Most of us know the story of â€œThe Book of Job,â€ and the pious man in its titular role. But in case you don’t it goes like this: during a conversation, Satan tells God he believes that Job’s faith would be broken if he was stripped of his blessings. God allows Satan to test his theory and Job suffers the loss of his possessions, his family, his health and vitality. Through philosophical conversations with friends, Job learns about true righteousness and once informed his health is restored along with twice his amount of possessions, a new family and a long life.
â€œMichael’s Rewardâ€ by Mario Bernheim is a 21st Century retelling of Job’s story which explores the oft asked question â€œWhy do the righteous suffer?â€ Bernheim, a deeply religious man, who studied theology before pursuing a career in Hollywood, believes that God â€œputs us in situations where we have to learn lessons in order to foster our soul’s growth.â€
Through his novel, â€œMichael’s Reward,â€ Bernheim demonstrates the lessons many of the righteous still must learn though in a modern context.
In Bernheim’s version Michael Whiley, a successful defense contractor, is the Job figure. Whiley has enough money to donate $500,000 so that his church can build a youth center while still lavishing jewels on his wife Joanne and vacationing on the family yacht with their three children. Despite the family’s worldly riches, Whileyâ€˜s faith remains omnipresent in their lives and like Job in The Old Testament original, insists that his children thank God daily for all with which they are blessed. However, when Lucifer posits that, â€œMichael does not love the Giver of the gifts, as much as he loves the gifts themselves,â€ God allows Lucifer to test his supposition.
And so in short order Whiley’s three children are killed in a New Year’s Eve car crash, his wife and friends leave him, and he loses his job. Whiley, covered in boils, is reduced to living in a box by the highway, panhandling to eke out his minimal existence. And yet, his faith remains true. And it is this faith Bernheim wishes to share with his readers.
After starting his career on the west coast as an assistant director for Joel Schumacher Bernheim moved to New York to work as a story analyst for CBS, Fox and MGM. He eventually moved back to Los Angeles, where he assumed the development mantel for producer Topper Carew shepherding a number of the company’s projects. And though Bernheim made a great living he was feeling unfulfilled.
It wasn’t until Bernheim became one of the founding staff members of â€œComic Reliefâ€ that his gift for storytelling and his faith coalesced. â€œThe experiences in film and TV made me a better storyteller but it was being involved with the homeless cause and Comic Relief that gave me understanding and fulfillment as a person. I was able to see how our work directly impacted the homeless in a positive way,â€ explained Bernheim.
And the book, which inspires and informs, will also profoundly affect your perception of the homeless. And what better way to restore faith than to help those who are less fortunate?
For those looking to celebrate The Church’s birthday (Pentecost Sunday is June 12, 2011) with a renewal of faith, â€œMichael’s Rewardâ€ makes for a fast paced, celebratory weekend read. The book is available on www.MichaelsRewards.com, Amazon.com and for all e-books.
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