Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: writers

Backyard chatter

photo from Pixabay, public domain, photographer not named

Yesterday was a beautiful fall day, the first day of fall in fact. We were a group of ten writers gathered in the backyard of a friend in Saskatoon. We were seated in a large circle, duly spaced according to COVID-19 regulations, far enough from traffic noise and close enough to each other to hear as we visited about writing and life in general.

Then another voice made itself heard. A blue jay landed on a branch above the heads of those of us sitting on one side of the circle and began making raucous comments. It was answered by another jay perched on the garage roof. After a short chat the jays departed and left the rest of us to continue our conversation.

Dorothy Sayers on the origin of evil

The orthodox Christian position is . . . [that] the light, and the light only is primary; creation and time and darkness are secondary and begin together. When you come to consider the matter, it is strictly meaningless to say that darkness could precede light in a time process. Where there is no light, there is no meaning for the word darkness, for darkness is merely a name for that which is without light. Light, by merely existing, creates darkness, or at any rate the possibility of darkness. In this sense, it is possible to understand that profound saying, “I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7).

But it is at this point that it becomes possible for the evil and the darkness and the chaos to boast: “We are that which was before the light was, and the light is a usurpation upon our rights.” It is an illusion; evil and darkness and chaos are pure negation, and there is no such state as “before the light” because it is the primary light that creates the whole time process. It is an illusion, and that is the primary illusion inside which the devil lives and in which he deceives himself and others.

In the orthodox Christian position, therefore, the light is primary, the darkness secondary and derivative; and this is important for the whole theology of evil. In The Devil to Pay, I tried to make this point, and I remember being soundly rapped over the knuckles by a newspaper critic, who said in effect that after a great deal of unintelligible pother, I had worked up to the statement that God was light, which did not seem to be very novel or profound. Novel, it certainly is not, it is scarcely the business of Christian writers to introduce novelties into the fundamental Christian doctrines. But profundity is a different matter; Christian theology is profound, and since I did not invent it, I may have the right to say so.

The possibility of evil exists from the moment that a creature is made that can love and do good because it chooses and not because it is unable to do anything else. The actuality of evil exists from the moment that that choice is exercised in the wrong direction. Sin (moral evil) is the deliberate choice of the not-God. And pride, as the church has consistently pointed out, is the root of it, i.e., the refusal to accept the creaturely status; the making of the difference between self and God into an antagonism against God.

-Dorthy Sayers, Letters to a Diminished Church. [First posted on this blog September 14, 2014]

Let my people go

During the course of my lifetime I have heard the Nativity story told in many different forms at Christmas concerts and read still others in children’s books. Some have stayed quite close to the Biblical narrative, others have veered off into the land of make-believe in ways that left me bewildered.

Fear not, I’m not about to embark on a curmudgeonly rant. I think it will be more constructive to depict the outlines of a narrative that is hidden in plain sight in our Bibles. That is the amazing parallels between Moses and Jesus.

Both had the sentence of death upon them the moment they were born. In the case of Moses it was the decree of Pharaoh that all newborn Hebrew males should be killed. In the case of Jesus it was the decree of Herod that all children under the age of two in the region of Bethlehem should be slain.

Both were protected by a young lady named Miryam. For Moses it was his sister, for Jesus it was his mother. They are called Miriam and Mary in the Bible, due to the Old and New Testaments being written in different languages, but to their own people, in their own time, both were Miryam.

Both received invaluable help from Gentiles. Moses was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter and brought up not far from the man who had wanted to kill him. The gifts the Magi brought to Jesus were no doubt of great help in sustaining Joseph, Mary and Jesus during their flight into Egypt.

Later in their lives both embarked on a mission to deliver their people from their oppressors. Moses wrought many miracles upon the Egyptians to break their oppression of the Hebrew people and finally, on the day of the Passover, led them through the Red Sea to freedom. Jesus wrought miracles to demonstrate his power over the oppression of Satan and finally, through his death and resurrection at the time of the Passover, broke the power of Satan over mankind.

Fifty days after the first Passover (ten days march into the wilderness and forty days on the mountain), Moses came down the mountain with the laws of God written on tablets of stone. Fifty days after the last Passover, on the day of Pentecost, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit down from heaven to write God’s laws upon the hearts of the believers.

There is one major difference between Moses and Jesus. Moses, as representative of the law, could not lead his people through Jordan into the promised land. That was left for Joshua to do. The Hebrew form of Joshua is Yehowshua. That is the name that Jesus bore in his day, among his own people. Jesus comes from the Greek form of his name. Jesus, the New Testament Yehowshua, has delivered his people from their bondage to sin and has gone before us to prepare a place for us in the eternal promised land.

I would be delighted if Sunday School teachers, Christian teachers and Christian writers for children could flesh out the Biblical narrative to give children of our day a true picture of who Jesus is and what he has done for us.

Don’t believe everything a machine tells you

One of my bookkeeping clients received the following missive from the Canada Revenue Agency:

Re: Source deductions arrears
      Balance:  $0.00

Thank you for your recent payment of $-,—.–. (there were actual numbers on those blanks which I shall not reveal for reasons of client confidentiality.) This has reduced your account, but you still have an outstanding balance of $0.00.

We would appreciate it if you would pay this amount within 14 days.

This was obviously a computer-generated letter. Too bad that whoever developed the software didn’t endow it with the ability to compute that a balance owing of $0.00 means the account is paid in full.

Of course, those of us who are not machines but highly-spilled writers would never make mistakes like that.

Would we?

The Malwarebytes fiasco

I started using the free version of Malwarebytes some years ago when my anti-virus program didn’t seem to be catching everything. I would run a scan with MWB every now and then and often it would pick up a couple of problems and delete them.

They kept telling me how much more the premium version would do for me, so I finally bit a little over a year ago. It quietly worked away in the background, causing me no trouble and hopefully doing me some good. I didn’t really know what it was doing, but I felt just a little more secure knowing it was there.

Until last Saturday, January 27. I started my computer and everything was extremely sluggish. Programs were slow to load and didn’t want to work. I rebooted the computer a half dozen times and the problem only seemed to get worse. Sometimes the monitor stayed black, sometimes the cursor was oncoperative. I finally shut the computer down and made plans to take it to the computer hospital today.

Then I heard from a friend that the problem was a botched Malwarebytes update. I booted the computer up yesterday afternoon and everything returned to normal. Alls well that ends well, right?

Wrong. My confidence in Malwarebytes has dropped to near zero. You see, it is one thing to find and fix a technical error, but the problem is not resolved until you can convince your customers that you know why the problem occurred and have taken steps that will ensure it does not happen again.

Does Malwarebytes even know that they are dealing with people? Students who have reports and projects with a deadline, business people with deadlines to meet, writers with deadlines to meet, other people who were counting on using their computers to communicate with others or complete some project? I am a bookkeeper with month end deadlines for governement reports for my clients. I was counting on Saturday being a big day to get a lot of that done. Instead I had to turn my attention to tasks that didn’t require a computer, and weren’t nearly as urgent.

Meanwhile, all that we have heard from Malwarebytes is an online posting that the problem has been fixed. There is a lack of comprehension here. One technical glitch has been fixed. The real problem has not. Why should I be paying for a program that will put my computer out of service? That question has not been answered.

Can somebody reccommend a dependable alternative?

Robins and skunks on O’Malley Road

robin-941052_1280

The songbirds are back: robins, meadowlarks and others – spring has come to Saskatchewan. Sometimes we can even tell it by the weather. Last Saturday was a beautiful sunny day with a high of 22° Celsius. That would be 72° in Americanese. This morning the ground was white again for several hours and the high for the day was 2°.

This is also tax season. The personal income tax deadline is April 30, but that falls on a Saturday which makes Monday May 2 the actual deadline. I am busy getting last years books in order for my business bookkeeping clients to take to their tax accountants. I only do a few personal tax returns, mostly for seniors. Last week that led to meeting two delightful ladies, both of them 90 years old and still going strong.

Saturday I attended a Christian writers’ “wordshop” in Saskatoon. This is an opportunity to get together with other writers for mutual encouragement and to hear talks that hopefully inform and inspire us to persevere, write and publish. It is also an opportunity to buy books from our fellow writers – I came home with five.

skunk-1239764_1280

For years we have been having problems with creatures resembling the cute little guy above getting under our mobile home. Most of the time they are quiet, inoffensive neighbours. There have been a couple of times when some other creature troubled them and we had to leave home for a few hours to let the resulting aroma dissipate.

I think we are dealing with one persistent pair. We have tried various means to let them know they are not welcome and/or to evict them. We try to limit ourselves to methods that will not cause unpleasant olfactory results for ourselves. Saturday we set up an ultrasonic sound generator that is supposed to drive them bonkers and make them want to escape.

Today one of them ventured out of the hole under the skirting of the trailer and into  the awaiting cage trap. They are not supposed to be able to spray when confined in this small cage, but our son-in-law had to step lively to avoid a direct hit when he came to take our guest away. One down, one more to go. At least I hope that is all there is.

 

Mission statement for writers

I confess that I am quite cynical about the term “mission statement.” In my experience in the business world, a mission statement is an exercise in public relations where management attempts to come down on the right side of every hot button issue of the day. Creating a mission statement has generally been an exercise in creative writing, not a serious attempt to redefine the values that will guide corporate decisions in the future.

Neverthtypewriter-584696_1280eless, when I attended the recent Christian writers workshop and listened to Janice Dick advocate that writers create a mission statement for their work something clicked in my mind. Jan has published four books of historical fiction and I think she might just know something that hadn’t occurred to me before.

Creating a mission statement will help a writer clarify his thinking, decide just what his goal is, and direct his activities towards that goal. If a writer works in different formats and genres the mission statement will probably need to be tweaked and fine-tuned for each project. Here are the five questions that Jan suggested to help us create our mission statement (with my additions in brackets).

1. What do I do? (Am I a historian? a business writer? a story teller? an apologist? a fiction writer? a devotional writer? a doctrinal writer? etc., etc.)

2. How do I do it? (How much research is needed? Where do I get my inspiration?)

3. What is the value of what I do?

4. Who am I doing it for? (Is my target audience children? teens? young adults? seniors? believers? seekers? skeptics? mothers? teachers? etc. etc.)

5. What do I believe and why? (My faith does not need to be on display in every word that I write, but a lack of integrity will make my writing weak and ineffective.)

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