Living In The Shadow Of Tribulation

This evening I happened to have dinner with my roommate and four other people.  After the main part of dinner and before we had dessert, one of the people there gave us his message that he has prepared for the upcoming Feast of Tabernacles in New Zealand, and it was a message that resonated with me personally, so I thought I would share my own comments on the theme of the message that was discussed.  Although the gentleman at our dinner party focused on seven eras of tribulation, I would like to discuss a different aspect of the them.  That way the message won’t be spoiled by those who will be hearing the message in person in about a week and a half to two weeks.

As a believer growing up in a very affluent culture, it is very common to hear people proclaim a gospel of prosperity.  In the eyes of the peddlers of the prosperity gospel, those who are blessed with lives of ease and comfort are receiving the blessings of a beneficent God.  Enough people enjoy poking at this false gospel enough [1] that I do not feel it necessary to do so here.  It should be noted, though, that the prosperity Gospel is only one ditch of a false dialect whose other partner is the envious attitude of the social gospel, a false gospel that views the tribulation and trials of many people on this earth strictly from the point of view of hostility towards evil and injustice and the tendency to blame those who are successful and prosperous for the poverty and problems that exist in this world.  There are times when people are blessed by God with great offices and influence and prosperity, and there are other times and other lives where God gives a great deal of difficulty to people who are nevertheless faithful.  Our outer circumstances give no reliable measure of the degree we are favored by God, but the fruits and the character we show in both good times and bad does provide insight into our level of spiritual growth and maturity.

Nevertheless, we do see some clear indications that there is an expectations of trials and tribulation when it comes to believers.  Throughout the course of human history, whether we look at the ancient history of the patriarchs or the behavior of the righteous kings of Judah, or even the words of the apostles for New Testament believers, there is an expectation of trouble.  A few examples will suffice.  Elisha refuses to profit from Naaman’s generosity because he views the time of the judgment against the house of Omri as being an unwise time to be immensely grasping and acquisitive, and so greedy Gehazi ends up with leprosy.  Hebrews 11 gives a lengthy account of the faithful and points out that while some believers were delivered from trials and tribulations, others refused a deliverance that would have forced them to betray their faith, and the author of Hebrews points out that of these suffering people the world was not worthy.  Nowhere does the Bible praise suffering apart from godliness, but the Bible does point out that being godly will sometimes lead people into trouble because the rebuke of the ungodly by righteous conduct attracts hostile notice in every evil age, which is every age where human beings have sought to live apart from God’s ways.

Where are the elements where trials come in our lives?  If we are righteous people in ungodly societies, as is often the case, suffering comes because the wicked do not like to be reminded that they are wicked, which means that they are likely to react harshly against those who reveal them for what they are really like.  In addition, being godly people in ungodly societies means that we are subject to suffering as a result of the divine judgment that eventually falls on societies that are corrupt and unrepentant.  Sometimes people are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, born in the wrong families and societies and social groups.  Life in a fallen world guarantees a certain amount of suffering for anyone who swims against the current.  Life in a fallen world also means that we are all deeply flawed and imperfect human beings, and for us to be formed into the image and likeness of God that we were created to show requires a great deal of refinement, which usually involves fiery trials and difficult and painful smelting of our ore until it is pure and without corruption and defilement.  For this alone, if nothing else, everyone who believes in God lives in the shadow of tribulation, regardless of the age in which we live.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/09/04/on-the-relationship-between-wisdom-and-sorrow-part-one/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/06/23/book-review-real-artists-dont-starve/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/09/06/book-review-4-abundant-life/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/08/28/book-review-enlarge-my-territory-bring-it-on/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2014/10/30/book-review-if-god-is-good/

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Book Review: Selected Letters Of Cicero

Selected Letters Of Cicero, translated by Frank F. Abbott

Once upon a time, schoolkids were intimately familiar with the writings of Cicero, a late Roman politician and onetime consul of great reputation.  These letters, in translation, are certainly useful in making a contemporary reader familiar with him, although few seem greatly interested in that at present [1].  This book, indeed, may make the reader too familiar with Cicero to the extent where he ceases to be someone who the reader holds in great respect by reputation and instead has to come to grips with his writing, which is immensely whiny and at best charmingly gossipy.  Given the fact that Cicero’s times are not so different from our own in terms of political violence and the threat of demagoguery, this book is immensely practical for those readers who want to become familiar with the late Roman Republic.  Even so, this book demonstrates that Cicero himself was not a man of great bravery and he could whine with the best in history, including our own contemporary generation of ‘statesmen.’  A reader who looks at the fall of the Roman Republic can ponder the fact that if such men as Cicero were the best that age had to offer, it is little wonder that the Republic fell the way that it did.

This book consists of 175 pages or so of Cicero’s letters in translation.  Some of these letters are short notes jotted down to some politician/crony encouraging some sort of action in support of Cicero and his interests, or apologies on behalf of someone else. Some of the letters show Cicero engaged in some sort of plan to improve his political career and that of his allies or clients.  Some of the letters are chummy notes that brag about how much of a friend Pompey is to Cicero.  Many of the letters, though, show Cicero in some sort of despondence over some sort of reversal related to politics.  At one point Cicero admits fleeing the Senate because two rival groups of thugs were fighting each other.  At other points Cicero shows despondency about and to his brother about the way that touchy people were quick to take offense.  At other times, though, Cicero shows a great deal of tact in trying to appeal to people for their sense of virtue and being honest about his considerable ambition and the troubles it involved him in.

Ultimately, these letters are worthwhile because they tell us of corrupt times not very unlike our own.  Decent men, and Cicero was at least a decent man, feared death and exile and dishonor for seeking to serve both themselves as well as their country in the face of wild swings of political favor.  Cicero seems to be a political figure like that of Hilary Clinton, for better or worse, frequently going down in defeat, of the tendency to blame other people for problems and failure, and with a Taylor Swift-like tendency of claiming to be the victim and eliciting the sympathy of those he wrote letters to while using his canniness and considerable intellect and rhetorical skills to try to manipulate the situation to his advantage.  In reading Cicero, we see our own times and the fact that we cannot have any more safety in political position than he did in his own time, even if we are people with more bravery and more consistency than he had.  Still, he was among the greatest figures of his time, and was on a close personal basis with all kinds of people we still know of, like Julius Caesar, Pompey, Cato, as well as Brutus and Cassius.  If Cicero is not as great a man as one would have thought before reading his letters, perhaps we might do well to think of how we and our reputations would fare if people became familiar with our own personal letters and notes.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2014/11/27/book-review-cicero/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/01/13/book-review-how-to-win-an-election/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/02/03/book-review-greeks-romans-bearing-gifts/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/02/05/book-review-virtue-valor-vanity-the-founding-fathers-and-the-pursuit-of-fame/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/04/06/book-review-a-latin-primer/

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Book Review: Lower California

Lower California, by the Lower California Company

Among the dirty little secrets of American history is the role of land speculation in the growth of America [1].  All the way back to colonial times, the lure of land speculation was a major influence in the spread of population across the lands that became the United States.  George Washington was a major land speculator and it influenced his role in the beginning of the French & Indian War as a defender of his own claims and that of fellow Virginians in what is now Western Pennsylvania.  Virginia’s overselling of Kentucky land led to some of the poverty suffered by Abraham Lincoln during his childhood because of insecure land title which led his father to move first to Indiana and then Illinois.  After the Civil War, a group of people, some of whom (like Caleb Cushing) are relatively famous 19th century people, joined together as part of a company to speculate on Mexican land in the Baja California, and this short book is the result of their efforts to promote their claim and fill a land that was empty then and is still pretty empty today with large amounts of docile Chinese labor.

This particular book, which is around 50 pages or so of material, is divided between statistics and hopeful speculations to help drive up interest in the land speculation company and letters involving backers and important people to increase the credibility of the efforts of the company.  A surprisingly large amount of this book is made up of letters as the backers tried to write to various influential people to help encourage the importation of foreign labors for plantation labor and mining operations, as well as to show the support of the Mexican government in the efforts of the land company.  The authors note, almost apologetically, that the portion of Baja California granted to the company did not abut the U.S. border, likely because of concerns that the United States would take more Mexican territory, which was not an unreasonable concern.  The statistics and hopeful speculation seem particularly striking in light of the fact that the area that Lower California Company had been granted is still an area known for its remoteness, low population, and danger to people thanks to drug cartels, all but the last of which were problems at the time.  From the mirror of hindsight, it is easy to tell that this was one effort that failed but the book still shines an interesting light on land speculation practices of the 19th century.

This is the kind of books that prompts historical fiction literature.  How did the company fail?  Did it simply fall apart because of the economic panics of the Guilded Age?  Was the claim nationalized by Huerta’s government during that same time period?  Did any people leave California or other places to travel to this claim?  If so, what happened to them?  Did the backers of this scheme make the money they were looking for?  If not, did their powerful friends bail them out?  This sort of company has all kinds of implications for contemporary business practices, and the fact that the authors of this scheme were so honest about their search for borrowed credibility and their exploitation of mistreatment and trouble to engage in proposals for massive population transfers in foreign countries is staggering to the imagination.  The audacity and moxie of this particular pamphlet demands respect even if one has deep reservations about human rights concerns and the political instability of Mexico.  Even though one can gather that these were corrupt men, they were corrupt men with a certain amount of genuine daring and ambition, and there is something to be said for that.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/07/08/audiobook-review-being-george-washington/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/03/21/book-review-fallen-founder-the-life-of-aaron-burr/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/03/21/the-villiany-of-james-wilknson/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/04/02/non-book-review-john-de-courcy-prince-of-ulster/

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Rebel Heart

I happen to be a fan of the Irish pop band The Corrs [1], and have been since my early teen years when the band debuted.  Each of their albums has usually included at least one instrumental song, and the instrumental song of their mo st successful album in the United States, In Blue, was called “Rebel Heart.”  Now, the Corrs are an Irish band made up of four very talented siblings, and in many of their songs they show a high degree of patriotism for their Irish homeland and its struggles.  A great many of those struggles have involved a long history of rebellion against overlords from England and then Great Britain.  In proclaiming themselves as patriotic children of Eire, the Corrs were commenting that having an Irish heart is tantamount to having a rebel heart, and the implications of that are something that I would like to explore.  Most of us would not likely say so openly that we have rebel hearts, and a great many people feel little interest in being rebellious, at least consciously, even if their lives demonstrate that they are in rebellion against something.

This morning, our retired pastor gave a sermon that asked and answered some thoughtful questions about what it would take for there to be a people willing to be ruled by God.  It is fairly obvious that a great many people do not wish to be ruled by God.  There are some who have a zeal for God but not according to knowledge, thinking that they are following God when they are not.  Others have within their minds an idea of God that allows them to live the way they want to live without a great deal of difficulty or the threat of unpleasant judgment.  Still others refuse even to accept the idea of a cosmic lawmaker and judge who can and will hold people accountable for rebellion against His laws and ways.  In all, the minister found five different types of people based on the accounts of scripture that were not at present willing to be ruled by God.  Given that these types are all bad, there was no attempt made to place these in any kind of best to worst order or to generalize the response of people in any of those camps to the tribulations and judgments of God.

It is easy to point the finger at other people when it comes to being rebels against the authority of God.  Perhaps it is too easy to see how others rebel against God, and easy for us to justify ourselves.  I often wonder if I am the sort of person who is easy to rule.  I tend to think of myself as being a somewhat difficult person to rule sometimes.  I tend to be a person of quiet but insistent stubbornness, and if someone wants me to go in a direction that I’m not willing to go in, I will dig in and simply refuse to change.  This definitely has caused problems for me before.  On the other hand, though, I don’t think of myself as someone who tends to make a big fuss out of the way that I am, so most of the time it seems that I am able to get along well enough with authorities so long as they are not bothered by my writing, which is more or less a non-negotiable item.  Being a bit stubborn and stiff-necked as I am, I wonder if I bring on a great deal of unnecessary suffering that someone who was less stubborn would be able to successfully avoid.

If the role of tribulation is to soften the heart and make it less rebellious and less harsh, then perhaps that would explain a great deal of the suffering that I endure in life, and that of many other people as well.  Those who are the most wise are able to learn from gentle and subtle hints, and those who are not wise at all refuse to learn with even the harshest judgment.  Most of us likely sit somewhere in between, one would hope.  One would not want to be stubborn and stiff-necked to the point where one was ensuring one’s own destruction because one had a rebel heart.  The tribe of Dan, for example, is said to have waited for their salvation in large part because their own heart was hardened in the ways of idolatry and rebellion.  Perhaps the same thing may be said of some of us as well, and much potential is wasted simply because people cannot get out of their own way.  It is a sobering thought to think of how much trouble we bring ourselves because we do not let ourselves be ruled by God or by other authorities.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/11/23/only-when-i-sleep-the-corrs-and-insomnia/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/06/30/in-the-heat-of-summer-sunshine/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/11/16/borrowed-heaven/

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Audiobook Review: Great Courses: A History Of England From The Tudors To The Stuarts: Part 2

Great Courses:  A History Of England From The Tudors To The Stuarts:  Part 2, by Professor Robert Bucholz

One of the unfortunate consequences of the rising struggle between various cultural views of history in the past few decades is that there is such a sharp divide about what people most appreciate when it comes to history.  A traditional focus on narrative history that consisted of biographical accounts of elites and a strong interest in military history has been countered by a more contemporary focus on history from below that is strongly based on previously ignored prosography and a strong interest in data-driven statistical history that points to a much more complex history than that which focuses solely on elites [1].  This course seems intent on splitting the difference between the two approaches, and I must admit I find its mixture of approaches immensely appealing, since rather than providing half of the historical content that others manage, it provides double by giving multiple perspectives on the same time period and often the same people.  This professor has a great deal of enthusiasm and knowledge for his subject and it makes for compelling listening or viewing, depending on how one takes this particular course.

This particular series of lectures consists of the second quarter of the professor’s studies on Tudor and Stuart history and ends at the midpoint, both literal and symbolic, of the course.  The first seven lectures of this particular collection, each about half an hour long, cover the narrative portion of the professor’s approach, beginning with the last years of Henry VIII, then one lecture each for the short reigns of Edward VI and Bloody Mary.  Four lectures then encompass Elizabeth’s reign, from the beginning of her reign, the settlement that she established in politics and religion, the dangerous world she inhabited, and her heart and stomach as a queen from the successful repulse of the Armada to her death in 1603 that ended the Tudor dynasty.  The last five lectures take a turn towards the social historical approach at which the professor also excels, starting with a look at the land of England and its people in 1603, to a look at the private life of elites and commoners in two lectures, and then a look at both the ties that bound people together (especially neighborliness) as well as a look at order and disorder.  The end results is to add a great deal of compassion as well as respect for the complex and nuanced relationships within society as well as the fragility of life for most people during the time, especially those who were vulnerable.

If you liked the first part of the course, this second part of the course will likely be one that you enjoy as well.  This particular course largely builds upon the promise of the first course and carries it forward a few decades.  This is not a problem as well.  This particular audiobook is six hours of video that is time well spent getting to know the Tudors and some of their overmighty subjects as well as the common people who are largely neglected in many studies of the period.  The professor deserves considerable credit not only for giving voice to the lives of a diverse group of 16th century Englishmen, as well as a few Scots and Irish, but also for introducing students to some of the debates and theories about life in Tudor England.  This is a course that really fulfills on a considerable amount of promise in giving a genuinely exciting and insightful look at an important period of history and in framing that history in contrast with the American contemporary experience, which serves larger aims about the worth of the study of history for the wider public.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/08/18/book-review-dispensationalism-and-the-history-of-redemption/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/07/23/book-review-the-scotch-irish-a-social-history/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/12/13/book-review-a-new-history-of-early-christianity/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/08/03/the-challenges-of-history-from-below/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2012/05/30/christopher-columbus-and-the-social-and-religious-motives-for-exploration/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/06/19/book-review-studies-in-thai-history/

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Audiobook Review: Great Courses: A History Of England From The Tudors To The Stuarts: Part 1

Great Courses:  A History Of England From The Tudors To The Stuarts:  Part 1, by Professor Robert Bucholz

Although the history of the Tudors is one I am pretty familiar with [1], this first part of a four part epic course on the Tudor and Stuart dynasty is still a winning one.  The professor is an American who spent many years studying and researching abroad, and so he brings to this course a mixture between an outsider’s approach to English history (and the history of the peripheral regions of what is now Great Britain and Ireland) as well as a great deal of research knowledge and expertise on that history.  Likewise, the professor blends an interest in biographical history–focused here on such figures as Henry VII, Henry VIII, Cardinal Wosley, and a few others–as well as an interest in total history that focuses attention on people who are peripheral for reasons of geography or class, which makes for an intriguing class that blends together approaches of history from the top down as well as from the bottom up.  The combination is definitely a worthwhile one and the course is definitely an enjoyable one.

The twelve lectures (and six hours) of this course are organized in a somewhat unconventional way that demonstrates the professor’s complicated purposes.  The professor begins by introducing himself and his own background and looking at the purpose of showing how the Tudor and Stuart periods made England the first modern country in our world.  Three lectures follow that show the land and its people in 1485, when the Battle of Bosworth made Henry VII ruler over a divided and marginal country.  The author then goes back in time for two lectures to cover the late medieval period first from the death of Edward III to the outbreak of the Wars of the Roses and then the Wars of the Roses themselves.  The next two lectures briefly cover the establishment of the Tudor dynasty through the sober and wary policies of Henry VII, an able but not particularly beloved monarch.  The last four lectures look at the reign of King Henry VIII, looking at his early reign, the king’s great matter in the search for a legitimate male heir, the gradual break from Rome, and the question of whether the latter part of the reign of Henry VIII served as a Tudor revolution in terms of culture and the role of the state.

There was a great deal of value in this particular set of lectures, and those who want to know how Tudor history is relevant to our contemporary world would do well to listen to these lectures and to ponder over the historiography of the author.  Of particular value was the way that the author compares the charismatic reputation of Henry VIII with the way that his reign served as an introduction to the contemporary welfare state where the government seeks to replace the church and other institutions in providing aid to the poor and in controlling the economic resources of the state and its territory.  This book provided a bit of ominous understanding about some of the origins of the conflict over the role of government and the legitimacy of its authority that exist within the United States, showing how long the roots of this conflict go back into late medieval and early modern history.  There are many other useful insights this course provides, such as the fateful division of Wales, Scotland, and Ireland when it came to the growth of English power and dominion over those areas, and also the way that the author has a deft grasp of many types of historical investigation.  Here’s a class I look forward to continuing.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/04/17/book-review-the-complete-idiots-guide-to-irish-history-and-culture/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/01/14/non-book-review-the-tudors-on-film-and-television/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/09/18/non-book-review-jasper-tudor-dynasty-maker/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2012/03/19/today-in-history-on-march-19-1536-anne-boleyn-was-executed/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/04/24/non-book-review-richard-iii-the-king-in-the-car-park/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/05/20/audiobook-review-the-plantagenets/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/07/29/audiobook-review-quarrel-with-the-king/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/07/27/the-unexpected-triumph-of-arcadia/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/07/26/audiobook-review-katherine-swynford-by-alison-weir/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/06/26/book-review-bosworth-1485/

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A Holding Pattern

I apologize a bit in advance for the shorter than usual report than usual.  I’ve been doing some hurricane research that I don’t wish to write about again [1] because most people are probably sick of it by now.  In addition to that tonight the cold and wet weather triggered a gout attack while I was reading in the evening and when my foot is in pain I tend to be a bit more waspish than usual, which is waspish enough for most people I would suppose.  Trying to write without ranting can be a difficult challenge on a day like this, although it is good that the weather is getting more wet because the summer has been terrible as far as drought conditions are concerned.  That which is good for people in general may not always be good for me.  When we look at life from the point of view of what is most convenient for us, we do not often find that the world conforms to that.

One of the stories that struck me from my recent research was from a meteorologist who happened to fly into Hurricane Hugo in 1989.  He and his associates were in a small airplane with four engines and had thought that they were flying into a Category 3 hurricane, so they flew low at about 1500 feet.  Unfortunately, they were flying into a much stronger Category 5 hurricane that ended up throwing the plane around and sending it into a dive that was only averted by their reaching the eye of the storm and calm conditions.  Unfortunately, one of their engines had been on fire, so they required help from another more robust plane that found a relatively soft patch for them to limp home to with an amazing story to share at having survived a surprise battering from one of the strongest storms of recent history.

It has always bothered me the way that Progressives have often seemed to be particularly keen on using disasters as a way of furthering their harmful political agendas.  This is not a particularly new problem, it should be noted.  Muckruckers in the early 1900’s sought to dig up a great deal that was corrupt and unpleasant within the world and draw enough attention to it to provoke social change.  FDR used the Great Depression as motivation to pass a socialist agenda and to push an even more socialist agenda that, thankfully, was not enacted into law with a bogus series of ten additional bills of supposed rights.  We see the same thing nowadays, where every hurricane prompts hand-wringing about the dangers from mythical anthropogenic climate change and where every act of violence with a gun that is not from a Muslim or a fellow progressive is viewed as signalling the need for more strict regulation of firearms.

What this suggests as that life with an agenda is a life lived in a holding pattern.  One has a ready-made program that one wants to adopt, usually one that makes life a lot more burdensome and unpleasant for the world at large.  During normal times one lays low, knowing that people would be particularly hostile towards one’s plans and schemes if they were openly discussed, only sharing one’s insights with those who agree with one’s opinions.  Yet when any kind of negative event happens, something that can be considered a crisis or something that can be hyped up, then the agenda comes out fully armed like Athena from the head of Zeus.  Quite frankly, I would much rather the holding pattern last long enough for an agenda to be discredited, but that does not seem to be the sort of world we live in right now.  Instead, crises happen all the time, so often that one can be forgiven for having a bit of fatigue about them.  I know I do.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/09/20/and-the-hits-keep-coming/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/09/09/hurricane-party/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/08/26/is-an-unjust-tribunal-like-a-hurricane/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/09/06/set-fire-to-the-rain/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/08/30/instant-karma/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/08/25/it-sounds-more-interesting-when-you-put-it-that-way/

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Book Review: Can I Keep Drinking?

Can I Keep Drinking?:  How You Can Decide When Enough Is Enough, by Cyndi Turner

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Author’s Den.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

Although for rather personal reasons I choose to refrain from drinking [1], I consider myself a moderationist when it comes to my approach on the proper use of alcohol that avoids its abuse but recognizes it as a good thing and an enjoyable thing in its proper use.  I give that as a bit of context because it suggests that I am not the ideal person to read this book, although where I stand is not far from where the author herself stands.  That said, although very little about this book applies to me, this book does present a thoughtful approach to dealing with alcohol abuse that gives readers a chance to examine themselves as to whether they can drink in a moderate way that does not cause problems in their lives.  To be sure, much depends on self-control as well as the existence of other issues that make drinking more difficult–the use of medications, issues of sexual abuse and mental health, difficult family history, or the existence of tolerance that has pickled the mind and body with alcohol and led to full-blown dependence.

This book is close a standard length of nearly 200 pages–a bit over 100 pages in its e-book format–and is divided into several chapters.  The first chapter introduces with the obvious truism that not everyone who drinks has a problem.  The second chapter asks why treatment for problem drinking assumes a one-size fit all solution of abstinence.  The third chapter asks the reader to do a self-assessment to figure out where they sit on the spectrum of drinkers.  The fourth chapter looks at the effect of alcohol on the body.  After this, the author spends a couple of chapters dealing with change management, before providing a detailed quiz about whether the reader is able to drink moderately based on their behavioral patterns and habits.  After this the author discusses what a moderate drinking plan is–it’s pretty moderate, one or two drinks over the course of an evening at most and how it can be maintained in the face of life’s stresses and pressures.  The tenth and final chapter contains some very practical discussions on the resources that someone can have when it comes to drinking–some of which, like Celebrate Recovery, the approach used by my step-grandfather, are useful for people with serious life struggles like mental health issues and personal histories of sexual abuse who are not chemically dependent.

Obviously, this book is aimed at problem drinkers, those whose drinking has caused them some trouble in life, and who want to know if it is possible for them to drink in a reasonable and moderate fashion.  The answer the author gives is “maybe.”  Assuming that someone’s drinking has not reached a critical stage, and they are able to work on overcoming the issues that led them to abuse drinking in the first place, it may be possible to drink in a moderate fashion if someone wishes to do so.  Many will, however, find themselves impossible to enjoy alcohol on anything approaching a frequent use while being able to maintain sobriety in their lives, and the author does not seem untroubled by this.  She does not make any false claims about the universality of the possibility of moderate drinking for problem drinkers, but rather seeks for people to examine themselves and look at the context of their lives and habits and resolve to make better habits and take responsibility for their behavior and make sure that they are not under the domination of any sort of chemicals.  Particularly noteworthy is her connection of mental health issues and histories of rape and abuse with problem drinking, as providing a large part of the context that encourages people to drink for self-medication, only to slide deeper into dependence and addiction.  Although it may not have been the author’s intent, this book certainly convinced me that my own wary and guarded approach towards drinking in light of my own life and history is a wise one, and so this book had value to me even as a non-drinker.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/02/21/book-review-the-alcoholism-and-addiction-cure/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/04/19/an-ambivalent-culture/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/02/21/book-review-addicts-at-the-cross/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/04/06/book-review-passion-for-pinot/

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Book Review: Authors Digital Enterprise

Authors Digital Enterprise, by Maini Chaudhri

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Author’s Den.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

I found it somewhat difficult to fully appreciate this book.  The author is not particularly proficient in the English language, and in terms of its use of the English language, this book is among the worst books I have ever read [1].  Even the title has a grammatical error with a missing apostrophe in Author’s.  So, what we have here is a book which appears to have been written by someone whose knowledge of English is extremely shaky and which may have been translated via something like Google translate.  This is not the best practice as far as books are concerned.  That said, although this book is extremely rough from the point of view of language, there is a lot of content in this book that is worthwhile.  A charitable reader will find much to appreciate in these pages and to apply to their own career, especially if one is a writer with a certain degree of commercial interests.  Because of this value, this book is a work with poor language that nevertheless deserves attention for its content.

The contents of this book are very practical and focused on helping writers make more money while celebrating change and leveraging automation to do more in the same time.  The author talks about the new internet scene for writers, taking advantage of automation, and using deep knowledge to develop a unique identity from others.  After this the author talks about change management, standardizing their approach to writing and publishing, and using agile marketing to increase book sales.  The author then talks about personal profiles as well as a clever use of Facebook to drive up likes and shares and awareness of a writer’s work via social media.  After this the author turns to the need to make the mobile experience worthwhile and encourage a good customer experience.  The author then closes with a discussion about e-mail marketing, optimizing products for sales on Amazon, and scaling the enterprise of the author.  The book as a whole takes about 100 pages to lay out an approach for authors to leverage the power of bots and automatic practices to do more as writers and self-publishers.  This is not a new message, to be sure, but it is a good message even if it places a somewhat heavy burden on contemporary writers.

What kind of reader will appreciate this work?  For a reader to appreciate this book fully two things will be necessary.  For one, the reader will need to be a writer who is interested in gaining an understanding of tools to increase the marketability of their writings as a self-published author.  For another, the author will need to have a high tolerance for poor and ungrammatical English.  This may seem like an unusual combination of qualities for readers.  The suggestion is for the writer to do some copy-editing of her book or to hire someone who can understand English well enough to use apostrophes correctly and speak in nuanced and complex prose.  Even so, this book is a worthwhile one that has a lot going for it if you can get behind the text to look at the contents.  Whether or not many readers do this is a mystery to me.  I myself feel somewhat torn between viewing it as a very savvy guide from an experienced self-published author and a laughably bad, even legendary example of poor English, but there should at least be an international market among people who are less picky about he way a book is written for this book.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2014/10/22/book-review-visions-of-the-last-adam/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/01/15/book-review-taken-into-time-by-the-spirit-of-god/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/10/06/book-review-creating-a-hostile-environment-for-the-flesh/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/10/04/book-review-democracy-becoming-as-one/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/09/21/book-review-behind-the-stage/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/09/02/book-review-the-four-dominions/

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And The Hits Keep Coming

There is a saying that lightning never strikes the same place once, but that saying is even a bad one by the standard of bad urban legends.  Early in his political career, Abraham Lincoln made political hay of the fact that someone who had been a fellow Whig in Illinois politics had a lightning rod on his house after having switched political parties for preferment.  Much of the time, lightning excepted, people want the hits to keep coming and coming.  Musicians, for example, often greatly dread being considered one-hit wonders, except that there is a market for such people to keep playing their hits far more than for comparative musicians with only two or three hits [1].  To have one hit is better than none by a great degree and to have two hits is only slightly better than to have one, but to have twenty hits is a great deal better, at least that means that there will be an eternity of greatest hits albums being made.

In many areas of life, though, one just wishes the hits would stop coming.  Let us think, for example, of the NFL, which has a variety of hits that it wishes would stop coming.  Between efforts at boycotts, dissatisfaction over a rash of relocating, health concerns over brain damage of former players, a bit of abuse when it comes to discipline of players by the league office, and a stretch of some dreadful games.  There’s a league that wants the hits to stop coming any time they feel free.  Of course boxing is a game where the hits come, but in some cases one would rather that they stop coming.  A recent hyped match between GGG and a ginger boxer named Canelo ended in one of those dreadful disputed draws.  Boxers would be well advised not to let the judges decide a match because a great deal of the time they make terrible decisions in draws.  A boxer can win 8 out of 12 rounds and end up losing because of the subjectivity and, some would say, corruption of the game.  While that may be good to stir up controversy, it does little to give a sport mainstream legitimacy.

At times, though, the hits are more serious.  As I was going about my business this morning, I saw a series of e-mail messages informing me of a serious earthquake in Mexico City that has caused over 100 deaths as of the latest report I have seen, and likely a great deal of damage.  It was not that long ago that there was a serious earthquake near the area of Oaxaca.  Unfortunately, earthquakes are one of those phenomena of earth where one occurrence often means that there will be another one not too long in the future not too far away.  The same is true for hurricanes, as the hits keep on coming and coming with that.  If they aren’t dumping large amounts of rain on Texas or Mexico or causing havoc in Florida and the Caribbean, then they are springing almost from nothing into immensely rapid intensification before causing havoc.  Again, my inbox was filled with news yesterday about the rapid intensification of Hurricane Maria and then I have to look at its winds over places from St. Lucia to islands that have already been sufficiently battered this hurricane season.  It looks like Puerto Rico will be the next one to be hit as that storm makes its fateful course through the North Atlantic, an area that surely wishes the hits would stop coming for a while.

What connects all of these unwanted hits together, besides the fact that they are unwanted?  Some of the hits spring from the fact that we live in a dangerous world full of perils and occasional moments of difficulty based on time and chance.  Other perils come about because of our own mistakes.  Sometimes we put ourselves in harm’s way, and sometimes we think of ourselves as capable of enduring far more punishment than ends up coming our way.  Whether we are the equivalent of low-lying land in places like Texas and Florida or small and obscure islands in the Caribbean, or whether we are boxers in a ring or people involved in institutions that simply cannot figure out what they are trying to do, life sometimes presents situations where hits keep on coming and coming, but not the kind of hits that we would want that would mean success.  And when you roll with the punches enough, you hope you are a better person on the other side.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/07/29/identify-please-identify/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/04/11/remember-me/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/01/25/living-in-a-box/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/01/04/when-she-cries/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/12/09/another-dumb-blonde/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/12/07/the-love-is-all-around-me/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/08/03/come-on-come-on-its-there-at-your-feet/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2014/10/02/oh-the-divorces/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2012/07/28/if-you-sleep/

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