Lincoln, His Sons, and America

(Creative Nonfiction)

(The Lincoln Family, from left to right, Mary Todd, Willie,
Robert, Tad and the President)

What is the relationship between being a father and power?  While this book’s focus is Abraham Lincoln, it also includes compelling glimpses into the lives of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and President Barack Obama.   The book argues that the Gettysburg Address, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Dr. King’s mention of his children only twice–at two of the most critical junctures in the Civil Rights Movement may have had more to do with the fact that these men were fathers rather than all the considerable analyses of these events.

Despite all that has been written about Lincoln and the Civil War–and the Library of Congress reports that it is second only to books about Jesus–no other book has addressed how being a father changed Lincoln or how his son Willie’s death influenced the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, the speech at Gettysburg, and  the President’s much heralded Second Inaugural Address.

Book Excerpt

Nearby Star:

The Story of Legendary Character Actor Pat Hingle
(An Authorized Biography)

Pat Hingle, 1924-2009

Pat Hingle had more than a half century of distinguished work in theater, film and television.  To the current generation of movie fans he is perhaps best-known as Commissioner James Gordon in the first four “Batman” films.

Hingle starred in the original Broadway productions of Tennesee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and William Inge’s The Dark at the Top of the Stairs. The latter play earned him a Tony Award nomination.  Hingle also played the title character in Archibald MacLeish’s Broadway hit J.B., which won both a Tony and a Pulitzer Prize (1958). He was also in a starring role, among dozens of other plays, in Arthur Miller’s The Price (1968).

Hingle’s TV credits include, among other programs, The Twilight Zone, The Untouchables, Route 66, Gunsmoke, The Fugitive, and Mission Impossible.  In made-for-TV movies, he played J. Edgar Hoover, former House Speaker Sam Rayburn, Col. Tom Parker (Elvis Presley’s manager) and Adm. William F. “Bull” Halsey.

Hingle as Judge Adam Fenton in Hang ‘Em High (1968)

In film, he worked and became friends with a host of actors including Marlon Brando, James Dean, and Clint Eastwood.  He played Sally Field’s father in Norma Rae and Warren Beatty’s father in Splendor in the Grass. He also played the bartender who needles Marlon Brando about his former prize-fight style in On the Waterfront–and was the sadistic crime boss who terrorizes the Anjelica Huston character with a bag of oranges in The Grifters.

Though selected for the role of Elmer Gantry in the film of the same title, (which helped launch Burt Lancaster’s career), Hingle had a near fatal accident.  During a year’s recuperation, where he had to learn how to walk again, he decided he didn’t want to be a star.  Instead, he wanted to be a character actor.  He wanted to act in various roles which were not connected.  He didn’t want to be typecast.  Hence the title Nearby Star.

Character actors are the unsung heroes of Hollywood. They are the people we see in many movies, know their face, but can’t quite remember their name.  Pat Hingle is a name that should be remembered.


The Hidden Gospel

(Creative Nonfiction)

This  gospel was first discovered in 1945, along with the Gnostic Gospels, but it has remained “hidden” until now–perhaps a most propitious time for its appearance.

Written by a (fictitious) follower of Jesus who wants to remain anonymous, this female apostle says that the male-dominated church hierarchy got it all wrong in determining the final draft of the New Testament.  For one thing, they excluded women–except when they couldn’t get away with it, such as when the women were at the base of the cross or discover the empty tomb.

Equally important to her, almost all the humor in Jesus’ ministry was also left out.  “Jesus had a rare sense of humor, ” she says,  “and would really break up when–mostly the men–made up stories about him.  A classic was the “alleged” exchange between Anna, Jesus’ grandmother, and Joseph.

“Where is the gold, frankincense and myrr, Joseph,”  Anna supposedly growled.

Joseph would shrug, providing her with the opening she needed.   Anna would bless herself, lamenting, “Oy vie, we could’ve sent him to rabbinical school!”

But the biggest mistake of all, says the authoress, is that “the church hierarchy got the message all wrong, and that is the reason for all the anguish and sorrow ever since.”  Not only did the Christian world get the message wrong, so did, to varying degrees, other faiths.

One other characteristic is worth mentioning.  This female Gospel writer is psychic and takes on impact thinkers such as Friedrich Neitszche, Albert Camus, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Teilhard de Chardin, as well as, throughout history, important church documents and pronouncements.

She has an apocalyptic vision of the contemporary world, but it is far different than that found in the New Testament.  It’s just something else, she says, “they got wrong.”


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