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Showing posts from May, 2009

St. Dismas in the novel Forever Jack

Saint Dismas is the Good Thief, the man crucified at the right hand of Christ. There is quite a bit of controversy about this saint, certainly more than any other Catholic Saint, or the Eastern Orthodox Saint. For a great many of the years between the crucifixion, and today, Dismas' name has been added to and removed from the list of saints in Rome, depending on how the current Pope felt about the man. Dismas was a thief. If we look into what we have available to us (which isn't much to be sure : Gospel of Nicodemus ), we know he was a career thief, that he had a very long career as a thief. He wasn't a break-and-enter, burglary thief, he was a highway-man, a robber -- which means he probably took lives. According to St. John Chrysostom , Dismas dwelt in the desert and robbed or murdered anyone unlucky enough to cross his path. According to Pope Saint Gregory the Great he "was guilty of blood, even his brother's blood ( fratricide )". ... a thief of the d

Sky Descriptions in Forever Jack

In chapter 18 of Forever Jack, I wanted to use the Egyptian constellations as a way of noting the passing of time. Normally I would have just made it up, but really felt I didn't know enough about the Egyptian constellations and their formations to pull that off, if any reader of the novel was even slightly aware of how they really moved across the sky. To solve this, I used a program called Celestia. Using this program I was able to put in a date, all the way back to the first century, and set the location of observation, and actually watch the constellations move. Being able to do this, was very cool, and I believe added a layer of depth to the story for the reader, as well as a level of enjoyment for myself. Celestia Homepage:

Lectures on the Book of Genesis

I was very impressed with the Teaching Company's lectures on the Book of Genesis . These were way beyond expectation and certainly helped with my writing of Forever Jack. Gary Rendsburg gives 24 lectures on the book, and he brought up several points I had not considered, or didn't know about -- which is a treat for me. I don't know how many times I have read Genesis as a complete book, and certainly couldn't estimate how many times I referenced the book for various interests, or how many bible studies, classes, and courses I have taken in the last 25+ years, but to have basic areas presented which shed new perspectives and understanding to my experience is worth a great deal to me. This should not be taken as a claim of expertise in biblical study and knowledge. Certainly not, but seriously, after 25 years, having some one give you a foundation shaking insight into the first chapter of the first book of the Bible? That is something. In fact, let's give a spoiler h

Happy Towel Day Douglas -- I still miss you

FUOLORNIS FIRE DRAGONS From the works of Douglas Adams The Fuolornis Fire Dragons were revered throughout the lands of Brequinda in the Foth of Avalars for their savage beauty, their noble ways, and their habit of biting people who didn't revere them..... Why was this? The answer was simple. SEX There is, for some unfathomed reason, something almost unbearably sexy about having huge fire breathing magical dragons flying low about the sky on moonlit nights which were already dangerously on the sweet and fragrant side. Why this should be so, the romance besotted people of Brequinda in the Foth of Avalars could not have told you, and would not have stopped to discuss the matter once the effect was up and going. For no sooner would a flock of half a dozen silk-winged leather bodied Fuolornis Fire Dragons heave into sight across the evening horizon then half the people of Brequinda would be scurrying off to the woods with the other half, there to spend a busy breathless night

Free from Jerusalem

  It isn't that I don't like historic research -- in fact I love it, but I really need to be more careful regarding the subjects/timelines I choose to jump into. Thirty days writing a single chapter is rather frustrating, but I finally got enough information, and insight to get what I wanted into the chapter, and finished it last night. So now I can get back to editing the rest and move forward to my publishing date. Often I hear novelist talking about their fictional worlds becoming too real. I know exactly what they are talking about now. It isn't that I believe my fictional world, it is that the world has become so defined inside the scope of the novel, there are now hard walls which must be adhered to, or the story fails to keep the attention of the reader. Fails to maintain that Suspension of disbelief Coleridge suggested that if a writer could infuse a "human interest and a semblance of truth" into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend his or her j

Interesting Jerusalem conflict

I recently was reading more on first century Jerusalem. Judaea in Hellenistic and Roman times By Shimon Applebaum Roman law and history in the New Testament By Septimus Buss Septimus Buss makes an interesting statement, that the Talmud says "... the power of capital punishment was away from the ecclesiastical judges [The Sanhedrin] for forty years prior to the fall of the temple. There are two major conflicts which I can see evidence of in these readings, which would occur rather rapidly because of such a decree. These would be idolatry, and prostitution. Both of these have no punishment under Roman law, and have a death penalty under Hebrew law. Since, the Sanhedrin could find a person guilty and sentence him to death, but could not carry out the sentence, the man (or woman) would then be taken to Pilate, who would ... let him go, especially if the person was worshiping Zeus or Apollo... can't kill a man for worshiping your own god... that's just silly. I'm

Timelines and events

It is amazingly difficult to bring to bear anything solid for accounts happening in Jerusalem in the first fifty years of the first century. For the most part, we are stuck with Biblical accounts, which are vague and rather inaccurate as well. But it is what we have... Upon the death of Herod, his kingdom is divided among his three surviving sons, Philip, Antipas, and Archelaus. These three traveled to Rome to apply for legal ratification of their father's will (cf. parable in Luke 19:12,14). Caesar Augustus and the disposition of power was as follows: 1. Antipas (4 B.C. to AD 39) ruled Galilee and Perea (east of the Jordan in the north). The Jews were offended by the illicit union of Antipas with his niece and sister-in-law Herodias. This formed the occasion on which John the Baptist was imprisoned and martyred (Mark 6:14-29; see also Jospehus Ant. XVIII, 116-119). In A.D. 39, Antipas was banished from his rule. 2. Philip (4 B.C. to AD 6) had the region east of the Jordan

Little trouble with Days of the Week

In the honest hope of someone having an insight on this recent problem I've stepped into, I posted several cries for help in a few groups and forums. It appears there is a small problem with trying to figure out what day of the week Christ was crucified on... awk! The Last Supper is suppose to be the Passover meal. The way the days work in Hebrew tradition is: the day starts at sunset. So, Friday, actually starts on Thursday at sunset. Just like the Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday. Passover, in the Hebrew tradition, therefore begins at Sunset, the lambs are slaughtered, and the diner prepared that evening. So, Passover on Friday, means the Passover Meal is eaten on Thursday (the way we see things), at sunset. Which would mean, the last supper is eaten on Thursday, Christ is crusified on Friday (because he is at the Last Supper... right?) ok.. got that much clear. However, John, bless his heart, talks about Christ being crucified while the lambs are being slaughtered... Jo

The large sucking sound of Messianic Study

The more I learn, the more I know the Messianic study and idea has little to do with the novel, and yet, I continue to read and learn about the Messiah concept. What a mess that is. Don't go there. It hurts the brain after a while and then, most of the rest of the body as well. I'm basically writing this to remind myself that I'm not studying the messianic stuff any more, I'm finishing up the novel with the first intended story. So if you were looking for an actual blog entry here, that is not what we are doing today. At least not ... now.. today.. maybe later today.

Writing about Ancient Days

The bane of historical sections in fictional novels, is the writer of the fictional novel. Ideas and settings are hard enough to come up with, and when you get a good story line running in your head, the last thing you want is some archeologist coming up with a fact that makes your great idea impossible, or at the very least highly unlikely. For example, I had a great mental image of Dismas coming down into the Valley of the Shadow, on the east side of Jerusalem. There is a necropolis on the Mount of Olives, just to the south of where he is riding down from the summit. To bring the description inline with the mood of the character, I wanted to darken the atmosphere up a bit, which is rather difficult considering you are looking at Jerusalem from the summit of the Mount of Olives at sunrise. One of the descriptions I came up with, is to put some fog down in the bottom of the vale, and to put some small lamps on the tome stones in the fog covered area of the necropolis. Small lights

Map of Alexandria I used for the first Forever Jack Novel

I found this map on Michael Livingston's web site. He did a bit of editing to the version he found. While most of my descriptions are going to be vague, especially concerning places that simply do not exist any longer, in order to write the passages, I need to know what they look like. I guess it is quite a bit like the characters of a fiction novel. You note and create a much larger profile for them than you will ever use in the novel. In the Gospel of Nicodemus , Dismas is said to have guarded the passage of Joseph and Mary, with their new child Jesus, into Egypt. This simple statement tells us a great deal about Dismas, and his character if we choose to use it, and I did choose, because there is so precious little to go on. First off, Dismas is probably between the age of 16 and 20 when this happens. Any older, and he would be past 50 when they capture him as a thief for Crucifixion. Any younger, and he wouldn't have the clout to guard anyone, anywhere. This also tells

An outline map of Ancient Alexandria

This looks like it was possibly a campaign map of some sort. Not very detailed

Messiah Ideas and View Points in Forever Jack

I believe at this point, I'm going to drop most of the Apocalyptic and Messiah ideas in this Forever Jack novel, and revisit them in the course of the other two. There is simply too much to really digest, and they weren't part of my original ideas for the novel. In my Google Book List there are a number of book titles that I have put in under the tag of Messianic Study which I'm currently reading and learning from. There is one more, which for some reason would not allow itself to be put on my book list. One is The Messiah idea in Jewish History I'm sure there will be others. What I am finding so far, however, is that my original concept of the Messiah ben Joseph may not be practical. It appears, from my reading (thus far), that the Messiah is a war monger and devastates the nations of the world, no matter how you translate the idea. Not really a new idea, nor an interesting one to me for that matter. I was originally attracted to the Messiah ben Joseph because