About Me

My photo
Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019


Good friend Berthold Gambrel's newest book is now available at Amazon for only 99 cents.

Rachel Pounsett is starting a job as an assistant to a mysterious professor at Leviathan University. She's recently divorced with a teenage daughter beginning her first year at the university and trying to make ends meet.
She enters into office politics working for one professor who doesn't need her services and only speaks to her to say hello and goodbye. The other one Roderick Teuferlvelt (pronounced Toy ferl velt) is in Europe doing research and communicates by e-mail.
Slowly she learns about the previous assistant who was murdered on campus.
Berthold does an excellent portrayal of how a woman responds to the problems she faces. The reader is readily sympathetic to Rachel and her plight. Describing Roderick's house and all the contents was well done.
When she meets Roderick they gradually become romantically involved. The more she gets to know him the more mysterious he becomes and she slowly learns of his past and what happened with his last assistant. The revelation when it comes after they're married was not a surprise. There were too many obvious clues when the truth comes out.

My Superpower

From Long and Short Reviews.

Hummm, my superpower. Thinking, thinking, thinking....

I'd say it's my ability to focus. To tune out all the distractions around me and just write.
The first book I wrote was way back in the 1990's. 

I wrote this book for the Ted Turner Tomorrow awards. I only had the summer to write it and was using a 286 PC with 51/4 in floppy discs without a hard drive. BankStreet writer was the word processing program. My son was around ten and my daughter was three.
My wife would leave for work around 7:30. My father would pick up the kids around 8:00 and take them on field trips. He was a retired teacher and loved taking them to the zoo or different museums.
I had the house to myself and the computer. I would get started and then my wife would walk in the front door with the kids; having picked them up from Dad on the way home. I would turn around and ask what she forgot, thinking she just left only to find out it was after 5:30.
She'd get mad because I was supposed to have dinner ready.
I've always had the knack of when I get writing I get lost in the story and hours seem like minutes.
I hit 50,000 words, and printed out my story on a daisy wheel printer that didn't have a paper feed. The pages would slip slightly and every four pages we had to stop the printer, readjust the paper and start it again. Whoever read it must have thought the printer was drunk. I didn't win the prize.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Eat and drink

This week is the top ten things I like to eat or drink while reading.

1. Ice water -- I have to drink lots of water for my diabetes. It also lets me have a break every so often to get rid of it.

2. Hot tea. Not just any hot tea, though every now and then a good English Breakfast tea with lemon and honey is nice. In the mornings I take my pick from Twinings: Lady Grey, and Sweet and Spicy. From Bigelow I like Constant Comment, Lemon Lift, Earl Grey, Plantation Mint, then for herbal Bigelow is orange spice, peach and mint medley. I am not a coffee drinker.

3. Diet A & W root beer. If I'm being bad this is my guilty pleasure.

4. Peanuts.

5 Cashews

6. Almonds

7 Pecans

8 Mixed nuts

9 Pay Day bars, sometimes I can be really bad if my blood sugar is low.

10. Twizzlers, my wife always has a big bag of them and it's like leaving booze lying around for an alcoholic.

End of the age

Matthew 24:3
And as he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be he sign of Your coming, and the end of the age?"
This is how Rapture theology gets everything wrong. They totally misinterpret the whole chapter.
In chapter 23 Jesus weeps over Jerusalem and condemns the city and all in it. In chapter 24 He and the disciples are on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem and the disciples are naturally concerned about what he just said. They ask him three questions.  Rapture theology or RT, treats them as only one. It's a compound question, just like the ones your English teacher gave you for homework and on the tests.

First question: When will these things be?
He doesn't answer it directly. He tells of  wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes etc. He sums it up with "and that is not the end." further he says this is just the "birth pangs."
In other words Jesus says this is situation normal for humanity. RT bases it's fear of the future on these situation normal happenings. That's why they think the Rapture will happen at any moment. Groups have sold everything and gone up on mountaintops waiting for a rapture that never comes.
Second question: What will be the sign of your coming?
Major misunderstanding of the word sign here. RT thinks this is the Rapture that Christ will call His believers into the sky and they'll be spared tribulation and great tribulation.
A sign is not a person. A billboard may have a picture of a car or boat or person, but it is not the actual car or boat or person.
The sign Jesus mentions is persecution for believers, betrayal, false prophets, lawlessness, lack of empathy, "but he who endures, he shall be saved." And "The gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached to all nations, and then the end will come."
Jesus is saying when His kingdom reaches all nations then the end will come to Jerusalem and the Jewish nation. After the stoning of Stephen and subsequent persecution, this is what happened. The believers were scattered throughout all nations or at least within reach.
In verses 24-29 Jesus forewarns his believers to flee for their lives when it becomes like the days of Daniel and the abomination. There's no mention of meeting Jesus in the sky here!
The abomination mentioned here is the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple being destroyed.
There will be many false prophets, claiming to be the Christ, showing signs and wonders, the believers are not to follow them.
There were many false Christs, they were the ones who stirred up rebellion and led to the destruction.
Verses 27-28:
"For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the son of man be. Wherever  the corpse is, the vultures will gather. 
Again lets be clear, the coming of Jesus or the Son of Man is the coming of destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation. The metaphor of lightning going from east to west is the sign this destruction. 
Rome had spaced out through the empire what we would call forts. They called them castellums. Every forty or fifty miles these outposts would be manned by a cohort or six hundred men. They also acted in case of invasion or rebellion by lighting fires the message that something bad was happening. The neighboring castellums would pass on the message all the way to Rome. That is the lightning Jesus is mentioning. When the Jews rebelled against Rome in 67 Rome destroyed it three years later.

Third question: "and the end of the age?"
Finally here is where Jesus mentions His returning. The others mention the coming of His kingdom.
Verses 29-31 Here is the mention of Him coming in the sky. It's not to evacuate the believers it's to bring complete and total destruction.
He then tells the parable of the fig tree. It is here that things get messed up. Jesus refers to the damage of Jerusalem being fulfilled in this generation. Then he refers to the end of the age which is left unknown. 
"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words will not pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angles of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone."
He mentions it will be like in the days of Noah and the flood. Then He says: "So shall the coming of the Son of Man be."
In chapter 25 Jesus then tells the parable of ten virgins and the talents as further warning to be vigilant for His coming.
In verse 31 He tells of the judgement.
"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angles with Him, then he will sit on His glorious throne."
There's no mention of a physical thousand year reign or millennium. The millennium is the symbolic term to mean the time from Jesus's ascension and the beginning of his spiritual kingdom on earth, to His return to destroy the world. That is the end of the age.  
Instead of looking forward to a rapture we should be working for the kingdom of Jesus to spread His love. Not his judgement and fear. 
I digress,The word raptura is translated as being caught up. Rapture is not used in the bible. The root word of raptura or rapture is rape. It is used in this context as in time of war where the populace is caught up and enslaved. The various references to two people walking and one being taken is in reference that usually half the population of a country conquered are enslaved.

How silly is it for those waiting to be snatched against their will? How unimaginable that for those espousing RT to consider if you don't believe this way you're not a Christian.

Galatians 1: 8
But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

For all of Christian history and theology there was no mention of a rapture or all the nonsense associated with RT. Need I say more.

Monday, September 16, 2019

End times part 3

Last post I mentioned amillennialism. Which is what I've interpreted Revelation by since that time. When I wrote Human Sacrifices I have a character explain this as succinctly as possible. I'm a bit radical even for amillennialists. I place Jesus returning at Pentecost. The coming of the Holy Spirit is Jesus returned in that form. That was not the coming of Christ as mentioned in Matthew 24. I'll address that in my next post. 

Starting in 1996 I started writing Optimus: Praetorian Guard. I didn't get it published until 2006. The novel is about a Roman soldier who was a guard for the apostle Paul while he was in Rome. He is converted and joins with members of the Flavian family who are Christian. They have the only two heirs to Domitian. 
I end the book in the early part of Domitian's reign when he starts going off the deep end thinking he's a god. Optimus has been seriously injured fighting with members of the Praetorian Guard. He is to be exiled to Patmos.

The sequel so far I've titled Stephanus, the oldest son of Optimus. In this story Stephanus becomes a freedman for Flavia Domitia, Domitian's sister, who many consider to have been Christian. Her husband was executed for refusing to offer sacrifice to the emperor. She is charged with atheism tainted with Judaism. 
History records that it was a servant of Domitia's that was the first to strike a blow in the assassination of Domitian.
While Stephanus is being installed in the imperial palace, his younger brother Sextus joins the legion in Greater Germania and fights on that border and against the Scythians.
Optimus takes up residence on Patmos acting as a scribe to the apostle John while he is writing Revelation.
I have the two brothers storylines mostly done. I've bogged down on Optimus and Revelation. Worth is the Lamb, didn't have enough story telling value.

Recently I found another book that has broadened my understanding of Revelation and end times. I may have solved dilemma. 

Eberle and Trench present what was the protestant view of end times and Revelation before Rapture theology erupted in the nineteenth century. 
Two texts helped me place certain prophesies into context.

Daniel 10: 24-27. This is the prophesy of 70 weeks. The weeks are understood to represent years not literal weeks. The first seven weeks would equal 70 years. The prophesy was that the Jews would be back in the promised land by this time. They were. Add the first seven weeks to the other sixty-nine and that equals to 490 years. From the writing of Daniel to the first century AD it is pretty close.
For the first 69 weeks Rapture theology and historical belief agree. It is the last week where Rapture theology goes nuts. It is pulled out of chronological order is thrust into the future where it begins with the Rapture, then there are 31/2 years of tribulation and 31/2 years of great tribulation. During this time the Beast and AntiChrist (remember not mentioned in Revelations) will form a world wide empire of evil. Then will come Armageddon.

Eberle and Trench put the last seven weeks in the historical time period. Those seven years begin with the beginning of Jesus's ministry. He preaches for 31/2 years and is crucified. What is prophesied is that sacrifices will stop and "on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate." Ch 10:27.
When Jesus died there was a great earthquake and the veil in the temple was rent in the holy of holies. The abomination was the son of God being crucified and the sacrifices stopped as God no longer recognized them. The 31/2 years of great tribulation coincides with the coming of the Holy Spirit. The growth of the early church and ends with the stoning of Stephen.

In chapter 6 of Acts Stephen is charged with blasphemy. In Ch 7 he gives his defense which in a summation of all the history and prophesy of Jesus explaining to the Jews why and how Jesus is the son of God. In verses 54-60 he's stoned to death. It is at this event that salvation becomes available to non-Jews. That's the end of the seven years the Jews' faith was on trial.
In Ch. 8 Saul begins to persecute the church. Starting in verse 4-39 Phillip converts the Samaritans, then he converts the Ethiopian Eunuch. In Ch. 9 Saul is converted. In Ch. 10 Peter converts the Roman centurion Cornelius. The spiritual Kingdom of Jesus or His church begins at this time.

My next post on this topic will deal with Matthew chapter 24 and the coming of Christ at the end of time.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

End times part 2

My freshman year at Wayland broke the hold of premillennialism and much of fundamentalism. Take away the rapture and most of the Bible has to taken literally fades away. I also give credit to Mrs. Carter and Mrs. Jamar, my English professors who developed my ability to analyze and discover metaphor and symbolism in the stories we were reading and applying it to the Bible. Here is where I left behind (no pun intended) the childish understanding of the Bible and moved from Piaget's concrete operations to abstract thought.  
Over that summer I spent time with my brother and talked about end times. His father-in-law also our pastor gave him a book to read and he gave it to me. It was Worthy is the Lamb by Ray Summers.

This introduced me to amillennialism. The premise of the book is that for any book of the Bible, but especially Revelation it must be understood in the context of to whom and when it was written. The fancy term for this is hermeneutics. A lost subject at today's seminaries and Baptist universities.
The first half explains apocalyptic literature. Books like Daniel, Ezekiel, and others in the Bible that were written symbolically. Also was the Book of Enoch, not in the Bible.
The purpose of these books was to express and instill hope in a time of despair. Daniel and Ezekiel predicted that God's people would leave their captivity and return to the promised land.
The second part is a detailed interpretation of Revelation. He explained much of the imagery and symbolism and when placed in the context of the Christians living in the Roman Empire.
The imagery of "The Beast" and "False Prophet" he explained as Emperor worship. This is what the Christians of that day were being persecuted and died. They refused to offer sacrifice to the emperor. Christian don't have a temple and offer sacrifice. Christ was the ultimate sacrifice and it is no longer needed. To offer sacrifice to the emperor was to deny Christ and His sacrifice.
Note: There is not mention of the "Anti-Christ" in Revelation. The only passage where that is mentioned is in I John and concerns a leader of the Gnostics.
Summers explains that Revelation was intended like all other apocalypses as a way to encourage the believers to hold true to the faith, that emperor worship would end and Jesus would prevail.
The battle of Armageddon took place on the cross, when Jesus defeated death. It's not something that will happen in the future, but has already happened and that is why believers should keep the faith. The victory is already won. The thousand year reign is not intended to be taken literally, but figuratively as infinity. The Kingdom of God is eternal and Jesus is at his right hand. If you die for your belief you will be with Jesus who is with His Father.
Note: the Rapture destroys the intended purpose of John's writing. Instead of encouraging believers into holding steadfast to their faith through a time of trial, they are evacuated and sit out the tribulation. 
The ending of Revelation give the imagery of the Great White Throne Judgement, and heaven with streets of gold. Much of this imagery was written a hundred years earlier in the book of Enoch.
Here is the hope and glorious future for all believers. This is the purpose of John's vision and his writing.
Summers believe Jesus will come again. Again as mentioned in Matthew: "No one knows the time."

Friday, September 13, 2019

End Times part 1

The study of end times is called eschatology. All my life I've lived with this fixation on the rapture, tribulation, great tribulation, Armageddon, the second coming and the millennial.
Growing up in Southern Baptist Churches in Pueblo, CO, Albuquerque and Farmington, NM all the preachers except one preached this form of end times. It's called premillennialism. Most of the preachers when I was young didn't dwell on it.
My first encounter with this doom and gloom was a free pamphlet entitled 1975 in Prophecy. from a radio evangelist by the name of Herbert W. Armstrong. He had a nationwide broadcast and a college in California. All his material was free. There was a monthly magazine named The World Tomorrow, books and pamphlets.
This pamphlet laid out what is now being called Rapture Theology instead of premillennialism. Brother Herbie predicted the rapture would happen in 1975. I was reading this in 1965 at the age of twelve. According to him the world would end in ten years. It didn't scare me. It pissed me off. Why was my life going to end so soon?
The 1960's was a time of revolution. It's been said there was as much social change in that decade as the French Revolution. Civil rights, Vietnam, political assassinations, race riots, the space race, women's lib, the beat generation evolving into the hippies. Add Elvis, The Beatles and subsequent British invasion of music. Just about every preacher thought the world was coming to an end. They all started prediction the rapture was coming. None of them gave 1975 as the due date. After all Jesus said "No one knows the date and time."

By the time I reached high school I pretty well figured out that the rapture wouldn't happen in 1975. Then Brother Hal Lindsay wrote a huge blockbuster. By the time I left for college as a newly licensed minster of the gospel. I would have preached out of this book. The only problem was that he didn't come right out and say it, but the way he interpreted the Bible, the rapture would come in one generation after the founding of a new Israel. Do the math. Israel was created in 1948. A generation is forty years. 1948 + 40 = 1988. Golly Gee Brother Hal added 13 years to Brother Herbie's prediction.

Due to the success of LGPE everybody and their dog started writing rapture books. The most notable are the Left Behind series by Timothy Le Haye. He's put out novels, children's books, movies, even a board game. There's money in spreading doom and gloom.

The problem was that I grew up in what we today would call a bubble. I didn't know there was any other interpretation of Revelation and end times.

I went on to a typical Baptist college -- "forty miles from the nearest known sin." As Grady Nutt said.
Almost all of us preacher boys considered LGPE as next to the Bible in authority. In History of the New Testament (required as well as History of Old Testament), Dr. J. Iveloy Bishop was covering the trial of Jesus before Pilate. He asked a simple question when we got to the part where Jesus said, "My Kingdom is not of this world."
Dr. Bishop said, "If the kingdom of Jesus was spiritual then, why would he change it now?"
It was an epiphany. Clearly to me, He wouldn't. Rapture theology and the whole thousand years reign of Christ on earth fell apart like a house of cards. When I examined the timeline of rapture theology it became clear there was the second coming of Christ or the rapture, then the third coming at Armageddon, then after the thousand year reign, Satan would be released and he would have to come a fourth time to finally set the Great White Throne Judgement.

My dilemma was what should I believe now concerning the end times. All I knew was the premillennialism wasn't it.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

I've been fooled redux

I mentioned this in the last TTT. I went back to 2007 to resurrect this post. Of all the posts on this blog it has the most hits, but not comments. I titled it I've Been Fooled.

We bought the latest DVD package of The Princess Bride by William Goldman. Yesterday in the afternoon we watched the movie for the millionth time and daughter played some of the games in special features. The rest of the evening we listened to Christmas music on Satellite and I started reading the book that came with the DVD. It starts off with a lengthy set of introductions by Goldman explaining how he spent a long time recovering from Pneumonia as a child and his father reading the story to him and it had changed his life. How when his own son turned ten he wanted to get a copy of the book as his birthday present and there is an interesting story in tracking down a copy and how his son hadn't liked it so he read it himself and decided it needed to be abridged from the original by S. Mortgenstern. He gives a detailed account of all the problems in getting a studio to make the movie, his failed marriage and then taking his ten year old grandson to Florin City for a visit. They walk through the Mortgenstern Museum looking at the sword made for a six fingered man, a mold of Fezzik's hand twice the size of Andre the Giant's, going into the study and looking through Mortgenstern's diaries and going on and on about how these people actually lived and that the story was true. He even places Florin and Guilder as two small countries between Sweeden and Germany. I read the first hundred and fifty pages of the story, where he talks about deleting an entire chapter because it was just about the argument of Humperdink and his cabinet about marrying a commoner and him making her the Princess of a small area of the Kingdom, what it took to teach her court etiquette. There are chapters on Inigo Montoya and his father, the life of Fezzik and so on and so forth.
Now I knew a Florin was the money of Florence durring the Renaissance, and a Guilder was the Dutch currency which created Capitalism during the Reformation. But the way Goldman interspersed such personal detail in his introduction he had me believing that there actually were countries called Florin and Guilder, that there actually was a S. Mortgenstern and that Goldman had only abridged the original story.
So having pricked my curiosity I Googled Florin. No surprise most of the entries were about the currency, and a number of cities in the United States with this name, but I did come across a link to Florin City. I followed that link anc came across some critiques of the novel. LOW AND BEHOLD the introduction and abridgement were all made up! I think Goldman must be getting a perverse pleasure as people for the last thirty-five years have fallen for his hoax and he laughs his head off at the gullibility of the reading public.
Wikipedia explains the allegory hidden in the story (It's about economics). I found it fascinating and read it to my wife.
She was not impressed. "It's just a story, don't try to make so much out of it."
I argued back, "You could say the same thing about Jonah. It's a story most children can relate to and understand, but at that level it's little more than a just a story, but when you look at it as allegory with Jonah representing the Hebrew nation, Nineveh the Gentiles and how Jonah refused to deliver God's message to the Gentiles he flees and is swallowed by a big fish, with the big fish being the Babylonian Captivity. That Nineveh repenting representing Christianity and salvation being open to Gentiles. The story makes much more sense. There's no need to try and find a fish big enough to swallow a man -- that wasn't the point of the story!
wife moaned and said,(referring to Princess Bride) "It's just a story, don't make so much out of it.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Books I keep putting off

Wednesday challenge
Books I keep putting off reading.

I have a box set of the Divine Comedy by Dante. On the left hand page it's in Italian and on the right in English. I read Inferno, which helped a few years later in world literature in college. I've put Purgatorio on the back burner and never got around to it.

Same goes for the third book of the trilogy. 

Another book I bought and somehow have never gotten around to reading it. I love the two movie rendition with Charleston Heston, Michael York and Geraldine Chaplin. I've always wanted to know how close they were to the book.
Every month I get to pick two free books from Amazon. This looked interesting, but before I started reading it I came across other books and it's dropped off my radar.

Late Top Ten Tuesday

I know, it's late Wednesday, but I was out of town without my pc. Wife says it's not a vacation if I bring it along. TTT this week is top books on my reading list I'm avoiding.

I bought the book, but before I had time to read it Patrick Stewart starred in a mini series of it. It was so well done I've put off reading it.

I started it many years ago and got bogged down in all the letters. After Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein I most likely couldn't read with a straight face anymore.

One of those books I picked up at Barns and Noble's for cheap and keep putting it off.

I started reading this after picking up a package of book and DVD on 10th anniversary of the movie. Talk about a shock about what they left out of the movie. Sometime I'll get back to it.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Great historical conspiricy books

I'm a Tudorian buff. Movies and tv series like: A Man For all seasons, movie with Paul Schofield and TNT play version with Charleston Hesston. Numerous Mary Queen of Scots movies, I love the one with Glenda Jackson. Anne of the Thousand Days with Richard Burton and Genevieve Bujold.  Elizabeth R, the BBC series shown on PBS with Glenda Jackson. HBO's Henry VIII series.  The list is quite long.
I've read numerous books in the time period. The Last Plantagenets by Thomas B. Costain (last of the 4 volume set). Naked Before Mine Enemies by Charles W. Ferguson, The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George. My Enemy the Queen by Victoria Holt. Elizabeth the Great by Elizabeth Jenkins. And many others.
I did a major paper on Cardinal Wolsey in college. In my trilogy of Fletcher Family Battles, the third one is the Battle of Flodden which has Wolsey as the Kings Almoner before he become Chancellor.
I recently came across two books set in the forgotten part of Henry VIII's reign. It deals with his 5th wife Catherine Howard. The second one history records as beheaded.

The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh.
The book starts off in the present day with Perdita Rivers archeologist working one a sunken ship dating from Tudorian times. She's pulled away from the site because her long estranged grandmother dies. She and Piper, her twin sister, are named as sole heirs of Pembroke shire, her estate in Wales.
Her grandmother, Mary Fitzroy, had been a well known author on the Tudors and other parts of English history. Going through her papers and unpublished manuscripts she finds Mary came across of number of anomalies concerning Catherine Howard. Not wanting to spoil things too much, but history records that along with Catherine, Thomas Culpepper was her lover and was executed as well. His tombstone has him dying six months before the execution. Food for thought.
 She came to the conclusion that the fifth wife of Henry VIII did not die, but lived in hiding at the ancestral home of her dead cousin Anne Boleyn, namely Pembroke shire.
Thus begins the great what if? that fuels the story. What if Catherine didn't die, but escaped and history records as being executed to hide the fact. What if when she fled her mentally ill and abusive husband she was pregnant. What if she delivered twins, a boy and a girl. If this became known how would it have changed history? How would it change the present if this became knowledge?
The story has two time periods, the present where Perdita and Piper are going through historical records to prove their hypothesis while a mysterious government agency is trying to stop them at all costs.
The past that tells the story of a frightened fifteen-year-old girl thrust into a marriage by her power hungry uncle that's head of the Howard family and want to join the Howard with the Tudors.
Each time periods is an interesting story in itself, what I enjoyed is how the present day scholars conclusions as the read the documents and examine the artifacts are sometimes right and other times way off what actually happened.

    There is also the second book, with a promised third on the way.
If you accept the premise that Catherine Howard wasn't executed and was the mother of a girl and a boy. What happened to them?
In this book the head of the mysterious government agency that was trying to stop their research is replaced as he overstepped his authority. A cousin of Perdita and Piper has twin daughters. The inheritance of Pembroke shire can only be passed down to daughters. This cousin tries to kill Perdita and Piper so his daughters can inherit.
Meanwhile they dig even deeper into Pembroke archives searching for any clue that in the time period Catherine lived there and there were two infants. This leads them to another startling conclusion as to who really was Mary Queen of Scots.
Oh the intrigue in both past and present. Oh the possibilities, oh the probabilities. I can't wait for the next book.

An aside on how good these books are: I recommended these books to my mother. She lives in a senior living facility. She wanted me to pick her up and go shopping. When I arrived she said she couldn't go as she didn't get any sleep that night. And it was my fault because she couldn't stop reading the first book.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Tough Topics

Tough Topics today. Hmm

From yesterday's post:

Daughters of the West Mesa and Suzanna by Dr. Irene Blea

The anti rapture theology. A common sense approach to the second coming of Christ. Placed in historical context of the scriptures and what it meant to those it was originally written.

Fellow Wayland Baptist College alum. He and my brother's dissertations were on the philosophy of Paul Riccour. Writing this book cost him his position as professor at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary.

This is book deals with divorce, remarriage, fundamentalism, education, and politics. At amazon free with Kindle unlimited or .99

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Books outside my comfort zone

Top ten Tuesday, books I read outside my comfort zone. I found all enlightening. For others click here.

This one caught me by surprise. I liked it, but it was disturbing. It was the first book I read that mentioned a girl's reaction to learning about menstrual cycles.

This one I didn't enjoy. It took a bit to finish it and I decided that was all it wanted to read. Didn't go on to next ones.

This one caught my curiosity as it was heavily promoted. It gave me an insight into a woman's mind. I found it was mostly complaining about being a woman and how horrible it is. The idea of a zipless fuck was interesting, but when the moment arrived she turned it down.

I was teaching 7th and 8th grade Language Arts and literature. All the girls were reading this book and sniggering about it among themselves. APS had a number of parents insisting the book be removed from the libraries. Librarians automatically bought Ms. Blooms books because they were wonderful young adult stories. I naturally decided to read it to see what all the fuss was about. 
To me was a rehash of Fear of Flying. 

Irene Blea is a close friend. We met at Southwest Writer's Workshop and Writer's 2 writers. This book is based on the discovery of women's bodies buried on the West Mesa in Albuquerque. Seven women and one fetus were subsequently unearthed. No one has been charged with these crimes. She spent years meeting the families of the women. She wrote this story in honor of their mothers and the deceased. 
In Old Town Treasure House Books allows authors to have book signings. Whenever  Irene holds one it is wall to wall people. When signing this book a number of the mothers were there and it was very emotional.
This book is about a mother with a daughter she's not heard from in over a year and doesn't know how to contact her. Behind her back wall is where the women are discovered and the city starts excavating the mesa behind her house. 
The mother spends the rest of the book worrying that one of the bodies might be her daughter and then relives all the choices she made while raising her. It was difficult to read the continued angst, but the women who's daughters bones were discovered most likely understand every word of the story.

This was Irene's first novel. It's based on her aunt's life. Before this Irene wrote textbooks for women's studies.
Set in early 1900's in rural New Mexico Suzanna is a thirteen year old girl whose family sells her to a wealthy landowner to be his wife. It wasn't easy to read about a child having to marry a man old enough to be her grandfather. I rooted for her as after having as much abuse by him as she could she takes a leap of faith and leaves him not knowing what her future will hold.

Monday, September 02, 2019

Six of Crows

Over the past few weeks doing the top ten Tuesdays and Wednesday challenges a few books kept popping up as favorites. One of them was Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. It peaked my interest.
It takes a lot for me to buy an e-book, but sprung for it and even added the audio. It was a wise move. I don't like to do a play by play of book and give my impressions of it. Other reviewers are good and going into an indepth plot development. It's hard to do that without spoilers.

I started reading it, but it was before my cataract surgery and I bogged down. After the surgery I started listening to it. It went much faster. I know its a common technique in literature to break up the story line with back story, but it bugged me while reading. It was easier to listen to it. Once the back story of each character is done and the group is doing the mission impossible trying to abduct a man from an ice prison things start to make sense. Each of the six crows are intriguing and compliment each other as they face obsticle after obsticle. The ending setting up the next book came as a surprise. I enjoyed the story and plan to do the same with the sequel.
From what I can gather an 8 episode series is in the works on Netflix.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Top ten books I liked from literature class

Okay, here goes: Junior high and High school in the late 60's early 70's. Woodstock generation. I was a jock, not a hippie, but my teachers were.
  1. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien, read Lord of the Rings on my own summer after 8th grade.
  2. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis. Read the rest of the series on my own, went on to read Screwtape Letters, Surprised by Joy and others of his.
  3.  The Pit and the Pendulum, The Purloined Letter and other Edgar Allan Poe short stories.
  4.  My Shadow Ran Fast by Bill Sands. Autobiography of an abused boy who became a convict and his rehabilitation.
  5.  Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin. 
  6.  Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
  7. The Passover Plot by Hugh J. Shoenfield, this was in sociology class. The class had very lively discussions.
  8. Hiroshima by John Hersey
  9.  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  10. 1984 by George Orwell, read Brave New World and Animal Farm by Huxley on my own. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Top Ten Books I'd like in my library

  1.  Issac Asimov's histories. They were library use only and have been long discarded before the electronic age.
  2.  No Rusty Swords, Letters from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Had them at seminary and foolishly let them go.
  3. Norton Anthologies. College literature books in American and World. I kept the Modern Poetry one. It came in handy when I was wooing my wife way back in the day.
My eyesight has been so poor that I've stopped reading hard copy books. Kindle lets me set the size of the font and puts less strain on them. I've had one eye's cataract removed and will get the other one done in a few weeks. I can tell the difference already and may go back to reading regular books. The biggest problem is room for new books. I have a one side of my garage full of books and the books cases in my house are overflowing.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Empire of Avarice

I've started re-reading Tony Roberts Kastania Chronicles. I've been waiting so long for the next book in the series I'm afraid I'll have forgotten most of the story when it does come out. I've been singing this series of books praises for years, but when I started re-reading the first one I'd forgotten just how good it really is!

The Kastanian Empire is in decline. Most of the territory it once covered is lost and the five provinces it still controls are disarray. Astiros Koros, was the general of the Imperial army putting down a rebellion in Bragal province. Just as he was about to win the emperor calls back the troops and negotiates a peace. He claimed the war was costing too much money and lives.
Astiros bribes the captain of the palace guards to give him entry into the palace and assassinates the emperor and empress. He makes himself emperor.
His family joins him in Kastan at the palace. His wife Isbel, 20 year-old daughter Amne, five year-old son Argan, and infant son Istan. His oldest son, Jorquil, is in command of the Imperial Guard awaiting orders to invade another province in revolt.
Upon seizing power he discovers the imperial treasury is empty. He convenes the imperial council made up of the high priest, members of the five largest noble families, merchants guild and the imperial treasurer.
Astiros informs them that he intends to march back and finish the job in Bragal in six months. In order to do that he needs money. 
He starts by telling the high priest that all the temples will be taxed. When the high priest starts threatening Astiros with destruction from the gods, the new emperor slaps him down. He reminds the priest that after every defeat the priest blamed their lack of faith instead of their lack of numbers and supplies. That the treasury was empty because the temples take money, but never give it back. He tells the priest he is no longer welcome in Kastan and is to leave immediately.
When one of the nobles tells Astiros he can't legally do that, he turns on the man and asks him, "Who makes the law?"
Astiros then tells the nobility that their tax exempt status is at an end. They will start paying taxes or have all their possessions confiscated. Turning on the merchants he tells them their taxes will be increased. 
The imperial treasurer is then ordered to reduce the palace staff as there's no money to pay people who have no work. The staff had never been reduced from the days when the empire was powerful.

Think of the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the fall of Rome, or just about any empire. Astiros has described the major causes of their decline and fall. The church is tax exempt, but collects tithes making it rich which it spends on temples and vestments, but nothing to help the poor. The nobility are leaches soaking the masses with their monopolies, but paying no taxes. The merchants paying little in taxes saying if they are taxed they'll have to raise prices. The poor are the only one who pay taxes and when the poor are staving and have no money everyone wonders whey there's no money in the treasury. When there's not money the military is neglected, infrastructure deteriorates, crime increases and the empire is conquered.

Naturally after this meeting the high priest is vowing revenge, the nobles meet to hire a hit man from the guild of thieves and squabble among themselves which family will take over the empire.
What makes this story compelling is the number of balls being juggled at the same time. 
  • Jorquil is with the army and given the task of retaking a rebellious province. 
  • Astiros recruits and trains a new army to go back to Bragal.
  •  Amne is sent as an ambassador to the country Mazag, south of Bragal to negotiate a treaty. 
  • Isbel is to stay in the palace and run the empire while her husband is off fighting. 
  • The two children are growing up. Argan is a precocious five-year-old and Ishtan does nothing but cry when he doesn't get his way.
The added worry is that Kastania is surrounded by enemies. Nomadic tribes to the west defeated the empire ten years earlier causing the accelerated crumbling of the empire. Countries to the east that once were part of the empire now want to conquer them. The imperial navy has only four ships to protect their shores.  

While Astiros marches to Bragal he is joined by mountain tribes he's bribed with what little money he has and Bragalese loyalists. He's forced to fight an army raised by Duras, one of the noble families. He easily defeats them and marched into Bragal.

Amne travels with three diplomats and a hunter/guide to travel through Bragal incongnito. It's the first time the young woman has faced any type of hardship and she develops feeling for her guide. This enrages the diplomats as he is far beneath her and trouble ensues.

In Kastan, Isbel finds a loyal captain of the palace guard who fights off all attempts to cause riots and revolt within the capital. In the palace itself Argan is poisoned on his birthday, he survives, but it places that much more stress on Isbel as she doesn't know who to trust in her own home.

The Bragalese is where a little magic come to the story. The women of Bragal are witches. They have magical healing power. Having sex with one is like taking a drug. The man is addicted to her and enslaved by her. Usually when an army wins a battle the victors rape and enslave the women, but with a Bragal witch; she rapes the victor. Most of the men die. Astiros orders the army to kill all women and children after the battle for this reason.
With the loyal Bragal he warns his men not to have sex with a Bragal woman even if she initiates it. If they do the father will kill them.
They have a funny idea of marriage. The father will kill any man who sleeps with his daughter before marriage. The husband is enslaved by the wife. After marriage she can sleep with any married man she wants and the man can sleep with any married woman he wants. This results in a large population.
In a subsequent book Jorquil sleeps with a Bragalese servant and marries her creating havoc for the empire.

Hope this is enough to whet your appetite for the books. They are even better the second time because there is so much going on things get lost in the shuffle.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Another Wednesday Challenge

Hmmm... What do you read when you're not feeling well?

Since I started using a C-pap machine I haven't had a single cold or flu in three years. I have had some problems that put me in bed for a spell. Fell and broke my hand, fell and wrenched my back, just had cataract surgery one more to go. Two basil cell melanoma's removed.
I get my dog Sammi and she lies down next to me and sleeps. I have to bother her a few times when she starts moving her legs like she's running. Then I grab my Kindle fire and read or listen. No matter how many times I read or listen to these books I am entertained and enlightened.

If my eyes are bothering me I can't read for any length of time. I have 22 of Barry Sadler's: Casca audio books on my phone and Kindle. I listen to them in chronological order, not by published order. I've heard them so many times if I fall asleep, when I wake up I know where I am and don't have to backtrack.

 Michael Scott-Earl has a number of books in his Tamer: King of Dinosaurs series.  He's in a subset of fantasy called "harem novels." They're silly and having been married for over 40 years I know you'll never get five or ten women living together with one man and everything is hunky dory. It's escapism. Sex is mentioned, but nothing as detailed as women's romance books. In this series a guy is beemed off of earth to a distant planet by unknown aliens where dinosaurs rule. Others are periodically beemed onto the planet from other parts of the universe making for a wide variety of other life forms. Victor has the ability if he comes in contact with a dinosaur to mind meld and tame it. He then has a pet brontosaurus, or triceratops. He avoid male aliens as they usually try to kill him, and instead rescues female aliens and they begin to build a compound that is rampage proof from larger dinosaurs and hostile bands of aliens.

Alert: Right now Michael Scott-Earl has been banned by Amazon. You can get his books as audio, but cannot buy his hardcopy or e-books. He's in a legal dispute that is supposed to be resolved in a few weeks.

Tony Roberts: The Kastania Series.
Roberts has written 35 Casca books and that's what he's most known for, but starting with Empire of Avarice set in the empire of Kastania there is a series of books that becomes multi-generational. The empire is beset by hostile neighbors. One family decides to take control of the empire as the other noble families are only draining the empire's resources to enrich themselves. There are fantasy elements, but this more about fighting to preserve and empire and keeping political power.
Another series of his is about a half dark elf and human raised as an outcast with humans until her mother dies and she is forced to leave and discover her elven side. This is quest story and fantastic fantasy.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Tuesday top ten

Today's top ten is tropes. 
The tropes that bug me:
  •  In mystery or horror movies: splitting up when everyone in the audience or the reader knows that's the surest way to become the next victim.
  •  A group trapped in a cave or elevator or closet, etc. Someone has to be claustrophobic and freaks out.
  • In legal thrillers someone finds a body and stupidly picks up the knife or gun.
  • In legal thrillers someone is knocked out and found with the body. Dumb detectives automatically assume the person with a concussion did it.
  • Having the villain explain everything before he or she thinks they're killing Bond or Bourne or hero.
  •  The ticking clock. Ethan Hunt has to run a mile in four minutes to save his wife. Do they really expect the audience to think someone can run through the crowded streets of Shanghai that quickly and arrive like they just took an easy stroll? Can Anyone believe Tom Cruise can run a four minute mile?
  • The countdown: God this is really bugging. "Ten minutes and counting. Nine minutes and counting" ad nauseum.
  •  Technology before its time. Countless movies and TV shows have gunpowder waaaaaay toooooo soooooon. 
  •  The white savior. Tom Cruise telling the Samurai battle tactics. He was captured by their superior tactics at the beginning of the movie. He is the one who changes the Emperor's mind. Pure crap. Richard Harris in A Man called Horse training Native Americans to shoot arrows in volleys. Don't get me started on Avatar.
  •  An ancient artifact that can destroy the world. Lost Ark or magic wand or gold monkey. If the artifact had that much power why is it lost or hidden? Why didn't whoever had it in the first place use it? I can buy treasure, but doomsday devises unless it has a natural cause like a virus or bacteria don't grab me.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Bloggers needed

Lydia has a post today regretting the lack of response posts. She gets tons more comments than I do, but response posts from the old blogger days were different. She explains well so check out her explanation.

I used to have a blogger friend in Oklahoma. He was an assistant principle at a middle school. Every week he'd give a small blurb about his other blogger friends telling what they'd written and leave a link. It was nice to be mentioned. The only blogger friend I have left is Berthold that will provide links when he mentions a fellow blogger or writes a review of their books. He mentioned me in his last post as he responded to my post on The Fifth Element
 I had two blogger friends here in Albuquerque and there were two others in Colorado. We called ourselves the Old Curmudgeons. Once the guys in Colorado drove down here and met with Russ, Woody and me. We had a great time drinking beer and bashing Bush and Cheney. (That really says how long ago it was.)

At the time I was writing Human Sacrifices. I would post each chapter as I finished it on a different blog. I picked up a few readers that would give encouragement and offer advise. It was a back ackwards way of doing things and the beginning of the story was down the list of posts. My sister was working the night shift at a hospital in Dallas and when she had free time would read my story, she got a number of the other nurses there reading and she'd let me know what they thought. I wrote the story to strengthen my female characters and this was invaluable advise.

This was also when my sister was battling ovarian cancer. My blogger friends were invaluable in giving thoughts and prayers through this bitter and sad time.

Russ still has his blog and we're friends on fb, but since he remarried has little time for social media. Woody and I still communicate on fb. I've lost touch with all my other blogger friends and am so grateful for Berthold for opening up a new avenue for blogging with Lydia and other writers as we share ideas,  reviews and out thoughts.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Work on hold

For six years I could sit and write in an office and even get paid. Then I broke my hand, hurt my back, lost my business. While I was healing I did some editing on books already in print, but not much on my works in progress. I'm recovering right now from cataract surgery with another one to go. I've been doing a lot of reading, blogging and posting on fb. Maybe I need to get back to some writing again. Here's what I was working on:

Stephanus -- The sequel to Optimus: Praetorian Guard. I have Optimus's eldest son as a freedman in the palace with Domitian, his other son Sextus on the German frontier. Optimus is exiled to Patmos where the Apostle John is exiled.
I've done a good job with the palace intrigue setting up Stephanus to assasinate Domitian. Sextus fighting in Moesia and Dacia leading to the Praetorians turning against Domitian after he negotiates a weak treaty with Dacia.
I've bogged down with Optimus as he acting as a scribe to the aged John while he writes his Gospel, three epistles and Revelaton. In twelve years since the novel Optimus I've researched Revelation putting the apocalypse in context with the first century Christians. 
My problem is trying to make the writing of John interesting and not dry or boring. Spacing out between Rome and Germania helps some, but it's been a long process. I think I've got a reasonable explaination of Revelation for the time period, now its butt in seat time.

Matthew Fontaine Maury: My wife's maiden name is Maury. Her father has a family tree book and it is full of articles on Matthew Fontaine Maury.
MFM is known as the pathfinder of the seas. I had never heard of him, but he is the father of oceanography, meteorology and the inventor of naval mine warfare.
There have been two naval vessels named the USS Maury, both were research vessels mapping the floor of the oceans.
I found a biography and read it. His life is absolutely fascinating, but there are a number of biographies, one by his daughter. I thought I would try my hand at fictional history. Historical fiction is like Optimus. Not a real person, but he carries the story in the time and setting with historical people around him. Fictional history is where every character in the book is historical and everything in the story actually happened.

Here are a few of the facts about MFM:

  • His grandfather was the Rev. James Maury. James Maury was the tutor to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Both of whom were living with him when MFM's father was born and were witnesses. My wife's ancestor was the second son of James while MFM's was the youngest son.
  • As a midshipman in the Navy MFM was onboard the ship that took the Marquis de Lafayette back to France after his tour of America twenty years after the revolutionary war. The ship went on to be the first US warship to circumnavigate the globe.
  • He injured his leg in a stage coach accident and was unable to return to active sea duty.
  • He was assigned to take over the newly built Naval Observatory in Washington DC. (Now the residence of the Vice President.)
  • He organized all the captains logs naval and merchant aquired over the previous years. With two assistants he compiled and tracked the flow of the oceans. This revealed and he charted the Gulf Stream. Creating new charts and distributing them in 1848 to all sea captains this cut the time for sailing from the Atlantic to the Pacific by six months just in time for the gold rush in 1849.
  • He oversaw the first sounding across the Atlantic and laid the first transatlantic telegraph cable to England. The first telegraph message was addressed to him congratulating him for the accomplishment.
  • He took part in the first meeting of scientists to chart and graph weather.
  • He wrote the Naval Academy textbook on oceanography used until 1927.
  • He sided with the confederacy in the Civil War, which is why history is a little silent on him.
  • He developed the first naval torpedo as it was called at the time. They were used to mine the rivers and ports of the South keeping the Union from taking Richmond by ship. The famous saying of Admiral Farragut when taking Mobile bay was, "Damn the torpedoes full steam ahead.
  • He's buried between James Madison and James Monroe.
There are many more things that he accomplished. It's a daunting task to try and fictionalize his life.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Wednesday challenge

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge

Today's challenge is books we read in school that we didn't like.
Having taught English the number one reason students don't like a book is that they have to read it.
1. The Biological Basis for Human Freedom by Theodosius Dobzhenski  -- My sophomore English teacher made us read this to blend with our biology class. I re-read it after graduating college. It was way too difficult at that age.
2. Don Quixote by Cervantes -- Had to translate it in Spanish class and then read it for World Literature. Bombed both tests and it kept me from getting an A in WL. Grrr.
3. A Separate Peace by John Knowles -- I could suffer no more than ten pages. 
4. Silas Marner by George Elliot -- I read after college and grew to like it.
5. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens -- I was in 9th grade and was out with strep throat when the teacher showed the movie. When I got back I had to read it and take a different test. That would ruin any book.
6. Pilgrims Progress by Paul Bunyan -- My mother made me read it as punishment when I was suspended from school (8th grade) my one and only time.