Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ringing True by Robert Morrow

Ringing True takes place during the years 2005-2006, a time when the Culture Wars are at their peak and America is fighting two shooting wars on the other side of the globe. The novel begins on a late summer night in Seattle where we find Justin Raines alone, stretched out on the living room floor of his apartment, his face bathed by the glare from an open laptop. Justin appears to be mindlessly passing the time, but in truth is deeply troubled by the current state of the human race. He sees clearly that people around the world are consumed by self-interest that will invariably lead to self-destruction, but has no idea what he can do about it.

As luck would have it, his soul mate, Shelby Mirabeau, returns from an aborted voyage to the South American backwoods and helps him clarify both the idea and the direction they must take:

"You and I are going to be the founders of a new world religion."

"What the hell?"

"You and I are going to be the founders of a new world religion," repeated Shelby, and Justin could tell she was unusually serious.

"What---come on---this is---don't bullshit me---what the---what?" Justin sputtered.

Shelby narrowed her eyes. "Justin, I have had a moment of clarity. Will you please let me have my moment of clarity?"

"Oh, well, excuse the hell out of me for pissing on your clarity, but for Christ’s sake, this is insane!"

After several gatherings in the coffee houses of Seattle's Capitol Hill, they take a trip north to Vancouver, B. C. to clear their heads and write the text of the new religion, a text eventually called The Numbers. When they find themselves unable to spread the word, they enlist a techno-geek couple and a disciple of hard-core capitalism, who transform their idea into a for-profit religion launched via cyberspace.

Through guerrilla marketing, Internet buzz and financial support from a major Hollywood star in search of enlightenment, the religion (Ringing True) becomes a worldwide sensation. Success brings a new set of challenges for the founders, who find themselves entangled in a series of plots involving corporate politics, financial sleight-of-hand and a porn star who wants a piece of the action. Events build rapidly to a stunning conclusion where the founders learn what rings true for them.

Robert Morrow is an author of fiction and non-fiction (the latter under a separate pseudonym), poetry and articles on human dynamics. He is also the leader of the alternative rock band Acoustic Disturbance. Originally from San Francisco, he currently lives in the Seattle area.

What will readers like about your book?
So far, readers have responded very positively to the diversity of the characters, the plot twists they can’t see coming and to the religion itself. Ringing True isn’t quite like anything on the scene right now and some people appreciate that.

Why did you self publish?
It was primarily to avoid interaction with the mainstream publishing industry. I experienced that Kafka-esque world during the publication of my first book and resolved never to go through it again.

What is your writing process?
I don’t have a process. I go into periods when I am absorbed by an image, an idea, a theme . . . then words come out.

How long does it take you to write your first draft?
I don’t distinguish between drafts, so I don’t know.

What inspired you to write this particular story?
Like my lead characters, I am deeply concerned about the problems facing the human race in the 21st Century, but also like my characters, I didn’t want to get preachy or boring. So first of all, I wanted to write a great story with a strong narrative that made people think and laugh at the same time. Second, I wanted to offer alternative ways of thinking about human problems. One underlying assumption in Ringing True is that both religion and politics are dead ends when it comes to addressing the enormous challenges we face and we need to look at things from an entirely different perspective. Finally, I also wanted to give readers an alternative way of looking at relationships and communication that supports the right of an individual to choose his or her own path.


(These are the first two precepts of the religion in Ringing True, called The Numbers):

The First

Our world is on a path of self-destruction and the primary cause is the single-minded pursuit of self-interest on the part of billions of individuals at the expense of the human community. One might say that this is the modern version of the struggle between good and evil.

Over the centuries, people have attempted to define good and evil by means of religious texts and legal precepts. These efforts have failed. The concepts have become so muddled that no one understands them anymore. The good use evil to advance their causes; the evil cloak their activities under a facade of goodness. A new approach is necessary.

We define good as what occurs when an individual balances three basic responsibilities in daily life: responsibility to oneself, responsibility to others and responsibility to the human community. The result of good is the nourishment of the human spirit and the validation of human life.

We define evil as actions that reflect an imbalance of responsibility to self, responsibility to others and responsibility to the human community. The result of evil is damage to the human spirit and harm to human life.

Good or evil are chosen. Choices have consequences. We are all responsible for our choices and the consequences. This is the nature of life.

The Second

Some believe in a higher power, or God; some do not; others are on the fence. It is sad that the human race has engaged in endless war and unnecessary strife because one group believes their God is the only God and that nonbelievers should be converted, punished, or even exterminated.

Any belief in a higher power that creates an imbalance of responsibility is fundamentally evil. The belief in God is a personal truth, not a universal truth, and neither believers nor nonbelievers should claim superiority in the matter. All human beings are flawed, so the notion of perfect certainty is absurd. Learn to live with it.

Most of the world's religions have become corrupt, for various reasons. In a tribute to the human spirit, some people have managed to rise above the corruption and find good in various faiths. We are supportive of any religious belief that validates responsible living. We are not supportive of any religion that validates evil in any form, and any religion that permits killing in its name is to be avoided by all responsible people.

Some religions advance the notion that love for all humanity is the key to paradise on earth. While we accept the power of love as real, right now we would be happy if human beings would just stop killing each other.


Website: http://www.ringingtrue.com

Blogs: http://ringingtrue.tumblr.com



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