Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Recently, my husband and I had the opportunity to see the film, Noah. I did not read any of the protests lodged about the absence of using the name of God, nor did I read any criticisms about the license taken by the director. I only heard about the protests and saw a priest on a television news show talk about the missed opportunity to discuss the miracles. That said, here's my take on it.
I can think of many things that Christians should criticize with such fervor, like abortion, euthanasia, the brutal taxation this administration is imposing on businesses, but movies should not fall into that category unless they are demonizing our beloved faith. Noah, the film, does not fall into that category. In fact, it doesn't even come close.
I found the film to be very dark, but it is a very dark and difficult subject. The Flood narrative is a very short part of Genesis and does not give much detail. I also understand the point the director and writer, Darren Aronofsky, was making. He was trying to say that justice should always be tempered with mercy, and he chose to show that point with Noah struggling to follow God's judgement against a people gone mad with evil and violence, and interpreting that decree to include his own family. That is patently false given that Noah's sons were grown and had families according to the narrative in the scriptures and Jewish Talmudic sources. Canaan is mentioned as the son of Ham in Genesis, and is cursed by Noah for seeing him naked, so that part was not true to scripture. Tubal-Cain is also not the person, according to Aggadic sources, to be the person who made it onto the ark. King Og was the person who hung onto a ledge of the boat and Noah fed him through a hole in the ark. This story is not in the scripture, however it is in the Aggadah, the Oral stories of Judaism.
Aronofsky's purpose was not to be scripturally accurate, and that shows, but to illustrate the miraculous event within his own allegorical message. There were a number of things he did that I really felt were quite good. The first was the odd depiction of the Nephalim. Spiritually speaking, I felt that it was intriguing, although a very strange way of showing an angel (which many Jewish scholars don't agree with that interpretation) who had been tied to the earth. The other was the stark landscape where plants were not growing because the people had razed the earth for their pleasure. If you see this entire film as an allegory, rather than an interpretation of scripture, it is quite interesting and worthy of seeing.
I viewed the film through Jewish eyes, and not through the myopia of naming God so it would make a Christian feel better. A Jew at that time, which this was before Abraham, would use the term Creator, or The Name, rather than say, God. Remember that Moses wrote the first five books having learned directly from God who called himself, I Am. Using the word Creator was completely appropriate and accurate.
The part I actually liked very much was the use of sparks as a mystical leftover of creation given to the people of The Name. It harkens back to the idea that we are the gatherers of the sparks of creation in order to remake the earth through practicing our faith. The skin from the serpent was also interesting, as a reminder of our sin, and the precursor to the Law that would be wrapped around the forearm and the head connecting us once again to the Garden of Eden. I felt he incorporated the concept of sacred articles beautifully.
I do think it is worth viewing. If you haven't seen it, please do. Even with the inaccuracies and Noah's struggle to let the babies live, which I thought was a little off. Remember, IT'S A MOVIE not scripture. It's also not church. I find it wonderful that someone tried to make a film about something in the scripture. I want to encourage that, not discourage the reading of scripture by excessive and stupid quibbling. Please, take it for what it is. Besides, Russell Crowe is quite wonderful.
Thursday, March 13, 2014
The past few months I've been busy editing my second novel. My editor has pushed me to make hard choices about the content of the story, and some of the more incendiary parts of the novel. In the end, I feel she was right about keeping true to the characters within the story, and to let the events speak for themselves. We'll put the story to bed once the manuscript is proofread, with a few minor tweaks for continuity in the story, and we'll begin the process of choosing a cover for the book. I've been through this process before, but not with a traditional publisher, so this recent process is much more intense.
The story is about an FBI agent investigating the bombings of abortion clinics in the Pacific northwest. I used true events as the backdrop for my novel, taking the headlines and details of the Gosnell case, and reports from Human Life groups all over the country. The explosions, of course, are fictional, but each description of the victims of abortion are all true. The story is a thriller/mystery, filled with interesting and deeply drawn characters fighting to let the truth be known.
I wrote in anger, and on the advice of my editor, had to tone down the political aspects of the events and characters to make it more saleable, but I did not compromise in the description of what happens inside those clinics where women have died, and the children from millions of women have been butchered.
The book will be released sometime in late spring or early summer. It will be for sale in the usual outlets on-line. The time has come for everyone to know the truth about abortion, and the toll it takes on men and women. There is nothing private about an abortion. The consequences of killing a child touches all of us.
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Luke 10 begins with the commissioning of the seventy-two; the Lord sending his disciples out in pairs to spread the good news that, "The kingdom of God is at hand for you." (Luke 10: 9) However, the command to cure the sick and eat what is laid before them doesn't end there. It contains a warning to those who refuse to listen to the Gospel. The seventy-two were told to say, "The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you." (Luke 10:11) According to this scripture, even the dust from which they trod on will testify against their rejection of the Gospel.
It is remarkable that what follows is the return of the seventy-two in exhilaration that demons fled before them, that they had the power to speak the truth and the spiritual world responded. (Luke 10:17) The next verses are critical to understanding the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Discipleship is a privilege extended by God and all praise and honor should be given to God, not in our efforts or position or authority given to us. The mere fact that our names are written in the Book of Life is reward enough. Jesus reminds the seventy-two that He saw Satan fall who was the greatest of all the angels. He fell like lightening (Luke 10:18), which is a warning to all of us who let pride in who we are and our positions to overwhelm us, and not to give the credit where the true credit is due, to God, our Father, our Lord, our Creator.
It is certainly no surprise that Jesus speaks about the greatest commandment next and He uses the Good Samaritan and the story of Martha and Mary as a real life example of this important lesson. The point is that the Parable of the Good Samaritan is not about helping the man in need, it is about God caring for us. Oftentimes, the Parable is taken from this context to apply the idea that we must care for a man in need. Although, we can certainly draw that conclusion, and it is a good one, it still fails to help us understand the context of the Parable. The story lies within the entire chapter of Luke, and should not be taken out of context from the surrounding verses. Jesus is trying to tell us that everything, our hearts, our minds, our lives belong to God. The world is a dangerous place and we cannot rely upon our neighbor or even those within our circle to care for us in a time of need. Everyone who we believed might be the one to give us salvation, didn't. God is the One who will care for us when priests, and other good citizens pass us by.
The Samaritan is the man who is separate, filled with the riches of kindness and hospitality, but seemingly to be from the wrong side of the tracks. He is God. And God's care does not end when we are taken to a place to heal and be fed. It continues because God will see to it that we are cared for, and He will check up on us. The Samaritan however, does not stay when others can do what is needed much better. He sees to the needs of the man by sharing his purse, by paying the price for the life of the injured man. God's purse is life and salvation. We are expected to go forth into the world after we are healed, and not to seek further riches from the Samaritan's purse, but to be thankful that our names are written in the Book of Life. We have life, it is only given once, and we are to live it, to spread the Gospel and give all thanks to God.
The story of Martha and Mary is another example of letting the world's chores take a back seat to listening to God when He speaks. We are not to fuss about worldly problems when we should be hanging on every word from the mouth of God. (Luke 10:38-42) We should be God focused and not worldly needs focused. We would all do well to remember the next time someone talks about the needs, the needs of the world, we should be more concerned about the needs of the soul.
Friday, December 20, 2013
I will be on vacation for the next several weeks, and I wanted to leave this as food for thought while we are opening our presents under our respective Christmas Trees and celebrating the coming year. There is always someone who seems to get lost in all the shopping, baking, and decorating: Jesus. There are some among us who have too much already. We don't need presents or that cookie or that ornament, but we do need Jesus in our life.
This year my husband and I decided to not give each other a present, for the simple reason we have everything we need or want. We are not wealthy, and neither are we flush with capital, but we are rich in the knowledge that we reside in the bosom of Christ. However, we have taken joy in giving to others, to our grown children, and grandchildren. We decided to celebrate the coming of Our Savior in a more ceremonial way by attending Mass, listening to real Christmas music--no Rocking Around the Christmas Tree--and reading scripture. We want to focus only on Christ, the greatest gift, the only reason for the season.
By shedding the turmoil of shopping, traffic, baking, and all the rest of it, we have coalesced the season into its proper perspective: Focusing on the Christ child. Yes, we've fallen prey to the gift giving mania by sending presents off to our children, but they each needed what we gave, because they are struggling financially, just as we did at their age. And, at night, I count my blessings instead of sheep.
Because of the financial crisis, many have decided to be more frugal and practical this Christmas. Black Friday wasn't that black. We are all feeling the pinch. Rather than give your children dozens of toys they will break and leave forgotten in a corner, why not give a toy to a child who doesn't have any, and take a picture to put up on the wall of your child. That memory will last much longer than another toy. Bring a Christmas dinner to someone who can't afford one, and act as a waiter for the family. Do anything rather than consume. I know it's challenging, but try to remember that Christ came to die for us. Is it too much to ask that we die to consumerism? If you must buy a present, forfeit the big stores, and wander into the small businesses in your town. Buy one special gift for that person you love, rather than dozens from the big stores. Purchase something they would never get for themselves. You're helping your neighbor, and thinking outside the box.
Make Christmas special by subduing the frenetic sounds and overblown commercialism. Take time to be quiet and read the verses about the nativity in the Gospels, and pray. Pray with fervor, pray with tears, pray with love, and thank Him for coming. I wish you all a Blessed Christmas and a New Year filled with the promise of goodness and faith.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
I would like you to welcome my Guest Blogger. He wishes to remain anonymous as there has been a threat on his life. This man grew up under the Jim Crow Laws in the South. I felt it was important that people know about Black Liberation Theology and why it divides Whites from Blacks today. Race mongers abound, and this theology is destroying the black community with its lies.
Black Liberation Theology
As a disclaimer, I want to establish that I am neither a historian nor a minister. My observations are that of a young boy educated by Southern Baptist ministers who preached the doctrine of liberation theology during my teenage years, the first eight years of my formal education. During this time, I did not learn to read, write or count. I listened to their race bated sermons every Sunday and Wednesday nights. The ministers were often ordained with a quart of white lightening but had no formal education or theological training. In the separate-but-equal educational system in Mississippi, blacks were not allowed to be educated.
In order to understand liberation theology, it is necessary to peel off several layers of laws and attitudes. Slavery is the first layer to be removed. The Dixie Crates, members of the Southern Democrat Party created Jim Crow Laws, the second layer, to protect the property rights of southern slave owners when slaves were freed. Slaves were free but slave owners retained the same level of control with Jim Crow laws. There were separate-but-equal schools, drinking fountains, bathrooms, seats on trains and busses.
The plantations were de facto brothels for white landowners. The slave owner had rights to black women at will while a black man looking at a white woman for more than thirty seconds was condemned and executed as an “eye ball rapist “for which they were either hung or castrated. Hanging was the preferred method because it had a greater shock value. Remember the constitutional defined blacks at this time in American history to be only one third of a person. This gave the southern slave owners the right to treat slaves with no respect because they were one third human and two thirds animal. They raped and sodomized black women at will (Webster defines sodomy as anal and oral sex). It is from this background, sixty years after the fact that I make the following statement.
The doctrine of Liberation Theology parallel and complimented the Jim Crow laws designed to keep blacks in line. It is camouflaged with many shades of gray and heavily shrouded in unadulterated hatred and mistrust for whites. Liberation Theology, for the most part, concentrated on preaching that every bad thing that happened to blacks resulted from slavery, evil white men and greedy Republican businesspersons. There was no point in educating yourself because the evil white man would never allow you to advance. The message was to eat, drink and be merry because tomorrow you might be dead. I believe that this perspective is the reason that eighty-five percent of blacks fail to get an education and strive for success today. The key word “Education” in the black experience is equated to being too white, or an Uncle Tom. Black college educated Republicans are frequently labeled as being too white to understand what it is like to be black or they are an Uncle Tom.
For a long while, it was very difficult to wrap my mind around the contradictory views. The Catholic Church provided the structural guidance to overcome my fathers’ repudiation, abusiveness, hostility and illiteracy. The priest and nuns were frequently targets of the local Klan. Monthly the staff received hate messages in bottles thrown on the school property that referred to their work as the work of Satan. The Klan referred to the priest and nuns as Nazis and nigger lovers. My young untrained mind was constantly contrasting and validating the principles of Liberation Theology against the liberating love, peace, and understanding of Christ as emulated by the Catholic priest nuns. The love and devotion shown by the priests and nuns quickly invalidated the notion that all white people were evil. The nuns and priests were definitely not evil or greedy, but patient, long suffering and they were white. I had a major decision to make. At this point, I rejected the Liberation Theology indoctrination and converted to Catholicism. With the help of a tutor, the Catholic school had me reading at the eighth grade level in one school year.
Historically interesting are ministers who are tax-exempt and promote liberation theology in government-funded schools. I cite one minister in particular, Jessie Jackson. In the book “Shakedown: Exposing the Real Jesse Jackson”, December 1, 2003 by Kenneth R. Timmerman. I have reprinted verbatim from the paragraph Repudiation Day on page 420-421.
“Mr. Jesse Lee Petersen grew up on a former plantation near Tuskegee. Alabama, and by the time he was a teenager hated whites. I was a young man, and I had a lot of anger. I did not have a father to teach me. I listened to people like Jesse Jackson, who told me that my problems were not my fault: It was racism. It was because of slavery. It was because the white man didn’t want me to move forward”. Petersen recalls hearing Jackson as an eighteen year old in Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, where he had moved with an uncle and aunt. Jackson was a visiting speaker at the high school, and he was trying out a version of the PUSH-Excel “motivational” speech he would dispense around the country at government expense in the 1970s. The message was about race, power, and the evils of the white man: and especially the evils of the Republican Party. “He was saying the Republican Party was the party of the rich white males”, Petersen recalls. And the Democrats were the party of the people. I did not realize the partisan message at the time; because it was the type of thing black people were hearing everywhere behind closed doors. We have been brained washed by the civil rights movement for the past forty to fifty years. The people we trusted the most are the ones who are keeping us down and lying to us the most”.
The race base industry, formerly known as black Community Organizers, and staffed by men as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and the Rev. Wright are still operationally and functionally enforcing Jim Crow laws on blacks. It is not the evil white man but the evil black men posing as non-certified ministers who are earning tax-exempt millions to keep blacks in their place in the Democrat party and dependent on the government for their livelihood. The men preaching liberation theology are still living in the 1880s.
Monday, December 9, 2013
Recently, I've noticed a trend in my Christian social media circles. Too many people are seeing demons for everything from depression to people behaving badly. Yes, I do believe that demonic influence is on the rise. Especially in our country.
The why is interesting. When we have leaders who are divisive, create chaos, and cause unrest in the governed, and promote the worst kind of behavior, it becomes an open invitation to open the Gates of Hell and devour the people. Isaiah 5:14 says, "Therefore the nether world enlarges its throat and opens its maw without limit . . ." NAB version. In my Artscroll, Stone Edition of the Tanach, "Therefore, the nether world has enlarged its appetite and opened its mouth wide without limit . . ." The entire chapter of Isaiah is concerned with people who are wise in their own sight causing this turn of events. Those who govern have a responsibility to promote good behavior. They are held to higher standard, and should do everything within their power to do what is right, principled, godly. Every unprincipled act, every law broken, every sin committed nudges that gate to open wider.
However true that fact may be, not everything is the result of demonic activity. Neither is everyone who behaves badly possessed by demons. We should be careful to not find pigs in the parlor every time something happens that looks bad.
The Knockout Game is definitely demonic. The recent mass shootings are demonic, even though the perpetrators were mentally ill. They were all influenced by demonic activity because they were unable to filter it out through prayer and faith. They had no help either spiritually or mentally. Finding pleasure in hurting a fellow human being is definitely demonic. The strange drug induced incidents of cannibalism is definitely demonic. Someone impatient standing in a long line is not demonic.
Our country is under tremendous stress both economically and spiritually. Our leaders are not helping to relieve that stress, and seem to be adding to it with their unprincipled behavior. Those who are principled are reviled, even by their own party, and they should be held accountable at the voting booth. We have a President who seems to delight in casting blame on everyone but himself, and he remains clueless as to how to govern. I cannot help but feel he is doing his all to cause the chaos and unrest. He appears to be the angry little boy, rejected by both parents, all grown up and lashing out against those he feels need to be punished: The Middle Class of America. The alternative is he is all mouth and no intellect. Either way, he is to blame for what he says, what he does not say, and who he appoints to lead in the different cabinets, as well as, what he has done. We have the right to let him know that we are unhappy with his leadership by encouraging our representatives to take action, by voicing our concerns that we are headed in the wrong direction. This is our right as citizens and we must exercise our rights. Paul did when he declared himself to be a Roman citizen.
Whatever you may believe politically, as Christians we must pray and help not just other Christians, but all Americans to find the truth. We must bring comfort to those who are stressed, who are in need, who are searching for an answer to their problems. Ephesians 6:10-18 instructs us to dress ourselves and be prepared to meet evil on the spiritual battlefield. However, don't end your reading at verse 17, where a good many do, remember verse 18, "With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with a perserverance and supplication for all the holy ones . . ." NAB. Pray for your pastors and priests, pray for each other, pray for those who govern, and pray to end this division without compromising our principles. Help those who cannot seem to see their way through the mire of words with encouragement and much prayer.
And, the next time you are standing a long line and someone begins to become nasty, don't look for demons. Offer your place in line by saying, "You seem to be in a hurry. Please take my place." Let that driver, impatient to cut you off, have your spot by dropping back and waving them ahead of you. Smile, be gracious, be kind. Don't return bad behavior with bad behavior. We can make this a better place by having faith, not searching for demons.
Monday, December 2, 2013
I recently read an article describing how too many aspiring authors mistakenly give their work away for free. Each of these authors are convinced that people will take the chance on an unknown author for free when they won't if it will cost them the typical eBook price. We are made to believe the reader will love us so much they will automatically want a hard copy in their hand, and any future work we may produce. The promoters of this paradigm tell us that this process will give us exposure. Now, this word, exposure, is hyped on nearly every social media and book website vying for our work to be given away. This is talked about so much and so often that the question begs to be asked: Does it work? The answer is a resounding NO!
Authors, please stop this practice. It cheapens those of us who are trying to make a living by writing. Writing is hard work. It takes time, and we have so little of it these days. For those of you who are a tad long in the tooth, you might remember hearing from your parents that people who receive things for free don't appreciate the free item. They see it as disposable, cheaply made merchandise that is not worthy of respect. This philosphy is true. Our parents knew what they were talking about. Take their advice. Learn from them.
I would apply that same philosophy to those who review books. A while ago, I sent out a number of books to respected book reviewers at major Catholic newspapers. Mind you, I had previously asked for permission to send it, to see if they might be interested in reviewing it before I paid to ship it to them. I received answers back explaining it would take time, but they would be interested in reading my novel. Off it went in the mail, and at quite an expense. I discovered that my book, and every other book, were tossed into a corner, piled up, and generally mistreated by these seemingly respectable persons. Every book was classified SLUSH, and not worthy of their time, even though these people are paid to read and review books. They only seemed to review books written by the already famed Catholic, or if the writer was a priest, a nun, or a person who had credits from some Catholic organization. Mind you, these writers are reviewed by dozens of people already. This means that these writers are receiving reviews they don't need, wasting the time of the reviewer, and taking the space that is desperately wanted by my fellow authors.
Imagine how it felt to know that the work I had spent ten years researching and writing was treated like so much trash, that they had said they would review it, but really had no intention of ever even reading it. Eventually, I forwarded an eBook to a fellow blogger on LinkedIn and received a decent review, but I had to eat the price. In essence, it was a paid review. Yes, the reviewer is not a famous reviewer, but even they review books already reviewed by dozens of others. And, the insanity continues. It's a crazy system that must be revised, and addressed by all the writers of the world.
When a fellow author asked for a review of his Catholic work, I not only read it, but gave it a review on all my social websites. Even though I couldn't give it more than three stars, I still believed it was worthy of promoting. However, I will not review any more books. I don't believe that I could afford it, nor do I have the time to spend away from my own writing.
I've also noticed that people are always angling to get a free book from me. If I do business with a person they feel they are entitled to a free book. Recently, I had several people doing just that. I was in contact with them for business and they kept schmoozing me for a free book. They didn't directly ask for one, but I could tell by the innuendoes they wanted a free book. No! My days of freebies are over. I've learned my lesson, and I will not repeat it. If you are an author reading this, stop the insanity, now. Stop being stupid. Don't give your hard work away. This does not give you exposure. It only exposes you to ridicule, to cheapen your hard work. I am not alone in this idea. Below are two articles talking about the same thing.
New York Times article: