Monthly Archives: September 2016

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Last Year’s Resolution (novel)

Available at Amazon and Barnes&Noble.com

A couple weeks before Solitaire High School’s winter break, Eddie stopped by for a quick talk followed by a question and answer session with the students.  The school enrolled about a hundred and fifty kids, who all gathered in the gymnasium with the administration and faculty after lunch.

The principal introduced him as, “Mr. Edmund Stovender, the most talented writer of his generation,” an epithet that embarrassed him but succeeded in rousing the attention of the distracted students.  After speaking for half an hour about his childhood in Iowa, his love of books as a teenager, his early career, and the lessons he’d learned from his novels, he concluded on a note of encouragement, stressing the importance of faith and perseverance in one’s quest for achievement in any field.  “Does anyone have any questions?”

A young lady in the second to last row raised her hand.  “Hi, Mr. Stovender, my name is Margaret, my friends call me Marge.  What are you working on now, if you don’t mind telling us?”

“Oh, not at all.  It’s a new type of project for me, a medieval science fiction novel about a space knight, Sir Remo Daggenthorp, who travels the galaxy protecting civilizations from attacks by various plagues, predators, invasions, and things.  It’s kind of a metaphor for my own spiritual journey.  Who’s next?  You there in the red hat.”

“How much money you got?”

“Excuse me,” said one of the teachers, “do you mind elaborating on your last statement?  How exactly is that a metaphor for your spiritual life?”

“Sure, sure.  Well, it’s no secret that there’s a war happening right now, in our country, the world, and the universe, and like any good human I’m trying to do my part to crush the devil.  Good vs. evil, Light vs. dark, Love vs. hate, you know how it goes.  ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’”

“Are the aliens like the locusts from the Book of Revelation?” asked a young man in the first row.

“Not necessarily, although there is a species of mutant condor from the planet Taldrathon which bears certain similarities.  No, I think of the alien invaders as evil influences, such as hatred, anger, jealousy, lust, greed, carelessness, unrighteous fear, anything that threatens our peace and safety here…  Including the monsters from Revelation, of course.”

“My neighbor saw one on the roof of the Makermart last week.  He said it was big, and had giant knife-teeth.”  A number of students gasped.

“It’s alright,” he said, “don’t worry about the hell creatures.  They can not touch us who have faith.  Are there any more questions?”

“How long have you been married to Ms. Altnikov?”

He laughed nervously, “Actually, Marie and I aren’t technically married in the official legal sense of the word, although we do plan to marry soon, at some point.  With all the fire and wrath this past summer it’s been difficult to set a date—”

“Christmas,” called Marie, and the students turned and looked.

“Sorry, what?”

“You and me, let’s get married on Christmas.”  Shrieks and laughter arose from the crowd.

“Okay, if you wish.  Christmas Day.  And you’re all invited,” he raised his voice as they broke into cheers and applause.  “Everyone in Solitaire is invited!”

Ed-dee, Ed-dee, Ed-dee, Ed-dee…”  They clapped and cheered as he walked over to hug Marie and kiss her cheek on his way out.

“Thank you, students,” he waved from the door.  “God bless you all, and God bless America.”

*         *         *

A few days before the wedding she interrupted one of his writing sessions to see if he wanted to go sledding.  “Marie, check this out, come here.”  On the desk lay an open Bible, an open magazine, and Eddie’s phone with words on the screen.

“What is this, research?”

“Sort of.  Not for the book though.  Listen to this, Revelation, Chapter 22:  ‘In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month.  The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.  They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.’

“Okay, now listen to this, this is from a story by Vladimir Nabokov they published in The New Yorker a while back:  ‘Embracing my shoulders for an instant with his dovelike wings, the angel pronounced a single word, and in his voice I recognized all those beloved, those silenced voices.  The word he spoke was so marvelous that, with a sigh, I closed my eyes and bowed my head still lower.  The fragrance and the melody of the word spread through my veins, rose like a sun within my brain; the countless cavities within my consciousness caught up and repeated its lustrous edenic song.’

“Now, last one, here are the last two verses of John Newton’s ‘Amazing Grace’:  ‘The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, the sun forbear to shine, but God, who called me here below, will be forever mine.  When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’ve first begun.’”  He took a deep breath and smiled up at her.

“I thought you were working on Nebulaic Stormrider today.”

“I was, I got sidetracked.  Did you follow my reading?  I think the name of God we receive in the New Jerusalem is going to be like the word in Nabokov’s story, a word of eternal praise to Christ, like John Newton describes, having no boundaries in time or space, and by receiving that name on our foreheads it’s like we merge with Him, and we become eternal too, like divine Light or Spirit.”

“Sure sounds nice,” she nodded.

“It’s better than nice,” he laughed.  “It’s…  Perfection.”

“Right, perfection.  So how about it?  You, me, a couple plastic tubs, and a hill full of frozen water.  Sound good?”

“You wanna race me?”

“Pshhh, you know I’m gonna race you.”

Eddie stared intensely at her.  “You wanna race me?”

She bent down so her face was directly in front of his.  “You know I’m gonna race you.”

*         *         *

The days leading up to Christmas were busy and stressful with wedding preparations.  Both the ceremony and reception would take place at the highest point in Solitaire, the rooftop of the Makermart Superstore.  He paid the tent people and the superstore people an extra twenty-five thousand each and hired the staff of the hardware department to stake an orange safety fence around the roof’s perimeter.  He and Marie agreed to spend Christmas Eve apart, so he slept in the guest room of Frank Drummond’s house.  Frank was the town sheriff.

 

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Warzone: Nemesis (Book Review)

Available at Amazon and Barnes&Noble.com

A skillfully written, action-packed science fiction novel about the undisclosed truth of the space race, Warzone: Nemesis documents the fight between Russia and the U.S. for alloy-x, an element that could revolutionize space engine technology.  The battle scenes are descriptive and expertly crafted, the characters intriguing and vividly authentic, and overall the story is highly imaginative.  Graham’s writing is at once unique and easily readable, and the novel an extraordinary accomplishment.

Summary:  This is the seventh edition of Warzone: Nemesis, which opens the files of the top-secret war for space, hidden behind the facade of a decades-long cold war between super-powers.  The wrecks of two alien spaceships, and the larger disaster behind the wrecks, gives both the USSR and the USA the rudiments of space travel, and access to the element known only as alloy-x, the key to the interplanetary engines.  Elite fighters recruited anonymously from Special Forces units join the battle between the two countries for supremacy in space, waged on the Moon, on Mars, and on the moons of the outer planets.  To their planet, these men are dead, their histories erased from the record.  Identified only by call signs, they engage in a life-and-death struggle far beyond the view of the public.  Warzone: Nemesis is an action-packed opening novel to the Warzone series, a richly-detailed read for lovers of science-fiction and military fiction alike.  Contrasting ideologies bring the underlying similarities between the commanders on both sides into sharp focus, adding depth to the story, and the levels of research that have gone into the book are clearly visible in the meticulous description of locales and technologies.  Morris E. Graham creates comprehensive battle strategies and interesting psychological twists to keep the battles, and the story, moving along, while touching on some of the many ethical dilemmas that any war brings into the open.

Title:  Warzone: Nemesis (A Novel of Mars)
Author:  Morris E. Graham
Paperback:  322 pages
Publisher:  Morris\Graham; 1 edition (March 4, 2013)
Language:  English
ISBN-10:  0615862985
ISBN-13:  978-0615862989
Category:  Science Fiction

 

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Letter to the Colossians

From Intended Consequences
Amazon and Barnes&Noble.com

Saint Paul’s Letter to the church in Colossae, Turkey, stands out from his other Epistles in its tranquility.  Because he is writing in response to the good report of Epaphras, the Saint who shared the Gospel with the Colossians, and from whom came to Paul no news of destructive conflicts among them, the Letter emphasizes peace, freedom, and unity in Christ, and retains an air of relaxed forward progress.  Following his standard greeting he writes:  “In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.  You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the Gospel that has come to you.  Just as it has been bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God.” (Colossians 1:3-6)

Transitioning from commending the new church’s faith to the eternal significance of God’s work, he states with finality the result of what Jesus accomplished on the Cross.  “He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col 1:13-4)  The priorities of Saint Paul’s mission shine through more easily in this Letter since he doesn’t have to address any specific dysfunctions in the church.  Instead he eloquently builds up the people’s faith by conveying a picture of wholeness of the body of Christ as it’s meant to operate.  Paul’s personal mission is the instruction of new believers for the purpose of a righteous and healthy Church.  “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.  For this I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires within me.” (Col 1:27-9)

Even though this is mainly a Letter of encouragement he makes sure to warn them of a possible danger, that of letting worldly traditions and systems of thought hinder the purity of one’s relationship with God.  “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ.  For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority…  And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands.  He set this aside, nailing it to the Cross.  He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.” (Col 2:8-10, 13-5)

For the early Church, the Cross and Resurrection changed everything.  Life as they knew it had ended and a new glorious existence had begun.  For the first time ever the world had seen the person of God in the flesh, one of the Holy Trinity offered freely in sacrifice to liberate humanity from sin and death, and now they’d been tasked with establishing a community based on that good news.  Paul anchors them to the reality of union with God in heaven while reinforcing this connection through the hope of the Lord’s return.  “So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.” (Col 3:1-4)

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.  Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other, just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col 3:12-7)