less is more (formerly The Scoop)
is a  more or less monthly newsletter from author Ken Kuhlken

Woe is Us?
On Christian books, writers, publishers, and booksellers
To read from the beginning, go here. 

Part Four:

In Soul Survivor, Philip Yancey credits a dozen people as the foremost influences that allowed his survival as a Christian after a childhood witnessing the bigotry of his “Christian” family and church. Among these influences are several contemporary writers from whom we might gain some insight into overcoming the obstacles of cynical mainstream and narrowly focused Christian publishers.

Frederick Buechner was an accomplished and moderately successful writer before he turned serious about the Christian faith. Once committed, he returned to college to study theology and subsequently became the creator of a Christian studies program at Phillips Exeter Academy.  During a sabbatical, he created The Final Beast in which he combined his dual callings as a minister and a novelist. 

Biographer Marjorie McCoy wrote: "Buechner in his sermons had been attempting to reach out to the "cultured despisers of religion." In his novels, he has attempted the same.  Would that more of us could succeed in such an attempt.

Annie Dillard is most worthy of our study not only for the extraordinary precision and beauty of her prose but also for her brilliance of insight. Her Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, a nonfiction narrative about  the natural world near her home, led a critic to call her (because of her unflinching realism) "one of the foremost horror writers of the 20th Century." Acclaimed author Eudora Welty commented: "admirable writing that reveals a sense of wonder so fearless and unbridled ... an intensity of experience, that she seems to live in order to declare." Among the lessons we all can learn from Annie Dillard are to take our every word seriously, to follow our original light, and to believe that if we become good enough at our craft, people including publishers are apt to take notice and  choose to be our champions.

Shusaku Endo used his own experience to inform his historical Silence, which has been called one of the 20th century’s finest novels. The story tells of a Jesuit missionary sent to 17th century Japan where he endures persecution in the time of  "Hidden Christians". Its theme of a silent God who accompanies a believer in adversity was greatly influenced by the author’s experience of religious discrimination in Japan, racism in France, and a debilitating bout with tuberculosis.  Those of us looking for the best way to tell our own story and express our personal theme might consider, as Endo did, setting it in a popular genre.

In Part Five, I’ll note some other inspiring successes from whom we can learn and perhaps become valuable to a host of readers 
I had ideas of becoming a politician and running for state senate in this 2018 election. More than any other factor, what kept me from following through with that notion was, I got stricken by fatigue that so baffled my doctor I began thinking of him as Dr. Herzenstube, a character in The Brothers Karamazov whose common response to a patient’s condition is “I can make nothing of it.”
For no apparent reason, I feel somewhat healed. But though I have more energy, it’s too late to run for an office this year. Anyway, my time is filled with writing, publishing, attempting to market books, transforming Perelandra College, and helping my Zoe with her sports and college applications. Besides, a close appraisal has made me doubt if I could be a successful politician.
But at least I’m attempting to take voting more seriously. In that effort, I have consulted a few people more informed than I am about certain candidates and issues.

Yesterday, I phoned Vicki, a dear friend, an attorney, and asked if any of the people running for judicial offices were particularly worthy or otherwise. She only had one recommendation: Gary Kreep, she said, is dishonest, vile, so loathsome he can be fittingly described with so many other derogatory adjectives I found myself more impressed than ever with Vicki's vocabulary. So please, Californians, vote against Gary Kreep whose seemingly appropriate name should make him easy to remember.
And since my family is all about education and the choice of a California Superintendent of Public instruction found me wondering, I called my son Cody, a high school English teacher, and confirmed my suspicion that the choice between Tony Thurmond and Marshall Tuck (descendant of Friar Tuck?)  was essentially about the preservation of traditional public education versus the movement in favor of  charter schools, public and private. Cody confirmed that, in short, Thurmond is the choice of the California Teacher’s Association and public school teachers in general, while those who believe in Betsy DeVos and her mission to privatize education favor Marshall Tuck. Take your pick. In case my opinion should matter, I detest the whole idea of for profit schools.

Readers who live outside California might want to forward my observations to voters living here on the lower left coast. 
Other than those insights, all I will recommend is: study a little (at least), maybe ask some trustworthy and knowledgeable people, and please, please think critically, then vote.

While collecting songs from the Hickey Family novels onto a web page, I stumbled across a full concert from two guitar magicians and a trio of remarkable singers.
News and Notes from Perelandra College include an invitation to submit a story (at no charge) and perhaps earn a bunch of money
Wishing y'all love and boundless hope.

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