Tag Archives: Christianity

Last Year’s Resolution, Ch. 12

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.

 

Fiction, Poems, and Essays

Available at Amazon and Barnes&Noble.com

Four novellas, a short story collection, and selected poems and essays comprise this book.  The novellas focus on the lives of protagonists in their teens and twenties who face and overcome impossible, though adventurous, challenges.  The stories and poems reveal aspects of life and nature in unique and inspiring ways, from perspectives centered on Christian faith.  The essays discuss a wide range of topics while blending humor, history, personal observations, and eternal truths of Scripture.

Robert Lampros is an author of Christian poetry, essays, and fiction.  He earned a Bachelor’s in English Literature from Washington University in St. Louis.  His books include Fits of TranquilityLast Year’s ResolutionUndivided Lines, and Soft on the Devil.

 

Lighter Side

Square stone tiles the color of white ash formed a rectangular grid on the second floor balcony of the food court at the Vibrant Valley mall.  Half of the tables had been collected and moved into storage for the winter, while the remaining twenty formed a dotted right triangle over the other half of the balcony, leaving a triangle of empty space outside the doors.  A dark-haired girl stood smoking in the corner opposite the staggered line of tables.

The soles of her shoes had started peeling away from the webbed fabric on the toes.  She’d only bought them two months ago, paid eighty dollars for them.  Her feet looked small inside the large square, almost like two hooves.  “They call me Goatgirl,” she whispered, letting smoke flow out the side of her mouth.  She smiled.  “Stop by the Vibrant Valley shopping mall from two to four today and see the amazing Goatgirl.  Watch her clop across the floor in worn-out tennis shoes.  Scratch between her horns and hear her say, ‘bah.’  Be careful, though, she will headbutt you.”  She dropped the cigarette and ground it out on the tile.

“I think you meant bleat,” said a voice as she passed the gap beside the automatic doors.

“Ahh!” she jumped, stumbling backwards.  “What the hell are you doing there?”

“I’m sorry,” he laughed.  The man wore all denim, a denim shirt, jeans, and a tight jean jacket.  His hair was silver and curly.  “I couldn’t help hearing you just now.  You said that goats bah.  Goats don’t bah, they bleat.”

“Alright,” she smiled, continued walking.  “Don’t make eye contact.”  The doors slid open and she stopped, walked backwards to where he was standing.  “What are you doing here?”

“I work here, at the music store.”

That’s where I’ve seen you.  Stocking cd’s at Javelin Records.”

“Guilty.  What are you doing here, Goatgirl?”

She thought for a moment.  “Killing time.”

“That’s rather impolite, don’t you think?”

“Eye for an eye,” she said.  “Time kills all of us, so…”

“Ah,” he laughed.

“Just returning the favor.”

“You don’t work here?”

“Nope.”

The droning hum and choral rush of cars on the highway filled the space in their conversation.  The girl’s expression conveyed sadness mixed with confusion, a perplexed melancholy, as she peered at the concrete, then back up at him, and nodded goodbye.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“Minette,” she told him.

“Well, Ninette, there’s an old—”

“No, Minette, with an ‘m.’  Like Minnie Mouse.”

“Well, Minnie Mouse, there’s an old Bob Dylan song, ‘Gotta Serve Somebody.’  It goes:  You may be an ambassador to England or France—”

“I don’t really like Bob Dylan.”

You may like to gamble, you might like to dance—”

“He’s a little before my time.”

You may be the heavyweight champion of the world—”

“And his voice sounds kind of… nasally.”

You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls,” the man sang in a low, bluesy baritone.

She started laughing.  “You’re a lunatic, aren’t you.”

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody,” he sang louder, “yes indeed, you’re gonna have to serve somebody.  Well it may be the devil, or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”  He punctuated the verse with a sky-splitting howl.

“You are… a true maniac,” she said, still laughing.  “What’s your name, Bob Dylan?”

“K.R.,” he bowed.  “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you, too.  I hate to break it to you, K.R., but I don’t believe in God or the devil, so that song doesn’t really apply to me.”

Glancing at the horizon, he asked, “What about your parents?  Do they believe?”

“My parents are from China.  They’re non-practicing Buddhists, I guess.”

“Brothers?  Sisters?”

“Solo Minette.”

“Well, Solo Minette, the force is with you, whether you believe in it or not.  Let me show you something.”  K.R. pushed off the wall he was leaning against.  “Creak,” he groaned, walking out from the cutout by the doors and across the empty side of the balcony.

“Where are you going?”

“Come on, Minette, join me by the railing for a moment.  I wish to impart some wisdom.”

Directly below the balcony, one of the mall’s main entrances stood at the vertex of a giant parabola opening out toward the parking lot.  The patio of an Italian café formed the left side of the arch, from where they were standing, and the psychedelic windows of an art gallery and supply store formed the right.  Shoppers approached from the lot a couple hundred feet away.

“Now humor me, please, Minette, and just observe these people for a minute.”

She stepped up to the railing, looked down at the shoppers.  A few teenage boys in a row, joking and laughing, not much younger than her.  An elderly woman digging around in her patchwork bag while she shuffled past the vibrant paintings in the art shop window.  A middle-aged married couple discussing something serious or troubling as they hurried inside.

“Okay.  What’s your point?”

K.R. stretched his hands over the railing, palms down.  “What do all these people have in common?”

“They have money.  I mean, they can afford to come and buy stuff, so they must have money.”

“Probably so,” he nodded.  “What else?”

“They’re all from Vibrant Valley?”

“No, you don’t know that,” he shook his head.  “They’re all alive, Minaret!”

“Are you high right now?  Seriously, did you just smoke like a bunch of pot?”

“No,” he grinned, “I don’t smoke anymore.  I’m trying to illustrate an important truth here.  Look,” he pointed at the hillside beyond the parking lot.  “You see that grass on the embankment?  It’s tan and dry, right, it’s dead.  Now look at the bushes down by the patio.  Green, lush, radiant.  They’re alive.  Do you see the contrast?”

“Yes.”

“It’s night and day, like the difference between seeing a dead person and a live one.  Have you ever seen a dead body?”

“My grandpa, when I was three.  I don’t remember it very clearly.  What’s your point, K.R., I’ve got loitering to do.”

“Life, child.  My point is life.  You said you didn’t believe in God.  I’m telling you that life is proof that there’s a God, life itself.”

Minette turned back toward the parking lot and the oncoming shoppers.  Their faces looked sullen and vacant now, their gestures cold and mechanical.  “War,” she said.  “Sickness, hatred, anger, jealousy, death…  If you ask me that’s proof there is no God, or if there ever was then it’s like that philosopher said, God is dead.”

“Friedrich Nietzsche.  I don’t think he meant that exactly.  God is the very source of life.  The source of life can’t die.  I’m tired.”  He walked a few paces to the nearest table and sat down.

She leaned forward with her arms crossed on the railing and slid down toward him.  “Are you married, K.R.?”

“No, ma’am, I am not.”

“You were, though.”

“Yes, ma’am, I was.”

Minette gasped.  “She’s not dead, is she?”

“Unfortunately not,” he laughed.

“What a diabolical thing to say.  There it is again.”

“There what is again?”

“Proof, that there isn’t a God.”

“How’s that?”

“Well,” she sat down beside him.  “You were married.  You proposed to…”

“Natalie.”

“You proposed to Natalie, she said yes, I presume, you walked down the aisle, spoke your vows to one another, till death do you part, you kissed each other, and so on, and however many years later, you broke up.  Did you get married in a church?”

“Our Lady of Peace.”

“A Catholic church no less.  So, if God brought you two together, why would He separate you?  Why would He let that happen?”

The sun had emerged from a screen of wispy clouds as she was talking.  K.R. had to squint in order to look at her.  “I asked Him the very same question.  Want to know what He said, Ms. Minnie?”

“God actually talks to you?  You really are a lunatic.”

“He answered by telling me He didn’t split us up, or even let us split up, and in His eyes we’ll always be married.  In the kingdom, that is.”

“But you’re divorced.”

“Yep, and she’s remarried.”

“How…?”  She raised her hands, shaking her head.

“It’s a great mystery, Minnarino.  I can tell you this, though.  Nothing that is loved is ever lost.  Wise man said that.  Peace out, little sister.”

“You’re leaving?”

“Cd’s to stock.  Bob Dylan cd’s,” he smiled back.  “Hey, maybe I can get you a job there.  What do you say?”

She thought for a moment, glanced down at her worn-out tennis shoes.  “Yeah, check and see, will you?”

“Come on then, Minaret.”

 

Intended Consequences–Essays

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From Intended Consequences:

Wishing

Perhaps the worst thing about living in Missouri is the distance from the ocean.  A thousand miles to the Atlantic and two thousand to the Pacific, the city of St. Louis sits securely landlocked in the middle of the Midwest.  You start to feel it too when summer begins, when the rising temperatures, blinding sun, and boiling air start prompting visions of crisp blue waves and white sand beaches, of running and diving into the surf, then stretching out and relaxing in the shade.  There are plenty of swimming pools around but it’s not the same, pools are crowded and boring compared to the sea, like playing with Hot Wheels instead of driving an actual car.  And the only way to get to the coast would be to fly there for a week and who has time for that?  So here I am, in a coffee shop in a mall, watching people drink iced coffee while I write a pointless essay about wanting to be somewhere else.

The last time I swam in the ocean was over fifteen years ago, my tenth grade spring break in Destin, Florida.  My friend’s grandparents had a house down the beach a couple miles from the hotels.  It was quiet, and at night if you walked down to the water and listened to the waves rushing over the sand you felt alone and content in a universe as infinite as the ocean is mysterious, the moonlit waves drawing back and back and back into rolling darkness.  One night at 3am or so I awoke and went down to sit by the water, and for no reason at all jumped up and ran figure eights in the sand, as fast as I could, until I couldn’t breathe and collapsed on the beach with burning lungs.  Not sure why I did that—I think it had something to do with freedom.

Another memory from the trip took place a hundred yards out from shore, nothing tragic, no shark attack or near-death drowning, just a feeling of staring out at the horizon, faintly sinking and rising, melting with the sky, and feeling close to God.  Moments like those rarely happened to me back then and I didn’t recognize what it was at the time, but now I know it was Christ reaching down to bless me, to let me know as a kind of bread crumb that He loves me, that God watches over us, even when we don’t believe, and with Him is complete and radiant joy.  Everything fused in that second on a raft off the coast of Destin, and since then there’s been nowhere else I’d rather go to get away for a while, away from dry land, from routine, and from real life.

Walt Whitman wrote a poem entitled, “As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life,” about walking the edge of Long Island and feeling humbled and inadequate.  The poem begins:  “As I ebb’d with the ocean of life/As I wended the shores I know/As I walk’d where the ripples continually wash you Paumanok/Where they rustle up hoarse and sibilant/Where the fierce old mother endlessly cries for her castaways/I musing late in the autumn day, gazing off southward/Held by this electric self out of the pride of which I utter poems/Was seiz’d by the spirit that trails in the lines underfoot/The rim, the sediment that stands for all the water and all the land of the globe.”

Whitman uses the Native American name, Paumanok, for Long Island, the place of his birth.  I wonder if the Native Americans had a name for St. Louis.  If they did it probably had something to do with rivers.

 

Brotherhood

One of my church brothers told me a while ago that we have to treat every day like it’s Day 1.  It made sense then with what was happening in my life and I remember this statement from time to time when the cares of the world start weighing on me.  Regardless of our progress in any area of life, our families, work, friendships, spiritual growth, there’s an open invitation to help other people out, and when we make that our goal and pursue different ways to help others, new doors open up and new opportunities present themselves.

Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail talks about brotherhood in idyllic and majestic terms.  He so exalts the idea it seems that if he had one dying wish, he’d ask for all Americans to live as brothers and sisters, bonded by love, securely able to withstand social turbulence and survive whatever conflicts arise with a foundational, brotherly love intact.  Dr. King dreamt of such a place, of one national family.  The late Sixties weren’t so different from today.  Violence between police and citizens, especially African American citizens, plaguing the news every week, sharply divided political parties clashing in dismal arguments, and frightened people yearning for peace, stability, and brotherhood.

Since the beginning of this election year I’ve made a point of trusting God for our national welfare, and instead of panicking over the latest catastrophe, praying and reading Scripture on behalf of those in power, the civil authorities, and the oppressed.  Prayer helps more than anyone gives it credit for, and God hears every syllable of every word we speak in love.  Families pray for each other.  Brothers look out for one another automatically, as a rule.  Jesus teaches in the Gospel of Luke, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10)  The Lord promises that those who do show faith and responsibility in the less important things will be promoted to leadership roles in the kingdom.  Details like kind words, respectful manners, and common courtesy reflect a heart that belongs entirely to God and go a long way toward healing people.

When families disagree, the details are what hold them together.  My brother might hate the fact that I’m a Beatles fan, but as long as we keep it respectful, and I don’t make fun of his weird antler statues, there won’t be a problem.  The same dynamic works for politics—as long as people operate under the agreement that we are or at least should be a family, the major disagreements won’t tear us apart, and reconciliation will occur.  Details hold families together when the world tries to break them down.  Details matter.

Details matter so much that fifty years ago people sacrificed their lives for equal seating in restaurants and on buses, for the right to eat and drink in the same places as everyone else, and for the right to be regarded publicly as citizens by their government, because those superficialities revealed the state of America’s heart toward African Americans.  Martin Luther King knew that better than anyone, which is why he gave his life for brotherhood, the kind that fills the heart and manifests throughout the world.  He closes his Letter from a Birmingham Jail like this:  “If I have said anything in this letter that is an understatement of the truth and is indicative of an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me.  If I have said anything in this letter that is an overstatement of the truth and is indicative of my having a patience that makes me patient with anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.”

 

Kind of Blue

Jazz originated in New Orleans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, evolving to produce some of the most creative and varied music the world has ever heard.  Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue holds the honor of being one of the most highly valued jazz albums, and one of the most influential records of any musical genre in history.  Recorded in New York in 1959 and released that year, the album features Bill Evans on piano, Jimmy Cobb on drums, Paul Chambers on bass, John Coltrane and Julian Adderley on saxophones, Miles Davis on trumpet, and pianist Wynton Kelly on one track.

The use of improvisation makes jazz unique, gives the music life and power, and carries an emotional energy through the sound waves like currents of electricity.  The solos on Kind of Blue feel like echoes of an invisible music more real and powerful than the notes we hear from the trumpet and saxophones.  The drums, bass, and piano maintain a gentle structure for the horns to dance over, trancelike, then more upbeat, alternately crying and singing, sadness, weeping, fusing into mellow joy.

A departure from the style of his earlier work, Davis shifted from hard bop to modal jazz with Milestones in 1958, furthering his experimentations with modality on Kind of Blue.  At a time when American music, culture, values, and society were rapidly changing, artists like Davis cleared new paths for others by simply doing what they loved.  The Sixties saw wave after wave of brilliant, unprecedented, soulful music flooding out of the United States and Great Britain, a creative movement founded on the bold work of fearless artists of the 40’s and 50’s.  Popular music contributed a uniquely powerful voice to the national community, a vitality which healed and bonded people when bitter disagreements kept trying to make our nation split.

People talk about jazz’s quality of incorporating “wrong” notes into the music, pressing on through failed attempts and using the rhythm as a platform to speak hints of some far greater truth, so that really there are no mistakes in jazz, no “wrong” notes, because it’s all one big try anyway.  The musicians get together and give it their best shot to reach the unreachable, maybe they come close and maybe they don’t, but at least they gave it a shot.  Miles probably wouldn’t care too much that the Library of Congress selected his album for the National Recording Registry, or that Rolling Stone ranks it among the top 20 albums of all time, but he definitely does care that his music speaks truth to people, revealing the eternal.

America has a lot of music playing today, jumbled, broken music, jagged signals flying around and scattered voices trying to sing along.  The invisible music of truth gets drowned out by all that noise, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still playing.  Another thing people say about jazz is the most important notes are the ones you don’t hear—not that those notes aren’t being played, only, silently.  Miles teaches us the best thing one can do in life is miss.

 

Letter to the Colossians

From Intended Consequences
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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)

 

Intended Consequences

Giveaway Link:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31441734-intended-consequences

Available at Amazon and Barnes&Noble.com

Intended Consequences is a collection of short essays about faith, life, and Christianity in America.  The range of topics includes charity, art, patriotism, addiction, freedom, gratitude, and Bruce Lee.

Robert Lampros is an author of Christian poetry, essays, and fiction who lives in St. Louis.  His books include Fits of Tranquility, Afternoon, and Last Year’s Resolution.

 

Robert Lampros Poetry

Robert Lampros is an author of Christian poetry, essays, and fiction who lives in St. Louis.  His writing focuses on healing, love, and revelation through faith in Christ, as well as on the beauty of the natural world.    He currently has three poetry books available, entitled Fits of Tranquility, Illuminating Sidewalks, and What Is Sacred.

Available at Amazon and Barnes&Noble.com

Reviews of Fits of Tranquility

“A great sense of connection with human nature and the human condition which I found refreshing…  A delightful read.  5 stars.”  – Lauren, LivingABookLife.com

“This book made me feel overwhelmingly good.  As a religious person myself, I felt like there were some lines that really resonated with me.  Even if you’re not religious, a lot of the poems deal with nature and the spiritual experiences that being outside can bring…  I definitely recommend.”  – Ashley, What’s She Reading?

“Each poem offers the reader something to reflect on that will lead to other meditative thoughts.  If you enjoy poetry, you will enjoy Fits of Tranquility.”  – Terry Delaney, Christian Book Notes

“Containing over 20 unique poems and short stories, this book ranges in topic from inspiring images of nature to thought-provoking stories filled with charming dialogue and everything in between…  I would recommend giving Fits of Tranquility a try.”  – Prairie Sky Book Reviews

“Ideas of hope, healing, joy, and faith mirrored in poems about family, lightening, life, and wilderness, the second part is comprised of prose about falling in love…  A book for avid poetry readers.”  – Jen Pen, Savurbks.com

“I enjoyed many things about this book, foremost is the author’s tone.  It is understated, but capable of conveying some deep thoughts quite effectively…  There is a religious perspective in this book, expressed with artistry, understatement, that avoids sentimentality.”  – Arthur Turfa, author of Places and Times

“One of my favorites is ‘Family,’ it describes the value in a heartfelt and touching way.  I also really liked ‘Invisible Arms,’ a vivid picture of how God protects us from physical and emotional harm.  I am a hopeless romantic so I appreciated the sweet moments described in the short stories.  I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys reading smooth thought provoking poetry.”  – Ivory M, Beautyful Word

Fits of Tranquility contains a variety of styles and structures which makes this collection immediately more appealing to the poetry connoisseur.  Lampros’s poetry contains a sensitivity and emotional eloquence which flows gently through his work…  Fits is a superior collection and I recommend it to those readers who want to read beautiful, family-safe poetry.”  – Karen Jones, The Poetry Bookshop

 

Last Year’s Resolution

Available at Amazon and Barnes&Noble.com

“I genuinely liked reading this book from beginning to end.  The writing was simple and felt like a classic book I should have read years ago.  The characters were well-developed and the gentle romance felt sincere and really carried the story well…  It is Christian enough to be called Christian romance but it’s also secular enough to pass as a simple love story.  One of the things I liked most about this book was that it intertwined the characters’ faith with romance and realistic events…  A comfortable cross between contemporary fiction and love.”  – Valicity Garris, Author

“I am continually amazed by some of Mr. Lampros’ imagery…  Thematically, I would say that this novel is about friendship, love, Christ… a real knack for dialogue and characterization through said dialogue, rounding out the characters even if the description of where they are and what they see is subservient to the plot and the overall thrust of the story.  Bravo!”  – John Morris, Author

“This is a very well-written Christian novel with a plot running in fast pace…  The author did a superb job creating characters that are lovable, and the book is definitely a boost to our faith…  I recommend this book to the permanent library of all readers who appreciate a well-written novel, very entertaining, with a strong Christian theme.”  – Roberto Mattos, BooksAndMovieReviews

“Great writing, great story!  I could’ve read it in just a few days but you kind of want to take your time with it and reflect on some of the passages and things that happen… a great book, fun and exciting and even edge-of-your-seat action at times.  I highly recommend it!”  – B. Hill, Goodreads Reviewer

Last Year’s Resolution is a well-written, clean, Christian story.  One of the more thoughtful depictions of a popular theme.  It is not an over the top horror-fest, but it is not sugarcoated either…  Those readers interested in such a topic will find this telling both entertaining and faith-affirming.  Not a bad feat to accomplish.  Enjoy!”  – Mike Siedschlag, Books are Theater of the Mind

 

What Is Sacred

Available at Amazon and Barnes&Noble.com

What Is Sacred is a collection of poetry and essays about faith, love, and Jesus Christ.

Robert Lampros is an author of Christian poetry, essays, and fiction who lives in St. Louis.  His books include Fits of Tranquility, Afternoon, and Last Year’s Resolution.

Title:  What Is Sacred
Author:  Robert Lampros
Paperback:  54 pages
Publisher:  CreateSpace, 07/21/2016
Language:  English
Retail Price:  $8.99
ISBN-13:  978-1535422192
Category:  Christian/Literature

 

Book Release: Last Year’s Resolution

Last Year’s Resolution is a novel about Edmund Stovender, a famous author who falls in love with Marie, a journalist who calls him for an interview just before the performance of his hit play.  Their lives accelerate through an epic adventure testing their faith, strength, and love for each other, as they discover that their story might pivotally influence the fate of the world.

Available now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Robert Lampros is an author of Christian poetry, essays, and fiction who lives in St. Louis.  He earned a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Washington University in St. Louis.  His books include Fits of TranquilityIlluminating SidewalksOm-BorkAfternoonEleven FloorsWhat Is Sacred, and Last Year’s Resolution.

From Last Year’s Resolution

Eddie spent the majority of his childhood as most children do, divided between mandatory school work and outdoor adventures with the other kids in his neighborhood.  He loved sports, but that love quickly faded at age thirteen when he took up smoking cigarettes, at which time he turned his attention to skateboarding and playing guitar. Proving successful at neither one of those activities, he spent more and more time reading books, watching films, and writing both fiction and nonfiction stories of his own.  By the time he graduated high school his writing had been published by a number of literary journals and featured in various newsletters, making his parents very proud.  After attending Illinois State University for two years, he dropped out to pursue his career full time, and moved to New York, because that’s what writers do.  Eight years later, Edmund Stovender was the author of three bestselling novels and a National Book Award-winning play, The Hopeful Sigh, then in its third year on Broadway.

This is where Eddie’s story begins:  He sits in a coffee shop, drinking a beer, a mile down the street from the theater where his play will soon start.  His phone rings.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Eddie?”

“Yes?”

“Eddie Stovender, the writer?”

“This is he.”

“Okay, hi.  My name is Marie, Marie Altnikov.  I’m a journalist with The Triune Times.”

“Sorry, I don’t do interviews with people whose middle and first names are the same.”

“You don’t—I’m sorry?”

“You said your name was Marie-Marie, I was making a joke.  Never mind, I’m an idiot.”

“Oh, ha-ha.  That’s… kind of funny.  I actually don’t want an interview, I’m calling because I’m going to see your play tonight, to review it for the Times, and I was hoping you could answer a few questions first.”

“How is that not an interview?  Answer a few questions, that sounds like an interview.”

She was silent for a moment.

“Hello?”

“I’m here.  Maybe it is an interview.  I hadn’t thought of it like that.  Do you have a minute?  I’m sorry to call you out of the blue like this.”

He checked his watch.  “Marie, the play starts in forty-five minutes.”

“That’s fine.  I only need ten, fifteen tops.”

“Excuse me, bartender, may I have another Blue Moon, please?  Sorry.  Alright, fire away.”

She cleared her throat and he heard papers rustling on her end of the phone.  “Question number one.  What inspired you to write The Hopeful Sigh, and what were your goals for this piece when you started writing?”

“Um…  Well, four years is a long time ago—that’s when I wrote the play.  Honestly, at the time I think I was trying to save the world.”

“Interesting.  And you thought writing a play could do that?”

“The right play, sure, if it performed its function correctly.”

“What is its function?”

“Sorry, Marie, I explained all this a long time ago in my other interviews.  Didn’t you read—”

“I don’t read newspapers.”

“But you write for one.”

“Yes, sir.  Do you mind answering the question again?  I’d appreciate it.”

“Sure, fine.  I thought The Hopeful Sigh, if I wrote it properly and it was performed properly, could help people realize… we’re not home yet.  The world we’re in now, it’s really just a stage, and what each of us does here, our work, our families, our dreams, the best parts of our lives, that’s what our true homes are going to be like, you understand?”

“Sorry, I’m writing… ‘what our true homes are going to be like.’  Okay.  I think I got it, like Heaven.  A place where dreams never die.”

“Exactly.  A place where nothing ever dies.”

“Question number two,” she said.  “Who is your greatest influence?”

“Whoa.  Can I do top three?”

“No, you have to choose one.”

“Why?”

“It’s the rules.”

“Then I’d have to say Shakespeare.  I mean everyone says Shakespeare, but it’s true, he really is the most influential writer we’ve got.  War, politics, love, faith, humor, betrayal, death, salvation…  It’s all there, packed into a neat entertaining format for real human beings to bring to life.”

“Lovely.  Well said, Mr. Stovender.”

“That’s what I do.”

“Question three, last one.  What would you say are the autobiographical elements of the play?”

“Huh.”

“If you don’t mind answering.”

“It’s not a matter of minding, it’s more whether or not it’s possible to answer.  Everything and nothing, really.  Nothing that happens in the play ever happened to me personally, but at the same time I feel like it all happened to me, like I’ve lived through those events somehow.  I don’t know.”  Eddie laughed, “Is that clear enough?”

“Not a problem.  I know exactly what you mean.”

“So, are we done here?”

“Yes, indeed.  Unless you’d like to add anything.”

He thought for a moment, watching the bubbles rise in his glass.  “Something I learned a few years ago, the first season, on opening night.”  He drank the last half of his beer.  “If you write a play that’s meant to take people up to heaven, you had better be willing to walk through hell.”

“Thanks for your time, Eddie.”

“God bless.”