Book Review by Dick Lee
This is the second book of fiction written by Bill Diedrich. It may be a book of fiction, but Diedrich brings out some very valuable spiritual lessons to the reader. The book deals with sexual addiction which is so prevalent in our society now. It also gives us an upfront view of human trafficking and what it is doing to the lives of young girls.
Jack Retter was a middle-aged executive with a fifteen-year-old daughter, Lisa and his wife, Laura. For a number of years Jack made numerous business trips to New York City. What no one knew is that Jack had a very well-kept secret regarding his personal reason for making the trips. Maury, a slick and dangerous man, set Jack up with young girls for eighteen years. Then Jack met Alyssa. Until then Jack had not known anything personal about the girls he had used, not even their first names.
After their interaction, she noticed his wedding ring, and asked him if he had children. Jack didn’t answer. Alyssa told Jack that she was 15 years old and her home was in California. Then she said something that would change his life. She told him, “I want to go home.” Alyssa wore a provocative green dress and high heels which became significant when Jack returned home.
In addition to using young girls in New York, Jack was addicted to Internet porn. Shortly after Jack’s return home, his daughter, Lisa, showed him an outfit she hoped to wear to a dance. It was a duplicate to the dress and heels that Alyssa had worn for him. Seeing his daughter in that dress drove Jack into a state of anxiety and deep depression that stalked him all weekend.
The next week at work, his boss, James, noticed Jack acted different than usual and asked him what was going on. Jack admitted nothing about the dark side of his life, telling James that for some unknown reason, he was just feeling down lately. James referred him to a therapist by the name of Jesse.
Jack began counseling with Jesse. Slow to admit his secrets, Jack resisted therapy and decided to quit. James insisted he continue if he wanted to keep his job.
Jack realized that to get out of his anguished state, he needed to confess his secrets. His counseling sessions with Jessie brought him to the point of deep regret for taking advantage of underage girls throughout the years. He especially felt responsible for Alyssa, because he had seen in her the pain of what she experienced. Jack realized he needed to redeem himself. He made a commitment to help trafficked girls recover their lives.
Next, he contacted Maury to buy Alyssa for himself. His intent was to free her and send her home. During the deal, Maury told Jack that if any issues came up that negatively affected him, he would take his revenge against Jack’s daughter. Jack helped Alyssa back to her family.
Back with Jesse at her office, she helped Jack see what a powerful grip sexual addiction has. Jesse explained to Jack that his brain was wired for the euphoria he gets from sexual arousal that was beyond normal desire. Then the conversation switched to Jack’s wife, Laura. Jack had not said a word to Laura about his secrets. Jesse urged Jack to talk to her and to pray for understanding and meditate to gain guidance. “All you need is a little willingness” she told Jack.
The FBI entered Jack’s life when they learned of his involvement with Maury’s underage girls. A tough FBI Special Agent in Charge, Ferenbach, enlisted Jack’s cooperation in a sting raid on Maury’s human trafficking business. This led to several of Maury’s associates, including his partner, Amanda, being arrested. Maury escaped, but a dozen girls were freed.
Jack’s secret life came undone, and both his wife and daughter wanted nothing to do with him. Laura was devastated to learn of her husband’s secret life, and asked him to leave their home.
Maury threatened revenge on Lisa, Jack’s daughter. What happened next was a horrible nightmare for Jack. Maury had Lisa kidnapped, but Jack played a role in getting her back. Maury escaped immediate capture, but was soon apprehended by the FBI. Jack and his daughter reconciled, but his wife chose separation.
Jack reached the point in his recovery in which he could forgive himself for his sexual addiction and begin to see his mission in life to rescue and help girls who were trapped in human trafficking. He continued to work with the FBI in sting operations.
Bill Diedrich wrote this book of fiction while keeping a stream of spiritual thought throughout the storyline. What can a person do when they finally admit to perpetrating harmful behaviors on other human beings? Is there a way to redeem one’s self? Can a person’s hurtful life be turned around and focused on doing good toward others? Does a person who has done what may be called evil, deserve to be happy? These questions and more are the ones Jack must answer in his journey out of his secret dark world and into healthy life of service to others.
This book will also give the reader knowledge of sexual addiction and the consequences of this disease. It also gives us an understanding of human trafficking that is going on throughout the world.
Book Review by Dick Lee
All of my life I have thought about how to think about God as the sole creator of the Universe and our planet earth and the evolutionary process. My first attempt to get on my spiritual journey was with the fundamentalist movement. I was taught that evolution was of the devil, which would deter me from my spiritual journey. The Biblical literalists pointed to the first chapter of Genesis, talking about the earth being about 6,000 years old. The scientists were pointing to an unlimited time for this to get us where we are today.
Michael Dowd, in his book, “Thank God for Evolution,” tells us that in the time of Jesus, the world was believed to be flat and that the sun and stars revolved around us. Evolution is not by blind chance. Nature has a sorting process that is in a greater speed of change than it was a hundred years ago. Examples are the internet which allows us to send a message to someone in a matter of seconds.
We were not thrust into the Universe, but were born as part of the evolution of the Universe. To grow in evolutionary integrity means getting right with God by growing in humility, authenticity, responsibility, and service to the whole.
A star is a huge ball of hydrogen compressed by gravity, fusing into helium which releases enormous heat and light. When a star’s hydrogen is used up the iron core implodes under excruciating heat and pressure. Then the star explodes and spews a rich of elemental stardust, which is essential for our planet and for our lives. Except for hydrogen, every atom of our bodies was forged in the womb of an ancestral star.
The Hubble Space Telescope has expanded our understanding of the Universe to encompass more than two hundred billion galaxies, each averaging one hundred billion stars.
What would life be like if we didn’t trust the Universe and could not see that we are part of an amazing, creative Universe that turns chaos and catastrophe into new growth? What would life be like if we viewed our problems as blessings in disguise by compelling us to make healthy choices?
There are many examples of evolution in mankind, such as how we pass on knowledge. At first, there was no way to do this. Then mankind began crudely drawing pictures and symbols on their cave walls. In even the last 100 years, work was done by individuals working alone. Then Henry created the assembly line and people began working together.
Until the middle of the 14th century science and religion were inseparable. Then the Bubonic Plague struck taking 25 million lives in a 3 year period and no one knew why. Some thought that the plague came from God as punishment. However, it took scientists to determine the cause of the plague.
When we study how religion has evolved we pay attention to the Old Testament where God told the Jews to murder other races, including babies. People throughout the ages have justified religious hatred because of what they believed God had sanctioned their belief and actions.
However, in recent times people such as Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong and Episcopal priest Matthew Fox have explored new thoughts about the scriptures. So now we can see spiritual thinking in an evolutionary way.
For me, Michael Dowd’s book “Thank God for Evolution” filled in for me how to understand what has been and is now continuing to evolve. This book changed my thinking about the historical evolution of this world, and how to view past scriptures. This knowledge has changed how I interpret the facts of the universe. “Thank God for Evolution” has answered many questions I had about the history of where it all started, evolved, and where we are today.
Stop by the UGR Bookstore and order your copy today. It will answer many questions you may have in your life.
Book Review by Dick Lee
I have often wondered about how to view the many different organized religions that are in existence. Who’s right and who’s wrong? And where does God fit into all the different religions? Matthew Fox presents an illustration that works for me. Thinking of a necklace of pearls with each pearl being a separate religion, God is the thread that holds them all together.
Matthew Fox talks about how mankind is meant to be one. When we shut ourselves off from others, we diminish ourselves. In the African belief system, community was at its core. The same with Native Americans who believed in ‘interdependence’. A Jewish person never worships as an individual but as part of the Jewish community. The Dalai Lama laments that we see so much loneliness and isolation in people. As mystic Meister Eckhart puts it, “Relation is the essence of everything that exists. Muslims believe that if one part of a person is affected, it affects him totally.
We call God by many names: Allah, Yahweh, Buddha, Christ, Tao, and many more names. In the end, God is all as He weaves himself through all of the many religions in this world.
There is also what mankind has called the gender of God. In the past, goddesses have been prevalent, and the feminine aspect of God was very strong. Now the pendulum has switched so we view the masculine side of God.
Fox also talks about meditation and mindfulness. Mindfulness means being in the present moment. Meditation is like taking our soul on vacation. Meditation makes us gentle people. Our true home is in the present moment. The miracle is not to walk on water; the miracle is to walk on earth in the present moment. Our mind is about being fully present to ourselves. Fox talks about religions all around the world that teach and practice meditation.
In life there is a path of joy and there is a path of pleasure. Joy is accepted by all of the world’s religions as being sacred. Pleasure and joy are not the same. Pleasure has a self-centeredness to it that Joy transcends.
We serve others in order that they may more fully celebrate their existence. The Buddha said, “Fill your mind with compassion.” When we are an instrument of compassion for others, we feel compassion for ourselves.
Mindfulness is about the expansion of our minds, about stretching our hearts so that they reach their capacity for compassion. God is both passionate and compassionate. Psalm 145 sings: “God’s compassion is over all that He has made.”
Mahatma Gandhi’s commitment to nonviolent action can be seen as living out of the compassion he learned from his spiritual heritage.
What Matthew Fox is telling us is that all of our spiritual traditions can learn from each other and offer something fresh from their experiences and teachings.
This is what ecumenism is all about, One River, Many Wells.
Book Review by Dick Lee
Ever since I found my home in Unity, I have wondered where and how the Fillmore’s received the knowledge and teachings they taught. I even wondered if perhaps the Fillmores came up with their spiritual ideas on their own. The problem is if that were true and there was no way to substantiate it how do I know that the Fillmores teach Truth? I wanted to find out if the Unity teachings of Charles and Myrtle Fillmore were backed up by other Christian theologians in history.
I found my answers in Thomas Shepherd’s book, entitled “Friends in High Places”. He taught me that in all of the centuries since Jesus, there have been mystics who have set the course for Truth. Let me mention some of the Mystics who have held the course for Truth in the last two-thousand years.
In the fifth-century Pseudo-Dionysius urged Christians to refrain from attack thoughts and let Truth stand as its own defense.
In the middle ages the church taught predestination which meant that a person was not free to choose his eternal destination. John Scotus Erigena was free of legalism and set out to explore the idea that there is only one Power and Presence, God, the good omnipotent.
In the 1200 A.D. times there were two conflicting thoughts about how we understand God and our relationship to Him. One was through reason and the other was through revealed religion and only in the world to come. Meister Eckehart claimed that we could have it here because God and we are one.
In the 17th century, organized religion taught that truth could only come to man through external ceremonies and rituals that they possessed. George Fox taught that all people have in them an inner light which guides them.
George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, in the 18th century believed that everything is part of Spirit and that there is one unifying principal – Divine Mind. Hegel laid the foundation for modern metaphysical Christianity.
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an important bridge between New Thought Christianity and mainline Protestant thought. Emerson insisted that Jesus was the way-Shower for humanity to realize its oneness with God. He struck down the theory that Jesus was distinctly divine and above us.
We find that the organized church held that women were not equal with men. Male supremacy reigned supreme. Early in the development of modern mystical Christianity, women emerged as powerful leaders, pioneer thinkers, and doers. If it were not for the healing experiences of Myrtle Fillmore, we would not be reading Unity publications today.
There were three women in the last century or two that have revolutionized the New Thought Movement. Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910), Emma Curtis Hopkins (1853-1925), Nona Brooks (1866-1945).
Mary Baker Eddy who is the founder of the Christian Science movement, laid the path for metaphysical Christian churches.
Emma Curtis Hopkins was taught by Mary Baker Eddy and went on to teach the New Thoughts of affirmation and denial. She had a large following which fired up the New Thought movement across the nation.
Nona Brooks experienced a personal healing for herself. She began to share her healing thoughts with others and brought many people into the New Thought movement.
Paul Tillich (1886-1965) was another bridge builder for us as he taught many things that are familiar to students of metaphysical Christianity.
From this great book, I learned many things that are important in my life. I now know that my beliefs stem from ancient faith. They are not just something newly discovered. This book has explored how deep metaphysical Christianity runs.
I see Unity leading the movement towards oneness, knowing where it came from, knowing where it is, and excited about where it is going. I am filled with inner peace as I now know that my spiritual beliefs have been in existence since Jesus taught them.
(This book, “Friends in High Places” is available in our Unity Bookstore.)