All organizing …

All organizing is science fiction. What does a world without poverty look like? What does a world without prisons look like? What does a world with everyone having enough food and clothing look like? We don’t know. It’s science fiction, and it is as foreign to us as the Klingon homeworld (which is called Q’onos in case you were wondering). But being able to envision it and imagine it means we can begin seeing the steps it would take to move us there.

– Walidah Imarisha, Growing Octavia’s Brood: The Science Fiction Social Justice Created (via nomadmanifesto)

Yay Tumblr…this is definitely why/how I read Sci-Fi/Fantasy as a hopeful act

Ozma of Oz, Eon/Eona, Song of the Lionness and coming out of the closet

Spoiler alert: if you haven’t read “The Wonderful Land of Oz,” I’m about to ruin it for you….

I think “The Wonderful Land of Oz” is the first cross gendered story I ever read..True I had read other tales of girls dressing as boys to escape whatever…but Ozma is the only “truly” transgendered character I can think of….She simply changes from a boy to a girl–turns out she’s been a girl all along. Kind of like the book “Boy Meets Boy” its almost too blase about the acceptance…but hey,  I like to think this is how it will be in a perfect world!

PS its the total feminine empowerment story, every power-player is female!

The 14 'canonical' Oz books, by L. Frank Baum

“Eon/Eona” does the girl disguise thing plus a legit transgendered character who is lovely, as does “Song of the Lioness”, Robin McKinley’s Spindle’s End hints at other kinds of love, even though sexuality isn’t really the point. of course Malinda Lo does a great (no-cross-dressing needed) out and out lesbian fairy tale. (PS want a great history of sexuality? Check out “Coming Out Under Fire” an amazing history of gay and lesbian sexuality)

All this makes me think about all those transgendered people are under enchantment, they don’t look like who they are supposed to be….

on the other hand, most fantasy is about that (I’m part fairy, I’m dating a vampire, I have superpowers, I’m really a girl in disguise, I’m a prince/princess turned into a frog)

Being a fantasy nerd, I often feel frustrated with who I present to the world and who I really am

Its difficult on so many levels..

I’m a pastor, fantasy-loving, mother. I am not right-wing, or conservative, but I’m not an atheist either. I had children young and am a professional career woman. I am creative, cheerful, optimistic and yet strong, a leader and am super-responsible.

I’m hard to stereotype.

So I read fantasy, I read it because I know that I am not limited to what other think Christianity is (THANK GOD), but at the same time I think that my Christianity defines my entire being. I read fantasy, put my family first and dress the way  I want to because I am Christian. Being Christian isn’t a guideline for me, it is the very fiber of my being and I continue to find more and more ways to live fully into it…..

If I’m in disguise, and I think all of this is a part of being Christian, what parts of Christianity are being unexplored when we are exclusive. What do gay men and lesbian women experience in Christianity that I miss out on? How about single parents, immigrants and the transgendered?

Fantasy is not about escapism, for me its about the facts of life

1. the world is full of a multitude of unique and interesting beings

2. we have to learn to get along

3. there is a battle between hatred/greed/powerseekers and love–good and evil do both exist…..

4. Even when humanity is failing, hope exists, heroes emerge, and love wins

5. Everyone has a call: a unique part to play in this ongoing quest for hope and love, and it doesn’t matter who we are, because the call is perfect for each and every one of us (only fantasy literature seems to do a good job of defining call!)

Living into this is hard, but this is my reality, and for me fantasy is another way to understand real life and the Bible….

Gotta love the irony of that…I’m sure God gave me an appreciation of wry humor so I can straddle all of that..

So some day fully believe I’ll come out of the closet…….and find Narnia

HA!

Book Review: “Dead Ever After” by Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse Series)

In honor of this being the last book in the series, I did what I always do with good series, I reread the entire series before starting on the final book…(I’m a rereader)

(Note, trying to avoid spoilers)

The ending is good–there is still a lot of mystery-type-plot…a lot of loose ends are tied up and there is a definite progression of characters (esp. Sookie Stackhouse). Here is the deal though, I don’t think of books individually (esp if they are about the same character)…they are just HUGE chapters to the ongoing story.

As my husband says, the ending is key…because it reflects on the WHOLE (not because it is an important piece)..see I do book reviews like I do my theology (w)holistically,

ps wholistically should totally have a w on it, it helps the meaning…

Anyway…Here is what I think what makes the Sookie Stackhouse series so good.

1. It explains why so many deaths happen in a dinky little town…my mom says she likes mysteries but after a while its hard to buy that so many murders are happening in the middle of nowhere, vampires, werewolves and shapshifters help

2. It struggles with the questions of humanity (what does it mean to be human? Why am I here?) through the contrast and comparison with the supernatural

3. It deals with Bigotry–big time… it deals with real and perceived differences, prejudices and how even other groups can be bigots (homophobic shapeshifters anyone?)

4. It shows growth…again I know I said this, but the only way you can sustain an ongoing series is to have the characters grow–now Sookie Stackhouse sleeps around a little too much for my taste, but I think that she is sleeping around because she is searching for some self-definition, and in the end, she has learned a lot, not just about guys but relationships, friendships and herself. There is a little bit of obsessing about looks, manners, appearances etc. but I think that is the reality of Sookie’s life (some of it being the culture of a small town, etc)…and she doesn’t frustrate me too much with these hang ups….

I recommend as a fantasy and mystery fan and as a feminist

Series List

Better Off Dead, Living Dead in Dallas, Club Dead, Dead to the World, Dead as a Doornail, Definitely Dead, All Together Dead, From Dead to Worse, Dead and one, Dead in the Family, Dead Reckoning, Deadlocked, Dead Ever After

Another Vampire Review Here

Theology of Vampire Here

(PS I did watch the first couple of seasons of True Blood, but it was a little too drug obsessed for my taste, not to say that it wasn’t good the focus just seemed to be different…………..)

General Service Announcement

General Service Announcement

“This is a general service Announcements reminding everybody that the best treatment for dementors is CHOCOLATE…in light of the sad events in Boston, in my professional and pastoral opinion I recommend CHOCOLATE for everybody” (Should you be someone who is unable to do chocolate, Cookies may be substituted). Chocolate may not fix our sadness, but it reminds us of the good that does exist in the world and encourages to act out of love not fear.

PS Check out today’s Lectionary Reading from the Bible–remember the opposite of love is not hate but fear, hate grows out of fear
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.”
1st John

Love Joss Whedon

Love Joss Whedon

(in other words, what’s with your obsession with females with swords..oh wait it might not be an obsession…it might just be awesome writing!)

Star Trek and Dr. Who

Having written about Parables and Fairy Tales and the importance they play in defining the universality of the human condition for every particular human–and hence why they are awesome. I feel you are ready for the truth.

Star Trek and Dr. Who are Parables

Not only are they like most science fiction which discusses how the human race will interact with and respond to technological changes in the future (which is a little different than fantasy which explores humanity-exactly-as-it-is-except-there-happens-to-be-magic)…but these are characters whose stories are literally written and re-written from different perspective…

I mean at the end of Season 6 (yes I’m on netflix so I’m behind a season) when time has stopped, a villain offhandedly remarks that Rory is “the one who won’t die” which is so true, (WARNING: SPOILERS, Skip to next paragraph if you care) because Amy and Rory go through 5 different versions of reality to that date, and the timestream so that he is alive again.

Anyway, Dr. Who has similar scenarios played out over and over again with different versions of the main characters–the Doctor and his companion, (or more recently companions). Even building its own mythology (Daleks, MetalMen, Weeping Angels–to encounter again, and again). The goal is the same, humanity is the same, in lots of cases the situations are the same (there is a storyline I call the Space Movie storyline, where everyone dies from something they shouldn’t have touched in the middle of space–this one gets used a lot for the obvious reason that Dr. Who is a first and foremost a Space Adventure).

But we keep watching it, because these are the stories worth repeating again and again!

Similarly, Star Trek has a crew of People stuck wherever they are (usually not at a Space Station) trying to reach home. They have encounters with similar types of beings (Kling-Ons, Vulcans, Robots, and random encounters with unknown species including the ever-lovable Tribbles.) As the characters encounter “the other” they learn to define humanity or even better “lifeforms” in a broader perspective….Even though its filled with tropes like the redshirts 🙂

Each story is a piece of the human experience, and each series can retell a similar plotline with its own set of characters to give us slightly different perspectives. What is maybe the best part is that both series unashamedly state that they are looking into the human condition–there is always a character in Star Trek who is exploring what it means to be human (Data, Seven of Nine, Odo) and Dr. Who is constantly observing and remarking (happy crying, how wonderfully human of you) about it. Thus through the eyes of the other, and the reactions of different characters to different situations allows us to learn more about ourselves!

Thus the tellings,

and the retellings

and the Fun!

That’s why we like Dr. Who, and Star Trek, and Parables, and Fairy Tales

Book Review: Written in Red by Anne Bishop

If you like stories about fragile females, who actually end up being not so fragile, with willing males to simulatenously take care of them even as they serve them, then Anne Bishop is your feminist.

The plotline is basically the same as her other 3 series (Black Jewels<–first and favorite, Belladonna and Bridge of Dreams<–not really a fan of this one).

Despite the plotline and characters getting to be (more than) predictable, Anne Bishop creates awesome worlds where magic is both feared and utilized in unexpected ways.

I like the plotline, so I don’t mind it being that repetitive, however I think that in her most developed world (Black Jewels) the books about side characters start to get away from the tired plotline, so its still my favorite. Plus this is not a common plotline elsewhere, so although its the same tune from Bishop over and over again I do recommend reading one of her series to get a taste of her style.

Be warned: Anne Bishop not only does explicit sex (which no one seems to worry about) but touches on real issues of abuse (self and other-inflicted), and the vulnerability of humanity to abuse and be abused–in fact a lot of the power dynamic within her books are about how powerful characters remain good. I think the fact that she deals so well with these issues are part of what makes her a good writer, but don’t expect a happy, squishy fantasy world…

I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in cool worlds, strong females and powerful issues…..

My Favorite Pastors in TV & Film

I always thought that about shepherd, plus do you notice how often tv ministers are women (very rare). Love this list…didn’t include Father Ted though 😉

Hopping Hadrian's Wall

Too often, clergy in fictional media are portrayed as either demonic, judgmental hypocrites or sincere, mostly nice, but still basically useless.  Hardly ever are we played as real, full human beings in our own right, complete with hopes and flaws.  Here are a few that shatter such misconceptions:

Shepherd-Book-WP-firefly-3087444-1152-864Shepherd BookFirefly, Serenity

Book: River, you don’t fix the Bible.
River: It’s broken. It doesn’t make sense.
Book: It’s not about making sense. It’s about believing in something, and letting that belief be real enough to change your life. It’s about faith. You don’t fix faith, River. It fixes you.

Dr. ChenFrank Lee Bukowski (a.k.a. Dr. Chen) – Eli Stone

Not technically a member of the clergy, but I included him anyway because Eli’s acupuncturist doubles as his spiritual advisor.

Eli Stone: But I don’t believe in God.
Dr. Frank Chen: Sure you do. You…

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Review “A Wrinkle in Time: the Graphic Novel” Adapted & Illustrated by Hope Larson (and written by Madeline L’Engle)

I am a total fangirl of Madeline L’Engle, she is most likely my favorite self-named Christian Fantasy author (as opposed to Lewis or Tolkien or the like)…so A Wrinkle in Time I bought with my oft hoarded holiday gift cards.

so when my 4 and a 1/2 year old son saw The Invention of Hugo Cabret on the floor and was fascinated by the fact that grownup books can have pictures. Immediately I t

600 × 230 – hardcoversandheroines.com

old him some adult books are entirely pictures, they are called graphic novels, and I showed him A Wrinkle in Time. He then asked if we could read it.

1600 × 902 – yafictionbookreviews.blogspot.com
499 × 329 – stoppingoffplace.blogspot.com

I’m a “Why not?” parent, and said “well we can try…” uncertain of its quality, his interest and our schedule (reading a chapter a night is a big commitment)

Bulletpoints of A Wrinkle in Time

1. The pictures were totally used to “fill in” the story. I have an ongoing theory that all remakes of classics (Oz, Narnia, Lord of the Rings) tend to be better if they were done by children who grew up with the tale, because reading things as adults–we just don’t connect the same way, and we tend to put our own values and systems on instead of exploring the world that is presented (Harry Potter comes to mind, the first movie the director said re: Dumbledore’s Office “what was fun was we could do whatever we wanted, and create it from scratch…um…excuse me isn’t there a perfectly perfect BOOK to refer to argh, a guess that’s another post for another day.) Hope Larson definitely got the world, genre, passion and feel for L’engle’s tale

2. This is what I always pictured a “graphic novel” to be, its a real novel, told in graphics (comic books are great, but they always sound shorter to me). At 383 pages and multiple panels a page (1-10panels) the story is given the breadth, width and depth to be a deep telling of the truth that is in the books

3. She gets stars: Stars are a L’Engle thing, Larson, totally uses it, bonus points galore.

4. My four and a half year old was entranced, wondering when they would finally get to rescue first Meg’s father and then Charles Wallace…He was very disciplined about the one chapter thing, telling me it was “so exciting” to wait til the next day (like me he’s a sick person who enjoys delayed gratification–this makes us really great readers, we will willingly believe whatever you tell us because we like not knowing the real answer)

5. When we finished the book, Franklin (my son) wanted to know if we could pa-lease-read-it-starting-at-the-beginning-tomorrow-night-RIGHT? (needless to say we went a reserved the graphic novel of The Hobbit at the library ASAP)

Katy’s Review 4 out of 4 stars

Franklin’s Review 60 out of 4 stars

PS: The story of love’s triumph over nothingness is amazing, and I can only pray that Hope Larson has been engaged for A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and not someone else–because, hey, I trust her….She was able to show me Aunt Beast, Mrs. Which, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Whatsit without messing with their alien/mysterious natures!!!

Other pictorial interpretations of Wrinkle in time

1024 × 570 – warlord-of-noodles.deviantart.com
718 × 1023 – ebay.com

762 × 1048 – nastasiarocks.deviantart.com

400 × 279 – bookiewoogie.blogspot.com

356 × 500 – thisrecording.wordpress.com

180 × 229 – wanderingeducators.com
158 × 224 – sfpl.org

Christopher Priest’s “The Islanders” Review

Good thing I like to re-read books (yep, I’m one of those re-reader people)

I Islanders is like a stack of papers one finds in someone’s room. Most of it are chapters to a guide book but some of them are random stories or journal entries–as if someone has been collecting all the information they could real & fictional, because they loved the islands so much.

Trouble is that the stories don’t all agree, there is no overarching plot and the islands themselves are basically unplottable.

Don’t get me wrong, when I say trouble, I mean it in a good way. The reader is left with the mystery (Christopher Priest obviously treats his readers as intelligent). And I definitely need to reread this book to get more and more out of it, but I bet I could reread it many times and get different nuances–I love it when that happens.

What is really cool about the book is the stories relationships to one another are as complex as the characters relationships. After all, the context for someone’s life is based on the relationships that person has with herself (himself), other people and the play in which she lives. (This book explores that too).

If you are into science fiction, anthropology, geography, Lord of the Rings (re: invention of another culture), wicked (ditto), or philosophy give this a read. The stories are short and the meaning is deep.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Islanders-Christopher-Priest/dp/0575088648

The Islanders

PS this would make a great tv show with its complex vignettes, although I doubt anyone would be brave enough to do this, but it would be awesome!!!