This Too Shall Pass

This Too Shall Pass by David Yuen

Book Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Continuing to share his altogether discerning, literary journey through life, author David Yuen supplies another artistic tour de force with his work in This Too Shall Pass. A thought-filled work that artfully presents an insightful collection of his poetry, prose, and essays, while inviting the mind, heart, and soul of readers to experience life from his decidedly intelligent and Christian perspective. Purchase Here.

Immediately, author Yuen engages the mindset with his stirring discourse, This Too Shall Pass, an essay that is also the title of the book. This well-known adage presents a penetrating and thoughtful look at the true experience of life’s events, which does well to set the poignant tone for the remainder of the book. Moreover, positing the general theme throughout the book that while change is inevitable whether good or bad there is always a reason for it and nothing that happens in life occurs and remains in a stage of permanent stasis but eventually will pass, as life is always a series of emotion rending fluxes. This essay is just the beginning of many well-written excerpts which show the impermanence of life’s events, while many of author Yuen’s poetic works serve to inspire, with elegant locutions embodying stalwart personal strength, morality, faith, and endurance.

Meanwhile, throughout the remainder of the book, there is a diversity of themes covered including multiple essays containing revelations on the Invasion of Ukraine, War in Ukraine, and the atrocities thereof. As well, author David Yuen also presents with eloquent articulation his personal experiences with COVID. Also, he presents many meditative works which flow like stream-of-consciousness narratives where he covers topics including; Fasting, Atrocity and Death, and Impermanence.

Additionally, the poetic works included are stellar intimations of reflection, as they are thoughtful, provoking, insightful, and fulfilling. While I enjoyed all his poetic entries a few remained with me, well after reading them; I Am Man See Me Stand; which engages the prowess of inner strength, All That Remain; which focuses on surviving adversity through maintaining a strong character, So Much So Little; demonstrates the character strengths and weaknesses of appreciation and disregard, My Fragile Foolish Self; embodies a stark look at negative perspectives. Albeit most of the included works were more of a serious nature, there is also included humor with A Poet Argues with His Coffee over Coffee, (this is my personal favorite).

Altogether, I enjoyed David Yuen’s expressive works in his book, This Too Shall Pass, the whole of his works this collection promotes faith in God’s hand in our lives, and although life can be imperfect, it is actually perfectly imperfect because God is always there teaching us through the perceived imperfections. This is a work of intellectual depth, both well-written and observant, which may bring about a change in perspective for readers toward life and all that it entails. As a whole, this luminous literary culmination penetrates the reading experience with lucidity and aplomb and I do highly recommend it.

Why Christians Are Wrong About Jesus

Why Christians are wrong about Jesus by John W. Campbell…A Brief Synopsis

Trial lawyer John W. Campbell demonstrates why Christians are fundamentally wrong about Jesus, the leader of the movement that developed into modern Christianity. Using the most up to date research and findings, Campbell shows, among other things, why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah, why the true Jesus was replaced by Paul’s Christ of faith, and why Jesus was not resurrected from the dead. Campbell reveals now Jesus came to be severely misunderstood, unwittingly giving birth to a religion he would not have recognized and surely would have opposed.  Purchase Here.

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Embracing God in the Right Perspective with the Right Foundation of Faith in Him

Embracing God in the Right Perspective with the Right Foundation of Faith in Him by Chris Tham

Book Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Author Chris Tham guides and inspires, with his work in Embracing God in the Right Perspective with the Right Foundation of Faith in Him. Within the text of this work combining spiritual and intellectual wisdom, spiritual stimulation abounds as he imparts his heartfelt template for study and contemplation which leads to uncovering your true spiritual self-buried within. Purchase Here.

Moreover, he delves into our relationship with God, and his desire for us to be like him in thought and deed in addition to maintaining faith and understanding that we are all children of God, no matter your walk of life, and worthy of an abundant life and afterlife, which culminates into a solid spiritual foundation for surviving life. Additionally, the proceeds from the sale of the book go to charitable organizations which helps to further the nurturing intent towards his fellow men of author Tham’s work.

Immediately engaging, this comprehensive and scholarly tome waxes on transcendent truths, throughout, dutifully demonstrating the expansiveness of God’s love proven through biblical text. Also, within this work, author Tham offers the spiritually inclined a significantly insightful, inclusionary, and lucid approach to the spiritual realm as well as attending to the scriptural mindset.

Altogether, this work is fueled by deep dives into biblical interpretation using a variety of resources, not just the bible, including works like the Quran, wisdom from other well-known figures like Lao Tzu, as well references to other spiritually based works. He also includes juxtaposing, well-known biblical figures and their stories of connection, faith, and wisdom, including Abraham and Isaac, King David and King Solomon, Elijah and Elisha, Moses and Joshua.

Moreover, Chris Tham furthers his studious journey into fomenting a faith-filled relationship with God, with earnest exploration of existential topics delved into from his thoroughly researched perspective. He dives deeply into the heart of each pertinent subject necessary for soul growth and healing.  His work garners the spiritual curiosity, by providing answers to questions and issues necessary for building the foundation for true spiritual growth.  He includes topics such as Who is God? and Who are you? Who is the Devil? Knowledge vs Truth, The Three dimensions of Man, Who are the evil spirits?, Trinity of God and much more.

What truly stands out in this work is the author’s tangibly authentic intention to lead others to their true selves through his thorough exploration of each topic. Albeit while this is a large book filled with many great perspective-altering points, I found Chapter 4; The Three Dimensions of Man to be an outstanding exploration of the aspects of the multifaceted human, viewed as essentially composed of spirit, soul, and flesh. His work within this book emphasizes on the spirit aspect because, with attending to the spirit first brings enlightenment; while on the other hand attending to the flesh first, keeps one mired in struggle and fighting with darkness.

Overall, Embracing God in the Right Perspective with the Right Foundation of Faith in Him by Chris Tham made for a heartfelt read that I enjoyed. And while persistence is required for this read, because this is a large book that is expansive in its scope, it is well worth the effort because this is a spirit-based study guide that allows for the accessing of the deepest of spiritual levels.  In fact, this is somewhat of a survival guide for the spirit affecting the mindset and speaking to the soul.  With each well-written chapter, came a wealth of insight, which is sure to give hope and inspiration to all its readers and I do recommend this work for spiritual readers from all walks of life.

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Salt & Light; The Complete Jesus by Jonathan Geoffrey Dean

Book Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

An extraordinary deep dive into the life of an extraordinary man, Jonathan Geoffrey Dean’s Salt & Light; The Complete Jesus presents a masterful guide for inquiring minds to the definitive life and ministry of Jesus. The first edition to his two-book series, this book offers an intelligently posed wealth of knowledge, garnered from many years of research and fueled by the layman author’s ignited curiosity. As a whole, the book was written in search of the entire true scope of Jesus’ life and works, particularly as an earnest way of seeking to answer three simple questions, 1. Who was Jesus? 2. What did he do? 3. What did he say? However, instead of focusing on the religious elements, author Jonathan Geoffrey Dean leaves his faith out of his search, choosing to focus primarily on the academic aspects, which works out very well throughout the book. Albeit while there is no simple answer to discovering the complete life of Jesus, however, the level of work ethic, thorough research, comparative analysis, and discernment employed by author Dean raises the bar for other books of this nature to meet. Moreover, as thorough, as it is well-written, this work provides a masterful reading venture that is part historical dissertation, populated with literate reaches into obscured aspects of biblical texts, such as the Gospels, and Acts, which contain elements of the true history of Jesus. Moreover, the information contained in this book is catalytic in the way that it does well to offer definitive, perception-altering data when it comes to the life of Jesus, often bruising long-standing myths and alternate religious-based concepts previously known, concerning the life of Jesus. Meanwhile also included are instances of contact with those around him used to establish a credible timeline of his life and ministry.  Click Here to Purchase.

Altogether, author Jonathan Geoffrey Dean did well in answering his proposed questions via sorting through the broad spectrum of information providing sources on the life of Jesus. In part 1 of the book, he delves into the explanation of how myth can become reality and shares the intriguing example of the life of Betty Crocker to prove his point. Additionally, he shares his methodology of reviewing available source materials while meticulously narrowing down the material to a concisely viable list and was able to establish a credible timeline of the true life of Jesus. He examines what made a source useful, including parameters that proved useful in narrowing the scope of truth. Then in part 2 he delves into answering his aforementioned questions by also studying other resources of information including scriptures from Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Pagan perspectives.

Altogether, I enjoyed reading Jonathan Geoffrey Dean’s, Salt & Light: The Complete Jesus and believe this would make a fantastic documentary. This was an absolutely phenomenal read that piqued my curiosity and excited my mind.  This was a work that was easy to relate to because it came from a well-versed layman’s perspective and not from the religious perspective bogged down by dogma. I enjoyed the thoroughness of his methodology and look forward to reading the second book in this series. This is a must read for seekers of the true Jesus.

Acts of Faith

Acts of Faith: Part I of the Inquisition Trilogy by Martin Elsant

Reviewed by Ray Palen

The British Jewish historian Cecil Roth, who was educated at Oxford, wrote a book that was of special interest to author Martin Elsant. The book was entitled History Of the Marranos and of the many figures covered in it was one Diego Lopes of Pinancos in Coimbra, Portugal. Ironically, Mr. Elsant is a former radiologist living in Jerusalem and Mr. Roth died in Jerusalem in the year 1970.  Purchase Here.

While much of ACTS OF FAITH is dedicated to the descendants of Diego Lopes, Martin Elsant includes two quotes prior to his Author’s Notes from different sources. One in particular I found quite interesting: “Folded under the dark wing of the Inquisition…the influence of an eye that never slumbered, of an unseen arm ever raised to strike. How could there be freedom of thought, where there was no freedom of utterance? Or freedom of utterance, where it was as dangerous to say too little as too much? Freedom cannot go along with fear.” – William H. Prescott, The Age of Phillip II and the Supremacy of the Spanish Empire, 1858.

It is easy to pick up a history book or click on Wikipedia to find out about Diego Lopes. I prefer, whenever possible, to read historical fiction — an infusion of actual history within the opportunities that allow for creativity when re-examining historical events. I believe that this is what Martin Elsant is doing with ACTS OF FAITH, retelling historical events during one of the most difficult times in human and religious history — The Inquisitions — in such a way that it feels as if the reader is enjoying a book of fiction, filled with all the expected plot twists and turns.

The story we are following involves Maria, the daughter of Diego Lopes, and a young man whom she is quite fond of, Aristedes or ‘Ari’ Coelho. Ari had a difficult life, having to watch his parents succumb to the Black Plague when he was only twelve years of age. His Aunt and Uncle already had six children and were unable to take on another so Ari ended up spending his ‘orphan’ time living with the village priest, Father Affonso. It was perhaps this experience at such an impressionable part of his life that led Ari to join the Seminary as soon as he was old enough to.

When and Ari and Maria met she was immediately fond of him. He enjoys having biblical discussions with her, beginning with an explanation as to why the bible was not just meant for kind-hearted souls such as hers but also for sinners like himself. Regrettably, it was The Inquisitions that brought about a short falling-out period for Ari and Maria. One of Diego Lopes’s servants, Pedro, is taken by one of the Inquisition Familiars. Being a servant with no political influence, Pedro was unable to fight against the planted evidence used to imprison him. Pedro soon becomes one of the many victims of The Inquisition when he is tortured to death. Maria finds Ari and they have a heated discussion over this matter — heated only because Maria asked Ari if the Inquisitors who tortured Pedro to death were sinners and he indicated that, while they may have made unintentional mistakes in the case of Pedro, they did not sin.

Part of Ari’s seminary training included a tour of the torture chambers used by the Inquisitors. It is but the first thing that begins to slowly change his feelings about the entire Inquisition process. The Bishop, having been privy to Ari’s slight change in attitude, sits him down for a good talk. It is during this talk that Ari’s mind is made up — what the Inquisitors are doing in the name of God is nothing but absolute, unadulterated evil. The question was, how does he fight it from the precarious position he is in?

Ari learns of people being tortured just because of their contrary religious beliefs — like those of the Jewish faith celebrating the ritual of fasting during the high holy day of Yom Kippur. Ari knew that it was not just one evil Church leader but an entirely evil system that needed to be stopped. The trouble was that the Inquisition Familiars in Portugal were trying hard to emulate those from Spain — and the Spanish Inquisitions were no Monty Python sketch but one of the most deadly events in European history. The story takes a big turn when Ari’s old friend Maria finds him and tells him that her father, Diego, has been arrested as part of The Inquisition. She begs him for help, but as much as he would like to, Ari realizes there is little he can do.

The case against Diego Lopes is weak, and he is defending himself during the trial. When asked, he indicates that the only reason why he has been called out by the Inquisitors is because he has been accused of Judaizing. Things did not look good for Diego. This was a period in human history where there was not much sympathy for those who were feared. These people were simply eliminated, much in the same way that over 50,000 ‘witches’ were killed in neighboring European countries. While Diego spent months in prison, Maria spoke with Ari in fear that it was just a matter of days before he was executed.

Maria begs Ari to try and help indicating he is her last hope. It is tough for Ari to disappoint her, but there was really nothing he could do that would not find him in the same position as her father. At the same time, Ari finds is difficult to understand her proclamations that Judaism is superior to Christianity — his seminary teaching and upbringing responsible for his stance. Regardless, the latter part of this book is a retelling of the plan made to free Diego and make an escape away from Portugal. Some readers may already know of Diego Lopes’s fate but I will not spoil that here and encourage all to pick up this book from Martin Elsant and settle in for the ride in what represents the first book in the Inquisition Trilogy.