Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas from Owen the Bear


Merry Christmas! Or, to those who don't celebrate Christmas, Happy Holidays! And if you don't celebrate holy days, may you have a wonderful day with family or friends or however you choose to spend today!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Books that arrived in my mailbox yesterday!

I reached into my mailbox yesterday to find three packages of books. I suspected I knew what one of them was, but the other two were initially mysterious!

First was a copy of Andy Crouch's Playing God, a spectacular book about power. Every page of this book has challenging and insightful thoughts, and it's well worth your time. Andy thinks of himself as a reporter, but this book is a work of philosophy that will make you think about power and the exercise of power in a completely different way.

Second was a gift from Tyndale, who published my first two books. They're so nice! They send me gifts and cards all the time. I love Tyndale and all the fine people who work there. They sent me a copy of Take Time to Be Holy, a devotional book built around the thoughts and insights of Samuel Logan Brengle, one of the early leaders in the Salvation Army. I haven't been able to read this one yet, as my four year old promptly tucked it under her arm and walked off with it. Last I saw it she was lying on her stomach on the floor, the book propped open in front of her. I have no idea what she is doing with it since she can only read about four words at this point.


Third was a copy of a new anthology called COFFEE. It's a book of science fiction and fantasy stories, all of which have coffee as a major part of the tale. I have a story in the anthology called "The Cup of Truth." It's about a couple who meet for a drink at a cafe where you can order a coffee that tells you the future of your relationship. I've read four stories in the anthology so far, and I really enjoyed each of them. It's a fun, unique book with excellent authors included in it. If you like tales of wonder or a cup of joe, you'll enjoy this book. You can order it here.

How about you? Any books in your mailbox lately?


The difference between sympathy and empathy (and how to be a better friend)

There's a reason everyone likes bears better than goats. Via Neatorama.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Here's something you can send to people who hate hearing "happy holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."


Owen the bear says, "If you're a Protestant and serious about God, you should only say 'Merry Jesus Happy Time Day' this season."

Merry Christmas! Happy holidays! Peace on earth and good will toward people of good favor.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

I believe pigs can swim

Apparently, there is a herd of wild swine in the Bahamas who have learned they can swim out to tourist boats to get tasty snacks. You can read more about it here.

Caution: If you watch the video with our four year old (as I did) you will likely be pestered the rest of the days to "see the piggies again."
Via Neatorama

Sunday, December 01, 2013

32 author scavenger hunt -- win an ipad mini!

Here you are, on stop 24 of the scavenger hunt for a chance to win an iPad Mini. If you're doing them in order, only nine more to go! And, for my regular readers, you can see an article I wrote on stop 23, right here.

If you'd like to go to the beginning and find all the clues to put you in the running for an iPad mini, you'll want to start here.



Here at the Burning Hearts Revolution, you have the unique privilege of hearing from author DJ Edwardson about his book, Into the Vast. Let's get to it!



What genre do you write in, DJ?

You know, that’s a fair question, but I’m actually not a big proponent of genres. I like to refer to my work as “something in the genre of imagination”. For me, that imaginative element is the aspect I’d like to be known for as a writer, not a particular genre. I realize that for some people that might not be as helpful so I do use the Science Fiction and Fantasy categories when marketing my work just because, broadly speaking, I think that’s how it’s perceived, but I love incorporating both archaic and futuristic elements into my stories and mixing them together so you can expect a little of both in most of what I write.

Tell us a little about your books.

Well, I am currently writing “The Chronotrace Sequence”, a three book series. Book 1 is out now and book 2 should be out before the end of the year. The title of the first book is Into the Vast and it features a lot of advanced technology, but it has a spiritual dimension running through it as well. I’m really happy with how it turned out. I’d point out that there is a glossary in the back for new readers because a lot of people read it and there are all these new technologies and terms and then they get to the end and they’re like, “Oh there was a glossary! That would have helped so much!”

Who are some of the authors who have had the strongest influence on your writing?

I’d say principally the work of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, a couple of Oxford mates whom you might have heard of. And not just their fiction, but they also wrote a few essays which had a huge impact on me, specifically, “On Stories”, by Lewis and, “On Fairy Stories”, by Tolkien. Another influence on my writing came, surprisingly, from an essay written by Bram Stoker. I’m not as much a fan of his work, but, in his essay, “The Censorship of Fiction”, he talks of a writer’s duty to his reading audience not to harm, not to engage in salacious storylines which appeal to man’s baser natures. So I don’t include any language or risqué content in my work. Mostly it’s because of my faith, but I also believe a writer—any writer—owes his readers to write something that would be worth their time, something that focuses on the good, the true, and the beautiful and hopefully leaves them in a better place for having spent time in a story’s world.

What inspires you to write?
Lots of things, actually. My faith, my family, my love of good stories. I actually made a short video about this recently called “fiction as light” and I used light as a metaphor in that to try to say that writing can shine a light in dark places, in hopeless places, and that good stories can be an uplifting, life-changing thing. That’s what I believe, and that’s why I write.

What do you want readers to take away from your book?
I hope they find “Into the Vast” both engaging and thought provoking. I hope they reflect on what it means to just embrace technology blindly the way we have in society today and reflect on what might be the possible outcome of going down that path. At the same time I hope they have a renewed appreciation for things like friendships, family, freedom, things that we can often take for granted. The novel is not meant to be a “light” read or strictly entertaining, though some readers will probably see it that way. My hope is that it would really make people think about some of these things I’ve mentioned.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so what are some examples?
Absolutely. I write on a laptop so I always have access to music and I’ll usually pick one album or sometimes even a single song and just put it on repeat. For instance, I think “Requiem for a Tower” has over 5000 plays on my play count! I always listen to movie soundtracks. Others I’ve used are the soundtracks from “City of Ember”, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, and “Transformers Prime”—the TV show, not the movie. That last one has a surprisingly good score for a TV show and it’s great for writing those, “epic” battle scenes.

What have you learned about yourself through your writing?
Hmm…writing is a lot like marriage and parenting; it’s a joy, but it exposes you in uncomfortable ways. You think you’ve got it sort of together and then you get a critical review, or sales aren’t what you expected, or the feedback and traffic dips on your site or in social media. All these can be incredibly humbling. I’ve also learned that I really need patience when it comes to editing. My natural inclination is just to push push push to get it done, but sometimes it’s okay to let a manuscript breathe a while, to do that time-consuming re-write of the chapter your editor is asking for even though you think the chapter is already pretty good as it is. So yes, I’ve learned a lot about myself through writing and some of it has been hard, but I’m just thankful to be on the journey.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
I think some of the best advice I ever read about writing was from Isaac Asimov. I believe he said something to the effect of, “I only write when I’m inspired…And I make sure that I’m inspired every morning at 9 AM.” Writing is the cure all for everything. No plot ideas? Start free writing. Chapter’s going nowhere? Plow through to the next chapter and fix it later. If you listen to your characters and your words, often the solution will just come out. It’s really hard to explain. It’s a mystery, but that’s how inspiration works—at least for me. My own writing actually becomes the inspiration for itself somehow and I don’t really discover everything that I had inside me unless I just keep pounding that keyboard, letting the ink—virtual or otherwise—flow. So just keep writing.

Thanks to DJ for sharing his thoughts and telling us about his book. You can connect with him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter or check out his website. Now it's about time for you to get your clue. It's about a word long. It's about getting an iPad mini and a whole slew of awesome books. It's: "about."

Now, off you go to the next stop on the tour, and your next clue. Or, if you have them all, head HERE to enter the full mystery phrase and bring your scavenger hunt to a close.

Be sure to come back here for more fun later this week, or head over to Storymen.us to listen to my podcast!

Thanks for coming by and enjoy the tour.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I overheard my four year old singing these words

Our God is awesome God
he prays! from heaven over
wisdom power... uh.... God
God is awesome God

She's pretty cute!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Eavesdropping with Matt Episode 70

Meanwhile, the line looked like this.
Dedicated to the ladies working at my local gas station. One of them was stocking candy bars while the other tried to deal with an increasingly long line of customers, as the third clerk had abandoned her post at the other cash register.

Clerk #1 (looking at the line): Where's your helper?

Clerk #2: Bah. I don't know. Hopefully at a psychologist.

More Eavesdropping with Matt.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

You have to watch this beautiful short film from Google about India, Pakistan and friendship

It's not in English. You can catch the gist without understanding the language, but if you turn on the closed captioning ("CC" button below) and make sure it's on English, you'll get subtitles.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Monday, November 04, 2013

This German rap group lost their instruments on tour, so they made this video. Pretty awesome.

I'm not vouching for the lyrics here, as they are in German and I have no idea what they are saying. Probably something about having lots of money and women, neither of which is in evidence in the video.



Via Neatorama.

Friday, November 01, 2013

A rare serious post about nightmares, life, protecting children and the Mercy Centre in Bangkok, Thailand.

I woke up this morning from a bad dream and couldn't get back to sleep. The dream had to do with a frightening person who wanted to hurt children. I laid in bed for a while, watching the darkness, but I knew it was useless. I was disturbed and thinking about the vulnerability of children... not my own, who are well-cared for and loved by many people. I started thinking about children in the world who are not so fortunate... children whose lives are much worse even than what I saw in my nightmare.

Father Joe sharing his birthday cake
with the kids yesterday.
I came downstairs and checked my email to find a note from Father Joe Maier, a Catholic priest who discovered people who were hurting children in Thailand and decided to do something about it. He started teaching kids in the slums to read so that they would have choices in life, so they would have a chance to do something more than grow up as victims of poverty. Eventually this ministry became the Mercy Centre, an amazing shelter/orphanage/hospice/home in the center of the Klong Toey slums.

I've met Father Joe. Krista and I visited him the last time we were in Thailand. He's a man of God who believes that children deserve an education and a safe place to live and a family who cares about them no matter how poor they are, and no matter what religion their family practices. I was so encouraged by his email this morning that I wanted to share it with you. If you are looking for a ministry that cares for children, widows, orphans and the poor, or if you want to stop sex trafficking, or care for the terminally ill, or increase education in the world, this is an amazing ministry.

Here's a link to the email Father Joe sent out this morning.

I want to tell you a story about our time at the Mercy Centre.

Krista and I got into a cab at our hotel and told the driver where we wanted to go. Into the slums of Klong Toey. He thought we were confused and made the concierge tell him again. He drove us into a neighborhood that is reputed to be one of the worse slums in the world, but I couldn't help thinking that it looked a lot like neighborhoods Krista and I have lived in or visited in Asia plenty of times over the years. When we got to the Mercy Centre, someone ushered us into a high-ceilinged, tiled room packed with children of all ages. We took a seat beside them on the floor, and Father Joe came in wearing street clothes. He put on his vestments in front of the kids, making funny faces and sticking out his tongue while someone helped him pull the robe on over his head. He started performing Mass. Maybe five people in the whole room were Catholic, but Father Joe does Mass regularly. A young woman near us translated what was happening. She explained Mass, and she explained the sermon that Father Joe gave, about not hurting each other, about showing love to each other. He used an example from the kids in the room.

After Mass, I asked our translator about her own story. She smiled and told us that she had come to the Mercy Centre when she was young. Very young. She had come from a bad situation, she was being taken advantage of, and had started at first just coming to school at Mercy, but had later moved in to the orphanage. Eventually, she got accepted to college in the United States. She graduated and then came back to volunteer at the Mercy Centre, her old home. I asked her if it was hard to get into college in the United States and she said, "This is a dream that is available to anyone at Mercy who wants to take it."

I had a nightmare last night and woke up to Father Joe reminding me that there are children in the world who are living a nightmare. They can't wake up and walk downstairs and get on the internet and wait for their nightmares to fade. But because of the love of Jesus, Father Joe and a great deal of other people have come together to build a place that is not just a refuge from nightmares, it is a place where children are given the dream of a better of life and the tools to take that dream and make it part of their waking life.

If you are looking for a place to donate money, you can't do much better than the Mercy Centre. I sent them a gift this morning, as a thank you for reminding me after my nightmare that when someone is hurting children, we need not be afraid. Instead, we step in and help the children. You can donate here, if you would like. I took all the money from a recent short story I sold and used it to pay for a kid's education this year. As a former high school teacher and current missionary I honestly believe that education is one of the greatest ways we can be part of the transformation of the world. All learning leads toward Jesus, who is The Truth.

Last night we gave kids candy for dressing up as monsters and demanding it from us. Let's spend every other day of the year eliminating monsters and protecting kids from them.

Have a great All Saints Day and a wonderful weekend. I'll see you back here on Monday.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Eavesdropping with Matt Episode 69: FIRST CLASS!

Dedicated to the very nice lady who sat next to me on the plane last night.

"Welcome to coach, Mr. Fancy Pillow."
Lady (on the phone): I just switched my first class ticket for a middle seat in Economy so I could get home two hours earlier. Okay. See you tonight.

Lady (to me): Do you know if they bring the hot towels by in this section?

Me: No. No, they do not.

Lady (disappointed): Oh.

Me: There's also no electrical outlet between the seats. And they don't bring any food back here.

Lady: Oh.

Me: There will be a television that will drop out of the ceiling over that man in front of us.

Lady: Well. That's nice. I wonder what movie they will be playing.

More Eavesdropping with Matt.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

This is the animal my 4 year old and I saw on the walk to school today


There was a light fog, and we saw this deer trotting along the road ahead of us. It looked like he was favoring his back right leg.

M was on my shoulders, so we stopped to look and I took this picture. I'm sure we looked like a terrifying two-headed monster and if the deer had a camera he probably would snapped a pic, too.

I said, "We must have scared him."

M: I don't think we scared him. It's probably all the Halloween decorations.

A good point from the four year old.

As we passed by him and headed toward the school he started huffing and trotting toward us. I started to think he might come after us. I figured I could get M into a nearby tree in time if he started to charge. But I really didn't want to fight him, because ever since my antlers fell off I've been afraid to fight deer anymore.

Anyway, I dropped M off at school and came out to find him waiting on the road. As I walked closer, he ran between two houses, jumped the chain link fence between them and disappeared. Yes, he jumped the chain link fence. He's an urban deer, I guess.

This comic in honor of the #strangefire conference made me laugh

The only thing worse than destroying my theology with common sense is when you use the Bible. UGH!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

This was my alarm clock when I was a kid. #starwars #geek

This is the alarm clock I had as a kid. My wife says that using it now is not really an option.

 

 Any suggestions on how to change her mind?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Night of the Living Dead Christian is FREE for the next few days thanks to @tyndalehouse. Tell your friends!

In honor of the second anniversary of Night of the Living Dead Christian, my publisher is giving away the e-book for FREE. Please tell your friends, put it on your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, G+, et cetera, et cetera. Thank you for passing the word along.




Night of the Living Dead Christian

Night of the Living Dead Christian

Price:
 
FREE!

Available:
 
10/20 - 10/26
What does a transformed life actually look like? In his follow-up to the critically acclaimed Imaginary Jesus, Matt Mikalatos tackles this question in an entertaining and thought-provoking way—with MONSTERS!!! While Christians claim to experience…
 READ MORE

Or, if you prefer the comedic stylings of My Imaginary Jesus, it's on sale for LESS THAN TWO BUCKS! Buy it up, people. It's a great time to give it as a gift to your friends and family!




My Imaginary Jesus

My Imaginary Jesus

Price:
 
$1.99

Available:
 
10/20 - 10/26
Matt Mikalatos liked Jesus a lot. In fact, he couldn't believe how much they had in common. They shared the same likes, dislikes, beliefs, and opinions. (Though Jesus did have better hair.) So imagine Matt's astonishment when he finds out that the guy…
 READ MORE

ETA: SWORD OF SIX WORLDS is now $2.99 on Kindle!

"Feels like a modern Narnia." Bookwi.se

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Names do matter to a four year old

My four-year-old (M) has a cold, and yesterday morning I went to give her some medicine.

M: Why is it purple?

Me: It's grape flavor.

M (sips it): Ew. I don't like it.

Me: It's like candy.

M (sips): Oh! Candy. Yum.

She then proceeded to drink it all.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

UFOs I believe in

Earlier this week I got home from speaking at a retreat in Iowa to discover this waiting in my mailbox:

Yes, that's a medieval king being married
to a robot by a tentacled Lovecraftian horror.

It's the anthology Unidentified Funny Objects 2, a collection of hilarious science fiction, fantasy, and horror. I had a story in the first anthology called "Working Stiff" about a down-on-his-luck vampire. I have a story in the second anthology, as well, a sequel called "A Stiff Bargain" in which my down-on-his-luck vampire battles the evil of... PRANK CALLS!

There are a lot of funny stories in here by big names in the speculative fiction community, like Robert Silverberg, Jim Hines, Ken Liu and Mike Resnick. And of course, a tiny little name in the speculative fiction community, Matt Mikalatos.

You can buy UFO 1 and 2 here, direct from the publisher. It's also available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and all the other places where you might like to purchase books. If you'd like to read a review first, there's one here (SPOILER: it's good).

If you like science fiction, fantasy, horror or comedy, check it out!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Top 5 posts of September

Dating Tips from 1946

I'm so sick of people bashing the Millennials

What my kids plan to be for Halloween

Thoughts on Christian Fiction

22 Non-fiction books about Justice

And a bonus from three years ago, and actually the post to get the most hits last month, How to Make A Point Without Being Preachy.

Do kids get reality and imagination confused? My 4 year old's contribution to the debate.

Put them together: MONKEY PANCAKES!
Last week I took my 4 year old, M, to the park to enjoy the last rays of the dying Northwest sun before it disappears forever leaving us in the unending gray of clammy Sister Winter.

I was helping her across the monkey bars, where of course, she was pretending to be a monkey. Every time she fell off I would say, "Oops, you fell in the lava" and take her back to the beginning. After a few tries I guess she got tired of that.

She looked me in the eye and said, "Don't pretend it's lava any more."

"Okay," I said.

She said, "Don't pretend it's water, either."

I said fine. But what should I pretend it is?

"Pretend it's a sidewalk," she said, an exercise I found relatively simple because it was, in fact, a sidewalk.

Later I was telling her to pretend to be a pancake. They do this in swimming class, where she puts her head on her coach's shoulder and spreads her body out flat while floating on her back. "Pretend to be a pancake," I said.

She put her head on my shoulder and said, "Just don't put me on the grill, because then I'll get lots of burns and need some band-aids."

Monday, September 30, 2013

A video in which Millennials apologize for how awful they are

Last week I posted this rant in which I shared how tired I am of people saying how awful Millennials are. But then Clay Morgan sent me this video in which Millennials apologize for being terrible. I thought you might like it.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Speaking at the Texas @epicmovement this weekend! Here's this morning's worship band (with ukelele)

This weekend, A and I flew to Austin, Texas, for me to speak at the Fall Retreat for the Texas Epic Movement.

The Epic Movement is a ministry devoted to bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world through Asian American students and faculty.

And the students here -- there are 200 of them -- are amazing people. They're funny, fun-loving, caring people who are deeply in love with Jesus and one another. It's a great crowd to hang out with. And of course A is having a lot of fun, too. I told her last night that she could stay up hanging out with the college students as late as she wanted, and I have no idea what that translated to for bedtime, because I was sound asleep by the time she came back to the room.

I've been speaking about what it means to be "rooted in God's love" which is the theme for the weekend, coming out of Ephesians 3:16-19:

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (NIV)
Anyway, I speak twice more this weekend, once tonight and then tomorrow morning.

I took a video of the worship band this morning, because I enjoyed this song that they were doing. And because if you're using a ukelele during worship, you have my undivided attention. Enjoy:

Here's your Saturday morning funny cat video.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A talk with @mattleeanderson about his new book and how to ask questions well

This week you can check out a question and answer time with Matthew Lee Anderson, who just wrote a book about the difference between questions and doubt, what questions are appropriate for Christians, and much more. It makes interviewers feel awkward when someone is sitting there, judging your questions as you ask them. It's a great conversation. I think you'll enjoy it.

You can also join the giveaway to win a copy of Anderson's The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith.

Some of the recent StoryMen podcasts you might have missed include author John Otte, comic writer and teacher Christy Blanch,  author Jeff Goins, Leanne Shirtliffe, Ally Vesterfelt and Lorie Langdon and several episodes where JR., Clay and I discuss everything from liturgy to our favorite historical moments that we wish were movies. You can find all those at the link as well.

Have a great weekend!



Thursday, September 26, 2013

Dating tips from 1946

Watch this documentary about prom in 1946. You'll be glad that you did.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Thoughts on "Christian Fiction"

Yesterday I shared a moment when two booksellers at a major bookstore talked about Christian fiction, and one told the other that Wendell Berry didn't count as Christian fiction because "everything he writes is excellent."

As the sole criterion, this doesn't seem a fair way to determine the status of which books are Christian fiction and which are not. In fact, I'm certain that this is shorthand used by the bookstore employee to say something different, something that has to less to do with "Christian fiction" than it appears.

If you start listing the authors who are Christian but are considered "mainstream" it's a pretty interesting list: Wendell Berry, Marilynne Robinson, Flannery O'Connor, Victor Hugo, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Graham Greene and Leif Enger would all be on this list. All of these authors have overt Christian themes in their books, with Christian characters (including priests, pastors and so on). They are all exceptional writers, so it could be that their work has "transcended" the title of Christian fiction.

And then the Lord God smote Borders
for shelving the Bible in the "fiction" section.
I think it's something else, though. It's not only that the writing is excellent. I don't think what the bookseller was saying was that Christian fiction is all terrible, but rather that "Christian fiction" as a genre has nothing to say to her.

We see this in other genres defined by status, identity or affinity group. Women's fiction is not for men. "Asian-american fiction" is about the Asian-American experience and isn't "universal." Pretty much any time someone attaches an adjective to the term "fiction" that is not directly related to genre, what they're saying is, "This book is for someone other than me." Or, in the best case scenario, it can be used within that community to say "here are books about us and the things that matter to us."

All that to say, when people outside the Christian community call something "Christian fiction" what they mean is, this book is not about my life. It doesn't intersect with my needs, concerns or life. That's tragic, because the deepest idea of the good news about Jesus should be that it has something to say to every human being on earth.

Now, for some people that's going to be okay. There are Christian authors whose primary audience is and will continue to be only Christians. But it seems to me that at least some of our work should be of central value to the lives of those outside the Christian community.

So, what do you think? What examples would you give of "Christian fiction" that would be good for people who aren't Christians? What are some ideas of what fiction by Christians should involve/include/be about to be of use and interest on a universal rather than narrow scale?


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I'm so sick of people bashing the Millennials/Generation Y. 6 reminders for X and the Boomers.

It seems like it's about once a week that some ill-advised article makes the rounds, assuring Generation X and the Baby Boomers that they are superior to the Millenials/Generation Y crowd. Maybe we've forgotten what people said about our generations. Baby Boomers have an excuse, I guess, since they're getting to that age.

Here are a few reminders that Boomers and X are more like Y than we want to admit:

1. Generation Y believes "they can do anything." Unlike Generation X, who only thought we could do ALMOST anything.

2. Generation Y is entitled and lazy. I have this vague memory of being told the same thing about my generation. Wait for the money quote in that Newsweek article:

"We have a generation (or at least part of a generation) whose every need has been catered to since birth. Now, when they finally face adulthood, they expect the gift-giving to continue. I'm 28 and I'll never own a house, whines the Generation Xer. I'm 25 and I don't have a high-paying job, says another."

3. At least the Baby Boomers were dependable. They weren't slackers.

4. Generation Y won't move out of their parent's houses. In Generation X it was only the men who were staying at mom and dad's.

5. UGH. I'm so tired of all the Gen Y kids building their lives around social media. And if there is one thing none of us can stand it's all the Gen Yers taking "selfies" of themselves all the time and putting them on social media. GROW UP.

6. EVEN THE FACT THAT GEN Y IS CALLED THE "ME GENERATION" IS SELFISH OF THEM as this video demonstrates:



Bullying leads to bullying, that's what I think. The Boomers picked on X, calling us the crybabies (in the Washington Post? Come on, people, how about some professionalism?). Now X and the Boomers are teamed up to whine and complain about Y. Which is no surprise since the Boomers have been whining about Generation X being whiners since before we were born.

For all you Millenials/Gen Yers out there, take heart. There eventually came a day when the Boomers acknowledged that all their complaining about our complaining was unfair. They admitted that we weren't slackers. They realized that just because we got things done differently, it didn't mean it wasn't getting done. And they admitted all that in Time Magazine (in your face, Washington Post).

And guess what? After that WE TOOK OVER. Generation Y, your time is coming. It's already started. Sure, you're being called lazy narcissists, but the same articles are now saying you're going to save us all. 

It's your world, Generation Y. Show us what you can do.

Eavesdropping with Matt Episode Sixty-Eight ("That's not a Christian book!")

Dedicated to the fine staff at Powell's Books, who were sorting through the books I was selling, trying to decide which ones to purchase. They pulled aside for this whispered conversation.

Staff (to his manager): I know we don't buy much Christian fiction. But what about Christian fiction audio books?

Manager (looking at the audio books): These are not Christian fiction.

Staff: They're not?

Manager: This is Wendell Berry. Everything he writes is excellent. That's not Christian fiction.

Ouch. That hurts. More thoughts on this tomorrow. In the meantime, you can read more Eavesdropping With Matt. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Some thoughts on eyeballs and parties from my 4 year old

M: Daddy, if my eyeballs fell out, and there was a party, I would still go to the party.

Me: Oh yeah?

M: Yes. And all the people would say, ew, your eyeballs fell out, get out of this party!

Me: And what would you do?

M: I'm not going to leave a party just because my eyeballs fell out. I would just stay at the party.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What my kids plan to be for Halloween

At breakfast yesterday my kids volunteered what they want to be for Halloween this year.

10 year old: I'm going to be a Minion!

12 year old: I'm going to be a vampire!

4 year old: I just want to be with you!

Awwwwwwwwww!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Twenty-two non-fiction Books about Justice

Last week I asked for recommendations on books about justice. I'm speaking at a conference this spring where that will be the theme and I feel like I need more study on the topic.

Here are the suggestions that people sent in. I thought you'd find them of interest:

Walter Shaffer suggests:

Ministries of Mercy by Tim Keller
City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre
Bloodlines by John Piper
Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns

Kelsey Kasner added Everyday Justice by Julie Clawson, which examines "the daily choices we make, many of which have truly global impact."

Friend and author David Jacobsen suggested Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma and D.R. Jacobsen. That's right! He suggested the book he co-wrote! Don't worry, I've only heard good things about this book. It's time for me to get it.

CJ Martin suggested The Good News About Injustice by Gary Haugen. Then she revealed that she knew a bunch of books about Christian lawyers and their role in justice, including Redeeming Law by Michael Schutt, The Lawyer's Calling by Joseph Allegretti (her favorite), The Counselor at Law by Robert Cochran and Can A Good Christian be a Good Lawyer edited by Thomas Baker and Timothy Floyd. Lawyered!

Jason Joyner told us to check out The Just Church by Jim Martin.

Abby Ritter mentioned Let Justice Roll Down by John M. Perkins.

Angie Hufford suggested:

Generous Justice by Tim Keller
Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma (and David Jacobsen! A second rec for that one!)
Orphan Justice by Johnny Carr

JR. Forasteros eventually sent me some recommendations when I harassed him via text message. He suggested I check out Justification by N.T. Wright and Miroslav Volf's Free of Charge. Mostly because he has a big brain.

Two more books I stumbled across that I'm thinking about are The Prophets by Abraham J. Heschel and, of course, Strength to Love by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Lastly, two excellent suggestions from Robert J. Wilson and Chip Downs:

JUSTICE

and

Justice League

So. What do you think? Any more suggestions? Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Friday, September 06, 2013

I finally found it. The first novel by one of my favorite authors!

Every writer has a pantheon of Favorite Super Writers. For me, it's people like Flannery O'Connor and John Steinbeck. They're writers who I look at and think, "I could never write as well as them." Every time I read one of their stories or novels I learn something. I can read and re-read their books over and over. I've read East of Eden probably ten times. I've read some of O'Connor's short stories twenty or thirty times.

Once I find one of these writers, I read everything of theirs I can find. Their stories, novels, essays, interviews, everything.

Gene Wolfe is one of those writers for me. He's amazing. I don't always understand what's happening in his books, but I always love them, and I can't wait for every new book of his coming out. I've found all of his old stuff, read it all. Except for one book. I've never been able to find his first novel, Operation Ares.


But this week I found a copy! I was buying my kids a couple books at Powell's and I dropped by and there it was. Three bucks!

I'm pretty excited, not least because many people agree that it's one of Wolfe's least accomplished novels. Which means there's this slight chance that I might read it and think, "I could beat that."

I'll keep you updated.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

School's starting again! Pics of my kids on the first day of school.

Z and A are back in school as of today.

Z is off to seventh grade, believe it or not, and A is in fifth!

Here they are:




I can't believe it. These are two great kids and I'm really proud of them.

M's preschool doesn't start until next week. It's possible we might get a picture, if she's feeling generous that morning.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Armies of the Crimson Hawk status: Chapter one is done! More details at the link.

I know a lot of you are excited about the sequel to The Sword of Six Worlds, and I just started writing it. Our young heroes are already in hot water, and we're only at the end of chapter one. My ten year old previewed the chapter last night and she wanted you to know that it's great and me to know to hurry up and what's going to happen.

Anyway, I'll keep you updated on the progress as we go along so you can see how close we are:



3179 / 40000 words. 8% done!

Here's a little teaser of what's to come:

The Armies of the Crimson Hawk.  There are six worlds which the paladin, Validus Smith, is responsible to defend with the Sword of Six Worlds.  Now one of those worlds has cut off all communication and is trying to destroy the passageways from their world to ours. Validus and the Stone Mage, Alex Shields, are sent to investigate.  Validus and Alex discover a new enemy so terrifying and powerful that to destroy him seems impossible.  Until they get an offer to make an alliance with The Blight….

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Trailer for the new Muppets movie!

I'm pretty excited about this. I will even forgive Scooter's use of the "Moves Like Jagger" song. What say you?

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

A quick preview of my next book

My friend, pastor JR. Forasteros, has been doing a read-through of my next book to make sure that I am not saying anything heretical. Part of the book involves re-imagining stories about Jesus to help them make (emotional) sense to a modern-day audience. He asked if he could use an adaptation of a parable I had written in his sermon this week and I said "of course" so here it is. It's a great sermon, you would be wise to listen to the whole thing. If you only have a few minutes and want to listen to just my bit, it starts at about the 11 minute mark.

There have been other little previews along the way, including:

A Trip to the Zoo
The Old Woman Who Almost Loses It
Frank Chases His Dreams in Hollywood
The Lost Son
You can hear some of my own talks coming out of the content from the book, as well, here. (ETA: uh oh. Looks like those talks were taken down. Never mind!)

I'm really excited about this book, which will come from Baker Books next year. We're working hard to figure out the best title right now. I'll let you know what it is as soon as I know!


Monday, August 05, 2013

My 4 year old shares some thoughts on racism

My four year old, M, got the Little People Disney Princesses you see on the left for her birthday.

She immediately said that she did not like the one on the right because she's "ugly."

Concerned, my wife and I both told her multiple times, no, she's really pretty. You should still play with her. She was adamant. She would not be playing with that particular toy.

I decided to get to the bottom of it.

Me: Why do you think she's ugly?

M: Because of her color. She's ugly.

Me: But we have lots of friends who look like that.

M: I don't think so.

Me: What don't you like about her color? Why don't you like it?

M: I don't like green. I don't like green dresses.

Me: Oh.