Monthly Archives: June 2014

Review of A Cast of Stones — Post by Mary C. Findley

Sometimes I write a book review because I promised I would. Sometimes I need to because I want to tell the world about a great story. Sometimes I just have to write a review, even though I feel like I am spiritually and mentally under attack every step of the way. That probably sounds arrogant and judgmental, since I am nobody, have no influence, and over five hundred voices already disagree with me about the book. I also don’t think I’ve ever published a two-star review.

This book gets two stars from me because it’s not trash in terms of writing. There are few errors and some mildly interesting elements. It also doesn’t contain objectionable elements such as lurid violence, explicit sex, gratuitous language, or excessive commendation of bad actions. But I will say, more about that last point later, because it’s not free of that extremely objectionable element, by any means.

The rest of my review contains spoilers. I only warn the reader to be polite, because for crying out loud, could they make things any more obvious? There is nothing, nothing, NOTHING surprising in this book. NOTHING.

The main mystery comes down to determining the next king of a decaying land. I can’t even tell you how obvious it is that the next king is going to be somebody unexpected. Oh, wait. If you didn’t fall asleep amid the jackhammer foreshadowing, maybe it isn’t all that unexpected. Why doesn’t the author sneer at boring “mister perfect” some more? Why doesn’t he make the priest a little more stereotyped; messy, self-indulgent, tolerant, stumbling. Check check check. The guy whose behavior is secretive, reprehensible, downright anti-honorable, is actually a real good guy, mentor, and true believer! Didn’t see that coming!

Normally an author wants his readers to like his main character. Or at least show some strong feeling for him, besides the “aw” of pity or the “ew” of disgust. But that’s all you get with Errol for maybe a third of the book. The unlikely hero is so overdone. The orphan hero whose past is mysterious is absurdly overdone. Yep. Here it is again, only without any real nobility or admirability at all. I might have admired him for his ability to survive being chased and shot at on the perilous journey to the inaccessible location. But wait! The chaser later admits he didn’t want to hurt him, just do one essential thing that he completely failed to do. Eventually Errol gets up to speed, cares about improving himself, and work hard to become good at something. That comes after … wait for it … a near-death experience and providentially being cared for by a reclusive former legendary warrior!

Only outcasts, people in seclusion, and people who are ponderously ethnically diverse, crazy, “Have a past”, or use incomprehensible powers that require exhaustive training (except for the hero because he is “gifted”) are worthy of inclusion in this story. Or worthy of trust. Or worthy to be listened to. But they better have lied, abandoned previous responsibility, or just plain done something non-virtuous, non-daily-life-boring somewhere along the way, or they are not going to make the cut in this story.

Did I mention a legendary indomitable warrior who screws up repeatedly? Did I mention there are THREE legendary warriors, all reclusive, all waiting for the right moment to be there for our hero? And you can become a legendary warrior too. Just practice a lot with your stick that several people say is too lightweight. Don’t ever carve a better stick, even when that’s what you asked for tools and wood to do. You will still beat the tar out of anybody, any weapon, any number of opponents, tirelessly, with your STICK, because it is such an unexpected weapon! Oh, please, mighty stickmaster, train our battle-seasoned veterans of the sword, lance, and crossbow how to fight with a stick!

Naturally the now hardworking (but still pretty much virtue-neutral) hero arrives at the capital city. Naturally he will confront his destiny and show up all the wise and experienced people who have just been waiting for him to discover secret knowledge and do amazing things they trained all their lives to be prepared to do but can’t, because he has to show them up. He has to borrow somebody else’s stick when uncontrollable monsters arrive and start eating people, but he smacks these formerly unbeatable hordes of monsters into submission with his borrowed stick, and later his own stick. Everybody emerges victorious, even smarmy mister perfect, but Errol gets the greatest accolades because he used to be a drunk!

And, yes, there the story, first of a trilogy, ends, resolving … well … nothing. Well, not quite. There is this little teaser thingy that is supposed to shock the socks off of you. In case you don’t know what the “Cast of Stones” title is all about, the way they determine matters of importance such as what direction to take their quest in, or who the next king will be, they make a bunch of perfectly round balls, ideally of hand-carved stone, and toss them. Only a person gifted and/or trained in the art can read the message in the stones, blah blah and so on. This to me sounded like a cross between the dice you roll in Dungeons and Dragons and, sorry, a lottery drawing. It is nothing like the lots in the Scriptures. Nothing like it at all.

In fact, This so-called Christian book kind of turns on it head and distorts of every Biblical principle. Philippians 4:8 is probably another thing people consider to be overused, but you can’t get much clearer about what we are supposed to fill our head with. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Finally, no doubt long after everyone has quit reading, I will say that I really don’t understand the portrayal of belief in this book. It seems to be the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit of the Scriptures, and it seems the religion has got hopelessly corrupt. But it also seems that some person besides the Christ the author pretty clearly presents is the one who died to bring peace. What in the world does that mean?

 

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Why Would I Join a Mailing List? — Post by Mary C. Findley

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The answer to the question in the title  is … I’m still not sure why. This post is part of my non-series about our publishing and marketing endeavors. This is one of the tips I keep hearing over and over again, and it’s the one I am the least certain of. I don’t like mail much to begin with, unless it’s money or from people I really like. Nobody likes junk mail. So what would this mailing list of ours be for?

So here is what I think it would be for:

1. New Releases: If you would like to know when we put out a new book.

2. If you would like to be notified about our future travel plans. (Since we travel in a truck and book freight as we can, we might not always know too far ahead of time. And sometimes we aren’t allowed to tell, for security reasons, depending on the load we are carrying. But we do have people say all the time, “If you’re in my area, let me know!” It means coming out to see us at a truck stop, but if you want to know …)

3. Information about future projects we plan to do.

Our blog now has a widget on the left side below the “subscribe to the blog” link so that you can subscribe to the mailing list.  The question is, do our readers want to receive a newsletter? We can add the subscriber link to the books and facebook, but we would like some feedback on whether people are interested in receiving a newsletter, and what they would like to see included. We don’t want to be another ignored piece of mail in your inbox. You have too much of that already. So let us know in the comments, or go ahead and subscribe to the mailing list if you seriously want to hear from us. Don’t do it just to be nice. Subscribe if you seriously want to know about the above topics, or something else, and let us know what you would like. Thanks!

 

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Benny and the Bank Robber Historical Adventure Series — Now There Are Four!

lines violet flood final 25

As soon as Violet arrives with the wagon train Ben can finally be married. But is she truly in love with Ben, or with the five or six trunks of things her letters say she can’t do without?

When trouble stalks the widowed young schoolteacher, will Ben go past protecting her and threaten both their futures? What will it
take to stop a violent man determined to possess his dead brother’s wife?

How can Ben save Violet and himself from a ruthless outlaw gang? Will he ever stop paying for that headline, or even he live to tell
it at all? An avenger of blood looking to settle scores is not the only thing Ben discovers when he helps a man with a past.

Everything Ben has worked and prayed and bled for could be washed away in a day. Can an unexpected visitor from the past change the
course of a raging flood with Cascade right in its path?

From Chapter Eighteen – Drawing Fire
The door to Elijah’s room burst open suddenly. Ben heard a heavy tread enter the room. The door slammed shut. Ben groped for Obadiah and shoved him behind Elijah’s chair. Ben sat up carefully, holding his eye, which throbbed intensely now.
“Lookit th’ he’p y’ got naow,” Matt Dotter’s voice sneered. “A’ ol’ geezer, a brat, an’ a half a man. This gon’ be easy.”
“Will you let them go?” Ben stood up slowly and held onto the wall for support.
“Shore, aftah ah’m done an’ oan mah way. Ah hit y’, din’ Ah? Ah knows Ah hit y’.”
“No,” Ben laughed. “I fell down the hill and hit my head. You missed, Matt.”
“Y’ lie. Ah doan’ miss a’ thet range.”
“It’s too bad Caleb didn’t get a shot at you. He wouldn’t have missed. Maybe he’s figured out about your friend and he’s on his way back here right now.”
“He’ll b’ late. Y’ jes’ quit turnin’ them wheels insi’e yo’ haid, Carlisle, an’ doan’ b’ fig’rin’ haow y’ kin beat me outta killin’ y’. Ah will hurt these three if y’ gimme trouble.”
“ How do I know you won’t kill them after I’m dead?”
Matt Dotter laughed, a cruel, icy laugh. “Ah c’d kill ev’body in this taown ef Ah wanted t’. Y’ doan’ ha’ no say in what Ah do, ‘spesh’lly since you’ll b’ daid.”
“That’s what I thought,” Ben said, stalling for time and wishing his vision would clear.

Lines in Pleasant Places Amazon

http://authl.it/1ny

Smashwords

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/449272

 

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Why We Write — Post by Michael J. Findley

HQ
Our daughter’s pet hamster died today. She’s an adult, a school teacher, and it was expected. But it caused me to reflect on the brevity of life and why Mary and I write.
It is possible to know things. This might sound silly, but movies such as the Matrix are confusing more and more people. They want to know if there is a reality. Yes, reality exists and we are responsible to explain reality to people.

Since reality exists, there are standards for evaluating what is and what is not true. Mary and I have written chapters on this. When you study history, then you must recognize that the Bible is authentic, that is, it was written by the people who claimed to write each book or each part of a book, such as the Psalms, when and where they claimed to write it. If you deny the authenticity of the Bible, then you cannot understand anything of history. There are thousands of documents supporting the dating of the Bible compared to very few documents supporting any other event in history.

Here is a link to a chart which shows how unreliable other historical documents are compared to the Bible. http://carm.org/can-we-trust-new-testament-historical-document

Despite the fact that many Roman emperors burned every copy of any Christian writing they could find and executed anyone who possessed a copy of any New Testament document, there are thousands of manuscripts for the New Testament.

Here is a link to several dozen videos on the reliability of the Bible. http://www.josh.org/video-2/is-the-bible-reliable/

Here is a book on the evidences for the reliability of the Bible: The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict. http://www.amazon.com/Evidence-Demands-Questions-Challenging-Christians/dp/0785243631

Here is a link to several dozen articles on the historical accuracy of the Bible. http://www.icr.org/biblical-record/

This is not an exhaustive list of evidence. It does not even include the Dead Sea Scrolls. But it is enough evidence to convince any unbiased reader that the Bible is authentic. That is, the Bible was written by the people who claimed to write each book or each part of a book, such as the Psalms, when and where they claimed to write it. After accepting the accuracy of the Bible, we must then examine it’s content.

The Bible puts great responsibility on grandparents. A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just. Proverbs 13:22 This is more than a simple will for the proper disposal of property after we go to be with the LORD. We are the elders. We are to teach the sons of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them through Moses. Leviticus 10:11

We are not Jewish, so our children are not the sons of Israel, but the principle is the same. Gather the people before me so they may hear my words, learn to revere me the whole time that they live in the land, and teach them to their children. Deuteronomy 4:10 NASB

You are to love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. “Let these words that I’m commanding you today be always on your heart. Teach them repeatedly to your children. Talk about them while sitting in your house or walking on the road, and as you lie down or get up. Tie them as reminders on your forearm, bind them on your forehead, and write them on the door frames of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:5-9 ISV

Satan is not powerful enough to completely deceive everyone all the time. So each generation has one main area of attack. Our generation in western culture has seen the infiltration of secularism, or Secular Humanism, with the major tenants of evolution and a belief in deep time. Laws are passed to both indoctrinate and promulgate this belief system.

Jesus said, “had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” John 5:46,47

Abraham said to the rich man in hades If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. Luke 16:31

Sometimes we enjoy writing. Sometime it is a struggle and a chore. But our responsibility and goal is, as the apostle Paul said,

I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some of them. I do all this for the sake of the gospel in order to have a share in its blessings. You know that in a race all the runners run but only one wins the prize, don’t you? You must run in such a way that you may be victorious. Everyone who enters an athletic contest practices self-control in everything. They do it to win a wreath that withers away, but we run to win a prize that never fades. That is the way I run, with a clear goal in mind. That is the way I fight, not like someone shadow boxing. No, I keep on disciplining my body, making it serve me so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not somehow be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:22-27 ISV

Photo of HQ the hamster by Victoria Findley

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The Collapse of the Peer Review Process — Post by Michael J. Findley

peerreview

“The real problem for science today is quality control. Peer review has been at the heart of this, but there are too many failures – both in open access and traditional journals – simply to plod ahead with the same system.”

(Quoted from the article, “Open access publishing hoax: what Science magazine got wrong”, by Curt Rice.) http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2013/oct/04/science-hoax-peer-review-open-access

“‘The sting operation on publishers doesn’t point to the real crisis,’ says Curt Rice – ‘the meltdown of the peer review system.’”

An atheist on a site where I frequently participate cited an article in support of his position. I will cover his position and the citation later in this post.

First, I want to thank him for reminding me of an important issue. He cited an article from an open-access publication. Several investigations into the open-access world of peer-reviewed papers have revealed massive fraud. This is also true of traditional scholarly publications, as Curt Rice’s article makes clear. Here is more from Rice:

“Science magazine has published a blistering critique of the most sacred cow of scientific research, namely the peer review quality system. Unfortunately, Science doesn’t seem to have understood its own findings. It proclaims to have run a sting operation, written by ‘gonzo scientist’ John Bohannon, revealing the weaknesses of the relatively new publishing model we call open access. In fact, the Science article shows exactly the opposite of what it intended, namely that we need an even wider use of open access than the one we currently have.”

“Bad work gets published. This is a crisis for science and it’s the crisis that Science shines a sharp light on this week. But Science misread the cause, which was not about making the results of research freely available via open access, but the meltdown of the peer review system. We need change.”

And Rice supports the peer review system.

Secular Humanists love to make loud, long, and repeated complaints that creationist peer-reviewed or refereed journals are not legitimate peer reviews because the reviewers are also Creationists. A “peer-reviewed” article by Petteri Nieminen and Anne-Mari Mustonen, Finnish writers, published in their home country an article entitled “Argumentation and fallacies in creationist writings against evolutionary theory,” published by Evolution: Education and Outreach. http://www.evolution-outreach.com/content/7/1/11

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12052-014-0011-6 was the source of this article linked to by the atheist in an online discussion. He linked it as a citation of legitimate scholarship. While I understand that just writing about this on our blog might give this straw-man fallacy article more publicity than it deserves (there is no such thing as negative publicity), I feel that it is an excellent example of the collapse of the peer review system.

It is written by evolutionists to promote evolution. It was never intended to be unbiased. This is exactly what secular humanists falsely accuse us of. However, it could still be an honest position, if the facts support their case.

Moving on to the content of the article itself, here is the opening:

“Abstract: Background
“The creationist–evolutionist conflict is perhaps the most significant example of a debate about a well-supported scientific theory not readily accepted by the public.
“Methods
“We analyzed creationist texts according to type (young earth creationism, old earth creationism or intelligent design) and context (with or without discussion of ‘scientific’ data).
“Results:
“The analysis revealed numerous fallacies…”
It then spends a paragraph defining types of fallacies.
“The prevalence of these fallacies was equal in young-earth creationism and intelligent design/old-earth creationism. The direct and indirect ad hominem were also prevalent in pro-evolutionary texts.”
The conclusion in the abstract then says “the recognition of these fallacies and their dismissal as irrelevant…”

Very serious charges, but nothing to support or even show where they apply to actual creationist statements in the abstract. Here is a faster-loading link to the article.
http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/s12052-014-0011-6.pdf

“Methods:
“Creationist authors and publications were chosen for analysis based on their visibility and impact in social media. (Table 1).”

That is both legitimate and well-stated. Table One begins with Answers In Genesis, Creation Ministries International, Creation Research Society, Institute for Creation Research, Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA Center, and Intelligent Design Network.) These are the major organizations.

The next section includes tables of supposed examples of fallacies. Table Seven contains fallacies by proponents of evolution. Oddly, the tables do not provide enough information to find a specific quote. In the hundreds of references at the end of the article, Journal of Creation is only cited twice and Answers In Genesis only once. The only author I recognized in the tables is John Morris, with two partial quotes. Dr. Morris is the son of the famous Henry Morris. So in spite of publishing a table of leading creationist organizations, they ignore these organizations when choosing quotes.

But the worst part of this article is the entire categorization of partial quotes as fallacies. If a statement is true, and many of the quotes listed in the tables are true, then it is dishonest to claim that they are a fallacy. For example, under the category of “Dishonesty”, they have this partial quote from Dr. John Morris; “‘…if evolutionists really believe what they say or if they are purposively trying to mislead. I suspect there are some of both.’ Morris, 2013”

The complete quote actually makes sense. Here it is. “It makes you wonder if evolutionists really believe what they say or if they are purposively trying to mislead. I suspect there are some of both. Many evolutionists I have met have something in their own past that has turned them away from ‘religion.’”
http://www.icr.org/article/just-how-well-proven-evolution/

It is almost humorous that such a dishonest partial quote would be used as an attempt to show Dr. Morris to be dishonest. As you can see in the context, not only is the original honest, it is accurate. Not in every case, but it is a true statement, as Dr. Morris says, with “many evolutionists.”

Table 2 does not have actual quotes, only paraphrases, or what the article’s authors say the creationists mean. Occasionally a word or phrase is included in a quote. For example, under “poisoning the well” is the statement, “Claims of the type: ‘Evolutionists refuse to consider supernatural explanations.’” Every evolutionist I have talked to or read absolutely refuses to consider supernatural explanations for origins of the universe, of the earth, or of life. These are hundreds, perhaps thousands of people. Just one example is Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion. How is a simple statement of fact “poisoning the well?”

The name in the reference column is Walton, 2006. The reference section lists Walton as Walton, D. N. (2006). Poisoning the well. Argumentation, 20, 273–307. This is not a creationist quote, even used out of context. Is all of Table 2 actually quotes from noncreationists masquerading as creationists by making up statements they think creationists would say?

These are simply examples of the lack of scholarship, and, in many places, the lack of basic honesty, forming the substance of this entire article. If this is what passes for peer review, then there is no peer-review system any more.

(Image from http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2012/01/radical-reform-for-peer-review.html)

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