Thursday, 24 February 2011

The three-ringed circus of Christian Churches

The Prodigal ProphetThe Prodigal Prophet by Dylan Morrison

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think the expression 'Oh My God' was coined to describe this book. I cannot work out whether it is horrifying, hilarious, laughable, insightful, informative, or just plain bizarre.

Whatever it is, it is hard not to be transfixed by some emotion or another.

And, actually, it is definitely informative because I have no doubt it represents the gospel truth about how aspects of Christianity are exploited to nefarious ends. The Christian Church - whatever the denomination - has a horrible history of subverting a beautiful theology / philosophy for personal gain. Dylan Morrison's 'The Prodigal Prophet' incontrovertibly demonstrates that while the Christian Church is a bit short on burnings, torture and indeed genocide nowadays (beyond the activities of a few mass suicidal sects), vainglory, power and the obscene accumulation of wealth are very much still where it's at.

The only question I have is why the author fell for these cheap tricks time and time again when he appears to be a perfectly sane (beyond the avowed depression) and highly astute observer of his own Calvary at the hands of a series of rank charlatans.

I suppose that is th skill of the professional conman. You may even know you are being defrauded, but somehow you want them to succeed, even against you.

If you suspect that the leaders of the Christian Churches aren't very Christian and, by analogy, that the leaders of the Spiritual movement aren't very spiritual, this is a book to bolster you in that faith - that nothing, but nothing, is sacred once the all-too-humans get it in their sights.

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Tuesday, 22 February 2011

This should be a game

Lord CragusLord Cragus by John R Brade

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When you start reading 'Lord Cragus' it is all nicey-nicey - Peter and his mum, all cosy.

But as soon as he goes through the wall, it is something else. Who knows what the hell is going on, but it isn't anything nice. Well, Sal is nice, but is she to be trusted? And Peter soon finds himself cornered.

As the real situation emerges, the whole thing becomes absolutely intriguing, except that 'the real situation' is yet another mirage leading up to a blistering ending.

Quite superb. Don't be fooled by its YA-sounding opening. This is adult stuff and it will haunt you for some time to come.

It could also found a business or strategy game. Any gamesters out there?

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Sunday, 23 January 2011

An extraordinary, extraordinary story

Empty ChairsEmpty Chairs by Stacey Danson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Simply put, this book is a classic - a superbly written gruesome real life horror story - and self-penned to boot, no ghost writer in sight (they would never write as well as Stacey anyway). It is direct, it is transcendent, it does not shut its eyes for a single second. Stacey Danson does for child abuse what Primo Levi did for the Holocaust - she survived it and rose above it (although Primo Levi committed suicide in the end).

Talking of suicide, you can see those chairs of the title emptying as apparently 13 out of the 15 people in the street gang Stacey joined at the age of 11 are now dead.

I am not easily reduced to shock. I used to volunteer for Amnesty International and know well enough what people are capable of doing the other people, but this is something else.

How do you prostitute a toddler of 3? How do you allow man after man to rape your daughter at the age of 5? How can you allow them to mutilate and torture her at the age of 10?

Rumour has it that Stacey Danson wrote this book because of a promise she made to a friend who subsequently committed suicide before she had put one word down on paper.

I have read the interviews. Stacey had to relive every moment in writing this book and, absolutely extraordinarily, it is not a bitter book, it is suprisingly uplifting, as Primo Levi's 'If This Is A Man' was.

There are lists out there of books to read before you die. This is a book to read to stop others dying.

It describes a continuing outrage, a living hell, outragously well. This is one hell of a book.

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