My Panel Slate For Constellation in Lincoln, NE

Well, the Con Programming Chair from Constellation in Lincoln, NE, April 13-15 sent me my panel schedule. I’ll be launching Space Battles there as well as promoting my other stuff. More details to follow when I have them. Elizabeth Bear is the GOH. Hope to see some of you there.

Character Building – Saturday, 11 a.m.

What makes a good character? How do you name characters? What are the aspects of character one must consider when creating characters for a story? How deep do you go? An examination of character creation and more.


Author Reading- Saturday, 2 p.m.

I’ll be reading from Space Battles and The Worker Prince and perhaps even a passage from The Returning which comes out in June.


Faith in Science Fiction and Fantasy-
Sunday at 1 p.m.

A discussion of the importance of faith as a motivator for humankind. Not a debate about the validity or value or religions, but rather a discussion of how faith drives all of us in some way. What do you put your faith in? What drives you toward your elusive life long goals? Why is faith an indelible, essential element for world building in speculative fiction? We’ll discuss these questions and much more.


Great Reads – Sunday at 2 p.m.
What are the best books you’ve read in the past year? How do they compare to ones you’ve read in years past? Which forthcoming books are you most excited about and why? A discussion of books we love and why we love them and our quest for more.

 

Excited to attend this Con for the first time. 


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, The Returning (forthcoming), the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and the kids book 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids from Delabarre Publishing. he edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 which he edited for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick and has stories in several anthologies and magazines (some forthcoming). As  a freelance editor, he’s edited a novel for author Ellen C. Maze (Rabbit: Legacy), a historical book for Leon C. Metz (The Shooters, John Wesley Hardin, The Border), and is now editing Decipher Inc’s WARS tie-in books for Grail Quest Books.  He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF Publishing, Grasping For The Wind and SF Signal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

19 5-star & 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $4.99 Kindle http://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.

What I Want For Christmas This Year

It’s been a tough year. Those who have followed along on the blog or Twitter or Facebook (or all three) will expect they know the answer to this, but actually, as much as I want a job, what I want more is something far more important and meaningful to a happy life.  What I want for Christmas this year is a world where people of any worldview can live the way they believe and express that when they feel necessary without being discriminated against by those who disagree.

I am no Einstein, but I am well educated and I test smart, so I assume I’m not stupid. (If you disagree, so be it). I have spent a lot of years studying, questioning, probing, and coming by my worldview. I am proud of who I am, and, as most of you know, when necessary, I speak out about it. Most of the time I keep it to myself with the exception of election time and when people say bigoted things villifying people like me for our beliefs. That makes me mad, and I speak up. For one, you cannot preach tolerance if you are not practicing it yourself. That’s called being a hypocrite and the actions negate the words. Second, if you really believe in freedom, you have to grant others the same freedom you demand for yourself. If you don’t, you don’t really believe in freedom. Villifying those with whom you disagree is being a bigot. It is discrimination. And it is definitely not tolerance.

I have found myself speaking out a lot more this year. Time and time again people I love and respect, or people I just admire, have made statements villifying Christians as racist or bigoted or ignorant or insane. I’m a Christian. I take offense. Time and again Republicans have been called similar things. I’m a Republican.  I take offense. More than that, as an artist, I am very emotional.  I feel things very deeply.  The words you hurl at me hurt.

I am conservative. I came by my beliefs honestly. I used to be a registered Democrat. I even voted in a Dem president. I am a Christian. I went through a period where I might not have acted like it. But I have come back to embrace those beliefs.

But I am also an individual. I think for myself. I do not buy what pundits sell without investigating, questioning, and examining it myself. And I do not vote the party line. I vote issues.

Since there are extremists in most belief systems, you do find extremist Christians and extremist Republicans. But those are not me. Please do not equate me with them. When you call them insane, racist, bigoted, and ignorant without specifying, you are including me. I don’t appreciate it.

So what I’d like for Christmas is people I love and respect, whom I always try and treat with love and respect, to recognize that my worldview is valid for me, even if they don’t share it, by stopping the hate, speaking out against the hate their fellow believers spread against people like me, and instead recognizing what we do have in common. We all have value. And we all have a lot more in common than different. Can we not celebrate that in 2011 instead of our differences?

That’s what I want. I probably won’t get it. But I hope those who took the time to read this will at least try.

For what it’s worth…

A Merry and Blessed Christmas to you all.  May you get what you want (as long as it’s not the extermination of all people like me).

Still I Will Thank You – A Thanksgiving Prayer

Dear God:

Well, you’ve really let us go through the ringer this past year.  It’s been one nightmare after another of painful experiences, and, well, with Thanksgiving here, I have to be honest, I’m struggling to think what to be thankful for.

A year ago, my life was torn apart when my wife got sick, had to be hospitalized twice against her will, and our finances were destroyed by medical bills.  Our marriage almost bought it, too, God, but here we are, somehow hanging on.  Our marriage is better than it was before she got treatment, so still I will thank you, Lord.

Next I lost my dear Lucy after 18.5 years.  My companion and best friend for half my life, I miss her a lot, and I wish I hadn’t been so distracted by Bianca’s illness so I would have gotten her treatment sooner and she might have been less miserable and lived a little longer.  I wasn’t ready to let her go, Lord, but still I will thank you for 18.5 wonderful years she blessed me.

In May, I lost my job for no reason I can fathom.  They couldn’t give me one either really and I can’t prove my suspicions, so here I am still jobless after 7 months and our finances are a wreck again and I’m scared to death, but still I will thank you, Lord, for 7 steady years of employment in there with good companies.

In October, my other job went away when I was replaced, and when the boss said I resigned (his definition of not fighting the decision to bring in someone else), I lost unemployment.  We really need that unemployment, Lord, and I worked hard to get that benefit.  Still I will thank you, Lord, for the months we had it.

Even though some people we used to count as friends have disappeared and not been there to love us through this, especially lately, although we feel alone and abandoned, still you’ve been there.  Even when we don’t feel you.  So still I will thank you, Lord.

Even though I’ve worked so hard to overcome my disability and worked to hard on my writing and creative stuff and until now, I haven’t really had success, even though, still I will thank you, Lord.

Even though I don’t know where our next meals come from when the fridge is empty, even though I don’t know when all this pain will end, even though I don’t know how to rid myself of the anger and bitterness I feel, even though I can’t find a job that pays what I’ve been making, still I will thank you, Lord.

Even though I don’t feel thankful.  Even though I’m mad at you for allowing this.  Even though I can’t even begin to fathom why you’ve allowed it, still I will thank you, Lord.

Because your Son died on a cross for me, Lord, when I was so unworthy, still I will thank you, Lord.

But Lord, please let next year be better.  I prefer to thank you when I actually feel thankful.  But still I will thank you, Lord, for life, breath, my wife, my pets, my family, and so much more.

Despite everything, Still I Will Thank You, Lord.

Bryan

Climate Change

I have never discriminated against or hated anyone in my life intentionally. Despite my life long religious views, I have always interpreted them and applied them with compassion. For example, I once served at a camp with gay students. When the students found out I was Christian, I got persecuted as a gay basher just because of it. Even though I’d never treated them different than any other students, they refused to accept anything but total agreement with them.

In high school, I carried my bible to classes, didn’t drink or smoke, and didn’t party or chase girls to “get laid.” I was treated like an outcast as well.

These were my first exposures to being persecuted and discriminated against for who I am and what I believe, and because of them, I have been careful not to do the same to others.

Yet here I find myself discriminated against because I am Christian and conservative. Words like “haters,” “Bigots,” “fundamentalist wackos,” etc. are bandied about. I am reviled and disrespected. And yet, those doing it don’t even recognize that it’s wrong. My beliefs are offensive so it’s okay. I wonder what they’d do if they saw someone mocking a Downs Syndrome child at the supermarket or shouting racial epitats in a white hood.

The climate of the country has changed for the worst, and the Left is creating an environment of persecution, hate and intolerance against the Right that they say is intolerant.

This is not what our country was meant to be, and it’s not going to create a civil, peaceful society. It needs to change. Conservatives need to be sure of how they express themselves, too. There are bigots on both sides, haters. I’m just tired of being lumped in with them because we share some beliefs.

Land of the free, home of the brave, free speech reigns — not any more.

For what it’s worth…

An Open Letter To My Fellow Christians

Dear brothers and sisters,

As I run into people like Anne Rice alienated by the small minded antics of many so-called believers, I now find myself dismayed by the outcry of believers against this Muslim center in New York. It’s two blocks from Ground Zero, not on Ground Zero, and I don’t get the moral outrage. After all, this is not an Al Queda training center. Al Queda, as a reminder, are Muslim extremists responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Muslims, on the other hand, are often kind, gentle people with strong faith who abhor those who commit terror in the name of their religion just as I abhor terror committed by abortion clinic bombers in the name of Christianity.

Why is it immoral for such people to build a faith center near Ground Zero? They may want to lead the way to healing by seeking to show that Muslims are not extremists and that Muslims care about the victims. Many Muslims themselves died in the 9/11 attacks. Unless the particular group building the center can be specifically tied to terrorists, we cannot rightfully object. The same freedom of religion which we cherish also applies to them, and by the same logic, any Christian churches near abortion clinics should also be banned.

Freedom of speech and religion must be universally applied or they are at risk for being limited for everyone, not just your personal chosen few. And Christ is about love and compassion, not hatred and discrimination.

So I don’t get this outrage. And I am offended by the ignorance behind it. No wonder Christians are being so often vilified today. We cannot use our own anger or religion as an excuse to be irrational and immoral ourselves in falsely accusing and persecuting others. It is giving Christianity in general and Jesus Christ specifically a bad name, and I hope we can all agree that’s the last thing we’d want to do.

It is time we lead the way back with love and compassion toward healing for our country. I am as angry as anyone with Obama, the most unqualified man in history, being president. I don’t like the left’s anti-Christian rhetoric. BUT firing back the same rhetoric and ignorance is not productive. It just instigates more of the same. If we truly want to be heard and want our country to change, we must change. We must do better than our opponents. We must listen and love even when it goes against our nature. It’s what Christ calls us to do. It’s what He himself did on the cross when He died for us.

It’s what must happen if we ever hope to see change.

For what it’s worth…

An Open Letter To Anne Rice & Those Wounded By The Church

As I read your statements about leaving Christianity, I see people who have been hurt by the church as you have. I have been in ministry for almost 20 years and have been hurt by the church every year of that. I recognize that it’s the fallible, sinful people who cause the pain though, not the institution. The institution is as imperfect as the people who form it, but that doesn’t make the institution broken or invaluable.

God calls us to fellowship and tells us he brings blessings through it. It’s not about a mega church or small church model. It’s about a regular gathering to fellowship, pray together, worship and hear God’s voice. Now, you can do parts off this alone. I do it all the time. And the bible supports this. But it also calls us to fellowship because the church has many parts like a body, and the leg cannot function without a foot, and the hand cannot function without fingers. We don’t always know where our place is within that body, but we do know that we belong. Even though we may not always feel like it. If all the people who had issues with the church believed this and stayed to work from the inside to change it, the world of Christianity would be a different place.

The way to change it though is not to make it more like the world, but make it more like Christ. Christ suffered more than any of us can even conceive or will ever experience, but he never gave up on the sinful creatures He was sent to save nor the broken church which was to become His bride.

Arguing that none of the denominations are in the Bible is pointless. Denominations are man’s doing, not God’s. And I believe they grieve the heart of God because we have so separated ourselves from each other that we fail to recognize we really have a lot more in common than different. Instead, we start looking at each other like the enemy. And that divides us further and creates pain and anger which distract us from our focus on Christlike living and Christlike compassion to our world.

Compassion is the heart of Christ and yet the church today often fails to show any evidence of it. We’re hardly compassionate to our own families, let alone needy strangers. That grieves God as well. Humans have to categorize everything because our hearts are competitive. It really comes out of deep seated insecurity which makes us want to feel we are okay by putting others down. But in the process, we fail to follow the humility of a Savior King who became a servant.

The church is not perfect. It’s broken. But the fact that you see that makes you invaluable to healing her. The people who are blind to the issues will never make a difference Those who see it and have powerful voices, like Anne Rice, are in a position to push for much needed change. And I urge you to consider the ministry possibilities that offers for you to serve both Christ and the church. Even though you will have to be humble to ignore your discomfort, and even though you will have to love on people who don’t love back or don’t often deserve it.

The church needs you, and you need the church. Only together can we all grow together to be more like the Master.

I hope you will continue to seek His will and wisdom in this, and I hope you will consider how your service to your fellow believers can serve Christ. We need loud voices of change, and though they may seem to fall on deaf ears, they will never go unheard.

Respectfully,

Bryan

The Challenge of a Dual Culture Nation

I’ve spent a lot of time traveling and working cross culturally. In fact, since I’m married to a Brazilian, my home life is that way, too. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the conservative v. liberal antagonism dividing our nation these days, and it occurs to me that part of the problem is we have two cultures living side by side: a Christian culture and a secular culture.

The Christian culture believes in traditional values which once formed the moral compass of our nation. These were the values our Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote the founding documents of our nation. They may not have been believers or lived these values, but with the church of the day being the dominant voice of moral standards, these values nonetheless were a compass for them and influenced their thinking.

The Secular Culture consists of people who, for various reasons, believe that religion should be private and kept to one’s self; that people of faith shouldn’t share their faith with others or attempt to push its values into the public arena. Some of these are Agnostics and Athiests. Others are people of other religions than Christians. Others are members of mainstream Christian churches who may separate their faith and life in ways the members of the Christian culture don’t know how to do.

These are far from complete descriptions. They’re merely meant as sketches to give you an idea of what I’m talking about. The groups are far more complex than these few words can describe or explain.

The point is that Christians like myself, in the Christian culture, believe that our faith informs our lives. The way we live, think, breath and act is influenced by our beliefs. Like other humans, we are imperfect and don’t always live up to our ideals, but we are trying and constantly adjusting ourselves to learn from mistakes and live more like the Savior we believe in. As a result, we can not separate our values in the church from those in the rest of our lives. We believe that biblical values are God’s intention.

For example, murder is against God’s law, and babies are humans, so abortion is killing babies. Human beings are possessors of finite minds and thus incapable of deciding if a baby is worth living or not. I was the child of date rape, but I have spent a lot of my life helping others, teaching, giving. I think my life has meaning. If I’d been aborted, I couldn’t have made that difference. Who are we to know the child a woman is carrying won’t turn out to be an amazing human being? Who are we to deny that chance?

Secular culture, however, looks at that and says that a woman has a right not to be forced to raise a child she doesn’t want. There are too many abused and abandoned children already. Forcing women to carry to term unwanted babies will just create more.

Another example, gay marriage. The bible says marriage consists of “one man and one woman.” It also says explicit things about the sin of homosexuality. Now one can argue that the church misrepresents homosexual sex as a worse sin than other sins incorrectly, and I would agree, because the bible says all sins are equal. But that’s not the point. The point is, marriage is a religious thing to them, and therefore gay marriage can’t exist because it is against God’s law.

Secular culture sees this as Christians imposing their values on others, but civil marriage is separate and if laws were properly written to define the difference between civil and church marriage, some of the conflict would be a mute point. At the same time, secular culturists insistence that their view be upheld, feels to Christian culturalists like secular values being forced on them.

In any case, these are two opposing world views and their clash has created a great deal of anger, resentment and struggle in our nation and world.

We need to find a way to dialogue better in these cultures. If both sides object to having the others’ values forced upon them, they must also admit that they have no right to force their values on the other side. A compromise must be reached and the gap bridge or our country will never recover and reunite in ways necessary to solve the problems we face. I have no solutions or compromises to suggest other than mutual recognition of our rights to not have others’ views pushed off on us, but we do need to come together and I pray that we will.

For what it’s worth…

On The Blame Game, the Global Warming Myth, and Why Both Distract Us From Enacting Needed Change

I love this article. A Golbal Warming supporter saying a University’s investigation refutes the accusations of scientists’ tampering with evidence. Well, gee, most universities have liberal leanings, that has been proven, and on top of it, they stand to make tons of research dollars off Global Warming research, so is it any surprise they find a scientist innocent?

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/07/01/climategates-death-rattle/

It’s just more of the same posturing back and forth. I have yet to see any evidence that convinces me of Global Warming as a fact, rather than an opinion or interpretation. I do not deny that humankind’s activities have impacted the environment. Nor do I deny that many of those impacts have been negative. However, that does not prove Global Warming exists. It proves environmental impact exists. Is that really news to anyone?

The Bible does hold us accountable for being caretakers of God’s creation and certainly we have not done a very good job in many cases. Mangroves and beach fronts are developed without regard for environmental impact to bring in resorts and tourists all the time. Factories create sludge piles or dump in rivers and ponds all the time without regard to the impact on wildlife or soil. These things have been going on for generations. The results are deteriorating natural development in such areas and often the destruction of habitats and even species. Is anyone really in favor of that if it could be avoided?

On the other hand, as the higher creature biblically, man has claimed certain dominion for himself, and I’d dare say the majority of the bleeding heart Global Warmists would think twice before giving up their creature comforts for environmental preservation — unless of course they were harangued into it by the press.

It’s so easy to point at the other guy and say blame him. Just look at the Obama Administration. They’ve been blaming BP for the oil spill for over a month and sent no government resources and personnel to clean it up. Not their fault, why should they? Forget the destruction the delay has allowed and contributed to. Bush was blamed for not responding fast enough to hurricane damage, but this is manmade and where’s Obama? Isn’t environmentalism important to his base? The Republicans do the same thing. All of a sudden it’s Obama’s fault for the failing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Hey, I support both wars, but even I wish we’d done them better. I don’t think Obama is doing any better than Bush’s team at handling them, but saying it’s Obama’s fault seems a little silly.

In the end, the blame game is pointless. The reality is that something which might be done to combat damage or even prevent it is not happening because people with the power to enact change are too busy placing blame on someone else.

To me, that’s what Global Warming is: placing blame on big business and other interests, anyone but themselves. We are all, in the end, responsible for damaging the environment. Every time we use a resort built over a mangrove or enjoy vacations at cabins developed in natural wilderness. Does that make us gross offenders? No. But in our way, we have supported it. Blaming others for being worse than us does nothing but keep us from doing anything to help change things, and if we want it to change, we must all join together to make that change a reality.

Whatever term you apply to it, we have damaged our Earthly home, and some of that damage will never be undone. But some it can be stopped and some restoration occur, if we stop fighting over who’s right and who’s wrong and start agreeing to make efforts to lessen damages and improve the environment. Can’t we all at least agree on the need for that? One has only to look around to see the reality that parks are less large and less common in urban areas. To see that trees and animals are less frequent in the wild. That even birds seem to struggle more and more finding food and water in many places. We can see the residue of pollution coating nature. We’re not all blind, so we shouldn’t pretend to be.

I think the time has come to stop the blame and join the change game. For what it’s worth…