Definitely Not the Opera, (DNTO) a CBC Radio One program devoted to the art of storytelling in Canada, asked me to tell my story of coming out to my church for their Nov 3 show “Lost Causes”.
I had pitched the idea to them last year for a different show called “Making Enemies” but withdrew the pitch because a) I don’t think I meant to make enemies, nor do I think I have made enemies; and 2) because I didn’t want to restir a pot that has finally calmed down.
But they remembered my pitch. And they sought me out. Which is humbling, and cool. We recorded on Friday morning and they are editing my lengthy story to 3-4 minutes. I appreciate Andrew Friesen’s belief that my story was important and needed to be told. I feel like the story is more appropriate under “Lost Causes” because trying to reason with people who don’t want to listen to you, or discuss with you–and believing that you alone have to spark change–well, it can feel like a “Lost Cause”. But in the end–and the end hasn’t come yet–who knows if the cause is lost? I think every person who says the church must look at the evidence, must consider the Christian testimonies of LGBT folks in the discussion, is a step towards change. We need more people who realize how many people have fallen away from the faith, have decided against Christ, have been repelled from the church, and who, sometimes when there is no hope left, taken their own lives, all because the Church has historically refused to consider the scriptures in an accepting light–and this causes their members to refuse to accept their children in an accepting light. This splits familes. My God and my Christ are not what I encounter when I come into a Baptist Church anymore. I daresay they wouldn’t recognize it. Churches are not all one defined Mass though–as many churches are beginning to change their minds about LGBT people. Episcopals, Lutherans, Presbyterians, United Church of Canada–all have begun seeing that this is just the next issue the church has to rethink. As it did slavery, race, and its treatment of Women. And divorce. Change comes when people inside churches decide they can’t hold false doctrine anymore. Christianity and Faith are not the problem. Interpretation is.
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Here's Dave White's interview with Karen Fowler and I about our team of writers helping raise money for the very well known Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop. They're creating scholarships--so us alumni, we're helping out! And new writers as well!
You might recognize these two intrepid writers if you live in Whitehorse! Zeb and Santana Berryman have great talent. I’ve been privileged to have been working with them now for five years! And they keep surprising me.
I met them first when I offered a Saturday science fiction/fantasy creative writing class in October 2007. They were teens…in fact, I think Santana was eleven? Incredibly well-read in science fiction and fantasy, and horror and manga, etc., this brother and sister went on to spin some novels of their own. Both of them write a novel every September in the three-day novel contest, as well as the November Novel writing month, and short stories, their own novels, and a novella with me.
Now they’ve decided to spur on their shorter works by joining up with the Write-A-Thon happening through Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshop. First link there will take you to the Write-A-Thon page–where YOU can help these writers by spurring them on! They are using their writing drive to help Clarion with their Fundraising drive. Folks can click on the “Support a Writer” and will be taken to this page. There, they can click on the different teams–and Zeb and Santana are hiding in the Team Bears Discover Fire–click on show members.
Or you can go directly to Zeb Berryman’s page here.
Or to Santana Berryman’s page here.
You can spur them on in their writing–as well as lead them to win an iPad–by pledging a bit of money per word or per story or per whatever their writing is divided into. It doesn’t have to be more than a dollar a story! And that money goes to develop scholarships for writers to come to Clarion for the summer.
Every year the workshop invites about 18 writers to come join them and gives them real science fiction and fantasy writers working in the field to be their mentors. Those writers get individualized attention for six weeks! Six weeks, a different writer every week.
If you want to hear my testimonial about Clarion, and this page on Clarion, I am an alumni and can testify how great it is for propelling a writer forward.
These two writers are going to be great! I have every confidence in them. I believe one day, they too might enjoy Clarion. We three are raising money for that possibility–or the possibility for someone to recieve a scholarship for Clarion some year.
Look for them on that webpage–and then look for them soon in a bookstore!
I found the newspaper Ray Bradbury signed for me. Love how he broke his signature into segments to make it fit.
Just wanted to add this as my souvenir from that day in March 1992. Let’s hope his blessing hasn’t lost any power from my neglect.
Wanna light a fire under your writer’s bum and do a good deed?
Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop has developed the Write-a-Thon to help YOU and to help THEM.
You might be in a place in your life where you haven’t been writing much, but you wish, wish, wish, that you could–or that you had the time. What we need, rarely, is the time—we need encouragement. The time will magically appear when we feel people in our life actually WANT us to write.
So Clarion has developed teams of writers to help you reach your writing goal—AND help Clarion reach their fundraising goals.
Here’s how it works:
1. You say to yourself, I give myself permission to write for six weeks as much as I can. I don’t have to take off from work, but I will find some time–with the help of my spouse, my significant other, my parents–to cordon off even a smidgen of time a day to write.
2. You sign up with Clarion Write-A-Thon by clicking on those words.
3. (from the Clarion write-a-thon website)
- First, sign up to write! Fill out as many of the fields as you can. It’s especially important to include a bio and excerpts. A link to your website and/or personal blog helps, too. Your name and a link to your new writer’s page will appear automatically on the Browse Writers page of the Write-a-Thon site.
- Be sure to upload a recent photo of yourself. A .jpg that is a maximum of 200 pixels in width is ideal. But our software can resize it for you if necessary.
- Post frequent updates everywhere. Refresh your Write-a-Thon writer’s page often with new excerpts. Post writing progress reports on your personal website, your blog, your Facebook page, and your Twitter feed. Make sure all of your efforts link to your Clarion Write-a-Thon writer’s page.
- Line up your sponsors. Contact friends, family and fans to let them know you’re raising money for Clarion while nurturing your writing life. Your writer page comes complete with personalized donation buttons to make it easy for your supporters. Feel awkward about asking? Here’s a model letter to use as a starting point.
- Participate as both a Writer and a Sponsor. When you support others, they’ll support you in return.
- Join a team and get a mentor. Once you have $20 in donations, you’ll have the option of joining a small group of eight Write-a-Thon writers. Each group is mentored by a Clarion Workshop instructor or graduate, ready and waiting with advice and encouragement. To join a team, wait for your emailed invitation, or write to email@example.com.
- Get Write-a-Thon badges for your blog and your website.
- Remember, there are prizes! We’re giving away iTunes, Amazon, or B&N gift cards to our top earners, along with Write-a-Thon keepsakes. And each writer who brings in $250 or more gets a free story critique from a Clarion author!
- You can also earn Write-a-Thon merit badges. You can begin writing any time. But beginning on the June 24, the official start of the Write-a-Thon, we have a special treat for you. On your Write-a-Thon writer’s page, you’ll see a grid with a question mark in each square. You can earn a maximum of one merit point every 24 hours by clicking the “I WROTE TODAY” button that will soon appear near the grid. As your merit point total passes certain milestones, merit badges will appear in your grid. We’re keeping the formula secret, so you never know when a badge will appear or what it will be. It’s all part of the motivational fun. We’re also trusting you to be honest. Only click the button if you really did some writing!
- Sign up for the Clarion E-bulletin mailing list. It’s the best way to keep up with the latest Write-a-Thon news
See that part about “JOIN A TEAM”— that’s where I come in. I’ve volunteered to be a mentor–with advice and encouragement! My team is called TEAM BEARS DISCOVER FIRE after Terry Bisson’s story, “Bears Discover Fire.” You’re going to discover fire in this group–as I’ll encourage you to write every day. I’ll give prompts for those who want them, and encouraging little notes as we go along. You’ll be in a group of people just like you who are pushing themselves for six weeks! It’s just six weeks. I wonder what YOU could do in six weeks if you had the encouragement from family and friends to do a little writing.
MY goal is to churn out six stories—they’re trunk stories, for the most part, but I need to get them finished. And Clarion is the way to do it!
You might have a book that needs more chapters. You might have some stories that need to get out. You might have an idea that needs a story!
This Write-a-Thon is Write Up Your Alley.
Join my team and light the fire you need to get some stories and writing done.
BEARS! Go light that fire!
[Visit the TEAM BEARS DISCOVER FIRE on WordPress and see what we're up to!]
I was sad to hear of the passing of Ray Bradbury, a giant in my life. He was 91, so he lived a good long life, and he gave us amazing writing like Something Wicked This Way Comes and Fahrenheit 451. But I will always remember him for his collections of short stories, The Illustrated Man, Martian Chronicles, R is for Rocket, S is for Space, Medicine for Melancholy, and others. They fueled my imagination–as I’m sure they did many people. But I can truthfully say that Ray Bradbury–with his lyrical writing, his vivid description and interesting stories–shaped me as a writer. I heard he was one of those bridge writers–the ones that transcended genre. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was that he took me places, expanded my imagination, urged me to tell stories.
We met once.
I was in Lubbock, working, I think, on my last year at a degree at Wayland Baptist University. It was 1992. Ray was speaking at a Young Author’s conference, but also as a public speaker. I was there to meet my hero. I brought a copy of Martian Chronicles with me, and the picture of him in the paper.
He talked about his time working for the Smithsonian, designing famous garages of inventors; his work on the Moby Dick screenplay for John Huston. He didn’t talk much about making science fiction… but I was rapt nonetheless. This man had produced so much. His imagination was so vivid.
Afterwards, there was of course a line up to get signatures. Ray sat behind a small table, and I worked my way up to him. While I was still a couple of people away, a woman came out of nowhere and jumped the line–with a stack of ten books, all open to the front page. These she plunked down in front of Ray, saying “These won’t take you but a minute.” Then she grabbed him by the shoulders and turned him sideways so her daughter could snap a picture. I think Ray was a bit miffed–a whole line of people trailed out in front of him.
After quickly signing all her books, while she babbled, he turned back to the line with a huge amount of graciousness for our patience. When I got up there, I put my newspaper and book in front of him, and said, “You’re the reason I started writing.”
He looked up. “Are you sending stuff out?”
“Well, I’m trying to…I mean…” I stammered. I wasn’t a very confident writer in 1992, with no sales to my name, but thirty bad stories completed and sitting around somewhere.
“You have to send them out. Send one out a week. That’s what I did. I wrote one story a week–started on Sunday and mailed it on Saturday. I did this for years. That way I had 52 stories in the mail and some of them had to sell!”
He laughed. He shook my hand. I assured him I would do that. I didn’t keep that promise. I went on to college, studied writing, but never writing one story a week–until I got to Clarion Writing Workshop and had to write one story a week–(I got five out of six weeks!)
That day back in 1992 I felt blessed by Ray Bradbury. My hero took time with me, gave me advice. Perhaps he was fueled by the woman who had taken the time he wanted to give us–maybe he felt an extra special need to be encouraging to me. I don’t know, but I’ll never forget it.
Bless you, Ray Bradbury. Bless you for blessing me that day. And bless you for all the wonderful stories and novels and essays you left us. And how you crafted magic out of an ordinary day.
I was living with my folks the last time I saw the Ring Cycle on PBS in the US. I made my parents endure several hours of it before they said, enough! After all I had hi-jacked the TV for several nights. And I was in the middle of Siegfried, and well, maybe….. actually my mother came to me and said, “Are you really enjoying this?” with a hint that she’d probably prefer something else. And actually, then, without the absence of distraction–I was inside the living room of an active six person house with dog–I don’t remember much of the Ring Cycle at all. I do remember telling my mom that we could change the channel.
I know, high recommendation eh? But it was a small tv, on a fuzzy station, in a mad house of six people and dog— it wasn’t the Yukon Arts Centre, with its HD and surround sound. It’s giant screen. And it wasn’t hunky Bryn Terfel, the Wotan of this Ring Cycle. I’m unabashedly crushing on Bryn Terfel.
Needless to say, I am looking forward to going through my first RING CYCLE in its entirety! As a fully realized, aware, culturally-interested adult (without a dog). I want the t-shirt that says I got through it. I may ask Triple J’s to make some!
Anyway, a FREE movie begins the cycle–it’s Wagner’s Dream: the Making of the Ring Cycle at 7pm on Saturday, May 12.
Because we are offering the Ring Cycle and because I’m kind of the defacto host of these Met Opera’s, I needed to know more about it–so I looked up the story. It’s freakin’ amazing!
It might sound familiar: A ring forged that will let the wearer rule the world, dwarves fighting for the ring, dragons that guard it, doomed lovers— seems like Wagner’s Ring Cycle might be The Lord of the Rings with music. It’s not true.
Though there is a strong case that Wagner and Tolkien both got their source material from the same places–German and Norse mythology and sagas–what they crafted is very different. And with all proper credit to Tolkien, Wagner’s opera has just as much amazing storytelling as the tale of hobbits and wizards.
Tolkien’s Trilogy of books starts off with a prelude book, The Hobbit, just as Wagner’s trilogy of operas starts off with Das Rheingold.
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Here’s a recreation of The Last Supper at Johnny’s Cafe on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids Michigan. April 20 2012.
From Left to Right: Daniel VandeBunte, Kit Graham, Hannah Chee, Annie Bultheis, Seth Wilson, Emily Diener, Joe Gibson, Walter T. Runn, Kaile VanOene, Linda Anderson, Cotter Koopman, and Peter Rockhold. With great thanks to all participants!
How do you write about your “faith”? How do you describe the indescribable, the ineffable, the otherworldly? the grief or joy or miracle or peace or disappointment that you have because of your faith? Everyone can argue about the value or lack of value in “religion”–and it’s an easy connect-the-dots to create your own pictures of what organized religion has done in the world. It’s harder to write about personal faith or your personal interactions with religion–what keeps you going, what happened to you that you know no one would believe, about the anguish of trying to live in a real, faulty, fragile world, when others ask you to strive for peace, patience, happiness, even joy.
This writing workshop will explore how people write about these very personal experiences, or their thoughts about faith and religion and its very real presence in their lives, or the lives of those around them. We’ve had students write about their relationships with their parents, their children, their grandchildren, experiences in nature, in confronting others who aren’t on the same page. We have had students who are believers, non-believers, unsure, people of various faiths. All faiths are welcome–come with what’s important to you, open to what is important to others. This isn’t a dogma class. It’s not a class to teach you from the top down. It’s for you to teach us from the ground up through your experiences, your writing.
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Ironically, my pastor at RBC suggested I write for Geez magazine. I don’t think he imagined what piece I would eventually write for them. But here it is, Issue #24, on “privilege”. I wrote the fast version of my coming out at church. I centered it on the idea of privilege–of the privileges I had as a single, white male Christian who had leadership potential and of the privileges I no longer had when I added “gay” to that mix.
The church has to change. It has to. It may not change from those fighting it on the outside, but it will have to incorporate change if it is to survive further. It faces irrelevance, it postures with discrimination, it plays favorites, it values money.
Not all churches–no. (When I say a statement like this I have to stop and say, Thank you, churches that are moving more towards inclusion, social justice, focusing on issues like poverty, the environment, civil rights. You do exist, but I wouldn’t, yet, call you the “Church”–as the “Church” tends to be the monolithic Catholic Castle or the Evangelical Juggernaut. One day, you will take on that mantle–you will be the “Church” and it will have a positive ring. You will convince other churches that focusing on discrimination is not the answer.)
Anyway, there it is, in Geez #24. If this brings you to Talking Dog, welcome. There’s lots there, I hope, that will spark conversation. If this entry leads you to Geez, welcome to Geez. There’s lots there that will spark conversation as well. It’s a valuable, important magazine carrying on “the” conversations we need to have happen. It is intrepid, bold, and unflinching.
I would marry Geez magazine if it looked like a bear and loved me back.
*apologies to Kevin James, pictured, who is not gay.