Sunday, October 9, 2011

this body of flesh....

The sermon in church this morning focused on the body and the mind - how neither is bad, but we must use them correctly. This reminded me of an essay I wrote for Omnibus last year, and I decided to go ahead and post it.

2. Explain at least two major Christian doctrines that teach that the human body is a good and positive thing. Then compare and contrast Plato’s Phaedo (79c-82) and the apostle Paul’s Galatians 5:16-18 on the body. 



                Plato’s Socratic dialogue, Phaedo, presents an issue common to Greek philosophy. In sections 79c through 82, Socrates and his two friends, Simmias and Cebes, discuss the soul versus the body. Near the end of this excerpt, Socrates says that the “soul is a helpless prisoner, chained hand and foot to the body” until it takes up philosophy and is able to come to know the separation of the two.
                The basic conclusion of their discussion is that the body is debase and wretched, and that the only way to be truly separated from it is either through philosophy and wisdom, then eventually through death.
                However, Christianity seems to oppose this view. The body is said to be a temple, which is a wonderful thing (1 Corinthians 6:19). Two doctrines, or teachings, reflect these pretty obviously.
                When God first created the world, He chose to create the human body. Genesis 1:26-27 describes God doing just this. And not only is He simply creating Adam’s body, but He creates it in His own image. In a sense, God also has a body, and we look like Him. If God thought that a physical body was bad, then he wouldn’t have given one to us. Even when Christ came to earth, He took on a man’s body. If He thought that the skin we are in was evil, then wouldn’t he have just come as a Spirit alone?
 I think these two things, Creation and the Incarnation, show that the physical body of skin, bone, and muscle, are not inherently evil. So then, is there still a difference between it and the soul? And is one or the other more important?
                Galatians 5:16-18 presents Paul’s view on the subject, and consequently, God’s. However, this seems to contrast the Creation and Incarnation, almost agreeing with the Phaedo in some ways. Paul says, “16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”(KJV)
                This presents that it is the desires of the body that are opposed to the soul; not necessarily the skin and bones we use to move around. In some ways, Socrates discussion with Cebes touches on this principle. For example, Socrates says at one point, “When soul and body share the same place, nature teaches the one to serve and be subject, the other to rule and govern,” and this seems to be consistent with some Biblical teaching. If the flesh (or body) is allowed to rule, then the well-being of the soul will be neglected and it will become subservient to the desires of the flesh. Socrates says the only way to change this is to make the soul completely separate from the body. This also agrees in a way with what Paul says.
                Where do the differences come into play, then? I think it lies in the method of separating the body from the soul. Biblically, Paul says that we must deny the flesh and strive after the Spirit. Socrates also says this, but the soul he speaks of is that of the individual person, not God’s Spirit. In a way, he seems to deliver the clich├ęd mantra that we are to “be true to ourselves”. When Paul speaks of being led of the Spirit, he refers to the Holy Spirit, not out own personal “essence”.
If we were to rely upon our own thoughts and feelings to put aside the body’s desires, then we would probably end up trapped even further inside of our flesh. God’s Spirit is the only one that can be completely separated from bodily lusts. We must chase after Him if we are to truly put aside the body.

[photo source - http://belindacai.blogspot.com/2010/03/i-want-to-live-where-soul-meets-body.html -- Yes, it's a blog, so I really don't know where she got it in the first place... Hm. This is also an essay on Phaedo. I don't have time to read the whole thing, or I would... different views on this could be interesting.]

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Ha! This feels very fitting for me right now, in reference to my own blogging. I can't say it's always true, though,  for there are several blogs I read that actually say many helpful things. Por ejemplo...

Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent
Nairam of Sherwood, OYANer Extraordinaire
The Sharpened Pen

and others. But, those were the URLs I knew off the top of my head. =P

I could blog about characters, writing, and all that, but they (^^) are already doing such a good job at it! Besides, I would probably start talking then refer you (the ominous, ever-present reader...right?) to one of their posts instead.

Yeah, I know. Excuses, excuses.

*cue VeggieTales "Busy, busy, dreadfully busy..."*

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Purging the Night

PURGING THE NIGHT

Can darkness, a lamp clutched in his hand
Masquerading as light, but destroying the land
Really be true? Really be right?
For he’s making us stumble, as thieves in the night.

Leaning out toward us, a smiling face
yet hiding his hands, for the blood that does lace
Back and forth on his palms - a frightening price
To pay for the time spent walking on ice.

The lies he does spin, the strangling threads,
Playing the spider, and leaving you dead.
Must escape from the strands, must sever the cords,
Hold fast, don’t give in, to his murdering sword.

Only one Light is true - the mimic is slain
When you turn from the lover, though he calls out your name.
He promises light, a sweeter version of life,
But you know he is lying, his heart full of strife.

The lies, the promises, the call to his side
Pulling us, drawing us, to his black mind to reside
In an abyss full of darkness - we can’t run on our own
For our souls are too weak to go it alone.

Calling and crying, to be free from this mask,
Preparing our hearts for the impossible task.
Impossible, yes, to our minds - not the Light’s,
Coming to answer our plea, an end now in sight.

Hope is now living, the rocks could cry out
Light rushes in with a trump and a shout.
Singing He comes, with conquering might
Probing, yet soothing, purging the night.

We joy in the Light, as he unchains us from sin
He sweeps us away from the tumultuous din
As His song fades to a hum, the battle is won
For the shadows are cleared by the light of the Sun

Though the Light frees us, we can’t leave it at that
To depart from His presence, it’s as if turning back
To the darkness we’ve fled, the pain we abhorred
Believing the righteous to be worse than the cords.

Must draw close to Him, must search out His heart
The journey’s not ended, we’re just at the start.
Some think salvation is all, there’s no need to impede
The habits formed while the Darkness pricked us to bleed.

If they continue in sin, so the Light comes around
To rescue again, that they might be found
Truly, who’s loosed from the bonds that once held?
Not they, for they cling to the chains of their Hell.

So throw off your shackles, and dance in the Light!
Enjoying the fragrance of precious, good right.
Sing in joy, for you’re ransomed, no more shame does hide
In the midst of your heart - just draw to His side. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Euthyphro Question

The only thing worse than arguing with Socrates might just be having to pretend you ARE Socrates, then proceeding to argue with yourself. "First I was like, huh? Then I was like, wha--? and then...i just got bored." (-Bolt) 

I wrote this essay as an assignment for the online history class I take (or, was taking...and it was such a good class...*weep*) and thought I might as well share it. It's an interesting topic, and I hope I've done it justice. :) 

~(@)~

2. What is the famous Euthyphro question, and how has it been used against Christianity? Explain it and then give a Christian reply to the objection. Imagine how Socrates might object to your Christian response and then answer this second objection.

The Euthyphro Question

In Plato’s book of dialogues, The Last Days of Socrates, Socrates asks a mindboggling question to his friend, Euthyphro. “Is the holy approved by the gods because it’s holy, or is it holy because it’s approved?” (Euthyphro dialogue, 9e)

Though Socrates asked the original question in reference to the pantheon of Ancient Greece, modern circles resurrect this question as a legitimate claim against the God of Christianity. They await an answer, expecting the Christians to be able to give one.  Yet, the dilemma gives only two possible solutions. Is something good because God loves it, or does God love it because it is good?

Both statements have assumptions or connotations that naturally follow. Because of these I, as a Christian, in some ways object to the question being asked in the first place. At least, I believe it could be worded in a better way.

Take the first part of the question - is the holy approved by God because it is holy? In examining the question, we find the hidden implication. If God approves of something because it is holy, this basically says that God has no part in goodness and that something above Him determines it. This would mean that God does not reign sovereign, above all and in control of all. It could even be said that God isn’t necessary for us, because even He looks up to a higher standard. Why not just go straight to the top?

The second option also puts us in an impossible position. To say that something is holy because God approves of it opens up the idea that the goodness is said to be good, “just because” God loves it. The response to this tends to be, “Well, couldn’t God change his mind? If he starts loving murder, would it then become holy or good?” It implies that goodness is subjective or random.  

Even with looking at both sides of the question, there seems to be no solution. We must either admit that God is not truly God, or that he can be fickle in character. Coming from a Biblical view of God and my Savior, Jesus Christ, I know that neither of these options can be true. So, is there an answer?

In some books or movies, there inevitably comes a time where the characters are forced into a dilemma. Do they take the shortcut through the woods and possibly get attacked by bears, or take the long way around and risk being late to warn the king? At least one of the characters automatically responds, “Is there a Plan C?” Though one may not be obvious, the characters resolve to choose Plan C and work as hard as they can to find that path instead - which usually ends up including a little of the bears and being late. However, they make it in the end, much better off than if they had just chosen A or B.

I shall attempt the same here in looking for “Plan C”, the tertium quid, the combination of or deviation from the two things presented. No doubt Socrates will have some questions for me. But to him I say, wait your turn. I get to talk in circles for a while.

Going back to the original question, I would like to ask, “What is the point of their argument?” My more cynical side suggests that perhaps they wish not to find out what is truly good, but to present the Christians with an “unanswerable” question. Yet, I wonder what Socrates was really thinking when he proposed the question to Euthyphro. Instead of “Is the holy approved by the gods because it’s holy, or is it holy because it’s approved?” I would like to simplify it and ask, out of Socratic curiosity, “What is good, and why is it good?”

I object to the original wording for it seems to suggest the God and goodness are two separate entities, and that there must be a reason or way for these to reconcile in such a state. As a Christian, I believe that goodness cannot be separate from God. He doesn’t choose which things are good - Heknows because He is good. Not just as a character trait (1 Chronicles 16:34), or because of what He does for us (John 3:16), but as the source of all goodness. Colossians 1:17 says, “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Holiness can’t be defined or separated as something that is holy on its own, or that must be decided to be holy.

So, if Socrates was to ask me “Is something good because God loves it, or does God love it because it is good?” I would answer, “Neither option really fits, considering the implications. 1 Peter 4:6b says, ‘...they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.’  Man’s judgment and God’s judgment are two different things. We humans approve things by our opinions of good, but He knows what is good.  He doesn’t have to pick out the good versus the bad because anything good is already a part of Him (Psalm 18:30, Romans 12:2). Anything not in line with God’s character or will is sinful, and anything we think is good can only be truly good if it matches up with His nature.”
Socrates then sits back in his chair, nodding and stroking his beard. “Very well, then, MacKenzie,” he says. “In that case, if your God is goodness, then is He good because he chooses to be, or because he has no choice? If he has no choice, is there truly such a thing as goodness at all? And if he does choose it, could that mean that perhaps there really is an alternative source of goodness apart from God?”

After asking him to repeat the question about three more times, I give my answer.

“Socrates, you believe that the Form of the Good exceeds all things, even your gods, whereas I believe that God stands above all. Suggesting that God must choose to be good brings the argument back around to the original question of whether or not a form of good exists outside of God. ‘He is before all things,’ in Colossians 1:17 tells us that He existed even before our human concept of measurable good came about. Good is simply how God is defined, both in nature and how he shows Himself to us (1 John 3:16). When we do something “good”, according to His standards, we are being like Him.

“I would also like to bring up the entire passage in Colossians 1, surrounding the seventeenth verse:

“16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; (Col 1:16-19 KJV)

“The “powers” referred to in verse 16 comes from the Greek word exousia, which, according to Strong’s Greek Lexicon, primarily means “power of a choice, liberty of doing as one pleases”. God created this. This doesn't mean He never had a choice or that He’s not sovereign - He just never needed to choose. It wasn’t an issue, and it never will be. Yet, when He created us, He needed to lay down rules and gave us, as humans and His creation, the will to choose whether or not to obey Him and live up to His good.

“With our limited human understanding we can only understand questions about God and His nature to a certain degree. We still see as though through a glass, darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12), and we must study, learn, and pray if we are to ever gain a taste of God’s wisdom and goodness here on earth. Psalm 143:10 says, “Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. (KJV)

“Socrates, apart from God, there can be no other explanation of what goodness is.”

Friday, May 13, 2011

Prologue of 'Shadows' End'

Here's the beginning of a story idea I've been toying with on and off. It will most likely end up as a prologue, maybe a flashback. Anyway, the kid, Roan, is about seven years old, maybe eight. If anyone's up to commenting, I have a few main questions, aside from just the general "does anything seem weird to you?" one:

From this beginning do you have a decent idea of where you think these people are and who they are? What are your impressions of these things?

What is your impression of Morika? Roan?

Did this create emotion in you? What emotions?

And, would you keep reading?

~(@)~


  Roan crouched down by the pile of brush in the corner of the hut and traced a finger along the baby’s cheek. “I’m sorry, Maia,” he whispered.
 “Come, boy.” A rough hand seized Roan’s arm and jerked him up, away from his sister. “We have to go, now.”
“No!” Roan wrenched away and dropped again by Maia’s makeshift bed. “Not unless she comes too.”
“I have told you already, she cannot,” the man spat in the rapid native language.
 “But you cannot leave her here alone!” Roan objected, crying back in the man’s tongue. He grabbed her little hand and she wound her fingers tightly around one of his.
 Don’t go, Roan, her eyes seemed to beg. I need you! He stared into her brown irises, nearly dominated by the black of her pupils. They gazed at him, wide, unblinking, and shining in the moonlight that streamed through the tiny window of the hut. He stroked her skin, shades browner than his own, stretched taut across the visible ridges of her bones from lack of food, dry and dehydrated from lack of water. He wouldn’t leave her...he couldn’t. She would die without him! 
The tall man bent over and grabbed Roan around the waist. He hauled the small boy up over his shoulder.
 “No!” Roan screeched. He thrashed and wriggled, kicking against his captor and beating his back with clenched fists. “No, no! Maia! Let me free!”
 The grip around his waist and legs tightened and the man pushed aside the reed mat that served as a door for the hut. The bright moon threw its light about, washing the tiny clearing in an unearthly glow.
Roan wailed, tears pouring down his cheeks, and continued to beat. “Please, let me go! I’ll stay with her, I don’t have to come with you! You can leave without me, I won’t follow, I’d stay here with her and not go anywhere, I promise. They wouldn’t find you! We’d be quiet. They wouldn’t track you! Please!” He ached to touch her, to hold her close and feel the curl of her soft black hair against his cheek, to hold her and let her know that she was safe.
 The man did not answer him.
As they drew further away from the opposite end of the clearing, nearing the jungle tree line, a soft cry rose from the hut. Whimpering at first, it rose in a growing crescendo, finally becoming a steady, mournful wail.
 The man swore in his language and began to run, jostling Roan about like a wild antelope being brought home from a kill.
 A kill. Dead. Roan felt dead. He fell silent, stopped kicking, knowing that there was nothing left he could do. He knew Morika would not give in. That he was too concerned about what lay ahead. That the only thing behind that mattered to him was when the baby would please stop her crying so there would be no sounds or hints for the wicked men to follow them by.

Friday, April 15, 2011

all in a name

So, I have a more article-like, thought-provoking post in the works, but it's just that -- in the works. So I figured I'd throw out another excerpt while I'm still working on that. A "filler" post....but not really, because I probably would have posted this sometime anyway.

This excerpt is also from A Name Worth Carrying. It takes place just a little while after the last excerpt I posted, actually. This is a moment that I hope sets up a big story issue, being Abby and her struggle with her name and it's realtion to her father.

My goal is emotion, inner conflict, and history. I'd love any thoughts you might have on this - Could you feel Abby's confusion? Shock? And the inner conflict she has at the beginning and end? Those are what I'm going for, but are they really there?

Enjoy :)
(and let me know if you do!)


~(@)~

stock photo from shutterstock.com

            My father is joy.
            My father is joy.
            The meaning pounds in my head.
            Why, Mom? Why did you give me such a name? Joy? My father? Ha. More like, my father is frightening me. My father is suspicious. My father is...not the man I once thought I knew.
            Joy. Sure. Right.
            I lie there {in bed} for hours, even after Katey has finally gone to bed, not able to sleep. My mind spins, reliving as many moments as I dare, all ever since the accident. Me, being awoken by the ringing of the phone early that morning. Stumbling in to the living room to see Dad sprawled on the couch, completely dressed, shoes and all, stoned from something. Not even the harsh tones of the phone would rouse him. They always did. Well, when he wasn't hungover. I picked up the phone, still bleary.
            "Hello?"
            "Hello, may I speak with James Garrett?"
            I turned to the couch and roll my eyes. "He's, uh, unavailable right now. Can I take a message?"
            "Who is this?"
            "I'm Abby. His daughter."
            "Oh, dear. Uh, are you sure he can't come to the phone?"
            I shook my head and my stomach started to flutter. "No, he really can't. Is something wrong? Who is this anyway?"
            "Ah...this is Officer Bryant from the city police department. And, well, I need to confirm a license plate number, along with...some other things. Eh, how old are you, sweetheart?"
            I was really scared now. "Fifteen. I, ah, I think I could remember the number," I had to stop and swallow. "If you read it to me?"
            The voice on the other end sighs. "I suppose. But, hon, I've some bad news."
            Something from the tone of his voice told me it was more than just a parking ticket or an arrested family member -- even if I didn't have any family close by. I cleared my throat. "Uh, okay. What is it?"
            "Well, let me make sure of the plate first. here, you ready?"
            "Sure."
            He started reading off a combination of letters and numbers, which I immediately recognize as my mother's license number.
            "Y-yeah," I stammered. "That's my mom's car."
            He sighed again. "I was afraid of that. Abby, right?"
            "Y-yes." I didn't dare say anything else.
            "Abby, I'm sorry, but we got a call a little while ago. Someone found your mother's car on a back country road. It had been driven into an old fencerow and smashed into a tree and a couple of fence posts. The car is totaled. And..."
            My stomach dropped and I sank down to my knees on the kitchen floor.
            "There was a woman inside, in the driver's seat. She had suffered some fatal injuries. What we assume to be her purse was on the passenger side. The driver's license identified the woman as Nicole Garrett."
            "What? No. No, are you sure?" I yelped. "No, Mom...she's here, in her bed, asleep. That can't be her." I jumped to my feet and pounded down the hall to my parents' room, still clutching the phone. My hand flew to the wall and the light flashed on. The bed was empty. "Mom!" I screeched, yanking the bathroom door open. She wasn't there either. I dropped to the floor by the bathtub, eyes burning and chest heaving. "No, no!" I pressed the phone to my ear again, forcing the words out, "She...she's not here. But that can't be her. Can't be!"
          "Please, Abby, calm down. That's why I'm calling. I need your father to come down to the station..."
          But I didn't hear anymore. The phone slipped from my hand, clattering to the floor. "Dad," I whispered. "Daddy!" I launched forward, on my hands and knees, scrambling to get to my feet. Flying, I nearly crashed into my father, still sprawled on the couch. I shook his shoulders. "Daddy, wake up! Where's Mom?" I had to keep shaking, then finally screaming, before he blinked open wearily. I could smell the liquor on his breath.
          "What are you talking about, Abigail?" he mumbled, struggling to sit up.
          It was all I could do to keep from slapping him. "Where is Mom?" I yelled again. "Some guy from the police department called and said she was in an accident. That she wrecked her car and got killed!"
          A look of terror crossed his face, then shock. "No," he muttered, pushing me away from him and stumbling off the couch. He slapped his hand to his forehead, moaning. "Ohh, my head...where's the phone?"
          I couldn't remember what I'd done with it. "I don't know," I said, realizing that tears were streaming down my face. "I...I don't know!"
          He'd pulled me out of school that week in late September, and I stayed at home with him for two weeks. He grew distant, barely talking to me and flinching every time something unexpected happened, whether it be me closing a cabinet or Lexie knocking on the door. He never let me out of the house without him during that time. And when he left to go to some sort of legal thing about the accident, he locked me in the house. That's when he put up the grate over my window as well.
          Joy. Yeah, right.
          I roll over on my stomach and scrunch the pillow up in my arms. I rest my chin on it, staring at the blank wood of the head board. My throat tickles. My eyes burn. I want to let it out. But, instead, I glare into the darkness and refuse to let the tears come.
~ Chapter 3, A Name Worth Carrying
©2011 MacKenzie Pauline

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hello, Sunshine...

...It's been too long since I
felt your beautiful warmth upon my face. :)
(Barlow Girl)

Ah, loveliness. It stormed like crazy yesterday, and I loved it.  Now, early this morning I sit here at my desk before the window with sun streaming in through the blinds, covering me in shadowy stripes, and I love it, too. Hopefully today will be beautiful. And if it's not...oh well. I have my daffodil in its glass of water also sitting before me. And that will be my sunshine for today.



I've always loved daffodils. I see them as a bright yellow sunbeam shining through the midst of the fickleness of spring weather. Whether it's dark and storming or bright and clear outside, they're still there, dancing in the breeze. A sign that more is coming, that beauty is on its way. Sunshine in the storm.

Not to mention that the fragrance is so powerful...you can smell the daffodil on my desk as soon as you walk into my room. The character of it just rubs off in so many ways. 

I want to be like a daffodil. A joyful sunbeam, spreading the sweet fragrance of God's love wherever I am, and in whatever circumstances. Even in the midst of a storm.  

~(@)~

"The flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the [turtledove] is heard in our land."
Song of Solomon 2:12


Thursday, March 17, 2011

"True Colors"

(A rough ball-point pen sketch of Abigail. I wish I'd done it in pencil...>_>)

~(@)~

Yikes. Three posts in one week. I'm setting myself up pretty badly here...possibly raising some expectations or something! *roll eyes* Oh, well.

Anyway, here is a short one-scene excerpt from A Name Worth Carrying.

I'm really not sure what to call it...I've got it labelled "True Colors" in my text document, because it's giving Abby pretty much her first glimpse of the next year or so of her life. I will give a little background for it, though. This scene is from chapter three, taking place the first night Abby is in her first foster home. Isabel is the foster mother (she's about 60 years old) who runs a kind of small group home for foster teens. Katey and Thomas are the first kids Abby met when she arrived. This is pretty much an introduction to her coming foster life and the people she is with for the next couple chapters (I think I already said that...). 

I would greatly appreciate any thoughts you might have to share on this. Basically, I'm wondering, what emotion does it create? Does it flow well? Can you sympathize with/feel  the characters?

* * *

I sink into my seat at the table, feeling like I'm shutting down. Several new faces stare at me and none of them, aside from Katey and Thomas's, look very welcoming. I swallow and push my tongue around and against my teeth, not quite chewing on it but almost. Isabel glides in from the kitchen again and sets a steaming, lumpy casserole-thing on the table.
"Okay, guys, dig in," she says. She slides into her own chair at the head of the table, dropping the oven mitts down by her plate. I pull in the corner of my lip and start to work on it, instead of my tongue. The other boy, who I assume to be Tyler, lurches forward and grabs the serving spoon stuck in the corner of the food. I watch as he pushes his plate a little closer and dumps two huge spoonfuls onto it, as if it's his last meal. He snatches two rolls and a scoop of cooked carrots in a fluid, lightning movement.
I stare for a moment. Maybe he does think it's his last meal. Huh...I wonder how long he's been here. Have to ask Katey later.
A low buzz of the starting conversation reaches my ear and brings me back to the table. Thomas, after he's poked through the casserole and picked out all the tomato chunks, shovels it in just about as savagely as Tyler does. But he's not really desperate, he's mimicing. The other girls, Haylie and Janelle, start giggling and Katey glares at Thomas. I glance at Tyler. 
In a moment, he's noticed Tommy and drops his fork, glaring at him. "What are you doing?" he growls. "Makin' fun of me?"
I turn my eyes to Isabel now, watching to see how she'll react. She cocks an eyebrow but says nothing and reaches for her glass.
"Yeah? So what if am?" Thomas smirks, but his eyes are dancing. Tyler clenches his jaw, still glaring. A muscule in his face twitches. His eyes are smoldering. Then, though it seems to take as much effort as if he was lifting a car, he forces his head back around and hunches, staring at his plate.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see one of the girls nod toward Tyler. Thomas seems to find some meaning in this and breaks into another wide grin. In a quick movement, he latches onto Tyler's remaining roll. Tyler releases like a spring and slaps Thomas's hand against the table, pinning it like a vice. With a sharp jab, he latches around the small of Tommy's wrist and twists it back and around until he's got him on the ground, nearly under the table. I faintly hear Janelle or Haylie shouting and know I show be reacting in some way as well, but all I can do is stare like a petrified idiot.
"Never again!" Tyler screeches. The outburst is followed by a sickening pop. Thomas gasps. "Never, never! Never touch my food!"
"Get off me you creep!" Thomas shouts. Katey pushes away, sending her chair clattering back, and launches herself around the table. She latches around Tyler's waist and tries to drag him off Thomas, but the kid is stuck to his tormenter like a cockleburr. He's screaming now. Loud and unitelligibly. That is, except for the cussing. That is made out easily and very, very much accentuated.
I bite my tongue and look to Isabel. She just sits in her chair, chewing thoughtfully while staring at the boys and Katey. Doing nothing. Nothing!
Now my own eyes are smoldering, I'm sure of it. This kid will not stop until Thomas relents, I have a feeling that won't be soon. In a sudden surge, I fling back my chair and slam my hands down on the table, making things jump and shake. "What do you think you're doing?!" I screech. "This is insane! You're gonna kill each other! Isabel, they're gonna kill each other!"
Tyler jerks his head toward me, suprised, but not quenched by my outburst. "Shut up, you--"
I don't wait for him to finish. I jump over and grab him, flinging him free of Thomas with the extra force of Katey's firm grip. She drops to Thomas's side and I turn away, glaring at Tyler. I need to say something. Something to make him think I'm to be respected. But what is there to respect? He wipes his mouth and his lips curl into a snarl. He lifts himself to his hands and knees and I just know he's about to launch. I have less than a second to--
The air is knocked out of me as Tyler barrels into my stomach, sending me flying to the ground. I barely see the outline of a fist, rising up, about to smash my face in. I squeeze my eyes shut and try to lift my arms, but they're pinned by Tyler's knees. His fist cocks back and springs forward.
"Tyler!" Katey shrieks. She tackles Tyler's arm and pulls him back, away from me. I roll over, panting and coughing.
"Ty, Ty. Tyler, please!" Katey begs. She is sitting on top of him, legs stradling each side of his torso, then hooked back across his legs to keep him from kicking. In one hand she holds both of his, in an iron grip that makes her forearm bulge. With the other hand she strokes his face and hair, still pleading with him to settle down. He gives one last cry of rage then sags, whimpering. Tears slick his flaming face.
Katey slowly releases his hands, then slips off of him, down to his side. Tyler sits up, now coughing, and Katey grabs him around the shoulders, pulling him close to her. He collapses, now shuddering with quiet sobs. I sit, still panting, as Katey helps him stand up.
"Do you want to finish eating, or go downstairs?" she asks him.
He doesn't say anything, but pulls away from her and stalks from the dining room.
With a tired sigh, Katey picks up her chair and sits back down. I do the same, noticing that Thomas isn't at the table anymore. I hope, for both of their sakes, that he isn't downstairs as well.
~~~
Thanks for reading! :)


MacKenzie

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

To Shine a Light...


...there must be a dark place for it to glow.



Is it a good thing to hate your character's life? To be so depressed and distressed about their problems, their circumstances...to the point where writing about them makes you wish the story had never come about in the first place? Where you cringe and avoid writing that certain scene because...just because?

That's just about where I am sometimes with Abigail in A Name Worth Carrying. I'm pretty sure that there are people out there with a lot more (and worse) problems than she has....100% sure. But even with what she's going through, because I'm having to bring it to life...I realize that this might be the first time I've truly felt for those people who don't have it as well off as I do. Sure, I've known there are problems in the world, but there's something about experiencing it, even if it is just through the written word, that really cuts deep. For a time, I am Abigail. I am the one abandoned, confused, terrified, broken and scarred. And I don't like it.

Yet, I know there is hope. Abby may not see it yet, but I do. I know what's coming, I am arranging the circumstances to bring her to the place she needs to be for all those crucial changes to be made. She can't change what's happened to her, but she can change the way she reacts, the way she deals with it.

(This is a reason I love writing. I didn't realize it until I started typing the paragraph above, but maybe you did? As I write, I am repeating the recurring story of life, whether I know it or not. In a sense, I really am Abigail. I don't know what's coming, but God does. He is guiding me, ordering things for the final outcome. The things that must take place to get me to the end will not always be good. In fact, most of them I probably won't like. Anyway, I would go on with this subject, but it's not the point of this post...and I would most likely ramble.)

How necessary is it for writers to deal with dark, painful subjects in order to show the light (e.g. depression, immorality, broken families, murder, etc.)? This is something I've struggled with, both in reading and writing. There are certain subjects I just don't want to think about or deal with. So I avoid them. I can live with vague implications. Some things are necessary to get the point across, to make it real. But is it right to delve into it, even if these things are clearly shown in a negative light?

What if this is a story that needs to be told? If there is something you feel so strongly convicted about, that you must write about it, otherwise feel as though you have ignored a nudge from the Giver of the words you use?

Then, I say, write it. But, use discretion. You will not only be speaking to or reaching those directly involved with such issues, but the casual readers who randomly pick up the book from the library shelf. Or, your friends and family who want to support your work. (Don't scare them away, making them wonder what in the world is wrong with you... Sure, some things may need a disclaimer... For example, I'm planning on dedicating ANWC to my family, so no one thinks I'm writing a disguised autobiography... =P)

One of the main things that worries me is writing something with redemption in mind, yet not working it throughout the fabric of the story and having it hit awkwardly at the end. Then, it feels as if the "redemptive" quality was just tacked on. I've read books like this, and they are not satisfying.

Fellow readers and writers, what are your opinions on this subject? How much "darkness" are you willing to grope through to find the light in the midst of it? At what point does it stop being beneficial? And, for that matter, is it ever beneficial? Philippians 4:8 comes to mind -- "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (KJV)" -- but what about spreading the Light to those who need it?

"For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light."
(Eph 5:8-13 KJV - emphasis added)

Hm, hm. Many things to consider. I hope that wasn't too muddled. If so, I apologize.

~MacKenzie

[photo from "mobiletoones.com"...? result of a google search]

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Name Worth Carrying

"Operation Novel", take 2.

"Novel" seems like such an odd word. To me, anyhow. Like a word you should only use to describe a book that says "Butterfly Kisses - a novel" on the cover, or Jane Austen books. I don't write "novels"! Not like that, anyway. I write stories. Adventures. Books. Tales.

However, "novel" is, by definition,

–noun
1.
a fictitious prose narrative of considerable length and complexity, portraying characters and usually presenting a sequential organization of action and scenes.

Length and complexity, characters, action, scenes...hm, I do like that. Maybe I can live with the word.


ANYway.


So, novels. Books, stories, whatever. And, I have a new one I'd like to talk about for a while. If you like reading things like that, please continue.



A Name Worth Carrying

This story is about Abigail Nicole Garrett, a fifteen year old sophomore. She's motherless and her estranged father is trying to locate her in order to make sure she doesn’t tell his secret to the police. The problem? She doesn’t know what that secret is.

When she's thrust into the foster system Abigail realizes that there are a lot of things she doesn’t know. What really happened the night of the car wreck? And why does she have a terrible suspicion that her dad had something to do with it? Has she ever known what a true family is? And why, of all things, did her parents name her Abigail?

At least one of these things she can change. Her name is Nicole, now. Not Abigail. And it doesn’t really matter...does it? Is there really all that much in a name?

~(@)~

From this synopsis alone, would you be interested enough to read any of the story? Does is pique your interest? Would you pick it up from the bookstore or library shelf long enough to at least read the first pages?

Soon (maybe) I will be posting excerpts from this book. It's almost 20,000 words, and five chapters in. It's a lot more character driven than Escape into Darkness, and could probably be better classified as a "man who learned better" story type (according to OYAN). So I'm having to think a lot more about compelling conflict. Who wants to read 200+ pages of a mopey teenage girl sorting through her emotional baggage? Bleh.

But it's really not that bad. At least, it's coming.

It's a work-in-progress.

(as a side note, the Escape into Darkness page has been updated...)