All Posts in “Writing & Publishing”

The New Bible-for Secular Humanist

Bonnie Ponce

The Secular Bible – Click here to read the whole story.

This makes me sad that someone has written a “bible” for all the non-religious people, though A. C. Grayling claims that there is something there for everyone.

“The question arose early in British academic A.C. Grayling’s career: What if those ancient compilers who’d made Bibles, the collected religious texts that were translated, edited, arranged and published en masse, had focused instead on assembling the non-religious teachings of civilization’s greatest thinkers?

What if the book that billions have turned to for ethical guidance wasn’t tied to commandments from God or any one particular tradition but instead included the writings of Aristotle, the reflections of Confucius, the poetry of Baudelaire? What would that book look like, and what would it mean?

Decades after he started asking such questions, what Grayling calls “a lifetime’s work” has hit bookshelves. “The Good Book: A Humanist Bible,” subtitled “A Secular Bible” in the United Kingdom, was published this month. Grayling crafted it by using more than a thousand texts representing several hundred authors, collections and traditions.”

This bible is a collection of the greatest human philosophies from the east and west and there are probably some interesting or even inspiring ideas but the problem is that they are from men. I believe that the Holy Bible is completely inspired by God that his ideas were put onto parchments and scrolls by men but they were God’s words. I feel that this bible written by Grayling will lead people that have never read the Holy Bible into thinking they are of equal importance.

What do you think?  What impact will it have on our culture?

Bonnie Ponce is the Director of Support Raising for Relief and lives in Huntsville, Texas with her husband and betta fish.  She has a BA in English from Sam Houston State University.  After work she enjoys relaxing with a good book or working on her novel.

CA Redemption Value

Michael Dean Clark

Some thoughts on trash:

A homeless man in his fifties pulls aluminum cans from the trash barrel in front of the Ralphs Supermarket where I shop. He’s clearly no amateur. What catches my attention this morning is not the act itself. He’s not the only person I’ve seen scavenging to get by today. This is Ocean Beach after all.

What arrests my general distraction is the way he cleans as he pulls the cans out of the refuse, taking time to pick the cigarette butts out of the ash tray on the top of the stone-speckled trash barrel, dropping them one by one into the bag as if to earn the recycling fees others didn’t bother taking the time to redeem.

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When I was a reporter in Los Angeles, I worked for a newspaper that covered the Puente Hills Landfill in a strip of unincorporated county land that was once most likely a dairy farm. Now, it’s America’s largest trash heap at 150 meters tall and covering more than 700 acres. I once covered a meeting where officials discussed the rate at which the massive trash mountain was summiting the space allotted to it. At one point in the meeting, a plan to ship the region’s trash by rail into the Nevada desert was discussed, though not seriously. Apparently, the same objection came up every time the concept was mentioned. It’s less expensive (and thus, more profitable) to continue with the current business model until it is no longer viable.

No word on how viable the people of Nevada find the alternative.

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I love family stories, especially the ones from before I was born. Apparently, there was a DIY trend in the early 70s where particularly resourceful interior design types would piece together area rugs from a number of smaller pieces of (hopefully) corresponding color, though I did mention this was the 70s, right? In my mind’s eye, it’s like a shag quilt. All one needed were the remainders of other pieces of plush pile or low nap and the desire to turn said scraps into one Franken-rug.

My parents apparently harbored said desire, which is why, on more than one occasion, you could find my older brother in the dumpster behind a carpet store. I’m told the results were lovely, though no pictures exist as confirmation.

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I may be over-simplifying, but as I relive these scenes I can’t help but see the writing in them all.

Michael Dean Clark is the fiction editor at Relief, as well as an author of fiction and nonfiction and an Assistant Professor of Writing at Point Loma Nazarene University. He lives in San Diego with his wife and three children.

Vintage Rejection

Stephanie Smith

Rejection always hurts, but this publisher seems particularly hard to please! This vintage rejection slip is from the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company (1907-1925), who is famous for their production of Charlie Chaplin movies (Photo originally posted on NPR). I’m not sure if my writing, or much modern writing at all for that matter, would pass muster! Which reason for rejection do you find most surprising, amusing, appalling? One of my favorites…see #6 for a good laugh.

But to keep you from getting too discouraged, here are a few excerpts from rejection letters of now beloved and classic works,  from publishers who probably still have their foot stuck in their mouths…

Lord of the Flies by William Golding…“an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.”

The Deer Park by Norman Mailer…“This will set publishing back 25 years.”

The Diary of Anne Frank“The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.”

On Writings by Anais Nin…“There is no commercial advantage in acquiring her, and, in my opinion, no artistic.”

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame…“an irresponsible holiday story.”

Stephanie S. Smith graduated from Moody Bible Institute with a degree in Communications and Women’s Ministry, which she now puts to work freelancing as a book publicist and writer through her business, (In)dialogue Communications, at www.stephaniessmith.com. After living in Chicago for four years, traveling to Amsterdam for a spell, and then moving back home to Baltimore to plan a wedding, she now lives with her husband in Upstate New York where they make novice attempts at home renovation in their 1930s bungalow. She writes for www.startmarriageright.com and manages Moody Publishers’ blog, www.insidepages.net.

Book Review: Brian Spears’ “A Witness in Exile”

Brian Spears

By Alan Ackmann

Brian Spears, whose debut book of poetry A Witness in Exile was published earlier this year by Louisiana Literature press, is no stranger to long-time readers of Relief, having won the editor’s choice prize for poetry back in issue 2.2 for his poem “Hall Raising”. Although the poem published in that issue didn’t make the final cut of the book itself, many of its themes are revisited in A Witness in Exile, and handled in a way that Relief readers will probably find sincere and compelling.

Keep reading for the full review!

Violence and Grace

Stephanie Smith

In my favorite novels, it seems that the characters come to the moment of illumination only after being confronted with great violence.  When Jane Eyre finds her former home and master have suffered a fire in her absence, the agony of separation inspires her to the realization that she loves Mr. Rochester.  In The Lord of the Flies, it takes the death of a comrade for Ralph to understand that the boys on the island have lost their childhood innocence.  And it is not until author Annie Dillard wrestles with the life-altering plane accident of a small girl (in Holy the Firm) that she sees God’s goodness in a crazy world.

It seems to be human nature to have thick heads that only extreme circumstances can penetrate.  In a state of comfort, we are sometimes too relaxed, too unmindful to learn what our lives actually depend on.  But if our child unexpectedly gets sick, our husband is laid off, or our friend is going through a messy divorce, suddenly our senses are awakened and sharpened in a way that lets us experience life a little clearer.

In the face of violence or tragedy, our daily concerns rearrange themselves according to an eternal reality.  When something goes suddenly wrong, the urgency of the situation mercifully clears away any petty anxieties that once occupied us.  And that is some small grace.  I remember last year driving home from a funeral of a friend I’d known from elementary school, and finding myself suddenly careless about the work I needed to catch up on and the wedding planning I had been stressing over. Instead I wondered whether or not I spent enough time with the people I loved, and then hurried home so I would make it in time for family dinner.

Shauna Niequist, in Cold Tangerines, writes, “You pray for honest, gritty, and tender stories, and then you pray to live through them.” The price of epiphany is often violence, and any prayer beginning with, “God, change me…” is a dangerous one.  Anyone who has ever prayed to know our Father better knows.  But with the violence we are ushered into grace, just as there is grace in the story of the Light of the World who had to suffer death and darkness before mankind could see.

Stephanie S. Smith graduated from Moody Bible Institute with a degree in Communications and Women’s Ministry, which she now puts to work freelancing as a book publicist and writer through her business, (In)dialogue Communications, at www.stephaniessmith.com. After living in Chicago for four years, traveling to Amsterdam for a spell, and then moving back home to Baltimore to plan a wedding, she now lives with her husband in Upstate New York where they make novice attempts at home renovation in their 1930s bungalow. She writes for www.startmarriageright.com and manages Moody Publishers’ blog, www.insidepages.net.