Caution: Taylor Davis May not Be Suitable for all Adults!

TaylorDavis_FlameOfFindul_cover 2x3By now probably everyone who has wandered onto this blog knows I write children’s literature. And many of you probably also know I just released a new book. Well, here’s where I tell you how it will probably tick off Christians and non-Christians alike.

Taylor Davis and the Flame of Findul was a brand new sort of book for me–humorous action/adventure. Ever since reading Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series I’ve wanted to try my hand at one. But whereas Riordan writes about the ancient gods, mine has more to do with the ancient God. He’s not a main character, but his presence is certainly implied.

That right there will probably be enough to tick off some people, especially as the book is intended for a mainstream audience. What?! A book with God intended for public school children?! *Gasp!* *Shudder!* 

Yes, Taylor is intended for a general audience, therefore the Christian element is toned way down. That will probably tick off some Christians. What?! Are you too ashamed to include your faith in your book?

So who WILL like Taylor? Hopefully everyone who falls between those two extremes. Middle schoolers should get a kick out of it. It’s a wild adventure with a fantastical element to it. But instead of granting my human hero supernatural powers, I’ve given him a pair of guardian angels to help him out. Angels with eccentricities and very human-like behavior. (I know, more fodder for complaints.) Taylor has also been paired with another human, a girl by the name of Elena, who ended up part of the team accidentally and doesn’t much like it. Their job is to relight the Flame of Findul–the sword that guards the Tree of Life–before disaster happens. Problem is, Findul the firesmith has been missing for several centuries. And a 1600’s pirate who ate of the tree (hence, he cannot die) intends to stop them.

As I was writing Taylor, I came up with a whole list of stuff over which I’m sure to receive nasty letters from pew theologians. I know my doctrine has some gaping holes in it. The whole story should be taken with a smirk and a grain of salt. My intention is neither to be proselytizing nor to disrespectful but to simply tell a fun story with some good moral values hidden among the action. I hope the majority of readers take it for what it is.

Because it is enrolled in KDP Select, Taylor is only available on Amazon until August.

Kindle | Paperback

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Could the Holocaust Happen Again?

kristallnachtI’ve been reading a good deal about the Rise of Nazi Germany and its connection to the creation of the Jewish state of Israel a decade later. My newest literary journey started with the purchase of Exodus, by Leon Uris through a special BookBub promotion. That book was okay, but it compares unfavorably with the Zion Covenant Series by Brock and Bodie Thoene that I read years ago. So I’m picking my way through the series again. Both are works of historical fiction, but I’ve been looking up the characters and events as I go, investigating into the truth behind the fictionalized accounts. Both have proven extremely accurate. I also picked up the first of Winston Churchill’s Nobel-winning non-fiction series about the Second World War.

Once again I am amazed at Hitler’s diabolical brilliance and his utter contempt for human life. His corrupt policies brought about the death of millions of people. In the Thoene series, I’m just at the account of Kristallnacht, the “spontaneous” reprisals to the murder of a Nazi by a Jew. I’ve found no documentation to verify that Kristallnacht was planned, but it was so meticulously organized and so swiftly executed that few believe otherwise. Even the murder appears contrived, as the victim was suspected of disloyalty within the party. Hitler often played the masses with such schemes, getting exactly the responses he hoped for, from hatred and violence of the German people to fearful appeasement by foreign powers. That fateful night in 1938 violence against Jewish citizens and Jewish property rocked the whole of the Reich. Synagogues were burned, Jewish shops were destroyed and looted, thousands of arrests were made, and many were murdered. It happened decades ago, yet it still makes me cringe. It still makes me weep.

If you’ve looked my blog over at all, you’ll see I have a love and curiosity for things Jewish. They are the people through whom God chose to send his Redeemer. As a Christian, I feel a strong tie to them. They are the tree to which I am “grafted” through faith. Christianity grew up from Jewish origins. I enjoy studying their culture, traditions, and history. I try to understand the scripture through the people to whom it was first revealed. After all, Christ was a Jew ministering to Jews. With such a perspective, I am saddened by the fact that the majority of Jews have missed their own Messiah. And I’m horrified by the way they’ve been treated throughout history, often by evil men who claim Christianity but could in no way have known Christ.

After responding to the holocaust with grief, my second reaction is always wondering if it could ever happen again. I’d like to think not, but men haven’t changed. Perhaps that generation learned a lesson, but new generations arise all the time, minus the wisdom their forebears gained with experience. That’s why history always repeats itself. Sons, like their fathers, are fallen.

So could something of this magnitude happen here in America? We don’t have the same political climate as Germany did after WWI. They were crushed, defeated. They suffered from an overwhelming sense of failure and from severe economic reprisals inflicted on them by the Allies for causing the Great War. They were ripe for Hitler’s picking, for his soothing of their pride and his promises of grandeur and power for the Aryan race. But how did it happen? Quite simply, through the erosion of morality.

John Adams once said democracy can only work for a righteous people. A self-monitoring people. America has ceased to be that. Our government has eroded. Our society has eroded. Our work ethic has eroded. Our schools have eroded. Our families have eroded. Our values have eroded. All because belief in the full authority and infallibility of God’s word has eroded. America is in an immoral state.

Could such violence and intolerance happen here? I’m not predicting an outbreak or a target, but yes, it absolutely could. At our core, Americans are no different than Germans.

zion covenant

exodus

winston churchill

America and the Persecuted Church

MEDION DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve been thinking lately how odd this phenomenon is. When life is tranquil, we tend to drift away from God like ducks gliding across a pond. We may not actually leave the pond, but we paddle over here to pursue this interest, and we spend time over there doing that. We may cast cursory glances back at the Farmer, or perhaps we forget Him altogether. Until the waves get rough. Or a hawk flies overhead. Then we come streaming back, squawking noisily for help. It’s during those times of trouble we cultivate the closest relationship with Him. Why do we do this? Why are we always drifting to the edge of the pond during times of blessing? Why is it so hard to maintain a close relationship amid distractions?

I’ve been reading about the persecuted church this month. I’m rereading The Heavenly Man, by Brother Yun and Paul Hattaway. Brother Yun is a modern pastor who recounts the often miraculous events and the mindboggling growth of the persecuted church in present day China. And I read Richard Wurmbrand’s autobiography, Tortured for Christ, for the first time. Pastor Wurmbrand lived through the Nazi and later the Communist takeovers of his Romanian homeland and spent many years in prison for his work in the underground church. He established Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) in 1967, a mission that gives aid to the families of imprisoned and persecuted Christians.

Both of these books have been challenging and eye-opening. We don’t realize how soft we are here in America. Neither do we realize the blessings we miss out on by not living on the edge of our faith as these saints do. We get so distracted by pleasures, by leisure, by hobbies, work, retirement plans, church programs, vacations, life goals, and the predictable routine of life that our focus drifts off the eternal.

We, who have every freedom to share our faith without serious repercussions, don’t do it, while they risk their lives and families to save one more soul. We have so many entertainments that we don’t always take twenty minutes a day to spend in the Word. They memorize entire books, because ownership of a forbidden Bible is so precious. Surrounded by our glut of food, medical sciences, and government safety nets, we forget our every breath is borrowed from God. They live their lives in His hand.

So who is truly more blessed, Americans or the persecuted church?

I have a burden for my country and my family. I minored in history. I still dabble in it. I’m well aware that no nation has ever pulled out of the moral and economic abyss we’ve descended into. Yet God promises to heal the land of believers who repent and call on Him. What’s the better way to pray? That God would bless America? That He would revive and heal our land? Or that He would allow rough times through which many more might be drawn to Him? It’s a conundrum that reveals my cowardice and sets my eternal perspective at war with my temporal hopes for my kids.

I guess the only thing I can do is swim close to the Farmer, trust Him with the future, and teach my kids to do the same.

Check out the resources VOM makes available online and join me in praying for the persecuted church. Tortured for Christ is available for Kindle for only one dollar.

heavenly man

tortured for christ

The Great Gatsby and Heaven

great gatsbyBecause I write novels for kids, most of my pleasure reading takes the form of middle grade and young adult selections, but I like to poke my way through classic literature as well. I usually have one going on my Kindle all the time. Over the past year or so I’ve read several books by Jules Verne, Les Mis, The War of the Worlds, The Phantom of the Opera, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Hobbit, and Frankenstein, along with several classic children’s books like Alice in Wonderland and The Princess and Curdie. I find value in checking out books that have stood the test of time. They usually contain themes that resonate with humanity across the generations. Many times these themes are positive. Sometimes they are not.

I just finished reading The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a work heralded as a nostalgic, enchanting tale of the era of jazz. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say: “The book received critical acclaim and is generally considered Fitzgerald’s best work. It is also widely regarded as a ‘Great American Novel’ and a literary classic, capturing the essence of an era. The Modern Library named it the second best English language novel of the 20th Century.”

I say it’s a terrible commentary on a life lived without God.

Jay Gatsby is a self-made millionaire, though his success smacks of the underworld. He’s well-known in New York for throwing lavish parties, which are attended by all the social elite. It’s all done for the benefit of Daisy Buchanan, with whom he’s in love. His bid to woo her away from her husband ends in backstabbing and murder. In the end, the narrator laments that Gatsby was chasing a dream that was better left in the past. Yet he understands Gatsby’s motivation for looking backwards when only lonely decades stretch before. Happiness eludes us though we run toward it with our arms out. It’s a bleak, hopeless take on life. One that, unfortunately, so many identify with.

heaven alcorn

Last week, I finished reading Heaven, written by Randy Alcorn. If only I could hand out a copy to everyone who picks up The Great Gatsby! As Christians, we have the promise of eternal life. Not life with pain and suffering as we know here. Life as we’d want it to be lived here. For we will live here, on this remade earth, in the presence of God and in the absence of sin. This formula equals the fulfillment and satisfaction Mr. Fitzgerald’s characters were seeking in their gin, sex, wealth, and socializing.

As Christians, we don’t always understand what hope we have to offer the world. We don’t understand Heaven. We have this image of floating in the clouds in some disembodied state while strumming on harps. No wonder no one seems to want to go there! But Mr. Alcorn uses scripture to explore the truth about Heaven. He does it in a way that makes it digestible. He paints it in terms of what we are familiar with. After reading this, I’m telling you I’m awfully excited to go there.

Of course the ticket comes with a cost: acknowledging that there is a God, admitting that He is righteous and we are not, and surrendering to His will. That’s a price steeper than many folks wish to pay. The alternative, however, is the useless seeking and bitter disappointment of The Great Gatsby during this life and something worse after death.

I won’t be recommending The Great Gatsby but I certainly recommend you get a handle on the future life God promised us by reading through Heaven.

Noah Zarc, by D. Robert Pease, 2011, Book Review

For those of you who read my children’s book review blog, Bookworm Blather, you may have seen this post on Monday.  Rarely do I have content that crosses over the line between mainstream children’s literature and religion, but this book has appeal enough for both genres.  Besides, I loved the way it fit in so nicely with my current study of origins and the Flood, which I’ve been posting about a lot lately.  Take a look…

One thousand plus years into the future of our solar system, Earth has been destroyed. People now live on Mars and Venus, fly around in the coolest space ships, and utilize amazing technology (like holopads, personal flying thermsuits, chef-bots that speak with French accents, and neuro implants). They’ve even perfected time travel. But, unfortunately, all animal life has been destroyed in the great Cataclysm.

Enter the Zarc family. Hannah and Noah Sr. are scientists in charge of a government sanctioned project to rescue extinct animal populations and resettle them on the slowly recovering Earth. They do this by traveling back in time, capturing a male and female of each species, and holding them within the Animal Rescue Cruiser (ARC) until their natural habitats can sustain them on Earth. Twelve-year-old Noah Zarc, a paraplegic and incredible space pilot, is a vital part of this family program. Not everyone, however, is excited about the repopulation efforts, and some will go to any lengths to stop it.

Futuristic sci-fi is not usually my first choice, but this spin on Noah’s ark looked so intriguing I had to download it. I’m glad I did. Not only is it one of the most original stories I’ve read recently, it’s well-written, entertaining, sometimes unpredictable, and just plain fun. It’s also squeaky clean, totally appropriate for middle-graders as young as eight, though I’d probably rate it at about a fifth grade reading level.

One thing that I really appreciated about this book was the worldview from which it was written. I expected the usual naturalistic approach. You know, one more repetition of the we-all-evolved, save-the-earth mantra of modern science. But this story was refreshingly open-minded. It did have one reference to people “evolving past” something, but it also spoke again and again of creation, and it gave cave people high intelligence. And my favorite, my absolute favorite statement it made was that the earth – this uniquely life-supporting planet – was MADE FOR PEOPLE. For you see, the Poligarchy (the solar system government), in an effort keep power, will not allow people to repopulate the earth, only animals. Not even when people are dying on Venus. This adds a unique element of sympathy for the antagonist. It also counters the real-life Green Movement that sometimes erroneously places greater importance on our planet rather than on the people for whom the earth was made.

Kudos on an excellent first novel, Mr. Pease!  It would be a worthwhile purchase even if it wasn’t only 2.99 on Amazon.  And in honor of a clean, kid-friendly read, I’m bestowing on Noah Zarc the first ever Bookworm Blather Squeaky Award!

Mr. Pease has a second Noah Zarc novel (Cataclysm) coming out this year. Jump onto his website for more information. He can also be found on TwitterFacebook, and his blog.

Read my 5-Q Interview with Noah Zarc author, D. Robert Pease.

Dinosaurs for Kids, by Ken Ham, 2009, Book Review

Like most kids their ages, my boys are fascinated by dinosaurs. You have to admit, there’s an air of mystery and horror surrounding these monsters of the past. What were they like? What was their world like? What happened to them? Secular scientists have supplied their version of the answers to these questions, but they are answers that don’t jive with my belief in Creation as described in the Bible. So it was to creation scientists that I turned for information to teach my kids about dinos. And I discovered this book.

It’s amazing! Full of huge, full-color illustrations and chock full of easily digestible information, Dinosaurs for Kids is a real kid-pleaser. And a mom-pleaser. To quote from the book, “When trying to solve the mysteries of these mighty dinosaurs, it is important to remember to start with the truth found in the Bible.” Author Ken Ham takes the same scientific evidence on which scientists base evolution and interprets it in a way complimentary to what God says.

Within, he discusses seven ages of dinosaurs:

Age 1 – Formed: The creation of dinosaurs and the rest of the world—including humans—in six days.

Age 2 – Fearless: For a time before sin entered the world, the animals and people lived together without fear and without aggression.

Age 3 – Fallen:  After man sinned, everything changed. Death entered the world.

Age 4 – Flood:  The time when most fossils were formed.

Age 5 – Faded:  The age when dinosaurs died out and became extinct, just as animals still go extinct today.

Age 6 – Found:  Man has only rediscovered dinosaurs in the last couple hundred years.

Age 7 – Fiction:  Today, scientist have created untrue stories about dinosaurs living millions of years ago.

In Dinosaurs for Kids, Mr. Ham has provided a logical, scientific, biblical explanation for the mysteries surrounding these amazing animals. It really isn’t that much of a mystery if you break down the evidence according to the history God has recorded for us in his Word. This book has been a huge read-aloud hit at our house, and I’m so pleased at not having to sift through lots of evolution propaganda.  I’d recommend it for ages 6-13 and probably place it at a fourth to fifth grade independent reading level.

 

Left Behind

I just finished reading the Left Behind series by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye.  How, I’ve been asked, did you find time to read twelve books?  Um…yeah, how did I find time to read twelve books?  Let’s suffice to say it was never during daylight hours. 

Reading is an amazing recharge activity for me.  When I burn out on writing – which I did after an intense start to the year – absorbing someone else’s work is like fueling up at the gas pump.  I’m ready to go again.  So, on to the Christmas script!  But first, let me tell you about this fast-paced series.

If you don’t know already, the title refers to the rapture – when Jesus whisks away his followers, both dead and alive, from the earth and up to heaven.   This event happens early on in the first book.  Thereafter, the plot revolves around those who were, well, left behind.  Obviously, the series is written from a Christian perspective and deals extensively with End Times prophecy laid out in the book of Revelation.

I found this series fascinating.  I believe the events written in the Bible really will come to pass, though I have meager understanding of them, so to immerse myself in a real-life illustration was captivating.  Mr. LaHay is an authority in Biblical prophecy, and Mr. Jenkins is a best-selling novelist.   Together they make quite a team.  If you enjoy sci-fi and fast action, this is the place to find it: monster horseman, a worldwide dictator, global war, demonic beings, suspense, tragedy and triumph, it’s all in there, believable and well-written.   The characters are very human, and you get to love them after going through so much drama together.  Their dialogue is effective, often witty, and the writing, while not lyrically beautiful, is smart and clean.  The books cover thousands of pages without losing momentum or appeal – not an easy task.

I do have a few complaints.  First, the series already feels dated.  It was started before the World Trade bombings, so it leaves out a huge chapter of recent history.  Of course this was unforeseeable, but the absence of the Muslim presence which has so dominated the last decade is detrimental to the books’ feeling of veracity.  I guess that’s a hazard of writing prophetic fiction.  Also, the series can get very preachy at times, something I dislike in fiction, but I suppose it goes with the territory.  This is especially true of the last book, Glorious Appearing.  I was thrilled when Jesus finally came back to defeat Antichrist, but He speaks only scriptural quotes.  It’s clever, the way the authors use Bible verses to this effect, and it shows an amazing knowledge of scripture, but page after page of this gets wearisome.  I did a lot of skimming.  And finally, a disproportionate number of characters are pilots.  Necessary for a global setting, but a little coincidental.

Overall, the twelve books of Left Behind were an enjoyable read.  They are tied so closely to beliefs I hold dear that they elicit a powerful emotional response.  And they make me want to check out the prophecies for myself…after I finish the Christmas play.