Response to Evil: Revisited

Standard

Maledicus

Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” This issue is one of the central themes of my horror novels Maledicus: Investigative Paranormal Society Book I  and Gallows Hill: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 2 and is also one of the main issues that has faced humanity in the last one hundred years. From the consequences of millions slain in the Holocaust to one single person murdered on the streets of New York City while many watched and did nothing, humanity has been confronted with this dilemma. We see brutality, oppression, and bigotry towards others on an almost daily basis. When finding evil threatening others, what do we do? Do we ignore it and pretend that it is not there? Do we call authorities to try to handle the situation and hope they arrive in time? Or do we inject ourselves into situations that for both individuals and nations could be filled with the worst kind of danger?

It does not take much effort to find contemporary examples of such circumstances. In all of these situations, the observers are faced with a moral quandary, and in my novels, it is those circumstances which drive the central conflicts. What do three retired gentlemen who are trying to find the answer to the ancient question—is there life after death?—do when they are confronted with a sociopathic supernatural evil that threatens an innocent? It would be easy for them to turn aside and say—this isn’t our fight, or this doesn’t concern me.

These three retired gentlemen do decide to fight this evil, even at the potential cost of their lives and perhaps souls.

In our cynical so-called post-modern world, I feel that I am a bit of a dinosaur, because I am an unapologetic Humanist. I still believe that our connections as people are more important than that which disconnects us. My three central characters believe this ideal also. Hence, they understand Donne’s admonition—“Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” And they understand that whatever threatens an innocent must be opposed.

Advertisements

Dining With Characters, Part 2 — Revisited

Standard

shakespeare-67698_640

(https://pixabay.com/)

For the next installment of this series, I wanted to focus on a few characters out of Shakespeare with whom I would like to spend a couple of hours eating, drinking, and talking. I have loved Shakespeare’s plays and poetry for much of my life. I have acted in and directed some of his work, and I have studied and taught his writing both at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA and in the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, so I would be thrilled to be able to speak to some of his characters.

hamlet-3013170_960_720

(https://pixabay.com)

I would have Hamlet, Henry V, and Macbeth as my guests. I imagine we would meet in an English tavern and have a basic meal and beer.  I hope that my royal attendees would not mind not having a grand meal; I am reasonably sure that Henry V and Hamlet spent a fair amount of time in such modest places before their respective plays begin, and as a Scot and a warrior, Macbeth probably was used to basic accommodations while in the field.

henry5

(https://commons.wikimedia.org)

I would ask them about their views of leadership and the responsibilities of a leader and about their portrayals in the plays.  Henry V and Macbeth are both based on historical persons, while Hamlet is perhaps based on a real person–that is a debate for another day, so I wonder what they might have to say.

macbeth67764_640

(https://pixabay.com/)

I think this would be a lively and deeply fascinating discussion.

With whom from the world of drama, not necessarily Shakespeare, would you choose to invite to dine and speak?

table-182928_640

(https://pixabay.com/)

The Liberal Arts: Crucial for Education and Society

Standard

platosinstitute

(https://pixabay.com)

I was looking over some of my early blogposts, and I decided I wanted to revisit this piece about the Liberal Arts–the humanities–and their importance. The idea I write about in this little post is crucial for our society–the importance of the Liberal Arts in Education.

I had a piece published in the “Education Guide” of the Sunday, 2/15/15, edition of The Morning Call, the largest newspaper in the Lehigh Valley, PA. I am very proud of have the article in the paper, because I am very proud to be part of the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.

The Wescoe School is the name of the adult college program for Muhlenberg College. In this school, adults are able to gain full Bachelor degrees in a variety of majors and programs as well as certificate of study if they are focused on one specific area.

I have been teaching college English courses for many years, and I have been an adjunct instructor at many colleges, but I am deeply impressed with the quality of education and the care for the adult students that are demonstrated in this program.

I was honored to have been asked to write this piece, and I hope that I delivered a clear and sound explanation of the Liberal Arts, both in terms of history and application. I am an unrepentant Humanist; I still believe in the power of education to help people and in the ability of writing and words to help bridge gaps among people. Even at my age, I remain an idealist. Especially in the Wescoe program, I see education having a positive impact on students, many of whom have never attended college, might be starting their higher education in their 40s or 50s, and many of whom have full-time jobs and families. Their ability to learn and achieve never fails to humble me and to reinforce my belief in the strength of the Liberal Arts.

adult-education-3258944_960_720

(https://pixabay.com)

An End of the Year Thought

Standard

kneeling-1989128_960_720

(https://pixabay.com)

I hope that the good wishes that many have had for other people during this holiday season continue throughout the new year. Please remember that we are all interconnected and all people matter.

I will once again, quote John Donne:

“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee”

All of humanity, all of the creatures of the world, and all of the planet are important. Please remember that our fates are connected, and try to show kindness and decency.

dalai-lama-1169298_960_720

(https://pixabay.com)

Teargassing of families and children–the stuff of fascism.

Standard

The Trump administration has ordered and defended the use of tear gas against families, against mothers, against children, and against babies. This is beyond reprehensible–it is evil, and it is the stuff of fascism, racism, and bigotry.

We must never become used to such abominable behavior. All of those who oppose these actions must speak out.

This must end.

Remember that we are all connected.

“No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee”

John Donne

Quotations on Service to Others

Standard

pacifist-71445__340

(https://pixabay.com)

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

                                                                       Mahatma Gandhi

obama-356133__340

(https://pixabay.com)

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”

                                                                        Barack Obama

 

Mister-Rogers-Congress

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

“Life is for service.”

                                                                        Fred Rogers

president-john-kennedy-403379_960_720

(https://pixabay.com)

“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

                                                                        John F. Kennedy

Doc Chuck’s Recommended Readings–Revisited

Standard

books-1655783_960_720

(https://pixabay.com)

This blogpost was written several years ago, but I thought it was worth revisiting, especially because I love to suggest books for people to read.

I had the good fortune this week of delivering a talk at the Muhlenberg College Board of Associates Meeting on the topic of Great Books.  I spoke with the audience for about 20-25 minutes about what I consider to be great books and why they matter. The main argument I made about the importance of books is that they connect us as people.  I am an unreserved humanist; I believe that human beings have the power to improve themselves, that education is crucial to develop of an informed  society, and that books allow readers to experience the worlds of others.

The audience was one of professionals from many fields but very few English Literature majors; however, their interest in reading and books was heartening for me.  They wanted to hear suggestions about what books I would recommend.

In my classes, I sometimes do something I call — Chuck’s recommended readings.  I ask the students to write the title and author and then tell them that what they do with that information is entirely up to them.  Since several of the attendees of this talk asked for further suggestions, I decided to put together a list, very abbreviated I admit, of books I would recommend.  Some of them I consider among the best and most important books ever written, and some I simply found to be wonderful and entertaining.

Now, the list:

Doc Chuck’s Recommended Readings
Agee, James and Walker Evans. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

Allende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits.

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451.

Brown, Larry. Fay.

Cervantes, Miguel De. Don Quixote.

Delaney, Frank. Ireland.

Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities.

Doyle, Roddy. A Star Called Henry.

Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose.

Gaiman, Neil. American Gods.

Grass, Günter. The Tin Drum.

Helprin, Mark. A Soldier of the Great War.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Pacific and Other Stories.

Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom The Bell Tolls.

Homer. The Iliad.

. . . . . . . The Odyssey.

King, Stephen. Hearts In Atlantis.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Stand.

Lee, Harper.  To Kill A Mockingbird.

Poe, Edgar Allan.  Complete Works.

Rice, Anne. Interview With the Vampire.

Rowling, J. K. The entire Harry Potter series.

Shakespeare, William. The Collected Works.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein.

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula.

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Lord of the Rings.

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Zafon, Carlos Ruiz. The Shadow of the Wind.

Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief.

I am certain there are many books I have forgotten to mention.  This is neither intended to be all-inclusive, nor is it meant to be authoritarian.  I hope that someone may find a book or books from this list, read them, and enjoy them.

Happy reading!

book-794978_960_720

(https://pixabay.com)

wp-1476386546701-maledicus

 

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview