Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nora Ephron (1941-2012) Delightful in Words

Seven Second Delay - Live @ UCB Theater 9/23/09
Ephron at right_Seven Second Delay - Live @ UCB Theater 9/23/09 (Photo credit: jvdalton)

Writer and dramatist Nora Ephron left the world scene yesterday from a NYC hospital where loving family and friends stayed close by, at her passing. What they will miss--borrowing words from her writing--is her visible presence and interaction in their lives. What many of us will miss, from a distance, is just knowing she's here and writing. We have enjoyed her person and words, sharing characters and places, bringing stories to life in hilarious, gentle, and suspenseful ways. 
     Nora Ephron gave much of herself through autobiographical narratives, dialogues, monologues, and stories. We, admirers of her talent and of her, feel sad that long illness did cut off her life and writing; yet, she gave no hint of question or complaint, at least in public, where she shared much of her life, yet never without humor to help us get through the bad with her. She did not complain, but cryptically, it now seems, revealed some hints of illness in her last book, where she thanked her doctor. It's something one might do after a successful operation, so gave even colleagues no reason to guess that her message meant more.  
     Watching her movies and news about her life through the years and from a distance, it seemed that she always closely entwined her life and her writing. She never seemed to hide herself from getting on with either. In spite of the heartburn of heartbreak, she moved from Washington, DC, to New York City with two young children (now adults) to start anew. Part of her heartache in the nation's capital included personal items about her ending marriage, much of it splashed in The Washington Post's sometimes too-clever Style section due to her husband's too-public personal actions.
     She raised her boys and also married again. She kept working, of course, and her writing stabbed our hearts, hearts that so willingly permitted the joyous worries we shared vicariously with "When Harry Met Sally, "Got Mail," "Sleepless in Seattle," and many more you surely remember, if you're a fan. And of course you are, too! 
     Big movie names were made all the more shining than ever through close proximity to any of her works, humorous takes on young love, often, which everyone can be drawn to. I believe there are similarly talented and funny and serious writers, as yet unfound or not quite yet having found the space, time, and exact groove. I hope for that one, at least, to keep working on their own special ways of delighting people on paper and in the movies. When one such writer's road ends, we need another, at least one, to help us laugh in somewhat the same warm, teary, entertaining ways.  
     Some of us feel a sharp stab when writers think that obscenities and blasphemies can pass for writing or humor, a sharp stab when writers fill spaces with slush rather than a thesaurus search. Nora Ephron may have allowed her characters to speak unthinkingly due to their fictional clueless-ness, in ways we might not do, but not due to writing done without care. 
     You could tell she waited to find the best words and combinations that drew her. Not perfect writing (whose is?): Ultra-exceptional writing meant to entertain us in our times.  
     Writing this, I feel timid moments coming on: What if I'm using some phrase she detested, some simple linking of words that made her shudder? Would she, if she read them, be anything but tolerant about that? What do you think?
     It's selfish, but I'm longing for fresh delightful, shining moments that say she's still here. Countless thoughts go with and prayers are for the family and friends of the special person. Nora Ephron's words remain with us, and the movies. Don't forget the movies.  

Here are some Nora Ephron book titles: Crazy Salad, Heartburn (also movie)
I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, Scribble Scribble, I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections 

Copyright (c)2012 Opinari Writers

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Greece and Willing Surrender to Discovery

To climb to top of Mars' Hill. Photo Creative Commons License Nathan Gibbs.
One theme that attracts me is the natural elements that overflow with indications of willing surrender from which we can learn. This kind of surrender is not giving up or giving in. It is a yielding to what is intended to be the true state. Even hard stone surrenders to chipping, cutting, and even crushing, to make way or to make something fresh.

Surrender can be frightening, and willing surrender is even more so. Yet, from this yielding come many of life's extraordinary events and achievements.

The plain stone stairway (photo may not appear upper right at all times) leads upward to the site of a historic and spiritual place for Greek people. The stairway blends nature because it took form in industrious human hands. Greece's natural stone reflects variations of light and shade in a plan that moves in a narrowing and widening way, upward. These  humble stones lead to Athens' Mars' Hill, featuring idols and gods, such as Ares, Zeus, and Mars with altars to them, plus an altar to the unknown god.

Mars' Hill's altars attracted the attention of a first century follower of Christ, Paul of Tarsus, Syria, who climbed those stone steps to the top of Mars' Hill*. Having reached the top, Paul surrendered himself to what the place offered, points of discussion for the philosophers and debaters with him there.

He got to this place of philosophic discussion and debate because he had been waiting in Athens for friends that were traveling to join him there. Being an observant man, he took note of Athens' abundantly public references to idolatry and to the Athenians' love of debate and questioning. "His spirit was stirred within him," says the record,* and he began to converse in an Athenian synagogue with other Jews, his people, as well as people in the marketplace.  

Stoics, Epicureans, and others took note and began to interrogate him. They finally forced him to go with them up to Mars' Hill, a center for public debates and a place of altars to their gods. The more the philosophers continued to accuse and question Paul there, the more willingly he gave himself up to the opportunity to speak of God and His Son, the Christ, Χριστός, Christos. When he urged them to surrender willingly also to faith in God through Christos, many responded Yes. He had identified the unknown God, now knowable through the Son of the living God.  

Descendants of some who said Yes that day--such as Dionysius, a judge of the Aeropagus, and a woman named Damaris, and others" *--are among today's Christians of all of Greece (Athens, Corinth, and the other places), and Greek people who have migrated to other countries and regions.  

If Paul, earlier known as Saul, of Tarsus, had not willingly surrendered himself to Christ (Acts 9:1-19) and to the Holy Spirit's guidance that led him abroad, including to Athens and the stirring of his inner spirit there, much would have been missed, opportunity lost. Paul's willing submission to where he was and waiting for his friends led ultimately to Mars' Hill. The record of that time redounds to God's glory and faith among Greek people, culture, and history, and throughout the world of Christendom.   

We cannot become sure of realities without the searching that leads us forward and upward. Without willing surrender, we only think, imagine, speculate, wonder, suspect, debate, or doubt within tight limitations. We cannot enter into the discoveries beyond imagination that bring good change into individual lives and entire generations in the future.    

In Thessalonica, a  "great number of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women"* joined with Paul of Tarsus, later an apostle of Jesus Christ. Later, he wrote to his Greek brothers and sisters of faith--including those in Corinth, Colosse, and Thessalonica. He knew what they were going through, persecuted by the world of their towns and country. His letters were heartfelt. 

After willing surrender to the marvels of God, the next most wonderful is the willing surrender to love brothers and sisters in Christ and to grow in communion with them. 

* Bible, book of Acts, 17th chapter; quoted words from The Amplified Bible

In this year 2012, Greece suffers  economic and social turmoil; those living in Greece who believe in the living Christ--as Paul and certain Mars' Hill hearers did ("many clung to him [Paul] and believed" **)--can discover more about faith, hope, and love as they walk with the living Lord today.This willing surrender to Χριστός, Christos, leads to discoveries yet to come. 

Today in Thessalonica (Thessaloniki), Greece: Mayor Yiannis Butaris, a chemist and oenologist (wine and wine-making expert), has expressed concerned confidence about possibilities for the city beyond present-day difficulties. Another example, I opine, of willing surrender to the tasks for purposes of discovery--how a people can make their city better for the long-term view.   

**--see Acts 17:34--King James Version of the Bible (KJV)  
About one Middle Ages Greek church

Text copyright (c)2012 Opinari Writers
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Friday, June 15, 2012

My Style of Writing_Writ Shorter

English: Sources of Allt Mharconaich Meeting G...
"...Going north from Coire Mharconach watershed I was so glad to find a watercourse to follow as the going was rough going."(Wikipedia) Opinari Writers: A writer's landscape may have bumpy, dry, and isolated places; it's good to remember its hidden streams, verdant spots, blue sky, and light.
English: Dean Batali teaching at writing meeting.
Dean writing meeting. (Wikipedia)
Pageant of American Literature, Hawthorne study
Pageant of American Literature, Hawthorne study (CT State Library)
Words have a power all their own
Words have a power all their own (Lynne Hand)
Words (sirwiseowl)
Russian writer Sergey Lukyanenko meets his rea...
Moscow: Sergey Lukyanenko meets his readers. (Wikipedia) Opinari Writers: I write about other writers and events from around the world.
Writer's Stop
Pageant of American Literature, view 3
Opinari Writers: American heritage in writing (and steamboat in background), painted by Karl La Roche, Stamford, Connecticut (CT): Wm. Dean Howells (seated), Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Eugene O'Neill, Carl Sandburg,  Sinclair Lewis, and a local audience. Remembering the reader connection. Pageant of American Literature, view 3 (CT State Library)  
It's time to state--in 150, 75, 50, and 25 words--what I do as a writer

Two versions of my Final Statement (word-count goal up to 25 words)

Second version of Final Statement of "what I do": 

I report and probe for avid readers of commentary on history, literature, politics, writing, religion. 

First version of Final Statement:  
I report, inquire, and probe for avid readers of commentary (history, literature, politics, and/or religion) that includes biblical background or interpretation.
JP_In all statements prior to the final-final, I forgot how much I also write about aspects of writing, an obvious topic! I remedied this in the final-final. We can easily forget the obvious, right?

Cutting and trimming of text are invaluable options that help writers "write shorter." The final statements  developed from the longer versions, equally helpful to my thinking about this self-driven exercise, which i encourage writers to do and update: 

40 words or fewer
I am a column writer for avid, busy readers with interests in news and events commentary, as well as history, literature, politics, and/or religion. I mention biblical sources in most articles. I like to report, inquire, and probe.   

75 words or fewer
I am a nonfiction writer in the public square. I write for an audience with a layperson’s eye to history, literature, politics, and religion. Sometimes, I write commentary.

I calmly question, probe, and report briefly for avid, busy readers. I try to present differently something happening close to home or far away. When I need to use researched material, I supply one or more sources, with biblical sources used often.

Started here @140-word maximum
I am a nonfiction writer wanting good space in the public square. I write for an audience interested in another perspective with an eye to history, literature, politics, and religion; I often include biblical references for open-minded readers. Increasingly, I write commentary.

I like to question, probe, and report briefly on a range of topics for avid readers on the go. There’s a wide range of subjects and themes I might want to cover, some more than once. I keep in the back of my mind how to present differently.

What catches my writer's eye can be happening close to home or far away; it's whatever I want to shine a light on in some to-be-determined, but fast, way. When I need to quote or use researched material, I supply one or more sources.  


For your writing style statement, experimentation helps, I think. It can begin, as done here, with 140 words and end with 25 words or less. Let me know how it goes, if you experiment with this too. I use the word "style" because it includes foresight, intention, imagination, concrete materials, and formation.

Text Copyright (c)2012 Opinari Writers

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Syria Solutions

English: Arab_League_(orthographic_projection)
English: Arab_League_(orthographic_projection) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Regarding Syrian children and adult civilians being used by government military as human shields:
     It takes more than a UN List of Shame.
It takes more than U.S. proclamations of disgust and disfavor. 
     It might need Arab League intervention efforts now. 10 PM/EST update_AL offer rejected by Syria_6/13/12.
     It might require what other civilian armies of civil wars have used --non-national military helpers.
     The U. S. Department of State is expressing formal concerns and, most recently, strong disfavor. Solid action is needed, yet what kind? Could it start, at the least, with independent U. S. end to military helicopters now going to Syrian government from Russia. Helicopters are made by the same supplier for U. S. military, Department of Defense, according to reports* on this under-reported part of the Syria story. Hillary Clinton does give U. S. endorsement for Arab League plan.  

The most pressing human issue is mostly on the ground, as civilians, including children, are being arrested, tortured, and killed by Syrian military, and others are used as human shields.
     Yet, the facts still are not convincing the above entities what is not only do-able but workable. One hopes for some brainstorm among the international leaders...aware of inevitable intensification with any action that might be taken. I have edited this more in effort to face the realities, while still hoping the powers might go beyond talk to some, even one, action to push against, to thwart, or to seriously damage. 

Many are praying for the people of Syria.

Note on another side: Opposition forces and Christians in Syria: Qusayr (Agenzia Fides) - The Christian Maurice Bitar was killed in Qusayr, near the town of Homs where the Christian population - about a thousand people out of 10 thousand who lived there before the beginning of the violence - has been forced to flee after the 'ultimatum launched by an armed faction in the opposition forces led by General Abdel Salam Harba (see Fides 09/06/2012).

Text copyright (c)2012 Opinari Writers
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Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Crépuscule sur Dublin
Crépuscule sur Dublin (Photo credit: FroZman)

Waking up at home after four days of travel. Today, schedule free. Expecting a family friend for dinner tonight and enjoying time all together on the back porch.  

But first, this morning, in the Now. Waking up thoughts tumble quickly along. Thankfulness for the day. Then remembering a conference call coming in, but not mine, thankfully. Lingering over good coffee, toast, and strawberry jam. A British sort of breakfast.  

Against habit, bedroom TV on, looking for a possible morning devotional on EWTN, finding their live broadcast from a Dublin outdoor arena. Carl A. Anderson, leader of Knights of Columbus (established around 1467), is speaking. Listening to him while files update and FireFox connects on laptop. 

Increasingly attuned to this thinking Christian, Carl A. Anderson, I realize his topic is culture and real humanity. There's a pattern of eloquence, disallowing detours into trite or flowery language.    

Laptop ready for checking mail and blogs as Breda O'Brien, an Irish religion and culture columnist and commentator, follows next on EWTN.

Dublin conference audience take a break, so I see a quick report that the DOW has opened, up about 45 points.  
TV off.  

Mind, stop rambling. The day: get to it.

Reflections: Thanks to God for safe return from sweet reunions over a long weekend. Glad to have brought back my mother's desk from one of my brothers' homes. The drop-leaf desk a familiar item in my growing up years with my mother and dad, brothers, grandmother....  

More later, perhaps, about things from the desk, including a letter I wrote to my mother two months before I got married, one month before college graduation. I anticipated loneliness in first year of marriage, due to being far from the familiar of home and home territory and with a new marriage to a husband studying for master's degree while I would be teaching, my first teaching year. Mother marked the plain envelope (suggests I handed it to her) "Very special," in her familiar handwriting. It is very special to me, and I brought it to my home along with her desk. I also brought something she wrote on a small piece of paper. Her thoughts of God. 

All of that activity and discovery with the desk was yesterday, when husband and I returned home after a night's hotel rest to break the hours of driving from there to here. 

Now, a new day, starting again at home. Gratitude for rest, life, memories, and today.  


Copyright (c)2012 Opinari Writers
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Friday, June 01, 2012

Human Rights in America: Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act

Elie Wiesel writer and spokesman on Holocaust ...
Elie Wiesel writer and spokesman on Holocaust issues addresses the US Congress (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cover of "Something Beautiful for God: Mo...
Cover via Amazon
Night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bonhoeffer-1932 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In every human era there are people, groups, or regimes that swing fierce opposition against those that defend the vulnerable. ~ Opinari

America's historical belief in the intrinsic value of every human life remains in ICU. The recent failure of Congress to prevent gender-selection abortions brought more bad news.      
       However, the conscience of America, once fully awakened in this matter, will reject attacks against human life in utero. The popular success of a woman's rights against an unborn child's rights will end.  
     Slavery proponents used concerns over the economy and cotton growers. The Nazi regime defended genetic engineering experimentation and human engineering as steps "to 'improve' the human race." 
     When a full autopsy is done on this American era of abortion "for any or no reason" and of post-abortion abandonment of babies that survive, the body of its politics will be cut wide open; there will have been reached, finally, the end of this particular era of death of the most defenseless life in America. Pro-choice arguments, "the right of a woman to choose life or death for another human being," are eerily reminiscent of the kind of erroneous thinking behind pro-slavery arguments: "think of the cotton industry and an entire economy, south and north" (such predictions said that an end to slavery would send the south and possibly the nation into unimaginable spirals of imbalance and need). That kind of argument is used to defend "a woman's right to choose," euphemistically now called "women's health"; that kind of argument will be thoroughly rejected, seen as an excuse for convenience or a yielding to fears brought on by pressures upon women at their most vulnerable times...unwanted pregnancies.    
     The irrefutable fact in recent science in this matter is that early in development every unborn human being has recordable, unique, human DNA. This scientific evidence of the person that lives in the womb of every pregnant human female is the most recent true fact to emerge. Abortion "providers" and the profits they gain from steady streams of abortion clients will end, and will be seen, eventually, as a return to sanity regarding the innocent and the most vulnerable of humanity.

The House Bill that failed under suspension, May 31, 2012: H.R. 3541: Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) of 2012
More information about Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act and HR votes. 

Persons named in photos: Elie Wiesel, a Jewish survivor of Nazi death camps, activist and prolific writer/public speaker. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Photo; author of Life Together and other books), spoke out in his homeland, Germany, against the Nazi regime, which imprisoned and killed him. Mother Theresa (Photo: book cover, Something Beautiful for God by Malcolm Muggeridge); born Macedonia; rescued and nurtured ill and disabled outcasts in Calcutta, India and around the world.
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