The Notice Serves Up Gritty Realism and an Emotional Wallop

Daniella Bova has done it again. If this new author had any concerns about her sequel living up to expectations, she can definitely put them to rest. Her follow-up to the excellent dystopia Tears of Paradox packs a powerful emotional punch while drawing readers more deeply into the perilous world inhabited by main characters Michelle and Jason. An America in which the assault and seizure of rural and small-town life by an ever-expanding, controlling, and centralized government (e.g. “the sharks”) grows ever more suffocating with each turn of the page.

In a society where family members have become brutal enemies and not even the seal of the confessional can be taken for granted, everyone becomes a suspect in a never-ending quest for survival. Want to live and worship as you please? Too bad. Want to have a baby with your husband? You’d better be willing and clever enough to secure a hideaway unless you want to incur the wrath of Gaia-worshiping zealots whose supposed concern for earth and animals does not extend to innocent human life. Got a problem with men raping young boys? You’d best keep your outrage to yourself…or else.

Are you getting the bleak picture?

Before I depress you sufficiently enough to eschew this book altogether, the author manages to balance the darkness with glimmers of actual hope in the form of human defiance and Godly assistance. A thread of the supernatural (expressed eloquently through the use of water imagery and other effective literary devices) weaves its way determinedly through the novel, strengthening resolve and lighting each step of the way. What God decrees, no man can oppose — not even the sharks — though they certainly put up one hell of a good, demonic fight.

Don’t get me wrong: there are no actual spirit demons in the novel, although based on the evil actions many of the secondary characters routinely engage in, possession is a logical conclusion and the only explanation for those who believe in Father, Son, Holy Spirit, heaven, and hell.

Unlike futuristic dystopia novels, Bova’s books are terrifying precisely because they’re set in the not-too-distant future — an America that has been fundamentally transformed. It’s a place none of us wants to visit or reside in, but within the bounds of fiction, the author provides a spine-chilling glimpse into our looming reality if we don’t abruptly change course and embrace the principles of individual liberty, personal responsibility, limited government, national sovereignty and — lest we forget in our increasingly secular humanist culture — freedom of religion.

Congratulations to Daniella Bova for a job well done!

Purchase The Notice here. Get Tears of Paradox for 99 cents on Kindle here.

This review is cross-posted at American Journal and Amazon.



More on Steps To Salvation

STSCoverWEBAs I mentioned in my last post, we’re getting ever so close to publication of Shlomo Attia’s breakthrough novel. And from the beginning of the process which began nearly four years ago, he warned me that writing this book and promoting his concepts might create controversy among my friends and acquaintances. He was right. I’m already finding that the logo alone is enough to turn off some readers even before they’ve checked out his blog, read his story and absorbed his synopsis. The man is a believer in individual liberty, in limiting the size and scope of government, and in empowering all people to work at fulfilling jobs to enable them to earn plenty of money to support themselves and their families.

He also believes that the God of Abraham, the God of Jacob, the God of Ishmael and the God of Jesus is the God of All. So far, so good. But there’s more. He also believes in reincarnation. And he believes that hell is not a fiery punishment reserved for bad people when they die: he believes hell is life on earth. And therein lies the rub with most traditionally religious people of all faiths and denominations.

In my daily life I regularly encounter Catholics and Christians who seem to believe that if you’re not onboard with their religious beliefs, you cannot possibly be a constitutional conservative. Which I find both perplexing and wrong – not to mention alienating and destructive. I have many friends on social media and real life who are not practicing Christians yet believe strongly in limited government, individual liberty, religious freedom, peace through strength and generally speaking, the principles outlined in the United States Constitution. Some are “New Age-y” types; others are Atheists. Are we to kick them out of the Tea Party movement because they don’t share the same religious beliefs?

To that end, even within the Christian denomination I’m sick of the in-fighting: Evangelicals attacking Catholics for “worshipping” Mary, the Mother of Jesus (they revere and respect her, but the “worship” falsehood lives on), Catholics attacking Protestants, and each denomination claiming they’re right and everyone else is wrong, wrong, wrong. Hey, each group has an absolute right to their beliefs and ensuing opinions based on those beliefs. But that’s my point: we should all be united in the effort to preserve every individual’s right to worship as they see fit — even if that form of worship conflicts with your own.

As long as a person’s religious beliefs do NOT compel them to engage in human sacrifice; mutilate genitalia; hijack airplanes filled with innocent passengers and crew for the purpose of crashing them into the ground or ocean in the name of Allah; rape; pillage or otherwise harm another human being’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; I really don’t care what they do. It’s about freedom. It’s about having the free will to worship (or not) as you please, WITHOUT the government forcing you to violate your religious beliefs. If the faithful person in question is completely WRONG in his beliefs and practices, I suppose God will sort that out with him or her at the end of their life, anyway.

Isn’t individual liberty something we should encourage all Americans to support? So why are so many purposely creating dissension in the ranks over religion?

I never thought I’d ever be one of those people who decries man-made religion. But after spending several years researching and writing Steps To Salvation, I’ve had an epiphany of sorts. Study the history of money. Study the history of the Vatican in 15th and 16th centuries. Study what really prompted the Protestant Reformation (hint: indulgences, a sickening practice of extorting money from the well-meaning faithful to spring the soul of their loved one from purgatory). It’s been an enlightening road, to put it mildly.

At the same time it’s not my goal to force anyone to believe what I believe. But that is exactly my point: let’s all support each other’s right to follow our faith, free of government interference. You may not agree with someone else’s denomination of Christianity. Fine. Is it really necessary to attack them over it on Facebook and Twitter when all of our liberties are under fire and we need every single liberty-loving American in the fight?

The symbol of The One God Religion in the novel, Steps To Salvation.

The symbol of The One God Religion in the novel, Steps To Salvation.

Alienating others by chastising them over their religious beliefs is not doing our cause any good. On the contrary, it’s creating a lot of unnecessary drama when we should all be united in the cause of restoring and reserving the United States Constitution.

Getting back to Steps To Salvation, Shlomo’s vision of the future is a world in which all countries operate as constitutional republics, allowing people to live in freedom, create businesses without the boot of big government on their necks, raise their children to be responsible and respectful, and understand that there is One God for all. Hence, his concept of The One God Religion. In his fictional, future world of the novel most people willingly choose to become members of The One God Religion, which creates peace in the Middle East and the rest of the world. Key word: willingly. I suggested that we had to make it clear that those who made the shift did so out of free will, but that there are still people in Salvation Time who opted to keep their traditional denomination (whether Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, etc). There are others who don’t worship at all. Once again, it’s all about freedom and personal responsibility.

Ultimately, the book is a vehicle for Shlomo’s practical solutions for vital industries like energy, education, food and medicine, and his reform ideas for the justice and prison system. He’s a Tea Party kind of guy, which is how I met him in the first place. His philosophy is sound. That’s why I really hope the traditionally religious won’t throw the baby out with the bath water simply because they don’t like his spiritual beliefs — beliefs that evolved not only from a lifetime of questioning his own traditional Jewish upbringing in Tel Aviv, but also a clinical death that prompted his soul’s visit to heaven back in 2003.

This week we’re making final edits. With the entire book cover completed (thank you, Kia Heavey!), it won’t be long until it’s online and available for purchase. Stay tuned!


Easter Sunday: He is Risen!

RisenJesusFrom the Word Among Us:

He saw and believed. (John 20:8)

Alleluia! Christ is risen! Father, we exult in your glory! We rejoice, turning our thoughts to the One who lives, who is seated at your right hand above every power and authority and dominion.

He’s alive! Mary’s thoughts spun at the empty tomb: Jesus is missing! What happened? Who took his body? But we fix our eyes on the living Christ. Our thoughts don’t have to spin fruitlessly, hopelessly grasping at “reasonable” explanations. Because Jesus lives, we have hope. We are a new creation. We can look at life through new eyes, think with life-giving thoughts, and speak words of wisdom and understanding. Because he lives, we have peace. The unknown doesn’t have to shake us. God is for us, and nothing can separate us from his love.

He’s alive! Peter’s thoughts, perhaps, churned in regret: “I failed him. I said I would die for him, but I ran away. Now he’s gone.” But there is now no condemnation. Jesus has reconciled us to himself. We are seated with him at God’s right hand. Because he is alive, we are free from the law of sin and death. We are forgiven. Period. Jesus’ blood has cleansed us, and because he lives eternally, this cleansing is powerful. Though our lives are hidden in Christ now, one day we will appear with him in glory.

He’s alive! John saw the same empty tomb—and believed. He might not have understood fully, but still he believed. He recalled Jesus’ promises, and seeing the evidence of the empty tomb, he trusted them more than his own thoughts.

He’s alive! What about you? Jesus’ promise of life that never ends, a life full of grace and glory, freedom and endless joy. Though for a time (like Lent) we endure want and difficulties, we still fix our eyes on what is above, knowing what the empty tomb really points to. Christ is risen, and in him we now share in the promise of eternal life!

“Jesus, you’re alive! In you I live and move and have my being! Alleluia!”

Acts 10:34, 37-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Colossians 3:1-4

For more meditations and reflections for group discussion, bookmark the Word Among Us.

Have a Blessed Easter!


Good Friday Meditation


From The Word Among Us:

Into your hands I commend my spirit. (Psalm 31:6)

It’s Good Friday, the very day for which Jesus was born into the world. His whole life, everything he ever said or did, had been leading up to this day. Every miracle, every sermon, every word of forgiveness or challenge—none of them makes sense apart from the cross. And today, we are invited to join millions of people all over the world in gazing upon the Lamb who was slain for our sin.

So let’s follow Pilate’s words and “behold the man” (John 19:5). Come and behold the Christ in his humanity. Recall his humble beginnings as a newborn in a manger. Wonder at his hidden years as he grew in stature and grace.

Come and behold the One on whom the Holy Spirit rested as a dove. See him in his humility, trust, and surrender to his Father as he walked with God each and every day. Behold the One who prayed, “Into your hands I commend my spirit” (Psalm 31:6). See how this prayer, which he breathed with his dying breath, was but the full expression of a lifetime of yielding to his Father.

Come and behold the One who said, “I thirst” (John 19:28). Gaze upon the One who experienced hunger, thirst, and pain, both physically and spiritually. He came not to be served but to serve. He washed his friends’ feet. He dined with sinners and touched lepers. He poured out his life day after day for his people. And now here he is, crucified, betrayed, and abandoned. He is nailed to a cross, and he is still pouring out his life.

“Behold, your king!” (John 19:14). Before his pierced and bloodstained feet, we bow our knees, anticipating the day when every person will kneel before him. Look upon this ravaged rabbi, and see here your eternal King, the One through whom all things were created. See your high priest seated in heaven, even now constantly interceding for you, just as he did on the cross.

Behold Jesus. The sky blackens. The earth shakes. The rocks rend. His body lies still for now. His majesty is emptied but for a season. Here is your King.

“Jesus, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Isaiah 52:13–53:12; Psalm 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-17, 25; Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9

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