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Meet the Author: From Voluptua to Barcelona Blues and Thereafter with Jason Martin

March 23 @ 2:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Are human beings hard-wired to be perpetually dissatisfied and to always seek to go somewhere else, take journeys and even take risks?  It’s a provocative question —and one that was put to the author Jason Martin, who writes about the place where spiritual growth meets evolutionary biology and human nature.  His answer from his recent novel Barcelona Blues—a sequel to his first, Voluptua? Yes.

As a prelude to Barcelona Blues, Martin quotes the French writer André Gide: “It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves—in finding themselves.”  Adventure takes one out of one’s comfort zone, forcing one to break out of all the old habits and reinvent oneself.  It requires new things of us, new ways of thinking and acting, breaks through our persona, forcing us to see who we really are.  The characters in both novels illustrate this idea.  Barcelona Blues is an easy yet fascinating read, which will surely make for a lively interview and panel discussion, and undeniably an intriguing nexus of the human psyche and religious practice. 

The novels are a call to the adventure of transformation for all of us.

Conversation in both segments will be focused on spiritual and mythical subjects in both of Martin’s novels and subjects stemming from his writings, as well as adventure as a means to discover who we really are through our own adventures in life, both metaphorically and realistically, our personal dealing with dislocation and the crisis of self-identity, and the eventual discovery of self-transformation, with inspiring insight and spiritual guidance drawn from the teachings of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Shamanism. 

As the second program of SAME’s Meet the Author series, join us for a special event with the author Jason Martin, in conversation with David Kiremidjian, Professor in Comparative Literature and An Interfaith Journey roundtable discussion with Rev. Martha Eidmann-Hicks, Imam Moutaz Charaf, Dr. David Kiremidjian and Dr. Jason (John) Martin, which consists of the first part of the afternoon program.  You will also be fascinated by the cultural and musical performance for the second half: a Show & Tell by Martin on Amazonian Shamanism and a recital of musical performance and songs, some of them as original creations arranged by our singer and musicians, Karen Merchant, David Rimelis and Mark Giannoni.   

The Meet the Author program will be held at the Glen Ridge Congregational Church on March 23rd, next Saturday, from 2:00 to 5:30.  The event is free admission. Please note that we only take cash or check for the book sale. 

The Glen Ridge Congregational Church is located at 195 Ridgewood Avenue, Glen Ridge, on the corner of Ridgewood Avenue and Clark Street, two blocks south from Bloomfield Avenue, just past the high school.  Please enter the church from the side door on Clark Street. The Blue Room, where the event will be held, is straight up the stairs and to the left.  You can park on Clark Street or Bloomfield Avenue.  For driving directions and map, please go to the GRCC’s website at http://glenridgecong.church/Directions/directions.html.

Below is the event timeline as well as the brief bios of our wonderful panel speakers and recital performers.

Please join us for our post-Spring Equinox event during the holy time of Magha Puja Day (Buddhism), Lent (Christianity), Purim (Judaism) and the upcoming Leilat al-Meiraj (Islam).  See you next Saturday!


Meet the Author cultural and interfaith program timeline:

1:30-2:30 Registration

Please be sure to sign in at the reception desk and pick up the program handout.

2:00-2:30 Reception

Reception with wine, beverages, snack and finger food. A good chance to mingle and catch up with old friends. 

2:30-3:10 Meet the Author interview

Conducted with Dr. Jason Martin by Dr. David Kiremidjian, Professor of Comparative Literature, Brooklyn College. 

3:10-3:55 An Interfaith Journey panel discussion

A roundtable discussion with Rev. Martha Eidmann-Hicks (Christianity), Imam Moutaz Charaf (Islam), Dr. David Kiremidjian (Buddhism) and Dr. Jason Martin (Shamanism).  

3:55-4:15 Q & A

— Intermission —

4:25-4:50 Show & Tell

Art and cultural topics relevant to the novels and the interview. Dr. Martin

will be talking about and also presenting other modalities of shamanic practice, including an actual Sopla, a unique Amazonian healing technique, and some of the objects he uses in his healing work.

4:50-5:30 Recital  

Singing and musical performance of sacred songs from different religions: 

Chantce [Original compilation of Buddhist chants]

The Guest House by Jellaludin Rumi [Musical poetic recitation]

I Got Two Hands  

Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee

[Welsh Hymn] (re: Detail TBC)

Esa Enai (I will lift up my eyes) [Hebrew song in English]

5:30- Book signing and sale


About the author and interfaith panel Shamanic presenter:

Jason (John) Martin is the author of two novels, Voluptua and Barcelona Blues, and a memoir Ayahuasca Nights. He is an expert in medieval literature, a yoga teacher and a shaman. As a writer, he has published articles in The Atlantic and other literary journals and magazines. He is also a playwright and film critic. He has lived and worked in Europe for years and has traveled extensively, including Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, delving deeply into Amazonian shamanism in Peru with a specialty in hypnosis, shamanic healing, in particular Sopla, a unique Amazonian healing technique. 

Dr. Martin has worked as a university professor and a Seine riverboat pilot. He holds a B.A. in French from Yale University and Ph.D. in French and Comparative Literature from the University of Rochester. He currently lives in New Jersey, where he maintains his yoga teaching (at the Glen Ridge Congregational Church) and healing practice as well as serving as Vice President of Starseed Alliance for Multicultural Education.  


About the interviewer/event host/interfaith panel Buddhist presenter:

David Kiremidjian graduated from Yale University, majoring in German

he and Dr. Martin are classmates at Yale. He earned his Ph.D. from Yale University in German and Comparative Literature. For most of his teaching career, he was a professor of Comparative Literature at Brooklyn College. He has lived in Berlin and has traveled widely in France, Spain and Italy.

Dr. Kiremidjian is the author of a book, A Study of Modern Parody: James Joyce’s Ulysses and Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus. All his life, he has been an avid and expert sailor, and is the founder and President of Full Sail, a non-profit organization dedicated to the restoration of sailing boats of historical importance. Prof. Kiremidjian is a practitioner in Tibetan Buddhism and a Buddhist scholar with an ongoing interest in literature, Buddhism, meditation and the fine arts. 


About the interfaith panel Christian presenter:

Martha Eidmann-Hicks is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has served UCC Churches in Guilford, Connecticut and Glen Ridge, New Jersey. She has been in private practice in Monmouth County, New Jersey since 1995. Her psychotherapeutic orientation is in Relational Psychoanalysis, Attachment Theory, and Systems Theory. She has lived and studied in Guatemala, and volunteered with the Episcopal Church in Honduras. She is a graduate in Religious Studies from Macalester College. She also holds an M.Div. from Yale University and Certificates in Individual and Marriage and Family Therapy from the Blanton-Peale Graduate Institute in Manhattan. Rev. Martha has an avid interest in theatre and travel. She has hiked throughout the American West and in several places in Europe. Martha is married and has a daughter. She lives in Colts Neck, New Jersey.

About the interfaith panel Islamic presenter:

Imam Mohammad Moutaz Charaf is the Muslim cleric of El-Zahra Islamic Center at Midland Park, New Jersey. He is a member of the Human Relations Commission of Bergen County as well as the Brotherhood and Sisterhood Committee of Bergen County, and also the Chaplain for the Bergen County Prosecutor. He is a lecturer, program organizer and motivational speaker in various mosques around the Metropolitan area, who has been very active in the field of interfaith and cross-cultural dialogue. Imam Charaf holds a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering, three Master’s degrees, in Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, and Islamic studies and Muslim-Christian relations, respectively, and is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Ministry degree at Hartford Seminary. He is the founder and President of El-Zahra Education Foundation and is the Visiting Clergyman at Hackensack Hospital as well as other medical institutions. He is an U.S. citizen and is married with five children.


About the vocalist:

Karen Merchant is a professional musician and music teacher. She has had a varied career as a pianist, vocalist, recording artist and actress. She studied acting with Terry Schreiber in New York, German lieder with the renowned Dutch soprano Elly Ameling at the Richard Strauss Conservatorie in Munich, operatic singing with Olga Makarina of the Metropolitan Opera, and piano with Artur Schnabel’s pupil Konrad Wolff. As a performing artist, she has appeared as soprano soloist with the New Jersey Oratorio Society and as soprano with both the National Chorale at Avery Fischer Hall and the Handel Haydn Society at Boston’s Symphony Hall, and the soloist with Dave Brubeck in his oratorio. She is currently the guest soloist at St. John’s Methodist Church in New York City where she also serves as substitute Music Director. Ms. Merchant holds a B.A. in Music Education and an M.A. in Music Performance from Montclair State University. A gifted teacher, she has a music studio in Verona teaching piano and voice. She has two recordings which are available on CD Baby.


About the musician:

David Rimelis is a violinist, guitarist, composer, lyricist, educator and recording artist in various genres. His music has been featured in films and TV programs and has also been performed by renowned orchestras such as the Boston Pops, National Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, New Jersey Symphony, and the New York Pops. He has also been the featured artist with varied symphonic and pop orchestras, both nationally and internationally. As a guitarist and violinist, he has toured throughout the country and internationally. His unique Charanga violin style has been performed with many prominent Latin ensembles. Rimelis is the founder and leader of the band Life, which performs original world jazz. Rimelis was raised on American folk and popular music; he has won prizes in a number of regional fiddle contests. Rimelis has served as composer-in-residence for the Concordia Orchestra in New York City from 1990-2002 and is currently the artist-in-residence for the New Jersey State Council on The Arts, the Director of Music Education for the AIDS Resource Foundation for Children in Newark, and the Conductor of the Jazz Ensemble at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.


March 23
2:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Event Category:


Starseed Alliabce for Multicultural Education


Glen Ridge Congregational Church
195 Ridgewood Ave
Glen Ridge, NJ 07028 United States
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