Related to: 'Eternity is Now in Session'

Julie Sarkissian blogs about the problems facing the protagnist of her debut novel, DEAR LUCY

Something's Wrong With Lucy - But What?

Lucy is different – that much is clear. She speaks like a child, doesn’t recognize social boundaries, flies into rages, and treasures rotten food. Her cognition is impaired, her vocabulary is very limited and she cannot read or write. But what – precisely – is wrong with her is left up to the reader. Lucy is the protagonist of my novel, DEAR LUCY, and from the first sentence of the book I ever wrote it was obvious that Lucy was cognitively different. The way Lucy describes herself is as “missing too many words.” Her mother calls her “difficult.” Readers of early drafts of the book had a few theories as to Lucy’s condition; autism, Williams Syndrome, Down Syndrome. But Lucy’s mother has kept her from going to school and Lucy has never seen a doctor. So in the fictional reality of the book there is no official diagnosis. But as the novel progressed I wondered – should I have one? I was torn. If Lucy was presenting enough symptoms to point to a real condition, was I ignoring the obvious not to fold that condition into my development of her character? Was it insensitive of me to allude to aspects of certain real, life-altering conditions but not assign a specific condition to Lucy? I worried about appropriating aspects of serious conditions without treating those conditions with proper respect and acknowledgement. And though any clinical diagnosis would probably not be explicit in the novel, I wondered if I would be ignoring an opportunity to bring attention to a real disorder when people asked me about Lucy’s condition, the way The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time did for autism. On the other hand, I had concerns that if I chose a diagnosis for Lucy, I would be ascribing to her qualities that she wouldn’t have otherwise presented. Lucy had her own will over my writing and over the novel. I didn’t want to yoke Lucy’s expression by keeping her behavior and abilities consistent with a clinical condition. Accuracy would also become a critical issue if Lucy’s condition was named. Ultimately I chose not to diagnose Lucy, though I worry the artistic freedom provided by that decision comes at the price of being judged for being too liberal with my treatment of cognitive disorders. Now that publication is a few months away, I am apprehensive of how my treatment of Lucy’s cognitive limitations will be judged. I have yet to talk to a reader who has a learning different child, or works with learning different people, and that conversation is one I will be honored, and not a bit anxious, to have.

FaithWords

Jesus Is Better Than You Imagined

Jonathan Merritt, John Ortberg
Authors:
Jonathan Merritt, John Ortberg

Is the God who created us better than the God we've created?After following Jesus for nearly two decades, Jonathan Merritt decides to confront the emptiness of a faith that has become dry, predictable, and rote. In a moment of desperation, he cries out for God to show up and surprise him, and over the next year, God doesn't disappoint.

Alister McGrath

Alister McGrath is the Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford University, and Fellow of Harris Manchester College, Oxford. After initial academic work in the natural sciences, Alister turned to the study of theology and intellectual history, while occasionally becoming engaged in broader cultural debates about the rationality and relevance of the Christian faith. He is the author of many academic and theological works, as well as the bestselling The Dawkins Delusion and, most recently, his acclaimed C. S. Lewis - A Life.

Annie Kagan

Annie Kagan began writing songs at the age of fourteen. At fifteen she was signed by a producer from Columbia Records. At sixteen she was performing in New York City cafes and clubs. After ten years as a songwriter and performer Annie returned to college, graduating with honours and became a Doctor of Chiropractic with a successful private practice on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Attracted to Eastern spiritual traditions, Annie studied yoga and pursued an intense meditation practice. Following her inner voice, she left her career as a doctor and abandoned her hectic city life in search of serenity in a small house by the bay on the tip of Long Island.Annie returned to songwriting, collaborating with Grammy and Emmy award-winning producer Brian Keane. Brian's high regard for her lyrcis inspired Annie to join a writers' workshop. While Annie was writing her first novel, her brother Billy died unexpectedly and began speaking to her from the afterlife.She is excited to bring together her talents as a lyricist, performer and healer in order to touch the lives of others with Billy's communications from the other side.

Brother Andrew

Brother Andrew was born in Holland and became a Christian while serving in the Dutch army. After leaving the army he applied for Bible school in the UK and studied at the Bible Training Institute (now the International Christian College) in Glasgow, Scotland. He has worked tirelessly to strengthen the persecuted church all over the world, encouraging believers in their faith and sharing the gospel with some of the most unlikely people.His book GOD'S SMUGGLER tells the story of the start of his work, smuggling Bibles into communist countries illegally during the Cold War, which developed into the worldwide ministry now called Open Doors International. GOD'S SMUGGLER became an international best-seller with over ten million copies sold in English.After the fall of communism in Europe, Brother Andrew shifted his focus to China and the Middle East, and the incredible story of his ongoing ministry can be read in his next book LIGHT FORCE.His most recent book is SECRET BELIEVERS: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MUSLIMS TURN TO CHRIST?.

Charlie Cleverly

Charlie Cleverly is Rector of St Aldates, Oxford, one of the UK's leading Anglican churches and part of the New Wine network, with a strong student contingent. He is the author of several books, most recently A Passion That Shapes Nations.

Corrie Ten Boom

Corrie ten Boom is known and loved by millions for her book, THE HIDING PLACE, which tells how her family protected Jews during the Nazi occupation of Holland. The book launched her into a worldwide ministry of speaking, teaching and writing, which lasted until her death in 1983.

David Suchet

David Suchet CBE is an acclaimed British actor. He has enjoyed great success with the RSC and in London's West End. He is best known in television for his portrayal of Agatha Christie's detective Hercule Poirot. He is also a practising Anglican. In 2012 he made a series for the BBC called 'In the Footsteps of St Paul'. Follow him on Twitter @David_Suchet

Elizabeth Sherill

Elizabeth Sherrill is a prolific Christian writer, based in the USA. She often collaborates on books with her husband John.

Eugene Peterson

Eugene Peterson is a pastor, author, scholar and poet. He grew up in Montana and earned his B.A. in philosophy from Seattle Pacific University, his S.T.B. from New York Theological Seminary, and his M.A. in Semitic languages from Johns Hopkins University. He served as a pastor for 29 years and then became Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, retiring in 2006.Eugene Peterson is perhaps best known for his book THE MESSAGE: THE BIBLE IN CONTEMPORARY LANGUAGE and is also known for his involvement in the Renovaré spiritual formation movement. The books in his spiritual theology series, including THE JESUS WAY and PRACTISE RESURRECTION, are widely acclaimed.Now retired from full-time teaching, Eugene and his wife Jan live in the Big Sky Country of rural Montana.

J.I. Packer

J. I. Packer is an eminent theologian. Professor Emeritus at Regent College, Vancouver, he is a bestselling author known the world over for such classics as Knowing God. He is considered to be one of the most important evangelical theologians of the late 20th century.

John Sherrill

John Sherrill is a prolific Christian writer, based in the USA. He often collaborates on books with his wife Elizabeth.

Joyce Meyer

Joyce Meyer is the bestselling author of more than 100 inspirational books, including The Power of Simple Prayer, Approval Addiction, Power Thoughts and Battlefield of the Mind. Joyce's 'Enjoying Everyday Life' radio and television programmes are broadcast around the world, and she travels extensively conducting conferences.

Krish Kandiah

Krish Kandiah is Founder and Director of the adoption and fostering charity Home for Good and an Ambassador for the relief charity Tearfund. He is in demand as a speaker, consultant and social entrepreneur. He lives with his wife and seven children, including fostered and adopted children, in Oxfordshire, UK.

Melvyn Bragg

Melvyn Bragg is a writer and broadcaster. His novels include The Hired Man, for which he won the Time/Life Silver Pen Award, Without a City Wall, winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, The Soldier's Return, winner of the WHSmith Literary Award, A Son of War and Crossing the Lines, both of which were longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, A Place in England, which was longlisted for the Lost Man Booker Prize, and most recently Grace and Mary. He has also written several works of non-fiction, the most recent being The Book of Books about the King James Bible. He lives in London and Cumbria.

Michele Guinness

Michele Guinness is a well-known speaker and the bestselling author of The Guinness Spirit, Is God Good for Women?, Autumn Leave and, most recently, Archbishop. She worked for many years as a broadcast journalist, then in PR for the NHS, eventually heading up NHS communications for Cumbria and Lancashire. She is now retired with two children and three grandchildren, and divides her time between Kent and France with her husband, Canon Peter Guinness.

Nadim Nassar

Father Nadim Nassar is the Church of England's only Syrian priest. He was born and raised in Lattakia, Syria, to a Christian family, and studied in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war before moving to the UK, where he was ordained and became senior chaplain to the universities and colleges in London. He is director of the Awareness Foundation; its mission is to empower people of faith to embrace diversity and build peaceful and harmonious communities. The Culture of God is his first book.

New International Version

The New International Version is the world's most popular modern English Bible translation. Developed by Biblica, formerly the International Bible Society, the New International Version is the result of years of work by the Committee on Bible Translation, overseeing the efforts of many contributing scholars. The translators are drawn from a wide range of denominations and from various countries and they continually review new research in order to ensure the NIV remains at the forefront of accessibility, relevance and authority.www.hodderbibles.co.uk www.facebook.com/NIVBibles

Nick Page

Nick Page is the author of over sixty books, including The Bible Book, What Happened to the Ark of the Covenant and Other Bible Mysteries, The HarperCollins Atlas of Bible History (editor) and most recently, THE WRONG MESSIAH. Follow Nick Page on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/NickofEynsham and visit his website at: http://nickpage.co.uk

Norman Drummond

Norman Drummond is founder of Columba 1400, a charity specialising in helping young people from underprivileged backgrounds to become leaders. He is also chairman of Drummond International, a life coaching, personal and presentation skills and media management company. Formerly a headteacher and BBC governor, Norman Drummond's skills as a coach are in great demand with top politicians and business figures worldwide. He is currently a chaplain to the Queen. He is married with five children.

Rachel Gardner

Rachel Gardner is the Relationship Lead at Youthscape - a national youthwork organisation - responsible for pioneering new ways to engage young people in healthy relationships. A bestselling author of a number of books for young people, Rachel speaks widely on youth and faith-related topics. Outside of her role at Youthscape, Rachel is the President of the Girl's Brigade England and Wales.