Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Star Curiously Singing

It's hard to find good fiction. And by good I mean good. There is a disturbing lack of Christian fiction these days. What happened to the days of Tolkien and Lewis? My preferred genres are fantasy and science-fiction. Good luck trying to find something that is both fantasy/sci-fi and Christian! Oh, wait - I did.

Marcher Lord is a small Christian publishing company specializing in Christian speculative fiction. Recently I read the debut novel from author Kerry Nietz entitled A Star Curiously Singing. When the book arrived I really didn't expect much. Some small publishing company I've never heard of, an author I've never heard of, and Christian sci-fi. What kind of sappy drivel was I going to read? My expectations were, needless to say, low.

The cover was the first thing that hooked me - I know what they say. I knew nothing about the book when I got it, but the cover started to give me an idea. I immediately started browsing through it and started in on the first couple of pages - then I never stopped. I put down Ender's Shadow for this book.

Nietz has done a wonderful job creating a compelling and richly realized new world. Set in a technologically advanced future ruled by sharia law, A Star Curiously Singing sets the mood early on and it is bleak. Slavery, behavior control, a wide division between rich and poor, a strict caste system, and an overbearing sense of hopelessness and apathy. Just what you'd expect in a place ruled by extremists but with robots.

The story is told through some very interesting and different literary devices for this genre. A Star Curiously Singing is told in the first person present. I'll give you a minute to pull out your high school text book. The main character is telling the story as it happens. Not only this but he occasionally speaks directly to the reader. This creates a real sense of urgency and involvement on the part of the reader and it works very well.

Sandfly is a debugger, a person with an implant in his brain that allows him to interact with the nanotechnology of the time and with the stream, something akin to the internet. Debuggers are basically paid slaves of their "abdul" masters. Sandfly is chosen for a task in which he must solve the mystery of what happened to the servbot that accompanied the crew of an experimental deep space flight to a distant star. The robot picked up a transmission and promptly tore itself apart.

Now none of this may sound very Christian and that's exactly what I was thinking as I read it. However, this is the first in a series and at the end of the novel you get the first real sense of the Christianity in this story ("He stoops!"). A Star Curiously Singing is a quick and easy read, yet a compelling and intriguing novel. I look forward to future novels in the Dark Trench Saga as well as other books from Marcher Lord.

I know I haven't said too much about the plot, but that's because I don't want to spoil this deceptively simple novel. I highly recommend it.

Thanks to Karin Beery. Her blog got me a copy of the book and she has an interview with Kerry Nietz.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Leave Your Bats and Follow Me

Yahoo has the story about 23 year old future baseball star, Grant Desme, who quits to follow his calling to be a Catholic priest.

Susan Slusser has more on Desme's decision to leave playing against the Padres and Cardinals so he can start praying with other padres and cardinals at a Catholic seminary in Orange County. He said the news came as bit of a shock to Billy Beane, but that the Oakland GM and entire A's system have been supportive of his decision.

Here's what Desme himself says about it:

"I'm doing well in baseball. But I had to get down to the bottom of things, to what was good in my life, what I wanted to do with my life. Baseball is a good thing, but that felt selfish of me when I felt that God was calling me more. It took awhile to trust that and open up to it and aim full steam toward him ... I love the game, but I'm going to aspire to higher things."

Exactly the kind of role model we need for our kids. In an age where most athletes seem to be striving for mega-paychecks, craving fame, and brandishing handguns in the locker room here's a young man who is instead seeking eternal rewards. Pray for him and all our priests and seminarians and for an increase in vocations among our young people.

Have you encouraged your sons to be priests lately?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Virtual March For Life

For those of us who aren't at the actual march right now:

Join the Virtual March For Life!


Monday, January 18, 2010

Pat Robertson and the Bible

Maybe he should read his Bible before he claims that God sends earthquakes to destroy people.

Jeremiah 31:27-32
The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will seed the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast.
As I once watched over them to uproot and pull down, to destroy, to ruin, and to harm, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the LORD.
In those days they shall no longer say, "The fathers ate unripe grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge,"
but through his own fault only shall anyone die: the teeth of him who eats the unripe grapes shall be set on edge.
The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant and I had to show myself their master, says the LORD.

Thank God for the New and Everlasting Covenant! God won't destroy us or punish us for the sins of our ancestors. Whew!

Please pray for all those affected by the earthquake in Haiti.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Vatican Paper Reviews Avatar

Yahoo Movies has the story of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, review of Avatar.

L'Osservatore said the film "gets bogged down by a spiritualism linked to the worship of nature." Similarly, Vatican Radio said it "cleverly winks at all those pseudo-doctrines that turn ecology into the religion of the millennium."

"Nature is no longer a creation to defend, but a divinity to worship," the radio said.

Pope Benedict XVI has been very outspoken regarding our stewardship of the earth but obviously warns about some kind of neo-paganism. We don't want to go around worshiping it.

In a recent World Day of Peace message, the pontiff warned against any notions that equate human beings with other living things in the name of a "supposedly egalitarian vision." He said such notions "open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man's salvation in nature alone, understood in purely naturalistic terms."

The pope explained in the message that while many experience tranquility and peace when coming into contact with nature, a correct relationship between man and the environment should not lead to "absolutizing nature" or "considering it more important than the human person."

Overall, the review says basically what I've heard a lot: great effects and little substance to the plot and characters. Many conservative bloggers have been speaking about how this movie is thinly veiled criticism of U.S. imperialism, greed, and the Iraq war along with the themes of environmentalism.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Necco Wafers!

The catechists favorite First Communion practice wafer, Necco, is now all natural!

The revamped product is now using red beet juice, purple cabbage, cocoa powder, paprika and turmeric to replace the artificial ingredients that had been flavoring and coloring the wafers for years.

Mmmmm...beet juice and purple cabbage! I am very disappointed that the green wafers didn't make the cut. However, I am intrigued by the wider variety of chocolate flavors (dark, milk, mocha and white).