Flying a Kite - related books
So where does Flying a Kite lie in the landscape of entertaining novels which explore aspects of religion and God? One reviewer mentions The Shack, by William Paul Young, and another Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. The Da Vinci Code, also by Dan Brown, also has some connection, and is even mentioned in this novel. So these works are included. I discovered The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield after writing Flying a Kite, and I include that here because there are some connections. In his novella, The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis describes a strange visit to heaven by his characters. Flying a Kite also includes a visit to heaven by its protagonist. I also mention a non-fiction work called The Language of God by the scientist Francis Collins: because it is related and even mentioned within my novel. Finally I mention some novelists who, like me, focus on character as well and plot.
In these troubled times, many people would like to better understand what we tend to call 'the meaning of life'. Flying a Kite is an easily accessible way to set out on this quest: most assuredly: the ultimate quest. All the following books are concerned, in some way, with this quest.
The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, by Dan Brown
Dan Brown likes to base books on conspiracy theories concerning the Christian religion and, in particular, the Catholic faith. Why? It grabs attention, and that leads to bestsellers. His general theme is that faith hangs by a thread which could be easily broken by revelations that could be made... particularly as part of novels such as The Da Vinci Code.
Significantly - for me - it wrongly proposes Jesus did not die on the cross and that he married and had a child or children, and that this created a royal bloodline. In fact, at the conclusion of The Da Vinci Code, we learn its fictional character, Sophie Neveu, is a descendant of the union between Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. It suggests there has been a great conspiracy in the Catholic Church to suppress matters such as the involvement of Jesus with Mary Magdalene. So millions of copies of this book, not to mention the film, spread serious misinformation! Many homes have this novel on their bookshelf where the do not even have a Holy Bible, and if they are strangers to God and faith, this information within the novel may be assumed to be true. In fact Dan Brown tries to convince his readers it is true.
Read the Bible for the truth. Firstly, Jesus was quite unlike any other human being. He was born of virgin birth (due to the intervention of the Holy Spirit), he was crucified, died and was buried. While on the cross a soldier pierced his side. Before all this happened he predicted he would rise from death in three days, and that is exactly what happened. The tomb where he was placed was soon found to be empty. His resurrected form was seen several time by his disciples (followers) and many others saw him. When resurrected, his disciples saw the wounds in his hands and side, where a soldier pierced him. Yet he was of solid form, not like a ghost. He cooked and ate a meal of fish alongside his disciples. Finally he disappeared (ascended to heaven). Read the final chapters of the four gospels (Matthew 27-28, Mark 15-16, Luke 23-24, and John 19-21) in the New Testament of the Bible to see four different accounts of all this to piece together the full story. The links here will open these chapters online. Note that Matthew 28:11-15 tells how the chief priests bribed the soldiers guarding the tomb when they heard it was now empty. They paid them to say the disciples stole the body during the night because an empty tomb would lead to talk about a resurrection. But there was talk of it, of course, because of all the people who subsequently saw the risen form of Jesus. The ways Jesus differed from other human beings tells us how special he was: virgin birth, performer of miracles, resurrected after death. A fellow worth believing, I would say!
To say Jesus did not die on the cross makes a mockery of Christianity. The plain fact of the matter is that it was because Jesus did die - and was then resurrected - that his disciplies and followers truly believed his unique message from God. Because of that they were prepared to die in order to further this message. They often did die as a result, at the hand of Romans. If Jesus had really survived he would have been a con-man, and no one would be willing to die to spread his message. Bear in mind that over half the world's population believes in a single God, and Christianity is the biggest religion of all. (Check this out here.)
One of the reasons I wrote Flying a Kite was because of this false information presented in a novel... and in other subsequent similar novels by a number of authors on the same theme. The truth is there in the Bible, but most people find novels far more accessible these days, hence misinformation. One of my solutions was to write a similarly easily accessible novel which puts those matters to right. Please help me place copies of that on many bookshelves to reveal the truth!
One kind endorser of my novel says this, while mentioning Dan Brown:
This points out the fact that while my novel is about fictional characters, their quest is to find the truth about God, Jesus and faith (and relate it to a logical belief which takes into account modern scientific understanding).
Whereas Dan Brown demands the reader accepts certain misleading fiction as 'Fact', as announced prior to Chapter 1 (with particular regard to the Priory of Sion), Flying a Kite actually contains embedded references to End Notes which lead on to information supporting all the ideas and evidence mentioned within the novel. This website contains a copy of those End Notes in order to provide links to supporting information. So I offer you the means to follow-up and assess for yourself... or merely read the book as fiction: hopefully as enjoyable entertainment - albeit one that should most definitely make you think!
As the Wikipedia account of the Priory of Sion informs (my underlines):
Similarly, Brown's accounts regarding Da Vinci's painting of The Last Supper as revealing the closeness of Jesus to Mary Magdalene is a ruse. Even if it were true, how come Da Vinci was better informed than the biblical authors?
Dan Brown set out to write a best-seller, and controversy was his vehicle
to success. So just remember it is total fiction.
The Shack, by William Paul Young
Flying a A Kite endorser Gillian McDade says: 'Like The Shack, there is a niche for this kind of book.' So is it like The Shack? Well, it is like The Shack in-as-much as it presents the readers with information which helps them get a handle on the three forms of God recognized in the Christian religion, which it calls The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In Wikipedia, it explains that The Shack depicts these forms as 'an African American woman who calls herself Elousia and Papa, Jesus Christ is a Middle-Eastern carpenter, and the Holy Spirit physically manifests himself as an Asian woman named Sarayu.' This boils down to a black female cook, a carpenter (fair enough, Jesus was), and a whispy character for the Holy Spirit. Some Christians struggle with these images. I think it author, William P. Young, wanted readers to come up with their own images for the Trinity by deviating from stereotypes but, in so doing, does he also mislead potential Christians in their imagery?
Flying a Kite is like The Shack in that it attempts to convince the reader there is an utterly good God behind everything. So far as The Trinity is concerned, however, it clearly states it is not at odds with Christian thinking, but it tries to solidify it a little by saying God is pure consciousness, that he presents himself in physical forms (as confirmed in the Old Testament) and as Jesus (the 'Son') in the New Testament; and it tries to explain the fluid form of God as the Holy Spirit, whereby God's will can become manifest in our individual consciousness. It goes further by suggesting God represents total consciousness and that we, and all of creation, are merely part of that; that the 'Big Bang' happened when the thought of our world came into God's consciousness.
Flying a Kite is unlike The Shack in that its only direct representation of God is one where the protagonist finds himself in heaven talking with God. The words expressed here by God might be an authorial invention, but I attempt to make them adhere to good Christian principles. My page The Novel and Christianity goes into this matter further. The intention is never to suggest the Bible is ever wrong - although I do suggest we might reconsider our interpretation here and there, given a more informed view of the universe than the readers for whom the Bible was originally aimed at.
The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
Wikipedia helpfully includes an overview of The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield to save me going into too much detail. As it says: 'The main character of the novel undertakes a journey to find and understand a series of nine spiritual insights on an ancient manuscript in Peru.' Now while the word 'God' is not exactly prominent in the novel, the underlying principles are very 'Godly' and, I am quite certain, so is its author. A bit like a Dan Brown novel, a quest for knowledge is involved (as, indeed, is the case in Flying a Kite.) In the 'Celestine' case the quest is for true spiritual knowledge - or secrets. As a long-lived bestseller, the novel gets at the root of the human need to seek out such discernment - and that is exactly what Flying a Kite is also about. So I would say that The Celestine Prophecy is perhaps the nearest novel to Flying a Kite that I know about - and so it should appeal to readers of the former. Whereas Redfield's book is ever immersed in the quest, sometimes at the expense of all else, I do try to deliver my message in a more readily digestible form by way of plot, characters and entertainment.
The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis
Characters within The Great Divorce, by C. S. Lewis, take a bus ride (sic) to heaven, but seem to prefer their dull existence in what me might take to be purgatory. Flying a Kite depicts heaven as a rather more attractive destination - and its author does not believe in purgatory! The similarity is the use of the novel in getting its readers to think about life afte death.
Lewis was originally a skeptic, but he later became a believer and Christian apologist: as, indeed, I would say I am. Lewis has been called 'The Apostle to the Skeptics', and he became very interested in presenting a reasonable case for Christianity. This may be defined as a branch of Christian theology which aims to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defending the faith against objections. That is what my Christian-based works attempt to do. But while I grudgingly admit to this 'label', I do no readily admit to labels at all since their all-embracing nature tends to infer beliefs which may not be true when it comes to finer detail. Rather than brand myself with anything other than 'Christian', I would refer you to the final conclusions of my protagonist, Bruce, in my novel Flying a Kite, and to my non-ficiton work Reality Check: Science Meets Religion, in order to define what I truly believe.
The Language of God by Francis Collins
Unlike the earlier books mentioned, The Language of God: a Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, is not a novel, but it is mentioned here because it is a 'related' book. This is a readable, non-fiction work written by the scientist responsible for cracking the human genome code. In it he explains his journey from atheism to faith, and how he believes this relates to science. His basis for faith is very much in line with the message that lies within Flying a Kite. Given Francis Collins standing, this is very reassuring. I would highly recommend this book: so much so that my characters even mention it! Not many scientists take the risk of admitting to faith, so I really admire him for this work.
So much for the subject matter, but what about style? My favourite authors tend to be ones who generate real characters, and that, I believe, is the secret behind memorable fiction. So that's what I also try to do - but not at the expense of plot: I do like every scene to move the plot along. I love the way Peter Carey and John Irving get us involved with their characters, and the way Carey creates such wickedly difficult situations for them; I try to learn from him on that. (Has anyone else noticed how similar these two authors are?) I also love the way Marina Lewyka creates such amusing situations through the involvement of her characters, one with another, something I also try to achieve. It is hard for Lewyka to better her debut novel A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian in this respect.
In a novel with a serious foundation, like Flying a Kite, I feel humour goes a long way towards balancing out 'seriousity'. Yes, authors are allowed to invent words! (An article on this website considers where I lie in the literature landscape, and it could also help you to find new authors. Click here to read it.)
The Christian basis of Flying a Kite
Click here for more information about the Christian aspects of Flying a Kite.
"Characters are direct and effective. I enjoyed the pace which allows the reader to think about the important concepts by himself." (Heikki Hietala, author of Tulagi Hotel)
"Fluent, graphic writing and excellent use of description... Characters alive with captivating dialogue." (Elijah Iwuji, author of Praying in the Will of God)
"I love the characters. Ada is superbly done." (Anne Lyken-Garner, author of Sunday's Child)
"Up there with some of the best published work around." (Walter Robson, author of Access to History: Medieval Britain)
"Very good, and addresses a universal question in a much better way than Dan Brown in Angels and Demons, where the God vs science debate is just another sub-plot in yet another ciphering book. In Flying a Kite it's the main plot thread, convincingly dealt with and riveting." (Richard Pierce, author of Dead Men)
"Fluid, smooth and flows at a lovely pace. Really engaging from the start. Like The Shack, there is a niche for this kind of book." (Gillian McDade, author of The Standing Man)
"Tight writing… using dialogue to give just enough detail to hook us into the story, leaving the snippets of backstory until the reader is well and truly engrossed. Great stuff!" (Jo Carroll, author of Over The Hill And Far Away)
"Characters are direct and effective. I enjoyed the pace which allows the reader to think about the important concepts by himself." (Heikki Hietala, author of Tulagi Hotel)
The following non-fiction book partners Flying
"Extremely well written, researched and set out. Every point is very clear. The analogies are extremely imaginative and very effective. The passion in this work is powerful and every paragraph is thought provoking. The arguments are well thought through and persuasive... I would suggest that everyone reads it and think very carefully about what you say." (Gareth Naylor - Authonomy)
"'Reality Check' is an interesting and accessible book... that sets up the basic argument well, an intriguing one at that: proof of God in brain and mind being two different things, mind existing beyond the time-space continuum. At this stage my interest was piqued. I haven’t come across an argument like this before so it appears original... I was entertained and informed along the way and feel richer for the debate. Anyone interested in these themes would do well to have a read of 'Reality Check'." (Ross Clark - Authonomy)
"This is one hell of a book, excuse the pun; and so well researched, and the thoughts are radical on this matter... [the] Albert Einstein line, very relevant to-day and very much relates to what you have written... I was totally intrigued... and found it to be very informative." (Tom Bye - Authonomy)
"The most abstract of concepts are communicated in a clearly digestible form… There is a tremendous need for the genre represented here: arguments which transcend the physical world. For many, if not most, the task of adequately preparing oneself to respond to such questions is simply too daunting. I appreciate the scholarly professionalism and the extensive referencing… [The author] rises to the challenge of what most would consider an extremely difficult calling." (James Revoir - Authonomy)
"This is a very intriguing piece. I believe there is a significant demand for such discussions... I especially appreciate the inviting style, which will definitely be a plus for more skeptical readers." (Faith Rose - Authonomy)
"The survey of arguments both for and against the existence of God provides the reader with a way to better compare and contrast different viewpoints… Presenting the strengths and weaknesses of all of these different viewpoints was one of the things I liked most. I was really interested to read these chapters because, as a mathematician and a Christian, while there may be perceived conflicts between science and religion, I believe there are no conflicts between the structures and systems of the universe and God. This book also explains things very well… [and is] accessible without sacrificing scientific integrity… I think the book will be enjoyed by many and will encourage lively discussion." (David Bortress - Authonomy)