Genesis – Back to the Beginning

By Tammy Trail

Our family was never big on going to church. We did attend a local Lutheran church down the street  for an occasional Sunday School class, or Vacation Bible School during the summer breaks. I learned about Jesus through this sporadic exposure to the Bible.

In 1994, when I worked as a paraprofessional at a local grade school, I was invited by a small group of teachers to join their Bible study group. Just like all things that are meant to happen for a reason, it changed my life and set me on my path of true healing.

Our first study was a survey of the Old Testament. My love of history and genealogy made the book of Genesis my favorite Old Testament book. Granted there are parts of this narrative that have always made me scratch my head, but what great stories of  God’s promises to his  people.

Examples of incredible faith are found in the pages of this book. Of course, Creation is the main story everyone remembers from the book of Genesis, but you’ll also find plenty of heroes and heroines. This is the beginning history of God’s chosen people, the Hebrew nation.

The story of Abraham and Sarah is a great testament of faith, and obedience. What an adventure God sent them on, and all the while he blessed them with wealth, knowledge, protection, and wisdom. Noah is a favorite of my grandsons now. I asked my four-year-old grandson, Kayden why he thought it was good to remember Noah. He didn’t know, so I told him that Noah listened to God and did what God told him. That is why we remember Noah. Kayden told me he wants to listen to God too. Yep, I’m starting them young!

Who could forget the story of Jacob? His story reminds me of the soap operas on daytime television not so long ago, the exception being that God was involved with Jacob’s life. Jacob’s youngest son, Joseph, had an equally amazing story to tell. God’s fingerprints were all over this young man from the very beginning. He had set a plan in motion from the time Joseph was born. I especially like Josephs’ story.

Everyone usually associates Joseph with his coat of many colors gifted to him by his father, Jacob. Like Joseph, my life growing up was not all roses and sunshine, and having excuses to hold grudges or unforgiveness was understandable. God had other plans for me, just like he did for Joseph. Forgiveness can be a learned experience, and blessings may come out of following God’s plan for it.

 I have continued to learn from studying my Bible. I confess I don’t do it as much as I should these days, but I will always be grateful for the invitation to attend that first small group Bible study. It set me on a good path.

Click to tweet: A small group Bible study changed my life and set me on my path of true healing. #Bible #smallgroups

Writing Prompt: Fanny Mae wanted to stay home on this rainy, chilly day. Her only reason to go out was she didn’t want to get behind in the Bible study of …………

What Makes a Cartoon Classic?

For your entertainment and enlightenment, I am interrupting our regular posting schedule to provide a look at a classic cartoon (via YouTube).

What makes a cartoon a classic, besides the obvious fact that it’s old?

Writer’s prompt: Watch this cartoon (or you can fast forward through it if you don’t have time to watch all of it).

  1. What classic elements does it contain?
  2. Can you guess the era?
  3. Is there a message?

Remember: Completing one of our Writing Prompts gains you an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments.

A Little History of Cartooning

by Betty Thomason Owens

Cartoons have been around for centuries. Even the cave dwellers drew cartoons on the walls of their caves.
Were they:

1. Documenting history?
2. Lampooning local government?
3. Entertaining the kids?
4. Drawn by kids?

Fast-forward a few years:
Woodcuts and mezzotints are used in the early printing process. Those were a bit like rubber stamps. Artists carved their cartoon or illustration backward, so when the print was made, it showed up correctly.

Long before you could attach a file or snap a shot of something and post it to Facebook or include it on your latest blogpost, illustrators and artists created cartoons. These were often political in nature. Imagine that.

Political and editorial cartoons usually express one man’s opinion–also called lampooning and often involves caricature. Have you ever had someone draw you in caricature? They will usually overemphasize and under-emphasize some of your features to make it slightly comical, but still recognizable.

512px-Lincoln_and_Johnsond

An editorial cartoon of Andrew Johnson and Abraham Lincoln, 1865, entitled “The Rail Splitter at Work Repairing the Union”

This is a well-known example of early political/editorial cartoons. Notice the detail (click on it to enlarge). As you can see, it’s hand-drawn with a pencil. Most of today’s cartoons are a lot more professional, but personally, I still love the look of pencil drawings.

Note: I’m providing links below for modern examples, since most are copyrighted and require fees for use.

800px-Benjamin_Franklin_-_Join_or_DieBenjamin Franklin was one of the earliest Indie writers. Yes, he self-published, and was best known for Poor Richard’s Almanac. He was a very busy man. When he wasn’t electrocuting keys, he wrote, taught, mentored, helped draft the Declaration of Independence, wrote books, made a fortune, printed…well, you get the picture. At a critical point in American history, he created this cartoon to encourage the colonies to join together during the French and Indian War.

Dr. Seuss Goes to War

Dr. Seuss Goes to War

Another famous cartoonist was Theodore (Ted) Geisel. You may know him better as Dr. Seuss. He drew political propaganda cartoons during World War II. He took a lot of flack for it, also, but his signature style shone through those cartoons. There is no doubt who drew them. If you’ve read many of his children’s books, you’ll know he was very concerned with politics (Butter Battle Book, for one).

As an aside, cartoonists were also utilized by the war departments of some countries including Great Britain, to work on accurate maps for bomb crews.

My Grandpa Christy was an armchair politician. He drew cartoons for local “rags” — tiny hometown newspapers. He kept a scrapbook of those. I tried to get my hands on it in time for this post, but it didn’t happen.

His favorite subjects were (then) Presidents Nixon and Johnson. Why? He loved to draw big noses. He had one. He also had big ears and the biggest smile I’d ever seen. An omnipresent smile. Mom has many pictures of Grandpa, and that smile was in all of them. Except in the picture I have of him when he was about five or so, but they were warned not to smile for photos in those days.

20150313_134209Grandpa had a great sense of humor, which is one very important requirement in a political satirist/cartoonist. Open your newspaper and turn to the editorial pages. You will probably find at least one editorial cartoon. They are almost always political in nature. They can seem snarky, even cruel. Apparently, the ruder, the better.

Political/editorial cartoons sometimes make you laugh, but more often make you think. And that’s their reason for being.

Here are the promised links to some present-day quality political and editorial cartoons:

http://www.usnews.com/cartoons

http://www.washingtontimes.com/cartoons/

http://www.newyorker.com/cartoons/daily-cartoon


Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments.

Writing Prompt: Senator Douglass opened the morning paper and was shocked to see…

 

Mythology & Folklore: Giants on the Earth

Osmar_Schindler_David_und_GoliathAs a young reader, I loved mythology. I became interested in the myths in school when we had to read them, but continued on my own. So imagine my surprise when I found the following Bible verse:

There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.–Genesis 6:4 NKJV

Could it be true? Had there really been giants on earth? Pre-flood, pre-Noah? The answer is yes. And they were men of renown. Well-known. Talked about. And why not? These were called the Nephilim, descended of angels. Later, after the flood, giants still existed in the form of the Anakim, the children of Anak, and also the Emim (Deuteronomy 2:11, 9:2 & Numbers 13:33).

Remember Goliath? He was nine feet tall. Nine. So it’s not a stretch of the imagination to believe the myths may have been based in reality. And of course, as people do, they told tales about them. Fish stories. With each telling, they became bigger, taller, stronger, more powerful. Israel’s spies in Numbers 13 were shaking in their boots. No way were they going back there. Giants lived in the land.

2013-08-25 03.55.16Folklore is the passing down of stories, myths, sung or recanted. Loveable stories like Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan. Fun to read, fun to listen to around campfires. But fiction, all the same. Blown out of proportion by the tellers, but good clean fun, most of the time.

So could these stories also be based in truth?

They never seem to lose their fascination. Moviegoers flock to the hero sagas. Thor. Hercules. Can anyone play Zeus better than Liam Neeson?

As a young reader, finding that verse in the Bible (whose words are truth) was like a door opening on a whole new existence. My imagination shifted into overdrive.  I could see how people would think those men were gods. They towered over everyone else.

I hope my ideas have inspired you to look further into the history of mankind. Search the scriptures on your own and see what you think. Are the myths based in reality?

Writing Prompt: As writers, we have a wealth of ideas thrown at us in the stories of old. What can we do with them? Pull one of them out and give it a current setting. Mix in a little romance, if you will, or a good dose of humor. Make it real. Make it your own. Be creative! Leave us a short sample in the comment section.

“Osmar Schindler David und Goliath”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Osmar_Schindler_David_und_Goliath.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Osmar_Schindler_David_und_Goliath.jpg

Betty Thomason Owens

The Flying Pioneers by Rachel Muller

WWI Air WarIt was said to be the “war to end all wars,” however, World War I only provided the fuel to ignite the world into hostile circumstances. 100 years later, we look back on the world’s history and the horrific slaughter on mankind through trench warfare, tank battalions, and the brand new contraption just taking the world by storm—the aeroplane.

In just 100 years the world has quickly developed and improved in aerodynamics. From the Wright Brothers’ first flight in 1903 to today’s manless flying machines, architects and mechanics have greatly influenced the air and space market. But how did flying evolve into what is has become today? Well, believe it or not, it all started with World War I…

Just prior to the war, England’s air fleet consisted of only 33 planes. Most of these early flying machines were made of paper, bamboo or poplar wood, and bicycle tires. Canvas skins were later used because of its durability over paper. However, Germany advanced in the field of aerodynamics and quickly developed their own effective planes that were more durable, could carry metal bodies instead of paper or canvas, and were faster than the Royal Flying Corps’ own planes.

When reconnaissance flights began, pilots were also instructed to take down Germany’s 170 balloon observation crafts. The pilots found while performing their duties they were also able to drop small bombs from the cockpit onto the enemy’s line with little threat to the pilot and the aircraft. It caused significant damage to the enemy in which they had little to no time to react. In no time at all, guns were mounted to the fuselage and synchronized with the front propeller, thus thrusting the opposing sides into a new kind of war—an air war.Bomb Dropping

Fresh and young pilots entering the RFC (some only 16 or 17 years of age) were thrown into pilot training almost immediately. Most WWI veteran pilots recorded that upon entering their quarters they were handed a pilot’s handbook and the joystick. Before the invention of simulators, a young pilot’s training was on-the-job. Sadly, over 15,000 planes and some 7,000 pilots lost their lives in training alone. By 1917, the life expectancy of a pilot was only 11 days.

The pioneers of flying endured harsh flying conditions. Due to little experiment on altitudes and air pressure, pilots made the half hour climb to 20,000 feet to find the altitude a frigid tormentor. Oxygen was sparse to none at all and the oxygen mask had not yet come into existence. Many suffered frostbite from the extreme temperatures, and air sickness due to the lack of oxygen in the blood. It was an excruciating experience for many.

If a pilot was lucky enough to live two weeks and shot down a total of 5 enemy planes, he was deemed a Flying Ace and decorated for his bravery in the skies. But most pilots never received the recognition they deserved. England’s laws prevented an Ace’s name and photo from being published in the newspapers, but when the law was lifted, a pilot, whose name did appear in the papers, became one not so popular with his peers. The English pilots believed they were a team and did not look for self-glory as the German’s had.

After the end of the first world war, people around the globe were ready to dismiss everything associated with war. The price had been too high for many. Soon pilots and their aircraft were demobilized. Many pilots were out of work and rejected from entering the army. But then something promising happened, and it was something that was catching around the globe. In 1918, the first successful airmail trip was made and inaugurated, introducing the world to the possibilities of air travel.

Since then, man’s dream of flying has become a reality and our technology continues to grow at an amazing pace, expanding our world to the limits of our imagination.

Thanks so much, Rachel, for finishing out our month of World War I…

Rachel Muller_HeadshotObsessed with World War II since the tender age of 17, Rachel Muller has been studying The Greatest Generation for 13 years and composing stories of love and war for nearly three years. After taking time to start and raise a family she has now turned her to passion—writing WWII fiction.

Her first book in her Love and War Series, Letters From Grace, won a Top 28 spot in the Harlequin/Mills & Boon So You Think You Can Write Contest (2012) where it finaled as the only historical romance in their Love Inspired line. Since then she has concentrated on re-writes and is now under review by literary agents. You can learn more about Rachel at www.racheldmuller.com or find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.