Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Susan Meissner's latest



The Shape of Mercy

 My book club's book for this month is THE HERETIC'S DAUGHTER, which is about a modern woman exploring the death of an ancestor who died in the Salem witchcraft trials.  Have you ever noticed that fiction trends come in waves?  A year ago the trend was Tudor  England . . . now it seems to be vampires and Salem witchcraft.  Anyway, my friend Susan Meissner has a new book out that looks great--and it's written from a Christian perspective, which sheds an entirely different light on the matter.  (Actually, how could you effectively tell this story without a Christian perspective?) Furthermore, Susan is a very skilled writer.  Here's the info on her book:  

Susan Meissner’s newest book, The Shape of Mercy, is a blend of contemporary and historical fiction, mystery and romance. Set in present day Santa Barbara and also in colonial America during the Salem Witch Trials, the book follows a young college student as she transcribes the diary of a young woman falsely accused of witchcraft in 1692.

“The story in a nutshell is this,” Susan says. “Lauren Durough is a West Coast English major at the proverbial age of discovery. Sheltered in her growing up years by family wealth, she is just beginning to grasp how people judge other people by what they wantto believe about them, and particularly for her, how the poor view the wealthy. When she opts out of her family’s financial support, she takes on a job as a literary assistant to Abigail Boyles, an 83-year-old reclusive East Coast transplant. Abigail tasks Lauren with transcribing the diary of her ancestor, Mercy Hayworth, hanged for witchcraft in 17th-century Massachusetts. The lives of these two very different women converge as they jointly piece together the life — and death — of a third woman, Mercy Hayworth, who lived three hundred years earlier, and who also struggled against undeserved cultural stigmatization, but lost.”

Susan says the title has dual meaning.  “Those who testified against the accused in Salem in 1692 often claimed their tormentors “took shape” in their bedrooms and tortured them as they slept. My fictional character Mercy was also accused of taking shape and torturing another young girl of the Village. She was innocent of course, as all those accused were, but in her last act before death, she shows that love has a shape. And its shape is mercy.”

 Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review and offered these insights. "Meissner's newest novel is potentially life-changing, the kind of inspirational fiction that prompts readers to call up old friends, lost loves or fallen-away family members to tell them that all is forgiven and that life is too short for holding grudges. Achingly romantic, the novel features the legacy of Mercy Hayworth—a young woman convicted during the Salem witch trials—whose words reach out from the past to forever transform the lives of two present-day women. These book lovers—Abigail Boyles, elderly, bitter and frail, and Lauren “Lars” Durough, wealthy, earnest and young—become unlikely friends, drawn together over the untimely death of Mercy, whose precious diary is all that remains of her too short life. And what a diary! Mercy's words not only beguile but help Abigail and Lars together face life's hardest struggles about where true meaning is found, which dreams are worth chasing and which only lead to emptiness, and why faith and hope are essential on life's difficult path. Meissner's prose is exquisite and she is a stunning storyteller.”

Susan says the concept behind The Shape of Mercy stayed with her long after she finished it. “I know I am often guilty of the same weakness my protagonist had to discover - and admit - about herself. She, like me, like so many, judge better than we love. And we let fear dictate how much love we will extend and to whom we will extend it. Not always, not in every circumstance. But it happens often enough to know I might have easily kept my quivering mouth shut had I lived in Salem in 1692. I might've said nothing when the Village marched to Gallows Hill to watch the accused hang. We tend to fear what we can't comprehend. And we tend to understand only what we want to. There is a shimmering ray of hope, however. And it actually permeated all of 1692 Salem, though it hasn't garnered the same spotlight as the delusions of frightened and empowered people. The innocents who were hanged as witches refused to confess an allegiance to the Devil. Refused to the point of death. I find that remarkable and magnificent. It fills me with hope to consider that while we have the capacity to judge when we should show mercy, we also have the capacity to embrace Truth for all we're worth - even if it means we give up everything for it. It wasn't all darkness and deception in 1692 Salem. There was light there, too. It flickered every time the noose was pulled tight on the throat of one who would not give up on God and everything holy and good.” You can learn more about Susan and her books at www.susanmeissner.com. The book is available at bookstores everywhere and online.

~~Angie 

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hubby blesses the Dogs . . .

Some of you may belong to churches that routinely bless animals around October fourth, the date of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Our church doesn't do that, but my husband has a friend, and his wife owns an upscale pet boutique.  And you already know that I love animals. :-)

Anyway, our friends invited my husband to come to their pet store and bless the animals this past Saturday.  Hubby thought the idea a little unusual, but I told him that St. Francis did it, so why couldn't he?  Plus, what better way to tell people that God loves their animals . . . and them, too.  A lot of people won't mind going to a pet store, but they won't come to a church, and so . . . off he went, down to St. Petersburg. 

Hubby says he prayed over 75 dogs--and their owners.  I'm thrilled.  He did mention, however, that most of the dogs were of the three-pound variety, so I'm thinking that I should have grabbed one of my pups and taken them down there to show those folks what a REAL dog looks--and smells--like.  Hubby also came home with some lovely spray cologne that makes Babe smell like baby powder. It's wonderful.  :-)

Here's a video clip of hubby blessing the animals, Florida style.  Enjoy! 

~~Angie 


video

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Too much time on their hands . . .

  Another fun video that you should let load before you click "play."  From the people who brought you the mentos-and-coke experiments.  :-)  

Where is my pad of sticky notes? 

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Uncle Jay Explains the Banking Problem


I'd never heard of Uncle Jay until my friend Sunni Jeffers sent me to his web page.  And I had never fully grasped the banking crisis until Uncle Jay explained it to me.  Ah, now it makes sense.  And now I'm even more depressed.  When will we learn that throwing money at a problem doesn't solve the problem?  

Anyway, check out Uncle Jay here.  Then you can join me in feeling glum and less dumb.  :-/ 

~~Angie 

Friday, September 26, 2008

Aging before your eyes


Breaking news!  I have just received--and read--the script for the Hallmark movie that will be a sequel to the Note.  It's scheduled to premier on January 31, 2009, starring Genie Francis and Ted McGinley again. 

I love the script.  It made me cry (no surprise), and I think it's going to be a great film.  I was actually glad to see Ted McGinley voted off "Dancing with the Stars" this week because I knew he needed to soon be on set to film this movie!  :-)

On another blog, I found this quote from Ted:  Next, Ted will be filming a Hallmark Channel movie, The Note 2, in Toronto, with actress Genie Francis. “The Note 1 was the highest rated Hallmark movie ever so now we’re doing the sequel. I’m going to start the beginning of November.” 

I'll let you know more details as I hear them . . . 

The following is a fun web site--but I think it's going to be more fun in the next twenty years.  :-)    A man takes daily pictures of himself--for seventeen years so far--and then compresses them into one short video, so you can see him age before your eyes.  To snappy music, no less.  

Note:  the film tends to be jittery, so after it starts, pause it and let the entire thing load before you press the play button again.  Then sit back and watch for formation of a bald spot . . . :-)  

Very creative, very consistent.  But I wouldn't have the nerve to do it!  Watch the transformation here. 

~~Angie 

Thursday, September 25, 2008

If you love your librarian . . .


I saw something in the Sunday NYT that should be of interest to anyone who uses their local library a lot.  The Carnegie corporation of New York and the New York Times gives the "I Love My LIbrarian Award" to librarians at schools, public, college, community college, or university libraries.  (Sorry, no mention of church or synagogue libraries.) 

Here's the info:  up to ten winners will be selected to receive a $5,000 cash award and plaque, and will be honored at a ceremony and reception in New York at The Times Center, hosted by the New York Times, in December. 

Public librarian nominations are open August 15 and must be received by October 1, 2008.  (So hurry!)  

School, college, community college, and university nominations are open September 2 and must be received by October 15, 2008.  

To nominate a librarian, visit http://www.ilovelibraries.org/ilovemylibrarian.  

~~Angie 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Book Recommendation:


Okay, folks, this recommendation is unsolicited--and extremely sincere.  Monday afternoon I finished Charles Martin's latest, WHERE THE RIVER ENDS.  You have to read this book.  It's romantic without being sappy, suspenseful without being melodramatic, about death without being depressing.  Most of all, it's about life and love.  

I met Charles when he was writing for Westbow, but this book is from Doubleday.  I truly hope Charles's work reaches the wide audience it deserves--read this, and you'll see what I mean.  Some have compared him to Nicholas Sparks, but trust me, Charles Martin is better.  

Here's the official blurb:  A powerfully emotional and beautifully written story of heartbreaking loss and undying love 

He was a fishing guide and struggling artist from a south George trailer park. She was the beautiful only child of South Carolina’s most powerful senator. Yet once Doss Michaels and Abigail Grace Coleman met by accident, they each felt they’d found their true soul mate. 

Ten years into their marriage, when Abbie faces a life-threatening illness, Doss battles it with her every step of the way. And when she makes a list of ten things she hopes to accomplish before she loses the fight for good, Doss is there, too, supporting her and making everything possible. Together they steal away in the middle of the night to embark upon a 130-mile trip down the St. Mary’s River—a voyage Doss promised Abbie in the early days of their courtship.

Where the River Ends
 chronicles their love-filled, tragedy-tinged journey and a bond that transcends all.

Angie here again:  I can't say enough good things about this fine book.  If I've convinced you, you can order it here

~~Angie 

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

LOL! Yearbook Yourself





Lissa Halls Johnson told me about this fun web site where you can "yearbook yourself" to see what you might have looked like if pictured in a given year--in a yearbook, of course.  You simply upload a photo and the program does all the rest.  Give it a try--it's worth a giggle.  Here are some of my pictures from 1954, 1974 (which actually looks a LOT like my senior picture!), 1984, and the year 2000.  

Enjoy! 

~~Angie 

Monday, September 22, 2008

Home again!




Just a quick note, because I am still in my jammies and there's work to be done!  :-)  

Didn't get home last night until one a.m., but what a great trip.  When ACFW was done and after I checked out of the hotel, my pals from college, Steve and Tammy Reitenour, picked me up for lunch.  I had reconnected with them and met Tammy's sister, Trish (also an LU graduate), so we went for lunch and talked and talked and talked . . . while Steve kept asking the waitress for updates on the current football game.  :-) 

It's such a great thing to reconnect with Christian friends--it's like you've never been apart; you only need a little time to catch up on events that transpired in between.  We discovered that we had a lot in common (since Steve and I are about the same age), and Steve has become a lawyer who deals with intellectual property law, copyrights, and patents . . . good for a writer to know!  LOL! 

In any case, it was a wonderful afternoon.  I was reading Charles Martin's latest book on the plane home, and the couple next to me was fascinated by my Kindle.  I had to stop and display all its features . . . . Amazon should pay me a commission.  :-) 

Well--a stack of mail is waiting, a few emails still need to be answered, and I'm sure there's a mountain of clothing in the laundry room.  Groan.  And I haven't even begun to unpack my suitcase . . . 

Have a great Monday!  Oh--and one of these pictures is from that Mall of America book signing.  It was wild! 

~~Angie

Sunday, September 21, 2008

ACFW

Hi, everybody: 

The ACFW conference has been lovely--pretty restful for me, actually, as I've only had to speak three times, teach once (with Terri Blackstock), and be "interviewed" once in Jim Bell's class.  Yesterday we had the mass book signing at the Mall of America, and that was a blast--though noisy.  :-)  You had to shout to be heard across the table. 

I met some friends I'd never seen before--Mimi from the Heavenly Daze group, several writer friends I'd only known through e-mail, and several reader friends.  I was delighted to look up and discover Steve and Tammy, two friends from college.  We're having lunch together today before I head to the airport.  

This is a lovely conference.  Last night was the annual awards banquet, and I was thrilled to accept a "Book of the Year" award for my friend Gayle Roper, who won in the short contemporary suspense category.  After accepting the award, I promptly ran out of the meeting and ran to call Gayle.  :-)  

Well, I'd better go splash some water on this sleepy face and get ready to face the final day.  I created a little video montage to go along with my last speech, and I have to be awake enough to know when to advance to the next power point slide! 

Have a blessed Sunday! 

Angie 

Friday, September 19, 2008

The short - but eventful - life of Ike - The Big Picture - Boston.com


Take a look at these amazing photos of Hurricane Ike and the resulting damage.  Sobering, isn't it? 

~~Angie

Thursday, September 18, 2008

In the air again . . .


If it's Thursday, I'm on my way to Minneapolis for the ACFW conference, where I'm the keynote speaker (imagine that!).  I had some fun with this one--put together my first "Keynote" presentations (Keynote is the Mac version of Power Point), and I might have gotten a little carried away.  But it was great fun to go through old pictures and find images that illustrated my points. 

I found today's blog picture in an old scrapbook.  The year was 1977, the first year I saw snow, the month was March, and the occasion was the blizzard that shut down northeastern Colorado.  My fellow singers and I were taken in by a family who lived on a farm when our cars got stuck in the snow--the Woods family.  They took in all fourteen of us and three snow plow drivers, so the 23 of us, total, huddled together for four days with no running water, no electricity, and very little food.  For this Florida girl, it was quite an adventure!  

Anyway, it was a life-altering event in a very unexpected way.  :-)  But you'd have to hear my speech to get all the details. 

I may or may not be blogging for the next couple of days, depending on if I have good internet access.  Will try to send conference updates, so stay tuned! 

~~Angie 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Orson Scott Card

 A couple of news items--first, I've been getting emails asking about the sequel to THE NOTE.  It's coming, and so is the DVD (On Oct. 7th).  You can read details here.  

Kara and Margie--be sure to email me with your addresses so I can get your books in the mail! 

I read a column by Orson Scott Card the other day, and it struck me with the weight of truth. Card is a Mormon novelist--you may have read his now-classic "Ender's Game," which is a brilliant work of art, a blending of science fiction and morality tale.  Anyway, I read this particular column and immediately understood why the vocal political left in this country makes no sense to me. Their philosophies and intellectualism are only an inch-deep. 

I've been reading letters to the editor in my morning newspapers.  People can respond to a calm reporting of Governor Palin's credentials or her history with ranting about how can't afford to have Roe v. Wade overturned and Palin surely wants women who've had abortions to go to prison--and I'm left scratching my head.  Who said anything about prison?  Who said anything about overturning Roe v. Wade?  A president can't do that.  Only the Congress can do that, and last time I checked, the Democrats were the ruling party in Congress.  

Joe Biden is going around saying that McCain "voted with Bush 90 percent of the time."  What?  The President doesn't vote.  If he intends to say that McCain voted for Republican-introduced bills, well, let's see how many times the other candidate voted for those bills, too.  

On the other hand, there's a Republican commercial airing that insinuates that Obama voted for sex education in kindergarten--and doesn't explain the full context.  Why not stick to the full truth?  It speaks for itself. 

I freely admit that there's truth-bending by both sides, and I'm sure it's going to get worse as election day draws closer.  My fervent prayer is that people will use their brains to see through the twisted and illogical  statements.   

Be sure to read that piece by Orson Scott Card.  And read "Ender's Game" if you haven't already.  It's wonderful. 

~~Angie

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Theology by Kids



I found this in my email file and thought it was funny.  :-)  

  Judeo-Christian Theology As Explained By Children


The following are answers given by students from Williamston
  Presbyterian Church, So. Carolina, to test questions on the Bible as
  printed in the 12/31/95 issue of "National Review":
 
  

The first book of the Bible is Guinness’s, in which Adam and Eve were
  created from an apple tree.
 
  

Noah's wife was called Joan of Ark.
 


 Lot's wife was a pillar of salt by day and a ball of fire by night.


 Samson slayed the Philistines with the axe of the apostles.
 


 Unleavened bread is bread made without ingredients.
 
  

Moses went to the top of Mt. Cyanide to get the 10 commandments.
 


 The seventh commandment is "thou shalt not admit adultery."
 


 Joshua led the Hebrews in the battle of Geritol.
 
  

David fought with the Finkelsteins, a race of people who lived in
Biblical times.
 


  Solomon had 300 wives and 700 porcupines.


 Jesus was born because Mary had an immaculate contraption.
 


  The people who followed Jesus was called the 12 decibels.
 


  The epistles were the wives of the apostles.
 
  

One of the opossums was St. Matthew.
 


 Paul preached holy acrimony, which is another name for marriage.
 


  A Christian should have only one wife.  This is called monotony.
  


Enjoy! 


~~Angie 

Monday, September 15, 2008

Whoo-hoo! Book giveaway!


I found a nice surprise in Saturday's mail--several copies of the ARC (advance readers' copy) of the third and final FAIRLAWN, SHE'S IN A BETTER PLACE.  

And so I'd like to give three copies away!  I'm thinking of a number (code: AFNS), and whoever leaves a comment whose "number" matches the one I'm thinking of will get a free copy.  Not only will they get a copy, but the commenters immediately before and after them will get a copy, too!  

American and Canadian entrants only, please.  I'll jump in and announce when the magic number has been reached.  (And I'll need the winners to email me their addresses).  Thanks for playing! 

~~Angie 

Sunday, September 14, 2008

58 Actual Newspaper Headlines

 You may have seen these, but they're worth a repeat. 

A simple reminder of why it's important to have someone review your work before publication . . .
==========================
1. Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
2. Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
3. Safety Experts Say School Bus Passengers Should Be Belted
4. Drunk Gets Nine Months in Violin Case
5. Survivor of Siamese Twins Joins Parents
6. Farmer Bill Dies in House
7. Iraqi Head Seeks Arms
8. Is There a Ring of Debris around Uranus?
9. Stud Tires Out
10. Prostitutes Appeal to Pope
11. Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
12. Soviet Virgin Lands Short of Goal Again
13. British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands
14. Lung Cancer in Women Mushrooms
15. Eye Drops off Shelf
16. Teacher Strikes Idle Kids
17. Reagan Wins on Budget, But More Lies Ahead
18. Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim
19. Shot Off Woman's Leg Helps Nicklaus to 66
20. Enraged Cow Injures Farmer with Ax
21. Plane Too Close to Ground, Crash Probe Told
22. Miners Refuse to Work after Death
23. Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
24. Stolen Painting Found by Tree
25. Two Soviet Ships Collide, One Dies
26. Two Sisters Reunited after 18 Years in Checkout Counter
27. Killer Sentenced to Die for Second Time in 10 Years
28. Never Withhold Herpes Infection from Loved One
29. Drunken Drivers Paid $1000 in `84
30. War Dims Hope for Peace
31. If Strike isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last a While
32. Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
33. Enfields Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
34. Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge
35. Deer Kill 17,000
36. Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
37. Man Struck by Lightning Faces Battery Charge
38. New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
39. Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft
40. Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
41. Chef Throws His Heart into Helping Feed Needy
42. Arson Suspect is Held in Massachusetts Fire
43. British Union Finds Dwarfs in Short Supply
44. Ban On Soliciting Dead in Trotwood
45. Lansing Residents Can Drop Off Trees
46. Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
47. New Vaccine May Contain Rabies
48. Man Minus Ear Waives Hearing
49. Deaf College Opens Doors to Hearing
50. Air Head Fired
51. Steals Clock, Faces Time
52. Prosecutor Releases Probe into Undersheriff
53. Old School Pillars are Replaced by Alumni
54. Bank Drive-in Window Blocked by Board
55. Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors
56. Some Pieces of Rock Hudson Sold at Auction
57. Sex Education Delayed, Teachers Request Training
58. Include your Children when Baking Cookies

~~Angie

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Funny Video . . .


I've spent all week writing speeches for ACFW and putting together a proposal . . . so I've felt a little disconnected.  (I've actually discovered that doing nothing in particular exhausts me a lot more than working hard on a task.)  

Anyway . . . I found this hilarious commercial online.  Here's the setup:  a student pilot arrives for his first flying lesson.  His instructor is late.  

Enjoy the video clip.  Sponsored by an insurance company, of course.  :-)

~~Angie 

Friday, September 12, 2008

What Men Shouldn't Say to their Wives


I don't know who this young man is, but he's got a pretty good handle on marital diplomacy. Wonder if he learned the hard way?  :-)   


~~Angie 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Seventh Year Since



In memory of those lost on 9/11/2001. 

Where were you five years ago this morning? I was at Lori Copeland's house in Missouri, getting ready to fly home to Florida. (We had just finished a Heavenly Daze book). I was watching one of the morning news programs and heard the news with everyone else. I watched, horrified, as the second plane crashed into the second tower, and I almost stepped out into the hall to wake Lori and her husband up. When I heard that the third plane crashed into the Pentagon, I DID step out into the hall and call up the stairs to Lori. "You'd better get up," I said, "I think we're under some kind of attack."

I remember feeling slightly giddy--like it was some crazy cosmic joke or something, but of course it wasn't. Lori and Lance and I watched the TV all morning, disbelieving when we saw the towers come tumbling down. We heard that planes were still in the air and unaccounted for--we had the strange feeling that no one in America was safe; that anyone could step outside and watch a plane come down upon them. I called home and got my husband out of a staff meeting. I called my daughter and told her what little I knew. We suppose we all had an urge to reach out and touch our loved ones however we could.

Now, of course, we know the entire and awful truth. And as tragic as that day was for America, it could have been so much worse. Those towers are usually filled with tens of thousands of people, but they weren't. We experienced terrible loss, but we also experienced mercy.

It took me three days to get home; I finally ended up riding across the country on a Greyhound bus . . . and that's another story. But I am praying today for all those who lost loved ones on this day seven years ago. This anniversary has to be painful for them.

Where were you on September 11, 2001?

~~Angie

PW gives THE FACE a starred review


I am stunned. 

Publisher's Weekly is THE industry trade magazine, read mostly by booksellers, but their reviews are used by Amazon.com and other online book outlets.  It's often difficult to get a PW review, and their reviewers, being avid readers, do not write "puff pieces."  


THE FACE, which releases in November, just received a starred review in PW.  I have NEVER received a star before, and at this moment I feel like I've just been handed a Pulitzer or something.  :-)  Somebody pinch me.   


God is good.  


Here's the review, if you're interested: 

The Face Angela Hunt. Mira, $6.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7783-2727-1

Compelling characterization is the driving force behind this enthralling story of hope. Born without facial features due to Treacher Collins syndrome, declared legally dead and signed over to a secret CIA program as an infant, 20-year-old Sarah Sims has spent her entire life hidden from the mainstream world. Her only distractions are her work as a computer espionage expert and a steady diet of classic movies until her aunt, Renee, discovers Sarah is still alive, providing her first chance to explore a life outside her physical and emotional seclusion. Hunt (The Elevator) fuels the completely engrossing story with dual present-tense narration by the two women. Readers are drawn into their lives, sharing their joy and fear as they approach a fulfilling and surprising climax. A touch of suspense adds to the powerful themes of second chances and new beginnings. (Nov.)


~~Angie 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Country Music


My husband makes fun of me for liking country music.  But when the industry puts out songs like this one, how can you not want to stand up and cheer?  

I really don't listen to the radio unless I'm in the car, and that's not very often.  But the other day I was driving to the mall and this song came on . . . and I started crying so hard I almost had to pull over.  (And there's not even a dog in the song!)  

No, I'm not wild about twangs and wailing steel guitars, but I don't think any musical style celebrates the fun of life or the virtues of honest living better than country.  

Next time you're out in the car, if you haven't checked out your country station, give it a listen.  :-)

P.S.  If you get CTN, the Christian Television network, and the show "Homekeepers," I *think* I'm on the show that airs today.  (Mom?  Aunt Irene?)  

~~Angie 

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

God and Politics


I am very excited by the presidential campaign.  Though conversations can be hot and frustrating at times, I'm not worried about the outcome. Because I know that God works in the affairs of men and God's choice--whether it's "my" man or not--will be the winner. 

Consider Isaiah 45:1-13--and know that Cyrus was a PAGAN king who did not know the Lord. 

1This is what the Lord says to Cyrus, his anointed one,

whose right hand he will empower.

Before him, mighty kings will be paralyzed with fear.

Their fortress gates will be opened,

never to shut again.

2This is what the Lord says:

“I will go before you, Cyrus,

and level the mountains.

I will smash down gates of bronze

and cut through bars of iron.

3And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—

secret riches.

I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord,

the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.

4“And why have I called you for this work?

Why did I call you by name when you did not know me?

It is for the sake of Jacob my servant,

Israel my chosen one.

5I am the Lord;

there is no other God.

I have equipped you for battle,

though you don’t even know me,

6so all the world from east to west

will know there is no other God.

I am the Lord, and there is no other.

7I create the light and make the darkness.

I send good times and bad times.

I, the Lord, am the one who does these things.

8“Open up, O heavens,

and pour out your righteousness.

Let the earth open wide

so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together.

I, the Lord, created them.

9“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator.

Does a clay pot argue with its maker?

Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying,

‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’

Does the pot exclaim,

‘How clumsy can you be?’

10How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father,

‘Why was I born?’

or if it said to its mother,

‘Why did you make me this way?’ ”

11This is what the Lord says—

the Holy One of Israel and your Creator:

“Do you question what I do for my children?

Do you give me orders about the work of my hands?

12I am the one who made the earth

and created people to live on it.

With my hands I stretched out the heavens.

All the stars are at my command.

13I will raise up Cyrus to fulfill my righteous purpose,

and I will guide his actions.

He will restore my city and free my captive people—

without seeking a reward!

I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!”

 

Isaiah’s message to Israel must have shocked many people—for the first and only time, a Gentile ruler was proclaimed “anointed” by God.  In fact, Isaiah used the same word we find translated “Messiah.” Just as Saul and David had been anointed at God’s command, so Cyrus, king of Persia, would be divinely “anointed” for a holy task: to restore Israel to the Holy Land. He would free the people from Babylonian captivity (at the appointed time; after the seventy years of captivity) and bring judgment upon unbelievers.

History tells us that Cyrus conquered the mighty Babylonians easily--by an ingenious strategy, a Persian contingent diverted the course of the Euphrates River and entered the city on the dry riverbed. Once inside the city, the Persians opened the gates to the main army from the inside. Thinking their city impregnable, the Babylonians were easily overrun. Seventeen days later, Cyrus entered the city in peace as a victorious conqueror, thus bringing an end to the Neo-Babylonian Empire.[1]

Historians may believe the victory belonged to Cyrus or his engineers; God tells us the victory was his doing. God made it easy and God rewarded Cyrus with treasures. Cyrus did not know the true God, but the Almighty aided him as he conquered Lydia and Babylon. Though Cyrus did not worship God, God called him by name and aided him in his conquests, all for two holy purposes: first, to restore Israel, and second, for God to reveal himself to Cyrus and to the world at large. “I am the Lord; there is no other God.” Both of these purposes were accomplished and fulfilled.

This passage has profound application for today. First, it demonstrates that all world events are in God’s hands. Even leaders who do not know or worship the true God are known to him and used by him for his purposes. God is sovereign over all creation, and just as he used Cyrus to accomplish his divine purpose, he can use an ayatollah, a president, or a common citizen to accomplish his holy purposes today. He can protect Israel, his church, and he can reveal himself to the world whenever he chooses.

Second, this passage demonstrates that everything—the things we consider good and the things we consider “evil” or “disastrous”—also come from the hand of God. Verse seven tells us that he is the one who creates light and darkness; who sends good times and bad. He does all things; nothing escapes his notice or his control. John 1: 3 tells us “God created everything through him [Christ], and nothing was created except through him.” Therefore, even the situations we perceive as “evil” are brought about by God to serve his purposes, though we may not understand the reasons behind them.

This “evil” is not moral evil, but the opposite of peace—what we consider disaster or calamity. God does not and cannot sin, but he uses all world events, good and bad, to work his sovereign will.

Third, this passage illustrates the human tendency to argue about God’s sovereign design. Realizing that some of the Jewish people might have wondered why God didn’t raise up a Jewish warrior or king to lead them from captivity, God rhetorically asks, “Does a clay pot ever argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop you are doing it wrong!’”

We clay pots are still prone to argue with our creator. When disaster strikes, we want to blame it on Satan, or global warming, or the opposite political party. We imagine that God must have been sleeping when the disaster occurred. We are happy to allow God to love, but we find it hard to surrender our right to self-governance to the point where we can admit that we are but clay pots in our creator’s hands. We are so intent upon seeing God as loving and life-preserving that we tend to forget that judgment and justice as also his to wield. We forget that his ways are high above our ways.

We can see evidence of this in our lives—we worry about world affairs, when this passage, among other Scriptures, clearly indicates that God is firmly and irrevocably in control. We argue with God and create theodicies where he is equal to evil, helpless to overcome it, or bound by self-limitation to tolerate it for a time. Yet God clearly states that he will do what he pleases, when he pleases, to accomplish his purposes.

Finally, in this passage we find hope for the future. “Open up, O heavens, and pour out your righteousness. Let the earth open wide so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together. I, the Lord, created them” (vs. 8). In verse 17, he continues: “[I] will save the people of Israel with eternal salvation. They will never again be humiliated and disgraced throughout everlasting ages. For the Lord is God, and he created the heavens and earth and put everything in place. He made the world to be lived in, not to be a place of empty chaos.”

One day, in the new heaven and the new earth, the New Jerusalem will be inhabited by the children of Israel and by Gentiles. Salvation and righteousness will grow together, and we will live under the Lord’s eternal messiah, the anointed king Jesus Christ. As Isaiah prophesied, the world will be filled and lived in, without chaos. And we will know that the Lord has done it.

 ~~Angie 


[1]KJV Bible Commentary, 1374 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1994).

Monday, September 08, 2008

Get out the tissues . . .


I grew up with Andy Griffith, and seeing him in this video just makes me weep!  Very sweet, but grab a tissue before you watch it.  

Thanks to Robin Lee Hatcher for the link. 

~~Angie 

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Government Refresher Course


I was never taught this in school--as a matter of fact, I think I was twenty-three before I heard this and the light bulbs went on.   So on the off chance that some of you have never heard it--or haven't thought of it in a while--let me point out the obvious. 

Point #1.  The United States is not a democracy.  It's a democratic republic.  The people elect people who make their decisions in Washington. 

Point #2. Government has nothing it didn't get from you. We give--either actively or passively--Washington everything from money to power. 

Point #3.  Government can GIVE nothing without taking it from someone else.  Government handouts? Tax breaks? All come at someone's expense because of rule #2.  Even privileges--the president's right to travel down the highway in a motorcade--comes at the expense of the drivers who have to sit and wait for him to pass by.  

Point #4.  (Recently overheard in the excellent video series "John Adams"): "The greater a government's responsibility, the greater its authority.   If you ask the government to provide you with an education, health care, elder care, protection, highways, housing . . . you are giving it the right to control what you learn, how you're cared for, how you age, etc.  If you ask everything of your government . . . it will take everything from you. 

Point #5. What does the Declaration of Independence declare? That "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Note that "happiness" is not a right, just the pursuit of it. :-) Also note that these rights are endowed by our CREATOR . God is seen as higher than government. Finally, notice that all men (people) are entitled to Life.  

As this election draws nearer, look at the political parties' platforms and learn to see through the rhetoric--and it's flying thick and fast from both parties.  Know that each campaign promise carries a barbed hook--eventually, it's going to cost you.  The more you ask of government, the more you must give to it.  

And that's it for my government primer.  :-)  And now, to send you on your way with a chuckle, take a look at this. 

~Angie 

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Sometimes You Have to Write . . .


Friday morning I was eating my pop tarts and reading the editorial page of my local paper . . . and nearly lost my appetite. I read an editorial that was so slanted and so inconsistent that I had to go into my office and write a response. 

I know that some of you may not care for politics (I don't either, actually), but there are some very important issues at stake in this election. This election will decide the direction of our country in the next several years, and I can't sit back and remain silent when the values I cherish are threatened. 

All that is necessary for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing . . . right? 

Anyway, here's the letter I wrote: 

Letters to the Editor

Cleveland Plain Dealer/St. Pete Times

Dear Editor:

Connie Schultz’s column, “It’s Palin who played the family card” contained so many slanted statements that I find myself compelled to write. Schultz bemoans the fact that Bristol Palin is pregnant at seventeen “but [her] mother runs for vice president anyway and then sees fit to release a statement about [her] pregnancy to squelch rumors about her own.”

Good grief. Was Schultz present in the room when Sarah Palin decided to release a simple and dignified statement about her daughter’s pregnancy? Could the statement have been made because Palin knew the press would eventually get the news and run roughshod over this young mother with assumptions like Schultz’s? And why does Schultz expect Sarah Palin to remain out of the public eye because her daughter is pregnant? Palin’s not ashamed of her daughter; she’s supporting her. I daresay Schultz only wants Palin to stay home and keep quiet because her views differ from Schultz’s.

Schultz goes on to say that Palin believes “abortion is not an option” and “the question for Palin is just how much prison time a woman should serve if she chooses to abort her rapist’s baby.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong.  In March 1857, in the case of Dred Scott v. Sanford, the United States Supreme Court ruled that all blacks—slaves as well as free--were not and could never be citizens of the United States. As to the Constitution, which declares that all men are created equal, Justice Taney wrote that “it is too clear for dispute, that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration . . . .”

When Lincoln set the slaves free and Americans realized the Supreme Court had it wrong—just as they have refused to recognize that unborn human life is unborn human life--were former slaveholders placed in prison? No.  Talk of prison for women who have had legal abortions is fear-mongering at its worst.

Women who defend the right to life for those who have no voice can do more than remain in the kitchen and bake cookies. They can run state governments. They can stand up to the old boys’ network. And they can represent millions of American women like me. 

Sincerely,

Angela Hunt

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

My book club's book-of-the-month was THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY.  It is one of those books that you just have to tell someone about--it's that good. 

Last year my husband and I took a cruise that called at several European ports--in Spain, France, and on the island of Guernsey, which is one of the "Channel Islands" between England and France.  My husband and I disembarked and spent the day exploring the island, and we learned that Guernsey had been the only bit of British soil actually occupied by the Nazis during World War II.  There's an occupation museum on the island, and as we walked through it, I was horrified to hear of the abuses and shortages the islanders endured.  Heartbreaking.  

In any case, I thought then that Guernsey would be a wonderful setting for a novel--to tell the story of the occupation.  But how to do it?  

I am delighted to say that Mary Ann Shaffer and her niece, Annie Barrows, have written the book, and in a way far more delightful than anything I could think of.  It's an epistolary novel, told in letters and telegrams, and once you get into it, you will be charmed and delighted.  I laughed, I cried, I loved this book.  It's brilliant. 

If you're on Facebook, I put up a photo album with my pictures from Guernsey. They mean a lot more to me now that I've read this book.  

Sadly, I've just learned that Mary Ann Shaffer died in February 2008, just before her book was published.  But it's a wonderful novel, and I highly recommend it.  

~~Angie 

Thursday, September 04, 2008

If you're following the election . . .


2008 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE COMPARISON TALKING POINTS
 
ISSUE
JOHN McCAIN
BARAK OBAMA
Favors new drilling offshore US
Yes
No
Will appoint judges who interpret the law not make it
Yes
No

Served in the US Armed Forces
Yes
No
Amount of time served in the US Senate
22 YEARS
173 DAYS
Will institute a socialized national health care plan
No
Yes
Supports abortion throughout the pregnancy
No
Yes
Would pull troops out of Iraq immediately
No
Yes
Supports gun ownership rights
Yes
No
Supports homosexual marriage
No
Yes
Proposed programs will mean a huge tax increase
No
Yes
Voted against making English the official language
No
Yes
Voted to give Social Security benefits to illegals
No
Yes
CAPITAL GAINS TAX
MCCAIN
0% on home sales up to $500,000 per home (couples). McCain does not propose any change in existing home sales income tax.
OBAMA
28% on profit from ALL home sales. (How does this affect you? If you sell your home and make a profit, you will pay 28% of your gain on taxes. If you are heading toward retirement and would like to down-size your home or move into a retirement community, 28% of the money you make from your home will go to taxes. This proposal will adversely affect the elderly who are counting on the income from their homes as part of their retirement income.)
DIVIDEND TAX
MCCAIN
15% (no change)
OBAMA
39.6% - (How will this affect you? If you have any money invested in stock market, IRA, mutual funds, college funds, life insurance, retirement accounts, or anything that pays or reinvests dividends, you will now be paying nearly 40% of the money earned on taxes if Obama becomes president. The experts predict that 'Higher tax rates on dividends and capital gains would crash the stock market, yet do absolutely nothing to cut the deficit.')
INCOME TAX
MCCAIN 
(no changes)
Single making 30K - tax $4,500
Single making 50K - tax $12,500
Single making 75K - tax $18,750
Married making 60K- tax $9,000
Married making 75K - tax $18,750
Married making 125K - tax $31,250
OBAMA (reversion to pre-Bush tax cuts)
Single making 30K - tax $8,400
Single making 50K - tax $14,000
Single making 75K - tax $23,250
Married making 60K - tax $16,800
Married making 75K - tax $21,000
Married making 125K - tax $38,750
Under Obama, your taxes could almost double!
INHERITANCE TAX
MCCAIN
- 0% (No change, Bush repealed this tax)
OBAMA
Restore the inheritance tax 
Many families have lost businesses, farms, ranches, and homes that have been in their families for generations because they could not afford the inheritance tax. Those willing their assets to loved ones will only lose them to these taxes.
NEW TAXES PROPOSED BY OBAMA
New government taxes proposed on homes that are more than 2400 square feet. New gasoline taxes (as if gas weren't high enough already) New taxes on natural resources consumption (heating gas, water, electricity) New taxes on retirement accounts, and last but not least....New taxes to pay for socialized medicine so we can receive the same level of medical care as other third-world countries!!!