Wednesday, June 29, 2016

If it is religiously controversial, why speak up against the majority?

On Facebook I have taken some controversial stands on religious grounds that are in direct contradiction to the positions of the great majority of Christian tradition and the majority of Christians today.  I do not take such positions lightly and I must admit that I do not hold to my positions with the iron clad certainty of so many of my fellow Christians with whom I am in opposition in these matters.  I am more than aware of previous opinions that I have changed (hopefully for the better), and I have no illusion that there must be matters where I am still not in line with God's thoughts on these same matters.

So why do I proclaim my stances in these matters when perhaps the prudent thing to do would be to keep these closer to the vest?  Or at least should I not wait until the majority of my brothers and sisters join with me to provide some measure of vindication before stepping out in controversy?

As someone who has a deep affinity for good questions, I do see these for the wisdom that they can point to.  To be honest there are issues where I may have leanings where I do keep them close to my vest.  Some of these are areas where I am still struggling to find the wisdom that I need for them.  Some of these are more worked out, but where I believe that it is wiser for me to hold them closer than proclaim them publicly.  

Of course there is a quite a lot where my beliefs coincide greatly with a great many Christian traditions; sometimes for different reasons than most, more often for quite traditional reasons - sometimes both at the same time (I rarely have just one reason for anything I believe).

But why be publicly controversial, when I could chose otherwise?  Because I believe that love and grace demand that I do - and that I do so to proclaim a message of grace for those who need it the most and at the same who also have been on the receiving end of the most scathing judgement that churches can dish out.

It is not lost on me why so many are on other sides than I am.  The great majority of them are doing their best to be faithful to what they believe about God and about scripture.  This is why in my proclamations (which I call my confessions), I have never asked that someone else change their beliefs about these controversial issues.  If someone is persuaded by what I have to say, then that is one thing; but I have no desire to force my perspective upon anyone - even if some of them on the other sides have no reservations about forcing their own perspective upon others.

So why speak up?
1.  Because I believe that the Gospel is good news for all people.  If the gospel we proclaim is good news for some, but not for others; then I believe that it is a lesser word than God's Word.

2.  I believe that church teachings for homosexuals and bisexuals has not been the good news that God has for them.  For many reasons that I don't quite understand, church teachings have also not been good news for transsexuals either.  This "bad news" teachings for LGBT+ has especially become quite loud since same-sex marriage has become legal in the US.

3.  I have spent a LOT of time looking at these matters in a prayerful stance before God and in reliance on the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  I have listened carefully to not just the loudest voices on the various sides of the issues; but to the wisest and most considered voices - especially to those who are counter to my own current positions.  I have looked at all the scriptures that are used in opposition to my current beliefs and treated them with great reverence and care - looking not only at the various English translations, but examining many verses in their original languages with specific care to the most problematic wording (no I don't read these languages, but there are numerous aids with this type of examination).

4.  After all of this I did spend a long time silent about my stances.  I waited patiently and openly for messages from God to turn me in other directions.  I continued listening to the different sides on this with the same care as before - I still do.  I waited long enough that I felt like I could speak with confidence at least in my own confession of these things.

5. Because I felt that I could remain silent no longer.  To be honest, I probably should have spoken out before I did.  In the aftermath of the same-sex marriage ruling from the Supreme Court, I believed that it was time for faithful Christians to let in be known that some Christians are not in condemnation of our LGBT+ brothers and sisters (and roughly half of LGB in the US today identify as Christian), but supportive of them and their rights.

6. Because I believe that the movement towards loving Christian acceptance of our LGBT+ brothers, sisters, and neighbors is - in part at least - a movement of the Holy Spirit within His people.  Historically, I have seen many parallels in history; regarding slavery, civil rights to racial minorities, interracial marriage, the rights of women, and a host of other "progressive" movements.  Not all "progressive" movements may be from the Holy Spirit, but all movements of the Holy Spirit move His people ahead in better loving people who God loves.

7. Because I believe that the wholesale condemnation of our LGBT+ brothers, sisters, and neighbors is a cancer on the church.  The church cannot persecute others - and have no illusion that they have not been persecuted - without it distancing us from God.  If Jesus has commanded us to love our neighbors (defining neighbor rather liberally as in the parable of the Good Samaritan) and to love our enemies; then who can those who follow Jesus not love and still be faithful to His teaching? The more vocal and adamant the church has been in its condemnation of other people, the more I see it moving from the heart of the Holy Spirit.  The success of the church has never been about numbers, but trends in decreased church involvement I believe is an indication that the church is not being the church in the way that the church is called to do so - at least for most of those who have left it.

8. Because I believe that the acceptance and inclusion of our LGBT+ brothers and sisters is a blessing to the church. Even now I  still hear voices from the church that condemn the ordination of women as deacons and ministers.  I have been in a church where women have served in all roles in our church, and I can tell you without any reservation that this has been a source of great blessing to our church and we are not going back.  In the same way I have seen the service of some of my LGBT+ brothers and sisters in the church - some in my own, many in other churches in a variety of traditions.  I see the same faithfulness in them that I see in the rest of us.  I see something in this that I have seen before, and more than once; and every other time I believe it has been from God and it has been a blessing.  I have no reason to believe that this time is any different.

9.  Because other Christians who I admire have come to many of the same (or similar) conclusions that I have about this.  I am not a lone voice crying in the wilderness, but I am part of a growing chorus within the heart of the church.  While I realize that the truth is not about numbers, their parallel journeys have given me some additional degree of confidence.

10.  Because I am willing to place myself up for judgement about this.  I am willing to hear others' condemnation of what I believe about this ... and listen to them ... and still love them ... and be willing to change my mind either partly or wholly.  I do not need to believe everything I do to be accepting and loving of my LGBT+ brothers and sisters.  When I started my journey I was perfectly willing for this to be one of those areas about sin; because I trust in grace, and in Jesus, and in God.  I believe that when we follow God's grace unfettered it transforms us and it whittles away at those things that separate us from Him.  I wish that when we accepted Christ that our sin just vanished away, but just as we see though a glass darkly, our experience is that the light of God's transformation of our life is somehow also filtered from His full effect.  Maybe it just is that on this side of death we simply cannot bear so much direct light.  In Exodus 33, Moses asked God to show His full glory; but God said that no one can look at the face of God and live.  I'm kind of taking God's words on this.  So for now, I'm making do with the light I can see and willing to be examined even harshly by the light within others of my brothers and sisters.

11.  Because I want my children and grandchildren to know my heart and mind about this in years to come.  I realize that I do not know what my ancestors thought about so many things.  I am willing to be a positive example where history proves me true, and a negative example where history proves me wrong.  One day they will face some new challenge and I hope that what they can learn from me, in both regards, will be a help to them when I can't be there for them.

12. Finally, because I am casting my bread across the water in this - and no, I'm not looking for anything to come back to me in this analogy.  If God blesses my words then I trust, that in ways I will never know, it will help someone else.  If God does not bless them, then I hope that they are forgotten, so that they might not be a hindrance to anyone else.  But even where I am wrong, I hope that whoever makes it all the way to these last words will find courage to speak out and if any of my template for this helps then so be it. Amen.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Freedom of Religion

There is no freedom of religion without freedom from religion.  
This is a bold assertion, but let me explain.

There is no freedom to be Baptist if there isn't freedom not to be Catholic.
There is no freedom to be Eastern Orthodox if there isn't freedom not to be Baptist.

There is no freedom to be Jewish if there isn't freedom not to be Christian.
There is no freedom to be Hindu if there isn't freedom not to be Judeo-Christian.

There is no freedom to be Shinto if there isn't freedom not to be Confucianist.
The list goes on ...  you go through all the combinations and you come up with:
There is no freedom of religion without freedom from religion.

For every religious practice that one group would wish to have codified into law, there are devoutly religious people whose beliefs run counter to that, whose rights would be infringed.

But what about things religious people commonly agree upon?
First off, one has to live rather sheltered to think that there is much that fits into that category; but let's pick one and see where that leads ... the Golden Rule.

Why not make the Golden Rule the law of the land?  Practically every religion agrees to at least some version of this. I know a *lot* of atheists who live by this principle.  So religious common ground, right?

First how do you legislate the Golden Rule?  Everyone who treats other people in a manner that they would not want to be treated is breaking the law, can be fined, and can be excluded from any place where they violate this rule. Fine? ... *stamp* ... It's a law.

Now you have a bad day, you are at the grocery store, and you are being rude.  Not super rude, but ruder than you'd like to be treated. There will be psychological tests to determine how well you want to be treated and what your tolerance level for rudeness is.  You are dishing out level 6 rude, but you can only handle level 5 rude.  It's there in the smart phone app that the person who is being offended is accessing. They use the app to report you.  A video of the encounter is uploaded. You are busted and are escorted out.

You appeal, you lose.  Seems you were objectively being level 6.2 rude and they were actually being generous giving you a level 5.0 tolerance level, you are really more of a 4.8 level.  You pay the fine and whatever the appeal cost you in court costs. And you can't go to your favorite grocery store for 6 months ... and you really can't afford to appeal the appeal, but you aren't on very firm legal ground here anyway.  You broke the Golden Rule and you have to face the consequences.

How do you feel about that?  Your grumpy child goes to the playground and gets kicked out for 3 weeks, and you have to pay the fine.  Your spouse gets a little out of hand and now you are the one who has to get all the stuff at the local Super-Mart this month, and you have to pay the fine.  Feel any better about this now?

We all have religious beliefs and practices that we are somewhat hypocritical about from time to time; some practically all the time. Do you want there to be laws against any of those things?  And what if your religious views change? What if you decide to go to another church?  And what if you convert to another religion because of who you marry?  Do you want your legal rights to change with your religious changes? Do you want the rights of your family to change with their religious changes?

Yes there are things that society must legislate, but we step on dangerous ground when we legislate our religion onto other people.  We know that we don't want somebody else's religion that is different from our own being legislated onto us.  We need to be free from their religion to have a true right to our own religion and vice versa. 

There is no freedom of religion without freedom from religion.

Friday, April 18, 2014

.... Because Jesus was crucified

Warning: Religious content (Christian).  Also, I'm writing this on Good Friday but this may not be the Good Friday message for you; it may be better for some on another day ...

I do not persecute people, because Jesus was crucified.
I will not persecute people because Stephen was stoned.
I shall not persecute people because there are martyrs, ancient and recent and future.

There are many messages in the story of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, but on this Good Friday, the actions of those who pressured Pilate into having Jesus put to death for heresy have been in my mind.

It is understandable why these religious leaders did not agree with the message from Jesus. It is understandable that they even considered it heresy. However, rather than address the message, they set out to destroy the man with the message. Any means necessary were justified in their minds.

Heresy against a regional religion was not a crime in the eyes of the Roman authority, so they leveled a charge that was. Not just a crime, but a crime that would be punishable by death. Jesus was, to their telling, a rebel leader whose goal was to rule the same area that the Roman governor they appealed to had authority over. Jesus' crime was one against the governor and the emperor as well.  And the religious leaders all wanted to serve the emperor, even to the point of "reminding" the governor what his job was.  These religious were all just loyal citizens of the government.

Jesus was not because he challenged the message of these religious leaders, and had one of his own. So since Jesus was shaking up the status quo in the local religious community, he had to be a threat to them.  And if Jesus threatened their religious authority, and the way they read the scriptures, then he must be a threat to their whole way of life ... and to the local government ...  and to the governor ... and to the empire ... and to the emperor. We all are aware of the dangers of slippery slopes. Surely the emperor's local governor would see things their way. Yeah, they could punish Jesus; but they had to get rid of him quickly, kill the one with the message, before Jesus' own supporters could voice their objections in the light of day. They had to work through the night and get the death penalty order signed before Jesus slipped from their grasp.

Jesus was persecuted and put to death because of people who felt threatened by his way of life and the message he preached.

I look at this story and the role I am most afraid to find myself is in the seat of the religious authorities. So many Christians over the centuries have put themselves in those same seats and acted much the same. So many times they weren't just the religious authority, but the governmental authority as well (or at least so close to it that their governors required much less persuasion that Pilate did). And not just one man here or there has been killed, but vast numbers have been put to death, even religious wars waged, by those who claim to follow a Jesus who was unjustly put to death in the same manner.

So often we mistake a new (or at least new to us) message of truth (or at at least some truth) that ruffles our feathers and we call it heresy against God himself (God *is* on my side, right?). And then all to often we see ourselves as servants of God, acting in his name; when we accuse, prosecute, convict, sentence, and punish those same people. Even when God tells us that any "payback" that might be justified is not ours to do anything about.

I believe that ideas are to be met with ideas, thoughts with thoughts, faith with faith; not heresy (real or imagined) with violence and malice to the other person. I am pained by how many people, who claim to follow the same Jesus that I try to, will rain down pain and death upon those who just don't agree with them. It's something that I've tried very hard not to be able to understand.

In my church we ordain women, as deacons and ministers. When asked why, the consensus answer seems to be "We ordain women because we baptist girls."  I agree with this, you may not. I'm not one to speak for others, but is is my hope that the confession of others with some similar views to myself might be able to likewise confess:

"We do not persecute people, because Jesus was crucified."

Monday, April 14, 2014

What I believe 1: Mystery ... Is

Warning: Religious content

This is the beginning of a series of posts about what I believe.  In no way do I expect any reader to believe what I do, and especially not as I do.  Rather it is the confession of one man. I hope that occasionally it might touch a spark of truth; too often I fear it will reflect my own fallacies.

I am fifty years old as I write this, I fully expect that I will change some of my views in the years I have left, but this is as good a time to do this as any. I realized that there is no real way for anyone to know what I believe outside my writing it down. I am a Christian, more specifically a moderate Baptist (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship). There are a number of preachers and scholars within my church and wider community of faith whose writings are worthy of study regarding my denomination of choice.  I grew up Southern Baptist (SBC), but we left each other quite a long time ago. I doubt I will be explaining why, but at some point I will probably provide a link into the history of why by those who explain it much better.

While my beliefs are much in line with those in the CBF, there is much latitude within it. Also what many people may think of as what a typical fifty year old Baptist living in the Deep South (Southeastern USA) would think would not accurately characterize who I am and, for that matter, who I have been.

Now to begin this series in earnest.

Mystery is:
Mystery is. Mystery has always been. Mystery will always be (as much as I can foresee at least).

One only has to look at the vast amount of  scientific knowledge that has been amassed during the course of written history to know that there is an incredible amount that was unknown and even unknowable to almost all of our ancestors that is readily available to we who live today.

Yet there are still major and even fundamental questions about the nature of our universe that mankind is still trying to answer. And those are only the questions that we know to ask in only a small subset of the fields of human study. I believe that there is so much more to reality than any of us living on this day will be able to question, much less attempt to explain or even know.

While I love learning and finding answers, to not acknowledge the limitations of human knowledge (and even more limited, what this one man can know), is to not be honest with myself. I don't have any illusions that I am honest with myself in all things, but at least in this I try to be.

Much of what I believe falls into the realm of mystery. I can't know about these things, but I can have faith in them. In this series I will try to explain why I have faith in what I do, but my insight about the difference between faith and knowledge, and between truth and facts shapes much of what I believe. It also shapes what I think and feel, and how I react to beliefs that run counter to my own.

How do I think we should respond to mystery, if it is something that is always there?
I think that there are three responses to mystery. We can ignore it; we can deny it; and we can embrace it.

Ignoring mystery is just that; ignoring it. I means to just not think about it. We ignore a lot of things, in fact it is essential that we do or we'd never get anything done. Likewise we can't think about mystery (the vast divide of that which we cannot know about) all the time, most of the time, or even much of the time. We have stuff to do, people to meet, life to live. However, to ignore mystery all the time is to never try to be honest about the nature of man. We cannot contemplate much about  human existence without acknowledging human limitation, and mystery is at the boundary between what we humans know and what we don't.
Denying mystery is may be the greatest fallacy that Christians and other religious people face. What does it even mean for Christians to deny mystery? It means to take all matters of faith and make proclamations of fact about them (or all that the person thinks are important). That there are answers to all mystery and that we have them. Often it means that anyone who believes other than a certain small group of people do, then they are wrong. They are other. They are a threat. They must be opposed or avoided or ignored, at least in matters if faith. There is no truth in them about matters of faith that differ from our own.

For the sake of brevity, suffice it to say I do not believe in this way. There are good people who do to some degree or  other. However, when I look at the atrocities that have and even now are perpetuated in the name of religion, even my own religion, I see this denying of mystery and the imposition of a narrow set of beliefs on others.

Embracing mystery may be the hardest response that we products of Western Civilization can make. We are comfortable with the truth being laid out before us. We go to school and teachers present the lessons; we take tests and answer the questions with what we are taught. For so many reasons we are more comfortable with facts than mystery. But mystery is essential to our true place in the universe.

When the first man walked upon the Earth, he did not have many answers at all. If who we are meant to be was to know everything, then that man failed. And the woman after him. Their children were no better. Even to this day, what one human can know is only a small fraction of the sum of what all people know. And the sum of what all men know is only a fraction of all that is to be known. Being "right" about everything is beyond us, being right about only a few things is all we can really hope for. If we are judged by how much we are right about things, we would all fall impossibly short.

But we can embrace mystery, and we can try to see truth when it is in front of us, and understand that our truth is not all truth. We can try to live in the light of the truth that we know and that we hope. This is what humans can do. This is what humans do at their best perhaps.

But we can only do that honestly with the knowledge that other people see other truth and may live that truth, but that truth is going to be different because they are in another place as they see the truth they do. These people are no worse than us for falling short in areas where we excel, no more than we are worse for failing were others do not.

There are certain things we can almost all honestly agree on. There are rules that need to be followed for a society to properly function. But there is so much that we will not agree upon.

So I believe that we can differ in our beliefs and still coexist and respect each other. We can look at what others believe without being threatened. If we are willing to follow truth, then seeing another's truth can help us see our own truth more clearly. We may find some of our mistakes and grow from the experience. We may disagree honestly and become more confident in the nuggets of truth we already hold dear; but in the process perhaps we will understand our fellows better.

Embracing mystery is an ideal that even the best adherents will fall short of, but the journey is indeed worthwhile.

The short version of this installment is that as certain as I can be of anything: Mystery is.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My NaNoWriMo 2011 Experience

I'm an official NaNoWriMo winner; as in I wrote 50,000 words by November 30th on an original work that I didn't start before November 1st.

I decided to just write from the beginning and see where it took me. No character sketches, no outline, no notes, not nothing, just one word in front of the other.

What I learned was:

1) I can actually do it, write a longer form story.  I've written short stories, but never anything longer than I could write a first draft of in a day.

2) I actually liked quite a lot of what I wrote.  I enjoyed the dialog between my characters.  I put my super-powered protagonist through several challenges and I enjoyed the way he interacted with his family and friends.  I wrote a bit of romance into the story, and it helped serve the plot as well as the

3) There is a lot that I need to really fix. I really wasn't happy with the last 10,000 words.  I think that what is going to work best is to end the story at my 40,000 word point in the draft and flush some things out.  I should be able to use some of the last 10,000 if I ever write a sequel.  I need to really punch up what I think is going to be the end.  I like the character of the protagonist's daughter, but I left her out of the last half of the book. I think I need to look at what I want that character to do and flush her out more.

4) I can write 4,000 decent 1st draft words in a day.  These are days off of work, but with my typing speed, that's not bad.

So will I do it again next year? I definitely want to.

So what am I going to do with the 1st draft of my novel (more of a novella, I think)?  1) In a week or so, I want to take an edit pass just for grammar and spelling... maybe reword where I've used the same word too close together.  Essentially what I'd call light editing.  When I do, I'd like to take some notes for the next pass.

Since NaNoEdMo (edit for 50 hours) is in March, I'm thinking that will be when I make that pass. I think after pass number 2 it will be ready for beta readers.  Then I'll take an edit pass keeping their comments in mind.

After that, I don't know.  I may self publish it in e-book for the exercise of it.  This will depend on how well it is received.  I may work on one of the two other book ideas I have.  If I can get into a two book a year cycle, that would be great even if I don't do anything serious with them.

If you want to check out my progress over NaNoWriMo, you can go to my NaNoWriMo page.

You can check out some of my first draft samples from my book here.

If the samples aren't enough, you can find the pdf of all 50,000 words here, I'll be updating it as I make changes.

Finally, I have my book in a competition at Curiosity Quill's NaNo-Virtuosos Competition, feel free to read a short sample and comment (negative and positive comments are welcome) here.  You can find all 31 works in the contest here.  You can scroll down to vote.

Thanks so much to everyone who everyone who encouraged me.  It really was a lot of fun.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NaNoWriMo: My Opening

Here is the draft opening two scenes in my NaNoWriMo novel:

Wed Jan 20 9:05PM
Robert Andrews trudged through the cold night, heavy bags in hand, heading toward the parking lot where his equally cold car awaited.  It was game night at his favorite comic book store so he stayed to watch the players for a couple of hours after paying for his books.

Construction near the store meant that the car was even further than usual.  Robert hated parking in the far lot.  The few operating street lights never seemed to actually help one actually see, but rather highlighted the disrepair of the adjoining buildings.

He rested his shopping bags on the ground for a moment to fish the car keys from his coat pocket. But before keys could meet the door lock ….. WHAM! …. Rob found himself on the ground, glasses thrown from his face.  The next breath caused his ribs to complain bitterly.

“What is THIS?” … Rob grabbed his glasses in reflex and turned toward the voice. 

“I SAID, what is THIS?” … A young brute of a man had fists full of crumpled comic books.  The rest of the books were scattered on the icy pavement. 

“How am I supposed to get any money for THIS?”.  Rob thought to himself that he himself had just spent quite a few dollars on the 3 weeks worth of comics lying at the thug’s feet.

The light bespectacled Robert was no challenge for the bigger man to pluck from the ground and heft against an SUV.  Robert’s feet almost dangled as his attacker's eyes burned.

“Gimme all your money!” the thief demanded.

“I’d really rather not” was the meek reply.

“What DID you say?”

“Sorry, I’ll speak up … I’d really rather not.  For that matter, I must insist that you back off.  If you do, then I’ll let you go in peace. Otherwise, I can’t promise anything.” Robert said in a shockingly calm voice.

“....” After a long pause, the brute blinked.  Shock gave way to anger and frustration.

A fist drew back.  The small man grew heavy and feet dropped to the pavement.  Rob’s expression changed to one of defiance.  The mugger just wanted to end it.

Fist met face … and the fist lost.  The big man snatched his hand back in pain.  Obscenities flew.  Robert brushed off and walked calmly toward his attacker.

A fist drew back slightly.  The young man shrunk back involuntary. The punch to the chest stunned and dropped the criminal to the ground.

“Now we are even.  Please, let’s not do this again.”  In the dark, the predator fled his intended prey.

Rob leaned back against his car and rested for a moment ... a cracked rib mended and bruised tissue healed.  Bending down, he picked up the remains of his purchases and got into his car.

Wed Jan 20, 9:45PM

In his small apartment, Robert laid out the comic books on the table. All were damaged, but most were readable.  “Darn it! Why did he have to destroy the new ‘Power Team #1’?  Now I have to avoid the Internet until I can get another copy.” Robert sighed.  He made a short list of the comic books he was going to go back for tomorrow, this time during lunch to avoid another potential altercation.  This was all distraction and Rob knew it.

Robert Andrews walked into the bathroom and stood in front of the mirror for long moments.  A lined face with graying hair looked back at him.  He was just a 50-ish IT guy with a failed marriage, a poor diet, and a daughter he only saw every other weekend.  Why did he have these … powers he couldn’t explain?  Sure they just saved him a load of pain less than an hour before; but he was a peaceful person.  He really didn’t feel good about hitting someone, even in self-defense.  Or was it defending himself, he wondered, if in less than a second he could … he had no words for what he could do ... DID do.  He needed someone to talk to someone.  The whole thing was crazy wasn’t it … or maybe he was.

Regardless he needed to confide in someone.  Perhaps even if he were crazy, it would be better to know that than not, right?   Jason … perhaps Jason could handle it.  His cousin wasn’t just family but a life-long friend.  Tomorrow he’d call Jason and schedule a meeting to talk about … everything.  But now it was time to get some sleep.

Robert unfolded the couch into a semblance of a bed, put a pile with the day’s mail and about a third of the comics beside him.  He didn’t remember falling asleep, just walking up at 3AM with the television playing some infomercial.  He hit the mute button on the remote and rolled back over to sleep for a few more hours.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Sample from Chapter 12

Now that I'm deep into my NaNoWriMo book, there is very little I can post without there being spoilers or without confusion from lack of context. This is some buddy banter between the super-powered protagonist Robert and his cousin Jason. Jason is the first person Robert confides in, and this scene is set at Jason's house out on his family's farm. Enjoy: 

Jason and Robert watched TV while they ate.  Jason had recorded a college football game from earlier in the day and they had both diligently refrained from any news source that might have spoiled it for them.  Jason preferred watching his sports this way, so that he could skip though half-time and commercials.

 Half way into the second quarter the action slowed into a back and forth ground battle.  “So how’s Maggie doing? Did you tell her about your being the hero and all?”

Rob replied, “She’s fine. And I told her over dinner last night.  We went to this Italian restaurant and …”

“So you two went on a date.” Jason interjected.

“Not a ‘date’ date, we were just two friends eating dinner out.” Rob tried to re-direct.

“So the place wasn’t romantic?” Jason probed.

“Well, kind of, but we just needed a place where we could talk privately ….” Robert hoped to divert the interrogation that was sure to come.

“Oh!  A secluded booth in the corner I bet …” Jason was enjoying how this scene was playing out.

“It wasn’t like that! We just didn’t want anyone to overhear …” Robert countered.

“Was it your idea or hers?” Jason pressed.

“Well hers, … I guess” Robert knew this wasn’t helping and there was precious little he could think of in defense.

“Oh, I see.  And what did you two do after dinner?” Jason wanted to know how far the evening went.

“Went home.” Robert hoped to end it at that.

“So you drove to your apartment and she to hers?” Jason knew there was more than Rob wanted to say.

“She wanted to have a couple of drinks so I drove her home in her car.  Later I glided back to retrieve my car.  Then I drove home.” Robert hoped that that would satisfy Jason.

Jason would have none of it. “So she picked out a nice romantic place for you too to eat. Then she had a few drinks and you drove her to her place. So give with the rest of the story.  You know you are going to tell me so drop the coy act.”

Robert sighed and told Jason, “Yes, we had a lovely time talking at the restaurant. And yes, she had more to drink that she would have if she were going to drive herself.  I walked her to her door; she went in, end of story.”

“That might be the end, but I’m thinking that you probably left out some of the middle.  Did she ask you in?  Any good night kiss?  Any …?” Jason pressed until interrupted by Rob.

“She did ask me in, but not for what you might think.  It was late, so I passed on it. …. And I did kiss her …” Jason tried to interrupt at that but Robert continued. “… on the cheek.  It was totally platonic.  Immediately after that she went in and I left.  Beginning, middle, and end of story … done.”

“Did she hesitate for just a small bit before walking into the apartment?” Jason had to ask for just one more detail.

“JASON!  Now stop it!” Robert had already said more than he wanted to.  He did remember a slight pause and a little backward glance as she went inside.

“She likes you.” Jason declared.

“We are friends, so I hope she likes me at least a little.” Robert was exasperated at this point.

“Ask any of your other female friends, they’ll tell you.” Jason said with a sense of authority in such matters.

“I don’t have any other female friends.” Robert retorted.

“So you are just going to have to make due with me.  Trust me, for the next good night kiss, make it on the lips.  Oh and next time she invites you in, say ‘yes’. To tell her ‘no’ twice in a row would just be rude.” Jason remembered something from a magazine that he had to endure when he last waited at the dentist’s office.

“Oh, so now you are an expert in etiquette. You should do a column for the paper.” The barb was a feeble attempt and Robert knew it.

“Alright, let’s just focus on the game. Please?” Robert surrendered.

“Okay, but only because my team is winning.” Jason relented.

As Robert drove home from the farm later that evening, he would have no memory of the rest of the game.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Sample from 11/19/11

Another romantic scene, I think I'm trying for the record of the number of times my characters sleep together without having sex, of any kind.  I wrote a lot of other stuff today, but most of the rest would make no sense out of context, so ... :

Margaret let herself into her apartment to see Robert sleeping on the couch.  She hated to wake him, but she knew that if he didn't want her to he would have gone to his own apartment.

She took a moment to admire how cute he looked to her as he slept.  Then she leaned over to kiss him on the forehead.  “Hey you.” Robert said as he stretched.  “How are you doing?”

“I'm fine.  I slept in this morning, so I was late getting back.  That and I was starving, so I stopped at the first restaurant on the way back.  I never knew fried catfish could taste so good.” Maggie lipped her lip slightly at the memory.

“I know what you mean.  I'm not even sure I ate at all yesterday.  As I finished up my errands this morning, I stopped at a buffet for an early lunch.  I took the 'all you could eat' as a personal challenge. Then I came straight here, I hope you don't mind that I let myself in.” Robert hoped.

“Not at all.  Not every girl has a super-hero boyfriend that can walk through walls when he needs to.  I don't even need to give you a set of keys.” she winked. “By the way, if I ever lock myself out, I'm calling you and saving the locksmith bill.”

“I am at your beck and call, m'lady.” Robert said with a flourish in his tone.

“And don't I know it.” Maggie took her pocket book from around her and snuggled up with her man.  Playful kisses were exchanged,  Robert could have sworn he heard giggles.

“You know, we were on our way back here when we got interrupted Friday night.” Maggie remembered.

“So, were we going to take it to the next level or not?” Robert probed.

“Probably, but we are both way too tired and we don't need to rush things.  It is just truly a joy to be with you.” Maggie kissed him again.

“You, my darling, are turning into a big softy.” Robert teased.

“I can still bring it when I need to, Ghost-boy.  I'm just happy that we are both safe after the other night. That; and for a big geek, you can be pretty sexy sometimes.” Maggie bantered back.

“Like when?” Robert kissed her gently on the lips again.

“Like when you try to help someone. Even someone who tried to fry you with lightning ...” she brushed his lips playfully “ … sort of, kind of, by mistake.” Her lips met his again briefly.

“Any other times?” Robert continued.

“I'm sure there are others, I'm just way too sleepy to recall right now.” Maggie gently poked him on the tip of his nose. “You know, my bed is much more comfy; and it's right over in the next room.”

Robert shifted and lifted the auburn tressed woman in his arms. “I can take a hint.” Robert gently laid her on the bed, pulling back the covers as he did.

Robert lay down beside her and commented “I'm not sure couples sleep together any more and just sleep. I guess my age is showing.”

Maggie pushed him to the side to spoon him. “That's okay, you are my old man, and I like you this way.” She ran her fingers thorough a particularly white part of his hair. “Now go to sleep.”

“Yes, ma'am.” Robert felt himself beginning to drift off even as he spoke.

Maggie listened to the sound of his breathing as she fell asleep herself.

Friday, November 18, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Sample from 11/18/11

My last NaNoWriMo sample was romance. Here is a hint of horror from today. And yes, my novel is a super-hero story.:

Electra was sure that she had killed herself. She scolded her stupidity, while waiting for whatever the afterlife held for her. She lay in the dark, restrained unable to move. What horrors did the demons of hell have for her, she wondered. Perhaps this anticipation was part of their torture.

Suddenly a sliver of light appeared. Just as suddenly, most of that light was blocked as a dark figure approached from where the brightness originated. She could only fear what would happen when it touched her.

She screamed the cry of the damned.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

From My NaNoWriMo Work in Progress - 11/17/11

"You are truly beautiful, you know.” Robert spoke across the table to the striking woman. They sat in the corner booth of an Italian restaurant. The lovely odors of wine and marinara complemented her perfume.

“And you know, one of the best things about dating, is that unlike before; you tell me things like that.” Margaret replied, casually brushing her hair aside with a flirt.

“I've complemented you before.” Robert defended.

“Yeah, but now I know you mean it.” Maggie teased.

“That I do. And is there anything you want to tell me.” Robert fished as he straightened himself in his chair.

“Yes, Robert. You have … the most impeccable taste in women.” Maggie batted her eyes.

“I see this is getting me absolutely nowhere.” Robert sighed.

“I don't know, I find a man who can take a little teasing in good humor to be awfully sexy. That and you have a pretty well developed sense of humor yourself.” Maggie had the slightest purr in her voice at “sexy”.
“Moi? Surely you jest.” Robert said in with a mock air of distinction.

“Oh, it's subtle; but don't think I don't know.” her eyebrow raised slightly.

“There's no sense denying it then; I'm adorable.” Robert grinned.

“I've created a monster. But at least you are my monster.” she broadened her smile in reply.