By Jack Engelhard
Well, it finally happened. My computer crashed. All my works in progress – gone! Fortunately, most of my novels are already published and listed on Amazon and elsewhere, so that’s good, and as for my journalism, well, that’s also preserved here and all over the Web.
I’ll bet I’m not alone in this. This has happened to everybody. We’re all at the mercy of technology and technology is not perfect. Stuff happens.
For some reason I equate all this with the economy, which also crashed, and I equate it even more with something almost cosmic, that our entire civilization rests upon the mercy and the good graces of a power higher up, beyond us mortals – in other words, we are all plugged in and, just like that, someone can pull the plug and plug us out.
Is this religion?
Religion and science are all about finding the Original Source – and religion came first; in fact, religion showed the way toward finding the Original Source.
(Believers, like myself, call Him God. I don’t know the word scientists use to locate the origin of everything.)
Tell you what I did during this week without ACCESS. I studied Torah, or what others might call Scriptures. I had been a slacker. I figured maybe this was a signal, yes, I was being told to quit worrying about my own books and that the plug had been pulled, by a power up above, to get me back to the Five Books of Moses, which, yes, is indeed the Bible, the Hebrew Bible, but which is also (to me at least) a memoir of my family, going back more than 3,000 years.
So I read and I studied and found that with all my Yeshivah learning (mostly in Montreal and Cincinnati), I still found the Torah NEW. It’s always new. I sometimes feel that as we sleep Moses (or God) keeps adding new information; that, indeed, though perfect, the Torah is always a WORK IN PROGRESS. It keeps being refreshed. (I assume that my Christian friends find the same glory in the entire Christian Bible, and I say Amen to that as well!)
I had forgotten that Isaac tried to pass off his wife, Rebecca, as his sister, just as his father Abraham had done with Sarah. I had written a novel on Bathsheba and only in re-reading the Book of Kings did I know that Bathsheba means Fortunata – Fortune’s Daughter. The part that I particularly loved, in the Torah, was right after Jacob wakes up from his dream and declares these wonderful words – “Surely the Lord is in this place and I knew it not.”
Who can’t identify with that! We’ve all faced tough situations, and somehow survived, so that surely “the Lord was in this place but WE KNEW IT NOT.”
In studying the Bible all over again, I found it to be a page-turner. What comes next? What will happen when Jacob meets Esau? Will Pharaoh let the people go?
Guess I am getting too religious. So happens that before all this happened, I’d been polishing up a new novel “Slot Attendant,” over which I’d been working for months. For safekeeping, I usually send revisions to my son so that he can do the saving on his computer.
This time I let it go, figuring, naw, my computer is working fine. Nothing can happen. Sure enough, it did. So now, this novel is gone, 100,000 words lost forever.
Is this another signal? I think it is. I think this novel just wasn’t working anyhow. I was being told to move on. (I do have other versions of this novel saved elsewhere.)
I’m taking two lessons from all this. First (forgive the repetition): Our entire technology teeters on the good graces of a Higher Power, a singular point of origin, an Original Source that can pull the plug at any time. The same goes for our entire civilization. We have already seen how someone pulled the plug on our economy – and we thought we were in the best of hands. Not so.
The second lesson, well, this is starting to sound too much like a sermon, but here it is. When in doubt, and we’re always in doubt, hit the books.
The Bible! Never mind Steven King or even Shakespeare. Word for word, page for page, this Thriller, Scriptures, beats them all!
Jack Engelhard’s latest novel, THE BATHSHEBA DEADLINE, now in paperback, places journalism at the center of our culture and our war on terror. Engelhard wrote the international bestselling novel INDECENT PROPOSAL that was translated into more than 22 languages and turned into a Paramount motion picture starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore. Engelhard can be reached at his website www.jackengelhard.com.