Friday, April 30, 2010
Here is a story that will break your heart. Are you willing? Really?
Can words crucify a bad habit? Can a poem save lives?
Let Mary Oliver, crusader for the wild and endangered things, convince you.
Be led. For the wild things. For you and yours. For yourself. Then you can lead.
Here is a story
to break your heart.
Are you willing?
the loons came to our harbor
and died, one by one,
of nothing we could see.
A friend told me
of one on the shore
that lifted its head and opened
the elegant beak and cried out
in the long, sweet savoring of its life
which, if you have heard it,
you know is a sacred thing,
and for which, if you have not heard it,
you had better hurry to where
they still sing.
And, believe me, tell no one
just where that is.
The next morning
this loon, speckled
and iridescent and with a plan
to fly home
to some hidden lake,
was dead on the shore.
I tell you this
to break your heart,
by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world.
~ Mary Oliver ~
Have a great weekend! Love y'all.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Thousands of violent acts. Beer commercials highlighting burping, beer-bellied men, bad pickup lines (is there a GOOD pickup line?). Shows that spotlight dysfunctional people, dysfunctional situations...a dysfunctional world. A glance at today's TV Guide leaves me asking a question you've surely considered: TV or Not TV?
Television land has come a long way from my childhood memories of Leave it to Beaver , where Ward plants a kiss on the cheek of an aproned, coiffed June while the Beave and Wally tussle in their upstairs bedroom. So safe. So average. So good ole Americana values a la 1950 and 1960s. But were those values really indicative of American society or just window-dressing on the very middle-class, very suburbia, two-story house at 211 Pine Street, Mayfield, Ohio?
What's a Christian striving to follow the tenets of John 17:6-25 (believers in the world but not of the world) to do?
1. Ponder TV usage statistics and your personal schedule. http://www.csun.edu/science/health/docs/tv&health.html, reports that Americans spend an average of four hours a day glued to their TV sets. 99% of us own a television set; 66% of our households possess THREE. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that watching TV occupies the top slot in Americans' leisure activities. Second top activity? Visits with friends!
The Lacy household uses TV as a backdrop to exercise time when weather quashes outside activity. The spokes on that stationery bike sure whirr faster when a gritty Law & Order episode works my brain cells and pulls attention from my achy muscles.
2. When we accept Christ, we have a Wise Counselor available 24/7! Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance on the niggling issues of "Does this activity glorify Christ, further His kingdom work, provide rest for my soul? If show scenes start a gut-churn, I need to listen. And punch the remote to "off."
3. Analyze potential programs for life or work application. TV CAN teach about moral premise, conflict resolution, and educate on topics as diverse as saving the biosphere to recovering your old sofa.
To TV or not TV: that is the question. What is your answer?
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
When I grew up, TV was my constant companion. You may think I'm kidding, or exaggerating, but I'm not. From the moment I woke up till the time I went to bed, the TV was on. I knew what time it was not by looking at the clock, but by what program was on. I watched soap operas with my great grandma, Lawrence Welk with my grandma, and Dark Shadows with my mom. As an only child, TV not only kept me company, it fed my imagination. Television has been a source of entertainment and even inspiration. But I never thought it would save my sanity.
It just so happened that I Love Lucy was being rerun on several different stations at different times of the day. I found that when I sat and watched it, I laughed so much that the blues were chased away, even if only for that half hour. By the end of that summer, I knew every time and every station it was on. And by the end of summer, I needed it less, but enjoyed it more. Lucy was an honest to goodness God-send and got me through a very challenging time in my life. Now, when I catch an episode on TV, I don't remember the depression so much, but I have sweet memories of my baby boy.
Lucy Makes a TV Commercial - "Hello friends, I'm your Vitameatavegamin girl!" Poor Lucy gets sloshed on a nasty tasty health-concoction that's almost 100% alcohol. Hilarity ensues.
Job Switching - The girls and the guys switch places. Ricky and Fred become house husbands while Lucy and Ethel find jobs. The scene where they can't keep up with a speeding conveyor belt and end up stuffing chocolate in their mouths remains a classic.
The Operetta - This may be my number one favorite. Lucy writes an operetta for her women's club, but post dates the check for the costumes and props. Ricky singing "I am the good Prince Lancelot, I love to sing and dance a lot" is funny enough, but when Lucy continues to sing "I am the queen of the gypsies" while the whole production is being repossessed brings me to laughter-induced tears.
LA at Last - Probably the best of the Hollywood episodes, it's the one where Lucy makes a fool of herself at the Brown Derby in front of Eve Arden and William Holden. Remember the bit where she eats too much spaghetti and Ethel snips it off with a tiny embroidery scissors? And how about when she tries to disguise herself later, and her putty-nose catches on fire? I've read that that was an accident, but rather than stop the take, Lucy kept going and put the fire out by dunking her nose in a cup of coffee. That's thinking on your feet!
How about you? Do you love Lucy? Or is there another TV show that has a special place in your heart?
Monday, April 26, 2010
I personally love mysteries because of the extra layer of engagement. Or it might possibly be my competitive nature, but I do love trying to figure out whodunit.
Luckily there are some great mystery shows on TV right now. My favorites:
Castle-As a writer this is especially fun for me. Love the chemistry between Beckett and Castle too. Overall, the show reminds me a bit of Remington Steele, which I discovered at the library, but also love.
Psych-So. Much. Fun. I love the goofy, offbeat humor and the cast are all great. Pure escapism and the concept sets the show up for all kinds of interesting story lines.
White Collar-Two words—Matt Bomer. What’s not to love? Again, it’s probably not a ‘real life’ scenario, but I love the concept and I also liked the interplay between the characters. It’s a buddy movie for the small screen.
Some others that have been favorites at our house: In Plain Sight, Monk, (sadly no longer with us. sniff, sniff) Law and Order (before there were a billion of them).
As much as I like to watch my favorite shows though, there is something about a book that transcends the medium of TV. At least for me. Being me, I’ve tried to analyze what the difference is and for me at least I think it boils down to this. I have to work harder at reading.
What I mean is that watching TV is passive. Reading, however is active in that I have to supply the images and voices and scenery myself. Oh, sure the authors help a little. They describe things, but I can pretty much guarantee that the complete picture I paint is going to be very different from what others ‘see’ in their heads. Just look at any movie adaptation for the screen. Was it exactly what you expected?
But here’s the thing, in direct proportion to the level of engagement I have in reading the story I am more fully plunged into a parallel universe where the characters’ experiences become mine.
We talked a little bit on Friday about the future and one of the inventions many of us were looking forward to is the Time Travel machine. I would contend we already have a pretty good device for that in the historical novel. Books also work well as teleporters. They fall down on the job when it comes to replicators though. You know those machines that make the food. The problem is that I can see and smell the food, and almost taste it. But sadly it doesn’t fill me up, and in actual fact often leaves me with severe cravings.
So time to hear from all of you. Do you agree with my assessment? And if so what is one of the best books you’ve read lately? How far down the rabbit hole did it lead you? I forget where I am sometimes when I’m reading.
Conversely what are some of your favorite TV shows? If you don't like mysteries what is your favorite flavor?
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Tuesday ~ Jennifer AlLee
Wednesday ~ Narelle Atkins
Thursday ~ Lisa Richardson
Friday ~ It's Poetry Day!
"Sing" by Lisa Bergren
A Book Review by Susan Johnson
LOL, I suppose for the same reason Sir Edmund climbed Everest--"because it's there." I'm fascinated by the middle ages and have been since I was a teenager, so it seems natural to try to tell some of their stories.
You have also written contemporary novels. What is different about the experience?
Research, mostly. Some facts we take for granted when writing present-day characters and stories are more difficult to get to, when writing in another era. For example, when were forks first used? How did medieval physicians and herbalists use the plants they knew as healing? All sorts of things. The answers are not always easy to find, but always fun to dig into.
I couldn't agree more. Seasons in the Mist is a time travel novel. That fascinates me. I love time travel novels, but I think I would be afraid to tackle one. How did you make this work for a Christian book?
I felt at first that I must "explain" time travel in a Christian context. Then as I got deeper into the story, I realized that some questions, for us in real life as well as for my characters, are unanswered and it's His best judgment for us that they remain so. My hero asks why so many died in the pestilence--this is an answer my 21st century character doesn't have, and I don't have my characters "solve" the question. So it is with time travel. They agree that God is sovereign and He does many things we puny humans cannot comprehend. They leave it at that.
And I admit, you made it work well. I think the smartest thing you did was making the main character a medieval historian. That was a really nice touch. But why did you choose this period?
Because I know it best and love it best. I've written a Regency romance, but better not ask about that one. It stinks, big-time. I don't know the period well enough, and that book remains forever in the bottom drawer.
It's obvious that you really have a grasp on this time. I admire that. For me, it was sort of the opposite, I knew a little about it, but I wanted to learn more. Probably what drew me to it the most, was that I was interested in learning about life before the Reformation. Tell us about the spiritual climate of this time period.
It was an era in England when virtually everyone believed. Imagine, if you can, an age in which reverence and fear of God was universally understood. People in England were either Christian or Jewish. There were few if any who did not know God. Contrast that with the age we live in -- the only answer is "whew!" Granted, some "believers" were nominal and some in their hearts had secretly fallen away. But virtually all people were part of the church and expected to follow the Lord.
Yes, one of the subjects I deal with in my writing is the differences between nominal Christians, corrupt elements in the "church," and true heart felt believers. I discovered that many during this era had instensely personal relationships with Christ. Can you share any interesting or off-beat facts you discovered about this era?
I had to dig quite deeply simply to discover what language they spoke. Did the upper classes speak French? English? How much French did the middle and lower sort of folk understand? Since this was a transitional age, linguistically, those answers were surprisingly difficult to find. I settled with my characters speaking English, with an occasional French or Cornish phrase thrown in, and I think it works.
I found that interesting. I think having a 21st Century protagonist narrating allowed you to dig deeper into the language than I did. I just sort of treated Middle English like a foreign language, but having Bethany there to translate and give us a break with her contemporary thoughts was a big help. I chuckled when she described one of the characters as a surfer dude. Does the book have any themes or messages inspired specifically by this time period?
First and foremost it's a love story, so I didn't intentionally go for deeper truths. However, Bethany is a believer who has left God behind, and I think one of the reasons she must travel in time is to rediscover the bright fire of faith. The reader, I hope, will get the idea that God is infinitely creative about bringing His children to Himself, and loses no opportunity to call us back!
Amazing concept Deb. I think our Inkwell audience will enjoy this trip back in time as much as I did. Thanks so much for visiting with us today.
Friday, April 23, 2010
There's been a long trend in Hollywood to look at the future through a bleakly-colored lense. Despite advances in technology, or perhaps because of them, movie makers see misery and destruction ahead. Of course, this messed up future allows for lots of conflict followed by - of course - conflict resolution. In short, it's the stuff creative dreams are made of. Who could ever forget these screen gems...
- Logan's Run - It's 2274 and life inside the big bubble looks like paradise, but when Logan finds out that the "renewal" ceremony for newly turned 30-year-olds is actually an execution, he becomes a runner. Naturally, a beautiful woman runs with him, and they discover a new life outside the dome.
What do you think?
Here are three of my favorite futuristic inventions that I'd love to see come to pass: the transporter, the replicator, and the car that folds up into a briefcase (from The Jetsons). What far out technology would you like to see become a reality?
The Book of Eli - Alcon Entertainment
The Jetsons - Hanna-Barbera
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Welcome to Inkwell Inspirations, Louise. To start off, why do you write historical novels?
You can certainly say it as far as I'm concerned. I love to learn from reading novels. Probably why I'm such a huge historical fan. So, Louise, have you written any contemporaries? If so, what is different about the experience?
Successful fiction relies on good research, whether historical or contemporary. My first two published novels (from Crossway Books in 1994 & 1998) were contemporaries, and I had a blast writing them. Because the hero was an NFL quarterback, I needed to research professional football. The Lord put a man in my path who had played for the New England Patriots (and was a Super Bowl MVP!), and he generously helped me with the entire picture of that world. Also, although I had once lived in my Colorado setting, I still needed to call an old friend to do some research for things I’d forgotten. Writing historicals, I have much more research to do, everything from clothing to customs to locations, but in either case, that’s one of the things I love about being a writer.
Your new release, The Captain's Lady, is set in the time of the Revolution. Why did you choose this period?
This book is a sequel to my first Steeple Hill book, Love Thine Enemy, which takes place in British East Florida. I love to tell people about this because there are two remarkable things about it. First, I have lived in Florida for thirty years but never considered setting a novel here until the late Kristy Dykes asked me to write an anthology with her. We roughed out our respective stories, but it didn’t sell to the original target publisher. But then Melissa Endlich at Steeple Hill bought my part of the anthology, and I fleshed it out as a full novel! Second, in all these years in Florida, I never realized this was a British colony until I began to research the idea Kristy gave me. Just think about it: if colonists in East Florida had joined the Revolution, the United States would have begun with fourteen colonies instead of thirteen! So I wrote Love Thine Enemy and used the war that was a part of my home state’s history. Then, in one of those lovely things that can happen to a writer, one of my secondary characters asked for his own story. I was happy to comply, and thus, The Captain’s Lady came to be! But I set this book in London to raise the stakes for my dashing hero, a true Patriot and a spy! I’ve fallen in love with this era because this is the foundation of our country, and I’m a flag-waving American!
Your excitement is contagious, Louise. I have to say, your love of the period came through in the book and made me fall in love with it as well. But, what do you think was the greatest weakness of the people of this era?
I think the greatest weakness of our founding fathers was their failure to abolish slavery and grant women’s suffrage at our nation’s inception. Think of all the pain and death that would have been avoided had these men gone deeper into the mind of God and set all men and women free and raised them up to full citizenship!
Beautiful answer. I couldn't agree more. What do you think was the greatest strength?
That they were willing to die—and many did—because they had a vision for what this land, this new nation could be. We hold our lives so dearly, yet these people counted the cost—their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor—and were willing to pay the price so WE can be free. What a responsibility we have to live up to their expectations, don’t you think?
What was the spiritual climate of this time period?
The plot thread could definitely work in other eras. The emotional thread involving people with opposing views falling in love can also be placed in other eras. The romance thread works because historically people on opposite sides of issues and wars have fallen love. Sometimes it works out better than others. Finally, the spiritual thread, which centers on the hero and heroine both growing in the grace of God, can also find a home in any other era. So, yes, I think these conflicts are universal and can be found in any era.
Any parting thoughts for our readers before we say goodbye?
I pray that those who read my books will discover their roots in American freedom and come to appreciate all that has been done for them. Of course, some readers may live in other countries, so I pray they will enjoy my story and apply the spiritual themes to their own lives. God knows you, He loves you, and He has a plan for your life. To seek that path and to trust His wisdom is to find the greatest happiness in life.
Excellent words of wisdom, Louise. Thank you so much for visiting today. I enjoyed learning more about you and your writing. I hope you'll come again sometime.
The Captain's Lady
Torn between love and duty, American Patriot James Templeton must deny his heart to help win his country's freedom. Captain Templeton's orders from General Washington are clear. His target: Lord Bennington, a member of George III's Privy Council. The assignment: find Bennington's war plans. The risks: the future of the East Florida Colony, Jamie's life...and his heart. In spite of the dangers of their hopeless situation, he's fallen in love with Lady Marianne Moberly, Lord Bennington's daughter. Desperate to protect his country, Jamie carries out his orders with a heavy heart. But Marianne's persistence is a challenge he never expected. With love and faith, they must navigate troubled waters to win their future together.
The Captain’s Lady is available at eharlequin.com, amazon.com, cbd.com, borders.com, barnesandnoble.com. ISBN: 13-978-0-373-82832-6
Click here to read Dina's review of The Captain's Lady
Louise should be stopping by today, so please leave your questions and comments for her.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
When I told my husband that I’d come up with the idea of posting on the Reformation during “To Era is Human” week, he smartly reminded me that the Protestant Reformation was not an era. It was a movement.
Well, I’m going to talk about it anyway. While some may view the Reformation as a time of heavy theology or (perhaps) boring history, I see it as a thrilling time of change in the Church which has affected each of us, Protestant or not. If you own a Bible in your own language, have never paid money to earn forgiveness of sins, or have a married pastor, you have the work of 16th century Reformers to thank. But their work was not easy, nor safe.
The participants of the Reformation lived in a time of intrigue, danger, and (much to my sentimental pleasure) even some romance, too. Some Reformation-period factoids are downright scandalous.
Here’s a bit of what I mean:
From Germany to Scotland, England to Switzerland, many theologians and average joes questioned what they regarded as false doctrines: the authority of the pope, the requirement of celibate clergy, and the sale of indulgences (payments to get into heaven), among other things. When Pope Leo X declared his intention to fund the building of St. Peter's Basilica with monies raised from the sales of indulgences, a monk named Johann Tetzel was commissioned to travel throughout Germany, hawking indulgences with all the gusto of a street vendor. Tetzel promised that “whene’er a coin in coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.”
Tetzel’s mission initiated outrage as well as political intrigue. Archbishop Albert of Mainz, in whose territory Tetzel was working, wanted some of the indulgence income to pay off a bank debt. Elector Frederick the Wise, however, banned Tetzel from Wittenburg so his people’s money would line his pockets, not the pope’s. Martin Luther had enough, and it wasn’t long before the times, they were a' changin’.
Smuggling nuns was a capital offense, punishable by both church and state. (Am I alone, or doesn’t it seem like a good idea to have a law against smuggling people?) Therefore, merchant Leonard Koppe faced grave danger the night before Easter, 1523, when he helped twelve nuns escape their cloister by hiding them in the back of his wagon. Among them was Katharina von Bura, the future Mrs. Luther.
Water was a suspect beverage, so brewing beer was as much a part of a housewife’s daily routine as laundry or baking. Luther enjoyed Katharina’s home brew very much, and had a large stein in which to drink it. The stein was decorated with three rings, representing the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and The Nicene Creed.
It’s been noted that much of the work which bore fruit during the Reformation was accomplished in taverns. Englishmen Thomas Bilney, Edward Fox and Robert Barnes met at the White Horse Tavern to discuss their ideas. (Other notable Christians who’ve gathered for intellectual discourse at a pub? C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein, at the Eagle and Child in Oxford.)
Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury and author and compiler of the first two Books of Common Prayer, believed in clerical marriage. Henry VIII did not. Yet Cranmer fell in love with a fair German maiden, Margaret. Despite the danger, he married her anyway, although in secret. Rumor said that Margaret hid in a box to escape detection, though some historians dismiss this as a legend explaining how well Cranmer hid her existence. Others believe Cranmer’s marriage was an open secret, but nevertheless, many of Cranmer’s enemies never caught on.
John Calvin determined to marry too, though he didn’t have a lady in mind. Friends recommended a certain noblewoman for his consideration, and though he agreed, the match never came about. He later said he wouldn’t have wed her “unless the Lord had entirely bereft me of my wits.” He found happiness with widow Idelette de Bure.
Church music began to change during the Reformation. The first protestant hymn (“The Only Son from Heaven,” 1524) was written by a woman, Elisabeth Cruciger, who was also married in the first recorded protestant wedding.
Many Reformers had prices on their heads. Some died in poverty; others, like Cranmer, were executed. Reformation was not a bloodless endeavor. The 16th century saw a Counter Reformation, years of war (the Thirty Years War is said to have killed over 25% of Germany’s population), and unrelenting flux as individuals continued their quest for religious freedom. A few of these folks boarded a ship to find a place where they could worship in their own way: here in America, we call these early New England settlers Pilgrims.
The Reformation continues to shape us, no matter our denomination. The right to worship in our own way, to read Scripture and interpret it ourselves is fruit borne from the work of this astonishing period. Even if it isn’t technically an “era.”
Chadwick, Owen. The Reformation. Penguin, 1964.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Could be or could not be an anomaly, that is the question of which I'd need at least half a day to ponder.
Anyhoo, this Great Pacific Garbage Patch spans "the size of Texas." Texas!?! I've been to Texas. It's huge-er than huge and that's not just the hair on the women. (On a side note, I read the other day that you might be a redneck if your stock portfolio consists of two sheep and a goat.) Get this: Imagine Texas-size trash heap floating aimlessly amid all those adorable human-eating sea critters....
Oh. My. Satellite Dishes. Poor SpongeBob and Patrick.
My mind is swimming...I mean, spinning. But what's even more dreadful is the fact no one has pictures of this ginormous garbage. In this crazy day and electronic age when everyone but me has a mobile phone, surely someone with the time could mosey on out to that plastic-filled gyre and take a pic. I want a pic. While in labor with child #5, I suffered through six hours of the Anna Nicole burial trial. I freakin' deserve a pic! (No offense intended to anyone offened by the accidental use of the minor-f-word. Hubby spent three days in Disney World, leaving me alone with all of our five children, the dog who dislikes our nice Asian neighbors, and a cat who just won't run away. My nerves are rattled.)
Sadly, it's impossible to take a picture of this watery trash. Why? Experts say, "Since plastics break down to ever smaller polymers, concentrations of submerged particles are not visible from space, nor do they appear as a continuous debris field. Instead, the patch is defined as an area in which the mass of plastic debris in the upper water column is significantly higher than average."
Huh? You lost me at polymer. Is that a cousin to polyester? Machine washable or dry clean only?
So, in other less scientificky words, the reason for no pictures is because "[the garbage patch] is [a] huge pile of trash collectively, but trash so small individually that the patch doesn’t show up."
If I understand correctly it's like air: unseeable, untouchable, untasteable, made up of bajillions of oxygen atoms that are so utterly small that we can see them even though we can breathe them. Obviously since I need oxygen to survive and since I'm still breathing, then, ergo, air does exist. Ergo, the Garbage Patch of the Great Pacific and other oceans exists.
Can you hear me sighing?
Call me Doubting Gina if you wish, but for me to believe this votex of swirling semisynthetic organic amorphous solid exists, I want proof. I want a picture! I want evidence! I want thousands of people who believe the Garbage Patch exist to suffer torture, imprisonment, and even death in the name of their faith in the existence of this littery waterworld!!!!!
Oh dear. I just typed five exclamation points. Perhaps I'm being a tad dramatic. (See note above on hubby in Disney and me alone with children.)
For many people, the problem with faith is the fact that faith doesn't prove God exists. You know, faith doesn't prove that "in the beginning," God created anything. The age-old faith issue. Does He or doesn't He. In my less-thn-forty-years-lifetime, I've learned that anyone who doesn't believe in God says those who do are narrow-minded. Well, to me, narrow-minded signals an unwillingness to consider other possibilities than what we believe.
I believe God exists and that He created the heavens, the earth, and all things in and around them in six literal 24-hour days. I'd go to my death for that belief. However, I'm also willing to honestly listen to someone explain to me why He doesn't and He didn't.
Does God exist? Click here for some answers or here or take a trip to an Ohio museum.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” ~Hebrews 11:6
Serious question of the Day: Ever learned anything cool/interesting/weird about creation or the existance of God? If so, what was it?
Non-serious question of the Day: What summer movie are you most looking forward to?