Tag Archives: religion

Hope . . . and the Hedgehog: Life? Death? And then what? Our personal quest… by Tom Vaughan (Book Review)


Hope…. And The Hedgehog is a ‘pocketbook philosophy for the present age’, a digestible exploration of the meaning of life which aims to unpick the big questions most of us spend our lives avoiding: how did life begin, how does it end, and what happens to us after we die?

Is there life after death? Is there a higher power? Or, is life one big cosmic accident; a clash of particles and atoms and one big bang? Tom looks instead at the power of faith and spirituality which he separates from religion. While he does not attempt to present any definitive argument, he looks at all sides, gathering thoughts from history’s most influential philosophers and scientists.

He makes the proposition that, between only two possible explanations for the existence of life, there is a greater likelihood of the one over the other. He believes in the importance of opening up our minds and finding more of a sense of purpose and direction in life – a view that, as we look towards a post-lockdown future, will resonate with many people.

“I chose the book’s title Hope … and the Hedgehog because hope is one of the principal drivers we resort to as human beings when confronted with a challenge to which there is no obvious solution. In the case of this book, that challenge is a very prickly issue: how we came into existence. It is an issue that we are all drawn to, but at the same time we do not want to handle or investigate too closely. Like the proverbial elephant in the room, we know that little hedgehog is there, we just prefer to leave it be – even if, in the end, there is no avoiding it.”  – Tom Vaughan, May 2022. 

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from iRead Book Tours. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
 
 

If you read the book’s summary, you’ll recall the author states this is not a religious book. That’s the truth. They do not support one religion over another. However, they don’t push religion under the rug either. Tom Vaughan states, “…we cannot ignore that religion of every creed is embedded in human society that it forms an integral part of our lives.” Also, another truth. Even our government seems to be run by faith, which goes against the Constitution. The first amendment to the US Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” 

Tom Vaughan also informs readers they have “no scientific, philosophical, or theological training of any kind.” That made this book more personal – less like I was getting schooled on a subject. 

Tom Vaughan gave insight into many areas and posed questions to his audience. “Why are we born?” “Why are we here?” “Purpose of life?” “What happens after I die?” These questions have been on the minds of many scholars and non-scholars for many, many years.

Tom Vaughan made one remark that is 100% true: “Rich or poor, we all carry the same chronic illness.” Money might change your type of dwelling, but at the end of the day, we all get sick. We all die. Your cash and acquisitions will hole zero value to you when your body gives out. Speaking of wealthy people, I had no idea how much a person would pay to have their head frozen ($80,000) or their entire body put on “ice” ($200,000). Seriously, that money would be put to better use elsewhere. Instead of freezing all or parts of oneself, how about leaving your money to a charity? 

You can’t discuss life and death without throwing in some science. Don’t worry, it’s not super complex information—just cool facts. You might find the answer to a clue on Jeopardy. 

I could go on and on with my thoughts on Hope . . . and the Hedgehog: Life? Death? And then what? Our personal quest… by Tom Vaughan, but I think you can sense I liked it. I wasn’t expecting the colorful images scattered throughout the book. The drawings fit perfectly with the surrounding text/thoughts. Nice work. 

 
Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤
 
 
 
 
Meet the Author:
Author Tom Vaughan

 
Tom’s life has come full circle from his first career as co-founder of the successful chain of Juliana’s discotheques, which he started in the 60’s and grew to be the world’s largest entertainment group of its type at the time, with offices in London, New York, Singapore and Sidney. With no scientific, philosophical or theological training and few school qualifications but armed with heaps of life experience as an entrepreneur, Tom switches gear with his latest work Hope…And The Hedgehog to take on the role of ‘everyman philosopher’, creating a new book that makes people stop and think. 

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The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy by Kellyn Roth (Book Series Spotlight)

Book 1

 

Claire will stop at nothing to provide for her daughters. An unwed mother, she does everything possible to raise them whilst avoiding her scandalous past. Some secrets are best kept, even between mother and daughter.

Alice longs for a father, especially if that means her mother will be happy. She takes matters into her own hands—but she never expected what she finds.

​Despite her efforts to shelter her daughters, Claire’s ghosts rise up to haunt her, and any semblance of control over her life vanishes. If her secrets are uncovered, what will become of her family?

 
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Book 2
Picture

 

Ivy Knight lives her life in a blur of confusion as the world passes her by in a tumultuous melody. She isn’t the perfect daughter or student, but as long as she can be with her family, she doesn’t mind watching rather than living.

Mrs. Chattoway treasures both of her granddaughters now that they’re reunited. When Ivy’s parents enroll her in a Scottish school for unique children, she’s happy to chaperone.

​In a new place with a new guardian, Ivy discovers a special talent that helps her see the blurred world in a new way. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and Ivy becomes determined to find it—and help others do the same.

 
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Book 3

At Her Fingertips by Kellyn Roth

 

Debutante Alice Knight is ready for her first social season in London. She’s determined to impress society and her mother with an affluent match, at last escaping her past and embracing a future of her own making.

Peter Strauss, an American reporter visiting England, isn’t exactly what Alice had in mind. However, his friendship proves invaluable as Alice faces the challenges of her debut. Almost immediately, she attracts the attention of a well-born gentleman—perfect save for the simple fact that he’s not a Christian.

​The life she longs for is finally at her fingertips, but between her own heart and the convictions of her faith, she isn’t sure she ought to grasp it.

 
 
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Book 4

BEYOND HER CALLING (The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy) by Kellyn Roth
 
 
​Ivy Knight feels that her life may never start. Though her loving family assures her that her place in the world is close to home, she still feels a push to move out of her comfort zone. Hoping against hope, she travels to her old friends at McCale House, seeking a purpose.

Jordy McAllen has just returned to Scotland after his education in London. He fears that what everyone has always said about him may be true: he can’t be a good doctor, let alone a good man. Determined to prove himself, Jordy snatches up the opportunity to become the doctor in the village of Keefmore near his parents’ farm.

​When an old friend decides to travel to Keefmore and visit a relative, Ivy follows. She soon finds herself drawn to Jordy, but as their attraction grows, they both face doubts. A relationship between the two of them feels improbable—and might just require a step of impossible faith.

 
 
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Meet the Author:
Author Kellyn Roth
 
 
Kellyn Roth is a historical romance & women’s fiction author who writes about the empty places where hope has the most room to grow. Her novels include the inspirational Victorian family saga, The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy, and the Kees & Colliers series, which follows a broken family in the tumultuous years of the first half of the 20th century.

Kellyn is a student of the Author Conservatory, a virtual assistant, and a writing coach. When not building her author career, she is likely getting lost somewhere in the Pacific Northwest with her friends, watching period dramas and facetious comedies, or spending time with her husband.

 

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Verdaderamente Poderoso by Dr. Rosa Romero (Book Spotlight)

Verdaderamente Poderoso by Dr. Rosa Romero
 
Allow the powerful word of God to transform your life, changing your daily routine through your thoughts and the way you speak. In order to live according to truth and wisdom, you have to learn to reason yourself. With an important and simple message, Verdaderamente Poderoso will help readers find their purpose in life. Identifiable from beginning to end, the book is based on real testimonies that will touch the depths of one’s soul.
 
 
 
 
For Spanish readers (info taken from the book’s info on Amazon)
 
Permite que la ponderosa palabra de Dios transforme tu vida, cambiando tu rutina cotidiana atraves de tus pensamientos y tu manera de hablar. Para poder vivir segun la verdad y sabiduria, hay que aprender a razonar uno mismo. Con un mensaje importante y sencillo este libro te ayudara ha encontrar tu proposito en la vida, te identificaras con el de principio a fin, esta basado en testimonios reales que tocaran lo mas profundo de tu alma.
Reconoceras que eres el unico dueno de tu destino y que tienes el poder de reescribir tu historia, que cada crisis, cada reto son para profundizarnos en una intimidad con el creador. Busca dentro de ti hasta encontrar a Dios, el esta en el interior de todas las personas, todo mundo tiene por lo menos un atributo positivo, el cual es visible a todos aquellos con una mente y corazon abiertos.
 
Rosa Romero una gran mujer de Dios, multifacetica con un doctorado en letras humanas, madre, empresaria, instructora de comestilogia, master coach certificada, Pastor y Profeta que obedeciendo la volunta de Dios junto a su esposo el Pastor Fredy Gonzalez, iniciaron en el 2015 la Iglesia Cristiana Unity Life El Reyno de Dios para las Naciones en el area de Manassas y son ellos mismos quienes continuan al frente de la misma como Ministros Principales.
 
 
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Rosa Romero, is a great woman of God, multifaceted with a doctorate in human letters, mother, businesswoman, ideology instructor, certified master coach, Pastor and Prophet who has been obeying God’s will with her husband Pastor Fredy Gonzales. Since 2015, they have served as Chief Ministers at the Christian Church Unity Life El Reyno de Dios para las Naciones in the Manassas area.

connect with the author: goodreads

 
 
 
 
 

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Save the Date by Ellen Fannon (Book Spotlight / Author Interview)

Content Rating:  G

 
What if you were given the chance to rekindle the flame with your first love? What happened to all those girls who were mean to you in school? Should Hannah Jensen take the chance of attending her high school reunion to find out?

Hannah hasn’t been back to her hometown in more than twenty years. Now, a widow, raising a teenaged daughter, she has the opportunity to go home for her twenty-fifth high school reunion. The invitation to the reunion stirs up a lot of old memories at the same time she is dealing with loneliness, the challenges of single-parenting a teenager, people who want to “set her up” with eligible men, her own insecurities, and her eccentric family.

The story interweaves the present with scenes from Hannah’s past and her fantasy of “happily ever after” with her high school boyfriend in a humorous and entertaining manner. Her feelings from being “shunned” by the cool kids resurface as she reflects back on her time as a teenager. There are several roadblocks on Hannah’s journey from a teenager through her present. The growing pains and amusing situations in which she finds herself are ones to which we all can relate. As she walks the path of self-discovery, she also discovers the most important life lesson of all–her relationship to God.

 
 

Ellen Fannon

Author Ellan Fannon

Award-winning author Ellen Fannon is a practicing veterinarian, former missionary, and church pianist/organist. She originated and wrote the Pet Peeves column for the Northwest Florida Daily News before taking a two-year assignment with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. She and her retired Air Force pilot-turned-pastor husband have been foster parents to more than 40 children, and the adoptive parents of two sons. Her first novel, “Other People’s Children,” is a humorous account of the life of a foster parent. She is a regular contributing author for One Christian Voice, and her stories have been published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series as well as Lifeway’s Open Windows devotional booklets, among many other publications. Her third novel about a veterinarian entitled “Don’t Bite the Doctor” will be released in 2021. She lives in Valparaiso, Florida, with her husband, sons, and assorted pets.
 
 
What is your next project?
My next book is called “Don’t Bite the Doctor.” It’s about the adventures of a young veterinarian.
 
 

What genre do you write and why?
I like writing fiction because I can use my imagination.

 

 

What is the last great book you’ve read?
I am actually re-reading the classic “All Creatures Great and Small.”
 
 
Do you snack while writing? Favorite snack?
Sometimes I’ll have some almonds. They last a while and I can crunch on them to release the tension.

 

 

Where do you write?
I always write in my bedroom office area.

 

 

What is your writing schedule?
I try to write two days a week on my days off. I’ll also write on Saturdays sometimes. I don’t write on workdays because my brain is dead by the time I get home.

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: All questions were constructed by the author and/or their representative. 

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Wild Willful Heart by W. Boone Hedgepeth (Book Review)

Take a wild megalomaniacal trip into the American spiritual and Cultural Revolution of the 1960s-1990s, as a young southern man gives fresh perspective to the propaganda, bad marriages, a collection of strange gurus and some bizarre mystical places. For many years, author W. Boone Hedgepeth was a magnet for unusual occurrences of an ethereal nature which vigorously affected the world around him. Suffering a life threatening illness and after a near death experience, Boone goes on an adrenalized journey from the American south and across the country seeking answers. Here, force of will and prayer are the proven best weapons against very unusual circumstances. Literally seeking the face of God, the author plunges into the magical medicine of his native ancestors, the new age metaphysical movement, Christian fundamentalism, and other wild and life-changing experiences before coming out of the fires to the other side.

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

There is so much I want to touch upon regarding Wild Willful Heart. Please be patient with me as I share my thoughts on many aspects of Boone’s story.

 

Mormonism

I’m not too familiar with Mormonism (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). I grew up in a Pentecostal church and my minister only spoke of our beliefs. While reading Wild Willful Heart, I learned both religions believed in the power of prayer and the Holy Spirit.

However, Boone disclosed some bizarre facts about Mormonism that had me shaking my head.

1.) For over 100 years, Mormons believed there were six foot tall beings living on the moon because an early church leader named Orson Pratt had said so. This was debunked after the moon landing.

2.)Mormons believed their “magic underwear,” which had Masonic markings on it, was knife proof and bulletproof. It had to be worn everyday to protect the righteous wearer from evil.

I’m not sure why anyone would believe such nonsense but, then again, atheists wonder why people believe in GOD so to each their own, I guess.

 

Like many people, Boone questioned organized religion. He used words like hypocrite and hypocrisy more than once. I can understand why he used these key words. I’m not saying all churches or church members are hypocrites. What I am saying is I can fully understand why some people are losing their faith in GOD, churches, and religion as a whole.

 

Mental Health

As Boone embarked on his vision quest, he discussed troubling times from his past. At thirteen, he began to hear voices in his head, which instructed him to end his life. He assumed every teen experienced these voices as they transitioned into adulthood. As a teen, I began hearing voices too. I didn’t speak of them. The voices are scary. You feel alone, afraid of your own mind. Like Boone, I also live with bipolar disorder, depression, and suicidal thoughts. I truly believe MORE people should discuss mental health because we need to end the stigma of mental illness. If we don’t, if we shame those with mental health problems, people who are suffering won’t seek help. A person who thinks there’s no help, no understanding, will end their life. I, personally, don’t want to see that happen. Everyone needs the opportunity to feel safe to discuss their issues, to get the help they need, and to live a long, happy life.

As for Boone’s experience with drugs and alcohol, it happens with most teenagers. IMHO, I don’t believe illegal drugs and liquor should be consumed if you’re battling a mental health problem. It can and will make you more self-destructive. Boone discussed this during one of his flashbacks. Boone, I applaud you for being so forthcoming with your struggles with mental illness, mental health hospitals, liquor and drugs.

 

Apparitions and UFOs

Many people have claimed to see sprits and UFOs. I’m not sure if spirits are real or just a play on eyes, a figment of our imagination. However, if you believe in life on other planets, then the possibility of UFOs is plausible. Maybe, just maybe, spirits are real. And maybe, those sightings of UFOs do hold some merit as well. Bravo Boone, you made me stop and evaluate their validity.

 

Vision Quests

Vision quests are popular because many people seek enlightenment, a connection to all things. They want to find answers, peace, or a purpose in life. Boone went on several and he spoke of the physical, emotional, and mental toll it took on him. It changed his life; it was cathartic. After I read about his time on the mountain, I began to wonder if I could benefit from one. Maybe after reading his trials, you’ll consider participating in one as well.

 

Summation

You don’t have to be a religious person to read Wild Willful Heart. You only need to have an open mind and few hours to spare on this (under) 300-page story.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

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Author W. Boone Hedgepeth
W. Boone Hedgepeth studied history at the University of South Florida for four years. He spent 35 years in business and copywriting, with 11 years as a lay minister in his free time. His favorite places are the mountains of North Carolina, and any good waterfront restaurant in South Carolina. His hobbies include classic cars and RVs, listening to swampy blues, and reading the Bible. W. Boone Hedgepeth lives with his wife on the coast of South Carolina.
 
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