Profiles in faith James Madison

Many people, including historians, claim that Madison and the other founders as well were deists. But they do so without much evidence. But what do Madison’s own statements reveal?

“…watchful eye must be kept on ourselves lest, while we are building ideal monuments of renown and bliss here, we neglect to have our names enrolled in the Annals of Heaven.” (emphasis added)

Notice the words Annals of Heaven. This is not a deist term, but clearly speaks of heaven, whereas the word ‘annals’ would indicate a book or record. In other words, he is speaking of salvation and having our names written in the Book of Life, which is Christian in doctrine and thought.

“For men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ.”  (emphasis added)

Here he indicates a desire that men of high position be bold in their faith, even becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ! This is a strong statement and evinces a belief in personal soul winning.

On these two quotes alone we can safely surmise that Madison was a Christian not a Deist. But there is more.

Although initially opposed to amendments, he supported the idea of freedom of religion where the government does not favor one denomination over another. He wasn’t afraid of the church influencing government, but rather government establishing a national religion. Read:

“The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established.” (emphasis added)

An interesting fact was that he was inclined to have paid chaplains for Congress. As President he signed a bill that economically aided a Bible Society to distribute Bibles. Further, as President he signed proclamations for national days of prayer, fasting, and thanksgiving. These are not the actions of a Deist.

Later in life he seems to have retreated from these positions with his ‘Detached Memorandum.” However, this memorandum does not reflect his public statements and actions, which in my opinion makes one wonder if it was written by him at all. But whether it was or wasn’t the fact remains that both publicly and historically his actions were that of a believer in Christ and not that of a Deist.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Blessed is the man Part 3

“Blessed is the man that…nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful”

Psalm 1:1 has been read and memorized by countless Christians. It is a verse that gives us an outline, if you will, of the source for happiness. I have divided this verse into three parts and commented on each part in separate blogs.

In this third part we are warned not to sit in the seat of the scornful. But what does that mean? And what does it mean for the struggling author?

Parts 1 and 2 spoke of particular advice looking at the ‘who’ and the ‘what,’ but here we are looking at the attitude. I think this applies both to the person giving advice and to the one receiving advice.

There are some people who not only have unscriptural practices, but have a scornful attitude towards God. Generally speaking we are to avoid such people. It doesn’t matter whether their advice agrees with scripture or not, they are themselves ungodly. Part 1 actually warned us about such people.

So part 3 is more about us. We need to watch our attitude!

What does that mean? For starters, we should never oppose God. Sometimes even Christians develop an attitude that is in opposition to God’s will. We ask, God answers, and we refuse to accept or believe it. Sometimes because our faith is weak; sometimes because we have our sights set on our own solutions and nothing else; and sometimes we have become so frustrated that our frustration carries over into unbelief.

I have stated before to get into God’s Word. He will speak to you through it. I might add that periodically you need to take a look at yourself in the mirror of God’s Word. If you don’t like what you see, then your first priority is to change.

Attitude can prevent success or lift you up. So we need to constantly affirm our faith in God, trust Him, and do His will. Then we are ready to receive advice.

Recently I have been contemplating our marketing efforts. I have learned a lot about marketing over the course of years, but I still needed to apply that knowledge to myself. On this particular evening I was getting ready for bed when God began working on me. How do I know it was God? My spirit knew.

All of a sudden pieces of the puzzle began falling into place and by the time I closed my eyes, I had the makings of a new plan (to me). The following morning I began developing that plan. It was like my mind was on steroids or something. It was exciting and spiritual at the same time. It is not necessary to go into the plan details as they are for me alone. The important thing here is that God took time to instruct me in the way I was to go (Psalm 32:8). And I listened!

But if I had been scornful, careless, or inattentive, I may have never heard His counsel. You want to succeed as a Christian author, well God wants you to succeed also. That’s why it is so important to avoid bad attitudes. A bad attitude can keep you from hearing the most important counsel, His counsel.

So, to summarize Psalm 1:1, Don’t follow ungodly people, don’t perform ungodly practices, and watch your attitude.

 

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Writing As a Christian Service

Although we are in the midst of a series on Christian Service I thought it would be good to introduce a new series called Writing as a Christian Service. This new series will appear somewhat randomly, probably after the second or third blog of my regular series. With that in mind here is Writing as a Christian Service (we will return to our current series, Called to Serve, with our next blog).

Today we deal with the concept of Christians writing as a Service! Authorship covers many genres and categories within each genre. The concept of writing can be reduced to: writing from a Christian viewpoint.

What do I mean by Christian viewpoint?

Basically this involves the tenor of your writing. In my case I write novels that are based on Bible stories. There are such books out there that are based on Jewish or Christian views. Obviously, mine is Christian. My books may or may not be based on the Bible but all will be characterized by a Christ-centered theme. By that I mean that the reader will come across scripture pertaining to salvation. It will be a theme that runs through the entire story.

Why do I write with a Christian viewpoint?

The reasons are twofold. First, the Bible stories are true events, not children’s stories. They are about real people and real events. The stories are meant for people of all ages. And they are written to instruct not entertain!

God is not in the entertainment business. Each of His stories is meant to teach or drive home a point. A good example is the story of Noah and the Ark. This has been widely viewed as a story for children. However, the story has very little entertainment value as written. But it is highly instructive and teaches us about God’s love and provision.

My job is to take that story and weave in material that transforms it from its instructive nature to an exciting, action-based novel that awakens the imagination of the reader without losing the instructive side. Judging by my readers’ comments I have been successful!

Secondly, my job is to put God on display. The Bible already does this with great effect. So it is not as difficult as it seems except in those situations where the Bible is silent within the story, but comments on it later on. As an author I can lift those comments from the future Bible sections and insert them into the story itself. I do this with actual quotes or an imaginative conversation that is true to Biblical context.

But it is not just to put God on display. It is also to enable my readers to see and feel His love and power. I can think of no greater compliment than to learn that my novel has so impressed someone that he/she desires to read the Bible!

So in general, my Christian viewpoint is to relate Biblical stories that emphasize God’s love and power in an entertaining manner that both uplifts and convicts.

Your Christian viewpoint might be a little different. It doesn’t have to be Bible stories for example. Why not share your viewpoint. You can use the comment section or write me at information@rfrederickriddle.com.

The next blog on this subject will look at writing as a calling.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to information@RFrederickRiddle.com.

Show, Don’t Tell!

SHOW DON’T TELL!

When I first began writing I received the advice: Show, don’t tell. But what does that mean and is it good advice?

It pretty much means what it says. When writing a scene, it is often better if your character or characters describe or act out what you want the reader to see. This might mean the character’s thoughts reveal what he is seeing. Or possibly, the conversation reveals a picture of the setting. Or the action. In any case the author is unobserved and the characters are doing the telling.

Sometimes when I want the reader to see the landscape that the characters find themselves in, I reveal it through their eyes, speech, and/or action. Most of the time such an approach enhances the scene.

For example, maybe a character is approaching a house. Instead of simply describing the house, I might have the character silently admiring it. Like this, What a beautiful house! I’ve always liked homes with white picket fences. And look at the those flowers lining the sidewalk! It’s so beautiful and relaxing.

I made that up on the spur of the moment, but you get the idea. The reader’s imagination is triggered and pictures the scene. Sometimes a character can show the scene better than you can tell it.

But not always!

While that advice revolutionized my writing, I am glad that I haven’t followed it to the extreme. The simple truth is that sometimes it is warranted that the narrator (you) gets involved.

For example, in Refuge: The Genesis Chronicles I described the Majestic Mountains at least in part in a narrative form. While I did use ‘show’ from a character’s viewpoint it would have been almost impossible to describe the mountain without straining the character. In the end I did both. I described in broad, colorful terms the overall view, while later on characters were able to expand or even expound on that view.

In Perished, I described a scene introducing the death of Adam. It went like this:

‘Word spread quickly in whispers, shaking heads, and tears. Visitors walked softly. Outside the news spread house to house, to the shops and soon ships were sailing forth with the news.’

 Could I have done that through the characters? Of course I could. But it would have taken longer to get it out. This was only to set the stage for the events that followed. By opting for this approach I created a sense of action that quickly set the stage and prepared the reader – all in one paragraph.

To answer the question Is it good advice, I answer yes, with moderation. As the author you have ultimate control. A general rule of thumb would be to show not tell, but be aware that sometimes telling can be more effective.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.

First Person Point of View

Viewpoint or Point of View (POV) is critical to your story. The Point of View allows the reader to experience someone else’s (your’s or the character’s) view of the world.

 Before looking at the viewpoints let me give you another related principle: Make sure your reader knows when the character is thinking and when he is speaking. And try to avoid “he thought” or “she thought.”

 We are going to take a look at 1st Person.

 This is essentially “I”, “Me”, “Mine”. The POV is from the speaker. He/She tells the story from His/Her perspective. Personally, I don’t like this POV but I have read some excellent books using that technique.

 There are a few advantages to this viewpoint, such as:

  • Instant involvement

Because the reader is inside the character’s head all thoughts and actions are immediately known. There is no delay.

  • Language

Because the reader is inside the head and knows the thoughts of the character the reader is able to instantly know the education, and class of the character.

  • Range

How the character thinks. The reader learns a great deal about the character because every facet of his/her thinking is open to the reader.

 But there are also disadvantages; such as

  • it requires the presence of the character in virtually all scenes.

  • the character can’t keep secrets from the reader. If the character knows something, we do also.

  • you cannot include any information that the character doesn’t know. In other words, you know what the character knows. No more and no less.

  • The “I” becomes both you and the character. This can be troubling.

  • limited view. Since you only know what the character knows there is a whole world of unknowns.

First Person, in my opinion, is harder to write and to pull off. Some authors do and succeed quite well. I have read some excellent first person narratives. A recent example is The Knight by Steven James.

This is an excellent book that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. The author wrote the book in first person, so I knew everything the hero (Patrick Bowers) knew. But the author threw some third person events into the fray as well. Thus, in chapters involving the hero I knew what he knew, but in other scenes I saw more and knew more. Even so, the author kept me wondering who the villain was until almost the end of the book.

That’s quite an accomplishment for any writer. I’ve read quite a lot of books and consider myself pretty good at figuring out the villian. But by deftly mixing the first person accounts and third person accounts the author kept me from guessing the outcome.

So if you are good at the craft you can write an entertaining novel in the first person. But be forewarned: it can be unwieldy. Therefore, unless you have a great deal of experience in writing, I would recommend you stay away from it.

 

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R. Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.