Friday, June 30, 2006

The Gray Lands vs Absolute Paradise

I'm striped with a thin--but undeniable--authoritarian streak. I like rules. I like conformity to rules.

Perhaps it's from all that Catholic schooling. Perhaps it was from having parents who issued very clear decrees of acceptable and non-acceptable behavior.

Perhaps it's in my DNA.

We are what we are in terms of how much we need to know and how many guidelines we prefer to have.

Granted, I love mystery and the ineffable in many areas--when it comes to the nature of God, when it comes to the vastness of love, when it comes to the wonders of the universe, in fiction and poetry, in a well-made film, in a painting.

Not in the area of morality.

I like clear delineations: of black and white, of right and wrong, of virtue and vice, of good and evil. I like for the rules to be clear, posted, and have weight and enforcement.

I figure this is why I'm no libertarian. I'm anti-totalitarian, so I'm a champion of republics. It's a line I walk all the time: my desire for clarity about proper conduct and mechanisms to enforce it, and my desire to let myself and others choose their right path.

(That tension is frustrating, but it forces me to examine myself and my world constantly, which is good for the soul and my brain.)

The zebra is lovely to me. If it were all blurry, I'd probably be less impressed.

Perhaps this is why the Old Testament bothers me, but a lot less than it does many others. I understand judgment for sin. Disobey and die. Disobey and get sick. Disobey and lose the land. Disobey and be enslaved. Obey and be blessed. Obey and your crops prosper. Obey and your children thrive. Obey and you own your own land and the Lord smites your enemies.

I also understand that many of the more troublesome parts are man's inhumanity or--more attractive to my creative mind--elements in a Grand Poem, where metaphors rule, sometimes at the expense of privileges to groups of the disenfranchised.

Living with the paradoxes of multi-dimensional reality, the paradoxes inherent in dwelling inside this cosmos seeded with knowledge of The Perfect while mired in the sticky mud of mortality and original sin--living in this environment forces one to accept some unflattering shades of gray.

I know that. I don't like that.

I look great in black, great in white. I look very sallow and icky in gray.

I came across a poem by Robert Frazier today, and these lines stopped me cold:

always there is this unquenched desire
a raw thirst for precision for absolutes


That is me.

(Or, if you have an unquenched desire for grammatical precision: That is I.)

I like knowing precisely, absolutely, what it is I should do and what it is you should do in every circumstance.

Life ain't like that.

God gives some very good guidelines and rules and commands, but they aren't absolutely, precisely exhaustive. If they were, Torah scholars and Christian theologians would not have been pondering, debating, commentary writing, council holding, decree pronouncing, and heretic hunting for the last three millenia.

Some things God lets us figure out in community and with wisdom and with maturity and with grace and with love.

Of course, what breaks my heart--or fires up my temper--is when what is clear-cut is roughened, when what is not really debatable is twisted and warped with sophisticated but deceptive argumentation. The blacks and the whites forced to become the color of ashes or of the dead.

One thing I look forward to daily---DAILY!--is to come into that glory-defined moment when I see Him and He sees me, and His mind suffuses mine seamlessly, and all the gray is bleached by his beauty and truth, and turns to white.

SF Poets, Heads Up! Only Hours Left To Enter the SFPA Poetry Contest

No Fee to enter.
Simple submission process:

Just paste your poem
of fourteen lines or fewer
on the theme of mirror(s)
into the body of the email
with your address, with your name.
Subject line should read "Contest"
followed by the poem's title.

How simple. How free.
And talented poets judge you.

Can your verse measure up?

Go to them. Read. Be bold. Submit.

You've only got 'til midnight.

You should have known.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Wives of Canadian Terrorists Back Hubbies Blowing Up Canuck and Western Infidels

Yep, it's not just the menfolk--those pesky Canadian Jihadists who planned to storm parliament and cut off the head of the Prime minister-- who suffer from bomb-the-infidel-ophilia

It's a family fetish:

When it came time to write up the premarital agreement between Zakaria Amara and Nada Farooq, Ms. Farooq briefly considered adding a clause that would allow her to ask for a divorce.

She said that Mr. Amara (now accused of being a leader of the alleged terror plot that led to the arrests of 17 Muslim men early this month) had to aspire to take part in jihad.

"[And] if he ever refuses a clear opportunity to leave for jihad, then i want the choice of divorce," she wrote in one of more than 6,000 Internet postings uncovered by The Globe and Mail.

Wives of four of the central figures arrested last month were among the most active on the website, sharing, among other things, their passion for holy war, disgust at virtually every aspect of non-Muslim society and a hatred of Canada.


Hatred of Canada. Well, I don't know, it seems like an okay place to me. I've quite liked the Canucks I've met over the years. I may not be liberal enough for 'em. Still, they try hard to take care of the folks there and offer a free democracy for those who appreciate that sort of thing.

And, hey, they gave us k.d. lang and Celine Dion and Mike Myers. (I like gifted female vocalization and wacky humor.) And my pal, Jules, comes from the Great North, she who is one of the world's nicest and smartest persons.

Some folks don't know when they've got it good.

Yeah, if these women hate Canada and Canadian "Western" ideals so much that they'd blow their fellow Canadians into wee pieces, then dang, don't live there!

I cheerfully suggest she and her jihadist galpals move to an Islamic country where the Shaheed Sisters United can organize a proper Islamic gov't their way, a la Taliban, Super Shariah-sized, and then burqa up a storm and be a second-class female citizen to the full extent of her whacked heart's delight. Won't be able to have email forums, but hey, it's all for the greater good.

(Advice from an Infidel Zionist Evangelical Christian Who Likes Freedom of Speech and Going To School and Being Able To Show My Face and Elbows and Knees In Public: Don't go grocery shopping without hubby or uncle or dad in tow. You might get clubbed to death in front of the pile of tomatoes before you can explain how submissive and holy you are and how you support crushing homosexuals to death in public or throwing them off high towers in execution, or how you love shooting Jews and Christians, cause, hey, they're just in the way of the grand Islamic scheme.)

There are a few of these Dar-Al-Islam countries you can start to purify TODAY! Choose one. Pack. Head out. Build the Talibanic paradise in, oh, Iran or Yemen.It's so much easier to start there, where it's not from scratch like it is in North America. Fewer pesky Jews and Christians and Buddhists and Atheists and Universalists and Hindus to deal with. Remember to cover up, head-to-toe, even in 110 degrees. And keep sharp knives handy for when you have to stab your daughter to death for reading a novel.

Go. Now. Muslim nations need your help much more than Canada.

Don't expect to be missed.



Hat Tip to LGF/HATEFUL CHATTER BEHIND THE VEIL

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"The Fortunate Purgatory of Arthur MacArthur" by Chris Mikesell

Professor MacArthur finds himself trapped in Purgatory with an imprisoned dragon. Will he make it out before the dragon breaks free?


Finally, you may read the story the panel of editors selected from all entries as the winner of Dragons, Knights & Angels' fiction contest. It's a story with quirkiness and a fresh look at . . . redemption?

Humor and an unreliable narrator add that extra bit of "Well, did he or didn't he?" that made this story stand out among the competition. One of the judging criteria was "innovative use of the elements." See for yourself if the judges were right.

I present for your reading pleasure, the winner and his tale:

"The Fortunate Purgatory of Arthur MacArthur"
by Chris Mikesell



And here's a taste--the story's opening lines:

I don’t know how I died, but I’m certain it happened at some point. I still eat, yes; drink, of course; and take care of business at the other end of the food chain, as my mother used to say. Nevertheless, I am quite dead. There’s no other explanation for...things.

Pop Theology Quiz: Answer

How many sins will get you excommunicated?

Specifically, One:

Impenitence


Granted, the reason the young man was excommunicated in 1 Corinthians was for sexual immorality. (Still a good reason for church discipline, IMO, since we're as wayward as ever.)

But from Paul's response in 2 Corinthians, the man's penitence resulted in the command to love him and receive him back into the fellowship, speedily, so as not to overwhelm the penitent with sorrow.

So, actually, if the young man had been penitent as soon as he'd been "caught" or admonished, one could assume he would not have needed excommunication.

Excommunication, then, is actually for the impenitent sinner.

Consider: If the elders or other brethren approach the acknowledged and confirmed sinner in a proper format for church discipline, if they ask him or her in firm holiness and Christian love to cease doing X sin, because X sin is bringing shame to the person and doing harm to the household of faith; if the person is then sorrowful and repentent and willing to cease the sinful activity and seek wise counsel within the church, taking advantage of whatever spiritual aid is available for reconciliation; then there is no need for the full disfellowshipping that is excommunication, is there?

So, impenitence is the real, sole sin that leads to proper excommunication.

Do you agree? Or do you disagree?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Becky Miller's Hosting Jeff Gerke This Week--Hurry On Over There!

Every one out there who wants to read more and better Christian speculative fiction, listen up: You NEED TO PRAY for and SUPPORT the work Mr. Jeff Gerke does as editor at NavPress.

Bossy, ain't I?

Well, yeah, but this is for a good cause.

My online pal, Becky Miller, is hosting Mr. Gerke this week at her wonderful, smart, fun, intelligent, discussion-filled blog, A Christian Worldview Of Fiction.

Please drop by and leave a comment or question for Mr. Gerke.

And pray we get more editors with his appreciation for SF/F in the other CBA houses.

Note: Sharon Hinck signed a three-book contract with Jeff for a Mom-Lit/Fantasy. If you like Mom Lit, support this series when it comes out next year, and pray for it NOW as NavPress figures out how to market and promote it. Pray that all goes swimmingly.

Sharon--by everything I've heard, not knowing her personally--is a terrific God-loving gal with a sense of humor. Her book may be the one that brings scads of women readers to support Christian speculative fiction. That, my dears, is a good thing. (As long as the editors out there don't start doing the bandwagon, "Oh, we just want more mom-lit fantasies, which would make the Mir groan.)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Pop Theology Quiz

How many sins will get you excommunicated, according to Paul?


Note: Don't google it. Don't research it in your texts. Give it your best solo shot. Answer it in comments.

Answer will be posted soon.

Take An Angel, Take A Stone, Stir In A Knight, Some Dragons, And Three Years. What D'Ya Get?

Find out by reading the story Jane Lebak wrote. Her tale ranked as runner-up in the fiction contest at DRAGONS, KNIGHTS & ANGELS .

"Even A Stone"


Congratulations, Jane!

A Bit More On Music

If you visit my corner of MySpace --opened it a couple days ago--and click to see my profile, you'll have the chance to click on the little silver musical control doohickey icon. (What is the name for that?)

Why should you do this?

It'll give you the chance to hear "To Cover You" by The Choir. It's from 1989, their quite good WIDE-EYED WONDER cd. One of my fave The Choir tunes, that song. Fun to sing, too. A flash from The Mir's past.

And anyone who loves, really loves, someone--a child, a spouse--can sing this and mean it:

Set my guitar on fire with a long-stemmed match,
Dance while it burns and laugh when it turns to ash.
I would torch everything to keep you warm.
I would do anything to keep you from harm.

I would do anything to cover you body and soul, girl.
I would give everything in the world to cover you,
to cover you.

Walk down a dark street naked on a winter night.
Run from the law like the Sunday I saw the light.
To defend your spirit I would go to war,
I would chase the devil to Jehovah's door.

I would do anything to cover you body and soul, girl.
I would give everything in the world to cover you.
I would do anything to wrap you up tight on a cold night.
I would give everything that I have to cover you,
to cover you.


Click the Doohickey. Sing along. Dance if the Spirit moves you.

~ ~ ~


Am so torn about the whole Mute Math situation. I mean, they are so talented. I am coveting their new cd, with that kicking tune "Chaos." It's got other super songs.

But man, that lawsuit thing is really bugging me. Feels like they're slapping ME in the face, me, a member of the CCM audience, a purchaser of Word products, the "Christian audience" they want to distance themselves from in pursuit of mainstream music chart happiness.

I dunno. Maybe, I'm not being fair. Maybe.

Mute Math gets muted by the Mir. For now.

(They'll still sell millions, so I'm sure my little snit won't mean a thing to them, while they have their big snit.)

Yeah, I got a temper.

Friday, June 23, 2006

MIRATHON MUSIC MISCELLANY

FIRST ITEM:

The Wes King Tribute Project

Some of you may be very familiar with Wes King's music. I got the chance to go to a kicking-good concert some years ago at a roomy Baptist church in Fort Lauderdale. It had Wes, Phil Keaggy, and one of my top-fave-revered Christian acts, OUT OF THE GREY. I cannot tell you how good it was. I almost needed some duct tape to keep myself from exploding with delight.

Sadly, Wes King became ill. Burkitt's Lymphoma. If any of you have ever had a loved one undergo serious treatment for cancer, you know the treatment can be horrifying. It was for Wes. He's doing better, but I'm sure your prayers would do him much good.

So, lots of talented folks, friends of Wes and artists you may recognize, have covered a slew of Wes' songs to raise money for Wes and his family as he undergoes his treatments and recovery. You can help Wes with a donation/purchase.

And you can help yourself with some great, God-honoring tunes.

The CD is titled after a song by Wes and the purpose for the project:

Life Is Precious: A Wes King Tribute

I ordered it yesterday. My impressions based on the samples:

Luminous does a wonderful and fresh cover of "The Robe," perhaps my favorite Wes song in terms of how it makes me feel when I sing it. And this group is FANTASTIC. I tried to find a cd online by Luminous--cause I loved their sound--but they're in NZ and to order the cd is 30 bucks. Ouch. Still, I may order it all the same. Go here to sample their work.

The Shelley Moore Band does an impeccable job with "Did You Tremble?" Her vocals are reminiscent of Natalie Merchant with a hint of Jennifer Knapp, but Shelly didn't bore me the way Natalie tends to.

Kim Hill, one of my fave CCM artists, covers "By His Wounds." I think it's not Kim's best. It's a song that has lovely bits, though is not uniformly great, so I figure Kim did her best. Some fun guitar touches.

Scott Krippayne covers "Lazarus," which offers some awfully nice piano work.

Phil Keaggy adds his superb guitar work (as usual) in his cover of "Getting Used To The Darkness." His McCartneyish voice has aged into a deeper, less boyish sound, which I think suits the song.

Sarah Adams sanctifies "Holy" with her marvelous, moody interpretation. The slight break in her voice when she sings, "For when I see him, I shall be as He is," matches my own experience when I think about that longed-for-day.

SF-related/Fandom Note: I could envision this song on a Buffy TVS soundtrack. It's got that yearning-female-vocalist with an-atmospheric- arrangement sound. I love it.

You can sample more of her music at her site.

Amy's Confession adds a gorgeous interpretation of "In a Moment," a song you'll want to play in your car on a sunny day--if you can hit a long stretch of road. Program repeat. The bridge is a deliciously haunting thing.

Goodbye Audio unabashedly rocks out on "Since I Was A Kid." Garagey-band fun!

Paul Colman's cover of "Holy Ghost" makes me want to put on heels and walk like a video-babe up and down my living room. I've never been a babe and never will be (unless we get to be babes in Paradise.) But this song is so strutalicious, well, I can't help myself. : : fingers snapping : :

Another one to definitely try at the site: Brother Down's "Simflify."

I've gushed enough. Here's what I really didn't like:

Derek Webb's "I Believe," sounds less like he believes and more like he needs a nap. I have his excellent "She Must and Shall Go Free" on hubby's iPod. Listen to that, skip this one. (But buy the tribute cd!)

Cheri Keaggy's vocals on "Life Is Precious" didn't make me feel like life was a basket of rubies. It made me want inexpensive ear plugs.


SECOND ITEM:

If any of you out there are fans of Twila Paris--whose music I've loved since I was a fresh-faced 24 year-old--you'll want to hurry to give Carolyn Cavanagh a listen. (I discovered her through MySpace.) Sample "Worship You" and tell me if you wouldn't have thought Twila was singing had you not known otherwise?

My fave is "Make Me A Candle." The music rushes briskly and Carolyn's voice fits it perfectly--ethereal, vulnerable, but passionate. "Emmanuel" is a lovely addition to the Christmas catalog. "I Will Bow" makes me want to lower my body and praise God. It should fit nicely in many a church repertoire.

I was less blown away by the "Irish Blessing" that has so many others raving. I guess having listened to Rita Connolly and Connie Dover and Maire Brennan and Aine Furey and Iona and Capercaille for years has raised the "pretty Irish tune" bar for me. But if you liked that Titanic song, you'll like this one. Same feel.

ITEM THREE:

If you like Kim Hill--and if you don't, what the heck is wrong with ya?--she's got a new cd called BROKEN THINGS

Kim's strong, "natural woman" vocals--that can do both country and rock effectively--are drenched with the power of a spiritual, but authentic woman who's got a guitar and knows how to strum it. Why this talented woman isn't more widely known, well, it's a mystery!

Thank You For Joining the 2nd CSFFBT!

All of us who participated in the June 20-23 Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour thank all of you who joined us, prayed for us, read our posts, commented, and purchased Dragonknight (or any of Donita's books).

Some of us--see Becky Miller and Rebecca Grabill--are continuing an extra day.

Remember, the tour will be back next month. Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Why Mir Is Grinning Like A Kook Today

A comment under the previous post by a person unknown to me prior to about an hour ago has totally made the Mir's day.

Cause, you know, the writing has been going rough in June. My muse must have taken that villa in Tuscany for a few weeks.

So, to come online and find the following is a sweet treat indeed:

I just read your "Voices from the Void" story that won the Sword Review competition. Because of how small the competition was (and low paying) and because of the "Christian" element, I assumed the story would be crap, the lesser of a handful of peurile and narrow minded evils.

So boy was I amazed to read it and find it one of the best sci-fi shorts I've ever read. Intelligent and evocative, rich in metaphor and symbol. Totally engrossing and imaginative. I loved the "hush" motif. Personally, I would have made "Hush" the title. I loved the way you use the stars as "punctuation" simile, the memorable, Kafka-esque characters.

Great piece of work. Deserves a much larger stage imo. Just wanted you to know, and to thank you.



No, Mr. Miller. I thank YOU!

If you can handle a very frank, funny, even snarky bit of blogging, visit Christopher Miller's online soapbox. Not for the faint of heart. Prepare to chuckle.

And if you haven't read "Voices From The Void"--which, yes, I would happily retitle "Hush," given the chance, as that's a much better title, and it's also, coincidentally, the title of one of my favorite Buffy The Vampire Slayer episodes--please do click on the link and try it out. Then please come back and comment here on what you thought.

Especially if it's anywhere near as nice a response as Mr. Miller's.

: : grin : :

An Apocryphal Kind of Dragon and Dragonslayer

In the picnic park of Christianity, you'll find me frolicking in the Evangelical Christianity section. And maybe many of you are in that same favored spot. If so, you may not be familiar with the apocryphal books and their tales.

I was raised Roman Catholic, baptized and confirmed, educated by Dominican sisters, and well-loved by a strongly spiritual Mami who was devoted to St. Francis--she wore the brown habit-thingie on holy days, with that long rosary of wooden beads--and St. Helena of the True Cross, whom Mami said she saw in a vision when she was hospitalized and gravely ill in Cuba, the very same who proclaimed mother healed. Voila, Mami got healed.

So, you can guess that my home Bible growing up--this huge thing with illustrations--had the apocryphal books, books which feel mighty comfy and welcomed in the Catholic Bible. (I'm not sure, but I think Anglicans have 'em, too.)

I remember reading the story of the Jewish "Hammer" in my mom's Bible. Or in my own Jerusalem Bible I got shortly before I graduated from Catholic grade school.

In fact, I didn't read Daniel until after I converted. I read it from my own softcover, cheapo, maroon, New American Standard Bible that didn't have the apocryphal, additional chapters I would have found in my mom's Bible.

Tangent: I still have that Bible--it's been 31 years!--and it's all curled in the corners and a bit battered in the spine and lots of underlining and some highlighting in there. I rarely use it, just sentimental attachment, really. I got myself a LEATHER BIBLE as an adult, and I've never looked back.

Anyway, it's in those extra chapters of Daniel where the dragon shows up.

So, since the topic this week has been DRAGONS, why not take a moment to read about Habakkuk as a "fast" food delivery boy and Daniel as a holy dragonslayer:

23: There was also a great dragon, which the Babylonians revered.
24: And the king said to Daniel, "You cannot deny that this is a living god; so worship him."
25: Daniel said, "I will worship the Lord my God, for he is the living God.
26: But if you, O king, will give me permission, I will slay the dragon without sword or club." The king said, "I give you permission."
27: Then Daniel took pitch, fat, and hair, and boiled them together and made cakes, which he fed to the dragon. The dragon ate them, and burst open. And Daniel said, "See what you have been worshiping!"
28: When the Babylonians heard it, they were very indignant and conspired against the king, saying, "The king has become a Jew; he has destroyed Bel, and slain the dragon, and slaughtered the priests."
29: Going to the king, they said, "Hand Daniel over to us, or else we will kill you and your household."
30: The king saw that they were pressing him hard, and under compulsion he handed Daniel over to them.
31: They threw Daniel into the lions' den, and he was there for six days.
32: There were seven lions in the den, and every day they had been given two human bodies and two sheep; but these were not given to them now, so that they might devour Daniel.
33: Now the prophet Habakkuk was in Judea. He had boiled pottage and had broken bread into a bowl, and was going into the field to take it to the reapers.
34: But the angel of the Lord said to Habakkuk, "Take the dinner which you have to Babylon, to Daniel, in the lions' den."
35: Habakkuk said, "Sir, I have never seen Babylon, and I know nothing about the den."
36: Then the angel of the Lord took him by the crown of his head, and lifted him by his hair and set him down in Babylon, right over the den, with the rushing sound of the wind itself.
37: Then Habakkuk shouted, "Daniel, Daniel! Take the dinner which God has sent you."
38: And Daniel said, "Thou hast remembered me, O God, and hast not forsaken those who love thee."
39: So Daniel arose and ate. And the angel of God immediately returned Habakkuk to his own place.
40: On the seventh day the king came to mourn for Daniel. When he came to the den he looked in, and there sat Daniel.
41: And the king shouted with a loud voice, "Thou art great, O Lord God of Daniel, and there is no other besides thee."
42: And he pulled Daniel out, and threw into the den the men who had attempted his destruction, and they were devoured immediately before his eyes.

Head on over here to read the preceding story of Bel the idol and how Daniel handles that situation.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Christian Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Tour Continues: Discourses & "Draconian" Merriment!

Not all the fabulous peops participating in the CSF&FBT -- see the header -- are sticking to posting reviews and interviews.

One is taking a stroll down a critterly byroad and another isspeculating about the evolution of the gnome-phobic, fantasy-avoiding editor. One is providing insight into her experience critiquing parts of the DragonKeeper Chronicles.





Visit the Blog Tour Homeys:

Sally Apokedak
Valerie Comer
Johne Cook
Janey DeMeo
Mary E. DeMuth
Beth "SF Genesis Finalist" Goddard
Rebecca "SF Genesis Finalist" Grabill
Leathel Grody
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Marcia Laycock
Shannon "SF Genesis Finalist" McNear
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla "SF Genesis Finalist" Miller
Mirtika "SF Genesis Finalist" Schultz aka Me
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower

Dragon Week Continues: The DKA Fiction Contest Stories, Honorable Mentions

If you haven't visited DRAGONS, KNIGHTS & ANGELS recently, you may want to do so. The two stories that won "honorable mention" are up and ready to be enjoyed by you:

The Waters Stir
by Rachel A. Marks
(The author also drew an illustration for her piece, which I think is a cool thing to be able to do.)

In one swift rise of water and wind, a wave hovered high above them. It grew wings and a snout. Red eyes appeared, large and vibrant; a water sculpture in the sky. A dragon, so large the sky disappeared behind it.     


Heartwyrm
by Micheal C. Planck
(Do read the author's self-assessment of his "gifts." It's found right after the story's last line, and it's a hoot.)

A fable of adventure, involving a knight and some dangerous, well-armed metaphors. Also possibly including a dragon and an angel, love and death, and war and peace. But no taxes.



Yes, indeedy: It's Dragons Week!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

THE DRAGONKEEPER CHRONICLES: Second Stop of the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour

An author named Donita Paul,
writes young adults book you may call
the Quest and the Spell
of the Dragons. Pray tell,
Have you read one or two or, hey, all?


Limericks are a sorta in-joke among some of us blog tourmates. Blame it on Lee. And feel free to mock my effort, a mere ice-breaker.

Why am I breaking ice? (No, it's not for my glass of Coke Zero. Too late, or early, for that.) Here's why:

It's time for round two of the CHRISTIAN FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION BLOG TOUR. (We'll come up with some catchy name eventually. Maybe.)

Our blog tour focus for the next three days will be DONITA K. PAUL and her DRAGONKEEPER CHRONICLES. (I will refer henceforth to the series as DC, ok?) The preceding link will take you to the official site, where you can subscribe to the newsletter, enter a monthly prize drawing, post in the fan forum, browse recipes, and LOTS more. Plus, all you literarily creative folks can check out the info on the June 26 chat, where Mrs. Paul will offer insights on writing fiction. Becky Miller has announced a chat tonight, so head over to her blog (see links way below) and get details.

So, why are we focusing on Mrs. Paul, you ask?

Well, first, because the third book in the series releases today: DRAGONKNIGHT.



That's a good reason, eh?

Second, because young folks have responded very well to the books, and that's always a cause for celebration. And some not-so-young folks have very nice things to say about them as well. That's also a good thing.

The three books out so far in the DC series are as follows (blurbs from official site):

1. DragonSpell

One Dragon Egg Holds the Key to the Future.
Once a slave, Kale is given the unexpected opportunity to become a servant to Paladin. Yet this young girl has much to learn about the difference between slavery and service.

A Desperate Search Begins...
A small band of Paladin's servants rescue Kale from danger but turn her from her destination: The Hall, where she was to be trained. Feeling afraid and unprepared, Kale embarks on a perilous quest to find the meech dragon egg stolen by the foul wizard Risto. First, she and her comrades must find Wizard Fenworth. But their journey is threatened when a key member of the party is captured, leaving the remaining companions to find Fenworth, attempt an impossible rescue, and recover the egg whose true value they have not begun to suspect...

Weaving together memorable characters, daring adventure, and a core of eternal truth, Dragonspell is a finely crafted and welcome addition to the corpus of fantasy fiction.


2. DragonQuest

A New Quest Begins.
A dragonkeeper of Paladin, Kale is summoned from The Hall to The Bogs by the Wizard Fenworth to serve as his apprentice and tend his newly hatched meech dragon, Regidor. But Kale isn't going alone. The Hall is sending a student to monitor her performance and report back to the scholars. Worst of all, it's Bardon -- an older boy Kale finds irritating but who at least can hold his own in a sword fight.

New Friendships are Forged
Meanwhile, Wizard Risto has seized another meech dragon, bringing him dangerously close to gaining the power he seeks. So with only a motley band of companions, Kale sets out on a desperate quest to rescue the second meech, to free those dragons already enslaved, and to thwart Risto's devious plans. It's up to Kale to lead the search and to embrace the role that's rightfully hers. But will her efforts be enough to save the land of Amara from the dark future that awaits at Risto's hands?


3. DragonKnight

Before vowing his allegiance to Wulder as a knight, Bardon heads to the mountains for solitude. His life is suddenly complicated by a woman and her granddaughter, N’Rae, on a mission to rescue the woman’s son trapped in a chamber of sleep. Bardon learns that more of Paladin’s knights are imprisoned–and suspects one of them is Dragon Keeper Kale’s missing father.

The secret is in their hands–and hearts.

The band travels north, uncertain of their destination and encountering numerous perils. When they unlock the chamber, they discover a dozen knights–who cannot be awakened. The journal holding the secret to rousing them is in an unknown language. How can they find the help they need, and overcome even graver obstacles, to rescue the knights?



Novel Journey interviewed Mrs. Paul a couple of months ago. Check it out here.

Visit the following blogs for more on Donita and her books, including an interview and some reviews and, hey, maybe some free books:

Sally Apokedak
Valerie Comer
Johne Cook
Janey DeMeo
Mary E. DeMuth
Beth Goddard
Rebecca Grabill
Leathel Grody
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Marcia Laycock
Shannon McNear
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika Schultz
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ MORE TO COME!~ ~ ~ ~ ~



SUPPORT CHRISTIAN FANTASISTS!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Religion Blogtalk Round-Up

~ ~Carmen, she of the faboo blog called IN THE OPEN SPACE: God & Culture, is doing some deep-thinking about "how to do church" in our day-'n-age. You should check it out. Good links there. Lotsa stuff to ponder.

~ ~At the Evangelical Outpost, you can read about a yearning for the return of the commies. Heh. Curious? After you read that, scroll down a bit to read "The Rise of Polyamorous Advertising." As someone who's used to ripping ads outta my regularly-read mags--originally to get rid of the 1. bulk and 2. perfumey stuff that makes Mir go achoo; lately to get rid of the blatantly sexually perverse crap--that article was of particular interest. Yeah, just what we need, more imagery of hedonistic sexual obsession.

~ ~GetReligion has a post on that female bishop thing. (Sigh, my heart and soul, sigh.) I hope the African bishops give us a good verbal walloping. Again. The Episcopalians in the US need a muscular spiritual spanking and a summer at theological boot camp.

~ ~Head to Apologia Christi and see how a wholesome flick gets a PG rating--not a G rating--cause, hey, all that Christianity talk can damage your kids. Right. Know what I think? I think those whack superficial-moneygrubbing-nitwits-on-display-and-skanky-'hos-on-parade movies need to be rated a huge D for the damage they cause, intellectually and spiritually. (Hop down a post from that one to read their post on Noah's Ark.)

~ ~Over at Speculative Catholic, read about the "Genome Guy" who "finds God." First Antony Flew--yes, he of many debates with theists, debates where he championed a godless state of affairs--abandons atheism, and now Francis Collins, director of the US National Human Genome Research Institute claims it's rational to believe in a creator, and better yet, that scientific discoveries bring man "closer to God."

As someone who thinks very highly of science--and came close to becoming a scientist before life took one of those strange turns--I would have to agree. Ditch the naturalistic/materialistic philosophical assumptions and look honestly at what there is, within and without, and God is everywhere to be seen. Do you see Him?

~ ~And over at Mere Comments is a post on gay behavior in animals, and what we may or may not be able to really learn from such activity. It's called "Seeds of Sexual Confusion." I liked this bit, myself:

What also seems to be the case from the descriptions given is that some animals somehow discover that part of their bodies, when touched in certain ways, make them feel good and so they start doing things to make themselves feel good with other members of their group as available. Apparently Roughgarden thinks we should all live this way. Let's just hope no one cites the case of a certain female insect eating the male after copulation as an excuse for legalizing copulatory cannibalism between consenting adults, if that's what turns them on.


~ ~For those of you who found great comfort and insight in Dallas Willard's THE DIVINE CONSPIRACY, well, you'll certainly want to check out THE GREAT OMISSION

And ignore the sole,3-star review by someone who's clearly got a baptismal agenda. Notice how he doesn't comment on any other aspect of the book except the baptismal "formula." I should direct him oh-so-gently to the last verses of Matthew or to read the formula preserved in the Didache, which is routinely dated quite a bit before Constantine. So, there.

~ ~Muslim headscarves? Okeydokey! Sikh bracelets? Bring 'em on! Christian purity pledge rings? Hang on there: NO WAY!

Why? Well, the kids could fall and hurt themselves wearing those. . . silver rings.

I believe that's the real reason. Yeah, I do. Uh-huh. I'm sure there's no anti-Christianity behind it at all. Hey, I need to let them know that the kids could, possibly, choke should those headscarves get caught on low tree branches. They might even slit their wrists if those kara bracelets, you know, cracked in two or something on a fall or bumping against one of those hard and dangerous concrete or brick walls.

See how utterly ridiculous the school in question is when it comes to reasoning it out? I see the wriggling of bigotry maggots in the underbelly of that administration. (Hat tip to Relevant)

That's today's round-up. Hope you have fun checking them out.

DRAGONS AHEAD: Want To Join the June Christian SF Blog Tour?

It's easy. Just post tomorrow, or the 21st, or, yeah, even the 22nd, on the subject of the tour. Or post all three days if you like!

June's focus is on Donita K. Paul's Y/A fantasy series, the DragonKeeper Chronicles. Visit Rebecca LuElla Miller's Site for info on how to participate. Little or big, whatever voice--and links--you can add to the tour is joyfully welcome!

Tourmates so far:


Johne Cook
Valerie Comer
Beth Goddard
Mirtika Schultz (Yes, moi!)
Matt Mikalatos
Katie Hart
Sally Apokedak
Sherrie Hibbs
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Marcia Laycock
Janey DeMeo
Shannon McNear
Rebecca Grabill
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Leathel Grody
Mary E. DeMuth


SUPPORT YOUR CHRISTIAN SPECULATIVE WRITERS!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

HAPPY ABBA'S DAY! and FELIZ DIA DE LOS PAPIS!

Abba is an Aramaic word for father. It's like our "daddy."

In Spanish, abba might be translated papi. That's what I called my pop, the Cuban version of daddy. You'd say it sort of like: PAH-pea.

I wish all you wonderful dads out there a HAPPY ABBA'S DAY.

And for all of you who still have living daddies: I insist you spoil your papis like mad and kiss them like crazy and feed them good things and tell them over and over how much you love-love-love them. Good fathers are irreplaceable treasures.

My abba--Francisco, Pancho, or (as my mom called him) Naran--died August 17, 1998. That's almost 8 years without being able to enjoy my Papi's laugh, see his face, watch him walk to the bakery for fresh Cuban bread, hear him putter in the backyard. Eight years since I've giggled when he teased my Mami.

I miss him terribly. So, today is kinda sad for me. And kinda happy. I thank God I had a Papi who loved me, who suffered for me, who gave up things for himself so I could have things I needed or wanted, who lit up when I came into a room.

So, I've been blessed.

I also carry the pain of knowing he suffered a great deal in his life, as did my Mami, and that he never got to return to a free Cuba, because the Castro regime outlived my father, who died at the age of 89--a couple weeks shy of 90, in fact.

I talk about that sometimes to my other abba, my heavenly Papi, God. I understand David's cry and lament about the wicked. Why do they thrive? Why do they flourish? Why do they live so long and do so much harm?

Well, enough of that. I choose today to remember the good: My dad peeling mangoes for me; taking me to Palisades Park or the Bronx Zoo; sucking and munching on sugar cane that my mother grew, while I did the same next to him; making ice cream by hand for the family, his special recipe; watching Westerns and Laurel and Hardy on tv, me translating; swimming far, far out in the ocean, and me with my toes in the wet sand, scared, so scared of losing him, waiting for him to come back safely to shore, hating the separation, and then that rushing joy when he came back and picked me up in his arms.

He's out in the ocean for a little while. Eight years, so far.

I'm the one who has to swim out to meet him someday.


A theological side-trip:

God is due the honor of a father (Malachi 1:6) and Israel referred to Him as such. (Jeremiah 3:4)

For Christians, the fatherhood of God is enshrined forever in the most famous of Christian prayers, the one Jesus used to show his apostles (and us) how to pray: "Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name . . . " (Matthew 6:9) The whole gospel of John upholds the glory of the Father, and the New Testament teaches we are adopted daughters and sons through faith in Christ, that our "sonship" is witnessed by the indwelling of the Spirit. We are part of God's family. And He is the Head.

Interestingly, and sadly to my thinking, God is not "father" is Islam. Surah 5:18 says, " "Jews and the Christians say, 'We are sons of Allah and His beloved'. Say: why then doth He punish you for your sins? Nay, you are but men of the men He has created."

Saturday, June 17, 2006

What Prayer Causes and What Sin Is Like: A Poetic Perspective

Greg Beatty speculates on the power of prayer in "Prayer Causes Stars." It's a charming bit of SF poetry.

I like it.

Maybe you will, too. Find out here: Abyss & Apex


~ ~ ~


Here is an excerpt of "Thoughts, From a Sin Eater" by Pam McNew, which may be found at Fortean Bureau:



Sin is small black larvae,
squirming among the vegetables,
maybe in the mashed potatoes.
perhaps among the green beans.

It is slimy, dark and fast.

It is sightless, but still searching,
even at the end, for a host.



Both of those poems (McNew's in its entirety, natch), in companion with other excellent offerings in speculative poetry, may be found here:

DRAGONS ARE COMING!

June 20th, they'll be here at Mirathon.

Almost the Real Thing: Coke Zero

For ages, I've grumbled about Diet Coke. You see, I grew up drinking real Coke, and I loved it. Diet Coke never tasted like real Coke, but sugarless. It tasted like some other cola product, but sugarless.

Coke Zero is the Coke-Classic-But-Without-Sugar that they ought to have produced AGES AGO!!! Why? Cause Diet Coke sucks. I don't care if you're hooked on it and love it. It is NOT LIKE COKE, the "real thing," the one in the red can with CLASSIC on it. Diet Coke is some watery, sorta-cola-ey, freaky doppelganger of a Coke. It's Coke to make you suffer at the memories of real Classic Coke. It's a freakish ersatz Coke.

Diet Coke. Blech.

Coke Zero, on the other hand, really has that particular tongue-mouth experience that Classic Coke used to give me. Not exactly, of course, because sugar is sugar, and no substitute is the same. But man, Coke Zero comes close enough that I can drink cola again.

And all those idiots out there ranting about how Coke Zero is a hoax or somesuch. Please. Go out and blindfold folks who only drink real Coke (not the Diet Coke crap), and let them sip some Diet Coke, then let them sip some Coke Zero. Let real Coke drinkers tell you which comes closer.

I already know. Because of Coke Zero, I'm buying diet cola again.

Aaaahhhhhhhh. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Write Fiction? Here's A Basket O' Yummy Contests!

If you write short stories or have a novel in progress, and if you have a raging talent aching to be praised, you may get a heaping helping of kudos from one or more of the following contests. Many have truly fabulous prizes. Some of the judges are top-notch.

Time to sample the goodies:


The 12th Chiaroscuro Short Story Contest will accept entries until June 30th, EST. They have an impressive list of judges, including Ellen Datlow and Brian Hodge. If needed, the tie-breaking judge is NEIL GAIMAN. (Oh, oh, crush-ing here!)

First prize includes publication in ChiZine at 7 cents per word, plus a choice of 8 Leisure horror titles. ALSO, the winner's bonus prize is this: The opportunity to pitch a novel directly to Leisure Senior Editor, Don D'Auria. If he requests a synopsis and sample chapters from that pitch, he will respond WITHIN THREE WEEKS.

Second prize is publication in ChiZine at 7 cents per world and 6 Leisure horror titles. 3rd place gets the same pay rate for publication and 4 horror titles.

NOTE: If you write a 4,000 word story (the maximum story length accepted for the contest) that wins one of those slots, that's a $280.00 payment.

Plus, let's face it, ELLEN DATLOW! If she thinks your story rocks, then it rocks!
~ ~ ~

The Writing Show is holding their first contest. Is your novel's first chapter up to the challenge?

First prize is $150, and two second prizes get $50 each. Go to the link for the 5 judging criteria. The chapter may not exceed 3,000 words. July 6 is the deadline. The panel of judges includes a publicist, an editor-in-chief, the founder of NaNoWriMo, and several authors.

~ ~ ~

Write horror or dark fantasy? The Harrow's Annual Short Fiction Contest has a deadline coming up soon: June 30. The final judges are authors Brian Keene and Ramsey Campbell. Entry fee is $3, and first prize is $300 and publication in The Harrow Annual 2006 anthology. Second prize is $50 and eight finalists will receive $10. No reprints. Word count may range from 750 to 7,500 words.

~ ~ ~

The Storyglossia Fiction Prize 2006 Contest offers a $1,000 prize and publication in the October issue. Entry fee is $10 per story, and the deadline is October 1. The judge is Steven J. McDermott, editor of Storyglossia

~ ~ ~

The Emerging Writers Network Fiction Contest offers a $500 prize to the winner, along with publication in the Spring 2007 issue of Frostproof Review. Entry fee is $10, and the submission deadline is August 15 (postmark). Stories may range from 3,000 to 8,000 words. The guest judge is Charles D'Ambrosio.

~ ~ ~

The First Annual Verb Fiction Contest is accepting unpublished stories of up to 5,000 words. Winning prize is $1,000. Entry fee is $15. Submissions must be postmarked on or before July 1. Submit as a Word attachment, if you wish.

~ ~ ~

The 2006 Cooper Prize of $1,000 plus publication will be awarded by the Ontario Review. Submissions will be accepted through September 1. The story cannot exceed 25 double-spaced pages. Entry fee is $15.00, and that includes a 1-year subscription to Ontario Review.

~ ~ ~

Glimmer Train's Very Short Fiction Contest (up to 2,000 words). The Summer part of the contest accepts submissions through July 31st. Reading fee is $10. First prize is $1,200 and publication in Glimmer Train and 20 copies of that issue. Nice cash prizes for 2nd and 3rd prize, too.

For longer stories (up to 12,000 words), try their other contest, the Short Story Award for New Writers. Entries are accepted from August 1-September 30.

~ ~ ~

La Belle Lettre is running a mystery contest for stories up to 10,000 words. Deadline is August 1. Entry fee is $6. The prize? First place gets $100 and a critique.

You may also enter the Holiday contest, which is non-fiction or fiction.

~ ~ ~

River Walk Journal is accepting entries to their fiction contest: short stories up to 15 double-spaced pages. No erotica or genre. (You may also enter their essay contest.) Entry fee is $10. Postmark deadline is August 31. Prize is $500 and publication.

~ ~ ~

If you write crime fiction, consider the Fish Knife Award competition. Submission is electronic for stories up to 5,000 words. Entry fee is 20 euros (your credit card coverts). Deadline is September 17. Top prize is 1,500 euros (which as of today is about 1,900 US dollars.)


~ ~ ~

Did you write a fantasy or science-fiction story that got longer and longer, and now you've got a speculative fiction novella of 15,000-40,000 words?

Good. Cause the 2006 Bards and Sages Writing Contest wants just that. Grand Prize is a $500 US Savings Bond, publication, and membership for one year in the Speculative Literature Foundation. Entry fee is $15, and the deadline is October 1.

~ ~ ~

Kalliope Short Story Contest offers a $1,000 prize and publication in Kalliope. Stories must be no more than 3,000 words, and the entry fee is $15. The deadline is November 1.

~ ~ ~


Mirathon

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Is Superman a Methodist?

Is Superman Jewish, Methodist, or a Christ figure? Newsweek is examining the matter.

A discussion on this has popped up on the Christian Fandom mail list. And I came across the subject over at GetReligion.

So, I offer this nifty assemblage of charts and lists and links on comic book religion found at Adherents.com.

They list Wolverine as "former atheist, has practiced Buddhism, believes in God." Ben "The Thing" Grimm is Jewish. You already know about Nightcrawler and Catholicism. But..Rogue is Southern Baptist?

When you're done with the superhero list, peruse the list of supporting (non-superhero) characters and the list of villains. Lex Luthor is, apparently, a Nietzschian atheist, and Pyro is a lapsed Catholic.

Personally, I'd love to see the whole batch of X-Men get born-again and baptized in a mega-issue, artwork by John Cassiday and story by Chris Well.

Late Afternoon Addendum:
Chris "Nifty" Well--yeah, the fella I mentioned earlier--answers Mike Duran's questions over at DeCompose. The InSites interview of the talented author of FORGIVING SOLOMON LONG and DELIVER US FROM EVELYN is here.


Mirathon

MORE ON FANTASY AND FAITH

If you haven't been following Becky Miller's blog series/discussion on fantasy and faith, you've been missing a fun and brain-stimulating ride. She's already up to part 23 (as of June 14th), and I'm sure there's more to come.

You can start at any point you wish, of course, but I recommend you go back to the start of the discussion on May 12th.

Mirathon

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Nifty Multi-Part Blog Series on Fantasy and Faith /SF Stories I (Re-)Read Today

I won't get all long-winded today. I did enough ranting Monday.

Just wanted to direct you thither. That's just the introductory part. Do check out the meatier subsequent posts by Elliot at Claw of the Conciliator.

After that, vist Speculative Catholic with their "Catholicism in Science Fiction" post.

And, in case you are interested in what SF I read today while having lunch--these three short stories:

"Talent" by Theodore Sturgeon (really spooky, great ending)
"The Ambassadors" by Anthony Boucher (oooh, faboolicious!)
"The Haunted Space Suit" by Arthur C. Clarke (eh, not impressed)


Both are found in Fifty Short Science Fiction Tales, an anthology compiled by Asimov and Conklin.

I'd read all three before, but having a messed up thyroid means I forget what I read not too shortly after I've read it. Ergo, if i want to remember anything about a particular story or novel, I have to read it over and over and over. It was worse when I was on a statin drug. I could barely remember my name and had sticky notes all over the house to remind me about EVERYTHING.

Now, sadly, I still don't have the razor retention of my youth, but that means I get to enjoy the same stories many times. ::: wink :::

Bad health sucks. If your health is pretty good, guard it like the treasure it is.

Wow, I didn't hear about this protest!

Get a few dozen pro-lefties together in a march, and it's news.

But a million Spaniards protesting terrorist appeasement,and...where was it? Did you see this on your news station, the one that is happy to show anti-Bush Germans or pro-Muslim rallies across the globe? I sure didn't see A MILLION or so Spanish folk protesting the government that wants nothing better than to bow down and kiss terrorist backside.

Here take a look of A MILLION folks in SPAIN protesting a lefty, socialist, idiot, cowardly government:



I loathe Zapatero and his Christian-hating, terrorist-smooching band of merry wusses... and it's nice to see I'm not alone. (Check out the Zapatero as Osama protest sign. Snarfola.)

I also dig the cross shape in the photo. Heh.

Mirathon

Monday, June 12, 2006

Hey, Christianity is Defamed All The Time. I Ain't Seen Anyone Tried for THAT!

UPDATED JUNE 13 IN LATE PM WITH NEW LINKS AND EXCERPTS

You may want to pop over to Michelle Malkin's corner of the net for some links to the trial, starting today, of journalist and writer Oriana Fallaci.

What she do?

Oriana Fallaci is 75 years old. The renowned Italian journalist lives in hiding because of death threats she received after the publication in 2001 of her book The Rage and the Pride. She is dying of cancer. And now she is going to go on trial for “defaming Islam.”

The complaint comes from Adel Smith, president of the Muslim Union of Italy, who was never charged with defaming Christianity after he referred to a crucifix as a “miniature cadaver” during his 2003 efforts to have depictions of Christ on the Cross removed from Italian schools.[

(Robert Spencer, "Muslim Target," FrontPage)

Yup. She's being tried for writing a book that says some very critical and negative things about Islam.

You'll want to read the key terms again: A book. Critical. Negative. Of Islam.

If we put folks on trial here for saying very negative and critical and even obscenely ugly stuff about Christianity, we'd need about 10,000 more courts and judges just to handle that one crime.

Personally, I think it's the demon-spawns with a decapitation fetish who defame that idealized form of Islam. I believe it's the weasels who happily live off Western European, Canadian, and US welfare while plotting the downfall of democracies in favor of restrictive Shariah rule who defame that idealized Islam. I'm pretty sure it's the pieces of Muslim poop in Britain who demand the British stop flying their flag and displaying the beloved Piglet figure in schools cause it offends them that defame Islam. I'd venture to add that the slimeball mysogists who kill women that refuse to cover up from top to bottom and become, essentially, cloth versions of Cousin It, because any display of female identity and personhood offends them, they defame Islam. The tyrants who refuse to let Christians and Jews build or repair churches or other houses of worship or print sacred texts or go about their normal religious lives defame Islam. The bloodthirsty freakazoids who stab their daughters to death if the women so much as kiss a boy, they defame Islam.

Lots and lots of Muslims are defaming idealized Islam out there.

But various scholars and politicos and bloggers would disagree and say: No, all these acts are sanctioned and approved by true Islamic teaching.

That's a very scary thought, indeed.

I'm not a Koranic scholar. I refuse to say definitively what "true" Islam is or is not. Perhaps, and horribly, all these demonspawns and weasels and misogynists and poopheads are really just being authentic to their core faith, and that the mantra of "Religion of Peace" is a blatant fib. The National Post is examining just that. (Heads up for that link to LGF.) I strongly recommend you read that. Here's a pertinent--and ominous--snippet, emphases mine:

Unfortunately, the Islamic principle of abrogation runs in the opposite chronological direction in relation to violence. Because the commands to fight and kill in the Koran are considered by Muslims to be among the recitations made very late in the life of the prophet of Islam -- at a time when his conquest of Arabia was almost complete -- Muslims scholars have been inclined to read the peaceful texts as subordinate to the later ones.

In other words, Muslims seeking to find a peaceful message in the Koran must fight not only the plain meaning of the Koran's text and the current fashion for militancy, but also the arrow of Muslim history.


Here's a discussion on that matter including those who say yes, a religion of peace, and those who say no, a religion of war.

Read up on it. You decide.

I've already decided.

These kinds of verses (the ones the abrogate the peaceful ones, as Gordon Nickel notes in his article) helped sway me:

- al-Taubah (9):29 - "Fight (qaatiloo) those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what Allah and his messenger have forbidden -- such men as practise not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book -- until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled."

- al-Taubah (9):123 - "O believers, fight (qaatiloo) the unbelievers (kuffaar) who are near to you, and let them find in you a harshness (ghilza)."

- Baqara (2):191 - "And slay them (aqtuloohum) wherever you come upon them"

- Baqara (2):191 - "But fight them not by the Holy Mosque until they should fight you there; then if they fight you, slay them (aqtuloohum) -- such is the recompense of unbelievers."

- Nisaa' (4):89 - "then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them (aqtuloohum) wherever you find them"

- Nisaa' (4):91 - "If they withdraw not from you, and offer you peace, and restrain their hands, take them, and slay them (aqtuloohum) wherever you come on them; against them we have given you a clear authority."

- al-Taubah (9):5 - "Then when the sacred months are drawn away, slay (aqtuloo) the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush."

- Nisaa' (4):74 - "So let them fight (yuqaatil) in the way of Allah who sell the present life for the world to come; and whosoever fights (yuqaatil) in the way of Allah and is slain, or conquers, we shall bring him a mighty wage."

- Muhammad (47):4 - "When you meet the unbelievers, smite (darba) their necks, then, when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds; then set them free, either by grace or ransom, till the war lays down its loads."


The above are excerpted from Gordon Nickel's list here.

Here's a more comprehensive list, charted and compiled for you by Yoel Natan, 164 Jihad Verses In The Koran.

Whereas Christ's message of peace and tolerance and mercy is AFTER the harder passages of the Old Testament--offering a way of the turned cheek for individuals-- and Christ never conquered a single country or murdered a single person or took a single slave for his concubine or ordered his followers to do so, the Islamic prophet was a conquerer and ordered conquest. One could point to bloodthirsty acts by professing Christians and say, "Ah, but they act in opposition to the teachings of the Lord." When Osama acts, one can say with some authority, "Oh, he acts in obedience to the prophet."

Just saying. . .

But back to Oriana and her trial for defamation:

If we must have judicial intervention, here is what I suggest: Book the defamers who defame with vicious deeds, put them on trial for offending Islam with their gnashing teeth and bloody hands. Leave those who only use words, such as Oriana, be left alone to scribble and rail. Answer her scribbles and railings with reasoned argumentation and books. Arrest Adel Smith for using the Italian judicial system as his own little personal peeve patrol for his anti-Non-Muslim behavior.

He's the menace. Not Fallaci.

I say this to Adel Smith and those who support him:

Show us that you know how to reason and debate in the public square, instead of just threatening everyone who says something you, as a Muslim, don't like. Answer back with the best you have, apologetically speaking. And offer your enemy a cup of tea as you demolish their vitriolic statements.

If you can demolish them.

That's the challenge. Can you systematically demolish, using the Koran, the justification for the acts of Islamists when they claim they are merely following the Koran?

I can decry the acts of some loony fringe "Christian" when they blow up a school or a clinic or any other place in the name of God. The Jesus we follow was clear that some acts of retribution are not permissible.

Can the Muslim world demolish the Islamists rationale for trying to conquer every place they stand and murder or imprison all who speak something offensive and oppress those of non-Muslim religions in their midst?

Oriana hasn't gotten close to really defaming Islam. The Danish newspaper's cartoons didn't come anywhere near to it. All the criticism in the op-ed pages doesn't brush the heart of the matter: Muslims have stopped creating great art and music and architecture, and become creators of the headless, the oppressed, the fearful and destroyers of free speech and open debate and artistic expression.

Theo Van Gogh, were he alive, and the artists and writers who've had fatwas put on them over the years, should speak at Oriana's trial.

Oriana Fallaci was writing her point of view. One may not like it, one may even be offended by it, but freedom of speech has always been a major foundation of Western democracy. It's starting to go down the drain, folks.

Seems to me political correctness and all the EU derriere-kissing of Muslim groups has grown to scary proportions when someone can't write their own mind about a system--governmental or political--without being jailed or going to trial.

Italy has lost it. The Muslims have cowed the Catholics and Atheists.

And if you saw the articles coming out of Canada about the terrorist capture, the first ones that refused to call them "Islamic," no matter how far down the reports you read--well, that shows we're on the way to losing it, too, in this part of the world. . . if we don't say no to the encroaching madness.

If you don't think it is encroaching, here this, from the co-founder of CAIR:

Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faiths, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth." - Omar Ahmad


Don't think he's alone in that belief and that goal.

If you're in Atlanta, Chicago, or Washington D.C., you may want to go see this documentary. It releases and shows in those cities July 7-13.

And to Adel Smith and Omar Ahmad and their ilk, those who want to wipe out every religion on earth but theirs:



Make them like tumbleweed, O my God,
like chaff before the wind.
As fire consumes the forest
or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,
so pursue them with your tempest
and terrify them with your storm.
Cover their faces with shame
so that men will seek your name, O LORD.

Psalm 83:13-16

How To Write A Fantasy Novel?

Patterns arise in storytelling genres. That's not a secret, is it? Some call them formulas. (formulae?)

I prefer patterns.

Such as the three-act structure. Or the rising action structure. Or the boy-meets-loses-girl-learns-lessons-overcomes-and-reclaims-girl formula. Or the murder-plus-detective-plus-clues-plus-surprises-plus-revelation-of-murderer-at-the-end formula. Or simply the beginning-middle-end formula, which harkens back to that three-act thing. :)

In fantasy, we have the Hero's Journey. It's ancient, it's pervasive, it's universal, it's persistent... cause it works. We like stories that unfold this way, just as romance readers want the sparks-conflict-insights-HEA format and the mystery readers want the crime-clues-revelation format.

So, I offer an on-the-snark and not totally off-the-mark examination of how to write a fantasy novel. I won't say it's how to write a best-selling one, as the author does, because many stories based on this pattern still fail to capture agents, editors, or the public.

It's actually a nice blueprint of how to keep the heart of a pattern, if you eliminate the cliches and add your own voice's spice to it, as well as fresh elements and surprises.

And voice is always harder to nail than a pattern.

And story magic? Well, that's a slippery dame, ain't she?

NOW, JUST FOR FUN: What SF Character Are You?

I came out to be . . .



Er. I'm not exactly thrilled with being very short, very homely, very linguistically odd, and the color of old moss. I want to be Spock or Cordelia Vorkosigan or, hey, Picard or Chani or, if you force me to have lovely hair and eyes, Deanna Troi.

Grumble, yoda, grumble.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO US!

On June eleventh of 1983, at 5PM on a drizzly Miami afternoon, the sweetest, handsomest, funniest, smartest, gentlest and most patient man on Earth married me.

And I married him.

I wore exquisite Spanish lace in ivory. He wore an ivory suit and a pink cummerbund, and he looked truly fine in it, I must say. His cheeks were as pink as the roses in my bouquet, and my bottom lip quivered while he looked magnificently at ease.

On our honeymoon, I read this to him from the Song of Songs:


My beloved is white and ruddy.
The best among ten thousand.
His eyes are like doves beside the water brooks,
washed with milk, mounted like jewels.
His cheeks are like a bed of spices with towers of perfumes.
His lips are like lilies, dropping liquid myrrh.
His hands are like rings of gold set with beryl.
His body is like ivory work overlaid with sapphires.
His legs are like pillars of marble set on sockets of fine gold.
His appearance is like Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.
His mouth is sweetness; yes, he is altogether lovely.
This is my beloved, and this is my friend,
daughters of Jerusalem.


And it's still true. Aaaahhh. I am blessed among women.

No, truly. Some kind souls will say he's blessed too, but I'm the really lucky one.

He brought me to believe in that elusive and legendary thing called True Love. And by loving me so fervently and well, so self-sacrificially and generously, he helped me more deeply understand that higher and finer form of True Love, God's.

I do believe that one of the deep purposes of marriage and all its many kinds of bliss is that particular understanding.

So, for all of you still single and still searching and yet hopeful, I pray you will be abundantly blessed with both True Loves, that of God and that of a wonderful spouse.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Updated Links On Sidebar

We who admit to being incurable blog-lovers keep a list of the delicious blogs we love to sample daily or nibble on frequently.

Admit it. You do, too.

In the last few months, I've added some new blogs to my drop-by-daily-or-regularly blogsurfing time. Most are SF/F related--and from a Christian perspective.

Blogger may take a while to update the template, but look for another category of links in my sidebar: For Lovers of SF/F.

Then go visit Elliot and Jason and Shannon and Becky and Sally and Stuart and Lee and, well, all the lovely folks who share a love for Jesus AND Speculative Fiction.

Have fun blogee jumping!

Mirathon

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Mirathon Miscellany

First up, a prayer request:

Regular Mirathoner, the Curmudgeon, aka David Meigs, is recovering from a heart attack. Please ask God to heal him up real good, would ya?

~ ~ ~ ~

Novel Journey posted a brief interview with James Scott Bell this week. He's the author of the very helpful--in my Mir-ish opinion--PLOT AND STRUCTURE.

Here's a taste of the Q&A:

What makes for an engaging plot?

The LOCK elements are Lead, Objective, Confrontation and Knock-out ending. Every one of these must be pressed to the max to make the plot work. When I teach writing, I tell the students that if they master only these four elements, they'll never write a weak plot. From there, it's all a matter of growing as a writer.


For Christian SF fans: NJ will be posting an interview with Karen Hancock some time today. Look for that!

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I'd like to thank Deanna for posting a link to Mirathon and offering some lovely praise, like so:


Mir, a refreshingly funny, obviously talented fictionist.


Excuse me while my head expands a smidge. Oooooooh, aaaahhhhhhh niiiiice.

~ ~ ~ ~

Are you going to the ACFW and/or RWA conferences this summer? Need a cool, eye-catching one-sheet designed for you or maybe some snazzy business cards or a promotional brochure?

Well, drop by Dineen's place and peruse her portfolio. She's got the artistic and writerly chops to do you proud.

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Do you urgently need help getting your story structure in shape?

If you have up to a ten-page synopsis handy and are willing to pay a modest amount for some expert assistance, then visit the Story Sensei, Camy Tang, she of the 3-book deal with Zondervan and of the popular Camy's Loft blog.

For a gushing recommendation, click over to Squirly's blog and check out her post for June 2. It's titled "Thank God for Camy." I think that says it all about how happy she is with the services of the sensei.

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Are you living in or visiting the Nashville area this week? Then head over to Chris Well's book event. He's having his first public book signing this Saturday, June 10, from 2 to 4PM at The Way Gallery in West Meade. See details over at his nifty blog.

And to tempt you just a wee bit, I have two words: FOOD and PRIZES.

So, Nashville-ians, head over and support a Christian author of "killer" Christian fiction.

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CALLING ALL CHRISTIAN WRITERS:

Two new markets for you, babes.

RUMINATE

What they want:
We accept work with both subtle and overt associations to the Christian faith, and we also accept work that has no direct association to Christianity.


What they pay:
I couldn't find any reference to payment other than a year's subscription to contributors. You can always email and ask.


You'll want to check out the contests page. Yes, entry fees. Yes, very nice cash prizes.


RELIEF: A Quarterly Christian Expression.

The estimable Mr. Bertrand is one of the editors there. That's a good sign.

What they want:
We are looking for original, unpublished poetry and stories that reflect reality. In terms of scope, the door is wide open, but still has some boundary. A decent yardstick is the Bible. Not the churchized version, but the real, gritty scripture...


What they pay:
For the first issue, authors will experience the joy of being published in the pioneer issue of a cutting edge Christian event. Each contributor will receive a complimentary copy of the issue, and a cash prize (to be determined) will be awarded to "Editor's Choice" in each genre. We do hope to compensate all authors for their work as soon as possible.


~ ~ ~ ~

And just sharing, again, my verse for the year:

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9


Mirathon

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

6-6-6 or Why This Day's Like Any Other Day No Matter What The Wackos Say?

seis seis seis
hexa hexa hexa
sita sita sita
sei sei sei
sexta sexta sexta
sechs sechs sechs

The above is Spanish, Greek, Swahili, Italian, Latin and German for:

SIX SIX SIX

[cue horror music theme] bwahhahahaha!

You saw that coming, huh?

Yeah, that's today's date, but it's also a trio of numbers that makes for all sorts of cultural, theological, and looney-fringe associations. The evidence:

1. Oodles of books and seminars over the past few decades speculating on who the Beast is and what the Mark will be and when it will all come to pass, mebbe. Think Hal Lindsey or Grant Jeffrey or Salem Kirban and on and on and on. I think the wackiness really got nuclear fission hot when I was a pre-teen with the phenomenon of Lindsey's LATE GREAT PLANET EARTH, and it all just took off like fuel-overloaded rockets right through the early 90's. It was fun, a sort of puzzle, but it was hardly sound teaching oftentimes.

2. A superfluous remake of a not-so-good 1976 flick into a not-so-good 2006 flick that exploits the concept of the Beast and his mark in the creation of a gore-fest.

3. A new apocalyptic fictive offering by the super-mega-duper-selling Christian duo of LEFT BEHIND fame. It releases today, 6-6-6, and is entitled, well. . . THE RAPTURE.
(I am so not going there. I'm sick to death of the pre-trib rapture discussion/concept/idea/notion/delusion.)

So, casting aside illogic-riddled speculations (they don't do any good) and panic (it never helps), I offer the straight dope from la boca del caballo*:


He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666.
Revelation 13:16-18



And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Revelation 14:11



And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth . . . there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshiped his image
Revelation 16:1, 2


We might all profit from an extended Bible study on various and sundry marks placed on people by God and historical context for the meaning of markings in the New Testament world to get some true insight. (Plus, come on, concordances rule!). I leave that to you and your Bible and favorite reference works. And google.

But I'm pretty sure we can get
ONE GOOD AND UNEQUIVOCAL AND EASY-TO-GRASP TRUTH FROM ALL OF THIS BIBLICAL CAUTIONARY WRITING:

Do not, under any circumstance, worship the image of the beast.
Not ever.
Really, don't do it.
See a beast image? STAY AWAY.
In fact, a good idea all around to not worship images of all sorts.
Beast Image = NO WORSHIP!!!
Oh, wait, is that a beast image? Not gonna bow or pray or burn incense or in any way seem to really, really dig it. In fact, gonnna walk that way, far away from said image.

All righty? Clear on this?

Much, much, MUCH better idea to worship God. That tends to work out well and put a smile on your face and keep you out of a good deal of trouble of the image-worshipping/beastie sort. Yes, yes. Worship God.

Now, please, go out and enjoy this Tuesday, the day the Lord has made. Rejoice and be of very good cheer in it and share a smile and the love of God with someone, especially those who least expect it of you. Mikey-D would approve.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
John 16:33


Now, that's really good news for a 6-6-6 sort of day.



*the horse's mouth

Monday, June 05, 2006

DRAGONS, KNIGHTS & ANGELS SHORT STORY CONTEST: Congratulations!

Selena Thomason, editor of Dragons, Knights & Angels, yesterday announced the stories that made the cut in that magazine's short story contest:

WINNER:

Chris Mikesell, "The Fortunate Purgatory of Arthur MacArthur"

RUNNER-UP:

Jane LeBak, "Even A Stone"

HONORABLE MENTION:

Rachel A. Marks, "The Waters Stir"
Micheal C. Planck, "Heartwyrm"

The stories will be published this month, beginning with the honorable mention titles earlier in June, and Mr. Mikesell's winning tale on the 27th.

CONGRATULATIONS!


Note: A bit of Mir trivia
Today, June 5th, 2006, is the 24th anniversary of my first date with hubby-hunkypoo. We met at an SF film preview (Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan) on June 3. Our first date was also an SF film (since horror is more and more included in the SF umbrella): Poltergeist. Our third date was to yet another SF film: ET. No wonder I love the genre. :)

June 27th, the day when the winning story appears online, will be the 24th anniversary of the first time hubby (then adorable boyfriend) first told me he loved me and I, then far cuter than now, first told him I loved him. And a superlative day that was, summer of '82. Ah, ain't true love grand.

(BTW, he's still the loveliest, sweetest, and sexiest man alive.)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Some SF/F Stuff To Sweeten Your Sunday

The SCIENCE FICTION POETRY ASSOCIATION (SFPA), which I just joined today, is featuring a poem by Gregory "Timescape" Benford at their site. A bit of an homage to Isaac Asimov and a few other great writers and the genre itself, but mostly Isaac. Here's a snippet, but go to the site to read it in its entirety:

"I’ll die with my books on,
he said, "and be gone."
And the other dreamers:
crisp Heinlein, folksy Simak,
crusty Jack Williamson, wise Silverberg,
ever-young Clarke, even Fred Pohl in his rational rigor--
all wrote of passing like sunrise rays
through the cold nitrogen lens to see
landscapes beyond our gray reality.


from ISAAC FROM THE OUTSIDE

If you write speculative poetry, you'll want to visit the SFPA site and click on the information for their contest. No entry fee. Modest cash prizes. And, hey, metered and rhyming or free and blank versy fun for all.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A new venture in quality SF/F short fiction began with this month of June: JIM BAEN'S UNIVERSE.

Unlike TSR or DKA, this is a secular online magazine that requires subscription payments for you to read the full stories and essays. But the names of the contributors (current and to come) is a who's who of young and old writers of SF: Gene Wolfe, Gregory Benford, Elizabeth Bear, Catherine Asaro, Sarah Zettel, Julie Czerneda, Alan Dean Foster, John Barnes,etc.

Here's why I believe you should go and support this endeavor TODAY:

1. Short fiction is not currently thriving in the SF/F world, and it matters in developing new voices.

2. The magazine aims to pay BETTER than all other markets out there for SF/F writers. Supporting this magazine supports writers financially.

3. The magazine aims to feature new writers. All you "new" writers interested in SF/F should check out this new entry into the market. (And note #2 above!)

A six-issue subscription to Jim Baen's Universe is $30.00.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Heads up to LaShawn Barber --she whose blog inspired this previous Mirathon post on the gospel--for a link to Harry Potter and the War On Terror.

The article touches on various books and films, not just Harry Potter ones, including an obscure bit of Democratic propaganda where Mommy the Democrat outgoodies the Repubs, the Narnia stories, HOOT (the movie), and LOTR:

The Fellowship of the Ring has no talk about trying to understand Saruman’s unhappy childhood as a way of exonerating his evil acts. Even Boromir’s manifest unhappiness is not an excuse for the envy in his heart – something he himself recognizes at the end, when he sacrifices himself to save the Fellowship. The two subsequent movies in the Ring Trilogy ( The Two Towers and The Return of the King) keep up the same steady drumbeat: honor, loyalty, steadfastness, and the recognition that evil cannot be destroyed with half measures.


But yes, it does dwell for some paragraphs on HP, including this:

I don’t pretend to know what J.K. Rowling was thinking when she wrote Order of the Phoenix, but I can’t help but see in this post-9/11 book a perfect analogy to the situation the West faces today, in the real world, in its War against Islamofascism. Some of us, like Harry, know that we have seen evil, acknowledge its existence, and are prepared to fight it. But just as Harry must deal with a government Ministry bound and determined to explain away or ignore the evil in its midst, we too face an anti-War movement that endlessly ignores, explains away, and excuses the most vile acts of terror and human degradation.


If you doubt that "Islamofascism" is a real, global threat, then you need to visit Jihad Watch and Dhimmi Watch. And when you're done there, visit here. And for Christians, head here and here and here. Scroll, read, and be very afraid. Then pray and support and, above all, trust the Judge of All The Earth, whose wrath will fall on the unrighteous who oppress His own.

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TONIGHT AT 10PM IN THE DKA CHAT ROOM, THE WINNER OF DKA'S SHORT STORY CONTEST WILL BE ANNOUNCED. JOIN THE STAFF TO FIND OUT WHAT FINE STORIES MADE THE CUT FOR WINNER, RUNNER-UP, AND HONORABLE MENTIONS.

I, Madame Mirathon, already know, natch, but I ain't telling.