Friday, December 23, 2011

writing progress, writing year in review

I'm happy to report that part 4 of Batman: the Agony of Loss and the Madness of Desire, a series I've been working on for Mockingbird about Batman: the animated series, has picked up a lot of steam.

Just in time for Christmas.

Which means that, once again, I'm tabling it to start spending time with family and to tackle another project that has come up.  I was stoked to have made so much progress this week, finally!  I have some fun stuff about Batman villains that piggy-backs on what I wrote about Mr. Freeze in part 3, "Heart of Ice, Heart of Wrath" but there's nothing like needing eye surgery during a holiday season to set you back!  Still, I'm doing what I can but at the rate I'm going (with another follow up on eye surgery I need to do and some other work)

So part 4 probably has to wait for the New Year but in the mean time, here's a review of what I've written for Mockingbird this year.  Instead of publication order I'm going with the original intended reading order.

The first series to be read describes the historic setting of American cartoons into which Batman: the Animated series began and kicked off what eventually became the DC animated universe or Timm-verse.  So "Chapter 1" is called Cartoon Nostalgia, Cartoon Revolutions

"Chapter Two" is in progress, Batman: the Agony of Loss and the Madness of Desire

Part 4 is pending, "The Wounds of Discovery".  Parts 5 and 6 will also take time.

"Chapter Three" was the first to get published, Superman: An American Icon at War with (and for) His Own Legacies

Chapter One lays out the groundwork of what Reagan era cartoons were like and what some authors have called the "Cold War moral clarity" of cartoons that were often shills for toys.

Chapter Two, of course, lays out themes and storys from Batman: the animated series as an example of one of the first uniquely post-Cold War cartoons that blew up the moral simplification common in Reagan-era cartoons. That's where I'm going with the Batman essays if that wasn't clear to earlier readers and in case you're stumbling on this page having never read the earlier work.

Chapter Three moves on to look at how Bruce Timm and Paul Dini revamped an American pop culture icon.  After dispensing with the viability of Superman-as-Jesus I focus on Superman as an icon of what we want America to be and how Lex Luthor represents the corruption of what American so often is.  I explore how Luthor and Brainiac represent the worst of human and Kryptonian legacies and how Superman can be seen as an American pop icon because he represents a citizen of multiple cultures and a participant in the legacies of more than one race.  The challenges that keep Superman interesting aren't the big monsters he fights or the loss of friends who will generally get raised from the dead in a few issues, the challenges that make Superman interesting are the challenges to warp his moral compass. 

The dangers of "good guys" having their moral compasses corrupted is something I plan to revisit in the Justice League essays in 2012, particularly when I eventually get to the Cadmus arc. "Chapter Four" is intended to be about Justice League/Justice League Unlimited.  I'll leave that at that for now.

"Chapter Five" is going to include, among other things, a polemic against Joseph Campbell's monomyth and particularly how Christians lazily appropriate it in apolegetic or "cultural engagement" settings.  I'm going to take some time to tackle that and along the way I hope to distinguish between what I consider to be actual pop mythology and what I consider to be the merchandizing of the monomyth.  But all that is, you may have suspected by now, going to have to wait until no earlier than some time in 2012. 

Meanwhile, as an end-of-year review of what I've written for Mockingbird I figure this post will provide a summary and suggested reading order for what I've managed to publish so far. 

In completely unrelated news I am also still tackling the project of getting my first guitar sonata published.  I hope to publish a few more compositions in the future but the main thing is finalizing the steps to getting the Guitar Sonata in F minor published.  I'm slowly making preparations to film/record excerpts from my nearly complete 24 preludes and fugues for solo guitar. 

Some of the other things I've written this year may be of interest, such as a series I began over at From Bitter Waters to Sweet and then expanded slightly over on The Wartburg Watch, where I discuss my concerns about Mark Driscoll's handling of Song of Songs

It took me months of study, background research, and laying out my thoughts but I did also finally blog this month about the "I see things" video clip of Driscoll that made the rounds on the blogosphere earlier this year.

Keep in mind I undertook both of these writing projects intending to provide some constructive criticism and information, not to embark on some blanket slash and burn projects. I trust I've been pretty clear about this already but it never hurts to keep being clear. Just because I raise the subject here of how Driscoll's "I see things" video follows the script of recovered memory therapy methods that have been debunked as of decades ago doesn't mean I'm interested in demonizing people. I'm more interested in discussing difficulties in statements and positions when I believe they are important rather than attacking people as people.

As I attempted to show at some length both cessationists and charismatics are too beholden to battles about ecclesiology and custom in 20th and 21st century church practice to pay attention to what OT and NT passages actually describe about the nature of prophets and prophetic activity, particularly with respect to Deuteronomy 16-18 as a prescriptive legal and judicial framework within the prescribed Israelite theocratic monarchy. Even a reference to Hellenistic literature can establish that prophets were frequently understood to play the role of policy advisor and established critic when necessary.  Prophets could be considered, at times, to be the equivalent of the "fourth estate".  But I've rambled enough about that already.

A few more pingbacks while I'm at it, though long-time readers will probably have seen this stuff already.  This link below was a lengthy writing session in which I built up to an essay about evangelicals that proposed "We have the same ethics because we worship the same idols".  In light of the article in Relevant Fearsome Tycoon recently linked to that stated 80% of American evangelicals ages 18-29 have admitted to premarital sex while evangelicals debate whether or not pastors should be unmarried I'm not sure I could have picked a better year to write this series tagged below.

That evangelicals can't imagine being fully human without some active sex life means they're not really "that" different from the world.  And why would they?  They either invent more rules to imagine they have better ethics than "worldly" people or they just follow their impulses and bone whomever and justify it. 

Which sort of naturally leads thematically to this post:

Where I note that if you're a virgin and past 30 both believers and non-believers tend to think you're some loser who is not really fully human. There are a variety of ways in which single guys past 30 can react to this and many of those ways are, to put it mildly, less than healthy. I'm not discounting myself from that group for that matter.

Thanks to a certain megachurch pastor posting a wildly ill-advised request on Facebook I ended up writing these posts:

They are dubbed parts 267 and 268 respectively of Mark Driscoll's William Wallace II days.  I want to make sure to note, though, that I did appreciate Driscoll using his celebrity pastor status to ask Mars Hill to donate food to the Salvation Army Port Angeles corps food pantry.

I'm in a position to know enough about Mars Hill and the Salvation Army Northwest division to confirm that this was a legit story.  If times weren't so rough for the Sallie during the recession as a whole I'd still have my old job.  My year in review may include a variety of critical reactions to junk Driscoll says but I'm making it clear here that there's stuff Mars Hill does and has done that I am willing to get behind.  I hope Mars Hillians continue to give to places like the Salvation Army and Union Gospel Mission and other organizations. 

Obviously this is a wind-up for 2011 and I'm not sure I'm likely to blog here until 2012. I've taken stock of all this writing in 2011 because writing has been one of the things that's kept me going while I hunt for normal, steady employment.  If I have written things that have inspired people to think about some things or entertain them I have accomplished my goal.  If not, well, I kept myself busy and had some fun!  I hope you enjoy the stuff I've written if you haven't been reading it and if you don't read it, well, hey, thanks for visiting anyway.

Happy holidays until I end up back here. 

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