Is Your Pastor or Priest a Man of Action? Check Out Pastor Stephen Grant in, for example, WINE INTO WATER: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL, MURDERER'S ROW: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL and THE RIVER: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL by Ray Keating

Pastor Stephen Grant?

Stephen Grant is the pastor at St. Mary’s Lutheran Church on eastern Long Island. Grant is one of the more unique second-career clergy around, as he once worked for the CIA. Besides theology, his interests include archery, golf, writing, classic films, the beach, poker, baseball, and history. Grant also knows his wines, champagnes and brews. Oh yes, he generally dislikes politicians, and happens to be an expert marksman with a handgun and a rifle, while being pretty handy with a combat knife as well.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

“Batman and Harley Quinn” – Stunningly Bad

by Ray Keating

0 Stars out of 5

Batman: The Animated Series, which ran from 1992 to 1995, was a marvelous achievement in animated television. It was a fascinating blend of cutting-edge Batman in a 1940s-style visual setting. For good measure, the creators found the perfect voice for Batman, provided by Kevin Conroy.



So, when I heard that Warner Brothers would be returning to this universe in a new animated movie called Batman and Harley Quinn, I was on board. The movie had a one-night theatrical release, so, along with my two sons, it was off to the movies on Monday night, August 14, looking forward to a triumphant return of this Batman on the big screen.

Make no mistake, I wanted Batman and Harley Quinn to be good … very good. Unfortunately, it turned out to be stunningly bad. And I don’t make such judgments lightly. As a storyteller myself, even when I dislike a book, television show or movie, I work to find something that I can point to that I enjoyed or appreciated. Batman and Harley Quinn offers nothing to appreciate.

The story was weak, uneven, and in the end, full of holes. Batman and Nightwing were underwhelming, to say the least, as characters and heroes. The animation during action scenes came up woefully short. And thanks to Harley Quinn, viewers must suffer through fart jokes, and over-the-line sexual innuendo. Quite frankly, this entire movie came across as being made by teenage boys.



And of course, what makes Batman and Harley Quinn so much worse is the fact that Batman: The Animated Series was so darn good. Alas, even the voice of Kevin Conroy – who many of us consider the “real Batman” – could not save Batman, Nightwing and assorted villains in this movie. So, let’s just forget this film. Don't bother with the DVD/Blue Ray. Let’s pretend it never happened. And instead, grab the DVDs of the 1990’s television series, and enjoy some great Batman storytelling.

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Ray Keating is the author of the PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVELS. The latest in the series is WINE INTO WATER.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Is “The Shroud Conspiracy” an Anti-Dan-Brown Thriller – In a Good Way?

by Ray Keating

In his first thriller, John Heubusch, the executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, earns the moniker of being an anti-Dan-Brown novelist – and I mean that in a good way. The Shroud Conspiracy (Howard Books, New York, 2017, 402 pages, $26) ranks as an engrossing, easy page-turner, like much of Dan Brown’s work, but, unlike Brown, Heubusch shows respect for the Christianity in which the story is rooted.



Writing a Christian-based – in this case, Catholic – work of fiction can be tricky. After all, Christian fiction often can be sugary, with cardboard characters and stilted, unrealistic dialogue. Meanwhile, at the other extreme are works of fiction that dismiss or are hostile toward Christians or the Church.

Heubusch avoids these extremes. His book moves along nicely. His characters come across as real people, who act, speak and react in ways that seem reasonable, even as Heubusch puts them in fantasy-like situations. Indeed, he takes his characters and the readers on a wild ride weaving together the Vatican, Catholic relics, atheists, scientists, faithful Catholics and the misguided, likeable and not-so-likeable priests, a crazy cult, some globe-trotting, and both the miraculous and the heretical. Heck, there’s even a cute little dog that plays a role in this tale.

And there’s more that makes this more than just a shallow thriller. A question wrestled with by the characters in The Shroud Conspiracy is not if science and faith are necessarily in conflict, but rather, can science acknowledge that it has limitations?

The two main characters have an intriguing relationship. Domenika Jozef works for the Vatican, and Dr. Jon Bouderant is a scientist who the Vatican hires to put together a team of experts to test the validity of the Shroud of Turin. Sexual tension emerges between the two. But the will-they-or-won’t-they question is not necessarily about clashing personalities, but rather strikingly different worldviews. Domenika is a devout Catholic, while Jon is a very public atheist. It is Domenika who asks Jon: “Are you willing to agree that science may never be able to grasp the divine?” The question eventually is answered in an edge-of-the-seat, conspiracy-thriller manner.

As the fast-paced story unfolds involving the natural and the supernatural, the everyday and the miraculous, and the beliefs of individuals being put to the test, if you will, I thought of what the resurrected Jesus, after showing Thomas the marks of his wounds from being crucified, said: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Yes, this is a thriller that lends itself to reflection, debate and discussion.

The Shroud Conspiracy is packed with action, some big issues to ponder, and welcome character development. Unlike some thrillers and certain Christian fiction, Heubusch engages the reader on assorted levels.

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Ray Keating is the author of the PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVELS. The latest in the series is WINE INTO WATER. Coming soon is the seventh book in the series titled LIONHEARTS.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

PRE-ORDER Signed Copies of LIONHEARTS: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL

PRE-ORDER Signed Copies of LIONHEARTS: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL now at a Sale Price!



War and Terrorism on American Soil in Award-Winning Novelist Ray Keating’s New Thriller LIONHEARTS: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL

Stephen Grant, Former Navy SEAL, Onetime CIA Operative and Current Lutheran Pastor, is Back in the Fight

Go to www.raykeatingonline.com. LIONHEARTS will be shipped just prior to September 5th publican date!

Sale on All 7 Signed Pastor Stephen Grant Novels.  Order all of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels, and you effectively get a signed LIONHEARTS for free!

In LIONHEARTS: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL by Ray Keating, war has arrived on American soil, with Islamic terrorists using new tactics. Few are safe, including Christians, politicians, and the media. Pastor Stephen Grant taps into his past with the Navy SEALS and the CIA to help wage a war of flesh and blood, ideas, history, and beliefs. This is about defending both the U.S. and Christianity.

With action on the churches, home, media and political fronts, LIONHEARTS: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL ranks as a breathtaking, edge-of-your-seat thriller. Tragedy, justice, faith, love, friendship, violence, death and loss, hatred, courage, commitment and patriotism are brought to life for the reader. As with his earlier novels, Keating also serves up fascinating characters and relationships, humor, and crisp dialogue.

Keating’s previous thrillers/mysteries – WINE INTO WATER: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL, MURDERER’S ROW: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL, THE RIVER: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL, AN ADVENT FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL, ROOT OF ALL EVIL? A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL and WARRIOR MONK: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL – have received widespread praise. For example, Kirkus Reviews has said the following:

On WINE INTO WATER: “A first-rate mystery makes this a series standout…”

On MURDERER’S ROW: “Action fans will find plenty to love here, from gunfights and murder sprees to moral dilemmas.”

On THE RIVER: “A gritty, action-stuffed, well-considered thriller with a gun-toting clergyman.”


Keating also has been called “a great novelist” by the host of KFUO’s “BookTalk” radio, and MURDERER’S ROW won the 2015 Book of the Year award from KFUO radio.  And Lutheran Book Review declared, “I miss Tom Clancy. Keating fills that void for me.”