"What do you want to eat?" I ask.
"Bacon Cheeseburger," he replies.
And there I knew that he was my kind of guy. I came to discover that L.B. has amazing insights in the the best burgers in the universe. And I also learned that Jack -N- the Box is really the top of the line as far as fast food is concerned. This and so much more L.B. taught me. And now I just need to persuade JnTB to open a franchise in Carroll County, Maryland.
L.B., shown in all the pictures here was an interesting dichotomy of a fellow. He could at one moment, with a string of clever jokes, have you rolling on the floor. And then, the next moment, he's offering up a wonderful prayer for the protection of our friends. His knowledge of the Bible is HUGE and his knowledge of the classics of literature is massive. If I were on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and needed to phone a friend, I would definitely call L.B..
L.B. and I grew up not too far from each other: he in Baltimore County just 20-30 minutes from me in Prince George's County, Maryland. During his youth, LB became good friends with Shane Lankford. Shane was a musical talent and, as some of you might remember from my earlier posts, became the front man for the righteous rock band Orphan Project. LB and Shane remain great friends to this day. LB told me it's really quite amazing the adventures for which God has called these two kids from Baltimore County--one a singer and composer, the other an author and pastor.
If you look at the picture above, you might think that LB had just busted out in a funky version of "New York, New York." Start spreadin' the news...Uh, nope, that's not it. LB can rock the suburbs, but he'd be the first to tell you he real rock belongs to Shane. One of the topics LB has spoken about on his blog is the creation of real characters. By real he means characters that seem like actual people. They have all the nuances that humans possess. I believe that he and I are on the same page on this topic, so I've been glad to hear his rationale. Here's LB:
First, we should remember that we do live in a moral universe and attempts to portray immoral behavior as free from consequence cuts against the grain of reality. To be sure, in the short run, sin and evil may yield pleasure, success and more. Even so, the testimony of both scripture and history is that such gains are rarely sustainable and that ultimately, those who live by such behavior often reap what they have sown.
Second, we should remember that portrayals of characters with ‘good morals’ doesn’t mean a book is Christian. Many people have high moral standards and portray as much in their stories. We can certainly say that the moral standards of a book or story are consistent with Christianity, but that doesn’t make the book Christian. This doesn’t mean we don’t read it; it simply means that high moral standards is insufficient to demonstrate a story is “Christian.”
Third, the portrayal of sin in realistic terms, and even the attribution of sinful struggles and moral failures to key characters, even good ones, doesn’t necessarily prove the author condones such behavior. The attitude of the writer toward the behavior of his characters can be tricky to determine. Many writers stand back from their stories and refrain from obvious comment on the good or bad that is done, allowing the actions to speak for themselves and the story to reveal the consequences of choices made. This isn’t moral cowardice or neutrality, but rather, artful storytelling.
At the end of the day, I don’t see many Christian fiction writers leaving much doubt that they believe God’s standards for human behavior are both good and right. What I do see is a certain level of discomfort if characters portrayed in some way as “good” are given significant moral struggles or weaknesses. I hope this will change and that audiences and authors alike will embrace a redemptive rather than a moralistic view of stories - both their own and the one’s they read.
And to end, take a look at these cool covers. Very stylized and old-school to be sure. Notice the distinct lack of photoshopping! Very artistic. But to me, these covers just scream out about a cool story to be had within. Which cover do you like the most, or put another way, which cover makes you most want to read? Why?