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Author: David John Jaegers

Astrologer’s Apprentice – Kirkus Review

“A good start to a series, with durable characters and fascinating theories.”

A man’s devotion to astrology draws in his young nephew as well as a clandestine organization wanting to use his skills to perfect horoscope interpretation in Jaegers’ debut drama.”

Seventeen-year-old Robert isn’t happy that his family is moving to the country and that he’ll spend his senior year at another school. On the plus side, Robert will be closer to his sheep-farmer uncle, Rufus. Robert, a bright student, appreciates that his uncle’s “different”; he’s a former teacher with a unique way of thinking—most notably an extensive knowledge of astrology. Though some, like Robert’s dad, James, write off the study as nonsense, Rufus stresses that astrology can augment rather than replace one’s religious practice. In fact, he works this notion into a book, Heaven: The Unified Field Theory, in which he argues, among other things, that heaven isn’t as much a place as a state of mind. At an astrology conference, Rufus meets like-minded individuals who invite him to join the covert Data Collection Group. They’re primarily interested in “advanced data collection,” which is essentially pooling people’s private information to optimize astrological readings. This would entail hacking, so Rufus turns to Robert and his computer-savvy friends who are willing to invade others’ privacy (though they’re using the info for research only). And they may have to add a few DCG recruits—discreetly. The author builds a solid foundation for his characters. Robert, for one, inching closer to college, undergoes relationship turmoil, at one point torn between lusty Kristin and steady girlfriend Jane. Astrology, meanwhile, is repeatedly and convincingly defended by Rufus. Not surprisingly, the concepts are abstract; even Robert asserts that his uncle’s ideas are “hard to visualize.” But Rufus’ notion of a unified version of the afterlife based on various religions makes sense. The plan to hack the Census Bureau database, however, while intriguing, isn’t quite the “bizarre secretive web” that Rufus apparently believes it to be. Regardless, the stage is definitely set for an ongoing series, with much left to explore, including enigmatic DCG bigwig, Walter.

A good start to a series, with durable characters and fascinating theories.

—Kirkus Reviews

Foreword Review

“Enthusiasts of astrology and theology will appreciate Astrologer’s Apprentice for its ability to challenge the perception of God.

Part coming-of-age story and part cyberthriller, David John Jaegers’s Astrologer’s Apprentice is a journey into philosophical theology through the lens of an astrology-obsessed writer and his young protégé. Blending the ancient art of stargazing with modern Internet culture, Astrologer’s Apprentice questions society’s traditional views of God and astrology.

The story follows a young man named Robert as he navigates a family move to the country, teenage romance, and a relationship with his eccentric Uncle Rufus. Robert begins to learn astrology under the singularly minded Rufus, who has a burning obsession to legitimize astrological studies. Rufus’s quest leads him, Robert, and Robert’s friends into a world of white lies, data hacking, and mysteriously powerful people who can help bring Rufus’s dreams to fruition.

Country life is exactly what Robert needs to blossom from a smart but shy boy into a strong and confident man. Robert’s frequently awkward interactions make his transition into adulthood seem relatable; he’s insecure around his good-looking friends and struggles to balance his family’s expectations of him with his own goals. Typically for a teenager, Robert is also flustered by many of the women in the novel, most of whom are vehicles for the characters to explore their sexuality. Robert treats women as life lessons instead of people, and Rufus uses them for escapist fantasy; very few of the female characters participate in the philosophical conversations that are at the heart of the book’s message.

The deep discussions between characters do not seem forced, but they are clearly a channel to express potentially controversial theological viewpoints. When the characters are not engaging in debate, the novel’s pacing can be unnecessarily detail oriented, and there are many lengthy descriptions of events and environments that are disconnected from the plot.

Robert’s growth is paralleled with Rufus’s odyssey from a teacher and writer to a member of a curious organization of people who claim to have the same goal of improving astrological information. As Rufus’s story develops, the characters take on increasingly larger risks to accumulate birth data. It’s hard to imagine anyone, even those enthralled by the zodiac, agreeing to steal information from government organizations in the name of astrology. One character jeopardizes his job with the Census Bureau, and Robert’s friends are barely out of high school when they plot multiple data attacks on the United States government.

Although there are many references to the subjects of religion and God, information about astrology is strangely absent. Rufus and Robert discuss aspects of their signs and houses from time to time, but more explanation of the zodiac, sign traits, and how these factors contribute to the personalities and decisions of the characters would have helped legitimize their behavior.

This book conjures up a charming countryside farmhouse to escape into, and the slower-moving parts of the novel are punctuated by Rufus’s peculiar escapades into the unknown. Enthusiasts of astrology and theology will appreciate Astrologer’s Apprentice for its ability to challenge the perception of God and to what extent the universe plays a role in life.”

–Foreword Reviews

A Writer’s Imagination

When creating fictional characters, what direction do you reach in your imagination? Is the fiction writer looking for a hero or a villain, a savior or a devil, a winner or a loser?
As a meliorist, for me, it was easy.  A meliorist is a person who believes that the human condition can be improved a little bit every day through concerted effort. Kind of like an optimistic humanist. When creating fictional characters, what direction do you reach in your imagination?  Is the fiction writer looking for a hero or a villain, a savior or a devil, a winner or a loser?FIRST PUPPY PHOTOS 5-15 012
This fiction writer’s imagination naturally favors people whose satisfaction depends on taking action to make the world a better place. This may seem like a wise approach, but take a look at modern print and video.  Apparently, vampires, serial killers, molesters, terrorists, monsters, extra terrestrials, transformers, and zombies are what crawl out of many writers’ imaginations these days.
Who would want to read a positive story about a boy who loves his uncle enough to take a risk to help him pursue his dream?  Who would want to read a story about a boy who is loyal and supportive and kind, who yearns for a life of service to others?  Oh, those readers are out there.  At least I think they are.
Uncle Rufus is motivated by a desire to help others discover their true nature through Astrology, with the extra added outrageously audacious benefit of putting an end to religious differences and working toward the peaceful unification of the human race.  Is there anyone out there who could identify with this character, or is it just too much?  It may very well be easier for the reader to wrap his or her mind around the search for a bad guy.  When the evil doer is finally caught or killed, the reader can breathe a sigh of relief and feel safe.  A neat little package of crisis and resolution carefully constructed to make the reader feel better about. . . . . . , what exactly?
Back to Astrologer’s Apprentice.  Yawn.  No one dies.  No one even gets sick. No one gets hurt, or threatened, or violated, or chased through the woods, or even down the street.  Everything in the story is not only plausible, but it has the potential to enrich the reader’s thinking. Does the typical reader really want some form of enlightenment, or just entertainment?  Oh wait a minute, there is no typical reader.

Centrist God

I’m voting for a centrist God. Let’s settle this Heaven and Hell thing once and for all.
Let’s thread the needle, bridge the gap, split the difference, avoid the trap. There’s nothing more irrational in all of human experience than people arguing about Heaven and Hell. No one has ever reported back from either place, yet millions of individuals, representing all kinds of different religions, love to talk about what happens when they die. Like they’re the only ones familiar with the options, and they know for sure, or at least they believe they know. Based on what they’ve been told, you see?green pisces for blog 8-11
It’s reasonable to argue that race and ethnicity tend to divide people. But when it comes to race and ethnicity, as the future unfolds, there’s a lot of melting going on in the pot.  Races mix well. Human DNA actually mixes quite well.  The results can be quite beautiful.
Religions on the other hand, emboldened by “writings” and “preachings” and traditions, seldom come together on anything. There’s no discernible trend toward one religion, like there is toward one color, or one race.
I’m voting for a centrist God. You say: “you can’t vote for God!”  But isn’t that what we all do when we adhere to the teaching of a particular religion?  “My God’s better than your God, don’t you know?”  “How come you follow that silly God of yours anyway?”  “Don’t you know who the true God is?”  “Boy are you missing out.”  “Oh, you don’t have a God at all?”  “You are really screwed. You’re about to live your life for nothing and burn in hell or otherwise suffer for eternity.”  “Unless you believe what I believe, you are in big trouble, you know, but don’t worry, I can help you.”  “Blah blah blah” is what we tend to hear coming out of the mouth of anyone who doesn’t share our religious beliefs.
I’m voting for a centrist God. I think it’s time that all the extremists come to the middle. We need to talk.

Terrorist Ticket to Paradise

Terrorists are incentivized by the belief that killing infidels in the name of God earns them a ticket to Paradise.  By the way, an infidel is anyone who doesn’t believe in their religion.  Uh-oh.

This author recently wrote: “What you believe defines you. It does not have to be ‘correct’ or even ‘real’.”  This is true for everyone from atheists to fundamentalists, and everyone in between, eastern, western, many gods, or one god.

A terrorist believing that he or she will be rewarded for carrying out evil deeds is obviously a bit extreme, but think about it. Many religious people do the things they do at least partly because they expect to be rewarded. Beliefs do not have to correct, or even real. Ask a crazy person with a gun.

Generic vintage admit one ticket close up

During a morning news cast after the horrible atrocity in Nice, a well-know news anchor asked the question, with considerable anguish in his voice, “why do they do this?”  I was so happy to hear that sincere question, instead of the usual BS about which politician does or does not use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism”.  It doesn’t matter how you label it, as long as you face up to WHY many terrorists are so unafraid to die.

Whether they are delusional criminals borrowing the argument, or whether they are sincere practicing Muslims, terrorists believe that their physical bodies are restored in the afterlife, and that the pleasures of “heaven” are not only spiritual, but tactile.

Islam has a Judgment Day, as does Christianity, but radical jihadists adopt a special, convenient interpretation.  They blow themselves up believing that a warrior who dies fighting in the cause of God is ushered immediately to God’s presence.  They don’t even have to wait for Judgment day, like the everyday Muslim, or the everyday Christian. They get to go to the front of the line.

Celebrate your own unique nature.

Astrology celebrates each individual’s unique nature. Religion seeks the ultimate generalization. Astrology relies on knowledge, gathered by the many, and focused on the one. Theology depends on the teachings of the One being interpreted by and for the many. Each discipline has its purpose, but they are the Yin and Yang of personal salvation.
No matter how astrology curious, the average person is not equipped to discover and conduct an analysis of all the celestial influences on his or her life. If an expert is consulted, things become complicated very quickly, because the answer to the question helps only one person. The “reading” is a custom product, and like any worthwhile custom product, it can fetch a hefty price. There is no “one size fits all”, easy approach to astrological enlightenment, which means that for the masses, however compelling its potential for the serious “do it yourselfer”, it may be impractical.

Book 1 short description with clickable link to the page that's all about the 1st book
Religion has its own problems. How can we generalize the core principles to the nth degree and then apply them to a heterogeneous population of people, personalities, and cultures? Unlike astrological interpretation, a diligent pursuit of religious truth involves seeking the smallest common denominator of belief. We are looked upon as “the flock”, yet we generally disdain the essential characteristics of sheep. The belief system has to be conveniently packaged and generalized to suit each and every member of the congregation. It’s not the time for individuality. The Christian Existentialists are not the ones filling the pews. The “faithful” are asking the pastor to direct their thoughts and prayers. The service is a guided celebration of theological communism, not a love fest of uniqueness, all thoughts of gaining a relatively better place in heaven aside, of course.
As the world becomes a more complex place, and the truth is diluted in a stream of opinions too easily expressed, due to the proliferation of communication technology, religion tends to struggle. In an environment of increasing entropy, individual truths take on greater importance while generalizations fall flat. It’s no wonder that young people are having difficulty embracing their parents’ religions.

Midwest Book Review

Book 1 short description with clickable link to the page that's all about the 1st book

“Book One of the Astrotheologian series tells of teen Robert, who undergoes a vast change when he moves from a comfortable suburban prep school world to the country, where an eccentric uncle’s passion for astrology rubs off on the impressionable young man.

But what seems a crazy passion turns into something more deadly as Robert begins to discover that his uncle’s special brand of spirituality holds some insidiously-dangerous results.

It’s difficult to easily brand this story: with elements of a coming-of-age saga mixed with Christian and new age overtones and spiced with the overlay of a thriller tempered by moral and ethical questions, it holds the ability to cross genres and appeal to a wide range of audiences, from readers seeking stories of young adult personal and spiritual evolutions to leisure reading audiences who want elements of theological discussion in their reading.

Astrologer’s Apprentice skirts the edge of a variety of genres, but its overlying Christian theme will especially attract and interest those who like more than a light hand on the spiritual tiller. Connections between astrology and conventional religion are explored (“Astrology has offered me a framework for understanding what God wants me to do with my life. When I was born, I was given gifts, attributes, qualities, talents. That can mean strengths, and depending on how I handle it, can mean weaknesses. So how do I use that knowledge to help me praise God? By realizing that my share of the gifts is only a very limited part of the total gifts that God bestows, I embrace humility. You and your father also have your own limited parts of the total gifts. Each person’s obligation to God is to do his best with the gifts he has.”) as Robert searches for answers, asks questions, and questions his uncle’s path in life as well as his own future.

From the sacrifices involved in a collaborative research project and a treasure hunt across some fifty states to the kernel of sane truth in seemingly mad pursuits, Astrologer’s Apprentice calls much into question and uncovers the basic elements in lives well lived, their underlying belief structures and influences, and most of all, the choices involved in accepting the gift of transformative knowledge.

Robert finds his life changed by his pursuits, and readers along for the journey – particularly those who enjoy theological discussion and astrology mysteries – will relish their travels in Astrologer’s Apprentice, a hard-hitting novel wrapping elements of a mystery and thriller with greater questions about morality and belief.”

D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

Astrology: Innocent fun or dangerous game?


astrology horoscope


The majority of “astrologers”, especially those who consider themselves “practitioners”, approach astrology with the intention of being able to gain an advantage on reality through prediction.  In my opinion, this is dangerous, for reasons too numerous to examine here. The desire to use astrology for prediction, and by extension, for manipulation, may actually be the best justification for a societal view that often borders on suspicion.  But what’s the big deal about counting cards in Las Vegas?

Religious people, naturally reliant on faith, tend to be shocked by anyone’s effort to gain an advantage reading tea leaves or progressing planets through a chart.  You’re just not supposed to do that.  Prayer is the path, not parsing though astronomical data and making strange associations with planetary movements.   Fascination with the Zodiac and horoscopes can actually evoke images of Greek mythology and Roman Gods.  Zeus and Aphrodite?  Mars and Venus?  It’s not surprising that many people label astrology as something sinister. Even I see how it can evoke an image of a sorcerer’s approach to life.

You would not believe how few astrologers are open about their habit.  Whether they are well-meaning personal growth advocates, or whether they are predictor-types trying to gain an advantage, they tend to stay in the closet.  One professional astrologer once admitted that the last thing he would bring up at a dinner party was the fact that he dabbled, for fear of the stigma.  Why deal with raised eyebrows all around, or the inevitable deluge of patronizing questions?

In my story, I emphasize foresight over prediction. I encourage Robert to study, and to be open to the possibility that astrological characteristics and conditions could influence his decisions in a certain direction.  That is very different than trying to predict a specific event or outcome.


Why Astrology?

astrology horoscope


What exactly is Astrology?  The very word provokes a myriad of possible impressions.  For me, Astrology is an empirical science that relies on data.  Observing how closely human behavior correlates with cyclic changes in the universe is an example of an activity that produces data.  Big task you say?  An enormous task, one that most people would say has zero chance of achieving a level of credibility in a modern scientific world.  Astrology can be as simplistic as attaching significance to a Sun Sign, or it can be overwhelmingly complex, involving sophisticated measurements and calculations intended to predict the future.

Trying to convince someone that Astrology is anything more than a subjective pastime may be pure folly.  I seldom attempt to do so.  I made an exception in Robert’s case.

Astrology is consistent with the human condition.  It reinforces the notion that no two people are alike.  It is the antithesis of “one size fits all”.

What exactly is Christianity?  The core belief is clear, that Jesus Christ has offered a compelling model for human behavior.  For many people, His teachings elicit a powerful sensation that Life has profound meaning that may even manifest itself after our physical life is over.  Have there been any observations made about Christianity over the last two thousand years?  Of course there have, billions upon billions.  Like Astrology, religion has an empirical component.  But most will agree that Christianity rests mainly on Faith.  It begs the existence of knowledge that is Supreme compared to that which can be possessed by a mortal human.

Christianity is consistent with the human condition in the way it offers comfort to every person, that we are all God’s children, each with an equal chance to fulfill ourselves by adhering to a set of Divine principles.   We are each capable of our own interpretation of religious teaching, but we are not necessarily encouraged by “the church” to pursue individual interpretations.  Some Christians are uncomfortable with this notion.

I know I cannot prove, nor do I need to prove, the existence or character of God.  I rely on Faith.  But I think I can prove that astrological forces, whatever their origin, are real.

We’ll see what happens,