Category Archives: Crossing the Threshold of Eternity

BOOKS YOU’LL LOVE; THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY

BOOKS YOU’LL LOVE; THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY

   “And why did you write that story?”
     Authors hear the question everyday. What’s hidden within the folds of the story? What secrets created the tale I’m telling. When the book is non-fiction,
the riddle may even be more intriguing. During the decades that I wrote my 32 published books, these are the back pages behind the headline episodes.
Here are the fascinating scenes behind the big picture!

THE ASSASSINS

            People often ask where I get the ideas for my books with a range from near-death experiences (Non-fiction, Crossing the Threshold of Eternity) to World War II adventures (Fiction, The Narrow Door at Colditz). I imagine different authors have very different approaches to the question. One of my dearest friends is a romance writer who dreams (literally) her plots. That’s a fascinating one for you! I find her angle truly intriguing.

In my case, there are a number of factors at work. In the first place, I never intended to be a writer. One of my college degrees is in art and ceremics. Painting the great watercolor attracted me. I got into writing when a publisher heard a series of tapes I produced on amalgamating psychology and theology. Hesitantly, I ended up producing a little book called, Your Churning Place and that started the typewriter clicking. With time, I got so deeply into writing, I didn’t have time for my art work anymore. (That’s changed lately)

As a reluctant author, my fiction books, like The Assassins, have grown out of a number of factors. Certainly, travel created a unique context. As I noted in earlier blogs, my time in Russia filled in many of the blank spaces in my thinking. Somewhere along the way, I lost count of how many countries I have visited. I know it’s over 60 and touches every continent except Australia. Travel always confronts one with the unexpected and that provides material for writing. My time spent in Rome and the Vatican offered surprises and exciting twists for novels. During the days of Apartheid, I traveled to Sourth Africa and even stayed in a black township (which was then illegal). For me, travel has turned out to be significant.source of information in writing books.

I find information in newspapers peakes my curosity. Before I wrote The Assassins, I began gathering data on the internet attack on Iranian computers that halted their nuclear program. The more I read about the Strunex virus, the more I pondered how such an attack might have occurred. From those stories began to evolve the plot that turned into a book. One of my favorite writers is Daniel Silva with his stories of international intrigue. In an unexpected way, Daniel Silva’s influence contributed to my own story.

Actually, reading is one of the most important activites any writer can do. I find many people who want to write never read. Sorry. It won’t work. Reading takes one into worlds that can never be visited but can be experienced through words. Books indirectly help stimulate one’s ability to use words. Perusing through books helps you come to grips with your own style and voice. Writing a book may sound like a fascinating idea, but if you don’t want to read all the time, put that idea in the closet with Santa Claus.

Where’s all this going? Well, the bottom line on what makes an author (in my opinion) is imagination. You can learn the technics of grammar and and style, but no one can teach you imagination. E.B. White wrote the classic on writing simply, but he can’t tell you how to go to the moon in a rocket ship called magic thinking. Visonary thinking keeps the world spinning and the plot thickening. It’s the greatest fun in the world. And makes books happen!

So, let your mind roll on and what comes out may really surprise you.!

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TAKING THE MEASURE OF A GREAT LEADER

TAKING THE MEASURE OF A GREAT LEADER

            The passing of Yitzhak Shamir was noted but not particularly observed across the world. The former Prime Minister of Israel is certainly worthy of a second look. Because of his age of 98, many will only remember him vaguely if at all. Nevertheless, Yitzhak Shamir was an important stepping stone who left many stories in his wake.

Jerusalem resident Batya Berlinger remembered walking down a Jerusalem street in the autumn of l986. A short, stocky man walking with a much taller friend was approaching. Batya gave a second look and realized it was Shamir. As he passed Shamir bowed his head in greeting and acknowledged Batya as a fellow citizen. Berlinger remembered thinking how good it was to see the Prime Minister observing the Sabbath by walking, not driving, and being just “one of the people.”

Within Israel, left-wing critics attacked him for his refusal to budge on Israel’s claim to the land and his stauch rightists positions. At the same time, his accomplishments remain highly significant. In 1991, he airlifted 14,000 Ethopian Jews to Israel. In addition, he made sure that hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews would come to Israel. Shamir fought to change Israel’s international standing. During his tenure, he reestablished diplomatic relations with several dozen countries.

Shamir characteristically didn’t talk much about himself and kept  his cards close to the vest. His personal life stayed private. However, he emerged from a fascinating segment that produced the state of Israel. While this is my personal recollection and evaluation, I call Shamir a revolutionary. He emerged from the underground Lehi organization also known as the Stern Group –or called by his enemies, the Stern gang. Named for the murdered charismatic poet Avraham Stern, the group became an underground force in creating the new state of Israel. Shamir emerges as a silent influence when he worked in the unseen group in 1940 until he resigned from the Mossad agency in l963.

In a rare interview, Sharmir said, “All our life in this land is a revolution.” When he joined the effort to eject the British even though many community leader’s opposed the idea, he saw himself acting on behalf of what was best for the Jewish state whether everyone agreed or not.  He perceived  Zionism as a revolutionary process in which sentiment and human weakness had to be ignored. Shortly after the murder of Avraham Stern, he escaped from a British detention camp and began to consider the assassination of the British minister of state for the Middle East. Two years later Lord Moyne was assassinated in November 1944. Because revolution is by nature what it is, revolution requires one to do what must be done, even in politics and personal relationships.

On the other hand, when a comrade wanted to kill Jews in order to cause Jews to kill the British, Sharmir ordred his elimination to stop the killing. Once the period of violent activity passed, Sharmir never targeted the British again. While political scientists debate the meaning of revolution, Shamir’s role in both creating and sustaining the state remains as a record of how this radical aspect operated in the early history of the country.

All agree,Yitzhak Shamir played a highly significant role in establish the nation of  Israel.

 

Question:   Do you find it difficult to perceive a prime minister of Israel to have once been a terrorist?  Does such a role fit in our contemporary world?

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All the signs of Halloween.

All the signs of Halloween are out.

Pumpkins, cobwebs, scary window decorations everywhere.  Fake spiderwebs are in the trees, draped over front doors.  Costumes are in every store, even the grocery store.

It’s become a major American event. But what does this holiday reflect? I believe it demonstrates our fear of the unknown. We created creatures of horror from the grave that only reflect our apprehension.

There is hope.  We do not have to fear the unknown, the Christian message has a contrary message. The sting has been removed from death. We not longer have to be afraid. Leave all those fears in the ground where they belong, rejoice.

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Love doesn’t die at the edge of a grace.

In Mexico they celebrate Las Dia de los Mueratos, the Day of the Death. The customs look strange to us but it reminds me of the story of the man placing flowers in a cemetery.  He noticed a Chinese man putting rice on a grave. He yelled, “When do you expect your dead ancestor to come up and eat the rice?” The man answered, “About the same time, yours comes up to smell the flowers.”
    I am reminded that the deceased remain precious to us. We honor them in many ways, but they all mean the same thing. Love doesn’t die at the edge of a grace.

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Halloween…. Zombies…. Goblins…. Death….

 I’ve been putting up our fall decorations. In Oklahoma, the weatherman appears to think we’re still in summer, but we know that cooler weather is coming no matter what he says!
The leaves are changing color, the air seems a little crisper, the sun is going down earlier and coming up later…
    The local stores are now packed out with Halloween decorations and it’s only the lst of October! Halloween’s become bigger than Christmas. I am stuck by the fact that we have a strange view of death. Halloween appears to say that the dead become monsters of some sort. Zombies. Whatever. But by interviews with people with near-death experiences reports the contrary. The Christian faith teaches the opposite. In death we become whole and completed persons.  I am looking forward to the day when I am a complete person serving my creator in eternity.

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9-11

With the observance of 9-11 behind us, I can’t stop thinking about the number of people who died in the tragedy. At the same time, I am reminded of the Moslem world in the Middle East who rejoiced in the deaths of all of those innocent people. In that part of the world, they value existence in difference terms. It is a sharp contrast in recognizing the value of human life. One of the reminders we receive from “near-death” experiences is that every life is of supreme worth.

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Crossing the Threshold of Eternity… about the book.

In many instances, people avoid the hospital or home once they learn that someone is on his or her deathbed, and they may go to great lengths to avoid a conversation or encounter with the dying person.  Others develop assumptions that the terminally ill change and no longer need or want the relationships they have enjoyed all their lives.  While it is true that death takes us to a different place, in our final lap around the track, everyone still needs warmth and caring.  My intention is to offer you assurance that you extended hand will still be deeply appreciated by those preparing to leave this world.

Many, many people are unsure of how to talk with a person standing on the threshold of death.  The thought of having a conversation with someone who has one foot over the line can feel foreboding or threatening.  Consequently, people pretend that the person will not die or try to ignore the situation altogether.  They look the other way and the dying pay the price of loneliness.  I believe that we can change that picture.  By the time you’ve finished this book, I hope you’ll no longer have such feelings.  You’ll discover that we can easily talk to the dying and discover their feelings and perceptions.

Our job is to learn how to ask the right questions that will allow the dying to share their inner experiences.  You might be surprised to discover what a person will tell you about how it feels to walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  I will explore how to appropriately ask those questions.

In order to find the courage to explore these issues, we must be able to think about our own deaths constructively and become comfortable with the idea of our own death.  I hope that by the time you finish this book, you will have made peace with the fact of your own demise.

Most of all, I want to offer you a promise that has motivated Christians for centuries.  Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, the Church has always proclaimed victory over death.  This promise shows us that we do not have to be afraid.  Each of us should not only be comfortable with our own demise, but we should also eagerly await this coming transition.  Does this sound strange? It shouldn’t.  The apostles wrote large chunks of the New Testament to explain how this promise can be ours.  Their clues can help you find peace in this subject.

My hope is that this book will help you accomplish that purpose once and for all.

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Stories about Crossing over….

Recently, I was talking with a hospice nurse about her experiences. She confirmed what I’ve found in my own experience.  To the surprise of many people, it is not unusual in the final moments of life for the dying to begin talking with individuals that no one can see. Often these encounters are written off as hallucinations even though they are quite different from hallucinatory experiences.
I am convinced we must learn how to honor these moments and learn from them. Anyone out there have similar stories and experiences they can share? I’d love to hear them.  

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Maybe Love Doesn’t Always Win?

Across the country a debate is raging over Rob Bell’s LOVE WINS.
Bell advocates universal salvation while being an evangelical, this is very controversial. Usually those two positions are mutually exclusive! Certainly, biblically oriented conservatives won’t be, and are not happy with his position.
What did my research reveal? (Sorry, Rob Bell.) The evidence of near-death experiences is not on your side. I found that a significant number of people had experiences on the dark side. Chapter Eight in CROSSING THE THRESHOLD OF ETERNITY details these stories. Cardiologists Mauric Rawlings discovered that half the people he interviewed reported a frightening place they had descend to.
The evidence is challenging!

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Friendship that’s a Cancer….

Yesterday I interviewed a man who is dying with Ewing’s Cancer. It is a rare disease in which cancer cells are found in the boneor in soft tissue. The most common areas in which it occurs are the pelvis, the femur, the humerus, the ribs and clavicle.. He’d been a Marine in Iraq before being hit by the dreadful disease. He was in the care of his wife and most likely, won’t live more than a few weeks at most. Probably less. During our time together I asked him what he’d learned from his painful struggle.
He told me that he’d been deeply disappointed in how few friends had stuck with him. Most didn’t know what to do with a friend dying.  He realized that some just were interested in what he could do for them. Those friends drifted away. He also told me that his painful journey had helped him come to know what a true friend was.
Reflecting after the interview, I thought how important it is to stay close to our friends or anyone struggling with pain. We do have the capacity to impart love through our caring. Could there be a better gift?

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