Monday, August 31, 2015

My TOB-Based Fiction

Today I thought I'd share with you my TOB-based fiction. These works range from novella to novel length, and the degree of TOB (Theology of the Body) content varies from work to work.

For those who might not know what the TOB is, I'll try to sum it up as simply as I can: the TOB is a theology developed by Pope St. John Paul II in the 1980's through a series of Wednesday Audience addresses (the traditional day that the Pope addresses the faithful in St. Peter's Square, in Rome. Usually, the Popes deliver a series of lectures on a specific topic. Pope Francis is currently discussing families.

But back to John Paul II. With an inspired look at the Gospels, JP II developed his Theology of the Body a couple of decades ago. The theology is only beginning to be understood by different clerics and theologians. Part of the problem stems from the fact that JP II was a philosophy student back in his college days, and his favorite style of philosophy was, as it happens, the same as my own field of study: Existential Phenomenology.

This is a difficult type of philosophy to understand and to use and a tool: it mainly uses the dialectical method, (cf. Hegel, et al) and it involves positing the existence of the real world objects (not an obvious thing in philosophy) and trying to find Truth by examining the subject's interplay between concepts and their corresponding real world entities.

As Edmund Husserl pointed out, this is most easily done by using a process of "enframing" where the object studied is framed, set apart from its everyday relations in/with the world, in order to better understand it. I applied this theory to works of art, since my major was Phenomenological esthetics.

Pope JP II did the same with the theological implications of the relations between men and women, in order to better understand (and develop) a more authentic understanding and way of being in-the-world. He later referred to this theory as the Theology of the Body. It is a beautiful, Bible-based examination of human relations, with a special emphasis on the sacrament of marriage, using the Phenomenological method for analysis and exposition.

In my fiction (particularly in my romances) I use a very rudimentary understanding of the TOB to show how men and women can, and should, fall in love with each other, while respecting each other's body and soul. So, premarital sex and one-night stands and hookups are verboten, since a person does not show basic fundamental respect for one's love interest in acting/using them in that way.

Do my characters show passion? Emotions? You bet they do. They love each other! Do they desire each other? Yep! But they also respect themselves and their loved ones. In fact, one of the Amazon reviewers of Down By Contact, my sports-themed romance novella, complained that I've misleadingly presented the story as a Christian romance, but that the characters' physical interaction gets pretty hot. Of course they are excited to be in each other's company! They're human, after all. And they're physically attracted to each other. But they use restraint and decide to get to know each other before getting more intimate. One of the characters explains why, and the other one eventually accepts his decision. And she can't help but feel more loved, instead of simply being used for sex.

So, having gone into such a lengthy explanation, here are my current TOB works.Check around at different retailers, some of them might be free (although, due to regulations out of my control, none of them are free at Amazon. Kindle readers can download them from Smashwords):

Down By Contact (a football-themed romance)

St. Nicholas (a Christmas-themed short story)

The Betrothal (an art-based novella on van Eyck's The Betrothal painting)

The Well (not directly a TOB work, but an inspirational story)

Sprainter (a young adult, sci-fi, art-based, dystopian, romance novella)

The Wedding Scheme (an art-based romantic comedy novel).

These are all available here and everywhere e-books are sold:

I hope people will take a look at some of the stories and let me know what they think.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Review: Make Something Up: Stories You Can't Unread

Make Something Up: Stories You Can't Unread Make Something Up: Stories You Can't Unread by Chuck Palahniuk
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Up front, I'm a huge Chuck Palahniuk fan, so it's no surprise that I loved this eclectic collection of short stories.

The collection features the "typical" Palahniuk heart-wrenching plots and odd characters.

I especially loved "Romance" which is available online, read by Palahniuk himself. I think it should be considered for an O. Henry award.

For readers who have never read Fight Club or anything else by Palahniuk (my favorite novel is Rant), I would recommend this sampler. If you like these stories, you'll love just about everything else he's written. And if you've read everything else by Palahniuk (and love his edgy writing), then you'll love these stories too.

View all my reviews
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