Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Is the Lost Tomb, the Next DaVinci Code?

If you are a faithful follower of Jesus and the Christian Faith…before you blow out a vein in your head over the upcoming documentary, (The Lost Tomb of Jesus, Sunday 3/4 on Discovery Channel), which is proposing that the remains of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and their possible offspring (Judah), were found in a tomb in Jerusalem…understand the facts surrounding this. Trust me, it will ease your troubled mind a bit, and give you a better foundation with which to answer questions non-believing friends may pose to you.

First: Make no mistake…this film though a documentary is a moneymaking venture. Unless there was serious bling to be made, why would someone of James Cameron’s status get involved, (especially on the marketing end…I.E. press conferences), unless that is, he was a devote skeptic (which he is conveniently not addressing at this time)? Documentaries skirting the fringes of fiction by combining their facts with unproven assumptions are becoming pretty commonplace, since Michael Moore proved the format could be financially viable. Dan Brown’s the DiVinci Code (book and Movie) took this movement to new heights (or depths, depending on your frame of reference) as he approached this model from the other direction…veiling a work of fiction with pseudo-science.

If you doubt this contention, then read the words of Cameron himself, who has already stated, “This is the beginning of an ongoing investigation. If things come to light that erode this investigation, then so be it.” So whether the conclusions are true or not, apparently that doesn’t make much difference to Cameron. Spoken like a true spiritual fence sitter who will be laughing all the way to the bank at the controversy this creates!

Second: The conclusions apparently being made by this film, are not based upon hard archeological data or empirical evidence, but are more in the vein of a “Just Imagine If” kind of project, designed for one reason and one reason only…to create controversy. Why? To make money…lots’ of money. Dan Brown proved that poking a sharp stick at the foundation of Christianity, could net an 8-figure return. The renowned archeologist, Amos Kloner, who originally discovered this site and these ossuaries back in 1980, has stated for the record, “The claim that the burial site (of Jesus) has been found is not based upon any proof, it’s only an attempt to sell. With all due respect, they (the film-makers) are not archeologists.”

In my own research for my Eye Witness books, ( ), I’ve discovered (and Kloner agrees) that the names, Jesus, Mary and Judah were very common names in first century Palestine. “Of 900 burial caves found within four kilometers (two and a half miles) of Jerusalem’s Old City and from the same era,” according to Kloner, “the name Jesus (or Yeshua) has been found 71 times and that “Jesus son of Joseph” had also been found previously.” But no other archeologists of note have given these artifacts any particular significance or connection to Christianity’s founder. To put this in perspective, it would be like an archeologist finding a tomb with the names Bob, Sandy and Rob son of Bob…in Dallas 2000 years from now and conclude they’ve found the tomb of the legendary author Robert James Luedke (okay, legendary is wishful thinking….LOL).

The filmmakers have even gone to the extreme steps of giving themselves credibility by making sure everyone knows the film has been in research and production for over three years, and hey…they even have an expert in ancient DNA analysis on board. For what? There are no living descendents of Mary Magdalene (or even accredited historical record of there being any), so what would DNA have to do with anything? And these remains/ossuaries have been known for 27 years…why haven’t any other more respected archeologists come to these same conclusions?

Three: There is nothing new about this discovery. A film was produced by the BBC about this same site and artifacts, containing similar conclusions, a decade ago…that also was basically dismissed as having no empirical proof or evidence at its basis. And in case you forgot, just 5 years ago the prestigious organization, Biblical Archeological Review Journal, claimed it had found an ossuary with that housed the bones of James, brother of Jesus…only to later admit it was a hoax.

So what does this all mean to you? That as a faithful Christian you educate yourself about this story, so you can speak as someone who is doing more than just pooh-poohing it without anything to stand behind your words. Yes…I know that Faith and God’s Word is all we (as Christians) require to know what is the truth is, but when dealing with people who are already skeptics and do not yet know or understand the power of Faith in their lives, it helps to be able to speak in their language, so to speak, (“to the Greeks, I became a Greek”).

I don’t think organizing boycotts of Discovery Channel, or James Cameron films achieves anything but provides the film with more free PR. As someone who has never been afraid of hearing both sides of any question, I recommend we all just watch this program on Sunday Evening, so we can speak from a position of knowledge, (about what it actually presents), rather than from a position ignorance and fear.

Let’s use this situation to create dialog and discussion, not run away from it!

Bob Luedke
Copyright, 2007, Robert James Luedke ...Author/Illustrator Eye Witness: Acts of the Spirit...and A Fictional Tale of Absolute Truth

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Inspiration in Frustration...

It's quite easy to wake up each day and believe what's the use?

I'm no different than my neighbor, I'm no better than my brother.

I toil each day just to pay my bills and find I'm always still wanting.

My joys become stretched farther apart and there seems like no point in being me.

Will I ever make a difference?

Will I ever be of note?

Or, am I destined to just being another wheel in a cosmic wrist-watch, that only draws attention when it is broken?

But a light shone upon me and I considered for a moment, that we are all a special creation.

Concieved in a time before time, in a space unlike space,

to be master of a task designed for us and no other.

There can be no point in denying the fingerprint that I am, though sometimes I like to try,

but the challenge will alway be to identify the assignment,

not it's completion.


Robert James Luedke

Copyright 2007

Robert Jamed Luedke, is the Author/Illustrator of the Eye Witness, graphic novel series

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Acts of Spirit, Finalist for Nat'l Book Award


ForeWord Magazine is pleased to announce the finalists in the eighth annual Book of the Year Awards. These books represent some of the best work coming from today's independent press community.

Eye Witness: Acts of the Spirit (ISBN-13 9780975892428) by Robert James Luedke, (published by Head Press Publishing), was announced as one of the finalists for the Graphic Novel catagory. According to Luedke, "Just being included as a finalist for this award, is obviously an honor and hopefully it will go a long way to opening the eyes of retailers, librarians and the reading public about the genre of faith-based graphic novels."

Nearly 1,400 books were entered in 59 categories. These were narrowed to 698 finalists, from 419 publishers. The winners will be determined by a panel of librarians and booksellers, selected from our readership. ForeWord's Book of the Year Awards program was designed specifically for them to share in the process of discovering distinctive books across a number of genres with judgments based on their own authority in each category and on their patron/customer interests.

Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners, as well as Editor's Choice Prizes for Fiction and Nonfiction will be announced at a special program at BookExpo America at the Javits Center in New York City, June 1st from 2:30pm at LIVE@ Second Stage located on the main show floor.

For a listing of all finalists, go to:

For more information about the Eye Witness series, visit:

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Rose by Any Other Name...

Here's a fun little quiz to share with your friends and family.

What do all these classic pieces of literature have in common?

The Arabian Nights
The Diary of Anne Frank
Black Beauty
Call of the Wild
The Bible
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Doctor Zhivago
All Quiet on the Western Front
Fahrenheit 451
Lady Chatterley's Lover
Tropic of Cancer
and Harry Potter

---The answer is that they have all been targets of censorship by a group, government (including the USA) or religious organizations. And when you consider that Fahrenheit 451, (written by the sci-fi pioneer Ray Bradbury), was about censorship and book burning…it's the most ironical of the list!

Censorship is defined as: The removal from public viewing, or the prevention of circulation of information, where it is felt best by some controlling group or body that others should not be allowed to access the information, which is being censored.

Typically censorship is undertaken by governments or by an established body (religious or mass media). By it's very nature censorship recognizes that there is some person or body of persons that can determine for the majority of a society what information or forms of entertainment it should have access to. In the seminal work dealing with loss of freedoms, (including censorship), 1984 by George Orwell, the term was coined "Big Brother" to describe these people or groups who would be making these types of decisions for us.

Censorship is generally found in societies whose freedoms of speech are repressed, (communist countries and/or dictatorships) or are leaning in the direction, but it also thrives ironically in bastions of freedom, like the United States, where groups can and do use fear and ignorance as the motivating factor in their drive for censorship.

Case in point: The children's book The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron. This book just received the coveted, Newbery Award for children's literature…which is basically the equivalent of receiving an endorsement by Oprah, within literary circles, with book buyers and librarians. So needless to say, there are people out there that feel this is a pretty powerful and effective piece of literature designed for children (whom the author says is the 9-12 age group). That is, all but a couple librarians, who have taken to the blog-waves to share their discontent over the fact that the author uses the word "scrotum" in the book and are making it their mission to alert other librarians and parents, all over the country about this terrible occurrence and encouraging them to have the book removed from the shelves…. before it too late, (you know…that time when we'd have to discuss with our kids what a scrotum is).

For those of you who may not be familiar with the term, (and you can admit it…I had to think it over for a few seconds ma'self), it is defined by Webster as, "the pouch of skin containing the testicles." And if you don't know what they are…sorry you're going to have to look that one up for yourself!

One of the librarians in question stated on her blog, "The word scrotum does not often occur in polite conversation or children's literature for that matter." Dana Nilsson, a librarian in Durango Colorado writes, "This book included what I call a Howard-Stern shock treatment just to see how far they could push the envelope." A Howard-Stern type shock-treatment? Let's see, how many more descriptive and disgusting names can I think of, that Stern would use on his show before resorting to the official medical term of scrotum to describe this part of the male anatomy? Okay, so Dana doesn't get out much!

Another one of the blogger librarians write, "I don't want to start an issue about censorship, but you won't find men's genitalia in quality literature." And there it is gang! We (the offended librarians) feel in our judgment that any description of the male genitalia (which sounds like your discussing some sort of single celled creature discovered under a microscope… but I digress), is inappropriate, even if it's done using only the specific medical terminology to do so…but that's not censorship! A rose by any other name, my friends, would still smell as sweet. One of the common threads of all censorship is that the censor will usually claim what he is doing is not censorship…they're just trying to help us out by keeping harmful information and words away from us and our children. Aren't we lucky?

What they are doing with their 21st century styles cyber-assault on this highly decorated book, is exactly what censorship has become in this information-highway-age we now find ourselves. But you want to know what really makes this whole thing even more ridiculous? The use of the word scrotum, (it's actually kind of fun to say, try it...scrotum, scrotum, scrotum, scrotum, scrotum…. there, got that out of my system), it's not even used to describe any man or boy anatomy in the story. It's about a dog that got bit in the scrotum by a snake, (which was actually a true anecdote the author was sharing).

Ah-ha…now it all makes sense to me now! The librarians in question were protecting our children against possibly reading about dog genitalia in a children's book.

So how does a free society deal with this kind of garbage? By doing the same things they are doing…voicing our opinions against anyone telling you or your children what books are appropriate for you or your children to read. That's not their job. They select from the thousands of books that come out every few months and make choices based upon, marketing to them by publishers and distributors, critical reviews, (in publications like Publishers Weekly and Forward Magazine) and watch book awards lists to see what books have been deemed by those who have proven to be experts in culling out books of note from the masses published.

Their job is not to make reading judgments for their patrons based on their subjective personal tastes…like does a book have or have not words describing male canine genitalia included…(ha, ha, ha…sorry I can't even write that without chuckling). So, let you local librarian know, you'd prefer they just concentrate on making books available and let the parents or teachers make the call on what their children will or will not read. Heaven forbid a parent or teacher would have to engage their children in a conversation about what a scrotum is!

Their next target of the cyber-librarian assassins…a book about the little kitty's uvula getting caught in the mouse trap...discuss!

Robert Luedke
Head Press Publishing

copyright R.J. Luedke 2007

Friday, February 16, 2007

Are We Worldly, Commercial or Ministers?

A recent newsletter from the wonderful and informative entertainment website, Infuse Magazine (, has inspired me to wax philosophic on the topic of Christianity and the Arts....If it of God, or is it about the money?

This is a topic very close to my heart, as I have found myself on the front lines of these type of conversations every now and then, because of what we are attempting to do through our Eye Witness graphic novel series (see:

In regards to the economics of trying to carve out a niche in the world of Christian publishing...the array of comments I receive via email, on this blog and my various web postings, is really quite diverse on this subject. Of course I've received many messages in support of what I am try to accomplish. But, I've also heard from people who portray themselves as Christian and/or spiritual, that will berate me for selling my books at all! They rationalize, that if my works were truly "of God" and designed with the Gospel message in mind, I should just be giving them away. They feel, what I do couldn't be looked at as a ministry if it is a for-profit venture.

My answer to that is a usually a very simple question: What church or Christian speaker/preacher/entertainer, (music, comedy, movies, traveling Evangelists etc...), works for free with no type of support either through financial backing, selling something, through tithes and/or appearance fees? None. Unless the person heading up the ministry is financially independent, or has someone behind the scenes who is, everyone working fulltime toward sharing the word, whether it's in a Church, a web-site, through producing music, movies, books or television...all have to support their families, their staff and their infrastructure (through which they are sharing that message). I've been a part of a mega-church in the DFW area which has a stated operational overhead of "millions of dollars" each and every month. Is it any wonder why they sell, books, coffee, donuts, CD's, T-shirts and Christian addition to asking for a tithe each and every week? It's all part of how this church goes about taking the word to people not just in DFW, but all over the world through their services, through TV and through the internet.

I look at that kind of comment as being rooted in either ignorance of business principles (as they apply to ministry) or lack of familiarity of the format being used (because it feels so foreign to the person's experience, they feel that it certainly must be designed strictly for monetary gain, since they can not fathom how it could be used effectively to minister).

That begs the question...are there people out there just trying to make a buck by using the draw of Christianity? Yes, of course there are and have been literally since the first century, (see Bar-Jesus in the book of Acts)! So how does one know whether the presentation, song, movie or book is designed with a genuine desire to share/spread God's word, or just make a quick buck? As the Bible tells us, "You will know them by their fruit." In other words, it's overall impact may not be wide-spread or even understood till years (or even decades after it's creation). But the bottom line is always, does the presentation accurately convey (and portray) the word of God as described to us in the Bible (which was written by men inspired by God)? If the answer is yes, than no matter it's economic impact, it will reach people who need to be reached...and for me, that is the ultimate goal for my works. If the answer is no, then (paraphrasing the Gospel)..."If the activity is of man's creation, rather than of God's, than it will eventually fail and it's followers will scatter just like all followers of false prophets."

For maverick publishers/creators like myself, this is strictly about mission or ministry. I have a story to tell that was inspired by God in my heart, mind and soul. I have been given the talents and direction on how to mold that message to reach those I'm suppose to reach; how to market it; and how to finance it. God has provided me with both the resources and/or the people with the resources to help get it off the ground. God has provided me with enough sales to repay those who have given generously either of their time or services to get the series out into the marketplace.

Will God ever grant me enough exposure/sales to actually make the series a economic success (in other words, that I'll actually turn a profit)? For me that really doesn't matter, since I have a faith that is rooted in my belief that if I am obedient to his will, God will provide for me and my family...anything above and beyond that will be a blessing and just allow me to be able to just give more books away to youth groups and ministries who need them but cannot afford them (which I try to do as much as possible now anyway) and provide me a vehicle through which I can help other creators bring their projects to market.

Robert James Luedke

copyright 2007, Robert James Luedke

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


In this “over commercialized-sound bite-don’t miss out on this special offer,” world of ours, it’s easy to forgot the roots of things that are most important. And the most important of all of course, is Love!

Trying to decide what to get your honey, spouse or sweetheart this Valentines day? Why not a little gen-u-ine, honest-to-goodness….Love?

-Love is patient
-Love is kind
-Love does not envy
-Love does not boast
-Love is not rude
-Love is not self-seeking
-Love is not easily angered
-Love keeps no record of wrongs
-Love always protects
-Love always trusts
-Love always has hope
-Love always perseveres

and....Love never fails

RJ Luedke

(paraphrased from the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor 13)