It appears on the surface like this must be either fantasy or science fiction, but no: Searching for Ropens and Finding God is a nonfiction about the modern quest to discover a flying creature that most persons of developed countries have assumed extinct for millions of years: the pterosaur, also called pterodactyl.
A reference to finding God suggests it’s mainly a religious book, although it is more of a true-life adventure cryptozoology nonfiction, with undertones of spiritual purpose. It supports Christian values and faith in the Bible, although explicit references are few.
How do you know you would enjoy reading this book? Sample it through a few quotations, such as the following:
From the Acknowledgements
The prayers of family, friends, and other Americans were answered when I found Luke Paina, who became my interpreter, bodyguard, and counselor. By the grace of the Father of us all, Luke and I were welcomed like brothers by those we met on Umboi Island, and through the friendship of humble native Christians in remote villages, we were fed, sheltered, and led to those who made this book possible: the native eyewitnesses. Thank you; tenku tru. [page 6]
Sighting by an Australian Couple
“The body also still appeared leathery, though textured as though possibly covered with fine hair or small scales, the distance preventing any finer observation other than that it was [a] slightly different texture than the wings. The shape of the body was a streamlined torpedo shape, slightly broadest at the chest and tapering slightly back to the hip, then tapering more quickly after the hips to a moderately thin tail which was slightly longer than the body.” [page 33]
On a Banana Boat Near Umboi Island
My luggage was piled high in the middle of the boat as I crawled to the bow. I presume they put me there because it was the favored position: I was paying the bill. After we pulled away from the dock at Lab Lab, I noticed both the lack of sunscreen in my supplies and the lack of tree canopy over the sea. I began to panic, realizing the danger I alone was facing: Under a cloudless sky, starting several hours of communion with a midday tropical sun, my frail white skin could soon be non-white. Fortunately, I found my plastic rain jacket and didn’t care how silly I looked huddled under my canopy. It worked. But it struck me, how I had packed so many exotic first aid items for afflictions I would never suffer, yet I had neglected sunscreen.
As the boat owner was expecting less weight, we had to stop at a small island to refuel. The boat lied low in the water from the overweight luggage of course, for Luke, David, and the boat owner all had the slim build of young islanders.
The villagers here appeared healthy and well-fed; but with the small island covered with huts, they obviously had little room for gardening. I was told that they live by selling gasoline to banana boat owners. I then got the bill for extra fuel and suddenly it all made sense. [page 56]
An Eyewitness in Virginia
Fearless the young lady was, before the encounter, yet at around eleven o’clock one night, a huge flying creature challenged her confidence. Doubt later overshadowed her, metastasizing into a new fear. During the sighting, in the late twentieth century at a swimming hole, she feared being attacked by the creature; in the years following, she feared what friends and family would think, and she herself at first doubted her mental stability, for she had stood up to an apparent monster.
How fortunate for her sense of sanity that she was not the only eyewitness! Two persons saw the creature, in the moonlight, and two can sometimes equal at least four-times-one, for credibility that a sighting was of a real creature bigger than any known bird. The lady I interviewed, years afterwards, was mentally healthy.
She stood in shallow water in the middle of the pond, splashing loudly. “It came from the direction of the moon,” with a silhouette that left her paralyzed with fear, as it approached, flapping a little but mostly gliding, in a predatory attack dive. [page 183]
. . . when I got to the part about the ropen being a living pterodactyl, the older woman’s expression changed: Apparently, I had boarded the plane with a deadly contagious disease.
So where is the scientific evidence for the universal extinction of all species of pterosaurs? Notice the Smithsonian blog post by Brian Switek, dated August 16, 2010: not one reference to an eyewitness sighting report. Switek says “such anecdotes,” without mentioning what he is talking about. He says much about the religious beliefs of Blume and Woetzel, as if that counts against their ideas, but why does he say nothing about what caused those expeditions: eyewitness reports?
This is not focused on young-earth-creation readers, but on those who can look beyond labels and avoid negative judgments based on simplistic religious stereotypes.