Tell The Truth Tuesday

Full of randomness today.  Here’s the top 5.

1. It’s 80 degrees outside. I don’t know whether to be excited or confused because apparently it’s summer already? What happened to spring?!

2. Only two weeks of classes left. Whew. I can make it. Although it’d be helpful if my professors weren’t so trigger-happy with their quizzes and homework. I know I’m going to receive gargantuan finals in all my classes next week, so could you maybe lay off with the assignments this week? Give me a little time to prep? Please?

3. I drove back to my hometown (again) this weekend. I love everything about my weekends at home, although it’s still hard to have everyone ask when I’m coming back, as if that is still an option. I’m not sure if they truly believe that my move was on a whim or consider it a possibility that I’ll break my work and school commitments here to return.

4. I’ve started trying to write short stories (again). I’ve been on sort of a writing break for a lot of this semester, and I miss it terribly. So of course I’m writing again, with classes and end-of-the-school-year commitments breathing down my neck. Brilliant me.

5. Maybe it’s just the weather (full moon?), but drivers were crazy this weekend. Phone numbers on paper plates and shirtless college guys hanging out of their jeeps to leer on Interstate, gangsters in souped-up Cadillacs trying to chat at the stoplights (no, I don’t roll my window down on command), and prepsters trying to drag race in front of the mall (Okay, so it was the prime racing spot in the city and famous for what happens after midnight, but even still: I drive a 14 yr old wagon with the engine power of a sewing machine. Do I look like I’m interested?!).

What’s up in your life?

Road Trip Wednesday: Heartless Love

Welcome back to Road Trip Wednesday, hosted by the fantabulous writers at YA Highway. This week’s question:

“In our Bookmobile selection this month, Debra Driza’s MILA 2.0, the main character discovers she’s an android trained to obey orders. We want to know: What other human-like robots (or robot-like humans?) have you enjoyed in books, TV, or movies?”

Let’s split this into the categories, to make it easier on my poor indecisive brain.

Books

You can’t really talk about robots without mentioning Isaac Asimov, writer of some of my favorite science fiction stories. I, Robot is an amazing collection of stories centered around the development of robots throughout the lifetime of a famous robopsychologist, Susan Calvin. The first story in that collection, “Robbie”, features my current favorite robot character on the page. This is mostly a nostalgic love; I wanted Robbie to look human, and he didn’t, but his character more than made up for it. (He had glowing red eyes and parallelepipeds for his head and torso…since when is a friendly robot supposed to have red eyes??) He wasn’t the Tin-Man, he couldn’t speak, but somehow he managed to shatter all my preconceived notions of what a lovable robot should look like.  And he was a nursemaid. Win.

TV

Truth? I don’t have a favorite TV humanoid robot. I hardly watched any TV shows when I was growing up, and I haven’t been able to catch up on all the ones I’ve heard about: Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek…I know they’re all science fiction shows that would offer me an ample supply of mechanical beings to choose from, but clearly I haven’t vegged in front of the tube enough. I don’t know of any. Recommendations, anyone??

Movies

This one was the hardest, I think. As much as I loved R2-D2 and C-3PO (my first movie robots), and as greatly as I enjoyed the movie adaption of I, Robot and its creative bending of Asimov’s Three Rules as manifested in the character of Sonny… this next guy still steals my heart, every time.

(source)

How can you not love this?

(source)

 

What robotic characters have you enjoyed? Any TV recommendations of the mechanical sort? 

Tell The Truth Tuesday: Goodbye, Apathy

Preface: this post is going to be disgruntled, lengthy, and decidedly religious. Feel free to skip. (I didn’t want to turn this blog into a religious/political/hotspot sort of place, but Tuesdays are my day to spit everything out. Consider this your formal warning.)

The truth today? I’m disappointed. In the church. Not a specific church, or a specific denomination, or even in my church, necessarily. I’m disappointed in The Church as described in the New Testament, the one that was a community that loved and challenged in truth and sincerity. Because it’s gone AWOL and I want it back.

A brief background: I grew up in your typical American church, whatever that means to you. It was an independent Berean, with a passion for missions and a belief that the church was meant to be a place to build up the believer and provide community for those of like faith. They believed in the church being active in the community and around the world, and refused to be snobbish about its care for, accountability to, and communion with, other churches in the area, regardless of the denomination. I loved it.

My parents influenced my faith considerably, but all of what I believe now has come because I’ve had to make the decision, at some point, to quit believing what I did just because my family did. I had to make each and every tenant of my faith my own. What I believe now lines up pretty closely with the Nicene Creed, and while there are plenty of things that I am still struggling to understand, there’s a lot more that I won’t give an inch of ground on.

So. Now that that’s out of the way, I’d like to gripe about the church today. What on earth has happened? What is the church supposed to be, anyway? Just a house where we get together and drink coffee and sing hymns and hear a familiar passage being read? Throw in an altar call at the end and we’ll be okay.

Since when is the church not allowed to talk about money, or fiscal responsibility, or what the Bible teaches about what God has given and what is due to Him? Why can’t they stop caricaturing the rich or judging the jobless or stereotyping the poor?

Since when is the church unable to decide its stance on creation or evolution or intelligent design or dinosaurs or anything remotely scientific? Don’t you dare dismiss the entirety of Genesis 1 as nonessential to your faith. But don’t accept any origin-of-the-earth theory on blind faith, either. Make up your mind! Study it! Know it! Teach it!

Since when is the church completely tongue-tied when it comes to homosexuality or the issues surrounding LGBT(s)? Some preach fire-and-brimstone against same-sex marriage, others condone in the name of love, most separate it from the rest of their faith, and a vast majority have no clue what to do when an upstanding young man in their congregation comes out as gay. Seriously, people. You need to find out what you believe about being born gay (or not). Just please, please don’t deny the fact that it’s happening, and don’t turn your back on it when it does.

Since when is the church giving a non-committal head-nod to God-is-love-and-there-is-no-hell? You can’t just shrug this off! You are either in or out. There is no third option. Either Hell exists or it does not. The same goes for Satan, and demons, and heavenly warfare. Make. Up. Your. Mind.

Since when is the church not allowed to acknowledge the presence of pain in a believer’s life? Why does it hover around the Job(s) of the congregation, offering judgement in the same hand as it extends prayer? Since when is anybody’s life bleached free of problems? Don’t ignore or condemn the existence of pain in a Christian’s life. Nobody should be denied the ability to hurt, to have depression, to get divorced, to succumb to cancer, to doubt…to be the messed up people that we are.

It’s hard for me to see past the clerical collar and trimmed robe. They’ve become the trappings of an image-obsessed church who has wrapped itself up in altar calls and white tablecloths in order to avoid dealing with the real issues of today.

But…we tend to identify the pastors or elders or deacons or priests or preachers as “the church”, as if they are single-handedly responsible for the decline of the institution into vagueness and timidity. But that’s not true. The church is undecided because we are undecided. I attend a church—I am the church. The person sitting next to me in the folding chair, in the pew, in the stadium seating…they are the church. Every participant in the church, regardless of membership status or official staff title, is the church.

I’ve spent a lot of space ranting against the deliberate indecision of the church, but the truth is, in doing so, I’m actually criticizing myself and my fellow churchgoers. I can’t claim to be perfect and rock-solid in every doctrine or moral belief, but I’m trying. I’m trying to figure out what it means to live like a Christian. But that’s harder to do when the community of believers around me is uninterested, unchallenged, and downright ignorant as to current affairs and state of belief. You want to know one of the reasons why young people walk away from the church? Because when it comes time for them to find out what they really believe, they discover that their peers and leaders don’t even know that for themselves.

C.S. Lewis spoke of the church as “rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners.” (The Screwtape Letters). But lately it seems as if we the church are stumbling in the dark, divided and uncertain. If the people in the church, the body of Christ, are unwilling to stand up, I’m not sure how much longer that banner will be up there. Nobody’s bothering to do anything about it. Please note: I’m not asking the church to start shouting from the pulpit or trying to proselytize everyone in sight or hang signs out on the streets declaring imminent Hell. I’m just asking for a backbone. I’m asking for awareness and understanding that real life is out there and your faith is not separate from it. Right now it’s just one more shrug of the shoulders, one more sliding out of the pew and leaving the doctrine behind, one more back that is turned away from the flesh-and-blood problems of the real world…Don’t deny it. Don’t dismiss it. Make up your mind, and then live like it.

Possibilities

image

My dad pulled out his old analog cameras last night, with the intent to price them on Ebay. The one on the right is a Canon AE-1 Program. The other is a Pentax ME Super, with an old Vivitar teleconverter lens, a 40-80mm Pentax zoom lens, and a flash unit.

Dad said they won’t sell for much. I said I don’t care. He said they were old and dirty. I said please reference the aforementioned comment. He said he’d sell them to me. I said: sold.

I own a two-year-old Canon PowerShot SX20IS – a decent non-SLR digital camera. I needed an everything-in-one camera, since at the time I purchased it, I was unable to afford the lenses for an actual SLR. The PowerShot has been lovely, but I’ve promised myself that my next camera will be one in Canon’s EOS line, unless a Nikon Dsomething gets to me first.

But to get an actual analog camera? With film and lenses and the possibilities that arise therein?

Quite frankly, I don’t care that both cameras are older than I am. The Pentax has a “serviced in Sept ’82” sticker inside, and the Canon’s interior needs a good cleaning. They are both well used – the Canon was last in regular service in 2006. But, at minimal cost to myself, I’m getting the chance to explore another part of the amazing world of photography.

The cleaning kit has been ordered, the camera manuals have both been found and downloaded (thank you, Google), and the research has begun. The possibilities are endless.

Are you a photography enthusiast? What camera do you have? Have you used film cameras before? Tips are welcomed!

Short Stories?

I’m terrible at writing short stories. Truly. I’ve always been the sort to dump several thousand words on a page every evening, straggling to the end of a story a few months down the road. Then, a year later, it gets wrangled and trimmed into something manageably novel-length. Attempting to world-build and character-create in a short story format is not my strength.

I wonder if short-story writing is better suited to those who outline? If one is a “pantser”, maybe the writing tends to be too long-winded to fit within the guidelines of a short story? I’m not sure. I just know that I’ve never managed to cram the vision from my imagination onto a few short pages.

I recently started reading my nearly-forgotten collection of O. Henry’s short stories, and found myself enjoying his tongue-in-cheek humor and nearly patented ending twists. Then there are the Edgar Allan Poe stories, the ones that were dark and foreboding and creepily unforgettable. I also have half a dozen volumes of fairy tale collections, some separated by author (Hans Christian Anderson), some by cultural origin (African, German, etc). They have all been re-read countless times, but without any success at any sort of imitation.

Do you know of some other good short-story authors or collections? Do you find it easy to come up with an abbreviated arc for a short story?