From Liberty to Magnolia

From Liberty to Magnolia, In search of the American Dream ISBN: 9781641147521, Christian Faith Publishing, a Memoir by Janice S. Ellis, PhD.

Perhaps the best way to describe this book is to provide material from the Forward followed by a few of the details. This story “is a true, powerful, and compelling story about the enduring scourge of racism and sexism in America. It is a personal account of how that bane of evil plays out in the lives of blacks and women despite the great promise of the American Dream being available to and achievable by everyone. It shows how, more often than not, access to the playing field and the rules of the game are not fairly applied among men and women, blacks and whites, even when they come prepared with equal or better qualifications and value sets to play the game.” It covers the period from when she was born on a small farm in Mississippi situated between two small towns just miles from the Louisiana border up to the present. The birthplace is of importance because it was in the days when racism still was at its worst and Mississippi which was “the poorest and most racist state in the Union and Louisiana is second.” There then follows Part 1 that is a rather extensive recounting of her early childhood with many descriptions of intercourse with her mother, father, family, teachers and acquaintances. Then a recounting of her first marriage which degenerated into an abusive relationship which she endured because of the beliefs instilled in her from her earliest days until a divorce resulted largely because of the husband’s insistence. Then descriptions of her dogged tenacity of purpose to continue attempting to advance in business, politics and entrepreneurial endeavors simultaneously earning a living for herself and her children and still managing to advance to attain her long desired PhD. She describes in detail constant encounters with “conflicting cultural principles and practices, dual morality and mores” as she attempts to advance in her multiple endeavors.

Discussion/Conclusion: This author has written one of the most detailed memoirs this reviewer ever has read and no doubt, has experienced a well-deserved catharsis. Further, she has described many instances and activities that perhaps were not particularly well thought out. However, many of her offerings would be well worth a reader’s time to give second thoughts. So, if memoir and/or the subjects of racism, sexism and or cultural differences are within your sphere of interest, you will find much to ponder in this book.

5* For readers interested in memoirs, racism, sexism, cultural elements.

Blood Symbols

Blood Symbols ISBN: 9780620738507, Amazon Edition, a fictional e-book copyright and written by Izak Botha.

Plot: Jennifer Jaine, a young devoutly Catholic woman working for her Doctorate in Religion gains an opportunity from a prominent news organization to interview Cardinal Cardoni, perhaps the most powerful man in the Vatican besides the Pope. She is quite shocked to find him quite inadequately prepared for his position. His answers are based on conjecture rather than actual evidence, mostly age-old tradition where missing portions had been replaced by earlier texts (which also were missing). It was not known who wrote them and when. The Gospels were not written by the Apostles as the earliest manuscripts appeared around 300 CE. Interestingly, the Epistles of Saint Paul were written about 45 – 60 AD, the Gospels supposedly postdate Paul by decades but do not mention him. She is quite pragmatic because of long-standing frustration and becomes quite confrontational and even rude

Meanwhile, Cardinal Leonardo Santori knifes to death young Father John Yilmaz because he has discovered a secret of the church in the well-hidden vault beneath the Penitentiary office. And unfortunately, all of these matters are occurring at an unfortunate time with the Vatican already haunted by a number of years of negative publicity. Added to the upheaval, another intruder is discovered and cannot be stopped before he escapes and it is found that he has taken the ancient secret document that could lead to dissolution of the Catholic faith and the premises upon which it had been administered for centuries. Specifically, the document written in the 12th century, provides some answers to, and many questions about, the discrepancies between the lives and writings of Peter and Paul and their relationship to Jesus all stemming from the original church’s site in Antioch, now the city of Antakya, Turkey.

Still an additional imminently catastrophic incident threatens when a highly disturbed individual has appeared threatening another part of the Vatican. He has a bomb sufficiently powerful to destroy a huge part of the city. Schneider, a devout defender of the Holy See in charge of the Helvetian Guards, must attempt to save the compound from suffering such destruction. From these fascinating initiating factors, the tale continues with a confrontational relationship between the well-prepared Schneider and Verretti, the self-serving head of security for the Vatican. An important part is offered with the appearance of Simon who is a Jew but a Turkish resident with long familial history in Antioch. He now is one of the specialists working at a Turkish licensed dig of the ancient Cave Church in Antioch and incidentally related to the Priest killed by Santori. Simon is aided at times by the professor in charge of the excavation and by Giogio Castignani, the son of a former Sicilian Mafiosi Boss. The action in parts is full throttle but interspersed with other sections of lengthy discussion of the writings of Paul and Peter and replete with supportive and contradictory biblical facts as the tale proceeds finally to reach a conclusion of sorts.

Discussion: The author has provided, as stated, a story with several intertwining sub-plots and an overall rather uneven approach. Parts provide a high-test thriller while others spend considerable time on a slow, methodical discussion of factual material. Basically it is another quite fascinating story following the long-standing controversy of conflicting statements, especially with respect to the Gospel according to Peter and to Paul. It is suggested that “scripture offers enough circumstantial evidence that Peter did not convert gentiles in Antioch and that he never was in Rome.” The author further sets forth his belief that the differences in the two men’s stories in how the Christian Church was begun could form the basis of the church’s founding suspect and he does proceed to supply most interesting material. He also makes another interesting statement with respect to the soul: that “Lack of evidence cannot support a belief, but it is also no argument against it. Lord suggests in the Gospel of Matthew – body, soul and mind? (Thus,) The inability of technology to identify the soul does not negate its existence.”

Summary: The pace of this story ranges from an almost frenetic velocity to lengthy, slow-moving explanations and discussions. BUT, it presents a fascinating ‘take’ on the development of the Catholic Church, the relationship of Jesus and disciples Peter and Paul and upon what passages from the writings of these individuals may indicate with respect to the entire matter. In spite of the uneven presentation of the inter-related sub-plots and the complexity involved character involvement, the tale should provide enjoyment for readers who enjoy thrillers, yet it offers much intriguing material to the individual who may think, even occasionally, about the long-argued controversial passages in the Scripture. This reader found the presentation intriguing, even with the areas and descriptions that were overdone and/or slow in development and presentation.

4* 5* story with regrettable -1 for reasons described.”