A New Weather Service

For those of us in geekdom that need a better way to appreciate the local weather beyond the tired “sunny” or “rainy”, Spoiled for the Ordinary is pleased to point you to a new paradigm:

Forget your Republic-issue thermal underwear?
Is it sunny where you are? It may be like Tatooine. Winter here in Idaho is best idenified by Hoth. The brainchild of Tom Scott, this new weather site is unlike any other in the galaxy. Be sure to read the screen carefully for tidbits only Star Wars fans will love.
And I dare ya to enter a fictitious place…
Hat tip to Technabob via Wired.
Yub-nub!

A New Weather Service

For those of us in geekdom that need a better way to appreciate the local weather beyond the tired “sunny” or “rainy”, Spoiled for the Ordinary is pleased to point you to a new paradigm:

Forget your Republic-issue thermal underwear?
Is it sunny where you are? It may be like Tatooine. Winter here in Idaho is best idenified by Hoth. The brainchild of Tom Scott, this new weather site is unlike any other in the galaxy. Be sure to read the screen carefully for tidbits only Star Wars fans will love.
And I dare ya to enter a fictitious place…
Hat tip to Technabob via Wired.
Yub-nub!

CSFF Tour – Dragons of the Valley

The CSFF Tour is doing a repeat performance for January!

The featured book is Dragons of the Valley by Donita K. Paul.

I have repeatedly made a mistake.

 Donita Paul is highly regarded in the Christian fantasy realm. My problem is that I have yet to read one of her books. I think I know the problem. It seems she is so prolific she is always doing series – and I find out about her latest book in the middle of the series!

This doesn’t make for a good jumping on point.

So I need a little help from my tourmates, and hopefully it can benefit readers of this blog: what Donita K. Paul book would you recommend first?

And for those who want some useful information, you can go to Donita’s author site, her blog, or the more knowledgeable blokes down below!

And in conjuction with this CSFF Tour, I did NOT get a review copy of this book because I am sometimes brain-dead.

Gillian Adams
Noah Arsenault
Amy Bissell
Red Bissell
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Keanan Brand
Morgan L. Busse
CSFF Blog Tour
Amy Cruson
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Amber French
Andrea Graham
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Julie
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Emily LaVigne
Shannon McDermott
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
James Somers
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Dave Wilson

CSFF Tour – Dragons of the Valley

The CSFF Tour is doing a repeat performance for January!

The featured book is Dragons of the Valley by Donita K. Paul.

I have repeatedly made a mistake.

 Donita Paul is highly regarded in the Christian fantasy realm. My problem is that I have yet to read one of her books. I think I know the problem. It seems she is so prolific she is always doing series – and I find out about her latest book in the middle of the series!

This doesn’t make for a good jumping on point.

So I need a little help from my tourmates, and hopefully it can benefit readers of this blog: what Donita K. Paul book would you recommend first?

And for those who want some useful information, you can go to Donita’s author site, her blog, or the more knowledgeable blokes down below!

And in conjuction with this CSFF Tour, I did NOT get a review copy of this book because I am sometimes brain-dead.

Gillian Adams
Noah Arsenault
Amy Bissell
Red Bissell
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Keanan Brand
Morgan L. Busse
CSFF Blog Tour
Amy Cruson
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Amber French
Andrea Graham
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Julie
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Emily LaVigne
Shannon McDermott
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
James Somers
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Dave Wilson

Creating Our Own Idols?

In this blog I’ve been an advocate for Christian artists to have the freedom to make art for beauty’s sake, that our creativity can give glory to God even if it is not specifically relating Jesus or other aspects of Christianity. I made the argument of Francis Schaeffer, that if you look over a Christian artist’s work over time, you would see their worldview coming out, even if a specific work did not seem to have a Biblical worldview. This post has the links to my longest run of posts concerning Christianity and art, and it goes into greater detail and nuance.


Made to worship?



Having said this, lately I have concerns. I love to see thoughtful creativity, and I think it is an act of worship to emulate our Creator. However, I think like everything else, it can become an idol.

 

We can’t sacrifice truth or faith for creativity.



There are different types of creative people. I believe I’m creative, but I like a certain amount of structure and I do well in a circumstance where I know the expectations and can shoot for a level of achievement. Some creatives are *very much* creative. Their whole personality is geared toward experimenting, pushing, exploring, and having a sense of freedom. They can be great people to be around.

The problem can be they put too much on the freedom. They start to clash with standards, guidelines, boundaries. This can become a problem area for Christians. If too much emphasis is put on creativity and the freedom to explore it, they can lose sight of what we are called to in the Bible. They end up worshipping the creative process over the Creator of it all.
I’m not necessarily talking about their art. I can see a musician writing an angry song that doesn’t seem to be Biblical, or an author writing a character or story that don’t have any apparent redeeming value – as long as what they do isn’t directly advocating sin. In a grander scope of their body of work, there may be a point being made by such work that continues to show a Biblical worldview, but it isn’t as apparent taken out of context.
I see more of a problem with their lives getting caught in the “creative life”, and the artist leaving behind the Kingdom life. Instead of following Christ and doing art in the wide beauty of His creation and Kingdom, they follow “the muse” wherever it takes them.
This may be an idol…
I think an example of this would be Katy Perry. It is well-known that she started in Christian music, but has evolved into a secular artist that likes to sing and dress provocatively. In reading articles about her, I think she also has let ambition and a desire for fame to drive her life as much as her “art”, but I’m sure her creative side contributes as well. 
What is an artist to do? As Christians, we need to offer fellowship and prayer for those who explore the creative life. The beauty that can revealed about God through wonderful art is a true gift we all can and should enjoy. The temptation is letting ourselves go into the creative act so much that we lose our moorings. I’ve had very creative friends that have been misunderstood. Evangelicalism in America especially can have trouble with the questions raised by these type of people. The artist must choose to stay within the boundaries of Kingdom life, but we can do our best to love and encourage them so they can use their curiosity and imagination without losing themselves to the process.

Creating Our Own Idols?

In this blog I’ve been an advocate for Christian artists to have the freedom to make art for beauty’s sake, that our creativity can give glory to God even if it is not specifically relating Jesus or other aspects of Christianity. I made the argument of Francis Schaeffer, that if you look over a Christian artist’s work over time, you would see their worldview coming out, even if a specific work did not seem to have a Biblical worldview. This post has the links to my longest run of posts concerning Christianity and art, and it goes into greater detail and nuance.


Made to worship?



Having said this, lately I have concerns. I love to see thoughtful creativity, and I think it is an act of worship to emulate our Creator. However, I think like everything else, it can become an idol.

 

We can’t sacrifice truth or faith for creativity.



There are different types of creative people. I believe I’m creative, but I like a certain amount of structure and I do well in a circumstance where I know the expectations and can shoot for a level of achievement. Some creatives are *very much* creative. Their whole personality is geared toward experimenting, pushing, exploring, and having a sense of freedom. They can be great people to be around.

The problem can be they put too much on the freedom. They start to clash with standards, guidelines, boundaries. This can become a problem area for Christians. If too much emphasis is put on creativity and the freedom to explore it, they can lose sight of what we are called to in the Bible. They end up worshipping the creative process over the Creator of it all.
I’m not necessarily talking about their art. I can see a musician writing an angry song that doesn’t seem to be Biblical, or an author writing a character or story that don’t have any apparent redeeming value – as long as what they do isn’t directly advocating sin. In a grander scope of their body of work, there may be a point being made by such work that continues to show a Biblical worldview, but it isn’t as apparent taken out of context.
I see more of a problem with their lives getting caught in the “creative life”, and the artist leaving behind the Kingdom life. Instead of following Christ and doing art in the wide beauty of His creation and Kingdom, they follow “the muse” wherever it takes them.
This may be an idol…
I think an example of this would be Katy Perry. It is well-known that she started in Christian music, but has evolved into a secular artist that likes to sing and dress provocatively. In reading articles about her, I think she also has let ambition and a desire for fame to drive her life as much as her “art”, but I’m sure her creative side contributes as well. 
What is an artist to do? As Christians, we need to offer fellowship and prayer for those who explore the creative life. The beauty that can revealed about God through wonderful art is a true gift we all can and should enjoy. The temptation is letting ourselves go into the creative act so much that we lose our moorings. I’ve had very creative friends that have been misunderstood. Evangelicalism in America especially can have trouble with the questions raised by these type of people. The artist must choose to stay within the boundaries of Kingdom life, but we can do our best to love and encourage them so they can use their curiosity and imagination without losing themselves to the process.

Art House America

I’ve been a fan of Charlie Peacock and his music since I first found out about him in 1991 (sheesh, that sounds long ago…). His music is intelligent, creative, risky, and often has a great beat to dance to.

He’s taken his love of God and his artistic nature and fused into something that sounds pretty special. The Art House is the ministry in Nashville with his wife Andi where they host artistic types of all kinds and nurture them in creativity and faith. It has spun off to a physical location in Dallas as well, plus the internet home at Art House America. You can find out more of their vision on the About page.

Not all of us will get the chance to go there (though I’m holding my breath). The website has articles from thinkers on subjects of artistry (music, books, film), justice, creation care, and hospitality, just to name a few. I really enjoyed an article by Andi on raising artful kids, from her perspective as a grandmother. Neat stuff there!

I encourage my creative friends to check out Art House America. Maybe God has something to speak to you from there.

Art House America

I’ve been a fan of Charlie Peacock and his music since I first found out about him in 1991 (sheesh, that sounds long ago…). His music is intelligent, creative, risky, and often has a great beat to dance to.

He’s taken his love of God and his artistic nature and fused into something that sounds pretty special. The Art House is the ministry in Nashville with his wife Andi where they host artistic types of all kinds and nurture them in creativity and faith. It has spun off to a physical location in Dallas as well, plus the internet home at Art House America. You can find out more of their vision on the About page.

Not all of us will get the chance to go there (though I’m holding my breath). The website has articles from thinkers on subjects of artistry (music, books, film), justice, creation care, and hospitality, just to name a few. I really enjoyed an article by Andi on raising artful kids, from her perspective as a grandmother. Neat stuff there!

I encourage my creative friends to check out Art House America. Maybe God has something to speak to you from there.

CSFF Tour – The Wolf of Tebron Day 3



“I always feel like…somebody’s watching me!”
 Have you been following the discussion in this month’s CSFF Tour featuring The Wolf of Tebron? If not, you’re missing out on fairy tales, allegories, and how these can fit into speculative fiction. As always, Becky Miller keeps track of all the rabble and their varied posts – check it out!
If you’re wondering what The Wolf of Tebron is about, my synopsis is on day 1 of our tour. Yesterday I talked about the tricky place Tebron is in marketing-wise with it being a “fairy tale allegory.” I promised a review today.
Let me start off by saying that in learning more about Ms. Lakin, I can see that she is a well-read individual who has attempted an ambitious project in her Gates of Heaven series, which Tebron kicks off. She has a discussion in the back of the book that describes her desire to meld a fairy tale structure with allegorical images of God’s relationship while weaving in apologetics, philosophy, and poetry.
Sounds impressive, and is certainly a lofty goal to shoot for in book.
The book starts with a prologue and then takes the protaganist, Joran, through different journeys as he seeks the Moon, the Sun, the South Wind, and the Western Sea in progression. Lakin enjoys a descriptive style, and it usually serves the story well, creating a vivid picture of the different locales – once Joran gets there. Sometimes though, the journey gets repetitious, and the description struggles at the lack of variety. Other times the action is nebulous (see p182-184), so the description is confusing. I had to skim some sections as there were gaps without a lot going on, it seemed.
There aren’t a lot of characters in the book. Joran is an everyman type, and he didn’t connect with me very well. A lot of his struggle in the book is internal as much as external. I know that in life we most often deal with internal strife, and it is hard to make that exciting. The other major character is Ruyah the wolf, who becomes Joran’s companion throughout the journey. He is a noble creature with a unique voice, and he is the best part of the book. He is a wise mentor to Joran, and even though it would be easy to compare him with Aslan the lion, Ruyah stands apart from his Narnian counterpart. As others have noted, sometimes Ruyah’s wisdom seems a little outside of Biblical standing, but he was enjoyable overall.



Do you hear laughing?



The major destinations of the Moon, Sun, etc. are personified, and this technique is used well. The Sun’s mother, Sola, was very interested in knowledge, and she offered up some things like listening to specific symphonies and mentioned “rocket science,” which threw me out of the fictive world of Tebron each time.

The conclusion of the book ties together various threads from the book with varying success. I felt the most emotional connection to Joran and his wife Charris at this time, but other things came across too contrived.

Overall, I obviously had a hard time with The Wolf of Tebron. I admire what she was trying to do – I just think there was so much attempted it didn’t come together well. I don’t like being critical, because I realize the hard, hard work it is to pour yourself into writing a book, but as Fred Warren says in his day 3 post, it doesn’t work for everyone. Others on the tour really enjoyed the plot, spiritual allegory, and characters. I felt distant to it the whole time. Do check out other people on the tour to get a balanced view, and I wish Ms. Lakin much success in the future.

I think the CSFF is playing catch up a little, and there will be another tour later in January. Hope to see you then!

CSFF Tour – The Wolf of Tebron Day 3



“I always feel like…somebody’s watching me!”
 Have you been following the discussion in this month’s CSFF Tour featuring The Wolf of Tebron? If not, you’re missing out on fairy tales, allegories, and how these can fit into speculative fiction. As always, Becky Miller keeps track of all the rabble and their varied posts – check it out!
If you’re wondering what The Wolf of Tebron is about, my synopsis is on day 1 of our tour. Yesterday I talked about the tricky place Tebron is in marketing-wise with it being a “fairy tale allegory.” I promised a review today.
Let me start off by saying that in learning more about Ms. Lakin, I can see that she is a well-read individual who has attempted an ambitious project in her Gates of Heaven series, which Tebron kicks off. She has a discussion in the back of the book that describes her desire to meld a fairy tale structure with allegorical images of God’s relationship while weaving in apologetics, philosophy, and poetry.
Sounds impressive, and is certainly a lofty goal to shoot for in book.
The book starts with a prologue and then takes the protaganist, Joran, through different journeys as he seeks the Moon, the Sun, the South Wind, and the Western Sea in progression. Lakin enjoys a descriptive style, and it usually serves the story well, creating a vivid picture of the different locales – once Joran gets there. Sometimes though, the journey gets repetitious, and the description struggles at the lack of variety. Other times the action is nebulous (see p182-184), so the description is confusing. I had to skim some sections as there were gaps without a lot going on, it seemed.
There aren’t a lot of characters in the book. Joran is an everyman type, and he didn’t connect with me very well. A lot of his struggle in the book is internal as much as external. I know that in life we most often deal with internal strife, and it is hard to make that exciting. The other major character is Ruyah the wolf, who becomes Joran’s companion throughout the journey. He is a noble creature with a unique voice, and he is the best part of the book. He is a wise mentor to Joran, and even though it would be easy to compare him with Aslan the lion, Ruyah stands apart from his Narnian counterpart. As others have noted, sometimes Ruyah’s wisdom seems a little outside of Biblical standing, but he was enjoyable overall.



Do you hear laughing?



The major destinations of the Moon, Sun, etc. are personified, and this technique is used well. The Sun’s mother, Sola, was very interested in knowledge, and she offered up some things like listening to specific symphonies and mentioned “rocket science,” which threw me out of the fictive world of Tebron each time.

The conclusion of the book ties together various threads from the book with varying success. I felt the most emotional connection to Joran and his wife Charris at this time, but other things came across too contrived.

Overall, I obviously had a hard time with The Wolf of Tebron. I admire what she was trying to do – I just think there was so much attempted it didn’t come together well. I don’t like being critical, because I realize the hard, hard work it is to pour yourself into writing a book, but as Fred Warren says in his day 3 post, it doesn’t work for everyone. Others on the tour really enjoyed the plot, spiritual allegory, and characters. I felt distant to it the whole time. Do check out other people on the tour to get a balanced view, and I wish Ms. Lakin much success in the future.

I think the CSFF is playing catch up a little, and there will be another tour later in January. Hope to see you then!