AslansCountry.com did a nice job describing the C.S. Lewis Literary Festival, comping up this October in Petoskey, Michigan.
AslansCountry.com did a nice job describing the C.S. Lewis Literary Festival, comping up this October in Petoskey, Michigan.
Several years ago, I did an interview about Lewis and Tolkien for the Mars Hill Audio Journal. The folks at Mars Hill make it easy to purchase the MP3, CD, or cassette of this interview and others.
It's a wonderful resource. Here's a link:
My church asked me to write and record a short video giving some thoughts on Genesis One. Here is the text of my talk:
Genesis 1 for Glenkirk Church August 2010
When I look at the first few chapters of Genesis, I like to pretend that I am Steven Spielberg, I like to think about how I would make a movie about something as great as the very beginning of ALL creation. It’s so epic, so dramatic, so huge in scope, and there’s so much spectacle. It’s like something George Lucas would do, or Peter Jackson. It’s all larger than life, like Cecil B. DeMille or something. I don’t know: maybe it’s a job for Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay and James Cameron all put together.
Think like a director: the earth is formless and empty, and darkness is over the surface of the deep. The Spirit of God is hovering. There is a swell of music, and the air trembles. You hear a voice say, “Let there be light!” And the light separates out from the darkness.
Planets emerge, big ones, small ones, and stars are kindled in the dark night sky. Sweep your camera in closer to one small round planet: And there’s that voice again, and it calls forth the land, and puts limits on the shores of the sea.
That voice. It’s the majesty of command, it’s a mighty warrior King who calls the shots, who calls creation into being and then orders it around. It’s a great big God a great big scene. You can almost hear the background music: you need something huge like that crazy sound track from the opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
So in the beginning, in Genesis, all creation gets called by name and sorted into its proper place. Then things really get moving. Plants. Fish. Animals. Living, breathing, squirming things all over the place. It’s all fruitful and it’s all multiplying, and God is loving it all and declaring it good.
So in my movie, in my movie in my head, right here in the story is where there comes this big dramatic pause. We’ve been watching all this creation bursting forth across the canvas of the universe, and then, without warning, the volume comes down, all the activity does a slow fade, the camera slowly swings up through the clouds into the sky, and there’s a little group of angels, white robes, big ol’ wings, looking around amazed and awed and sorta expectant: it’s as if they are all thinking, “Wow. Now THAT was really cool. What could possibly be next? “
There’s this pause. In my movie, it’s a really l-o-n-g pause. It’s almost a little awkward, that big old pause, and these angel guys are getting a little impatient, because all this has been so spectacular, so big so loud so extravagant. Things have just kept getting more interesting and more complicated and more and more beautiful, and now all of them are holding their breath because they know the finale is coming and they know that this is going to be something good.
In my movie, God smiles, and then he says something utterly astounding: LET US MAKE MAN IN OUR IMAGE.
The Hebrew word for make that is used here is a-sah. It is the most ordinary average everyday word there is for making things: it’s like make a cup of coffee or make a sandwich or make a paper airplane or make a campfire or make a snowball.
A-sah a very ordinary word. But here—in Genesis One--it’s used to describe a really extraordinary project. God makes something that he says is really spectacular: he makes people, male and female, men and women, and God says that people are somehow a whole lot like him.
Created in the image of God. In the opening sentences of Genesis we’ve seen mountains and seas and planets and stars and whales and lady bugs and redwood trees all coming into being at the word of the Lord. They are all amazing, and God calls them good—but he doesn’t say anything about any of them being created in God’s image. God’s image isn’t like his reflection in a mirror or his shadow on the ground. It means “according the same pattern.” People are patterned or modeled after God in some way that is unique, unique among all created things.
This idea—that people, all people, are created in the image of God—is so important that it is repeated four times in two verses.
In Gen 1: 26, you have the plan, “God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.”
Gen 1: 27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
Bearing the image of God isn’t something based on my behavior, it’s not me on a good day: God’s image is woven right in to the fabric of my soul. It might get hidden, it might be obscured, but it’s there underneath all the time. It’s not some special status that I accumulate by good deeds or good behavior. And it’s not something I can lose if I happen to have a bad day. It’s there from the beginning, in the way I was made.
But I get stuck when I think too much about my own ability to be a living reflection of the image of God. C.S. Lewis helps me out a little here. In a famous sermon called “The Weight of Glory,” Lewis said that it is overwhelming for us to think too much about our own nature. So he encourages us to practice thinking constantly about the worth and value of each other. To practice it. All day, every day, I come across people—in my neighborhood or grocery store, at the gas station and at work, in my living room and in my church. And every single one was made in God’s image and bears something of God’s likeness in a way that is different from any other big huge amazing things that God has made, different somehow, and more spectacular than the mountains and the seas and the stars in the sky.
I’m sure I don’t know all that is wrapped up in this big idea of being created in the image of God. But I do know that for God, it’s very personal. And God is very hands-on in the process. And when God looks at what He has made, he declares that the result is very, very, very, very good.
This November, Jim Miller and I will be working together to present a series of talks about C. S. Lewis and Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Save the dates: 11/2, 11/9, 11/16, and 11/23. Details will follow.
I just received this information on the upcoming C. S. Lewis Foundation Retreat and Writer's Conference, coming this October. For more information, check out their website: http://www.cslewis.org/programs/regional/sw/2010/retreat/registration/
The Weight of Glory: Reflections on Longing and Belonging
Come to beautiful Camp Allen in Navasota, Texas, to hear plenary speakers Dr. Malcolm Guite and Dr. Louis Markos reflect on C.S. Lewis’s renowned sermon, "The Weight of Glory," and illustrate his insights into “glory,” “longing,” and humankind’s relationship with God. Speakers and performers for this event will include:
Along with the retreat, don’t miss our second annual Writers Workshop, featuring a rare appearance by Randy Alcorn, author of over 30 books of fiction and nonfiction. The workshop, Writing Past the Watchful Dragons, will include a variety of speakers, including writers, editors, and agents.
I recently completed several projects on Lulu.com, and overall, I am very pleased with them. The books look very good and the turn-around time is fast. They do a brilliant job of boxing your books: the packaging is very sturdy. I especially like the flexibility of their service: you can place your early orders conservatively and then simply order more books in small batches as you have need. Still, there are a few things I wish I had known:
1. The website is slow and complicated. Everything you need is there. Somewhere. But it can really take a l-o-n-g time to find out a piece of information or to figure out how to make something work. The company is designed to be user-friendly, and, in general, they succeed. But the website itself can be a trial.
2. Customer assistance is essentially non-existent. I appreciate that they want to keep costs down, but if you have a serious difficulty, it can be tough to resolve it. I had a batch of books that was defective (the print was pale and grainy and the cover was askew). The good news: they resolved it by replacing all of the defective books at no charge. The bad news: it took hours of emailing and explaining and uploading photos, and more than a month of waiting, to make it all happen.
3. The production times expand depending on the number of copies you buy. When I made my first few purchases, they printed and shipped books within one weeks’ time. So I underestimated the time needed for larger orders: it will take two or three weeks, depending on the size of the order. It makes sense that it takes longer to print and ship more books, but I didn’t know that, and it tripped me upat first when I was scheduling orders and events.
4. They have lots of special promotions. It is great to get emails with various specials on printing and shipping. Beware: sometimes their deals are complicated to apply: they have limits or restrictions that can take a while to sort out. But overall, this was a real strength. It is good to get regular price breaks.
Overall, I am very satisfied with my Lulu.com experience, and I’d recommend them to others. How do they compare with other print-on-demand companies? Bottom line: they cost more, but have more resources for rank beginners.
The Lightest Touch
Good poetry begins with
the lightest touch,
a breeze arriving from nowhere,
a whispered healing arrival,
a word in your ear,
a settling into things,
then like a hand in the dark
it arrests the whole body,
steeling you for revelation.
In the silence that follows
a great line
you can feel Lazarus
even the laziest, most deathly afraid
part of you,
lifts up his hands and walk toward the light.
©2003 Many Rivers Press
At the recent Mythcon in Dallas, I gave a talk called "Doing What the Inklings Did: Practical Advice for Writing Groups." I talked about different kinds of writing groups (critique groups, mentoring groups, network groups, fellowship groups, prayer groups) that can be of benefit to creative people, and I talked about the nuts and bolts of making a critique group work.
Afterwards, I received an email from one of the attendees. Brian had a great observation:
I enjoyed your presentation at Mythcon about writers groups and thought you might be interested in a point someone brought up related to ours. One of our member's parents are music publishers in Nashville, and they pointed out that in today's litigious culture, groups like ours should probably consider having members sign agreements on what is considered fair game for use in publications and what is not. If you don't you always run the risk of someone suing a successful author claiming that he/she used an idea from the group discussion that the plaintiff originated.
The father mentioned the example of a famous song by Bill Gaither (I can't remember which) that he wrote after being inspired by a sermon. When the song made millions, they had to go back and sort out which lines were primarily the preacher's and which were Gaither's when the preacher sued for a portion of the royalties.
I hate to say it, but it makes good sense, to me at least. We're planning on working up an agreement where any specific works shared with the group are each author's property and can only be used with written permission, but any oral critiques offered to the group as a whole become free for use.
What do you think? Have you had any experiences with members of a writers group quarreling over who owned an idea? Has your group created any kind of written agreement? Or do you wish they had?
Delays are inevitable: stuff happens. And so it is with my latest book, Clay in the Potter's Hands. I was on track to release the first printing in July. As it turns out, we've still got a way to go (technical difficulties? human error? life intervenes? all of the above?).
In the meantime, you can still buy the Preview Edition, and it's still only $9.99. Buy three, and get free shipping.
Better than Barney. More creative than Raffi. As much fun as that Peter, Paul, and Mary’s classic “Peter, Paul, and Mommy.” Sierra and I just discovered Hullabaloo. http://www.hullabalooband.com/
As part of its summer reading program, the Glendora Public Library sponsored a folk concert during its regularly scheduled story time. I hadn’t heard of the group, but I was intrigued by their description as “farm-fresh free-range organic kid-folk in a genre filled with ding-dongs and twinkies.” We found their website, sampled their videos, and in flash, “Dinosaur in my Backyard,” “Polite Pete the Pirate” and “Blah Blah Blah” became daily fare in the Glyer household.
The concert was even better. It takes a special talent to be cheerful and energetic enough to capture the attention of 5, 6, and 7 year olds for a full 45 minutes. Hullabaloo managed it, with room to spare.
Hey, coffee addicts: don’t miss the instant classic “Grown-up Sippy Cup.” It’s addictive.
Oh, BTW. We had a friend visiting from out of town, a man who reviews classical music concerts for a living. He was tapping his toes and belting out “Run, Bunny, Run” with the best of them.