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Sunday, 8 December 2013

Encounter with a Wise Man

Encounter with a Wise Man, which carries the sub-title, A Christmas Tale of Wisdom, is the third of my Christmas books. Here I want to explain how I came to write it and its relevance to contemporary civilisation.

This book is actually a re-publication of a short story which is the third of three tales about Father Christmas which first appeared in my book Father Christmas Adventures. I published Encounter with a Wise Man on its own for it marks a milestone in my journey as a writer and also because it turned out to be the beginning of something that I call my literary project most unusual.

By Christmas 2010, I had completed the first two short stories that were eventually to appear in Father Christmas Adventures. I did not start the third story, but had the intention of dealing with the wise men in the nativity story, so I wrote down the words Wise Man and then did nothing more until Christmas 2011.

During the course of 2011 I had a conversation with a friend and discovered we both had read Paolo Cohelo’s book called The Alchemist, which is a marvellously inspiring tale about what happens when you follow your dreams. I can highly recommend this book. During the same year I was also involved, not for the first time, in some work that involved quantum physicists, and the one word that stuck with me from that encounter was, entanglement.

So when Christmas 2011 arrived and I resumed writing the final tale for Father Christmas Adventures, my thoughts were shaped by two words: entanglement and alchemist. Entanglement immediately suggested to me the idea of entangling the new story with my first published book, A Father Christmas Story. Alchemist was also instrumental in shaping the story for the wise men in the nativity story would probably have been alchemists and astrologers as well.

Once the foundational concepts were in place, what happened next came as a surprise to me for I just wrote the story, and when I looked at it I realised what I had written was a tale that needed no further work for I had done all that I could with the theme, and it was just as I wanted it to be.

Now I come to the matter of its relevance to contemporary civilisation. The tale is in its essence an observation about the increasing lack of wisdom in the world, and, at a time when we should be stepping back to reflect and seeking to walk a different path, we are instead pushing ahead and doing more of the things that are responsible for our present predicament, which is very unwise.

Central to this lack of wisdom is the observation of the increasing tendency in the world towards people being ideological, and the growing number of people who are living their lives according to some dogma, and that there are many dogmas to choose from. In particular, I highlight three: religion, science, and free market capitalism, and how these are now acting together to destroy our world, yet most are blind to this. My blog entry from last week (The God Delusion or the Science Delusion?) well illustrates this point, in particular the dogma and delusions associated with modern science, and the quest of some, to replace religion with science, which kind of demonstrates what I mean by the growing lack of wisdom in the world, and how also, religion and science are bound together, which is another point that I make.

In essence the book is a warning about the consequences that will follow, as people believing that they know the truth, build for us all, a hell on earth from which there will probably be no escape, for there is nothing more difficult to address that the prison cells that people construct in their minds. And there is nothing more dangerous for the wellbeing of humanity than such mental prison cells. History clearly shows what follows when deluded people, knowing the truth, become compelled to deal with those others who do not share this truth, and indulge in barbarism and wickedness, with their dogma providing the necessary justification. All it takes are the right social, economic and environmental conditions, and these we are now creating on a grand scale. We can already see this madness in the form of Islamist extremism, but this is just the first – more such ideologically driven extremists will undoubtedly follow, each seeking to impose their will on the world. A wise civilisation would recognise this and begin to change, to walk a different path, and in doing so create the social, economic and environmental conditions where such extremism cannot develop and cannot find a home.

The good news for you, the reader, is that the book is available open access, which means that you can read it for free, online, via my web site – Encounter with a Wise Man: A Christmas Tale of Wisdom.

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