Friday, January 25, 2013

Little Feathers: A Mirrored Chime

Little Feathers: A Mirrored Chime: Some years ago, when our kids were teens, I wrote a song for a church musical. The song was called, "Truth", and the opening lines went: "Tr...

A Mirrored Chime

Some years ago, when our kids were teens, I wrote a song for a church musical. The song was called,
"Truth", and the opening lines went: "Truth twists in the wind, like a mirrored chime. Sun glints from the Truth side, and I lose my sight." It may have been a bit obscure, but I knew what I meant. There are so many issues that are hard to make sense of. What is truth? People become impassioned about their version of truth, to an extent that we as society can no longer be objective about the issue. We are blinded by the arguments themselves.
What is the truth about something as simple as a flu shot? Is it a huge cash cow for drug companies, perpetuated by fear marketing? Or is it a prudent preventative measure where the benefits vastly outweigh the risks?
How about gun control? What is the truth there? Can anyone really insist that limiting the availability of new assault weapons will stop the insanity of mass murders? Can anyone else really insist that we, as a people, have the God-given right to own such weapons? For me, the truth that keeps poking through all this is that we are missing the point of the tragedies. Someone has to be mentally ill to commit such murders. If we would address that, we would have no need for this divisive gun argument. The same is true about abortion. If we would seriously address birth control, abortion would not be the intensely hot topic that it is. But the moral indignation felt on both sides of these issues blinds us to the possible remedies. Moral indignation is in itself a blindness.
How can we be open minded to the truth when the adversaries on both sides are drawing lines in the sand, insisting we agree with them or burn in hell? I added the burn in hell part. No one really says that. But that is the implication. We will be turning our backs on our moral obligation as human beings if we agree with the other side. And both sides say it, loud and clear. I don't know who says it louder. I guess that depends on if you listen to CNN or FOX. Stop shouting! How can you listen for the voice of reason if you are shouting all the time!!! (Extra exclamation marks have been known to indicate printed shouting. Sigh.)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Little Feathers: The Gates are Down

Little Feathers: The Gates are Down: Until recently, there was no way for writer to publish a book without going through proper channels. Usually agents, editors and publishers....

The Gates are Down

Until recently, there was no way for writer to publish a book without going through proper channels. Usually agents, editors and publishers. And that process helped to ensure that the consumer could be confident of buying a quality book. Good writing, good story. Of course,  there are several books I've bought through the years that came from traditional publishing houses that were not good writing or good stories. But generally speaking, the gatekeepers did their job.
Now, with Amazon direct to kindle, Create Space free publishing for paperbacks, and several other self publishing companies,all bets are off. It could be that the flood waters of unedited stories will swamp us for a while. How will we know that something we are purchasing has even gone through copy editing? We won't really. BUT! This also means that writers can work to market their books and find an audience without waiting the years and scores of rejection letters it usually takes to get a book published.
I have been asking myself over and over if it is a cop-out to self publish. And maybe it is, in a way. Maybe my books would not find a publisher willing to take a risk on them. It costs an enormous amount for a traditional publisher to get a work released. I read several figures that astound me...$25,000 for a picture book! The book would have to do a real business to even break even.
Self publishing is not for the faint of heart. Putting a book out there with your name on it is scary business. If the first one isn't good, chances are subsequent books won't find readers.
This is where a book that my son Josh gave me comes in. It's called The War of Art, by Stephen Pressfield. I hope Mr. Pressfield won't mind if I share a nugget of truth I got from that book in my own words. It is this: the thing that stops us from working toward our dream, from believing in our talent or product or creative ability, is our own self doubt. Our fear that we aren't smart, or talented, or good enough to share our offerings with the world. The war within ourselves that keeps us from trying, or certainly from reaching for our goals, is the wrong side of humility. It is the side that says we are not good enough.
I have no delusions that I am a great literary talent. If I had to be in order to write, I would not click another key. But I have stories I want to tell. Characters that live in my imagination. So I'm putting them out there. Setting them free. Because the gates are down.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Little Feathers: Twelve Drummers Drumming

Little Feathers: Twelve Drummers Drumming: Today is the Twelfth Day of Christmas. Tomorrow the wise men arrive to give their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. I have often though...

Twelve Drummers Drumming

Today is the Twelfth Day of Christmas. Tomorrow the wise men arrive to give their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. I have often thought about the difference those gifts must have made for the poor family that Jesus was born into. How many people in their situation would ever, ever have owned such treasures? The pleasure the wise felt in giving their gifts must have been so great!
Our family exchanges gifts on what we call Epiphany, which is whatever day closest to January 6th everyone can get together. We started out doing that a few years ago when our daughter Sally married so that Christmas Day was easily shared with her new family by marriage. But it has become something I love. It makes me think about the tradition of giving gifts, it makes me think about church history and the way the celebration of Christmas has changed through the centuries. It makes me count the days of Christmas, beginning with the First Day of Christmas on the 25th. And it helps tone down the commercialism of Christmas for me because I am not rushing about in the pre-Christmas bustle to find the perfect gifts for the people I love the most. And it extends the holiday I love by twelve extra days!!!
My father in law, Walter C Beglau, passed away on Epiphany in 1991. I always thought that was a very special day for him to arrive in the presence of God. We speak today of having an "Epiphany" as having a revelation. What a revelation it must have been for Walter.
Today I'll remember the story of the wise men, traveling for so long to honor a king they hoped to find by following a star. They are still in route today, like me. They are still seeking, still imagining the face of this king. Tomorrow, on Epiphany, they will have a revelation. They will kneel before a king that has come as a humble babe in the poorest of conditions. Because the human condition is so poor, and so lowly, that only a child born of our own experience could bring us the hope that love does indeed win. That there is nothing this life can throw at us that can defeat us. Because we are shored up, covered in grace. We are never good enough, but we are ever good enough because there is a love living in us that can be tapped, that can get us to the next morning, the next break in the hard part, the next time when we feel the assurance that sometimes we can only take on faith because we feel too lost and alone to endure.
I can hear them today. Those twelve drummers drumming. Their cadence is growing in depth and rich complexity. It's a really good rhythm. Leading to enlightenment. I am pretty certain that tomorrow I won't see the whole picture, because my understanding is too small to grasp it all. But any little Epiphany I can have is gift enough for me. For now. Happy Twelfth Day of Christmas.