Friday, October 30, 2015

Foreshadowing: Tracker (a new novel)

The count-down has begun.

The genre is science fiction.

The setting could be described as "dystopian" or "post-apocalyptic".

For the main characters, it's just another day of survival.


- from the back cover - 

The Hoarders seized control of the world’s resources a generation ago, retreated into their heavily guarded Enclaves, and left the rest of the population to fend for itself.

Until recently, when the Hoarders began to randomly implant people with a new kind of microtechnology, capable of converting their unsuspecting hosts into violent and deadly automatons.

They also created the Trackers, chemically and mechanically enhanced creatures fanatically devoted to hunting down and killing anyone unlucky enough to have an Implant.

Now, a small band of Runners must unravel the mystery, racing against time before the Trackers discover them.

And before their own Implants change them into... something else.


coming soon...

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hypocrite

I couldn't help but notice:
  1. No-one likes to talk about hypocrisy. And yet... 
  2. Everyone loves to accuse others of hypocrisy.
Because, deep down, we are all comfortably convinced that hypocrisy only happens to other people.

In all honesty, I had intended to write this post yesterday. But when I went looking for a picture to accompany the writing, it just got so incredibly depressing that I changed gears and did a bunch of "writer's admin" work instead (which needed doing anyway). So, a day later, here goes.
The New Testament word that is translated "hypocrite" is the Greek word hupokrites. The original definition still agrees with our 21st century usage of the word: "an actor under an assumed character (stage-player)". To be a hypocrite, then and now, was to wear a mask, pretending to be someone that we are not.
Whenever considering a potentially thorny topic, it's always best to start on a personal level:

1. Am I a hypocrite?
I am a follower of Jesus, but I'm not a very good one sometimes. I know I've grown spiritually to some degree, but I've still got a long way to go before spiritual maturity. 
And in those immature, selfish, careless moments, my life and my faith don't match the way they should (despite what I had hoped and intended). Does that make me a hypocrite? Because I'm not perfect yet?
Of course, if I am, the antidote is pretty straight-forward: repentance.
2. I'd like us to consider that there is actually a very significant difference between hypocrisy, and the average garden variety follower of Jesus.
The definition of hypocrite was to "wear a mask"; to pretend, to be a fraud. To claim a faith that one doesn't really hold or follow.
Jesus actually expands the definition a bit when He described the symptoms of hypocrisy specifically:
(1) hypocrites "love to be seen by others" (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18),
(2) they invent weaselly excuses to disobey God while looking spiritual (Matthew 15:3-9),
(3) they manipulate spiritual language to disguise their actual agenda (Matthew 22:15-21),
(4) they might actually be preaching the truth, but they don't follow it themselves (Matthew 23:1-12), and
(5) they major on nit-picky rules (even legitimate ones) and miss the heartbeat of God behind them (Matthew 23:13-36).
3. Not all of the Christians in any local church fit Jesus' description of hypocrisy.
Every faith community, even when at its best, is simply a gathering of 'Sinners Anonymous'. We are all broken; a collection of shattered bits of the mirror that is supposed to reflect Jesus. However imperfectly, we are all "stumbling heaven-ward". 
Yes, there are some people in the church who may do things just to be noticed by others, or try to explain away what the Bible teaches in order to suit their lifestyle, and/or talk a good game but have no intention of actually living it.
On the other hand, the Bible also refers to the "righteous remnant"; those who remain faithful to Him even when a lot of people around them are not. A great example is when Elijah was moaning about being the only Israelite still faithful to God, and God responding that there were actually 7,000 others as well (1 Kings 19:18).
There are always "remnant" people in the church. Find them and hang out with them.
4. You must become the change you want to see.
This saying has suffered greatly from over-use in the past couple of decades, but this is an occasion where it really fits. The remedy for hypocrisy is not pointing fingers and judging the hypocrites (remember the parable of the Pharisee & the Tax-Collector?).
Even if you can't find "remnant"-style people anywhere (look harder -- they're still around), you can choose to be one. And then others will find you. Two or three. Then more. It may begin to spread. It might even start to look like -- dare I say it? -- revival.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Just Sayin'


Each and every moment of life is a potential story. Tiny, seemingly unrelated fragments often have a way of coalescing into insights of increasing profundity. Snatches of conversation can lodge in the mind, provoking further reflection and refinement, and eventually inspire thoughtful musings.

Self-control, one of those sought-after character traits known as the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), is one of the key signs of growing maturity in a writer.
Just because anything could turn into a story, doesn't always mean that it should.
Private conversations should stay private. Churches/Faith communities should never become blog-fodder (unless it's to encourage by positive example). Some observations may be true, but writing about them may not be helpful or edifying.

Inspiration for writing comes from many overlapping sources: reading, music, art, nature, relationships, experiences, speculative imaginings, and so on. The spark that ignites the creative process can be found almost anywhere.

And yet...
Just because anything could turn into a story, doesn't always mean that it should.
Just sayin'.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Soul Refresh

Have you ever sat down with friends that you haven't seen in years, and just pick up where you left off? As if you had seen them just a day or two before?

Wendy & I have been friends with Dave & Sandi since the late 1980s, when we all (except Wendy) worked at a youth detention centre. That type of work creates deep bonds between co-workers; it's emotionally draining and sometimes (thankfully infrequent) physically threatening.
(It also means you are legally barred from publicly sharing roughly 99% of the really cool stories from our experiences.)
Dave & Sandi are also the kind of Christians that are really refreshing to be around. Like the majority of us, they have gone through good times and bad. Life is just like that; the rain falls on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).

As we spent the evening with them, over home-made pizza and home-made wine, we immediately picked up our friendship as if we had never been apart. And typical of our friendship, the conversation inevitably including sharing back and forth about what God has been up to, what we've been learning, answers to prayer -- you know, the normal kind of stuff that Christians talk about when they're together.
Yes, I've heard the folk wisdom before: "normal is only a setting on your dryer", and I wouldn't want to give the impression that Christians should only talk about Christian things, in fluent Christianese.

But if it isn't comfortable, effortless, and -- well, normal -- to talk about God with good friends over pizza and wine, when is it?

What I can tell you is that last evening's time with Dave & Sandi was full of stories, lots of laughter, and very natural, un-forced, spiritually refreshing conversation. I think the old-skewl term might be fellowship. Wendy & I left their house energized, encouraged, and with our souls refreshed.

That's the kind of Christian friend I want to be.