Monday, August 25, 2014

True Colors






I have a vivid memory of sitting in one of my graduate school classes & listening to a conversation between my professor & a few of my classmates.  The topic of their conversation was remarks made by an influential student on campus, remarks my professor found to be offensive.  Though I was usually not one to sit quietly in the classroom, I didn't say a word as my professor went back & forth with my peers who were defending not only what the student had said, but his right to say it publicly.  I was a bit bewildered, for the remarks at the center of the debate had been made on Facebook, a strange part of cyberspace with which I was, at the time, completely unfamiliar.

It was the year 2005.  George W. Bush was serving his second term.  The indicted Texas politician of the day was Tom Delay.  Nick Saban had yet to win the Crimson Tide any national titles.  I had no Facebook account.  Times were simpler.

I joined Facebook soon after the incident in the classroom.  I figured if I was going to be excluded from classroom bickering unless I joined, I had no choice but to succumb to Facebook's pull because there was no greater joy in graduate school than a verbal throwdown in the classroom.  It was basically like a bunch of kids fighting on the playground, minus dirt & plus some big words & applicable theories thrown in the mix.  

I've learned a lot over the past decade on Facebook.  I've discovered a handful of people I like to think of as my Facebook soulmates (I will not be naming names).  These are individuals I know in person, & in most cases knew before Facebook existed, & without fail, everything they post, be it their thoughts on coffee, traffic, the supremacy of the SEC, religious matters, politics, etc., I find myself nodding my head in agreement.  I won't deny that at times, I clap & say Amen!, because sometimes simply clicking that 'Like' button isn't sufficient.  Of course, for every Facebook soulmate, there are ten Facebook friends you're left with no choice but to block, either because they're always a Debbie Downer, or they clog your newsfeed with pictures of cats, or they're constantly advertising how many miles they ran before the sun was up.  Nobody needs to read that.

Last week I told you I have a legitimate reason for joining the throng of Twitter users.  Without further ado (& with my apologies for the week of suspenseful waiting), I will tell you that the primary reason I've decided to make use of my Twitter account is to stalk a few literary agents.  I know it sounds sinister, but this is at their urging.

Two years ago when I finished writing my book, I sent a query letter to five literary agents.  I got five rejections, & then I went into labor with Henry & thought no more of the matter until a few months ago when a handful of you fine people read the book, offered me some feedback, & pointed out some errors I needed to correct.  In June of this year, I began researching agents again & also took a second look at the query letter I wrote two years ago & laughed at its awfulness, which I attribute to my having written it while pregnant.

While I was mulling over changes to the letter, I began Twitter stalking a handful of the agents I am considering querying.  Everything I've read about finding an agent mentions making use of social media to learn all you can about a potential agent.  A literary agent needs to be someone who not only loves what you've written & is eager to go to bat for it in an effort to convince a publisher it's fabulous & marketable, but they need to be someone with whom you have a rapport.  The two of you need to like each other, basically, in order to forge a working relationship that allows for conversations that begin with, "Okay, you must make these changes to the book you love so dearly."

Following literary agents on Twitter serves the dual purpose of learning more about the publishing industry, & learning more about the individual agents you're following.  Some agents are heavy Twitter users, while others rarely post.  Some confine their tweets to matters pertaining to their work in publishing, while others post every thought they have.  As my Twitter stalking continues, I am finding that, as is the case with Facebook, people, myself included, cannot help but show their true colors on social media.

I mentioned that I began actively stalking in June.  You recall that at the end of June, the Supreme Court issued an eagerly awaited decision regarding a corporation's right to refuse to pay for certain birth control measures for their employees who find themselves with child, but would prefer to be without child.  I think there is a proverb that states, Woe to you who spend time on social media sites the day the Supremes hand down a decision regarding birth control.  Now, don't get me wrong, I didn't have any notions in my head that these ladies I'd begun following were spending their spare time volunteering for National Right to Life, but I was still a little flummoxed by their reactions to the June 30th Hobby Lobby decision.  Let's just say they were less than thrilled.  I had to step away from the computer to refrain from replying to a few of the comments, because really, engaging in an online debate with someone to whom you may potentially pitch the book you've written is a bad idea.

I'm not going to lie, I was, & remain, a little dismayed.  I am sure that, as with any profession seemingly dominated by liberals, there do exist literary agents who were happy on June 30th (or at least not filled with rage), & who might possibly have voted for Mitt Romney.  The question I keep asking myself is, "Does it matter?"  The answer is, I don't know.  I guess if it matters to a left-leaning agent that her potential client is a woman whose first child is named after Ronald Reagan, then, yes, I guess it does matter.  If it matters to an agent that a potential client's conservative ideology will inevitably creep into anything she writes, then yes, I guess it matters somewhat.  My book does delve, ever so shallowly, into a few ideological matters.  No one has ever accused Hemingway of being conservative, but he's certainly never been labelled a feminist either.  As I wrote the book, I was fueled by memories of my undergraduate years, memories of literary critics (crazy, lefty, feminist critics) whose disdain for Ernest Hemingway was, & remains, unfathomable to me.  They can't give the man any credit at all for the things he did well - - the things he did brilliantly! - - because he never wrote a female character that meets their precious standards.  I am under the distinct impression that, were they forced to take a position, the majority of literary agents (a field dominated by women) would side with the lefty feminist critics rather than the unknown, unpublished housewife who wrote a book about people for whom Hemingway's work is an aphrodisiac.      

Additionally, I am acutely aware of my own cyber trail.  I haven't done myself any favors with my Twitter behavior.  Without thinking, as if someone else is guiding my hand, I retweet half of what Matt Drudge posts everyday.  I mark as a 'Favorite' articles that I have high hopes of returning to later to read in full, articles that simply scream, "Alert!  Conservative!  This one loves Jesus & thinks the wealthy pay too much in taxes!"  To top it all off, this summer has been a political minefield, from the Hobby Lobby decision, to the mess in Ferguson, MO, to the Perry indictment; it's like someone is setting me up, daring me to fly my freakishly conservative flag.

I'm not sure where this leaves me in my quest for publication.  There are days I feel determined, & plenty of days I don't care at all.  I like my book.  I wrote it because, as Shel Silverstein once said, "If there is a book you want to read but isn't written yet, write it."  There are certain chapters I sit & read sometimes when I'm stressed because they relax me, & also because they remind me that I wrote a book, which makes me feel a little better on days I can't seem to transfer the laundry from the washer to the dryer.  I'd rather write ten books that I love & would be proud for my kids to read & never be published than to fundamentally change something I've written in an attempt to please an agent or editor or publisher.  I know they know the market.  I know that, but at the same time, agents constantly stress the subjective nature of their work.  I guess in the same way teachers don't care to teach to a test, I don't have an interest in writing to a market (or tweeting out of character); if I write something someone thinks might appeal to the masses, well that's great, but if I don't, well that's fine too.  

I have been asked before about Christian fiction, specifically, Would your book be considered Christian fiction?  The short answer to that is, No.  Here's the thing.  Like most fiction categories, Christian fiction has specific guidelines, & trust me, my book is not Christian fiction, nor do I think I can write Christian fiction.  There is a difference in Christian fiction, & fiction written by a Christian.  What I've discovered is that my book most neatly fits in the "New Adult" fiction grouping, a category that encompasses books whose protagonists are too old to be labelled young adult, but too young to be labelled adult.  The protagonist is out of high school, but not yet fully immersed in the adult world of jobs, kids, marriage.  A great many of the books categorized as New Adult feature young women in their twenties having a lot of sex that is often described in extreme detail (think Fifty Shades of Grey), which I would think might be offensive to female literary agents who ought to know that women in their twenties can do more than have sex with domineering men.  How about a few ladies who refrain & read a book instead, or at least, if they do have sex, are shown to then grapple with the very real consequences that so often accompany the emotionless sex that is depicted in many of these novels.  But, these books sell, so everyone is willing to set their feminism aside, or, believe it or not!, attempt to argue that these novels featuring young women whose primary activity is sexual are pro-women.

Here's what I have learned (because obviously I would never bore you with this were there not a moral to the story).  It's not possible for me to fake a neutral, apolitical presence online.  Even if I were able to pull it off on Twitter, there's the glaring matter of this blog (a blog whose most popular post, by a few thousand viewings, is a defense of Phil Robertson).  There are few ventures these days that are not tinged by ideological underpinnings, particularly for those in the business of the written word, & I suppose that's how it should be.  This whole issue reminds me of the fine line I walk in the college classroom, a venue ripe for subjectivity where it is impossible at times not to tip the conservative hat I wear.  I mean when you teach public speaking, how can you not devote a significant amount of class time to watching Ronald Reagan deliver his best speeches.  And by best speeches, I mean all of them.
 
Reagan, Henry, never shy away from what you believe.  Anna & Elsa's father is wrong.  You should feel, not conceal; it's better for your health.  If you find yourself uncomfortably suppressing your true colors, be it in a relationship or with your peers or on the job, stop & evaluate the situation, & get out if that's what is needed.  That doesn't mean you have to express every thought you have the moment you have it, but it does mean you should have convictions, & they should shade every area of your life, & every decision you make.  Finally, always treat people respectfully, whether they share your ideologies or not.  Your behavior is the first weapon in your arsenal in the ideological wars in which you both will inevitably find yourselves when you leave your childhood behind & begin to decipher the lines along which the world is divided.

I feel I should close by apologizing to anyone who now has that horrible Phil Collins song, "True Colors," in their head.  I am sorry.  I'm right there with you.

AZ

Monday, August 18, 2014

Frivolity




That thud you heard over the weekend was me falling off the self-discipline wagon.

Trey had to be in New Orleans Thursday & Friday for work-ish matters, & so it was decided that Reagan & I would accompany him to eat & shop in excess.

A summation of the trip:


I almost titled this post Bloat.
  
My mom showed up early Thursday morning for the Henry-handoff, & Reagan's first trip to the Big Easy was underway.


Annnd the leg came down, the eyes closed:


We stayed at the Roosevelt, which, if you didn't know, is a Waldorf Astoria hotel.  Waldorf Astoria is French for the room has no coffee maker.



We arrived with just enough time to drop our bags in the room & wave goodbye to Trey as he headed to some sort of gathering of lawyers.  Reagan & I ate a late lunch at Domenica, an Italian restaurant.

Now is as good a time as any to tell you that where Reagan was concerned, the food situation was a tad tricky during our stay in New Orleans, putting me a tad on edge.  Few of the restaurants in which we dined have kids' menus.  Once I found something I thought she might eat, I couldn't give her any insulin for it prior to eating, which is the ideal time to deliver insulin, because I had no idea how much of it she would eat.  Also contributing to the blood sugar mayhem were my (typically accurate) carb-guessing skills, which were seriously handicapped by the unfamiliar dishes. 

Domenica's has what I thought was great pizza, but Reagan didn't like it.  It was covered in quality cheeses & real basil, so naturally, she didn't like it.  Her lunch consisted of large hunks of the pizza crust I tore off for her.  I knew she needed insulin for the bread, but hadn't a clue how much bread (in carbs) she'd actually eaten.

She thoroughly enjoyed sipping her water, & then her fancy Diet Coke, from big girl glasses (no lids & straws at Domenica's!).  






I paid the bill, & then finally allowed Reagan to browse the hotel gift shop she'd been eying the whole time she was stuffing her face with pizza crust.  The ladies working the register thought she was cute & didn't seem to mind that she touched everything.




While the pizza crust was busily spiking her blood sugar to the heavenly realms, this happened:



Knowing we'd be returning to a room sans a coffee maker, I told her I wanted to get a cup of coffee somewhere before we went upstairs to the room.  When I inquired about where a coffee drinker might find relief, I was pointed to Teddy's, a nice coffee shop in the hotel with a display case whose carb count I cannot even fathom.  


I let Reagan get one of Teddy's enormous cookies because she's a child, & we're having a carefree weekend out of town.  I repeated that last part in my head over & over.  I am usually pretty good at eyeing a cookie & guessing the carb count.  I guestimated the one she selected to be about fifty carbs.  A chocolate chip cookie at Chick-fil-A is forty-five carbs.  That's one cookie = forty-five carbs (three Oreos = twenty-five carbs, for comparison).  You understand now why I've been able to drop fifteen pounds this summer; when you see the world through carb-counting glasses, it is easier to say, "No, no I will not order myself 45 carbs a cookie along with the kids' meals, but thank you so much kind Chick-fil-A employee."

We made it back to the room & sprawled out on the bed with our treats.  I wanted to enjoy my coffee with the familiar hum of FoxNews in the background, but a strange thing happened.  Nobody tell Trey, but after a few months of living without it, I found FoxNews to be bothersome.  Yes, it could be due in part to last week being the most horribly depressing week in news I can recall, but I quickly shut off the TV, sipped my coffee in the quiet room, & watched Reagan inhale her giant cookie.


Once Trey's lawyerly duties were over for the day, we went to the Riverwalk before eating dinner.  Trey & Reagan had fun with the Frozen cutouts while I racked up at the Carter's outlet.


We ate dinner at Luke's Thursday night (it's a restaurant, not the home of a friend named Luke).  I ate shrimp & grits, & it was fantastic (as was the portion of Trey's bread pudding I ate), but I didn't take any pictures because I was fretting a bit; when I checked Reagan's number before we ate, it was just over 400.  I rarely see a number that begins with a four (or even a three); where blood sugar is concerned, no number that begins with a four is good, whether two or three digit.  I knew I'd underestimated how much insulin she needed to cover the carb-fest of pizza crust & cookie she'd had that afternoon, & I now believe the cookie was likely at least a sixty carb cookie.  I got out my trusty remote & gave her a corrective dose to cover the carb sins of the afternoon, & we enjoyed a nice dinner.  She fell nicely, if you're curious, & no additional insulin was required.    

When we got back to the room Thursday night, I realized I hadn't packed Reagan's toothbrush.  Had we needed to check her urine for ketones, I was prepared.  Had we needed to change out the infusion set on her pump, I was prepared.  Had we needed to use a back-up meter to check her blood sugar, I was prepared.  We didn't need to do any of those things on our short trip, but Reagan did need to brush her teeth, & so Trey went to the Walgreens next door & Reagan came home with two brand new Dora toothbrushes.

Friday morning, just as Trey was leaving to do something lawyer-ish, the breakfast I'd ordered Reagan & me arrived.


That shiny silver carafe is the Roosevelt's answer to rooms without coffee makers.  It cost $9, but it was worth every cent.  The coffee was wonderful, & the carafe kept it hot, enabling me to enjoy hot coffee as I ate my omelet, & enjoy more hot coffee an hour later as I relaxed before my shower.


Reagan was thrilled that someone brought her a heaping bowl of berries she could eat while still in her pajamas.  I'm not sure why this was such a novel concept for her, as this is basically how things work at home, except that I am the deliverer of berries.


Fancy milk-drinking:


The tiniest, cutest bottle of tabasco sauce I've ever seen.  If you're wondering if I dropped it in my purse & brought it home with me, the answer is, of course I did.


Friday lunch fun before exiting New Orleans: 



Our path homeward was not a direct one.  We took a detour to Gonzales, home of a large Cabela's.  Sigh.   


While it is a big place, there is nothing in Cabela's that interests me, as evidenced by the fact that I took the time to take this picture of the camo hand dryer in the ladies' room:


And a picture of these awful, pink, gun-for-a-handle coffee mugs:


Ah, signs of home.



Thursday night at the Riverwalk, Reagan scored herself a balloon that was part of the decor in one of the stores we visited.  Friday morning while playing roughly with the balloon, Reagan deflated it.  This is why, on a hot August Friday night, Trey & Reagan & I found ourselves in the Vidalia Wal-Mart searching for a balloon.  After spending time in both New Orleans & Baton Rouge, we found Reagan's greatest treasure from her short trip, a Frozen balloon, at the Vidalia Wal-Mart.  


Due to the absence of Henry & the roughly ten hours I was a passenger in the car Thursday & Friday, I had some time to do things I usually don't have a chance to do during the daytime, things like read, think, & sit.  I read The Giver for much of the drive down.  It's the book club selection for this month, & we're all meeting Tuesday to go see the movie.  Actually, we're meeting early for coffee, & then going to see the movie, which is verbatim a description of "a perfect evening" for me.  If you see Trey today or tomorrow, remind him he needs to be home & perky & ready to care for our children by 6:15 tomorrow night.  Anyway, when I wasn't reading, I was watching the world fall apart via the web browser on my phone, courtesy of the Drudge Report & my Facebook & Twitter feeds.  I wanted to stop reading the news, but I could not.  Apparently it's easier for me to quit carbs than to curb my insatiable appetite for news.  At least over-consumption of news won't end up on my thighs.    

I mentioned that I've developed a little bit of a Twitter habit lately (I am @ajzeigler if you'd like to join an elite group of five who follow me).  I opened a Twitter account years ago, but then abandoned it until about a month ago.  There is a legitimate reason I've recently become an active member of the tweeting community, & I'll explain that later.  Like life, Twitter is exactly what you make it.  You follow whomever you want, be they your personal friends, institutions, or celebrities, & their thoughts/rants/news interests populate your feed.  It is unlike Facebook in that Facebook is, at least for me, highly personal.  Facebook allows for privacy settings & friendships are mutual, unlike the stalkerish "Follow" set-up of Twitter.  Generally my Facebook feed is populated by posts from people I know - - pictures of their kids, a picture of what they ate for dinner, a rant about the guy who cut them off in traffic, etc.  Twitter, at least my Twitter feed, is a strange mix of the personal, the political, & the celebrity.  Scrolling my Twitter feed Friday, I was inundated with terrible news, along with celebrities' thoughts about the terrible news, with a few frivolous tidbits thrown in for good measure.  In five seconds, I learned that Rick Perry had been indicted, the situation in Ferguson, MO continued to deteriorate, & apparently, Jennifer Lawrence is rumored to be dating Coldplay's frontman Chris Martin, whom you might know better as the former Mrs. Gwyneth Paltrow (you don't want to know which of those three is most upsetting to me). 

I may've picked a terrible time to further indulge my news junkie tendencies.  Last week's news cycle began with the death of Robin Williams, which jumpstarted a national dialogue about depression & suicide.  No one seemed to notice that Lauren Bacall died Tuesday because everyone was too busy talking about Tony Stewart, & Ferguson, MO (where I am convinced the water has been spiked), & ISIS, & Russian aggression, & Ebola, & the vindictive Travis County prosecutor's office.

It's too much.  My mind & my heart were so heavy sitting in the passenger seat of my Highlander as Trey drove toward home Friday afternoon (& this was despite the stop we made at the Mall of Louisiana in Baton Rouge, where I conducted some field research for my quest to find the perfect new fall handbag).  The only substantive comment I have re:anything on the above list is that I think Rick Perry is handsome, perhaps even more so in the new glasses he's been sporting lately, & while I hate that he's been indicted, I very much look forward to his fight to clear his name.  Also, I think his fight to clear his name would be greatly aided by the occasional addition of a cowboy hat to his wardrobe, admittedly because in some strange way, this all reminds me of an episode of Dallas.  

I need more frivolity in my Twitter feed, if anyone has any suggestions.  I've been debating it, but I think I am going to take the plunge & follow John Stamos & several others Twitter keeps suggesting to me.  How do you know, Twitter?  How do you know that a dose of Uncle Jesse is just what I need right now?  

Whatever happened to predictability?  The milkman, the paperboy, & evening TV?  

I need a light, happy heart, for tomorrow, prior to my meeting of the minds with the book club, I return to the classroom.  I will face students who are unaware of the existence of ISIS, or Rick Perry, & likely would not be able to identify Russia on a map if their next breath depended on it.  I may, however, pick their brains for suggestions to add frivolity to my Twitter feed, for if there is one thing I've learned my students have mastered, it is the art of frivolous pursuits.    

AZ

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Win-Win




There's a lot I could chat with you about today, things about which I'd typically go on for several paragraphs.  The list includes: my watching the final hour of Jack Bauer (sadness, tears, anger), my growing frustration with my Russian solider, Alexander, with whom I've hitherto had a fantastic relationship, the new furniture I bought, my new aromatic bag of Costa Rican coffee beans, Reagan's doctor's appointment today, & finally, my budding Twitter fascination.  I am tempted to say many things about everything on this list, & I may well later.  At present, there's a maelstrom of a whole different matter raging in my head, supplanting all else (yes, supplanting Jack, & Alexander, & the coffee, & the furniture), & it is demanding my attention.

This past Saturday was VBS day at our church (that's Vacation Bible School).  Reagan missed VBS last year, her first year of eligibility, because we were in Dallas, so this was her first VBS.  She was highly skeptical of the event when I woke her up at seven thirty Saturday morning.  That's right, rather than an hour here, an hour there during the week, our church rounds up the kids at eight thirty on a Saturday morning & holds them captive for around five hours.  This one-day VBS system has its pros & the obvious con, which is EIGHT THIRTY on Saturday morning.

I had elaborate plans for Saturday.  Phase one was completed when I left Henry at home with Trey & loaded a grumpy Reagan into my car at eight twenty-seven (we were a little late to VBS).  Phase two involved leaving Reagan at the church building where my mom, a VBS volunteer, would check her number & dose the insulin.  Phase two went as planned, with one exception.  I don't know what I expected to see when I arrived at the church building Saturday morning.  I guess I expected to see a handful of groggy adults downing coffee & attempting to corral children.  What I encountered was an army of perky church members wearing matching bright blue T-shirts boasting the logo, "Jesus Is My Superhero," & a church building that had been transformed in preparation for VBS.

The perky blue-shirted army of VBS volunteers made me feel a little guilty about phase three of Saturday's plan, which involved a date with a large carafe of coffee at the IHOP up the road from the church.  I did not break my date with the carafe.



I sat, alone, in the middle of a crowded IHOP.  I sipped coffee (ha, sipped!  I drained that carafe).  I ate a vegetable omelet (it's better than it sounds, & what is also fabulous at the moment is the size of my waist).  I thought about the blue-shirted army I'd just left behind at the church building.  Many of them work full-time jobs, & yet they devoted their Saturday to VBS.  They were up with the sun (or not, really, because it was foggy & gloomy here Saturday, which makes an eight thirty start time even worse).  These people were not only at the building before nine in the morning, they were happy about it - - giddy, even! - - & they'd clearly spent a great deal of time preparing for the day based on the decorations I saw.  I watched a father of four who works many hours a week as a State Trooper lead the kids in songs, complete with appropriately ridiculous hand gestures.  I watched teenagers eagerly devote their Saturday to donning superhero costumes & entertaining the kids.  I watched a blue-shirted army of heroes in action.    






Reagan showed her daddy the cape & mask she made when we returned home:





In a contemplative mood, I read a little at IHOP.  I pulled up a few news articles on my phone about a man named Kent Brantly.  You've likely heard the name, but if not, Dr. Brantly is an American who has until recently been leading efforts to combat the deadly Ebola outbreak in Africa.  In the past week, Dr. Brantly was airlifted to the United States where he will be treated for Ebola, having unfortunately contracted the disease himself.

Dr. Brantly's story pervades my thoughts.  I think there are a few reasons for my fixation on him.  He is my age.  He has two young children.  He is from neighboring Texas.  He is a brother in Christ.  He is the most glaring example of Jesus in the flesh that I can imagine.  Knowing the danger to his own health, he chose to continue his mission work.  He saw people in need - - in need physically & spiritually - - & he cast aside the long list of concerns any of us would have about a mission field in which Ebola is a factor, & he continued to provide care to those who need it most, in a place where it is hardest to find.  He said, "Not me, them," which is the loudest, clearest way to shout to a dying world, "Not me, You, Lord, You."

Dr. Brantly is now battling for his life, & while I am a praying individual, I am honestly surprised by how often & fervently I pray that he lives.  At the same time, I repeat Paul's words in Philippians for myself, "For to me, to live is Christ, to die is gain."  I don't know that I've ever so thoroughly comprehended those words.  Obviously no one wants to see this young husband & father lose his battle with Ebola.  The world desperately needs more Dr. Kent Brantlys, but if his physical body loses the war it's waging, to die is gain.  I've no doubt one day, Kent Brantly will meet his Savior, whose selflessness he has so beautifully emulated, face to face, & that will be a great day, whether it's soon, or not for another sixty or seventy years.  To expound on Paul's words, To live is to imitate Christ in every way I possibly can; to live is to do what Christ would do, even if the answer to that question, What would Jesus do?, is treat Africans stricken with a deadly infectious disease.  To die, if that is my fate, is to gain Heaven.  When the flesh fails me, I gain Christ.  This is what's sometimes referred to as a win-win.  I say that not to minimize the magnitude of the physical struggle in which Dr. Brantly is currently engaged, but to highlight what I hope he already knows, that if, like our Lord, he is only given thirty-three years in the flesh, few can say they did so much, & impacted so many, in such a short time.  If he dies, undoubtedly it will not seem victorious; his gain will not be evident to the world.  When Christ died, Satan rejoiced.  If Dr. Brantly dies, Satan will rejoice.  However, that's not the end of the story; the hero always returns, you know.  When Christ rose, Satan was silenced, & because Christ rose, Dr. Brantly will too, & again, the villain will be silenced.

Thank you for your example, Dr. Brantly, & may God bless you as richly as you have blessed others.  You are a hero.

Jesus is, indeed, a superhero.  He is the definitive superhero, for all the others  - - the blue-shirted army of volunteers & Dr. Brantly - - can do immense good, but they need a hero, too.  They are heroes for humbly pointing others to the superhero, Jesus Christ, who defeated what no other man has or will ever conquer, sin & the subsequent death that follows.

In her novel The Tenth Circle, author Jodi Picoult states that, "Superheroes were born in the minds of people desperate to be rescued."  Our culture's fascination with superheroes speaks to our innate understanding of our own frail, human condition.  We can't fly, we can't scale tall buildings, we can't cure cancer.  Or diabetes.  Or Ebola.  For all our technological & medicinal advances, deep down, we know we are slaves to our mortality.  Ms. Picoult's statement begs the question, Rescued from what?  Ebola?  Death?  Hell?  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  A desire for a way out of this sin-sick world is not a desire born of desperation, in my opinion.  Those who seek a way out are wise; they listen intently to the voice of their Creator who calls to them in a thousand different ways.  There is only one way out, & praise be to God for people like the blue-shirted volunteers, & Dr. Brantly, who found the way, & are showing others as they await rescue.

AZ