Roger DeBlanck's Blog

January 15, 2021

Believing in the Prophethoods of Jesus and Muhammad: A Christian’s Deeper Understanding of God through Islam

I.
I grew up in a family with a loving mother who has been devoted to Christianity her entire life and with a loving father who was baptized Catholic and attended Catholic schools. My parents married in a Catholic church, but neither has affiliated regularly with any particular Christian institution or religious organization. My mother was baptized Methodist, and my parents had me and my sister baptized in a Methodist church. I remember we attended Sunday Bible school off-and-on in my youth, but none of us in our family ever became committed churchgoers or adherents to a specific church’s orthodoxy. At home, my mother versed me in following the Christian tradition of the Biblical stories and in trusting Jesus as my savior. From an early age, I always strove to be kind, compassionate, and caring, and I grew up internalizing the teachings of Jesus—love your neighbors and forgive your enemies—and establishing a spiritual connection with God and the tenets of Christianity: the annunciation, the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the ascension of Christ.

Throughout high school, I retained my Christian beliefs, as I prayed often and found strength and hope in abiding by the teachings of Jesus. As a teenager, I also loved sports along with my love of books and my growing interest in writing, especially poetry. Christ remained prevalent in my life, but my love of literature, which began with my fascination of Shakespeare as far back as middle school, continued to develop in high school when I became a pupil of Whitman, Emerson, and Thoreau. I used to have dozens of Shakespeare’s soliloquies memorized, along with lengthy stanzas from Whitman’s “Song of Myself” and any number of inspirational passages from Emerson’s essays and from Thoreau’s Walden. When my teammates put on their headphones to zone out and hype up for games, I silently recited Shakespeare or Thoreau to gain focus before taking the field, court, or mound. By the time I graduated, however, I began replacing my passion for sports with my other more lasting passion: a commitment to literature and writing. With the countless hours that sports had demanded of me now turned entirely over to my next calling, I began to read so much that my heart and mind expanded at what felt like exponential speeds.

Throughout college, as an English major, my love of literature only grew with my immersion in the British and American canons. Some of my favorites in the British pantheon became Pope, Blake, Wordsworth, Yeats, and Wilde, along with my American heroes of Steinbeck, Hurston, Hemingway, Wright, Hughes, Sandburg, and my very favorite Toni Morrison. I also became fascinated with Dostoevsky, Camus, Borges, Hesse, and Gibran. My quest to read and learn more led me to seek out the immortals of epistemology and philosophy, and I loved the work of Plato, Aristotle, Rumi, Descartes, Kant, Nietzsche, and Foucault among others. Every one of these brilliant minds voiced what it meant to be alive and have purpose in the world. Their ideas and visions enlightened me and further drove my pursuit of what the truth might be to human existence and why we are here. Eventually, my quest for knowledge and understanding cycled me back to religion where I arrived again at my faith in Christianity, which had been examined, stretched, and challenged by all the great writers and thinkers who had given me hope that I could arrive at an answer to the mystery of what life is all about.

II.
The summer after I graduated from college with a degree in English, I decided to read the Bible from beginning to end for the first time in my life, and I fell in love with the humanity of the Gospels much like I appreciated the humanity and realism in Morrison’s novels, in Borges’s stories, in Camus’s existentialism, in Hesse’s mysticism, and in Gibran’s spiritualism. The Gospels felt to me like a beautiful novel, replete with supernatural miracles that make for an inspiring story, about the great life of a great man. At that juncture in my life, I also sought to understand what other people and cultures believed and what their faiths attested to. This began my quest to study world religions, and I came away from that experience not with any abandonment of my Christian beliefs, but rather with an appreciation for other faiths in helping me better understand God and how I might live a more righteous life of peace, compassion, and forgiveness.

Allow me to share with you some of my favorite verses of Holy Scripture. Over the years, these sacred words have given me comfort, strength, hope, and inspiration:

“The angels said, O Mary, God wishes you to rejoice in a Word from Him. His name is the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary. He shall be noble in this world and the next. He shall be one of the favored and shall preach to men from his cradle and in the prime of his adulthood and shall live a righteous life . . . God will instruct him in the Torah and the Gospel and send him forth as an apostle to the Israelites. He will say, I bring you signs from your Lord. I will make the likeness of a bird from clay and breathe into it and it shall become a living bird, by God’s permission. I shall heal the blind man and leper and raise the dead to life, by God’s permission.”

These beautiful, inspirational, and empowering lines of Scripture comprise verses 45-49 from the third Surah in the Holy Qur’an.

I read the Qur’an for the first time shortly after September 11, 2001. I wanted to read it for multiple reasons. First, as I mentioned, I had studied world religions a few years before 9/11 and everything I learned at that time about the faith and message of Islam forbid what the terrorists had done. Second, during my studies of world religions, I saw how the teachings of Muhammad remarkably echoed those of Jesus. Third, I needed to discover for myself that Islam’s Holy Scripture confirmed what I had learned years earlier about Islam’s great message of peace and humanity.

Indeed, the same feelings of love and compassion I gained when reading the Gospels overcame me when I read the Qur’an. In addition, the same as I did when reading the Bible, I suspended concern on the miracles and just tried to focus on the ingenuity of what the Qur’an explained to me about life’s creation, its meaning, and its purpose, and about how to adopt what Muhammad, like Jesus, was teaching me so that I might apply his example of a righteous life to my own everyday words, actions, and deeds. My quest became how could I become a more kind, compassionate, and generous person, and Islam was offering me more guidance that coincided with my Christian beliefs. After reading the Qur’an, the lineage between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam became clearer to me with how the three faiths share Abraham as their forefather. What especially inspired me is how Islam confirmed much of what I already loved and believed as a Christian. Therefore, it became natural for me to embrace Muhammad as having been just as touched and guided by the will of God as Jesus had been.

III.
The Qur’an instructed Muhammad to remind the world about who he was by saying, “I [Muhammad] am nothing new among the Messengers” (46:9). What this means is that Muhammad was reminding us how God had only entrusted him to reveal a message that had no intent to refute or deny the previous Holy Scriptures of the Jewish Torah and the Christian Gospels. Rather, Muhammad’s message sought to validate God’s previous revelations shared by each of the prophets who came before Muhammad, in particular the ministries of Moses and Jesus. One way of understanding Muhammad’s prophethood is to see how he exemplified the knowledge and guidance offered by a great leader, teacher, and reformer.

So in reading the Qur’an, one must understand that God revealed its eternal message to Muhammad who then recited the Qur’an to humankind as God’s last revelation. Therefore, the Qur’an means “the recitation,” and Islam means “submission or surrender to God,” which means a Muslim is “one who submits or surrenders to God’s Word.” Muhammad, a mortal man of the most honorable character, received the Qur’an from God through the angel Gabriel and shared its message as a guide and blessing to the world. And so Muhammad, peace be upon him, served as a messenger of God.

Allow me to share with you a number of verses from the Qur’an that have become important in my life with helping me open my heart more fully and expand my mind more clearly. By doing so, I have increased my understanding of God and how I see God’s relationship with humankind.

1. Our Shared Lineage:
With the Judaic, Christian, and Islamic faiths sharing Abraham as our common ancestor, the Qur’an reminds us, “God gave Moses the Scriptures, and after him God sent other apostles. He gave Jesus son of Mary veritable signs and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit” (2:87). The Qur’an also reminds us, “We believe in God and what He revealed to us through Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Jesus, and the other prophets. We make no distinction among any of them” (2:136). In addition, the Qur’an reveals to us, “Recall that God made a covenant with all the prophets from Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus son of Mary. We received from them a solemn pledge” (33:7). Islam, therefore, has helped me understand that we are all children of Abraham and that each of the prophets has served as our guide for how to embrace God and follow His Word. Moreover, what Islam has inspired me to see is how God’s love and caring for humankind compelled Him to deliver a final message through Gabriel to Muhammad so that Muhammad could teach and guide us back to committing ourselves to the earlier teachings of the all the prophets from Adam to Noah to Moses to Abraham to Isaac to Ishmael to Mary to Joseph and, of course, to Jesus.

2. Our Same God:
The Qur’an enjoins us, “Believers, Jews, Christians, Sabaeans, whoever believes in God and the Last Day and acts righteously, their Lord will reward them. They have nothing to fear or grieve” (2:62 and 5:69). The Qur’an also enjoins us, “Our God is one God and there is no god but Him. He is the Compassionate, the Merciful, and the creator of the heavens and the earth” (2:163-164). In addition, the Qur’an further reminds us, “God enjoined all the prophets to uphold the same religion and not allow men to divide into factions” (42:13). Islam, therefore, helps remind me how we are descendants of Abraham and how we all share Allah (the Arabic word for God) as our supreme Semitic God. Our God is the All-Loving, All-Powerful, All-Compassionate, All-Merciful God of the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims. This makes us all a kindred community to one another, just like the original Muslim community, the ummah, which Muhammad established in the 7th Century where everyone, regardless of differences in religion, was accepted and protected as equal.

3. Jesus United among Us:
In addition to the verses about Jesus from the third Surah that I shared above, the Qur’an also says, “God gave Jesus son of Mary indisputable signs and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit” (2:253). The Qur’an also says, “The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was God’s apostle, and God conveyed to Mary that Jesus would have God’s Spirit and share God’s Word . . . But refrain from saying three in God. God is only one God. Glory be to Him that He should have a son” (4:171). Furthermore, the Qur’an says, “Jesus, the Messiah, the son of Mary, was an apostle just like the other apostles who passed away before him. Mary was a saintly woman” (5:75). So even though Islam does not embrace the concept of the Trinity, I have been enlightened to learn how Muslims embrace Jesus as the Messiah. This means Islam recognizes both Jesus’s divine guidance from God and his ability to carry out miracles, and Muslims revere Jesus as a prophet showing humankind the way to a righteous life. What becomes most inspiring for me to understand is that Muhammad reminded us of how we should embrace the teachings of Jesus, whose ministry of love, peace, nonviolence, forgiveness, and compassion among all people similarly reflects Muhammad’s own teachings.

4. Our Single Narrative:
Regarding the eternal nature of the Qur’an, Surah three says, “God revealed to us the Book with the Truth that confirmed the preceding Scriptures of the Torah and the Gospel, which in them are guidance for humankind in distinguishing right from wrong” (3:3-4). Surah six says, “God revealed the Qur’an as a blessed Scripture and as a verification of what came before it” (6:92). In addition, Surah ten says, “The Qur’an confirms what was revealed before it and explains those Scriptures” (10:37). Furthermore, Surah twelve says, “The Qur’an is a confirmation of the previous Scriptures. It is an explanation of all things. It is guidance and a blessing for the true believers” (12.111). Islam, therefore, has become important in my life because it honors the Torah and the Gospels and confirms and seals their divinity as a single narrative from God that is finalized in the recitation of the Qur’an, which Muhammad shared with us.

5. Regarding Our Differences in Beliefs:
One of the most important and enlightening messages in the Qur’an, I believe, is revealed in the fifth Surah. It reminds us:

“God may have decreed an eye for an eye . . . but if man resists from retaliation and chooses charity, his forgiveness shall atone for him. Transgressors are those who do not judge according to God’s revelations. God sent Jesus, son of Mary, to confirm the Torah and give the Gospel as a guide . . . God also revealed the Qur’an with its truth to confirm the other Scriptures and stand as a guardian over them. For each of you, God assigned a law and method. If God had wanted He would have made you one nation and community, but He wished to test you by that which He bestowed upon you, and so vie with each other in good works, for to God shall you all return and He will resolve differences for you” (5:45-48).

In a shorter verse offering us similar guidance for how to overcome any differences among us, the Qur’an reminds us, “God will bring goodwill between those of you with differences . . . God grants you to be kind and equitable with others. God loves the equitable” (60:7-8). The Qur’an, therefore, has enlightened me with an understanding of how God acknowledges differences among our religions because it is God who intended these differences. God did this so that we would have to learn from each other and live as many nations in peace and understanding.

6. The Diversity among Us:
As I mentioned earlier, the Qur’an enjoins us, “Believers, Jews, Christians, Sabaeans, whoever believes in God and the Last Day and acts righteously, their Lord will reward them. They have nothing to fear or grieve” (2:62 and 5:69). Furthermore, the Qur’an instructs us, “God produced fruits of various colors . . . and likewise He intended humans and animals to be different colors too” (35:28). The teachings and message of Islam, therefore, resonate with my beliefs that embrace the inclusiveness of people from all faiths and races. Islam’s recognition of diversity becomes more profound when studying the life of the Prophet Muhammad, whose compassion and acceptance of all people place him among the world’s first antiracists and make him one of the world’s greatest teachers and leaders.

7. My Embrace of Muhammad’s Prophethood:
The Qur’an reveals to us, “O Muhammad, God sent you as an apostle, a Seal of the Prophets, a witness and bearer of good tidings, a warner, and he is one who calls men to God and guides them to the light” (33:45-46). The Qur’an further reveals, “Muhammad was inspired and was taught the revelation by Gabriel” (53:5). Even for those like me who grew up embracing the Christian tradition and following the teachings of Jesus, I have found great guidance and inspiration in the Qur’an and also the Hadith, the historical record of “sayings” that preserve the words and deeds of the remarkable life of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

Allow me to share a few of my favorite teachings from the Hadith:

Muhammad said, “The best among you is the one who doesn’t harm others with his tongue and hands.”

Muhammad said, “A good man treats women with honor.”

Muhammad said, “Assist any person oppressed, whether Muslim or non-Muslim.”

Muhammad said, “Be kind, for whenever kindness becomes part of something, it beautifies it. Whenever it is taken from something, it leaves it tarnished.”

Muhammad said, “The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr.”

Muhammad said, “Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer? It is keeping peace and good relations between people, as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.”

Muhammad said, “Richness is not having many belongings, but richness is contentment of the soul.”

Muhammad said, “Kindness is a mark of faith and whoever is not kind has no faith.”

Muhammad said, “Make things easy for people and not difficult. Give people good news and bring them joy, and do not turn them away.”

Muhammad said, “Seek knowledge from cradle to the grave.”

And my very favorite words of guidance from Muhammad can be found in his final sermon from 632 CE:

“All humankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, and a non-Arab has no superiority over an Arab. Neither does a White person have superiority over a Black person, nor does a Black person have any superiority over a White person, except by piety and good action.”

IV.
As someone who grew up with beliefs rooted in the Christian tradition, my quest to learn more about how God revealed His Word through other religions has led me to embrace and revere Muhammad because of his ministry of love and compassion and because of the way he accepted people from every race and faith. Studying the life of Muhammad reveals how his humanity enabled his prophethood to establish a community, the ummah, as a state that honored religious freedom, human rights, and protection of all citizens under just laws. These freedoms and rights, moreover, did not depend upon one’s class or race, but rather on the piety and civility that everyone showed to others in the community. Through covenants and treaties and, of course, through his own words and deeds, Muhammad assured that Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others shared the same freedom and equality. With remarkably similar teachings to those of Jesus, Muhammad also taught the power of nonviolence and forgiveness, especially of enemies, because Muhammad understood, just as Jesus understood, how revenge and vendettas have no place in humanity. Indeed, Muhammad’s extraordinary life has inspired me with the example he set of devoting himself to teaching and leading his community on a path committed to kindness, compassion, and peace among people of diverse ethnicities and beliefs.

In reading the Qur’an and studying the life of Muhammad, I have connected what I have learned from Islam with my Christian background. Opening up my heart and mind has enabled me to make more sense of how God intended that we may decide to acknowledge a single narrative of His revelations as part of a Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition. At this point, someone may want to ask me, “What faith, then, do you follow? What do you actually believe in?” My answer may not satisfy anyone, nor will it probably satisfy many Christians or Muslims who may wonder why I cannot choose. That’s why I respond by saying, “I believe in the faith of compassion and forgiveness, and I believe in a loving God who accepts all people who strive to be good and lead a life of good deeds in the name of fulfilling God’s Word as He shared it with each of the prophets from Abraham, to Moses, to Mary, to Jesus, and to Muhammad and the other prophets among them.”

So, yes, I believe in the teachings of Jesus and each of the prophets in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition, which means I embrace Muhammad as a prophet. The supernatural and miraculous events found in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are not as vital to me as living a life of good action, which is what Jesus and Muhammad taught us to do. My understanding of faith may show weakness and failure in the eyes of some with how they live by the Holy Scriptures. For me, however, I fully embrace Jesus and Muhammad as helping me live a better life, and I believe Allah (the Arabic word for God) is the God of all people, whether we are Jews, Christians, Muslims, or another faith.

Therefore, I do not believe in a God who would dismiss Jews and Christians who had questions about Muhammad, nor I do believe in a God who would dismiss Muslims because they do not embrace the concept of the Trinity. Rather, I believe in a God who is loving, compassionate, merciful, and forgiving, and I embrace that the lives of Jesus and Muhammad are perfect examples for us to follow of how to fulfill God’s Word on Earth.

What makes most sense to me is that God loves each of us the same, yet He has presented us with a mystery of why He allows differences to exist among our beliefs. Perhaps, as the Qur’an reminds us in verses 45-48 of the fifth Surah (which I cited above), God is testing our tolerances, and His intention is to see how we chose to learn from one another and how we chose to coexist and treat each other?

I have chosen to open my heart and expand my mind so that I am never absolute about anything to a point or to a degree where I start to see myself or my beliefs as more righteous than others. I have chosen never to declare certainty of any belief other than the mystery that God has given us of offering many paths to finding our grace with Him. That is why I accept and need both Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them, to guide me with answers and truth. That is why I have faith that God may reveal everything to us in the end. If so, that enables me to live without doubt, and instead with hope, that we will have answers from God because we are all children of Abraham. Therefore, I accept everyone as my sisters and brothers, everyone as my kindred.

So if you ask me what I believe about Jesus, I will tell you I do not claim to know everything, and perhaps I do not even know much, but Jesus must have been guided by God, for how else could he have been able to achieve what he achieved?

And if you ask me what I believe about Muhammad, I will tell you I do not claim to know everything, and perhaps I do not even know much, but Muhammad must have been guided by God, for how else could he have been able to achieve what he achieved?

Although I grew up in the Christian tradition, I share with Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others my life’s journey so far of seeking to understand what faith means to me and what God means to me. I also share with you how Islam has enabled me to understand and connect with God more fully and openly than I did when focusing only on Christianity. This does not infer that I’m suggesting to anyone that you adopt my path and change how you feel and what you believe in that brings you comfort and strength. I share my journey and experiences as an example of my growth of understanding God and how I truly embrace the idea of many paths to the same truth of salvation.

As someone who was raised as a Christian, my embracing the message and teachings of Islam has come naturally to me because Islam aligns with so much of what shapes and drives my purpose in life, which is to accept and respect all people with kindness and generosity. Both Jesus and Muhammad guide me to improve my acceptance and treatment of others. I have no reason to question another faith that trusts in God and that asks us to do good by one another. Islam has guided me to better understand what I already believe. Islam has, indeed, helped me confirm and strengthen what I believe in.

V.
Early in 2017 when I began researching for my novel Prayers for the Far Quarter about American slavery and the era of the Civil War, I learned many of those enslaved were Muslims. This marginalized and often unknown fact of America’s past led me back to reread the Qur’an for first time in many years, and once again, as it did years earlier, Islam inspired me to re-engage with my understanding of God and to do so through a story about an enslaved African Muslim.

Allow me to share a brief overview of Prayers from the Far Quarter:

The main character in the novel is named Isa Muhammad Rahman, and his journey honors the sacrifices and contributions of Muslims throughout American history. One of the central messages of the novel is to bring focus to the great peace and compassion at the heart of Islam. My hope is that Isa’s story will increase interfaith dialogue and promote more acceptance among the diversity of our religions and communities.

As someone who grew up in the Christian tradition, one of my passions has become wanting to share with everyone my admiration and reverence of other religions that have opened my heart, expanded my mind, and guided me to becoming a more compassionate and receptive person. In particular, the enlightening message of Islam and the sage teachings of the Prophet Muhammad have inspired me to live a more generous and righteous life. I am hopeful that my novel Prayers from the Far Quarter, along with my social media posts, my Goodreads blog, and the books that I read and review, will serve as platforms to break down barriers of falsehood and misinformation. My hope is to build lasting relations and establish lifelong friendships among people of all races, backgrounds, identities, and faiths.
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Published on January 15, 2021 13:47 Tags: allah, bible, christianity, christians, god, interfaith, islam, jesus, jews, judaism, muhammad, muslims, quran

August 10, 2020

The Importance of Islam in My Life: A Christian’s Embrace of Muhammad

I read the Qur’an for the first time shortly after September 11, 2001. Even before I started reading, I knew that I would not find anything in its contents that would justify what the terrorists had done. I knew this because I had spent a great deal of time studying world religions a few years previously, and during that time my studies led me to admire Islam’s message of humanity and to embrace the sage, compassionate teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. And so as I read the Qur’an, not only did I find verses that entirely forbid and prohibited the acts of the terrorists, I also discovered in its message an inspiring vision for how to live a purposeful and meaningful life. Indeed, reading the Qur’an only strengthened my admiration of Islam and my embrace of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

What I discovered in experiencing the beauty and ingenuity of the Qur’an offered me both inspiration and guidance for how to fulfill many beliefs that I cherish as vital to living an upstanding life: 1) to show compassion for the disadvantaged and underprivileged; 2) to give generously to the less fortunate; 3) to extend kindness towards kindred, neighbors, and strangers; 4) to appreciate others with differing beliefs; 5) to learn how to forgive those who have wronged us; 6) to work towards peace among people and nations; 7) to recognize the vitality of diversity; 8) to practice civility within and among communities; 9) to ensure justice for all people; 10) to strive for equality between men and women and among the many races; 11) to accept others regardless of background, belief, or faith; and 12) to seek knowledge, learning, and reason to improve our lives. (At the end of this essay, I have listed Surah and verse citations from the Qur’an for each of the enumerations above.)*

In addition, studying the life of the Prophet Muhammad and how he embraced people of all races and faiths further inspired me on how to fulfill a purposeful and meaningful life. His ministry of love, compassion, nonviolence, and acceptance of everyone enabled him to establish a community, the ummah, as a state that honored religious freedom, human rights, and protection of all citizens under just laws. These freedoms, rights, and protections, moreover, did not depend upon one’s class or race, but rather on the piety, civility, and humanity that everyone showed to others in the community. Through covenants, treaties, and his own words and deeds, Muhammad assured that Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others shared the same freedom and equality. With remarkably similar teachings to those of Jesus, Muhammad also taught the power of forgiveness, especially of enemies, because Muhammad understood, just as Jesus understood, how revenge and vendettas have no place in humanity. Indeed, Muhammad’s remarkable life inspired me with the example he set of devoting himself to teaching and leading his community on a path committed to kindness, compassion, and peace among all people.

After reading the Qur’an and studying the life of Muhammad, I felt that I could not remain silent whenever I encountered people voicing ignorance and intolerance about Muslims and Islam. Instead, I decided to speak up and attempt to educate people who claimed “Muslims hate America” or “Islam is a religion of violence” or “Muhammad is the anti-Christ.” Many who voiced such falsehoods often claimed their allegiance to Christianity. My initial reaction was to feel shame and embarrassment for these narrow-minded individuals, but then my indignation grew at their ignorance, which I realized was usually based on either their misinformation, their total lack of knowledge, or their assumption of seeing themselves as more righteous than others. After my emotions settled, I remembered how the Qur’an calls for us to restrain our anger, to practice patience, to trust in God, to spread words of good tidings, and to carry out good deeds (Qur’an 2:153, 14:23-26, 25:63). At that point, I sought to lend my knowledge about the truth of Islam with the hope that I may be able to open the hearts and expand the minds of people who did not know anything about Muslims and yet chose to pass harmful judgment against them.

I made clear to them that just as Christianity does not teach hate, Islam does not teach hate. I reminded them that those who harbor hatred of others under Christianity are not Christians, just as those who hate others under Islam are not Muslims. Those who hate and carry out violence against others cannot proclaim themselves Christians or Muslims because the teachings of our same loving, compassionate, and merciful God do not condone hatred and violence. Those who hate are following their own misguided radicalism and extremism; they are not acting in the name of God. In addition, I pointed out to those who maligned Islam that here in America we do not blame Christians in collective fashion for the crimes of those few individuals who carry out acts of hate, terror, and violence under the name of Christianity. Still, I ran into difficulty with opening the hearts and expanding the minds of some people intent on blaming and condemning Islam for the hatred and violence of a few wanton criminals. For years I wanted to write something that both addressed these misconceptions about Islam and also shone light on the humanity and inspiration of Islam’s teachings, but in the immediate years after 9/11, I had no story to guide me in undertaking such an endeavor.

Allow me to go back to my youth. I have always been a reader and a writer. In fact, one of my mantras is to make my reading goals more important than my writing goals. With my daily commitment to reading, I strive to fulfill what my favorite writer Toni Morrison refers to as “dancing” with the mind of another writer when I commit to reading. Indeed, reading and studying are what first brought me to admire Islam and the Qur’an and to embrace the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. But I also dreamed of writing something someday as profound as my favorite book by Toni Morrison. You may be familiar with Morrison’s novel Beloved about a former enslaved woman dealing with the trauma and anguish of her past.

I dreamed of creating a story like Beloved that encompassed the pain, the suffering, and also the hope for freedom of every enslaved and persecuted person throughout America’s history. Morrison’s characters represented the struggle of all oppressed people to endure in their quest for liberty, racial equality, and a just society. I wanted someday to write something that confronted the wrongs of the past and gave voice to those who sacrificed and survived. I knew if I was ever fortunate enough to find a story that encapsulated such a grand vision, it had to address America’s greatest crime of human bondage and its greatest sin—what I call the disease of racism. I wondered if I would ever find a story and a character in which to undertake such an endeavor.

However, I had plenty of other stories in my mind that desired for me to tell them, and so I undertook each project with determination and perseverance. My first novel The Ramos Brothers Trust Castro and Kennedy was based loosely on the hardships of my father and uncle who were born in Cuba and immigrated in their childhood to the United States in 1959. My second novel The Sky Buries All Sorrow was based loosely on the experiences of my grandfather, a World War II veteran who survived Pearl Harbor. My third book Empire of the Mind was a collection of my selected poems. And my fourth book The Destruction of Silence was another novel, its story about a young Native American man on a journey to overcome abuse and addiction and to discover secrets to his family’s history.

Yet even after I wrote those four books between 2001-2016, the story lingering most in my mind focused on American slavery and the disease of racism and bigotry that continues to plague our country. Then in 2017, I started reading the Qur’an again and I asked myself, “When did the first Muslims arrive in America?” The minute I began researching, I discovered how Muslims have always been a vital part of America’s history because many of them had been enslaved. I immediately knew I had to write about this largely untold and marginalized aspect of American history. After a year of researching, I saw a story emerge with a main character named Isa Muhammad Rahman. Over the next three years, Isa’s voice spoke to me as a narrator while I chronicled his journey in my novel Prayers from the Far Quarter.

Allow me to share with you a brief summary of Prayers from the Far Quarter. Isa’s journey begins in 1850 from the Bornu kingdom of sub-Saharan Africa. From his capture in his homeland, to his sojourn in Victorian England, to his enslavement on a cotton plantation in the antebellum South, to his work with the American Anti-Slavery Society in the North, and finally through his sacrifices as a Union soldier, Isa relies on the guidance of Islam to strengthen his humanity as he struggles for survival and freedom. During his efforts to gain inclusion for himself and his family as American citizens, Isa’s journey affords him remarkable opportunities to share Islam’s message of accepting people of all races and faiths. His quest for equality and a just society leads his life on a path where he meets and works alongside figures as majestic and revered as Charles Dickens, Queen Victoria, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman.

With Isa’s voice guiding me, my novel Prayers from the Far Quarter took its course, and as I wrote Isa’s story, my love of Islam grew stronger. Indeed, writing the book became a life-changing experience for me, and so I’d like to share with you why Islam is important in my life and why I embrace the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad with the same love and admiration I have for Jesus, peace be upon them.

Islam is important in my life because it inspires me to understand how God’s love and caring for humankind compelled Him to deliver a final message through Gabriel to Muhammad so that Muhammad could teach and guide us back to following the earlier teachings of the all the prophets from Adam to Moses to Noah to Abraham to Isaac to Ishmael to Mary to Joseph and, of course, to Jesus (Qur’an 2:87, 2:136, 16:43-44, 33:7).

Islam is important in my life because it reminds me how we are all children of Abraham and how Allah is our supreme Semitic God—the All-Loving, All-Powerful, All-Compassionate, All-Merciful God of the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims—which makes us all a kindred community to one another, just like the original Muslim community, the ummah, which Muhammad established in the 7th Century where everyone was accepted and protected as equal (Qur’an 2:62, 2:163-164, 5:69, 42:13).

Islam is important in my life because it embraces Jesus as the Messiah, it recognizes Jesus’s ability to carry out miracles, and it sees Jesus as a prophet showing us the way to a righteous life. And it is Muhammad who reminded us of how we should embrace the teachings of Jesus, whose ministry of love, peace, nonviolence, forgiveness, and compassion among all people reflects Muhammad’s own teachings (Qur’an 2:253, 3:45-49, 4:171, 5:75).

Islam is important in my life because it accepts the Torah and the Gospels and confirms and seals their divinity as a single narrative from God that is finalized in the recitation of the Qur’an, which Muhammad shared with us (Qur’an 3:3-4, 5:45-48, 6:92, 10:37, 12:111).

Islam is important in my life because the Qur’an acknowledges differences among religions and says that God intended these differences so that we would have to learn from each other and live as many nations in peace and understanding (Qur’an 5:45-48, 60:7-8).

Islam is important in my life because of its inclusiveness of all faiths and races and because its recognition of diversity becomes more profound when studying the life of the Prophet Muhammad, whose compassion and acceptance of all people place him among the world’s first antiracists and make him one of the world’s greatest teachers and leaders (Qur’an 2:62, 35:28).

Islam is important in my life because as someone who grew up as a Christian and as someone who follows the teachings of Jesus, I have also found great guidance and inspiration in the Qur’an and the Hadith, the historical record preserving the words and deeds of the remarkable life of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (Qur’an 33:45-46, 53:5, 61:6).

And so I share with you my novel Prayers from the Far Quarter, a project that would not have been possible without the inspiration of Islam to guide me. Indeed, the novel echoes with my love and admiration for Islam and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. And it is through the story of my character Isa Muhammad Rahman that my novel honors the sacrifices and contributions of Muslims throughout America’s struggle to make our country a place where we all belong. And ultimately it is through Isa’s voice that the novel resonates with the great message of peace and compassion at the heart of Islam.

*As enumerated from paragraph two, Surah and verse citations from the Qur’an:
1) 2:177, 2:277, 90:12-16
2) 2:177, 2:195, 2:215, 2:262, 2:270-271, 2:277, 3:92, 30:38-41, 57:7
3) 2:82-83, 4:36-37, 17:26
4) 2:62, 2:256, 60:7-8
5) 3:132-135, 41:34, 42:37-42
6) 5:32, 5:45-48, 6:87, 23:44-52, 42:13, 49:9-11
7) 30:21-22, 35:28
8) 3:104, 3:159, 16:125-127, 21:92, 23:44-52
9) 2:228, 3:104, 5:8, 5:45-48, 16:90, 17:33, 31:17-18, 42:15, 57:25
10) 2:228, 4:1, 4:7-8, 7:189, 15:26-31, 30:21-22, 39:6, 60:7-8
11) 2:87, 2:256, 3:3-4, 5:69, 10:37, 12:111
12) 8:22, 16:125-127, 20:114

Roger 8-)
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Published on August 10, 2020 14:30 Tags: christianity, christians, islam, jesus, muhammad, muslims, quran

July 7, 2020

The Disease of Racism in America: A Short History Addressing Our Nation’s Current State of Disgrace

Racism exists like a contagious disease. It is passed on and passed down generation to generation. However, racism is not a permanent condition; no one is born racist. Racism is taught, learned, and acquired, and racism lives and survives through what a person says and does and supports. A person chooses to be racist. Likewise, a person can also unlearn racism and choose to confront and eradicate it.

Confederates relied on the disease of racism to dehumanize Black people and perpetuate the falsehood that Blacks were inferior. The Confederacy seceded because they demanded the laws remain intact so they could continue enslaving and terrorizing an entire race of people. When reading what Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens wrote, it’s shocking in its preposterous notion that whites are the divine race and Blacks were born for servitude.

As president of the Confederacy, Davis dehumanized Black people as “that very class of persons as property; they were not put upon the footing of equality with white men—not even upon that of paupers and convicts.” As Davis’s vice president, Stephens declared bluntly how the Confederacy believed in “the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” Indeed, everything the Confederacy stood for was racist and based on white supremacy.

We do not need Confederate statues, flags, and mascots that serve only to glorify those who defended the injustice of human enslavement. When we remove Confederate symbols, we are not erasing history, nor are we making it unrecognizable, as Trump is so ignorant, crass, and depraved in claiming. To the contrary, by taking down and banning Confederate symbols and renaming military bases, we have never been more clearsighted in telling the truth and addressing the full measure of our disgraceful past about how the Confederacy sought to continue slavery and entrench white supremacy for future generations.

However, as the necessity of taking down Confederate statues proceeds, it should be done peaceably and not through vandalism. Then these artifacts should be removed to museums where the complete story of America’s history can be clearly addressed with these men exposed for their crimes and their racism. The vital existence of museums and libraries will forever preserve our history for future generations to recall the sordid parts of our past.

As for the Founders, how do we remember them? They sought to establish a republic based on “equality” for all, but they failed in colossal fashion to end slavery. Were the Founders racists? We know many of them did not think of Blacks as their equals. But still most of them knew that slavery was wrong, including Washington and Jefferson, even though they never found a way to release their slaves. History does not exonerate them from their transgressions, but they did not take up arms against America to preserve slavery as the Confederates chose to do.

Then we have Lincoln. He questioned whether the races could coexist, and he advocated for the colonization of Black people. Nonetheless, he knew the evil of slavery could not continue. He led the Union on the right side of history to eliminate human bondage. Plenty of Unionists harbored racists ideas, but a vast majority stood with abolitionism and its mission to emancipate Blacks and strive for equality. Antiracists such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and William Lloyd Garrison fought both for liberating the slaves from the crime of slavery and for ending the more lasting disease of racism in America.

Were the Founders and Lincoln capable of overcoming their racist ideas? They certainly exhibited the minds of individuals capable of unlearning racism. The fact is that they knew how to draw up a government based on the idea of equality, and they also knew the magnitude of trying to preserve a government that represented a vision for serving and protecting all Americans. But when we remember them, we must also point out their shortcomings as human beings and their failures as lawmakers and statesmen.

Over a hundred and fifty years since the Civil War and still Confederate loyalists and segregationists reject racial equality. Now in our current state of disgrace, Trump refuses to take part in ending racism. He chooses instead to align with white supremacists, white nationalists, Neo-Nazis, Neo-Confederates, and Republican racists to fuel hatred, divide the country, and endanger the lives of American citizens of all races, ethnicities, backgrounds, and religions. The most tragic aspect of this current state of racial hatred endorsed by Trump is that he proclaims such hatred during this time of a raging pandemic. As we fight Covid-19, we must also choose to stand on the right side of history that wants to eradicate the disease of racism too.

Roger 8-)
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March 28, 2020

Prayers from the Far Quarter

Prayers from the Far Quarter, my new novel, is now available in trade paperback or on Kindle. It will also be available anywhere books are sold. Many thanks to everyone for your continued interest and support.

Here's the Amazon link:
https://www.amazon.com/Roger-DeBlanck...

Here's the book's description:
Prayers from the Far Quarter is Roger DeBlanck’s most memorable and essential novel to date. Its historical breadth and sweep traverse three continents to chronicle the extraordinary life of Isa Muhammad Rahman, an African Muslim.

Isa’s unforgettable voice and distinct prose style narrate his journey that begins in 1850 from the Bornu kingdom of sub-Saharan Africa. From his capture in his homeland, to his sojourn in Victorian England, to his enslavement on a cotton plantation in the antebellum South, to his work with the American Anti-Slavery Society in the North, and finally through his sacrifices as a Union soldier, Isa relies on the guidance of Islam to strengthen his humanity as he struggles for survival and freedom.

During his efforts to gain inclusion for himself and his family as American citizens, Isa’s journey affords him remarkable opportunities to share Islam’s message of accepting people of all races and faiths. His quest for equality and a just society leads his life on a path where he meets and works alongside figures as majestic and revered as Charles Dickens, Queen Victoria, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman.

In its totality Prayers from the Far Quarter honors the sacrifices and contributions of Muslims throughout American history, and through the voice of Isa Muhammad Rahman the novel resonates with the great peace and compassion at the heart of Islam.

Roger 8-)
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Published on March 28, 2020 11:18 Tags: african-muslims, civil-war, islam, islam-in-america, muslims, muslims-in-america

June 3, 2019

Completing the Manuscript

Over twenty years ago I read Toni Morrison’s Beloved for the first time. Since then I’ve reread the novel at least ten times, and the power of its story continues to haunt me with the aftermath of America’s greatest tragedy: the institution of slavery. I have always wanted to write something where I brought an untold story to life, but not until February of 2017 did the right voice begin speaking to me. What started twenty-seven months ago is now a completed manuscript titled Prayers from the Far Quarter about an enslaved African Muslim. Chronicling the main character’s journey has been a life-changing honor for me. The last four months have been obsessive editing and revision to polish up the work. Now it’s ready for the next stage of querying.

If anyone has been perusing my social media posts over the last two years, you may recall the novel characterizes a handful of historical figures throughout the main character’s journey. These include Charles Dickens, Queen Victoria, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman. I had foreseen at one point perhaps the main character may meet Lincoln or Grant, but it never happened. Regardless, the main character’s journey is a loose composite of many real-life enslaved Muslims and what emerged was his own distinctive voice, sharing the peace and humanity at the heart of Islam. His extraordinary story honors the sacrifices and diversity that make America great.

Roger 8-)
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Published on June 03, 2019 17:07 Tags: manuscript, novel-writing, writing-process

November 3, 2018

Reaching the Midpoint of Writing a Novel

Nineteen months ago I embarked on the journey of my next novel about an enslaved African Muslim. The first fourteen months I spent mostly researching and immersing myself in the subject matter and time period of Islam in Africa, African Muslims, the African slave trade, American slavery, the Civil War, and of course the Islamic faith and what it means to be a Muslim. In June of this year I began drafting the narrative told in the first person voice of the main character, and yesterday I surpassed the 50,000 work mark, which at this juncture in the narrator’s epic journey feels as though the story has reached its midpoint.

My writing and drafting process is not to throw words feverishly onto a page and go over them with enough effort to achieve a reasonable quality so I can quickly move forward. I am a deliberate and methodical writer who contemplates and obsesses as I envision the direction of the plot or more precisely the struggles the main character is guiding me through with his own voice. And so I write and rewrite, write and rewrite, and stop completely when something is not working. Not until the chapter or section or scene feels solid and polished enough do I feel as though I can move ahead with certainty that what I’ve had time to contemplate is the true destination the narrative is heading.

After 50,000 words, the pace of this novel is running about 10,000 per month, which is registering in at a slower pace to complete the “first draft” of this project compared to my other novels. What I have learned from my books is that each of them is like a different child. They behave differently, make different demands, and require me to care for and nurture them in their own unique way. In short, they are beautiful and fascinating and frustrating and exhausting, but I would not want it any other way because I do not have a choice. These works have demanded me to write them.

I’m discovering with this current novel that I need anywhere from 6-12 drafts of each chapter before moving on. This is not to say that I am trying to shortcut any part of the process by doing more rewrites and polishing ahead of the next draft. In fact, as with each project, I am detecting those instances where I know I will have to go back in forthcoming drafts to fix, change, tighten, and polish certain sections and details. I keep a list of the tinkering needed, but overall I am feeling this novel is the strongest work I’ve ever undertaken. This is partly because when you commit yourself to a strong work ethic and you keep focused on the vision of the story, you tend to improve with each effort and challenge yourself more with each project.

This current novel is by far both the hardest and the most enlightening one I’ve ever attempted. As this story develops, the beauty and humanity of Islam is emerging exactly as I knew it would because Islam is such a beautiful and humanistic faith. The language of this first person narration feels as magical and lyrical as anything I’ve ever done, and I owe my love of poetry in my teens and during my early writing days for helping me see history and the world of the past with its every wondrous detail. No matter how hard I work, however, I have doubts. In fact, every book I’ve written has started with doubt and not believing I can do it until I start researching and giving my soul over to hard work which brings about the muse.

What pushes me, keeps me going, and inspires me is reading. Whenever I’m feeling tired, I head to my bookshelf and seek out my heroes: Toni Morrison, Cormac McCarthy, Michael Ondaatje, Albert Camus, Jorge Luis Borges, and the list goes on. At this moment in the story, I’m back to Morrison’s Beloved and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals. Another mainstay in my reading is going back to the Quran and to Reza Aslan’s No god but God.

After a day of feeling exhausted with the demands of this current novel, I’m now refreshed and reinvigorated to head back to the narrative. Reading Morrison should give me the inspiration to do some good work with the hours left in the day.

Roger 8-)
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Published on November 03, 2018 17:10 Tags: drafting, first-draft, novel-writing, reading-books, researching, writing-process

February 25, 2018

Enslaved African Muslims, the Civil War, the Beauty of Islam, and My Next Novel

It’s been nearly a year since my last blog post. In that time, a lot of progress has been made on the journey of what will become my next novel. As I mentioned in my last post from April 7, 2017, this new project will focus on the antebellum and Civil War era and most specifically on enslaved African Muslims. Historians estimate about 15-20 percent of those enslaved in America devoutly practiced Islam, even against all the direct and indirect forces that tried to make them abandon their faith. West Africa and its great civilizations and kingdoms—where many of the African Muslims were originally captured during the slave trade—were greatly influenced by the Qur'an and Islamic teachings. Learning and education were valued greatly in these African kingdoms, so enslaved Muslims were often highly literate and extremely intelligent.

Over the course of the last year, I owe tremendous gratitude to dozens of writers and books for shaping my understanding and vision for this next novel. With most of the grassroots research completed, my task over the past two months has been typing up, organizing, studying, and reviewing the hundreds of pages of notes and ideas I’ve accumulated. Not only has my research immersed me in the Civil War era, plantation life, the slave trade, and the unspeakable crimes of the institution of American slavery, my focus has also been overwhelmingly drawn to the beauty and intellect of Islam. During this last year, I reread the Qur'an for the first time since 9/11. As I experienced it then, I again found the Qur'an full of its inspiring message of love, compassion, and generosity. The entire purpose of Islam is a profound commitment to God—the only One from whom we came and to whom we shall return. Submission to God’s love through prayer, kindness, mercy, and unwavering charity make up the foundation of what it means to be a Muslim.

Anyone who claims Islam endorses violence is wrong. Nowhere in the Qur'an or in the Prophet Muhammad’s life is violence condoned against innocent people. In self-defense, one may protect one’s self, but that is only if you’re denied by another the right to worship God in your own way and follow the path of righteousness as set out so beautifully by the Prophet. Otherwise, peace is the answer and all should be forgiven. The word of God should be offered, but it can never be forced upon anyone because Islam prohibits any compulsion of religion. Muslims revere each of the Old and New Testament prophets as divine vessels of God’s love. It was Muhammad who God entrusted to deliver His final message to humankind through the words set forth in the beauty of the Qur'an. And so the Qur'an says to pray for peace and grace, give to the underprivileged and less fortunate, and show mercy to everyone, including one’s adversaries and especially to anyone who may believe differently from you. That is the life the Prophet lived and the message he shared.

Moreover, no religion throughout its history has valued women more than Islam. (For more information read Reza Aslan’s No god but God or Carla Power’s If the Oceans Were Ink.) Muhammad’s original Muslim community, the Ummah, made women instrumental in leadership and learning. The same happened in the West African kingdoms where Islam made its influence beginning in the 11th century. Women were scholars who played a central part in teaching and learning. My next novel will celebrate the beauty and wisdom of Islam through enslaved Muslims, but their story will be much more. It will confront slavery’s crimes, it will encompass the Civil War, and it will have a Muslim as the protagonist showing humanity the path to a better life. At this point, all I know is that each day this project lives in my heart. Every day I make a little more progress, and that is the commitment to the journey. I’m hopeful to begin drafting soon.

Roger 8-)
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Published on February 25, 2018 14:35 Tags: american-slavery, antebellum, god, islam, muslims, novel, the-civil-war, writing

April 7, 2017

Starting My Next Novel

Last year after finishing The Destruction of Silence, I wondered whether I’d ever have another book in me. “How can I ever push myself more than I did with that novel?” This question had been haunting me for months. The emotional drain of completing The Destruction of Silence hit me hard. I was separated from the characters of Thomas and Great Star for the first time in three years, and it hurt to the point where I broke down and wept. I started to think I could never again experience anything with that type of intensity. I realized, however, my emotions were similar to the way I’d felt after finishing my other books.

But something was different with finishing The Destruction of Silence. The pain and redemption of that story made me nervous about ever wanting to commit to another work if the new work was unable to produce the same emotional impact. Seven months after the book was released, I had no new project on the horizon. With the completion of my other books, I found myself immersed in a new idea within a few months. But not until last week did the idea for my next novel come to me. It now feels as powerful as anything I’ve ever considered writing about. The root of this new story is now firmly planted in my heart, and it’s beginning to course through my blood, and so I have no choice but to undertake this next journey. What’s most interesting is that this new idea has been stored in my head for over twenty years. But only in the last week have I been able to see it clearly after all these years.

This next novel will take place in the antebellum south and will cover American slavery and the Civil War years and its aftermath. More specifically, it will deal with enslaved African Muslims and the presence of Islam in America during the Civil War era. That’s all I know right now, but I will be charting my progress with all of you over the next two, three, four, or however many years it takes to tell this story. I realize I'm on the verge of the most challenging endeavor I’ve ever undertaken, and thoughts of fear and doubt are swirling, but mostly I’m driven by the need to relive the past and tell this story. The decision is not mine. The story must be told. I can hear the great Irish poet Seamus Heaney echoing to me, “Get started, keep going, and get started again.” So I’m on my way.

Roger 8-)
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Published on April 07, 2017 15:04 Tags: novel, novel-writing, novels, read, reader, readers, reading, write, writer, writers, writing

September 23, 2016

The Destruction of Silence -- My new novel is now available.

The Destruction of Silence is my new novel, and it is now available in trade paperback or on Kindle from Amazon. It is also available in paperback anywhere books are sold. The links to Amazon and B & N are below. I've also included a link to the book's trailer.

https://www.amazon.com/Roger-DeBlanck...

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-d...

https://www.goodreads.com/videos/1094...

Here's the novel's "book jacket" description:

In his most accomplished novel to date, Roger DeBlanck delivers an unforgettable contemporary story of a young Native American man on the road to recovery. Abuse and addiction have ruined Thomas Newsome’s youth, but he refuses to follow the wasted path of his father, Gilbert. After Thomas narrowly avoids tragedy, he vows to get clean and stay that way. Before he can bury his past and move on, he wants answers from his father for why he never changed. But then Gilbert falls ill and takes off on a personal journey. With only a handful of clues from his Apache past, Thomas sets out on a quest to track down his father. Along the way, he meets an elderly Native American sage by the name of Sons-in-jah. While traveling with the old man deep into the heart of Apache country through Arizona, New Mexico, and across the border, Thomas’s search for his father becomes an odyssey of self-discovery and an excavation into the roots of his Mescalero ancestors and the truth of his family history. The native individuals he meets and the enchanting places he visits will forever alter his perspective on life. In going from destruction to redemption, Thomas learns how the Apache spirit within him can lead towards a meaningful purpose in life. The Destruction of Silence is a heartfelt novel of remarkable beauty and compassion. It will sweep you up, carry you along, and leave you bereft and ultimately uplifted.

Roger 8-)
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March 31, 2016

The Destruction of Silence -- My New Novel's "Book Jacket" Description

Writing a novel is mostly hard work, dedication, and staying committed to your vision. But one of the toughest components is putting together the summary. Below is the most updated "book jacket" description of my new novel, The Destruction of Silence, due out in September. Let me know how it sounds.

Roger 8-)

In his most accomplished novel to date, Roger DeBlanck delivers an unforgettable contemporary story of a young Native American man on the road to recovery. Abuse and addiction have ruined Thomas Newsome’s youth, but he refuses to follow the wasted path of his father, Gilbert. After Thomas narrowly avoids tragedy, he vows to get clean and stay that way. Before he can bury his past and move on, he wants answers from his father for why he never changed. But then Gilbert falls ill and takes off on a road trip. With only a handful of clues from his Apache past, Thomas sets out on a journey to track down his father. Along the way, he meets an elderly Native American sage by the name of Great Star. While traveling with the old man deep into the heart of Apache country through Arizona, New Mexico, and across the border, Thomas’s search for his father becomes an odyssey of self-discovery and an excavation into the roots of his Mescalero ancestors and the truth of his family history. The native individuals he encounters and the enchanting places he visits will forever alter his perspective on life. In going from destruction to redemption, Thomas learns how the Apache spirit within him can lead towards a meaningful purpose in life. The Destruction of Silence is a heartfelt novel of remarkable beauty and compassion. It will sweep you up, carry you along, and leave you both bereft and ultimately uplifted..
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Published on March 31, 2016 15:26 Tags: apache, apaches, book-jacket-description, native-american, novel, summary, writing