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The Power (captured in the words of Kahlil Gibran)

kahlil-gibranI just read The Crucified by Kahlil Gibran, and then found it published in this blog entry  by Dave Feucht. I offer it to you with this introduction and prayer:

In the words of Gibran:

On this one day of each year, the philosophers leave their dark caves, and the thinkers their cold cells, and the poets their imaginary arbors, and all stand reverently upon that silent mountain, listening to the voice of a young man saying of his killers, “Oh Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”

But as dark silences chokes the voices of the light, the philosophers and the thinkers and the poets return to their narrow crevices and shroud their souls with meaningless pages of parchment.

Please, dear friends, don’t let it be this way for us this Easter season. Let us use the power in our words to tell our readers something they need to know! Something that may bring them more joy or understanding or even a greater capacity and desire to love one another.  Amen.

“Hidden in Dreams” – A review of Davis Bunn’s new novel

Story Synopsis

Foretelling the future through dreams is—for nearly everyone—a compelling frame for storytelling. And we all know that not everything is as it seems, but I did not for a moment foresee the surprising twist to the prophesy of these dreamers. As Davis Bunn stated in his author note, he had to use his expertise from several careers to explain the aftermath realistically.

Davis uses the still-desperate economic conditions in the world as a backdrop to send a warning of the lengths to which greedy corporate types will go to gain more wealth and more power. Unlike so much  of what has occurred during the last four years, though, the bad guys in the novel are caught and will likely be convicted, but the first priority is to stabilize global financial markets.

Less significant, but effective for a good read, is a romance with two very eligible men vying for one woman, the protagonist. It’s pretty clear early on which one she will choose; and almost too sweet that her Christian values are mirrored in the perfect guy, a widower and her mentor, whose daughter takes to her immediately as a mother-replacement.

*My Evaluation

  • Command of language:  5 stars
    Varied sentence structure; word choices that paint vivid pictures; realistic dialogue.
  • Characterization: 4 stars
    All the main characters were fairly well developed, although not terribly unique. The bad guys were…all bad; and the good guys rarely stepped out of character, either.
  •  Creativity:  5
    The plot displayed an extremely creative mind. (I expected that—it’s what has made Davis Bunn one of my favorite authors—and I was not disappointed.)
  •  Content suitable to diverse audience(s):  4 stars
    This one seems to be written almost exclusively for Christian readers. The protagonist and all those who work closely with her often pray together. The one who chooses not to is somewhat ostracized. As great as the power of prayer is and as needed in our chaotic world, I think a more subtle approach—or maybe a stronger approach showing God at work—would reach audiences who might be turned off by all the spotlight on pray-ers.
  • Connection (and application) to current issues: 4.5 stars
    The timing for this story is excellent; economic conditions are still fragile and exposing too many people to painful choices and harsh living conditions. My only concern is the realism of the ending.

             Average – 4.5 stars

****

Tomorrow I will add Bunn’s answers to interview questions about this book. Please come back and bring some questions of your own!

Follow this link to read Chapter One of Hidden in Dreams

*I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Are there any servant leaders among The Company Men?

After watching the movie, The Company Men, with Ben Affleck, etal, I was initially appalled at the so true depiction of a CEO who eliminates a large part of his workforce, even those who helped him climb the ladder of success, while he grabs the brass ring—making among the highest earnings of corporate leaders.

The New York Times review

It is so difficult to understand what enables a human being to treat others, especially employees, with a total lack of compassion. In the movie, the CEO, James Salinger (played by Craig T. Nelson), counters the revulsion expressed by Gene McClary (the character of Tommy Lee Jones), commenting that their employees were paid well while they worked for them.  Salinger cares nothing about what the shocking loss of their jobs (at a time when good jobs are hard to find) will do to long-term, loyal workers.

What it does is force one (Ben Affleck) to take his family and move in with his parents while taking a much lower-paying construction job; justifies suicide for a 60 year old who had been a faithful employee from the day the manufacturing company started; and moves McClary to risk starting a new company with several former employees.

Is there a servant/relational leader in the group? I suggest that McClary qualifies. He portrays the one who cares what happens to others, speaks out against injustices (even though it eventually costs him his job) and helps others achieve and benefit from collective hard work.

If we discover and support the servant leaders in today’s business environment, we may experience what is written in Proverbs 28:28: “When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding; but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive.”

Will you please help me commend the servant leaders among us?

Another’s Version of Heaven (via Dante)

As I looked for others’ viewpoints of what people (deceased) do in heaven, I was reminded of Paradiso (the last book of the Divine Comedy), the work of the man considered  by many to be the world’s greatest poet, Dante Alighieri

Here is a commentary on a small section of Paradiso on Nathan Gilmour’s blog, “Hardly the Last Word”:

I still get goosebumps when Dante rises to the seventh sphere and everything goes blank on him. The music of heaven stops playing, Beatrice’s face becomes a mask, and everyone speaks in hushed tones. When he asks the spirit of St. Benedict what has happened, the old monk tells him that the music and the beauty of this sphere is actually greater than any of the six before, but for a mortal, even one saved, to behold it would destroy him with the intensity of its harmony and splendor.

Working Conditions in Heaven

This is a continuation of yesterday’s blog. Come with me as the curtain is lifted and we get a glimpse of what heaven’s residents do (with apologies for offering only a finite perspective on the infinite!).

In the next instant Kirk was transported through the ultimate mystery into glory, to an experience radically new yet tinged with the familiar, a place of radiance, purity, peace, vibrant colors and dramatic energies.

“Can you describe what you are seeing and feeling, Kirk?”

Busyness; How astonishing! I see beings doing a great variety of activities, all with a look of pure contentment. Beauty beyond belief; I see colors that are indescribable; light-reflecting brilliance that seems to bathe everything in splendor. But also beauty in every face and body, the breathtaking kind associated with cherry blossoms at their perfection or the sun’s transforming touch on earth and water at day’s end. I wish I knew more descriptive words… Power; I feel a power that is nothing like the competitive strivings within human hierarchies; instead I sense the unalterable assurance that what is desired is happening because it should, and therefore, this power is a completely uninhibited, natural force. Interdependence; I’m feeling entirely unique and absolutely necessary to every other being, not just for what I can do but because of who I am fully integrated with who they are and what they can do.

“It is very clear to me that what I see and feel is not the result of a natural interplay of forces, but something much more intentional: the only word that comes to me is perfection. Everything I observe and sense seems to be wrapped in something from which it draws its manner or structure. Is it God?”

“Your response is accurate as far as is humanly possible to experience and define. Instantly, you have entered into seventh heaven, known as the dwelling place of God and His angels, and instantly, you knew the transfiguration of the environment and yourself.

“What stands out as the most shocking revelation in what you are learning?”

“I’m most startled by the busyness of its inhabitants and the diversity of their activities. I thought the only act of the heavenly beings was worship.”

“It is, but most humans separate worship from work. Bringing your gifts to the altar—using your talents productively—is the vanguard activity of worship because it brings boundless joy to supplier and recipient. Think of how you feel when you give a gift or a compliment. And think of how you feel—after you overcome the uneasiness— when you receive a precious gift or sincere compliment. Now eliminate all the mental and physical barriers to doing exactly and only what you love most. How often would you choose work defined that way over idleness? How difficult would it be to obey if you were being asked to do that which brings you sheer joy, never exhausting and always beneficial?

If this environment was yours, and you were interconnected with all other passionately engaged humans who had previously crossed over, think of the potential impact of any assignment!

_____________________

What do you think people do after they cross over? Are our images dissimilar or close? Or has the question never come up?

Novel Excerpt: An Invitation to Step Behind the Veil

In yesterday’s post, Zachri, a spirit guide, suggests a partnership with Kirk, currently in a coma but able to interact spirit to spirit. The conversation continues:

You still don’t understand that heaven is not a setting reserved for the future. It’s already here, but in a dimension of time and space that can rarely be penetrated. Your earthly nature is somewhat like the negative of 35 mm film—the negative is a tonal inversion of the normal film, making the light seem dark— whereas, in the heavenly realm darkness is replaced by light. Everything that is visible is darkened­—or less important, but all this is invisible now—or not understood—becomes transparent in heaven. Human beings innately know that or they wouldn’t declare that the most amazing things rather than the commonplace are heavenly. But nothing I could say would have the impact of one step behind the veil that separates the earthly from the heavenly. Shall we go?”

Will you join me here tomorrow to accompany Kirk on a visit into “the afterlife?”

The Hereafter: Matt Damon’s Portrayal vs My Perception

Matt Damon as George in the movie, Hereafter, is a reluctant mediator between living people and their deceased family members. George is not a hoaxer; he doesn’t want to have contact with deceased people but it’s his “gift” and others seek him out because they desperately want the messages he conveys. The movie seems to be trying to say that there is a hereafter, an afterlife.

I do not question whether there is; I believe in heaven.  What I want to know is what our loved ones who have crossed over are doing. Can they still reach out to us, even intervene in our lives. I have expressed my belief (or is it my hope) in a scene in my manuscript, Pieces of You.  I would love responses from others who either disagree or have a different perception of life in the afterlife. Here’s a little bit of mine:

 “So what you’re saying, my angelic friend, is that my foreknowledge is what she needs to make enlightened requests! So let me live and carry this knowledge with me as I return to a conscious state. Maybe my question should be—without being disrespectful—is why do I need to join you?”

“Well Kirk, a human with a resurrected body can commune with the uncountable others in this spiritual realm, but you cannot know what’s in the minds of other living human beings. You never could discern what someone else was thinking (even though once or twice you thought you had a glimpse), and you  never will. That is not part of the human condition. We, who were always in the spiritual dimension, can. What we are not capable of is fully understanding human emotion since that has never been our experience; therefore, in partnership with you, we can with certainty direct activities that will fulfill your requests–and hers.”

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