Monday, July 06, 2009

Writing From the Edge Has Moved

I have moved my blog to Wordpress. Please visit Writing from the Edge 2 for current blog posts:

Of course, you can always stay here and explore my older posts, too, which began back in 2006 and continue through May of 2009.


Monday, June 29, 2009

It Worked!

Well, my transfer of my Feedblitz subscribers to the blog at Wordpress was successful so I am now officially blogging over at Wordpress.

I don't think I'll be writing any more here, so please visit me at the above address and change your bookmarks to the new place. I'm working on getting the subscribe box for Feedblitz put in over at the WP blog. Thanks for following the blog!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hope and Change

Well, tonight I finally found the answer I was looking for regarding how to change blogging platforms without losing my feedblitz email subscribers. At least I think I have.

So the CHANGE is coming soon. Probably tomorrow. And I HOPE that, as the instructions say, those of you who get this blog through your email via Feedblitz will continue to get it uninterrupted, so that you will not even notice I've switched platforms.

This assumes that I actually understand all the stuff I've been reading but we shall see. I am going to wait to give this post a chance to get off from Blogger tonight. Then tomorrow I will make the necessary administrative changes and do a post from Wordpress to see if it's actually working, which Feedblitz subscribers should receive on Monday. If you don't, let me know through my email or you can go over to and leave me a comment, since the comments there are activated.

Thanks and let's HOPE this works!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dinking Around With Wordpress

Today I spent the afternoon dinking around over at Wordpress, trying out various themes, seeing if I could upload my header photo. Wordpress is cool in that it has so many options for themes. Maybe too many, because I don't want to spend months on this. And there is much for me to figure out and do.

But anyway, I've got the beginnings. If you are interested in seeing my very much under construction new blog and website you can go to and have a look. I have uploaded the header photo, played with the color of the text, made a start on the About page. I've also been over to Feedblitz to see about transferring the old blog's subscribers to the new one. I think I'll have to open a new account for the new blog and then import the existing subscribers. Or do I export them from the old account? Still need to do more reading.

Also, I'm almost caught up on my reader letters now and good thing since responses on The Enclave are starting to come in. They continue to be good. More than good, actually, and from the things people are seeing in the story and getting out of it I know that God really was at work in it. I might share some of those tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

His Plan, Not Mine. Again.

Well, I missed posting yesterday because... well, I'm not sure. Just wasn't moved with anything to say. Or maybe I used up all my words writing emails to various people. I was tired after the weekend and even though it seems that I shouldn't be, I find a pattern in Mondays where I struggle to do the things "I should do."

Actually I have so many things I "should" do, I could not possibly get them all done. I think I'd hoped for a few more weeks to clean my house before the urgency of The Enclave's release hit me. Now it seems almost to have passed me by. And I haven't done the video trailer, haven't created the author page at Amazon, haven't redesigned my website and blog, though I am pretty sure I'm going to be moving the blog to Wordpress and moving/redoing my website there. There are some other technical details I have to resolve, too, but I'm closer to doing that now as well. Soon I will have only to execute. I'm thinking perhaps next week.

Then there are doctor's appointments -- mine and my mothers. And various errands and reader mail which I still haven't caught up on, though I'm getting closer on that as well.

Then today in mid morning I caught myself doing the weird, tense, things-are-bad-and-wrong thing and sat down to figure out what exactly I was feeling. Turns out it was anxiety and condemnation. Again. Because, again, I had somehow started focusing on all the things I thought I had to do, plus the things I wanted to do, a list, as I said, far too long to ever complete. Knowing it unconsciously, I became tense and anxious, condemning myself because I wasn't working enough. Getting enough done.

Weird how subtly it sneaks in and the next thing you know you're in this weird place. I needed to recall that it's God's plan that matters, not mine, that there's always time to do the will of God, and that if I'm confused about what I shoudl be doing, since I have so many options, perhaps I should stop and ask Him what He wants me to do.

Peace returned. And then tonight in the basics class the pastor-in-training reminded us... the Christian life is about falling on our faces and getting up again, over and over and over. But it doesn't matter how many times we fail, only that we get up and keep on going. He talked, too, of how when faced with a problem or overwhelming circumstances we so easily revert to human viewpoint and start focusing on how we're going to solve the thing, rather than recalling that the problems aren't ours, but God's. So that was a nice affirmation of earlier conclusions.

And look! Now I even have a blog post. Not a long one, but a post, nevertheless.



Sunday, June 21, 2009

Good and Evil

Here's the continuation I promised on Friday of the thoughts prompted by my reading of Dean Koontz's One Door Away From Heaven, which hinge on the nature of good and evil. This question, this examination, this setting together for contrast of good and evil is something Koontz does often.

Unfortunately, the more I've come to understand about God's word, the more I see Koontz doesn't know what he's talking about. Thus it's no surprise that he's a best-selling author with 40 some books to his credit and a vast following of fans. And if he doesn't understand the difference between good and evil, he's certainly not alone. It is not in Satan's interest for people to understand and he works hard through his army of fallen angel-minions to see that they don't. One of his methods is to make people think the whole dichotomy doesn't exist -- there really isn't "evil" per se. It's just a perception. There really aren't demons and a devil, that's comic book stuff. (It's interesting to note that he never really goes for the argument that there isn't good, though perhaps with the rise of postmodernism he's moving in that direction -- but that's another subject).

One of the things I don't think people realize about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden was that the good was not divine good. This was not the difference between Satan's evil and God's goodness. Adam and the woman already knew about God's goodness. What they didn't know about was Satan's evil and his form of goodness.

Another thing I think many don't realize is that Satan and his followers really don't, as Koontz in his One Door Away from Heaven described, "seek only to serve entropy. They love chaos, destruction, death." Satan isn't trying to do away with God, he's trying to take God's place. He wants the power, he wants the worship, he wants to do good.
"I will ascend to heaven. I will raise my throne above the stars of God (other angels), I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." (Is 14:13,14)
The Most High is not into destruction and death and entropy. The most High is into creation and order and stability.

Theologian Lewis Sperry Chafer remarked in his Major Bible Themes,

"Satan is not aiming to promote sin in the world. He did not purpose to be a fiend, but rather to be "like the most High"; he is not aiming to destroy so much as he is to construct and to realize his own ambition for authority over this world-system with its culture, morality, and religion (2 Co 11:13-15). The impression that Satan is the direct cause of sin is not true because human sin is said to come directly from the fallen human heart (Gen 6:5; Mk 7:18-23; James 1:13-16)
It's this good on the part of people that Satan most wants to promote -- good performed by people, or human good. That's the knowledge that the woman gained: the idea of doing her own thing for good. Even Satan's invitation to her was to do a good thing: "Eat that fruit and it will make you wise. You will be as smart as God, and that would surely be a good thing. You could converse with Him better, know better what He wants from you, understand Him better. Be His friend better."

When she brought the fruit to the man, there's cause to think she might well have believed she was helping him out, for Paul tells Timothy she was "quite deceived." And if she'd realized she was naked, why didn't she hide from the man and cover herself with leaves before approaching him? Why did she bring him the fruit? Why only after he had eaten did they realize they were naked and go looking for leaves to cover themselves?

Human good, creature credit is what powers most religions. It's what powered the unbelieving Pharisees in Jesus' day and prevented them from seeing the truth of who He was. It is way worse than sin. Sin was dealt with on the cross. Human good blinds. Human good feels good to those who perform it. It feels right and keeps people from the truth, from freedom, from really knowing God.

Just like Cain bringing all that produce, the work of his hands, they think their good works will please God. Cain probably expected God to tell him he'd gone above and beyond, bringing an better offering than Abel's. He totally didn't get the point of the slain lamb as a picture of the offering God himself would eventually make to pay the penalty for man's sin. He didn't understand that he was depraved and that nothing he would ever do could come close to the perfect righteousness of God. He thought he could by his own actions please God.

Believers do this as well. Paul warns the Galatians about it: having come to Christ by faith, will you then be perfected by the flesh? Your own efforts? Your own good works? He warns the Corinthians of the ministers whom Satan sends out among the brethren to teach others how to be righteous. They look good. They look spiritual. They seem right. And they are not.

All of which is why the theme in Koontz's book so annoyed me. Here it is as he stated it:

"None of us can save himself; we are the instruments of one another's salvation, and only by the hope that we give to others do we lift ourselves out of the darkness into light."
He did mention God in the book. In fact, it was by the savior-angel character's bonding with a dog that the character could perceive God. If this character touched a dog while it was sleeping, he would experience the peace and joy of knowing God as the Playful Presence perceived by dogs all the time. Moreover he could teach people to do the same and by this "save the world," because in perceiving the Playful Presence they would experience joy and peace and would know they were unconditionally loved.

Jesus was mentioned in only one conversation and that mockingly. When one of the heroines is trying to get a PI to help her, she is quite pushy and he remarks at one point,
"You ought to sell Jesus door-to-door. The whole world would be saved by Tuesday."
Later in that same conversation, she says, again echoing the book's theme,
"Sometimes a person's life can change for the better in one moment of grace, like a miracle almost. Someone so special can come along, all unexpected, and pivot you in a new direction, change you forever. You ever had that experience, Mr. Farrel?"

He grimaced. "You ARE peddling Jesus door-to-door."
So weird, so close to truth. Yes, your life does change for the better in one moment of grace, and it is a miracle when you believe in Christ and are made new, given eternal life right then and there. He, Jesus Christ, is the one so special who comes along and can pivot you in a new direction, change you forever... It seems amazing the words uttered by this character can be so close to the truth and yet, be derailed by focusing on the wrong object.

But this is what Satan's cosmic system and deception is all about. A little bit of truth, maybe even a LOT of truth, and a little bit of lie, and it's all distorted.

So that's why this wonderfully written book annoyed me. Because the author used truth to cloak a dreadful lie, because he even used it to slight the Lord. Instead of seeking God through his Word, through believing in Christ we are advised to find a sleeping dog. This sounds absurd as I set it down, but because Koontz is so good at what he does, it is not nearly so laughable in the story. And truth distorted by one little lie, the whole cloaked in a wonderfully appealing cloak of "rightness", has always been Satan's best work for deceiving people.
"And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world..." ~ Rev 12:9


Friday, June 19, 2009

One Door Away From Heaven

I said Wednesday I would blog on my thoughts about One Door Away From Heaven by Dean Koontz, one of the two books he graciously autographed to me. Because he did autograph it, I felt that I should only have good things to say about it. And mostly I do. But there was an element -- the theme -- that greatly annoyed me. In fact I was all ready to write about that and then went to Amazon to check out what other reviewers had to say and...

That was most beneficial, both in instructing me not to take those reviews at all seriously (some people do not seem to actually know how to read, given the things they see or don't see in a book) and in getting me to take another look at my reaction, which overall was far more positive than that of the people grousing at Amazon. (The teacher of English was especially out to lunch, giving the book one star, railing at it for its horrible writing and its terrible use of metaphor. And even transcribing one of his horrible sentences, which was -- Heaven forbid! -- 84 words long! Horrors! How can this be?! She would have given his work an F were he in her class.)

What's funny about this is that he doesn't have a lot of respect for English teachers and their effects on those with a talent for creative writing, and he devotes a fair amount of discussion to this in his How to Write Best-selling Fiction. In his opinion they don't have the first idea what writing fiction is about and generally will squelch and derail any creative impulses on the part of their students should they happen to manifest.

It's also funny because I seem to recall from one of William Faulkner's novels a sentence that went on unobstructed for over a page, but none of my English teachers were calling him a horrible writer for doing this. So not only does Koontz not have the corner on long sentences, his being maligned for it is inconsistent with what English teachers accept from someone else, now dead and held as a Great Writer.

Finally, it's funny because in HTWBSF, Koontz also discusses his penchant for experimenting with form and technique to get the best effect for what he is trying to convey in a book. That's why he chose to use the present tense for one of his points of view in this story (which appalled the teacher) (though it's not the first book by any means where he's done it) and why he chose to create a sentence 84 words long. I believe he was in that sentence trying to convey a smoothness of chaotic motion. The words and their form mimic the image he is communicating and I think he did a good job.

So, having read some of the reviews, instead of complaining about the theme, I end up defending him! LOL.

Despite my complaint, I did not find this book boring at all, nor did I find the writing tiresome, or the metaphors overdone. I enjoyed most of them. For example (relating to a brewing storm):
As dark as iron in places, the sky at last grew heavy enough to press an anxious breath from the still afternoon. The pleasantly warm day began to cool. All around Micky, trees shivered and whispered to the wind.

Birds like black arrows, singly and in volleys, returned to their quivers in the pine branches, with flap and flutter, vanishing among the layered boughs: a reliable prediction that the storm would soon break.
Here's another one:

The first bolt of lightning, thrown open with a crash, had not unlocked the rain. The longer part of a minute passed before another bolt, brighter than the first, slammed out of the hasp of the heavens and opened a door in the storm.

Scattered drops of rain, as fat as grapes, snapped into the oiled lane that served the many campsites, striking with such force that sprays of smaller droplets bounced a foot high from each point of impact.
I also liked the characters, and unlike some (was it that teacher again?) did not find them unbelievable at all (especially since I am now reading Hollywood Interrupted, which examines the behind-the-scenes lives and culture of the elites of the entertainment industry; some of those people are VERY much like Koontz's villains here). I'm always amazed at how he creates likable, believable, flawed but very quirky -- and thus interesting -- characters. They can have somewhat lengthy conversations that remain amusing and interesting and just pull you easily through them.

His openings are always immediately gripping. Here's One Door's:

The world is full of broken people. Splints, casts, miracle drugs, and time can't mend fractured hearts, wounded minds, torn spirits.

Currently, sunshine was Micky Bellsong's medication of choice, and southern California in late August was an apothecary with a deep supply of this prescription.
Another metaphor there, which I also enjoyed. That first line is also part of the book's theme, which concerns what actually will heal those broken people. Of course, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I know the answer. I know the man, the One True Healer. It's only through believing in Him that anyone can be "healed."

This was not Koontz's answer however, which is hardly surprising. And because it is not, as you have probably guessed, that is partly what annoyed me. The other part of what annoyed me is that he presented his faulty solution so darned well. It seems so good, so nice, so "true" from the human perspective. The words, the story, the characters all work together to make you feel so good about it, when it is a lie. In fact, it is the worst kind of lie and the worst kind of evil. For how great is your darkness when you believe you are in the light?

I find it ironic that the Publisher's Weekly review of this book, which was on the whole favorable, concluded with this statement:
"For all that, the novel is surprisingly focused on its inspirational message "we are the instruments of one another's salvation and only by the hope that we give to others do we lift ourselves out of the darkness into light" and conveys it with such conviction that only the most critical will demur."
So that makes me one of the minority "most critical," but yes, I do indeed demur ("to object mildly to something") (what is it about PW that I keep having to look up the words they use in their reviews?) Except I don't object mildly. I strongly and strenuously object. In fact, it makes me want to gag. But I'll save that for my next post.