Thursday, March 31, 2011

An exercise in studied boredom

Rosy is a long-haired Jack Russell terrier (think of a mop whose handle has been disconnected). Funny Face is a cat. The former character belongs to my mom. The latter belongs to my sister, Elizabeth (aka, Cobber). Or, Elizabeth is Funny Face's hired help, I suppose you could say.

In any case, you need to see this video Elizabeth made of the two contenders. Actually, only one contender: Funny Face looks on with an aloof detachment, a studied boredom, at Rosy's foolish attempts to get a rise out of her. For a better view of Rosy, watch her reflection in the glass.

I'm not sure any video I've seen captures the difference in psyche between a cat and a dog better than this. Obviously Funny Face and Garfield are friends, cut out of the same cloth. Great sequence, Cobber!

Enjoy (click here)

[Added 4/1/2011] For the rest of the story, see Elizabeth's blog entry here. Apparently Funny Face reminded Rosy of her spot on the food chain. . . .

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What does 2 John 10 mean?

From time to time I get questions in my email from church members or friends wanting my opinion on a Bible question. A few days ago someone wrote to ask about John's prohibition in 2 John 10, wondering how broadly we should interpret that. Here was my response.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Review of Rachel Chambers' The Summons to Become

The Summons is a memoir of the Chambers family's transition from Central Ohio to deep in the heart of Africa. When the book opens in February, 1990, Jim and Rachel are members of a church in Cedarville; he's a plumber and handyman, she's a housewife and busy mom of six kids. For years she has dreamed of serving Christ in missions but has never had an opportunity to follow the dream. All that changes when God begins to lay the same burden on Jim.

The couple initially believe they are called to the Central African Republic, but before they have the chance to leave for the field, through circumstances the Lord redirects them to Zambia. The remainder of the book covers their first tour of duty on the field, ending with their journey back to the States for their first furlough.

Chamber's writing style is wonderful. Through her pen the reader sees a God Who is alive and active in the daily lives and mundane details of life: protecting, encouraging, providing, guiding. Chambers is not bashful; as she tells the tale she holds nothing back, positive or negative, allowing the reader to live vicariously through the surprises, heartaches, joys, and discoveries of a first year in Africa. Through hardship and humor the mighty hand of God is displayed. Everyone who is contemplating missions should read this book, as should everyone who wants to know how to encourage missionary families.

Available on Amazon, Summons is self-published through Xulon Press. Don't let that give you pause; the quality of Chamber's prose is superb, the printing is excellent, and the book must have been very well-edited—I do not remember encountering a single typo. It is well worth the purchase.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Creative Writing: The End

Have you ever wondered, on takeoff, if this flight would be your last?

This 600 word piece, entitled The End, I originally wrote for this year's Jackson Hole Writer's Conference. They have a contest this year for flash fiction; the winner gets free registration to the conference.

Unfortunately I am not able to go this year so I did not wind up submitting it. Maybe next year.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Creative Writing: How the West was Won

How the West was Won, Episode 2 is an original true story (names changed to protect the, er, innocent) about helping a neighbor during a snowstorm, written from a humorous bent. Hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

No foot-tapping cats

For today's profound, blog-worthy thought, let me share this cogent observation: never seen a cat tapping its foot in time to music. Have you?

Meet Ivy the Cat, compliments of Dani Snell Photography:

 Ivy is best buddies with Laurielle who ostensibly owns the animal, if one can truly say that a cat can be owned. People own dogs; cats own you.

Now, while studying and listening to a Mairead Nesbitt CD [okay, I admit it, I was 'sposed to be studying, but was really watching Ivy] it occured to me. Never have seen a cat, or any other animal, tapping it's foot in time to music [or tail, or any other body part]. That's an amazing thing, when you think about it. Humans are totally wired in to music. We dance, we celebrate, we sorrow, we rejoice, through music. Part of what makes the movie Inception is the brilliant Hans Zimmer score. What communicates in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, if it is not Howard Shore's genius?

Music speaks at a more basic level than perhaps even words themselves, transmitting emotions such that the feeling the artist is engineering is reproduced in the experience of the listener.

And yet animals are more or less impervious to music. Perhaps, at best, you can agitate a creature with obnoxious sounds. But it does not bring forth celebration, like music does in people.

Now, some contrarian is sure to say that in a controlled laboratory condition, an animal's pulse rate or some such mechanical response to music can be detected. But that's the point, isn't it? We are not talking lab conditions nor exceptions. We are talking about an essential difference between the masses of people and masses of animals.

We dance to music. Its got something to do with the image of God.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

ABNA Refugee

I did not make the cut, or, more precisely, I was cut. Bummer. The ABNA is the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition. I had an entry in the competition, and made the first cut but not the second. You can see the excerpt here [NO, YOU CAN'T. As of 4/14, I have deleted the ugly thing!] [As of 5/21, you can find the pitch and re-written chapter one here]

The critiques were actually quite good, and very fair. But it's still a bummer.

My novel is a post-apocalyptic story about which I am not going to say a great deal more - at least, not right now. It is scheduled for a major re-write, which will probably start tomorrow night.

I expect to use the Thoughtspot to publish some of my shorter stuff, as well as for the political meanderings of a heavily opinionated mind. And probably some comments on biblical topics as well.