In his adaptation of the works of Edgar Allen Poe, Tales of Mystery and Imagination, prog-rock artist Alan Parsons employs Orson Wells to read some of Poe’s works. It’s a wonderful synthesis of lyric and melody. Against a dark orchestral background, the album opens with “A Dream Within a Dream,” which includes a reading from an obscure piece by Poe entitled “Marginalia.” In it, Poe describes “a class of fancies of exquisite delicacy which are not thoughts, and to which as yet I have found it absolutely impossible to adapt to language.” Poe often contemplated the chasm between our perceptions and reality, and sought to bridge this chasm between our brute intuitions of “a class of fancies of exquisite delicacy” and language. Nevertheless, adapt[ting them] to language,” he does. “And so I captured this fancy, where all that we see, or seem, is but a dream within a dream.” What’s interesting about this is what Poe saw as the “perfection of rhyme” and the importance that lyrical structure played in the evocation of these heightened states (see Marginalia 147).

Yes, Poe’s musings are often eccentric. However, this idea that sound and rhythm — that music — can evoke words and capture thoughts or emotions that were once ethereal is a near universal truth. Something that most every writer will know.  Perhaps that’s why writing to music is one of those odd, yet oft-discussed subjects among writers. Music can create an atmospheric scaffold to our stories, an ambiance or vibe that draws out words or emotions and propels the imagination forward.

So I thought it would fun to list some of my favorite music soundtracks to write by. Here’s ten, but there’s lots of others.

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Master and Commander, Various artists — The score for Peter Weir’s film is one I come back to over and over. Especially when I want my spirit lifted and a sense of the spray of salt water in my face. I don’t write to much classical music, as you’ll see, but this album is an exception. The original orchestral music is by Iva Davies, Christopher Gordon and Richard Tognetti. However, the album is more of a score by committee and ranges from warlike kettle drums to the soaring beauty of the violin & cello. Perhaps my favorite is the nine-minute piece, Boccherini: String Quintet in C, Op.30 No.6. You can listen to the whimsical tail of that song HERE.

Let Me In, Michael Giacchino  — Giacchino is amazingly versatile, scoring films as different as Dr. Strange, Lost, Rogue One, and The Incredibles. This is my “go to” horror soundtrack, with some genuinely eerie moments. Yet interspersed with the screeching violins and a mounting orchestral dread are some beautiful moments. The film is, after all, a love story between a boy and a “young” female vampire. Giacchino captures both the lonely innocence of the strange couple and the foul nature of hunger which looms between them.  This score is a wonderful blend of horror and sweetness. At Your Disposal is a great example.

Fight Club, The Dust Brothers — If you’ve seen the Fight Club, you know it’s an odd mix of dark humor, violence, sensuality, and gross-out catharsis. The soundtrack manages to capture this cauldron of emotion in a mix of quirky, techno-orchestral fusion. With titles like Medulla Oblongata, Psycho Boy Jack, and Commissioner Castration you’re pretty much guaranteed for a weird ride. For me, the soundtrack conjures a more urban, street smart, even anarchist-like vibe. Check out this snippet from Medulla Oblongota.

The Fountain, Clint Mansell and Kronos Quartet — This is, simply put, one of the most beautiful soundtracks I own. It hearkens unto Schindler’s List with its mournful violin and melancholic ambiance. A perfect compliment to the film which is a surreal contemplation of life, death, and the universe. The composers move from spare instrumental pieces to pulsating drumbeat and swelling orchestral. However, the overall mood of the soundtrack is one of melancholy. The opening piece, The Last Man, will give you a great example of this haunting, beautiful soundtrack.

The Beach, Various Artists — This soundtrack is a bit out of my norm. Like the movie, the tone is that of a mixture of emotions, ranging from upbeat Caribbean sounds, ambient/dance, to some more swelling evocative pieces. It’s comprised of a number of artists — Moby, New Order, Sugar Ray, and others which lends to the eclectic nature of the soundtrack. However, for me, the album mostly conjures an upbeat, feel-good mood. I genuinely get the sense of the nomadic world traveler sprawled on the tropical beach gazing up at the crystal night sky.  Moby’s Porcelain is a good place to start.

Bitches Brew, Miles Davis — No, this isn’t a soundtrack. But it definitely fits the category of soundscape– a jazzy, experimental melange of horn, drum, electric keyboard, and guitar. It was the dawning of the “new” Miles Davis, moving from his classic Kind of Blue jazz to a two-disc Jackson Pollock, an musical abstract of incredible proportions. At times, the songs are discordant and disorienting. At other times,  it’s rock fusion at its best. The album is hugely improvisational and wildly polarizing. Personally, I find it inspirational and bombastic. When I need to an uppercut to the imagination and a time out from real time, Bitches Brew fits the bill. You can stream the entire double album HERE.

The Insider, Lisa Gerrard and Pieter Bourke — Director Michael Mann is known for his stylish films, and this soundtrack is no exception. At first glance, the film’s plot and the music might seem incongruous. The film is about a whistle blower on the tobacco industry. However, listening to a piece like Sacrifice, which features the soaring vocals of an Arabic pray-er, one can quickly see that the soundtrack is aiming for more than just dramatic thrills. It’s passionate and gorgeous music, and a surprisingly good soundtrack that received a well-deserved Golden Globe nomination.

John Wick, Various Artists — This album reminded of another one of my favorite movie soundtracks,  the Matrix. Like that film, this score uses multiple artists and aims for a grungy, electronica-influenced sound. Largely consisting of shorter instrumental pieces, the soundtrack captures a gritty industrial sound (despite containing a nice jazzy lounge number). This is another good album for writing those hardcore urban scenes. Who You Talkin’ To Man? is one of my favorite songs on the album. Here’s the shortened version.

Amadeus, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and Sir Neville Marriner — Another one of my rare straight-up classical choices. Despite some of the operatic interludes, this is a great collection of Mozart’s work. And the movie is fantastic! There is wonderful breadth and passion to Mozart’s music, whether it’s a delightful gaiety or something darkly brooding. By far, my favorite piece is the Requiem in D Minor, which is sure to make my upcoming Best Horror Soundtrack.

Gladiator , Hans Zimmer — This album is a collaboration between a couple of stellar soundtrack artists — Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerard (The Insider). The soundtrack moves between swelling high action and serene, almost prayer-like refrains. Probably why it won the Golden Globe for the Best Original Score. When I need the highs and lows of cinematic inspiration, this is the soundtrack I turn to.  You can stream the entire album HERE.

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There’s lots of other soundtracks I write to. These would probably fall into an Honorable Mention category: Ghosts I-IV, Nine Inch Nails; The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring; The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place, Explosians in the Sky; Orange Mountain Music, Phillip Glass; The Matrix: Various Artists; Les Revenants, Mogwai ; Halo 3, Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori; Edward Scissorhands, Danny Elfman; Kill Bill Vol 1, Various Artists; Oblivion, M83.

I’d love to hear some of your recommendations!

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The end of 2016 left me rather exhausted, but I’m finally getting back into the writing groove. The project I’m most excited about is the third book in my Reagan Moon series. It’s tentatively entitled “The Third Golem.” Here’s a brief synop:

With the help of Ki, the Wayward Guardian, the Summu Nura seek to empower a chaos magician in his quest to create an artificial intelligence which can bridge all dimensions. As the Imperia continue to unravel, Reagan Moon must find the fabled Golem Prison in time to stop the creation of an android demigod who can control the Crossroads of Time.

I’m hoping to have the novel published by year’s end. I’m also gearing up for another possible venture into the non-fiction genre sometime mid-year, and currently weighing topical options. One last thing, I’m developing a short sci-fi / dystopian story about a team of “sciocists” (“sy-o-sists” scientific exorcists) employed by the military to sweep graveyards of “latent energy” who encounter a non-corporeal entity above their pay grade. Hoping to get that published as well. It’s a lot to accomplish in one year, I know. But I’d rather aim high and fail than be successfully average. 🙂

Here’s a few other writing related updates:

Wickers Bog is now available in audiobook. I’ve described Wickers Bog as a “Tale of Southern Gothic Horror.” Technically, it’s considered a novelette — longer than a “short story” (which usually max out at about 7500 words) but shorter than a novella (which start around the 20,000 word range). Wicker Bog falls somewhere in between. Novelist Amy Brock McNew provides the narration, and she does a fantastic job capturing the youthful zeal of my protagonist and the eerie vibe of the haunted swamp and its folklore. You can purchase a copy of Wickers Bog on Audible HERE.

Later this month, I’ll be part of an author panel at Gatsby Books in Long Beach, CA. Joining me will be YA authors Rachel Marks and Merrie Destefano, along with sci-fi / space opera writer Paul Regnier. We’ll be talking about our writing, taking questions from the audience, and signing books. If you’re in the area, please make plans to visit us at Gatsby’s.

This week I’m giving away three autographed paperback copies of “The Ghost Box” at Goodreads. You can enter the Goodreads Giveaway HERE.

Speaking of “The Ghost Box,” I have a few complimentary codes for a free download of the audiobook version of the novel. The story is narrated by Randy Streu who does a great job capturing the snark and humanity of my lovable paranormal PI. If you listen to audiobooks and would like a code for a complimentary download while they last, please Message me on one of my social media sites or email me.

Finally, I’ve been added to the faculty of the upcoming SoCal Christian Writers Conference, which is being held at the beautiful Biola Campus in La Mirada, CA. They’re really compiling a fantastic staff with writers like Rachel Marks, Shannon Dittemore, Patrick Carr, Tosca Lee, and screenwriter Brian Godawa. You can see the list of speakers HERE. I’ll be teaching a workshop on “Writing for the General Market” and be available for individual appointments to discuss anything you’d like. You can find out more about the conference and/or register HERE.

Thanks for reading and being interested in my writing. Have a great week!

 

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In response to a piece I wrote several weeks ago, Can All Myths Be Redeemed?, novelist H.G. Ferguson agrees that “myths can and should be redeemed, but there is a danger here.” Part of that danger, according to Ferguson, is “reproduction, not redemption.” More specifically, reproducing a polytheistic worldview instead of replacing it with a biblical, theistic one. So rather than portraying God as one of many gods, even superior to other gods, the Christian writer should insure that competing and/or inferior gods are non-existent in their fictional tales. In Myths: Redemption, Not Reproduction, H.G. writes:

One thing unifies all pagan mythologies, whether they be Egyptian, Norse, Celtic, Greek, or Slavic (and all of these can be rich sources of story fodder). That one thing is polytheism, many gods, some battling each other, some hopping into bed with each other or taking delights with mortal men and women, ad infinitum et nauseam. Why nauseam? Because polytheism cannot be redeemed and still remain polytheism. A polytheistic story universe does not honor the One who said, “I AM YHWH, AND THERE IS NO OTHER. BESIDES ME THERE IS NO GOD…BEFORE ME THERE WAS NO GOD FORMED, AND THERE WILL BE NONE AFTER ME” (Isaiah 45:5, 43:10).

So if a Christian writer thinks he or she can honor the God Who spoke these Words by creating a universe with many gods in it, even one with a “high god” at the top, and all these beings are called gods and they are indistinguishable from the mythology from which they were drawn, think again. This is reproduction, not redemption. It may sell books and not offend people, but it certainly would offend God. He says so. (Bold mine)

While I’m with the author in believing that polytheism is a flawed worldview and that YHWH is indeed the one true God, I’d like to offer pushback on this notion that fictionalizing a battle between gods is indeed unChristian. On the contrary, I believe that Scripture frames life in terms of a struggle between spiritual powers and that “gods” or godlike entities do indeed vie for our worship and service.

I’m currently reading Michael Heiser’s The Unseen Realm and finding it quite interesting. Heiser’s basic thesis is that God presides over an assembly of divine beings, other elohim. He is the God among gods. While recognizing the existence of other elohim – other gods – Heiser maintains the uniqueness and supremacy of Yahweh.

The verse that was the paradigm-shifting springboard for Heiser was Ps. 82:1 (this quote being from the NIV):

God presides in the great assembly;
    he renders judgment among the “gods”

Heiser notes that in the Hebrew, the word elohim (the word commonly translated as “God”) occurs twice in this verse, first in reference to Jehovah and then in reference other deities. Rather than attempt a detailed summation of the book, let me quote from this review from Benjamin J. Noonan at The Gospel Coalition;

Heiser’s theology of the unseen world is founded on the premise that God presides over a council of lesser divine beings (cf. Ps 82). The members of this “divine council” (pp. 25–27) accomplish God’s purposes in the supernatural realm, therefore functioning as the heavenly counterpart of humanity on earth. Although he refers to these divine beings as “gods” (elohim in Hebrew), Heiser rejects the notion that God is subordinate or co-equal with them in the polytheistic sense and instead contends that “there is no warrant for concluding that plural elohim produces a pantheon of interchangeable deities” (p. 31).

Despite their noble status, some members of the divine council rebelled against God. Heiser argues that Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 describe the self-exaltation of one of the divine council’s members. This lesser divine being—identified by the New Testament as Satan—corrupted Adam and Eve as the serpent. God, in turn, declared war between the offspring of the serpent and humanity (Gen 3:15). This conflict subsequently manifests itself in two key events from the Primeval History that lay the foundation for the rest of the biblical metanarrative.

The first key event is the “sons of God” episode of Genesis 6:1–4. Heiser rejects the idea that the “sons of God” are mere humans and instead argues they are members of the divine council who, like Satan, rebelled against God. Instead, the Nephilim or “giants”—analogous to the apkallu of Mesopotamian tradition—were their semi-divine offspring. Like the fallen divine council members that engendered them, these “giants” posed a serious threat to the reestablishment of God’s Edenic rule.

The second key event is God’s judgment at the Tower of Babel. Heiser interprets Genesis 11:1–9 in light of Deuteronomy 32:8–9 (as preserved in the Septuagint and Dead Sea Scrolls rather than the Masoretic Text), contending that at the Tower of Babel, God chose Israel for himself but disinherited the other nations, placing them under the authority of his divine council. Many of those divine beings, however, became corrupt and led the nations they supervised astray in idolatry. Heiser refers to God’s disinheritance of the nations at the Tower of Babel as the “Deuteronomy 32 Worldview” (pp. 113–15).

It’s a fascinating perspective, isn’t it? In this approach, much of God’s redemptive work is indeed a battle between gods, corrupt spiritual superpowers intent on usurping YHWH’s rule and leading the nations astray. Take for example, the rescue of Israel from the land of Egypt was a battle between gods. In the section Yahweh and the Gods of Egypt, Heiser writes:

Pharaoh was the son of Re. Israel was explicitly called the son of Yahweh in the confrontation with Pharaoh (Exod 4:23; cf. Hos 11:1). Yahweh and his son would defeat the high god of Egypt and his son. God against god, son against son, imager against imager. In that context, the plagues are spiritual warfare. Yahweh will undo the cosmic order, throwing the land into chaos.

Re was the Egyptian god sometimes called Ra, god of the sun. Pharaoh was viewed as a “son of Ra” while Moses was viewed as the “son of YHWH.” The confrontation was more than just a standoff between earthly leaders, but a clash between spiritual powers for cosmic geography. In reality, the Old Testament and even the New Testament are rife with references to other gods, or a plurality of gods (angels or archons, according to the Christian and Gnostic traditions). It’s the basis for which many intercessors and missiologists have concluded that territorial spirits (like the Prince of Persia mentioned by the angel in Daniel 10) do in fact hold sway over large swaths of culture and geography.

Interestingly, this was the exact type of world I framed in my very first novel The Resurrection. It’s also one of the reasons I hedge against Ferguson’s suggestion that “creating a universe with many gods in it, even one with a ‘high god’ at the top” is categorically unbiblical. The thumbnail plot behind The Resurrection is that a bodily resurrection inexplicably occurs in the small coastal town of Stonetree, signaling a clash between YHWH and a bloodthirsty MesoAmerican deity. The antag is Benjamin Keen, a professor of anthropology who is charting the gathering of Pantheons, invisible superpowers, across the globe. In this scene, Keen reveals the spiritual map to his nemesis Pastor Ian Clark, who has himself fallen into the grips of the local “spirit.”

“It’s been years in the making.” Keen stroked his frayed goatee, eyes fixated on the map. “Thus far, we’ve successfully diagrammed our Time Zone: California, Nevada, the Pacific Northwest. It won’t be long before the entire nation is mapped.”

Clark stopped seven to eight feet away, glanced at Keen, then the dappled blueprint. Major metropolitan areas—Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Reno, Portland, Seattle—dotted the map in bold block letters. Below each city was a corresponding name. Abaddon, Moloch, Mammon, Gorgon, Belial, Beelzebub, and then in suburban areas, clusters of titles speckled the map: Succubus, Eligoth, Lilith and Leviathan. Throughout were spherical symbols, slashes, unopened eyes and watery forks. Clark’s mind swooned at the onrushing possibilities.

“The Pantheons. We’ve identified them, named them,” Keen whispered reverently. “And in the naming there is power.”

Clark looked from the map to Keen.

The Professor’s eyes were glazed with ecstatic delight. “They are the Watchers, the Ancient Ones. The Mesos are a drop in the bucket, one unit in a massive invisible army. Stonetree is just the tip of the iceberg, Ian.”

Clark stepped back in blank astonishment, his mind fighting for rational footing.

Keen moved to the map and traced his bony fingers atop it. “This is our mission, my boy— Orbis of Scientia —to prepare their coming, the circle of their knowledge. The warlocks and druids, their petty stone rings and incantations are just a shadow. We have discerned a plan much bigger, powers much greater than any man has conceived. Imagine, a society governed by superior intellects. Your god is just one of millions, a pathetic dying entity on the bottom rung of the evolutionary food chain.”

Of course, I don’t believe that Clark’s god was “just one of millions, a pathetic dying entity on the bottom rung of the evolutionary food chain.” But, like Moses before Pharaoh, Clark was responsible to take back ground that those before him had ceded. Yes.  I received some pushback from reviewers concerning this worldview. Like Ferguson, some viewed the idea of “cosmic geography” and God battling other gods for turf as unbiblical. Nevertheless, this idea seems central to the spiritual struggle framed throughout Scripture. Yes, the Kingdom of Heaven has arrived, Christ is seated above all principalities and powers. However, the war for the souls of men goes on, culminating finally the Last Great War and the judgment of the nations.

All that to say, it’s one thing to portray polytheism — countless gods with equal power — as a viable worldview; it’s another to portray spiritual superpowers vying against YHWH for supremacy, seeking to protect their turf, while binding the souls of the lost in delusion and resisting the advances of the sons and daughters of God. This view, I believe, is very much biblical. Of course, God wins. But it’s the struggle, the casualties, and the enduring hope we have which should be central to our novels.

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Morally ambiguous superheroes are trending. Whether it’s Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, where no one character was unquestionably in the right, Batman v. Superman fighting each other for… I’m not sure, or Deadpool‘s R-rated schizophrenia, contemporary superheroes have apparently transitioned into our age of postmodern relativism.

In ‘Spawn’ Reboot Could Refine Good vs Evil In Superhero Films, this Inverse author observes that moral evolution in another iffy superhero.

[Todd] McFarlane released Spawn #1 in 1992, and it remains one of the highest-selling independent comics of all time. It’s also one of the most famous examples of the over-exaggerated “anti-hero” archetypes from ‘90s comics. But what really allowed Al Simmons — a decorated Special Forces soldier who makes a deal with the devil to “live” past death — to stand above his contemporaries was that Spawn hovered exclusively over the tightrope of right and wrong. At the very least, superheroes are questionably fascist with no authority as vigilantes, and Spawn brought brimstone and hellfire to the debate.

While Spawn was created specifically as an anti-hero, McFarlane appears clear about his intent to push the character into R-rated territory, creating an iteration that “won’t appeal to fans of Captain America.” Yet while the morally ambiguous superhero is not a new thing, the growth of these Gray archetypes’ popularity is worth keeping an eye on.

For one, superheroes used to be a vehicle for modeling morality. A report in this educational newsletter notes that, for young children, superheroes can serve as a moral model for young children, and that “through [superhero] play they can feel brave, fearless, in control of their world, outside of ordinary, and just plain good.” Jeff Greenberg, a social psychology professor at the University of Arizona, noted that “By identifying with the culture’s heroes and superheroes, children can begin to feel like they are aligning with what is good and can develop their own agency, power, and value in the world.” Which is why justice, crime fighting, honesty, and integrity have long been associated with superheroes. Their power was just a vehicle for decency.

The shift to the morally ambiguous superhero should interest us for another reason —  when it’s used as a tool for the postmodern deconstruction of moral absolutism. The anti-hero necessarily blurs the line between good and evil; however, he or she doesn’t eliminate them. But in the hands of a secularist, the contemporary superhero is often intended to reconstruct, not reinforce, our notions of right and wrong. The intent is not simply to NOT be Captain America, but to rewrite (if not trash) his code of ethics.

Yet while some appear to see the morally ambiguous superhero as a reflection of moral relativity, the archetype actually does the opposite. Think about it this way: Gray is a combination of white and black. Without either one of them, there could be no gray (only white or black). Likewise, moral ambiguity can only exist because there is such a thing as Good and Evil to judge them by. Sure, the answer — Is this Good or Evil? — may not be always forthcoming. But it can only ever be asked with the assumption that some things ARE either Good or Evil.

If morals are relative, as many secularists posit, moral ambiguity is rather nonsensical. If neither of us can agree on what is Black or White, how in the world can we ever agree on what is gray? EVERYTHING would be gray! In fact, judging anything would be a pointless endeavor. While many superheroes do function in an area of gray, we shouldn’t confuse this as amorality. Rather, it is our instinctive sense of right and wrong which allows us to even describe an action as morally ambiguous.

Yes, moral ambiguity in storytelling can be helpful. It reveals that decisions and actions aren’t always cut-and-dried. People can be complex, bundles of both good and evil. It also reveals why discernment and judgment are essential to living. Just because someone wears spandex, can spontaneously teleport, and grow another limb does not mean they are good. It simply means that getting past the murky surface is necessary for reaching the Truth. Even then, the search for truth and/or admission of guilt or impure motives is not a surrender to moral indifference.

The morally ambiguous superhero is worth keeping an eye on. Is the archetype a vehicle for teaching discernment and navigating the moral complexity of life, or it a means of subverting our intuitive sense of Right and Wrong?

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Novelist Elijah David asks the right questions in his post at Speculative Faith, C.S. Lewis Redeemed Myths, and So Should We. Using Tumnus the Faun, Lewis sought to “redeem” what was an historically conniving character, and convert it to something less vulgar. “[F]auns in classical mythology were often far nastier than Lewis’ depiction.” Yet Lewis saw past the mythic veneer and twerked the archetype for his own purposes. Writes David in his post:

I think what Lewis accomplishes with Tumnus is… the redemption of a myth. Lewis does this with mythical creatures and legendary figures throughout his writings, but especially in Narnia. Centaurs, fauns, Father Time, and even pagan deities like Bacchus and Silenus, Eros, Venus, and Mars—all of these find new life under Lewis’ pen. The end of Prince Caspian is an excellent example of Lewis’ myth redemption. Here, Bacchus and Silenus lose none of their wildness, yet they are greater than the patrons of orgies and drunkenness from the Greek pantheon. Under Aslan’s reign, they become patrons of joy and celebration at their purest. It is the same with Tumnus. His role as would-be kidnapper is forgiven and forgotten and he is free to become the true friend he was always meant to be.

To many, the idea of redeeming “patrons of orgies and drunkenness” might seem blasphemous. However, for Lewis it was about illuminating those small shards of Light that are inherent in so many of the ancient myths. David sees this as a method worth employing by other Christian authors.

This mythic redemption is a literary working out of Paul’s admonition in 2 Corinthians 10:5 to “take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Normally, this verse is (rightly) applied to self-control in one’s own thoughts and to discourse and debate in which wrong thinking must be corrected and made “captive” to Christ. But when it comes to fiction, it is possible for us to take a different tack on the subject, as Lewis does.

This redemption does not mean that every myth must be sterilized or made impotent. Indeed, removing the power of a myth would make it worse than worthless. And Lewis is far from the only author to take myths beyond their pagan roots and (rather than simply Christianizing them) give them new life under Christ.

This idea of taking myths “beyond their pagan roots” and giving them “new life under Christ” is fraught with danger. Nearly a decade ago (my, how time flies!) I conjectured a similar “redemption with the vampire archetype. In The Good Vampire I wrote,

Much as Tolkien and C.S. Lewis sought to reclaim mythology and unearth the underlying sediment of biblical truth inherent in folklore and fable, perhaps the same could be done with vampire lore. Current notions of the nocturnal nemeses are shaped largely by superstition, gothic literature and pop culture. Therefore, it remains in flux, unmoored, largely freed from factual constraints and rife for further tweaking. But, as Christian authors, do we dare?

The answer given by most mainstream Christian writers and publishers is a resounding no! Apparently, while the fictional redemption of “[c]entaurs, fauns, Father Time, and even pagan deities like Bacchus and Silenus, Eros, Venus, and Mars” appears tolerable, the reclamation of vampires does not.

In his book, God Against the gods: Storytelling, Imagination and Apologetics in the Bible, screenwriter Brian Godawa suggests that employing storytelling to subvert cultural narratives is a powerful tool for culture makers and apologists.

“…subversion of narrative is not a special technique used only by activists and intellectuals. It is the very nature of most storytelling through history. We are all creatures of our times seeking to control the narrative of our times, just as the ancients did. And those who control the cultural narrative control the culture.”

In fact, there are many examples of pagan cultural narratives which biblical figures challenged and upended. Jewish cosmology directly subverted the pagan cosmologies. Babylon, “gateway to the gods,” was crudely renamed Babel. Elijah publicly ridiculed the prophets of Baal. And Jezebel was mocked as the “queen of dung.” And when biblical figures weren’t poking their eye in contemporary narratives, they were flipped them on their heads to serve a larger purpose.

But this idea of flipping cultural narratives and redeeming myths requires getting our hands dirty. David is right to recognize Lewis’ attempt to take “beyond their pagan roots.” Too bad more religious writers don’t employ such an approach. Nevertheless, one wonders whether all myths can be redeemed. Perhaps some cultural narratives, some archetypes, are so tragically flawed as to be un-salvagable. Unlike fauns and other pagan deities, when it comes to vampires, apparently some suggest they remain “unsaved.”

 

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The Physics of Angelology

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In the Book of Daniel chapter 10, the prophet Daniel encounters an angelic superpower who arrives in answer to his prayers. However, the angel says he was “detained” for 21 days and had to be assisted by another angel, Michael, “one of the chief princes” (vs. 13). The reason for needing assistance has to do […]

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Rethinking Christian Geek Culture

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In Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide, author Brett McCracken analyzes a growing sub-culture within the Western Church — Millennial postmodern believers seeking to mesh trendiness with spirituality. McCracken concludes that while aspiring to be culturally relevant, Christians need not compromise Truth for being “cool.” In fact, “coolness” and/or “hipness” exist on a sliding scale. Meshing […]

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Winterland Now Free for Kindle

Winterland: A Dark Fairy Tale is my most personal story, as well as one of my personal favorites. Yes, it’s really bizarre. Which is why I describe in terms of “surreal,” “fairy tale,” and ‘dark fantasy.” However, while Winterland is a journey through a bleak landscape with strange, often disgusting, characters, it is also a journey […]

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Does Biological Evolution Explain Our “Inborn Hunger” for Stories?

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Storytelling is an ancient custom, existing long before recorded history. While the mediums and methods have changed, stories continue to fascinate mankind. It’s a thread that traces as far back as the dawn of human history. Perhaps even more interesting are the thematic elements that humans consistently return to. Mythicist Joseph Campbell gathered these threads […]

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“Wickers Bog: A Tale of Southern Gothic Horror” is Now Available for Kindle!

My novelette, Wickers Bog: A Tale of Southern Gothic Horror, is now available on Kindle for just 99 cents. I’m a huge fan of the craft of short story writing. It’s how I cut my literary teeth. After writing several novels, this year I’d hoped to take a break in order to concoct a tale […]

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5 Ways to Help Your Readers Suspend Disbelief

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Pushing the fictional envelope typically ends when reaching the brick wall of a reader’s credulity. Thing is, reader credulity varies. I have a friend who refuses to watch films like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings because “it’s not real.” He will, however, watch Tom Cruise or Bruce Willis defeat legions of bad guys, infiltrate […]

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The Ghost Box Audiobook Now Available!

Thrilled to announce that The Ghost Box, first book in my urban fantasy, paranoir series, is now available in audiobook. At the production wheel is audio dramatist and podcaster Randy Streu. (You can hear an audio sample of the production HERE.) I’m equally excited about the fact that Randy is currently producing the second in the […]

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