Research for my novels is a time-consuming activity which I enjoy to the fullest. I discover so many unknown facts (at least to me) that just beg to be exposed. The third book in my series about the growth of Christianity covers the counter-reformation period–the middle of the 16th century. I hadn’t realized that Pope Pius IV was not only concerned about the Protestant movement, but also about the spread of Islam in the East and throughout the Mediterranean. In addition, I discovered how Bartolomé de las Casas handled the disagreement between the Franciscans and the Dominicans in the New World on enslaving and evangelizing the indigenous people. Of course, while this was going on the Jesuits were spreading the Good News in Asia and India. However, the bulk of the novel concerns the rot that had grown into the life of the Church. Pius reconvened the Ecumenical Council of Trent and appointed his nephew, Carlos Barromeo, to oversee the necessary reform which revitalized Christian Europe. I expect this new book to be published at the end of this calendar year.
Leading up to the third novel, I had already written about a Jewish family growing up in Rome in the first century (Eugenios: Servant of Kings). How was it possible, I asked myself, how a Jewish family recognizing the political strength of Rome and its gods, could not only maintain their faith, but expand on that faith by becoming Christians? I surrounded that story with the life of Augustus and Herod the Great. Bits and pieces of historical data are thrown into the mix and their importance is disclosed towards the end of the story when the anticipated Messiah finally arrives.
In between those two novels is a story (The Scholar’s Challenge) that takes place in the third and fourth centuries; a time when schisms seemed most likely to be successful for there was little means of communicating across cultural barriers. Yet, by taking the lives of Origin and Jerome and expanding on the issues of the day, we learn that by gathering data from the most brilliant minds available, Christian books could be written which strengthened the early faith and answered the critics of that period.