Archive for the ‘World On The Edge’ Category

THE LITERATURE OF BELIEF….

Posted: December 9, 2017 in World On The Edge

CHRISTUS LECTURE SERIES: “THE LITERATURE OF BELIEF”

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Authors Dr. Ron O’Gorman and Kaye Park Hinckley discuss how their Catholic imaginations influence their writing.

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 work. It is a matter of degree whether the work becomes art, or whether it is turned into propaganda.

Expression of belief in God 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; 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 spiritually and physically.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand. – Albert Einstein

Well, that would have to be the imagination of our Creator. With a magnitude that is inconceivable to us, only God knows all and understands all.

The root word in “imagination” is image. God used his imagination to create us. We are made in the image and likeness of God. We are made with memory, imagination, and will.

Free will.

For Human Beings, it is our memory that leads to imagination. And imagination causes us to freely act.

We use our memory to recall events of our life, and those events can stoke our imagination positively, such as the memory of our best Christmas or Thanksgiving so far, and that leads to next year, and then the action of how we’ll create an even better Christmas or Thanksgiving.

Memory can also stoke a negative imagination. Someone did me wrong last week, and then the action of how will I get back at him?

Our memories are entirely our own. If we choose to re-hash and re-hash past hurts, it is no one’s fault but ours that we are miserable. It’s no wonder that our lives seem dark and confusing.

We have an imagination that can alleviate that.

Our imagination can bring light back to our lives when we look at the bad situation with a different perspective. Then with our free will, we can choose to ‘act out’ in a positive way.

All this, through our imagination. But too often, we don’t, or won’t, use it.

It’s our imagination that allows us to move on and keep going, because it allows us to forgive. Our Creator never remembers our sins once we’ve repented them. If we are made in His image and likeness, and by His imagination, then shouldn’t we try to do the same?

Got a Sinner’s Heart???

Posted: December 5, 2017 in World On The Edge

sinner's eye

Sin enters the heart of every human being.

The stimuli of our five senses is taken in from our environment and sent to our brain which processes the information. To make it simple, we then have a spiritual ability to choose a response–a good response or a bad response. Sometimes we choose the bad response over the good–because every human being has the capability of sin within his heart.

And we sin frequently.

If it wasn’t true, we wouldn’t have needed the Crucifixion, would we?

The question is: What do we do when our sinner’s heart wins out?

Well, let’s first talk about SIN, that human action we don’t want to recognize, the thing or things in our lives we want to keep secret, the things that we cover up so no one will see.

Some of these thought-to-be-hidden human actions are splattered all over the news today. A public hungry for sensationalism can’t get enough of them. Call them out! Show them up! Punish them with a debilitating crucifixion of their own! The Crowd Mentality.

But watch out for that mentality, for who among us is NOT a sinner?

Watch out for those who cast stones, for they may be next. It’s called Hypocrisy, and hypocrites are sinners, too. And they will never have the last laugh. Evil acts do not go forever unpunished.

There are certain moral laws—yes, laws of morality– that must be followed if we want peace and harmony in our world. Without those laws, sin abounds. An abundance of sinfulness is all around us. We see it– and if we are truthful, we see it in ourselves as well.

So, how do we treat a sinner? How do we treat members of our family, our friends? How do we treat someone like ourselves?

How did Jesus Christ treat them?

Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners. Mark 2:17

There is, of course, punishment for sin here on Earth. Our system of laws provides for that. When our country was formed and laws written in the Constitution by our Founders, those laws were based on Spiritual laws that dealt with morality. People break laws when they act immorally—ie. when they do not love their neighbor with  honesty and compassion, or when they do not love themselves as God loves them.

All of us have a sinner’s heart. But we also have a loving heart, set into us by God—a heart of mercy, kindness, and caring about others and our world.

The bottom line is that our human struggle on Earth will always be between the division of good and evil in in the soul of each one of us. Choosing power, or money, or sex, will not satisfy our hearts. Only genuine love–love akin to God’s love–can do that; so shouldn’t aim for it instead? It’s already within us, and stronger than our sinner’s heart. We only have to call out for Him, and follow His lead.

God Has Blessed Americans

Posted: November 22, 2017 in World On The Edge
morguefile free photo

morguefile free photo

THANKSGIVING means Gratitude, and that is a big word, and far-reaching. Stretch it out–from one end of your life to the other–and consider when you’ve been grateful and when you haven’t. Consider the things you often overlook, things you take for granted, such as being an American.

When things go well for us, it’s easy to feel grateful. But think about those times in our lives when gratitude was absolutely not felt because we were hurt in some way; disappointed, or betrayed. At times, we may even feel this way about our country and her leaders. It sounds crazy to be grateful for that, doesn’t it?

Think about how disappointment or betrayal has affected us. Think about how we hated it, how depressed we were, how we may have wanted to strike back. During those times, anything remotely resembling gratitude was dead and buried.

But then, how did those disappointments and betrayals change us? Did we only whine, “poor me?” Or did we become stronger?

Difficult times will produce action on our part. Those actions can be negative or positive. It’s our choice. In other words, we can continue to live and love, or we can kill of that part of ourselves–and our country– with a pity party.

It may sound silly, even a little sadistic, to say to yourself: Be grateful for this difficult time. But if we look ahead, past the pain we are experiencing, we can often see something new happening.

A woman in labor experiences trauma and pain, but she sees a new life coming, too. And she is grateful for that. Isn’t it possible to look at the painful traumas of our life in the same way? None of us enjoy pain; and why should we? Some may go through it with resignation, a stiff upper lip, but is that the best way? Or is the best way to be grateful to God for all the events of our lives as Americans?

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.–James 1:2-5

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”