A review of “The City of God: Transgressions”

cityofgod_bookcover“The City of God: Transgressions” by R.S. Ingermanson

Summary: Can history be changed? Three people are about to find out.

It’s A.D. 57 when Rivka Meyers walks out of the wormhole into a world she’s only studied in books. Ancient Jerusalem is awesome! Rivka can’t believe her friend Ari Kazan’s theory actually worked. But when she runs into Ari’s whacko colleague, Damien West, in the Temple, Rivka starts to smell a rat.

When Ari discovers that Damien and Rivka have gone through a wormhole that’s on the edge of collapse, he has to make a horrible choice: Follow them and risk never coming back — or lose the woman of his dreams forever

Recommendation: Yes

Review:

I love stories about history and time travel and this book covered both points quite well. While the science portion of the book wasn’t integrated as smoothly as I would have liked, it was expressed well enough to convince me that the premise of the story was possible.

I also wasn’t enamored with Ari, who was rather narrow in his outlook and beliefs. However, I realized that if I was wondering why Ari couldn’t be a bit more liberal, then the author had done a good job of creating this character. After all, we don’t get aggravated with characters that don’t seem real to us, do we?

Overall, I was quite pleased with this story. It had a strong female lead, which I found rather refreshing. She was, in many ways, very self-sufficient, yet her surroundings were so different from what she was used to that it led her to have to rely on others. However, her reliance wasn’t as a damsel in distress, but more of someone seeking directions in a strange, new land. And it was strange and new, even though it was also part of her past.

The small moment in history that the author chose to explore was one I had never given much thought to, and I was intrigued by his examination of it. I found his projection of the possibilities that could be spawned based on how this moment played out, compelling and interesting. It was a juxtaposition of Judaism and Christianity; the point at which Christianity could become unrealized or it could become what it has…one of the leading religions in the world. Given the backgrounds and biases of his main characters, it was the perfect backdrop. Would they help or hurt the outcome of history? Would their interference (unintentional or deliberate) skew our world into one totally different from what we know, or would they only be fulfilling what history had already said had happened?

Find out for yourself. Read the book…it’s really a great way to spend a weekend.

 

 

Listen…

If more people would actually listen to themselves, the world would be a lot quieter.

“Huh?!”  That’s the response I hear after making that statement. Yet, all it really means is that most people are so afraid of just being still, that they surround themselves with noise. To sit quietly and just listen to their own soul—that tiny internal voice that knows so much and can help make our lives so much easier if we’d only pay attention—is  a concept that most people just can’t grasp.

Most of the time these subtleties are lost in today’s rush to know everything all the time. People are so busy texting, phoning, cruising the internet, playing computer games, watching TV, listening to their music, or even reading books that they can’t possibly focus on or “hear” anything else.

Yet, there is more information to be gained by simply listening to yourself than you could ever glean from any of these other sources. Still, most people fear the “silence of their inner being”, because they don’t want to hear that little voice of their soul. So, they keep themselves hooked up, plugged in, and tuned into that extraneous noise and they let it fill their minds, ears, and hearts. They let it block their soul’s voice from being heard.

They claim they’re too uncomfortable just sitting around doing “nothing”, or they’ll say that listening for some small inner voice makes them feel too cut off, too out of touch. Truthfully, they’re simply too afraid of what that voice might be trying to tell them. So they tell themselves that they don’t need or want to know what their soul is saying to them; that they’re fine without it. In fact, some people are so afraid of hearing what their soul has to say that they even block their dreams from their minds.

It seems surprising to me that so many people can harbor so much fear of such a simple, little voice. After all, the soul is you, so why wouldn’t you want to hear from yourself? And it’s not as if the soul is a chatty little thing always yapping and gossiping. Mostly it talks to you when you need guidance, when you need warnings, and when you need praise—and who doesn’t want to hear praise, really? The soul’s voice isn’t frightening, it’s actually quite loving.

Just take a moment to put down the iPod, the iPhone, or the book; turn off the TV, radio, or computer, and just listen. Really listen. Do you hear it? That tiny little voice struggling to be heard? Yes, that’s right, that’s your soul, the essence of who you really are. Can you hear what it’s saying? Isn’t it beautiful?

As you focus on that voice, you’ll hear all kinds of wondrous and wonderful things, and you’ll begin to see what a wondrous and wonderful person you really are. Admit it now, isn’t it more compelling, and more beautiful than any story on your Kindle or any song on your MP3 player?

Pendulum swings…

It seems that the acceptance and understanding of those with psychic talents is like a pendulum. It swings from acceptance to fear and back again.

In “ancient” times the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians all had their prophets, oracles, and “speakers” (the folks who spoke with the gods or with the spirits). [pendulum forward]

Then organized religion took hold in Europe and North America, and anything smacking of witchcraft got you a death sentence. [pendulum backward]

In the mid-1800’s occultism gripped Europe and the US, and suddenly those with the POWER, or thought to have the POWER, were back in favor. [pendulum forward]

With the advent of World War I, occultism and spiritualism again fell out of favor. However, this time the threat of death was not so prevalent. It just became unacceptable by society to be “different”. [pendulum back]

In the turbulent 1960’s, it all collided – the pendulum became tangled. Those born in the 1940’s and 1950’s wanted to embrace enlightenment and all that it entailed, including psychic talents. However, their parents and grandparents (mostly) wanted to continue ignoring the possibility of all that frightening stuff. Half the world embraced the concepts and pushed forward toward enlightenment, while the other half fought madly to stay in the dark as they had been. It was safe there, it was easy there. [pendulum stuck]

Come the mid-1980’s, the pendulum untangled, and initially it swung backward. People took refuge in religion and science. They hid away from anything smacking of paranormal, and drew away from fringe sciences and marginal belief systems. However, it is now moving forward again. Slowly; ever so slowly; but it is moving.

Scientists, neurologists, cosmologists, and psychologists, along with some of the leaders in the world of faith and belief are all now pushing the pendulum forward again. They push quietly but steadily, so the pendulum continues to move inexorably toward that point where science and faith combine.

It used to be called metaphysics—or quite literally, beyond physics—but now the terms being used are those that are less controversial, which is probably helping this steady swing forward. Terms like unconscious knowing or extraordinary knowing, which is the practice or skill of knowing things that are beyond the 5 senses ability to know, are some of the terms being used today.

Papers have been published in well-known (and respected) scientific journals showing that prayer and meditation actually work. Scientists have conducted studies on those suffering from a type of inoperable cancer. One group received focused thoughts (prayers), and one group did not. They found that those in the group receiving focused thought (prayers) had a greater recovery rate than normal, whereas those in the group who didn’t receive the focused thoughts, maintained the same recovery rate as any other group with that particular disease.

There have also been papers showing how different sections of the brain are used when different psychic skills are being used—remote viewing, clairvoyance, telekinesis, and ESP. Another paper actually showed the changes in the physiometry of people who were being healed by a psychic healer.

So, although it may seem at times, that our society is as backward as in the days when witch hunts were considered a sport, we really are moving forward. [pendulum forward]

Keeping in Touch

I hastily put the finishing touches to the house, then scrambled to put the finishing touches on me and my hubby. Our friends would be here any moment and I so wanted things to be right. We hadn’t seen them in over 20 years, so the anxiety and expectations were high. It wasn’t that we hadn’t stayed in touch, we had—we emailed several times a week and there was the occasional phone call, but we hadn’t actually seen them since my hubby and I moved out of the state so many years ago.

As I took one last swipe at the kitchen counter, I thought back to one of our regular get-togethers years ago. We’d get together at least once a week and visit. We’d talk for hours about anything and everything. All topics were fair game, even politics and religion. But our favorite topics were science, philosophy, art, literature, and movies. We’d start out at lunch, and usually wouldn’t break up until early the next morning. We’d get so wound up debating and talking and discussing that we just never noticed the time fly by. And the stimulation from the conversations kept us wide awake into the wee hours without the need of caffeine. We’d bop from topic to topic, with barely a break—it was glorious.

The doorbell’s ringing snapped me out of my reverie. They were here. Hugs and how are you’s were exchanged, and we started on a quick tour of the house. When no comments were forthcoming, especially in regards to my husband’s drawings, I put it off to travel weariness. After all, they had just come from the airport, and through several time zones.

Back in the living room, the silence grew even more deafening. I threw out one topic and then another. The responses, when there were any, were short and sounded like quotes that they might have read somewhere rather than their own opinions or thoughts. I asked her about her job—art student joins graphic design company. During our emails back and forth, she had said the job was only to help them out financially, and that as soon as the bills were caught up, she’d go back to her studio and work towards having a show of her own. However, listening to her talk now, I realized that the studio was a dream. She loved her job. She was now some executive something-or-other that rarely did any drawing anymore (no time, she said).

As for him, well, he couldn’t talk about what he was doing—theoretical physicist working at one of the big accelerator labs. Everything was “top secret” all of sudden. Okay, but what about some of the other published theories, like the latest discoveries in the world of cosmology? Surely, he had opinions or comments about those.

A shake of the head and the conversation stalled again. During the silence, I glanced at my husband and he at me, and I knew we were both wondering what had happened to the friends we thought we knew? The friends we had spent hours with discussing everything under the sun and then some? Where had they gone?

Obviously, the emails hid more than they revealed, because all the time we were “communicating” with each other, we had totally lost touch with each other. The emails had given me the illusion of closeness while making it too easy for me to retain that mental model of my friends from 20 years ago. If we had actually been visiting with on another or maybe even speaking to each other on the phone more, I don’t think we would have found it so easy to fool ourselves. I think we would have realized years ago just how far apart we had grown. Instead, we waited 20 years, and by then the gap was a canyon, a canyon too wide to bridge.

The afternoon ended early, much to the relief of all involved, I think. But it did teach me one thing—emails hide more than they reveal, and personal contact is a must if a relationship is going to survive.

Listen to the Love

We all stumble down our life paths, making our choices, and living our lives. But how many times do we agonize over those choices? How many times do we tie ourselves up in knots, unable to eat, sleep, or function, as we try to decide what choice to make, and sometimes it’s over the simplest things. Should I change jobs? Should I go out with Sally/John? Should I eat this donut? Should I send this note or not?

What if you knew that no matter what action you chose, what path you selected, that you would still end up where you want to be? Would that help relieve any of that agonizing?

It’s true. If we would spend half as much time listening to our own inner voices, as we do agonizing over what we think we should do or not do, we would find that we really do know what’s best for us, we really do know what choice to make. It’s only when ego (fear) starts pushing or pulling and trying to lead the way that we get bogged down.

How many times have you thought, “Wow, everything is going so well; no problems, no hassles.” And then a month later, you start agonizing over some choice in your life. Well, that’s an indication that you’ve stopped listening to yourself and are letting ego (a rabid fear mongerer) fill you with doubts.

You see, ego’s whole motivation is fear. It just loves to cause doubt and anguish. It’s like that little devil on your shoulder just itching to fill you with self-doubt. It may not seem like it, but if you truly listen to what ego is whispering you’ll see the truth. Maybe you have one little run in at work, something that on any normal day you would simply accept and move on. But here comes ego making you feel undervalued, whispering in your ear that they don’t appreciate you, that maybe you’d do better somewhere else. But deep inside you really like your job and the people you work with, so you start to agonize. Should you look for another job, should you just stay where you are; do they appreciate you or don’t they?

Always conflict, always agony…that’s what ego does for you.. Ego loves to find your weak spots, your vulnerabilities, and then feed into your fears. It looks for and seeks out that niggling bit of self-doubt, that fear, such as your fear of being alone, of never finding someone to spend your life with. So, ego starts whispering that you should probably accept the proposal from Sally/John or you’ll always be alone. But, again, deep inside you know you don’t really like Sally/John and trying to build a life with them will be unfair to them and to you. So, while your soul (essence) tries to talk you into doing what your heart wants, ego plays on your fears.

So, what happens if you give into the fear, if you listen to ego and you go ahead and change jobs, or you go ahead and marry Sally/John? Well, you may become quickly disenchanted with the new job and wish you hadn’t left, or you may actually find you like it. The same with the proposal from Sally/John. Who’s to say? Although, doing something out of fear rarely finds you on a happy path, you can always make other choices that alter the unhappy path and turn it into a happy one. Making a choice is never a mistake…a learning experience, sure, but never a mistake.

But it’s the agonizing and the way we torture ourselves that ego loves. So, if you find yourself agonizing over some decision, tying yourself up in knots over something, put a muzzle on ego and try to listen to the softer voice of essence. See what advice essence has to offer. It’s not always easy to shut ego up—it just loves to hear itself talk—but if you try you can tune it out. If you really try, you can hear essence’s voice speaking to you.

Just listen to the quiet voice of affection, the soft echoes of encouragement, and the strong feelings of self-assurance—that’s the voice of essence talking, that’s the voice of love.

Meeting myself

Once upon a time, about 25 years ago, I met myself – or one version of me, anyway.

I was in the midst of writing my first novel, while working a regular 9 to 5 job, and I was excited. I was sure that the story was great and that everyone would love it. (Personally, I feel that way about most everything I write.;-)

Although, the book was only about half done, I started sending out letters to agents (I had heard you needed an agent to get a publisher to look at your manuscript, so I figured “why not get a head start on that”. One of the agents I wrote to actually wrote back and said they liked the story synopsis I had included, so we arranged a meeting.

The day of the meeting, I took a train into the city. It was later in the morning, so the train wasn’t overly crowded—not like rush hour. The gal sitting across the aisle from me struck up a conversation. She was excited because her first novel had just been purchased and she was going to meet with her agent. The serendipity of it hit me right away, but I didn’t comment on it. Instead, I asked her what her novel was about.

As she described her story, my eyes grew wider, and she mistook my surprise as awe.

“…I know, it’s a great story isn’t it?” she finished.

I nodded; how could I not? It was a great story; it was my story. It was the story I had been working on for nearly a year. It was the story I was supposed to discuss with the agent in the city.

Now it was more than just serendipity, it was downright bizarre.

We were just starting to pull into the station downtown, and I realized that I didn’t know her name. Still smiling, she answered me when I asked and even spelled the middle name since it was just slightly different than normal. We shook hands, and off she went, excited, bubbly, and completely unaware of how she had just completely changed my day (and my life).

I sat back down in my seat, and tried to put it together. My name, my story, same city, … what were the odds? I never went to my meeting. I took the train back home where I bundled up the diskettes with the story on it and put them in a file cabinet.

Oh, I didn’t stop writing – in fact, I’ve written two other novels and several non-fiction books. However, I decided that that particular story, well, that was HER story. So, I put it away and haven’t looked at my version since. (I have read her version of it, though.)

For some reason, I had crossed paths with one of my other selves – the one who chose to be a published novelist. I’m not sure why we crossed paths, maybe it was because I hadn’t let go of the path she was already on; maybe I had to understand that one version of me was already pursuing the path of novelist and that my path went in a different direction.

I’m still a writer, although not a novelist who makes a living from her book sales. I’m a writer of technical documentation and how-to’s, a blog, and several self-published books. And although it was hard at first, I’m now okay with my path; after all, one of me writing and publishing novels in this reality is probably all the world can handle. 😉

Scuttling Salamanders

I’ve been sitting here watching a baby salamander scampering around the deck as it seeks out insects to eat. It scuttles from point A to point B, its nose to the deck pavement, never looking up, never seeing the small space beyond its own nose.

As I watch it scuttle from one spot to another, I keep thinking that if it would only raise its head up, if it would only look out instead of down, it might have an easier time finding food.

There are several pockets of insects—small ants, flies, and centipedes—scattered across the deck, but with its head pointed down it only sees what it stumbles across, what pops up right in front of it.

Unfortunately, a lot of people I meet are like that, too. They scurry forward, never looking right or left, bent to their tasks and unable to see anything except what is directly before them. But there is so much more to life, if they would only lift their heads and look around. Yet, there they go, nose down, eyes fixed straight ahead, unwilling to buck the status quo, afraid to try anything different.

I know life is about choices, and that if they choose to follow that path of unawareness, then it’s not my place to judge. But still, it saddens me that they can’t even see the beauty around them. That they’re so frightened by everything that they continue to follow the same path every day forever. And it’s probably the same path that their parents/church/school followed, and then taught them to follow.

I want so badly to find a way to shake them up, jar them out of that path (that rut) and make them see the joy and beauty that exists around them. Maybe they bother me so much because they remind of myself and the way I was a while ago.

I had gone to work for a company, and while not great, it was an okay job. But about 3 years into the job, the company was bought out by another. Now the job was no longer just okay, it was horrible. The people I had enjoyed working with either left or were laid off, the tasks I enjoyed doing were taken away, and I was left with my head down following a path I no longer looked at.

With head down, I convinced myself to stay. I gave myself a dozen different reasons for staying, but if you looked at all them closely, they all came down to fear. It took getting laid off to make me recognize how blind I had been, and I swore I would never let myself become that immersed in the fear again.

So now I keep my head up; I look at the world around me, and I watch the path unfold in front of me. I get to see the joy, the beauty, and the love that fill the world around me, and I revel in the knowledge that I might have missed all of that had I continued to hide my head in fear.

But I also see the others, who unlike me, have yet to release their fears; have yet to raise their heads and see the wonders of the world we live in. And I hope that they soon reach a point in their lives that forces them out of their ruts, out of their paths of fear, and onto the path of joy and love.