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Next August in Toronto

Just an FYI for my friends, admirers and stalkers: After waiting a few weeks to see if Toronto would indeed become a plague area, I’ve gone ahead and made my reservations to attend Torcon 3, which is also and simultaneously the 61st World Science Fiction Convention. On Labor Day weekend, I and a couple thousand other SF geeks will descend on Canada’s most populous city to hand out Hugo awards, dress up like space creatures and hope for at least one prominent author to pour a drink over the head of another. Hope springs eternal.

For those of you attending, I’ll be camped out at the Fairmont Royal York, which is as I understand it the headquarters of the whole shindig. I paid a little extra to get one of the “Fairmont View” rooms, which from what I’m told are located on one of the higher floors (i.e., away from the convention anarchy), and feature lake views and a King-Sized bed. I briefly considered getting one of the Deluxe rooms on offer, which include a nice little anteroom (the Canadian dollar being what it is, I believe it could have been gotten such a room for an additional 63 cents American — just like SuperSizing your meal!), but then I realized that would fairly obligate me to actually have people into my room in a party sort of way, and I prefer to have my hotel rooms be places of rest. Which is not to say I won’t go to the other party rooms. Indeed, no. I’ll be there to schmooze.

(Before you ask if you can crash in my room: One bed, people. And I generally sleep nekkid. Oh, stop with the screaming. It’s not that bad.)

It’ll be an interesting timing to be at a convention for me, since I’ll be at an interesting stage between convention classes: My book has been sold but not yet published, so I’ll be The Invisible Author No One Knows About. I think this is kind of groovy state in which to be, because I’ll get to experience the con from the perspective of a fan and the perspective of an author (in the latter guise, I’ve been asked to participate in a couple of writing workshops — still trying to decide whether I should do those or not). And anyway, it’ll be my first convention. No matter what it should be, as they say, a true experience.

If you’re going, let me know.

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Jesus Christ, This Music Rocks!

The New York Times has a really interesting article on the newest generation of Christian bands, who are all basically breaking the long-established rules of Christian music — i.e., that the music has to be a pathetic imitation of safe, already existing musical forms, the lyrics all have to mention God and Christ every other line, that it can’t freak out parents who see The Powerpuff Girls as examples of secular evil, and that any attempt to reach a larger audience beyond the already-saved will result in an immediate shunning. In short: boring, unoriginal and paranoid. The new kids are saying to hell with that (well, you know) and are making music they like, tackle themes that give the safely saved the jitters, and make no bones about reaching a larger audience.

Good for them. Beyond the fact that no creative person should have to make art that sucks simply because they believe in a higher power, in showing the willingness to present their relationship with God on their own terms, these bands exemplify one of the best traits of Christianity, which is its total plasticity and it’s ability to adapt to changing situations. Part of this is the simplicity of its core message, which is to accept Christ and to love one another. Once you’ve got that down, the rest is mostly window dressing (don’t tell the Pope. Or Jerry Falwell). This makes Christianity portable, malleable and adaptable, which is why there are over nearly 21,000 denominations of Christianity, according to the World Christian Encyclopedia.

Implicitly this suggests that Christianity (and Christians) also have problems with authority: If a Christian feels you’re getting in the way of his or her relationship with Christ with your rules, you’ll be told to go hang. This is particularly the case here in the United States, what with that whole freedom of religion thing we’ve got going in our Constitution, but it’s been going pretty much as long as Christianity could officially have been said to become a religion. Anytime Christianity gets too far boxed in, someone takes it out of the box and starts over. In other words, Christianity evolves, although I know some Christians (but tellingly, not nearly all), who would wince at that description.

So what you’re seeing these new Christian bands do is part of the great Christian tradition of adaptability — and a new generation of Christians saying “I’ll experience Christ my way, not yours, thank you very much.” Many evangelical Christians may fret that these bands are losing their way by breaking off from the current Christian mainstream thinking, but that’s an interesting perspective coming from any evangelical Christian, whose current state of Christian understanding is itself informed by numerous doctrinal and social schisms. I expect these kids will be fine. I also expect the kids they reach with their music will also have a new appreciation for the message of Christ, namely that it doesn’t have to be painfully dweeby. Christ can rock.

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