Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Recognize No Evil; Admit To No Evil; Speak No Evil


Breaking The Veil Of Silence
Author: Jobst Bittner
Published by: TOS Publishing, Tübingen, Germany, 2013


I agreed to review this book because of my high regard for the Jewish people, from Abraham who lived about 3,800 years ago right up to those Jews living around the world today. So I was surprised to find out it had just as much to do with Christians. Silence about the past, the evil past, is a condition of the mind and heart that can prey on all of us. Thus its subject concerns many of us.
Jobst Bittner, the author, is the President of TOS Ministries, a multi-initiative work which is best described through its website. But for purposes of this review, Bittner is a German pastor, theologian, and activist. He tackled Germany’s “veil of silence” which covered the country’s history, the reign of Hitler, and the Holocaust, starting with Tübingen, the university city which gave rise to the “final solution” and its promoters after the Jews were blamed for the Black Plague. And he succeeded.  In this book, Bittner challenges us to tackle our own “veil of silence” in ourselves, in our families, communities, cities, and country, but above all in our churches. If we do it for no other reason, we must do it for the sake of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, if not more future generations.  The impact on children in each of these generations is discussed at great length. He shows us that unless we break this “silence”, there cannot be the spiritual healing each of these entities (family, city, church, community, and country) needs.  And without the healing, one has a hard time benefitting from the full extent of God’s intended blessings.
With respect to the Church, the author points out what happened to it since the early days after Christ’s crucifixion and ascension each time they moved away (or were taken away) from their Jewishness. He also shows us how, contrary to popular belief, Constantine didn’t do the Church any favors.
I found this book to be a serious treatise of the topic – very methodical, detailed, well-researched, and most informative. He does a great job of integrating psychological and psychiatric models into his explanations which are interesting. I was sharing its contents with some family and friends while still reading it and already a number have asked to borrow it. The topic is certainly still, for one reason or another, a very hot one. He spends time showing us where the veil of silence comes from, what it is, and where it’s found today. And then he moves us, using the parallel of those who experienced the Holocaust and the concentration camps of Hitler Germany, through the various generations of victims and how the silence has impacted each. And don’t think there’s no room in this process for Jewish people to ask forgiveness of the Germans, there is. But I’ll let you discover where for yourself.
As already mentioned, the book is not just about the victims (the Jews of Germany, Ukraine, Slovakia, and many other places), it’s also about the perpetrators – both inside and outside the church – for all the same generations, up to today. We meet the children of SS officers and we cry with those who had to visit the very ground that their parents or grandparents were executed or annihilated. But it’s all worthwhile for them, as it should be or could be for us.   
Bittner addresses the issue of whether or not, and if so, why and how, we can repent for the sins of our forefathers – and he does so with biblical backing. One of his chapters focuses on the fact that any veil of silence can be actually broken, but he warns us that it’s not a piece of cake. He does an excellent job of explaining how Christ “remained silent” on the cross, so we don’t have to be silent today.  Finally, he gives us vibrant example after example of how the “veil of darkness” encompassing the Holocaust has indeed been broken, in Germany, America, and elsewhere.
I love his line, “Most of the time, religious silence resists the power of God, always wanting to retreat to the ‘privacy’ of one’s personal faith.” How true that is and also how much it renders us ineffective.
The problem for many readers will be that we cannot even imagine some of the kind of memories those people he writes about had, let alone actually have them ourselves.
I recommend the book for any pastor who wants to break the silence in his/her church; for any parent who wants to break it in his/her family; for any counsellor who needs to better understand his/her clients; and for anyone who wants to be healed of his/her own silence.
·      By Ken B. Godevenos, President, Accord Resolutions Services Inc., Toronto, Ontario, August 30, 2016. www.accordconsulting.com

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Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

4-Step Process for Making a Plea to God on behalf of Others


Moses’ Plea to God
Exodus 34:8-9: And Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship. And he said, “If now I have found favor in Thy sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go along in our midst, even though the people are so obstinate; and do Thou pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Thine own possession.”
God has just finished telling Moses Who He really was, what He does, and what mankind is to do, and Moses gets it. He knows God is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, full of lovingkindness, forgives iniquity, transgression and sin, and will not leave the guilty unpunished. Given that, Moses believes it is a perfect time to make his plea directly to God.
He bowed down and worshiped God. Then he asked Him to show His mercy by “staying in their midst” regardless of how undeserving the people may have been. Moses does not want to go forward alone. He knows he needs God with him. So he asked God to exercise His “forgiving” characteristic that God Himself shared with Moses, upon these people.
If you’re a leader today – be it of your family, your business, your church, your community – then you would do well to follow Moses’ example in making your plea to God on behalf of those you lead.
1.     Know Who God is.  You do that by seeking Him and hearing Him.
2.     Worship Him as His true child and follower. You need to have an established relationship with Him; you need to be credible.
3.     Appeal to Him more on behalf of others than yourself.
4.     Then stop and patiently wait for God to respond in His way, His time.
It’s as uncomplicated as that. And it works just as well today as it did back in the days of Moses.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Author’s Brutal Honesty Could Help Save Your Life, Marriage


Hanging On To Hope: From Marriage to Divorce Thru Depression
To Remarriage And What God Taught Me Along The Way
Author: Annette Newcomb
Published by: Westbow Press, Bloomington, IN, 2016


This is the incredible true life account of a woman who for all intents and purposes, could be you, your spouse, your sister, your mother, or your friend. I would be astonished if anyone read the whole book without saying “that’s me to a T” or “that’s my. . .” at several points in the story.
Annette Newcomb shares her personal experiences, thoughts, relationships with her husband, life with her sons, and her reliance on friendships very transparently and in a way that allows all of us to identify with her struggles, fears, disappointments, and hopes. Interwoven through her life story which includes loss of a loved one, battles with cancer, suicide attempts, illness of a child, severe financial troubles, a rebellious teenager, a wonderful marriage turned awful through abuse, divorce, and later the discovery that she is bipolar, is her constant conversation with God. What she needed was ‘hope’ and there was no better place to find it than in a relationship with God through prayer and the study of His Word.
If there is anyone in our modern typical North American society that knows trials and tribulations, it is Annette.  Short of living in extreme poverty, under constant war, being used in the sex trade, or controlled by a gang, Annette’s earthly problems ranked way up there. But through it all she discovers, sometimes through a friend, sometimes through her own study, or the words of a pastor, that God gives to His children without ‘finding fault’; that He can be trusted if when He doesn’t tell us why we are going through something awful; that we have to come to the place where if God were to withdraw His blessing and it would not affect our trust in Him; that He will be ‘with’ us through the difficult waters; and that God didn’t talk about ‘if’ difficulties come our way, but ‘when’ they do.
Newcomb at one point cries out for God to bring along an older, wiser man that her husband could talk with, pray with, and discuss his issues with, but God fails to comply. As I read that, I wondered if it was not so much that God did not want to provide a positive response to her plea, but that there just are not enough such Godly men around. If that’s the case, what a sad commentary on our society. But still, Annette never judges anyone in this book and in fact, goes out of her way to explain how she understands all who have gone through the various life experiences she has, including divorce as a Christian.
In the process of sharing her life, the author recommends several great resources for Christians and married couples. The section on the reconciliation between her ex-husband and herself was described with great candor.  It reminded me of the movie Fireproof (2008), only this was for real. Another part of her honesty is evident when in several places throughout the book, Newcomb identifies some bad decision she made alone and some she made with her husband.
While marriage, “the only relationship we have here on earth that compels us to exhibit each of the fruits of the Spirit on a daily basis” is her main thrust, Newcomb also spends considerable time discussing her observation of how our churches and individual Christians treat mental illness today, shows us how that can change, and pleads for us to make it happen.
This is a book that will touch anyone who reads it. It is also a book that should be given to anyone contemplating marriage.  I intend to use it with the pre-marital counselling I do. It is also an excellent resource for married couples. But above all, it will change the way you view your life, your family, your marriage, and your relationship with God.  Put another way, it will help you know, seek, and find hope.

By Ken B. Godevenos, President, Accord Resolutions Services Inc., Toronto, Ontario, August 9, 2016. www.accordconsulting.com


Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

A Theory Re. Coincidences: Reality or Placebo?


Connecting With Coincidence: The New Science for Using Synchronicity and Serendipity in Your Life
Author: Bernard D. Beitman, MD
Published by: Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL, 2016
In our society, the word “coincidence” is well understood by almost everyone by the time they reach ten years of age, if not younger. Coincidences are observed by us all and most of us are quick to explain their happening either as a mystery (an act of God for the believer) or strictly an event that occurred randomly (by chance). I was no exception, although I employed (and still do) both plausible causes identified above, depending on the circumstances under which a coincidence occurred and its significance. Therefore, it was easy for me to agree to review this book when given an opportunity by the distributor. That decision, however, resulted in a personal challenge.
Psychiatrist Dr. Bernard Beitman is a brilliant author. His book is professionally laid out in three main sections. In part 1, his aim is to convince us (it does not take much) that weird coincidences do commonly take place; part 2 is dedicated to how one can integrate coincidences into their life; and part 3 is devoted to the serious reader who wants to more closely examine a new ‘theory’ about coincidences. [Beitman more correctly uses the term ‘theory’ here as compared to the sub-title of his book where he uses ‘science’ to describe his beliefs.] In this last part he introduces us to what he calls the ‘psychosphere’, or mental atmosphere, where we all, in his view, subtlety exchange forms of energy and information with each other.
As the author is a medical doctor as well as a psychoanalyst, we get to learn some very interesting things (e.g. twins joined at the head are called ‘craniopagus’ twins; those who have identical medical issues in hospitals heal faster if their bed is by a window; and so on). And he asks some very interesting questions such as “Why is joy not shared at a distance in the same way as negative painful emotions?” which he then proceeds to answer as best he can.
Beitman is both a realist and very clever. Examples of the former are that he admits his mathematically inclined colleagues and people of faith, would say coincidences are examples of random chance at work or God, respectively. Examples of the latter are his statement that he couldn’t convince either of them otherwise as “theirs is a fixed belief” in the laws of probability or God’s total involvement in our lives.
As a ‘religious scientist’, the author believes that we use our “God-given abilities to influence the way we, and others, live.” There’s something that sounds right with that, but does it go far enough?
Beitman describes the environment in which we are most likely to notice coincidences in our lives. These include high emotions as well as being in a state of transition.
He is also very careful to caution us on the misuse of coincidences.  At one point he describes a couple that married as a result of coincidences, but the marriage didn’t last long because marriages he writes, “must be maintained through trust, commitment, caring and consistency.”  The book is full of useful “ideas” and suggests which he identifies with an icon of a light bulb. One of them is the thought that while “coincidences (may) deserve a seat at the table of your romance – they don’t deserve to be the decider-in-chief.” He also deals with “library angels” and “internet angels” – a more recent form of coincidences.
In a section entitled, How Romance Coincidences Are Created, Beitman describes the fourth step in the process as “The person often enters an altered state of consciousness.” And that’s where he loses me.  He does, however, indicate that those who know useful coincidences commonly occur come to expect them as part of daily life. My experience is that whether one does or does not expect them, the same coincidences would happen – that is, albeit one who is not looking for them may miss them but they would still occur in the absence of expectation.
Part 1 is full of examples of coincidences that have been recorded through family ties, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, health situations, ideas in the air, timely money, pets, and work.  One cannot argue with what happened in these stories. One only has the option of assigning a cause to the coincidences. For example, one person prayed to God for money and he was led to where he found it. He “believed that God guided him to the money.” But Beitman believes the person himself played a collaborative role with God in finding the money.  I can even buy that.  After all, God is the One who has given us a brain and a memory with which to think and reason things out and act accordingly.
Throughout the book, the author talks about “base rates” with respect to various probabilities of things happening randomly. But while he walks us verbally through one example, he never uses number for one reason or another, and that would have helped greatly. While he believes we can take steps to increase our ability to notice and take advantage of coincidences in our lives, he also quotes the old saying, “The dog that trots about in the right places finds the bone.” So maybe it is more about perseverance, being optimistic, learning from failure, and relying on intuition than anything else.
In the last section of the book, Beitman tries to show us how “simulpathity” (connecting with the experience of others at a distance without knowing how we do it) and “Human GPS” (finding our way to people, things and ideas without consciously knowing how) together get us to “loved ones in distress whose location we don’t know” just in time to save them. While he argues well for his case, that still is not an idea I am willing to swallow as it is based on there being “mechanisms by which energy-information is converted into electrical nerve impulses the brain can process into emotion and behavior.”
As a creationist, I parted company with Beitman when he wrote near the end of his book, “I believe that our physical being seems to have emerged from a primordial soup, a rich mixture of energy (perhaps electricity) and information (perhaps simple molecules).” May I suggest, perhaps just a theory. This psychosphere leads us, in his mind, to “the One Mind, of Consciousness, of the Universe, of God” and to the realization that we are all one and the same. All bringing déjà vu of Shirley Maclaine’s “I am God” philosophy.  I was hoping scientists had gotten past that these days, but alas, perhaps not.
While Dr.Beitman has a lot of things right, including about the internet and social media, I would take issue with him on his conclusion that the “spread of personal qualities through social networks adds yet more evidence for the existence of the group mind and, by extension, the psychosphere.” In reality, it can also point towards our great diversity of mind.
So, who is this book for?  A lot of people who know the word “coincidences” and want to learn much more about how they may happen and the related theories that try to explain them. It should however be read with a critical mind for once we try to explain something like this beyond the two traditional explanations, we are wading into waters where true science can only accompany us so far, and the rest is simply conjecture. We’re on our own.
Now, just in case you think I am being too tough on the author and the book, let me share with you the following: When I was about to start my careful reading of Part 2 of Dr. Beitman’s book (while taking in the sun and the beach at Garden City, S.C.), I stopped and checkd my phone in case there was a free wi-fi around.  Just prior to that I had been reading (in his book) about Oprah Winfrey’s audition for the role of Sophia in the film, The Color Purple. In my search for free wi-fi, up came two possibilities, one of which was Purple Rain. I intentionally wrote a note about what had just happened and observed, in the margin of the book, and then checked the wi-fi availability again. ‘Purple Rain’ was gone.  Was this coincidence? Did I really see it on my phone?  Who knows?  At least I noticed it and Dr. Beitman would have been quite pleased, I’m sure.

By Ken B. Godevenos, President, Accord Resolutions Services Inc., Toronto, Ontario, May 13, 2016. www.accordconsulting.com


Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.