Sanctuary Has a Pervasive 21st Century Enemy

Premier Southern mystery in the Shiloh series of stories by T. M. Brown

The greatest threat to any Sanctuary, where hope, peace and the presence of God’s embrace reside, is the pervasive cancer of sex, violence and vulgarity.

According to recent statistics, novels replete with explicit sex, violence, and vulgarity continue to thrive as the flavor of the month in book sales. However, should authors kowtow to earthy content to increase book numbers?

Good writers engage their audience so well, scenes calling for sex, violence, or vulgarity communicate through the actions and attitudes of the characters. Thus, allowing the story to unfold without explicitly necessitating every sordid detail.

I believe an author’s responsibility is not only to entertain but also engage readers, so they sense they are witnessing the story as it unfolds.

What images race through your mind that depicts anger and rage? Do you picture contorted faces and threatening gestures, or do you need to be explicitly told? Consider this scene from my book Sanctuary:

Hank gritted his teeth as the veins on his neck swelled, and his eyes glared through me. “Well, I think you’re putting your nose into places you’ve no business being.” He uncrossed his arms and pointed at my chest. “I’m warning you. Stay away from me and my wife!”

“Hank, I’m sorry if I’ve said or done anything to upset you. Have you spoken to your father?”

“This is between you and me. Stay out of our lives.” Hank’s effort to be more composed fell apart.

… Hank pressed his finger into my sternum. “This is all I’m going to say to you about Jessie or John…” He thumped his finger against my chest adding emphasis to each word. “I’m truly sorry about what happened to Jessie, but John got what he deserved. And you can quote me on that. Now back off! I’m warning you.”

Pete stepped out from the shadows, unceremoniously interrupting Hank’s exchange with me. 

“Mister P, is everything okay?” Pete asked as he glared at Hank. “Hank, who’re you warning about what?”

Hank surveyed Pete and the four remaining shadows just out of the light. His finger fell to his side, but his distended veins on his neck swelled even more. “Pete, this has nothing to do with you or any of you guys!”

…Pete extended his finger just shy of Hank’s chest. “How in the blue blazes do you know it don’t involve us? If you think you can flex your muscles and intimidate one of my friends, you just made it my business.” His stern warning and unflinching stare froze Hank.

Granted a few expletives could’ve been exchanged, but did the scene work anyway?

John Grisham achieved his decades-long success capitalizing on his uncanny knack of drawing his audience’s attention upon his colorful characters and settings. Doing so, he exited scenes involving sex, violence or vulgarity using innuendo. In fact, Grisham’s Theodore Boone YA mysteries found a broad new audience without much of an adjustment in his storytelling to do so. Neither should we to reach a wider audience to sell more books.

Sanctuary, a Southern mystery novel that celebrates small-town life dealing with 21st Century challenges while trying to move beyond scandal and dark secrets holding the idyllic, time-lost town of Shiloh hostage as Theo Phillips and his wife, Liddy arrive in town to retire. For more information – TM Brown FB Author Page or CoachBrown.org

The Source of My Inspiration – Family!

When the Enemy Comes

Will you flee or fight?
Will you flee or fight?

When the Enemy Comes

Observe this: The Lord God of Hosts is about to remove from Jerusalem and from Judah every kind of security: the entire supply of bread and water, the hero and warrior, the judge and prophet, the fortune-teller and elder, the commander of 50 and the dignitary, the counselor, cunning magician, and necromancer. “I will make youths their leaders, and the unstable will govern them.” The people will oppress one another, man against man, neighbor against neighbor; the youth will act arrogantly toward the elder, and the worthless toward the honorable. A man will even seize his brother in his father’s house, [saying:] “You have a cloak – you be our leader! This heap of rubble will be under your control.” On that day he will cry out, saying: “I’m not a healer. I don’t even have food or clothing in my house. Don’t make me the leader of the people!”For Jerusalem has stumbled and Judah has fallen because they have spoken and acted against the Lord, defying His glorious presence. The look on their faces testifies against them, and like Sodom, they flaunt their sin. They do not conceal it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves. Isaiah 3:1-9 (HCSB)

If we claim to be among God’s chosen people, how would we respond if “that day” was upon us today? Would we trust in God or panic because of our lack of readiness?

As an American, we may declare that we live in God’s country and are kept safe and secure, and we are free from any threat of the enemy invading our sacred land. However, what if our land fell into the enemies’ hands and all our leaders were exiled. Who would lead? Who would stand and face of the enemy? Would we still trust God, and believe he would bring stability again to our nation?

If we truly are “One Nation Under God,” would there ever be a shortage of leaders who God could draw upon to lead His people? Are we somehow more secure than the Israelites and the people in Jerusalem? Let us consider what Isaiah witnessed and prophesied, the northern tribes of Israel were driven into exile and ultimately extinction from the Promised Land, and the southern tribe of Judah, along with Jerusalem, were dismantled and likewise exiled. When we claim to be God’s people but the claim rests upon who we were, not who we are, we stand on shaky ground. Just as Jesus warned those in Jerusalem who once again fell victim to a false belief, there will be many who will cry out “Lord, Lord!” But, the Lord will say: “Go away, I never knew you!” Are we as a nation headed towards the same rejection?

Acquaintances and friends are strange bedfellows.The difference between an acquaintance and a friend lies in the depth of the relationship. An acquaintance knows of you and might even hangout with you from time to time when it suits their purpose, but a friend stands with you because they know you and genuinely care for you. God sorts us out the same way, plenty of people claim to know of God, but far less truly live as a friend of God, much less child of God.

When the enemy arrives at the door, acquaintances scatter to preserve their own lives, but true friends stand their ground to defend and protect one another. The Lord wants his people to be friends with each other and with him.

When the enemy knocks what will your response reveal? Will you reveal your superficial acquaintance with God and flee, or stand your ground trusting in your friendship with God and face the enemy? God’s Nation under his care nurtures genuine friendships that care for one another and for their common friendship with God.

Will we stand as a Nation Under God or fall into exile screaming, “Lord. Lord!”

Coach