Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Challenge of Writing About Anything

My favorite radio station is WHYY in Philadelphia, our local public radio station. I am very curious,
and the full roster of local and national programming on WHYY is a natural way of feeding my curiosity. A few weeks back, my curiosity lead to a swift kick in the pants which came while listening to an interview on Fresh Air. I do not remember the name of the person being interviewed. What I do remember is being challenged by his claim that a writer can make a story out of almost anything.

I do enjoy writing, easily getting lost in a river of  words while sitting at the keyboard. As often as possible I sneak off with pen and paper (yes I sometimes write the old fashioned way) just to see what thoughts and dreams come out on the page. True, I often find myself doodling, but the challenge of telling a story is one I am always ready to tackle.

So why don’t I write as often as I’d like? My list of excuses is long. And yes I have to admit they are excuses, not real obstacles. One such excuse is not having anything interesting to write about. This is a throwback to my time as a codependent. Having lost myself in the destructive cycle that comes with living with an alcoholic, I never thought myself good enough to come up with my own stories. Being told I would never make any real money as a writer did not help either, as I took it to mean I was not good enough. Because of codependency, I tend to hide, allowing my dreams to wither on the vine. Writing is all about being on display, something way out of my comfort zone.

I once caught myself telling a story someone else told me about something from their past. Don’t worry, I did not take credit for the story nor did I impose myself upon the plot. I did tell the story with passion which must have seemed odd to the listener, especially considering I was talking about someone they did not know. I figured the story was more interesting than anything I could come up with on my own. And while I enjoyed telling the story, I felt very empty especially when the listener made an off hand comment about a plot detail. It’s hard to come up with answers when your trying to explain something from someone else’s story.

A writer can make his own story out of anything. This is my new challenge. I do enjoy telling a good story. Now I feel challenged to come up with my own material. With anything and everything in front of me in the world, there should be plenty of topics to write about. Having nothing to write about is no longer an excuse, having been scratched off my list. It was a silly excuse, as most of them all of them are. Right now, as I look at a spring rain outside my window, I find myself wondering if I see my next bunch of new stories. In fact I do.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

So, GQ Magazine Says No to the Bible?

GQ Magazine recently printed their list of "21 Books You Don't Have to Read." These are considered
the "Great Books" read by those who are "well read." The magazine's editors offer up alternatives while explaining why the books made the list. I remember a few of these as being ones I was forced to read in high school, like "The Old Man and the Sea." Others I chose to read later, like "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." GQ's alternatives are intriguing and I might check a few of them out. One of the don't have to reads is causing quite a stir among Christians. Some are offended, wondering how the editors of GQ see reading the Bible as a waste of time.

The recommendation to not read the Bible is being challenged as believers rush to defend the scriptures against this apparent attack. Having read the GQ list I think both sides have missed the point. While dismissing the Bible based on their own literary standard the editors at GQ miss the impact this book has on the lives of Christ's followers and even on some who don’t believe. It is via these ancient texts that God offers enlightenment to those who come honestly seeking him. At the same time those who rush to defend the Bible seem to forget that we fight not against flesh and blood, as we are taught in the Bible. As such our goal first and foremost is to reflect the light of salvation into a darkened world. Arguing the literary merits of the Bible will not accomplish this goal.

Those who denounce the Bible as boring and contradictory are not going to change their minds just because we tell them they are wrong. Instead of fighting back we need to use the tools given us by our Father for changing hearts. Only as the work of the Bible becomes evident in our lives will those around us truly see the unique value of scripture. Instead of responding to the opinions of a handful of non-believers, let us live as examples demonstrating why the Bible is still the most important book everyone should read.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

My First Wall Scraper

Are you handy with a hammer or are you all thumbs?

Though I have owned a home for over 18 years I have not taken on very many home improvement projects. This, combined with the fact that my mom did not do well in the area of house upkeep, leaves me in a situation where I have gone back to school. What am I currently learning? I am taking a real life course in how to update a very...very dated home, turning it into something that is both modern and comfortable. My classroom at the moment is our dining room which we hope to split into a dining and sitting area. My first course: learning how to take down wallpaper.

When we first bought the house I freshened up the bedrooms by painting over the old wallpaper. Actually I should say I have painted over where the previous owner painted over the wallpaper. I wanted to do the same in the dining room but water damage from a leaky roof is forcing me to replace the drywall. This is going to leave us with new drywall sitting side by side with old (painted) wallpaper. Not wanting to see the difference in texture between the two I decided it's time to buy a wallpaper scraper.

With two big box hardware stores nearby, I headed into one for my new scraper. I always enjoy buying a new tool and walking around a hardware store is one of life’s great adventures. The only drawback is having to fight the urge to buy something I had not planned on getting. So after gathering a few new ideas I started my search for a wallpaper scraper, which was not where I thought the store would put it. After walking around for several minutes, I finally gave in and let my wife ask for help.

As is often the case, we easily found a sales associate ready and willing to offer advice. So we asked where we could find a wallpaper scraping tool. The associate told us they no longer sell wallpaper. I am not sure why he told me this. I didn't want to put wallpaper up. I wanted to take it down. By the look on his face I could tell he was a bit puzzled as to why anyone would buy a wallpaper scraper. After admitting that he did not know if they carried scrapers, he pointed us to the department a scraper might be in if they did carry them. As it turns out, they did.

While my shopping trip was successful I was left wondering: Why do people so often answer the question that was not asked? While you ponder this, I have a wall to scrape. I will post updates on my progress along with descriptions of my successes and failures as I learn home improvement on the fly. And the next time I need a tool, I suspect I’ll visit one of the local independent hardware stores where I hope to avoid any funny looks or strange answers.