Why the Book?/About the Authors
To understand “why,” we first need to get to know the authors. This book was the idea of James A. Vena as he stood in front of a Tribute to John Lennon exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Annex) in early June 2010. It was June 6, 2009, to be exact, the day of James’s and his wife Deborah’s twenty-second wedding ceremony.
James A. Vena is an accomplished and successful businessman who has had a pretty good run. He is also the best storyteller and articulate communicator you will ever meet. James Vena is an innovative and strategic thinker who has influenced key decision-makers globally in business development and revenue growth strategies. For more than thirty years, James has built a resume that encompasses a wide range of industries and expertise in sales, marketing, entrepreneurship, finance, merger arbitrage, technology and executive management.
Mr. Vena's career started as a China trader of commodities in the early 1980's for a large US firm. After 5 years, he founded his own trading company and spent the next 20 years developing that business venture into an internationally recognized brand with 24 offices in some 15 countries.
James was educated in Catholic school, although he never the type to go to church every Sunday, he was always genuinely interested in ethics, cultural understanding, philosophy global citizenship and intellectual humility in leadership.
James started traveling the world at a very early age which made him acutely aware of the need for cultural understandings. James’s entrepreneurial mindset combined with his dynamic passionate, charismatic personality makes him an inspirational communicator. He has been publicly speaking on the importance of Cultural Awareness, Global Citizenship, Social Responsibility, Entrepreneurship, Articulate Communication, Organizational Leadership and his own tenets of 'Intellectual Humility'
It was June 6, 2009. James woke up in the morning, realized it was his and Deborah’s anniversary, and started to plot how to get her out of the house. You see, Deborah had no hair, fingernails, color to her face, or much meat on her ribs. Deborah had just had an early termination of her program for chemotherapy by her medical oncologist, as there was a fear that finishing the aggressive treatments of a trio of the biweekly chemotherapy cocktail of Carboplatin, Taxitir and Herceptin, would cause Deborah to lose her eyesight.
Earlier that week, James, looking for answers and prayers, went to his local priest and explained the dilemma of making the choice between sight and life. James was floored when the priest referred to the absence of donation envelopes from his family over the years, and said that while Deborah had been a good mother and didn’t smoke or drink, God’s will would be the same ENIGMA as the ENIGMA of our inadequate wavering financial support of the church.
James explained that the family donated batting cages to the school and created and funded the local travel league for area youth. The priest once again cited the word “ENIGMA.”
Back to June 6. One thing that James and Deborah cherished together was music. James is a hobby guitar player of sorts and a collector of merit. Together (James and Deborah are childhood sweethearts and started dating in their high school years), the two have been to many concerts, have met many musicians and even named most of their racehorses after songs written by Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn.
So, when James saw that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was opening up an Annex in lower Manhattan and that the title exhibit was a Tribute to John Lennon, James knew the “carrot” that would get Deborah out of the house.
To the city they went, and a terrific day was unfolding. The people at the RRHOF Annex all recognized Deborah was going through a tough time physically, and the staff jumped through hoops to make her feel special. As the couple made their way into the Lennon exhibit, which was a white room with mostly white furniture, Deborah got a bit tired and need to sit down and rest. James went through the room with earphones on, and with every step into a new location, a different song was playing that was apropos to the exhibit items.
The last stop (yes, it was reminiscent of the stations of the cross in a Catholic church, which struck James’s curiosity) was a bag with St. Vincent’s Hospital DOA written on it that clearly was the clothing John was wearing as he was viciously gunned down and murdered, a case with his blood-splattered famous eyeglasses, and all along, the song “Imagine” played in the earphones with the lyrics scrolling on the wall right over the artifacts.
James started to read the words scrolling on the wall, and while he had heard that song a thousand-plus time, it was the first time he really “heard” the message. It immediately dawned on him that during the last few years, while difficult for him and Deborah (not to mention their children), it was in fact the brotherhood (and sisterhood) of man that had helped them through.
Those same families who were grateful for James and Deborah’s charity and contributions to the community over the years came back in buckets. Many showed up every weekend with food, offers to take the children on trips, and more. They came with books and puzzles and pink things to keep Deborah company and her spirits up while letting them know that they were not alone.
James thought about this while reading the words and realized two things.
One, all those families were of different religious backgrounds and ethnicities. And two, “IMAGINE” is a near anagram for “ENIGMA.” At that point, James started to ponder, what if we did live in a world that was devoid of organized religious leaders and cultural borders? Wasn’t music the great uniter while world leaders, both political and religious, were the great dividers?
What if there was a “second coming”—wouldn’t the new messiah need to capture the masses through music? John Lennon certainly did.
And what if all religions were right and there were many gods—would the gods want this conquering through division? What if there were really no God? Hadn’t we as a society progressed with or without once you took out the inhibiters, political and religious leaders, looking for fame and fortune?
These queries led James to desperately want to write a book (maybe even a movie) about a world that is flirting with its own destruction because of the radicalization and greed or religious leaders (not the religion itself).
We are seeing evil manifest every day, leaders bringing us as a planet to the brink of complete destruction. From climate change to radical terrorists, to starving children, to oppression, religion is playing a hand in our demise.
So, what if the gods above got together and had a sit-down to develop a strategy to try one last time to save the planet? What if they acquiesced to having an independent “messiah” come to the people of planet earth with a message of unity? Now, what if this messiah learned every religion and lived every culture and then reached the masses with song?
What if the people truly believed in this great leap forward and started to become self- governed and benevolent and saw themselves as the change agents in erasing the dividing lines rather than of the builders of bridges or walls?
James thought, "What if we the people, all of us, embraced our faith, but not at the expense of alienating others that have a different faith or political leader? What if we all stopped allowing political and religious leaders from being funded only to create more division and destruction of our most precious resources, namely people and our planet? What would those gods do, if the messiah was so loved by the masses but so feared by the world leaders that his or her life would be in danger?"
Well, you’ll have to read this book to find out!
While James had these experiences and the idea to write this book, he did not possess the time to sit down and devote his days to author a novel of this magnitude. So, during a completely happenstance phone call with a cousin that he had not been in touch with for many years, James learned that her husband, Joseph (Joe) Amodeo, had authored a few books, James inquired whether Joseph would be interested in becoming a ghostwriter. After James read the books and spoke with Joseph by phone and in person, it quickly became evident that this book would be better with Joseph as a coauthor.
r Joseph J. Amodeo, coauthor.
Joe was raised in a household where the importance of a religious education and attending church was mandatory. Well, maybe not mandatory but a high priority.
“My parents were active in the church events. My mother, active in participating events and preparing food, could usually be found in the church two days a week.
My father was president of the Holy Name Society, a coach for CYO and usher in church.” said Joseph.
Joseph played sports, CYO baseball track and basketball. “I enjoyed church dances on Friday nights and bus rides to skating rinks with the choir, and of course was an altar boy.”
Joe's friends were all active in their religion, attending services regularly and personally familiar with their priests or ministers.
“I attended a sleepaway camp for two weeks in August 1962 with a friend.” It was the first two weeks of August “as I remember the announcement that Marilyn Monroe died on August 5, 1962, while I was at a religious camp in Long Island where my parents thought I would be taught in religious ways and of course safe.” Little did they know what lurked behind the robe and the façade of the wealthiest and famously corrupt institutions in the history of man.
Joe continued, “I became traumatized and suppressed the events until years later while in therapy. I always knew something happened but at age eleven, I just didn’t understand. The result was showing a dysfunction almost immediately. I began sleepwalking that continued for years into adulthood.”
“A point of interest was when taking my physical exam for the military in December 1973, it became an issue. I also incurred an unusual childhood illness in my early teens. In my twenties, I was having neurological issues that eventually were diagnosed as Parkinson’s disease.
"My life became a search for answers. However, I discovered there were more questions than answers.”
Joe’s life was in turmoil. “I felt that religion had failed me. I dedicated my life to helping others while attempting to discover ways of relieving my emotional pain. I began to rethink my faith, my own existence. Sadly, even the existence of God.”
Subsequently, Joseph later became an author of several books and articles that spoke about this abuse.