All posts by M.J.

#457: The Song “Greater Love”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #457, on the subject of The Song “Greater Love”.

I included this in the nostalgic collection of Last Psalm songs recorded for Jes Oldham, although I’m not certain it was ever performed at a Last Psalm concert.  It was, however, written during that period.

In the summer of 1974, after my first year at Luther College, I landed a job working security at nearby Fairleigh Dickenson University (Teaneck/Hackensack Campus).  I was on the evening shift, and often given an area on the less congested Hackensack side of the river where there were, as I recall, five buildings, the College of Dentistry as one assignment and four others as the other, including what I think was called Barrington College.  One guard watched the Dentistry college and the other toured the other four buildings–at least two of which had pianos in them and no people after suppertime, so since my obligations were essentially to tour the four buildings once an hour I often practiced, if you can use that word for my tinkering, at one of the pianos.  I kept the job well into my sophomore year, and one night pulled these words from I Peter and used them to launch a song by including some thoughts from John as well.  I think I might have written a few songs in that setting, but this is the only one I can place there that I recorded.

It’s another vocals-over-midi-instruments recording, and I’m not sure why I wrote the vocals quite that low, but I managed it.

Greater Love.

So here are the lyrics.

If you address as Father the one impartial judge,
Conduct yourself in fear,
For He redeemed your life with his holy precious blood,
So live a life of love while you are here.

Love is more than friendly smiles.
Love always walks an extra mile.
Love isn’t feeling giddy inside:
Greater love hath no man than he who died.

If you address as Father the one impartial judge,
Conduct yourself in fear,
For He redeemed your life with his holy precious blood,
So live a life of love while you are here.

And if we call on Jesus’ name,
He doesn’t listen if we’re playing games.

Love will want to spread the word,
Tell ev’ryone who hasn’t heard.
Don’t keep the joy of God inside:
Greater love hath no man than He who died
Greater love hath no man than He who died

*****

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” | #450:  The Song “Rainy Days” | #453:  The Song “Never Alone” | #455:  The Song “King of Glory”

#456: Versers Prepare

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #456, on the subject of Versers Prepare.

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.
  6. #452:  Versers Ready, chapters 106 through 126.

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 127, Slade 208

I came into this with no particular direction other than the idea that if Joe was building aircraft Slade would think about anti-aircraft guns.  Everything else came from the flow of the story, including the new engineering building and the consideration of rockets.


Chapter 128, Brown 237

Life kept me from writing for a couple days, so I had thought through bits of this several times.  Still, a lot of it was innovation along the way, particularly in the details of the dialogue.  I wanted it to go down in one chapter, but at the same time to feel like it was a slow process.


Chapter 129, Kondor 217

It occurred to me that two of the most important inventions of the industrial age were interchangeable parts and assembly lines–neither of them consumer goods but both critical to the production of consumer goods.  I was uncertain at what point interchangeable parts had come into existence, and guessed that they would have been developed for the steam engine industry, but was certain that assembly lines would not yet have been created.  It gave me something else for Kondor to contribute.


Chapter 130, Brown 238

I had a next step for Derek and Vashti, but I couldn’t rush it, so I needed to create a chapter that would suggest the passage of a significant stretch of time during which they had to remain aboard the ship.  That wasn’t difficult–after all, the automated systems have a lot of work to do before there will be a place for people to live.


Chapter 131, Slade 209

I began with the notion that Joe’s house would be ready, snow would come, and I had to fill a chapter before I returned to Derek.  Turning on the heat pointed me to the storm windows, and from there to the wealth of little inventions that made a difference, and from there to the fact that they all needed electricity.


Chapter 132, Brown 239

The asteroid was my exit plan for Derek and Vashti, and I knew what they were going to attempt.  At the same time I did not want to make it seem as if this were my plan, so I had to come up with alternatives.  I had one in mind by the time I finished writing the chapter, so at that point either they were going to take one of the auxiliary ships and attempt to move it off course, or they were going to attempt to recall as much of the settlement action as possible and get Wanderer in orbit to keep the people safe for a few more decades.  I hoped to come up with another proposal before I wrote that chapter, which would probably be a couple days given the complexities of life at this juncture.


Chapter 133, Kondor 218

I had set this up in the previous Slade chapter, and had had some time to consider it.  I originally thought that solar would be the method of choice, but recognized that even though Joe had extensive education and experience to support something like that, the early systems would be crude and it would take considerably longer to develop electrical power than I hoped.  Wind is not as effective, but could be brought online more quickly.


Chapter 134, Brown 240

This was the setup.  I knew for quite a while that Derek and Vashti would be killed at the helm of an auxiliary ship, and just needed to find a way to make that happen.  That led to the concept of trying to change the trajectory of a large asteroid.  To get there, though, I had to come up with alternative proposals for dealing with that asteroid, and have the final decision make sense.


Chapter 135, Slade 210

I wrote three paragraphs for this, and between being stymied on how to proceed and having life complications I left it for several days.  When I returned, I figured I would have to make it a very short chapter and get back to Derek, so I wrote two more paragraphs and ended there.


Chapter 136, Brown 241

I was not certain how much to include, from at what point to start to where to break.  I decided to leap across all the prep and get them to the critical point quickly, and then to go to the transitional moment and stop there.


Chapter 137, Kondor 219

This chapter had been delayed several days, partly because life was in the way, but also because I didn’t know what to write.  I commented by e-mail to a writer friend that I didn’t know what to write for Joe, and immediately realized that his work was keeping his mind off his grief, and that needed to resurface.  That made this a significant chapter, more than just filler to delay the next event for Derek.


Chapter 138, Brown 242

This was about bringing Derek into the new world with a damaged spaceship.  I also brought the robot with him.  This is mostly to show the birds what the future might hold.


Chapter 139, Slade 211

I knew that Derek’s arrival would create a stir, but the only way to show that was to do it from the outside, to have the birds react and have one of those already present see that reaction.  I could have done more, such as have them bring the Gatling gun onto the field, but I decided I could resolve things more quickly than that.

Of course, one of the problems with these reunions is that the characters are certainly going to be telling each other things that the reader already knows, so it has to be done in such a way that the reader understands that what he has already read is being shared among them.


Chapter 140, Kondor 220

I knew I had to do a couple things here.  One was give the impression that everyone had shared their adventures since their last meeting and gotten Derek and Vashti oriented to the new world.  The other was to continue unpacking Joe’s grief, particularly given that Vashti would remind him of Leah.  At the same time, I had to keep it from being a dull retelling of events the reader already knows.


Chapter 141, Brown 243

I was stuck on this for several days, partly because I couldn’t figure out how to move forward, partly because I was still struggling with how the book would end, and partly because life was in the way.

The Babbage Engine was the inspiration for moving Derek into inventing something, but I realized he could do better than that thanks to Joe’s progress.

Figuring out what they can eat is tricky in this world.  It struck me as I was thinking about sandwiches that they don’t have butter, and since margarine was created as a cheap substitute for butter they wouldn’t have that, either.


Chapter 142, Slade 212

This was delayed several days partly because of life difficulties and partly because of difficulty focusing on the scene.  I changed the setting several times in my mind, at one point having Joe present, then just Slade and Shella in the living room, then in the bedroom, then finally over dinner.  I realized after I wrote it that Derek and Vashti should be there, but given that they just arrived it’s not unreasonable that they would be on a different sleep schedule and need to get acclimated to the new days.

The idea that a gathering of versers meant a serious problem approaching was something Slade had noted in Garden of Versers, and although it has something of a feeling of breaking the fourth wall, that the characters perceive something that is anticipating the plot, given Slade’s beliefs it is not unreasonable.


Chapter 143, Kondor 221

I would estimate that this chapter was delayed a couple weeks.

Part of that was that as I was posting the last week’s worth of chapters of Re Verse All I discovered that I had not completed setting up the character sheets for the support site, which I thought I had accomplished, so my attention was to some degree diverted to that.  However, part of it was that I could see I was maybe three chapters from the end of the book, and had no idea how to construct those three chapters to get there, what had to happen, how much time to burn, how to burn it, and how to set up the climax.  I’m still not certain how to do any of that, but I’ve fixed the character sheet problem and need to finish this book and get it set up for publication, as well as get started on the next, currently bearing the working title Con Verse Lea, because readers of Re Verse All are eager to know what happens to everyone next.

I overcame some difficulties by putting them together.  I had been trying to decide what to do with Kondor’s chapter and really had nothing, and at the same time I could foresee struggling with how to make Derek’s chapter work in covering the unveiling of the computer.  The fix was to take what I was planning for Derek’s chapter and giving it to Joe, which worked better with him as an observer than with Derek as participant.  It also gave me a different direction for the boy.


Chapter 144, Brown 244

I had expected this chapter to cover what I had covered in the previous chapter, the unveiling of the Babbage machine, but having done that I had to push past it.  It occurred to me that there were a few things in our education that came from Newton, and if they didn’t have him they might be missing some, which Derek could provide, and I went from there.


Chapter 145, Slade 213

My impetus for this chapter was to bring back into focus that Slade was expecting trouble, and so anticipate it just a bit.  In real life, I’m posting the character sheets for In Verse Proportion and need to get this finished so it’s ready to go and I can focus on writing Con Verse Lea.


Chapter 146, Kondor 222

I decided abruptly that I could have the alien sighting in this chapter, and then in the next have a verser meeting in which they discuss what to do about it, and end the book.  For one thing, I realized that 147 chapters divided unexpectedly nicely into 3x7x7, which would make good structure for publishing the book and the behind-the-writings posts.  For another, there was no reason to drag it further; they were going to have to face the situation with what they now had.

I couldn’t just leap into the sighting, but it gave me more opportunity to explore Kondor’s grief, and in this case to connect it to his atheism.


Chapter 147, Brown 245

I was faced with the possibility that this was not preparation for war, and that Slade would assume it was and Kondor would hesitate to make that assumption, but it gave me the need for a meeting, and the ability to put forward possibilities and work from there.


This has been the seventh and final 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 and another novel.

#455: The Song “King of Glory”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #455, on the subject of The Song “King of Glory”.

I’m going to state up front that I would put this at the bottom of just about every list.

It is one of the weakest songs I ever wrote, musically and lyrically.  I actually wrote it in eighth or ninth grade, and it was intended originally to be part of a rock opera (they were a big deal then) about a depressed teenager, and was supposed to tell of an encounter with the Jesus People (also a big thing then).

It’s also a pretty bad recording.  It’s another vocals-over-midi-instruments one I did as part of the nostalgic collection of Last Psalm songs recorded for Jes Oldham.  I was struggling to squeak out Ruthanne Mekita’s soprano, and I don’t know whether that was the problem but the intonation of the vocals I just couldn’t get right.  I’m never that bad on my intonation, and it’s embarrassing.

But I recorded it, as I suggested, because Jes wanted a collection of Last Psalm songs, and this is one on which she sang once upon a time.  I won’t be at all offended if you skip it, but here it is if you want to hear just how badly I can do this sometimes.  I assure you that The Last Psalm sounded considerably better on this–I once had tapes, but they’re long gone, so this is the best I can offer.

King of Glory.

So here are the lyrics.

Won’t you try my Jesus?
He is everything.
He’s the King of Glory,
The Eternal King.

When I need someone beside me,
He is always there.
When nobody else will hide me
He makes me take the dare.

Won’t you try my Jesus?
He is everything.
He’s the King of Glory,
The Eternal King.

When you need an answer, man,
He’s the place to go.
He drew up the master plan,
You know he’s gotta know.

Won’t you try my Jesus?
He is everything.
He’s the King of Glory,
The Eternal King.

Won’t you try my Jesus?
He is everything.
He’s the King of Glory,
The Eternal King.

Won’t you try my Jesus?
He is everything.
He’s the King of Glory,
The Eternal King.

Won’t you try my Jesus?
He is everything.
He’s the King of Glory,
The Eternal King.

*****

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” | #450:  The Song “Rainy Days” | #453:  The Song “Never Alone”

Next song:  Greater Love

#454: In re: Comes the Storm

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #454, on the subject of In re:  Comes the Storm.

When the publisher dropped me a note asking if I would write a few words about a pending book of inspirational poetry, Comes the Storm by Deborah L. Kelly, I thought I was a bad fit for such a task; however, apparently they wanted someone with a theological background to write a few words, and they thought of me.  I hope they don’t regret it too badly.

No cover image available.

I have two problems going into this.  The one is that I have never found “inspirational” books at all inspiring.  Even “good” devotional books leave me cold.  I suppose I’m too intellectual for that sort of thing.

The other problem is that I’m very picky about poetry.  There are two kinds of poems that I enjoy.  The one is nonsense poetry, such as Ogden Nash or Lewis Carroll.  The other is traditional poetry with well-structued rhyme and meter, such as Robert Frost.  I believe with Chaucer that poetry is an art form for the ear, not the eye, and that prose does not become poetry simply because of the way the words are arranged on the page.  In short:

I do not believe
Seventeen syllables in
Three lines make a poem.

Oh star–the fairest one in sight–we grant your loftiness aright to some obscurity of cloud; it will not do to say of night, since dark is what brings out your light.  Some mystery becomes the proud, but to be wholly taciturn in your reserve is not allowed.


To my mind, if you can write it all out in a single line and recognize the poetry when you read it, it’s a poem; if you are scattering prose on a page to look pretty, it’s pretty prose.  It might be poetic, but I draw a sharp line between poetic prose and actual poetry; and I’ve written both.

So I had low expectations going into this.

Indeed, I am breaking one of my rules by writing a review of a book I never finished reading.  Part of that was the ebook format, and the fact that I saw no simple way to bookmark my place, and so I had to try to find where I was every time I had to reopen it; I expect that will be resolved in the published version.  Part of it, though, was that the modernist poetic style all blurred together, and while I could probably have defined differences between the poems, for practical purposes I often could not tell whether the one in front of me was one I had read before or not.  As I said, this was not at all my sort of book.

On the other hand, it was often well written.  I frequently felt as if I were reading passages from the Psalms or Wisdom books or some of the Prophets.  If inspirational books appeal to you, this probably should be on your list.  It comes through as sincere and devoted.

Since I was asked to review this based on the fact that I am, in some sense, a theologian, I ought to say something about the theology.  I am of the belief that everyone is wrong about something, including me, and that part of our spiritual growth is recognizing our errors and attempting to correct them.  I have never known anyone with whom I was in complete agreement about everything, and frankly I do not expect to do so in this life.  That said, while I did not agree with everything in this book, it was all within the bounds of orthodox Christian belief.  As long as the reader does not take it as divinely inspired scripture, it is as sound as one could ask–and I would say that about my own writings.

Take that with however many grains of salt you wish.

#453: The Song “Never Alone”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #453, on the subject of The Song “Never Alone”.

My recollection is that I wrote this while touring Romania in the early summer of 1972 with a select group from the Ramsey (New Jersey) High School chorus.  I believe I played the first verse for Geoffrey Haberer, and he didn’t like it.  That didn’t stop me from making it a staple of the repertoire of The Last Psalm early in 1973, until we lost enough people that we couldn’t do the vocals.

I had had some encouragement.  After returning home from Romania that summer I had served as a counselor for a junior-high music camp, and another staff member sang this with me as a duet.  He was a black pastor, and immediately saw what I never had said I intended, that having him sing the verse about the guy leaving Kentucky would give another dimension to the song.

This vocals-over-midi-instruments recording was part of the nostalgic collection of Last Psalm songs recorded for Jes Oldham.  It was one of the songs that utilized all five voices, as I sang the first verse, Peggy (Lisbona) the second, Jeff (Zurheide) the third, Ann (Hughes) the fourth, and Ruthann (Mekita) the last, with four voices on the choruses and five on the final bridge.  Not having a black member of the band until John Miller joined us when we no longer had enough vocalists to include this song, I gave the Kentucky verse to one of the girls for a similar reason.  I’m afraid that Ruth’s vocal range is daunting, and I had to adjust her parts here on the bridge and particularly on the last verse to be able to do something that approximated them, because she went considerably higher than I could manage at the time of this recording.  I had written the song with the one guitar “lead” introducing each verse, and then when the band did it added the second lead above and worked out the bass part below.

The song has five verses, and each verse has a couplet that tags to its chorus.  When in the early aughts I went to record it, I had a lot of trouble trying to recall all five tags–I remembered mine, and I remembered Jeffrey’s, but the others were all eluding me.  I asked Jes, who had briefly sung as our alto before she left and Ann replaced her, if she remembered hers, but she did not.  I am ninety-five percent certain that these are the original couplets, but only about eighty-five percent certain that I have them on the correct verses.  It is a country song, and although it isn’t exactly funny it is light-hearted overall despite its core message.

Never Alone.

So here are the lyrics.

To the girl who left Virginia when I said that I was on my way,
I just can’t even begin t’ tell you what it’s like to live my life this way,
People always runnin’ out on you just when you need them most;
Praise the Lord, I held together through the power of the Holy Ghost

Praise Him, people, the Lord knows what to do.
Praise Him, people, He’ll show you that it’s true.
If your picture’s in the paper, or you’ve lost your only friend,
Just rely upon the Spirit, and you’ll be on top again.

To the guy who left Kentucky when he heard that I was movin’ in,
I suppose that I was lucky that I didn’t have to live with him,
For they say if I lived next to him, he’d drown me with his gripes,
But you know I’ll always love him with the love that comes from Jesus Christ.

Praise Him, people, the Lord knows what to do.
Praise Him, people, He’ll show you that it’s true.
If you’ve got a million dollars, or your belt is up for hoc,
You just cling right on to Jesus, He’s the only solid rock.

To the guy up in Chicago who once hit me in a hit and run,
Well, I just want to tell you about God’s only Son
Who died upon a wooden cross, and rose to be a king,
And if you don’t know my Jesus, then you don’t know anything.

Praise Him, people, the Lord knows what to do.
Praise Him, people, He’ll show you that it’s true.
Don’t play poker with the devil, ’cause you know he always cheats,
And if you don’t know my Jesus, then I hope you soon will meet.

Because you’ll never be alone when you’ve got Jesus.
He will always be beside your side.
He will never leave us or forsake us,
He said so and you know He never lied.

To the men in San Francisco I just simply want to say
That I know that Jesus loves you all out by your little bay.
‘Though I’ve never even seen you, I believe that you are real.
I’ve got proof in my Lord Jesus, and I know the way I feel.

Praise Him, people, the Lord knows what to do.
Praise Him, people, He’ll show you that it’s true.
If this world makes you feel beautiful or miserably down,
You just praise the Lord and thank Him, ’cause you know that He’s around.

To the people in New Jersey I just simply want to sing,
‘Cause I know that Jesus loves me and will give me anything.
But it’s still a two-way bargain, there is something back from me:
I just give my life to Jesus, that’s the way it’s gotta be.

Praise Him, people, the Lord knows what to do.
Praise Him, people, He’ll show you that it’s true.
If you’re just a little baby, or you live on borrowed time,
You just give your life to Jesus, and this world will seem so fine.

Because you’ll never be alone when you’ve got Jesus.
    (Alone, never be)
He will always be beside your side.
    (Alone, He’ll be beside your side, He’ll never)
He will never leave us or forsake us,
    (leave or forsake us,)
He said so and you know He never lied.
    (you know he never lied.)

*****

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” | #450:  The Song “Rainy Days”

Next Song:  King of Glory

#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

#449: Cruel and Unusual

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #449, on the subject of Cruel and Unusual.

The Eighth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, part of the Bill of Rights, prohibits, among other things, “cruel and unusual punishment”.  (It also prohibits excessive fines and excessive bail.)  As I was reading the accounts in the Gospel According to Matthew and its parallels of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, it came to mind.

One point that stood out to me is that crucifixion has long been regarded the most torturous way to execute a criminal.  It isn’t really that spikes driven through wrists and feet are painful (although they are certainly excruciating–the word itself means “from crucifixion”), but that the victim survives this and hangs by his arms, sometimes for weeks, struggling to breathe.  He painfully lifts himself with his legs to get air, but eventually is too exhausted to do so, and suffocates.

Yet before sending Jesus to be crucified, Pilate had Him whipped.  This seems the epitomy of adding insult to injury:  you have been condemned to die the most horrible death mankind has ever inflicted on anyone, but before you do we’re going to thrash your back until it is swollen and bleeding.

In fairness to Pilate, there is some suggestion in the accounts that he was up against a group determined to see Jesus executed, and he may have hoped that were he to beat the prisoner adequately it would satisfy the accusers and they would allow him to release Jesus.  It didn’t work.

However, it got me thinking, what exactly is cruel and unusual?  The problem is, they are both relative concepts.  When the Founding Fathers included those words in the Bill of Rights, they clearly meant such things as stocks and forms of corporal punishment such as beatings.  They as clearly were not outlawing capital punishment, as executions continued unchallenged for over a century.

Some years ago I wrote a bit of political satire in which I suggested that there was something wrong with our treatment of murderers.  Many states still had the death penalty then, and if you committed a heinous enough murder or series of murders you could be put to death for it.  Yet everyone dies, and many people die either painfully or unexpectedly or both.  We take the surprise factor out of death for those we execute, as we ultimately give them the exact date and time that they will die; they can prepare for it.  Further, we make every effort to make this as painless as possible.  The Romans crucified many criminals, but if you were a Roman citizen you could not be crucified, you would instead be beheaded, which was a much quicker and less painful way to go.  The Guillotine was invented as an improvement on this, a more reliable way of beheading which was thus less likely to be very painful.  Long rope hanging was developed precisely for the purpose of making death quick and relatively painless.  We want to kill our criminals, but we don’t want to hurt them.  And thus if you wreak enough pain and horror and fear, you get to die quietly and painlessly and with certainty.  It seems almost a reward for your efforts.

Today we have lethal injection:  the administration of the right doses of the right chemicals theoretically puts the convict into a sleep from which he will never awaken, and so he dies painlessly.  Yet it seems that it does not always work so, and part of it is that not every execution uses the same chemicals.  There are drugs that make such executions painless, but the companies that produce these, yielding to pressure from those who oppose capital punishment, are refusing to supply them to the states that would use them for this.

The strategy of that opposition is that if those states cannot get the drug that makes lethal injection painless, it will become cruel and unusual, and the courts will block it.

It is a clever strategy.  It is also a bit unfair–that is, undemocratic.  It also is very subjective.

It is undemocratic because the people who want to end capital punishment are not getting legislatures to change the laws, but getting courts to act as tyrants and rule that the law cannot be enforced.  If you don’t like the law, you should work to change it through the legislative system, not attempt to finesse it through the courts.  Besides, it’s also very dangerous to give that power to the courts, because then they will be in a position to exercise it if their opinion swings against you.

That is the other problem:  what is cruel is subjective, and what is unusual is subjective.  Within these United States, hanging, including short-rope hanging, was not considered either cruel or unusual, and in other common law countries beheading was still used.  Firing squads have been used for U. S. military executions, which are also covered under the Constitution.  Any state which finds itself blocked from using painless lethal chemicals for their executions could easily institute one or more of these other methods.  Some of them already have those options available by law.  The tactic could backfire severely.

Are those alternatives cruel?  By what standard?  They are far quicker and less painful than crucifixion, or even stoning.  Are they unusual?  Again, by what standard?  They are quite common in the brief history of this nation, and still in use in some other countries around the world.

An argument that executions that are not completely painless are unconstitutional fails the test of history.  Those who wish to eliminate capital punishment should focus on getting legislatures to change the laws, and stop trying to end-run democracy.  I wish them success in their efforts to do this the right way.

#448: Inventive Versers

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #448, on the subject of Inventive Versers.

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.

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 85, Slade 196

At this point I created a list of inventions in my notes that Slade had launched plus those he had mentioned, so I could better identify what he could invent next.  I decided that his plumbing people, who were still working on the thermostat for the heating system, could create an atomizer as a step toward the internal combustion engine which had use in itself, if they didn’t already have such a thing.  I also broached the concept of flying machines, which were not yet on my list.


Chapter 86, Kondor 202

I had it in mind that the first fruit brought would be figs, and that grapes were not going to be so readily available as hoped.  I didn’t want to default to oranges, and when I thought of lemons and limes grapefruit was the next to come to mind.


Chapter 87, Brown 222

I had been stuck on this chapter, and the longer I was stuck the more difficult it appeared.  One of the big difficulties, though, was that I abruptly saw no way for Derek to test the translation program.  I even considered having him try to use it to communicate to some of the indigs, and have it translate something so badly they were horribly offended and attacked and killed him.  There is a story of an early Multiverser test game in which the character saw a village filled with small blue people, and as he approached they all came out smiling and happy, and then he said, “Hi”, and they suddenly become infuriated and attacked and killed him.  He ever after wondered what “Hi” meant in their language.  But as I was musing on it, I came up with a potential solution–but it requires that Derek recognize the problem, so that became my goal for this chapter.

My solutions on the translation program came slowly, as I guess they would have for Derek.  I realized that the computer spoke all three languages, but wasn’t programmed to translate between them, and that got me pointed in the right direction.

A few days before this chapter posted I saw something on television in which a translator made the distinction between two kinds of translators (there were names for them, but I don’t recall these), the more common one those who studied several languages as in school and so when they hear or read something they internally translate it to their native tongue and then translate from their native tongue to the other language.  By this understanding, my sister, who was a United Nations translator for a time, would hear something in Chinese, grasp what it would be in English, and then translate that into French.  The other type would be someone who grew up in a multi-lingual home and so thought in multiple languages and so goes directly from one language to another.  In this case, my sister, who has been known to think and even dream in French, would hear something in Chinese and understand it in French.  I don’t know how she does it, but it seems that Derek’s computer program is of the first type (translates from the language of the input to the language it knows, and from that to the language it outputs), which validates his solution, sort of.


Chapter 88, Kondor 203

I was concerned that I didn’t want to put too much time into Kondor’s dehydration, but I didn’t want it to seem as if he resolved it too quickly, either.  The notion that they would serve soup seemed to solve my fluids problem.  I was also considering coffee and tea, but I wasn’t certain whether ancient Persians would have coffee or tea or both or neither, so I ducked the issue.


Chapter 89, Slade 197

I spent a lot of time staring at this chapter in my brain.  I felt like everything was moving too quickly for credibility and too slowly for reader interest.  I did have three effectively different stages for progress, the building of the house, the combat training, and the engineering; and in engineering I always had at least three different projects progressing.  Yet there was a connection between one of the engineering projects and building the house–the central heat–so I found the progress on the latter stymied by the problems of the former.

I started this chapter with the intention of touching on all three stages, but I needed to get the house completed and to do that I needed to solve the heating problem.  I actually have no idea how those early systems worked, but I vaguely recall my great uncle adjusting the valve on the base of a radiator in their dawn of the (twentieth) century home, and I don’t know whether I’m remembering at all well, but it suggested a way to control the heat without having to control the boiler.  From there I decided I could push the construction forward, and that filled the chapter.


Chapter 90, Kondor 204

The Kondor story has been flowing nicely.  Unlike the other two stories, I’m more concerned about fitting everything into it before I have to move him out.

I briefly debated the name of the handmaid, but Zilpah was both the next name on the list and the name of the handmaid of the Leah in the Bible for whom I named this one, so it seemed the right choice.

I reminded myself that Joe and Leah are still newlyweds, and she is very attractive.


Chapter 91, Brown 223

I was struggling with how to have Derek accomplish something in this world and make it to the next one at a reasonable point in the story, and suddenly I had a couple ideas all at once.  I’m launching the first one here; the second one is that the colony ship has to find a suitable planet before the people are ready to colonize it, but I can get to that shortly.


Chapter 92, Kondor 205

I fit this together as I went, trying to give the impression of everyone pressing in to see Leah and incidentally interested in Joe.  I decided that English was less used here than at the Capital, and so most of the noise was in Farsi and Arabic.  I also decided that gossip was going to be more in focus here.


Chapter 93, Slade 198

I needed to move the story forward, so I decided to finish the house and get the Slades into it.  I didn’t want to jump too much, though, so they still need furnishings.


Chapter 94, Brown 224

I was going to push forward with the next events, but I realized that I wanted to include a collision avoidance incident which was probably too much too fast.  Instead I pushed forward most of my translation problem solution, and decided it was time to introduce Vashti to psionic skills.


Chapter 95, Kondor 206

I’m building an extension to the Arabian Nights world which will enable me to create a war of sorts.  I’m working from the political history of the ancient middle east, and in essence changing the names to something related to them.


Chapter 96, Brown 225

I had set this up as a Slade chapter, but then I decided that the best way to handle Slade was to leap forward a few months, and to give that feeling by skipping him here and doubling up on Derek and Kondor, so that’s what I did.

I had to check to confirm that Derek did not know how to tap speech centers, but figured he’d heard it mentioned so he would know it could be done.  Given his high psionic bias, it should be something he could learn easily.


Chapter 97, Kondor 207

I started this with setting up the training room, then looking for something else realized that Kondor had to meet Zilpah.  At first it was just a paragraph about the maid, but then I realized that it should be played out, so I started dialogue which went in unanticipated directions, and moved the information about the girl below the meeting, and then decided that my opening about setting up the training room was out of place, and moved it to the end.


Chapter 98, Slade 199

I needed to get Slade’s story moving forward, and I was thinking that it was going to head into winter, but that reminded me that the parakeet world had double-length years, so it would be a long summer.  It also struck me that given what I had accomplished he must have arrived in the early to mid spring, and summer was going to give me the opportunity to fast forward a bit.


Chapter 99, Brown 226

I was beginning the end of this story.  I needed Derek to steer the main ship, and find a suitable planet for colonization, fly one of the shuttles to investigate it, and then land The Wanderer on the planet’s surface to begin the colonization process.  Detecting a comet on potential collision course with the ship was the start.


Chapter 100, Kondor 208

I wanted to begin the end of Kondor’s story here as well, but I wanted to prefigure it so it wouldn’t seem as if I rushed into something just to remove him.  I had been considering it for a while, and had dropped a few hints, I think, but I needed to move that direction.


Chapter 101, Slade 200

The fact that the university engineering department was now turning out inventions that were changing the world was going to attract applicants who wanted to study there, so I recognized that there would be an influx of students, and that meant more birds to work on projects.  I still had motion pictures, lightbulbs, and internal combustion engines to build, so I got started on them.  I also have something of the same concern that Slade has:  what does he invent next?  Hopefully, though, that won’t become a problem.


Chapter 102, Brown 227

This was a significant step.  Derek is now actually flying the ship, Vashti having genuinely calculated the movement of spatial objects.  I have also introduced the target planet, and will be able to move this story to its finale soon.


Chapter 103, Kondor 209

This was the step forward that would move Kondor into a battle.  I was creeping forward with this, because I was not certain how to do it, but I managed to get the backstory in place.  I also needed to bring Leah and Zeke along, because if I manage to verse out Kondor on the battlefield I’ll need them to be relatively near.

I’ve been struggling with the notion that Leah’s maid might have to come with her when she verses out.  I’m thinking not, but it’s almost as if I need an excuse for her not to come.

The setup for the battle is based on the historic middle eastern situation, in which Syria, Assyria, and Egypt were three superpowers kept from swallowing up the small nations in their midst by their avoidance of confronting each other.  It was typical for one of the big nations to start moving on one of the smaller ones, and the smaller nation to call on one of the other big ones for aid.  This then resulted in the other nation sending out troops mostly to frighten the first, and the establishment of a “suzerainty treaty” under which the little nation would pay ongoing tribute to its rescuer.  One of the little nations in the mix then was Edom, the descendants of Esau, and so I decided to base my nation-in-trouble on it, but call it Esai, and its people Esites instead of Edomites.  I called the Egyptians the Copts, an ancient name for one of the peoples of that region preserved in the modern Coptic Orthodox Church.


Chapter 104, Slade 201

I had two purposes here.  One was that I needed new devices for Slade to invent.  The other was that even though the avians are going to be completely outmatched by the aliens, I wanted to advance the avian weaponry significantly, giving them Gatling guns and six-guns and other automatic weaponry.  However, I had to think through the sequence in which this could be created.


Chapter 105, Brown 228

I was working ahead in my mind through the several steps that were going to get the people to the planet and then beyond that remove Derek and Vashti from the universe.  If I had a problem now, it was that I was not sure whether Derek or Joe would verse out first, and that mattered.


This has been the fifth 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.