Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Tag Archives: God

“The Varieties Of Religious Experience” ~ “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”

Here we are at the Friday Behind The Scenes of Notes from An Alien post.

This is where I reveal my own thoughts and feelings about my short novel, answer your questions, and share scenes that weren’t in the published edition.

Some of these posts have spoilers (this one does) and, if those trouble you, grab a free copy of the novel and take the relatively short time to read its 90-some pages :-)

Last week’s Friday Behind The Scenes was, The Corporate Education of Children and revealed unpublished scenes of a boy growing up on the totally corporate World, Anga.

Today’s post is a set of scenes about a boy growing up on the totally religious World of Anla.

The first quoted phrase in the title of this post is part of the title of a book by the psychologist William James, The Varieties Of Religious Experience: A Study In Human Nature.

The second quoted phrase is the title of a Spaghetti western film that has nothing to do with this post, though the words have much to do with the boy’s experiences

As an intro to the new, unpublished scenes, I offer these quotes from William James:

“Were one asked to characterize the life of religion in the broadest and most general terms possible, one might say that it consists of the belief that there is an unseen order, and our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves thereto.”

“It does not follow, because our ancestors made so many errors of fact and mixed them with their religion, that we should therefore leave off being religious at all.”

No matter what your feelings are about religion, I hope you enjoy the following scenes


He was born just before sunrise.

He didn’t know his parents. They may have been involved somewhat in his early upbringing, or not—that was the way of things.

Everything was shared, no one could claim ownership or possession.

His basic needs were met but just barely.

He would grow into a cautious, untrusting young child.


By the time the boy had reached the age of five, he had become completely dependent on the small clan of children he’d been lodged with.

They were a cohesive band of stunted souls—permitted to wander the main city of the Lord’s Army—given no special notice by the adults.

The most striking event of this period of his life was the Gift to God ritual he observed.

He’d fallen and cut himself many times and cried a bit over it—the people being offered as a Gift to their God were completely silent—blood pouring from the cuts made in their skin—slumping and dying without a sound.

He would wonder long about why they were so willing to die but he would not lose the sealed determination in his heart—they would never do that to him


By the time the boy had reached the age of ten, he was the secret leader of his small band of children.

The priests were intelligent enough to notice the small preferences the other children rendered him and administered extra lessons—periods of repeating the words the priests uttered—repeating many times—accepting silently the blows to his body when he misspoke the chant.

His lack of ability to bend to their wishes eventually had them deciding his banishment—unprecedented for one so young—necessary for the ordering of things


His early time in the Unholy Lands was a trial of wits—a strengthening of clear thought—a life of evading contact with the other sinners

He wondered why these were called the Unholy Lands—such lush fields of crops—never a worry over food—surreptitiously observed people who laughed a lot and never hit each other

He slowly evolved a plan—took a few years to gain the courage to implement it—capturing one of the sinners and questioning them.


It was his fifteenth birthday when he began his interrogation of the sinner—a sprightly  blond woman who hadn’t resisted his manhandling of her, had said lovely things to him as he tied her up, made him feel guilty for the first time in his life

“Woman, be quite!”

She stopped her litany of sweetness.

“Tell me why this is called the Unholy Lands.”

“May I stop being quite?”

“Tell me!”

“You must have escaped from the Lord’s Army territory.”

“They threw me out!”

She had the most melodious laugh. It nearly stunned his senses.

“Forgive me for laughing, we’ve only met youth who escape. You must be a very special person to have earned their expulsion at such a tender age.”


“Throwing you out

He stared at her.

She stared back

She finally said, “You are welcome to our Lands, oh most unholy boy.”

His stare began to melt into tears.


When he was twenty he met the newly arrived Prophet, Akla—the “Promised One” of these people.

He’d worked up seven questions to ask the Prophet—questions to test his authority.

As he entered the hut, his limbs suddenly weakened and the Prophet helped him to a chair.

He was given a cool drink and a cloth to wipe his sweat.

After he was settled, Akla said, “Your first question is why should anyone believe what a Prophet says.”.

He shuddered and began to cry, very softly

Akla’s next words would stay with him for the rest of his life.

“Never believe a Prophet’s words until you’ve subjected them to your best scrutiny. Use the mind and heart God gave you.”
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Words That Give Birth To Words . . .

WARNING: This post contains Poetry

I have a friend named John who writes some of the most amazing poetry–often, so ripe with meaning, I come away gasping for my literary breath.

In response to his poem, “No Longer”, I wrote these words:

“All is
Lost but the
Chance to
Lose it

John then produced …in interaction and appreciation of the poetic words of Alexander M. Zoltai…

I’m going to post the poem right here but first want to say:

When someone honors you for something you’ve written that deeply affected them, don’t consider why they honored you as much as considering why you should honor them :-)

in interaction and appreciation of my comment

Aptly expressed; a delicious thought, actually.
There is unequalled truth to this, the bailiwick
of those who know no doubt that blessings and curses
of this life are in fact inexhaustible, inextinguishable.

What is left then, but Creation, itself? What courage
does it take to approach all aspiration and consummation
in the ashes? Every planet’s doom is reunion with its star;
every star, its own appointment with the beginning

and the end of all that matters and energy’s just what’s left over.
And perhaps this is, after all, the raison d’être
for the inexhaustible,
the indivisible, inextinguishable

pain or sorrow, joy or bliss
within the mansions of this world.
If it is of God, it will last beyond leaving,
and as the longed for inauguration into the Next.

Be it the either which, expressed quite simply,
the Heavens and Earth may cease to exist–
in fact must in the end expire–but His Word
will never pass away, and neither the one

privy to Its existence;
and like all that is, we are in the end,
indivisible, inextinguishable.
Whilst we breathe, so, too, breeds our sacred company,

so, too, our own clear magnification in direct proportion
to recognition of one another and in the reality
of His oneness, our own dear being,
indivisible, inextinguishable.

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We’re Infected by Materiality . . .

Our last post, was a setup to prepare for a series of posts dealing with the tragic split between Body and Soul.

If for some technological reason you can’t scroll down to read that post (and, I hope you have read that post before you continue with this one), it’s also right here.

I usually write these posts in a way that can include the perceptions and sentiments of most people. Today, I must be rather specific in my offering and I may lose a few readers

It began in earnest around 600 years ago. Science, in it’s newest garb was “born”.

It took a little while, since the earliest “modern” scientists still held metaphysics to be an important part of their mental equipment, but a war broke out between the entrenched and materialistic religionists and the new breed of rational explorers.

If the proponents of religion back then had been able to be more rational, science and metaphysics could have had a very fruitful marriage and we might not have inherited metaphysical practices that are completely irrational and scientific establishments that are more concerned with prestige and money than the honesty of actually submitting their “theories” to the rigor of experimentation.

Perhaps you don’t know that much of “science” these days is an orgy of mathematical computation that feeds speculation into the equations then uses the resultant answers as proof.

Perhaps you don’t know that much of religion and metaphysics is floating free of rational thought, lost in a fog of self-importance that preys on people’s fears and insecurities.

“What the heck does any of this have to do with Reading, Writing, and Publishing??

All three of the raisons d’être of this blog depend on words and words are what we think with and respond to emotionally.

In a culture that has hobbled any appreciation for what lies beyond the merely physical and has become attached to a priesthood of materialistic scientists who have abandoned their own best practices, words have their meaning warped–words, too often, are used to attack and befuddle rather than enlighten and comfort.

How would most present-day scientists define the word “value”? What are their thoughts on the word “moral”? Can they, without clear and precise language, think rationally about the forces that effect us but can’t be seen–like gravity?

How do most present-day religionists expect us to respond to a world ordered on the principles of production and consumption of material goods? Shall we shun our bodies? Should we just pray and wait to die? Should we kill other religionists for the sake of our “God”?

I want to quote one of the most practical yet mystical men I have ever read. He uses the word “religion” in this quote but, due to the extreme opinions about that word in our culture, if you need to substitute the word “spirituality” to have it make sense, feel free:

“Religion and science are the two wings upon which man’s intelligence can soar into the heights, with which the human soul can progress. It is not possible to fly with one wing alone! Should a man try to fly with the wing of religion alone he would quickly fall into the quagmire of superstition, whilst on the other hand, with the wing of science alone he would also make no progress, but fall into the despairing slough of materialism.”

~~~ Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 143

So, I’m going to go out on a limb here and ask my readers to tell me what this post really has to do with words and their use in reading, writing, and publishing.

Care to comment?
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Coming Out of The Closet ~ I’m A Poet At Heart

I’ve written what one author friend has called a Documentary Novel which will launch on May 16th.

That will be followed by a Short Story Collection.

I have two other publications that are free to download.

Then there’s my Poetry Book

It was reviewed recently by an author I’ve interviewed on this blog–Joel Blaine Kirkpatrick:

“Don’t be surprised to learn that Alexander is a poet. A fine poet.

“I own his collection from 2005, which he subtitles ‘A Poet’s Struggle With God’.

“This is not poetry in a page, nor in a phrase, or sentence.

“It is poetry within a word.

“Here is my review:

“How many words does it take to say something profound? If you are Alexander M. Zoltai, sometimes only three or four. ‘Is Your Soul in Here?’, is not a question this poet is asking you, the reader. He is asking himself, and listening very hard for an answer. In this book is the silence of rushing waters, the stone-stillness of clouds, the laughter that pain causes, and joy in feeling the search for love in your soul.

“Alexander claims this ‘spiritual struggle [is] an activity best performed alone…’, and he’s listening to hear if God agrees.

“This is a deeply personal writing, dedicated to his daughter–with the simplest expression of pure love that I’ve ever seen in text.

“I wanted to share this, to thank him for those pages. I find them wonderful to know.”
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