Conversations on Magic: ‘Genetic Joe’

Conversations on Magic: ‘Genetic Joe’

‘Genetic Joe’ had approached me many times before, yet I had not known his name. This time he came right out and let me know where he was coming from. “My good man, it is quite obvious that you have committed the genetic fallacy concerning magic.” I was taken aback. “You have the advantage of me, sir. I’m not familiar with the term. What is the genetic fallacy?” “Ah, yes, the genetic fallacy. It is the very good friend of literalists and legalists and fundamentalists … you know, people like you.” He paused and looked at me meaningfully. I was curious, so I decided to respond to his opening remark. “Do you think literalists, legalists, and fundamentalists are good terms or bad terms?” He was incredulous. “A question like that need not be asked, isn’t it obviously bad?” He looked knowingly at the man on his right. There was a small group of people now inching closer to hear our conversation. A pricking in my heart told me that I had probably been guilty, many times before, of what I was about to accuse ‘Genetic Joe’ of, but I thought it better to bring it up and clear the air anyway. “I see. Were you calling me names?” His eyes widened. I continued. “You know, trying to weaken my side of the argument by associating me with something that is perceived in the negative? Isn’t it irrelevant to the argument whether or not I am a fundamentalist? “Those listening to our conversation, or even you, might reject my ideas based on who I am rather than by examining the...
The Green Archer Intro

The Green Archer Intro

I’ve got the fourth book of the Peleg Chronicles outlined – about 40 pages of notes, and I’m excited. And Nervous. It’s been a long time since I’ve written, and the doubts have begun. Especially after two of my readers were a little uncomfortable with chapter one. So, in my weakness, I’ve run to the scriptures to make sure I’m aligning myself properly with His Word, with the mind of Christ. I’m reassessing, but still hopeful. In the meantime, I thought I would post the introduction to book 4, which I’m pretty sure will be called ‘The Green Archer”. Here’s the rough draft:   Mamma, the giant badger, ambled through the den. She checked the main exit, sniffed the air, and turned back into the main run. She paused at her skunks; all three were tucked away into a small chamber. They did not stir for they were in their time of the deep-sleep. She turned at the next intersecting run, and found the rest of her clan, six badgers in all; they too were sleeping. It was the middle of the day, they had eaten much in their last night’s hunt, and so they were tired. But not Mamma. A restlessness was upon her. Ever since the battle with the bright-shinies, she found herself wondering about her very own man-thing. What had become of him? She entered his chamber next, moved among his belongings, and smelled them. In the corner was a wooden chest. She had seen him peering into it at times. Using her paws, she managed to open it quickly enough. Inside were clothes the color...
Conversations on Magic: ‘Muscles Marty’

Conversations on Magic: ‘Muscles Marty’

‘Muscles Marty’ moved into my personal space and flexed, but strangely he was not threatening. One might say he was even friendly. Yes, I think perhaps his posture was one of pity even. His brotherly smile carried with it something unspoken, something that, had he given it words, might say, ‘I see you are quite a slight fellow, especially when compared to my tremendous bulk. Don’t worry I shall protect you.’ As I said, he wasn’t threatening, and now I even felt somewhat comforted. But then things changed. My take on his demeanor went from the realm of supposition to that of hardened fact: he gave voice to that look of his. With a deep baritone, he said, “Ah, I see young brother, that you are one of those … those weaker brethren.” Well, I’m not saying it was right of me, but hearing myself called weak in a public fashion like that, well it brought up some of those nasty fruits of the flesh. I bristled. I had done a fair deal of soul searching on this weaker brethren idea in the past, so it was not entirely a new concept for me to wrestle with. It seemed quite possible a weaker brother might not realize that he was in fact weak. Could it be true then? Was I weak? Thankfully I could see from Scripture that God loved and accepted the weaker brethren. Still, I did not want to remain one. I would much rather be in that other camp, the one with the strong muscly types. And now that I was bristled, could I be humble...
Conversations on Magic: ‘Learned Larry’

Conversations on Magic: ‘Learned Larry’

‘Learned Larry’ This conversation on magic centers on a very popular argument, not only used for the promotion of magic and paganism in Christian books and movies, but for many other venues as well. You will likely hear it used in some form over the years of your Christian walk. I hope therefore that it will be beneficial to the reader to understand it more fully in light of scripture. ‘Learned Larry’ came to our booth and purchased the Peleg Chronicles along with a talk I gave called the ‘Devolution of a Boy’. The CD is a trumpet call to the Christian to discern and align with God’s will concerning literature, and seek to understand what pleases and displeases Him. Much of the presentation concerned paganism, of which a small proportion was magic. Shortly thereafter ‘Learned Larry’ wrote a response to my talk which he called a brief defense of fictional magic. It was apparent from his writings that he is in agreement with the premise that all books and movies are teaching something, whether we are aware of it or not. Following is a statement he made that I would like to further delve into: “Good authors will put Biblical bounds around how magic is used in their worlds. Using the word magic to teach children the moral law embedded in the universe, is like Paul using the statue to the unknown god to point to the known God. You start with what they know and move to the truth.” Okay, let’s start with the last point first. ‘You start with what they know and move to the...
Conversations on Magic: ‘Leaning Annie’

Conversations on Magic: ‘Leaning Annie’

CONVERSATIONS ON MAGIC People want to talk about magic. When we go to conventions, it is the number one topic that attendees bring up in our booth. Some begin the conversation accusing us, some start off defensive, some are curious, some confused, some joyful … and so begin hours of fascinating discussions with our visitors. I’d like to revisit some of these conversations on magic and paganism, so that you can be an observer, and if you like, a commentator. Perhaps I’ll make it a series. First though, I humbly ask for you to forbear with me. I know this is a touchy subject. Almost all my Christian friends disagree with me, and yet we are brethren who love one another. ‘LEANING ANNIE’ ‘Leaning Annie’ is a mixture of people I’ve met who ‘lean’ towards the notion that God is okay with magic being portrayed positively in Christian books and media. Yet, they are not completely convinced that their position is a right one. Annie, about sixteen or seventeen, perused our books for a few minutes. She seemed thoughtful, and with open countenance she turned to me and asked, “I want to be a Christian writer, could you tell me why I should not write about magic in my Christian fantasy novels?” There really seemed to be a great sincerity behind her question. I responded with my own question, “Do you know what the Bible says about magic?” She answered quickly. “Yes.” I pressed the point. “There are some topics, like wine, that have scriptures which seem to promote it and others which seem to condemn it. Though God...
Choose Your Own Adventure Part 2

Choose Your Own Adventure Part 2

After my twelve-year-old read a few Choose Your Own Adventure’s, she really enjoyed them, but she had two complaints. The first: “In some of the stories, no matter what decision you make, you end up at the same place.” This is known as “False Forking”. For a good technical article on interactive fiction click here. The second problem: “There was never any danger of not being able to finish the story or any danger of possibly losing one’s life.” As soon as she realized this, the sense of urgency and excitement would drain away. Danger, tension, dilemmas … in a word, conflict. Conflict is at the heart of good storytelling. So one way to add more real choices in interactive fiction without making the story impossibly long is to have more of those choices lead to a definite end, a failing end. Something like: The Green Archer, half-starved, decides to eat the moldy bread. Dizziness ensues. Reaching for a chair, he stumbles. He falls to the floor. Arms, legs, even his neck feel like they are weighed down with stones. His eyes also are heavy … so very tired, he lets them close. The story path the reader was on just ended, and it ended badly. Now the reader knows that there is something at stake for making a bad decision — tension and excitement necessarily heighten. Now for a whole new twist. Game fiction! What’s that you say? It’s Choose Your Own Adventure with the added element of solo game play. The reader might need a piece of paper, pencil and a six-sided die. She can keep track...