Bill Etem. Ex-Math teacher, ex-truck driver, ex-office worker, ex-lot of things. Ex-Football Coach at Notre Dame - the High School in Los Angeles not the University in South Bend, IN. B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Minnesota. I'm living in the Minneapolis - St. Paul area, which is an urban version of Siberia. Before Minneapolis I was in Mexico for 20 months, before that I was in LA for three years. I've traveled all round France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Austria, Switzerland... Canada...most of the 50 states in of the USA. I've lived in Colorado etc., etc. As for living for 20 months in Mexico, it was mostly in Oaxaca. That's a good place to lie low for awhile, at least until the heat is off. Speaking of heat, you'll sweat all day and all night in places like Vera Cruz and Acapulco, but Oaxaca is high up in the mountains, and cool fresh breezes blow in from the Sierra and keep you comfortable.y writing sofar has only earned me a stack of rejection letters. I spend most of my time trying to improve my writing - trying to make it less amateurish and more professional - so we'll see what results from all that work.
Authonomy gives you space for 225 words to pitch your book but I probably need at least 1,000 words to pitch `Constitutional History of the Western World'. This book will appeal to those who take the New Testament seriously, to those who believe it is literal truth. My theme is basically the same as the theme of Michaelangelo's `Last Judgment', which in some sense is a synopsis of the New Testament crammed into a painting - there's a portrayal of Christ on the cross at the bottom of the painting but the theme of heaven and hell, salvation and damnation predominates. Where does one begin a paraphrase of the Western civilization? It makes no sense to begin with Magna Carta, or the rise of parliamentary government, trial by ordeal, trial by jury, writs of habeus corpus, judicial procedures involving torture and cruel executions. When one must deal with centuries of struggle between Church and State, one must first arrive at a sound assessment of Christianity. The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century was basically an argument between Catholics and ex-Catholics, an argument about whether the Roman Catholic Church is the True Church, the Church founded by Christ on a rock, the Church which leads souls to heaven, or whether it is a false church which leads souls to perdition. To understand the Protestant Reformation one has to arrive at some right answers to some simple questions. Is there a True Church? Is there a True Faith? Is Rome the True Church? Did Rome fall away from the True Faith? So much depends on finding the right answers to these questions! Sometimes there's just no substitute for being right. The concept that there is one True Church is derived from Christ's words in John 14. 23-26 (those people who love Jesus keep His words) and from the words Jesus spoke in Matthew 16. 13-19 (Jesus said here that He was founding His Church on a rock) - and we call this Church founded on a rock the `True Church'. Recall that Christ stated in Matthew 26. 28: `This cup is My blood of the new covenant which is shed for many.' The first mention of a new covenant in the Bible, a New Law to amend / replace the Mosaic Law, is given in Jeremiah 31. 31-34. Is the Church of Rome the True Church? Should one embrace Rome or should one reject her? One might be able to prove to Roman Catholics that indulgence peddling is wrong and that the Inquisition was evil, but the 2 billion Roman Catholics in the world seem to concur with Erasmus: they will stick with Rome until they see a better church. And they haven't yet seen a better church. Does it make any sense to proclaim that that Rome is the True Church, the Church which Christ founded upon a rock, and then proceed to rebel against Rome? That sounds patently insane, but this is exactly what Cafeteria Catholics do. And probably 95% of the 2 billion Roman Catholics in the world are Cafeteria Catholics - people who say Rome is the True Church but who also rebel against Rome. The second part of my book is largely devoted to the theme that if one actually had the Divine Law, the new law mentioned in Jeremiah 31. 31-34 written on one's heart, then one would not be a fan of evil or idiotic laws and government policies. In modern democracies we get our laws via compromise, often by compromising with evil or idiocy. That is, Congressman X, wanting to get his legislation passed, must compromise his integrity by supporting the worthless legislation authored by Congressmen Y and Z, so that they in turn will reciprocate and will help X get his valuable bill enacted. In any event, if one is a fan of evil or idiotic laws, then it doesn't seem very likely that one could have the Divine Law mentioned in Jeremiah 31. 31-34 written on one's heart. The New Testament doesn't offer much hope for salvation to people who are divorced from the new law, i.e., the new covenant, i.e, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
If `Constitutional History of the Western World' is not your cup of tea, if you just can't stand all of the excitement radiating from its pages, or if you're just looking for something else, perhaps something in the genre of adventure fiction, then you might try `Amanda's War'. This novel is not didactic in any way, though there's a connection between it and my non-fiction via I Samuel 15. 23 `rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft' because `Amanda's War' deals with the theme of witchcraft, and `Constitutional History of the Western World' deals with religion and rebellion.
John Buchan's autobiography `Memory-Hold-the-Door' is a very great book. John Le Carre, in works such as `The Looking Glass War', `Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' and `Smiley's People' established himself as world's greatest writer of espionage novels. Buchan, a romatic novelist among other things, though far more sophisticated than Rider Haggard, is not in Le Carre's class in terms of artistry in the espionage novel genre. Nevertheless there is so much in Buchan that is pure genius. The first half of `Huntingtower' was drawn by a virtuoso. There are parts of `Greenmantle', `Mr. Standfast', `The 39 Steps' and many other novels from Buchan which could only have been written by an author with the greatest gifts. `The House of the Four Winds' is not one of Buchan's best novels, and yet there is so much in it which is charming. Buchan is more or less unknown in the USA. This is not because he was a puritanical writer. There's no sex, profanity or obscenity in Robert Louis Stevenson's or Tolkien's works either and yet everyone in the USA has heard of Stevenson and Tolkien. Another Brit who excelled in the espionage novel genre, and yet who is unknown in the USA, was Erskine Childrers. I don't believe `The Riddle of the Sands' was ever made into a film. Someone like Hitchcock or Truffaut could have easily turned that book into a cinematic masterpiece.
In political writing - I used to subscribe to `National Review' and to `The Nation' - there's so much which is first-rate, and yet, despite all this expert analysis from the Left and Right, the USA is really stuck in the mud. The conflict between the bohemians who can see that war (Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan etc.) is wretched and must be avoided, but who are unpersuasive when they try to persuade the middle-class Americans of this, because the middle-class has always found flea-bitten, long-haired, profanity- spouting bohemians to be unpersuasive - is a conflicte which Buchan described in `Mr. Standfast' i.e., described before 1920. Our tax code is wretched, and so much political debate revolves round the fact that it is wretched, and yet we're stuck in the mud - we're powerless to control spending and the growth of government, powerless to write a sane and equitable tax code. Any simpleton might conclude that a collapse is inevitable under such conditions. The Left has far better comedians than the Right. But the Right has had far more interesting political personalities than the Left. What are Jesse Jackson and Bill or Hilary Clinton compared to the genius of William F. Buckley Jr? Who on the Left has half of the fearless courage that Michael Savage and Ann Coulter have? But Right-Wing talk radio has becoming unlistenable. Who can listen to people droning on about the wretched tax code and our prodigal spending? Everyone knows the tax code is a joke. Everyone with any sense knows the USA is a bankrupt, dollar-printing nation. But cogent Radio requires something other than ranting about the obvious for year after year.
I'll have to make a list sometime of my 100 Favorite authors, I suppose it would be filled mostly with dead white guys. W. E. B. Du Bois and Jane Austen are good but they're not in the top 100. The list is terribly subjective: I like reading Laura Ingalls Wilder and Ann Coulter, Helen MacInnes and Barbara Tuchman more than I like reading Shakespeare, and Aristotle, so that means they're higher on the list than those dead white guys. I've tried repeatedly to read Plutarch's `Lives' but I just can't get into it, whereas I really like Herodotus and Eusebius. Eusebius gives one a great extract from Josephus re the Roman conquest of Jerusalem and the supernatural phenomena visiting that conquest. The speeches in Thucydides are fun to read though the narrative requires a good deal of sustained concentration. There are lots of names from the past: I once liked reading Alistair MacLean and Alexander Dumas. I liked that romantic tension between those estranged lovers - Mercedes and Edmond - in `The Count of Monte Christo.' Twain's `Life on the Mississippi' is my favorite from him. Never gave Melville's `Moby Dick' much attention. I read lots of John Burroughs' books on nature and really liked them. I'm said to be related to him, i think he was adopted by one of my great-great-great grandmothers but I haven't been able to confirm this. I liked parts of `Democracy in America.' Don't recall ever being enraptured by Hemingway or Fitzgerald. Can't see any greatness in `The Great Gatsby.' Never read Raymond Chandler or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle though I've seen tons of movies based on their books. I read Norman Douglas' `South Wind,' which is pretty good. Really liked the part about the love-lorn Amy Wilberforce walking naked round Nepenthe at 4:00 o'clock in the morning. Loved Erskine Childers' `The Riddle of the Sands.' Been through Joyce, Proust, Pound, Eliot, Steinbeck, Mailer, Bellow, Hart Crane, Robert Penn Warren, Guillaume Apollinaire, Malarme, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Hugo, Goethe, Stendhal, Ibsen (I was terribly impressed with the pathos of `The Wild Duck'. It's about a girl who kills herself because she thinks her father doesn't love her - it really chokes you up), Shaw, Thackery, Flaubert, De Maupassant, Thomas Wolf, Gabriel Garcia Marquez etc. Among modern authors who deal in exalted rhetoric, I always liked Malcolm Lowry's `Under the Volcano' a million times more than, say, Joyce's `Ulysses'. Kelley's translation of Michelet's `Picture of France' is perhaps the foremost example of exalted rhetoric in English. Loved Winnie the Pooh and Peter Rabbit rapturously. Read lots of fun books about espionage during the Cold War and WWII: `A Man Called Intrepid,' `The Quiet Canadian,' Cynthia,' `The Double-Cross System' etc. Of literary critics I've read some of John Crowe Ransom and Edmund Wilson, none of Sainte Beuvre, some of Dr. Johnson, De Quincy, Jose Luis Borges, Cleanth Brooks, John Berryman, Robet Tate, Robert Penn Warren, John Updike etc., etc. Don't recall learning anything important from them. Pretty much a waste of time reading those guys! Been through the Elizabethans: Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson etc. I can take a little Shakespeare, but for the most part I would rather read Erle Stanley Gardner. Read lots of Zane Gray's books. `Riders of the Purple Sage' might be his worst. Of authors of Histories of the Jews I've skimmed over some, and have carefully read others, e.g., Grayzel, Sachar, Eban and Paul Johnson. On the USSR, I loved Solzenitsen's and Robert Conquest's books - they don't whitewash any Commie villainy. With novelists, loved some of Dickens. I got tired of those corny songs in Tolkien but I admire his descriptions of nature. Loved most of: Dostoevski, Tolstoi, Kafka, Jack London and Thomas Mann. In the Preface to `The Magic Mountain' Mann asks his readers to read his book twice. Sure. Why not? Everyone has tons of free-time. I read the romantic parts involving Hans and Claudia twice but skimmed over the rest. Skimmed over Graetz, Grote, Gregorovius, Guizot, The Encyclopedia Britannica, The Encyclopedia Judaica, Baron, Bury, Buckle etc. I liked Burckhardt, Symonds, Michelet and Sismondi - These are the best modern authors dealing with the Renaissance. I've read Machiavelli but not Villani, De Valla, Guiccardinni, Muratori, De Tillemont etc. Skimmed over Gibbon's `Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' twice and read it carefully once. `Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' is certainly required reading. I really like Milman's `History of Latin Christianity', which covers the History of Popes down to Nicholas V. in about 1 million words. Never read either the Babylonian Talmud, or for that matter the more esoteric Jerusalem Talmud. I don't like that part where the Talmud has Jesus burning in hell, though I'm sure I could learn a few things about the Torah if I did read the Talmud. Still, Ezekiel xx. 25 and Jeremiah xxxi. 31-34 say what they say. Been all through The Koran. Can't say I agree with those verses which say all who reject Allah and Islam will burn in hell. Actually I disagree with just about everything in The Koran. Not a big fan of Jihad. I suppose religious books have to paint in bold colors: who wants to read blase reports when the subject is the beauty of paradise? who wants luke-warm accounts of the infernal regions? The Mathematics books I really like are the Schaum's Outlines - `Vector Analysis', `Differential Equations' `Probability and Statistics', Tensor Calculus' `Advanced Calculus', `Partial Differential Equations' etc., etc. You can learn a lot of math without having to think too hard by reading these. I like to collect books on math, physics, history, literature etc., though I had to sell quite a few books recently to raise some cash. Folio Society books hold their value real well. I shelled out $400 and bought Michelet's 19 volume `Histoire de France' and spent 10 years trying to learn French, and i still can't read it very fluently. I love French directors like Melville, Truffaut, Rohmer etc., but i just don't have the willpower to learn to speak their language, whereas i do have the will power to study math and physics. Can't remember every book on Christian apologetics that I read and admired. Gleason Archer's `Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties' is great. Lee Strobel's `The Case for Christ' and Josh McDowell's `Evidence which Demands a Verdict' are good, as is Alexander Keith's `Christian Evidences: Fulfilled Bible Prophecies.' Sir Robert Andersen and Grant R. Jeffrey wrote some good books on end time prophecy. Sid Roth is always good to read. `Plain Reasons Against Joining the Church of Rome' by Dr. Littledale and `Answers to Catholic Claims' by James R. White are two short works which help Protestants understand why they are Protestants. The classical anti-Catholic authors that I like best are Gibbon, J. Michelet, W. E. H. Lecky, J. A. Symonds, G. G. Coulton and H. C. Lea. Never read Voltaire, aside from `Candide'. I've never actually read anything from Jack Chick, though everyone says he is the author to read if you're short on time and want to read concise tracts which attack the Roman Catholic Church. Of modern Roman Catholics who are distinguished for both Readability and Scholarship - though I suppose they are all Cafeteria Catholics - Lord Acton, William F. Buckley Jr. and Paul Johnson are three authors I enjoyed reading. I expend about 100,000 words in `Constitutional History of the Western World' repeating why Cafeteria Catholicism is madness, insanity, delusional, doomed to fai. `The Brothers Karamazov' was the first long work of serious fiction that I ever read. I was 17. Tried to read Aquinas but didn't get too far. Read an abridged edition of Augustine's `City of God'. I liked Boswell's `Life of Johnson' and really loved Whittacker Chambers' autobiography: `Witness.' Of authors of travel books I especially like Twain, Stevenson and Steinbeck. Fermor is good in parts but he ruins his books by being so didactic, with all his pedantic etymological ramblings. There are lots of great books in the genre of Mountain Climbing Adventures which I enjoyed: Maurice Herzog's 'Annapurna', Hermann Buhl's 'Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage: The Lonely Challenge,' Archdeacon Stuck's `The Ascent of Denali,' Leonard Wibberly's `The Epics of Everest,' and no end of other books about K2, Kangchenjunga, Dhauligiri, Chogolisa, Gasherbrum IV, Masherbrum, the Eiger, the Matterhorn etc. Isn't it fascinating how people like Mallory and Irvine battled the titanic forces of nature? They might die by suffocation under an avalanche, or fall off a mountain and die bouncing off the rocks until they hit the glacier at terminal velocity, or die in some other colorful or adventurous way, but at least you knew they were living life to its fullest when they were living. Take those people who climb Mt. McKinely in midwinter, when the mercury falls to minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Tell me they are not living life to it's fullest! Still you hate to read about young mothers who die climbing mountains, like Alison Hargreaves, who perished on K2. She left some small children motherless. I grant you it doesn't sound at all sane or right for mothers (or for fathers of young children, like George Mallory) to climb dangerous mountains. In Time-Life`s `The Mountains' I always liked that photo of Dore's famous painting of the tragedy on the Matterhorn involving Whymper, Croz, Hudson, Haddow, the Taugwalders etc. Well listen to me babble on and on about books. `Mountain Men' is a great book, loved the exposition on Fritz Weissner and the attempts on K2. Commodore Ellsberg's `Hell on Ice' succeeds wonderfully with this theme of Heroic Man v. Indomitable Nature. It's about a courageous but incompetent 19th century Naval Commander named George Washington De Long who thought he could pilot a boat to the North Pole; in his attempt to do so he led his band of naive adventurers to miserable deaths in the brutal, unforgiving Arctic.
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