I’ve decided to release (in full) my novelette Escape from Hell as a series of blog posts. I could have held it back and made it into a sellable item, but I’d rather it had wider exposure. This week, chapter 1, entitled Death is available.
If you enjoy it, please pass on a link to your friends. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments below the chapter.
I know it’s almost un-Australian of me but I don’t follow sport. Maybe if a grand final is occurring and my state happens to be involved I might watch it. Maybe during the Olympics I’ll watch an event or two. Don’t get me wrong, I want Australia to win… I just don’t care to watch it. So it’s fair to say I almost didn’t know who Israel Folau was a few months ago.
Israel, until recently, played for the the state team and was considered one of the best Australian players. And then, like certain bakers and florists around the world, the expression of his Christian faith got him into serious trouble with a vocal minority, and given a life-ban from his career; costing him a $4 million dollar contract.
On his personal instagram he posted this:
(Only partial text is displayed. He also quoted Acts 2:38 and Acts 17:30, both from the King James Version).
This was not an official site. It was his personal site where people had to opt-in (and could just as easily, if offended, opt-out). As you peruse the comments, it’s quite clear that there have been some individuals who have long hated everything Folau stands for.
After the post, the governing body, Rugby Australia decided that Folau was guilty of a “high-level” breach of contract relating to conduct. They stated that their values were to be “inclusive”, though clearly inclusivity only extends to everyone who agrees with them.
It seems that because he was a professional player, he lost his right to express himself. Troubling for Rugby Australia, they never bothered to codify exactly what he could and could not say; which I think ought to be the onus. If they want to ensure a human being only says what they approve, they ought to provide the means by which his expression is to be filtered.
Not to mention consistency of punishment seems to be entirely absent; with some players continuing in the game despite assaults, domestic violence, drugs and drink driving.
A related issue for Rugby Australia is the perception that it has somewhat elastic standards when it comes to upholding “Wallabies values”. In recent years, two Wallabies players have been fined and stood down for drug use and possession. One of them is a two-time offender. Neither was sacked. Apparently sniffing cocaine is not a high-level breach of contract. Israel Folau doesn’t drink, doesn’t take drugs and is a model player on and off the field.
Folau quoted the Bible. A religious text which hasn’t changed (for Protestants) since the Reformation in 1517, and was largely responsible for the creation of Western civilization. Christians believe the Bible is God’s Word and man does not have the authority to change it, even if it contradicts modern behaviour and norms.
Folau’s intention was not to condemn, but to warn. As his own writings at Player’s Voice suggest:
I believed he was looking for guidance and I answered him honestly and from the heart. I know a lot of people will find that difficult to understand, but I believe the Bible is the truth and sometimes the truth can be difficult to hear.
I think of it this way: you see someone who is about to walk into a hole and have the chance to save him. He might be determined to maintain his course and doesn’t want to hear what you have to say. But if you don’t tell him the truth, as unpopular as it might be, he is going to fall into that hole. What do you do?
I’d like to say that I live in a country with freedom of religion, free from persecution. Including persecution by an angry mob of keyboard warriors, an employer, the media, or the State.
I’d like to expect that everyone has freedom of speech, as long as you don’t threaten or incite violence.
I’d like to suggest that an employer’s rights over an employee have limits. When an employer tries to supersede someone’s individuality or religious freedoms, the contract should be unenforceable.
As Folau takes legal action, I guess we’ll see if I live in such a country.
In my view Folau did nothing wrong. He expressed his religious beliefs with integrity. Some people were offended by those views. And that’s exactly where it should have ended. In a sane world he should have lost a few Instagram followers, not his entire livelihood.
To end with Folau’s own words:
“I have love towards everyone that might be saying negative things … I choose to love them because God loves me.”
In the last week I’ve been doing some writing again (it’s been a while).
I’m revising my novelette, Escape from Hell. A novelette is longer than a short-story, but smaller than a novella (sitting in the 7,500 to 17,500 word count range). Escape from Hell is definitely a personal favourite. It’s a first-person faith-inspired trip into the afterlife. If I remember correctly I wrote it in a very short time frame, the whole story coming together in a few days. That is to say, I felt inspired to write it and the words flowed out of my brain and heart onto the page.
The only point were I slowed were the violent scenes, of which there are a few. It is literally Hell, so it’s not full of Sunday picnics with butterflies and rainbows. It’s a tricky balance to strike though. It’s hell: I want it to be horrific – and yet I don’t want it to be so overwhelming that the reader disengages.
Because of how excited I was by the story I didn’t revise it much… I just put it onto my website to share in a rush of endorphins. (I’ve removed it now, pending publication). So now, with a year or more writing experience behind me, I’m taking another look at it to see how I might revise it.
There is a part of me that wants to significantly expand it, though that will come after much careful deliberation. I’ve thought of a few different places where I could lengthen the story arc – and make it more gripping to read – but it’s balancing that disengage factor. Perhaps I will write the extra story arc and have a few alpha readers test it? (The words after all are not wasted, they count towards the ‘million practice words’ every author needs).
I’m going to be more structured in my revision process this time. I envision a three-pass process. The first revision (which I’m currently in) is looking at the broader story arcs. The second revision I’ll look at the detail, trying to tighten each sentence and the third pass I’ll be hunting for typos etc.
Plentiful gods. The Romans were a practical race … averse to mystical speculation. Profoundly convinced that the affairs of men were governed and guided by divine power. All levels of Roman society believed that the supernatural forces could be used to better their own worldly advantage. There was a god for everything. As Rome evolved into power, so did its gods in stature.
“Very interesting also are the forms of worship which illustrate the Roman character on its gentler and more human side. For under the iron surface of Roman manners there was a true vein of tenderness and sweetness and a passionate love of home … The eternal fire of Vesta, which no doubt had its origin in a simple and practical need, assumed a deep spiritual significance as the symbol of domestic purity, the source of national health and strength. The Lares and the Penates, the spirits of the home, stood still in a more intimate relation with the sanctities of family life, watching over the Roman mother as she went about her daily tasks, fostering the growth of the children, and taking their share in all the joys and sorrows…” (page 37)
Did you see the sign? Roman’s looked to signs from the gods. Priests and those who read the signs were rigidly excluded from politics, and though a Roman may consult for spiritual advice, none could tell him what to do. Every Roman was a priest as far as his personal matters were concerned.