Book Club Picks: Sandcastle Kings

So in my book club, we read a book for a month, then discuss it. There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. I went first, so this next month was someone else’s turn. They choose:

Sandcastle Kings: Meeting Jesus in a Spiritually Bankrupt World by Rich Wilkerson Jr.

This book is part memoir about Pastor Wilkerson’s life, while mostly instructing how we can stop being sandcastle kings but connect better with God.

Sandcastle Kings, is the term Pastor Wilkerson uses to describe how we are when we try to control our lives instead of allowing God to have the control. We try and build and do all we can, but is like building out of sand; it is only temporary and too easily destroyed by everything. It make me think of the Doughnut Man song about the wise man and the foolish man.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27

In his book Pastor Wilkerson analyzes four different interactions with Jesus Christ in the New Testament:

  1. The Faith of the Centurion, Luke 7: 1-10
  2. Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son, Luke 7: 11-17
  3. Jesus and John the Baptist, Luke 7: 18-35
  4. Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman, Luke 7: 36-50

I thought the book was excellent and two stories really stood out to me:

The first was his interpretation of The Faith of the Centurion. 

When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this,because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them.

He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

First we see that the Centurion respected the culture of others and instead of going straight to Jesus, he instead spoke to the Jewish leaders to have them request on his behalf. Then the Centurion sends a servant to tell him that he is unworthy to have him, unworthy to make such a request; this powerful man humbling himself before Christ, asking only for Jesus to say the word and knowing that his servant will be healed.

This spoke to me as how often to we have a cavalier attitude around Jesus and God. Often we don’t humble ourselves or treat Christ with respect, demanding, whining, sometimes only doing things if we will get something out of it. Here he, the Centurion, recognizes the power of God and also that the mercy He gives is not because of anything we do, but because God wants to. We need to remember that too, that God’s love is nothing because of what we do but because of His Love.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

In another part, Pastor Wilkerson, shares a story about how people treat things that don’t belong to them. For instance, when one stays in a motel they throw their wet towel on the ground, they don’t make their bed, they make messes, etc. People don’t treat things they don’t own or borrow very well. I’ve talked about that before-

With this it made me think of how we treat ourselves. God created us and we belong to him, but sometimes we forget our worth and treat ourselves horribly.

I thought it was a good, quick read, and of you are interested in developing a better relationship with God, or looking to read at Luke chapter seven in a new way, than this book is for you.

For more on my book club, go to Book Club Picks: The Secret Of Chimneys

For more on Jesus, go to He Has Risen

For more C.S. Lewis quotes, go to Perfectea, A Perfect Cup of Tea or Tea for Two

So Sandcastle Kings is not the only King I am going to talk about. We are going to discuss the King of Kings as today is Palm Sunday.

Just kidding, the Palm Sunday:

We are starting off with the Triumphal Entry of Christ into Jerusalem from the Florence Baptistery by Lorenzo Ghiberti.

“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”

They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,

‘Hosanna!’

‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’

10 ‘Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!’

‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.” Mark 11:1-11

This piece was only created because of a contest. In 1401, Arte di Calimala (Cloth Importers Guild) proposed a contest to create gates for the Florence Baptistry. Originally the doors were going to depict scenes from the old testament, the challenge to show the sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-18). There were seven finalists which included Lorenzo Ghiberti, Filippo Brunelleschi, Donatello and Jacopo della Quercia. Out of them Ghiberti won the commission, although later art historians found Brunelleschi’s work to be more impressive with his use of perspective.

They later changed the doors to being from the New Testament and it took Ghiberti twenty-one years to complete the twenty panels of the life of Christ and eight on the saints. He was forty-two when he finished.

Ghiberti, like Duccio, tended to cram his space with figures trying to showcase every one involved. In the center is Christ seated on the donkey mentioned in the text, surrounded by his disciples and the Jewish people praising him. We can see one laying his coat down for Christ to walk over.

In the middle background you can see the temple and to the far right, the fig tree that occurs in the next section of the bible, (Mark 11:12-26)

While this scene is crammed with figures , not as realistic as we would see in later artwork, it still is a beautiful piece that evokes movement (although squeezed) and full of amazing details. Look at the beards and hair on the figures heads, the leaves on the fig trees, the faces, etc. Ghiberti doesn’t have a whole lot of space to work with, as each panel is limited by size, but he creates some amazing pieces.

I also like how the donkey looks out at you, reminding and almost challenging you with the question “what would you do for the son of God?”. Well, what would you?

For more depictions of Jesus’ entry, go to Entry into Jerusalem

For more depictions of Christ, go to The Death of Christ

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A Book Considered Too Dangerous to Keep: The Magician’s Nephew, Midsomer Murders (2008)

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He lists some well-known Medieval texts. Then the page is torn. The next page is missing. He saw a man burned at the stake, along with a book…a book considered too dangerous to keep. 

So this year it has been hard selecting TV episodes. I had quite a few I was going to cover, trying to decided between Grimm and Supernatural, but then I thought I have already choosen an episoide from both those TV shows. It is time to select one from a show I haven’t covered yet. So I settled on Midsomer Murders.

Midsomer Murders is a Britsh TV series based off a book series of the same name. How their Department of Criminal Investigations (DCI) teams works is that they have a county in which they travel all over investigating, similar to the Sheriff’s department. Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) is head of the Midsomer unit and is extremely intelligent and excellent at his job. The series is still ongoing, but I stopped watching after Tom Barnaby retired.

How each episode works is someone is murdered, of course. Tom and his assistant, (in this episode Tom has currently been working with his third assistant, Ben Jones, and who I think is the best of the bunch) and they go around meeting different people and we are told their back stories. Typically more than one person dies, with Barnaby & Jones figuring out who the killer is, connecting every dot, and solving the crime.

So Halloween night is approaching. Everyone is getting ready, including a coven of witches who are currently bringing another woman into the fold.

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As part of the ceremony, people around the woman entering hold an knife, arrow, axe, and sword. They also call up demons to their Temple of Thoth.

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The next day, the coven leader, Ernest Balliol is watching an interview of Aloysius Wilmington on his new book. Back in the ’70s, Aloysius was a leader of The Temple of Thoth and claimed to have The Book of Thoth. He lead a huge group of witches and warlocks. However, in his new book he claims everything was a lie. He took a bunch of different ancient religions, cut and paste them, and combined it with drugs, sex & rock ‘n roll.

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He also goes on to call everyone who has ever followed him to be a gullible and stupid idiot.

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Ernest is incensed, telling his wife Estelle he will never be able to get over what Aloysius says,at least not until he is dead.

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Meanwhile, someone has taken poison off of poison dart frogs, broken into the community hall and tampered with a magic box. Who would do this and why?

suspicious Hmm

Aloysius’ nephew Simon, has been working in the library on Aloysius’ estate. Everything will eventually go to him, so he is in charge of deciding which books need to be fixed and which need to be rid of. There are all kinds of books from Wilmingtons through the ages, along with strange ones that Aloysius bought in his youth.

What Aloysius doesn’t know, is that Simon is looking for the famed Book of Thoth.

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He needs it to pay back a debt to Hugo Cartwright. Simon used to work for Hugo’s antique bookshop, but stole money to feed his drug habit. Now he is clean, but Hugo is blackmailing him to steal books from his uncle for him to sell, telling him the only way to make his tab clear, is if he can find the book.

And he’s not the only one who wants it. Ernest also is after the book desiring it to make him more powerful, so he has his daughter Isolde romance Simon, and convince him to hand it over. She too wants the book, but for a different reason. She wants to use it for her mentally unstable mother, who is convinced that she is possessed by demons. So far, Simon has yet to find it, but the pressure is definitely on.

The next day, Ernest decides to confront Aloysius  about what he said on TV. Aloysius  continues stating that Ernest is an idiot.

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And Ernest becomes so angry he charges at Aloysius’ car, breaking the open door.

Meanwhile, it turns out that the girl who was just brought in the coven is Christine, the caretaker of Isolde and her brother Tristan’s mother Rosemary. As I have said before Rosemary is completely mad, believing that she is possessed with demons. She went through the coven ceremony over thirty years ago and it completely took her over the edge, haunting her. Christine only “joined” the coven so she could see what the ceremony was like, and better understand what ails Rosemary.

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Christine is in love with Tristan, but he only focuses on his mother and job as a lawyer.

That day is the day for the magic show, the one the Midsomer Magic Circle puts on every year. The members are Aloysius, Hugo, Jean Wildacre, Anton Thorneycraft, and Felicity Brand. They are doing a wonderful job when it is time for the assistant to go into the Cabinet of Death!.

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While Aloysius is getting everything set up, Jean tells Hugo she knows what he and Simon are doing. He tells her to watch out, poking her big nose in everything will get her into trouble one day.

Jean goes in, and they close the cabinet. When Aloysius goes to open it up, he finds her dead.

Tom and Ben are on the case.

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They investigate and discover that the blades have been tampered with. Instead of retreating back, someone stuffed them with wood so they would stay out, killing Jean. But that wouldn’t have been enough to kill her, so they run a tox screen and discover she was killed from the poison of the poison dart frogs.

They also find the hilt of a knife in the cabinet.

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No one knows why someone would murder Jean, everyone seems to love her. When they question about the cabinet, everyone tells them they performed it three times, and nothing went wrong.

Tom goes to Aloysius and ask him abut the knife hilt they found. He tells them it is a ceremonial knife. He gives Barnaby a book, detailing the other objects used: an arrow, sword, and axe.

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Meanwhile, Ben has been questioning the rest of the Magic Circle, and discovered that Anton and Felicity did not go to the bar with the others after rehearsal, like they told him they did. When they put a little pressure on them, it turns out that the two love Gilbert and Sullivan, meeting secretly (as Anton’s wife would be very upset) to sing show tunes together.

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They aren’t murderers.

The next day, Isolde is doing inventory when she notices certain ceremonial things are missing. Her father tells her not to worry and sends her after Simon, to put some pressure on him to get that book.

Meanwhile, while Aloysius is at church, Hugo decides to head to the Wilmington estate and threaten Simon. Simon wants to stop everything, but Hugo tells him that not only will he reveal everything to Aloysius, but also tell the police that he had motive to kill Jean.

Hugo storms out and doesn’t realize he is being watched by Isolde. That night he receives three ceremonial arrows. He’s next!

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The next day, Tom and Ben head over to the magic shop. Ernest doesn’t want to give them any records, stating he is a priest and they should be confidential. He calls Tristian who tells him he has to comply, giving the records needed and showing them to be little help. The only orders for the knife have been online, and no place near Midsomer, a dead end.

Simon has urgently been searching when he’s found a manuscript. It isn’t the book, but may lead to it.

Simon Wilmington: The writer was a monk, working for the Inquisition in the 16th century. Hw was in charge of books that the Catholic Church had prohibited. 

Isolde Balliol: Books about magic?

Simon Wilmington: He lists some Medieval texts. Then the page is torn. The next page is missing. He saw a man burned at the stake, along with a book, before he wrote this. A book considered too dangerous to keep. 

Later Isolde goes to see Hugo, and warns him to stay far away from the book.

Tom has been reading book Aloysius gave him, and sees that Aloysius spent time in South America, living with the Native Americans and learning their ways of capturing the poison dart frogs. Could he be the murderer?

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That night Hugo is walking home after drinking in the pub. He trips in the alley, falling on glass and bleeding.

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They find Hugo’s body, same poison as Jean.

Meanwhile, Simon finds a book in which the pages feel strange. When he opens up the page, he finds three pages hidden inside. They are pieces of the New Testament William Tyndale printed.

keanu Whoa

What a find! Aloysius is pleased, but Isolde most certainly won’t be.

That night, Aloysius is thinking about everything that has happened, with the murders and ceremonial items left behind. He figures out that it is involving the ritual that he made up, the initiation one.

Aloysius Wilmington: It was one of those daft Temple of Thoth ceremonies that I’d invented. Part of the initiation ritual. North is the knife, South is the arrow, West is the axe, and East was the sword.

It turns out that they were all there the night Mrs. Balliol was initiated. Jean had the knife and Hugo the arrow. He has more, so Tom plans to go over to his place the next day. Too bad the killer has something else in mind.

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Yes, that night Aloysius  hears a noise outside. Thinking it is Simon, he goes out, spots an axe on the ground and is murdered.

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#3

Tom and Ben go there and find his notes, trying to piece it together.

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Jean was north and had the knife during the ritual, that is why there was a knife found at the scene. Hugo was south which was the arrow, West was the axe and where Aloysius was. E must me Mrs. Balloil, but why was she out of the circle? And who is “R”?

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They question Simon and he reveals the book stealing. He tells them he never killed anyone and about the new book he found.

Anton goes to Tom and reveals that he saw someone the night Hugo was murdered. He saw Isolde there. Did she kill him? She did threaten him.

suspicious Hmm

They try to find her, but she is not home. They hurry to see Simon.

Isolde has confronted Simon. She is yelling at him for keeping the book from her. She slept with someone she doesn’t even like for nothing. Simon yells at her that the book doesn’t exist. He shows her the Tyndale manuscript and she becomes enraged that all her work and killing Hugo was over a BIBLE! She throws it in the fire. Simon tries to get it, but Isolde grabs the fireplace poker and starts beating him, she is arrested by Ben and Tom just in time.

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Back at Tristian’s. His mother is being taken away, to be locked up once more. He is very upset, nothing Christine can say or do will make him feel better.

Tom and Ben have started to question Isolde.

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She claims to have used magic to kill Hugo, but did nothing to the others. Ben goes to the house to check her room, making her father Ernest angry as he goes for Tristan’s help. There Ben finds nothing, but a picture of her and a poison dart frog. He brings it back and they find out that on her trip to South America, Tristan accompanied her. She also reveals that Estelle is her step-mother and she was after the book to heal her mother, Rosemary.

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So that means Rosemary is “R”, then who is E? Isolde tells them her father Ernest. And if Isolde isn’t killing them, that leaves only one other to avenge their mother…Tristan. And where did Ernest go, the last one needed to be killed? To see Tristan.

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They rush over to try and save him.

Ernest has gone to see Tristan who has knocked him out with a shovel. He tied him up and placed him in the backyard, cutting shallow cuts for the frogs to stick their poison in. Before he can do it, in comes Ben and Tom, Ben knocking him down; and accidentally into the frog’s glass cages. Tristian is killed by the very thing he has been using for justice.

The next night is Halloween, and Ernest has seen how Thoth has torn apart his family, turning his back on the coven and leaving.

Tom and Joyce are throwing the party, Tom trying to have a happy Halloween amid all this craziness.

Happy Halloween jack-o-lantern

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To start Horrorfest IV from the beginning, go to You Cannot Conquer It. It Has Conquered You!: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

For the previous post, go to There’ll Be Somebody With My Name…But She Won’t Be Me!: The Stepford Wives (1975)

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For more on Midsomer Murders, go to Please Excuse My Dear Fan Lady

For more on witches, go to What Have You Done to Him?: Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

For more mysteries, go to There are Thirteen Chairs at the Table…And That’s Unlucky: Mystery of the 13th Guest (1943)

For more books turned into TV series, go to A Haunting We Will Go: The Hardy Boy and Nancy Drew Mysteries (1977)