January 16, 2009

Afraid to Tell

Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am? by John Powell, S.J. (Tabor Publishing, 1969, ISBN: 0-913592-02-1)

This book was written by:Father John Powell, S.J., retired professor of Theology at Loyola University and author of several introspective books designed to provide insights into the workings of the human mind, including Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am?, Why Am I Afraid to Love?, Will the Real Me Please Stand Up?, A Reason to Live! A Reason to Die!, and Abortion, the Silent Holocaust.

[UPDATE: You may be afraid to tell who you are if, like the author, you are an alleged sex abuser.]

What is in this book: 167 pages of text and images used to explain the answer that the book provides on page 12: “I am afraid to tell you who I am, because, if I tell you who I am, you may not like who I am, and it’s all that I have.” Father Powell examines some of the ways in which we avoid telling each other who we really are, noting that to truly communicate on an authentic level, it is not only necessary to share our judgments such as “I think you are intelligent,”(p.59), but also the emotional reactions accompanying those judgments (e.g., “...and I am jealous,” “...and it makes me ill at ease with you,” “...and I feel the desire to humiliate you.”[p.59]).

What is not in this book: Timidity or ambiguity. Father Powell himself communicates authentically without using overly formal or confusing language. For example, as he explains that in order to relate to one another on the most genuine level of communication we must report our emotions at the time they are being experienced, noting that:

All communication must obviously respect not only the transmitter of the communication but also the receiver who is to accept the communication. Consequently, it could occur that, in the integration of my emotions, my judgment may dictate that this is not the opportune moment to report my emotional reaction. If the receiver is so emotionally disturbed himself that he could hardly be in a receptive mood, and my report would only be distorted somehow by his turbulent emotional state, it may be that I will have to defer this report.(p.78)

Would you recommend this book to Christine McVie? Not really. She wants you to tell her lies. Sweet little lies.

Would you recommend this book to someone in the witness protection program? No, I think that they’re pretty clear on why they don’t want to tell you who they are.

What was interesting about this book? The final chapter’s “catalog of games and roles,” which is completely unlike anything produced by Parker Brothers or Gary Gygax. This catalog describes the roles played by the loner, the hedonist, the poor mouth, the pouter, and the flirt, as well as the reasons behind some of the games that they play to keep us from finding out who they really are. While Father Powell notes that “most girls who play the ‘Sex-Bomb’ game do not do so because they really enjoy genital sexuality or because they are ‘highly sexed.’ It is rather because they feel they have nothing else to offer but a provocative body,”(p.162) he neglects to mention that the Sex-Bomb game is only a game until someone loses an eye. Then it’s eroticism.

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January 1, 2009

Get Ready to Make Money (I'm not talking to you)

EconAmerica: Why the American Economy Is Alive and Well ... And What that Means to Your Wallet by Jeff Thredgold (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2007, ISBN: 978-0-470-09698-7)

This book was written by: Jeff Thredgold, economic futurist and president of Thredgold Economic Associates. Mr. Thredgold is also humble, noting that “economists are wrong more often than we are right, for which we receive considerable and well-deserved abuse”(p.ix). This takes the some of the sting out of statements like his declarations that “Powerful gains in most home values, combined with stronger performance of the stock market in recent years, have given consumers a peace of mind that building ‘wealth’ for their future retirement or for the kids' college educations is working”(p.152) and that “Most forecasters expect overall [home] prices to move essentially sideways in 2007, with a return to rising home values in 2008 and 2009”(p.155).

What is in this book: Mr. Thredgold lists and discusses his four “silver bullets” that give him an optimistic view of the economy and his beliefs that “solid growth in 401(k) balances, more lucrative matching incentives by enlightened employers seeking to retrain skilled employees in an extremely tight labor market, and new programs enacted by the Congress to boost savings are in sight”(p.131).
The first bullet is the tight American labor market, because “an extremely tight American labor market in the coming years will boost real wages across the income spectrum”(p.29) and “Anemic growth in the American labor force over the next two decades in what is already a near-full employment economy will continue to enhance the real income gains of a majority of workers”(p.93).
The second bullet is that “politicians will be forced by the pressure of powerful financial markets and by constant media attention to set aside political rancor and work together to solve the entitlement funding and benefit issue”(p.58), which we can observe in the way that congress acted so swiftly—and so far in advance of widespread economic disaster—to pass the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, noted for its almost immediate positive effects on the economy.
The third bullet is that confidence “will allow long-term interest rates to remain at low levels, benefiting both home buyers and others who seek funding in the credit markets”(p.79), and we know it “will continue as the nation’s bond market—the Fed’s overseer—will simply not allow any return of irresponsible Federal Reserve monetary policy”(p.79).
Finally, “the stock market should continue to do well in the coming years”(p.148).

What is not in this book: Partisan bickering. Mr. Thredgold takes the high road and avoids trying to place the blame for economic woes. “It is no secret that the majority of the national media has a strong liberal bias. As a result, Republican policy initiatives are typically cast in a negative light, while any good news relative to the economy is relegated to the back pages”(p.51).

Would you recommend this book to Mel Gibson? No. Mel Gibson has Air America, which had explosions, better drugs, and Robert Downey, Jr.

Would you recommend this book to a werewolf? Yes. It may help him (or her) find silver bullets to be much less terrifying.

What was interesting about this book? Mr. Thredgold’s list of guaranteed American growth industries, which are financial planning, leisure and entertainment, and healthcare. However, Mr. Thredgold warns that our healthcare industry needs tort reform, control of rising prescription drug prices, the ability for insurance providers to compete across state lines, and incentive-offering wellness programs. “We are moving unavoidably in the direction of a government-sponsored, nationalized health care system,” which Mr. Thredgold finds “scary” because “Placing government in direct control of another one-sixth of the American economy does not lend itself to rising consumer comfort levels. One has only to look at a struggling Canadian universal health care system to draw such a conclusion”(p.137) That’s right, Canada, he calls your healthcare system “extremely expensive, largely broken, and in need of resuscitation”(p.186). Oh, snap!

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