Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Finally, the eBook Version of The Master Yeshua May Be Pre-ordered

The cost is $7.99 for the Kindle. You can order your copy at Amazon.com here: For the Kindle

If you have a Nook, Barnes & Noble has knocked a dollar off the price. Pre-order your copy here: For the Nook

Publication date is May 29th.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pre-ordering through Indie Shops

Some have asked me if they can't order The Master Yeshua from an independent bookstore rather than Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and the answer is always "yes." You just need the title, author, and ISBN number, and your local bookstore can order it for you. Just be aware the book is still not out until May 29th. (Those wanting ebook versions will need to wait a few more weeks, but there will be an ebook version available shortly after pub. date.)

There are a couple of online indie booksellers I know of that are offering the book for presale.

In Massachusetts, there's Readmore Books: Readmore Books

In Salt Lake City, there's the King's English Bookshop: King's English

In Wisconsin, there's Northwind Book & Fiber: Northwind Book

You can also ask your local library to order it.

I hope this helps!


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Barnes & Noble Taking Pre-Orders

Good morning, folks. If you missed it on Facebook, Barnes & Noble is now accepting pre-orders for The Master Yeshua. They're even offering a discount, so get 'em while they're hot!

Pre-Order Here


Monday, March 2, 2015

Updated Book Trailer, THE MASTER YESHUA

The book trailer is now on Vimeo:

https://vimeo.com/121086243

Those wishing to pre-order can still do so at Amazon.com (in the US, submit an email address and Amazon will let you know when the book is in stock). Or, if you prefer to order from your local bookseller, supply the title, author, and ISBN number, and they should be able to order for you whenever the book appears in their system.

Review copies are going out to various outlets this week, so fingers crossed, y'all.

Friday, February 6, 2015

A Bit of Wisdom Leading into the Weekend

 Oh, I know Max Erhmann's "Desiderata" has been quoted many, many times, but today it brought me peace when I needed it in a difficult moment. So for those not familiar with it, read on:
 
 
"Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. 
 
The Flower of Life
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
 
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. 
 
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
 
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. 
 
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.
 
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
 
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
 
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. 
 
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
 
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."
 
Max Ehrmann, "Desiderata"

Monday, January 26, 2015

Woot! Book News!


Finally heard from my publisher today with a solid "in stores" date of May 29, 2015. But I think once the book is off the presses, it will be shipped to distributors, so folks will probably be able to pre-order it, at least on amazon.com, within another couple of months. I know some folks hate amazon and would rather support their local bookseller; in that case, I'd say once the book is available for pre-order, you can supply your bookseller with the title, author, and ISBN number, and they should be able to find it for you and order you a copy.

The printed price is $22.99 USD; the ebook (Kindle) version will be $7.99.

Here's an updated book trailer with the pertinent information at the very end. I'll holla once the book is available for pre-order.






And I now have a pic of the back cover as well:


So, we're rolling right along.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Just a Helpful Reminder in a World that Seems Mad

Just watching a few trends on Facebook over the last week or so, and seeing so much anger, fear, frustration, criticism, etc, tossed about.... here are some words I try to keep in mind, which also help give me peace of mind. They are a practice and they take practice, for sure. I police myself and often find I have failed. But, the next day I get up, brush off the dust, and try, try again.

Here goes:

If you don't want your freedoms taken away, don't take away someone else's.

If you don't want someone telling you how you should act and what is "best" for you, then don't tell someone else how they should act or to do what you think is "best" for them. 

What's fair for you is fair for someone else.

If you wish others to tolerate you, then tolerate others. Better yet, if you wish others to be friendly towards you and accept you, be friendly towards them and accept them.

If you wish people to respect you, respect them.

Just because someone disagrees with you, that doesn't mean they're stupid or wrong or evil. Likewise, if you disagree with someone else, that doesn't mean you're stupid or wrong or evil.

Most people are actually doing the best they can and mean no harm; most hateful behavior arises from fear. Help abate the fear.

Saying "I'm sorry" is not a sign of weakness. It takes a big person to apologize, and it is a lot harder to do than remaining angry and refusing to educate yourself or self-examine.

Do not answer hate with hate, anger with anger. Two wrongs have never made a right. Forgiveness is always better than harboring a grudge.

Be flexible. Not all situations are black and white. Sometimes you have to be willing to bend a little in order to achieve the greater good. 

Finally, in all things, spread joy! It's way more fun.



Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Inner Worlds, Outer Worlds



A must-see. This is just the first part, but the rest is available on Youtube or on Gaiamtv.com.

Friday, December 19, 2014

TOP TEN QUESTIONS I GET ASKED ABOUT THE MASTER YESHUA, PT. 7 (END)

8. Is there any part of this book that was most enjoyable to write? Or least fun? 

Well, I already talked about the challenges that presented themselves, so that would be the least "fun"--and that applies throughout. As for most enjoyable, that's hard to say. Since the subject interests me, it was all enjoyable. I suppose if I had to pick a scene, it would be, oddly enough, the crucifixion chapter. Not because that was "enjoyable" to write in the sense of fun and exciting, but enjoyable in the sense that researching and writing it taught me a lot. Crucifixion was a horrible way to die, and the Romans had extending a person's suffering down to art form. Yet here is a man who chose to die in this way because he believed he was doing the will of God.

It raises so many questions for Joseph, who was almost four years old at the time, so he remembers the event although his parents did not let him witness it. He has, since then, however, and as an adult witnessed his fair share of crucifixions. So he's able to describe in detail what happened. And he still can't quite be sure why Jesus' death in this way had been necessary, beyond fulfilling prophecy. He understands the importance of the spiritual Resurrection, but a suffering death like that: why would God require it?

He finds an answer or two, but I don't want to spoil the book for readers. I'll just say it doesn't really have to do with Jesus being a literal sacrifice to God to atone for our sins. To repeat Jesus' words: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." He's quoting the prophet Hosea and trying to get us to see God in a different way.

9. How about a couple of easy questions? What are you, personally, reading nowadays?

Well, it's smack in the middle of finals week right now, so mostly I'm just reading student papers! But I've loaded up my Kindle for the break. I've got Donna Tartt's Goldfinch, Dolores Cannon's The Three Waves of Volunteers and the New Earth, and Gag by Melissa Unger. I've already started Michael Tobert's Cryptogram because I just love the Cathars. So far it's been pretty absorbing.

10. Anything in mind for your next writing project?

Not off hand. I'm still a bit wiped out from this last one. Friends who've followed my blog for a few years have said I should do a nonfiction book about recovery, but there are so many of these types of books out there I'm not sure I have anything new to say. I'll just have to wait and see how the spirit moves me. This last time, it happened when I conjured Joseph as a character and then he wouldn't shut up in my own imagination until I finally started writing down what he had to say. It's funny how characters take on a life of their own and become real to you. I actually became fond of old Joseph. I imagine if something like that starts happening again, I'll know it's time to start writing. 


Thursday, December 18, 2014

TOP TEN QUESTIONS I GET ASKED ABOUT THE MASTER YESHUA, PT. 6


7. In the Acknowledgments at the end of your book, you list various canonical Scriptures, non-canonical Scriptures and apocrypha, various religious studies scholars, and "streams from esoteric Christianity" as sources you relied upon in writing your book. Most people will easily accept these things except for the last. You list Edgar Cayce, for example, or authors like Dolores Cannon who worked with past-life regressions. Are you willing to believe anything?

I once had a guy tell me, "There's such as thing as keeping an open mind, and then there's such a thing as keeping your mind so open your brain falls out." I got a kick out of that and laughed, but he meant it as an insult, so I know some folks are going to think using sources like that is completely wacky. Things like remembering past lives, or out-of-body experiences or near-death experiences, or physic phenomena, are difficult for scientific materialists. If it can't be proven, then it's superstition. Therein lies the problem: these things are personal experiences, so how does one prove them?

Or, there's the other side of the coin: if it seems to contradict the accepted theology or dogma, if the unexplainable is observed or believed, then it's seen as coming from evil or being caused by a demon.

So it's extremely interesting to me that the Pharisees were forever accusing Jesus of healing or casting out demons in the name of a demon or the Devil.

I'm willing to entertain the idea that perhaps psychic or paranormal or supernatural phenomena are quite explainable: we just haven't found the explanation yet. Today's "magic" is tomorrow's "oh, that's how that's done."

This is one reason the intersection of quantum mechanics and mysticism is an area of interest to me. Physicists are starting to hypothesize about realities that mystics have been hinting at for forever. The spiritual and the scientific are starting to merge in this field. How else can you explain that a person's conscious observation seems to dictate what a particle does? Is that telekinesis, or is it something else? How can one particle seem to know what another one is doing? Do particles have consciousness? Are they telepathic? How can that be?

Is the universe itself a grand consciousness, and is that consciousness what we call God?

In fact, what is consciousness?

I don't have any answers, only glimpses and feelings and speculations, but I'm not willing to set aside a mass of very intriguing anecdotal evidence as a bunch of hallucinations or drug-induced visions or delusions or outright lies. If my character Joseph were to suddenly time travel and appear next to me in this room, and I flipped a switch and turned on a light, he'd call me a miracle worker. So I'd have to explain electricity--or maybe not, depending on whether I can explain it well enough to someone from 75 CE for him to understand it. I suppose what I'm saying is that the possibility exists that Jesus was simply such an enlightened human being that he was able to do things that, to people then and to us right now, seem unexplainable and miraculous.

It is a fabulous and wondrous mystery. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

TOP TEN QUESTIONS I GET ASKED ABOUT THE MASTER YESHUA, PT. 5

6. What credentials do you have for writing this book? You're not a priest or pastor or minister, nor even an Anne Rice, whose novels are so popular people were intrigued by the idea of her turning her pen to the story of Jesus. 

Who do I think I am, anyway, writing a gospel? Right? It's a fair question.

Well, the "academic" answer is that I do have an undergraduate degree in Religious Studies (I did a double major in that and in English). Having been brought up in a non-religious household, I totally fell into this by accident. There were distribution requirements for graduation, so I had to choose between either philosophy or religious studies. I picked religious studies for the sole reason that I had a friend, another English major actually, who raved about a certain professor. So, I took her course, and something was awakened in me. I think, now, it was a spiritual craving. But I think back then I would've just said it was an intellectual interest.

I went on to graduate school in English, and then later on I did another master's degree in creative writing. I published here and there along the way, freelancing projects as I got time. I did publish a nonfiction book, a biography, back in 1997.

But the better way to answer this question is to tell a story. It rambles, but I swear it has a point. So here goes. I teach, but I'm an introvert, so I have to admit that teaching wipes me out. Social interactions in general exhaust me. I go home, and I have to take an hour or so to simply recenter myself. Now, I never had lost my interest in religions and spirituality, and over the years I had spent time reading about various spiritual practices, but nothing had ever really stuck. I embraced just about anything as plausible if I saw it helping people--so I have friends who are pagans or witches, friends who are Buddhist, friends who are very orthodox Christian, friends who are Jewish, friends who are Muslim, friends who practice Native American spirituality. There are beautiful things in all of these religions or practices. Still, it was all rather academic to me.

I had never found peace. I knew in my heart I needed to serve others, feel that my work was meaningful in some way, so that need was met in teaching, but I still felt an emptiness, an unsettledness. And the world around me seemed so crazy--get up, go to work, come home, go to bed. Live for the weekend. More than half the people I know hate their jobs. They do them only because they have bills to pay. We spend all this time worrying about the future, too--are we putting enough, if any, money aside? Are we even able to? How will we live? Will social security even be there? Is this what life is supposed to be? Others, meanwhile, are screaming dire warnings that the End Times are near. Religious fanaticism had brought down the Twin Towers, yet I saw the sweetest young woman, a student, at work being harassed and her car vandalized for her wearing hajib. The United States is screaming "freedom," but we are invading Iraq. Nothing made sense to me. If there was God, where was God?

I ceased being able to center myself. So I did the worst possible thing a person can do: I let myself fall into a bottle of booze. Pretty cliche, right? I'd been teetering there on the lip of the bottle anyway for years, and I finally just let go. I lived a good three years of sheer hell and anguish in that dark place. Eventually I thought I was probably going to die, either from a fall or from alcohol poisoning. I just couldn't stop. I could not drink away the unhappiness or drink enough to fill up the big, gaping hole that felt like my heart.

You know where this is going, right?

I'm afraid I can't say, "I saw the Light!"

All I know is that I went to bed one night in a blackout, which was not rare at all, and woke up not remembering a thing except that I had decided to check myself into a rehab and get sober. I apparently had had an entire conversation with my wife about it the previous night, but I remembered nothing of it. All I could remember was that I'd made this decision, and to this day, I can't tell you why.

The other thing that sticks with me is another night, when I was home alone--my wife was working late--and I was drunk as usual, and I realized that I'd had too much and was likely to get sick. I was sitting up in bed, sipping water, fighting to stay awake until I'd sobered up some. I didn't want to pass out and wind up choking on my own vomit. Well, I nodded off. Suddenly, as clear as a bell, I heard a loud voice in my ear: "Wake up!" My eyes snapped open and I looked around, but no one was there. I stayed awake a while and then went on to sleep.

I don't know. Perhaps it sounds crazy. But it seems to me now something out there--something not me--was trying to intervene, trying to get me to snap out of it.

So, I got sober. And a part of being sober, at least in AA, which is where I started, is finding a spiritual practice. I didn't want a religion. I simply wanted God. There are as many ways to find God as there are people, I think. I began meditating. And, ultimately, I joined AMORC, which isn't a religion, but more of a philosophy--really a kind of non-religious, non-denominational mystical path. It's not expected that you'll believe any particular thing. It is expected that you'll find the answers if you ask the right questions and seek within yourself. Jesus became, to me, not a god, but a hero of mine, a man who found a way to God in the madness of his times.

Who am I to try and write a book inside the mind of Jesus? Not me, by any means. No, that's yet one more reason the book is from inside the mind of his nephew, Joseph. Being inside the mind of a human being trying to understand it all, and who finally reaches a kind of understanding and peace: that, I am without question, qualified to write about.



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

TOP TEN QUESTIONS I GET ASKED ABOUT THE MASTER YESHUA, PT. 4

4. Who is the audience for this book?

People who identify as spiritual, but not necessarily as religious. Those who are turned off by dogma and doctrine and religious intolerance of any kind. The modern-day mystic or seeker. Those seeking meaning in a world that seems increasingly absurd, materialistic, and meaningless. Those interested in gnosticism, the esoteric, who sense or know there is more to the world, more to the universe, than this physical, material reality. Those who wonder, perhaps even those who seek to evolve human consciousness.

Consequently, as my publisher says, the book straddles many stools but doesn't sit firmly upon any single one. For that, I'm grateful Roundfire Books was willing to take a risk with it. It's part literary, part historical, part spiritual, part Christian, even part New Age if one wishes to think about it that way. That sounds like a mess, but it all came together in a way that makes sense to me, despite certain challenges that presented themselves as I wrote it.

5. What sorts of challenges?

Well, there's always the problem of showing instead of telling. I worry that early chapters in the novel contain way too much telling. Really, it's the result of the narrator (who wasn't yet born when his uncle was born) not being an actual witness to much of the story. But he's relaying stories told by his grandparents and aunts and uncles, so when he's telling a particular tale, he'll often create a scene or try to imagine for us what it must have been like. He's also pretty chatty at times and will digress to talk about a side issue he thinks is important. Really, I was trying, as a writer, to break the narrative up, slow it down, add interest. If you take one of the gospels of the New Testament, of course, it's straight telling. You can blast through any one of them in a matter of hours. This book, I don't think, is the sort of book a person can--or will even want to--read in a single sitting.

Being written in the first person, through the eyes of Joseph, also means a certain one-dimensionality to the book: everything goes through Joseph's filter. We don't get inside the mind of anyone else. For me, that's not really a problem, though. The book is as much about Joseph as it is about his uncle Yeshua and the early Church. For we are all Joseph: people trying to figure out what Jesus' presence on this earth really meant, and means.

And choosing the first person was also how I got around--I hope successfully--the sticky problem of the supernatural, or the miracles. It's tough to make a scene believable for today's reader when you have a character healing someone, or turning water into wine, or raising someone from the dead. Joseph believes it because his father and uncle James saw it. He personally knows Simon Peter and Mary of Magdala, and they, too, saw it all. He'll say when he thinks some detail has been exaggerated, but if you accept Joseph as a reliable narrator, which I mean him to be, then you have to at least be willing to entertain that he's not telling tall tales or is absolutely off his rocker. These are wonders and mysteries. I hope I've written Joseph believably enough that readers are willing to suspend any disbelief.

Heaven knows, the book cooked in my head for years and years before I finally decided to take two semesters off from teaching and write it. It's an ambitious book. As such, there will always be parts I think are flawed or that I wish I could've done better. But I can't quibble with it forever--it was time to let it out into the world. 


Monday, December 15, 2014

TOP TEN QUESTIONS I GET ASKED ABOUT THE MASTER YESHUA, PT. 3

3. We all know the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, and that he has two sisters, Mary and Martha, but in your book, those three characters take on a life entirely different from the Biblical versions in a way some people, particularly Evangelicals, would be offended by. I don't want to give out any spoilers, but are you adding your own politics to this book?

Well, we've been politicizing religion and the life of Jesus since Jesus walked the earth. In more recent times, the Bible has been used to justify slavery, to justify the oppression of women, to oppose interracial marriage, and even now to justify discriminating against gay people. Those things don't mesh well with what I see as the "bottom line" message of Jesus: judge not and treat others as you would like to be treated.

My narrator often grapples with what he thinks at times might be a "lax" uncle--he considers his uncle's refusal to stone the adulterous woman, however, and uses that as a benchmark by which to measure his own actions. "God desires mercy," is a line that comes up repeatedly. So Joseph at times struggles to use his uncle's life to guide him in his own actions.

But in his own life Jesus himself was a political character--he was quite anti-establishment, and for this he was crucified. He criticized the Pharisees for forever adhering to the letter of the Law rather than the spirit of the Law. It's okay to heal on the Sabbath, for example, for that's the greater good. Many of the Pharisees--and certainly not the Sadducees--did not like Jesus because, in their minds, he was just another rabble-rousing troublemaker from the Galilee, a place of bandits and rebels.

As a gay Christian, which I know will be an oxymoron to some folks, it saddens me to see a message of love, hope, joy, and freedom turned into precisely the kind of behavior Jesus rebuked others for. But my narrator, Joseph, tries teasing all of this out, trying to figure out what's ethical and moral behavior and what isn't and how one decides. I won't give away his answer. People will have to read the book!

But as I said earlier, there's very little in the book that doesn't have a real source or story or tradition behind it somewhere. Here, I drew on two. First is the Secret Gospel of Mark. (Folks can look that up if they want.) There's an undeniable homoerotic element to one account in that gospel that appears to derive from the Lazarus story, so in my book, I wrote it this way: Lazarus is confounded after being brought back to life and asks Jesus if he can't spend the night with him. At first the disciples just figure, "Well, he's been dead and might be afraid he'll die again, so he wants to be near the Lord in case he needs to be brought back again." But in the morning when the two men emerge from the room together very late, they can't help wondering if something else had been going on. This offers Jesus a platform from which to speak to the issue of homosexuality--because the canonical gospels, of course, don't say a thing. In his usual fashion, he tells them two stories to illustrate his point. He also uses this as one more opportunity to teach about the nature of sin.

The second source derives from well after the time period in question but is still intriguing to me because it does seem to indicate that gay marriage was accepted in the earlier Church. So, Jesus' story in my book, the story he tells of the two Roman soldiers, derives from this. I'll just link to the source itself, here.

I'm aware all of this might anger some people, but on the other hand, I think ethics challenge us to continually ask, "What's the greater good?" in any given situation.  Since homosexuality is a present-day hot potato political issue, it would have seemed cowardly to me to not address it somehow.