Friday, November 30, 2012


The second novel in the series The Books of Mortals by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee is entitled Mortals and picks up about nine years after the end of the first part of the story in Forbidden. There we learned that the post-war remnant of humanity is infected with a virus that removes all emotions save fear. Fear was used to keep the populace in check under the established leadership. Our hero Rom Sebastian received a vial of blood and he and several of his friends drank a portion. This blood brought them back to their full humanity by eliminating the effect of the virus. A prophesy told of a boy who would be born directly into his full humanity and that this boy would become the sovereign of the world and be the true source of the blood that would restore everyone.

This boy, Jonathan, was found at the end of Forbidden and safely hidden away until he could become sovereign at his eighteenth birthday. Rom had found a small tribe of nomads who had managed to maintain themselves away from the rest of the world. They believed in the prophesy and supported Jonathan's claim as sovereign so that they might find peace from persecution from those in power. Against this backdrop, the brother of the previous sovereign has used the dark forces of alchemy to create the biggest army assembled in the world in centuries. His goal is to crush the nomads protecting Jonathan and to destroy this boy, thus ending any possible threat to his world domination plans.

In this story, Jonathan, the man who prophesy has foretold would become the most powerful man in the world, has embraced his destiny. Yet the servant-hearted kingdom of life and restoration and atonement that he is working toward is completely different than what everyone else has assumed. He will not lead as a lion, he will lead as a lamb. A very rich story in biblical allegory that I loved. The last part of the trilogy, Sovereign is slated for release next summer.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Observations 11

My occasional blog series "Observations" was created to be an outlet to share a variety of topics that pop into my field of view as a result of a condition that many bloggers are afflicted with known as "blogger's eyes". In this state we view the world on the constant look-out for topics on which to write about. Today's blog came about from random odds 'n ends of things that I have noticed over the past few weeks.
  • The Los Angeles Lakers recently fired their head coach. The drama began when the team leaders released a press statement saying that his job was secure, that they agreed with his philosophy, and that everyone was behind him. He was fired the next day by a unanimous vote of the ownership and management team. Love me some job security!
  • Overly perky people should not be allowed near regular people first thing on a Monday morning. They tend to make most folks noticeably ill in their tummies.
  • I was watching a T.V. cooking show the other evening. The host had made a pizza that he formed by hand and cooked on the outdoor grill. When it came off the heat, it was kind of an odd shape. He said that his creation evoked for him the beauty of a rustic, farm-style pizza. He then looked into the camera and stated, "I have no idea what that even means." This made me chuckle.
  • I find myself all a-grumble when I visit web pages that suddenly load an ad that shifts the entire page just as I go to click on something. Invariably this causes me to click on something undesirable instead.
  • It is good for kids to see their parents hanging out with friends. I think it provides a healthy model for more mature relationships for them.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Goodbye iCarly

Back on February 28, 1983, I laid on the floor of my living room watching the final episode of the TV series M*A*S*H about the life and relationships of a group in a mobile army hospital during the Korean war. I remember crying uncontrollably as I watched everyone going their separate ways and saying their goodbyes. After watching the show regularly every week for years on end, all of the characters had become quite real to me. I no longer saw a group of actors standing on a set saying their scripted lines. What I saw was a group of people whose lives I had come to know intimately. I felt their emotions and their pain. I also was sad because it was the end of a regular and comforting routine that I used to share every week with my family.

Recently, I experienced a very similar set of goodbyes that hit me equally as hard. For five years my daughter and I have regularly watched the Nickelodean series iCarly. A show about a group of teenagers that host their own web show. The characters worked well together and they became part of me and my life over the last few years. As they said their goodbyes and went their separate ways, it tore at my heart. It also hit me that my daughter and I will no longer have new episodes to look forward to and we will not have this regular and comforting routine to share together. Goodbye, farewell and amen.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

iTunes Latest - 8

Back in December of 2011, I finally discovered iTunes on my Mac. This service has really helped me to reconnect with my love of music. One of the things that I really like about music is that so often a given song has a strong association with a time or with a moment in my life. So, I thought that I would share my latest five downloads and a bit about my history with each song.
  • Wheels - Heart (2010) - The mid-70's version of Heart was special. The hard-rocking Wilson sisters then morphed into an even more popular arena pop band. After the lights went out on this style of music, Heart has put out a few records in the last 10 years more in line with their original leanings. This song would have been very much at home back in the 70's with their other material. I love the simmering energy that builds up in this one before the accelerator is pushed hard to the floor.
  • Red Velvet Car - Heart (2010) - The title song from their 2010 album. This one is a bit of a slower tempo piece that pleads for the return and restoration of one missing. Lovely piece.
  • Lay it on the Line - Triumph (1979) - I recently saw a youtube video of the band playing this song live in Halifax in 1980. Even though this song is locked in my head from my old AM radio days, the video re-energized me to this song. The lead singer/guitarist for this group (Rik Emmett) had it all.
  • Fight the Good Fight - Triumph (1981) - Another great one from the Triumph catalog from 30 some-odd years ago. It is one to melt your face off.
  • Livin' on a Prayer - Bon Jovi (2003) - I am not a big fan of Bon Jovi, especially the work the band has been doing for the past decade. However, I did like the original version of this song. It was a rowdy anthem that was energizing and uplifting. The version of the song that I downloaded about good ole Tommy and Gina was the alternate form from This Left Feels Right. A version that slows the tempo, dials back on the guitars, is soulful instead of defiant, and has a whole different vibe that just speaks to me.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Active Spirituality

I am in the middle of reading the book Multiply by Francis Chan. While my review of this book won't be posted for a few weeks yet, I stumbled across something that provided me with kind of an "oh, wow" moment. I was so moved by this idea that I wanted to share it with you.

Verses 9-14 in 1 Cor. 2 suggests that none of us can properly understand the Bible (God's word) without the presence of the Holy Spirit. Verse 11 states, "So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God." Thus studying, interpreting, and understanding the Bible is not necessarily correlated with being intelligent or learned or "spiritual". The cool thing is that this tells us what we get out of reading the Bible is not just a passive message. It tells us that the Bible is alive and active. It means that the Bible is totally personal for each of us.

So that I don't lead folks astray, it is critical to make clear that the Biblical text has only one meaning, lest any of us attempt to twist the content to fit our own point of view or preferences. But with the Holy Spirit's leading, the truths in terms of application that each of us individually receive from reading the Bible may be different. In fact, the truth that we receive may be different each time that we humbly and prayerfully approach a given piece of scripture. It's like the Holy Spirit may lead us down a different path each time. That is, in my mind, the epitomy of active spirituality. It is how God can come alive to us as we approach His Word. It should serve as motivation for diving into the Word regularly.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Over the last couple of years, I pretty much read through the full Ted Dekker catalog. I then turned my attention to a couple of different authors. Recently, however, I picked up the first two books in Dekker's latest series, The Books of Mortals, co-authored with Tosca Lee. The first work in the series is entitled Forbidden. I will start off by saying that this is a quality work of fiction. A futuristic tale of adventure, suspense, love, intrigue, and compelling, well-developed characters. The quality of writing is top-notch and I could not put this one down.

The story takes place several hundred years into Earth's future after nuclear war has decimated and reshaped the planet. Life in this time has too been reshaped. Gone is the hatred, the violence, the warring, the anxiety, and the ambition. The world is united under an all-encompassing peace. The peace, it turns out, is due to a genetically engineered virus that has stripped humanity of every emotion save fear. The center of government and power of this new world order lies in Byzantium. There we meet Rom Sebastian, a man in his mid-20s, whose life is centered on living by the precepts of the Order. One day he is found by a wild old man who relates to him a brief and confusing narrative about the murder of his father and about life, blood, and the truth that all of humanity is actually dead. He slips Rom a small box and tells him to guard it with his life. Inside is the only key that can restore humanity, a key that has been guarded by a secret group for ages. Moments later the secret police come upon them. While Rom flees, the old man is murdered in cold blood. A short while later, Rom watches as these same secret police invade his home and murder his mother.

Rom barely escapes with his life and his world is undone. Inside the box the old man gave to him, he finds an ancient vial of blood and a scrap of vellum with some cryptic prose and a coded message. The prose speaks of new life emerging after drinking the blood. It speaks too of the prophesy of a boy who will restore humanity. With great trepidation, Rom drinks a portion of the blood and is transformed, feeling and sensing life for the first time. The story then takes us on a great adventure following Rom as he learns about what has happened to humanity and who the young boy alluded to on the vellum is and what his role is to be. Yet nothing comes without great cost as there are others who also know of the ancient prophesies and the great power that is there for the taking. It seems that violence, hatred, and ambition are not as extinct as some would have believed. Neither is the remnant of love.

Now, onto the next part of the story, Mortal.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Hope everyone finds themselves with folks they enjoy being around and a plate full of tasty victuals. Remember to give thanks for the blessings in your life. I will start. I give thanks to all of the folks who regularly visit this site. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Observations 10

My occasional blog series "Observations" was created to be an outlet to share a variety of topics that pop into my field of view as a result of a condition that many bloggers are afflicted with known as "blogger's eyes". In this state we view the world on the constant look-out for topics on which to write about. Thus we see everything from a different perspective and with different purpose than normal folks.

Today's blog came about from random odds 'n ends of things that I have noticed over the past few weeks.
  • I was trying to come up with a name for a cross between a frog and a bunny. I suggested "funny", but rhetorically noted that it would never do. Too much bunny, not enough frog.
  • The award for the most overused and now completely trite saying goes to, "Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims."
  • I love it when somebody gets me. My daughter gave me a math problem to solve on my recent birthday card. 14 + 2i < 4 + 6u + 10. Solve for i. A nerd-based card message.
  • Sometimes tears can be absolutely wonderful in their spirit-cleansing properties.
  • I sat through a meeting the other day where more acronyms were used than actual words.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Black Label

When I have to rely on others, I have a very nasty habit of making strong declarative statements when things don't go the way I expect that they should. I throw around black labels like idiot, incompetent, and moron. What is worse, I fire out these terms even when I don't fully know why things have not gone as I had expected. Some self-righteous trigger threshold is reached and I spew these ignorant and hateful epithets to whoever is around. Oftentimes the first several salvos have been unleashed before I even realize what has happened. Of course at that point I cannot take them back or recall them and pretend that nothing happened.

I seems that most times, folks just let this kind of thing go, either because they agree with my assessment or they believe me to be a hothead or they are just allowing me to vent my anger and frustration. Not that this makes my actions right, it's just that most of the time the munitions flame out in the air and never reach a target. However, the other day, my words found their mark and I really upset someone who was just trying to do their job. I really felt sick about what I had done and no apology can unring the bell that I sounded. Hopefully this freshly (re-)learned lesson will stay with me awhile.

Monday, November 19, 2012


After the last supper in the upper room, Jesus led his disciples to the garden at Gethsemane for a last time together before the authorities came to take Jesus away to his death. Matt. 26:36-38 states:

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."

Just a short time later, Jesus in his greatest despair and turmoil, came back to where he left his three closest friends and disciples and found them asleep. Matt. 26:40-41 tell us:

The he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Couldn't you men keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

I lived a small part of this narrative recently. A friend of mine who is a teacher told me through his blog that one of the students that he was very close with was killed in a car accident. Given his love for children and his long history of selfless mentoring, I knew how much this was affecting him. Before I left for work, I told him that I would pray for him throughout the day. Yet once I arrived at work, I quickly got absorbed into what I was doing. It was only when I got home late that night that I remember what I had promised, yet failed to do. The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Forgotten Road

A few weeks ago I completed my reading of a trilogy of books by author Randall Arthur. This set of novels, Wisdom Hunter, Jordan's Crossing, and Brotherhood of Betrayal, each focussed on a man and his relationship with the church. Actually, they were really about broken men and their ultimate restoration with God. The one constant from book to book was the presence of pastor Jason Faircloth. He was the central character in the first book and had a cameo role in each of the other two. Now, after more than a 10 year absence from publishing novels, Arthur returns with another tale in this series, Forgotten Road. It took me quite some time to locate a copy of this book, but the one that I ultimately did find was autographed by Mr. Arthur himself.

The story surrounds a musician, Cole Michaels, who was living his dream. His first album had unexpectedly hit it big, providing visions of a long, successful, and lucrative future for Cole, his wife, and their young son. While Cole fought to make his way in the recording business, he had neglected his wife for a time. In this period she had come to Christ and ultimately brought Cole along as well. The young couple was initiated into a type of "American Dream" theology, where God's blessings are promised if you give him your life. Cole did so willingly. Yet shortly after, his son was killed in a gruesome tractor accident and his wife committed suicide in the aftermath. Cole turned to alcohol to dull his pain and then killed a young mother and her daughter while driving under the influence. Cole was sentenced to 11 years in jail and was locked away while everything that he had known and believed in was ripped from his grasp.

In prison we find a truly broken man, one who has reached rock bottom. Something about Cole attracts the attention of the prison chaplain, Duke Parker. Duke is loving and tenacious and filled with grace. Under the chaplain's mentoring, Cole re-awakens and finally begins to understand the true nature of God and what a relationship with him means. When Cole is released from prison, he enters back into the music world very quickly. Yet just when he is set to reach the pinnacle of the music world again, with all the trappings of wealth and fame and women, he realizes that this life is not what he wants and is not who he now has become. What he wants is to give back, to make a difference, and to help others. And the beautiful thing is, this is just what he ends up doing.

Although this book was a bit uneven in its writing, especially with some weak and clipped dialog and prose in the second half, it was still a very enjoyable read. It was also nice to meet up with Jason Faircloth again and to find how his life and ministry have progressed over the years.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Two windows side by side,
Ubiquitous, utilitarian,
Divided glass, jamb, sash, grilles
Somehow speak to the depths of my heart
Two distinct portraits of myself
One old - One new
Past and present

One a representation of the past
Dressed in warm shades of chocolate brown
Refined, finished, complete, and comforting

One a reflection of the present
Stark, naked, exposed
Construction grade, lacking

Two windows
Side by side
Only one complete

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Crime Scene

Most of the time I go about my day-to-day life feeling perfectly safe and secure. Rarely, if ever, do I get spooked or feel that I am in any sort of danger. The other night I came home from work rather late. After having my dinner, I finished cleaning my kitchen and before I went to bed, I decided to take the trash out to the bin that I keep by the side of my house. Early the next morning when I was leaving for work, I got into my car and started to back out of my driveway. It was then that something on the side of the house caught my eye. I stopped the car and went over to investigate. I found a bicycle laying on its side that obviously was not there when I took the trash out the night before. This was clearly not something left behind by children at play. It was an expensive bike that clearly had been stolen and then stashed on the side of my house. It kind of gave me the chills because the area where it was left is just outside my bedroom window. I never heard a peep during the night even though some criminal element was just a few yards away from where I laid sleeping.

When I got into work that morning, I called the police and gave them a report. They came out and checked over my property and took the bicycle away after talking to the neighbors up and down my street. For the next several nights, I remained a bit on edge. Vigilant and attentive. Every time I heard even the slightest noise, real or imagined, I darted about the house furtively peeking out the windows. My heart rate increased noticeably as I strained to see any movement or activity in and among the shadows that cover my property. It is amazing how fragile my sense of security really is. What is interesting to me is that if they had never left the stolen bicycle behind, I would never have been aware of the trespass. Is it better to live in ignorance sometimes?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

You Never Know

Most of the time you just don't know ...

  • ... how your smile can affect those you interact with each day.
  • ... how your pausing to listen to someone can impact their approach.
  • ... how calling someone just to say hello can change someone's mind.
  • ... how letting someone merge in traffic can ease their spirit.
  • ... how sending that email can erase a burden.
If we only acted upon a kind or positive impulse when we could be sure that we would directly witness its consequences, far too much beauty, grace, and life would cease. In my mind an image of an iceberg comes into focus. Only the small tip of the iceberg that projects above the water's surface is the part where the outcome of our actions is directly seen. I know that I have benefitted on countless occasions when someone's act has had a positive impact and influence on my life and they never even knew what a blessing they were for me. In fact it is likely that most often I do not even appreciate the effect that other's actions have on my bearing. How often has a kind word from a friend or stranger soothed me and pulled me back a bit from the edge?

The seed for this post was sowed late last summer during a short phone call with a friend and colleague of mine. I had kind of lost my passion at work and was in many ways just going through the motions. Somewhere in our conversation he sparked something within me that slowly began to take root. A year later and I have just successfully completed a major research project that would not have even gotten off the ground without that input. Doing this project has re-energized my heart and mind toward my work. So, when giving of yourself, you never know.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Living in a country built upon a foundation of democracy, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, talk of the benefits of socialism is taboo. This philosophy goes against the very tenets of capitalism and individuality and making your own way. Yet the other night, I willingly waved the flag of socialism and, despite what you may think of me, I would do it again. Comrades, let me explain.

The past few weeks I have been struggling a bit with life and where I fit into it. Too many things seemed like they were working against me. I was fighting against the flow. Constantly swimming upstream is a labor that can quickly drain a person's spirit and zeal. Sometimes thoughts creep in that it would even be better to just sink to the bottom and be done with the struggle. This was the dark place that I found myself in.

Yet even knowing a bit of my state, a young couple from my church came alongside me and invited me into their home for dinner and some socializing. Even though my social skills are more than a bit rusty and I am quite sure that I talked way too much about me, the evening was a healing balm for my soul. Who knew that I, a red-blooded American, would so embrace socialism?

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Spirit Well

The Spirit Well is the third entry in author Stephen Lawhead's Bright Empire series and takes up where the second book, The Bone House, left off. Once more, we ping pong back and forth, thither and yon, amongst the different principal characters as they jump from time period to time period and place to place amongst different realities. As we have been schooled thus far in this adventure, traveling from chord to chord in the multiverse is different than time travel. So-called ley travel does not connect one to different points and places along the same time line, but to alternate realities. As these jumps are not something that can be calibrated or strongly controlled, it makes for a very interesting set of possibilities and narrative lines so one must always pay careful attention to keep up.

The overall story arc follows the descendents and travellers connected to Arthur Flinders-Petrie as they each take up the quest to protect the secrets of ley travel from those of less than pure intent. They are also seeking to acquire the ultimate treasure of the universe, although they have no idea what it could be based on the meager yet tantalizing hints that they possess. The antagonist in this chase is the evil, conniving Lord Burleigh and his lot of agents. He seems to always be one step ahead of Kit and Mina who are slowly learning his tricks and devising a few of their own.

In this story Kit and Mina become separated as Kit errantly travels back to the Stone Age where he is adopted into a most interesting tribe. It is here that he comes to find his place and comfort. Mina has sought out a fellow traveler located in a Spanish monastery in order to better understand ley travel so that she can find Kit. Meanwhile, Kit has made an unbelievable discovery, locating the Spirit Well. Yet the significance of this place and what powers are held there is anyone's guess. New to the scene is a young archaeologist named Cass, who has been charged with helping to find the missing Cosimo and Kit. Her role in the ongoing tale is still unclear. I will just have to hang on until the next installment, The Shadow Lamp, is published next year. A fun romp that stirs the imagination.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

iTunes Latest - 7

Back in December of 2011, I finally discovered iTunes on my Mac. This service has really helped me to reconnect with my love of music. One of the things that I really like about music is that so often a given song has a strong association with a time or with a moment in my life. So, I thought that I would share my latest five downloads and a bit about my history with each song.
  • Get the Party Started - Pink (2001) - This song caught my ear when I first heard it. It is the only song by Pink that I even know of, but it is catchy, energetic, and infectious.
  • Strangelove - Depeche Mode (1987) - This "techno-band" song was not produced from the same cookie-cutter mold that most pop songs seem to come from. I have always liked this quirky tune and it holds up strong for me today.
  • 10,000 Reasons - Matt Redman (2011) - I first heard this one at my church not too long ago. The lyrics are simple, beautiful, and reached deep within me.
  • Have a Nice Day - Bon Jovi (2005) - Since their hey-day in the 1990s, Bon Jovi has produced an album every 2 to 3 years and each has contained one decent song. This is the one decent song on the album of the same name. If you don't like what I'm doing, then screw you. Oh, and have a nice day.
  • Countdown to Zero - Asia (1985) - I purchased the album Astra back when I was in college and this is another keyboard heavy song from that work. Apart from the cheesy spoken part at the end, I enjoy the flavor and tone of this one.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

When it Hurts

Early on in his book Where is God When it Hurts?, author Philip Yancey cites a quote by C.S. Lewis, "You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you." This statement is of the utmost relevance for anyone who calls themselves a Christian when they are forced to deal with pain. Of course many Christians have looked to Lewis for insight and wisdom on this topic in his landmark book The Problem with Pain. Actually after witnessing the depth and craft exhibited in this work by Yancey, I would put this work on the same shelf with Lewis' Pain.

Although this book focuses mostly on issues dealing with physical pain, it is entirely relevant for folks dealing with a spectrum of emotional pains such as depression, regret, loneliness, and loss of interest in life. In fact, many symptoms of emotional pains are manifest in much the same way as physical pain. This book begins with a detailed thesis on the value of pain to the human body. It explores how our nervous system points to a supernatural origin in its sheer ingenuity. It then tells us how to prepare for and help one another through suffering. Finally, it explores in depth the question when it comes to dealing with hurt and pain, "What difference does the Christian faith make?"

Yancey makes the statement that pain and suffering are part of the human condition. It is a part of the human experience that nobody can escape or weasel out of. Given that we must all face pain and suffering, how are we to respond? That is the whole point of this work, namely to help us gain perspective, to help us prepare for the inevitable, to help us learn appropriate ways to respond given the alternatives, and to teach us how to bless and show grace to others who are afflicted. This book is not your typical Christian-lite cotton candy. This is a work that will expand and shape your thinking and your theology. Top notch work.

The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Romans 8:26

God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 4-5

Thanks to Bill at Cycleguy's Spin for bringing this book to my attention.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Observations 9

My occasional blog series "Observations" was created to be an outlet to share a variety of topics that pop into my field of view as a result of a condition that many bloggers are afflicted with known as "blogger's eyes". In this state we view the world on the constant look-out for topics on which to write about. Thus we see everything from a different perspective and with different purpose than normal folks.

Today's blog came about from random odds 'n ends of things that I have noticed over the past few weeks.
  • I came across the following quote from Henri Nouwen that just spoke to my heart, "No man can stay alive when nobody is waiting for him."
  • Folks pray and pray that an approaching hurricane does not come ashore in their area. Yet it ultimately must come ashore somewhere, in someone's area. Hmmm.
  • There is not a clear etiquette when two folks, who are no more than casual colleagues, are walking outside in a rain shower and only one has an umbrella.
  • If you are asked the definition of feckless, the answer according to the online Webster's dictionary reads, "completely without feck". Well, there you have it (maybe).
  • Just when you are ready to give up, folks can surprise you out of nowhere, even if they are serving dust bunnies and floor wax.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player - and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. (Shakespeare)

Sometimes when life becomes troubling, our mettle is put to the test and the true measure of our character emerges. Do you like what you see?

Do you accept your fate as a trembling, meek lamb?
Do you show any grace to others and to yourself?
Do you fight dirty?
Do you self medicate to shut out the world for a while?
Do you turn to God with salvos of prayers for deliverance?
Do you turn into someone else, forgetting who you are and what you believe?
Do you take your anger, hurt, and frustration out on others?
Do you withdraw from the world?
Do you cry without control?
Do you talk to yourself in ugly, hateful terms?
Do you give up?
Do you stop dreaming?
Do you turn negative?
Do you shut down?
Do you let sin take hold over your life?
Do you scream until you're hoarse?

Does anything help to restore us with even a small measure of peace besides time? Can there be healing and growth without help from others?

So many questions.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Bone House

The second book in Stephen Lawhead's "Bright Empire" series is called The Bone House and takes up just where the first book, The Skin Map, left off. Again, the story bounces back and forth between several different narrative threads. We follow Mina as she builds a successful bakery and coffee house in Prague with her good-natured partner Etzel. We travel along with Kit Livingstone as he struggles for survival taking up the cause of his great grandfather Cosimo. We learn a bit more about the man who is map, Douglas Flinders-Petrie, and his pursuit of wisdom and secrets untold, and the paths followed by his son Benedict and his lineage. The common factor criss-crossing each of the protagonist's lives is the ne'er-do'well Lord Burleigh. A man who uses his breeding and rank to ensnare the rich and powerful with his charms and kills those in cold blood who get in his way.

The story develops an interesting turn when Lord Burleigh leaves Kit to die in an old Egyptian tomb. Just when it seems there is no hope for escape, Kit is rescued by Mina. In the long time that they have been separated, Mina has undergone a complete rebirth and Kit is completely unprepared for the strong, clever, and confident woman who rescues him. Yet more than this, it is clear that Mina has been very busy learning how to navigate among different points in the multiverse. When Lord Burleigh closes in, Kit makes a narrow escape by traveling to a prehistoric world where he is taken in by a nomadic tribe. Ultimately he is led to a hut-like dwelling made entirely of animal bones that holds mysteries beyond understanding. Another secret coordinate on the skin map.

Good story-telling that will take you on an interesting and fast-paced adventure. Now onto the third part of the story, The Spirit Well.

"The past and the present are our means; the future alone is our end." Blaise Pascal

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What It's Not

I have had parts of this post running through my mind for some time now. I have not put it out before today because I wasn't quite sure what purpose it was supposed to serve. I was also a bit afraid that some might be offended or recognize themselves in my words. Ultimately, I decided that I would just gather together the threads that I had managed to grasp and share them come what may.

The notion that I have been wrestling with is friendship. More specifically, what a friend is not. To me a friend is someone that you spend time with and do things with. A person whose companionship and company you enjoy. It is not someone you only see once in a while at work or out on the street and say a few passing words to. That, in my vernacular, epitomizes an acquaintance. The difference between a friend and acquaintance is how close to your life and your heart someone is allowed to approach. A friend registers significantly higher on the intimacy scale than a mere acquaintance. Friends are there with you not only when you celebrate, but also when you cry.

A few things, from my perspective, of what characterizes someone who is not a friend.
  • Someone who often says to you, "hey, we should get together", yet you never do.
  • Someone who only wants a relationship to get something from you.
  • Someone whose only presence in your life involves the occasional quickie, lite comments on your blog or Facebook page.
  • Someone who consistently lets you know by their words and actions that you are not a priority.
  • Someone who avoids you when you are hurting or down.
Of course friendship is a two-way street. You have to give what you expect to receive. By any measure, I must not expect to receive back much.