Archive for November, 2018

Edmond Dantes, The Count of Monte Cristo, Played by Jim Caviezel

Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes.
― Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

Last night, I watched the movie based on The Count of Monte Cristo, a classic novel by Alexandre Dumas. A wonderful movie! The book has long been rated as one of the World’s Greatest Novels. When I was in high school, it was required reading for my English class.

A popular bestseller since its publication in 1844, The Count of Monte Cristo is one of the great page-turning thrillers of all time. Set against the tumultuous years of the post-Napoleonic era, Alexandre Dumas’s grand historical romance recounts the swashbuckling adventures of Edmond Dantès, a dashing young sailor falsely accused of treason. The story of his long imprisonment, dramatic escape, and carefully wrought revenge offers up a vision of France that has become immortal. As Robert Louis Stevenson declared, “I do not believe there is another volume extant where you can breathe the same unmingled atmosphere of romance.”

The story takes place in France, Italy, and islands in the Mediterranean during the historical events of 1815–1839: the era of the Bourbon Restoration through the reign of Louis-Philippe of France. It begins just before the Hundred Days period (when Napoleon returned to power after his exile). The historical setting is a fundamental element of the book, an adventure story primarily concerned with themes of hope, justice, vengeance, mercy, and forgiveness. It centers on a man who is wrongfully imprisoned, escapes from jail, acquires a fortune, and sets about exacting revenge on those responsible for his imprisonment. His plans have devastating consequences for both the innocent and the guilty.

From the book and also the movie:

Abbe Faria:

Here is your final lesson – do not commit the crime for which

you now serve the sentence. God said, Vengeance is mine.

Edmond Dantes:

I don’t believe in God.

Abbe Faria:

It doesn’t matter. He believes in you.

Corruption is, at first, a small thing. It may even have a hint of conscience, until it becomes habitual and infectious to everyone around it.  Goodness also begins small, becomes habitual, and infectious as well. Except goodness is honorable in the human person, and corruption is degrading.  So, how do we come to our true value as people?

Our human nature can corrupt itself, since we are created with free will and the ability to choose. Corruption is what happens when we let something we’re doing that we are not proud of get out of hand, until we are consistently putting ourselves and our desires above all else.

Of course, corruption happens in politics since it is made up of people with ambitions who have found that they can ignore goodness if it interferes with their political goals. However, it is nonetheless degrading, and its infection can spread until the taking of a human life in the womb, the mistaken confusion of choosing one’s gender, or the misrepresentation of what marriage truthfully is, becomes commonplace. But all that, and more, demeans us as human beings created by God. And yet, we can choose to do any of it.

Choice is a word thrown around a lot, without looking at the responsibilities that flow from the God-given gift of free will that we have.  Responsibility is not a ‘happy’ thing to bring up to someone in the throws of corruption, selfishness, and a lack of goodness. When we are acting in this way, we do not want to look at ourselves in a truthful light, and so, many of us try to make the wrongs we do seem right. And there are plenty of other people, especially in politics, who do this, too, by covering over truth with lies for their own gain and political victories. These so-called leaders are selfishly fostering corruption on a much larger, and detrimental, level.

This is why the truthful family, based upon the sacrament of marriage, is being negatively affected. This is why the deep responsibility to guide children who come from that marriage is being overlooked. This is why it is imperative to look upward to God for guidance, rather than looking around at the temporary world we live in. Except, goodness isn’t easy, has never been easy, and will never be easy.

So, can we actually do the things that are hard, the things that are truthfully good, and not take the easy way out with wrong behaviors that decay not only ourselves, but also, our world? The truth is that without delving into the spiritual side of our human nature, we cannot. We will listen to false voices, swallow false precepts, and we will fall into corruption rather than goodness.

But, with courage and faith, we can also do the opposite. We can commit ourselves to the responsibility we have as human beings who actually share in the divinity of God. By looking inward and upward, even those in politics can understand that only God reveals our true value as people, and that it is He who gives us the final victory. We only have to realize that we are His.

Just after arriving home from a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with my family, I was notified that I had won the Platinum Award for Screenwriting for “A Hunger in the Heart!”

This is the second award the screenplay based on the novel has received. In October, it was also chosen for the Oaxaca Film Festival, and now is up for The UK Film Festival 2019.

“A Hunger in the Heart,” published by Tuscany Press in 2013, now has a sequel–“Bridge-Man Burning: The Sins of a Southern Man.” Both novels are southern fiction and center around Coleman Puttman Bridgeman, beginning in 1955 when he is a boy struggling with the consequences  World War II has had on his family. His beloved, shell-shocked, father is a decorated hero who stages continual games of war to train his son. His bigoted, alcoholic mother blames the misfortune in her marriage on the soldier whose life her husband saved. His manipulative grandfather stirs up trouble between mother and son, until the boy must fight a personal war just to survive–which Coleman means to do, no matter the cost.

In the sequel, “Bridge-Man Burning: The Sins of a Southern Man,” Coleman leaves his hometown as a man who carries with him the family blood that runs through his veins and voices of the past that run through his head. In marriage and in business, he faces love’s most powerful battles where he must confront the weakest and deepest, parts of himself. Honesty versus dishonesty, faithfulness versus betrayal, and courage versus cowardice, are all in play. And he must choose where his life will go.

Many of you know that my writing is faith-based; my belief in God and His divine presence in every human being. But I do not not sugar-coat my books. These are stories about fallible people, because that is what we all are. We often do terrible things. Yet, the stories are also about hope, and the possibilities of change. But regardless, whether we, or the characters, actually end up changing, my books are about the certainty of God and His love for us.  In my opinion, it would be wonderful, and beneficial for many, if  there were more movies and television that portrayed His great offer of love. And so, I will keep writing.


God Has Blessed Americans

Posted: November 21, 2018 in World On The Edge

morguefile free photo

THANKSGIVING means Gratitude, and that is a big word, and far-reaching. Stretch it out–from one end of your life to the other–and consider when you’ve been grateful and when you haven’t. Consider the things you often overlook, things you take for granted, such as being an American.

When things go well for us, it’s easy to feel grateful. But think about those times in our lives when gratitude was absolutely not felt because we were hurt in some way; disappointed, or betrayed. At times, we may even feel this way about our country and her leaders. It sounds crazy to be grateful for that, doesn’t it?

Think about how disappointment or betrayal has affected us. Think about how we hated it, how depressed we were, how we may have wanted to strike back. During those times, anything remotely resembling gratitude was dead and buried.

But then, how did those disappointments and betrayals change us? Did we only whine, “poor me?” Or did we become stronger?

Difficult times will produce action on our part. Those actions can be negative or positive. It’s our choice. In other words, we can continue to live and love, or we can kill of that part of ourselves–and our country– with a pity party.

It may sound silly, even a little sadistic, to say to yourself: Be grateful for this difficult time. But if we look ahead, past the pain we are experiencing, we can often see something new happening.

A woman in labor experiences trauma and pain, but she sees a new life coming, too. And she is grateful for that. Isn’t it possible to look at the painful traumas of our life in the same way? None of us enjoy pain; and why should we? Some may go through it with resignation, a stiff upper lip, but is that the best way? Or is the best way to be grateful to God for all the events of our lives as Americans?

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.–James 1:2-5

Do You Believe in Ghosts???

Posted: November 19, 2018 in World On The Edge


Wisdom for Writers

Posted: November 15, 2018 in World On The Edge

Who’s Taking Your Picture???

Posted: November 14, 2018 in World On The Edge

eyes of child

How many times a day do you use you cell phone to take pictures? If you’re a new mother or father, it’s many. And as our children grow we take many more of those precious moments that won’t be repeated. We constantly keep our cell phones or cameras charged up so that we don’t miss anything.

I wonder if we realize that at the same time, our children are taking pictures of us. They’re taking pictures with their own eyes, pictures that will be remembered, re-charged, and most definitely repeated. In many ways, we’re playing the lead character in our child’s mental movie, or the subject of his personal painting about how to react to life, love, pain, or joy. And eventually, our children will show their pictures to the world in a myriad of positive, or negative. ways.

As adults though, we not only are photographed or painted or noticed by our own children, or grandchildren, but by every other child we come across—at the mall, at the grocery, at our neighbor’s house for a visit–anywhere. And if we are in the spotlight, in the media, or politics, or religion, we are particularly exposed to the eyes of children.

Their eyes are on us. They are watching. They are taking pictures.

What sort of subjects are we for those innocent cameras? Because how we personally walk through our own lives will be what they emulate, what they carry in their hearts, in their minds, and in their future actions.

Of course, that’s a lot of responsibility placed at our feet. And sometimes it’s a responsibility that we ignore, or that we slough off.

Be aware: We are the pictures–of love or hate, kindness or meanness, anger or calm, compassion or coldness, attention or neglect, disgust or respect–that our children will record and pass on to a society they will soon impact, or even create.

Our children’s eyes are on us. They are watching every move we make. They see how we walk through life.

They are taking pictures.

What are we showing them?

Requiem for a Forever Friend

Posted: November 10, 2018 in World On The Edge
By Pippalou, 2015, MorgueFile.ocm

By Pippalou, 2015, MorgueFile.ocm

I am going to a funeral today, a Mass of Christian Burial. I am going to celebrate a life lived in the sweetest of ways.

I am going to share in the rhythm of Mass, its recitation of prayers and rituals that echo back through the years to a little white church made of bricks, much smaller, much closer than today.

I am going with memories sliding through my thoughts like the moon passing behind the branches of pines.

I am going to a burial ground that is sacred, a spot where those who have gone before us, marked with the sign of faith, await resurrection.

I am going to a hill where I’ll step near my own parents, grandparents, other relatives and friends.

I am going to the inevitable closing of life on earth to the opening of life everlasting.

I am going to a funeral today for my beloved, forever friend.

Camille Margaret Joseph passed away peacefully on November 3, 2018 surrounded by her devoted family. She lived a spiritual life and left behind family and friends with fond memories of her kind heart, gentle soul, and great courage. She left this world with grace and beauty, just as she lived her life. She touched the lives of so many people and left her stamp on this earth. She was a devout Catholic and loved God above all.

Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.

— Psalm 116:7