Amy

I never planned to write a review of the video, Amy, but after watching it last evening and finding myself incredibly moved, I felt I should share a bit of my reactions. This video sheds light on the life of Amy Winehouse. She was a singer/songwriter from London, known most strongly for her jazz and soul singing. Her musical career, from age 18 to when she died at age 27, was phenomenal. She was compared and on stage with other greats, most notably Tony Bennet, Beyonce, and others. Her voice belied her youth. She sounded like a truly soulful 50 or 60 year old, interpreting songs and emotions with great maturity.

Her life, however, was a total mess. She seemed to know this, but was unable to get ahold of stability. Her parents separated when she was 11, the beginning of her pain and trouble. Her mother stated at one point in the video that she was never able to say “No” to her daughter. Later in her life, a bodyguard said that all she really needed was for someone to say “No” to her.

She managed to pull herself together for periods of time, but inevitably would once again descend into substance abuse to the extreme. She was also severely bulimic, a condition which doctors deem to have contributed to her death. Her body was just too severely compromised to be able to withstand the abuse she put it through, and she finally succumbed.

David Joseph, CEO of Universal Music UK said this, “About two years ago we decided to make a movie about her—her career and her life. It’s a very complicated and tender movie. It tackles lots of things about family and media, fame, addiction, but most importantly, it captures the very heart of what she was about, which is an amazing person and a true musical genius.”

Such a talented soul, such a bright and loving person, but what a tragic life, overall.

Judyth Vary Baker 2

Judyth Vary Baker has written a second book about the JFK assassination and the people involved in it. Her first was about her relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald, called, Me and Lee. This book, titled, David Ferrie, is about a very enigmatic character who was part of the circle of people Judyth came in contact with in New Orleans during the summer of 1963. This is the first book to really focus specifically on this mysterious man.

David Ferrie was truly an enigma. A fantastically gifted person, but also quite a scumbag! A homosexual in a time when this was a crime, continually on the edge of the law. He would work for the CIA, for the mafia, wherever he could get paid.

He got involved in the plot to develop a lethal mixture of cancer cells which the CIA hoped to inject into Fidel Castro. The cancer research was what had brought the author to New Orleans in the first place.

The Castro plan unravelled at the last minute. Lee Harvey Oswald was involved in this plot for the main reason that he thought this would save President Kennedy’s life.

The book, David Ferrie, is a fascinating look into the inner workings of one part of the assassination scenario of 1963. It is also an intriguing look into the life of this somewhat pathetic man.

In Ferrie’s last phone conversation with Judyth Vary Baker, shortly after the assassination, he told her she had to keep her head down, stay under the radar, in order to remain alive. Judyth succeeded in doing this, still alive to this day. Just about all the other players in the assassination drama have been killed, most within a short time. David Ferrie himself died suspiciously (like all the others) within five years. Judyth’s name and her involvement with Oswald was, when even acknowledged, totally disparaged as a rather unreliable and flakey witness. Nobody took her story seriously.

Judyth lives in exile, for her own safety. She appears occasionally for interviews. These two books, published in the last five years, have brought her name to greater public awareness. In her seventies now, she wants the truth known. She promised David Ferrie in that last phone call, that she had to remain alive in order to tell Oswald’s two children the truth about their father.

This book, as a follow-up to Me and Lee, is yet another fascinating look at the New Orleans group who ultimately became involved in the assassination plot. Certainly worth a read. But read Me and Lee first, to give a fuller context to David Ferrie.

E. Howard Hunt

Bond of Secrecy, written by his son, Saint John Hunt, is an account of the last few years of E. Howard Hunt’s life, and some of the confessions he made in his last years and days.

E. Howard Hunt, of course, is best known for his involvement in the Watergate break in, which ended up bringing down the presidency of Richard Nixon. But E. Howard was also involved in the JFK assassination. He was a CIA Spy, and apparently quite high up in the ranks.

Hunt did not spill everything about his involvements to his son, but he did disclose a lot. It seemed he wanted to get things off his chest, so to speak. He never expressed remorse, believing till the end that JFK needed to be eliminated, etc.

There is much in this book which sheds light on the sinister activities of the CIA in these two events. For example, Hunt leads the chain of command for the JFK assassination directly up to Lyndon Johnson. No one wants to believe that a vice president, who subsequently became president for five plus years, was fairly directly involved in the assassination of a sitting President of the USA. But there it is. From someone who was certainly in the know. The hand-written note he gave his son had LBJ at the top, with an arrow pointing down to Cord Meyer, another arrow down to David Morales and then down to “French Gunman, Grassy Knoll”. One box off to the side of this sequence of four boxes was an arrow going sideways from Cord Meyer to Bill Harvey.

I think it’s essential to refocus on what this information, that I’ve been providing you–and you alone by the way, consists of. What is important in the story is that we backtrack the chain of command up through Cord Meyer and laying the doings at the doorstep of LBJ.

 

He in my opinion, had an almost maniacal urge to become President. He regarded JFK, as–as he was in fact, an obstacle to achieving that.

 

So that would have put LBJ at the head of a long list of people who were waiting for some change in the Executive Branch.

This quote is on page 132 of the book, and is taken from a recording made in January 2004. E. Howard Hunt regarded LBJ as completely unethical, a thug and bully, who obviously would stop at nothing to achieve his ends.

I want to include one more quote from the book. This is taken from a lengthy reciting of an interview with CIA agent Marita Lorenz:

Later Lorenz, prompted by Dunne’s questions, explained that when Sturgis sought to recruit her for yet another CIA project, he told her that she had “missed the really big one” in Dallas. He explained, she said, “We killed the President that day. You could have been a part of it–you know, part of history. You should have stayed. It was safe. Everything was covered in advance. No arrests, no real newspaper investigation. It was all covered. Very professional. (p 159)

Pretty strong evidence to confirm many, many peoples’ convictions that the CIA was behind the assassination. I myself no longer have any doubts whatsoever.

Dual Soul Connection

The Dual Soul Connection: The Alien Agenda For Human Advancement, by Suzy Hansen. This is one of those books which can be quite perturbing. “Perturbation”, defined as: “anxiety; mental uneasiness; a deviation of a system, moving object, or process from its regular or normal state of path, caused by an outside influence”.

It certainly caused some “mental uneasiness”, in the sense that I don’t quite know what to do with this story and the information it contains. It is definitely worth reading, if that is what you as the reader of this review is wondering! Just be prepared to encounter ideas which will cause some “deviation . . . from [your] normal state of path . . . !”

Suzy Hansen is an experiencer. She began as an abductee, then a contactee, but as an adult, became an experiencer. That is, she experiences alien ET’s, and interacts with them, learning from them.

The first part of the book outlines a growing awareness of her experience with aliens. She does a good job of gradually revealing things as she herself became aware. At the beginning she has these encounters with UFO’s, not understanding them, or why she seems to have a fairly large number of them. These encounters often have an unsettling influence on her life, as friends and partners cannot understand or accept these events.

Spoiler Alert!!! If you would like to experience the gradual revelations of Suzy’s life as she presents them in the book, read no further in this review!!!

Only later in life does Suzy begin sessions with a regression therapist and is able to recover many memories which had previously been hidden from her consciousness. The second part of the book, the majority of it, outlines what she had learned from aliens in previous encounters. When the encounters occurred her memory would be wiped clean when she returned to her human life. This was done, not in any sinister sense, but out of compassion for her. Her memories were always there, but remained hidden until she was at a place where she could handle and understand them. And when the world was more ready to receive her experiences and the information she was being taught.

This is where my own perturbation comes in. The things Suzy experiences are very much akin to what others have experienced through NDE’s, OBE’s, and other spiritual journeys. Only, in Suzy’s case, her experiences of overwhelming love and peace, come to her via alien ET’s, not through “angels”, at least not as I have thought of angels up till now.

I cannot go into great detail on all of Suzy’s experiences and the knowledge she gained. There is a tremendous amount of it in this book, 300 plus pages in fact!

One thing she discusses at some length, an issue that she encountered at various stages of her own growing awareness, is the issue of disclosure. When will the alien races reveal their agenda to the world at large? Why is so much of their work done in secret, to only a few?  As best I could tell from Suzy’s story is that there is tremendous care being taken on the part of the ET’s to prevent calamity on earth. Human society is not presently in a state to be able to handle the information of alien interactions with this planet. There is definitely interest being taken by aliens in what happens on earth; there is a great deal of concern that things develop as planned. They want us to grow, to increase in consciousness, to join the wider body of universal inhabitants. But until we as a race are prepared to accept their involvement and interest in us, they will remain hidden.

They reveal themselves to only a select few, whom they have slowly trained and prepared to accept this contact. As more and more humans experience interactions of this sort, disclosure will gradually occur. But they won’t reveal themselves until we are ready for it.

So many abductees have reported their experiences in a negative light that reading Suzy’s story is extremely refreshing and encouraging. Apparently there are a considerable number of humans who have been undergoing training of the sort that Suzy has. In fact, Suzy discovered as her memories grew in detail, that she herself is a “hybrid” of some sort, having both a human and an alien component. She is a “dual-soul”. One of her two sons is also a dual soul, but her other is not. There is much about all this which I do not understand, but I am encouraged that there is much, much care being taken by entities not originally from this planet (“extra-terrestrials”) toward us as a human race living on planet Earth.

Among some of the many things Suzy has learned from these ET’s is that Earth will enter a stage of disruption as we go through a transition toward taking our place in the universe. This will not be a pleasant time. There will be much hardship. “The thing to remember is that you will eventually reach the destination. Patience is necessary.” (p 313)

The book ends with these words:

A powerful longing is stirring in people: a desire for change.

We are not alone. We have never been alone. Look up at the sky on a brilliant starry night and ask yourself, how could we be?

Without a doubt, a commitment to positive transformation is building momentum on our planet, and beyond, and it is up to each of us to make the choice to become a part of it, and eventually, take our place in a wider cosmic community, in a universe teeming with life. (p 315)

If these words speak to you, read this book. “It is a masterpiece”, (as Dr. Rudy Schild, an astrophysicist who supplies scientific comments about Suzy’s experiences, says). This book is not for everyone. There will be many who discount it, scoff at it, disbelieve it in many ways, but for a select few, this book will speak volumes.

A Mennonite rebel?

Years ago my father made the comment to me that I had always been somewhat of a rebel. I took that mostly as an affirmation; I am not sure he intended it as such! I like to think that in some ways I lived on the cutting edge of things, but I’ve never thought of myself as a true rebel. My “rebelliousness” has always been on the quiet side. I do things because I view them as the right thing to do, as living according to the truth as I see it. I have never been a “crusader”, trying to get others to change the way they do things, trying to get others to do things the way I do them.

A lot of what I do happens only in my own life, lived quietly, sometimes lonely. Yes, living this way is often a lonely existence. I can remember even in my teen years thinking that I was living more maturely than most of my peers. While I did a lot of things, escaping a lot of adventures relatively unscathed, I seldom participated in the high-jinks of my fellow students. While there were high schoolers from Lincoln, Nebraska (where I grew up) who would go down to Kansas, an hour-and-a-half drive to buy booze (because of lower age limits) and have late night parties around campfires in the countryside, I stayed away. Sure, there were times when I sort of yearned to be part of that sort of camaraderie, but I mostly kept to myself and a few close friends.

Part of that reluctance to party with my peers was my strict religious upbringing. But even in this area (my religion) I was often “ahead” of my community of fellow believers. Beginning in my early twenties I began searching for a more genuine expression of faith than I could see in the churches I participated in. This search led to some very intense experiences which were formative and life-changing. (For more detail about this, see the section of this blog titled, “Out of Winkler”.)

Several weeks ago I was part of a conversation which helped me put all this into greater perspective. At a choir social event, I found myself in a bar-booth, part of a group of five. As we were becoming acquainted we discovered that four of the five were from Mennonite Brethren background! This started a sharing of how these roots had shaped us, what steps we had taken to deal with this aspect of our beginnings, and so on.

Sure, we played the “Mennonite game” of talking about Mennonite names, connections, relations, Mennonite communities we had lived in and so on. For example, I discovered that one of the participants, whom I had known only vaguely as having Mennonite roots, was a cousin of some very close friends of ours.

But following this evening of very interesting talk, I reflected on this conversation at some length. One of the results on this reflection was that my family-of-origin contained several “rebels” within the faith community. My two great-grandfathers on my father’s side of the family, plus my grandfather, were all very highly esteemed leaders in the Mennonite Brethren Church. For example, my great-grandfather Voth was instrumental in establishing the very first Mennonite Brethren Church in Canada (the Winkler Mennonite Brethren Church) in 1888. One of this church’s early leaders was my Grandfather Warkentin (whose daughter became my Grandma Voth!). My Grandfather Voth was one of the top leaders of the Mennonite Brethren conference in North America for fifty years, the entire first half of the twentieth century.

What I began to see in my reflections was that all three of these highly esteemed men was that in their own way, each one had been trail blazers, had been known to do things not always accepted by more orthodox members of their churches. Great-grandfather Voth, for example, blazed a huge path by leaving his Minnesota home and travelling to Manitoba to preach among the “Old-Colony Mennonites”. He was criticized and persecuted for doing this. Then, in his last years, he loaded farm equipment onto train cars and moved to Vanderhoof, British Columbia, to be a leader/shepherd to a group of Mennonites seeking to homestead there.

My great-grandfather Warkentin left his own previous home community of “Old-Colony Mennonites” and established a new life among more progressive Mennonites, along with new understandings of the message of the Bible. His children were very inquisitive and often searched out wisdom not in keeping with their conservative Mennonite roots. Although I don’t know all the stories real well from this side of my family, I know that at least one of his sons became a university professor in the Maritimes. I also am aware that my father’s older brothers (and likely his sisters as well!) loved to visit with these Warkentin uncles and engage in stimulating discussions.

Even my Grandfather Voth, understandably more conservative as a second-generation offspring to these “giants” in the Church community, was known for doing things which garnered criticism from his peers. For example, I am aware of one story where my grandfather agreed to marry a couple when other Mennonite pastors refused to. I think the groom was from a military background, something quite seriously anathema to the Mennonites of that era.

So, as a result of this seemingly random conversation, quite unsought after, and certainly entirely unexpected, I was able to see that my “rebelliousness” has honest roots!!! For anyone, seeing themselves in this light is very helpful in self-acceptance. It helped me see my own place in the progression of family history. It helped me see my own task on this earth with new light. I owe no apologies to anyone for who I am, whom I have become.

So, thank you to my friends who were part of this conversation on a recent Saturday evening in Calgary!!!

Verissimo

Luis Vernando Verissimo is the Brazilian author of two books I have read in the last couple months. The first one is Borges and the Eternal Orangutans, a story of a Brazilian who attends a literary gathering in Buenos Aires discussing the works of Edgar Allen Poe. The second is The Club of Angels, taking place in Rio de Janeiro. Both stories are written most excellently, and translated very expertly. They are truly entertaining reads.

The Club of Angels was so entertaining, in fact, that I ended up reading it aloud to my wife for a bedtime story! We were both enthralled by the short little book, eagerly awaiting the next chapter to see how it would develop.

The story involves a club formed around preparing and eating together gourmet meals. After twenty years of this club, a new person shows up who demonstrates himself to be a most excellent chef. Following each meal one person dies. (Verissimo tells us this right at the beginning of the book, so I am not spoiling anything!) The anticipation is to see who the next “victim” will be, how the group and individuals in it handle this dilemma, what meal will be prepared next, and so on. It truly is a delightful read, despite what may seem on the surface to be rather nefarious situations.

I will not go further into story lines or plots, but rather encourage you, my friends, to pursue this book and read it yourself. Both books are short enough to be an evening or two of intense, entertaining reading.

The Lovely Bones

This novel, by Alice Sebold, is a delight to read! It is yet again a fresh look at the relationship between the Spirit dimension and our earth.

The story begins with the horrific rape and murder of a teenage girl by a psychopathic neighbour. So, admittedly, the book has a difficult beginning. But after a chapter or two, the remainder of the book details the recollections of the girl, Susie, as she learns to navigate the afterlife. She keeps track of her family and friends on earth as they seek each in their own way to deal with the grief of her death. She seeks to send them messages. Some on earth sense her; others don’t.

The entire story is told in a rather light-hearted way. It is not a “heavy” story at all, even given the unimaginably horrible beginning. It follows the main characters through the first eight years following Susie’s death.

The truths shared through the incredibly insightful story-telling gifts of the author are timely and truly in keeping with the truths I myself have been learning of the afterlife. One, the Spirit dimension is experienced by each person in their own way. No one experiences death and the life in between lives in the same way. These varying perceptions, rather than undermining the truths about this dimension, in my mind solidify the idea of the care and love experienced in the Spirit world. We are given precisely that which we need to process and heal from whatever experiences we have been through in our life. We are given only that which we are prepared to handle. “Heaven” is not going to overwhelm us. It is a place we go to learn, to grow, to heal, to reach out to others, to seek to help those we love, etc.

Another truth Alice Sebold teaches us through her story is that “heaven” is light-hearted. It is a place filled with fun and laughter. We, as eternal souls, will continue to experience emotions. But we will learn to enjoy and have fun with the experience of being in that other dimension. There is no judgement as the Church tends to teach. There is guidance, suggestions, advice, all in the spirit of learning, assisting us in our personal growth. But no judgement, only pure acceptance, total and unconditional.

Another truth consistent with what I already have learned of the other dimension is that our contact and ability to intervene from that plane to this material plane is limited. We in physical form are continually surrounded by those who love us and who look out for our well-being. But they can only do so much. We can aide them by reaching out to them, giving them permission to enter our consciousness and understanding. But we on earth are here to live our lives and learn the lessons we incarnated for. The souls who surround us can only stand by while we make our mistakes.

Once again, I was blown away by the gifted story-telling of Alice Sebold. The story is so filled with love and laughter and acceptance, people growing through terrible circumstances, people stumbling through life, picking themselves up and carrying on, making mistakes, making things worse before they get better, but each in their own way struggling through the most unimaginable events and getting through it.

This is a highly recommended read: for anyone, whether you are facing heartache, or just want a great story to read and laugh and cry through!!!

An Uplifting Dream

I had a dream last night which left me feeling so positive I felt I had to share it.

As many of my dreams do, this one involved travel. There was a long, involved section of the dream which I have no real clear recollection of. But at some point in the journey, I found myself in a room with an old lady. The only other person present was Peggy, my wife. This old woman, in the dream familiar to me, has no connection to anyone I know or have known. She looked to be in her eighties, a typical older Mennonite-type person.

But for some reason I was filling her in on where I was at in my spiritual journey. I remember making the statement that I no longer held the Christian scriptures, the Bible, as my main source of truth. I could see the dismay in her face. She didn’t argue with me, but I could see she thought I was really “lost”!

So I set out to reassure her that my relationship with God was solid, that I had never been more confident in my faith in God and heaven and the Spirit dimension. “I’ve been there; I know where I stand; I know what I believe, what I’ve experienced.”

I also sought to reassure her that I did not think she was “wrong”; I was not trying to convince her to change her beliefs. I was merely trying to inform her of where I was at in my spiritual life. And whoever this woman was, or represents from my past, this was important to me. I wanted her to be reassured. I wanted her to know where I was at. And that the place I was at was a good place, not one to be feared. She did not need to fear for my spiritual life!

The main thing I took away from this dream was the completely overwhelming feeling I had toward the end of the dream of being filled with light. I felt so loved, so accepted, by the Spirit realm. I was so reassured that I was on the right track in my life, in my beliefs. I felt light, I felt I was glowing, almost floating in the room. I felt very close to my Spirit guides, very surrounded by the “cloud of witnesses” which the scriptures assure us of. I suspect this was the main reason for the dream. I was given it as a confidence-booster to reassure me I was on the right track, to feel encouraged to continue on my path. And this feeling of encouragement was so strong I sensed I should share this with the world through this blog, and not confine it to my journal.

Upside Down

I watched a delightful little film this weekend, titled, Upside Down. I don’t know how wide a distribution this movie got in theatres a year or two ago, but I had only very vague memories of the reviews it got around the time of its release. So it is likely if you are reading this review, that you may never have heard of this flick. Go on a search! It is very worth your while!

Another thing which I had not known about this movie is that it is Canadian. It comes from Montreal. The director, in Special Effects commentary speaks in French, explain how this movie came to be made. And it sounds as if it was filmed almost entirely in Montreal.

The story is a very basic love story: boy from the “wrong side of the tracks” meets classy girl; they fall in love but seem destined to never be together. Everything, and everyone, are out to prevent their ever getting together. This part of the story is told gently, with a lovely air about it.

The setting is very unusual: science fiction. Sci-fi was the reason I was interested in the movie; but as it turns out, the sci-fi dimensions become secondary to the story. It is just the world they live in.

This world they live in is explained in voice-over at the beginning. There are two worlds in proximity to each other. Each has its own gravity. Whatever world you originate on, that is the world whose gravity you experience, and the other world appears “upside down”. As you can guess, the two lovers come from opposite worlds, providing numerous obstacles which must be overcome. There is quite a mystical, magical component to this, but the unimaginable improbabilities do not seem to detract from the story. They add to it, if anything. Upside Down is a modern, magical fairy tale, told with a gentle touch.

Another aspect of the movie which is there, if a bit understated, is the class/power divide on this world (or these worlds!). The two worlds evolved separately, one becoming very wealthy and successful, the other not so much. The wealthy world exploits the lower one. There is some working together, but always with the power gap very obviously in place. No one from “below” is allowed to succeed beyond certain limits. This power differential pervades every aspect of the story.

In this way the movie is a very powerful commentary on our world today. There are power-elites who control all the financial and political power structures. And don’t you dare challenge them!! And of course, the love of Adam and Eden (very interesting choices of names!) challenges them in numerous ways. Their simple idealism is a light shining out in dark hopelessness. And (spoiler alert!), as it is a fairy tale after all, love carries the day! I don’t think it will really spoil anyone’s enjoyment of this delightful tale to know that! I really do encourage anyone wanting to see an uplifting story, or anyone interested in seeing how a very fanciful, imaginative world works, check this movie out. You will not regret it!!! It is very well made. The few inconsistencies necessarily arising out of such a uniquely creative world do not detract from the story.

This movie will certainly make you think. I expect this story to be with me for a long time!

 

Anne Rice

With a many-years gap since reading other of this author’s vampire stories, I just finished Anne Rice’s latest Vampire Chronicles novel, Prince Lestat. What a great story; what an entertaining read; what a well-woven chronicle! This novel is great on several levels.

One, it is a very entertaining story. Because of the intervening years, I did not remember much about the previous few Vampire Chronicles I had read. But that did not matter. With Anne Rice’s gifted writing, I was able to pick up many threads from earlier stories. Plus, Prince Lestat stands on its own very well. It would be a good read for anyone, even if you have not read any of her previous vampire books (or seen the movie!). I had picked this book up to read as pure entertainment.

Two, I found this book to be much more than entertainment. It had a lot of deep stuff in it! The primary message of this novel is the encouragement to accept our path in life, and walk it. The vampire Lestat, of the title, was the main one struggling with his destiny. And Anne Rice brings us along gently and slowly as Lestat wrestles with who he is, and what his role is amongst his vampiric family. He does not want to accept his place as a leader among them. Vampires tend to be solitary creatures, and he does not want to give this up. But Anne Rice develops this theme so eloquently, that by the end the reader is cheering Lestat on, as he very gradually owns up to his giftedness. Included along the way are the stories of numerous others who also, in their own way, are wrestling with who they are, and what role they live in their world.

Three, even one destined as clearly as Lestat has deficiencies. He constantly doubts himself, questioning his actions, second-guessing. He does not always handle situations very well, blowing up in anger over others’ behaviour. He comes upon new situations he has never before encountered, new creatures, and is very unsure about these and how to proceed. He comes close to giving up numerous times.

Four, Anne Rice, in placing this novel in the world of fictitious vampires, helps us to see ourselves in the context of beings very completely different than we are. Even though completely strange, these beings still have the same emotions, the same struggles, etc. It is a profound story at this level.

This novel should be read by everyone!! It is so encouraging and positive. The fact that the characters are vampires should not deter anyone from picking this novel up. Give it a try; you won’t regret it!