Monthly Archives: September 2012

Chick-Fil-A and Jesus

The recent big brouhaha surrounding Chick-Fil-A really put me ta thinkin’. Actually, I didn’t think too much about it until I started seeing such hateful posts pop up on Facebook…and then I started hearing a lot of hateful comments in cubicle-land where I work. And I’m sure there were mean things said from Christians, too, I’m just fortunate enough not to be friends with any of the mean ones.

One of the most common things I kept hearing (well, reading mostly) from anti-Chick-Fil-A people was that Dan Cathy should try to attempt to model Jesus more. It was usually pretty clear that most of them had never cracked a Bible and only knew about Jesus from other sources, but it reminded me of a guy I knew in college who was fond of saying that Jesus didn’t hang out in churches, he hung out with sinners. Now, knowing this guy, he was just looking for a reason not to go to church and a reason to hang out in the bar…but once I became a believer, his words echoed in the back of my head.

And I realized he was right.

But it was only a partial truth. Jesus actually DID go to church; scripture is full of references to him teaching there. But he also hung out with sinners (“hang out” is probably too loose a translation, but hang with me a bit because that is the exact terminology he used to use). The difference is when Jesus hung out with them he always ended up saying, “Hey dude, you’re sinning. Stop it.” (Roland’s paraphrase, of course)

The reactions were generally that the person hearing Jesus said “wow! You’re right. Please forgive me.” Then, Jesus would tell them their sins are forgiven and for them to go and sin no more. That’s the biggie here. Jesus spoke the truth in love and He is indeed all about forgiveness (which is what the hateful voices on the left continue to shout), but he also told those forgiven to stop doing whatever sin they were doing (and they were many). That’s the key.

Forgiveness is about stopping the bad thing you’re doing. I mean, if I steal your car and you find me and you decide to be like Jesus and offer me forgiveness, everything will be fine—so long as I don’t steal your car again! (or someone else’s, for that matter) You’re willing to be forgiving if I stop the bad thing I do, right?

But you gotta stop doing the bad thing.

The problem with the whole homosexual argument these days is that both sides almost seem to suggest that homosexuality is the only sin that should be dealt with today when in reality there’s a whole bunch of other ones too: gluttony, envy, greed, anger, sloth and pride…just to name a few.

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Controlling Your Writer’s Cave

During my recent trip to Chicago to lead writing workshops at Karitos, I had the opportunity to talk to the mom of a young writer. Seems young writer had enjoyed one of my workshops (yea, me!) and had said as much to mom…and mom was simply offering a very kind thank you. She bumped in to me in the parking lot of the hotel where I’d just returned from having dinner with my long-lost (well, sorta. I’m pretty sure he always knew where he was) pal John Metych, whose last name I now pronounce correctly! For those one or two of you who don’t know, John is the writer of the very cool comic series Sniper and Rook. You should check it out!

But anyway, it was fun to talk to the mom with her writer-daughter there because I was able to tell them both things that I think (hope?) will aid their relationship as the young writer grows.

One of the things we talked about was writing environment and getting into the groove while writing…and breaking that groove. A writer’s cave…or back porch or wherever you write…should be set up in such a way as to get UNINTERUPTED creative time. I strongly stress uninterrupted because sometimes when a writer gets in a groove, when the fingers are flying on the keyboard almost faster than the writer can think (not a difficult task for me!), it’s very hard to get that groove back.

I told her the story of me working on my first novel and trying to get BJ to understand that. You see, that’s one of the things I tried to explain to writer-daughter’s mom and writer-daughter herself: people who aren’t writers will NEVER “get” writers. Try though they may and good-hearted though they may be, it just won’t happen.

So when we lived in Loretto, TN, I was teaching at UNA and BJ had quit her job to stay home with the kids. Her being home was a new adjustment for us and she worked hard at it. After a few polite interruptions, I had to tell her no interruptions, period. Wouldn’t you know it, not long after (not in the same day, silly!), I’m on a writing tear and she pops her head in and says “I’m not interrupting; I just wanted to know if you needed anything.”

Now, only a thick-skulled Yankee would not see she was, in her mind, being just as sweet as she could be—even whispering the words. To her, it was a thoughtful thing to do (to me, too, but bear with me). But it was an interruption, sweet though it may have been, and jolted me out of the world that exists only in my head and that I was trying desperately to get onto paper (well, computer file).

It’s a bit like those stop signs (or lights) they put on the highways. You’re rockin’ along at 65 miles per hour (because that is the speed limit!) and out of nowhere a stop sign pops up. You have to stop. Yes, you get going again, but you start from a dead stop and it takes time to pick up speed again, time that you might not have during that sitting.

So I think writer-daughter’s mom walked away with a bit more understanding of her weird writer-daughter.

I told writer-daughter she still has to listen to mom; she’s 14, after all!

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Secret IDs are so passé

One of the things I try to teach my students when creating characters is how important it is that the hero carry around some sort of secret, and not just a boring little secret like he wet the bed until he was 12 (he’s 25 now, who cares?) or that he doesn’t like cats (YAWN), or that he likes watching Nazi documentaries (really?), but something that could cause serious repercussions if discovered, like he killed someone or he a secret double agent spy, or he was the one who pulled the switch on the gas chambers in WW2 Germany, or that he’s secretly a superhero!

Superheroes have—for the most part—used the secret identity as that secret the character carries around, and to good effect, too. I mean, when Doc Ock discovered Peter Parker was Spider-Man, he kidnapped Aunt May! Green Goblin, of course, was responsible for the death of Gwen Stacy >sniff<. If the world knew Batman was Bruce Wayne…well, Alfred would be in a whole lotta trouble. There are exceptions, of course: the Fantastic Four’s identities have always been known.

So what is the deal with all the film superheroes revealing their secret ids? It seems like the “in” thing to do as a superhero on film is to tell everyone your secret…therefore making it not really secret anymore. Part of the whole intrigue and draw of masked heroes is that they have this cool thing that they can’t (or don’t) share with anyone…and the reason they do it is to protect the ones they love. It’s called EMPATHY…we sympathize with their plight and feel for them and thus cheer for them.

But I guarantee you that everyone has some secret. Think about your own. No, I’m not asking to turn this blog into a confessional in the comments below, but you know you have one. And no, I’m not telling you mine, either—cause then it wouldn’t be SECRET anymore! So, you’ve got your secret in your head…now look around you. Everyone else has one, too. SOMETHING. I dunno what it is, but everyone has them.

But I guarantee you that when the new Superman: Man of Steel movie comes out next year, there will be a small handful of people that find out. I don’t know who, but that’s the trend of superhero movies, so you can write the date down and say you heard it here first.

And Superman will be a little less sympathetic because of it…

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