Monday, December 26, 2005

Final Thoughts on Christ the Lord
I posted on Anne Rice's newest book, Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt a week or so ago. I mentioned that I was part-way through the book and was reflecting on some thoughts on Joseph, Jesus' guardian.

This morning, while enjoying some lovely leisurely day-after-Christmas relaxation, I finished the book. As I closed the cover, all I could think was this book is incredible. It's about the 7-year-old Jesus and his growing understanding about his life and purpose, while always in the embrace of his large extended family. Gradually, he increases in understanding, which reminds me of this verse from Luke 2: "And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him" (v. 40 ESV).

Especially amazing is the ending when Mary finally explains to her son about all of the circumstances of his birth. Jesus longs to be in the temple, with the teachers, trying to understand everything about the Scriptures and what happened at his birth. But Mary finishes her retelling of the events by telling him that the Lord could have given him to the temple, to the teachers, but He chose to place His Son in the midst of a family, to Joseph, His guardian and to Mary, His mother. It was a very poignant and excellently written passage.

Read what the Kirkus reviews wrote about it:
“A riveting, reverent imagining of the hidden years of the child Jesus . . . A triumph of tone—her prose lean, vivid—and character . . . Christ the Lord is a cross between a historical novel and an update of Tolstoy’s The Gospels in Brief, it presents Jesus as nature mystic, healer, prophet and very much a real young boy . . . Essentially it’s a mystery story, of the child grappling to understand his miraculous gifts and numinous birth . . . As he ponders his staggering responsibility, the boy is fully believable—and yet there’s something in his supernatural empathy and blazing intelligence that conveys the wondrousness of a boy like no other . . . With this novel, Anne Rice has indeed found a convincing version of him; this is fiction that transcends story and instead qualifies as an act of faith.”

Kirkus Reviews

I completely agree. The book was masterfully written with great care, and that comes through on every page. Rice uses some lovely lyrical turns of phrase and creates a kind of prose that is almost poetic. All her skills as a novelist come into play as she builds the story to a climax when the extended family visits Jerusalem for the Passover.

It is definitely a must-read, and I highly recommend it. By the way, it was terrific Christmas reading. Normally during Christmastide, I read Martin Luther's Christmas book by Roland Bainton (which I still will do), but this was wonderful Christmas reading because it made me reflect on the humanity of Christ, on the reality of His growing up in a family, being a real boy.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Dental Phobia
So, I got over my short-lived dental phobia yesterday by seeing my fabulous dentist, Dr. Paul Hess. Here's help for those of you who don't have terrific dentists. (And seriously, don't fall off your bike when you're 13 and then need repeated root canals years later that are treated by scary endodontists.)
Thoughts on Parenting
Two unlikely places have made me think about parenting lately.

1. We watched the movie Spanglish the other night. It was quite good, and much sadder than I expected. Not your typical Adam Sandler movie. It portrayed some wonderful go-against-the-grain thoughts on parents sacrificing their own freedom and desires for their kids' sake.

2. I read this poem, "Father's Song" by Gregory Orr from The Caged Owl on the Writers' Almanac today. Very nice.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Five things about me
1. I like vanilla more than chocolate. Seriously. But I do like chocolate too.

2. I drive the people I live with crazy when I find a song I like because I listen to it over and over and over and over. Mindy Smith's "Falling" is one of those songs. (And yes, I just listened to it twice.)

3. I am currently researching ancient Egypt, particularly about Joseph (from Genesis) and the Holy Family's flight to Egypt. I'm also researching nocturnal animals and Saint Patrick. Interesting mix, eh?

4. Guinness stout is always my first beer of choice; Yuengling's Black and Tan is also awesome.

(okay, just listened to the song again...)

5. I love to drive stick shift. I don't know why. My husband looks at me like I'm really strange when I say that. Maybe it's because I can coast all around our hilly city and save gas?

Thanks, Burr. Absolutely no one left to tag.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Christ the Lord by Anne Rice
I am currently about one-third of the way through this latest book by Anne Rice. It is fascinating. She delves into the inner workings of the 7-year-old Jesus, and paints a portrait of his life in Egypt and traveling to Nazareth.

The surprising element in the book so far for me has been the portrayal of Joseph. Joseph is spoken of so little in the Gospels that I've quite honestly not thought a lot about him. But Rice creates his character as calm, strong, steady, and wise. Because he is not mentioned during the years of Christ's ministry, it is sometimes thought that he is quite a bit older than Mary. Would he have been around when Jesus was 7? Maybe. If he was, I think it most likely that he was much the way Rice portrayed him. He is pious, patient, calm, and very clearly the guardian and protector of Jesus, even while caring for his large extended family.

Anyway, I'm really enjoying the book so far. Take a look at it here.
Lutheran Carnival
Check out Aardvark Alley for the 13th installment of the Lutheran Carnival here to read various and sundry thoughts from other Lutheran bloggers. Even I figured out how to be included, so keep scrolling down. And a couple of dear hubby's posts are on there too. exciting! Am I becoming blog-tastic or what?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Thoughts on Narnia
Last night, despite the nasty winter weather in our area, we decided to go see The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It was tremendous! I really enjoyed it, and have been thinking about it today.

As we walked out of the theater, our ten-year-old son mentioned how similar it seemed to The Lord of the Rings. Dear husband (whose comments are here) then reminded dear son that C.S. Lewis, who wrote Narnia, and J.R.R. Tolkein, who wrote LOTR were great friends and met often to critique each other's writing. They both were lovers of fairy tales and mythology from many cultures. Tolkein was a great lover of language. They had a lot in common (including--and why is this?--the fact that their Christian names are known only by initials...).

It got me thinking about my own writing and my own writing critique group. Not only do these people support and help me in my writing, but we artists do feed off of each other. The reason why my writing can improve, I believe, is because I put myself in the company of excellent writers. Because of them, I try new things. I experiment with different genres, etc. I'm sure the same was true on some level with Lewis and Tolkein.

So, the similarites between Narnia and LOTR are striking: the unlikely king, the magical creatures, the epic battles, evil being overthrown. Themes are also similar: courage, valor, loyalty, and redemption.

For me, LOTR was deeper, richer, fuller. Narnia the movie felt more suited for children. And I think this could be a result of directing or casting or some other cinematic element. But mostly, I think it's because Tolkein's work is longer, fuller in scope, more epic itself. Narnia, especially LWW is short (150 pgs?), and its intended audience was children. And the movie stuck to the book. So, that's why I think some people think it may be coming up short to LOTR. It just doesn't have the depth and scope of LOTR. On the other hand, it is brilliant in its simplicity. The direct parallels to Christ are terrific.

A note about Aslan: I'm reading many who are saying that Aslan isn't what they hoped for. I think this could partly be a result of failing to capture in film what is in the printed word. For me, Aslan in the books is larger than life, and somehow putting him on screen with computer-generated fur and movement doesn't quite translate perfectly.

By the way, did anyone notice that it was Douglas Gresham, Lewis's step-son who was the radio announcer in the movie? He has a new book out that I'd love to read. Look here.

One last thought: how cool is it that Tolkein and Lewis, both professors at Oxford University wrote these fabulous epic fantasies that are now on the big screen. They were great thinkers and teachers, who loved literature and language. And it makes me think that children's literature will certainly take a turn for the worse when death row inmates and celebrities are our bestselling authors.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Feeling Scroogie?
If you need a mindless waste of time to get your mind off your to-do list, go to this link and have an elf snowball fight. So far I almost made it to level 3.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Advent means to wait
This is not an easy lesson. As my dear husband preached in his sermon this morning, we Americans are particularly impatient. He mentioned the Old Testament saints, Abraham and Sarah, who had to wait 25 years for God to fulfill His promise for a son. That's why Advent is good. We need to learn to wait on God.
For those of us moms who get everything ready for Christmas, Advent is also a time to shop, prepare, mail packages, and do everything else that it takes to get families ready for Christmas. So, I've been busy preparing, and also waiting.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Happy St. Nicholas Day!
Did you know that Nicholas was actually a 4th century bishop who lived in what is modern-day Turkey? He participated in the council of Nicea, which adopted the Nicene Creed. His generosity was well-known, and that is why over the years, he became known as Father Christmas and eventually Santa Claus. The original is so much better, though! You can read about him in my book, Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend. Also, check out this website for some other interesting St. Nicholas stuff.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Robert's Snow - Auction for Cancer Cure
Robert's Snow is an organization that auctions off snowflakes decorated by children's book illustrators. There are a ton of different snowflakes that are auctioning for a fairly reasonable amount, considering the fact that they are original art by well-known as well as up and coming artists. Today, my friend and ilustrator's snowflake goes on auction. Her name is Carol Baicker-McKee and her snowflake is darling, and gives a little taste of our new book which will be released in March 06, Cheep! Cheep!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Radio interviews
Recently, I've been interviewed for a couple of my new books, Bethlehem Night and Things I See at Christmas. Yesterday, I was interviewed on WHEM in Eau Claire, WI. The host asked me why it was that God chose for Jesus to be born in a manger. A good question, no? The answer shows the depth of God's love and our hard-heartedness. God's love was so great that He allowed His Son to enter into our pitiful existence. And we did not welcome Him. It's a good Advent thought.