Glass Abbeys: A Call To Engage The Culture

There is one reason why we write: to glorify God. By glorifying God, we can help bring others into His kingdom.

By Grace, Li

“Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil,” so stated Elie Wiesel, reflecting how apathy arouses abhorrence. One of Edgar Allen Poe’s most famous horror tales, “The Masque of the Red Death,” also exposes human tendency to feel indifferent to suffering people. In the story, a masked guest–the horrible red death plague–kills the main character Prospero and all his couriers in a masquerade, even when they shut themselves away in a secluded abbey. In real life, some people also tend to withdraw from society. In olden times, hermits, monks and nuns all established sanctuary from the world. Even today, the same things happen. A number of Christians, although not completely separated from the general public, form unbreakable “glass abbeys.” They put a chasm between themselves and the world for various reasons. Altogether, some Christians cloister themselves because of their selfishness, weakness, and fear of being corrupted by the world.

To begin, Christians stay away from people in need because of their own selfishness. They occasionally succumb to self-indulgence when encountering a choice between an enjoyable setting among believers and a sinful community; in the end, they either shut themselves up or look away from the hopeless people. In “The Masque of the Red Death,” Prince Prospero and his courtiers retire into a secluded abbey and have grand, gay parties and balls; the story describes the magnificent masquerade where the masked guest arrives as “a voluptuous scene. Although typical church-related events do not count as “voluptuous,” they certainly can push evangelical activities out of some believers’ lives.  Living in a sheltered area where everybody does nothing but enjoy themselves is such a tempting choice compared to standing in the street and telling strangers about the Good News. A quote from the story reflects how human hearts can harden against others, “The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve or to think.” Unfortunately, many followers of Jesus also unwittingly adopt such ideas. Because many believers selfishly think like this, they tend to shut themselves into a Christian community and do not extend helping hands to the distressed. Overall, a number of Christians do not lift sinners from their pit of despair because of their own self-centeredness; they like their comfortable surroundings and harden their hearts toward others.

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Reality And Fantasy: Finding the Right Blend

Using your own life experiences to make your stories more real and fantastic at the same time.

By Lissy Jones

My mother always tells me the same thing whenever I write – “Write what you know”. I can’t stress this enough. Allow me to explain this with a simple example. Which is easier to write if you are a suburban Christian teenager – a story set in New York City about a young urban professional or a story about a suburban Christian teenager? Now, you may have a sibling that is a young urban professional in NYC, and that will make it easier to write the former, but generally, the latter is always going to be easiest for you to write. Think about it. You know the people in your neighborhood, you know what it’s like to be a teen, and it’s your life. I write my best fiction when it’s almost non-fiction. Having part of your personal story in your writing is like having climbing gear while climbing a mountain, versus free-hand climbing. It’s easier, and much less dangerous.

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But, my friends, writing direct biographies of our lives could be boring.  I know that I love writing partly because of the other world it transports me to – a world that I create. It’s only human to want to create things, as we are created in the image of the Creator. And when I’m writing what seems to be a narrative of my own boring (in my opinion) life, I tend to get bored. I have yet to write anything based directly on my life that is longer than a short story. And now, we are presented with a dilemma. So how do we fix that? Well, there are three ways. First, recognize the balance in writing. Second, learn to make reality fantasy. Third, research any topics you aren’t familiar with.

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Writing, like life, is a balance. It’s a delightful concoction with the perfect ratios of reality to fantasy. Every writer must be able to dream a little. I’m almost 100% sure C.S. Lewis didn’t possess a magical wardrobe that transported him to another world inhabited by talking animals. Yet, he spins a tale so real, the books have lasted years! So, what’s the magic ratio? In all honesty, friend, it varies. “The Chronicles of Narnia” requires more fantasy than, say, “The Grapes of Wrath.” A good writer is able to recognize exactly how much fantasy/reality he or she needs to add to the story. It’s like cooking – add a dash of reality to taste. If you reach the point where you read over your work and it sounds very “fake”, maybe reconsider some elements of your story, and make them closer to home. If you’re a girl who loves reading and writing, an illiterate boy who has just immigrated to America might be too hard to try to relate to. I like to play it safe and always have my main character be a girl, like me. Always have something in common with your character. A good way to do this is to make a chart comparing you and your character’s homes, families, personalities, and situations. This can help you see what you can change to get more in common. If, on the other hand, your story sounds like an autobiography, expand your mind a bit and add in some spice – perhaps you’ve always secretly wished you played piano from birth. Add that in! Also, consider changing one big piece of your character’s background. If you come from a two-parent household, making your character live with a single parent in a divorced or widowed family can add a fresh take on things.

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With My Song

 

A poem reminding us that come what may, God is in control, and we can have peace in Him.

By Ashley Barr

Why is my life going to pieces?

Why is my world falling apart?

Guilt and anger are clouding my mind,

While mourning fills my heart.

What have I done to deserve this?

Why are these trials crushing me?

How can I fill this void inside?

When will my heart be free?

How can I soar like eagles,

When I can barely crawl?

I give up; I give it to you,

I can do nothing at all.

Lord, you took my heart and made it clean.

You gave me a life brand new.

You took my mourning and gave me dancing.

And with my song I will praise you.

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Safe In Your Arms

 A great poem reminding us that the world is a very safe place for a Christian.

By Haley Long

When my fears threaten to seize

My heart in a cold clenching grasp

I know You are watching over me

When my mind fills up with doubt

And I can’t seem to take control

I know You are within and without

 

So please take me in Your arms

Hold me close and don’t let go

Reassure me I’m safe from all harm

Oh, Lord Jesus, You’re my Father

I’ve no reason to doubt You

Safe in Your arms, You love like no other

 

As I plead and cry to You

Satan tries to discourage me

And convince me I’m not getting through

But through the clouds of my storm

Your loving voice falls on my ear

And tells me, “Come, you’re tired and worn.”

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The Finish Line

 Do you know what you’re aiming for?

 

By Kathryn Comstock

The End’ is one of the most exciting sentences for an author to pen. All the work and planning is over and you’ve finished. You’re at the finish line. But if you think about it, there are steps to getting to that point. In the same way a runner trains for a marathon, a writer has to something similar: planning, outlining and brainstorming. How do you get to those two wonderful words, ‘The End’?

All writers have problems coming up with story goals at some point in their career. I’ve experienced it, my friends have experienced it and I’m sure those reading this have as well. This isn’t entirely possible to avoid, but I have found two major things that help me get out of the “no story goal” rut quicker.

First, write out everything that couldn’t possibly happen. That’s right, the way’s your story won’t end. May seem silly, but it does work. It helps you to figure out what direction you shouldn’t be taking your story.

Second, list everything you think may be a viable option for your ending. The things on the list don’t have to be long, or even that extreme. It can be something really little or something big. I’ve had times where I even write down something cliché, because it is an ending that might possibly happen.

When doing both those things, talk to someone about your ideas. I know it’s scary to share your ideas from fear of rejection, and I totally understand that. Having someone else look at it can give you a helpful and different perspective. I’ve had the experience where I’ll just take one item from my list of possible story goals and start talking about it. It may not seem that great to me, but the other person is able to think more outside the box than I am and give me some helpful tips. Usually, that turns into my story goal.

Whatever you do, make sure you actually have a story goal. You need something to work towards, just like anything else in life. When I had just started writing, I didn’t think I needed a story goal. I thought I could just write and eventually, one would magically appear, work amazingly and my characters would ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after.

Oh, was I wrong.

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Passing Moments

 

A great poem reminding us that pain and loss are only temporary, and that God is in the process of making all things right and bringing everything into His kingdom.


By Sarah Spradlin
Breathe.

What a gift it is to simply be. To see. To know. To love.

But not this day, little one.

This day you lament for the ones who will no longer be there.

Whose smiles will fade away

past the edge of time and memory.

You stare at the empty desk

as though you can bring him back,

but he is with Me. Here he is safe.

And so are all who have said goodbye,

who have given their last breath

and embraced the future.

So many tears

have fallen from your eyes, My Child.

I hold them in My hands.

You call out to Me.

Lost. Scared. Afraid.

But you are brave. You are strong. You are Mine.

Open your eyes.

Dry your tears and remember each moment is a gift.

You cannot foresee what will come.

You act as though you know.

Day in day out.

But what passes through My eyes is so much different than yours’.

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Profile photo of Sarah Spradlin
If you’ve ever emailed us at KP, you’ve probably “met” Sarah—a passionate storyteller with a huge heart that loves Jesus and everyone she meets. Sarah grew up in Georgia with her mom, dad, and little sister, Merry, where she attends the University of Georgia, majoring in International Affairs and Agriculture Communication. When she graduates, Sarah wants to help people all over the world succeed in the agriculture industry and tell the all-important story of the farmer. She joined the Kingdom Pen Team as Secretary in September 2013 and now serves as the Director of Community Happiness. Sarah has been homeschooled, private-schooled, and graduated from Madison County High School in May 2015. She attended Summit in July 2015. She’ll read pretty much anything (if she had to pick, though, her favorite author would be Frank Peretti) and has tried her hand at pretty much every kind of writing out there, though she likes writing fiction and poetry best. But because writing bios is a struggle, if you really want to get to know Sarah, shove some words in her general direction via the Forum, on one of the many social medias down below, or through the KP e-mail: kingdompenmag@gmail.com.