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Avoid Zombie Nouns (Beware Of Nominalisations)

An animated video that accompanies a talk on avoiding nominalisations.

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The Fiftieth Anniversary Of The Death Of C.S. Lewis

Clive Staples Lewis died on November 22, 1963.
Probably best known in popular culture as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia books or The Screwtape Letters, and known amongst Christians for his popular level writings about aspects of Christian theology. A trio of science fiction books for adults are also part of his output.
The reach and impact of his writings is extraordinary because he was not a theologian or cleric, but an intellectual who came to write about the faith he had come into as very much an outsider.
Yet it is the heart that permeates his theological writings which makes them grow in popularity.
That and the fact that he recognised the appeal of expressing truth through narratives.
Some aspects of his theology would be difficult to recognise as evangelical, yet evangelicals embrace his writings.
I think that’s because his earnest and measured writings invite engagement and thought.
Here are some appreciations, if you want to read more.
From Ligonier by Sinclair Ferguson.
From Desiring God.
From The Wardrobe Door.
From The Gospel Coalition. (9 Things You May Not Know About C.S. Lewis)
There are plenty more around, including others that explore the fact that November 22, 1963 is also the date on which John F. Kennedy was assassinated and on which author Aldous Huxley died.

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Andrew Peterson’s The Warden And The Wolf King Kickstarter Project

Apart from being a wonderful musician, Andrew Peterson has also turned his hand to creating young adult fantasy fiction.
The Wingfeather Saga: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness; North! Or Be Eaten; and The Monster in the Hollows is about to see the publication of its fourth and final volume The Warden And The Wolf King.
Peterson has launched an amazing Kickstarter to assist with publication. In only three days he has received commitments of $55,000 which will not only ensure the publication of The Warden And The Wolf King, but an amazing array of bonus materials which were included as stretch goals beyond the initial $14,000 asked for.
For my $100 pledge ($65 plus $35 for shipping), so far I’m receiving signed copies of all four books in the series, newly produced audiobooks of the third and fourth books in the series, hardcovers of books three and four, and, after $10,000 more in pledges yet another book, a companion to the series featuring the creatures of Peterson’s world. All you need is an account with Amazon and the rest is easy.
This is well worth checking out.
Best thing is, the stretch goals are already reached with the rest of the month to go.
I wonder if there’ll be any extra goals added.
And look, I’ve finally figured out how to embed Kickstarter videos on my blog.
So, now you can watch this here and then head over to Kickstarter.

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“When You Try To Make A Story Out Of Persuasion Then You’ve Done Something Wrong To The Story”

Thoughts on the difference between being a Christian who creates and Christian creativity by Jeffrey Overstreet at The Rabbit Room.
It’s helpful you find yourself considering a book, movie or music and wondering ‘Is it Christian?’

Something that has stayed with me is this quote from Katherine Pearson, which Overstreet uses in his essay.

Novelists write out of their deepest selves. Whatever is there in them comes out willy-nilly, and it is not a conscious act on their part. If I were to consciously say, ‘This book shall now be a Christian book,’ then the act would become conscious and not out of myself. It would either be a very peculiar thing to do—like saying, ‘I shall now be humble’ — or it would be simple propaganda…
Propaganda occurs when a writer is directly trying to persuade, and in that sense, propaganda is not bad.. . . But persuasion is not story, and when you try to make a story out of persuasion then you’ve done something wrong to the story. You’ve violated the essence of what a story is.

I think the essence of that quote is that it’s one situation to create a story and then find out it reflects a Christian theme, but something very different to start with a Christian theme and then compose a story communicate it.
They are different activities.
Read Why I Want to Be George R. R. Martin’s Neighbor by Jeffrey Overstreet at The Rabbit Room.

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Happy Thesaurus Day 2013

Black and white print of a Peter Mark Roget po...

Black and white print of a Peter Mark Roget portrait (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Celebrated on January 18, the birthday of Peter Mark Roget, author of the Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases (better known as Roget’s Thesaurus), Thesaurus Day is a celebration of words, their meanings, and the time and care taken to craft writing which avoids monotonous repetition. provides us with the following definition for Thesaurus:
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: dictionary of synonyms and antonyms
Synonyms: glossary, language reference book, lexicon, onomasticon, reference book, sourcebook, storehouse of words, terminology, treasury of words, vocabulary, word list.
Makes me want to use onomasticon in a sentence.

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Cleese And Seinfeld On Creativity

A couple of videos, one featuring John Cleese, the other Jerry Seinfeld, both dealing with creative process.
It is interesting to see the discipline involved in creating works, that when presented, seem chaotic on one hand and casual on the other.
Firstly, Cleese. (Who looks relatively young in this.)
Eric McKiddie has a post in which he makes three suggestions for sermon preparation based on this video.

Secondly Seinfeld.
Remarkable that his work is structured down to the number of syllables.
Steven Altrogge’s observation about this is if Seinfeld can expend such time and craft for a mundane joke, how can sermon writers commit anything less to their work?

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An Excerpt From Mark Buchanan’s Upcoming Novel ‘David’

Mark Buchanan generously provides us with an excerpt from his upcoming novel David.
This section deals with Saul’s daughter, Michal, who would be given to David in a marriage that would end unhappily.
The subject of this excerpt is not David though, but Samuel, the prophet who had a very complicated relationship with her father.
I’m looking forward to this because Buchanan is a wonderful writer, and, as you’ll see he’s not creating extra detail, but using a narrative to bring out understandings gleaned from the biblical text.
This is different from his previous works, and I’m curious as to how it will work out.
I’m on the record as mocking historical fiction based on biblical characters, but I trust this author.

My first remembrance of my father was of his wondrous tallness. Even after I had become a woman, and he was old and worn by his own accumulation of years and misery, he loomed. He was always thin, even when in later years a little sack of stomach, like a smuggled idol, bulged beneath his tunic. But he was never thin in the way some men are, brittle and gangling, ivied with vein, vulnerable to windgust. My father’s thinness was like a judgment against other men’s excess, their indiscipline. His tallness he bore like a vindication.
I recall looking up from the ground upon his great height. Perhaps I was four. Literally, to me, his head was in clouds, swarmed with sky and thunder, defying heaven. Even then he was distracted, fretting at some shadow, something that only he saw or sensed. I loved him the way daughters love fathers, simple and complicated, full of hope and anger. And once in a while he would turn his full attention to me – I was his momentary obsession – and it terrified and exhilarated me altogether, as if one of the hill country’s legendary giants had deigned to make me its personal doll. He would take me in his lap and move his face so close to mine I felt the rasp of his beard on my cheek and could smell him, muttony and sour, though his hands smelled like he’d been forging metal, smoky and oily and acrid. He spoke in a low soothing voice. It had the thinnest edge of menace.
“Do you want to know how I became king?”