Now and Forever
Joe L. Lerma, Ph.D., M.S. (Postdoctoral)
The brilliant Hispanic physicist Raymond Escamilla has perfected the technique of time travel to the past through a novel approach that in eclectic fashion combines newly emerging concepts and findings not only in his area of expertise but from other fields that heretofore been perceived as unrelated. Through collaboration with a brilliant but emotionally inaccessible and problematic peer named Jonathan Frost, who had also been recruited to work on the project at the famed Area 51 government installation by the President of the United States, they developed time traveling instrumentation that does not travel with the time trekking traveler. Moreover, they discover that artifacts inherent in the advanced mathematical computations involved render the traveler invisible and unable to make any impact on the time period that he travels to.
Although “Ray” is certain of his mathematical calculations and instrumentation capacity to perform the journey, his quest of traveling to AD 12 and observing the interface of the boy Jesus with his society so as to bring back something of great value to our modern spiritually wayward world becomes increasingly frightening as he ponders the horrible mishaps that had occurred with animate matter. His decision to go through with the project as the first human subject tests his emotional and spiritual mettle, and causes increasing anxiety for the emotionally constricted Jonathan and for Ray’s devoted wife Becky who likewise experiences the emergence of unresolved inner conflicts that the trauma of Ray’s travels engender in her.
The time travel ensues, and Ray is first exposed to a cruel, judgmental, and unforgiving society that makes modern society’s evil pale by comparison and for which he is unable to intervene. To compound Ray’s shocked and highly stressed mind, he discovers not only that Jesus is able to see and speak to him, but is faced with the notion that God the Father has instructed Jesus to escort him through the three realms of a multi-layered Purgatory, Hell, and the outskirts of Heaven. His experiences on this journey breaks through all his psychological and intellectually rigid defenses, enables him to painfully understand truth from the previously conceived disparate standpoint of emotion, and seriously strains Ray’s sanity and heretofore rational orientation to the world and beyond. His wife Becky’s faith is similarly tested, and psychological resolution with the aid of an unlikely source occurs. Jonathan likewise sheds his emotional armor that he had donned years ago in response to the loss of his fiancée and allows himself to love again.
Ray’s final travel to the outskirts of Heaven, his miraculous healing by partaking from the River of Life, and his encounter with deceased loved ones prepare him for his return to the present time. Nonetheless, the cumulative trauma of his travels causes Ray to flat line upon his reentry. Resuscitation occurs, and he privately shares the events of his travels with his beloved wife Becky. The clandestine actions of an assistant not only allow Ray and Becky to see his reentry through film and photographs, but the last picture surprisingly reveals to Becky a photo of our Lord and Savior when he was a boy.
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Abbreviated Author Education and Biography
Joe L. Lerma, Ph.D., M.S. (Postdoctoral)
Dr. Lerma graduated Summa Cum Laude from Texas A&I University in Kingsville in 1975. He then graduated with an Ed.M. from Harvard University in 1976, followed by graduating with a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1983. Finally, he graduated with a Postdoctoral Master of Science degree in Clinical Psychopharmacology from Fairleigh-Dickenson University in 2002. ERIC Abstracts published his doctoral dissertation entitled Mexican Americans’ Perceptions of Differential Psychotherapist Characteristics in 1983.
Dr. Lerma is a retired psychologist and psychopharmacologist who established a large commendable and unblemished clinical practice over the span of greater than 20 years in south Texas until an overzealous and possibly corrupt legal and judicial system saw fit to ignore the Gold Standard of clinical practice of the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists that Dr. Lerma had faithfully followed and sided with the whims of government insurances to not only destroy his family-run practice but to incarcerate Dr. Lerma in a federal penitentiary for over 3 years. This is his first published work of Christian fiction where he skillfully and empathically captures the concept of loss, misery, and destruction from his own earthly purgatory of the past 10 years.
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