Kate Mosse

This may seem like a post a bit out of sync with many of my musings. But this author, Kate Mosse, has written three novels about the Languedoc region of southern France, titled, Labyrinth, Sepulchre, and Citadel. Each of the three stands alone as a stunning story. But there is a certain thread which somehow weaves its way through all three. 

The first obvious thread is that each novel deals with hidden artifacts. There is a search for these, by both those who seek to know the truth in an enlightened way, and by those who would use ancient esoteric knowledge for evil. This gives each novel a terrific element of suspense. Kate Mosse is a very gifted writer and her stories are difficult to put down. Each one is a page-turner in its own right.

Another commonality is that in each novel Mosse uses the literary device of twin stories, each happening at a different point in history, but which are intertwined. Obviously, in light of the hidden-artifact thread, the early-time story deals with the creation of the hidden artifact, which becomes the object of search later in history.

Another common thread is one mysterious character who appears in every book, and whose presence is key to each story. This I found to be a clever device, adding much intrigue to the books.

Also, the Church and religion play important parts in all these stories. There are ancient mysteries, mysticism, both modern and ancient, organized religion trying to control the dissemination of knowledge, etc. (Maybe this is the hook connecting this review with much of my other writings.)

I cannot write this review without referring to another author who deals with the same landscape, and with some of the same themes. That author is Kathleen McGowan. Especially her first two novels of a trilogy, The Expected One, and The Book of Love, deal with the Languedoc, the Cathars, esoteric ancient knowledge. McGowan also uses the device of old stories being discovered by modern protagonists.

Both Mosse and McGowan are gifted writers. Their stories are difficult to put down, and I as a reader found it hard to wait for the next book to come into my hands. Both authors have obviously done a great deal of historical research, and I found their books to be completely absorbing ways to learn more about historical events I knew little of.

I would say I think Kathleen McGowan’s writings are a bit more historical than Mosse’s. I say this because of hearing an interview with McGowan where she relates that her writing began by researching the lives of women who have not been dealt with accurately by historians. She wanted to put the record straight, and tell more of their story than has been known before. While initially aiming to publish these as historical works, a friend encouraged her to write them into novels, thereby achieving a wider audience. I think this was magnificently accomplished!

Another aspect of McGowan’s books, especially the first novel, The Expected One, is that she revealed in her interview that the images which the modern day protagonist sees from the first century, are pretty much word for word descriptions of images and messages she herself has experienced. This gives her story an immediacy, a sense of really happening, scenes from history actually having occurred.

Kate Mosse’s stories, on the other hand, are purely fictional accounts of events set in historical events. For example, the third book, Citadel, is set in the context of the French resistance movement of World War II. It especially shows the role women played in this resistance against the Nazi occupation of France, specifically the southern area of France. Mosse’s stories are just awesomely good reads: very entertaining, somewhat enlightening, but made-up stories nonetheless. McGowan’s stories are almost real; I as the reader really, really wanted them to be true accounts. And I ended up believing that things happened pretty much as she puts forth (creative licence notwithstanding).

So, my reader, if you want a good, enthralling read, choose any one of these author’s books!! You will not be disappointed, and they will cause you to think.

American Graffiti

I watched this movie last weekend. It showed what was in my opinion a very idealized look at the youth culture of the ’60′s. Set in 1962, it was still an age of innocence: before the JFK assassination, before the Viet Nam war, before the British invasion, before all the race riots, before Woodstock, before Easy Rider, etc.

In other words, it is set just before my generation. I would’ve been in Grade Nine when this movie was set.

But it was an enjoyable watch none-the-less. It showed hot cars, had actors in it dressed like we did in the sixties, at least the early sixties. It brought back many memories of an earlier time. Today this seems like another life time ago. Of course, it was set in California, which I imagine was vastly different than Lincoln, Nebraska, where I grew up. Not many kids had hot cars like shown in the movie. There were some, but they were not prolific. Most of us drove rather prosaic, ordinary cars, at least in my circles.

But I enjoyed the movie, despite all my criticisms. Filmed in 1973, it was George Lucas’s look back at his own youth in central California. So for him, I would imagine this is how he remembered his teenage years.

One thing this did for me was to point out the incredible changes my generation has lived through. Following the time period depicted in this movie, there were so many huge events, life-changing, society-changing, earth-changing happenings. Beginning with the JFK assassination, of course, but then the rise of the Viet Nam war (which my generation fought), the race riots, the anti-establishment ethos which very quickly developed during the sixties, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr, and Robert Kennedy. These last two deaths affected me personally more than the death of President Kennedy. I had heard RFK campaigning in person in Lincoln. I was so much more aware of the wider world around me than I had been when JFK was killed.

And of course, the Viet Nam war affected us extremely deeply. I served two years in “civil service” as a conscientious objector to the war. One brother-in-law spent four years in the air force. Many of my classmates went to fight and never came back. Many of my generation came back deeply scarred from their experiences.

What a time it was!!! And American Graffiti helped bring up many of these memories. If you haven’t ever seen it, I would recommend you watch this movie, either to recall this era if you are close to my age, or to help understand this era of an earlier generation.

 

Olivia

Watch the brief video of seven-month Olivia learning to crawl. There is so much we can learn from her! One, she goes to such immense effort to accomplish her task. She works and works, finally getting herself up on all fours. Two, when she falls down, there is no sense of failure! She smiles, quite proud of herself, for what she’s done! Three, notice the huge sigh as she rolls over onto her back. She is content!

Another lesson is that Olivia has no concept of the immensity of her victory. She does not realize its place in her overall development. She does not think of what she’s accomplished to lead up to this next victory. She has no idea of what is yet ahead of her in terms of developing mobility! All she knows is that she has this urge to get herself up onto her hands and knees. Totally in the present moment.

Dolan

UFO’s for the 21st Century Mind, by Richard M. Dolan. A very helpful book. Especially for one like me, who has read here and there about UFO’s, but never extensively. Dolan’s book gives a concise overview of UFO’s over the years. He conjectures about the secrecy surrounding UFO’s, and offers suggestions about the possibilities of disclosure on the part of the powers-that-be.

It is exciting to consider what could be, what has been, what is now. I have no trouble at all believing that ET aliens are among us, and influencing human development and society. And I equally have no trouble understanding why governments have wanted to keep this secret. Dolan helped put that into perspective for me. While I certainly do not agree with their decisions, I can understand a bit more why they felt the need to keep all this secret.

I appreciate the work which Richard Dolan and others have gone to to keep us informed. Researchers like him go to great lengths to ferret information from the dark corners of secret government programs and then present it to the public in comprehensible ways. Dolan is an interesting lecturer; I heard him last year here in Calgary. It is well worth your time to check him out, whether in person, or through this, his latest book.

Sons of Wichita

Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty, by Daniel Schulman. This book was a real eye-opener for me. Like most people, I had not heard of the Koch Brothers until the past decade or so. Exactly how they themselves like it.

I lived ten years of my life in the Wichita, Kansas area, the place where the Koch brothers originated. And I never had an inkling there were people of such influence in that area. This is probably a good thing, because everything I have heard from and about these brothers causes in me an intense dislike of these people. I am glad I did not know during the 70′s, when I lived in Kansas, about the Kochs. It certainly would’ve coloured my stay there.

This book, while it certainly gave a more human perspective of the Koch family than I had had heretofore, ultimately ended up reinforcing my dislike of them. They seem to epitomize everything I have ever thought evil about the influence of too much money. They have an air of arrogant entitlement about them. They think that with their money they can influence and “buy” American politicians, directly affect elections, and shape society toward their own narrow view of how things “should be”.

The book begins with the story of their father and his beginnings in the oil industry, first in Texas, then moving to Wichita, and ultimately building a global corporate empire, mostly in the oil business. The family was spectacularly successful, financially. The father, Fred Koch, had four sons. Two of them, Charles and David, basically took over running the Koch Industries in its various guises after their father passed on.

In the beginning they went out of their way to remain secretive, out of the public eye. But as they spent more and more energy attempting to shape American politics and society they inevitably became known. And what we see is not pretty.

Before Fred died he said to all four of his sons that the extreme amount of money they would inherit could influence them either for good or for evil “You will receive what now seems to be a large sum of money,” Fred Koch cautioned. “It may either be a blessing or a curse.” Unfortunately his worst fears seem to have been realized.

The story of the Koch family filled me with intense sadness. Their inheritance has basically caused them decades-long strife. For long periods some of them would not talk to each other except through their lawyers. Numerous litigations have sundered their harmony as brothers. They all have lived very dysfunctional lives; none seem particularly happy with their lives.

A friend who read this book before I did said that the book gave a much more human perspective to the Koch family than he had had before. I would agree. More human, but for me at any rate, certainly not more sympathetic. To read about how they grew, how they shaped their empire, how they run their businesses, what sort of people they really are, has only strengthened my negative perspective of them.

They appear to have no morals beyond greed. They care nothing for people who might be hurt or killed by their business activities. They care nothing for the environment, seeming to view it purely as their private playground for getting rich. They care nothing for American or global society. Anyone not of their level economically is as nothing to them. Their interest is only in people who can further their own riches and hold on power. They care nothing for democracy. They think they have the divine right to call the shots and make the decisions. Only they know what is best for America and they brook no opposing opinions.

And that is exactly how they run their businesses. “They have a very rigid selection and development process. . . . They want to make sure they’re hiring the right people with the right ethics and the right business orientation.” This is a quote from a former Koch executive. (p251) Another person commented on the intense brain-washing seminars employees were required to attend. “‘These,’ he noted, ‘were the days that my friends and I used to refer to as the “the Shadow falling on Rivendell”‘–an illusion to the evil pall Sauron casts over the elven stronghold of Rivendell in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy.” (p251)

A Wichita lawyer who ran for Congress in 1996 who knows many people working for Koch Industries talks about the culture of fear. “‘I have never seen a place where people are afraid like this where they work,’ [he] said, noting that some of his friends who work for Koch jokingly refer to it as the ‘evil empire.’ He added, ‘There’s a culture of fear out there.’” (p253)

Another former Koch executive says it this way, “They weren’t involved in change-the-world stuff then.” (p264) Earlier, their father Fred had been intricately involved in the beginnings of the John Birch Society, an ultra-right wing society seeking to shape American society into their own narrow vision. Later on, Charles’ libertarian views led him “. . . to study a handful of libertarian outfits he supported with a view toward recalibrating his strategy to bring about a free-market revolution. The plan they hatched culminated some 30 ears later in the creation of a powerful political fiefdom within the broader Republican firmament that threatened the GOP establishment itself. Their strategy helped lay the intellectual and organizational groundwork for the Tea Party and other Obama antagonists.” (p264)

Everyone, especially Americans who are attracted to the conservative end of the the political spectrum, absolutely needs to read this book. It will open your eyes. You may not come to as negative a view as I have through this book, but it cannot help but enlighten the reader to some extent. I think the author has done society a huge favour in opening up at least a little the story of this family of Kochs.

Good people

Several events and memories have given me cause to consider the families of people from which I come, and from which my wife comes.

Last month I drove from Alberta to California to visit a 97 year-old aunt. Her mind as sharp as it has always been, we talked about family history, ancestors whom I had only dim, childhood memories of, others I had never known, or had only heard stories about.

The recent news of a cousin’s bout with cancer causes me to contemplate life in its overall sweep, its brevity, its fickleness, its unpredictability.

Yesterday’s email from a woman recently married into my wife’s family: “Your parents were truly two of the most genuine people I had ever had the pleasure of meeting, and I will never forget them. . . . I am proud to be a part of [your] family.” This about a father who had barely an elementary school education, but who exhibited a profound wisdom about life, parents who “made do” in whatever circumstances life threw their way.

Both my father and my wife’s father had reputations of being able to fix whatever was broken.  Both were considered quite genius in being able to make things work again.

Eight years ago we met our future daughter-in-law’s parents for the first time, in China, a culture still very mysterious to western ways of thinking. One of the questions that evening from my son’s future father-in-law, after we had spent several hours discussing cultural things such as family values, life aims, etc, was, “Are there other people in Canada as good as you?”

That question set me back in my chair!! As good as us? We are just two very ordinary people in our Canadian landscape. There is nothing remarkable about us. We struggle through life like anyone else. We make our way as best we can, learn from our mistakes, live content in whatever circumstances life throws our way (like our parents before us). But that one question has stuck with me over the years, especially upon occasions like last night, when we were with our son and daughter-in-law to help celebrate Chinese New Year’s Eve. Her father had just returned yesterday from China where he had gone to complete some paperwork in their efforts of immigrate to Canada. He was successful, making the evening one of joyous celebration on several levels. Those Chinese folks, who a scant few years ago knew almost nothing about Canada, whose exposure to North American culture was only through our son, and then us, are now almost through the process of moving here permanently and becoming part of that Canadian culture. In their own way, in their own context, they too are “good people”. Their values coincide with ours to a very significant extent.

All of these events and memories have given me cause to reflect on who we are in the larger context of the world. For myself, I have become aware of the fact that my role in society is not necessarily to accomplish grand aims. I am to be a common, everyday sort of person, spreading good will, peace and compassion in whatever way I can to individuals in small ways. My OBE‘s have reinforced this self-perception and reassured me that I am indeed doing a good job at what I came to earth to do.

I look at the families around me and see that I come from stock with similar tasks: simple, everyday people who live life quietly, accomplishing whatever tasks life throws their way, being “good people”.

This February morning, in the year 2015, I picked up a book my wife had just laid bedside for herself to read. Its title caught my attention. Reading the back cover showed me this book was right along the lines of what I had been contemplating recently.

“In a time of social and ecological crisis, what can we as individuals do to make the world a better place? . . . . a grounding reminder of what’s true: we are all connected, and our personal choices bear unsuspected transformational power. By fully embracing and practicing this principle of interconnectedness, we become more effective agents of change and have a stronger positive influence on the world. . . . Eisenstein relates real-life stories that show how small, individual acts of courage, kindness, and self-trust can change our culture’s guiding narrative of separation, which, he explains, has generated the present planetary crisis.”

I will read this book after my wife is finished it, and after I finish reading the several books I myself have on the go, and will review it in this space. Watch for it!!

In the meantime, I will go about my very ordinary life, doing very ordinary things, together with very ordinary people in a very ordinary context!

Judyth Vary Baker

Judyth Vary Baker, author of Me & Lee: How I came to know, love and lose Lee Harvey Oswald.

Very few people still believe the “official” line that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone-nut assassin of President John F. Kennedy. So much information has been coming to light in the past decade or two that that “official” position has lost all credibility.

If any doubt still lingers in your mind, this book, Me & Lee, will convince you! Recreating her memories of the summer of 1963 in New Orleans, Judyth Vary Baker tells her story, her own story, and her relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald. She relies on a prodigious memory, on scrapbooks full of momentos, photos, plus talking to others who were involved in her time in New Orleans (those that are still alive).

Judyth has kept quiet all these years, afraid for her life, essentially. After most of the main players from that summer died suspicious deaths (i.e., “murdered” – like Oswald), she feels lucky to be alive into the 21st century. She currently lives outside the USA, under the protection of another country. Even after fifty years, she pays, “. . . my own price for speaking up. Not only have I been subjected to rude insults and conspicuous harassment on the internet I have experienced mysterious car crashes that appear to have been efforts to discourage me from telling the world what I know. I have experienced death threats so terrifying that I applied for political asylum in a Scandinavian country.” (p 559)

It is almost beyond comprehension that fifty years after the events of Dallas on November 22, 1963 US government officials are still so threatened by the truth surrounding those events that they would harass someone who was involved, no matter how peripherally.

What Judyth knows and tells about, is that she and Lee Harvey Oswald were young lovers that summer. She tells the story of a very intelligent, sensitive, caring young man who worked with the FBI and CIA, attempting to thwart assassination attempts on the President. Judyth got pulled into this sinister and covert world through her interest in cancer research. As she began to work with some of the leading cancer researchers in the country she gradually became aware that what she was working on was a cancer-biological weapon designed to kill Fidel Castro. The thinking was that if Castro was dead, Kennedy would be seen in a more positive light, and his life would be more secure. Those in the CIA, like Oswald, were increasingly aware that there were plots to kill the President, coming from some within their own organization. Many of those in the know were opposed to this death plot. They patriotically supported the President, and thought it totally diabolical to cold-bloodedly plan to eliminate him.

This book deals only with the fringes of this plotting; it focuses instead on the relationship between Judyth and Lee. It is a tender-hearted, delicately-crafted love story. Very well-written, it contains elements of classic tragedy. We all know, before reading the story, what the outcome will be. We all know there were evil forces at work to thwart the intent of the young lovers.

I found this riveting story to be a real page-turner; periodically I had to give my head a shake to remind myself that this story was real, that the author was relating events that really happened, that this romance “novel” was not fiction.

This book can be read on any number of levels. It can be read as a story of romance; it can be read to understand how an extremely gifted young woman in the 1960′s came to find herself involved in the highest levels of cancer research in the country; it can be read by those interested in knowing more completely the facts, the real story, behind the JFK assassination. It is a fascinating read; I cannot wait to read Judyth’s follow-up story of another player in New Orleans during the summer of 1963, David Ferrie. The author has done the world and her country a great, great favour in daring to tell her part in the history-changing events of 1963. I applaud her courage in sticking her neck out, knowing she was risking her life, to tell her story.

Jim Marrs

Jim Marrs has made his mark writing about conspiracy theory stuff. I have read a book or two of his, I’m sure, although I did a cursory look through my past Urban Monk postings, but could not find any reviews of his books.

He has written about the Kennedy assassination, 9/11 conspiracies, secret societies, and so on. Now he has undertaken the task of revealing what he could find out about extraterrestrials among us. His latest book is called, Our Occulted History: Do the Global Elite Conceal Ancient Aliens? The word “occulted” is a bit awkward in my view, but basically means hidden.

His thesis is that the larger population of humans throughout history has been kept in the dark regarding our true origins. He outlines a host of information about ancient sites, such as Gobekli Tepe and the pyramids; he discusses what we know of lost civilizations like Atlantis and Lemuria; he draws in information about the anunnaki and the nefilim; he muses on the possible roles of CIA, the space program, remote viewing, etc.

He concludes his book talking about how the ruling elite, throughout history, have manipulated history. There are a few families, as few as thirteen, who have ruled human civilization for long periods. For example, pretty much all presidents can trace their ancestry to these elite families. These elite feel they are predestined to rule; it is their right, and nothing will keep them from positions of power.

Although Marrs does not go into detail, he pretty much hints broadly that this entitlement is connected to some sort of history with ancient extraterrestrials, the “sons of god mating with daughters of men” we read about in the Bible and other ancient writings. These people do not question their right to rule and will do pretty much anything necessary to maintain control. They care nothing for legalities, moral or ethical issues; they care not a whit for the general population, considering us as mere chattel to be ruled and used. We are here for their well-being.

I recommend this book with some reservation. If you have not read anything along these lines, this certainly is a good introduction. Marrs lays things out clearly and plainly. However, for someone who has already done a lot of investigation about such things, it was a bit of a disappointment; it did not go far enough for me.

 

The Map of Heaven

This latest book by Eben Alexander follows up his Proof of Heaven, written a year or so ago, detailing his experience of the spiritual dimension while in a coma. An NDE, in other words. In that first book, Dr. Alexander came to the conclusion that consciousness is not connected to our material brains. His brain was essentially “dead” from a rare, catastrophic disease. Yet he experienced himself as more alive than at any time in his earthly life. Read that account; it is certainly worth it!

In The Map of Heaven he attempts to process this Near Death Experience. He also shares insights from numerous readers who contacted him after reading Proof… He puts all this together in a synthesis, helping us in the material world to understand our existence in the light of this spirit world he discovered, which is all around us.

My story is a piece of the puzzle–a further hint from the universe and the loving God at work in it that the time of bossy science and bossy religion is over. . . . In this book, I share what I have learned from others–ancient philosophers and mystics, modern scientists, and many, many ordinary people like me–about what I call the Gifts of Heaven. . . . there is a larger world behind the one we see around us every day. That larger world loves us more than we can possibly imagine, and it is watching us at every moment, hoping that we will see hints in the world around us that it is there. (p. xxxiii)

He then provides us with suggestions of what these Gifts of Heaven are, and how to utilize them. Each of us carries a memory of heaven, buried deep within us. Bringing that memory to the surface–helping you find your own map to that very real place–is the purpose of this book. (p. xxxv)

The seven chapters of the book are titled after these gifts: The Gift of Knowledge; . . . Meaning; . . . Vision; . . . Strength; . . . Belonging; . . . Joy; . . . Hope. He expands and reflects upon his own experience of the Divine world, but also includes many excerpts of other people’s experiences and questions. It is a delightful read, full of profound tidbits of wisdom. I could go on for page after page of insights gleaned from this little book. I will instead encourage you to seek out a copy of this book and read it yourself. You will certainly not be disappointed! And especially if you read Proof of Heaven first, to set the stage.

One insight I will leave you with in this brief review is this: the mystery and importance of sound and vibration. The knower of the mystery of sound knows the mystery of the whole universe. Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927), a quote he opens an appendix with, on page 137.

Simply reading and hearing about other people’s experiences and ideas is not enough. As we have seen, scientific and religious dogma is not always correct and it is important to develop a strong level of trust in our own internal guidance system rather than blindly following the so-called experts. (p. 137)

He goes on in this appendix sharing some of the ways in which he is exploring the use of sound and vibration to help our physical brains reach the memories we all carry of this spirit dimension. He encourages each person to pursue access to these realms. He ends the book with these words:

Each of our journeys is unique–the possibilities are unlimited. The gift of awareness brings us the potential to explore for ourselves the true nature of consciousness and our personal connection to all that is.

 

As each of us awakens to the fact that our individual awareness is part of a much grander universal consciousness, humanity will enter the greatest phase in all of recorded history, in which we will gain a deeper understanding of the fundamental nature of all existence. This will involve the consolidation of wisdom over millennia, a coalescence of science and spirituality and a convergence of the greatest concepts about the nature of our existence. The answers lie within us all.

 

Are you ready?

 

The Harbinger

This book, The Harbinger, by Jonathan Cahn, was quite a disappointment. It has some fascinating connections between today’s world and biblical passages. But I could not get away from the perception that the author could’ve done so much more with the material.

The story centres around an Old Testament verse from Isaiah:

The bricks have fallen,

But we will rebuild with hewn stone;

The sycamores have been cut down,

But we will plant cedars in their place.

Isaiah 9.10

The author presents his premise in the form of a conversation between Nouriel, a reporter, Ana, an executive in the publishing world, and The Prophet, a mysterious figure who shows up as Nouriel tries to unravel the mystery.

The verse from Isaiah has been quoted several times by American government figures in the wake of 9/11. This book attempts to make connections between this biblical prophecy and what is happening in the USA today.

My disappointment revolves around the fact that I believe there is considerable evidence that 9/11 was not simply the work of “terrorists”, at least not Arab terrorists. And I believe that the turning which the author calls for, the turning back to God, is much deeper than the same old conservative, evangelical perspective we hear so much of from strident preachers. There are levels contained here which the author does not explore.

As I said above, the author, in my opinion, could’ve done so much more with this material than he did. It’s like he began tiptoeing into the water, got frightened of the implications (and possible reaction from certain sectors of society), and turned back.

Oh well, it was a somewhat entertaining read. Not super well-written, but good enough to help me through to the end.