Friday, June 29, 2018

The Three Hermits – Leo Tolstoy (1886)


“And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.”
—Matthew (vi. 7, 8)



You know a story is good when it stays with you for years, when it keeps creeping back to consciousness from time to time. Such is the case with Leo Tolstoy’s classic, “The Three Hermits,” based on an Old Russian legend about three recluses who lived on an island and led the simplest of lives.

Their only prayer: “We are three, Thou art Thee; have mercy on us.” Even so, they were reputed far and wide to have performed miracles.

When the local bishop heard of their exploits he couldn’t resist sailing out to pay them a visit. And while he was there, he’d teach them more church-proper prayers than “We are three, Thou art Thee; have mercy on us.” When he arrived on the island he proceeded to teach them The Lord’s Prayer.

He spent hours on end working with the three hermits to help them memorize it, though they fumbled and faltered throughout more often than not. Finally it appeared that all three had it mastered, and the bishop felt content to take his leave, satisfied at his good deed.

As he set sail once again, he heard the hermits back on the island praying The Lord’s Prayer in unison, just as he’d taught them so well. That night he stood on the deck in the middle of the sea under the starry sky, basking in his accomplishment and thanking God for allowing him to teach such simple island dwellers the proper way to pray. As he gazed out at the water he saw coming toward the ship a blinding white light – a flock of seagulls?

No, couldn’t be seagulls out here in the middle of the night, could it? He soon grew as frightened as Peter when he saw Jesus walking on water and imagined him to be a ghost. But finally the bishop discerned the light to be the three hermits holding hands and running on the waves to catch up with him.

As they drew nearer, the bishop could hear the holy men crying out in a single voice, “We have forgotten your teaching, servant of God.” And they pleaded with him to repeat it again, just one more time. To which the amazed bishop replied with a humbled heart, “No, your old prayer works just fine. You don’t need me after all. Go your way and pray for us sinners.” 


Monday, May 28, 2018

Birds Again




A secret came a week ago though I already
knew it just beyond the bruised lips of consciousness.
The very alive souls of thirty-five hundred dead birds
are harbored in my body. It’s not uncomfortable.
I’m only temporary habitat for these not-quite-
weightless creatures. I offered a wordless invitation
and now they’re roosting within me, recalling
how I had watched them at night
in fall and spring passing across earth moons,
little clouds of black confetti, chattering and singing
on their way north or south. Now in my dreams
I see from the air the rumpled green and beige,
the watery face of earth as if they’re carrying
me rather than me carrying them. Next winter
I’ll release them near the estuary west of Alvarado
and south of Veracruz. I can see them perching
on undiscovered Olmec heads. We’ll say goodbye
and I’ll return my dreams to earth.


Jim Harrison, 1937 – 2016

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

What It’s Called





Society has no regard for truth. Masses buy its myths and lies and defend them to the bitter end. U.S. Psychiatrist Dr. Leon Eisenberg, born in 1922 as the son of Russian immigrants, who was the “scientific father of ADHD," confessed at the age of 87 in his last interview in 2009:

“ADHD is a prime example of a fictitious disease.”

You’d have thought that when the news broke and Dr. Eisenberg’s “deathbed confession” was published that parents would have thought twice before allowing their children to be led down the path of addiction. But most continued funding the psychiatric-pharmaceutical cartels and their lavish lifestyles.

They don’t question the powers that be, but often acquiesce with a heavy heart, as did my friend, Katherine Russell Barnes, who wrote this poignant poem, “What It’s Called,” about her son’s label.

It’s called ADD,

attention deficit disorder.
Some call it immaturity,
lack of ambition, laziness.

My heart calls it grief
that at forty you have
no home, no steady job, nothing saved.

But my heart calls it joy
that you still delight
in the cerise throat of the hibiscus,

the saucy ways of the titmouse,
the ancient turtle’s mossy back,
a skein of geese on their predestined journey.

My heart calls…


What other societal myths can you name that have done more harm than good?  

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

God Gifted

Title: Out of the Depths
Author: Kenneth E. Kovacs
Pages: 163
Year: 2016
Publisher: Parson’s Porch Books


Kenneth E. Kovacs, in Out of the Depths, a collection of sermons and essays, interweaves theology and depth psychology with skill and grace. His writing style is far from pretentious - or so erudite that the average reader would yawn with boredom. He engages not only the head but the heart.

His personal anecdotes are endearing and likely to resonate with those who’ve ever struggled to discover their own gifts and calls. In his chapter, “God Gifted” (pages 62-66) Kenneth remembers that as a boy he disliked the term “gifted and talented.” His friends were chosen for the program at school, which made him feel like an outsider looking in.

Not being ‘chosen’ impacted his self-worth (and most likely influenced his vocation as Calvinist minister) and caused him to view himself as inferior, inadequate, and unworthy to be included in the special treatment and the enrichment classes. He thought what he had to offer had little or no value.

Thus, the seeds of envy were planted within him, which caused him to push himself all the harder. “I’ll show them!” He desperately wanted to be counted worthy in his teachers’ eyes, but in slaving away to appease the system’s demands, he hid his innate gifts and God-given talents, and didn’t rediscover them again until years later as an adult.

Today Kenneth is using his writing gift and speaking talent to bless countless souls. He pastors a Presbyterian Church in Maryland, has served congregations in Scotland and led pilgrimages there and in Italy, Turkey, Greece, Switzerland, and France.

#OutOfTheDepthsSpeakeasy


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Past is Never Dead


Title: The Coffins
Author: Deborah Dunn
Year: 2017
Pages: 241


Deborah Dunn, in her new novel, The Coffins, takes the reader back and forth in time, from 1587 when Eleanor anticipates becoming Queen of the New Eden and mother of Virginia, to 2015, where her protagonist, Andrea Warren, returns to North Carolina on a mission to solve the mystery of her father’s alleged suicide - his death having occurred while he was searching for the coffins of Beechland.

In her quest for truth, Andrea begins seeing clear visions of scenes from the 1500s: nature as untouched and pure as it was back in the day… she sees herself in deerskin clothes and shell necklace, hair woven and secured by bones and combs of fish skeleton as she paddles a canoe downstream - or is this Virginia Dare she is seeing? It’s nothing strange for Andrea to find herself in two simultaneous worlds:  both in the New World and in the modern age of smart phones and Siri.

Throughout the story, whole scenes materialize before her eyes, as if she’s watching a movie. In these visions she sees murders: While peering into the water at Old Ferry Landing she feels her father’s presence, hears a single shot, smells gun smoke, and hears the thud of a body falling to the ground… She witnesses Willie tossed into Columbia Creek “like yesterday’s fish guts”… she sees a nursing home where a needle is sliding into Aunt Polly’s veins… Dereck holding an assault rifle, starving refugees, innocents crying in agony and disbelief…

Deborah Dunn’s fictional dream takes the reader on a tour through North Carolina’s coastal districts adorned with cypress trees and Spanish moss, awash with choppy waves and cawing seagulls, warm sunshine, dark clouds, deep woods, and into a world where past and present intersect. In The Coffins we see at play the truth of William Faulkner’s words: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past. All of us labor in webs spun long before we were born.”

For more info on the author or to order visit her website:

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Manifesto for Creative Souls

Title: Blessed Are The Weird
Author: Jacob Nordby
Pages: 183
Year: 2016
Publisher:  Manifesto Publishing



Blessed are the Weird is Jacob Nordby’s manifesto for creative souls, for those who’ve always known they were different. The rare birds.  The eccentrics.

Those who march to the beat of their own heart. Those who aren’t apt to play the reindeer games - and might be sent to the Island of Misfits were they toys.

But they now have a place where they can stand out and fit in at the same time.  

You might belong in Jacob’s ”Blessed Weird Tribe” if you fall into any of the following categories:


The book is an expansion of Jacob’s poem that became a viral phenomenon. It’s a call to live a more soulful existence, follow your unique call, and be a part of the new renaissance.

He offers a bold new definition of success in the modern era:

 “The only success now is living and creating a work-of-art life: unique, rich with meaning, naked of anything we don’t care about, and ruthless about carving out something absolutely real from a world that has gorged itself on fakeness and become critically ill from it. The only failure now is pulling back from that quest because of fear.” 

Jacob Nordby is a gifted writer who knows how to engage his readers. He is author of Divine Arsonist – A Tale of Awakening, and Blessed Are the Weird – A Manifesto for Creatives.  His work has been featured in compilation books with Bernie Siegal, James Van Praagh, Lisa McCourt, Jack Canfield, and others.  He is founder and teacher of Creative UnBootcamp – A Course for Writers… and those who want to be.

For more information on the author, or to purchase the book, visit here.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.


#BATWSpeakEasy 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Remnant



Title: The Remnant
Author: Monte Wolverton
Pages: 272
Year: 2016
Publisher: Plain Truth Ministries Worldwide


The apocalypse, or the Final War of 2062, has come and gone, leaving in its wake mass devastation and the death of ninety percent of the world’s population.  Consequently, the World Federation seizes total control and bans all religion, Bibles, and sacred literature. Those who won’t renounce their religion are consigned to labor camps. 

In the year 2131, Grant, his small family, and a handful of others, escape from their work camp through an underground tunnel and venture out into the “Wilderness” in search of a community of likeminded believers. On their pilgrimage they meet their share of wackos and founders of bizarre cults from whom the team has the good sense to flee. 

The Remnant is a page-turner, reminiscent of The Road, The book of Eli and The Walking Dead – only with raptors instead of zombies.  If you enjoy science fiction set in a dystopian society - with scattered doses of comic relief - conversations on philosophical theory, religion and spiritually, be sure to check this one out. The only drawback that I could find is that the author could have used a good editor.  

Monte Wolverine is an author, minister, and syndicated cartoonist. 


For more information visit here:  

Or go to Amazon:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

#SpeakEasytheRemnant
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