Tag Archives: Character

First Made Proud

It’s a sad fact that the realm of politics is as close to religion as the godless can manage. It never really occurred to me to write any other sort of novel, as the genre of political fiction afforded plenty of opportunity to best say what compelled close to a million-and-a-half words. The essential themes therein are what have allowed my storytelling to remain relevant to the point that, ten years on, my first novel remains visible in the stack of its genre on the free side of major venues where e-books come alive.

Pride. Wisdom. Courage. Cowardice. Love. Hate. Indifference. Fiction is effective only when it is relevant to the real world. One could not be transported otherwise, and immersion is the kick that keeps a reader coming back for more.

The first one’s free, kid. Actually the first three. But I digress.

Effective novels compel continued attention, and those stories arise from conflict. There is a cosmic struggle in human nature between basic morality, the edified character that values humility over pride, and empathy above predation. The base elements of deficient humanity are largely characterized by a sense of entitlement to impose one’s will. Pride may target individuals, hierarchies, paradigms, and the tenets of natural law itself.

Pride stops only when stopped, whether by intervening strength of character or the inevitable consequences defining The Way Things Are, as current events often show.

And current events are a show, all right. One featuring copious amounts of often airborne dung. The collision of thesis and antithesis produce the synthesis of a good historical lesson or a satisfying novel’s payout as does the chemistry producing gunpowder from blending less volatile materials. That said, more than once I have looked at headlines rising out of current events and thought, “The Editress would make me tone this story line down for the sake of plausibility.”

Pride is an epidemic in today’s society, and doesn’t give two morning grunts about wisdom, much less about faith. Pride drowns out the lessons of past lives in a cacophony of self-congratulatory accolades, and where wisdom watches and listens carefully, hubris wishes to speak instead. It’s driven by the need to be heard and obeyed, a weakness manifesting in insatiable control issues. Pride can find its own god in the nearest mirror. People stricken with pride, as invariably are my antagonists, cause most of the problems in the world.

The prideful couldn’t conjure faith if they tried. It is a worse situation than ignorance. They have been abandoned to themselves, and the faith not of ourselves preserving us is denied them. They been left to their own minds, and may God some day have mercy on their souls as He has on ours.

Where we have faith, hope, and love, they have baiting, dross, and hubris. They troll while we attempt to edify. We build, and they burn. We are mindful of eternity, and they struggle on against deception screaming that the physical plane and our present lives are all that is.

We’ve been told otherwise, and so have they. By the grace of God we listened, and that makes all the difference in eternity.

The current political climate is one giving the political Left all the rope it need to hang itself, and that scaffold is rising like an ideological Tower of Babel. More of their own number than ever are walking away, and the defections will render unsustainable any moral authority by which they hope to operate. The non-Western world, China, Russia, Persia, and Islam, have long political memories, unlike the West and the U.S. in particular. They are watching, with an interest that should make your blood run cold, as our political extremists debase themselves drunk with perceived power. Their buzz is actually death throes from the political establishment.

“You’re wrong. They’re stronger than ever.” I was told that in an online forum by a hopeless contrarian who couldn’t force himself to absorb the points I’m trying to bring across now.

Hopelessness is another lie of the enemy. You know who was strong in 1939? Hitler. Six years later, his thousand-year Reich has been flattened by the Hammer of God for daring to strike the Almighty’s chosen people.

Pride did that. Pride will wreak similar havoc on overreach and arrogance wherever it overtakes the assumptive and unmindful. These ash layers of history don’t striate themselves, and today Adolf Hitler’s remains nourish the base soil of some parking lot in Berlin.

Overreach is repulsive, because no one likes a loser. And the more extreme one’s folly, the greater number will see what’s coming prior to the victim of his own self-wrought circumstances.

The appreciation of freedom, as a result, is breaking out like a virus. Winter gives way to spring as a chill waiting to abate. The sun is on its way.

I try to not make these columns a sermon, but without testimony the soul of a believer is barren. Without something to say, fiction is flat and uninteresting as distilled water. Without a spiritual journey, a character in fiction or real life is less embraceable than otherwise would be.

Life gives one the choice between hope and fear, and the delivery from fear is the reason Christ appeared in our own historical epoch to be documented by the very ones to whom he was delivered to be crucified in our place. Hope in any circumstance arises just as He did if we remember this.

A century ago, people my age had been born during the Civil War, and had lived the time of westward expansion that followed to the first Great War prideful, as opposed to rational, nationalism wrought. They were, as we are now, strung between two times, trying to piece together the mysteries of how men and nations ought to order the world.

Pride and faith were in conflict then as well. Some would listen and others race ahead in blind ambition. These things have all happened before.

The basis of character is the realization that Emmanuel—God With Us—is an ongoing commitment on His part. We are not alone in this unless we close that door ourselves. The great unseen host of witnesses on our every side are whispering their advice as loudly as allowed while He tarries, not willing that any of us should be lost.

Be one of those who ‘ll absorb the lessons to be had in the last chapter. You’ll find, as often happened to me, that in fact the story doesn’t end there at all.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

In production news, the Editress continues progress, now one-eighth through her final editing in Ritter’s sixth and concluding novel, and one marking his return to present-day Bosnia in ‘Sister’s Shadow.’ Look for it at the end of summer, should God be willing for us to see a fifteenth title through.

On Fear

Six feet and wear a mask. No justice, no peace! Burn it down! Submit, infidel, or face the swords of Islam. You’re going to die.

I know a thing or two about fear. One doesn’t live a life such as mine without encountering it, and when you rise up in an environment full of bad information about yourself, others, and life generally, the missteps to which you’re subjected will produce any number of suboptimal conditions. Yes, at times you’ll be confused, and sometimes even afraid.

It should help to remember that all emotion—every bit of each—is there to take us farther down the road we travel in this life. An essential article of faith declares us to be works in progress and not fleeting evolutionary accidents. Therefore, it’s a predictable strategy of the enemy seeking to convince us the state of actuality is otherwise.

Every emotional predator is his ally in this. Most of those twisted souls cannot even perceive much less acknowledge their place in the natural (or unnatural) order. Being used as tools, their malevolent patron spirit is content in allowing them to maintain a self-satisfied and egocentric condition while its vessel may endure. Such souls pay no heed to their allotted span, taking existence at face value and travelling unconvinced of any spiritual realm waiting ahead of the terminus in our line of time. The fears they wield in life are ledger entries in an account coming due, and the resultant clarity will not be kind to them.

Fear, along with every emotion, also exists partially for the sake of learning its controls. Each of the feelings we harbor has its benefit and danger, and allowing their progression from impulse to excess is a common and unfortunate aspect of human nature. In that one afterwards draws farther from our Creator’s intent, we can see sin germinates there. We, as faithful souls, are tasked with engaging in continual victories over temptation, and as we’re explicitly instructed to do otherwise, therefore fear itself becomes sin. It follows as no wonder, then, that our enemies and God’s make every attempt to use it against us.

I write political fiction, which aside from the obvious interplay of good and bad actors in office speaks also of broader considerations than the advancement of a given plot. My genre concerns itself with the things it has to say, and there examines all aspects of human interaction. Those episodes are steered by the inclinations of each character, in turn motivated by perspective. The archetypes comprising imaginary people embody the virtues and vices, just as are personalities encountered in what passes for the real world these days. Writing fiction as I do is art imitating life, and done well enough one’s work passes the point where its influence sometimes expands to reverse the dynamic.

Beware of politics—or any influence, really—leveraging the classical vices rather than virtue. Vice is drawn out of the toolbox of the enemy, whose rebellion and lust for mayhem eclipse any rational consideration. Wholesome influences, be they loving parents, mindful educators, inspired pastors, or faithful, ideologically American leaders seek to enhance the general condition of humanity rather than exploit their influence over others for personal gain. If hyperbolic stumps of misguided ambition can advantage themselves by making you afraid, rest in every assurance they will do so, and with a following agenda in mind certain to advance their interests ahead of their constituents or the public trust.

Every step of our journey, light or slogging, is a choice between faithfulness and faithlessness, taken in hope or depression. We are surrounded on every side with a wealth of testimony written in natural law as to what works and what kills. There is no benefit in fear that wisdom does not better provide.

One of the great testaments to this could have been lost to history, but for providence. In World War Two, His Majesty’s ship and a lion of the British navy, the Hood, set itself to confront the terror of the seas flying the flag of Nazi Germany, namely the battleship Bismarck. With no small task before them, the chaplain of the ship gathered the crew onto its great deck to ask them their essential questions:

God the Father with you, what do you fear?”
We fear nothing!” came the answer from the crew.
God the Son with you, what do you fear?” was asked.
Again, “We fear nothing!”
And lastly, “God in His Spirit being with you, what do you fear?”
We fear nothing!

The battle following is recorded in history, along with most of the acts of that  despicable Reich. Exchanging naval fire, the mighty Hood took an explosive shell from one of the main guns mounted by Bismarck. Received into its powder magazine, the great battleship was killed with nearly every member of the crew who had gathered on deck to renew their commitment to duty so little time before. One, at least, was carried to the surface in a bubble from a suddenly rupturing boiler, and so survived to pass along the lesson you’ve now heard.

They died, yes. But they did not fear, and in that a greater victory than the crew of the Hood might have won at sea was the result.

Spiritual and moral strength was more common a lifetime ago. In too many segments of today’s society, fear has replaced faith, and those in its grip trust in others who proclaim their best interests to address the objects of those fears. It’s unfortunate that often the terror is of contrived circumstances engineered to steer an agenda designed to produce benefits to a few out of the misery of many more.

Be suspicious of those advocating fear and promising to do well by you in exchange for what they ask you to give up in return. You are served by cultivating strength, not weakness. You support yourself in an upright condition by leaning on virtue, not bowing under the weight of vice. You are illuminated by faith, not lost in the darkness of a wandering soul. Remember that one journeys only with a destination in mind, and it cannot be otherwise. You yourself are at the end of that road, and it’s there your Creator will tell you the story of your life in unfolding every mystery. You’re my reader. With every prayer I wish you well along the way, and toward that good end, I’m not afraid to do what I can.

Choose to love. – DA

*****

In production news, the Editress has reached the 30% mark in production editing for my intertwined tales of Ritter at war in subsequent decades. Twenty-Four Hours to Midnight will, God willing, bring Sean, Farrah, Gabir and other characters you’ll remember back for another round. This time, as the tag line promises, it will be for family.