Presidential election night is such a nervous, glorious mishmash of emotions. I can think of no other event when something so big is decided so quickly. Sure, the election drags on forever, but despite the polls you never know for sure who’s going to win. Then everybody votes, we tally ’em up while some talking heads blather on, and it’s decided (usually: thank goodness for not repeating 2000). Done. The next four years are in place. History is written.
I have a hard time getting anything done on election day (that’s why I turned to a distraction). Even today I’ll need to process for a while (and I’m doing that here… get ready for a long post). Continue reading 2012 Election Reflection →
I’ve been reading a lot lately. I’m currently on book number 18 of 2012. With all that reading there are some things I like and some things I can’t stand.
One thing I’ve always wished I was better at was taking lessons from what I read and applying that to what I write. Being a writer you’d think that would be obvious, but it never is. I’m the kind of reader that wants to know what’s going to happen next, so I usually fly through the text and don’t slow down enough to learn some lessons as a writer.
So I’m going to start posting these notes to myself, these lessons from a reader so maybe I can start saving some of this insight.
Keep Your Opinions Out Of It
When you’re writing fiction, I don’t care about your politics. In Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer the character’s mother (Who also happens to be a writer—oh my gosh, stop making your characters writers, it comes across as lazy! Research another career.) goes off on Fox News and the president encamped at a Texas ranch. Gee, which president could that be?
Obviously the author is not a fan of George W. Bush. But who cares? It doesn’t help the story. You just turned your character into a stereotype and needlessly annoyed half your audience. And for what? Nothing.
There are times when political opinions are necessary in fiction, but make them necessary. They should make the character three dimensional, adding intrigue and depth, not cardboard flatness.
Yesterday President George W. Bush laid a wreath at the tomb of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on what would have been his 75th birthday while protesters chanted in the distance.
Many protesters accused Bush of staging a photo opportunity, citing King’s non-violent stance. The image of a president leading a divided country into a questionable war standing at the grave of a man who gave his life for peace seems a bit disjointed.
In a twist of history, city buses were used to block any view between the protesters and the president.
Words fail me. What are you supposed to say after something like today? I’m finding some comfort in the those who have had an appropriate reaction to this tragedy:
“In times like this we realize how weak and inadequate we are, and our greatest need is to turn in repentance and faith to the God of all mercy and the Father of all comfort. If ever there was a time for us to turn to God and to pray as a nation, it is now, that this evil will spread no further.” – Billy Graham
You’ve all seen the video and heard the reports, so there’s not a lot I can say. I will comment on two things, though:
I’m scared. Not scared of the actual attacks or afraid of my safety. I’m scared of the possible retaliation. A lot of people are very angry right now and completely unfounded accusations are being made. This country already has problems with racism, and I hate to see what happens after something like this. I’ve heard enough early reaction from people condemning other groups and calling for us to nuke certain nations. I’m just afraid of visions of violence in our own country, Americans striking out against Americans simply because of the color of their skin, their religious belief, or whatever other feature may match that of potential suspects.
I’m also scared not only of personal retaliation, but of the retaliation this country as a whole will make. It’s almost without a doubt that there will be a military response. President George W. Bush seems to have no qualms with using military force against terrorists, and “those who harbor terrorists.” Those are the words that start wars. I certainly understand that action is needed, that America must defend herself. But in our bloodthirst, we cannot sacrifice innocent lives in pursuit of justice. Any justice that claims innocent civilians is no justice at all. I pray that this country will move forward with wisdom like we’ve never had before.
The other thing I’m finding curious right now is the line of cars outside my window. They’re all lining up to fill up on gas. Apparently there’s a scare that gas prices will spike, that the supply will dwindle, who knows. They’re all rumors, and the prices haven’t gone up at all. Watching the panic take place around me brings it one step closer to home. While watching the news you see one image of Americans rushing to help one another. Outside my window I see another image as brakes squeal and two cars nearly slam into one another. The drivers begin swearing at each other, all in an attempt to top off their gas tanks. Perhaps not all of us feel that American resolve we speak so highly of.
Is your God big enough to face difficult questions? He doesn’t even after to answer them, but does your God even face them? I question some Christians whose God doesn’t seem to be up to the challenge of hard, life shattering questions. That book says something negative about Christians? Well, I better stay away. These song lyrics aren’t Christian, I better switch radio stations. What kind of a faith do you have if it’s always tucking its tail and running? It’s often the same kind of faith that’s so sure of itself it’s got its head up its ass. Am I being too harsh? I don’t think so. The Bible warns against pride, and Christians proudly nod their heads in agreement. We’re so sure of our particular brand of Christianity we don’t even realize there are other people out there who believe in the same God, the same crucified and risen Son, and the same convicting Holy Spirit—but in every other matter believe something contrary to what we believe.
It boggles my mind how Christians rejoice over the election of George W. Bush, claiming that finally a man of God holds the office of President of the United States. They fail to remember that the last man to hold the position also claimed to be a man of God—admittedly a stumbling man of God, but Bill Clinton professed to be a Christian. He may have had different opinions about various issues, but he counted himself among the Christians. Perhaps that’s just a political move. Perhaps the same is true of Al Gore. But perhaps the same is true of Bush. Who are we to judge? I’m amazed at the way Christians interpret the faith of the man in office based on his political party or his decisions on abortion. I’m also amazed at the way Christians interpret the faith of a man based on his sins. We are all sinners, but it seems to disqualify some of us from Christ’s forgiveness.
There are Christians who are continually claiming that America is a Christian nation, and long to return to the days of our forefathers when blah, blah, blah. Spare me your patriotism. Today the United States of America is the sole superpower, and the absolute worst example for the rest of the world in just about every area imaginable. We’re materialistic, greedy, self-centered and rude. And perhaps you’d like to tell me that our nation has fallen and the true remaining Christians are not any of those things that America is hated for around the world. If that were really true then Christians would actually stand out from the rest of society. If Christians actually said ‘no’ to materialism and chose to help out their brothers and sisters around the world, the results would be amazing. Churches would no longer need parking lots as Christians discovered the economics of car pooling and public transportation, did away with their second and third vehicles, and donated the profits to the less fortunate around the world who’ve never owned more than one t-shirt or known a single person who was obese.
We are a country of excess, greed and fat. Do not tell me we are a Christian nation. Jesus fasted—and that doesn’t mean he ate fast food.
It is the sin of pride that Christians in America love so much, and by that one downfall hopes of brotherly love and unity throughout the world are shattered. I seem to remember someone else who had a problem with pride, and he was quite an angel.
Take another drag from your cigarette, spew your venomous hate. Your loaded guns empty into the bright shining stars, silencing them. Precious life snuffed out with your single action. Lives tossed into chaos. You take the lives of seven, then raise the gun to your own head. Mixed emotions, spinning thoughts. You’ve come this far. Hatred. Rage. Clenched fists. People screaming. People bleeding. People dying. People watching. Fear. What will you do next? Squeeze the trigger and end their horror. You wait. Momentarily. Then you overcome the brink of madness. Now you see the demons that fueled your spree.
Tears fall to the blood stained carpet. A church, shattered by gunshots. What have we become? I used to watch this on TV, and laugh. Now I watch it on the 6 o’clock news, and stop. When will the madness end?
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love. Then they’ll shoot us. Why doesn’t the love pierce the cold and bitter hearts? A question we can hardly throw in the face of a God who weeps over his slain lambs. Our only response is to grimly swallow and reply, if this is what it takes.
As the question of gun control came up at a news conference, [Texas Gov. George W.] Bush said, “I believe we ought to have laws like instant background checks to prevent people from buying guns who shouldn’t have guns. I don’t know the law, the governmental law, that will put love in people’s hearts,” he said. (CNN, emphasis mine)
At least someone has realized you can’t legislate morality. It’s come to this, we can’t save ourselves.
God help us.