Sunday, March 31, 2013

A is for Adultery

Let me begin by thanking Arlee Bird for founding the challenge.

“Is it fair to say you perceived my note as more than an invitation for coffee?’

“Convoluted question,” she replied, “but the answer is yes.”

- Loathe Your Neighbor ch. 12

Tiger Woods came up in the conversation at a family barbecue recently, as I’m sure he often does. A couple of women at the table wondered why men had affairs. Why don’t they just leave their wives if they are so unhappy? The answer to the question why do men commit adultery may be quite complex, or alternatively, very straightforward. It depends on the man. And on the other woman. One would think that a man who is totally satisfied by his wife will not go looking for any extra curricular activity. Unless he is greedy. So something has to be wrong somewhere for it to happen. The marriage is broken. The person is broken. Both people are broken.

Whether it is a sudden, almost accidental descent into the madness of infidelity, a slow fade, or a calculated choice, there is always a choice to be made. Our brokenness all but guarantees that many will make bad choices. Think about that the next time you invite a woman, who is not your wife, out for coffee.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Death and Resurrection

It's Easter so it should come as no surprise that I am writing about death. This year however, has been especially poignant for me as I remember and acknowledge what Jesus Christ did for me on that day, and his stunning triumph over death and hell three days later.

A friend of mine, Rob Silver, was diagnosed with lung cancer about four weeks ago, and died three weeks later. Despite a part of me not wanting to go and see him dying in hospital, I felt compelled to go. I'm glad that I did because I was able to hold his hand and say thank you, and goodbye.  He died the next day. An otherwise fit and healthy, non smoking Christian, a family man, a minister, a friend to many: suddenly called back home to Heaven.

We were all still in shock when we attended his "celebration of life" service, and yet it was the most uplifting and inspiring funeral I have ever attended. I left feeling happy and light. There was sadness of course. He will be missed. But there was also joy. Rob had a profound impact on my life, as he did on the lives of countless others. He was a man who understood God's grace and showed it to others. He was a man who believed in the promised glorious afterlife, the resurrection of the dead, a new imperishable body within which his soul would forever cease suffering. The pain of life in this broken world is over for Rob.

I have been to the funerals of people who are either unsure about the afterlife or do not believe there is one. The contrast between Rob's life celebration and these funerals is too stark for words. Depressingly sad. I believe, as Rob did, and billions of others do, in everlasting glory in a place where there is no suffering or sorrow. I believe this because of the historical fact of the death and resurrection of Christ, and because of the difference He makes in my life. I live this life with great hope, inextinguishable hope and my prayer for everyone at Easter, on Resurrection Sunday, is that they will also know this hope, this love and this grace. Happy Easter.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Joining the Dots

It's a very simple, straighforward activity. You draw a line from the number one to the number two, and then to the number three and so on until you have completed the outline of the mystery shape.When you have joined all the dots in a logical procession, you can answer the question, what is it?

Five days from now the Easter holiday begins. Good Friday commemorates the death of Jesus Christ. Easter Sunday celebrates his resurrection. There is no more holy and significant event for Christians. The historical events of the first Easter continue to have a profound impact on people all over the world. Yet there are many who despite their knowledge of why we celebrate Easter, choose to ignore Jesus Christ, and diligently avoid talking about him or exposing themselves to anything which might actually prove to be good for them, like going to church for example.

Let's join the dots. We need help. God sent help in the form of his son, Jesus Christ. Our biggest problem is sin. Jesus died in order to deal with that problem. Jesus resurrection proves that he is God, and that we can live, both now and always, in the power and grace of God.

Christianity is a force for good in the world. Historically: the advent of public schooling, the establishment of orphanages and hospitals, the abolition of slavery, breakthroughs in science by Christians, the concept of human rights, and equality for women, are directly attributable to the actions of Christians. The Red Cross, The Salvation Army, World Vision, most aged care facilities, foster care, and youth and women's refuges, and countless other acts of charity and generosity all testify to the power of forgiveness and mercy which are central to Christianity.

And yet, there are many who want to ignore or downplay these facts. They will enjoy the long weekend and exchange gifts of chocolate but they will not acknowledge Christ, and I think it is because they are either afraid, blind or just too damn proud. To walk out from the darkness means exposing oneself to the light. To do so will radically change your life. Jesus is the light of the world. All glory and thanks to Him, God in the flesh, who died and rose again, that we may all have our sins forgiven and live in true freedom.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I am the One

I love humanism, both secular and religious. The idea which says that, despite the facts of history and human experience, mankind is his own saviour. I love the concept that we are in control of our own destinies. No matter what catastrophe may be fall us, we will triumph over adversity. The phrase "a triumph of the human spirit" makes me quiver with pride and excitement. I love the way humanists believe in the omnipotence of education and the innate goodness of all people. I love the way this philosophy, with its champions of rationalism and moral altruism, manifests itself in the entertainment mediums of popular culture.  I love the show, Supernatural. Only that last statement was true.

In season 4 of the super cool demon hunting adventures of the Winchester boys. Dean Winchester, having been rescued from Hell learns that he broke the first of 66 seals which are the locks on Lucifer's cage. A demon who Dean is torturing, tells him that Dean is the fulfillment of a prophecy concerning the Apocolypse. It says that the first seal shall be broken when a righteous man sheds blood in Hell. That's Dean. (I'm not sure why a righteous man ended up in Hell.) Dean is then told that God rescued him from Hell because he has to stop the Apocolpyse. Only the guy who started the chain of events can end it. Dean doesn't even believe in God, despite meeting the angel Castiel, but if he doesn't step up, the whole world is doomed. Dean Winchester, an ordinary man, albiet a very resilient, handsome one with good taste in music, cars and women, is going to be the Saviour of the World. At least, Dean is humble. He spends a lot of time running from his calling, refusing his destiny, and insisting that he is not "the One."

How many stories have champions who save us all? How many times have you heard them referred to as "The One"? How many times have human strength, courage and ingenuity been the sole cause of our liberation, our deliverance? How good are we? Us humans? We can do anything!

Pathetic self delusion. Willful blindness. Arrogant folly. Absolute nonsense. That's what I really think of humanism. Supernatural may be a fun show but it is fantasy, and so is the belief that we are masters of our own destinies. Every breath we breathe depends on the grace of God. Whatever goodness is in us, is God in us.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Bleeding Obvious

I recently heard an astounding piece of information on the radio news. The Commissioner for Children, yes we have one of these, announced the results of a survey about what children like to do after school. They like watching TV, playing outside, riding their bikes or skateboards, and any number of other activities. Uh-huh. You will never guess what came next. According to the poll, children don't like doing homework. I'll wait while you pick yourself up off the floor. We taxpayers paid for a survey to tell us that children don't like doing homework. Sadly, this ridiculous example of social research and its crazy recommendation that "educators should do something about it," is not a one off.

There was a ripper not so long ago which stated that Australians are getting fatter, and the reason is because we are eating more and exercising less. Really?

I am a writer. One of hundreds of millions of writers in the world who are all competing for readers. Only a handful of the very talented people in the world actually earn a living from their talent. If I ask a person I don't know, to buy my book, my chances are slim. If someone that person knows, recommends my book to them, then they are more likely to buy it. If numerous people recommend the book, then there is an even greater chance. If it's bad it won't be recommended. All this is simply stating the bleeding obvious.

You know what else is bleedingly obvious? The existence of God. Nothing will change vis a vis children and homework. Nor with people and health. I won't stop trying to "make it" as an author despite the faint hope of success, and people will continue to ignore the reality of God in favour of whatever fantasy they wish to place their hopes in. We are all insane. Welcome to the asylum. Don't be afraid. We're all friends here.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Lemons and a Chainsaw

There are two hours remaining until I have to travel to Dapto Mall and set up for the book signing. Butterflies? What butterflies? My in-store appearance at Newings book shop has been publicised with a feature article in the Weekender magazine of our regional newspaper, The Illawarra Mercury. There are large posters in the Mall, and in Newings. Apparently they have been announcing my visit over the P.A. I've been interviewed on the radio. Naturally, I've been telling everyone all about it as well. But will it fly? Will it work? Will people turn up to see me and buy my books: my new one, Loathe Your Neighbor, and my debut novel, Devolution? I can't wait for it to begin and I can't wait for it to be over.

About a year ago, I was in Newings, doing a meet and greet for Devolution. It was pretty low key, but for an unknown author it was apparently a success. I sold some books and the ladies in the bookstore reckoned I did well. This time it feels bigger, or am I just imagining that it should be bigger? If I'm making progress, then there should be more people and I should sell more books, right? I've had more publicity so results should follow, right? I don't know! What are you asking me for? Butterflies? What butterflies?

Loathe Your Neighbor is a great book, even if I do say so myself. When people hear about it, interest sparks. I've seen it in their faces and heard it in their voices.I just need more people to hear about it, and I'll sell more books, right? I thought I told you not to ask me.

The Renovator Deluxe Multi-Tool KitAs part of the promotional hysteria, I am offering readers a chance to win a brand new, genuine as-seen-on-TV, The Renovator. I know it's not a chainsaw, but come on, who offers chainsaws as prizes in book promotions. Here's what you have to do to enter the draw to win The Renovator:

Purchase Loathe Your Neighbor. Read it and answer this question: What is the significance of lemons in Loathe Your Neighbor? E-mail your answer, together with your name and purchase details to me, the author, at . If you buy Devolution I will give you an extra two entries in the draw. Purchase details means place of purchase, version, (e-book or hard copy) and a receipt number. It's as easy as that. The draw will take place on April 4, and the winner will be notified by e-mail and congratulated publicly, (unless they prefer anonymity - I sure don't!)