Sunday, December 25, 2016

"The Day The Revolution Began: Reconsidering The Meaning Of Jesus's Crucifixion"

The Christmas story invites readers, in the words of the carol, to "Hail th'incarnate Deity." The declaration is that God has come to earth in Jesus, that Israel's true King has arrived. But few understood the path Jesus would take, that it would involve not a triumphant military conquest but instead a shameful death on a cross.

Biblical scholar N.T. Wright contends that "the New Testament insists, in book after book, that when Jesus of Nazareth died on the cross, something happened as a result of which the world is a different place. And the early Christians insisted that when people are caught up in the meaning of the cross, they become part of this difference."

Wright explains in "The Day The Revolution Began: Reconsidering The Meaning Of Jesus's Crucifixion" ($28.99 in hardcover from HarperOne; also for Amazon Kindle). (In the book's acknowledgments he mentions a number of colleagues "who have given me the benefit of their experience and insight … even though we still disagree about many things." Among them: Reformed theologian Michael Horton, who grew up in Paradise.)

The book is a popular account of Wright's claim that the death and resurrection of Jesus was the culmination of Jesus' vocation, "the one moment in history on behalf of all others through which sins would be forgiven, the powers robbed of their power, and humans redeemed to take their place as worshippers and stewards…."

Wright insists that the crucifixion is not the story of an angry God, fed up with humans and out to kill them all, with Jesus stepping in at the last moment and taking the wrath upon himself. Instead, "for the early Christians, the revolution had happened on the first Good Friday. The 'rulers and authorities' really had been dealt their death blow."

That makes it possible for humans to "embrace the 'covenant of vocation' or, rather, be embraced by it as the Creator calls you to a genuine humanness at last, calls and equips you to bear and reflect his image" and turn away from misplaced worship of money or sex, "when the power of love overcame the love of power."

Sunday, December 18, 2016

"A Short Golden Life … The Town Of Bidwell At Bidwell's Bar 1848-1860: Volume II"

"In 1998, as a volunteer for the Bidwell Bar Association at Lake Oroville Visitor Center," Chuck Smay writes, "I set up a three-ring binder titled The History of Bidwell's Bar In One Place. … That started a fifteen-year search."

Several years ago Smay published his findings as "Town Of Bidwell At Bidwell's Bar: Boom To Bust, 1848-1860," but now comes a new book, twice as long as the first, with new source material.

"A Short Golden Life … The Town Of Bidwell At Bidwell's Bar 1848-1860: Volume II" ($30 in paperback, published in association with the Butte County Historical Society) is available at the Society's Museum Store, 1749 Spencer Avenue (at Baldwin) in Oroville ( or through ( Additional materials are at The book contains historical photographs, 50 pages of endnotes, and a name index.

In the Foreword, Smay writes: "As you read, allow your senses to hear the distant bells on the freight wagon as it descends the hill into town, and the responding whinny of the horses milling about … sense the terror of the nighttime fire burning the town's buildings as you helplessly watch the destruction."

The book is far more than a collection of historical documents. Smay writes a narrative that weaves together the lives of business and political figures, and ordinary citizens, so that the reader senses the vibrancy of this Butte County mining town.

It was once the county seat but found itself "locked in a bitter political struggle" with Oroville; it was a community which burned twice (in 1854 and again in 1859); and a place which ultimately was inundated by the waters of the Oroville Dam project.

The final chapter details the fate of the Mother Orange Tree, a Bidwell legacy that lives on. The plaque near its protected enclosure in Oroville notes that the Mediterranean sweet orange seedling, first planted at Bidwell's Bar, is in large measure the origin of California's citrus industry.

Smay closes with a sweet confession. The fruit, he writes, tastes "like tangerine" but "more important than the taste was the feeling of being connected with the past!"

Sunday, December 11, 2016

"Searching For The City Of Love"

"I woke up … in a hostel to expect nothing less than to discover the beautiful city of Barcelona. But then I met you. … Maybe the fortune teller forgot to say that if I were to fall in love with a traveler like you, we would wash away in the Mediterranean Sea along with our footprints in the sand."

"Searching For The City Of Love" ($13.99 in paperback from AuthorHouse; also for Amazon Kindle), by Anna Quimpo Maguire (, presents in free verse and prose poems a quiet meditation about love's loss and memory's place. It is a journey of realization.

The eighteen-year-old Paradise author is the owner of a blog called Three States of Mind (, which features her poetry.

She began writing after taking a poetry workshop when she was twelve, and hasn't stopped. In an email, she observes that "free verse poetry gives people the ability to raise their voice without rules. I would wish for young writers to not be afraid to share their work."

In "Searching," the poet comes to terms with what is not to be: "You were my every wish// That I thought would be granted/ But we woke up from our dream/ And the universe pulled you away/ I thought your love was promised to me// You and I never came true."

Each poem is set off as a small chapter accompanied by an evocative image. "Maybe Barcelona should be called the city of love. I've fallen in love with this place, and you've made me love it even more."

But "You left for Morocco this morning, just like I'm leaving to go home to California in 2 weeks. … Our hearts wander just like we do. It's the price you have to pay being a traveler."

And then, in another poem: "You can find magnificence in every part of the world/ Wandering is not measured in distance/ You just have to open your eyes."

"My dreams are embedded in the sand," the poet writes, "I am the waves that collide with the shoreline/ Washing into the land/ I will float away eventually/ And drift to every coast/ To find another dream."

Sunday, December 04, 2016

"The Road To Cherokee: A California Epic"

"September 23, 1880, was a gala day in Chico. … President Rutherford B. Hayes and a party … were entertained by General Bidwell at the Mansion. … The next day, the party visited Cherokee where there was … a great banquet served in the Company's blacksmith shop."

"By 1880, the Spring Valley Company had at Cherokee one of the most completely equipped and largest hydraulic mines in California. This was the giant that Sam Morris and the valley farmers were fighting, in which they spent over ten years of unremitting battle, and success was still not yet in sight."

Sam Morris is the fictional creation of Mary Ray McIntyre King, poet and "the first female attorney in Butte County," who at her death in 1949 in Oroville was working on the final draft of a novel.

"The Road To Cherokee: A California Epic" ($24.95 in paperback from ANCHR, is that novel. It's available at The Bookstore (Chico), My Girlfriend’s Closet (Paradise), Discount Books (Oroville), the Butte County Historical Society (Oroville), and the Gridley Museum. My advice: Get it now.

"The Road" was brought to the attention of the Association for Northern California Historical Research by Jean Whiles, King's granddaughter, and was edited, with explanatory footnotes, a biography of the author, historical introduction, and numerous photographs, by Nancy Leek, Ron Womack, Charles Copeland, and Josie Smith.

It's the first work of fiction published by ANCHR but so rooted in the historical record that it's a must-have not only for fans of historical romance but local history buffs. Why was it that, in 1884, "the whole prosperous system of hydraulic mining went broke overnight"?

The novel begins in 1857 with two intertwined families setting out for "Californy": Sam Morris (who seeks land of his own) and his bride, Becky; and Sam's brother-in-law Tom Norman (who wants gold) and his wife, Cynthia.

King writes in an Afterword that "the Road to Cherokee is now only a country road, … a forgotten road back into the past, and the saga of gold and hydraulic mining, and bitter old feuds and personal tragedies." King brings that emotional story to life. It is a triumph.