On May 10, see the story of J.R.R. Tolkien’s early life, and how it inspired the legendary creation of Middle Earth:
Author Archives: Darrick Dean
Ancient Aliens is one of those infuriating shows to those who have studied ancient history. The premise of the show is that the ancients weren’t smart enough to build structures like the pyramids. So, in one of the most disconnected lines of reasoning ever, they must have had help from aliens.
The fact is, the ancients were smart. They had the same brains we have. The more we learn about them, the more we have realized this.
Because something is difficult to do, doesn’t make it impossible. We are so enamored with our electronic technology, we forget that humans used math and brain power, combined with physical strength, for many millennia.
To listen to some of the “experts” on Ancient Aliens, it’s as if they haven’t been to these sites, or if they have, they had blindfolds on. One of the funniest moments is when one is showing how perfect a block has been carved (supposedly beyond the ability of the ancients), but the camera shows his square revealing the block is far from perfect. That’s only one of many head-scratching moments revealed in this documentary, Ancient Aliens Debunked.
To be certain, there are many mysteries to be solved from ancient times. Much has been lost and every day we learn something new. The ancients left us much to learn in their structures, stories, and myths. Over the years, I have written here about those things, and integrated them into my books. Our ancestors left us history, knowledge, and warnings, to ponder.
From Director Peter Jackson comes the stunning documentary on World War I, They Shall Not Grow Old, using 100-year-old film that has been restored like never before. If you want to know what it’s like to travel back through time, check this out. Trailer:
Here’s a pair of books on four men of the 20th Century that still speak to us today: Churchill and Orwell and A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War. Not one of them was a talking head or armchair expert. Each was a veteran of one or more of the century’s — and mankind’s — worst wars.
Winston Churchill warned there was no appeasing totalitarian governments. Evil regimes only ceased their scourge when facing a people who refused to surrender. Churchill’s prophetic voice was nearly ignored in this, and of what the world was to become in the Cold War. Flaws and all, he reached a level few “leaders” today can approach.
George Orwell experienced in the Spanish Civil War that all totalitarian governments were indistinguishable — whether fascist or communist — in their aims and results. His politics were polar opposite of Churchill’s, but they arrived at the same truths through life, not hypothetical debate. His books Animal Farm and 1984 emerged from those experiences, becoming timeless warnings that wherever power existed, abuse of that power would occur.
After surviving the trenches of World War I, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien became academic scholars. While their contemporaries were writing dismal books on the dark future of humanity, Lewis and Tolkien refused to give in to such defeatism. They eschewed the materialistic and naturalistic philosophies that had brought the world to its knees, and were also being used to paint a future of darkness for humanity. Their fantasy novels were more than fairy tales — they unveiled the hope and the Story that had been gifted to men and women — and that Evil could be crushed.
Out of a dark age came these bright lights. We would be dangerously amiss to snuff them out.
What were you made for? What is your Purpose? Your Story?
Even in your hobbies, has there not always been some secret attraction which the others are curiously ignorant of…? Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling…of that something which you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in the momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for? …All the but hints of it — tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echos that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest — if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself — you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say “Here at last is the thing I was made for.” – C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Unlike many “reality” shows, the History Channel series, The Curse of Oak Island, has a real dose of history behind its premise. If you can bear with the typical reality show style editing and pacing, you will be rewarded with clues to the island’s history. However, as they say, there is much more to the story.
This region of the North Atlantic seems to hold many more secrets beyond what Oak Island may hold. Paul Chiasson writes in The Island of Seven Cities and Written in Ruins of evidence pointing to Chinese visitors to Cape Brenton Island. Mysterious ruins and Chinese words in native languages are among the clues.
Graeme Davis’ Vikings in America attempts to unravel the scope of Viking excursions into the Americas. No one questions they were here, only the extent and impact of their travels.
In Irresistible North, Andrea Di Robilant tracks down the legendary Zeno brothers of Venice. Did they make it to the New World?
And finally, no ancient mysteries would be complete without throwing the Knights Templars into the mix. In Templars in America, Tim Wallace-Murphy and Marilyn Hopkins trace a globe trotting mystery that may have crossed paths with the Zeno brothers and followed the trail first blazed by the Vikings.
So, are you ready for some exploring?
The newest printing of Among the Shadows features the latest version of Dark Snowfall, a Lost Tale in which Milena steps through the veil into a troubling winter encounter. This should also be in the ebook edition soon, so there is no better time to Join the War and Choose a Side.
To our detriment, history is often distilled down to a few sentences in our schools. As writer Nathaniel Philbrick writes in Mayflower, “there is a surprising amount of truth” in our “threadbare story of the First Thanksgiving.” It is what happened before and after that people know so little about.
It is a vivid tale of “courage, community and war,” and out of this little told story, a country was shaped. Philbrick writes:
There are two possible responses to a world suddenly gripped by terror and contention…[one way is] to get mad and get even. But…unbridled arrogance and fear only feed the flames of violence. Then there is the [Benjamin] Church [a frontiersman born in Plymouth] way. Instead of loathing the enemy, try to learn as much as possible form him… try to bring him around to your way of thinking. First and foremost, treat him like a human being…and in this he anticipated the welcoming, transformative beast that eventually became — once the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were in place — the Untied States.
In an age where politicians and their followers knowingly try to divide people only to hold on to power, where some of them believe violence is acceptable, where people think wearing masks and harassing people is antifascist, and others think its nothing to fabricate fake fears and crisis to scare people onto their side, perhaps we should for once look to our own history.
We could learn from their trials and tribulations, far worse than our own. Then with crystal clarity, those who seek to undo what was born out of the good and the bad, will be unmasked and exposed.
What if you could enter someone’s dreams? Inside their dreamworld you would discover their greatest fears. You could use their darkest secrets against them.
This darkness you found now wielded as a weapon to kill.
In Morgan L. Busse‘s Mark of the Raven, Lady Selene has been gifted as a dreamwalker. The eldest daughter in the House of Ravenwood, she has inherited what generations of women in her family before her have also known. All seven Great Houses of the realms have differing giftings, but her mother teaches Selene the purpose of hers.
She is to become an assassin for hire and serve the dark schemes of her mother.
I have read many books where the Light and Darkness face off. Usually the characters are either-or: Either bad, or good. In Raven, we see Lady Selene struggle with what is apparently her fate. She believes she has no choice. It’s not clear, even when faced with the Light, if she will, or can, veer off the path she was born into. Morgan Busse tells Selene’s story of struggle with the depth that will resonate with people in the real world. And that’s what makes fiction like this a powerful force:
Among the fantastic, truth is revealed. Reality in the midst of fantasy.
Not coincidentally, I’m sure, I had just finished Lacey Sturm’s telling of her real-life story in The Reason. Surrounded by the Darkness she nearly gave in, but she to encountered the Light and had to make a choice. Lady Selene’s world may be fiction, but it is a story many find themselves in.
Darkness can feel honest, and honesty can be beautiful and feel so inspiring. But darkness stops short of resolution. It’s deceptive. You can’t see all that lurks within darkness. The things that inhabit darkness live there because you can’t see them; that way they can deceive you, pervert you, and ultimately destroy you from the inside out…The deception is evil in the sense that if we don’t stop it, it will kill us. – Lacey Sturm
Before Lacey Sturm became a platinum-selling musician (the former lead singer and cofounder of Flyleaf), she nearly ended her life. In a time where so many people seem to be adrift, and think they have no way out, here is one woman’s amazing story on finding purpose, on defeating the Darkness. The Reason is a book you’ll finish without putting it down.