In light of Roe v. Wade

FeaturedIn light of Roe v. Wade

In light of SCOTUS overturning Roe v. Wade, I offer the following from A New Eden, Part II of Idolatry:


Sophia’s white-gloved hands were lying in her lap, holding the Easter lilies she had taken from the arrangement next to where the casket had been.

“Keep driving please, Sam.”

Sam kept driving, passing the turnoff to the garage, continuing at a measured pace down the narrow lane, over the rolling grassy hills and through the shaded woody vales, all the way to the back of the estate, to where on the crest of the last hill stood the majestic red oak, where from the oak’s high branch hung the swing.

Sophia could still hear the squeals of delight as Roger or Aaron would push Julie. “Higher! Higher!” Julie would demand, her bare legs and feet reaching for the sky, her head thrown back in abandon as she arced out and up, over the falling slope beyond, over the easterly flatland, finding weightlessness in the open sky.

“Momma, I’m flying. . . .”

As had become their custom, Sam stopped the car fifty yards short. Sophia walked alone the rest of the way. She stood now before the swing, staring blankly at the empty wooden seat as it creaked and rocked gently in a passing lullaby of a breeze. Standing here, she would always be able to hear her daughter’s floating, soaring laughter. The memory, a mother’s sacred blessing, was now her burden forever to bear. Next to the swing was the granite stone, flush in the ground. On the stone’s polished face, unmossed and unweathered, the engraved letters and dates were too fresh, too young, too new. They always would be.

Almost from the moment Julie became a teenager, the laughing had ceased and the struggle had begun. Her driving desire for independence pushed against all restraints—reason and sensibility be damned. Missed curfews, angry arguments, stony silences, hurled accusations, slammed doors. Sophia wasn’t terribly surprised—her daughter had always been willful and independent, as Hales tended to be—yet she was disappointed. She had hoped to be spared. Aaron, through his teens, had never caused the slightest problem or concern. Julie lashing out was wounding, to be sure, but Sophia endured, knowing they would get through it somehow, as countless mothers and daughters through the ages had gotten through such phases. With all the sympathy and empathy she could muster, she kept the relationship tacked and pinned and stitched together through the strains, impasses, bitterness and tears, knowing that the two of them would survive and overcome, eventually. They were strong. They loved. They trusted each other. They were honest. Sophia would be there, waiting on the other side for her healthy, happy daughter to re-emerge. It would only be a matter of time, of perseverance. . . . But it required more patience than Sophia ever imagined she would have to find.

Then, in the middle of Julie’s fifteenth year—sooner than Sophia had hoped or expected—Julie’s demeanor changed. Indeed, her entire personality changed, practically overnight.

She had met a boy from the Church who convinced her to attend a youth service with him. Within a week, she declared herself a Christian, a redeemed Lamb of the Flock—saved. At meals she effused about Jesus’ fathomless love and God’s grace, which was not only her own personal salvation but the salvation of the whole world. Her black jeans, her formless, dark sweatshirts and her ragged sneakers were replaced by conservative knee-length dresses and low-heeled shoes and sandals. Her black hair with the rebellious red streak was dyed back to the original brunette. Her pixie cut was left to grow back out. Her makeup and jewelry were discarded—Sophia quietly rescued a set of diamond studs and a string of pearls from the garbage.

Her mother had welcomed the change with only minimal unease. At the dinner table, Sophia preferred the exhortations and enthusiasm for all things Flock to the seething and heavy silences punctuated with spewed anger. Yet she couldn’t shake the feeling that her daughter had jumped out of the frying pan and into—not the fire, but a vat of warm, sugary, liquid gelatin. The overt kindnesses and effervescent expressions of love for everyone and everything seemed to Sophia little more genuine or justified than the anger and venom. How long would this new spiritual high last? How long would the new medium buoy Julie up? How long before the gelatin would begin to solidify around her? How long before the spell broke?

Less than six months, as it turned out. In the middle of the school year, Julie insisted on transferring from her private school to the Flock’s academy. Roger had refused initially, but with Sophia’s patient persistence and urging, he finally acquiesced.

At the beginning of the summer break, Julie had travelled with a busload of Flock youth to a Church retreat at a campground in southern Idaho. When she returned, the effervescence and effusiveness had vanished. She wouldn’t talk, she wouldn’t open up, no matter what Sophia or Roger or Aaron tried. Once again, she shut everyone out. Through the locked bedroom door, her pillow-muffled, retching sobs could be heard late into the night. Surely, Sophia guessed, the problem was now a boy, perhaps even a girl—but she could get nothing out of her daughter.

After a few days, Julie pulled herself together enough to continue attending church services and activities. She donned a brave smile but remained subdued. A few weeks later, Sophia came home at midday to meet with the electrician about the pool heater. Julie’s book-bag and purse were on her bed. Julie herself was nowhere to be found. On a mother’s hunch, Sophia drove to the back of the property.

Julie was there on her swing, rocking herself gently, head leaning against one of the ropes. After a forlorn search of her mother’s eyes, the dam finally broke and the despair poured out. Julie was pregnant, of course. It had been a Flock boy, of course. She wouldn’t say which. She had gone to a church counselor that morning. He had informed her in gentle but firm terms that her only option was to have the baby—unless she wanted to lose her soul and go to hell for the murder of one of God’s children. Still hardly more than a child herself, Julie was distraught, devastated.

Sophia was heartbroken for her daughter—and furious, not at Julie’s actions, but at the Church’s response. She pried the name of the counselor out of Julie and arranged a meeting. The counselor was polite and empathetic, but he wouldn’t back down. He insisted he would have told the same to his youngest daughter, a year younger than Julie: murder was murder. There was now a child of God in Julie’s womb, and Julie’s duty was to carry her God-given burden, to give birth, and to raise the child to adulthood. Julie’s life was no longer her own. Other young mothers had managed it—Julie would manage it as well. Fortunately she had Sophia to help her. God didn’t promise that our lives would be easy, only that it was our duty to carry whatever cross he gave us to bear on this earth, for which we would be rewarded in heaven.

Sophia next stormed the parish, but Reverend Lundquist was away on a tour of the Flock’s missions in Central America. He couldn’t be reached, or so his secretary insisted. Sophia’s daily messages went unanswered.

For two more agonizing weeks, Julie struggled. She struggled with her conscience and with her hopes for her future, with her hopes for her life and for her soul. When Julie allowed it, her mother was at her side. In the end, with her mother’s approval and escort, she made an appointment at the clinic and had the abortion.

The drive home had been in a thick silence. Sophia reached out to hold her daughter’s hand. Julie pulled away, clasping her own hands in her lap, staring out of the window.

She stopped going to church. Sliding back into her darkness, she began palliating her shame and grief with food—any and all food she could get her hands on, any she could keep down. After gaining thirty pounds, she suddenly stopped eating and lost all the weight—and then more weight. She returned to church and went to a different Flock counselor, this time a woman, who told her that God would forgive her, but only if she were truly and genuinely remorseful and ashamed for her grievous sins, for having sex out of wedlock and for murdering her unborn child. Given the severity of the transgressions, the counselor prescribed a six-month regimen of weekly personal and group counseling and prayer, supplemented by five hundred hours of voluntary duty in the orphanage, taking care of the babies that other young mothers, following God’s will, had given birth to. Julie asked her mother later what had happened to all the mothers of those babies. Sophia could only guess. A couple of them, she knew, had worked at the resort, but they had long since disappeared from the community.

Long talks between mother and daughter and longer silences followed. Julie regretted having slept with the boy, or more accurately, having done so without protection, but she couldn’t bring herself, as hard as she tried, to feel wrong for having done so. She was chagrined at having made what she considered to be a serious mistake, but she simply was not ashamed of it, and she couldn’t make herself feel an emotion she didn’t feel. The act of lovemaking, she told her mother, had seemed neither wrong nor unnatural. She had been following a desire that God surely had given her for a reason. She had felt terrible about the abortion but she couldn’t bring herself to feel genuinely guilty for that either, given the alternative, which was simply unthinkable to her—and she was too honest to fake a remorse that didn’t and couldn’t exist.

She attended another few church services. Of course they knew. Everyone knew. One of the girls working at the clinic probably had a friend of a friend who was a Flocker. The only secrets in Aurum Valley were the ones nobody cared about. As she told her mother afterwards, she felt as if the whole congregation were watching her. Many had gone out of their way to express sympathy and understanding, seeming almost grateful for something they wouldn’t come out and name, as though they were somehow relieved at what she had done—that she, Julie Hale, was a sinner—that she, of all the girls in the valley, had sinned.

Sophia accompanied Julie to church the next Sunday, and she experienced it too. She was approached and greeted eagerly with a fresh, enthusiastic acceptance, as though the Flock members were appreciative that Sophia and her family had been brought down to a status as low—perhaps even lower—than their own. God had revealed that the Hales, too, were subject to human fallibilities and carnal hungers; their weakness and true nature had finally been revealed; they had been brought down to a position from which only God could raise them up again, up to the more humble plane of the Flock.

Julie lost another twenty pounds she couldn’t afford to lose before waking in the hospital with an IV in her arm, having fainted in her room while the rest of the family ate dinner. As her daughter was being released, three days later, Sophia had choked back tears on catching a glimpse of Julie’s back when she was changing into her street clothes. She looked like a concentration-camp victim, all skin and bones. It was less than a month later, on another spring day as faultless and beautiful as this Easter afternoon, that the housekeeper found Julie hanging in her bedroom closet, the belt from her Procession robe around her neck.

Julie had never had a chance to wear the robe. She had been so pleased and excited when she bought it, months ahead of time. She was so looking forward to her first Procession. Sophia had left the robe hanging in the closet.


Quent Cordair, A New Eden, Part II of Idolatry, 2016

For this Father’s Day ~

FeaturedFor this Father’s Day ~

For this Father’s Day, a favorite passage from Genesis, Part I of Idolatry, the meeting of the sculptor Apollonius and the boy Myron ~


… It was just so, late one evening. He had worked through the night and day prior on another mausoleum frieze, trying to reach a state of exhaustion and numbness that would overwhelm him enough that he could sleep. In the scene, the mourners surrounding the dead body were distraught; all were focused on the deceased except one figure – a man who had turned to look out at the viewer, searching for an unfindable answer. His face was sorrow incarnate.

Apollonius sat on the floor, his head fallen, his body bowed over and so tired that he could no longer lift his arms, and still his soul hurt too much to rest. The tears began to fall, making silent splashes in the marble dust on the floor, as the night’s last candle burned low.

He sniffed – and heard an echoing sniff, disembodied, not his own. He sniffed again. Another small sniffle answered. He opened his eyes to find a toddler sitting on the floor next to him, gazing up at the funereal scene, tears rolling down the urchin’s dust-caked cheeks. He was begrimed but beautiful, with auburn-bronze curls and hazel eyes flecked with umber and gold. The bedraggled cloth draping his little body was a dirty rectangle of coarse, undyed wool, a hole cut out for the head. Of the pins meant to hold the sides of the cloth together, one had torn loose, the other had ripped nearly away and was hanging by only a few threads.

Seeing Apollonius’s distraught face, the boy began crying all the harder. The two looked at each other and cried on, emptying the depths of their grief until Apollonius could no longer bear the pathos, such a pitiable outpouring from such a flawless creature who surely could know so little yet of pain, a mere child with the prospect of a lifetime of joys before him. The scene had become an absurd injustice, and from somewhere in Apollonius’s soul, from a place he had thought had long died, something rose through the thick sadness, bubbling upwards to escape –

He laughed.

It was an agonized laugh, a pained laugh, but a laugh nonetheless, and the boy, in turn, laughed at the sound of it. Apollonius put his arm around the boy and pulled him close. The two cried and laughed together until the candle flickered its last, until the forlorn faces on the frieze had vanished into the blanketing darkness, until sleep overcame the night….

To enjoy more of the Idolatry story ~…/…/B00MUWOWDW

For this “Earth Day”

FeaturedFor this “Earth Day”

For this “Earth Day,” a passage from A New Eden, Part II of Idolatry. The year, 1852:

…When the day ended and darkness fell, Thomas walked away from the wagon train and into the wilderness, headed south with a vague notion of going to Mexico, with nothing on his person but the clothes on his back, the knife on his belt and, in his satchel, a flint, a small package of hardtack and dried beef, and his father’s edition of Lyell’s Principles of Geology.

Through the night and the next day he walked, seeing not a trace of humanity and scant signs of wildlife. The next evening he found himself standing atop a high hill overlooking a desolate valley.

Close to the west, a range of snow-tipped mountains rose like the ramparts of a citadel. At the valley’s south end lay a shallow marsh fed by snowmelt, mostly dried up from the long summer’s heat, miles of alkali flats left in the ebb. The mountain shadows were growing long across the valley floor. The desert heat was cooling rapidly as the sky began to shift into the loveliest, most vivid palette he had ever seen—a parasol of pastels over hills turning tangerine and deep saffron, the mountains tinted cornflower-blue and violet. He gathered enough deadfall and brush for a small fire and, after a light supper, nestled down beside a low wall of stone he built to hold the fire’s heat. After reading a chapter of Lyell by firelight, he slept, with moonlight for his blanket and a stone for his pillow.

He spent three days alone on the summit—reading, thinking, remembering his father, considering his future, weighing his options, taking in the view. On the fourth morning, the fire had gone cold in the night. The scant supply of brush and wood on the summit was exhausted, as was his meager store of food. But looking out over the valley, he judged it to be the most beautiful place he had ever seen. The assessment was, he knew, due in no small part to the fact that he, Thomas Thornton Hale, was the only person in the valley. He had never enjoyed the luxury of having even the smallest corner of earth he could call his own. He and his father had shared the bedroom of their two-room cabin. On the wagon trail, a person had to venture over a hill or around a stand of trees for any privacy from fellow travelers. He looked around him that morning, from the rocks at his feet to the far horizons, and he said—“My hill.” He said it to himself and to the land and to the sky—“My hill. My valley. My world.”

There was no one there to dispute his claim. And so it was so.

He wanted to memorialize the moment and the place, but there was nothing resembling a flag or stake to plant in the ground. He had burned all of the loose wood. Other than rocks and scattered scrub, the only thing of substance left nearby was a barely living, severely torqued tree—an ancient bristlecone pine, wide at its base, with stunted arms and spindly fingers reaching for the sky, a few clusters of needles still surviving in the branches, roots clinging tenaciously to the back side of the summit. Other than a narrow strip of bark running up one side, the twisted torso and limbs were all but denuded, the exposed wood blanched white and polished smooth and hard as stone by the elements. Thomas carved his initials and the date into the trunk with his knife.

Having left his mark, he wanted something of the place to take with him. Over the past days, he had noticed a long thin vein of reddish quartz, not more than a few inches wide, cutting diagonally across the summit like a scar, exposed between the upended layers of porphyritic strata. Scattered pieces of the quartz had broken off at the surface. He chose one the size of a dove’s egg and put it in his pocket.

He was ready to rejoin civilization. There were things he needed to do before he could return to the valley….


Read more…

For this Mothers Day, an excerpt ~

FeaturedFor this Mothers Day, an excerpt ~

For this Mothers Day, I offer an excerpt from the current draft for IDOLATRY, Part III, The Fruit of the Tree (working title):

The lines had shuffled forward. Paige found herself standing next to the mother. The baby, bundled in her arms, had settled and calmed. He was so beautiful, so right, his blue eyes as clear and complete as little planets, encircled with rays of long blond lashes. His lips were ripe petals, formed for ready suckling. His ivory skin was of the most translucent, softest white marble imaginable, a glowing blush in the cheeks only the most accomplished painter might capture. Every little hillock and vale of his little body’s topography, every rise and fall, every curve and round—it was all mere suggestion of the man to come, all mere promise, and yet, here he was, already present, already real. And flawless. To mothers everywhere, in all times, all but the most unfortunate babies are perfection, but Paige simply couldn’t imagine any woman wanting anything more or less than what this woman held in arms—a complete little world in himself, needing and wanting nothing more, lacking nothing, being everything. There was nothing to add, nothing to subtract, nothing to change. This—this perfect little thing should be untouchable, undefilable, always and forever. How could anything on earth or in heaven be more perfect and whole, in and unto itself? If only it could remain so, if only he might never come to know a moment of sorrow, of pain, of evil, of disappointment. Paige wanted to draw a circle of protection around him, an impenetrable halo of sacredness, to suspend time.

She was blinking away a welling wetness in her eyes. An ache had come to her heart, her stomach: she herself would never have that. She would never have what this woman had. She had never really even wanted it until now, never wanted a child, but at this moment, she found herself wanting it more than anything in the world. How could any woman not?

She looked up to find the mother watching her. Her eyes understood. Woman to woman, the one knew the other’s ache, recognizing the depth of the longing in a woman-child who had lost her own mother, a daughter who wanted nothing more, in that moment, than to be a mother herself.

The mother glanced down at her child, and back up to Paige. Wordlessly, she asked the question.

Paige could only nod, blinking back tears, stunned at the kindness of the offering, a place inside her heart breaking open.

As she accepted the baby, her arms naturally, gently formed around him. It felt so right. She felt her entire body warm with joy. He was so small, so light. She gazed into the blue orbs, perfect worlds of their own, as they gazed back into hers. She marveled the beauty of the little face in all its wondrous glory. He was staring back into a face that was new to him, too, seemingly as fascinated with her as she with him. Her rocking sway, the gentle bounce, had started without her realizing or intending it. She began humming a melody. Her lullaby. Skye’s lullaby….


Parts I & II of Idolatry are available in ebook, paperback and audiobook on Amazon….

Martin Eichinger’s Lullaby

available in limited-edition through

Quent Cordair Fine Art in Napa, CA

(707) 255-2242

The real meaning of Earth Day

FeaturedThe real meaning of Earth Day

For this Earth Day, a brief passage from Chapter 3 of A New Eden, Part II of Idolatry:

The sun had risen high. The breeze was warm on their faces. Ian produced a bottle of chilled white wine and two glasses, removed the cork, and poured. He raised a toast.

“To another day in paradise.”

She touched her glass to his. They drank, the sunbeams reflecting off the wine and the glasses, dancing across their faces, splashing in their eyes. The wine was crisp, light and good.

“Paradise . . .” she mused aloud.

He had used the word without a trace of sarcasm or irony. The dry ruins beneath their feet, the surrounding hills, and the alkali flats were predominantly in chalky browns, yellows and whites. The sparse native vegetation was all of the scrubby, hardier varieties, evolved over the eons to survive the long droughts, blazing summers and freezing winters of the high desert. From the reservoir, her eye followed the river, the presumable source of all things green in the valley proper. There were bends in the river’s line, but other segments were unwaveringly straight – it wasn’t a natural river at all, but a manmade canal.

“Paradise – ” She smiled at the epiphany – “just add water.”

Ian had laid out an offering of cheese, olives, fruit, and finger sandwiches. “When the first explorers came through this way,” he said, pausing to sample a strawberry, “the valley was a desolate wasteland. There was hardly a reason to even note it on the maps. Most of the early settlers passed north of here, following the Humboldt River west. The few who detoured this far south saw little if anything to recommend the valley – they barely paused on their way to California.”

Paige watched his eyes. They were shaded by the brim of his cowboy hat, following the lay of the land with an easy acceptance and steady intent. His body was relaxed, at one with the place, as if he too had sprouted from the earth here, watered and grown by the river that was a canal. She followed his gaze, trying to imagine the unwelcoming, harsh emptiness that the valley must have been.

“But one man came,” he said, “and that man stood alone on the top of this hill, above where we are now. He envisioned a paradise in this place – and proceeded to make it so.”

There was solemnity in his voice. Paige set her glass quietly on the stone. “Do tell. . . .” she urged.

He glanced at her, studying her in the same steady way he studied the land. Adjusting his hat, he took a bite of an olive, followed it with a sip of wine, and looked out to the horizon and beyond.

“At the time, that man wasn’t even a man yet – ” he said, letting the story begin – “but a boy.”


Enjoy the acclaimed IDOLATRY series in paperback, audiobook, and ebook ~


None more wondrous or impressive . . .

None more wondrous or impressive . . .

Never has there been a god or goddess more wondrous or impressive than the wondrous and impressive beings after whom they were modeled. Man is quite incapable, thank goodness, of inventing an entity more remarkable or exalted than himself. The gods are nothing more, nothing less, than creations molded from Man’s own characteristics, his own virtues and vices, his own qualities reconfigured and remodeled in effort to answer his own hopes, longings, fears, and uncertainties. The gods are, at best, reflections of Man’s own essence, distillations of his own actuality, glorifications of his own potential. At the end of the creative day, however, though he may fervently wish or believe otherwise, no creation of Man can be Man’s master. Though the creator may bow and worship the creation, the creation is not, and could never be, the creator’s superior. The creation can be nothing more than the creator’s servant, a means to his end. If the creator chooses to kneel before his creation, he is free to do so, but he cannot blame the creation for staring back at him in mute wonder.

~ Quent Cordair, on Idolatry

The Idolatry story opens in the twilight of the Roman Empire. As the darkening forces of mysticism descend on Western Civilization, the daughter of itinerant traders is falling fast for a local boy—the apprentice and adopted son of a sculptor. The old master, concerned for the boy’s future, recalls his years as a younger man in bustling Alexandria, where he had found the love of his life before having to flee the threat of religious persecution. Now, having finally rebuilt his life and career in a village far away, an enemy from the past reappears, threatening all he holds dear….

Parts I & II of Idolatry, *Genesis* and *A New Eden*, are now available in ebook, paperback, and audiobook editions on Amazon. Part III is being written.


I used to live in Charlottesville

I used to live in Charlottesville

I used to live in Charlottesville. Today I’m reminded of this: “All of humanity was reforming into packs, each pack for protection against the others, with the barking and baying growing louder as the collectives circled, sizing each other up. Disassociated individuals were viewed warily, with suspicion, branded as a danger. If you aren’t for us, you must be against us. Choose! In the press and on social media, behind the slanted headlines and sniping innuendo, the snapping and snarling were intensifying, the pretense of civility crumbling as the packs grew and merged, the smaller groups absorbed into the larger. The collectives were circling and coalescing, testing and reaffirming loyalties, choosing leaders, sharpening claws, baring teeth. Self-loathing and fear were turned and projected outward. Homo sapiens was becoming increasingly less sapiens, devolving, seemingly doomed to another round of sub-civilized, tribalistic brutality. How dark would the next darkness be? How long would it last? How red would run the streets? How unexpected the particular details, the extent of the carnage?”

~ from Chapter 15 of A New Eden, Part II of IDOLATRY, from a darker moment of Professor Harris Grant’s thoughts as he sits on the edge of the cliff overlooking Aurum Valley.

The root from which a tyrant springs . . .

The root from which a tyrant springs . . .

From an exchange between Apollonius and his beloved teacher, while examining the Colossi of Memnon, considering the meaning, the purpose of the sculpture. She offers a quote from Plato: “The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness. . . . This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs—when he first appears he is a protector. . . . ” Genesis, Part I of Idolatry, is now available in paperback, for Kindle, and on audiobook.


In the twilight of the Roman Empire, as the darkening forces of religion descend on Western Civilization, a sculptor struggles to keep an ancient dream alive while honoring the love of his life and raising his adopted son. Part I of the epic 5-part IDOLATRY series. “Beautifully written, on the order of Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, with the historical insight of James Michener, it brings to life a time of great thought, great art, and its clash with religious fanaticism. Cordair writes with a poet’s sense of scene and nuance and gives us a great deal of insight into the mind of a sculptor; I found this an exciting and easy read.” ~ Alan Nitikman


Now on Amazon …

A gift for you, until midnight

A gift for you, until midnight

A little gift to help start your year off right.  This one is on me — it’s FREE until midnight Pacific tonight, Jan 3. The Amazon reading app, which works on any device, is free too. “Beautifully written, on the order of Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, with the historical insight of James Michener, it brings to life a time of great thought, great art, and its clash with religious fanaticism. Cordair writes with a poet’s sense of scene and nuance and gives us a great deal of insight into the mind of a sculptor; I found this an exciting and easy read.” ~ Alan Nitikman. Available through 12a.m. PST at


Free until midnight Pacific tonight on Amazon …