Book Review: The Copper Scroll

The Copper Scroll: A Novel The Copper Scroll: A Novel by Joel C. Rosenberg

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Copper Scroll is the latest installment of the Last Jihad series by of fiction thrillers by Joel C. Rosenberg.

Joel Rosenberg first came to national attention by writing the first book in the series, The Last Jihad, about a terrorist attach by hijacking an airliner and flying a kamikaze attack against the United States. Not to impressive unless you realize the book was written nine months prior to 9/11.

Not unlike author Dan Brown, Joel Rosenberg writes from a foundation of research and fact that lend an authenticity to the story.

Rosenberg starts with the mystery of a copper scroll which was found amongst the Dead Sea scrolls more than half a century ago. Unlike most of the Dead Sea scrolls this scroll lists location of treasure which would be worth over a billion dollars today. Sounds made-up doesn’t it? Oddly enough this part of the story is pure fact.

Newly discovered secrets about the Copper Scroll unleash a series of events that engulf current and former CIA operatives, leaders of the United States, Israel, and Iraq in a race to unlock the secret.

Although this is the fourth book in the series, it was the first one I have read. I found that that the book stands well by itself.

As a work of fiction it was a well constructed, very enjoyable story with good characters.

On a second level, although the style is similar to that of Dan Brown, the moral of this story couldn’t be more different. While I have found Dan Brown to be an engaging writer, his message seems to consistently be “you can’t trust religious faith”.

As a Jewish Christian, Joel Rosenberg’s message of “there is something to authentic Christianity” comes through loud and clear. As a Christian I really enjoyed this aspect of the story.

On a third level, I was intrigued by the author’s unique ability to project events into the future, in this case mixing the Copper Scroll with prophecy from the Bible.

Note: The author has written a non-fiction book, Epicenter, which deals with with the Biblical Prophecy aspect in more detail.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a Dan Brown style book or political thriller.

View all my reviews.

Stewardship Testimony

Each year my church, Round Grove United Church, has a stewardship program where member’s of the congregation speak for a few minutes on the meaningfulness of the church and how giving has been meaningful. This year I was asked, and this was my testimony.

Round Grove’s yearly stewardship campaign focuses on the need of the giver to give.

Christ said in Matthew 7:16-20, “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

Jesus was saying that Christians, all Christians, are the good trees — must be the good trees. And if we are the good trees we cannot help but bear good fruit.

As I look over this congregation, I see mentors who have showed me, showed all of us ways of bearing the good fruit here at Round Grove:

My wife Trish – who demonstrated the joy of teaching Sunday School over a decade ago when I hung around at the beginning of her Sunday School to “help out a little”. Now I have been teaching here at Round Grove for over ten years.

Grady Quick, my friend who has showed me how to deal with difficult situations with perspective and humor.

Past and current members of the Board of Trustees and the Deacons, whom I have heard some call “do nothing”, but who painstakingly set priorities and did more with far fewer resources than most people will ever know.

Our own Pastor Wells, who has demonstrated personal sacrifice time and time again. I will never forget several years ago when he offered to defer his own salary when Round Grove was low on cash. I will never forget.

Those who show up every week — in very hot robes as I discovered a few weeks ago — and shared their gift of Music with the congregation.

Those families whose example of years of selfless service has amazed me: the Lennerts, the Littrells, the Howells, the Murphys, and many more.

Bud Keil, who showed up at church last week, not even missing one Sunday after a heart attack. Amazing.

So much good being done here at our Church. So much more than I have time to mention (I promised Byron to limit myself to 3 minutes…sorry Byron).

I think this “good fruit” was what attracted my wife Trish and I to Round Grove many years ago. We joined because we felt the welcoming Christian Fellowship that Round Grove offers.

We have continued to be a part of the Round Grove family because we wanted to help in serving God by working side by side with you, our brothers and sisters, to build things up, and to be built up ourselves, in a world that seems to celebrate tearing down, negativity, and hurting others.

1st John 3:11-18 says “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

I’d be a hypocrite if I left you thinking that I feel I measure up to these words…I don’t. But I do know that I love you all here at Round Grove and I am awed and inspired by you. You have challenged me to strive harder by the example of your dedication and loving service.

It is humbling, yet a privilege, honor, and blessing to be a part of this congregation.

Champion What Makes You Unique

The last couple of weeks have been crazy, a vistor down our chimney (squirrel claws, not Santa Claus), half our tree snapping off in the front yard, a trip to the ER, and having to look for new employment due to my job being cancelled. But, you can learn a lot from a plumber…

The Timline

  • 9:00am — “Twas the the day before Thanksgiving, and to the neighbors bathrooms we did roam, for no water was draining in the in-laws home” — and a clogged up house before thanksgiving is a serious matter.
  • 10:00am — My brother-in-law, Larry, and I tried to unclog it with a 40 foot drain cleaner “snake”. No luck.
  • 11:00am — A plumber was called that morning and said “We’ll be there by 4 this afternoon”.
  • 5:30pm — no plumber. A phone call reassured us that the plumber would be there.
  • 6:30pm — through a valiant effort by my mother-in-law, we have a great Thanksgiving meal (yes, on Wednesday — when 3 families are involved things get complicated).
  • 7:30pm — still no plumber. A phone call told use that “they should have called you and let you know that the plumber wasn’t coming”. Grrrrrr.
  • 7:31pm — panic sets in. What are the odds of a plumber coming the evening before Thanksgiving?
  • 7:33pm — Not too bad apparently. One says he’ll be there in 15-20 minutes
  • 7:50pm — Plumber arrives.
  • 8:45pm — Drain clog which turns out to be 100 feet down the sewer line is fixed. There is much rejoicing.

The Rest of the Story

Pretty boring story, except for the plumber that showed up. I’ll let his phone book ad do the describing: Image of one armed plumber phone book ad

His van had similar artwork including what may be my favorite slogan ever: We Single Handedly Beat the Competition


The Moral

Too often we try to hide what makes us unique because we don’t want be seen as different. What Mr. Merryman can teach is that we are different, and even if we don’t want to, we will stand out. By being up front about his unique appearance, Mr. Merryman ensures that we won’t forget about him and in doing so removes both surprises and obstacles.

But we can’t win just by being different. We are still being judged by the job we do; by emphasizing what makes us unique we challenge ourselves to excellence. No one wants to be remembered for a job poorly done.

So, as I embark upon my new job search, I hope I have learned the lesson of the one handed plumber well.

A Moral for the Madagascar DVD

Being a parent forces me look for the message behind a movie. Pixar movies consistently support themes of friendship, family, and individuality while DreamWorks movies like Shrek 2 have disappointed with decidedly weak messages further compromised by sexual innuendo (do we really need Pinocchio to talk about a thong?).

So it was with some uneasiness that my family went to see Madagascar at the local theatre last year. By the time the final credits rolled I was relieved by not having to field any “thong” questions, but I wasn’t impressed. Despite looking I couldn’t really find any strong message, good or bad.

Fast forward to Christmas 2005. As part of the Christmas festivities at the Morehead household, my children were gifted with a copy of the Madagascar DVD which has now been watched, listened to (while I drove the car), imitated, and repeated more times that I care to try to explain.

After repeated viewings I can now say:

  • The movie is more enjoyable that I originally thought, even after repeated viewings.
  • I like the penguins — probably a little too much (I only realized this as I blurted out that they “Aren’t creepy!” at an extended family gathering).
  • Baron Cohen’s (better know for the Ali G television show) performance as King Julian the Lemur probably saves the movie from mediocrity.
  • Even though it is hard to find, it has a moral after all, and it is a good one.

So what is the moral? To fully appreciate it, I have to recommend the Christian book Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul by John Eldredge. Wild at Heart‘s thesis is that the two extreme’s are often seen in men’s behavior: the ‘nice guy’ and the ‘macho man’. Neither extreme is healthy; instead Mr. Eldredge proposes “authentic masculinity”, big words that are better summed up as “good dangerous”. Being “good dangerous” is not being macho or wimpy, but having a solid passionate core that is willing to take risks for that which is truly meaningful. This is what the title calls “Wild at Heart”.

And “Wild at Heart” would also be a fitting subtitle for Madagascar. At the beginning of the movie Alex the Lion looks macho to the citizens of New York, but he is really living a shallow, passive, actor’s existence being careful to “never bite the hand that feeds you.” Once thrown into the wild, Alex must confront his fundamental carnivorous nature. This confrontation jolts Alex from passivity into the opposite extreme of being overwhelmed by his appetite. The climax of the movie is when Alex harness his wildness by being “good dangerous”; feared and respected by his enemies, but loving toward his friends.

This is a message I support. All men, young and old, need both the passion and the discipline to be “good dangerous”.

I only wish the message were told more clearly.