Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Murky Waters

"I know there's fakes in the church. More importantly, God knows there's fakes in there."
-To Save A Life

I'm officially getting mixed messages in a very bad way in the last few days. Anyone that knows me in real life knows that I'm not a fan of Joel Osteen. Not his theology, nor his preaching style, nor his wife's hedonistic claims of who we're really worshiping when we're worshiping God ("You're not really worshiping God, though that's one way to think of it, you're really worshiping yourselves."), etc.
Then I found out Joel's church got shut down when Hurricane Harvey struck. Excuse me? He's reputed to have the biggest church in the whole nation. Some have said in the world. Why close it? Then I found reports that the building was flooded.
Oh...
Cue the shame. I didn't expect that. Coupled with the claims were pictures from church members of the hallways filled waist high with floodwaters. Yeah, that will be a definite health hazard. Today, however, I'm finding a far different story. There's multiple Facebook live videos of people walking around Lakewood Baptist Church, showing the hallways and exterior. The parking garage. All "inaccessible" parts were dry. No traffic around for half a mile around the building yet the roads were clear of water.
Something's not right.
I look up Osteen's ministry page.
Before I go any further, let me make it clear that I have many friends who are excellent Christians that also happen to be fans of Osteen. If any of them reads this post, I'm sure I'll get flack, but I'm posting it anyway. Especially considering Osteen posts Scripture on status updates, which I check to see if he got the context right (for once), yet invariably never seems to (a post on Proverbs 20 comes to mind and how his update was very much different from the whole theme and feel of the chapter).
One post this weekend sadly informs that the church will be closed due to flooding. The next... shows many people ("hundreds upon hundreds," according to Osteen) inside the halls and rooms, set up around volunteer tables, helping each other out, Osteen thanking them for coming out and showing heart.
It's great that they're doing that, but I'm left with a seriously bad problem. Or perhaps Joel Osteen is. How can the church be flooded (which got supported claims from church members and staff with twitter pics, calling out "haters and hypocrites" for bashing Joel for not opening the church in the first place) then suddenly be dry enough for what looks like thousands of people to be helping out?
Don't get me wrong, it's a duty for Christians in the Bible to help each other out. I believe that's mandatory in times of travesty and crisis. What's weird is the situation and timing.
In one Facebook live video, it was joked that the rugs would probably cost thousands of dollars to get cleaned and dried, right after making a mention that Joel makes about $55M a year from church tithing alone. I looked at the pictures of the volunteers and took notice of the interior environments. In a few pictures that rugs, I noticed not one rug was wet. Not one thing in the environment had any water damage.
When I worked at Little Caesar's we had a damaged wall that, when rain was sever (if not torrential), it started to flood at the door, it would take a couple days for the rug we had to dry out. I remembered how dark the rug would get when it was either drenched or damp. The rugs in Osteen's church looked bone dry.
To be sure I wasn't being completely paranoid (you know, out of my disdain toward Joel), I looked up on Google if it was true that Joel only opened his church due to backlash on social media. Of course, he would claim that the "narrative" on social media was false.
Wait, he said something? In more than one news article about his church being closed, it was reported he had nothing to say. Now he's saying the backlash narrative is false?
Something seriously doesn't add up. In three days, I've gone from fed up with him to feeling ashamed at myself to getting riled up.
Making things further weirder is that all of Osteen's followers are stating all the claims of the church being flooded were false. That presents a "narrative" dilemma.
Was his church closed to flooding and, therefore, he unable to accept flood survivors?
Or was he unwilling to open his church doors for half a week before having to accept them?
Wait, I almost forgot, what about the church staff that supported the claims of flooded hallways?
Much as I've tried rationalizing (for the sake of argument) the timing of the claims, none of the possibilities are in Joel's favor for why the church wasn't opened in the first place (especially if it wasn't flooded in the first place). It's one or the other, to put it succinctly.
Sure, Joel has his share of skeptics, and sure, those skeptics have an internal share of fakes and hypocrites (I count myself one on occasion), as many of his followers are quick to call anyone out who doesn't take Joel seriously. However, there's the worldly way of being what a Christian looks like, then there's the Bible way of being what a Christian looks like.
Hurricane Harvey has set up a very large problem for Joel Osteen. It's also shown the true colors of his followers and skeptics. I've seen my own true colors in this ordeal, and I'm liking Joel's colors less than I did before.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

On Harvey's flood

My heart is being broken by the tragedy of the flood. So quickly, the death toll is rising, flooding has covered so much land, and more. I'm also feeling convicted.
Recently, there was a posting on social media about Lakewood Baptist Church not being opened for flood survivors. I was angered by this. A church well known for its size wasn't being opened to the public. I got on board the hate-Osteen bandwagon. Today, I found out that the inside of the church was flooded out. I stepped off the bandwagon, ashamed at my hypocrisy.
Do I still feel Osteen's a fake? I do. Nonetheless, I felt awful for my knee-jerk reaction.
Going to keep Texas in prayer to survive Harvey. Wish I could do more. Perhaps I could do less judging?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The King's New Decree. King's Blood review

Okay, before I get started on the review proper, I'd like to take a moment to show off my new book case.


Glad to have a new space for my books.
Now that I got that out of the way, here's the review proper for


I was starting to learn a certain lesson from book one, King's Folly, that I learned further in this: don't read into the details for parallel real life objects. A culture that I thought may have represented Judaism turned out to be the furthest thing from it. Or have nothing at all to do with Jewish culture.
Another cool thing; this is the first book I've read that took place on the open sea. I never knew you could have so much dense story on open water! Not only that, there's a very good reason Jill Williamson has a sizable fanbase. She knows how to give a story, not simply string together a series of words and make it catchy.
Rather, it's as deep as the ocean. In a couple pages shy of 600 pages, it's still as dense as Stephen King's The Stand, it took me three and a half months of taking a breath after a dip then another dip. Especially when there's SO MANY characters to recall. Some were easier to remember. For a certain traitor to the Hadar House, I easily imagined him as looking like Hector from Westworld- bad boy persona with slick leather outfit. Plus, he gets the attention of ladies easily (as does Hector in Westworld's pilot). That's just one example. The number of characters (both alive and dead) now challenges that of Game of Thrones. Yep, shots fired!
So, cultures! Epic fantasy always has multiple cultures, and just when I was getting used to the Five Realms, a peculiar twist happens, then a more peculiar twist.
For a while, I was trying to figure out why the story is called King's *Blood*, don't worry, it gets revealed, and I think I know why the sequel series (or main series, I suppose) is called the Blood of Kings.
After the incredible battle scene that closes the story, I really want to get to next year for the last book, King's War.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Recent Realization

It seems it's true. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Growing up in both Zanesville, Ohio and Clarksburg, West Virginia, I was a loner for various reasons.
Recently, I went to a dance party with a group I'm with, CRU. It was joined by a similar group, BCM. It was for Valentine's Day, or as singles know it, Singles Awareness Day.
One reason I went was for a (hopeful) chance to dance with a certain friend of mine. After all, there were swing dance instructors!
Unfortunately, much as I seriously wanted to ask this lass to dance (let alone get on the dance floor), I simply couldn't get myself to actually do it.
I desired it.
I wanted to do it.
I saw it as enjoyable.
Yet I couldn't get myself to take the chance. My friend went on the floor, had a great time dancing with a few mutual friends, was happy with doing so. I was happy for her. Yet sad for myself. A little bit later, I got the chance to talk with my friend that I simply can't dance.
All this time, I thought it was because my parents didn't have a dancing gene to give me. Then again, my mother did dance as an exercise when she was in her 20's (no, I'm not saying her age now, either).
As I did some soul searching, I realized the problem was far deeper than genetics. It was my self-esteem, which was fractured as a child.
With my self-esteem being broken starting at an early age (10), my worldview was bleak. No friends, no way to get friends, no way to get help when needed, etc. Even after moving in with my mother at 12, I would start a truly long journey to break out of that shell. Even so, some side effects longer, as I'm still discovering to my chagrin.
It may also be the reason I'm not too good at evangelizing, something Christians are told to. Most would think it's simple shyness, which is a problem I've had since I can remember.
Or, possibly, a mix of the two.
As an end of this post, remember this: that saying about sticks, stones, and broken bones is a lowsy saying.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A couple new things

So, I'm off Facebook, officially. Finally. When things get better grounded, I have more important things to look forward to than the newest trends, most hateful political posts, etc.
Like really getting back to my stories. I'm even going to try drawing a map of a fictional town to visualize what's happening where.
I'm still without power so it's a mixed blessing. No heat, so I'm cold. However, no TV so I can read more.
I suppose this is more a general update.
The biggest update, though:
FINALLY GETTING MY OWN PLACE! Well, a place outside of my folks' place (I'm in the right age range for a Millennial, but have no interest in acting like one) and closer to where I work. But I have to wait til summer to move.
I also recently went to a Baptist Church. I thought there was a reason I quit going to those as a teen. Really had no choice in the matter since my car's broken down (yet again) and my local church is in town. No, I don't plan on walking 16-20 miles in the snow just to get to town. All the more reason to get excited for the new place! Plus, whenever I get the laptop I'm looking forward to, I can focus on my days off on my craft, honing it, finishing my ideas.
Here's to praying for the best.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Christian Fiction record broken!

Until this month, I've had a preconception about Christian fiction, namely the page count of your average mainstream CBA-approved book. When I would go through any lengthy-looking book, either in a library's Christian section or in a Christian store, I would be disappointed to find none longer than 500 pages.
As a reader of epic stuff, I really enjoy a longer-than-average book. I can enjoy a 3-400 page book well, but I love my stories long, full of sovereign mythos. Unless you go with an omnibus, you wouldn't find a book like that.
Until now.
Jill Williamson will be releasing, on January 31st, a book through CBA giant Bethany House a book that is over 600 pages.
Finally! A decent reading challenge!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Hopes for 2017

Last year was... how do I put it politely? A total travesty! Globally, there was so much violence and illicit trafficking. Nationally, this nation lost all integrity with its choice of leadership (long before election season) and we've become divided over the trivial factor of skin color.
When did we take the anti-enlightened step backward to our dark history of racial segregation?
Personally, I've looked at my last paystub from Little Caesar's, still can't believe how much I wasted. Could've cleared a couple debts, got a new laptop, AND a new pair of glasses (mine are getting scratched and the joints are a little loose). When better to start making personal changes than at the start of the year?
Hopefully, this year, I will have more than just book and film reviews. I'm considering making a YouTube Channel that will be Christian Apologetics with a big focus on literature, linguistics, and culture. Though, frankly, I'll need a team with me on that. Videographers, graphics designers, video editors, etc. I have zero experience in those fields, sadly. Anyone want to join?