What Is Christmas All About?

Some think it’s for SHOPPING! Retail certainly hopes so. Some think it’s for time off from normal obligations. Family and friends look forward to these times. Some think it’s discriminatory to single out a point of view that is only one among many. And some think it’s all too much.

But, the Lord Jesus Christ, through His servant, Luke, wrote:

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:8-11 English Standard Version (ESV)

The holiday commemorates this prophecy’s fulfillment: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us.) Matthew 1:23, quoted from Isaiah 7:14.

As is our custom, let’s see what John Calvin had to say:

The angel opens his discourse by saying, that he announces great joy; and next assigns the ground …of joy, that a Savior is born. These words show us, first, that, until men have peace with God, and are reconciled to him through the grace of Christ, all the joy that they experience is deceitful, and of short duration.

Ungodly men frequently indulge in frantic and intoxicating mirth; but if there be none to make peace between them and God, the hidden stings of conscience must produce fearful torment. Besides, to whatever extent they may flatter themselves in luxurious indulgence, their own lusts are [, themselves,] tormentors.

The commencement of solid joy is, to perceive the fatherly love of God toward us, which alone gives tranquility to our minds. And this “joy,” in which, Paul tells us, “the kingdom of God” consists, is “in the Holy Spirit,” (Romans 14:17.)

By calling it great joy, he shows us, not only that we ought, above all things, to rejoice in the salvation brought us by Christ, but that this blessing is so great and boundless, as fully to compensate for all the pains, distresses, and anxieties of the present life.

Let us learn to be so delighted with Christ alone, that the perception of his grace may overcome, and at length remove from us, all the distresses of the flesh.

…Christ proclaims peace, not only, to them that are [near], “but to them that are, far off,” (Ephesians 2:17,) to “strangers” (Ephesians 2:12) equally with citizens. But as the peculiar covenant with the Jews lasted till the resurrection of Christ, so the angel separates them from the rest of the nations.

Here, …the angel expresses the cause of the joy. This day is born the Redeemer long ago promised, who was to restore the Church of God to its proper condition.

Of course, Spurgeon has a few choice words concerning the passage, too.

As we spend this time away from ordinary cares, let us reflect on the One who came to earth to die as payment for our sins and reconcile us to God. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.

What Is Christmas All About? | A Charlie Brown Christmas, YouTube, Snoopy, Published on Nov 25, 2016, Transcript (of sorts)

Jumping to Conclusions

It seems to be the season for jumping to conclusions. Whether from anxiety over the Republic’s election choices, our ongoing family squabbles at Thanksgiving and Christmas time, or as a result of offenses done toward us in the course of our days here on earth. The Apostle James speaks to that last issue; at least according to some commentators:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. James 1:19 English Standard Version (ESV)

Matthew Henry, a Presbyterian minister, gives us three possible understandings of this verse. He considers the third one most likely. All of them have to do with restraining our passions, or, as we say today: “holding our tongue,” “holding fire,” or “cooling off.” First, he explains by what means we should restrain our passions:

This lesson we should learn under afflictions; and this we shall learn if we are indeed begotten again by the word of truth. For thus the connection stands—An angry and hasty spirit is soon provoked to ill things by afflictions, and errors and ill opinions become prevalent through the workings of our own vile and vain affections; but the renewing grace of God and the word of the gospel teach us to subdue these: Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, v. 19.

Henry then offers that this verse may refer to verse 18 immediately preceding that concerns God’s word:

…So, we may observe, it is our duty rather to hear God’s word, and apply our minds to understand it, than to speak according to our own fancies or the opinions of men, and to run into heat and passion thereupon. Let not such errors [(i.e., substituting conjectures and opinions for truth)]…ever be hastily, much less angrily, mentioned by you; but be ready to hear and consider what God’s word teaches in all such cases.

Or, verse 19 may refer to the verses at the chapter’s beginning:

This may be applied to the afflictions and temptations spoken of in the beginning of the chapter. And then we may observe, it is our duty rather to hear how God explains his providences, and what he designs by them, than to say as David did in his haste, “I am cut off;” or as Jonah did in his passion, “I do well to be angry.” Instead of censuring God under our trials, let us open our ears and hearts to hear what he will say to us.

Or, finally, Henry suggests this understanding most confidently:

This may be understood as referring to the disputes and differences that Christians, in those times of trial, were running into among themselves: and so, this part of the chapter may be considered without any connection with what goes before. Here we may observe that, whenever matters of difference arise among Christians, each side should be willing to hear the other.

People are often stiff in their own opinions because they are not willing to hear what others have to offer against them: whereas we should be swift to hear reason and truth on all sides, and be slow to speak anything that should prevent this: and, when we do speak, there should be nothing of wrath; for a soft answer turns away wrath.

As this epistle is designed to correct a variety of disorders that existed among Christians, these words, swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, may be very well interpreted according to this last explication. And we may further observe from them that, if men would govern their tongues, they must govern their passions. When Moses’s spirit was provoked, he spoke unadvisedly with his lips. If we would be slow to speak, we must be slow to wrath.

In this holiday season, may we join with Moses, as he was during his better days, and be men and women of meek spirits. Hope well of others, for we are not acquitted and we, too, shall stand before the Judge.

Freedom from Want - NARA

Freedom from Want, Norman Rockwell (1894–1978), Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. Bureau of Special Services. (03/09/1943 – 09/15/1945), Public Domain

A Digital Carol – A Tale for Our Generation – Candidate Press Release

Mandated Memoranda Publishing Announces Fourth Book

 A Digital Carol – A Tale for Our Generation, By Adolphus Writer, Exclusively on Amazon as a Kindle Edition, a Mandated Memoranda Publishing, LLC release.

SYRACUSE, N.Y., Dec. 20, 2014 /PR Company TBD/ — A Digital Carol – A Tale for Our Generation is the old Dickens’s favorite—A Christmas Carol—reimagined. We now face a monstrous egotist who questions the very premise of his existence and ours.

ADC Cover

A Digital Carol – A Tale for Our Generation, by Adolphus Writer, 2014 Copyright, All Rights Reserved

We no longer believe in ghosts, do we? I thought not. But we invest our time and attention in the promise of virtual reality for entertainment and, as some might wish it, our evolutionary destiny. Of course, this is only the latest manifestation of our desire to create our own heaven, on our own terms, here on earth.

A Digital Carol is Dickens’s A Christmas Carol retold with new forms and modern perspectives. No longer do we read a tale of a mean miser who, through sorrowful experiences, becomes kindly. We now face a monstrous egotist who teeters between damnation and redemption.

This speculative fiction story’s goal is not to inspire a more joyous holiday or a more generous spirit, but to question the very premise of our existence. Are we too far into the dark night of the soul for anything but drastic measures?

Quotes

“No one anticipated the unfortunate events that have taken place, sir. They would rather die than subject their families to these horrors.”—Solicitor for community charity

“Perhaps it’s best that they do die. It reduces the surplus population. We have no need of them all anymore. Not one of them. Worldwide.”—Eli Benjamin Ezer (aka E. Ben. Ezer)

Review

“Writer’s (Tragic Wonders, 2013…) novella reimagines Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol as a cautionary sci-fi tale…Writer’s interpretation is an intriguing retelling, as it does much more than merely change the classic tale’s setting and style.” —Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Adolphus Writer holds a doctorate in theoretical physics. After he graduated, he took a job at a large US defense firm applying his creative and analytical skills to pressing problems. He married Ninja (NEEN–yuh) S. Writer after she completed her service with the German Federal Defense forces.

During the economic downturn spanning the first and second decades of the twenty–first century, his job was eliminated and he was terminated. In early 2012, Adolphus established Mandated Memoranda Publishing, LLC as a way to support the lifestyle to which he and his family had become accustomed. He says they like to eat on a daily basis and stay debt–free.

About the Publisher

Mandated Memoranda Publishing, LLC published Tiānmìng – Mandate of Heaven as a Kindle edition in June 2013. It is an everyman’s spy adventure – a reluctant journalist’s tale of economic calamity, geologic catastrophe, geopolitical power shifts, and the beginnings of a hands–on surveillance state.

Our second Kindle Edition is Tragic Wonders – Stories, Poems, and Essays to Ponder which presents faith in Christ as a plausible alternative through brief narratives of realism, thriller, and science fiction. It was published on Amazon in December 2013.

Our upcoming fourth Kindle edition, Who Shall Be God, is a fictional account of the struggles between two families, the Stadists and the Libertas, who live in an east coast US city, north and south of the 38th parallel, respectively. It will be published on Amazon in late 2015 or early 2016.

We plan to release a fifth Kindle edition in late 2016 or early 2017. The working title for this book is China Dream. The book’s still in process, as is the dream itself. However, could the dream tragically turn into a nightmare instead?

Book details

A Digital Carol – A Tale for Our Generation

By Adolphus Writer

amazon.com/dp/B00PVFS5AQ

Genre: science fiction, Christian futuristic

1st edition, released November 19, 2014

By Mandated Memoranda Publishing, LLC

Exclusively as an Amazon Kindle Edition

ASIN: B00PVFS5AQ

ISBN: 978-0-9855327-2-7

Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited

90 pages (estimated)

Connect with us online

On Twitter (@AdolphusWriter)

On Amazon (Inside the Book available)

On Google+

On Facebook

On Goodreads (Excerpt available)

On Booklife

Mandated Memoranda Publishing, LLC

mandatedmemorandainquiry at outlook dot com

A Digital Carol – A Tale for Our Generation – Professionally Reviewed by Kirkus Indie

At Kirkus Reviews’s 35% fair use limit, here’s what Kirkus Indie thought of A Digital Carol – A Tale for Our Generation.

A Digital Carol – A Tale for Our Generation

by Adolphus Writer

KIRKUS REVIEW

A Digital Carol cover (quarter scale) - copyright, all rights reservedWriter’s (Tragic Wonders, 2013, etc.) novella reimagines Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol as a cautionary sci-fi tale.

In this 21st century recasting of the classic story, E. Ben Ezer fills the role of the iconic Ebenezer Scrooge. He’s a callous businessman in the not-too-distant future, who, in his quest for wealth, has replaced almost his entire staff with a sophisticated autonomous computer network. Ezer’s greed extends far beyond mere wealth, however; he’s looking to transcend his current position and become something of a godlike figure. While working late one night, Ezer confronts the image of his former business partner emanating from his computer screen. Unfazed, Ezer decides to try out his company’s experimental virtual reality suit, and the apparition soon leads him through his past, present and future.

Read the entire review

We expected a fair to middlin’ review and that’s what we’ve got. We’ll work on our prose next time around.

Based on Amazon’s editorial review policies and Kirkus Reviews excerpt guidelines, we’ll use:

“Writer’s (Tragic Wonders, 2013…) novella reimagines Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol as a cautionary sci-fi tale.” —Kirkus Reviews

and

“Writer’s interpretation is an intriguing retelling…it does much more than merely change the classic tale’s setting and style.” —Kirkus Reviews

Both excerpts fit Twitter and Goodreads self-serve ad character count limits.

If you are interested in reading the $0.99 story for yourself:

A Digital Carol – A Tale for Our Generation

By Adolphus Writer

amazon.com/dp/B00PVFS5AQ

Genre: science fiction, Christian futuristic

1st edition, released November 19, 2014

By Mandated Memoranda Publishing, LLC

Exclusively as an Amazon Kindle Edition

ASIN: B00PVFS5AQ

ISBN: 978-0-9855327-2-7

Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited

90 pages (estimated)

ADC Author Interview

We here at Mandated Memoranda Publishing, LLC, are gearing up for a book unveiling. Here’s an author interview for the taking. All we ask is that you use the Q & A ‘as is,’ notify us of your intention to use the material, and send us a link ahead of your post via our email address. Thanks.

MM email address

Book Title: A Digital Carol – A Tale for Our Generation

Author: Adolphus Writer

Publisher: Mandated Memoranda Publishing, LLC

Genre: Science Fiction, Christian Futuristic

Publication date: November 19, 2014

Short author bio:

Adolphus Writer holds a doctorate in theoretical physics. After he graduated, he took a job at a large US defense firm applying his creative and analytical skills to pressing problems. He married Ninja (NEEN–yuh) S. Writer after she completed her service with the German Federal Defense forces.

During the economic downturn spanning the first and second decades of the twenty–first century, his job was eliminated and he was terminated. In early 2012, Adolphus established Mandated Memoranda Publishing, LLC as a way to support the lifestyle to which he and his family had become accustomed. He says they like to eat on a daily basis and stay debt–free.

Book Synopsis:

A Digital Carol – A Tale for Our Generation is the old Dickens’ favorite—A Christmas Carol—reimagined. We now face a monstrous egotist who questions the very premise of his existence and ours.

Images:

ADC Book Cover

ADC Cover quarter scale, Copyrighted, All Rights Reserved

Author

Adolphus Writer Picture

Contact information: mandatedmemorandainquiry at outlook dot com

Purchase link: Amazon Kindle eBook exclusively

Website / Blog: Mandated Memoranda Publishing, LLC

Twitter:

Adolphus Writer (@AdolphusWriter)

Other Social Media:

On Goodreads

On Google+

On Facebook

ABOUT YOUR BOOK AND WRITING PROCESS

Tell us a little about your book.

I think the ADC’s preface sums it up well without giving too much away:

We no longer believe in ghosts, do we? I thought not. But we invest our time and attention in the promise of virtual reality for entertainment and, as some might wish it, our evolutionary destiny. Of course, this is only the latest manifestation of our desire to create our own heaven, on our own terms, here on earth.

A Digital Carol is Dickens’ A Christmas Carol retold with new forms and modern perspectives. No longer do we read a tale of a mean miser who, through sorrowful experiences, becomes kindly. We now face a monstrous egotist who teeters between damnation and redemption.

This speculative fiction story’s goal is not to inspire a more joyous holiday or a more generous spirit, but to question the very premise of our existence. Are we too far into the dark night of the soul for anything but drastic measures?

The chapter titles have more flair than the original story, too:

Preface

Chapter 1 – You Disgust Me, Sir

Chapter 2 – Left Behind? No, Wait

Chapter 3 – Why Were You Holding Out?

Chapter 4 – What I Need From You

Chapter 5 – A Long, Long Way Down

Chapter 6 – Ben’s Recovery

Chapter 7 – A Very Good Year

About the Author

How did you come up with the title?

It’s probably obvious: A Christmas Carol becomes A Digital Carol. Dickens’ used the trope of spiritualism popular in his day. We chose Artificial Intelligence (AI) gone awry popular in ours. Neither Dickens nor we advocate for these movements. Although both stories are set during the Christmas season, we changed our title to A Digital Carol to emphasize the modern nature of the reimagined story.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

If it’s stated anywhere in ADC, we’d have to say that the preface hints most directly at our message:

All of us want to create, in some shape or fashion, our own heaven, on our own terms, here on earth. Whether we believe it or not, we, even as the story’s main character: E. Ben Ezer, teeter between damnation and redemption. We hope this story prompts all readers to question the very premise of their existence.

How much of the book is realistic?

All of it. Of course, at least as of this writing, everything is greatly exaggerated in the story. We have a growing economic divide, jobs automated away, AI demons, Wars, and cries of over–population. We’ve recently experienced a worldwide financial crisis that may not be over. We have wars and rumors of wars raging in places most of us cannot find on a map. We have various elites that view the majority of us as low information and hardly worth the investment (e.g., look at real wages, job statistics, and offshored corporate income). We also have philosophical movements that put agrarian gentrification for the privileged above economic prosperity for all. I could go on as could you.

What is your writing process?

Get to the computer every morning and type until bed time. Yeah, right, as if that would happen. It’s the goal, but we only have that leisure on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays. The rest of the week is broken up by appointments.

Prior to starting a manuscript, we do a lot of daily reading on relevant topics to establish our mindset and a reservoir of facts from which we draw. As the writing progresses, we do less reading each day.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?

We used to use advanced copy readers for early critiques. However, your friends and acquaintances shouldn’t be put on the spot when it comes to bald criticism. And, it’s this kind of criticism that you need. We’ve decided, from now on, to go to paid editing early in the development process.

Several shops offer quick turnarounds and direct communications. Pay the money and get the best you can afford. We chose to do three collaborative editing sessions before a final copyedit phase. I feel we have a better product for it.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Our collaborative editor for our second and third sessions recommended reading 120 pages from The Art of Dramatic Writing: Its Basis in the Creative Interpretation of Human Motives by Lajos Egri. Specifically, she recommended the chapter on ‘Conflict’. We read most of the book, actually. The author’s drama principles are useful; his science and philosophy are forgettable.

How long did it take to write your latest release?

Our first manuscript iteration is dated mid–November 2013. We sent the manuscript off for the first collaborative editing session June 2014. We received our manuscript from our third collaborative editing session October 2014. The manuscript is about 21,500 words.

Do you have a favorite line or scene from your latest release?

I think this exchange captures the initial mood of the story:

“No one anticipated the unfortunate events that have taken place, sir. They would rather die than subject their families to these horrors.”—Solicitor for community charity

“Perhaps it’s best that they do die. It reduces the surplus population. We have no need of them all anymore. Not one of them. Worldwide.”—Eli Benjamin Ezer

Eli Benjamin Ezer (also known as E. Ben. Ezer) is our main character. Honestly, I didn’t like the name Scrooge and each of his new names has an interesting meaning. The solicitor reappears later in the story (as his counterpart does in the original story).

ABOUT PUBLISHING AND MARKETING

What are the future plans for you and this book?

After we get the copyedited manuscript back, we’ll generate a PDF file and submit it for reviews at: Kirkus Review, Books and Culture, Publishers Weekly, and Red City Review.

In parallel, we’ll kindlefy the manuscript and post it to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) for sale by the end of November 2014. We’re already on Goodreads and plan to hold an event prior to Christmas.

If the reviews are fair to middlin’ or better, we’ll request ADC become a Kindle Single and solicit reviews from newspapers to which we subscribe.

What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?

How to quickly generate clean HTML from Microsoft Word and accurate Amazon KF8 files from the HTML. We have yet to figure out Kindle for iOS to our dismay.

GENERAL QUESTIONS

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I can remember standing up in class, at age seven, and declaring I wanted to write a book about nuclear energy. I read widely in fiction and non-fiction throughout my schooling and afterwards. I had always planned on writing and publishing after retirement. The economic downturn merely accelerated the schedule.

Have you published anything else?

Mandated Memoranda Publishing, LLC has published Tiānmìng – Mandate of Heaven  as a Kindle edition in June 2013. It is an everyman’s spy adventure – a reluctant journalist’s tale of economic calamity, geologic catastrophe, geopolitical power shifts, and the beginnings of a hands–on surveillance state.

Our second Kindle Edition is Tragic Wonders – Stories, Poems, and Essays to Ponder which presents faith in Christ as a plausible alternative through brief narratives of realism, thriller, and science fiction. It was published on Amazon in December 2013.

What’s next for you?

We plan to release a fourth Kindle edition: Who Shall Be God, a fictional account of the struggles between two families, the Stadists and the Libertas, who live in an east coast US city, north and south of the 38th parallel, respectively. It will be published on Amazon in late 2015 or early 2016.

Our fifth planned Kindle edition is due in late 2016 or early 2017. The working title for this book is China Dream. It’s still in process, as is the dream itself. However, could it turn into a nightmare instead?

A Digital Carol – A Tale for Our Generation — A Status Report

We at Mandated Memoranda Publishing have been working on our third book: A Digital Carol – A Tale for Our Generation. This is the old Dickens‘ favorite—A Christmas Carol—reimagined. We now face a monstrous egotist who questions the very premise of his existence and ours. Its genre is sci-fi but I prefer the non–conformist genre speculative fiction.

We’ve updated our book blurb yet again. We plan on posting an Author Interview, a Character Interview, and a Candidate Press Release in the coming weeks. We’ve managed to streamline our Kindlefication and campaign processes further and may try to summarize them in outline form (our punch list).

We’ve labored through three rounds of collaborative editing, read Lajos Egri on how to create drama, and are now Kindlefying (are you listening, Oxford English Dictionary?) the manuscript while we wait for the final copyedited manuscript. We’ll fold those edits in and generate our Kindle book.

We also plan to solicit paid reviews and, if those are fair to middlin’, pursue Amazon Singles status and reviews by two newspapers to which we subscribe. We may ask Amazon for Singles consideration in any case because there is no accounting for taste when it comes to reviewers (both our experience and our collaborative editors bear this out).

Our aim is to publish the Kindle book by Black Friday (or Cyber Monday depending on the vagaries of Amazon KDP). We’ll add the book to Goodreads and do promotion there. We hope to have okay reviews by mid-December. We’ll add those to the Amazon product page. Then we’ll do a press release with the reviews (if one of the review companies doesn’t offer first).

For those of you who follow our devotional postings (under the Ponderings category), we plan to add four more after we get the book online. We’ll cover: Sanctification, Fiery Trials, Assurance, and Salvation. We plan on starting book four: Who Shall Be God during December. Postings at that time will reflect our research. As always, we appreciate your ongoing support for Mandated Memoranda Publishing.

ADC Cover quarter scale, Copyrighted, All Rights Reserved

A Digital Carol – A Tale for Our Generation Cover – quarter scale (copyrighted, all rights reserved)