#452: Versers Ready

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #452, on the subject of Versers Ready.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first seven novels,

  1. Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel,
  2. Old Verses New,
  3. For Better or Verse,
  4. Spy Verses,
  5. Garden of Versers,
  6. Versers Versus Versers, and
  7. Re Verse All,

in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book).  Along with each book there was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed with the chapters in the tables of contents pages.  Now as I am posting the eighth, In Verse Proportion,  I am again offering a set of “behind the writings” insights.  This “behind the writings” look may contain spoilers because it sometimes talks about my expectations for the futures of the characters and stories–although it sometimes raises ideas that were never pursued, as being written partially concurrently with the story it sometimes discusses where I thought it was headed.  You might want to read the referenced chapters before reading this look at them.  Links below (the section headings) will take you to the specific individual chapters being discussed, and there are (or will soon be) links on those pages to bring you back hopefully to the same point here.

It was suggested in connection with Re Verse All that shorter more frequent behind-the-writings posts would work better; they proved to be considerably more work in several ways.  Thus this time I am preferring longer, less frequent posts.  Previous posts for this novel include:

  1. #432:  Whole New Worlds, covering chapters 1 through 21;
  2. #437:  Characters Relate, chapters 22 through 42;
  3. #440:  Changing Worlds, chapters 43 through 63.
  4. #443:  Versers Acclimate, chapters 64 through 84.
  5. #448:  Inventive Versers, chapters 85 through 105.

There is also a section of the site, Multiverser Novel Support Pages, in which I have begun to place materials related to the novels beginning with character papers for the major characters, giving them at different stages as they move through the books.

History of the series, including the reason it started, the origins of character names and details, and many of the ideas, are in earlier posts, and won’t be repeated here.

Chapter 106, Kondor 210

Still moving forward, I have not yet figured out how, where, or when Kondor verses out, but I needed to bring Zeke close to him.

Chapter 107, Slade 202

The weaponry development was important, again because I was headed into a war (Slade was right about that), and the enemy was going to outmatch the parakeets significantly, even with these advances.  I’m also planning to bring Joe here, followed by Derek, but I don’t know what kinds of advances either of them could bring to this world unless Slade has made significant progress already.

Chapter 108, Brown 229

I didn’t want it to seem as if Derek could simply take a shuttle and fly to the surface; he would need to clear that with the captain.  I also knew that the Captain was reluctant to find a suitable colony planet.  This, though, gave me the opportunity to show the length of the mission.

In choosing the length of time The Wanderer had been traveling, I quickly settled on the number 6 for the first digit, but then debated.  A four-digit number, it struck me, was not really long enough–I wanted enough time for evolutionary change to be credible–but a six-digit number was absurd, as ship’s systems probably could not have lasted so long.  So it became sixty-three thousand, digits randomly suggested to sound random, that is, not a round number.

Chapter 109, Kondor 211

I sat here for several days.  They were eventful days.  My wife had just returned to work, and I was spending twenty to twenty-five hours each week driving her and getting short sleep for my efforts; The Essential Guide to Time Travel:  Temporal Anomalies & Replacement Theory was published.  But I was very uncertain how to move forward with this story, and I brought it up with a couple of people and got some excellent advice much of which persuaded me to go a different way.  I didn’t really like what I was about to do, but it seemed the best direction for the story.

The issue at this point was finding the best places to break.  It was feeling like I was going to have several short Kondor chapters.

Chapter 110, Slade 203

Yes, this chapter was essentially marching in place, keeping the action going without actually doing anything specific.  I needed those inventions to come to fruition without focusing on too many more details.

Chapter 111, Brown 230

There was a lot to do to prep for the shuttle mission, and I wanted to make sure that the details were covered.  I had only just realized, when I went to pack Vashti’s things, that she didn’t have a suitcase, so I found a way to provide that.  I knew they would need food, but had not yet considered how they would bring that.

The last thing I had Derek say was essentially that Vashti should buckle her seatbelt.  I wasn’t going to do that until the next chapter, but I needed a way to end this one.  Vashti won’t understand the statement, so that will be the opening of the next chapter.

Chapter 112, Kondor 212

There was a lot that went into creating this scene.  I discussed it with a couple people, and had to work out many of the details.

I loved Leah, and had imagined that she would accompany Joe into the verse.  However, there was a degree to which she was turning into one of the Doctor’s companions, that her job was to say, “What is it, Doctor?”, and on the one hand Zeke was already quite capable of that role, and on the other Leah would be too much like Vashti in that regard.  I had imagined the two of them meeting and chatting like old friends, but there was no real future for Leah becoming her own person.  She really was too much like Vashti.  If I were bringing another wife into play, she needed to be different from those I already had, and although eventually I could get wives for Zeke and Bron, they would be one step removed from the main character (not to mention that Beam was starting to collect wives, and a wife for Bron would easily be lost in the mix).

Then I realized that Leah’s death would have a massive impact on Kondor–but she would have to die first, and he would have to be unable to save her.  It would break his implacable rational exterior.

The scene, which I will probably have Zeke attempt to describe because Kondor would not have seen it all, fit together fairly well.  Kondor fires his rifle.  Kondor knows very little about horses, having rarely ridden them even in this world where they are common.  Thus when his horse panics and rears he doesn’t anticipate it, and since he is holding his rifle with both hands, he is thrown.  What he doesn’t see is that Zeke’s horse also panics.  Leah manages to keep her horse under control, as she has been riding from childhood, and the attacking horses are farther away and also under the control of experienced riders.  Zeke has both hands on his reins, though, and although his horse is bouncing him around a bit, he holds his seat and gets glimpses of everything around him.  He hears them say something about killing the witch as they go after Leah, and sees her attacked, but then is attacked himself, and killed.

I needed a reason for the Copts to attack an unarmed woman on horseback, but then, this is a world with a fair amount of magic, and the first thought that would come to them concerning such a woman is she must be there as a magician, and therefore she is dangerous.  Leaders would be the prime focus.  The cartographer would attempt to escape, if he managed to stay mounted, and so Leah would be on her own.

I originally thought Kondor would attack with his rifle, but it struck me that between being thrown from the horse, dragged by the stirrup, and focused on getting his medkit and getting back to Leah, it would be passing odd for him still to have it.  I had considered the notion that he had reflexively put it back over his shoulder, but decided that by the time he was in a position where he might have done that, not only was it no longer in his hands, he was already trying to find out what was happening to Leah, and trying to get to his medkit.  However, I remembered his pistol, and that was simple enough.

The appearance of Leah as he passes through the scriff was a bit of a stretch, but I really wanted that scene for a number of reasons which will play out in the chapters ahead.  He moves to stage 4, entering the new world awake and standing but disoriented and confused.

Chapter 113, Slade 204

Kondor is now in Slade’s world, along with Zeke, but it struck me that I could move Kondor’s story forward by having Slade recognize his presence and come looking for him.

The supernatural implications of Leah’s appearance now are brought to the fore.  The significant thing is in Zeke’s statement, that it is easy to claim there is no evidence of the supernatural if you’re going to discount anything that might be such evidence.

Chapter 114, Brown 231

I’m beginning the planetary survey.  Yes, I am going to bring the ship down here.  I just need to make sure that it’s believable.

Chapter 115, Kondor 213

I’m fitting Joe and Zeke into Slade’s world, but mostly continuing the emphasis on Kondor’s grief.  There’s a lot I can do with him in this world, but not until he gets far enough past the death of his wife that he can function.

Chapter 116, Slade 205

Because in the previous chapter I had kept Kondor silent, I had missed the part about him blaming himself.  That seemed important in the character expression of grief.  But having him express that to Slade gave me some opportunity to put in some of the arguments against it.

Chapter 117, Brown 232

My math skills are good, but not as good as Derek’s.  I had to play with an equation to get what is after all the obvious solution, but I wanted to be sure it was correct before I wrote it.

Again, I was trying to make the planetary survey credible without making it too complicated or extensive.  Giving Derek things he could discuss made it interesting, I hope.

Chapter 118, Kondor 214

I wasn’t going to bury Joe’s grief, but I needed the story to move forward, so I pushed him to get involved.

It’s true that Joe’s expertise is in electronics, and he’s going to be a big help there.  On the other hand, Bob assumes that Joe will contribute to weapons development, and Joe prefers not to kill anyone and will be uncomfortable with the idea of creating advanced weaponry for the indigs.

Chapter 119, Slade 206

This is mostly administrative fill, that is, I have to integrate Kondor into Slade’s story credibly.  He would have to be introduced to all the right birds, and arrangements made for him and Zeke to be part of things here.

I realized as I was preparing this chapter for publication that the parakeets had trouble pronouncing the voiced labiodental fricative, and so had to replace “Joe” with “Choe” in a couple places.

Chapter 120, Brown 233

I was kind of torn here.  There were several steps in my mind between here and Derek’s departure from this universe, and it would be wrong to rush them.  On the other hand, I didn’t want to drag them, either.  So I started working on them slowly.

Chapter 121, Kondor 215

I noticed at this point that I had Kondor and Slade in the same world telling the same story, against Derek on a different story, and it was time to change the chapter sequence so that Kondor and Slade would appear with Derek between them in both directions, that is, Derek every other chapter and the Parakeet Industrial Revolution chapter between them.

Chapter 122, Brown 234

I thought a lot about their landing trajectory, and realized that as soon as they decelerated their target was going to start moving ahead of them, and unless they made a very steep fall they were going to need it to go all the way around and pass them before they hit the atmosphere.  Also, they weren’t going to glide in like the shuttle, but they wouldn’t fall straight down, either.  But since they would be losing position I figured that it would make sense to say that in twenty hours their target on the ground would have passed beneath them and been far enough ahead that they could reasonably hit it on a successful landing.  Twenty minutes to land is a long time, really, but they’re coming in for a propulsion-assisted landing on a hard surface, which is the way the Russians did it in Siberia, which is different from both a splashdown like all our capsules and a glide like our space shuttle, much more like our moon landing, but with five times the gravity.

I had also realized the part about no one ever having landed one of these interstellar colony ships before a few weeks ago.  It might not be true, if the indigs had sent several such ships in different directions, but it would be true that generational ships traveling at sub-light speed would not have reached a destination and returned any data within the lifetimes of the designers.

I realized when I was setting up for publication that having the landing site already ahead of them when they made reentry was not the best plan, because it would mean the planetary surface was moving rotationally faster than they were.  On the other hand, because of their altitude, their actual velocity is considerably faster, so as they descend they should have to slow even more to avoid overshooting the target.  I decided that this was twice too complicated–once, that it would be too complicated to change the text at this point, and again that it would be too complicated to explain to the reader.  So I left it.

Chapter 123, Slade 207

I found my way around Kondor’s reluctance to start an arms race by having Zeke get involved in weapons development.  Kondor could teach them to build kinetic blasters, but not for a long time, so this is about as far as they can go.  I’m not sure what Derek is going to bring to the table, but there’s time for that.

I had originally envisioned this from Kondor’s perspective, but I had just done a Kondor chapter and had to turn to Slade, so I had to rethink it from Slade’s viewpoint.

Chapter 124, Brown 235

I wanted the reader to feel the fact that it took a day, and a very long day, to practice the landing simulation, so I put it in its own chapter.  I also recognized that it was a very long day, and Derek would not be able to do two in a row easily, so I had him take a day of rest before continuing.

Chapter 125, Kondor 216

I started this as something of a space filler to move the tech work forward and keep Joe out of the weapons department, but I realized that in the direction he was going he was going to need lasers, and lasers meant relativity, and relativity meant atomic bombs, and he was going to see that and have to face it.  Otherwise, I’m trying to accelerate their advancement.

Chapter 126, Brown 236

I had come up with the complications before I wrote that he started the descent, but it was while I was writing that I did the calculations and looked up a few aspects of geography.  I wanted it to be something that did not run entirely smoothly but was successful.

It occurred to me as I wrote that my readers might expect something serious here.  I remembered that my editor for Verse Three, Chapter One commented that once I had brought Lauren and Joe into the parakeet world together, it was inevitable that Bob would join them shortly.  That bothered me so much that in Old Verses New I had Lauren verse into the world with Derek fairly early in the book so that I could then verse them both out before reaching the point at which Joe joined them.  This might also have influenced Versers Versus Versers, in which Derek leaves before the climactic moment, Tommy never gets there, and Joe continues in that world for several chapters after that.  So even though indeed we are headed for Derek versing into the world with Bob and Joe, this is something of a tease, a potential disaster that winds up not being disastrous.

This has been the sixth and penultimate behind-the-writings look at In Verse Proportion.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with more behind-the-writings posts for it and another novel.

#451: The Bethel/Hillsong Music Controversy

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #451, on the subject of The Bethel/Hillsong Music Controversy.

A long time friend asked me via Facebook private message:

You would most likely know about this.  I just watched a debate over Bethel and Hillsong music being played in worship services.  Since I am unfamiliar with them I could not follow the debate.  Perhaps you could shed some light on this.

Quite honestly I have not followed the details, and my friend might be better informed on this than I; but I think there are points worth considering.

There are of course those who object to using contemporary music for worship at all.  I encounter these arguments frequently, and there isn’t really any substance to them.  Some say that the contemporary music sullies the holy message, but the Reformers and the leaders during the Great Awakenings all used secular songs, usually bawdy songs sung in bars, to set Christian words and make our hymns.  Some argue that most contemporary songs aren’t very good, but that’s true in every era, and to some degree time is the test as most of the songs that aren’t good are forgotten and some of those which are survive.  In the end, the contemporary songs of the present are the great worship songs of the past in the future.

But it is specifically the songs of these two groups that are the target of this objection, and they have something in common:  they are worship bands from very large churches.  Thus the question becomes whether their churches taint their music, or more specifically their lyrics.

The first question in this is of course whether the churches themselves are heretical.  That’s not an easy question.  After all, there are Catholics who think Baptists are heretical, and Baptists who think the same about Catholics.  Yet both groups have produced wonderful worshipful music over the centuries, and even have borrowed from each other.  Some would paint the entire Charismatic/Pentecostal world as heretical, others as the fruit of the Third Great Awakening.  As a wise Quaker reportedly said to his best friend, “Everyone’s a little queer ‘cept me and thee, and sometimes I’m not so sure of thee.”  Many would label the entire Prosperity Gospel movement heretical, but others would say they’re just a bit misguided, and obviously there are many who believe their message.  At the same time, behind the first question is the question, does that matter?

It leads to the second question, which is, does the supposed heresy of the church impact the lyrics?  That is, do these songs preach or teach a false message?  That is a more difficult question.  After all, there are a plethora of songs about the pre-millenial return of Christ, most of them pre-tribulation, and while that’s a popular view it’s not necessarily the true one.  Every once in a while I hear a song that recalls the submission and discipleship theology of the 70s, and I usually turn it off.  How wrong does a song have to be to be a problem?  I heard one person object that most contemporary songs aren’t about Jesus about but about my relationship with Jesus–but if we are to sing spiritual songs in addition to psalms and hymns, would that not be included?  Songs that clearly teach a false belief should be discouraged, but I’m not aware that the songs from these bands do that.  Singing songs which are theologically sound popularized by bands from churches which are not is not in itself a problem.

However, there is one other potential objection, which is whether singing or otherwise promoting the songs themselves promotes the ministry behind them.  When songs by Hillsong or Bethel get heavy airplay and rise on the charts through sales, this means money into the pockets of the ministry and exposure to a wider audience.  If there is some egregious error promulgated by these ministries, even if it doesn’t show in their music, supporting the music might help promote the error.  Those who think the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints a heresy rightly hesitate to listen to Christmas albums from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, because the purchase helps fund the church.

That, though, brings us back to the first question:  are these ministries in some way heretical?  I don’t have the answer to that question.  Further, I don’t know that I need the answer.  I am not in a position to influence what songs are sung in any local church, or played on local radio stations; I don’t buy music or subscribe to a streaming service, so I’m only going to hear these songs if one of the local stations plays it.  That does happen, and although I do hear songs on the radio which I wouldn’t clear for airplay were I programming, I don’t think any of those are from the groups in question.

Just to be clear, if I were involved in leading local worship or programming a radio station, this is a question I would seek to answer.  The answer would matter to me in that case.  But that’s their job, and I have my own obligations.  If they think it’s all right to play, I’ll trust that they are aware of the controversy and took the time to address the questions.

#450: The Song “Rainy Days”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #450, on the subject of The Song “Rainy Days”.

This song doesn’t really belong here; I did not write it.

It was written by my good friend Arthur Lee “Artie” Robbins, who played with me beginning in eighth grade, before The Last Psalm, as bass guitarist in BLT Down and for Genuine Junk Parts before that, and as an acoustic and vocals duo before that.  He wrote this as a love song probably in eighth grade, and when BLT Down became The Last Psalm he, being Jewish, left.  I needed material, so I changed a few words and continued using the song; I also wrote the triple lead, but it was only ever a double lead until that band’s last concert, when we had both Andy Nilssen and Annette Young so could run two bass guitars and she played the third lead on the six-string short-neck Wurlitzer while he handled the bassline.  The song also had an improvised lead which segued into the triple lead, but I omitted that.  I also omitted backup vocals–during the last verse while Peggy was singing the melody the other four of us each had one note in the chord in an “ah” which we slid down from the E chord to the D, singing off mic, but I couldn’t sing the high E when I was finally recording this and couldn’t figure out how to make the midi vocals slide together or sound off-mic.  It’s a rather poor recording–I felt I needed chords behind the triple lead, and I didn’t want to add another guitar to two guitars and two bass guitars during the singing (and anyway, we didn’t have another guitarist) so I use the piano, and the mix was all wrong bringing the chords too far forward and drowning out the leads.  But you can hear them if you listen closely.

So why is it here?  It was one of those vocals-over-midi-instruments recordings made as part of the nostalgic collection of Last Psalm songs recorded for Jes Oldham entitled When I Was Young.  It is the only one of those which I did not write which I recorded, although Ruth has asked me about her song Lord, Lord, which we stopped singing when she left us but I might record for her if I get some new software working.

Rainy Days.

So here are the lyrics.

The rain, it pours and pours all day.
It turns the skies all cloudy and grey.
But inside my house the sun still shines,
‘Cause the Lord of Love, I know He’s mine.

Rainy days may come my way.
I guess we’ll have to make due,
‘Cause even if the skies are cloudy and grey,
I still know that I love you.

The rain, it pours and pours all day.
It turns the skies all cloudy and grey.
But inside my heart the sun still shines,
‘Cause the Lord of Love, I know He’s mine.

Rainy days may come my way.
I guess we’ll have to make due,
‘Cause even if the skies are cloudy and grey,
I still know that I love you.
I still know that I love you.
I still know that God loves you.


Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb” | #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal” | #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods” | #317:  The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe” | #320:  The Song “Free” | #322:  The Song “Voices” | #326:  The Song “Mountain, Mountain” | #328:  The Song “Still Small Voice” | #334:  The Song “Convinced” | #337:  The Song “Selfish Love” | #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341:  The Song “Joined Together” | #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them” | #349: The Song “I Can’t Resist You’re Love” | #353:  The Song “I Use to Think” | #356:  The Song “God Said It Is Good” | #362:  The Song “My Life to You” | #366:  The Song “Sometimes” | #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom” | #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy” | #382:  The Song “Not Going to Notice” | #387:  The Song “Our God Is Good” | #393:  The Song “Why” | #399:  The Song “Look Around You” | #404:  The Song “Love’s the Only Command” | #408:  The Song “Given You My Name” | #412:  The Song “When I Think” | #414:  The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me” | #428:  The Song “To the Victor” | #433:  The Song “From Job” | #436:  The Song “Trust Him Again” | #438:  The Song “Even You” | #441:  The Song “Fork in the Road” | #442:  The Song “Call to Worship” | #445:  The Song “How Many Times” | #447:  The Song “When I Was Lonely”

Next song:  Never Alone