Fanthology 11.25.2020

Special Thanksgiving issue!

In light of tomorrow’s Turkey Day, here are a few things I found about the holiday’s origins:

From History.com (a site you should bookmark, by the way), a detailed list of who was at the first thanksgiving. It includes how and when the tradition took hold.

History.com also has a timeline of the holiday.

And speaking of timelines, Delish.com has details on exactly when to cook every dish for Thanksgiving Dinner. Lots of fabulous recipes included!

I Do Declare: God doesn’t want us cherry-picking our thanks

This year on Thanksgiving Day, when we have our ritual of going around the table and talking about what we’re thankful for, I will be thinking about the passage from 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (NRSV)

Reading that passage, I zero in on the word “all” and the fact that it doesn’t say “all the good.”

Yes, of course I give thanks for all the good – and there has been much, despite 2020’s attempts to bring me (and all of us) to our knees.

But it doesn’t say give thanks for all the good. It’s a directive to give thanks in all circumstances, not just the things that worked out the way I wanted. Everything. Even the things that I could’ve done without, the things that inconvenienced me, the things that hurt.

The passage doesn’t go into why – beyond the fact that this is God’s will (which should be all the “why” I need). I can guess at some of the reasoning, though.

I give thanks for the shutdowns, even though I hated having to do it. (Maybe it brought a greater awareness of the freedoms that I tend to take for granted?)

I give thanks that the case of Covid I got was relatively mild. (Maybe that will remind me to have a more mindful attitude about my health instead of my usual cavalier mindset?)

I give thanks that I was laid off earlier this year. (Maybe it nudged me into reawakening parts of my skill set that the company brushed away when I offered them?)

Yes, I give thanks for all those circumstances – and many others – though I know not why. Discovering that some people I trusted really weren’t my friends after all: Thank you. Having to dodge potshots on social media whenever I express an unpopular opinion: Thank you. Realizing that I’m going to have to endure a season of loneliness and failure and insecurity before I can push through to the other side, without knowing how long said season lasts or where the other side actually is: Thank you.

Truth be told, my show of gratitude doesn’t come without a dash of sarcasm and cynicism. That’s how I can proclaim the part of me that craves reason, the part that must know why, is sooooo grateful. Merci, Gracias. Thenk-ewe-veddy-much. Yeah, sure, thanks a lot.

And in the end, my need to know doesn’t matter. It’s not the point.

The point is that giving thanks in all circumstances is God’s will for me. All those times I cried out to the heavens asking what God wants me to do? Well, here’s my answer. Give thanks. For everything. And He does mean everything.

I’m reminded of a story about Corrie ten Boom, a Holocaust survivor who wrote about her experiences in a concentration camp. In one of the stories in her book “The Hiding Place,” she talks about how she and her sister, Betsy, smuggled a Bible into the camp, and they held Bible studies with the women in their barracks. And oh yeah, keep in mind, at that time and place, this was an executable offense.

On one occasion, they were studying this same passage from 1 Thessalonians, and Betsy pointed out they must give thanks for everything – being in the camp, the guards, the disgusting food, the fleas.

The fleas? Corrie said no, she would not give thanks for the fleas. What possible purpose did the fleas have? They were a nuisance, a bother, a pain. No need to give thanks for something like that.

Yes, Betsy insisted, give thanks even for the fleas.

Turns out, Corrie writes, the guards were aware of the fleas and this was the reason they stayed away from their barracks. Which allowed Corrie and Betsy to hold the Bible studies in relative peace.

I give thanks for this story too. It reminds me that giving thanks doesn’t have to mean we like the circumstances or want more of them. It simply means we acknowledge that God is bigger than the circumstances, and He is in control, not us.

Thank God.

And I mean that literally.

Fanthology 11.18.2020

Check out these tidbits I came across this week:

My computer went all wonky this morning, and I turned to Geek’s Advice for help. You should too, should you find yourself in such dire straits.

If you’re needing help with your ebook covers, Just Publishing Advice lists seven free book cover creators.

Also over at Just Publishing Advice, writer Derek Haines talks about how to spark your writing inspiration.

Film Courage checks in with Gordy Hoffman (BlueCat Screenplay Competition’s founder and judge) about what makes a screenplay stand out.

Good News Network shares this interesting article that posits the Lost Colony might have been found. It’s about time.

Fanthology 11.11.2020

Today’s recommendation deserves its own post.

Go Into The Story (GITS) is one of the best blogs out there for screenwriters and filmmakers. Scott Myers has hosted GITS since May 2008 and partners with Black List to present GITS as its official screenwriting blog.

The extensive archives hold a complete education in screenwriting. Check it out, you’ll see what I mean.

The item I’m highlighting today is Deep Focus: Film School on the Cheap, GITS’ post on resources put together by members of its community. It features five subject areas: movies, scripts and screenwriting, film analysis and criticism, filmmakers, and the evolution of filmmaking.

Be sure to bookmark the site. You’ll want to come back often.

I Do Declare: Election hostility is a matter of “it has always been thus”

You would think this year’s election was the most contentious, most divisive, most acrimonious of any election.

You would be wrong.

I did a little digging and found out that, when it comes to elections, rancor and spite is the order of the day.

To give you a bit of perspective – and hopefully help you regain your equilibrium – here are a few samples of previous U.S. presidential elections:

  • The 1800 presidential campaign between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams got heated up quickly. When Adams called Jefferson “a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow,” Jefferson retaliated by hiring a sleazy journalist names James Callender to smear John Adams in the press. Callender wrote that Adams had a “hideous hermaphroditical character” and spread the false story that Adams wanted to start a war with France. Jefferson ended up winning. Adams left before Jefferson’s inauguration. Though the two eventually patched things up (and wrote inspiring letters to one another), they wouldn’t speak to each other for 12 years.
  • George Washington spent his entire campaign budget on booze. True story. In 1758, when he was running for the Virginia House of Burgesses (the first legislative assembly of elected representatives in North America), he bought 160 gallons of liquor to serve to voters on election day. (Some say this wasn’t his fault. Apparently the custom of buying votes with booze was an English tradition brought over to the colonies.) Later, when he was running for his second term, Washington declared that someone running for president should not be too eager to seek it. Despite his earlier booze-vote-buying, he declared that campaigning was vulgar and undignified and that “the office should seek the man” rather than the other way round.
  • Now and then, one party will accuse the other of pulling voters from death records. The election of 1872 went one better when incumbent Ulysses S. Grant ran against a corpse. Grant’s opponent, Horace Greeley, died before the election was finalized. Grant won anyway, so there wasn’t as much controversy as there might have been had Greeley won. And because he cast it when he was still alive, Greeley’s vote did count.
  • When incumbent John Quincy Adams was challenged by Andrew Jackson in the 1828 election, the campaigning got personal. Jackson accused Quincy Adams of being a pimp for the Russian czar while serving as American ambassador. Quincy Adams in turn called Jackson’s wife a slut and his mother a prostitute. Jackson ended up winning, but he refused to pay the customary visit to the outgoing presidential when he came to Washington, and Quincy Adams refused to attend Jackson’s inauguration.
  • The election of 1892 was the first time a voting machine was used. It was actually invented years earlier, but candidates resisted using it because it precluded their ability to gain votes through wheeling and dealing.