Here’s a great article on Christian Fiction speaking about how the need to evangelize through one’s work can kill the story. I’d have to agree. Writing a good story should be enough to get some of one’s worldview across without slamming the reader over the head with it. After all, it’s really God who converts each individual soul, no need to write as if this responsibility rested entirely on oneself.

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agendaI’ve been reading a lot of articles lately that ponder what’s wrong with Christian fiction. It’s a conversation that never ends. No one can ever figure out why stories by Christian authors aren’t held in higher esteem, why men aren’t reading Christian fiction, why we can’t measure up to C.S. Lewis, why Christian publishers are reluctant to deal in Christian speculative fiction, and so on, and on, and on. We never get to an answer, but we have a crackin’ good time arguing about it.

Author and reviewer Jeffrey Overstreet had an interesting take on this issue a few days ago:

If truth and beauty and mystery — those things that make us wonder about God and salvation and the meaning of life — are what make a book “Christian,” than I’d argue that most of the best “Christian books” were not written by Christians, and you can find them all over…

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Good Friday and the Start of the Divine Mercy Novena

Well, here’s the day commemorating Our Lord’s victory over sin, death, and the devil. The day mercy triumphed over justice! (To quote Our Lord’s words to St. Faustina) I just want to remind everyone to immerse all the world, especially poor sinners, into the mercy Christ won for us on the cross and to take a little time, by meditating on the Stations of the Cross, the Passion narrative, a crucifix, the Pieta, the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, or some other worthy method, to remember the great love Our Lord has for us.

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If you’d like a link to how to pray the Divine Mercy Novena, here you are: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/mercy/novena.htm.

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Is Sexuality Natural or Acquired?: No. 6’s Take on the Issue

A while back, I enjoyed the distinct pleasure of watching the highly imaginative story produced by the noitaminA studio named No. 6.  Whether another yaoi will ever grab me in this way, I highly doubt.  Then again, the homosexuality of the characters was toned down to two kisses and a beautiful friendship–if only it had only remained the latter!  The heroes struck me as a modern Orestes and Pylades.  (Please read a little Aschylus or Euripides if that reference went over your head.  You won’t regret it, especially Euripides: Ten Plays, translated by Paul Roche.)

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But, I digress.  Since many reviews of this show have already been posted across the blogosphere and watching the first episode should be enough to convince most any otaku of good taste to watch it, I intend to to focus on the peculiarities of the relationship between the two protagonists, Nezumi and Shion, juxtaposed to that of Shion and Safu.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this series, Shion lives a cozy life in one of the six remaining major cities to have survived an apocalyptic event.  He is enrolled in a program for gifted children, where he meets Safu, a precocious young girl who becomes his childhood friend.  (I must confess to have been shipping for this relationship to win out, but was sadly and morally disappointed.)  Around Shion’s twelfth birthday, he takes a fugitive of the same age into his home for medical treatment.  Unfortunately, the authorities discover this and punish Shion and his mother by removing them from their cushy lifestyle and suspending their privileges.  (No matter.  His mother seems happier as a baker anyway.  On the balance of the scales, a career as a baker must always be prefered to practically any high paying job with its workplace politics, stress, and long hours.)

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Shion and Safu do not separate as they grow into adulthood.  Yet, a very odd mood adheres to this relationship.  Shion possesses a very logical, Spock-like air about her or, to be more precise, she may be considered a tactless, female Spock.  Twice, she emotionless requests Shion’s sperm, which is very odd for a girl who’s otherwise perfectly okay to take home to mother.  This rationality about male-female relationships, while being endearing on some level, overly de-romanticizes their relationship.  I think that the show might go so far as to claim that love between men and women is dull and ordinary–a matter of course like death and taxes.  Nothing energizes the relationship between Shion and Safu; though, one can’t deny some latent passion between the two of them, which becomes apparent as the series progresses.

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On the other hand, the friendship between Shion and Nezumi is dynamic, fun, and full of surprises.  (Why couldn’t they just stay good friends?)  When Nezumi meets Shion again after growing up, we discover that he forms part of a resistance group operating in a slum outside of the city of No. 6, is more well-read than you or I will ever be, and performs in theatrical productions.  (In the case portrayed in the anime, he stars as a woman, which would be okay if the theatrical situation was as in Shakesperian or Ancient Atheinian times, but not so much here.)  On the other hand, Shion proves to be tougher and more resourceful than Nezumi thought possible.  Contrast that with the mundane relationship between Shion and Safu!

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But are these facts enough to lay the ground for a romantic relationship between members of the same sex?  I mean, some hold the opinion that all friendships are latently sexual, but that opinion appears rather hare-brained to me and anyone else with real friends.  What is certain about the writer for No. 6 is that they deny that people have a set sexuality given from birth.  Somehow, one’s sexuality is formed by experience, a view which most people refuse to hold.  After all, most arguments as to why people should tolerate homosexuals and attempt to accomodate their lifestyle rely on the idea that homosexuals derive their sexual orientation from their nature; therefore, are neither responsible for it nor capable of changing.  The situation presented in No. 6 avers that we wish to become most intimate with those we find most engaging and that full intimacy involves engaging them on a romantic level.

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An interesting thought, but most friendships don’t turn down the road of homosexuality–no matter how boring the same people might find their spouses or lovers in comparison to their friends.  Men in particular seem to be placed in situations where they can develop intensely close relationships to one another: going camping, military service, fishing, hunting, sports, cigar smoking, and a host of other activities from which their womenfolk tend to be excluded.  Can sexual orientation really be the result of conditioning as the show purports?

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I would argue against the notion that sexuality is conditioned.  The nature of heterosexual relationships allows for it to continuously evolve and become more interesting in a way that homosexual love cannot.  Love constantly needs to grow.  The means by which married love (the proper end of heterosexual relationships) grows is through the nurturing and education of children.  The bond between the couple becomes stronger through watching their children’s struggles, seeing how their spouse interacts with each child, and seeing different reflections of themselves and their spouses in their children.  This is something denied to homosexual couples–even in the case of adoption.  Their love cannot evolve in the same way because they cannot generate children.  This leads to a stagnation and loss of love–something which plagues heterosexual couples badly enough–and must even be worse in the case of homosexual couples.  Hence, God, in his infinite wisdom, created each side of humanity with a specific nature, and the respective ends of this nature are clearly pictured at the end of Genesis chapter 2.

How to Imitate the Good Thief

Happy Palm Sunday, dear readers!  Here’s an article on a different subject than which I had promised earlier, but today’s reading on the Passion of Christ struck me so forcibly  that it would be a crime not to write about it.  The part in particular which struck me is the story of the Good Thief.  Now, I claim this to be my favorite story in the Bible; yet, my ignorance of all the implications of this story was very clearly laid out to me.  Let’s quote it here in full:

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35 And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!” 38 Now there was also an inscription above Him, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

39 One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:35-43)

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You notice that I quoted a little more than the story of the Good Thief.  This shows the general trend of people mocking Jesus, saying “Are you really the Messiah?”  I opine that the crowds, soldiers, and synagogue officials represent those people nowadays who are outside of the Church and refuse to believe.  Not only do they refuse to believe, but they even ridicule the idea of a Crucified God.  If only they would stop ridiculing Him, they might be converted like the centurion who says after Jesus breathes His last: “This man was innocent beyond doubt.” (Luke 23:47)

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But, I really do not wish to focus on the figures above, but rather the two thieves crucified with Jesus, who represent two kinds of Christians.  I say represent Christians because all Christians were baptized into the Passion and Death of Christ as well as into Our Lord’s Resurrection to new life.  So, we have to carry our crosses and be crucified on them eventually.  Note how the Bad Thief speaks to Our Lord: “Are You not the Christ?  Save Yourself and us!”  I feel that for the past while I had imitated the bad thief, and those who are troubled by the Problem of Evil or the Problem of Pain are rather similar.  Christians like this say: “Are you not all powerful?  Why do I have to suffer so much?  Is it really possible to suffer this much?  Take me down from this cross and just give me the Kingdom without a cross!”

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Then, there are humble Christians who realize that we must follow our Master all the way up Mt. Calvary, and say, like the Good Thief: “Justly do I suffer these things!  If I had not sinned, this would not be happening to me!  If I had not so much pride, this would not be happening!  Jesus suffered more than the human mind can fathom, and He was a pure and unblemished Lamb.  Ought I not to drain the cup my sins have merited?”

Jesus Speaks to the Good Thief.

Jesus Speaks to the Good Thief.

Then, instead of turning to Jesus and begging to be taken down from the cross, the Good Thief asks: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”  The Good Thief is not asking to be taken down from his cross; instead, he asks for salvation.  This salvation does not require freedom from suffering, but freedom and purification from sin and the promise of eternal life.  We should all try to imitate St. Augustine, who begged not to be spared pain in this life so that he might suffer less after death–referring to purgatory, I suppose.

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Then, by imitating the Good Thief, we shall receive words of consolation from God.  Jesus spoke to neither the crowds nor the bad thief because of their lack of faith.  But, if we have faith and do not blame God for any evil which befalls us, then Jesus shall speak to us and console us in our sufferings.  By continuing in this attitude, we shall one day hear the most consoling words of all: “Truly I say to you, today, you shall be with me in paradise.”

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Preview

Well, I haven’t had as much time as I would like for writing on this blog lately, so I just want to tell you what you may expect in the near future when I have more time. I’ll probably get to two or three of these ideas:

1. Little endorsements for the manga I’m currently reading.

2. The Denaturalization of sexuality in No. 6 (I actually have a rough draft written, but it needs a little work.)

3. Descriptions of the anime I’m currently watching

4. A Review of Pappy Boyington’s memoirs

5. A rant about why I won’t watch any new Bond films

If any of these appeal to you, please tell me!  Here’s a picture of the merciless and bloodthirsty heroine of Superior–perhaps my favorite manga now.

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