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

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Great Writer: Tom Clancy

 I read many of Tom Clancy's books from Hunt for Red October on, but there's one I really liked. It's not been made into a movie, and I don't know why. My favorite of all is Without Remorse.
The time period is when Jack Ryan is a child. His father is a cop in Baltimore and is trying to track down a killer. The Killer's name is John Kelly.
John Kelly's wife is killed by a drunk driver and he's grieving. He befriends a young woman who is running for her life from drug dealers. Being ex-special forces he assures her she'll be safe. He's ambushed and beaten badly, the woman is brutally killed.
When he recovers he tracks down the gang leaders. The means and methods of gathering intel and taking out the gang from the street up is captivating. I've thought it is better than any of Liam Neeson's Taken movies or the Death Wish stuff.
John Kelly becomes the mysterious CIA operative, Mr. Clark, in the subsequent Jack Ryan stories.

My fear if Hollywood came knocking for this book is that they would take only the title and names of the characters and nothing else. Hunt For Red October was the only movie which stayed close to the book. Patriot Games followed the book loosely and the others didn't bother following them at all.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Excerpt for Stephanus

Here's part of the opening of my current novel in progress. I'm wishing for comments to give me feedback.


Three hours past Sol’s zenith the major combats were set to begin. There was a full slate of contests, but a staged execution was the first item of entertainment. Metallus wanted it to be primus, the last bout of the day.

The fight manager refused, “Six against one isn’t a contest. The Lanista’s[i] would pull their champions and the crowd would riot.”

 Metallus was doubly insulted. “I’m paying for the games," he yelled. "The crowd is here to see the son of Optimus reenact the last fight of his father.”

He borrowed heavily from the publicani[ii] at compound interest. People didn’t stick around to gamble if they were sated before the primus. He would be financially ruined if there wasn’t enough profit from the gambling by the end of the day. The fight manager walked away, “The order is set and won’t be changed.”

Metallus cursed and struck a wooden door with his lone hand in frustration before heading for the emperor’s seating area. As patron of the games Metallus was given the honor of sitting beside the emperor. With permission he stood and motioned for the proceedings to begin.

An orator went to the middle of the sand to stir up the crowd. “Welcome one and all,” he let his booming baritone voice echo through the stadium. “Today we have twenty engagements with the finest gladiators from five different schools. In the primus is pitted three seasoned fighters with at least five kills from the school of Fonteius and the same from the school of Paetus in a death match where only one will survive.”

There was a smattering of applause. Most were either finding seats, heading to the concessions or chatting with those around them.

“But first dear citizens,” the orator continued. “A reenactment of what all of Rome has been talking about for the last month.” He paused for effect. The crowd didn’t respond. “The fight between Sextus Cassius Optimus and six of Rome’s finest soldiers on the Campus Martius.”

He waited, but there was little or no response.

“Today this battle of epic proportions will be brought to you by the son of Optimus against the very same guards who so grievously wounded his father.”

The orator waited again, but the stands stayed quiet. He looked up at the Emperor’s box, shrugged, and left the sand.

Metallus anticipated the moment he could give the order to kill the son of the man he wished was there to die. He was content to at least make Optimus suffer knowing his whore’s son died for the father’s crime. He waved his hand to start the fight.

Epaphroditus didn’t show any emotion, but he also wanted the boy’s father dead. Watching the son suffer in the arena was some comfort for losing a valued slave.

He still remembered the day at the baths when he couldn’t stand a slave’s condescending smirk and twisted his leg so hard all heard the bone snap. He wasn’t an imperial secretary then and had little power. Optimus, a filthy plebian, who shouldn’t have been in the baths with his betters in the first place, gave him some money for the slave. Being afraid for his life he agreed to the sale. It was a pittance of what the slave was worth.

Epictetus, as the client of Optimus, became a respected philosopher, even opened a school and the beast made money off the sales of his books. The imperial secretary scowled at the thought. Money that by rights should be mine!

The crowd didn’t pay much attention as the boy walked onto the fresh sand. Stephan waited for his foes. A few of the women cheered seeing how handsome he was but followed by some boos and hisses. There was general murmuring and milling about. Not many wagered on executions, and if they didn’t have money on the contest it was of little interest.

The soldiers emerged with only swords and similarly clad in only kilt and boots. Stephan recognized them. They trained with father and helped him over the years. They tried to kill father and now will kill him.  

They turned to salute the emperor. In unison they said, “Te morituri salutum.[iii]” The signal was given.

 Expecting them to circle, Stephan crouched low and faced away from the sun hoping to use their shadows to warn of an attack from behind. The soldiers formed a square. Swords held high ready to strike. Confused, Stephan thought, they want me to attack. I’m not playing their game.

Standing still, the crowd started to boo and throw objects. A man with a torch started walking towards him. Not needing to feel the heat, he ran to the right side of the square. Only two would be in reach. They would strike across their bodies giving him a slight advantage. They stabbed with their swords, he quickly dodged to his right as Plautus reached for his stomach. Hacking down he severed the exposed arm below the elbow. Apollos gave a thrust but missed as Stephan ran past.

This caught the crowds’ attention. They were expecting a quick kill and it seemed the young man was going to put up a fight. With blood on the sand, those milling about found a seat. More eyes were now on the combatants.

The soldiers spread further apart in a half moon formation and rushed him. Stephan waited for them to get close knowing they’d time their thrust to launch from their left foot. As they reached the leaping spot, he took two steps back leaving the soldier’s arms exposed. Running through their line slashing to his right Stephan cleaved through an arm and pivoting around hacked at another. Circling back to the center of the ring keeping the three-remaining staring into the sun the young man panted not realizing how much energy he expended in just a few moves.

The crowd voiced its approval. Strangely it gave him a surge of strength. Raising his sword, they grew louder. Apollos and Didius, the wounded men, crawled off to the side trying to stop the flow of blood with their battle kilts.

“The six of you couldn’t kill Optimus and now you can’t even kill the son!” A loud-mouthed spectator yelled. Other cat calls and derision was meted out to the soldiers.

The remaining three came at Stephan in a triangular formation. Meeting the blows of Decius and Quintus, Hector moved stabbing towards the young man’s left side.

The blade scraped against his ribs. Stephan quickly disengaged and stepped back. He felt a blade slide across his right shoulder. It was a glancing blow and stung mightily. Blood was trickling along his side and down his arm, but no internal organs or blood vessels were cut.

The crown oohed for him. Feeling pain for the first time the young man reacted by charging Hector. The soldier moved his sword out just enough, so his blade skimmed instead of blocking. Stephan ran the man through the heart. Running past letting go of the sword, he felt both of the other blades hit. They sliced into his back and he could feel more blood flowing.

I should be dead, he thought. Fighting to keep his balance he turned around and faced the two left.

The crowd roared its approval. Again, Stephan raised his arms this time turning in a circle to grow stronger from their cheers. Many cursed their stupidity in not betting on the son of Optimus.

“Kill him already,” the loudmouth yelled again. Others joined him anxious for the real fights to begin.

Nodding in respect to his remaining executioners, Stephan bent down picking up two fallen swords. Charging between Quintus and Decius as their swords clanged, the crowd screamed with every blow. He saw an opening with Decius leaving another blade in a foe’s heart. Now it was one on one.


Metallus was sweating profusely. Why are they committing suicide? He fumed. This was to be revenge for being humiliated by the scum who married my mother and soiled our bloodline. Stephan can’t be allowed to live!

Epaphroditus was at first stunned, then grew very angry. Jove’s thunderbolt! The fools thought to toy with him and he’s carving them up. Kill him, damn you!

Domitian smiled. If the son of Optimus survives, I’ll award him the rudis. The crowd will love me for my generosity. Normally the wooden sword was only awarded after many victories in the arena, but this would be the perfect exception. He also made a note to question Fuscus concerning the ability of his soldiers to fight. A good thing these men aren’t my guards anymore.


The crowd was standing, jumping up and down in anticipation as the two men caught their breath for the final clash. Yelling over the crowd, “I am Quintus Verenus.” The crowd grew quiet. “A legionnaire for fifteen years and fought alongside Cassius Optimus outside Jerusalem.” Turning to Stephan, “You have honored your father today.”

“Get on with it,” the loudmouth yelled.

Quintus charged and they parried blows. The older and heavier man forced Stephan from the center of the ring pinning him to the wall. He rained down blow after blow forcing the lad to his knees. Quintus stepped back as the crowd quieted waiting for the end.

Both men gasped for air. No permission was needed for executions. Aiming the killing blow between the neck and shoulder; the blade would enter unimpeded to the heart causing a merciful death.

By hesitating it allowed Stephan time to drive his sword under the man’s throat with the point emerging out of the back of the skull.

The boy crawled out from under the slumped form completely covered in blood. He lifted his hands and the crowd’s roar was deafening. Shaking the blood out of his hair and wiping it from his face, Stephan picked up a sword from the sand and pointed it at Metallus and spat on the ground. The crowd gave another roar.

The emperor waited a few minutes to let the people shout themselves hoarse. Then he stood. The crowd grew silent. “Well done, Stephanus Cassius…”   

Augusta whispered in his ear, “I could use an educated servant.”

Pausing to think about this, Giving the young man a position in the palace would also please the people. Smiling his said, “I give you freedom and allow you the patronage of the empress.” He threw down the rudis and the crowd gave another deafening roar.

Later the wooden sword about a foot in length, would have his name and a record of his glorious victory carved into it. He was always to carry it  as proof of his freedom.

The secretary’s eyes narrowed to slits within the folds of skin on his face. The empress thinks she’s getting a stud to satisfy her lust, but that will be the very thing which will get them killed.

Metallus was seething with rage and humiliation. Wanting to take an axe to Stephan and chop him into pieces; he started thinking of ways for the bastard to meet his doom.

The emperor and entourage left. Many in the crowed did likewise.

The one-armed consul was now destitute yet had to remain till darkness and the contests ended. During a lull he motioned to a senator not far from his seat. The older man graciously joined him.


With every roar from the arena Optimus wept bitter tears for his eldest son. Executions don’t make much crowd noise. Optimus knew his son was dead.

Remembrance of watching both his boys grow into well-educated disciplined men made his heart ache for them. It would have been better to never fathered them than to know how much my rash action endangered one and killed the other.

A soldier entered the tent giving a sign of the cross. “Your son lives. He is free and has the patronage of the empress.”

Together they bent on knees, Optimus prayed, “Father, thank you for sparing my son. May he continue to worship You and be of great help in Your service the rest of his life.”

[i] Owners of the Gladiatorial schools.
[ii] Money lenders
[iii] We who are about to die, salute you.

Stephanus is the sequel to Optimus:Praetorian Guard

Friday, September 27, 2019

The Grande Dame of science fiction

Andre Norton created our imagination of space travel, galactic empires and so much more. Star Trek, Star Gate, Battle Star Galactica, Star Wars all of the above use elements of her writings.

Wikipedia holds her legacy as:

On February 20, 2005, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, which had earlier honored her with its Grand Master Award in 1984, announced the creation of the Andre Norton Award, to be given each year for an outstanding work of fantasy or science fiction for the young adult literature market, beginning with 2005 publications. While the Norton Award is not a Nebula Award, it is voted by SFWA members on the Nebula ballot and shares some procedures with the Nebula Awards. Nominally for a young adult book, actually the eligible class is middle grade and young adult novels. This added a category for genre fiction to be recognized and supported for young readers. Unlike Nebulas, there is a jury whose function is to expand the ballot beyond the six books with most nominations by members.
Often called the Grande Dame of Science Fiction and Fantasy by biographers such as J. M. Cornwell, and organizations such as Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America,Publishers Weekly, and Time, Andre Norton wrote novels for over 70 years. She had a profound influence on the entire genre, having over 300 published titles read by at least four generations of science fiction and fantasy readers and writers. Notable authors who cite her influence include Greg Bear, Lois McMaster Bujold, C. J. Cherryh, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Tanya Huff, Mercedes Lackey, Charles de Lint, Joan D. Vinge, David Weber, K. D. Wentworth, and Catherine Asaro. 

 When I was going to a used book exchange where I could get up to ten paperbacks for less than a dollar. I read lots of Andre Norton. The best book on Arthur and Merlin I ever read was hers. One of her books, I can't remember them all now, had three siblings recounting the back story with each taking a different time period. It was a way of using dialog to advance a story instead of narrative. It's stuck with me to this day. 
When Kirk, Spock and McCoy go back to the 1930's in City on the Edge of Forever, Harlan Ellison's idea of a time portal came from Norton.  She wrote twelve series of books in fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction and young adult fiction.
I would love for her legacy to live on today and years to come.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Review Hasuga's Garden

Berthold Gambrel wrote a review of this book and asked me to read it and give my two cents worth on it. If you want an excellent description of the plot and theme click on the link and read the one by Berthold. 

Sometime plot and theme don't reveal what is important in a story. It's how the story is told that's important not the what. Hasuga's Garden is all about the tone, tenor and manner of the telling. Here's the opening of the book:

In the shade of a dark forest where a river passes, around a compound of trodden earth there is a cluster of huts--simple, windowless hovels with reed-thatch roofs peaked and open so the smoke of fires can ascend--a village made from reeds and mud. As yet the sun has not climbed above the mountains at the valley's edge so it is half-light here, though still possible against the gloom to make out crude essentials of subsistence living scattered among the dwellings; rough wooden tools, a rail of drying fish, a pelt on a wooden frame, bowls for grinding grain. A small jetty of wood leads out into the deeper water of the river, moorings for a couple of dugout canoes that bob and rub one another gently in the current. Two more such vessels are drawn up upon the riverbank a yard or so downstream....

I hope you get the gist of what I mean and Berthold means by saying this writing is poetic. Closer to free verse than iambic pentameter, but it's not straight forward prose. It's descriptive without being pedantic. It gives a visual of the area being described by appealing to your emotions instead of intellect. Because of this it's not an easy or fast read. It's like your favorite drink or meal, best savored slowly not gulped or wolfed down.

This book reminded me of Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller. If you know the plot and theme of the Bridges it sounds rather generic in the romance novel category. When your read the book and the poetic way it's written you understand why so many people fell in love with it and read it over and over again. No movie could have captured the essence of the book no matter how closely Clint Eastwood tried.

Books and authors like this are rare and should be treasured. I am so grateful to Berthold for recommending this book to me and nudging me into reading it. Otherwise I might have added it to my list of two or three hundred books on my TBR list and might have missed it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Wednesday Challenge

This weeks challenge is authors I wish more people knew about.

My blogging buddy Berthold Gambrel. He's a work in progress, but he's growing by leaps and bounds. His latest work is proof of this.

The wonderful lady who enlightened me to these challenge posts and expanded my reach to other authors. Lydia Schoch

If you're into H.P. Lovecraft Audrey Driscoll has taken a minor character from his writing and had written a series of books on him 

If you're into erotica Javan Tenebrae has a number of anthologies right up your alley.

Tena Stettler has some good books on witches.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Fall Books

Today the topic is books that were published in the fall or are about to be published this fall.

Hot off the press and I've given a review in a previous post.

Reviewed by Berthold Gambrel and next on my to read list.

This is one I've been waiting for three years. It's the sixth book in Robert's Chronicles of Kastania, which I've posted about recently. I just re-read the first five books to get ready for this one.

Just released as you can see this is the 51st book in the Eternal Mercenary series started by Barry Sadler. Tony Roberts has now done the last 28 (I think) of them. I finish these books in about half a day, but the history is spot on.

This was a free reads book from this month, but audio is not ready, and I plan to listen to it.

Another free reads I'm waiting for the audio to be ready.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Favorite Authors: Clavell

I'm starting a weekly post of my favorite authors. I've already written about Harlan Ellison, Isaac Asimov,  and James A. Michener. Next in line is James Clavell. 
Most of the populace knows these stories as either movies or min-series. I've made a point to read the book before I watched them. That way I know how Hollywood either honored the author or mucked the story up.

1600's an Englishman is washed ashore in Japan and becomes a samurai. Loosely based on a real person. The setting is the civil war that results in the Tokugawa shogunate.
Boy was it hard to find the original cover of Shogun on Amazon! I had seen this book on newsstands for a couple of years and thought about buying it. When it was announced that a blockbuster mini-series was scheduled for the fall of 1980, I bought it at a paperback exchange for cheap and knew I only had about a month to read it. 
I went on a vacation trip to Nebraska to visit my wife's brother and family with her parents. This gave me time on the drive to read, and during down time. I was hooked on reading Clavell. 
The complexities of the social, economic and political make up of Japan are explained and all social strata are fleshed out in detail.
The mini-series did an admirable job of a very complicated story.

Other books by him I devoured:

King Rat
Setting is a Japanese POW camp during WWII. The king rat is an American hustler running a black market underneath the Japanese and stuffy British officers noses. Movie Empire of the Sun uses the same premise.
This was his first book and the shortest. It was turned into a black and white movie with George Segal. Kept very close to book.

Tai Pan
The setting is China in the 1830's and 40's. Dirk Stuan is The Tai Pan or supreme leader of a trading company. He trades opium from India for silver and then buys good from China to send back to England. After what are referred to as the Opium wars, Hong Kong becomes the trading hub for the China trade.
My favorite of all of of Clavell's books. It was made into a dreadful movie. It was a knock off using the sets and props of The Last Emperor. In the book Struan was given money to save his shipping business by Chinese merchants. He was given four half-coins and required to do whatever was asked of the person who gave him one of the half coins. They left this out of the movie. The most important plot point of all and they skipped it.

Noble House
Setting early 1960's Hong Kong. Struan's is facing a run on it's stock from a rival company. An American corporation comes in to get a slice of the market. The whole plot is complex and convoluted, dealing with cut throat business, espionage between the British and Communist China. Add hundreds of characters of all types fleshed out to make a wonderful read.
Fantastic book. Turned into a mini-series with Pierce Brosnan. Did a fair job. No way to tell all the complexities of the book. The half coins are important in this one.

Gai-Jin: Interesting read about the opening up of Japan after the U.S. opened up their trade. Struans is present here and it picks up with the descendants of Dirk Struan in tumultuous times. The weakest of all his books.

Whirlwind: An oil company getting it's drilling machinery out of Iran after the fall of the Shah. An expanded story partially based on H. Ross Perot's actual feat of getting property out in the time period. Again, Clavell brings the lives of everyday people alive while all the conflict is happening around them.

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.