Scripture Saturdays

bible-2723644_1280I recently finished reading Ecclesiastes. It’s one of my favorite books of the Bible, although it puzzles me as much as it interests me. The book has great insight, but no hope, which is strange for a book in the Bible.

The writer, King Solomon, is the most depressed person in the Bible and seems to be of two minds. Solomon says he had tried every activity from folly to wisdom and decided everything is “meaningless” or “vanities”. Both the wicked and the good end up dead, so what does it matter how you live?

Then he turns around and says the fear of God is the whole point of life. Solomon seems to acknowledge God and our purpose to serve him but doesn’t seem to think this service has a point.

The only way can explain this attitude is that Solomon wrote this book toward the end of his life. He had already started his journey away from God. Maybe by this time Solomon knew God was taking most of Israel away from him and only leaving his son Rehoboam two tribes. For all his wisdom and wealth,  Solomon couldn’t pass a whole kingdom on to his son.

But where Solomon differs from his father David is this realization that life has grown empty doesn’t lead him to repentance. Nowhere in the Bible does it mention that Solomon asks his sins to be forgiven, like David did. He just gets depressed and declares all of life is futile, instead of considering only his life is futile because he quit obeying God.

“Writing Prompts & Thoughts” & Idea … Oh My” is a site with another view on Ecclesiastes. If you have read the book, what are your thoughts? I would live to here a different interpretation than mine.

 

Writing Tip — Favorite Authors — Melville Davisson Post

post_abner_des_cov_cmykI only discovered the mysteries written by Melville Davisson Post in recent years. Mr. Post (1869 -1930) was born in Harrison County, West Virginia and was a trained lawyer practicing in Wheeling, West Virginia, the nearest city to my hometown. He eventually gave up the law and became a prolific writer.

The only stories I have read by Mr. Post are the twenty-two mystery short stories featuring his detective Uncle Abner. Set in the pre-Civil War days when West Virginia was still western Virginia, Uncle Abner is a landowner who raises cattle and has a thorough understanding of the law. We never learn his last name. He has a brother Rufus, whose son Martin, about ten-years-old, narrates the stories.

Uncle Abner is a fierce Christian, strong and righteous like the prophet Elijah. He uses this strength and righteousness and his ability to solve mysteries to help others, usually people who are the victims of loopholes in the law. Abner believes in abiding by the law but knows the law should serve justice, and if it doesn’t, he will.

I have no legal background, but I assume the loopholes and points of law, so pivotal to the plots, were once actual laws, and these add a layer of reality to the stories.

detective-1039883_1280Of the twenty-two stories, the first ones are the best because Mr. Post tends to repeat some of his plots in the later ones. My favorites are “The Angel of the Lord”, “The Wrong Hand”, “The Tenth Commandment”, and “The Mystery of Chance”. “The Doomdorf Mystery” is the most well-known story in the series and contains one of the most original solutions to a locked-room murder you will ever read. “A Twilight Adventure” has an interesting plot.  Abner and Martin happen upon a lynching party. Abner demonstrates how the evidence the party has uncovered points to more than one person, and they may be set to kill the wrong man.

I would love to rewrite “Naboth’s Vineyard” in a contemporary setting. Abner is convinced the judge presiding over a murder trial is actually the murderer. When he demands the judge to step down, he calls on the law to back him. But the law is not words written on a page or the local authorities. Abner calls on the true law, the people who vote for it.

Next time, I will write about how Melville Davisson’s Post’s stories have inspired my writing.

Warning!

If you are interested in trying the Uncle Abner stories, they are hard to find in a hard copy. I don’t know about their availability in digital form. The book I have, Uncle Abner: Master of Mysteries, was reprinted recently by West Virginia University press and is so riddled with typos I would not recommend a first-time reader of the stories using it. I like the stories so well that I put up with the errors.

Writing Tip — Writing in Time — September as a Setting

pathway-2532588_1280As I wrote in my post about using August as a setting, I love this time of year, from August through New Year’s Day. In a temperate climate, like where I live, September and October are the best months of year. The nights are cold enough to kill the most annoying bugs. We can actually enter our woods again without being eaten alive. The days are usually 70-80 degrees. And it’s the driest part of the year, so we get day after day of sunshine and bight blue skies.

Another benefit of the lack of rain is that the water level in the river drops, and my family and I can wade to an island in the middle of it. We spend the afternoons on the island. I write, my kids catch fish and crawdads, and kayak with my husband. It’s as close to perfect as I’ve found on earth.

Labor Day and the beginning of the school year kick off the month. Both are helpful events to start stories. Any setting in which you can bring together disparate characters, whether it’s a family picnic or the first day of school, gives you the ingredients to whip up any number of conflicts for your plot.

The fall equinox offers opportunities for writers of speculative fiction. Check out my post on March where I mention the spring equinox.

carnival-rides-2648047_1280The biggest event in my community this month is the county fair. I have a special fondness for fairs with their competitions in crafts, foods, and farm animals. My home county always has its fair in September, and I won five blue ribbons in baked good as a kid.

My kids are in 4-H and enter projects in the fair. So many kids compete with farm animals that we get two days off from school. I love just about everything at the fair — the rides, the exhibits, the animals. And like the photo above, the fair at night has a magical look to it with all the bright lights holding back the night. It makes me feel tied to a simpler life and reminds me of my mom’s parents, who grew up on farms.

713maf2b2mlAs a setting, a county fair can be used to tie a rural community together or maybe highlight a clash between the past and the present. The best book I’ve found that captures the essences of county fairs is Fair by Ted Lewin. My kids and I read it every September.

What is September like where you live? How would you use it as a setting?

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts

What is your best/ worst memory about starting school?

One of my most vivid memories about starting school happened when I was in eighth grade. Up until that time, I had two modes, summer and school. When school started, my relaxed summer mode would switch over to the energetic school mode. In that mode, I felt eager to do work at school.

In October of eighth grade, I was sitting in the last class of the day and realized my school mode hadn’t kicked in yet. That was strange. It was usually in top working order by October. I wondered what happened.

And I still do. I never found my school mode again. I trudged through high school, and even college, in summer mode, forcing myself to complete work that most of the time I wasn’t interested in. I still did my best in school, but I was always thinking of being somewhere else, doing something I liked better.

What was starting school like for you? Share if you’re inspired!

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