Friday, April 29, 2011

Grace of the Common People

Perhaps it was just the similar story lines that pricked my interest. 

The Today Show ran a story titled "Cha-ching! Hedge fund managers earned billions in ’10" the story outlined how savvy hedge fund managers made money on their insight to bet on the housing foreclosure disaster.

The same evening the NBC Evening news ran a story titled Pay Soars for CEOs in industries that took financial hits as did most of the employees.

Quietly following the stories about greed ignoring hardship was a story about the family of Matt Howard, the Butler College forward, playing in the final four basketball championship.  Butler player's Pop gets an assist.  His father, a mail carrier, couldn't afford to take the family to see the game so customers on his route gave enough money to make that happen.

On our local station the story "Parent's of Fallen Soldier Get Home Makeover" shared that two churches came together to do essential repairs on the family home of a couple who's son gave his life for his country.
How easy to be jaded and angry about people we don't know, doing things we can hardly believe, in places we are vaguely familiar with.  Take note and look past the headline story, written in explosive prose to catch your attention, and witness the grace of the common people. 

Listen to the stories about individuals like us, in situations similar to our own, reaching out and giving to each other from the heart.

It is happening all around us.  We are a part of it. 
The good, the helpful, the light of Christ shining on humanity.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The publishing times, they are a changin'.

I received a press release today from Hachette Book Group.

"Hachette Book Group is pleased to announce the launch of a new faith-based imprint called Jericho Books, an imprint of the Nashville Division of Hachette Book Group. The mission of Jericho Books is to seek new, innovative authors who reflect a growing change in the church. These non-traditional voices will appeal to the fresh perspectives in today’s culture and provide an avenue for those exploring political and social issues as they relate to faith."

This is interesting, and welcome, in the light of the current dialogue concerning Christian fiction.  I wait with anticipation to see what Hachette Group considers "fresh perspective's" in today's faith culture.  Can we expect a call out for fresh, unpublished authors?   

I know we'll all stayed tuned.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sacred Time

I was baptized as a baby and confirmed at age 12 into the Congregational Church body.  I attended the Presybterian Church youth group through high school.  I married a Baptist and joined the Baptist Church through adult baptism at age 19.  In Pennyslvania there were no Southern Baptist affiliated churches in our area so we joined in worship with the Church of the Brethern.  I like to say I've been on the roulette wheel of denominational church membership. 

I grew up with the liturgical calendar, commorating the Sacred Time of Lent and Holy Week with services and traditions on Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter to Pentecost.  I enjoy the symbolisim, the rememberance, the planned observance of my Christian faith.

In years past we added our own symbols of rememberance such as having bread and broth (a different homemade bread and soup) on each Sunday during lent, reading scripture around the table and expressing celebration in a personal way.

Our busy lives can make observances outside of Easter Morning and Christmas Day easily obselete.  The days come so quickly, many churches don't deliberately celebrate every one of the seasonal events and the sacred days often pass before we can organize our own demonstrations of celebration.

Let me encourage you to make an extra effort to discover the liturgical calendar, plan ahead and make a special family observance of one or more of the scheduled events.  The blessings are ten-fold for your own spiritual journey, towards teaching your children the tenets of your faith, towards strengthening relationships and family unity.  Enjoyable celebrations often become family tradition.

Your worship is an expression of your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  A relationship you want to honor and share.  The liturgical calendar is a great resource for education and celebration.

Take a moment and share your fond memories of faith celebrations and traditions.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Priest's Graveyard by Ted Dekker: A Review

I enjoy Christian fiction.  In the current conundrum surrounding the Christian fiction market my preferences run towards stories from camp #2 (realistic, harder edge) but there are several authors in camp #1  (softer edge) I enjoy.

The Priest's Graveyard falls firmly into camp #2.  The main character is a priest, having witnessed the brutal murder of his mother and sisters, believes he is meteing out God's justice by assassinating evil individuals that prey on the innocent.  In a twist of fate he is joined by a reformed drug addicted prostitute.  After they meet there are two more grisly murders before the twist turns them.  For a couple so perfectly matched how can the situation end in any way other than tragic.

The words within this brief synopsis sit squarely in camp #2; assassinating priest, drug addicted prostitute, grisly murders.  I have read novels that dealt with harsh issues, used a soft brush stroke, and it was a camp #1 story but Ted Dekker is a pioneer for camp #2.  Somehow, somewhere in his career he convinced a publisher that his novels, running a faith theme, dealing with gritty situations and authentic life circumstances, would find a readership and could be lucrative.

Ted Dekker is recognized as a fine author and camp #2 readers will enjoy The Priest's Graveyard, as did I.  It should be pointed out that, here, in the current publishing climate Ted Dekker is forging a path through timid publishers to provide a wider selection of Christian fiction where all readers across the genre can be served.

Also on today's tour stop:
Tomorrow's stops:;

I received a book from the publisher to review.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Christian Fiction Conundrum

Next week is my scheduled review of Ted Dekker's upcoming novel The Priest's Graveyard.  I will touch on the continuing Christian fiction debate which makes this post an appropriate prerequisite.

A debate is simmering as the publishing industry morphs within the internet.  Christian fiction has a problem with labeling, marketing and identifying readership.  The basic issues are well outlined at She Reads and Books, Movies and Chinese Food.  Many of the writer blogs I follow undoubtedly have an opinion post as well.

Raymond Khoury's The Last Templar is a good example of the division within the Christian market.  This novel would fall into the #2 camp of Christian fiction being peppered with salty language, gritty circumstances and unclear lines of right and wrong.

The Last Templar was marketed towards readers of The DiVinci Code.  Dan Brown, whether you like his books or not, has helped the Christian fiction market by pulling in readers who may not be interested in 'religious books' but who don't mind a religious theme running within the story.

(We won't discuss, here, how the literary factors get lost in a pointless debate of topic concerning whether any of the fiction is based in fact.) 

It would be great if what Christian fiction existed was better marketed, more readily available and easily identified in the bookstores and libraries. 
I'd like to think that within the budding world of internet publishing books will fall along the same lines as music.  Wherein we now can buy single songs for 99 cents and build our own albums, with on-line books we will get better pre-view information, quick and easy search options and better identification of authors and their literary styles. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Ted Dekker Blog Tour Stop

Thanks to Deborah over at Books, Movies and Chinese Food for sharing the application to be a stop on Ted Dekker's, The Priest's Graveyard, blog tour.  I did and I am.  April 15th is my day. 

Avid readers will understand the excitement at seeing my complimentary copy of The Priest's Graveyard sitting in my mailbox.  This is my first opportunity to host on a tour and there is a bit of pressure to represent well.  Declaring myself a writer, readers should expect my review to be well-thought out, full of words that indicate I understand the craft and provide a trustworthy opinion of the material.

In reality I intend to try and stay away from the rambling on, over the top, "I'm your biggest fan" type of post.  I'm thrilled to dip my pen in the ink well next to a well-known author much less offer a review of their story.

Thank you to the Ted Dekker team for letting me tag along.

The tour starts on April 8th with the first stop at My Friend Amy's blog.