Monday, June 30, 2008

White Christianity

More and more I see that the Christianity I grew up with is sooo tainted with Americanism that it is often very hard to see what The Way -- as Jesus' disciples called the religion Jesus taught-- would have turned into.

So I read Pastor Richard Twiss' "One Church, Many Tribes." I listen to Henry Lao of the Elijah Challenge. I listen to Christian ministers from other countries.

And I can only say I feel a strange excitement in the air. The Christianity we have is so euro-centric and the evangelical charismatic religion we have is so influenced by televangelist and American culture that I stand amazed at what this religion will be like when non-whites, non-Americans, finally get an influence in our church. I'll admit I'll be a little scared too. After all, I'm American and some stuff I hold to will also be challenged. But I'm open.

One of the weird things about this movement toward indigenous Christianity and a Christianity that moves away from American suppositions, interpretations, telvangelism, racism, etc....is that I am CONTINUALLY getting into fights with American Christians who simply do not want to grow. They are sooo committed to the American interpretations of certain verses and of certain ways of being that you can see their fear that you have fallen into heresy when you mention something. It's like telling some Christian man who is into authority that the perfect woman of Proverbs 31 -=- the woman who is far above rubies-- is shown in the Bible as buying property without asking her husband's permission. They just look at you like.....

Or when you tell someone that new believers in countries where new believers are persecuted for changing their religion shouldn't have to leave their religions...that God will work with inside believers from within those religions, that Jesus called believers to a relationship with him, not to "change religions" or "become Christians"...they look at you like......

Or when you tell them that evangelism without the miracles of Christ isn't gonna cut in in some countries....they're like.....

I have to admit that my patience with normal American Christians is running pretty short. Perhaps because they are so connected to American ideas such as patriotism, The US is God's country, etc, or their addiction to fame and large churches...and "issues"...and whatever the latest hip thing Christians are studying (christians and being feminine, christians and bad girls in the Bible, christians and yadda-yadda... or whatever...) well, it just makes me very snippy and "short" with people. Mercifully, the census bureau states that in 30 years the country will be primarily hispanic -- mostly immigrants. Honestly, I am looking forward to this. (I'll be 78, then.) How will anglo-white Christians deal with a United States that is no longer what they picture in their writings? Hopefully, all those Janet Oke pioneer stories will be long gone!

And when it's another Christian writer telling me that my story is too Christian, too heavy-handed (although my atheist friends and my Moslem friend and my new ager friends loved it) I feel like saying, "Idiot! Don't you know folks are going to hell? And you are upset with a book because it's too Christian or it doesn't fall into the type of Christian fantasy you want (Elves, knights, etc.) Oh, it really just p*sses a person off!

Am half-curious to see how my new WIP Inheritance with those sex issues will play among Christians. Will they say I have made my demon too sexy and scary for Christian audiences?

My mother taught me

Okay, this is alll true. Really. Jamaican mothers DO say this stuff.

1. My Mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
"Just wait till we get home."

2. My Mother taught me about RECEIVING.
"You going get a ass'n when we get home!"

3. My Mother taught me to MEET A CHALLENGE.
"What di backside yu thinkin'? Answer me when me talk to you...

Don't talk back to me!"

4. My Mother taught me CONSEQUENCES.
"If yu run cross de road an' Kyar lick yu dung, a goin' kill yu wid lick."

5. My Mother taught me THE VALUE OF EDUCATION.
"If yu no go a school, yu a go tun tief or walk an' pick up bokkle."

6. My Mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.
"If yu kip on a tun over yu eye lid an' fly pitch pan it, it a go stay suh fi evva."

7. My Mother taught me ESP.
“Yu tink a don't know what yu up to, nuh?"

8. My Mother taught me HUMOR.
"If yu don' eat food, breeze goin' blow yu weh."

9. My Mother taught me how to BECOME AN ADULT.
"Come an' tek yu beatin' like a man."

10. My Mother taught me about SEX.
"Yu tink say yu drop from sky?"
11. My Mother taught me about

My Mother taught me GENETICS.
"Yu jus' like yu faada."

12. My Mother taught me about my ROOTS.
"Yu tink mi come from "Back A Wall?"

13. My Mother taught me about WISDOM OF AGE.
"When yu get to be as ol' as me, yu wil understan'."

14. And my all time favorite...JUSTICE.
"One day wen yu have pickney, a hope dem treat yu same way."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

You May All Prophesy


You May All Prophesy
by Steve Thompson
December 01, 2007
Morningstar Publications (NC)
ISBN: 159933089X
EAN / ISBN-13: 9781599330891

Here it is on Amazon and here it is on New Books Christian

Here's the Blurb:
Paul revealed this startling truth to the first-century church, and God is now releasing the grace and understanding to fulfill it. The days ahead will require that we all be able to hear from God for one another. Now is the time for the body of Christ to begin functioning prophetically in order to build up the church and win the lost. This book offers balanced encouragement and instruction to begin equipping you to minister prophetically with both faith and wisdom. This book will help you (1) recognize God's voice, (2) interpret prophetic symbolism, (3) identify and overcome prophetic character weaknesses and (4) grow in the spirit of prophecy.


This book can totally teach everyone how to hear God's revelation and how to speak it. I totally loved this book.

Another book I've been reading and totally love:

Understanding the Healing Power of God
Doug Jones

Faith Library Publications / 2001 / Paperback
Retail Price: $8.95

Can be bought at Doug Jones Ministries website
or Christian Book Distributors website

Here's the blurb:
In this book, Rev. Jones presents the truth concerning this little-talked about subject: understanding God's healing power. By applying the principles outlined in this book, you will learn: How to determine if the healing power is present. How the healing power is administered to your body. And how to keep the healing power active within you until you are satisfied with the fruit produced. Many believers have been instructed from the Word that one ingredient necessary to receive healing is faith. However in this comprehensive study, you will learn of another ingredient that you must understand in order to be healed, and that is the healing power of God. When we connect our faith to His power, we are on the path to victory.


Loooved this book!

Friday, June 20, 2008

SILENCED by Nicole Givens Kurtz



SILENCED
by Nicole Givens Kurtz

SCIENCE FICTION
Publisher: Parker
Published: July 2008

Here's the blurb:
In the year 2146, the United States has completely collapsed, leaving the country in ruins. In this turmoil, Cybil Lewis and her inspector-in-training, Jane, fill a need. When begged by Jane to look into the disappearance of Jane's cousin, Cybil is catapulted into a world far removed from anything she has experienced so far-a world of lies and deceit. As they investigate, they move far into the reaches of the divided states and deep into the upper crest of political turmoil. Reluctantly caught up in a world of betrayal and corruption, Cybil and Jane unearth long buried secrets and survive attempts on their lives. As they move closer to the truth, they discover that the people, who are entrusted with the safety of the territories, will do anything to keep their secrets, including murder. Especially murder. Cybil and Jane will do what they must to get to the truth. They will never be SILENCED!




Here's her website

A review is over at romance in color

Other blogs touring this book are:

http://aaopinion.blogspot.com/2008/06/silenced-by-nicole-givens-kurtz.html/

www.darkparables.blogspot.com

www.writersofcolorblogtour.blogspot.com

http://www.terralittle.blogspot.com/

religious idiom and the african american novel, 1952-1998



Religious idiom and the african american novel, 1952-1998
Tuire Valkeakari.
Gainesville: University of Florida Press,
Published 2007
ix + 261 pp.
Preface, prologue, notes, bibliography, index.
$59.95 (cloth)
ISBN 978-0-8130-3055-5.

Here's the blurb from the University of Florida website:

"In this groundbreaking and valuable work, Valkeakari creatively accounts for how African American authors use Christianity in their writing as they recycle or in some cases subversively secularize or supplant biblical precedents. [This book will be] of interest to anyone interested in the dialogue between religion and literature and how African American literature forms a cohesive and at times rebellious tradition."--Jonathan Little, Alverno College

"An extremely valuable (post) modern contribution to the field and one that opens new ways of looking at the ongoing and often ignored and underplayed dialogue between religion and literature."--Carol Henderson Belton, University of Delaware

In this study of novels by Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, Leon Forrest, Ernest Gaines, Randall Kenan, John Edgar Wideman, Gayl Jones, and Octavia E. Butler, Tuire Valkeakari examines the creative re-visioning and reshaping of Judeo-Christian idiom and imagery by African American novelists--specifically their use of "sacred" language for secular meaning. She shows that in writing about the complexities of American selfhood and nationhood, these authors neither abandon religious idiom nor evangelize. Rather, they delight in reshaping their chosen raw material for their own purposes, which often have little to do with the material's original context or function. Their use of biblically derived idiom is marked by innovative secular subversion and by stories of spiritual quest that defy conventional dogmatic definitions. These authors evoke religious rhetoric to study and revisit Martin Luther King Jr.'s concept of the "beloved community" and to express their yearning for an inclusive love ethic that could transcend any boundaries drawn in the name of race, class, gender, or religion.

Beginning with the functions of Christian idiom in African American letters from the 1770s to the 1920s Harlem Renaissance and its aftermath, followed by an analysis of post-1950 novels, Valkeakari shows how, generation after generation, African American writers have evoked Christian rhetoric to advocate civil rights and democracy. Their treatment of this legacy reached a new level of creativity in the latter half of the 20th century, becoming a more pervasive characteristic of the African American novel than ever before.

Tuire Valkeakari is assistant professor in the Department of English at Providence College, Rhode Island.


Here's a bit of a review from H-NET BOOK REVIEW
Published by H-Amstdy@h-net.msu.edu (May, 2008)

Reviewed for H-Amstdy by Carolyn M. Jones, Department of Religion, University
of Georgia
>>=============================
Re-Shaping the Sacred Through Literature

Tuire Valkeakari's excellent study considers a wide range of literature produced between 1952 and 1998 to examine the ways that African American writers have explored and shaped the Christianity that African slaves received when they came to America. Valkeakari's study includes Ralph Ellison's _Invisible Man_ (1952), Toni Morrison's _Beloved_ (1987) and _The Bluest Eye_ (1970), and works by Leon Forrest, Gayle Jones, Ernest Gaines, and Octavia Butler. She traces the "roots" of these writers' concerns to African American letters, invoking the works of Paul Laurence Dunbar, Frances Ellen Harper, James Weldon Johnson, Margaret Walker, Nella Larson, and others. Valkeakari examines the "creative re-visioning" and "re-shaping" of the Judeo-Christian inheritance that African Americans undertook in their expressive culture under oppression to resist and undo that oppression (p. 1). Her examination leads to her final questions about home and belonging.

Valkeakari argues that this re-shaping has been multiple, without any one particular trajectory; instead, African American writers are "signifyin(g) on the sacred" (pp. 4-5). The two-ness that African Americans experienced was not that of a secular-sacred split; instead, it was the "double consciousness" and how that worked within and against an African sense of the sacred and profane or secular as not two, but
whole. Valkeakari argues that, given this orientation, the writers utilize Judeo-Christian notions to affirm civil and human rights and democracy and to think critically about messianic discourse, violence, and scape-goating, and to construct and deconstruct the Black Christ figure. She also looks at the figure of the minister in African American fiction. Finally, Valkeakari's work emphasizes the importance of Ellison's _Invisible Man_ for the writers who came after him. Indeed, Ellison becomes, in the work, a kind of pivot or fold between the writers who came before and those who came after him, as he, in many ways, sets out an agenda for thought.

Valkeakari does not want to argue whether African American writers, in thinking about religion, have stayed within denominational boundaries; neither does she want to do "myth criticism" (p. 12). Her task is to examine cultural mixings and the development of hybrid forms to understand a unique and varied African American production.

I was particularly impressed with the work on female ministry.....Rest of article here:H-NET BOOK REVIEW

Copyright 〓 2008 by H-Net, all rights reserved. H-Net permits the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web location, date of publication, originating list, and H-Net: Humanities & Social Sciences Online. For any other proposed use, contact the Reviews editorial staff at hbooks@mail.h-net.msu.edu.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The demon-possessed boy Part I

This morning I got up and was thinking about Mark 9:14 again.

Because of my post on translations and interpretations in which I mentioned the following:

DIFFERING INTERPRETATIONS CAN ALSO OCCUR DEPENDING ON HOW A TRANSLATOR CHOOSES TO USE PUNCTUATION,

Consider Mark 9:23:
In Mark 9:22, the father of the demon-possessed epileptic boy says, "If you can do anything, have compassion and help us."


King James Version: If you can believe all things are possible to him that believeth.

Young's Literal Translation (printed in 1898):"If thou art able to believe! all things are possible to the one who is believing."

The New International Version: "'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."

The International Children's Version: "Jesus said to the boy's father, "You said, 'If you can!" All things are possible for him who believes."

The Contemporary English Version: "Why do you say 'if you can'? Anything is possible for someone who has faith."

The New Revised Standard: "If you are able! --All things can be done by the one who believes."

See how subtle the difference in these translations are. If one goes only with the King James Version, you'll end up thinking Jesus is telling the father that the father has no faith and as one televangelist -- whom I highly respect (but who in this case is way wrong) says-- Jesus is putting the responsibility back on the father. Not true in the other versions. In the other versions, Jesus is reassuring the man that anything is possible and that of course he -- Jesus-- can do anything.

I'd say that pretty much all the versions blame the ministering disciples for not having faith, but many ministers use the KJV and because they don't want to put the blame on ministers (themselves) they all manage to make sermons about the man's lack of faith. But as is clearly seen in the non-KJV versions, Jesus isn't blaming the father at all. Jesus puts the onus of healing on the disciples and ministers of the church

I figured I'd just go checking out the story again and see what all I could find.

When the story begins, Jesus is descending the mount of transfiguration with his three favorite disciples. The disciples have seen Moses and Elijah talking to Jesus about his future death and resurrection. They have asked him, "Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?"

Jesus tells them that Elijah has come but the scribes did all sorts of stupid thing to him. Jesus says this although Elijah was just speaking to him, and although he has also said that John the Baptist had the spirit of Elijah. Am not gonna ask why the disciples didn't recognize John the Baptist in the same spirit of John the Baptist.

Anyway, Jesus and the three inner-circle disciples descend and what do they see? Those self-same scribes. And there's a hub-bub. A crowd has gathered around the other 9 disciples. There's a great big hub-bub and the scribes and the disciples are having a big heated discussion. Jesus asks, "What are you all arguing about?"

Then a man comes up with a demon-possessed disabled son and says, "I brought my son to your disciples and they could not cast him out."

At the end, the disciples ask Jesus "PRIVATELY" Why couldn't we cast him out? Privately, mind you. Because they don't want to deal with the scribes' theology and their human pride can't deal with being told something else in public. I mean, "Jesus has already told them: "You perverts, you faithless people! How long will I have to put up with people like you? How long will I have to tolerate you!" So the disciples don't seem to mind Jesus losing his patience with them in public but they really want to know why they couldn't cast this spirit out.

After all, it's not as if these disciples don't know how to cast demons out. They have been casting out demons for a while now. But there's something about this spirit -- maybe the way the demon acted up and made such a show of things-- that flustered them and made them lose their boldness, even though they have authority.

Jesus tells them, "This kind doesn't come out except through prayer." Some manuscripts say, "Because of your unbelief. This kind doesn't come out except through fasting and prayer."

Now, that's understandable. Although Jesus' name is above all names, and all demons and all things must bow to that name. There's something about fasting and prayer that helps us get the boldness to go up against what our eyes see. Our faith just kinda falters when we see how big and complicated the mountain is. So we need to fast and pray to tell the flesh that it's spirit that rules.

But back to my original question: "What were the scribes arguing with the disciples about?"

This is just human reasoning on my part but I suspect these scribes were saying something like, "If you are healers as you say you are, you should be able to do it. Therefore you are false prophets. And your leader is a false prophet. I suspect there was a great deal of theology and Bible-verses flying over the heads of the people. And the poor father of the sick child was losing all faith. Nothing more stressing to one's faith than listening to religious theologians -- and that's what the scribes were-- telling people that they should not seek healing because these healers who are supposed followers of Jesus are just deluded.

People with a particular theological mindset or "agenda" often can be cold. Trust me: This is something I know from experience. I remember a typical day, my son in a lot of pain and crying and I just falling apart at his pain. A Christian friend walks by. We get to talking then in the middle of the discussion I say something like...I'll just ask God for a miracle. What does the lady say, "Well, you know the days of miracles are past." Now, honestly, even if she believes that...why is she saying that? What does she mean to give me by saying that? Isn't that just a case of someone "having to say her opinion" and totally ignoring a parent's pain? Charismatics and those who believe in healing are just as bad. A Catholic priest once said -- this while younger son was screaming in obvious pain-- "Accept this as your cross." (Uh, my cross? I can accept my cross. But I can't accept the cross of someone else's pain. But it was the easy thing for him to say...to quickly bounce to a platitude.) Or a charismatic who will say, "Well, you just don't have the right kind of belief...that's why your son isn't healed. Or you haven't forgiven everyone." And of course atheists also have their agendas. My atheist mother-in-law once said to me, "And if there's a god, why should he care about your little problems?" See.... that's the way it is with we humans. We love our agendas and our theologies more than we love people and more than we are willing to understand people's pain.

But what also is stressing about the entire situation is that the scribes probably affected the disciples' faith. The demonic spirit not only shook them by not being able to leave. But now the scribes have come up and said basically, "if your leader was really the one who was to come...elijah would have returned by now. AND you would've been able to do a miracle."

No wonder the disciples asked Jesus privately, "Why couldn't we cast the spirit out?" They needed to know why in this particular instance the spirit wouldn't leave. And why this particular spirit would not leave.

But the other thing that was going on was the personal family drama. The father of the boy was all too aware of the boy's illness. I suspect that parents of terminally or incurably ill young children especially are affected by this story. They know all too well what the word "impossible" means. They would be willing even to see the boy cured in anyway possible. Anyway possible, any little thing. The father of the boy had a long catalog of griefs but what do the theology-minded scribes care about: their own theological statements. Not the pain of the man. Luckily Jesus came with all his heart and hope and cut to the core of the issue: understanding the pain of a parent. If you've lived as long as I have and encountered some of the "religious" people who are hell-bent on you accepting their theological notions instead of opening their heart to the present need...of the sick child....well, you know what I mean.

Upshot: if you are trying to heal someone, do not allow other folks to argue with you with their theology. It's between you and God and God's words. Not what the doubting theologians say. The thing is to remember that although one thinks one is arguing against them, one is really in some ways being affected by their lack of faith. God is able to do more than we are able to ask or think and at the same time as a man thinks in his heart so is he. So it's an odd precarious balance. If we come at God with a theology and a system of beliefs instead of a personal trusting love, we are thinking in our hearts that our prayers get answered if we follow the rules. We leave out the relationship or we make Jesus' heart secondary to the theology of healing that we were taught. On the other hand, God is only pleased with faith. So we really must try to believe. This story -- and other of the healing stories-- show that balance often. The woman with the issue of blood was healed totally by trusting in the theology of "touching the hem of his garment." Malachi had said the Son of Righteousness would come with healing in his wings (another word for fringe of the prayer garment) and she believed Malachi but did not know Jesus. The man at the pool of Bethesda, however, was someone who simply wanted to be healed. He wasn't looking to Jesus. He was looking to a superstition (or demonic deception) to heal him but he wasn't thinking of Jesus. In his case, Jesus took the initiative and healed him. Same thing with the widow's only (dead) son. God's initiative. No faith as far as we know was involved, only the mercy and compassion of God. So it's a balance. We must have faith but if we get too caught up with being theologically right, we forget how loving and compassionate Jesus is. And, conversely, if we are totally caught up with how compassionate Jesus is, we might not do our part of believing, commanding, and challenging the illness.

Consider the father of the demon-possessed boy. We don't know how old his son was but let's say the boy was about 18. Jesus asked how long the boy was sick. The man said since he was a child. The man had to endure past all the old memories, past all the theologians who were more concerned with their spiritual rightness, past kind-hearted would-be healers that failed.

I think of the woman who touched the hem of Jesus' garment. She had to keep enduring even past her own self-loathing, past the rejection of her own God who in her own religion called her unclean. She had to endure being poor. She had forgotten what it was like to be well.

The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong. God's grace is perfected in weakness. The Gospel is preached to the poor and to the lowly. Someone who once knew what a glorious life was can always remember what life was like. So he can aim for that old life again. But the man with the demon-possessed boy could not remember his boy ever being well. He had to endure past that unseen, past that impossibility...to trust God. It's easy to endure and believe and run the race when you have some inkling of what the answered prayer might look like (because you have some experience of it) But to endure when you don't know what your healed boy would look like....well, that is endurance. -C

Monday, June 16, 2008

Catching Up

Well, it's been eight days in a row of absolutely no sleep. What an annoyance! Sometimes I manage to get an hour or even four hours. But this stretch!!! Zippo sleep! Not good. Especially when you have to get up in the morning to take care of a non-verbal child labelled autistic who seems to have been in pain for every day of his life...and who also sometimes doesn't sleep. Am in a great deal of pain at present, plus tired, and antzy.

Will be reviewing my ebuddy's book So Many ways to Sleep Badly. He also has fibromyalgia but he manages to get around. Gonna be interesting, reviewing his novel. Me a born-againer and he a transgendered person in the sex industry. But ever since he accepted my essay in the collection, Nobody Passes, I've had a real love for him. That sleeplessness bond. Plus the sex abuse bond.

In Wind Follower, I gave Satha my sleeplessness but I didn't follow through on it. Cause I didn't want it to take over the novel. Just waiting to see what Mattilda does with sleeplessness in his novel.

Church was fun yesterday. One of those fiestas we all love. Which reminds me:

What would have happened to me, Lord, if it weren't for your grace and your love?


I love you more than my life:


Made a really intense and good catch in my novel a couple of days ago. Okay, I am all too well aware that my stories and novels generally have folks in interracial relationships. And I am aware that I tend to have light skin men doing the conquerinr and dark-skinned women in the women in distress mode. But there I was writing Constant Tower when - 202 pages into the story, mind you-- it dawns on me that AAARGH the good guys are the light skinned Wheel Clan and the bad guys are the shifty conniving dark-skinned clan. I had gone so overboard in depicting the rational of the main characters -- the light-skinned tribe-- that I pretty much made them saints who were merely avenging themselves. What a turmoil that put me in! What to do? Do I go back and turn the entire thin on its head and make the good tribe dark-skinned? (But then the woman who suffers in the beginning of the story would be a light-skinned woman suffering at the hand of a dark-skinned man. Not exactly historical.) Or should I make the light-skinned tribe not so light skinned? Like the Doreni..a kind of mixed tribe. And forget white-skinned folks entirely? That's kinda what i did in Wind Follower. But then a brilliant suggestion came to this brain o mine. I was overjoyed when it came. So am leaving everything as it is....and really bringing in a subtext I had not seen clearly: that of large multinationals taking over the resources of third world places. Not that two wrongs make a right but at least both tribes are equally greedy and shiftless. Except that the larger tribe is so used to using up 70% of the resources of their planet they don't really realize they're selfish. So it works. Nice.

I really have to fast though. I have to get some wisdom or some breakthrough in our family's life. Twenty years of this kind of continual suffering and pain just has to stop. I'm not saying, "I am going to fast because it's the right thing to do." I'm fasting cause I simply have no desire to eat...being so sleepy and nauseous from this long stretch of utter sleeplessness. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Angry Ethnic Blogs

Uhm.... so much anger, so little time. I didn't find an "Angry Hispanic Man" or "Angry Hispanic Woman" blog. But they probably exist.
But these are three blogs I really like looking at:
http://www.angryasianman.com/angry.html
http://theangryblackwoman.wordpress.com/
http://angryindian.blogspot.com/

Incidentally, I like to think of Dark Parables as the Angry Christian Blog. A Christian angry at stupid Christians, at greedy pharmaceuticals, at racism. But generally, my anger is pretty low-key. And usually, I'm p*ssed at the devil. He's the one we should be angry at. We do not fight against flesh and blood but against spiritual wickedness in high places. Yeah, yeah, I know... it sounds very pious to say that racism, sexism, media prejudices, elitism and the folks who use them against other folks aare all really spiritual problems...but let me tell you a story. A TRUE STORY as usual.

I was once walking on the communion line in St Mark's Episcopal Church in a town a little down county. I walked by my friend Cecily -- a deacon in the church and a very sweet Welsh lady-- who was holding her visiting grandson in her arms. I had never met the kid. But the kid was beautiful. Simply goregous. He was about three or four and now I suspect he's probably about 27 years old. Anyway, there I was walking past the kid and I see Cecily. I smile at her and suddenly the kid shouts at me with the most hateful sneer and angry voice: "What are you doing here?" I wish I could totally explain the depth of this kid's hatred toward me. And note, the kid and his parents were just visiting. The weird thing was that the kid seemed to recognize me. If I believed in reincarnation I would think we must have known and hated each other in a past life! Another thing: the kid was not only angry to see me, but surprised to see me. He looked as if he thought he had destroyed me years ago. I totally felt that he wanted to get something in his little toddler hands and destroy me. Remember this was a little three year old I had never met before. But he recognized me, or maybe he recognized something in me. Or maybe he was overpowered with hatred of me. (Who knows? Maybe his parents had filled him up with a hatred of black people. But honestly, the kid's anger seemed to be directed against me. He didn't act that way with other black folks in the church...okay, there were only about four of us in the entire church.)

Okay, I've heard stories and there are stories in the Bible where a demon recognizes God's holy spirit in someone else. Christians have had witches or demonized folks walk over to them and curse them out or spit at them -- even if the Christian hasn't said anything or done anything particularly holy. The demon inside the person simply recognizes God's spirit in the Christian. But honestly, we were in a church, folks! The kid was sweet and calm until I came along. And Cecily was pretty holy so it wasn't as if I was the only Christian in the church. (::giggle:: Okay, I had to smile at that.) So why the heck did this kid do that?

I often wonder what I would do if the same thing happened again to me. Would I create a scene in the church and rebuke the spirit and command the spirit to leave? Or would I do what I did that time? Stand there looking ridiculous and stumped and shocked and hurt?

So are there demons who are racists? I mean: I don't know if this was a demonic racist spirit in the kid or if the kid was simply fueled with hatred by his parents or if the demon in the kid hated me for some other reason but let's consider this. We tend to believe that Demons put their passions into human minds. For instance, we figure that either a demon of lust is really lustful and needs sex therefore he uses the body of humans to feed that lust he has. OR he himself has no capacity of lust but he just is an expert at causing lust to be born in people. So if someone has an uncontrollable need to have sex with a dead body, to have sex with a little girl and kill her, to go on a rape-killing spree, we Christians tend to think that somewhere along the line the human perpetrator of these crimes was wounded in the soul and because of that wound in the soul -- depression, grief at family divorce, rejection issues, whatever-- an opportunistic demon entered into him and used the person's anger against a specific group or sex to create mayhem.

But what if the demon himself is overwhelmed with some of these sins? What if, for instance, there are demons which simply hate certain races? In Revelations, St John tells us that the dragon was so angry with the woman who had given birth to the boy destined to rule with a rod of iron that he made war against the woman. Upshot: John was prophesying that the devil would pursue Israel. And hasn't the Christian church --specifically the Catholic Church-- persecuted Jews for thousands of years? And if one thinks about it, Israel was persecuted thousands of years before Christianity. Hence the festival of Purim and celebrating Esther.

Well, we Christians accept that it is truly demonic to hate Israel because we believe the devil hates Israel. But do we really consider that all human prejudice is demonic in origin? Many Christians think they can go to heaven and still be prejudiced. I don't know about that. I've met so many prejudiced white Christians who really love God but who protect their prejudices from God. They hold on to it preventing him from changing it. What if they were to realize that it is possible that a demon who hates is living inside of them?

Anyways, the abovementioned bloggers aren't Christians so they see prejudice as a human or cultural situation. Which it is. They do their part in enlightening the world against racism. But as Christians, we have to see that there is also a demonic component to all this. We must learn how to --and where to-- direct our anger. In the spiritual, cultural, academic, artistic, and blog realms. Wherever we find ourselves...let us shed a little light and a little truth.

-C

Monday, June 09, 2008

wealth versus fame

Well, it's been almost nine months since Wind Follower was published and know how much I've made so far on this book? $500. That's the advance I got. It's not Juno's fault. Writers don't make that much really. So now that Juno has decided to go totally commercial urban fantasy I will have to sell my wares elsewhere. The question comes up now: Do I go with a small really odd press which sells its books on the Barnes and Noble website but not on the B&N shelves? And which might give greater revenue? Or do I aim for a larger company which will get me in the bookstores but which, like Juno, might not help me with the millions?

What do I want? Tons of readers? Tons of money? Tons of Critical fame? Uhmmmm... gotta think. Am currently working on two WIP's...and would like to get them both done and contracted to publishers by year's end. Will see where God leads me.

-C

unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity... and Why It Matters


unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity... and Why It Matters (Hardcover)
256 Pages
Baker
Published in 2007
ISBN: 0801013003
ISBN-13: 9780801013003

by David Kinnaman (Author), Gabe Lyons (Author)

Here's the Blurb:
In his Epistle, the Apostle Peter instructed us to give others good reason for the hope we have in Christ, but to do so with "gentleness and respect." Unfortunately, in the eyes of many non-Christians today, the church has done just the opposite. In Unchristian, David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, has complied startling research among the unchurched and learned that Christians are too often known for the issues they stand against, rather than the hope which they stand for. According to the research, believers are seen as too judgmental, too political, and often hypocritical. If you are a Pastor, lay person or youth leader you will not want to go without the details of this critical study. Uncover for yourself the latest research on the unchurched in Kinnaman's must-read book.


And here's another:
Christians are supposed to represent Christ to the world. But recent groundbreaking research from the Barna Group reveals that 16-29 year olds are perceiving Christians not as representatives of Christ but as “hypocritical,” “insensitive,” “judgemental” and … unChristian.
Find out why these negative perceptions exist, learn how to reverse them, and discover practical examples of how Christians can positively contribute to culture.
Includes insights from respected Christian leaders, including:
Chuck Colson
Louie Giglio
Brian McLaren
Andy Stanley
Rick Warren
Jim Wallis
and others.


From Publishers Weekly Starred Review.
....It would be possible to get lost in the numbers, but the authors use numerous illustrations from their research and life experiences and include insights at the end of every chapter ... Every Christian should read this, and it will likely influence churches for years to come.
(Oct.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publisher's Weekly, starred review
"This is a wonderful, thoughtful book that conveys difficult truths in a spirit of humility. Every Christian should read this, and it will likely influence the church for years to come."--
Publisher's Weekly
As some of you know, I've had my share of arguments with fellow Christians. Here's my latest rant.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Island of Eternal Love




The Island of Eternal Love
Daina Chaviano
Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA)
Jun. 2008. c.336p.
tr. from Spanish by Andrea Labinger.
ISBN 978-1-59448-992-1. $25.95. F

This is the Blurb over at the Penguin Site:

Cecilia is alone in a city that haunts her. Life in Miami evokes memories of Cuba: a scent in the breeze like the sea at the Malecón; the beat of a clave recalls island evenings when couples danced to forgotten rhythms. Far from her family, her history, and her home, Cecilia seeks refuge in a bar in Little Havana, where a mysterious old woman’s fascinating tale keeps her returning night after night.
It is a story of three families from opposite corners of the world—from Africa, Spain, and China—that spans more than a century. Within it, a Chinese widow seeks protection for her daughter in her family’s idols; an African slave brings the rhythms of her birth to an enchanted island; and a curse dances before the female descendants of a charmed Spanish matriarch, forming the mythic origins of one family’s indestructible bond. The connection strengthens with each generation into a legendary, unbreakable love. Under the story’s heady sway, Cecilia begins to discover the source of the elusive shadows that plague her and, along with it, a link to the past she cannot shake.

From Daína Chaviano, a distinctive literary voice available to English-speaking readers for the first time, comes this multifaceted portrait of the Cuba of this century. As haunting as it is tantalizing, The Island of Eternal Love is an ambitious, provocative, and magical novel that uncovers the secrets of a woman, a family, and an island—all in one spellbinding tale.



The novel was awarded the Gold Medal in Best Book in Spanish Language during the Florida Book Awards 2007. The Island of Eternal Love has been translated into 21 languages and is the most translated Cuban novel of all time.

Murder, Mayhem, And a Fine Man by Claudia Mair Burney


Murder, Mayhem, And a Fine Man: An Amanda Bell Brown Mystery
by Claudia Mair Burney

2006 by Navpress Publishing Group
Paperback
ISBN 1576839788
ISBN 9781576839782)

Here are a couple of blurbs:

For Amanda Bell Brown, turning 40 isn't hard---it's murder! All she wants is to enjoy her favorite TV crime show. But instead, she ends up with her own mystery to investigate, including two corpses, a hunk of a detective, and a gorgeous red dress. A madman's on the loose . . . can Amanda save the day and snag a good man?


For Amanda Bell Brown, turning forty is murder! How's a woman supposed to grapple with her faith when she finds herself in the middle of mysteries-and...more


Here's an excerpt

Here's a review from Christian Book Previews.com
With a twisting plot and compelling characters, Burney’s debut novel is a sassy, spine-chilling, and insightful read from start to finish. Because of the mature issues dealt with, the novel deserves a PG-13 rating. If you’re looking for a quirky, redemptive novel, pick up Murder, Mayhem, and a Fine Man. – Katie Hart



Claudia Mair Burney is a freelance writer and the author of the popular blog Ragamuffin Diva. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with her husband and children. Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man, is her first novel.

Visit Claudia Mair's website at claudiamairburney.blogspot.com/

Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee



Christy Award Nominees 2008
Here is the amazon url
Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee, paperback, 325 pages.
NavPress Publishing Group

Here is the blurb:

Clayton's life is stuck in the mud. His wife has been cheating on him for years, his literary career is uninspired, and his job as an editor is mediocre at best. But when he walks into a restaurant and finds a mysterious dark-haired stranger waiting for him, his life dramatically changes. The stranger claims to be Lucian, one of Lucifer's fellow fallen angels, come to tell Clay his story of the angels' dramatic fall from Heaven, Adam and Eve's Eden, and Christ's triumph on the cross - from a demon's perspective. This seems just the thing to get Clay's career jumpstarted, but it could mean his ultimate success or failure as Lucian's story seems to become more and more like his own
.

"You're late. Do you know how long I have waited for you here? An eternity, you might say."
And so begins the conversation of Lucian, the demon, with the human Clay.
The same, however, could be said from me to you: do you know how long I have waited for you here? This book is months and years in the making, as all books are. But the story within it is an eternity in the unfolding.
Join me, for a tale about the power of evil, obsession, ultimate grace--and of storytelling itself.


BTW, Tosca is up for the Clive Staples Nomination. If Wind Follower doesn't get it -- I don't think it will, by the way-- I'd like Tosca to get it. She's half-Asian. But some other good books are up there too. Legend of The Firefish. Auralia's Colors.

Here is a review

Here is the author's blog
Here's a pdf excerpt of the first chapter and some reviews. Right-click here if you want to download. Click if you want to read it.

Here's an interview

Here's the url for an interview at Godtube

And here is the interview. If this doesn't work here, you can go to Godtube directly and check it out.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Christians on the web

I don't know about other folks but my relationship with Christians on the web has been a weird mix. I either become really good friends with them or I become the object of their gossip. Truth to tell, it's only the really odd Christians who like me -- the non-cookie-cutter types. I am always finding out -- often before I have said anything too snippy or outrageous-- that some Christians were gossiping about me.

So, then, what exactly is my problem? Why do so many "normal" Christians -- especially normal white Christians-- consider me their enemies?

Okay, the group that I first had the problems with was a group that immediately set out to dislike me because I said that many of my gay female friends were raped as children...by their brothers or uncles or by people in the church. Well, I got a big slap-down saying I was being pro-gay. Whatever. Then the next thing I said was that I didn't like the Iraqi war and that Bush was being creepy to start the war. Well, that got me another slap-down. Then I was waay frank about my critiques of their stories. Not good because they could not take criticism and were so in a rush to be published that they wanted to believe their badly-written stories were ready for primetime -- they were aiming to be published as quickly as possible. They said I was a harsh critiquer. Then one woman was talking about good hard-working people who don't take welfare. She pretty much assumed that black people were on welfare...and that they were welfare queens who didn't like hard work like the "typical American." I -- because I could not keep my mouth shut-- said that I didn't like the racist euphemism "hard-working" because it implied "white." I also didn't like the assumption that blacks were the only ones on welfare because poor whites are the largest group on welfare and there is also corporate welfare...like some of the corporations certain politicians were involved with. I further declared that my son was sick and I was sick and we were never on welfare even though we both coule have taken it. And what does the group do? They start sending mean notes about me to each other offlist. How do I know this? One of them accidentally sent her comment about "Carole's bad behavior" to the list.

That's what I especially dislike about Christians on the internet...the herd mind. (Heck, maybe Christians in real life are as bad.) When my book Wind Follower was being toured by one group, the head of that group wrote me an email saying, "Many of our readers have had problems with this book because of the sex and the violence and the difficulty of the writing because they feel you're such a bad writer." First, I told him he should not have told me that folks were gossiping about me. Sh*t, who wants to hear about that? I would've liked to be in total ignorant bliss. I didn't say, "What the heck are you guys talking about? You're either non-published or self-published and you are judging a book edited by a super professional at a traditional publishing house?" But although I didn't say that I couldn't help but to become snippy. It's hard not to have snippy dynamics when one hears people are talking behind one's back.

So now this morning I realized that yet another of these Christian groups to which I belong has removed me from its list. (I think I got removed from this last list because a woman was going on about how she wasn't going to get married. I simply said to her --and the list-- that it was her choice but she should remember that A) Paul said in only one letter that people should not get married. In another letter he said that women under sixty should get married. And in Proverbs and Genesis, we are told to marry. Then I said B) that if she decided not to marry, she should take care of her health. Sickly non-married older relatives end up being a burden to nieces and nephews and grand-nieces who have their own parents to take care of and don't really want to go figuring out medical and financial issues for sick aunts. YEAH, WELL!!! IT'S THE TRUTH. I was in major financial mess last winter with medical bills and my aunt ups and dies and all the nieces had to pool money to bury her. So I was being honest. But Christians on the web do not really appreciate honesty. It's all about sweetness and light.

Upshot: I now have a reputation among some web Christians as being bitchy and short-tempered and rude. They don't seem to realize that I am only bitchy and short-tempered and rude to Christians on the web. And that they do deserve it.

But the funny counterpart to all this is that I keep meeting atheists, especially feminist atheists -- especially WHITE feminist atheists-- with whom I get along quite well. I keep becoming friends with non-Christian gay guys on the web who totally appreciate my honesty. Heck, when I told one internet gay writer buddy that I -- a born-againer wanted to review his book about his rather odd cruising sex life as a male prostitute, he said, "ooh, that'll be a great hook in the review." I told him not to fear and that I wouldn't savage him. He says he's cool; he knows I won't be cruel. Now what is that about? Also, when I get into a heated discussion with one of these folks, we work things through. I have told white feninists that they do NOT suffer as much as black minorities. (Quite the to-do because they always want to excuse white privilege.) and then we get into a deep heated discussion...and then we're closer than before. Try that with a Christian on the internet sometime. It's really strange but Christians are probably the most unforgiving types...and they don't tell you why they have cut you off. Very self-righteous types who think they know all about you.

Not only are many Christians on the internet part of a great gossipy herd-mind, but they are so into this weird idea of "sweetness" that they don't quite know what to do with honesty. So -- in spite of myself, or maybe because of myself-- I am now stuck in a bind of having to forgive these jerks. So annoying. Here I am trying to work on all my spiritual issues and this new one just creeps in on me. It's been said that God forgives people and keeps his relationship with them. But humans forgive and often sever relationships. Well, uh...I'm human. I now am stuck with folks who have "forgiven" me (or maybe not) yet have severed their relationships with me. Because they all gossip together about me without trying to understand where I come from. Basically, they reinforce each other's prejudices about how a good Christian ought to behave and I simply have been weighed in the balance and been found wanting.

I'll forgive these folks who all think I'm wrong and evil because I don't share the same agenda or racist/political notions that they do. But I will not partner with them. Nor will I have a relationship with them. No anger, mind you. But how can two walk together unless they be agreed? -C

Friday, June 06, 2008

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Documentary: The Slanted Screen


The Slanted Screen
USA | 2006 | 60 minutes | Documentary | A film written, directed and produced by Jeff Adachi

Just finished watching this flick. A great must-see film.

From silent film star Sessue Hayakawa to Harold & Kumar Go to Whitecastle, The Slanted Screen explores the portrayals of Asian men in American cinema, chronicling the experiences of actors who have had to struggle against ethnic stereotyping and limiting roles. The film presents a critical examination of Hollywood's image-making machine, through a fascinating parade of 50 film clips spanning a century.

The Slanted Screen includes interviews with actors Mako, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, James Shigeta, Dustin Nguyen, Phillip Rhee, Will Yun Lee, Tzi Ma, Jason Scott Lee, comedian Bobby Lee, producer Terence Chang, casting director Heidi Levitt, writer Frank Chin, and directors Gene Cajayon and Eric Byler.


"Highest recommendation … The Slanted Screen hits all its marks." —SF Chronicle

"This is such a compelling social reality." —Asian Week

"Well-researched study of how Asian American men have been stereotyped ..." —The Bay Guardian

"The Slanted Screen brings into focus the most dangerous aspect of prejudice." —The Evening Class Review

God of the Oppressed


By: James H. Cone
Orbis Books / 1997 / Paperback
ISBN: 1570751587
ISBN-13: 9781570751585

God of the Oppressed remains a landmark in the development of Black Theology - the first effort to present a systematic theology drawing fully on the resources of African-American religion and culture. Responding to the criticism that his previous books drew too heavily on Euro-American definitions of theology, James Cone went back to his experience of the black church in Bearden, Arkansas, the tradition of the Spirituals and black folklore, and the black history of struggle and survival, to construct a new approach to the gospel.

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