Tuesday, November 16, 2010

INKBLOTS Men's writing gathering, November

INKBLOTS – November, 2010
Wind is blowing hard, rain, dark evening, fire crackling in the sitting room at the McComas’ home, and while I was reading chapter five of The Thundering, a novel on John Knox, branches, good-sized ones, fell on the roof and everything suddenly went black--power outages all over the region, including chunks of Tacoma, especially northend where we live. Crossing the Narrows Bridge in it was reminiscent of November 7, 1940 when Galloping Gertie galloped into the deeps of the channel. I'm happy to report that the new bridge held out as we drove home. All of which made for a mysterious and memorable evening. John brought along a fine bottle of Canoe Ridge, 1999 merlot.
Dougie Mac led off with his new tale of 1950 era, Korean missionary kid, comes home, gets married, finds himself in Marine Corps in Korean War, desperate to find his lost missionary parents. That’s the summary. Dougie read chapter one. Opening with protagonist tinkering with his beloved car, sniffing engine oil—good opening scene, giving us insight into what makes his protagonist tick. Thomas, protagonist and interaction with his dad; father and son at seventeen, curious observation from a guy who has all girls! But it brings up a good point about how important being a keen observer of people, especially ones whose lives are different from our own. Some favorite lines that made us laugh: Just me and the guys, Dad (after asking if he could go to the drive in). (Dad’s laconic reply) Exactly. Doug has a good grasp of the nuanced interplay between different players, cars, even Baptists and Presbyterians (written by a guy who’s been both, either, or, and). This is boy/girl candidly romantic story from the point of view of Christian-raised church guys feeling the pull of the world’s view of sex and romance. A bit over written, in a place or two, though after I had you reread it, it sounded pretty good, so be careful as you edit and revise here. Stands out to me that Thomas’s thoughts about his friends baiting him, and going too far in conversation about girls, and wishing he didn’t always go along with them. Dave pointed out that Lester and Frankie seemed like the same character, different name, a good observation. John kept saying, I liked it. You do a really good job.

Dave read a rewrite of part of his futuristic thriller magnum opus. Cory sitting by himself reading his Bible. Josh asked his uncle how he can know that God loves us. Mom, Mommy, and tears. This seems to be a bit out of the blue, but that may be that I have not kept the big picture together. A witnessing scene is difficult to pull off with authenticity—hard to write what is true and good without trivializing the very thing the well-intentioned author so wants to convey. The danger is actually doing the opposite of what one intends to do: the grand and glorious becomes the sentimental and banal. I’ve had to confront this many times in my writing, it seems. May I suggest going inside Josh’s head (the unbeliever) and make him scoff internally, show him being two faced, being nice and polite to his uncle but in his mind hating him, thinking he’s an ignorant simpleton, thinking he knows better than his uncle and all Christians. Work toward helping your reader see through the fallacies of the critic of the gospel. By showing his unfair scorn, his irrational rejection, his mocking of the witness his uncle, you the writer, thereby, help the reader shift to a more serious consideration of the truth of the gospel. John was pretty blunt about not liking the non-chalance of the killing scene, killing three guys after some effort at evangelism, then drinking a milk shake together. Be careful not to tack on evangelism and Christianity to legitimize your tale. Look for a key phrase that epitomizes the protagonist’s problem: Enemy of God… Weave it throughout, developing it as you go.

John reads new first chapter. “Think we’ll have any trouble tonight?” Dougie when he heard this said, “He’s dead.” Careful of being too predictable. This is a police bust of a gang deal going down in a warehouse in Detroit inner-city. Music softly playing… kids and music softly playing. Softly? Andy’s left eye began to twitch. Shooting, getting shot, being confronted by vengeful gang banger. Good work with the cop talking to the gang member, buying time. Make the officer who’s down, go inside his pain, what does that feel like, so your reader feels the downed officer’s agony from gunshot wound. And more family reflection of his wife, personal things, his kids, his horror that the gang banger is threatening to kill his wife and children. Have the partners earlier chatting about kid’s birthday party next day or that evening. Have his partner down be able to fire, save Andy’s life from the execution style shooting about to happen. Chapter one ends with gun shot, Andy thinks it was for him, all fades to black. Chapter two begins: it was his partner that he thought was dead who shot the gang banger. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Join us for a SCOTTISH REFORMATION evening, November 27, 2010

In that after Thanksgiving lull, come out and commemorate the 450th of the Scottish Reformation, 1560-2010!

Where? Gig Harbor Library, Peninsula Room (same location as Calvin last year)
When? Saturday evening, November 27, 2010 -- 6:30 pm
Who? EVERYONE! Free and open to the public.

What's going to happen?
      1. Authentic Scottish Shortbread
      2. BAGPIPER: My son Rhodri Douglas Bond playing favorite bagpipe tunes 
      3. Talks, discussion, and Q & A:
             Does the Reformation Matter Today?
             (Rev. Leldon Partain, Rosedale Reformed Church)
Did John Knox Hate Women? His Life & Legacy                                                               (Author/Teacher Douglas Bond, gleanings from research and writing for my forthcoming book, THE MIGHTY WEAKNESS OF JOHN KNOX, Reformation Trust, to release April, 2011)

During the talks, we'll be sharing recent images from Scotland, taken last April on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh, St. Andrews and beyond.

AND I'll be giving away three books (DUNCAN'S WAR, KING'S ARROW, REBEL'S KEEP) to participants in the Q & A time.

Come yourself! Bring the family (coloring for children)! Invite your friends and neighbors!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bringing the Gospel to Covenant Children

I was asked to read Joel Beeke's excellent little book, BRINGING THE GOSPEL TO COVENANT CHILDREN, and endorse. I thought I'd share a few excerpts and my endorsement here. I wrote of the book (before editor revisions):
“In language every parent can understand, Joel Beeke demonstrates how presumptive regeneration and hyper covenantalism can bar our children from Christ and the gospel and tragically produce Pharisees. Parents who love Christ and their children will not want to miss this clear, practical, confessional, and imminently biblical work on how Christ and his gospel alone transform our covenant children.”
Douglas Bond, author of The Fathers & Sons series: STAND FAST and HOLD FAST, and THE BETRAYAL, a novel on John Calvin 

“Parents confused by neo-Calvinism’s implication that covenant children are justified by parental faithfulness will find refreshing biblical clarity in Bringing the Gospel to Our Covenant Children. In it parents will find confidence to open the Bible and show their children Christ and his gospel on every page. There may not be a more important resource for every Christian parent to read and reread as they evangelize and nurture covenant children in Christ.”  
Douglas Bond, author of The Fathers & Sons series: STAND FAST and HOLD FAST, and THE BETRAYAL, a novel on John Calvin

Here's excerpts from Joel Beeke:

"The fruits of presumptive regeneration are often tragic. Parents who presume that their children are regenerate by virtue of the covenant see no need to tell their children that they must be born again and come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. William Young calls this view “hyper-covenantism,” because the relation of children to the covenant is exaggerated to the point that the covenant relation replaces the need for personal conversion. As Young points out, “Doctrinal knowledge and ethical conduct according to the Word of God are sufficient for the Christian life without any specific religious experience of conviction of sin and conversion, or any need for self-examination as to the possession of distinguishing marks of saving grace.” Consequently, what our Reformed forefathers called experimental religion is deemed largely superfluous. Ultimately, though Kuyperian neo-Calvinists may not like to admit it, religious life becomes grounded in external church institutions and activities rather than in the soul’s communion with God. “A system for breeding Pharisees, whose cry is ‘We are Abraham’s children,’could hardly be better calculated,” Young concludes."

And here's Beeke on a biblical, confessional view of paedo-baptism:

"Some Reformed churches depreciate the covenant relation of children, not by rejecting infant baptism and the covenant relation altogether, but by reducing the sacrament to mere form and custom without insisting on what it should mean for the lives both of the parents and their baptized children. In such circles, the church has no eye for the promises of God in baptism, no heart for pleading those promises in prayer, and no clear understanding of how God earnestly calls covenant children to a lifestyle consecrated to Himself and separated from the world….

"Baptism affirms that the baptized child is placed under covenant privileges and responsibilities, but does not make the child a partaker of the saving, internal essence of the covenant. The external covenant relationship can be broken when a child grows to adulthood and abandons God’s Word and the corporate worship of His people. Baptized children must be linked to the internal, unbreakable essence of the covenant through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit ( John 3:3-7). Only then shall they be given persevering grace for the rest of their lives….

"Baptized children must be directed to Jesus Christ and His sacrifice as the only way of salvation. Christ’s cleansing blood, symbolized by the cleansing water of baptism, is the only way by which our children may be saved…

"Baptism teaches that God, in and through the Second Adam, Jesus Christ, is able and willing to be the Redeemer and Father of our children….

"Knowing such things should encourage us more to evangelize our children and to plead for their salvation, never giving God rest until they are all brought safely into His fold. Then, too, we must teach our covenant children and young people to plead with our covenant God on the basis of His promises to baptize them with the Spirit of grace and to grant them regeneration, repentance, and faith."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thoughts on Job and Christ

I've been meditating on Job again (finalizing a childrens book in verse on Job), and as I was reading Sinclair F with my son Desmond tonight, it struck me. Maybe I'm wrong, but there's heaps more going on in Job than what appears at early readings (for me anyway--I've been known to be sort of slow on the uptake). Is it valid to say that Job is a prototype and foreshadowing of the humiliation and suffering God the Father would afflict on his own Son when he sent him to earth to offer up himself in our place? 

Job was upright, righteous, fearing God, turning away from evil, wealthy even. Of course no human being is these things perfectly--by a long shot; we all fall short of the glory of God. They are, however, perfect attributes of Christ. And remember that God initiates the humiliation and suffering of Job, offering Job up, as it were, to Satan. Furthermore, the set-up is all about cursing: will Job curse God when he is afflicted or will he bless God? Though Job curses the day of his birth, and is deeply perplexed, Satan was wrong: Job never curses God; nor did Christ, though he became a curse for us, our vicarious curse-bearer. Rather Job worships in suffering (chapter 2, and especially in chapter 19). Yet he does feel very much forsaken by God, who seems far off, doesn't seem to hear or care, so Job thinks, and he feels God is not being just with him, making him suffer consequences more in keeping with others offenses than any he had committed. Whereas with Christ, his Father actually does forsake his Son, who experiences Job's anguish and heaps more, bearing his people's sin and the wrath of God for us, that is, suffering for others crimes. 

Finally, God raises Job up from the ashes, restores him, lavishes wealth on him again, and commands the sorry friends to have Job be their prayer advocate, their go-between to God himself. All things that are not ordinary in a fallen world for most of us, yet all things that God did for his Son whom he highly exalted and gave a name above every name. 

If this is the sense of the big picture of Job, I'm sure others have worked this out far better, and these are rough notes, but I wonder. Job sees God, actually talks with him, repents (Jesus of course never needed to repent of or pay for sins, though he as our sin-bearer suffered under the weight of our load on our behalf. If this fits Clowney's box, then Job would be a type and foreshadowing of Christ, though I've never heard or read him being understood as such. Maybe I need to read more. Am I all wet here?