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Book Review: Under The Dome by Stephen King

By Amazon, Books & Authors, ReviewsNo Comments
under-the-dome-stephen-king-book-cover Stephen King is a Writer that I’ve always admired. But to be honest, he’s wrote that many books, I’ve always been unsure where to start.

That was until I watched the TV series Under The Dome, based on King’s two-book story with the same name. The copy of Under The Dome that I’m reviewing is one where the two books have been combined into one and therefore has the full story from start to finish.

My Review
Under The Dome is the masterpiece novel Stephen King. It literally took over my life for a good few weeks. At every available opportunity, I’ve found myself picking it up and reading more.

Under The Dome starts when an invisible dome descends on the sock-shaped town of Chester’s Mill, Maine in the USA. The dome is almost impenetrable, only letting through small amounts of air and water.

When the dome comes down it slices off the hand of a woman gardening. It slices a small aeroplane in half. A few cars crash into the dome, which explode on impact. The gardener, aeroplane pilot and trainee, and car drivers all die.

But for the people of Chester’s Mill this is just the start of their problems and things are going to get a hell of a lot worse.

Under The Dome has a full town cast of characters. Here are some of the characters, in alphabetical order:

  • Andrea Grinnell – local politician (Third Selectman) and addicted to prescription painkillers.
  • Andy Sanders – Local politician (First Selectman) and Pharmacist. Owner of the only drug store, which would have closed years ago, if it wasn’t for the help of Jim Rennie.
  • Colonel James Cox – In charge of the military outside of the dome.
  • Dale Barbara (Barbie) – A Iraq army veteran.
  • Duke Perkins – local Police Chief. That is until he meets his demise and is replaced by Peter Randolph.
  • Jim Rennie (Big Jim) – Local politician (Second Selectman) and a used car salesman. He also has a secret illegal business of making, selling and shipping methamphetamine.
  • Joseph McClatchey (Scarecrow Joe) – a very clever teenager. He is often with his two friends (Norrie Calvert & Benny Drake) throughout the book.
  • Julia Shumway – Owner, writer and editor of Democrat Chester’s Mill local newspaper. Has a Corgi dog named Horace.
  • Junior Rennie – Jim’s son. Revealed to have a brain tumour that nobody knows about that influences his thinking and behaviour.
  • Ollie Dinsmore – The boy who looses everyone and everything, but manages to survive.
  • Piper Libby – A Reverend who doesn’t believe in God and lives with her dog whom she loves dearly.
  • Rommie Burpee – Owner of Burpee’s Department Store.
  • Rusty (Physicians Assistant) & Linda (Police Officer) Everett – Rusty’s character is brilliant. He sees the truth because he questions everything and follows his gut feeling. But with a wife and two children he is constantly torn between doing the right thing and protecting his family.
  • Samantha (Sammy) Bushey – A girl with a difficult life, one that’s going to get more difficult with the dome in place and will lead to tragic consequences.
  • Thurston Marshall & Carolyn Sturges – Out-of-towners.

I know that I have probably missed out someone’s favourite character. If I have and you want to let others know about your favourite character, leave a comment below, giving the character’s name and a brief description.

So what actually happens in the just over a week that the dome is in place? The answer plenty including: manipulation, lies, abuse of power, crimes – looting, rape (this scene was particularly disturbing and traumatic to read, but none the less extremely well written) and murder, false allegations, the attempted cover-up of meth labs and propane use/storage, the threat of diminishing resources – people don’t know how long the dome will be in place for and how people respond to this threat, a major explosion and fire fuelled by the propane and an abundance of death.

The TV series was mediocre. I am pleased to say that the book far exceeds the TV series, being extraordinary. In this letter King explains that in the TV series the concept of the dome is the same, but the Writers have re-imagined the plot and some aspects of the characters. He states that he sees the TV series as playing out in an alternate reality.

The Under The Dome concept is brilliant. The description is superb. The characters are have been well developed and are interesting. The pacing is terrifically fast meaning that the book grips you from the first page to the very last (it’s a total of 877 pages long). Overall Under The Dome is exceptionally well written, with not a single word wasted. Well done King.

I would go as far as saying that in writing Under The Dome King has reached his pinnacle, but I don’t feel I can say this as I haven’t read any other of his works, yet.

The Story Behind The Story
Stephen King had the idea for Under The Dome over twenty-five years ago. But every time he tried to write it, he didn’t feel that he could do the story justice. Then he was involved in a car crash, where he nearly died. For a while after the accident he thought that he might never write again. When King did start writing again, albeit more slowly than before the accident, he decided to start and complete Under The Dome as he didn’t want to die with an unfinished manuscript in his desk draw.

Review soon,



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Import: The History of Marriage in the UK

By Creativity, Gay, JournalismNo Comments

In this article we look at the history of marriage in the UK. Our history starts at 410AD, as before this time there were no written records of the history of marriage. Before written records, history was past down orally from the older generation to the younger one, unfortunately over time this oral history has been lost.

410AD – The Anglo-Saxons and Other Tribal Groups
For many people marriage is strongly associated with religion, but this wasn’t always the case. Straight marriages at this time were about peace and prosperity rather than religion. Marriages encouraged good diplomatic relations and the development of trade between two (or more) tribal groups.

It was the fathers who decided who their daughters married and the wishes of the couple were seen as irrelevant.


(Image Credit: Andrew Brooks @ Flickr)

12th Century – Consent
In 1140 Decretum Grantiani wrote a canon textbook were he introduced the concept of verbal consent to straight marriage and the requirement for a couple to consummate their union to validate their marriage.

In the 12th century the Roman Catholic Church made verbal consent and consummation necessary for the church to view the straight marriage as legitimate. Some Roman Catholic writers at the time also describe marriage as a spiritual experience tied to God’s presence. While this is not surprising, prior to this very little mention of marriage as a spiritual experience.


(Image Credit: Stuart Wrightson @ Flickr)

1549 – The Vows
The tradition of vows came from Thomas Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer. Although the book was updated later on, many of Thomas Cranmer’s words are still used in religious ceremonies today.

These vows laid the foundation for how the Roman Catholic & Protestant churches viewed straight marriage at the time as: a partnership.

Thomas Cranmer must have reflected the views of the mainstream population about marriage at the time; otherwise it would have been unlikely that the church institutions would have accepted and taken on these views.

Roman Catholic Priests at this time were still delivering marriage ceremonies (as all other religious services) in Latin.

However, the Protestant’s began delivering their services in the English language. This is significant as English was the common language and this change made marriage ceremonies (as well as all other religious services) accessible to all.

Today, Protestantism is one the most popular religions practiced in the UK. Many historians believe that changing the ceremonies to English played a huge part in making Protestantism a dominant religion.

1563 – Sacramental Marriage
The Roman Catholic Church officially declared that straight marriage was one of the seven sacraments in this year; meaning that it was something undertaken in the presence of god. The other sacraments are: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, Confession, Ordination and Last Rites.

The Protestant Church didn’t see straight marriage as a sacrament at this time.

1753 – State Involvement
The Clandestine Marriage Act (1753) set out what the state expected in order for a straight marriage to be seen as legal. It required the couple to get married in a church by a minister and issue a formal marriage announcement or to obtain a marriage license.

1836 – Civil Marriages
In 1836 it became legal for straight couples to get civil marriages, which were generally held in Register Offices. This was to accommodate both the religious and nonreligious.

For the religious it meant that they could get married in a neutral place, if for some reason they couldn’t get married in their church. For the nonreligious it gave them a place void of religion. Prior to this, nonreligious straight couples had to go through a ceremony in a church and undertake practices & traditions that they didn’t believe in.

In 1837 the civil registration of straight marriages started.

1837 – It’s All About Straight Love
Between 1837-1901 it was the Victorian Era. It is said by contemporary historians that the Victorian Era is when marriage became about love, but still only the love between a man and a women. Gay people weren’t treated well in the Victorian Era in the UK, with laws against sexual acts.


(Image Credit: Nik Mortimer @ Flickr)

Oscar Wilde – widely regarded as one of the most talented writers of all time; was accused of sodomy by the father of his male lover. He lost the trial and was sent to prison. It was rumored that he could have escaped to France, but he didn’t. Once he’d served his sentence, he moved to France.

Left: Oscar Wilde’s grave in France, covered in Graffiti by gay people from across the world.


(Image Credit: melbelleinsc @ Flickr)

1858 – Divorce
Between the 17th – 19th Centuries there were 300 cases of people wanting to end their marriages. The only way to do this was for an Act of Parliament for each marriage, as there was no accommodation for divorce in marriage law. So in 1858 the government of the time finally made divorce a legal process.

The legal process that meant those who wanted or needed a divorce could have one. But it also signified a shift in the focus of marriage from being a lifetime commitment – for better or worse, to a commitment that could be changed if life’s circumstances changed.

19th Century – Birth Control
By the 19th Century, both the Roman Catholic and Protestant Church’s had promoted procreation as the main reason for straight marriage. But as more children survived childhood, families got bigger and there was a need to use some form of contraception.

In the 1930s the Protestant Church accepted contraception, viewing it as necessary and not a sin or something God would be unhappy with. But the Roman Catholic Church has remained against any form of contraception, as they continue to see the procreation of children as a fundamental aspect of straight marriage.


(Image Credit: Viviana Hurtado @ Flickr)

2005 – Civil Partnerships
In 2005 the first gay civil partnerships took place, a year after The Civil Partnership Act came into law.

It allowed gay people to have legally recognised relationships, which granted them the same rights, protections and benefits of a married straight couple. This included legal rights, such as being one another’s Next of Kin; rights related to their partner’s children and the benefits including those of taxation reductions.

In terms of the actual act, the gay couple could have a civil partnership ceremony that could consist of anything they wanted (within the law). This could be vows, the exchange of rings, their choice in music, etc.

The Civil Partnership Act included a legal process for those gay people who may want to end their civil partnership. It is called ‘dissolution’ and works on similar legal principles to divorce.

This was the first time that the state in the UK legally recognised gay relationships. In the first five there were 42,778 gay civil partnerships.

Peter Tatchell (Gay Rights Activist) as well as others criticised The Civil Partnership Act, saying that it wasn’t complete equality as it excluded straight people from being able to be civil partners.


(Image Credit: Gary Dunne @ Flickr)

2013 – Gay Marriage
This year The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act has been passed in England and Wales. The first gay marriages are expected in March 2014.

Stonewall said of The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act:

‘This is an historic moment for lesbian, gay and bisexual people, their families and their friends. This Act will mean that, for the first time, children growing up to be gay in England and Wales will have full equality in law. We can now proudly claim to be a beacon to the world for gay equality.’

In ancient history marriage had nothing to do with religion, but helped tribes to live and thrive together. Then Christian institutions (both Roman Catholic & Protestant Churches) influenced the definition and meaning of marriage. In the last century the state has got involved for marriage, allowing marriage to be more flexible and much more inclusive.

Marriage as a concept has evolved to meet the needs and desires of society. Currently there is some debate as to what role the churches and state play within marriage. It is likely that over the next century the Churches will continue to reside over the spiritual aspect of marriage, whereas the state will continue to be involved with the legal and administrative side of marriage.

Antony Simpson, Writer of this article would like to acknowledge the following sources that supported putting together this article based on fact:

BBC – Ten key moments in the history of marriage

Office for National Statistics – Civil Partnerships Five Years On…rd/…/ard-pt145-civil-partnerships.pdf‎

Office for National Statistics – Video Summary: What does the Census tell us about religion in 2011?

Peter Tatchell – A setback for equality

Stonewall – Equal Marriage to become law – Thank You!

Stonewall – Get Hitched! A Guide to Civil Partnership

Published by: The Gay UK Feb/March 2014 Magazine (priced £1.49)


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Import: FEATURE: Coming Out of the Broom Closest

By Books & Authors, Creativity, Gay, Journalism, PaganismNo Comments
Rivington - A Place of Bewitching Beauty I’ve come out of two closets in my life. First through the rainbow-coloured door – coming out as gay. Then out of the broom closet – coming out as pagan. Every time I’ve come out as pagan, I get asked the same sort of questions. Here are some of those questions and my responses:

What is it all about?
Paganism is a nature-based religion, so as a pagan I have a reverence for nature. Paganism has a dual aspect of divinity – meaning we have both a god and goddess.

This god and goddess duality symbolises balance that can be seen in all aspects of the world and universe. We cannot have life without death, happy times without sad times, etc.

Unlike most other religions we don’t have a bible or other book that tells us what to believe. What pagans believe is much more individual to them. But the two big focuses in paganism are nature and individual responsibility for our own actions and omissions.

Paganism has values that encourage equality, respect for all living beings and empathy for others, so generally pagans are very accepting of gay people. Acts of love, pleasure and beauty are important to pagans regardless of the sexuality or gender of those involved.

Do you worship the devil?
No…we actually don’t believe in a devil.

The Druid Circle Cumbria Do you have a Church?
Nature is our church. Some of us like to worship, celebrate and practice on our own; whereas others like to get together with other pagans.

Covens are closed groups of pagans usually consisting of a maximum of thirteen people. They have a High Priestess and a High Priest as leaders of their group, kind of like priests/vicars. Coven members will teach one another what they know, including the initiates (those new to paganism). Rituals, rites, magic, music and dance will all be taught within the closed coven circle.

Pagan moots are much more open. They are open to anyone and usually held at local cafes or pubs. Some moot organisers will arrange for talks on a range of pagan topics such as: herbs, crystals, healing, ghosts/other spirits, etc. Organisers usually ask for a donation or minimal charge to attend these fascinating talks.

Samhain-2012-4 Is magic like that on Charmed? Or like Willow on Buffy The Vampire Slayer does?
No…sorry. But it can be equally effective – it just works in a different way.

Imagine I cast a Spell for money. Money won’t magically appear. But I might see a job that I can apply for that’s better paid than the one I’m doing.

Just because I’ve cast the Spell, doesn’t mean the job is automatically mine! I still have to apply for the job, go to the interview and WOW the interviewers. I have to work hard to achieve my goals – like everyone else.

What’s the difference between a Pagan, a Wiccan and a Druid?
Paganism is a broad term to describe lots of different paths that have the same principle beliefs. Wicca, Druidism and others paths may have slightly different practices but share the same principle beliefs and are therefore are all encompassed under the term paganism.

Think of it in terms of Christianity. Christianity is the over-arching term, but within that you have the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church and many others all with the same principle beliefs but with slightly different practices.

So you don’t celebrate Christmas?
We have our own holidays, many of which coincide with Christian holidays. But our big celebration is Samhain or Halloween, which to pagans is like Christmas and New Year rolled into one.

We are all individuals. Personally I celebrate Christmas with my family, because they do and because it’s a positive time for all. It’s the one time of year my family takes the time out to spend precious time together, to eat, drink and be merry – oh and of course there’s the presents!

Where can I learn more?
The best gay pagan book I’ve come across is Gay Witchcraft by Christopher Penczak. Christopher Penczak is a pagan gay man who wrote this for gay men. It even has a section on gay deities.

Other non-gay books I’ve learned a lot about paganism from are: The Real Witches’ Handbook by Kate West, Elements of Witchcraft by Ellen Dugan, Witchcraft: Theory and Practice by Le De Angeles and Everyday Magic by Dorothy Morrison. There’s also a myriad of information on the internet –just do a Google search.

Published by: The Gay UK on Tuesday 17th September 2013.

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Book Review: God Believes in Love – Straight Talk about Gay Marriage by Gene Robinson

By Amazon, Books & Authors, Gay, History2 Comments
god-believes-in-love-cover There’s been a lot of talk about gay marriage recently, not just in the UK but internationally. So when God Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay Marriage by Gene Robinson arrived from Publishers Group UK I couldn’t wait to read it, which is what I did over the festive period.

Now before I start the review I feel compelled to say upfront that I’m pagan; but I was raised as a Catholic as so much as my brothers and I all went to Catholic Schools and we attended Church on special occasions (e.g. Christenings, Weddings, Christmas, etc.). So with my Christian childhood in mind, let me tell you about this book…

Firstly it’s presented really well – hardback with parchment-like paper and a easy to read font. On the back cover there’s a quote which instantly sparked my interest from President Barack Obama which says:

“My friend Bishop Gene Robinson has long been a voice for equality – not with anger or vitriol, but with compassion and faith. He has been guided by the simple precept that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us.”
– President Barack Obama
(From: God Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay Marriage by Gene Robinson, 2012)

Gene writes in a conversational style throughout the book making it feel like you’re sat somewhere warm and cosy listening to him speak, a writing style that I found captivating. He starts with an introduction sharing his story of being in love with and marrying his best friend (a woman); having two daughters but later realising that his attraction to the same gender could not be suppressed or changed.

Gene writes that he and his wife divorced and that he later met and fell in love with Mark his husband. In this introduction he explains what marriage means to him, that he and Mark had a ‘Civil Union,’ before getting married (after it was made legal for them to do so) and the he later became IX Bishop of New Hampshire. It is a heart warming that he chose to share his life experience and I have a huge respect for him doing this as it would make most people feel exposed & vulnerable.

Gene answers ten questions commonly posed by those against gay marriage:
1. Why Gay Marriage Now?
2. Why Should You Care About Gay Marriage If You’re Straight?
3. What’s Wrong with Civil Unions?
4. Doesn’t the Bible Condemn Homosexuality?
5. What Would Jesus Do?
6. Doesn’t Gay Marriage Change the Definition of Marriage That’s Been in Place for Thousands of Years?
7. Doesn’t Gay Marriage Undermine Marriage?
8. What If My Religion Doesn’t Believe in Gay Marriage?
9. Don’t Children Need a Mother and a Father?
10. Is This About Civil Rights or Getting Approval for Questionable Behaviour?

Gene’s answers are intelligent, insightful and obviously well thought out. His knowledge of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans history and civil rights activism was fascinating. I thought I was well educated on gay history, but he conveyed some history of which I was unaware.

Gene recognises that straight people need to advocate for gay people and encourages them throughout the book to “get to know us,” listen to gay people’s stories and believe them as their truth. He asks them to try and imagine walking in a gay persons shoes.

Gene examines the meaning and context of scriptures used to condemn homosexuality which would help any gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans Christians accept their sexuality within their faith.

Gene discusses the concept of marriage and it’s evolution over centuries; this chapter of the book was absolutely engrossing. I’ve never really looked into marriage as a concept or how it’s developed over time.

Gene shares his vision for the future; where the State recognises marriage regardless of the sexuality of the people involved legislatively (giving them the same benefits, rights and protections) and that Church’s role (regardless of religion) is to invite God to bless and be a part of the marriages. Gene states that religious institutions need to look at their own stance on homosexuality and the issue of gay marriage.

Gene concludes with a chapter on God Believes in Love stating that to selflessly love another is how God feels about us his children. He encourages all to love your neighbour as you would want to be loved.

Now you’ll notice throughout this review I’ve referred to the author by his first name, Gene. That’s because by the end of the book I feel as though I’ve made a friend; one whose educational, non-preachy and represents the best of human spirituality.

If you’re undecided about gay marriage whether you’re gay or straight or merely interested in the topic you’ll love God Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay Marriage by Gene Robinson which is available to buy on Amazon.

Review soon,


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