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We Need Not Face Our Journey Alone

Anthony Maranise Author Interview

Anthony Maranise Author Interview

Cross of a Different Kind dives into the relationship between cancer and Christianity. Why was this an important ‘field guide’ for you to write?

“I’ve felt my own sort of ‘calling’ to research, teach, and write about matters of the heart and soul, particularly through the lenses of Judeo-Christian theology for more than 14 years now. For 21 years, I have been a cancer-survivor. Without a doubt, I believe my own cancer-experiences have shaped my faith and personal investment in the academic areas I study and write about. That said, Cross of a Different Kind is not a purely academic text in theology and spirituality – I mean, yes, it is these things, but it’s also a self-help guide. I’ve personally experienced all three possible ways that a person can experience cancer. I’ve lost loved-ones to it; I’ve personally fought my own battle against it; and now, I live as a survivor. Those three means of experiencing cancer form the three parts or sections into which the book is divided. In my years of academic study and personal application, especially as both a chaplain and cancer-coach, I’ve seen and experienced firsthand how great the spiritual and existential struggles can be for persons facing cancer in any of these ways. I know their struggles and empathize wholly because I have lived them myself. Faith for me is much more than just a provision of comfort or hope based in naively following a mythic figure. Faith, for me, is the reason I live and love. I believe that, if in the midst of the gargantuan trials and calamities of cancer, persons can cling to their faith, and somehow derive strength from it, that they will find peace in their struggles so that no matter how it turns out – and of course, we pray for survival in all cases – they will know and feel the certainty of love’s triumphant power. This book is about assurance… and not necessarily the assurance of faith alone, but that others have gone through, are going through, and will go through the same things. It’s a reminder that we need not face our journey alone.”

Each year 12.7 million people discover they have cancer. What is a common misconception you find people have about cancer and faith?

“Perhaps one of the wisest persons I know is my theological mentor and former professor (now friend) from both undergrad and grad school. This man is a brilliant theologian and I aspire to be like him as a theologian myself. He once told me, when I was going through a very tough time, something that I believe applies directly to this question. He said, “Anthony, I know that you know there is a difference in knowing something and believing it. You have to ask yourself if what you know is also what you believe.” For so many persons of faith who discover that they have cancer, the enormity of doubt, fear, despair, and hopelessness sets in like a rock tied around someone’s waist in a storm-ravaged sea. It quickly takes persons under. If not instantly, over the course of one’s treatment or the witness of such should they be accompanying a loved-one through cancer, that once indomitable faith in which they were certain begins to be tested, tried, and, in some ways even weakened. When this occurs, I have spoken with many who believe, this is a sign of God’s anger with them, absence from their life, or denial of their devotion to the Divine. This is perhaps the most common misconception I’ve ever encountered. As a Christian theologian, I often study the writings, philosophy, teachings, and associated commentaries surrounding the exemplar of Christianity, Jesus. Even Jesus Himself experienced doubt, isolation, despair, physical and emotional struggle. From the Cross, He cried out, “God, why have you abandoned me?” How often we feel in our own weaknesses that we are so far from God and God’s mercy, comfort, and love when we are struggling! Jesus struggled and had the same sort of experiences. We are in good company. But, here’s the kicker in both a spiritual and theological sense (in fact, this idea is the basis and is further expanded upon in Chapter 10 of this newest book): At the moment when Jesus was at His weakest point and questioned the Father, “Why have you abandoned me?,” God the Father could not have been any closer to Jesus. At that moment when in pain and agony, Jesus asks such a question, His Father had vacated the Heavenly Throne and was, in fact, fully One with Jesus Himself. Very God of Very God had not abandoned His Son to suffering, but was suffering with, in, and through Him. And the same is true for each of us! When we suffer and doubt and feel weak in our faith, it is in those moments that God is not passive, removed, or distant from us. He could not be closer to us.”

National Cancer Survivor’s Day is the first Sunday in June. Do you have any events planned?

“An excellent question. Thank you for that. Many people don’t know that there is a day to honor all persons considered cancer survivors. I should note that in cancer survivorship, a cancer survivor is a person, yes, who has attained remission or cure from their illness, but it extends also to current fighters who survive day-to-day; as well as to family members whose loved-ones have passed, but, for the love, memorial, and honor of their loved one, live on in spirit, metaphysical reality, and memory. Cancer survivor’s day, then, is for all of us who are cancer-touched persons. And indeed, I do have an event planned. I will be offering my 2nd book-signing event and presentation in New Orleans, Louisiana on Sunday, June 3rd from 1030AM to noon at St. Jude Hall (next to The International Shrine of St. Jude) on North Rampart Street. All are welcome to attend. 100% of all proceeds from the sales of my book (not only at this event, but always, including online purchases) directly benefit the institution responsible for saving my life from cancer, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN). It is truly an honor for me to sign this book and present it again on National Cancer Survivor’s Day. I don’t believe in coincidences, but instead in divine providence so I know it must be for that reason that when I was planning this signing with the person who will host me, we set this date before we even realized it was Cancer Survivor’s Day for 2018. Totally amazing!” 

In this book you describe your childhood battle with cancer and the feelings surrounding your family. Was there anything that was difficult for you to write about?

“Absolutely; but, of course there would be given the content and nature of the book. I’ve written 4 other works aside from this one as my 5th, but I whole-heartedly believe this one to be, and so refer to it as, my “labor-of-love.” The content dredged up a lot of tough memories from my own cancer-experiences from childhood as well as some of the emotional and traumatic after-effects that I deal with even now. Plus, I would think upon persons I have personally loved and lost to cancer and in other situations. During the time of this book’s composition and editing, I lost two persons I very much loved in the span of 5 months while also needing to complete grad school. I lost a best friend to a much unexpected passing and the woman I thought at the time I would have married to an emotional distance. These things were very difficult to power-through when writing contents that are already so emotionally weighty. However, these experiences actually helped me personally relate to the depth of loss and suffering from loss that so many in the cancer-affected community often feel. I think that really shines through in the pages of this book. My ex and I continue to have a cordial and positive relationship now, which is itself a blessing, because we truly recognize a significant goodness in one another. I mention this because I even dedicated this newest book to both of these persons I lost. In that way, I am reminded that incredible good (this book and those it will help) can come out of the deepest possible pain, sorrow, and shame.”

Author Links: Twitter | Publisher | WebsiteLinkedIn

CANCER: with often abrupt and unwelcome entry into human lives as well as profound multi-dimensional impact, such an illness is, for many, considered to be a ruthless thief, intent on stealing not only joy, but life itself. Of course, even as cancer attempts to steal life and captivate those under its hold, lest we forget that as powerful an adversary as it may seem, it is no contestant against the power of the One who “has come to set the captives free” (Luke 4:18) and who is Life itself (John 14:6) and its Source.

Cross of a Different Kind: Cancer & Christian Spirituality draws upon the richness of Christian spiritual theology with the aim of rejuvenating hope within and imparting eternal Truth to all persons who have been “touched” by cancer in any of its wicked forms. Divided into three parts addressing those who have lost loved ones to cancer; those currently confronting their diagnoses; and survivors, this book serves as both a “spiritual field-guide” as well as an informative, yet practical helpmate to ensure all facing such adversities that they are never alone in their journey.

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Cross of a Different Kind: Cancer & Christian Spirituality

Cross of a Different Kind, written by Anthony Maranise, dives into the relationship between cancer and Christianity. A “field guide” for those affected by cancer, Cross of a Different Kind was created for those who have cancer, those who know someone affected by cancer and for the survivors of cancer. Each person will find solace in this novel, regardless of what part of the journey you are on and feel a connection of both faith and hope through the inspiring words and reflections. It’s a reminder of the light in the darkness and how God can bring spiritual comfort and acceptance in a time of loss, sadness and grief.

Cross of a Different Kind is a novel based on the ideologies of Christianity, written especially for those experiencing cancer themselves. The book is split into different sections with each part addressing the different stages of cancer that someone may be in.

The author, Anthony Maranise, tells of his battle with childhood cancer and the feelings surrounding his family, relationship with God and what it meant to find hope in some of his darkest hours. Maranise words are raw, honest and inspiring, allowing the reader to develop a sense of trust and gratitude for the words he writes. At times I felt as though I was sitting in a room, listening to him tell his story as it opened up the pathway to reflect on our personal experiences with cancer.

With statistics such as 69% of cancer patients praying for their health regularly, it is clear that Cross of a Different Kind is a novel that will connect with many people who have been touched by cancer. There are many Christianity references, but they are used to inspire hope, clarity and acceptance in a time of great trauma and stress. Cross of a Different Kind talks about how the journey of faith has helped the author and many others against the tough battles brought on by cancer.

So many of us know someone or have even experienced cancer ourselves and will find the feelings and reflections in the novel provide a sense of solace and comfort in the times of great stress and alarm. One of my favourite sentiments was that it is important to grieve and mourn the loss of our loved ones (even if we believe we will meet them again). Another idea the author presents is that those experiencing cancer are soldiers in their own way, battling the sadness, anger and trauma brought on by sickness that steals happiness and joy. This idea instills a sense of comradery and connection with the book, allowing the reader to feel acknowledged and understood in regards to their own personal battles with cancer.

Cross of a Different Kind will bring the reader a sense of spiritual comfort, understanding and information for those who are experiencing the journey that comes with cancer. I would recommend this for all Christians who are suffering from the burdens of cancer- whether it is themselves or their loved ones.

Pages: 188 | ISBN: 0692974148

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Love Is Not An Illusion

Anthony Maranise Author Interview

Anthony Maranise Author Interview

Worth Holding On To is a memoir about how you found and lost the love of your life. Why did you decide to write about something so beautifully tragic?

It goes without saying that writing this particular book was no easy task. I remember dating the real life Cyrena (which is an alias, of course) just like it was yesterday. In fact, I remember all elements of that romance and its fallout just as vividly, but I wanted to write these things all down so that should there ever come a day when my memories start to fade, I will still have captured the reality of what was while it was still “fresh,” if that makes any sense. I will never forget her or what we shared; that, I’m sure is evident, but I also wrote this novella as a form of closure. What began as a writing project simply with the end-goal of a sort of ‘self-improvement’ exercise became a source of immense interior strength and spiritual journeying that I felt compelled to share with the world. I knew I wasn’t the only one who ever had experienced a love like this… I wasn’t the first and I won’t be the last, but hopefully as readers take the journey with me through the book, they will reflect on their own loving relationships eventually coming to the realization that I did. Love is not an illusion; it is not some made-up philosophical construct. Love is alive; Love is transcendent; Love is a Person. God is Love and if we are all made “in His/Her image and likeness,” then Love is, as God is, all-good, unending, and cannot be overcome by darkness, evil, hatred, sin, sorrow, or shame.

There is a sense of love and innocence throughout the novel. How were you able to capture those feelings and put them into words?

When I knew the real Cyrena, she was indeed a very “innocent” young 18 or 19 year old woman. Of course, then, I was only 20 or 21, but in a number of ways was “not so innocent.” This may sound like the beginnings of a sort of “tale of corruption,” but as the book itself well demonstrates, I never thought of Cyrena as any sort of a “romantic conquest” or anything even remotely close to that. In fact, she was my turning point. What I mean by this is that prior to her entry into my life, I was rather cavalier with the women I had dated. She changed that… The whole experience changed that aspect of my life. I no longer date with the intention of “good feelings,” but rather with an eye, a mind, and a heart towards being for another person what they have yet to find. Rather than showing them another man who “only wants one thing,” the aim now is to show them not even myself, but the reflection of the One greater than I who lives through me.

There is so much to be said about love in this book. What do you hope your readers take away from your story?

Memories are a beautiful thing… of that, we can all be certain. For every single one of us, we also can be sure that there are painful memories. These are all things that are subject to change, however. Memories fade. Experiences do not. There is “something” – maybe it’s in the ether or maybe it’s ensouled within us – but there is definitely “something” that remains with us even when the memories have faded or the experiences are long over. And, we can always carry that with us; we can always go back to it; no one can take it from us; it even follows us into the next life. I believe it is all bound together through, with, and in Love itself. Take this as an example: When a person with Alzheimer’s has reached the advanced stage, they rarely recognize people they have known their entire lives. They truly appear to be a mere shell; almost completely devoid of who we’ve known them to be, but the fact remains that they ARE! They are who we’ve always known; who we’ve always loved. What, then, is it exactly about them that has NOT changed? That is what I want readers to take away from this novella: When we encounter good in this life – no matter how great or how small – there is an “essence;” that “something” about which I have just spoken that we carry with us… That goodness pushes us forward. It gives us hope for better and brighter days and “hope does not disappoint!”

I understand that you currently serve as life-coach and chaplain. Do you feel that these experiences influence your writing?

Certainly, I think they do. As much as others think I am helping them, I find that I am often helped just as much, to be entirely honest. When you interact on a regular basis with the teen struggling with a number of life changes, I see myself in that person and know that I was once where they are. When I encounter the ill child fighting cancer but still desiring to be happy, to experience life, and to “be normal,” I see in them that very hope that I know I need to press on and that we all need from time to time. The people I encounter in my work are not just people; they are reflections of God’s very self.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website

“You never forget your first love,” according to the old adage. Most of us would probably agree that this is true. However: contrary to what would seem reasonable, our first love need not necessarily be the first, second, or even third romantic relationship we’ve held. Neither must it be the longest one by any stretch of the imagination. Rather, our first love typically ‘touches’ us, indeed, ‘moves’ us in an inexplicable way that is unique and different to each person. What causes one person to love so dearly may repulse another and the other way around, but the real measure of the sincerity of this loving is when someone ‘imprints’ their very memory within your heart.

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Worth Holding On To

5 StarsWorth Holding On To is the memoir of Anthony Maranise. He guides his readers through one of the best moments in life; finding his love; Cyrena. They were introduced through a mutual friend and hit it off. Together the couple shared many memories and experiences, until sadly the harsh realities of life drew them apart. The book also delves into the months after a break-up, and the lasting impact that Cyrena had on the author’s life. The things that she had taught him are thought provoking and moving as well. While the book is short, there is a lot of content to ponder. The author doesn’t need a lot of words to get his point across, and make an impact on his readers.

There is a sense of innocence and love within the words of this memoir. Maranise’s words makes readers rethink their own definitions of love and what makes a relationship worth holding on to. His words are filled with love and positivity. Looking back, Maranise, has nothing negative to say about his time with and without this woman. Even as they sit side by side during a dinner after they parted ways, his feelings and emotions remain the same. One learns that sometimes feelings for someone never end even if the relationship happens to end. The reader gets the idea that Cyrena truly was a beautiful soul and had immense spiritual beauty as well as physical beauty. One can only imagine that the author left the same imprint on her life as she did his. In turn this book leaves a lasting impression on its readers, making them want to learn more about the author.

Maranise’s words resonate off the page, flying with emotion. He creates something that buries itself into the readers’ minds and sticks with them. Readers can see how much this woman meant to him, as the emotions saturate the pages. Maranise provides a colorful view in his life and opens up about something so intimate and private. He allows his readers to see a portion of how he became the person he is today. The story flows like a river of love and understanding. He cultivates true essence of love and what it means to accept someone, helping readers take a look at their own relationships and whether or not they are seeing their partner the same way he had seen Cyrena.

After reading this book a few times, I would give Anthony Maranise’s memoir a 5 out of 5 because I was honestly moved by what he had to say within it. There is so much to be said about love in this small book that anyone in a relationship or even in the beginning stages of dating should read this book. It truly is a beautifully written reflection on love and love lost. If there is one book you read this year on love and the impact that first love could have on your life, make sure that it is this book.

Pages: 124 | ISBN: 1530658675

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