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Lorehaven’s Winter 2018 Issue Will Be Home for Christmas

Lorehaven Magazine’s fourth issue will hit cyber-stands weeks before Christmas.
| Dec 4, 2018 | No comments |

‘Tis the season to update you about our spinoff publication, Lorehaven Magazine.

We’re now three issues into this free, quarterly resource. Lorehaven finds truth in fantastic stories, thanks to creative and useful book reviews, great articles for Christian geeks and parents, and in-depth explorations of story truths and themes.

Anyone can subscribe for free. Each season you get a new magazine to download free (as a PDF). Or, as of the fall 2018 issue, you can read each article on the site.

Now, it’s beginning to look a lot like our winter 2018 issue.

Edits are wrapping this week,1 and Lorehaven Magazine’s fourth issue will hit cyber-stands weeks before Christmas.

EDIT: the issue released Dec. 12! Download your PDF copy, or read it online, with a free subscription.

That’s plenty of time to discover what Christian fantasy books our review team2 loved, and see which of these tales your family and friends might enjoy finding in the mail or under the tree this holiday season.

We’ll keep those book titles secret for now. But why not sneak over to the tree, pick up the wrapped box, and shake it a bit, just to guess at what’s inside?

Novelist Thomas Locke (courtesy Thomas Locke)

Cover story: ‘I Came to Faith, and Two Weeks Later I Started Writing’

For this story, I interviewed Thomas Locke from his home in Oxford, England. Locke has spent decades crafting fantasy and science fiction for Christian and general markets. What a fantastic conversation! We explored his testimony of faith and creative excellence. Locke also shared much about where he sees Christian creative fantasy is going (spoiler: into frontiers beyond the church stores of yesteryear).

Featured review: Enclave

Of course, we got our hands on Thomas Locke’s new novel, Enclave (Nov. 2018). We’ll have the full review exclusively in the magazine. Here on SpecFaith, watch for more behind-the-scenes trivia from Locke about the secret themes of Enclave.

Captain’s Log

This month, I discovered I haven’t been associating Christmas first with biblical images such as Nativity scenes, shepherds, and stars. …

So what images reach my imagination first? Read more of my biblical rationalizations on page 3 of the magazine.

Fanservants: Are We ‘Introverted’ Toward God?

Paeter Frandsen

Paeter Frandsen, Fanservants columnist, Lorehaven Magazine

To this day, I’m still unsure if I’m an “introvert.” Probably 55 percent of the time I feel like one, so Paeter Frandsen’s challenge for Christian geeks gently convicted me. In a very good way. I love how Paeter speaks as “one of us,” with a fanman’s enthusiasm yet a pastoral soul. Here’s how he starts his article:

I wonder if we as Christian geeks are sometimes more comfortable with God as an idea than as a person.

Granted, God is so unfathomable in so many ways that it’s easy for us to slip into thinking of him more conceptually than personally. But it can also easily become our preference to keep him at a distance. …

Fanservants: The Biblical Source of Super-Strength

Marian Jacobs

Marian Jacobs, Fanservants columnist, Lorehaven Magazine

Shortly before Lorehaven’s spring 2018 issue released, we recruited Marian Jacobs. She had written this fantastic article about fantasy for parents here on SpecFaith. Since then, she has articulated her hands-on ideas in Lorehaven. Also, my wife and I have since met her, and her husband Timothy, and their three super children.

Are superheroes real?

Our children would love to think so. …

Idolatry is never a good thing, but is there a way to teach our children to enjoy superheroes in a healthy, biblical way? …

Support from storytellers

Amidst this great content, the winter 2018 issue is overflowing with advertisements. These come from publishers and authors with stories you’ll love to explore.

They don’t pop up, buzz with viruses, or blare seventeen tips for XYZ and what happened next left them speechless. They don’t sneak dubious tracking cookies into your browser—the kind that fetch pseudo-relevant ads for that toothpaste whose name you casually mentioned yesterday within earshot of your phone.

Nope. We’ve only carefully chosen ads of specific interest to the Christian fantasy fan.3

Meanwhile, back at SpecFaith …

Lorehaven Magazine, fall 2018 issueAfter each Lorehaven issue releases, we approach authors whose books we’ve reviewed. We invite them to spend a week or so at the Lorehaven Book Clubs group on Facebook.4 We also invite these authors to pitch a guest article here at SpecFaith. Lately we’ve spotted these star creatives:

2019 and beyond

Finally, we ask you to put several requests on your prayer-wish list for next year. Please pray for:

  • Even better and more beautiful books to review in new issues.
  • Amazing authors whose tales we can share with new fans.
  • Ways to take Lorehaven into churches, classes, cons, and beyond.
  • Divine protection from temptation, false teaching, and other ills.
  • Our hard-working staff, their families, and all their creative works!
  • Us to meet this unspoken need for great stories among Christians.

Finally, pray Lorehaven will even help to resurrect all Christian-made stories—not just in churches or niche stores, but in the hearts of Jesus’s people.

  1. Shout-out to the Lorehaven editorial team, including editor Elijah David, review chief Austin Gunderson, and layout designer Jane Hammer.
  2. Shout-out also to our fantastical review team, which as of the winter 2018 issue includes Avily Jerome, Elizabeth Kaiser, Shannon McDermott, Audie Thacker, and Phyllis Wheeler.
  3. Aspiring Lorehaven advertisers, start here. You’ll reach ads manager Zac Totah, who’s also been a prolific writer right here on SpecFaith.
  4. Another shout-out goes to novelist Steve Rzasa, Lorehaven’s book clubs coordinator, for his worldbuilding efforts here!

Truth Or Reality In Fantasy

We are drawn to the truth, to the clear explanation that there is a good ruler, a right way, a guardian-king, and we can side with him.

Recently I read an article at Tor.com, “The World is a Weird, Dark Place — Fantasy Helps Us Make Sense of It,” by Jonathan Robb, that sparked my thinking about truth and reality in fantasy. In the article Robb praised the works of George R. R. Martin, first by giving his own history with fantasy. He was introduced at a young age to C. S. Lewis and the world of Narnia, then went on to J. R. R. Tolkien and other established fantasy writers. The thread he saw which these books all shared was their good versus evil trope.

However, as he grew older, he realized that the world around him did not fall into the neat camps of good and evil. “Good people” could let someone down and “evil people” could do heroic things.

As shades of grey entered my real world, my fantasy worlds started to suffer for it. I continued to digest authors of similar ilk to Eddings—David Gemmell, Raymond E. Feist, and Robert Jordan—those writers who adhered to the familiar rules of fantasy. In their universes there was always a dark lord, or dark army, to pit oneself against. It was pretty clear—the heroes usually just needed to attack the evil-looking creatures of the night attempting to kill the innocent villages in order to win the day.

But this no longer squared with what I was exposed to in the real world. Those identifiable attributes that marked someone as Good or Evil simply didn’t hold up. No one could live up to the title of hero—so that either meant there were no heroes, or it was far more complicated than I’d been led to believe.

Along came George R. R. Martin and his world in Game of Thrones that seemed to reflect the Tor writer’s own understanding of the world: good and evil aren’t actually cut and dried.

Fantasy has always helped me understand the world, from the metaphors it employs, to the parallels with our own world, to the thoughtful exploration of its themes—one of the most important being the struggle between good and evil. . . I’m thankful, too, to the worlds of George R.R. Martin for helping me understand the profound depths and messiness of the same concepts, and that being a hero or a villain is never that straightforward—a realization that’s surprisingly reassuring, in the end.

Writers often hear instruction that characters in fiction, even the villains, need some redeeming qualities, because reality shows us there aren’t characters of pure evil or pure good.

Even in Christian fiction, the cry seems to be for fiction that reflects reality, even when the story is supernatural or science fiction or fantasy. The reality factor is the idea that the story reflects the world as we know it in some way. And certainly what we know is something of an odd mixture of good and evil, as Jonathan Robb noted in his article. There are no Mordors run by evil-eye rulers that hold the world under its control by making war on Gondor There are no Rangers who roam the world to fight for the right and protect the hapless hobbits who are clueless of the conflict raging around them.

Or are there?

In truth, the fantasies that show the fight between good and evil are less apt to depict reality as we see it, and more apt to depict truth as we know it from Scripture—the truth of the spiritual world.

From this perspective, George R. R. Martin may be writing the reality we are familiar with, but is he neglecting the truth that defines the world? Why does this matter?

For one thing, fantasy readers—Jonathan Robb included—resonate with the truth that there is good and evil and that there is a war between these opposing factors. Young readers may not know or care that the “black and white” of the world they are seeing represents a world inside their hearts, and a war raging in the spiritual realm. They just know they “get it,” that they want to be on the side of the good, that they understand what’s at stake for the world if the evil should win.

I believe that’s no less than the eternity God has set in our hearts or as others have phrased it, the God-shaped vacuum in each of us. We are drawn to the truth, to the clear explanation that there is a good ruler, a right way, a guardian-king, and we can side with him.

But writing fantasy and supernatural that cares more about reality than truth, changes the paradigm and brings up a series of questions. Does fantasy always reflect the spiritual world? Should supernatural suspense always reflect the truth presented in the Bible? How does an emphasis on reality affect our view of the truth?

For instance I read a book this past year in which a character found a portal into hell which she entered to bring a character she didn’t think belonged there back to this world, even at the risk of being trapped there herself. Was there truth in this story? Was there even reality? Or was this simply a story about pretend people in pretend places doing pretend things?

If the latter, has that type of fiction lost a grip on both reality and on truth?

I find it interesting that in a world in which most people believe humans are good, the books (and TV programs) that have become so popular are the ones that show good people doing rotten things or evil people doing noble deeds. Instead of ascribing to the Bible’s explanation, that we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God, however, we simply excuse or dismiss or blame others for the evil that we see in all of us. We like the anti-hero because he gets the job done. We chastise the good guy for his failure—he should have stayed the course, but in the end, he let us down. Not because he’s evil. Clearly he wasn’t or we would not have believed him to be a good guy at first.

In short, the lines have become blurred between evil and good, and the public seems to like it so.

How are Christians to respond? Some people would suggest that we should stop consuming fantasy and supernatural fiction. Some say fiction is nothing but entertainment and a discussion about reality and truth has no place when talking about any type of speculative fiction. Others might conclude that Christians have an opportunity to make a statement by our viewing or reading habits and by our writing, to hold the line for truth: actual good and actual evil exist.

In the great fantasies, truth and reality merge. Perhaps today we have learned to settle for one or the other instead of looking for stories, or writing stories, that accomplish both.

My Hero Academia: True Heroics in a Quirky World

My Hero Academia doesn’t just pit heroes versus villains, but seriously explores the nature of true heroism.
| Nov 30, 2018 | 9 comments |

It’s a bit strange that the main character in a blockbuster anime series is a freckle-faced boy with curly green hair who cries a lot. Strange, yes, and yet My Hero Academia is simply one of the more compelling stories around today.

My Hero Academia is set in the present day, but with one difference from the real world: quirks. At the time the story begins, 80 percent of the world’s population has some form of quirk, something like a genetic mutation that makes them different from the formerly normal, quirkless people, giving them special abilities or changing them physically.

Midoriya Izuku, a young boy not yet in high school, is one of that decreasing number of people born quirkless. This has been a major obstacle in the way of his dream of becoming a superhero like his idol, All Might, Japan’s number one hero. But when All Might sees Midoriya’s heroic heart in action, despite Midoriya being quirkless, he tells the boy a secret; All Might himself was born quirkless, but was given a special quirk, one that can be passed along from one person to another, and All Might has decided that Midoriya will be the person to whom All Might will pass the quirk.

Midoriya enrolls in UA, Japan’s most prestigious high school designed to train heroes and those who support them. But school life for heroes in training isn’t just about hitting the books. Midoriya and his classmates are not just tested by school events, but also in serious ways in the real world as they learn more and more about what being a true hero really means.

My Hero Academia: season 1

The story of the fight

I’ll sometimes find a story, usually a movie, with lots of action and conflict but that still feels flat. There may be lots of gunfire, chase scenes, aliens shooting lasers, people about to fall to their deaths, and so on. But as a viewer, none of this seems to matter.

Maybe I’m being unfair, but it’s rather as if the conflicts are inserted into the story simply because that’s what the formula calls for.

My Hero Academia is a story with no shortage of fight scenes. But one thing the author does well, and which is well translated into the anime, is that almost every fight serves to develop some or all of the characters involved.

For example, one significant battle early in the series occurs during the UA Sports Festival, a match between Midoriya and his classmate Todoroki. The story focuses on Todoroki, a boy whose powerful quirk combines the quirks of both his parents. But he grew up in a family shattered by his father’s bitterness and ambitions, so he has decided to not use the part of his quirk he inherited from his father. His internal conflict plays a big part in his fight with Midoriya, and the match reveals a lot about both characters.

What is a hero?

So far, My Hero Academia has focused on the question: What is a hero?

Midoriya sees All Might as the ideal to follow. All Might is a hero who saves people while always wearing a smile, and who inspires hope in those he helps and in everyone who sees him. But at UA, Midoriya has met other heroes with very different personalities. Teese include Eraserhead, his class’s teacher, who is brooding and sometimes sarcastic, but who will fight his hardest when he thinks his students are in danger; Endeavor, an angry and sullen man whose ambitions have left his family a wreck; and the Wild Wild Pussycats, a group that focuses on rescuing people who get in trouble in the forest.

Although the series focuses mainly on battles–either between students or between heroes and criminals–it also emphasizes the less glamorous but still important aspect of rescuing people after disasters, and treats those rescue heroes respectfully.

But this world of heroes also has its questionable side. Since heroism is a career, heroes have to think about how to make a living being a hero. So their society places a lot of stress on popularity polls and public perception. To some extent, this theme stays constant in the series, but it becomes the biggest source of conflict in the brief but intense arc involving Hero Killer Stain.

Stain wages a one-man crusade to clean up hero society. His views can be summed up in his own words from episode 28:

“Hero is a title given only to those who have accomplished great deeds. There are too many … too many who act like heroes but are really money-worshippers.”

My Hero Academia: Hero Killer StainStain targets heroes he considers to be unworthy of the name. When Midoriya and a couple of his classmates face off against Stain, the conflict is as much about questions of how heroes should act as it is the physical combat.

The only real hero

Hero-worship is something that is common, but is also very much a problem. There’s an old Christian rock classic, Steve Taylor’s Hero, that does well in telling us the problem:

Heroes died when the squealers bought ’em off
Died when the dealers got ’em off
Welcome to the “in it for the money as an idol” show
When they ain’t as big as life
When they ditch their second wife
Where’s the boy to go?1

There are things we can say about Christ that, while they may be true, they can be said in ways that make them shallow and vacuous. To say that “Jesus is my hero” is one of those things. It is true, but left to itself it’s just trite, an empty phrase that appears spiritual but says nothing, and can be about as silly as Sonseed singing “Jesus is a Friend of Mine.”

It’s only if a person takes that phrase, and fills it in with the reasons why it is true, that the phrase becomes more than a bit of thoughtless nonsense.

We were in serious trouble, we were dead in our sins, we were enemies of God, we were hopeless, and we were unable to do anything to help ourselves. We had broken every command God had given to us, we had sinned time and time again.

At the right time, God the Father sent Jesus, God the Son, into the world, born of a virgin. Jesus lived his life perfectly, sinlessly keeping all of God’s laws. His death was the atoning sacrifice for our sins, a sacrificial death he died even when we were still sinners. What we could not do for ourselves, make ourselves clean from our sins and save ourselves from the just judgment of Hell, Christ has done of us and offers to us freely, as a gift.

This is how we can take the triteness out of the phrase, “Jesus is my hero,” and see the great and serious aspects of it. Jesus is our Savior, he is our Lord, he is our salvation, he is our redeemer and rescuer. In the grand story of the world’s history, a story that paints in blindingly bold colors the realities of original sin and man’s fallenness, Jesus is the only hero.


Although My Hero Academia does at times slip in some not-so-good stuff, like occasional fanservice, this story has turned out to be an excellent series. The story showcases a good mix of humor and light moments, while also able to bring sufficient weight when the story calls for it. The manga is well ahead of the anime series, and since the anime is on a bit of a pause for a few months to prepare for the next season, it’s likely the anime will continue for quite a while longer. I’ll give it a very strong recommendation.

  1. Lyrics from the website Sock Heaven.

Speculative Fiction Writers Guide to War, part 12: Military Training Types

The military training of hereditary warrior castes, barbarians, paid professional soldiers, draftees, militias, and levies have varied. Use these types of training in your stories–or use knowledge of them to stand tropes on their head.

Travis P here. Our last post on this topic looked at the military training for the very best warriors in both fiction in reality–and please note when we say “best” we mean the most capable, especially able to fight no matter the circumstances, and the most able to resist the psychological pressures of war that cause soldiers to fail to perform when they need to do so. (“Best” in this context is definitely not directly equivalent to “most moral.”)

It’s never been true that every warrior has been elite–historically, a great many nations have lacked the time, money, or knowledge to train any soldier to the highest possible level. And among those nations able to train elite troops, it simply hasn’t been normal to train every last warrior to the highest level. Even the Romans, who hold the record of any historic civilization in terms of the percentage of its population it put in arms, who also adopted a great deal of standardized training in an attempt to make every member of its legions elite relative to other militaries of its time, had its Praetorian Guard. Even the Romans had elite troops who were better than all the rest.

Further posts will build from our base of discussing training to talk about how nations form and supply armies, and how the “supply side” of producing warriors affects how a nation, or a demi-human race, or even an alien species fights battles. We will also talk about types of warriors by weapon and the battle formations they use in more detail, as well as differences between land-centric military forces and those oriented toward naval, aerial, and other domain combat. But for now, let’s stick with observations about types of warriors based on their training. I’d say there are 3 different kinds of warriors by training type with a couple of subtypes each (speaking as generally as I can):

A. Cultural Warriors: Everything they know about fighting they learn from infancy.

Hereditary Warriors. Credit: Travis Perry

  1. Hereditary warrior castes–paid (professional) cultural warriors: Formal military training is passed down from father to son or is arranged by paid professionals or skilled slaves. Note that unlike barbarians, these warriors require other social classes/castes in their same society to provide them with food and material goods. Samurai, medieval knights, and Spartans were all hereditary warriors–though the Spartans have the distinction of requiring every free male to be a hereditary warrior (Spartan helots–slaves–provided labor to grow the food and produce the goods Spartans needed to survive). Note that being a hereditary warrior has often been tied to land ownership in the historic past. A certain parcel of land sufficient to supply the food and equipment needs of the warriors was under the stewardship and control of the same warriors (payment was rarely in currency). A special type of warrior caste were various slave warriors, like the Janissaries of the Ottoman Empire. These slaves would be raised from childhood to fight, but would lack the status in their society that samurai or medieval knights were privileged with (and would not control the land used to meet their supply needs).

    Barbarian warriors. Credit: Travis Perry

  2. Barbarians (or tribal)–unpaid (non-professional) cultural warriors: Nobody in the society receives any formal military training per se, but everyone lives in a harsh environment, where survival is difficult. Everyday life constitutes a type of training–whereas samurai and knights went hunting largely to practice weapon skills that are useful in combat, barbarians hunt to stay alive. And while Spartans and Starship Troopers might spend time in a wilderness area to pass survival skills training, barbarians live in harsh areas every day. Barbarians do engage in various contests of strength and types of play combat with one another, but their training lacks scientific principles of formal study. Think of the Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania, our cultural representation of the sea-going Danes and Vikings of Scandinavia, and many Germanic tribes of the Roman era.

B. Paid Professionals: Fighting is a profession they learn and improve after joining the military. They serve for a pre-designated period of time and are usually paid in currency.

Roman volunteer professional soldiers. Credit: about-history.com

  1. Volunteer professionals who may or may not see military service as a lifelong career: Formal military training is usually involved and generally happens in adulthood or late teen years. Training is generally well-designed, so paid professional soldiers are usually quite capable–though in fact the quality of these soldiers vary greatly from nation to nation, with poor nations generally unable to give any but a tiny minority of their force quality training. The Roman Empire is well-known for employing this technique, using tax revenues to pay the salaries of its legionnaires. (Note that at one time, roughly 1/8th of all men in the Roman Empire were in the military–which is the highest percentage of paid professional warriors of any historic society). Starship Troopers also portrays a volunteer military made of paid professionals, though they were motivated more by patriotism than pay. Voluntary professionals exist across a spectrum of motivations ranging from pure altruism/patriotism with little concern for rewards all the way to the base mercenary fighting, voluntarily, for pay with no care for the specific cause.
  2. Conscripts (draftees): Like volunteer professionals, conscripts

    US Army draftees at Fort Dix during the 1960s. (Photo by Leif Skoogfors/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

    usually receive formal training after joining the military, even though they don’t volunteer. At times conscript training has been very basic, but at other times is identical to the training the volunteers get. Conscripts are forced to serve spend time in the military as paid professionals for a limited period of time, often 1-2 years, but sometimes more (or less even). Conscripts have always been known to be less motivated and generally less well-trained that paid volunteer professional soldiers. But at the very least, all of them receive some formal training.

C. Part-time Soldiers: Generally only enter active service during a war or national crisis. May or may not be paid.

US Colonial Militia Reenactors. Credit: US National Parks Service

  1. Militias/Reserves: Militias at times have usually consisted of volunteers, but at times have consisted of every able-bodied person who can fight (usually men). Militias/Reserves may not receive any formal military training, though usually they do receive some, but their training is generally less thorough than full-time professionals, who essentially are paid to prepare themselves for war. Militia units at times have consisted of aged veterans or other persons disqualified from service in a professional military due to age or disability. Called up during emergencies or war, militia or reserve members usually are paid while they are serving.
  2. Medieval (and other) Levies: Levies were required to fight by obligation, such as duties to a medieval lord, and usually fought only for the duration of a war or for a fixed period each year, and generally served without pay (though their food and other sustenance might be supplied during wartime). They usually received informal military training that was usually not very good or no training at all. (But on occasion levies were quite well-trained.) Often were responsible for supplying their own weapons.

    Medieval warriors at the Battle of Crecy, including hereditary knights, levies of bowmen, and mercenary crossbowmen. Public domain image by Jean Froissart.

Note some of the differences in the types of training these soldiers undergo relate to issues that themselves don’t directly relate to training. It’s tough to have a paid professional force in a society in which wealth is tied to land ownership or ownership of other property and taxes over goods and services are not the primary source of government funding. While medieval societies at times were able to hire professional warriors (usually mercenaries hired for short-term needs), the organization of the society made it easier to have the warriors occupy a permanent class, where participation in warfare was expected of them from childhood to death. And of course, barbarians, like the Mongolians Genghis Khan united under his command, did not have a wide base of social classes to support warriors–instead, every Mongolian knew at least a little about war.

If we ask where the Klingons of Star Trek fall in this set of warriors, they share the most traits in common with A2. For them, war is part of their culture, something they celebrate full-time, and is not reserved only for one social class. However, from time to time Star Trek introduces a Klingon who is not a full-time warrior, such as ones who are scientists or lawyers (yet these Klingons still have a warlike mentality). So in some ways, their warriors do form a caste. So Klingons falls somewhere between A1 and A2.

In contrast, the values of individual determination that the Federation cherishes causes it to be a B1 society. But note that the Cardassians of Star Trek have a very pro-military society, yet those who serve are still volunteers who become paid professionals–so their training is type B1, just like the Federation, even though their society is much more militaristic.

Note that ancient Israel mostly fought with levies, especially at first (C2). But the kings of Israel (and Judah) eventually became a permanent warrior caste (A1)–though at times, these kings hired mercenaries from outside Israel (B1). Many other societies have also had complex mixes of warriors the way ancient Israel did.

Societies have layers of ways they drill warriors that relate not just to training philosophies, but stem from their economics and their cultural attitudes about warfare.

Travis C here with some considerations for authors as you map out your story world as well as some illustrations for this topic. Westerners in the 20th and 21st century are familiar with the concept of paid professional soldiers as our modern militaries have evolved into stable organizations. Many of us come from nations where service is a respected profession, with sufficient tax structures and national desire to have standing military forces, and the cultural expectations of how our armies are organized, trained, and utilized have become stable. Soldiering is both art and science, with significant effort spent to ensure a robust, capable, versatile force exists to defend national interests and respond in times of crisis (through use of force and other non-combative means too).

The ingredients to get here were not always present and authors need to evaluate the credibility of their worldbuilding in that light. It’s not that well-trained forces can’t exist in levied/conscript environments, but it would be an exceptional case and in need of justification to make such a story plausible. Let’s look at two examples from the current media, in two very different genres, that highlight some of these challenges.

The Last Kingdom portraying battle. Photo credit: www.gq.com

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited for season 3 of The Last Kingdom as it gets ready to launch. The series follows a Saxon-turned-Dane-turned-back-to-Saxon man, Uhtred, as England comes into being as a unified nation in the late 800’s. King Alfred the Great sits on the throne, not without controversy and with plenty of enemies. We witness the friction between Uhtred trying to reclaim his Saxon birthright while honoring his Danish upbringing and King Alfred trying to unite a fractured people whilst dealing with an invading force of Danes.

Season 1 shows us the complex arrangement of nobles, King, and arrayed foes. Alfred desires to unite the kingdoms of England through his own kingship in Wessex. A man who studies history and thinks logically, he organizes Wessex into individual burhs under the leadership of an ealdorman (earl) who is charged with martial obligations to Alfred. On command, each earlman is required to produce a fyrd, or levy, of soldiers to defend against invading forces. The ealdormen are also responsible for the repair of fortresses, bridges, and other military service. If any refuse, they must pay the king a tax and, for landowners, forfeiture of their lands.

King Alfred must contend with the men like Odda the Elder (a real-life person) who controls the largest fyrd in Wessex and must be convinced to assemble his men against the Danish foe while his younger son desires to reach a peace with the same Danes. In order for the fyrd to assemble, political maneuvering and mutual alignment of interests are needed.

The fyrd itself has limited training and is clearly not ready to engage in combat with the barbarian culture of the sea-going Danes (something like the A1/A2 culture Travis P described earlier). Uhtred’s unique knowledge of Danish tactics and strategy come into the story as he trains the Wessex soldiers to use similar practices against their foes. We see the ealdormen resist him, but ultimately the value of this dedicated training is seen in future Wessex victories on the battlefield.

Author Bernard Cornwell and the television producers do an excellent job of mixing fact and fiction to show us the consequences of a fledgling nation trying to organize military forces against a compelling foe and dealing with limited resources. The distinction between Danish culture, warrior traditions and preparedness, is in stark contrast to the Anglo-Saxon people and the beginnings of feudal society.

Fast forward to the future and interstellar travel via the Skip Drive and we have the setting for John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War. I picked this example because of the unique take on how an army is formed and trained. Instead of the typical young recruit getting drawn into the military and trained from an early age, the Colonial Defense Forces (CDF) are drawn only from the elderly. Those age 65 have DNA samples drawn and sign away two years of their lives to serve in the CDF in exchange for the opportunity to enjoy a life homesteading on one of our colonized planets. Why? Because the CDF needs people who have gained decades of experience to transfer into genetically-engineered, combat-enhanced bodies to fight against the aliens who also desire the same resources we are seeking on those colonized planets.

Image credit: Amazon.com

Scalzi was nominated for a Hugo Award for Old Man’s War and received praise for upending some of the genre’s tropes when it comes to military fiction in a sci-fi setting. In speculative fiction we have the ability to create environments that take what we know, like our historical understanding of how armies are formed and trained, and potentially rearrange the pieces to logically fit into our stories with reasonable justification. In fantasy settings, it may be common for only the youngest magic-users to enter military service due to their strength, stamina, and freshness. Maybe it’s the opposite, where only the seasoned thaumaturge is valued since they have a long list of experiences. In a futuristic setting with different resources and societal demands, maybe patriotism and good pay aren’t enough to ensure a steady supply of soldiers and other motivations need to be considered.

The range of possibilities is endless. Military functions will always exist when things are not right and something needs to be done about it, regardless of the cause of that set of circumstances. Characters may be motivated by self-determination, national conscious, a hive mind, a bag of silver, or a desire for the adventure just outside the door. In any case, the author needs to evaluate how to best align their entry into service with the degree and types of training they receive.

The Lesser of Two Evils?

Evil cannot defeat evil; it can only replace it.
| Nov 28, 2018 | 8 comments |

I’ve pretty much sworn off seeing comic book movies in theaters anymore (though I will rent them on DVD). However, my wife uncharacteristically insisted that we go see the new Venom movie, her sole reason being that it was a box office hit in her home country of China and she was curious to see what all the hubbub was about. I was hesitant at first because the reviews were hardly stellar, but I’m a big Tom Hardy fan so I decided to give it a shot.

Image copyright Sony Pictures

Overall, I’m glad I did. Tom Hardy’s performance was very entertaining, and I found it refreshing that his character wasn’t the typical bullied-in-school-and-then-gets-a-superpower-and-becomes-awesome trope. The movie isn’t anything spectacular but it made for a fun afternoon. Below are some minor spoilers so if you haven’t yet seen Venom and plan to soon, please read no further.

Venom did a great job of making a villainous character as sympathetic as possible while making it crystal clear that it is still a villain. In most superhero films, the central character has a mission – a disaster to avert or a bad guy to defeat. In Venom, Tom Hardy spends most of his time trying to work out an equilibrium with the monstrous entity that has taken over his body. Destruction ensues, good guys get killed, heads get bitten off, and Tom Hardy wants nothing more than to be rid of this “parasite” as he calls it. He doesn’t go crazy or become drunk with power and “cross over to the Dark Side.” He tries to convince Venom to tread as lightly as possible, with mixed results. Only in the last half hour does another adversary show up, a stronger alien called Riot (these creatures must get their names from punk rock bands). Riot wants to bring back a horde of hungry critters and consume the Earth, while Venom, who is admittedly a “loser” on its home planet, realizes that it can be a big shot on our planet, but that means that the human race must survive in order for it to be at the top of food chain. Thus, Venom’s and Riot’s interests clash and the battle for the human race ensues, though the motives for each side are dubious.

I’m reminded of a quote from The Chronicles of Riddick, spoken by Dame Judy Dench’s character: In normal times, evil would be fought with good. But in times like these, well, it should be fought by another kind of evil.” Hollywood likes pitting two evils against each other, and the “good guy” is the one with the quantifiably less evil motives. In the case of Venom and Riot, Venom just wants to eat people here and there (and only “bad guys” as Tom Hardy insists at the end of the film) while Riot wants to eat everyone. Thus, we are supposed to cheer for Venom. The lesser of two evils is the hero and the greater is the villain, because every conflict has to have a hero and a villain.

Does this notion translate into real life? Occasionally, though with hardly the same dramatic flair. During World War II, the New York Mafia took control of the ports in the interest of “national security,” though this arrangement greatly increased their illicit profits. Was national security protected? Perhaps, though it would hard to argue that the Mafia’s involvement was a good thing. There are numerous examples in history when an oppressed people or country turned to an outlaw tyrant to save them from their current tyrant, and things just go from bad to worse.

That’s the thing about evil: it’s always evil. And evil is ultimately selfish, hateful, and cruel. Evil cannot defeat evil; it can only replace it. Rom. 12:21 tells us to overcome evil with good. Nowhere in Scripture does evil supplant evil with good results. When confronted with a great evil, we should not cheer for another opposing yet still evil force, even if the promised results sound appealing. We should know that in the end, Venom is still the villain.

Disability, Superpower, or Just Life?

Novelist Bridgett Powers: Fantastical stories featuring realistic heroes with disabilities can empower us to conquer our own limitations.
| Nov 27, 2018 | 14 comments |

What makes a science fiction character stand out among the other aliens, starship captains, or brash pilots cluttering the universe? Which quality in a fantasy hero moves you to thrust a fist into the air and yell, “Yeah!” at her smallest victory? The most memorable characters in books and movies are often those who are quirky, funny, or battling the same issues we face. To grab our interest at all, a character must be flawed.

This week we feature Bridgett Powers and her novel Keeper of Shadows. Stop by the flagship book club on Facebook to learn more about this story.

Subscribe to Lorehaven Magazine for free! You can read the fall 2018 issue online, or download the free PDF copy. Our winter 2018 issue arrives next month!

Whether I’m enjoying epic fantasy, science fiction, or even children’s books, a common theme always emerges:

Light shines brightest through cracked lanterns.

While this statement applies to many areas of human brokenness, physical disability and society’s perceptions about it are subjects close to my heart. I’m overjoyed when books and movies in my favorite genres address these topics, especially if they do so in an authentic way.

How are characters with disabilities portrayed in speculative fiction? What can their stories teach us about overcoming our own limitations?

The superhero and comics genres feature many characters with disabilities (Daredevil, Professor X, and even Iron Man), while such heroes are much harder to find in science fiction and fantasy. (See the end of this article for a brief list of characters with disabilities from movies and books.)

Keeper of Shadows, Bridgett Powers

Explore Keeper of Shadows in the Lorehaven library.

Disability can be a symptom of societal perception, rather than an actual impairment. A character might be considered disabled if he lacks a talent, gift, power, or interest that all others in his world possess. We find this in stories of fairies or angels who can’t fly. It is also portrayed in the animated film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, whose main character Flint Lockwood, whose intelligence, odd inventions, and complete lack of interest in the sardine canning business make him seem useless in the eyes of his father and community. Finally, this is a central theme of a novel I’m co-authoring, in which one of the main characters grows up on a planet where everyone has psionic powers—telepathy, telekinesis, etc.—while she has none.

For many of the characters I’ve researched, disability is portrayed as either the source of a superpower/heroic gift or the motivation for developing that power.

When good intentions go awry

We need to see people as more than their issues […] Fiction can foster empathy, and empathy can change the world.

—Ardi Alspach: 2017 blog interview with Borderline author Mishell Baker.

Speculative fiction characters with disabilities

This is just a taste of what’s available. Please note: I haven’t read/watched them all.

In superhero and comics

  • Daredevil (blind)
  • Professor X, a.k.a Charles Xavier, from X-Men (paralyzed)
  • Iron Man (I’d consider his shrapnel issue a disabling heart condition.)
  • Hawkeye (deaf, in some versions)
  • Oracle/Batgirl (paralyzed)
  • Strange (nerve damage in the hands)

In fantasy

  • Toothless (broken tail) and, eventually, Hiccup (amputated leg) from How to Train Your Dragon (books by Cressida Cowell, movies by DreamWorks Animation)
  • Merlin (portrayed as blind in some versions of Arthurian legends, including Robert Treskillard’s Merlin Spiral series).
  • MadEye Moody from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (only has one eye).
  • Millie from the urban fantasy Borderline by Mishell Baker (multiple disabilities, including mental illness)

In science fiction

  • Geordi La Forge from Star Trek: The Next Generation (blind)
  • Miles Vorkosigan from the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold (dwarfism / fragile and prone to injury)

The problem is, of the few fantastical stories that contain—and even fewer that center around—characters with disabilities, many dilute their potential impact by using magic, technology, or superpowers to negate the difficult effects of the disability. To the other extreme, some make the disability the character’s main or sole trait. Still more fail to show the character realistically dealing with a disability’s effects on daily activities.

These discrepancies were part of the inspiration for the title character in my Light-Wielder Chronicles fantasy series. Like me, Lyssanne was born with limited vision. In creating her, I sought to dispel several tropes that not only create unrealistic perceptions, but also sabotage the impact heroic characters with disabilities could have on readers.

  • Characters with limited vision are usually portrayed as totally blind—which is not, in fact, the most common degree of visual impairment. The majority of us have at least some usable vision.
  • Blindness creates superhuman enhancement of the nonvisual senses. I wish! Other senses are heightened through consistent use of and reliance on them.
  • A spinoff of this is the “blind seer” character, who can predict the future, perceive present events taking place elsewhere, or use other forms of perception beyond normal sight.
  • By the end of the book or series, the character’s sight is restored. Heroic impact negated.

Disability is merely one aspect of a person’s life—not a superpower, an insurmountable barrier to her call, nor a problem that must be fixed if she is to achieve her happy ending.

Finding our superpowers

Stories that show characters coping with disability in a realistic way can empower us to do the same. Like the heroes of page and screen, we—their fans—have a choice: To accept a physical or perceived limitation as a disabling factor in our lives, or to use it as the catalyst for developing our own superpowers.

The secret ingredient for transforming disability into power is not green goo from outer space, radioactive particles, or a pile of inherited wealth that pays for a crack R&D team. It’s found in Philippians 4:13 & Romans 8:28. With Jesus, we can become the heroes of our own stories.

While authors and movie creators have a phenomenal opportunity to influence society’s perception of people with disabilities, it is the fans who make real change happen. How? We can support books and movies that portray such characters in a positive but realistic light, share our favorites with friends, and start meaningful conversations (on- and offline) about these stories. When we do so, we help the characters we love, the very real people who inspire them, and ourselves shine a bit brighter—despite our cracks.

“. . . This gentle, imaginative fantasy has magic of its own.”
— Lorehaven Magazine

Explore more about Bridgett Powers’s novel:

Don’t Forget Books!

Through flash reviews, the development of book clubs, and author interviews or discussion or profiles, Lorehaven shines the light on speculative books in ways that allow readers to decide for themselves.
| Nov 26, 2018 | 3 comments |

Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror, and Christmas is a month away. We are officially in the buying season. Or maybe the spending season, since non-profits have claimed “Giving Tuesday” for themselves, and some are making the big push for end-of-the-year donations. In all the flurry, don’t forget books.

We here at Spec Faith discuss, explore, analyze, talk about fiction, in all its iterations. Movies and DVDs and graphic novels and video games have nudged their way into the attention of our culture, certainly. But don’t forget about books. You know, novels. The source from which many of the movies derive.

Of course, I especially think those who visit Spec Faith and understand that we discuss speculative fiction from a Christian worldview, will be interested in the books that don’t get on the NY Times bestseller lists (often) or have commercials on network TV (here’s looking at you James Patterson).

Just last week I had a Facebook friend request reading recommendations for her seven children! I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. Readers who want their kids to be readers give books so that those young ones have something good to read.

But I realized something disappointing: I don’t know the field of speculative fiction as I once did. When I managed the CSSF Blog Tour and the Clive Staples Award, and before self-publishing took off, I knew the speculative novels that were coming out or ones that had most recently come out. I’ve stayed in touch with the ever growing number of books as best I can, but largely I’m limited to ones that make finalist lists in contests or ones that friends put out. And because the number of published novels is greater and greater, I can’t read all of them. Consequently, I don’t know which of those books need to be brought up to the public for recommendation.

Thankfully we have a resource: Lorehaven, the publication under the direction of Spec Faith’s E. Stephen Burnett, exists for such a time as this. Through flash reviews, the development of book clubs, and author interviews or discussion or profiles, Lorehaven shines the light on speculative books in ways that allow readers to decide for themselves.

We are, after all, in the era of review-promotion. The books at Amazon with the most reviews go to the front of the line when it comes to Amazon promotion. And the reviews that are more than cheerleading, that have some substance, that let me know what the books are about, are the ones that will likely influence my buying power.

My original intention was to start a list of books that I’d recommend. It’s pretty short since I haven’t done as much reading this year. My hope is that visitors will add their own recommendations in the comments. Above all, I want to remind us all to include books for Christmas.

So my short list:
The Button Girl by Sally Apokedak (YA)
Escape to Vindor by Emily Golus (YA)
Growing up Neighborlee by Michelle L. Levigne
The Mapmaker’s Daughter by Joanna Emerson (YA)

Authors I recommend (I’ve read past books, may even have a book of theirs in my TBR pile, may already be part way through one of theirs, and have confidence in their storytelling):

  • Patrick Carr
  • Jill Williamson
  • K. M. Weiland
  • Matt Mikalatos
  • Nadine Brandes

And of course, don’t forget the classic speculative fiction novels such as Narnia and The Lord Of The Rings. Don’t forget books that have been out for a few years like Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga or Jonathan Rogers’s Wilderking Trilogy, Karen Handcock’s Arena or her Legends Of The Guardian-King trilogy.

You may have noticed that my list doesn’t include any science fiction. Sorry. My preference is showing, though I know some good sci-fi writers and want to see their books picked up, too. But because I’m not a sci fi reader, I hesitate to recommend to true sci fi readers these books simply because I’m pretty naive about the genre. For example, is the premise fresh? It might be fresh to me, but what if 25 other writers have already put out stories with the same premise? I wouldn’t know. So I’d rather leave this category and supernatural horror and the like open for you to give your recommendations.

Please add to my list of fantasies, too. I mean, the more we know about the good books, the more we have to choose from, because this year, for Christmas, we don’t want to forget about books!

In Memoriam — Brandon Barr

“So here I am, doing what I love now, writing the kind of stories I love, Science fiction and fantasy with soul.”
| Nov 23, 2018 | 1 comment |

I first met speculative fiction writer Brandon Barr years ago. As I recall, he joined the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour. We exchanged many emails as a result and somewhere in mix I learned that Brandon lived in Southern California as I do. In short order I invited him to join the small group of speculative fiction writers that met approximately once a month, and he eagerly accepted.

We hit it off at once, shared common goals, felt our group could help us develop our writing. But Brandon was unable to join us at the next meeting or the next. After a short time he was diagnosed with leukemia. He went through a battle with the disease, including two bone marrow transplants. When the cancer came back this year, the doctors were not hopeful. They projected that he’d live one to two months. Brandon himself said he thought it felt like it would be one month.

Of course his family, friends, and fans continued to pray. But on Wednesday afternoon, Brandon passed away. Here’s the announcement on Facebook:

Our dear friend, Brandon, is now is the arms of Jesus. He peacefully entered into heaven this afternoon. As he took his final breaths, he was surrounded by friends and family worshiping God. He’d sing “Bless the Lord, Oh my Soul” to his boys every night before bed and we were singing that as he drifted off. He passed at 1:30pm on Wednesday, November 21. Please pray for Amanda and the boys during this time. Please pray for the family and those effected by this loss. Thank you for your love and support. Thank you for your prayers.

Brandon’s author bio from his website reveals a bit more about him:

I began to write stories when I was twelve, the same year I read my first thrilling Crichton book, Jurassic Park. Fast forward ten years–it was my senior year of college, and I was given a creative writing assignment. That project utterly rekindled my love for writing.

At first, I never imagined writing novels. Short stories were my thing, a la one of my biggest inspirations, Ray Bradbury, who was a prolific short story writer. I was also reading a lot of old Hugo and Nebula award-winning short story anthologies. Those served to fuel my love for the speculative genres of science fiction and fantasy.

With more than a dozen short stories under my belt, I ventured into novel writing with a co-author named Mike Lynch. Mike and I spent about a decade honing our craft and wrote some decent boks, and some pretty darn good books, and we were able to publish them traditionally. I also published several short stories in magazines and Ezines that have mostly disappeared out of print.

After a lot of growth as a writer, I finally felt like I’d found my voice. And I discovered that I wanted to write fiction that was both intense and action-packed, but fiction that also could transcend boundaries and reach to the core of our common humanness. Our questions, our pains, and our hungers.

I am thrilled to focus my attention on writing exciting science fiction and fantasy, as well as interacting with readers (I love it!). I respond to every email I receive and am humbled to be where I am at in life, having battled (AML) Leukemia in 2015 to 2016.

When not writing, I love to garden, hike, fish, play softball and baseball, backpack the Sierra Mountains and play board games. I do most of these activities with my wife and three boys. My family and I attend a small church in Southern California which just so happens to be absolutely infested with wonderfully artistic members who cheer each other on.

So here I am, doing what I love now, writing the kind of stories I love, Science fiction and fantasy with soul.
Email Me!

I love to hear from readers. Drop me a line and I’ll email you back 🙂

Interestingly in this bio he doesn’t say much about the specific books he wrote. His Amazon page gives much more information about his writing:

Brandon Barr is a USA Today Bestselling Author who hails from Southern California. He writes in the genres of science fiction and fantasy and often combines the two, preferring stories where the science is soft, the fantastic is vivid, and the flesh and soul characters are front and center.

The Song of the Worlds saga is his breakout, genre-blending science-fantasy drama set in a vast fantasy universe where elements of science fiction are dominated by gods and monsters, visions and gifts.

His pulp fantasy series, Path of Heroes, co-written with Michael Anderle, is a sword and sorcery blend with a post-apocalyptic vibe (and a good dose of bawdy humor). Rogue Mage, book one in the Path of Heroes series was an Amazon #1 bestseller in three categories.

Brandon leaves behind his wife Amanda and three young sons. If you’d like to help the Barr family there’s a GoFundMe account set up for them.

Thankful for the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special?

The 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special is widely considered one of the worst pieces of entertainment of all time. Yet even it leaves me reasons to be thankful.
| Nov 22, 2018 | 4 comments |

In November of 1978, when the now rather infamous Star Wars Holiday Special aired, I was ten years old. I watched the special myself, on CBS. I’d seen Star Wars three times in the theater, in an era in which most people only watched any movie only once (unless a movie was re-released, as the Walt Disney fairy tale stories often were). I was as much a target audience for the TV show as there ever could be, yet at the time I was mostly unimpressed. But I’m thankful to have witnessed it, and think there’s some lessons to draw from the show worth applying this US holiday of Thanksgiving.

Note that at the time, seeing Star Wars (which hit theaters in 1977) only three times as a kid was a bit like Charlie in the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory only buying two Wonka bars–he obviously would have bought more, but couldn’t afford it. I overheard other kids at the time saying they saw Star Wars as many as a dozen times or more. Clearly not everyone was that much of a fanatic, but for those who were not alive then it’s hard to explain how much of a phenomenon A New Hope was (note that nobody back then called it A New Hope–everyone said “Star Wars“). Lots of people saw it far more times than anybody thought was normal at that time.

Furthermore, back in 1978, I lived well outside of the small town of Whitefish, Montana. Cable TV existed back then, but we didn’t have it (we were outside the service zone). Our TV antenna picked up one and only one channel–which was an NBC outlet (on which I’d watched the original Star Trek cartoon as it aired earlier in the 70’s). So in order to watch the Star Wars Holiday Special, I had to spend the night at a friend’s house. It’s sad perhaps, but I don’t even remember which friend I stayed with–but I do remember the Holiday Special, though not in comprehensive detail.

I remember it as a show which focused on Chewbacca’s family, his wife and son and father, as they prepared to celebrate a so-called Life festival that obviously was meant to parallel the US holiday of Thanksgiving. (The parallels with our own place and time struck me as too much to really make sense in context of the Star Wars universe, even when I was ten–but I didn’t hate it for that.) Han and Chewie were eager to come to this celebration, but were blocked for some reason. They eventually arrived, and the various bits of strange Star Wars-themed entertainment that were tucked into the special ended and the viewing audience got the chance to see the main Star Wars actors together. I found that moment to be the highlight of the show and that it more or less justified the rest, which mostly was not very interesting to me.

The main characters assemble in the Holiday Special. Credit: Nerdlist.com

I had no idea then that the special would eventually be considered one of the worst pieces of television of all time. Not so bad it’s good–it’s widely considered to manage to be full-time cringe-worthy, painful to watch, without the enjoyment that comes from laughing at genuinely campy entertainment. (If you are curious as to why the holiday special is seen as so terrible, follow this link to a recent USA Today article about it.)

I vaguely remember an original cartoon that was aired with the special. It made no real impression on me at the time, but it introduced Boba Fett as a character and today, post facto, is considered the best part of the Holiday Special. I just watched this cartoon on YouTube (you can too if you follow this link–it’s a bit over 9 minutes long) and would say it’s only so-so at best. But it isn’t absolutely horrible and it did introduce a character who would prove to be iconic. So even what is widely seen as total garbage as a piece of entertainment had at least one success story.

Boba Fett makes his exit in the 1978 cartoon. Credit: YouTube.com

And that’s what makes me feel thankful about the Star Wars Holiday Special. I haven’t seen it again since 1978, but it must have been pretty terrible to fail to impress me at the time–yet still, it contained one good thing, one positive aspect worth remembering.

It’s just so easy to be critical of entertainment that isn’t our cup of tea, an attitude I’m guilty of plenty of times myself. Unless all is perfectly to our standard, we don’t like it. In a way, that make sense–only one cockroach at a restaurant table normally causes people to call everything they’ve been served in that place into question.

Yet isn’t part of the spirit of Thanksgiving to find the good, even if it’s surrounded by bad? To be grateful for what we have received, instead of griping about what we haven’t?

I didn’t even like the Star Wars Holiday Special at the time all that much, but I’m thankful to have witnessed it in its original context. As a piece of my personal history, I’m thankful for it.

And isn’t it encouraging, for those of us who create stories, to think that even a real stinker of a piece of entertainment can have at least one good aspect? I mean, even if we authors fail to obtain our lofty goals for a story, that doesn’t necessarily mean all is lost. One small thing can make a positive impression on others, even if our critical selves see nothing but our own shortcomings.

So let me end this by calling on those who create stories to give themselves a break from self-criticism. Be thankful you can create at all–to be able to do so is a genuine gift. 🙂

A Day Of Thanksgiving

We wish you all a joyous day of rejoicing and giving thanks to God our Savior.
| Nov 21, 2018 | No comments |


In light of tomorrow’s celebration in the US of Thanksgiving Day, we wish you all a joyous day of rejoicing and giving thanks to God our Savior.