The main focus of this BLOG, is to uphold those simple, and clearly defined truths, that are so often missing from Christian life and conversation.
(There may also be the odd film or book review along the way as well as stories from my life)
If you wish to use material from these posts, you may do so, but please respect the work of the writer. Proper attribution, and accurate quoting that is faithful to the context is appreciated.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Book Review. Marley and Me.

There are certain actors, that for me are a kind of "no go zone." I'm quite sure you're the same. If they're the star of a film, you probably won't go and see it. For me, one of those actors is Owen Wilson. Jennifer Aniston falls into a similar vein, but has at least attempted some films with more weight to them. So naturally, I didn't bother to see the movie release of Marley and Me. I don't have a grudge against Owen Wilson, I just don't rate him as a serious actor. I find him one dimensional, and I don't think he's good enough too carry a film, especially one with so much emotional weight as this.

With all this bad publicity running around in my own head, I wasn't likely to pick up the book. But it was recommended to me by someone in my writers group. When I saw it in a second hand bin I thought I should give the writer a chance.

Lately, I've been reading a lot of books that have gone to film. Mostly, films are a poor interpretation of the writers intention. They do not convey the heart and weight of the story. In future, if I want a good story I may just pay the equivalent of a movie ticket on a book.

Which brings me to this book.

John Grogan  is an award winning journalist and columnist. So it's a pretty good bet that he knows how to write a story. He does, and he does it very well.

He wrote Marley and Me in 2005, it was a best seller. The film was released in 2008. So yes, I am a little late with the review, but let's continue anyway.

Marley and Me is his own, or rather his dogs story, in fact it's both. Actually, it encompasses the whole family, and as Marley grows, so do they. The Grogan's wanted to try raising a dog before they tried being parents. If raising the worlds worst dog is an adequate primer for parenthood? Well I don't know about that. What I do know is this. It is a story of; joy, frustration, grief, celebration and life. It is heart warming and heart wrenching.

Marley is a big lunatic goof ball of a Golden Labrador. He will barge his way through the screen door of your heart, and leave fur balls behind. He was expelled from obedience school, but wins hearts everywhere.

Grogan has written this story with warts and all honesty. He let's us in, even into the most personal moments of deepest despair. If he's pulled any of his punches, he hasn't pulled them by much. He will make you laugh out loud, then give you a moment to cry. You will do both and won't be able to put this book down. Even when you know it's going to hurt if you continue. But he doesn't leave you there, in the end he lets you recover. He gives the reader hope. It's not a happy ending, but it is a healthy one.

After reading this book, you probably shouldn't go straight out and buy a dog. But if you love a good well written story, you should definitely go out and get a copy of this book. I'm certainly glad I did.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Emotional Cloud.

In our enlightened modern society, it has become increasingly difficult to have a simple little thing like, an opinion.

It used to be said, "Never talk about Religion and Politics." Well that list seems to be growing. Now it is nigh on impossible to hold an opinion publicly on any number of newly taboo, hot button topics. Subjects such as; Climate Change, Asylum Seekers, Same Sex Marriage, Euthanasia, Abortion, Indigenous Rights and many more.

Dare to express an opinion that is contrary to the accepted mainstream view, i.e. the one that is  most loudly trumpeted in the media by the overly vocal minority activist, and you get labelled "Hater," in a flood of intolerant backlash. It matters not if your views are indeed hateful or not, it has been expressed, and it differs to theirs, that is enough.

There have been many instances in the past year, of people being publicly castigated, even persecuted for their traditional views on marriage. Orson Scott Card, and the CEO Of Mozilla for instance. They have been labelled "Hateful" simply because they hold an opinion, dared to express it, or acted on the conviction of their belief.

But this is not a new phenomena, and it is not unique to a select few. It is common to all of us. We view life through an emotional cloud. We attach identity to issues.

A common joke in journalism, I'm sure you've heard it, says. "Never let the facts get in the way of a good story."

Well I fear we tend to do just that. Why don't we take the opposite stance. Let's try this.

Don't let a good story get in the way of the facts.

This was highlighted to me recently, in one of those tedious emotionally charged posts that circulate in social media.

This one was about some guy in Africa, who worked with Elephants. The post was wrought with highly emotive details about how all these Elephants walked for "days" to stand at his property to mourn his death. A beautifully told story. But it wasn't true. Well the part about his death was true.
Then I looked at the comments below the post, because quite honestly, I smelled a rat. Sure enough, there were comments from people that had bothered to do the research, and proved the inaccuracies in the tale.

Predictably, there was a backlash, comments along the lines of. "I don't care what truth you have dug up from wherever, it's a beautiful story." Yes, but it's not true. That's the problem, the story got in the way of the facts.

We all do it. We attach too much importance on a fictional T.V. character. We take ownership of an issue, we hold to a particular political party, a football team or code, and all else fades from view. Our attachment clouds our vision, worse, it clouds our ability to reason.

I'm about to take a very treacherous journey into the unknown. I'm writing a book, it's my second, but this one's a novel, my own creation. Today, I finished the second draft. Like most writers, I'm very close to it, too close in fact. So I have to submit it to some first readers. I no longer know if it is a good story or even well written. I've read and reread, rewritten, edited, scrapped bits, added other bits and generally spent so much time staring at the words that I am no longer certain. I have to let go. I have to entrust this thing to others. I need an objective view.

I'm writing this today, to remind myself, to step out of the emotional cloud, and face the facts. Whatever they may be. Hopefully, it will make me, and my writing, stronger.