Pearly Gates & Streets of Gold (part one)

Let me begin by sharing a short passage from my novel The Devil and Pastor Gus, which I consider to be the most important novel I’ve ever written, even if its readership has been more limited than for some of the others. This comes from page 269 of the print edition. Gus is having a conversation with Peter about what Heaven is really like. Peter is speaking first:


“But God tells me you’re a bit skeptical about the ‘pearly gates’ and ‘streets of gold’ the Bible talks about.” As if anticipating Gus’s defensiveness, he added, “That doesn’t bother Him, though.”

“That’s good. I’ve always believed Heaven is too wonderful to picture, so its exact appearance is beyond my imagination.”

Peter patted Gus on the shoulder. “It’s beyond everyone’s imagination.”

Readers often ask the authors they admire whether their stories are autobiographical. I willingly admit there’s probably some of me in every character I create, even the women. But that’s especially true of Pastor Gus himself. Both of us suffered a midlife crisis for what seemed like years, and each of us wanted to leave a significant spiritual legacy through our writing–novels, specifically.

There are a number of less significant similarities, like Gus’s desire to speak with a genuine Australian accent after returning from a mission trip there. I’ve been to Australia six or seven times, and most of my trips were mission trips.

But what I want to focus on today has to do with the passage of The Devil and Pastor Gus quoted above. I was hesitant to write those paragraphs for fear I would be accused of not taking the Bible literally.

I do take the Bible literally, but with these (go ahead and call me liberal if you must) thoughts in mind:

  • Ancient Hebrew didn’t originally have vowels, and many words had multiple meanings. Without having the constant guidance of someone who lived during biblical times, many passages that would’ve been perfectly clear then are confusing to modern readers. It’s even possible that the original meanings have sometimes been “lost in translation”–or at least unintentionally mangled.
  • Furthermore, some things were applicable to the Jews of yesteryear and were never meant for modern-day Christians. Remember that the next time you’re, uh, pigging out on bacon or sausage.
  • Ancient Hebrew didn’t have uppercase letters. So the contemporary tendency to uppercase pronouns designating God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is–in one sense–an enhancement to the Bible. That may be correctly done in most instances. But are all of the correct?

Are you accusing me yet of being too liberal? I hope not. I could give you more ammunition that’s not relevant to this blog post. For example, I don’t really care whether the seven days of creation were twenty-four hour days or periods of time. I’ve heard both from people I highly respect.

My, but I’m straying from the original purpose of this post. Tell you what. Let’s call today’s post “Part One.” I’ll finish next Sunday.

Any comments on Part One? Please share.

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Best regards,

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I Don’t Write Suspense

I’ve been writing off and on for the last fifty-some years. I’ve written poetry, dramatic monologs, short stories, short plays, and essays.

I’ve been writing novels for the past eight or nine years. Two of my young adult novels have been published and my one satirical speculative novel–that’s what the Christian market calls “supernatural” now–was published in November.

I’ve written eight other novel  manuscripts in varying genres that have yet to be discovered by a discriminating publisher.

But do I read Young Adult novels? Only periodically.

How about speculative novels? Sometimes.

What do I really enjoy reading, then? Suspense.

Not mysteries, although suspense can involve mysteries needing to be solved. Not terror stories, although suspense often deals with some indescribably terrible things.

I like straight out pure and simple  suspense. The kind that keeps me turning pages and–figuratively speaking–biting my nails.

But I don’t write suspense, even though my novels sometimes have suspenseful moments.

Why not? I don’t think my creativity works the right way for suspense, and I don’t feel like trying my hand at something I have strong doubts about succeeding at. Coming up with a really fresh idea would be extra difficult after all of the suspense novels I’ve read, and having to keep so many details straight–so many balls in the air, as it were–doesn’t appeal to me.

But that doesn’t keep me from reading suspense and loving it. I just finished a really good one–Redeeming Grace by Ward Tanneberg. The blurb on Amazon is brief, but compelling:

“Hello Grace, did you think I wouldn’t find you?”

Those nine chilling words end Grace Grafton’s self-imposed sanctuary of witness protection. She knows the President’s dark secret – a secret that could destroy his presidency. Thought to be a fatal casualty in a drunken boating accident, now Grace and everyone she loves are in grave danger as a killer prepares to take the oath of office.

When a murderer moves into the White House no one is safe – not even the dead.

Who wouldn’t at least be curious about a book like that?

I’ve read political thrillers by various well-known secular authors, but this novel is right up there with them. The Christian elements only made it better. I’m not going to give away any secrets about the plot, but suffice it to say that Mr. Tanneberg has crafted his story extremely well.

When I’m dying to read something else by an author, that tells you something.

What do you like to read? Please share a comment.


I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.

Best regards,