Saturday, April 30, 2011

So Many rich conversations with readers at the CHHC today

One after the other, I had so many conversations that blessed me at this conference in Redmond, WA, conversations about grace and Christ and his glorious gospel of free, unmerited grace and the dangers of slavish legalism for us who have discovered homeschooling. My youngest son, Giles, was my manager, even signing books (under his name on the dedication pages). I spoke yesterday afternoon on John Knox to several hundred listeners, and then had many chats with folks about the importance of Church history as a means of developing heroes who were passionate followers of Jesus Christ, and who found Christ's strength and grace to slay arguments and overcome the enemies of the cross in their day. Listen below or at www.bondbooks.net

CHURCH HISTORY MATTERS: THE THUNDERING SCOT, April 29, 2011

MODELS OF CHRIST-LIKE LEADERSHIP FROM CHURCH HISTORY, April 30

CHRIST-CENTERED RELATIONSHIPS, April 30

THE DEVIL HATES GOOSE QUILLS, April 29

Friday, April 29, 2011

Speaking at Christian Heritage Conference, Redmond, WA

Had a great time today at the Christian Heritage Home Educators Conference in Redmond, WA. Michael and Susan Braderick are the organizers (though they always graciously and quite sincerely defer credit to their board and committees) of this growing conference. It was fun having Cheryl and Giles and Gillian go up with me Thursday evening for the opening dinner and to set up our book exhibit.

My speaker hosts, the Hamilton clan, are gracious and almost embarrass me with how well they take care of me. What a delightful family. Without them I would not make it on time to any of my speaking sessions, would go hungry, would break my back packing books, and would be tea-less (Jean makes a particularly London-ish London Fog Latte). Giles (8) really came into his own today, showing signs of a marketing career ahead (O horrors), passing out book postcards, telling passers-by about specials (news to me) and about his favorite Bond books, sometimes shamelessly corralling as if he were part border collie. 

I spoke first on The Devil Hates Goose Quills, an address on elements of the writing process and why poetry is central to that process. Good follow-up chats with a number after that. And then to a large hall of Knox fans, I spoke on The Thundering Scot, Why Church History Matters. My central emphasis is that Christ and his gospel of free, unmerited grace alone must be at the center of everything we do and everything we teach and everything we learn.

Signed lots of books and chatted with many readers. Word is there's a few more folks planning on signing up for the Scotland 2011, Crown & Covenant Trilogy Tour for this summer. This is definitely the eleventh hour for it. Saw the Spear clan and Mrs Seelock, the saint. Giles enjoyed himself so much that he wants to join me tomorrow too.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Grandpa-hood, only a few hours into it, but glorious!

My son Rhodri with his daughter Gwynna (shared birthdays)
The first text warbled in at about 12:20 this morning. Contractions getting stronger and closer together. Then off to hospital at 2:00. Updates landing regularly from 3:15 on. My wife and I prayed together for strength and grace for Rhodri and Tori. Then the long-awaited news came: Gwenna Rose Bond was born at 5:08, April 25, 2011, which in God's good providence is also her father's 21st birthday. Then picture texts began arriving. What an adorable, chubby, healthy, contented little beauty!

The prettiest grandma I know (my wife)
Here she is!

A really happy family
 My 8 year-old, Giles--now Uncle Giles--and 5 year-old, Gillian--now Aunt Gillian, loaded up with Aunt Brittany and Uncle Desmond (Uncle Cedric just arriving back in Oklahoma City after Senior National trials in SD, CA) and off to St. Joseph's Hospital, where Rhodri was born exactly 21 years ago. What a pleasure to hold this precious gift of God! Tori looked amazing, especially for having been up all night laboring to bring this precious covenant child into the world. Rhodri just kept smiling--no, smiling's too weak a word for it--beaming works better. We bless God for his immeasurable kindness to the Bonds this day.

Monday, April 18, 2011

THE THUNDERING (working title... I'm open?), an excerpt


He grunted, and we scuffled briefly, but he was so winded by my assault upon him, that he had little ability to resist. The dark street burst into life. Windows opened, and there was shouting. Apparently someone was running while carrying a lantern, splashes of light jerking against the pavement and stone walls.
“What’s this!” cried a man, grabbing me savagely by my collar. “What have you done?”
Eerie shadows bobbed against the wall at my right. I looked up at the man. He was blowing hard and his eyes shown wide; light from his lantern played on his fleshy cheeks. He held his light aloft.
“I-I’ve done nothing,” I said. “But this rogue fired a pistol at my master.”
What happened next nearly turned my heart to stone. The body of the assassin under me convulsed; he struggled, and he made to turn. In the flickering illumination of the lantern, I saw his face. I knew this face.
“Alexander?” I gasped.

50
Final Malady
Alexander. There could be no mistake. It was he.
I recoiled from him as If he had plague. Wrenching myself free of the man with the lantern, I rose to my feet. Looking down at Alexander, I felt myself torn between wanting to snatch up his pistol and shoot him through his miserable head and turning and getting forever clear of such a pestilence.
“Do not let him escape!” I cried, my voice like gravel.
I staggered across the street and pounded upon the door till my fists were bloodied. “Master Knox! Open to me! Margaret! Does he live? Open the door!”
At last I heard the fiddling of the latch. Her face was ashen, and she had wee Elizabeth on her hip, the child weeping like a prophet.
“Does he live?” I cried.
“H-he lives,” she said, a tremor in her voice. “He lives.”
Taking the treads three at a time, I ran up the stairs. The lead ball had shattered the window, and shards of glass littered the floor. On the table, a candlestick had been knocked over. Flames had been extinguished, but there was splattered wax already hardening where it had spilled on the table.
From the shadows next to the broken window, John Knox spoke. “I was not sitting in my usual place,” he said. He was looking out on the excited crowd talking all at once on the street below.
“You are unhurt, then?” I asked.
“Aye,” he said. “But had I been seated here, as is my custom—” he broke off, placing a finger through a bullet hole blown through the chair. “I would, indeed, be in bit of a mangled condition.”
Sighting from the broken window and the hole in the chair, I envisioned the flight of the ball. I went to the table and picked up the candlestick. The lead ball, or what remained of it, was imbedded into its filigree.
“God be praised,” I said, and meant it.
“You were on the street?” asked Margaret, who had joined us. She swayed and cooed gently to calm the bairn.
“Aye,” I said. “I’d been with the widow Murray; she expired about dusk.”       
“Poor dear,” she said. “But it must have been you, then, who battled the gunman to the pavement.”
I felt the warmth rising in my cheeks. “I did nothing,” I said shortly.
“Och, nothing,” she said, handing her husband the baby and squaring herself before me. “What I saw with my own eyes tells another tale,” she said, blowing a wisp of hair from her face and placing her hands deliberately on her hips. “Och, you must’ve hurled yourself on the murderer like a madman.”
“I must away,” I said. I fear I spoke all too curtly. “My father will wonder what has kept me.”
“And who was the rogue?” this from Margaret.
I hesitated. They stood awaiting my reply. Would it not break Master Knox’s heart to know that one of his own had attempted to end his life so? Would it not?
I attempted to speak. But I could find no words. I turned and bolted from the house.
***
“Have a care,” said John Knox, his face blanching with pain, “for my decaying carcass.”
It was Sunday, November 9, 1572. Several months had elapsed since the attempt on his life, and his health had deteriorated rapidly in those months.
Richard Ballantyne, John Craig, and two other men, and myself, had rigged a chair to carry him in. It was a foul dreich morning, with gusts of wind sending the rain in slanting fury upon us like waves of drenching specters. His old malady was on him in force; his ashen face winced as we hoisted him in the improvised chair.
“It’s dumping auld wives and pike staves,” said John Craig, breathing heavily with the effort of carrying him. “You ought not to be out in it.” Come weather and decaying carcass, I knew that nothing would deter John Knox; he was determined to preach that day.

INKBLOTS - I got huge help on a problem form the fellows tonight!

INKBLOTS – 4/17/2011

At the Bond’s place, just three of us tonight, the founder of the ‘Blots working 12s at the shipyard, shielding subs, helping keep the wolf from the door (when he’s not writing, that is). John S brought along a Celliers des Dauphins French blend, Grenache, syrah (his daughter married a Frenchman, for real).

I read some of D M Kaplan, Revision, chapter on stylistic revision of glitches. Read about replacing vague language with specific and concrete, general nouns with concrete: “something heavy” replaced with “rock,” and active verbs, “picked up” replaced with “snatched,” all more specific. All this creates verisimilitude, readers then feeling like they’re there, can see, smell, touch, taste—be empirical.

Discussed Ned’s Africa story ideas. There’s no one with more material from first-hand experience than Ned who grew up in Africa as a missionary kid, then returned as a young adult to lead safaris. We’ve got to get this guy writing. He’s at ‘Blots, so that’s good.

John is reading an expanded version of a chapter that he says, I said, “What did you put that in there for?” I don’t remember asking it nearly that bluntly, gracious, longsuffering—that’s me, right? I recall asking (graciously, of course) “How does this chapter advance the rising action of your plot?”

I think John needs to find original names for people; avoid using names of people we know; it’s disconcerting; I see the faces of real people we all know, and sometimes not in a good light (sometimes it’s me). Easy to replace with find-and-replace function on Word. I felt like the story dragged with the wet clothes after the dousing when fly fishing. It’s critical that these details be tight, advance the story, and not derail the momentum of the plot. “Strikingly beautiful,” in dialog from guys from Oregon sounded to my ear too high register (sorry anyone reading this from Oregon—same applies for Washington, where I’m writing this). Dialog is the “greatest hits” of real conversation. I ask myself how these unique characters would actually say things, and keep the best things they say. Kill the rest. Replace “tears of joy flowing down her face,” an overworked cliché, with a fresh description of this phenomenon.

“Just exactly what does this have to do with the story,” one of your characters asked. I felt like that made sense here, and you felt the same in your writer’s gut, didn’t you? That’s why you wrote this, I think. All of which, alerts you to tighten and move the pace forward with intentionality. Your reader should not be encouraged to ask this about what you’re writing, and here it makes sense. All of which, means be concise. Write with more intentionality to your plot objectives. Connection to Emma’s secret about being pregnant; maybe she can be reacting (over) to listening in to the conversation, thus, keeping the thread of the big story before the reader’s imagination. She should be worried that they know, that their conversation has implication to her indiscretions, and condition.

We talked about historical fiction and how much fiction when the real history is happening. For example, could I have Alexander be the sniper? I read the chapter entitled, The Assassin, which Ned thought was too long, too many different elements going on. Then Ned came up with the most helpful solution to my problem. I’ll add it as a separate post. Way to go, Ned! Thanks heaps.

BEISNER on post-normal science and environmentalism

[These are my notes from Q&A after Cal's Saturday morning (4/16) session in Tacoma, WA]

(Q) Why do the majority or the most vocal of climatologists reject the facts about climate change and the real science that proves that climate change is normal and not man made? Does government skew the 'science' for political ends? 

(Cal) Government funding of science is very dangerous. Such funding distorts the industry thereby funded. Science funded by government will tend to produce findings that government prefers. This is a no-brainer. Government spent $79,000,000,000 in climate research in recent years, hence, lots of research funds and droves of young scientists clamoring into climate research. Go figure. Politicians want to get reelected. "I’m doing good for my constituents; politics will save you from bad stuff, disaster, catastrophe, calamity." Politicians gain big-time from funding research that concludes we are on the verge of a world-wide disaster due to anthropogenic climate change, and that results in more government control of the economy. 

All this public funding distorts how science gets done. Politicization of science is a serious problem. It obscures credible results. The climatologists who tow the politically correct line are younger, while the critics of the alarmists are ‘normal’ scientist, guys who practice the tried-and-true scientific method; they're empiricists. Normal scientists at least in theory believe that they are duty bound to follow the evidence where it leads them, scrap their theory if the evidence flies in the face of theory. 

Younger scientists, however, are post-normal (Jerome Ravitz, Marxists) scientists; post-modernism applied to science. It asserts that language is about the imposition of power, nothing to do with truth. Post-normal science is no longer a quest for truth, but for how to use science procedure to make political agendas palatable to public. Mike Hume, U of East-Anglia, post-normal scientist, expressly stated that climate science presents a great opportunity; he wants to use climate research to bring about a total transformation of the economic and political world away from capitalism to Marxism. 

Not surprisingly, virtually all climatologists who are climate-change alarmists are post-normal scientist, who employ science as a pretense to make their findings palatable to the public. Everything is about computer models, projections that hugely lack real-world nuances, meta-narratives applied to science. but post-normal scientists are deficient in experimentation, observation, repeatability--scientific method--not about empirical observations, as in normal science.  

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thoughtful Polish Roman Catholic Reader Living in Dubai

I received this kind and thoughtful criticism from a Polish Roman Catholic reader who lives with his family in Dubai. I thought I would share it and my response with other readers.

I am a father who is currently reading your books ‘Stand Fast’ and ‘Hold Fast’. I am a Polish Roman Catholic who lives and works with family ( 2 boys, 1 daughter) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I came across your books in Dubai in a bookstore of Evangelical church. I happened that after mass in my Catholic Church my wife asked me to go to that bookstore to find some books which might be interesting for us. I have found your books very interesting and I hope they will be helpful in bringing my sons to be true men of Jesus Christ. 
 
However, I noticed your remarks about Roman Catholic Church in South America ( Chapter 8 ‘ Learn to Serve’) and they made me sad. I looked for me like we Christians compete against each other and there is no love among us. Our Lord told us to be united and I personally pray to have all Christians be the one loving family.
 
Thank you for your books.
Sincere regards,
Andrzej Gola

(My response)
 
Dear Andrzej,
Thank you for taking the time to write me about my books. I'm grateful that you found them useful for you and your family. Thank you for your candor about the reference to moribund churches that are Roman Catholic in South America. I too long to see unity among Christ's Church, but for it to be genuine unity it must be unity around the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, don't you think? I have been to South America and seen the predominantly Roman Catholic Church there. Frankly, as a whole I don't think it is inaccurate to say that it is moribund, that it is, "lacking vitality or vigor." I would say the same thing about Protestant churches that are lacking vitality and vigor, wouldn't you? To do so is not to disturb the unity of the church, but hopefully to aid in restoring it to Christ-like vitality. 
 
Incidentally, chapter 8 of Hold Fast was written by one of several contributors to my books, yet I do agree with his general assessment of the RC Church in South America. I could say more of it; it is synergistic, blending animism and pagan religion with its rituals and practices, all of which dilutes the gospel and diminishes the centrality of Jesus Christ in the church; isn't that an ultimate breaking of the unity of the gospel? To speak honestly about the state of the church, Roman Catholic or Protestant, is necessary if we are to see the church restored to true unity based on the transforming vitality of the gospel of grace alone in Jesus Christ alone. Thank you again for your gracious comments and your honest and frank disagreement with me. I value that honesty in readers. I will pray for your labors in Dubai. Do keep in touch. 
 
God be with you,
Douglas Bond
www.bondbooks.net