Summer Seminar, Joy Writers

Our Summer Seminar for Joy Writers begins tomorrow. If you are in the Roswell area and interested in honing your writing skills and enjoying good fellowship, come by the Roswell Public Library. We will begin at 9:00 in the Bondurant Room.

The seminar will be led by our fearless leader, Eva McCollaum. You can find her blog here. Speak with her if you would like to join us, or come by.

We read Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley as our novel for the seminar this year.

Set in Los Angeles in 1948, the young black man easy-going Easy Rawlings, tells his story first hand. Recently fired due to racism, Easy is anxious to pay the mortgage on his home. In the first scene Easy meets DeWitt Albright, a white man  with pale eyes and pale skin, wearing off-white linen. For me the first scene sets up the book in a memorable way. DeWitt continues to live in my memory after several years. He is menacing from the get-go.

Easy reluctantly accepts money from DeWitt to find a young woman, Daphne Monet who likes to associate with black people. The reader watches as Easy Rawlings tries not to take the job, then slowly becomes entangled in trouble. Two of his associates are killed and he is drug further into a complicated web of intrigue spun by Daphne and her would-be love.

One reviewer mentions a favorite character from the book, Mouse who appears about two-thirds of the way through the novel. Mouse is brutal and quixotic, but he twice saves Easy’s life. At the end of a passage where Easy and Mouse strike a deal to let Easy call the shots, Mouse says,” Whatever you say Easy, Maybe you gonna show me how a poor man can live wit’out blood.” It’s a telling line and describes how Mouse survives.

I recommend this book if your read noir detective fiction. Read it for the characters, Easy, Mouse, DeWitt and a host of other well drawn people, read it for the setting, Los Angeles in 1948, and finally read it for a study of racism then and now.

Enough for now. Bev

Also posted on justonebeggar.net

Fluffy not Stuffy

Blog post Fluffy not stuffyIn 1972, Three Musketeers released an add campaign for their candy bar claiming it was, ‘fluffy not stuffy.’ It was an unusual idea for a candy bar. I thought of this add campaign when I heard someone say that God must want her fluffy since most of her efforts at exercise were dashed before they could begin. I laughed and thinking I might claim the line for myself.  Later, I found myself trying to explain to an occasional believer and dear friend, why the line tickled me so.

My friend was appalled at the lengths many believers would go to blame God for our lack of will power, and remarked, “You people are so eager to give yourselves excuses.”

“No you see it’s only funny because of that very reason,” I began, but I smiled and shook my head. Before I could get far into the conversation, I realized that the comment was funny to me because it frivolously embodied several arguments/apologies, the fruits of the Spirit, free will and God’s will, and to some extent, false humility.

Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. The casual comment implied that God had not gifted the woman with that particular fruit. To my mind, that was a charming jumble of human-ness. While the fruits of the Spirit can be considered gifts of God, they are more closely the harvest in humans of a right relationship with God. In this passage in Galatians, Paul tells us what to expect as we humble ourselves before the Lord. He also tells us what we might look for in others to deepen our joy and quicken our hearts. Paul begins by calling us free, and gives us a discussion of the considerations of our free will, within God’s will. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery,” Galatians 5:1. He is speaking of being a slave to sin. In the comment about fluffy, we can see that we have sinned in so many ways, sinned by blaming God for our silliness, sinned by acts of the flesh which Paul lists, see Galatians 5:19-21, and sinned by using our free will to appease our appetites rather than seek a stronger relationship to God.

As for false humility, in claiming fluffiness, we are confessing our lack of perfection by the world’s standards. But fluffiness is a cute way to describe something ugly. We are confessing, but not really. In his book, Humility, Andrew Murray puts it this way. “The call to humility has been too little regarded in the Church because its true nature and importance has been too little apprehended. It is not something which we bring to God, or which He bestows; it is simply the sense of entire nothingness which comes when we see how truly God is all, and in which we make way for God to be all.” If God were truly all in our lives, our fluffiness would not be an issue because our self-ness would not be an issue. Whether we were fluffy of stuffy, would not be an issue.

For me, the over-arching point of Galatians 5 is that we are freed by Jesus. The Gospel message is true. Sometimes it is light as a fragrant Spring dawn. Free will in side of God’s will is a concept best explained empirically and demonstrated in the fruits of the Spirit. We are free, but our will is lessened as we grow closer to God. Our petulant demands to do what we want to do, become memories. Our rights inside of God’s will delight us. We are identified by our choices, good and bad and yet God loves us so, that He sent Jesus. We can make a joke at our own expense. We are free to laugh at ourselves knowing that what we mean is, God I long to do better and be better, but thank you Jesus for my freedom. Our gratitude overwhelms us.

(This is re-posted from justonebeggar.net)

What are You?

Beautiful thanks Eva

Choosing Ebenezer

I have asked my students to define their own culture.  It’s tricky, isn’t it?  Culture and race are different, at least to my mind.  Your race you inherit.  You have nothing to say about it.  Your culture you can bend.  You can embrace parts and leave others behind.  Your grandpa was a racist?  You don’t have to be.  Your grandma had eleven children?  You are not required to have any.

Here are the things I embrace about my culture.  I am a third generation New Mexican.  That means I like green chile on everything except the stuff I prefer with red chile.  I do NOT believe in rain (it’s just a myth) unless I am drenched by it.  I think Texas has an overblown sense of importance, but I like Texans, sweet and simple as they are.  I do not believe in following people closely on the highway.  Give all…

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For the Reader

Excellent Glad for the post and thank you for the Joy Reader

Choosing Ebenezer

This month the JOY Writers are having one of their two yearly public readings at the Roswell Museum and Art Center.  It will be held in the Bassett Auditorium on January 21 at 2:00 pm.  The reading is free and refreshments will be served.  As part of this yearly tradition, we are bring out The JOY Reader, a collection of work from the group that will be available at the reading in January and at a reading in February (the 18th).  The collection will also be available online at LULU.com.  I’ll include a link in this blog post.

Anyway, I have a contribution to the reader that I am including here.  The group read it, gave me some feedback, I’ve revised it, and I offer it here.  It was fun to write.  It’s titled “Numinous.”

Some years ago, I’m not sure how many, but over thirty, my oldest cousin…

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Boo!

Boo post

Since we’re leading up to an evening of ghost stories at Stellar Coffee Co on Thursday night, and since my son asked, “what makes a good ghost story,” I thought I’d ponder the subject of terrifying tales and frightening fables over a cup of coffee and a blog post.
As I perused the internet for ideas, fear or the unknown kept cropping up. Let me argue this one a little. I don’t like the unknown, and, yes, I fear it, but when I, the reader, know something that the protagonist doesn’t, I get to fear for them. Don’t hide in that shed Veronica, that’s where the madman hangs out and he’s just fashioned a new garrote from a piano wire and a steel plate. Yikes.
In the Masque of the Red Death, Poe tells the reader much of what Prince Prospero doesn’t know. The nobles are indifferent to the suffering of others and it will be their undoing. This isn’t the same as Veronica in the example above, but it is similar in that the reader knows something the main character doesn’t. The fright comes in the form of the Red Death, but the greater fright is the charge to the reader, be compassionate, remember those less fortunate and those who struggle, lest you also become entangled with a similar specter.
When the author wants to upset the reader’s balance, fear of the unknown is a singularly useful tool. For the real scary stuff, the author doesn’t want a whole new world, but a parallel creepy one, complete with my not-face in the mirror. Remember the Shining? I never could get my footing watching that movie and I’ve seen parts of it several times. And what about the Twilight Zone?
When I was very young, I saw a Don Knotts’ movie, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. In it the organ begins to play at midnight. It plays a horrible discordant tune that still scares me to this day. I covered my eyes and ears for this silly movie from the time the organ played until the ending credits rolled. The point for me was that discord. I could handle the minor key, but the jerky rhythm and harsh tones put me so far off center that I had to close it out. Though it was a funny movie and the girls I was with enjoyed it, I couldn’t finish it. It scared me.
What else? Senses or lack of them, can be useful to heighten tension. If a narrator hears things only he can hear, as in the Tell-Tale Heart, or can’t see, or maybe smells something that triggers a memory, especially if it is a memory of someone long gone. For years I kept a bottle of my grandmother’s perfume in my dresser. I could open that bottle and instantly return to a childhood afternoon in her garden. Any afternoon with Granny was filled with wonder and adventure. The smell of freshly turned earth can signal spring or a new grave, author’s choice.
On to setting. No place to run, or escape. Boxed in or, alone in the middle of a vast nowhere, both work to signal despair, no one is on the way. Turn and meet your fate, narrator.
Well, my coffee cup needs a warmer, so I’ll leave off for now.
Let me know what scares you, reader. Until next time, mu ha ha.

This is also published at Just One Beggar