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The Literary Corner: Renegade Writers Guild

Seeking Out the Good Things

By Kevin F. Wishon

Our brain’s bias towards negativity is well known. Anyone who has caught themselves over-perusing the latest news knows this fact all too well. I understand. I’ve found myself occasionally reading the latest news and violating my 30-minute limit of media intake rule. To balance the mental load, I focus on other activities. It can be reading, writing, budgeting, meditating, repairing, or even daydreaming. Of course, there is no guarantee that these activities will be negative free. Yet, I have found I have greater control over the bad in these situations. I can do something about it. Yet, with the latest news, I’m left feeling powerless. This is why I search for the good things.

I came across a good example of this in a magazine published four months ago. This environmental technique had been around since the 80s, but I had never heard of it. While the media dwelt on the news about environmental damage, a land rejuvenating technique slowly grew throughout Africa, Asia, and eventually Haiti. It is called farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR). For years, many people thought that dry tropical areas that lost the majority of its trees to farming would be lost to desertification. And for many decades, that was the case. However, in the 1980s, it was discovered that the tree stump sprouts and small bushes that remained alive were actually part of the former tree’s root system. If these young shoots were carefully cultivated and protected from wildlife, the plant would once again rise to grow a tree. For years, efforts had been made to plant new trees in these semi-arid areas, and almost all attempts had failed. Yet, the solution to the problem was under their feet the whole time. The flora in these areas had a natural built-in recovery system. Once the trees began to grow in size, smaller vegetation followed, and soon wildlife that had once fled the area returned. Curiously, rainfall increased in these areas too. I love surprise discoveries like this.

Another example is the controversial reintroduction of the grey wolves into Yellowstone National Park in 1995. There was a good deal of concern and uncertainty surrounding the matter. Later though, the reintroduction was determined to have corrected several imbalances within Yellowstone. A few of the benefits were stronger herds of elk, tree growth along the edges of streams, and a greater diversity of plant life since the elk were no longer over-grazing. Again, this is another built-in recovery system that hinged on simply restoring the balance.

Of course, nature or science may not be your idea of an interesting or good thing. Nevertheless, whatever your interest may be, I encourage you to find those good things and think about them. Our brains need some positivity to balance all that negativity we are absorbing. As a bonus, you’ll be a happier person.

My Hero in a Book

By Linda H. Barnette

If I could be any character in a novel, it would be Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus is an honorable man and perhaps the most admired character in modern American fiction.

He is an attorney who lives in a fictional town in Alabama in the pre-Civil Rights era. He is a widower who is the father of two exceptional children, Jem and Scout Finch. I like his parenting style because he treats his children, who are both in elementary school, almost as adults. When the curious and very intelligent Scout asks him a myriad of questions, he always responds to her calmly even though she can be a handful, as they say. He is in all of his interactions with his children both stern and fair.  He teaches by the example of his life that all people are to be treated equally and well, and he is not burdened by prejudice, especially by racial prejudice, which was rampant in the South of the 1960’s.  His children are, in fact, cared for by a black housekeeper, Calpurnia, who is fairly strict with them and makes them mind their manners.  She even takes them to church with her sometimes.

His neighbor, Miss Maudie, who is not exactly the soul of kindness, says of him that “Atticus Finch is the same in his house as he is in the public streets.” Not only does he treat all people well, but he also will not hunt animals, which Scout does not understand and thinks that is a weakness.

He is a fierce believer in justice. For that reason only, he takes the case of Tom Robinson, who is falsely accused of attacking a white woman, Maybelle Ewell.  Although she was really molested by her father, a mean alcoholic, Tom was convicted of the crime and was murdered as he tried to escape.

One of the most poignant scenes in the book occurs when Atticus goes to Tom’s home to tell his wife of his death.  That visit alone showed his regard for all people.

This book won the Pulitzer Prize and also was chosen as the favorite book of all time in the Great American Reads series.

Atticus reminds me a great deal of my own dad, who though not a professional person like Atticus, taught me to respect everyone and treated everyone fairly with justice and goodness.

Overwhelmed

By David R Moore

Dear Reader, I was informed that my writing of the transitive verb “overwhelmed” was not two separate words as I had written, i.e. over whelmed, but a single condensed word. Upon learning this, I was not overtaken with an oversupply of surprise to learn of that those two words were written in a condensed form. I was already aware of an overabundance of words starting with the prefix ‘over’.  I now submit to the reader my theory that ever since William Shakespeare created the overused prefix ‘un’, overambitious and overzealous scholars worked overtime to create new words just by adding a prefix.  It is not my intention to overload the reader with an overelaborate report to support my theory.  However, I am trying to communicate in such a manner not to overstate the idea and yet avoid being oversubtle. Thus I will let it fall to the oversusceptible reader to determine for himself, if my theory is overblown or just overgeneralized. I do not wish the reader to feel that I am overcritical of the overuse of the prefix, but only to make the reader aware of its overdevelopment. Perhaps it’s time to undo this style of writing and start unconnecting the prefix within our writing.

I was also informed that the word whelmed was not overall, a real word. Probably being oversensitive, I was devastated by this overbearing news. However, I attempted to compose myself and tried not to overreact or become overwrought upon this overturning of my overfond belief that the word ‘whelmed’ was real.  I tried to overlook the possibility of my overtaxed brain was already at overcapacity and my belief that the word ‘whelmed’ could be found in a dictionary was a natural oversight.  Perhaps I overvalued my oversupply of examples of words starting with the prefix ‘over’.

After overlong reflection, I decided that my initial and overvalued belief was correct and must respond with an overdue rebuttal.  In my over-anxious thinking, all words starting with ‘over’ are  condensed forms of the prefix ‘over’ and another existing word.  I do not want to appear overweening and overdramatize this idea.  This is no need to overcrowd the reader with an overdose of examples.  Although it is not my intent to oversell my belief that ‘whelmed’ was probably a real word at some point in time and currently left out of the modern dictionary, I would like the overcareful reader to override his own biases, and be receptive to the oversimplified idea that the word ‘whelmed’ once had a meaning of its own.  Perhaps an overscrupulous reader can research the etymology of the word overwhelmed to satiate our overfilled curiosity.

A Premium Ingredient

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Many of us have been cooking and baking more while being homebound. I’ve spent my time wisely working on a cookbook I’ve wanted to write for years. As part of a painstaking process, I’m writing, rewriting, sorting, and reformulating some ages-old family recipes passed down through generations. As a result, a baking frenzy’s been taking place in this farm girl’s test kitchen.

When compiling dessert lists, one thing I noticed is that my best recipes share a single premium ingredient. When combined with other items, that one-half cup of flavor improves the taste of any sweetened fruit or various fillings. After baking, the end result is something to be savored.

Being personally filled with the Holy Spirit is much like being made with a Premium ingredient that’s all wrapped up as one, the Holy Spirit, God, and Lord Jesus – who sweeten and add flavor to our lives. The result is much the same as baking a pie with one special ingredient. When fully cooked and taken out of the oven, all other ingredients are tastier, therefore, more fully enjoyed.

The result of being spiritually matured or “baked” is to be filled with the Spirit resulting in the fruit of the Spirit. In contrast, without the premium ingredient, Spirit, there would be only the deeds of the flesh that produce a walk according to the flesh.

Galatians 5:22: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.” (NIV)

And when it comes to Spirit, don’t partake of only one-half a cup – fill your cup until it overflows – then replenish.

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For more information on Renegade Writers Guild, visit www.renegadewritersguild.wordpress.com.

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