Monday, October 25, 2010

A Letter From Apostle Paul

NOTE: This is from one of my writing assignments. I had to write a newsletter from Paul to his followers. I thought you guys might enjoy this.

Greetings, brothers and sisters in Christ!

Thank you for the many letters of encouragement I've received since my arrest. I'm able to bear my trials with even better spirits because I know that you are all praying for me.

My latest public appearance has been before the Roman governor of Caesarea, Festus. The Sanhedrin priests brought charges against me, which they could not prove.

I asserted my innocence, saying, "Neither against the Law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything."

Festus seemed to want to favor the priests. They tried to convince me to go to Jerusalem to stand trial. But I refused, stating my right as a Roman citizen to be tried in a Roman court. I do not fear death, but I will not be handed over to men who will find something to accuse me of, even when they cannot disprove my innocence. Therefore, I appealed to Caesar.

Festus replied, "You have appealed to Caesar? To Caesar you will go."

So, I am on my way to Rome as I write this, to stand trial in Caesar's court. Please continue to pray for me—I am not sure where God has my life going at this point. There is a bright spot in this, however—those Jews conspiring against me cannot touch me, as I am under Roman guard.

Thank you for every kindness and prayer that you have sent my way. Remember me to our brothers and sisters.

In Christ!

Paul

Monday, October 18, 2010

Learning to Listen

I hear it everywhere; Christians write novels to say something to the world. Christian publishers want a "purpose statement" for books. For some time, I rebelled against that. Why, I thought, does everything have to have a "message"? Can't Christians just have FUN? Why can't I just say, "I write because God called me to it, I enjoy it, and I want to give Christians more options for enjoyable fantasy novels"?

Slowly, I started trying to figure out why I wrote, if for nothing than to satisfy whatever publisher I eventually contracted with. Over the last couple of weeks, though, God has shown me why He's called me to write.

I started a Bible study called "Write His Answer: A Bible Study For Authors". It's amazing. I love it, and I'm only a few days into it. The first verse that it mentions as applying to a writer is Habbakuk 2: 1-2: "I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what He will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. Then the Lord replied: 'Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.'"

Oh.

Never mind then, Lord. All that complaining I did? Please ignore that.

I know neither Tolkien or Lewis wrote with a message in mind--however, their beliefs shone through. At the VERY least, my stories should shine the light of Christ. I think some of them will do that and only that. However, I think I understand now what God wants me to show in my stories.

My blog header says it all.

I'm concerned with how lax and conformist Christians have become. That's not to say that I don't struggle with the same things, although by very nature of who I am, a conservative Christian homeschooler, I'm very nonconformist. I want to show a struggle between light and darkness that is very tangible. I want to remind people that evil is real and without being on our guard, we will be struck down. I want to provide people with heroes who look up to the Ultimate Hero.

By learning to listen, I now have direction in my writing. That is a wonderful thing.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Blood of Kings Books 1 & 2 by Jill Williamson

Book 1: By Darkness Hid

Storyline: Achan Cham's name means trouble, and he seems to attract it in large quantities, from getting in fights to falling in love with a girl he'd never be allowed to marry. He's resigned to a life as a stray (orphan and slave), but Sir Gavin Lukos has other ideas. He picks Achan for his squire. After Sir Gavin deprives him of a tonic he's had every morning for his entire life, Achan begins hearing voices--lots of them, both male and female--in his head. Suddenly, everyone seems to take an interest in Achan's life.

Vrell Sparrow is in hiding from an undesirable marriage. She masquerades as a boy stray in the home of one of her mother's dearest friends. Their plans are turned upside-down when two Kingsguard knights show up, claiming Vrell as an apprentice for a master bloodvoicer. Vrell can only hope that her disguise will fool everyone, even the knight who is determined to pry her secret from her.

Book 2: To Darkness Fled

Storyline: In escaping from the false prince Esek, Achan, Vrell, and three Old Kingsguard knights are now in Darkness. They plan to go to Tsaftown to free many Old Kingsguard that have been imprisoned there. Before they can do that, there are enemies to face and fears to conquer in Darkness.

Achan worries about his duties now as the true prince of Er'Rets. The Kingsguard keep talking about how he will push back the Darkness with Arman's help--but how can he get Arman's help when he doesn't believe in him as the only true God?

Vrell worries about traveling in the company of so many men. How will she ever get home to her mother without revealing her secret?

My thoughts: Jill Williamson's world of Er'Rets is wonderfully crafted. The scenery and different cultures make it easy to get immersed in the storyworld.

The characters are also wonderfully crafted. Their thoughts and actions are thoroughly believable and the dynamics of the group in Book 2 are at times hilarious. I especially love how developed all the characters' backstories are, and how the author brought them out. Oh yes, and Sir Gavin's blunders in trying to deal with people made me laugh time and again.

A couple of things I didn't like: while realistic, one or two of the things that Vrell had to deal with while traveling as a boy were a little much. One of the Kingsguard knights is a drunkard and a womanizer. And, there are a lot of tragic love stories--realistic in a medieval fantasy setting, yes, but still, one or two many for my taste. :0)

However, the redemption and overall coolness of the books more than make up for the things I didn't like. Jill Williamson's books are definitely a worthwhile read.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Legends of the Guardian: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

Storyline: Soren and his brother Kludd are just learning to fly when they fall out of their nest and are kidnapped by the Pure Ones, owls who are intent on building an empire. Kludd embraces the Pure Ones while Soren and his friend Gylfie escape. Soren thinks that the only way to save all owls may be the Guardians of Ga'Hoole—but first, he has to find out whether the legends are true.

My Thoughts: The biggest problem I had with this movie was the predictability. I nailed it from the start who was going to be the bad brother and who was going to be the good one.

Characterization seemed a little stereotypical, mostly because of Kludd's immediate connection with the Pure Ones. Everything seemed to move really fast, too, but this film was based off the first three books of the series, so that's understandable. Some may have problems following which owl is which, but I kept track pretty easily.

Other than that, the battles were pretty cool, and the characters were likable. Young kids will especially like Twilight, an owl who fancies himself a poet, and Digger, Twilight's companion who is hyper and supposedly dislikes Twilight's songs. The animation was extremely well done, with plenty of slow-motion to show off the realistic owls and scenery. The Great Ga'Hoole Tree was stunningly rendered.

My only caveat is that some young kids may not be able to handle the intensity of the film. The violence is bloodless, but it includes owls falling into and fighting in a forest fire, an owl being stabbed with a sharp, fiery stick, a friendly owl being brutally knocked around and murdered, and plenty of sharp swords and talons being brandished.

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