Author Archives: Peter Kazmaier

What I learned from Tim Keller’s Message on Guidance

In these days when, by government edict here in Canada, churches are deemed “non-essential services,” I find myself searching the internet for inspiring and thought-provoking messages. A few weeks ago, I listened to a 2004 message by Timothy Keller on guidance. See the link below:

For a transcription of the talk, check out the link below:

https://reformedevangelist.blogspot.com/2015/12/a-transcription-of-tim-kellers-your.html

Keller talks about three forms of guidance:

“We’ll find out by answering, by looking at these proverbs and understanding first of the guidance God does, secondly the guidance God gives and thirdly the guidance God purchases for us.”

  • Guidance God does
  • Guidance God gives
  • Guidance God purchases for us

He further subdivides “Guidance God does” into:

  • Paradoxical guidance God does 
  • Non-obvious guidance God does

There is so much in this message that I can only talk today about what spoke to me about “Paradoxical guidance God does.” When I think of guidance I think of help in decision making. Keller points out there are two contradictory views about decisions. One view is a deterministic view that decision making is really an illusion. Our brain chemistry, our hormones, are appetites so completely determine our decisions (if you’re a Materialist) that our decisions don’t matter. There is also a theological version of this: God makes our decisions for us, so again they don’t matter.

The second, free-will view, is that our decisions completely determine everything. Keller astutely points out that both points of view, if thought through to their logical implications, can’t help but lead to despair. Absolute determinism logically leads to complete passivity. My decisions don’t matter, ever. But free will leads to paralysis since I know so many of my decisions will not only be wrong, but devastatingly wrong that second guessing and doubt will paralyze me.

Keller correctly points out that, not only Proverbs, but he New Testament itself asserts both individual Free Will and God’s Sovereignty (Determinism) simultaneously and the two together are essential for hope and confidence in the future.

Since Free Will exists and is operative, my decisions matter a lot, so I cannot be passive. Yet since the God who loves me still is sovereign, he can smooth over my many poor choices, so in the end I will be okay. Keller uses the Genesis historical account of Joseph where many people made terrible decisions with some good ones thrown in, but God, made everything work together to good purpose and save Jacob and his family from a killer famine.

How to Come to Terms with this Paradox

As a scientist, I am no stranger to paradoxes. The one that springs immediately to mind is the wave-particle duality that is particularly pronounced in small particles. One knows this paradox is intrinsic to particles. One also understands the quantum nature of very small particles is so different from what I encounter in the macroscopic world, that I should not be surprised the properties characteristic of the quantum realm appear as paradoxes to me.

The way a physicist handles these paradoxes is instructive. One knows when to treat an electron as a particle and when to treat it as a wave to solve a particular problem. For diffraction one treats an electron as a wave; for collisions as a particle.

Some years ago I read Roger Penrose’s book The Road to Reality. Much I did not understand but his explanation of the arrow of time always stayed with me. Of the four dimensions (x, y, z, t) only time is unidirectional, that is to say time always moves from the present to the future. Indeed, our world is what it is, because of time. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that for any process, the entropy of the universe must increase. To go back in time is to return to a lower entropic state of the universe and so contradicts this law. As a human being, I am remorselessly and relentlessly bound in time. At one point in time I am deciding cereal or eggs for breakfast. Twenty minutes later that decision is irrevocably set in the past. Within time I made a decision.

Yet if I believe that God created everything including time, then I have to believe he exists outside of time as well as within it. This to me is the whole explanation why Free Will and Determinism can co-exist. Within time (the only realm I comprehend), real decisions are being made and have consequences. Outside of time, in some way there is some multidimensional present where all of infinity is seen (I want tot say simultaneously, but that would be a symptom of my incurable compulsion to always drag time back into God’s timeless realm).

This brings me to my final point. I can’t understand God’s Sovereignty without dragging time into his timeless realm and so making him responsible for all actions and destroying Free Will. I can’t understand his sovereignty, but at least I know why I can’t understand it.

As Keller points out, having free, meaningful choices and a sovereign God superintending all is the only way of avoiding paralysis on the one hand and passivity on the other. Like the scientist, I apply my imperfect models to the problem at hand. When I am making a decision, I decide knowing that this is my responsibility. When I have second thoughts and wonder if I my decision has been a huge mistake, I am confident that God in his sovereignty will make it work out, despite my flawed choices.

The print sample of COVENTRY 2091 has arrived!

I am so excited to receive my sample print copy for COVENTRY 2091, my fifth book. It begins in Canada in the year (you guessed it!) 2091, but as you can tell by the cover, it doesn’t end there.

After inspecting the copy and approving the final print run, I expect the book will be available in mid-June. Thanks everyone for your support and encouragement!

A Review of Andrew Seddon’s IRON SCEPTER

The year is 2495 A.D. when the Earth-based Hegemony is expanding its influence across the galaxy to integrate independent worlds settled during an earlier expansion phase. Major Karel Novacek is the ranking officer of the Hegemony’s Political and Ideological Bureau assigned to Lenore, a cold world of about 65,000 inhabitants that is slated for integration into the Hegemony. Novacek faces the difficulty that the inhabitants of Lenore don’t want to integrate. After the Hegemony navy easily destroys the defending Lenore fleet, Novacek has to quell an underground resistance movement. The first contact with an alien space-traveling species further complicates his Lenore mission, but also draws him into a much bigger political gambit.

The fast moving plot, the surprises, and the battle that Novacek fights within himself as he carries out the ruthless dictates of the Bureau, make this the best science fiction book I have read in a long time. Not only is the plot exciting, but many times I found myself thinking about the weighty questions facing Novacek as he agonizes over the conflicting dictates that arise from obedience and loyalty to the Bureau and doing what is right. I’m looking forward to reading two of Seddon’s other books, Farhope and Wreaths of Empire, in the near future.

My rating … 5 out of 5 stars

The POGG Blog

I started writing Coventry 2091 in 2018, just when my last book, The Dragons of Sheol was in the final stages of editing. Since I was starting a new series I began by asking a number of “What if” questions to help flesh out the plot.

What if, in the year 2051, a sustained, peaceful protest took place in Canada that threatened the plans of our Federal Government and alarmed many urban voters? How might the government react? Answering these questions led to the story that became Coventry 2091.

As the plot developed, I realized that our legal system could not efficiently process and jail thirty thousand peaceful but determined protesters, so I imagined a extra-judiciary tribunal which I called the Peace, Order, and Good Government Tribunal which quietly and efficiently sent thirty thousand to a Canadian Penal Colony.

Imagine my surprise when I read the front page news last week in the National Post and in particular Colby Cosh’s article on a ruling in Ottawa’s favor on Carbon Taxes citing “Peace, Order, and Good Government” (POGG) from the British North America Act justifying this huge transfer of control over resources from the provinces to the Canadian Federal Government.

Peace, Order and Good Government (POGG)

From the point of view of my novel’s story, I suppose this precedent which essentially is a Carte Blanche for enabling the Canadian Federal Government to override any explicit provisions of the British North America Act, with Canadian Supreme Court approval, makes my imaginative story line more plausible and in some senses disturbingly prophetic. The government, particularly if supported by a majority of a sympathetic electorate, could override any protections we currently enjoy by using the POGG card.

I’ve only had one other time when one of my story lines seemed disturbingly prophetic in this way. Check out a previous post in the link below.

https://peterkazmaier.wordpress.com/2018/02/13/the-uncanny-life-of-a-science-fiction-author-seeing-yesterdays-imaginations-in-todays-news/(opens in a new tab)

THE HALCYON DISLOCATION is now Available at the Toronto Public Library as an e-Book

Max Planck paved the way for the quantum understanding of small particle behavior. He also defined a concept later named after him: Planck Time. Planck Time is unit of time defined only in terms of universal constants. This is a SciFi story about what happens at intervals shorter than Planck Time.

The University of Halcyon Physics Department is researching force fields on behalf of the Defense Department. Unfortunately the first large scale test goes awry. The whole university is learning some surprising things about Planck Time.

Find the book in the Toronto Public Library catalog and check availability … link

Twenty Reasons for Becoming an Indie Author

What is an Indie Author?

For the purpose of this discussion an independent author (Indie Author) is an author who retains ownership and control of their created work. He may provide a limited licence to a publisher or distributor, but ultimate control of the work remains with the originator. In contrast I use the term “traditional publisher,” as a publisher who acquires exclusive rights to a work before publication. Note: these terms are for discussion purposes only and in no way is this discussion to be taken as legal advice.

Twenty Reasons for Becoming an Indie Author

  • Reason number 1 for becoming an Indie author: it gives you the freedom to share your imagination with a worldwide audience. 
  • Reason number 2 for becoming an Indie author: it enables to spend your time writing your next book rather than dozens of query letters.
  • Reason number 3 for becoming an Indie author: you can share your story directly with the people who matter most—your readers.
  • Reason number 4 for becoming an Indie author: when your first book comes out and readers begin buying it—YOU ARE AN AUTHOR.
  • Reason number 5 for becoming an Indie Author: you may be the one to invent the new genre that readers have been longing for.
  • Reason number 6 for becoming an Indie Author: it enables you keep the freedom to write what you believe, in the way you believe it should be written.
  • Reason number 7 for becoming an Indie Author: BIG BROTHER abhors voices that can’t be controlled.
  • Reason number 8 for becoming an Indie Author: internet sales are easy to scale. If your book goes viral there is no limit to how many books you can sell.
  • Reason number 9 for becoming an Indie Author: you decide when you want to follow the dictates of Political Correctness.
  • Reason number 10 for becoming an Indie Author: with so many people on the internet, there ought to be 100,000 with tastes in stories similar to yours.
  • Reason number 11 for becoming an  Indie Author: with low overhead you can sell into niche markets that are unprofitable for large publishers.
  • Reason number 12 for becoming an Indie Author: you learn to value and cherish every reader of your book.
  • Reason number 13 for becoming an Indie Author: you are able to interact personally with many of your readers since your low overhead lets you thrive with fewer sales.
  • Reason number 14 for becoming an Indie Author: for introverts (like me), it’s easy to converse about books when people find out you’re an author.
  • Reason number 15 for becoming an Indie Author: researching your novel leads you to study many new subjects.
  • Reason number 16 for becoming an Indie Author: you finally write the book you always wanted to read, but no one else bothered to write.
  • Reason number 17 for becoming an Indie Author: every one you meet has a bit of knowledge about life and relationships that will make your novel more authentic.
  • Reason number 18 for becoming an Indie Author: your book need never go out of print. After all you own it.
  • Reason number 19 for becoming an Indie Author: take a step to overcome fear of failure and rejection. Put Theodore Roosevelt’s encouragement “to be in the arena” into practice. Silence your inner critic by writing and publishing your first book.
  • Reason number 20 for becoming an Indie Author: in these days of “cancel culture,” if you own your book, your publisher can’t be pressured into burying it.

On Reading the Unabridged Version of George MacDonald’s ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD

I have enjoyed the many fine abridged versions of George MacDonald’s books, but have recently moved to unabridged copies of his works. I can see why many 21st century readers do not have the patience to read the asides and the sermons, but for me they have been a special delight.

At one point in Annals of a Quiet Neighbourhood, MacDonald writes down the Reverent Walton’s complete Christmas sermon to his parish. What especially interested me: Walton did not assume everyone in the congregation was at the same place in their spiritual journey. He spoke to three groups of people and recognized the questions they were asking and worked to help each group move further along the way rather than upbraiding some of them for their lack of faith. The first group he addressed were those who had begun to hope that the good news of New Testament were true, but deep down believed it was too good to be true.

People who wished the good news message were true, but thought it was it was not

I think moving from a position of convinced agnosticism (an oxymoron) to a wish that the message were true opens one’s mind to the point where one might listen to what is being said. “Begun to hope” is the operative phrase since these listeners did not really believe their hope could be true. I think there are two disastrous mistakes to avoid here (disastrous mistakes for both the inquirer and anyone who might speak with them on the subject):

The first, is to try to believe something simply because it might be helpful. To use hyperbole, this is akin to a high jumper convincing himself he can clear a ten meter bar in the hope his new found confidence will help him to clear two meters. At all costs, we must not lie to ourselves. It is much better to be scrupulously honest with ourselves even if it takes us longer to recognize the truth. Here is some dialogue from my upcoming book Coventry 2091. In this story, Geisbrecht is a counselor helping Jacob Kraiser get over nightmares about his parents and siblings death in a car accident. 

Geisbrecht looked at Jacob for a moment and then said, “Here’s what I want you to do. Start a journal. Write about the good times with your parents and siblings. By the way, do you believe you’ll see them again?”

“I haven’t really thought about it.”

“Well think about it. If you really believe this absence is temporary—and I mean really believe because you are convinced that’s the reality—then that conviction puts a whole different complexion on these questions. But don’t fool yourself. Don’t talk yourself into a conviction. Be scrupulously honest.”

Giesbrecht looked at Jacob as he thought about the question. “No, I don’t believe I’ll see them again.”

Giesbrecht sighed. “Well that makes things harder. Write down everything you remember about your parents and siblings, good times and bad. Especially, after you wake up after a nightmare, pull out your journal and write. If you were a Christ-follower, I’d tell you to pray. I’d also tell you to write about God’s love and goodness. Maybe you’ll be able to do that honestly in time, but right now you can’t and I don’t want you pretending and lying to yourself.”

Giesbrecht gave Jacob a searching look. “Will you begin journaling?”

Jacob might be tempted to propagandize himself into believing that he would see his family again because of the beneficial effect (I’m not even sure this kind of deep cognitive dissonance is possible) of feeling more at peace and less traumatized by the loss of parents and siblings. Geisbrecht cautions him against this tendency because we ought to believe things because they are true and connected to reality and not because they make us feel a certain way.

The second mistake is to view good news as “wishful thinking” and dismiss it merely because we believe we are falling victim to our own wish fulfillment desires. Dismissing good news, merely because the news is good makes no sense. As truth seekers we must follow the evidence where it leads and one of the chief decisions we have to make has to do with what evidence we allow for consideration.

MacDonald through Walton speaks to two other groups of listeners:

  • Those who have begun to believe the Good News is true, but fear they might be disappointed if they looked into it more closely.
  • Those who have become convinced the message is true. They then wonder what it will mean for their lives. Will they go on? Will they act and their convictions? Exercising our will and making a decision is always the last hurtle, isn’t it?

Those groups of listeners may merit further discussion in the future.

If you’re interested in checking out my books, here is a link for your convenience … https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00JB0IWE6

THE HALCYON CYCLE is now Available as eBooks at the Calgary Public Library

Although I prefer holding a real book to reading a book on my smart phone, I have found e-books particularly useful for library borrowing. They allow waiting lists and automatic retrieval (no more pesky library fines).

I am gratified to point out to my friends in Calgary, that THE HALCYON CYCLE books are now available in e-book format at the Calgary Public Library … if you haven’t read, for example, THE DRAGONS OF SHEOL, why not check it out there for free?

For your convenience, here is a link to the Calgary Public library Halcyon Cycle e-books. Enjoy …. https://calgary.bibliocommons.com/v2/search?searchType=smart&query=Kazmaier

A Writer’s First Trip to the Holy Land: The Decapolis City of Beit She’an (Scythopolis)

Beit She’an (Scythopolis) showing the ruins of the city with the tell in the background.

It is about the one year anniversary of our trip to Israel. I am grateful I had the opportunity to complete this trip of a lifetime. I would like to finish this series with a description and images from our trip to Scythopolis. After a year it remains a trip of a lifetime and I gladly remember the many wonderful people Kathyrn and I met in our group.

A Description of Scythopolis

At the junction of the Jezreel Valley and the Jordan Valley one finds the ruins of the ancient city of Scythopolis one of the towns of the Decapolis. These Greek settlements were founded after Alexander the Great’s conquests. Likely Pella and Dion were founded first, since they are Macedonian names.

The location of Beit She’an in modern Israel.

Scythopolis is the only Decapolis town on the west side of the Jordan River and sits athwart one of the key access routes connecting the coastal region with the caravan routes skirting the fertile crescent.

Approximate location of the ten cities at the time of Christ.

According to E. M. Blaiklock, the presence of a Greek city in Palestine had a significant influence on Jewish culture and Jewish awareness of Greek culture. For example, in the parable of the Prodigal Son, the far off land where he fed the swine may have been modeled on Scythopolis.

Scythopolis was likely destroyed by an earthquake as evidenced by these giant toppled pillars.

The presence of Scythopolis may also indicate that Jews and Galileans in biblical times had an understanding of Greek since they likely traded and interacted with these Greek cities.

The hill behind the town was likely used as a fortification and refuge in case of attack.

Acknowledgment. The excellent article by E. M. Blaiklock in The Zondervan Pictorial Dictionary of the Bible on the Decapolis was most helpful in the writing of this article.

COVENTRY 2091 – The Manuscript is Finished!

Coventry Penal Colony on Iron Isle

In this pandemic year of 2020, having experienced so many constraints on my freedom, having endured isolation from my inner circle, and watching the economic devastation of people in my community, one of the few bright spots has been my writing. I have completed the manuscript for my next novel. Here is my first attempt at a teaser. Let me know what you think.

Coventry 2091

The year is 2091. Jacob Kraiser is chained to a metal bench outside a guard compound at a penal colony he didn’t even know existed. He had thought, when his parents and siblings died in an accident a few years ago, that his life had reached bottom. How wrong he was!

Coventry Penal Colony is hiding a colossal secret that will take Jacob on the adventure of his life. Will he die? Will he be able to fight back against the tyranny that surrounds him? Will he help to forge a way of escape for those who are trapped as he has been?

This is a fast-paced science fiction thriller that follows Jacob from the penal colony north of Lake Superior, to a floating city in the atmosphere of Venus, to a fledgling colony on Alpha Centauri. Why not go along for the ride?

Feedback

What do you think of this teaser? Am I revealing too much? Is it too bland? Your comments would be appreciated.

I’m enjoying Parler, the censor-free media platform, very much. If you’re on Parler, why not connect? Find me @PeterKazmaier