Santa Dragon and Message Fiction

Some of the authors of the Fantastic Creatures anthology are taking part in the Santa Dragon. Each author has a gift for visitors. For those coming here, leave a comment, and you’ll be entered in two drawings. One winner will receive a $5 Amazon card. The other will receive an ebook copy of my novel Rebirths.

Since many of you coming here for the first time, let me tell you that I love to write fantasy. I’ve mostly written classic-style fantasy over the years but recently started working in more contemporary settings. At times, Lou’s felt like it was writing itself. The companion set, Joshua’s Pawn Shop, has one story released and others waiting for the set to be completed. I’ve now drafted the first six parts of JPS, which should make some readers very happy to hear.

I like to write fantasy because those stories are where the heart and head meet quite readily. While I despise message fiction where the message gets in the way of the fiction, most authors are trying to tell something. Sometimes, they do it badly.

When the message gets in the way of the story, characters do things that are out of character. Or worse, they commit actions that no reasonable person would do in those circumstances. For example, they stop running from the bad guys to deliver an art lecture. Since they aren’t caught, the bad guys must have stopped chasing.

I think that’s enough for now. Please peruse the blog and see what else interest you. And don’t forget to comment to enter the drawings.

UPDATE: The Santa Dragon is closed and the winner have been selected. Anna Brie wins the copy of Rebirths, and Deborah O’Carroll wins the$5 Amazon card. Congratulations!

Posted in Christian, Fiction | Tagged | 3 Comments

Hermeneutical Horror

The other day I was listening to a Christian podcast where one of the hosts is a minister. He made a statement that just left my jaw on the floor. “We know that the forbidden fruit was not an apple because the apple is not a true fruit. It’s a false fruit.”

Ouch. That’s bad hermeneutics. The problem with it can be seen by asking two questions:

1) What’s a false fruit?

From The Free Dictionary, “A fruit, such as a strawberry, that contains tissue not derived from a ripened ovary.” Since apples contain tissue from a swollen thalamus, they are, indeed, a false fruit.

2) Is that a distinction made in the Bible’s time?

NO. In the Bible, fruits are simply the fleshy parts of trees that contain seeds. They don’t make a distinction over whether the fleshy part came form ovary, thalamus, or anything else. You’d be hard pressed to even find them using any of those words.

An important question that follows is “does the lack of distinction make the Bible wrong about apples?” Not at all. To force the issue is to commit the Fallacy of Modernity (also called the Appeal to Novelty). That is, to assume that because something is new, it is better (GK Chesterton hated it when people committed this fallacy. In his words, they preferred Wednesday simply because it came after Tuesday). Likewise, there is the Appeal to Antiquity where one assumes that something is better simply because it is old.

Are there other examples of the Bible not making a distinction that we do? Yes. Here are two just off the top of my head.

Bats are Birds

Leviticus 11:13-19 contains a list of birds that one is not to eat. At the end of the list is the “bat.” Ah, we might say, committing the Fallacy of Modernity, we know that bats are mammals and not birds; therefore, the Bible is wrong.

Great. Wonderful. We don’t put them in the same category; therefore, any culture that does is wrong to do so? There are several things wrong with that statement.

It’s better to look at the two words in question and see if, first, they are used the same way that we use the words. Both words have different ranges of meaning than the words they are translated to. Such a fact is very common translating between any two languages as different as English and Hebrew. The word for bird, ‘oph is also used to refer to insects (Leviticus 11:20) and the verb form is used for how angels move (Isaiah 6:6), in short anything using wings to fly can be an ‘oph. Even more generally, sparks (Job 5:7) and a scroll (Zechariah 5:1ff) can use the same word in a figurative sense.

The other word, ‘atallep, is only used three times in the Scripture. Here, the parallel passage in Duet 14:18, and Isaiah 2:20. From Duet and Leviticus, we can determine it is an unclean, winged thing. From Isaiah we see that it is a wild pest of some kind. The Septuagint translates the word with nukteris, “bat,” so there is an ancient tradition for identifying it this way.

Simply put, the Hebrews classified things differently. They didn’t use the same classification system that we do. Therefore, whether ‘atallep is a bat or not, it’s not a big deal. Clearly, whatever it is, uses wings to move.

Jonah’s Fish

Likewise is Jonah’s fish. People spend a lot of time debating if the dag was a fish or a whale. I’ve even read commentators who wax eloquent over the fact that it must have been a fish because whales are not fish, and the Bible, being inerrant, would never confuse the two. Same fallacy as above with birds and bats! The Hebrews did not distinguish between whales and fish. It isn’t wrong for them to not split them. They simply never had a reason to make a distinction.

However, those who insist that Jonah’s dag be a fish according to the modern understanding run into a problem with the Gospel of Matthew if they likewise insist on a perfect KJV. The KJV translates the words of Jesus in Matthew as “whale.”

Matthew 12:40 has the Greek word ketos, which on top of referring fish or whales can be used for sea monsters. The word only appears there in the New Testament. But it is the same word used in the Septuagint of Jonah instead of the usual word for fish, ichthus.

In conclusion, these are distinctions that didn’t matter back then and shouldn’t be argued now. When interpreting Scripture, the student must never press a modern understanding on the text in preference to the Biblical understanding.

Posted in Christianity, Hebrew, Hermeneutical Horrors, Hermeneutics | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Sawing Off Your Support

In apologetics reading, I recently came across the worst argument I can remember. In a chapter regarding Old Earth Creationism, the author argued for a flood that wiped out all of mankind without being global–a regional but universal (from humanity’s perspective) flood. One supporting argument he laid out floored me: science has proven that a global flood is impossible.

Just think about that for a moment and the damage done accepting that argument does to Christianity.

If you’re having trouble seeing it, then put the statement laid out into a formal, logical argument.

We begin with a major premise, a general statement that we then apply to specifics (the minor premise).

Major Premise: If science says a thing is impossible, it did not happen.
Minor Premise: Science says a global flood is impossible.
Conclusion: Therefore, the flood described in Genesis 6-9 could not have been global.

(If you’ve already said to yourself, “But aren’t all miracles scientifically impossible by definition either in absolute terms or in terms of timing?” then give yourself a medal. You’ve seen the fatal flaw in the argument. To argue here against what the Bible describes as a miracle undermines any Christian argument of miracles later.

To demonstrate, we will continue to explore the damage accepting this argument does to Christianity. To see if the major premise holds, we apply it to other Christian doctrines.

Major Premise: If science says a thing is impossible, it did not happen.
Minor Premise: Science says that virgin women do not give birth.
Conclusion: Therefore, Mary could not have been a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus.

Whoa! Whoa! To make his point in one place, has he just accepted a premise that undermines Christianity? Surely not! Surely a trained apologist–nay, a clear thinker–would have seen the flaw from a mile away and realized that accepting the major premise meant he had to discard the Virgin Birth. But, wait, one can be saved without believing in the Virgin Birth (let’s say that a new believer had never heard of the Virgin Birth. He would still be saved. However, when hearing that the Bible teaches the Virgin Birth, the hypothetical new believer should accept it). So, he’s still in the clear, right?
Nope. For the premise denies all miracles. Let’s apply it to the central miracle of Christianity.

Major Premise: If science says a thing is impossible it did not happen.
Minor Premise: Science says men do not rise from the dead.
Conclusion: Therefore, Jesus could not have been resurrected from the dead.

By presenting the major premise as an argument against a global flood, he destroyed any possible defense of the central tenet of Christianity. Oh, he might argue that other miracles are still possible just this one isn’t. But to argue that what you yourself are setting up as a rule and standard doesn’t apply when it hurts another argument you like is a textbook case of the fallacy known as special pleading. Either the major premise is true and no miracle is possible, or it is not and miracles are possible.

I trust you see why using it is akin to sawing off the limb you’re standing on.

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A Coming of Age Tale in an Age that Needs One

I just finished THE SWAN KNIGHT’S SON, book one of the new MOTH AND COBWEB series by John C. Wright. One of Wright’s previous novels, Somewhither, won the inaugural Dragon Con Award for Science Fiction). I reviewed Somewhither last year.

Image result for swan knight's son

This is the 5-star review I posted to Amazon.

The Swan Knight’s Son started out with a good story–when the story opens with a clock striking thirteen, you know your in for a wild ride through the imagination. Somewhere it became a great story. I can’t wait for part 2.

I have recently read the Chronicles of Narnia to my boys and am in the fourth book of Prydain. This series, Moth and Cobweb, could be the Narnia or Prydain of our generation. I will likely be reading this one to them once parts 2 and 3 (also Gil’s adventure) come out. It is a coming of age tale in an age that needs them.

Swan Knight’s Son speaks of a realm of wonder and deep meaning that lies just beyond our mortal eyes. A place where everything has significance if you know where to find it. It speaks of an honorable world–both more vivid and more cruel than our own. The shock of a fight between two enemies being fought with honor by both sides speaks to the detriment of our society. We always expect one side to cheat or otherwise be a little evil. Neither knight is one that humans would want to win! Yet, both act with honor—rearming him when an opponent is weaponless, halting to dismount when the first is knocked off. Not all the elven knights fight that way, but the ideal is still reached for by some.

The book is the first in a series and, naturally, sets up the universe. First up, there is a third hemisphere where the elvinkind dwell. Gil doesn’t know about them (meaning that he serve as our audience surrogate and have things explained to him that we don’t know without it coming off as an “as you know” scene). The third hemisphere overlaps with ours, or at least the elves are able to move from their hemisphere into ours without being seen by most people. Gil and his mother can see them, along with most animals, such as Gil’s talking dog.

Gil is 16yo in our modern day and has chosen a father since he doesn’t know who his real father is. He chose King Arthur and decided to make him proud. To do so, he pursues the knighthood. It’s very difficult to find a knight to squire with in North Carolina, a fact his mother counts on. She does not want him to become a knight like his father (whose name she will not give to Gil).

Gil’s mother has been trying to protect him from the elves his whole life. She has immortal blood of her own but of neither the light court of elves nor the dark court. She and Gil are of the Twilight realm of fairie, but both also have human blood. They are the clan of Moth—a Twilight clan that reaches for the light, unlike Clan Cobweb which reaches for the darkness. Gil can speak to animals, an ability that serves him in good stead when he takes a bear for his fighting teacher. He also has a mermaid for a cousin, but she only wears her tail on special occasions.

If you are a fan of John Wright’s Everness or Unwithering Realm books, you will also like this one. There are a handful of sideways references to each but not enough where reading either is required to enjoy this one. For example, both Everness and Swan Knight speak of a mist that keeps elvinkind from human eyes (only the same mist if this book is part of the Everness which we don’t know) and Gil used to live in the same Oregon town that Ilya from Somewhither lives in.

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