What have I missed out in ‘How to cope with the Church’?

There are a lot of things I have not included in this book.  You could probably think of several.  The reason for that is that I wanted to keep it short, simple and cheap.  I tried to concentrate on things I think people need to know.  Things that will help them overcome the most ‘popular’ difficulties in Church life.  If you have a few different ones, I am sorry.  If you let me know I will try to say something on my blog to help.  If I find there are enough, I will include them in my next book.

  • I have not said anything about other religions.  That is because I am trying to help people who are Christians or at least thinking of going to a Christian Church.
  • I have not dealt with any of the big intellectual difficulties some people have with the faith.  That is because most people I know are not worried about them.  I have tried to concentrate on the issues I think matter to most people.  If I am wrong, well, wait for the sequel.  Or get a book that does deal with your problem.
  • One thing I forgot to put on my last blog was the web address where you can order the book.  https://tsw.createspace.com/title/6534903

https://tsw.createspace.com/title/6534903

Have you seen the elephant?

No, I have not lost one.

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No! That’s not an elephant!

I recently heard someone saying that children these days do not seem to show as much awe and wonder at the marvelous creatures that they see in the zoo as ‘we’ did.  I am not sure who ‘we’ included, but never mind.

I can think of two reasons why this remark may contain some truth.

  1. Children these days do not want to show too much ‘awe and wonder’ at anything as it is not cool, so they say.
  2. Children have seen lots of wildlife documentaries and are better prepared than some previous generations for the sight of amazing animals.

At one time, most adults, let alone children, would not have seen foreign animals in the flesh.  At best they might have seen a picture in a book or a painting in a gallery.

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No, that’s not one either!

During the American Civil War there was an expression ‘To See the Elephant’, meaning to experience a battle.  The point of the metaphor was that anyone who had not been in a battle could not know what it was like.  No description did it justice.  [Sorry if you are a War Poet or even a War Correspondent: I did not invent the expression!]  In the same way, if you had never seen an elephant, no description quite conveyed what one was like, but once you had seen one you knew.

Thinking of this, I can understand the difficulty people have when trying to talk about a religious experience.  Their descriptions either make it sound banal, or seem so bizarre as to be incredible.  That is because God is not like us.  He is different.  All you can do is to try to liken him to something else.  Nothing quite works.  That is why the Bible is full of imagery.  Much of it contradictory.  The writers were struggling to convey something they had experienced that was like nothing else.

I may be wrong, but the people I am most willing to believe concerning their religious experiences are those who have greatest difficulty in describing them.  Those who sound too glib make me suspicious.

There is a similar problem for us authors.  We want our writing to be credible.  We want readers to be able to relate to our characters.  Yet we want to make the reader feel something extraordinary is happening, or else the story seems too mundane.  Great writers manage to bridge the gap.  They use words to convey the unusual, perhaps the near-incredible, in a way that readers can understand and relate to.

Am I a great writer?  Wait and see.  I know I have a challenge.

 

How to cope with the Church?

While working on my first detective novel, I have continued to write and speak on a number of other subjects.  I am about to publish another non-fiction book called How to Cope with the Church.

It is not intended for regular, lifelong committed churchgoers.  It is not for convinced atheists or others who regard religion as totally irrelevant.  It is not for people who are followers of a religion other than Christianity.

It is intended for the many people who are somewhere in between.

  • If you go to Church sometimes.
  • If you used to go and are not sure about going back.
  • If you find prayer or Bible reading difficult.
  • If there are things you are not sure whether to believe or not.

If you are one of those people, you might find this little book helpful.  I hope so.

It is published on Amazon and Create Space.  It is not expensive, only 3.00 pounds.  It is available on Kindle too, where it is even less expensive, only 99 pence.  I will always have a few copies handy too.

List Price: 3.00
6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on White paper
64 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1537365039 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
ISBN-10: 1537365037
BISAC: Religion / Christian Life / General
 Also on Kindle where it costs even less.

If you are a determined atheist this book is not for you. If you are strong in the faith it is not for you either. If you are somewhere in between, if you have problems with Church, Bible reading, prayer, if you have not been for a while and are nervous about going back, if you have doubts and questions and do not like to ask, then this book could be just what you need. John Harvey Murray shares insights gained from experience in many different churches on the journey of faith and life. If he can cope, so can you.

Go to CreateSpace eStore: https://www.createspace.com/6534903
Kindle ASIN: B01LZ53GBS

 

What kind of words can I use?

“No adjectives!” cried John, the author, “No effing adjectives?  Who says?”

“It’s company policy.” replied Harvey, the executive from his publishers as he handed back the manuscript.

Pic4

“Well, what stupid, blinkered, unimaginative, idiotic, moronic old fool came up with that one?”

“You’ve just used six adjectives, most of which were unnecessary.  They were synonyms, or nearly.  There was no need for the expletive in your previous remark, either.  You see how wasteful you are with words?”

“So is this an efficiency drive?”

“I suppose that’s one way of looking at it.  To answer your question, the policy came down from the top.  The senior partner, Mr. Roget, has recently stated the policy unequivocally and categorically.  By the way he’s not old.  He’s only in his forties, although they say his mental age has always been greater than his chronological age.”

“You’ve just used two adjectives.  You said ‘mental’ and ‘chronological’ and they’re near-synonyms.   What about adverbs?”

“They’re banned too.  Most of them are unnecessary.”

“You use them.  You just said ‘unequivocally’ and ‘categorically’ which are also near-synonyms.  And ‘unnecessary’ is an adverb too.  You’re as bad as I am!  Anyway, repetition is often used for emphasis.  We all do it in speech.  Why not in print?  I’ll bet a lot of famous writers would never get published if your Mr Roget had his way.  What about titles?  Do you allow adjectives and adverbs in them?”

“We certainly don’t encourage them.” said Harvey as he looked at the list of new titles he was holding.

“I suppose, if had been Dickens’ publishers, you would have published the Curiosity Shop!

Harvey replied, “If you’re going to be like that, I suppose it ought to be just the Shop.”

“Like the Girl with the Earring, or is that the Girl with the Ring?”

“Now you’re being silly and pedantic.” said a rather irritated Harvey.

“That’s good, coming from you!  What about the Sleep by Raymond Chandler, and Hardy’s Far from the Crowd?  Would you have told Louisa May Alcott to call her books Women and Men, not to be confused with the Man by H.G. Wells?  Or would Dashiel Hammett have had to call his book the Falcon?  Don’t you see that adjectives make a difference, sometimes an important one?”

“They’re all great writers who know when to use a word and when to leave it out.  You seem to think the more words the better.”

“Isn’t that a subjective opinion?  Some readers probably like it plain and simple, whilst others prefer a bit more colour.  If people in the art world thought like you and your Mr Roget, paintings would be reduced to diagrams.”

Harvey looked at the cover of a book on his desk.  There was a picture of matchstick men on a minimalist background.  He said, “I can think of some modern artists who do just that, quite successfully!”

“Yes, but not everyone wants that kind of thing.  Surely we want to give the readers a choice?”

“Go through your manuscript and take out all the adjectives and adverbs that don’t add anything to the narrative or even to the descriptions.  Then I’ll see if I can persuade the firm to give it another look.”

What is this site?

I have set up this blog so I can write about writing as opposed to my other blog john@jhmriskmanagementservices.co.uk where I write about Risk Management.  Of course I have written there about other things too sometimes, but as I am doing more writing, especially crime fiction, I want to be able to keep the two separate.

I have heard that some people are interested in crime fiction who are not interested in Risk Management and vice versa. I hope many of you will take an interest in both, but for those who want to keep to one or the other, this is for you.