Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

I write a monthly newsletter column for the church. Here is what I wrote last month.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Jane Austen (1775-1817) achieved through her novels an enduring fame, having altered the direction of English Literature by laying a foundation for nineteenth-century realism. Technical measures aside, she created characters like Elizabeth Bennet with whom readers have bonded powerfully for more then 200 years.

At a bookseller’s shop in London, I was caught off guard by a new version of Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice. Quirk Books has released an adaptation of Austen’s book entitled Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance—Now with Utraviolent Zombie Mayhem! The concept is simple albeit perverse: Starting with the original Jane Austen text, Seth Grahame-Smith took out 15% of Austen’s novel that was unnecessary or incompatible and then inserted passages in which ninjas or English gentlemen, or even Elizabeth herself, engaged in gory duels with bands of bloodthirsty zombies.

This is why copyright laws are such a very good idea, but unfortunately Pride and Prejudice long ago passed into the public domain.

The sight of that book cover captured my attention and, later, dominated my thinking. What an incredible illustration of the nature of sin in my life and in yours. God, the consummate classic author, has written a timeless story for your life and for mine. He created us as flesh-and-blood lead characters in a grand narrative of goodness and glory.

We found it boring. We thought that the plot needed something more. We wanted to amuse ourselves and to try our own hands at writing the story of our lives. So, we set about to cut out a little bit of what God had written and we tried to stitch into the story some additions that were uniquely ours. Something exciting. Something more timely. Something more clever.

The indisputable destiny of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is to provoke a brief chuckle before spending some time in the 80%-off rack and then finding its way into the dustbin of bygone gimmicks. The one fact confirmed by the book is that Seth Grahame-Smith is no Jane Austen.

Likewise, your additions to the story of your life reveal clearly that you are not God. He created you and me to be a classic. I make of myself, when I disregard His plan for my life, the punch line of a joke. God knows the plans He has for you, plans to give you a future and a hope (from Jeremiah 29:11). Stick to the script, no zombies necessary.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Why I Almost Never Blog Any More

Click the picture to see a larger version.

Each year from left to right represents an ACP reporting year, from September 1 of the prior year through August 31 of the indicated year.

The left vertical axis indicates the number of blog posts composed in the ACP reporting year, as indicated by the red line. The right vertical axis indicates the number of baptisms reported at FBC Farmersville for the ACP reporting year, as indicated by the blue line.

My analysis is that each increase in the number of blog posts composed in a year corresponded to a decrease in baptisms in the following year.