Sunday, March 30, 2014

God's not dead, but he is easy.

It's been almost a year since I last posted. Wow. I really forgot about this place. But I have things to say and I can't say them on tumblr and I can't find a place for them on the OYAN forum. So here will have to do.

A few hours ago, I and my family saw God's Not Dead. I'd heard... things about this movie, and 99% of them were correct. I disliked this movie strongly, unlike my family. I told my aunt I thought of the movie as "emotionally manipulative, overly simplistic, and self-congratulatory." And after hearing my family's side of the story, I still think of it in those terms. We're okay with disagreeing (mostly). But I didn't really get to explain everything I found wrong with it, mostly due to my insufficiency at oral communication and dislike of corporeal conflict.

So, again, here will have to do.

Earlier this morning during church, the preacher talked about our names being engraved into the hands of Jesus (Isaiah 49:16, I think). And when Jesus was crucified, the nails in his hands looked back to that passage - his blood covering our names, our sin. It was a visceral, stark image, the very basis of Christian salvation in "one photographical moment."

Christianity is, at its core, incredibly visceral. In our white-washed, scoured, politically correct, Victorianized society today, we forget that Christianity is a religion based on a god. It was one of a whole collection of ancient religions. People worshipped Jesus alongside people who worshipped Zeus and Isis. It's doing God a disservice for Christians to think of him as anything less than an actual deity of the mystical sort of the gods of Olympus and Asgard. We've forgotten God's godness, the stark mysticism and other that he is. He's not a picture of a long-haired shepherd petting a lamb on the head, or a giant vending machine that helps you get what you want when you follow a seven-step process.

God is a god. Mysterious, powerful, unfathomable to human conscience. The Bible is our only taste of him, and what a tiny, bare taste of the dying god it speaks of.

How could less than one hundred short books - much of it to do with bygone law and people, very little of it to do with the actual god we call Jesus and his nature - tell us all we need to know to live comfortably as Christians? They can't. We are woefully underprepared when it comes to the ins and outs of our own religion. We have one slim book that doesn't even contain the same volumes from denomination to denomination. We have more information on Middle Earth than we do about the ungraspable god we serve. God is and always will be a mystery to earthbound humans, first and foremost, maybe even before savior and king and friend.

And that brings me to God's Not Dead.

In the movie, I saw a world I don't recognize. (Or maybe it's because I recognize it that I dislike it.) In the movie world, God is simple. God is easy to understand. God is easy, period. God stands at a street corner in stiletto heels and a corset, waiting for uninitiated virgin atheists to come get a taste of what he's selling. It'll feel good and it'll solve all problems - if nobody loves you, if you're confused, if you're having a bad day. It's that simple.

Atheists are also easy. They're stunted, puritanical modern virgins, angry and deluded. They are villains. There's only one thing for God's little whores to do - get the atheists to try it, just once. Get over whatever your mental block is and just try it. We're not the stupid ones - you are. Did someone hurt you in the past? Are you frigid? God'll fix it, don't worry.

To switch from a metaphor in slightly bad taste to a metaphor in even worse taste, the atheists are Snidely Whiplash and God is Dudley Do-right, with the atheists tying Nell - God's girl, the church - to the traintracks. The principal Whiplash is, of course, Professor Radison, the radically anti-theist philosophy professor painted in painfully simplistic brushstrokes of black and white. The principal Nell was Josh Wheaton (were they trying to be clever?), a whitebread Christian college student who, instead of reporting personal threats (another groaningly contrived scenario) made against him by his professor, went ahead with "academic suicide" in order to prove a point.

There is no godly love in this movie's main plot. Even while it mocks and vilifies Professor Radison's intelligence and circle of philosopher friends, it hides in a neat, tidy mound of scientific proof for God's existence. While I did appreciate that Josh was, nominally, not trying to prove God's existence, but to lobby for a chance for the students to decide for themselves, the movie didn't take that stance. Even after his 'victory' against Radison, when 98% of the student body stood up and smilingly repeated that God Isn't Dead, it's not treated as a score for free will and intellectual choice - it's treated as a score for the Western church, for the movie's prostitute form of Christianity.

Any victory is won when a villain loses. Radison was the villain. Radison lost, according to the movie. He was beaten by a freshman kid who quoted pop culture phrases from a few top-ten scientists, a Christian freshman kid who never made one gesture of Christ's love towards Radison. Radison was Josh's antagonist, not a human being; he was given the lines of Lord Business from The LEGO Movie and made to play Sauron to Josh's Aragorn, someone to beat and not to love. His dying-breath conversation meant nothing. If Sauron had pledged himself to Aragorn's service as he fell from his tower, nobody would care; it would mean nothing. It was the final disservice to Radison's character that he was objectified at his end, turned into a strawman for a sermon, killed for nothing but emotional manipulation or lazy, uninspired writing or both.

Meanwhile, Josh is hailed as a hero, having defeated the dragon on its own hoard; he's patted on the back for making Powerpoints and shouting at his professor. It's a happily-ever-after for everyone involved.

God isn't dead, but he is easy.

This is cotton-candy religion. It's pretty; it tastes good; take a chunk from God's cone and you'll be happy. It'll also rot your bones and stop your heart, and if you live off of it, you'll die. You'll be dry skin and bones as you shove sticky, wilting cotton candy in people's faces, and you'll wonder why nobody wants to take it.

The dying god I believe in and love and consistently doubt and fail offers a feast. The bloody god whose nature I will never understand laughs at evolution and creationism and human science and mortal philosophy; he growls under his breath when the cotton-candy eaters pretend that they have sure answers, just as he growls when the hungry pretend they're higher than god. The god who sweat blood for love doesn't care if his children are right; he cares if they love as he loved when he drove nails through the bones and tissue and muscles of his wrists.

God is not dead, but his followers are starving themselves on cotton candy and self-righteousness.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I'm back. Again. With news. Related to writing.

So I went to a writing workshop.  An awesome writing workshop.  I made friends.  FRIENDS.  Who knew I had it in me.

(That's my favorite gif ever.  Someday after I rewatch the latter half of Supernatural, I'll write a long and nonsensical blogpost about how Cas and I are soulmates.  If I had a penny for every time I used the aforementioned quote, I would be a rather well-off individual.)


Remember... um.  Did I call it by its name?  Better Angels?  The Paul/Ananias idea, anyway.  I can't remember if I've referred to it by its real title.  I just really don't remember a whole lot right now (exhaustion yo).  But anyway, that little pet project?  It's done.  I finished it on the last day of the writing workshop.  It came in a little over 80k, which is the longest standalone I've ever written.  Rather proud of my little semi-Christian attempt.  I'm happy it's done.  It was emotionally exhausting.

I'm also attempting the July Camp NaNo.  Probably going to try to get 50k of Pyxis done.  Pyxis being the first book in the Aster Quartet, the books I wangsted about a month or so back.  So get ready for lots of emoting in that quarter.

Uhm.  I think that's it.  OH.  I do have one more writing bunny.  I'll rant about it the next time I remember I have a blog, hopefully before July starts because I'd like to clock in my WC after the first day.  So.  I'll be back later with elucidation on the Hindu/medieval dystopia about the boy with purple eyes.

(I feel like I should have a catchphrase to say goodbye with.  And I feel like it should have something to do with Supernatural.  How about... 


...No?  Well, I'll keep thinking.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

more writing... words.

It doesn't take much when it happens.

Usually it's something as small as a quote half-read on Pinterest, or a line of music played on a piano by someone who means it.  Sometimes it's the feel of azalea leaves under my fingertips.  The sound the trees make when wind starts rushing through their branches.  The way my carkeys fit into my hand or how my brother's sneakers hit the floor.

It never takes much, but it's a hair trigger.  It just takes a touch.

It's all the stories, all the people, that could potentially come from me, imploding inside my veins.  "It's as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror" except there's no terror and there's no sudden silence.  All the future beings that might live inside my head wake up and all together announce their presence.

It's like static, it's like emotions, it's like thousands of years of lives and relationships and voices tangling up just under my skin and if I don't write them or at least write something to drown them out then I'll just go up in flames or explode or turn to dust or at the very least have a heart attack and die because my physical body is too weak for this.  Or maybe I'll just go insane and start talking back to the creatures in my head.

Sometimes I wonder if it's a healthy way to survive.  But I'd rather have the insanity than the silence.  Being crammed with impatient people is better than being on your own.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Writing angst!

It's been almost a month.  How have you people survived without me complaining a bit?

Let me tell you a story.

In early June, roughly, of 2004, I finished my very first book (barring the hand-written 'book' about the wolf three years prior).  I was eight years old.  This book was about 100 pages long, written in 19-point Baskerville Semi-Bold.  It told the first part of the epic story of four ordinary girls prophesied to save an entire planet - an alien one, in which Angels watched over and participated in a violent war between the planet's inhabitants.

I called my mom and I emailed my cousin.  I was thrilled.  I was beyond paralyzed with delight.  My first book was done, and the girls' journey - the journey of STAR - was just started.  I had no idea that the journey would keep going.  And going.  And going.

And going.

I had no idea that I'd been Doctor Frankenstein to the Energizer Bunny of youngster-written series.

Today, only a few days from my officially-sanctioned birthday of what is, for now, The Aster Trilogy, I looked over my three notebooks' worth of notes and almost chucked the whole project out.  Because as much as I like to imagine myself as Sherlock Holmes, I'm far too much Jawn and my emotions occasionally get the best of me.

I was thinking of a girl I don't really know but know of.  She's in the writing group I mention a lot.  She's written... I don't know, seven drafts, I think, of her novel, over... five years?  I can't remember.  I've never read her writing but everyone in the writing group is in awe.  Lots of them have read the drafts.   Everyone has beautiful things to say about her and her book.  Life-changing.  Spiritually energizing.  Special.

I started thinking about that and then I looked at my heaping mass of steaming, stinking crap that I've accumulated over nine years of writing and rewriting and losing drafts and changing storylines and ditching and creating new characters.  I must have written ten versions of the first Aster book; as many for the second; five for the third; and at least one for the fourth, fifth, and even sixth book.  I've never actually finished the series, but I've still written about thirty books.  In the same series.  Today, the grand total of usable books is two.  I thought I was done.  Just one more book, and then it'd just be editing and tweaking, maybe a few scenes added or deleted.

Today I realized I'd have to start over.  Again.

And I thought What in heck is the point to this anymore?  There is none.  I'm torturing myself.  This series will never be done.  Nobody except my cousin has read it, and her life, I'm fairly certain, has not been made better or even just changed by the reading.  It's not spiritual.  It has no mention of God in it.  I didn't even put great themes like Harry Potter's in it.  It's not a life-changing story.  It's a story about four witchy teenage girls who fight and complain their way through a really close encounter.

It's basically worthless.


Except, from the time I was nine until after I turned fifteen, when Sacrifice happened (I don't count the 40k Bloods book), Aster books were the only books I finished.

They were the first books I wrote where I really, really liked the characters.

I wrote my own fanfic for these characters.

I drew diagrams, I created maps, I formulated timelines.

In between the long hiatuses and the times I ignored it and the times I sat up almost in tears because it was never going to work, I have to stop writing these damn books (pardon my French), I had fun.

The story still appeals to me; the subplots and backstories still manage to get to me; the characters keep growing and growing; and I continue to understand the world better.

It's probably still a waste of time.  I'll be amazed if I finish these books by the time I'm forty.  And it won't change anyone's lives.  It's an action flick of a series, that's all; shallow, pointless.  The kind of books literature teachers and youth pastors cringe at because there is no possible moral or lesson they could squeeze out of these pointless pages.

But still.

June the first, The Aster Trilogy's ninth birthday, will find me up at all hours, working on the new version.  Maybe it'll be the final version.  I didn't know what I'd started when I was nine years old.  It follows that I won't know what I'll finish before it's through.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

And then things end.

It's the last day of NaNo.

Say that out loud looking off somewhere to middle stage with enough melancholy in your voice and it sounds nice.  I didn't try that in real life, of course.

The last day of NaNo has been successful.  I reached my 40k goal and then a few hundred or so.  Better Angels, as it has become titled, is about halfway done.  I'm going to try to keep to the 1.3k goal in May and see if I can finish it before then.

But I know I won't, because NaNo is over.  It may be a personal drive but there's no real reason.  Because NaNo ended.  Because things end.

Another thing that's ended: SVVA.

Of course I didn't finish it and then bury my head under a pillow.  Of course I didn't send my little sparkly Viking vampire alien off to an unknown world and then have a nice cry.  Of course I didn't succumb to such ridiculous emotions.

Of course I'm lying.

Nine months.  I'm not even going to notice the convenient number there.  But nine months.  Much of that being procrastination, but still.  Nine months.

Most of the books I've finished lately have been NaNo projects that were over in a month or a little over.  I'm not accustomed to long-time projects now.  I forgot how they worm under your skin and settle down right between the two halves of your heart like they belong there, like they and they alone stitch the parts together and keep you alive.

I think it'll be good for my temperament and well-being if I keep to short-term projects that need to be finished in a month or two.  This is stressful.

When did writing become not-fun and bittersweet and just generally ouch?

Don't answer that.

Friday, April 5, 2013


Not quite a week into Camp NaNo.  It's going pretty well.  I'm about to 7k words with a goal of 40k, so I'm doing fairly well.

I have another ramble, though.  A completely unplanned one that's come about today by a lot of stressful things that makes me want to straighten out what's in my head.  And unfortunately for my few readers, that means a blog post.

I'm a fledgling personality type geek.  MBTI types fascinate me.  Probably because I'm an INTJ and I don't understand people and this gives me a practical, if basic, plan of action when it comes to my fellow man.  And also as the 'machine' of the sixteen types, I get a lot of flack just for how I'm hardwired - less than a percent of females are INTJs and people don't seem to like machines, especially female ones.  Researching other INTJs makes me feel better about myself and thus probably eases the arrogance that typically comes out when I feel like I have to defend myself and my apparent lack of emotion.

Relationships for me are particularly hard because... people are people.  Flawed.  They don't work quite right; their pieces don't make them function as they should.  They don't make sense.  It puts me on edge.  It makes it hard for me to like many people, much less like them a lot.  It takes a lot to earn my trust, and when I say that, it's not a 'I trust you so I'm going to be emotional and spill my guts to you all the time' that you find a lot in romcoms.

Trusting for some INTJs/me is just deciding that you're steady enough for me to rely on to not screw me or yourself over.  That you're mature enough, intelligent enough, or even just intrinsically good enough not to change or do stupid things or - as happens, whether accidentally or purposefully - hurt me.

Basically -
Me: I've determined that you're a more functional human being than most.  You're not going to pull the rug out from under me by being an idiot or being cruel; therefore you are a safe place for me to stow my emotions.

Yes, we're wired for arrogance, how could you tell?

Safety.  It's all about safety because safety is what intelligent people go for and we like to think we're intelligent.

I'm probably more of a middle-spectrum INTJ.  Because while this is true - erasing is, again, the intelligent way to go, so as to save emotional energy - for me, it also really, really hurts before the erasing is complete.

It's confusing, "that dirtiest of all dirty words."  Confusion is only a step above boredom on the ladder of Worst Mental States.  I'm constantly trying to figure out what went wrong - was it me, or was it them? - where the relationship deviated from the plans.  But since the erasure is usually in the works as soon as trust is lost, I just can't get those answers.  So it's a Mobius strip of bewilderment.  A sentence missing a few vital parts of speech, an equation missing a few variables.

If I could verbalize how much stress this puts me under and how much sleep I've lost and how much I've hated myself - well, I probably wouldn't post it in a blog.  Too emotional.  But that's all happened.  Multiple times.  And it's always enough to send me back into the internal world where everything makes sense, sometimes for weeks or months.  Because if one person turned out not to work properly, and the human race has been giving proof of its faultiness for millennia, why trust anyone?

I'm blessed with a small circle of amazing friends that always manage to pull me out of that, even if they don't know it.  I appreciate them.  But I still have nightmares about the relationships that malfunctioned because I've never figured them out.  Faulty information does that.

Monday, March 25, 2013

I think I'm breaking a rule here...

But this isn't the second part to the previous post's first.  I realized that, what with Doctor Who finally starting up again this Saturday, it might be in a bit bad taste to post a list of particulars on why I dislike the current *handwave* attitude/atmosphere for the good Doctor.

Lol not really.  I wish I was that respectful.  Seriously, I just want to plug some of my own writing.  Humility is strong with this one, amirite?

Anyway.  This is a new project whose form has not yet been decided.  More like it hasn't told me what form it should take.  Right now it could be a novel, a novella, a collection of short stories... I'm not sure what incarnation it'll take.

Whatever form it does take, I do have a premise.  Acts 9, just a few scant verses of it, forms the basis of this idea, which is roughly titled To Be Or Not.  The stuff about Paul and Ananias.  This is one of those ideas that causes me to black out during the sermon because characters are being dragged kicking and screaming into my head, determined not to tell their stories, but my magical powers of deduction wiling it out of them.

Ha, ha.  Anyway.

The setting is a '30s Italian-inspired country, Salvare.  Religious uproars everywhere.  Just picture Israel after Jesus died/rose.  That's the state of the place.

We have Aristides Aiolfi - our Saul/Paul figure, the Butcher of Salvare, a young zealot ruthlessly hunting down religious deviants at the encouragement of the Church.  It's what he knows, the family business - almost all of his older male relatives are powerful Churchmen, all suffering at the hands of this dangerous new cult.  Aris is set to follow in the family footsteps, and the holy war against the Following can only help him and give him peace.

And then we have Zelindo Foschi, the Ananias, the Angel of Via Retto, a young man who's supposed to die in a year or two of a painful terminal illness.  He was one of the first believers in Arrigo (the Jesus figure), from the time Arrigo first showed up three years prior, when Zel was a young teenager still waiting to get out of the orphanage.  And yet, unlike the thousand other people that got their mild needs healed, Zel is still dying.  He covers up his waning belief by wasting himself on serving - on earning his nickname, the Angel.

And the Lord said unto [Ananias], Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

Ananias's reaction: "Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name."

In other words, "Oh heck no." But, of course, Ananias goes.  And Saul/Paul goes on to being a big uppity-up in the Christian circles.

After Acts 9, I don't recall Ananias coming up again. (Maybe he does, I'm no Bible scholar, but I can't remember him.)  But what's just occurred - this amazing meeting, these direct interventions by God in the lives of both of these men - it's just delicious.  It makes me happy.  It's simply begging to be turned into a friendship of Holmes/Watson opposite attraction, a violent implosion of two enemies who suddenly find they're on the same ground, a relationship that breaks itself apart before it heals itself again.

Or maybe my brain is just on overdrive and I'm reading too much into a handful of Bible verses.

Either way, the story has made itself known, and Zel and Aris are here to stay.  It's a definite possibility for my Camp NaNo project (which I'll try to keep updated about once April comes [she will]).  Even if it's not, I plan on writing snippets of it off and on starting now.

This is one of those projects I get really excited about.  It's not so much plot or setting as character. And I adore character.  Zel and Aris are some of the most interesting chars who've presented themselves to me in such a short time.  Expect spam.  Expect a lot of spam.