29 April 2010

The accidental sex toy check

Jaine Fenn, whose Consorts of Heaven I reviewed for Interzone last year, admits that before she submits a manuscript for publication she Googles all the invented words in her story to check that they don’t have unexpected meanings. You can find out why she calls it the 'accidental sex toy check’ here.

This strikes me as an eminently sensible idea. For example, it might have saved Guy Gavriel Kay from naming one of the characters in his Fionavar Tapestry . . . Aileron! A more recent example: I really enjoyed reading Mark Newton’s Nights of Villjamur, but I did a double-take when I saw the name he had given an Imperial residence: Balmacara. For all I know, he may have chosen the name deliberately, but in my mind Balmacara is indelibly linked with the Kyle of Lochalsh, Plockton and a BBC TV series featuring a pot-smoking policeman and a West Highland terrier!

28 April 2010

Thought for the day: joy

From the Principles of the Third Order of the Society of Saint Francis:
Tertiaries, rejoicing in the Lord always, show in our lives the grace and beauty of divine joy. We remember that we follow the Son of Man, who came eating and drinking, who loved the birds and the flowers, who blessed little children, who was a friend to tax collectors and sinners and who sat at the tables of both the rich and the poor. We delight in fun and laughter, rejoicing in God’s world, its beauty and its living creatures, calling nothing common or unclean. We mix freely with all people, ready to bind up the broken-hearted and to bring joy into the lives of others. We carry within us an inner peace and happiness which others may perceive, even if they do not know its source.

27 April 2010

Good news for Scottish theology

I’ve just heard that Tom Wright has retired as Bishop of Durham and been appointed as Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St Andrews. His appointment further strengthens an already first-rate divinity school, which can already boast folk like Richard Bauckham, David Brown, Trevor Hart and Alan Torrance.

26 April 2010

Thought for the day: a living world

I have recently been re-reading Leonardo Boff’s Francis of Assisi: A Model for Human Liberation as part of my research for a book on Franciscan spirituality. Strangely, I was much more impressed with it this time than I was during my first reading of it many years ago. Perhaps it’s one of those books you have to grow into. Anyway here is a short sample that implicitly contrasts the Franciscan world-view with the dead world of post-Cartesian materialism:
the Franciscan world is full of magic, of reverence, of respect. It is not a dead and inanimate universe; things are not tossed here, within the reach of possessive appetites of hunger; nor are they placed one beside another. They are alive and have their own personality; they have blood ties with humanity; they live in the same Father’s house as humanity. And because they are brothers and sisters, they cannot be violated, but rather must be respected. It is from this that Saint Francis, surprisingly, but consistent with his nature, prohibits the brothers from cutting any tree at the roots, that they might bud again. (p. 31)