Archive for October, 2014

Know a Witchy Woman??

Posted: October 31, 2014 in World On The Edge

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHalloween evokes many memories of my children growing up. I probably shouldn’t admit this particular memory, but when ONE of my girls was a tyrannical toddler, I gave the little thing a nickname–“Witchy Woman.” Believe me, at the time it suited her well. All she needed was a miniature broom.

Of course today, she’s anything but witchy–I mean I’m certain her husband and children would never call her such!!

But hey, aren’t we all a little ‘witchy’ at times. Look at some of the characteristics of these tiny, toddling  people:

They discover they can walk on two legs and so are “into everything.”
They are stubborn about ME, MINE, and MY.
They are in love with the word NO.
They become easily frustrated.
They like to build, knock down, put in, and take out.
They have very short attention spans.
They imitate almost everything they see.

And then there are:

The big smiles when they wake up from a nap or in the morning (Despite the load in their diapers)
The sloppy kisses.
The arms around your neck.
The squeals of laughter.
The “help Mommy make dinner” pans on the floor.
The colorful scribbles.
The heads of hair full of paste, or spaghetti, or you name it.
The fall, the get-up, the tears and the “I want Mommy!”

Today, my little ‘witchy woman’ is one of whom I’m very proud. Her witchy-ness propelled her, and may even have been the key to her great success as a woman. I am amazed at how high she flies!

Jesus-drives-out-moneychangers-by-RembrandtOn Earth, we don’t have the fullness of Heaven, where all is perfect and God’s presence is enjoyed eternally. But when we pray that God’s kingdom will come on earth (as in the Lord’s Prayer) we want our devotion and our service to God to show that He is present, here, in some way. We do this by loving and caring for the people He created; all people, made in His image and likeness.

We can choose not to do this. We can choose to hate, or disrupt, or bring others down. We can choose not to see their connection to the God who made them, and us—-

But—-This does not mean we should be blindly tolerant. This does not mean that we go along with everything.

At times, it means that we are called to rock the boat. At times, we are called to be irate enough to ‘overturn the tables in the temple’ as Jesus did to the moneychangers.

And I think TODAY is one of those times.

I believe our country, our once-respected and great America, is being threatened from within, as well as from without.

If you read this blog, you know I’m a fan of Aesop’s fables. Here is another: The Swallow and the Other Birds

It happened that a Countryman was sowing some hemp seeds in a field where a Swallow and some other birds were hopping about picking up their food. “Beware of that man,” quoth the Swallow. “Why, what is he doing?” said the others. “That is hemp seed he is sowing; be careful to pick up every one of the seeds, or else you will repent it.” The birds paid no heed to the Swallow’s words, and by and by the hemp grew up and was made into cord, and of the cords nets were made, and many a bird that had despised the Swallow’s advice was caught in nets made out of that very hemp.

What did I tell you? said the Swallow. “Destroy the seed of evil, or it will grow up to your ruin. “

Are we headed to a place of ruin? We find it so easy to go along with the crowd—and we find it so hard to stand up against what we know isn’t right. And often we throw up our hands and give up on something, or someone—a child, a friend, a co-worker, even a spouse.

Today, I ask: Have we given up on America? Have we become tired or indifferent to what our country was supposed to be, but is no longer? What can we do about it?

Of course, the first answer is prayer. But we should expect that our prayer will lead God to call for our personal action. When we pray that God’s Kingdom will come on earth—who will bring it if not us? We are, after all, God’s hands, heart, eyes, and feet on Earth.

The call we discover through prayer will be different for each of us. It may be a tiny call by God. It may be a significant one. But small or large, if we don’t act on it, nothing will change for the better.

And so, I ask: Does the re-constructed path we’re presently allowing in America resemble God’s Kingdom on Earth? If not, then in prayer, each one of us should listen carefully to what we ought to do to make it better.

The Art of Christian Fiction

Posted: October 29, 2014 in World On The Edge

mf734Some say that a religious perspective shapes one’s creativity to such an extent that it corrupts art for its purposes. But does a non-religious perspective act in the same way? Does a non-religious perspective also corrupt art for its purposes?

A myriad of perspectives abound in our world: how do we see the world around us, how do we choose to live in it? A writer’s beliefs, whether religious, political, or social, will affect his or her creation. It is a matter of degree whether the creation becomes art, or whether it is turned into propaganda, which is not art.

Religion does not compromise art, and is not an impediment to the fiction writer. On the contrary, it aids in creativity, providing a component that pushes life and human reason to a higher, non-material level than simple, day to day dogmatisms. It is a lens through which an author translates a very human world, without moralizing propaganda, but rather with an empathy for all that makes us human, both spiritual (invisible) and physical (visible) components.

A common experience to humanity is one of depravity. The Christian author’s lens is the grace of God offered to humanity in spite of its depravity, but the reader shouldn’t have to be a believer to appreciate the author’s story.

Some Christian authors write a story that is slavishly and artificially constructed to argue his point. The story is not nearly as important as the moral of the story. This may, at first, sound logical. But this is definitely not the right approach to writing fiction—for Catholics or anyone.

Here is Flannery O’Connor’s Catholic orientation: from the sign to the thing signified, from the visible to the invisible, from the sacrament to the mystery. The more real fiction is, the more the story confronts the reader with concrete details in the language rather than abstract ideas, the greater and more forceful the metaphysical persuasiveness and power. Readers of “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” for example, do not have to be subjected to a Catholic lecture on human sinfulness; rather, “The Misfit” as a character is so concretely and vividly and authentically presented to our senses that we know him intimately, and the wickedness in his heart and life—and ours?—is a reality that cannot be denied without great effort.

Flannery O’Connor, as a Catholic Southern writer, understood that fiction is not firstly and ultimately about an idea, but about incarnation. It is about the concrete. It is about matter. It is about life. And this is the Art of Christian Fiction.

Based on Flannery O’Connor’s Religion and Literature:Dogma and its Implications for Art, by Tami England Flaum

DESPITE OUR DIFFERENCES….

Posted: October 28, 2014 in World On The Edge

Birds_of_a_Feather_FRONT_PUBLICITY_JPG

DESPITE OUR DIFFERENCES,
WE ARE THE SAME

Birds of a Feather now on Kindle!!

Collection is propelled by curiosity about human nature

From Lake Oconee Living Magazine

No one lives without despair and hope, grief and joy, tears and laughter, selfishness and gratitude, jealousy and empathy, self-loathing and self-love, destructiveness and creativity. Though we focus on differences, attempt to elevate our worth above others, justify our righteousness by comparing deeds, we essentially are all the same.

As Kaye Park Hinckley’s collection of short stories is titled, we are Birds of a Feather. “The theme of all the stories is sin and salvation,” says Hinckley, “the sinfulness of everyone and the opportunity for everyone to take advantage of God’s mercy.” Raised in the Catholic Church in the deep South, Hinckley crafts each story in Birds of a Feather out of her Southern heritage and her Catholic faith. “What I want people to take away from this book,” says Hinckley, “is that we are all created in the divine image of God.” Intertwining religion with regional culture, the collection is classic Southern literature in the same vein as short stories by the likes of Flannery O’Connor, whose work strongly influences that of Hinckley.

She writes characters who are shocking, flamboyant, disturbed, unkind. She writes characters who are merciful, gracious, empathic, loving. She writes characters who demonstrate the dualities of human nature. Edmund, in “Shooting at Heaven’s Gate,” allows himself to be used by evil. Rather than condemn his actions, Hinckley pushes her reader to acknowledge the frailties of the human heart. “We all are capable of doing great evil,” explains Hinckley. “Why does a person do this? I like to know reasons.” Curiosity about human nature propels her plots.

Don’t seek clearly defined protagonists and antagonists here, however. Hinckley’s characters are complicated. They’ve done horrible things, witnessed horrible things, been the victims of horrible things, yet they continue rising each morning and putting one foot in front of the other. They fulfill their obligations to each other while these horrible things gnaw at them from the inside out. Hinckley deftly presents the repulsiveness of her character’s actions, while also revealing her characters’ drive toward love.

In the story “Dragon,” Liz harbors guilt and secrets about a vengeful act that she believes revealed her true nature, which she pours out to a roadside café waitress as if making a confession. Her confessor comforts her, saying, “Listen Shugah, we all got to pass by the dragon . . . Don’t give him nothing else to eat.” The power of sinfulness is juxtaposed against the power of God’s mercy. The capability to do great evil lies next to the ability to advance great good.

In the midst of turmoil and wrestling with truth, Hinckley injects humor so familiar, it causes the reader to recognize himself. “Red Bird” poignantly traces the ocean of dementia into which the main character, Jude, drifts without fighting the tide. His wife, conflicted in her anger over his past wrongs and her duty to care for him in his illness, addresses him with irritation, asking, “Don’t you know who I am, Jude?” He doesn’t, so he grins and replies, “Don’t you know who you are?”

Released in July, Birds of a Feather contains ten short stories that hearken to Hinckley’s Alabama childhood, Georgia roots (on her mother’s side), and Catholic faith. She masterfully manipulates the English language and the vernacular to generate fully developed plots and well-rounded characters. Drawing on the influences of Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, and others, she infuses her writing with a bounty of symbolism. Most of all, she is fair, always fair to her characters and her reader. She allows them to make their own choices and to draw their own conclusions. Because, at the very core of the human condition, of us all, of Birds of a Feather, is free will.

Meet the author!

The Georgia Writers Museum in downtown Eatonton welcomes Kaye Park Hinckley, author of  Birds of a Feather, for a book signing event on Oct. 30, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public and light refreshments will be served. For more information, call the museum at (706) 991-5119 or visit www.georgiawritersmuseum.com.

Worrying About Tomorrow??

Posted: October 27, 2014 in World On The Edge
Tags: , , , ,

file000324750683At times we feel like a fragile leaf taken up by the wind, with no control over where we’re going. And we worry, we obsess. We may shake, or sweat, crying out, “What will happen to me?”

Maybe we’re suffering from some disease. Maybe we’re despondent over the loss of a loved one. Or we may have deliberately hurt someone else, and while we regret it, what we’ve done eats away at us.

We may have committed an offense we don’t think we can be forgiven for. Or we may be afraid of the punishment we’ll receive from that offense. All these happenings can alter us until we barely respond to others in kind ways, because there’s too much darkness around us to recgonize any sort of joy.

But life itself is good. Life can be affirming even in our sorrow, pain, or distress.

The idea that Life is good doesn’t come to us from something outside of us. It comes from inside us, if we allow it to. It comes from creating in our hearts an attitude of Trust–no matter who has hurt us, or who we’ve lost, no matter how terrible we think we’ve been, and no matter how weak our bodies have become.

Trust means a lack of worry about tomorrow. Trust means loving the moment we are living in. Trust means that even if the moment we love doesn’t last, our Trust, our Faith, our Hope will last.

Can we do this alone? Can we stoke the fire inside us and carry it forward without someone else? Don’t we need a hand to hold, the hand of someone who truly loves us?

Oh, you are alone? And nobody loves you?

Don’t fall for that.

We are never alone–not alone on the top of a mountain of happiness and good fortune, and not alone at the bottom of a sea of sorrow and despair.

The One who created us never leaves us.

Trust that the hand of God is always extended to you.

All you need do is reach out and take it.

Then tomorrow will take care of itself.

MARY’S MOUNTAIN is BREATHING FIRE ON KINDLE!!  The story of a teacher turned famous author–Paul Dunaway– and his struggle to re-shape his affluent but joyless life, while opposing forces in the out-of-control, politically correct America he helped to create, literally take him down.

Mary’s Mountain is a story of Tolerance taken to the extreme.

Click on the book cover to order.

Mary's Mountain BookCoverImage

Reading Sample:

After sex, as she always did, she took a black pen from the bedside table and made a few notes on a new pad of starlight-colored paper–until her eyes lit unexpectedly, as if a lightning bolt had struck inside her head.”Fallacies need to be exposed, don’t they? You and I can expose the God fallacy, Paul! I’ll come up with a proposal and you’ll make it credible. Together, we’ll re-write history to show that America is based on hedonism, not the laws of a trumped-up God. Personal happiness, which is avoidance of pain, should be the only standard for right or wrong.”

But over a decade ago, in his first thesis required for graduation–the one he’d actually turned in, he cautioned about the error of hedonism, asserting that pleasure and pain could not constitute the standard for right or wrong, because pleasure is different for each individual. “Where’s your proof that happiness is the guideline?” he asked her.

She grinned. “The U.S. Constitution, of course. Doesn’t it guarantee each of us the right to pursue our own happiness? And happiness is obtained only by pursuing pleasure; not pain–like your guilty conscience impels you to do.”

He didn’t agree. His intellect told him she was wrong, but a burgeoning sense of arrogance urged him to give it a try.

“Well?” Irene coiled beside him on the bed, ready to strike if he gave the wrong answer. “What do you think?”

“People will resist,” he said, but he wasn’t positive of that anymore.

“Our persuasiveness will break down any resistance. We’ll remold American minds to see that any stirring in the so-called soul is not from God, but simply one’s craving for pleasure. Will you do it?”

He thought briefly about his home, where heaven seemed close enough to touch from anywhere on the mountain, and a person’s dignity was treated as a gift from God. Because of it, no neighbor locked a door, no person went hungry if anyone knew about it, and no enemy remained unforgiveable for long. How could he denigrate his roots again; this time, without the excuse of immaturity?

But Irene was salivating beside him. “Oh, it would make us famous, Paul, even wealthy! The public is primed to swallow it. Who wouldn’t want to be rid of religiously imposed guilt, and its link to accountability?”

He had to admit he’d relish not having to account for the things he’d done. He looked at Irene beside him, knowing she was aware that his desire for her was far greater than his desire for his wife. And she’d been around him long enough to know that becoming famous and wealthy would be hard for him to ignore. She handed him the black pen and her starlight colored paper as if all had been decided. “What should we label our idea?”

Our idea? But it was only an idea, and it probably wouldn’t work. To keep Irene happy, he lifted the pen, scribbling on her pad as he spoke. “We need an encompassing word, a bit of doublespeak to legitimize the theory. Something no one could object to.” Then he stopped scribbling and wrote the word that came to him: tolerance.

“Tolerance is what we should call it.”

“Oh, that’s perfect!” Irene exclaimed, and fell upon him.

Nobody talks much about the devil anymore. In fact, nobody talks much about evil at all, as if it doesn’t exist, as if anything we do is A-Okay as long as we think it is.

So NOT true.

The devil attacks us in our complacencies, where we are, through what we love. And sometimes the devil has a very attractive face–one that’s hard to resist. He lures us by our addictions, the things we think most about, the things we’ve tied ourselves to. He yanks on the chain of those addictions, leading us further and further away from what is good, to what is evil–until we become his devoted ‘pet.’ Then he’s got us just where he wants us.

No, we don’t want to hear this. We say, “Look, I am who I am, and who I am is okay.”

Well, that depends. Because we weren’t given life on earth in order to fulfill ourselves. Believe it or not, each of us has a greater mission than our own existence. There is a reason for our having been born. God knows our mission even if we haven’t yet discovered it. And it has nothing to do with evil, and everything to do with good.

To determine what is good for us requires an informed conscience—an objective conscience, based on what we know to be true. We have to be able to stand outside of ourselves and look into the mirror of what we are becoming. And then, we have to (pardon the expression but I can’t think of a better word)… ..we have to have balls enough to admit it.

The Devil is a liar, who will use any means to get to us–flattery is one of them. That misguided axiom we hold to–“I’m okay, you’re okay no matter what I do, or what you do” is one of his tools. We see it growing day by day in our present society. I think this children’s rhyme sums it up pretty well:

“Will you step into my parlor?” said the spider to the fly;
“’Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy.
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many pretty things to show when you are there.”
“O no, no,” said the little fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”
“Come hither, hither, pretty fly, with the pearl and silver wing:
Your robes are green and purple; there’s a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead.”
Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little fly,
Hearing his wily flattering words, came slowly flitting by.
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue;
Thinking only of her crested head — poor foolish thing! At last,
Up jumped the cunning spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,
Within his little parlor; but she ne’er came out again!
And now, dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly, flattering words, I pray you ne’er give heed;
Unto an evil counselor close heart, and ear, and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale of the Spider and the Fly.

Will we allow the devil to lead us wherever he wants to? Does he have us where he wants us right now?