HAPPY HALLOWEEN! ARGHHHHH

MY NEW STORY, JUST IN TIME FOR HALLOWEEN

My new short story, Jolly Rogers:  A Story About Boyhood is now available at bardandbook.com (free coupon code WD89Z valid until October 26) as well as Kindle and Smashwords.  I suspect it will be available on Nook soon.  I began writing this story as a simple Halloween tale.  At one point I seriously considered turning the story dark, where an old man captures three hoodlum boys vandalizing his home on Halloween and then tortures them in retribution.  I decided against that, but so did the story.  The story chose to go a different, sweeter direction.

Writers will tell you that most stories tell themselves, and as this story unfolded it became clear that what it wanted was for the boys and the old man to become friends.  The way I decided to do this was a bit of time travel.

The major theme of the story is the innocence of childhood.  I take all four of the characters to that magical age of 10.  I remember that age fondly.  It is before the onset of adolescents and all of its problems, but at 10 a person is old enough to know what is going on, so there is freedom and independence.  As I write in the story:

A 10 year old boy is old enough to read, write, think, and plan but young enough to avoid responsibility or long range troubles.  At the wonderful age of 10 a boy is all motion with very little emotion to get in the way.  He still hates girls so there are no worries about appearances yet he loves bugs, guts and mud.  He can play all day in the world of make-believe but then leave that world knowing it is only make-believe as he reluctantly obeys his mom to come in for dinner, a bath, and bedtime.  He has no fear of the future; he has only optimistic assurance of the great and mighty things he will accomplish on the battlefield, in the laboratory, on the ball field, in outer space, or in the cockpit.

Once I learned that the story was about boys, I had to imagine what would boys play?  There are so many attractive options.  My characters could play games like baseball or football, or they could play army, or space adventurers.  When I was a little boy we played “forts.”  We would spend weeks and weeks building  elaborate forts in the woods out of sticks, mud, cardboard and any other substance we could find.  Then we would “defend” these forts against pretend enemies, or we would lay siege against them.  Usually we would each build our own fort complete with flags and ramparts which would result in a particularly violent version of capture the flag.  I decided in the end though, I would use the pirate theme from beginnning (Halloween) to end (play).

It was great fun, and Jolly Rogers is in part a remembrance of my past, a past which I am afraid no longer exists because boys just don’t seem to play the way we used to.

PREACHING WITH AN iPAD

In June Mrs. Greenbean gave me a wonderful Father’s Day present–the new HD iPad.  It was my first iPad and I’m still learning all the wonderful things it will do.  My wife, on the other hand, is an old pro.  I think she has an app on hers that will vacuum the floor and clean the toilets.  I haven’t found that app yet.

THIS IS NOT MY ACTUAL iPAD, MINE HAS WAY COOLER APPS ON IT THAN THIS ONE

Right after we got it, we left on vacation, so I didn’t have much time to play with it in my work environment.  The past few weeks, however, I have been toying with it more and more.  I find it much easier than my old Kindle reader, however, to be fair, I loved my old Kindle and I bet that the new Fire works a lot like my iPad, so this review probably easily applies to both.

There are four positives to taking the iPad into the pulpit.  [of course, I do not preach with a pulpit so that is just a metaphor for me]

The first positive is the light weight.  My iPad weighs less than my preaching Bible.  The second positive is the absolutely wonderful finger movement of the text.  Moving the text along with a finger is so much better than flipping pages.  The third positive is that, with the ESV app I use, I am able to highlight and then mark as favorite any text for instant recall.  Yesterday I moved three different sections with gaps in between each and had no problems.  A fourth positive is that since the screen is back lit (unlike my old Amazon Kindle), it overcomes the poor lighting on our platform.  The image is so much clearer to the eye.

Now, lest you think the iPad is all joy and no sadness, there are a couple of negatives.  The first one is that the case is cumbersome.  I have even pondered removing the case from the device while preaching . It doesn’t feel pleasing when opened and when folded open and being held, it does not fold flatly behind the device.  So, I don’t like the case.  The second negative is the sound.  If you are using the iPad to preach, turn the volume off or it might tell everyone in your audience that it is your turn in Words With Friends or that you now have a new Twitter follower.

As I told you, I’ve been playing with it and yesterday I made another jump with my iPad usage.  This was not in the act of preaching, but in the preparation for preaching.  About five years ago I made the decision to preach every sermon without notes.  I write the sermon out, word for word in a manuscript during the week, and then on Sunday morning I spend about an hour internalizing the sermon.  My usual methodology has been, early on Sunday morning, to lay out the 9 to 11 pages of manuscript on my desk in individual sheets, covering the entire top of my desk, and then slowly work to internalize each movement, illustration, statistic, etc…  During the act of preaching, if I got stuck, my mind would easily recall the actual sheet of paper sitting on my desk and thus bail me out.

This week, though, I dumped the paper.  I have an app on the iPad that reads the documents uploaded from Word.  I did the same work as always, but instead of paper i scrolled through the iPad and internalized it that way.  There seemed to be no glitch in the delivery; so, my intention is to continue working it that way.  Perhaps I’ll be completely paperless by Thanksgiving.

2011 GREENBEAN BLOG REVIEW #3: PREACHING WITH A KINDLE

Of the five top hits I am re-posting, this one is the only one that feels ‘dated.’   I wrote this before the Kindle Fire came out.  The Fire, as I understand it, is more like an iPad than the older Kindle readers.  As an update, during Advent I used my iPhone ESV app for preaching.  I may blog on that later, but it was a different kind of experience altogether. 

I am a bibliophile, and I like being that way.

For me a book is a beautiful thing in and of itself.  Harper Lee once wrote that it was a sin to kill a mockingbird, for me it is a sin to throw a book away.  Books should be kept and treasured.  When their bindings begin to come undone, use a little tape to firm it up and treat it with extra care.

A bookshelf lined with various volumes is my favorite piece of furniture.

My favorite book is the Bible.

This is why I was surprised when I used the Amazon Kindle and liked it.  I’ve read a couple of full books on the Kindle, and my daughters have read several.  A friend from church gave it to us a while back, and I’ve slowly warmed to it.  So much so that the last two weeks I have used it while preaching in place of my fully awesome lambskin black ESV single column Bible.  I wondered if there would be a difference in the experience by using the digital reader instead of a paper and ink.  There was.

  • For starters, the Kindle is so much lighter than a Bible that it is easier to handle.  Because of the lightweight nature of it I find I do not worry about dropping it or bending pages and all the other things that run through the mind while handling a big book.
  • Two Sundays ago I used it to read a large section of Scripture from John 6 and loved the way the Kindle’s “next page” function helped me read smoother.  There was no page turning—no noise in the microphone, no licking thumbs, no pause while the page settles.  The next page of text just popped up instantly.
  • I also liked how the Kindle font was bigger than the font on a printed page.  I could see it better.

There are however, some limitations to using the Kindle Bible in a preaching setting.  The most glaring one is that to change from one part of the Bible to the next, the user has to go back to the menu and then use that tiny little button to navigate through the books.  Heaven help the person who needs to get to Malachi or Amos.  That button is the second negative.  If I’m just preaching from a single text, then the Kindle is fine but my fat, stubby, arthritic fingers have a very hard time using that stick out joystick button “thingy.”

I think I am going to try and use the Kindle from now through Easter to keep experimenting with it.  The net effect has been positive, and I bet my Kindle can do things I don’t know it can do and I am anxious to learn those.  I’ve noticed many people at church come with their Kindle, and I hope by my using it we can encourage people that the Word of God is not about the format it is in, but whether or not we read and study it.  If the Kindle helps with that, then I want to affirm it.

PREACHING WITH THE AMAZON KINDLE

I am a bibliophile, and I like being that way. 

For me a book is a beautiful thing in and of itself.  Harper Lee once wrote that it was a sin to kill a mockingbird, for me it is a sin to throw a book away.  Books should be kept and treasured.  When their bindings begin to come undone, use a little tape to firm it up and treat it with extra care. 

A bookshelf lined with various volumes is my favorite piece of furniture.

My favorite book is the Bible.

This is why I was surprised when I used the Amazon Kindle and liked it.  I’ve read a couple of full books on the Kindle, and my daughters have read several.  A friend from church gave it to us a while back, and I’ve slowly warmed to it.  So much so that the last two weeks I have used it while preaching in place of my fully awesome lambskin black ESV single column Bible.  I wondered if there would be a difference in the experience by using the digital reader instead of a paper and ink.  There was.

  • For starters, the Kindle is so much lighter than a Bible that it is easier to handle.  Because of the lightweight nature of it I find I do not worry about dropping it or bending pages and all the other things that run through the mind while handling a big book. 
  • Two Sundays ago I used it to read a large section of Scripture from John 6 and loved the way the Kindle’s “next page” function helped me read smoother.  There was no page turning—no noise in the microphone, no licking thumbs, no pause while the page settles.  The next page of text just popped up instantly.  
  • I also liked how the Kindle font was bigger than the font on a printed page.  I could see it better.  

There are however, some limitations to using the Kindle Bible in a preaching setting.  The most glaring one is that to change from one part of the Bible to the next, the user has to go back to the menu and then use that tiny little button to navigate through the books.  Heaven help the person who needs to get to Malachi or Amos.  That button is the second negative.  If I’m just preaching from a single text, then the Kindle is fine but my fat, stubby, arthritic fingers have a very hard time using that stick out joystick button “thingy.”

I think I am going to try and use the Kindle from now through Easter to keep experimenting with it.  The net effect has been positive, and I bet my Kindle can do things I don’t know it can do and I am anxious to learn those.  I’ve noticed many people at church come with their Kindle, and I hope by my using it we can encourage people that the Word of God is not about the format it is in, but whether or not we read and study it.  If the Kindle helps with that, then I want to affirm it.