Saturday, August 31, 2013

Memory's Door

When I requested this book, I didn’t realize that it was the second in a series.  However, I managed to follow the characters and events fairly well.
Spiritual warfare is a difficult genre to write because of the fine line between speculation and accurate doctrine.   Since I have not studied the topic in any depth—and as a Baptist, I tend to be wary of such claims—I can only offer my opinion based on gut feelings. 
As fiction,  Memory’s Door  is interesting. As doctrine…that’s where things get fuzzy. The “opposing side” was realistically portrayed—they were given enough points to be sympathetic, but enough flaws to be realistic opponents.  However, I’m not so sure the protagonists were accurate in their theology.   I can’t point out any particular flaws, but the general nature of fiction, especially speculative fiction, makes it hard to separate the two.
Perhaps I’d understand the theology better if I’d read the previous book. However, I did think that the showdown at the end of the book is well-written and plays with the reader’s expectations. While I was genre-savvy enough to recognize the trap,  it was still a believable threat.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review from Thomas Nelson’s booksneeze program.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Thrice-Told Tales: We’re All Mad Here

The story of  Alice in Wonderland is one of the early examples of Victorian literature directed at children. I didn't read it too many times when I was younger, but the crazy logic (or lack thereof) has given rise to all sorts of theories about the sanity of its author and audience. People also confuse the first book with events from the sequel, Through the Looking Glass.  I can't really testify one way or the other, but I will say that the Disney animated version crept me out  when I watched it.

The 2010 Tim Burton adaptation is even tripper. I mean, I don't exactly know what's going on, beside that 19-yr-old Alice is having a seriously weird day after refusing to marry some minor dignitary or royalty.  Depp always creeps me out anyway (his Willy Wonka was unsettling, and only part of that was the androgynous costume).

My personal favorite adaptation is The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor. In this version, Alyss Heart barely escapes her aunt's invasion and ends up in our world.  There is also the companion Hatter M. graphic novels, beautifully illustrated stories of Hatter Milligan searching our world for Alyss. The Lewis Carroll novels, in this au, are garbled versions of the stories Alyss told a friend of her adopted family.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Over the past few months, I've been seeing past my simple views and learning more about what the church really is. It hurts.
It really started my freshman year of college, when I spent a year at a megachurch location. We had a strong rivalry with the other Christian university in our area, and with over 50 people in Sunday School, it was hard to connect with anyone.
Anyway, my next year I joined a friend’s church, because she was involved in Awana there. The college Sunday  School was really good, and they even had snacks. Last year, there were some changes in Sunday School, but I get used to it after a while. 
Now, back to my home church. Our youth pastor resigned about a year ago due to some disagreements about where sixth graders be Sundays vs Wednesdays, as well as parental authority.  So they had almost got to looking at candidates when our senior pastor resigned. 
At the moment, we have an interim pastor. And for most of the summer, we had a group Sunday school. We’d take prayer requests, watch a hands-on demonstration, and then send the 1st graders and younger downstairs before watching a section of Randy Alcorn’s Heaven series and discussing it. Now, in case you don’t  know, I’m an introvert. So this was really hard for me. And to top it all off, guess who’s in change of college student ministry at my home church (when we arrive, mostly over breaks)? The pastor’s wife.  
And then the youth pastor comes back as a two-year interim, which is great (especially for my younger brother), but still, it’s just all wibbly and not in a fun way.
Now that I’m back at college, I’m really looking forward to my college group at church here…but then they decided we are just going to have a lot of activities and no Sunday school.  I mean, I do get to sleep in later, but I was fine with no extra sleep if it meant I got a good small group time…
I guess, since I grew up in the same church all my life, I’ve never been able to think about it as a thing. It was just there. And because I was homeschooled for years and my extended family was far away, it was my social life.  I never had to think about how it worked or problems, because I didn’t see them.  And now I am. They’re too big for even me to ignore. 
It’s not that they’re all bad things. Some are just uncomfortable; I know church isn’t supposed to be about me, but some of these things aren’t healthy for others either. And I don’t have an answer yet.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Thrice-Told Tales: The London Underground

“I mean, maybe I am crazy. I mean, maybe. But if this is all there is, then I don't want to be sane. ” 
--Richard Mayhew

For the last three posts in this series, I will be focusing on stories with multiple adaptations and interpretations, but that still have a definite author.  First of all, I'd like to introduce you to Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, an urban fantasy set in London. When Richard Mayhew helps an injured girl, he ends up in a strange world that mimics his own.  There's still Earl's Court and Blackfriars and a voice shouting 'Mind the Gap,' but there's an Earl in Earl's Court, the Blackfriars hold a key, and the Gap's a lot larger than expected...

This story began as a six-part BBC drama, but is best known as the novel written afterwards.  It was also adapted into a comic (don't bother) and an excellent Radio 4 drama that will be out in early September featuring Benedict Cumberbatch,   James MacAvoy, Christopher Lee, and Bernard Cribbins, among others.

Because the author was involved with all three productions, there is not much difference between them, though I would recommend the radio production first, if only to hear Benedict Cumberbatch's singing voice.  The book is excellent as well, though the TV show looks rather dated. But hey, try them all if you like.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Thrice-Told Tales: And then I'll brush and brush, and brush and brush my hair...

Although the story of Rapunzel is fairly well known, it is less-frequently adapted than some of the others, especially Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast.  Part of the reason may include the undercurrents of parental neglect and  (in some versions) teenage pregnancy. 
One version I've read is Zel by Napoli.  When I first read it, I didn't even recognize the original source.  However, if you read it with that knowledge, it provides an entirely different perspective on the story. 
I don't really need to say much about Tangled, the 2010 Disney film, besides that the songs are amazing, the characters are well-developed,and the artwork is gorgeous. 

My last recommendation is a short story written by a friend. The Captain of Chi Lung featured a role-reversed retelling in an Asian setting. Unfortunately, there's no overall link, so you'll have to sort through the ones I provided.