Tag Archive | politics

Ghosts of the Past: the Dark Side of Medieval politics

Ghost of the Past Chinese webLast week the Ghosts of the Past debuted in Chinese language edition thanks to the careful work of some of the best translators in all of Beijing.  One measure of feedback I received from my editor was just how dark and sexy the book was.  Given my well deserved scholarly reputation as a historian, Ghosts of the Past and its equally saucy sequel Princess Anyu Returns might seem out of place from the rest of my work.  Out of place until you look deeper into history and explore the treacherous realm of sexual politics that was the experience for most medieval noble and royal women.

Life for women has always been somewhat of a treacherous experience filled with dangers.  With few or no legal rights or protections, women rarely decided for themselves who to have sex with, let alone marry.  Instead the men in their families, their governments, and their religions held almost complete control over their bodies.  Among women of high social status this meant that women’s bodies were tools for gaining wealth, power, and social status by those in position to use them.

Ghosts of the Past cover webThis social and political reality for women underscores the sometimes brutally dark sides to Beinarian society.  Sex and childbearing are tools the villains (both female and male) use at their leisure to impose their will on others, advancing mysterious agendas that only become clear after Princess Anyu Returns from her exile.   These agendas add spice to both Ghosts of the Past and Princess Anyu Returns with twists and turns around every corner.  Villains use sex and violence freely to achieve their goals, predating on the innocent and using every method at their disposal to thwart the heroes and heroines.  They are just as likely to kill as seduce and use offspring created at the expense of their enemies as weapons against them.

It is a dark, dystopic realm where only the bravest dare tread.

Are you brave enough to travel there?

 

Find the Ghosts of the Past in English on Amazon, Barnes/Noble, Smashwords, and iTunes or in Chinese on Amazon, Chinese Amazon, and Douban.

Donald Trump and What “Conservative” Really Means

trump-768x512If you live in the United States you are probably already sick and tired about hearing about the campaign deciding who will be the next president of the United States.  As a matter of fact odds are good you have now heard the name “Trump” even more times than you have heard another name I never want to hear again — KARDASHIAN.  Yes we are over-saturated with reality TV stars — which is exactly what “The Donald” actually is.

Across 2015 we’ve been treated to a renewed and very vocal outcry of white power, anti-immigrant sentiment (let’s include Britain’s UKIP party here).  Trump’s obstinate rudeness in the name of not being “politically correct” has ended all pretenses of civility and human decency as thousands flock to hear and echo his race baiting and misogyny, messages that are designed to put the rest of us in our “proper” place.

Respected journalist Jorge Ramos confronting Trump on his immigration policies on 26 Aug 2015.

Respected journalist Jorge Ramos confronting Trump on his immigration policies on 26 Aug 2015.

Sadly Trump is not alone in his spiteful and scapegoating rhetoric.  As reported this week in The Guardian, other GOP contenders including Ben Carson have joined the racist Trump bandwagon, railing against racial minorities.  Those that have not expressed blazoned racism have joined Trump in their sexist, including many recent remarks by Jeb Bush.  All of this designed to appeal to their conservative vote base.

Which begs the question, “what exactly are they trying to preserve?”

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines conservative as

“Believing in the value of established and traditional practices in politics and society : relating to or supporting political conservatism. of or relating to the conservative party in countries like the United Kingdom and Canada: not liking or accepting changes or new ideas.”

What are these ideas then?  What is Trump trying to take us back to in order to “make America great again?”

June Cleaver on Leave It To Beaver was the ideal 1950s woman.

June Cleaver on Leave It To Beaver was the ideal 1950s woman.

Sadly I think what he wants is to bring America back to the 1950s, a time when women were fired from the jobs they held in support of the war effort of the 1940s in order to return to their “proper” place as wives and mothers.  The 1950s were a time when racial segregation and Jim Crowe was the law and racial mixing, especially in the bedroom, was explicitly forbidden.  It was a time when arbitrary laws denied the “wrong people” (meaning racial minorities) their rights to vote.  The few women who worked outside the home were demeaned and paid pennies on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. University education for women was rare and typically focused on home economics and the skills they would need to be successful wives and mothers.

DonDraperMadMenThe 1950s were a time where white, affluent men literally ruled the western world, where the rest of the society was expected to serve their interests without question and without deviation from their desires.  It was a time of de facto slavery and where failure to serve the white male masters was punished viciously.  It was a time where women and minorities were considered too intellectually inept to make decisions about their own bodies and incapable of being educated past the most remedial of vocational skills.  In nearly all respects except technology, it was a time where Plato, Aristotle, Julius Caesar, and dozens of famous and infamous Roman leaders would have felt perfectly at home.

In many ways it is easy to understand why these conservatives want us to live in the 1950s again.  To be conservative is to resist change, change that works against the interests of the same men who are asking for our consent to become the next American emperor.  They intrude into women’s bodies because women are presumed to be incapable of managing them — we are too stupid, too poorly educated to make good choices for ourselves.  They undermine the voting rights of racial minorities, the poor, and the elderly because such votes express opinions different from theirs — utterly intolerable in their mindset.  They demean and dismiss everyone that is not them because they are living in their 1950s paradise and want to keep it forever. And they genuinely think that we are all too stupid and afraid to speak up for ourselves, that we will continue to tolerate them and obey them.  What are we but their slaves, slaves who do not want to be free?

Therefore I ask you all to join with me in standing together.  Their 1950s conservative paradise is built on the enslavement of 99% of the population. Through extreme wealth inequities they have convinced us to fight each other for crumbs, to become moochers killing each other in zero sum scenarios of their creation — much like gladiators fighting each other for their amusement.  They have convinced us that they are our friends and it’s other people who are different from us that are the problem.

Bernie Sanders

That is a lie, folks, classic divide and conquer.  Because they know that when we stand together, they lose their power.  For centuries they’ve convinced us that everything is “win-lose,” that success only comes at the expense of someone else. Except that success actually comes by taking on a “win-win” mindset — something I learned in my months in the Law of Attraction movement.  Cooperation and teamwork is “win-win.”  The more we cooperate and help each other, the stronger we become and the less power they possess.

I for one will not play their economic and social gladiatorial games anymore.  Who’s with me?

What being “Liberal” means to me.

Being a liberal to me (Democrat for USA and Labour for UK) means I believe in fairness and equality for everyone. After learning a great deal about ancient northern Europeans and ancient British (in the larger sense of the group of islands) in particular as part of the research on my books “Boudicca: Britain’s Queen of the Iceni” and “Mary Queen of the Scots” I really came to appreciate how completely different our ancestors’ cultures were from their conquerors.

Boudicca artist concept chariot

An artist concept of what Boudicca might have looked like.

For example, they didn’t believe the land, let alone living beings could be owned. Leaders were usually on the community level and either directly elected or inherited their authority from their parents — but completely impeachable by the druids if they proved incompetent or unethical. The whole of those ancient societies was built on fairness, empathy, and cooperation. And when you consider how difficult life was, especially in Britain, it only makes sense. They were so incredibly individualistic and while scrappy (think what you see at football matches today), they really didn’t organize armies and go war. Most of the time they brawled it out a little or went to the druids or their appointed/elected leaders to sort it all out. And when someone was hungry, they were taken care of.

In my opinion, THAT IS THE WAY SOCIETY NEEDS TO BE. So for me, being a liberal means doing everything I can to bring back the values and the social structures that our ancestors had 2000 years ago. People tell me it’s impossible — you cannot undo the damage done by Roman conquest. And while I confess on a language level, we really might be stuck with that legacy, I do believe that the rest is our birth right. Because it’s the right thing to do. We need to stop being calloused towards the suffering of others and resolve ourselves to work together again rather than letting the fat cats pit us against each other. You are my friend and ally — not my rival.

Going at it alone: more lessons from Josh Duggar

josh-duggar-reason-for-abuseRecently the Duggar family went on the record in an effort to lay to rest the scandal concerning Josh Duggar’s molestation of his sisters when he was fourteen years old.

In the interview the Duggar parents admit that Josh informed them of his behaviour three times across 2002 and 2003 and that each time the family decided it was best to deal with it from within the family boundaries instead of going outside of it.  When that did not work on the first attempt, they went to their church for help.  On the third time in 2003 they sent Josh to a faith-based camp for help.  But in all three cases it was dealt with entirely from the tiny confines of their close-knit community instead of informing the law and allowing the state to step in.

In 2012 I wrote a report for Yahoo Voices concerning rape and incest within the insular orthodox Jewish communities, a report that was re-posted into this blog before Yahoo dismantled Yahoo Voices.  In that report I called for an end to victim-blaming in religious communities.  Sadly with the Duggars his victims are also defending his behaviour, no doubt partially because the Duggar parents are in denial themselves regarding just how serious sexual violence is.

Until we start treating sexual crimes as serious, until we stop making excuses for those who violate the physical integrity of other people, and until we genuinely punish the perpetrators of these crimes while providing a strong and protective support system for those hurt by them then of course we cannot expect to stem this epidemic of violence and sexual violence.  Even in 2015 we treat rape as “no big deal.”  Women and men both do this, including victims of assault and sexual assault.  We keep making excuses and telling those hurt to shut up and “get over it.”

Now as a healed survivor, I am the first to say that experiencing assault and sexual assault does NOT BREAK YOU.  It doesn’t taint you.  It doesn’t make you less of anything.  In fact it becomes an opportunity for transcendence, to grow into something greater and be a better person — no different than any other form of hardship.  This isn’t lessening the horror of the experience; what I suffered WAS HORRIFYING.  A healthy human being MUST BE HORRIFIED by violence and especially sexual violence.  At the same time, our societies have this habit of not only dismissing survivors when we speak up (been there!), but also treating us as the walking dead.  So we are dismissed first for daring to speak up and second when the wounds heal — as they must heal.

It’s a culture that favours those who rape, beat, and kill and treats those who receive this treatment as surplus population who had better just die off quickly so our societies can pretend there’s not a problem.

Most alarming to me is the matter of the insular community.  Why?  Because I see its danger as someone whose insular community made it easy to continue these acts of violence and to continue dismissing me when I sought help.  Yet, unlike the Duggar girls, I went to adults for help — but they wouldn’t  help because of the insular community.  It was easier to call me “evil sorceress” or “seductress” (right because four year old girls instinctively know how to seduce men 10x their age into sex?) than place that phone call to social services that would have taken me to safety.

The larger problem is therefore not Josh Duggar — a man who doesn’t deserve to have his children grow up with him — but the communities themselves.  We can only help people in need when we go beyond our castle walls and allow the larger secular community to intervene, to enforce laws written to protect children and provide safe home environments for everyone.

Yes, our governments are not perfect; there has never been a truly perfect government.  But when we fail to trust others beyond the boundaries of our small communities we set ourselves up for exactly the epidemic of violence and sexual violence plaguing our societies.  Protecting the community becomes more important than what is right and just for the people being hurt.  This was the case at Penn State and it is the case with the Duggar family.

What is your take on the Josh Duggar matter?  Reply to this post with your comments below and let’s get a serious conversation going!

Character Profile: Princess Anlei

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Series Name:  The Peers of Beinan

Character name: Princess Anlei

Parents names: Queen Isabelle of house Gurun and Lord Knight Bevin of house Ten-Ar

Character’s Date of Birth: BE 6281, beinor 54

Place of Birth (if known): the palace in Hejing in Dongbei on planet Beinan.

Book appearing in: The Great Succession Crisis

Profile:  When we first meet Princess Anlei she is a rebellious adolescent determined to be opposed to everything her family wants and believes in — especially religion.  Through the experience of choosing between politics and love and the very real danger to her life, she grows as a person, finally embracing her birthright and becoming the leader that was always inside of her.

2014 panto ensemble

Kluane Saunders (left in blue) as Fairy Liquid in the 2014/2015 production of Jack in the Beanstalk at the Elgiva Theatre.


Ideal actress to play in a film adaptation:
British actress Kluane Saunders

 

 

Connect with science fiction author Laurel A. Rockefeller on twitter.

Not so innocent: Israel, genocide, and the myth of the “chosen people”

Growing up in Lincoln, Nebraska and attending Temple Baptist Church, I grew up with the same beliefs that many Evangelical Christians hold towards Israel:  Israel is the promised land of the descendants of Abraham.  When I read in the books of Joshua and Judges about the legendary conquest of Palestine by the Hebrews after their 40 years wandering in the wilderness, no one seemed to even notice that these military campaigns of conquest amounted to GENOCIDE where civilians, including and especially women and children, were put to the sword so the Hebrews could come in and take their land.  This was GOD’S WILL and therefore it was okay.  If God wants it, the killing is moral and just, right?

In my 20 years in the Church, no one ever questioned this doctrine.  No one ever said “hey, wait, these are war crimes.”  Instead since it was divinely mandated, it must be right — and historically true, of course.

This sentiment is echoed in temples, both reform and orthodox, especially at Hanukkah and Passover.  Israel belongs to the Jews as a right forged in an ancient covenant with God.  Jews are the Chosen People.

Being the “Chosen People” of God carries a lot of weight.  Being chosen means you are granted a measure of special grace from God, the right to do certain things without consequences.  You can kill as you please because God wants you to.

Now before anyone gets in a huff and calls me anti-Jewish, let me be very clear:  I love Jewish culture, food, tradition, and especially my many Jewish friends and acquaintances.  I lived for over four years in a orthodox Jewish neighbourhood in Brooklyn, New York as not only a gentile, but one of the Old Religion of Britain and Ireland who strives to honour and embrace the British-Irish part of my heritage in my day-t0-day life.

As a historian who often favours being the outsider because of the objectivity this offers me for learning and study, I was able to listen, learn, and observe without the social-psychological chains that often blurs most people’s perspective.  I have no agenda except discovering the truth.  This is why my writing is so powerful and my books are to be believed.  I’m not a slick politician or sales person trying to sell something to you; just an honest researcher looking for truth.

The Bible of course covers ancient history — legendary or literal is a matter of debate.  Yet in Christian churches and in many Jewish congregations as well this doctrine that Israel is the God-given promised land of the Hebrews/Jews persists.

This Zionist idea that Israel rightfully belongs to Jews transcends denominational differences and enters the realm of politics.  Israel has certain rights to behave in whatever is perceived as its own interests.  To gainsay Israel’s decisions is to be anti-Jewish.  I am here to say that nothing could be further from the truth.

Last week I found the above video in a facebook feed exploring the modern state of Israel’s history.  In it and you discover that Israel is hardly this innocent and moral God-blessed nation who can do no wrong.  Far from it.  Objectively speaking, the Israelis are guilty of genocide and war crimes such as the West typically condemns when done by any other nation — except Israel.

Indeed anyone from any country who even remotely questions what Israel does is quickly labelled as anti-Jewish, especially politicians.  It would seem that to be pro-Jewish means not noticing Israel’s faults — or its war crimes.

 

I stand here asking you to now question that dogma.  Take a step back towards objectivity. When Iraqis do this to its peoples, when Syrians do this in its civil war, when Russia treats a minority group this way, DO WE NOT CALL THEM WAR CRIMES and CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY?

 

Perhaps it is time to abolish this whole “chosen people” propaganda and instead look at all human beings as humans.  No one is expendable.  Life is life!  Every single human in this world deserves a decent and safe home, clean and nourishing food and water, the best possible education, decent clothing, safety from harm, and the chance to live a satisfying life.  Anyone who steals any of these things from anyone else needs to be sanctioned and dealt with.  Everyone has the right to live.  Everyone.

From Martin Luther’s Sola Scriptura to Modern Biblical Literalism

May 17th, 2012

Politicians swear by it. Conservative Christians insist upon it. It has fueled debates on evolution verses creationism in public schools, civil rights legislation (everything from slavery to racial equality to gay marriage and beyond), and shaped archaeological expeditions to the Middle East. It is Biblical Literalism, the belief that the Bible is the literal and infallible “word of God” that must be read and interpreted as absolutely and literally true-down to every single word.

Biblical literalism is not confined to Christianity. It is also a common position in both Islam and Judaism, both of whom also use, to one extent or another, Biblical texts as part of their theologies. In 2011, Stephen Tomkins of the UK’s “The Guardian” tackled the question of how and why Biblical literalism is so prevalent in our culture in his article “How Biblical Literalism Took Root,” explaining the roots of the Biblical Literalist movement with the Protestant Reformation and its anti-papist viewpoint.

In 1521 Martin Luther was called upon to answer for his previous writings against papal abuses of power at the Diet of Worms, “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me.” (http://www.luther.de/en/worms.html) This doctrine of Sola Scriptura (only the Bible), does not actually dictate how the Bible is to be read, interpreted, and applied; it only dictates that the Bible alone is authoritative. Contrary to later Protestant tradition, Luther’s position was that scripture plus reason-not the rulings of the church-should guide a Christian’s life. This focus on reason precludes a truly literal reading of the Bible, particularly as science and technology revises earlier understandings of Nature.

In the centuries after Luther, the Bible came to be perceived as so infallible that every word can and should be taken literally. Modern Biblical literalism was born!

Yet perhaps the modern version is not as productive as we all thought. Perhaps it is time to return to Luther’s intended sola scriptura-scripture alone (as opposed to focusing on outside interpreters)-but viewed through the lens of reason-not blind literalism.