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The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 5, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

As a kid this was the Narnia book for me. None of the other books came close to the adventure in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. After having reread it as an adult, my opinion is the same: This is the best of the lot.

So, what makes it so special? Nothing spells adventure like a ship, plus its a ship with a quest, carrying quite a few characters we’ve already met in the series and an important new one. The quest is twofold, Prince Caspian wishes to track down 7 Narnian lords that were banished long ago and never returned, and he wants to reach the end of the world, which is Aslan’s country, or heaven, if one is keeping close to the Christian allegory.

Lucy and Edmund Pevensie are stuck visiting their horrible, annoying cousin Eustace Scrubb. Things go wrong from the start as they start arguing about a painting and end up smack dab in the middle of the sea in Narnia. Fortunately, The Dawn Treader is close at hand and soon all three are brought up on deck to be greeted by Prince Caspian, his men, and the mouse Reepicheep. This entrance to Narnia isn’t quite as iconic as the wardrobe, but it’s close.

Everyone is happy to see each other and be in Narnia except for Eustace, but then, he’s never been there before. And then, the ship is off on the quest to find the lords. Each island they pass too, it just gets better and better and I like this end of the world stuff and the whole poking at the flat earth idea. So many of the characters get challenged: Lucy, Caspian, and Reepicheep particularly. Eustace has the most dynamic change, and we quietly acknowledge along with himself that he does belong in Narnia and that he may be back. I also like all the unexpected turns in the plot–so often there appears to be danger, but then they find things aren’t as they seem and sometimes the more dangerous things are closer to the heart, like Lucy and Caspian longing for things they cannot have.

Basically, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader has it all: sword fighting, sailing, a quest, a dragon, gold, princesses, water people, unending feast, a wizard, storms, a sea monster, and a teensy bit of romance thrown in. It’s a great read and if I kept any of the Narnia books on my shelf it would be this one. For me, the other ones just still don’t compare.

RRR: Books That Should Not Be

After struggling through The Cassandra Knot by Rebecca Baldwin, I am so, so thankful for those romances that actually, well, romantic. Ouch. Published in 1979, this book is adequately Regency, the author clearly knows her time period, and the potential of the plot isn’t half bad, but like so many things in life, it is the execution of things that makes all the difference, and the timing. And it’s hard to get right, but one knows when they’ve struck gold and this story is merely a knot barely worth picking at. In essence, it is a book that should not be. At some point it should have been rewritten or even discarded entirely.

Arranged marriages can often be a good catalyst for romance, and, here, things are promising. The Duke of Woodland, Edward Talbot, is happy with his mistress, and content in life, although generally he is out of funds and really only has a title and maybe some good looks to offer a lady. He is reintroduced to a childhood friend, Cassandra Russell, or Cassie. Cassie is in dire straights, living with an oppressive family that torments her and will force her into a marriage with a horrible man. She flings herself upon Edward, begging him to marry her instead. She is rich, having a great inheritance, and she will leave him be and let him live his life the way he wants. He can even keep his mistress. Edward has compassion on her and agrees to rescue her in this manner. Little does he know, however, that Cassie has actually been in love with him for a few years now.

What follows after that is continual miscommunication and conflict between the couple that is not entertaining whatsoever. Too make matters worse, the pair rarely have “screen time” together, if you will, and little of what time they had is anything leading towards romance. A good editor should have caught this long before publication. Neither main character is very likable, and neither try to win each other’s affection except in the most superficial of ways. The two have no chemistry; indeed, Edward has more chemistry with his scheming mistress than with his wife. Not really the makings of a romantic hero.

In addition to that, a strange robbery intrigue is inserted in the latter half. And the villain ends up being the only consistent and interesting character in the story–except him being the villain is not consistent at all. I was, in fact, hoping that he would steal Cassie away from Edward at many points.

How do writers and storytellers get romance so wrong? Cookie cutter plots are perhaps to blame, but it is a lack of thinking about the relationships between men and women and especially–readers of romance being primarily women–what makes women’s hearts flutter. Edward has little character. At no point in the story does he begin to rally and use the enormous funds he now has from his wife to bring his dukedom back to greatness. He aspires to nothing. As a woman, I can’t think of anything less attractive than a man with no interests, no adventures, and no ambition. Women are built to support their men. Indeed, we often lose ourselves in supporting our men. That’s not to say women have no interests of their own–Cassie clearly has fun partying apart from her husband in the story–But she’s clearly not happy, and has no foothold on which to build a relationship with her husband. Yes, he rescued her from an awful situation, but it’s one and done. It reality, Cassie would have likely been swept off her feet by another man with ambition eventually. Her girlish love for Edward would not have withstood a driven man who knows what he wants.

The Cassandra Knot is a good lesson: A marriage in which either or both parties do not love the other is a raw deal for both of them. Convenience never makes up for the lack of love and affection. Amazingly, by the end of the story, the two are in love and now have a promising happy marriage to look forward too, but how they fell in love or why. I’m not sure. The couple has no spark. With a reworked plot and some actual character and relationship development, this would have been a much better story. If it was told first person from Cassandra’s perspective, I think it could be riveting, especially since she’s in love with her husband and he doesn’t know it. All those feelings, all that angst at being thrown into physical contact with one’s heart’s desire. That would have been something. For a far, far better story involving a husband and wife who pretend not to love each other, but desperately do, try out the French Revolution and The Scarlet Pimpernel. Now that hero is a man with drive.

The Chronicles of Narnia, Book Four, Prince Caspian

This review will be a bit short as I don’t have a lot to say about this story. First off, I enjoyed it, but aside from the beginning chapters, I didn’t find much memorable about it. Here we have the Pevensies, Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy on their second visit to Narnia. This takes place about a year later (in the real world) to their time in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Prince Caspian gets its start in a railway station where suddenly the four children are whisked away to Narnia. The Harry Potter series, too, makes use of a train station to get the kids to the magical world. And what could be more logical than a place of transportation? Anyway, it’s a great opening that flows well into an even better scene: All the children find their former castle where they ruled as kings and queens for so many Narnian years. At Cair Paravel, they start to remember the lives in Narnia that they once had and also find their old weapons and gifts given to them by Father Christmas so long ago. Then they meet a new dwarf and are off to help Prince Caspian save his kingdom.

I did get a kick out of Lucy sticking it to her brother when Edmund’s grumbling about girls: “That’s the worst of girls. They never carry a map in their heads.” And Lucy responds: “That’s because our heads have something inside them.” Ouch. Turns out the map in the boys’ heads of no use as its hundreds of years later that they are trying to navigate through Narnia. Lucy ends up saving the day by trusting in Aslan and her brothers’ pride is humbled. At first the three older siblings do not believe her, even though they themselves have seen Aslan before and Lucy would have no reason to make it up. C.S. Lewis is very much getting at one having faith like a little child, as Lucy is the youngest and her faith wins out on the path in which to take. It’s not so much that Lucy doesn’t have a map in her head, but she has space and room for imagination and the possibility that Aslan is there to show them the way. As adults our heads are certainly crowded with many things, many useful of them in the real world, but having a head full of faith, we can see what’s really important. Or the correct path to take in life, and so on. It’s interesting just how long the older kids persist in not believing Lucy. I see this in the real world so, so often, especially today. So many obvious signs that people just don’t see until finally they are forced to wake up to the fact that they or their thinking is on the wrong path and they must turn around and consider that all those other ideas or conspiracy theories or what have you may be valid or true or both. How easily our grown up pride gets in the way of seeing clearly sometimes.

The interaction between the Pevensies and Prince Caspian really is not a big part of the book. The largest part is simply getting them all in the same place. Lewis includes a wild, uniquely Narnian romp, and then the boys get to do some fighting and killing. As the High King, Peter trumps Caspian and ends up fighting Caspian’s uncle Miraz in combat. It ends up in a big fight, Narnians against the Telmarines who abused Caspian, and it’s thrilling to see the mouse Reepicheep enter the fray only to have Peter yell at him: “Come back, Reepicheep, you little ass! You’ll only be killed! This is no place for mice.” Of course the valiant mouse ignores him.

They all waltz through Narnia and watch as Aslan changes people, or gives them the courage to throw off their bonds. Miraz and the Telmarines have done their best to make Narnia more like a regular world, and everyone is bored and has not been having a good time. That is all stopped. Prince Caspian is crowned king of Narnia and he gives his fealty to Aslan as any Narnian king should. It’s also great to see the persistence of Reepicheep and the mice, who beg Aslan to give him a new tail as it’s been cut off in battle. Persistence is definitely part of Christianity and in asking for things we need or want. God wants us to be persistent. But it is not merely persistence, but the love of the mice for their fellow mice that really moves Aslan to grant his request.

After an amazing, again, uniquely Narnian feast, we find out from Aslan that the Telmarines aren’t from there at all, but from the real world. No wonder they ended up trying to stamp out anything wonderful and magical in Narnia. In any case, it makes Caspian a son of Adam and daughter of Eve, so he is truly fit to be a king of Narnia. Aslan makes a door back into the real world and the kids go back to their regular lives. Sadly, Lucy and Edmund find out from Peter and Susan that their older siblings won’t be coming back to Narnia as they will be too grown up. The very end is great as Edmund realized he left his new torch, or, in American, flashlight back in Narnia. What fun.

The Chronicles of Narnia, Book Three, The Horse and His Boy

In reading this book, I realized that, no, I’ve never actually read the whole thing before. For many, this is their favorite of the Chronicles of Narnia series. It was an enjoyable read, and pretty funny in parts, although I though the latter part dragged a bit, but then I always tend to think that about many stories.

The story largely takes place in Calormen, a neighboring country to Narnia with a strip of a country called Archenland between them. If Narnia represents English/Western culture, Calormen represent Arabia or Middle Eastern culture. As Narnia is our hero country, its culture is of course portrayed as superior to Calormen’s. This essentially connects to C.S. Lewis’s allegory that runs throughout the series that the lion Aslan who created Narnia is a stand in for Jesus. Because Calormen doesn’t follow Aslan, their culture is thus inferior. As a Christian, I can agree with then. Generally, cultures rooted in Christianity have more regard for human life, for example. Sadly, my own county and culture has been in hot pursuit of ungodly things for a long time.

The whole clash of countries and cultures really stood out to me in this book, as we have both our hero, Shasta, and his friend, Aravis, trying to espcape the country and culture they grew up in, desiring the peace and freedom that Narnia offers. We eventually find that Shasta is from Archenland by birth, and is royalty to boot. Although Archenland isn’t Narnia, their culture is closer to Narnia than Calormen’s and Aslan walks there. Calormen revolves around tyrants and slaves, forcing people to do things, etc., so it’s not surprising that those enslaved or forced to do things against their will would want to escape. Also, got a kick out of the Calormen’s referring to Narnian King Edmund as the “White Barbarian King,” and the ridiculous way Edmund and Susan talk.

The names in this book are spot on, especially Shasta–kept thinking of the soft drink–and the villain Rabadash. I had sympathy for the latter, the handsome, young prince, who for once couldn’t get his way. Aravis was great as well, smart and athletic, and of course she becomes BFFs with Lucy. Yes, that is the really cool part of The Horse and His Boy – we get to see Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy in their time as the reigning kings and queens of Narnia. It’s great to see them as young adults and to think eventually they will go back to England and become children again. It’s great also to see Aslan show up at the end and see how defiant Rabadash is to the end, even against the great lion. He is to be pitied.

The talking horses Bree and Hwin were great and, for me, a lot more interesting than some of the talking animals in Narnia thus far. Their interactions and statements were often hilarious. And how clever to frame the story with the title The Horse and His Boy, rather than the Boy and His Horse. Gives us great insight into the talking horses and how they view themselves.

The desert trek was great, as was the mixup with Shasta and Corin, as was the whole thing with Queen Susan being wooed by Rabadash. She must have been so disappointed to find he wasn’t someone she could marry and only wanted to get control of Narnia. I suppose that’s a major drawback of being royalty, you’re not wanted for yourself much of the time. The whole journey through Archenland was where I kind of lost interest, and I didn’t quite get the purpose of the Hermit. Perhaps I will have to read it again sometime and start in the middle and keep my focus going. Again, the ending was great with Rabadash and Aslan and I love how Shasta and Aravis quarrel so much they end up getting married. Some couples really find enjoyment in arguing with each other.

All in all, I can see why for some this is their favorite Chronicles of Narnia book. It has a lot of adventure involved and we get to see many familiar faces. It’s also full of humor that both kids and adults can grasp and enjoy, and the allegory isn’t too overbearing.

The Chronicles of Narnia, Book Two, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Like Agatha Christie, C.S. Lewis is great at describing the character of people, more than their appearance. Especially for new writers, it’s easy to get overly anxious about describing what the characters and people look like, rather than focusing on who they are and how they act. How someone looks is important, but how someone acts is more important, especially in a good story.

But that’s all just an aside. Today I will be reviewing The Chronicles of Narnia, book two, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, or LWW, because my typing fingers are tired today. The beginning of this book is a classic in fantasy. Is there any better beginning than Lucy hiding in the wardrobe and finding Narnia? It’s almost a cliche reference at this point, so engrained is it in western society. In the fairly recent movie remake of this by Disney this scene and also when Lucy meets Mr. Tumnus, the faun, they did almost perfectly. Whoever cast James McAvoy as Mr. Tumnus should be congratulated, as he is one of the best actors out there. Also, remember LWW was the first book written and published in the series, and an awesome beginning. I don’t think if The Magician’s Nephew had been published first the series would have been quite so popular. LWW has more action and thankfully lacks the creepy uncle.

Despite liking this book very much, there’s so much of the story that as a kid I found tedious and boring and as an adult as well. Always at the point when the kids reach the Beavers’ house everything slows down and I have to take a break from the book. Something about animals in stories, even talking ones bores me to tears. Although I like animals, I wouldn’t describe myself as an animal lover and have never owned a pet, so perhaps that is the heart of the problem.

More striking in the book and the series as a whole: Lewis does not shrink from blood, fighting, battle, none of it. And sometime’s it’s almost shocking to think this is in a “kids” book, but I like that it is, and it’s good that it is. It’s also refreshing to have the boys doing the big fighting here. The girls also do not insist on fighting to prove something for all women. Men are generally better and more interested in physical fighting than women are. That’s okay. We understand from Susan’s and Lucy’s characters that they are capable and willing to fight if necessary. Susan with her bow and arrows, Lucy with her faith and persistence. Lewis’s complete embrace of fantasy is also refreshing. It’s okay for fauns, satyrs, nyphms, etc., to exist, even in a “Christian” work.

Speaking of Christianity, although Aslan isn’t a perfect stand in for Jesus Christ, the lion is a great symbol of our Savior and his sacrifice for all mankind. Because we have such a strong sense of justice built into us, it is often hard to reconcile someone dying to save others. The “others” feel unworthy. That’s okay, we are unworthy, but our feelings of that should quickly just be gratitude. We can’t earn salvation and we’re not going to earn salvation and faith helps us make peace with those feelings. Edmund is saved and forgiven and becomes a stronger young man, one who easily thereafter steps into being a king of Narnia. I also like the picture of a lion to reference Christ because we all too often think of Jesus being harmless and really, he is the Son of God, the most powerful being in the universe, and although he is loving, he is also the most dangerous person in same universe.

Reading this book reminded me that I still haven’t ever tried Turkish Delight. I have always wondered what this wonderful dessert is that Edmund eats. Maybe it was common in England back when this story was written, but today in America it’s just not something really around. Perhaps it goes under a different name here. I don’t really know. Anyway, it’s on my bucket list of things to try. Now, if it was Tiramisu, I would instantly understand the addiction.

I still really like the idea of the White Witch and how she’s controlled Narnia for long, as I do the parts seeing when her power fails and things are beginning to melt, but Jadis just isn’t really as interesting a villain to me as she was in The Magician’s Nephew. Probably because I already know she’s going to fail and will only be a footnote in Narnia history thereafter. As a side note, the casting for the White Which in the Disney movie was so off, despite Tilda Swinton being a very good actress.

All in all, I enjoyed the LWW, but was really looking forward to book five, the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The ending, however, is truly marvelous. The four siblings stay in Narnia and become kings and queens in it. They live there for years upon years–who know how many year–and then one day rediscover the lamppost stuck in the ground and then the back of the wardrobe that leads back to our world. Upon arriving, they are kids again, and it’s only a few seconds or minutes since they left! They quickly revert back to being kids again, but their adult lives in Narnia are sort of always with them, maybe like our courage and strength in our daydreams are always with us, too. I sorta like the ridiculous way they talk as adults in Narnia. I mean, if one is going to be a king or queen in a fantasyland, one has to do it right and completely.

The Chronicles of Narnia, Book One, The Magician’s Nephew

In my rereading of The Chronicles of Narnia, I just finished book six and am onto book seven, so might as well begin my reviews. C.S. Lewis doesn’t disappoint. He has such great ways of describing things and was also such a thinker of his time, but also a forward, big picture, thinker. Both are reflected in his writing.

The Magician’s Nephew

Copyrighted 1955. This is actually the second book Lewis wrote in The Chronicles of Narnia, but in order of the series timeline, the first. It is the creation story of Narnia. This one has always been in my top three of the Narnia books and even now, I’m still not sure if I like this or The Silver Chair better. This is the story of how Digory and his neighbor Polly run into Digory’s wicked uncle and end up in fantasyland.

Although there’s something about this story that always feels unformed to me, I think it works in the series as a whole, for on the one hand the plot is merely a precursor to the the next book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. On the other hand, in it’s own right The Magician’s Nephew deals very well with sin and evil. As the series is a Christian allegory, the sins of Digory, Uncle Andrew, and the rest are fully on display here, echoing the fall of humanity into sin in the Garden of Eden. It’s a good foreshadowing of more mistakes, temptations, and evil to come with the rest of the series, but also the promise that Aslan, a stand-in for God, or more specifically, for Jesus Christ, will reconcile everything and make it good again.

The magic green and yellow rings always fascinated me in this book, as did the long row of houses and how Polly and Digory move from one to the other in the attics and accidentally find Uncle Andrew’s office. Speaking of him, Uncle Andrew is seriously creepy! It’s an entirely different experience looking at him from an adult perspective rather than the child and young adult I was when I first read the series. He’s a gamma if there ever was one, even later thinking that the witch, Jadis, would fall in love with him. What a riot! Even to the end, he calls her a “dem fine woman.” Today he would totally be a male feminist. Uncle Andrew’s also so proud to be a super special secret magician, not once considering that just because one can do something, doesn’t mean that should do something. He perfectly embodies the mad scientists of today with their gain of function research and other monstrous experiments. Ironically, Uncle Andrew is important. Without him, the rest of the series wouldn’t have happened. Just as if Adam and Even hadn’t fallen, our great awesome salvation story wouldn’t have happened? Well, it’s interesting to think about, anyway.

The dying world Jadis comes from is interesting in its emptiness and of course Digory just has to ring that bell. I would be the same. It would be too tempting. As for the new world just beginning, I love the way Lewis describes Aslan and the creation of Narnia here. It’s a cool way to picture what the creation of our own world might have looked like.

Jadis is a haughty, evil diva. She is a more worthy opponent than evil guys like Uncle Andrew. She is through and through a villain. So is Andrew, but he’s so pitiful, one would rather just avoid him. Okay, now I can’t decide which kind of evil is worse, the one one you know you should confront right away, or the one that is awful, but doesn’t seem worth fighting, at least at first. Both have their place and both have been used throughout the world’s history.

I also like how Lewis embraces fantasy–really embraces it with all the weird creatures, not thinking them bad or wrong, but they could possibly exist. God could/could have create/d the and that would be just fine. Great, even. He can embrace it, because he has a good root, a sure faith in the real world and truth. I also like how humble people like cabbies can become kings. And what an awesome origin story for the lamppost!

As for the overly religious part: I like how Lewis deals a bit with the Tree of Life and how later Aslan tells Digory that if he had given some to his mother both would have regretted it. We don’t often really seriously think about what would have happened if Adam and Eve had eaten from the Tree of Life after Eating from the Tree of Knowledge. Imagine the constantly degrading world, constantly decaying, one’s body decaying and giving out and then not even being able to die. A whole different ball of wax than what we have now. In The Magician’s Nephew, Digory ultimately resists the temptation. This is a test from Aslan, a way to right Digory’s wrong of bringing Jadis to this world. I am happy he passes the test. I wish we could all pass the tests given to us, but it takes great faith, courage, and humbleness. The sacrifice of God necessary to truly atone for sin, Lewis leaves, or rather, wrote first in the second book that introduces us to the future kings and queens of Narnia: Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.

And, cooly, Lewis slips in that Digory is The Professor in the next book and how the wood from Narnia was made into the magical wardrobe from The Lion, the Witch, and the….

Ignorance is Death: Plague of Corruption Book Review

Oftentimes we think of corruption as a minor ailment in our society. The saying is that power corrupts, right? Anyone in a position of power is likely to be a bit corrupt, that is, a bit selfish and looking out only for themselves and their own interests, and their own agendas. And while it is true that in a sinful world we can never stamp out corruption completely, we should still be smart enough to understand that it shouldn’t be tolerated. Corruption isn’t just a rot slowly eating away at something, no, it is the complete distortion of something. A corrupt government, for example, is not a government, but a different entity entirely. A government governs, a corrupt government destroys a country.

Plague of Corruption by Dr. Judy Mikovits and Kent Heckenlively deals specifically with corruption in healthcare and science. This corruption is horrifying, but really not surprising considering that almost every level of our society is now corrupt. Almost every institution in America, and other countries as well, is doing the complete opposite of what they were created for. Selfishness doesn’t adequately describe it, and it’s certainly not a minor ailment. What this book describes is abominable on so many levels. Health care is so far from being about health that the question arises: What exactly is the purpose of the health care industry now today? Science, too. Whatever “science” is that people love so *&^% much, it’s not the observation of the real world and how it works. And it’s certainly not about asking questions.

This book was a good read, but the latter half is much better than the first. The authors take their time and use a roundabout way to get us to the destination. I enjoyed the second half largely because I was familiar with much of the information already and was intrigued to see it all fit together with the information from the start of the book. Mikovits begins with a harrowing tale that could easily be a crime show segment or something from a John Grisham novel. Those already skeptical of what’s coming would at this point perhaps roll their eyes and put down the book. But if they did that they would be missing a great deal. Not missing so much the information this book gives, but the questions it raises. Questions we should all be asking now and questions we or our great-greats should have been asking from the beginning. Ignorance is not bliss, as the saying goes. Ignorance is death.

My brother-in-law is fond of saying that babies are stupid. From one perspective, yes, they are; from another, babies are simply ignorant, and that is why for the first few years of life a parent’s number one job is to keep their child alive. Parents have to teach their kids about all the ways they could die and how to avoid them. Babies will really stick their fingers in an outlet, because why not? Babies are so cute and innocent, and as adults we can aspire to be like that because it’s good, but we should never aspire to ignorance. As this book shows. Ignorance equals death, if not for ourselves, perhaps for future generations.

As you can already tell this is going to be a lengthy review. I have a lot of thoughts about the material and there’s just so much to unpack in the book and about Mikovits’s story. She is a scientist that began work in 1980s largely dealing with retroviruses, cancer, and the like. She and her colleague, Dr. Frank Ruscetti, who was a founder of the retrovirus field, and isolated XMRV, or Xenotropic Murine Leukemia Virus, and its connection to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Yes that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The most famous retrovirus is HIV and the book has much to say about that, too, and the corrupt Dr. Fauci.

As the book unfolds, it describes corruption in science, corruption in the law, corruption in government, corruption in testimony for the government’s vaccine court, which few know exists, but the heart of the matter is the physical manifestation of all of this corruption: Vaccines. Vaccines don’t equal dollar signs so much as they equal power, and absolute power at that. This book was written just before COVID hit and it’s obvious how all of the corruption and problems Mikovits describes are directly correlated to the medical tyranny we see today, right down to that dapper little Fauci.

So what’s wrong with vaccines, exactly? That’s the wrong question. Maybe the question should really be, what’s right about them? Mikovits takes one component: animal cell lines used in the manufacturing of vaccines and other medical research, and explains in detail the harm just that one thing in a jab is doing to the human body. Or could be doing to the human body. The staggering thing is, we really don’t know the affects and/or damage. Mikovits would encourage further study. Who knows, maybe further study would reveal more about what’s right in vaccines?

In her career, Mikovits came across quite a few instances where it was clear that these retroviruses were from animals and had been passed onto humans somehow. Each time she questioned a medical source, whether growth hormones given to cows, or vaccines given to people, she ran into trouble. Questioning these things is not allowed. Basically our corrupt institutions know quite well that these things are damaging people. They know exactly what they are doing and either they simply don’t want to get caught or they just don’t care. The animal cell lines used in manufacturing vaccines are directly related to HIV, XMRV, and other retroviruses and they are being passed to us, into our bodies are doing damage, causing AIDS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and who knows what else.

“We are mixing animal and human tissue in laboratory cultures, then injecting them into human beings in a way that bypasses their traditional defenses, such as stomach acid breaking down pathogens.” – p. 124

Not only that, but we are injecting several pathogens at once with complete ignorance of what that combo does to the human body. In addition, we have no idea what injecting multiple pathogens along with animal cells, human cells, and the host of other poisons and chemicals also in vaccines actually does to the human body. How is this at all considered either safe or good for one’s health? I say ignorance, because it’s true. No one wants to know, not so many of the patients, or the doctors, or the health officials, or the scientists. When a person has a health problem after getting a vaccine, the vaccine being even a possible cause is across the universe in most people’s minds. When the CDC does a study on autism and vaccines and finds there is a connection that they should study further, they instead destroy the evidence. For some strange reason vaccines are considered a holy thing. A perfect creation made by humanity, far superior to the immune system that God gave us. Far superior to any medicinal plant God created. Sometime it’s like something beyond ignorance or even brainwashing of the general public. It’s a spell. If there ever really was an actual spell on people, this, to me, is it, this unquestioning acceptance of all things vaccine.

It’s only now, with COVID that more and more people are actually starting to question vaccines. And evil is showing its stupidity in forcing the vaccine, causing even more to question not only its effectiveness, but especially its safety. The stories Mikovits shares of people suffering, really suffering from vaccines and the disease and autoimmune disorders they have brought, are heartbreaking, as is the callousness of the powers that be. There are plenty of doctors and scientists who are not corrupt, who do want to, and can actually help. It’s just that they all have been and are now so often silenced from the public discourse.

Mikovits mentions her faith in God a few times in the book, but the fact that she ends in hope speaks volumes as well. She has hope that all this immune dysfunction people have now from vaccines can be remedied. Among the remedies, she mentions diets like keto and also practicing fasting. I cheered at that. So many people are finding better health by doing and especially eating the opposite of what their doctors tell them. Is it possible for corruption to simply fail when no one’s buying into it any longer? I hope so, I really do. People are waking up to the truth, and it has been a very slow process, but the tyrannical overreach has hastened things along considerably. That’s a strange thing to be grateful for, but I am.

No matter what side you’re on when it comes to health and science, I think Dr. Mikovits’s story is important and this book worth reading. We should be able to agree that both health and science need major cleanups for the good of future generations. We should be able to agree that people asking questions should not be silenced, but listened to. We should be able to agree that in matters of especially health, people need good information to make their decisions, and also that it is their decision. We should agree that those in power in both health and science need to be held to account. Again, ignorance is not bliss, it’s death, the death of our health, the death of our society, the death of even the knowledge that we’ve collected. If science cannot be questioned, then it is no longer science, but a cult or religion. Even God himself allows questions, invites them, even.

Not sure how many times I used the word “corrupt” in this review, but, whew, it was a lot. Plague of Corruption showcases how corruption is a plague on almost every aspect and institution supposed to keep us safe. This, I knew, and this we all know on some level, but Mikovits’s story really brings it home with all the connections from her research from the 1980s until now. A good read and thought provoking, giving many aspects to go and research for oneself, if one so chooses, and hopefully many have and do.

Until next time! –Pixie

RRR: The Duchess and the Devil

As you can tell by the title, this Regency Romance was ta-cky! By Sydney Ann Clary and published by Zebra Books. This was a second printing in 1991, copyrighted 1988. Surprisingly, this is the first of this box that has actually been a smutty romance novel. I half-expected most of the them to be smutty and was happily surprised when they weren’t. Eh, it would only have been a loss of $5, anyway. Because written porn is just as bad as the visual kind, I did not finish the book, but I do have some comments, so enjoy.

Clary is a great writer and storyteller. A lot of romance novelists are, but romance is given such a bad rap, not many maybe know this. It’s the smut that does them in, I’m pretty sure. Also, the majority of the stories follow the exact same formula: Man and woman meet, hate each other, then like each other, then fall in love. Why this is exciting over and over again, I can’t really explain, but there’s just something satisfying about either winning the other person or both winning each other together.

Our hero in The Duchess and the Devil is Deveril St. John, the Duke of Castleton. He’s tall, dark, and handsome, and has a temper and mommy issues. Groan. His mom’s a totally harlot. Double groan. Our heroine is Bryony Balmaine, also tempestuous, and used to doing as she pleases. Both are connected to her uncle, Lord Ravensly, who somehow gets each to promise to marry the other.

I’m sure that farther into the book the two do actually fall in love, but the fighting, fighting, fighting was just so irritating here. In everyday life this would be exhausting. Bryony is very annoying. Refusal of common sense just to refuse. Blah. Worse, Deveril forces himself on Bryony and later, though at least they are married, he thinks it’s ok to bed her while she totally out of it. I mean, he didn’t actually have a bottle of the date rape drug, but he might as well have. And this is our hero?

Due to his woman issues, Deveril also assumes that Bryony is basically a prostitute or has slept with many men. He concludes this simply because she had an poor and unconventional life in France. Deveril is a jerk. Any man who assumes this about a women is a jerk. Any woman who assumes the same about a man is a jerk. Thus, Deveril thinks Bryony is experienced enough that he doesn’t need to be gentle! Seriously, I can’t even.

He even says, and I quote: “Only a woman would risk further injury to herself to protect her virtue.” Doubtful that only women are concerned with virtue, but casting that aside, Deveril, dear, sometimes virtue is the only thing we woman have! And it should be considered as gold. It used to be considered as gold.

I’m sure as the story goes on, both behave better, but I didn’t really care to find out and had to retreat to an Agatha Christie mystery to recover. Christie’s great, because although her romances happen rather quickly in her stories, they are actually romantic.

Anyway, tacky, tacky, tacky! Did not finish.

Book Review: Speaking Boldly

As I am not super consistent with my devotions and Bible study, it took me a lot longer to get through Speaking Boldly: Sharing God’s Word Every Day than planned. Written by Edward O. Grimenstein, Speaking Boldly is about just that, instructing and encouraging Christians to speak God’s Word in their everyday lives. And, being published through Concordia, it’s a book from a Lutheran religious perspective.

I liked this book because it can be used for devotion and Bible study and it’s also really simple, breaking everything down to show why we don’t need to be at all afraid of speaking God’s Word in this world. The biggest point Grimenstein makes is that God’s Word is God’s. It’s not ours, and if those we share it with insult or mock us, it is really God that they are insulting and mocking. What makes the Word powerful, is exactly that it is God’s Word. Salvation and forgiveness of sins were never humanity’s idea. If we conceive of salvation at all, there’s only one way: A person must work his or her way into heaven. That’s about our extent of imagination on the subject. Generally, the reality that any good works we do can never make up for the sinful marks that we bear is brushed aside. Humans often ignore the truth or do not know the truth, so that necessarily limits our imagination.

Fortunately, God isn’t limited in this way, and He had a better plan, to send His Son Jesus Christ in our place to live a holy life, a perfect God-Man being who did every right thing that we could not and even remembered to do every right thing we forgot. But even that wasn’t enough: Jesus’ righteousness had to pass on to us, in order for us to benefit from it. Jesus took on the punishment we deserved and died once for the whole world. He died in our place and suffered hell and ultimate separation from God himself. And then Jesus rose from the dead to show that He had defeated death, hell, and the devil, and that now peace reigns between God and Man. We are forgiven, truly forgiveness, for what we have done, and we are right with God. It is literally the most amazing thing this universe has or will ever have witnessed. It is the ultimate sacrifice and the ultimate love.

Anyway, all of that, all of that history, that Word, it’s God’s, not ours, and it is far older than this age, and we shouldn’t be afraid to speak it confidently and boldly to our fellow man. It is this Word of this forgiveness and salvation that everyone in the world needs to hear. Speaking Boldly begins by going through Creation and the wonderful news of salvation, and then digs into the definitions and uses of God’s Law and Gospel. Sometimes people are in a place where they need to hear the Law, as they need to come to repentance. Sometimes they need to hear the Gospel as comfort for when they are repentant or when they need comfort.

In our modern world, we often avoid talking about things like spirituality and religion, so how on earth is a Christian to even bring up Law or Gospel with anyone? Speaking Boldly goes through it step by step, but basically we must form genuine relationships for the speaking to even happen. And Grimenstein says the best way to relate to people is to listen to them, to really listen. Put down the smart devices, turn off the TV, forget about what you’re doing, and really listen to the person in front of you. If we listen well, it will become clear to us what we are to say, if we need to share Law or Gospel or both. Christians really listening will instantly distinguish us from the rest of the world. Instant light, instant salt.

Although in the past year I have become better, I am not a particularly patient person. Once upon a time, I used to be a very good listener, but lost it. Because it’s a skill that involves being around people, that’s perhaps why I lost it, becoming too involved in watching shows and reading books, plus the addition of living alone. When one is not around people, it’s easy to forget how to relate to them. This year I have been trying to do better at listening, and the results are amazing. Connections are made where there were none or fizzled ones before. Having patience is basically about time: Make it not exist when you are with other people. We can’t always do it fully, and it depends much on the situation and circumstances, but it becomes its own reward, being a great way to learn how people think and learn more about what they need and want. And most everyone wants some level of hope, love, and forgiveness, and that’s where we can step in to share God’s Word.

Grimenstein spends awhile on listening, as it’s just that important. Just like a doctor is no good if she doesn’t listen to what her patients are telling her, neither are we good if we don’t listen, either. It is vital for us to know when to share Law and when to share Gospel. Later on, he discusses other aspects to consider using the parable of the Sower and the Seed from Luke. There are a number of reasons why God’s Word is not received well or even rejected by those that hear it, and it’s more complicated than that they simply don’t believe. It’s important to understand what people are dealing with, their cares and concerns in the world, if they are believers, if they are being mocked or persecuted for their faith, or if they are simply not grasping that God’s Word and salvation is for them personally. Even Christians sometimes doubt that we’ll be in heaven. In those times, we desperately need a fellow Christian to speak the Gospel to us.

For the last chapter, Grimenstein discusses when the world “talks back.” He goes through many of the ways that right from the get-go, the world prevents us from speaking God’s Word and how to address that. The first thing, again, is that it’s not our word, but God’s. Salvation is real and should give us the ultimate confidence and boldness, for we are not speaking for ourselves, but for God who loves us far better than any human can comprehend. It’s more than okay if we lose our own lives in the speaking of God’s Word. We are but a mist on this earth, and then we are gone. Heaven is eternal, and that is where our true, eternal lives will be led someday, though I can scarcely comprehend what that will be like.

I realized reading this book that I need to improve on listening to people, but it also hit home that my everyday speaking needs to improve also. A great majority of the time I am among Christians, fellow Lutherans, and the Law and Gospel aren’t as much of our speaking as they could be. What Grimenstein is talking about is not just talking to people, but having heart to hearts with people, making things matter in the ways that they should. The examples he uses are fitting, and a couple of them surprised me–the possible depth of the conversations surprised me. I live in Minnesota. We’re “nice” and often don’t talk about things when we should talk about them. Worse, sometimes that evolves into being passive-aggressive, an underlying malice underneath that nice veneer. Shudder. It can be a difficult wall to break down, but, boy, is it worth it when it is broken down. Even so, it’s not talking about “things” that’s so important, but talking about our Salvation and Justification, our forgiveness of sins and why Heaven is obtainable for everyone. It’s not about us, it’s about God and what He has done for us in saving us.

This is a great book for either group or personal study. It’s not glamorous, but simple, in a good way. And it showcases how God so often uses imperfect people to get his message across. So many of those stories are in the Bible for us to consider. Humanity’s history is intricately tied up with God. That history is written down for us so that we can emblazon it on our hearts and speak boldly the truth of God’s Word.

Dr. Mütter’s Marvels: Book Review

After reading a mystery story about a cabinet of curiosities, Dr. Mütter’s Marvels, A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine, was a good next nonfiction read. This book is by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, and not only is it a fascinating tale, but the book is very artistically designed.

Thomas Dent Mütter was a famous surgeon in Philadelphia, 1811-1859, at a time when surgery and medicine were a free-for-all. One didn’t have to have a medical license to practice, and surgery itself was positively barbaric compared to today. Mutter, who later added the umlaut affectation to his name, was quite a character, brilliant to his students, compassionate to his patients, and a true innovator, especially in the field of plastic surgery. He often worked on the poor unfortunates whose defects and deformities no one else would touch. O’Keefe Aptowicz visited his famous museum in Philadelphia as a child and became so fascinated by him that she ended up researching his life and writing this story.

What an amazing story it was too read! All the infighting between doctors and surgeons and all out in public, the dramatic and bombastic medical lectures, the competition between the University of Philadelphia (America’s first medical school) and Jefferson Medical College, the weirdness of Mütter, who often wore silk suits to surgery, and his colleagues like Charles D. Meigs, the differences in experience from Paris to Philadelphia, the amazing surgeries and cases–this story would make an awesome TV show. Meigs could even be the villain in the piece, but he’s more to be pitied than anything else. Sometimes time passes people by, sometimes people don’t change with the times when really they should.

Doctors and surgeons are not gods; neither is the medical industry infallible. In the early 1800s, perhaps the mistakes made in medicine can be excused somewhat, as everything was just getting started with regulating and licensing and all that, but in many ways doctors and medicine have not changed. Even today there are big controversies and differences of opinions in the field, and as it was then, the doctors that don’t fit the industry narrative are silenced as much as possible. It’s sad that more aren’t willing to let all opinions be heard, but that’s they way it so often is with many things. That Mütter made any change is remarkable, and it seems to me he was blessed by God in this, but also that God had him born at the right time, a time when people were willing to change and to consider change. Near the end of his life, America went through a Civil War over slavery, that’s how much things were changing. Today, it’s tempting to think we’ve figured things out medically, but it wasn’t so long ago that most did not know or did not believe that infection and disease could be transmitted by not washing ones hands. Meigs was one such surgeon and refused to change. How many died by his hand when they didn’t need to? It’s a sobering thought. How many die today at the hands of medical professionals who refuse to looks at standards of care that are doing just the opposite for their patients? Fortunately, there are always some, like Mütter, who are true forward thinkers, people with genuine smarts and common sense.

The most striking aspect to me about Mütter was his compassion for the patients–the time he took to get them used to what would happen in the surgery in a time when the only anesthesia was wine, the quickness with which he performed his cutting and stitching, and his brilliant idea of installing aftercare. He really brought the “care” into medical care. It’s mind boggling now to think that patients were given wine and held down for a surgery or amputation and forced to go through with he surgery no matter what, then dumped into a bumpy carriage to recover at home, all performed in front of hundreds of medical students. Compassionate care is more or less standard in America today, though we still have a long ways to go, too. So, so many people are sick today, especially with things like cancer and chronic illness, that it’s too easy to start treating patients like numbers. That’s what I see with vaccines and COVID, the patients are numbers and everyone wants a part of the staggering amounts of money being thrown in at both things. There are doctors who very clearly disagree with the narrative, who have tried explaining that COVID is fairly easy to treat, that it’s not the worst thing since the Black Plague, and that for most a vaccine isn’t even necessary. A step beyond that, there thankfully are many medical professionals also decrying the hasty use of the COVID experimental vaccines, calling attention to the concerning reactions and side effects. As in Mütter’s day, they are purposefully being drowned out, but not for long, I think, for the truth does will out.

Take anesthesia, a new innovation in Mütter’s time, and something that actually bypassed the need for his brand of surgery preparation, which was to meet for weeks with he patient touching and massaging the area to be cut open, so that they wouldn’t be afraid when the surgery finally happened. Instead of being angry about it, however, Mütter embraced the technology, knowing that if it was better for the patient, it would be better for the surgeons too. He also stressed that for the doctor and surgeon, a surgery should be a last and best step–most all other avenues should be tried first. This is a big way we fail today. Surgeries are recommended today so often as to make them routine. Perhaps this should not be. Perhaps there are other ways and better ways to heal. I think of the experience people have had changing their diet, going on keto or carnivore. Much of their inflammation and distress disappears. The truth is getting out there, little by little, especially as people perhaps now have less money to spend on expensive surgeries, but it’s still only a precious few doctors that really embrace these cheaper means.

This story is a great read and of course whatever one’s experience in the medical field, different aspects will resonate more keenly. What I got out of it, would not be what you get out of it. What a fun trip it would be to go to Philadelphia someday and see Mütter’s museum and all of the curiosities collected there. It is amazing that even today we really don’t know sometimes what causes odd growths and deformities on a person. God’s creation is complex and we have a long way to go.