Tag Archives: Salvation by grace through faith

Tolkien for the thirty-third time

I was introduced to the writing of J.R.R. Tolkien by my 5th grade reading teacher, Mrs. Rougemont. We read The Hobbit aloud, painfully enduring others who pronounced the w in sword and committed other acts of disinterested, semi-literate mediocrity.

That was the 1970s. A love of words had already been discovered. The craft, you see, provided a place to go. When one is a child, and his father is gone, and one lives ten miles from the middle of nowhere surrounded by people incapable of projecting value or love, having a place to go was vital. It was, at the time, part of what I did to survive long winters.

I still have those original mass-market paperbacks. They are tattered, broken, since-retired remnants of the fresh copies a young man bought with allowance money. The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, and of course the three volumes of The Lord of the Rings were read many times. Enough times, in fact, as it takes for such a copy to totter on the verge of disintegration.

The Perimeter would be incomplete without its library, even pared down as it is through many moves. Tolkien’s classics remain, now in hardcover, as the Editress is also a fan. She actually had not encountered the stories until the release of Peter Jackson’s movies, and furthermore exercised enough discipline to not outrun the films as they released, though she read up to the point as soon as possible afterward.

Tolkien, as he discussed in the forward of the Houghton Mifflin edition I have recently finished again, never intended to present allegory. His fantasy, the man insisted, had no bearing on the real world. Were that true, I suspect the work would not have endured to the extent it did. The Professor in actuality had quite a lot to say about our state of affairs. All writers do, in their own idiom.

Middle Earth, populated by elves, trolls, orcs, dwarves, Men, Hobbits and others, was born to a purpose in the mind of a genius. I believe, after a short lifetime of reflection, it to be a message and a simple one, unseen if unsought as so many are. Perhaps it was even unconscious as the man wrote. Character and faith are inseparable and vital attributes of a righteous mind.

It’s another law in a universe of actualities. Things are as they are. That which is true has always been true, and will ever remain. The Fourth Age of Middle Earth arrived, and Tolkien’s world sometime after merged with our own. Much that was in his world never was, yet is still. We yet have the challenges posed by evil and our options in acting where we find ourselves, right now, today. The choices remain to serve ourselves entirely, or trust, as Tolkien wrote, that Powers work in the world besides the will of the enemy.

We’ve no elves, but there are others just as fair and perilous if not possessed of the wisdom of the Eldar. No goblins, though in cases it can be argued certain communities are close enough to an orc-hold for comparisons to be drawn. Mordor no longer exists, but we have resurgent Marxism and its child plague of liberal elitism; each of those possesses an enduring diabolic ambition to subject all mankind to its own Darkness.

The race of Men maintains its weakness in the face of mortality. We’re told to have faith and given a limited lifespan to choose our loyalties, set our goals, and discern our purpose in the context of a much larger story. We can, after our own fashion, look west as did Faramir to Numenor that was, Elvenhome that is, and Undying Lands and remember.

We instead look up, and apply Tolkien’s unspoken premise to a faith wonderfully real. The long ages God has wrought in His relationship with children on Earth go on. We have, as my character Jon Anthony presented it, a choice between love and hate, with only indifference as a temporary hiding place before our circumstance forces one or the other. We’ve the long history and testimony of those many who’ve encountered Him, whose accounts are preserved by Providence every bit as well as were records in the archives of Minas Tirith. All allow a reasoned faith to conclude there are, beyond the gray curtain of this world, white shores and a far green country under a swift sunrise.

To discover character and faith, vital and inseparable, is the primary purpose of a living soul. To Realize one’s need sparks the tinder which inflames Exploration for truth. To Accept God’s gift of forgiveness and afterward Live what one believes makes one R.E.A.L. That is a good place to be before things “Get Real.”

These days, as they were through the ages of Middle Earth, are here to bless us or build us, but not to break us. We are made of God Stuff and will not be undone, to our eternal joy or peril. It’s time to choose whom we serve, and ever has been.

Choose to Love, -DA

*****

OLSJ_225x337DSIn production news, Boone Hildebrandt’s third, One Last Scent of Jasmine, stands 43% complete in primary editing. Her contest with elements of our own government remains on schedule to appear this winter, God willing, likewise to be followed by the next volume in Sean’s File, King of a Lesser Hill.

Inadequate Theology This

If one choose to write substantively—and I do—one may encounter people who are not necessarily well equipped to absorb a particular read produced. A pity in itself, the inadequacy can also at times manifest itself in negative feedback. The opinions of the ignorant are always a burden, and more annoying when made available for propagation on the Internet.

My free title, The Anvil of the Craftsman, is also the most widespread of my work. This in itself is a joy. While I am currently working on my eleventh full-length title, had I been blessed to produce only one, Jon Anthony’s 2006 Iraq adventure would suffice.

Anvil, in the paperback edition, is at this writing customer-rated in the top one percent of 7,300+ Political Fiction titles. Some, of course, did not like it as much. There is a reason why people swear in my novels, and that reason is for the sake of realism. Likewise, sexual situations—not something I usually care to put on screen, by the way—are portrayed because sex is a reality also encountered in the living of life.

I regret introducing these things into the puritanical fortress of solitude some readers have raised around their carefully ordered literary world, but that’s the way it is, boys and girls. Possibly, there is a better way for you to deal with realism than capping on my novel for content I warn about on the book’s retail description page.

Regardless of the preceding mini-rant, those minor quibbles do not bother me … much. More frustrating are the opinions of the readers whom the FAQs on my website (linked below) designate “pontificating self-righteous jerks.” You know who you are, or should. The next time you are speaking, ask Jesus what He would think of underrating a five-star novel you downloaded for free.

I’m not sure what some of you people expected of Jon Anthony in Al Anbar Province, addressing an assembly of Muslims, tribal elders and opinion leaders. That, gentle reader, was not the time anyone with Jon’s level of intelligence would have launched into his rendition of a Southern Baptist tent revival. Instead, he focused on commonalities, which is an attribute of civilized men and women and the orientation of anyone, as Anthony puts forth in his tripartite choice, who chooses to love.

Per the Greatest Commandment of Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV):

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Well, it seems pretty clear cut, does it not? It was also the foundational premise Jon was attempting to propagate.

In reaction, my novel has been called heresy, unChristian, and theologically inadequate by the sort of reader I mentioned in the first paragraph of this post. Allow me to retort.

When Christ died on the Cross, that centering point of history served not only as a historical reference going forward, but backward as well. The moment was the act of a loving God, accommodating in the only way possible the differential nature between Creation and Divinity. It is as accommodating of the righteous person who, for whatever cultural reason, has never grasped the significance of the mission of Christ as it is to those who can recite the story chapter and verse without realizing its universal applicability.

The Cross was inclusive act. It allows for the imperfect to become perfect in the sight of a perfect Creator, and enables our undeserved life through the counterweight of an undeserved death. Regardless of the empowering dogma of any theological hierarchy, I do not believe in and cannot accept the sacrifice of Jesus as a point of excluding legalism. As such, otherwise loving humanity would be cast into the flames of hell on a technicality.

Should you be a Christian? Dear God, yes! To do otherwise makes you ignorant of a wonderful act of love at best, an ingrate otherwise, and a contemptible reprobate at the worst. Will I consign any of you to hell for your current stage of development? No, I do not, because your Craftsman has not yet finished His long work of your life.

Somewhere along our way, the Spirit whispers His guidelines: first, that He Is … afterward, that life is better than death, that love overcomes hate, and that our essential orientation to either is our responsibility. There arrives a time when the heavens declare the Glory of God, and we see, and in seeing are changed from our essentially inadequate state to a viable child soul of a loving Creator. Everything we need to know in the work of our Craftsman follows to His ends.

Such happens in billions of places, with billions of souls, and in an unimaginable number of ways. This is so because the Spirit has no point of overload, no bandwidth restrictions, and a limitless capacity for concurrent projects. He is very good at what He does, and His work is life. Those hours of agony Jesus endured on our behalf—and, in a metaphysical sense, always did and always will, though that point is another topic. This actuality is what takes His work to the best end imaginable.

Readers are, of course, free to rate my work at whatever level they wish. That is their right. Regardless, realize first that I do not write haphazardly and am well able to defend any point I hold dear. If one thinks otherwise, perhaps he or she should read my novel again, more slowly. Rest assured that I’m well capable of doing this all … day … long.

*****

As far as news of production: Boone’s second, The Bonus Pool—my sixth full-length title—is on schedule for June, 2015. Her third and my seventh, One Last Scent of Jasmine will follow, God willing, sometimes around the end and beginning of the year. Next year, if we are so graced, Sean’s third, King of a Lesser Hill, and Boone’s fourth, Meat for the Lion, will appear. I hope to see you there. As always, more information is available at www.daleamidei.com.

Choose to Love, -DA

Sean and Muhammad

Perhaps a detailed psychoanalysis can explain where the ideas for a writer’s work originate. If so—despite my degree in that area of study—it is unlikely that I would take such a conclusion seriously in any case. Science tends to discount the notion that the mind is a spiritual crossroad, and tends to fall into the trap of human arrogance in assuming all of our thoughts and inspirations are our own.

In The Anvil of the Craftsman, Farrah’s son Gabir and the story’s mysterious military man have a brief conversation regarding Gabir’s father Muhammad. He was a man whose memory resided in reverence, seemingly by everyone who knew him. It was a scene that demanded the fulfillment of the back-story from the moment I wrote the words.

Whether a reader knows my Air Force Special Operator as Matt Kameldorn—his nom de guerre in Anvil—Drew Domenick from The Britteridge Heresy, or Daniel Sean Ritter from Killing Doctor Jon, he is a character whose intrigue draws the reader close. They seemed to want to know more, and so did I. The result was a parallel series to Jon’s Trilogy now beginning: Sean’s File, opening with his first novel Operation Naji.

Heroes, Villains, and ordinary people are made, not born. Each story has a beginning, and middle, and an end. In Naji, we see the beginnings of the man in whom training, talent, and dedication would coalesce to produce a warrior. That, however, is not the whole purpose of the work.

The heart of the novel remains a question in the deep blue water of theology, and that is the basis for salvation. Those of you who have absorbed my work may find my ideas divergent in that regard, though as with everything my opinions result from dedicated consideration. I see our origins in the work of a Craftsman: one who takes the time needed to produce His desired result, and Who is very good at what He does. I believe that skill is applied across cultures and faiths, due to the engineered capacity of the human soul to find its way back home. We humans do that by addressing essential and universal questions—consciously or not—and with a result determined by our individual character, capacity, and determination.

One believes in salvation by grace through faith, or one does not. Personally, I see the accommodation of Christ as an eternal fixture in a perfect plan rather than as a point of legality in a historical timeline. Some overly rigid doctrinalists will doubtless take issue with a Christian writer placing a Muslim as the main narrative character in Naji. Nevertheless, the novel brings across the message given as I wrote, and I have no regrets concerning the result.

Operation Naji is now in the very final stages of editing, and shall—God willing—soon go on to proofing and formatting and thence to its beta readers. Once published, the same faith telling me this endeavor of writing was worthwhile assures me that the novel will achieve its intended influence. Maybe only a few will read it, or perhaps many. It is what it is, and I think it a story that will not be forgotten once absorbed. Sean, of course, deserves that, as does Muhammad … certainly even more.

Choose to Love, -DA