Category Archives: Uncategorized

On Presidents, Promises, and Penitence

This was first published in February of this year. Seems appropriate for Independence Day, Mount Rushmore, and the toppling of statues and our nation’s history. I give thanks for our country, unique in all the world, a beacon of light on a hill, indeed exceptional, a country that makes sense. May her flag fly high for all to see. God bless America.

Christine Sunderland

Klavan.The Art of Making SenseI am reading Andrew Klavan’s The Art of Making Sense, Writings and Speeches 2019. This is not a book about writing to make sense (which I thought at first and probably need), but a book about personal coherency found in a consistency of character, speech, and action. He is speaking of lives that make sense and heroes that make sense, ways of living that make sense. When they don’t make sense, when one part acts in contradiction to another, there is a brokenness, a fissure or fracture of personality. We might call this hypocrisy, for we sense deeply that there is a grand logic to living, to life.

We are driven to create, mirroring our Creator, and this drive is part of the coherency we struggle to achieve. It is this drive, this love of life—human life and all creation—that has been implanted in each of us, that is…

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Our Family of God

American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) has published Christine’s post today, “Our Family of God,”  how Christian storytellers are called to banish racism and welcome all into our family of God. Thank you, ACFW!

Angel Mountain: Feathered Quill Author Interview

Diane Lunsford of Feathered Quill interviewed Christine about her new release, Angel Mountain, today’s challenges, the writing life, and more. Click here to read the full interview.

Author Interview: Christine Sunderland

 

Angel Mountain: New Review by Feathered Quill

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Christine Sunderland delivers a quest for peace and happiness in her latest novel, Angel Mountain.

Destiny plays a vital role in the crossing of paths for each of the characters in this story. Eighty-year-old Abram is a hermit. He lives in the caves of ‘Angel Mountain’ (Mount Diablo), located in the hills of Berkeley, California. He’s had a difficult life beginning with his survival of the Holocaust. His sister Elizabeth is also a Holocaust survivor. Together they managed to survive the horrors of the Hitler regime while hiding in Greece. When their opportunity to flee to America presented itself, they wasted no time in making the journey. Once in America, they have fulfilling teaching careers, convert to Christianity and if it all seemed to be too good to be true, this is more than a cliché sentiment toward the end of their respective lives.

Catherine is a library specialist. She and her colleagues have different points of view and were consistently able to agree to disagree until one day they didn’t. Catherine is the sole person on one side of the latest debate while all her co-workers have taken a stance against her. When she is called into Human Resources, she is advised to change her approach and views. In the heat of the moment, Catherine opts to stay true to her beliefs and resigns.

Dr. Gregory Worthington is a brilliant geneticist and he too is at the headwaters of significant change in his career. In a recent lecture at UC Berkeley (his employer) he elects to broaden his scientific views by including religion into the curriculum. When the University Administration learns of his election to do so, without absolute cause to terminate his employment, they recommend an open-ended leave of absence for the good Doctor. To support their suggestion, the spin is it will provide ample opportunity for him to complete the writing of his book.

Each character is awakened by an Act of Nature in the form of an earthquake. Preceding the earthquake, the Bay Area has been under a thick blanket of smoke and haze from the aftermath of multiple fires. However, the haze seems to sit at the base of Angel Mountain. Elizabeth is worried about her brother Abram. He lives in the caves in the heart of Angel Mountain. It’s his calling and he is bound by his Christian faith to remain there. He believes he is Christ’s conduit to share God’s message of hope and once done, he will be called home to his Heaven. Elizabeth has a strong faith but is more concerned about her brother’s survival from the elements. The first coming together of Abram, Elizabeth and Gregory occurs when Gregory is hiking in the foothills and takes a fall. It is the same day Elizabeth takes a drive to the mountain to check on Abram. Meanwhile, out of work Catherine’s luck is changing when she notices an ad for a librarian to organize an extensive personal library. The library happens to be in Elizabeth’s home. There is one other character who lurks behind the scenes causing mayhem. His name is Malcolm Underhill III. His life’s mission is to create havoc and cause harm to as many good Christians as he can. The day of judgment is rapidly approaching all.

It was a pleasure to read Angel Mountain. There is a common theme that resonates throughout this read: a strong message of faith. Perhaps it’s a bit too cheeky to say how appropriate it is to have a body of work like Angel Mountain in today’s climate, but it is. The depth of character development and the consistent overlay of supporting fact with fictitious characters is uncanny.

By no means is this a novel that is the equivalent of a multitude of pulpit pounding moments. Rather, it is a well thought out balance between the clashes of good and evil which, in my opinion, is something every human encounters often throughout his or her life. Ms. Sunderland has documented her use of fact with solid endnotes. She also includes an “Author’s Notes” section to not only render her view on what ‘Heaven’ and its many metaphors represent; again, documenting the research she did to formulate such notes with the sources she referenced in doing so. Angel Mountain is a complex read in many respects as there are bountiful moments for pause and reflection. I commend Ms. Sunderland for staying true to her pen and delivering such a compelling read.

Diane Lunsford, for Feathered Quill

Quill says: Angel Mountain is a body of work that delivers a well-seated message of hope and peace in some uncharted waters in today’s tumultuous world.

A Tale Worth Telling

Christine Sunderland reviews DUTCHESS COUNTY: A SCREENPLAY by Michael De Sapio

DUTCHESS COUNTY: A SCREENPLAY is a moving, cinematic, meaningful biopic of Washington Irving (1783-1859), credited with being the first American “Man of Letters” and the Father of the American Short Story. We glimpse a pivotal time in American history—pre-Revolution to post-Revolution, the “Age of Reason” to the “Age of Romanticism.” Irving bridges the Old World of Europe and the New World of America. He influenced many of the nineteenth century English great writers—Scott, Dickens, Thackeray—and in America, Longfellow. American literature gained respect (finally, and perhaps grudgingly).

Irving narrates through voice-overs, depicting dream and fantasy sequences in which he plays a role in the story he is writing. The device allows us to enter Irving’s imagination, while placing him in the historical context of his times. We see the miracle of the story—when the reader lives in the telling.

We see Irving’s use of folk tales and local legends that surround Tarrytown in New York State. These become his stories, and as he listens to local tales, the power of the oral telling is evident. We see the Catskill Mountains, the Hudson River valley, Sleepy Hollow, as well as New York City. We see him write the “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle.” Rip Van Winkle, we recall, falls asleep before the American Revolution and awakes twenty years later, after the Revolution. He has suffered a “little death” and resurrection. He returns to his village an old man, a new world surrounding him. He falls asleep in Sleepy Hollow, where ghosts of the original Dutch settlers gather. He awakes having missed the turning point in the history of the Western world, the birth of the New World. Are we asleep today, detached from our history?

Heroes and history are central. Washington Irving, named after George Washington, meets the president as a boy, and George Washington blesses him. Irving’s last work is a five volume biography of George Washington. After time spent with the Iroquois, he states, “It strikes me that our country, young as it is, has a real history behind it. It shall be my task to tell it, and to give voice to its divers people.” His friend Allston states, “You have showed us the value of our history, traditions and legends.” His friend Rebecca tells him it lies with him to save—give birth to—American literature.

The scenes depict a world of ideals, virtue versus vice born of the Judeo-Christian tradition: work versus idleness, business versus pleasure, truth versus lies, bravery versus cowardice, fortitude versus weakness, with the implicit judgments. Christianity forms a background, in conversation about belief and unbelief, in moments of prayer before a white cross, in the claim that without belief one cannot be an artist. For artists must depict suffering redeemed by beauty and truth, darkness turned into light, hope silencing despair. As Irving reads from his beloved’s Bible, left to him after her early death, he moves from darkness into light. He states later, “I am sure that Matilda lives.”

There are many lovely moments in DUTCHESS COUNTY. Upon return from England, Irving writes of the festivities of an English Christmas, not seen in Puritan America. He introduces St. Nicholas flying through the night sky, made famous by Clement Clark Moore in “The Night Before Christmas.”

Thank you, Michael De Sapio, for Washington Irving has been brought back to life, framed in an immensely important conversation about faith, history, virtue, and the miracle of storytelling touchingly and sensitively portrayed. I look forward to the film!

Christine Sunderland

 

Angel Mountain, New Review by Michael De Sapio

A Contemporary Novel of Timely Relevance

Christine Sunderland’s ANGEL MOUNTAIN is a contemporary novel of timely relevance and timeless spiritual themes. We meet four main characters: an elderly religious hermit and his sister, both of whom survived the Holocaust in Greece; a young librarian out of a job because of ideological intolerance; and a Christian geneticist with a passion for proving the harmony of science and faith. Sunderland skillfully weaves together the lives of these four people against a backdrop of cultural tumult and the volatility of the northern California landscape. As college protests and Antifa-inspired terrorism rage at UC Berkeley, the hermit Abram leads a religious revival from atop the numinous Angel Mountain. Earthquakes and storms threaten, portending an apocalypse. Our characters search for answers and peace in this confusing world, relying on the grace of God and the accumulated wisdom of Western civilization.

ANGEL MOUNTAIN is a uniquely modern and uniquely personal novel, interwoven with places and things familiar to the author. Sunderland’s writing is rich in sensory imagery and also takes ample time for intellectual discussion; the topics touched upon include Intelligent Design, the natural moral law, the American founding, and the Pythagorean harmony of the spheres. While underpinned by a strong conservative philosophical worldview, the novel presents its case in a thought-provoking way that will be compelling to a wide range of readers. Most remarkable is the way ANGEL MOUNTAIN combines contemporary issues with a respect for history and a love of beauty. Sunderland sustains our interest right through the gripping, mystically charged denouement in which we see heaven and earth meeting and eternity intersecting with time. This fascinating novel comes strongly recommended.

Michael De Sapio

Michael is an essayist and the author of two screenplays, The Incredible Life of Joey Coletta and Dutchess County.

 https://www.amazon.com/Incredible-Life-Joey-Coletta/dp/1983126632

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1079116516

Angel Mountain: Reader Views Author Interview

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Reader Views Author Interview about writing and reading and Angel Mountain has been published today by Sheri Hoyte, Managing Editor, Reader Views.

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We spoke of the release of Angel Mountain by Wipf and Stock Publishers under their Resource Publications imprint, the pandemic, the current unrest, and other concerns shadowing America today.

Angel Mountain is available from the publisher, Wipf and Stock, as well as online retailers, including Amazon.com.

 

Review of Angel Mountain by Reader Views

Angel Mountain
Christine Sunderland
Resource Publications (2020)
ISBN 9781725259805
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (06/2020)

“Angel Mountain” by Christine Sunderland is a captivating contemporary novel encompassing issues relevant in today’s world along with the timeless conflict of good versus evil, all wrapped up in a message of grace, love, and hope.

The story follows four characters whose fates intersect on a mountain – Mount Diablo, a magnificent landmark in the San Francisco area. Abram Levin is an 80-year-old hermit who lives in a cave on the mountain he dubs Angel Mountain. It is on Angel Mountain where Abram preaches the words of happiness, love, and grace. It’s also where he meets and rescues Gregory, a Christian geneticist who falls off the mountain trail while hiking one morning. Elizabeth, Holocaust survivor and Abram’s older sister, lives on an estate at the foot of Angel Mountain. Elizabeth hires Catherine to sort and catalog her extensive home library. Brought together by fate, circumstance, and divine intervention, the short time spent together on Angel Mountain changes the course of these four lives for eternity.

“Angel Mountain” is a fascinating, thought-provoking novel. Rich in Christian influence, fans of Christian fiction will devour this story. Its comprehensive passages also offer teachings of the faith for those interested in learning more about the message of Christianity. What I enjoyed most are the different elements Sunderland introduces, such as science, suggesting that faith and science go hand-in-hand and should be considered together. One example is an incident considering the source of light coming from the hermit, Abram’s cave: “Uncreated love, the energy of creation. Light in the darkness. Even the Big Bang, the forming of the stars and constellations, the sun and the moon. Uncreated energy. Uncreated love. We don’t have the words – theological or scientific – to describe the indescribable.”

Sunderland writes with a flair that inspires readers to dig deep within themselves to consider alternate views, beliefs, and opinions with respect and without judgment. Such an important message in our current volatile era. From immigration and individual freedom, to the choices we make, to observations about heaven and eternal life, “Angel Mountain” by Christine Sunderland hosts issues inspiring people to be their very best through vivid imagery, endearing characters, and an enticing plotline. Highly recommended reading!

Endorsements for Angel Mountain

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“In Angel Mountain, Christine Sunderland has created a gripping and theologically rich novel, in which four remarkable people make their way through a shifting cultural landscape ringed with apocalyptic fire, revolutionary politics, and end-times expectancy.”

–Wilfred M. McClay, University of Oklahoma, author of Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story

“Angel Mountain, which the world calls Devil Mountain, is beyond the reach of the secular city of Berkeley. There is a man living on the mountain who speaks of heaven and hell and good and evil. Just raising these topics is enough to spark concern and violence in his audience. Meanwhile, the world of 2018 is on fire, both literally in the countryside and spiritually in the minds and hearts of the characters of this quietly apocalyptic novel. Perhaps when the world does end, it will end both physically and spiritually at the same time. If so, Christine Sunderland’s Angel Mountain shows how to live in the midst of disaster and how lives can be remade if we have bold enough hearts. Read if you dare!”

–Paul Russell, author of Looking Through the World to See What’s Really There

“I have a certain shelf of books that I intend to read more than once. Christine Sunderland’s latest novel, Angel Mountain, is one of those books that will go on that shelf, for I will read it again. It is not a paint-by-number book. It is a Van Gogh, with poetic hues, chroma, colors, and shades brilliantly flowing in and out from one another creating a literary painting one will not soon forget.”

–Fr. Seraphim, Elder, Nazareth House Apostolate, Taylorsville, Kentucky

Purchase from:      Amazon          Wipf and Stock Publishers

Angel Mountain Published

I am happy to announce that Angel Mountain, my seventh novel, has been published by Wipf and Stock Publishers and is now available on the website as well as Amazon. Many thanks to all who have encouraged this effort over the last two years! The setting is our own Mount Diablo, east of San Francisco, with scenes also in Berkeley and St. Joseph’s Chapel near the university.

Description:

A holy hermit, a Holocaust survivor, a literary librarian, and a Christian geneticist search for peace and happiness in a culture of chaos. Hermit Abram, eighty, and his sister Elizabeth, eighty-four, escaped the Holocaust in Greece and made it to America as children. Elizabeth retired from teaching high school Western Civilization, and Abram, who retired from teaching classics at U.C. Berkeley, converted to Christianity and retreated to Angel Mountain to pray with his icons for the world and preach from the mountainside. Elizabeth hires Catherine, thirty-three, to sort her home library. When Gregory, thirty-seven, a geneticist supporting intelligent design, falls from the mountainside and is rescued by Abram, these four lives are changed forever. The earth quakes, fires rage, and lightning strikes, as antifa protestors threaten the hermit and his friends. Angels bridge Heaven and Earth, and eternity intersects time. Is this the end of the world? Is the kingdom coming?

Endorsements:

“In Angel Mountain, Christine Sunderland has created a gripping and theologically rich novel, in which four remarkable people make their way through a shifting cultural landscape ringed with apocalyptic fire, revolutionary politics, and end-times expectancy.”

–Wilfred M. McClay, University of Oklahoma, author of Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story

“Angel Mountain, which the world calls Devil Mountain, is beyond the reach of the secular city of Berkeley. There is a man living on the mountain who speaks of heaven and hell and good and evil. Just raising these topics is enough to spark concern and violence in his audience. Meanwhile, the world of 2018 is on fire, both literally in the countryside and spiritually in the minds and hearts of the characters of this quietly apocalyptic novel. Perhaps when the world does end, it will end both physically and spiritually at the same time. If so, Christine Sunderland’s Angel Mountain shows how to live in the midst of disaster and how lives can be remade if we have bold enough hearts. Read if you dare!”

–Paul Russell, author of Looking Through the World to See What’s Really There

“I have a certain shelf of books that I intend to read more than once. Christine Sunderland’s latest novel, Angel Mountain, is one of those books that will go on that shelf, for I will read it again. It is not a paint-by-number book. It is a Van Gogh, with poetic hues, chroma, colors, and shades brilliantly flowing in and out from one another creating a literary painting one will not soon forget.”

–Fr. Seraphim, Elder, Nazareth House Apostolate, Taylorsville, Kentucky