* Journey Out Of Nothing: My Buddhist Path to Christianity
Journey Out Of Nothing: My Buddhist Path to Christianity
While in my twenties and thirties, and living in Japan, I became deeply involved in Zen Buddhism. So much so that I co-authored a reference work on the subject, “Zen Guide.”
Now I attempt to explain the attraction of Buddhism to myself and to other young Westerners. I also recount – often in amusing detail – some of my adventures.
I became possibly the first Westerner to complete a famous pilgrimage to thirty-three temples in northern Japan. On another pilgrimage I spent three days hiking through some of Japan’s holiest mountains, sometimes standing under frigid waterfalls in purification rituals. I stayed at famous monasteries, often participating in morning worship services full of dazzling ceremonies.
I introduce some of the fascinating people I met. These include the young priest who lived and meditated in a giant soy sauce barrel; the professor who devised “commuting Zen” meditation for his strap-hanging one-and-a-half-hour rail commute to work each day; and the American advertising executive who became head of his own Japanese Zen temple, a place where Caroline Kennedy, now US ambassador to Japan, stayed during her honeymoon.
But I also explain why my interest in Buddhism began to fade, and why, today, I am a Christian.
This short book (18,000 words), part travel adventure, part memoir, part spiritual odyssey, will entertain and inform.
Chapter One – First Steps
Chapter Two – Learning about Buddhism
Chapter Three – A Series of Newspaper Columns
Chapter Four – Writing a Book
Chapter Five – Zen Adventures
Chapter Six – Was I a Buddhist?
Chapter Seven – Kyoto
Chapter Eight – Heading North
Chapter Nine – Christian Zen
Chapter Ten – Buddhist Art
Chapter Eleven – Doubts
Chapter Twelve – Becoming a Christian
Chapter Thirteen – Buddhism and the Book of Ecclesiastes
Chapter Fourteen – Talking with Buddhists
Love, Justice and Power: The Message of Passover for Christians
Passover is a Jewish celebration of the mighty acts of God in liberating the ancient Israelites from slavery in Egypt. But it is also much more. For the events that culminated in Passover tell us a momentous story about God’s power, His love for His people and His justice.
Yet there is even more. Because Passover is a story with a particularly deep and resounding message – that God’s mighty act in redeeming the Israelites foreshadowed another, even mightier, act, when He would come to Earth in the form of a baby. And this time He would redeem the entire world.
Read this short ebook and be inspired and encouraged that our God is a God of love, justice and power.
What does God really think about war? This short devotional (7,600 words) is based on the resounding words of Psalm 18 – in which David praises God for victory in battle – to examine some of the ethical issues of Christianity and warfare.
The author asks questions such as when can a Christian soldier kill? How are we to understand some of the bloodthirsty passages of the Old Testament? Does God still provide guidance to military commanders, as He did in Old Testament times? What does a Christian do when ordered on a suicide mission?
And he provides some surprising answers. He includes testimonies from modern-day military leaders who have clearly heard God speaking to them at critical times of battle.
And did you know that some of the Japanese kamikaze pilots – who deliberately crashed their aircraft into American warships during World War II – were devout Christians? How did they reconcile their actions with their faith?
But ultimately this devotional is about the spiritual battle faced by every Christian. It is for all those who have been challenged by the stirring words from the Book of Ephesians:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
BROTHER HALF ANGEL THRILLERS
These international thrillers focus on the persecuted church. They feature Brother Half Angel, an abrasive former military man who heads a clandestine new military order that is dedicated to fighting for the rights of persecuted Christians around the world.
Brother Half Angel is dispatched urgently to China, where an underground seminary is under siege from fanatical sword-wielding members of a local cult who still pay homage to the bloodthirsty extremists who tried to expel all foreigners from China in the nineteenth century.
But at the same time the seminary has its own internal divisions. The director, Uncle Ling, a hero of the underground Chinese church, holds secrets that he cannot reveal. And now the tensions are threatening the marriage of idealistic young American missionaries Daniel and Jenny Westloke.
But it is also a book that raises serious questions – how far can Christians go to defend themselves? When should they turn the other cheek? What happens when a Christian kills in self-defense? And should those who live by the sword really expect to die by the sword?
The Maria Kannon
Luiz Kim, angry and unsettled since being thrown out of the Marines, decides to seek out the sister he has not seen in more than twenty-five years. He makes contact. But, after flying halfway around the world to Japan for an emotional reunion, he is stunned to learn that she has just been murdered in church, while at prayer.
A killer is on the loose, and it is clear that he is targeting members of the small church community. But why?
Luiz is determined to use his military background to hunt down the killer. And quickly it becomes apparent that the key is a mysterious card left at each murder scene – a card depicting the Maria Kannon, a statue of a Buddhist deity that was once revered by persecuted Japanese Christians.
As the stakes go higher Luiz is forced to confront his notions of what it means to be alive. And whether he is ready to die.
Matt was the solid one of his family – successful student, good husband and father, devoted missionary. The rock on which many churches would have been built. By contrast, elder brother Rafa is the troublemaker – sharp-tongued and only too well aware of his gifts, a broken marriage, estranged from his parents.
But when Matt is murdered in northern India by an unknown assailant, it is Rafa who must investigate. And it is in India where he learns that the local police are claiming Matt was leader of a gang engaged in the theft and sale of precious temple artworks.
Rafa knows these allegations to be false. Yet it quickly becomes apparent that Matt was involved in something much bigger than simple mission work. But what? The answer, when it comes, is chilling. For Matt was part of a clandestine project with the potential to change the future course of world religion. And now Rafa must complete the assignment.
West Africa – where the Muslim north meets the Christian south. Where drought, famine and poverty meet drug-runners, terrorists and Muslim extremists.
Captain John Fisker, a US military officer working to strengthen the forces of moderate Islam in the region, is kidnapped by terrorists. At the same time extremists are threatening the Christian mission hospital where John’s brother Bobby works as a doctor.
Add to the mix a Korean holy man who communes with God at the summit of a sacred mountain, a crazed Russian drugs courier, a young American studying to be a Sufi mystic and a CIA officer on the run from his own superiors, and you have the ingredients for an exciting thriller.
The Coptic Martyr of Cairo
Four Americans in Egypt on an archaeological dig. In the blistering summer heat they are fighting amongst themselves. Then they unearth a body. It is an old priest who has been murdered.
The gruesome discovery sets in train a sequence of events that leads to a deadly Islamist attack on the ancient church where the Americans are working.
The leader of the expedition, Professor Rafa Harel, must decide whether to withdraw his fractious team or continue on a mission to unveil a controversial series of wall paintings, knowing that these images have the power to spark even greater violence.
Meanwhile, watching over all of them is a dreamy young Egyptian Christian named Amir. His only quest in life is to become a martyr.
JOHNNY RAVINE MYSTERIES
These books feature private eye Johnny Ravine and are set in Australia. They were originally published in Australia by Ark House Press.
Prophets and Loss
Forgiveness is the most attractive of the virtues. Until you actually have someone to forgive. When Melissa Stonelea’s born-again Christian husband Grant is found strangled in the bondage room of the city’s classiest brothel, a page of the Bible stuffed in his mouth, she doesn’t need to hear more of her pastor’s sermons on the healing powers of forgiveness. She needs revenge.
Enter private detective Johnny Ravine, seeking the quiet life in Australia after more than twenty years as a freedom fighter in East Timor. The murdered man was his best friend. But, as he starts to investigate the slaying, a mysterious phone call and then a bullet through his window plunge him into the heart of a deadly terrorist conspiracy.
Suddenly he finds himself locked inside a shady world of stock market manipulators, sex workers and underground militia, while desperately hunting the killers. But Johnny is concealing a violent past and demons of his own. Can he crack the mystery before he himself cracks?
Praise for “Prophets and Loss”:
“Roth, an accomplished financial writer, takes his readers on a thrilling ride that begins as a story of murder and revenge and ends as a reflection on loss and forgiveness….Fast-paced and edgy.”
“Wow! .…When ‘Prophets and Loss’ arrived…I certainly wasn’t expecting a meaty murder mystery cum terrorist plot. And when I realized that’s what it was, I certainly wasn’t then expecting Roth’s Johnny Ravine mystery to deliver such a fabulous gospel message….This is a great book for a Christian or as a starter for a non-Christian. A fabulous surprise.”
– The Presbyterian Pulse
“Hired to investigate the death of an Aboriginal painter, private detective Johnny Ravine is drawn into a complex mystery as dangerous as it is intriguing. Environmental politics, land rights and Aboriginal spirituality are explored with subtlety. For the hero and reader alike there is a valuable lesson to be learned about the importance of discerning which voice is proclaiming life and love when all is not as it seems. A compelling novel.”
Further praise for “Hot Rock Dreaming”:
“Roth is a Christian author and, although spiritual warfare is crucial to the plot, this book is still a murder mystery…Thought-provoking and an enjoyable read.”
– On Fire
“Highly readable…You will be both entertained and educated.”
Burning at the Boss
Pastor Jim Reezall is renowned as the hellfire preacher always calling down fire and brimstone on the sinners of the world. So when he dies in a wild bushfire there are some who believe he got what he deserved. Enter private detective Johnny Ravine, asked by the pastor’s daughter – with whom he is trying to develop a relationship – to solve the mystery of the death.
It quickly becomes apparent that it was murder. And very soon Johnny learns that huge sums of money are missing from charities administered by the pastor. Was the pastor really using the funds to pay off gunrunners? And, if so, why? The answers – along with the truth about Johnny’s long-lost father – come in a thrilling climax amidst a raging conflagration in the most bushfire-prone region on earth.
FEISTY FERREIRA MYSTERIES
These financial mysteries feature Brazilian-born geologist and financial analyst Feisty Ferreira.
Tokyo Bossa Nova
A body is discovered on the dealing room floor of upper-crust investment bankers Baund Major. Meanwhile, a shady Japanese takeover specialist is trying to acquire an obscure Australian oil company.
Enter Feisty Ferreira, a thirty-something geologist who has taken a high-salary position at Baund Major in order to support the orphanage that she impulsively bought on a mission trip to the Philippines.
Sent to Tokyo to uncover the mystery of the takeover bid, she finds herself enveloped in a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of government. Along the way she is also forced to battle yakuza gangsters to rescue her own niece from the exotic Tokyo Bossa Nova nightclub, where she is being forced to work as a hostess.
How do you go about solving a murder when no one – including even the victim’s wife – is telling the truth? For Brazilian geologist and financial analyst Feisty Ferreira, it means a journey to the rugged Australian outback, where mystery surrounds a massive new gold discovery.
There she meets a strange cast of characters that include a gold mining entrepreneur with a dark secret, a church pastor on a mission to stop the gold from being mined, and a young woman graduate student who serves beer in a pub in her underwear – one of the town’s famous skimpies.
And in the background is a mysterious Chinese woman who seems to be trying to buy up the entire output of the new goldmine. This novella (32,000 words) is the second in the Feisty Ferreira financial mystery series.