Category Archives: Religion/Spirituality

The Proof That God Exists: The Solution to a Puzzle Spread through Sciences and Other Disciplines of Human Knowledge by Mauricio Mediano

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

The Proof That God ExistsThe Proof That God Exists by the highly talented author and scientist, Mauricio Riguette Mediano, Ph.D., takes a look at scientific evidence and explains in a way that laymen can easily understand that science can be used as evidence to prove the existence of God. Mediano organizes the book, subtitled “The solution of a puzzle spread through sciences and other disciplines of human knowledge,” into short, succinct chapters summing up the proof offered by various scientific disciplines that explains how the creation of intelligent life on Earth cannot be chalked up to simple coincidence. There must, Mediano argues, be a Creator, a God, behind science and behind the creation of humans on our planet.

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Everything involved in establishing the extremely specific conditions under which intelligent life can evolve and be created in the first place makes it almost impossible that it could happen without there being a God involved. Mediano makes the case that the conditions intelligent life occurred on Earth are unique, and he uses science to establish that the likelihood these specific conditions could have occurred anywhere else is very slim.

Wake Up – God’s Talking to You by Manny Dean Fernandez

Wake Up - God's Talking to You

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Everybody dreams, but most people forget their dreams soon after they wake up, not realizing that some of their dreams might be a direct means God is using to communicate to them. Author Manny Dean Fernandez has written Wake Up – God’s Talking to You, an inspiring guide designed to help people remember their dreams and interpret them, to discover what God might be trying to tell them.

Wake Up – God’s Talking to You is not a regular sort of dream interpretation book in which dreams can potentially mean any number of fanciful things; rather, it is a look at the importance of dreams in an entirely different light. Dreams can be viewed as one of the many ways God attempts to convey meaning to the lives of His creation, as Fernandez does in his enlightening book.

The Ultimate Reality by Gian Kumar

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

What is the true nature of reality? How do our notions of self reality and spiritual reality influence our behavior and how we interact with others? In Gian Kumar’s third book, the intensely interesting and thought-provoking look at reality that he’s titled The Ultimate Reality, the author takes an in-depth exploration into what “experiential awareness” is, and into what the ultimate reality is for each of us.

Kumar’s previous two books showed that, in spite of material and digital comforts in the world today, we are still living a life made up of dualities, such as happiness/unhappiness, good/bad, God/devil, all of which exist side-by-side. Even when we follow the spiritual teachings of gurus or other sorts of “masters” at presenting life lessons or spiritual truths, we do not gain the solace we sorely desire. We still experience the feeling that there is something missing in our lives.

The mind, with its constant chatter and habit of delving into past experiences and anxieties about the future, does not allow us to live in the present moment and be aware in the ‘now’. By the time our mind can register it, there is already a new ‘now’ which has taken its place.

In The Ultimate Reality, Gian Kumar brings us to a realization about what the deeper existence is that we are searching for. Through experiential realization and higher consciousness, we can centralize both extremes, and ultimately realize a sense of oneness with the universe.

Think From The Heart, Love From The Mind by Gian Kumar

Reviewed by Raymond Mathiesen

On Monday morning, as you wolf down breakfast, drop the kids at school and fight the traffic to work, have you ever thought, “I wish I could be happy!” or even more, “I wish I could have more days of peace!” If so, this is the book for you. You may think the answer will read something like, “Think about what you like and don’t like, make lists, then work out strategies to increase and avoid them respectively. Quite the contrary, Gian suggests that the first thing you do is DON’T THINK. Instead we should calmly observe, noticing our thoughts and feelings, and the world around us. Eventually, Gian says, we will receive intuitions from our unconscious that will point us in the direction we should really go. Gian calls this whole process “awareness”, but some may know it by the Buddhist name “mindfulness” (Michael Carrithers. Buddha: A Very Short Introduction: Oxford University Press, c1996, p. 50-52). According to Gian the trouble with thinking is that our beliefs are based on past experiences while we live in a fast changing human life. Even our past experiences were interpreted by us in terms of what our parents, teachers, religious leaders, political leaders, etc. taught us. These ideologies are themselves interpretations of those people’s pasts. Gian is not suggesting that there is anything wrong with thinking, but the idea is that we be truly informed before we think.

This book could be classified as New Age, but it is much more accurately described as Eastern philosophy. Gian presents an interesting mixture of Buddhist and Hindu thought. The Hindu thought largely comes from The Bhagwat Gita (Ch. 13). There is also a sprinkling of Christian and Islamic ideas. Gian is a free-thinker, self-taught, and, as we have hinted, one of his main ideas is to avoid being trapped in any one dogma as we immediately limit our view of what is “now.”

The first quarter of the book deals with a brief overview of (1) the condition of man, and, (2), the solution of awareness. The second quarter concentrates on a largely Buddhist view of knowledge (Ch. 4), choicelessness (Ch. 5) awareness (Ch. 6), and duality and non-duality (Ch. 7). The third and fourth quarters concentrate on Hindu ideas of the absolute (Ch. 8), creation and destruction (Ch. 9), spontaneity and the now (Ch. 10), sensitivity rather than emotionality (Ch. 11) awareness in practical living (Ch. 12), completeness (Ch. 13), and zero (Ch. 14). This world wind summary of course can only hint at the depth of the book which shows much study.

For the Love of God
By Lawrence W. Gold, M.D.

For the Love of God Reviewed by Cy Hilterman

Excellent and controversial book showing both ways of thinking between professional medical care and those believing in faith healing using no doctors. Daniel Zimmer led an upstate New York religious retreat. This group believed that only God through prayers and anointing could cure someone’s illness, regardless of what it was. When someone in the rather large group living in the retreat area had a medical problem, other members of “The Followers” as they called themselves would gather around the ill person, pray, anoint, read the bible, and do anything they knew other than professional medical care to heal the ill person. The Followers had no faith in medical wellness but rather faith healing was the only method to save a sick person. From the beginning of this tremendous book on, the reader can absorb how the two different ways try to resolve healthcare. Once in a great while someone would become well with the prayers and anointing but in far too many situations the patient continued getting worse until they died. In most of these situations, professional medical care and treatment would have saved the lives of those that died but Daniel had spread his faith healing so deeply into the minds of his followers that a doctor would not be called in any situation.

Daniel eventually married Patricia but mostly in name only. Daniel had to have more children with the many young women, many young teenagers, to keep The Followers growing. Many died from lack of proper medical treatment but it took some time before some in the group realized that their ill child or other family member was not improving using Daniels methods. Sara Cobb, a young woman reporter for the Albany Star, was assigned by her boss to go to the nearby area for another story. Upon her arrival she learned that two inmates had broken out of the local prison and Sheriff Tom Jackson and his deputies were searching the area that happened to be near The Followers retreat area. The sheriff found a cave and searched it thinking the prisoners might be in there but to his dismay he found quite a few bodies instead. The cave was supposed to be a part of the Indian burial grounds and the way these adults and children were placed he knew Indians did not do it. These bodies were eventually connected to The Followers. Now the charges were made against The Followers.

The Angels’ Footpath: Let’s Take This Walk Together by Ronald R. Cooke

The Angels' FootpathReviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

I’m not in general a big fan of “inspirational” sorts of novels. The Angels’ Footpath (subtitled: Let’s Take This Walk Together) by Ronald R. Cooke goes beyond the usual definition of what an “Inspirational” novel is, and like LeHayne’s Left Behind series, it crosses over into the science fiction genre with its vivid depictions of a future filled with turmoil where revolution is in the air. As is often the case, where political strife is prevalent, there is also religious strife, and people of religious faith feel as if their faith is being challenged. With the End Times upon us, there is born an infant with a special gift to a Hispanic couple whose names (Josue and Mari) are derivations of Joseph and Mary from the Bible. Will their child, like Jesus, prove to be “the Light of the World”? Is their infant, whom they name Ricardo Juan Sanchez Vasquez,” the Second Coming of Christ; or, is he someone entirely different, either an important Prophet or perhaps even the Antichrist?

Cooke’s compelling and impressive writing style makes you want to continue reading late into the night, to discover the answers to the questions he brings up and to learn more about the early life and transformation of Ricardo into a religious leader of the Christian faithful. We read in the very first chapter about Ricardo’s long-anticipated birth to his loving parents, and also that a mysterious “old man with a weathered face” in the fields hears the newborn’s cries, and says: “It is done.”

Rick (as Ricardo comes to be called) grows up with his best friend, Phillip. They ride horses together and go to school together and play football and eventually go on to college and even working together.

Skip Rock Shallows by Jan Watson

Skip Rock Shallows by Jan WatsonReviewed by Adele Symonds

This is Jan’s 6th book and I highly recommend it.

The plot revolves around the main character, Lily Gray Corbett. Lily has just finished medical school and her first internship is in the coal camp of Skip Rock, Kentucky, a small ountain town. The book is set in 1908 and Lily has to contend with the prejudices of small town folk who don’t believe a woman should be a doctor. She dispels these preconceived ideas through her professionalism, good work, compassion and friendliness. There are disasters and triumphs, love and loss, changes in perspective and changes of heart throughout the book.

All the characters are so well written that you can picture each and every one of them not just the main characters which is the case in some books; this helped the whole book to come alive. I loved every character in different ways except for Paul, Lily’s fiancé who is doing his internship in Boston. I did not warm to this character but it was no less well written.

The Heart’s Frontier by Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith

The Heart's Frontier Reviewed by Jane Squires

A blending of two author’s work that will stir your heart. The Amish on a cattle drive is a delight to read. The blending of two faiths different yet made stronger.

The faith of a father who loves his daughter so much he puts her happiness ahead of Amish ways. Humor abounds in this story of Luke and Emma. Rustlers, diversions and such that make you see a cattle drive in a whole new light.

I applaud Emma for not settling for a marriage without love. Her Gramma (maummi) is a delight to behold. One will never forget the hutch. God’s plan brings two people together regardless of backgrounds.

Rehearsing for Heaven by Mark B. Reed

Rehearsing for HeavenReviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Is your “heartprint,” aligned with heaven’s values? Has the way you’ve led your life on Earth, your “rehearsal for heaven,” gotten you ready for the Big Show? Heaven’s Executive Producer, God, would like you to be one of the actors or actresses he chooses for heaven, but whether you get there or not depends on both God’s grace and how well you do in rehearsals, that is, how well you led your life on Earth. Written in three acts, Rehearsing For Heaven by Mark B. Reed and published by CreateSpace is a thoughtful and scholarly extended metaphor (simile might be more accurate) about our lives on Earth being a rehearsal for heaven, the greatest “show” of them all. Using numerous sources, anecdotes, and an always interesting and thought-provoking writing style, author Mark B. Reed explores what it is to live a good life, how we can change and live richer lives that are pleasing to God, what the nature of heaven is like, and how to ultimately get there ourselves and join the “cast,” before it’s too late.

What are the three sections, or “acts,” and what are the topics they cover that today’s Christians should find interesting? Act 1 is “Setting the Scene,” Act 2 is “The Script,” and Act 3 is “Showtime.” Each act is broken down into three “scenes,” which cover sub-topics important to the acts and to Christians who would like to lead better lives. To give you an idea of what I’m referring to, Act 1’s three scenes are: “Heaven’s Producer,” “Heaven’s Set,” and “Heaven’s Stage.” Act 2’s are: “Heaven’s Storyline,” “Heaven’s POV,” and “Heaven’s Cast and Crew,” while Act 3’s scenes are “Heaven’s Hope,” “Heaven’s Justice,” and “Heaven’s Life.” The book is then wrapped up with its Epilogue, “The Beginning of the End,” which concisely sums up Rehearsing For Heaven’s main themes.

Just telling you the titles of the three Acts and their scenes probably doesn’t give you a very clear picture of what Rehearsing For Heaven is about. “Heaven’s Producer,” is self-explanatory, as God is the “Producer” of the title. It is about the nature of God, but, like each of the Acts and scenes, it covers a lot of related sub-topics, and uses pop and cultural references to illustrate the author’s points, like Alfred Hitchcock and his quote: “I enjoy playing the audience like a piano.” There are also “Cue Cards,” strewn in each scene, with talking points on them to ponder and perhaps discuss in worship groups. For example, one in Act 1, Scene 1 has written on it: “Empty handed and bare,/transparent to the core,/let’s hope there’s something left/when heaven begins to explore.”

Act 2, “The Script,” goes into many topics, also, like the End Times, what the “new heaven and earth,” the Bible mentions will be like, the transformation our earth will undergo, etc. As Mark B. Reed states, the “Bottom line,” is that “the world is headed somewhere by the Producer’s design. It’s not in the hands of randomness. It’s in the Creator’s hands.” In the intriguingly titled sub-topic, “Stairway to Heaven,” Reed discusses the different religious beliefs of the Hindus, who conceive of life and death as a “cycle,” instead of linearly, as we do in the West. He goes into ideas they have about reincarnation and its goal “to die finished, cycling until reaching the ultimate level of perfection.” Most religions, he states, “take an earn-your-own-way approach just like reincarnation, holding each person responsible for paying for his mistakes, cleaning them up, changing his ways, and making himself a better person.” The difference between those and Biblical Christianity in that respect is that the latter “allows an imperfect being to be made perfect by a power outside himself. It’s called grace.”

Act 3, “Showtime,” is probably my favorite Act of the book. That’s because right from the start of the Act, we learn more about the author, that his first job at the age of fourteen was “detasseling corn.” Also, we learn about the crucial importance of hope, like that “Hope is not a wish. It’s a confident expectation.” It’s different from “optimism” and “wishful thinking” in that hope is built upon a “solid foundation” of faith and trust. As one of the Cue Cards from this Act says (quoting George lles): “Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.” The third Act, in addition, gets into “Where Do I Go When I Die?” what Jesus’s resurrection means to Christians, the various places one can wind up in te Afterlife, and more.

Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of reading what some people term “inspirational” books, guidebooks that tell us what we’re doing right or wrong as Christians and how to change our lives for the better and live more Godly lives. After all, everyone has his/her opinions, and merely having them in between the covers of a book in black-and-white is not enough to make them the “Gospel Truth.” However, occasionally a thoughtfully written exception to this comes out that catches my eye, and provides food for both my intellect and soul, and Rehearsing For Heaven, like C.S. Lewis’ brilliant Mere Christianity, is an example of this. It’s a Must Read for Christians, and an interesting discourse on the nature of life and the Afterlife that everyone should find very worthwhile reading indeed.

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Leaving Yesterday by Kathryn Cushman

Leaving YesterdayReviewed by Jane Quires

This is a power packed book. I highly recommend it to all. I found myself weeping for joy at the end. This is a story that grips you and causes you to want to be there for others. It also shows that sometimes one may not understand what a person is going through or why they do the things they do.

Alisa loses one son to death, which sets off many problems in the home. I know first hand how young people trying to find themselves can affect the whole family. A God of second chances is revealed. There is a mother who loves her son unconditionally and will do whatever it takes to protect him but finally has to come to grips with having to make a hard choice. Forgiveness, renewal, pretension by Christians who wear masks, and much more is revealed.