Not all the books that I enjoy reading would I recommend. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is one of them.
When is a Good Book not so Good?
I admit it: I don’t turn away from cheap thrills. I don’t gorge on them any more than I’d eat a whole package of chocolate chip cookies at a sitting. If it’s going to unsettle your faith, or get you hung up on alien ideas that no Christian should have room for… then it’s best to stay away. Don’t court temptation.
Scary books won’t hurt me. I know of other things that can, so I avoid them.
Plus! This book makes for an interesting study of popular culture in what was once a Christian nation. Our America is following Britain down the tubes: we need to wake up to the danger, slam on the breaks, turn around, and go the other way. Fast!
I was only nine years old when I watched this Ivanhoe TV show in 1958. Loved it, of course. But the abridged version they had us read in high school was wretched enough to sour me on it for several decades.
Well, I’m reading it again now, in all its original glory, and loving it again. Like all great novels, it has something new to offer every time you read it.
What impresses me this time out is Sir Walter Scott’s depiction of an England that’s still in the process of being born, it’s not quite England yet. A hundred years or so after 1066, the country has a Saxon populace and a Norman French ruling class. It’s still a conquered country, still without real law (despite the honest efforts of Henry II), and being a conquered country really sucks. It also has a population of Jews ground down by persecution. All of this was missing from that warped edition they imposed on us in high school.
We Americans founded our country and gave it a legal framework, the Constitution. But countries in Europe weren’t so blessed. Ivanhoe shows us some of England’s birth pangs. These countries had a long way to go before they became the countries that we see today: they could have easily turned out to be very different from the European countries that we know.
History lives. It’s always being made. It always needs God’s blessing. The Lord has abundantly blessed our country, sparing us much of the pains suffered by the European countries in their formative centuries.
History should teach us to be grateful for that. And to avoid mistakes!
I’ve been trying to take my mind off computer troubles by dipping into one of my favorite books, Meet Your Ancestors, by Roy Chapman Andrews, published in 1945. That is, during some of our own lifetimes.
One of the great science popularizers of his day, Andrew was famous for leading expeditions to Mongolia and being the first to discover dinosaur eggs. But in this book he leaves the dinosaurs behind and focuses on prehistoric humans.
Just about every jot and tittle of the Settled Science in this book is now unsettled, obsolete, outdated, etc. New discoveries, new techniques of analysis, have blown it all out the door.
The lesson to be learned is that today’s Settled Science is tomorrow’s hooey. This has always been true! Yeah, “climate science,” I’m talkin’ to you. To turn our whole civilization upside-down because “the science” tells us to is to turn it upside-down for nothing. It’s great politics, though: scare the plebs into giving you more power, more money.
It is an entertaining book though–gotta give it that.
It was the ultimate catastrophe for the kingdom of Satan when Our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead, as He said He would. Ever since, it’s been perpetual damage control for Satan and his servants–including, as we see so often, Reputable Bible Scholars Inc.
They Keep Trying to Put Jesus Back in the Tomb
Yeah, uh-huh. This “early Christianity” didn’t have any of that annoying Christian stuff in it. Nothing that would offend CNN. It was… scientific!
Sometimes I wonder what’s going on in the mind of someone who writes a book like this. But it may be wiser not to get too close.
Every now and then I remember that this blog is supposed to get people interested in my books. Here’s a review by Robert Knight of Book 2 in the series, The Cellar Beneath the Cellar.
A Superb Sequel Takes Bell Mountain Readers on a Wild Ride by Robert Knight
How about it, folks? My Bell Mountain series has grown to 13 books, with two more being prepared for publication and another being written. I don’t mean you should skip No. 1, Bell Mountain, and start with No. 2: Bob’s review of Cellar just happened to be handiest.
Fantasies written from a Biblical point of view–that sums ’em up, I guess. It won’t cost you anything to click “Books” on our home page and get acquainted with them. And you’ll find some more reviews in the Archives.
Naaah, I think I’ll pass!
[Sighs nostalgically] Here’s a post I put up back when we could all comment and enjoy a conversation.
Sorry, but Serious Mainstream Litterature That Intellectuals Really Like has always bored the dickens out of me. How do those books get such great reputations?
In Huckleberry Finn, two con men put on a show that’s so bad, people will be afraid to admit they ever went to see anything that bad and so they’ll lie and say it was good, and the con men will make a lot of money.
I think we’ve all been conned.
I’m sure there are people who believe television depicts life as it really is. That kind of ignorance can wipe out whole civilizations.
We were watching Midsommer Murders. Subplot: Mrs. Barnaby, who has never written a word of intentional fiction in her life, has decided she wants to be a novelist. First she wants to write romance, but that lasts for only a single episode. She decides she wants to write mystery/thrillers instead. She’s married to a detective but she won’t let him read her manuscript.
Anyhow, she’s only had to write three chapters before she finds a publisher for the whole novel!
Eeeeyahh! What was I doing wrong, that it took me years and years and years of work before I finally sold a novel? Why didn’t I succeed on my very first try, like Mrs. Barnaby? Why did it take me so long, with so much hard work, to learn how to write a novel that readers would actually like? Didn’t I know that being a novelist is easy, literally anyone can do it?
And then, in the very next episode, the whole subplot simply vanished. Wasn’t mentioned. What–no best-seller? I mean, as long as we’re indulging in pure fantasy… But even fantasy has to be, at some level, believable.
If you are thinking you might like to be a novelist–well, don’t even think about it unless you are prepared for the incredibly high levels of disappointment, and the multitude of sacrifices that you’ll have to make… or else it’s just a thing to do and you don’t really care that much.
Please don’t believe what you see on TV.
My allergies are annihilating me today. Maybe if I sit outside with a cigar and read The Golden Skull, I’ll find some relief–or at least the illusion thereof.
I don’t know how many times I’ve read this book since I was a boy. I started re-reading it yesterday–and the author’s ability to set the scene just blew me away! He wants you to imagine you’re in the Philippines, and so he puts you there. Effortlessly! Without slowing down the story, without any sense of padding, he smoothly introduces one detail after another… and next thing you know… you’re there.
This is technique of a very high order. Few storytellers can match it.
“John Blaine” was a pseudonym for Hal Goodwin, whose “Rick Brant science adventure” stories helped light up my childhood. And I still admire them today.
If you want to write novels, you can learn a lot from these books. I stand in awe of Goodwin’s ability to seamlessly insert details of the scene into the plot. His book is like a smoothly-running conveyor belt.
I keep on studying these. I learn from my favorite authors. That’s where the learning is.
This was a “Kids’ Daily Deal” on amazon.com a few years ago, and supposedly a New York Times Best-seller.
So You Want Your Teen to be Reading… This?
Hey, let’s glamorize serial killers! They’re not all bad! There’ve gotta be some good ones, right?
And so we drift imperceptibly into situational ethics–which is a euphemism for no ethics, no moral standards, at all. Real standards don’t change from moment to moment, according to whatever’s most convenient.
There are a lot of people warning us that we’re in danger of breaking our civilization.
We should listen.
No, I will not attempt to illustrate the content of this piece of trash. Here’s a nice scarlet tanager instead.
The perky publicist has invited me to review “a picturebook for bigender children.” For a moment there I read that word as “big ender,” conjuring up a number of strange visions. But then I realized it was “bi-gender”–that is, in the words of the perky publicist who doesn’t care where she’s going to spend the afterlife, “children who are both a boy and a girl.”
The English language is not quite adequate to express the vileness of this. No, I am not going to help the bad guys by giving the title of the book or the name of the author. Suffice it to say that the perky publicist describes this character as “an award-winning educator.”
I knew it! Of course it’s an “educator”! That’s what “educators” do, these days: they groom children for sex. Sometimes it seems that’s all they do–but of course they make plenty of time for fomenting racial paranoia.
O Lord our God! Remember, remember, that these things are done without our consent, against our will, and over our objections.