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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.

-“The Heavenly Man”

by Dr. D ~

By Brother Yun with Paul Hattaway (London & Grand Rapids: Monarch Books, 2002, 351 pages)

The incredible true story of Chinese evangelist Liu Zhenying known to his Christian friends as Brother Yun. It is his own personal testimony along with the reflections of his wife Deling who supported him in the ministry and though many trials and tribulations. The ups and downs, the joys, the victories, along with the low points, failures, and all of the warts. It is there for all to read.

The story begins with the conversion of Yun and the healing of his dying father of cancer in 1974. In the process Yun, age 16 at the time, dedicates his life to Jesus and through a series of miracles is prepared, trained, and sent out as an evangelist to establish new churches and support the very few Christian groups that were still meeting in secret at the time.

The Communist government did everything they could to destroy the Christian church in China beginning in 1949 and very little visibly remained by 1970 and during that time frame Mao’s wife Jiang Qing actually proclaimed to foreign visitors that:

“Christianity in China has been confined to the history section of the museum. It is dead and buried.”

Today it is said by many including the government that there are at least 100 million Christians in the country. If the communist authorities are admitting that number than there are probably far more than that. In fact it is growing so fast that it is impossible to come up with an accurate number. What happened? The House Church Movement happened.

The story of brother Yun gives you a small taste of how that must have happened. How the Christian church relegated to the dust bin of history meeting secretly in homes rose up out of the dust and became the force it is today. It was entirely a move of God.

Continue reading »

-“The Islamic Antichrist”

by Dr. D ~

By Joel Richardson (Los Angeles: WND Books, 2009, 280 pages)

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Christians are looking forward to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately the scriptures tells us that a world leader is going to come on the scene first and establish One World Government, economy, and religion. The scriptures indicate that he will be a pseudo messiah and will be supported by some kind of false prophet.

Muslims are also looking forward to the coming of their own Messiah referred to as The Mahdi. Along with the Mahdi they believe that Jesus- called Isa will return as his prophet and support him in establishing Muslim rule over the entire world and economy, and the establishment of Islam as the only legal world religion.

Joel Richardson compares these two end time views and shows how closely compatible they truly are. It is his conclusion that the Muslim Mahdi could end up being one and the same historical figure that Christians refer to as Antichrist and the Muslim Jesus –Isa could end up being the figure known as the False Prophet foretold in the Christian scriptures.

It is a valuable book whether or not you accept his conclusions or not. Richardson goes into detail quoting the Quran and other authoritative Muslim writings concerning their view of the end times. I found it helpful in understanding what is happening on the world scene today with the rise of radical Islam as a threat to Western civilization and the entire world.

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-“The Rembrandt Affair”

by Dr. D ~

By Daniel Silva (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2010, 484 pages)

 

The Latest Gabriel Allon novel by Silva. Gabriel and his wife Chiara have retired from the spy business and moved to England to begin a quite life as an art restorer.

Meanwhile an old acquaintance is murdered and in the process a priceless unknown painting by Rembrandt is stolen. An old friend with his entire business at stake since the painting was not insured asks Gabriel to solve the case and get the Rembrandt back.

The affair starts out being a simple art theft but ends up putting Gabriel and Chiara back in their old business and ends up involving spy officials from Israel, UK, USA and Switzerland before it is over.

The search takes Gabriel to Amsterdam, Argentina, Italy, and Switzerland. Turns out the painting was originally taken from a Jewish family by a German Gestapo officer during WWII. It ended up being part of a fortune confiscated from Jews and ultimately ended up funding a Swiss bank and became the foundation of an empire built by a famous billionaire Swiss industrialist.

Many over the years had been murdered to maintain the secret origins of the fortune. In the end the painting is recovered and given back to the sole survivor of the Jewish family who owned it.

I have left out all of the fun parts. A novice British journalist goes undercover to get the info needed to bring down the Swiss billionaire.   

Another non-stop action–can’t put down book by Daniel Silva with all sorts of familiar characters from previous books in the Allon series. One not to be missed. 

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-Star Wars: Fate of The Jedi Series –“Allies”

by Dr. D ~

By Christie Golden (New York: Ballantine Books, Lucasfilm LTD, 2010, 359 pages)

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The latest offering in the ‘Fate of the Jedi’ series. Grand Master Luke Skywalker is still banished and he and his son Ben continue their quest to discover what has been causing young Jedi to flip out and become crazy.

They have discovered a whole planet and culture full of Sith. Ironically they forge an alliance with the Sith in order to address a far more powerful enemy that neither will be able to eliminate alone.

As could be expected there is plenty of intrigue when you add 97 or so capitol ships full of Sith to the mix. The Sith are guaranteed to battle among themselves for supremacy, battle Luke and Ben and everyone else wherever they go.

At the end of the book the alliance is over and there is a new threat rising in the galaxy that could threaten the Galactic Alliance itself.

Meanwhile Galactic leader Natasi Daala is unaware of the new threat and is more concerned about putting down the Jedi and actually have them penned down in the Temple and the Jedi are unable to leave and support Luke and Ben against the rising Sith.       *Top

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-“The Apostle”

by Dr. D ~

*NOW IN PAPERBACK

By Brad Thor (New York: Pocket Books-Simon & Shuster, 2009, 516 pages)

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Brad Thor’s latest ‘Scot Harvath’ action adventure. This time it takes place in Afghanistan. It begins with the kidnapping of a American Doctor on a relief mission by the Taliban. They are demanding the release of one of their major terrorist leaders who had recently been captured in return for the doctor. It is an official American policy not to negotiate with terrorists.

However her mother is an influential media mogul who is close to the President and blackmails him into taking action anyway.

Scot Harvath is sent over to Afghanistan on an ‘unofficial’ mission by the newly elected President (who ironically had just let him go because he was against Harvath’s type of covert operations) to take care of the mess privately. The plan is for Scot to raid the Afghan military prison, take the Taliban leader by force and trade him for the American doctor.

As usual in a Scot Harvath story nothing goes as it was planned but it turns out for the best anyway.

This book is not only a good read but also gives the reader an opportunity to get to know the situation in Afghanistan a whole lot better. The place is out of control but there are regular folks living in villages trying to look out for there own people the best they can in the face of the Taliban onslaught and the counter attacks by the allied American forces.

There is an Afghan cultural bias against foreigners which is balanced out by an Afghan tradition offering hospitality and protection. No one likes the Taliban but at least they are Muslims and many are native Afghanis. Add to that the fact that everyone is armed with automatic weapons and nobody really likes Americans all that much and you get a glimpse of the backdrop to this story and what Harvath has to deal with.

Meanwhile back in America there is a continuing subplot surrounding a Secret Service agent that over heard the doctor’s mother blackmailing the President and this launches an undercover investigation that ultimately could end up bringing down the new President.

A real ‘page turner’ that I highly recommend. The story is particularly useful in providing a better understanding of what our military is currently facing in Afghanistan.             *Top

-“Riverworld”

by Dr. D ~

By Phillip Jose Farmer (New York: Tom Doherty Assoc.,LLC, 2010, 443 pages, including two books: “To Your Scattered Bodies Go” and “The Fabulous Riverboat”)

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The first half of the book follows Sir Richard Francis Burton who along with everyone who ever lived from early Neanderthals up to 2200 AD were resurrected at the same time into a new world along a nearly endless river.

Everyone starts off nude and without hair and It takes a while for folks to get use to their new circumstances and the parameters of the new world that they find themselves in. First they discover that many of their basic needs are taken care of each day provided by mushroom-shaped towers called "grailstones" found along the river at regular intervals.

Every person has been provided with their own personal mess kits commonly called ‘grails’ which they can place into the grail towers 3 times a day for food, drink, and other items like liquor, tobacco, drugs, and candy. The weather is perfect and there doesn’t seem to be any diseases but people can still get hurt by accident or on purpose. The resurrected folks can also die by accident or be killed but later they find themselves ‘resurrected’ again at another location along the river. Some even commit suicide hoping for a better location next time along the river.

Soon the newly resurrected people are forming protective groups that later become governments over areas of land along the river. They build homes, towns and new nations.

Religion

The old earthly religions are now rejected by most folks since this new ‘River World’ doesn’t seem to relate in any way to any of the old religious teachings. Both the ‘evil’ and the ‘good’ and everyone between from the former life has been resurrected together in this new world with total recall and no distinctions from the previous life.

A new religion started up with the idea that this new world was an opportunity to start over and become better people and make a better world without making the same old mistakes that were made in the former world and life. The new religionists are pacifists.

The Storylines

The first story revolves around English explorer Sir Richard Burton who is driven to find out who is behind the ‘resurrection’ and what it is all about. He comes to the conclusion that a super race of beings resurrected everyone who ever lived on Earth as some kind of experiment. In fact one of the super beings appears to him from time top time to help him along the way with important info. Former Nazi leader Hermann Goring is one character that keeps on showing up, first as an opponent to Burton, then later sometimes as a friend, and finally as a new resurrection religionist.

The second story revolves around Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) and his efforts to produce a new magnificent Riverboat like he use to captain down the Mississippi. His major allies and opponent is the former King John of Robin Hood fame. The story is delicious in its many twists and turns right to the end. Twain does finally build his boat but it quickly ends up far different than he planned.

The two stories merely wet ones appetite for more and there is more. Tor (Tom Doherty Assoc.) is in the midst of republishing the series and this is only the first with more to come. Can’t wait.           *Top

-“Heart of the Assassin”

by Dr. D ~

By Robert Ferrigno (New York: Scribner: Simon & Schuster, 2009, 356 pages)

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A non-stop action/adventure stand alone novel. The third and final book in the ‘Assassin’ series-previous: “Prayers For The Assassin” and “Sins of The Assassin

The year is 2045. The former United States is split in two major nations including The Islamic Republic based in Seattle and the Bible Belt in the south with a capitol in Atlanta. The Aztlan Empire (Formerly Mexico) is ready to gobble up the entire Southwest and there doesn’t appear to be any way to stop it.

Time is running out for the ‘Old One’ to establish his international caliphate. He is 150 years old and is finally degenerating. The hero of the ‘assassin series’ Rakkim is off to the contaminated Washington DC zone along with techno nerd Leo to find a sacred relic that could bring the two warring factions of the old USA back together again and counter the Aztlan encroachment. Sarah does prevail in her plans for using the ‘relic’ but in a way even she doesn’t expect.

The story starts off with Carbon–skinned super warrior Gavenholtz vowing to get Rakkim and kill his entire family. The fake preacher Malcolm Crews actually has a few real healings and seems to be somewhat changed by it all. The cruel Grand Mullah of New Fallujah- Ibn-Azziz finally has his confrontation with Rakkim after he tries to condemn survivors of a girls school fire. After all the girls were not fully clothed in their burkas since the fire was in the middle of the night.

In the end it can be said that ‘divine providence’ saves the day.

Most of the ‘organized’ religion in the series is something that most of us would rather avoid, particularly the Islamic fundamentalists and the fake Christian preachers. There are no really ‘good’ religious leaders anywhere in this series even though religion is front and center throughout. Nevertheless the story does turn out right with the ‘good’ winning out and ‘evil’ basically losing along with far better prospects for the former USA on the horizon.

This leaves us to speculate that the author may not care for organized religion all that much but does hope against hope for some kind of order and divine providence in the universe anyway. At least that is what this series seems to represent.

I highly recommend all three books. The author gives an uncanny picture of what the country might be like if the Muslims ultimately prevail and turn at least a portion of the United States into an Islamic Republic—a very scary prospect.               *Top

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-“Digging into WordPress”

by Dr. D ~

by Chris Coyier & Jeff Starr (Self Published, 2009, 400 pages)

image Self published and available in PDF form and as a ‘spiral bound’ book. The two authors really know what they are talking about when it comes to the WordPress blogging program.

<<Read the Rest on Blogging Ministry>>

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-“The Power of Surrender: Breaking Through to Revival”

by Dr. D ~

By Michael Catt (Nashville, Tennessee: B & H Publishing Group, 2010, 305 pages) 

Is the ‘prosperity gospel’ hindering revival? Pastor Michael Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church of Albany, Ga. believes so.

Pastor Catt makes a number of observations about revival in his new book:  “The Power of Surrender: Breaking Through to Revival”

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Here’s what he has to say about Revival and the Prosperity Gospel:

“Sometimes the prosperity gospel and the feel-good gospel tell people what they want to hear, But] when you lay that by the side of Jesus’ teaching [to] take up the cross – the only reason for the cross in the first century is to die – and to die daily, to crucify your flesh then you have to think how does this fit?”

“I can’t go to a guy that only has a towel around his waist and lives in a dung hut and tell him the good news you’ll get a Mercedes and you’ll go from dung to stucco because it probably won’t happen. But the power of the life changing Gospel can happen.”

The actual focus of the book is on sacrifice and revival and eliminating everything in the church that stands in the way of a new revival coming to America:

“If we’re hungry and thirsty after God, if there is a desire for more, if there is a holy dissatisfaction with the way things are, believing that surely God died for more than what we are seeing in our typical church today…”

In the book pastor Catt talks about how God is moving in his own congregation doing a sovereign work bringing many closer to God:

“We are now seeing people walk through the baptismal waters. People are being saved. Members are inviting their lost friends and unchurched neighbors. Attendance shot up. Why? Revival produces evangelism.”

Sherwood Baptist is famous for producing such movies as “Facing the Giants” and “Fireproof.”                *Top

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