Special for the Arizona Daily Star
“24 Reasons to Abandon Christianity: Why Christianity’s Perverted Morality Leads to Misery and Death” By Charles Bufe. See Sharp Press. 340 pages. $19.95; Kindle $8.49.
Not to stress this too much, author Charles Bufe is appalled by Christianity. To demonstrate why, he lists what he considers to be the most destructive aspects of Christianity in an articulate summary of evils perpetrated in the name of the Almighty (“probably non-existent”) which range from the burning of witches and the mistreatment from children to misogyny, homophobia, anti-Semitism and environmental degradation.
Based on fear and fueled by coercion and hypocrisy, Bufe says, Christian morality is at best an oxymoron and at worst a vindication of unspeakable cruelty. He cites the works of philosophers, historians, and scientists to support his arguments in this profusely noted and indexed book that includes a multi-page bibliography. The wording of the title was deliberate, he notes, to avoid dictatorial language, because attempting to suppress belief is not as effective as providing information to make an informed choice.
People also read…
Tucsonan Charles Bufe is the author, co-author, translator or compiler/editor of 13 books.
“The end of the war” By Jeff Hartman. Independently published. 363 pages. $16.95; Kindle $5.95.
The ties that bind are at the heart of this deeply moving tale of a family’s breakdown during the cultural and political upheavals of the tumultuous 1960s. The Hamiltons were the epitome of the All-American family until the war changed everything, pitting conflicting ideologies of brother against brother and driving them from their homes, one to Vietnam and the other to Canada. The fateful ramifications of their decisions will tear the family apart for decades until their dying sister intercedes.
Told from the perspective of youngest brother Hamilton, born too late to be more than an observer of the drama and, subsequently, the mediator piecing it all together, this highly readable novel offers a window into a time in American history when the rules were rewritten and the concepts of honor and patriotism diverged. Author Jeff Hartman is a retired educator living in Tucson. This is his second novel.
“Thriving in the Desert: A Novel About Resilience, Courage and Relationships” By Deborah A. Lonergan. Independently published. 270 pages. $15.99; Kindle $5.99.
Preparing for adventure with her newly retired husband of 40 years, Holly finds herself suddenly widowed instead. Is a new start possible? Leaving her friends and family behind, Holly sets off for the aptly named Nirvana, Arizona. Optimistic and at ease in her relationship with “the Divine”, Holly’s path to rediscovering herself is through making new friends – including a rescue dog as sensitive to spiritual energy as she is – and rekindling an old flame, an unforeseen trick the universe had up its sleeve for her.
A second chance at love isn’t the only surprise the universe has in store for us, but Holly is nothing if not open to new experiences in her mystical Sonoran Desert surroundings. Author Deborah A. Lonergan, who describes herself as a spiritual seeker, lives in Tucson. It is his first novel.
“Sowing the Seeds of Change: The Story of the Southern Arizona Community Food Bank” By Seth Schindler. Sentinel Peak books; 152 pages. $19.95; Kindle $9.95.
From humble beginnings in a tiny South Fourth Avenue warehouse in the mid-1970s, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona has grown to become one of America’s most respected, with a budget of $125 million and more than 6 000 volunteers.
Its founders, discouraged by the ineffective food stamp program and the amount of food they saw wasted, pledged to end hunger in Tucson – and the rest is history, told here by Seth Schindler in an engaging, lavishly illustrated chronological account.
The Community Food Bank owes its success in large part to dedicated and enthusiastic staff and volunteers. many of their reminiscences are included, giving the text an upbeat and personal vibe. The charismatic Punch Woods, longtime executive director, is at the heart of the story; his goal of putting himself out of work by making food banks useless was not realized in his lifetime, but, as Schindler shows, his forward-thinking organization is constantly innovating, forging new paths out of poverty.
Don’t confuse this book with a victory lap. Rather, the author’s intention is to demonstrate how communities can win the war against hunger, and he does this admirably. Seth Schindler is an anthropologist and former curator of the Arizona State Museum.
“Walking in the Light” By Eugene Sierras. Trafford Edition. 142 pages. $33.99. Kindle $3.99.
“Everything in Creation,” says author Eugene Sierras, “is connected by the energy of a universal force.” This is a concept that the author has given a lot of thought to. Influenced by catastrophist Immanuel Velikovsky’s 1950 bestseller Worlds in Collision, Sierras suggests that Earth experienced close contact with other planets during ancient times with cataclysmic results that can be inferred from scripture.
Framed as a conversation between two friends – one a Catholic priest, the other a Navy pilot – Sierras offers a complex synthesis of comparative mythology, science and religion as the two friends enjoy an in-depth discussion about nature. of the Kingdom of Heaven. The author chose a graphic novel format to tone down the complexity of his subject matter. A retired Navy ship’s officer and author of several books, Sierras lives in Tucson.
“A Life in Three Acts: My Journey from Wartime Burma to America” By Solomon K. Samuels (SKS Enterprises Inc.). 414 pp., 88 photos and maps. $35 hardcover.
This fascinating memoir is worth the price of admission for its first “act” alone. At a time when literature on World War II in Europe abounds, little is seen of life under Japanese siege in Asia. “A Life in Three Acts” remedies this. Dr. Solomon K. Samuels was born in Burma in 1930, the son of an educated Christian Indian working in the Burmese civil service.
In remarkable detail, Samuels describes the Japanese war and occupation and the disintegration of his family. Samuels’ second and third “acts”—covering his hard-earned medical training, independence and the aftermath of Burma, and his emigration to the United States—demonstrate historical insight and admirable personal discipline and tenacity.
—Christine Wald Hopkins
“Child Bear” By Rick Church (Archway Publishing). 245 pages. Paperback $17.99; $3.99
“Bear Child” is the fifth mystery of Noel Two Horses by Rick Church. A Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican, Two Horses is an ex-cop who runs a private investigation firm from his mystery bookstore in Prescott. The Church of Tucsonan knows his territory, as he himself is a member of the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Nation and a Vietnam veteran with a background in federal and state law enforcement. What you see in this book includes law enforcement territoriality, corruption within the ranks of the police, reservation and border issues, and lack of respect for native people.
The novel opens with three Mexican Cartel guys murdered in Chicago. A couple of crooked detectives from the Chicago Police Department will use the deaths to ensnare “Indian p-head” CPD cop Timothy Bear Child.
Noel Two Horses is called, and as Chicago detectives go after Bear Child, the FBI pursues another related case. No jurisdiction consults another, and when the young assistant of Two Horses is murdered, he is determined to protect Bear Child and nail the killer.
Rick Church keeps the action going and interweaves his dialogue with entertaining, detective, and cross-tribal grit. Enough to make you discover its other mysteries.
—Christine Wald Hopkins
“Holy Sh*t: Life Lessons Learned and Criticism of Religion” By the Rev. John L. Abraham (independently published). 245 pages. $19.95.
John L. Abraham makes no effort in this account of his personal and professional life as an Episcopal priest and his disappointment with organized religion. The retired priest is a thanatologist – a speaker, trainer and consultant specializing in patient healthcare and end-of-life issues. During his 22 years as an active priest, Abraham served 10 congregations. Things didn’t always go well. His participation in student and anti-war protests in the 1960s may not have prepared him for pastoral life in a hierarchical and rigid institution that resists change.
Abraham says he serves churches from DC to Tucson, sometimes getting mixed up in parochial culture or church administration… the most resentful occurring at a certain large Episcopal Church in the foothills of Tucson.
The book of Abraham exposes the hypocrisies of organized religion. He elucidates the commonalities between the world’s religions – including beliefs he has long since abandoned. These are not presented sympathetically. What it does, however, is present a sincere and informed argument for dignity in death. And it provides resources for dealing compassionately with life’s inevitability.
—Christine Wald Hopkins
Helene Woodhams is retired from the Pima County Public Library, where she was Literary Arts Librarian and coordinator of Southwest Books of the Year, the library’s annual literary journal.
Christine Wald-Hopkins, a former educator and occasional essayist, was a long-time book reviewer for national, regional and local newspapers.
IIf you are a Southern Arizona author and would like your book considered for this column, send a copy to: Sara Brown, PO Box 26887, Tucson, AZ, 85726-6887. Give the price and contact name. Books must have been published within the year. Authors may not submit more than one book per calendar year.