Sunday, November 30, 2014

The After House by Michael Phillip Cash - His Best Novel Yet!
"Stern, all! Stern for your lives!" the
captain shouted, knowing Moses was
crying out the same command on the
longboats. He watched the giant's tail twist
in the water,

the resulting waves causing the boats to
be knocked around like toys. Eli considered
the whale's head, bobbing in the water.
It was huge, more than half the size of the
whole torso, and would yield mounds of
spermaceti, the most profitable part of
the whale for its use in candles. What
a prize to end the trip...He could give
Sarah what she craved--attention. He
smiled with satisfaction. Perhaps now
her tone with him would not be sharp--
as edged with disappointment. Her
complaints dominated all the letters
from home...

Eli was there even before John Jones came and expanded the whaling operations... They needed and used all parts of the whales' bodies to keep them alive and well.  But Eli, even after he was married, loved the adventure of whaling. He had missed the first child's being born and had stayed home, doing short hauls for awhile, but then he scheduled a longer trip...

And by the time he had come home again, after losing his entire ship and crew except a young boy and himself, who he'd tied to The After House, his family were gone--dead from cholera that had come from those who'd travel to Cold Spring for the burgeoning work that had also brought filth and disease...

Eli had lived in his home since then, new 
occupants coming and going, with the last having stayed companionably with Eli for many years...until he was older and had begun to talk about his ghost... They had put him in a home for the aged at that time...

Now Eli's home had new occupants--a young woman with a girl child--and she could see him! But Eli maintained that he was captain of his ship and, really, had forgotten much about his life, it had been so long. But the women reminded him of somebody, if he could only remember...

The After House
By Michael Phillip Cash

Actually, Eli was not the only spirit living in the house, but the other two were really there for Eli. One was an angel there to earn her wings and the other her guide... Seems even with ghosts, they still have free will to stay on earth as they wish...LOL... They had been patiently waiting for Eli to remember and then want to join his family...

It was now 2014 and, as mentioned, Eli had forgotten much of his former life until the two females showed up in his house...

Remy was the apple of his parents' eyes and when she divorced her husband Scott, they immediately offered their home. But Remy needed to be alone and try to move ahead as a single parent. Scott had already married the woman he'd been seeing and had children. He had visiting rights with his daughter with Remy, Olivia, but it soon seemed like Olivia was not happy while she was there...

Remy had started teaching yoga and soon had developed a growing clientele and was happy with her new home... except for a mural that wasn't exactly to her liking, but was a condition of rental that it be retained...

She loved the small parlor, with its wide, planked floors and permanent smell of woodsmoke. An interesting mural covered an entire wall--a seascape with a whaler who was known to have shipped out of the local harbor. Not exactly her taste, but it was a condition of her rental that she not remove it. She wouldn't dream of it, especially because of Olivia's fascination with the bearded sea captain bleakly watching his ragtag crew manning a whaleboat.
Captain Eli, as he was called, stood on the top deck as sailors chased a great sperm whale, their longboat being pulled through the foamy waves. He gazed intently, his face giving the impression of unhappiness, while the crew seemed oblivious to it all. It did take some getting usede to, but it was a piece of Americana, and Remy respected that...

Actually, the former occupant who was a painter had worked with his ghost until the mural reflected what had happened on the day the Captain had lost his ship and crew. One tiny occurrence throughout the book was that various people would see the Captain sometimes, smiling or angry.... So perhaps the painting was haunted as well...

And Captain Eli was known to allow his feelings to show. A gift to Remy and Olivia had set him off as not being appropriate for a Captain's home and he grew so angry that he tore up the house! It was only Olivia that knew who had done it, and she had scolded him! LOL  But that wasn't the last time that Remy saw somebody at the house and then somebody had tried to push her car off the road! The police had been contacted, but there was little evidence...

Remy's mother was already looking for a new man for Remy, but interestingly, even though she was upset with her mother and sure she was not ready to start dating again, she was quite taken with Hugh, who happened to be the town mayor...and, soon, someone who Remy knew was "the one..."

Soon Hugh, Remy's parents who brought her a dog, and even Eli was working hard to protect Remy from being further hurt.  And, oh, by the way, Hugh has a ghost at his home too! And, maybe you'll guess who it was... for he was so happy to see Eli again...

Protective ghosts and angels while a real-live criminal tries to do harm to the new occupant of the Captain's home... At first, I was reminded of the Ghost and Mrs. Muir but Cash has taken us way beyond that beautiful story and presented a spirit-filled ghost mystery that not only has romance, but has two couples! Remy and Hugh... and Eli as he remembers...

Lovely story. A fairly simple mystery that just adds a bit more depth to a sad tale of being unable to forgive yourself, even after death... And a chance for two soulmates who find each other, even without angelic help! Cool premise and follow through... Highly recommended.


Award winning and best-selling author Michael Phillip Cash has eight novels to date. Stillwell won Honorable Mention for The Book of the Year Foreword Review 2014. Brood X was The Book of the Year for Readers Views and Rebecca's Reads. Cash loves writing about Long Island, its rich history and ghostly inhabitants. He currently lives on the North Shore with his wife and two children.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Vote for Benjamin Franklin Foster for the Next President! Let's Start right now and find our Champion for Change!

One of the basic premises of the Lady Justice novels is that life doesn't end with retirement.
Walt Williams, the hero of the Lady Justice novels, decided at age 65 that he wanted to be a cop!
Author Robert Thornhill, after a thirty-two year career in real estate, decided at age 65 that he wanted to write a book.
In three years, he has written twenty-one!
Life doesn't have to end with the arrival of the first social security check.

It could just be the beginning!

And then work to get a new, fighting, Lady Justice selected!

Lady Justice and the Candidate
A Walt Williams Mystery/Comedy Novel

By Robert Thornhill

 “Walt,” Mark continued , “I’m sure you’re aware that this is an election year.” 
Duh! How could you not know? At least fifteen minutes of every TV hour were filled with campaign propaganda and since the beginning of the year, the newspaper had been reporting primary results ad nauseum. “So what does that have to do with me?” I asked. “Looks like the slate is set. The president is a shoo-in and the Republican guy seems to have wiped out his remaining challengers.”
 “Then I guess you haven’t heard of Benjamin Franklin Foster.”
 I shook my head, “Should I?”
 “If you haven’t, you soon will. It seems that many Americans aren’t exactly thrilled with either the socialist Democrat or the snooty, rich Republican.” 
I could certainly understand that. I could never figure why, out of a population of over 300 million people, we can never come up with two truly qualified candidates to run for the highest office in the free world. “So who is he?” I asked. 
“He’s an independent, not affiliated with any political party, and he’s causing quite a stir. “His message is ‘reform’ --- everything from the U.S. Tax Code to the abolition of the Electoral College. “The good news is that his campaign is winning the support of voters. The bad news is that he’s making a lot of enemies.”
 “Like who?” I asked.
 “Take your pick,” he replied. “It’s in the best interests of both political parties to maintain the status quo. No one wants to admit it, but our government is built like a house of cards . The balance of power is precarious at best and if any one agency or department is affected, the whole thing could come tumbling down. “The alliances that exist have taken years to form, and they reach from the local precincts to the halls of Congress and even to the White House itself. “The policies that Ben Foster is promoting would disrupt all of that and no one on either side wants to lose their position and influence. “There are powerful people out there who want to see the man dead.”
 I understood what he was saying. A year earlier, I had been involved in an undercover operation involving the collusion between a giant pharmaceutical company and corrupt politicians. An assassin had been sent to kill a holistic physician that was poised to disrupt the 'status quo.' Our investigation uncovered a tangled web that included a local law firm, the Department of Corrections, the Food and Drug Administration and a U.S. Senator. “I see your problem,” I said, “but again, what does all this have to do with me?” 
He handed me a photo. “Meet Benjamin Franklin Foster.” I took the photo and it was like I was looking in a mirror. If my mother had sired identical twins, this guy could have been my brother. I didn’t know what to say. I had an idea where this might be going, but the concept was just so outrageous, I quickly dismissed it.
 “Here’s the situation,” Mark said. “Once an individual becomes a viable candidate, he is assigned a Secret Service detail. “We have enough creditable intel to know that the man’s life is in danger and it’s our job to protect him. “We need you to help.” 
There it was --- I was being offered the job of sacrificial lamb. 
Mark could see the wheels turning. “I know how this must sound ---.”
 “Do you really?” I said, cutting him off. “This Foster guy is important enough that you’re willing to set up a private citizen for his enemies to bump off --- your own flesh and blood, for chrissakes!” I didn’t mean to say that, but it just came out. “Then what happens when I’m blown away? Will you have another stooge waiting in the wings?”
 “Walt , you’ll have the same protection that we give to the President of the United States.”
 “Which president?” I asked sarcastically, “Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Kennedy?”

I had expected to be whisked aboard a private jet,
 but when the limo pulled up at the curb of
 the KCI airport, I noticed that we were at
 the Southwest Airlines gate.
 “What, no private jet?” Paul Ford smiled ,
 “Sorry, Marvin. Since Ben won’t accept
 any money from the big corporations or
 Super PACs, we operate on a tight budget.
I’m afraid it’s commercial --- coach!
”Swell, I thought. With my luck, I’ll be seated
by a lady with a screaming kid.
After checking in, we made our way to the
 boarding gate and the line stretched out
 for a hundred feet. While we stood there
 waiting to be frisked and x-rayed by the TSA,
a guy came up to me and sang quietly
 in my ear, “You babe. I’ve got you babe,”
 and wandered away grinning. Mark saw
 the exchange, “What was that all about?”
“Nothing that involves national security
I assure you. That fellow and I just
 shared a sixties moment.” He shook his head
 and walked away.
Somehow I'd missed this great series and now wish I could stop and read all the stories, but time does not allow that for me... But, readers, you just may want to check out all that are now available! You will see that Walt Williams, after becoming a cop in a special group of older citizens, often is called upon to go undercover. This time he appears as two different characters--one a lookalike for a candidate for president, who amazingly looks just like Walt! And the other as a member of his campaign entourage who happens to look like a former U.S. Representative.  You may recognize him...
“You are --- just not in public. We can’t have two Ben Foster’s running around the airport, now can we?” 
That did make sense. “So what do you have in mind?” He tossed a bag on the bed. “Nothing elaborate --- just a wig and a moustache so you won’t look like Ben’s double --- something easy to get you in and out of.” I took the bag into the bathroom and after showering, I pasted the black moustache on my upper lip and slipped on the wig. I looked like Sonny Bono. 
Mark had been patiently waiting for me in the living room, and when I emerged in my new do, he smiled, “Perfect!” He handed me a packet. “Here is your new identity for the next four months. You’ll find everything you need in there, driver’s license, passport, even a debit card, but don’t get too excited, it has a $ 500 limit.” 
I examined the contents of the packet. “ Marvin Fitzwater? Really? With all of the cool names available, that’s the best you could come up with?”
 “It’s a name that nobody will notice --- I mean, who could possibly care about Marvin Fitzwater? By the way, if anyone asks, you’re part of Ben’s publicity team. That could mean most anything.” He looked at his watch, “The limo leaves in fifteen minutes. Better hustle.” 
As I was packing my suitcase, I marveled at the expediency of our government. In less than a week, Walter Williams had ceased to exist and had been reincarnated as Marvin Fitzwater. I began to wonder if the real Walt would ever return.

“I believe that slowly but surely, we have
 strayed from the path that once made
 our country the envy of every other
 nation. “I believe that the basic freedoms
 on which our republic was founded are being
 eroded away. “I no longer trust that our
 government is acting in the best interests of its
 citizens, and worst of all, I don’t believe that
 the other candidates running for office are 
committed to anything but
 maintaining the status quo.
 “Will Durant said, ‘A great civilization is not 
conquered from without until it has destroyed
 itself from within.’ “I think that is happening
 before our very eyes and unless someone
 sounds the alarm, our country will continue
 down this destructive path. “Can we win thi
s election? Only time will tell, but win or lose
, the American people will have the 
knowledge to make informed decisions for the
 future and vote for the candidates that
 will right the course of this great ship.”

Walt and his wife met Benjamin Franklin Foster and immediately was attracted to what he was saying. After thinking about it, both decided to do this...what that meant was that Walt Williams was going to have to die...

The fantastic think about his death was that he was actually on the job and, in dying, ensured that nobody else was hurt on the bust... It was fantastic because it almost succeeded in actually getting Walt killed!

So after watching his own funeral along with his lookalike candidate, Ben, Walt was immediately on the campaign trail...directly into a path on which he could get killed! You see, once Ben had given his speech, it was Walt that came out to meet and greet all of his new fans--and enemies...

The intriguing part for me was that everything that Benjamin Franklin Foster covered on his campaign trail was exactly something that I and most average citizens would want! That's why I thought that if we could turn this fiction book into a real campaign, that it would be the best possible outcome... Soooo, how about it? Vote for the next president using his pen name Walt Williams, Ben Franklin, Ben Foster, Sonny Bono...or, even...Robert Thornhill! After all, he's the real speech writer that has given us exactly what we want!

I might even vote this time for a very viable candidate!

Seriously, this is meant to be humorous, but there were many serious issues and facts that were enclosed in this short book. We already have been doing worse because no other candidate has ever told us that "status quo" was not going to be! 

I would have preferred a different ending, but the important part--the changes that are needed to get the United States back to being the great country it once was, are all right there... Find a man like Ben and let's support our champion for change!

A must-read recommendation on this one...And if it sounds like it's saying what needs to be said, let the author know! We support Thornhill for President! Loved it!


Robert Thornhill, author of Lady Justice Takes a C.R.A.P.: City Retiree Action Patrol, Lady Justice and the Lost Tapes, Lady Justice Gets Leid, Lady Justice and the Avenging Angels, Lady Justice and the Sting, Lady Justice and Dr. Death, Lady Justice and the Vigilante, Lady Justice and the Watchers, Lady Justice and the Candidate, Lady Justice and the Book Club Murders, Lady Justice and the Cruise Ship Murders, Lady Justice and the Class Reunion, Lady Justice and the Assassin, Lady Justice and the Lottery, Lady Justice and the Vet and Lady Justice and the Organ Traders.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanks to Writers, Readers of Book Readers Heaven...and One Writer in Particular...May You Think of Him Today Too!

Thanks to all of you who have visited Book Readers Heaven this year... Both writers and readers have made my life complete and emotionally full...through books and sharing... Thanks to Charles Anderson, Lee Harmon and others who have been willing to stand up to my sometimes deep questions on their books and respond honestly and openly... There have been so many who have shared their issues and goals through their wonderful books. But, I think this book was probably the one most deeply a strange, but, for me, quite reasonable response since I had experienced job burnout, humiliation and anger during my last years of employment...

When I read this man's story, I wrote my review.  If you haven't read it, please click over and do so...

Since I haven't been able to get over my anger for how I was treated by officials at the place where I worked, I reacted on behalf of this writer. Why wasn't there anger in his book?!

He wrote back to me after he read my review...

Hi Glenda,

Wow, Wow, Wow, Your review left me speechless with tears running down my cheeks. You brought back memories that vacated my brain years ago.  To answer your question of where is the hate, I have to say the “no response” it is a learned response.  I observed my father’s face each time Mr. Sampson brought him moonshine.   Dad “Smiled” and vacated the premise.  Any show of emotions would have cost him his life. When approached by Mr. Lust, he expected me to smile and respond, “How can I please you today.   Any other response could have cost me my life.   This was early in my pre-teen and teenage years before I became a Catholic. 

The only one I could fight back was other young blacks who bullied me.  I could with  them express my anger and frustration with immunity.  This was a daily practice until Sister Bird intervened.  When I dug, the three-foot ditch around the football field, it was the first time I felt punished for expressing my anger.  Sister Wisdom put the dressing on the cake when she told me that if I ever lost my two front teeth, I would never play the trumpet again.  Then my Catholic faith taught me that the act of holding on to anger, hurts and frustration was a self-inflicted wound.  It would destroy me from within.  My fight with Fred in the ninth grade was my last physical fight until I encountered Herodias in 1964. 

I became so angry with her that I ran to catch her.  I thank God that she was able to get into her apartment before I caught her.  I was so angry that I temporary lost my sanity.  Had I caught her, you would not be reading this blog.  She would be wearing a halo or fanning red-hot flames and I would probably still be in Fort Leavenworth or dead.  Remember, she was eight month pregnant. Had I caught her, she and her baby would have been seriously hurt or dead.  I was so angry that I had lost touch with reality and had to learn from eight strange women who observed the incident to tell me what occurred.   Remember, I am a school-trained infantryman trained to take the enemy out.  By the time, I had an encounter with Bathsheba; my faith had matured to the point that I put the incident in the hand of God.  Satan’s influence was so strong that is subverted justice. 

Again, at a tender age, I promised mom that I would never hurt a woman.  My sense of righteousness became my Achilles hill.  I am still angry at many things in life but I try to emulate Mother Theresa practice to turn my anger into “something beautiful for God”. 

Daily I pray St. Ignatius Loyola’s’ prayer:  “Lord Jesus Christ, take all my freedom, my understanding, and my will.  All that I have and cherish you have given me. I surrender it all to be guided by your will.  Your love and your grace are wealth enough for me.  Give me these Lord Jesus, and I ask for nothing more.  Amen.”

I believe that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.  I hope my book will begin a national conversation about race and self-determination and independence.  My life is proof that adversity can be overcome and you can achieve any dream you dare to dream.  

Recently, I got a new email from James and asked if I could share:

On Friday, 10/24/14 Jolande entered the Harrison Terrace Nursing home located at 1924 Wellesley Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46219. Her doctor told me that her memory loss is regressive and she will never recover. It has deteriorated too far. She requires a memory unit with lever 2 treatment and protection. Harrison Terrace has a fine staff to keep her comfortable and nutritionally balanced. She has gained ten pounds since she enter Options Health Facility on 10/11/14 and her skin tone has improved. Keep us in your prayer. If you are in the area, you can visit at any time.

This represents a permanent change for my life. I wrote an ending for my book that brings closure to the"Black Dad-White Dad" Chapters 13, “I Met an Angle" and 14, “Marriage Made In Heaven",. I will be revising my book and the attachment will be inserted to become the closing paragraphs for the last chapter.

I visit Jolande daily, talk, and sing to her. This is like waking up from a bad dream but I know that I am not dreaming. I never dreamed that our marriage so perfect in my eyes, would end like this but I am sure that God has another purpose of which I am not yet privileged to know. I need to be patient and wait.

James Womack
Author "Black Dad-White Dad"

James, you have opened your heart to those who've read your book...Now we open our hearts to you and Jolande... My Mom died peacefully in her sleep, but she always feared that something would happen and she would be a burden to me since she'd been living with me. We never know how to face what comes in and to our lives. More importantly there is always the hidden question of Why... We never know the answer... But I know this Jolande and you are:

Know that you have allowed us to walk in your we can share your heart as the love of your life faces the unknown... 

I thank you for sharing your burden with me and allowing me to share with others. My Readers, stop just a minute this Thanksgiving and whisper and send your thoughts to Jolande and James and know that we've walked in their shoes and into their hearts this day...

May we all say thanks to those around us and those far away - Thanks to James from me for allowing me to bear his anger and then showing me to let it gooooo...

May your Thanksgiving and upcoming holidays be filled with their love one another, as we are able... to walk...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Renaissance of Aspirin by Glenn Parris - First Medical Thriller Featuring Fibromyalgia! Finally!

"You know what Fibro is? It's the Devil's favorite torture. Hurts like hell, but doesn't leave a trace of evidence. Not a mark..."
--Dr. Jack Wheaton

March 12, 2010
Boston, Massachusetts
FaM DaS Study Phase II subject #328: account of protocol deviation

They made an unlikely pair that first day in the waiting room--a plump, middle-aged southern divorcee and a skinny, sixty-year-old African American hotel worker from Roxbury, Massachusetts. They huddled over a Sudoku booklet like two schoolgirls: subjects 328 and 329, respectively. Going over the details of the process and recounting their late autumn introduction into the clinical research project, they crafted their plan.
The induction chaos had settled down to an organized crowd of mostly women with something in common to talk about: pain and misery. That's when Helen and Annie had found one another and clicked right off the bat. Their attention had refocused on a distinguished figure passing them in the aisle between chairs. One of the principal investigating physicians had made her way to the front of the room. The attractive woman looked serious and bore the smooth contoured face of one who didn't laugh enough...
Dr. Thomas was young, younger than any of the other PIs, but her voice carried the same self-assured confidence. She asserted  a commanding presence. "Those candidates assigned odd numbers to my left, those with even-numbered cards to my right...
When the randomization process was over, Helen and Annie found themselves headed toward different rooms and down different paths. Helen was in the active arm while Annie was in the control arm. Neither they nor the study investigators knew who got what, as all participants were blinded to placebo versus active drug. That had been three months ago. But this time, before they split, the twosome sat side by, conspiring to beat the system.
"Now you can't tell anyone that you'd already known how the real drug would work when you get it, okay, Annie?" Helen Holcolm looked furtively from side to side as she whispered to the woman seated beside her...

Annie waved back, hopped into her solid American car, and made for the parkway to Roxbury. She merged onto the I-90 and felt a funny little flush followed by a shiver...The sensation of an army of ants crawling on her scalp began building, and the image of the I-90 melted into a swirl of colors as she drove. That was the last thing Annie saw. The traffic reporters described  the accident as one of the most horrific in years...

The Renaissance of Aspirin
By Glenn Parris

The important part for me was that once I had read the statement about Fibromalgia that started the book, I learned two things: the pain my sister has gone through for so many years is far beyond my earlier comprehension, and, there is yet no cure for Fibromalgia. Dr. Parris is the first author that has used fibro as part of a novel. A shout-out to him for doing so! May it bring about interest to medical researchers in the field so that this silent torture of so many women and men, which leaves no trace of evidence, may someday end...

Dr. Jack Wheaton, a second-year medicine resident, came into the story by virtue of his position while Dr. Thomas, as a brilliant, young research investigator was part of a drug trial study being conducted... 

The most important issue is that she has realized and created a safe, inexpensive agent as opposed to the drug now formally being tested after years of research. Now, unfortunately, we all know where this is going to go, right?

Fortunately, one official got involved and relocated Anita Thomas, complete with a new background, and she becomes part of Wheaton's team. But he's soon concerned since her expertise seems beyond what it should be for her position...

And then Helen Holcomb showed up there as a patient! Seeing Dr. Thomas, she immediately called out excitedly, explaining where and how she had met her... Once Jack got over the shock, they grew closer and worked as a team... But then, Anita learned of Annie's death...and then Helen soon dies thereafter...

Dr. Thomas had come under watch because she had become involved with a small group of students doing research. All of them innocent, but eager to complete the project they were doing and Dr. Thomas had agreed to help...

Thanks to those watching, the team members had begun to die ways that looked like accidents, of course...

Readers soon know who and why this is happening, but that doesn't detract from the suspense, especially as something new keeps coming up.

Hamilton Medical Center dealt with the problem [of overcrowding] the way most hospitals in that setting did: it allowed fellows and senior residents to moonlight for an hourly fee as long as they weren't on ward duty that months. This arrangement augmented the complement of four medical teams composed of two interns and a senior resident, two of which were on short call and two on long call.
This particular night the ER resident had burned through the two teams on call, the house esident who was to take the overflow in such situations, the three moonlighters, and even the three attending physicians on call. The cycle came back around to Jack's team for an eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth admission.
Triskaidekaphobia--the irrational fear of the number thirteen. Jack never believed in it before, always thought it was silly. But July 23 changed all of that.
Helen Holcomb showed up in the ER at 2:00 am, the thirteenth admission. The admitting resident assigned her to blue team directly without first assessing her. She was seizing when she rolled into the main hall by emergency medical services.
"Sam, come on. Give us a break, will you? We've already taken twelve hits. Now this train wreck as number thirteen? Are you serious? Where's the workup? Where's the prep and assessment? Scan her, tap her, stabilize her, contact the family, hell, hold her over till morning for God's sake," Jack pleaded...
Jack decided to do it himself and assign it to Al when the sun came up. Jac talked one of the EMTs, Karen Gleason, into helping him start an IV.
Mrs. Holcomb's right arm was thrashing around. She was conscious but not responding to verbal cues. Jack selected her left arm to start the the IV...

And one of the things was that while Jack and Anita had been called to work on Helen Holcomb when she was brought back to the hospital as an emergency patient, was that Jack had been infected with her blood as a technician had been trying to help and stabbed him instead of the patient, with the needle full of the patient's blood!  After that, he had demanded that Anita tell him what had been given to the trial members of that research program she'd been involved in! Whew!

While Anita shared with Jack, I found it ironic that Jack estimated there were probably a few hundred thousand individuals with rheumatoid arthritis and was quickly corrected to two million... Then proceeding on with the medical costs, she pointed out there are four or five times as many fibromyalgia patients alone as rheumatoid arthritis, not to mention those treated for chronic fatigue and other closely related diseases... In other words,  major drugs needed by millions on a continuous basis!

The tension increases as Jack Wheaton and Anita Thomas try to respond to the deaths that have already happened and to Jack's wound filled with infected blood of some sort... But there's also a little fun and romance coming up, so that by the end we have a quite satisfactory conclusion... Especially with the Afterword, where Dr. Parris claims, at least in his opinion, that the pharmaceutical industry is working to improve the world's health and together with the medical community using the best people and other resources to eliminate even more in the future. It might not be soon enough for my dear sister, Dee, but her daughter, who also has been diagnosed with it--I pray that relief is in the near future!

At the same time, Parris assures readers that we'll see more of the same characters in the future! Great, because I really did enjoy them, especially Khandi Barr... who protects Jack from being discovered by criminals in a very intriguing manner! LOL... Enjoy!


As a board certified rheumatologist, Glenn Parris has practiced medicine in the northeast Atlanta suburbs for over 20 years. He has been writing for nearly as long. Originally from New York City, Parris migrated south to escape the cold and snow, but fell in love with the southern charms of Georgia and Carla, his wife of 22 years. He now writes cross-genre in medical mystery, science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction. The Renaissance of Aspirin is his debut novel.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Frankie Y. Bailey Presents The Red Queen Dies! Loved It!

Take one mystery writer working on a police procedural story. Add lots of fairy tale characters, music and plays. Set it 5 years in the future...

And you've got a fascinating kickoff to what I believe will be a must-read series...

I think this novel might have more clues and twists than I've noticed before, or maybe just because once a variety of potential pieces of information was from fairy tales and the history of Albany, readers are never quite sure what will lead to solving the crime... The merge of the original stories of fairy tales, not those being recreated on TV, was fun and, for me, added a dimension to the investigation that was unique and timeless...

The Red Queen Dies

By Frankie Y. Bailey

McCabe pulled herself to the top of the fence and paused to look down into the alley. She jumped and landed on the other side, one foot slipping in dog shit. The man she was chasing darted a glance behind him and kept running.
In a half squat, McCabe drew her weapon and fired. Her bola wrapped around the man's legs. He sprawled forward, entangled in the cords, crashing into moldering cardboard boxes and other garbage.
McCabe ran toward him. He twisted onto his side, trying to sit up and free himself.
"Get these ropes off me, bitch!"
"Stay down," she said, training the weapon, now set to stun, on the perp's scrawny torso. "Roll over on your belly."
He looked up at her face, then at the gun. Either he was convinced she would use it or deterred by the minicam that was attached to the weapon and was recording their encounter. He sagged back to the ground and rolled over.
She stepped to the side, about to order him to raise his arm behind his back so that she could slip on the first handcuff.
"You got him!" Mike Baxter said, running up. He was sweating, cheeks flushed, eyes bright with excitement. "That was great."
"Cuff him," McCabe said, trying not to let Baxter see that she was breathing hard.
She was thirty-four to Baxter's twenty-nine, and, yes, she had outrun him. But she should be in better shape than this. Today's air-quality reading was no excuse...

Set just five years into the future, there were still a number of significant changes in this police procedure... for instance, the gun firing a bolo! What a great idea! And, if something else is needed, then a stunner is used...and, even more importantly, a minicam is recording it all. Just these three changes will have gone far in improving activities on both the part of the criminals and police--don't you think? Kudos to the author for such ideas which, if you think about it, could be implemented fairly easily...

And for creating a gutsy female cop that is both willing to take risks, but detail-oriented in finding what is needed to solve cases...

McCabe has been assigned to murders, so closely resembling each other, that they fear it is a serial killer's work. But when the third dies, an older woman, a former actress, the MO is similar but not the victims. While an FBI agent had been assigned to profile the individual, McCabe was quick to argue and win points on her own perceptions... Which leads me to my selection of a former cop on Person of Interest, one of my favorite shows! I was sooooo sorry to see Taraji Henson leave the show...just as it was getting interesting...LOL

But if you know what kind of cop Taraji was, you'll have a beginning picture of McCabe...

The first two victims were young, and, initially, had no connection to each other that they could find. And when the actress is killed, that's when the case really took off, albeit much more complicated! 
McCabe looked at the camera-eye view of the crime scene. "This vic looks a lot older than the other two. Maybe this isn't our guy's work."
Sullivan said, "That's not what I meant. Look at her face." He panned in, giving them a close-up of the dead woman's face. "Recognize her?"
McCabe leaned forward "She looks like...that can't be who I think it is."
"Unless she has a clone," Sullivan said. "I think we have a match."
Behind them, Dole said."Wanna share it with me? Who do you think she is?"
"She looks a whole lot like Vivian Jessup," McCabe said.
"In the now-deceased flesh," Sullivan said.
"Vivian who?" Dole asked.
"Jessup. She's an actress." McCabe said, "She won a Tony last year. I think it was her second or third."
"See the pendant around her neck?" Sullivan zoomed in.
Dole said, "What is that? A rabbit wearing a jacket? Standing on its hind legs?"
"The White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland," McCabe said. "That was Jessup's first role as a child actress."
"She played a rabbit" Dole said.
McCabe smiled. "No, sir, sorry. She played Alice. In a novie musical. Then later, as an adult, she played the Red Queen, one of the other characters on Broadway.
"That's what they call her," Sullivan said. "The Red Queen. Not just because of that role but because of the red hair. That hair's one of her trademarks."
"It could be her." McCabe said. "She was here in July. She was interviewed about a play that she's writing, set here in Albany. She was working with one of the theatre profs at UAlbany on some kind of lab for students..."

Jessup was somewhat of a fanatic fan for Alice in Wonderland and one of the things she'd been involved with was trying to purchase an extremely rare book that she had once owned... 

But while that was something they had to followup on, Jessup had been in Albany because she was hoping to complete a play about John Wilkes Booth on stage while Abraham Lincoln was there as well... 

And then there was the location of where Jessup was found:
Sullivan rapped the screen. "The road down to this ramp was put in last spring. Compliments to Ted Thornton. He wanted a convenient boat ramp on the Albany side of the bridge. He paid, and the city approved...
McCabe nodded. "Okay. So you're the killer and you're driving around with a body in your car and you see a side road--"
"No problem about the dog park being nearby," Sullivan said. "Nobody llikely to be down there walking their dog at night. No hikers following the 'yellow brick road' through the woods and over the old bridge. And probably no cops hanging around the facilities."
"The yellow brick road," McCabe said, her head coming up.
"The bricks...When they were building the old turnpike road, the bricks they used had a yellow hue--"
"I know about that. When I was a kid, a teacher told us that albany once had its own yellow brick road and that a portion of it was still visible...If the victim is Vivian Jessup=="
"Wrong movie. She was in Alice."
"I know that. But both Alice and The Wizard of Oz were stories about little girls who..."

The potential connection to another fairy tale was natural to think of...but so was the idea of "money" which is often the cause of murder... And Ted Thornton was throwing around money in the area where Jessup was left... Thornton quickly became a "person of interest" but proved to be quite willing to help in any way, so he quickly became involved as the questions, and information, continued to pile up...

Two other clues were that flowers were left at the first two sites and all of the women were first given a shot of phenol...

Soames said, "Me personally, I've got this thing about obsessions. When a vic has one, I always wonder if it had something to do with getting him or her dead."
McCabe glanced up. "Me, too. But, in this case, we've got two other victims who have nothing to do with Alice in Wonderland or the theatre...
Baxter had his mouth open when she turned to him. "Damn," he said.
"What?" Soames said.
"We didn't look for that," McCabe said. "With the first two victis, we didn't look for whether they had performed in a middle school pageant or..."

The scope of the investigation was becoming more tedious and time consuming and soon the pressure was on... In the meantime, one particular blogger was almost completely involved with criticizing the police and McCabe in particular. And her background was sure to open up soon...

McCabe was living and breathing this case and placing a load of guilt on herself as well.  So when she turned to "Harlem Nocturne," I thought maybe she was going to pull a "Mike Hammer" thinking hat on...LOL Serious, I was totally into this new character and can't wait to meet her in future novels...

McCabe's father was a retired newsman and started to get involved when the research got back into earlier decades and soon even seeing what was happening in Albany at a given time period was a possible link to this case...

I wonder now as I write this review just how many readers truly appreciate the research involved in pulling potential story lines together. I was impressed, even if the author has the professional credential to support this, very literary murder mystery...

This was a close but not quite sure ending for me. I was about 80% sure but it was more on intuition rather than a true and factual decision.  Guess that's why I love to read 'em but, with a good writer, rarely solve them with complete confidence.  I loved this one, so do check it out!
"Who Me? I'm not in the
story, but, you know curious
cats...and, of course, this
Cheshire Cat is one,
so I'm just here to learn
about this new book!

Hardback provided for review

Frankie Y. Bailey is an associate professor in the School of Criminal Justice, University of Albany/SUNY. She is the author of mysteries as well as nonfiction titles that explore the intersections of crime, history, and popular culture. A Macavity Award winner who has been nominated for Edgar, Anthony, and Agatha Awards, Ms. Bailey is active in several writers' organizations and has served as vice president of Mystery Writers of America and as president of Sisters in Crime.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Discussion with Lee Harmon, Author, The River of Life... Come and Share our Thoughts... Added to Personal Favorites!

Welcome to Lee Harmon, Author of multiple books, including The River of Life... First, let me express my thanks for giving me another chance to read your work! I'm certainly happy to learn more about your personal story especially...

First, Readers, let me give you a little background by sharing a few quotes from the Introduction in this book:
  • I am an agnostic Christian.
  • I believe in God; I just don't think we know squat about Him.
  • I am a Christian in search of God.
  • I am also a liberal Christian
Ok Lee, I looked up and refreshed my understanding of what agnostic means: 
a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God. 
If, as you say, you are agnostic... Why do you spend so much time and effort to discover more?

 That’s a rather strict definition you have there, but for the most part, it describes me! While it’s true that I do not believe we have sufficient knowledge yet either in religion or in science to understand the truth behind our creation or our God-experiences, I believe we are progressing in both areas. The world is shrinking. Religions are coming together, sharing knowledge and recognizing our commonalities and strengths. I think that when science and religion can fully appreciate one another, we will take a great step forward in understanding. Perhaps, as Einstein put it, we will someday know the mind of God. So I am not agnostic in the sense of believing God cannot be known, only that we are not there yet.

Somewhere in my memory, it seems like I've learned that God cannot be known. I've never quite accepted that.  You know, if God is Love, then we know Him... but, then, I tend to get simplistic about my emotions...

We’re probably closer in agreement than you imagine. Yes, God is Love. The day we simplify our concept of God, the day we manage to gather all his attributes  under one umbrella, that’s probably when we’ll come to know him better. John’s Gospel does this very well.

In your explanation, you lump in several different concepts that I'd think deserve more attention... "Personal God" for instance... My memory indicates that you described the indwelling of the spirit...but that it didn't last long... Bottom line, do you have God's spirit within you, as you understand it?

The short answer is yes. However, I don’t make a distinction between God and Spirit. God is Spirit (John 4:24). I also have no reason to believe I have ever experienced a personal God. There is no supernatural intelligent being speaking to me, as far as I’m aware, so its easier for me to imagine the Spirit in pantheistic terms. My thinking has often been influenced by powerful and timely waves of emotion or feeling, to the point where I call them deeply spiritual experiences, so I do believe I share common God-experiences with others whose lives are guided in the same manner. I just don’t know who or what this guide is. Let’s call this mystery the Spirit, or if you prefer, we can simply call it God.

Curiously, your description of having His Spirit within you, as defined in your book, struck home for me. Many years ago, I was involved with a business group that met to discuss the very topics we are discussing... With one added issue... They baptized in the Holy Spirit... Many spoke in tongues...

For me, my baptism came when I was alone, reading...And it was just as you described it. It was an overwhelming touch of warmth and love...during which I think I prayed for anybody and everybody and have no knowledge of how long it lasted. But it was short... I spoke in tongues and have, on occasion, revisited that experience... Like those you mentioned, though, this is not an ongoing activity... But, of course, I have not been a member of a group or church where this was part of their experience in worship...

What I've always been curious about was why and how that experience is not ongoing... My own thoughts was that, no matter what, we live in this world... And this world is just not able to sustain that devotion, unfortunately... But, no matter what, the majority of time I've felt the indwelling of the Spirit... Then, quickly have to admit, that I have also gone through times when I no longer felt His Spirit and lost myself in despair... 

It’s special, isn’t it, this Spirit? These are the experiences which convince me that we are more than matter. And yet, we can’t grab them and hold on, we can’t quite keep the emotions from slipping away. I would love someday to hear about your speaking in tongues. 

What is your opinion about why (1) there are so many, many different religions, and (2) why individuals find it so hard to accept the religion of somebody if it is not theirs?

  I like to think that there are many facets of God, and that while the different religions have focused on different facets, they share in the worship of the same God. But this may be idealistic thinking. I have no way to know if this is truly so, and I cannot even say for sure that we have a creator. So, if we ignore the more obvious answer to your question—that most people feel more comfortable in the religion of their upbringing (my own heritage is Christianity, and I’m not throwing that away!)—the more truthful answer is that we tend to construct God in our own image and after our own needs. Our Christian Bible is conducive to this diversity, since it contains so many different opinions of God. A person preferring an authoritarian God will have no trouble finding him in scripture; a person seeking a benevolent or critical or distant god will likewise find ample backing in scripture. But if we move on now to the second part of your question, I’m finding that exclusivity is declining. As I said before, the world is growing smaller, and appreciation for alternative religions is growing. The fundamentalism of the last century is raging against the night, it isn’t going to go gently, but it is yesterday’s religion and it is on the way out. We see this trend even in Islam and American Christianity.

You indicate that you have seen God...but then go on to describe how you've seen him work in other's lives. Has God worked in your life and can you give a specific example?

     Glenda, God is whatever drives us to do Godly acts. By this definition, God is working in every life. I prefer to give you a vague example in my own life, because Jesus teaches us that a greater joy is found in secret acts of compassion, but there is a young family that I helped out a while back and their happiness is evidence to me of what a little compassion can accomplish. I later discovered that my act of kindness was precisely one that Jesus had promised was necessary for the Kingdom of God to prosper. And do you know what? Jesus was spot on in his assessment of how to live life in the fullest (what John’s Gospel calls eternal life). This drives me to further compassion, and the cycle repeats. Jesus’s way, giving in to Spirit, simply works. God makes our lives better from every angle.   While I may agree in principle, I find it hard to accept that God is in those who criminally act against other humans... Just my opinion, of course...
      The Christian Trinity--Linking the three as one, God... We could maybe break out God and say He exists. We could claim there was a man called Jesus, even if we doubted He was the son of God... But how would you explain Spirit, if not as part of a merged trinity?

5      I gave a very brief example of the Trinity in my book. I tend to think of the Father in terms of our creator; the Son in terms of human incarnation (of which Jesus is the primary, but hardly the only, example); and the Spirit as that mysterious spiritual link between us, the link which drives us to compassion and kindness. “Incarnation” may be a strange word for human consciousness on a Godly plane, but it is descriptive, and we have no definitive explanation for this mystery either. But are these three really the same being, or in any way related? Is any one of them dependent upon the other two, as you suggest? I must reemphasize my agnosticism, ha!

Considering the Great "I Am" has always made me consider God as the Father... But there is still a distancing, a respect demanded from the role--at least that's how I felt since my own father was killed before I was born. Jesus then became the human manifestation of the Father's love to which I could relate and know a personal Jesus as my Savior... Then we were told that the Spirit would remain behind, would be given to us once we accepted it. And I do believe that an individual must be open to that acceptance and the gifts it provides. So I'm not agnostic in that regard because I have a personal connection... Or, like I said earlier, I've had a personal connection and know it exists. I'm never quite sure, however, how and where and when it is when I don't feel it...or turn away due to my own will... Perhaps that is what you are describing?

I love to hear about God-experiences such as those you describe! However, the explanations for the experiences are often a bit too assumptive for my taste. For example, suppose you fall to your knees and pray for forgiveness and suddenly a calm comes over you. Did a man who died 2,000 years ago and now lives in heaven hear your prayer and grant you peace? Or is something else happening? The Spirit requires much more study.

I recommend Something More. That is the book I was reading when I was baptized...if you can find a copy, that is...

You are a liberal Christian. I must admit until you spoke of it as you did in your book, I had not thought about this much, except as those who were especially vocal in their beliefs... From your reading, is there such a statistic of liberal versus conservative Christians...and what approximate percentage that each holds?

      So, liberal Christians are vocal ones? Hmmm…I would have imagined just the opposite! No, you are right...the vocal ones are normally those we would call matter what belief they have...

I     I think it’s easy to confuse the definition of “liberal” as it pertains to politics with the definition as it pertains to Christianity. A liberal Christian is one who doesn’t think of the Bible as God’s inerrant instruction book to a chosen people, but rather takes a more pluralistic approach. It is, therefore, the fundamentalists who stand on street corners preaching hellfire, for God has awarded them the Truth, capital T, to share. But anyway, on to your question: I think it’s unanswerable. Yes, I oversimplify in my book, separating liberals from conservatives as if there are two distinct camps. But liberalism, even in the realm of Christianity, is a sliding scale. Mega churches such as that of Rob Bell (author of Love Wins) are quite liberal by conservative standards, yet still conservative by liberal standards. So while I cannot give statistics, I can say that Christianity itself is slowly shifting to the left. And this is a good thing, for after all, we do profess to take Jesus as our leader … and he was one liberal dude.

7. I am one of those individuals who is confused by your "passion for the Bible" yet within your constraints. I would imagine you know the Bible better that many average Christians, why do you think this is so? Are you really like the Doubting Thomas that your "Dubious Disciple" implies?  

I   I am a “doubting Thomas,” yes. I grew up in a very exclusive Christian church, a church which is quite satisfying and helpful to some while at the same time painful and restrictive to others. Some members are very happy, others are miserable. It became clear to me, therefore, that this exclusive church does not hold all the answers, and that different people simply have different spiritual needs. So I began to examine the age-old truths—um, I mean Truths—held by my church, and I found them lacking. It turns out God doesn’t really want anyone to be miserable. But I didn’t stop there—I didn’t stop my research with the history of my own little church, but went on to study grander topics like the Bible, creation, and life after death in more academic settings. I was hooked; the Bible, especially, is an endlessly fascinating collection of opinions about God and God’s work on earth. Yet, this academic approach naturally brought an appreciation for the insights of others, others who shared diverse religious experiences and beliefs. Dare I say it a third time? The world is growing smaller. So, while Christianity remains my heritage and the Bible remains my passion, I no longer am able to consider its words to be more God-breathed than the holy books of competing religions. We are on this quest together. 

Yes, that is when my doubting started as well. We are a nation that speaks out against others who are different...but Jesus did not... Yes, there are those of other religions that also speak against Christians, but all do not... What happens, though, as we lose our faith, at least for me, we lose much more because of that doubt...

You use a reference of a tree which has two grafted branches...One is a mighty red maple built on the Bible; the other a Willow that is built on Jesus and reaches down to Earth... BTW, I thought this was an effective illustration... But, I wonder, given your earlier comment...Where would Allah and other gods be in conjunction with this tree?

  II smile as I answer this one, because you are trying to pigeonhole me! Au Contraire, I desire to learn more from you...
    This tree is not a religious construction; not really. Allah and the other gods are not on this tree because it is only a representation of those who look to Jesus as their example, and I do not tend to merge my discipleship of Jesus (which continues to grow stronger) with my religious beliefs (of which few remain). I am aware that the red maple side views Jesus in a more religious setting, so I guess by following their lead we could construct a similar tree alongside our Jesus tree for Mohammed, Buddha and others. The more religious branches of these trees would grow into red maples, reaching skyward, and the more humanitarian would grow into willows, bending earthward. Can we say, then, that in the forest are many trees, all of which contribute to the betterment of earth? Or is that too extreme--A demand for an answer?

It doesn’t hurt to dream! Look, I’m fully aware also of the harm that is done in the name of religion. It’s not all roses yet. But surely we can say that the more the leaves of these trees intermingle, the more we will understand one another and the less prejudice we will feel, so the more likely we can work together toward the Kingdom of God on earth.

     One of my earliest memories of my own thinking was that I thought that it was more important for God to be with us on earth than when we got to Heaven... It has never made sense to me that we should be put on earth and have only one goal--to look forward to an afterlife, an eternity... I gather that your feelings are somewhat like that, but, bottom line, how and why do you believe that the idea of Heaven evolved?

   How did the idea of heaven evolve? Well, in Greek, the language of the New Testament, the word for heaven
 is also the word for sky. The God of the Bible dwells in the sky; he is the sky god, in contrast to other gods. We have not totally escaped this quaint view of God, for we still picture his home as being up in the sky. We draw clouds around the pearly gates (which, by the way, were never up in the sky at all in the Bible but down on earth). Now, the thing to note about the Bible is that it is not until Paul came along that anyone hoped we could someday float around up in the sky with God. In the Old Testament, the afterlife is lived in the underworld, a dreary, shadowy place. There are a couple of exceptions, a couple of people who were taken up to the sky to live with God, but they did not die. All those who die go down to the underworld in Old Testament lore. Then, about two centuries before Christ, the idea of a resurrection began to make inroads into Hebrew thinking. 

    You asked also about why ideas of heaven evolved, and it cannot be coincidence that such ideas developed during a time of great persecution, when it simply became clear that life was unsettlingly unjust. Therefore, if God were just, the rights could only outweigh the wrongs if we survived beyond death. Jews began to imagine that they would one day be brought up from the underworld to live again on earth, a splendid new earth under God’s control, when all the wrongs would be made right. You see this view of physical resurrection continue well into New Testament times, with the book of Revelation providing our clearest example. By the time of Jesus, many (though not all) Jews expected to be resurrected to live again on earth. But as Christianity escaped the bonds of Jewry and spread into Gentile lands, the dream grew even more. We dreamed of the sky. We wanted not only to live again, but to live with God up in the sky. Paul saw Jesus resurrected in this manner (he saw Jesus in a vision as a light from heaven) and I think he pictured the coming resurrection to be in like manner, since he assumed Jesus was merely the first of the general resurrection. Now, that’s about as far as I can take you on the journey of how ideas evolved about heaven, because the first century is really as far as my scholarship goes, but hopefully I’ve explained the foundation upon which legends of heaven and hell were built.

We have traditionally used Heaven and Hell to relate to good versus bad... almost any book that we've read for many years has always been to have good win out over evil... Soooo, if we eliminate Hell in particular, are you/we saying that there is no punishment of any kind for "bad" forces on earth? You refer to Gehenna, but then quote Matthew 5:22... Whether Gehenna or hell fire is used, it does mean death... Could you do a sort of flow chart to show Gehenna then the war...and then what happened thereafter?

 First, purge your mind of the idea that reward and punishment in the afterlife exist in faraway lands. That is simply not the way Jews (yes, Jesus was a Jew!) thought about the afterlife. Punishment and reward were imagined as very earthly, and whether the dream of Isaiah of a wonderful new world was to happen in the post-resurrection era or not is almost immaterial. The Kingdom was to be in this world, living among the same nations. So if you’re talking about the afterlife Jesus imagined, let’s get the underworld and the sky world out of the picture. Now, with that cleared up, and with the promise that the Messiah would replace the injustice of the prior era with an era of God’s rule, you can imagine what went through the minds of early Christians when the war came. The “bad forces” Jesus squabbled with were punished, the prior era (the temple era) was eradicated and thus Christianity was justified, verified, surely God-approved. But the world goes on after this division between “heaven” and “hell,” life and death, survival and Gehenna. Christianity in its infancy was never really about punishment or reward, but about a new world, establishing a new type of kingdom on earth, in the aftermath of the old era purged away by fire. But haven't we failed miserably???

Can we go on record here that you do not believe in a total acceptance of the Bible as the Word of God? Of course, one of the first questions I had personally was that women were not supposed to speak in church... Now, I saw two ways to think about this... The Bible was not true...or after thousands of years we had moved so far away from what the Book said, that we would all be going to Hell since I can't think of any woman who is living and who goes to church that doesn't talk... LOL

 Yes, we can go on record! (smiles) The Bible is not the inerrant dictation of a supernatural being. It is a journal of a nation growing up and learning about God. It presents many different views and evolving ideas. But I have bad news about your speculation that women won’t be going to heaven. That would seem to be true, if the vision of John is to be believed, for this passage seems impossible otherwise: When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. –Revelation 8:1 Guess it's a good idea for me to think about the existence of Heaven then...

Why do you think that there is such a diverse difference of opinion and a seemingly inability to have retained the Bible as originally created. For instance, you mentioned and I'm aware of entire books that have been removed from the present book(s) used by religious leaders. And...pulling in a story about which you didn't talk in this book--I've

 wondered about the Tower of Babel... To me, this meant that God wanted us to be separated and speak in different languages for some purpose... But then later wanted us, through Christ, to love those that were different because of this Tower...Any thoughts?

 Are you asking why we don’t have the Bible in its original form, or are you asking why we can’t agree on what it means? Both I think, after all, if humans along the way could delete books and or interpret perhaps differently than intended, then, to me that supports that you can't believe literally...

Do be aware that, for the New Testament especially, it’s very difficult to speak of “an original,” since these books were always in a state of transition. John’s Gospel is a good example, as it shows clear signs of its construction over a period of dozens of years. It’s a little like asking which baby picture shows the original me. Worse yet, each addition or subtraction or scribal error tends to change the flavor of the writing. One well-known example of this comes from the Gospel of Luke, verse 23:44, where it describes Jesus praying in anguish, with his sweat like drops of blood falling to the ground. This verse is not in all variants, and we don’t know which is more original: the version of Luke with Jesus in agony, or the version without agony. Its addition or subtraction radically alters the picture of Jesus between Gnostic (where Jesus is non-corporeal, sent from heaven) and traditional (Jesus is of the flesh, able to feel pain). Which is the original flavor of Luke’s Gospel? We don’t know, and since Luke nowhere else in the passion narrative shows Christ in agony, we don’t know whether to classify Luke as Gnostic or orthodox. 

This is a good place to move on the second half of your question, about the Tower of Babel, since these early myths are also shrouded in mystery. We often assume the story of the Tower of Babel traces back to the ziggurats, and thus was influenced by Babylonian stories (the Jews were held captive in Babylonia for many years). But we don’t know. Unable to trace the myth’s ancestry with any certainty, we have a hard time nailing down just what it meant to its Hebrew storytellers. But I can tell you a little about what it meant in Jesus’s time, because you are 100% correct that the Jesus movement was perceived as reversing the scattering of the nations at the Tower of Babel. Acts 2:2, describing the arrival of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, is the exact opposite! Instead of scattering the nations and confusing their languages, the nations came back together and began to speak in tongues that everyone could understand! This reference to the Tower of Babel could not be missed by first-century readers familiar with the Hebrew Bible.

If we accept there is no Heaven to go to...and if we accept that God is here with us on earth right now...then can we be expected to not fear death and a possible ending of everything? It seems that the Christian faith has been built surrounding heaven (salvation and reward) and hell (fear of eternal torture. If this is not true, why in the world would we have evolved into such beliefs?

First, let me emphasize that I am not suggesting there is no heaven. I personally can see no benefit to believing in hell, but belief in heaven can be a great comfort. However, I am suggesting that those who wish to follow Jesus need to pull their eyes down from the sky and realize that Jesus didn’t come to coerce anyone into heaven or rescue anyone from hell. 

Jesus’s purpose was to establish a Kingdom of God on earth. His dream was very earthly, and our participation in the Kingdom of God today is very earth-bound.

 So why do we believe in heaven, if it isn’t emphasized strongly in the Bible? Well, we want justice, and life just isn’t fair if there is no afterlife. We also fear death, and the thought of an afterlife is comforting. It’s not hard for me to understand the enticement of heaven. It’s hell that baffles me. It’s absolutely fascinating to trace how the Greek idea of Hades infiltrated Christianity, and how it snowballed from there through the centuries. I can recommend several books on the topic for those interested in pursuing this. But why did these graphic ideas of eternal torture evolve? Perhaps the threat of eternal punishment helped the Church control its subjects through the centuries, or perhaps humanity is merely a depraved animal who likes to focus on torture, or perhaps the pain for some becomes so great that vengeful dreams are unavoidable. I can at best speculate.

Have you read The Harbinger? That author refers back to the earlier destruction in 70 C.E. and builds up to a statement that the U.S. is heading in the same direction... I had to stop reading that book for awhile but there has always been references to a second coming...and other futuristic happenings... Now let's face it, the world is getting worse and worse, can we expect the individuals, even combined together, to bring about what we all have heard the second coming would be...peace on earth...lamb and lion laying down together, etc.?

 I I haven’t actually read the book, no. But let’s dispel the myth that the world is getting worse. War casualties are decreasing, violent crime is decreasing, world hunger is decreasing, poverty is decreasing, life expectancy is rapidly increasing. Life on earth is getting better every year. So can this trend continue until we turn earth into a paradise like the garden of Eden? OK, I have my doubts that this lofty goal is fully achievable, but we can certainly press toward the dream of Jesus. We can continue to make life for others better and better, and in doing so, make our own lives more meaningful and joyful. That is the beauty of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

Ahhh, not sure about this one...Sex Trafficking is increasing, including pedophilia and other sex crimes...Drug use is making our youth unable to think clearly and make proper choices... Complete separation of church and state is mandated, which results in confusion, misunderstanding, lack of ability to find where individuals fit in the world of today... Corporate control has become much worse and even leads to governmental criminal frauds...  medical control for poor brings fear and resentment and is definitely soul-crushing, government is being led by those who espouse Christian views, leaving us asking..."what the???"

     Where we focus certainly does impact what we see, you got me there. You’ll find this same difference in opinion between Christians everywhere. I’m reminded of discussions I’ve had about Christ’s Second Coming. Premillennialists believe Christ will return before the millennial reign and postmillennialists believe Christ will come after the millennial reign. A premillennialist tends to attach little emphasis to this world and its politics. Her mood is one of expectancy and anticipation, for the day Christ returns to establish his kingdom. This world is going to get worse and worse, she imagines, until finally God steps in with a glorious return on the clouds. Then, we’ll have 1,000 years of Godly rule. Postmillennialists, on the other hand, imagine that Christ’s reign during the 1,000 years is spiritual in nature. Human participation is therefore required; Christ aids us in establishing a Christian kingdom on earth, and will not return until the 1,000 year reign is complete. While premillennialists delight in the moral decline of the world, because it means Christ’s return is imminent, postmillennialists consider it their optimistic, Christian duty to redeem the world, to aid in reformation, so as to Christianize and make the world suitable for Christ’s return. He can’t come until we set things right. So while my own understanding of the Second Coming matches neither of these views, you can guess which group I’m more comfortable with! I dream of all Christians being unified in striving toward the Kingdom, but it’s a little disheartening when so many feel there’s no point in bothering to try.

I   I was all ready after reading The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey. After that didn't occur, I more or less accepted what makes sense to me--we will never know when, if, why...

When you talk about unifying Christians, do you see that in doing so, that leads anywhere related to, say those who believe in Allah, Mother Earth, and other gods?

     Yes, I absolutely do! Remember, human compassion and love is not just the common denominator between liberal and conservative Christianity. It is at the core of all major religions. When we Christians can hold hands with Muslims and Wiccans in achieving this goal, we will know that we have finally grown up. And Jesus, if he lives up in heaven, will look down and smile.

L  Overly, optimistic thought that I wish I could accept least not totally. It seems to me that anybody who pays the least attention to the news, albeit if done for ratings...all we hear about is the criminal acts of violence of one against another... People killing people... Drugs killing people... Suicide bombers... School violence... Women and children stolen to become slaves... A government that cannot even work together but is divided, hatefully it seems, on bigotry, hatred, power, and pure stubbornness...

I  I wonder, dare I ask the question? Does my reading of fiction versus your reading of mostly religious books, give us a different perspective? Many writers are seeing the issues in the world and are writing and speaking out against them in some of the most powerful books I've read... One of them comes immediately to mind is that by Charles Anderson who spoke and wrote out about the treatment of service personnel in hospitals--that is, if they are hurt by criminals and druggies, they are not permitted to bring charges--that has brought thousands of medical personnel, who were afraid to talk, to Dr. Anderson's site and he's working on submissions for change at the governmental level... I could go on and on... ???

I’m not na├»ve, Glenda. I hear what you’re saying. There is no other word to use besides “evil” to describe much of what goes on in the world. If I didn’t see the evil, I wouldn’t feel so great a need to embrace the dream of Jesus. We Christians are called to make a difference; that is what it means to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world. That said, your theory about the differences in what we read may make sense because good fiction requires a fully-developed antagonist, while liberal Christian scholarship needn’t focus on evil. I don’t have to dwell on the dark side, making my optimism easier. So let me say to those who fight from the trenches: you are appreciated. Together, we will make a difference.

One Final question Lee... This book is written to try to move Christians toward one goal. Would you mind my asking, how has this worked within your own family, based upon what your description of your early Church was like. Do you or can you feel free to talk to others without being "knocked down" from time to time? And what do you do?

My own family's version of Christianity is very afterlife-oriented, Glenda. I would say one of the more extreme sects in this matter. While they recognize that Christians are called to perform acts of kindness, they do not see such acts as contributing to the Kingdom, but rather to serve as examples of Godliness which might lead to the opportunity to share their religious beliefs. They see themselves as "strangers and pilgrims" in this world (Hebrews 11:13), not invested in the cares of the world, and live for the day of Christ's return. So I, with my this-worldly emphasis on the teachings of Christ, am definitely a black sheep. We chat amicably about our beliefs but pretty much agree to disagree, since in our case there is little or no hope that we can ever share a common Christian goal. My book is not written for my own family, haha!

I was waiting to see if you, too, considered yourself the black sheep... Most of the time I do... I rarely have even shared how I feel, especially now since I would have to declare myself a liberal Christian...LOL Once I wrote a letter to my brother about having been baptized in the Holy Spirit... When I never had any kind of response, other than I knew he had read it, I knew to keep any further comments to myself... Sad, yes... But I think if we feel "right" in doing what we are doing, that is the best that we can do. And even if we don't feel "right" at times, if we can hold on to knowing Jesus, then everything will work out... I do not believe we can judge another's relationship with God and, while it's great to find others that feel as we do, I have not felt it was part of the plan for everybody to be missionaries in the normal sense of the word... Most of my family would say that the most important thing to be concerned about is whether they "are saved" and "ready"...  This is what is important to me...
Lee Harmon, you have brought peace to my heart... I'm so happy we had this chance to discuss both your book and the ramifications of your beliefs on others, including family. May you find His strength to continue your work...