Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Colour bar or colour farce? How a persons's race can change.

Ths U.S. election has raised the issue of race, with the possibility of the nation's first 'black' president. It is an interesting thing to see how people are classified regarding their race. Barack Obama has one parent for each, African and European. He is what some have called 'biracial'. I heard that the same is truue of Colin Powell. In the U.S. and Britain and here in Australia, if a person is visibly part black they are just classified as 'black'. A person is either pure white or they are black. I'm told that in Liberia, in Africa, the same syndorme operates in reverse. A person is classifed as white if they are visibly part white. You are either pure black or white. In South Africa, under the apartheid regime, those people of biracial heritage were classifed as 'coloured'. Can you see the impication of this? The one person can be a black American or Australian, a white Liberian and a coloured South African. Incredible! Travel across a border and you change races. Does that make the whole issue rather ridiculous? I know that race also has issures of culture, but it is a flawed way of relating to a person, or expecting things of them, because of their race.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Why the sad endings?

Why does so much modern fiction involve grim and unhappy endings? Some people seem to think it is intellectually mature and brave, or realistic and cool to applaud sad endings. They despise idealism and people who like cheerful endings. For as long as I can remember there have been individuals who run everything down and treat it with cynicism, and think they are really cool for doing that. I'm getting to think that they are just posers. Any one who wants to go on living wants certain things to come out right. So what is their problem? Do they resent any one else being happy and optimistic because they are not? Or do they think always expecting the worst means that you will never be disappointed? I think they can be real 'phoneys' , as Holden Caulfield would have said. It can be a way of sounding tougher than they really are. Anyone who really doesn't care about anything has lost the will to live. If you can still be bothered talking, then you must have some feelings, and that means that you would like some things to have 'happy endings'. Why pretend otherwise? Who are the real cowards.? The ones who don't like to think about unhappy endings, or the ones who prented they don't care, when they do but can't admit it?
Some years ago, in Australia, a critic raised the concern that too many pessimmistic novels and films can leave kids without hope and increase their problem with depression. Obviously it is not good to make things seem better than they are and deny some of life's harsher realities, but you can overdo the idea of their being no hope in life. If ther were not some happy endings, how could anyone go on?

Friday, January 4, 2008

How do you do it?

I may never be asked by budding writers how to do it, but if I am then I know what to say. It's not original, and if anyone has some other thoughts on the subject, run them past me! But I'd say, think of something that you would really hate to see happening, and write a story about how it was prevented - the lead characters being the ones who do so. Or else write about something you would love to see happening, and design your plot around how the central characters make it happen. Of course, the characters have issues to resolve also. But when you do that, it can be a great relief to think of a good outcome, even if it is fiction. I wrote the first novel I ever did about a group of high school age kids, and the way in which the youngest one is often left out of things; and the action resolved when the others in the gang see the need to include the younger one. It was thin, hardly a profound plot at all, but that is what makes me want to speak my mind and lay out a better way. Christianity provides the spiritual input because, the longer I live, the more I can see how it is a 'try-hard' thing to try and make good outcomes in only human strength, and with only secular philosophy. The world is full of people who would like to see things get better. But huge effort has been made, and little has come of it, because the instigators left God out of the equation. Sometimes the results become quite monstrous. Communism was supposedly a doctrine to make a caring, greed-free and strife-free world society; but it relied on human strength and direction, and degenerated into brutish and vile dictatorship. It tried to set up some Christian principles but denied the Christ His place in the scheme of things, and led to a shocking fiasco.
One of my favourite books in Frank Peretti's "The Oath". It shows, graphically, how human sin grows and gets more control. And even people who start off with good intentions, without God, will eventually be duped by their own folly into fouling up the thing they try to created. If only more people could see that! But some would accuse me of ramming my ideas at them simply for saying this! Still, in God, all good things can come to pass.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

What's coming next?

Christmas this year was fab. because we had a family gathering and everyone just got on well. We lost my father last year, but the rest of us got together at my mother's home. Liz and myself, all five of our children. my brother and sister in law. And we all got on well. That was an answer to prayer. I can see why some people dread Christmas. We're all supposed to show the Season of Goodwill spirit and sometimes it can be hard. Our family have been praying that Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. will see a great revival. Trying to show the Christian spirit without the help of the Holy Spirit is more than many people can manage in their own strength. So heres hoping the Lord is active in the world this year. I keep thinking about what I want to write, too. There are ways you can lift people out of their day to day reality by showing them something better, something that could be. All my life I've enjoyed getting lost in a good story, and if it's a really good one it can leave you with something to bring back with you when you have to put it down and come back to this present dimension. I've been on medication for depression since having to give up work, and one thing that can lift me out of it is imagining the action in a story I'm going to tell someday. I love a good movie - check my profile and you'll see some of the ones I really like - and it's possible to make up my own, and view them in my mind. And when the tiem is rifght I'll put them down in book form.