Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Human Rights in Egypt: New Egypt Cannot Thrive on Old Ways

St. Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria

The best reporting guidelines apply: report, verify; do not assume or editorialize.    
     Recent newsworthy events from Egypt require reporting that informs as accurately and dispassionately as possible, with historical or background information that connects with new events. 
     This is the case with Coptic Christian history, which goes back to followers of Christ in ancient Egypt. That was the time of St. Mark's teaching and witness there.   
   Attacks against Copts occurred recently after their peaceful protests* to express concerns over a church burning. Terror and massacre followed. The violence carried out by the new military system reflects religious and sectarian persecution of Coptic believers in Christ, one group within the Christian religious minority in Egypt.
    Boutros Boutros-Ghali, a former Secretary General of the United Nations, was known to be a Coptic Christian. then as now. The term Coptic refers to cultural as well as religious influences, including definitive art. Before this year's Arab spring protests, Copts lived in relative freedom with protection under former President Mubarak, as did Muslims and Jews. (After the spring protests, attended by some Jews, many Jews left Egypt, fearing the future in Egypt.)        
     As of today, the post-Mubarak leadership in Egypt has extended an olive branch of peace and fairness to the head of the Coptic church. Many are watching to see what happens into the future of a new Egypt trying to rise out of a population still holding on to sectarian favoritism and inability to live peacefully with differences. 

     * It is an outrage what has happened....May the people of Egypt come to see the tragedy the other week not just as a crime against Christians but as a crime against Islam too - no true religion can contemplate this kind of horror." --Australia's Opposition Leader,Tony Abbott (see link "Protest in Sydney..." below, to read full report)

Copyright (c)2011 Opinari Writers
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Refugee Dreams: Liberian Author in America, Mogama

Twitter @opinaripeople

Disturbing dreams about guns and killings briefly appear in forthcoming book REFUGEE WAS MY NAME by Mogama (Moses Garswa Matally). He based his book on his journal of civil war in Liberia and life in Buduburam Refugee Camp in Ghana. The dreams reflected the nightmarish events the author went through because of civil war in his homeland, Liberia, starting in 1990. 
     Mogama told a roommate in the refugee camp about one significant dream, and the roommate asked him what he thought it meant. Mogama reflected on the three main warring factions that were tearing up their homeland, Liberia. He then told the meaning that he foresaw, about people in the dream and future leaders in Liberia: 

The driver represents a ruler of Liberia, but someone other than the three. He despises the three fighters, but he too is unfit to lead the nation. He is just as impatient and power-hungry as the factions he will try to keep under control. He will be highly influenced by a woman, or perhaps will be replaced by a woman, who, due to her maturity, becomes the actual leader of Liberia. The warning in the dream is this: Outbreaks of fighting will continue for some time in Liberia. Peace will eventually come, but it is still in the distance.”

     Should a Christian writer include such a dream in a book, as Mogama did in his new book, Refugee Was My Name? Is it accepted by most readers? I think that what most writers include in personal stories are potent memories, and readers understand and even sympathize with this fact. It is like seeing a movie and being touched by it for different reasons. For Mogama, a real world outcome years later closely resembled his nightmare dream as a refugee...with a hopeful ending. Many writers have life-affecting experiences of suffering that include dreams that retell, warn, inform, or give insight to the dreamer.
     What reminded me of this dream vignette from Mogama's book is that the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a Liberian peace activist and Liberia's first woman president. I have found this news to be especially interesting because Mogama's dream interpretation in his book included that a women would lead Liberia out of its civil war pains.
     Recently, Liberia's slow climb out of the pit of civil war has been in the news more.     People that help through churches or organizations care about the future of this country they may never visit. Refugees of that war care deeply and rejoice to see awake hopes and dreams being given a chance to be fulfilled.

Follow above Links to Guardian UK and ABC news blogs.
Excerpt from Refugee Was My Name by permission of publisher, Opine Publishing, the sponsor of this blog.

Copyright (c)2011 Opinari Writers
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Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Thinking Christian: Thought and Faith

by Jean Purcell 
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Mere ChristianityImage via WikipediaTo be called "Christian" has to do with belief, which has to do with both heart and mind. The mind is inseparable from faith. Faith includes intention. Believers at the head of Christian times knew that mind and heart are one..."thoughts and intentions of the heart." They would never have put thought aside, or reason. They relied on both as gifts of God (e.g., "think on these things"-emphasis added). 
     Emotionalism unfortunately is misunderstood or used falsely and even theatrically in what we might call faux experience. Yet, feelings like jubilation and joy can be and are extremely real for those fortunate to know them. The results immediately following Pentecost come to mind..."they are drunk!" And so they seemed, being filled to overflowing with the nectar of the freedom of God's Spirit.
    This is cause for rejoicing over many things, including the freedom to choose, to believe, to act, and to think. Martin Luther knew this when he wrote, "the body they may kill," when the church was being persecuted, and by religious leaders, no less. "God's truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever" finished Luther's argument. Those who believe that Christ came, lived, died, rose, and is coming again...rely on truth through a knowing and hidden faith. The faith is hidden to those who resist it as so many, including myself for a long time, do. However, when the mind willingly opens even to the possibility of God being, then all sorts of unseen things can be very near being seen. Each step closer in thought, reason, and intention is earth-shaking. If only we want to see...with the mind and the heart...

Recommended books about faith:
Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
The Mourner's Comforter by C. H. Spurgeon
Faith by C. H. Spurgeon

Copyright (c)2011 Opinari Writers and Jean Purcell
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Friday, October 07, 2011

Writing a personal book: Emotional challenges

At this point during Jury Duty, about 50 rando...Image via Wikipedia-a jury selection--commons license. wiki/File Do all personal experience authors have the same challenges when writing about their lives?  Maybe the first hardest thing to do is different for each one, or for most. If you are thinking about writing your story, what is your biggest challenge now? I'm interested to know. E-mail:
     What does your life experience have in common, for example, with the Henry Fonda character in the movie, Twelve Angry Men? He was a regular guy, serving on a murder case jury. He was not the foreman, and he was not the loudest, youngest, handomest, or richest juror. We don't know about his education, profession, or family. We did learn, watching the movie or play, that he had one thing more than everyone else on the jury: conviction about the case. He thought and felt deeply about seemingly small yet potentially serious flaws in the evidence presented to prosecute the murder case before the jury. And he never gave up trying to get jurors to think it through, to help find why something did not fit. He convinced the jury, one person at a time, of reasonable doubt. They voted "not guilty," although at the beginning they had leaned heavily toward a "guilty" verdict. Those facts alone, however, would not make drama. It was how they were shown that made words, characters, script and film...classic.
    Your story has equal, although not the same, dramatic interest, with early assumptions, successes, failures, misunderstandings, loss or disappointment, dreams, changing minds, change of mind, biases, and influences of other people, happenings, and beliefs. Every life--yours or someone you want to write about--has those or equally challenging parts, and so it's true if you envision a book about significant times of transformation in human experience. Are you aware of the exact positives that your story--the one you want to write--has? Let me know. Let me share your comments--anonymously, if you wish--with other writers who want to know. 

Copyright (c)2011 Opinari Writers and Jean Purcell
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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Personal Narrative is personal and First-person Narrative is fictionally so

There is a need to clear up any confusion about the difference between a personal narrative and a first-person narrative.
     Personal narrative usually refers to a true story or recounting of events, giving form and interpretation about one's personal experience and perspectives on it. Personal narratives are nonfiction, also called memoir or autobiography (when the story covers the life, not one central time of life).  The one who experienced the events is telling the story, a personal story of immense personal proportions, enough to push the writer to tell it. One of my favorites is the very experienced and illustrious writer, now deceased, Eudora Welty, whose works are a remarkable legacy. Her personal narrative is her memoir, One Writer's Beginnings.

     First-person narrative usually refers to the perspective of the teller of a story told as fiction. The observer and/or participant of the novel, for example, is telling the story. The Sense of an Ending is fiction written in first person. I cannot comment further, not having read it. Maybe I will soon. You can read about in on, where there are numerous reviews. 
     Otherwise, fiction requires a straight narrative told by  the "hidden" speaker, the writer. One follows words to follow multiple characters and events. Unlike the first-person, there are few limitations on time and place and characters involved.
     Some fiction writers show the main character's perspective in straight narrative, telling the character's thoughts and impressions. After all, the writer knows the character. Other character perspectives can be shown, in one book or story, usually in separate chapters or sections.

Copyright (c)2011 Jean Purcell and Opinari Writers. Permission to quote or use with attribution.

Copyright (c)2011 Opinari Writers Network
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