Author Interview: Joel Richardson

Joel Richardson Mini-biography:

I am the author of Antichrist: Islam’s Awaited Messiah, a bestselling comparative analysis of Biblical and Islamic Eschatology. In the early 90’s, I lived and worked in the Middle East. I’ve also been involved in Christian-Muslim interfaith dialogue for several years. Due to death threats to my life and the life of my family, I use a pen-name whenever I write or speak on the themes of radical Islam. I also travel, giving lectures and seminars on issues such as the threat of radical Islam, Islamic apocalyptic belief and human rights.

It’s rare today to find an author who does nothing but write for a living. Do you have a ‘real’ job other than writing, and if so, what is it? What are some other jobs you’ve had in your life?

Joel Richardson: I work full time. I am primarily a self-employed artist. I have co-managed a small business that specializes in decorative and fine arts for the past twelve years. I also travel and conduct several full day public seminars each year.

What compelled you to write your first book?

Joel Richardson: In September of 2005, President Ahmadinejad of Iran, while standing before the General Assembly of United Nations publicly prayed for the soon emergence of the Muslim Messiah figure known as Al-Mahdi Al-Muntazhar. Few westerners had a clue as to what he was talking about. This was about five months after I had completed my book on this very subject. When devotees to the Mahdi such as Ahmadinejad speak publicly to Western audiences regarding the mission of the Mahdi, they often speak about his role in promoting justice and world peace. However, when one actually reads the writings of the clerics, imams and Muslim scholars, this Islamic messiah figure is always portrayed more as an Islamic war-lord who will force the entire world to submit to Islam and abolish all other religions and forms of government. The traditions and implications are both fascinating and very disturbing. Having studied Islamic apocalyptic traditions quiet intensively, in 2004, I decided to put together a book that very carefully documented what I had learned. It was primarily through a desire to make the western world more aware of these very dangerous apocalyptic beliefs that permeate so much of the Muslim world that I finally decided to write my first book.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Joel Richardson: No. Actually before writing my first book, I had never had any desire to write at all. And I still do not consider myself a writer so much as an activist with a passion for the subjects that I write about. I am now completing my fifth book and still would say that I have a love/hate relationship with writing.

Are you currently working on any writing projects our readers should watch for release soon?

Joel Richardson: Susan Crimp and I have also co-authored a book about one of the twentieth century’s greatest Catholic mystics, a polish nun named Faustina Kowlaska. The book documents Faustina’s life story and her deep connections with the late Pope John Paul II as well as the possible connections between her mystical experiences and many of today’s world events. Susan authored the portions of the book about Faustina and I offered my expertise on Islamic apocalyptic beliefs. I also recently co-authored a very large volume with Walid Shoebat, a former Palestinian Terrorist turned peace-activist and pro-Israel speaeker. This book is geared toward a Christian audience and also discusses Biblical and Islamic apocalyptic beliefs and includes many of Walid’s life experiences. It promises to be a very engaging and controversial work.

How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?

Joel Richardson: In a word, relieved. Similar I suppose, to a women who has just given birth. Writing for me is not entirely enjoyable. I enjoy my painting immensely, but creating a book is a very tedious and slow process. Every time I think I am done, there are another round of edits or some further delay. And like someone who has just completed the ordeal of having a child, I didn’t want to even think about ever writing another book. However, in time as the memories of the late night deadlines and pushing through the twelve layers of burn-out fade, I began to become more open to further writing.

What type of music, if any, do you listen to while you write?

Joel Richardson: That is called multi-functioning, and as a man I’m not supposed to be able to do that. However, sometimes I will listen to some quiet Byzantine or Gregorian chant or Classical music—anything that doesn’t have any recognizable words to distract my thoughts. Because I paint during the day however, I listen to talk radio. Having grown up very liberal but becoming much more conservative as an adult, I enjoy listening to a wide range of talk shows while I work: From NPR and Democracy Now to Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage, I enjoy the ongoing free-flow of debate, which I believe is an essential aspect of any truly “progressive” society.

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?

Joel Richardson: When I was in the third grade, I distinctly remember learning about slavery for the first time. Even as a small child, I remember asking myself how people could have allowed this to take place and why more people didn’t stand up against this obviously evil practice.

Later, when I learned about the Holocaust, these thoughts were again stirred up. How can so many remain so passive in the face of such blatant evil? I remember vowing that if any such evil reared its head while I was alive, I would be among those who stand up and stand firmly against the darkness, despite popular opinion or popular passivity. I have come to believe that turning the other way and ignoring even the most horrendous atrocities is a far more common practice among the human race than we would like to admit. People are often more concerned with their public image and comfort than they are with the suffering or abuse of others.

I believe that we are now living in a very crucial time when the need to stand firm in the midst of tremendous evils, despite the pressures is becoming increasingly important. This is true regardless as to which side of the political spectrum ones stands on. Because I write about current events that have deep implications for human rights and justice related issues, it is for me a moral obligation. This is why I write. If I were blind to what is happening, then perhaps I would have an excuse to remain silent. But when I look at the rising tide of Islam throughout the world, being intimately acquainted with the full reality of all that this means, I cannot remain passive. I refuse to stand by and quietly watch as the world is once again overshadowed by the next “never again.” And so I am compelled to write, though I admittedly dislike the process. Unless I am writing about something that I feel passionately about, I don’t believe that I could do it.

What one thing are you the most proud of in your life?

Joel Richardson: My beautiful wife and children.

What about your family? Do you have children, married, siblings, parents? Has your family been supportive of your writing?

Joel Richardson: Writing is very taxing on my wife as she bears the brunt of watching the kids when I work late or overtime. But she is very supportative and deserves numerous awards.

Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your own writing? Do you have a writing mentor?

Joel Richardson: Although I write non-fiction I have been the most impressed by Fyodor Dostoevsky as a novelist. This man’s ability to portray such a sweeping range of characters with seemingly such ease is unparalleled. I liken Dostoevsky to a Russian and masculine version of Jane Austin. If I were a novelist, I would secretly try to emulate Dostoevsky. From a non-fiction perspective, I simply write as I try to speak—as clearly, thoughtful and as fluidly as possible. My efforts have been to write books that are strike that perfect balance between popular and respectably intelligent. I try to produce works that are researched enough to be well received by scholars but simple enough to be understood by my father, who is a fisherman by trade.

Hey, let’s get morbid. When they write your obituary, what do you hope they will say about your book/s and writing? What do you hope they will say about you?

Joel Richardson: Apart from the date, I’m not all that concerned with what my obituary will read like. It will be the least of my concerns at that point. I am simply aiming for a “good job” from my creator and from my family. If it reads: “A loving and devoted husband and father” then I will have accomplished precisely what I set out to do.

Is there anyone you’d like to specifically acknowledge who has inspired, motivated, encouraged or supported your writing?

Joel Richardson: I am particularly inspired by individuals such as those who share their stories in this book: Why We Left Islam. According to every orthodox school of Islamic law, any Muslim who leaves Islam is to be punished by death. That is not to say that the death penalty is always carried out, but it is also far from a rarity. In Iran right now, they are in the process of passing a law that punishes “apostates” with the death penalty. Can you imagine how deeply it would hurt to have your own Mother or Father literally trying to o kill you because you made a decision of conscience? Yet this is very common throughout the Muslim world.

Even recently in the United States, an Egyptian man shot and killed his two daughters Amina and Sarah Said. On my blog at (www.joels-trumpet.com) we have some regular readers whose families have completely rejected them because they converted to Christianity from Islam. When I read about individuals like these, I am always inspired. What I do seems to be small compared to the sacrifices that these have made. Again, I want to reiterate that these issues should deeply concern all who love freedom and care about human rights.

Whether one is on the left or right end of the political spectrum, we can all agree that the right to change ones religion should be a right that is afforded to all people. Because every school of Islamic law agrees that death for apostasy is a legitimate application of Islamic law, we who value freedom and human rights need to unify and stand firm together. On this issue, there must simply be zero room for tolerance. Period. The blood of a million Sarah and Amina Saids demand it.

Anything you want your readers to know?
My personal blog may be found at www.Joels-trumpet.com

Also watch for the soon-coming God’s War Against Terror, by Walid Shoebat and Joel Richardson

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