Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Teachable Moment

One never knows when a teachable moment will appear.

Sometimes you can expect it because of the situation you are about to encounter - it's inherent in the environment.

Other times it takes you completely by surprise. Such was the case today.

I took my youngest to Best Buy to get a new router. Mine was starting to give up the ghost. We were leaving to head to another store in the mini-mall and we had to go down a short hallway that merges with the bigger, main one. In front of us was a petite person. We were maybe 15 feet away when she announces quite loudly, 'THERE YOU ARE! HOW ARE YOU??!!!!'

We turn to look behind us. There is no one there. We were the focus. Thing is, we had NO idea who this person was!

She is what I would term - mentally young/challenged or having a mental disability. With everything being PC these days, I'm not too sure how to label her. The one thing that is clear no matter the label - she was a person, she was being friendly, if exuberant, and she was extremely happy to see us.

My youngest looked at me like a panicked deer. What do we do?

What we did was to continue walking up to her. Her with her multi-colored knitted cap, bicycle helmet perched on top of it, her back pack all puffed out, in her puffy blue coat and her knitted gloves. She held out her hand to shake and I did. Same with my youngest - he followed my lead. She asked for my name. I gave it. She smiled. She turned to my son and asked the same. He gave his name and she said ,"WHOOPS!" and giggled. "I forgot about my earbuds!" She popped one out and she smiled widely and asked my son his name again, which he provided, again. She smiled another big grin and I wished her a Merry Christmas, since it's still the season, at which she smiled again. Then she announced in her delighted, upbeat way, 'I'm going to Gamestop! They have lots of wonderful games there!', and did a complete about face and jauntily walked away at a quick pace.

My son was quite perplexed by the whole thing. Freaked might be a more accurate word. I explained that she had special needs and she still was due respect and cordiality - even if it was not the normal interaction between strangers. People like her don't think too hard about the meanness in life - they're full of joy. I am never quite sure how they manage to be happier than most but they often come across that way.

My son thought about it for a bit and said "She has a rainbow mind". I liked that. I really did. I love my kids and when they come up with beautiful wisdom and insights, they teach me as much as I try to teach them. Truly a teachable moment.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Fiction versus Belief

I have a gripe.

I recently read a book in an anthology in which most of the authors are unknown to me.
That's fine. Most of my favorite authors were introduced to me by reading anthologies in the beginning of my rediscovery of romance books. Since then, I always make it a point to read a few anthologies a year to find new authors and new book series to take on.
However, this one I did not like.

Sacrificed in Shadow by S.M. Reine in the Magic After Dark anthology.

The editing was fine
The pace was fine.
The author's voice was fine.
Even the basic premise of the story was interesting and engaging.

What I could not stomach was the underlying theme and the manipulation of the tenants of the Christian faith.

Yes, I realize that authors have the right to take poetic license.
I also realize that this tale is a book of fiction.
I also understand that for those that are not of the faith, don't believe or believe it's one giant fairy tale, the stories and history of the Bible are rich in creative fodder.

But for readers like me, I had a very difficult time separating my beliefs from the fiction written into this book.

Authors seem to love Lilith. She's a very wicked woman, I guess. Her story isn't part of my particular vein of Christianity.
In this novel, the author mentions that only the Star of David affected the heroine. Okay, that's fine. I never could understand why vampires were only ever affected by Christian symbols of faith. That always seemed a bit lopsided to me.

There was one statement where the heroine observed something that didn't bother her because it was blessed by man, not by God. I took umbrage to that because it's one of the things that IS changed by God through man - it is still touched by the Divine. It's not a ritual or tradition made meaningless because it's 'done by man'. It's an actual happening. So, I have to accept that the author took poetic license and made it to fit her world-building, which is again, fine. But if it's to subtly slide in her personal belief, then I, through my personal blog, will express my counter-opinion to that perspective and state that it IS touched by God and therefore relevant against evil.

Putting artistic interpretation of religion aside, I also felt that Lincoln, who featured so strongly in the beginning, ended up being a throwaway character. His actions at the end didn't thrill me. Oh, I understood his dilemma, but for all his strengths, he was weak. I had higher hopes for him.

The character of James was a conundrum. Hero or anti-hero, did the author give me enough to like him or hate him? I am not a fan of characters that practice duplicity on seemingly omnipotent levels. But I get the feeling that he was an excellent foil for the heroine.

As for the main character, Elise? Well, she was okay. She's a woman with a lot of emotional and physical baggage and her having to deal with them while trying to save the world did present some unique challenges. Was I sympathetic to her character? Not much.

I realize that this post is pretty darned negative to the story and it's probably because it's colored by my feelings - I don't enjoy stories that mess with demons and God and mix them up because I find them jarring and I want to argue about their misrepresentation.

All that being said, I believe it's true that this story will actually appeal to many paranormal romance readers because they more than likely can let this kind of stuff roll off their backs and take it with a grain of salt. If the book entertains them, then it's all good. There are other things that go on, dialogue, descriptions and environment that were well written and made the book easy to read.

At least I did give it a try. I did read the entire book to give it a chance to wow me. It just came up against this mental line in the sand and it's not until I read a story like Sacrificed in Shadow that I'm reminded that I actually have one. I'm pretty lenient on a lot of things, I've even read some M/M and BDSM books, (NO, not 50 Shades), and I'm not a fan of zombies At.All. But if I had to choose to read a book that twists my belief system or zombies, I'll read the zombie book.

I'm still in process of reading the rest of the Magic After Dark anthology book, but this bothered me enough to vent and the only place I can do that is on my blog.