"Playing with shawls is very different work to drawing up settlements."

- Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South
Disappointed with The Road

"For me, McCarthy's exercise in rhetorical compression was only so successful," Jesse Freedman writes. "Saramago, for example, reaches considerable stylistic heights in Blindness, and he does so without proper punctuation. I think, in the end, that I wanted The Road to be more like that: daring, complete, raw, and unwavering."

Schrödinger's Cat and Other Jokes

Here's a list of 20 good jokes that are supposedly funny only to intellectuals, but many non-intellectuals will get them too. For example: It's hard to explain puns to kleptomaniacs because they are always taking thing literally.

Ha!

Also, Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.

An ongoing apology

A quick post in passing, to apologize for only doing quick posts in passing -- and few of them. I wish I could promise improvement, but it doesn't look likely soon. My online graduate studies are kicking my tush, eating my lunch, drinking my milkshake... whatever metaphor you want to apply to a process that is sucking all the energy and time from my life.

I've even got a review I've been wanting to write.

But it won't happen tonight.

On a cheerier note, I've been cleared to drive again, and am mostly healed up.

Is Christian Art a Narrowly Defined Thing?

Alex Medina writes:

When we only recognize art as being distinctly Christian when it is preaching the gospel, a Christian who is not looking for selfish-gain and desires to make music that is less explicit is seen as shrinking back from their faith. A Christian who desires to make an entire album about nature, beauty, and social justice is not being unfaithful to the Gospel of Christ. They need no justification to create art. They are free to create art about anything and everything that belongs to their God, which is everything.

Norway's "Memory Wound"

In 2011, 77 Norwegians were killed on July 22nd. Norway's prime minister said, "A paradise island has been transformed into a hell."

Now, the country plans to develop a memorial on Utoeya island by cutting through it and sealing it with the victims' names. They are calling it "Memory Wound." "Visitors to the memorial, which is titled Memory Wound, will by guided down a pathway through the island's forest into a tunnel that leads to the wound. The tunnel ends abruptly at the cut, where visitors will be able to see to the other side," reports The Verge.

See large mock-ups of the memorial.

Gaming the Bestseller List

When I read this article about a prolific pastor-author hiring a marketing firm to put his book on the bestselling "Advice, How-to" list, I wondered how it could possibly work. I roughly understand how a company could coordinate purchasing 3,000 books, both in bulk and individual sales, but what would they do with all of those books?

Apparently, they return them. This WSJ article on authors buying their way onto bestseller lists, says some marketers believe hitting that list once is the doorway to invitations and future success. Once you're on the list for a week, you can claim to be a bestselling author.

Last August, a book titled "Leapfrogging" hit The Wall Street Journal's list of best-selling business titles upon its debut. The following week, sales of the book, written by first-time author Soren Kaplan, plunged 99% and it fell off the list.

Something similar happened when the hardcover edition of "Networking is Dead," was published in mid-December. A week after selling enough copies to make it onto the Journal's business best-seller list, more hardcover copies of the book were returned than sold, says book-sales tracker Nielsen BookScan.
Isn't this equivalent to creating an award to give to yourself so you can claim to be an award winner?

The marketing idea hamster Seth Godin recommends ignoring the NY Times lists altogether. "The curious know that there are in fact two lists for non-fiction hardcover books. The first list, the regular list, is the list of ‘real’ books of the sort the Times would like people to read. The second list is a ghetto, a place for How To, Advice, and the always coveted ‘Miscellaneous’ books to reside. This list was invented by the editors at the Times because these books were crowding out the other, better, books from the list."

He says questions about serving your readers become overwhelmed by concerns about placement on the Times list. Is your goal as an author to serve your readers or your message, or is it to serve the eccentricities of this list?

Jared Wilson, who has a new book out, lists five reasons buying placement on any bestseller list is dishonest, egocentric, and poor steward, among other things. Speaking particularly to pastors who write:

"If you’re simply trying to expand the audience of the gospel — or your gospel-teaching material — wouldn’t it be more effective to simply purchase thousands of copies of your book and give them away to lost people? Or, alternatively, not to sell your book at all and just give it away for free? (Did Keith Green make any bestseller lists? Has John Piper?)"

I Am Pursuing Freelancing Writing, Editing

Let me write about myself for a minute. For the past several months, I've been pursuing a new line of work and I spent part of that time wondering what that line should be. I'm still looking for work in various ways, but my main thrust this year will be freelance writing and editing.

I am bidding on projects through Elance.com and Writer.ly (some interesting stuff on these site). I haven't gotten to other freelance venues yet, and I like the testing options available through Elance. They verify your skills to a degree. If you have work that could be hired out, you can post a job with Elance and invite me to bid on it. Naturally, I would do my best writing ever, and the project would be more profitable than your wildest dreams, and we would sing each other's praises for months. The regulars at the pub would love us for at least a day. Maybe two! Feel free to look at my Writer.ly profile too. It's still in beta mode, but some people are finding work there.

I am happy to have made new connections with a couple editing services. There are two other organizations who have me on their writing roster also. Of course, there's LinkedIn for general networking. With all of these connections, I am not at all busy. I'd like to try being busy, for a change of pace.

I started this blog in 2004. Lars joined me several months later. Since we're an established lit-blog, we are asked to review various independent books. Every time I agree to receive a book for review, I hope to love it. I usually don't, and I wish I could reply with an offer to edit this already published book. It would be rude to make such an offer, but the need bleeds upon the page. Through these new services, perhaps I can field editing requests from authors who have a good story and need help making it great.

"Hell Can Be Easily Built of Apathy"

A friend of mine, the pastor of this wonderful church, quoted this on Facebook:

"We hope that by believing less we will become less vulnerable to spiritual manipulation. We cannot be duped, we imagine, if critical doubt weakens the force of our commitments. If there is no truth, then we will not quarrel over our visions of the truth. If nothing is worth fighting for, then nobody will fight. However, an iconoclasm of truth will not succeed. Hell can be as easily built of apathy and diffidence as of megalomania and fevered ideological zeal-- perhaps more easily for it is difficult to wake from the narcosis of a velvet barbarism that desires no truth." -- R. R. Reno, Commentary on Genesis

The Secret Life of Wystan H. Auden

Poet W.H. Auden was generous, loving man, and apparently he wanted that to remain a secret. Edward Mendelson writes, "In an age when writers as different as Hemingway and Eliot encouraged their public to admire them as heroic explorers of the mind and spirit, Auden preferred to err in the opposite direction, by presenting himself as less than he was."

He sought out the marginalized in the crowd. He gave a large among to keep a homeless shelter operational. He disliked his public image and political grandstanding. Mendelson states, "In 1939 he left England for America, partly to escape his own public status. Six months later, after making a speech at a political meeting, he wrote to a friend: 'I suddenly found I could really do it, that I could make a fighting demagogic speech and have the audience roaring…. It is so exciting but so absolutely degrading; I felt just covered with dirt afterwards.'"

(Thanks to Alan Jacobs)

Shakespeare's Tragedies: Everybody Dies.

Shakespeare's Tragedies, Everybody Dies

Kudos to Cam Magee and Caitlin Griffin for this infographic.

6 Statements Luther Never Made

Martin Luther said many things, but as with many famous people, he did not say a handful of things people attribute to him, such as:

The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays—not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors.

The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.
Justin Taylor explains:
Luther didn’t say this. As with the quote from the first example, [Frederick] Gaiser argues that it doesn’t sit very well with Luther’s actual views on vocation. The idea that God is pleased with our work because he likes quality work “would be the American work-ethic version of vocation, theologically endorsing work as an end in itself. In the hands and mouth of a modern boss, good craftsmanship and clean floors (or a clean desk or a signed contract) to the glory of God could be a potent and tyrannical tool to promote the bottom line. . . . [W]hat marks Luther’s doctrine of vocation is the insistence that the work is done in service of the neighbor and of the world. God likes shoes (and good ones!) not for their own sake, but because the neighbor needs shoes. . . .”

The Man as a Slave in America

"It is not the fault of the slaveholder that he is cruel, so much as it is the fault of the system under which he lives. He cannot withstand the influence of habit and associations that surround him." - Solomon Northup

Pastor Tony Carter gives his reaction to the memoir by Solomon Northup, Twelve Years a Slave, released in 1853. He was deeply moved. He writes:

"Those who contend that American slavery was tolerable and preferable for the African-American continue to be an enigma to me. While I might give the secular humanist a slight pass because his mind is not enlightened by the gospel of truth (though he remains accountable to God for the wrong he thinks and does), I can have little to no understanding of the Christian who contends for and maintains such a position. With evidence such as Northup’s account before his eyes, and the supposed grace of God enlightening his heart, one has to wonder if those who claim to have been exposed to both have truly experienced either."
I have not seen the movie based on this book, but if you have, you might find this comparison page of interest. It compares the movie with their own investigation of the truth. For example, they report, "the movie paints William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch) as a hypocrite, contradicting his Christian sermons by overlaying them with his slave Eliza's agonizing screams. In his memoir, Solomon Northup offers the utmost words of kindness for his former master, stating that "there never was a more kind, noble, candid, Christian man than William Ford."

My Bent Thoughts, like a Brittle Bow, Did Fly Asunder"

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, vicar of Belmont & Pittington in Durham, England, and author of The Essential History of Christianity writes about how the poetry of George Herbert opened her up to Christ:

"Certainly the poems are unashamedly intelligent. They are an example of the metaphysical school of poetry, which deliberately piled metaphor upon metaphor, and drew those metaphors from the cutting edge of contemporary science and philosophy. They flatter the reader by assuming a breadth and depth of political, theological and scientific knowledge."

The line quoted in the headline is from Herbert's poem "Denial".

'House of Evidence,' by Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson



Here’s another of the Scandinavian mysteries I read in convalescence, House of Evidence by Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson. Ingolfsson is also the author of The Flatey Enigma, which I reviewed positively a while back. I liked this one as well, except for an ideological problem.

Like the Flatey book, House of Evidence is a very Icelandic novel, gentle and quiet at its heart. There are no super detectives or murderous psychopaths here, just a shocking puzzle investigated by cops who (with one exception) go about their work in an almost apologetic manner; embarrassed, perhaps, that any violence could happen in their polite society.

When Jacob Kieler Junior is found shot to death in his home one morning in 1973, it’s doubly strange because his father was killed in a similar fashion in that very room around 30 years before – shot by the same pistol, as they learn. Jacob was a man of no great social consequence, but his father, who built the grand house in which he lived, was a rich and important man whose life goal (though never achieved) was to build an Icelandic railroad. Jacob Jr.’s great goal was to preserve his family home as a museum, something that will now never happen.

As the police detectives look into the story, they gradually find the roots of the crime in old secrets having to do with the prospective railroad, Nazi Germany, and a failed attempt to make Iceland a monarchy.

The final revelation is devastating – and also a gentle (though in my opinion slightly manipulative) appeal for the social acceptance of homosexuality.

Aside from my ideological objections, I liked the book. Nothing very objectionable in language or adult themes, except as noted above, beyond a single horrible act of police brutality.

I Thought I Knew Where This Was Going

Loren Eaton wanted to like the movie Monsters (2010), but the opening scene killed it for him. "I'd have an easier time liking it if it didn't lie to me in its opening scene," he says. Spoilers.

Also in movie news, Vic Armstrong appears to be remaking Left Behind. I can't tell if this is a straight-forward remake or a comic one. Look at some of the promo images. They're silly.

The North's Long Hatred of the South

Jeff Grim talks about a book which aims to show how decades of hatred between northern and southern states drove us to a civil war. "Fleming makes a convincing argument that the fringe elements (fanatics in his words) in both regions pushed the country toward a civil war. He also argues that the animosity began decades before the Civil War."

Perhaps slavery was so contentious an issue it could not be civilly discussed in 19th Century America.

Is Disney's 'Frozen' Gay or Christian or Something Else?

A strong Christian movie reviewers, critic, take-down artist (however you want to think of it) Steven D. Greydanus has written about homosexual themes in Disney's latest fantasy, Frozen. He didn't like the movie much without this part, but he makes several points on what he thinks is subversive in this movie. He is probably right on a few points, but overall I disagree. I don't think the Oaken is a gay man with his husband and family in the sauna, and I wish Disney people would step up to settle the issue (though I doubt they will).

Steven writes, "And yet, in this case the filmmakers have walked that line really well: so well that the pro-gay themes have gone right over the heads of countless adult Christian viewers, many of whom have embraced Frozen as resonating powerfully with Christian themes."


Frozen by superstarwordgirl on deviantART

He has since published his response to suggestions Frozen is a marvelous Christian parable of sorts. "The common crux of most of these religious readings of Frozen," he says, "is the climactic, self-sacrificial act by which Anna saves Elsa before being restored to life — an act that, according to Frozen’s theologically minded enthusiasts, recalls the saving death and resurrection of Jesus."

But this is common in fairy tales, where people are often saved from death or near-death curses.

Steven asks, "Who is really saved in that climactic sacrificial act, Elsa or Anna?

Anna sacrifices herself to save Elsa from a fleeting, mundane threat: a treacherous enemy lurks behind Elsa with drawn sword to cut her down. In principle, this is a trivial threat to Elsa — one that, with her powers, she could easily ward off if she were alerted to it.

By contrast, Anna is in far more serious, profound and thematically important physical peril. Anna’s heart has turned to ice, and the ice is insidiously spreading through her whole body, swallowing and devouring her humanity.

It’s worth noting that the original Hans Christian Andersen story "The Snow Queen," the nominal inspiration for Frozen, climaxes in a scene strikingly similar to the one at the end of Frozen: a heroine weeping over the frozen body of a victim whose heart has turned to ice. In Anderson, however, the frozen victim’s icy heart is thawed by the hot tears of the other person’s love.
For a bit about the motivations behind the popular song, "Let It Go," the writers talk about it here. "... she was exalted at her coronation as being so perfect and wonderful. But the moment that Elsa revealed that she was a little bit odd, everyone turned on her and then chased her out of the kingdom."

'Chasing the Storm,' by Martin Molsted



Recently I’ve read a few Scandinavian mysteries, and I’ll review them as I find time. I downloaded this one, Chasing the Storm by Martin Molsted, because it attempts to do something highly counterintuitive – creating a modern Norwegian action hero. Also this hero is named Torgrim Rygg, and Rygg is one of my ancestral names.

The story starts in Hamburg when Rygg – a former soldier in some sort of special force, now working in business and missing the action – witnesses an assassination attempt on a man, and instinctively sets out in pursuit of the assailant. He doesn’t catch him, but the intended victim, a Russian named Marko Marin, is so impressed with his response that (after doing some research on him) he asks him to help him with a dangerous project. This leads to perils and complications, and soon Rygg has happily bid farewell to conventional life and joined forces with Marko, who is a “journalist” of some sort, investigating an international conspiracy connected with the hijacking of a ship in the Baltic.

The whole thing is a little overcooked for my taste – frequent hops from one exotic place to another, danger at every turn… I had trouble believing the characters’ motivations and persistence. Also there are some odd sexual elements, such as Rygg’s cold-blooded seduction of a lonely, middle-aged woman in pursuit of information, and the three-cornered relationship he comes to enjoy with Marko’s beautiful girlfriend, Lena.

Entertaining in a Hollywood action movie sort of way, I found Chasing the Storm good enough for passing the time in the hospital, but nothing I strongly recommend. Cautions for just about everything you imagine.

10 Fantasy Clichés

Eric Christensen lists 10 things he rather not see in new fantasy, such as The Chosen One (The Special), dark lords, limitless magic, and uniformity among races. I would add blind seers to this list. What do you think of these things? Would you add or subtract anything?

The Gospel of Loki, as told by Himself

Joanne Harris has released a fantasy novel, or is it a memoir, telling the story of Loki's rise and fall in his own voice. Harris says she stayed close the source material, even though Loki has a modern voice. "Because he’s the ultimate unreliable narrator – and because I knew I’d enjoy writing his voice. I’ve made it very modern because Loki seems to me to be a very modern anti-hero – flawed, morally ambivalent, yet charismatic."

I'll bet he never made on SatNiLiv either.

Your hipster report

Just a quick update on my condition. I remain at my remote location in Iowa, healing up and seeing a physical therapist a couple times a week. Every day, in certain ways, I am getting better and better. Off pain meds, walking on my own a little (in carefully selected locations), feeling like a person again.

My time is dominated by trying to catch up on my graduate school work, an effort that is driving me nearly mad -- mad, I tell you! But I carry on.

I was trying to think of my memories of surgery. I remember being in the pre-op waiting room, and the nurse beginning to move me out... then nothing. I have a vague recollection of being somewhere and being told it was all over and they'd be taking me to my room, but I don't recall what that place was like at all. After that, a few days in the hospital, during which I was incredibly blessed by numerous visits by friends. My brothers sort of tag-teamed it to keep me company almost all the time.

My major fear going in was that, because they were doing a spinal block for anesthesia, I'd be conscious and aware during surgery. But if I was, I've forgotten. Amnesia is good. I could use more of it.

Is Fair Trade Coffee Fair?

Photo by Ryan RavensFair trade labeling is intended to assure you that the coffee or other product you are buying has been certified as a quality product made in an environment that respects its workers. Usually bean farmers are poor, so if you believe you are helping them earn a "fair" or better-than-market wage, then you feel good about yourself.

But this book, The Fair Trade Scandal, argues that helping the poor isn't the result, particularly in Africa. "The growth in sales for fair trade products has been dramatic in recent years," it says, "but most of the benefit has accrued to the already wealthy merchandisers at the top of the value chain rather than to the poor producers at the bottom." The author, Ndongo Sylla, is a researcher for the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.

The Acton Institute blog touches on the problems with fair trade. "In some cases," Sarah Stanley writes, "fair trade growers have been known to sell lower quality crops in the fair trade market and then sell higher quality coffee beans in the non-fair trade market for a competitive price. A guaranteed price means that growers do not have to guarantee quality."

One solution for coffee drinkers is to support active business owners, like Ryan Knapp of Madcap Coffee.

“We have been intentional on the fact that we are not going to have a label to say what our coffee is as much as we are going to be a brand that is committed to great business practices.” He goes on, “Fair trade, a certification doesn’t really tell the whole story…Fair Trade isn’t the best option always for producers.” What is the best option for producers? According to Knapp, “the big piece of it is the transparency aspect and knowing exactly where our dollar is going and being able to trace that down to people that are actually growing the coffee, farming the coffee.”

Writing Rules and Mistakes

Aaron Armstrong talks about the word heresy and how a popular author is probably misusing it. Heresy is a serious matter. To use the word to mean rebel, outsider, or maverick doesn't help when we have to talk about actual heresy.

Several days ago, Nick Harrison listed five points of writing advice he labeled heresy. Ok, he didn't, but he did not like them. Now he offers five things he likes. For example, he says, "If you write fiction, please remember that you’re not just telling a story or passing along information. Your goal is to emotionally move your reader."

For more writing fun, Chip Macgregor describes several things editors love (by which I mean hate) when they read a manuscript. Multiple fonts? Excess commas? Great stuff. Also this: 'For some reason, Number-Impaired People will make an outline that reads, “First,” followed by “Two,” then “C,” and then “4.” (Or, occasionally, “13.”)'

'Norwegian by Night,' by Derek B. Miller



This new novel by Derek B. Miller, of whom I’d never heard (he’s an American living in Norway, and the book was first published in Norwegian), was recommended to me as something well-written and interesting in the Leif Enger mode. And it is, except that Enger’s work is mainly rooted in Christianity, while Norwegian by Night is essentially Jewish, though with some genial nods to Christianity.

Start with a sort of homage to Huckleberry Finn, and to Mark Twain’s idea of God. Mix in the Book of Job. Move it all to Norway, of all places. That’s what you’re dealing with in Norwegian by Night.

Sheldon Horowitz is an old, embittered New York Jew, still grieving the death of his wife and – years before – his guilt at encouraging his son to enlist for service in Vietnam, where he was killed. His only surviving relative, his granddaughter Rhea, who loves him dearly, asks him to come and join her new husband Lars in their home in Oslo. Sheldon goes, but feels unconnected. There are only about a thousand Jews in the whole country. His wife thought – and Rhea is unsure – that he’s sliding into dementia. He claims to have won medals as a sniper in Korea, though he’s lost the evidence. He sometimes thinks North Korean snipers are hunting him. Now and then he gets visits from a dead friend, who seems to be speaking for God.

Then, one morning while Sheldon is alone in the house, he overhears a violent fight between two neighbors – immigrants from the Balkans. When the woman runs downstairs and he sees her through the peephole, looking for a place to hide, he opens his door to her. She has her little boy with her.

Before that terrible morning is over, the woman will be dead, and Sheldon will have decided to go on the run with the boy, to keep him out of the hands of the murderer, in a country where neither of them speaks the language. In this iteration of Huckleberry Finn it’s Jim who speaks, and Huck is silent, but the great issues of life are confronted just the same.

There is much talk of God in Norwegian by Night, and I generally don’t endorse it. It calls up the liberal Jewish arguments (I think they’re liberal Jewish arguments) that man has become better than God, and God owes man an apology (Mark Twain would have loved it). But the questions are important, and Sheldon is a man worth getting to know. I enjoyed the book, but it’s not for everyone. Cautions for language and violence.

America, Land of Language

Because you, gentle reader, are the salt of the earth, the voice of reason, the splash of confidence upon the shaven face, I offer you this video for your comment:



I didn't see this video until after some commentators complained about it, and I'm disappointed in them. This is beautiful. How does this undermine the country? I think some people have political worldviews that taint everything they see in negative colors.

Had they watched this ad instead, perhaps they would be less outraged. I take that back. I think these people live on the Isle of Outrage.



UPDATE: Bell's Whisky South Africa Ad is beautiful. Read the rest of this entry . . .

I, Hipster

Just an update on my condition. Theoretically I have lots of time to post right now, but in fact everything takes so long, and I have to rest so often, and the pressures of my grad school studies are so large, that it'll be hit and miss.

Anyway, I had my right hip replaced at a Minneapolis-area hospital on Thursday. In general my recovery has been on schedule, my condition good under the circumstances. Right now I'm spending a couple weeks at my brothers' and his wife's place in Iowa, where the environment is a little safer than in my house.

Thanks for your prayers.

David and Goliath: The Advantages of Disadvantages

I’ve always had a good impression of Malcolm Gladwell’s books, but after reading David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and The Art of Battling Giants, I want to find Blink, Outliers, and all the others. They are bound to be just as insightful and transformational as this one.

Gladwell’s two-fold premise is that some perceived disadvantages are actually advantages in the right context and vice versa. He frames the book around the battle between David and Goliath. The army of Israel was terrified of the gigantic warrior Goliath, who could probably spear two men at once. Who could win a sword fight with a man like this? But David, inspired with a confidence from the Lord, changed the battle plan.

I was skeptical of this description at first, as you may be, but Gladwell backs it up beautifully. Goliath was prepared for a hand-to-hand fight. His arrogance probably kept him from considering potential threats like David’s sling, and his eye-sight may have been pretty bad due to the condition, pituitary macroadenoma, that made him a giant (height: “six cubits and a span”). One scholar suggests Goliath’s shield bearer, who stood in front of him when they first met David, was actually a guide, because the warrior’s sight was that bad.

The endnotes in this book hold many cool details like these, but the theme of the story is that Goliath’s considerable advantages on the battlefield became disadvantages with new rules of engagement. The same can be seen in many other situations:

  1. Class Size: Common wisdom says small class sizes are best for learning, but many school teachers have learned that their classes can be too small. They need a critical mass of curiosity and energy to work with.
  2. Top Schools: Getting into the best school you can isn’t necessarily your best choice. You actually want to pick a school in which you can excel. Being in the lower 50% of your Harvard class can kill your spirit, even if you graduate with a degree.
  3. Out-gunned: Ivan Arreguin-Toft says of all the wars over the last 200 years between large countries and small countries, the large counties won only 71.5% of the time. Of the remaining third of these conflicts, the small countries won 63.6% of their conflicts when they refused to fight as expected.

Gladwell tells many fascinating stories about the advantages of difficulties and the limits of advantages. Read the rest of this entry . . .

Is Christian Spec-Fic Too Restricted?

Last month, we talked about the place or lack thereof for language, violence, and sex in Christian fiction. Mike Duran was our source for that post, and now Mike says he has "learned of another fictional archetype that is, apparently, off-limits for mainstream Christian fiction — zombies."

The reason is that a Christian worldview doesn't allow for the undead. Since zombies can't exist, then fictional zombies shouldn't be in our stories.

Mike says, "Forcing fiction to neatly fit your theology is a losing proposition… at least, if creative storytelling is your aim."

I agree with Mike. I wonder what imaginative cliches Christian fiction readers/publishers accept as normal but are just as unChristian (in worldview terms) as zombies and other creatures of the dead?

  1. God's plan of prosperity for us?
  2. No one ever goes to Hell?
  3. Homosexuals as demon possessed?
  4. Hateful people repenting on the turn of a dime?

What do you think?

Other reading: Loren Eaton's post on this question, "Is it legitimate to discover joy in works primarily intended to arouse fear?"

Five Writing Rules You Can't Live Without Breaking

Editor Nick Harrison talks about the writing advice he dislikes, such as writing what you know and never using passive voice.

“Write even if you know you’ll never be published.” Apparently the idea is that a writer writes because he has to (which I agree with) and that writing is somehow its own reward (which I disagree with). I don’t know about you, but I’m writing to be published. I’m glad I don’t know whether or not I will have more books published in the future because if I knew my writing would never see the light of day, I’d probably be tempted to quit.

Anonymity Doesn't Promote Transparency

Some argue that anonymity promotes transparency, but it does not. Humility and love promote transparency. In a place where no one knows who you are, you can say anything for the attention you want. All the alcoholics in A.A. actually anonymous to each other? No. They are well-known to each other and anonymous to most people outside the group. The outsiders have proven themselves to be unsafe, prideful, and even hateful. The insiders prove themselves to be honest, humble, and loving.

In a post on Internet anonymity, Peter Leithart notes the problems with social networking:

Pressure to perform is one of the few constants of online conversation. We talk all the time, says sociologist Sherry Turkle in a recent interview, but “all of this talk can come at the expense of conversation.” Web communication “favor[s] showmanship over exchange, flows over ebbs. The Internet is always on. And it’s always judging you, watching you, goading you.”
It's provoking you to market something, mostly yourself, and to talk at others instead of talking with them.

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