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Tools… Tools… Tools! I’m excited and delighted!
(Just don’t laugh at my website!)
This looks exciting Mary. I love to write but sure need a lot of pointers. I have written short devotions, several presentations for groups and journaled. I have been really off track with my own devotions…since we moved. Not an easy adjustment – retirement.
Perhaps this is already included in the word “writer,” but I’d add that someone who wants to write as a Christian ought also to respect language. This doesn’t mean that only people who think they are “good enough writers” should write (who would dare do it then?), but that we should all be trying to learn as we go. No deciding that “it’s just Christian fiction” and it doesn’t need to be terribly good. 🙂
Ooh. I would love to read your thoughts on shame in the life of a Christian. I dream of kids books about confession and absolution and other kid related things but that gets talked about a lot!
🙂 We should compare notes sometime!
I use my nickname in my online activities primarily for safety reasons. However, were I a full-time writer, I would still prefer to publish under a pseudonym. However, I have been surprised at the backlash against anonymity.
For example, when I created booklet on how to read the Book of Concord based primarily on previously published remarks by a well known editor, I wanted it to be free of use/download and hosted it on a website that has the whois information hidden (a prudent practice in domain management). When others, glad for the resource, posted it on their blogs, commenters went to town on the fact that the whois information is blocked and thus anonymous. None of the criticism was actually over the resource itself. However, I am not sure you can separate out the backlash over anonymity and the general tenancy of commenters to tear others down over seemingly little or nothing.
That said, I wish more folk would write and share ideas and resources. And if encouraging anonymity fosters that activity, then I am all for it.
Myrtle, I think it goes to show a phobia against authors seemingly without “proper” credentials. Sigh.
This really resonates! Thank you!
Glad to hear it!
This has me thinking and pondering Mary. Thank you!
I wish I could write a hymn. My attempts at poetry have never gone beyond two lines.
Nevertheless it is an awesome statement. In his next letter, St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, 3:3, “And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” I believe both statements refer to the Words of God in Jeremiah’s prophecy, 31:33, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
We Lutherans may not be overly thrilled to have “the Law” written in our hearts, but the Holy Spirit inspired the Prophet to use the word “Torah,” which, in its widest sense means “the mind of God.” Do you see where this is going? Jeremiah and St. Paul are writing about the same thing, which is truly meet, right and salutary. It is what is written in our hearts by the Holy Spirit when we are baptized.
Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart
Excellent point! Thank you!
Mary, I have dabbled in writing, mostly devotions and a couple of presentations for LWML. I would not consider writing a theological book as I do not have the education behind me to do that. I do try to be doctrinally sound, always showing anything I have written to my hubby before using it. I love reading your blogs!
Thanks, Sharon. I hope I can encourage Lutherans to write in all genres! Maybe you could write a great American (and Lutheran) novel now that you’re retired. 😉
I love the phrase “a sensitivity of thought”! I wish we had more of that these days. Frankly, I have lots I would like to write about, for public, but I think credentials do matter to others. And, being female, and lacking in theology degrees, even the Gospel thoughts I might have remain inside my pen.
Love what you are doing here, Mary. Thank you!
I have never posted anonymously (that I remember) nor have I created a fake profile for commenting, but I do have the opinion that anonymous commenting could, in theory, have a benefit of adding to the discourse without any judgement you/your reputation might be carrying.
We are so quick to tar and feather, these days, and once labeled this, that, or the other, it seems that what is said is less important than who said it.
For example, I have seen, on more than one occasion, someone’s remark castigated because the commenter is a known reader of Forde. I saw nothing inherently wrong and a whole lot gospel-y stuff in the comment, but the commenter really stands condemned for not also condemning Forde.
I read On Being a Theologian of the Cross. I think it is a particularly helpful book in that it adds to the discourse using analogies that are creative and apt (i.e., the addict). I am not saying that everything Gerhard Forde has written is meet, right, and salutary, but no one is perfect, not even Martin Luther. No one is capable of writing everything “right” all the time.
I like to consider Philip Melanchthon in this regard. He really went over to the other side in his later life, but his contributions to the Book of Concord were not stricken and condemned.
I want to believe, even in our online world, it is possible to have words pondered and weighed on their own merit, rather than any notions about the author, but I am not sure we are there yet.
An effort such as this one, a blog that says “Hey, let’s share words and see what we can learn and teach” is blooming awesome! It gives me hope. However, I still have to keep the boundary on my things I read to avoid the comments because I am sure to see the very base nature of humanity instead of the blessing of the life we can live in Christ.
Recently, I heard the word generous used in a new and interesting manner: It was used saying that you will assume the most generous reason for the responses and behaviors of others. I know that might sound like how folk use “best construction,” but I like all the connotations of generous being applied in that manner. It is, I think, a difference between trying to make the best judgment on a matter and starting from a place of understanding rather than judgment. I know, that might not make much sense. I need better words to describe what I heard.
All that is to say that I believe there is a discrete place for anonymity in commenting until such a time when there exists in the online world greater generosity.
Myrtle, I encourage you to write even if it isn’t for the public. 🙂
Thanks for sharing this, Mary!
It’s a lot of fun to see what everyone comes up with (we are accepting submissions through Sunday the 7th).
Are you going to host a Lutheran Christian Writer’s Conference?!? That would be awesome and I would totally attend! I do like the idea of a community of writers. Friends are great, but as they look at your work, they are also familiar with your communication style. Sometimes, it is helpful to have someone who doesn’t know you all too well evaluate your work to make sure it is communicating what you intended.
I’d love a conference! Great idea! I wonder how many would attend, if we really spread the word? Though I sure can’t be organizing that until my kiddos are older!
I am a member of a wonderful online writers group hosted by CompuServe. We come from all walks of life, but are united in our love of reading good books and our commitment to excellent writing. Several of us meet once a year at the Surrey International Writers Conference.
I’ll look into those. Thanks! How did you initially discover the group?
I discovered the group through one of my favorite authors, Diana Gabaldon. She is also a member of the group (and has been since before she published her first book 25 years ago) and generously gives her time and wisdom to other writers. It’s a really great group and open to anyone.
I enjoyed both Parts 1 and 2! I printed them to save and read again in the future. I agree with the premise of the articles, but with the caveat that most Catholics don’t realize that there is such a thing as a sacramental Lutheran these days. :). Along the same lines as those articles, I also enjoyed Andrew Greeley’s, The Catholic Imagination.
Maybe I can read that after I read, Imagination Redeemed: Glorifying God with a Neglected Part of Your Mind. 🙂 Thanks for the recommendation.
For the most part, with nearly all my writing, I set my fingers to the keyboard and see what comes. I’ve always admired those who plot and plan with their fiction and outline and organize with their non-fiction. Even with my dissertation, I sat down to write and two months later finished.
Of course, with all my non-fiction writing (primarily scholarship) I research and then rehearse what I learned with any and all near me, which is why it was easy for me to just sit down and write.
My only unfinished novel manuscript is one I tried to plot. Eight-seven rather interesting pages (to me at least) and then nothing because I was trying to plan. I plan out the wazoo in my real life, but in my literary life, I do best by the seat of my fingertips.
Look forward to overhearing diverse conversations here. Blessings with this undertaking!
May God bless this venture, Mary!
Very timely, coming at a juncture in Western civilization when the sane, balanced, Lutheran literary voice needs to be heard.
Good on you, Mary!! I think what you are doing is giving a forum to people who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity or even confidence to write about things they love or things that concern them. Be encouraged – this is a wonderful venture. One day I may contribute as I hope I have learned some wisdom for my years!!
Keep up the good work!
I am great at this mistake.
I think saying too much often comes from wanting to answer questions or criticisms we imagine arising in the reader’s mind. I can see a hole or a potential hole, so I want to fill it in before someone rips into it and tears the whole thing to pieces.
I try to remember two things: first, a writer has a duty to be clear, but a reader also has a duty to ask questions in an honest way; ie recognizing that ripping for the joy of it is not criticism (which is only worth anything if it is undertaken with intellectual integrity) but destruction. Second, that readers see different holes than writers. The writer just can’t imagine and deal with them all and, as you point out, will make trouble for everyone by not recognizing this.
Also that “Thee We Adore, O Hidden Savior” is nothing like the Summa Theologica. 😀
Frederic S. Durbin ( http://www.fredericsdurbin.com/ ), author of “Dragonfly”, “The Star Shard” and the soon to be released “A Green and Ancient Light”.
Thanks! I’ll add him immediately.
Hmm…my first question would be to ask about the selection criteria. Is it authors certified by a Lutheran Authors Board, or ones that list membership in a Lutheran church in their writer bio, or ones who openly use Lutheran themes in their work? And is it all Lutherans, or only those from those sub-sections that are considered “true Lutherans”?
I’d also like a little more detail on the list than just names. What genre do they write in? Have they written anything I might have heard of? Do they have special qualities aside from Lutheranism that might influence my desire to read them?
The selection criteria is simply living, Lutheran novelist with at least one novel listed on Amazon (so, pre-publication is ok, but only if a novel is near publication). The novels do not need to be explicitly religious in nature and church membership needn’t be especially public. I don’t know of any Lutheran authors board, other than perhaps denominational publishing houses, but, as I said in the page intro., such publishers aren’t typically in the novel-business.
I am the one putting together the list, and I did not ask participants to pass any sort of theological test. At the same time, as far as I know, the vast majority of my list is LCMS, although at least one, Walt Wangerin, is ELCA. I was pleasantly surprised to see that many are LCMS pastors or wives of LCMS pastors. I found the vast majority of them through various Lutheran writing groups, and, given my circles, I’d expect the list to remain heavy on those with LCMS connections, though I cannot guarantee that.
I chose not to include genres, biographies, or specific descriptions, since each name is linked to an Amazon (or other) author pages for additional information. Rather than “endorsing” them, I hope this list allows another way they can market themselves.
At least two, Paul Meier and Walt Wangerin, are famous enough I did not seek permission to include their names, but several authors are doing well enough to have entire series published.
I haven’t read them all. Many I’m just now discovering, too. But I hope I’ve answered your questions satisfactorily. 🙂
Thanks! That’s very helpful. I have different criteria for books that I’m seeking out to read than I do for books I receive to review, so wanted to know the methodology.
I understand. Glad I could flesh it out a bit more for you.
Louisa Koch, author of From the Ashes, is Lutheran (LCMS). It’s a pen name, but it’s my sister. http://www.amazon.com/From-Ashes-Louisa-Koch/dp/0996729496 The book is not religious at all, but it’s a good story.
I’ll add her immediately! I couldn’t recall her name. 🙂
Pen names are totally acceptable and I’m glad she’s writing, whether that writing is explicitly religious or not.
Best wishes to you & your family!
When isn’t my problem. Other than for contests like this one, my problem is “where” to submit.
Hey, I’m going to aim high and post on this subject next Tuesday. In a hopefully encouraging way!
I look forward to it.
Learn how to write a proposal. Many publishers DON’T want to receive a complete manuscript to evaluate. They DO want to evaluate your idea, your writing, your grasp of the audience, and your understanding of the market into which your proposed book would go. A great proposal will cover all these.
The shower! Yes! That’s where I do most of my “writing” these days. I think it’s because I lock the children out.
You mean I’m not the only one who people look at as crazy when I announce the crazy idea I’ve been planning out in my head? And it isn’t a terrible thing to be somewhat ambitious realizing that it is impossible for me to usurp God’s power and providence? Ah….thank you. I needed that one!
Very thoughtful and insightful reflections, Mary. Yes, we are helpless in the face of awful things that happen, and the only words that comfort and make sense are God’s words, the Word. And that may simply mean us being wordless, just being with someone who is suffering and letting the Holy Spirit speak through our silence and love. Our natural inclination is to ‘fix’ things. The intention comes from compassion but we need to have wisdom and discern when to speak and when to be quiet. Our understanding is so limited! The inexplicable will be revealed when we see Him face to face. In the meantime, we just cling to Him like the little children we are.
Thank you, June. Exactly.
Excellent idea! For instance, I have a novella I self published a few years back but then pulled down from the web because I realized it wasn’t as polished as I would have liked. It’s a hard piece to put into a given genre for submission to publishing houses. If I could get it in front of someone or multiple someones who have an eye for editing I would love to put it back on the market.
Science writers who also happen to be openly Lutheran, perhaps.
As long as they are sorted by genre, I think the lists could be manageable and helpful.
Aw, thank you, Dcs. Mary! I am a huge fan of you, period. xo
Thank you, Mary, for your faithfulness to me during times of suffering and for your example of hospitality. You were the first one to come over and greet my husband and me with a smile on our first visit to the sem. I like you.
First off, thanks for your encouraging blog!
As for (dis)organization, I find it easy to get bogged down, which leads to convenient procrastination! 😉
However, my projects are finally much better organized and easier to get to since I started using Scrivener, a writing software program from Literature and Latte. https://www.literatureandlatte.com/index.php
While there is a learning curve at the start that requires patience and attention to detail in the tutorials, I found it worthwhile for each of my projects, including blog.
I was lucky to attend a free tutorial given by Joseph Michaels, which really helped me get started. His website is http://learnscrivenerfast.com/
Maybe you’ll find this helpful too? Best wishes!
That looks very interesting. I’m not sure I can quite wrap my head around what the software does. I don’t suppose you’d be interested in writing a guest post about it? You know, so I can add it to my birthday wish list? 🙂
I have come to love Google Docs. It saves automatically to my Google Drive, which can be accessed from any of our devices, anywhere, anytime. Edit history is also saved.
Jack Prulutsky’s The New Kid on the Block
Paul Fleischmanns Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices
Eloise Greenfield’s Honey, I Love
Judith Viorst’s If I Were in Charge of the World
Naomi Shihab Nye’s This Same Sky
Arlene B Hirshfelder’s Rising Voices
Jean Little’s Hey World, Here I Am!
Another thoughtful post, thank-you! I also like what Jesus said here: “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” – Matthew 13:51 (ESV).
I only met you today, and as a Christian poet who is wondering where my poems fit in the body of Christ, I am very interested in following your conversation. Regret that in reading your father’s blog I hadn’t picked up on his reflections addressed to writers. Need to remedy that!
“Sonnet Sudoku should be a thing” – I love it! I think you’re on to something, Mary… I’m sure you’ll come up with a way to make that work! 🙂
Thanks very much for linking my post here on your site. I’m quite honoured (sorry, yup, “international” spelling 😉 ), and especially thank-you for your very kind, encouraging comments.
Thank YOU for your lovely post. 🙂
Hm.. Your FB link didn’t work for me. But I found it anyway! https://m.facebook.com/whimsicalwecoloring/
Sorry about that. I wonder what went wrong. Anyway, hopefully I’ve fixed it. 🙂
Thank you for linking to this interview! Dana Gioia is a favorite of mine, both as a poet and as a writer. His discussion on the vocation of writing has been a huge influence to me as a writer.
I too thank you for this link, Mary J! I wish I had known about Dana Gioia and his philosophy about poetry long ago; this was truly inspiring!
Sorry, even though I’m Canadian, I admit I could latch on to this “thank-you approach” instead. Kinda like breaking the stereotype, eh? 🙂
Ok, kidding aside, there is much wisdom in this post! Your statement “We present and share sorrow precisely in the midst of giving thanks!” is a handy profound summary. Thank-you for the perspective. 🙂
I like the idea of gracious sayings in the bathroom. I have contemplated hanging up a picture board from Walmart, that has some lines and clips across it, so you could hang pictures, children’s painting and sayings on it, and also change them easily, but I haven’t done it yet. Maybe I will now.
In University, the bathrooms doors had blackboards on them and chalk provided. There could be a nice place to have a good thought and write down without wrecking property.
believe we have good example in Martin Luther, in this regard, too, who is said to have had such good thoughts in cloaca that the reformation was literally launched there… Keep up the good work. 🙂
Awesome! It’s always a good day when Christian meat becomes accessible to God’s people. Thank you for putting in the effort to make this particular steak consumable by all. What a blessing.
Interesting discussion. I was unfamiliar with the Lutheran Writer Project, but checked out a number of its links today. It appears to have only been active for a brief period circa A.D. 2010. It was inspired by a good idea, however.
Just as is “Meet, Write & Salutary.”
I share your wariness about some who would call themselves “Lutheran,” but profess heterodox doctrines such as universal salvation, etc. Still, truly Confessional Lutheranism extends far beyond the borders of the LCMS (individually, synodically and geographically).
In about six months I hope to be able to offer a modest gift to the rostered members of the LCMS. It’s a blogging handbook that I’ve been working on for a while. I’ll be sure to share the word with your readers whenever that day, God-willing, arrives.
I am excited to hear about your blogging handbook! Thank you in advance! Please do let me know so I can raise awareness–and appreciation–when it comes out.
I agree that orthodox Lutheranism extends far beyond the borders of the LCMS. My brother-in-law will be teaching at the seminary in Adelaide, and I have an uncle (through my husband) up in Niagara-on-the-Lake. I think that any solidifying of relationships we can do now, with the like-spirited, one might say, can only benefit everyone. On a Facebook thread in Writing (LCMS) Lutherans, I even mentioned wishing I could include non-English speaking authors on my list of living, Lutheran authors.
You know what. That gives me an idea. I wonder if a communications missionary could do something like that for his/her area (I know a married deaconess abroad with her ordained husband). You may have inspired a great idea! Extra thanks to you! 🙂
Wonderful idea: a site for Lutheran authors.
Please add me to your list: Kathleen Stauffer, writer of inspiration fiction, with five novels published. The latest? DO NOT BE DECEIVED.
Mary, first of all, I really enjoy reading what you write. It is full of images, witty, and worthy. I think a blog site for Lutheran bloggers is a great idea. Of course, I am Lutheran, I am a blogger, so, of course, I would. Sharing the Word of God as I apply it to routine, messy, sad, or fun circumstances is my purpose. God’s word is purposeful. It has given me life….
Like your “life is full of plot development.” …. As the years slipped one into another, I have tossed childhood mementoes: locks of reddish, brown curly hair; a napkin collection; decades-old, small-town news articles from high school events. The very special things (for whatever reason), I have kept. I tell myself they need to go, but I’m not ready… The big question is: why am I holding on?
Thank you, Mary, for posting this.
Blessings on your journey.
🙂 Happy to. Blessings on yours as well!
I’ve never thought of it that way–“some days are just harder than others”–I seem to attribute it to, “I must be coming down with something” or “he or she made me feel bad and now I have to figure out how to think about it differently so I can feel okay about it” or I did something really stupid. Hmmm…. but, when I do think about it, sometimes it is none of these. It is just a down day. This is why at age 68 and having maybe 20+ years of life left, I sometimes look at the clouds and just want Jesus to take me home. The good part of all this is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The Light is Jesus.
I’m going t0 recommend Matilda to my daughters for reading material with their children. Thanks for your insights….
Curiously, my current post is an explanation of why “Vulgar Christianity” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Of course, it depends on definitions…
A prime example of the value of “negative elements,” which you describe so well above, comes in testimonials or biographies. Honest treatments of struggles, failings and restoration are powerful. The Scriptures are full of them, and Augustine’s Confessions always provides an edifying read.
Excellent point and what a happy coincidence!
I have difficulty with too many words, also. I’m assuming we, as writers, have this problem because we LIKE words. I also believe that those of us who write have thoughts going round and round in our heads often. (I was going to say all-the-time.) There are times when I have to visualize a black board in my brain and an erasure making all those mixed and mangled thoughts disappear. Why? I just need a blank head to let God’s thoughts come to me.
I swear by critique groups (figuratively speaking). With a military career, I was in many different groups–where one didn’t exist, I started it. Every group has its own personality or culture, but destructive or egocentric groups need to be avoided.
Not a frequent subject for discussion. One of my favorite seminary professors had been a medical missionary (physician) to Madagascar. He did not believe in demonic phenomena when he went there. That changed radically.
Years later, as a psychiatrist teaching counseling at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, he shocked many a naive (“modern”) seminarian with the news that we had best be prepared to confront such forces during our ministry…
It sounds wonderful to me…I would definitely attend a Bible study with dwelling as you have explained above. I am not the person to write it though. You write so beautifully.
We’ve got some good ideas popping up on my author page on Facebook, if you’re interested in looking there.
Luther’s tremendous German translation of the Bible renders “James” as “Jakobus,” “Mary” as “Maria,” and “Isaiah” as “Jesaja,” for example.
Hi Mary, You have read my book, DO NOT BE DECEIVED, and given a good review. Thank you. I read today’s post about Christopher Mitchell’s book and a free book possibility; I desire to do the same. However, in a larger sense…. Can you help me? Now that my book has done well locally, I desire a larger audience. After prayer and considerations, it seems God is telling me to give away books (lots of them). Can you help me do this through your blog? I am currently googling women’s shelters in different states and sending free copies…If I offer free copies through facebook, I get my local community members wondering why they paid for theirs…. Your thoughts please–and thank you.
Kathleen, 1) if you’d like to offer a giveaway through GoodReads, you can choose as many books to giveaway as you’d like. I’d be happy to share a link or post advertising that here on my blog, and sometimes a publisher is happy to supply books for that purpose. 2) If you’d like to focus on those who may be affected by abuse, I could ask my deaconess friends–there are professional Lutheran mercy workers throughout the USA. They might know organizations/centers/ etc. 3) You can also consider donating copies to libraries, both church and public.
Maybe it’s just me, but I wouldn’t hand them out for free too willy nilly lest, as you said, people who purchased them feel frustrated. You did the work and you can be paid for that labor.
Entering the book give away. Thanks!!
Entering the book give away. Thanks!
Both the original Lutheran Cyclopedia and the online version now known as the Christian Cyclopedia have been a great resource for many years. Thank you for bringing them to the forefront in your blog.
Great addition to your site!
Children know instinctively what adults try and convince themselves isn’t true. Evil is real. There could be something in the dark, under the bed, in the dark closet, down the long dark hall. They know the people who should take care of them sometimes won’t. That’s why fairy tales are important. They remind us that evil can lose. That in fact, evil has already lost. Little children can burn up the witch, or melt her. And that thing in the dark, it’s scared of the light. Especially the light from a cross
Absolutely! So true!
To quote a movie,
Don’t look for a happy ending. It’s not an American story. It’s an Irish one.
-The Devil’s Own (1997)
Write them both, together. Or a least build your world and stories with all of them in mind. If you are the protagonist looking back on a life – all the parts knit together, even if you don’t see it at the time.
Series in general are a tricky thing. I think my advice would have to do with your personal writing style. Are you the sort of person that can outline, and stick to an outline, or do you write and see where it goes? If you can stick to an outline, great! Outline as many as you can and then start writing. If not. (And I never could.) I find it works best to keep a notebook with all my ideas in it, and proceed from there. Most importantly, take a break if you get tired of it. Don’t get to Doyle levels of frustration, and decide to just kill your character off to be done with them. It rarely works anyway.
I agree with Lisa and Dangerosa’s comments. If you can outline, do it! It’ll give you structure and a clear path for your story. I use Randy Ingermanson’s snowflake method, which starts with a one-sentence description about what happens, then expands it step-by-step into an outline. Very easy, and you can get as detailed as you like, or keep it general if outlines tend to interfere with your creativity.
Personally, I love having my outline and then diving into the writing with that roadmap.
Also, I wrote Violet’s Daybreak before I wrote Penelope’s Hope; it’s worked out alright, and I really didn’t even know Penelope had a story until I’d written most of Violet. But if you already know you have two ideas, or two phases of one idea, go for it! Write both or one — whichever you feel led to.
The focus isn’t solely on academic writing, but Grammar Girl makes some good observations here: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/whats-the-rule-about-paragraph-length
I suspect that much of the impetus to write huge paragraphs comes from fear. Some fear breaking the “rules.” Many writers were taught by a well-meaning teacher that it’s necessary that every paragraph needs a mini-thesis followed by supports and data. Every paragraph should be there for a reason, but paragraphs don’t have to stand alone, and no one paragraph has to carry the full burden. Much like sentences, they work best in teams and with variety.
Others fear that readers won’t be able to follow their related points if they’re broken into separate paragraphs. Usually, this doesn’t give readers enough credit. They’re smart people. They’re reading what that author wrote after all! Likely, the author could break it up instantly and make it a faster, easier to digest reading experience. And if the text doesn’t connect when broken into paragraphs at least once or twice a page, it probably doesn’t read well enough in a single paragraph either. That means it’s revision time.
Extending that idea, super long paragraphs can be a result of unintentional laziness. On one hand, if a fifteen-sentence masterpiece is truly all one unwavering idea, shouldn’t be possible to express that idea in seven or eight sentences. On the other, if there are nuances and sub-points within the idea, why not break it up?
Writers of fiction know that the first and last sentences of chapters are prime territory for getting extra attention from the reader. The same is true for the beginning and end of each paragraph in non-fiction. Trust your writing to make your points. Then, use your paragraph breaks as tools to highlight those most important moments.
Excellent comment. Makes me wish that I had more formal, old-school education, to be honest. 🙂 So my own paragraph length could be determined by educated choice rather than my strong preference.
It has been a long time since I’ve read much poetry. Would love to check this out!
Thanks, Mary, for reviewing my book and promoting it on your blog. I hope this book will bring some laughter and tears to other readers. God bless!
It seems to me that some books, like yours, beg for study questions. If a book has a value as a resource for either group or personal study and reflection, including questions should be a consideration.
As for being torn between too many genres… I feel your pain.
Im sure I would enjoy reading this book! And my boyfriend would surely love to read it too!
Thanks, Mary, for trumpeting for my book. You, your blog, and your books are a true blessing to many of us. 🙂
Very cool and very fun–not to mention cost effective. That Katie is a wise woman.
It is a cool thing to do. Katie did this with her first two novels as well. The benefit to the writer is that she or he can hear anything that causes the reader to pause or question and then revise. The end result is a near-perfect manuscript!
Revisions can still be made?! That is brilliant timing! Amazing!
I would love to read this book!
I’d like to read it, too.
Thank you, Mary! I’m so excited! 🙂
This is a lovely post, Mary, and a staggering thought. I shall dwell on this more and gladly.
Of course, it also makes me think of Charlie Lehmann’s beautifully illustrated picture book, “God Made It for You!” which makes it clear that not only did God create all this amazing stuff, but He did it for us!
Thank you, Jonathan.
I love Charlie’s book! Here’s a link for anyone who hasn’t purchased it for their church library and for every child in their life: http://amzn.to/2dqazcZ. 🙂
I’ve used Moleskine notebooks, and now I use the cheaper substitutes they sell at Staples. “Ecole Journals” is what they’re called, I believe, and they’ve held up to my twins from birth to now (almost 11 years).
Oh Mary…I have so many little notebooks with jotted notes. To find the right one at the right time is very near impossible unless I leave it in plain view at all times. It works….some times but I don’t have toddlers anymore who pick things up and hide them or rip them. I used too. You are amazing at what you accomplish with 6 children. I only had 3 and it was hard.
Thank you for the great offer!
I would like to read this free book!
Wonderful! Just send your address and request to disaster at lcms.org! 🙂
My post coming up on the Good Shepherd just unraveled this whole ball of yarn for me. Thinking in the context of Scripture interpreting Scripture, does make it clearer. In Psalm 23 when we declare the Lord is my Shepherd, we really are simply proclaiming a promise rather than a metaphor. He stares, “I am the Good Shepherd” in John 10, as you said- I AM is so much greater than metaphor. It’s complicated by the Isaiah passage I was studying, Isaiah 40:10-11, where God Himself states it as a metaphor. Ack! “He will tend his flock LIKE a shepherd.” The concept of vocation is helpful, this is ONE way that God comes to us in His Word, as well as helps us to see Him more clearly. We can never put Him in a box- real or metaphorical.
Excellent point bringing up Isaiah 40! I wonder if it is an example of like and as having slightly different nuances. Perhaps He will tend as the Shepherd He really is, although I am surely not an expert!
Sure love Scripture. Great, weighty, and interesting stuff!
Yes! I’m not stellar enough with my Hebrew to interpret a nuance. I think I might have a Biblical language guy around here somewhere. 😉
Jesus was and is the Good Teacher. It makes sense that while educating us humans of limited experience, stuck in time and space, He would use examples of what we know in order to give is an idea about the much grander realities. The temptation we face is whether to keep those metaphors even in the face of a culture who does not know the context of what a shepherd did, what the word was like when it was dark, etc…and has a hard time appreciating the literary connections of God being the shepherd or the light of the world. Of course to be faithful, I think it a much easier, more beautiful task to keep the words rather than to create from scratch. Afterall, God ordained a certain time for Christ to come into this world. Perhaps it was a perfect cultural or political climate, but perhaps it was also a time when everyday life experiences such as growing grapes and baking bread made the teaching opportunities and linguistic connections the most universally, and truthfully recorded for all time. Somehow Christ saying “the kingdom is like an android device” or “I am the traffic light” doesn’t quite maintain cultural longevity or universal application as the originals. And as for kids – perhaps we take our job as teacher too seriously. I agree-let Him be the teacher and let the Spirit work faith and understanding in His time in their development and life. I, as a teacher, have been quite surprised at the connections children can make that developmental theorists say they can’t.
Can I recant this comment? I am afraid I said the very thing you are warning about. My bad!
Alison, I’m thankful for your comment and always want you to feel free to speak your piece.
You make a very good point about cultural misappropriation, including the language and metaphors God gives us. 🙂
Thanks, Mary! If I may since I have pondered this this evening while trick or treating… perhaps our words are not in contradiction at all. If we talk about creation- It was In Christ, through Christ and For His sake the world was created. Why couldn’t He be the very reason dark and light were created;that sheep were created and grapes, etc? That those things were created with the intent purpose of providing us finite beings an image of Christ in His eternal authority which would be pointed out to is by God through metaphors in His words spoken through prophets and himself in His earthly ministry. That of course is only possible because, as you say, He IS the very word he says and Has been since the beginning. Not that we can possibly nail down God’s purposes, but it does give much to ponder. It would not surprise me in the least to consider our amazing God creating the world with such attention to detail as to give opportunities thousands of years later for Christ to be unveiled to the world for what He is. Light, Shepherd, lamb of God, Vine…boy this list could be long 🙂
That kind of application regarding an Infinite God is such sweet comfort. 🙂 Thank you.
Yay, a review! Congratulations!
Each one of those–even if not glowing–is like gold to the author. I’ve been peeking in at Operation Actually Read the Bible for a few years now and find it to be helpful and interesting. I don’t agree with everything, but it’s a sincere effort to speak with wisdom in the light of Scripture. (Honestly, I doubt there are very many people in the world who agree with me on everything either.)
Thank you for the share! We look forward to having people share their stories. While we’re not particularly Lutheran as a publishing house, we have a number of Lutheran writers we publish for, and more than one of our books has a decided theological bent. Thank you for your submissions!
I love how you touch on how we create law for ourselves in the midst of this passion! Satan knows my buttons and does what he can to quelch my creating. Let’s keep making time for writing and celebrate when we do instead of feeling guilty about when we don’t! Thanks so much for this!
Hmmmm I wonder if through this site we could end up with a group of peer writers/readers…?
Angie, I would love for that to happen. A few of us have even tossed around possible media to do it, but so far it’s fizzled rather than sizzled.
There may be something to be said for being the Biblical voice in the midst of a confused and crowded group of authors. I agree there are many who seem to pigeonhole you if you show up amongst the Reformed or the Baptists, but I’ve decided it’s their loss. I’m done wandering around looking for only those peers/audience who agree 99% with all I believe. Im trying to reach women who need encouragement in their faith journey and many of those women might be confused or looking in the wrong places. Does it seem like sometimes we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater? Or have I just been in too many discussion that parse theology and condemn the mistaken?
It sounds to me like we are like-minded. 🙂
I’d just hate for writers to be taken by surprised. Speaking out is complicated, but writers get to intentionally weave their way through it.
“Emphasizing church rather than Jesus is wrong.”
This is such a fun list! Bandaids are a staple my mom has used for a while, and I also love raising the clearance bins after Christmas for next year’s stuffers. Pens and pencils, stickers and buttons, and mini craft kits are fun. 🙂
Agree- bandaids, frozen and late night snacks…love it! I bashfully suggest wine. Winking Owl from Aldi- economical, but wonderful. This compliments the spinach artichoke dip and Julie Andrews CD well.
Goodreads, for me, is both good and bad. Anyone can review, or rate, without leaving a reason for their rating and whether they’ve read the book (Amazon has the verified purchase option)…however, it can also be a great platform to connect with readers, and promote books. I personally appreciate reviews (ratings, too, but reviews are icing on the cake) on that site, since for me at least, the vast majority just rate. I also appreciate the feedback on my writing. 😉
As for “romances”….I do enjoy love stories, and I use them in my writing. But (and this is where I’m hoping I deviate from most “Christian Romantic Fiction”), I work on showing God’s working in people’s lives. Working to grow them, to strengthen faith, to teach or guide or whatever is called for in that particular story. I’m with you, Mary….God’s objective is salvation, and books that try to convince people that it’s something as trivial as temporal happiness are disturbing at times.
Sarah, I think you in particular understand my position. 🙂 Romance as a plot tool is one thing, and a fine thing allowing for tension, character development, etc., but romance idolized into God’s-primary-interaction-on-earth “for you” . . . just isn’t what I primarily read. Maybe that’s a good way to describe a LOT of the Christian romance in my local library.
I’m working on this, too. It isn’t a struggle so much for me with writing–I tend to immerse myself in whatever project I have before me. (Though right now, I’m struggling with choosing between two possibilities.) with crafts/sewing projects, though, I’m notorious for starting and not finishing projects. It’s embarrassing, really. I’m working on finishing unfinished things, and just starting one thing.
Thank you for posting this! It’s comforting to hear that I’m not alone with this question. I, too, have several different writing projects going on at the same time.
I wasn’t sure this was a good way to go about it, until I asked my PhD supervisor, a well-known Finnish Professor of Theology and Patristic Scholar, how he manages to publish so much, year after year. His humble reply was that while reading (which he obviously does a lot), he’s constantly collecting information and making notes on several different topics that interest him. Ultimately these notes become books, one after another—in his case, massive theological works on huge subjects. This was encouraging to learn, since this is exactly the thing I myself have been “forced” to do, while preparing sermons and other material for my congregation, writing theological articles—and yes, trying to find time for my wife and four kids!
On the other hand, I keep reminding myself that with this method, it’s easier not to finish projects because while you’re at it, you might as well collect some more information on the topic. Obviously, somewhere along the line you have to find more time to concentrate on finishing the project, too.
Thanks for the nod, Mary. And as far as an author’s page for Amazon… I’ve just never gotten around to it. I’ll get on it.
For the 8 and under crowd: Jon Scieszka. Both Cowboy and Octopus and The Stinky Cheese Man. Kevin Lewis’ My Truck is Stuck and Chugga Chugga Choo Choo. But my all time favorites are still Horton Hatches the Egg and Yurtle the Turtle.
Thanks! We have Chugga Chugga Choo Choo, all tattered with love and use. 🙂
Good Morning, Mary. Thank you for your Facebook page–I just got connected last week.
Thanks for your thoughts on authors today–I agree! More than once I have observed ideas that did not fully blossom until their “time had come.”
Thanks also for the invitation to recommend books for children. Though my own reading and writing run to worship, music and hymnology, I am glad to recommend children’s literature, from my experience as a grandpa!
To many this may be old news, but anything by Arnold Lobel is excellent– both text and illustrations–especially his FROG AND TOAD series. And if anyone can lay their hands on a copy of FABLES, go for it–I buy that one every time I find it, to insure a supply to give away!
Lobel is still much in reprint at inflated prices, but (Deo Gratias) also much available at the used book stores.
The Lord’s Peace to you!
Hello, David. We love Frog and Toad! Now I’ll be sure to add Fables to our list. Thanks!
“Books just seem so respectable—despite so many disrespectable books!” This is so true and annoying! lol But maybe it can help us have a better healthier outlook. I agree, every good idea might not be our defining project, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good and useful ideas! Let’s find ways to utilize the inspiration we are given, even if it doesn’t mean it will result in a life changing book.
Always love gaining new wisdom from the pen of C.S. Lewis!
Good morning! I have been reflecting on this since yesterday–and I think it is a bit of a stretch to interpret it this way. (I definitely agree with your point, but find it better grounded in other doxological Scriptures such as Psalms 138 or 145, Romans 8:28-32 or Ephesians 3:20-21).
In 1 Corinthians 2:1-10, after setting aside human wisdom in favor of the one saving gospel–“Christ and him crucified” (2:1-5), Paul then allows that this same gospel message (of the “crucified Lord of glory”–see Galatians 6:14) can be called “wisdom” also, but that it is God’s wisdom, formerly hidden from the world but now revealed in the cross (2:6-10) Thus the subject of 2:9 (quoted loosely from Isaiah 64:4) is not expansive, unimaginable creative possibilities of God or man, but the one unique, wondrous and inexpressible gift of the good news itself–see 2 Corinthians 9:15), now revealed to believers by the Spirit of God.
A blessed Christmas to you! “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”
David J. Susan
David, thank you for your comment. I see now that what I wrote was unclear and you’ve helped center it on the cross, which is exactly where my emphasis should have been.
My thought now, though, is that as central as the Gospel is, remains, and ever shall be . . . still I think I was thinking about God’s imagination and preparation in terms of the new creation. Yes, He prepares these days for us (like in the psalms), but for me I think about His preparing a place for us, which He will bring with Him in His return (hmm, maybe my words are lacking for this, too) as primary concept behind preparing language. But it was unclear of me to make that presumption. Context is so important, and I left mine too vague! Especially since I was pondering Scripture aloud!
You’ve done a good service for me and my readers and I thank you for it. 🙂 You are feeding my thoughts with good stuff from Scripture and helping me use Scriptural images in better alignment with Scripture.
Blessed Christmas to you, too!
Hi again–thank you for your gracious spirit. As to new creation, you are “right on” with that–right at the heart and core of Christmas! “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
I went ahead and edited the post a bit. I still have a lot to chew on, but hopefully it’s at least better by being explicitly about Jesus. 🙂
Thanks, Mary! I’m glad the book was a blessing. Benjamin loves your children’s book, I CAN HELP TOO. Are the parents illustrations based on you and Ned?
As far as I know, the illustrations are not based on us, but we did chuckle a bit when we saw the couple. 🙂 Happy coincidences! I’m very glad Benjamin likes the book.
It is encouraging! The perspective is valuable. Thank you for today’s reminder.
This is a great idea! And it could fill plenty of books! Not to mention blogs and podcasts. Hmmm the wheels are turning. But will this busy holiday week ever end so I can get back to writing?! Off to another Christmas family gathering. For which and whom I am thankful but also during which I might be looking ahead a little to the list that awaits me at home.
Happy New Years Eve!!
Thank you for supporting your literary brothers and sisters in Christ through this blog. Your generosity is much appreciated.
Thank you for your kind words, Jonathan, as well as for all you do. 🙂
So glad you enjoyed it, Mary! I hope Christmas was a time of peace and joy in your family! 🙂
Hi again, Mary–
Thank you–your excellent meditation on Psalm 46:1 prompts me to take another look too at this great scripture. God is not only our refuge and strength–God is “a very present help in trouble.” That says that out of all possible times to be present, God is close-by in troubled times.
For the world, trouble is a sign of God’s absence, not presence; as the sufferer cries out, “God, where are you?” In troubled times, you and I would just as soon be someplace else, but not God–it is precisely then that God chooses to be present.
So, God is there–but this says even more–that God is “VERY present to help.” This VERY is a “magnifying word” that always carries great weight in the Bible. For example, all God’s creation is more than good–it is “very” good (Gen. 1:31). God’s Word is not just near to us–the Word is “very” near (Deuteronomy 30:14). God is not only great–God is “very” great (Psalm 104:1). So, in time of trouble, God is “very” present–supremely present–over-the-top present–present and then some!
This is none other than the Gospel of the Cross, where God is most present of all–not withdrawing from human pain but identifying with sufferers to the very limit. For in the very worst of trouble, suspended between heaven and earth, the man Jesus trusted God to the very last, and Jesus the Son of God chose to drink the cup of human suffering to the very dregs.
Even more, in the Resurrection this “very” present God is magnified again. For Easter is God’s ultimate approval of the sacrifice of the Cross. Jesus is alive, and in him God declares every believer free from sin, and alive forever.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,
THEREFORE WE WILL NOT FEAR.”
Beautiful! Amazing! Thanks be to God!
I don’t know of anything that includes rhyming verses like you are talking about, but there is a memory book to accompany the CPH school curriculums. It includes age appropriate verses and portions of the catechism.
My six-year-old has the books of the Old Testament memorized! They sing a song listing the books every time they get their Bibles for their Bible lesson. Classical education at its best: memorization in a practical, meaningful way.
Thank you! All encouragement is highly appreciated! 🙂
This is just exactly what many of us needed today!
“…we can divide and conquer so naturally since some want to write devotions, others studies, and then there are novels, articles, textbooks, histories, biographies, comic books, hymnals, etc. We can all have a part to play.”
Yes, with ebb and flow within each area — including curriculum writing! All so true.
Yet in all things He causes us to persevere, strengthened yet again.
This is wonderful. I’m so glad you received that call! I was just reflecting on valudation yesterday. It can be the mechanism to launch us into more good work! Although in your case, don’t lengthen your long list too much! 😉
I feel ya! Not that our kids are sick, but balance is hard. Husband, children, friends; house, work/writing; volunteer and mercy efforts….but God is faithful. And He’s doing His kingdom work, so rest in His grace. I’ve found that times of rest are usually followed by times of renewed energies, if I keep leaning on Him. Whether those times last days, weeks, or years. Sometimes we’re in a season of family needing more energy; sometimes we can pour into writing or other things. Praying for strength for you and forward movement! 🙂
I prefer realistic characters, but I think in some stories it could possibly distract from the plot. The writer can’t force the characters to display a flaw just to display it if it’s not pertinent to the story arc. That gets distracting. Of course, trying to strike the balance so my readers both see my characters as realistic while not showcasing their flaws so much they stop caring about them…. that’s the difficult part for me. (That and keeping secondary characters from feeling like flat stereotypes….. sigh.)
I’m a huge fan of character development. It’s usually central to my plots, when I plan them (whether that’s a positive or negative, I’m not sure)…maybe it’s part of being and introvert and the amount of introspection that comes with that territory. For me, though, a book with a character who goes through something that would in most or all cases change a person, only to have that character the same, or nearly the same, at the end as at the beginning–it ruins the book for me. Without growth, there is no life.
To take it a step further: without growth, there is no LIFE. Inside the analogy of God having grafted us into His Son, a graft shows it has taken by continuing to grow. Likewise, we continue to grow. Sure, there are winter-seasons, where growth has all but stopped; but there are also times of great growth–often through the adversity of the stuff novels are made of.
I guess that was a bit of a ramble! 😜 Thanks for your post! Good topic. 😊
Between my trilogy of novels (released in 2012) and my non-fixtion work (released in 2014), I have a total of 22 Amazon reviews. I have a few more reviews on blogs and such, but it’s hard to get a sense of how your work is received. Even those to whom I gave free review copies let me down. Of course, as a self-published writer with a full-time job, I just don’t have the time to market my work or solicit reviews more than by word of mouth. At least I’m not counting on writing for my livelihood.
I went back and checked your reviews. I’m really surprised “Lutheran Purgatory” hasn’t had more! I mean, I know people often don’t review novels–though this serves as a reminder that I should read yours–but non-fiction? Non-fiction should be reviewed as a community service.
I will be reviewing soon! Blessed is just the kind of book that I read more slowly, and I won’t do you the disservice of reviewing before I finish!
But, I haven’t, and absolutely should review the children’s books we love and adore.
Can I also say, though, that it peeves me that your books aren’t listed as written by you in Goodreads?
You’re kind, Jen. Thank you. I mean it.
I’m a little confused though. Aren’t my books under Mary J. Moerbe? HOLY COW! CPH set up another profile under Mary Moerbe. Huh. I’ll look into this. Thanks for letting me know!
Blessed comes up on Goodreads listing Christopher Mitchell first.
I can’t attest to the effectiveness, but LibraryThing has a program for giving early copies to potential reviewers.
I am working on a Capstone project for completion of an MAR and deaconess certification at CUC in early May. My deaconess supervisor, Kristin Wassilak, suggested the book you mention in this post. If it is still available, I am unable to see on the lcms website how I might request one. Thank you for any help in acquiring one of these books.
I actually look up book bloggers in my genre and, like the publishing companies do with street teams/book influencers, ask if they’re interested in being on my “team”….if they are, I email them an ARC, etc. If I can someday, I’d snail-mail bookmarks, etc, too, but I’m still small potatoes right now. 😉
I’ve had this exact same problem. (And I know many pastors struggle with it in sermon writing.) Many sections of Scripture are so packed full with goodies, it’s impossible to give them all the proper attention without losing the narrative thread.
In book or longer study format, that’s one of the advantages of having things like sidebars or perhaps a special feature page where a couple paragraphs are given to each topic in something like “Three More Points to Ponder.” You can still find use for points you had to remove from the main text for flow and clarity. Short of doing a whole section or mini-study on each topic, it at least introduces the conversations so readers can continue them on their own.
I love this idea, and will be praying about it! Not sure at this point if I can be involved, and I’m wondering whether it would be a Charlie OR me thing, or if we could manage to both attend.
OOhhh, this makes me think registration should be flexible, allowing one person to attend per thinger. Then maybe you could take turns and I could have what I really want–the chance to spend time with both of you! 🙂
For those of us who don’t travel, could we maybe add a “virtual attendee” possibility for the biggest gatherings at the conference?
Great idea, Lisa!
Brilliant! I would attend just to meet everyone in the flesh. I would be happy to help in planning/organizing/promoting and anything else.
Some thoughts in immediate reaction to your interesting proposal.
1) starting from scratch is a huge challenge, perhaps it could be “attached” to a preexisting event, such as:
— the LCMS sponsored conference you referred to
— a regular conference like the Mt. Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference in CA…
2) St. Louis is central and would make it available to the densest LCMS communities, but it would also most like keep folks like me who live far away at home… at least during the formative years where our attendance would actually be the most valuable to building momentum…
Robert, what do you think, in addition to piggybacking with another event, would draw people to travel?
You also used the expression “LCMS sponsored.” I hadn’t quite thought in those terms, nor do I know whether the St. Louis sem gathering has. I believe it’s a rather intimate gathering. I guess any planning committee would need to look into what would qualify as LCMS sponsorship. I suspect it would ultimately be a free conference of sorts, a place for discussion rather than authoritative stances.
These are certainly things to seriously consider. Thank you.
This is exciting stuff. I think I’d also love to see a fiction-writing component: maybe what makes a Lutheran writer’s fiction unique? Or something…I think the virtual component for those unable to attend in person would be a big undertaking, but certainly worthwhile. Yay! Excited to see where this goes…
Absolutely! To all of that! 😉
Really interesting article. Thanks for sharing it.
Interesting piece–thanks for sharing!
I think the author may define “what Christians should write” a little too narrowly (not all truth is uncomfortable, even though truth is complicated), but still, good points.
Yeah. It was entirely an accident the post went live on a Saturday and without commentary from me. Whoops! 🙂
I’d love to access the presentations online or, depending on when this could become a reality, help out and be there in person!
Glad to hear it! 🙂
Good Morning, Mary.
As I have been reading your blog posts for a while now, I have come to appreciate your always cheery and practical approach, also to Scripture. In that connection, your idea of “Systematic Bible Studies” is a good one–like the (former) “Lutheran-cyclopedia” but with specifically Scriptural focus. It is a good, useful idea (though not an assignment I would personally relish).
I would only underscore something you already know well, but which bears repeating: that the real subject of every Bible study is always Jesus–that is, it is Jesus who fulfills (= “fills full”) every Scripture. This is very Lukan, of course–see Luke 4:21, Luke 16:31, Luke 24:44-49, Acts 8:35–but I contend also, most Lutheran. It is what we have always meant by the “soteriological function of doctrine”–what Paul means by “taking every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
In short, no matter where a Bible study ever begins, it should never end short of the Gospel of Jesus’ cross and resurrection.
Thank you for all you write!
Absolutely! Thank you for your comment! Everything in Scripture fits within the broader framework of the Triune God at work for us through the Incarnate Christ/ the Word!!
(As a theological aside, isn’t it pretty awesome that there is the Word of God, which is Jesus, yet the Word is also the Trinity’s united voice toward us? Truly fills me with awe.)
Agreed–I think that’s basically what Jesus is saying in John 16:12-15–and Yes, awe is the only meaningful response. Imagine what it would be like, to “eavesdrop” on that great “intra-Trinitarian” conversation?
These are scary topics! I never would’ve thought of them, but now they are percolating along with plot-bunnies for stories that I think somebody else should write because I’m better as a reader than a writer…
Love this, both as a fiction-writer and as a Bible-studier. 😉
Thank you for your blog post today, which brought to mind something I wrote years ago for CPH’s Strength for the Day, in 2003. Here goes, slightly re-edited:
The Word of God—Pure and Genuine
With God, there is no “fake news” or empty words—the Word of God is genuine and pure—always.
In human relationships, words can mislead and deceive. We know all too well how it feels to be hurt by empty promises . . . what it’s like to despair of someone and say, “he never does what he says,” or “she never keeps her word.”
Such empty words and broken promises are like fake silver that may even shine attractively but is in fact a sham—words that seem true but are not. In such a world of sham, God’s Word is like sterling silver–it has the mark of purity on it.
The psalmist describes this “sham world”–a tabloid-like domain of empty words and broken promises—a place that sounds remarkably like the world we live in today. “Everyone utters lies to his neighbor . . . ‘With our tongues we will prevail–who is master over us?’ . . . Vileness is exalted among the children of men.” (Psalm 12:2, 4, 8).
God’s Word is qualitatively pure, genuine and true. Despite our growing information technology and greater quantity of words, if the words are false or vile or destroy human community instead of building it up, we have less and less truth! When words do not praise but curse God . . . when words tear down human relationships instead of building them up, then they have lost the very purpose God intends language to serve.
We human beings still deny God in arrogance . . . we still lord it over one other . . . we still manipulate truth—so it’s all too easy for us to lose confidence and cry out with the psalmist, “the faithful have vanished from among the children of men.” (Psalm 12:1)
In such a world of sham, the Word of God shines like pure silver: “I will now arise,” says the LORD. “I will place (the poor) in the safety for which he longs.” (Psalm 12:5)
This is God’s own Word of life and resurrection–“I will arise!” For the purity of God’s Word, like sterling silver, is the Cross—not jewelry of metal, but the truth of Christ crucified, and believed in the heart. For on the Cross, God’s Word is proved true in action—like silver fired in a furnace, heated to the limit, “purified seven times.”
Do we experience trials that burn like fire? For sure! Know that Jesus has been there for us, hanging on the Cross.
Has your faith and hope ever been tested seven times—right to the limit? Know that Jesus has been there too, suspended between heaven and earth.
Do the encouraging words of others even sound empty sometimes, because those others have not been where we are . . . have not experienced what we feel? Know that because Jesus has been where we are—even to death—that God’s pure promise will always stand the test of believing.
Jesus is there for us, his promise stamped with the sign of the Cross and confirmed by the Word of the living God, “I will arise!” Like sterling silver, God’s Word proves pure, trustworthy and true.
“The words of the LORD are pure words”–no sham or impurity of any kind. In response to that pure Word of the cross, we trust God and pray with confidence, “You, O LORD, will guard us forever!” (Psalm 12:7)
All of which also puts me in mind of one of Luther’s earliest and (perhaps least known) hymns, “Ach Gott, vom Himmel, sieh darein,” St. 5:
As silver tried by fire is pure / From all adulteration,
So through God’s Word shall men endure / Each trial and tribulation.
Its light beams brighter through the cross, And purified from human dross,
It shines through every nation. (The Lutheran Hymnal # 260)
Thank you, David, very much. 🙂
This is a great idea! I would definitely be interested in reading the book. If it be His will, may the Lord provide you with the time to write it!
Although, really, maybe I should admit my talent may be more in ideas that getting projects done (especially how I wish they would be)!
Anyone who can make it happen is welcome to the idea.
Great reminders. I love how God uses literary devices in actual real life! (Or rather, God created parallels and we called them literary devices! lol)
This is a wise idea and I think could sell well too. We spend too much time settling for fuzzy distinctions simply because it’s easier not to explain the differences. You should write this!
Thanks, Jonathan! Though I think I’ll let someone else tackle this one. 🙂
I too think this would work well. It also put me in mind of (an old) sermon from 2001 on Luke 12; I hope you don’t mind if I attach the whole thing!
THE MEANING OF THE TIMES Pentecost 11 Luke 12.49-56 se010819
Did Jesus really say ALL THAT?
“I came to bring FIRE to the earth . . . What STRESS I am under . . .
Do you think that I have come to bring PEACE on earth?
NO—but rather DIVISION . . .three against two, and two against three . . .”
The tone is so DIFFERENT, say, from the Christmas gospel we know so well:
“Peace on earth, good will to all…”
It’s safe to say we’re not talking about anyone’s FAVORITE Bible verse here
I doubt any of us has ever seen someone in the crowd at a football game
holding up a sign that says “Luke 12:51!”
A reading like this in the lectionary is a real CHALLENGE—
(sometimes it challenges preachers to find a different text to preach on!)
What are we to make of Jesus’ words here about “Fire…Stress…Division?”
Well, Rule No. One for understanding “tough” Scripture is this:
Begin by checking OTHER verses where the same words show up,
to see what we can learn. When we do that,
it becomes clear that this FIRE is NOT a fire of destruction.
Remember back in Luke 9,
how Jesus’ disciples James and John wanted to call down fire
in order to “fry” a whole village for their sins?
Jesus put a STOP to talk of that kind of fire!
Instead, from the story of Jesus’ RESURRECTION in Luke 24,
we learn that what Jesus is talking about here in Luke 12
is the FIRE of the Gospel itself.
Recall how on Easter day, the Emmaus disciples exclaim, (Lk 24.32)
(“When JESUS was SPEAKING to us on the way)
were not our HEARTS BURNING within us,
when HE was opening the Scriptures (about his suffering and glory)?”
“Were not our hearts BURNING within us…!”
The Gospel message of Christ crucified and risen—
THAT’S how hearts “catch fire”—
even hearts which had been “slow to believe” . . .
For even as these disciples hurry to Jerusalem on that Easter day,
IMMEDIATELY, like WILDFIRE, this faith quickly spreads to other hearts—
even in Jerusalem, where the Holy Spirit will soon confirm the message
with Pentecost wind–and FIRE! (Acts 2)
So this FIRE Jesus longs to kindle in today’s reading is NOT
a fire of destruction—this is the fire of the Gospel message.
And what of the BAPTISM Jesus speaks of, and his stress concerning it?
This is NOT John’s baptism in the Jordan–here Jesus means
the baptism of his SUFFERING AND DEATH at Jerusalem–it is his CROSS.
On an earlier day Jesus had told these same two–James and John–
that they too must one day drink his cup of suffering,”and be baptized
with the same baptism (of death)” that he himself would face. (Mk. 10.39)
St. Paul likewise calls baptism a “drowning,”
and connects it with death (Rom. 6).
So Jesus’ STRESS is understandable–at the prospect of violent death.
Jesus’ baptism here is his CROSS.
And what of Jesus’ word here about peace and DIVISION?
This is NOT the sword and division of religious warfare and the Crusades.
Indeed, Jesus IS born to bring “peace on earth”—as the angels sing—
but even there in Luke 2, we heard a warning to Mary
that he will also be “a sign that will be opposed”—
for NEVER will Jesus be at peace with wrong-doing.
By refusing to recognize Jesus, Jerusalem’s leaders reject
“the things that make for peace.” (Lk. 19:42)
Jesus is in conflict with all who are at peace with wrong.
Yes, he is crucified…but his death is NOT a peace treaty with the world.
And he LIVES…
to offer forgiveness and peace to all who will receive it and be changed.
But where he is refused, there can be no neutrality–division is inescapable.
So what DOES this whole challenging Gospel say?
On his last journey to Jerusalem, for a third time Jesus is saying
what his mission there will be: the CROSS.
His death and rising to life will cause FIRE, he says:
the fire of hearts that burn with faith in him…
His cross and resurrection will cause DIVISION–division
that inevitably comes, because some believe in him, and others don’t.
Division, in families?
Indeed–I knew many a man or woman in Korea who came to church alone
because no one else in their Buddhist household believed.
But then you don’t need to go overseas to find that.
Pastor Dennis Bolton of Columbia, South Carolina writes this:
“Christians (in the United States) know about division in their own families.
Just ask the wife who brings her children to church
while her husband sleeps or plays golf.
Just ask the mother (or father) whose children never set foot (anymore)
in the church where they were raised.
Just ask the college student who attends church alone
while roommates sleep off their drunken stupor.
Many people understand very clearly
that to follow Jesus may divide their families.” End of quote.
In this Gospel today, we are invited to do the very same thing
every other Gospel reading urges us to do:
Jesus invites us to fix our gaze on the CROSS,
and use the CROSS to understand “The Meaning of the Times.”
“The Meaning of the Times”—this is critical, both to disciples, and to ALL!
Luke specifically notes, “Jesus also said TO THE CROWDS”—
crowds which we heard earlier numbered in the THOUSANDS (Lk. 12:1):
“When you see a cloud rising in the west,” he says,
“you immediately say, ‘it is going to rain’ and so it happens.’
And when you see the south wind blowing, you say
‘there will be a scorching heat’ and it happens. You hypocrites!
You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky,
but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”
When it comes to the weather, even without sophisticated equipment,
even the average person is alert enough to observe what’s going on,
and act accordingly.
If you see clouds to the WEST in Palestine,
you know that rain is about to come in off the Mediterranean,
or that when the wind blows up from the great desert in the south,
intense heat is on the way.
Jesus bemoans the HYPOCRISY that knows how to forecast the weather
but pretends not to notice or to understand social realities.
Nowadays you don’t even need to go outside to observe the signs–
all you have to do is to turn on the television or check the internet.
So, to church and society alike, Jesus says:
“This is common sense, like the weather–it’s not rocket science.
START FROM THE CROSS–observe the cross and the values of the cross:
sacrifice, community, forgiveness, compassion.”
Do not ignore “the appearance of earth and sky”–
Look at yourself, look at others, look at the world.
Observe the meaning of the times:
Compare Jesus’ cross with the values of our culture:
a society where only the individual matters
and community counts for nothing;
a society addicted to personal convenience, casual sex and quick cash;
a society that amuses and entertains itself
with insult, violence and contempt for weakness.
We are all of us implicated in this world.
THIS is the world with which Jesus is NOT at peace–
and just like his cross was not a peace treaty with the world,
so our BAPTISM into Christ is NOT a peace treaty with the world.
Our Baptism, remember, was that time and place that
we “renounced all the forces of evil,
the devil and all his empty promises”–
the time and place we were united to Christ
and the FULLNESS of HIS promises!
THIS is “The Meaning of the Times”–of ALL the times,
“as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.”
There never is a time for business as usual—
EVERY MOMENT is a time of Christ’s gracious presence for all who believe.
NOW is the time for the Word and Table of Christ crucified and risen,
to warm and fire the hearts of God’s people
to living in faith and the values of the cross.
Now is the time for the Spirit of Christ to renew and rededicate us.
Now is the time for change, for repentance, for words, for actions.
Now is the time for faith, for love, for hope.
Now is the time to follow Christ.
THAT is “The Meaning of the Times.” Amen.
Pr. David J. Susan Immanuel Lutheran Church Madison, WI
You are always welcome to post sermons! I appreciate them! 🙂
This is a hugely important subject… and a hugely difficult matter to address. Yes, a solid biblical study on this subject would be invaluable.
I like the idea! 🙂
“Sanctuary cities” are indeed a valid issue for God’s people, an issue which, as you say, requires much in-depth study (by Lutheran lawyers, jurists and statesmen smarter than I!). What does cause me at this point to support the idea (and to give thanks that my home city of Madison, WI is a sanctuary city–though currently there is not even a “hard definition”) is that I take Jesus seriously in Matthew 25 when he says we should welcome the stranger. We are not talking about foreign felons here–of course, like any criminal, they should be prosecuted. But the President’s order calls for picking up not only foreigners with criminal charges against them, but even people merely suspected of illegal acts–a “net” which is far too broad in my opinion.
Thanks for raising a very timely issue!
I have a pretty specific view of respect. I distinguish it from courtesy, which should be extended to all… until they have trampled on it. Respect, on the other hand, needs to be earned.
This is easy to illustrate in a military context. I respect people of all ranks because they (1) are serving their nation, and (2) have accomplished something by surviving boot camp. I respect the “office” of those appointed over me (i.e. senior personnel whose orders I am required to obey).
When I meet someone new, I “assume” they are due respect for these reasons and render it until they prove otherwise. If they prove to be bad people, I still respect the office, but do not pretend to respect them as people.
As for being created in the image of God… they have his love and my prayers. However, I do not respect those whose actions are worthy only of contempt.
Congratulations! I look forward to seeing and sharing it.
“Out of our hands” does feel good, doesn’t it?
Just submitted a proposal package for a secular writing “prize.” My writing sample skillfully* balancing environmental and Christian concerns. We’ll see what comes of it. They don’t announce for another month, and I have no idea how many entries they normally receive.
It’s only the second writing “contest” I’ve ever entered. I was actually inspired by the parameters of the guidelines, and may pursue the book project even without their support.
It remains to be seen whether the prize judges will agree; I’m not optimistic, since to a secularist, any mention of God sounds intrusive.
I’m always amazed how inspiring guidelines can be!
I’m thankful you found this opportunity and inspiration. That sounds like a great project and I hope you will pursue the book project either way.
Wishing you all the best.
Another one to check out:
Emma Squire is an LCMS pastor’s wife, and she has free printables and other resources, including a devotional journal that can be printed for free or purchased on Amazon or Lulu.com.
Way to go Ruth Chinery. Keep challenging yourself. Homeschool kids will rule the world someday. I can’t wait to read this book.
Nice! I can see this being very appreciated (not least by people wanting a gift to take to baby showers).
This is such a good idea. I definitely think there would be a market for it. Meeting people where they are is crucial!
This would be an extraordinary tool. Cool thing is that if 500 confessionally/doctrinally sound Lutherans wrote a book like this, EVEN IF we included the chapters you mentioned, they would be different. The teachings would absolutely remain the same, but the approaches to the conversation could be intricately unique.
Greetings! I like the way you expand on ideas for Bible studies like this one on daily bread–and though I am not up to the full scope of all that you have in mind, I can add a little on the “yeast” or “leaven” of the Pharisees.
According to Matthew 16:12, it is their teaching. According to Mark, it is their hostility (Mark 8:15 in light of 3:6). According to Luke 12:11, it is their hypocrisy. All of these traits are negative–and decidedly harmful!
A blessed Eastertide to you and yours!
Thanks! I always appreciate your input!
I love ideas for Bible study that have such practical application and use. In the busy world we live, sometimes it is difficult to connect the mundane to the holy, the day-to-day with our eternal reality. Anything that will bring these connections to light is so helpful in life and in Life! Good, good thoughts, Mary! Maybe this would be a good collaborative effort if you don’t have the time/energy to dedicate to it presently? 🙂
It WOULD be a great collaborative project! Does that mean you’re interested? 🙂
This looks great!!!
The Lord’s Supper would be a great addition to this study as well. God not only provides physical, normal, everyday bread, he provides the bread of life! In, with, and under physical, normal, everyday bread 🙂
(And it would also make a great connection back to the session on the Passover.)
Thank you for highlighting another worthwhile topic for Bible study.
Just writing to mention that the “Bethel Bible Series” (originated at
Bethel Lutheran Church here in Madison) is very good on the history
of the two Israelite kingdoms.
The Lord continue to bless you, and make you a blessing!
I’m thankful to hear something good is available! Is that available through bethelseries.org or is it a different Bethel? Would there be any sort of link to it?
Unfortunately, Bethel series materials cannot be ordered “ala carte.” For quality control in teaching and retaining the material (a regular discipline of a teaching pictures and pattern of study), a congregation must enroll in the program and send people for teacher training. It is a high level of commitment, but the material is good enough to warrant it!
You may want to check with “Crossways,” an Australian Lutheran Bible study series with similar methods–their material is good too, and they may be more open to sharing it apart from the structure–I don’t know.
The middle of June–just in time for some summer vacation reading. 🙂
Love this! My 11 y/o wants to be an artist, too, and has for a while. While she’s changed what she wants to do in addition to art (ballerina-detective, zoologist, art teacher, professional artist), she’s always had a deep need to create things on paper. 🙂
One assumes that a book review blog site would know that a “cursory glance” doesn’t make for a credible review. The book stands on the merits of its scholarly research — which is being highly praised in LCMS academia. Perhaps actually reading it would be a good starting point for an intelligent review.
I have responded to this comment via email, clarifying that this wasn’t a book review as much as an announcement about a new release, and I hope I can provide some positive review links to the book, both in my original post and a new one.
I think that like much of life, reading and writing have a seasonal ebb and flow. A few months ago, I was reading a lot, but not writing so much. These days, I consider myself fortunate if I can squeeze in a half-hour of reading on the weekends; but I’m also writing a lot more.
To explore further, sometimes our season is reading for research, and sometimes for our personal edification and growth. Sometimes it’s reading parenting books or reading children’s books to those that make us parents. Sometimes it’s not a season to read, but to be present with our little ones or a friend or family member who needs the extra time. God is weaving it all together into a beautiful design, using different threads and colors and it all has purpose and meaning in Him.
Whew; sorry about that–I got caught up! 😉
A. Trevor Sutton is a good one.
hi Kelly S; I think of you every time I see one of your pieces of art. when Christmas rolled ’round n then Good Friday and Easter came upon us, I again wished I could see you. the concert and your show in St. Louis made an incredible Spiritual impact on me. I am a lover of God today as never before Kelly Schumacher. I do believe this is exactly why He put you in my life when He did. I can only hope that my love of others will be a reflection of His Love for me today and always. maybe next time we meet I will afford a larger than postcard sized piece of your special works of art? be Blessed, “G”man out.
I have long believed that the LCMS Council of Presidents is the Illuminati. But I don’t think that will sell novels.
Oh goodness, this sounds like a great idea! Mind spinning with possibilities…
I’ve been toying with ideas along these lines! Love it!
When I was going through an extended period of sleeplessness, I looked in the Bible for stuff on sleep. I’m sure there is more than I remember, but I don’t think I found much. However, there is one verse in the Psalms — sorry, I’m not much help here as I can’t remember the reference — about promising sleep to His faithful. It made a difference. At that time also, instead of being annoyed that I was awake, I turned it into prayer time. It’s now automatic if I’m awake in the night, I spend that time praying. And, the blessing is that I usually fall asleep before I’m finished praying. 😀
And, I don’t think you are reaching. It is one of those things that we take for granted. And it is a coming together of the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of ourselves in a way over which we have no control. Raw truth about our lives can be found in those sleepless hours, I think. As for how much is too much, write it and get opinions. I think people will tell you what is too much. Just a thought. 🙂
Thanks, Kathy. 🙂
Thank you, Mary!!! I love writing along women such as yourself. The fellowship of asking questions, writing, and studying around the Word together is a gift!
We generally do still stay all the time to the end!
Lovely thoughts. Thank you.
As to staying at movies, since I was a teenager, I always felt the same way (though my parents didn’t necessarily). It seemed the least I could do to acknowledge those who’d worked on the movie. Fortunately, nowadays, the popularity of end-credits bonus scenes makes it a tad easier to justify it to those I’m with who don’t want to stay otherwise.
My parents still do this most of the time!
This is really helpful to remember with writing- the vocation of it, the nameless service of it.
I did this with my most recent work and the publisher ended up taking both on. The publisher’s advice for board books was to feature one or more of the following: repeated texts, rhythmic meter, no more than 4 sentences. It was also encouraged to think of each spread rather than each page. I thought this was helpful information. Any other treatment of the subject matter would be better for another audience. With that said, board books are HARD! Limited word count, big concepts, limited vocabulary and limited pages!
Thank you for the review, Mary! I especially appreciate that you call it a “non-smutty romance.” Yes, there is such a thing! God’s blessings to you and your family!
Thinking that C could have been another word or D could have been another word, can also be used as a great springboard for deeper communication with children, especially as they get older than the “normal” ages for ABC books. “Can you think of any other liturgical words that begin with a C?” This can be a great conversation starter or a wonderful way of reviewing what goes on in church on the way to church.
Ooooooooh! Sara, I like it! NICE!
This was encouraging to me. Thank you. I’ve been too scared of rejection to submit anything, but this gave me a new perspective.
Excellent! And I have more encouraging articles to come next week!
I love it! Dive in! For me I know I will regret it if I don’t. Why not?
Go for it!
Writing always seems to be standing on the edge, anyhow! You may as well fall forward as backward. Let me see, can I mix up anymore metaphors into something unrecognizable?
Start your new thing. Race with it. Plow through the miserable parts that all writers have. Set it aside. Look at it again. THEN decide.
Nothing is lost. You have learned through the process.
Thanks Mary…I hope we get to meet soon as well!
I sent the show save-the-date card to your father. It’ll be the mountain of mail to sort through when he gets home.
Have given this book away probably a dozen times to folks who have come to worship and have wanted to know more about Lutheran spirituality. Try to reread it every couple of years.
Thank you for these well-ordered thoughts, Mary! I also appreciate your tab on this subject. We are working through the elements of your recommendations!
Pastor, I hope the tab in particular can grow more helpful with time. 🙂 Blessings to you & yours!
1) Whether the book is “self-published” is neither here nor there. After all, Luther “self-published” his 95 Theses. What matters is the scholarship it contains, (which of course assumes a degree of educational and intellectual acumen on the part of the reader). To that end Baudler’s scholarship in Lutheran Reformation history and theology is truly superb and remains without academic challenge in the 11 months since its publication.
2) While the book mostly targets the ELCA’s false narrative of Martin Luther as a closet-Catholic, it also takes on the LCMS’s reflexive mantra of “What does (C.F.W.) Walther say?” asking instead, “But what does Luther say?”, taking the reader directly to him. This book is truly outstanding, and even humorous,(though not an easy read) and I recommend it most highly! Best fifteen bucks I’ve ever spent.
Wonderful to hear!
On your first point, what you say is true. I just don’t understand why there were two separate–and different–Amazon pages with differing information.
You can borrow my copy now!
This is a good question. One that makes me think finding a good agent is especially beneficial. Now, they would know the answer… and they would be able to advise which publishers might be complementary (rather than competitive), etc.
You mention your children’s books. I’ve got ideas for several picture books… and I have a very talented artist I would like to illustrate them. I know that publishers are supposed to almost universally want to use their own illustrators, but I’m wondering which publishing houses might welcome a quality book that’s essentially complete? I don’t really want to self publish them, but would like to see some good advice on the subject.
Perhaps you can post on the subject, or at least point me toward something on this subject that’s already available?
Our indie Publisher considers complete projects. It is very possible that others do as well, although I am learning that it seems we are in the minority. For our part, in many ways this is easier for us because we have limited financial resources (which are presently all tied up in the other projects we are developing and publishing). But since our raison d’être is to be an alliance of classic archetypal narrative Authors as much as we are a Publisher, we enjoy working with Authors who have the capacity to take a lot of (or most of the) responsibility for their own projects.
All this stated, we still like to discuss the particulars with the project head so that everyone is on the same page about the project as well as how our Publisher works (and also the process of the printers we use). I imagine other Publishers like us would also expect a similar dialogue at the least. If a Publisher’s submission process is not clear, do ask them. Even if they do not accept such submissions, hopefully they will clarify this on their website for future projects to see.
Hi, Mary. A few thoughts for you, until your dad comes home:
It does not matter how many publishers you have. Be true to what you know to be true. Never compromise just to “be published.” I love your dad’s books and could not tell you how many (or even which) publishers he has.
You are a young writer and a young mother. You know children, because you are raising children. You know what they need to hear and how they need to hear it. Your message of mercy in vocation IS your genre, both inherited and personalized and shared. We need your children’s books. (If you had more, we would have included more in the Simply Classical Curriculum!)
You mentioned in a previous post this week that you could write more “quick” children’s books. Do not take this for granted. Many (most) of us have dreamed of writing children’s books, but we never have. If you can do this right now amdst your own manifold merciful vocations, please do this. It is your art and a blessing to the rest of us.
Even as you encourage us, we are cheering you on in your vocations which will serve your writing, no matter what form your writing takes or who publishes.
Here is a homily that I preach most years on Michaelmas, which we observe every year on the last Sunday in September. The homily is divided into 9 parts, with hymn verses in between. The first three sections of this homily agree with what you are saying; the emphasis on the angels as messengers in key moments of salvation history, and their love for heeding God’s word and will, are impressive! The holy gospel for Michaelmas — Matthew 18:1-10 — makes major connections here!
That is a very interesting homily with information on angels nicely collected. Thank you for sharing it!
Dr. Strickert states his idea with his traditional level of tact. 😉
Thank you for the review, Mary!
I recently read a book about the composition and enduring effect of A Christmas Carol. I’m pretty sure it’s the most evil thing written in the Victorian period and has almost single-handedly destroyed Christmas.
That being said, it’s a brilliantly crafted story, and I’d love to read something that tries to redeem it.
What book did you read? Here I thought “White Christmas” was blamed for the downfall of Christmas “culture.” 🙂
It’s called “The Man Who Invented Christmas.” I can’t remember the author.
I can’t get CPH to look at me even for Lent or Christmas services, much less my fiction or non-fiction. I’d be happy to publish with a non-Lutheran house, but my writing is pretty Lutheran-focused. Since I have no plans to make a living from my writing–I donate all earnings from my non-fiction book to charity–I’ve grown content with self-publishing. We’ll see what happens when I publish my hymns.
As for what I buy, obviously a pastor needs resources beyond what CPH offers.
There are lots of good reasons to eschew CPH as both a writer and a reader, but unfortunately, they do have a corner on the market on some products. CPH is a highly politicized corporation, and that fact should always be kept in mind when you deal with them.
Well, gentlemen, no publisher is perfect, that’s for sure. Still, I’m thankful for as many who affirm the resurrection of the dead as possible! Especially those who can also publish about the Sacraments.
I hope you both keep writing! 🙂
Wonderful to hear about this resource! Thank you!
Thanks, Mary, for your “encouraging word” in this time when such are “seldom heard”–especially an encouraging word of God’s providence! Reminds me of the way Tolkien puts those encouraging “glimmers of hope” into LORD OF THE RINGS–in the most trying of times especially.
Could you feature multiple characters? Like a different child or family or part of world for each illustration? Or stick figures (think Marxhausen’s “Heaven is a Wonderful Place” illustrations) or just very abstract art?
I’ve been thinking about this too, mostly as a parent and reader. I love the way Kloria Press’ *God’s Own Child I Gladly Say It* uses the pictures to tell a complete story (even though small children may not realize that the rapidly-aging protagonist is the same throughout the book unless an adult points this out). To me, it makes the book more powerful for all ages. Yet perhaps part of this is due not just to the overarching story, but to the fact that tremendous thought went into choosing the *right* pictures. A lot of religious children’s books can seem a little. . . lazy? forgettable? lacking in artistry?
All of which to say, a lack of overarching visual story (if arrived at after careful thought, rather than being a default “easy” choice) may well *be* the best and most powerful use of illustrations for a given piece. But I think the bar for choosing this kind of thing needs to be a lot higher. Otherwise, a series of “unconnected” pictures can simply be an adult “explaining” a concept to a child–often in a slightly condescending way–instead of one human sharing artistry and thought with another. If that makes sense.
Surely, though, there are ways beyond plot to thoughtfully tie something together? The seasons of the church year? The symbols found throughout a sanctuary? Anyway, there are my ramblings. 🙂
Thanks for your kind words about our book, Anna. 🙂
For what it’s worth, when we began each of our hymns (including ones still in progress), we always started thinking we would just illustrate each phrase. It’s certainly simpler to think of illustrations that way, and simpler for the artist too. But somehow, through the storyboarding process, we’ve always ended up with a storyline and characters.
I can think of two major things a storyline (or other unifying feature) provides:
1) It forces the book to conform to the genre. And in the case of picture books, that usually means stories, or at least coherence in time and characters. (There are also non-fiction books for children, but by and large these seem to be mass-produced for libraries rather treasured in home libraries.) So having the storyline places the book firmly in picture book territory.
2) Although the ultimate goal may well be didactic, parents (or whoever is doing the reading) may tire of reading a book that doesn’t have this level of thought put into coherence and illustration. And if the book doesn’t have that charm to be read again and again, then the learning won’t be reinforced by repetition. Think of the early Pixar movies, which presented meaning at multiple levels; it makes them (slightly) less painful for adults to watch over and over again.
Even if you’re not an artist, try grabbing some images off Google Images to put with each spread. Print it out and then see what it’s like to read to your own children a few times. See if they ask it to be read again. See if you tire of it. You won’t send your mockup anywhere, but that extra effort can provide valuable insights for polishing a manuscript.
Hopefully that’s helpful in some way!
After thinking about it a few days, I think the answer to my ponderings is this: theology isn’t abstract. Pictures for theology can simply be those in need of that specific application. Right? At least that approach is working better for me now with this draft. (Phew!) Illustration ideas are so hard for me sometimes.
I really appreciate this conversation as it touches on the much bigger idea of theological writing for kids. Is it more effective to write a good literary book where the reader builds a relationship with the characters and where the character’s life experiences and decisions inform their own lives just as a conversation with a good friend would, or is better to present a doctrine/idea/point and explain it in a kid friendly way? Perhaps there is a place for both. Perhaps “good” and “better” don’t have a place in this discussion. Surely the first option is a very difficult one to achieve without seeming cheesy or with an agenda, and it is sometimes safer to opt with option #2 in being straightforward and honest. Yet, as mentioned above, it may lack the “treasured home library” vibe that we associate with memorable books of childhood. I think this very topic is worthy of continued discussion as we pass on our faith to our children, honoring their humanity and desiring to continue to put books of truth, beauty, and goodness in their path.
I agree, Alison. 🙂
It’s interesting to me how “necessary” pictures have become now. I may be grumpy (ok, I AM currently grumpy) from my current struggles trying to imagine pictures, but, ya know, the original Scriptures weren’t illustrated! lol Those Scriptures were for kids, too!
Our society is definitely more visual than the oral/auditory societies of the past. And of course we have a special interest in preserving spoken/ heard words. Yet, in our quest to give an answer for the hope we have in this present age, to what extent does our rhetoric conform to the communication patterns that are used now?
In addition to considering how much of a communicating factor illustrations have in relation to the text, I think we can also consider what they communicate about how we see children. I think children are capable of appreciating real art and I enjoy seeing that in picture books. Kirk, the illustrations in A Mighty Fortress is Our God are AMAZING for that reason!
Take heart, Mary. Jesus–the Word Himself–wrote nothing that we know of (except those few words in the dirt . . . “hypocrites” or “stuffed shirts,” maybe– John 8:6). And it was Solomon in his wisdom who wrote, “Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” (Ecclesiastes 12:12).
Mary, I just love your posts–so real. My seven-year-old daughter writes and illustrates “books” (several pages of copier paper folded and stapled together) almost every day, and it makes my heart sing! Last night my nine-year-old was copying Bible verses into a book he made (complete with a computer clip-art picture of Jesus on the front) for Team City Bible, a club he and his friends made up—blatant plagiarism, but I’ll take it 🙂
Thanks for your encouragement for Lutheran writers, your resources, and your ideas. Your posts bring a smile to my day.
This story makes me smile! Thanks, Mary and Mary! My 12-yr-old grandson writes and illustrates adventure stories. His “bound” collection dates back several years. Encouraging children to write turns them in to great readers and thinkers (according to me, anyway). I certainly wouldn’t discourage a young writer from submitting. ;-D
Well, THIS sounds familiar! Mary, I am through 14 of my daughter’s 29 chapters of her first fantasy novel that she wants published. (She’s writing #4 in the series right now.) She is also getting peer review; one of her friends from choir camp is now reading it. So we are a little more on the way. Thank you for your help and encouragement in the past. — JG
Can you have a main “Lutheran resources and crafts” page with links to the separate pages? Then the outside resources could keep the same link, but you could split your lists…
And sorry to hear about your knee. 🙁 hurt my foot pretty badly last winter, and it just throws everything off, doesn’t it?
And (I’m working backwards here😳) yay for the Lutheran writers!
This would be a wonderful resource to share with my pastor husband! Thank you for hosting this giveaway!
How cool, Mary! I also have a couple 1920s novels from my grandma that CPH put out, one called Natalie and the other called The Land of Sunny Days; both are authored by G.L. Wind. So fun to discover all these!
I could read through your manuscript and offer ideas.
What is your target age group?
It’s another picture book, probably for four and under.
Ah! Mine are all too old, too!
Congratulations on having another book almost ready to propose. That’s always exciting!
If by image ideas you mean illustrations/pictures, then you can relax a bit. Unless the illustrations are essential to telling the story (like when they are telling a secondary story also, contradicting the text, or making a very specific point that would likely not occur to the illustrator) most publishers don’t expect the author to give illustration ideas for every page (CPH is usually fine with it either way). In fact, I’ve heard from many, many agents and editors that they prefer for you to keep the art notes as minimal as possible. I have two manuscripts (one pubbed and one not) that are exceptions to this, but usually that’s the way of it.
Oh, and I agree–finding readers who will give the feedback you need in the way you can digest it is challenging indeed, especially for kids’ materials. Good luck and God bless!
Thanks and thanks for the tip, too, Jonathan! 🙂 Wishing you well, also!
So true and makes me chuckle. Words are the best, The Word…even better.
So interesting! I’ve noticed this trend, too, and have yet to participate. My hesitancy has more to do with my own difficulty with follow-through with things like this. Maybe that’s why I need it? haha
Really helpful ideas in this article! Thank you!
I was always a little uncomfortable with “Pilgrim’s Progress”. I think the title caused me to read the book as legalistic. But then after reading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, “Celestial Railroad” I re-read “Pilgrim’s Progress” and was able to appreciate it, and see it from a different angle.
Would you recommend “The Celestial Railroad”?
Oh yes, it’s one of his short stories. I appreciate what he is doing in writing against transcendentalism.
1. Look back through the Rightly Divided blog that Bryan Wolfmueller and the Around the Word guys do. Find Job. Their daily comments were excellent on that; I took notes. Many of the days, they have a one-sentence summary of what is going on, and it’s a nice overview. Sort of when I learned from John Kleinig’s commentary how to read Leviticus: many of the chapters are: 1) God speaks to Moses and Aaron. 2) He tells them what to tell the people. 3) They tell the people.
2 The People’s Bible volume on Job was done by longtime Bethany Lutheran College (ELS) Prof. Rudy Honsey. It is worth its weight in gold. He was such a Gospel-predominant, cheerful, kind, God-fearing man, and all of this comes through. His section on “I know that my Redeemer lives” is so great, he is not afraid to diss the NIV translation that the series uses, and showed me what “when my skin is destroyed” really should be, which shows that the hymn Jesus Christ, My Sure Defense, gets it right.
3. The very completely totally absolute best book I’ve ever read on Job is “The Book of Job” by Ludwig Fuerbringer, a thin little book CPH published back in the 30s. It was really a pastors’ conference paper. But he presents it as a book that belongs alongside the pastoral epistles in teaching how to do Christian counsel in suffering. He does a thorough job in only 73 pages. I’ve photocopied it to give to friends.
I have two girls ages 3 and 5 who would probably be willing to offer feedback 🙂 Let me know!!
Woo hoo! Thanks for the offer! You’ll hear from me. 🙂
My genre was kinda easy for me to find; I’ve loved historical settings for as long as I’ve wanted to write, and my grandmother got me into Christian Fiction with a 1920s CPH offering entitled “Natalie”. 🙂
Praying that the publisher is positively disposed towards your work!
Thanks! I’ll likely be disappointed, but there’s more than one publisher out there! 🙂
Oh my goodness, Mary, get out of my head! 😜 I’ve been thinking about the blogging and the conferences a lot lately, too!
Interesting thoughts to consider!
I think that for me, my identity is connected to “writer” so far as it is a vocation…I have a ton of other vocations (wife, mom, daughter, friend, committee member, coordinator–connected to my “real job”–and saying that writing isn’t my real job twists my spine, but until it brings in enough money not to need a “real job”…if it ever does…well, it is a real vocation, but not a job…maybe? haha), but writing is kind of like a heart-vocation. So is “wife” and “mom”, but writing is what pulls at me and demands I stretch myself beyond comfort…and it spills into other vocations, too. Forcing myself to speak at things like LWML rallys or retreats, as a writer, pushes me to be more bold than I naturally would, and that boldness carries into, say, evangelism committee or being a neighbor.
So (and sorry for the ramble-y, thought-process-y reply), I agree that writing can be dangerous if SELF takes over motivation, but keeping it as a vocation in my mind helps more than I probably know with keeping “self” out of it. For the most part, because we’re all sinful. 😉
Thank you for these thoughts, Mary!
This is a good reality check. I am struggling with the latest transition in my life and how it involves less of the writing I want to do. I definitely find identity in myself as a writer and I’m pretty sure it is a double-edged sword. I appreciate the reflection here and the feeling that I’m not alone! Thanks for sharing, Mary. <3
Fascinating thoughts, Mary! Since I knew what it was, I’ve felt a little outside of popular culture, so maybe that’s why I enjoy writing stories set in the past. But working to influence culture, rather than merely strive against it? How intriguing! And really, it makes so much sense, especially from a Christian perspective: let your light shine.
What a great reminder! I went through a time in life that I desperately wanted it to be time to write, but it just wasn’t. A few years later, it was. To everything there is a season. 🙂
This is a good, practical series on “Law/Gospel”–not only for writers, but also for preachers. (And “Yes,” it is too bad that Peter Jackson left out that whole essential part of Return of the King when the changed hobbits bring back change to the shire.) Living the Gospel of Jesus is more than ethics–but it is most definitely ethical. Thank you!
Thank you, David!
Hi, Mary! I meant to say after your first Lenten resources post, and forgot, that I have a series on my blog right now on the Gift of Repentance…mostly looking at what Scripture says about repentance; ie what it means, how it happens, how it’s a gift from God that leads to forgiveness…and some other stuff. 🙂
Thank you for a creative, Christ-centered idea. I think it resembles what Isaac Watts (1674-1748) first did for English hymnody by “expanding” Old Testament psalms in order to “urge Christ” (to use Luther’s phrase). Good examples from LUTHERAN SERVICE BOOK are # 832 (Psalm 72), # 814 (Psalm 103) and # 903 (Psalm 118.24-26).
Building on the above answer, wouldn’t such an undertaking be what hymns are, and in particular those hymns which paraphrase the psalms?
Below is the list of psalm paraphrases from ELH, converted to LSB/TLH numbers where possible. TLH also had a list of psalm paraphrases like this.
1: Blessed Is the Man (ELH 457)
12: O Lord, Look Down from Heaven, Behold (TLH 260)
23: The Lord My Faithful Shepherd Is (ELH 368); The King of Love My Shepherd Is (LSB 709); The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want (LSB 710)
24: Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates (LSB 340)
31: In Thee, Lord, Have I Put My Trust (LSB 734)
32: Blest Is the Man, Forever Blest (TLH 392)
37: Thy Way and All Thy Sorrows (ELH 208)
42: As After the Water-Brooks (ELH 462)
45: How Lovely Shines the Morning Star (LSB 395)
46: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (LSB 656/657)
51: O Thou That Hear’st When Sinners Cry (TLH 325)
67: God of Mercy, God of Grace (TLH 20); May God Bestow on Us His Grace (LSB 823/824)
72: Hail to the Lord’s Anointed (LSB 398); Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun (LSB 832)
78: Let Children Hear the Mighty Deeds (LSB 867)
87: Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken (LSB 648)
90: O God, Our Help in Ages Past (LSB 733)
98: Joy to the World (LSB 387)
100: All People That on Earth Do Dwell (LSB 791); Ye Lands, to the Lord (LSB 808)
103: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (LSB 790); Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven (LSB 793); My Soul, Now Bless Thy Maker (LSB 820)
117: From All that Dwell Below the Skies (LSB 816)
118: This Is the Day the Lord Hath Made (LSB 903)
119: How Shall the Young Secure THeir Hearts (TLH 286/LW 474), O That the Lord Would Guide My Ways (LSB 707)
124: If God Had Not Been on Our Side (TLH 267)
128: In House and Home (TLH 624)
130: Out of the Depths I Cry to Thee (LSB 607); Out of the Deep I Call (TLH 327)
137: Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart (LSB 708)
146: Praise the Almighty; My Soul, Adore Him (LSB 797)
148: Praise the Lord, Ye Heavens, Adore Him (ELH 64)
I’m thinking this would also be good enough for ADULTS. WE are the children who seem to most problem with forgiveness…
Good point, Lisa!
I laughed out loud at, “It’s almost…gasp…a self-regulating system.” So true.
Your doctrinal review is probably better than Synod’s. The Lutheran Study Bible passed, for example, even though it says that God may not have actually turned the Nile into blood.
I was disappointed they retained that.
I am meh on these blog-growth gimmicks. Having been a blogger and a writer for a while, and having implemented some of these blogging tips in the past, I’ve found they aren’t worth the time and effort required. I prefer to see blogs grow organically — by forming relationships with readers or other blogs and getting the word out that way. But I’m not exactly a blogging or writing success, so obviously take my opinion for what it’s worth 😉
I just love your pen! Write away!!
On of the most inspiring pieces for me from Dr Mitchell’s commentary reads something like this, “The Song of Songs is best read two young girls on the laps of their mothers, just as the Proverbs should be read to boys and a laps of their fathers.” The Song of Songs has many faces and so much insight. I really believe that no phrase from it can only be understood one way, while it still holds clear and pointed messages of the Truth of Christ Jesus. I’ll be excited to see what you come up with. I’m working on a six part youth series that takes from Altogether Beautiful and directly addresses a younger audience for this beautiful book. Probably not as young as your daughter or concepts, which would be an awesome resource to have. We hide this book away and miss learning from it’s beautiful world pictures of our Creator, our Redeemer, a Spirit who dwells in us, and our relationship with them and as the Church together. So much of the Song is relational, well, all of it! We would do well to share it in relational contexts! (#altogetherbeautiful #redefinebeautiful – Sorry, couldn’t resist!)
That’s a great comment from Dr. Mitchell.
Heidi, your youth project sounds GREAT! I sure wish you and I could meet for coffee regularly. 🙂 Coordinate efforts. Maybe I can send you a draft when I figure things out further.
Yes! It’s nice to see someone else’s list so I know I’m not the only one. I hate the scattered feeling but I’m not sure how optional it is this side of heaven. Great list. Keep us posted on how you tackle it (i.e. allotting a certain number of minutes/work sessions per item, etc)!
I second the need for useful resources for our girls! You both have great insights for us to utilize. Prayers for all of us raising daughters and thinking about how to write for them!
This is forever my struggle. The list of things I WANT to do – mostly involving writing or relationship building (that’s my phrase for processing with like-minded friends lol) – is SO long. Meanwhile my more pressing vocations call. It’s so hard for me to focus in on what is the best use of my time as far as writing goes. When it comes down to it I really want to encourage others in the context of the Gospel, so some days that means more time on FB and others it means getting a blog post out (finally). But I’m never satisfied with how much time I have and I’m always looking for more. On the other hand, I can easily intimidate myself with the scope of my projects and avoid them altogether! Clearly I have more than one issue getting in the way.
#writerconfessions #probablytmi 😁
Of course I love your vocational aspects! While reading this, it reminds me that some seem to pit vocation and passions for writing, etc… against each other as if they are competing, yet I often think of Beatrix Potter who wrote stories for her niece (or was it her nephew?), of Robert Louis Stevenson who wrote Treasure Island for his step son and Thorton Burgess and the author of Thomas the Train who wrote stories for their sons. James Herriot’s writings were just journal entries of his daily work. These individuals used writing in their vocations and the stories/entries just so happened to be enjoyed by all! I think you said it a long time ago, that we are all writers and encouraged us to write for the good of those immediately around us! I have and will always remember that encouragement! Thanks for encouraging us to use our gifts in our vocations!
I think that’s why I enjoy well-researched historical fiction so much. There are lessons to be learned from times of war, times where disease was more rampant, times of adversity very different from our own. Yet, yet, the struggle of hunan suffering is so very similar and there is truly nothing new under the sun. It teaches but connects. My favorite modern historical fiction is All the Light We Cannot See. I highly recommend it for beauty and for many a life lesson. Also Insert shameless plug for Sarah Baughman’s upcoming title here… 😉 Mid-range chikdren’s fiction is done if the best fiction too and has so many lessons- The War that Saved My Life, anything by Cynthia Lord, and The Mysterious Benedict Society series are some of our favorites.
I suppose as a writer and user-of-words you have read Susan Sontag’s Illness_as_Metaphor, perhaps even the updated one that also has essays on AIDS language.
Thank you for giving your readers good things to think about biblically! On the concept of time, in Romans 13 Paul seems to say that time does not “move” out of the past into the future (which we think is “normal”), but rather time is actually coming toward us from the future. “Salvation is nearer to us now than when we began to believe” (Romans 13:11)–so future hope in Christ already equips and strengthens us for the present.
grace and peace
Here in my arms
whose present intent
is only to suckle and sleep
but whose fertile brain
is gathering sound and touch
are seeking to focus
beginning to recognize.
Here in my arms
latent discoveries and inventions
seeding from language
words finding meaning
in more than pitch and tone.
may Hope flourish
and outgrow my nurturing arms.
a poem I wrote a few years back, thinking of the young moms I was mentoring through MOPS. Offering it for encouragement.
Ahhh, thank you for sharing!
Stephenie Hovland is an excellent communicator and I’m sure this book is encouraging! 🙂 <3
What a great idea, Mary!
What is your reference for the Luther quote at the beginning of the article? That passage may hold some clues.
Agreed that some vocations are not found in Christ, but Christian parent is certainly a vocation found in Him. Brokenness and sin are evident in every vocation and Satan works hard to attack us in our vocations and cause us to question our calling. Many times he uses our feelings to lead us astray. Remember at these times our assurance in our status as a baptized child of God. We may not feel holy or set aside for specific service and we may not feel loving or loved. Our feelings don’t invalidate the calling.
I have three sons struggled many times as a parent. Some times I felt disconnected from my wife or kids emotionally but then I would be reminded that they really belong to Him. On some occasions I was more than willing to let Him come and claim them (J/K). Sometimes I had to remind myself of the vows spoken at their baptism, that I would raise them in the faith.
The promises of baptism and vows of a wedding can easily be broken, but we pray each day that the “wicked foe would have no power over us”
I’m super-excited, too, Mary! Thanks for sharing here! 🙂 Can’t wait for everyone to “meet” Heinrich, Marlein, Brigita, and the gang…though I suppose that’s not a terribly accurate term, history-wise. 😉
Thanks so much, Mary! Hope you enjoy it. 🙂
Last Summer of Eden is on my summer reads list this year too. Along with a freakishly long list of books on the science behind emotions that I can never quite get on top of. (Sigh)
“Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up” is a good one that I just finished not too long ago. A Pastor friend recommended it to me in response to a larger conversation concerning the mission field of the pews. He was using it in his Bible Class hour and it raised a lot of heated discussion. One would think that those attending an LCMS congregation would rightly understand the person and ministry of Jesus. Some have adopted culturally manufactured facsimiles despite what is being preached on Sundays. The Pastor opened my eyes to the thought that there is a mission opportunity in the pews every Sunday that needs to be recognized and addressed. We can’t assume a common understanding of even the basic tenets of the faith.
On one hand, it is very, very sad to think the congregations are also an ongoing mission field. On the other hand, ha ha, doesn’t it remind us to REMAIN in the Word, actively giving and receiving it and God’s other churchly gifts? It isn’t really a surprise that we keep relearning the same good things over and over again. Thanks be to God that He continues to come to teach us exactly through the Real Jesus, the Gospel, and faithful proclamation and administering of His gifts!
There’s always a hope of what you want readers to take away from your novel, as a writer—but when it matches so beautifully with what readers say they took from it? It’s amazing. So, thank you!
These are such good thoughts! I think romance is tricky. I myself really enjoy stories of people falling in love. The nervous, not-quite-sure feelings of new affection are fun for me to read (or write) about. But you’re right that there needs to be more than just the falling in love.
When I first started plotting the novel, I was going for a fluffier romance. But as the characters became more real in my mind, so did their struggles and heartache. Kind of like when you’re transitioning from acquaintance to friend to close friend. You learn more about one another – joys, struggles, triumphs, and heartaches. And you can’t have the closeness – of friends or of characters – without the deeper knowledge.
Thanks again, Mary, for your wonderfully insightful words!!