The Gods Laughed
by Kaya Casper and Rick White

Would you date a person outside your race? How about a person much older than you are?

Don't answer these questions until you read The Gods Laughed. This intriguing story takes a close look at how two very different people come together in order to survive.

A must read for everyone, and a great gift!

Click here for more info!



Mary Called Magdalene
Margaret George
ISBN 0-670-03096-1
630 pages

The only thing the Bible tells us about Mary Magdalene is that Jesus cured her of being possessed by seven demons and that she was the first person to see him after he had risen from his tomb. Over the years, Biblical interpreters have called her everything from an adultress and prostitute to the wife of Jesus and mother of his children without much evidence to back up their claims. We'll never know who Mary Magdalene really was, but it's fun to imagine.

In that spirit, Margaret George has offered us her interpretation of this important, but mysterious figure from Christian history. As you'd expect, she researchs the Bible and its times thoroughly... perhaps too thoroughly. I found the first half of the book with its detailed descriptions of daily life and Jewish customs rather boring. A little bit of historical background helps situate a reader and some of the Jewish holiday traditions are interesting, but George could have easily shaved off a hundred pages or so.

The interesting bits of part one show us how Mary came to be possessed by each of her seven demons as well as her marriage and difficulty in conceiving. The demons each have their own personality which made getting through part one easier, although it still dragged. George also shows us how difficult life was for an othodox jew who had the misfortune of being born female. Women weren't allowed to read the Torah and were concidered unclean during menstruation. The only reason they had for living was cleaning the house and raising children.

The demons eventually force Mary to leave her family and venture out into the desert where hopefully she'll be able to conquer them with prayer and meticulously keeping the law of Moses. Here, she meets Jesus, the one man who was finally able to drive the demons out of her after the Jewish authorities had failed. Seeing his awesome power to work miracles and being attracted to his strange new teachings in which men and women are equal, she decides to become his disciple, along with some fellow fishermen from her home town of Magdala.

While part one was too long, I found part two to be too short. George describes many events of the gospels as seen through Mary's eyes, but large portions of the New Testament are left out. She downplays many of Christ's miracles, choosing to instead emphasize his teachings and the persecutions he suffered. We see how difficult it must have been for his disciples to leave their families to follow him.

We also find out how strange Jesus's choice of disciples was. Several were fishermen with no training in the Torah. Matthew was not allowed to enter the temple since, as a tax collector, he was concidered unclean. Simon, being a Zealot, was likely involved in plotting the assassination of prominent Roman figures. Mary, Joanna, and Susanna were women and therefor excluded from much of the Jewish religion.

Jesus claimed to be a phrophet and said all the commandments God gave to Moses are going to be replaced by new commandments emphasizing love and forgiveness rather than strict adherance to laws in which people weren't allowed to untie knots on the Sabbath or walk more than a certain number of steps. It would be similiar to someone today claiming that taking the sacrament is an unnecessay ritual and the only commandment that matters is to love your neighbor. It's no wonder that people who devoted their lives to the teachings of the Bible would be outraged and feel threatened by Jesus, a man who was certainly guilty of heresy and deserving of death according to the law of Moses.

George shows Jesus and his disciples to us in a new light and gives us a small glimpse of what it might have been like to live during those times. The book is longer than it needed to be and can be dull at times, but in the end, I found it to be a satisfying read.

-- Darrell Moore


The Indie Bible, new edition. "The #1 directory" for the musician, performer, independent record company and recording artist. Listing all sorts of places where you can get your music sold, played or reviewed.

Books & Videos

Iíll Never Find Anything in Here!
Susan Younan Attiyah
Neighborhood Press.
ISBN: 189310832-5

David Leonhardt

What is the biggest problem facing this planet? Just ask any parent Ö itís kids who donít keep their room clean. And just in time, Susan Younan Attiyah rides to the rescue with Iíll Never Find Anything in Here.

This is a tale that both parents and children can relate to parents with a knowing nod or a roll of the eyeballs; children with horror at what can happen if a room gets too messy. Georgey misses the chance to play ball and to watch his favorite video, and he almost loses the chance to go on a class trip to the zoo all because his room is too messy to find what he needs.

To the rescue, Mom rides in to help him clean up his room. (I wonder If this childrenís book might be autobiographical.)

Bottom line: sweet, cute, adorable and easy for both parents and children to appreciate, with equally warm and fuzzy illustrations by Debra Lynn Lovitt.

The reviewer is David Leonhardt, author of Climb your Stairway to Heaven: the 9 habits of maximum happiness.

The Light in the Room
By Marilyn Brown
Cedar Point
Salt Press 2003
ISBN: 1555176372
Fiction Christmas

Exploring the Meaning of Tradition

Marilyn Brown Tells
A Tale Based on Time-Honored

Reviewed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, award-winning author of "This is the Place" and "Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered"

A tale told time and again, each in a form slightly different from the original, is a vital part of the tradition of story telling. It is a convention older than Homer's Iliad and as honored as a revered ancestor. It is a process that I find so fascinating that my most recent book, "Harkening," explores the process.

Then, coincidentally, Marilyn Brown's "The Light in the Room" falls into my hands to review. It is a book that follows that age-old practice. She has exhumed an old prize-winning novel ("Goodbye, Hello") and brought it to life again for the Christmas season. Needless to say, I found her book absorbing. It brings the art of personal history to life. It illustrates that a good story that never grows stale.

This is a special Christmas edition. It begins: "It would soon be Christmas. There was a taste of cinnamon and apples in the air…" Although the protagonist is nearly 90, she has not lost her sense of smell or imagination. She is an affirmation of life.

This pairing of Christmas and death, birth and new life, celebration and good-byes is the kind of thoughtful paradox Marilyn Brown uses subtly but oh-so-well!

Part of Brown's Christmas series, this novel is also about forgiveness and acceptance. What better topic to reflect on at this season of the year? What better gift could we give to others? Or to ourselves?

(Carolyn Howard-Johnson's new award-winning collection "Harkening,"
was called "captivating" by The Midwest Review. Learn more at

Carolyn Howard-Johnson,
Author of the awards-winning novel This is the Place.
Her new book, Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered,
has already garnered the Red Sky Press Award.
It will be released in November.
For More information go to:

Overture Search the Web.
Type it and go!

The Musician's PlaceTo Shop!
Instant Gift Certificates!

© 2001-2005 Issues Magazine.
All Rights Reserved.

Get 15 FREE prints!