Category Archives: Men

Elaine Walters: Fear and Age at 50

 

. Text by Elaine Walters, Copyright 2019

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Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

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Fear and Age at 50

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I feared the idea of turning 50. That number just began to hover over me around the age of 45. I sailed through my 30’s and early 40’s as if I was still a 20 year old. Those ages didn’t slow me down in the least. I felt like I had my entire life ahead of me and I had so many ideas about who I wanted to become. I lived passionately, pretty carelessly, and a bit on the wild side. I was a slave to my heart and quite impulsive because of that. But I had time, so much time make it all happen.

Then, before I knew it, I was looking in the mirror, seeing the changes. The person staring back didn’t quite look like me anymore. Then came the realization that nothing in this life is forever. I think we know that, but it’s different when the time actually comes. It’s definitely a stop and pause moment. It’s scary, the impermanence of everything, health, family, friends, careers, and the seemingly simple gift of movement. To quote a friend, “the correlation between age and loss is not unfounded.” It has definitely been a turning point in my life. A lot of reflection and “what will my legacy be, what have I done that’s important, and what happens now?”

So, here we are ~ midlife. I’m still scared, but you know what? I’ve stepped outside my comfort zone a TON in this last year. I joined CrossFit after debilitating back pain when everyone told me not to, I started a business (at fucking 50!), and last week I got in front of the camera for this photoshoot.

The photoshoot was a big one. For as long as I can remember, maybe as far back as 9 or 10, I have been hyper focused on my body’s every flaw. Every dimple, every roll. Where I’m too flat and where I’m too full. I got into bodybuilding because that’s where I was going to reshape everything that was wrong with me. I worked hard, as I always do when I want something, but the harder I worked, the harder I was on myself and my shape. The closer I got to being on stage, the more my imperfections were magnified. Then, came a moment where I thought, this isn’t what this is supposed to be about. I do this because I want to be strong, I want to feel powerful, but mostly, I want to love who I’ve come to be.

This is when my original no, I’m not comfortable enough with my body to be photographed changed to, yes, I love who I’ve become, I want to do this. I couldn’t have been more comfortable being photographed on this lovely farm. The horses, the sun, the beautiful barns. These are things that have always brought me peace, a deep connection to my soul, and all that is important to me. All of the curves that I cursed were no longer even a thought. I was at home. Maybe this is what midlife brings, realizing the things that truly matter in life, finding where beauty and strength truly exist.

In retrospect, I think I’ve lived chasing my future so intently (where will I be tomorrow), that I’ve never actually been present. I’ve never loved the moment. I’ve never loved ME in the moment ~ this moment. And the deeper truth is, I’m not sure it was my future I was chasing at all. I was chasing a better version of me. So maybe my 50’s needs to be less about fear and more about what is now, who I am now, and just loving her, in this very moment.

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About The Author: Elaine Walters lives and works in Wilmington, Delaware.  Outside of the office, all of her time is spent riding horses and running her nutrition and fitness business where she coaches clients that are fed up with the diet industry.  This is Elaine’s first contribution to Tony Ward Studio.

She can be found on Instagram @elainecoale

Also posted in Blog, Cameras, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Erotica, Friends of TWS, Glamour, lifestyle, Nudes, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Women

Robert Li: Acro Yoga

 

Text by Robert Li, Copyright 2019

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Acro Yoga

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Ikigai. Have you heard the term before? It’s a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.” Essentially, it’s a reason to get up in the morning. There is a sense of purpose and a reason to enjoy life.  If you take four elements – That which you love, That which you are good at, That which you can be paid for, and That which the world needs – and put them in a Venn diagram, your Ikigai is the intersection of all four. Someone told me that I found my Ikigai in Acro, and I believe she was right.

I came to the US from Taiwan when I was 11 months old and grew up in Huntingdon Valley before attending Drexel University, though I studied abroad in Berlin while working for the German government. I majored in International Area Studies with concentrations in Chinese and German, and minored in Business Administration and History.

After college, I was a professional party promoter and professional cheerleader for the Philadelphia Soul as well as the Philadelphia 76ers while becoming familiar with the point of sale industry. The combination of food and tech seemed like a perfect place.  Food has always been a passion of mine, so it was great to work with staff, managers, and owners all across the country.  Still, I was either working or on call from 10am to 3am every weekday and on call every other weekend.  There were a lot of perks, including working from home and free food when clients insisted I eat, but I felt like a slave to my phone because I had to answer at all hours, no matter what.  When I discovered Acro, something clicked. I wanted to do it all the time.  I realized that the other aspects of Acro align with what I enjoy in life as well: travel, meeting amazing people, and potential for beautiful photography.  At first, Acro was a hobby, but by the time my thoughts, actions, and even dreams involved Acro, I knew a life-changing decision was coming.

With the #ridetherob project, the timing was right. When I started Acro four years ago, I didn’t know what to wear. I figured others must have the same problem. Why not create something that could fill a need? The concept of creating a clothing line became more than a fleeting thought. As my passion for Acro grew into a full blown love affair, I knew I had to take actions instead of just thinking about it. My heart and mind shifted focus from my job to the possibilities of what I could do with Acro. The #ridetherob project was building a lot of momentum, and studios started approaching me to teach. With so many amazing opportunities knocking at my door, I needed to answer the call and see what adventures await. Here was a big step towards the unknown, comforted by the thought that I have a whole community of amazing people supporting me in this adventure.

I wanted to create quality apparel for active lifestyles, and I had no idea where to begin. The first step was to make my intentions known and to make the time for this endeavor. Leaving a stable job with steady income was necessary to see this through. I was a motivated and knowledge-thirsty sponge, soaking in every piece of information and detail. Then I started making moves and developing my brand and products. Active Elixir was born (www.active-elixir.com). It’s the “perfect solution for people of movement.” I would address issues people have with apparel in various movements and provide solutions for them. My focus would be on all the various niche markets, starting with which I was familiar – Acro. Now I am developing Pole Wear, Swimwear, and in the next year, Belly Dance Wear and Social Dance Wear. Items are designed with ideas I’ve had, recommendations from friends, or random inspirations, and once they were realized, I test the prototypes on people who are actively involved in the practice. I listen to what they want, gathered feedback on the piece, made changes, and try again until it’s perfect — functional, comfortable, well-made, and stylish. I offer a direct line to someone who can make the changes you’ve always wanted to see in apparel, especially for your practice. I just hope that when all is said and done, I don’t end up with an absurd amount of women’s clothing in my apartment; I want to give them happy homes. In the near future, I’m looking towards fashion shows and collaborating with yoga studios.

My other pet project is #Ridetherob.  Funny enough, the idea for it came in the shower.  I recently got into Acro, and I wanted to show people how much fun it can be. I didn’t know this little project would evolve into something more and inspire others to create challenges and personal goals beyond expectations. At first, it was to show the world what Acro was, and then it was to make people feel good and happy while creating a deeper connection between human beings. At least, that’s what I observed the first couple of years. Now I realize it shows that people can learn and do things they thought was impossible. I’m also working on adding a philanthropic element to this project as I collaborate with various charities and other events.  My current count is 5,323 people I’ve lifted up on my Journey to 10,000.  The heaviest person I lifted while on the ground was my former rugby teammate who is 360 lbs. The heaviest individual I lifted standing was 250 pounds and almost 7 ft tall. I’ve also lifted a family of 6 at the same time and did a Triple Cupie with 3 flyers standing on my hands.

The Philly Mag article was great.(https://www.phillymag.com/be-well-philly/2018/02/13/rob-li-lift-acro/) It was the first published article about the project. Being on Good Day Philadelphia and lifting the anchors as well as just about everyone in the Fox 29 office was also a lot of fun.  When CBS3 asked me to come in, I lifted anyone that wanted to be part of the project, and it seemed to make everyone’s days seeing how happy they were. (https://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/video/4121404-local-acro-yoga-instructor-on-mission-to-lift-as-many-people-as-possible-to-spread-teaching/?fbclid=IwAR0sqCjL4QA5dneLLk4BaJO3qCCljjCwiYJeDAIBUSQOpWp0yTsD-1W57x4)

Growing up, I was quite chunky. I would eat everything in sight. Then I got into sports one summer. I lost about 20 pounds unintentionally and just have been active ever since. I played football, wrestled, ran track, fenced, did cheer, and played rugby.  I coached Temple Co-Ed Cheer because the head coach wanted to bring back a co-ed stunt team and asked me to help out. It’s amazing seeing the cheerleaders progress in their skills season to season.   

I am so thankful that I did cheer. I did not know that people tossing would be such a valuable life skill to have. Having a strong foundation in the fundamentals of standing Acro has helped me achieve a variety of skills. It also led me to teaching Acro. One of the people I lifted had her own yoga studio, and she insisted I teach an Acro workshop. I told her I wasn’t certified and have just been doing Acro for a couple of years, but she told me that the way I instructed her into her pose was evidence enough that I would be good at teaching. I taught my first class and really enjoyed it. Having about 20 years of cheer experience also helps out. Because of this foundation, I was able to learn skills in 20 minutes that people work on for a year or more.

Even though I have a strong personal practice, teaching people who are trying Acro for the first time has been really rewarding. Sometimes I find myself in random situations– I’ve been invited to a number of Bachelorette parties, and I would come in and lift everyone. One of my personal goals was to hit a Rewind, which is a dynamic cheer stunt in which the flyer essentially does a back tuck while the base tosses her in the air and then catches her feet as she comes out of the tuck. I was so thrilled that I even did a Happy Dance while holding the flyer in the skill. Unlocking new skills is such an amazing feeling, especially when you work for it. Some other stories include me lifting a flight attendant while 34,000 feet in the air. I’ve done Acro on top of bars at clubs and lounges. In the kitchen or counters of restaurants. At a few gentlemen’s clubs. On stage at a gentlemen’s club. On boats and yachts. On paddle boards. At hospitals. In offices. Every day is an adventure, and I’ll do Acro wherever. The pose depends on who is flying and what feels safe and what I call concrete-ready. 

Acro has even led me to perform and compete in one of the country’s largest competitions of this kind. When I went to see Diamond G a few years ago to support my friend, I saw some Acro in one of the performances. My thought process quickly went from I can do that, to I should do that, to I will do that. For a whole year, I was thinking about who should be on the team and what I should do. I recruited very talented acrobats, aerialists, pole dancers, and exotic dancers to compete for the coveted Diamond G-String title and $15,000. Despite being new to this, we came home with the title and prize money, and I met some amazing people in the process and have the utmost respect for anyone that puts on a show of this magnitude. 

It was a challenging and exciting endeavor, much like starting an apparel company, and I’m learning more about the industry each day. Almost every night before bed and every morning when I wake up, I am talking to my contacts in Asia. There has been no shortage of delays or mistakes that needed to be addressed in a timely manner. My search for reliable manufacturers that can take my ideas and create quality products has led me down some interesting roads. For those who might be thinking about embarking on a similar project, do your research. Be prepared for a lot of things to go the way you don’t expect them to go, and learn how to overcome those challenges.  Learn from your mistakes and apply that knowledge to future situations. Take lots of notes. Make sure you have money put aside because you will be spending more than you think. Believe in yourself. Take calculated risks and put yourself out there. Be kind to everyone. You never know who you’re going to meet who can help you in some way.

It also helps to listen, and I mean really listen to what women (and male consumers too!) have to say.  I’ve learned so much about bras and boobs. It’s still very confusing though. There are many body types and preferences to consider. I’ve learned about various tests women try when deciding which pieces of apparel they purchase—squats, jumps, and inversions. Learning from women firsthand means that I can develop clothing that fits their needs directly. I’m also studying shopping habits and learning about marketing through social media. This is a lot for someone who basically posts twice a month on Instagram. Yes, I’m working on that.

The support from my friends and various Acro communities has been tremendous. I am so grateful for the amazing people that have helped me and believed in me in realizing my vision. It’s heart-warming to see how happy people are with my products. They tell me stories about how great they feel and the amount of compliments they’ve received from wearing my clothing line. It’s really rewarding to hear that after putting so much time, energy, and money into such a huge endeavor.  It can definitely be difficult at times, but it’s been incredibly rewarding, and I’m excited to see what comes next.

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About The Author: Robert Li grew up in Huntingdon Valley, PA and resides in Philadelphia. He majored in International Area Studies with concentrations in German and Chinese and Minors in Business Administration and History at Drexel University. He is the Founder of Active Elixir, a clothing brand focused on creating solutions for people of movement through apparel. With his experience as a cheerleader for Drexel University, the Philadelphia Soul, and the Philadelphia 76ers as well as Cheer Coach for Temple University, he is also an AcroYoga instructor teaching at various studios in Philadelphia and Acro festivals across the country.

www.active-elixir.com

If you want to get in touch with Rob, you can find him on Instagram – @themojoshow and @activeelixir or email him: activeelixir@gmail.com.

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, Health Care, lifestyle, News, Philadelphia, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Sports, Video

Bob Shell: The Loss of a Fine Photographer

In Memorium: David Bogen Brooks

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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THE LOSS OF A FINE PHOTOGRAPHER

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When we get older there comes a time when we have to update your address book regularly because friends have died. I’m seventy-rwo now, and I’m having to do this more often than I like.

The world of photography lost a shining star recently, and I’d like to tell you about him..

My first interaction with David Bogen Brooks was in the early 1970s, when he rejected an article I’d sent to Petersen’s PhotoGraphic, one of the best of the photography magazines of the day. I was running a photo shop in Salem, Virginia, called Camera, Inc., in those days, and decided I wanted to write for photo magazines.

I’d written an article on closeup photography with bellows illustrated with some of my photographs, and hopefully mailed it off to PhotoGraphic. A month or so later it came back, but not with a form letter saying it was rejected. Instead there was a personal letter from Brooks, complementing me on my photographs, but saying the article just wasn’t right for them at that time, and encouraging me to try again with other articles in the future. For some reason I never did, though.

Run the clock forward to the 1980s and I’d succeeded in getting my foot in the door at Shutterbug, and was their Technical Editor, but acting more like the Editor, since the rest of the staff, although very good at their jobs, were not photographers, so they relied on me to select and assign articles. I bumped into David at one of the photographic trade shows, maybe the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) show in Las Vegas or Photo+ in New York. He was between jobs at the time and looking for work. That was an opportunity not to be missed, so I brought him aboard to write for us, and over the years of working together, we became close friends. If I assigned David a product review, I could rely on getting not only a good article, but excellent photos to illustrate it. David had gone to college studying design in California after serving in the Air Force. Even though he was Canadian, he was able to join the U. S. Air Force and later become a U.S. citizen. After college he got a job working for Elektra Records and went on tour doing photography of The Doors and other Elektra artists. He told me once that he didn’t like working with Jim Morrison and considered him a dangerous sociopath.

David had what I call the “photographer’s eye.”. He could find the right angle and cropping to turn an ordinary scene into an extraordinary image. He worked with 35 mm cameras up to large format, mastering all, becoming an early adopter and expert on digital imaging.

Once, in the early 1990s, David and I met up with photographer Wayne Collins in Las Vegas for a photo shoot with model Roxanne, a featured Playboy model, and took her to the Valley of Fire State Park. We spent a day photographing lovely Roxanne nude among the orange-red rocks, which cast a warm glow on the skin of our model.. No question, David’s photos from that day were the best. Not only was he a master of composition, he had a manner that put models at ease and got the most out of them.

Another time we turned a hotel room at the Rio into an impromptu studio. David was also a master of lighting (and wrote a book about it), and we both brought studio flash for the session. I have some large prints he gave me from that session that are among my most prized possessions.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: http://tonyward.com/bob-shell-learning-photography/

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

Also posted in Affiliates, Announcements, Art, Blog, Cameras, Current Events, History, News, Photography, Popular Culture

Racquel Ward: A Practical Artist

TW in his Elkins Park office. Copyright 2019

Text by Racquel Ward, Copyright 2019

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Making Money and Art in 21st Century Philadelphia

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Philadelphia is expensive. That’s what grass-to-profit artists who have been in the game for 40 plus years will tell you about our transformed city. Consider this a public service announcement for artists of any age who are looking for stability. World-renowned and Philadelphia-based photographer Tony Ward has stuck around to see everyday life in Philly change and evolve. That means everyday life for an artist in Philly must change and evolve.

Since making money has always been the bane of the artist’s experience, Tony Ward has expanded into real estate development and education. At 63 and in his golden years, Ward has figured out the perfect recipe for a balanced life – selling art, securing property, and teaching at Haverford College in the Spring of 2020. A longtime professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Ward has chosen to sustain his creative lifestyle by working closer to home and continuing to illuminate his innovative skills through teaching photography to young artists at Haverford.

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Tony Ward Studio Apartment

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As a blogger, his well-trafficked websites tonyward.com, tonywardstudio.com, and tonywarderotica.com keep him busy publishing articles by a great supporting cast of creative writers including; A.H. Scott, Bob Shell, Katie Kerl, and Mikala Mikrut.

Through property development, Ward has recently created a stylish home for renters; making a beautiful, modern space in the historic Elkins Park neighborhood. The recent purchase and subsequent renovation has been a creative outlet for Ward. The project happily supports his photographic endeavors and allows room for his 5000 print photography archive to be stored at home instead of an offsite storage facility.

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TWS: Tennant Apartment

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Artists of all ages, take note. Non-artists are doing it, why shouldn’t you? Better you in the neighborhood than a bank. Educate yourself on the bustling real estate market in Philly, sell your art whenever you can, and pass your knowledge onto the next generation – wherever you can.

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Tony Ward Studio Apartments

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About The Author: Racquel Ward is a writer and educational therapist living in Los Angeles. She holds a BA in Culture and Media studies and a BFA in Contemporary Music from the New School University – Manhattan, New York. Racquel also holds a Master’s of Science in Teaching. She has been published on ThoughtCatalog and most recently finished her first children’s book. To access additional articles by Racquel Ward, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/racquel-ward-expo/

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Editors Note: This article first appeared athttp://dosagemagazine.com

 

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Family Legacy Project, History, lifestyle, News, Philadelphia, Popular Culture, Portraiture

Studio News: Bob Shell’s New Book!

 

NEW BOOK RELEASE!

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Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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COSMIC DANCE

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Those of you who have enjoyed my rambling discourses here will probably like my new book, my first in twelve years. It’s titled COSMIC DANCE by Bob Sbell and is available from Amazon now. (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 quality paperback; $ 5.95 EBook; 203 pages). You can get a feel for the book by reading the sample pages on Amazon.

This book is a collection of essays developed from notes written in a series of notebooks during the last twelve years while I’ve been a prisoner in Virginia. But this book is not about that story. While my body has been imprisoned, my mind has been free to wander and explore, and conduct the type of thought experiments, that Einstein favored so much.

The book is divided into four sections about things that deeply interest me:

I. Physics and Cosmology;

II. Biology and Evolution;

III. The UFO Phenomenon;

IV. Religion “Christianity”;

followed by some appendices.

The book is intended for the general reader interested in these subjects. I’ve avoided technical language and math as much as possible.

Each section steps off from established facts to explore my personal take on things. For example, did you know that you can never photograph the event happening now? To find out why, read page 73.

I’ve been an “armchair physicist” since the early 1970s when my old friend Robert Anton Wilson (see his bio on Wikipedia if you don’t know who he was) introduced me to that strange creature Schrodinger’s Cat, who is even more mysterious than the Cheshire Cat, being simultaneously both dead and alive until observed. The title COSMIC DANCE is a tip of the hat to Bob, whose most influential book is titled COSMIC TRIGGER.

Whether we like it or not, quantum physics is how the universe works. This little tablet I write on wouldn’t work in a strictly Newtonian universe. Neither would your TV, cellphone, computer, digital watch, and all the other electronic devices of modern life. Quantum physics does not follow human logic. Or maybe I should say that human logic does not follow quantum reality. Either way, there’s a mismatch between the two. For example, we humans tend to believe that the past is fixed and invariable, but it’s not. In our quantum universe neither past nor future is fixed, and much of the past has yet to be developed. Cause does not have to precede effect. The equations of quantum physics are time neutral; time may not even really exist.

In cosmology, the accepted theoretical model of the evolution of the universe tells us that galaxies should be evenly distributed throughout space, but in reality they aren’t, they’re in clumps, clusters, “walls,” so the theory must be wrong. That’s important, but cosmologists mostly ignore that fact.

In biology, even though I was originally a biologist myself, I’ve never been satisfied with Darwinian/neo-Darwinian evolution as an explanation of the biological diversity we see in the world. The theory simply doesn’t fit the facts. We need a new theory that does.

Back in the 1960s, when I was on staff at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, it was pointed out to me that there was something wrong with dinosaur footprints. They’re simply not deep enough for the projected weight of the animals, and some animals that we’ve reconstructed as walking on four legs left only prints of their hind feet, their forelegs never touching the ground. On page 137 I dig into this mystery and propose a new theory to explain this odd fact.

On page 159 I delve into the UFO phenomenon. The fact, as the New York Times recently uncovered, is that the Pentagon knows that AAVs, Anomalous Aerial Vehicles, their term for UFOs, are real and has spent millions of taxpayer dollars studying them. UFOs are real, remember that. Some official documentations of what they call “incursions” have recently been declassified. Why the secrecy in the first place? Because the Pentagon doesn’t know what they are, where they come from, or why they’re here, buzzing our ships and planes. Simply put, if they were hostile, and some may well be, our military would be helpless to defend us from them. Government is all about control, and something they can’t control scares the bejaysus out of them.

In my section on religion, I tackle religion, specifically so-called “Christianity,” on the simple premise that it’s a political system, not a religion, and is terribly dangerous because of that. It seeks to control the bodies and minds of all, believer and nonbeliever alike, as the current brouhaha about abortion shows anyone with open eyes. Our nation’s founders wanted separation of church and state for damned good reasons, and laws based on religion violate that principle, and should not be on the books. The “Christian” Church held back scientific progress and intellectual freedom for centuries, brought us the Dark Ages, and continues to try to do so today. Today’s “Christianity” has little or nothing to do with the simple, peaceful, and beautiful teachings of Yeshua, the man the Romans called Jesus.

I didn’t write this book to have readers agree with me and accept my ideas. I wrote it to make readers think, often outside their everyday comfort zones.

Like Robert Anton Wilson, I seek to make people agnostic, not just agnostic about religion, but agnostic about everything.

I hope you’ll buy and read my book, agree or disagree.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-female-nudes/

 

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