An excerpt from: Void If Detached: Seeking Modern Spirituality Through My Father's Old Sermons

      I once saw this on a t-shirt: "Jesus was the first zombie." It caught my eye because I love zombies. And until I started researching this book, I thought the t-shirt was pretty darn clever. But I learned, thanks to my Dad's sermons, that, according to the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, many people were thought to have been raised from the dead before Jesus -- and not in a horror movie kind of way. So I'm not going to get the t-shirt.
      In addition to my love of zombie movies, I'm a huge fan of teenage apocalyptic novels. My favorite bookstore has an entire wall of them, and I can't get enough. Post-exile people of many faiths were big fans of apocalyptic literarture too. The Book of Daniel is one example.
      Revelation is full of graphic, fantastic imagery and symbolism about the play between good and evil. A series of three sets of major disasters are detailed, with rich descriptions of destruction, false prophets, the antichrist, and a final judgement. This is followed by a stunning vision of the new utopian heaven.
     Throughout the ages, people have used this book to point to the end of the world in their own time period. However, scholars think it is most likely a description of how the author thought God would overthrow the emperor, and the Roman Empire would be destroyed. Its words were meant to promote hope during a time of oppression and despair.
      Luckily, in many denominations there now has been a call to return to the messages within Christianity that can most benefit humanity as a whole, especially valuing neighborly love over power.
      The more people of all faiths can embrace love over power -- love of each other and love of our planet -- the less likely we are to end up bringing on the end of our own world. We'd be wise to remember the revelation of the English poet Robert Browning: "Without love, our earth is a tomb."

 

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5 Wise Star Wars Mantras to Spark Your Writing Practice

IPPY Award-Winner Taps Into

I admit, my desire to write began with the "F" word. 

Not the four-letter one that would land me in a time-out. Not the five-letter one that got tossed around at church. It was 1977. I had just heard a wise sage named Obi-Wan Kenobi define a mystical energy called The Force. Immediately, this new "F" word set my creative juices flowing. 

My mini neighbors and I met daily to act out the stories about the Force, and in time we created our own. Inspired by the wise sages of the original Star Wars trilogy, we learned how to apply the archetypal story to our everyday lives on Earth. 

Forty years later, I would (finally) write my own story. It's true, Void If Detached: Seeking Modern Spirituality Through My Father's Old Sermons, is not about the Force. But it could not have been written without it. 

Perhaps these five wise mantras will spark your writing into hyperdrive as well: 

1.       Do. Or do not. There is no try. (Yoda)
This Buddha-like statement of Jedi Master Yoda defines a critical step for writing. We have to do it. Doing it for me meant locking myself in a Catskills hotel one weekend a month with a ridiculous amount of sugar. Then I proclaimed to any guest I could find that I was writing a book. Not trying to write a book. Miraculously, dropping the word "try" from my vocabulary also dropped a lot of my fear.
 

2.      Size matters not. (Yoda, again.)
I have a deal with myself about going to the gym. Before setting out, I promise myself I only have to stay for 15 minutes. Some days I stay 15 minutes. Other days--amazingly--I manage to stay a full hour. So the same applies to my writing. Even just a few minutes can spark a pivotal thought. Besides, consider this: Sun Tzu's The Art of War is only 62 pages. And George Orwell's Animal Farm can be read in just over two hours.
 

3.      Close your eyes. Feel it. The light…it’s always been there. It will guide you. (Maz Kanata)
Admittedly, creative juices do not always flow freely. There are days I stare vacantly at my laptop as words refuse to appear. Here's where the Force (or whatever Higher Power you might hang with) can come in handy. Close your eyes. Ask for guidance. It doesn’t matter if you know exactly who or what you are asking. The mere act of asking outside of ourselves is powerful.
 

4.      Never tell me the odds. (Han Solo)
As you know, the number of books being published each year is mind-blowing. It's easy to get pessimistic about the odds of being a best-selling (or even profitable) writer. So, choose to live by Han's words (and not Google "number of ISBNs assigned this year.")
 

5.      Hope. (Leia Organa)
Studies have shown that hope can power success. Hope drives action. Whether it is Princess Leia depositing plans to destroy the Death Star in little R2-D2, or you depositing your manuscript in the mail, it's hope that gives us the ability to move beyond our fears. Then upon success, we often find hope is contagious.

 

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Sarah Bowen is an author, interfaith minister, and aspiring Jedi located in the Hudson Valley of New York. A graduate of New York City's One Spirit Interfaith Seminary, Sarah is passionate about the study of the world's great faith traditions as well as travel to quirky, spiritually-charged locations. Read Sarah's quirky spiritual blog at http://www.thisissarahbowen.com/

 

BOOK DESCRIPTION: 

Void If Detached: Seeking Modern Spirituality Through My Father's Old Sermons is the story of a religion-phobic Gen Xer who felt a void because she had become detached from her faith. In fact, she wasn't sure what her faith was or if she actually had any faith at all. Raised as a preacher's kid, she had an astonishingly long list of why religion didn't work for her -- until five years after her father's death, she began reading his sermons. Follow her journey through history and theology as she sometimes seriously -- and often irreverently -- learns to fill the void with something greater than herself.

Winner of the 2018 Illumination Book Award, 2018 Body Mind Spirit Book Award, 2017 Nautilus Book Award. 2017 Gold IPPY Award, 2017 IndieReader Discovery Award, and 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Award.


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