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-“Origin”

by Dr. D ~

By Dan Brown (New York: Doubleday, 2017, 480 pages)

Dan Brown Origin

Dan Brown continued his assault on religion and particularly on Christianity in a major way in ‘Origin.’ In fact the first half of the book is full of one attack after another on religion. Also according to first impressions, all of the bad characters seem to be religious while the ‘good’ folks are all atheists and agnostics.  At least that is what it seemed like in the beginning.

There are two major issues that the entire story revolves around:

1. Where did we come from?

2. Where are we going?

All of the answers to those questions coming out of religion are discounted. Particularly those coming from what Brown calls the ‘dark religions’ (like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) who insist that the answers are contained within ancient scriptures like the Bible.

Science is presented as having the ultimate answers to our origin and to where we are going. If not now then in the near future. At least this time, Brown actually researched these issues well (unlike Da Vinci Code which was full of historical mistakes) even if it’s rather one sided and far to ‘preachy.’

The philosophical conclusion given in this book is that all religions will eventually fade away. But Brown’s protagonist Professor Langdon is not so sure. He still see a role for religion in helping science deal with ethical and moral issues. Then there is the question of first cause and origin of order. Supposedly Brown’s atheist/techno-scientist is killed because he is going to present scientific answers to where we came from and where we are going that will do away with religion once and for all. But his ballyhooed presentation is actually far from conclusive or even satisfying.

A third issue comes up in the midst of the story. What about humanity’s relationship with technology and how will the evolution of AI affect our future? And finally, will some kind of controls and checks need to be placed upon Artificial Intelligence?

Dan Brown is known for turning out novels with frantic paced non-stop action that readers have a hard time putting down. ‘Origin’ continues that tradition for the first 3/4 or so then it slows down and becomes rather anti-climatic. There are major twists and turns at the finish line and some of the characters are really not at all like they seemed to be at the beginning but by then I really didn’t care all that much.   

I did find the Catalonian/Spanish locations, including the art and government references, as fascinating. I looked up all of the museums, churches, and buildings referenced in the book. Then I read articles on the Spanish government, the history of the Franco era, along with reports on the current Catalonian independence controversy. All of which added a new dimension to the story for me.

I have read all of Dan Brown’s books and this one is far from being his best. Nevertheless, it will be another best seller and I fear that the one-sided observations on religion and science will be accepted and go unchallenged by many of the readers.               *Top

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-“Every Knee Shall Bow”

by Dr. D ~

Every Knee Shall Bow

By R. Alan Smith (San Diego CA: Wings of Eagles Press, 2015, 114 pages)

:“An Invitation and a Warning from the Sovereign God of the Universe to ALL Political Leaders of Earth”

A prophetic message and warning to all political leaders written by a political insider who has been involved in American politics for over 40 years. R. Alan Smith is also a Christian who was deeply involved in church leadership during that same time.

We live in chaotic times when political leaders around the world are ‘doing it their own way’ and have substantially ignored God in the process. Even those who claim to be believers have pushed agendas which are clearly against the teaching of the Bible. Some have even boldly proclaimed that the Bible is ‘wrong’ and what God has spoken in the past is no longer relevant.

The intent of this book is to shake leaders back to the reality that there is a God and he is ultimately in control of history and they are responsible to him for their actions. Not only that but he is the one who actually defines what is right and what is wrong.

Much of it is written as a direct message from God to political leaders in this narcissistic generation. It isn’t pretty and it isn’t fun but it is direct. Many might be put off by this genre but so were the leaders in Jeremiah’s day. Even many Christians might question whether the Creator is speaking through prophets today as he did in Old Testament times. Regardless, the message is entirely in character with the God of the Bible and what he has said and taught in the past through his prophets, apostles, and his own Son Jesus Christ.

I believe that this is just the opening salvo and one message among many to follow. We are at a time in history where things are going to rapidly change- politically, economically, environmentally, and even in the church itself. Jesus talked about these times:

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pangs. –Matthew 24:7-8

That is where we are at now but that is also just the beginning. I expect messages like this book to be substantially ignored until far worse times come upon us:

There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. …-Luke 21:25-27

There will also be false prophets, false miracles, and heretical religious leaders. But here is the good part; we wouldn’t have to worry about detecting false prophets if God wasn’t going to send genuine ones. I believe that we are entering a new age of prophets and apostles who will proclaim the unvarnished word of God and the good news of God’s coming Kingdom with signs and true miracles following to all of the nations and peoples of the earth.

In the midst of the worst of times when leaders will not know where to turn there will be prophets on the earth once more bringing advise and counsel from God along with signs and wonders to all those who will listen.

The book may be purchased through Amazon. It would be a great gift for your favorite political leaders or politicians. Or maybe even for your not so favorite ones.

(See Disclosure Statement: A copy of this book was sent to me by the author for review)

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-“The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord’s Prayer”

by Dr. D ~

By John Dominic Crossan (Harper Collins Publishers: 2010, 212 pages)

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Crossan provides a unique perspective on the Lord’s prayer. Every Christian ‘knows’ the prayer but few really know it like John Dominic Crossan. This is more than just a commentary on the Biblical text, it is a complete analysis of the message which Crossan contends is revolutionary and all about justice.

I didn’t completely agree with every point in this work but found it challenging and worthwhile for anyone who wants an advanced scholarly consideration and treatment of what has become know as the Lord’s prayer.               *Top

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-“The Third Target”

by Dr. D ~

by Joel C. Rosenberg (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.,  2015, 448 pages)

Another non-stop action adventure from Joel C. Rosenberg. This is the first installment in a new series that, as usual with this writer, seems to have been taken right off the pages of world news.

This time Rosenberg writes a fictional story about ISIS and the ruthless potential of this group to go beyond its roots as merely an al Qaeda terrorist cell to become a major player on the international stage. Rosenberg claims that he never even heard of the group when he began his research. But while he was writing this novel, ISIS rose up to become a major player in the Middle East. A group which is growing in infamy in the West and stature among radical Islamists.

Here’s the publisher’s blurb about this fictional story:

When New York Times foreign correspondent J. B. Collins hears rumors that an al-Qaeda splinter cell—ISIS—has captured a cache of chemical weapons inside Syria, Collins knows this is a story he must pursue at all costs. Does the commander of the jihadist faction really have the weapons? If so, who is the intended target? The U.S.? Israel? Or someone else?

With tensions already high, the impending visit of the American president to the region could prove to be the spark that sets off an explosion of horrendous proportions. Knowing that terrorist forces are already trying to bring down two Arab governments in the region—Iraq and Syria—can Collins uncover the truth before it’s too late? Or will the terrorists succeed in setting their sights on the third target and achieving genocide?

Besides the action story there is a second theme running throughout. The main character (JB Collins), who on the outside is a world known highly successful journalist, on the inside like most of us he is dealing with a number of personal issues surrounding friends, family, and a former wife. He is also challenged to consider his understanding of religion and the place of God in his life which he has substantially ignored up to this point. Meanwhile, a friend who is a Jordanian prince is pushing him to become a Muslim while his brother who is a Christian minister is talking to him about Jesus.

I highly recommend this book and any of the others that Rosenberg has written in the past. The action in the novel is an exciting ‘can’t put it down’ ride. But the potential for some of the story to become a reality is also very chilling. In that regard it is thought provoking and possibly a portend of what we may soon be facing in the near future.            *Top

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-“River World: The Dark Design”

by Dr. D ~

By Phillip Jose Farmer (New York: TOR:Tom Doherty Assoc.,LLC, 2010)

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The third installment of the original and the 2nd book in the TOR reprint of the Riverworld  series by Phillip Jose Farmer.

The main characters in this one build a couple of airships and a helicopter to make their way to the Tower at the top of the world. It ends in disaster for most involved. Sabotaged by several members of the different crews that turned out to be agents.

Really did not find this book as interesting as the first two. The characters were far removed and much harder to get close to. 

Religion

Nothing new is explored much in this episode in the way of religion. Shows how some on the river continue in the religious practices that they did during their original lifetime. Others give it all up due to the fact that the Riverworld is entirely different then their religion ever predicted the afterlife to be like. Then there is the new religion that started by the influence of some of the agents or creators of this new world: the Church of the Second Chance who are pacifists and believe that the Riverworld was created to give mankind a 2nd chance to prove and ready themselves  for the next level and for virtual immortality.

The main characters are attempting to get to the tower at the top of the world in order to learn the truth about who created Riverworld and what it is all about. Some among them are agents who are trying to get back to the tower for their own purposes and taking measures to keep the rest of them out.

All of the major questions in this series are still left unanswered.

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