes)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K7IPFSM/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00K7IPFSM&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=FM2RQA76N5RJLL7I

X-men: Days of Future Past

I’m not a big comic book fan. I enjoyed Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy a lot, but most of the rest of them seem to lack heart. I just never really connect with the characters. Their struggles never seem real. I did love the first X-men movie where I did connect with Rouge and Wolverine as the outcasts in this world welcomed into Xavier’s school. But, I haven’t kept up with the franchise. Recently, I watched Days of Future Past. Surprise! I was on the edge of my seat! I think most of this is due to the acting chops of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, and Jennifer Lawrence. They bring the heart and soul to the story. I was also pleasantly surprised by the plot twist brought by Magneto. I kept thinking everything was going just too smoothly for Wolverine. Well played. I don’t think I’ll buy this movie, but I’ll borrow it again from my sister. Also, for any of you comic book geeks, based on how this movie ends does Wolverine not have titanium on his skeleton now?

Rated PG-13 (Mystique has blue skin, not clothes. Brief Nudity, action, violence, some Mutants get torn apart, adult themes.)

Merry Christmas!

I’ll let everyone know what movies and books grace my stocking this year!

The Journey

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We’ve all heard the quote that it’s the journey that’s important, not the destination, right? I think there is a ring of truth to this idea. I’ve read Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Jane Eyre several times each. They’re my comfort reads. They’re books I go back to in the winter when I need to be reminded that spring will come again. I know how they end. I know about the Gray Havens. I know about Harry’s children, and I know about Jane and Mr. Rochester’s children. I know how the story ends. I’m not reading the book for the ending. I’m reading it for the beloved journey to the end. I’m reading it to let Théoden ride again. I’m reading it to play Quidditch in my mind. I’m reading it to watch a girl do the right thing when it’s the hardest thing. Over and over I read these books because the journey is more significant than the destination.

As a Christian, the destination is of primary importance to us. The destination is where we finally see hope fulfilled. We see. We see Christ, not by faith, but with our eyes. We will hear his voice with our ears. We will touch him with our fingers. We will finally see our great elder brother, our husband, our captain, our mighty King. Our destination is truly a mighty one.

But, at the moment of salvation we are not suddenly made perfect. We aren’t whisked away to paradise. We aren’t taken from this world. We aren’t even taken out of our sinful flesh. We are left to toil, suffer, and ultimately to die. For we are humans are we not? We are mankind even as Christians. We are left in the world God made for us until we die.

The Holy Spirit puts this time, this journey, to good use. He uses it to sanctify us and make us more like Christ. That is the point. The good in Romans is not good as in happiness and comfort, but good as in “conforming us to the image of Christ”. We are constantly being melted down. We are being weaned off this world, trained—like soldiers in basic training—to live by faith, lay up our treasure in heaven, love the brethren, and grow in grace and understanding. We are not magically righteous. We are made righteous.

For us the Journey is important.

My husband put it this way when he was preaching on theology the other night: The theological logic is as filled with blessing as the theological truth.

The journey is filled with blessing just as much as the Destination.

We may not understand why God decided not to just rapture us out at the moment of regeneration. We may not understand why God decided not to make us perfect at our first breath of faith, but we can rest in His Word. The journey is important.

Romans 8: 18-30: (ESV)

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

There is a journey here, a path to follow from predestined to glorified, from suffering to being conformed to the image of Christ. And just like the stories I love, I know the destination. I know where the journey ends. That gives me hope in the journey, but it also gives me the ability to focus on the journey.

The first time you read Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, or Jane Eyre every fiber in your being is focused on the destination. But when you know the destination, your focus is on the journey. I know how the story ends. Knowing the end frees you to focus on the growth of the characters. You can see Frodo fail. You can soak in Neville’s courage. You can analyze the conversations between Jane and Mr. Rochester. You can focus on the journey because you know the end.

Life is the same for a Christian. (Oh the wonderful beauty of God’s wisdom, and the lesser yet still amazing beauty of stories.) You know the end, if you have faith in Christ, which frees you to focus on the journey here on earth. You can focus on the war against sin, your fellow saints, the means of grace, truth, love, and the beauty of the bride of Christ—His Church. You know where you’re going and you know how you’re going to get there. Focus on the journey.

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Writing Journal: Introducing Sisterhood

492599If you follow me around in real life, on FaceBook, and or read my Blog, you will quickly realize that one of my favorite concepts in stories—right after the idea of the Undeserved Rescue—is Brotherhood. I love action flicks with a core group that would kill for each other. I love stories about enemies becoming inseparable friends. I love stories about cops and their partners. I love war stories because of the brotherhood concept. Band of Brothers is one of my favorite TV shows of all time, but I feel like you see this same idea play out, to lesser degrees, in StarTrek: NG, Firefly, Sherlock, and Chuck. It’s all about the person next to you. It’s all about the guy willing to spill blood to defend you, even his own. It’s what I love about Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. It is what I love about Lord of the Rings.

With all that said, it’s not surprising that my Fairytale has at least two brotherhoods forming in Book 1. I’m diligently working on a brotherhood within the antagonist’s army and a brotherhood centered around my protagonists. Since brotherhoods tend to form in the middle of intense situations like combat, and since I’m a bit conservative and think combat should be left to men, and since it typically has been left to men so men are the ones forming these brotherhoods, my protagonist is a male. In fact, most of the books I’ve written have a male protagonist.

Why?

Most of the books I enjoy reading have male protagonist. It’s not that there aren’t books with lead females out there. It’s not that women don’t have adventures. It’s just that I never find books and stories with lead females as interesting or as fun as I do the ones with lead males. This started back when I had a choice between the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Can you guess which one I picked? (If you guess Nancy Drew you need to start this article over and try again. 🙂 )

Why is this?

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I’ll be honest, and a bit hard on my own sex, I find stories with lead females a bit annoying. Either the woman is doing something completely ridiculous in some vain attempt to prove that she’s just as big and bad as the guys are, or she’s standing in a corner screaming with a phaser not three inches from her hand while her man gets beat to death, or she’s eye candy. There are very few stories where the woman is a woman. And the ones where she is being a woman can be a bit harder to make interesting because they can end up catty, manipulative, and self focused. I just don’t think they’re as fun as male driven stories. (And yes, if you’re wondering, I was a Tomboy growing up.) What it really came down to was boys had adventures and girls had boyfriends. I would rather have an adventure.

Me and my Bestie!

Me and my Bestie!

Then, a dear friend laid down a challenge. She pointed out the many wonderful relationships I have with other women. I’ve been blessed with a wise mother and extra mother, grandmothers, sisters, sisters-in-Christ, wise older women, and a very dear best friend, and many nieces. I have more dear women than I can possibly name in my life right now. I have women who are going before me into old age and widowhood, I have young women coming up behind me into marriage, life, and adulthood. I wouldn’t trade these women for the world. I love each and every one of them. My dear friend, who is a woman, asked me why I don’t have more of those types of female relationships in my books? They are some of the best friendships I’ve had, why don’t I mirror the brotherhood concept with a sisterhood concept? If I hated women being written just to have boyfriends, why was I doing the same thing. (Don’t read this the wrong way, I think loving a man and being loved by him, being married, is one of the most wonderful and rewarding relationships you can have.)

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I was floored. I couldn’t believe how long I’d missed the opportunity to share something that has always been a part of my life. Facepalm.

Again, I find myself beholden to a woman while I write about a man. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be: Women supporting women who are helping men? So now I’m weaving women together. I have a mother and now I have a GateKeeper and a few elements who are women, plus some other girls. I’m shooting for a story that has brotherhoods, sisterhoods, and also some marriages.

I hope to show the positive sides of women and sisterhoods without reducing them down to catty relationships. One of the things I hated most about the Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan was his sisterhoods. Every woman in the book constantly manipulated the men around them for their own ends. It grew very frustrating. It was like watching all that is the worst part of you instead of being encouraged to be better. I want to have a story more like Lord of the Rings that makes you want to be a better person when you finish reading it.

With this challenge accepted, I will be working on my female characters. I will be exploring what makes women and men different and how those things compliment each other. I have some good books to read, good movies to watch, and of course some interesting personal experiences to draw from. Plus, I have a whole host of Godly women ready to help me! I’m gearing up and ready to go!

 

Movie Thoughts: Godzilla

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I’m not the kind of person, y’all know this, that thinks stories have to be ‘pure’ to be good. Some of my favorite movies are dark, heavy, and rough. I think much can be gained by seeing the effects of sin on humanity and people. I don’t think this needs to be done in an extreme to be effective, but that’s another article all together. All I’m trying to say is sin is in this world. Not every story needs to pretend it isn’t. Okay, now, what I enjoyed about Godzilla was its wholesomeness: no heroes with massive flaws, no villains with heroic character traits, just good good-guys vs. big monsters.

Godzilla was wholesome.

Now… SPOILERS!

This movie begins with a nuclear plant meltdown and a government cover-up. It reminded me of Star Trek, the newer movie from 2009, when Kirk’s father dies as he’s being born. Be prepared for tears. (In fact, I got teary-eyed several times in this film.) After the meltdown, move 15 years in the future. The little boy left behind, Ford, has grown up and is an EOD soldier in the US Navy. His father is still trying to uncover the truth behind the plant’s meltdown that cost him his wife. Things begin moving when Ford is forced to leave his own wife and child behind in the US to get his father out of jail in Japan.

After that comes big monsters, massive destruction of US cities, scientist and military arguments, more massive destruction, nuclear bombs, and big monsters.

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Points to enjoy:

  • Many of the traditional Godzilla storytelling techniques were honored and put to good use. This is not Pacific Rim. Do not expect the whole thing to be about monsters. It’s much more about Ford’s conflicts, past, and the choices he faces due to Godzilla’s attack.
  • The military didn’t look like complete idiots. While the scientists were ultimately correct, the military didn’t look like a bunch of high school dropouts or mindless killing robots bent on destroying everything. They based their decisions on the need to protect US citizens, not on mass destruction of massive monsters. The military played a key role in the ultimate winning of the battle.
  • Godzilla is not the bad guy. I always favored the Godzilla movies where he comes in to protect Japan from a bigger monster. This movie went with that idea. Godzilla wakes up and rises from the ocean depths to take out the ‘Mothra’ monster. There is a great moment at the end of the movie where they mirror Ford’s actions and Godzilla’s showing them both to be the warrior saviors of the city.
  • Ford faces the choice to do the job he was trained to do, or return to his family. He chooses to do his job. I felt like this was a very accurate choice for a military man. He has been trained to fight. By doing this, he ultimately protects his family far better than he could have standing beside them. His wife never berates him for this. She’s afraid, but she knows he’s coming, so she waits for him.
  • Ford is a good man. This movie focuses on the father/son story between Ford and his dad. It shows you Ford’s love for his son, but it also shows you Ford willingly standing up for people he doesn’t even know. Ford is a true hero. It wasn’t necessary to make him flawed so we could relate to him. We relate to him just fine as someone with a tragic past. This tragic past doesn’t make him weak, or whiny. It’s part of who he is, but doesn’t inhibit him. (Kinda like Aragorn in Lord of the Rings.)

I enjoyed this movie because it makes you glad for everyday heroes. It creates an extreme situation, and then gives you someone you can cheer for as the world falls apart. (My favorite type of fantasy story.) I can’t wait to share this movie with my nieces and nephews. It’s the kind of story you want boys and girls inspired by.

Godzilla is more than just a monster movie. It’s a story about courage, doing what needs to be done, family, and then monsters.

Rated: PG-13 (I don’t remember any real language, defiantly no inappropriate scenes, so this is probably due to massive monster violence.)

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Books and Movies

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Your favorite book now a major motion picture.

I have a love/hate relationship with the concept of turning books into movies. When one of my favorite books is slated to become a movie, I tend to be excited and antsy. I search the cast list for any resemblance to the people I love. I watch trailers looking for that moment that was personally pivotal to me in the book. I read articles to discern the director’s depth of understanding of his material. When Peter Jackson first announced plans to make Lord of the Rings, I obsessed to a degree that was beyond fan girl. Way beyond fan girl. Why? Because Lord of the Rings is my favorite, not-the-Bible book of all time. Favorite.

But this isn’t an article about Lord of the Rings. This is an observation about translating books into movies, and how movies have changed our writing. I want to explore this idea by comparing The Hobbit, Hunger Games, and Ender’s Game. I’ve read and enjoyed all three books and all three movies. I hope they make an interesting comparison study.

Tolkien penned The Hobbit long before fantasy-type books became movies every summer. I can’t imagine Tolkien IMDB-ing actors to see if Martin Freeman would make a good Bilbo. When Card wrote Ender’s Game having a book turned into a movie was more likely, but still a shot in the dark. Then we come to The Hunger Games. It was almost a guarantee that if the book had any success, it would be made into a movie. Suzanne Collins worked in the TV business, writing shows for children. I can’t imagine her writing The Hunger Games without a movie in the back of her mind. How do I know that? Because I do the same thing. I grew up with movies and I can’t help but think of them when I write.

We have one book with no thoughts for a movie, one with a little thought, and one heavily influenced.

And their movies? (Please remember this is just my opinion.)

The Hunger Games was a great movie that followed the book closely adjusting pacing as needed for a film. My husband, who isn’t a fiction reader, really loved it.

Ender’s Game followed the book closely, as far as I can remember, but with more concern for the book’s fans than movie goers. My husband found it boring and a bit confusing. I didn’t feel as into the movie as I was the book. It came across as choppy, and poorly paced. I should note that it’s been many years since I read the book.

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEYThe Hobbit was so different from the book. In fact, I hated the movie when I first saw it. Right after watching it, my husband and I dove into the book and found the movie to be surprisingly accurate, all things considered. Of the three, this was the only one that my husband had read both the book and seen the movie.

I think it would have been impossible for Peter Jackson to follow the Hobbit as it was written. The barrel scene? Twelve dwarves floating down a river in closed barrels as river elves pushed them along: worked in the book, boring on the screen. In a book, the author can give the reader a brief sentence saying the town chief is gross and greedy. A reader has no problem accepting that a moving on. In a movie, you have to show it and establish it. It can’t be tacked on somewhere.

In fact, as I refreshed my view of the Hobbit, I became more pleased at what Peter Jackson preserved that he could have left out. There are writing tools you can manipulate in a book that you just can’t spring on people in a movie. The odd part is that even when I acknowledge the good things Peter Jackson did, I still don’t really like the Desolation of Smug taken in the broader context of all the movies. It’s pacing seems really off.

enders_game_2013_movie-wideIn Ender’s Game, I think they stuck so close to the book that that became more of a concern than making a good movie. If they focused on making a good movie, I think it would have been better. Instead, it felt confusing and emotionally unrelatable unless you’d read the book.

Hunger Games had no problem going from book to screen. The book just adds and develops the characters a bit more, but you get a good sense of the story and characters from the movie.

Has the silver screen changed how we write? Has it changed how we write scenes? Probably. I think this may be why the concept of Showing instead of Telling has gained such ground. If you read older work, they do an extensive amount of telling prior to showing. Older books also spend less time explaining battles, or fight scenes, if they even have them. Older works don’t seem as focused on character descriptions, partially, maybe, because they weren’t thinking about the actor who might be selected to play them.

The-Hunger-Games-Catching-Fire-soundtrack-608x608Is this bad? No, not necessarily. I enjoy a book with a lot of showing instead of telling. I enjoy books with masterful battle scenes. But, I also think it opens the door to a lot of bad writing. (This is not the only day and age with bad writing, but it does seem easier to find than it used to be.) I think writers can focus too much on character description instead of just character. I can’t stand a novel that gives me a character’s measurements as if that is going to help me picture him better in my mind. I want to get to know this person, not that he’s 6′ 4″. Some people write scenes totally based on what they’ve seen in movies. Maybe they should just be a screen writer, instead of a novelist. I’ve had to tell new writers that they can’t write slo-mo action scenes. It doesn’t work when you’re reading. Matrix styled fighting and good cop/bad cop only work if you’re a really great writer. The rest of us just need to do more research until we find something based in reality that we can use.

I’m a product of my time. I can’t stick my head in the sand and pretend I live in a different time…unless I’m writing a period piece…which I’m not. I always have a ‘cast’ file. It’s filled with pictures of actors that I have in mind for the characters. Some of the actors aren’t alive anymore because I’m looking for a match to my imagination, not hoping to submit it to Hollywood. I don’t anticipate my books every becoming movies, thought I’ve daydreamed about it. Generally it ends up with me shuddering cause I don’t really like Hollywood that much and don’t want to get caught up in that world in any way, shape, or form. Besides, they wouldn’t like me. I’m too conservative, too Christian. It wouldn’t happen.

All that to say, yes, movies affect how we write. We don’t live in bubbles. We probably all write as if we were watching a film and just reporting on what we were seeing. I even refer to different parts in my book as scenes, as if I was directing a film. But, writing is so much richer and deeper than a movie. Writing let’s you escape to a whole new world in a way movies never can. You get to be in a new place and in a new person. Through the journey, you often learn more about yourself than you ever could watching a movie. Movies are wonderful, but books are often better. Don’t stop writing. Enjoy the gifts of the silver screen, but don’t rely on them.