Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Going on Vacation!

I'll be out-of-town and away from my computer for several days. My friend and law partner, Steve Maroney, who I mentioned in a post yesterday, MAY guest blog in my absence.

Let me know how Steve does (if he posts) and I'll post again when I return.
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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Step In The Right Direction

The U.S. Senate passed a bill today that -- if it becomes law -- would strengthen the parental notification laws. This is a victory for pro-life groups and the Bush administration. It will be interesting to see if the house version and the senate version can be reconciled. The senate version has more teeth and hopefully it won't get watered down in committee. President Bush is anxious to sign this legislation.

After I wrote this post I noticed another article that I wanted to bring to your attention about the "religious left". Is this anything new? Will the religious left have any influence on the 2006 and 2008 elections? Personally, I doubt it.

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All About Jackson

Kudos to my friend and law partner, Steve Maroney, for being named Statesman of the Year by the Tennessee Republican Party! It is quite an honor and a well deserved recognition for Steve. He has worked tirelessly for republican causes for many years.

Jackson, Tennessee, is a unique place in many respects and has a lot of history, political and otherwise. This past Sunday Senate Marjority Leader Bill Frist was in town. I wasn't able to attend that event but did attend a fundraiser Sunday evening for my friend Ed Bryant.

The Bill Frist event was held at the home of Bart and Debbie Swift. Debbie is the daughter of the father of rockabilly music, Carl Perkins. Yes, that Carl Perkins. Although born in Mason, Tennessee, Carl Perkins lived most of his life in Jackson.

Another thing most people don't know is that the original Hard Rock Cafe was in Jackson, Tennessee. The Hard Rock was founded by Issac Tigrett. Issac's grandfather founded the GM&O Railroad in Jackson and reared his family here. His grandson, Issac, opened the Hard Rock Cafe in the local mall, then closed it before opening the one in London.

The famed train engineer, Casey Jones lived in Jackson at the time of his death. And the man who created the foundation for the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center was born, reared, educated and began his career in Jackson, Tennessee.

I could go on and on but you get the point. For a small city in West Tennessee, Jackson has a lot of history. I enjoy living here and I like to incorporate it into my novels.

What does all of this have to do with writing fiction? Everything. To create a credible story an author must write about things he/she knows about. I don't know anything about Chicago or Dallas or Seattle but I know a lot about Jackson, TN, (although I'm not a native) and about politics and the law. I hope that makes my novels credible.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Faith and Nationalism

There is a new movement called "Radical Faith" of which we all should be aware. It seems that some advocate a "religious obligation to avoid the entanglement of faith and national pride." Michael Medved has an interesting article in today's USA Today about this subject. He takes the position that faith and nationalism are indivisible. Medved states that those "separationists" who claim a patriotic duty to block the blending of religion and politics face some very practical problems.

Many who support the position that there should be a separation between church and state claim that it is based in the constitution. That is simply wrong. That phrase arises out of a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut. It is amazing to me that the judiciary has over the years taken that phrase by Thomas Jefferson and given it the same precedent as the constitution.

Dr. Richard Land, Executive Director of the Ethics & Religious Liberties Commission, supports the wall of separation, not to keep the church out of government but to keep the government out of the church. He opposed, to some degree, President Bush's faith based initiatives and advised Southern Baptist churches to not accept any money from the government for these programs.

This is an interesting issue. Is it possible for the Church to be actively involved in government but at the same time keep the government from being actively involved in the Church?

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Saving the Pledge of Allegiance

I don't have much time to blog today but did want to point out an article about the Pledge of Allegiance. The House of Representatives passed legislation that would bar federal courts from ruling on constitutional issues arising from the Pledge including the phrase "one nation under God."

One of the congessmen quoted in this article was Zach Wamp, a republican congressman from the 3rd congressional district of Tennessee. I appreciate Zach's stance on this issue.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

2008 Presidential Politics

I'm a republican and don't make any bones about it. So this post is about (some but not all) potential republican candidates for the presidency. There may be democratic candidates who share my conservative values but I haven't found them yet.

Although the mid-term elections are still over two months away, the potential candidates for the 2008 republican nomination for president are already trying to build support for their candidacy. Massachusetts governer Mitt Romney will be in Franklin, TN, on August 4 to speak at an event. There are some in Tennessee who are already promoting him for the White House. Romney has publicly stated that he is pro-life and pro-marriage.

Another potential candidate for the republican nomination is Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Some are touting him for president in 2008. Huckabee is a former Baptist minister, is pro-life and pro-marriage. Like Romney, it appears that Huckabee is drumming up support in Tennessee for his candidacy. He was recently in Tennessee at a Reagan Day dinner.

It appears that Romney and Huckabee are trying to make in-roads on Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's turf. No wonder Frist is scheduled to be in Jackson, TN, (my hometown) this Sunday for a public appearance. He can't let Romney and Huckabee cut too far into his support base in Tennessee.

Christians will have to sift through these candidates (and others like Sam Brownback and John McCain and Rudy Giuliani) to see who most closely represent the beliefs we hold dear.

Both the mid-term elections this November and the 2008 presidential election are important. Just like these potential candidates are beginning to test the water for support, we as Christians need to begin testing these candidates against our Christian worldview.
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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Primary Upset?

Before I get into today's post, I want to tell you about a new website I discovered. I told you that we are rearranging our vacation because of the state baseball tournament. A part of our vacation was to attend an Atlanta Braves baseball game. We already had the tickets. Tuesday night I listed the tickets for sale on Stub Hub, and by Wednesday morning they were sold. We then ordered tickets for a different game, again through Stub Hub. Both transactions were quick and easy.

Now today's post. The primary in Georgia to see who would represent the republican party in the general election for lieutenant governor pitted Ralph Reed against Casey Cagle. Reed previously was president of Christian Coalition and then became a lobbyist. His campaign was hindered by ties to Jack Abramhoff. There are a lot of things that happen during a campaign but likely this one thing -- Reed's connection to Abramhoff -- altered the outcome of the election. Casey Cagle won the primary. I don't know anything about him but his website indicates he is a pro-life, pro-marriage conservative Christian. I hope that's true. And if you live in Georgia, I'd enjoy hearing your take on this race.

In previous posts I've talked about the need to support Christians who are seeking elected office. If what Cagle's website (and news reports I've read on-line) portrays is accurate, then he is the type of candidate individuals with a Christian worldview should be supporting.
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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Conservative Christian Political Candidate

I know very little about Sam Brownback, senator from Kansas. But I think this article in today's USA Today is interesting and discusses some issues that I've mentioned in previous posts.

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The Best Laid Plans

My family and I plan our vacation months in advance. As active as our lives are we find that there are very few weeks in the year where we don't have any conflicts. We study the calendar, determine when school gets out in the spring and when the next school year begins. We map out all the kids' activities (baseball games, cheerleading camps, church camps, etc.) and try to identify the one week in the summer when we can take a trip to our favorite destination.

But you know what they say about the best laid plans. Both of my sons made their respective all-star baseball teams. The younger son's team didn't advance beyond the first round. I expected similar results with the older son's team -- but they surprised me. They won the district tournament last night to advance to the state tournament, and you know when it is, right? You guessed it. During vacation week. Oh well.

The same is true in publishing. In the summer of 2000 when I decided to write a novel, my plan was to simply write the novel believing that if I did it would be published. That was naive and not very good planning. I have a stack of rejection letters and e-mails to prove it. It takes a great proposal to even get noticed. And once you finally find a publisher that believes in your work and is willing to take a chance, the really hard part begins. Marketing.

If your writing a novel or trying to get one published, your plan must have at least three components. 1. Write the best possible story you can -- one that sets the hook on the first page. 2. Write a killer proposal that grabs acquisition editors' attention immediately. 3. From the moment you write the first word in your manuscript be thinking about marketing. Publishers not only desire great writing but they also need to have a comfort level that your book will sell.

And remember that sometimes even the best laid plans go awry.
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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Why Do I Write Christian Fiction?

When friends, family and acquaintances learn that I have written a novel they invariably ask two questions. The first is, "What's your book about?" and the second is "Why Christian fiction?" To answer the first question I give them my silver bullet and direct them to read an excerpt. The second question is a little more difficult to answer.

First, from a pure business standpoint I see the Christian fiction market as a growing market. Publishers Weekly reported in June 2002 that fiction represented bewteen 12% and 15% of adult book sales in Christian stores, up from 4.3% in 1985. And the market is still growing. Just search "Christian fiction" in your favorite search engine and/or go to your local bookstore.

The second reason is that I want to convey a message of the impact Christians can have if they see things through a Christian/Biblical worldview. And to convey that message through entertaining stories.

The third reason is family. My mother has been a huge Janette Oke fan for as long as I can remember. And my children love to read. I tell my wife all the time that I have three jobs: My law practice; writing; and coaching youth sports. Although I get paid for the first (and hopefully someday for the second!), I enjoy my third job the best. Our older son (and middle child) is still playing baseball. His all-star team plays tonight to see if they advance to the state tournament. I told him last night that it is a "no lose" situation. If they win, they play for a state championship. If they get beat, we go on vacation! Family is important to me.

So why do I write Christian fiction as opposed to ABA fiction? The main reason is family. I want to write stories that I would be proud for my mother or for my children to read.
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Monday, July 17, 2006

Two Sides to Every Story

The Republican primary race to replace Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is down to its last few days. An interesting story developed Friday between the campaign for Bob Corker and the campaign for my friend, Ed Bryant. This story goes to show you that the old adage "[a]ll politics are local" still rings true. Bob Corker is getting ridiculed by some for not debating the other candidates in certain parts of the state. Reportedly, he backed out of the only statewide debate between the three republican candidates. People dressed in chicken costumes have been appearing at some of Corker's campaign stops. At one such stop someone in a chicken costume allegedly ran his/her car over an angry Corker supporter. The Chattanooga Times Free Press gave this account of what transpired while the Nashville Tennessean reported that the angry Corker supporter attacked the "young kid['s]" car. Do events like this sway voters?

This primary is important on a nationwide basis. Whoever wins will face Harold Ford, Jr. in the November general election. Should the Repulicans loose this seat it could shift the balance of power in the U.S. senate.

A Bryant campaign insider told me that Ed Bryant is making gains and that the third candidate, Van Hilleary, is in a free fall. Ed needs to pick up as many of Hilleary's voters as possible to beat Corker. As I mentioned a few days ago, Ed Bryant is a stand-up guy, and is a Christian. We need folks like Ed Bryant in the U.S. Senate. This election is important.
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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Should Churches Be Involved In Politics?

Before I write about today's topic, I want to update yesterday's post. I mentioned the federal appellate court decision which arose out of Nebraska and the state court decision in Tennessee. I failed to mention two other important decisions, one from a New York state appellate court (anyone suprised by this?) and the other from the Georgia State Supreme Court. These decisions had pro-family groups celebrating.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I believe these are important decisions. I believe that issues regarding family and marriage are best left to the citizens of their respective states who can influence action in these areas either through their state legislatures and/or by voting on constitutional amendments at the polls. Courts (particularly federal courts) should not be defining marriage.

Now to today's post. What about politics in the church? Good or bad? There is an interesting article from Reuters about a church in Ohio that is actively involved in Republican politics. I'm not sure I agree with a church being involved in politics but certainly support the notion that evangelical Christians should be more involved in the political processes. Evangelical Christians need to either be running for elected office in local, state and national races, or intensely supporting other Christians who are.

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Important Court Decisions

I believe it is important that we as Christians always think and see things in terms of a Christian or Biblical worldview. That is why two recent court decisions should be important to Christians. First is a decision by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals held that a constitutional amendment approved by 70% of the residents of Nebraska was constitutional. The amendment stated that only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in Nebraska. This amendment was approved by the citizens of Nebraska in 2000. 2000!! It has been almost 6 years since the amendment was adopted! Liberal interest groups have been fighting against the will of 70% of the people since then and I suspect they will continue to fight. I predict the ACLU will try to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The other recent decision was by the Tennessee Supreme Court. Over the objection of the ACLU, residents of Tennessee will now be allowed to vote on a gay marriage ban. My bet is that the ACLU will continue to fight and will seek an injunction in federal court to prevent the matter from being on the November ballot. Or (perhaps and) will sue in federal court after the election (assuming the measure passes) to have the amendment declared unconstitutional -- as it attempted to do in Nebraska.

These are important decisions. If those of us with Christian/Biblical worldviews hope to win the cultural war in our great country, then we need decisions like these--and more of them.
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Can The Republicans hold onto Congress?

Some political pundits (as happens around this time every election year) are predicting that the Democrats will re-take one or both houses of Congress this year. Republicans have maintained control of both the senate and the house of representatives since Newt Gingrich's Contract with America in 1994.

There are some critical senate races this year that could shape the landscape of American politics for years to come. One is the democratic primary in Conneticut where incumbent Joe Lieberman is in a fight within his own party to hang onto his seat. DrudgeReport has a link to an article that suggest that Senator Lieberman's embrace (the "Judas' Kiss"?)with President Bush following the State of the Union Address this year may seal Lieberman's fate. Do you find it interesting that the 2000 democratic Vice Presidential candidate could be in jeopardy of being pushed aside by his own party 6 years later?

Another important race is here in my own state. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is not seeking re-election. He's probably running for the White House in 2008 although I don't think he has officially announced his intentions. If recent history in Tennessee is a measuring stick then whoever wins the republican primary will be the next senator from Tennessee. I'm supporting Ed Bryant. Recent polls show Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., a democratic congressman from Memphis, tied or leading against the three candidates in the republican primary. I think it would be a huge upset if the democrats could capture Bill Frist's seat.

Republicans maintain a narrow majority in the senate. Any change in leadership in that body could drastically impact America for years to come. There are still many of President Bush's judicial appointments that need to be confirmed by the senate. Democratic control of the senate would certainly hamper those appointments.

The point is that elections are important. Please take the time to vote.
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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Well, my website and blog are now operational. On my blog we are going to talk about politics, faith and the Christian publishing market (a real mystery at times). I hope you'll join in the discussion.

With the battles being waged in Israel and Palestine, I would highly recommend Joel Rosenberg's novel,The Ezekiel Option . It is a fascinating end-times thriller about the battle of Gog and Magog described in Ezekiel 38 and 39.

The Election will hit the streets on September 5. It has received several favorable endorsements. You can check those out on the news & reviews button my website.

Terry Whalin has a post today at his site, The Writing Life about the sale of Multnomah. Check it out.

That's all for today.
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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Welcome to the Christian Political Fiction Blog. Check back soon for new postings.
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