Monthly Archives: September 2013

Embracing Cultural Diversity

PSALM MAKER COVER      People who consider themselves so different from their named enemies should plant a crop and work a field together.  During the labor, they would talk about their children and find the common ground of parenting.  At the harvest, they would hold cooperation in their hands as they offer up with pride a melon or squash.  The fruits of labor should not be weapons that would put the blood of children in fields where water should run.  Has the society of human beings become too complex to realize such simplicity? ~  Psalm Maker: The Journal of Booker Jones

In an age where conflict resolution is a lost art, and religions vie for dominance, what alterations in human psyche are possible toward a goal of peace and understanding?

My tool for creating multicultural awareness is the novel.  I believe that the novel isSmoky table superior to non-fiction and journalism in altering behavioral consciousness.  Of course, to effect changes of heart and mind, the author must first have readers, or at least, a body of citizens who can read.  When you hear the phrase “reading is fundamental,” the deep importance of books is implied.

Literature is about the human heart.  Literature is about human spirituality as much as it is about patterns in human behavior.  I drank coffee with William Faulkner when we were both at the University of Virginia in the early 1960s; and although he was a consummate craftsman in the structuring of character and circumstance, when pushed by intellectual graduate students to define his literature, he replied that he wrote about the human heart.

What do I write about?  I write about the human heart, the heart being a metaphor for the sacred center of our beingness, or the denial of our connection to each other.  Crime germinates from this denial.  War germinates from this denial.  When we believe ourselves separate from each other, our behaviors become prejudiced, and our society fragments into conflict.

Medicine wheelYou cannot have a sustainable environment without a sustainable people to inhabit it.  We must have sustainable human cultures that are the lifeblood of evolutionary biodiversity.  We need the multicultural approaches to Reality through language, myths, and traditions to insure the rich continuation of humanity.  We need to honor and respect each other in our differences—not just for the purpose of social harmony, but also for the greater purpose of achieving enlightenment as spiritually aware creations.  We undermine the destiny of humanity when we yield to conflict and prejudice.  Humanity is a DNA-related family.   What can create this behavioral awareness?

We look at the current worldwide conflicts of culture and religion, and we see a continuation of the basic error of humanity.  And the macrocosm—the conflicts between nations—only mirrors the microcosm of the conflicts within our local communities and within our own minds as we deal with individual relationships:  the husband with the wife, the parent with the child, the employer with the employee, the neighbor with the neighbor, the seller with the buyer.

Monty at a book signing in Chicago

Monty at a book signing in Chicago

In the five novels of the Booker Series, I set out to find the answer to an important question:  Can a person conditioned in a society fermented in conflict change, and by altered awareness, become a righteous behaving human being?  Is it possible to cast off all the negative conditioning of race and class and allow behavior to arise from that metaphorical place of the heart?  Is it possible to remake ourselves as human beings?

NAKED INTO THE NIGHT book cover

I started out with a spiritually desperate middle-aged man going literally naked into the night.  He had every material advantage; and yet he felt so empty of meaning and purpose in his life that he walked out of his affluent home to offer himself up, to surrender to the discovery of his true nature.

No one culture or religion has yet put Reality in a box, or in a book.  Humanity is an expression of life.  Its driving force is continuation.  Its diversity is the natural seeking of that continuation.  Through language, and songs, and dance, and craft elevated to art, we interpret Reality, the Great What Is.  We seek to understand it, to touch it with our minds.  Sometimes, we culturally dare to label these observations, these beliefs as Truths.  But what has proven to be Absolute?  Even in the highest levels of our science, history has yielded no absolutes.  What is the big picture?  Where does the Reality of the macrocosm of the wide universe meet the microcosm of the subatomic world?  And even if science gives us a Unified Field Theory, how will that theory of Truth and Absolutes help me in my relationship with my wife, my daughters, my colleagues, my neighbors?  How will an idea of Reality help me in the crucible of relationship?

Pueblo Indians share their culture in New Mexico

Pueblo Indians share their culture in New Mexico

My point is—no one grand idea, or any single collection of ideas, leads us to a truth that stimulates righteous behavior.  Nevertheless, there are elements in every expression of culture that point the way to successful relationships.  These are the elements that we want to embrace in each other.  These are the elements that honor family values and stress the strengths of cooperation and consideration.  And if you achieve cooperation and consideration, will compassion be far behind?  And in compassion, in unselfishness, there is even the possibility of love.

The great Teachers of life and Reality have told us to love one another; to start from love, the metaphorical heart, and then fulfillment and happiness will follow.  But in the process of communal living, love has become a distant, theoretical absolute, a practical impossibility.  Love thy neighbor?  You mean love that jerk!?

Monty waits for a chance encounter on the plaza in Taos, New Mexico

Monty waits for a chance encounter on the plaza in Taos, New Mexico

If we cannot start from altruistic, unselfish love in all relationships, then let’s turn the equation around.  Let’s make love-thy-neighbor the result, and not the guilt-laden cause in the social equation.  What if we start out on the left-hand side of the equals sign with the numeral for acceptance?  Suppose I accept you for who you are and make an effort to understand where you are coming from in your cultural attitudes.  Suppose I walk a half-mile in your shoes.  Then suppose I add the numeral for cooperation.  Suppose I see your needs for water rights as reasonable and environmentally correct.  Then suppose I work with you, side by side, on a project to improve our collective community.  Suppose I sweat with you, laugh with you, and even cry with you.

And now my equation needs another addition.  Now I must add consideration and multiply it by Lost in LV cover no nameconcern.  Now, I honor your sacred places and remove the epithets of marginalization from my patterns of speech.  In my attitudes and behaviors, I show you respect.  I share my ethnic foods with you, my songs, my legends, my family stories.  I tell you that the futures of our grandchildren are co-mingled.  If your children cannot find meaning and purpose and fulfillment in this community, then neither can mine.

KokopelliYou are so marvelously different from me, but I love your differences.  Please don’t change.  Preserve your culture, your language, your unique perspective of Reality, because our society needs each point-of-view to survive.  We cannot afford to lose you.  We need you as part of our continuation as a humanity.  Fry bread, corn tortilla, rye, pumpernickel, and even white bread.  Everyone is important when you add it up, when you balance the equation of relationship and experience love as the answer.

New Mexico kivaIt is not necessary to begin with some abstract concept of love to achieve a positive community relationship.  Start with simple openness to learning about your neighbors.  Allow curiosity to enter.  Be available.  Understand that nothing gets better until you do.  No one learns until you do.  No one works until you do.  No one cooperates until you do.  No one shares, or laughs, or cries until you do.  And ultimately, no one loves until you do.  Those are the universal rules of relationship—out there on alien planets and right here wherever you live.

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Visionary Fiction: The Booker Series Restoration

 

NAKED INTO THE NIGHT book coverLOST IN LAS VEGAS book coverSave the Good Seed coverDead Water Rites coverPSALM MAKER COVER

This blog is quite different from my others.  It’s the kind of blog that an author hopes he or she would never write, but like most changes that at first seem unwelcome, a new way of working has emerged.

My Booker Series novels are considered pioneer books in the Visionary Fiction genre, and I have both written and lectured about that new literature.

The Booker Series began with Naked Into The Night in 1997 when the character Booker walked naked out of his affluent suburban Virginia home to remake himself, journeying cross-country to live among the Pueblo Indians of the Southwest.  The series lasted for 16 years in the book marketplace before the publisher de-listed the books and reverted the rights back to me.

It happens.  A reversion of rights essentially removes the novels from being purchased as print copies or as e-books.  If action is not taken by the author, the de-listed books are in danger of disappearing.

With the help of friends in the book trade, my wife Pat has restored the e-book availability of the four Booker Series novels, and we are excited to announce that she has just added the formerly unpublished fifth book in the series, Psalm Maker: The Journal of Booker Jones.  All of the books are currently available on Amazon, with more e-book platforms to come.

Prior to the de-listing, I purchased a limited number of the trade paperback copies.  The cover price of these four novels was $51.80.  This limited four-book series can be purchased from me at a 50% discount, plus $10 for shipping within the continental USA, for a total cost of $35.80, and each book will have a personal inscription.  For purchase details (sets only), please contact me by e-mail here.

By taking back the rights to the books, we were also able to make all of the e-books available for an affordable $2.99 each.

Please accept our gratitude for your support of the Booker Series over the years.  We hope that keeping the books available will reach a new generation of readers who demand meaningful substance from their literature.  I consider Psalm Maker: The Journal of Booker Jones to be the most important book that I have ever written.

PSALM MAKER COVER  “Without the conditioned past of the mind, the being is able to focus completely on the present, to experience everything as fresh, new, and amazing.  In relationship, the non-judgmental presents no barriers.  It is a quality that others can perceive.  It opens the door to friendship, trust, and affection.  It allows for happiness in every circumstance.”  —Booker Jones

 

NAKED INTO THE NIGHT book coverMonty Joynes is a genuine find by Hampton Roads.  His novel portrays not only a culture, an environment, a political reality, but also a psychological drama that includes gripping scenes like one in which the protagonist makes peace in a bar fight, and another where he becomes a spiritual guide to a friend dying of cancer.  Joynes has written the tale of a man who undergoes a radical inner transformation, walks away from his life as a successful real estate broker, husband, and father, and manifests in his new life as a homeless drifter, the outer life that reflects his inner transformation.  In lucid prose, Joynes narrates as compelling an example of a person choosing essence life and accepting the consequences as you are likely to find in modern fiction.”   —The Independent Press Book Review

LOST IN LAS VEGAS book cover“Lost in Las Vegas continues the story of Naked Into the Night.  After a profound, likely authentic, visionary kiva ritual, the Anglo’s adopted Pueblo tribe elders select him to rescue a young Indian man who is a prodigy of traditional dancing, and a potential successor to leadership, from the lifestyle of a performer in a Las Vegas resort hotel.  The contrast, between the consciousness that the Pueblo traditions propagate and the brilliant distractions of Vegas life, could hardly be more dramatic.  It makes for high drama, genuine spiritual struggle with illusion of various kinds, and excellent reading.”    — The Independent Press Book Review

 

Save the Good Seed cover “We walk with respect around this man, even if he’s white,” says one Pueblo man to another in SAVE THE GOOD SEED by Monty Joynes.  The white man they speak of is Booker Washington Jones, once Winn Conover a.k.a. Anglo Who Became Chief Old Woman’s Son, recently relocated to living in New Mexico among Pueblo compatriots.  In meeting August (“Ray”) Rey, a “Lost Bird” dissociated from his Pueblo people when he was “adopted” into white society 44 years before, readers are brought close to both sides of the alienation issue.  Facts of our government’s anti-Native American history flesh out their story.

 SAVE THE GOOD SEED is also about the touching parallel development of two middle-aged men finally finding themselves at home in a culture completely different from the one in which they were raised.  The warmth of this moving tale offers us the opportunity to actually share in the exquisite joy and solidarity of the Pueblo people coming together to live out their mission:  “In every moment, person or object, is an opportunity for connection.  Our role is to be aware of the potential and bring it into realization.”    —Heidi Rain, New England Spirit of Change Magazine

 

Dead Water Rites cover “What Monty Joynes has accomplished in DEAD WATER RITES, his fourth book in the remarkable Booker series, is the rare joining of a page-turning story line, lively with action and memorable characters, together with a sustained poetic meditation on the power and glory of water in the world.  The spiritual vision, the outward and inner lives of the invincible Southwestern Indians, are beautifully summoned up and celebrated.  DEAD WATER RITES is a powerful story and a pure pleasure to read.”   —George Garrett, Author and Critic

Rare depth and thoroughness…and an intelligent openness to the possibility of vision.”      —Henry Taylor, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet

 

 

 

 

 

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