Was St. Paul a Psychopath?

When I was researching JOANNA, I discovered what it meant to be a psychopath. Born with an under-developed frontal lobe in the brain, a psychopath was destined to live their lives unable to experience emotional empathy, unable to feel guilt, unable to love. I listened for many hours to psychopaths talking, I read copious studies by neuroscientists, and I even managed to find two mothers of psychopaths who were prepared to talk to me. By the time I came to write JOANNA, I knew how a psychopath would think and behave, and I could imagine what it would be like to live with one.

However, the whole time I was writing JOANNA, striving to make an interesting story that would also show the reader everything I had learnt, I had a nagging doubt. If someone was born a psychopath, were they doomed? What did the disorder mean from a spiritual point of view? Psychopathy is a mental disorder, not an illness. It cannot be cured. It is a genetic condition, it cannot be prevented. Whilst the vast majority of psychopaths are not killers, and are never convicted of any crime, they will still be difficult people to live with. They will still be ‘bad’ people. So, what does that mean in terms of Christianity? Could a psychopath be a Christian?

Now, I believe that whilst God can, and does, sometimes heal people of physical disabilities, in the vast majority of cases, he does not. So a blind person who becomes a Christian will be a blind Christian. A Downs Syndrome person who becomes a Christian will be a Christian who has Downs Syndrome. God can use those situations, but he rarely changes them. As psychopathy is a physical condition, I think it unlikely that God would necessarily heal a psychopath. So what would a psychopathic Christian look like?

I began to read the Bible with this in mind. I knew that a psychopath would be unaffected by physical cruelty towards others. They would be ambitious for their own advancement, and possibly a leader within either the established religion or start their own. They would have no obvious emotional ties, and be quite capable of rejecting anyone who they felt was holding them back, even if that person had made huge sacrifices in order to follow them. They would have no fear, and be able to walk into dangerous situations, even if they knew it was risky. In fact, as thrill-seekers, psychopaths will often do things which they know hold high risk. Psychopaths are often eloquent, and their lack of fear makes them excellent public speakers. There is something mesmerising about them, people cannot help but listen to them (look on YouTube for clips of Charles Manson or Ted Bundy speaking – you will not be bored).

But what about God? Could a psychopath follow God? Well, a psychopath’s main motivation is to look after themselves. So, if they had an experience which proved to them beyond all doubt that God existed, they would definitely decide to follow him. They would do whatever was necessary to ensure they were on the ‘winning side’. They would not risk their soul, not if they knew, absolutely, that God was real.

Now, when we read the accounts about Paul, he shows many of these traits. Was he a psychopath? We do not have enough information to make that statement, and certainly some of his writings suggest that he was not. But I think it’s possible. I wanted to try and explore this further, so I wrote CLARA. As I wrote, I used the knowledge I had gleaned about psychopaths, and I very much had the character of St Paul in mind as I wove the story. The character of Clara is not St. Paul – but I think you will notice some similarities.

CLARA – A Good Psychopath?
ISBN 978-0-9954632-5-7
The Cobweb Press

I hope it is also a book you will enjoy, though at times it makes for uncomfortable reading. It is exciting, but there are funny moments. It shows how someone who is very bad, can achieve something that is very good. Are you prepared to be challenged? This is not a cosy portrayal of Christianity, and some people will find the ideas disturbing.

Would you like to buy a copy? It costs £11.95 from Amazon and in bookshops (they can order it if it’s not in stock). But until the 31st March, it is available at a 33% discount, for £7.95 including free UK postage. Just send a message via the contact form below, with your postal address (this is sent directly to me, it isn’t public). Payment instructions will be sent with the book – you can pay by cheque or direct bank transfer. Why not buy a copy today?

 

 

 

If you prefer to buy from Amazon – it is available as a Kindle book in most countries – the UK link is below:

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anneethompson.com

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Lexus LC 500

We went to look at sports cars. You can do this sort of thing when you get to a certain age and are bored. When you’re younger, the sales person asks lots of awkward questions about why you want to change your car, and what your job is, so they can check you aren’t just messing about. But at our age, they simply ask what you currently drive (to check, I assume, a certain income level) and then they are happy to let you play, accepting that one of you must be having a mid-life crisis.

We had been out for brunch at Marcos in Sevenoaks (best place locally for brunch) and drove down to the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells, where there is a whole road of car dealerships, so you can walk along comparing cars. We started in the Lexus garage, looking at the LC 500.

It’s a very pretty car. It has nice rounded corners, and lights which are shaped like slitty eyes, assessing the road. It’s very low profile, and hugs the ground (so would probably make it to the end of our driveway before it was stuck in a pothole, but we’ll brush over that detail). It’s a hybrid, which Husband likes.

Inside, the seats were leather, with suede trim. They were very comfy to sit in, though a long way down, so I might need old-person grab handles in a few years to get out of it (if I ever gave my mother a lift, she would need to be hauled out of the seat when we parked). Very pretty, but I wasn’t sure it would be very practical with a dog. In fact, I was a bit unsure about the dog altogether. I checked the boot.

Checking the boot took longer than expected, as we couldn’t work out how to open it. There was no handle or obvious catch, so Husband checked inside the car. No clever levers or buttons there either. Eventually, I found a tiny round button next to the left rear light, which opened the boot. The cover slid elegantly back – and we both laughed! The boot was tiny. Really tiny. There was no way we could squash a German shepherd dog into it, or even a suitcase actually. Husband assured me this wouldn’t be a problem, as when we go away for the weekend, we could pack our clothes straight into the boot. I had visions of sneaking through hotel reception with pockets stuffed with socks and underwear.
 The boot did, to be fair, comfortably fit my handbag.

We were now on a mission – where could the dog travel? There was no room in the passenger footwell, as the dashboard curved over it. Perhaps the back seat would be the best place (if one didn’t think about muddy damp dogs ruining suede). We moved the front passenger seat forwards, with the rather swish mechanism that raised the seat and then slid it forwards while we watched. We stared at the back seat. It didn’t have much (any) in the way of leg room, but dogs don’t exactly put their feet on the floor when they travel, so that wasn’t a problem. However, the height from seat to aerodynamically designed roof seemed quite small. I slid into the back seat (not as smoothly as the mechanics had slid the front seat forwards) and tried to sit upright. I couldn’t, not without bumping my head on the ceiling. An adult would have to travel on the back seat with their neck bent. This is the sort of thing my children make an unreasonable fuss about, so we wouldn’t be giving them a lift anywhere. I wasn’t quite sure of dog’s height when sitting, but I had images of lolling tongue very near the back of my head while we drove.

We gave up on the LC 500 as a viable car, unless we left the dog at home. If you have lots of money to spare and either very small children or a very small dog who never gets dirty, this is the car for you.

We had a quick look at the Lexus RC, which is smaller and cheaper, and has a bigger boot. Then we wandered down the road. We looked at the Nissan sports car, but couldn’t sit in it as the showroom model had been bought. It wasn’t as pretty as the Lexus LC, cost about the same, and had no more boot room. We popped in to Toyota and Mazda too. But to be honest, I’d lost enthusiasm by this point, and all the cars were beginning to merge into one, so we went home.

Thank you for reading. Have a good week.

Take care,
Love,
Anne x

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Anne E. Thompson has written several novels and one non-fiction book.
You can follow her blog at:
anneethompson.com

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Guardians of the Galaxy (No spoilers!) and Life in General

It was Bank Holiday Monday, raining (of course) so we decided to go to the cinema. They were showing Guardians of the Galaxy 2, what could be better?

The cinema was full, but we got there in plenty of time and found our pre-booked seats. I knew it was going to be a good film right from the beginning, when a cute little tree man dances through the opening credits while a war rages around him. The film was visually pleasing, with lots of colour and pretty scenes (makers of Star Wars should take note). Lots of attractive women who were strangely coloured. It made you want to go home and paint yourself green.

After about 10 minutes, we were distracted by two elderly women entering the cinema. They carried huge boxes of popcorn and had trouble walking in the dark. They made their way down the aisle, peering along each row, stood for several minutes in the centre, then wandered out again. Perhaps they had wandered into the wrong cinema. Or maybe the cinema is haunted and they were the ghosts from a previous audience.

We then got back to the film. Really, the overwhelming impression was pretty, funny, with lots of music. I enjoyed it. Even the spaceships looked like massive sewing machines (not that I enjoy sewing, but it made a change from the normal flying saucer). There was lots of killing, but somehow it’s okay when accompanied by 50’s music.

There were a few weird storylines, which felt like they were copied from other sources, and not really developed. But to be honest, the story didn’t matter. It was a jolly sort of film, perfect for watching on a rainy bank holiday Monday.

Of course, the day after Bank Holiday was warm and sunny. I tried to brush the dog, who’s moulting like crazy. She hates it, and will stand still for about 2 seconds before running off. All the cats come to watch – I’m sure they’re laughing at me.

I also decided to plant some seeds. I like planting seeds, and am quite good at watering them and watching the seedlings grow. Then I tend to lose interest, so they don’t always make it into the garden. I’ve planted a few pots and trays and put them on the patio – well defended against the cats, who’d enjoy digging them up.

 

Now, here’s a secret, so don’t tell anyone. Next to our house is a field, which is sometimes used for crops and sometimes has animals. The farmer has recently plowed it, added lots of lime, and drilled it (which I think means he has planted seeds). Last year he grew sweetcorn. I had some seeds of my own – some sunflower seeds – so, when I was walking the dog, I planted three of them in the corner of the field. Not sure if this is allowed.

But if they grow, they will look really good, three sunflowers smiling at everyone in the lane as they drive past. Hopefully they will grow taller than the crop, so everyone will see them. I will let you know.

The ducklings have grown as big as their mother. They still have some fluff, but are growing straggly feathers now. When the feathers have grown enough for them to be able to fly, I’ll let them back on the pond. There are another couple of nests around the pond. No idea if the eggs are alive, or if the ducklings will survive should they hatch. Probably depends on whether I manage to catch them or not.

Have a good week.

Anne x

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I’ve just been sent a copy of the local paper, which features JOANNA again. The journalists in town have been very kind, my books have been mentioned several times now. I still hate seeing my photo in the newspaper, but I think it’s one of the downsides to being an author. In this one, I am desperately trying to stop the poster behind me from falling down!

Joanna

Joanna

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Joanna sits on the bus and begins to plan. When Joanna plans, this usually means trouble for those around her. But this particular plan brings more than trouble, it results in fear and death and guilt. But not her own guilt. Joanna is a psychopath, guilt isn’t within the range of emotions she is able to feel.

Written in the first person, we learn Joanna’s story, from the initial spark of her plan, to the horrible aftermath of wrecked lives. You will view the world through Joanna’s eyes – be careful though, she might lie to you.

This is not just her story. We also watch the impact of her actions on those close to her – the woman who raised her, and Joanna’s own daughter. How does it feel to be related to a serial killer? For how long do you carry the burden of their actions? And when it comes down to it, is anyone really innocent?

Joanna

Published by The Cobweb Press
ISBN : 978-0-9954632-2-6

Why not order a copy today?

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Available from book shops (if it’s not in stock, they can order it for you).

US Link:

UK Link:

Thank you

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

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So, have you watched ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’? As part of the whole, ‘family at home for Christmas so we ought to do something’ time, we went to the cinema. Afterwards we had dinner at Pizza Hut (even though I promised myself about ten years ago, that I would never have to eat in a Pizza Hut again.) It was actually a really fun evening. I’ll tell you about it (with a warning if you haven’t seen the film, this does contain spoilers.)

For those of you who don’t know (mainly you, Mum) ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is another film in the Harry Potter series – you know, the ones about the boy who is a wizard, who makes friends with the ginger-haired boy, and the girl who all the teenagers now fancy? Well, this film is supposed to be before all that took place, in the 1920’s, and is set in New York. I came away with very mixed feelings about it.

Firstly, it is excellent entertainment. I usually get bored in films aimed at a younger audience (the Harry Potter books and films didn’t quite do it for me if I’m honest.) This film however, I watched throughout without ever wondering how much longer before it ended. The plot was good enough, but the acting was excellent (perhaps J.K. Rowling decided experienced adult actors would make a better film and so wrote a book with only grown-ups in it. Or perhaps I am too cynical.) The special effects and scenery were all convincing, making for something of a visual treat. If you like a bit of make-believe, I expect you will love this film.

However, and this is quite a big however, there was something that left me feeling uneasy. It didn’t feel the same as the Harry Potter films, which I felt never really strayed from storybook witches and wizards. Now, I was not one of those Christians who refused to read her children ‘Hansel and Gretel’ or ‘Sleeping Beauty’ because they contained witches. I do believe there are spiritual forces that are evil, I do believe we shouldn’t mess with that stuff, and occult practices and ‘real’ witchcraft is dangerous. I just do not happen to put the witch in Sleeping Beauty into this category. It is a story, unrelated to real life, and the witches in it are not representations of people involved in the occult. I wasn’t so comfortable with this story. With Harry Potter, I felt the message of ‘good defeating evil’ was very clear. There were witches and magic, but it was all storybook stuff, and the baddies were easy to spot, and it was all far removed from reality.

In Fantastic Beasts we were presented with the New Salem Philanthropic Society. These were humans who were against witchcraft. It all felt a bit too much like things that happened in real life. Even the name is not exactly made up. And yes, I realise that people claiming to be Christian have done some pretty terrible things (in the past and present) and I know the ‘witch hunts’ in Salem were very bad. But why bring reality, even a touch of it, into a fantasy film? What is the point being made?

There was also an execution scene. It was, I felt, not really in keeping with a children’s film. Although what actually happened wasn’t gory or gruesome, the thought of someone walking towards a death sentence is not one I would want my 12 year old thinking about.

Not that I was with 12 year olds of course. I was with my family, who enjoyed the film. Their only comment was that when the characters gave instructions to their wands, it always worked, and when they do the same with their phone: “Hello Google, what is the time?” the phone always gets it wrong: “Certainly. Phoning Grandma.”

After the film, we went next door to Pizza Hut. We used to go to Pizza Hut a lot as students. We had no money, and it was a cheap place for a ‘special meal’ when we wanted to go out. I have moved on from those times. Husband hasn’t. He went excitedly to the salad bar, to show his sons how to extend the perimeter of the salad bowl with slices of cucumber, thus enabling extra salad to be heaped into the bowl. Sons were unimpressed and pointed out that unlike in the ‘olden days’, you could visit the salad bar as many times as you wanted. I actually, was unkeen on eating any salad at all, as on our way in we had passed a small child who appeared to be massaging the lettuce.

Actually, it wasn’t too bad. If you ignored the sticky menu (a variation on a ‘taster menu’) and the sticky seat and the sticky table, everything was fine. The waitress was friendly, the pizzas were nice, and the wine went down very well. The males in the family then made a comparison table of stats showing how the price per size of pizza compared to pizza express – but I don’t think this is an obligatory activity if you choose to go with different people.

Take care,
Anne x

Counting Stars is available from Amazon to read on a tablet or Kindle. A great read, at £1.99, with 5*reviews! Go on, why not treat yourself?…..

 

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Thank you for reading.

xxxxx

anneethompson.com

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Another week….

 

Have you read anything good lately? I’ve just started reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, am hooked already. It took me a few pages before I started to like it, I wouldn’t have picked it up in a bookshop, read the beginning and then bought it; but after a couple of chapters it’s pretty addictive. I started reading it because daughter recommended it. So often, I buy books because someone has said they are good. (I am really really hoping that everyone who has enjoyed reading my book has told their friends and family…..authors depend on other people to stimulate sales.)

The Girl on the Train is mainly about Rachel, a girl whose life has fallen apart. As we learn more about her, about what led to her divorce and drinking and apathy with life, it seems as if the main catalyst was not being able to have children. That is so sad. I don’t know if the author has children, but she describes in detail how it feels to be unable to have them. I have no idea how accurate it is, but one thing she describes is feelings of jealousy towards people who conceive easily, and how she will avoid places where there are likely to be young families, even leaving supermarkets if there are too many mothers and babies shopping. So sad.

One strange thing about reading The Girl on the Train, is that the author has a very similar writing style to my own. Even the genre is the same as Joanna, so I felt like I was reading my own work – I found I was proofreading rather than just enjoying the story! She even makes some of the same mistakes (so that she has a tendency to use ‘that’ when it isn’t that necessary.) Very strange. At the end of her book she lists all the people who have helped her, including her agent. Given that her book is so similar to Joanna, I am considering sending the manuscript to them for consideration.

This caused me some stress. I found the agent’s website and looked at their submission policy. As with all these agents, it just seems so rude! It lists all the things they want posted (not emailed) such as cover letter, synopsis, first few chapters. They then tell you to check carefully and send everything they have asked for, or they will recycle it without looking at it. Then they say that after they have received your (hours of) work, if they don’t want to represent you, they won’t bother to reply. My inclination is to not send them my book. If they won’t even be polite, why should they have the opportunity to make money from my hard work? Husband tells me this is silly, this is how business works, I will increase my sales through a mainstream publisher. I like the control of self-publishing. Difficult decision. Perhaps I will do both. Self-publishing is good/excellent/fun until it comes to the selling and advertising – then it gets very difficult.

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Another stress point this week has been Milly. She was limping, and when I checked her paw, she had cut it badly. Now, I know about cuts (you learn lots of first aid when you have children.) I know that if you clean the wound, smear it with savlon, and cover it, it will heal – as long as you change the dressing every day. I figured the same would work with a cat. Cats however, are less helpful at staying still. Milly does this wriggling twisting manoeuvre whilst using her back legs to shred the skin from your arm. She got away from me and disappeared. Didn’t come near me for the next two days. When I finally caught her again the cut was worse, so I mortgaged the house and went to the vet. He examined her while she lay still and peaceful in my arms (think he must have hypnotised her.) He then dried the wound with a laser, gave her an antibiotic jab and told me to keep her inside for a few days. Sounds easy. But Milly is an outside cat, she lives in the workshop with her family. She does not want to be an inside cat.

I moved her into the utility room with Louise (the cranky old indoors cat – you can imagine how well that went.) I heaped heavy sacks of cat litter in front of the cat flap, and positioned a full watering can outside, with the spout against the flap so it couldn’t be pushed open. Escape proof – I thought. Milly and Louise were both unhappy, and Molly and Midge (other two outside cats) kept prowling around, trying to find Milly. (Mandy is also an outside cat, but not very clever – I don’t think she noticed.)

The following morning I went into the utility room. No cats. They had shredded the sacks of cat litter, so that was all over the floor. Someone had moved the watering can spout, so I think they had help from outside. Milly, Molly and Midge were all missing. Only Mandy was in the workshop, looking confused.

Eventually, I found the escapee, changed the method of catflap blocking and put her back inside. The paw was now filthy, so goodness knows if it will still heal properly. After a couple of days, she got used to the heat of the house and now seems quite contented. She curls up with the dog and sleeps on the sofa…..Am thinking I might have a problem moving her back outside….

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Take care,
Anne x

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Thank you for reading.

Have you bought Hidden Faces yet? A good gift for someone who you want to make smile…

Hidden Faces, is available from bookshops and Amazon.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hidden-Faces-Anne-E-Thompson/dp/0995463204/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476260112&sr=8-1&keywords=hidden+faces+by+anne+e+thompson

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Book Promo

I have just submitted the following article to an online newspaper. I thought I would share it with you too…..

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A few years ago, I was at a party enjoying a white wine, when someone said to me, “Oh, you drink!”
I was their five year old child’s school teacher, and because I spent my days reciting nursery rhymes and counting to ten, they obviously thought this continued after work too.The fact that their child’s teacher was drinking, even (horrors) slightly tipsy, was shocking!

Primary school teachers tend to not smoke and swear when at work, they don’t have sex or lose their temper. Some people think they don’t at home either.

I met similar views when growing up. My father was a Baptist minister, and growing up in a manse was a strange experience. We were seen as ‘different’, as people who didn’t behave as ‘normal’ people did. It was also assumed that my thoughts and views would be the same as my father’s. I recall giving an opinion once, and someone saying, “But your father doesn’t think that.” They were totally confused – how could I have a different point of view to my father, when he was the minister?

I began writing full time two years ago. I was invited to a lunch, and the after dinner speaker was the bestselling author Adele Parks. As she told us her story, how she loved to tell stories and write, I thought, ‘I could do that.’ I have always told stories – to my children and pupils and friends – now I write them down and tell them to strangers.

When I wrote my first book, Hidden Faces, I wanted to show that people have different sides, different masks if you like. Everyone says ‘write what you know’, and I followed this advice with my first book. I wrote about being a primary school teacher, I wrote about growing up in a Baptist manse, I wrote about people having different sides to their characters, changing their behaviour to fit who they’re with.

I have now written three books, the second will be published in the Spring 2017. I am a person who likes to laugh, and that humour infiltrates my books, making the stories an easy read. I tend to write about strong women and teenaged boys, because these are the people who I know best.

Anne E. Thompson writes a weekly blog at anneethompson.com

Her first book, Hidden Faces, is available from bookshops and Amazon.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hidden-Faces-Anne-E-Thompson/dp/0995463204/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476260112&sr=8-1&keywords=hidden+faces+by+anne+e+thompson

Hidden Faces final cover 6 July 2016

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