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Dating the Ice Age Part Two: From the End of the Ice Age to the Destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon

The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70AD -- a painting by David Roberts (1796-1849).

         The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70AD — a painting by David Roberts (1796-1849).

For the Conflict of the Ages series, ancient history is the end of the Ice Age to the destruction of Jerusalem and the first temple by Babylon. The better preserved documents of Greece, Rome, China and India are Classic History for the Conflict of the Ages series. Ancient history is pieced together from millions of fragments. Classical History is based on better preserved, more complete documents.

The Conflict of the Ages Series relies on the timeline found in Hebrew History. The Scriptures are the most accurate, though they do not provide all the information necessary for complete history. For example, they do not reference any historical events in the Americas, India, China, or Sub-Sahara Africa. Other Jewish documents, such as the works of Josephus, are less reliable than the Scriptures, but still more accurate than most non-Hebrew sources. Next are the millions of other written documents. These are still more acceptable than the interpretations of artifacts.

We can construct an approximate timeline back to Moses. We begin with the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC. By working through the difficult numbering of the Hebrew kings, the Solomon began construction on his temple in 966 BC. So 480 years earlier Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt. That was 1446 BC. Calendar conversions make all dates approximate, though close.

How long were the children of Israel in Egypt?

Acts 7:6 And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land, and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years.

Genesis 15:13-16 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thous shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

1 Chronicles 6:1-3 The sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. And the sons of Kohath, Amram, Izha, and Hebron, and Uzziel. And the children of Amram; Aaron, and Moses, and Miriam.

[Levi begat Kohath. Kohath begat Amram. Amram begat Moses. Levi, Kohath, Amram, Moses ]

Galatians 3:17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

Exodus 12:40, 41 Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt [LXX and in Chanaan], was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.

Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 2:15:2.2 They left Egypt in the month Xanthicus, on the fifteenth day of the lunar month, four hundred and thirty years after our forefather Abraham came in Canaan, but two hundred and fifteen years only after Jacob removed into Egypt.

There is a detailed chart explaining these dates. It compares the age of Abraham, the events in the life of

Abraham. https://answersingenesis.org/bible-questions/how-long-were-the-israelites-in-egypt/

The date of the exodus is the key date. The covenant began when Abraham entered Canaan. Abraham was seventy-five years old. We accept the LXX reading of Egypt and Canaan as the land of their sojourning. That is also the traditional Jewish position. That was 430 years from the exodus.

Next is “evil treatment” of four hundred years. This begins thirty years after Abraham entered Canaan. Abraham is 105 years old. Isaac is 5 years old. Sarah is 95 years old. Ishmael is 19 years old. This the mocking of Ishmael and the expulsion of Hagar and Sarah. This is four hundred years from the Exodus.

While the 215 year number of Josephus for the year Jacob (Israel) entered Egypt is not inspired, it fits the chronology. With long longer lifespans, and Moses 80 years old when Israel left at the exodus, the four generations in Egypt also fits.

So using 1446 BC as the date of the exodus, Abraham entered Canaan in 1876 BC when he was 75. So Abraham was born in 1951 BC. Abraham was born 292 years after the end of the flood. This makes the flood 2243 BC of our calendar. It has the creation of the world in 3899 BC

Compared to secular humanist history, these dates are very close to Ussher’s dates. Ussher has the flood ending in 2348 BC, Abraham entering Canaan at 75 years old in 1921 BC, the Exodus at 1491 BC, the foundation of Solomon’s temple laid in 1012 BC, the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar in 588 BC.

The Jewish calendar using AM (the year of the world) dates from creation. The destruction of the temple by the Babylonians is 3338 AM. (Sedar Olam).

Our calendar has only 3313 years from creation to the destruction of the first temple, for a difference of 25 years with the traditional Jewish calendar.

Compared to secular dating schemes, these differences with Ussher and the Jewish calendar are insignificant.

2243 BC The end of the Flood
1876 BC Abraham enters Canaan
1661 BC Jacob (Israel moves to Egypt)
1446 BC the Exodus
966 BC The foundation of the temple laid
586 BC Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian armies destroy
Jerusalem and the first temple

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Review of Chadash Chronicles Book 1: Fool’s Errand by David G. Johnson

 

fools errand

4 Stars

If you love fantasy RPG games you will love this book. There aren’t so many characters that you get lost, but there is a rich diversity along with familiar types. Rogues and clerics, mages, and paladins dot the landscape, as well as cooks and bards and bad guys. Johnson has done some fine world-building. I appreciated the overall high moral tone along with the realistic enjoyment of a good drink and appreciation for a pretty girl (even if she does have black fur) by ordinary men with extraordinary determination and courage. If you expect a resolution, you apparently had better have book 2 on hand, because it’s still to come at the end of this piece. It does include a satisfactory step toward victory. My one warning is that Christian readers will need to extend a certain degree of grace to accept the presence of God and angels in a new world where the curse is not a factor, but this is a minor issue.

Here’s an interview and  post David made for me some time back on another blog. Good stuff on witing Spec Fiction.

As authors, one of the long-standing bits of guiding wisdom in our business is the old adage “Write what you know”. This is solid advice, tried and true, as the most engaging classic works of fiction have come from authors who have so immersed themselves in research of their period, or who lived and breathed in that period, that their very words come alive with the images, sounds and smells of the world of their novels. J.R.R. Tolkien was one of the great masters of this, but the depth and vividness of his work stemmed from the fact that he first created a people and a language, fully developed and real, and out of that poured naturally the stories of Middle-Earth.

Example after example could be laid out along these lines, but in truth if we as speculative fiction authors, and in particular Christian speculative fiction authors, our ability to “write what we know” at some point hits a wall between reality and fantasy. So when our stories take place in the world of science-fiction or fantasy, how can we do all that is possible to fulfill the requirements of the old adage while writing in a speculative fiction genre?

After much time in thought and consideration of this question, here are my thoughts and suggestions.
Know your Bible. If we are truly going to write with the tag of “Christian” author, we owe it to ourselves, our readers, and most importantly to God to first and foremost be diligent students of His word. If we want to make sure that what we write glorifies Him, then we need to know Him. If we do not want our work to become the subject of rejection and criticism by our fellow Christians, we need to understand where God’s Word weighs in on the ideas and concepts we present in our fiction. If we don’t know the Bible first and foremost as the foundation of what we write, we cannot truly present ourselves as “Christian” speculative fiction authors.

Know your world. I cannot overstress the importance of worldbuilding in creating a tangible, believable and consistent speculative fiction setting. The degree of worldbuilding required largely depends on the specific sub-genre of your fiction. For stories set on Earth but in an alternate history, alternate future, etc, much of the foundational worldbuilding is already done. Geography, races, nations, history, religion, food production, waste removal, international politics, etc. are all elements present in the real world and don’t need to be invented. This, however, does not make the burden less on the authors who choose this setting. If anything, the speculative elements require even more detailing because they will significantly alter how certain aspects of the world do work, and these are elements which will have to be strong enough to draw your readers out of their comfortable understanding of reality set in this world and into your world with all the implications thereof. Skimping on thinking through how the speculative changes you introduce to our known reality would impact that reality is a recipe for a cheesy, shallow world which will not engage and immerse your readers into your world but will leave them feeling cheated, like watching a shadow-puppet show when a live performance was what was billed.

Fantasy and science-fiction authors have a different but equally demanding task. If your setting takes the readers to a whole new world, then all of the things we take for granted on our world have to be taught to your readers so they understand this new world. First off, however, you have to know your new world. If you have not thought through things like politics, food production, waste removal, indigenous flora and fauna, mankind’s interaction with nature, different cultures, languages, history, etc. of your world, you will not be able to deal with them vividly and consistently, and your readers will feel like they have been led into a shaky house of cards instead of a beautiful, vibrant, living world. Unless you are writing a world so alien as to be nearly unrelatable to your audience, there will be some elements which will duplicate or approximate things in our own world. That point leads to the third area.

Know your reality. Go. Get out of the house. Travel. See sights. Dig ditches. Ride horses. Climb mountains. Fly in airplanes. Play with animals. Smell flowers. Touch trees. Go to a concert. Visit a bar. Walk the streets of a strange city at night (with safety in mind always of course). EXPERIENCE LIFE! There are going to be aspects of reality that cross over into your fantasy setting. How can you accurately set a scene in a bar if you have never been to a bar? How can you describe a riveting horseback ride cross country if you have never been on a horse? How can you describe the strange feeling of being surrounded by people who don’t speak your language and whose language you don’t speak unless you travel? Imagination only goes so far, and authors who try to write about real-life things that they haven’t personally experienced, will NOT pass the “sniff-test” of discerning readers who have had those experiences. If you do not make chances to get out of your writing studio or home or wherever you have settled and experience life, then you will not be able to realistically write about the world. Again, however, with us possibly writing about things we either economically can’t afford to experience or physically have no chance to experience, how do we do that? On to the next point.

Know your contacts. Do not be afraid to find and seek out the experts to get realistic answers to your questions. I cannot stress enough how poorly “winging it” is going to come off in your writing to readers who do know the reality of what you do not. If you are writing an alternate history where things diverged in WWII, talk to veterans. Talk to folks who lived through that time. Retirement homes are filled with people who have all the time in the world to talk to you and who would love nothing better than to tell you their stories. Most people don’t realize the wealth of information our elders have that we just don’t normally take the time to tap into. I have such a vivid picture in my mind of what WWII was like because when I was younger I used to cut lawns for several WWII veterans, and after the work was done they almost always would invite me to pull up a lawn chair, grab a glass of lemonade and just talk. I have a vivid notion of life on a battleship during Korea from my father. My own stories often involved horses, so while I have ridden horses before, I don’t know all the ins-and-outs of care and feeding of horses, but my brother and sister-in-law own a horse farm, so they are my “equine consultants” when I come up with horse-related questions outside my knowledge. While I have a perfunctory knowledge of Hebrew, I use Hebrew as a basis for one of the languages of my fantasy races, so my friend and fellow writer Zerubbabel Emunah, an expert in Hebrew language and culture, has been an invaluable resource for my research.

Remember, writing a book is more than just sitting down to a keyboard and pouring out your imagination on paper. Writing realistically requires reading (a lot!) and researching and tapping into resources and networking and worldbuilding. Producing quality fiction takes effort, but for the authors willing to put in the time and energy to do all that is possible to “know what you write”, it will be very clear to your readers that you are an author they can rest assured will “write what you know”.
Blessings,
Rev. David G. Johnson

David G. Johnson is an author and teacher with a BA in Asian Studies and a MDiv in Bibilcal Languages who currently resides overseas with his family serving as teachers and living witnesses of their faith. David has been an avid Fantasy and Science Fiction fan for over thirty years and has now turned his cross-cultural experience to the task of blending Fantasy fiction with a biblical worldview in this his speculative fiction series entitled Chadash Chronicles, which mixes the Fantasy storytelling elements of Chronicles of Narnia with the personal spiritual journey elements of Pilgrim’s Progress.

Many people say that authors can’t or don’t do well with more than one genre. You say you are working on fantasy adventure, science fiction, noir detective stories and even have the plans for a steampunk book at some point. What do you think prepared you or qualifies you to write these different types of books?

Well the old adage for writers is to “write what you know”. I think what makes someone a better writer is first being an avid and voracious reader. I grew up on fantasy and sci-fi, so in a way I feel those genres are in my blood. Also growing up my parents loved to watch the old black and white movies and films like Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man all were part of my early exposure. I also love to read the noir masters like Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, so I am hoping to break into an homage to that genre with a series I am planning called the Nick O’Brien Case Files. As for the steampunk I have a degree in Asian Studies so while I don’t know much about Victorian England other than their interactions with China, I have quite an extensive knowledge of Chinese history during that time period. I hope to bridge that gap and write a steampunk genre novel set in Qing Dynasty China. That is still a good ways off, though, as other projects are ahead of this one.

Tell us a little about your “real” (Non-writing) life — family, job, church life. Does it give you inspiration for your writing? Does it get in the way of your writing, or are there times when you get help, from people or circumstances?

Well, my family and I currently serve overseas in a closed country in Asia as missionaries. A “closed country” is one where missionaries are not officially allowed. As such, we have a normal platform which allows us to stay in country. I teach English at a small school working as a speaking and listening coach. In exchange for a few work hours per week we get visas to legally be in the country. What we do on our own time then is up to us, and we simply choose to spend our spare time in Bible study. I definitely feel living in another culture has helped me be much more poignantly aware of things which might otherwise go unnoticed. As such, when my characters cross cultures this helps me tremendously to paint a realistic picture, pointing out details that readers may not even have thought about being different in another culture.

Tell us about things you enjoy — what you do for fun or personal satisfaction.

Not to sound too cliché, but writing is what I enjoy. When all the work is caught up, my wife and daughter are out for a ladies day out, and I have several uninterrupted hours just to sit behind the keyboard and write, it is like a mini-vacation. I travel to other worlds, to other times and get to be a part of creating amazing adventures. What could possibly be more fun than that?

Tell us about working with any people who help you create your books — Do you use Beta readers? Hire an editor or proofreader? How do you get your covers?

Well my debut novels, the first two, are going through a traditional publisher, so there is a cover team working on those. I do use Beta readers. One struggle for me was finding a way to balance my love of teaching God’s truth as a minister and writing the fiction that I so enjoy. God gave me an idea for the first series, so I am running with that, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t, in my zeal to create a great story, lose sight of biblical truth or write something blatantly contrary to Scripture. To that end, I asked a group of fellow ministers and missionaries to be my beta readers. They read along, chapter by chapter as I write, and point out to me not only grammatical or plot issues but also if there are any places where they feel I may have gotten a little far from Scripture with something I have presented. They have given me a great peace of mind, freeing me to let go and just write.

Have you done anything writing-related, but besides your books, that seemed to get a lot of positive response? Something that encouraged you?

I used to, many years ago, belong to an online group of poets. That was a challenging time in my life, but it was great to push myself and become expressive in verse rather than prose. I have a good number of poems I wrote during those times. In fact, one of the poems I wrote way back then was the main inspiration for my debut fantasy series and is featured at the beginning of the first book.

Tell us about your newest book. Make us want to read it.

Chadash Chronicles Book One: Fool’s Errand and Book Two: Mystic’s Mayhem will be available by the end of 2013 from Tate Publishing. These books combine the fantasy elements of Chronicles of Narnia with the personal spiritual journey elements of Pilgrim’s Progress. That may sound boastful, and I am not at all comparing myself to these authors, merely that I tried in this series to capture these elements from these two great works. C.S. Lewis was a great writer and we all love Narnia, but I feel he didn’t go far enough espousing the Christian themes, and there is really no sense of any spiritual journey in the stories. Pilgrim’s Progress certainly has an amazingly clear spiritual journey, but the thickness of the allegory can put some readers off. By emphasizing the importance of the spiritual journey elements, and wrapping them in an exciting and engaging fantasy adventure, my hope is that these novels create a blend of these elements which is both edifying spiritually as well as entertaining intellectually.

What is the “message” of your writing? (For example, is your purpose to encourage old-fashioned values, encourage romance, or do you have different purposes in different books?)

My target audience, truth be told, are readers of sci-fi and fantasy who are unbelievers. I came to Christ late in life, and I grew up with the stereotypes usually laid upon youth who love these genres. Sadly these stereotypes are often propagated by “Christians” who would sooner write off these youth as satanic or deranged because they love to read stories about wizards and dragons. I want to write an engaging story but also to put within that story characters who epitomize what true Christians should be like in their interactions with unbelievers. As a secondary effect, I hope that Christian readers will use these books like a mirror to put themselves into the Christian point of view characters and ask, “Is that how I would have handled that situation?” I hope to model through these characters that Christians are not perfect, but if we are truly walking in love, this is what it might look like.

Tell us one place you visited or person you met, that made a big impression on you, and why.
I would say the person I have been most impressed by meeting would have to be Reverend Justin Peters. Justin has an itinerate speaking ministry where he travels around giving talks and conferences on biblical discernment. Justin suffers from Cerebral Palsy and is almost completely confined to a wheelchair now, yet he does not let this stop him from traveling and teaching the word of God, especially as it pertains to biblical discernment. Not only have I learned a great deal from hearing Justin speak, but I have been personally inspired by his commitment to continue teaching the word of God despite a condition which many people would use as an excuse to retire from society. I pray as age takes over and parts of me stop working like they used to, that I will continue my commitment to my calling just as Justin has.

Tell us one place you want to visit, or person you want to meet, and why.

I would love to go to England/Scotland/Ireland on a castle tour. I write about castles and knights and while I take my research seriously, I am so much a visual person. I have visited the fortress of Suomenlinna in Helsinki, Finland, and have walked on the Great Wall in China and those were great fun and very instructive. I think, however, the ability to walk through, to touch and see and fully experience real medieval European castles, not just their construction but the design of the keeps, walls, towers, towns, etc would be an invaluable aid to my fantasy writing.

Share something that makes you laugh, with just plain humor, or happiness, or because it’s so stupid.

I’m an odd bird with an odd sense of humor. To me a good pun is worth its weight in gold.

Share something that’s amazing, touching, or that makes you angry.

I don’t know if “angry” is the right word, but something that I think is the most disappointing or discouraging thing we have faced working in ministry is encountering Christians in crisis who are seeking for answers. In response, as a good minister, you sit down patiently with them and go through all the Bible has to say about their current dilemma. They fully acknowledge understanding God’s direction or instruction about the situation. The politely thank you and then go out and do the exact opposite of what God has instructed. I really have a lot of trouble knowing what to feel at that point. Pity? Disappointment? Discouragement? Self-doubt at my own shepherding ability? It is definitely one of the hardest things we have faced in ministry.

What’s the worst trouble you ever had with getting a book written (plots, finding needed information, getting a cover done)?

Wow, this is a painful question. I am experiencing it right now. I am no more than a few chapters from finishing the third book in the Chadash Chronicles series, but these other ideas for the next couple of projects down the line are eating me alive. I keep finding myself sitting down at the computer intending to wrap up the next chapter when whamo I am on a research site looking up things for the next book. Distraction and desire to see all the projects I talked about above come to fruition is probably the biggest struggle with settling down and finishing one thing before moving on to the next.

What’s your next project? Tell us so we can’t wait for it to come out!

Well as I said I am finishing book three of the Chadash Chronicles. We will see how things go with the first two books and I will let that decide whether book three comes out from the same publisher, or if I shop it maybe to one of the bigger names in fantasy fiction, or if I take the road of self-publishing. Once that one is complete, though, the project I am so excited about starting is going to be a science fiction/superheroes series. I am planning to write it as pretty hard-science sci-fi as much as possible, i.e. at this point only humans in the known galaxy, first extrasolar colony ship, no three-headed aliens or light-speed drives but incorporating the real scientific challenges to manned missions outside our solar system. Well something goes wrong in flight and some small percentage of the terraforming colonists wind up with enhanced abilities. The story will have multiple levels. One will be how the colony deals suddenly with people who are very different, even “better” in some way than themselves, and the human-natured prejudice and fear which will ensue there. Second will be Earth’s reaction and how to deal with an outlying colony that in some part isn’t fully, or more accurately isn’t merely, human anymore. Third will be the faith aspect as characters of faith struggle to deal with their own questions as well as counsel others through this challenging adaptation to life. And of course, there will be super-villains and super-powered battles too, can’t leave that out, right?

Let me just say in parting I appreciate you asking to interview me and giving me the chance to let folks know about the projects I have coming out. Thank you so much for this excellent opportunity and I pray the Lord continues to bless you in all your work.

Chadash Chronicles Book One: Fool’s Errand and Book Two: Mystic’s Mayhem are now available.

You can find David’s missionary blog at: http://2th31.blogspot.com

and his author page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DavidGlennJohnson

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The Training Place of Mankind; God’s Creation Explained For Normal Folk by David Bergsland A Book Review by Michael J. Findley

I have read several books by this author and enjoy both his writing style and the content of his works. But I must admit that I am not part of the target audience; Normal Folk. No one has ever accused me of being “normal.”
On my android 7″ ebook reader, type set to 100%, this is an eighty page book. According the author and the title, our brief life on earth is a training place. The table of contents and all links work. While a table of contents and working links is something you might just expect, sadly many ebooks fail in these simple basics. Our daughter, an elementary school teacher, believes this is one of the best book covers she has ever seen.
This is an overview of mankind on earth, from the original creation to the New Heavens and the New Earth. It does not cover every topic I would like, but in such a brief work that is simply not possible.
If you have never looked at an overview of God’s Word, or you know someone like this, this book is a must read. If you know someone who is curious about the Bible but has never read it, then this book is a must read for them.
It is both an easy, enjoyable read and introduces most major topics of the Word of God in a single book. Not to mislead anyone; this is neither a theology book nor a Bible Doctrines overview. More than half of this brief book is devoted to the book of Genesis, creation, the flood, the birth of civilization and the beginning of the Jewish nation.
The three plus pages titled So what happened to science? and My point is this: creationism is basic to Christianity are very important points that are both brief and thorough. The creation week: 4,000 B.C. might just be the best nine-page overview of the creation week available.
This book looks at the Bible from a very Gentile perspective. The central chapter, The pivot of history: Jesus assumes that the reader is not even familiar with the most basic information about the Messiah. Sadly, that is probably a valid assumption and makes it so necessary. Many pastors I talk to would likely find the basic information in this book a real eye opener. That is so sad.
The book concludes with Israel is Transformed and The end of creation. He explains prophecy with science to examine what the earth’s future will be like.
Once again, it does not answer everything. But it is a great eye opener for anyone not familiar with the Word of God.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Training-Place-Mankind-ebook/dp/B00B7VY58E/

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“Stolen” from Brad Francis, who doesn’t do reviews … The ‘Pprentices, the Puppets, the Pirates and the Potboiler

This post originally came from Christ, Fiction, and Video Games, the blog and online home of Brad Francis. Sorry, I didn’t manage to preserve all the links, but you can find them in his post linked below. Thank, you, Brad!

http://christfictionandvideogames.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-pprentices-puppets-pirates-and.html

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ask me what sort of books I like to read.

Go ahead, ask. I’m giving you permission. We don’t have to do some big interview thing. I know you’re curious and I want to share, so go ahead and ask.
 
Of course, if it’s a really good book, I may not even
feel worth of holding it with my hands.
You: Hi, Brad! What sort of books do you like to read?
Me: Hi, Reader! Thanks for asking! The answer is good books. That’s what I like to read. Seriously, if a book is bad, I probably won’t enjoy it. But if it’s good? I honestly don’t care about the plot or the genre; I enjoy reading good books!
It’s possible that this is a bit on the subjective side. I don’t read all genres equally. I don’t read erotica, for instance, and I rarely read Norwegian graphic novels, what with not speaking Norwegian and all. I usually don’t tend toward full-blown romances, although I enjoy romance in books if it’s well done. I would even argue that Nick Hornby, one of my all-time favorite authors, tends to write romance for guys. At least, his books often have a lot of romance in them, but all from a male perspective—and not those lumberjack type that women go for either, but real guys like me. Oh, and I would probably classify Frank Peretti’s most recent novel, Illusion, a romance as much as it is anything else, and I greatly enjoyed that book (as I tend to do with Peretti).
My point is that I honestly can’t tell if I’m going to like a book simply based on the genre. I like to branch out and, as a writer, I think that it’s beneficial for me to read a wide range of authors and genres. I think it’s beneficial for all of us to branch out at least a bit, I think. It makes us more well-rounded and maybe even  a bit better to deal with the myriad of different types of people we encounter in life.
Still, if you were to corner me at a Schlotzsky’s and demand to know whether I enjoyed reading steampunk literary tribute novels, I probably wouldn’t start jumping on a coach and start yelling about my love for the books to Oprah.
 
This should clear up any confusion.
But I need to be true to my philosophy, you recall, and I just literally said two paragraphs ago that I can’t tell if I’m going to like a book based on the genre. Based on the cover? Absolutely. But not the genre.
And, honestly, steampunk literary tribute novel is a pretty weird niche little genre, isn’t it? I don’t even think it gets its own bookcase at Barnes and Noble. If I asked you whether you read steampunk literary tribute novels, you’d probably say no, adding perhaps that you haven’t even heard of steampunk literary tribute novels and possibly looking about for a police officer in case the strange bearded author started to get violent.
But here’s the thing: I only get violent with authors I interview. And, even then, it’s only the threat of violence.
Oh, and here’s the other thing: I understand if you’ve never heard of a steampunk literary tribute novel before. But if you let that little fact stop you from reading the book I just finished, your world will be a little less rich than it could have been.
Longtime visitors to this blog have heard of this obscure little book category before, as one of my favorite interviews ever featured the author of such a story, Sophronia Belle Lyon. We spoke at that time about the first steampunk literary tribute novel I had ever heard of, much less read. It was called A Dodge, a Twist and a Tobacconist and I genuinely enjoyed it. The story brought together a slew of characters from authors as varied as Jane AustenCharles DickensRudyard Kipling and others to fight crime and shut down a human trafficking ring run by a mysterious figure somewhere in the shadows. Even though I’ll sheepishly admit that I hadn’t read all the classic novels that inspired the book, the great writing, exciting plot and well-developed characters drew me in and kept me hooked. I had a few minor quibbles that tempered my enjoyment of the book a bit, but I was eagerly awaiting the sequel, and Ms. Lyon knew it.
 
This is…not the cover to The ‘Pprentices,
the Puppets and the Pirate. 
This is
just an original working title that
the author was once considering and
I really loved it and this is my
blog so it’s here again!
Well, the sequel is here. It’s called The ‘Pprentices, the Puppets, and the Pirates and it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Sophronia Belle Lyon is a master storyteller who excels at her craft. I don’t care whether you think a steampunk literary tribute novel would be your cup of tea or not; you should read this book because it is a great story, well told and full of adventure, romance and intrigue.
I read a lot. I read a lot because I love reading, but also because I’m a writer and it’s very important for writers to read and because I’m a blogger who likes to interview authors and talk about books here. I have never, in my professional career, officially endorsed another book before. I’m endorsing this one. Let’s throw the Christ, Fiction and Video Games Book Club stamp on this baby and throw it back into the pond and see how quickly it tops the New York Times bestseller list. This is one of those times in my life where it would be convenient to be Oprah.
My favorite character from the first book in the series, Oliver Twist, is front and center for this one (I might also point out that I really love Dickens and so I felt a certain affinity toward Twist from his original story as well). Everybody’s favorite orphan (with all apologies to Annie) has grown to be a master inventor, and there are indications that his old mentor may be involved in the trafficking from the first book—and worse. This is a story about rebirth, redemption and the fact that no one is beyond the love of God.
For me, reading The ‘Pprentices, the Puppets, and the Pirates was a bit like taking a creative writing course. It was a delight to see how all the different pieces of the story fit together, and I took great joy in joining Twist and his teammates through their well-crafted story in the same way you might love listening to an album where the songs build on and enhance each other or seeing how a masterful television show tells its story on many different levels throughout the seasons.
 
Of course, it goes without saying that
Oprah endorses all of my books AND
Sophronia’s books. It goes without saying
because it’s not true…but that’s just a detail.
Another of my favorite authors is JK Rowling, in part because I love how many different story elements she brought full-circle throughout the series, how a minor detail in the first Harry Potter book could recur in a brilliant, unexpected way in the sixth or seventh. Sorry if I’ve lost some of you. There was so much of this going on in theHarry Potter books that it didn’t all work, but when it did? I love that stuff, and it’s why Jo Rowling is one of my all-time favorite storytellers. Plotwise, Sophronia Belle Lyon’sAlexander Legacy series has absolutely nothing to do with Rowling’s fantasy novels. But you strip away all the detail, all the twists and risks and successes, and what you have in both cases are natural born storytellers, weaving tales full of memorable characters. Lyon could release a novella about Oliver Twist and Phoebe Moore-Campbell making a BLT sandwich and I’d write it because I know it would be a fine example of storycraft, just as millions would rush out and buy Harry Potter and the Trip to Costco were it to be released.
 
You can buy Death Eaters in bulk here!
Like I said, I love great stories. In The ‘Pprentices, the Puppets, and the Pirates, Sophronia Belle Lyon gives us a great story. I heartily recommend it. I realize I may be setting the bar of expectations unreasonably high, and that’s not my intention, but if you sit down with this book, sit back and let it entertain and tell its tale, I can’t imagine you being disappointed.
I don’t care if you join the legions of steampunk literary tribute novel fans or not. But I do think you should become a fan of Ms. Lyon. I don’t think she’ll let you down.
Posted by at 10:05 PM

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Book Review: The Narrow Gate: How to Thrive During the Great Falling Away by David Bergsland

The Narrow Gate

David Bergsland neither contacted me nor does he know me. In order to be honest, he reviewed our book Antidisestablishmentarianism, a book as long as 3 or 4 doctoral dissertations. For that I feel a great moral obligation to review not just one, but several of David Bergsland’s book. This influence, though considerable, is the only influence he has over me.

To begin, the topic is after my own heart, though I am writing on other topics and have no time for this subject. David Bergsland has biographical information on twitter, Amazon and Smashwords. He has a facebook page and blog as well as a twitter account.

As someone who writes massive books, I greatly appreciate a smaller work that I can read in less than an afternoon. Ten different English translations of the Word of God are used and properly documented.

The opening chapter states; “The way the church teaches, the gate is not very narrow. There are several common practices in the modern church that seem to provide a wide open gate. But it is an illusion. That gate is narrow.” He supports this position with Scripture.

Though he is not a Baptist, he takes the Baptist position on Baptism. “Baptism is not a magic act of power. It is the result of an adult decision.” He also says, “there is no evidence that baptism provides salvation, it is a ceremonial event of public proclamation and a ritual of cleansing.”

“If you have any personal concerns about whether your baptism was real or not, get dunked-as in fully immersed-as an adult.”

This next issue he brings up I personally believe has destroyed the modern Church in America and England. “How many people do you know who came down front to an altar call (especially at a large crusade), prayed the sinner’s prayer, and nothing happened?”

“The most common figures are that somewhere between 6% and 10% of people who come down for an altar call become church members.

As we will talk about in a bit, becoming a church member has little to do with entering the Kingdom of God. There are no statistics about true conversions resulting from an altar call. It may be only a percent or two.”

My concern is that most of these “altar calls” actually inoculate against the gospel. I do not see David Bergsland drawing this conclusion. It is my own.

“I’m not sure what to do with this modern phenomenon [of mega-churches]. I’ve never been a part of one which truly preached the Gospel.” I can truly amen that statement.

“The megachurches I’ve attended were major problems and more like a cancerous tumor than healthy growth.”

“The only megachurch is scripture was the church at Jerusalem and God scattered that one.”

David Bergsland then changes to God’s standards, not our mistaken beliefs. “The gate is quite a bit narrower than we are commonly taught.”

As David Bergsland points out, we do not want to hear “Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.” Because “many will seek to enter and will not be able.”

The horrifying part is  “This is a limited time offer,” to use a modern advertising slogan. As David Bergsland points out, that in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the Church age will end. And what happens next will have little resemblance to the Left Behind series.

Jesus had the most problems with “the heavily involved, defenders of doctrine, self-righteous hypocrites” who go to church constantly, “helping to set policy, zealously watching for infractions, and running the church.”

The next great sin engulfing the American Church is lawlessness. David Bergsland uses pages of examples to back up his belief that the modern American church will both welcome and help to usher in the government of the Anti-Christ.

David Bergsland next deals with the problem of knowing the information of the Scriptures without knowing God or having the power of God. This builds on the earlier points and is the core of the book.

He also extends the Biblical parallel of the family. That is how we instruct children and how God instructs us.

The Scriptures, music, worship, communion, community interaction and fellowship can all be used to replace, as substitutes for the true relationship with Christ Jesus.

Probably the most important point is that “This type of relationship takes time.” The baby/parent relationship is “good for the baby-not so good for the parent.”

The last section of this book is a number of very helpful illustrations and person experiences.

It is a very short, easy read on a very important topic. You can easily read this in less time than a morning Church Service. I highly recommend this. It certainly stands out among modern Christian books which are, for the most part, not worth reading.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Narrow-Gate-David-Bergsland/dp/147823279X

 Image of David Bergsland

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Review of Pharmacia: Those Magic Arts: Revelation Special Ops, book 2 (Volume 2)

Pharmacia: Those Magic Arts (Revelation Special Ops)
I read the first book in this series and have been looking forward to the second. Yates has some wonderful characters. This story changes points of view several times since the Special Ops team is scattered around — Babylon, Jerusalem, and locations in Russia. Matt’s experiences should drive readers to prayer because his ordeal is not so different from what persecuted believers are undergoing right now. Hadassah’s friendship with a Russian “princess” is beyond bittersweet.

Once again, the team’s efforts are bathed in prayer. A discussion about the way God sometimes handles our prayer requests for healing and miracles makes the book worth the read all by itself. But you will also get to breathe scented gold, clean up after fighting dinosaurs, and see firsthand what a mother will do when her child is in danger, when that mother used to be Mossad.

http://www.amazon.com/Pharmacia-Those-Revelation-Special-ebook/dp/B008P7U3RA

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So, What Is a Book Review Anyway?

From iAuthor's official Facebook page

The last book review I did brought up some interesting questions about a book review. Book reviews are different from most other forms of writing in several ways.

First, whether a book review is printed in a print magazine, newspaper or electronically in a blog or on facebook, the first few lines will be printed with the title. These become your “ad.” The first few lines must be interesting enough to click on the “more” or link or turn the page. These lines must generate enough interest that the reader will invest more time in reading the rest of the review.

Second, compared to a term paper, you already have the thesis statement laid out for you. It always is “you should/should not read this book because…” A skillful writer might turn this “because” into a separate thesis statement which will be the last sentence of the first paragraph.

Third, no matter how much I want to go on about War and Peace, book reviews must be brief. Concentrate on a few points which you believe to be the most important and focus on these points. Use some brief quotes from the work to prove your point and support your conclusions.

Fourth, the best books have weaknesses, except for the Bible, and the worst books have strong points we can all learn from. Include some of each.

Fifth, have a strong conclusion. If you can discern what it is, attempt to show what the author’s point is. Then draw your own conclusion as to why this book should or should not be read. A good book review will not have time for a summary.

 

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