When Life Doesn’t turn out the Way We’d Hoped It Would

When Life doesn’t turn out the Way we Hoped it Would Volume I ISBN: 9781974032822 Create Space, copyright and written by Tom Wick.

This autobiography is written by an individual who had been born into a family whose roots he had been able to trace to a particular tribe of some of the most “unrestrained and pitiless pagans and savages of all Vikings”. Thus, his particular family were a mixture of Scots, Pics, Irish and Manx who had ultimately occupied a small section of northern Scotland. Further extension of genealogical facts detail the intermixing of the family strains as they move into more recent history. Here it would seem, some of these early ‘unrestrained’ genes carried over to the future generations with occasional episodes providing vicious physical harm. Specific sordid details of the remarkably dysfunctional family’s interrelationships as well as their activity with others are presented along with lengthy descriptions of his personal activity. The protagonist enumerates the fact that by the age of six years he had witnessed people being killed, men beating women as well as other men. He relates seeing and participating in indiscriminate sex. He smoked tobacco and marijuana incessantly, drank liquor heavily, sniffed, inhaled, ingested and injected drugs. However, until later in life, he thought this just was the ‘normal way of life”. His mother had been diagnosed with “agoraphobia, paranoia, multiple personality disorders, and other mental and emotional ailments.” His father had been beaten mercilessly and repetitively by his grandfather. The author had been molested constantly by his older brother, participated in exploratory sexual activity with playmates and had sex with a ‘girlfriend’ at four years of age.

Discussion: The material covered in this first book in the series presents, in quite explicit detail, quite lengthy descriptions of the repetitiously indulgent activities of the author, his family, friends and acquaintances as he moves among several locations. However, there is an overlying tone of a man somehow repentant of much of his activity and, as a result of some unnamed factor, ultimately realizing the ‘error of his ways and being ‘born again’ as a Christian. Although the causative factor is not mentioned per se, when he failed 1st grade a psychiatrist diagnosed him as having ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). This long-standing dysfunction, in combination with being brutally beaten, raped and suffering a degree of PTSD could have left him totally repentant for the meaningless sex, constant drug and alcohol abuse and the rest that caused him intense feelings of alienation, isolation, and loneliness.

Summary: A seemingly most honestly and completely told tale detailing the extent of dysfunctional behavior existent in the author, as well as sections of the general population, is set forth along with a series of factors that influenced change to a direction for resolution for the author. If the extent of explicit description of immorality can be accepted, the level of reader interest for members of the Evangelic religious faith should be high. That for general readership difficult even to suggest.

3* High interest level for some readers; difficult to determine for others.

Dreamwander in the Ruins of Eden

Dreamwander in the Ruins of Eden ISBN: 9780996305709 Kildaire Press copyright and written by Kildaire.

This is “Volume One of In The Ruins of Eden” and begins with the protagonist, Cillian Rysgaard, an old North Dakota rancher, travelling down a strange forest path where he encounters increasing numbers of strange, illusion-like ‘happenings’. Ultimately he meets an old woman whom he recognizes as Mórríghan, the ancient Irish Goddess who humans meet before dying. She informs him that it is not quite his time. He next realizes he is in a strange doctor’s office where a woman says the practitioner is ready to see him. He enters and here is informed that he has dementia that gradually will worsen although he may live anywhere up to another ten years. He then is ushered out through another door that becomes a long tunnel where eventually he encounters a stately young woman dressed similarly to a Roman Centurion. She tells him to mount her chariot and she delivers him to the ruler of the impossibly large assemblage of buildings crowded with huge numbers of citizens cheering him as he is honored by the ruling Imperator as the two time savior of the empire. Thus begins this strange tale that involves a parallel world inhabited by the Tuath Dé who have a physical body and a sex but actually are part of the fallen angels remaining from the revolt of the angels that resulted in Yewah splitting the revolutionaries into three groups – theirs, Satan and his followers to the dark nether region and retaining the third group of Michael and others of the ‘good’ angels with him in the upper regions. They are in a constant state of war with the Dread Queen who once was one of them, and both they and she, with her followers, continue living under an uneasy truce since neither has been able to defeat the other. The action swings among various, mostly fanciful activities in ‘other worlds’ with Cillian having the ability to pass unharmed among the different ‘civilizations’ because of an amulet he had received as a gift many years ago. The amulet had been fashioned by Satan and assures his safe passage between worlds because both sides need him since, through an error, he had released Loki, the God of Chaos from his chained position of eternal bondage.

Discussion: A weirdly fanciful tale that is difficult, at least for this reader, to describe. It begins interestingly with what appears to be an old man with some degree of advancing dementia wandering along a forest path. Assumedly, his formal/informal educational development includes a superior knowledge of Irish, Nordic and Christian mythology, although we are told that he simply is a North Dakota Rancher. Large sections of the story involve individuals who speak Latin and a Celtic dialect, and reference is made repeatedly to persons described in the written, and before that unwritten, mythology just mentioned and Roman Centurion-like uniforms are in abundance. There is much of interest set forth and the action at times generates excitement. However, the action sequences often are interwoven with considerable prose explanations of pre-occurring and/or predictive activity. Settings following each other occasionally are sufficiently far removed from each other enough to cause momentary need to re-arrange one’s thinking with respect to the tale’s continuum.

Summary: A strange tale that from this reader’s perspective requires dichotomous interpretation – extreme mental wanderings resulting from a knowledgeable individual’s advancing dementia, or, an equally strange Fantasy tale that devotees of the genre may enjoy.

3* difficult to describe and rate, as described.

Evolution Tested

Evolution Tested, Library of Congress #2019905164 Outskirts Press, copyright and written by CS Stephens,

(Reviewer’s apology for length of review seemingly required.)

Sub-titled “Evolution & Empiricism Viewed through Engineering Standards”, this book presents a treatise resulting from the observed fact that although skepticism of Darwinian claims continue and some highly placed scientists and even a legal judgement support the claims, religions provide mixed reviews and a large number of physicians, dentists, and engineers repute them. Here, after some opening discussion of various claims in the Preface, the author offers a theme adopted by engineers as the Salem Hypothesis, which briefly assumes the existence of more than one type of skepticism – the irrational Pyrrhonian or radical view that refuses to believe anything because even evidence of the highest quality cannot be believed, and two types of scientific skepticism; 1. No one knows anything about anything, and 2. We know only the contents of our own minds. And because both can exist in the same person, empiricism or evidence-based results, are required. He follows with what to expect in the ensuing ten part discussion. Each, subdivided to a varying degree, follows with his application of the Hypothesis to evolution; its claims; aspects of DNA/evolutionary hypotheses; complexity of ‘First Life’ formation; Problematica (little known outside the “evolutionary practitioners” who study creatures “which have nothing in common with either known modern or deep time phyla”); analysis of evolution theory as a unifying concept; specific claims for evolution and treatment of coherent dissent by the evolution community. A Final Analysis recalls: “Darwin presciently outlined the failure zones of his theory. His failure criteria have been met, yet evolutionary theorists press on, regardless”. Further, a Condensed Summary of 12 falsifiers for evolution and five appendices conclude the book; A. discussion of knowledge in general and the essential disciplines of rational thought; B. movement from Aristotelian destructive logic, to the steps required for, and application of, objective thinking; C. examines when probabilities actually are impossibilities; D. “Understanding Life”; E. Validating Aristotle’s First Principles of Thought mathematically.

Discussion: This is one of the more thorough evaluations of a subject I have read. It also is quite literalistic, precisionist and in large part scholastic. In many ways it is reminiscent of PhD theses I’ve read.  According to the author, “The first purpose of this investigation is to analyze the purported scientific practice of evolutionary professionals compared to both the Enlightenment definition of Empiricism and the actual practices required of engineering disciplines. The second purpose is to determine whether there is sufficient cause to designate evolution as a pristine, disciplined source of objective knowledge. There will be no references or inferences to design, because this work is solely focused on evolutionary theory and its relationship to objective knowledge and truth. (But design will (be) mentioned – as above – when quoting evolutionists who falsely attack it as a concealed aspirational cause when it is not, rather than proving their own assertions. That’s a Red Herring Fallacy.)” He also states that because “evolution is a milieu of hypotheses” both complementary and contradictory, even interim ones that have expired exist so “It is an interesting task to attempt to organize the personal “theories” of many evolutionary ‘experts’ into reasonable form in order to analyze their content for applicability to the general knowledge base as containing either objective knowledge, or subjective knowledge.” Objective knowledge being defined as “inductive-reductive-hypothetico-deductive-objective-demonstration-falsification. Subjective knowledge – “inductive-extrapolative-hypothetico.” His stated goal – “decision to decide and emphasize that evolutionary pursuit can be shown to be a generator of objective knowledge”. Discussions of varying length ensue apropos all of the above-listed subjects.

From this reviewer’s perspective, two of the more interesting inclusions are the dating of fossils where he quotes Willian Durant, author (with his wife) of the eleven volume The Story of Civilization: “Most history is guessing – the rest is prejudice.” Because it is impossible to link chains of cause and effect in any valid way, his deductions “are sustained more in our minds than in reality and are informed and conditioned by our prejudices, which will tell us NOT what happened, but what we think OUGHT to have happened” and explores the numerous ways of dating fossils and what successively has been learned and concludes. Thus: “There is no hard, material, empirical, contingent fact which grounds any of the many molecular clock hypotheses.” The second subject should be of interest to religious leaders involved in the discussions – Molecular Biology, the composition of DNA, the importance of the function of mRNA as messenger thereby securing the fact that random proteins can NOT be the origins of life. Also, the more recent information that human genome’s nucleotides may play more than a single role.

Summary: The author has provided a thorough, scholarly treatise of a rather esoteric subject that elicits thoughts of PhD theses. Fundamentally it is well done, beautifully referenced and substantiates his conclusions. Most regrettably, however, the author projects a third, unlisted agenda – proposal of a belief that engineering provides a superior quality of investigation to that of other ‘scientists’: “Engineering is completely secular and materialistic; no deities are summoned and no chickens are sacrificed in the process of engineering. Engineering requires disciplined adherence to Enlightenment values: objective knowledge through thorough testing is both required and valued by engineers…” These and other quotations denigrating members of other scientific disciplines and reporting of their activities follow. Granted engineering deals with hard structures; e.g. wood, concrete, steel, while other ‘science’ more usually focus on less ‘concrete biological entities’ Also granted is the existence of rivalry between scientists in other disciplines that occasionally and sadly may degenerate into ugly situations. Injection of such puerile thought/activity does NOT belong it science.

Conclusion: This reviewer believes this book deserves: 5* as an Erudite examination of Empirical data on an esoteric matter for the semantics aficionado; 4* for the religious devotee because once again the ‘spark of life’ has NOT been proven to ignite without a ‘higher power’; 0 – 1* for distasteful material included.

3* 5*Erudite, esoteric treatise descending to 1* for distasteful material included.

A Coin for a Dream

Coin for a Dream published, copyright and written by Mae Adams.

This volume presents a series of short stories, the first fifteen of them told to the author in her early childhood growing up in Korea. They are simple tales, the significance of some perhaps even a little unusual for the uninitiated to absorb. Included are tales of egg ghosts, water ghosts, angels of death, servants of the underworld, a 9-tailed dragon shape-shifter and its nemesis, a 3-legged dog, also of the monstrous part lion, sheep and unicorn haechi with scales, feathers and horns who actually seek justice by punishing the wicked. Other tales, some provided a little later, detail the legends and folktales along with historical explanations of Korean beginnings, religions and practices. Included are tales of how shamans, these mediums between this and the spirit world are created, fascinating explanations of the differences among the Chinese, Japanese and Korean Dragons, discussions of their zodiac, and more. All of these later features gradually and ultimately fade into and join material of a bio- and autobiographical nature.

Discussion: This is the second book by the author of “Precious Silver Chopsticks” which I had reviewed approximately a year ago and stated “This autobiography/memoir is written by an eighty-four-year-old Korean woman of considerable intelligence, fortitude and an amazing ability to survive and prosper” and concluded: “Certainly a relieving catharsis for the author and a book of considerable interest for a diverse reading public.” Because I had witnessed the conditions and people of  Korea during the U.S. involvement, my conclusion with respect to this second book retains my admiration for the author and personally find considerable material she has provided to be quite interesting. But regrettably and in all honesty, I must narrow the scope of those for whom I believe this book will have appeal. There is much redundancy in her presentation and repetition within the body of the work as well as a considerable amount from her first book. Thus, I strongly recommend this book to readers who are interested in learning more about other people, their history, cultures, religions, activities, habits, individual beliefs, and their personal abilities to adapt and especially as depicted here, to survive. For readers with these interests, the subject matter most assuredly requires a 5*. The rating unfortunately must be reduced by 2 because of matters that judicious editing would have removed, plus the most regrettable fact its level of interest for others than those mentioned; i.e. general readership, probably would not be extensive.

3* 5* story regrettably reduced by 2 as explained in the discussion.

Acts of Faith

ACTS of FAITH, a novel published copyright and written by Martin Elsant.

In this “Part 1 of The Inquisition Trilogy”, an initiating statement by Archibald Bower, Authentic Memories Concerning the Portuguese Inquisition, 1761 reads “An Auto de fe is not so much an Act of Faith, which the words would impart, as of the hypocrisy of Inquisitors, who thus make a mockery of God and man, by abusing the venerable name of religion, and forcing the secular judges to become their butchers.” An author’s note follows explaining that, as a teenager, he had found an account of an undisputed miracle that involved Diego Lopes of Pinanocos at his “auto de fe’ in Coimbra, Portugal, and more than 50 years later actual records of the man’s trial. (Both books referenced as additional reading.) However, a discrepancy existed between the trial records discovered and reported by Bodian and the public perception reported in the Roth book discovered so much earlier. The author’s intent in this book simply is “to add a component of human involvement to a process that they (individuals of the time) believed required only Divine intervention.” The story then introduces the young Portuguese Divinity student Aristides and the other characters of greater or lesser importance as it presents the quite specific procedures initiated and employed by the dominant figures in the Inquisition, as well as the surprising number of those attempting resistance, along with his new ‘element’.

Discussion: This is a fascinating and most informative story that should appeal to a rather diverse population of readers. Historians certainly will find much to learn as will those interested in beliefs of Judaism and of Catholicism of the era. A story of unrequited love is included, as are numerous references to bits of understanding of facts about the anatomy and functions of the human body as well as initial, perhaps surprisingly advanced, thoughts about surgical cleanliness available at the time. Thus, as readily admitted by the author, although tenuous, the tenets upon which certain of his actions are based are technically and scientifically feasible as well as the actions of Jews and Christians in this time of religious chaos arising from greed and ignorance. A most interesting and relative ‘Postscript’ is included as are suggestions for ‘Further Reading’ that history devotees will find extremely helpful. A somewhat unique aspect of this volume that may appeal particularly to readers who do not enjoy ‘cliff hangers’ where the protagonist or similar is left in a precarious position, resolution of which awaits the succeeding book, this first of a trilogy is a ‘stand-alone’ volume. However, sufficiently well done to make the reader anticipate the next in the series.

5* Historical fiction engagingly presented for reasons described.

Let’s Pretend

Let’s Pretend a book published by Amazon, copyright and written by Christian Hagesth III.

The opening passages of this book induce a reader to believe the author has set forth a fantasy novel loosely based on the ‘genie in the bottle’ theme. The protagonist, Peter Andresen  is a retired psychiatrist whose wife died several years ago in an accident and he has two grown sons who are ‘too busy’ to bother seeing him. He believes he is in his sixties, suffers from Parkinson’s disease, has been bankrupt and now “scrapes by on Social Security and V.A. Benefits.” He is alone and lonely and walking aimlessly on a beach with no person or even buildings in sight. He spots a corked empty bottle that has drifted ashore, picks it up and sees a note inside. Amused by remembrance of the old tales, he attempts to remove it. The task is difficult so bringing it closer a faint voice seems to emanate from its depths requesting release. Shocked, he rapidly reverts to remembered Marine Drill Sargent’s marching orders continuing until encountering a lovely young woman. She greets him with no hint of a sexual come-on, which would be useless anyway because his Parkinson’s long ago had removed the possibility of any such activity. They do however, acquire what seems to be a deep mutual understanding and attachment, so continue walking together and the young woman appears to be able to provide all manner of ‘good things’ out of nowhere. Thus, the tale’s subtitle “A tale of Mind, Imagination, and Healing” quickly is recalled. Holly is able to cause welcome sleep, wonderful breakfasts, fine dining with all of the amenities, sessions of swimming with whales, functioning as partner of a raptor and of an entire flock of birds and more. She also facilitates visits with his Aunt Nora, participation in conversational gatherings with historical medical figures such as Hippocrates and Galen, another non-religious individual from whom he learns that “God needs to be experienced, not dissected”, and other pertinent individuals.  But eventually from this non-physical reality where everything he needs is provided by his mind because it is not limited in the more usual manner by attention to material reality, the reader witnesses the evolution of a physically ill individual, additionally suffering from a degree of PTSD, who ultimately re-emerges in the ‘real world’ as a truly empathetic individual who is a true ‘healer’.

Discussion: This is an engaging book. It literally forces a reader to return to the too-often forgotten thoughts first provided on the importance of the mind on bodily action centuries before Sigmund Freud. As quoted by the author, Hippocrates stated “It is more important to know what patient has the disease than what disease the patient has” i.e. the mind’s content fundamentally is the important factor in treatment. As an extension on his theme, the author provides examples of the many psychological burdens carried by the protagonist. Included are early strange thoughts arising from the child’s bedtime prayer “Now I lay me down to sleep…”, being recognized as a hated other young boy instead of as her son by his mother just being returned from a psychiatric facility, thoughts about shooting himself in college and a horrifying experience after being shot down on a mission over enemy territory. Many more compelling features of mind-body interrelationship along with additional pertinent details and thought compelling reaction are included. A reminder of medicine’s mortal conflict with ignorance not only is legendary but particularly relevant again today by the recent resistance to immunization and the cautionary admonition “The greater the ignorance, the greater the dogmatism” necessitating the cautionary remark “Be careful talking to people about your understanding of the infinite mind…you know it will be distorted. It will be seen as both heresy and gospel.” But enough! This is merely a review by a relatively knowledgeable reader who has been impressed by the author’s ability to bring forth, in a rather succinct manner, a basic tenet of the mind-body-disease relationship that, as stated, has appeared to have been lost for centuries. Granted, Freud, Jung and others resurrected a piece of it which H. Flanders Dunbar and others expanded to a degree. However, this particular treatise reestablishes the basic tenets and does so in a quite charming fictional tale that is highly recommended both as a simple fantasy, but even more importantly as a book to enjoy analyzing and absorbing its message.

5* Riveting dual level tale; enjoyable fantasy; crying for deeper analysis.