Archive for November, 2017

About Calumny–What Is it???

Posted: November 13, 2017 in World On The Edge

news-517380_640To be guilty of Calumny is to have intentionally ruined someone’s character by lying about them for personal gain. It is bearing false witness against someone, and it is  sinful–as serious as shooting that person in order to kill him.

In addition, the bullet fragments of an intentional lie hit not only the victim but also, the innocent around him.

It all boils down to a certain kind of greed promulgated by vengeance on the part of the one who is lying, that he will do ANYTHING to  get back at, to take something from, or ruin the person with whom he has a grievance.

Is this right behavior?

Of course not.

Except, do we even consider Calumny today, especially in politics?

NO.  There is an ‘anything goes’ policy as long as our side wins. But if this is our excuse–to win–and if our lie ruins the character of a person, then we should be aware of the consequences. And they are not only spiritual consequences.

In a court of law, just as in the instance of wrongful damage to person or estate, so the calumniator is bound to adequate reparation for the injury perpetrated by the blackening of another’s good name. He is obliged (1) to RETRACT his false statements, even though his own reputation may necessarily suffer as a consequence. (2) He must also make good whatever other losses have been sustained by the innocent party as a result of his libellous utterances, if these losses were foreseen by him.

In the larger picture of a nation which must be built on Truth to survive, newspapers, television networks, radio personalities, movie moguls and movies, and more, twist the Truth to lead others astray. In other words, they frequently Lie in order to persuade the public into the web of their agendas.

How many times has the very life of a country, or an entire people, been intentionally crushed through schemes or philosophies based on lies?  Just look at history. Just look at our world today.

Remember THE TEN COMMANDMENTS?? How about this one:

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Ex 20:16).

Given the recent heartbreaking violence in America, produced by intense hatred, a lack of forgiveness, and the ‘it’s only ME who counts’ attitude, I believe now is the time to publish a book I’ve worked on for nearly twenty-five years. Look for it within the next few weeks.

THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE CORN

A Brief Background

Throughout the ages, human history has been dominated by the desire to control, punish  and subjugate one’s neighbors. Whatever the reason for the conflict–territorial, economic, political, or religious—nations, races, and individuals, have resorted to violence and warfare to resolve disputes, rather than compromise. Whether the reasons are just or unjust, the conflict drastically diminishes, and even snuffs out, the lives of both guilty and innocent human beings.

Most nations and individuals espouse convictions that call for charity toward neighbor, but avarice and malice can overwhelm those convictions and lead to violence. When violence is perpetrated, it regularly breeds vengeance. Vengeance leads to more conflict and the whole circumstance becomes an endlessly spinning wheel. Numerous powerful nations have activated such a wheel. In the eighteenth century, England was one of its greatest executors, and the people of Ireland, its casualty.

England feared the old faith, Catholicism, which the nation as a whole had cherished for over a thousand years, and sought to annihilate it. The Crown enacted the Penal Code, the price an Irish Catholic had to pay for refusal to conform to the new religion of the Church of England. From 1558 until 1769, the English Protestant government imposed the Penal Code on a country that was 97 percent Catholic. Naturally, feelings of  vengeance abounded in those Catholics. And later, when the Penal Code was extended to Presbyterians, vengeance and hatred for the Crown intensified.

The Wind That Shakes the Corn is a story of those long-held hatreds. It is also a love story, about one woman’s difficult journey toward letting go of past grievances–the only way to allow for genuine love.

The Wind That Shakes the Corn, a memoir of fact and fiction, is based on the life of Eleanor Dugan Parke, my eighth great-grandmother who for ninety-nine years lived through it all. Nell Dugan has a history that has given her a fanatic heart–capable of great love, but also great hatred.  Her story has been passed down in my Scots Irish family. Of course, much of this novel is imagined, though England’s cruel control of Ireland’s people, the American Revolution, and some of the real players are factually told.

The Story

In 1723 Ireland, Nell, an unruly Catholic girl, falls in love with the grandson of a Protestant Scottish lord. On their wedding night she is snatched from his arms. As he lies bloodied on the ground, she is thrown on a British ship headed for a sugar plantation in the West Indies, where she is sold into slavery. But Nell is a person of learned strategies, never to be underestimated. Beautiful and cunning, she seduces the plantation owner’s infatuated son who sneaks her away to pre-revolutionary Philadelphia. There she agrees to marry him, eventually falling in love with him, but keeping her first marriage secret as she becomes a loyal wife and mother–and a tireless rebel against the English rule.

Tensions rise between the Patriots and Loyalists. Nell sees opportunities to pay back the English–blood for blood with no remorse–not only for her own kidnapping but also for her Irish mother’s hanging two decades earlier. When her first husband shows up in Philadelphia, very much alive and married, too, emotions between them run high, but Nell’s Scot remains stoic and the two families actually bond in their desire to leave the turmoil around them and take advantage of land offers in the Carolinas. Except the American Revolution follows in full flow to Carolinas. Nell experiences a tragic crescendo for her family after the Battle of Kings Mountain that only increases her desire for vengeance.

And then, a child is born. The dangerous circumstances of his birth cause a final migration into the wilderness of the Mississippi Territory to a cave of miracles, where Nell’s eyes are opened at last to what it will take to truly love.

 The Wind That Shakes the Corn  is not only Nell’s story, it is the saga of the feisty Scots Irish immigrants in a burgeoning America, and their heart-held faith and courage that led the struggle toward freedom. The novel spotlights both Catholic and Protestants immigrants to America who brought with them age-old grudges against the English Crown.

Love and hate, life and death, trust, betrayal, and the ‘always hovering’ choice to forgive, are prominent themes in this novel. In fact, they are themes that every person on earth struggles with, aren’t they?

And yet, in the end Nell confesses: “I am struck by the craving common in every man–white, red, or black–for more than he has, for more than his share; that prideful warring to complete himself, and only himself, despite consequences to another. I have come to this conclusion: genuine completion is not meant to be found on this earth, at all.”   — Eleanor Dugan Parke, c.1799

The Wind That Shakes The Corn was Runner-up for the Josiah Bancroft Award for Novel sponsored by Florida First Coast Writers, and a Finalist in the New Orleans Pirate’s Alley Society William Faulkner/William Wisdom Writing Competition.

If you are interested in reviewing The Wind That Shakes The Corn, please let me know by replying here, and I will get in touch with you.

file0001191597629“In the novelist’s case, prophecy is a matter of seeing near things with their extensions of meaning and thus of seeing far things close up. The prophet is a realist of distances, and it is this kind of realism that you find in the best modern instances of the grotesque. Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one.” Flannery O’Connor

What are the “far things” O’Connor is talking about?—the connection between close-up realism on Earth and a higher spiritual Truth. God and our relationship with Him, however weak or strong or strange; this is what O’Connor writes about. This is what I strive to write about, too.

To show God’s presence in the world, a writer who wants to bring far things close up often uses the strange or the outlandish. O’Connor called it the ‘grotesque.’ She was an author who wrote fifty years ago, when not only the South, but most other areas recognized the outlandish as just that.

Today, the rules concerning what is strange have changed. Oddity has become almost normal. Yet God hasn’t changed. He is just as apparent in our world, maybe even more so. And to present Him in fiction, a writer cannot use quietly sentimental fluff to show His action through people. Because God’s action– His grace–coming to fruition in people who want to be restored is sometimes harsh. A writer concerned with presenting the chance of salvation has to come to grips with this noisy, often nasty and distracted world.

Many of us yearn for a chance of restoration. And most readers have a desire for some redemptive act in a novel or story that offers the chance of restoration as well. We long for that moment of grace that will turn us, or better us, or lift us up to higher place in the eyes of those we love. Yet we often forget that the price of restoration sometimes takes the grotesqueness of a crucifixion.

From a distance, I watch the red veil of silt cover the box they bury. He is so far away from me now. If I could go back to the night of his death, I’d cut out my tongue before I could say what I said to him. I did not mean those words. I loved Peck. Always. And I always will.
–from “The Distance Between High and Low”

IN COMPLETE CONTROL???

Posted: November 2, 2017 in World On The Edge

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Life isn’t easy. Each of us face problems, and sometimes we don’t know which way to turn in solving those problems or in making our lives better. Sometimes there seems to be no answer to our difficulties–at least none that we can come up with on our own. We are like leaves haphazardly blowing in the wind.

But why do we feel that we have to be in complete charge of every aspect of our lives? Why are we so afraid to give up control and surrender ourselves and our problems totally to the will of God?

Is it that we don’t believe that He loves us—-really and personally loves each one of us? Because if we don’t first believe that He loves us, then there’s no way we’ll trust Him.

Stop a minute and think about it. The person I trust most in the world is the person who loves me, who wants only the best for me, and would lay down his life for me if he had to.

If I believe that Almighty God loves me—-and he does–then why shouldn’t I trust Him enough to surrender all?

Mary, the mother of Jesus, surrendered. If she hadn’t, there would be no Jesus Christ. If she hadn’t, there would be no Christianity. If she hadn’t, we’d never have heard the words, “eternal life.” In fact, we would have no idea how to attain it.

Mary allowed God to use her; and yes, she could have said no. She had free will just like the rest of us. Almighty God would never have forced her to bear His son.

For a moment, put yourself in her position. When Mary was asked to be that vessel by a messenger from God, what would she have thought–“Am I going crazy? Do I really see an angel? Am I dreaming?”

She was engaged to be married. How would Joseph react if she turned up pregnant? He had the right to have her stoned. But there was something in her, a grace given by God that allowed her to trust that the angel was His messenger. She didn’t ask for proof that she would become the mother of the Redeemer. Her only question was, “How?” She trusted that nothing is impossible for God, and then she surrendered.

“I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to thy will.” Luke 1:38