Archive for the 'culture' Category

The Plague of Busy-ness

Recently I’ve been going through old computer files and came across the following article which I wrote in August 2002 for the newsletter I was putting out then. This was about three months after Arena’s release, during which time I was busy making  trepidatious trips into local bookstores (“Who did you say you were? And why are you here, exactly?”), designing and ordering bookmarks, mailing out postcard announcements, putting together press kits and having a book signing.

In addition to a family related vacation to the east coast that summer, followed by a trip to the west coast for the 2002 CBA conference in LA, I also finished up the final touches on The Light of Eidon before turning it in to Bethany House, then began the rewrite of The Shadow Within to bring it into line with changes I’d made in Eidon.  All this in addition to updating my website, and writing the newsletter in which the following appeared.  Hence the reference to “activity and folderol.” The ideas expressed seem as applicable to me today as ten years ago, so I thought I’d share it again, this time in a different venue.


“Let your occupations be few if you would lead a tranquil life.” ~ Democritus


With all this activity and folderol, I’ve seen how easy it is to lose one’s focus on the things that really matter — that is, the things above, rather than the things on earth. In fact, in some research I was doing recently I learned that one of the techniques used by cults to suck in their new recruits is to keep them busy all the time, to tire them out and to never let them be alone.

If they are constantly occupied with some task or engaged with some person, they’ll have no opportunity to stop and think about what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and what they’re coming to accept as truth simply by default.

I believe this plague of busy-ness is one of the main assaults Satan’s world system is deploying upon Christians today, particularly in the United States with all of its prosperity and corresponding options.

Daily we are bombarded with things to do and be and have. With people to listen to and do things with (and for). It can get overwhelming, to the point we’re just like the newly-snagged pre-cultist. Run ragged by all the demands, opportunities and perceived obligations, by all the people who come into our lives (have you ever stopped to count how many?) we can end up losing track of who we are and what we really want.

Worse, we end up losing track of the One who’s put us here and for whose glory we’ve been created. We sell ourselves out for the “stuff” of the world.

We may say we haven’t, but in the measure of our hours spent, how many are devoted solely to concentrating on and communing with the One we claim to love above all others? Even one out of twenty-four hours is only 1/24th of our day.

Doesn’t seem like very much, looked at that way, does it? Especially when you consider that none of us could even live were it not for our Lord who holds the very atoms of our bodies together.

Nor when you remember that time is a drop in the bucket compared to eternity and that eventually all these things that seem so important today will be destroyed and utterly forgotten…

 “If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”         ~ Colossians 3:1-2





I’m In Rebellion – Sort of…

Yesterday I was supposed to … planned to … write about the Olympics, since that was the prompt that the Daily Post had provided this week. I even wrote some thoughts about the subject, that basically my attitude toward the Olympics was … meh. In fact, that was the title I’d selected: “Olympics… Meh”

Then I more or less ranted about various elements of hypocrisy and political correctness that I observed… like the rule in the all around for the gymnastics competition that says each country can only have two athletes in that competition even if a country has five that would blow most of the athletes from the other countries away. Doesn’t matter. Only the top two from each country can enter the competition.

Which mean’s they’re merely being politically correct, not interested, for all the trumpeting otherwise, in who is actually the best. They just want to give everyone a chance to play.

Which is even weirder when you consider how many athletes from other countries move to the US to train, use US equipment, US coaches, train with US athletes… then go back to represent their own country (which did nothing for them in this regard) and maybe win a medal for their ‘homeland.’

So… what does all that mean anyway?  And when they tally up the medals should they count the athletes that trained in Country X using Country X’s coaches, techniques, food, fellow athletes, living conditions… should they count their medals alongside those of athletes actually representing Country X? Oh, but then countries A-Z minus X would feel bad… They might stop coming. And then where would we be?

So then the Olympics and medal counts aren’t about which country has the better athletes, training, coaches etc, but … really… making everyone feel like a participant. Making everyone feel good.  Making everyone feel like “we are the world.”

The commercials were the worst… but no, I will not go off on a riff about the commercials, and all the worldly, rah-rah viewpoints they were continuously spewing.

Maybe I’ve watched too many Olympics over the years… Maybe I’m getting old and seeing how the young wonders of yesteryear, like Greg Louganis, now stand in the bleachers and watch, gray-haired, far past their prime… poor guy. All that glory and now it’s gone… Which is the way of the world, of course, but you’d never know it from all the hooplah.

The focus for me is just all wrong. Unless you use the general idea of it all — training for the games  — as an analogy for the Christian life… it does take the dedication the athletes demonstrate, in order to eventually finish the race, fight the good fight, run so as to win, win the crown… But as far as the world… it just seems sort of meaningless.

Wait a minute! I started this post intending to write about how I was NOT going to write about the Olympics. How I  just couldn’t bring myself to follow the five posts a week plan any more. How I was too tired, too chafing against the requirements, not interested…

Yet somehow… I ended up writing about them anyway.  😦

Hmph. I think I liked the clip they played in the opening ceremonies of Chariots of Fire best (minus the nonsense with Rowan Atkinson). I still remember the thrill of seeing that movie on the big screen for the first time, that wonderful running on the beach scene, hearing that now-familiar theme…one of my all time favorites.  Maybe you loved it, too. If so… enjoy…

Sex, Violence and Dark Events…

That is the title of my guest post over at Speculative Faith’s Blog which should be up sometime Friday morning July 6. I want to thank you all, my readers, who replied to my request last week for ideas for this post. You can see from the title which of them was most popular.

This post turned out to be a lot harder to write than I expected. I thought I’d just knock it out, but it took me the entire week.

The question I posed myself was : “Should we as Christian novelists include portrayals of sexual sins, violence or other “dark” events in our fiction, or would that be an automatic violation of Christian standards?”

Then I did a nonstop on the subject. That turned out to be more or less a rant, but it had a lot of energy, as rants often do, so every time I re-read it, it just carried me along and no alternative routes opened up before me. Finally, in desperation, I sent it to a friend for help, and afterward sat down and began to just list my thoughts on the matter as they came, without letting the emotion carry me off.

Turns out I have a lot to say on this subject. More than could be confined in a single blog post, so I had to work on paring it down and getting it focused. It was an experience kinda like trying to fill a plastic trash bag with styrofoam peanuts. Every handful you put in, stirs up the peanuts already in the bag. They go flying out, stick to your hand, the inside of the bag, the outside of the bag… Yeah. Very much like that if you substitute “thoughts” for peanuts.

A lot of prayers went up, and at times I had to vigorously trust  that in the end God would make it come clear. Between His help and that of my friend, I believe it did.

Anyway, as I said, it goes up Friday morning, July 6, and I invite you to head on over to Speculative Faith to see for yourself if I succeeded.  Feel free to comment there or here, if you are so moved. I’ll try to monitor both places.

Here’s how the post starts:

Ten years ago this summer Bethany House Publishers released my first novel Arena into a literary world of petticoats, bonnets and buggies. This explains its original pink and purple cover, an attempt perhaps to mitigate the fact that it was a significant departure from the usual run of Christian fiction. While Arena does include an element of romance, at heart it is an allegorical adventure with sometimes dark and violent scenes.

I’ve received a full spectrum of responses to it, from “Fabulous!”…. Read the rest here



4 July 2012

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” ~ John Adams*

Today, as we celebrate the freedoms we’ve enjoyed as a nation for over three hundred years, freedoms which seem to be eroding away because of the very elements Adams notes in the quote above, let us remember that while human freedom is weak because it depends on fallen humans for its maintenance, the spiritual freedom we have in Christ cannot be touched by anyone.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” ~ 2 Corinthians 3:17

*The Works of John Adams, ed. C. F. Adams, Boston: Little, Brown Co., 1851, 4:31


Designer Faith

I thought I was done with the Barna survey, but it seems I am not. Because in thinking about the last two bits of information, in addition to something else I came across yesterday, I find I’m being led to do at least one more post on this subject.

I was initially surprised to learn that the Barna Group’s numbers indicated that more than half of self-identified born again believers and almost three quarters of American adults don’t believe Satan is real,   then not so surprised upon learning how very few Americans — even among the born again Christians — hold to a Biblical worldview any more. The lack of a Biblical worldview in part explains the disbelief in Satan… but how is it that so many of our countrymen lack one?

The other thing I came across yesterday was an opinion regarding the controversy over whether the Bible is to be taken literally or figuratively, and that kind of clarified things for me, especially taken in combination with one last bit from the Barna Group’s research.

The writer of the opinion did not believe that basic Bible stories were to be taken as literal, real, historical events but were merely instructional tales. Or at least some were. Others might not be. In any case, the individual defended this viewpoint with the claim that there are many things that can’t be known and thus chose not to question everything and demand that all be defined.

This was not the first time I’ve encountered the opinion that spiritual things are not to be questioned too closely, nor defined in too much detail. It always sounds lofty and somehow more spiritual than the mundane, prosaic activity of trying to make everything fit.

But yesterday, it finally  dawned on me that a person with this viewpoint is primarily concerned with what they believe the Bible says, not what it actually says. And by choosing not to question or seek to define their terms, they pretty much cut off all chance of finding out what it really says.

Imagine  if a scientist did that!  

— Oops!  I forgot! Some of them do!

Okay but they’re not supposed to, and many of them don’t. The whole point of science is to find out about our world, and the way to do that has always been to question and define. The way to understand anything is to do that, even the word of God.

Especially the word of God, I would say.

Which is why I advocate learning from a pastor who has been rigorously prepared in the original languages, the historical settings at the times of writing, and the various categories of doctrines as they are found and/or developed throughout the Bible. You can’t just sit down and read it for yourself without knowing any of these other things and expect to really understand it in depth. Yet that is what many do.

Or so I had thought. In fact, it would appear that most don’t really read it at all…

Last year, an article in USA Today last year called Designer Faith  reported on another Barna Group survey which found that “people no longer look to denominations or churches”  for their theological edification but have made of it a do-it-yourself project. Or, as the article was subtitled, “are tailoring religion to fit their needs.”

“By a three to one margin (71% to 26%) adults noted that they are personally more likely to develop their own set of religious beliefs than to accept a comprehensive set of beliefs taught by a particular church.” 

When it comes to the born again Christians, the number decreases, but not by much and still makes the majority for  61% of them favor an “a la carte” approach to the development of their theological beliefs. 

Worse of all, “leading the charge in the move to customize one’s package of beliefs are people under the age of 25, among whom more than four out of five (82%) said they develop their own combination of beliefs rather than adopt a set proposed by a church.”

As George Barna said, “America is headed toward being a country of 310 million people with 310 million religions.”

It’s kind of amazing and at the same time creepy to see things playing out as the Bible warns.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires… ”    ~ 2 Ti 4:3


Goodnight I-Pad

A new rendition of the children’s book Goodnight Moon. This one isn’t as cute and charming but my goodness, it does speak to our lives these days…


My Favorite Super Bowl Commercial

Yes, I watched this year’s Super Bowl, though I’m only mildly interested in football. But my hubby went off to the exercise club and left it on so I could watch the commercials. So that’s what I sat down to do. Mostly I thought they were… meh.  They made me feel alienated from our culture. I do realize they are not aimed at me. However… one of them stood out. It had to be my favorite simply because of its name:  Go Run, Mr. Quiggly! Plus I think it’s funny.

If you didn’t see it… here it is. Of course, as most of you know, my Mr. Quigley  spells his name differenlty and doesn’t look anything like than this one.



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Music I’m Writing To

Transformers (Revenge of the Fallen) Soundtrack - Steve Jablonsky


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