Wednesday, July 14, 2010

There is no God, says the Bible.

"There is no God," says the Bible. It's right there, plain and simple, for everyone to see. Psalm 14:1. Think I'm kidding? Check it out for yourself. Don't worry about which version of the Bible you're using; they all say pretty much the same thing.

There is no God.

Oh, yeah, I forgot about the first part of that verse. You see, in its entirety Psalm 14:1 says, "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God'."

The point of this has to do with what I call "hijacking" of religious texts to prove a point. I did it just now. I lifted a phrase out of context and made a misleading statement to illustrate my point.

Hijacking is nothing new, and it usually has much more serious consequences. For centuries, men have been hijacking verses to keep women quiet and exert control over every aspect of their lives (naturally, while ignoring those verses that praise their multi-task skills, initiative, and leadership abilities). Still other verses have been hijacked to prevent people from drinking alcohol, to justify slavery, conduct inquisitions, shun outsiders, and declare "holy wars" (what an oxymoron that is!).

No wonder so many people hate religion. How many wars have been fought in the name of religion? How many of us have had religion rammed down our throats? And yet how many good deeds have also been done: wells dug, people clothed and fed, houses built, hospitals built, lives saved. In other words -- faith in action. If religious zealots actually served God with something other than rhetoric, they would be building hospitals, not blowing them up. Feeding people instead of starving them.

Actions do, indeed, speak louder than words. But actions based on the whole truth, not isolated fragments.

There is a difference between passion and extremism, and the dynamics of both continue to fascinate me. Take the opening paragraph of Chapter 12 from my geopolitical thriller, The Identity Factor: "There are cities, there are great cities, and there is Jerusalem. Able to make small men feel great and great men feel small, Jerusalem is forever a passion to those who believe, a marvel to those who do not."

There is nobility in passion. But there is a line -- a precipice, if you will -- between passion and extremism ... when individualism turns malignant. And hijackers are masters at finding just the right verses to justify their malignancy. Thankfully, there are those passionate enough about protecting our common humanity to take a stand against oppression and brutality.

And not all of them are in novels.

In my case, some of them are, which is why I've invited you here. This blog will be about life as seen and experienced by a writer ... this writer.

It's about "the road between the lines," which was inspired by the book of Genesis, where one verse described Abraham being in one location, with the next verse describing him hundreds of miles away. So I asked myself one day: I wonder what happened on the actual road he traveled between those lines I just read. What took less than a minute for me must have taken weeks for Abraham. What were his days like? What did they talk about? What did they joke about? Did they get argue? Did they belch (and did everyone laugh then, as we do now when that happens)? What was the "road" for Abraham really like?

There is, of course, no way to tell apart from the historical and religious documents we have been given.

But I hope to give you some insight into
my road between the lines. This is a work in progress, just as I am a work in progress, so I hope you will leave comments, which will help guide me along this road.

I look forward to hearing from you.

James Houston Turner writes thrillers from his home in Adelaide, South Australia. You may visit him at